January 31, 2005

This Warms My Royalist Heart

The Irish Elk reports that this evening a Mass will be held at Boston's Church of the Advent in honor of the Feast of King Charles the Martyr, executed murdered at the hands of Parliament on January 30, 1642.

(Mmmmm.....Oxford Movement Anglo-Catholicism.....mmmmmmmm.....Just flipping around the Church's website had me drooling. We're talking serious smells n' bells here.)

Our antlered friend also posts a hymn to Charles that, somehow or other, I doubt I could convince my own Rector to let us sing. Ah, well.

Posted by Robert at 04:48 PM | Comments (3)

Iraqi Elections Prayer Message Update

In case you were wondering, Snopes has confirmed that the prayer request I posted last week from Capt. Lyle Shackelford, a chaplain with the 57th Transportation Battalion assigned to assist in the Iraqi elections, was legitimate.

Apparently it worked, too.

Posted by Robert at 04:33 PM | Comments (2)

More Llama Literary Criticism

Having polished off both Livy and Tom Wolfe during my recent enforced idleness, I've now plunged into Robert McCrum's new biography of P.G. Wodehouse.

So far, it is quite illuminating. But I've come across something that either is rather odd or else simply exposes my ignorance of such things. There are legions of end-notes at the back of the book but they aren't marked in the text itself. So when you come across a particular factual assertion or quotation for which you'd like the source, you have to flip to the back not knowing whether you're going to be satisfied or not.

Is this standard practice? I don't often pay that much attention to end-notes, but since Plum Wodehouse is such a favorite of mine I'm naturally taking more of an interest here.

Posted by Robert at 02:45 PM | Comments (2)

Blowing Your Top

Go here for a little experiment in building your own volcano. It's part of the promotional website tied into the Discovery Channel's airing of Pompeii: The Last Day last night. After the barrage of hype (there have been posters up in Dee Cee's Metro system for a couple of months), I broke down and decided to watch it.

Well, it was pretty much Dante's Peak meets Gladiator. Katherine Mangu-Ward over at the Weekly Standard liked it, but I must say that the Missus and I were both disappointed. Coo-el special effects, to be sure, and some half-way decent acting, but you didn't really learn very much about vulcanology, Pompeii itself (and the greater Imperial Roman culture around it) or the history of archeological digs there, beyond the odd tidbits. What I found particularly infuriating was the failure to explain how the dramatizations were put together. But I suppose too much science would have taken away from the human drama side, which seemed to be what the producers were most interested in pushing.

Posted by Robert at 01:38 PM | Comments (3)

More Lame Light Posting Excuses

Not much to say today. I'm still feeling pretty crummy and staring at the computer screen is making me rather dizzy. (Upon reflection, maybe going out and shoveling the driveway yesterday afternoon wasn't all that terribly brilliant. It had to be done, though.)

Also, be forwarned. Anything I do say probably won't make much sense.

Posted by Robert at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

What She Said

Have I mentioned recently what an intelligent, sensible, sophisticated person Kathy is? Well it's true.

Posted by Robert at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

It's A Boy!

Ha ha - got you. I'll leave it to Steve-O to make his own announcement. Suffice to say that everything at the Casa De Llamas is hunky-dory.

In the meantime, tho, go on over to Memento Moron, where Brian B. is handing out cigars to celebrate the birth of his brand new son.

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 12:30 PM | Comments (2)

Censorship In John Ashcroft's Amerika

Server problems this morning. So they say.

Posted by Robert at 11:57 AM | Comments (1)

January 30, 2005

Three Cheers for Iraq!

Judging from articles like this one, it appears that the elections went very well today, with voter turnout higher than expected, even in Sunni sections of the country. Yes, it seems that there were some casualties as well, but nothing like the widespread mayhem promised by the goons.

Well done, indeed.

Posted by Robert at 06:06 PM | Comments (1)

Gratuitous Tylenol-Crazed Llama Book Review

Well, I seem to be on the mend from my bout of flu. While I was bed-ridden yesterday, I polished off Tom Wolfe's My Name Is Charlotte Simmons. Allow me to give you just a few thoughts about it.

In terms of writing, this is classic Wolfe. Smart and snappy. And chocked full of that kind of slide-down-the-razor-blade-into-the-pool-of-alchohol-burn wit of his. I don't have the book right in front of me, so I can't provide any examples off the top of my head, but more than once his crueler passages had me sniggering out loud. This doesn't happen much when I read.

In terms of social commentary, this book is an exercise in full-tilt-boogie scolding. (But of course, that's why you read Wolfe to begin with, right?) Here I think Wolfe has opened himself up a bit to his critics - In his effort to paint Du Pont as Gomorrah University, West Campus, Wolfe crams every single academic horror story he can think of into the place. I don't doubt that just about everything he documents actually occurs (indeed, I saw most of it in my own undergrad days 20 years ago). The trouble is that by distilling out practically all the, what, normal? sane? experiences of college life, he leaves himself with a potent concentrate that is not exactly a caricature, but is close enough to one to be dismissed as such by those who wish to disagree with him. In short, I think that in order to hammer his point home about the corruption of our system of higher education, Wolfe overdoes it a bit.

Finally, I have to say that the most problematic character in the book is Charlotte herself. I just never completely bought into the concept that she could be so academically sophisticated and at the same time so innocent in every other way. The poor mountany background just doesn't sell it in this day and age of universal satellite television (and it's pointed out that the teevee is on in Charlotte's house a lot). Also, I have to admit that I found her apparently incurable naivete to be rather tarsome after a while, to the point that after the climactic trip to Dee Cee with Hoyt, I found myself saying, "Jesus, what did you think was going to happen, ya pinhead?" Perhaps it was just flintiness brought on by too much flu medication.

All in all, though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you like Wolfe's work, you'll like this one.

Posted by Robert at 05:51 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2005

Why I love the Blogosphere

So I wake up around 430, and for the life of me I can't fall asleep, so I go downstairs, fire up the computer, delete a couple hundred spams and stupid emails from colleagues lacking lives that have collected over the past, ohhh, day or so, and then decide to let it rip a bit and poured it all into the post below where I tried to lay it on the line, man, speaking truth to power, and trying to uncover the procreative conspiracy that is Nick at Nite.

And who comes to visit your humble LLamas while I'm doing this?

Someone looking for nude pics of Juliet Huddy.

So let me get this straight: you're in the central time zone, where it's six in the morning, and you're on the first cup of coffee of the day, and you're thinking to yourself, "hey, I've got the greatest research tool known to human history at my fingertips: let's see if I can find nudie pics of one Juliet Huddy!"

I've only got one word for you, buddy: Get a life!

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

UPDATE: It takes a brave LLama to admit when he's wrong. I had no idea who Juliet Huddy was, so I googled her and came up with this:


Okay, she's no Tina Fey, but suddenly it's making sense. But still, dude, 6 am saturday morning is pancake time, not porn time.....

Speaking of which, time to start making the pancakes.

Posted by Steve at 07:33 AM | Comments (6)

Name the Lil' LLamabutcher

Allright, we're at crunch time and I'm offically stuck in the name front on the name for the little LLama due on Monday.

Folks, I need help. In a bad way.

I've been stuck on "Elvis Agamemnon (LLamabutcher)" and needless to say, this isn't going over well with the Dear One. She is quite tolerant with me, though, and quite amused over the concept of as she puts it of "you and your imaginary bloggo friends." Last night she suggested that I just solicit ideas from you guys, so from her lips to my MT, here goes nothing.......

I'd like to throw it open to you, our dear and loyal readers. What the heck should I put in the name list?

Here are the parameters: he's a boy. He's the fourth kid. Eldest daughter (8) has a Jane Austen protagonist's name; older brother (6) is named after our third Chief Justice; younger older daughter (2) is named after a large city in New South Wales that's not Sydney (all three of these are family names).

Other parameters: my wife and I both have issues with our own names. Speaking for myself, let's just say if you were born in 1966 and named "Steve" you faced twelve years of schooling in which you were regularly one of at least half a dozen "Steves" in your class each year, so that it wasn't just enough that you were "Steve B." or even "Steve Br." but that you would become "Steve Bra." (Damn that "Steve Brown! To hellllllllll!) Try and do that to a ten year old, and is there any wonder he's writing under the nom de blog "LLamabutcher"? (Insert Judge Smails' "Ehhhhhhhhmmmmm?" here) Let's just say it's a miracle I'm not heading to the nearest library clock tower with a bundle of "curtain rods" under my arm......

So anyhoo, them's the stakes. Personally, I'm looking forward to about 70 years from now, and getting the chance to listen to young mothers as I'm wheeling around in my geriatric flying wheelchair (would it be then a wingchair? Where the hell is Reynolds when you need him!) and hearing them talk about how "the old-fashioned names are back in," and looking at these mothers of 2075 smiling at their little Brandi's, Tiffani's, and Kristal's. Lately it seems that my 6 year old son has four friends named Owen, two named Clay in his Sunday school class, plus assorted Cooper's, Will's, Henry's, and Alex's galore. And since as Jordana and I have been joking about that our kids attend Hippie Commie German schools, our kids have friends named Range, Rain, Skye, Ezra, Essau......

And what's the deal with naming your kid "Chrystal?" I mean, if I wanted to name my child after a wildly expensive liquid that makes all the ladies go crazy, I'd name it "HP Inkjet Ink (LLamabutcher)."

We also want to avoid the whole "Z" phenomena: I have four friends from grad school whose eldest sons are named Zach. I mean, what the heck's the deal with that? I mean, are there that many six year olds running around named "Screech" or "A.C", or "Mister Belder"? And did that many girls lose their virginity down in the rec room when "90120" was on the tee-vee that they need to name their sons "Luke"? Funny, I have yet to see a single "Cosmo," "Jerry," or "Elaine" (let alone many Judy's, Robert's and Robin's) in the pre-school set amidst a sea of "Luke's", so I guess that says something about the relative subliminal-influence-of-the-tee-vee-on-during-sex power of "Saved by the Bell" and "Beverly Hills 90120" versus "Seinfeld" and "The Newshour."

Who knew that "Nick-at-Night" causes fertility?

Okay, if it were up to me (and it's not, of course: it's much more of a "look at the kid in the nursery and you know what the name is" sort of thing for us) this is what I'd go with:


I've only known two Calvin's in my life, one was a bit of a nutter in Robbo's fraternity, and the other was a dearly loved professor in law school. But while certain names become trendy because they are featured on the tee-vee or in media, others seem to have the opposite effect, some sort of unpopularity hex placed upon them (and I'm not talking about "Orenthal James Simpson (LLamabutcher)" or "Scott Peterson Stalin (LLamabutcher)" as some helpful nutters over at Sadie's place suggested). For example, one of my other favorite ideas was:


and this is a no-go because it triggers one of two things, depending on which groups you run with, either cutting into the theme song of "I luv Clifford, the big red dog!" or a really, really bad impersonation of John Ratzenberger doing "Hey, hey, ahhh, Normie!"

The other problem we run into is with my last name: it's a Hugenot one (which should explain my charming personality and my willingness to play nicely with others.....), and has a double dipthong in it---a syllable beginning in a "b" and ending in a hard urrr and a syllable ending in an "aaauh" separated by a friendly guttural "g." Basically, you pronounce it using similar motions necessary to hork a large piece of flem from the back of your throat.

So this rules out first names with a "Br" combination in them as being basically child abuse: Bruce, Byron, Robert, etc.

So, here's my unedited list, roughly categorized by genre:

Heroes of the republic:
Henry Knox (LLamabutcher)
Nathaniel Greene (LLamabutcher)
Hugo Lafayette (LLamabutcher)
Theodore Roosevelt (LLamabutcher)
Merriwether Lewis (LLamabutcher)
Alexander Hamilton (LLamabutcher)
Henry Abraham (LLamabutcher)

(and yes, since my other son is named after the third Chief Justice, I have considered "Thurgood Marshall (LLamabutcher)")

Heroes of the LLamabutchers:
Snake Pliskin (LLamabutcher) (okay, I'm kidding about that one)
Carlton Fisk (LLamabutcher)
Conan Barbarian (Llamabutcher) (now if I could sneak that one by the Dear One while she's still on the painkillers....)
Buckaroo Banzai (LLamabutcher)
(and yes, I can hear the Leather Penguin shouting for "Bill Buckner (LLamabutcher)" and the only thing I can say is "Super Choke Jeter Stinks (LLamabutcher)" was already taken)
Magnum P.I. (LLamabutcher) (because I think having two middle names is pretentiously cool, even if they are "Private" and "Investigator")
Ferris Bueller (LLamabutcher)

With any of these, you are really giving the boy a leg up, because when it comes time to apply for college, that annoying "Name something you've had to overcome in your life" essay already has a preset topic!

Things that are definitely NOT an option:

Duran Duran (LLamabutcher)

Mixing "Heroes of the Republic" with "Heroes of the LLamas," I suggested last night to the Dear One "DeWitt Clinton (LLamabutcher)" as a means to not only honor one of New York's scheming early governors, but also to commemorate the great sacrifices made to our great country by Joyce DeWitt in her bold portrayal of "Joyce" in Three's Company.

And yes, if you hold up a mirror to my forehead, you can read "Revereware--Makers of Fine Frying Pans since 1789" stamped across the lump on my noggin.

Some family names to play with:
Sullivan (yeah, I've got the nasty Irish-Hugenot mixing, which would explain the horse-pill sized antidepressants now, wouldn't it?)

Some names the Dear One likes:

Now by doing this, I realize I'm opening it up to INDC Bill's first comment, which will be "Why don't you name him after his father, "FedEx Driver (Llamabutcher)" to which I give the hearty LLama Orgle-off middle hoof salute. But these are the risks I'm willing to take.

Don't make him go through life as "Elvis Agamemnon."

Posted by Steve at 06:54 AM | Comments (32)

January 28, 2005

Tylenol-Crazed Musickal Posting

Goddammit! Kathy hits me while I'm down with this musical meme that's been floating around the 'sphere for a day or two. Remember - you asked for it:

Random Ten

Thomas Dolby, The Golden Age of Wireless. "Good Heavens, Miss Yakamoto! You're beautiful!"

Monteverdi Duest & Solos, Emma Kirkby and Evelyn Tubb with Anthony Rooley and the Consort of Musicke. Closest thing you'll ever find to the Celestial on Earth.

Ten Thousand Maniacs, In My Tribe. Stolen from Kathy's list. Yeah, I kinda like that too.

Schubert's Symphony No. 9, Sir Georg Solti and the Wiener Philharmoniker. Because the case is sitting in front of me and this is a random list. Outstanding recording, tho.

Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall - Esp. "Sing, Sing, Sing." Best. Damn. Concert. Recording. Ever.

The Chieftans - Napoleon's Retreat. I can't stand Irish Napoleonic romanticism, but the tunes are great.

Haydn, Paris Symphonies No.s 85-87, Bruno Weil and Tafelmusik. Ah, Papa!

They Might Be Giants, They Might Be Giants. "Everybody needs to hang on tight (just to keep from being thrown to the wolves)." Good advice for anyone.

Soundtrack from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. How many Geek Points do I get for this one?

Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls. Get me liquored up some night and have me start singing the harmonies. Last time you'll ever call me a stuffy conservative.

Mary Chapin Carpenter: Greatest Hits Vol. Whatever. The standard CD when the Llama-ettes go for a ride in Daddy's jeep. Current favorite cuts include, "I Feel Lucky" and "Shut Up and Kiss Me."

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

Somewhere or other in the files I've got an animation of Cartman singing "Kyle's Mom's a Bitch" in D minor. Other than that, zilch.

2. The last CD you bought is:

Erm....Handel's Messiah, performed by Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert. That was back in October or November, I think. As a general matter, the Holiday Embargo on my book-buying also extends to CDs.

3. What is the song you last listened to before this message?

Well, I've been in bed most of today and yesterday, so haven't heard any songs since driving home Wednesday night. Last one would be Sarah Evans' "Suds in the Bucket" which I really, really like.

4. Five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

Uh, don't take this as a Desert Island Disks list.....I'm just going to put up five of my old favorites here. All classical this time.

Mozart, Symphony No. 38 in D major ("The Prague")
Haydn, Symphony No. 101 in D major ("The Clock")
Handel, Concerti Grossi Opus 6 Nos. 1-12
Bach, Mass in B minor
Schumann, Symphony No. 4 in D minor

5. Who are you gonna pass this stick to (five persons and why)?

Eh, let's see....

INDCent Bill because I know he hates memes. (Go ahead, Bill. Make my day.)

Marjorie the Unclimber - because she thinks I'm a stuffy conservative.

Chan the Bookish Gardener - Because her musical knowledge is much more encylopedic than mine.

Lynn S. at Reflections in D minor - ditto.

JohnL at TexasBestGrok - Another opportunity for some Gratuitous Rush Posting. Heh.

Posted by Robert at 01:41 PM | Comments (2)

And baby makes, err, six...

We're still waiting the arrival of LLama Mark IV----at the latest, it will be Monday, when Mrs. LLamabutcher is scheduled for a C-section.

I've been a problem (apparently) because I'm not getting with the program on the naming front: I haven't been able to get much farther along than "Elvis Agamemnon (LLamabutcher)." It's weird this time I think because we never knew the sex before going in: this time around, our six year old son really REALLY wanted to know if he was going to have another sister. There are advantages as well as disadvantages of being the only boy, and I guess he was doing the decision-cost calculus of what he wanted to put his hopes into. Turns out, we are having a boy. But what's weird for me is that to get in proper name generating mode, I always had two lists to work with. For whatever reason, it's made the task trickier, as one of the little traditions we had going was that we could get a consensus easier if you had two lists to work with, replete with some old fashioned horse-trading.

I've got to get ready for class, but I want to revisit the issue of names and the state of naming in 2005 (ie why I can't swing a dead cat on the playground without hitting an Owen) (and, umm, what was I doing swinging a dead cat on a playground to begin with? Damn Republikans!)

Yips! from Robbo: Translation - Get those suggestions in, folks. I personally know that Mrs. Llama has a taste for the truly exotic in the naming line. I also know she is one of this site's biggest fans and I'm sure she'd go along with any consensus that develops here.

Posted by Steve at 10:24 AM | Comments (16)

Trees and Apples

Last evening my soon-to-be-seven year old was telling me about a new research project she's starting at school.

"What are you researching?" I said.

"It's an animal," she replied, "Um, I can't really say the name but it's spelled a...l...p...a....c...a...."

"Oh, an alpaca?" I asked.

"Yes, that's right."

That's me girl!

Posted by Robert at 09:02 AM | Comments (1)

Another Light Posting Notice

I'm sorry, friends, but I still feel like hell today. In addition to the very sore throat and hacking cough, I've got a pretty wicked headache this morning. (Although that might have as much to do with getting the kids out the door for school as anything else.)

So I think it's back to my combination of dozing and Livy. (If you want to know, the Carthaginians have finally been cleaned out of Sicily and Spain and Scipio is just about to tell the Senate why it's better for him to take the war to Africa than to squash Hannibal's remaining forces in Italian Bruttium.)

Yip! at you later.

UPDATE: Spoiler - Rome wins. By the way, for all you C.S. Lewis fans out there, did you know that Narnia was the name of a Roman colony in Umbria? I'm sure Lewis, with a Classical education, would have known that. I can't imagine that there is any particular meaning in his use of the name, but he might have pinched it from his Classical knowledge simply because he liked the sound of it. Anybody know anything more about this?

Posted by Robert at 08:44 AM | Comments (1)

January 27, 2005

Return the stones, Meeshur Chirac (that is, if you have any)

The Italian government is returning the Axum Obelisk to Ethiopia, where it had been plundered by Mussolini's invading hordes.

Which makes me think about the French, and how much they like to assert how it is they, and not zee steenking Jooo-loving Amerikans, that have the best interest of the Iraqi people at heart.

Well, there's a way they can put up, short of actually doing something militarily, financially, logistically, or epicurean-eeally.

It's time for the French to give back all the antiquities plundered from Iraq that are currently residing in the Louvre.

Starting with perhaps the most important piece of Iraqi heritage whose return now would be wonderfully symbolic: the code of Hammurabi.

Picture 041.jpg

free irak.JPG

It's time for the stones to go home, M. Chirac.

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

See What Really Happens When You Turn 40?

Minimal posting today. I started to feel this bug coming on yesterday afternoon. This morning I woke up literally doubled over with coughing and hacking. I can plainly feel the inflamation in my lungs and my throat feels like sand-paper. Given that, and given that its about 12 degrees outside with a howling north wind, I'm going back to bed, there alternately to doze and to continue reading Livy on the Second Punic War (Books XXI-XXX of his History, Penguin Classics, translation by Aubrey de Selincourt).

There are a few things I wanted to get covered today. For one, it is the 249th anniversary of Mozart's birthday. For another, it happens to be the 15th anniversary of the first (blind) date between self and the Butcher's Wife. It strikes me that both occasions are worthy of comment and I'd like to do so if I'm up to it later on.

In the meantime, cough! hack! urgh! (pant, pant) bleh.

Yip at you later.

Posted by Robert at 08:47 AM | Comments (1)

January 26, 2005

Fallen Idols

fallen idols.gif

It's eerie how the Moai are symbolic of a fallen and decaying society, where some find it downright funny.

Posted by Steve at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

And tonight, on a very special edition of "Blossom"....

Our very own Ace of Spades, running amok among the glitterati at the Sundance Film Festival.

Posted by Steve at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

Set Your T.A.R.D.I.S. for TexasBestGrok

By popular request, JohnL has put up his Companions of Dr. Who Sci-Fi Babe Poll.

I must admit it's pretty tough to choose among the five finalists that John's culled, but I'm going with Romana as played by Lalla Ward. Not only did I always enjoy her petite perkiness when I was a lad, but she also gets my sympathy for being married (for a short time) to Tom Baker who played the Doctor opposite her and supposedly has one of the biggest egos in this quadrant of the galaxy. (In this, I put her in the same What Were You Thinking? catagory as Connie Booth for marrying John Cleese.)

As always, vote early and often!

Posted by Robert at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)

Sass This Hoopy Frood News

An asteroid has been officially named after the late Douglas Adams. Fittingly enough, its provisional designation was 2001 DA42. (BTW, it appears that MSNBC.com was instrumental in the process. Who says the MSM can't do anything right?)

Apparently, there already is another one whizzing around out there named Arthur Dent. This could become a trend. Perhaps the next binary-sun system discovered could be named Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Yips! to Tainted Bill.

Posted by Robert at 01:03 PM | Comments (3)


So would this make Jen Susan St. James or Jane Curtin?

Posted by Steve at 12:59 PM | Comments (3)


So would this make Jen Susan St. James or Jane Curtin?

Posted by Steve at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

Why I love the HMQ

Reason #538:

If you head to your local Applebee’s, you will soon notice that everyone there is outrageously fat. And no wonder: The victuals for sale are nothing but deep-fried garbage. The place is kind of like a landlubber’s Red Lobster.

In fact, Applebee’s is so atrocious that if it were discovered that its staff—like the morons at Denny’s—refused to seat black patrons, it should be sued by whites. After all, nothing beats not eating at Applebee’s.

A landlubber's Red Lobster?

I guess the Noveua Beaujolais Testors is particularly good this year.

Posted by Steve at 12:50 PM | Comments (4)

The return of the ambulance, umm, waddlers

Jerry Nadler, call your office: the Second Circuit has reinstituted the suit against Mickey-Dees.

But you have to love the district court judge on this:

The 2003 ruling marked the second time U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet dismissed the case brought on behalf of two youngsters who blamed their obesity, diabetes and other health problems on Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets.

Sweet said the plaintiffs had not followed detailed instructions he gave when he first threw out the case and told the plaintiffs they could submit a new filing with information backing up their advertising allegations.

He said the complaint did not answer such questions as ``What else did the plaintiffs eat? How much did they exercise? Is there a family history of the diseases which are alleged to have been caused by McDonald's products.''

The judge said that without this information McDonald's did not have sufficient information to determine if their foods caused the plaintiffs obesity or if instead the products were only a contributing factor.

Of course, McDonald's is relying on the legal principle known as the Vernon Wormer defense, ie that "fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life."

