Tuesday, December 20, 2005

How It Is Different

I don't know much Aimee Mann music but I liked one of her songs I heard on Pandora.com, so I went looking for it on eMusic.com to possibly download it and watched a cascade of title discrepencies occur.

Pandora says the song is called "How Am I Different."

eMusic, on the other hand, shows the title as "Now I Am Different."

OK, what about allmusic.com? "How I Am Different."

Terrific. Let's give the deciding vote to Amazon and call it "How Am I Different," as on Pandora.

You know, of all the song titles to keep turning up differently, could there be one more appropriate and self-referential? It's as if the whole web really is run by the Master Control Program that journal-seeking Texan imagines and it's amusing itself with wordplay.

"Knave!"

Peter Lynn has up a post about his arch nemesis over at Man vs. Clown! [That's his exclamation point, not mine.] It's one of his funniest in a while, I think.

Man vs. Clown is probably my favorite humor blog right now. If you're not yet familiar with it, check out a few highlights here, here, here, and here. And the classic that won me over, here.

Peter Lynn is a copy editor, so he may have an opinion about whether that exclamation point from the blog's title ought to stay in the title when it's used in a sentence. I'd be interested in knowing it. For now, I suppose I'll defer to Bill Walsh on this one.

Of course, I guess I was inconsistent with that exclamation point between the first and second paragraphs. But it seemed to help at first. Damn these people putting punctuation in their blog titles! Oh. Wait. Never mind.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Things

A few items from things magazine:

M.C. Escher's impossible staircase built from Legos.

To steal their description: "a great urban climbing video, apparently set in a very crumbling Russia (complete with French rap soundtrack)." Pretty impressive stunts.

And "a look at the Hyperbole Towers, a development composed of the best overstatements, redundancies, non-sequiturs, and fetishizations of obscure Mediterranean kitchen materials that today’s real estate flacks have to offer."

"It is...in the time-honored tradition of infinite grandeur, reaching uncompromising levels of luxury never realized in modern times....with the warmth of textured concrete."

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Carl Denham's Giant Monster

I saw Peter Jackson's King Kong Wednesday and enjoyed it. I didn't love it but did love parts of it.

The most important thing to know about it is that it's an even three hours long, so lay off the fluids for a few hours beforehand, use the restroom right before, and don't buy a soft drink.

Ann Althouse suggested it has some "especially bad CGI." Call me undiscerning, but it looked OK to me.

David Denby in this New Yorker article, meanwhile, feels that the monster fights "go on forever" as Jackson's "exuberance spills over into senselessness." One attack by a bunch of oversized critters that I found appropriately creepy, disgusting, tense, and exciting was to Denby "kiddie-show horrors" that "stop the movie cold." It all tries his—he likes to say "our"—patience. "Even children," he says, "may feel that they’ve seen it all before." Perhaps I have less discernment than a child, but those were actually my favorite parts of the movie.

I can't remember the last film that had me saying, "whoa!.........whoa!" so much. Everything between Kong and Naomi Watts is charming and poignant, and her performance throughout is a tremendous success, but the stuff with the monsters is the most fun.

Anyway, pretty good movie. I hope it's profitable. NRO's John J. Miller (of course) said, "Skip Kong. See Narnia." Well, OK. If you have to pick just one of the two, I guess I'd say go with Narnia, too. But if you're able to see two movies during the time these two are in theaters, I recommend them both.

If you do enjoy Jackson's Kong, you may find interesting a few articles about it from this past Monday and Thursday in USA Today.

As much as I liked all the little nods to the original, I was particularly intrigued by the last paragraph in this article:
An advertising sign for Universal Pictures, the studio behind this version of Kong, can be spied in Times Square. Archival photos of New York City, circa 1933, showed a promo for Columbia Pictures in that spot. "We did try to make it Columbia," Jackson says. "They wanted to be paid a huge amount of money. So we went with Universal," which let him use a sign for free.
They wanted to be paid a huge amount of money? Really? If that's true, I don't understand Columbia's reasoning at all. Don't companies usually pay the filmmakers good money to get their product or company name in a film? Or at the least, happily accept free advertising? Why would Columbia decide it would be worth more to Peter Jackson to put their company's sign into his movie than it would be worth to them?

One of the articles has a litte blurb with each of the four principal actors in the film. I was surprised to discover there that Andy Serkis—who provided the motion capture performance for Kong, as he did for Gollum in Jackson's Lord of the Rings—also appears in the flesh as Lumpy, the ship's cook.

