Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Announcements Re: Facebook Use and Organizing a Resistance

Interoffice Memorandum

To: All employees at Karp, MacKenzie, LLC
From: Frank Rust, HR Manager
cc: File

Re: Announcements

Hi everyone! There are a couple of announcements I wanted to get out there.

Karaoke night! Once again Karp Mac is having its annual Karaoke night at Kamikaze's (a map is in your mailbox). We still don't have full participation, and I encourage you to dive right in. Many of you are working hard on the new accounts we acquired last week. You deserve a break. It'll be fun. That's an order. Don't make me come get you! :)

Fundraising at work. Selling candy and cookies for your child's sports team or scout troop is generally fine. We're all part of a family here, and we want to support each other in any way we can. But it shouldn't disrupt anyone's job. Please post a sign in the break room with your extension directing interested parties to contact you. Don't go desk to desk asking for participation. It puts people on the spot and creates a disturbance. The same goes true if you're trying to organize some kind of political group or "resistance." We encourage socializing here. But if you're scaring people with talk about an invasion you have to ask yourself whether that is appropriate for the workplace. After hours, sure. But not while we're getting a job done.

Facebook use. We try to be reasonable here at Karp Mac, and we know you have a life. Still, there's a limit. The rule about Facebook use is that you can check in before office hours and then on your lunch break. Sometimes people forget or have some kind of quick post they want to make. Fine. But when management finds a huge discussion thread right in the middle of the afternoon it doesn't look good -- especially when it's gossip about the office, which is unprofessional and hurts people's feelings (Not to mention untrue; no one at Karp Mac is unable to blink -- that's just bizarre). Don't be the person who gets Facebook banned at the office! :(

15 minute breaks. Your employee manual says you are allowed two 15 minute breaks per day for minor personal errands. But not if it causes a disruption. Hiding in the stairwell to broadcast some kind of message in Morse code on a radio transmitter is not a good use of your time.

Crazy Hat Day. As you recall it was postponed after the tragic accident with Ken. I haven't rescheduled it, because it might just bring up too many bad images. Let's put it on the back burner for now.

Coffeemaker. We've bought a new coffeemaker that makes lattes and espresso. It arrives tomorrow. Yay!

That's all. For now. Have a great day.

Continued here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Brothers Grimm and Ugly Justice

Everyone knows that the old, classic fairy tales are scary and violent. But when you dig into them -- particularly the Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm, two facts emerge:

1. Some of the nastiest, most violent parts of the stories are the supposedly happy endings, where the villains get their punishment. Those guys loved their capital punishment. The cruder the better. It was like they were Texans or something.

2. Also, they really liked putting people into contraptions or containers (Usually barrels. What is it with the barrels?) that had some kind of crazy Saw-style modification. Two of these stories are almost identical. They couldn't help themselves.

The King rejoiced when he heard that she was innocent, and they all lived in great unity until their death. The wicked step-mother was taken before the judge, and put into a barrel filled with boiling oil and venomous snakes, and died an evil death.
- The Twelve Brothers

Thereupon the King was full of great joy, but he kept the Queen hidden in a chamber until the Sunday, when the baby was to be christened. And when it was christened he said, "What does a person deserve who drags another out of bed and throws him in the water?" "The wretch deserves nothing better," answered the old woman, "than to be taken and put in a barrel stuck full of nails, and rolled down hill into the water." "Then," said the King, "Thou hast pronounced thine own sentence;" and he ordered such a barrel to be brought, and the old woman to be put into it with her daughter, and then the top was hammered on, and the barrel rolled down hill until it went into the river.
- The Three Little Men in the Wood

...the aged King asked the waiting-maid as a riddle, what a person deserved who had behaved in such and such a way to her master, and at the same time related the whole story, and asked what sentence such an one merited? Then the false bride said, "She deserves no better fate than to be stripped entirely naked, and put in a barrel which is studded inside with pointed nails, and two white horses should be harnessed to it, which will drag her along through one street after another, till she is dead." "It is thou," said the aged King, "and thou hast pronounced thine own sentence, and thus shall it be done unto thee."

- The Goose Girl

When the woman saw her husband, she was thunderstruck, and fell on her knees and begged for mercy. The King said, "There is no mercy. He was ready to die with thee and restored thee to life again, but thou hast murdered him in his sleep, and shalt receive the reward that thou deservest." Then she was placed with her accomplice in a ship which had been pierced with holes, and sent out to sea, where they soon sank amid the waves.
- The Three Snake-Leaves

The King understood it all, and caused the ground below the bridge to be dug up, and then the whole skeleton of the murdered man came to light. The wicked brother could not deny the deed, and was sewn up in a sack and drowned. But the bones of the murdered man were laid to rest in a beautiful tomb in the churchyard.
- The Singing Bone

When the wedding with the King's son had to be celebrated, the two false sisters came and wanted to get into favour with Cinderella and share her good fortune. When the betrothed couple went to church, the elder was at the right side and the younger at the left, and the pigeons pecked out one eye of each of them. Afterwards as they came back, the elder was at the left, and the younger at the right, and then the pigeons pecked out the other eye of each. And thus, for their wickedness and falsehood, they were punished with blindness as long as they lived.
- Cinderella

Then she told the King the evil deed which the wicked witch and her daughter had been guilty of towards her. The King ordered both to be led before the judge, and judgment was delivered against them. The daughter was taken into the forest where she was torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the witch was cast into the fire and miserably burnt.
- Brother and Sister

"The Ghost And Mr. Chicken" -- The Greatest Horror Movie... Or The Greatest Movie, Period?

Critics will be arguing about this for years, and I don't pretend to have any special insight. While Orson Welles himself reportedly wept on his deathbed, despondent that he was never able to create anything as sublime as Chicken, some cineastes maintain that he created a movie about a newspaper publisher which featured moments equal to Don Knotts' 1966 masterpiece. I have not seen the film, and don't plan to, but the point is debatable.

Above is the trailer, but fortunately some thoughtful and possibly insane person has posted the entire film on Youtube in nine parts. Begin your cinematic journey here.

But wait! When you first see the haunted house it will look very familiar. According to IMDB it's on a Universal backlot, the same one where Desperate Housewives was shot. And Wikipedia has it that it's the same haunted house where the Munsters live. But anyone who actually looks at the thing will be skeptical. However, the Psycho house looks exactly like it. And according to Wikipedia it was on a part of the Universal backlot designated as Colonial Street, where Chicken was filmed.

So if Wikipedia is wrong you can always use Wikipedia to check it. Good to know!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Image of the Devil

Why does the devil look the way he does in art and literature? The scholar Jeffrey Burton Russell has written a wonderful series of books on the history of Scratch, and his opening text has some answers. The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity describes the dark gods and mythological creatures from the ancient world that influenced how we see Satan.

Charun (pictured above), who's name is derived from the Greek boatman of the Styx, is the Etruscan god of the dead. And according to Russell "the attributes assigned to him, passing from Etruscan into Roman art and legend, had their ultimate influence upon the Christian iconography of the Devil."

He continues:

Charun has a huge, hooked nose, similar to a bird's beak; he has a shaggy beard and hair, with long pointed, bestial ears, grinding teeth and grimacing lips; his color is often dark blue (It is possible that the hairy shape was derived from Greek satyrs or Pan.) Sometimes he is shown with wings or with serpents growing from his body. All these characteristics are found in medieval and modern figures of the Devil.
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