Thursday, February 07, 2008

Fictional drama features Masonic-ish brotherhood

Recently I watched a new episode of Psych, a comedy-drama on the USA Network. The show is about a young man who pretends to be a psychic investigator. He works for the police as well as on private cases.

This episode, called "Dis-Lodged," focused on a fictional "Monarch" Lodge that had many similarities, and a few humorous differences, to Masonic lodges.

A "tyler" stationed outside the building was a uniformed security guard, who exchanged a complicated and rather silly set of hand gestures with each member as they entered. Inside, in the anteroom, were portraits of famous Monarchs. The first one shown, but not identified, was W. Bro. and U.S. President Harry Truman. Other photographs of famous (in the fictional universe) brothers included many captains of industry and politics.

In the lodgeroom itself, the brothers were milling around, all in purple, hooded robes with grand-lodge-like sashes around their necks which had all sorts of mystical (but not Masonic) symbols on them.

Our hero mimics the elaborate hand gestures he saw someone else give at the door, fakes his way in, and finds on the lodgeroom floor, with disinterested, hooded brothers standing around, the body of a brother lying dead in the floor.

A few days later, the psychic is made a full member. Maybe they had a one-day class.

The Most High Patriarch of the lodge is played by Philip Baker Hall, who also starred as gameshow host and Freemason Jimmy Gator in 1999's epic movie Magnolia. In that movie, we hear him being told, "We met upon the level, and we part upon the square," by a brother just as he is taking the stage.

Spoiler alert: The murderer is revealed at the end of Psych to be a lodge member, a medical doctor who had been skimming funds from the lodge's large donations to various children's charities. The murdered brother had discovered the embezzlement and had been killed by the doctor.

Nothing like television to make "secret society" fraternities look bad.

Meanwhile, in real life, investigative reported Sandy Frost has posted "Two Years On," which is part 22 of her continuing investigation into alleged financial improprieties of the Shrine. "Two Years On" is a summary of all that's gone before.

Image: Maggie Lawson, who plays police officer Juliet O'Hara on the series "Psych."

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  1. Maggie Lawson, who plays police officer Juliet O'Hara on the series "Psych."

    Ah. She must be a member of one of those "clandestine" Co-Monarch groups that you hear so much about on teh intertubez nowadays.

  2. Terry Pratchett wrote a book, Guards, Guards," which features the lodge of the Illuminated Brotherhood, with very curious gestures, passwords and door keepers. It's a funny book, and the Illuminati are well written, Though they are used for an evil purpose by the "higher level," brothers.

  3. I love Psych. Number one on my DVR list of ways to waste time and loved the "Dis-lodged" episode. However, I didn't think it would make anybody think ill of our ancient and honorable Frat. In case you missed it, the Simpsons have an episode in which Homer becomes the master of the local "stonemasons" lodge and becomes drunk with power and burns their only copy of the ancient constitution. Very very funny. And let's not forget the Water Buffalo lodge from the Flintstones.

  4. from "Guards, Guards!" by Terry Pratchett:"

    The figure rapped a complex code on the dark woodwork. A tiny barred hatch opened and one suspicious eye peered out.

    '"The significant owl hoots in the night,'" said the visitor, trying to wring the rainwater out of its robe.

    '"Yet many grey lords go sadly to the masterless men,"' intoned a voice on the other side of the grille.

    '"Hooray, hooray for the spinster's sister's daughter,'" countered the dripping figure.

    '"To the axeman, all supplicants are the same height.'"

    "'Yet verily, the rose is within the thorn.'"

    '"The good mother makes bean soup for the errant boy,'" said the voice behind the door.

    There was a pause, broken only by the sound of the rain. Then the visitor said, "What?"

    '"The good mother makes bean soup for the errant boy.'"

    There was another, longer pause. Then the damp figure said, "Are you sure the ill-built tower doesn't tremble mightily at a butterfly's passage?"

    "Nope. Bean soup it is. I'm sorry."

    The rain hissed down relentlessly in the embarrassed silence.

    "What about the caged whale?" said the soaking visitor, trying to squeeze into what little shelter the dread portal offered.

    "What about it?"

    "It should know nothing of the mighty deeps, if you must know."

    "Oh, the caged whale. You want the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night. Three doors down."

    "Who're you, then?"

    "We're the Illuminated and Ancient Brethren of Ee."

    "I thought you met over in Treacle Street," said the damp man, after a while.

    "Yeah, well. You know how it is. The fretwork club have the room Tuesdays. There was a bit of a mix-up."

    "Oh? Well, thanks anyway."

    "My pleasure." The little door slammed shut.


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