There's more about Serkis's role as King Kong in the third article. Apparently, for all of the scenes in which Naomi Watts interacts with Kong, her green screen work included participation by Serkis so she could play off him. Then after her part was filmed, he would repeat each scene "with 132 sensors stuck to his face and 60 on his body while 72 cameras shot his every move." Wow.

If Serkis, along with the CGI team, couldn't have pulled off Gollum, Lord of the Rings would have been severely undermined. Peter Jackson was banking on him here a whole lot more. He really came through for him.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Because Bacon's Gooood...

In the vein of all that talk about Bacon from a couple weeks ago, a few things come to mind.

One is a conversation my friend Laura related to me a few weeks before that. She's got a cat named Isabel, that her family calls Izzie for short. Her nine-year-old daughter, McKenzie, one day informed her that the cat's last name is Bacon.

(Personally, I think "Izzie Bacon" would make a much better name for a pet pig, but no matter.)

"Izzie Bacon?" Laura asked. "Why?"

With no further explanation, McKenzie adopted her best redneck accent and said simply, "Because bacon's gooooood."

For McKenzie, especially, then: bacon tape, bacon wrapping paper, and my favorite, bacon bandages.

Also: Push Button, Receive Bacon!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What do they think the internet is, really?

I love this person for making me laugh so much. Someone found this site by searching in Yahoo for this question:

"can you find steve F. Austin's journal" [without the quotation marks.]

Apparently, I'm the number one search result on Yahoo for that, though I've never, well, I've never had any idea what that even means. How does Yahoo connect this blog to that search? Here are the excerpted lines the search page offered with matching terms bolded:
Just So We're Clear... Thursday, December 08, 2005. Is The New Yorker published by Piranha Press? ... posted by Steve Ely at 12/08 ... Street Journal. Important newspaper columns detailing the wrongness of this nomination have been written by George F ... Antone's, Austin's Home of the Blues ...
At first, it was just funny that
  1. Yahoo works in such a way that this is the best it can do there. Compare that to Google, which copes rather better.
  2. Someone reading the lines above, with such hints as "Steve Ely," "George F," and "Antone's, Austin's Home of the Blues" chose to click through to see what I had to offer them.
Then, though, I realized it shouldn't be too surprising they'd click through despite those giveaways. Of course a search engine might be baffling. After all, this is a person who gave Yahoo not search terms but a conversational question, implying a conception of some kind of conscious mind lurking inside The Internet that Yahoo allows us to converse with.

That perception of the web made me roar with laughter. Roar, I tell you.

Yahoo's not the Computer on board the Starship Enterprise, pal. Or the Master Control Program in the movie Tron.

Of course, it's probably some 78-year-old person who never uses the web, which makes me kind of a jerk for laughing. Except "Steve F. Austin" makes it sound as if our Texan friend conflated the names of Stephen F. Austin, who was the founder of Texas, and professional wrestler Steve Austin, who is stone cold.

And yet, my curiosity aroused, I am compelled to learn the answer: can i find steve F. Austin's journal?

(I'll just pretend it's less an overheard question from Geordi to the ship's computer than a sort of message in a cyberbottle—"Hey, benevolent stranger with a cable modem, can you find this for me?" "Sure!")

And, of course, as usual, Google makes it easy. The Prison Journal of Stephen F. Austin. Wow. I hadn't even known Stephen F. Austin had ever been imprisoned. Of course, I hadn't known much of anything about him. It's been an educational night. Thanks, Yahoo! Thanks, Geordi!

Later: Of course, now each Yahoo and Google find the text string in this post first, so you'll just have to take my word for the earlier results.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Newman's Own Blog Post

Until yesterday, when I finally watched Cool Hand Luke, I had never seen a Paul Newman film made when he was younger than 68 years old, although I was a big fan of Nobody's Fool. My familiarity was actually more with his Newman's Own brand pasta sauce, and in case there's more than one person out there with the idea that products under that label are simply a case of celebrity-endorsement marketing, the story behind it is something I've been meaning to clarify since I started this blog.

There seems to be at least one person who's confused, as I discovered after I received last year a couple of notable gifts for Christmas. My parents gave me a George Foreman Grill to try to provoke me to do something that begins to approach actual cooking a little bit more. Meanwhile, a couple of friends gave me a compact volume entitled simply, The Movie Book.

