January 31, 2006

Clouds In My Bloggy

Word Cloud.jpg

Lifted from Red, it's a word-cloud generator thingum.

Watch us now rocket to the top of google searches for "Naked Nelson".

Posted by Robert at 04:53 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Freedom of speech: use it or lose it

This has got everyone's shorts in a twist?

Good thing they never saw that movie where Richard Pryor was God, giving man the finger....

mohammad cartoons.jpeg

I mean, sure, if some of them involved underage goats or Kayne West (or underage goats AND Kayne West), but puh-leeze.

Posted by Steve at 03:31 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Bunyan Blogging

Sure. I'll try anything once.

Somebody googled in here looking for Pilgrim's Progress Musical. I was all set to do something snide and snappy on this idea when I noticed that damme if there isn't really such a show.

Well, perhaps it's because I was noodling over 1920's musical comedy this morning (see below), but I can't help wondering what Apollyon's Song must sound like:

Oh, I'm gonna STRA-dull!
Yes, straddle!
(I said straddle!)

Oh, I'm gonna STRA-dull!
The Waaaaaaaaaay!

Well, okay. Maybe it has some promise at that.

Posted by Robert at 02:34 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

By The Book

Virginia Postrel links to a WaPo article about the explosion in popularity of scrapbooking. The Missus happens to be a moderately fervent scrapbooker - we've got about half a dozen albums primarily documenting the Llama-ettes and various stockpiles of Creative Memories stuff. (While she regularly complains about being behind on her materials, no she does not go to scrap-meets.)

It strikes me that there is something vaguely supercilious about the tone of the piece, faintly condescending toward these legions of empty, deluded hausfraus who have nothing better to do with their time than construct false histories for their future consolation. I also think the piece perhaps over-analyzes the behavior patterns involved. Sometimes a family album is just a family album.

One thing that struck me as amusing was this bit:

"I jot down whatever is going on in our lives that month," said Jennifer Henson of Ashburn, a director with the company. "Then I'll do what a typical day is for us right now."

She'll take photos not just of her family but of the street, of the cars, of the gas station around the corner or else note the cost of a Big Mac. Including the ones she is working on, Henson estimated that she has about 100 scrapbooks.

Although some women suffer what they call "scrapper's block," others battle the opposite issue: They begin to see the world as a fine, double-page layout.

"It's so strange because you'll be out somewhere, and literally the title of the page will come into your head," said Sara Schermerhorn of McLean.

At a recent trip to the zoo, she kept seeing the title "Going Bananas!" hovering over her children. As many mothers have, she has taken her kids to a pumpkin patch, she said, because it would make a good layout.

Michelle McVaney, who runs Get Crafty, a scrapbooking retreat in West Virginia, said that some women wheel in suitcases of photos and crop for 24 hours straight, without sleep. It is easy, she said, to fall into an obsessive mindset, to believe that something is lost forever if it is not scrapbooked.

Now, after you're done tut-tutting, go back through that quote and substitute the word "blog" for the word "scrapbook" and ask yourself if you're really so very different.

Posted by Robert at 01:50 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

SO LONG SANDY (Some of us will certainly miss you!)(AND SOME OF US WON'T)

Justice Alito's confirmation this morning and his swearing-in this afternoon have ended the uninspiring jurisprudence of one Sandra Day O'Connor. SDOC was a baby-splitter who could not be counted upon to provide a consistent approach or analysis for the cases which came before her, be it abortion, affirmative action, etc. I wish her well in her retirement, made all the more burdensome by a husband with Alzheimer's, but I doubt many lower court judges or lawyers will miss her.

YIPS from Steve: Couldn't. Disagree. More. O'Connor was one of the greats of twentieth century America, history will show. Without a doubt.

MORE LMC YIPS: Sorry, Steve-O, it will not if it is written by lawyers who had to read her opinions or the lower court judges who had to follow them. SDOC will be remembered as the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court and for the occasional flash of brilliance. J.A. Crosan is probably the case that will stand the test of time but not much else.

