December 31, 2005
New Year's Resolutions from Steve the LLamabutcher
I just trolled through the archives to see if I had posted anything remotely droll on earlier New Year's Eves, in the vain attempt to do a post hoc web regurge of the meaning of the big picture.
So let me start a new tradition and post my New Year's Resolutions and Predictions, and we'll all check back in a year to see how I did.
First, my resolutions for O-Six:
1. Eat more guacamole
When I was in college, I suffered from horrible allergies. Basically, I went all four years with an extremely clogged sinus. The downside of this was that certain "friends" were known to cue into the power chord from "Aqualung" upon sight of me~the musical cue for "snot is dripping down his nose DEEEAH dum DAHH!" In vain, my Saintly Mother (TM) took me to an allergist who proceeded to run some rather painful tests, the net result was that I was supposedly allergic to "dust," "grass" etc. Gee, thanks, Doc. But what was impressed on my teenage mind by this hack was that I was also lethally allergic to avacados, and that if I were ever to have the evil green fruit, I was sure to shrivel up and die. Now, living as I did among a proud Hugenot American family amid the culinary wilds of New England, this did not pose much of a challenge, as the closest one would get to the actual avacado was by touching someone's horriblely tinted Sears Kenmore refrigerator. Somehow this appealed to my nascent and latent Calvinism, the idea of death lurking in nachos, and not the slow death of heart disease but sudden, instantaneous death swooping down like a bad strip club bouncer on a slightly too enthusiastic tipper.
Turns out, the good doctor was wrong on two counts: what I was actually allergic to was my shampoo (which I discovered soon after I left college), and was such an obvious call I should have sued the weasel for malpractice (pain and suffering from lost nookie due to excessive avoidable snot). Now, this should have alerted me to the fact that this guy was A) an idiot , and B) did I mention he was an idiot? No? He was an idiot. Yet, somehow, the ancient taboo ingrained upon my teenage brain (AVACADO = DEATH) remained, lingering like some Calvinistic notion of predestination and eternal damnation. But when I was in Dallas in October, I relented, and, as the great Joe Buck would say, "Oh. My. Goodness."
So 2006 will be the Year of the Guacamole at Rancho Non-Sequitor.
2. Be more of a dick at work
Yeah, I know, New Year's Resolutions are supposed to be about "spending more time with the family" and "be nicer to people and fluffy puppies" and "become more cultured." But I spend enough time with the family as it is, my idea of high culture is a Kurt Russell double feature and some Pabst Blue Ribbon (hey, hon, Big Trouble in Little China AND Dark Blue back to back! Hon? Must not have heard me) and, frankly, fluffy puppies annoy the crap out of me.
Chai-rista can back me up on this one: things really suck at work right now. The powers that be are in lying weasel mode 24/7. Believe it or not, I have tried the "high road" crap---I have really, really tried. And it's produced nothing but, errr, a whole lot of nothing. So it's pushback time, folks, time to call a spade a spade. Tenure doesn't protect academic freedom---that's a cruel lie. But it does mean you never have to say you're sorry.
I feel liberated already. Call it getting in touch with my proud Hugenot-American heritage. My people were kicked out of all the decent countries in Europe because, quite frankly, they were annoying as crap: self-righteous, narrow-minded, severely pious about the not really important things in life, difficult, obstinate, cheap, and not very snappy dressers. Heck, even the Pilgrims didn't like having them around and they weren't exactly a bunch of loosey-goosey, Blue state polyamorous brie-eaters. They would, however, fit in wonderfully to American higher ed today, fitting the model of a post-modern humanities professor to a "T", as long as you drain all that Christ-crap out of it.
Not quite in a bring a horse into the Dean's Office and kill it sort of way, but much more in the Deathmobile crashing into the stands genre.
3. Watch more bad movies
My resolution last year to "Just ignore the crap out of Jimmy Fallon" paid off handsomely, and ignoring the whole SNL franchise's efforts saved a lot of heartache (you could do a whole "Bye, bye, Mister Rob Schneider" to the tune of Don McLean's opus). Tina Fey just isn't doing it for me anymore.
That said, there are whole genres that have passed me by. The eldest turned 9 today, the youngest is 11 months. I'll confess it loudly: I've never seen Pulp Fiction, any of the American Pie franchise (except for about 1/3 of the third one on HBO), only the first season of the Sopranos (and the first episode of the last season), not to mention large chunks of the early Wilson brothers oevre. Yes, yes, I realize this lowers me in the eyes of many of you (I can hear Sadie screaming "I KNEW he was an orgling fraud!"), but it's confessional time. That said, I have seen the whole Ben Stiller genre (including, sadly, the Polly movie with Jennifer Aniston, on a plane......the only movie that actually made me feel sympathetic to Ross Geller). But still, vast, gaping holes remain to be filled that should take years to fill the breach.
In Oh-six I resolve not to let my ignorance grow any larger than it already is.
4. Stop mooching off my neighbor's wireless router
Yes, I'm an (occasional) wireless thief. Like right now, for instance. Bad. Bad LLama. Bad stinkin' LLama.
This year I promise to actually get the wireless and the broadband-thingee, if only to whup Robbo's perfumed heinie in Age of Empires II.
5. Be meaner to people at work
I already mentioned this one, but wanted to clarify: not to the students, except those who deserve it, and not to the staff---just my lying, stinking, faux-intellectual Marx-citing yet discriminatory in hiring colleagues.
6. Blog more
This was a good year at LLama Manor, exceeding all our goals for traffic, ads, etc. But the coolest thing is starting to spring out blogs from our friends. I feel we've suceeded when we have our whole ring of friends from college with blogs of their own. Keith----you're next.
It continues to be a great honor and privilege, not to mention a daily kick, to co-blog with Robbo: he's easily the best co-author a blogger could ever ask for. He's the real deal: steady, consistent, professional, polished, erudite, witty, and insightful, while I'm staggering incoherently across the stage, mumbling something quasi-obscene into the microphone before collapsing off the stage into
a pool of my own vomit. So, it's basically the long-awaited pairing of Yo Yo Ma with Ozzy Osbourne, and let's face it, I'm the one who is the better for it.
I've noted before that one of the unexpected things about blogging now into our third year, and going onto our 7000th posting (!?!?), the style has changed not just of writing but of reading: the more I blog, the more I come to appreciate "the blogger's blog" that's not the most popular (or even in the top 100) of popularity, but that has developed a solid style and distinct voice that makes it like a great small vineyard amidst a great sea of Huffington Shar-D'OH-neigh.
The new standard I've tried to develop is to become the blogger whose blog I would want to read. In other words, who are the bloggers that are my target audience, those who, when their tracks show up in the referal logs, make me smile? (This doesn't include of course My Pet Jawa or INDC Journal: we go way back with Rusty and Bill, and in each of their own ways they are blogs that we are inately tied to).
Blogs that I aspire to be read by in 2006:
Blogs that are the gold-standard that I aspire to be more like:
The last thing I resolve to do, blog wise, is to work with Phin so we can have a multiple skin format: classic mafia, as well as some others.
And I do hereby resolve to take down the garish Yuletide template.
UPDATE: The robitussen shots I was doing were obviously getting to me, as I missed the most obvious resolution of all: to turn this blog into a 24/7 virtual shrine to everything that is French Nooz Babe Melissa Theuriau.
And I can hear Robbo's Mom shrieking, "And now it is........?"
Seriously: if Reynolds can have his goodie-goodie "PorkBusters" dedicated to trimming congressional fiscal excess, why can't we have our nookie-nookie "TheuriauLusters" dedicated to, ummm, trimming congressional fiscal excess? (How's that for the new euphamism.)
So my resolution to you is less Dennis Hastert
and more Melissa Theuriau.
Happy New Year!
We're off to a neighbor's to have a Greenwich Mean Time New Year's party so that all the kids can ring in 2006.
After that, as has been the custom for years and years, our Llama Military Correspondent and family will be arriving at the Butcher's House for appropriate revelry.
I have already been strictly warned by the Missus that the LMC and I are forbidden from a) watching Firefly and b) blogging.
UPDATE: Sparklers for the kiddies at the early party. The three year old's dress turns out to be flammable. Who knew?
Llama Wedding Yips!
Congratulations and best wishes to our pal Jen and her Beau who are getting married today!
December 30, 2005
Omnia Memia In Tres Partes Divita Est
Lifted from Rachel:
1. Beatles, Stones or Beach Boys? I'm going to be difficult and go with the Beach Boys just because of their very good polyphony. I read somewhere that the Wilson's father was a composer of military band music or some such, which is where they got their knowledge of multipart harmony.
YIPS from Steve: Stones, although they should have an option for John Lee Hooker here.
2. Kant, Hegel, Marx? Pass.
YIPS from Steve: Marx---he's wrong, but always interesting. Kant is annoying as crap (which is why he's so appealing to simplistic humanities types---see my New Year's Resolution above about Being a Dick At Work), and Hegel is incomprehensible, even in German.
3. Cluedo, Monopoly, Scrabble? Dunno what Cleudo is. Monopoly, I suppose, although the greatest board game ever made is Diplomacy.
YIPS from Steve: Clue, although Robbo was extremely close---the best board game of all time is Risk.
4. Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford? Paul Newman.
YIPS from Steve: Neuman. Two words: Cool Hand Luke.
Okay, that's three, but you get my point. Redford is a pretty boy, Nicholson an advertisement for new extra strength Thorazine.
5. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart? Tough, tough. Have to go with Bach if pressed, though.
YIPS from Steve: I'm going to have to go with Bach, here, as Catherine was just great in the original Dukes of Hazard. Don't know about the other two---weren't they on Golden Years or something?
6. Australia, Canada, New Zealand? Ere! Is your name not Bruce? That's gonna cause a bit uh confusion.
YIPS from Steve: Advance Australia Fair
Only other country on earth I would want to call home.
7. Groucho, Chico, Harpo? Chico, because of his outstanding piano riffs. Eh, 'ats za mattah for you?
YIPS from Steve: Groucho, only because I'm contentious.
8. Morning, afternoon, evening? Evening.
YIPS from Steve: Evening.
9. Bridge, Canasta, Poker? Eh.
10. Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou? Only ever seen The Big Lebowski, so have to go with the Dude.
YIPS from Steve: The Dude, although Fargo is in its own league.
11. Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau? Locke.
YIPS from Steve: Are you kidding me? Hobbes. I'd pay good money to hear Clint Eastwood read aloud chapter 16 with its "And the life of man, solitary, poor brutish, nasty, and short."
12. Cricket, football (soccer), rugby? Cricket.
YIPS from Steve: rugby.
13. Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte? Jane Austen.
YIPS from Steve: Grrrr......Jane Austen.
14. Parker, Gillespie, Monk? Gillespie.
15. Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham? Pass.
16. Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld? Seinfeld. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
YIPS from Steve: Cheers. But the correct answer is "Night Court."
17. Henry Fonda, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart? Have to go with Cary, despite having realized half way through My Favorite Wife that it was just a rehash of The Awful Truth. And Jimmy comes a very close second.
YIPS from Steve: Mah-mah-Mary?
18. France, Germany, Italy? Italy.
YIPS from Steve: Screw em all, frickin' fascists.
19. Apple, orange, banana? Banana.
YIPS from Steve: apples.
20. Statham, Tyson, Trueman? Dunno. Who?
21. Rio Bravo, El Dorado, Rio Lobo? Of course, it's the same damn movie done three times. Going with El Dorado for the sake of Robert Mitchum.
22. Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Ingrid Bergman? The divine Kate, of course.
YIPS from Steve: Duh.
23. Chinese, Indian, Thai? Eh, Chinese, although I'm not much of a fan of any of them.
24. Handel, Scarlatti, Vivaldi? Handel.
25. Oasis, Radiohead, Blur? I don't know what this means.
26. Fawlty Towers, The Young Ones, Yes Minister? Fawlty Towers. Only don't mention the war!
YIPS from Steve: By a mile.
27. Chekhov, Ibsen, Shaw? Shaw.
YIPS from Steve: Well, I'm more of a Sulu guy, but I can go with Chekov here.
28. American football, baseball, basketball? Baseball.
29. FDR, JFK, Bill Clinton? FDR. This is a serious choice?
YIPS from Steve: Please---FDR.
30. Lenin, Luxemburg, Trotsky? Pass. Communist dirt bags.
YIPS from Steve: Trotsky, if only because he was the first to die. I went to a costume party in college dressed as Trotsky, and let me tell you, it's not easy getting a fake ice-pick in your head....
31. Paris, Rome, New York? Roma.
32. Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Steinbeck? Fitzgerald.
33. Blue, green, red? Blue.
34. Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, West Side Story? Pass. I don't really like musicals.
YIPS from Steve: "I've got a horse right here, her name is Gueniverre, and a guy who says when the weather is clear...."
35. J.S. Mill, John Rawls, Robert Nozick? J.S. Mill.
YIPS from Steve: Nozick. Anarchy, the State, and Utopia rules.
36. Armstrong, Ellington, Goodman? Goodman.
37. Ireland, Scotland, Wales (at rugby)? Scots Wha Hey!
38. The Sopranos, 24, Six Feet Under? Pass. Never actually watched any of 'em.
39. Friday, Saturday, Sunday? Saturday.
40. Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear? King Lear, prob'ly.
41. Fried, boiled, scrambled (eggs)? Fried.
42. Paths of Glory, Cross of Iron, Saving Private Ryan? Pass. Only ever seen Ryan.
43. England, Australia, West Indies (at cricket)? England.
44. Chabrol, Godard, Truffaut? Eh?
45. Bringing It All Back Home, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks? Pass. Don't know what this means.
46. Trains, planes, automobiles? Trains.
47. North By Northwest, Psycho, Vertigo? N by NW.
48. Third, Fourth, Fifth (Beethoven Piano Concerto)? I know it's not his best, but I've always liked the Third.
49. Coffee, tea, chocolate? Coffee. Please. Now.
50. Cardiff, Edinburgh, Dublin? Edinburgh.
The Missus is off to the Baltimore Aquariam today with the Llama-ettes and expects me to take care of some painting jobs while she's gone.
On the other hand, I'm deep into David McCullough's 1776 and I also feel I haven't yet played enough Age of Mythology.
This is the kind of dilemna by which husbands get into trouble. What will I do? Stay tuned.....
UPDATE: Well, it looks as if the call of duty wins this round. I reckon that satisfying my civic responsibilities this afternoon will buy me some indulgence later on.
UPDATE DEUX: A solid afternoon's worth of touching up the basement paint job. I didn't actually fall off the step ladder with a half-full gallon can of paint from jamming to Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall concert, but I came pretty damn close.
I have to confess that I am nowhere near enough of a gamer-geek to easily succomb to the lure of the computer when left on my own. Also, the Missus is quite adept at using both carrot and stick to get what she wants done. Suffice to say that her incentive package is hard to resist.
However, now that I'm done, it's back to the Battle of Brooklyn......
December 29, 2005
Gratuitous Llama Movie Review
Just got back from taking the five and seven year olds to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. All I can say is that there must have been some dust or mold in the theatre air because my eyes kept watering. (Shut up, man.)
Really, it was beautifully done, both in terms of scenery and portrayl of the book's characters, especially the children (although see below). As you might imagine, I am something of a sucker for heartstring-pulling that involves little girls. Lucy was absolutely enchanting.
Nonetheless, I know you would be disappointed if I didn't have just a few cranky things to say. Therefore, in order to head off a flood of protesting emails, I will offer a few general comments:
First, I don't know about other parents, but I found that this movie was right out on the edge of what my gels could take in terms of violence and scary monsters. They may not have nightmares about wolves chasing them tonight, but then again, they might. (This isn't crankiness, but more of a warning. This really isn't a kiddie film.)
Second, in terms of faithfulness to the book, the movie was pretty good, mostly fiddling with things that were not crucial to the story. I did notice that some of the dialogue was trimmed or modified to take the more obvious Christian imagery out, although the underlying themes of sacrifice and redemption remained intact. That really didn't trouble me too much. What did trouble me was where the movie messed about with the children, tinkering with their motivations and relationships. This was particularly the case with Peter. I found his constant resistance to getting involved in Narnia's affairs rather tiring after awhile. First Aragorn, now him. What is it with Hollywood and reluctant heroes these days?
That brings me to the battle scene, where it was perfectly obvious that the producers had a bad case of LOTR on the Brain. Somebody commented not long ago here about the nice "medieval" feel of the book, compared with Tolkien's massive opus. The movie keeps to this feeling pretty well until the fighting begins, at which time it is tossed away in favor of epic-scale struggle. Now, you may or may not like this sort of thing. But it's been done so often the same way now that I feel like Industrial Light & Magic is just going through the motions.
Finally, as for the addition of the Blitz scene at the beginning of the movie, what are we to make of the parallel between Heinkels dropping bombs on London and pro-Aslan eagles dropping rocks on the White Witch's army? Is the message that all war is hell? That Hitler and Aslan are morally equivalent? Or was it just decided that the two images made good visual bookends? My guess is that somebody didn't parse this out quite as carefully as they might have done.
There. I think that's about all I can find to quibble with. Oh, except for the soundtrack. Call it the Braveheart Effect, but could we have a knightly tale without obligatory Celtic-themed music for a change? I'm a Celt myself, and even I'm tired of it.
Okay, that's really it. Overall, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit and give it the Llama Robbo Stamp of Approval.
ANNUAL DAN RATHER AWARDS FOR SPIN AND BIAS
From the Cincinnati Enquirer's Peter Bronson. (I particularly like the purple-finger-told-you-so award).
Phin, this is for you. The renowned Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati, Ohio has the best ribs in the Midwest. Known to the locals as The Boathouse for its location on the banks of the Ohio, this is a must-see if your travels take you to the city formerly known as Porkopolis. My father in law ensures we eat there at least once every time the LMC horde is in town. God bless him.
Where's Robbo? - Part Deux
A rainy, foggy day here in Northern Virginia, so self is taking the older Llama-ettes off to catch a matinee of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
In order to try and head off distracting questions during the film itself, I spent the better part of breakfast giving a crash tutorial on the London Blitz. I'm still puzzled as to why the director felt the need to pad out what was dismissed with a single sentence in the book and could easily have been dealt with by means of a quick voice-over, unless there is supposed to be some kind of message about parallel eeeeeevil in our world and Narnia. (The other explanation might be that coo-el computer generated special effects are a recognized crowd pleaser and more makes better, but movie studios would never stoop to something like that.) Perhaps all will be made clear once I see it.
Stand by for a review later on. And just for the record, I am not going in predisposed to dislike the film.
December 28, 2005
Compliments of the Missus, I've been playing around with this all afternoon: Age of Mythology - Gold Edition.
It's basically a souped up version of Age of Empires. However, instead of a bunch of priests standing around and saying, "Aiyo! Aiyo! No no noooo," the religion component is covered by all sorts of mythical beasties and heroes. Plus, it has some coo-el God effects, like being able to call a meteor shower down on the bad guy camp. I still haven't figured all of these components out, but the crisp yet seductive British Babe-voiced tutorial is slowly working me through it.
CONFESS YOUR MOST RECENT HOLIDAY FAUX PAS
I will start. I made two mistakes: First, I mistakenly thought my father-in-law's rendition of an English Christmas carol on a trumpet was the theme from The Godfather. Second, I verbalized it. Anyone else?
Yips! from Robbo: I stayed up waaaay too late Christmas night playing Playstation 2 golf against my brother and we both slept late the next day, leaving it to our respective Missusees to deal with the children, all of whom were in near berserker mode with excitement.
Today's editorial page of The Wall Street Journal has an excellent piece by Robert F. Turner on FISA and the Constitution. Among the several interesting points he makes is that Congress may authorize military action by resolution without the necessity of a formal declaration of war, citing Bas v. Tingy (1800) and Talbot v. Seamon (1801). There is a libertarian morning talk radio host in Norfolk whose program I listen to more often than not who seems to think the GWOT is unlawful because there has been no formal declaration of war. I suspect that the point comes up rather frequently among the anti-war crowd.
Britain developing a more "nuanced" view of Germany?
Ace busts a cap on it: hey, I'm a sucker for a post that bitch slaps Hitler AND David Hasselhoff in the same breath.
2. Killed north of 30 million people, a good fraction of that in industrialized state-sanctioned murder-factories, but still whine about the bombing of Dresden, as if they weren't begging for it -- for crying out loud, look what we did to Japan, and they didn't even kill Glenn Miller.
I had forgotten about Glenn Miller.
Adventures in LLamabutcher Land
I'm off for an overnight trip with The Dear One and the clowns down to Williamsburg.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of Tasty Bits
Snarky commentary and colonial analysis to follow (hey, so I can write the trip off on my taxes....)
December 27, 2005
Christmas Week at Rancho Non-Sequitor
Life moves at a different pace in the week between Christmas and New Years at Rancho non-sequitor. Yesterday, we had our annual trip to the Sears to get the picture of the kiddies done. The Dear One figured out quite by accident that the only sane time to go and do this was the day after Christmas, when the Sears has the relative peace and quiet of a I-81 trailer meth lab the day after a Hank Williams Jr. concert. The family tradition then calls for a trip to our local pizza place, followed by a trip to Barnes and Noble for the kids to start using the gift cards they got from relatives. All in all a good day.
More coming later: a review of the alt-history masterpiece The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (which created the whole new sub-genre of the memoir as alt-history); a resounding bitch-slapping neener to the dubious fools and tools in my profession who fell hook, line, sinker, and Vanguard of the Proletariat membership card for the whole FBIGestapo Interlibrary loan story (what should have tipped other people off to the utter bogosity of the story were 1. the idea of a college library not having multiple nay dozens of copies of the works of Mao, and B. the idea of a kid from the UMass system ordering a book through ILL instead of just accessing it off of the internet.)
A quick glance around the blogroll: the Colossus has way too much time on his hands, modifying Madden 06 so as to play the Notre Dame Bowl Game ahead of time. Modifying Madden is a sacrilege! (It's heartwarming to know we are #2 on Google for "Madden 05 Lesbian Bar fight cheerleaders")Plus, it's not like it's something culturally useful like creating new scenarios for Age of Empires: the Conquerors or something.
The first step, Beth, is to admit you have the problem---we're just happy you realized it before you swallowed the kool-aid.
