December 30, 2004

Happy New Year!


Well, my friends, it's about time to wrap up my 2004 blogging. Not much more to say this afternoon and evening and we're heading out of town tomorrow for our annual celebration with the Llama Military Correspondent and family. We've been doing this with the LMC and Mrs. LMC for something like 14 years now and it has become quite the tradition. I already know exactly what kind of head I'm going to have Saturday morning.

If I don't post again until we get back, I want to wish all of you a very happy New Year. And I'll see you on the other side.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 03:26 PM | Comments (4)

"I Don't Know - I've Never Kipled."


Today is the 139th anniversary of the birth of Rudyard Kipling, a poet of whom I am quite fond. Here is a nice Kipling Society link where you can go and wallow in all things RK.

Working in Dee Cee and being actively involved in political debates, I am very often reminded of one of my favorite of his poems, The Gods of the Copybook Headings. Money, er, stanzas:

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.

UPDATE: Speak of the devils, the Colossus has a post up on the idea of forming a kind of U.N. version of FEMA to deal with global disasters like the tsunami.

I'm with the Big Guy on this. Thanks, but no thanks.

Posted by Robert at 02:49 PM | Comments (4)

Gratuitous Llama Courtesy Advice

Met the Butcher's Wife and the Llama-ettes at the Smithsonian for some lunch today. They came in on the Metro and the Missus asked me to pass along this plea:

Gentlemen - If you see a woman with three small children stuck standing up on the train and having a hard time keeping the littlest one from toppling over, would you please get off your duff and let them have your seat?

Thank you.

(I didn't think I'd need to say something like this, but evidently I do.)

Posted by Robert at 02:01 PM | Comments (1)

Will the Last Blogger To Leave Please Turn Off The 'Sphere?

Hello? -ello? -ello? -ello?

Echo! -echo! -echo! -echo!

Now batting, - atting, -atting, -atting.....

Manny Moto! -oto! - oto! -oto!

Posted by Robert at 10:38 AM | Comments (3)

Happy Holidays, Or Whatever

The Mad Sister has a very spot-on, if cynical, list of holiday observations and criticisms.

I'll add this to No. 1 - the box of chocolates picked up at Shoppers' Drugmart at 11:00 PM has nothing on the box of chocolates received from somebody else and designated for regifting at 11:00 PM. "Aw, we forgot to get something for Bill." "Well...give him these. It's not like we were gonna eat them anyway."

Posted by Robert at 10:18 AM | Comments (1)


I was absolutely dumbstruck yesterday when I opened up the latest issue of one of my alumni magazines only to discover a letter to the editor I wrote about six months ago. I had completely forgotten that I sent the thing, completely forgotten what it was about. Re-reading it, I had Clint Eastwood's question echoing in my head: Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?

The rhythm of blogging is such that the normal cycle of a given post's life - initial posting, commentary/linkage, follow-up/response - is usually run through while everything is still fresh in my mind. It was positively disconcerting to have a piece of bloviation so utterly forgotten suddenly appear on the doorstep so long after I had written it, smiling up at me and saying, "Daaaady!!!"

Posted by Robert at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

Tsunami Aid

To be perfectly honest, I have absolutely nothing intelligent to say about the tsunami. But unlike many, many other people I've seen, heard or read over the past couple days, I am not going to fall into the trap of saying something stupid just for the sake of saying something.

All I will do is ask that all of you consider doing something to help the relief effort. looks like a good place to go to get information.

Yips! to Chad, currently driving the Sandcrawler over at The Jawa Report.

UPDATE: Glenn, of course, has links to several other relief sites.

Posted by Robert at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)


Rae is on the cusp of hanging it up for a while. While we completely understand, we sincerely hope she changes her mind.

Feel free to go over and whine at her.

Posted by Robert at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

Tutto Siviglia Conosce Barrrrrtolo!

You don't think I'm going to pass up this quiz, do you?

Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro). For a
complete synopsis, see

Which Mozart Opera Does Your Life Most Resemble?
brought to you by Quizilla

Found hiding in a chair over at the Impenetrable One's place.

Posted by Robert at 08:26 AM | Comments (2)

December 29, 2004

I can feel Axis Sully's Righteous Indignation rising

From (where else?) The Cambodian Times:

KATHMANDU - A 75-year-old man in Nepal married a dog in a local custom to ensure good luck only to die three days later. Following a Tharu community custom which holds that an old man who regrows teeth must take a dog as a bride, Phulram Chaudhary tied the knot with a dog in Durgauli village in southwestern Kailali district. "He believed that this would help him avoid great misfortune later in life. However, he died a few days afterward," the state-run daily Gorkhapatra said.

How, with his busy schedule of tying virtuous maidens to railroad tracks, screwing widows out of their savings, and waxing his handlebar mustache, did Dick Cheney find the time to do it is my question? And, did he kick the dog?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by Steve at 04:51 PM | Comments (2)

December 28, 2004

Cogito Ergo Blog

So my dad asked me an interesting question today: Why do people blog?

Well, I replied, there are probably a lot of different reasons. Some seek notoriety. Some are looking for a way to lever themselves into other more traditional fields of writing. Some are just crackpots. Some are political operatives. The majority, however, write purely for the pleasure of writing and for the opportunity to sound off on whatever issues they feel are important.

YIPS from Steve: And some have found that an effective self-treatment for schizophrenia is to give the voices their own, um, forum.

YIPS from Lord Worfin, "Steve's" dominant personality: Yeah, what HE said, beeeatch!

Then my dad asked me another interesting question: What are the benefits that you derive from blogging?

Well, I replied, I can't answer for everyone else, but what I find most gratifying is the community or communities I've established with other bloggers which give me the ability to discuss whatever I like, to bounce ideas off of other people and to respond in turn to their ideas. Sure, I said, if someone from TechCentralStation of the Weekly Standard emailed in and asked me to write an article for them, I'd be thrilled. But in the meantime, I am quite content with this pixel-driven salon that is the Blogsphere.

YIPS from Steve: Well, the main one would be that I've gone a whole year now without aiming (let alone firing) a large caliber handgun at the tee-vee set, screaming "take that, Rather!" which to be perfectly honest has done wonderful things for my marriage. That, and standing in front of a crowded room of professional colleagues to ask Ana Maria Cox if is the long-feared nexus between online political commentary and online amateur porn. That was definitely a career booster.

Then my dad asked me yet another interesting question: What is the future of the Blogsphere?

Well, I replied, beats the holy hell out of me.

YIPS from Steve: I think Hugh Hewitt has nailed it. Unfortunately, Wonkette has nailed it too.

Friends, it's late and I'm due to get back to my ongoing Age of Empires II struggle between the Britons and the Vikings. I invite you to help yourselves to these questions and answer them, hopefully with more style and substance than I can generate at this point. Remember, Dad is almost sure to follow the links back to your sites.

YIPS from Steve:

Rob, I think the readers are ready for the long awaited-LLamabutcher Intramural Age of Empires Tournament. My Teutonic Knights will crush your measley archers into the mud!

YIPS! back from Robbo:

Buddy, I've got one word in response to your claim that your knights will crush my archers: Agincourt.

Bring in on!

Posted by Robert at 09:36 PM | Comments (13)

Donde Esta El Llama Roberto?

Pardon the light blogging today and tomorrow. The parental units are in town and I've taken a couple days off to hobnob with them. I'll be back on Thursday and then I'll be rigging for silent running as the family and I go off to visit the Llama Military Correspondent and his family for New Year's.

The excrutiating part about this hiatus is that my family provides as much or more material than did James Thurber's. However, since they read our blog fairly regularly, I really can't use it. D'OH!

Be good, everyone.

Posted by Robert at 09:13 PM | Comments (3)

December 27, 2004

Debunking a Christmas Meme

I just remembered something that I was ranting about to the ever-patient Butcher's Wife on Christmas Eve, namely the annual whining about the "dread" instructions "Some Assembly Required". This is a meme that has reached a saturation point equivalent to the panic in which Dee Cee residents love to indulge at the slightest hint of a snowflake within a hundred mile radius. In fact, what set me off was an article in the usually sane Wall Street Journal marketplace section about the supposed hardships people face trying to figure out the assembly of their (mostly children's) presents and the efforts of companies to placate their customers with more "user-friendly" instructions, including the use of words of one syllable wherever possible.

I hate this carping, hate it, because I think it represents not reaction to a genuine problem but instead simply decadent, self-indulgent, morale-sapping whining. People, what happened to that Frontier Spirit? Where is the American Can-Doism? What became of good old-fashioned Yankee Ingenuity? Do you think our grandsires, the Greatest Generation, who stormed the beaches at Normandy, would have started kicking their little heels and pounding their little fists because their kids' "Beauty and the Beast" play castle required them to figure out how to insert tab A into slot B? Do you think our parents who faced down Ivan and brought the Soviet Juggernaut to its knees would need counseling to overcome their feelings of anxiety because the printed instructions that came with their new stereo system are in three different languages and actually require them to, gasp, turn over the freakin' page? Of course not! And what would they think of us now? Think they'd lost the war, that's what. Think this country had been reduced to a gang of socialist Euro-weenies, they would. This makes me ill.

I've had to put together many toys and other presents in my puff, often times with instructions that were vague or otherwise unclear. I've also had to overcome instances where pieces did not fit together as they should. But I have never, ever had any trouble doing this. There is no problem here. All it takes to overcome these glitches is a little common sense and (on occassion) a bit of creativity. It does not require an orgy of panicked self-pitying helplessness.

In short, I don't want to hear any more of this nonsense. Don't make me start taking names.

UPDATE: Yikes! As The Colossus points out in the comments, Lileks was on about this today. But this is what I'm talking about. Did he wilt? Did he cave? Did he collapse Denathor-like under the oppressive weight of the thought of the Dark Manufacturing Lord's wrath? No! Rayther, he remained calm, cool and collected and stuck to his post. Well done, James.

I'd also note that Lileks' crisis centered on a couple of (temporarily) missing pieces. I sometimes finish a project with pieces left over. These I collect together and place in The Box of Many Things. No do-it-yourselfer should be without one. In a situation like James', it can really make the difference.


How 'bout a little Handyman Cheesecake?



Yips! to the Enlighted Cynic for the link.

Posted by Robert at 12:26 PM | Comments (14)

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Gardening Division

What better way to spend Boxing Day than to finally clean out my workshop and re-rig my indoor nursery? [Insert your own marijuana joke here.] The solstice is over - it's time to start thinking Spring.

My seed-starting station consists of half a dozen flourescent light fixtures hung from the rafters low over a wooden table. I've got the lights on a series of chains and beams that lets me lift or lower them altogether as appropriate. This year, I'm thinking about increasing the overall radiance a bit by putting some tinfoil around the sides of the table.

I don't have any kind of soil-heating system and have always wondered whether I should. The workshop isn't heated, but it is in the basement and pretty well insulated. And the lights throw off a modest amount of heat. In general, the lack of a heater doesn't seem to have had much of an effect in past years, but I wonder if I'm missing out on something. Do any of you gardening types out there use such a system? What do you think of it? Any observations or recommendations would be most appreciated.

Posted by Robert at 11:56 AM | Comments (4)

A New Shelf Buddy

For a long time, my copy of Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm led the life of an outsider in my library. The trouble was that I could never quite figure out where to put it. Yes, it's a sea story, but it's a lot more than that, so it really didn't fit in with my other maritime books. Yes, it's a current events/human interest story, but I didn't really have any others on the same topic (Man's struggles with Nature). And yes, it's an examination of natural phenomena. I suppose it could have gone with a couple of David Attenborough's Living Planet series books I picked up somewhere for the kids, but again, the fit just did not seem right. Thus, Perfect Storm remained isolated, a stranger in a strange land.

Well no more, because the Missus gave me this nifty little gem for Christmas:


Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, by Simon Winchester. The perfect stable companion for the Junger book. I think the two will be very happy together.

That is, of course, once I finish reading Krakatoa and actually put it on the shelf. But at the rate I'm going, that won't be very long.

UPDATE: How odd that I should have started reading this book on this day, of all days.

Posted by Robert at 11:24 AM | Comments (6)

Plum Watch - Code Blue!

Kathy the Cake Eater has finished her first Wodehouse novel, Ring for Jeeves, and is somewhat unimpressed by it:

This book left me with a not-unpleasant taste in my mouth, yet it certainly wasn't the most flavorful thing I've ever tasted. For as much as Wodehouse is heralded as the "funniest writer ever!" I certainly didn't fall off my chair at any of the hijinx in this particular novel. While I enjoyed finally being introduced to Jeeves, I'm up in the air about him as a human being. He may be a good and devoted servant, entirely unflappable, and one of the cleverest characters ever to grace the page, he was so above every other character in this novel that his talents seemed wasted on this lot of slackers. Finally, while I adored the language, the story the language was employed to tell was predictable. I certainly don't have any problem with formulaic novels, but this novel---and how do I write this politely?---bored me. I know. Heresy. But before you light the fire at my feet, know that it is possible for an author to make me green with envy with their prose and still bore me to tears with the story they're choosing to tell. Ask Don DeLillo about my reaction to his Underworld and I think he'll give you a clue.

However, she properly puts her finger on the major problem with this particular novel:

While I'm sure this isn't the best of the Jeeves catalogue, it's leaving me wondering about the rest. Is the rest different? What does Bertie add? Or is Bertie just like Bill and is completely uninteresting? (I know some will consider that last sentence to be slanderous, but hey, I'm a newbie. Cut me some slack.) My much beloved Hennepin County Library System hasn't coughed up the rest of the requested novels yet, so I'm unable to compare.

Oh, yes it is. Considerably different. I let fly with a snap-shot comment to her post:

The hallmark of the Bertie and Jeeves stories is the fact that they're told as first person narratives - as related by Bertie. (Ring for Jeeves and one short story are the sole exceptions.) The joy of the writing is the way in which Plum unfolds the plots in Bertie's particular jargon, which is a collection of half-remembered quotes from school, advertising jingles, news headlines, catch-phrases and slang, and also the way in which he manages to maintain Bertie's half-witted but sympathetic point of view. Jeeves, bless him, is a prop, not a character, whose chief function, aside from serving as the deus ex machina of the plot, is to provide a linguistic foil to Bertie's blather.

The other thing to bear in mind is that Wodehouse's work is light comedy fluff. Exquisitely crafted fluff, but fluff nonetheless, a kind of musical without the music. Searching too deeply for meaning or motive, or trying to judge any of the characters in real world terms, is the equivalent of poking holes in a souffle to find out what's inside. Poof!

(The business about the language, by the way, is why I dislike the Jeeves and Wooster tee-vee series so much. It is impossible to translate a written first person narrative to the screen, especially one in which the way the story is told is often funnier than the actual story itself.)

I also recommended that Kathy give Right Ho, Jeeves! or The Code of the Woosters a try to get the real flavor of the Bertie and Jeeves cycle.

Of course, there are people in the world for whom Wodehouse simply holds no fascination. I sincerely hope that Kathy doesn't turn out to be one of these folks and that she'll enjoy a second helping of Wodehouse more than she did the first.

Posted by Robert at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

Apres Moi, Le D'OH!

We had a really nice Christmas dinner on Saturday, just the Missus and I and the Llama-ettes.

As I may have mentioned before, our present to ourselves this year was putting a new set of French doors in the dining room. And because these projects have a way of snowballing, we also wound up putting new molding around both the dining room window and the doorway into the kitchen to match that around the new doors.

As I knew was going to be the case, Christmas Eve found me hurridly doing the touch-up work - a little spackling, a little sanding, some priming and painting, redoing the covers on the light switches and all - and then vacuuming, scrubbing and dusting the room to within an inch of its life.

And because all of that took so long, it threw the schedule for all the other preparations. (For example, we didn't get around to pulling out the good linen until midday Saturday - and ironing a tablecloth is a cast iron bitch of a job.) But in the end, it was well worth it. Saturday evening, when the table was laid and all the candles lit, the room looked terrific.

The Llama-ettes all got new dresses from their Nonny and Pops, so of course they wore these for dinner. We also decided to throw caution to the wind and let all of them use the good china and silver this year. This very evidently made a big impression on them, because they all behaved beautifully, even the two year old lunatic. They all said a blessing they'd apparently been working on and then insisted on doing a complete round of holiday toasts.

As to the menu, well, as far as I am concerned there really is only one choice: roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and two veg, Britain's greatest contribution to culinary culture and one of my very favorite meals. This was preceded by some Tio Pepe sherry and accompanied by a 2003 Beaujolais Morgon which, btw, my spies tell me is shaping to be a wine that, already pretty good and quite cheap, will improve with age. The only thing lacking for completion was some port and Stilton afterwards.

We wound up talking a lot about Santa, but the drive of the discussion was not all the stuff he had given to the girls, but rather, that the reason he gives presents to children is to set them an example of the kind of selfless goodness that Jesus taught. The girls, even though they tore into their loot Christmas morning as greedily as any buccaneer of the Spanish Main, glommed right on to this concept and seemed quite delighted with it. This was easily the high pont of the evening - I know that when I was six, something like Santa's agape simply never occured to me.

The low point of the evening occured at about 1:45 AM when, full to the Plimsoll mark with holiday cheer, and having just staggered into bed after watching way too much Monty Python, I was gently reminded by the Missus that I was supposed to be taking care of the neighbors' dogs while they were away and I had not yet let them out for their evening run. It's a good thing the Fairfax County police didn't happen by as I groped my way next door in sweater and pants hastily thrown on over jammies because they undoubtedly would have jugged me on the spot.

Posted by Robert at 08:57 AM | Comments (3)

December 26, 2004

The Meaning of Christmas

(I'm leaving this post at the top of the page all week by way of a Christmas card to our readers. Scroll on down for newer fare.)


Although it is generally silly to speak of transcendence and cartoons, I've always felt that there was one very important exception to this rule, namely, Linus' recitation of Luke 2:8-14 in "A Charlie Brown Christmas". Even as a kid, I recognized that there was something very special about the moment when Linus walks out to the front of the stage, the lights go dim around him, everything is hush and he begins to speak in calm, measured tones:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

As ridiculous as it may sound, just reading these words causes me to start tearing up. And Linus is absolutely right: This is the true meaning of Christmas.

I sometimes used to wonder how it was that in the midst of a rather poorly animated cartoon voiced over by a gang of child actors this moment could have come off as perfectly as it does, suddenly passing beyond the limits of the medium and touching on the greatest of glories. But it occured to me that the answer is really quite simple: Because Charles Schultz believed in what Linus said. I do, too. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

On that note, I wish to express my warmest wishes for the season to all of you who drop by our little piece of silliness, whether you're regular readers or just passing through. I'm sure plenty of you follow different faiths than I do, or may not even have a faith. That's okay. The message of Christmas on earth is not confined to a select group of believers but, as the man says, extends to everyone.

Merry Christmas and God bless you all, every one!

Posted by Robert at 09:38 AM | Comments (18)

December 24, 2004

My strongest Christmas memory

My most powerful and clear memory of Christmas as a child is from a year that I cannot place: I might have been eleven or twelve, probably no more than thirteen. The year doesn't matter.

We had a sort of renegade Roman Catholic Parish in those days, renegade in that our pastor--a saintly, kind old man named Father William Shields---was in a constant state of war with our bishop---His most Rotund Excellency Daniel Patrick Bishop Reilly, Bishop of Norwich, Connecticut. At the time, I thought that the war was because Father Shields was "old school"---that is, he was known to sing the mass once a month in latin and wasn't too keen on a whole slate of issues the Bishop was pushing. In retrospect, I now know the war was about something else, far, far worse: Bishop Reilly, now the Archbishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, was neck deep in with his lord and master the Most Reverend Bernard Cardinal Law of the Holy See of Boston. Standing between we the children of Saint Matthias Parish and the revolving stable of serial molesters being fobbed off by Law and his alcolyte Reilly was our old, stubborn, and deeply quiet pastor.

That Christmas was my first as an altar boy that I was old enough to be the crucifer, to lead the procession into the church. Christmas Vigil mass was always the best one of the year to attend at, as the red cassocks were broken out for that one occasion. There was always something about the stained glass windows too---they were shining brightly to the outside world, but inside they were oddly black, which always seemed fitting and appropriate at Holy Thursday as well as when walking Stations of the Cross, but seemed out of place for Christmas Eve. We would always line up in the vestibule next to the sacristy, and I can remember how dark it was in that hallway, the smell of the incense swirling, the heat of the candles behind me, the door in front of me with the mass schedule tacked to it. There were probably seven of us in line, plus the pastor. He would wait for us to stop fidgeting, and then would say, "Okay, boys, He's waiting" and the door would open.

I remember the door opening that night stepping off from the darkness of the hallway into the light of the church. The smell of the fir and the incense combined with the heat of the breath of the people smashing into the sound.

I have never felt anything in my life before or since like the feeling of stepping into that sound:

Adeste fidelis Laeti triumphantes Venite, venite in Bethlehem Natum videte regem angelorum Venite adoremus Venite adoremus Venite adoremus Dominum.

The feeling when that first Adeste hit me sent a wave through me, a feeling that became hardwired into me whenever I now hear those opening notes of Oh Come All Ye Faithful. The rest is a blur, of that day, and of Christmases growing up. But that one moment will be with me as long as I live.

Years later, after he retired and the Bishop finally had his unholy way with the Parish, I asked our pastor about what he would always say, "Okay, boys, He's waiting." I'd had some semeters of theology in college and wanted to talk about the idea of the Incarnation and all. He looked at me and laughed, not realizing the joke was on him.

"Steve, I was refering to Mr. Mostoway, the organist. He'd always get impatient and start playing faster if we didn't start on time."

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Posted by Steve at 04:06 PM | Comments (5)

December 23, 2004

Rolling Down The Awning Early

Well, I think I'm going to pack it in and go home. (Spending the afternoon with the family on a weekday - what a concept! Usually, I don't get to see the kids until the Arsenic Hour. And that's no fun for anybody.) I'll probably post a wee bit over the next couple days, but nothing too substantial. In fact, I probably won't be back up to full speed until after the New Year. But check in lots just in case.

In the meantime, thanks again for making the Llama Butchers the pleasure that it is and remember - if you enjoy reading it half as much as we enjoy writing it, then we enjoy it twice as much as you. Yip! Yip! Yip! [sound of Monty Python 16-ton weight falling on self]

Posted by Robert at 01:01 PM | Comments (3)

Gratuitous Christmas Music Recommendation


Handel's Messiah, of course, gets the lion's share of attention during the Christmas season, but if you are not already familiar with it may I heartily recommend that you pick up a copy of Bach's Christmas Oratorio? When I was a kid, I used to listen constantly to a record of highlights from the piece. A few years back, I bought the complete performance by John Eliot Gardiner, with the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir linked here.

This piece is really a compilation, with parts meant to be performed on different days between Christmas Day and Epiphany. But that doesn't mean you can't sit through it all at one go. Believe me, the time will fly by very quickly.

It is probably not profitable to compare these respective works by Handel and Bach, but I will say this: While I think both pieces are beautiful, the spiritual beauty of Messiah , as it were, lies for the most part in the text. On the other hand, the very music itself of Bach's Oratorio, to me, is a critical part of the spiritual experience, at once both a form of worship and at the same time a dim echo of the choirings of the cherubim and seraphim. (Every now and then we sing a hymn at Church to the tune of the Choral Wie Soll Ich Dich Enpfangen, which never fails to give me chills.) Handel's Messiah inspires us to seek to touch the Holy Ghost. But listening to Bach's Oratorio, I feel I am in its presense already.

Trust me on this.

UPDATE: Gee, I guess it's the inner Catholic in me coming out, because I was listening again this evening to this piece and two things occured to me: 1) I am intensly ashamed of myself for my own many weaknesses; 2) I have a tremendous amount of respectful awe and gratitude for those like Bach who inspire me to try to be better.

