Friday, April 29, 2005

She Wants Me

by Johnny Le Cad, dream boat

Did you see the way that girl looked at me just then? I'm telling you - she wants me. Bad. Practically drooling at the sight of me. I think it's this new deoderant I'm wearing. Have you seen the ads? One whiff of the stuff and women are rendered slaves to my Arctic Ice-scented whim. It even comes with a complimentary condom, which is a nice gesture, if grossly inadequate. Spray this stuff on your pits, and you'll need more than one love balloon to get you through the day!

I've got to say I'm pleased. All my life I've been searching for that special scent, that mythical philtre, that would enable me to snare the woman of my dreams. I've tried them all: tiger penis, owl jowl, cock's cock. None of them worked. Once - and I'm telling you this in the strictest confidence - once I hung a sprig of mistletoe from my belt buckle. Did it work? Did it hell! Got me plenty of strange looks on the bus, but nothing in the way of "kiss beneath the mistletoe" action.

Not that I need artificial enhancement. The deoderant and all the rest is merely a nod to convention. If I didn't wear it, there'd be chaos. What can I say? The ladies can't get enough of me. Look, see that girl there. No, the brunette. I slept with her yesterday. I'd say hello, but she might be embarrassed to see me. Sometimes girls don't like to be reminded of the things they've done in the sack, and I respect that. What happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom. Like with your sister. I'm not going to tell you all the sick shit I got up to with her. Not that you want to know. Do you?

I know things are a bit slow for you right now. You're probably used to it, though, so I guess it's not such an ordeal. My advice? Get yourself some deoderant. Just because my raw pheremones'll give a lady the feral moans doesn't mean yours will. And those sweat stains aren't attractive. Other than that, a new shirt and decent shave wouldn't hurt. And stay well away from me. There's no way you can compete with my magical leg-opening smile, so why try?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Tribute Album Pays Tribute To Bands That Have Paid Tribute

A tribute album released this week aims to highlight the achievements of contributors to tribute albums. A Tribute To: A Tribute To Bands That Have Paid Tribute features twelve up-and-coming local bands, covering classic cover versions that have appeared on other tribute albums.

Mark Spark, founder of Good Freak Records and co-ordinator of the A Tribute To project, says the album performs the dual role of exposing listeners to new acts and honouring those who have paid tribute in the past.

"A band like [A Tribute To participant] Crucial Rust have spent years playing pubs, without getting the recognition they deserve," Spark says. "But once people hear their cover of Four Non Blondes' cover of Zeppelin's 'Misty Mountain Hop' from Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin, I predict big things, maybe even community radio airplay."

Other highlights include Little Mario's rendition of Body Count's cover of "Hey Joe" from Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix, the Electric Arseclowns' take on Decembers January's contribution to Many Miles Away: A Tribute to the Police, and Pliant Giant's version of Sense Field's cover of "Caribou" from Where Is My Mind: A Tribute to the Pixies.

Spark says the project was inspired by the recent success of his label's Grope the Pope: A Punk Tribute to John Paul II compilation.

"It really struck a cord. Some of the bands who contributed to that album are now getting two, maybe even three, gigs a month."

Spark expects still greater things from A Tribute To.

"A bunch of unknown bands performing covers of other unknown or barely known bands' covers of well-known songs - how can it fail? Frankly, I think we've got a number one album on our hands."

Monday, April 25, 2005

We're All Disgusting On The Inside

by Mr C.A. Jones, educator

Today, children, I want to talk about difference. As I look at your smiling faces - Billy, don't rub that thing on Kathryn, thank you - I see that some of you have blue eyes, some of you have brown eyes, and some of you have green eyes. Yes, Jessica, we're all aware that Caitlyn has no eyes - that is precisely my point. Eye colour - or indeed how many eyes we actually have - is one of the many ways we may differ from other people.

Another is by our skin colour. Most of you have pale skin, but there are some exceptions. Billy, as you may have noticed, is a little black fellow. Agnes, on the other hand, is Chinese. Sorry - Vietnamese. Asians all look so similar to me! But it really doesn't matter, because Billy and Agnes are human beings, just like the rest of us, only with funny-coloured skin or squinting eyes. Billy and Agnes can't change the way they are, and neither should they wish to - we love them and respect them as much as we would if they were normal like us.