Just because it's a religious holiday doesn't mean the incessant slime sewer of celebrity gossip dries up: Oprah flipped the bird. Which reminds me of one of my favorite jokes an aircraft engineer friend used to tell: they were designing a new windshield for a jet aircraft and wanted to test that it could survive collisions with birds, so they bought a large canon like device to shoot a bird carcas at the appropriate speed at the window to see if it would not break. For fear of getting into trouble with environmentalists by using live birds, they decided to use turkey carcasas--safe, and plentiful. They put my buddy in charge of it because he was just out of college and, well, who the heck wants to clean up after it, right? After about a month, and several dozen busted windscreens and some serious cost overruns to the company, the director of the program finally came to the floor to see what was causing the failure. Watching the test---loading the turkey, shooting it out of the cannon at the plane mock-up, busting through the window, creating a hell of a mess, he took one look at my buddy and said, "You f*&^%&*^ dumbass----THE TURKEY IS SUPPOSED TO BE DEFROSTED!"
I don't know why that joke always cracks me up.
And last for now, Red has a great roundup on the birthday of film great Marlene Dietrich.
December 25, 2005
Merry Christmas From The Llama Butchers!
(Pinned to the top until Christmas Day. Scroll on down for fresh Tasty Bits (TM)).
This past weekend's carols and lessons service at church finally got me into the Christmas spirit. With that in mind, I can't think of any better way of expressing myself than what I said last year.
Although it is generally silly to speak of transcendence and cartoons, I've always felt that there was one very important exception to this rule, namely, Linus' recitation of Luke 2:8-14 in "A Charlie Brown Christmas". Even as a kid, I recognized that there was something very special about the moment when Linus walks out to the front of the stage, the lights go dim around him, everything is hush and he begins to speak in calm, measured tones:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
As ridiculous as it may sound, just hearing and reading these words again causes me to start tearing up. And Linus is absolutely right: This is the true meaning of Christmas.
I sometimes used to wonder how it was that in the midst of a rather poorly animated cartoon voiced over by a gang of child actors this moment could have come off as perfectly as it does, suddenly passing beyond the limits of the medium and touching on the greatest of glories. But it occured to me that the answer is really quite simple: Because Charles Schultz believed in what Linus said. I do, too. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
On that note, I wish to express my warmest wishes for the season to all of you who drop by our little piece of silliness, whether you're regular readers or just passing through. I'm sure plenty of you follow different faiths than I do, or may not even have a faith. That's okay. The message of Christmas on earth is not confined to a select group of believers but, as the man says, extends to everyone.
Merry Christmas and God bless you all, every one
FLASH IN THE PAN CHICKS-FIREFLY DIVISION
It would not be a Sunday evening without your favorite recurring feature by yours truly. Tonight: Christina Hendricks a/k/a Saffron a/ka/a Mrs. Reynolds. Best attributes: big lips, red hair. Message for the singles out there: if she is anything like her most famous character, the woman is strictly stunt dating material.
December 23, 2005
Christmas Din-Dins Survey
Ith is asking particulars about people's Christmas Dinner habits.
Well, in my family it's always, always been the same thing: Dinner around 4-ish, consisting of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with two veg. Often we start out with hors d'oeuvres of bacon wrapped around water chestnuts, and we usually finish off with port and Stilton cheese.
Looking back, I can't think of a single Christmas Dinner that hasn't followed this basic pattern. But am I looking forward to it when we go off to my brother's house on Sunday? Oooooooh, yeah.
Another Time-Honored Christmas Tradition
The latest batch of Christmas cards and photos came in the mail today, prompting me to ask the Missus yet again, "Dear, who are these people?"
However, we also received a card from Llama-friend Kathy the Cake Eater. One of the top reasons I enjoy blogging is the friendships that have sprung up as a result, and it was genuinely gratifying that Kathy thought of us. Merry Christmas, indeed.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division
Baptista - Purple Smoke
Even though we're well into the depths of winter, the latest round of gardening catelogs has arrived and I'm starting to chew on ideas for the spring planting.
A couple of years ago, I tried to plant some lupines in my garden. Unfortunately, it really is just too hot for them here. This has always bothered me because, like Dennis Moore, I'm very fond of them.
Well, it seems the folks at Wayside Gardens have been reading my mind, because this year they're flogging wild indigo (Baptista) as an alternative. In addition to the purple pictured above, they also carry yellow and white varieties.
I'm strongly inclined to give it a try. Any of you gardeners out there have an opinion on indigo?
Scots Wha Hey!
Where's the ACLU? Highland heritage is being mocked, mocked I tell ye, in the wilds of Missouri.
After Nathan Warmack and his date posed for [high school prom] pictures, principal Rick McClard, who had not previously seen the kilt, told the student he had to go change. Warmack refused a few times and said the outfit was recognizing his heritage.
Warmack alleges McClard told him: "Well, this is my dance, and I'm not going to have students coming into it looking like clowns." McClard later said he had no recollection of saying that, Warmack's dad said. The principal did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The school district's superintendent, Ron Anderson, said McClard has the authority under the district's dress code policy to judge appropriate dress for extracurricular activities, including dances.
"It's mainly to protect from the possibility of a disruption or something that could be viewed as a disruption," Anderson said.
Several Scottish heritage organizations are angry, saying the kilt is a symbol of Scottish pride and considered formal dress.
"To say the traditional Scottish dress makes you look like a clown is a direct insult to people of Scottish heritage and those who live in Scotland," said Tom Wilson, a Texas commissioner for the Clan Gunn Society of North American, a Scottish heritage organization.
As a Scot myself, I am outraged! Furthermore, I hereby demand immediate reparations for my pain and suffering. Pony up, ye anti-Caledonian bastards!
UPDATE: Punch line to dirty Scottish joke: "She's in the distillery making Johnny Walker Red."
SERENITY-the LMC take
Movie review: Oh hell YES! Reinforced my earlier random observation--River and Zoe can back me up in a bar fight any day.
December 22, 2005
The eldest Llama-ette's interest in Greek mythology continues unsated. This evening, I found myself reading a somewhat different take on things:
Apparently part of a "Myth-O-Mania" series, this book purports to be a retelling of the story of Atalanta and Methalion from the point of view of Hades, who claims that the generally accepted version is a fabrication put forth by Zeus to make himself look better.
Well, "Fractured Fairy Tales" it ain't.
In fact, the book appears to be something closer to Yuppie mythology - Hades tells the story while sipping on a "mocha-nectar-latte" while Queen Persephone chats with Artemis on her cell phone. Also, the language is very up to date - the Caledonian Boar, who has morphed into a professional wrestler, breaks out in rap at one point. On top of this, a certain amount of Grrrrl Power seems evident in the early chapters, as Persephone shames Hades into helping her with Spring because the Goddesses work much harder than the lazy Gods and he owes her.
I suppose the idea behind all of this, apart from injecting some p.c. flava, is to put the story into terms that kids can "relate to" on the theory that this will get the kids more interested in the subject. But I'm suspicious of how much good this might do - at the gel's age, I used to love stories of this sort precisely because they took me out of my normal experiences and into strange, new worlds.
Well anyway, the verdict is still out on this. The Llama-ette seems to be enjoying the story, in large part because she knows the original well enough to see the humor in the retelling. Anybody else out there have any experience with this series and/or thoughts about it?
The Six Meat Buffet Kwistmakah Gift Selection keeps getting better and better
And I thought after their "Hoist the White Flag Stratego for Democrats" they couldn't be topped, now comes "Monopoly: Emminent Domain" edition.
This just might make it into the article I've been procastinating on about the Kelo decision.
I'll be slowly roasted for this one...
UPDATE: Okay, okay, that was wrong of me to run such a clearly doctored picture of the Pope. Bad, bad, bad---a futile, asymetrical skirmish in the kulturkampf against Christmas upon orders from our overlord masters at The Nation.
In the interest of fairness, here is the original unaltered pic of Pope Benedict XVI in his cheeky Christmas garb:
The LLamas in Pajamas Scandal
Dan over at Riehl World View has been busting a cap over our entre into the celebrity children's book market:
Here's what I had originally submitted to our editor (damn his dark soul!):
Yips! from Robbo: Dayum! Senior Week comes back to haunt me - I'd thought the non-disclosure rule was in full force and effect.
Johnny Damon Hearts A-Rod
I'm not entirely sure, although I did receive a rather garbled email about Johnny
Demon Damon, second-hand sausage grinders and did I happen to know Hannibal Lecter's telephone number?
I'll keep you posted.
Serious Pre-Holiday Food Coma Posting
Most of my office takes off for the holidays tomorrow, so a bunch of us went out for a big lunch today.
As large Mexican food platters are a radical departure from my usual sandwich, chips and apple, suffice to say I got nothing this afternoon.
I will say that my best score on penguin baseball is about 319 feet. I don't think you can get too much farther than that.
UPDATE: If penguin baseball isn't your thing, from Dave's J.S. Bach Page, here's Cantata No. 1 "Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage!" from Bach's Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248. I've never heard a choral work in midi before. Strange. But it gives you the idea. I'll probably go home and listen to the real deal tonight.
Dispatches From The Christmas Wars
A copy of A Blue's Clues Holiday made its way from the local library into the Llama-ette bedtime reading cycle last evening. The gels have never really been huge Blue's Clues fans, but from what I've seen of the show it seemed harmless enough. So I didn't expect the book to be anything more than a collection of simple cookies n' crafts projects.
Which it was, at first. But then it got bizarre. You see, once Blue and Steve get all their presents together, they go off to their neighbors to find out about their holidays. The first house they visit is celebrating Christmas. And what is Christmas? Well, according to the book, it's a celebration of "birth". Not a birth, not the birth, just birth. "Hey!" the five year old said, "They forgot about Jesus!"
So you see, kids, Christmas really is just a solstice thing. Happy Birthday to all of us!
The next house Blue and Steve visited was celebrating Hanukkah. And what is Hanukkah? Well, according to the book, it's a celebration of "light". Not a miracle of light, not a sign of covenant between God and the Jews, just light.
So you see, kids, anybody can celebrate Hanukkah - all you need is a candle! (But ask your caregiver first, of course.)
The last house Steve and Blue visited was celebrating - what? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? That's right, it was Kwanzaa! And what is Kwanzaa? Well, according to the book, it's a celebration of "togetherness". And oddly enough, that's the only accurate description in the book. But because there's really nothing more to Kwanzaa than that, the book had to work backwards to strip all the real meaning out of Christmas and Hanukkah in order to make them all appear equal.
Because after all, kids, there's really no difference between a couple of 2000 year old religious traditions and a piece of feel-good social engineering cobbled together by a guy in California in the late 60's! In the end, what you celebrate doesn't even really matter, so long as it's a nice thing - it's the fact that you're celebrating that counts.
Last night I watched the two episodes that I have not seen thus far on either DVD or the re-runs on the Sci Fi Channel: "Our Mrs. Reynolds" and "War Stories." Random observations: Robbo, you were right about Inara, her clientele is "mostly" male. Zoe and River can back me up in a bar fight any time. Kaylee needs to stick to the engines--she lost points for losing her nerve, lost more points for banging the ship's first mechanic, but made up for lost ground by taking his job. Saffron turned out to be a player after all. Money line from Jayne: "I'll be in my bunk." Tonight: Serenity
December 21, 2005
Riddle Me This....
If I want to change some function on the cable box, DVD or tee vee with the remote, I have to aim with the skill of a seasoned marksman.
If the cat casually steps on the remote as it lies on the sofa, suddenly I'm watching Armenian game shows.
As the kids like to say, what's up with that?
Four jobs you've had in your life: medical lab tech, grocery store deli clerk, golf club bagboy, lawyer.
Four movies you could watch over and over: Actually, there are lots. When I like a movie, as when I like a book, I return to it many times. At random, then: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Holiday, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Four places you've lived: New York, Texas, Connecticut, Virginia
Four TV shows you love to watch: I'm going to include past favorites, since I hardly watch regular tee vee any more: Barney Miller, Cheers, Dave Letterman (the NBC years), The Simpsons.
Four places you've been on vacation: Alaska, England, Maine, Disney World (shudder - the old wound still aches).
Four of your favorite foods: steak, roast beef with Yorkshire pud, lobster, veal.
Four places you'd rather be: Blandings Castle, aboard H.M.S. Surprise, Bag End, Shreelane House.
UPDATE: As long as we're at it , here's a similar meme lifted from the Impenetrable One -
1. Name 1 toy you owned when you were younger that meant a lot to you. One year for Halloween I dressed up as the ghost of a Minuteman. As part of the costume, we found a metal and wood cap-gun musket, complete with ramrod. It became my weapon of choice when we played "war" out in the woods.
2. Name 2 games you enjoyed playing as a child. "Murder In The Dark" (a nighttime variant on hide and seek) and the above-mentioned "war", which consisted mainly of sneaking about, hunting each other down and yelling, "Bang! I got you!".
3. Name 3 foods you didn't like as a child, but do now. Asparagus, artichokes, Scotch.
4. Name 4 foods you didn't like as a child, and still don't like. Tomatoes, mushrooms, ham, oysters.
Quick Serenity Review
Well, I liked it but I'm not sure I loved it. Too much emphasis on things that go Boom! and not as much on the characters themselves as in the tee vee series. Plus, everyone seemed an awful lot angrier. I dunno - I suppose these measures were thought necessary in order to entice a wider movie audience. But they put me off just a bit.
Oh, and I won't discuss the plot, since our LMC hasn't seen the movie yet, but I'd always been under the impression that the hope was that if the movie was a big success, the series might come back. Don't see how that would have worked.
UPDATE: Speaking of reviews, Chai-rista weighs in hi-lariously on National Treasure
December 20, 2005
Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)
Our pal JohnL, perhaps in an attempt to bait me, emails this extremely cranky article by Norman Lebrecht about the preparations to celebrate the upcoming 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth next month.
It's a peculiar thing: I've read probably half a dozen different biographies of Mozart and they all fall into two distinct camps. The first is the Cult of Gangerl, who indulge themselves in every bit of treacly romanticism they can squeeze out of his short life and worship every note he ever penned. The second is the League of the Curmudgeons, whose spleen motivates them to throw down every brick of the first camp's edifice, sowing the foundations with salt for good measure.
In general, I side with the curmudgeons insofar as I loathe the kitsch industry that has grown up around Mozart - it's historically dishonest and also serves to cheapen his music. And to the extent that Lebrecht damns all the hype, I generally agree with him. Furthermore, I am perfectly capable of accepting that a good bit of Mozart's music (mostly his childhood stuff) simply isn't worth listening to, much less worshipping.
However, to the extent Lebrecht attacks all of Mozart's music, I think the man is a complete jackass. Some quotes:
Mozart is the superstore wallpaper of classical music, the composer who pleases most and offends least. Lively, melodic, dissonance free: what's not to like? The music is not just charming, it's full of good vibes.
I guess Mr. John Keats was mistaken. Beauty isn't Truth after all. As a matter of fact, though, Mozart's music is not simply "good vibes", as anybody who has actually paid attention to anything other than Eine Klein Nacht Musik knows perfectly well. However, I suppose elegance and subtlety are largely lost on people whose idea of authentic expression consists simply of shouting at one another.
I have yet to see a life elevated by Cosi fan tutte[.]
Um, right here, for one. What Lebrecht doesn't comprehend is that the music can elevate even when the story doesn't.
The key test of any composer's importance is the extent to which he reshaped the art. Mozart, it is safe to say, failed to take music one step forward. Unlike Bach and Handel who inherited a dying legacy and vitalised it beyond recognition, unlike Haydn who invented the sonata form without which music would never have acquired its classical dimension, Mozart merely filled the space between staves with chords that he knew would gratify a pampered audience. He was a provider of easy listening, a progenitor of Muzak.
If I understand this logic correctly and extending it to all artists, Shakespeare's work is worthless because he invented neither the play nor the sonnet form. I'm sure plenty of other examples will occur to you immediately.
As for the charge that Mozart "failed to take music one step forward," I would recommend Charles Rosen's The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven for a grown up discussion of how all three of these composers influenced each other and those who followed them.
Mozart is a menace to musical progress, a relic of rituals that were losing relevance in his own time and are meaningless to ours. Beyond a superficial beauty and structural certainty, Mozart has nothing to give to mind or spirit in the 21st century. Let him rest. Ignore the commercial onslaught. Play the Leningrad Symphony. Listen to music that matters.
All I can say is that I am thankful I don't possess the kind of artistic sensibility that can't see beyond crabbed and soul-dampening questions of socio-political "relevance" and is forever driven by the lash of "progress". Instead, I think I'll stick with the wisdom of Keats after all:
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
UPDATE: J. Cassian at February 30 nails it: "The correct retort to Mr Lebrecht is simply to listen to the irrefutable argument of Mozart's music itself."
Hear, hear. But go and read the rest of the post as well, which develops what I'm trying to say much more thoughtfully.
Yips! to Soon-To-Be-Deleted Lemuel.
UPDATE DEUX: Jessica Duchen thinks the hype is a bit much as well, but is posting on the joys (and challenges) of sight-reading Mozart's piano & violin sonatas.
J.R.R. Tolkien always insisted that The Lord of the Rings triology was not an allegory about 20th Century Europe, but it may as well have been. It looks as if Uncle Joe Stalin tried to take a page straight out of Saruman's playbook:
Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia's top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior.
According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat."
In 1926 the Politburo in Moscow passed the request to the Academy of Science with the order to build a "living war machine". The order came at a time when the Soviet Union was embarked on a crusade to turn the world upside down, with social engineering seen as a partner to industrialisation: new cities, architecture, and a new egalitarian society were being created.
"I don't know exactly how to explain every one of these bizarro stories that you hear."
The LA Times has an article up about the
secret rebel base Scientology HQ at Gilman Hot Springs, CA, that's chock-a-block with rich, loony goodness, including this tidbit about franchise celeb Tom Cruise:
Maureen Bolstad, who was at the base for 17 years and left after a falling-out with the church, recalled a rainy night 15 years ago when a couple of dozen Scientologists scrambled to deal with "an all-hands situation" that kept them working through dawn. The emergency, she said: planting a meadow of wildflowers for Cruise to romp through with his new love, Kidman.
"We were told that we needed to plant a field and that it was to help Tom impress Nicole," said Bolstad, who said she spent the night pulling up sod so the ground could be seeded in the morning.
The flowers eventually bloomed, Bolstad said, "but for some mysterious reason it wasn't considered acceptable by Mr. Miscavige. So the project was rejected and they redid it."
Click on over and read the rest. Feel free to snicker, but remember that you're probably being monitored.
Yips! to Jonathan V. Last.
UPDATE: Oh, what the hell - I'd been wondering what kind of excuse I would need to put up this picture....
"The staff was up all night baking Mr. Hubbard's birthday cake! You blow out those candles RIGHT NOW!!!"
Lock And Load
I'm off next week on vacation and am planning to settle down and begin the process of mastering photo-shop. My main goal up to this point has been to answer the many libels Steve-O has thrown up here over the past couple years, working out a series of vicious payback bitch-slaps.
Well, I still plan to do all that, but Steve's going to have to get in line.
More on the non-story of the year
Category 1-ish, disproportionally killing white folks, evacuation plan a success, buses available for the Superdome, phantom police officers, Corps of Engineers sloppiness in levee construction---Wizbang has been on this story since day one.
Now if they can only put to rest the whole "Condi callously buying shoes while New Orleans was being destroyed" meme and we've got ourselves a wrap...
December 19, 2005
The Ghost of Christmas Past...
This is apropros of nothing, but I just made me smile.
Not as much, though, as the spread of fringe democracy in Iraq, though:
Or certainly this and a Sam's club size jar of Skippy super chunk:
In the randomly scrounging through the jpeg file department, this still has to be the greatest no-caption political photo of all time:
COUNT ON THE LLAMAS TO ASK THE REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION: WHERE IS
The incomparable Lucy Liu? Breakout event: role of Ling on Ally McBeal. Best brainless movies: the Charlie's Angels flicks. Best attributes: sly smile and a body that could stop a bus. Unlike most starlets, Lucy is a college grad (Michigan, no less) and I get the impression that if Hollywood does not pan out, she will take her degree in Asian languages and culture and do something impressive like engineer Taiwan's takeover of mainland China. She has not done anything memorable recently, but I live in the sure and certain hope that we will see Lucy again, as sure as we know that Kelly McGillis will come back . . .
Good news from the email today:
NETFLIX - Movie Shipped ******************************************
We have shipped: Serenity
Arriving on or around: Tuesday, Dec 20, 2005
Of course, I'll be sure to post a Gratuitious Movie Review (TM).
Literary allusions worthy of Jane Austen
We have a winner for the year, from The Hatemongers Quarterly conceding defeat in the Weblog Awards:
As we noted yesterday, this realization has ushered in a period of malaise and ennui here at “Hatemonger’s Quarterly” Headquarters. We suck more than Madonna in the Chicago Bulls’ dressing room. And it hurts, dear reader; it hurts a lot.
Unfortunately, reading this produced the sound of Dennis Rodman cackling in my skull. Pardon me while I go rinse with clorox.
PS--sorry for the Flock of Seagulls joke in the last post.
UPDATE: Best post title of the year:
Just Like Dr. Zhivago. Without Wolves and Nasty Communists, Though.
IRAN, IRAN SO FAR AWAY....COULDN'T GET AWAY
The piece triggered two competing thoughts:
First, is the popularity of Kenny G on Iranian airwaves. Maybe it's just me, but if the Mofo Psyops guys down at Gitmo really wanted to institute some maximum ACLU bedwetting, they'd pop Kenny G into heavy rotation. As it is, it sounds like a devious Rove-inspired act to make the vanilla one so popular in the land of Nod: what better way to destroy the legitimacy of any quasi-totalitarian state than to have official state radio pumping out the oleoganous cranium destroying "music"---and what better way to gain solidarity with the repressed dissidents of that country than to stand together, clenched fists in the air, and fighting the supreme suckage that is Kenny G.
Second, I just had to snicker when reading the article about their attack on "western" music, as my brain related the sentence in the voice of the bartender from the Blues Brothers as he stands behind the bar at Bob's Country Bunker and states, "We have both types of music here----country.......AND western!"
