Thursday, May 5, 2016

Nineteen Eighty-four - The Reader's Digest version (Really!)

1984 - George Orwell. Covers displayed by a Google search

Ronald J. Jack
May 5, 2016

I have probably been guiding students through the 300-plus pages of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four far longer than is good for me,  but the job is not yet done. "1984" grows more influential each year, and it simply cannot be dispensed with.  Once young adults are convinced of its importance as a literary work, and its significance to modern political criticism, they commit to it, and finish the reading. However, too many students simply cannot read, or refuse to try. Here in British Columbia the novel is still in the Curriculum, but I know of teachers who simply show the movie, thus avoiding the obvious frustrations.  

Now and then I have caught myself giving up on a complainer, "Look, if I had a Reader's Digest edition I would give it to you!"  Frustration often peaks when we hit "Goldstein's book", or to be more precise,  "THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF OLIGARCHICAL COLLECTIVISM".

Image my surprise, and delight, to learn that there really was a Reader's Digest edition of Nineteen Eighty-four.  On Tuesday I encountered an old and very yellowed anthology, printed in postwar England. I paid my Loonie and carried home my prize.  As you will see for yourself, an un-named wordsmith had rendered the 312 page Orwell novel to a scant 29 pages!!!  Of course the irony is as thick as a mattress, given that very brutal process is the subject of the novel.  Winston Smith, a skilled employee of the Ministry of Truth,  spends his days destroying printed texts and condemned images, as well as rewriting other men's prose.

This Reader's Digest novel "condensation" is now 67 years old. Long out of print, it has no commercial value whatever.  And yet I did promise several students, if I had a copy...   So, as a gift to lazy students worldwide, I hereunder present you the scanned pages of George Orwell, his masterpiece gutted and trimmed as no literary work should ever be rendered. 

George Orwell's Literary Estate - the 2004 Sunday Times investigation

As an additional service, I would also point readers in the direction of a fascinating investigation into the fate of Eric Blair's literary estate.  Written by Tim Carroll and originally published by the SUNDAY TIMES in 2004, the scanned pages of the article "A WRITER WRONGED" can be read on the website called ORWELL TODAY.  The magazine cuttings are greatly reduced from the original page size, so I have enhanced them a bit,  and share them again here.

Orwell - A Writer Wronged, by Tim Carroll (2004)

Orwell - A Writer Wronged, by Tim Carroll (2004)

The READER'S DIGEST version (Sept. 1949)

1984 by George Orwell - the Reader's Digest 1949, Introduction

1984 - The Reader's Digest version, 29 pages long

1984 - The READER'S DIGEST condensation - 29 pages

Nineteen Eighty-four, The READER'S DIGEST version, 29 pages

Nineteen Eighty-four, George Orwell, READER'S DIGEST, 1949

1984 - Official trailer on YOUTUBE, high school student's posted comment

This is a screen grab from the DVD edition of NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR.  I checked for the official movie trailer on YOUTUBE today, and read a few of the posted comments. I don't know where Amy Cardenas is living, but I would believe Vancouver, Canada. Her experience matches what I have observed.

Amy Cardenas - the apple who makes a difference

George Orwell - 1984, READER'S DIGEST condensed book, 1949

1984b- by George Orwell, The Reader's Digest version = 29 pages

Nineteen Eighty-four by George Orwell, First edition, London 1949
Book collectors, (and I am one) often favour one edition of a novel over all others.  I have Nineteen Eighty-four in several editions as well as audio and video products,  but I suppose I do prefer the Penguin paperback edition that I encountered in high school English class.  The first London edition (above) had a jacket designed by Michael Kennard. He superimposed the novels title over the numeral "1984".   Students of today's FACEBOOK - TWITTER generation (who are easily bored by vocabulary) often consider spelling out the year date to be a fussy pretence, even after reading the opening line: "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." By the end of the novel they are receptive to Orwell's ideas about language as employed by totalitarian authority.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Margaret Trudeau's Bum

Canadian Folk Culture images selected from 
the RUNAGATES CLUB digital archives,

by  Ronald J. Jack

Most Canadians of middle-age (my age) have seen photographs of Margaret Trudeau's... "bum".  The word bum is of course, a euphemism.  Canadian slang for what Margaret flashed to the paparazzi is her "beaver", although folks today are more direct.

So why did Maggie's "bum" become a political story back in 1979?  

Margaret Trudeau campaign button - 1979 or 1980 Federal election

Pierre Elliott Trudeau resigned his party leadership following its defeat in the 1979 Federal Election.  The LIBERAL PARTY was thrown into chaos and could not find a new leader.  The pitiful TORY government under Joe Clark collapsed after only a few months, and Trudeau rushed back  to lead his party in a crushing defeat of the CONSERVATIVES.