The first time I used the Foreman grill, I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the history of that celebrity-named product with the history of the sauces, salad dressing, popcorn, and other foods I had read about earlier in Newman and A.E. Hotchner's book, Shameless Exploitation in Pursuit of the Common Good. In that book, they tell how Newman was so unbelievably picky about his salad dressing that not only did he make his own for home use, but he also would require in restaurants that they bring him the necessary ingredients from the kitchen so he could make the dressing at the table. "On one occasion," the book says,
when the restaurant mistakenly served the salad with its own dressing, Paul took the salad to the men's room, washed off the dressing, dried it with paper towels, and, after returning to the table, anointed it with his own, which he concocted with ingredients brought to him from the kitchen.
Seems as if it could be obnoxious behavior, but who am I to argue with a man of such success? They go on, anyway, to explain the obsession this way:
At that time, almost all dressings, especially the mass-market ones, contained sugar, artificial coloring, chemical preservatives, gums, and God knows what. So Paul really started to make his own dressing not just as a taste preference, but also as a defense against those insufferable additives.
The book's first chapter, which includes the above passages, portrays the commercially available Newman's Own Salad Dressing as springing directly from a December 1980 effort by Newman and Hotchner in Newman's converted barn to mix up a batch of Newman's salad dressing in an old washtub, bottle it themselves in old wine bottles, and give it as a gift to neighbors when their families went around Christmas carolling. Apparently, there was some left over in the tub, giving Newman the idea of trying to bottle and sell that, until Hotchner pointed out that selling food produced in such conditions would break any number of laws. So Newman agreed to "take out insurance, create a proper label, and get a bona fide bottler and see if it would sell."

The rest of the book goes on to tell the story of how they went about taking those steps, what the marketing entailed, how Newman's taste for natural ingredients led to his creation of a variety of other products, and how the charitable projects ensued after the Newman’s Own® brand saw profits he never anticipated.

Until recently, I wasn't sure where the George Foreman Grill came from, but I was pretty sure it wasn't actually invented by the boxer. Excellent gift, though. In those same days of post-holiday indoor grilling, I also enjoyed and benefited from The Movie Book, which, though out of date (as one Amazon.com reviewer points out), did introduce me to or remind me of a number of significant persons in the film industry I knew little of, such as Ken Loach, Milos Forman, Terrence Malick, and Werner Herzog, to name a few.

However, the book's writers include at least one misleading clause in their Paul Newman entry: "he has lent his name to a flourishing salad-dressing business."

"Salad-dressing business"? This was published in 1999, and they're unaware of the sauce, the popcorn, and the rest?

But more egregiously: "lent his name"?

"Lent his name" is what Frank Sinatra evidently did with a line of spaghetti sauces, which Newman in his book recounts with pride watching go out of business. Evidently, Sinatra knew how to make sauce in a kitchen but took no interest in how it would be mass-produced or sold. Except that, apparently, while Newman says he got into selling sauce because he was dissatisfied with what was available to him in jars previously, Sinatra said the reason he went into the spaghetti sauce business was an affection for seeing his name "on all those bottles in the supermarket."

"Lent his name" is what George Foreman did with a line of indoor grills, which were invented by Michael Boehm, a salaried employee for the grill's original manufacturer who later asked the boxer to endorse the product.

Paul Newman, on the other hand, came up with the recipe and chose the ingredients for the salad dressing, the pasta sauces, and his other products, found a bottler, played a role in figuring out how to mass-produce these foods, and oversees the course of the business. As well he should. He owns it. It says right on the back of this jar of Italian Sausage and Peppers sauce, at the beginning of the sentence about donating all the post-tax profits and royalties to charity, "Paul Newman, as sole owner of Newman's Own®...." (Kind of sounds silly saying it—"Newman, sole owner of Newman's Own."

"Lent his name....."

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some leftover rotini with Tomato & Basil Bombolina to finish. And a copy of Butch Cassidy to hunt down.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Is The New Yorker published by Piranha Press?

It's weird—if you Google "beautiful stories for ugly children," you don't get the site www.beautifulstoriesforuglychildren.com until the third page. You do get this blog on the first page of results, though, with or without using quotation marks around the phrase. Which means I continue to get a decent flow of people seeing my posts after Googling those words. And maybe even one or two of them has read or will read something else I've written here, too. Who knows? I can only win.

Anyway, looking at those Google results, I found that a few listings beneath my site was this New Yorker story. It's pretty funny, but in a really sick way. It's a bit of short fiction by Paul Rudnick inspired by this New York Times article, which reports on a study that asserts that "parents take better care of pretty children than they do ugly ones."