(I just deleted a longer bit that indiscriminately used the word "piehole" repeatedly, as it was a wee bit intemperate. Still, for my money, I have no idea why the word "piehole" is so funny, but Lawhd help me it is.)

BTW, nobody tell Ith about this----it could very well be a mellow-harsh-er.

Posted by Steve at 12:38 PM | Comments (2)

Sorry to disapoint but.....

Someone came here in search of the bacon, I guess.

Maybe he was searching for our "forbidden luv" series featuring Miss Piggy and Osama. After lunch and class I'll look for it on the hard drive and repost.

Posted by Steve at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

Maybe the Moo-Knew Ate My Baby

I'm having trouble again today with Moo-Knew. It took me about half an hour to get my last post up. I'll wait till things seem better before I try to do anything substantive again.

Posted by Robert at 11:23 AM | Comments (9)

The Big 4-0, I Guess

Well, today is my 40th birthday.

I tried to think of something profound to say about it, but honestly, this birthday seems pretty much like about the last six or so, none of which I can even really remember.

Lacking any genuine sense of occasion, I asked myself why this was.

Part of it, I think, is because 40 isn't the waypoint it used to be, what with better health and increased longevity and all. To be 40 in 2005 isn't the same thing as being 40 in, say, 1975. On top of this, I still look and feel quite young for my age. (I got carded again last night by a clerk who confessed he thought I was in my late 20's.)

Part of it is also because the Llama-ettes are now the primary markers of life's journey in our family. I focus so much of my attention on the milestones of their growth and development that I now tend to ignore the passing of the years as they relate to myself.

Most of it, I think, is because one doesn't look at the clock when one is having fun. And I have to say that I'm having a lot of fun. [Secret message to Steve-O: this is in the Scoggie sense of "having fun."] By this I don't mean that life is perfect or even that I am happy all the time. What it means is that by a combination of very hard work and what my mother often describes as my fool's luck, I have been able to put together pretty much exactly the kind of life I've always wanted, with all of its attendant ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and I'm so busy living it (and, let me hasten to add, being profoundly grateful for it on a day-by-day basis) that I really don't have much sense of its passage.

UPDATE: Many thanks to all of you for your comments. You guys rock! Yip! Yip!

UPDATE DEUX: Wow! Now I've Kathy setting me up with Hollywood Hotties, Sadie doing Marilyn Monroe and Jordana offering to dress up as Morgana Le Fey! Now that's what I'm talking about. Did I mention tomorrow is my birthday too?

Posted by Robert at 11:03 AM | Comments (17)

Is it Valentine Season already?

I get confused.....walking past the Hallmark on the way to lunch always screws up my seasonal clock like a groundhog living in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Anyhoo, our old pal Sadie is kicking things off with this doozy:



SEKRIT MESSAGE TO SADIE: We were actually insinuating you were her role in Exit to Eden, but whatever. Cheech and Chong? Puh-leeze. Try Gibbon and Chong, perhaps---you know that wacky pairing of English historian of the decline of Rome Edward Gibbon with wacked out stoner Tommy Chong.....now you're playing with fire!

Posted by Steve at 10:24 AM | Comments (3)

Iraqi Election Prayer Request

I received the following in an email yesterday from a Church pal of mine. It purports to be an open request from a chaplain attached to a transportation battalion stationed in Iraq for prayer for the upcoming elections (and the safety of our troops supporting them). A little checking around the 'sphere showed that Blackfive posted it the other day, as have a number of other folks. Among them, Murdoc got a comment from someone claiming the original request was sent to a certain Rev. Mackay of the GodBlog, who supposedly knows the author personally. (That information also is contained in a comment by the same person to the GodBlog posting of the request, although there does not appear to be any other confirmation at that site. Snopes is still checking out the original author. They've got as far as determining that there is a person by this name serving with this particular battalion, but they've been unable to contact him yet.

I chewed on this overnight and decided to post it anyway. I'm sorry to seem a bit dubious, but all of us have had experiences of bogus postings and emails. On the other hand, this isn't "fake but accurate" territory where someone is being accused of wrongdoing, nor is it another request from an ex-Nigerian Treasury Official to help him smuggle assets out of Africa. Rather, it's just a good idea to think about, regardless of its source. Given that, here it is:

As a transportation battalion, my unit will be delivering the voting
machines and the ballots to villages and cities throughout Iraq during
the upcoming elections. (January 30/31) Our convoys are prime targets
for the insurgents because they do not want the equipment to arrive at
the polling stations nor do they want the local Iraqi citizens to have
the chance to vote; timely delivery must occur so that the elections
occur. Encourage your friends and family members and those within our
churches to pray specifically for the electoral process. Historically,
the previous totalitarian regime would not allow individual citizens
to vote. Democracy will not be realized in Iraq if intelligent and
competent officials are not elected to those strategic leadership
positions within the emerging government; freedom will not have an
opportunity to ring throughout this country if the voting process

Announce this prayer request to your contacts throughout your
churches, neighborhoods, and places of business. Those with leadership
roles within the local church post this message in as many newsletters
and bulletins as possible. There is unlimited potential for God's
presence in this process but if we do not pray then our enemy will
prevail (See Ephesians 6:10-17) A prayer vigil prior to the end of the
month may be an innovative opportunity for those within your sphere of
influence to pray. This is a political battle that needs spiritual
intervention. A powerful story about God's intervention in the lives
of David's mighty men is recorded in 2 Samuel 23:8-33. David and his
warriors were victorious because of God's intervention. We want to
overcome those who would stand in the way of freedom. David's mighty
men triumphed over incredible odds and stood their ground and were
victorious over the enemies of Israel. (Iraqi insurgents' vs God's
praying people). They don't stand a chance.

I will pray with my soldiers before they leave on their convoys and
move outside our installation gates here at Tallil. My soldiers are at
the nerve center of the logistic operation to deliver the voting
machines and election ballots. They will be driving to and entering
the arena of the enemy. This is not a game for them it is a historical
mission that is extremely dangerous. No voting machines or ballots. No
elections. Your prayer support and God's intervention are needed to
give democracy a chance in this war torn country. Thank you for
reading this e-mail. Please give this e-mail a wide dissemination.

Thank you for your prayer support for me and my family. Stand firm in
your battles.



CH (CPT) Lyle Shackelford
Battalion Chaplain
HHD, 57th Transportation Battalion
Providing With Mobility
"Keep Em Moving"

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

-Joshua 1:9

Posted by Robert at 08:10 AM | Comments (3)

January 25, 2005

Orgle-Watch (It's not like we're stalking you or anything, Nichole....)

As most of you probably know, earlier this month Nichole Griffin decided to take a sabbatical from her blog Potomac Ponderings. That's the bad news.

The good news is that she's guest blogging over at The Sundries Shack! Thanks for inviting her, Jimmie!

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

Hillzilla Goes To The Movies


Okay, I did posts on both Hillary Clinton and movies today. So now it's time to combine the two! Your task - supply a suitable movie, character, scene and (if you wish) spot of dialogue.

I'll start you off: Hillary as Melina in Total Recall after she's sucked out of the oxygen-generation plant and onto the surface of Mars.

Go to it and good luck!

Yips! to INDCent Bill for the pic.

Posted by Robert at 03:21 PM | Comments (6)

Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!

Sure you've seen it already, but here is the list of nominees for the major awards.

I have to confess that the only two movies I've even seen of this entire lot are Ray and The Incredibles. So you know where my votes are going......

Posted by Robert at 02:52 PM | Comments (8)

Scots Wha Hey!


The Maximum Leader reminds us that today is the birthday of Robert Burns, the National Poet of Scotland. (The only poet of Scotland.) Nip on over and peruse the ML's tribute to the man, as well as his plans for a suitable evening of celebration. I notice that he apparently is going to, er, welsh on the haggis, but I can't say that I really blame him.


Posted by Robert at 01:59 PM | Comments (6)



Hillary apparently is launching her '08 run with a piece of triangulation into the political middle ground on the issue of abortion.

The headlines regarding Clinton's speech yesterday marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade focused on her call for more efforts to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, particularly among teenagers, as a way to reduce the number of abortions. As the NYTimes breathlessly noted, she also praised the work of pro-lifers in these efforts. All well and good. But here is the subtle money quote:

"There is an opportunity for people of good faith to find common ground in this debate - we should be able to agree that we want every child born in this country to be wanted, cherished and loved," Mrs. Clinton said.

Well, yeah. I mean, who wouldn't want this? But while such rhetoric is fine for pro-lifers with respect to preventing unwanted pregnancies, it is completely contrary to their position with respect to dealing with such pregnancies after they occur. The pro-life objection to abortion is not based on the notion that an unborn child should be protected because someone (whether the mother or otherwise) wants it, but because of its own inherent right to such protection as a human being.

Ann Althouse thinks Clinton's use of this language here is flawed. I think it's a trap. Mrs. Clinton knows perfectly well that there is no "common ground" agreement of this sort between pro-life and pro-choice partisans with respect to abortion itself. By tossing out such a sugar-coated rhetorical plea in a manner that blurs the philosophical distinction between pregnancy prevention and termination, I believe she is trying to bait pro-lifers into overreacting and painting themselves as cold, harsh and unreasonable, all the while pumping up her own seeming moderation and protecting her pro-choice creds.

It strikes me that Hillary has learned a thing or two from hanging around Bubba all these years. It also strikes me that I am growing increasingly apprehensive about this woman.

Posted by Robert at 01:21 PM | Comments (4)

The Dog Ate My Post

Honest, I'm having some Moo-Knew issues this morning. I'll try again.....

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

I can't wait for the Super Bowl to be over with

Son of Nixon is gloating over the Pats going to the Super Bowl.

I just can't get excited about this for a couple of reasons.

First of all, my father-in-law, who has known me (allegedly) for 13 years now keeps asking my wife if I'm excited, since I grew up in Connecticut and was never able to successfully give up rooting for the Sawx. It's hilarious, listening to her end of the conversation on the phone. So right there that's enough to want me to get things over with.

I never liked the Pats growing up because basically they stunk. Not that they were bad on the field--I mean, they were. But the organization as a whole really bugged me---just really lacked class. Plus, both my brothers were big Miami Dolphins fans (or Dolfans, as that peculiar form of obsessive-compulsive disorder is known), as the Fins were going through their period of arete under Shula, Griese, Csonka, etc. Needless to say, as the middle child, this made me a natural Raiders fan as the Raiders of that era (almost) always had Miami's number. Plus, as my dad liked the Redskins, it was a natural piss everybody off move, so it had that going for it.

Growing up in a conservative Catholic parish and as a faculty brat at a military academy in the early 1970s, I had to look far afield for heroes, and for whatever reason settled on the Holy Trinity of Muhammad Ali, Evel Knievel, and the dirt-bag looking Oakland Raiders of Ken "the Snake" Stabler et al. I guess it was my eight year old way of giving the bird to the world, my way of saying "how-dee-doo" to Richard Nixon, William Westmoreland, Pat Boone and Frank Gifford all at once. Fortunately, over time, it didn't take, and I settled down to more reasonable heroes: Margaret Thatcher, Pope Jay-Pee Deux, Reagan, and, of course, Snake Plissken. I think my Kurt Russell fetish was a way to keep hold to my roots, while my embrace of Thatcher/Reagan and the Pershing Missles was a way to stick it hard to the uber-commies in college.

Needless to say I fit in quite well at a small southern women's college.

Anyhoo, I have to confess I liked watching the Pats beat the Steelers because of the thorough beating it was---and when I mean beating, I mean beat down, as in take the guy out in the alley and kick the crap out of him while he was down. I mean, the state of Bill Cowher's comb-over was just deplorable. I mean, football, when you can see the proverbial teeth flying out of the guy's mouth, is a thing of beauty.

And the fact that they get to lay the smack down on the Eagles---easily the lowest class organization in professional sports (and by professional sports I include the NBA Pistons as well as Notre Dame football). Basically, Andy Reid is going to be served up like Michael Moore, in a g-string, to a convention of the American Association of Turkey Carvers. And this will be a good thing.

Yet, I can't get excited for them at all, even though I'd like to see Bill Belichick in a game of one on one with Andrew Sullivan. I mean, the humanity of it all! (And by the way, do you think it's dawned on Jerry Jones that Bill Parcells has one zero Super Bowls without Belichick on his coaching staff? Mmmmm, yep.)

For one reason, my brothers have both become Pats fans.

I'm sorry, you just can't do that.

You can't switch professional sport team allegiances but once after age 10. It's kind of like that once-in-a-lifetime capital gains tax exemption you can take for selling a house. You can do it once, fine, but after that you're a ho. As a kid, fine, but you'll learn your lesson well (as all those seventeen year old Chicago Bulls fans are learning about now). You can ally with a team as a kid that's local, or you can ally with one somewhere else because they're good and you're a kid and you really don't understand what loyalty means, and that's okay because you'll learn soon enough. (You can also ally with a team out of spite, as I did with the Raiders, but that's a Fish of an entirely different color). But if you switch as an adult (and by this I mean over the age of 13) you can only switch to a team that is currently in a state of suckage. Otherwise, you are nothing but a dirty rotten bandwagon jumper, and really only worthy of citizenship in your natural home, the Republic of France. And switching to another team in the same conference?

Perfidy does not begin to describe it. I don't even think the French have done that (would switching over to the Nazi side count as rooting for another team in the same conference? I need some clarification on this one.)

So them's the stakes. If you were a Pats fan when they sucked, if you got arrested throwing wing nuts at real NFL teams coming out of the visitor's clubhouse at Schaeffer Stadium, enjoy the party for the next two weeks. I'm sure Son of Nixon, the Irish Elk and others fit into this category, and I wish them well in their well deserved period of annoying gloating.

But otherwise, stuff a sock in it.

(And I'm not saying that just because I had to convert to being a Redskins fan as a condition of marriage)

Posted by Steve at 11:51 AM | Comments (8)

What the......

This is sure to set off a "Random Domestic Musings" Bomb from Robbo: Jordana the Curmudgeon has a hilarious profile of an upscale kids birthday party, replete with the Merlin.

Yes, Merlin.

Sadly, though, when she's making fun of "Hippie German private school" I'm afraid she's talking Waldorf. That's just going to set off the Waldorf versus Montessori War, that was only resolved with months of patient negotiation by Henry Kissinger himself. Needless to say, even though we have demilitarized on this point, Montessori is still a quasi-fascist Italian pack of pablum, while Waldorf rules.

And yes, The Butcher's Wife (aka Mrs. Robbo) is a licensed Montessori teacher.

And, yes, by demilitarize I mean we put away our wooden swords and felt capes and were sent to nap.

Yips! from Robbo: Spelling fixed. (Sorry 'bout that!) And Steve-O, watch out for the Missus. Trash-talk about St. Marie of the Holistic Educational Experience is heresy 'round here.

Posted by Steve at 11:26 AM | Comments (5)

January 24, 2005

Right you are.......

Sheila's loving obituary for Johnny Carson. I'm siding with Sheila on this one.

Posted by Steve at 05:41 PM | Comments (2)

Maybe It's just me.......

Ummmmm, isn't this the whole point of going to law school in the first place? I mean, other than the wearing and filing suits?

Yips! from Robbo: Geez - I went to law school to get revenge on all those people who beat me up when I was a kid. Is this wrong?

Posted by Steve at 05:39 PM | Comments (2)

What A relief!

You know, after the intensity of the fall, I was a bit burned out on blogging, aimlessly bouncing around looking for a new cause, dare I say crusade to join up. To the barricades! Tally ho!

But I found nothing. Nada. Zip.

But today..........there it is, the Cause, the injustice in need of correction, the perverse instrumental use of power to marginalize the oppress that can be corrected by the massed will of the people, staring up at me as solemnly as the Virgin of Guadalupe appearing in the griddle marks of my strawberry flapjacks at IHOP....

A Crusade for the 21st Century!

Posted by Steve at 05:36 PM | Comments (0)


A while back, INDCent Bill and I sparred a bit over the then soon-to-be-released movie version of The Phantom of the Opera. (I basically said wild horses wouldn't drag me anywhere near the thing. Bill basically called me a snob. It's this tension that keeps our relationship so fresh and exciting.)

Well I noticed today that Katie the Resplendant Mango has a review up. I believe it's safe to say my instincts were correct.

Posted by Robert at 04:58 PM | Comments (3)

Moo-Knew: The Movie

Our glorious leader Emperor Pixy is asking:

When they make MuNu: The Movie, who will play you? And feel free to make nominations for the other Munus.

Rocket Ted has already suggested that your humble Llamas could be played by Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams. HAR har, hardee Har har. I like to think that we'd be better portrayed by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. The truth of the matter is that most of our readers would probably suggest David Hyde Pierce and Alf.

We'll have to think on our potential castmates a bit.......

YIPS from Steve:

Puh-leeze. The LLamabutchers: Tony Randall and Kurt Russell.

Your LLamabutchers:
tony randall.jpeg snake.jpeg

Yeah, yeah, I know, Randall is dead, but I think that the Felix Unger/Snake Plissken thing summarizes our joint endeavor quite well, thank you very much.

Nothing new on the baby front, so I'm at work today.


Robbo suggests privately Helen Hunt to play Kathy the Cake-Eater: while the ontological crisis for the space-time continuum is shall we say delicious, the true honor belongs to none other than our old pal Chai-Rista:

mad about you.jpeg

Sample dialogue......"Paaaaaaaul, why did you go get the pluuutoniuuuuum bomb....you know how I hate pluuuuutoniuuuuumm"

(By the way, while researching this post, I came across THIS site, which wins the Steve the LLamabutcher Award for most bizarrely obtuse website of the week.)

Other Ideas:

Gordon the Cranky Neo-Con (Of course he's cranky---can you imagine a perky Steve Buscemi? No? Of course not!)


dana delaney.jpeg
The blogger formerly known as Sadie at Fistfull of Fortnights (and by Dana Delaney I mean the China Beach Dana, of course, definitely not her role as Lisa Emerson)

Posted by Robert at 01:07 PM | Comments (8)

I Swear I'm Not Making This Up

Your Famous Blogger Twin is Dave Barry
Funny, witty, and clever! You always have a ton of offbeat links to share
Who's Your Famous Blogger Twin?

Does this mean I should have dibs on his WaPo Sunday Magazine column over that bum Weingarten?

Yips! to Big Stupid Tommy.

Posted by Robert at 12:42 PM | Comments (5)

Good Night, Johnny

I really don't have much to say about the death of Johnny Carson over the weekend. Of all the commentary out there, I think Lileks sums up my thoughts best, although I'm not sure that Carson ever escaped the "grandpa demographic" completely - I still associate the Tonight Show and its brand of humor with my grandmother, who was a devout fan. By the time I reached an age to really appreciate adult humor, Carson's style was well on its way out and the Days of Dave were upon us. In the end, though, I'm glad Johnny was able to survive the transition with dignity (or "coolness" as Lileks would argue) and become a kind of Humorist Emeritus. Yeah, we'll miss him.

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

Bitch, PLEASE!

(With apologies to Margi Lowry for swiping the title of this post from her site. It just seems to be so, well, apropos.)

Barbara Boxer is now whining that Condi Rice attacked her:

Sen. Barbara Boxer says she is the real victim of last week's confirmation hearing for Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice, yet continued yesterday to question the national security adviser's honesty. "She turned and attacked me," the California Democrat told CNN's "Late Edition" in describing the confrontation during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. "I gave Dr. Rice many opportunities to address specific issues. Instead, she said I was impugning her integrity," Mrs. Boxer said.

[Insert sound of gratuitous sniggering here.] That Condi. She's just so....hurtful.

Posted by Robert at 11:56 AM | Comments (3)

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Winter Wonderland Division

Both Marc of Hubs and Spokes and Gordon the Cranky Neocon were out this weekend enjoying the snow with their kids (and providing pics of same). Very nice.

Marc says, "One thing all of you in the warm climates don't have a chance to experience is the fun of taking your seven month old son on his first sled ride!" True. True. And I was out both yesterday and Saturday doing my share.

But now that my kids are slightly older, I'm also getting the chance to experience the fun of saying, "You girls go out and play in the snow," while staying inside myself. All in all, I like having both options available.

Posted by Robert at 11:20 AM | Comments (3)

Birthday Parties From Hell

Alert reader Dave S., commenting on my weekend ranting about kiddie birthday parties among the Boomer Elite of Northern Virginia, pointed me to this post by Mr. Outer Life chronicling his own recent descent into Party Perdition in Southern California. Ah, yes - the Bouncy.

In my fuming about this past weekend's party, I forgot to mention that the hosting parents evidently had instructed the Help to record the whole thing on camcorders. As a result, about every ten minutes I had a nanny or housekeeper pointing one of these things at me and my Llama-ette and making gestures encouraging us to demonstrate how much fun we were having. This included an obligatory farewell shot in which, as I was trying to guide my five year old down a set of icy steps, we were both expected to turn, smile and wave. (At the cameras, that is. Neither the host, the hostess nor the birthday boy were anywhere near the door.) Needless to say, I did nothing of the sort, shooting an icy look and a tight-lipped smile into the lens instead. We'll probably get chopped from the Commemorative Edition of the party DVD.

Posted by Robert at 10:57 AM | Comments (5)

Super Bowl Blogging

If only I cared about the Eagles one way or the other, the whole business might be easier.

As it is, I don't and therefore I'm left in a bind. As a Dolphins fan of 35 years' standing, I naturally loathe the Patriots. At the same time, they are an AFC East team, so maybe I should be supporting them now. Tough call.

Perhaps the fact that one of the Fins' very few wins this year was against the Pats is enough to satisfy the Gods of the Divisional Rivalry and let me support New England. As I remarked to someone at a party last evening, any year in which the Dolphins can take at least one game off the Patriots can't be viewed as a total failure.

As a matter of fact, this is probably all academic anyway. From what I've seen, I don't think the Iggles have that much of a chance. New England is just too solid all the way around.

Posted by Robert at 09:49 AM | Comments (1)

Going Postal In The Funnies

Ya know, I've always loathed the comic strip "Cathy" and its despicable cast of whiney, soppy, fubsy characters. But after reading Michele's take on things, I'm starting to feel.......afraid.

Posted by Robert at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)


Is it just my addled imagination or is it a fact that every time The Simpsons has actually been on this season, it's been a rerun? It certainly seems that way. What on earth is going on?

Posted by Robert at 08:59 AM | Comments (1)

Doing the Llama Two-Step

It has become something of a tradition for me that I take one spectacular fall on the snow/ice/slush per year. Once that fall is out of the way, I'm good to go for the rest of the season.

I know where it's going to happen this year: Coming down the hill on 7th Street between E and D Streets, somewhere just opposite the Shakespeare Theatre. I've just got a feeling.....

So if you're in that neck of Dee Cee and you see someone landing hard on his keester there, you'll know it's me. Be sure to say "Yips!"

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

January 23, 2005

Must Re-See Tee Vee - Part 3

(Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.)

Coming this spring:

Love Boat 2005 - In the two hour premier we learn that the CIA has been running a clandestine intel op aboard the S.S. Pacific Princess, unknown to anyone outside the White House. When she is attacked by an Al Qaeda-hijacked submarine, a high-speed chase ensues, with the Princess eventually running aground on an uncharted reef in the Bering Sea. The President (Edward Hermann) can do nothing to save the ship without exposing the illegal intelligence activities and therefore orders all knowledge of the incident kept under wraps. Cut off from help, the passengers and crew must fend for themselves. And the terrorists are still out there.....

Captain Steubing (Patrick Stewart) must bring a reluctant ship's worth of pleasure-seekers, including himself, to a war footing. In doing this, he promotes Gopher (Stephen Baldwin) to the post of Captain of Marines, where he constantly risks his life to save the ship and her people. Meanwhile, Isaac (Isaac Hayes) takes charge of rationing the short supply of food aboard. His clash with the Captain's radically Green daughter over the slaughter of seals for food is both gripping and powerful.

In the aftermath of the grounding, it is discovered that Doc (Steve Buscemi) actually got his medical degree in Barbados and has never treated anything more serious than sunburn or seasickness. Seconds count as Doc does his first tracheotomy while feverishly reading the pages of an old medical textbook, aided by Cruise Director Julie McCoy (Drew Barrymore) who is no more successful at hiding her drug addiction now than she was in the original series.