I was at university during both Federal elections and I considered both federal parties archaic and corrupt.  During the 1980 Canadian Federal Election, though busy with my studies,  I was asked to work as campaign manager for the LIBERTARIAN candidate in Fredericton, N.B.  We didn't have a pot to piss in,  no campaign buttons or lawn signs, but we offered an alternative to voters in the UNB campus area.  I was aware that Trudeau's wife had disgraced herself in New York, but I had not seen what many Canadians had seen - the photographs in HIGH SOCIETY magazine.

Margaret Trudeau - cover of HIGH SOCIETY, September 1979

In 1979 Margaret Trudeau was separated from her husband, promoting her memoirs,  and trying to establish herself as a serious career woman. Trading on her fame as the wife of Canada's "playboy" prime minister,  she spent too much time in New York nightclubs, including STUDIO 54,  where she mixed with bigger egos and competed for attention. Her chosen stratagem was to deliberately hitch up her skirt and expose herself to photographers.  

HIGH SOCIETY magazine (two million copy circulation in 1979) bought a few photos and decided to give Mrs. Trudeau the cover.  In August of 1979 Canadians were salivating to get their hands on a copy. When a Canadian reporter questioned the magazine's motives, the editor responded: "She's a public figure. If she doesn't want this kind of attention, then I think she should keep her panties on."

Margaret Trudeau poses without panties, New York 1979

The insinuation had always been that the pussy photos had damaged the Liberals, but I don't think that was true.  In the region of Canada I come from, the Maritime Provinces, you needed few excuses to denigrate your political opponent.  I do recall hollow comments at the time like, "If he can't control his wife, how can he run the country?"  Any honest critic had to admit the truth - that Pierre Trudeau was a master tactician,  and he would continue Lord it over Canada as long as it pleased him. 

I was not one of those mocking the Emperor for his wife's indecent exposure,  because at the time I just didn't think Margaret Trudeau was interesting in any respect.  And I was far too serious in my studies to think of  buying a trashy magazine to snicker over.

Margaret Trudeau at STUDIO 54 - exposing her vagina to cameras

But something odd happened.  In the summer of 1984 I was invited to travel to Taiwan to join with representatives from twenty-four countries  on a fact-finding tour. We were introduced to dozens of top business and political leaders, and toured everything of interest in the country including military bases.  As the sole delegate representing Canada, I was approached by a radio reporter from South African Broadcasting who was doing a story on the cultural exchange.  I just couldn't fathom  his initial question.  A full five years after the Margaret Trudeau photo-scandal, a reporter wanted me to record what Canadians thought about her behaviour.  Now, Maggie's hairy monkey hadn't meant a thing to me, but I had to respond with something worthy of his recording tape. But I'm sure I disappointed him.

I found interesting employment in Taiwan and stayed for a few years, but on return to Canada I did eventually encounter the infamous edition of HIGH SOCIETY.  The shots of Maggie's pudenda are not so hot, but they are reflective of where society was already headed.  Margaret's mania was only limited by technology.  Had she a cellphone back in 1979,  Mrs. Trudeau would have taken her own crotch-shots and posted them all over Social Media.  Showing your body to the world is a rather obligatory stunt among the truly desperate in 2016.  It was sad then, and it is boring today.

Margaret Trudeau - posing in a bathing suit, 1979

It might amaze a few readers to know that the assorted Trudeau scandals have been studied by serious  scholars, including Canadian folklorists.  One research paper I have at hand is a collection of Trudeauisms, including satire songs and jokes. Two of the more amusing are:

Q:  What has the most fingerprints - the RCMP,  CIA  or MTA?
A:  MTA - Margaret Trudeau's ass.

Q:  What do Margaret Trudeau and Maureen McTeer have in common?
A:  They both like to blow a little dope? 

[Ms. McTeer was P.M. Joe Clark's wife.   Margaret Trudeau was widely known to be an addictive pot smoker.  She passed that pleasure on to her son Justin.]

"MARGARET" - satire recorded by Toronto disc jockey Frank Proctor
D-jay Frank Proctor recorded the satire "MARGARET" in 1977,
but it got banned from Canadian radio after a few weeks. The
song predated Maggie's display of pudenda by two years.
The recording is on YOUTUBE.  Just jump to MARGARET.