Stuart Buck debunked the study, which failed to account for socioeconomic status, here. That was actually on the same day the New Yorker piece was posted on the web.

The premise of Rudnick's story? "I am the mother of an ugly child. She’s not deformed or handicapped or odd; she’s unattractive." The narrator goes on to elaborates on this point to absurd effect. A sample: "As she grew older, I referred to her as our new cocker spaniel, although no one really believed this, because, of course, cocker spaniels are adorable."

Paul Rudnick's treading a little close to Dave Louapre's territory with his beautiful stories about ugly children.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Of Margins and Timeliness

I somehow just noticed: that is a whole lot of white space on either side of the actual content, isn't it? Do I really need that much? Do people reading this? It seems like a bit much.

Also, I wanted to make a make a little clarification up in the title box that seemed like a clever and pithy comment about how slow I am to get around to doing stuff, relevantly writing and posting here. Provoked by John's waiting for the sure-to-disappoint Paul Newman post, I put into the blog description, "Timely I'm not."

However, it too much brings to mind the corny joke I used to make when driving past this business called the Timely Finance Company—"Look, it's my cousin Tim's finance company!" I read the top of the page here a minute ago and couldn't help finishing it, "Just so we're clear...Timely I'm not; Steveely I am." Wocka Wocka! ....And here comes Kermit to introduce the next act...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Six Degrees of Laziness

Often when I finish watching an old movie on VHS or DVD, I want to look on IMDB for who the actors are that I can't name and what else they've been in. Between sitting down at the computer, though, and actually looking for that info, I often spend a few minutes looking at blogs and whatnot. Stuff that doesn't require any typing.

Somehow, I often find—while leaning forward on my desk, chin on my left hand, left elbow on my desk, and the right hand occupied simply with a little mouse movement and clicking—it seems easier, and certainly more interesting, to just follow chains of collaboration to find the film in question. Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

For what it's worth, Wikipedia, after attributing the name of the game to a pun drawing on the near-rhyme with Six Degrees of Separation, has this to say about use of the name when Kevin Bacon isn't actually part of the chain:
The game has expanded to become more about linking two film actors than just one actor to Kevin Bacon. The name is still retained, however, because it has been shown that Bacon is a common link member in a chain.
Meanwhile, Patrick Reynolds at the Oracle of Bacon points out that Kevin Bacon is by no means the most common link member in such chains. A Bacon Number is the number of steps it takes to link some other actor to Kevin Bacon. Bacon himself has a zero. Anyone who was in a film with him has a Bacon Number of 1. Reynolds, a computer scientist at Duke University, calculated the Bacon Number of every single damn person in the Internet Movie Database and then came up with their equivalent number (Connery Number, Turturro Number, etc.) for each other. All 800,000 of them. Sheesh. And then he used that data to determine who's the most linkable person in the IMDB. (Most linkable, not most likable. He's useless to us there.) The Center of the Hollywood Universe, as he calls it.

Turns out Kevin Bacon isn't even in the top 1000. So despite Wikipedia's claim, I'm gonna have to say there's a thousand reasons that the name's just retained because the rhyme makes it fun.

If over a thousand actors have average Themselves Numbers under 3, just think how many have average numbers within 6. In light of that, it makes the game rather more interesting to use actors from different eras.

Back in the spring, I found myself connecting Tom Green to Humphrey Bogart. And the next day Haley Joel Osment to Fatty Arbuckle.

Anyway, last night when I wanted to know who the female lead was in the old Jeff Bridges movie I watched the other night and where I saw her before, I clicked from a bookmark onto the IMDB homepage and saw it was Woody Allen's birthday. Woody Allen was in The Curse of the Jade Scorpion with Helen Hunt, who was in Twister with Philip Seymour Hoffman, who, of course, was in The Big Lebowski with Jeff Bridges.

Forget just six degrees. If you include the explanation of all this, it has an absurdly high Laziness Number, compared to just typing into the search box "Tron."

The female lead, by the way, was Cindy Morgan and where I saw her before was nowhere.

Against Lewis's Oppostion and Gopnik's

Brendan Loy says what I wanted to, but better.

Update: Shortly after posting the above link to Brendan Loy's comments a couple days ago, I read this post from Mister Snitch. One of the things he talks about a number of times in it is adding value by providing some unique analysis of or lens on the content linked, something I didn't do here and something I really ought to do. After all, why read this blog if I'm only linking to blogs you'd read without me here?