There are many other ways people can be different. Some people are tall, some short. Some people are fat, some thin. Some people are rich, some poor. Some people are happy, some live an existence permeated with loathing and dread, balanced above the precipice of self-destruction, only moments, perhaps, from toppling over the edge, thus ending the pain forever... Yes... Forever...

Yet, for all our differences, we are essentially the same inside. Inside, everybody is as disgusting as everybody else. Why right now, inside all of you, and inside of me, unimaginably repugnant processes are underway. Our breakfast is being digested, the waste product becoming poo-poo, or "faeces", as we adults call it. Blood is pumping, layers of fat are forming, the revolting grey paste of our brains is doing its thing. Perhaps the first stages of what will ultimately bring us to our miserable death are beginning - cancer cells developing, aortas clogging with gunk, brain tumours swelling. Yes, inside, we are all disgusting, we all have icky pulsing organs, kilometres of revolting intestine, goo-dispensing glands, and all the other horrible bits and pieces God saw fit to stock us with.

So, children, the lesson is that despite our superficial differences, we are really all the same. Now, if Billy and Agnes would like to excuse themselves and head over to their Special Table, the rest of the class can get on with learning the words to the National Anthem...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

West African Fighting Rabbit

The West African Fighting Rabbit (cuniculus mors mortis) first came to the attention of Europeans following Captain James Spiff's misguided 1878 expedition through the southern Sahara in search of the fabled city of Adelaide. Spiff's party included a number of scientific observers, including Dr Julius Lippy, the infamous "naturist naturalist" whose frequent nudity caused great tension amongst the fashionably prudish exploration party.

One afternoon, while sunning his flanks on a dune, Dr Lippy was startled by a persistent screeching noise, which he compared in his diary to "bats in the throes of passion, or perhaps Katherine [Lippy's wife] squeezing forth yet another unwanted whelp". Searching for the origins of the noise, Dr Lippy crested a dune and was confronted by "a most singular scene":

"There were at least twenty of the brutes, gathered in a circle. They appeared to be rabbits or some sort of hare, although exceeding by many degrees the size we in Europe are accustomed to in such species. At intervals, each would lift his snout and let forth the screeching noise which had first altered me to their presence. There was something peculiarly ritualistic about the scene, and I found myself creeping closer, despite my fear, in order to better grasp what was happening.

"Soon, two particularly large specimens appeared from the dunes and entered the circle. The screeching became intolerable as the new arrivals squared off. All of a sudden, the two creatures ran at one another, and a fight began, the likes of which I have never dreamed of even during my darkest nights. Blood, fur, teeth, all contributed to a cloud of gore that all but excluded the combatants from view. I know not why these animals should behave in such a way, but they were not fighting according to Queensbury rules, that is for certain."

A few days later, Spiff's party met a band of nomads, with whom they exchanged greetings and goods. Dr Lippy asked them about the strange fighting rabbits he had seen. His diary entry for that day is as follows:

"The black told me that his people fear the rabbits (for I am convinced that is what they are). There have been cases where livestock and even children have fallen victim to the brutes, and they are held to have demonic powers that enable them to see at night as though it were day. The fellow then told me to put some pants on, so I ran him through with my machette. Dinner: mutton washed down with hock. Everybody in good spirits."

Sometime in the next day or two, the party came under attack and were slaughtered. Their partially-devoured bodies were discovered by traders several days later. Discarded carrot tops nearby led to speculation that Lippy's rabbits had perpetrated the attack, but the evidence was never conclusive. Still, Victorian England's imagination had been fired, and the so-called "Death Bunnies" became a cause celebre.

As is the way with such things, however, some new fad quickly took the place of Lippy's rabbits in the public consciousness, and it was sixty-four years before the animals were rediscovered by Westerners. In 1942, an American fighter pilot crash-landed in southern Morrocco and stumbled upon a burrow of the rabbits. They took him in, and by the time he was rescued, the young man had assimilated to such a degree that he was participating in many of the rabbit's rituals, including the gladiatorial combat described in Lippy's diary. The unfortunate pilot was committed to a military psychiatric hospital, and remained there until 1957 when he managed to gnaw through his cell wall and escape.

The US army was quick to see the military applications of such formidably tough animals. West African Fighting Rabbits, as they became known, were used extensively to guard military installations, and to accompany specially-trained infantry squads. Although the Allied tanks are often credited with forcing back the Germans following D-Day, the Fighting Rabbits also played a key role, slipping through the Nazi defenses, sabotaging communication equipment, and eating the Wehrmacht's stock of fresh vegetables.

