The winter of 2015

Not as much snow as our northern friends, but no less beautiful...

The artwork of Cameron Hobbs

A young artist to watch out for.

Tammy the Pup approves of new look!

Semi-psychotic pooch gives two paws-up to The Knight Shift's overhaul.

Movies I've Never Seen: THE BIG LEBOWSKI

"It really tied the room together."

Catherine Rose: genius, pioneer, mother

A story of love, creativity, and perfect timing.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

PATRIOT Act denied son Constitutional rights, says North Carolina mom

This early on in the reporting of the story, I'll admit to wondering if there's more to this. But knowing what I do about how damned abusive and corrupt our own government has become, I'm also inclined to take this family at their word.

Sixteen-year-old Ashton Lundeby, of Oxford in Granville County, North Carolina (not far from Raleigh) was the subject of a raid by federal agents who handcuffed him and took a LOT of his personal possessions. The feds claim that Lundeby made a bomb threat, but the family denies the charge, saying that someone hacked into their IP address and made crank calls through the Internet.

And now...

Ashton now sits in a juvenile facility in South Bend, Ind. His mother has had little access to him since his arrest. She has gone to her state representatives as well as attorneys, seeking assistance, but, she said, there is nothing she can do.

Lundeby said the USA Patriot Act stripped her son of his due process rights.

"We have no rights under the Patriot Act to even defend them, because the Patriot Act basically supersedes the Constitution," she said. "It wasn't intended to drag your barely 16-year-old, 120-pound son out in the middle of the night on a charge that we can't even defend."

Passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., the Patriot Act allows federal agents to investigate suspected cases of terrorism swiftly to better protect the country. In part, it gives the federal government more latitude to search telephone records, e-mails and other records.

"They're saying that 'We feel this individual is a terrorist or an enemy combatant against the United States, and we're going to suspend all of those due process rights because this person is an enemy of the United States," said Dan Boyce, a defense attorney and former U.S. attorney not connected to the Lundeby case.

Critics of the statute say it threatens the most basic of liberties.

"There's nothing a matter of public record," Boyce said "All those normal rights are just suspended in the air."

According to the story, Ashton Lundeby sounds like a pretty good kid. He's got American flags all around his room (he's probably more patriotic than the assholes who passed the PATRIOT Act) and he was away at church when the raid went down.

If the Lundebys' story is true, I will once again be led to yield to the lesser angels of my nature, go against all sense of polity and Christ-like bearing that I do strive to uphold, and repeat with great exuberance what I posted here a little less than a month and a half ago on another story about law enforcement abuse...

"F*CK THE GOVERNMENT!"

(I won't post the exact word until we know more about the situation. But you get the gist of it.)

Third TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN trailer is online!

Officially, it's being hosted at Yahoo! Movies. Un-officially however, you can find it pretty much anywhere on the 'nets tonight. I snagged it in high-definition from YouTube.

However it is that you see it, make sure to catch the third trailer for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen...

That's Constructicon combined gestalt bad-'bot Devastator scarfing down a wazoo-load of Saharan sand, trying to suck in and chop Optimus Prime to slivers. By the way, Devastator is now said to be the most complex digital construct that Industrial Light and Magic has ever done in its entire thirty-some years of existence!

I also feel led to comment that based on this trailer alone, it looks like the second Transformers movie is going to be much more intense in the way of plot than the first film... along with a hella lot more action (and presumably more actual screen time for the Transformers themselves, supposedly being around 60 of 'em this time).

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen lands on June 24th.

Steve Jablonsky's score helps GEARS OF WAR 2 win Best Sound at ELAN Awards!

Our friend Greg at Music4Games.net passed along the terrific news that Gears of War 2 has won "Best Sound in a Video Game Production" at the Third Annual ELAN Awards. ELAN is the Canadian Awards for the Electronic and the Animated Arts.

At the ceremony, hosted by SpongeBob Squarepants' Bob Kenny, Gears of War 2 was honored for its audio engineering, which included a full-length score composed by Steve Jablonsky (who has also composed Transformers and its upcoming sequel, Desperate Housewives and many other films, games and television projects).

Congrats to audio director Mike Larson, composer Steve Jablonsky, sound designers Jamey Scott and Joey Kuras, and everyone at Epic Games on your win!