So in addition to echoing Loy's point about why today's technology renders Lewis's opposition obsolete, I want here to connect a related point John J. Miller makes in an NRO article and, after addressing the presentation of Aslan in a movie, consider the question of his being a lion in the first place.

First, if you haven't read the Loy piece, obviously I think you should. I'll excerpt here, though, the key parts wherein he conveys well the same reaction I had to C.S. Lewis's 1959 letter expressing absolute opposition to a live-action production of the Chronicles of Narnia when I first heard of it on Boing Boing.
"Anthropomorphic animals, when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare. At least, with photography," he wrote in 1959. "Cartoons...would be another matter. A human, pantomime, Aslan would be to me blasphemy."

...Lewis's distinction between cartoons and non-cartoons seems rather outdated in this age of CGI effects. Perhaps 10 or 20 years ago, and certainly 50 years ago, it was true that a movie Aslan would inevitably "turn into buffoonery or nightmare." But, in light of what is now possible with computer graphics, this seems an unfair statement today. Certainly, Aslan will not be "human, pantomime," nor will he be primarily an object of "photography" -- he'll basically be a very realistic-looking cartoon.
Precisely the case.

Further, Miller in his excellent NRO piece* on why it's essential to read "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" first and NOT "The Magician's Nephew" (which properly comes sixth in the series) notes "a wise expert is not the same thing as a final authority" and makes the point that, having given us the finished works, they are no longer Lewis's alone to interpret and, moreover, Lewis himself agreed with that: "An author doesn't necessarily understand the meaning of his own story better than anyone else."

Now, there's certainly a difference between interpretation of a literary work—how we choose to read and understand it—and a creator's control over whether his book is turned into a movie. But the latter is a matter of copyright, which isn't at issue. The point is simply that if the author isn't necessarily the best judge of the meaning his own book in his own era, how much less suited is he to judge whether it ought to be made a movie more than 40 years after his death? This just underscores the points Loy makes above. Lewis was absolutely opposed to the movie that could have been made of Aslan's world in 1960. He had no way at all of expecting the kind of movie that would be made in 2005.

The movie aside, C.S. Lewis crafted a series of wonderful books, which are intelligently thought out, even if he did later wrongly prefer them read out of order. As to the content, as Miller says, "Lewis of course understood the meaning of Narnia." One person who disagrees, though, is The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik.

Gopnik clearly thinks Lewis doesn't know what he's doing. He describes Aslan, the lion who is the manifestation of Christ in the world of Narnia, as "not just an un-Christian but in many ways an anti-Christian figure." The article itself was linked at Tolle, Blogge, where R. Reeves summarized it as revealing "that the New Yorker knows little of the Incarnation, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, or Narnia" and which I found via Trawlerman's Song, where John notes that Gopnik gets it so wrong it's hard to believe it's in an established, well-regarded magazine.

Reeves quotes the following paragraph, in which Gopnik develops his Aslan-as-anti-Christian thesis:
Yet a central point of the Gospel story is that Jesus is not the lion of the faith but the lamb of God, while his other symbolic animal is, specifically, the lowly and bedraggled donkey. The moral force of the Christian story is that the lions are all on the other side. If we had, say, a donkey, a seemingly uninspiring animal from an obscure corner of Narnia, raised as an uncouth and low-caste beast of burden, rallying the mice and rats and weasels and vultures and all the other unclean animals, and then being killed by the lions in as humiliating a manner as possible—a donkey who reëmerges, to the shock even of his disciples and devotees, as the king of all creation—now, that would be a Christian allegory. A powerful lion, starting life at the top of the food chain, adored by all his subjects and filled with temporal power, killed by a despised evil witch for his power and then reborn to rule, is a Mithraic, not a Christian, myth.
Wow, where to begin? Well, as simplistic as it may be, how about with Google searches for "Christ as lion" and "Christ as donkey"? The former gives us about 98 results. The latter gives us....zero. (Except now, it'll probably give you this post. So that's annoying.)

