Friday, January 18, 2008

Heil Xenu!

A couple of tangentially-connected follow-up thoughts after the last book review:

There's a sub-plot in the book regarding a plot to assassinate Hitler with a bomb. This mirrors quite closely the real-life plot to assassinate Hitler in a similar way carried out by a group of German army officers in 1944, most famously Claus von Stauffenberg. There's a new film, Valkyrie, in the pipeline which portrays the events leading up to the assassination attempt (which failed because the meeting where the bomb was to be detonated was moved at the last minute from a concrete-lined bunker to a wooden hut, and because the bomb was placed under a sturdy oak table which shielded Hitler from most of the blast), and there's been some highly entertaining furore surrounding the involvement of the actor playing von Stauffenberg, Tom Cruise. The Germans take (as I've mentioned before) an admirably no-nonsense position on the legal status of the sinister cult aka massive organised crime syndicate aka The Church of Scientology that Cruise is an increasingly unhinged proselytiser for, and were not too keen on allowing Cruise and the production company access to certain sensitive military sites, a position seemingly motivated by nothing more than a desire to be as surly and uncooperative as possible, an attitude I find myself in complete sympathy with. I understand all these "misunderstandings" have now been "smoothed over", which I guess proves that money talks, and it's persuasive. Or possibly that money doesn't talk, it swears. Take your pick.

Anyone inclined to give Cruise the benefit of the doubt over his loony sofa antics on the Oprah Winfrey Show and his unedifying spat with Brooke Shields over her post-natal depression should watch this video footage (made, as I understand it, as motivational material intended to be distrbuted among the Scientologist community only) and be very, very alarmed. Since the Scientologists deem themselves qualified to give completely unfounded psychological diagnoses, I offer you this one: Cruise had a difficult relationship with his father and was bullied at school. He's also quite short. Look into his eyes and listen to that maniacal cackle: this is a deeply confused and frightened man. Danny Baker used to do a bit on his radio show where he'd go through one of the day's newpapers, pick suitable full-face photographs of celebs and biro the word TURMOIL on their forehead (other photos would have WE FEAR CHANGE daubed on them if that seemed more appropriate). Which you'd think wouldn't really work on radio, but it was very funny. I've had a go at replicating it here: see what you think.

Well, I went on a bit there, so I'll keep the second one short: back in 2000 my friends Mario and Smeg and I joined a motley band of travellers for an overland adventure trip through southern Africa (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, specifically) organised by the good people at Guerba World Travel. Our fellow adventurers were from all over the world, and included a young German lady who caught Mario's eye. So far, so good. However - knowing in advance that there'd be a lot of sitting around in the back of a truck involved, we'd all brought some nice fat books with us to read. Mario's choice of reading matter was, erm, Hitler's Willing Executioners by Daniel Goldhagen. Cue a lot of hilarious sitcom-style shenanigans to keep this a secret from the lady in question - suggesting that her immediate ancestors were probably anti-semitic murdering fanatics not being much of an aid to seduction, in general.

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