Posted by Robert at 12:44 PM | Comments (4)

The Perfect Gift For The Saint In Your Family

I noticed yesterday that a new hand-towel had appeared in our downstairs loo. (Although I haven't asked yet, I'm pretty sure it was a present and I'm pretty sure I know who gave it.)

Anyhoo, the towel caught my attention because on it are the words "Stop Me From Volunteering AGAIN". I knew immediately that this little joke was aimed at the Missus.

Consider this:

- The Butcher's Wife is O/C the daily routine of our three extremely boisterous and energetic Llama-ettes. She also has direct control of much of the household management work.

- She teaches at the gels' school from nine in the morning until early afternoon (getting home in time to meet the preschool/kindergarten wave of returning kiddies).

- She is active on a number of committees and guilds at our Church.

- She is a long time member of the Junior League.

- She is an active alum of her college and is heavily involved in the school's recruiting program.

- She recently co-hosted the neighborhood Christmas Party (thankfully, not at our house).

- She has just joined another local women's group that does both social and community projects.

- All of this on top of an extremely active social schedule. (It amazes me how many people my wife knows.)

I should also mention that the Missus never does anything half-assed. When she takes on a project or an activity, she typically dials up the afterburners and firewalls it.

I must say that I admire both her energy and her dedication to such worthy causes. Compared to her, I'm a deadbeat slacker and a curmudgeonly recluse. But when she wonders why she's exhausted, I sometimes want to whang her over the head with her planning book. Hell-oooo! Mc-Flyyyyy!

All of this is by way of setting up my comment on the new towel: Heh, indeed.

Posted by Robert at 11:05 AM | Comments (3)

"The Sky Is Falling!" Watch

George Will has thoughts today on Michael Crichton's new book State of Fear, a story of eco-pessimism run amok and enviro-fascists taking on the role of the firemen in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 by deliberately causing natural disasters in order to reenforce their own position (and power).

I've never read any Crichton and generally do not like conspiracy-theory books, but this one looks entertaining.

UPDATE: Dean has a post up on fearmongering for dollars, as practiced by the enviro-fascists and others.

Posted by Robert at 10:36 AM | Comments (7)

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

Monday and Tuesday, me bum nearly froze off as I walked to the office. Yesterday, a balmy, spring-like day, I had to take my jacket off as I sauntered across the Mall. Today it is even warmer and raining. Tomorrow, another Fed-Ex delivery of air straight from the Yukon gets to town. By Saturday, the high won't even break the freezing mark.

Winter in Washington. It's not polar, but it's certainly bi-polar.

Posted by Robert at 08:49 AM | Comments (8)

December 22, 2004

Bloggy Metamorphosis

I meant to mention this earlier, but The New England Republican has become a group blog, with six new contributors coming aboard. Be sure to stop by and say hello to them all.

Posted by Robert at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

News Flash

Stop what you're doing right now and go see Beautifully Atrocious Jeff's chart tracking the evolution of Katie Couric. If you're at work, I strongly suggest you close your door first. Also, the No Hot Beverages Rule is now in effect.

Posted by Robert at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

Holiday Cheer

Kathy the Cake Eater very properly spanks the Galley Slaves for getting worked up over blended malt whiskey, however pricey. As Kathy says, if you're going to blow that kind of jack, single malt is the better way to go. Ay-men.

I'll take it even farther, because I've developed a real taste for the Islay single malt. I luuuuuv that peaty taste. So for me this is the grand poobah of them all:


Mmmmmm......peaty taste......mmmmmmmmm.

Posted by Robert at 03:14 PM | Comments (7)

That Old Urban Legend About the Green Ones Is Absolutely True!

I saw this one coming before I was a quarter of the way down the post - The Colossus is collecting customized M&M's. Yet another log on the Orgle-Gate fire.

Posted by Robert at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

Personally I'm holding INDC Bill, John Ashkroft, and the Swift Vets Responsible for this

and don't forget those evil Repugnikans for underming the cause of demokracy.

Posted by Steve at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

It's Cul-chah, Man, Cul-Chah

INDCent Bill pops Philip Kennicott's take down of the new movie version of Phantom of the Opera in the WaPo. Specifically, Bill ranks on Kennicott's apparently snobbery-blinded assessment of Emmy Rossum's singing qualities. I believe Bill's instincts are probably right, even though neither he nor I have seen the movie.

Frankly, I don't intend to, either. Andrew Lloyd Weber gives me the guts-ache. I got dragged to see a stage version of Phantom at the Kennedy Center years ago and thought it the shlockiest thing I'd ever had to endure. But it's one thing to trash a piece simply because you don't like it. It's something else entirely to trash (as here) a performance because you don't understand it.

Posted by Robert at 11:43 AM | Comments (6)

Fruit of the Loom

I find this sad, but not for the reasons that our favorite Commie thinks so.

Posted by Steve at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

"I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah."


On December 22, 1864, Gen. William T. Sherman sent this message to President Lincoln, announcing the capture of Savannah by Union forces.

I like to remember this event in particular because a certain other Llama around here, for all of his Connecticut Yankee sensibilities, actually has an ancestor who took part in the fifteen minute Confederate defense of the City. I, on the other hand, who have at least some Southern sympathies,* have an ancestor who fought for Sherman in the Atlanta campaign, although by the time Sherman hit Savannah, he and his unit (the 10th Ohio Independent Battery), had been posted to garrison duty in northern Georgia.

Funny old thing, Life, innit?

*More on that when we come around to Robert E. Lee's birthday. No, I don't support slavery or the CSA's right to secession arguments, so nasty emails are not necessary.

Posted by Robert at 10:38 AM | Comments (2)

Gratuitous Political Post

As you may have noticed, I haven't had much to say about politics lately. Just more interested in cultural matters at the moment, especially with Christmas upon us. However, I will throw out this observation for what it's worth:

Those people hellbent on scalping Donald Rumsfeld are doing so for purposes of domestic politics only. I find this disgusting.

I find it particularly ironic that those on the left howling the loudest about under-equipped troops are the same ones who typically sport "What if the Air Force had to hold a bakesale to buy one B-2 Bomber" bumperstickers. As for their outrage over the whole death-notice signature kerfluffle, I understand that it is at least theoretically possible to support the troops while opposing the war, but I don't believe for an instant that most of these people adhere to that philosophy. "Crocodile tears" is, I believe, the correct expression. In fact, I believe this entire outburst is, at least for the Left, nothing more than payback for the election and I dismiss about 98% of it as pure blather.

I am more concerned with those on the right - McCain, et al, who now appear to have joined the scalping party. For McCain, this is pure political bet-hedging, a ploy to keep in with the middle in case Rumsfeld (and Bush) flame out in Iraq. He has got his eye so firmly fixed on '08 that I'm beginning to think of him as Hillary in Drag. As for some of the others - Lott and Hagel, for instance - this is simply an opportunity to pay Rumsfeld back for his efforts to reform the military. Rummy is seriously rocking the boat and these folks don't like it.

In normal times, there would be nothing extraordinary, or even all that disturbing, about any of this behavior. But these are not normal times and these people seem to have forgotten that we're at war. Rumsfeld is certainly no saint and he may not be the perfect SecDef, but he's a very good one. Trying to take him down from motives of revenge or political calculation under such circumstances displays, in my mind, a mindset that still does not grasp what we're up against. I find this brand of 9/10 Syndrome to be particularly appalling and repugnant.

That is all.

Posted by Robert at 09:59 AM | Comments (4)

There Will Always Be An England

Tim Worstall relates a little holiday story guaranteed to get a hoot from all Anglophiles.

Posted by Robert at 09:24 AM | Comments (0)

Prepare To Be Shocked

You Are "Silent Night"
Silent night, holy night All is calm, all is bright Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child Holy infant so tender and mild Sleep in heavenly peace

You never forget that Christmas is about the birth of Christ.
Santa and eggnog are just gravy

What Christmas Carol Are You?

As it happens, I think "Silent Night" is okay, but my Top 5 Christmas hymns include:

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel" (if I had to choose, my absolute favorite)
"What Child Is This" (to the tune of "Greensleeves" - which I am quite prepared to believe was penned by Henry VIII)
"Angels We Have Heard On High"
"The Coventry Carol" (which one almost never hears anymore 'round here - all that talk of Herod's rage is probably too offensive)
"Angels, From the Realms of Glory"

See a pattern here? Old and Sacred. Can't go wrong.

This isn't to say that I don't like any of the more modern and/or secular stuff (although there is a good bit of it that I simply can't stand). Rayther, as the little blurb above says, all of that is just gravy. (By the way, no Lynn, you're not the only one who likes "The Carol of the Bells.")

And while we're on the subject, can I just say here and now that I am sick and tired of people who swoon all over the "Halleluja" Chorus from Handel's Messiah? I mean, it's a very good coronation anthem and all, but a) it is more appropriate to Easter and b) there are plenty of other choruses in the oratorio which, IMHO, are just as good, if not better. Listen to some of the rest of the piece! (My favorite for the season happens to be "For Unto Us A Child Is Born" although I'm also quite partial to the song "O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion". I recently bought a CD of a recording by Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert from back in the 80's and I'm quite pleased with it.)

Yips! to Lawren for starting this rant.

UPDATE: Parallel minds, Dept. I started reading this post by Annika and didn't get half way through the first verse of the New International Version of Isaiah, Chapter 40 before I started hearing Handel's treatment of if. As a King James Version devotee, I was beginning to get a bit maddened by the clash of translations until I scrolled a bit farther down. Amen, indeed.

Posted by Robert at 09:10 AM | Comments (5)

Heh, Is All.

Brian at Memento Moron posts up something I'd never seen before - James Thurber's 1927 parody of Earnest Hemingway retelling "The Night Before Christmas."

Let's just say that ol' Papa is the water buffalo instead of the big game hunter this time. I'll bet he didn't think it was s'damn funny.

Posted by Robert at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2004

No Llamas Were Butchered In The Creation of This Post


From the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack, another satisfied customer:

I think that you people are dis[g]usting and I don't even see why you would like to even consider killing a llama. Llamas are cute. What did they ever do to you people? I think you just want to kill them for fun and that's just wrong! So please e-mail me and tell me what you think and also tell me why you kill llamas.

Ah,, we've asked ourselves that question many times before, considering we are llamas ourselves, after all. Indeed, I often feel just like Sting:

There’s a moon over Lima Street tonight
I see faces as they pass beneath the pale lamplight
I’ve no choice but to follow that call
The bright lights, the Incas, and the wool and all
I pray everyday to be strong
For I know what I do must be wrong
Oh you’ll never see my shade or hear the sound of my bleat
While there’s a moon over Lima Street

It was many years ago that I became what I am
I was trapped in this life like an innocent llam(a)
Now I can never show my face at noon
And you’ll only see me orgling by the light of the moon
The brim of my hat hides the eye of a beast*
I’ve the face of a sinner but the hooves of a priest
Oh you’ll never see my shade or hear the sound of my bleat
While there’s a moon over Lima Street

She walks everyday through the streets of Arequipa
She’s innocent and young from a family of alpaca
I have stood many times outside her corral at night
To struggle with my instinct in the pale moon light
How could I be this way when I pray to God above
I must love what I destroy and destroy the thing I love
Oh you’ll never see my shade or hear the sound of my bleat
While there’s a moon over Lima Street

*[Ed. - Well, duh...]

Don't worry, Sweety. The only thing that actually gets butchered 'round here is foolishness.

(UPDATE: Yes, I know this is probably a spammer or a kid. But truth be told, I don't have very much patience with either one.)

Posted by Robert at 04:39 PM | Comments (5)

It's The Extreme, Baby!

Yesterday in a What Would Dusty Do? post, I stated that I was not even going to bother watching my helpless 'Fins take on the Reason Bobby Lee Was Right New England Patriots.

Well, what with one thing and another, I did wind up watching the game. Okay, it wasn't so much a 'Fins win as it was a Pats loss. But we'll take it. I was a little apprehensive about how Gregg Easterbrook was going to treat the game today, but I need not have worried. He's not shooting fish at the moment:

New England Analysis Special!

Tuesday Morning Quarterback's AutoText can practically write this item -- which is a sign of how badly the once-perfect Patriots botched their tactics last night. First, Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed At All. Leading 28-23 with 1:52 remaining, the Flying Elvii faced third-and-9 on the Miami 21, the Dolphins down to two timeouts. Run the ball, force them to burn another timeout, and then you're punting back to a low-voltage offense which to that point had sputtered to gain just 210 yards at home. Doesn't that scenario favor the Flying Elvii? Instead Charlie Weis called a pass. Second, Crazy Pass Watch. Last week Tom Brady threw a pass whilst positioned on his keister (this is a technical term). The sports world praised Brady as charmed but yours truly said, "Plays like this almost always backfire: Tom, don't ever think about doing this again." With 1:52 remaining last night Brady threw from his keister once more, and this time the result was an interception. Third, Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Now it's Miami facing fourth-and-10 on the New England 21 with 1:29 showing. Is Romeo Crennel distracted too? For two years during the Patriots' mega-streak, he has resisted the urge to call silly big blitzes. Now Crennel calls a silly big-blitz, sending seven gentlemen after A.J. Feeley; touchdown pass, and Miami wins. Ay caramba! Ye gods! Yumpin yiminy! Good golly Miss Molly!

Aaaaah, hahahahahaaaa! Rueage, indeed! Any time the 'Fins can take a game off the Pats, I consider the season to have been at least partially successful. We're still in the Suck Zone, but no longer under the Finger of God.

Posted by Robert at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)

This Is Your Blog On Drugs


Actually, it's the TypoGenerator, a cool little exercise in Google-based abstract art. Go on over and play around with the thing for a bit.

Yips! to the Flying Space Monkey.

Posted by Robert at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

Snicker Doodle Silk? He Still Owes Me Money!

Sad to say, there'll be one less place setting for dinner at the Annual Llama Holiday Reunion. At least this might get you lot off the orgling jokes for a while.

Duck and Cover Yips! to the Carnivorous Conservative.

Posted by Robert at 09:40 AM | Comments (5)

Remember, It's "For The Children"

Douglas Kern evidently has been at the spiked egg-nog a wee bit early, judging by this hilarious debate with his, erm, Not Brother-In-Law, over P.J. O'Rourke's assertion that Santa is a Democrat.

My favorite point/counterpoint moment:

KERN: Santa's aggressive adherence to a binary naughty/nice list suggests an impatience for nuanced moral positions that betrays his Republican preferences.

NOT BROTHER-IN-LAW: Santa's list is to presents what Scripture is to Episcopalianism: a meaningless set of prescriptions meant to allay the concerns of the far right. Surely you have noticed that millions of "bad" people receive excellent presents every year.

Ain't it the truth. Game, set and match as far as I'm concerned. Santa remains a Donk.

Yips! to James Joyner.

Posted by Robert at 09:29 AM | Comments (2)

Drink This

I've seen this kind of thing before, but never in this much detail: A county-by-county map of preferred soft drink terms. Pretty interesting. I'm guessing that some of the data are a bit skewed, however. I grew up in Texas. Like most people there, I say "Coke". But I noticed one county way down in the Rio Grande Valley that is listed as going 30%-50% "pop". That's a fluke and I'd bet that it resulted from a very small survey sample.

Speaking of such things, I suddenly remembered an old Shasta jingle from (I think) the 80's the other day:

Don't gimme that so-so-soda,
that same ol' cola
I wanna rock-n-rolla.
I wanna pow-pow-pow,
I wanna...Ssshasta!

Anyone else remember that? I always thought it was kinda catchy.

Yips! to The Colossus.

Posted by Robert at 09:04 AM | Comments (8)

The Triumph of Christmas

I'm with C.S. Lewis on the point that Christmas has no meaning unless you also accept the concept of Evil---what's the victory gained for the Annointed One if there is not actually a struggle with incarnate evil? The Screwtape Letters are a wonderful literay expulcation of this very important theological point. But, if you don't have the time to read and meditate, the LLamas have an E-Z way: just gaze on THIS picture as the sure sign that their is a Devil and his works are nefarious and everywhere:


Merry Christmas, Pedro, you *&&%!!!-orgler! And to your good-luck midget, too!

Posted by Steve at 08:29 AM | Comments (2)

Kathleen lays down the law

What can you say, the girl needs her vodka with her Cheerios...

Posted by Steve at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

The Axis Sully Mad Lib Contest

Rewrite this Sully column to include "gay marriage."

Actually, you could just take it to the next level and do a reverse "Mad-Lib" Sully column-generator where instead of having paragraphs with blank spots for mad libbing, you would have blank paragraphs surrounding strategically located pre-planted references to the righteousness of gay marriage, the unequalled in human history evil of the Amerikan Theocratic Right wing jackals, etc.

Posted by Steve at 08:13 AM | Comments (1)

Linux on the true meaning of Christmas

Forget Linus, THIS is enough to get me to break out into the Snoopy dance.

Actually, we did that last night, before dinner: I cued up the Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas CD, and the kids and I did the Snoopy~Woodstock dance around the Christmas tree. Sure, Currier & Ives would have used their engraving styluses to gouge out their eyes, but I liked it.

Guaraldi has been in heavy rotation as of late, as has various versions of the Nutcracker, Wyndham Hill, some Amy Grant thingee from 1993ish, and a CD of our church's choir doing all the Canterbury standards. The White Whale for me, though, is/would be a CD of the original Bing Crosby Christmas Album, the one where the first song is "Adeste Fidelis," and he sings the first stanza in beautifully correct pre-Vatican Two Irish American Catholic Latin. And by copy of the original I mean a CD that would include the pop and hiss of the LP....

So, what IS the definitive Christmas album, keeping in mind that the correct answer is:

peanuts christmas.jpeg

YIPS! from Robbo: I don't know how many hundreds of times I've listened to this album, but I simply never get tired of it. Ever.

Posted by Steve at 08:06 AM | Comments (3)

How many mixed nuts do you need to get a Hickory Farms Holiday Sampler?

Okay, it's not even 7:15 here in the Old Dominion and we've already gotten visited by people who googled up:

Naked soccer commericals


Rocket powered llamas

not to mention

turkey porn free

Rob's soon to be favorite

Gollum Christmas pics

and the truly bizarre

Charley Rangel kicks ass

It looks like it's going to be one of those days. At least the person who used to visit us bi-weekly by googling up "Margaret+Thatcher+Condi+girl on girl+action+flick" has been leaving us the hell alone. That, and all the cretins looking for "Jennifer Millerwise Margaret Tutwiler Victoria Tori Clark nekkid pictures" have gone away. All I can say is, thank goodness, you group of orgling orglers.

Sheesh. The nerve of some people.

We are, however, the LLamas to see if you are in particular need of those Judy Woodruff/Margaret Carlson "lost weekend in Cabo San Lucas" DVDs, if that's what it takes to get you over the hump for the holidays....

Posted by Steve at 07:27 AM | Comments (1)

Sherman, Mr. Peabody, and STeve the LLamabutcher

I'm heading out to Colonial Williamsburg today with the family, and will hopefully have a picture report later. I haven't been blogging much the past week or so, partly as a result of 1. end of the semester grading; B. we've had my wife's aunt, who is a real stitch, as a houseguest so we've been doing all sorts of family stuff, and III. the laptop is getting a new power thingee so blogging has to be done from the desktop in the basement kingdom, which puts a cramp in things to say the least.

WARNING: The dear one and I went to see "Spanglish" last night, which was being billed as a romantic family comedy thingee. I was suspicious about Adam Sandler playing the family guy dad, but the dear one---who usually will only consent to going to a movie if it's an adaptation of something a. that they read in book club or ii. they talked about in bookclub. However, she does have a soft spot for Tea Leone, who played Sandler's wife.

Anyhoo.........the movie is an utter disaster. Painful does not begin to describe it. I mean, I was rooting for, I don't know, a giant asteroid to suddenly materialize and destroy LA, or to have dirty cop Kurt Russell come by being chased by Ving Rhames or something, or maybe Sandler's restaurant getting blown up by a vindictive Vin Diesel, or Nick Cage as the mute delivery man come and release a herd of horned frogs, or Vince Vaughn to walk on all Mac-cked up, get my drift. You all know I love bad movies---but dammit, there's an art to the truly bad film. Spanglish isn't a bad movie---it just sucks egg whites, lacking even the punch to put the damn yolks in.

Posted by Steve at 07:18 AM | Comments (1)

December 20, 2004

New-To-Me Blog Update

Here I am trying to get into the Christmas spirit with thoughts of good will towards others when Sheila goes and introduces me to Veiled Conceit. A couple minutes perusal of Zach's merciless take down of the denizens of the New York Times wedding announcements column and I'm right back to my old snarky self, cackling with amused contempt.

Well, what can I say, other than "Heh, heh, heh!"

Posted by Robert at 04:29 PM | Comments (1)

"What Would Dusty Do?" - Update


Normally, a Monday night game late in the season between my 'Fins and the New England Fifth Columnists Patriots is well worth watching, as it usually has a direct impact on who is going to win the Division. Also, when, as this year, it's being played in Miami, the 'Fins have always got a better shot at winning.

Given all this, I would usually block off the evening for some serious football fandom and begin to prepare myself for the fact that I won't be getting anywhere near enough sleep. But we're 2-11 this year. We're so firmly in the Suck Zone that I'm not even going to bother watching the game.

All I can do now is take the "Well there's some good news - I mean it did fly..." approach and dream of the rueage in store for the AFC East and the rest of the League once we get our collective act back together. (Yeah, I'm thinking of you, Jen.)

I'm talking imminent rueage.

YIPS from Steve:


YIPS! Back from Robbo: Saw the game after all. Any time we can take at least one off the Pats, the season can't be a total loss. Woo-Hoo! It's the Extreme, Bay-bee!

Posted by Robert at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

More Cold Cul-Chah Blogging

Crikey, it's 3:00 P.M. and it's still only about 20 degrees outside here in Dee Cee, with wind whipping along as hard as ever. I'd really like to nip up to Starbucks and grab a latte, but by the time I got it back, it would be stone cold.

Speaking of which, I finally remembered what was hovering around the back of my mind all day - a gratuitious musickal posting (TM) notion relevant to this weather.

The great English composer Henry Purcell wrote a semi-opera called King Arthur, or The British Worthy, with a libretto by the also-great John Dryden. The opera has little to do with the Arthur we think of in connection with the Grail and the Round Table and instead follows a complicated plot involving the kidnapping of a maiden named Emmeline by the evil Saxon Oswald and Arthur's attempt to rescue her. The musical interludes, in turn, are sometimes directly related to the action and sometimes not, instead going off into various allegorical subjects such as Love and Virtue.

Anyway, Act 3, Scene 2 of the piece opens with what is known as the "Frost Scene". In it, Cupid wakes up the Cold Genius and challenges him for dominion over Britain. The Cold Genius has a particularly bone-chilling song as he awakes, sung in a slow staccato with many repeated syllables and accompanied by scraping "shiverings" on the violin:

What power art thou, who from below,
Hast made me rise, unwilling and slow,
From beds of everlasting snow?
See'st thou not how stiff, and wondrous old,
Far unfit to bear the bitter cold?
I can scarcely move or draw my breath,
Let me, let me, freeze again to death!

The passage builds up to an anguished climax in the last line before dying out on "death", which is sung softly and with an extra hissing expiration at the end on the "tttthhhh".

You can get a taste of the Cold Genius' lament here. It's just the thing for this kind of weather. (I had a girl friend in college -granted, she turned out to be a psycho- who was so terrified of this song that she absolutely forbade me to sing it anywhere within her hearing.)