Since the war, West African Fighting Rabbits have become popular with those seeking exotic domestic companions. The problems inherent in this trend are obvious. For one thing, the average WAFR is around the same size as a Labrador, with front teeth some four inches long, and jaws capable of crushing human bone. Without strict training, the rabbit's natural aggression can lead to disaster, as in the recent case where an elderly gent was literally eaten alive by his WAFR when he failed to admit it to the backyard for its morning pee. In some parts of the United States, the feral WAFR problem has become so serious that residents are advised to carry bags of carrots to appease any hungry rabbits they might encounter. This fascinating animal is now viewed as a threat, and instead of being studied is hunted down and killed. We might pause to wonder what Dr Julius Lippy would think of that. Although, since he would probably applaud it, perhaps we might do better not to wonder at all.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Friday Five

The well of inspiration has run dry but a post is needed, so it's time to resort to some Standard Blog Filler. Please indulge me, therefore, as I list my current top five songs, and write a little comment about each one. Nothing funny, nothing satirical. Just a tired, slightly annoyed man's musical preferences on a Friday evening. Enjoy it, if you dare.

No Wow - The Kills

This song - indeed this whole album - makes me smile. So little music genuinely rocks, but "No Wow" does, albeit in a fairly restrained manner . What is being restrained, however, is a pretty furious-sounding guitar, while Alison Mosshart lays down some equally menacing vocals. Soon, the Kills' other member, Jamie Hince, joins Mosshart in telling us, repeatedly, "There ain't no wow, now", and I, for one, believe them.

Every Day I Love You Less and Less - Kaiser Chiefs

The Chiefs are a touch more flippant on the subject of love, their lyrical approach tending towards the direct and silly ("Everyday I love you less and less/I can't believe once you and me did sex"). You can dance to it (if you can dance - I can't); more importantly, you can sing to it. There's plenty of "ooh-oh" and "na-na-na-na" moments, and the lyrics are so simple that anybody can follow the bouncing ball.

Christmas Steps - Mogwai

Mogwai's finest ten minutes. A simple guitar line develops into a beautiful, understated "calm-before-the storm" section, which is dramatically undercut about four minutes in by an insistent bass that threatens to overwhelm the guitars. In response, the latter become louder and louder, faster and faster, and finally, the tension breaks and some incredibly satisfying hell breaks loose. Calm, however, is eventually restored. A violin floats in, allowing us to bask in its serenity, possibly while fanning ourselves with a magazine, saying things like "Oh, Mogwai, darling!" before lighting a triumphant cigarette with our burning foreheads. That's how it is at my place, anyway.

God's Away On Business - Tom Waits

If there's a better soundtrack to my general misanthropy than Tom Waits' Blood Money album, I am yet to hear it. "God's Away On Business" is one of the more jaunty tunes featured, and Tom gives it his all, employing his gruff, death metal vocal style while various horns and stringed things oompa and whine in the background. The song is even more effective if, while it's playing, you look at the album's front cover, where Mr Waits is depicted emerging from some sort of crimson mist, brandishing a deck of cards, and a facial expression suggesting nothing less than satanic possession or a severe case of hemmerhoids.

The Call of Ktulu - Metallica

The Lovecraftian title may have dated badly, but there's nothing dated about this instrumental from Ride the Lightning. Apart from its epic structure, that is. And the repetitive, precision riffing of James Hetfield. And the fretboard-molesting guitar solos. But it's still a great bit of thrash, and does what so few metal bands could do then or since: create a complex, yet genuinely engaging piece of instrumental music that is actually formally and thematically contiguous. In fact, if I had to choose one mid-eighties thrash metal instrumental named for a pulp horror story, this would be it, hands down.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Teenager's Drug Experiment A Success

Rachael Flange, 16, is pleased to announce that her first round of drug experimentation has yielded uniformly positive results.

"I'm just so happy with the outcome," she told Sterne in between lollipops. "You hear all these stories of people having negative results during the experimental stage, but so far all data points to me having a really good time in the future."

Flange's initial experiments were undertaken at a local laboratory (some guy named Rob's house) under clinical conditions last Saturday night.

"We were listening to some music, burning some candles, talking," said Flange. "Then the boys started passing around a bong and I thought, hey, what better time to experiment?"