WIKIPEDIA articles often discuss a given events "Cultural Impact", or how often it is referenced  or parodied in the Popular Culture. There is certainly other Trudeau trash besides the campaign button I could share here in the Blog, but perhaps the most interesting referent is a printed album jacket produced in Vancouver in 1979.  It is for the punk rock band "D.O.A."  who recorded a record entitled "TRIUMPH OF THE IGNOROIDS".  The first pressing off the record was 1000 copies and it sold out instantly... perhaps a testament to the qualities of the music, or maybe because buyers sensed that a shot of Margaret Trudeau's hairy snatch might amuse their friends.

D.O.A. - Vancouver punk band -  1979 Margaret Trudeau album cover

Trudeau went into deep psycho-therapy and claimed to have given up the recreational drugs.  But there is is some evidence that she never managed to pull herself together.  All through her life she continued to act weird, especially when anyone pointed a camera at her.

Margaret Trudeau exposes her naked son  Kyle to camera, Ottawa 1979

Following the election of another Trudeau in 2015,  CBC meat puppets and journal fawned over the Trudeau's like they were witnessing the second coming of "Camelot". One of the more obnoxious suggestions came from a very senior reporter - Neil MacDonald, who wrote a column "Let's give Margaret Trudeau the credit she deserves".  If at some point in life I had been lobotomized, I would be his man.  The myth making was well and truly underway.  Today's blog is for those Canadians who value historical memory. I doubt any of this material is preserved in the collection of our National Archives in Ottawa.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Classic VOLVO Advertising - Mocking Planned Obsolesence Didn't Defeat It

Classic VOLVO ad - Your symbol has just lost its status

This VOLVO advertisement from the 1960s is more
relevant than ever.  Our expensive products are made
redundant and valueless at a very alarming rate.

Classic VOLVO ADS - A Gallery of Greats
- Ronald J. Jack

All of us, I think, are annoyed by the constant failure of critical components in our household appliances, bathroom fixtures, consumer electronics and so much more. When they break or wear out, we are faced with disposing of the whole unit and buying a replacement. The alternative is living in a graveyard of failed technology. I recall going through eight drip coffee-makers (in every case a heating element failure) before switching to a simple French Press.  I burned through ten desktop laser printers before finding one that could  survive 24 months of light usage (a Brother DCP) and I  suffered the existence of a dozen pole lamps (all made in China, and priced from $50 to $300) fitted with extremely shoddy dial switches, before learning my lesson. Now I simply pull the plugs from the wall and NEVER reach for the damned switches.  

Today I watched a roofing crew rip off and replace my neighbours entire roof, because of a reported leak. The roof was just two years old. They quickly carted away the incriminating evidence - a truck load of new asphalt shingles and 20 sheets of new plywood sheathing. Insane waste. A "rip off" it was.

So what if the products we buy passed a C.S.A. bench test? So many gadgets are designed to fail we take it for granted that nothing we own is permanent.  Even if it was "Warranted"  most of the time it is is easier to junk the item than search for a receipt. Last week I acquired a used product that is 51 years old, cost  60 cents when new, and shows no sign of wearing out.  It is a copy of THE WASTE MAKERS, written by social critic Vance Packard. In his time, at the beginning of the Space Age, there was plenty of debate about the growing dependence of the U.S. economy on planned obsolescence, and the "ethics" of engineers who designed products that would fail on a schedule. At the time the book was published the jury was out, discussing the overwhelming evidence of industry building products that were programmed to fail. We now know the manufacturers won the case. Consumers lost and had to pay all costs. We are still paying.

Packard has chapters on the American automotive industry, and they are of course long out-of-date. Yet one constant remains - the drive to convince us that the cars we own are less desirable than new models in dealer showrooms. It is a pretty good guess that every copy-writer in the advertising industry read Packard's book, because industry counter-measures were not long in coming.

THE WASTE MAKERS - best=selling book by Vance Packard

Truth as a Counter-Measure
For a twenty year period, from about 1966 to 1986, the Swedish automobile manufacturer VOLVO,  ridiculed "planned obsolescence" in it marketing campaigns. You sometimes encounter their ads if you riffle through the pages of old magazines, and I have collected eight of them here. I hope you enjoy them.  VOLVO still employs very effective advertising, but the theme is different.

Classic VOLVO advertisement. "This is the eleven year car."
The VOLVO ad that really started it all:
"This is the eleven year car." [1966]

Classic VOLVO ad. "If you really want to impress someone..."
A companion VOLVO ad in 1966: "If you really want to
impress someone with your car, tell him it's paid for."

The point was made, but it got more interesting. "THE PAPER CAR"  With reference to BOTH  "planned obsolescence" and the reality of a new, "throw-away society"  the wasteful consumer became an accomplice of industry.