And if you are interested in exploring Purcell's music further, I'd heartily recommend picking up the recording I linked above. You'll find a little of everything in this particular opera, from a very seductive duet by a pair of sirens ("Two daughters of This Aged Stream"), to the sublime "Fairest Isle", to a very British anthem ("St. George - Our Natives Not Alone Appear"), complete with trumpets and drums.

Posted by Robert at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)

More Bach Blogging


I've mentioned before what I call the Bach State of Mind, that particular yet inexplicable set of internal and external factors which somehow grants me brief periods of illumination in which I can play some of Bach's keyboard works at least well enough to enjoy them. Lately, I've been privileged to an extended run of this illumination, indulging myself with Bach's French Suites, Partitas in French Style and Goldberg Variations.

Well, such things unfortunately cannot last. Over the weekend, I began to sense that the Muse has been packing her bags on the sly and is sidling towards the door, leaving me to flounder on my own.

As I struggled through a series of horrid dischords Sunday afternoon, I found myself cursing like a bishop because I was so caught up in trying to just hit the right notes that I couldn't even begin to concentrate on making the music.

To paraphrase Douglas Adams, trying to play Bach without the proper level of technical mastery is rayther like trying to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius in your head while your house is burning down.

Posted by Robert at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

Oh, Great. Just What We Needed.

Regular readers have been following the ongoing saga of Orgle-Gate. But now the Colossus, in an otherwise thoughtful post on blogging dynamics, is calling us a "two-headed blog". How long do you suppose it's going to be before our gang of so-called "friends" stop making snide remarks about naughty alternative lifestyle llama goings-on and shift over to new jokes about genetic mutant self-abuse?

(N.B. to Colossus - I keep trying to register to comment at your site, but MT refuses to believe I exist.)

Posted by Robert at 01:28 PM | Comments (4)

Beware! Beware! Her Flashing Eyes, Her Corn-Rowed Hair!

This is what happens when you leave your blog for a couple days and forget to put padlocks on the liquor and medicine cabinets.

Posted by Robert at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

I always knew the Sandcrawler was a Woodie

Surfin' Safari over at The Jawas.

Posted by Steve at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)

Going to Hell In A Wheelbarrow

I've always assumed that I am probably doomed to perdition or, at the least, a good long stretch in purgatory. But I always reckoned this would be in connection with various sins of the flesh (well, thoughts of them, anyway). I had no idea that something as apparently wholesome as gardening could get you a one-way ticked to Hades. But our pal Chan the Bookish Gardener runs right down the list of the Seven Deadly Sins of the Trowel.

I have to admit that I'm completely busted. Although I've never been a horder, so quite possibly would be let off on the charge of avarice, I more than make up for it with double helpings of bunny anger and catalog gluttony. And this is to say nothing of the perverse pleasure I derive from laying waste to the local slug population.

However, there is hope of salvation, as Chan also notes the presense of grace in the garden. Although I've now got a certain well-known Aaron Copeland piece maddeningly lodged in my head, thereby probably banking up some more anger points against myself, I know exactly what she is talking about. The next time I feel myself slipping into the way of evil while out pottering, I will be sure to appeal to Our Lady of the Blessed Leaf Mulch.

Posted by Robert at 08:52 AM | Comments (2)

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Must. Kill. The Child. Dept.

I was quietly reading the paper before dinner yesterday evening when my two year old came bounding in and insisted on climbing up into my lap. As usually happens on these occassions, we began to play a game in which my hand is a tickle monster and she tries to convince it to attack me instead of her. "Oh, Mister! Mister!" she says, looking at it and pointing at me. In the game, I always turn my hand towards my face and then slowly back around towards the girl. My hand then slowly shakes its "head", points at her tummy and attacks. She thinks this is hysterical.

As I say, we do this all the time. But I suppose last evening she felt the urge to add an extra spot of oomph to the game, because suddenly her eyes blazed, her grin turned downright wicked and she peed on me.

I've used a great variety of language in dealing with my children, some of it rather course. But I think this was the first time I've been reduced to simple, inarticulate roaring. This startled the girl exceedingly. Ordinarily, one might worry that such alarm would cause a small child to, say, wet her pants. But of course in this case, that concern had already been rendered moot.

Rotten fiend.

Posted by Robert at 08:22 AM | Comments (1)

Random Commuter Thoughts


Dayum it's cold outside! And what's worse, the wind is still whipping in like it's never going to stop. I heard it all last night wailing away like a banshee and setting those whirly attic vents on top of the roof shrieking in harmony and was actually dreading having to face it this morning.

Oh, just in case you were wondering, we got our first snowfall of the year yesterday evening - a very light dusting out by me. Not even enough for the "baby snowman" my four year old wanted to build.

Posted by Robert at 07:59 AM | Comments (4)

December 18, 2004

Jocularity, Jocularity!

Click here to take the M*A*S*H quiz!

Slightly surprising, but a hell of a lot better than some of the options.

Yips! to Tuning Spork over at Blather Review.

Posted by Robert at 08:25 PM | Comments (2)

Ain't It Da Truth?

Carin over at Is This Blog On? has some absolutely spot-on advice for parents.

I'd only add that these words of wisdom also apply to CDs. All of my classical CDs are squirrelled away in my Fortress of Solitude. But I had a little 80's nostalgia set that I kept out in the open and used for work-out music. Among the albums were:

Speaking in Tongues - Talking Heads
Sports - Huey Lewis and the News
Big - Peter Gabriel
Greatest Hits - The Police
The Golden Age of Wireless - Thomas Dolby
Decade - Duran Duran
Murmer - R.E.M.

The emphasis here is on "were". What a fool I was. One after another, the Llama-ettes have got their sticky, gooey mits on these CDs and ruined them. All they're good for now is skeet shooting. (The CDs, I mean. Not the Llama-ettes, tempting though that thought is sometimes.)

Posted by Robert at 07:59 PM | Comments (1)

More Plum Blogging

As I noted the other day, Kathy the Cake Eater has been looking for suggestions about which P.G. Wodehouse book or books would be the best with which to take the plunge into the Master's world. I mentioned this to the Missus, who promptly asked me how much of Wodehouse's work I actually own. I confessed that I didn't know the answer except that I knew my library wasn't anywhere near complete.

This got me thinking: How many of Plum's books do I own and what percentage of his output have I read? Well, to turn these questions into a meme was, for me, the work of an instant. Below is a Wodehouse bibliography. I own the titles in bold (alas, almost all paperbacks) and have read all of them, most many times. Italicized titles are for books I've read but do not currently own. As always, I toss in gratuitous commentary when and where I feel like it.

1902 The Pothunters
1903 A Prefect's Uncle
1903 Tales Of St Austin's
1904 The Gold Bat
1904 Willam Tell Told Again
1905 The Head Of Kay's
1906 Love Among The Chickens
1907 The White Feather
1907 Not George Washington
1908 The Globe By The Way Book
1909 The Swoop! Or How Clarence Saved England
1909 Mike
1910 Psmith In The City
1910 A Gentleman Of Leisure (U.S. Title: The Intrusion of Jimmy)
1912 The Prince And Betty
1913 The Little Nugget - As I recall, I didn't enjoy this one particularly.
1914 The Man Upstairs And Other Stories
1915 Something Fresh (U.S. Title: Something New) - The first Blandings Castle story. Compared to the later ones, it's a bit clunky. But the Efficient Baxter is already well developed.
1915 Psmith Journalist
1917 Uneasy Money
1917 The Man With Two Left Feet
1918 Piccadilly Jim
1919 My Man Jeeves
1919 A Damsel In Distress
1920 The Coming Of Bill (U.S. Title: Their Mutual Child)
1921 Indescretions Of Archie
1921 Love Among The Chickens (UK 2nd Edition - complete rewrite)
1921 Jill The Reckless (US Title : The Little Warrior)
1922 The Clicking Of Cuthbert (US Title : Golf Without Tears)
1922 The Girl On The Boat (US Title : Three Men And A Maid)
1922 The Adventures Of Sally (US Title : Mostly Sally) - I actually found this book too wordy, which is very unusual for Plum.
1923 The Inimitable Jeeves
1923 Leave It To Psmith - Not only do you get Psmith himself, you also get a solid, mature Blandings Castle story as well.
1924 Ukridge (US Title : He Rather Enjoyed It) - I don't believe I've ever read more than a smattering of the Ukridge stories.
1924 Bill The Conqueror
1925 Carry On, Jeeves!
1925 Sam The Sudden (US Title : Sam In The Suburbs)
1926 The Heart Of A Goof (US Title : Divots) - By far the best of the golf stories, IMHO.
1927 The Small Bachelor
1927 Meet Mr. Mulliner
1928 Money For Nothing
1929 Mr. Mulliner Speaking
1929 Summer Lightning (US Title : Fish Preferred) - Probably my favorite Blandings Castle novel.
1930 Very Good, Jeeves - Good collection of short stories with which to get acquainted with Bertie and Jeeves.
1931 Big Money
1931 If I Were You
1932 Louder And Funnier
1932 Doctor Sally
1932 Hot Water - One of my all time favorites.
1933 Mulliner Nights
1933 The Great Sermon Handicap
1933 Heavy Weather - A follow up to Summer Lightning
1934 Thank You, Jeeves
1934 A Century Of Humour (Editor)
1934 Right Ho, Jeeves (US Title : Brinkley Manor) - Featuring Gussie Fink-Nottle's blottoed prize-giving at Market Snodsbury grammar school, one of the funniest scenes ever penned.
1935 Enter Psmith (From 1953 published as Mike And Psmith)
1935 Blandings Castle And Elsewhere (US Title : Blandings Castle)
1935 The Luck Of The Bodkins
1935 A Mulliner Omnibus
1936 Young Men In Spats
1936 Laughing Gas - I don't remember being impressed with this one, but honestly can't recall why.
1937 Lord Emsworth And Others (US Title : The Crime Wave At Blandings)
1938 Summer Moonshine
1938 The Code Of The Woosters - My absolute favorite Bertie & Jeeves novel.
1939 Week-End Wodehouse
1939 Uncle Fred In The Springtime
1940 Eggs, Beans And Crumpets
1940 Quick Service
1946 Money In The Bank - One of my favorites.
1947 Joy In The Morning - Some say this is the best of the Bertie & Jeeves novels.
1947 Full Moon
1948 Spring Fever
1948 Uncle Dynamite
1949 The Mating Season - Another Bertie & Jeeves novel. Some people don't like it that much, but I certainly enjoy it.
1950 Nothing Serious
1951 The Old Reliable
1952 Barmy In Wonderland (US Title : Angel Cake)
1952 Pigs Have Wings
1953 Mike At Wrykn (Chapters 1-29 Of Mike)
1953 Ring For Jeeves (US Title : The Return Of Jeeves) - This one produces violent reactions from some people. It's a kind of hybrid of a Bertie & Jeeves story with one of Wodehouse's standard third person romantic comedies. I personally have no problem with it, but I'm glad Plum only tried this formula once.
1953 Performing Flea (US Title : Author, Author!)
1954 The Week-End Book Of Humour
1954 Bring On The Girls
1954 Jeeves And The Feudal Spirit (US Title : Bertie Wooster Sees It Through)
1956 French Leave - Something of a disappointment.
1957 Something Fishy (US Title : The Butler Did It)
1957 Over Seventy (US Title : Amercia I Like You)
1958 Cocktail Time
1959 A Few Quick Ones
1960 Jeeves In The Offing (US Title : How Right You Are, Jeeves)
1961 Ice In The Bedroom
1962 Service With A Smile
1963 Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves
1964 Frozen Assets (US Title : Biffen's Millions)
1965 Galahad At Blandings (US Title : The Brinkmanship Of Galahad Threepwood)
1966 Plum Pie
1967 Company For Henry (US Title : The Purloined Paperweight) -The other day I mistakenly said I hadn't read this, but that was because I did not recognize the American title.
1968 A Carnival Of Modern Humour
1968 Do Butlers Burgle Banks? - I didn't particularly enjoy this.
1969 A Pelican At Blandings (US Title : No Nudes is Good Nudes)
1970 The Girl In Blue
1971 Much Obliged, Jeeves (US Title : Jeeves And The Tie that Binds)
1972 Pearls, Girls And Monty Bodkin (US Title : The Plot that Thickened)
1973 The Golf Omnibus
1973 Bachelors Anonymous
1974 The World Of Psmith - I assume this is just an omnibus. I believe I've read all of the Psmith materials.
1974 Aunts Aren't Gentlemen (US Title : The Catnappers) - Frankly, not worth it compared to the other Bertie & Jeeves stories.
1977 Sunset At Blandings - (Not Plum's title.) The text Wodehouse was working on when he died, this book is primarily interesting as a curiosity.

Well, there you have it. Looks like I've at least seen most of Plum's output. (This lists doesn't include a number of recent omnibus collections like Plum's Peaches and Wodehouse Is The Best Medicine, but I think it covers all of his original work.) If you've read one of the books I've missed, I'd love to get your thoughts on it.

Posted by Robert at 05:04 PM | Comments (5)

December 17, 2004

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division


The Dream -------- Reality

Recently, I received in the mail the spring catalogs from Wayside Gardens and Park's Seed. Now that we're just a few days away from the winter solstice, I feel I can legitimately sit down and start combing through them for ideas. My gardening friends out there will appreciate what fun this is.

I have two basic projects this year. First, I plan to add to my sunny perennial garden. (In that respect, I note that Wayside is offering a new double purple Echinacea that really looks rather vile. Some plants look well as doubles. Coneflowers are not among them.) To this end, I'm pretty much looking for specimen plants. Any suggestions for a good, hearty, drought-resistant flower suitable to Zone 6/Zone 7 would be appreciated.

Second, I've already laid out the boundaries for a shade bed I'm going to put in on the west side of the house. It's about twenty feet long or so and bookended by a couple of large trees. I plan to outline the back and sides with hostas, but am now thinking about some low, flowering plants to put in as well. Lily-of-the-Valley, probably, but I haven't thought much about what else I might include. If you have some favorites, I'd love to hear about them.

Posted by Robert at 03:04 PM | Comments (7)

Hello, Darkness? This is Candle.

In all of the heavy skirmishing that seems to have flared up this season over the place of religious expression in public fora, I was delighted again this morning on my ride in to see a guy I've taken to calling the Metro Missionary.

The Metro Missionary is a clean, neatly-dressed, middle-aged Korean man whom I've been seeing off and on for years on Dee Cee's Orange Line. He'll get on at a station (often Court House, although this morning it was Foggy Bottom), sing a hymn, bless everybody and wish them a good day, and then get off at the next station. I presume that he then goes on to other trains, and perhaps even other lines, working his way around the District. He never asks for money or for anything else and he never tries to make individual contact. Just a simple testament of faith through song and he's off.

As a matter of fact, the man has a rayther pleasant light baritone voice. He seems to specialize in 19th Century fare such as "Rock of Ages", but last week he gave us a very nice rendition of "O Little Town of Bethlehem". Today's was a melody I know very well, but I did not recognize the words.

You never know what kind of reaction the Metro Missionary is going to provoke. Most people politely ignore him. But sometimes it gets ugly. A couple years ago, some clown at the other end of the car started yelling at him that he had "no Constitutional right" to be singing hymns on Metro (thereby displaying not only beastly manners but also an appalling lack of understanding as to what the Establishment Clause actually says). This heckler eventually became so irate that he stormed down the car, grabbed the Missionary and threw him off the train as the doors opened, in the meantime shouting for the transit police to come and arrest him. But most of the time, as I say, people ignore these little recitals. A few will murmur "thank you" and smile, but that's about it.

Today was different, however. For whatever reason, the car was very receptive. When our Missionary finished up, he got the biggest ovation I've ever seen, coupled with many a "thank you" and "God bless" from the passengers.

I like to think that for all the trouble he goes to, this man actually succeeds in spreading a little love and light with his roving recitals. It's easy to dismiss him as an eccentric or even as a crackpot, but when you stop to think about it, his effort is really rather admirable in a way. I'd certainly never do anything like that. But I wish him nothing but the best in his own efforts.

Posted by Robert at 02:52 PM | Comments (5)

A Dark Day In History


On December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Wilbur and Orville Wright succeeded in launching and flying the first manned, powered, heavier-than-air aircraft, thereby starting the chain of events which led to a ubiquitous, unavoidable transportation system that literally knocks days off of my life every time I have to endure it.

On behalf of white-knuckle flyers everywhere, I say to the Wright Brothers: God damn you! God damn you!

Posted by Robert at 02:09 PM | Comments (2)

No Tannenbaum For You!

Brian over at Memento Moron brings to us the tale of Tree Nazis Sidney and Jennifer Stock:

Sidney and Jennifer Stock are atheists.

They asked the city council to remove the tree because it represents Christmas which is a Christian holiday.

Stock says city hall should "Act as a place where everybody feels welcome. It is impossible for everybody's religious belief to be displayed and non-religious belief to be displayed, so therefore, no religious beliefs be displayed."

Go on over to Brian's and read the whole article. Then zot over to today's piece by Mom's Favorite Columnist. Krauth raises what I think is a key point:

It is the more deracinated members of religious minorities, brought up largely ignorant of their own traditions, whose religious identity is so tenuous that they feel the need to be constantly on guard against displays of other religions -- and who think the solution to their predicament is to prevent the other guy from displaying his religion, rather than learning a bit about their own.

To insist that the overwhelming majority of this country stifle its religious impulses in public so that minorities can feel ``comfortable'' not only understandably enrages the majority, but commits two sins. The first is profound ungenerosity toward a majority of fellow citizens who have shown such generosity of spirit toward minority religions.

The second is the sin of incomprehension -- a failure to appreciate the uniqueness of the communal American religious experience. Unlike, for example, the famously tolerant Ottoman Empire or the generally tolerant Europe of today, America does not merely allow minority religions to exist at its sufferance. It celebrates and welcomes and honors them.

I see no reason why this insight would not apply to people like the Stocks who proclaim they don't believe in God at all.

Posted by Robert at 01:53 PM | Comments (5)


B-52's "Love Shack" burns down.

Nothing to say about it, really. Just couldn't let a horrible title like that go to waste.

Posted by Robert at 01:25 PM | Comments (2)

Orgling Update

Not to start this hare all over again, but we thought you might be interested in a description of real Llama breeding habits from a real-life Llama breeder who left it in commentary on a post the other day. It helps to imagine Jim Fowler reciting:

Actually, when I breed my llamas the female has her tail wrapped and is lying down flat on the ground and I help the male get situated in the right place, always sticking my hand in, down on my knees, looking to see if he's where he's supposed to be and keeping her tail out of the way. Most of them do it naturally anyway. It's called "Hand breeding" when you do it this way, making sure that if the female does get bred, you know exactly who the father is. I've only birthed two so far and I know I have two that are pregnant. If it wasn't so damn cold out, I'd go check the rest with the male because when the female does not want to be bred or is already pregnant, it's a messy fight. Males do it constantly to each other and they "play" and fight this way from the time they are born, bumping chests and all. I normally go in and break it up if it gets a wee bit too violent. It's also how they figure dominence among themselves. Females also challenge one another but not like the males do - they can be tough AND it's the only time they spit, unlike what most people think. They do a lot more than orgle when they breed; it's like they are having a heart attack. Actually, the orgle is a sound, along with the front leg caressing motion that is supposed to make the female release an egg because they don't have "heat" times like other animals do - the sound and the caressing needs to be done in order for her to release an egg, so that's why you do this again 3 days later. AND your herdshire will do this to just about anything, including a baby which is why you have to keep him separate. Breeding actually seems painful and extremely stressful for the male so it's important he's watched and taken care of afterwards.

(Voice of Marlin Perkins: I'll stand downstream while Jim hand-breeds the llamas. The sound of orgling ensures that he'll succeed.)

By the way, a clarifying note for Cindy and anyone else who may still be puzzled. When we first decided on the name "Llama Butchers" we were going for a certain ambiguity. Did we slaughter these helpless herbivores? Or were we woolly denizens of the Andes who had decided to take matters into our own hooves? Well, as things have progressed, we're pretty much entirely in the latter way of thinking now. Note our logo and our motto ("Meaty, Woolly, Snippy"), after all. Also, people generally refer to us as the Llamas. So be it. And not to worry, Cindy, we're the ones wielding the axes.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

UPDATE: Llama marital aid a leetle too much for you? Try toad sexing!

Posted by Robert at 11:30 AM | Comments (6)

A New-To-Me Blog And Thoughts On World War IV

Jonathan V. Last, film critic for the Weekly Standard (where, I'm sad to say, he gives the thumbs up to the extended abomination DVD edition of Return of the King today), has his very own blog Galley Slaves. Go check it out. Among other things, Jonathan is watching the ongoing Mickey Kaus/ Axis Sully slap-party over how the Donks should deal with the issue of Islamofacism.

With respect to Kaus's resistance to even recognizing a clash of civilizations between the West and Islamic Radicalism, Last has this to say:

What has Kaus's flackseed-oil-enhanced superbrain missed? Umm, September 11? In case he missed it, a not-insignificant-portion of one civilization has already declared war on Western civilization in general, and the progressive end of liberalism in particular. In many ways, Bush is fighting a war in defense of Big-D Democratic values.

This resonates with me because of a discussion I had recently with some people from Church. Several of the folks I was talking to are left wingers of varying degree. The topic of the discussion came around to agape, the notion of selfless love for others with no thought of any personal gain in return. One of the questions that came up was how one goes about practicing agape even with one's enemies, as directed by the New Testament. I brought up the Radical Islamists and asked in what ways we could love people who we know to be hell-bent on killing us.

The discussion that followed positively gob-smacked me, because it quickly turned into an exercise in self-flagellation. I think people understood the point that the Islamofacists hate us for who and what we are, but the knee-jerk reaction here was that if this was the case, then something must be wrong with us, that it is somehow all our fault and that the focus of our energies should be on figuring out what this flaw is and fixing it. The notion that the Islamofacists might be, y'know, wrong, that their radicalism might be the crazed product of a reactionary medievalism that is, y'know, bad, seemed to completely fail to register.

Ironically, Last is correct that it is exactly people like this, progressive liberals, who are at the top of the Islamofacists' hit list. Not to recognize this threat is bad enough. To somehow think that the threat is deserved is downright appalling, not only because it reveals a level of self-loathing that amounts to near psychosis, but also because it hampers the West's ability to defend itself through distraction, confusion and enervation.

It strikes me that it is perfectly feasible for the Democratic Party to adopt and vigorously pursue a foreign policy, harking back to its Glory Days during World War II and the pre-Vietnam Cold War, that preserves and compliments its commitment to progressive values. It also strikes me that the Donks need to do this, not just for their own sake, but for the rest of us as well.

UPDATE: The superb Victor David Hanson has some thoughts on what the Donks need to do to regain their moral seriousness.

Posted by Robert at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)

Giving a whole new meaning to "lip-synching"

I think I can speak for the entire devastated nation when I say THIS is a, like, tragic bummer.

Posted by Steve at 09:26 AM | Comments (3)

December 16, 2004

Another sign of the Apocaly-Fizzizzle

This is just.......creepy.

Yips! to Lawren.

Posted by Robert at 05:56 PM | Comments (4)

Snowflakes In D.C.? Time to Panic!

Just in time for winter. Keep your fingers crossed:

... Potential winter weather late this weekend...

Cold air moving into the region late Friday will set the stage for
the possibility of some winter weather Sunday and Monday. A low
pressure area moving down from the Great Lakes combined with low
pressure developing off the Atlantic coast will likely bring enough
moisture for snow at some point between Sunday morning and Monday

At this point it is to early for specific details on exact timing or
amounts. This is only a statement to alert you to the possibility of
snow late this weekend. Stay tuned for updates on Friday and through
the weekend.

Despite the fact that it's got to be cold as hell outside, I'm still driving around with the back window off my jeep. I guess it's about time to zip it back on for the season.