Bob Newhart: O.C. - After an extremely messy divorce from Emily, Dr. Bob Hartley takes his pyschiatry practice to Beverly Hills, there to start a new life. Bob quickly plunges into the fast living and glamour of this seeming paradise, pushing the bounds of medical ethics to the extreme in order to satisfy his high-priced clientele. But as his practice grows, he quickly realizes that all that is gold does not glitter. Will he be tarnished too?

Fantasy Island - Tropical Spice - Did you really believe that people would travel all that way to a Dreams-Come-True Island just to find out what would have happened if they'd taken that music scholarship in school or to "fall in love again" with their spouse of 50 years? Get real! Spike TV brings you this no-holds-barred, pushing-the-envelope, on-the-edge update full of sun, skin and more skin. You won't believe what Mr. Rorke (Hugh Heffner) and Tatoo (Snoop Dogg) have got in store for their guests! Ooooooh, yeaaaahhhh!!

Check your local listings......

Posted by Robert at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2005

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Great White East Division

Well, so much for the Storm of the Century of the Week. We got maybe three or four inches today. Just enough to make things look very pretty, but not enough that I really need to bother shovelling the driveway. I'll gladly take it.

At the height of the snowfall, I wound up taking Llama-ette No. 2 to a birthday party down the street that I'd have sworn was going to be cancelled. (Given my crankiness about the normal snow panic around here, I suppose I admire the birthday family for seeing it through.) I'm not nearly so involved in the Kiddie-Circuit as is the Missus, so it's always an odd sensation to show up at one of these affairs. Everyone knows the gel and knows who I am, but I'm lucky if I can put one or two names and faces together.

Anyhoo, the entertainment (and around here, there's almost always some kind of entertainment) was a puppet show by some guy who claims to have worked previously for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and the Muppets, prompting me to think to myself "Children's Television Network downsizing victim." He actually was quite good and held the kiddies pretty well enthralled. However, he had one marionette (named "Maisy," as I recall) that had a look of such pure evil on her face that I half expected her to start spitting pea soup and muttering things like "Your mother is a chicken eff-er!" and "Jesus sucks donkeys!" I remarked to my neighbor sotto voce that I sure as hell wouldn't want to be alone with that thing, especially at night, prompting her to nearly snarf her punch.

Speaking of remarking, there was a whole gang of parents standing right at the back of the audience and gabbing away at full volume (about themselves, naturally) right through the performance. I know it's a kiddie show and all, but it strikes me that this kind of contempt is not exactly the sort of thing one would want to instill in the little darlin's. (And believe me, they notice these things.) Of course, this sort of behavior is pretty much par for the course with the McMansion Yo-Yo Boomers that swarm in my neck of the woods. To them, the Social Contract is simple: Anyone higher than you gets their butt kissed and anyone lower than you gets theirs kicked.

Hmph. Well, rant over.

Eventually, we escaped and made our way home. The Butcher's Wife and the other two Llama-ettes were out in the back sledding. Our yard slopes downhill from the house. By cutting diagonally across from one corner, you can get in a pretty good run, although you have to be careful of the edge of the blueberry arbor at the bottom or you run the risk of a real Ethan Frome Experience. The five year old and I quickly joined in and the day wound down in a pleasant game of the tobogganing Powerpuff Girls vs. the Giant Snowball-Throwing Monster.

My birthday is next Wednesday, but I won't be getting home until late that evening. So the gels got the bright idea of celebrating it tonight. Roast Beef and Yorkshire pud with two veg are even now spreading their savory scent through the house. And while Llama-ette No. 2 and I were out, the rest of the girls made a banana-bread cake for me. (I have no sweet-tooth whatsoever, a fact well known in my family. Realizing my dislike of all things sugary and that a real cake is wasted on me, they settled on this happy alternative.)

Not a bad way to spend a day.

UPDATE: Opening presents early, I now have in my hot little hands copies of Tom Wolfe's My Name Is Charlotte Simmons and the new Robert McCrum biography of P.G. Wodehouse. Ooh, where to start.....

UPDATE DEUX (Sunday Afternoon): Well, I wound up shovelling the drive after all. It's kind of steep at the top and there was a goodish bit of ice left over from the mid-week snow we got. We live on a moderately busy street, so you have to jump in and out of the driveway pretty quickly. I figured I'd better clear it so as to save self and the Butcher's Wife any nasty surprises when entering or exiting. That's me, Mr. Responsibility.

Posted by Robert at 05:14 PM | Comments (3)

Battlestar Galactica Watch

As I promised earlier this week, I watched the new episode last night with as open a mind as possible.

Just to show all you BSG fans out there what kind of llama I am, I'm going to give you a mulligan on this one.

Maybe the writers were just trying to lay some groundwork for later story lines, but it strikes me that the old prison hostage crisis scenario was a pretty lame idea. Also, if someone has time to start yapping about political oppression, the Cylons evidently aren't chasing the fleet as hard as I had been led to imagine. I mean, wasn't the story that there are only 50,000 humans left in the entire universe, the Cylon hordes give them absolutely no rest and the water supply is just about gone? If some jail-house nut got up and started pulling a Nelson Mandela on me at that point, I'd have just slapped him and told him not to be an idiot.

Poor old Richard Hatch! Was his appearance in this episode a signal that he had surrendered his long-time fight to revive the original series idea? Apparently, he has been assimilated.

Some other random observations:

- They're going to have to do something about the dual Boomers plot line soon. The series can only support so many shots of real-Boomer-stranded-on-Cylon-occupied-Caprica-and-getting-sick-at-the-carnage thing. Wouldn't it be cool if she managed to form some kind of Resistance?

- The whole Cylon-babe-in-Baltar's-head bit is very annoying.

- I will forever think of the President as "Mrs. Whitmore." I'm sorry, but there it is.

- Apollo needs to get laid. Seriously. Lighten up, dude. And did the writers really make him use the line "I understand where you're coming from?"

- Oh, and the jiggly-camera stuff continues to make me ill. This is especially bad when I've had a glass or two of wine.

As I say, I'll give the show a mulligan on last night's episode and try again next week. In the meantime, I thought Stargate: Atlantis, which I also watched, far more entertaining.

UPDATE: Ooh! Ooh! Mr. Kott-ter! I got another one! It had escaped my notice earlier that the Cylons, rather than being the product of an alien race, are now human creations that evidently rose up against their makers. In other words, the new BSG rips off both the old one and the Terminator series, thereby giving its writers lots of room for "We brought this on ourselves" liberal moaning. Feh.

Posted by Robert at 09:25 AM | Comments (7)

January 21, 2005

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

Every now and again I discover just why my parents told me not to do certain things that I otherwise could not see causing any harm.

Here's one: My three year old can cross her eyes. She does this when she's feeling particularly goofy. Now I never believed that one's eyes would really get stuck that way, so couldn't see the harm in doing it myself. But now I understand - looking at her like that makes me nauseous. Bleh.

Posted by Robert at 02:57 PM | Comments (1)

It's The End of The World As You KNow It!

And I feel fine.

The latest from the weather service wire:

Snow will continue through the afternoon and into the evening before ending between 7 and 11 PM. The snow will be heavy at times during the midday and afternoon hours. 4 to 8 inches is expected before ending. Temperatures will be in the middle to upper 20s during the event. Winds will be light during the day... then will become north during the evening. Winds will increase steadily during the night... and by Sunday morning they will be 25 miles an hour gusting to 40 mph. Strong winds will continue Sunday with temperatures during the day in the 20s and wind chills near zero.

Lessee......Bulk lot of toilet paper- check. Flares - check. Distilled water - check. Lottery tickets to decide which child we'll eat first if we have to - check.

Yup, I think we're all set.

Posted by Robert at 02:51 PM | Comments (3)

Procrastinating? Moi?

Okay, okay. I've really got to get out and run errands. But I'll leave you with a question to ponder:

I think I'm right in saying that Arnold Schwartzenneger's (spelling very approximate) Conan movies can be classified as Truly Bad Films, movies that are awful and yet are enjoyable to watch nonetheless.

But I saw Red Sonja all the way through for the first time last night. This movie is of exactly the same formula as the Conan films and yet it is emphatically not a Truly Bad Film, but instead is just plain, well, bad.

Why is this? Discuss amongst yourselves while I'm out. (And if Steve-O doesn't chime in on this one, I'm calling the Missing Persons Bureau.)

YIPS from Steve:

The difference my friend is in the stars.....

Seriously, the Conan movies are truly bad films because they are lovingly bad---the cast and crew were fully aware that what they were making was not good, yet, instead of being derivative or ludicrous, they were bold and innovative in finding all new ways at being bad. I mean, James Earl Jones as the snake villain wizard dude? The Conan movies were key in that they capitalized on the D&D subculture while breaking Ahnuld into the mainstream. Compare it to a truly horrible movie of the era like Flash Gordon. Flash Gordon is truly unwatchable (and trust me, I've tried), whereas Red Sonja is just derivative of Conan. Truly bad films are bad in all new ways, or are new reinterpretations of old classic bad films (Walking Tall anybody?) (Links to follow, and apologies to Chai-Rista for being the slug that I am)

We were timing contractions last night but it turned out to be a false alarm. I'm at work today but am actually carrying a (turned on) cell phone, so you know things are serious....

Posted by Robert at 10:24 AM | Comments (4)

More Inaugural Commentary

The divine Peggy Noonan (mmmm.....Peggy.....) thinks that Dubya's address yesterday was too messianic.

I think I'd agree with her more if this particular speech was part of a pattern of the "mission inebriation" about which she warns. But so far, it doesn't strike me that way. The folks in the White House are certainly motivated by their vision of what Good can do, but they aren't so caught up in it as to have forgotten the limitations of reality. (I mean we're not going to invade China any time soon.)

Further, I'd say that nobody as religious as Dubya would make the mistake of believing that human perfection can be achieved in this world. In fact, Christianity teaches exactly the opposite. But it also teaches us to do the best we can. I think that's what Dubya is doing.

Besides, the Inaugural is the time to pull out all the rhetorical stops. The point of the address is to set the tone, to define the broad theme of the new Administration. That theme is the advancement of freedom in the world, surely a noble and worthy cause. The details of what we actually can or can't, should or shouldn't do will be threshed out later on.

Posted by Robert at 10:17 AM | Comments (5)

Carry Me Back To Ol' Virginny - Part III

It's the Storm of the Century of the Week!

... Winter Storm Watch remains in effect from Saturday morning to Sunday morning...

A storm diving down from the High Plains will bring snow to the
region Saturday and Saturday night. Snow is expected to begin in
eastern West Virginia before dawn Saturday... and overspread the mid
Atlantic region during Saturday morning. It is possible that some
warmer air may enter the atmosphere during Saturday
afternoon... causing the snow to possibly mix with sleet near
Washington DC... and perhaps even a period of freezing rain further
south near Charlottesville. Further north... across central
Maryland..northern Virginia and eastern West Virginia... precipitation
is expected to remain as snow. Later Saturday evening the
precipitation is expected to change back everywhere to all
snow... before ending as snow showers Sunday morning.

Preliminary forecast snow totals range from 1 to 3 inches near
Charlottesville... 3 to 5 inches in Washington DC... 4 to 6 inches in
Baltimore..and 4 to 8 inches in western Maryland. These totals may be
increased or lowered later today depending upon the forecast track of
the storm.

I haven't been out yet, but I guar-on-tee that the lines are already forming for purchase of batteries, bottled water and other emergency gear.

The Virginia State Motto: Snow! Run for your lives!

UPDATE: Lest any of our readers downstate get too irate, I should clarify that I believe this is a phenomenon confined for the most part to that Happy Werld known as Northern Virginia. People around here tend to be (how shall I say?) somewhat insulated from reality. So when Nature actually asserts herself, my hot-house fellow citizens tend to panic. This is one of the things that gets our region so disliked by the rest of the state.

Posted by Robert at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

Carry Me Back To Ol' Virginny - Part II

I'm off to get my driver's license renewed this morning.

For many people, this would provide a perfect opportunity for kvetching, but I have always found my run-ins with the gov'mint of the great Commonwealth of Virginia to be painless and professional. Last time I renewed, I zipped right in and out, despite the fact that the DMV bureau was crawling with customers, most of whom apparently could not speak English. Similarly, Virginia always gets our tax refund back to us quickly (far faster than the Feds) and one year even amended our return on its own initiative to save us some money.

The only exception to this pleasant rule of thumb seems to come with the State Police. Not too long ago, one of their troopers damn near killed me and my family by bolting out on to I-95 from the left shoulder right in front of us. Another time, as I crawled around an accident site in the middle of a raging thunderstorm, a trooper came all the way over to tap on my windshield because my inspection sticker was expired. Jerk.

Then there was the time we got a letter from the State Police stating that we had been flagged going through the EZ Pass toll booth lane on the Dulles Toll Road in excess of 45 mph and not to do it again. But since the EZ Pass was registered in the Missus' name - and the letter was therefore addressed to her, I didn't feel too put out about that one. Heh. (This was before we had kids, btw. Now, the thought of being left alone with them in the event the Missus got carted off fills me with unalloyed horror. Given that, I have designated myself as the official family Sidney Carton. No matter who is at fault, I'll take the rap.)

Having given the DMV props, I've now probably put a hex on the whole thing. We shall see.

UPDATE: My faith in the Virginia DMV is preserved. I got in before the lunchtime push and got my business done in 15 minutes. I even got a half-way decent picture this time. It is truly strange to have a license now that won't expire until the year 2010.

Posted by Robert at 09:38 AM | Comments (2)

Carry Me Back To Ol' Virginny - Part I

My pal Marjorie the Unclimber sends along this piece of Legislation for the Ages:

HOUSE BILL NO. 2579 Offered January 12, 2005 Prefiled January 12, 2005

A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 7.1-40.7:1, relating to emblems of the Commonwealth; designation of the state bat.

Patrons-- Stump, Baskerville, Ebbin, Keister, Lingamfelter, Phillips and Pollard; Senator: Puckett

Referred to Committee on General Laws
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 7.1-40.7:1 as follows:

§ 7.1-40.7:1. Official bat.

The Virginia Big-eared bat (plecotus townsendii virginianus) is hereby designated as the official bat of the Commonwealth.

I'm filing this one in the Mostly Harmless catagory. Will it mean that we can get license plates with Virginia Big-eared bats on them? That might be kinda cool. (You can certainly get one with the state butterfly - the yellow tiger swallowtail - so I don't see why not.)

As it happens, I'm rather fond of bats. We have a good many of them around here and in the summertime it's very nice to sit out on the porch at dusk and watch them flittering about.

Once when I was in high school in San Antonio, I took a trip with the local Sierra Club out into the badlands to the southwest of town to visit some giant bat caves. I forget what kind of bats they were or how many umpteen million of them were said to roost there, but I'll never forget them coming out at sunset - a thick, thick ribbon of flying rats, winding its way off into the distance. I can't remember how long it took to empty out the caves, but it seemed like hours. Truly an amazing sight.

Posted by Robert at 09:22 AM | Comments (5)

January 20, 2005

I'll Take "Pains In The Backside" For $50, Alex

Just in case you were wondering, changing sheets on a bunk bed pushed lengthwise against a wall is a very unpleasant chore.

Also, in case you were wondering, if small kiddies empty a piggybank all over the floor, it is far less aggrevating just to pick up the coins yourself than it is to try and ride herd on their efforts to do so.

Finally, you may be interested to note that if your three year old snaps one of the spindles on the back of a Winsor chair and you glue it back on and then the three year old later grabs it and pulls again, the glue-line will hold and the wood will snap along a fresh fissure.

Posted by Robert at 07:55 PM | Comments (8)

The Inauguration - Very Quick Impression

I'm sure Dubya's speech will get mined for blogsphere commentary for some time to come. I'll let Steve-O have the lion's share of space here for it, since he is, after all, a pro. As for my own two cent snap judgment, overall I was quite impressed with Dubya's call to actively pursue global freedom. Some people are dismissing this as idealistic Wilsonian foolishness, but what Dubya also made clear was that we do this not out of abstract motives of goodness but, in the end, for the very pragmatic reason of our own self-defense. Will we have the strength to stick it out and do the things that need to be done? We shall see.

On a completely different note - poor old Bill Rehnquist! I admire him for staggering out to administer the oath but, my gosh, what with his frail condition and the rasping of that breathing-tube thingy, he sounded just like Anniken Skywalker after Luke got his helmet off.

Posted by Robert at 02:45 PM | Comments (4)

Completely Random Llama Mental Snapshot

Kathy is harassing me about not posting today owing to Dee Cee being shut down for the Inaugural. (She calls me a slacker when I don't post but she also compares me to a case of the crabs when I do. Wimmin - who can figure 'em?)

Well just to show her and the other half dozen of you that I haven't completely abandoned my literary obligations, I am now going to post some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind in the past few hours:

1. I used to hate Herblock's editorial cartoons in the WaPo. Not only did I dislike his heavy handed style (hint to would-be political cartoonists: if you have to pad out your cartoons with multiple word boxes, you're simply demonstrating your inability to get your point across visually) and his weepy old-fashioned Big Government liberalism. But Tom Toles, who has replaced him as the regular op-ed page cartoonist, is a f*cking moron. Today's piece features the U.S. ship of state sailing towards an Iraqi-style elected theocracy.

2. Nothing says "frittered away Wednesday night" like watching Atomic Train on the Sci-Fi channel. This was a very bad made for tee vee movie about Denver getting nuked. The hero is played by - wait for it - Rob Lowe. See, Rob? There is a God. And he doesn't like you very much. Ha ha ha!

3. Okay all you New BSG fans, I'm going to make you a deal. I am going to sit down Friday night and watch the latest episode. I am going to do so with a very open mind. I am, in short, going to give it another chance. The Llama Military Correspondent made a very valid point about Star Trek: Next Generation starting out awful and later settling down. I hated the BSG miniseries but am going to cut the regular series another chance. Ain't I a nice guy?

4. Nonetheless, I'm going to keep up with my Must Re-See Tee Vee series because it's a lot of fun.

5. The prospect of commuting home last evening - between the snow and the Inaugural crowds - filled me with dread. But by the time I left work, almost everyone else had already cleared out. Very few cars on the streets. The Metro was practically empty. When I got to my car out in Falls Church, traffic was equally light. Mmmmmm, nice. And a jeep in four-wheel drive kicks ass on snow.

But then I hit McLean. I stopped at the wine store to pick up supplies. It's only about three miles from my house. Nonetheless, it took me nearly an hour to get home from there. Grrrrrrrr. (And a special message to the driver of that dark blue PT Cruiser - learn to drive in snow or get the hell off the road! )

6. I got to spend some time fiddling around with seed catalogs this morning and realized that there really isn't that much for me to plant this year other than some fillers for the fronts of the borders in my sunny perennial garden. Yeek. Time to start thinking about preparing some new beds so that at long last I can put in the foxglove, delphineum and lupine that I really want to do.

7. Our five year old marched downstairs and made herself some breakfast this morning without any help. Yay! Our soon-to-be seven year old decided she had to top this by making some breakfast for Mommy in bed. Her creation was toast with butter and gummy bears. In managing to weasel out of having to eat all of this without at the same time discouraging and disappointing the child, the Butcher's Wife displayed her talents as a master diplomat. Dubya ought to appoint her ambassador somewhere.

8. Yesterday, I actually censored myself for the very first time, deciding not to go with a certain post because I was afraid it would offend people's political sensibilities. I must say that I feel rather troubled about this. More later. Maybe.

9. Well, it's time to suit up the Llama-ettes and go out to play in the snow. (We got maybe two inches yesterday.) The forecast is now calling for a much bigger storm Saturday and Sunday. We'll see - Washington weathermen are addicted to predicting what I call the Storm of the Century of the Week.

There! That ought to give you something to ponder for a while. I promise that I'll be back later.

Posted by Robert at 10:33 AM | Comments (7)

Today's Required Reading

Good news - Paul Gigot is back at the Wall Street Journal with one of his Potomac Watch columns. He notes that the Republicans now have a golden opportunity to truly govern and asks whether they're up to the challenge. I ask myself the same thing often.

I don't know if this is going to be a regular thing or is just a special treat for Inaugural Day. In either case, go read.

Posted by Robert at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2005

Exit Hurridly, Pursued By A Bear

Think I'm going to be anywhere near downtown Dee Cee tomorrow? Not bloody likely!

In 2001, my firm, which was then located on Pennsylvania Avenue, had an Inaugural Parade Party. I managed to glimpse Dubya's armor-plated limo as it whizzed by. So far as I'm concerned, that's good enough for me. I'll watch tomorrow's festivities (maybe) on tee-vee. The idea of being squished into the sea of actual spectators, especially given the weather, and after having to fight my way in from the Virginia suburbs, frankly gives me the willies. (I have the same reaction to the idea of coming down to the Mall to watch the 4th of July fireworks. Thanks but no thanks.) Oddly, the whole What If Something Happens thing really doesn't factor into this. It's really just a function of time, effort and discomfort.

Anyway, I always like watching parades on tee vee. And sometimes, something special happens. I remember watching the parade for Bush 41 on NBC. Willard Scott was down at street level. As George and Barbara walked past him, he shouted something like, "Hey, Babs! We love you!" Barbara, who was a good twenty yards away, heard Scott, turned aside, came up to him and planted a big kiss on his cheek. Scott was positively thunderstruck - he couldn't do anything but turn back to the camera with one of the goofiest looks I've ever seen on his face and giggle. The entire studio crew was equally speechless for several seconds. I cherish this memory even now.

While I don't think Laura is going to kiss anybody from the press, there is always the chance that Dubya will punch one of them.

Hey - It could happen.

Later, y'all!

Posted by Robert at 04:42 PM | Comments (3)

This Is Why You Should Never Pick Your Nose In Public

Walt at Truth, Lies and Common Sense links to a coo-el (and slightly alarming) piece of digital surveillance.

Posted by Robert at 11:49 AM | Comments (1)

Big Llama Yips!

Thanks to Mr. Colossus for his nice plug of your humble Llamas. (The check is in the mail.) I'd leave a suitable comment over at his site, but I still haven't figured out why TypeKey won't let me register there.

Posted by Robert at 11:24 AM | Comments (2)

Cardinal Biggles, Poke Him With The Soft Cushion!

From Byzantium's Shores (via Lynn S), it's another list meme. Below the fold is presented somebody's list of the 50 Worst Songs of All Time. (I have to admit I haven't even heard half of them.) Your confessional task - bold the ones you like. As always, I also provide commentary where I see fit.

