And now for something completely different: a farce.

My alcoholic neighbor Dick and I went to see “The Da Vinci Code.”

The theater was packed. Looked like a sign of end times to me.

They stopped Dick at the door. You can leave your brain at home to watch this movie, but you cannot forget your shoes.

We went back to get them. Having seen the mob, I got my Viking sword, ran it down a pants leg and hobbled stiff-legged into the theater, figuring to file it between the good parts.

But the audience went, “Ssshhh, ssshhh, ssshhh,” in a pagan ritual chant. Dick joined in, transformed into a glass-eyed zombie. I quit before they lit their torches.

The movie has a stock plot. A man accused of murder must prove his innocence. He was caught in a conspiracy in which Jesus Christ was not divine, but was mortal and had a wife in Mary Magdalene with progeny who lived to this day.

Whoa!

If the great unwashed ever found out about it, it would blow the lid off the Christianity racket and presumably everything that issued from it, like the idea of separation of church and state and of individual freedom, although the writer, Dan Brown, did not touch such inconvenient repercussions.

For Brown, Christianity is a sham, and the Catholic Church would do anything to cover up that fact. Yet, in a divine miracle implied right in his story, not a single bishop blabbered for 2,000 years, not even after all that wine at communion.

The movie features secret codes, symbols and conspiracies, playing to our common experience that life being what is, devils must be at work somewhere.

But Brown lets neither history nor plausibility sully his whodunit.

Like the part about Constantine decreeing the story of the divinity. Never mind that Christianity had already been around for three centuries and that parts of the Gospels, actual manuscripts, predate Constantine.

Like the part about all those women killed by the Church. I searched my history books to no avail. That tale must be in some secret manuscript, one of those feminist revisionist texts guarded by rabid albino monks. You know the ones.

WARNING: I here reveal the ending. If you don’t want to know it, skip to CARRY ON.

Turns out the Holy Grail is not a cup, but the bones of Mary Magdalene entombed in a sarcophagus, King Tut style.

So, the Egyptians clearly had a hand in this thing, but Brown missed it, even though all his characters are looking for it.

The trail leads to a chapel in Scotland said to be built by the Knights Templar. Those fabled Templars could do anything. I lay it to their use of swords.

When the hero and heroine get to the chapel, the goods are gone.

Bummer. Foiled by the Scots.

At the end, the symbols come into alignment, like in astrology, and the story comes full circle back to the Louvre where it started.

Seems Mary Mag had been shipped from Scotland to Paris and planted under the glass pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre -- the one I.M. Pei finished in 1989.

Sure, we hear that the old Chinese-American architect has pretended to scratch his head wondering how they got it past him.

And we might easily say, “You can’t trust the French.”

But if I do not miss my guess, the Brits were in on it.

When they dug that tunnel under the Channel, they bored a secret offshoot to Paris to sneak in Mary.

I do not know how Brown missed this.

Finally realizing she is there, our hero, a professional tear-shedder, kneels, looks heavenward, bows and pays his knightly respects.

Fade to black.

CARRY ON.

Good thing I tote a hanky. Dick needed it.

My conclusions:

Pei was born in China. I suspected the hand of the Chinese all along.

That the French joined this conspiracy should surprise no one, but I expected better of the Brits and Scots.

As for Catholics, if Brown had not missed the real conspiracies, they would come off looking like saints.

I’m blowing the lid off this thing.

Throw in some aliens and winos, with a sexual interest involving mutant ducks, and I smell a blockbuster.

Nobody could possibly believe it.

It’s perfect.

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