The results of the experiment - published in an email to best friend Caitlyn McGraw the following day - indicate that "a wicked, trippy time" was had by all.

Flange has already scheduled her next round of experiments.

"Caitlyn and I are going to do some e's this weekend. Hopefully, the shit-faced matrix will remain stable if the input data is uncorrupted, otherwise the whole system will crash, which could see my parents withdraw my funding indefinitely."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Pacifier

a dialogue between Vin Diesel's pectoral muscles

Right Pectoral: Ah, my sinistral friend. Come and sit down. Let's discuss The Pacifier, in which you and I feature prominently.

Left Pectoral: When not obscured by one of Vin's myriad white t-shirts, that is.

R: True, but for every scene in which Vin is be-shirted, there are two in which you and I are given free reign to flicker and flex.

L: Yes. I maintain that the film was a mistake, though. A Disney film? Diaper jokes and lessons learned? Not exactly the kind of thing that springs to mind when Vin's name is mentioned.

R: I enjoyed it immensely.

L: What about all those gags about Vin having boobs. You realise they were directed at us, don't you?

R: Of course, but it was all in fun.

L: "Fun"? Psha! Fun has no place in a Vin Diesel film!

R: The kids seem to be enjoying it. Not so the critics, but what do you expect?

L: Oh yeah, my favourite was that guy...what's his name? What was his big line?

R: Um... ah yes. "Vin Diesel is awful. You'd be better off staying at home with un bouteille de vin rouge".

L: How pretentious is that?

R: Agreed, but it's bums on seats that count, not the ravings of some sniffy critic.

L: I also think that you and I were given precious little to do apart from standing around looking good.

R: I don't know. We offer good support in the fight with the ninjas, and the bit where Vin beats up the brother from Everybody Loves Raymond.

L: Pity it's a kid's flick. Wouldn't have minded a couple of sex scenes with the foxy mum from Gilmore Girls.

R: Tsk. Always taking it to the gutter, aren't you. This is what comes of hanging out with Arnie's pecs. It's all about titties and roids with pecs like that.

L: Hey, they're good guys. Don't forget Pumping Iron. Finest pec work in film history. Trailblazing.

R: I'm not denying their star qualities, just saying I don't have much time for their sort.

L: Anyway, surely you must admit that The Pacifier isn't exactly our finest hour.

R: I saw it recently and the cinema was packed with swooning teenage girls. I'd say job well done.

L: What do teenage girls know about art?

R: Very little. But they know what they like.

L: Now who's heading to the gutter?

R: Look, this conversation is getting old. I'm off to pump some weights. See you at the gym later?

L: Sure. Got to be prepared for Vin's next rubbish film. Probably a romantic comedy or some such crap, now that Ice Cube's taken over the XXX franchise.

R: So long as he gets his shirt off frequently and there are fights with ninjas, I'll be happy.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Indie Rock Snob Suicides After Unwittingly Enjoying Bloc Party Album

Melbourne rock snob Daniel Snide killed himself in the early hours of Sunday morning, having unwittingly enjoyed Bloc Party's Silent Alarm album at a party the night before.

Cameron Rollins, who attended the party with Snide, told Sterne that Snide had been tapping his fingers along to the CD for about twenty minutes when he asked who the band was.

"When I told him, he turned white. I thought he was going to be sick," Rollins said. "I knew Daniel was deliberately avoiding the Bloc Party album - he kept saying that kind of 'corporate shit' was beneath him, and he'd rather listen to 'real music' - but I didn't know he'd do himself in if he found he enjoyed it."

In the past few years, Snide has waged aggressive campaigns against a number of popular bands, including the Strokes, Franz Ferdinand and Interpol. Snide summed up his feelings in a September 2004 post to his Audiowhore blog, claiming that "modern rock music is little more than Starbucks for the ears of the braindead, mass-produced pap performed by plagiarising posuers with rock's blood on their hands," before going on to invoke the "legacy" of such indie luminaries as the Velvet Underground, Gang of Four, and Mission of Burma.

Snide's suicide note provides a disturbing insight into his emotional state.

"How can I face the world knowing I have made an intuitive judgment about a band based on my emotional response to their music rather than on a set of arbitrary, elitist criteria?" he wrote. "My entire personality is predicated on my unerring conviction that my own conception of rock credibility is universally true. How can I go on, having revealed myself for the snob that I am? Frankly, I don't even like music. The whole 'obsession' thing is just a cover for my innately superior attitude towards the world. It is time to go. See you soon, Ian [Curtis, late Joy Division singer with whom Snide professed an emotional, spiritual and artistic kinship]."