UPDATE: The ghost of Richard Nixon emails in on the Iranian situation:
SUBJECT: Iran Mofos From: Dick
What up, bitches?
What's the deal with the Israelis trying to go all Franz Ferdinand on Ayatollah-lite? I don't know about Jaffa, but that sure as hell aint the Chicago way. What they need for al-Jazeera to get is a nice, long, fat look at an Israeli air force bomber going all Curtis LeMay in a nice, 24 hour a day lazy circle pattern over Mecca. Sand plus heat makes glass, bay-bee---lots and LOTS of heat. You heard it here from the Dickster.
If you see Kissinger, tell him we're saving a nice seat for him. No need for the long-johns.
Bizarre Google search of the day
Well, we seem to be number one on Google for
"it burns" damn blogs
Makes you wonder what they were looking for: perhaps the post we did where we chronicled INDCent Bill throwing a bucket of water at Mary Mapes, followed by Dan Rather incoherntly raving, as he was carted away in cuffs, "woulda gotten away with it 'cept for those damn blogs!"
I realize we've been sadly deficient in our French nooz babe Melissa Theuriau homages---I've been finishing my grading and getting into the swing of the season here at stately LLama Manor, and Robbo's been doing Robbo type things. It hurts, too, to see our Google ranking for "Melissa Theuriau naked" drop from #1 to #9.
We're going to really need to do something about that----I think it will be at the core of the LLamabutchers' New Years Resolutions.
To do for Oh-Six: more naked Melissa Theuriau postings, less Oliver Willis naked postings.
Yips! from Robbo: On the plus side, we're probably No. 1 for "Robbo type things" now.
There'll Always Be An England
Tim Worstall flags an amusing quote. I won't elaborate - either you love this sort of thing or you don't.
Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)
As I mentioned earlier, yesterday was the lessons and carols service at church. For the occassion, we blew a fair chunk of our rayther meager music budget and brought in a string quartet. Alas, music in general is not one of my church's strong suits: the organist is pretty good, but the choir is rather weak and the lead soprano has a voice like Glinda the Good Witch of the North - high, nasal and with enough vibrato to make your fillings start to resonate. Nonetheless, when everyone was gathered together, it sounded quite nice.
The other thing about the music at my church is that you never quite know what you're going to get served. The organist himself is pretty hidebound and traditional and, left to his druthers, would probably play Bach all the time. However, the rector is well known for his fondness of Twentieth Century settings as well as his desire to bring in stuff from outside the Anglican tradition. I've heard rumors of a kind of Cold War between the two, a war that threatens to go hot every "Jazz Sunday" - the Sunday before Ash Wednesday - when the rector brings in a couple trumpets and a bass, sits down to the drums himself and lets fly. The organist typically looks as if he's playing his own funeral march on such days or, perhaps more accurately, wishing he was playing the rector's.
All these forces were in evidence yesterday. The service was bookended by Arcangelo Corelli's Concerto Grosso Opus 6, No. 8, one of my favorite pieces of chamber music. We also got helpings of Handel, including a game attempt by one of the choir members to sing "O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion" in countertenor which produced a startled inquiry from the seven year old as to why that man was singing like a girl. In addition, we had some Palestrina, plus a number of traditional carols. So far, so good.
But I could see the rector's hand behind some of the other choices, including some pleasant but forgettable Vaughn Williams, some pleasant but cliched Bizet and some detestable Britten. I also knew as soon as I opened the program that we were in for......John Rutter.
Now, I'm sure Mr. Rutter is a very nice man and that he means well but the fact of the matter is that his music gives me the guts-ache. It's been variously described as "quirky" and "light" and "happy" and is, I suppose, designed to give listeners the warm fuzzies. In me, it induces a violent urge to reach for a two-by-four and start swinging.
Also, I don't know whose text Rutter uses, but the words are typically as cringe-making as the music:
Have you heard the story that they're telling 'bout Bethlehem, Have you heard the story of the Jesus child?
Isaac Watts it ain't.
The other sure sign of the rector's influence was the inclusion of "Go Tell It On The Mountain". Now personally, I don't hold much of an opinion about spirituals one way or the other, either from a religious or a musical standpoint. However, I will say this: such music being sung by a low church Episcopal congregation of upper middle class suburbanites, accompanied by pipe-organ, is an aesthetic absurdity, and I sincerely wish the rector would cut it out.
"It's Da Plumber! I Come Ta Fix Da Sink!"
A blindness-inducing schematic timewaster with two most important lunch-time requisites: you can play it with one hand while eating a sammich with the other and there's no time limit per level.
Yips! to Sloth at the Seven Deadly Sins.
Shopping for that hard to please liberal on your Saturnalia list?
Six Meat Buffet presents day seven in its series of Kwistmakah presents for liberals.
No description, you really have to go and read it yourselves.
"Feel the power of the Dark Side course through your veins, young Skywalker!"
Regular readers will know that we've been following the blogging progress of long-time commentator, general moonbat luvr, Michael Moore quoting, zebra-fish Mengle, and old pal LB Buddy as he progresses with his new blog Really Small Fish. He's trying, he really is, with cute little lefty rants about the "Cheney Administration" this, and "I heart Juan Cole" that. But, what's fun is the insidious nature of the blog Force is beginning to take root: witness his latest foray into cat-blogging, and posting really hot naked pictures of squid having sex (talk about your Calamari al dente!), not to mention hyperventilating fan-boy postings about Roger Clemens returning to the Boston Red Sawx.
After all, this blog started out to be a semi-serious forum for the discussion of law and politics, and now we're nothing more than the Boswell to Mort Kondracke's Dr. Johnson, assuming Boswell and Johnson were stranded for a very long-layover in Boise International Airport at Christmas and, after the bar was cleaned out, had to resort to huffing solvent fumes to pass away the painful hours of a meaningless existence before having torrid random acts of pervisity in the Skyway Blvd. Red Roof Inn.
The LLamabutchers: Putting the "HO" in "Ho Ho Ho"
And what drunken awkward Saturnalia Office Party would be complete without Phin's recipe for "Gingered Spam Salad."
INDCent Bill: The Beautiful Atrocities Interview
Billy, we hardly knew ye. Although the seekret feelings about 14yr old English school girls with barmy teeth, frizzy hair, and a magic wand was, er, predictable.
Fortunately, their mutual hatred of camelids provides only the subtext of the dialogue.
Today's sign of the end of times: drunken Santas go on Kiwi rampage.
And the outsourcing of traditional New Orleans jobs continues....
Chip and the rest of the crack young staff over at the Hatemonger's Quarterly have joined the Moo Knew Collective. Go on over to check out the new digs.
The planned assimilation continues apace.....
Thank you, Marty Schottenheimer! (Glad to see there were no hard feelings after what we did to you last week.)
December 18, 2005
NSA INTERCEPTS-PART III
This is a cogent discussion of intercepts and wiretaps, including those under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA") which is at the center of the flap over "domestic spying." As it notes, there are no limits on intel gathering in foreign countries nor on Americans in foreign countries. (I wonder: are the signal intercepts are occuring outside U.S. territory?)
Tomorrow is my oldest nephew's 23d birthday which he will spend in Fairbanks, AK where he works as an influential member of the mainstream media (meaning he is doing all of the grunt work). From what I understand from my brother, Fairbanks is 208 out of the 210 media markets in the country. This is the station.
UPDATE: A helpful reader pointed out that AL is Alabama rather than the intended AK which is Alaska and I made the necessary correction. Unlike Dan Rather, we do not hide behind: "false but accurate."
One of those rare moments when Oliver Willis and I are on the same cloud nine
except one of us isn't eating a triple chili-cheeez dog with a yoo-hoo chaser.
Signs of end times for sure.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)
Well, I actually got all the Llama-ettes bathed, dressed, fed and off to church this morning all by my own self.
The LMC has noted his ignorance on the subject of girl-child bloomers and the possibilities for disastrous social faux pax this can cause. My problem is hair. All the Llama-ettes have hair well below their shoulders, and the youngest's is naturally curly. Having never been a hippy, I don't really know what to do about it. Sure, I can shampoo it and have the elemental sense to comb all the knots and tangles out, but no matter how much I fool around with barrettes, bows, twisties and the like, even when I manage to make them look somewhat presentable, within five minutes of heading out the door, they look like a lot of Junior Medusae.
My only hope is that people will see them with me and simply think, "Oh, well, of course. After all, he's only a dad."
NSA INTERCEPTS-PART II
Harry Reid was on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. Interestingly enough, the Senate Minority Leader acknowledged that he was briefed on the existence of this program "several months ago" (which probably means shortly after he took over from the ill-fated Tom Daschle.) Granted, Chris Wallace had to ask him three times before the artful dodger finally answered the question. Chris missed the obvious followup: "If you are convinced this is a travesty, why didn't call for hearings when you first learned of it?"
December 17, 2005
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)
So far things are going pretty well between the Llama-ettes and me with the Missus out of town on her weekend romp with Mrs. LMC. (She promised stories of pillow fights and backrubs when she returns.)
I spent most of the early afternoon at the game board, tactfully playing the seven year old to a stalemate in chess, allowing the five year old to crush me in checkers and indulging the three year old in a game that she made up as she went along.
We've also had a grand time with Christmas carols today, self at the keyboard and the Llama-ettes gathered round, making up in enthusiasm what they lack in accuracy. And while we had to do "Jingle Bells, Batman smells" several times, we also did many, many of the more traditional carols, including my personal favorites "What Child Is This?" and "Oh Come, O Come, Emmanuel". The seven year old was agog when I told her the former tune was written by Henry VIII and that the latter was a thousand years old. It must have made a deep impression, because she insisted on singing every verse. This is the first year all three gels have sung carols with me. I sincerely hope it's the start of what will be a long tradition.
And speaking of singing, tomorrow is the carols and lessons service at church. After this afternoon's practice, I think the Llama-ettes' pipes will be well warmed up for it. One benefit they'll get from singing at church instead of at home: I have a rather bad ingrained habit of swearing when I play, especially when I'm sight-reading, and especially when I'm sight-reading poorly. I'm not too sure that the gels gain any particular spiritual benefit when their rendition of, for example "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is punctuated by a string of clenched-teeth goddammits and Jesus Christs. Our organist, even when forced to play "Go Tell It On The Mountain", always keeps a poker face and a closed mouth.
I don't get the controversy over the latest from the sainted NYT that NSA is monitoring international communications which originate from the United States or are directed this way. None of the talking heads has identified what provision of the Constitution or laws of the United States is supposed to have been violated by these intercepts. News flash for all of you privacy junkies out there: you have no expectation of privacy in communications directed to, or coming from, foreign countries. Barely mentioned in all of this hysteria is any indication such intercepts were of wholly domestic communications which would bring FISA and wiretap statutes into play.
Yips! from Robbo:
Bias? What bias? Here's CNN's "Should the Government stop beating its wife?" on-line poll question on the matter today:
Should the government have been given the authority to spy on Americans without warrants after the 9/11attacks?
More Yips! from Robbo: Here's what Dubya had to say about the flap today -
In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on our nation, I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations. Before we intercept these communications, the government must have information that establishes a clear link to these terrorist networks.
This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. Its purpose is to detect and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States, our friends and allies. Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies, and endangers our country.
As the 9/11 Commission pointed out, it was clear that terrorists inside the United States were communicating with terrorists abroad before the September the 11th attacks, and the commission criticized our nation's inability to uncover links between terrorists here at home and terrorists abroad. Two of the terrorist hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al Hamzi and Khalid al Mihdhar, communicated while they were in the United States to other members of al Qaeda who were overseas. But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late.
The authorization I gave the National Security Agency after September the 11th helped address that problem in a way that is fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities. The activities I have authorized make it more likely that killers like these 9/11 hijackers will be identified and located in time. And the activities conducted under this authorization have helped detect and prevent possible terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad.
The activities I authorized are reviewed approximately every 45 days. Each review is based on a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland. During each assessment, previous activities under the authorization are reviewed. The review includes approval by our nation's top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President. I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the September the 11th attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from al Qaeda and related groups.
The NSA's activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and NSA's top legal officials, including NSA's general counsel and inspector general. Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorization and the activities conducted under it. Intelligence officials involved in this activity also receive extensive training to ensure they perform their duties consistent with the letter and intent of the authorization.
This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I'm the President of the United States.
Emphasis mine. Translation: Nice going, Poindexter. Can you say "troop transport"?
December 16, 2005
Our friend Groovy Vic over at Fiddle Dee Dee joins the ranks of the Moo Knew Hive. Welcome aboard!
Vic's got a piece up today about the mosh pit that was her son's school Christmas party. As it happens, the Missus just wrapped up for the semester as well. She had three class parties to deal with this week, including running her own class's.
By way of celebration, the Missus is headed out tomorrow morning to meet up with Mrs. LMC in an undisclosed location to indulge in some gratuitous revelry, the slackers, leaving the LMC and self to deal with our respective broods single-handedly this weekend.
With the undiluted attention of the Llama-ettes aimed at me, I'm either going to be blogging a lot more or a lot less over the next few days. We shall see.
UPDATE: I guess I'll have to take back some of my comments because the Missus arranged for Santa to stop by a bit early last evening:
Looks like I'm all set for the weekend now:
Jayne: Don't see much point getting involved in other people's troubles without an up-front price negotiation.
Zoë: As I said, no-one's forcing you to go. This job is purely speculative.
Jayne: Good. Don't know these people, don't much care to.
Mal: They're whores.
Jayne: I'm in.
Heh. What's that? Kids? What kids? Oh, those kids.... It's okay, I've got them covered. I opened a big box of saltines on the kitchen table and they know where the water faucet is, so everything is fine.
Today is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
It's entirely too bad that U.S. history classes rarely pay anything more than lip service to the Colonial Era, because without an understanding of that period, it strikes me that one could not possibly understand the whys and wherefores of the Revolutionary times that followed. I think to the extent anybody actually gives it any thought, there's an assumption that the various issues were black and white and the Revolution was inevitable. But this simply isn't the case.
To that end, I've really been engrossed in Fred Anderson's Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. While Anderson doesn't go into as much detail about the actual fighting of the French & Indian War as does Francis Parkman in his Montcalm and Wolfe: The French and Indian War, he nonetheless does a very good job tracking the relationships between the Colonies and the Crown, looking at the ways in which assumptions, attitudes and expectations formed, developed and hardened. He also takes the time to focus not just on Britain's North American interests, but to place them in the wider context of Britain's international dealings at the time.
(And just to show how I'm starting to seriously geek out on the period, I've tossed White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America by Fintan O'Toole into my Amazon gimme list on the basis of Steve-O's recommendation the other day.)
Time To "Make" The Donuts
The Colossus finds himself deep in the confectionary shadows behind Dunkin' Donuts new corporate masters. Click and scroll.
SOOPER SEKRET MESSAGE TO THE COLOSSUS: I happen to be friends with an ex-member of DD's new owner. I think if you don't want to find yourself suddenly, um, glazed, you might consider stepping back. Capiche?
The Twelve STD's Of Christmas
Because nothing captures the holiday spirit better than an e-card saying "Dude, you've got the clap."
Pop Quiz Time:
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is writing in the NYTimes today in opposition to the construction of a wind farm off the coast of which island:
Well, if you can't figure out the answer, you automatically fail the class.
Bobby says wind power is a great thing, of course. But he feels the Greens and their engineering buddies ought to take their giant turbines and go play in someone else's panoramic view and sailing grounds. He makes plenty of good points on behalf of the people in the Cape Cod area (although neglecting to note his own local interests). But somehow I've just got to believe that if the wind farm were being proposed for some other populous spot - say, for example, Virginia Beach or South Padre Island, ol' Bobby would be singing a different tune about the eco-resposibility of the locals to suck it up and deal with it for the sake of Mother Earth.
*NIMBY - "Not In My Back Yard"
An excellent piece by Ross Douthat in the Weekly Standard today on the subject of the Church's movement to squash the concept of Limbo:
FOR UNDERSTANDABLE REASONS, Christians of an orthodox stripe tend to grow suspicious when the conversation turns to dispensing with elements of the faith that may have overstayed their welcome. We've been led down that primrose path before: You start with bright talk about paring down the Christian apple to its essential core, and the next thing you know you're peeling fruit with John Shelby Spong, stripping away not only bleeding statues and miraculous medals, but the doctrine of the Trinity and that whole difficult business of the Resurrection besides.
Read the rest. Douthat makes what I think is a very good argument about the proper Christian understanding of death and spirituality. Plus, he makes me feel truly sorry for Susan Sontag.
UPDATE: I put the link to John Shelby Spong included in Douthat's article back into the excerpt. Who he, you ask? Well, Bishop Spong is of that exciting breed of moonbat theologians who believe that faith is a crock. I need hardly tell you that he's an Episcopalian. And that my own clergy have been known to say enthusiastic things about him.
Locked On To St. Nick
It's the NORAD Santa Tracker webpage.
The seven year old has been expressing serious doubts about the existence of Mr. Claus this year. The side of me that is eviiiiiiil is thinking of showing her this site in order to make her re-examine her agnosticism.
Because after all - if it's on the Internet, it has to be true. Right?
Yips! to Galley Slave Jonathan V. Last.
Here are the results of the 2005 Weblog Awards polling for our category:
Best Culture/Gossip Blog
Oh No They Didn't! 39.45 % (10711)
Pink is the New Blog 14.32 % (3889)
Conv. Famous People 10.96 % (2976)
Go Fug Yourself 6.00 % (1629)
Perez Hilton 4.33 % (1176)
The Superficial 4.01 % (1088)
Dlisted 3.82 % (1038)
Manolo's Shoe Blog 3.20 % (869)
Defamer 3.01 % (818)
A Socialite's Blog 2.94 % (799)
SondraK.com 2.80 % (759)
Llama Butchers 2.54 % (689)
CityRag 1.59 % (432)
Ghost of Flea 0.62 % (169)
Spirit Fingers 0.40 % (109)
Total votes: 27151
Apparently, all that money we spent greasing the palms of the Diebold people didn't pay off. What the hell is the point of belonging to a vast conspiracy if it doesn't come through for you from time to time?
Oh, well. Congrats to the winners (in ours and all the other categories) and thankee very kindly to everybody out there who voted for us. Yip! Yip! Yip!
UPDATE: The Crack Young Staff of the Hatemonger's Quarterly show what a classy bunch they are, even in defeat.
Happy Birthday, Ludwig van Beethoven
Born this day in 1770 in Bonn. Here's the Grove Music Dictionary biography.
As regular readers know, while I greatly appreciate the genius of Beethoven's music, my appreciation is somewhat dampened by my dislike of the man's overriding ego reflected therein. Basically, he was full of himself and there is no way not to see this in his work. This wasn't just a character flaw peculiar to Beethoven, of course, but also a function of the overall shift in artistic sensibilities embodied by the Romantic revolution, a movement for which I've never had much sympathy. Here is what I had to say on this subject last year. But here is a post where I actually defended the old boy against being tagged with all the sins of Romanticism. That's me, Mr. Fair and Balanced.
As for his music itself, here is a list of Beethoven's symphonies, ranked in order of my preferences. Here is a post I did about my only brush with Beethoven's religious music (which I didn't much like because I didn't really believe he meant it). And I also have some thoughts here and here about some of Beethoven's keyboard music, which I play from time to time.
Finally, I don't think the day should pass without revisiting the discussion between Mrs. Thing and Mrs. Entity about how Beethoven was really rather glad when he went deaf.
The Growing Shadow To The East
Krauth on Iran this morning:
Everyone knows where Iran's nuclear weapons will be aimed. Everyone knows they will be put on Shahab rockets that have been modified so they can now reach Israel. And everyone knows that if the button is ever pushed, it will be the end of Israel.
Negotiations to deny this certifiable lunatic genocidal weapons have been going nowhere. Everyone knows they will go nowhere. And no one will do anything about it.
Well, not no one. The Israelis will never let Iran get to the point where its nukes are pointed at Tel Aviv. If I had to make a prediction, I would say stand by to see something pretty spectacular happen in the next two years.
Oh, and I would gladly cheer them on and offer to hold their hats.
Ice, Ice, Baybee!
VDOT didn't bother to salt the streets for yesterday's "winter weather event" here in the Northern Virginia 'burbs, which meant that this morning there were a number of surprising little ice patches on the roads. Wheeeeeeeee!!
On the other hand, this is the first morning we've been above freezing in quite some time. And without any wind, it felt downright balmy walking up from the Metro to the office.
UPDATE: Jen was slip-slidin' away today, too.
December 15, 2005
Go For It!
UPDATED MOVED TO THE TOP FOR THE DAY: I removed my original rather flippant and bellicose remarks. (Sorry, John.) Instead, I'll borrow words from the Divine Peggy Noonan:
Mr. Bush chose to remove Saddam and liberate Iraq from, well, Saddam. And maybe more. Maybe from its modern sorry past. Pat Buchanan said a few months ago something bracing in its directness. He said a constitution doesn't make a country; a country makes a constitution. But today, in the voting, we may see more of the rough beginnings of a new exception to that rule. News reports both in print and on television also seem to be suggesting a turn. They seem to suggest a new knowledge on the ground in Iraq that democracy is inevitable, is the future, and if you don't want to be left behind you'd better jump in. One senses a growing democratic spirit. A sense that daring deeds can produce real progress.
'Tis devoutly to be wished, and all of good faith must wish it.
(Image stolen from JWookie at Cake or Death.)
YIPS from Steve:
I thought that the above iconic image was wonderfully juxtaposed with this:
O tempora, o mores.
FURTHER YIPS from Steve:
The cool kids over at Pajammies Media are doing their blogjamthing. Much more entertaining than watching Wolf Blitzer in the Ready Room try to find the horror in it all.
SOOPER SEKRIT MESSAGE TO CHAI-RISTA
Coming soon to a campus near you....?
It looks like our former Honors Fellow has landed a tenure track job.
STAYING THE COURSE PAYS OFF for Operation Desert Fox
Here's the BBC today:
And to what do we owe this great success? Why, the foreign policy guts, determination, and resolution of the 42nd President of the United States, of course!
After all, it took seven long, tough years, but seven years to the day of launching Operation Desert Fox, Iraq has held a free and fair democratic election.
Here's the full text from seven years ago: Wednesday, December 17, 1998:
Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.
Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.
Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.
I want to explain why I have decided, with the unanimous recommendation of my national security team, to use force in Iraq; why we have acted now; and what we aim to accomplish.
Six weeks ago, Saddam Hussein announced that he would no longer cooperate with the United Nations weapons inspectors called UNSCOM. They are highly professional experts from dozens of countries. Their job is to oversee the elimination of Iraq's capability to retain, create and use weapons of mass destruction, and to verify that Iraq does not attempt to rebuild that capability.
The inspectors undertook this mission first 7.5 years ago at the end of the Gulf War when Iraq agreed to declare and destroy its arsenal as a condition of the ceasefire.
The international community had good reason to set this requirement. Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. Unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war. Not only against soldiers, but against civilians, firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. And not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.
The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.
The United States has patiently worked to preserve UNSCOM as Iraq has sought to avoid its obligation to cooperate with the inspectors. On occasion, we've had to threaten military force, and Saddam has backed down.
Faced with Saddam's latest act of defiance in late October, we built intensive diplomatic pressure on Iraq backed by overwhelming military force in the region. The UN Security Council voted 15 to zero to condemn Saddam's actions and to demand that he immediately come into compliance.
Eight Arab nations -- Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman -- warned that Iraq alone would bear responsibility for the consequences of defying the UN.
When Saddam still failed to comply, we prepared to act militarily. It was only then at the last possible moment that Iraq backed down. It pledged to the UN that it had made, and I quote, a clear and unconditional decision to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors.
I decided then to call off the attack with our airplanes already in the air because Saddam had given in to our demands. I concluded then that the right thing to do was to use restraint and give Saddam one last chance to prove his willingness to cooperate.
I made it very clear at that time what unconditional cooperation meant, based on existing UN resolutions and Iraq's own commitments. And along with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay, diplomacy or warning.
Now over the past three weeks, the UN weapons inspectors have carried out their plan for testing Iraq's cooperation. The testing period ended this weekend, and last night, UNSCOM's chairman, Richard Butler, reported the results to UN Secretary-General Annan.
The conclusions are stark, sobering and profoundly disturbing.
In four out of the five categories set forth, Iraq has failed to cooperate. Indeed, it actually has placed new restrictions on the inspectors. Here are some of the particulars.
Iraq repeatedly blocked UNSCOM from inspecting suspect sites. For example, it shut off access to the headquarters of its ruling party and said it will deny access to the party's other offices, even though UN resolutions make no exception for them and UNSCOM has inspected them in the past.
Iraq repeatedly restricted UNSCOM's ability to obtain necessary evidence. For example, Iraq obstructed UNSCOM's effort to photograph bombs related to its chemical weapons program.
It tried to stop an UNSCOM biological weapons team from videotaping a site and photocopying documents and prevented Iraqi personnel from answering UNSCOM's questions.
Prior to the inspection of another site, Iraq actually emptied out the building, removing not just documents but even the furniture and the equipment.
Iraq has failed to turn over virtually all the documents requested by the inspectors. Indeed, we know that Iraq ordered the destruction of weapons-related documents in anticipation of an UNSCOM inspection.
So Iraq has abused its final chance.
As the UNSCOM reports concludes, and again I quote, "Iraq's conduct ensured that no progress was able to be made in the fields of disarmament.
"In light of this experience, and in the absence of full cooperation by Iraq, it must regrettably be recorded again that the commission is not able to conduct the work mandated to it by the Security Council with respect to Iraq's prohibited weapons program."
In short, the inspectors are saying that even if they could stay in Iraq, their work would be a sham.
Saddam's deception has defeated their effectiveness. Instead of the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the inspectors.
This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance.
And so we had to act and act now.
Let me explain why.
First, without a strong inspection system, Iraq would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in months, not years.
Second, if Saddam can crippled the weapons inspection system and get away with it, he would conclude that the international community -- led by the United States -- has simply lost its will. He will surmise that he has free rein to rebuild his arsenal of destruction, and someday -- make no mistake -- he will use it again as he has in the past.
Third, in halting our air strikes in November, I gave Saddam a chance, not a license. If we turn our backs on his defiance, the credibility of U.S. power as a check against Saddam will be destroyed. We will not only have allowed Saddam to shatter the inspection system that controls his weapons of mass destruction program; we also will have fatally undercut the fear of force that stops Saddam from acting to gain domination in the region.
That is why, on the unanimous recommendation of my national security team -- including the vice president, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the secretary of state and the national security adviser -- I have ordered a strong, sustained series of air strikes against Iraq.
They are designed to degrade Saddam's capacity to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction, and to degrade his ability to threaten his neighbors.
At the same time, we are delivering a powerful message to Saddam. If you act recklessly, you will pay a heavy price. We acted today because, in the judgment of my military advisers, a swift response would provide the most surprise and the least opportunity for Saddam to prepare.
If we had delayed for even a matter of days from Chairman Butler's report, we would have given Saddam more time to disperse his forces and protect his weapons.
Also, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins this weekend. For us to initiate military action during Ramadan would be profoundly offensive to the Muslim world and, therefore, would damage our relations with Arab countries and the progress we have made in the Middle East.
That is something we wanted very much to avoid without giving Iraq's a month's head start to prepare for potential action against it.
Finally, our allies, including Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, concurred that now is the time to strike. I hope Saddam will come into cooperation with the inspection system now and comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. But we have to be prepared that he will not, and we must deal with the very real danger he poses.
So we will pursue a long-term strategy to contain Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction and work toward the day when Iraq has a government worthy of its people.
First, we must be prepared to use force again if Saddam takes threatening actions, such as trying to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction or their delivery systems, threatening his neighbors, challenging allied aircraft over Iraq or moving against his own Kurdish citizens.
The credible threat to use force, and when necessary, the actual use of force, is the surest way to contain Saddam's weapons of mass destruction program, curtail his aggression and prevent another Gulf War.
Second, so long as Iraq remains out of compliance, we will work with the international community to maintain and enforce economic sanctions. Sanctions have cost Saddam more than $120 billion -- resources that would have been used to rebuild his military. The sanctions system allows Iraq to sell oil for food, for medicine, for other humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people.
We have no quarrel with them. But without the sanctions, we would see the oil-for-food program become oil-for-tanks, resulting in a greater threat to Iraq's neighbors and less food for its people.
The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world.
The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government -- a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. Bringing change in Baghdad will take time and effort. We will strengthen our engagement with the full range of Iraqi opposition forces and work with them effectively and prudently.
The decision to use force is never cost-free. Whenever American forces are placed in harm's way, we risk the loss of life. And while our strikes are focused on Iraq's military capabilities, there will be unintended Iraqi casualties.
Indeed, in the past, Saddam has intentionally placed Iraqi civilians in harm's way in a cynical bid to sway international opinion.
We must be prepared for these realities. At the same time, Saddam should have absolutely no doubt if he lashes out at his neighbors, we will respond forcefully.
Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people.
And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.
Because we're acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future.
Let me close by addressing one other issue. Saddam Hussein and the other enemies of peace may have thought that the serious debate currently before the House of Representatives would distract Americans or weaken our resolve to face him down.
But once more, the United States has proven that although we are never eager to use force, when we must act in America's vital interests, we will do so.
In the century we're leaving, America has often made the difference between chaos and community, fear and hope. Now, in the new century, we'll have a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past, but only if we stand strong against the enemies of peace.
Tonight, the United States is doing just that. May God bless and protect the brave men and women who are carrying out this vital mission and their families. And may God bless America.
Of course there were doubters and skeptics from the beginning---those willing to put temporary partisan advantage ahead of the national interest, and doing so we should definitely call into question their patriotism:
"I cannot support this military action in the Persian Gulf at this time," Lott said in a statement. "Both the timing and the policy are subject to question."
"The suspicion some people have about the president's motives in this attack is itself a powerful argument for impeachment," Armey said in a statement. "After months of lies, the president has given millions of people around the world reason to doubt that he has sent Americans into battle for the right reasons."
Armey renewed his call for the president to resign.
"Whatever happens, it will take years to repair the damage President Clinton has done to his office and his country," Armey said.
House intelligence chair says not consulted
Rep. Porter Goss, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he was unaware that U.S. airstrikes were planned against Iraq until he saw them under way on CNN.
Goss (R-Florida) expressed anger that he was never notified by the White House that a strike was imminent and that no members of the House Intelligence Committee were brought into the loop.
"To be cut out at the eleventh hour is annoying, and it's certainly not helpful," Goss said.
He called the fact he was not contacted "a bad mistake of judgment or an oversight by the White House. ... Today the White House should be looking for friends. It's not a good idea to ambush people."
"It's certainly rather suspicious timing," said Rep. Tillie Fowler (R-Florida). "I think the president is shameless in what he would do to stay in office."
Torricelli calls GOP criticism 'unforgivable'
Some Democrats reacted angrily to the criticism of Clinton's motives by congressional Republicans.
Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-New Jersey) called the GOP reaction "as close to a betrayal of the interests of the United States as I've ever witnessed in the United States Congress. It's unforgivable and reprehensible."
"This is a time for our country to be united, even though we're divided on other matters," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota).
He and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Missouri) issued a joint statement defending the timing, saying "any delay would have given (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein time to reconstitute his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and undermine international support for our efforts."
A number of administration officials, including Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, rejected the charge that the president's political problems were a motivating factor.
Five bucks says that's the spin on McNeilNightlineHardball within the week.
UPDATE: Wizbang has more.
Use The Force, Luke!
Trust But Verify
According to this CNN article:
Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that relies on volunteers to pen nearly 4 million articles, is about as accurate in covering scientific topics as Encyclopedia Britannica, the journal Nature wrote in an online article published Wednesday.
That's scientific topics, mind you. The article admits that this is not necessarily an across-the-board phenomenon:
Wales said the accuracy of his project varies by topic, with strong suits including pop culture and contemporary technology. That's because Wikipedia's stable of dedicated volunteers tend to have more collective expertise in such areas, he said.
The site tends to lag when it comes to topics touching on the humanities, such as the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature for a particular year, Wales said.
Well, sports fans, all I can say is that I use Wiki myself as a quick and dirty reference, particularly for arts and history and I've learned never to rely on something asserted in one of its articles without trying to find another source to back it up. I've never kept track of how many errors I've found in Wikipedia articles, but they occur often enough to warrant the extra step.
LLama Info bleg
Does anybody have any good ideas about how to find out how to do flash media programming for games?
This is wrong at SO many levels
Nomaaaaah, Nomaaaaah, Nomaaaaah, we hardly knew ye:
Los Angeles also is one of four teams interested in signing Nomar Garciaparra, whose agent also has spoken with the Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros and New York Yankees. Garciaparra, coming off two injury-shortened seasons, is willing to play any position other than pitcher or catcher. New York manager Joe Torre already has spoken with him
``Nomar had a good conversation with Joe Torre this week,'' agent Arn Tellem said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. ``The Yankees are one of four teams that Nomar is considering. We are in the process of reviewing the options and we hope to make a decision in the near future.''
Hopefully Mia will knock some sense into him.
Can you just imagine an infield with A-Rod, Jeter, and Nomaaaaaah at 3rd, short, and second?
Sure---and the Yanks still win @95 games and lose in the first round of the playoffs.
Maybe Big Boss George will hire that Sawx groundskeeper who beat the crap out of that Yankee in the bullpen just to prove he's the KING of Sawx sloppy seconds.
This is Cool
Tee Bee notes a recent archeological discovery which may seriously alter our understanding of ancient Mayan civilization.
[Ed. - And what exactly is your understanding of Mayan civilization?]
Well, in truth I don't know much about them at all. Etruscans, yes. Mayans, no. But I do know that that pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas bubbled, popped and roiled in the same way as did those of the Fertile Crescent and their descendants, and that I find quite fascinating.
Gratuitous Holiday Season Observation.
Office Christmas parties. We hates office Christmas parties.
UPDATE: We especially hates boozy mid-day office Christmas parties.
December 14, 2005
Flash In The Pan Babes of the 90's
(Pace, LMC, of course)
Nancy Travis, the misunderstood mate of Mike Meyers in So I Married An Axe Murderer. Best attribute: a sort of blonde Andie MacDowell look - heavy brows, piercing eyes and tight cheek muscles. Worst attribute: attempting to break out in a Mike Meyers vehicle. Resistance is futile. Head! Pants! Now!
Travis doesn't seem to have done much since then. On the other hand, at least she didn't wind up as la Femme Psycho like Amanda Plummer, who played her axe-wielding sister in the movie.
YIPS from Steve: Didn't she play Ted Danson's love interest in the last season of Becker?
Call me crazy, but I was rather partial to that show. His misanthropic doctor was downright hilarious, as he constantly fought against the better angel of his nature. He reminded me so much of a buddy of ours from college who became a doctor (who was the inventor of the boot/waffle graph, a system by which you were to track the N times you hooked up in relation to the N times you vomitted from excess drinking. Plotting this on a graph would give a line, to which you were to know your "slope" ie the relative relationship between the two. "Healthy" was defined as a slope of 1--- right on a 45 degree angle, the sign you had attained Aristotelian balance. Twisted, totally twisted).
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)
I probably should add the word "ambush" to the name of this game, because one of the defining characteristics of this sort of thing is that you simply never know when or where one of the little darlin's is going to let fly.
I don't normally flag these, but Josh Cohen at Multiple Mentality has done a seriously cool Firefly-themed edition of Carnival of the Vanities this week. Get on over there.
By the way, I must be one of the very few Firefly fans who hasn't yet seen Serenity. However, it's at the top of my Netflix queue for when the DVD is released next week. When it was in theatres, I read an awful lot of commentary about box off draw and such, but I don't remember reading that much about what people thought of the movie itself. So....?
A fascinating article by Cailtin Flannigan in the New Yorker about Mary Poppins and its author, P.L. Travers. After some interesting biographical background, the article goes on to tell how Travers was brought over to the Dark Side at the hands of the Sith Lord Disney.
I've never read the Poppins books but, as one might imagine, the original Mary ain't no Julie Andrews:
The literary Mary Poppins is by no means an untroubling character. Indeed, at the end of the first chapter of the first book—in which she arrives as a shape hurled against the front door in the midst of a gale, assumes the form of a woman, bullies Mrs. Banks into hiring her, snaps at the children, and doses them with a mysterious potion after she gets them alone in the nursery—she earns only a qualified endorsement: “And although they sometimes found themselves wishing for the quieter, more ordinary days when Katie Nanna ruled the household, everybody, on the whole, was glad of Mary Poppins’s arrival.” She is, in fact, very often “angry,” “threatening,” “scornful,” and “frightening.” She calls the children cannibals, jostles them down the stairs, and makes them eat so quickly that they fear they will choke. She has a habit of saving the children from horrifying supernatural experiences, it’s true, but this would seem more of a boon if she herself hadn’t brought them on in revenge for naughtiness. Often, she seems like someone who doesn’t like children much.
However, when Travers eventually made contact with Walt, she little understood the power of the Dark Side of the Force:
The story of “Mary Poppins” depended on the premise that it was normal for a middle-class family to employ a staff, including a servant to raise the children. But to a large segment of Disney’s intended audience this idea would be bewildering or, at least, cold and unpalatable. To solve this problem, he summoned Richard and Robert Sherman to a meeting in his large, corner office on the Disney lot in Burbank. The Sherman brothers were songwriters in their early thirties who had worked on several Disney movies and television shows and had recently written the Annette Funicello hit “Tall Paul.” They had impressed Disney with the way they “thought story” when they wrote songs. He asked the brothers a question that is now a part of the lore that surrounds the making of “Mary Poppins”: “Do you boys know what a nanny is?”
“Yeah,” Richard joked. “It’s a goat.”
Disney realized that translating the story for an American audience would require an explanation of the role of a nanny, as well as a plot that would reward Mr. and Mrs. Banks for choosing to bring up their children themselves.
“We had to come up with a need for Mary Poppins to come to the Banks family,” Richard Sherman told me recently. “We had to make her a necessary person.” Their first thought was to get rid of Mr. Banks. “We were going to set the thing during the Boer War and have his regiment called up,” he said. “Then you could have had a real happy ending, when he came home.” And then, Sherman said, they had an inspiration: “You could make the father emotionally absent.”
Mr. Banks’s journey would provide the narrative arc of the film. The mother would be a matron who had lost sight of her most important calling: raising her children. She, too, would be transformed into a good mother (of the kind recognizable to an American audience in the early nineteen-sixties) through the offices of Mary Poppins, who would leave, never to return, once her work with the parents had been completed. “We made it a story about a dysfunctional family,” Sherman said. “And in comes Mary Poppins—this necessary person—to heal them.”
By the time she realized that was no moon, it was too late:
The première was the first Travers had seen of the movie—she did not initially receive an invitation, but had embarrassed a Disney executive into extending one—and it was a shock. Afterward, as Richard Sherman recalled, she tracked down Disney at the after-party, which was held in a giant white tent in the parking lot adjoining the Chinese Theatre. “Well,” she said loudly. “The first thing that has to go is the animation sequence.” Disney looked at her coolly. “Pamela,” he replied, “the ship has sailed.” And then he strode past her, toward a throng of well-wishers, and left her alone, an aging woman in a satin gown and evening gloves, who had travelled more than five thousand miles to attend a party where she was not wanted.
Travers apparently spent the rest of her life seriously conflicted about her relationship with Disney, but never quite able to release herself from Walt's grasp.
Yips! to Terry Teachout's Girl in Chicago.
This Is Why I Passed The Bar
This letter from yesterday's Wall Street Journal is making the rounds of the office today:
Martini's Founding Fathers: Original Intent Debatable
Eric Felten's essay on the dry martini is itself near-perfect ("Don't Forget
the Vermouth," Leisure & Arts, Pursuits, Dec. 10). His allusion to
constitutional jurisprudence is faulty, however, since neither in law nor
martinis can we know the subjective "original intent" of the Founding
Fathers. As to martinis, the intent may have been to ease man's passage
through this vale of tears or, less admirably, to employ the tactic of
"candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker."
What counts in mixology is the "original understanding" of the martini's
essence by those who first consumed it. The essence remains unaltered but
allows proportions to evolve as circumstances change. Mr. Felten's
"near-perfect martini" is the same in principle as the
"original-understanding martini" and therefore its legitimate descendant.
Such latter-day travesties as the chocolate martini and the raspberry
martini, on the other hand, are the work of activist bartenders.
Mr. Felten lapses into heresy only once. He prefers the olive to the lemon
peel because the former is a "snack." Dropping a snack into a classic drink
is like garnishing filet mignon with ketchup. The correct response when
offered an olive is, "When I want a salad, I'll ask for it."
Robert H. Bork
The Hudson Institute
I am an original-understanding martini-ist myself. Damn all chocolate penumbras and raspberry emanations! And three cheers for the Bork-meister for standing up in favor of the lemon peel.
Happy Birthday To The Sea Wolf!
Today is the birthday of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, born this day in 1775.
Who he, you ask? Well, he was an extremely successful and daring British naval officer during the Napoleonic Wars and was the model for Patrick O'Brian's Lucky Jack Aubrey. Indeed, the climactic battle of Master and Commander, in which Aubrey's little brig Sophie, with 14 guns and 54 men, takes on the much larger Spanish xebec-frigate Cacafuego, with 32 guns and 319 men, is based shot for shot on Cochrane's own exploit aboard the Speedy on May 6, 1801, in which he successfully carried the Spanish El Gamo. (For those of you Russell Crowe fans who are scratching your heads and muttering, "Huh?" I would simply recommend that you read the damn book.)
Here is a painting of the action:
This isn't to say that O'Brian's Aubrey is a carbon-copy of Cochrane. For one thing, the only other time their careers duplicate each other in detail comes in the section of O'Brian's cycle beginning with The Reverse of the Medal, in which Aubrey is framed and convicted of stock fraud, stripped of his rank, dismissed the service and pilloried, and even here neither the chronology nor the facts are exactly alike. (Of interest, O'Brian hints in his introduction that there may have been more to the charges against Cochrane than he or his family would care to admit.) Aubrey's later adventures off the coast of Chile are a much more diluted reference to Cochrane's service as commander of the Chilean Revolutionary Navy. And, of course, O'Brian never puts Aubrey near the Battle of the Basque Roads, one of Cochrane's most famous exploits.
For another thing, Cochrane had an enormous ego and loved the spotlight. He also apparently enjoyed (or at least didn't mind) making political enemies, doing so mostly via his outspokeness against what he perceived to be incompetence and corruption. These character traits are quite a bit contrary to Jack Aubrey's modesty and his habit of running afoul other people's hawses inadvertantly.
Cochrane wrote an autobiography that I've always found to be interesting both in terms of its reflection of the man himself (for one thing, he was an early advocate of chemical warfare) and its obvious status as source material for O'Brian:
The Autobiography of a Seaman, by Admiral Lord Cochrane.
After the Napoleonic Wars, Cochrane spent a fair bit of time free-lancing with the Chilean, Brazilian and Greek navies in various revolutionary causes. Later, he was reinstated to the Royal Navy and made C-in-C of the North American station. As he lived to be 85 and died in 1860, he even exerted some influence in the Crimean War. I'm curious as to how many more of Cochrane's exploits O'Brian might have borrowed on behalf of Jack Aubrey had he continued the series further.
Here, by the way, is a piece our friend Tim Worstall wrote earlier this year concerning the honoring of Cochrane by the Catalan town of Roses.
December 13, 2005
Just waiting for the car pool to be ready to split gives me a couple of minutes to do a quick run-down.
Liz, Liz, Liz...........WHO ARE YOU???? I DON'T KNOW YOU ANYMORE!!!!!!
National Treasure is so bad, it's Kurt Russell bad. Seriously. It's one stinking bromide of badness, which makes it ever so watchable. It's Nicholas Cage at his obtuse best, kind of an Indiana Jones with a solid case of Aspergers. Needless to say, that makes it one of my favorite flicks of the past five years.
OCEAN'S 12 UPDATE: RE yesterday's discussion of what was the core of the stinkola at the heart of Ocean's 12, it suddenly dawned on me it was the Bruce Willis cameo when they have Tess (played by Julia Roberts) impersonating Julia Roberts so to steal some egg thing-ee.