Posted by Robert at 04:47 PM | Comments (2)

Plum Posting

Attention all Wodehouse fans! Kathy the Cake Eater is getting ready for her first dip into the Master's world and is looking for suggestions.

She asked specifically about whether to start with Bertie & Jeeves or Blandings. I suggested the B&J short story collection "Very Good, Jeeves" and Leave It To Psmith as good points to entre into either cycle. But I also recommended a selection of non-B&J/Blandings items including:

The Mulliner stories
"The Heart of a Goof" - hysterically funny golf stories
Money In The Bank
Hot Water
Uneasy Money

I'm sure you've got your favorites as well. Go tell Kathy. Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 03:17 PM | Comments (4)

Ach! No!

Office party this afternoon. We hates office partiesesssss.

UPDATE: Urgh. Worst holiday punch I've ever tasted. Vodka, grenadine, whiskey and various fruit juices including, I think, Hi-C. Half a glass and I've got an eye-crossing headache.

Fortunately, I'm working against a deadline on a complaint, so I had the perfect excuse to hit the silk early.

Posted by Robert at 02:43 PM | Comments (2)

A Christmas Thursday Three

(Because I happened to be thinking about these things anyway...)

1. The ol’ Tannenbaum--fake or real? When does it go up? And when does it come down?

Real. Always real. Ours went up last Sunday (about par for the course) and will probably stay up until the end of Epiphany. The lower slopes are covered with various paper and other non-breakable doo-dads created by the children, while the more northerly regions are reserved for the ornaments we actually wish to preserve for next year.

This year, we decided to add an extra dose of lights (small and white, thank you). Only we bought the kind that randomly twinkle without realizing there was no way to make them stop. After a couple days, the Missus decided she couldn't stand it any more, ripped out the offending strands, and replaced them with non-twinkly lights. I must say, the tree looks ab-fab this year.

2. Shopping--fake or real? Oh, wait, that’s the last question. Here we are--do you wait until the last minute or plan ahead? Do you give gift cards?

I am quite comfortable surrendering all shopping authority to my wife (like I have any say in the matter). She typicall plans ahead and does last minute shopping. Such is the nature of the beast (the season, I mean, not the Missus). Gift cards are generally reserved for recipients such as office secretaries and the like, not family and friends. And yes, sometimes we regift. (Don't tell anyone.)

Actually, this year we are giving each other a wunnerful mutual present, namely a new set of French doors for our dining room. Our house is a thirty year old brick colonial. It is generally well built, but it was originally tricked out with Builder's Bargain Basement fixtures. The same owners lived in the place until we bought it four years ago and did virtually nothing by way of home improvement. So since moving in, we've steadily worked our way along, finishing the basement, installing bookshelves in the library, walling up the wetbar. Not only are we replacing the current doors to the dining room with some nice glass-paned ones, we're also moving the entrance over about three feet so that it is centered directly on the dining room wall.

We love doing this sort of thing. And I am truly grateful that this is something we can both appreciate and enjoy. (Although ask me again how I feel about it this weekend when I have to do all the touch-up spackling and painting.)

3. And finally, where do you carry out your celebrating, of whatever sort it might be? At your house, at a relative’s house in the area, or out of town?

Since we've had kids, Christmas generally gets celebrated at our house. (In fact, I can't think of an exception, off hand.) There is an insanely complicated formula for visits by parents, in-laws and other relatives from out of town that takes into consideration visits for Thanksgiving and the raft of Llama-ette birthdays that occur in the first three months of the year, in addition to keeping a running score as to who went where the preceding year. The result is that there is no set schedule. This year, my in-laws came for Thanksgiving, so won't do a repeat for Christmas. On the other hand, my parents will show up a couple days after Christmas. Next year will, I am sure, be a different ballgame.

Yips! to Jordana.

Posted by Robert at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

What the....?

Maybe it's just me, but wasn't Saturnalia a religious festival too?

You know what would really make me laugh? Some chuckleheads demanding to set up on a public property a statue of Mithra cutting off the balls of a bull while dancing nekkid around a tree in the snow on the 25th.

Posted by Steve at 12:29 PM | Comments (2)

I'd like to see Joe Buck Interview this Leon


Posted by Steve at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

The Annika Interview

"Chicks dig tanks."

What more do you need as a teaser than that?

(And yes, Tank is one of the truly greatest bad movies of all time."

Posted by Steve at 12:23 PM | Comments (2)


There's something sad and weird about this.

I blame Mike Dukakis!

Posted by Steve at 12:20 PM | Comments (1)


A whole slew of guest bloggers over at Rae's place---did she go away for the holidays and forget to lock the front door or something? Sheesh.

SPECIAL BONUS LUNCH LINKY: Ted has comings and goings over at Rocket Jones.

Posted by Steve at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

King's county democrats find new hidden source of ballots

Cats and dogs, living together in Washington state....

Posted by Steve at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

Incorrect dichotomy

The correct answer is of course Electro-woman.

And no, Rob, I don't want to hear any guff from you about "Dyna-Girl" either. We all know Electro-woman was the amperage and voltage of that show!

Posted by Steve at 12:13 PM | Comments (1)

Me? Personally, I'm a third amendment absolutist

The Commissar comes out against the death penalty.

Actually, believe it or not, I agree with his arguments on this. In theory, no problems. In practice (as practiced in Amerika), big problems. And no, the answer is not curtailing appeals and letting the jury flick the switch the day after the trial. There are just too many ways the whole thing can go wrong to rationalize (to me at least) the process as now in existence.

My real hobby horse, however, as well as my professional dream, is to set up the Third Amendment Foundation, which would house an Institute of the Third Amendment which would be a home to scholars from around the world. People fetishize the First Amendment, lionize the Second, take the Fifth, slip through on the fourth, question the sanity of the Ninth, ignore the Tenth when inconvenient, and generally lump six, seven, and eight together. But the Third? Always getting the shaft.

Nit eeenymore.

Posted by Steve at 12:06 PM | Comments (2)

We knew him way back when....

Reverend Pixy, the benevolent poo-bah of the moo knew mu shu domain of domination, the emperor of the empire of irony, explains all today----who exactly IS Pixy Misa?

I'm enjoying Pixy's rise to the toppermost of the TLLB for two big reasons:

1. it's great when nice things happen to good folks;

B. we can say "yeah, we new him back when he had that little Socrates icon thingee";

and, most importantly,

III. it's chafing the cheeks of INDC Bill that someone is above him in the TLLB. I mean, it's bugging the hell out of him: what else could explain his sudden uncharacteristic attacks on moo knew bloggers?

Okay, that's three, but you get my point.

Speaking of which, just in time for the holidays, we'll have up by tomorrow at the LLama store our official "INDC Journal Holiday-Themed Ass-less Chaps"---by the complete set in red & green naugahyde, as well as the festive Kwanza ones with the merry yellow, red, green, and black kente design, festooned with the INDC Journal stitched "EVERLAST" style right across the front. Bill's old pal Marion Barry has already ordered a dozen for the whole posse.

After all, nothing quite says "ho ho ho!" for the holiday party if you are working, umm, IN DC, for a well known interest group than showing up in holiday-themed ass-less chaps.

UPDATE: Well, now THAT explains everything!

Posted by Steve at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Stick A Fork In It, Chester. It's Done.

James Joyner brings news of Major League Baseball's reaction to the Dee Cee Council decision this week to alter the deal to bring the Expos to town by inserting a new demand that private funding cover half the cost of the proposed team statium.

In short, MLB's response is: Go piss up a rope.

Is anybody the least bit surprised by this?

Posted by Robert at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)


Today is the anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, born in 1770 in Bonn, Germany.

Beethoven is inarguably one of the giants of Western music and much of his work is indispensable to me. But beyond that, I frankly can't drum up the same level of enthusiasm for him that I can for, say, Bach, Mozart, Haydn or Brahms.

I think the cause for my reservation lies in the period. Beethoven came to the fore in the midst of the Romantic revolution, the period in Western art where raw emotion began to gain prominence relative to form and bold, dramatic gesture began to usurp intellectual nuance. Concurrently, the traditional notion of the artist as an "artisan," a craftsman whose skill happened to lie in music, wordsmithing, painting or the like, was replaced with the new notion of the "Artiste," the artist as hero (or, to put it in Shelley's words, "unacknowledged legislator of the world"). Both of these changes shifted the focus away from the actual work of art and more towards the act of creating it. Needless to say, this had the worst possible effect on some notable egos of the period.

I don't say that Beethoven was particularly flagrant in this regard (although he was supposed to have been something of a sh*t to those around him). But there is an element of what one might call proprietary emotional self-consciousness in his work that has always grated on me slightly. (My father often says that this is because I and people like me feel threatened by such displays of raw emotion. In fact, this isn't the case at all. Brahms is every bit as emotional as Beethoven, but whether because of his personality or because the Romantic movement had, by then, become thoroughly established, Brahms' music does not seem to carry the same chip on its shoulder as does Beethoven's.)

For all that, I still love much of the man's music. I frequently play the Opus 2 piano sonatas (early works dedicated to Haydn), and occassionally some of the later works, including the Pathetique (with much histrionic eye-rolling), the Moonlight (the 1st movement is a bunch of maudlin crap - the 2nd and particularly the 3rd movement are far better) and a later work known as the Tempest. (UPDATE: Oh, and the Bagatelles. How can I forget those? Perfect little pieces when you're waiting for the babysitter to show up.) I have also messed about with his piano concerti, although, frankly, I far prefer Mozart's. Among the symphonies, I've always felt the 5th deserved every bit of the accolades it's received, even if it has sunk under its warhorse status. My favorites, however, are probably the 7th and 8th. I also enjoy the first several movements of the 9th, particularly the molto vivace 2nd, but think the Chorale is vastly overrated.

So while I feel no inclination to lay a wreath at the foot of Beethoven's tomb, I am perfectly willing to hoist a drink in the Old Boy's name. Happy Birthday!

Posted by Robert at 09:39 AM | Comments (7)

A La Recherche Watch

The Colossus unearths a fondly-remembered artifact of the Glorious 80's.

Posted by Robert at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

He Tasks Me. He Tasks Me.


10. Plenty of photos of each one snogging Ann Marie Cox, but never at the same time.

9. Both bloggers achieved meteoric fame by screwing Establishment Insiders.

8. "INDC Journal" is an anagram for "I run cold, Jan." "Washingtonienne" is an anagram for "A sweet inning, Hon." (Not really that similar, but still pretty amusing.)

7. Bill's offer to pay Rathergate typeface expert with "ass or grass".

6. Significant lack of Jane Austen posts at either site.

5. Insert your own Beltway Pork joke here.

4. "Ardolino" is Italian for "back door". "Cutler" is Old English for "snippy bitch".

3. Need to incorporate reference to Nation's Capital in weblog names symptomatic of underlying sexual insecurity. (No. 3 is brought to you by the American Society of Freudian Psychiatrists.)

2. INDC Journal: Exposes on moonbat activity. Washingtonienne: Essays on exposed moon activity.

1. The "Google Me" tattoo. 'Nuff said.

Posted by Robert at 08:31 AM | Comments (5)

December 15, 2004

Okay, Okaaaay!

Mirthful Sadie says we've got to do it. So here goes:

Three names you go by:
The Roberator
Slick (True - given to me by some drunk gorilla who swerved to elbow me in the shoulder near Metro Center the other evening)

Three screennames you have:
Robert the LB
Glenn Reynolds (Really! It's true!)

Three things you like about yourself:
I've got that drooling under control now.
My ability to communicate with chipmunks.
I'm not just fresh, I'm Downy Fresh.

Three things you hate/dislike about yourself:
That I'll never break the 3 minute mile.
Left Brain/Right Brain disagreements frequently end in bloody nose.
Super power? Refridgerator reorganization.

Three parts of your heritage:
More Scotch
Can I get a couple more ice cubes?

Three things that scare you:
Count Floyd
Mutant Flying Piranhas

Three of your everyday essentials:
More, please

Three things you are wearing right now:
Spider-Man undies.
A pirate eye-patch
"Chaz for Men"

Three of your favorite bands/artists (at the moment):
Snoop Dogg (I was wrong! He's a genius! How could I have been so blind?)
That dorky Asian guy on that TV talent show thing. Whatever happened to him?
LONE SERIOUS ANSWER: Helen Forrest with Benny Goodman

Three of your favorite songs at present:
Suds In The Bucket - Sarah Evans
Corn Silk - (See above)
The Great Big Book of Everything - Stanley and Friends

Three new things you want to try in the next 12 months:
Sleep would be nice.
[This entry deleted by order of the Ministry for Not Getting In Dutch With The Wife]
Actually being funny.

Three things you want in a relationship (love is a given):
Complete absolution from all responsibility involving the kitty litter.
Less talk, more rock.
Just once to be met at the door with a pipe, a martini and a pair of slippers.

Two truths and a lie:
One is the loneliest number.
The mass of yoghurt actually increases once it leaves the container and gets on the child's face.
I'm not really wearing Spider-Man underwear.

Three physical things about the opposite sex (or same) that appeal to you:
Aw hell, it's easiest just to say "all of the above".

Three things you just can't do:
Find Waldo.
Fathom Paris Hilton.

Three of your favorite hobbies:
Beating the children.
Counting Liz Taylor marriages.
Matchstick recreation of downtown Newark.

Three things you want to do really badly right now:
Land this post well enough that I can walk away from it.

Three careers you're considering:
Attorney. (Wha-? I'm one already? D'oh!)
Arbiter Elegantarium in the manner of, say, Dick Cavett or George Plimpton.
Cabin Boy.

Three places you want to go on vacation:

Three kids names:
"Whoever You Are" - (Actually used)
LaShanTra (our youngest)

Three things you want to do before you die:
Win the Irish Sweepstakes
Succeed to the Throne of England
Find and destroy the evil One Ring.

Posted by Robert at 06:18 PM | Comments (6)

Herky Jerk

Despite the fact that I'm personally terrified of flying, I've always had an interest in it. So I thought this was really cool - the October 1963 landing and take off of a C-130 Hercules from the deck of the U.S.S. Forrestal.

There are two words for what Navy Lt. James Flatley and his crew did: In. Sane.

But it's awful cool, too.

Go read the article. Then have a look at the videos at the bottom of the page.

Yips! to Joatmoaf at I Love Jet Noise.

Speaking of aircraft cheesecake, I read over the weekend that the National Air & Space Museum has a new Imax movie playing out at their Dulles annex entitled Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag, which is supposed to be guaranteed to make you lose your lunch. Sounds like fun.

Posted by Robert at 05:17 PM | Comments (1)


"I'm gonna beat the crap out of your vast right wing punk ass!"

Talking of Holiday Creep this morning, I reckoned Halloween was long past. But the divine Peggy Noonan has written a piece about HRH HRC that scares the beejesus out of me!

Posted by Robert at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

Make the Voices Stop, Dave!

Kathy the Cake Eater, operating out of her new Moo-Knew digs, posts on the interesting phenomenon of hearing a given person's voice in her head while reading that person's writing.

Bill Kristol is the latest pundit/politico to start whispering in Kathy's ear, but she mentions some others - Kissenger, Thatcher, Bill Buckley. I haven't started channelling Kristol (although I will now, of course) but I get the others. And I'll add a couple more: George Will, Churchill and Peggy Noonan.

How about you?

Posted by Robert at 02:04 PM | Comments (3)

More Sci-Fi Babes

John L's got the latest Sci-Fi Babe Poll up over at TexasBestGrok. This week, it's the lovely ladies of Babylon 5. I've never seen this show myself, but I gather that it has a very loyal fan core. Going on pure, shallow cheesecake, I think I'd have to side with Captain Lochley on this one.

While you're over there, be sure to check out the Gallery of Sci-Fi Babe Winners. I wasn't around last week, so didn't get a chance to weigh in on the epic matchup between Joan Collins and Teri Garr for the title of Queen of Star Trek Earth's Past. Too bad, as it was a very close contest. I fell in love with Teri Garr when I first saw Young Frankenstein and it was always a high point when she came on Letterman's show (particularly that time when he got her to take a shower in his office), but I think I would have gone with Collins in this one. Ah, well.

Posted by Robert at 01:40 PM | Comments (5)

Another Reason To Avoid The Land Of The Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys

France Inaugurates World's Highest Bridge. Go over to the article and have a look at this opus. Be sure to enlarge the photo to get the full terror-inducing effect.

According to the article, the damn thing is nearly a mile and a half long, has pillars up to 1,125 feet high, and puts a roadway at 885 feet above the Tarn River Valley. But this is the worst part: [I]t is longer than the Champs Elysees and slightly curved to afford drivers a dramatic view of the surrounding countryside and the ancient town of Millau with its medieval bell tower.

Jesus. Mary. Joseph. So when you get on the thing, you can't see the other end. Instead, it appears as if you are going to hurtle off the edge and into oblivion. "Dramatic" view, my fanny. The mot juste here is "cardiac arrest-inducing."

I have a bad enough time with the Delaware Memorial Bridge on I-95. When we go to Long Island, I refuse to take the Verrazano Narrows, but go up and around via the George Washington and the Throg's Neck. Ain't. No. Way. I'd EVER cross this thing.

Sweaty-palmed Yips! to Ann Althouse, who seems to view this behemoth as some kind of achievement.

UPDATE: Kevin at Wizbang has a post up in which he says the other thing that occured to me on looking at this thing.

Posted by Robert at 01:24 PM | Comments (4)

This Is Useless

Looking for something on which to squander your precious lunch hour? Try the Virtual Model Generator.

I've captured my own virtual persona (we'll call him "Bob") below the fold. Ya think I've got a shot with Lara Croft?

Yips! to Ace.


Posted by Robert at 12:44 PM | Comments (1)

Battle of Nashville


(Okay, this entry is in part because I've always liked this painting and this is a good excuse to post it.)

Today is the 140th Anniversary of the Battle of Nashville, which pitted Union General George Thomas against Confederate General John Bell Hood. Hood's objective in invading Tennessee had been to force Sherman out of Georgia to chase him.

Thomas, whose command was in front of Hood, fought a delaying action, inflicting severe losses on Hood at the Battle of Franklin, but continuing to fall back to his defenses at Nashville. Once there, he built up his lines, but also allowed Hood to get into position. This provoked a series of stinging telegrams from Ulysses S. Grant, who believed that Thomas had a golden opportunity to crush Hood's army once and for all and was wasting time dithering around in Nashville. In fact, shortly before the battle, Grant sent a replacement to relieve Thomas if Thomas hadn't got off his duff by the time the replacement arrived.

In the end, the Union won the two day battle, but allowed Hood to get away with what was left of the Army of Tennessee. Hood resigned soon after, but the Army, what was left of it, continued to soldier on, shadowing Sherman's march through Georgia and North Carolina and eventually fighting the Battle of Bentonville before finally surrendering to Sherman in April, 1865.

UPDATE: Jordana at Curmudgeonry, who lives right near the Nashville Battle Monument, mentions taking her kids around to view the sites today. This reminds me of a standing threat at the Butcher's House. I grew up in San Antonio. Once you'd seen the Alamo, unless you were interested in Spanish Mission architecture you'd pretty much shot your bolt in terms of historical sites. Here in Northern Virginia, we are literally within a hundred miles of the sites of dozens of major battles and other historical events in U.S. history. I can't wait to start draggind the Llama-ettes around to see all of them. Damn Disney! Damn Sesame Street Live! You girls are charging up Cemetary Ridge whether you like it or not!

Heh, indeed.

Posted by Robert at 11:30 AM | Comments (6)

Well So Much For That

James Joyner has a round-up post on the Dee Cee Council decision yesterday to adopt a proposal by Council Chairman Linda Cropp that will effectively kill the deal to bring Major League Baseball to the Beltway.

The long and the short of the altered deal is that the team stadium, to be built on the banks of the Anacostia River, now has to find 50% of its funding from private sources. Under the previous deal, the District had assured MLB that it would pick up the tab. Aside from what MLB will say to this change, it seems unlikely that such private funding could be raised, particularly by the June deadline imposed by the Council.


I confess I have not followed the ins and outs of all of this very carefully. But I always thought that construction of the stadium at the proposed location would pay handsome dividends to the District by injecting some economic activity into an area that needs something, anything, to snap it out of its funk. Apparently, Ms. Cropp (and some other Council members, including soon-to-be-sworn-in Marion Barry) are unwilling to lay out the necessary seed money. This strikes me as short-sighted.

Posted by Robert at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

I Think I Liked My Pimp Name Better

My Secret Christmas Name? No secret any more. It's

Giggley Brandy butter-Cheeks

I feel like a character out of Elves Behind Bars. Think you can do better? Give it a try.

Yips! to the Impenetrable One.

Posted by Robert at 09:23 AM | Comments (4)

Gratuitous Gluttony Posting

Let us now praise famous fruits and nuts, specifically, the pistachio.

Oooh, they're guuud. I don't have a particularly addictive personality, but from time to time I do tend to binge on things that I enjoy. To me, there is no such thing as "too many pistachios," so when the Missus brings home a bag of them I tend to cut up rough.

Not only are pistachios delicious, there is something very pleasant in the act of eating them. I like to fill a bowl and dig in, returning the empty shells to the same bowl. After a while, the uneaten nuts start to get buried under the empties and require some digging. As this process goes on, it takes more and more effort to find the next uneaten nut. But there's always a next nut, somewhere, no matter how long I go raking through the bowl. As they become more sparse and more effort is required to find them, the discovery of each additional nut becomes more and more pleasurable. Call me a loony, but it's true. (As a matter of fact, although I don't pretend to know much about the "dismal science," I believe this is a pretty good model of the theory of marginal value.)

Alas, I am now suffering the after-effects of a pistachio rampage. My tummy still feels full above the Plimsoll mark. My fingernail is cut to the quick from prying open shells. But mayun is it worth it.

Posted by Robert at 09:11 AM | Comments (3)

Holiday Creep

Loyal readers will know that I've ranted a great deal in the past about the gradual creep forward of the Christmas season. As I see it, Thanksgiving already has been swamped and Halloween is being threatened.

Well apparently, what goes around, comes around. We got a Christmas card yesterday featuring a family photograph taken at a Halloween party. The family are all decked out in costumes. The background is all oranges and blacks and hay and whatnot, capped by a banner overhead that says "Happy Halloween!" And the whole ensemble is smacked down on a bright red card with holly leaves and some kind of seasonal caption.

This is the strangest Christmas card I've ever seen, like something out of Charles Addams. What would these people send if we exchanged gifts? Spiders?

Posted by Robert at 08:32 AM | Comments (1)

December 14, 2004

More Bach Blogging

I throw this out, well, because this is my blog and I feel like it.

If you like Bach and you'd like to try something slightly off the beaten path, may I recommend his Trio Sonata in C, BWV 1037? I'm listening to the gigue at the moment - it's one of the more "toe-tapping" pieces by old J.S. that I know of and it never ceases to pick me up when I listen to it. I've got a great recording on a mixed Bach/Vivaldi Hyperion disk featuring Jaap Schroder, Stanley Ritchie, Myron Lutzke and Albert Fuller.

I'm still on my Bach kick at home on the piano, the Muses not yet having abandonded me. At the moment, I'm playing around with the Goldberg Variations and, much to my encouragement, actually getting requests to play some of them from the Llama-ettes.

I can only sight-read a handful of the variations comfortably (I don't say accurately - that would be something else entirely), but it is enough for my enjoyment. These include:

The Aria
Variation No. 1 (one of my favorites)
Variation No. 4
Variation No. 7 - al Tempo di Giga
Variation No. 9 - Canone al Terza
Variation No. 10 - Fughetta
Variation No. 16 - Ouverture (and then only when I'm sufficiently buzzed to bluff my way through all the hemi-demi-semi-quaver stuff in the opening section)
Variation No. 18 - Canone alla Sesta (one of my very favorites)
Variation No. 19
Variation No. 30 - Quodlibet

You can browse the full set in midi files here.