Snide will be buried next week in his favourite Iggy Pop & the Stooges t-shirt. In accordance with his final wishes, no Jet fans will be admitted.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Blog That Disappeared...For a Week

Having brought in the Doomsday Project on budget and ahead of schedule, thus ensuring the imminent destruction of civilisation as we know it, we at Sterne are giving ourselves a well-deserved break. Sterne will return on Monday, 18 April, with more of the usual rubbish. See you then...

Friday, April 08, 2005

Report: You Can Fuck Off And Die

A new report says you can fuck off and die, you miserable bitch.

Compiled by the Centre for Our Relationship Studies, the report upholds recent claims that you are a lying slut, a sadistic cow, and that you smell like mouldy cheese. It concludes that we are through, baby, so don't expect to find me here when you get home from "drinks with the girls" after work.

Researchers believe this report will be the last word on the subject, and will refute an earlier study which claimed I was an abusive drunk with a small penis who cheats at Monopoly.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow, one of the great novelists of the past fifty years, has died, aged 89. Bellow had a presence and intelligence that will be missed. His novels - including The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog, and Henderson the Rain King are amongst the finest of the twentieth century, and he continued turning out excellent work well into his eighties. Bellow's writing is noted for its acute observation, gentle wit, and larger-than-life characters, but of course such formulas can never convey the actual qualities of a writer. If you haven't tried Bellow, you ought to. He was one of the greats, and his death is terribly sad.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Revenge Is Sweet, But Not As Sweet As You

by Bruno "The Golden Taipan" Watts, death dealer

The day after my family was butchered by a gang of Chinese gangsters, I went shopping. Guns were acquired, lots of guns. Also, grenades, knives, bombs, and a motorcycle that shoots rockets from its handlebars. Let me tell you, revenge plays merry hell with your Amex.

I don't deny it: I had a death wish. Clad in the cammo gear I filched from my commando unit before my dishonourable discharge (lousy sergeant, tell me not to run with scissors!), I disappeared into the jungle. I didn't even bother taking any food. My wrath would be sustenance enough.

That first night I laid traps around the gang's compound, snaring a couple of guards. As I applied electrodes to their testicles - more to pass the time than out of any practical need - I thought of my family, barely cold in their graves. I cursed the moon, the stars, God Himself. My revenge, when it came, would be sweet, the sweetest thing in the world - or so I assumed at the time.

Of course I know different now. The day I launched my final assault on the compound, slaughtering machine-gun-toting lackeys in their hundreds, slitting throats and lobbing grenades, and generally wallowing in the bloody mayhem, was certainly a memorable day. But it was superseded by the day I met you.

The memory is vivid. I was lying in my cell, reading some trash from the prison library, wondering who they were going to give me as a cellmate. Old Bill had been fairly dull company, just a lifer waiting for death. I'm a lifer too, of course, but I was waiting for something else. Love? Well, perhaps. In any case, I knew the waiting had paid off when you walked in.

Things were awkward for a time, until you got settled. Slowly you warmed to me, and pretty soon we were up half the night, telling stories about our former lives. I'll never forget the way your eyes lit up when I told my tale of revenge. You were like a child - maybe even like one of the children you murdered before they caught you.

That day in the jungle - Judgment Day, I call it - I tasted life and death like few men have. Two moments were particularly satisfying. First, when I fired my bike's handlebar rockets, blowing a large hole in the thick concrete wall and causing sentries to plummet to their deaths. And second, when I faced the big boss, the one they call Dragon, in a one-on-one fight to the death.

At the time I thought it was the closest I would ever be to another man. We were locked in a mortal embrace, knives flashing as we circled, waiting for the next move. It was a moment of blissful anticipation, akin to those few seconds in the showers between the guard leaving and you dropping the soap. Eventually, the fight proper began. We must have spent twenty minutes slashing at one another, Dragon taunting me with visions of my family's suffering. He was a skilled fighter, but not as skilled as your man. I feinted, he shifted to the right, and I brought my knife up under his chin with such force that the tip emerged from the top of his skull.

It was a cathartic moment. My family had been avenged, eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth, and then some. I was covered with the blood of my enemies, so sated that I didn't resist when the police came and took me away. I didn't care. I had achieved closure.