Anyhoo, it spun around in my brain last night, and popped out unexpectedly: it was the vision of seeing Bruce Willis---bald Bruce Willils, in an Italian art museum, in a caper/heist/con movie.
Yes, folks, it set off the HUDSON HAWK detector in my brain: Hudson Hawk being the movie that almost single-handedly destroyed the whole heist/caper/con man movie genre. It's awfulness should have been enough to end Bruce Willis' career, but somehow the stench ricoched off of him and hit Danny Aiello instead. (Which is too bad, as Danny Aiello is a fun actor to watch, particularly after his gripping portrayal of "Papa" in Madonna's cutting edge video "Papa don't preach.")
Anyhoo, Hudson Hawk was a movie before its time, as the plot revolved around discovering a code hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci that would have earth-shattering implications for western civilization as we know it. Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code hackery knows no bounds: not only did he relentlessly steal from Elaine Pagels and the Gnostics as well as countless Templar writers, but he ripped off the premise from perhaps the worst Bruce Willis movie of them all.
And still he made a bajillion dollars.
What can I say, life is not just.
The Best Snowball Fight Game Ever is back.
I got seriously addicted to this game the first time I saw it two or three years ago. In fact, I got to the point where I could keep going until I got bored or my hand muscles locked up - the key is a) concentrate on using just one guy after the first couple rounds and b) when you get to the levels where you're facing a skirmish line, start at one end, get up in their faces, stun and knock them out in pairs, and just work your way down the line.
Did I mention I got kinda addicted to this?
Yips! to Gary.
UPDATE: Another piece of strategy I forgot to mention - all the throwers are right-handed. Avoid letting the bad guys get to your left flank. If they attack you from that side, you have to expose much more of your own player's body in order to get a shot back at them.
Mixolydian Don looks into the future. It isn't pretty.
As it happens, I took the five and seven year olds to see a student production of The Nutcracker last weekend by the Center Dance Company of Arlington. The gels were enthralled and once I convinced them that no, this had nothing to do with Barbie and the Nutcracker, sat right through the performance without the least bit of squirming or fidgiting, instead clapping enthusiastically after each dance.
This got me thinking again about the old Baryshnikov production that PBS used to run every year and which we always watched. I haven't seen this in years but I still remember it quite plainly. I suppose it would be worth picking up for the Llama-ettes.
YIPS from Steve: We're partial to the one that we taped off of CBS that was done in England a couple years back with Julie Andrews doing the Russell Baker-esque introduction.
Because the original was so great, it was worthy of satire
INDC Journal, the novel
Cox came to fame in 2004 as Wonkette, a D.C. insider whose blog injected (and still injects) levity and sarcasm into the earnest national political scene. In her snarky fictive debut, it's August in a presidential election year, and Kerryesque nominee John Hillman has failed to wow the Democratic convention. Worse yet, Hillman is under attack from the Citizens for Clear Heads, who claim that the candidate, as a student, took part in mind-control experiments, and now may be under someone's control. Campaign staffer and heroine Melanie Thorton must divert the media from the Clear Heads story before it destroys what's left of Hillman's appeal; she also hopes to rekindle her affair with a high-powered (but married) reporter. Desperate to distract the press (and herself), Melanie creates Capitolette, whose wholly fictional blog describes paid sexual dalliances with elected officials. (Cox's early blog link to Washingtonienne, whose exploits match Capitolette's exactly, set in motion the chain of events which would reveal Washingtonienne as real Hill staffer Jessica Cutler.) Wanting to keep the Capitolette story going, Melanie and her best friend find a (very) willing D.C. waitress and teach her to play the role of Capitolette—a role she embraces, in bedrooms if not online, as unintended consequences pile up. Cox aims for a light comedy of Washington power, halfway between Primary Colors and Sex and the City. Her powers of plot construction, though, don't match her political savvy: emotions are predictable, plot twists few. Fans of Wonkette's wit will find themselves better served by her blog—unless they want to revisit August 2004 as seen from the Kerry campaign, which few real Washingtonians (and even fewer Democrats) want to do.
Kind of like a Henry Higgins/Eliza Doolittle romp minus the foot-tapping music but with lots of girl on girl action and anal sex jokes.
For. the. love. of. all. that. is. holy!
What is worse than the concept of the Giant 8 Foot Inflatable Snow Globe? How about this message from the seller's website:
Unfortunately, we have sold out of this item and it won't be available until after Christmas. Please take a look at our other Holiday Decorations or Gift Finder to help you with your Holiday Shopping Needs!
Sold out! What is wrong with people? Words. Fail. Me.
Just who the hell thought up this kind of abomination to begin with? Our neighbors up the street put out a giant inflatable snowman last year. This year, the thing seems to have reproduced. Not only is it back, there's also a giant Santa and something I haven't quite been able to identify yet which looks vaguely like E.T.'s Nativity.
If it gets any worse, I'm going to start sniping with my pellet gun. See if I don't.
Yips! to Dave Barry.
It appears that the filming of Prince Caspian, the second of the Chronicles of Narnia, has been cleared for take off.
As I've said before, this is my least favorite book of the series. Its construction is rather awkward (and confusing to smaller kids) and the pace drags in several places. Indeed, I often think of this story as Lewis' sophomore slump.
I can't imagine that the producers are not going to do some heavy editing to work out the kinks. I will be interested to see how they go about doing it.
YIPS from Steve: I'm just going to have to go out on a limb here and disagree---the Caspian books (in particular The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) to me are the core of the series, and they are certainly the little guy's favorites. He's been Caspian the past two years for Halloween.
YIPS! Back from Robbo: Let me make clear, before it gets out of hand, that Voyage of The Dawn Treader is one of my favorite books in the series, not least because it has one of the greatest introductions in literature:
There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence and masters called him Scrubb. I can't tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none. He didn't call his Father and Mother "Father" and "Mother," but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and teetotalers and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on beds and the windows were always open.
Eustace Clarence liked animals, especially beetles, if they were dead and pinned on a card. He liked books if they were books of information and had pictures of grain elevators or of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools.
Superfreak of the Blogosphere
Beautiful Atrocities Jeff is on a bender--what between his Tookie prison diaries, his gourmet guide to meth, if there were any justice in the world he'd be winning the best humor/comic blog award. But since life is unfair, I've been voting dozens of times a day for "Chip" and the crack young staff at the Hatemongers Quarterly.
Solstice Gifts for that hard-to-shop-for-liberal on your list
From the Six Meat Buffet Christmas Guide:
The pshops of the individual pieces are simply priceless.
Once again, my British longbowmen have crushed the invading Teutonic hordes. Steve-O, the time is rapidly coming when we need to have a showdown.
I'm thinking about expanding my game collection a bit and getting into some other periods. I have American Conquest, but don't really like it that much. Does anyone out there have some good suggestions for, say, Revolutionary and Civil War scenarios? I'd especially like one that is fairly easy to pick up, as I don't get that many opportunities to play.
Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)
Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg, fought in 1862, in which Union General Ambrose Burnside launched a virtually suicidal frontal assault from the streets of the town against Lee's army, heavily entrenched on the hills immediately behind it. Here is an overall map of the battle front:
Here is an account of the battle, the decisive day of which (today) was the culmination of several days worth of manuevering along and across the river. By the time it was all over, the Federals had lost more than 12,000 men, the majority of them attempting to storm Marye's Height.
The Missus and I were in Fredericksburg a few weeks ago and hiked up Telegraph Hill to the spot where Lee had his headquarters during the battle. There are too many trees now to get any real sense of what Lee could have seen from this position. However, it was at this spot that, as he watched the Federal troops blown to pieces, Lee is supposed to have turned to General Longstreet and said, "It is well that war is so terrible. We should grow too fond of it."
UPDATE: By the way, I know the painting above depicts the Federal bridging of the Rappahanock on December 11, but it is found in one of my childhood Civil War books and has a certain sentimental value to me.
UPDATE DEUX: Here's a picture of the fighting on December 13 as seen from the Confederate perspective - artillery on the heights and fortified infantry position at the base of the hill:
Image courtesy of Kenmore House.
December 12, 2005
Girls Proselytizing Badly
I guess this gives new meaning to the expression "missionary work".
There! Gasp. I said it! That damned joke has been slowly burning a hole in my brain for over twelve hours. I just couldn't resist any longer.
And now for something completely different, I've flipped my more serious thoughts on this business over the fold:
I'm really not sure whether JC's GirlsGirlsGirls is legit or not, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if it is, then it really does not deserve the kind of mockery that immediately springs to mind. Allow me to explain.
Here's what Tanya, Heather and Lori say they do:
JC's GIRLSGIRLSGIRLS is a Biblically based Christian ministry that seeks to share God's message of hope and forgiveness by reaching out in a non-judgemental way to those who are in the sex industry. We pattern our ministry after the very ministry of Jesus by actually going to the people who need him. Our desire is for people to see that Christianity is anything but boring and restrictive. In Christ, we are free to experience adventure, pleasure, forgiveness, hope and peace.
Again, let's just assume for a minute that this is on the up and up. First of all, I would say that these girls' theology is perfectly sound: the Gospels are full of examples of Jesus seeking out the outcasts for inclusion - Mary Magdalen, the Good Samaritan, the laborors who came late, the one lost sheep out of a hundred and so on.
Second, if I read the website correctly, these girls are targeting (primarily) women working in the pron industry itself in various capacities. Now I'll admit that I have, from time to time, dipped into this particular form of, er, entertainment. But although I'm as typically male as the next guy in some respects, there is always a part of me that can't help wondering what wretched personal circumstances drove the women involved to allow themselves to be sucked into an industry which not only robs them of any last shred of self-respect, but also treats them like mere chattel. However, here's one hint: If you're familiar with the genre. think about how many Skinemax films seem to focus on a babe who had a rich, doting father who adored her, and yet somehow sheds her clothes for every guy who happens to cross her path. I dunno who writes these stories, but I'm convinced there is some sort of deep-seated psychological clue in this particular theme.
Anyhoo, my point is that (again, assuming this is legit) this kind of ministry has the potential to restore some of that lost self-respect, to give the people involved something better, some more wholesome sense of personal worth and hope for salvation. In this, I think it would be wrong to treat this effort as a campaign to preach that Jesus says being a pron star is great! (The copy about "freedom to experience adventure and pleasure", etc., strikes me simply as an effort to avoid scaring off potential targets.) If I read it correctly, it is instead an attempt to help a very marginalized group of people evaluate themselves honestly and to know that they are not forgotten, however horrid their circumstances. This may lead some to stay within the pron industry but with a clearer set of priorities, while it may help others get away from the whole business altogether. Either way, I would suggest it's something to be praised, not mocked.
Yips! to JohnL, who expresses some perfectly legitimate reservations. I would only say in response that the Lord know I am no Bible-thumper. But even an old-fashioned, Rite I, don't-touch-me-with-that-passing-of-the-peace-crap Episcopalian like me sees the value in spreading the Word and the necessity, however odd it may appear, of often tailoring that expression to what the target audience is likely to understand.
UPDATE: Sooper Sekret Message to our Moms - I know, I know. But it's Sweeps Week.
Bad taste headline of the week
Gary the X-Donk:
The answer, apparently, is oui.
Yips! from Robbo: Beautifully Atrocious Jeff follows up with the Bad Taste Body: the Tookiemeter.
LIFESTYLES OF THE TAWDRY AND THE FAMOUS
This just in on some chick who claims to have an on-going 11-year relationship with switch-hitter Angelina Jolie. (Somehow, this scrawny gal with the tattoos and the buzz cut is not what would come to the mind of the average male of the species whenever the news of AJ's preferences comes up. Rather, we have someone like this in mind.) It looks like that pretty-boy Brad Pitt has his work cut out for him. May the best man win.
I find it mildy astonishing that the Dolphins have now won three straight and are, at least theoretically, still in contention for the AFC East title. (Message to Pats fans: Shut the hell up!)
Of course, it'll all end in tears, so I'm not getting too excited. Even if we kybosh the Jets and the Titans at home in the next two weeks, we still have to finish out up in Foxboro and even now I can tell you we aren't going to win that one. (Message to Pats fans: See above.)
YIPS from Steve: With the Skins still in the hunt too, this is definitely the regression to the mean season. The only nice thing is that newly passionate Pats fans are on tenterhooks.
Gratuitous Mid-Afternoon Netflix-Induced Thought
I dunno about anybody else, but I rather enjoyed Ocean's 12. I won't say if I think it's better than Ocean's 11, because I can't remember anything about what I thought of that movie except that the ending left me mildly dissatisfied.
But one question comes up: What is it about Julia Roberts that I'm still not getting?
YIPS from Steve-O: Talk about the LLama DVD Harmonic Convergance! I rented Ocean's 12 last monday night and it was on my list of things to talk about. My thoughts:
2. Ocean's 11 is one of my all time favorite movies. I have always loved caper/con movies (thanks, I'm sure, to early repeated viewings of the Pink Panther franchise and The Sting), and Ocean's 11 was just so darn cool. I loved everything about it (except for Damon, who was the only bad penny in the bunch). It was quirky and weird in a Napoleon Dynamite sort of way, and the whole creative tension between Rusty and Danny Ocean was just, well, coolness defined. The repeated getting out of prison scenes even top the John Belushi getting out of prison scene in the Blues Brothers. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly "the biggest Ella Fitzgerald, of ALL TIME" was. The clothes, the mood, the soundtrack, it all just clicked for me.
As for the original? George Clooney is cooler than Sinatra.
IV. Ocean's 12 was just, well, flat. I re-watched it to understand the plot, and yes, it did work, but it failed (for me) in the essence of a good con movie---defining who and what the mark is. A good con movie will spin like a drunken gyroscope (think perhaps the greatest con movie of them all: House of Games), but it revolves around that central core. Ocean's 12 was coreless that way: too little quirky banter, not enough Bernie Mac, too much information on Rusty, and way too much Catherine Zeta Jones, who was probably the least convincing cinematic portrayal of a police officer since Al Molinaro's Murray the Cop on the Odd Couple tee-vee show. Maybe it was that the Danny/Tess/Rusty triangle was diluted, I don't know.
House of Games---the greatest con man movie of all time
3.14 One thing I did like was the whole Julia Roberts spoof 3/4 through the movie---it was one of the few laugh out loud parts of the whole thing, although Bruce Willis added a distracting level to the whole thing.
So in the end: too much "hey we're cool celebrities making a movie in Lake Como" and not enough of the core elements of a good con/caper movie.
And no, this doesn't mean I'm ready to join the Church of the Holy Netflix, although I've been pestered with pamphlets offered by its devout adherents in the past five trips to the airport.
Yips! back from Robbo: I'd just say to Steve-O and the commenters who have mentioned it that the whole Roberts-laughing-at-herself thing fell flat with me because it didn't come across as genuine self-mockery, but rather as pretend self-mockery which, in a weirdo Hollywood way, actually translates into more self-promotion. It was all too what my old Texas friends would have called, "praycious".
Bad Boy, Bad Boy! What Yule Gonna Do When They Come For You?
Okay, "Mr. Pretentious? Moi?" is going to confess here and now that I enjoy watching Cops from time to time. Thus, I found this particular bust especially funny.
Yips! to Chai-rista.
Life imitating art imitating life
Well, this certainly puts an interesting twist on the ending of the movie A Bronx Tale. I guess in the end C was too stupid to get out of the car...
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, Dammit!
As has become our habit in the past few years, we timed the decoration of our Christmas tree for the same day as the annual church pageant. The schedule basically went: Get tree; bring tree home and wrestle it into the house; string up the lights; dress for pageant (two angels and a sheep this year and I had to usher); go to pageant; go to after-pageant cookies and candy party in fellowship hall; come home and put up remainder of tree ornaments.
With the Llama-ettes stoked up on excitement over the tree and the pageant plus massive helpings of cookies, cocoa and candy-canes, by the end of the day I was feeling (as I usually do) that King Herod probably had the right idea after all.
This dovetails a bit with an article Cathy Seipp wrote about badly behaved children and the problems with contemporary "parenting" that I've seen remarked upon here and there in the past few days. In general, I agree that many parents are far too lax with their kids and, at the same time, far too demanding on society to tolerate their little darlins' behavior and I'm hopeful that, as she suggests, the pendulum might have reached the end of its arc and started back the other way. However, before everybody breaks out the torches and pitchforks the next time they see little Johnny having a meltdown at the local Giant, let me offer this:
Raising children is very much like baseball in that we parents do this every day. In baseball, there is no such thing as a perfect season. Even the best teams are going to lose 60-odd games per year. Likewise for parents, the simple fact of the matter is that there are going to be times when, no matter how consciencious we are, no matter how hard we try, things are going to get out of hand. I think this holds particularly true around the holidays, when everybody - parents and children alike - are in a semi-crazed state to begin with.
Now, I'm certainly not defending parents who think they have a "right" to take little Johnny anywhere and everywhere, that he has the "right" to behave however he likes, and God help anybody who dares raise an eyebrow. Since the Llama-ettes came along, we have massively curtailed our own social life specifically to keep them from making public nuisances of themselves. But even we have to go out now and again and take the gels with us. And yes, I have had each of them go to pieces on me in a public spot at various times. Does this mean that I'm an over-indulgent parent? No, it simply means that these are the times when the odds have caught up with me.
I suppose I'm just saying that I don't want to see us go over to the opposite "children should be seen and not heard" extreme. The next time you see some mother standing in line at the grocery store with a flailing, howling three year old wreaking havoc around her, don't automatically condemn her out of hand. Instead, look at the circumstances of the situation. She may or may not be more deserving of sympathy than censure. If she's trying, consider giving her a break.
Of course, if she's not or doesn't seem to think she has to, then you have my full permission to scorn.
Well, THAT would figure
So I finally bite the bullet and try to get my parents to take a look at the LLamabutchers, and sure enough the same day our new MSNBC ad switches over to advertise porn.
There will be no living that down in this lifetime.
I'm trying to dig out from under the grading mountain, but it's been harder as I feel really sluggish and out of it. The annoying, whining emails from students about their grades have begun, though, so I've got that going for me.
This weekend was great: we put up the tree, and we went to the Lessons and Carols service at church last night. I've got some stuff I want to write about that, but getting to switch over into the holiday mode is my incentive to finish grading these durn papers.
UPDATE: Ace of Spades has more on the emerging controversy of the MSNBC Porn Ads:
That MSNBC Ad in the Sidebar...
BlogAds warned me in advance that the ad would be changing, and gave me a similar ad to let me know that MSNBC was planning some blatantly-sexual advertising.
I wasn't really thrilled with the come-on nature of the ads, and the screaming slammer "PORN," but I figured it wasn't something likely to offend most readers here. In case you didn't click on the ad or read it closely, it's just an ad for an MSNBC report on online porn. (As if, you know, frequent internet users have something to learn on this score.)
I'm not sure why MSNBC did this, though. You don't really need to go too over-the-top to interest people in tittilating material... and it sort of reduces, I think, MSNBC's credibility. This is the biggest ad-buy in BlogAds history, and they've kind of sold their network with one of the more aggressively-prurient ads to run on political sites.
It's also odd that they didn't offer two alternate ad schemes -- one more restrained than the actual ad -- because I have to figure a lot of more socially-conservative sites rejected this add.
It's edgy, of course... Buzz Bunny edgy.
One of Ace's commentators observes it could be worse: it could feature naked pictures of Chris Matthews. And then I'd have to go and get a gallon of clorox and a piece of jagged fiberglass to carve out my eyeballs and clean out my cerebral cortex reeeeeeeal good. But we're just proud here to take our $7 from this little sliver of the ignoble death flop of the once-great American media establishment.
UPDATE DEUX: WHAT WOULD MELISSA THEURIAU SAY?
If you ask me it's a pretty simple timeline: John Chancellor rules the roost.....you replace Jane Pauley with that skanky hosebag Katie Couric....you let Jane Pauley go blow up some trucks with model rockets on Dateline...you let Chris Matthews go on the air off his meds....you start desperately trawling for viewers by putting up fake-porn ads on blogs like the LLamabutchers.
Like Melissa said (albeit in a husky, sexy French accent) "MSNBC a sauté le requin."
December 11, 2005
FLASH IN THE PAN CHICKS OF THE EIGHTIES DOUBLE FEATURE
It is Sunday evening and time once again to gawk like rubberneckers at the babes of yesteryear. First up: Darryl Hannah. Best attribute: very easy on the eyes. DH is one of those actresses that has a long list of credits but none of them particularly noteworthy. Sign that her career is on the ropes: prominent role in the slasher flicks Kill Bill.
Second feature: Vanessa Williams. Like Darryl Hannah, her best attribute is being very easy on the eyes and has a long list of movies to her credit, none of which were anything to write home about. Unfortunately, she is probably best remembered for being the first black Miss America and that she had to give up her crown when nude photos came out in Penthouse.
Gratuitous Musickal Posting
I read this article in today's Pravda on the Potomac with malign satisfaction: Beethoven's Revenge: Ratings Drop At Classical Music-less WETA.
For those of you unfamiliar with Dee Cee radio, WETA was for a long time the only non-commercial classical radio station in the market. Other than standard NPR bloviations "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition", it was pretty much wall-to-wall music. And generally very good selections, too. However, the past few years saw a gradual, creeping expansion of news/talk, culminating in the sudden and unannounced decision last year to go to 24/7 yapping. The station claimed this change was necessary in order to attract a wider listening audience.
"People were angry -- still are -- and I understand that," says Dan DeVany, general manager of the station (90.9 FM) and architect of the switch. "But there was an audience in the Washington area that was not being served by public radio, and we wanted to reach out to them." He's talking about breaking out of the traditional public radio audience of affluent, highly educated, older and white listeners.
But after two ratings books, two fund drives and nine months of the new programming -- a mix of news and talk shows from National Public Radio, the BBC and other outside sources, much of it oriented to foreign affairs -- WETA's audience is smaller, no more generous than the classical audience was, and no more reflective of the demographics of the Washington area.
Feh. You're damned right we're still angry, Danny Boy. As for your "unserved audience" hoo-hah, give me a break. Who do you think listens to the Beeb and NPR around here? Try highly-educated, affluent whites. And it's not as if such local listeners had been starved for this sort of thing before you threw the switch: a great deal of it was already available on WAMU, the other local NPR affiliate. This is in addition to the local C-SPAN radio station and a couple of 24/7 commercial news/talk outfits like WTOP.