Classic VOLVO advertising 1967  - THE PAPER CAR

This VOLVO ad was the most forceful and blatant on the subject of
planned obsolescence and wasteful consumerism. [THE PAPER CAR! 1967]

Pop culture of the 1960s and 1970s was filled with
references to "The System"and social conformity.

In  1979 the campaign matured and VOLVO could literally harvest satisfied customers. Thirteen years had elapsed  and many of those 1966 sedans were still on the road.

Classic VOLVO advertising.  "13 years ago I bought this VOLVO because"
VOLVO ad 1979 - "13 Years Ago I Bought This Volvo
Because It Was Advertised As The 11 Year Car."

Note that the customer the advertisement featured was an historian. An expert on aboriginal art and culture. "13 years ago, William Stiles, an expert in American Indian history and artifacts, discover the treasure you see here: a 1966 Volvo."  How cool was that?  Yes, there really was a William Stiles, and there is a Canadian connection.  Stiles is featured on the SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION BLOG (Here).  After scoring points by showcasing an expert on well-made artifacts, the folks who ran the VOLVO ad campaign came up with another expert - a psychiatrist.

Classic VOLVO ad, 1980 "Anyone Who's Thinking of Spending $24,000"
In 1980, ad copy that is both clever and amusing:
"Anyone Who's Thinking of Spending $24,000 For A
Luxury Car Should Talk To A Psychiatrist."

In the Ad copy the psychiatrist is quoted: "In my opinion the individual buying this car would have a strong, unsuppressed need to get his or her money's worth. He or she would probably also have a strong enough self-image not to need a blatant status symbol."  Ouch!  That still hurts, 36 years later.

Classic VOLVO advertising - 1986 For Those Whose Values Haven't Changed

And then it was 1986.  VOLVO customers had worked hard and they had prospered. Another generation of buyers was prowling the car lots,  and certainly were influenced by clever advertising.  We end our gallery with this great display ad that certainly must have struck a chord with many satisfied drivers:  "The Car For People Whose Means Have Changed But Whose Values Haven't."  You are either that sort of person, or you are not.

I have never owned or even driven a VOLVO, but there are other quality vehicles on the roads. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hugh Glass Back From The Dead - THE REVENANT is Cinema Gold

Hugh Glass shoots an Indian in - THE REVENANT

A Response to a Cinematic Phenomenon
By Ronald J. Jack

After two weeks of 'gush',  is there anything left to say about THE REVENANT ?  Well, if you are Canadian like me, you might have something to throw in. We love this movie too, but perhaps for different reasons than our American cousins. We are starving for stories free of modern political ideologies, in which men and women also step away from our dependance on machine culture. Just two days before the movie opened in Canada, a Taiwan friend sent me a hot-link to a pirated Chinese edition, but I ignored him. I did not want to experience THE REVENANT through my iMac. We waited till the afternoon of January 8th to enjoy this impressive cinematic vision,  and I do attest that we got more than our money's worth.

In 1823 frontiersman Hugh Glass was clawed and chewed by a female grizzly, and then abandoned by his companions, who also stripped him of his prize Kentucky long-rifle and his "little fixens" (fire making tools and other essentials for survival).  Glass pulled himself from an open grave and began an epic crawl in pursuit of the thieves.  It is a much-told-tale of superhuman willpower and a man's burning determination to have his revenge.  In the movie the Glass motive for revenge is given some justification - for the murder of a half-breed son.  In addition the hate is tempered by to extreme winter conditions. In fact the weather becomes a character in THE REVENANT.  In American history, Hugh Glass was mauled in the summertime, but no matter.  No matter at all. The glory of this extraordinary film is its realism, not its devotion to reality.  No movie-goer will go home feeling cheated because Sam Peckinpah could not have delivered more violence, and Steven Spielberg could not have made the unreal more realistic.

The novel's title translated into German.


Actually when Hugh Glass was mauled in 1823, the word "revenant" did not yet exist in the English language, and it would not get any play for almost a century. In the original meaning, as coined  by French novelists in the 1820s, the word meant "one who returns after a long absence" and was even more commonly used as a synonym for "ghost".  Last summer when the trailer for THE REVENANT was web-published I looked up the meaning and it wasn't even in my dictionary. (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 6th Edition). It was startling to discover that the title had already been used for a zombie movie, and was fully woven into gothic fiction decades ago. But again, no matter.

LORD GRIZZLY - a novel by Frederick Manfred,  Signet paperback
The best available historical fiction detailing the life of Hugh Glass mountain man,
is LORD GRIZZLY by Frederick Manfred.  Trust me, I've researched all the novels!