Still, something was missing, and that something was you. As much as I enjoyed kneecapping Dragon's lieutenants, stuffing grenades down his guard dogs' throats, and disembowelling his kitchen staff, it all pales in comparison with you, my love. Your muffled gasp as I force myself on you in the depths of the night is like a symphony to my ears. Your threats to tell the warden are like beautiful poetry. Your tears when I beat you are like some glorious wine, fermented in the vat of my love. We are together forever, you and I, doing our time. And it is our time. Revenge was sweet, my dear, but not as sweet as you.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

New Play Slammed as "Too Stagey"

Critics have slammed playwright William Chop's new work as "too stagey" and "totally unrealistic". Artificial Horizons, which opened last week at the Killdawhidman Theatre in Brunswick, has attracted almost universal condemnation, damaging Chop's status as one of the giants of the Australian stage.

Jonathan Pitt-Shmith, theatre critic for The Age, called it "a stage-bound morality play in which the characters appear to be acting out dialogue written by somebody else."

Phil Honeytease, writing in The Big Tissue, thought the play "unrealistic". "Who could possibly believe that these people live on a raised rectangular platform, inside a house with only three walls, and in front of an audience of some two hundred people?"

Dale Gasper of The Kitchener St. Moustache said that while he admired Chop's daring, he could not approve the playwright's flights of fancy.

"For no apparent reason, Chop has a giant curtain shroud the stage every twenty minutes or so, leaving the audience in darkness, twiddling their thumbs. Frankly, if this is the way theatre is going, this reviewer wants no further part in it."

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Choose Your Own Opinion

With the death of Pope John Paul II, journalists around the world are sitting down to write opinion pieces about the pros and cons of his papacy, and speculating about what the whole business means. Rather than going the traditional route by telling you what we think, we here at Sterne have put together a Choose Your Own Opinion piece where you, the reader, call the shots. Simply start reading at [1] and follow the instructions to decide where your opinion goes next!

[1]

The death of Pope John Paul II is an event of monumental significance. The world's billion Catholics are in mourning, while for many outside that faith, the pontiff's passing will be a time to pause and reflect on his legacy, and on the role of religion in the twenty-first century.

If you feel that Pope John Paul II's reign was beneficial to the world at large, go to [7]. If you are critical of his papacy, go to [3].

[2]

Thus, in addition to being the spiritual leader of millions, Pope John Paul II was a warrior for freedom, a defender of democracy, and a great Polish patriot. It is this ability to apply the precepts of his faith to the problems of the temporal world, that will ensure John Paul's position as one of the great figures of the modern era.

If you would like to segue into a discussion of the Pope's humanitarianism, go to [12]. If you prefer to analyse his significance in a world where religion is becoming more influential, go to [5].

[3]

Unfortunately, the Pope has bequeathed the world a Catholic Church that is both more powerful and more irrelevant than when he was elected in 1978. Twenty years earlier, Pope John XXIII had called for an "aggiornamiento", a "bringing up to date" of an institution whose authoritarian heirachy and "holy isolation" was coming to seem ever more dated in a world quickly embracing democratic egalitarianism. The progressive changes wrought in the years following Vatican II have, however, been almost completely reversed in the last twenty-five years, and the power of the Pope himself has increased to the point of absolutism.

If you would like to discuss the Pope's humanitarianism, go to [12]. If you prefer to analyse his part in bringing down Soviet Communism, go to [10].

[4]

This can only be a good thing. In a world riven by hatred and violence, we need more people like John Paul II, people willing to live by the tenets of their faith, while never losing sight of the diversity of human belief, and the necessity of caring for all peoples. The contemplation of a greater force enriched the life of John Paul II, and he in turn has enriched our world. We owe him our thoughts, and our prayers.

The End

[5]

We appear to be entering a new era of spirituality, one in which faith is playing an ever more important role in our everyday lives, and in our politics. The death of Pope John Paul II will serve as another reminder of the power belief has in our world.

If you see an increase in the influence of religion as positive, go to [4]. If you see it as negative, go to [11].

[6]

John Paul was not afraid to ruffle some powerful feathers with his calls for a more peaceful world. He was perhaps the most prominent critic of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, while his insistence upon the essentially humanitarian basis of missionary work has brought its share of disapproval in the religion-phobic West. Yet from Africa to Asia, to the spiritually barren plains of post-Cold War Eastern Europe, the Pope has never shied away from spreading his vision of love and community.