1. We Built This City ... Starship
2. Achy Breaky Heart ... Billy Ray Cyrus (Why does everyone think this is so bad? There's nothing much to it, but it's not unpleasant to listen to.)
3. Everybody Have Fun Tonight ... Wang Chung
4. Rollin' ... Limp Bizkit
5. Ice Ice Baby ... Vanilla Ice
6. The Heart of Rock & Roll ... Huey Lewis and the News
7. Don't Worry, Be Happy ... Bobby McFerrin
8. Party All the Time ... Eddie Murphy
9. American Life ... Madonna
10. Ebony and Ivory ... Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
11. Invisible ... Clay Aiken
12. Kokomo ... The Beach Boys - Eh, it's okay. Ever seen the Muppets' lip-sync video of it?
13. Illegal Alien ... Genesis
14. From a Distance ... Bette Midler
15. I'll Be There for You ... The Rembrandts
16. What's Up? ... 4 Non Blondes
17. Pumps and a Bump ... Hammer
18. You're the Inspiration ... Chicago - Not their best, but I've always loved their sound. Bad Chicago is better than the best of a lot of other bands.
19. Broken Wings ... Mr. Mister
20. Dancing on the Ceiling ... Lionel Richie
21. Two Princes ... Spin Doctors
22. Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American) ... Toby Keith - Anything that gets the Libs upset makes me smile.
23. Sunglasses at Night ... Corey Hart - Ha, ha. This was the theme for my little brother's high school prom. Classic 80's stuff.
24. Superman ... Five for Fighting
25. I'll Be Missing You ... Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans and 112
26. The End ... The Doors
27. The Final Countdown ... Europe
28. Your Body Is a Wonderland ... John Mayer
29. Breakfast at Tiffany's ... Deep Blue Something
30. Greatest Love of All ... Whitney Houston
31. Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm ... Crash Test Dummies
32. Will 2K ... Will Smith
33. Barbie Girl ... Aqua
34. Longer ... Dan Fogelberg
35. Shiny Happy People ... R.E.M.
36. Make Em Say Uhh! ... Master P featuring Silkk, Fiend, Mia-X and Mystikal
37. Rico Suave ... Gerardo
38. Cotton Eyed Joe ... Rednex - I've never heard this. But I love the original "Cotton Eye Joe" and even remember some line-dance steps to it.
39. She Bangs ... Ricky Martin
40. I Wanna Sex You Up ... Color Me Badd
41. We Didn't Start the Fire ... Billy Joel
42. The Sound of Silence ... Simon & Garfunkel - Pretentious? Moi? But again, I like their sound.
43. Follow Me ... Uncle Kracker
44. I'll Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That) ... Meat Loaf
45. Mesmerize ... Ja Rule featuring Ashanti
46. Hangin' Tough ... New Kids on the Block
47. The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You ... Bryan Adams
48. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da ... The Beatles - Is this so awful? Fun, I'd have said.
49. I'm Too Sexy ... Right Said Fred
50. My Heart Will Go On ... Celine Dion

Posted by Robert at 11:11 AM | Comments (9)

It's A Snowflake - Run For Your Lives!

Well, it's snowing here in Your Nation's Capital for the first time this season and already people in my office are acting as if a glacier had just rolled across the Beltway.

Ah, one of the great Dee-Cee winter traditions!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that it was the forcast of today's snow that finally impelled me to put the rear window panel back on my jeep last night. I always delay this as long as possible in the winter, in part because I like the open air and in part because it's a colossal pain in the backside. Unfortunately, stone-cold canvas and plastic does not take kindly to being stretched and it took a good forty-five minutes of skinned knuckles and bad language to get the job done.

Posted by Robert at 10:53 AM | Comments (1)

Oh Sadie, Sadie

My acting career outed. Actually, since I aim for the really high-brow roles, I usually go by "Exclusive Richard." But thanks for the thought!

Posted by Robert at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

Must Re-See Tee Vee - Part 2

Coming soon....

C.S.I. - Hazzard County - In this updated version, Bo and Luke are required by the terms of their parole to put every ounce of their down home acumen to work solving the kinds of cases that can only happen in the Georgia backwoods. Daisy is no longer a ditzy barmaid, but is now the lesbo-necrophiliac yet uncorruptable county coroner who backs them up. Roscoe P. Coltraine (James Earl Jones) is a tough, by-the-book sheriff who resents the Boys' unorthodox method. Boss Hogg (Martin Sheen) is now a far more complicated and nuanced character. He's ruthless and vicious in his illicit business dealings. Only in the company of his lover Cooter does he feel safe enough to reveal the anguish deep inside his troubled heart. Also, good-bye Uncle Jesse, hello Aunt Oprah!

Be sure to check your local listings.

Posted by Robert at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2005

Where's Waldo?

Some bizarrely funny times around the LLama Cave as of late.

First of all, LLama 4.0 has not yet arrived. He was giving us a little prank over the weekend, but as of now we're still awaiting the scheduled delivery on the 31st. High spirits abound among the kiddies, the saintly Mrs. LLamabutcher is doing okay, and I've been only going through a bottle of Robitussen a day, so things are going okay.

The past two weeks I've been insanely productive, finishing up this article I've been working on about Thomas Jefferson and the removal of the Southern Indians. I'm going to do a long-ish series of posts coming up, with some pretty damning stuff on the continuing perfidious weaselry of our third president. Of course, this required me to completely miss Orglegate II, not to mention the whole debate over neopimpicons. Personally, I'm a Neo-Khan, but that's just me, Mister Vegas.

The semester starts Thursday, but tomorrow we have an insanely stupid series of mandatory meetings. They can make me go, but they can't keep me from sitting in the back row and blogging.....

Needless to say, I'd like to slap down the mega Yips to Rob for the high quality blogging of late while I've been sequestered in the library. Over the fall, we were averaging 25+ posts a day, which was a pace that just was not going to hold over time. I'd better stop now, because I can here INDCent Bill wretching at the prospect of me getting out the Donny Osmond mic and start singing "You are the wind beneath my [blogging] wings" to Rob.

So tomorrow, expect the return of snarky professorial japery delivered in my native dialect of Poltroononics.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Steve at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

Is Steve-O In Jail Yet?

That is the obvious question - in fact the one asked by Dr. Rusty when he sent it - that arises from this article in the Fredericksburg (VA) Free Lance-Star on poli-sci department emailers gone bad.

(No, this isn't really Steve's school, so don't get too excited.)

But the article also brings me around to a point that has bothered me for some time. For years and years, Mary Washington College was perfectly happy with its name. Last year, in conjunction with bringing in some grad program or other, the school decided it needed a name upgrade. So did it change to "Mary Washington University" as it logically should have done? Nooooo! It went instead with The University of Mary Washington. (You can go here for a fact sheet full of song and dance about how this was necessary in order to preserve the identity of the liberal arts college in Fredericksburg while incorporating the grad campus in Stafford, yadda, yadda, yadda.)

Grrr, I say. This name just sounds wrong. That formula ought to be reserved for place names, as in the University of Virginia, the University of the South and the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople. (Don't bother sending comments about the College of William & Mary (aka, among some of us here in Virginny, as "Bill and the Bitch"). That's different. W&M was originally chartered by them.)

Know how I know I'm not completely off base on this one? Because the Butcher's Wife, who usually just rolls her eyes at my rantings, is even more adamant about it than I am.

YIPS from Steve: Heh. My evilness knows no boundaries.

Seriously, though, when all is said and done, I've got $5 that says the sender was a Chomskyite who was trying to "raise consciousness" with the fake but accurate email......

Posted by Robert at 05:07 PM | Comments (1)

More Literary Madness

From Mixolydian Don comes the latest meme. Take the list of first lines of poetry below. Keep the ones that are familiar. Delete those that are not and replace them with your own. Bold your changes.

1. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

2. I have a gumby-cat in mind (No, not the goddam "Cats" version)

3. Full many a glorious morning have I seen

4. Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

5. Do not go gentle into that good night,

6. In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree

7. How do I love thee, let me count the ways

8. Half a league, half a league,

9. Hence loathèd Melancholy

10. ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

This one was tricky for me because I really don't read very much poetry. If some of mine seem warhorses, you'll understand why.

Okay, kids. Your turn.

Posted by Robert at 04:25 PM | Comments (6)

Happy Birthday, Cary Grant!


(Neener, Neener! We scooped Sheila!)

Yes, today is the birthday of one of my favorite actors of all time. Here's a page full o' stuff about him. Lots more is available elsewhere.

I don't have anything particularly insightful to say about the man except this - he had that combination of grace, wit and charm that makes him a pleasure to watch even in a movie I otherwise dislike (and here I'm thinking of the preposterously sappy An Affair to Remember).

Of the ones I've seen, Holiday continues to be my all-time favorite. But many others are right up there, including His Girl Friday, North By Northwest, Philadelphia Story and Charade.

UPDATE: You didn't think she was going to miss the occasion, did you? And I could make a fortune in bar bets backing the probability that she'd mention Bringing Up Baby.

Posted by Robert at 02:07 PM | Comments (4)

Girls, Girls, Girls

Hearty Yips! go out to our Llama Military Correspondent and Mrs. LMC on the birth of their daughter yesterday afternoon. Also heartfelt thanks again that they've asked me to stand as godfather. (The Butcher's Wife thinks I'm only kidding that I have to convert to Rome in order to do this. Ha, ha, ha.)

This latest addition will bring my total up to three daughters and two goddaughters.

When I was younger than I am, I used to wish that some day I would be surrounded by lots of beautiful young ladies. It strikes me now that Providence has a very droll sense of humor.

Posted by Robert at 12:40 PM | Comments (1)

Attention All Sci-Fi Babe Fans

JohnL is taking nominations for a "Babes of Dr. Who" poll over at TexasBestGrok. Leela is already in but there are a couple more slots to fill. My nominee vote is for Lalla Ward's Romana. (The pic in the link isn't very good. Here is a whole mess of better ones.)

For everyone who has been pestering John about this, now's your chance to be heard.

Posted by Robert at 11:44 AM | Comments (2)

Musty Re-See Tee Vee - Part I

Judging by the comments taking issue with my rant against the new Battlestar Galactica series, there apparently is absolutely nothing wrong with pillaging an old teevee show of its characters and plots, refashioning them and serving up the revision as a new series. I had thought this demonstrated a lack of respect for the original, a cynical desire to bait-and-switch its fans into watching the new version and a lack of confidence in the writers' ability to come up with their own ideas. My mistake.

In the spirit of No Hard Feelings, I've decided to start a new occassional series in which I offer similarly updated characters and plotlines from other tee-vee shows of my youth. Here is the first installment:

All In The Family - Now set in post-9/11 Queens. Archie Bunker was so traumatized by the attacks on the Twin Towers - which he witnessed from a near-by construction site - that he is now regularly visited by visions of the victims, who bring him prophetic wisdom. Unfortunately, his Cassandra-like warnings about "dem ferriners" are always ignored until it is too late. Edith, meanwhile, a gutsy woman with razor-sharp intelligence, has been elected to the Borough Council, where she fights an endless battle against anti-Muslim prejudice. This frequently brings explosive conflict to the Bunkers' living room. Meathead, in a burst of unexpected patriotism, has joined the Marines where he is now a top intel officer. And in a twist ripped from, well something, we learn that Gloria has been an Al Qaeda sleeper agent for years and has now been "activated" to perform a mysterious mission of cataclysmic proportions that Meathead has only thirty-six hours (inflation, you know) to discover and stop....

Lost In Space - Much darker than the original and at the same time much more sultry. (Critics are already dubbing it "Lust" in Space.) Judy, killed in a freak launch accident, is the ghostly narrator of the series. Major West is now a woman with a hard body and an even harder attitude. She also has a passion for both John and Maureen Robinson (both of whom are much younger than previously and black) and much of the series focuses on the ways in which the members of this love triangle come to terms with their relationships. In order to add political "spice" to the show, Penny is a radical environmentalist who has come to believe that Humanity is a virus that will fatally contaminate the pristine environment of every planet on which it lands. Will is a rebellious drug addict who finds solace in the wisdom of hip-hop. The tension between him and his parents makes for powerful drama. Dr. Smith is no longer a whiney, scheming weasel, but instead, as played by Whoopi Goldberg, is a font of oracular wisdom to whom the rest of the crew constantly turn for answers in time of crisis. And for comic relief, the Robot is a straight rip-off of Bender.

Hogan's Heroes - Instead of intelligence gathering and sabotage, Col. Hogan puts his enormous creative talents and energies into producing graphic porn. (Oops! That's been done already!)

Be sure to check your local listings.

Posted by Robert at 11:18 AM | Comments (7)


Mmmm....Adrienne Barbeau.....mmmmmm......

Posted by Robert at 09:55 AM | Comments (2)

January 15, 2005

Barney's Awakening

(Author's Note: I was chatting with my real-life pal Marjorie the Unclimber at the Littlest Llama-ette's birthday party today about Marjorie's recent posts in praise of Barney. I mentioned to her a cherished dream episode I've had for some time and she urged me to commit it to pixels. The following is the result.)

It was a beautiful summer's day.

The kids, Timmy, Janie and the Twins, met at the playground.

"What shall we do today?" asked Timmy.

"I know! Let's ask Barney!" replied Janie.

"Yaaaaaaay!!" all the children shouted.

There was a sudden flash of rainbow light, followed by that familiar purple giggle.

"Baaaarneeeey!!!!" they cheered.

"Hello there, kids! I'm so glad to see you! Oh, my. I've got an absolutely super-dee-duper idea!"

"What is is?" the children exclaimed excitedly.

"Well," said Barney, "I always come here to play with you. How would you like it if today I took you to my world?"

"Yay!" they all said. In a flash, they were whisked away to Barney's home. It turned out to be a hot and steamy place, full of lush plants and bright flowers.

"Oooh," said Timmy, "I can see why you always tell us not to litter. Your world is sooooo green and happy!"

"Thaaaat's right!" laughed Barney happily. "It's so nice to have so many trees and bushes around. That way, no one can see you coming!"

"Oh, are we going to play hide-and-seek?" Janie asked.

Barney laughed again. "Oh, I hope it won't come to that," he said.

"Golly, Barney," said the Twins, "Is this really your home?"

"It certainly is," said Barney, "And you know something? Home is where the heart is. I've been spending so much time here lately and learning so many wonderful things about myself!"

"Wow," said Janie,"you mean like how loving and caring and fun you really are?"

"That's the really wonderful thing about it," smiled Barney. "I know all that already. But here, I've found out some different things!"

"That you're a good painter?" asked Timmy.

"Noooooo.....," said Barney.

"That you can juggle?" asked Janie.

"Oooh, not that!" replied Barney.

"That you can do magic tricks?" asked the Twins.

"Not even close!" laughed Barney, "No, what I've learned is that all these years of laughing and sharing, kissing and hugging, singing and dancing, and just generally being as sugary and non-threatening as possible have been a terrible, terrible mistake."

"Huh?" said the kids.

"Thaaaat's right!" said Barney, "You see, here in my world, there are lots of different dinosaurs. Big ones and small ones, tall ones and short ones, fast ones and slow ones. But what makes me different from them is that none of them has ever had to deliver slurpy little homilies designed to let parents abandon their children in front of the teevee guilt free, and to strip those children of every natural instinct for self preservation and betterment, including competitiveness, toughness, critical thinking and self-respect, replacing them with delusional visions of a world where everyone is warm and cuddly, no one is any better or worse than anyone else and bad things never, ever happen"

"Wow," said Timmy, "What do they do instead?"

"Oh, it's wonderfully stark!" laughed Barney, "All the dinosaurs here spend their time constantly struggling for survival! The plant-eaters spend every waking moment stuffing as many greens into their gullets as possible, all the time keeping their eyes open for dangerous predators. Meanwhile, the meat-eaters spend their time constantly hunting for prey - while at the same time making sure that they don't become meals themselves for someone even bigger! Here, Nature is red in tooth and claw. Isn't that wonderful?"

"But Barney," said the kids, "Why is that wonderful?"

Barney laughed yet again. "Why, that's the great thing about it! Don't you see? I'm a Tyrannosaurus! I'm at the tip-top of the food chain! All the world here trembles before me. Whatever I see, I can eat!"

"Oooh," said the kids.

"And here's the absolutely most super-dee-duper part of all," laughed Barney further, "I realized that all these years - in all those videos, movies, stage shows and special appearances - surrounded as I've been by literally thousands of cast and crew members, special guests and fans, why....I've been knee-deep in lunch!"

"Um, Barney....?" said the kids.

"Thaaaat's right!" shouted Barney happily, "Now that you're here, we're not going to play a game, sing a song, do a skit or use our imaginations....Instead, I'm going to eat you - now!"

"Aiyeeeee!!!" wailed the kids as they froze in their tracks, utterly unable through years of conditioning to cope with such a sudden and unexpected threat.

Barney quickly fell upon them. The Twins he snatched up in two quick bites, crunching and bolting them like a retriever sneaking a woodcock. Next, he turned on Janie, gleefully pinning her to the ground with one adorable claw while tearing her into shreds.

Timmy, by this time realizing that he was next, took off at a run, dashing blindly through the dense foliage of ferns and evergreens. Behind him, he could now hear the crash of branches and the rhythmic stomping of heavy feet as Barney, chuckling heartily from his blood-spattered mouth, came thundering in pursuit.

Suddenly, a stark cliff face brought Timmy to a halt. A quick glance left and right revealed that he had blundered into a narrow gully, a dead-end from which there was no escape. With terror in his heart, coupled with bitter thoughts of the unwitting betrayal his family had committed by allowing him ever to become associated with this heretofore hidden menace, he turned to face his approaching doom. There at the narrow entrance to the gully stood the large, purple form that Timmy had for so long associated with comfort, safety and love, and which he now knew had rejected the false, saccharined image it had previously worn and had replaced it with a cold, ruthless brutality that, even amidst his terror, Timmy somehow understood was the Real Barney. Bravely squaring his shoulders, taking some small comfort in the notion that his last view of the world would at least be an honest one, Timmy awaited the approach of his death.

For an instant, Barney paused. He seemed to nod ever so slightly, as if he too sensed Timmy's last minute enlightenment and saluted him for his decision to die with his eyes open. Then Barney began to stalk toward his victim, the last for the moment, but certainly one of the first for the future. As he did so, he began to sing:

I'll eat you,
(I'm a car-ni-vore, you see)
With a great big "chomp!"
and a couple little chews (Smack!)
Now it's time you be - my - food!

Posted by Robert at 09:00 PM | Comments (9)

January 14, 2005

Gratuitous Musickal Blegging

I'm thinking of buying the complete set of Mendelssohn's symphonies. Anybody out there have some pro or con recommendations about any particular recordings?

Posted by Robert at 05:22 PM | Comments (5)

Just for the Hell Of It

INDCent Bill is posting more about the issue of bloggers as paid activists and/or independent commentators, yadda, yadda, yadda. You can go read the whole thing if you want, but in order to save you some time and get to the heart of what he's on about, allow me to present the Dowdified Version:

1. .....I certainly devoted myself ........ last year, but Pennywit is correct about the different motivation for punditry...Mine just springs from my anal[]...background.

2. No ......... relationship ..........came across my plate. No one has offered [to] tap [my] fingers, look at [my] watch, softly whistle [at me] with a come hither stare.

3. I wouldn't be opposed to accepting ..........Llama.... action, for one thing. [Ed. - Ain't. Gonna. Happen.]

Why are the rules different for ...........me......? Because .......m...y..... stick[] ....... immediately morphs[?]....

I'm ........ particularly incensed about Kos....... ..... [A]lways known that .........his ........ was large[]...... Perhaps my lack .......is ......spurred by ......the Vermont screamer.......

But frankly, honest.........I'd... do...... Matthew Yglesias.....

That worth $8?

Posted by Robert at 02:24 PM | Comments (5)

Pahmp You Ahp!

I've had quite a few emails asking, "Dave, how's that new exercise program working out?"

Super! Thanks for asking!

Actually, it really is. I started working out last week in the gym in the basement of my building. Being an endorphine junky and having been on the wagon for a while, so to speak, I am reveling in the return of my daily fix.

One thing I'm doing, which I've never tried before, is a lot of work on ellipticals. I've got bad knees and really can't run any more. Treadmills and stairmasters are okay, but they still cause a fair amount of complaint in the ol' joints. But the elliptical seems to get around the problem of excessive pounding. It is nice, for a change, to feel like my leg muscles are getting a solid workout while, at the same time, not to feel like my knees are going to fold the wrong way.

Another thing is my reunion with an old friend, the Concept II rowing ergometer:


I use the term "old friend" here in the sense that James T. Kirk and Khan were old friends. I hated doing erg pieces when I rowed crew in college. (In fact, I had a t-shirt that read "Put An Erg On The Water And It Sinks." ) But since I'm not doing it competitively now and the machine is not so hell-bent on killing me, relations are a bit better.

All and all, I am quite pleased, as I say. Most importantly, I discovered that the chest twinges that I was beginning to suspect were a developing angina were merely stress-induced, the product of being put in charge of my first federal district court lawsuit. They've gone completely since I started working out again. (Yes, Mom and Dad, I'm still going in for a checkup.)

Of course, as with all gyms, there are the usual drawbacks. For one, the music they blast into the place, is horrid - mostly hip-hop. How one is expected to concentrate with "Yo, Yo, Yo, You go MoFo" pounding in one's ears is beyond me. Also, there is always at least one gnarly naked dude in the locker room who wanders around utterly without any self-conscience. "Spare us, Man, for the love of God!" one wants to yell.

Ah, well. It's all for the good of the cause. What price a Hunky Llama?

Posted by Robert at 12:56 PM | Comments (5)

Hypothetical Non-Luddite Bleg

Let's just say that I wanted to break down and buy a digital camera, one that would allow me to post pics here.

What would be good makes and models and how much might I expect to pay for one?

Jess' askin'.

UPDATE: Lawks! Those things are still pretty pricey, aren't they? Tell ya what - all y'all hit the tipjar and pitch in and I'll make it worth your while.......

Posted by Robert at 12:29 PM | Comments (7)

The Sea Wolf

Speedy takes El Gamo, May 6, 1801

I like this. Tim Worstall brings news of a ceremony in the Catalan town of Roses honoring Thomas, Lord Cochrane, the real-life inspiration for both Horatio Hornblower and Lucky Jack Aubrey.

I happen to have a copy of Cochrane's autobiography and can heartily endorse Tim's suggestion that you read it. One thing that distinguishes Cochrane from both Hornblower and Aubrey - he was a manic, flamboyant self-publicist. Also, as I recall, Patrick O'Brian was at least agnostic about Cochrane's innocence with respect to his stock-rigging trial, even though O'Brian made Jack Aubrey completely so.

One other thing - The first Aubrey/Maturin novel, Master and Commander, reaches its climax with a fight between the little 14-gun brig Sophie and the 32-gun Spanish xebec-frigate, Cacafuego. (BTW, is O'Brian really making the crude joke I think he is with that name?) This action is taken literally shot for shot from Cochrane's own exploit. His ship was named the Speedy and the Spanish ship was named El Gamo.

UPDATE: Found a painting of the action between the Speedy and El Gamo. Here is a little more biographical info about Cochrane straight from the Royal Navy.

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

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

Today is Llama-ette No. 3's third birthday. Happy Birthday, indeed!

This morning, despite the fact that she seems to have picked up a touch of the flu, she was parading about with a tiara and scepter and insisting on being called "Birthday Girl." If I know anything about her, she will continue to insist on this title all day. Furthermore, given her rather strong personality, I don't doubt that her classmates and teachers will comply with her wishes. (Birthday Girl, if you will, neatly combines the imperious stubborness of her eldest sister with the self-contained sweetness of the next younger. She is not at all unkind or overly self-centered, but when she wants something she is increasingly adept at using whatever combination of the velvet glove and the iron fist she believes to be appropriate to the situation. And because she is so big for her age - 85th and 90th percentile in height and weight, respectively, according to this week's check-up - while at the same time possessing curly hair, enormous blue eyes and a ready smile, she has considerable leeway in deciding which tools to use.)

The big party is tomorrow. This time around, we're holding it at our house. On the one hand, this is a pain because of all the cleaning and whatnot that we need to do in order to get ready. On the other hand, it's very nice because we don't have to go anywhere. For entertainment, we are having in Peter McCory to sing and play for the kiddies. The gels saw him perform at the local library last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since then, his "Fingernail Fairy" CD has become a standard around the Butcher's House. I'd recommend it, especially to all of you parents who are sick to death of Raffi. I am actually looking forward to hearing him. Of course, I'll let you know how it goes.

UPDATE: JohnL has some nice reflections on watchin' em grow up. But I don't remember Limbaugh ever saying anything like that.

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

January 13, 2005

Extremely Cranky Sci-Fi Posting

In the spirit of open-mindedness, I sincerely tried again to watch the Sci-Fi Channel's rerun of the new Battlestar Galactica mini-series. (I sat through it last time it ran.)

This time I lasted about ten minutes. Let me be clear about this - this is a terrible, terrible thing.


This is right.


This is wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Words fail me.

Everything that made the old series worth watching has been completely junked. What's left isn't worth the price of the electricity to keep the tee-vee running. And they can't even keep the goddam camera still. Do they realize how sick-making that is?

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do it. This remake is a perfect example of why.

UPDATE: The admittedly annoying Boxie/Daggit combo notwithstanding, the ruling on the field stands.