The immediate and obvious comparison to Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of Hugh Glass in THE REVENANT, must be the Richard Harris performance in MAN IN THE WILDERNESS (1971).  "They couldn't find the time to bury him. They should have." (Poster below)  Mr. Harris made several Westerns including MAJOR DUNDEE for Peckinpah, and the sado-masochistic A MAN CALLED HORSE, (based on a short story) that  seemed the acme of Western  hyper-realism.  MAN IN THE WILDERNESS was shot in temperate Spain, without the chill intrusion of frost or flakes.  Leonardo DiCaprio has shown a willingness to endure misery and physical pain that Richard Harris would not have contracted to simulate. 

The 1971 Richard Harris movie made a film prop, a Missouri River flat-boat
an extra character.  In THE REVENANT the weather is definitely a character.


The original screenplay of THE REVENANT, was actually written rather close to the real-life telling of the Hugh Glass story.  The Movie Director is the ultimate creative voice and it was Alejandro Inarritu who made up supporting characters in the shooting script, a pretty aboriginal wife and a wilful son.  He was quite right in deciding that a 21st Century movie audience (and politicized film critics) would reject the actual motive of Hugh Glass in 1823, to hunt down the bastards who stole his prized flint-lock rifle.  

The first attempt by a professional writer to convey the Hugh Glass story into  prose,  was made by James E. Hall in 1825, and published by his brothers in Philadelphia.  "The Missouri Trapper" was first published in THE PORT FOLIO, in the March 1825 edition, and by the summer of that year it migrated into the pages of several newspapers in the U.S., British North America, and our shared Western Frontier. The provenance is rather interesting I think.  A literary stylist, Hall made Hugh Glass a romantic hero figure,  comparing his survival skills to those of Robinson Crusoe.  His essay was re-published intact by news sellers, and one Canadian newspaper gave it prominence. THE BRITISH COLONIST of Stanstead, Lower Canada (now the Province of Quebec) regularly culled news from American papers.  The July 21, 1825 edition of the Loyalist paper not only reprinted "The Missouri Trapper"  but supported it with two other stories lifted from THE MISSOURI ADVOCATE, the St. Louis newspaper that Hugh Glass himself would have read, before using it to wipe his ass. 

A knowledgeable Canadian reading "The Fur Trade" extracted from the St. Louis, must be amused to read the complaints about "the British" stealing American pelts from "our own territories".  Though we had lost the WAR OF 1812 most of the productive fur-yielding lands were then still our territory, but of course the Americans ultimately wrested it from us.  As well the St. Louis paper included the age-old commercial moan about government interference - "The British have the advantages of introducing their goods without payment of duties."  That same paper demanded that Washington  establish a fortress at the mouth of the Columbia River to interdict the flow ("smuggling") of furs by British ships loading there for China.  Hugh Glass was a Pennsylvanian, and would have Hurrahed such expansionist jingoism.

THE BRITISH COLONIST was a Loyalist newspaper published
on the Canada-U.S. border.  In 1825 it published the Hugh Glass story as news,
accompanied by anti-British commentary lifted from the MISSOURI ADVOCATE.

After watching a particularly good film, my inclination is always to do a little research.  I anticipate some fabulous extras on the DVD, but as an historian myself, I could not sit still for three whole months waiting for the Movie DVD to be published. I craved knowing more.  There are many factual books available on Hugh Glass and the larger-than-life  figures of the American fur-trading era, and an equal number of novels.  THE REVENANT is a "revenge" story, and given the American obsession with guns, it was interesting to learn that the modern novelist Michael Punke knows so little about them. Hugh Glass himself knew plenty about firearms. He had been a boy apprentice to a Pennsylvania gunsmith and he was an armed man his entire life.  Glass valued no horse or woman as highly as his rifle.

Map of British Fur Trading outposts in 1821 - THE REVENANT
The men of the North West Company were encouraged by their employers to marry
native women and put down roots among the tribes. The Hudson's Bay Company officially
discouraged employees from marrying natives. After the business merger "mixing" continued.