If you would like to segue into a discussion of the Pope's part in bringing down Soviet Communism, go to [10]. If you prefer to analyse his significance in a world where religion is becoming more influential, go to [5].

[7]

John Paul II, for all his human faults and frailties, was a strong and principled leader, a beacon of hope in a cruel world. His was a reign remarkable for its vitality: the stocky pontiff, criss-crossing the globe, spreading the twin doctrines of faith and decency.

If you would like to discuss the Pope's humanitarianism, go to [12]. If you prefer to analyse his part in bringing down Soviet Communism, go to [10].

[8]

John Paul's actions, however, told a different story. The near-pacifism of his attitude towards armed conflict saw him condemn not only Serbian ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, but the 1999 NATO intervention intended to put an end to the atrocities. While espousing the dignity of the individual, his hardline stance on contraception, women's rights, and homosexuality has caused untold suffering and division. Finally, and perhaps most damningly, John Paul lobbied the British government to release Augusto Pinochet "for humanitarian reasons". While apparently unsympathetic towards the millions dying from AIDS, the Pope seems to have been quite willing to come to the assistance of fellow Cold Warriors, no matter how infamously cruel.

If you would like to segue into a discussion of the Pope's part in bringing down Soviet Communism, go to [10]. If you prefer to analyse his significance in a world where religion is becoming more influential, go to [5].

[9]

However, John Paul was motivated by more than the desire for a free Polish state. A life-long critic of Marxism, the Pope was at the vanguard of a conservative Christian front seeking to kill off Communism for good. As with many other Cold Warriors, John Paul subscribed to a "my enemy's enemy is my friend" philosophy, giving him close ties with such tyrannical luminaries as Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

If you would like to segue into a discussion of the Pope's humanitarianism, go to [12]. If you prefer to analyse his significance in a world where religion is becoming more influential, go to [5].

[10]

The Pope's contribution to the downfall of the Soviet Union is widely acknowledged. As a Cardinal in Communist Poland, he worked tirelessly to promote the Church, establishing it as an alternative power centre under the very eyes of the country's puppet government. As pontiff, John Paul was an influential supporter of Lech Walesa's Solidarity Trade Union, the movement which ultimately brought Poland independence.

If you would like to criticise the Pope's part in bringing down Soviet Communism, go to [9]. If you prefer to praise it, go to [2]

[11]

This can only be a bad thing. In a world riven by hatred and violence, we need less people like John Paul II, with their inflexible doctrines and authoritarian pronouncements. We need to recognise the diversity of human belief, and the necessity of caring for all peoples. The contemplation of a greater force may have enriched the life of John Paul II, but it tears our world apart a little more each day. We owe John Paul II our thoughts, if for nothing else than he was a survivor, but only a fool would offer him prayers.

The End

[12]

John Paul II often spoke against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and he was particularly concerned with humanitarian issues, maintaining that the dignity of the individual is the basis for all moral rights. Throughout his papacy, he was vocal in his condemnation of those who fail to respect this most essential of precepts.

If you would like to criticise the Pope's humanitarianism, go to [8]. If you prefer to praise it, got to [6].

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pretentious Parent Convicted Over Ulysses Incident

Camberwell man Colin Hancock was yesterday convicted on three accounts of willful pretentiousness, having been found guilty of reading James Joyce'’s Ulysses to his two year-old son late last year.

Handing down his verdict, Justice Michael Wedge said that Hancock had shown "“appalling pretentiousness"” and "“a complete and utter lack of concern for his child’s present and future humility"” when he exposed the boy to Joyce'’s modernist masterpiece.

“"I bet you played Schoenberg to the little tacker while he was in utero, too,”" Justice Wedge said, addressing an obviously shaken Hancock.

Outside the court, Hancock’'s lawyer made the following statement:

"“My client is obviously upset at the verdict but will abide peacefully by the court’s decision. He deeply regrets having read young Bertrand the book in question.”"

In his original police statement Hancock claimed that he had begun reading Ulysses aloud as a means of calming the child. Under cross-examination, however, he admitted that he had selected Ulysses for its “"pose-value"”, an admission backed up by Hancock’s wife, who confessed to having photographed her husband reading to Bertrand with a view to showing the pictures "to “friends at next week’s gallery opening”".

Hancock will face a firing squad next Thursday. Check local guides for broadcast times.