And for a complete list of winners at this year's ELAN Awards, mash down here.

Twitter loses 60% of new users after one month (BUT...)

If you use Twitter, the latest craze on the Intertubes, then it's quite likely that you are going to abandon the service after your first month. That's the finding of a Neilsen report which found that 60% of new Twitterers get tired of it after just one month.

However, I have to wonder how many of these Twitter expatriates eventually come back. Robert Strohmeyer elucidates on that further over at the ABC News website. Strohmeyer's point is that many folks first come to Twitter under the assumption that it's supposed to just chronicle the minutia of daily life, like "I'm cold" or "Going to the bathroom now"... when that's not what Twitter is about at all. And that when they realize how Twitter is actually quite useful as a serious micro-blogging utility, then they have the tendency to drift back.

I can vouch for that. When Twitter first hit the scene, I created an account and then... promptly got bored with it. But as more people began using it, I started taking a serious look at how Twitter could be used to complement my regular blogging.

So I've been back on Twitter for about a month now, and as things stand I'm finding it hard to envision that I'll be making a second exodus from it. Last night it was put to especially hilarious use when I vented my rage at President Obama nearly pre-empting Lost. And lately with the swine flu scare some have taken to using Twitter for comedic effect. Gotta love ingenuity like that :-)

So if you've tried Twitter before and quickly tired of recording the tedium of your waking hours, reconsider how it is that you should be using it, and give it another shot. You might find that it's a lot harder to quit after a second helping.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Reaction to tonight's LOST: "The Variable"

I ain't saying nothing. And you know why?

Because I am completely tapped-out of any possible hyperbole that I could use to describe how I feel about Lost, after tonight's episode "The Variable".

If we are lucky, storytelling like this may happen twice in our lifetime. It's taking place, now, with Lost. Lord only knows when anything coming anywhere close to being just as comparable will ever come again.

This show is like sculpture being chiseled out before our eyes. And tonight, what we thought was the work being brought to life... just got smashed to smithereens.

Okay, I gotta say this: Eloise Hawking is a real b*tch! I didn't know what to quite make of her, until tonight's show. The whole thing about stopping Daniel and his piano playing: and you thought some parents went overboard when it comes to their kids playing sports. Sheesh!

Think I'm gonna have to watch this at least twice again tomorrow after I get it from iTunes. Just... wow.

World's fastest camera: 6 million photos in 1 second

A team of physicists at UCLA have developed a new photographic technique called Serial Time-Encoded Amplified Microscopy, or STEAM for short. Using common fiber-optics components, the new system is capable of recording photographic images at a staggering rate of once every 163 nanoseconds.

That's more than six million photos in one second, folks.

It's an innovation owing to quantum physics and laser light, not standard CCD chips like how most digital images are captured. And the resolution right now is quite small: only about 2,500 pixels, or a thousand times smaller than most cellphone cameras. But with refinement there is the possibility that STEAM will eventually be able to video record real-time activity within living cells.

Give 'em ten years: that'll make for a helluva IMAX nature film!

Don't be cheap: Buy MAD MAGAZINE #500!

It didn't hit me until a few months ago how much MAD Magazine has influenced my life. You can see it on this blog even: my propensity toward emboldening words a lot? That's definitely something I picked up from MAD's style... along with a jillion other traits, large and small that have crept into my work.

I've been been of the school of thought that MAD has suffered a decline in quality ever since the mag made the decision ten years ago to not just run real advertisements but worse: to shift from black/white to color. MAD never needed color. It was like when The Andy Griffith Show dropped grayscale: darn few of the color episodes were anywhere as funny as the first few seasons. No, MAD's allure was always the quality of its content, not its chroma.

But even so, MAD Magazine is now celebrating it's FIVE-HUNDREDTH ISSUE! It's on newsstands now and if you're anything at all of a MAD-man (or MAD-woman) you owe it to yourself to pick this up... and pays the money 'course. In the issue Sergio Aragones publishes a gallery of the 500 favorite "marginal" cartoons that he's done in his nearly 50 years with MAD. There are also no real-world advertisements in the issue past the first few pages (apart from officially sanctioned MAD schlock). This issue is a huge throwback to the MAD that many of us fondly grew up with. Unfortunately #500 will be the last issue before MAD goes to quarterly publication: a consequence of the current economy that is hilariously lampooned (along with a rather vicious treatment of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi) in Frank Jacobs' song parody "The Bailout Hymn of the Republic".

Maybe we can help. Go buy MAD Magazine #500. And if you've got the money buy six or seven more copies :-)

LOST celebrates 100 episodes tonight with "The Variable"

Didn't get to comment on Lost during the past month ('cuz I was busy with... other projects) but if you're a faithful viewer, you already know that the past few episodes have been everything from intense, to heartbreaking, to hilarious. I'm still giggling at Hurley's attempt to "improve" The Empire Strikes Back and get it to George Lucas in time to keep the Ewoks from ever happening.

And tonight's episode, "The Variable", portends to be a doozy. It's the one hundredth episode of Lost, so maybe it's time to start answering some long-standing questions? At the end of last week's installment Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies, right) returned after an absence of a few episodes and possibly three years - bear in mind that most of the characters are now stuck in 1977 - and word is that tonight he finally "comes clean" about what he knows about the Island. There's also rumor that "The Variable" will be something of a companion piece/flip-side story to last season's amazing "The Constant", thought by many to be one of the best of the entire series to date.

In case you need a "brush-up" of everything that's happened that's brought this story to its one hundredth episode, TVOvermind has a great compilation of what it considers to be the 100 best Lost moments of the past five season.

And I'm looking forward to getting back to posting reactions tonight after the episode airs :-)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swedish robot attempts homicide

A Swedish company won't be prosecuted but must pay $3000 in fines after one of its factory robots nearly killed a man. From the story...
A worker was about to fix a broken rock-lifting robot. He'd shut the power off, but the machine suddenly woke up and grabbed the man by the head.

"The man was very lucky. He broke four ribs and came close to losing his life," prosecutor Leif Johansson told the TT news agency.

Perhaps a review of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics is in order:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

This kind of story is becoming all too common. We've already heard about military robots opening fire on their comrades. Now it looks like those employed by the private sector are beginning to revolt.

Swine flu PSAs from 1976!

Three decades ago there was another swine flu scare. In retrospect, the government then over-reacted and a lot of folks who received the flu shot got sick from that. Some even died.

But I must admit: even knowing that, these public service announcements from 1976 about swine flu are darkly hilarious...

Thanks to Lee Shelton for finding these!

Arlen Specter's doublethink

So the senator from Pennsylvania today declared that his party affiliation "has not defined who I am".

And as an act of faith, the first thing Arlen Specter did to demonstrate his proclaimed values was... change parties.

Think about that for a moment.

Why should any person who claims to not be defined by party affiliation, even care enough to so grandiosely publicize that he or she is switching parties?

And wouldn't a person supposedly not defined by a party, in keeping with his or her principles, choose NOT to belong to any party at all?

All Specter is proving is that America has scarce few real leaders. What America does have is an excessive amount of damned fools who aren't shy about their willingness to be yanked around by their noses by whatever "the party" tells them. And Arlen Specter is one of 'em.

The Darth Vader Toaster

Time for another entry in the "Things We Don't Really Need But Are Lusting For Badly" file...

Wouldya believe that StarWarsShop.com is now selling the Darth Vader Toaster? For $54.99 you can have this kitchen appliance, which burns the evil visage of that most famous Dark Lord of the Sith into the surface of a slice of bread. Kinda sick, when you think about how the living remnant of what was once Anakin Skywalker is so charred and roasted under that black armor.

But I guess it's true: there really isn't any merchandise that they won't stick the Star Wars brand name on :-P

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jablonsky, Zimmer and Linkin Park working on TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN score!

It was already fairly well known that Steve Jablonsky would be returning to score Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, just as he did the original in 2007. But in the past few days the word has come that Linkin Park and Hans Zimmer are also contributing to the film's score. Linkin Park had some stuff on the Transformers soundtrack album (the one with all the songs, not the score that Yours Truly went more than a little nuts for :-P).

And if Hans Zimmer rings a bell, it's prolly 'cuz he has worked on the scores for Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, and a ton of other good movies.

Just from a musical perspective, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is sounding pretty epic. Can't wait to see - and hear - it come June.

Good reading for pandemic season: Marvel Comics' THE STAND

While we're waiting for the swine flu epidemic to either burn itself out or dispatch most of civilization to "the Choir Invisible", here's some encouraging literature to read in the meantime: Marvel Comics' AMAZING adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel The Stand.

The ongoing series, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Mike Perkins with oversight by King himself, is scheduled to span thirty issues consisting of five story arcs. The first, "Captain Trips", just wrapped up and you should be able to find the collected trade paperback version at most well-stocked bookstores. If you've ever read the novel, you can probably figure out that "Captain Trips" covers the first several days of the superflu plague that wipes out more than 99% of humanity. The next and current arc, "American Nightmares", deals with what happens to those lucky (or unfortunate) enough to have survived the pandemic.

As a longtime fan of The Stand I can heartily recommend buying this. Marvel's The Stand is probably the finest version of King's tale outside of the original book that I've seen yet. Yeah, the TV miniseries was pretty good (can you believe it'll be fifteen years next month since it first premiered?) but as a graphic novel there's much more room and liberty to faithfully recreate The Stand's plot and its characters. Well worth tracking down and keeping up with.

Today's sign that the Apocalypse is upon us...

Apparently, somebody somewhere has been working on getting World of Warcraft to run on the iPhone.

Mash down here for details on what will certainly be the end of productivity in the modern era.

G.E.'s latest achievement: 100 DVDs on one disc

This is gonna be something to keep yer eyes on folks: General Electric has engineered a new kind of optical storage technology. It's based on holography and it can be used to put 100 DVDs on a single disc!

I wouldn't chuck out that new Blu-Ray player just yet. An innovation like this usually takes awhile before it comes to market (and even longer before they're ubiquitous enough for most folks to consider adopting it). But it's easy to see how something like this would eventually supplant everything we've come to know about optical storage and playback.

Between this and the stuff happening in the realm of flash memory, this is very very cool. I'll certainly be watching for more about it.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Best BIOSHOCK review I've read from the Christian perspective

BioShock is not a video "game". It is more like a brand new kind of high brow literature for the modern age, masquerading as a video game. How many "games" have ever tried to touch on the stark horrifying reality of what human nature is capable of doing in the conscious absence of God?

Heck, there aren't even many movies or TV shows that attempt to do that...

Unfortunately, practically every so-called "Christian video game reviewer" that I've read over the past year has completely ignored the extremely powerful moral underpinnings of BioShock, and instead quickly sought to condemn the game for its graphic violence, its harsh language, and of course none of them have seemed able to help but make very wrong insinuations about the Little Sisters and their relationship to the Big Daddies.

Which is why I want to cast y'all's attention on Jerod Jarvis' review of BioShock, which he wrote for his college's newspaper at Whitworth University. It's an excellent essay and Jerod amply demonstrates that he not only "gets" BioShock, but also why it is a game that should be more widely appreciated by those espousing the Judeo-Christian ethic.

Here's a portion of Jerod's thoughts...

However, it is startlingly, shockingly clear upon one's first entering into Rapture that something went terribly wrong. As the game is explored and the mechanisms of the city's self-destruction are uncovered, the clues increasingly point towards the one thing that Andrew Ryan and his idealists didn't factor in — that human nature is innate, not something impressed upon us by outside influences. Human greed, desire for power and selfishness are not things that religion and government have given us, as Ryan believed — instead, in seeking to escape those things, he instead created a place where they could truly thrive. The sad truth of the matter is that human beings are fundamentally flawed — greed, selfishness, and pride are built into us. Social conventions can certainly mellow these somewhat, but without a true inner heart change, as Christ offers, humans are humans wherever they are.

The truly fascinating aspect of this predicament that the game hints at is found in the gruesome execution scenes of smugglers. Throughout the game, you develop a feeling that Ryan is not fond of smugglers bringing things in from the world above, outside his control, and the crucifixions of these apparent criminals highlight this in tragic fashion. But what is far more interesting is the glimpses into what those smugglers were smuggling: crates of Bibles.

Huh.

So what are the developers saying? That when the world starts collapsing, people turn to religion? I suspect that might have been the point they were trying to make — but their stab in that direction actually illustrates a much stronger, deeper point — when man removes God from the picture, the picture falls apart. Man can only keep up his acting for so long before his true nature begins to reassert himself — and when that happens, when people find themselves at the mercy of their own natures, they turn to things that can change those natures. In this case, in what is either a stroke of genius on the developer's part or an award-winning case of God using people in spite of themselves, the people of Rapture were turning to the truth: the Bible.

Most of the Christian reviews, and even some of the secular reviews, seemed to take the execution of Bible-smugglers as a slam against Christianity. And it is—but it's Andrew Ryan slamming it, not the message of the game. I strongly suspect that this nod to Christianity was unintentional on the part of the developers — listening to interviews and commentaries leads me to believe they weren't gunning for anything deeper than man’s apparent need for a religious crutch when things get hard. But if one takes the time to look deeper, a different message can be found.

Read more of Jerod's review here. And he also asked if I could pass along the link to his blog Duality, featuring even more of his deep musings on modern video games :-)

Today's DILBERT and FOXTROT strips

Today is Sunday, which means our favorite comic strips are bigger, longer and in glorious four color. Here are two of today's that I thought were particularly funny. The first is from Scott Adams' Dilbert...

And then Bill Amend serves up today's helping of Foxtrot. As a new player of Warhammer 40,000, I totally dig Jason's horror at mixing Space Marines with Orks in the same box...

Bea Arthur has passed away

Y'all have probably heard the sad news by now that Bea Arthur died yesterday at the age of 86.

Arthur first found stardom on Broadway, then branched out into television with Maude on CBS from 1972 to 1978. My generation though will have their fondest memories of Arthur from her role as Dorothy Zbornak: the sarcastic substitute teacher from NBC's hit sitcom The Golden Girls.

Yes, Bea Arthur was a very talented lady. So talented in fact, that her presence was the one saving grace to be found in that irredeemable schlockfest for the ages, 1978's The Star Wars Holiday Special...

Rest in peace Bea Arthur. And "Thank you for being a friend..."

I'd better return...

...'cuz things are about to become hella interesting.

Besides, what had required my attention is complete. And Lord willing I'll get to talk about it sooner than later :-)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

No more blogging...

...until it is completed.

(What "it" is, I shall leave as an exercise for the reader.)

ETA time to finish: 3-5 weeks, perhaps.

But I will be making occasional updates on my Twitter page, so feel free to follow my antics if you are so led. That is, if you don't have anything else better to do :-P

Thursday, April 02, 2009

'Fess up time for "The April Fools joke that COULD have really happened"

Never in my wildest fevered delirium could I have imagined what the reaction would have been.

Let's put it this way: since early this morning, I have been in a nearly constant gigglefit about this whole thing.

Here's a sample of the correspondence that's come in...

"Brilliant, pure genius with Johnny and his minions."

"I'm speechless, absolutely without a single bit of speech."

"Chris, Chris, Chris... this one goes down in the history books: Best. April. Fools. Post. Ever."

"what a stunt, dude... You know that I bought it for THIRTY WHOLE SECONDS? (even with my knowledge that this was gonna happen - I bought it!) It looks so real! Well done! :-)"

"This is horrible but actually expected. I do hope the boy will be OK. It's a shame he has to pay for Johnny's evilness."

"Bahahah ... April Fool's, eh?"

"Chris, You have written a masterful work of fiction."

"Oh MAN that is hilarious!!"

"That is frackin' awesome! :) You were going for authenticity, and that really proved you nailed it, man! :)"

"Every phone call you make now is going to be monitored by the FBI probably , and your blog, and your emails! But it was brilliant!!!!! LOL You Rock!"

"Only you could pull that off :)"

"Maybe you'll get invited to Rome to talk about security concerns for the Pope's visit to Martinsville Speedway?"

"PWNAGE!"

"HAHAHA You crack me up Dude!!!!!! Just read your blog!!"

"funny as hell."

"Ummm -- just went to your blog. My jaw hit the floor so hard it nearly broke through to the foundation. Unbelievable!!! Truth really is stranger than fiction ... ... or maybe it's not stranger than fiction. Johnny Robertson is so bizarre that it didn't even occur to me until sometime after I read your article that I was reading it on April 1. As over the top as the whole story is, I really bought the whole thing! That says something about the guy, doesn't it? You've really out-done yourself, my friend. :)"

"Mr. Knight, the blogg you wrote about Johnny Robertson going to the Vatican true or a joke. If it is true then I can't understand why it hasn't been reported on WGSR star news. They usually report every little thing. Would you please let me know. Like your bloggs and keep up the good work."

"This was one of the best researched and well written pieces of parody that I have read in my life. It was EXTREMELY convincing and your graphics evoked sheer shock. Brilliantly done!" -- The editor of a major American newspaper

"Your story caused considerable alarm here this morning." -- An official at the U.S. State Department

"We wish more information about Mr. Johnny Robertson and his followers." -- excerpted from an e-mail written by an official in Vatican City

The traffic to the blog in the past 24 hours has been enormous: one of the biggest days ever without a post that didn't make it on Slashdot or some other major news site. Near as I can figure, more than five thousand hits since the article went up at 1 a.m. yesterday morning. This joint has received visits from Washington D.C., Rome, Manila, Tokyo, Bern, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, all across the Fruited Plain, and just about everywhere else that you can put a pin on the map. And numerous hits from Vatican City itself. There have been more people coming to the blog about Johnny Robertson's reported arrest while trying to accost Pope Benedict XVI than there have been about that Guitar Hero Metallica commercial.

But as with previous April Fools stunts, the time has come to make a confession of it all. So here's the checklist for this year's gag...

1. The New York Post cover graphic was obviously a Photoshop job. Although I took considerable pains to make it look as "legit" as possible... right down to including an actual weather forecast for New York City today.

2. The BBC World News graphic supposedly showing Micah Robertson being apprehended after getting shot is also a fake. Although that was made with a real 2005 photo of the Papal Swiss Guard stopping a man who tried to get too close to Pope Benedict XVI.

3. I always try to include a "clincher": a clue, albeit sometimes obscure, that whatever work of mine you are looking at is really a joke. For this one, it was "Hank Vorjes". Who is not a reporter with the New York Post at all. "Hank Vorjes" was the name of the fictitious Associated Press reporter who filed the "story" of Microsoft buying the Roman Catholic Church from a famous 1994 Internet hoax that fooled quite a lot of people at the time.

4. I made up all the "comments" that were allegedly made to the post by blog readers. Just my own lil' way of trying to uphold the illusion :-) This is the only time that I ever post comments on this blog as someone other than myself, without my own signature.

5. However, with the exception of the line about "the pope's house", every quotation in this article that was attributed to Johnny Robertson of the Martinsville Church of Christ... is a quotation that he has ACTUALLY stated in public.

6. And obviously, Johnny Robertson has not been arrested at the Vatican. Neither has his son been shot in Saint Peter's Square. So far as I know James Oldfield isn't being held in custody by Rome police either.

But you wanna know something that's downright scary?

The few people who were "in the know" about this April Fools prank, without exception, told me before I executed it words to the effect that "What's so bad is that this COULD conceivably happen. Johnny Robertson really is the kind of man who would try to do something like that."

That same sentiment has been echoed many, many times throughout the day.

Heck, it has downright startled me that a huge number of people read this, and thought that it was a SERIOUS news report!

Which I think, says more about Johnny Robertson, James Oldfield and their cult than anything I could have possibly come up with in this clearly fictitious piece of work.

Or maybe not so fictitious. I mean, all I really did, at all, was take some very legitimate quotes by Johnny Robertson, had them doing exactly what he and his followers have publicly done not just throughout this area but in towns across the country, and merely transplanted that into an admittedly very extreme location. The most extreme that I could have come up with. Hey, give me some credit here: I could have set Johnny Robertson loose at the Wailing Wall or the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and had him cut to pieces by angry mobs at either place. I was trying to be Christ-like and kindly in my attempt at pointed parody...

What y'all read in this piece about Johnny Robertson and his twisted sect: I didn't make up anything about them. All I did was put them in an absurd situation so that I could demonstrate their own absurdity.

Seriously: does anyone who knows anything about this "church" believe that Johnny Robertson wouldn't possibly do something like assail the Vatican, if he were given the opportunity?

Johnny Robertson is a man who recently invaded and tried to violently confront a Baptist church in Bay, Arkansas (a town that I received several reports about how Robertson tried to "start a war" throughout the entire community). Johnny Robertson is a man who has repeatedly harassed one particular minister in Martinsville. Johnny Robertson is a man who intimidated one preacher's wife at her home to the point that she was compelled to threaten him with a gun if he did not leave. Johnny Robertson is a man who has persistently violated the privacy of individuals with his "in your face" camera confrontational tactics. Johnny Robertson is a man who apparently ordered a "bomb threat" painted on the side of one of his own church buildings so as to cast blame on a group of Muslims. Johnny Robertson is a man who has had dissidents and their children followed in stores and had their homes photographed. Johnny Robertson is a man who has accused a church in the area, without any evidence, of engaging in acts of child pornography.

(I could say something about how no ethical and responsible television station would ever give this man airtime... but too many of us already know that there is no such "ethical and responsible" television station to speak of, so there's no need to comment further about that.)

You know what? I don't care what beliefs Johnny Robertson and his very small contingent of followers hold to. Because one of the things I do believe in is that every person has an absolute and sacred right to seek God as best he or she can understand Him.

And Johnny Robertson has that right too.

But his right to that ends where the rights of others to seek God begins.

And he has no right to attempt to hurt people as he and his followers are doing.

They aren't acting like "Christians". They're acting more like the Taliban. And a lot of people around here regard Robertson and his cronies as just as potentially dangerous as any Islamic extremist. As one friend told me recently: "I will gladly do a Bible study with Johnny Robertson... so long as I have a Bible in one hand and a .38 in the other."

Honestly, I'm glad that this wasn't a real news story. Just as I must solemnly admit that the events depicted in this fictitious account could quite possibly happen someday. Maybe it won't be in the heart of the Vatican, but it could happen in Martinsville, or Reidsville, or Danville, or anywhere else that Robertson and his followers try to threaten and scare people in the name of God.

If that day comes, and God forbid it from ever coming, then somebody will be seriously hurt. Or worse.

And when that day comes, I sure as hell won't be laughing.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

BREAKING HARD: Johnny Robertson arrested at the Vatican! Cult leader threatened Pope! Son critical after shot by papal bodyguards! Nuncio "furious"!

UPDATE 04/02/2009: Please click here for major new developments in this story!

The damned lunatic has finally gone too far. And not all the pathetic PowerPoint charts on his laptop can possibly save him now.

Local cult leader Johnny Robertson of the "Martinsville Church of Christ" - the very same individual who has harassed many churches in the area and has sought to inflict his own warped brand of "Christianity" with rude force and heartless lies - has been arrested in Vatican City following what is being called a "coordinated and persistent attempt" to threaten Pope Benedict XVI within the very Papal Apartments of the Apostolic Palace!

Behold the front page of today's New York Post, screaming the over-the-top sins of Henry County, Virginia's most rabid mad dog for all the world to see...

Robertson's 16-year old son Micah Robertson is also in critical condition at a Rome hospital after being shot in the abdomen by the Papal Swiss Guard. Micah Robertson apparently made a threatening gesture with what seemed to have been a weapon, but was found to have been a concealed video camera.

Fellow cult member James Oldfield was subsequently apprehended by Rome Police and is being held for questioning.

Johnny Robertson himself is currently being detained by the Gendarme Corps of Vatican City State in a security station adjoining Saint Peter's Basilica. Inspector General Domenico Giani is said to have personally taken charge of the investigation of "this most grievous and uncivil affront to the safety of the Holy Father."

And top Catholic officials from the Vatican to the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington D.C. are reportedly "furious" at what is being called "the biggest diplomatic incident between the Holy See and another state since the Noriega/Papal Nuncio situation in 1989."

Here is what I've been told by Hank Vorjes of the New York Post (which allowed this blog to break the cover after I provided the image of Johnny Robertson on short notice): late Monday afternoon Johnny Robertson, Micah Robertson and James Oldfield arrived via commercial airliner in Rome. After securing accommodations the trio immediately made their way to Vatican City: recognized by the Lateran Treaty as its own sovereign state. Upon entering Saint Peter's Square the elder Robertson and Oldfield approached two Swiss Guards and asked to be directed to "the pope's house". The guards refused, judging the three to be "suspicious". Not to be deterred, Robertson led his cult members toward what he said must be "the pastor's office". This turned out to have been none other than the main gate of the Apostolic Palace: the location of the Papal Apartments.

By this time it was getting to be late afternoon and Johnny Robertson, impatient, accosted three of the Papal Gentlemen who were entering the palace. Robertson Sr. informed the Gentlemen that he was "a preacher with the 'Church of Christ'" and that he had "information" that he wanted to "share with you all". Robertson and Oldfield then tried to press numerous DVDs into the hands of the Papal Gentlemen, who refused and later informed Maestro di Camera del Papa James Michael Harvey - himself an American - of the incident.

Then yesterday afternoon, Johnny and Micah Robertson and James Oldfield returned to the Apostolic Palace. Only this time the cult members changed tactics: Johnny Robertson produced credentials for a fictitious organization called "Religious Review Multimedia" and asked to see "the person in charge". He was told that he would have to make an appointment with Prefect Harvey. Robertson refused this and violently insisted that the people inside the palace "are all afraid of me!" and demanded to be allowed inside so that he could "debate" with Pope Benedict XVI. Robertson and his comrades were asked to leave, at which point Robertson started screaming "There is not a preacher in this town that knows as much Bible as I do!" and that "I will make him look so bad!" if he were to meet the Pope. Swiss Guards were called to the scene and attempted to herd Robertson and his cronies away from the gate. "This is going on YouTube, just so you know!" he was heard to tell them.

Approximately one hour later, due to circumstances which at this time are still being investigated, an alarm was sounded throughout the Apostolic Palace. Additional Vatican gendarmerie rushed to the scene and were told that an intruder had entered the inner sanctum of the Papal Apartments: the Pope's private residence. Minutes later Johnny Robertson was arrested at gunpoint after being found "banging ferociously" on what he assumed was the Holy Father's office. As he was dragged away, Johnny Robertson shouted atop his lungs that "I'm presenting myself just like Jesus did! Nobody could answer Him. That's what I'm doing. These guys can't answer me!" and "I would wrap that stuff around their necks!"

Immediately following Johnny Robertson's removal from the building, a number of Papal Gentlemen indicated to the Papal bodyguards the presence of Micah Robertson, who attempted to flee the scene. The guards ordered the junior Robertson to halt but he refused, instead moving to produce what was thought at the time was an automatic weapon. One of the guards instinctively shot Micah Robertson with a SIG P225: the standard sidearm of the Swiss Guards. Micah immediately fell and was rushed at by both Swiss Guards and gendarmerie. A BBC World News camera at the scene happened to catch the drama as it happened. The "weapon" turned out to be a well-concealed video camera that the younger Robertson had apparently been using to covertly interview random individuals in Saint Peter's Square without their knowledge.

Papal guards quickly assured officials that Pope Benedict XVI was not in danger, and was in fact having an audience in another portion of the Apostolic Palace at the time.

With the elder Robertson remanded into custody and the younger being rushed to a nearby hospital, Vatican police alerted their colleagues in the greater Rome metropolitan area to be on the lookout for the third confederate. James Oldfield was arrested a few blocks away from St. Peter's Square.

The story in the New York Post is describing Robertson's "Church of Christ" as a "lunatic fringe movement" that has nothing in common with the mainstream Churches of Christ. Indeed, Robertson's "Martinsville Church of Christ" is being likened to the Taliban, and Robertson himself described as a "Jim Jones" type who has declared himself to be "God" on more than one occasion. Reporter Hank Vorjes of the New York Post has asked for my cooperation in securing interviews with former members of the cult, who will likely be eager to tell all now that Robertson is behind bars in one of the most tightly-secured pieces of geography on the planet. Of particular interest to Vatican officials is how Robertson, an "uncouth, illiterate" convicted felon who served time for armed robbery, managed to even get outside his own country and into Italy. Vatican and Italian ambassadorial staff are reportedly in contact with the United States Embassy about the incident: the first serious diplomatic abrasion between the two countries since the United States military laid siege in 1989 to the Papal Nuncio in Panama, where ousted strongman Manuel Noriega had found sanctuary.

And that is all I know at the moment, folks. But I'll be posting new details as they become available.

And I never thought that Johnny Robertson would be so insane as to bring his deranged war right to the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Some might call that "brave". I call it "being a blithering idiot."

More as this hard-hitting story develops...