The Internet is now peppered with commentary about Mr. DiCaprio's new movie, much of it neither helpful nor informed. Typical of the remarks you will encounter are those of Rebecca Onion, who is to be found on SLATE, an online magazine.  Ms. Onion is "Slate's history writer" no less, who "also runs the site's history blog".   She promises her readers "Here's what we know about the historical Glass." offering a scantier and more dubious description than the average UFO sighting.  That is an apt analogy because Ms. Onion's piece is scoffing of the Glass story altogether. I am tempted to label her a plagiarist but that would be generous. She's basically a garden variety scrape and paste artist, who injures herself by poachng from even snarkier content than her own. A good example is her repeating the standard put-down of James Hall, author of the earliest published source material on Hugh Glass - "The Missouri Trapper".  Says Ms. Onion,  "That circus started with James Hall, a lawyer and aspiring writer who moved to Illinois to harvest stories of the American west."  Ah yes, Hall the hack.   This was a man who, when war came, left his study of the Law and joined the U.S. Army. He served at the Battle of Lundy's Lane and the Siege of Fort Erie. He was later assigned officer on a U.S. warship and sailed with Decatur in the 2nd Barbary War. After completing his studies his set up a law practice in Illinois and was later made a Judge. He wrote more than a dozen books, mostly American history and biography.  In fact James Hall would be eminently qualified to serve as SLATE'S history writer and Blog compiler, had he only lived to be 220 years old.

The point is folks, Hugh Glass was an extraordinary man and THE REVENANT is an amazing movie. As written by Mark L. Smith and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the much discussed grizzly bear attack is a composite of two incidents.  Hugh Glass and Jim Bridger were both mauled by bears.  If you haven't the patience to read a good book on Mountain Men,  (try Stanley Vestal  or John Myers Myers) just buy the DiCaprio movie. It is an education in itself.

Ron Luckenbill built THE REVENANT gun used by actor Leonardo De Caprio
Ron Luckenbill built two authentic  1820s flintlocks for THE REVENANT production 
company.  The project was profiled by his local newspaper. [photo by Amanda Jones]

One truly fascinating story associated with the production of the movie, was the recreation of the weapon carried by Hugh Glass, and stolen from him by Fitzgerald.  The website of The American Rifleman (Journal of NRA members) has an interesting article on the movie that mentions how a gunsmith was chosen to build a functioning replica arm.  Ron Luckenbill is an NRA member, a retired policeman and an accomplished gunsmith. He was contracted to build two flintlocks (the signature arm plus a spare) and ship them to the producers in British Columbia, Canada.  Our border agency created so much fuss over the first shipment, delaying its delivery to the film set with needless objections and red tape, that the production company had the second Luckenbill weapon hand-carried across the border to Vancouver.  While the first firearm was still being manufactured Luckenbill was requested to cut the barrel down ten full inches. (Maybe the Director felt it made DiCaprio appear too short in stature??) Luckenbill refused to do so, but clearly the Canadian armourer employed on the production was not so squeamish.  Both Hugh Glass weapons were cut down, and DiCaprio is shown in his scenes carrying a shortened flintlock.  Below is a screen capture that illustrates what I refer to.

THE REVENANT - the gun used by De Caprio to portray Hugh Glass
The fur traders retreat to the flat-boat.  This movie still illustrates the point about 
the band-crafted flintlocks Ron Luckenbill made for THE REVENANT. After delivery
to the movie makers, the flintlock barrel-length was reduced by about ten inches.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Weaponize your Hate - MR. AND MRS. MASSACRE terrorize San Bernardino


"Weaponize your Hate!" - a Heavy Metal lyric 

The NEW YORK TIMES has described them as "one of the most perplexing pairs in the recent history of mass homicide".

"They were living the American Dream." So claimed an acquaintance of the Muslim couple, quickly identified as Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik. Really?  He was born in California, but clearly was not coping. She was a new arrival, and never intended to assimilate. But before I go any further, let's be very clear about the U.S.A. in 2015. There is no longer an "American Dream".  Since 9/11 that comforting myth has morphed into an American Nightmare, and there is no evidence that the dreamers will ever awake.  I have written before in this Blog, and I confidently repeat, "Americans are Crazy".  Some will find that remark offensive, but it is an obvious conclusion.

Syed Farook - his university ID card with photo
Syed Rizwan Farook -  Mr. Massacre.
His California State University  ID card.

TELEVISED MAYHEM - Audio recording on the periphery of the kill zone - a Medical Centre in San Bernardino:  "Oh, that is scary!"  ... "They're all geared up! Rifles and everything!"

 On December 2, 2015 the news channels locked into the most recent American "mass shooting" and the video stream began hypnotizing millions of television viewers. I watched about ten minutes of Live Coverage on Al Jazeera, caught the gist of the story, and turned off the noise. I have observed "saturation" event coverage hundreds of times, with events stretching back to the 1970s, and I have learned to ignore the first day of the cycle. (The exception was 9/11 itself. Those images and that pain simply had to be shared and endured.) 