UPDATE DEUX: Welcome INDCent Bill fans. Bill doesn't like my outbursts of flag-nailed-to-the-mast traditionalism very much. (In fact, I have it on very good authority that he shot out his computer screen the last time I "dissed" Mr. "Snoop Dogg.") But I think his pic actually proves we're much less uptight around here than he accuses us of being. I mean, c'mon - a Llama Menage a Trois? An Orgle Orgy? (And note - I even took off my tie!) I should think that would entitle us to some pretty massive cred with the libertarian crowd.

UPDATE TROIS: Some interesting comments so far. (Note to Bill: no Jebus-baiting here, please.) Of course, I heartily agree that Galactica '80 was a travesty. In fact, the series quickly ran out of steam - there is only so much you can milk out of a plot line like that.

The new series is entitled, of course, to put whatever interpretation it wants on the genocide story. Fair enough. But why pirate the names and general concepts from the original? Were the writers too gutless to put out their ideas without the padding of brand recognition?

One thing I loved about the old series was its historical perspective. The Cylons were technologically advanced, but they were also, in effect, traditional barbarians, relying on top-down rule, mob tactics and brute force to overwhelm their enemies. It was made clear that the Colonies had fought the Cylons to a standstill by virtue of their superior qualities of civilized humanity (i.e, freedom), which allowed them to be better warriors and a more effective fighting force, even if badly outnumbered. I'm sure Victor David Hanson would have no trouble recognizing in this set-up the legacy of the Greeks vs. the Persians, Cortez vs. the Aztecs, the Brits vs. the Zulus and other examples of the thin red line of Western Civilization holding back the flood of barbarism.

On the flip side, the show also touched on the weakness of Western Civ. The Colonies were simply exhausted by the long war. In the democratic setting of the Counsel of Twelve, this exhaustion led to myopic wishful thinking and politically expedient carelessness which, in turn, provided the opening for Baltar's treachery. The Watch slept and the doors of the citadel were opened from inside. Again, there are ample historical parallels.

Frankly, I can't make heads or tales of the Cylon/Human relationship in the new series. If the Cylons are so hyper-advanced, super-intelligent and independently agile, why didn't they wipe out the Colonies a long time ago? Especially as it seems the humans are so bumbling, petty, loathsome and helpless that it's a wonder they've managed to build what civilization they've got.

I find it rather curious that the original series, which had an optomistic view of the inherent power of humanity and especially civilized humanity, should have aired at the height of the Carter malaise, while the new series, aired during a period of renewed American resolve, should have such an evident air of self-loathing.

UPDATE, Uh, Le FOUR: Bill properly tags me about the Cortez/Aztecs reference as an example of the thin red line. Not a different discussion, just hurried writing. All I meant to do was highlight VDH's point about the inherent superiority of Western European armies over those of barbarians as a cultural product and how that is echoed in the fight between the Colonial Warriors and the Cylons. That's all. The pros and cons of Western European adventurism don't come up in the comparison. (Although, intriguingly, I seem to recall that the origin of the war between the Humans and Cylons was Colonial meddling in the Cylons' efforts to enslave another species and spread their empire. Colonial Neo-Conservatism?)

UPDATE CINQUE: First off, congrats to all who have left comments here. I do believe that thanks to your interest this is the most heavily-commented post we've ever produced.

However, after even further review, the ruling on the field stands. Let me again emphasize why: People have left a lot of intelligent comments about both the cheesiness of the old series (which I've already freely admitted) and the good points of the new series. I'm not going to quibble with those. There may well be perfectly legitimate ideas in the new BSG. But how do I say this? If you're going to do your own version of a post-apocalyptic struggle for human survival in space, get your own damn Battlestar. What I violently object to is the way in which the new series pillages the old one, snatching just enough names, plots and ideas to try and draw in viewers and then twisting those materials to fit its own images and ideas. In other contexts, this is known as bait-and-switch and is, I believe, generally frowned upon. It should be the same here. I'll bet that if someone were to try and do a new Star Trek series, with different actors playing Kirk, Spock and the rest, and a radically different take on its premise, most of you new BSG afficionados would be going ape-sh*t.

You would, now. Wouldn't you?

Posted by Robert at 06:13 PM | Comments (31)

No, That's Not The Sound Of Orgling You Hear

Every time I go visit Julie with a B, I know I'm going to see a new pun posted.

And every time I see a new pun posted, I know I'm going to read it.

And every time I read it, I know my neighbors are going to wonder what that groaning sound is.

Share and enjoy.

Posted by Robert at 02:03 PM | Comments (1)

Speaking of Cherished Books and Movies

Do you think these are the faces of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy?


NarniaWeb is watching the development of the new movie version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (set for release next Christmas) and snagged this pic of the future Kings and Queens of Narnia.

Frankly, I'm moderately hopeful about this production. At least visually, it seems to have the goods. I think the kids look okay, but Tilda Swinton strikes me as damn' near perfect for the White Witch. (Had Nichole Kidman got the part, as was rumored was going to happen, I would have refused point-blank to see the movie.)

As for authenticity, well, who knows. But here's what NarniaWeb has to say about one important question:

Is this going to be a secularized Hollywood version or will C.S. Lewis’ Christian themes stay intact?
It’s no secret that C.S. Lewis was an outspoken Christian and his faith was woven throughout everything he wrote. Narnia is no exception and much of the stories are allegorical in nature. Will Hollywood have its way and strip out Lewis’ spiritual messages? Not so, promises Douglas Gresham, co-producer and stepson of Lewis himself. A committed Christian, Gresham has vowed not to “change the words of the master.” Indeed, Walden Media itself has a track record of family-friendly films so it seems that the film will be in good hands. Many are concerned that Disney's influence will water down the Christian themes which run through the Narnia stories, but it's important to remember that Walden Media is ultimately in charge of the film, not Disney.

Go on over and browse around to find out more.

Posted by Robert at 01:21 PM | Comments (6)

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

Remember how I said the other day that my five year old was the most "girly" of the three Llama-ettes? Well, when I got home last evening, she came bounding up to me and announced that she wanted to take tai-kwan-do lessons. (They're going to be offered free at our racquet club.)

So much for that theory.

As a matter of fact, I think it's a pretty good idea. Sheila had a long piece about teaching children self-defense the other day that kinda weirded me out. While the not-talking-to-strangers lesson is critical, I'd feel a bit more comfortable if the girl also knew more ways to fight it out if, even minding all her P's and Q's, she found herself in a bad situation.

UPDATE: Last sentence edited for greater clarity. And read Sheila's comments. Good 'uns, all.

Posted by Robert at 12:02 PM | Comments (14)

Le Mot Juste?

In a comment below, our pal Jen states that the correct term for a male bimbo is "himbo" instead of the Seinfeldian "mimbo."

I'm sticking with Jerry. Anyone want to jump in on this?

And while we're at it, what is the correct response to "No way!" Is it the Bill & Tedian "Yes way!" or the simpler Wayne's Worldish "Way!"

And to go farther afield, does one spell Homer Simpson's trademark interjection "D'Oh!" or "DO'h!" And from what is this expression derived? What gets shortened by the apostrophe?

Finally, reaching, well, foothill heights of bizarre, why is INDCent Bill so eager to give me $8? Come up with an original explanation and not only will I post it, I'll pass the eight bucks on to you!

Posted by Robert at 11:33 AM | Comments (9)


Emily gives us the head's up that the new movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is on its way. (Here is the movie's official site, btw.) I know nothing about this flick (except it's nice to see that Simon Jones gets a bit part), but given Hollywood's recent track record in destroying-favorite-books-of-mine, I'm refusing to get too excited. The one thing the writers have going for them is the fact that HHGTG started off as a radio series and only took book form later. Also, there are so many different versions of the story flying around that it would be almost impossible for me to get too grumpy about particular details.

Meanwhile, Emily also posts a couple of stills from the old BBC tee-vee version of the 'Guide (which came after the radio series and was significantly altered from it). For the most part, I didn't think the tee-vee show was very good - the Milliway's scene Emily puts up was rather lame, for example. But it also had its high points (I always liked the title sequence and theme music, for example) and that certain indefinable air of BBC sci-fi efforts (think Dr. Who) that I've always liked. I still enjoy renting it from time to time.

Posted by Robert at 10:41 AM | Comments (9)

A Llama Calendar

(Update: Pardon my outbreak of dyslexia in the title. All fixed now.)

This is a meme I picked up from Rocket Ted. Below the fold are the first sentences of the first posts made each month during 2004 here at the Butcher's Shop, coupled with some editorial reflection. (I figure that by doing this, I can satisfy my end-of-year-posting obligation, which is already way overdue):


Well, here it is, January 1, 2004. [Brilliant, Robbo. Just effin' brilliant.]


Very, very nice night away Friday night and in to Saturday. [Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) has a loooong pedigree 'round here.]


I notice that our traffic was unusually high for a weekend - and this coming off a big day on Friday as well. [What this meant back then was that we had 4 hits instead of 2 and, for once, 3 of them weren't from my parents.]


My six year old's eyes were positively ablaze with excitement over the prospect of April Fool's Day this morning. [See February]


Allah's in a merry mood, as John Kerry picked up another endorsement today from another world leader respected by the moonbat wing of the Democratic Party: [That'd be Steve-O. Yup, the campaign season was starting to fire up.]


Where else in the world would someone have come up with the idea for the Condom Ambulance? [Okay, this was the second post of the day. But far more interesting than the first, which was "Sorry for the lack of posting," doncha think?]


Hooray! The Butcher's Wife and the Llama-ettes return to the fold this afternoon. [Yep. There's definitely a pattern here.]


Here's a little something to stir some small interest in the Blogsphere on a Monday morning: The fact is that this is my last week in the private sector for a while. [You have no idea what a relief it was to be able to type that post.]


I flipped on Fox News Channel about 9:30 or so to see what was going on. [Convention blogging. 'Bout all we did at the time.]


How's this for a different take:

the person who benefitted from low expectations last night was.......John Kerry. [Steve-O's powerhouse debate blogging.]


Today is absolutely beautiful outside---warm, sunny, leaves around, very collegiate. Both morning classes we went outside, sat out on the lawn in front of our building, and talked about nothing except the election. [It was in this post that Steve-O gave out his absolutely bang-on Electoral College predictions.]


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? [The World wonders.]

Well, there you have it. Mostly home life and politics. But isn't that what most of our blogpals do?

Posted by Robert at 09:59 AM | Comments (2)

Weather Channel Cat Fight

I was trying to get JohnL to run a Babes of the Weather Channel poll over at TexasBestGrok the other day. Now it seems that there is a darker side to the whole thing: former Weather Babe Marnie Stanier is suing TWC on grounds of age discrimination. Her suit maintains that TWC is actively pursuing an agenda of bringing in younger, hotter on-air talent and booting older staff like her.

As a regular viewer, I don't doubt that this is exactly what they're doing. The question is whether it constitutes actionable age discrimination. Suffice to say, it's a tricky standard and very fact-specific.

I will say one other thing, however, and that is that I think TWC is going too far. The new Evening Edition co-host is one Alexandra Steele who, in my humble opinion, is a first-class bimbo. (Oh, and gratuitious equal-opportunity slam: Jim Cantori is a colossal mimbo.) The great thing about the old varsity squad of Kristina Abernathy, Jennifer Lopez (no, not that one) and Sharon Resultan was that they are both easy on the eyes and smart.

(Okay, now that I see it in writing, it's beginning to disturb me a bit that I know so much about this. Well, everybody needs a hobby.)

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


Commenting on my little rant yesterday about the People's Soviet of Middletown, CT, John of Try On The Glasses directed me to this little quiz:

You are a Square. What a weirdo.

What kind of Sixties Person are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Try to control your surprise.

Posted by Robert at 09:00 AM | Comments (2)

January 12, 2005

Tradesports on the Iraq election....

They don't have markets on who will win, but they do have a market on whether the election will occur as scheduled. The contract is currently trading at $86.7, indicating a very high likelihood.

iraq election.gif


Now's your chance, if you can sit on the trade for 3 1/2 years, to buy Mark Warner as the Democratic Nominee for $8.

Posted by Steve at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

What the......?

Serena was a lesbian?

Did I miss something?

Remember the good old days when they killed off their characters on Law & Order?

Maybe I'm just getting old.

But I still think the PI Network would work: 24hrs of nothing but Magnum, Spencer for Hire, Vegas, Hawaii 5-0, Starsky & Hutch, Law & Order, Homicide......

Posted by Steve at 11:09 PM | Comments (4)

Aw, Jeez

Here we go again - The Bush Inaugural Committee is busy trying to backtrack from inviting some sleazy rapper to perform at one of the concerts. As might be expected, Conservatives and Libertarians are getting all worked up pro and con over the propriety of such a change of heart while Liberals (I'm sure) snicker in the background.

My only question is - whose bright idea was it to invite the guy in the first place? Surely they could have seen all of this coming.

Silver Lining Department: At least it provokes more inspired insanity from Goldstein.

Posted by Robert at 05:39 PM | Comments (3)

"Aside from that, Mrs. Smeagol, How Did You Like The Movie?"

Been wondering about the upcoming projects of those wascally LOTR hobbits? Well wonder no more, because Beautifully Atrocious Jeff has got all the inside scoop.

(Just as an aside, have I ever ranted about how totally miscast I thought Elijah Wood was? "Oh, gag," as Joan Rivers would say, "AWE-ful!" Even you hardcore LOTR movie fanatics have got to give me that one.)

Posted by Robert at 04:43 PM | Comments (2)


(Yes, it had to happen.)

I bought a new pair of black dress shoes a couple weeks ago, as my old ones were literally falling apart around my feet.

Unfortunately, I still haven't got the new ones broken in. And something about the way the left cap was pressing in this morning makes me feel like it broke my big toe.

So in addition to making more leather-squeeking noise than Andrew Sullivan at a biker rally, I'm now hobbling around in considerable pain.


UPDATE: In response to some of your comments, sorry, no potty blogging here. If you want that, go here. (P.S., Fausta - what is it about you and Kathy that you both have such an interest in, er, llama photography (nudge, nudge)?)

Posted by Robert at 02:26 PM | Comments (6)

Party Like It's 1969

From the most recent edition of the Wesleyan Argus:

Students trap Bennet in office, demand to be heard

By Katharine Hall

Executive Editor

While President Doug Bennet stayed locked in his South College office, over 250 students gathered outside the building and later blocked the stairwells to protest a long list of issues related to a lack of student voice in recent Administration decisions. Standing for over four hours in the rain, students spoke out on an open mic and tried to bargain with Bennet to address their concerns with the whole community.

The students presented a 16-item issue list that included the WESU/WSHU deal, chalking, gender-neutral housing, hate crimes, and ethnic studies. Organizers passed out fliers titled “Open Letter to the Wesleyan Community,” which explained these concerns.

The letter states that, “the issues presented below are striking examples of the lack of Administration accountability and the absence of student voice in decision-making processes at Wesleyan.”

Bennet, with the help of Director of Public Safety Maryann Wiggin, tried to leave his office a couple of times during the afternoon, once to attend a faculty meeting. He was unable to leave, however, when students blocked his path.

“At that juncture there were so many students in the stairwell we had to lock our door because they were trying to come in here,” said Justin Harmon, Director of University Communications. “They were stomping their feet very loudly and yelling and creating a disruption that basically went on the rest of the afternoon.”

(You can read the rest of the article in the extended entry. It just gets sillier, bubbling over into a general moonbat whine-fest.)

After reading this, all I can say as an alum is that I'm amazed the school continues to wonder why I refuse to give it any money. I should also note that the average cost of attending the place is up to $40K per year. I only hope the parents of all those young idealists blocking South College instead of, you know, going to class or something, feel they're getting their money's worth.


According to Harmon, Bennet was initially reluctant to address the students’ demands of issuing a statement to the whole campus, announcing a forum, praising the protest as productive and promising substantial results.

“The goal [of Tuesday] was to get President Bennet to engage with our dissatisfaction with University policies on our terms,” said Matt Montesano ’05, who actively participated in the protests. “Yeah, it was intimidating, but no one was going to hurt Doug Bennet.”

Nell Schaffer ’06 said that the issues listed reflect problems that have not been addressed by the Administration for a long time.

“I’m frustrated with how the Administration is not responding to a number of issues,” Schaffer said. “The whole point of the school is having it for the students. It’s ridiculous that when my sister was here, who graduated in 2000, they were dealing with the same exact issues.”

To draw attention to the growing crowd outside South College, some students ran through Fisk and PAC interrupting classes in the process.

“I definitely supported what they did, but if there’s one thing we should maintain it’s our relationship with our professors,” said Anjali Saxena ’06, who was in Professor of Philosophy Joseph Rouse’s class, which was interrupted.

After the protesters walked in on Rouse’s class, Saxena said that Rouse told them that they were taking away his voice also.

According to Anay Shah ’05, a number of students, including Shah, left at the end of their economics class in PAC 004 to attend the protest. Shah said he stayed at the protest until the count-off around 3 p.m. At that point about 275 students had congregated.

“It was pretty awesome because it was all spontaneous,” Shah said. “It’s great because it was student led. The people leading it took it upon themselves to motivate and control the crowd, and they’re still respected.”

Students tried to communicate with Bennet in his office to get him to agree to hold a campus meeting on Wednesday and to send an e-mail to the Wesleyan community addressing the issues.

“I was really impressed with the unity created by the organizers,” Schaffer said. “Getting the e-mail written while doing it in a civil manner was really impressive.”

Bennet left his office at 5 p.m. after he and students agreed to meet on Wednesday.

“At this point, I’m optimistic about making change,” Shaffer said. “We showed them in numbers and in words that this is something they need to pay attention too…Maybe not everything can be changed, but for me a victory on one issue would be a victory for all of them.”

Tuesday’s protest was sparked by a speak-out on Monday, which was organized to address issues related to students of color on campus. The open mic event was held in front of the Campus Center from noon to 1:30 p.m.

According to Delilah Lora ’05, an organizer of Monday’s speak-out and a member of Ajua Campos, a campus Latino awareness group, the event was organized partly in response to the lack of University support in trying to bring Guillermo Gomez Penya to campus for a keynote address during Latino Awareness Month. Penya, described as a political revolutionary activist, had to cancel at the last minute due to funding, according to Lora.

“I felt that it was a good opportunity for students to speak to students about what’s going on on campus, especially about student of color issues,” said Jillian White ’08, who also said that students of color were speaking more to each other than addressing the campus.

White spoke out about Native American issues on campus, criticizing the lack of options for multiracial students for defining themselves at the University.

“It’s problematic because they are denying students part of their identity,” White said.

White participated in the speak-out as a member of NEXUS, a new campus group for students of color involved in activism. According to White, the student audience at the speak-out was receptive and continued to listen despite the snow and cold weather.

“I think the speak-out was effective for giving students of color the agency for having their voices heard,” White said.

The events on Monday and Tuesday were part of a week-long organized protest which included an open community forum on Wednesday afternoon and a talk by Amy Goodman from Democracy Now scheduled for Friday evening.

Posted by Robert at 02:12 PM | Comments (1)

Llama Laryngitis

We seem to be having intermittent problems with the ol' comments section today (as well as with various other functions). Sorry 'bout that. If you can't get through and you simply must get something off your chest, remember that you can always drop a line in the Tasty-Bits Mail Sack (TM).

Yip! Yip!

UPDATE: I tried to post a reply comment and got rejected because the system found our -at-yahoo.com address to be suspicious content. Go figure.

FURTHER UPDATE: Cindy, our real-life llama owner reader, got the same problem trying to comment from her yahoo.com email address. Friends, I have no idea. I'll check in with Moo-Knew High Command and see if anyone else is having this problem.

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

Another Sci-Fi Babe Poll

This week JohnL of TexasBestGrok brings us Spock's Women.

This one is a gimme for me. Mariette Hartley, of course. Mmmmmmm....... All through the 70's, she kept showing up in guest roles on shows as varied as The Rockford Files, The Incredible Hulk, Bob Newhart and Columbo. I always tried to watch them. Something about that combo of red hair and deep voice.

As always, vote early and often. And don't forget to visit John's Gallery of Winners.

Posted by Robert at 12:58 PM | Comments (1)

Presented Without Comment....

Well, okay, just one: Snerk!

Posted by Robert at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

Plum Reviews

I meant to comment on this review in the WaPo by Bob Thompson of Robert McCrum's new biography of P.G. Wodehouse (a copy of which is, I believe, sitting patiently in my closet and waiting to be opened on my birthday).

Everything Thompson says is fair enough, but I have two thoughts, one a general substantive concern and the other a stylistic quibble.

First, I think readers must approach Wodehouse's biography (even as compressed into a newspaper column) very, very carefully. Yes, it's fascinating to read all about his early years of isolation as a child of Empire-building parents, his internment by the Nazis and his subsequent exile in America. Yes, it's interesting to ponder whether and how all of this drove him to develop his own idyllic world in which to hide. But if one were to start thinking about these things while reading Wodehouse's works themselves, one would most probably completely destroy the experience. To properly read Wodehouse, one must have the self-discipline to suspend all critical analysis and confine oneself to enjoying what is on the page. In this respect, I am terribly greatful that I soaked in so much of Wodehouse's work before I ever picked up any books about Wodehouse himself. My innocent enjoyment of Plum's fictional world is now sufficiently armor-plated, as it were, to withstand poking about in his real one.

Second, many reviewers and critics think they are being funny when they try to imitate Wodehouse's particular style of writing in their articles. My message to all such wags (and yes, I'm talking to you, too, Bob Thompson) is: No you're not. Don't do it.

Yips! to Sheila and good luck! As we recently recommended to Kathy the Cake Eater, you won't go far wrong starting with Right Ho, Jeeves. If you ever want to gab about Wodehouse, you know where we live.

Posted by Robert at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

Llama Public Service Announcement

Rae puts us on to a worthy cause. Go on over and check it out.

Posted by Robert at 09:20 AM | Comments (0)

Meme From The Dark Side

Michele is asking us to expose some of our guilty pleasures. Who am I to deny her? Here we go:

CD I have in my car that I roll up the windows to listen to - Thomas Dolby - Aliens Ate My Buick.

Book I read flat so no one could see the title - Yeah, like I'm going to pull out my Anais Nin paperback on the Metro? Seriously, tho, I don't think I've ever gone out of my way to hide anything I was reading.

Crappiest song ever sung at karaoke - Well, I've never actually tried karaoke. But I did have to get up on a table in the dining hall at my wife's college in the middle of lunchtime and sing along to "Like A Virgin" as part of a theatre club initiation. That was pretty crappy.

Bad movie I watch repeatedly - Geh. Their name is Legion. I agree with Michele about Armageddon. Classic example. (And no, I don't cry.)

Article of clothing I love though I know it's wrong - My "Property of Rodham Gulag" t-shirt. It's so....hurtful.

What I order at the bar when no one is listening - There is nothing pleasurable about bad drinks. They're just bad. I have no secrets here. Vodka martini with a twist.

Fast food item I adore - Well, adore is a strong word. But I always liked McRibs. Also, when I was a kid down south, Wendy's had a huge chicken-fried steak platter of which I was very fond.

A TV show that is a good example of the downfall of civilization that I love anyway - From time to time I like to watch COPS, just for the pure, horrid fascination. And, btw, "Reno 911," which I also sometimes watch while waiting for South Park, is a moderately funny parody of it.

Posted by Robert at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

Llama Book Suggestion Bleg

The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West

Can anyone out there recommend a good, solid overview of the French and Indian War (known to our overseas readers as the Seven Years' War)?

Even when I was a kid, this period of North American history was taught pretty much as a footnote and only in the context of setting up the conditions for the American Revolution. These days, I don't even think it gets mentioned in school.

Nonetheless, it's an important and fascinating piece of history (as well as a savage one). I've got numerous books that touch on various aspects of it, but none that really draw it all together. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

YIPS from Steve:

Oddly enough, in the past couple of years there have been three excellent books on King Philips War which was a full blown devastating Civil War in New England in the mid 1670s: Jill LePore's The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity; Eric Schultz, King Philip's War: The History and Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict; and James David Drake, King Philip's War: Civil War in New England, 1674-1675.