No, this move had nothing to do with "reaching out" and everything to do with deserting what the station decided was ultimately a loser format:
DeVany, who has been at the station since 1986, says WETA is still evolving. But even in the coming era of digital radio, when stations will add extra streams of programming that listeners will receive on a new generation of broadcast radios, WETA will not go back to classical music. The station is seeking a new home, probably a college, for its library of more than 27,000 classical CDs.
DeVany says he wouldn't have dropped music if the area didn't also have a commercial classical station, WGMS (103.5 FM), and indeed that station's ratings have benefited from WETA's switch. But in WGMS's pops approach, the music is intended largely as background, an accompaniment to work or commuting, not as the active, serious listening that public radio was created to provide.
The only justification I've ever heard that makes any real sense for continuing to pour tax money into public broadcast is that such stations would be able to air programming with some immunity from the pressures of market forces. It strikes me that real, intelligent, classical music is a perfect example of such programming. How seriously pathetic is it that the nation's capital doesn't have a single outlet for such music? (As the article correctly notes, WGMS never ventures beyond classic-lite background noise.) George Will often refers to public broadcasting as an upper middle class subsidy. This is a fair assessment. But if we're going to have it at all, let's put it to some good use.
Oh, and remember how It Takes A Village, the other great public broadcasting rationale? Sorry, kids.
"Are we abandoning a generation from being exposed to classical music?" DeVany asks. "There's a danger of that across all media. It's still up to the parents."
Yes. Well message to WETA: You know those annual pledge-drive pleas you keep sending me? Sorry, but I'm spending the money on CD's instead.
December 10, 2005
The Chronicles of Barney
In case you haven't seen it yet, this year's Barney-Cam story, "A Very Beazley Christmas", is up over at the White House homepage (right hand column).
It's moderately entertaining this time around. I have to say though, without giving away too much plot, that any household that thinks encouraging a pair of Scotties to work together is a good idea is asking for a big ol' heap of trouble.
Gratuitous Llama Blog Orgling
The Missus and the gels are off at some kiddy Christmas party or other and I don't have to get the pork loin into the oven for another hour or so, so perhaps this is the perfect time to give my O-fficial endorsements for the 2005 Weblog Awards. Christ knows when this competition wraps up, but go on over and vote for these fine folks and keep doing it until Kevin calls security.
Two things: First, I've skipped those categories where I simply don't recognize any of the contestants or have any particular preference. Second, I urge you to pay extra attention to the smaller blogger categories, as typically every vote counts among them.
Now, without further ado, may I have the envelope please:
Best Blog - Starting right at the top, I think I'm going with The Corner this year. Where else but with J-Lo, Jonah, the Derb and the rest of the NRO crew can you get such a a nifty blend of politics, Yankees-bashing, time-wasters and stealth Star Trek references?
Best New Blog - Among all the blogs with packing peanuts still clinging to their hair, John at Wuzzadem picks up my vote for his inspired combinations of pictures and dialogue. My sinuses are feeling much better for the regular bursts of coffee that come flying out of my nose when I read his posts.
Best Humor/Comic Blog - Not so easy, because several of these are regular favorites of mine. After considering it, I'm going to let the bigger dogs fend for themselves (the two Jeffs don't need our help) and give the Llama nod to the crack young staff of the Hatemonger's Quarterly, with a side vote for Six Meat Buffet.
Best Liberal Blog - Beats the hell out of me, but fer chrissakes don't vote for Wonkette.
Well, there you have it. Vote early and often for these guys. And congratulations to everybody who made the cut.
UPDATE: My bad: For Best of the Rest of the Blogs (+8751), what could be better than Seven Deadly Sins? The Sinner's Internet address is slightly different than the name of his blog and I didn't recognize it when viewing the contestants. In fact, I'd been meaning to blogroll this one. Allow me to do so now by way of apology for my oversight.
Hitting Cold Miser's Fist With My Jaw
Unlike my diligent next door neighbor, I did not clear off the driveway first thing yesterday morning, right after the snow storm was over. Instead, I ignored it and got some extra sleep.
I paid for this slacking today, as I had to deal not with snow, but with a two inch thick layer of ice, which had also been driven over several times. I had to keep switching back and forth between the smaller metal shovel I used to whack the stuff loose, and the larger plastic one I used for heaving it aside. All told, It took a couple hours. My arms and hands are still trembling.
Kids in our neighborhood don't go around offering to shovel other people's driveways. Too bad for them - after the first half hour if someone had asked me for the job he could have named his own terms.
If it's Saturday morning....
....it must be time for Gary the X-Donk's Diane Lane sophisticated cheescake shot of the week.
Yes, I know, I've been sadly deficient in the French nooz hottie Melissa Theuriau blogging as of late: the past three days have been chock full of grading, writing 3 exams, and surviving a faculty meeting wherein we fended off a hostile takeover of our department, and gave a wedgie to our president who took a $124,000 bonus in the same year she slashed our benefits 20% and froze our pay. So sue me.
This morning I'm taking the bouncy one to gymnastics, and bringing the boy along so that we can have some manly time, go to Barnes and Noble and maybe a pizza slice. Before he started school we used to regularly have "Men's Lunch" where the two of us would regularly go for a slice and a soda, an institution which needs to be revived. It's amazing how much first grade can transform your world. After that, it's tree-setting up time.
December 09, 2005
"Clinton says Bush is 'flat wrong' on Kyoto"
Bubba launches into Dubya on Kyoto and global warming: too bad he didn't say anything to get Bush to get the Senate to approve Kyoto back when it came out.
Oh, right, I forgot.....
Score One For The Good Guys
The "Butcher of Ramadi" has been handed over to U.S. and Iraqi troops by local citizens.
Amir Khalaf Fanus -- listed third on a "high-value individuals" list of terrorists wanted by the 28th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team -- was wanted for criminal activities including murder and kidnapping. Ramadi citizens brought him to an Iraqi and U.S. forces military base in Ramadi, where he was taken into custody.
It's great that we've got this guy, but even more encouraging that we do so because the locals were getting sick and tired of him.
Yips! to Phin.
Cheese-Eating Surrender Donkeys
YIPS from Steve:
please don't beat us.....we'll be good dhimmis!
UPDATE: Michelle's got the video.
Second Storm Of The Century Of The Week
About three inches of snow at the Butcher's House last night, giving the Missus and the Llama-ettes their first snow day of the season today and reducing everybody on the road this morning to a mob of gutless weenies.
It occurred to me as I was putting them on this morning that I've had the same pair of Bean boots for better than twenty years. Are these not one of the greatest products ever created?
UPDATE: Let me just point out to Kathy and the rest of the "Snow? You can't handle snow!" crowd that the two great winter sports around here are 1) freaking out over a single snowflake and 2) making fun of everybody else for freaking out over a single snowflake. Is it childish? Yes. Is it two-faced? Sure. Is it, in fact, pathetic? Absolutely. And does everybody here secretly understand this? You bet.
Think that will stop us? Not a chance. This is Dee Cee - we do everything this way.
December 08, 2005
INSIDE THE BELTWAY KNIFE-FIGHTING
The latest rumor that Rumsfeld is supposedly on his way out. This is yet another example of the rumor mill cranking up and being reported as "news." The Donald was supposed to be on his way out weeks after being sworn in as the only man to hold the job of defense secretary twice. As I said before, Rumsfeld will remain where he is long as he has the confidence of the President and there is no indication W.'s view of him has slipped in any way. My guess as to the leakers: disgruntled Pentagon types or White House staffers seeking to ingratiate themselves with the Fourth Estate.
The First Of Many, I'm Sure
Yup, it's officially the Christmas Season and, for our money, nothing says, "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men" better than Drunk Santa 2.
Go to it, kids!
Yips! to Dave Barry's Little Helper Judi.
Ms. Morrisette, call on line two, Ms. Morrisette....
I know Mary Magdelene is important to the Gnostics, and Gnosticism is the new Kabalah, but.....
December 8th, 2001, December 8th 1941
Insty has an interesting link up about public opinion in Afghanistan four years after the Taliban fell, and four years and four weeks after the left declared Afghanistan an unwinnable quagmire (brutal Afghan winter, anyone? Bueller?)
Yesterday, I happened into a conversation with two colleauges in the hall outside of my office where they were talking about "good liberals." They both refused to believe my statement that FDR was the greatest president of the 20th century. And the reason why is December 8th. (Scroll through here to listen to various recordings of news reports from December 7th and 8th of that year.)
Here's why FDR was the greatest president of the 20th century:
"Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
This morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
Always will be remembered the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounded determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.
Now, what is missing from that speech?
Ah yes, any mention of Nazi Germany and Italy. And our first large scale military offensive after Pearl Harbor was to invade......North Africa.
FDR saw the larger threat, and acted decisively, and for a generation at least swept foolish isolationism and America-firstism off the table. I wrote a longer piece last fall about the Arcadia Conference and FDR's adoption of the "Europe First" plan, based in part over fears of Nazi development of an atomic bomb.
Wherein Steve-O tries to channel Howard Dean over FDR's lies that got us into the 60 year European quagmire:
FDR lying again to the American people by pretending to stand up, all the while leading us into an unnecessary war against Nazi Germany---WHO HAD NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER TO PEARL HARBOR!!!---based on bogus WMD "intelligence" from so-called experts like that Einstein guy all to save the Imperial pretensions of Winston Churchill!!!
And 60 years later we're still in Germany and Japan!!!
The Neo-Con lies from so-called "experts" about German attempts to procure Uranium from Africa that were the pretext for our illegal imperial invasion of Europe!
Ironic that since 1968 the Dixiecrats left the Democrats and joined the Republicans, while the isolationist cranks and America-firsters left the Republicans and joined the Democrats.
I prefer a party with neither, but that's just me, Mr. Vegas.
Your Read and Scroll pointer for the day
Jordana at Curmudgeonry is in high dudgeon with our friends at WalMart, but is in fine form trying to pull together house and kids and a 50 person dinner party.
Read and scroll.
Curmudgeonry is a daily read here at Rancho non Sequitor: no one does domestic blogging better.
Happy Birthday, James Thurber!
James Thurber was born this day in 1894 in Columbus, Ohio. Here is a brief biography. He is easily my favorite American humorist and many of the characters and episodes from his stories, from Muggs the dog to the Get-Ready Man to the the crazy aunt who believed electricity leaked out of light sockets have found permanent homes in the rather chaotic jumble of my mind.
No, No, Noonan
I know this is one of those fault-line issues that is predicted to cause the temblor that will bring down the conservative coalition, and I will no doubt cheese off some of our readers by even bringing it up, but the fact of the matter is that I find Peggy Noonan's anti-illegal-immigration rant this morning downright offensive. Her thesis is that illegals coming across are simply incapable of becoming True Americans:
What does it mean that your first act on entering a country--your first act on that soil--is the breaking of that country's laws? What does it suggest to you when that country does nothing about your lawbreaking because it cannot, or chooses not to? What does that tell you? Will that make you a better future citizen, or worse? More respecting of the rule of law in your new home, or less?
If you assume or come to believe that that nation will not enforce its own laws for reasons that are essentially cynical, that have to do with the needs of big business or the needs of politicians, will that assumption or belief make you more or less likely to be moved by that country, proud of that country, eager to ally yourself with it emotionally, psychologically and spiritually?
When you don't earn something or suffer to get it, do you value it less highly? If you value it less highly, will you bother to know it, understand it, study it? Will you bother truly to become part of it? When you are allowed to join a nation for free, as it were, and without the commitment of years of above-board effort, do you experience your joining that country as a blessing or as a successful con? If the latter, what was the first lesson America taught you?
I'm not actually arguing here about what the proper U.S. immigration policy should be, what the Mexican government should do to improve economic opportunities at home, or any of the other broader issues. Instead, I would just point out to Peggy that the border isn't being overrun by poli-sci wonks engaged in meditations on the meaning of citizenship. Rather, it's being flooded by dirt-poor peasants who are fool enough to think that if they can manage to get to that great land of prosperity to the north, they and their families can somehow get in on it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: If I were in their position, I'd be doing the same damned thing. (And for what it's worth, I grew up 150 miles from the border. I knew plenty of people who were the children or grandchildren of illegals. They were proud as hell to be Americans.)
Also, Peggy seems to think that illegal immigrants don't "suffer" to get here. Does she have any idea of how appallingly dangerous the conditions are on the border? The deserts? The heat? The lack of food and water? The gangs of bandits and slave-traders? And once they get here, to have very little legal recourse if someone wants to take advantage of them? Please.
UPDATE: Again, let me clarify that I'm not arguing for a specific policy one way or the other here, either flinging the borders wide open or building a fortified line of pillboxes and minefields. What I'm objecting to specifically is Noonan's suggestion that a person's illegal entry ipso facto makes such an entrant unfit for or unworthy of U.S. citizenship. This is nonsense and does discredit to legitimate arguments about border control and law enforcement.
The Storm Of The Century Of The Week, Part Two: Cold Miser's Revenge
Here we go again:
... Winter Storm Warning in effect from 6 PM this evening to 12 PM EST Friday...
The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a
Winter Storm Warning... which is in effect from 6 PM this evening
to 12 PM EST Friday. The Winter Storm Watch is no longer in
A winter storm is currently taking shape across the Ohio Valley... and
is forecast to advance into our region this evening. This storm
has a potential of producing a mixed bag of snow... sleet and
freezing rain across the DC and Baltimore Metro areas. Total
accumulations of snow and sleet of 3 to 6 inches are expected by Friday
A Winter Storm Warning means significant amounts of snow...
sleet... and ice are expected. This will make travel very
hazardous. If you must travel... keep an extra
flashlight... food... and water in your vehicle in case of an
emergency. Stay tuned NOAA Weather Radio or local media for
updates to the forecast.
Run for your lives, Dee Cee!
December 07, 2005
Blinded By Science - Bovine Division
Steve at Careful Thought posts on the physics of cow-tipping.
I was much moooved by this post.
[Ed - Oh, how cud you?]
Yes, I suppose I deserve a kick in the "dairy-air".
[Ed. - Damn right. That joke was udderly reprehensible.]
No need to get Bossy and put me on the horns of a dilemma. Can't we just moove on?
[Ed. - Only if you will promise that's no bull.]
No, no. I think I've milked this line for all it's worth.
[Ed. - Okay, then. Cowabunga!]
Hello, Foot? Meet Mouth!
Earlier today, I praised an unidentified someone out there for recommending a great Greek Mythology book for domestic consumption here at the Butcher's House.
This evening, I was rayther icely informed by the Missus that she had been the one to recommend the book, based on her reading of it to her class at the Llama-ettes' Montessori School.
Evidently, those cracks I sometimes make about St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method rankle. Who knew?
Watch your back, Lileks!
Yet another “third highest ranking al-Qaida leader” has been killed, this time by a rocket attack from an unmanned drone. There are a lot of jobs that I wouldn’t want, and “third highest ranking al-Qaida leader” is right at the top. But I can tell you for sure that if I ever got that job, the first thing I’d do is narc out one of the top two guys so I could move up a notch. Apparently one of the perks of being in the top two is having a really, really good hiding place. The number 3 through 10 leadership guys are pretty much scurrying between mud huts and looking at the sky a lot.
I know that war is Hell and all that, but I have to think that the guy who fired the rocket by remote control loves his job. I have an image of him sitting in an air conditioned headquarters someplace, feet up on the desk, a bag of Cheetohs on one side, a Budweiser on the other, staring at his computer screen. It’s about 1 am and everyone else is asleep. The order comes through on e-mail saying something like “Blow up mud hut #4,7855.” So he takes a break from playing Doom and plugs that number into the GPS system and soon his drone is hovering over said mud hut, missiles ready to go.
Maybe it’s just a “guy thing” but the idea of blowing up a mud hut by remote controlled drone sounds like the most fun thing I can think of. And if the number 3 al-Qaida leader happens to be inside, that’s a bonus. It certainly makes your story sound less nerdy afterwards.
I find it interesting that the guy with the best job in the world gets to blow up the guy with the worst job in the world. That’s really rubbing it in. But I guess it’s not so different from a CEO downsizing the auditing department. It’s one of those recurring themes in life.
The media is reporting that Lady Thatcher is back in the hospital for observation. One of the Internet stories has this link to her foundation, a treasure trove of stuff on Robbo's long-lost.
Yips! from Robbo: Ah, Maggs! It was my introduction to her in the 80's that made me realize that my previous infatuation with Jeanne Kirkpatrick was just a summer thing.....
You Love Us! You Really Love Us!
Well, it looks like we're getting crushed in the 2005 Weblog Awards competition for Best Culture/Gossip Blog. The front-runners, which I've never heard of, seem to be decidedly pop in nature, geared to the celebrity fandom types. Ah, well.
However, what's cool for us is that I've seen recommendations to vote Llama from a surprisingly goodly number of you folks out there, even from some bloggers unfamiliar to me. Despite joking around about it , we've never been about chasing popularity, but it is gratifying (and humbling) to know that you guys (always excepting Bill, of course) enjoy what we're doing here.
I haven't kept track of all the Llama Luv I've come across, so in order not to leave anybody out unfairly, I'd like to issue a big ol' blanket Thank You!
Yip! Yip! Yip!
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
As a general rule, if a law enforcement type tells you to do something, do not give him a hard time. An air marshal shot a passenger in Florida after the plane landed from Columbia. First reaction--probably drug-related and may not have been an air marshal (DEA?).
UPDATE: HE CHOSE . . . . POORLY More info from Reuters. The reports are that the suspect announced he had a bomb and he was dropped by the good guys on the jetway.
Feel the Dark Side of the Force Coursing Through Your Veins!!!!
Luke....come and read my copy of Schumpeter's Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy....embrace your CSS destiny!
Long-time commentator, new blogger, certified commie moonbat, and aulde pal LB Buddy is faced with a difficult dilemma for the committed Chomsky-ite: supporting the people's revolution against capitalism and AmeriKKKan hegemony against getting an extremely powerful funny feeling in the pants about the newest ipod.
New Blog of the Day
Robert over at Argument Clinic has promised us increased sexual potency by linking to his new blog.
Who am I to argue with that?
Next up in the New Blog of the Day: we're waiting for the imminent debut of the heretefore unnamed blog from semi-regular commentator and long term pal KeithS.
Bring. It. On!
Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)
I am very happy this afternoon, thanks to the news that BBC3 will be kicking off its "Bach Christmas" programming starting December 16, and which it is describing as "Every note, night and day":
The composer's entire surviving body of work will be performed by some of the world's greatest musicians including specially recorded performances by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Angela Hewitt, Philippe Herreweghe and Ton Koopman.
(Koopman, by the way, is superb IMHO. Gardiner used to do excellent work too, although he's known around my family these days as "John Eliot Full-Of-Himself".)
Aaaaand, as an extra bonus, the Beeb has already posted a Bach Advent Calendar, with choice treats for each day. Click on over.
Yips! to Chan S. for spreading the word!
UPDATE: Hmmm...I wonder if they'll include this in the playlist? A while back, I happened to write about a rather unusual piece of which I have a recording, the Trio Sonata in C, BWV 1037. But when I pulled it out a while ago, I idly glanced at the liner notes and was startled to see this:
The authenticity of a number of works (including several heralded for their accomplished fugues), has been questioned in recent years. The C Major Trio, BWV 1037, containing as its second movement a familiar and justly celebrated double fugue, is one such work. This trio sonata was originally thought to have been composed, like the double concerto [for two violins], by Bach during his appointment as court composer in Cothen (1717-23). Now, however, four German manuscripts have been found that attribute the trio to Johann Gottlieb Goldberg. On this basis, it is believed to have been composed more probably by this same Goldberg who began his studies with Bach in 1737 and whose name is forever attached to the master's illustrious variations of 1742. In any event, the instrumental trio sonata was a genre that Bach largely avoided and further questions of attribution hover over the few other works of this kind that occur among his ouevre.
No wonder it sounded a bit off the path to me. Not that I like the piece any less for knowing that Bach probably didn't write it.
Oh well, at least there is no question about the composition of his Christmas Oratorio, of which I have always been immensely fond.
UPDATE DEUX: A bit of background on the confusion over attribution of this piece.
Our pal The Colossus turns one year old today. Go on over and have some cake.
Two Minute Drill
Mother Sheehan is attempting to stretch out her fifteen minutes of fame. Beautifully Atrocious Jeff has the hi-larious details.
(Not safe for sandwich consumption. Urk!)
GOODNESS GRACIOUS GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!
I was reading during lunch some cool stuff about the solar minimum and space weather. Does anyone have any good suggestions about reading up on this stuff? The whole concept is new to me.
BTW, this was cool. In a dorky way, of course.
Yips! from Robbo: Way cool. And speaking of such things, the O.F. directs me to this site: The Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System. If you're interested in detailed information on current atmospheric and oceanic conditions between Boston and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (and who in their right mind wouldn't be?) then this is the place for you. Click now and thank me later.
Nifty G-File today in which Jonah takes on Mecha-Streisand's self-ballyhooed decision to cancel her subscription to the LA Times over the addition of his column to its opinion page. Money quote:
So, taking Streisand seriously, we must ask: Is she on crack?
YIPS from Steve: I had sliced the same quote, but Robbo beat me to the punch by 30 seconds. Ah, to spend an afternoon in the bar car on the Metroliner with Jonah Goldberg...
"Can You Tell Me How To Get?"
Dean waxes rhapsodic on the subject of Sesame Street and in particular, Cookie Monster. As far as he's concerned, it hasn't lost any of its luster over the years. Indeed, he throws down the gauntlet:
I remember when Sesame Street was subversive, and they aren't subversive anymore. But they are still the single best kids' show that ever existed. I defy you to give me a better example.
I won't take up that challenge because I can't really think of any examples off the top of my head. But I will say this: Somebody (Noggin, I think) runs a show called "Elmo's World" that mixes and matches newer and older skits and pieces. It isn't very difficult to spot the difference in terms of both tone and quality. And it was the subversiveness of the older shows in which I principally delighted when I was a kid - the smart-assedness of Ernie, the hapless and short-tempered Bert, the neurotic hysteria of Grover, the gentle cynicism of Kermit and the single-mindedness of Cookie Monster. Everybody has mellowed out. That, to me, is a shame. (And for the record, I detest Elmo himself.)