Let's take a look at some of the Biblical precedent for Christ as a lion in a minute, but let's first give a couple more chances to Adam Gopnik's contention that in addition to the lamb, "his other symbolic animal is, specifically, the lowly and bedraggled donkey." A phrase in quotes, as in the previous paragraph, is pretty narrow, so to be fair, after seeing a number of references to the animal in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance but none I could tell to be representative of Christ, I tried a couple more search strings in Google:
  • donkey+represent+Christ
  • donkey+symbol+Christ
  • donkey+symbolic+Christ
That first search only returned one result that seemed relevant; it also came up with the second and third search. The second search brings up, amusingly, someone else who's quoting Gopnik. That's pretty much it. That third search string will give you results including the following two. There's this jewelry site, which says,
The [d]onkey is an animal symbolic of humility, peace and Davidic royalty (a donkey was a princely mount before the horse came into common use - the royal mount used by King David and his sons was a mule/donkey - see II Samuel 13:29). A donkey that had never been ridden was also appropriate for sacred purposes.
Well, humility, peace, and Davidic royalty are each things that have to do with Jesus Christ, but that's not to say that the donkey is symbolic of Christ himself, certainly. A page that gets into more detail about the symoblism associated with donkeys in the Bible starts off, very promisingly for Mr. Gopnik,
The lowly donkey has been used to represent Christ who, like the symbolic donkey, was both meek and mild. The donkey carried the material burdens of the poor, while Christ humbled Himself, and took on a life of poverty, in order to carry the heavy burden of man's sins. The donkey represents many of the characteristics of the self-abasing Christ: patience, courage, gentleness, peace, and humility.
However, while the author of that page draws that parallel, she doesn't cite any Biblical verses for the donkey representing Christ himself. As the page progresses, she cites specifically many Biblical references to donkeys and offers reasonable interpretation of the symbolism for each, but none of those verses shows Christ Himself to be represented by a donkey.

Is Adam Gopnik even suggesting that this there's any Biblical basis for his donkey/Jesus symbolism or only drawing a parallel himself? It very much seems to be the former to me, but I invite him to e-mail me and clarify.

As for his assertion that a lion doesn't qualify as a symbol for Jesus Christ, there are some verses and ideas he might want to consider. The key verses are Genesis 49:9,
Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
And a later passage that draws on it, Revelation 5:5-6,
And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
I like the succinctness with which this page explains** that the point in switching metaphors for Christ in quick succession from Lion to Lamb is that the same God who, as our King, judges us is the God who sacrificed Himself to save us from that judgment:
Though these two symbols seem to be opposites, they are in fact (to mix a metaphor) two sides of the same coin. The actions of the Lamb on our behalf provide for us the only way that we can be unafraid of the actions of the Lion.
The principal authority explaining the symbolism of Jesus as a Lion, though, is no less than Jonathan Edwards, one of the most important theologians in the history of America. [See here after 12/21/05.] He lays it all out in his sermon, "The Excellency of Christ," which can be found here. Edwards calls Christ a "Lion in majesty and a Lamb in meekness." A great many parts of his sermon are relevant in establishing this, but I'll excerpt just two paragraphs here.
He is called a Lion. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He seems to be called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, in allusion to what Jacob said in his blessing of the tribe on his death-bed; who, when he came to bless Judah, compares him to a lion, Gen. 49:9. "Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?" And also to the standard of the camp of Judah in the wilderness on which was displayed a lion, according to the ancient tradition of the Jews. It is much on account of the valiant acts of David that the tribe of Judah, of which David was, is in Jacob's prophetical blessing compared to a lion; but more especially with an eye to Jesus Christ, who also was of that tribe, and was descended of David, and is in our text called "the Root of David"; and therefore Christ is here called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah."

The lion and the lamb, though very diverse kinds of creatures, yet have each their peculiar excellencies. The lion excels in strength, and in the majesty of his appearance and voice: the lamb excels in meekness and patience, besides the excellent nature of the creature as good for food, and yielding that which is fit for our clothing and being suitable to be offered in sacrifice to God. But we see that Christ is in the text compared to both, because the diverse excellencies of both wonderfully meet in him.
Really, if Adam Gopnik wants to argue seriously that the lion is an un-Christian symbol for Jesus, an anti-Christian figure, even, he may want to start citing some scripture and presenting a pretty startling theology, because it's, at the least, Jonathan Edwards he's contending with, and I, for one, am intrigued to know why he doesn't find himself in dispute with the Apostle John.

As Reeves says, it's not so much the ignorance that annoys, it's the arrogance in lecturing a classic author that he doesn't get the basic message of his own faith. You know, he could have just taken a glance at Wikipedia.

Aslan the lion is an entirely suitable Christ figure and there's every reason to hope that his appearance in the upcoming movie is such that it would please even C.S. Lewis himself. It opens December 9th.





* One minor error in Miller's piece is his reference to Douglas Gresham as Lewis's son-in-law, when in fact Gresham was his step-son. Gresham's still wrong about the book order, though, and Miller's right.

** Updated to add the missing link. (Heh. That'd be clever if this post were about evolution or something.)