But you are right---there hasn't been a good popular history of the Seven Years War in probably a generation. There are, however, dozens of spiffy monographs on fish mongering in various neighborhoods in Lowell, Massachusetts, in April of 1788, (of course with different books dedicated each to gay, left-handed, wiccan, and midget fish mongerers, not to mention those cutting edge works demonstrating that Mercy Otis Warren and Abagail Adams were lesbian lovers) so you know the professional historians are earning their keep.

UPDATE: I've taken Dan's advice and ordered Parkman's book. I'm also picking up a copy of a more recent history of the war by Fred Anderson. I'll let you know what I think of them.

Posted by Robert at 08:29 AM | Comments (3)

January 11, 2005

Jesus, Mary, Joseph

Sometimes I think there is something to the claim that there is too much information on the web.

When, you ask?

Why, when Sheila suddenly has an attack of Hasslehoffapalooza, that's when! And not just one, but another and another and another and another and another and another and another and another!

I mean, this is stuff no one should see. Ever.

But, of course, the surest way to get someone to do something is to tell them not to. (Just ask me. I'm a dad.) So don't say I didn't warn you. Hot beverages are probably okay, but I'd put away any sharp instruments first so as to avoid the temptation to gouge out your own eyes.

(I swear that I will never, ever, grumble to myself when Red goes off on another of her Elia Kazan or James Joyce jags. If she sticks to that sort of thing, I'll consider myself damned lucky.)

YIPS from Steve:



Posted by Robert at 06:14 PM | Comments (2)

Attention Heartless Gold-Diggers*

Here's a quiz that purports to tell you what you're worth. I tried to answer all the questions honestly. Sadly, I think your value goes up depending on how, well, stolid and boring you are:

I'm worth $3,549,734.88! How much are you worth?

Yeah, baybee! I may not be the life of the party, but with this price on me, I don't have to be.

Yips! to Velociman.

(*N.B. to the Butcher's Wife - Just a joke, Honey. Honest!)

Posted by Robert at 03:44 PM | Comments (3)

Attention All Fellow Federalists!


Today is the birthday of Alexander Hamilton, born this day in 1755.

In honor of the day, let's all take a minute to hoot at that ersatz yeoman farmer and Closet-Jacobin, Thomas Jefferson. Ack! Ttthhpppppttt!!

Posted by Robert at 01:59 PM | Comments (4)

And Don't Call Us "Shirley"

The Colossus is wondering about the reappearance of our ol' Llama Goodfellahs logo.

Don't worry! Fuggedaboudit. Steve-O's got the .jpg in a nice, safe place. It'll be back soon enough.

UPDATE: See? Whad'itellya?

Posted by Robert at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

Brad Is Like So Totally The Pitts

The plot apparently thickens. Via Lawren we hear a rumor that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston went pffft because Jen caught Brad having phone sex with Angelina Jolie.

Y'all do realize that Hollywood marriages are about as authentic as professional wrestling matches, right?......Right?

UPDATE: Just by way of showing some of my Red State roots, allow me to quote the lyrics from a Country song I always liked, Brad Paisley's "Celebrity." They are more or less apropos:

Someday I'm gonna be famous
Do I have talent? Well no.
These days you don't really need it
Thanks to reality shows.
Can't wait to date a supermodel,
Can't wait to sue my dad,
Can't wait to wreck a Ferrari
On my way to Rehab.

Cause when you're a celebrity
It's adios reality.
You can act just like a fool
And people think you're cool
Just cause your on T.V.
I can throw major fits
When my latte isn't just how I like it.
They say I've gone insane -
I'll blame it on the fame
And the pressures that go with....
Being a Celebrity

I'll get to cry to Barbara Walters
When things don't go my way.
I'll get community service
No matter which law I break.
I'll make the supermarket tabloids
They'll write some awful stuff.
But the more they run my name down
The more my price goes up!

Cause when you're a celebrity
It's adios reality!
No matter what you do
People think you're cool
Just cause your on T.V.
I can fall in and out of love,
Have marriages that barely last a month.
When they go down the drain
I'll blame it on the fame
And say it's just so tough...
Being a Celebrity

So let's hitch up the wagons
And head out West
To the land of fun in the sun.
We'll be a real world bachelor
Jackass Millionaires - hey! hey! Hollywood,
Here we come!

Yeah when you're a Celebrity
It's adios reality.
No matter what you do
People think you're cool
Just cause your on T.V.
Being a Celebrity...
Yeah Celebrity!

Posted by Robert at 09:54 AM | Comments (5)

Sticky Fingers Watch

The NY Post is reporting that a Federal grand jury is now looking at Sandy Berger's docs-in-the-pants activities. This is good news.

Posted by Robert at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

A Wandering Meme

The Impenetrable One has a neat little game:

1. Go To Mapquest.com.
2. Click on Directions.
3. Enter your current address and the address of your childhood home (or at least the town if you don't remember the exact address).
4. Put the time and distance in a post like this.
5. Repost the instructions to the meme in your own blog.

I did a twofer.

Where I was born: Est. Time: 7 hrs, 32 min. Est. Distance: 453.65 miles

Where I grew up: Est. Time: 25 hrs, 21 min. Est. Distance: 1596.97 miles.

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

Nex Stop - Opposable Thumbs

We're back to Playful Primate status in the TTLB Ecosystem. I know we'll probably break back down to microbe tomorrow, but in the meantime, we'll enjoy this opportunity to go ape. (Ba-bump-bah!)

Oh, and Bill? Neener, neener!

Posted by Robert at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2005

Good News.

Jen reports that the emoticons at her new digs are not working.

[Secret Llama Ops Coded Message: Llama Starbase to Llama Tango 4.....Llama Starbase to Llama Tango 4.....Intel received that target assets neutralized. Repeat, intel received that target assets neutralized. Well done. Execute Plan Zulu-Alpha 3 to ensure permanent destruction. Repeat, execute plan Zulu-Alpha 3 to ensure permanent destruction. Luck.]

Posted by Robert at 06:04 PM | Comments (4)

The White House Should Have Looked To France

If you think that seeing this headline at the Llamas is a sure sign of the Apocalypse, just hear me out. Apparently for the sixth time running, Korbel is to be the official champagne of the Inauguration.

I know I sound like Rob Lowe in Wayne's World, but there is no such thing as California champagne. Oh sure, Korbel makes a sparkling wine using the methode Champenoise, but real Champagne comes only from that region of France where this wine was first developed. Everything else is a mere imitation.

If you're going to pull out all the stops for something as important as a Presidential Inauguration, why not do the drinks right?

I enjoy Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkey-bashing as much as the next Llama, but not so much that I'm willing to cut off my own nose in terms of one of the very few things the French do right. If I were running the Inaugural planning, I'd order real Champagne. I'd also instruct anyone who was feeling uncomfortable or angry about this choice to wait until after the toast and then toddle round and take a leak on the French Embassy.

See how easy that is?

UPDATE: Lots of claims in the comments about how [insert your region here] produces wonderful Champagne. All I've got to say (in my best Jiminy Glick voice) is:


Bah! Philistines!!

Posted by Robert at 05:31 PM | Comments (8)

Double-Pump Llama Personality Problems

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence
You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well. An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly. You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view. A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?

I think this means I'm a good bloviator. Yips! to the Impenetrable One.


You Are a Hunter Soul
You are driven and ambitious - totally self motiviated to succeed Actively working to achieve what you want, you are skillful in many areas. You are a natural predator with strong instincts ... and more than a little demanding. You are creative, energetic, and an extremely powerful force.

An outdoors person, you like animals and relate to them better than people.
You tend to have an explosive personality, but also a good sense of humor.
People sometimes see you as arrogant or a know it all.
You tend to be a bit of a loner, though you hate to be alone.

Souls you are most compatible with: Seeker Soul and Peacemaker Soul

What Kind of Soul Are You?

I think this means I'm something of a jerk. But I dunno where the "demanding" and "powerful" tags come from. Yips! to Marjorie the Unclimber.

YIPS from Steve:

All I can is this sure isn't a surprise to my wife....

You Are a Jackass Soul

You are a curious person, always in a state of awareness.
Connected to all things spiritual, you are very connect to your soul.
You are wise and bright: able to reason and be reasonable.
Occasionally, you get quite depressed and have dark feelings, but then you go out and kill stuff and you feel remarkably better.

You have great vision and can be very insightful.
In fact, you are often profound in a way that surprises yourself.
Visionary souls like you can be the best type of friend.
You are intuitive, understanding, sympathetic, and a good healer. And you like to beat the crap out of small third world nations while giving the finger to the UN and four centuries of international legal tradition.

Souls you are most compatible with: Old Soul and Peacemaker Soul. But, of course, you are most compatible with David Soul, as he brings out the pure joy of jumping across the hood of a moving Torino, while looking pretty damn spiffy in a taupe high roll turtleneck and matching suede jacket. And snub-nosed revolvers, man, none of that 9 milimeter crap.

What Kind of Soul Are You?
Posted by Robert at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

I Got A Baaaad Feeling About This

Officials: Alawi Seeks 'Limited' Delay In Iraqi Elections.

From what I gather, the interim Iraqi P.M. is beginning to buy into the "disenfrancised Sunnis" meme:

Officials said Alawi and other senior ministers have assessed that the rise in insurgency attacks in Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle would dissuade most Sunni voters from traveling to the polling stations. They said Alawi has been concerned that a Sunni boycott would mark a huge victory for Saddam Hussein loyalists.

Well, that's grand. But wouldn't postponing the elections also mark a huge victory for the bad guys? I mean, isn't that why they're, you know, killing people and blowing things up?

Alawi apparently is thinking of a delay of about a month. And what is going to magically change in the meantime?

Officials said coalition and Iraqi forces have made a dent in the violence and over the next few weeks could be utilized for an intensive effort against Saddam loyalists and the Tawhid and Jihad group headed by Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi. One option, they said, was the formation of a joint U.S.-Iraqi squad to hunt down and kill insurgency leaders.

Um....aren't we supposed to be doing that already? And if not, why not? Oh, I know....because an overwhelming show of Coalition force might..... cause Sunni voters to boycott the election!

Dammit, this is the shame chickensh*t that has dogged our thinking ever since we went in.

And as for the new last line in the sand?

Alawi's proposal would set a new date for elections that would not be revised, officials said. They said the proposed delay would comprise the final opportunity for the Sunni community to participate in an elected post-Saddam government.

Color me.....skeptical.

I hope that I'm mistaken about this, but this news has all the earmarks of a loss of nerve. (The fact that the EU and Arab States support a delay also automatically sets off my internal Red Alert sirens.) While I'm aware that Afghani elections were postponed several times, with no harm done when they finally came off, the dynamics are completely different in Iraq. This is, in effect, a power politics death match, where any sign of weakness by the government is extremely bad news and will only embolden the hoodlums. It strikes me, armchair pundit that I am, that it is too late for finesse and that the best course is for the Iraqis simply to put their heads down and charge forward with the elections as scheduled. Yes, there might very well be some kind of major attack and lots of people might get killed. But not half as many as will if the Iraqi government lets the bad guys think they can buffalo it.

UPDATE: Huh? I haven't seen a single other story about this anywhere. Unless the whole Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston thing is just crowding it off the wire, this might mean that the news is bogus. That would, in fact, be good. But we'll keep our eye on things.

Posted by Robert at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

Age and Wisdom

I came across this test at Barking Moonbat Central Command via John Nada at Try On The Glasses.

The test says that "anyone over 40" should have an easy time with it. I'd say, the age cut off is a bit higher than that. I'll be 40 in two weeks. I only scored 13 out of 20, and half my right answers were based on things my parents told me.

So, you?

UPDATE: Oops. Sorry, John. Link fixed.

Posted by Robert at 03:21 PM | Comments (8)

There's got to be a conspiracy angle to this, somehow

It can't just be innocent.

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

I always thought the USS Tecumseh was a bit odd myself

Rocket Jones has an interesting piece about the historical choices made naming the Polaris submarine class back in the 1960s.

My son's name is John Marshall, and I got him a USS John Marshall baseball hat a couple of years ago.

Posted by Steve at 02:43 PM | Comments (1)

Top ten signs the UN is involved in your disaster relief effort

From the Brain:

8. "There aren't any Jews or women on the relief team, are there?"
6. When you ask the relief coordinator which activity he wants to observe today, he counters with "which ones are the CNN camera crews going to?"
4. The bureaucrats pull you aside and ask you which refugee camps have the most hot 12-year-old girls.
2. The relief coordinator has more dressing room demands than Van Halen Barbara Streisand.

The rest are even funnier!

Posted by Steve at 02:38 PM | Comments (1)

This one's right up there with the Nullification Crisis, Court-Packing, and dare we say the Revolution itself

Striking moments in the history of American political development, crises that shook the very foundations of the constitution and threaten the future of the American way of life. Now we can add: Kid Rock playing an an innaugural party?

Posted by Steve at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

The HMQ makes the big time!

Well deserved, if I do say so myself!

Posted by Steve at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)

Your movie review of the day

Kathleen the Cake Eater drops Johnny Depp into an Oompah-loompah suit and drops him into Cell Block "C" during Mardi Gras.

Jailarity results....

SECRET MESSAGE FOR KATHLEEN: Yes, but they can double-park quite effectively....

Posted by Steve at 02:28 PM | Comments (0)

Sounds like an even swap for me...

Still not Allahpundit, but at least now we can bide away our time with theLisa Whelchel blog.

You know, Blair, from Facts of Life.

(The sound you hear is Steve the Llamabutcher's head beating the desk, repeatedly)

Posted by Steve at 02:23 PM | Comments (1)

Fear not, the truth shall set ye free!


Bestill your hearts, ladies!

Posted by Steve at 02:18 PM | Comments (5)

Run for your lives, kids! He just ate Santa and his reindeer!

gasbag on parade.gif

Easily the scariest windbag in next year's Macy's parade....

Posted by Steve at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

More from the "Yeah, that's a freakin' surprise" category

Ace has the goods on how the US and Israel caused the mother of all tidal waves, according to the usual sources.

Posted by Steve at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

Partial Llama Book Review


Whilst we were visiting the Llama Military Correspondent for New Year's, the Missus swiped his copy of Joshua L. Chamberlaine's The Passing of the Armies, Chamberlaine's first-hand account of the last days of the fight between the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia, from the trenches around Petersburg to Appomattox.

So far, it's a lucid and fascinating account. I'll definitely have to get my own copy, as well as copies of Chamberlaine's other Civil War memoirs. But dayum, is this book chock-a-block with passages of what I can only describe as the worst kind of sanctimonious Victorian eggheadism. Coming on the heels of Ulysses S. Grant's extremely matter of fact account, which I just finished reading, it is quite the change.

Posted by Robert at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

What the......?

My bad.

I mean, I spend a week away from blogging, sitting night and day on the "1M" floor of the library amidst the E93 section of the Dewey Decimal system, and emerge over the weekend to discover that


Suddenly, my new found insights as to the Jeffersonian influences on Andrew Jackson's policies for removing the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chicksaws, and Seminoles from the southeast, and the resultant political and legal crisis for the waning days of the Chief Justiceship of John Marshall, pale in comparison....

Oh, the humanity! Oh, the horror!

Posted by Steve at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

More Tolkien Geekery

You can't imagine that I'm going to pass up this quiz:

You are most like Beregond, Guard of the Citidel

Beregond, loyal to the protection of Minas Tirith, supervises the gates of the city.
You are eager to enforce rules and regulations and are probably good with logistics. You tend to worry about society falling apart. Social interaction energizes you. The more people the merrier. You have good observational skills. In your desire for clarity in life, you may have the tendency of being remote or even "heartless". You try to schedule your life as much as possible. You tend to finish your work before resting.

As Sam says:"I have something to do before the end. I must see it through, sir, if you understand."

Traits: Dependable, beneficient, usually living in the past. On the dark side you could be a hoarder.

Yes, it's the LOTR Personality Quiz.

Alas, I'm not quite sure where the character information came from. As every true Tolkien Geek knows, Beregond was a soldier of the Third Company of the Guard of the Citadel, not a gate-keeper. He later became Captain of the White Company, the guard of Prince Faramir stationed in Ithilien. And he was hardly a rules-monkey. In fact, his whole story was an object lesson by Tolkien concerning those moments of evil crisis in which rules have to be broken (leaving his post, spilling blood in the Rath Dinen) in order to serve a greater good (saving the life of Faramir).

Yips! to Mixolydian Don.

Posted by Robert at 01:25 PM | Comments (1)

Cue the Law & Order "Schwackong!" Noise

Mary Mapes and three others given the axe at CBS.

mary mapes.jpeg
Mapes, while leaving Black Rock with a cardboard box with a Garfield 2005 Calendar and a "Bestest Producer of All Time" coffee mug, was heard muttering "Would've gotten away with it, weren't for those meddling kids!"

"Ooooo! Oooooo! Ooooo! Mister Kotter! Mister Kotter!"

Yes Horseshack?

"I know how CBS will run with the story:

In another blow to the credibility of the failed Bush presidency, unemployment in New York City jumped today in response to Bush's failed policy in Irak.....
Posted by Steve at 11:37 AM | Comments (4)

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Pinata Watch

My rant about the sissification of pinatas the other day seems to have provoked some interest.

Just by way of update, the ritual sacrifice of the pinata at my five-year-old's birthday party yesterday went off pretty well. Because the party was inside and space was limited, we did not blindfold the batters. Thus, despite the slightly cramped conditions, no blood was drawn, no bruises were received and only one or two servings of chin-music were doled out among the guests awaiting their whacks.

One thing I had not thought out sufficiently ahead of time was the fact that store-bought pinatas are constructed of cardboard, not paper-mache. This makes them much tougher to punch through, especially for smaller kids. Because of this, each of the twelve girls at the party got three turns with the stick before the sacrificial candy star finally came apart (and even then, it required a little surreptitious help from Yours Truly). Next time around, I'll have to introduce some pre-fabbed structural weaknesses into the intended victim.

Other than that, it was a pleasant party. We held it at a local hotel that hires out its indoor pool for this kind of thing. The pool is small enough that the kids could be allowed to splash about in it without the adults having to get in as well. The hotel also includes the use of the conference room right next to the pool, providing punch and cookies to go along with whatever snacks you bring yourself. It was in this room that we had the pinata and cake. The only difficulty I had all afternoon was in trying to herd everyone out of the pool and into the room next door when it was time to get on with the festivities. My youngest girl in particular is so fond of swimming that the only way to get her out of a pool sometimes is to drain it.

Posted by Robert at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Llama-ette Birthday Watch

Happy Fifth Birthday to Llama-ette No. 2! It's hard to believe that she's been in our lives five years now. On the one hand, it seems a lot longer than that. On the other, it still seems like just last night that we were racing to the hospital, hoping and praying that we wouldn't have a back-seat delivery. (The Missus was very far along in her labor before we even realized that this is what it was, having assumed she was suffering nothing more than late preggers back pain. In fact, the girl arrived just about twenty minutes after we got to the delivery ward.)

Llama-ette No. 2 was born in the wee hours of a Monday morning. It is said that "Monday's Child is fair of face." This is certainly true of my little girl who is, if I may say so, beautiful. She is also a great charmer, with a curious power over people that, I have no doubt, is going to wreak havoc in years to come.

We used to worry a bit about the dreaded Middle Child Syndrome, but there does not seem to be any cause for concern with this girl, who we often refer to as our second first child. She is a very self-contained and self-motivated thing, and her natural leadership skills and sympathetic nature have been remarked on by her teachers time and again.

Llama-ette No. 2 is, so far, the most "girly" of our girls. For example, she insists on wearing dresses the vast majority of the time. She also loves to play with dolls and is by far the most nurturing when it comes to imaginary motherhood. She is also very cuddly, and loves to give me what she calls "bumblebee kisses."

On the other hand, the gel has an adventerous side to her. As we were out driving one morning not long ago, the moon happened to be out. She spotted this and immediately announced (again) that she wanted to be an astronaut when she grows up. I don't know if she'll have the math or science skills necessary for such a career, but based on the way she hurls herself around the monkeybars and the playground, I certainly know she has the heart for it.

As you can tell, we are mighty fond of this child.

Posted by Robert at 10:51 AM | Comments (1)

Lend Me Your Eyes

It looks like NZ Bear has got the kinks worked out of the TTLB Ecosystem displays. Today is the first time I've been able to view everybody who links to us. This is very cool as, until now, I haven't known about even half of these folks.

It seems there have been some ranking fluctuations too. I noticed that over the weekend we briefly cracked the top 100 again, although we're now back down to #103. All I can say is watch your back, Bill.

Posted by Robert at 09:58 AM | Comments (1)

Yeah, Right

I'm going with Krauthammer on yesterday's Palestinian election. Our continuing hope that the current PLO leadership can or wants to bring peace to the region reminds me of Homer Simpson and the light socket: Zzzzzt!....D'OH! Zzzzzt....D'OH! Zzzzzt!....D'OH!

Of course, I sincerely hope that both Krauth and I are wrong about Abbas. But would anyone like to place a bet?

Posted by Robert at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

January 08, 2005

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Cranky Traditionalist Party Preparation

As we were assembling the supplies to take over to Llama-ette No. 2's birthday party tomorrow, came before us the matter of the pinata.

If you haven't been to a kid's birthday lately, you may not know that these days it is quite common - when a pinata is featured at all - to have the little darlin's pull a series of strings dangling from the bottom of the thing in order to break it open, rather than employing the more traditional method of brute force.

This drives me absolutely batty and is, as far as I'm concerned, a classic symptom of What Is Wrong with our Culture, Child-rearing Division. I don't know whether the Tweedledum of Potential Injury and/or Liability or the Tweedledee of Concern Over Promoting Violent Behavior started this particular practice (or as some people probably call it, "option"), but I'm convinced they're working in tandem to perpetuate it.

Well not on my watch, pilgrim.

Looking about me for materials with which to do the pinata right, I discovered that by removing the head of my large garage broom and screwing a hook into the end of the handle, I had a perfect pole from which to dangle the pinata in front of the kiddies. I also found that by removing the head from the gels' toy rake, I was left with a four foot wooden pole that made an ideal whackin' stick. To wrap both of these in pink and green crepe paper and to festoon them with streamers of the same material was, for me, the work of a moment. (Actually, it was the work of about an hour, but I was so pleased with the results that it seemed like just a moment.)

When she was shown the festive new weapon, my soon-to-be-five year old's eyes blazed with a certain buccaneering gleem I've noticed in them more than once. She knows exactly what to do. And I guarantee both she and her little friends will have a whoooole lot more fun taking swings at Mr. Paper Mache Star tomorrow than they would have had simply yanking on lame little pieces of string dangling from it.

Posted by Robert at 03:51 PM | Comments (9)

January 07, 2005


Atrocious. Perfectly Atrocious.

Posted by Robert at 06:19 PM | Comments (1)

Shelves O' Shame

Kathy the Cake Eater has turned the latest book meme around a bit and asks us all to confess to ten authors on our bookshelves of whom we are embarrased.

This proved a bit more complicated than I had expected. For one thing, I obviously can't go after the kids' books. For another, I can't go after the Missus'. She has quite a collection, including some solid heavyweights such as Flannery O'Conner, Eudora Welty and Ellen Gilchrest, but also a number of authors who I strongly suspect of writing pure chick lit. However, since I haven't read them, I can't comment. (Nonetheless, if she thinks I don't know about that copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul, she's got another thing coming.)

Anyhoo, here is my list. It's made up of authors I shamefully enjoy as well as authors I hate. (I simply cannot bring myself to toss books out, so once a book arrives on my shelf it stays there.) I'm putting it in the extended section so I can offer commentary as well. Are you ready? Here we go.....

1. Tom Clancy - I enjoy Clancy's books, although I'm ashamed to admit it. He writes exactly like what he is - a middle-aged insurance salesman who never gave up a childhood fondness for playing soldier. From what I gather, his technical information is supurb. But his character development tends to make me laugh in places I'm not sure it's supposed to.

2. Jeff Shaara - Not to be confused with his father Michael. It's awful enough to plagiarize your own father's style and substance. It's even worse to generate third-rate hack work as a result.

3. Ann Coulter - As I often say, I read Coulter for entertainment purposes only. Having said that, she can be awfully entertaining.