See, kids? One of the joys of studying history is that little shudder of recognition one gets when one sees it repeating itself. Thus, Ed Morrissey, writing over at the Weekly Standard, gives us the return of the Copperhead Democrats.
Death of the English Major
Margaret Soltan has a piece at Inside Higher Ed on the way in which English Departments have managed to bring about their own marginalization.
[W]hen there’s not even a broadly conceived field of valuable objects around which we all agree our intellectual and pedagogical activity should revolve, there’s no discipline of any kind.
Instead, there’s a strong tendency, as Louis Menand puts it, toward “a predictable and aimless eclecticism.” A young English professor who has a column under the name Thomas Hart Benton in The Chronicle of Higher Education puts it this way: “I can’t even figure out what ‘English’ is anymore, after ten years of graduate school and five years on the tenure track. I can’t understand eighty percent of PMLA, the discipline’s major journal. I can’t talk to most people in my own profession, not that we have anything to say to each other. We don’t even buy one another’s books; apparently they are not worth reading. We complain about how awful everything is, how there’s no point to continuing, but nobody has any idea what to do next.”
The piece tracks the ways in which politization of the canon and the introduction of crazed literary theories are causing (or have caused) the collapse of the field.
Sigh. I was an English major twenty years ago and even though I attended the Glorious Workers' Soviet of Middletown and this sort of thing was creeping into the department even then, one could still pick and choose courses with solid professors that covered the bulk of, well, what English majors ought to read. Indeed, I managed to hit most of the high points of the canon between Chaucer and the mid-20th Century. I haven't checked out the course catalog lately, but I'll bet it's a lot harder to piece together such a curriculum today and even more difficult to avoid spending all one's time noodling about whether Jane Austen was a lesbian or Shakespeare a secret socialist.
I suppose that if I had to do it all over again, I'd be a classics major instead. Indeed, I think what kept me away from that route back then was the intensive language study involved. Too bad.
Yips! to Rachel.
YIPS from Steve: We have an "Honors Fellow" whose speciality is deconstructing cookbooks.
I kid you not.
Next up, no doubt, will be a major in Lunchbox Studies.
This hymn, familiar to all who have gone "down to the sea in ships", is for those who were there on that "day that will live in infamy" and their families.
December 7, 1941
Wow. I have never been to Hawaii, nor have I ever seen a photograph of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial quite like this one - the ghost of the ship just below the surface is positively haunting.
Remember and honor, indeed.
Yips! to Groovy Vic.
Here it is from Google Earth:
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - "Why I Love The Blogsphere" Division
Somebody recommended this book to me a while back in response to a bleg post (which I can't seem to find at the moment). Can I just take a moment to give some Llama mega-yips! of thanks for the tip? I've been reading it to the seven year old practically every night for a couple weeks and she is positively enthralled. We've already been all the way through the cycle and are now working our way back, touching on her favorite stories. Even more encouraging, she is also reading the book to herself.
Oh, and in the "apples don't fall far from the tree" department, the gel has become quite the expert on how Disney screwed up the story of Hercules. My work may not be done here, but it is definitely yielding results.
MRS. EDDIE VAN HALEN
December 06, 2005
EIB IN ACTION
Limbaugh lays into the senator from Beacon Hill, specifically said senator's interview on Sunday. The Dems are in high dungeon, mentioning, by the way, that said senator is a "decorated combat veteran." For a little retrospective on the combat service of said senator from Beacon Hill, consult the Swift Boat Vets and Pows for Truth.
UPDATE: The Dems link was on Drudge but has since been removed.
Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!
Kimberly at No. 2 Pencil relays the news that ABC is airing A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight. As she notes, the fact that the program first aired at all 40 years ago - and has survived all this time intact - is rather remarkable, given its unabashedly Christian theme.
Kimberly also very kindly links to what I wrote about Linus' recitation of Luke last year. While reading over it again, I seem to have got something stuck under my contact, 'cos my eyes are getting watery....
Rose Bowl Blues
I mentioned in comments to Steve-O's recent post about last Saturday's Texas and USC games that Gregg Easterbrook has been tracking both teams' habit of running up excessive scores and warning that this practice is not going unnoticed in higher places. In his column this week (which starts with a juicy recap of the 'Fins incredible come-from-behind win over Buffalo on Sunday - Heh, indeed), he again sounds the alarm:
BCS Omens Watch: Texas led 42-3, yet Vince Young was still in the game and heave-hoeing passes as the Longhorns frantically ran up the score. A few hours later, USC led 45-6, yet Matt Leinart was still in the game and heave-hoeing passes as the Trojans frantically ran up the score. Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled above my house as the football gods showed their displeasure at these dueling displays of poor sportsmanship. But how can the football gods curse both teams at the Rose Bowl?
As I say, Gregg has been tracking this all year. In the past, he has noted that Texas is the worse offender. This is why, as a Longhorns fan, I've got a baaaaad feeling about the Bowl Game.
UPDATE: Will Franklin offers a rebuttal -
Ben Franklin once said (and I am paraphrasing) that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
With all due respect, Texas did not run up the score against CU or any other time all year. To make that claim is to open your mouth and shout, "I am an idiot! I didn't actually watch the games, or even look at the box score!"
Against Colorado, Texas scored 70 points with more than half of the 3rd quarter remaining, then went out of their way to NOT score anymore. I mean, it was difficult, but running 8th string RBs up the middle every time is how you do it.
Vince Young was pulled from the game with about 25 minutes remaining on the game clock. He played very little all year in the second half. And when he did, it was usually because the game was close (against Ohio State, for example). When he did play in blowouts, he just handed the ball off and barely threw at all. Against CU, for example, Texas threw the ball a total of a few times in the second half. And those were our backups making the throws. Yes, backups. Plural. We brought in our third string walkon QB with nearly 10 minutes to play.
A couple of the touchdowns came from special teams and defensive plays. Asking your defense "not to run up the score" is impossible. They play defense. They tackle. They make plays. They score touchdowns or put you in position to score touchdowns.
Mack Brown, if anything, is often too classy for his own good. He is good friends with Gary Barnett and was most definitely not running up the score. Nor did Texas run up the score at any other point during the season. It is a shame you would perpetuate that erroneous claim. Making that claim is stupid. It's ignorant. It's just plain foolish BS. It proves that someone hasn't actually paid attention.
I hope he's right. I also hope the football gods are paying more attention than Gregg.
Jared posts a review that allays the vast majority of my fears about The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe:
Most of my readers will want to know how faithful the movie is to its source.
I am happy to say approximately 98% faithful. There are expansions on the text: for instance, thirteen words referring to the London air-raids in Lewis’s opening paragraph become the film’s first fifteen minutes. From then on, the film pretty much paints by the numbers, adding some dialogue and visual exposition, both of which are necessary to most any adaptation. The only significant addition I can think of is a stand-off between the children led by the Beavers and Jadis’ band of wolf police on a frozen waterfall that is rapidly thawing. This episode is not in the book, but it is a good and exciting scene and certainly does not detract.
A few writers, myself included, have wondered about where the movie places Susan and Lucy during the great battle. In the book, as Father Christmas presents Susan with a bow and quiver of arrows and Lucy with a bottle of healing potion and a dagger, he nevertheless says he does not intend for them to fight. “Battles are ugly when women fight,” Father Christmas says. Because of a few brief shots in the previews and because of the liberties Peter Jackson took with Arwen and Eowyn in his Lord of the Rings adaptations, Narnia purists feared Lewis’s traditionalism would give way to modern liberalism. Well, folks, you can relax. Father Christmas’ line has indeed been changed to simply, “Battles are ugly affairs," but while the battle rages, Susan and Lucy play the book’s roles of the comforter of the fallen Aslan, the two Marys at the tomb of the savior.
No, in terms of fidelity to the source, Adamson’s movie is remarkably faithful, expanding when necessary, subtracting little, and adding only when compelling.
Read the rest. He has some thoughtful criticism as well relating to the movie's storytelling powers.
Yips! to Jen.
Well THAT sucks!
Phin should have the siren up for this bit of pinheadedry.
IF THAT WEREN'T BAD ENOUGH Ms. Sadie is going on hiatus for the rest of the month. But at least she leaves us with a taste of "Quentin Tarantino's A Christmas Carol." I vote for Jules as the ghost of Christmas Future, mother******!
The Two of Six Rule
Scott Adams of Dilbert fame is--but of course---blogging now, and holds forth on his genius "2 of 6" formula for funny.
H/T to J.T. at Wizbang.
What I'd really love to see would be a meta-blog featuring Scott Adams, Dave Barry, PJ O'Rourke, and Lileks. I would pay for that.
Carnival of Music #23
Head on over to The Business of America is Business. A decidedly contemporary bent this time around. You kids and your rock and roll!
Storm of the Century of the Week Report
We got about an inch of snow in my neck of the NoVA woods last night. Just enough to make everything look beautiful this morning, but not enough that I had to do anything about it.
As I mentioned when it flurried at Thanksgiving, the snow seems to be starting a bit early this year. Last winter, we barely got any. I wonder if this is a sign we're in for much more of it this time around.
Breakfast Link Dump
The roundup while the pancakes are a rising:
VOTE LLAMABUTCHERS: WE'LL MAKE YOUR WILDEST DREAMS COME TRUE!
Okay, so we never really got into the whole "Porkbusters" thing that Insty and his posse of bloggie do-goodniks organized over the fall.
All hail Emperor Traffic Santa I
We didn't join in....well, we were to Porkbusters what Mundungus Fletcher was to the Order of the Phoenix: we're opposed to the overall harmful effect to the public interest posed by Voldemort/uncontrolled Congressional spending, but if something were to come our way having innocently fallen off the back of a truck, we wouldn't want any nasty conflict of interest now, would we?
So, instead of "Porkbusters" the LLamabutchers would like to propose "Melissalusters"---an internet/blog based public pressure campaign to get CBS News to appoint hottie French nooz babe Melissa Theuriau as anchor of the CBS Evening News.
This is the vision we have:
1. She's French, and she doesn't speak English
Come on, American tee-vee is chock full of Canucks--what's a little international solidarity and cooperation among ancien amis, eh?
Transforming the Tiffany Network into the Melissa Network: this is CBS's chance to lower their demographic by about 50 years and a Y chromosone.
So that's today's reason to go vote for the LLamabutchers in this year's Coveted Bloggies competition. Remember, you can vote once per day per computer---and yes, Liz, that was me in the computer lab yesterday afternoon checking, ummm, the browser settings on all the computers...
SPECIAL EXTRA REASON TO VOTE LLAMAS INSTEAD OF THAT PURITAN SONDRA K:
Here's what the world will look like if Sondra K wins "Best Culture Blog"
December 05, 2005
Yahoo! is flogging its email search features with the caption "Quick! find email from an old flame," together with the above photo of, to borrow from Bill & Ted, Gnarly Old Goat Dude.
This is a good thing?
"Hey, Baybee....I'm baaaaack! Pucker up!"
This Probably Sinks Our "Best Culture Blog" Nomination, But I'm Going To Say It Anyway
I caught LotR: The Return of the King on cable this evening. I confess that I've only seen it once before, and then I was, well, very tired.
However, I saw it this evening steadily and whole. Among many, many other things, somehow I had managed to overlook the similarities between the rousing pre-battle speeches of Aragorn and President Whitmore last time around.
If flagrant artistic license was a bottle of whiskey, I imagine Fellowship of the Ring to contain a number of surreptitious nips that Peter Jackson, perhaps, hoped we might not notice. But the trend grew steadily through The Two Towers and by the time we reach this movie, Jackson has abandoned all pretense and is chug-a-lugging right out in the open. (Now where have I seen this before? Ah, yes - Scott of the Sahara! "Rewrite! Great! Weee'll sort it all out on the floor!")
So what is my Llama Gratuitous Movie Review?
Damn and blast Peter Jackson.
That is all.
Do not doubt we are serious...
That's our shameless appeal for the elusive Beautiful Atrocities endorsement.
Blizzard of Oh-Five Update
I'm Snow Miser...who is the BEYATCH now!?!
A harsh 23 centimeters of snow has completely socked in much of Central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.
This morning, I walked into the 1030 Intro to Political Science class and all the kids were grouped over at the window, grinning and jabbering like squirrels on whippets. I mean, it could very well have been one of those Mutual of Omaha's where Jim brings some bush tribesman who speaks in clicks to Antarctica, and the guy is standing there in awe of the sky slowly falling to pieces. Once I got them herded into their seats, I climbed on a chair, took down the clock from the far side of the room, and propped it up on the windowsill, so they wouldn't crane their necks as if at the Wimbeldon Finals, swinging back and forth between snow and time. Then, to be particularly sneaky, I performed the teaching version of the combover: I moved the lectern in front of the window, so I could convince myself that they were looking with rapt attention at ME, completely ensconced in my scintilating pearls of wisdom being brought forth on the American party system and the concept of realignments.
I bugged out right after the last class, and after a somewhat tricky drive home (someone needs to explain to the jackasses who drive Ford Pequods that four wheel drive does not give them an exemption to the law F=M*A) stopped at the grocery store. Because the Commonwealth of Virginia owns approximately one snow plow, 23 centimeters of snow can easily translate into a couple of days off from school. Needless to say, therefore, we needed to stock up on the four essentials: fixings for chili, fixings for ice cream sundaes, fixings for pancakes, and vast quantities of adult beverages.
I also stopped for movies. I got A Christmas Story, Mona Lisa Smile, and Ocean's 12---kids flick, chick flick, dad flick. On Friday I rented Bad Santa along with Napoleon Dynamite, but was only able to watch about 45 minutes of it. Basically, I needed to laugh until I fell off the couch at the utter absurd vulgar crudity of it all, turning it off when it showed the first signs of developing a story line of redemption. But I was struck how much the inklings of the Bad Santa motif were taken straight out of A Christmas Story, perhaps one of the great Christmas movies of them all.
You'll shoot your eye out kid!
I'll liveblog it when we watch tomorrow afternoon.
And now, in honor of the Great Blizzard of December 2005, I give you the lyrics to the Snow Miser song:
I'm Mister White Christmas
I'm Mister Snow
I'm Mister Icicle
I'm Mister Ten Below
Friends call me Snow Miser
What ever I touch
Turns to snow in my clutch
I'm too much!
He's Mister White Christmas
He's Mister Snow
He's Mister Icicle
He's Mister Ten Below
Friends call me Snow Miser,
What ever I touch
Turns to snow in my clutch
He's too much
! [Snow Miser]
I never want to see a day
That's over forty degrees
I'd rather have it thirty,
Twenty, ten, five and let it freeeeEEEEEEeeze!
He's Mister White Christmas
He's Mister Snow
He's Mister Icicle
He's Mister Ten Below
Friends call me Snow Miser,
What ever I touch
Turns to snow in my clutch
... too much.
Coming up tomorrow: our relentless vote mongering continues, replete with the Melissa Theuriau pshop reason to vote LLamabutchers of the day. Plus, cheap shots at Wonkette AND Andrew Sullivan in the same day!
And what do YOU want for Christmas little boy....?
Who needs an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB rifle with a compass in the stock when you've got Arafat giftwrapped in hell?
In case you were confused
Beautiful Atrocities has a complete guide to the glut of skanky Jennifers currently loose in McHitler's Amerikkka.
I gave into temptation and had a peek at the 9 minute trailer for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
I get the distinct sense that the story has been punched up considerably - the single sentence at the beginning of the book about the Pevensy children leaving London because of the bombing seems to have been turned into a sort of mini-Luftwaffe version of Memphis Belle. The producers have also made the chase from the Beavers' House to the Stone Table much more nail-biting. And there are lots and lots of LoTR-style monster n' battle special effects.
Having said all that, however, I came away actually rather excited.
Now I'm faced with the problem of how many of the Llama-ettes to take to see it. The three year old is right out, of course. But I think this is going to be more than the five year old can handle, too, and she won't be happy about being left behind.
Yips! to the Colossus.
Doing Our Part To Promote Our Nation's Health
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Coffee and tea may reduce the risk of serious liver damage in people who drink alcohol too much, are overweight, or have too much iron in the blood, researchers reported on Sunday.
The study of nearly 10,000 people showed that those who drank more than two cups of coffee or tea per day developed chronic liver disease at half the rate of those who drank less than one cup each day.
I know what you're thinking: Gee, Tom, how can I start receiving the excellent, healthful benifits of St. Joe?
Well for starters, why not nip on over and pick up a Llama Mug! Heck, you could probably even write it off as a medical expense on your taxes. After all, four out of five doctors not surveyed recommend coffee that's meaty, woolly and snippy!
LLAMABUTCHER INDUSTRIES.....WHEN ONLY A GIFT WITH A SMOKING, SUN-GLASSES WEARING LLAMA WILL SAY "I'M TOO CHEAP TO SHOP AT ZALE'S"
[Update: Stuck to the top of the page for a bit until we get a sidebar link up. Because nothing says "top-notch holiday gift ideas" like a couple of llamas in sunglasses on stuff. Scroll down for regular yips.]
Adam Smith rolls over in his grave...
The LLamabutchers Industries Store (Beta) has opened, featuring tastefully appointed fine goods picked from among our extensive staff of personal shoppers who travel the world to bring you only the finest t-shirts and coffee mugs.
All proceeds will go to charity, if by charity you mean the Rob and Steve DVD and computer game fund.
Yips! from Robbo: Woo Hoo! Let me just say, tho', that any purchase of the Llama Thong by Llama Correspondents or their immediate families is strictly verboten. I just don't think I could handle that.....
YIPS from Steve: New for the discriminating INDC Journal or Beautiful Atrocities reader on your gift list:
Kathy's hitting the cold medicine again
Leave the Nyquil blogging to the experts, Kath!
Putting up the garlands and tweaking the strings of lights
I'm going to be making some adjustments to the template this afternoon to do some Christmas decorating, so bear with me as I'll be doing so color-scheme tweaks, hopefully violating every rule of Robbo's now famous guide to tasteful Christmas decorating.
UPDATE: Somehow, I get the feeling I'm going to be getting a wee-bit of coal in my stocking at the LLamabutchers Industries Christmas party for the new holiday logo over at the right. Personally, I think my Nutcracker Prince outfit is to die for, but somehow Robbo's Sugar Plum Fairy bit comes out more in the Queen Mother/Barbara Bush vein.
Yips! from Robbo: Ya know, I was going to post about taking the Llama-ettes to see a production of The Nutcracker yesterday afternoon, but I think I'll just lay off that subject for now.
By the way, I sincerely hope Steve-O is doing his hoisting exercises, because his petard is soon gonna need 'em......
LET THE VOTE WHORING BEGIN!
Vote LLamabutchers as the best Culture/Gossip Blog in this year's Coveted Bloggies campaign.
If elected Best Culture Blog, we promise to increase production of seductive yet snarky hot French nooz babe Melissa Theuriau photoshops by 33%.
The Eleventh Commandment:
Since Steve-O and Robbo are M.I.A. (I blame the Scottish Dwarf) somebody has to announce that they're finalists in the Best Culture/Gossip Blog in this year's Weblog Awards.
It's The First Storm Of The Century Of The Week!
Run for your lives, Dee Cee!
... Snow Advisory remains in effect until 7 am EST Tuesday...
A Snow Advisory remains in effect until 7 am EST Tuesday.
Low pressure developing over the Gulf states will track
northeastward over the Carolinas this afternoon..and then well
east of the Delmarva tonight.
Light snow will develop this afternoon from south to north. The
heaviest snowfall will occur in a band during the evening
commute... and taper off soon after midnight.
Between 3 to 5 inches of snow is expected to fall across Metro
Washington into the Shenandoah Valley. Between 2 to 4 inches will
fall across Metro Baltimore. An inch or two is expected to fall
across the northern Shenandoah Valley and eastern West Virginia
Panhandle... including Winchester... Martinsburg... and Hagerstown
Let the panic commence!
UPDATE: Oh, speaking of the weather, I finally caught The Day After Tomorrow on HBO last nigh. All I can say is that I'm rather glad I didn't waste a Netflix pick on it.
NAVY CRUSHES ARMY, AGAIN
Navy crushed Army on Saturday for the fourth year in a row. Yours truly is a proud ROTC man and I wasted no time busting the chops of my executive officer, a member of the Long Gray Line (Class of '90).
December 04, 2005
Gratuitous Episcopal Fuming
This morning at church we were informed, among other things, that America's holding of prisoners at Gitmo is the same thing as the Roman Emperor Diocletian's rounding up and persecution of Christians back in St. Nicholas' time.
I'm about this close to just walking away.
Thought you'd like to know.
UPDATE: I was in a hurry earlier and only managed to get that one gripe out. Here were some other fun facts we learned:
-- That prostitution rings in Cambodia and the slave-trade in the Sudan are the direct result of American economic hegemony.
-- That George Bush, as the above parallel indicates, is engaged in building what he himself calls an "American Empire".
-- That 50% of all married women in this country are subject to some kind of spousal abuse. (I find this statistic preposterous unless "abuse" is defined so broadly as to include "occassionally getting snapped at".)
-- That the United States is in the grip of pandemic hyper-consumerism, which in turn is "inevitably linked" with unbridled militarism. (The rector didn't elaborate, but I gather he meant that we buy everybody's stuff and then we kill them.)
Even though our rector is a gen-u-ine Manhattan Lib, he's generally pretty good about keeping politics out of his sermons. But he sure let himself go this morning. This was followed by some aging hippy talking about the life and "meaning" of St. Nicholas during the adult forum afterwards.
December 03, 2005
ABC Sports hires a new football commentator
The Big 12 Championship game is going down to the wire....Colorado Buffalos are the beloved of Allah and will smote the infidel Longhorns....Texas, home of the Zionist Cowboy Blasphemer Booosh, is being defeated as we speak.........Long live the glorious Buffalos!
Meanwhile, in sunny California, Yew Cee Ell Ayyy is tearing a new one on behalf of the Holy of Holies upon the spoiled, pampered cowardly pig-dog sons of donkeys of USC....72 virgins each for every glorious member of the Bruin secondary....you are witnessing the great victory of the Ummah in the destruction of the arrogant Beach Boys listening surfer doooodes of Troy... this is the most glorious day for the restoration of the Caliphate as the pride of Southern California is brought low before the righteousness of the One God.