Cul-chah, man. Cul-chah.

Posted by Robert at 04:54 PM | Comments (4)

More Excellent Holiday Decorating Suggestions

Stephen of Stephenesque has got an idea for your Dickensian Village and trust me - it's a Pip! (Oh, I slay me sometimes.)

Where do I go to purchase the soundtrack "Spinsters Roasting At An Open Fire"?

Heh, indeed.

Posted by Robert at 04:01 PM | Comments (1)

Where Angels Fear To Tread

Hmmmm. I was all enthusiastic the other day about the prospect of getting Verizon's DSL service at home, now that they're laying the cable for it in my neighborhood.

But my real-life pal Marjorie the Unclimber is already well on her way down that path and is, um, not enjoying it. Not one bit.

Now because of the fact that Verizon's workmen went around my garden instead of throught it, I'd gladly buy a dead crab from these folks at the moment if they wanted me to. Marjorie's forehead bashing probably won't dissuade me from charging forward, but I think I'd better start pricing crash helmets.

Posted by Robert at 03:34 PM | Comments (3)

Obligatory Holiday Viewing Time-Saver

Here to make your Holiday Cheer a leetle more efficient is It's A Wonderful Life condensed to 30 seconds. Oh, and it's redone by bunnies. (Be sure to click on the rabbit silhouettes for extra bonus footage.)

Yips! to the Pious Agnostic.

Posted by Robert at 03:14 PM | Comments (2)

Change Is Bad, M'Kay? - Movie Version

In a fit of holiday enthusiasm, the Butcher's Wife came home the other day with the DVD box set of the first three Star Wars movies. I watched Episodes IV and VI over the weekend. This was the first time I've seen the updated bastardized version of Episode VI. All I can say is that it makes a pretty lame movie worse.

But I got thinking about Episode IV, which is still my favorite of the lot. For all the screwing around that Lucas has done with it, why didn't he fix the things that really needed to be fixed? To wit:

- When the Tuscan Raiders jump on to those giant Big Horn Elephant things, there is a jarring cut in both the film and the soundtrack right when the second Raider climbs aboard.

- When Vader is chiding Tarkin about Leia's refusal to betray the location of the Rebel base, it is only after James Earl Jones finishes speaking the line that Vader's hand comes up to emphasize his words.

- The countdown readout for the Death Star's approach to the Yavin moon is still all screwed up.

I'm sure all y'all have your favorite glitches as well. It strikes me that if Lucas is going to muck around with the thing, this is the sort of stuff he should be cleaning up, not adding gratuitous Jurassic Park rejects and making Gredo shoot first.

Priorities, man! Priorities!

Posted by Robert at 01:54 PM | Comments (4)

Andrew McCarthy and Judd Nelson, call your agents!

Posted by Steve at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

For some reason, this didn't surprise me all that much

Posted by Steve at 01:44 PM | Comments (1)

May I Have The Envelope, Please? No, No, the Other Envelope

Okay, so we only came fourth in the 2004 Weblog Awards category for Best Culture Blog. That's still pretty gratifying in an absurd way. And, of course, we're not at all bitter about not winning. (However, a friendly note to the three winners in our category - watch yourselves. Accidents do happen.)

Meanwhile, we are posivitely tickled pink to see we scored not one but two trophies in Lynn S.'s First Annual Me Too Weblog Awards. Thankee kindly, Lynn!

Also, if you haven't yet had your fill, Don has up his Mixolydian Web Log Award winners as well. We didn't make the cut there, largely, I suspect, because Don is still picking his jaw up off the floor over the fact that we made a culture blog finalist list and Terry Teachout did not. (For what it's worth, I heartily agree with this sentiment.)

All fooling aside, you really should go check out both Lynn and Don if you don't already. And go check out their recommendations. I read most of these myself "regleerly" as my six year old would say, and warmly endorse many of their picks.

Posted by Robert at 01:32 PM | Comments (1)

Gratuitous Domestic Holiday Posting

(Yes, I'm writing about this stuff, but that's because this is what's happening in my life these days.)

Sunday afternoon was our Church's Christmas Pageant. As I mentioned some time a while back, all three Llama-ettes were participants this year. The eldest was a shepherd (it's too bad there were no centurions at the Nativity, as this role would have suited her better), the middle one an angel (quite true to type) and the youngest a lion (also quite true to type). (Bonus Llama Picture Posting: Go here to see my Church's homepage. The photos cycle in and out. You'll eventually see a picture of a little girl and a dark-haired woman. That's the youngest Llama-ette and the Butcher's Wife.)

For years I've been trying to get our Rector to confess that this is one of the hardest services of the year for him, what with a large mob of young kids having to be herded in and placed about the alter all at the same time a play of sorts is being staged. But as I watched, it occured to me that I have been somewhat mistaken. In fact, all the Rev. Ed has to do is sit there looking interested - it's the Youth Education staff and parents that have to do the grunt work. I myself got tagged to usher the service. In fact, we had way too many ushers, so I didn't have that much to do. But since working the pagent takes me out of the rotation for the Christmas Eve services, which are invariably zoo-like, I'm not complaining in the least.

Anyhoo, the pageant went pretty much like every other kiddy pageant I've ever seen. My oldest walked in sporting a painted-on beard which looked perfectly foul and, for some reason, reminded me of Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria. My four year old was beaming like a lighthouse, as is her wont. She has fairly pale blue eyes, but you'd never know it, as when she gets excited her pupils dilate something fierce. The big black marbles were in full force and effect here. The two year old was one of the last to go up, flanked by an ass and an ox (the ass bore a suspicious resemblance to Eeyore and the ox to Elsie, but let it go). Since she was one of the last of the procession, she took a spot on the alter steps on the outskirts of the maelstrom.

As the pageant wound its lazy course, the two older girls sang enthusiastically and generally enjoyed themselves. However, I could see that the youngest was running out of steam. She laid her arms on the step above her, put her head down and started to doze. Because the floor is wooden and she was wearing a fur suit, her head and arms slowly started sliding farther and farther along the stair. Spotting this and knowing exactly what was about to happen, I quietly started to swoop up the aisle from my ushering post in the back. I was about two thirds of the way up when her arms finally slipped off the stair and her head came down with an audible thunk. This woke her up and she spent several seconds blinking and looking about her like a disoriented owl. Before she could make up her mind whether she was upset or not, I grabbed her and removed her to the rear. Fortunately, my quick response headed off any outbursts, and we spent the rest of the service pom-pomming along with the music in between trips to the water fountain.

After the pageant, there was a reception thingy in the hall downstairs, at which Santa made an appearance. All of the gels managed to get candy canes from him this year, no mean trick what with the scrum that usually forms around him. On the way home, the two older girls peppered me with questions about Santa's operations:

"How can Santa get around the world from the North Pole so fast?"


"If he's so big, how can he get down those little chimneys?"


"How can his reindeer fly?"


At this point, my six year old said, "So your answer to everything is 'magic," isn't it?"

I replied, "Yup, pretty much."

That held her for a while as she thought it through. I'm happy to say that she's not yet at the point where she actually disbelieves me. Hopefully, things will stay that way for a few more years.

Posted by Robert at 11:39 AM | Comments (3)

Change is Bad, M'Kay?

Sunday afternoon we put up the Christmas tree. When I brought it into the living room, I asked my six year old whether it should go in the left-hand corner or the right-hand corner. "The left, Daddy!" she replied, "It always goes in the left!"

That's my girl!

Posted by Robert at 10:11 AM | Comments (4)

Yes, I'm Here (sort of)

Light posting today - I'm still rather worn out from last week and a full-tilt weekend of domestic activity and am not feeling particularly witty. (None of your "So new?" smart remarks, please.)

Of course, we're not going to let this whole scandal thing go without some kind of retaliaion. For the moment, I will simply say that I admit nothing and deny everything. Plus, I needed the money. Also, we're taking names. Laugh while you can, monkey boys.

Posted by Robert at 10:02 AM | Comments (3)

December 13, 2004

Live blogging final exams

Herr Doktor Professor Shackleford is at it again.

SECRET NOTE TO RUSTY: Negotiating with the terrorists doesn't work. Who do you think you are, Robert McFarlane?

Posted by Steve at 01:05 PM | Comments (1)

Because eight is enough

to fill your heart with love!

Posted by Steve at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

Need a good laugh?

Peruse the latest screed from Mikey Moore, wherein we discover that Dubya is a wife-beater.

(From Desert Ramblings, via the inestimable and ever-patient and forgiving Divine Chai-Rista).

Dear Friends,
It is no surprise that the Republicans are sore winners. They have spent the better part of the past month beating their chests, threatening to send to Siberia any Republican who doesn’t toe the line (poor Arlen Specter), and promising everything short of martial law if the Democrats don’t do what they are told.
What’s worse is to watch the pathetic sight of the DLC (the conservative, pro-corporate group of Democrats) apologizing for being Democrats and promising to “purge” the party of the likes of, well, all of US! Their comments are so hilarious and really not even worth recognizing but the media is paying so much attention to them, I thought it might be worth doing a little reality check.
The most people the DLC is able to get out to an event of theirs is about 200 at their annual dinner (where you have to pay thousands of dollars to get in).
Contrast this with the following:
* Total Members of Move On: More than 2,000,000* Total Attendance at Vote for Change Concerts: An estimated 280,000* Total Union Members in U.S.: Around 16,000,000* Total Number of People Who Have Seen “Fahrenheit 9/11”: Over 50 million* Total Number of You Reading This: Perhaps 10 million or more
The days of trying to move the Democratic Party to the right are over. We lost a very close election (a one-state difference) by running the #1 liberal in the Senate. Not bad. The country is shifting in our direction, not to the right. But the country was attacked and people were scared. They were manipulated with fear. And America has never thrown a sitting president out during wartime. That’s the facts. Oh, and our candidate could have run a better campaign (but we’ll have that discussion another day).
In the meantime, while we reflect on what went wrong, I would like to pass on to you an essay that a friend who works with abuse victims sent to me. It was written by a woman who has spent years working as an advocate for victims of domestic abuse and she sees many parallels between her work and the reaction of many Democrats to last month’s election. Her name is Mel Giles and here is what she had to say…
Watch Dan Rather apologize for not getting his facts straight, humiliated before the eyes of America, voluntarily undermining his credibility and career of over thirty years. Observe Donna Brazille squirm as she is ridiculed by Bay Buchanan, and pronounced irrelevant and nearly non-existent. Listen as Donna and Nancy Pelosi and Senator Charles Schumer take to the airwaves saying that they have to go back to the drawing board and learn from their mistakes and try to be better, more likable, more appealing, have a stronger message, speak to morality. Watch them awkwardly quote the bible, trying to speak the ‘new’ language of America. Surf the blogs, and read the comments of dismayed, discombobulated, confused individuals trying to figure out what they did wrong. Hear the cacophony of voices, crying out, "Why did they beat me?"
And then ask anyone who has ever worked in a domestic violence shelter if they have heard this before.
They will tell you: Every single day.
The answer is quite simple. They beat us because they are abusers. We can call it hate. We can call it fear. We can say it is unfair. But we are looped into the cycle of violence, and we need to start calling the dominating side what they are: abusive. And we need to recognize that we are the victims of verbal, mental, and even, in the case of Iraq, physical violence.
As victims we can't stop asking ourselves what we did wrong. We can't seem to grasp that they will keep hitting us and beating us as long as we keep sticking around and asking ourselves what we are doing to deserve the beating.
Listen to George Bush say that the will of God excuses his behavior. Listen, as he refuses to take responsibility, or express remorse, or even once, admit a mistake. Watch him strut, and tell us that he will only work with those who agree with him, and that each of us is only allowed one question (soon, it will be none at all; abusers hit hard when questioned; the press corps can tell you that). See him surround himself with only those who pledge oaths of allegiance. Hear him tell us that if we will only listen and do as he says and agree with his every utterance, all will go well for us (it won't; we will never be worthy).
And watch the Democratic Party leadership walk on eggshells, try to meet him, please him, wash the windows better, get out that spot, distance themselves from gays and civil rights. See the Democrats cry for the attention and affection and approval of the President and his followers. Watch us squirm. Watch us descend into a world of crazy-making, where logic does not work and the other side tells us we are nuts when we rely on facts. A world where, worst of all, we begin to believe we are crazy.
How to break free? Again, the answer is quite simple.
First, you must admit you are a victim. Then, you must declare the state of affairs unacceptable. Next, you must promise to protect yourself and everyone around you that is being victimized. You don't do this by responding to their demands, or becoming more like them, or engaging in logical conversation, or trying to persuade them that you are right. You also don't do this by going catatonic and resigned, by closing up your ears and eyes and covering your head and submitting to the blows, figuring its over faster and hurts less if you don't resist and fight back.
Instead, you walk away. You find other folks like yourself, 57 million of them, who are hurting, broken, and beating themselves up. You tell them what you've learned, and that you aren't going to take it anymore. You stand tall, with 57 million people at your side and behind you, and you look right into the eyes of the abuser and you tell him to go to hell. Then you walk out the door, taking the kids and gays and minorities with you, and you start a new life. The new life is hard. But it's better than the abuse.
We have a mandate to be as radical and liberal and steadfast as we need to be. The progressive beliefs and social justice we stand for, our core, must not be altered. We are 57 million strong. We are building from the bottom up. We are meeting, on the net, in church basements, at work, in small groups, and right now, we are crying, because we are trying to break free and we don't know how.
Any battered woman in America, any oppressed person around the globe who has defied her oppressor will tell you this: There is nothing wrong with you. You are in good company. You are safe. You are not alone. You are strong. You must change only one thing: Stop responding to the abuser.
Don't let him dictate the terms or frame the debate (he'll win, not because he's right, but because force works). Sure, we can build a better grassroots campaign, cultivate and raise up better leaders, reform the election system to make it fail-proof, stick to our message, learn from the strategy of the other side. But we absolutely must dispense with the notion that we are weak, godless, cowardly, disorganized, crazy, too liberal, naive, amoral, "loose,” irrelevant, outmoded, stupid and soon to be extinct. We have the mandate of the world to back us, and the legacy of oppressed people throughout history.
Even if you do everything right, they'll hit you anyway. Look at the poor souls who voted for this nonsense. They are working for six dollars an hour if they are working at all, their children are dying overseas and suffering from lack of health care and a depleted environment and a shoddy education.
And they don't even know they are being hit.
How true. And that is our challenge over the next couple of years; to hold out our hand to those being hit the hardest and help them leave behind a party that only seeks to keep beating them, their children, and the kid next door who’s on his way to Iraq.

Posted by Steve at 11:54 AM | Comments (3)

The thing for what ails me

Just as my faith in the blogworld was at an all time low, I found THIS over at SondraK.'s place---the random Dubya Conspiracy Generator!

About the only good thing to come out of the run-up to the Coveted Bloggy Awards was getting to know Sondra K and her site.

Posted by Steve at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

About the LLama Scandal...

I have absolutely nothing to say at the moment, except "What happens in Lima stays in Lima."

Also, let the record show that Robbo had nothing to do with the picture: let's just say INDCent Bill is a beast for pillow salad and leave it at that.

And as for the orgle? Well, it's true what they say: once you've had orgle, you'll never go back....

BTW, I left the laptop at the office Friday @ 2 pm, went to a faculty meeting, then went home and had a fabulous weekend with the family---got the tree up, put out more lights outside, took the kids to a birthday party, all the while not realizing my reputation was being trashed by alleged friends and colleagues.

We'll remember.......

UPDATE: But of course....

Posted by Steve at 10:38 AM | Comments (3)

Congrats, Andrew!

Our very own Reverend Pixy, Benevolent Poo-Bah of the Moo Knew Mu Shu Domain of Doom, has vaulted to the top of the TLLB, a leap of truly Giambiesque proportions.

Way to go, Andrew!

Posted by Steve at 10:20 AM | Comments (1)

December 12, 2004

Don't Go There, Bill

Congrats to INDCent Bill for getting a mention in an article about blogging in the Sunday Source section of today's WaPo.

Rumor has it that Bill just did this as an entre to get to meet "Tell Me About It" on-line advice columnist Carolyn Hax. Trust me, Bill. I've been reading the woman's column for years. She's a crackpot. Pure relationship poison. Stay away from her.

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 11:29 AM | Comments (3)

We're Getting Broadband, Baby!

Now here's a bit of good news. As the gardeners among you may recall, I was fretting last week because Verizon is laying DSL cable behind my house and I was concerned that they would follow the direct line between their transformer posts - which happens to go right down the back bed of my garden - thereby causing much mayhem among my young perennials.

Well, mirabile dictu, when I got back on Friday, I discovered that Verizon is going around my garden. In fact, they're even going outside the hydrangia hedge at the back. This constitutes a deviation of a good fifteen feet or so out of their way. I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

Needless to say, we're definitely going to sign up for the DSL service when it becomes available, if for no other reason than this courtesy. I never thought I'd see myself type this, but thank you, Verizon!

Posted by Robert at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

If Llamas Were Meant To Fly, They'd Have Wings

As regular readers know, I really hate flying. Coming back from Mobile on Friday, I think the gods decided to set me up for some extra torment.

First, the flight from Mobile to Atlanta was packed solid. I had a middle seat and was squished in between two perfectly enormous fat guys, one of whom needed one of those Mr. Chubby Belt-Extention things in order to strap himself in. Now I happen to be a pretty thin guy, so our row rather resembled a slice of beef sandwiched between two halves of a loaf of French bread. I literally could not move from side to side. This has happened so many times to me and other people I know that I'm pretty sure the airlines have a secret database somewhere in which they keep track of repeat passengers, marking them as thin, regular and extra-chunky, and manipulating their seat assignments so as to maximize this kind of arrangement. (After all, a third fat guy simply would not have fit in my seat, nor could the three of us have been placed in any other arrangement.)

These two fat guys overflowed their seats and, of course, utterly covered both of my arm rests. This was awful, as to me, the arm rest is the single most important piece of equipment on the plane. As apparently only I understand, it is only my constant clutching of said arm rest that keeps the wings from falling off. Without it, I had nothing to hang on to other than my seatbelt buckle.

And damme if I didn't need to clutch extra hard, because this was one of those flights where the pilot even makes the stewardesses sit down. The slightest amount of turbulance gives me the willies. The extra bounce here had me praying pretty vigorously.

Arriving in Atlanta, I discovered that my flight to Dee Cee had been cancelled and that I'd been rebooked on another one leaving an hour later. This was actually good news, as the flight I was supposed to take was one of those little Canadian regional jets and I had been assigned a window seat (me no like), and the later flight was a gen-u-ine grown up airliner. (My rule of thumb is that any plane in which I can see peripherally out the window on both sides at once is too small.) Also, the extra hour gave the weather a chance to push farther out of the way.

Nonetheless, our take-off from Atlanta was posivitely beastly, real "Throat, meet stomach. Stomach, this is throat" time. Somehow or other, it didn't bother me so much as the bumps from the previous flight. Perhaps by that time I had finally reached the stage of exhaustion where I simply didn't give a damn anymore.

I will say that the rest of the flight up from Atlanta was fine. We had a strong tailwind, which means we zipped up in just over an hour. I had a bulkhead aisle seat next to some skinny kid, leaving both armrests at my disposal, and the landing in Dee Cee was extremely smooth. By that time, however, I had pretty much come to the end of my tether. I'd eaten nothing all day, and I hadn't even had any coffee until we reached Atlanta. I tried to go to a party after I got back to my house - they immediately sent me home because I looked so exhausted.

One of these days I'm going to work out the formula to calculate the number of minutes knocked off my life per air mile due to the stress. I'll bet it's pretty high.

Posted by Robert at 11:21 AM | Comments (7)

I'm Baaaaaaaack.......

Still recovering from my recent jaunt down to Mobile. Brief impressions of the place:

- Lots of really beautiful architecture, most of it downtown. The place reminds me a lot of other southern cities I've been to such as Charleston and Beaufort.

- As with other such cities, the neighborhoods seem to be very jumbled. You can be strolling along a nice street and suddenly find yourself in a really scary looking place. Two minutes later, you're in a nice area again. Go figure.

- True to the South, most of the folks were extremely friendly. However, I ate lunch one afternoon at a brewpub on Dauphin Street and had a rude and snippy waitress. It was so out of character with everything else I witnessed that I was posivitely shocked.

- The Mobile Marriott is never going to reach star quality if water keeps welling up out of the bathroom sinks.

- I had to travel out into the back country some seventy or eighty miles from the city. There is still a lot of damage visible from the plastering the area took from Hurricane Ivan. Someone told me the damage was much worse because this was the first direct hit from a major storm in some especially lengthy span of years. I can readily believe it.

- Speaking of storms, I had to cross the delta of the Mobile River in a perfectly furious driving rain early Thursday morning. It is a very long causeway and features two bridges as well, one very tall, the other not so much. At the time, I began to think it rather absurd that I had been so stressed about flying, when my actual fate was going to be to get blown off a bridge in a car.

- There sure are a hell of a lot of lawyer's offices in Mobile, most of them comfortably ensconsed in the above-referenced beautiful houses.

- I didn't get to do much sightseeing, as the weather was pretty crummy the whole time. But I'm pretty sure I'll be going back, so hopefully will get another chance.

Posted by Robert at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)

December 10, 2004

Blogs go bigtime

And what's neat about it, it happened in DC and neither Bill nor his squeeze Wonkette were there to break the scoop...

Posted by Steve at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

The Rubicon is crossed

Of course you know that THIS means war!

Posted by Steve at 04:40 PM | Comments (8)

Butch Cassiday, political consultant

The endgame is shaping up in Iraq.

Posted by Steve at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

Do your Duty for the Lawhd Gawhd and the LLamas!

Okay folks, we're in striking distance of third place in the race for the Coveted Bloggy in the Best Culture category! We're closing in fast on the Daily Recycler, and we're putting Gawker---evil mothership to the evil that is Wonkette---in the dust!

So here's our new pitch: let's face it, the first word you think of when you think of the LLamabutchers is.......? Spitting Ruminants? Okay that's two words. What about.....hacks? Prostitutes? Shameless link hussies? Okay, that's three words but you get our drift. But culture? Certainly not in the top ten things that come to mind.

So here's our angle: fed up with the hype of the Weblog Awards? Pissed that you weren't nominated or that slick corporate machines are crowding out the authentic indie voices? Is your picture of Baby Jeebus crying because Allahpundit would rather play Sonic the Hedgehog than give you the pshop fixes only he can provide?

If you said yes to any of the above, the only answer is to vote for the LLamas as best culture blog. That's right: the LLamas as "best culture" would certainly qualify as evidence 17 centuries from now from whatever Edward Gibbon in polyester one piece space historian dude decides to write "Decline and Fall of the Amerikan Empire." So be in on the ground floor of intergalactic history!

Posted by Steve at 02:37 PM | Comments (1)

I'm Outraged!

Sorry for the headline---a little inside joke.

My midmorning laugh for the day came from this hyperventilated piece:

"I was just in the editing room, working on the last piece," Bill Moyers says. "I thought: `I've done this so many times, and each one is as difficult as the last one.' Maybe finally I've broken the habit."

It hasn't been so much a habit for Moyers as a truth-telling mission during his three decades as a TV journalist. But come next week, he will sign off from "Now," the weekly PBS newsmagazine he began in 2002, as, at age 70, he retires from television.

"I'm going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee," says Moyers. "We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people."

For that, his absence after the Dec. 17 "Now" will be all the more keenly felt: Moyers' interest has always been the American people.