4. James Fenimore Cooper - Blowhard extraordinaire.

5. Jacque Derrida - French blowhard extraordinaire. And there aren't even any bloodthirsty Indians. A leftover from school days.

6. "The Great Life" by Men's Journal - I ordered this by mistake from Amazon thinking it was something by P.J. O'Rourke when, in fact, he only wrote an introduction. The book is a compendium of what the mag trade thinks are hot "guy" topics. It strikes me more as a compendium of secret guy insecurities.

7. Eric Hobsbawm - Marxist historian (meaning he's a Marxist, not that he wrote about Marx). Another leftover from school. But since I went to the Glorious People's Soviet of Middletown Connecticut, you can bet he was on a lot of history profs' reading lists.

8. Roberto Calasso - Probably the single most pretentious author on my shelf. Of his The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, Gore Vidal had this to say: "I have no idea whether Roberto Calasso is a 'genius' but I do know that The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony is a perfect work like no other. He has re-created, in a blaze of light, the morning of our world: the gods, heroes, monsters of the Greeks are made mysterious sense of in what is, finally, a numinous text to be placed beside - ahead of? - Old and New Testaments." 'Nuff said.

9. "The Fluff Shelf" - I've got a pack of harmless books put out by people like Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby and Paul Reiser. AND of Bloom County and Calvin & Hobbes collections. For when I've had enough of Roberto Calasso.

10. Sylvia Plath - Yup, she was a loon.

Special Bonus Book O' Shame: It's not actually on my shelf, but every time we go up to the Missus' grandmother's beach house, I flip through her battered old copy of Harold Robbins' The Betsy. You have not truly plumbed the depths of bad writing until you try Harold Robbins.

Posted by Robert at 12:36 PM | Comments (11)

Donde Esta El Llama Roberto?

Light posting today.

Not that I don't have the time. Although the mere mention of it causes our Llama Military Correspondent to start spitting pea soup, I happen to have the day off owing to Your Government's compressed work schedule. Also, owing to a schedule change, the Missus doesn't have the day off. So since she and the Llama-ettes are all off at school, I have the house to myself.

However, since trying to link n' post on the ol' home-based dial-up is somewhat more painful than yanking out my own liver with a pair of pliers sans anesthetic, I won't be doing too much of it. Instead, I've got all sorts of pottering lined up - taking down the Christmas decorations, wandering around the garden making plans for the spring, kicking the cat, etc. But if I have any sudden flashes of brilliance (I'm still working on that Grand Unification Theory thing), I'll be sure to put 'em up.

In the meantime, I may as well warn you now that next week there's going to be a whoooole lot of Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) going on here. You see, Llama-ette No. 2 turns five on Monday. And Llama-ette No. 3 turns three on Friday. Corresponding birthday parties will be held this weekend and next. So not only will I be in the mood to wax rhapsodically on my little girls, I'll also be in the mood to blast and damn all the nonsense involved in dealing with their respective celebrations (an indoor pool party this weekend and a children's singer next).

Yip at you later!

Posted by Robert at 09:34 AM | Comments (5)

January 06, 2005

Is Our Televisions Teaching Me's?

Flipping around the tube this evening, I came across a show on some science network that purported to tell the story of a recent attempt to recreat Greek Fire and, at the same time, to tell of the Byzantine defense against the Arab onslaught in the 7th Century.

I had to turn it off after a few minutes, tho. For reasons totally beyond me, the narrator was pronouncing Byzantine "Buyz-n-tyne" instead of what I had thought to be the standard "Biz-n-teen".

One of Robbo's rules of thumb is that if the show can't even get the name of its subject right, it's probably not worth watching.

UPDATE: Just to get the bad taste out of my mouth, I popped in my copy of the first episode of Kenneth Clark's "Civilisation" this morning. Clark, in fact, says "Bye-zan-tyne". He can get away with it a) because he's a Brit and b) because he's Kenneth Clark. But ordinary Amuricans like myself and last night's narrator should stick with Webster's pronunciation which is, in fact, "Biz-n-teen".

Posted by Robert at 10:31 PM | Comments (5)

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I didn't pay any attention to Alberto Gonzales' Senate confirmation hearings mau-mauing today, but our Llama Military Correspondent phones in this report:

Rush [Limbaugh] played a sound bite from Ted Kennedy, Hero of Chappaquiddick, questioning the use of “waterboarding”, a form of water torture. Left unstated was that Mary Jo Kopecne was unavailable for comment.

I'm just going to assume that Uncle Ted was too drunk to realize what a horse's ass he was making of himself.

UPDATE: Andy McCarthy in the Corner spotted it too.

Posted by Robert at 05:59 PM | Comments (2)

An Everlasting Book Meme

This one has a bit of a twist (and a pedigree) that allows it to change each time around. You copy the list from the last person in the chain, delete the names of the authors you don't have on your home library shelves and replace them with names of authors you do have. Bold the replacements. Here is my entry:

1. Evelyn Waugh
2. Thomas Hardy
3. Tom Clancy (a shameful, but fun, indulgence)
4. Jane Austen
5. CS Lewis
6. JRR Tolkien
7. Robert Graves
8. P.G. Wodehouse
9. Patrick O'Brian
10. William Shakespeare

Yips! to Freakin' Jen (aka Lintenfiniel), but it goes back a lot farther than her....

UPDATE: As long as we're at this, I'll start another list. Feel free to use this one as an alternate.....

1. Aldous Huxley
2. Erskine Childers
3. Dorothy Sayers
4. Douglas Adams
5. Derek Robinson
6. E.E. Somerville/Martin Ross
7. Bernard Cornwell
8. John Mortimer
9. Anthony Trollope
10. E.F. Benson

Posted by Robert at 05:27 PM | Comments (4)

Happy Birthday, Mr. Holmes


It is, apparently, Sherlock Holmes' birthday (b. 1854).

I have to confess that I've not read that much of the Holmes cycle. But I can sympathize with the Baker Street Crowd in their enthusiasm for their hero. (In fact, the Conan-Doyle Gang far outdoes us Wodehouse junkies in terms of fanaticism.) Of the stories that I have read, I think my favorite is The Musgrave Ritual. However, this is a product of my Royalist romanticism as much as anything else.

Posted by Robert at 04:58 PM | Comments (8)

This Makes My Day

Kathy the Cake Eater reports in on her reading of Right Ho, Jeeves and finds she.....likes it.

Because Kathy is also a writer (and as such, worries a lot about the mechanics of writing), I'll pass along a little anecdote I recollect regarding someone else's effort to tweak the curtain away from Wodehouse's writing.

Apparently, Wodehouse was once asked how he managed to create such wonderful stories. His reply was, "Oh, I don't know. I just sit down at the typewriter and swear a bit."

I'm very happy you enjoyed it, Kathy.

Posted by Robert at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

Tolkien and Conservatism

Professor Bainbridge links to a Tech Central Station article by Joshua Livestro examining, once again, the issue of whether J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth is the philosophical property of liberals or conservatives. Livestro focuses primarily on Tolkien's well-known distrust of industrial technology and (I think) attempts to argue that developments in post-industrial technologies, which have resulted in the cleaning of the environment, better health, more security and greater freedom of communication and travel for the individual, would have met with Tolkien's approval. Prof. Bainbridge, in his commentary, suggests that Tolkien was, in fact, a conservative, but more in the traditional sense espoused by Russel Kirk rather than that of free-market Goldwater libertarianism. He also tees up some interesting questions regarding the tension between these forces.

I really don't know. But something in Livestro's comments struck me:

The main reason why liberals past and present have returned to the novel is of course its techno-sceptic attitude. Tolkien's Middle Earth isn't just an Arcadian fantasy about creatures deeply at one with nature. It is also, or perhaps more importantly, a story about the struggle between the forces of stagnation (good) and material development (bad).

I don't think this is a good comparison. First of all, there is absolutely nothing stagnant about Middle Earth. Indeed, the more one reads its history, the more one is impressed with its constant volatility, as kingdoms rise and fall, peoples are displaced and even the very landscape is transformed. The entire LOTR trilogy is concerned with the final showdown with Sauron, the passing of the Elves and the beginning of the Age of the Dominion of Men, a complete shake-up of the status quo. Those who understood these dynamics, Gandalf, Aragorn, Elrond, Galadrial, etc., are praised for their wisdom and spend most of the story attempting to guide the forces of transformation for the Greater Good. Those who refuse to pay attention to the changing world around them and instead try to cling to a cherished but false stagnation, the Hobbits, the Men of Bree, Tom Bombadil and the Ents, are all forced - finally - to face up to the inevitability of these changes. Those who can't face up, Saruman and Denathor in particular, snap.

With respect to technology and material comfort, I'm not altogether convinced that we can say Tolkien thought all technological progress was bad. Everybody likes to focus on the new mill that Lotho had built in the Shire. But what were the specific objections to it? That it was ugly and pollutant; that it was useless because, even though it had a greater grinding capacity, there was no more grain to be ground than there had been previously; and because Ted Sandyman spent his whole day cleaning gears for "Sharky" instead of being his own master. This looks to me more like a specific concern with the effects of rampant proletariat-generating industrialization rather than an aversion to technological improvement in its own right. Given all this, I think Bainbridge's suggestion that Tolkien's conservatism was Kirkian in nature is probably correct.

Posted by Robert at 04:08 PM | Comments (2)

Gratuitous Modern Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkey Artiste Bashing (TM)

The NY Post on Christo's TP'ing of Central Park. Heh, alors!

Yips! to James Panero at the New Criterion. (And be sure to click over to Modern Art Notes' snotty shot at TNC. Mee-oowwww.)

Posted by Robert at 01:50 PM | Comments (2)



Yes, today is Epiphany. I confess that I don't do anything in particular to mark the day, at least outwardly. But I couldn't resist the opportunity to post this Botticelli painting, The Adoration of the Magi. (Talk about Church and State, I understand that the Three Kings and various of their retainers portrayed in this painting are, in fact, members of the Medici family.)

In addition to being a day devoted to renewal of one's resolution to pursue the Faith, it is, of course, the end of the holiday season. Tomorrow, our Christmas tree gets the ol' heave-ho into the woods behind the house, the ribbon and garland comes down, the Creche gets packed up again and we enter into that rather bleak and barren portion of the new year. But not to worry. As the 'Bama Pachyderm points out, it's time to start thinking about Mardi Gras!

Posted by Robert at 01:16 PM | Comments (4)

I'll Take "Cool" For A Thousand, Uh, Bob.

Congrats to Jimmie over at the Sundries Shack for bagging an audition for A Certain Quiz Show Hosted By A Certain Canadian.

Need an assist with that trivia study? We'll be happy to put on our Cliff Clavin hats and help out!

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


I haven't said anything about the running fight between the guys over at Powerline and St. Nick Coleman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, although I've been reading the ongoing reaction to it 'round the 'sphere. (Needless to say, we Llamas are firmly on the side of the Powerline guys.)

At this point, however, I feel I have to weigh in: Nick, baybee, that is a shotgun in their pocket and no, they are not happy to see you. Give it up.

Posted by Robert at 12:10 PM | Comments (1)

A Writer Who Suggests That We Won't Be Able To Judge The Success Of Bush And Blair's War Efforts Without the Long View Of Historical Perspective? Kill Him!

Sir Martin Gilbert pens a surprisingly sensible article about the parallels between Bush/Blair and Roosevelt/Churchill, and the need to get the full picture before we start judging. (It's not surprising that Gilber penned it - he's a historian, after all. It's surprising that MSNBC/Newsweek would choose to run with it, such thoughtfulness not being encouraged in most of the MSM these days.)

Yips! to Real Clear Politics.

Posted by Robert at 11:52 AM | Comments (1)

Freakin' Housekeeping Note

Our pal Jen has moved over to new digs. Please update your blogroll accordingly. (What? She's not on your blogroll? Well put her there!)

That is all.

Posted by Robert at 11:23 AM | Comments (2)

Holding-Their-Breath-Till-They-Turn-Blue Watch

The Donks force a debate over the Ohio election results, thanks to Sen. Barbara Boxer.

As a matter of fact, I think this is an extremely foolish move. It certainly cuts against the grain of the (good but perhaps unrealistic) advice offered the Dems by the divine Peggy Noonan today. (Mmmmm.....Peggy......Mmmmmm.) At a time when the Dems should be focusing on rebuilding themselves as a serious, grown up and legitimate party, this is nothing more than a childish temper tantrum.

Posted by Robert at 10:49 AM | Comments (1)

More Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

Right now, the local classical station is playing Schumann's Symphony No. 4 in D minor, one of my favorite pieces of music. (I have this recording of all the Schumann symphonies at home.)

As it usually does, hearing this got me thinking about something: A friend of mine in college, a violist and a music major, always insisted that Schumann really didn't understand how to write for strings and that, as a consequence, his string music is rather sloppy and overloaded with notes. I'm just a pianist (Schumann certainly understood how to write piano music) and an amateur at that, so couldn't say whether this assessment is correct or not. Anyone out there have any words of enlightenment?

UPDATE: The O.F. forwards this article by Lawrence Budmen. Money quote:

In 1841 Schumann turned to writing orchestral music. Over the next decade he composed 4 symphonies, the great "Piano Concerto in A Minor," Opus 54, the "Overture, Scherzo, and Finale," Opus 52 (a mini symphony), and the florid "Konzertstuck in F Major for Four Horns and Orchestra," Opus 86. For many years these works were widely misunderstood. The pianist and scholar Charles Rosen commented that Schumann "brought a new complexity and a new uneasiness to the art of music, and they are still with us." The unwillingness of many conductors and critics to face that complexity and originality in Schumann's orchestral music resulted in the myth that Schumann was an amateur who could neither orchestrate nor bring the poetry of his piano and vocal works into large scale orchestral forms. Gustav Mahler and Felix Weingartner reorchestrated the symphonies. Their editions added wind and brass sections of near Wagnerian proportions and altered the harmonic and instrumental textures. This new scoring destroyed much of the composer's originality and presented the music in a conventional 19th century romantic orchestral mold.

I don't really know anything about Budmen, but Charles Rosen is a giant among music scholars whose comments are always worthy of attention. Make of this what you will.

Posted by Robert at 10:27 AM | Comments (3)

Rule, Britannia!

An interesting interview with Arthur Herman, author of a new book (hint, hint) entitled To Rule The Waves: How The British Navy Shaped The Modern World.

My favorite question and answer:

NRO: What did you think of the movie Master and Commander? How realistic was it?

Herman: I actually saw it three times because I knew I would get asked this question! In general, I'd say it's not very true to the spirit of the O'Brian novels but it is to the historical era-the production team included some expert naval historians like Brian Lavery and what Brian doesn't know about the Royal Navy in that period isn't knowledge. Certainly, the movie is a big improvement on the usual Mutiny on the Bounty-style approach to the British man o'war as a kind of floating hell-hole. I particularly liked the way it portrayed the crew as so young; probably 80 percent of the crews of navy ships were no older than 25, and the average ship always included a large number of so-called ship's boys, some as young as eight, who were literally "learning the ropes" under the supervision of a bosun's mate or other petty officer. The Royal Navy was always a navy of adolescents and post-adolescents — even up to World War Two it was usual for a cadet to enter Dartmouth Naval College at fourteen or fifteen. Who else would take the risks life at sea involved, or have the stamina for the incredible physical labor, or look forward to the bloodshed of a naval battle — or need so much corporal punishment to keep them in line?

Yes! Yes! Exactly right! Which is why I hated the movie so much. Why, my simple Llama brain wondered, could the movie not have simply been a good sea story with different characters, instead of a botched raid on O'Brian's domain? I probably would have loved it in that case.

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


It's another arbitrary 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of all time. I notice that several flicks, such as Jaws, Poltergeist and The Shining, get multiple mention.

I have no stomach for scary movies whatsoever and have only been able to sit through a handfull of them. Thus, I'm a little surprised The Twilight Zone Movie made the list. Even I thought that was kinda lame.

I also note with some amusement that the Flying Monkeys from The Wizard of Oz made the cut. I know people who grew up and remain terrified of them, but they never bothered me. On the other hand, it was a long, long time before I could sit through the scene where the twister is bearing down on the Gale Farm.

Yips! to Lynn at Reflections in D Minor.

Posted by Robert at 09:53 AM | Comments (3)

Where In The World...

Is Enoch Soames, Esq.?

Posted by Robert at 09:30 AM | Comments (1)

Mr. McGee, Don't Make Me Angry. You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry.

Beautifully Atrocious Jeff suggests the Llamas might be sent to such vacation spots as the Sunni Triangle to clean house.

Yeah, that'd certainly give us a chance to try out our new Stealth Spit. To say nothing of the orgle-bomb. Oh, the humanity!

Posted by Robert at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

Tsunami Notes

Now don't bombard me with how can you even be thinking of this sort of thing when thousands are still dying emails, but I am interested in trying to put the December 26 tsunami in a little scientific perspective.

Specifically, I am just finishing up Simon Winchester's book on the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa and came across some statistics about the tsunamis generated by that detonation. (Krakatoa is relatively close to the epicenter of the December 26 earthquake and part of the same jumble of tectonic forces.) What really got me curious was this: the wave pulse from the Krakatoa tsunami - which moved almost exclusively in a westerly direction - was recorded as far away as the approaches of the English Channel. Just from the comparative extent of death and damage, the December 26 tsunami was far more powerful (the farthest recorded death from the Krakatoa wave was a woman washed off her feet in Ceylon). I am curious to know whether anyone has yet provided the same kind of information on the more recent wave, i.e., how far the pulse travelled and where.

Posted by Robert at 09:05 AM | Comments (1)

January 05, 2005

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM) - Marriage of Math and Music Dept.

This is a cool toy. It allows you to select ten notes at random, converts them into integers and then cycles through the first 10,000 digits of pi, playing the note given for each integer as it comes up and thus creating a musical sequence representing pi's value.

I tried it a couple of times with major and minor arpeggios and then with more random sequences of notes. Pretty interesting and, at least with the broken chords, strangely soothing.

I guess you could call it Pi-Tunes. M'heh.

Yips! to Eugene Volokh.

Posted by Robert at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)

This Is Going To Be Bad News For My Dyslexia

Over at National Review Online, Jim Geraghty's The Kerry Spot column has just changed names to "TKS". All fine and dandy, except that Don Luskin's Krugman Truth Squad column usually goes by the moniker "KTS" these days.

It isn't quite as bad as "What's the vector, Victor?" but it's pretty close.

Posted by Robert at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

Sensible, Efficient Megalomania

The Brain posts 231 things to do if he ever becomes an Evil Overlord.

Helpful suggestions for anyone setting out on a quest for world domination. And very funny, too.

Posted by Robert at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)


First, Paris Hilton runs crying from a party she crashed after she realized that the folks there were watching her much-ballyhooed sex videotape on a big-screen tee-vee.

And as if that's not enough, Ashlee Simpson gets booed off the stage during the half-time show at the Orange Bowl.

Life's a bitch sometimes, ain't it?


Yips! to Kevin at Wizbang for both the links.

Posted by Robert at 04:19 PM | Comments (1)

Lend Me Your Geres!

As you've probably read by now, Richard Gere seems to have taken on the role of Voice of the Planet to encourage Palestinians to vote in upcoming elections. I suppose this will set the introduction of peace and stability in the region back a good thirty or forty years.

Anyhoo, as long as Gere has the mike, Jeff Goldstein, in vintage Protein Wisdom form, has decided to put some additional words in his mouth. Hot Beverage Rule. You know the drill.

Posted by Robert at 01:20 PM | Comments (1)

Gratuitous Llama Musickal Posting (TM)


Happy Birthday, Alfred Brendel!

For anyone interested in the keyboard music of Beethoven and Haydn in particular, Brendel is a key artist to know. If you purchase a CD of one of his performances, you're more than likely going to enjoy it immensely.

While I have drifted somewhat away from some of his interpretations in recent years, I think his emphasis on clarity and on respect for the music as it is written are lessons that should be driven into the skull of anyone sitting down to a piano.

Posted by Robert at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

Does This Make Me Look Fat?

Ann Althouse properly jumps up and down on a screed by Laura Kipnis bewailing the Evil Sith Power that is the Male Heterosexual Hegemony known as the Beauty Culture and the apparent inability of the Feminist Jedi to combat it. A sampling:

The reason they're incompatible is simple. Femininity is a system that tries to secure advantages for women, primarily by enhancing their sexual attractiveness to men. It also shores up masculinity through displays of feminine helplessness or deference. But femininity depends on a sense of female inadequacy to perpetuate itself. Completely successful femininity can never be entirely attained, which is precisely why women engage in so much laboring, agonizing, and self-loathing, because whatever you do, there's always that straggly inch-long chin hair or pot belly or just the inexorable march of time. (Even the dewiest ingénue is a Norma Desmond waiting to happen.)

Feminism, on the other hand, is dedicated to abolishing the myth of female inadequacy. It strives to smash beauty norms, it demands female equality in all spheres, it rejects sexual market value as the measure of female worth. Or that was the plan. Yet for all feminism's social achievements, what it never managed to accomplish was the eradication of the heterosexual beauty culture, meaning the time-consuming and expensive potions and procedures—the pedicures, highlights, wax jobs on sensitive areas, "aesthetic surgery," and so on. For some reason, the majority of women simply would not give up the pursuit of beautification, even those armed with feminist theory. (And even those clearly destined to fail.)

Fer cryin' out loud. I thought people weren't allowed to write this sort of thing once they'd passed their freshman psych survey courses.

While I heartily agree that the rise in "aesthetic surgery" (you too can look like a porn star!) is an appalling trend, I really don't think that ordinary efforts to look one's best represent a shakling in Revlon-tinted chains. I also believe that anyone who thinks feminity is defined in the Culture today by helplessness and inadequacy has not been paying all that close attention.

I'm a small-f feminist. Most importantly, this means that I believe girls (i.e., the Llama-ettes) should be taught self-respect and self-reliance. In my experience, it's amazing how many of those snakes-in-the-head problems identified by Ms. Kipnis go away when these goals are emphasized instead of the much-vaunted self-esteem. (As an aside, my mother, another small-f feminist, often notes that the first woman doctor in the United States, Elizabeth Blackwell, received her degree in 1849. Since then, Mom says, any woman who truly wants to be a doctor has had no excuse not to.) However, I do not believe that they should be taught that they somehow are not girls.

The trouble with capital-F Feminism (aside from its tarsome politization of everything under the sun) is that in its radical insistence on sweeping away the entire history of male/female sexual relationships with one fell thunderbolt, it seeks to do just that. And because it seeks to do the impossible, it quickly turns into a kind of frustrated self-loathing. Is it really any wonder that women would want to reject such a philosophy?

UPDATE: The Witty Sex Kitten weighs in with a defense of the Eve Ensler play that started all this rigamarole. As I say in response to her post, my main beef is not with Ensler, who I've not read, but with Kipnis' capital-F Feminism, which I believe, as I do with all such identity-based political movements, to be ultimately harmful to most of those who get caught up in it. With regard to the whole marriage competition thing that Ann Althouse expands on in her own follow up post, I am not even really that interested. My philosophy is that if my girls grow up with a proper sense of self-respect and self-reliance, then the results - whatever they might be - will take care of themselves.

UPDATE DEUX: Sheila gets it. But you knew she would.

Posted by Robert at 12:09 PM | Comments (6)

The sound you are hearing is the primal scream of Patricia Cornwell, jumping from her helicopter, sans parachute, into a roiling sea of mediocrity

You know, I'm a big believer in dreaming large, self-improvement and all the rest. I mean, it is New Year's week, and we have to observe the social custom of maintaining the pretense that we are going to somehow institute change and reform in our lives, at least until the new season of the Bachelorette emerges from its cocoon and we can revert to our usual selves.

So it's, like, wrong, to mock someone's dreams. Yet, we all know I'm a bad person, so here goes nothing.