I could write the script on a typical A.M.S. (American Mass Shooting) and hand out pages to the participants.  I don't have to because there are already hundreds of thousands of copy writers worldwide who perform that function. The morning after, I woke refreshed and learned that the American news media (and the Obama White House) had classified this one as a Non-Terrorist massacre.  President Obama was hopeful the event was just a typical A.M.S. He said:
"It is possible that this was terrorist related, but we don't know. It is also possible that this was workplace related."
Now Barack Obama is no body's fool. He was just talking lawyer trash, stalling for time.

For three days the news media cooperated with the White House, downplaying the attack to a garden variety "Mass Shooting". The Americans have a definition for it... I kid you not.  A mass shooting is "any shooting of four or more people at one time".  The F.B.I. is a little fussier with their definition. It's still four or more, but the F.B.I. doesn't include mass killings by ghetto thugs or biker gangs. Those folks are outlaws, and their slaughter is just a little extra-judicial house cleaning.

Semantics also come into play when  deciding when a gunman gets to be labelled a "Terrorist".  When is it safe for the media to label an A.M.S.  a "Terrorist Attack"?   A) When the killers are proven members or self-confessed affiliates of a Terrorist Organizations on the U.S. State Department's Official List.  or B) When the shooter is identified as a "Right Wing, Christian Fundamentalist, Gun Lovin' whack job".  Those losers don't have to have an ideological affiliation. They are assumed to be Republican, and at large.   Big Government and its handmaiden Big Media, are the official arbiters of the Terror Lexicon.

Tashfeen Malik - Pakistani wife of Sayed Farook
Tashfeen Malik  - Mrs. Massacre.
One of her Pakistani ID cards.


The morning after - a screen grab documents the confusion 
and the deception. "Could be Terrorism"  Obama says.
"Attack Doesn't Fit Our Familiar Scripts". Whose scripts?

Mr. and Mrs. Massacre - Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were killed in a shootout with SWAT before they could upload their political manifesto or any of their attack video. (Like the recent Muslim monsters in Paris,  the San Bernardino terrorists were wearing GoPro video cameras.  This is standard ISIS methodology. Record and upload your gore to the Internet because only Coroner's juries will get to see images of the carnage left in the kill zone.  Video of an assault on the American "Homeland" would be a gift to Muslim fanatics worldwide, and their attack would be celebrated.  In fact it's not another San Bernardino-style attack the White House fears, it's the video of that next attack being enjoyed by millions of Muslim fanatics.

The really shocking fact about the carnage in California was that many in San Bernardino were not that terrorized.  Most bystanders were trying to be citizen reporters for a day, recording the action. Many of those evacuees who filed off buses were not hysterical or even reaching out to be hugged. I don't say they all took events in their stride, but this wasn't Columbine. In fact most of them were prepared for an attack.  Everyone in America who assembles each day in a large public building to work or study is being trained to respond, like Israelis, to sudden attacks.  Just as the American Public was trained to "Duck and Cover" during the first two decades of the Cold War, modern Americans are trained to "Shelter in Place", or if licensed to carry a weapon, to defend themselves.

As the concussion of rifle fire shook the walls of the INLAND REGIONAL CENTER, many of the trapped were taking cellphone videos. One nurse who recorded video, and shared it, pointed out that staff "have active shooter drills every month or so".  How nuts is that? A medical outreach facility holding anti-terror drills every other month!  Not to be outdone a College just up the street from the massacre site had its own "Active Shooter Drill" less than a week before (Nov. 30th). Hundreds of college students lay down and pretended to be be shooting victims, while SWAT teams moved about the simulated carnage and rooted out fake shooters. Jesus Christ, how insane is that?  Students play-acting their own deaths, doctors and nurses learning to "shelter in place", and then as if on cue, the neighbourhood terror cell springs from cover and gives them all a damned good workout. In fact the San Bernardino SWAT were running a training exercise nearby - suited up, fully armed and mobile - when the terrorists stormed a Christmas party at the Center.  Mr. Massacre, possibly having participated in "Active Shooter Drills", new better than to hole up, and so he and Mrs. Massacre got out so fast that SWAT missed them.

How crazy are Americans?  You can't judge an entire nation by their leading actors - politicians, the pantheon of celebrities and the editorial writers who hog the stage of public performance, but there is much hard evidence to ponder. A case in point: Remember those "Black Friday" feeding frenzies the Network News made so much of?  It turns out that Black Friday set an all-time record for gun sales in a single day.  The F.B.I. processed 185,345 gun sale background checks on that single day! [ref. TIME magazine website] Even nuttier, the Bureau processed  2,243,030 gun buyer records checks in the month of November 2015. Here is the kicker.  There are now several million assault rifles in private hands in the U.S.A.  - each and every one of them of sufficient lethality to produce its own "mass shooting". Now that's a statistic to scare the hell out of anyone down there who is still sane!