A humanist who's at home with subjects ranging from the power of myth to media consolidation, from drug addiction to modern dance, from religion to environmental abuse, Moyers has produced hundreds of hours of diverse programming on issues that others shortchange, sidestep or simply fail to notice. And through it all, he has looked upon his audience not as targeted consumers, or as voters split along a Red State-Blue State divide, but as his fellow citizens.

He's a citizen-journalist with a robust background, this Texas native who, early on, earned a divinity degree (he's an ordained Baptist minister) then served as special assistant to President Johnson, and for several years was publisher of the Long Island newspaper Newsday.

In 1971, he came to public television as host of "This Week" and "Bill Moyers' Journal," and, next, joined CBS News to do similarly civic-minded programming.

Then in 1986 he and his wife, Judith Davidson Moyers, became their own bosses by forming Public Affairs Television, an independent shop that has not only produced documentaries such as "A Walk Through the 20th Century," "Healing and the Mind" and "A Gathering of Men with Robert Bly," but also paid for them through its own fund-raising efforts.

"Judith and I will take several months to catch our breath," says Moyers during a recent conversation at the soon-to-be-vacated office he rents at Thirteen/WNET's Manhattan headquarters. "Then I will think about the Last Act _ capital L, capital A _ of my life."

He does have one immediate project: a book he will write about his years with Johnson. But he has no TV ventures in mind.

With his days at "Now" ticking down, Moyers voices pride in that series, which, upon its premiere three years ago, he envisioned as "a flexible format for ideas and conversation, reportage and debate." Now reaching 2.4 million viewers weekly with its breaking-news currency and contemplative pace, "Now" will continue with his worthy co-host, David Brancaccio, taking over. (It airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. EST; check local listings.)

"It has gained traction," says Moyers _ if only by default, in an era where most TV journalism gravitates toward the sensational or trivial. "As the networks have raced to the bottom, it is very easy to stand out if you just do good journalism. We've been trying to do good journalism, and it filled a real void."

One example of typically good journalism on "Now" not long ago: an in-depth look at the record of President Bush's nominee for secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice, who in her current post as national security adviser "dreadfully misjudged the terrorist threat leading up to 9/11, and then misled America and the world about the case for invading Iraq," as Moyers concluded.

It was the sort of report unlikely to be found on most newscasts, and even less likely to endear a reporter to the powers-that-be, on whose good graces the media has grown all too reliant. But Moyers believes that challenging those in power is a journalist's duty _ and, consequently, his.

"What they're really objecting to is not my ideology," he says in his thoughtful, almost pastoral manner. "I'd be doing this if the Democrats were in power. It's not that I'm a liberal, it really isn't. It's the fact that I'm doing journalism that isn't determined by the establishment.

"You don't get rewarded in commercial broadcasting for trying to tell the truth about the institutions of power in this country," he goes on. "I think my peers in commercial television are talented and devoted journalists, but they've chosen to work in a corporate mainstream that trims their talent to fit the corporate nature of American life. And you do not get rewarded for telling the hard truths about America in a profit-seeking environment."

Through his own devices, Moyers has been the journalist he wanted to be, while honored for it with more than 30 Emmys and 10 Peabody awards.

"I've just been doing the kind of journalism that ought to be done, IF you had the opportunity to do it," he insists. "The fight has been to create that opportunity and that independence."

It's been a fight he fought well. But where will tomorrow's Bill Moyers come from?

"We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns in reply, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."

What puts this all in perspective is that Moyers was the creator of probably the most notorious left-wing sleazy presidential attack ad in history: 1964's "Daisy" ad, which declared a vote for Goldwater was a vote for nuking innocent kids.

The following exchange was recorded the advertisement's sole airing on September 7, 1964:

Back in 1964, minutes after Daisy was broadcast, President Johnson phoned his press secretary, Bill Moyers, and yelled: "Jesus Christ! What in the world happened?"

Said Moyers: "You got your point across, that's what happened."

Somehow, the article forgets that. Must have been an oversight.

I'm outraged!

Posted by Steve at 12:20 PM | Comments (5)

December 09, 2004

The grapevine

Rae's spreading urban legends about herself. You know, come to think about it, I did see "Mr. Wrong" in the theaters. I guess that makes me.....

mr wrong.jpeg

Actually, I quite sympathize with Rae on this one. I teach at a small women's college, so basically anything you do or say is going to become phantasmorgized within half an hour to all parts of the campus. If necessary, they'll just make it up.

My answer? Regularly eat lunch with the fabulous ladies of the phys ed department---it's kind of the anti-Will & Grace show. That, and regularly plant different odd (made up) things around campus about myself as a sort of barium enema to the grapevine---that is, you can track where the gossip travelled from by marking the presence or absence of bizarre little tidbits introduced into the system at various times and places. That way, you get enough bizarre crap out there that makes the various sort of run of the mill rumor and innuendo seem tame by comparison (for example, for two years in my office I had up a fake French Foreign Legion Certificate of Merit that I made up and framed. Now, I have my real Kentucky Colonel commission, right next to the picture of Elvis and Nixon).

Posted by Steve at 04:07 PM | Comments (3)


Kathleen has the newest member of the moo-knew mu shu domain of evil up and running: go on over and give some Yips!

Welcome to the fold, Kath!

Posted by Steve at 11:56 AM | Comments (2)

A mid-level ring in hell

Lorraine is suffering through the PC trash wilderness that is the college application essay.

Posted by Steve at 11:54 AM | Comments (1)

Is Harry Reid Ready for primetime?

Increasingly, the answer seems to be "no."

Call me silly, but I think the Republicans will be helped more over the next four years by a solid and consistent opposition then by a flabby, lunatic one. The greatest danger for the party's domestic political agenda is to become triumphalist and lazy. A sharp opposition will force them to keep their message clear and most importantly moored in the center.

BTW, because I was still in post stomach flu mode I was zoned out on the couch and happened to watch The West Wing. What was bizzare about the whole thing was their use of Alan Alda as a Republican Senator running for President. Now, it was comical at a number of levels: 1) the WW's writer's soviet envisions a tough Republican moderate good guy Alan Alda who clearly has been drinking his prune juice sans pulp; B) the WW's actor's soviet trying to act as if an obviously evil (you can see Bradley Whitford's wheels turning slowly, "I mean, Leo, the man's a Republican....which means if he's not molesting kids he's chopping them up and feeding their livers to old people!") Republican facing the extreme possibility of .....winning; III) NBC suits going after the prized advertiser's demographic of 75 year olds and up by turning Jed Bartlett into FDR.

Posted by Steve at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)

Allah smites INDC Bill

Has blogging officially jumped the shark?

Only can tell us for sure.

There seems to be much angst being spilled (and how does one actually spill angst? Why, an ice-pick to the back of the head, of course!) over the whole Weblog awards, which is perhaps the greatest single example of link-whoredom in the known history of man! (Congrats, Kevin!) We'd like to make our own humble role in this clear: we want to come in 4th in the Best Culture Blog category! Fourth, I say. Why? Well, there's no way in heck we're going to top Sondra K. and Michelle because, as their long time readers know, they are wont from time to time to display various elements of bodaciousness on their sites. Enough said. This is a stunt that your LLamas just aren't willing or able to compete in. So we'll settle for fourth. And why does fourth matter? Because it will put us on top of Gawker, the evil, corporate pusttule that is sucking the life out of Blogistan and is the Aliens mother blog to the evil that is Wonkette. So a vote for the LLamas is a vote against Wonkette! What more can you do for your fellow man than that?

Posted by Steve at 10:50 AM | Comments (4)

Rusty really needs a break

An anthropological exegesis of Jawa society.

What, no Margaret Meed-esque "Coming of Age in Tatooine"?

Posted by Steve at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2004

The virtues of blogging anonymously

Rusty is at it again, with his plan for M.A.D. for the terrorists: hit us, and we're nuking Mecca.

Posted by Steve at 01:35 PM | Comments (1)

A little perspective is necessary

Apparently, Dan Rather has added a new feature at the CBS Evening News where he profiles each day a soldier or marine killed in the Iraq Campaign. I say apparently since I haven't watched the CBS Evening News since approximately 1983 when I was in high school. But supposedly he is now up to 140.

Each and every casualty is a tragedy and a loss to the Nation. CBS claims it is doing this "to honor American servicemen" while we all know their motivation is to undermine American support for the war effort, as they did after the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.

The perspective point however is this: if in some strange Harry Turtledove universe the CBS Evening News had started this feature after the end of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863 of featuring a story about each casualty of the Battle per night, they would have finished.......

Actually, they wouldn't have finished yet: they would still have about eighteen years and six months to go, finishing in approximately June of 2023.

Assume CBS Evening News broadcasts 313 nights a year (six days a week for 52 weeks), and assume over the years there would be a certain number of nights with no CBS Evening News for specials---you know, Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic, the Titanic sinking, McKinley getting shot, the over-heated round the clock coverage of the Supreme Court deciding the election of 1876, the brouhaha of the unfortunate Elizabeth Cady Stanton "wardrobe malfunction" at the special Suffragette half-time show, the sympathetic coverage of the "insurgency" resisting the Union occupation of the South etc., balanced off with the extra broadcast every four years for leap year (except when leap year fell on a Sunday, in which there would be no CBS Evening News). That gives you approximately 44,133 editions of the CBS evening news.

Given the generally accepted consensus of approximately 50,000 casualties (which includes killed, missing, and wounded), roughly 5,867 profiles would be left undone at the present.

At the rate of 313 broadcasts per year, that would leave another 18.7 years to go, or to roughly mid-June, 2023.

Posted by Steve at 01:22 PM | Comments (3)

Personally? My money is on Rishawn...

babe fight 2.gif

As our long time reader (Hi, Mrs. Rob's Mom!) knows, we have a long term bone to pick with the so-called "Hawk Babe" and her selection by Frank "The Eff is for French" J. last spring. Still, though, my money is on Risawn.

Posted by Steve at 12:49 PM | Comments (3)

Well now

We were wanketted Monday, more of which I have to say later (I mean, you get ten thousand visits because of one post two months ago where you express outrage and disgust because some perv googled up your site looking for nekkid pictures of the person who is now the public spokeswoman for the Central Intelligence Agency? What is this world coming to? I'm a respectable political scientist, for heaven's sake, not the lost Hansen Brother!)

But your LLamas are indeed a multi-threat blog, to say the least: I mean, someone googled up and visited us looking for "new style butter churn porn."

You know, I don't even want to know.

For the love of all that is holy will you perverts just go and leave us alone? We're trying to run a classy establishment here!

Posted by Steve at 10:14 AM | Comments (7)

December 07, 2004


I'm out the next couple days. I suppose Steve-O is in the middle of grading exams, but honestly, how long does it take to throw a parcel of blue books down the stairwell?

Anyhoo, while I'm away, be excellent to each other. And party on, Dudes. And vote for us in the 2004 Bloggies!

I plan to resurface some time this weekend. Meanwhile, if there is something in particular about which you would like me to rant, feel free to leave a comment.

Yip at you later! Yip! Yip! Yip!

YIPS from Steve: I've been getting over a nasty little stomach virus that's left me feeling like one of those Riders of Rohan who got stepped on by one of those evil giant elephants.

Posted by Robert at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

Civil War Posting


Excellent! The way my schedule is working out, I may actually have some time to do a little sight-seeing in the next couple days. And when in Mobile, what better sight to see than Fort Morgan, where was fought the Battle of Mobile Bay in August, 1864. (It was during this battle that Union Admiral David Farragut issued the order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!")

I'll be sure to tell you all about it when I get back.

Posted by Robert at 04:37 PM | Comments (2)

Usable Llama Parental Expressions

Anybody who has to deal with small children will be familiar with their habit, when asked to locate something, of immediately going slack and yelling, "But DAAAAAD! I can't find it!" or the equivalent.

I've come up with a nifty comeback that I often employ on the Llama-ettes and pass on to you in the spirit of comraderie:

"Well try using your eyes instead of your mouth."

Share and enjoy.

Posted by Robert at 03:55 PM | Comments (6)

Le Mot Juste

Kathy the Cake Eater has the perfect photo caption. Heh, indeed. And congratulations to the World's newest elected Head of State.

Posted by Robert at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

The Brain.....It's Breathing!

Tim Worstall picks up on a goofy new holistic method for getting the kiddies to calm down, Brain Respiration.

It would appear that someone has made the earth-shattering rediscovery that kids need regular physical activity to help them focus mentally. Who knew? To you or me, this would mean the obvious - time at the gym and the playground. But the times being what they are, such common sense solutions of course would garner no attention. Instead, a whole new regime has been dreamt up:

The first exercise I did was to slap my "dantien" (the point in Chinese medicine located just below the navel) while shouting: "Ha! Ha! Ha!" That's not a laughing "hahaha" but more of a loud breath expulsion. And there was lots more slapping to follow. I slapped my entire body, rhythmically, up and down my arms, legs and torso. Paul said it would unlock my blocked meridians (the same meridians recognised by acupuncture). In the room next door, my children, Juliette and Liam, were performing a similar routine. The whole family met again for the last hour of the session and took turns giving each other foot, tummy, and head massages. I savoured the moment, whale music and all.

You might be tempted to dismiss this as typical New Age drivel. But I have an alternative theory: The purveyor of Hungarian-English phrasebooks has found a new line of work.

My meridians are full of eels! My dantien explodes with delight!

Posted by Robert at 01:09 PM | Comments (2)

Mirror, Mirror


Our pal Freakin' Jen discovers her Bearded-Spock Universe double and asks for suggestions as to what to do about it.

Posted by Robert at 12:47 PM | Comments (3)

Now That's Blog-Whining!

The Crack Young Staff of the Hatemonger's Quarterly sets the bar for kvetching over the 2004 Weblog Award nominations.

We, of course, are immensely grateful to the CYS for their support of our own nomination, but would also ask them a slight variation on the old Groucho Marx question: Would they really want to belong to a club that would have us Llamas as members?

Small solace, perhaps. But here's some more. Next year, when the Llamas are out in the alley behind the banquet hall, pawing through the trash in search of cigarette butts, wine bottle dregs and napkins smeared with celebrity lipstick (don't ask), we are sure that the CYS are going to have an entire table of their own, right up close to the podium.

And rightly deserved, too.

Posted by Robert at 12:33 PM | Comments (1)

The Revamped Red-Head

If you haven't been there already, be sure to go over and check out Sheila O'Malley's redone site, The Sheila Variations. All Charles Dana Gibson, slick lines and cool colors.

Well done, Sheila!

Posted by Robert at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)

You Think I Make These Things Up?

In my tirade yesterday about Christmas decorations, I ranted in part about where to draw the line on creches. And stap my vitals, what's the first thing I see on Drudge this morning? Madame Tussaud's Celebrity Nativity. This is just plain wrong.

I know, I know. You're asking, "Dave, what can I do to help stop the slide of Western Civilization into the abyss."

Well, one thing you can do is vote us Llamas Best Culture Blog in the 2004 Weblog Awards. I can't guarantee we'll stop the slide, but we'll certainly try to slow it down a bit.

UPDATE: Oh, and while you're at it, vote for these fine and deserving blogs as well. And may I make especial mention of INDCent Bill for Best New Blog? This isn't to withdraw our support for our *other * favorites * in this category. But Bill has started leaving threatening messages in lipstick scrawled on my bathroom walls and strangling the kids' pets and it's kinda weirding me out.

Posted by Robert at 09:54 AM | Comments (2)

December 06, 2004

Ah! It Burns! It Burns!

Dammit, Steve, now you've done it - We've been, er, Wonketted!!


YIPS from Steve: I feel so, so.....dirty.

Posted by Robert at 04:57 PM | Comments (1)

Reactionary Christmas Decorating Tips

I've been flooded recently by emails along the lines of this one:

Tom, what is the grouchy conservative overview regarding Christmas decorations?

Well it's funny that so many people should ask li'l ol' me, as there are very few things about which I am more cranky and hidebound. Herewith, then, a general summary of my Christmas Decoration Laws. I understand that you may not agree with some or even any of them. That's cool. After all, we live in an open, tolerant and pluralistic society. If you want to expose yourself as a cretinous, hydrocephalitic moron, why go right ahead and God bless.

1. Outside Decorations. There is nothing I love more than a big evergreen wreath on the front door with pinecones and a large red bow. To me, this is the epitome of the exterior decoration. This year, we are actually expanding on this theme a bit by also wrapping the lamp post at the end of the sidewalk in garland and red ribbon. You can even go so far as to give this treatment to porch or stair railings as appropriate and available. branches and red ribbons.

But this is where it ends. Any kind of mailbox decoration is going to encourage teenagers with baseball bats - don't do it. Exterior lights - bad. Yard ornaments of any kind, including the eight foot tall illuminated blow-up Snoopy on display three doors up from us - worse. Nativities, sleighs and/or reindeer either on the grass or the roof - wrong, wrong wrong. And if you try to simulate snowfall in any way, shape or form, don't ever come back to this blog again.

In short, all that Griswold Family Christmas stuff is right out. I read about those neighborhoods that pride themselves on their yearly displays and recoil. I read about people who actually drive around to look at such neighborhoods with horror, meanwhile fumbling around for my branding irons so I can stamp a large letter "L" on their foreheads.

(N.B. - On the other hand, if you must, putting those fake candles in all your windows is acceptable, so long as you confine yourself to one per window and they don't flash.)

2. Interior Decorations. Rule Number One: Do it yer damn' self. Hiring out someone else to decorate your house is loathsome enough as it is. Hiring them to put up your Christmas decorations is infinitely worse. Don't do it.

Now, some general guidelines. As I noted above, there is no such thing as too much garland. Ditto ribbon and candles. Mistletoe is fine, too. And pinecones, whether mixed in with the greenery or in a nice glass bowl as a table centerpiece. Go nuts. But keep in mind that all greens should be real. Plastic garland is a flogging offense. So are electic candles. (Don't laugh - I've seen them.)

A creche is, of course, perfectly fine for those who wish it. But be plausible- no Disney or other theme nativities. No mechanized ones. None with built-in illumination, dialogue or soundtrack. (Okay, I don't know if any of these actually exist. What I DO know is that most creche sets available are pretty hidious. Just go with the one that is the least garish, if possible.) And fer cryin' out loud, nothing "edgy" or "hip"- this is supposed to be a solemn religious symbol, not an opportunity to show off how cool and ironic you are.

Many folks like to set up miniature villages, rail lines and that sort of thing as well. I have no problem with this in general and merely rely on ordinary standards of taste to judge on a case-by-case basis. Something Dickensian is fine. Something Ewokish is not.

In a special exception to the taste rule, it should be noted that all crafts made by kids at home, school or church, no matter how hidious, may properly be displayed. The sole exception to this is gingerbread houses. I don't know whose bright idea those things were, but it was a bad one.

Here is my list of prohibited indoor gew-gaws: Santas; reindeer; plastic candles or snowmen; anything at all related to Mickey, Elmo or some other teevee or movie figure; all Nutcracker dolls of any sort, period; anything legible - whether wall hanging, crockery, sculpture or otherwise - with the possible exception of cocktail napkins.

3. The Tree. Here we are at the center of things, so to speak. Needless to say, the first rule of trees is that they must be real. There is no excuse whatsoever for a fake tree.

Again, decorate the damn' thing yourself. I mean, that's half the point, isn't it? Having it done for you simply tells the world that you are a very shallow person who cares about nothing except surface appearances. And no "theme" trees, please.

Now for some of the basics: I prefer those small, white lights and lots of 'em. But we'll also allow tho older, big-assed color lights on grounds of nostalgia. The latter may also flash. The former never should. And don't mix them.

Increasingly, I think tinsel is a mistake, particularly those "icicle" things that you'll keep finding scattered around the house well into next September. Long strands of gold and silver beads are fine, as are red wooden cranberries. Popcorn is a tougher call. I suppose if you've got the patience to actually string that many kernals, you are entitled to hang your trophy. Good luck keeping the kids off it, tho. Ditto candycanes.

For the top, an angel, star or (as was the case when I was a kid) a dove is nice. A Santa hat is not.

There is an interesting reversed value-added phenomenon with respect to some ornaments. One can go to Wal-Mart or CVS and spend ten bucks to get more than enough simple glass balls in a variety of colors, for example. These are much more aesthetically pleasing that the overdone baubles you might pick up from more fru-fru places at infinitely greater cost.

With respect to other ornaments, again, be plausible. Bows, fiddles, drums, trumpets, angels, birds, bells, mementos of places been, etc. All of that is just fine. (One of our favorite ornaments, in fact, is a pair of sand dollars with red ribbons sent to us by some dear friends in the Carolinas.) But anything with a brand label, for example, is out (no Mercedes hood ornaments). Ditto references to pop culture, politics, technology (no boom boxes) or the macabre. The two great themes to aim for here are festivity and non-commercialism.

A Christmas tree is also a kind of depository of family memories. (This, by the way, is another major reason why having someone else decorate for you is so wrong.) For example, I still have a a number of cheap ornaments that my parents picked up over the last forty years or so. They are falling apart and fading. I put them on the tree every year anyway because of their sentimental value. Sooner or later, they all will come to grief, but because new ornaments are constantly being added to the collection (as, for example, the silver stars to mark the year of each of our childrens' birth), the cycle is a gradual, rolling one. The point is that ornaments represent a kind of tangible scrapbook. The memories they invoke each time you take them out, like good wine, improve with age.

4. Timing. When I was a kid, we had a tradition of putting up wreaths and whatnot a week or two before Christmas, and then decorating the tree itself on Christmas Eve. I've loosened up about this somewhat in my old age - we did garlands this past weekend and plan to go get the tree next Saturday (although we probably won't trim it until the week after that). As a general rule, I think once Advent starts, you should consider yourselves at liberty to get going. Thanksgiving is too early. Halloween is preposterous.

5. Miscellany. A few other thoughts. Stockings: If you're old enough to date, you shouldn't hang one. For the kiddies, stockings should be functional (i.e., able to hold the smaller bric-a-brac). My mother used to put our stuffed stockings on the landing in order to hold us off for an extra hour or two on Christmas morning. Music: There is nothing wrong with playing lots of holiday music, but be respectful - Bach and Handel are not meant to be background noise. Don't try to listen to them and do something else (especially with other people) at the same time. There are plenty of other tunes available. Also be wary - most holiday music gets very old, very fast. Consider this when you think about turning it on. The only exception to this rule that I know of is the Vince Guaraldi Trio's "Charlie Brown Christmas".

Well, there you have it. Follow these simple guidelines and you will have a Stodgy Old Christmas indeed. Next time: Reactionary Christmas celebration.

Posted by Robert at 04:48 PM | Comments (5)

Llama Road Trip

By the way, I'm heading down to Mobile, Alabama on Wednesday on business. I love Gulf Coast seafood. If anybody can recommend a good place to eat there, I'd appreciate it.

Posted by Robert at 01:39 PM | Comments (3)

Vote, Or Don't Come Crying To Us When The Citadel of Western Culture Is Reduced To A Smoldering Ruin!

Just a friendly, dire reminder to get on over to the 2004 Weblog Awards and vote for us Llamas for Best Culture Blog. Right now we're hanging tough in fourth place, but we need each and every one of you to vote every day in order to help us overtake the Visigoths in front of us.

Just consider the Leader Board:

- Headmistress SondraK, in a Planet Z frame of mind, is running with continuous-loop local news porn. Is this the legacy you want to leave for your children?

-Michele, meanwhile, is putting peanut butter in her post titles. Hey! There are people with allergies out there! Terrible allergies. Don't you know that peanuts are a more painful and gruesome cause of death than bubonic plague? Don't you care? Besides, I've been meaning to whup on her over this whole colored lights thing. And, lest you need reminding, she is a Yankees Fan.

-The Daily Recycler? We happen to know that Puff Daddy is now working for them. It's true! Honest! But don't be intimidated! Fight against this effort to steal your vote! And please help me stop writing in such an exclamatory tone!