It was bad enough when David Lee Roth became a paramedic. I mean, you've just been in a car accident, they've used the jaws of life to cut you out of the car, you're woozy, things are distorted, they put you in the ambulance, you look up and whammo---you see the face of David Lee Roth leaning over you, what remains of your brain kicks in with the opening riff of Van Halen's seminal "Running with the Devil" and you figure, yep, my goose is cooked, all my link whoring to Allahpundit has cost me my immortal soul, not realizing of course that the former Van Halen front man is just pursuing his life long dream of wearing blue polyester jump suits and running red lights just like Roy and Johnny on Emergency!

So you can see my concern here with the following story, brought to us by the luscious lawyer LawrenKMills, about Britney Spears wanting to, um, like, become a crime scene technician:

Brit has allegedly told friends she is considering swapping her singing career for student life and enrolling at university to study for a degree after being motivated by a TV series.

A source told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper: "It sounds ridiculous but she's been inspired by TV's CSI, which shows scientists solving crimes. Insiders have revealed that the 23-year-old star, who launched her music career at 16, has even consulted 'Star Wars' beauty Natalie Portman - who graduated from prestigious Harvard University two years ago after studying psychology - about her plans to return to education.

A number of things leap instantly to the front of the brain: the picture of Harvard University President Larry Summers howling in laughter over his wheaties, screaming out "Not freaking likely, wonder girl!"; or, the black and white image of angry eastern European late-19th century villagers armed with torches and pitchforks chasing after Jerry Bruckheimer seeking to horribly kill and mutilate his corpse to expiate his sin in creating such a monster that is the CSI franchise.

For me, however, it's the vision of Patricia Cornwell, in a Hitchcockian framing, screaming, with the camera panning out in jarring sequence: close up of the inside of her mouth, then her face, than the room, then the house, then north america, then earth....all the while, the scream of "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...." not diminishing one iota.

I kind of feel bad for Cornwell. Over Christmas I read two of her latest Scarpetta novels, "The Last Precinct" and "Blowfly." The last one could really be retitled "The Case of the Prize Winning Novelist Who Invented the Whole Genre of Post-Modern Forensic Thrillers Who Completely Runs Out of Ideas and Decides to Really Stink Out the Joint." Or, "Scarpetta Gets Old and Bitter," since "Scarpetta, once the coolest Forensic scientist in the world, totally Jumps the Shark" would be way too obvious.


You know a novelist is in trouble when they bring back characters they had killed off three or four stories earlier and then try to in effect rewrite the stories in between in light of this plot twist. So, Benton Wesley never died, was just in some sort of Interpol super secret witness protection (kind of like Dean Wormer's double-secret probation, no?) because he's scared of a French crime cartel, the Fredo of which just happens to be a werewolf. And Lucy--the scrumptious super genius, super buff, uber-lesbian gun nut FBI/ATF agent is now a sleazy assasin for the CIA. Oh, and Marino's gay.


I've never understood why they didn't make a movie or tee-vee show out of Cornwell's characters, but I imagine it might have something to do with her being a world-class control freak. Still, it's a shame that the most popular genre on tee-vee is one she in effect created yet it seems to have burned her out as a writer.

Posted by Steve at 09:59 AM | Comments (5)

What about Darfur?

Not to rain on the "We are the World" moment we are having now (and you know that things have reached that critical mass when they have a special commemoration of "the events in South Asia last week" during corporate schlock-fest that is the BCS game), but what about the Sudan?

A colleague has an excellent op-ed today in the Christian Science Monitor on the topic:

Forced evacuations and mass rapes; brutal ethnic killings and rampaging militias; oil profits and arms sales. The deadly mix of politics, economics, and insecurity has displaced 1.6 million people and killed tens of thousands in the Darfur region of western Sudan since early 2003. The United Nations recently described Darfur as the "world's worst humanitarian crisis."

This is not a humanitarian crisis. It is a war. Humanitarian
assistance, in the absence of political and military engagement, can
actually exacerbate the conflict.

The label "humanitarian crisis" conveniently absolves the rest of the
world from taking political and military action in Darfur. By providing
generous humanitarian assistance, governments and the UN claim to take
meaningful action. But genocide cannot be resolved by donating blankets
and food to the potential victims.

A purely humanitarian approach can worsen the war in three ways. First,
it obscures the political and strategic importance of refugee
populations as potentially destabilizing forces. Second, a humanitarian
response empowers militants and fuels a war economy. And last, by
dispatching aid workers rather than soldiers and politicians,
governments increase the security threats faced by charitable

The crisis has now spread outside Sudan's borders and threatens to
ignite a regional conflict. An estimated 200,000 Sudanese refugees have
escaped from Darfur across the border into Chad. Policymakers and aid
organizations lament the miserable situation of these refugees.

In addition to the human misery they embody, the refugees also have the
potential to spread the conflict further. Refugees present a political
obstacle to the Sudanese government and a political opportunity to the
rebel forces. The mere presence of the refugees represents a potent
indictment of the Sudanese regime. In response to the perceived threat,
Sudanese forces have raided the refugee camps and nearby Chadian
villages. If sufficiently provoked by cross-border attacks, Chad could
enter the conflict. An international war will be even harder to resolve
and contain than the current civil war.

The UN has broadcast desperate appeals for increased funding for basic
necessities - such as tents, food, and medical care. It should also
appeal for improved border security to prevent the spread of war.

Humanitarian assistance empowers the combatants when they control aid
distribution. The combatants - both the Khartoum government and rebel
forces - have used humanitarian assistance as a bargaining chip. The
Sudanese Army and police have repeatedly raided camps for internally
displaced civilians, brutally dispersing the residents. This prevents
aid organizations from providing assistance - and from documenting
human rights abuses committed during the raids.

Rebel groups in Darfur also routinely prevent humanitarian
organizations from accessing desperate civilians. In some cases, rebels
have detained aid workers until they met their captors' demands for
more access to aid resources. Rebels also routinely loot relief
supplies including fuel, medicine, and food. Control over the displaced
people, and the aid meant to sustain them, has become an essential
weapon in the conflict.

Cease-fire violations have made much of the Darfur region unsafe for
aid deliveries. In December, two employees of Save the Children died
when attackers deliberately targeted a clearly marked convoy of
humanitarian aid vehicles. The charity Doctors without Borders also
lost two staff members to violence in the past three months. As
security conditions worsen, more and more aid agencies have withdrawn
from the war zone.

The international response has been paltry. The UN Security Council
called on the Sudanese government to disarm the militias and protect
aid deliveries. But the weakly worded resolution lacked enforcement
mechanisms to back up those demands. The UN General Assembly
collectively avoided responsibility by refusing to vote on a measure
that condemned human rights abuses in Sudan. The 1,000 African Union
troops presently in Darfur do not have a mandate to use force to
protect civilians. They are meant to deter war crimes simply by their

Despite their official neutrality in the conflict, it is the
humanitarian groups that are pressing for greater political and
military action. Oxfam condemned recent Security Council resolutions as
tepid responses. In retaliation, Khartoum expelled Oxfam's country
director. InterAction, the American nongovernmental organization
clearinghouse, implored President Bush to provide funding and support
for the African Union mission.

The only point that all parties agree on is that civilians are
suffering in Darfur. Therefore, as a compromise measure, the
international community has deployed humanitarian organizations to fill
the political and military policy vacuum. Unfortunately, treating the
war purely as a humanitarian disaster only fuels the conflict.

I couldn't agree more.

Posted by Steve at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

Mea Culpa And Gratuitous Llama Advice

In my post yesterday about U.S. aircraft buzzing Iranian nuke sites, I threw up a couple of photos just by way of illustration. As JohnL points out, this skates kinda close to his Aircraft Cheesecake series over at TexasBestGrok. So allow me, by way of royalty payment, to urge you to check out the much larger and better pics that he typically puts up, together with commentary on the planes themselves.

And speaking of ongoing series, John has the latest of his Sci-Fi Babe Polls up. This time, it's the Ladies of Firefly, a show I've never seen. Just going by the pics, tho, I'd say it's a toss-up between Kaylee and Inara.

Someone commented to John a while back that he should do a "Babes of Dr. Who" Poll. I agree and urge all of you to go pester him to do so. And while we're on the subject, I had a sudden flash last evening: If you ever consider going off the reservation a bit, John, how about a "Babes of the Weather Channel" Poll? I'd vote.

(For all of you wrinkling your noses out there - We're guys. So sue us.)

Posted by Robert at 09:11 AM | Comments (5)

Damn Yankees

Browsing around over at the 2 Blowhards, I came across a link to this article by Micheal Lind in the American Prospect. (You may remember that Lind made a media splash as a supposed conservative who "outed" the intellecual bankruptcy of the Right and, for a while, became the darling of the Left. Jonah, for what it's worth, can't stand him. Nonetheless, it's interesting to read what he has to say about the Left's problems.)

Lind's thesis is that political parties in the United States that have become too enamoured of and enslaved by the Puritan-based New England political culture - reformism, intellectual elitism and anti-militarism - have a bad habit of fading into oblivion and goes on to suggest that if the Donks don't break away from this trap soon, they'll be next.

Political history is much more Steve-O's line of country than mine, and while I believe there's a great deal to what the article says, I'd love to get Steve's thoughts on Lind's historical analysis.

Lind goes on to say that talking down to the rest of the country or engaging in faux-populism (both of which tactics were tried by the Kerry Campaign) simply isn't going to work and that the only way for the Donk Blue-Noses to save themselves is to identify and ally themselves with a more moderate political faction, most favorably one based in the Midwest.

While I think Lind's general strategic sense is probably right, his exploration of the details reveals that he really doesn't get it yet and that his solution may, in fact, be impossible. For example, he talks about a Democratic embrace of the "ownership society" concept (which he inexplicably says the Republicans have "co-opted") but in the very next breath, as it were, says the Donks should continue to push for a system of progressive taxation. Uh, Michael - you try handing people a porfolio and a mortgage and then offering to raise their taxes and see how many votes you pull in. My guess is not many.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty points out some potential electoral problems with Lind's strategy.

Posted by Robert at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2005

LLamas In The Med

This is cool. I just noticed we're on the blogroll of Free Thoughts, a blog run by Stefania of Sardinia. Lots of interesting posts on the struggle for freedom (and the attempts of the bad guys to curtail it) in Iran, Iraq, Cuba and other garden spots. Go on over and check her out.

Posted by Robert at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

Good. Let 'Em Sweat.


Via Drudge, Iran is reporting U.S. F-16 and F-18/A fighters spotted on recce runs over some of its nuclear sites.

I hope this is true. I also hope it's scaring the absolute bejeesus out of the Mullahs. We're going to have to deal with these people and their festering nuke program one way or another in the very near future. If they're convinced we won't hesitate to bomb the holy hell out of them, we may not have to.

Posted by Robert at 03:50 PM | Comments (3)

Gratuitous Quality of Life Posting

What with the New Year and all, I've made a couple of adjustments to my life that (I hope) will have some beneficial impact.

First, I managed to secure a reserved parking spot at my Metro station. (I had actually submitted an application a year and a half ago, been placed on the waiting list, and promptly forgot all about it.) This means that I no longer have to get up at 5:15 in order to be sure that I'll get a spot and that on those days when I feel like sleeping a bit late I can do so without having to work out an elaborate drop off/pick up schedule with the Butcher's Wife.

Second, I'm joining the gym in my building. While I used to be something of an exercise fanatic (indeed, I believe I'm an endorphin junky), the past year or so I simply have not had the energy to work out after the long commute home and dealing with the kids. Now I can get my fix in during lunch.

With any luck, a month or two of these new regimes will see a more energetic and focused self. Whether it improves the quality of my blogging....well, you can't have everything.

Posted by Robert at 02:31 PM | Comments (2)

Not On My Watch

Michelle Malkin reports on the Bratzification of Trolls, those stupid little dolls with bug eyes and long hair that some people apparently find cute n' cuddly.

Anybody who has small girls will know that the Bratz are a line of dolls that, well, glorify skankdom. Why on Earth anybody would actually encourage their daughters to play with these things is quite beyond me, but it seems a great number of parents do. Now, apparently, someone has got the bright idea of taking all their worst attributes and grafting them on to other doll lines, all with the aim of targeting four to eight year olds. (Michelle has some suggestions about where this trend might lead. She's being sarcastic, but I'll bet someone, somewhere is even now scratching his head and thinking "Hmmmm.....")

Sigh. Just one more band of roving orcs against which we'll have to shield the Llama-ettes.

Posted by Robert at 11:38 AM | Comments (3)

Another Gollum Twins Sighting


Can someone out there actually document a genuine attraction towards these two? Eeew....

BTW, let's have a contest: Which one is Slinker and which one is Stinker? Discusssssss.......

Yips! to both Lawren and Sadie for the pic. By the way, just who is this Stamos guy? Never heard of him.

Posted by Robert at 10:20 AM | Comments (10)

Ship Of Fools

I have seldom seen such a collection of jaw-droppingly arrogant stupidity as I did perusing this article in the UK Independent which asked "politicians and commentators" if the tsunami disaster might trigger a united global effort to tackle the problems of poverty. Here are a few of the choicer responses:


Western capitalism demands that people must be impoverished. I cannot think that anything will change this year, because we are the ones who have made the world the way it is. I don't believe in altruism.

J G BALLARD, Novelist

It would be one of the biggest breakthroughs mankind has ever experienced if we pooled our wealth in order to look after the poorer people of the world. Sadly, I don't think it will happen.

TONY BENN, Former cabinet minister

It may make people realise that the UN needs to be well-equipped and funded. If people diverted money from weapons and war, we have the technology and money to be able to help - if we decide to do that.

THE RIGHT REV TIM STEVENS, Bishop of Leicester

I am hopeful, but we must see a real commitment to changing the economic relationships between the West and the poorer countries. As well as charitable giving, we need to tackle these fundamental issues.

It strikes me as damn near scandalous that after all these years of abysmal failure of their theory that all we need to do to solve the problem of world poverty is to tax the West back to the Stone Age, it has not yet sunk in on the Left that wealth is created, not distributed. Furthermore, the creation of wealth has nothing to do with the U.N. or international charity or whining over the fair allocation of resources. Instead, it is built on three fundamental principles:

1) Rule of Law

2) Security of Property

3) Education

I absolutely refuse to be hustled by guilt-mongers. When these yo-yo's start thinking seriously about efforts to establish those institutions necessary for the creation of wealth in the Third World, then they can come back and talk to me. (And, BTW, isn't this exactly what Dubya is trying to do in Afghanistan and Iraq?) In the meantime, they can take their "gimme a dollar" rhetoric, stuff it up their backsides and set it alight.

UPDATE: Glenn links to a couple of pieces about the relative merits of trade and aid as means to help developing nations that are well worth reading. But of course, trade with a given country is largely useless unless that country has the mechanisms (hint: see above) in place to take advantage of it. Also, don't misunderstand me - aid in the case of a disaster like the tsunami is absolutely necessary. But what the crown of armchair Marxists above is yammering about is a systemic issue, not an acute emergency.

UPDATE DEUX: Greetings, loyal minions of the Maximum Leader! I should have pointed out earlier that I believe their are, in fact, three possible explanations of this behavior: 1) that these people simply don't get it, 2) that they understand perfectly well but would prefer to live high off the hog on the present system, or 3) some combination thereof. My money is somewhere between 2 and 3.

UPDATE TROIS: Go read Steyn's take. I particularly like his rip on Clare Short because I met her when I worked as a research assistant in Parliament years ago and developed an immediate detestation of her. Heh, indeed.

Posted by Robert at 09:32 AM | Comments (7)


Just to show certain people that it ain't all tea and crumpets here at Llama Central, I was interested to read Michael Goldfarb's piece in the Weekly Standard this morning dealing with some controversy surrounding Chely Wright's Country hit Bumper of My SUV, a song about Wright getting flipped the bird in traffic for carrying a USMC sticker on her bumper.

Apparently, some of Ms. Wright's fan club had been posing as members of military families in order to boost exposure of the song. Wright herself denies any knowledge of the stunt and seems to have caused heads to roll when it was found out. Goldfarb suggests (somewhat unsuccessfully, I think) that Wright's motives in even recording the song to begin with might be more tainted than previously thought.

I can't really get all that worked up about this because I finally heard the song recently and, frankly, didn't think it was very good. To me, there's not that much point in getting caught up in a debate over a song's sentiments or motivation if the music itself is disappointing.

There have been a great many Country songs of late about the war against the Islamofacists. Some of them are, so to speak, geopolitical in scope and as you might expect, are pretty generally Red White and Blue Flag-Waivers. Others, like "Bumper of My SUV," purport to look at things from the point of view of individual soldiers and their families. They tend to stay off the politics and instead focus on the experiences and feelings of the actual people involved. Of this latter category, by far the best one that I've heard is John Michael Montgomery's Letters From Home. (As an aside, as much as I like some of Toby Keith's music, I think his "American Soldier" is rubbish.)

Posted by Robert at 09:08 AM | Comments (3)

January 03, 2005

Getting the Mood Music Right

Our pal Chan the Bookish Gardener has an interesting post (complete with blackline edits!) about a substantial change made by Henry James from an early edition of The Portrait of a Lady, switching out Beethoven and inserting Schubert as the composer whose music is being played when Madame Merle makes her entrance. Chan goes on to muse about the possible reasons behind this change, reflecting on the character and condition of the composers involved as they relate to the book's characters.

I'll come right out and admit that I've only read some of James' short stories and have yet to tackle anything weightier. So I have nothing intelligent to add here. However, it happens that my mother did her Masters thesis on James (albiet her focus was The Golden Bowl), so Mom, if you've ever thought of commenting on a post, this one's for you!

Posted by Robert at 04:02 PM | Comments (1)

Happy Birthday


Today is the anniversary of the birth of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien in 1892. You can nip over to the Tolkien Society homepage to post a toast suitable to the occassion.

Despite a Ring-like temptation to do so, I will refrain from using this milestone as a launching pad for another one of my tirades against the LOTR movies. All I ask of anyone who loves these films is that they read the books if they have not already done so. If, after that, they can reconcile a love of both the movies and the books, then so be it. I simply cannot.

Posted by Robert at 01:56 PM | Comments (10)

Checking in

I'm back in the library today after two weeks of delightful time away from email and the blogosphere. I'm paying the price, though, as I had to delete over 300 emails this morning. Ick. Allegedly, the power cable for the laptop is going to be available tomorrow, so I'll actually be able to post from home, and get back into the swing of things mid-weekish.

Anyhoo, I'm working on two articles at the moment, one on Jefferson, American Indians, and the Supreme Court looking at the legal and political buildup to the Cherokee Removal cases from the 1830s. The other is a survey I'm doing on the evolving idea of civic education---how ideas of teaching citizenship have changed since the 1880s. I'll have more to say about each in the future.

However, I just had to share the following page I found while googling Warren Harding + civic education.

It could well be the single most idiotic piece of paranoid drivel on the entire internet. The sheer magnitude of the stupidity is mind boggling. Let's just say it makes Oliver Stone look like Eugene Volokh. Needless to say, I enjoyed every last bit of it. Best of all, I don't think it's a fake: even though he goes on a side rant about Dick Cheney and Teapot Dome, I think this guy really believes this stuff. And if he's right, I guess then Bill Clinton wasn't our first black president....


Posted by Steve at 01:37 PM | Comments (1)

Ain't. Gonna. Happen.

Newsweek's Evan Thomas has a rather dopey teaser piece about the possibility of J. Francois Kerry taking another shot at the White House in '08.

I'm not much of one for long-term prognostication, but I don't believe this idea for two seconds. The Dems are in the middle of a complete meltdown, but even they wouldn't be insane enough to try and serve up Kerry again. Just imagine the campaign theme: "Kerry in '08. This time, he's got his story straight!"

Seems to me the field is actually going to be Hillary plus a bunch of rising young stars, whom she probably will devour one by one.

Posted by Robert at 10:40 AM | Comments (2)

See Jen. Seen Jen Speak. Speak, Jen, Speak!

Our pal Freakin' Jen reports that her blog host thingy has temporarily tanked. She's posting over at her old blogspot site for the time being.

This has been a Llama Public Service Announcement.

Posted by Robert at 09:50 AM | Comments (1)

College Bawl

John Leo, whose daughter just graduated from the place, busts on my alma mater. There was no naked dorm back in my day (which was just as well, considering the available talent), but most of the rest of his rant brings back the ol' memories.

As a matter of fact, I owe a great deal to the very problems of lock-step liberalism and one-size-fits-all diversity that Leo criticizes. Being one of only a hand-full of genuine conservatives on campus, I spent four years basically fighting for my political life. During that time, I learned an awful lot about how to defend my positions, and for that I am grateful. But Leo is right - the place is not for the faint-hearted.

Posted by Robert at 09:11 AM | Comments (4)

Hook 'Em, Horns!


Slightly belated congratulations to the Texas Longhorns for taking down Michigan in the Rose Bowl this weekend, and doing so in a helluva finish.

Although not a native, I grew up in Texas. Everybody in the state has a loyalty to one of the bigger football programs and our family's was always to UT. Since I went to small Division III schools that set the standard for amateur athletics, when it comes to college ball I never gave up rooting for the 'Horns. Well done, indeed.

And speaking of Texas football loyalties, as if the Rose Bowl win against a school that thoroughly deserved it wasn't sweet enough, I was also delighted to see the Texas A&M Aggies get crushed in the Cotton Bowl. [Insert Nelson Muntz "HA-ha!" here.]

Posted by Robert at 08:58 AM | Comments (4)

January 02, 2005

Ha! Ya Got That? Ha! Ha!

The Missus has been warning me off lately about trying to turn the Llama-ettes into Catholics (which, for the record, I am not trying to do). But this is the same woman who also is trying to turn them into Yankees fans.

That doesn't make much sense to me. Unless it does........

Posted by Robert at 07:03 PM | Comments (3)

New Year's Eve Round-Up - Part II

What New Year would be complete without some resolutions? One of the ones I firmly decided upon over the weekend was that we must get a dog.

You see, the LMC's have a very friendly but energetic young boxer bitch. When we arrived at their house, she immediately caused a screeching panic among the Llama-ettes by jumping up and licking their faces. The rest of the weekend involved a good deal of forcing the dog to work around the girls' sensibilities.

This left me positively aghast. Not only was I embarassed that my kids should be causing the LMC's so much inconvenience, I was more deeply stung by the reason why. That children of mine should be afraid of dogs is absolutely unacceptable. I grew up with dogs and love them. I've had to endure many, many years without them, instead suffering through the surly ingratitude and bloated narcissism of a bunch of cats. To me, non-dog people are unfathomable. I cannot possibly imagine sending my children out into the world with such warped characters.

I have been toying for years with the idea of getting a puppy. This episode seals my resolve. If not this summer, then certainly by the next, we are getting a dog. And remember, it's not for me. To borrow a phrase from Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham, it's For the Children.

UPDATE: In case you're interested, it's almost certain to be a Lab. They're big, dumb, patient and friendly. And they have that quality of wanting to please, which is a good starting point for new initiates into dog ownership.

Posted by Robert at 02:53 PM | Comments (9)

New Year's Eve Round-Up - Part I

Many thanks again to our Llama Military Correspondent and Mrs. LMC for hosting self and family for New Year's. As always, it was great to get together with them again.

Our celebrations tend to be pretty low key. Usually, once dinner is over, we simply sit about and catch up. Sometimes we pop in a movie. Almost invariably, we switch on Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year Whatever-It-Is with about twenty minutes to go, just to see what is happening in Times Square.

This year, I detracted from (or added to, depending on how you see it) the conversation by promptly dozing off in my chair. Lest anyone get any ideas that this was the result of the Llama not being able to hold his liquor, I will assert here and now that such was not the case, and that I'd simply had a very long day. (You try road-tripping with three small hyperactive children and see how long you last on the party circuit.)

Anyhoo, I came back to the surface about fifteen or twenty minutes before midnight and damme if the first things I didn't see on the tee-vee were the beady eyes and rat-like, crack-etched visage of "Snoop Dogg" apparently wishing Dick Clark a fizzizzly New Year or something. I tell you truly that I loathe and despise that man. So far as I can see, there is no redeeming aesthetic or social quality in him whatsoever. I would also point out to those people in Hollywood who have decided to bring Mr. "Dogg" and his ilk into the mainstream that there are no release clauses in contracts signed with the devil.

Posted by Robert at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)
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