Actually, it would probably be a good idea to bring Baghdad Bob into the booth for Monday Night Football given the routs they've had this season.
*What was the actual margin? I lost track--it might as well have been 158-2. I've watched soccer games more compelling.
"Why, You Big......"
Well, I've been called a lot of things in my time, but never a Rhino's Backside.
YIPS from Steve: Actually, I'm taking it as a compliment as we are the Round Cut of the Rinos:
And since we can't be Melissa Theuriau 24/7
we have Gary the X-Donk has his weekly paen to the divine Diane Lane.
NOTE TO GARY: You need to create an archive link-line to add to the bottom of each of your Diane postings (ie "More Diane here here here etc.). It will increase our, ummm, satisfaction, all the while calling in a google strike on your own position. I mean, dude, you're not even on the first page for "Diane Lane homage", "I love Diane Lane", let alone for "Diane Lane hottie nekkid pictures", see "Melissa Theuriau naked" for comparison.
Hello, I'm Dr. Steve the LLamabutcher, and my vile evilness knows no boundaries!
It took awhile, but a steady application of Jedi Mind Trix have worked: you'll be pleased to know that long-time commentator, House Moonbat, wanted war-criminal to the Zebrafish American community, our olde pal LB Buddy has started his own blog Really Small Fish.
So head on over and let him savor the experience, and BE NICE----but if I were you, I'd definitely write your name in indelible ink on the tupperware, or you'll never see it again.
And don't bring Bacardi 151 as a bloghousewarming gift: for a rocket scientist, he's got an annoying habit of accidently lighting himself on fire while doing shots.
We luv the support of the Camelid American community
Goofy google punch up of the day:
I was quite relieved to discover that who ever dialed us up for that was thinking Platonically.
I finally watched Napoleon Dynamite last night, and was quite pleased with the prominent role Tina the LLama played.
Quiet Saturday Afternoon
It's the quiet between storms here at stately LLama Manor. We went to the bazaar at the kid's old school---the hippie crunchy Kraut School---which I dubbed in the past "The Bizarre Bazzar." Lots of things just right for decorating the home tastefully for Saturnalia, and the Tofu kabobs were to die for. Seriously, the kids had a great time making candles, wreaths, necklaces and assorted other crafts. In a bit, we're going to go back outside and put up the rest of the lights on the purple playhouse in the backyard. We stray a wee bit from Robbo's Calvinistic Rules of Yuletide Lawn Decorating----no giant inflatable nutcrackers (yet), but we have a now rather large former Christmas tree in the backyard that the kids named Stella Luna that we light up. This year we are in the process of completely covering the wee one's little playhouse---the icicle things along the eaves, as well as colorful strings along all the edges of the house, windows, and door.
There are many things The Dear One and I have worked out quite amicably over 11 years of marriage. The fact that I pulled the lever for Reagan and for Dubya twice, and that if she had her druthers Jerry Brown would be President we deal with quite fine. The fact that our tastes in entertainment have diverged notably we deal with quite fine. I could go on. But the single area we have never been able to fully, completely, and amicably address is the issue of Christmas lights: The Dear One is of the "The Only Good Christmas Light is a White One" faith, whereas the creed I affirm is "Colorful Lights is what gives Santa his Mojo." Like the two Koreas, we have reached a cold peace: inside the house, white lights reign supreme; outside the house, color rules. Every year, a string or two of colorful lights "accidently" gets on the tree, only to have to come off; while some really hopped up Meth Freak Squirrels chew through the power cord uniting the LLamabutcher Grand Illumination.
So I leave it to you, dear Readers, with the deontological question of Yuletide: white lights, or color?
Playing Second Fiddle To The Duke
I watched John Wayne's The War Wagon last evening. Not too bad a film, but I have to say this - there's something about Kirk Douglas that bugs me, although I can't quite figure out what it is. He seems to me to be, well, full of himself, as if every line he says is accompanied by the silent tag, "as performed by Kirk Douglas". (And yes, I realize Douglas' Lomax was supposed to be of a certain self-regard. But I get the same feeling from his Spartacus and everything else I've ever seen him in as well.)
You know that side-long look of contempt that Wayne sometimes gives another character, somebody being petty or evil or phoney? There were a couple of those between him and Douglas in this movie. Granted, they went along with Douglas' character, but I couldn't help wondering if there might have been a little real-life distaste behind them too.
Indeed, there was one great exchange that I loved because it seemed to let Wayne put Douglas in his place. They had just shot two bad guys. Douglas says, "Mine fell first." Wayne responds, "Mine was taller." Now this is exactly the kind of banter Wayne is famous for in other movies and with other partners. Most of the time, you can sense a certain warmth behind it. But I didn't get that here. Instead, it seemed just a little frosty
Heh. Of course, this all may just be my imagination projecting my tastes on to Wayne. Then again, it may not be. Those of you who are students of the Duke should feel free to either support or correct this impression if you like.
Now, if you want the exact opposite of this sort of thing, may I recommend again Wayne's El Dorado, made a year earlier? In particular, I would point out that Robert Mitchum comes across as the complete opposite of Douglas: workmanlike, solid and unpretentious, yet very effective in his role. And no questions asked about his toughness. I've an idea that Mitchum's Sheriff J.P. Harrah could take apart Douglas' Lomax any time, anywhere.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)
The Llama-ettes are off to a birthday party this afternoon, leaving yours truly to such manly domestic chores as cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry and changing the sheets. I though one of the benefits of being a dead European male troglodyte oppressor was that I got to sit around all afternoon with my pipe and martini, watching college ball and snapping my fingers at the Missus when I wanted something done around the house. Bloody swindle, this is. I want my money back.
As regular readers know, the Missus and I have a custom of cycling through the Llama-ettes with one-on-one Saturday morning breakfast outings whenever feasible. Gives us a chance to just have a little time to chat. Today was my turn with the five year old. Her fortes have always been independence and politeness, which means that she insists on ordering her own breakfast and frequently causes the waiter to do a double-take with her big smile and enthusiastic "Thank you very much!" Also, almost inevitably when I'm with her, neighboring tables start listening in on her banter. Today, the busboy came up to refill my cup and she said, "No, thank you! I'm not allowed to eat coffee!" Brought down the house.
It's nice that the Llama-ette is being so polite because, by Heaven, everybody else around here seems to have jettisoned their manners. The Crazy Season has o-ficially commenced. It took me ten minutes to navigate around all the people playing games of chicken over parking spaces in front of the diner. And the roads in town were not really any better, being as they were full of drivers pulling every kind of damn-fool stunt you could think of. I ask all of you: please be extra careful out there.
Gratuitous Comment Spammer Reply
Dear "Kyle", "Thomas", "Nathan", "Jonathan" and "Charles":
Go piss up a rope.
The Llama Butchers.
P.S. That goes for "Jose", "Anthony" and "Matthew" as well. Cheers!
Llama Holiday Decorating Tip
What is the latest European fashion in home decor for Christmas? How about spooky radioactive-looking glowing flowers.
"The market needs fresh ideas and innovation, and Glowing Flowers fit into the 'bling bling' trend," [FloraHolland BV] said, referring to a fad for wearing copious jewelry inspired by rap musicians.
"The expectation is that the light-giving products will be primarily well-received in southern and eastern Europe," it said.
(In fact, this strikes me as a rather snide dig at Mediterraneans and Slavs, but let it go.)
I dunno. Walking around a darkened room full of these things would make me think I'd stumbled into the Yule of the Damned.
December 02, 2005
Yeah, Something Like That
You're probably a little less weird these days - but even more talented!
Well, put it this way - I dressed for "Texas Pride" day in torn jeans and a t-shirt that read, "I'll Take New England Any Day". I studied a lot of Latin. In senior English, I wrote a spoof of Macbeth called "The Drunk of Dunsinane" and a panel discussion for the characters from The Lion in Winter. My teacher complimented my on how "dry" my wit was. And my senior year girlfriend turned out to be, em, certifiable.
You be the judge.
Yips! to fellow artiste Jordana.
Adding Insult To Injury - History Division
I've started in on Fred Anderson's Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. Insofar as one can form an opinion of a book after only 150 pages or so, I'd say it is excellent. However, Anderson's review of the strategic situation not just in North America but in Europe as well led me to a rather horrifying realization.
You see, the origins of the Seven Years' War lay in the jockeying between France and Britain for control of the Ohio River Valley, key to expansion of both their colonial territories. Matters first came to a head with the defeats of young George Washington and later General Edward Braddock in their attempts to seize control of the area around the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, a site on which the French built Ft. Duquesne and which later became Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, the Brits were eager to contain the war in North America and not have it spread back to Europe, having been on the losing end of several recent Continental dust-ups. To this end, they started messing about with their system of allies and eventually wound up in an alliance with Prussia, at the same time distancing themselves from their former ally Austria under the Empress Maria Theresa. Austria, in turn, wound up allying itself with its traditional enemy France. Among the fruits of this alliance was the marriage of Maria Theresa's daughter Marie-Antoinette to the French Dauphin, who later became Louis XVI.
Now I know that some of you have no problem with Antoinette-bashing, as she has (undeservedly IMHO) become a caricature of all that was wrong with the ancien regime. (Ironically, this was due largely to the French aristocrats themselves, who despised her for being Austrian and spread many, many poisonous rumors about her.) But whatever your feelings about the woman, I think you'd agree that losing her head over Pittsburgh just doesn't seem right.
Okay, I'm down with the whole "Bill Maher is a raving moonbat idjet" thing. But he can still be awfully funny. A sample:
Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn’t make you spiritual. It’s right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to “beef with broccoli.” The last time you did anything spiritual, you were hoping to goodness you weren’t pregnant. You’re not spiritual. You’re just high.
Many more in a similar vein. I almost stole all of 'em. Go on over to Margi's to check out the rest.
RIGHT WING BLOGGER SATIRE FULL EMPLOYMENT ACT IN THE WORKS
Please, Santa, I've been soooooooo good this year......
Yips! from Robbo - From the comments, it is perfectly obvious that here is a golden opportunity for Left and Right to bury the hatchet, join together in unity and harmony and so make a Better World. I say screw the satirical opportunities and DRAFT MELISSA!
"Bon Jour! Zees ees Cay Bay Ess, non?"
UPDATE DEUX: And of course, throwing Katie overboard means not having to deal with this crap.
COOL SCAM OF THE DAY
What do you say, Rob---should we go and totally disrupt this?
I'll be the one in the back row handing out "Bill Ardolino" cards.
Yips! from Robbo: Wish I'd-a thunk of that. Hey, whatever LaShawn is charging those guys, I'll undercut it!
Gratuitous Pop Culture Observation
I had to nip out just now to restock some pharmaceuticals. As I stood in line at the check-out, idly scanning the glossy tabloids, it occured to me that I really haven't the faintest idea who Jessica Simpson actually is.
Operation "Revenge On A Stick" Update
SOOPER SEKRET MESSAGE TO KATHY: The "package" has been delivered. Thanks muchly.
By doing this, I'm probably putting the permanent kybosh on any shot I had at the Federal Bench, but it'll be worth it. Besides, who wants to spend all day sitting around in a robe?
How can there be peace in the Middle East without SOMEONE winning the Nobel Prize?
WILL THE EVIL NEVER STOP????!?!?!?!
Your report displeases us, Mister Anderson Cooper....How does it feel to have your trachea crushed by the power of my mind?!
It's hilarious how the Rovester has become the Mad Monk Rasputin to the Whacked-out Left:
"If Karl Rove was writing the timing of this, he wouldn't have written it any differently, with the president of the United States expressing resolve and the Democratic leader offering surrender," Wittmann said, referring to Bush's top adviser. "For Republicans, this is manna from heaven."
BOOOOWAAHAHAHAHAAHAHA, Pelosi, вы будете моей сукой!
The LLamas, of course, know differently:
IS ONE OF THE SIGNS "DO YOU FIND YOURSELF IMPERSONATING A WISEACRE, SMOKING, SUN-GLASSES WEARING CAMELOID?"
I can quit anytime I want.
I'm still on the mend from my run-in with Mr. Sinus Infection, so rather than brave the snow flurries coming down in Dee Cee, I'm spending one more day resting up. And in the "Laughter Is The Best Cure" Dept., I invite you to go on over to Ace's place and check out the comments to his Cool Facts About Dick Cheney bleg-posting.
I don't think I have anything to add to the thread. However, long-time readers will recall that we do have a Cool Dick Cheney Thing About The Llamas entry insofar as his granddaughter was baptized at the same ceremony as the five year old Llama-ette (for whom Steve-O stood as Godfather), so all of us got to stand about the font with the man. I think that's pretty cool.
Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)
A commenter left remarks in response to my recent Christmas Celebration Diktat, specifically responding to my ranting about classical music as background noise, that I thought worth highlighting:
Just one minor factual error: Bach could have reasonably expected most of his audience to listen respectfully, since he primarily wrote church music, but Handel, well...back in the day, concerts weren't such formal, hush-hush affairs as they are now. Old Georg Friederic, along with Mozart, Haydn, etc. knew full well that most of their audience would spend as much of the performance socializing as they would listnening, and a good portion of their music was actually composed for use as background music, sort of like a band you might hire to play at a wedding reception. There wasn't too much actual respect for those guys in their time. Which is most likely part of the reason why once in a while they turned out such HUGE sounding things you can't ignore, like the Hallelujiah Chorus-to get people's ATTENTION. Sure the king was so moved that he stood for that section of the Messiah and set the ground for a tradition that lasts even now, but more likely than not when the tenor was crooning Ev'ry Valley earlier in the performance, his majesty was complaining to the queen about something he ate that didn't agree with him instead of listening.
All that to say, if you don't like well aged art music as background music, that's fine, but do know that it was, indeed, meant to be just that.
Well, yes and no. It's a perfectly valid point that concerts were much more casual affairs in those days, with lots of people coming in and out and chatting. It is also a perfectly valid point that composers did compose pieces that were meant specifically as background music. Handel's own "Water Music" and "Music for the Royal Fireworks" come to mind, as do many of the serenades and divertimenti of Mozart.
But I think it's a huge jump to suggest that all concert music of the 18th Century was written with the intention that it be treated as nothing more than background noise. While composers of the day knew that a given portion of their audience often would not be paying particularly close attention to their music, this doesn't mean that they were necessarily happy about it or that they put forth their efforts assuming they would be largely ignored. (Indeed, the famous "surpise" note in Haydn's Symphony No. 94 was a signal of Papa's good-natured impatience with the London crowd, for example.) Also, I think it's probably fair to say that varying levels of sophistication and enthusiasm existed among the different cultural centers of the time such as London, Paris and Vienna. Despite the presence of plenty of people who either didn't know or didn't care what they were listening to, nonetheless there would always be a body of listeners who cared very much what they were hearing.
As for the "Hallelujiah Chorus", I really don't see it as a "pay attention, you bastards!" stunt by Handel. Instead, it is the natural triumphant climax of the the entire oratorio: Christ's crowning as King of Heaven. So of course Handel threw everything he could into it. Indeed, the piece is very closely modelled on coronation anthems of the time (including those written by Handel himself), and the symbolism of the music would have been lost on nobody in the audience, especially King George - which probably explains in large part why he felt moved to rise to his feet.
(Just as an aside, I make a point of not standing up when I hear this in public concerts. In part, I think the custom is a silly one. More importantly, however, it's my own quiet form of protest of the Hanovarian usurpation of the throne of England. But that's a different story.)
"The Berenstain Bears Meet The Reaper"
John J. Miller has a column up this morning marking the recent death, at age 82, of Stan Berenstain, one half of the creative duo who brought us the seemingly interminable collection of Berenstain Bears children's books.
I've never much liked the BB's and I cringe inwardly every time one of the Llama-ettes asks me to read one of their stories to her. But unlike some people, I don't get especially worked up about the Dumb Ol' Dad/Wise Mom pattern. Instead, my dislike is based on aesthetic grounds: there's a cutesy, fubsy ickiness to the stories that makes my skin crawl. For instance, in one of the books, The Berenstain Bears Make It Fly, there's a series of horrible puns about famous fliers, such as "Wilbear and Orville Wright" and "Amelia Bearhart" that I point-blank refuse to read the way they're written.
Miller also relates a bit of parental editing that made me laugh, since the book he refers to is well known in our house:
Another title in my house is The Berenstain Bears Go Out for the Team. It’s about coping with the stress of baseball tryouts. I don’t like it nearly as much as The Bike Lesson: The all-prose writing is flat by comparison, there’s little humor, and one part pays homage to the nauseating pieties of political correctness. Brother expresses his ultimate nightmare: “The worst thing that can happen is if Sis makes the team and I don’t.” This is of course a very understandable fear for a young boy who competes constantly with his little sister over everything from parental attention to the daily backyard ballgame. So how does Sister respond? “I consider that a sexist remark!” she snaps.
First of all, kids don’t talk that way. Second, we shouldn’t want them to talk that way. Third, this is an authentic dilemma of boyhood and it can’t be papered over by feminist pabulum about boys and girls being no different from each other. At least Mother, overhearing this exchange, chimes in and defends her son: “After all, Brother is older than you and he’s very proud of his baseball ability.” Despite this ninth-inning save, I’ve never read Sister’s line to my kids exactly as it was written. The last thing I need is my kindergarten daughter asking, “Daddy, what’s sexism?”
Amen, brutha. Although I will say in Stan & Jan's defense that, at least in my experience, this is a very rare excursion into the world of what P.J. O'Rourke once called the "perennially indignant".
Arrh, and it gets even better because the release is part of a box set of classic Grant flicks, along with Only Angels Have Wings, Talk of the Town, The Awful Truth and His Girl Friday. (Tough luck, I suppose, if you already own one or more of these. But I don't. Yet.)
Yips! to Chan S.
December 01, 2005
Gratuitous Llama Sickbed Book Review
During my tete-a-tete with Mr. Sinus Infection the past couple days, I've been reading this book, picked up originally on the recommendation of the Pious Agnostic. It tells the story of the United States' dealings with the Barbary Coast pirates, specifically its efforts to gain the release of the crew of the U.S.S. Philadelphia, who were enslaved by the Pasha of Tripoli after she ran aground outside the harbor there. These efforts included negotiation, a show of naval force (including Stephen Decatur's heroic raid to burn the Philadelphia, which had floated free and been captured) and a covert operation by a handful of U.S. Marines under one William Eaton to march across the Libyan desert and attack the Pasha at Tripoli from behind, replacing him with his brother. (Hence the line in the Marine Corp
Song Hymn about the "shores of Tripoli".) [Ed. - I have never pretended to have served in the military in any capacity.]
It's a fascinating book, nicely chocked full of contemporary letters and journal entries. Nontheless, I think the author puts some spin on the story that isn't quite warranted. First, he trumps up the young United States' willingness to defy the Barbary pirates in comparison to Europe's craven acceptance of the various Arab beys' and pashas' demand for tribute, routine slave-trafficking and high-seas terrorism. I would point out that up until the beginning of the 19th Century, there probably was not a European navy strong enough to both take on the Muslims and fight off its own European rivals at the same time. It's true, of course, that by 1805, Great Britain was the maritime superpower and, with its forces concentrated, could easily have squashed the entire North African coast. However, at this point, the Brits were stretched to the absolute limit in blockading Napoleonic Europe and protecting their overseas interests. Furthermore, because there were no other bases available in the Med, Britain was dependent on humoring various pashas and beys for critical supplies to maintain her grip on Bonaparte. (This is nicely described in several of Patrick O'Brian's novels, including Treason's Harbor and The Ionian Mission.) Zacks dismisses all of this as "nationalistic rah-rah", which I don't think is a fair characterization. It is also to be noted that once the Napoleonic Wars were good and over, the Brits - along with other European forces - did stomp out the Barbary pirates, something Zacks is forced to admit at the end of the book.
Second, Zacks (and several of the dust-cover critics) site this story as a warning about the dangers of "covert ops", making little tsk, tsk noises about 20th Century CIA comparisons. But the book makes plain that the real fault for the bad side of the outcome (the Senate voted to ratify the treaty without even being aware of a critical secret clause, the American prisoners were ransomed needlessly, the Pasha was bought off and his brother - after committing himself on promises of U.S. military support - was hung out to dry) lies at the feet of appallingly bad diplomacy on the part of the U.S. agent, one Tobias Lear, and Jeffersonian fecklessness. Eaton's brilliant overland raid, coupled with a squadron of heavy frigates in Tripoli Harbor, put the United States in a position to demand Pasha Youssef's own liver had we wanted it. But Jefferson and his agents did not seem to appreciate the strength of such a position or else would not take the responsibility for such muscular diplomacy. Furthermore, they never accepted accountability for the actual fallout.
Indeed, in my opinion, the whole episode actually illustrates very well an old dictum of mine: there is nobody more dangerous to himself and everybody around him than a liberal with a gun. Fear and contempt breed lack of understanding and lack of understanding means you never know when or where the damned thing is going to go off. It also means that if something bad happens as a result, the liberal will usually blame the gun.
Yikes, I Am Bad!
take the WHAT BAD BOOK ARE YOU test.
Starring Vigo Mortensen, no doubt. With Special Guest Appearance by Madonna as Grendel's Mom. [Ed. Nope - looks like they thought of someone else.]
I have to confess that I really don't much like this saga - it haunted me all through my high school and college career, subtly chanting, "Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam!" until all I could say was, "Bloody Vikings!"
Yips! to Mr. Brian Baggins.
Bias? What Bias?
CNN has been running its reaction piece to Dubya's big Iraqi speech of yesterday: Poll: Most Doubt Bush Has A Plan For Iraqi Victory
Kinda makes the speech seem pretty, well, uncredible, don't it. Oh, except there's this little tidbit buried a couple grafs down:
The poll conducted Wednesday does not directly reflect how Americans are reacting to Bush's speech, because only 10 percent of the 606 adult Americans polled had seen it live and two-thirds had not even heard or read news coverage about it.
I suppose CNN had already spent hours typsetting the piece and felt they had to run with it regardless.
Nothing to see here. Nope. Move along.