So there you have it. On the one hand, the Forces of Darkness. On the other, the shining light of Llamadom. Make the right call. Win with the Wool.

(And don't forget to check here for my list of other recommendations.)

Posted by Robert at 12:49 PM | Comments (1)

Monday Morning Movie Meme

The Impenetrable One has put up a list of his Top 102 Five Star Films. You don't seriously think I'm going to pass up this nifty gifty when I'm still recovering my marbles from the weekend, do you? Cul-chah, man. It's all cul-chah.

Of course, this list is completely subjective, based on LDH's tastes. What's interesting in these cases is to compare and contrast. You know the drill - Those in bold I've seen. Those in italics I'd see again or would like to see. Gratuitous commentary inserted where ever I feel like it:

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - I frankly don't see what the big deal is.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) - One of my all time favorites, but it's been years since I saw it last.
Airplane! (1980) - I saw this on Comedy Central recently and for the first time began to sense that it was really starting to age. But I still love Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges trying to out-macho each other.
All That Jazz (1979)
Amadeus (1984) - As biography, this film is a load of crap. But it is still entertaining and, to be fair, does hit on some of what you might call the themes of Mozart's life and art. Favorite scene: Where Mozart sits down at the keyboard in front of the Emperor and begins to riff on a pathetic little tune painstakingly composed by Salieri, eventually turning it into "Non piu andrai" from Le Nozzi di Figaro.
Animal House (1978) - Of course.
Annie Hall (1977) - I've seen this many, many times. And frankly, it's gotten old. I think I'd have to wait a long while before seeing it again.
As Good As It Gets (1997)
Awakenings (1990)
Back to the Future (1985) - I always think of this as one of the hallmark movies of the '80's.
Barbarella (1968)
Basic Instinct (1992)
Batman (1989)
Benny & Joon (1993)
The Big Chill (1983)
Blazing Saddles (1974) - Yeah, it has its funny moments. But the movie as a whole isn't anywhere near as good as Young Frankenstein.
The Blues Brothers (1980) - "Boys, you got to learn not to talk to nuns like that."
Body Heat (1981)
The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes (1970)
Creepshow (1982)
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
The Crow (1994)
Die Hard (1988) - This is one of those "If FX is running it I have to watch it" guy flicks. I prefer the one with Samuel L. Jackson in it.
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Doctor Doolittle (1967)
Dogma (1999)
The Doors (1991)
Ed Wood (1994)
Fargo (1996)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) - Yes, I've never seen this. While I'd like to, I'm probably too old for it now.
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Field of Dreams (1989)
A Fish Called Wanda (1988) - Don't call me stupid.
The Fisher King (1991)
A Fistful of Dollars (1964) - I actually prefer For A Few Dollars More. And, of course, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is the best of the set.
Forrest Gump (1994) - Me and the Idiot Savant, we don't get along together very well.
Ghost (1990) - Ghack.
Ghostbusters (1984) - One of Bill Murray's best.
Gods and Monsters (1998)
The Great Escape (1963)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Heaven Can Wait (1978)
Help! (1965) - I saw this many years ago and don't remember much. But it is the Beatles.
Highlander (1986)
The House of Yes (1997)
The January Man (1989)
A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
Little Man Tate (1991)
Mad Dog Time (1996)
Man on the Moon (1999)
Manhattan (1979)
M*A*S*H (1970) - The only weak point in this flick is the cardboard character of Major Frank Burns. But it is a mark of Hollywood - and particularly people like Robert Altman - that they simply do not understand conservatism and therefore almost always rely on shallow caricature to cover their ignorance.
The Mask (1994)- The story of my life as a blogger.
The Matrix (1999) - Aside from the dorm room bull-session metaphysics, a very good movie.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) - I don't believe I've ever seen this all the way through.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974) - Feche la vache!
Night Shift (1982)
The Nutty Professor (1963)
The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
The Philadelphia Story (1940) - The Trinity of Golden Age Hollywood.
Police Academy (1984) - Okay, you have too, so don't get all smug on me.
Poltergeist (1982) - As a rule, I hate horror movies. But I like this and The Shining.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Rain Man (1988) - See Forest Gump above.
Raising Arizona (1987) - I read recently that on one of the takes of Leonard Smalls pulling up to Gale and Evelle's escape tunnel on his Harley, Tex Cobb damn near put the bike into the hole.
The Rapture (1991)
Repo Man (1984) - For when you feel the need to rebel.
Rio Bravo (1959)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Scream (1996)
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
Shine (1996) - One of those trendy movies that people think it's hip to see even if they don't really give a damn about the underlying art. I got very tired of people suddenly going around talking about the "Rach 3". And as a matter of fact, I heard a performance by David Helfgott on the radio once - it was horrid. Which makes me think this whole business was some kind of exploitation job.
The Shootist (1976) - Outstanding evidence that Wayne really could act.
Sliver (1993)
Somewhere in Time (1980)
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999) - A good friend once practically gave me conniptions when, after I complained that I needed some caffeine, she said, "Zees way to the coffee machine, beetches."
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) - Best. Star. Trek. Of. All. Time. Period.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) - Probably the second best of the series. It's funny to go back and see all those mid-80's pieties about whales, "nuclear wessels" and capitalism.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) - I haven't seen the rereleased bastardized version of this one yet. If Lucas were to wipe out the Ewoks, I'd probably forgive him his other tinkering.
Starship Troopers (1997) - There is much to be said for the works of Michael Ironside.
The Sting (1973)
Striptease (1996)
Superman III (1983)
That Thing You Do! (1996) UPDATED: Forgot that I saw this.
Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993) - Dunno why, but I missed this.
Tombstone (1993)
Top Secret! (1984)
Total Recall (1990)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Up in Smoke (1978)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Walkabout (1971)
Westworld (1973)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) - You know, this film is just too damn frenetic for me.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) - I came for the Oompah-Loompahs. I stayed for Gene Wilder's snide, subversive asides. And I use the nasty spoiled children as object lessons for my own kids.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The World According to Garp (1982)
Yellow Submarine (1968) - See entry for A Hard Day's Night.

Posted by Robert at 11:37 AM | Comments (10)


Our Church's Christmas Pagent is next weekend and we picked up the Llama-ettes' costumes yesterday. As was the case last year, my six year old and four year old will participate as, respectively, a shepherd and an angel. Also, my two year old is joining in for the first time this year. We signed her up as one of the barnyard animals. For reasons which I have yet to fathom, she apparently is going as a lion.

It just so happens that yesterday's Adult Forum was an excellent history of the development of the Nativity story in Western Art. Despite numerous changes in the story over the millenia - the Brigettine birth, the change in Joseph's age and role, the handling of Jesus by midwives, and so on, I'm pretty sure that the ox, the ass and sheep are pretty much the only animals traditionally present in the manger. I should think that if a lion actually did turn up, either the Gospels or the Apocrypha would have mentioned it.

As it happens, my daughter loves lions. In fact, being the kind of kid that she is, I have every expectation that the girl is going to roar lustily during the entire production and may even go so far as to fall upon one of her fellow animals - or possibly even the Infant Jesus - in messy, carnivorous bliss. As Woody Allen once said, the lion and the lamb may lie down together, but the lamb won't get much sleep.

Posted by Robert at 10:39 AM | Comments (1)

Hook 'Em, Horns!

I don't pretend to understand the mysteries of the BCS so I don't have any observations to make on the whys and wherefores, but as a former resident of the state who grew up despising both the Aggies and the Sooners, I'm very glad to see Texas going to the Rose Bowl.

Posted by Robert at 10:03 AM | Comments (3)

This Is Way Cool

The Trebuchet Simulator. Go on over and start hurling.

Yips! to Rocket Jones.

Posted by Robert at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

Random Movie Musings

You want cul-chah? I've got yer cul-chah.

I finally saw Lara Croft - Tomb Raider this weekend on the teevee.

The only impression I came away with was that this film would have made a pretty good soft-core porn flick. In terms of quality of plot, dialogue and the like, it wasn't all that far removed from, say, Emmanuelle in Space. Add a few cheesecake scenes (imagine what they could have done with that bungee contraption) and it would be prime Skinemax-bait.

Posted by Robert at 09:21 AM | Comments (6)


Outstanding news! Our good pal Kathleen the Cake-Eater has been invited to join the Moo-Knewvians!

In the spirit of the season, we're going to simply ignore her ongoing efforts to libel us and say, instead, Welcome Aboard!

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 09:12 AM | Comments (2)

Well This Is A Mixed Blessing....

Remember a while back when I was asking around about satellite broadband service? Well, a new wrinkle has been added to the equation. It turns out that Verizon is going to be laying DSL cable in our neighborhood in the next couple of weeks. That's right - the Butcher's House is going broadband! Woo-Hoo!

But there's bad news too - the line between the transformers out back goes through my fence and lengthwise right down the middle of the back bed of my garden. (Dominion Power was out marking their lines on Saturday - the electricity goes right under the garden path. Verizon will probably dig about three feet over.) This is because the garden actually extends a foot or two past the technical property line. Since we back up on County woods, this usually doesn't matter. But here it means that my power to get Verizon to go around is exactly that of Wile E. Coyote to avoid hitting the canyon floor after he's run off the cliff. Ain't. Gonna. Happen.

After an initial bout of gloom about this prospect, it later occurred to me that things won't be as bad as all that. I don't believe DSL lines are all that big or require that wide a trench. If aimed right, the trench could actually miss a fair proportion of my plants. I suppose I can dig up the others and store them for a few days in mulch or sawdust. And as for the workmen tramping around, well, we've already had a killing frost and everything is either completly dead or just about so anyway, so it really won't matter that much.

So on the whole, this will be a major pain, but nothing fatal. And if it means getting DSL, then I certainly think it will be worth it.

Posted by Robert at 08:31 AM | Comments (3)

December 05, 2004

A Moral Victory That matters

Because, you know, it's all for the kids.....

Okay, I realize we probably aren't going to win the Coveted Bloggy as Best Culture Blog----Sondra K (sorry, no links for the enemy!) and Michele are way out ahead.

Yet, we are hanging in at a steady fourth, and here's the clincher: we're ahead of Gawker. Gawker? You only need to know one thing about Gawker: it's the evil mother blog that spawned Wankette onto the world.

So a vote for the LLamas as Best Culture Blog is a vote against Wonkette and all things skankorifically nasty of the Gawkette-Industrial Complex that Eisenhower so eloquently warned us about.

Vote for the LLamas, otherwise the wonkettorrists win!

Posted by Steve at 06:24 PM | Comments (3)

December 04, 2004

Yeah, what she said.

Margi has a follow up to Robbo's rant earlier in the week on the childproofed generation.

I would stand up to cheer, but I can't find my walker. Rotten kids....why I oughta..hack hack hack

Posted by Steve at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

The Dead Pool is reopening

Laurence Simon is opening up contestants for the 2005 Dead Pool.

So far I've got Vaclev Havel, Jerry Ford, Don Knotts, Brian Bosworth and Boz Skaggs on my list.

Posted by Steve at 10:19 AM | Comments (5)

In case, like, you have a job or life or something

That's why we have Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities keeping us updated on the goings on at General Hospital.

Posted by Steve at 10:03 AM | Comments (2)

December 03, 2004

You know, Al hasn't blown a gasket in public lately...

What's funny about THIS is that the first 2000 election case was held on the first friday in December, which was much colder than today. And isn't about a year since he firmly ensconsed himself as the Senior Statesman of the Democratic Party by endorsing Al Gore?

Posted by Steve at 11:17 PM | Comments (1)

Insert evil cackling laugh here

The Steve the LLamabutcher Sims character, a devotee of the Lama Tyler Durdeen's branch of in your face Buddhism, reeks havoc in Pixy Misa's neighborhood.

I remember the huge fracas created a couple of years ago when the uncleaned hamster cage spread disease and killed Sims. Wouldn't it be funny if you unknowingly put up a wall skin that had a picture/poster of Che on it, and it turned your Sim into a Moonbat anarchist bent on destroying the hard drive of The Man (ie the game user)? That would be cool.

Or maybe I just need a life.

Posted by Steve at 11:09 PM | Comments (1)


Our old pal Lawren is famous!

Posted by Steve at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

The Llamas present the really new math

Our new pal Key pontificates on the exact scientific formula to determine, um, sexual frustration.

We had a variant on this in college known as the "Boot-Waffle Graph." Basically, the evil genius who thought this up (who was then an English major, but now is a Major in the Army, and is a surgeon with one of the airborne divisions I think) posited a relationship between two data sets:

Boots: Number of times vomitted from drinking in the past 3 months


Waffles: Number of times having (non-relationship) sex in previous 3 months

He developed this perverse graphing system: Waffles were on the Y-axis (going up on the chart), Boots were one the X-axis. He then did a regression analysis on our whole team to determine our overall "slope," and anything below 45 degrees was, well, bad.

Needless to say, he was (and is) a sick bastard and, of course, there was a fair amount of what political scientists refer to as "preference falsification" concerning the N of waffles (ie we lied like a pack of rabid badgers). (Not, unfortunately, for the N of boots, as there was often picture evidence).

Hey, Reagan was president and we were all going to die in a nuclear war, right? I mean, that's what the erudite and popular public intellectual Phil Donahue was saying at our graduation and all.

And DanielWCaseyblog wants to know why I don't let my students know about the blog......

Posted by Steve at 10:56 PM | Comments (1)

I'm having a Kevin Bacon moment. Or maybe a Francis or the other

Like, whoa, man, 6 degrees of link whoredom. Or......event horizon!

Posted by Steve at 10:43 PM | Comments (1)

Well, That sucks

I'd like not to believe this, but he IS The Brain and all.....

Posted by Steve at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

Advantage: Llamabutchers!

Here's what your (ahem) humble LLamas wrote last June 17th:

It's time to stop namby-pambying around

I've thought for awhile now that the best way to throw a serious monkey-wrench into AQ and all its little lackeys would be to skip the "What would Bugs Bunny do?" stuff that Omniscient Glenn has been promoting and go straight to to "What would Tyler Durden do?" (i.e. the infamous and legendary Brad Pitt character from Fight Club)

And the answer is simple: hack al-Jazeera's signal, and occasionally start slipping in poorly-done subliminal messages that support Israel and make fun of Islam and Allah. Result: tee-vees across the Middle East shot out like so many dead screenless Emerson Electrics stacked like cordwood behind Graceland during Mardi Gras week.

Then, hack a popular pro-AQ website (or even better, invest six months or so into creating a fake AQ supporter fan site that people think are real) and then slowly start releasing the rumor that al-Jazeera is actually run by Mossad and is pumping propaganda into the Middle East. Result: truck bomb takes out al-Jazeera, or as we say two birds, one truck.

Then, start stuff about how cell phones are being sold by Israeli companies in the Middle East that sterilize and shrivel up the naughty bits of Arab men, etc. Result: fanned paranoia in a way that destabilizes networks etc. It's basic Sun-Tsu: exploit the weaknesses of your opponents. They try to exploit our love of life by suicide bombing--it's high time we began to exploit their sexism, racism, tribalism, and fear of technology, let alone the asinine all-encompassing anti-Semitism.

Then, start a rumor that Michael Moore is a pinata filled with signed, original editions of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Result: as they say in tee-vee guide, "Hilarity results...." Ah, to be the guy owning the broom-stick concession on that glorious day!

Of course, you can't take the "WWTDD?" meme too far, as it would inevitably lead to flying a cargo 747 loaded to the gills with baco-bits over Mecca, not bothering to explain that baco-bits actually contain no pork products...

Almost six months later, THIS shows up in the Tehran Times:

Al-Jazeera’s Psyops

By Hassan Hanizadeh
The Al-Jazeera network’s recent insult of the Iranian nation was totally unacceptable.

The Arabic network, which broadcasts its programs from the little Arab country Qatar, has recently posted an insulting cartoon about the Islamic Republic of Iran on its English site.

In the cartoon, a cleric, who is the symbol of the Islamic Republic of Iran, indifferently passes by various scenes of the current problems in the Islamic world, but reacts strongly when he sees that the name of the Persian Gulf has been changed to the unacceptable “Arab Gulf”.

Iranian officials made a prompt denunciation of this very amateurish and dishonorable measure, which has its roots in Al-Jazeera officials’ animosity toward Iranians.

The Al-Jazeera network was founded in 1997, ostensibly to create a new movement in the static media of the Arab world, which are mostly government controlled, and was initially welcomed.

Many media experts believed that the new network would create a revolution in the field of information dissemination, particularly in the Arab states on the Persian Gulf.

However, at the same time, rumors arose suggesting that the network was established by U.S. and Israeli agents in order to present a bad image of Islam to the world.

Some regional experts expressed doubts about the allegations though, because the establishment of a media outlet with the aim of promptly informing Arab nations about the latest world news seemed to be a good idea.

But the actions of the network gradually revealed the fact that Al-Jazeera officials, on the orders of Zionist agents, are trying to divide Islamic countries and tarnish the image of Islam.

After Al-Jazeera broadcasted some distorted news reports about Saudi Arabia, tension rose between that country and Qatar, and the two Arab states almost cut off diplomatic relations.

Yet, instead of adopting a defensive stance toward the negative propaganda of the network, Saudi Arabia took an innovative measure and established the Al-Arabiyya network to confront Al-Jazeera.

At the beginning of the U.S. attack on Afghanistan, Al-Jazeera became the tribune of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups in order to give the world the impression that those terrorists represented real Islam.

In addition, since the occupation of Iraq began, ethnic tension has risen and there have been clashes between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias, partly due to the efforts of Al-Jazeera.

By broadcasting abhorrent scenes of the beheadings of foreign hostages by the criminal agents of the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi terrorist group, the network succeeded in increasing anti-Muslim sentiment throughout the world, particularly in the West.

Following the advice of U.S. and Israeli experts in psychological operations (psyops), Al-Jazeera took actions which gave Westerners a negative image of Islam and Muslims.

In fact, the Al-Jazeera network was founded at exactly the same time when Iranian President Mohammad Khatami introduced his Dialogue Among Civilizations initiative as a logical strategy to bring the West and the Islamic world closer together.

Of course, the Zionists were not pleased at the idea because they believe that increased proximity between the Islamic world and the West is not in their interests. And that is why they founded the Al-Jazeera network to tarnish the image of true Islam.

Now, after seven years, it has become apparent that the real strategy of the network has been to create divisions between Islamic countries, to give the impression that Islam is a threat to the West, to present a negative image of the real Islam to the world, to isolate Muslims residing in the United States and other Western countries, and to create sectarian divisions between Shias and Sunnis in the Middle East.

Your LLamabutchers: Relentlessly screwing with the minds of the Jihadi-bungwads, since November 2003. And yes, that is our PayPal button over on the right...(hint hint hint)

And yes, we have Rusty on the problem of how many baco-bits it would take to fill a 747 cargo hauler....

Posted by Steve at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

Gas weasels amok!

Powerline crystalizes something that's been bouncing around my fecund mind the past two times I've gassed up.

Too bad for the Saudis if they were getting their analysis on the election's outcome from their sources high in the CIA...

Posted by Steve at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

Save Our Field Coats!

Mr. Outer Life has a piece up today about the dangerous combination of comfortable old clothes and officious spouses. While this caught my eye in part because of the disappearance of several old pairs of topsiders of mine, what really got my attention was the tribute to old field coats.

I have an old Burberry field jacket that I bought in London in 1987. The waterproofing stuff on the outside of it has long since vanished and the jacket itself has faded considerably from an original dark Loden green to a kind of army-drab olive. (You can only see the original shade of green if you peek under the folded-back sleeve ends or into the pockets. The seams on the underside of both sleeves are starting to unravel. It is permanently stained in several places with mud, blood and other materials associated with 17 years of yardwork, hunting, gardening and other outdoor activities. It is creased and scratched and generally very scruffy. It is also the most comfortable coat in the world.

But here's the shocker - I went to the Burberry website to try and find a photo of one with which to illustrate this post, and apparently they don't even make the things anymore! When on earth did that happen? I mean, these Burberry jackets were an institution! Combined with a pair of wellies, and a big, comfy wool sweater, this was the official outdoor pottering uniform of Anglophiles everywhere! And now? Poof, apparently. I'll bet Tony Blair is to blame somehow.

Message to the Butcher's Wife: Do not, do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, think of chucking my jacket!

UPDATE: Maybe not Tony Blair, but one Rose Marie Bravo. "She turned a dowdy and dormant raincoat company into a worldwide fad." Damn her!

Posted by Robert at 04:10 PM | Comments (6)


The Derb at his best reviewing Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons.

Posted by Robert at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

The Tax-Man Cometh

I agree with Ace on this one: who can feel the pledge drive coming over the horizon driven by "unexpected bandwidth charges"? It's about as inevitable (and obvious) as that scene in The Right Stuff, when Yeager is walking through the shimmering mirage waves of the heat across the desert salt flats away from the flaming wreckage of the test plane/rocket he flew out of the atmosphere, except this time he's in heels and something purple-ee chiffon.

Sigh....poor Axis Sully.

Posted by Steve at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

Extremely Shameless Vote Whoring

Michele seems to have washed her hands of the whole 2004 Weblog Awards thing.

We salute her principled stance on this. Certainly, there are some very valid arguments to be made about both the mechanics and the spirit of the polling and we can completely understand why she might feel that further participation is not warranted.

Given that, if you were going to vote for ASV, why not transfer your allegiance to us? We have no principles!

Yip! Yip! Yip! (Or is that Orgle! Orgle! Orgle!)

YIPS from Steve: Pillar of the snobosphere and scion of the virtuecrats INDCent Bill takes us to task for being shameless vote whores. Well, lookie lookie here, it seems that someone appreciates that quality in a blog!

Posted by Robert at 02:15 PM | Comments (3)

When A "Yip!" Isn't Enough To Say "I Love You"

Gordon apparently has been peeping into the Llama Bedroom and outs our secret fetish: Orgling.

Which made me begin to wonder what the love call of a Cranky Neocon might be:

WOLFowitz! WOLFowitz! WOLFowitz!

Posted by Robert at 11:36 AM | Comments (3)

Bombing For Credit

I frequently make fun of my old collegiate stomping ground, the Glorious Workers' Soviet of Middletown, CT, as a bastion of all that is farcical or appalling in modern "elite" academics.

Well now my brother's school, Hamilton College, has gone Dear Old Wes one better by hiring a former terrorist to its faculty. Roger Kimball has the details on one Susan Rosenberg, a former member of the Weather Underground, who is going to teach a course called "Resistance Memoirs: Writing, Identity and Change." And you know where that always leads: That's right - FREE MUMIA:

"Their message so clear / Do not be Black / Do not be radical / Do not be a political prisoner / There is still time to / SHAKE IT LOOSE."

Apparently, the Hamilton Administration is pretty embarrassed that word of this has leaked out. So they should be. The word for the idea of bringing Ms. Rosenberg in is "disgusting". Perhaps she should be persuaded to blow the joint - I mean - just leave.

Yips! to Stefan Beck at Armavirumque.

YIPS from Steve: Comrade! Consider your defilement of the praxis state of the glorious worker's paradise reported! Cur! Fiend! Lackey! You who put the "Lump" in lumpenproletariat.

Posted by Robert at 11:24 AM | Comments (1)

Another Useless Quiz

And extremely suspicious results this time, too:

What a marvelous person! You are the splendid
Christmas tree! You are a spirited person who
almost always in a great mood. Your smiles and
laughter are some things that people usually
look forward to in you. You are someone who is
full of energy and ready for a good time. Most
likely you are a social butterfly. All of these
characteristics make you a beautiful person
inside and out. People just really enjoy to be
around you. Merry Christmas =)

What Christmas Figure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Yips! to the Impenetrable One.