You can't make this shit up.  In America brutal gun violence is so routine that it doesn't really scare the hell out of anyone. Terrorism just pisses them and makes them buy more guns.  "Terrorism" is actually any act of extreme violence that satisfies the need of the TWO political factions to score points on each other. When the President responds each month to the "latest massacre" he has to measure his words very carefully, because bleeding bodies at the curb is not the issue.  The issue is whether that "latest massacre" hurts the chances of his party winning the upcoming election.  And the Republicans are no better. If they win the election they will let Homeland Security put mini-guns in every Precinct House in America.  Welcome to their Nightmare!

Hillary Clinton - San Bernardino Massacre Dec 2015
Hillary Clinton - She plans to become the Head Keeper of the American Bedlam

When news of Mr. and Mrs. Massacre hit Social Media, the Presidential hopefuls on each side of the American Divide took a deep breath, and chose their words with care. Hillary Clinton tweeted "I refuse to accept this as normal. We must take action to stop gun violence now."  Well Hillary, as Queen of National Dysfunction must know that "Mass Shootings" are now a staple of American middle-class political expression.  (Assault weapons, ammo and tactical gear cost thousands of dollars.)  They are certainly the new norm.  Obama know it, because one of his very first actions when elected, was to draft and pass a law requiring the Secret Service to protect his wife and their children for the rest of their lives. His family is the only American Family, protected by Federal Agents, forever.  Even the Clinton's don't have that.  If the Democrats grab guns, the Democrats lose power. He'll tinker and toy, but he won't confiscate.  Hillary, if victorious, will only further militarize American cities, and double the Orwellian surveillance.   None of the totalitarian surveillance and domestic firepower stopped Mr. Farook and Ms. Malik, nor could it have.


Tashfeen Malik arriving in the U.S., July 27, 2014  (US  Official Photo)
This photo is priceless!  It shows Muslim Terrorist Tashfeen Malik
arriving in the U.S. from Saudi Arabia on July 27, 2014.  (Saudi Arabia 
was also the origin of almost all of the "radicalized"  9/11 Terrorists.)
She is entering the MOST heavily defended and most surveilled nation
on earth, and she has already defeated her enemy. Cool as a cucumber!

THE SAN BERNARDINO MASSACRE VICTIMS HAD PRACTICED AN "ACTIVE SHOOTER DRILL" in the very room they were all murdered. It's astounding! 

We now know why Mr. and Mrs. Massacre chose as their terror target a center for the developmentally disabled.  THE ROOM was the target, NOT the health facility.  The room in Building Three was the venue for their "annual training and Christmas potluck party".   What training?  Well last year it included an "Active Shooter Drill".  So picture this... one year ago Farook attends an Active Shooter Drill. He goes home and the couple discusses what he learned.  They look at each other and share a laugh. "They think they can protect themselves from the justice of Allah! Hah, those American fools."  They begin stockpiling weapons in earnest, and we now know, a week before their attack they went twice to a nearby gun range to practice shooting weapons.  On December 2nd Mr. Farook was the first to arrive at the "party", and when the conference room was full he left to collect his wife. She was waiting. They had already given their baby into the care of the grandmother.  Every planning detail was already covered - the black SUV,  the black clothing and black masks, the pipe bombs, and their arsenal.  The only thing missing was a black I.S.I.S. flag. 

"They considered Farook a friend."  When he and his wife stormed the room, the party goers did exactly as they had been trained to do in the Active Shooter Drill.  They scattered and sheltered behind overturned trestle tables and other upended furniture. Some feigned death, pretending they had already been shot. But there was insufficient cover for so many people.  The survivors recognized their co-worker and his wife, and using cellphones they immediately began calling in precise details to local law enforcement. Mr. and Mrs. Massacre fled the scene and the chase was on. SWAT wa already deployed.


Even if...if, the Americans ever won the "War on Terror",  they now have a worse problem on their doorstep.  A frightened political class protecting itself with "Homeland Security"  and a suspicious civil population arming itself against oppressive government. There is no possibility of this turning out well.

UPDATE: Bitter Humour Department
Dec. 12, 2015 - there is this from the N.Y. TIMES this morning:

The Americans record everything on the Internet. EVERYTHING. But they don't read it.
Look at that face.  She makes me think of think of Kipling...

"When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier