Janus, January, and Mystery Science Theater 3000

You may be wondering how Janus, January and Mystery Science Theater 3000 are connected. And what or who is Janus, anyway? Join me, please, on this fascinating journey.

JANUS
Janus

In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of doorways, passageways, journeys, and new beginnings. He had two faces, one that looked into the past, and one that looked into the future. In terms of a doorway, he watched over either side of the door. The month of January is derived from the god Janus, as January marks the beginning of the new year.

BRYANT HOLIDAY
Bryant Holiday

Bryant Haliday was an American actor of no particular consequence and has largely been lost to history. His brief sojourn as a film actor was confined to horror movies, of which he had an abiding interest, produced by Richard Gordon. Two of these films were Devil Doll and The Projected Man–films that would also have been lost to history, because they were absolutely awful, had they not been mercilessly lambasted by the crew of the Satellite of Love: namely, Michael J. Nelson, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

JANUS FILMS
Janus Films

However, Bryant Haliday did co-found Janus Films, a film distribution company which was largely responsible for introducing the work of such great directors as Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa to the West.

DEVIL DOLL
Devil Doll

Bryant Haliday “starred” in the movie Devil Doll as The Great Vorelli, an evil ventriloquist and hypnotist. The movie also “starred” William Sylvester, who played a minor role as Heywood Floyd in 2001: A Space Odyssey

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000
Devil Doll Riffed by MST3K

In the 8th season of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Michael Nelson and the bots decided to riff Devil Doll, and now the circle of life is complete!

Dacoits and Phansigars

I’m currently reading The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer. I’m really enjoying it. The character of Dr. Fu-Manchu is fascinating. I’ll blog about it later. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, however, I’d like to briefly mention a couple of words used in the book.

DACOITS

A Dacoit

A dacoit is essentially an Indian bandit. Dr. Fu-Manchu employs many dacoits for his nefarious purposes. Here is a quote from the book using the word:

You remember the cry in the back lane? It suggested something to me, and I tested my idea – successfully. It was the cry of a dacoit. Oh, dacoity, though quiescent, is by no means extinct. Fu-Manchu has dacoits in his train, and probably it is one who operates the Zayat Kiss, since it was a dacoit who watched the the window of the study this evening. To such a man an ivy-covered wall is a grand staircase.

PHANSIGARS

Thugs (Phansigars)

Phansigar is another word for Thuggee. A thuggee is also an Indian bandit or assassin. It is also the origin of our word thug. Here is yet another quote from the book:

“The man was a phansigar – a religious strangler. Since Fu-Manchu has dacoits in his service I might have expected that he would have Thugs. A group of these fiends would seem to have fled into Burma; so that the mysterious epidemic in Rangoon was really an outbreak of thuggee – on slightly improved lines!”

Quotes from Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

I just finished reading Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. It is the first of the James Bond books that he wrote, although the movie chronology is quite a bit different from the book chronology.

I rather enjoyed this book. I recently took an introductory course in conversational French, and that knowledge proved helpful for reading this book. Fleming drops quite a bit of French in it, especially during the scenes where Bond and Le Chiffre are dualing at the Baccarat table. The dealer called out the hands in French, so knowing the French numbers was advantageous.

At any rate, here are some of the, in my opinion, more memorable quotes from the book. Enjoy!

LUCK

Luck had to be accepted with a shrug or taken advantage of up to the hilt. But it had to be understood and recognized for what it was and not confused with a faulty appreciation of the odds, for, at gambling, the deadly sin is mistaking bad play for bad luck. And luck in all its moods had to be loved and not feared. Bond saw luck as a woman, to be softly wooed or brutally ravaged, never pandered to or pursued. But he was honest enough to admit that he had never yet been made to suffer by cards or by women. One day, and he accepted the fact, he would be brought to his knees by love or by luck. When that happened he knew that he too would be branded with the deadly question-mark he recognized so often in others, the promise to pay before you have lost: the acceptance of fallibility.

PEOPLE

“People are islands,” she said, “They don’t really touch. However close they are, they’re really quite separate. Even if they’ve been married for fifty years.”

ORIGIN OF THE DOUBLE O’S

“For those two jobs I was awarded a Double O number in the Service. Felt pretty clever and got a reputation for being good and tough. A Double O number in our Service means you’ve had to kill a chap in cold blood in the course of some job.”

BOND AND WOMEN

With most women his manner was a mixture of taciturnity and passion. The lengthy approaches to a seduction bored him almost as much as the subsequent mess of disentanglement. He found something grisly in the inevitability of the pattern of each affair. The conventional parabola – sentiment, the touch of the hand, the kiss, the passionate kiss, the feel of the body, the climax in the bed, then more bed, then less bed, then the boredom, the tears and the final bitterness – was to him shameful and hypocritical.

TORTURE

“Torture is a terrible thing,” he was saying as he puffed at a fresh cigarette, “but it is a simple matter for the torturer, particularly when the patient,” he smiled at the word, “is a man. You see, my dear Bond, with a man it is quite unnecessary to indulge in refinements. With this simple instrument, or with almost any other object, one can cause a man as much pain as is possible or necessary. Do not believe what you read in novels or books about war. There is nothing worse. It is not only the immediate agony, but also the thought that your manhood is being gradually destroyed and that at the end, if you will not yield, you will no longer be a man.

Question

Trees and a cool breeze and the damp, pungent odor of summer just begun. Diaphanous noon rays burst here and there through a canopy of green, rustling leaves.

My child skips lightly along a dirt path and wonders at it all. He wonders if he loves life too much. He doesn’t much care. It is only idle curiosity. Right now, he wants to love.

Perhaps he’ll wrap the question in a soft, white virginal cloth and leave it at the philosopher’s doorstep and let it haunt his sleepless nights.

Goodbye

Out there. Just beyond touch, but close enough to see, she sits upon a raft drifting farther out into the broad ocean. Amber moonlight casts her long, undulating shadow upon placid waves lapping on the sandy shore.

I call out to her, but she does not respond. Her eyes mirror the opaque water, its depths all but unknown to me, unperturbed it seems, by my temporal pleading.

Farther and farther still she drifts out to sea. She gazes upon me, her eyes not questioning.

I bow my head for just a moment, and when I look back up, she is gone.

And then there is nothing but a heavy silence, although I can hear myself breath.

Goodbye, B. I loved you so.

Behold the Human Spirit

The son knelt beside his dying mother. He held her hand and stroked her hair, and tears fell from his face.

A silver necklace hung around her neck with a silver cross, upon which hung a crucified Jesus. She held it tightly, and said, “Save me.” She said it over and over again.

Her son held her right hand, and her left hand held the cross.

When she breathed her last breath and the light went out of her eyes, her son cried, “He will not save you, mother. I will save you. It is your spirit that gave me life. It is your spirit that is divine.”

And her spirit rose from her body into the air, and upwards through the sky, and into space, and into the heavens, and finally she was at the door of her home. But the door was locked and would not open.

In her right hand was a key. She unlocked the door, went inside and laid down to rest, smiling.

Inspired by the song Wings for Marie by Tool

How I Wish

How I wish
To reach back in time
And stay the hand
That pulls the card
That topples the house …

A house I truly loved.

If only I had known
The tears I’d shed.

No mortar of tears,
No walls of stone,
How fragile it all seems now
Having fallen.

The Human Heart

An edifice of stone crumbles into sand.
The human heart fails to beat (the drummer fallen)
And God the soul becomes,
Like a drop of rain falling into a fathomless sea.

Where then is the temple?
And what then is worship true?

Seek the human heart …