Posted by Robert at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)

The Mauritius Campaign


Today is the anniversary of the French surrender of Mauritius to the British in 1810. This little-known Royal Navy campaign is the subject of one of my favorite of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series, The Mauritius Command. In it, Aubrey takes the place of Commodore Josias Rowley, the man who actually led the British squadron. However, as you can see from this excellent summary, O'Brian was very faithful to the actual facts of the various battles, including his descriptions of the successful British capture of St. Paul on the Island of Reunion, as well as the disastrous Royal Navy attempt on Grand Port on the Mauritius.

Posted by Robert at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

Llamas Go To The Bloggies

As I'm sure you all know by now, voting is currently taking place for the 2004 Weblog Awards. What you may not have realized is that you can vote multiple times - once a day in each poll, to be exact. The voting closes December 12, so make sure and nip over there early and often.

Yesterday I promised to put up my list of picks. Apparently owing to the machinations of Scrappy the Wizbang Marmoset, your humble Llamas are in the running for Best Culture Blog, so of course I'm supporting us. As one gob-smacked observer noted, there is something fundamentally wrong with a system that lets the Llamas into this race but keeps out the likes of About Last Night, for example. True, but the idea that I've smoked Terry Teachout in the Culture-Vulture category fills me with endless mirth.

Of course, we're up against Michele Catalano's A Small Victory, which means we're likely to get our woolly backsides handed to us on a platter. But consider - Michele is a Yankees Fan. Also, I hear her collection of 500 greatest songs is top-heavy with Weird Al Yankovich tracks. I'm just sayin'.

Anyhoo, there are lots of other categories in which to vote. Here are the ones in which I have any interest and my picks for them. Since you can vote more than once, I offer multiple picks in some categories. (Special Llama Yips! Please pay special attention to the categories farther down the list. These are the races where your vote can really make a difference and we Llamas would like to do what we can to help out our friends. Yip! Yip! Yip!):

Best Overall Blog - The Corner and Wizbang. A lot of these other guys are great, but tend to be narrower in their scope. As for Glenn, well, isn't it time this guy didn't win something?

Best New Blog - INDC Bill, although I'm sure he'll find some way to moan and bitch about our endorsement. Dr. Rusty, of course. Also Jane's Armies of Liberation.

Best Group Blog - Blogs for Bush. To the victor go the spoils.

Best Humor Blog - The two Jeffs of Beautiful Atrocities and Protein Wisdom. Cattiness and insanity.

Best Liberal Blog - Meh.

Best Conservative Blog - Vote for libertarian Stephen Green just to tease.

Best Election Coverage - Kerry Spot and Real Clear Politics were indispensable.

Best Media/Journalist Blog - Taranto's Best of the Web and Michelle Malkin. Most of the others aren't true bloggers.

Best Military Blog - Veeeery tough. Froggy Ruminations, Smash and Blackfive are at the top of my list, but all of them are extremely worthy.

Best Online Community - All Hail Reverend Pixy! MOOOOOOOO-KNEEEEEEEW!!!!!!

Best Blog Design - Little Miss Attila. Classy n' sassy.

Best Essayist - Lileks, Steve Den Beste and Bill Whittle. When if I grow up, I'd like to write like these guys.

Best U.K. Blog - Tim Worstall. A long-time friend to the Llamas and a solid Tory.

Now, by the numbers:

Best of the Top 100 - Ace and the Commissar. Allah would have made it, but he ain't in the House.

Top 150-200 - I've always been a fan of Pejman.

Top 250-500 - Eric the Viking Pundit.

Top 500-1000 - Froggy and the Brain. (Sounds like some weirdo retro cop show.)

Top 1000-1750 - The Cranky Neocon. Gordon is one of the best.

Top 1750-2500 - Joe R. the Unabrewer. One of our most enthusiastic commenters.

Top 2500-3500 - Nichole's Potomac Ponderings. She's coming up fast in the 'sphere. Get to know her now before she usurps the Puppy Blender's throne.

Top 3500-5000 - Don's Mixolydian Mode and Francis' Geek Empire, both of which places I stop in every day.

Top 5000-6750 - Grandma's House. Grandma Deece has been hanging around the Butcher's Shop for a very long time and holds the current record for most preposterous middle of the night comment posting. When do you sleep?

Top 6750+ - The Bitch Girls. This was actually one of the first blogs I started reading on a regular basis. Catchy name and baaaad attitude.

Well, there you have it. You know what to do.

Posted by Robert at 08:58 AM | Comments (8)

December 02, 2004

The Iraqi color coded system

This just made Baby Jeebus cry.

Oh, and Sadie? The injustice has been corrected. Let it rip, girl!

Yips! from Robbo: Oh, Stephen. More conclusive evidence that you never read my posts. Sniff. Double blogroll entry has been corrected.

YIPS from Steve: Now, now Robbo...I saw you had linked it, but thought you were giving emphasis to the part where Sadie was mocking us for being a couple of jackanapes. That, plus double the linkage=double the fun.

(insert mopey voice) sorrrrrrry.

Posted by Steve at 11:52 PM | Comments (2)

We're the LLamabutchers and we do culture: high, low, pop, and throat

Wednesday, of course, is poetry day over at Annika's.

This week: in honor of the impending anniversary of the death of Sylvia Plath and the continuing asshattery that is/was/ever shall be Ted Hughes, Annika gives us this gem worthy of Messers Bon and Jovi.

Posted by Steve at 11:44 PM | Comments (1)

I'm Steve the LLamabutcher, and I need your help!

Since Ramahanukwanzmas is right around the corner, I'm debating what to get the beloved dear one for her present. This year, I want to do something a little different, and the idea that I'm kicking around is getting her an Apple laptop. We have two machines at home: an aging desktop Dell in the basement kingdom of solitude, and the laptop Dell that comes home from work (that I'm banging my hooves on as we speak). The beloved dear one is starting her own business this year (she's hanging out her shingle as a book indexer), and it would make sense for her to have a machine that she could be able to use around the house and beyond.

What I'm leaning towards is one of these puppies:


Anyone have any thoughts one way or another?

Yeah, yeah, I realize after opening up the Velma versus Daphne fight earlier this evening (and did I happen to mention I really really prefer the LOTR movies to the books?) I'm pulling the lanyard on the Apple versus the everybody else kampf.

Thanks in advance!

Posted by Steve at 11:36 PM | Comments (7)

Sending out the Yips

Stephen at Hold the Mayo is buried under the end of the semester crush: personally, I'm doing my best to address this by blogging instead of grading.

Posted by Steve at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)


We had an earthquake tonight---2.2 on the Richter scale they are reporting on the nooz.

Posted by Steve at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

Merry Whatever

And a Happy Ramahanukwanzmas.

Posted by Steve at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

Cue Queen's "We are the Champions"

Yesterday I was goading INDCent Bill pretty damn hard, hoping, trying, (daring, dammit!) to get him his Mojo back.

Well guess what?

Let's just say it's the words a desparate nation has been waiting many long months to hear: The Return of Moonbat Science Theatre.

Posted by Steve at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

Oh no, now you've gone and done it!

Rocket Jones has reignited the long running debate that has vexed the greatest minds in Western Civilization, from the Academy of Athens, through the Algonquin Roundtable, to sylvan groves of Harvard Yard:

Velma, or Daphne

(The correct answer is, of course, Velma)

Posted by Steve at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)

Holy Crap!

And by that I do mean Holy Crap!

(Flick of the cig to Ace)

Posted by Steve at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

A man with a dream

Ace of Spades gives the best reason why to vote in the Best of the Blogs competition.

Posted by Steve at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

Is it too late to find ""?

Blogging officially jumps the shark.

Posted by Steve at 08:55 PM | Comments (1)

Holy Cow!

That fish Rusty caught the other day done got up and ate all his meds. That's the only way to really explain THIS.

Rusty, dude, what are you: out of your Linguistics loving mind? What made you use such Syntax? What could have been your Philosophy of Science for this? Don't you realize you are going to be sMITed for this!

Posted by Steve at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)

Channelling Cartoon Jingles

Jonah is quoting The Transformers Song over at the Corner.

I've got lots of such old flotsam and jetsam from my youth stowed away in my shaggy brain, of course, but there are also many more current themes floating around, thanks to the kiddies. The one that seems to have pride of place at the moment is the the "Great Big Book of Everything" song from Stanley (with all the trimmings, of course):








The Llama-ettes skirmish over who gets to be the cat and who gets to be the dog whilst singing (and consequently, who gets to hit the high note at the end). My job generally is to be Dennis the Fish and to clap my hands over my ears in exasperation when they sing along. After a while, this gets pretty easy.

Posted by Robert at 04:27 PM | Comments (1)

We Got Yer Cul-Chah Right Here, Pal!

The Wizbang 2004 Weblog Award polls are up. Somehow, we Llamas made the cut in the competition for Best Culture Blog.


If you're so inclined, we'd love it if you voted for us. Vote early and often. Not because we think we deserve it, but because we think we don't and it would be hy-larious if we won.

Think of it - The Llama as Arbiter Elegantiarum of the Blogsphere.


UPDATE: Thanks to that bitch Bill for giving us the luv. But passion and betrayal? Were we the ones who had to take time away from the relationship in order explore the, ahem, "chinchilla option"? Hmmm? I think not.

(We'll post our own lists of endorsements shortly.)

Posted by Robert at 02:24 PM | Comments (1)

Dasvedanya, Llama-ettes!

Our good pal JohnL at TexasBestGrok has discovered the perfect alternative to the upcoming Llama frog march to Disney: Stalin World!

Says the proprietor of the place, one Viliumas Malinauskas, “It combines the charms of a Disneyland with the worst of the Soviet gulag prison camp.”

That'd be a neat trick, since the only major difference I see betwen the two is that in the gulag, the guards shoot you if you smile, while at Disney, they shoot you if you don't.

Message to the Butcher's Wife: Honey, call Aeroflot!

UPDATE: Brian B of Memento Moron, a blog you should be reading every day if you don't already, had these questions after my last outburst on this subject:

Hypothetical question for ya:

Assume for a moment that you get there and actually enjoy all/some of the experience.

1) Do you 'Fess up?

2) How many ways will your missus think of to serve you crow?

Short answers are:

1) Not in a zillion years. Not under sodium pentathol, not under threat of the Comfy Chair. No. Possible. Way.

2) Their name is Legion.

Posted by Robert at 01:23 PM | Comments (3)

Dayum, Bay-Bee!

Sadie pulls an Irish Lili Von Shtupp on Llamas Bart and Jim.

Bone duly handed.

Posted by Robert at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

Hello, Barrel of Fish? This Is Shotgun.

The superb VDH reviews Alexander the Great. Heh, freakin', indeed.

Yips! to the Maximum Leader.

Posted by Robert at 11:13 AM | Comments (1)

Stealth Blogging

(Me in the Butcher's Shop)

As a result of security concerns, Daniel W. Casey's blog is going underground, following in the footsteps of Rachel Lucas and others.

I have a somewhat different way of making myself invisible to would-be antagonists and cranks, what might be called the Eric Idle-Walters Effect:

Walters: (slowly and boringly) Well, for a start, at the office where I work I can be sitting at my desk all day and the others totally ignore me. At home, even though we are in the same room, my wife does not speak to me for hours, people pass me by in the street without a glance in my direction, and I can walk into a room without...

And so on and so forth....See? Judging by the Mack-Rusty-Whatever Viewing Index, almost completely invisible!

Posted by Robert at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

Read This Or Your Child Will Die - Update

I was ranting the other day about the culture of fear, child-rearing division. Well, Margi Lowry has unearthed an oldy-but-goody email meme on the subject that made me laugh again, as did her own commentary. (I believe we did have Clackers at some point. And my siblings and I still have an even number of eyes among us.)

Posted by Robert at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)


This is your computer. This is your computer on drugs.

Toked Yips! to Dean.

Posted by Robert at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

Here's For Boney!

On this day in 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of France. Apparently, the French are making a big brou-ha-ha over this 200th Anniversary of their former Day of Glory.

What better tribute from us Llamas than a salute to three of the men, all of whom I admire ardently, who were instrumental in eventually bringing the Corsican Tyrant to his knees?


Lord Nelson


William Pitt the Younger


The Duke of Wellington

(Message to our French friends: HA-ha!)

Say it with me, people: FRANCE IS NOT OUR ALLY!

Posted by Robert at 09:35 AM | Comments (3)

I Come Not To Bury Dan, But To Praise Him.

The Divine Peggy Noonan (mmmmm......Peggy) has a piece today on the rise and fall of Dan Rather that actually makes me feel sorry for the guy.

I completely believe Peggy's opinion that Rather is and always has been a decent man. But for all that, I also believe her assessment that, ultimately, Rather has been something of a victim of groupthink. That is where the pity starts to come in. I begin to think of him as a dutiful officer aboard the MSM Dreadnought who, along with most of the other officers and crew, has failed to grasp the fact that squadrons of aircraft carrier-borne attack planes have rendered his ship obsolete for its traditional mission. To this day, I think he still hasn't figured out where the torpedoes that blew him into the water came from or that they were more than just a lucky shot.

I also think there are many, many crewmen still aboard that think all they need to do to survive is add a little more armor plating and train their 18 inch guns more effectively.

Posted by Robert at 09:14 AM | Comments (4)

"What's In Your Phizizzle?"

(This is what I get for eating dinner in front of the tee-vee waaaay too late last night and going to bed immediately afterwards)

I'm sure you've seen the latest T-Mobile commercial where "Snoop Dog" is purportedly trying to figure out how to do his laundry and IM's around to Hollywood's dregs for advice? We hates it. It is so utterly, completely wrong on so many levels. "Snoop" is one of the single most loathsome figures to worm his way into the popular culture in years. Also, I dunno which particular blonde skank d'jour that is - if it isn't Paris, maybe it's Britney - but all I can say is that she and "Snoop" deserve each other. And Burt ought to be ashamed of himself.

On the other hand, I'm also sure you've seen those Capital One commercials where the Viking horde invades the mall, football stadium, etc., for a little pillage and mayhem? We loves those, yes we does.

Well last night, I had a very strange dream combining the two. With a most satisfying outcome. Suffice to say, "Snoop" didn't get his Capital One Card out in time......

UPDATE: What? It's "Dogg"? "Dawg"? How the hell should I know.....

Posted by Robert at 08:36 AM | Comments (2)

December 01, 2004

Frazier Crane, Maybe

But Felix Ungar?

Posted by Robert at 06:16 PM | Comments (3)

"Ho, Ho, Ho, My Preciousssssss..."

Nothing captures the spirit of the holiday season better than a meticulously-crafted, life-size, battery-operated embodiment of pure evil, doncha think? Ith at Absinthe & Cookies has found just the thing!

I'm pretty sure that if Tolkien were still alive, this would kill him.

Posted by Robert at 06:00 PM | Comments (3)

What can I say---we're efficient! Yeah, That's the ticket!

Umm, I guess this is good. Or maybe, it's not. I'm too brain dead to tell.

Posted by Steve at 05:25 PM | Comments (1)

Donnie and Marie discover the praxis of dialectic

Commie Country music.

I kid you not.

Posted by Steve at 05:21 PM | Comments (1)

If it's good enough for Rae...

it's good enough for me.

Posted by Steve at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

They're learning

Apparently, the actions taken by the 1st Armored Division to fire crates of Chris Matthews' Hardball and Plunkitt of Tamany Hall out of large artillery pieces in Iraq is beginning to bear fruit.

Now, if we can only get something out of the investment from the 5th Strategic Air Wing which dropped all those tons of Hickory Farms Holiday Cheez Log Samplers on Paris last week.....

Posted by Steve at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

Is Paris Burning?

Um, indeed.

(And yes, that's 5 cents to the prince of darkness himself!)

Posted by Steve at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

Click and Clack This!

After many years of thoroughly enjoying it, I stopped listening to NPR's Car Talk when Tom and Ray started on their long-haired hippy crap diatribe against SUV's.

Well screw those guys! Chad the Pirate King has been car shopping and has a hy-larious roundup of on-line car forum comments. All the auto-related funny you need.

Posted by Robert at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

"Look, You Stupid Bastard, You've Got No Arms Left!"

Ladies and Gentlemen, in the New To Me Department, I give you the Spear Shaker.

Anybody who can equate the disintegrating Mainstream Media with Monty Python's Black Knight and then stage a Bill Maher vs. Dennis Miller Snarky Comic Smackdown is okay in my book.

Posted by Robert at 04:14 PM | Comments (1)



This photo, of something the Germans apparently call a Schalldaempfer, was picked up by Donald Sensing and noticed by Shape of Days and Jimmie at the Sundries Shack.

There seems to be some debate in the various comments about what it is, assuming the pic to be legitimate. The current theories are either that it's some kind of giant silencer or else that it's used for measuring firing characteristics.

Whatever it is, I abso-mo-lutely refuse to use it as the basis of any kind of joke about getting Axis Sully re-enthusiastic about Neo-Con gunboat diplomacy. Absolutely. Refuse. No such jokes here. Nope. Nothing to see. Move along.

YIPS from Steve: Unless this has something to do with Army's preparations for getting whupped by Navy saturday....

Posted by Robert at 01:33 PM | Comments (10)

Well that's a relief

Risawn breaks radio silence from a Kinkos next to her top secret hotel location.

You know, when he wakes and bolts upright, drenched in sweat from a horrible nightmare, Zaraqwi , and screams out to the goat sleeping peacefully next to him "RISSSSAAAAAAWN!" he probably has no idea why.

But we know, oh how we know. For she is his sorry scrawny jihadi-ass punk's worst nightmare: to paraphrase Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours, she's a white Amerikan woman with a gun. A beeeeeeeeeg gun.

Posted by Steve at 01:24 PM | Comments (1)

The sawx DVD is out today

So don't expect to hear nuttin from the Silver Fox until he comes up for air in about, oh, say two weeks.

Posted by Steve at 01:18 PM | Comments (1)

Bill's got his mojo back!

Yesterday morning, a testy INDCent Bill blogged "I got nothing. Go read Instapundit or something, you medlling mutts! Get the hell off my yard!"

Okay, so I made up the "go read Instapundit" part.

It made Baby Jeebus cry just thinking of it: what happened to this guy? Were we witnessing the tail end scene of some bizarre blogger remake of Valley of the Dolls, with Bill in the Patty Duke/Neely O'Hara role, where drunk with linkety fame, our silk pajama-clad anti-hero overdoses on Yoo-Hoo and 7-11 burritos, in the face of the meaningless of it all, with the last words "Damn you, LLamas! SEE YOU IN HELL!"

24 hours later, and he's back, bay-beee! And bitchier than ever!

Which is a relief, because I was at the point where I was going to have to go out and scare up a moonbat rally to take place right in front of his office to get the blood flowing again. And how would one do that? You know, the usual: leave a trail of pesto tofu, set off some patchouli stink bombs, put up some Tupak as Che posters---all the stuff that attracts the mating lunaris bongobangeritis. And if that didn't work....well, I was going to go out and paste some "International ANSWER Rally Against Evil in front of Bill's office: And did you know that INDC Journal is produced entirely by Guatemelan peasants grinding up endangered rainforest parrots, while being forced fed Hardees food served in styrofoam containers! And that Bill's real last name is "HALLIBURTON"???" posters up all around Adams-Morgan and Dupont.

And why would I do this? Because damn it man, we need him in the fight! Because if Bill (and Rusty for that matter) slacks off, it means the terrorists (and the moonbats) have won!

Posted by Steve at 01:09 PM | Comments (1)

Bach's Bite

A.C. Douglas has good thoughts on the pitfalls of playing Bach, particularly the Goldberg Variations, on the piano.

Posted by Robert at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

He lost to.....Liza Minnelli?

The streak is over: Ken has been defeated!

And there was much rejoicing in the land.

Radioblogger has a great idea, though: dump that smug Canuck Trebek and replace him with Jennings.

UPDATE: D'Oh! Fixed the name.

Posted by Steve at 10:29 AM | Comments (1)

The moral voice of Hollywood is....

Pat Sajak?

Posted by Steve at 10:21 AM | Comments (1)

Do you have what it takes to be a llamabutcher?

Do you?

Your assignment then is to appropriately photoshop this picture.

Let's see some creativity, folks!

Posted by Steve at 10:16 AM | Comments (2)

Mother of God, It's More Milton Blogging

Mixolydian Don, in jumping on the Hugh Hewitt Modern-Novels-I-Have-Read-More-Than-Once meme, lists Terry Pratchett's The Light Fantastic.

This caught my eye not because I've read the book (I haven't), but because "tripping the light fantastic" is one of those expressions which I've always found particularly aggravating. People, there is no such thing as a "light fantastic" and you cannot "trip" it no matter how hard you try.

In fact, the original was "light fantastic toe" and comes from Milton's L'Allegro:

"Come, and trip it as ye go,
on the light, fantastic toe"

In other words, let's dance.

Somewhere or other, I recall once reading that the Bible is the single greatest source of quotations in the English language. I also read that John Milton's poetry is perhaps the second greatest.

But let's keep the quotes straight. Let this sort of thing slide and the next thing you know you'll need Captain Kirk to explain your own writings to you like he did for the Yangs and the Coms.

Meanwhile, go read Milton's poem for the pure pleasure of the man's work.

Posted by Robert at 09:18 AM | Comments (4)

Vulcan Babe Watch

JohnL has a new Sci-Fi Babe Poll up over at TexasBestGrok. This week, it's an all-Vulcan trio. I'd have been intrigued if he had included Kim Cattrall's Lt. Valeris, just to see what kind of skank tail that would have generated.

As usual, vote early and often and be sure to check out John's Gallery of Winners from previous weeks.

Posted by Robert at 08:33 AM | Comments (7)

Random Commuter Thoughts - Part II

I had a very nice standard-sized Jos. Banks umbrella that got destroyed a few months back when the remains of one of this year's hurricanes blew through town. I haven't yet got around to replacing it.

Instead, I've been using one of those small "commuter" umbrellas. On a day like today, when it's both rainy and windy, an umbrella like this strikes me not so much as a means of protection, but as a form of protest and a feeble one at that.

Posted by Robert at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)

Random Commuter Thoughts - Part I

Between the car radio, the coffee shop and CVS this morning, I heard three different covers of "Frosty the Snowman." I hate "Frosty the Snowman."

When I become Emperor of the World, one of the first items on my agenda is going to be a reform of Christmas music. Frosty'll be one of the first against the wall.

UPDATE: In the comments, INDCent Bill tasks me. He tasks me. So be it:

"Frosty the Snowman" - BLAM!
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - BLAM!
"Jingle Bells" - BLAM!
"The Twelve Days of Christmas" - BLAM!
"I Wonder As I Wander" - BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!.....BLAM!
"White Christmas" sung by anyone other than Bing - BLAM!
"It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas" - BLAM!
"A Chipmunk Christmas" - BUDDABUDDABUDDABUDDA.....
"Here Comes Santa Claus" - BLAM!
Cher singing "O Holy Night" - BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
All Holiday Medleys - BLAM!

and just to be inclusive, "The Dreidel Song" (Second verse? Same as the first!) - BLAM!

UPDATE DEUX: The Misspent One links with his list of five favorite Christmas carols just by way of yinging my yang or yanging my ying or sumpfin. As a matter of fact, these are amongst my favorites as well. But I was saving that shoe to drop in another post.

Posted by Robert at 07:59 AM | Comments (7)

A scary thought

Sometimes, I lie awake at night worried with an existensial conundrum: are we all just characters in a giant Moo Knew Sims neighborhood running on Reverend Pixy's jerry-rigged computer? And, if so, does he have adequate surge protection? What about spill-guards?

I mean, it would explain a lot around here....

Posted by Steve at 12:27 AM | Comments (3)
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