SPITTING YIPS from Steve: I'd say that NY v. US from 93, and the federalism revolution it unleashed, has had a modicum of an impact. And her fingerprints on the Bush v. Gore per curiam opinion are important, even though my hunch on that I've gone on the record was that was Kennedy.

But this would make a good long bet: I'd wager $50 that ten years after her papers are opened fully to scholars, solidly done biographies done by legal scholars will place her in the top four justices nominated between 1950-2000 in terms of influence on the development of American law as a judge (and that the other three will be Warren, Brennan, and Rehnquist). Her papers---and when Rehnquist's papers are eventually opened, assuming there will be even limited public access--will tell a good tale on how the modern Supreme Court works, and how to build a coalition of 5. I don't think we fully appreciate the significance yet of the Court that passed today with O'Connor's official retirement. A contortionist who is able to consistently get 5 votes over time and push the law in a particular way (or prevent it from being pushed another way) accomplishes a heck of a lot more than the ideological purist who is the lonely dissenter or iconoclastic concurrer. And I also think her Kelo dissent will eventually become law, if not in the federal system certainly by a whole heck of a lot of state court systems disgusted with Stevens' blithe decision.

Any takers?

Flying into Phoenix last week, it struck me that there is a cool comparative biography to be written examining Barry Goldwater, William Rehnquist, and Sandra Day O'Connor (something like The Three Amigos from Arizona)(okay, the title is a joke but the sentiment is real).

sandra day oconnor.jpeg
EVEN MORE LMC YIPS I will take your bet, Steve-O. O'Connor may be remembered among the political science types who see the Court as a political institution and marvel at her ability to build a coalition of five votes. She is not known, and will not remembered, for her legal scholarship. Rather, she will be remembered for the confusion created for the lower courts--recall her 8th Amendment standard-"evolving standards of a maturing society"; the "undue burden" of her abortion jurisprudence, or the twenty-five year sunset she would impose on affirmative action--none of which have any basis in the intent of legislature or the Framers. A quarter-century from now, Scalia will be better remembered for his strong scholarship, the clarity of his opinions, and for the emphasis on original intent of the Framer and the legislator, rather than the policy preferences of the judge.

Posted by LMC at 01:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ladies and Gentlemen, the fighting midget Elvis tatoo

I think I need a Clorox pre-frontal enema to try to rinse this from my brain.

Thanks to Chai-Rista for this one. Personally, I haven't laughed quite as hard as I did while looking at the "Tramp Stamp" section than I have in a long, long time...

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

Justice Scalito

He's in.

Good thing I bought coat-hanger futures. To hear tell, I'll be able to retire by next week!

YIPS from Steve: Heh. And so begins the Great Fillibuster Purge of Oh-Six. Off with their heads!

MORE from the other Steve: Let the games begin.

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

Plum Blogging

I'm just finishing up a new-to-me P.G. Wodehouse novel, Jill the Reckless, published in 1921. I can only say that if you've never read Plum's stories before, for Heaven's sake don't start with this one. If you are familiar with his writing, you might be interested in it for academic reasons, but if you're like me you'll have a hard time enjoying it.

The genius of Wodehouse was that when in form he crafted his stories with such exquisite balance, such perfect timing and such snappy dialogue that they appear to be absolutely effortless. (Thinking about it, the same thing can be said of the music of Mozart.) Here, the fact of the matter is that Wodehouse was trying too hard and it shows - patches of dialogue that turn into long speeches, intra-scene emotional swings in characters that seem forced and an absence of the musical-comedy-without-the-music structure and sense of proportion that Wodehouse consciously aimed for. The story isn't really all that off. But compared to the perfection of so much else that Wodehouse wrote, its shortfalls are that much more glaring.

Furthermore, once one becomes aware of Wodehouse's effort, the magic is lost. Plum's plots depend tremendously on coincidence and comic timing. While we float along in the dream of one of his masterworks, we don't mind this - we simply accept it as another one of the delights of the story, laughing at each unexpected encounter and its resultant plot twists and not worrying about it. But when Plum starts pressing, as he does here, it becomes difficult if not impossible to maintain this critical state of suspended disbelief.

It doesn't strike me that the relative flatness of Jill the Reckless is simply the result of Wodehouse's youth and inexperience in novel writing at the time it was published - I thoroughly enjoy other books of the period such as Uneasy Money (1917) and Indiscretions of Archie (1921). Instead, I think it's the product of an uncharacteristic earnestness which permiates this book and does not sit well with Wodehouse's style. The story concerns a young woman, Jill Mariner, who owing to one of Fate's banana peels, falls on hard times and must pull herself back up, both romantically and financially. Most of the floaters seem to occur when Jill or somebody else is speaking of her inner circumstances, of what She Truly Needs in terms of her self respect and her relationships with others, as if Wodehouse was overly anxious that we get it. Interestingly, the only other time I've really been aware of this kind of earnestness in Plum's work is in another heroine-beats-the-odds story of the period, The Adventures of Sally. Why it appears that Wodehouse loses some of his touch when he chooses a heroine as the center of the story instead of a hero, I leave to the trick-cyclists.

One other point of note. Much of the action takes place behind the scenes of a musical comedy being produced in New York. Wodehouse himself was quite heavily involved as a theatrical writer at the time and he takes the opportunity to showcase his insider knowledge of (and cynicism about) the inner workings of Broadway. Furthermore, the main hero of the story, Wally Mason, is a Broadway librettist of some repute. Wodehouse describes him as large and rather homely, but kind, sincere, humorous and energetic. In all my reading of the Old Boy's books, I don't believe I've every come across such an obviously self-referential character.

So there you have Jill the Reckless. In my opinion, a book more interesting than entertaining.

Posted by Robert at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

CSI: Frostbite Falls - Update

Yesterday I noted that the eldest Llama-ette and her best friend were planning to investigate the demise of a squirrel in the friend's back yard.

When I picked her up last evening, the Llama-ette reported that the squirrel's body had vanished before she and her partner were able to examine it in detail, but that they had been able to make out a solitary track in a nearby patch of mud. By means of further research, the girls determined that the track was most likely that of a fox.

Based on these leads, police have issued the following suspect sketch:


If you see this suspect, say "Swiper, no swiping!" three times.

UPDATE: Welcome INDCent Bill fans! 'Cept I don't know what Bill means by "play with dead animals" - I expected her to bring the thing home and cook it fer supper!

[Cue banjo musical sting]

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

January 30, 2006

New Tasty Bits

Ya know, there's nothing quite so pleasant to me about blogging than seeing an unfamiliar site name show up in the sitemeter stats. Sorta like meeting new people - some of them may turn out to be nothing more than a "Hi, howareya". But there's always that possibility of an eventual Rick/Capt. Renault relationship.

With that in mind, I thought I might start doing a new regular feature: Llama-Noo-Too-Mee Blogs. And the inaugural sacrifice candidate? Chess and Lena.

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 11:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Go For It!

Cindy For Senate has a one-click on-line petition to get Mothern Sheehan to go after Diane Feinstein's senate seat.

Go and vote for her right now!

Yips! to the Sinner.

Posted by Robert at 05:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Well That Explains It

Our pal Chai-Rista links to a coo-el British Isles surname locator thingummy that pinpoints concentrations of one's family name on maps for both 1881 and 1998.

Well, being a Scot by extraction, I was interested to see that the heaviest concentrations of my clan appear to be located in the Western Isles (including the Isle of Islay) and along the Coast. This must be why I love Island Malts so much, including Laphroaig, which continues to stand at the pinnacle of my preferences. (BTW, two word review of the Oban I tried this weekend: Not bad.) Och, thet peaty taste is in me blood. Now move yer gargantuan cranium!

Posted by Robert at 05:41 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

The Interconnectedness of All Things

Here's how it works:

Earlier today, in comments to this post about Patrick O'Brian and Bernard Cornwell, the Random Penseur recommended that I might be interested in checking out the novels of Allan Mallinson, who writes a series of stories about the British Cavalry of the Napoleonic Era.

A little while ago, the Missus called and said that she'd ordered up a number of books for the Llama-ettes from Amazon, that they were in our account shopping cart and could I go ahead and buy them.

Asserting a kind of Daddy Surcharge, I included Mallinson's A Close Run Thing and A Regimental Affair on the list before pointing and clicking.

And thus harmonic convergence is achieved. Oommmmmmmmm.........

Of course, I'll let you know what I think of them. (The books, I mean. You already know what I think of the Llama-ettes.)

Posted by Robert at 05:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wellington Had His Playing Fields of Eton

Andrew Phelps, the RPG Dad has his playing fields of Hrothmarr the Doom-Walker:

Consider the following: You are awakened to the sound of a screaming child through the sound of a small speaker near your bed. “DADA!” she bellows. “PLAY CHOO CHOO!” Right away, you have a choice. Do you stay in bed, knowing that with each passing moment the frustration will build into a catastrophic meltdown of tears and screams? I didn’t think so! Out to face the world!

Ha! Prof. Phelps, you obviously haven't heard of my Level Six Secret Weapon: The "Helmet of Feigned Deafness". +12 points against all child demands.

Yips! to Dean.

Posted by Robert at 04:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Best Law-geek limmerick. Ever.

From the Volokh Conspiracy:

There once was a man from Nantucket Who bought sperm oil by the bucket, And tried to evade A contract he made But the court did not let him duck it.

Lady Adams’s arrival just might
Not have provoked such a fight
But the parties did wrestle
Over whether the vessel
Must be anchored or only in sight.

And yes, I linked that because I'm a law-geek, but also because of what fun having "sperm oil by the bucket" would do for us in the twisted universe of Google.

Posted by Steve at 03:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Malevolence

The Cell Citation. Designed for the LIRR, but would be just as useful on the Dee Cee Metro.

Yips! to Rachel.

Posted by Robert at 01:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Over at Wuzzadem:

condi hillary mudwrestling spat.jpeg

That, plus gaycowboypalooza.

WAIT, DON'T ORDER NOW: Check out the Gitmo 'Terro-gator--it actually works! (I used the Ned Grimley loop to drive away a number of students who wanted to come in for office hours).

Posted by Steve at 01:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Heh Khaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!!!


Okay, I started out this morning pleased with the idea of snuggling with Melissa.

What I didn't realize was that it was a trap and that I am now in Build-A-Bear hell.

UPDATE: (Echoing through the surface of the asteroid): Khaaaaaaaan!!!

UPDATE DEUX: (View of Khan's semi-orgasmic reaction):....aaaaaaaan!!!

Posted by Robert at 12:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review

An interesting choice of viewing this past weekend: The Draughtsman's Contract, a tale of lust, greed, intrigue and murder set amongst the gentry during the reign of William & Mary. This movie was recommended to me by one of you after I griped about what a dud Restoration turned out to be. Thanks, whoever it was!

Unlike Restoration, TDC is a genuine period piece, the sort of thing one used to see on Masterpiece Theatre all the time before it decided to get "relevant". The story starts when an arrogant young draughtsman agrees to draw twelve views of a country estate in exchange for twelve sexual favors from the wife of the owner of the place. I went into it thinking that this was going to be something along the lines of "Emmanuelle Does Dutch Billy", but it turns out to be nothing of the sort. Instead, it's a very crafty, difficult murder mystery that goes very deep into the motivations of the various characters involved. It is impossible to let yourself get lazy for an instant, as clues and insights are being batted about almost constantly. Furthermore, it never dumbs itself down. (For instance, part of the tension of the plot turns around Anglo-Dutch and Protestant-Catholic animosities in English society during the reign of W & M, but it never stops to explain them.)

Visually, it's a great movie if you like that sort of thing. The sets (on location in Kent) and costumes are terrific. The only thing I found annoying was the music. (No, it wasn't historically misplaced, but rather composed for the movie itself.) It was both dull and repetitive and soon got to be distracting from everything else.

The one thing I did not get about the film was Naked Statue Guy. If somebody else who has seen this film can explain to me who he was and what his significance might have been, I'd appreciate it.

UPDATE: A good explanation of Naked Statue Guy in the comments. Dunno why I've never come across this phenom before. Probably just as well, given my mime allergies.

Anyhoo, while poking for more information on living statues, I came across this site devoted to the films of Peter Greenaway, which has an interesting review of TDC and a better description of it than I have managed to produce:

The only Peter Greenaway film designed to specifically evoke a certain British time period, The Draughtsman's Contract appears on the surface like some twisted Restoration comedy filled with scheming aristocrats and clever turns of phrase. One of the most enthusiastically received and controversial feature debuts of the early '80s, this remained Greenaway's most high profile effort for eight years until The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover firmly secured his position in the art house pantheon. However, Draughtsman actually has much in common with his later work, ranging from the bizarre background details, such as a nude living statue, to the brutal, jarring twist ending.

At a gossipy dinner party, an arrogant young draughtsman, Mr. Neville (Anthony Higgins), is enlisted by the middle-aged Mrs. Herbert (Janet Suzman) to execute twelve drawings of the Herbert estate as a surprise gift for her loutish husband, who is usually away on business. In exchange, Mrs. Herbert will go along with Mr. Neville's sexual demands, once for each drawing. Mrs. Herbert's daughter (Anne-Louise Lambert) becomes more than a little intrigued by the arrangement and enters into a similar bargaining position with Neville, whose fussiness with the layout of each drawing compels him to chase sheep away from the scenery and demand passersby to wear the same clothing each day. However, some inconsistencies in the day to day arrangement of seemingly familiar objects, such as linen and open windows, cause Neville to wonder whether Mr. Herbert is actually away on business... or perhaps is no longer among the living.

As with many Greenaway films, all of the characters are more pieces of a diabolical mind puzzle than living, breathing human beings, bereft even of first names, and the cast gamely acts accordingly. As Neville, Higgins (also in Vampire Circus and Flavia the Heretic under the name Anthony Corlan) has one of his most memorable roles and finds the humor in an essentially repellent character. Without giving too much away, the various layers of the narrative may prove off-putting to viewers who expect to find some redeeming qualities unveiled at the end of the film; there will be no redemption or clever moralizing here. As a document of a historical period, Draughtsman is remarkably convincing, particularly considering its virutally nonexistent budget. The costumes, scenery, and stylish lighting manage to equal Barry Lyndon with a fraction of the resources, while Greenaway's intricate and biting script should keep English majors chortling with delight. Interestingly, his original festival cut of the film ran a full three hours and reportedly contained a number of crucial plot points and explanations which would up on the cutting room floor, including a rationale for the living statue. Unfortunately, this version has not been screened since 1982 and may have been lost forever (if it doesn't exist in one of Greenaway's vaults somewhere).

Emphasis added. So I suppose I'm not alone in not quite understanding how he fit into the plot.

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

This is just wrong

I've never even seen this show...

You scored as Babylon 5 (Babylon 5). The universe is erupting into war and your government picks the wrong side. How much worse could things get? It doesn�t matter, because no matter what you have your friends and you�ll do the right thing. In the end that will be all that matters. Now if only the Psi Cops would leave you alone.

Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Moya (Farscape)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Serenity (Firefly)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

The correct answer was "SG-1" but I think it was insufficient in my trust of the government.

Posted by Steve at 12:37 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

CSI: Frostbite Falls

I just received instructions to pick up the eldest Llama-ette from her friend's house this evening after school. Apparently, a squirrel met a rather grisly end there this weekend and our two sleuths are going to see if they can identify what did it in via footprints and so-forth.

If and when warrants are issued for Boris and Natasha, I'll let you know.

Posted by Robert at 12:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sooper-Sekret Message To Hamas:

Israeli Flag.jpg


Well, one of two things in gonna happen in Palestiniana. Either Hamas is going to grow up in a hell of a hurry or the Israelis are going to pound the living crap out of it.

UPDATE: The Crack Young Staff at the Hatemonger's Quarterly gets to root causes:

So who, you may or may not be asking yourself, is to blame for Hamas’ triumph? Why don’t we ask the Paper of Record? The J[anuary] 27 number of the Gray Lady offers a staff editorial that addresses this very question. Entitled “In the Mideast, a Giant Step Back,” the piece excoriates Mahmoud Abbas for his ineptitude and “Israeli hard-liners” for their irksome insistence on the existence of Israel.

Are we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” the only ones who note that The New York Times left some people out? How about those peaceable Palestinians, who seem to adore terrorism even more than Ray Nagin likes dark chocolate?

Ah, but we wouldn’t want to commit a cardinal sin among our left-wing pals. No, not “blaming the victim.” We’re referring to “treating Arabs like human beings.”

Posted by Robert at 12:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ask Agent Bedhead

Sadie with some sage advice for Jennifer Love Hewitt.

And yes, I think "Ask Agent Bedhead" needs to be a regular feature over there.

Posted by Steve at 11:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gosh, I HEART science

From the genius logic that gave us the atomic bomb:

That's because it's impossible to test people without their consent, he said. Subjects have to cooperate so fully _ holding the head still, and reading and responding to the questions, for example _ that they have to agree to the scan.

"It really doesn't read your mind if you don't want your mind to be read," he said. "If I were wrongly accused and this were available, I'd want my defense lawyer to help me get this."

So maybe the technology is better termed a "truth confirmer" than lie detector, he said.

..."My hope," George said, "would be that it might make the world operate a little bit more openly and honestly."

Which is what Torquemada was after too.

So, therefore, if you have nothing to hide why would you object to having your brain scanned to see if you're telling the truth, eh?

Posted by Steve at 10:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Where Was Robbo?

Numerous (really!) readers have emailed in this item:

Montgomery County, MD) -- A wayward llama was the focus of a police search in Montgomery County last night. Officers spotted the animal walking near Darnestown Road and Haddonfield Lane in the Darnestown area. A camera crew from WJLA-TV managed to roll some videotape as the speedy Llama darted back and forth across streets and lawns. Drivers in Darnestown are urged to be extra careful today with the Llama remaining at large. So far, no one has come forward to say they're the Llama owner.

I swear I had absolutely nothing to do with this! Why, why....I was sitting at home the whole evening! Yeah, that's the ticket! Sipping Scotch while designing rabbit IED's for my garden and reading up on the influence of Assyrian epic poets on the writings of P.G. Wodehouse. Or something.

BTW, I don't know why police are urging Montgomery County drivers to be extra careful. That would imply that they maintain some level of care to begin with, which we know is not the case.

Posted by Robert at 10:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Simpsons Bleg

I made the mistake of rubbing my eyes at exactly the wrong instant last evening. When Bart was writing lines on the chalk board, I only caught "...wasn't dumped - the feeling was mutual."

Who wasn't dumped?

Posted by Robert at 10:01 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 28, 2006

80's Babe Watch

Morgan Fairchild pegs Gary the Ex-Donk's crush meter. Gotta agree with Gary about her shelf-life, too. Fairchild appeared on stage in Dee Cee in some capacity not too long ago. I saw her picture in the local fishwrapper and immediately thought, "Wow."

Posted by Robert at 12:45 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Napoleonic Apples and Oranges

The Missus gave me a couple of new Richard Sharpe books this wee - Sharpe's Trafalgar and Sharpe's Regiment.

I can't help noticing that Sharpe's Trafalgar contains a plug on the cover from The Economist that reads "The direct heir to Patrick O'Brian".

Pardon me, but this is complete rubbish. Bernard Cornwell is certainly an entertaining author, but O'Brian's novels rise to the level of what people like to call "liddashur" whereas Cornwell's simply don't. Indeed, his writing is much closer to C.S. Forester's Hornblower series if comparisons must be made.

Still going to enjoy reading them, tho.

Posted by Robert at 12:36 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


The Navy's last two H-3 Sea Kings made their final flight yesterday over Norfolk before heading out to the "bone yard" in the Arizona desert. Know to generations of sailors, the H-3 was a big, reliable utility helicopter that performed a number of roles, including search and rescue and anti-submarine warfare. The sound of its engines always remind me of the pools on the naval air station where I worked as a teenager. I was lucky enough to be on the interstate when the pair made a wide slow turn over downtown yesterday morning on their way to Chambers Field.

Posted by LMC at 09:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


This weekend's feature: Kristen Miller. Claim to fame: big lips, nice face. Starred in Single White Female 2: The Psycho which has joined the selection on Entertainment on Demand. (It must have gone straight to DVD.) Sorry Kristen, but you are no Bridget Fonda.

Posted by LMC at 12:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm....

The Blue and Orange lines on the Metro were all backed up this evening owing to the need for what Metro called a "tunnel inspection" near McPherson Square. In fact, just as I got down to the platform at Metro Center, they were throwing everybody off an Orange line train and taking it out of service.

I'm no civic engineer, but I'm guessing that routine maintenance checks are not normally scheduled for the height of rush hour.

The Metro announcer was good enough at one point to say that the inspection results turned out "negative", but I don't recall him saying this more than once.

Wonder what exactly they were inspecting for.

Posted by Robert at 07:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Let Your Fingers Do The Humming

It's the Song Tapper. Tap out whatever is running through your head on the spacebar and the program attempts to ID it for you.

"Three Blind Mice", it got.

"The Key to Her Ferrari", not so much.

Still, pretty impressive.

Yips! to Jonah.

Posted by Robert at 05:07 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Book Review

White Savage.jpg

I'm just finishing up White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America by Fintan O'Toole. Johnson was the principal Crown Agent for Indian Affairs in the Northern Colonies during and after the French and Indian War and was crucial in maintaining good relations between the British and the Iroquois Confederacy, without which the British could never have defeated the French and their own Indian allies.

I'm hoping Steve-O will weigh in on this subject a) because I know he read this book recently (indeed, it was his geek-posting that put me on to it), and b) because he's a ringer on the topic.

In general, I found the book quite informative. However, I must say that I am not fond of history as psycho-analysis. Too often, the author is apt to confuse what his subject was thinking and feeling (or at least as much of it as can be known from the historical record) with what the subject might have been thinking and feeling. And once into the realm of conjecture, I think the author runs the danger of projecting his own thoughts and feelings onto his subject.

Here, O'Toole tries very, very hard to link Johnson's affinity for the Iroquois, who are rapidly being overrun by British colonists, with his own roots in a British-conquered Ireland of suppressed Catholicism and smoldering Jacobite resentment, coupled with a Gaelic mysticism paralleling the Indians' concept of spirituality. (He also swallows the Noble Savage view of the Indians hook, line and sinker.) How much of this is O'Toole's own apparent romanticism leaking through, I really could not say, but I have my suspicions. And while I don't doubt his more straight-forward factual presentations and even his political analysis, I'm not sure that I buy his exercises in mind-reading.

UPDATE: On the other hand, I think O'Toole's concluding chapter about how authors such as James Fenimore Cooper transmogrified Johnson's life into a mythic image of the young American Republic - a mixture of European blood and Indian virtue (the so-called "White Savage" of the title), is spot on. (I believe O'Toole is some kind of literary critic, so he seems to be on safer ground here.)

Posted by Robert at 04:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good For What Ails Ye

For my birthday, the Missus gave me a bottle of Oban 14 year old, a single malt I've never tried. Brian B. recently reviewed this label and has a report. Being an Islay fan, I am especially encouraged by the suggestion that this malt has a peatiness about it.

What better way to spend the evening than giving it a try while listening to some Mozart?

By the way, big Llama Yips! to Brian on his son's first birthday! Cheers!

Posted by Robert at 03:19 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

That's My Church!

Mark Tooley writes at the Weekly Standard about the short-lived tee vee series The Book of Daniel (a sort of Desperate Housewives Go To Seminary ) and asks:

Sleeping around. Homosexuality. Thievery. Ecclesial chaos. Abuse of prescription drugs. Lots of people with more money than common sense. Is this what the U.S. Episcopal Church really looks like?

Although Tooley spends the bulk of his article refuting it, the answer to this question is, "Well, pretty much." However, Tooley correctly nails a couple of howlers in the show:

But the funniest aspect of the Book of Daniel is the portrayal of Daniel as a rebel confronting a conservative church hierarchy. Daniel nervously postpones telling his stuffy father, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal church, about his homosexual son. In fact, real-life Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, an enthusiastic supporter of his denomination's first openly homosexual bishop, would probably warmly embrace a gay grandson.

After Daniel delivers an especially liberal sermon dismissing the threat of temptation, an angry Bishop Beatrice (played by Ellen Burstyn) warns him to be careful. "Canterbury" (as in the Anglican Archbishop of) is "spanking" the American church for getting too theologically loose, she threatens. In real life, of course, it is not the relatively liberal Archbishop of Canterbury who has been chastising the U.S. Episcopal Church, but rather the orthodox Anglican bishops of the Global South--especially Africa.

Unlike the fictional Bishop Beatrice, the real-life Episcopal bishop of Connecticut is acting punitively against six of his priests for their attempts to protest against their denomination's liberal policies. A truly provocative program about the Episcopal Church might showcase one of these orthodox priests trying to stand against the liberal church hierarchy. Perhaps that would be too edgy.

Indeed. Oh, and Tooley picks off another one:

There is another detail in Book of Daniel which rings untrue: Daniel's church is packed with people every Sunday. The Episcopal Church is actually dwindling in size, a decline accelerated by recent controversies over sex and theology.

If you want to know, the Church leadership continues to believe that this decline is due to the Church not being "welcoming" enough and therefore that even greater effort must be made to stomp out anything that would interfere with the ultimate goal of "inclusiveness". What they refuse to accept is that it is this very process and the resulting "anything goes" spirit - both from a theological and a social standpoint - that are the very causes of the Church's decline.

For some time now, the question of jumping has to me not been so much one of "if" as "when" (as well as "Where to?"). I still don't know the answers.

Posted by Robert at 02:25 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack


You scored as Serenity (Firefly). You like to live your own way and don't enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Serenity (Firefly)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Moya (Farscape)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
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Yeah, because all of you regular readers know what an anti-Establishmentarian I really am.

Yips! to fellow Browncoat, Brian B.

UPDATE: Correction duly noted. Got thinking on Kaylee and got distracted, I suppose.

Posted by Robert at 01:47 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Melissa Watch

[Crispin Glover voice on]

Hey, you! Get yer goddam hands off of her!

[Crispin Glover voice off]

Posted by Robert at 12:28 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Gangerl!


Yes, today is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart. As you might imagine, A.C. Douglas, Terry Teachout and Jessica Duchen all have link-rich posts up marking the day.

Evidently, the Llama-ettes' music teacher has been prepping them for the event because since last night they have all been singing at the top of their lungs what might be called (to borrow from Peter Schickele) "Eine Kleine Nichtmusik".

I have to admit that I am of two or more minds about the whole celebratory business. On the one hand, I of course want to mark the milestone anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest composers. On the other hand, I can't stand the idolization of the man, the transmografication of his life into some kind of semi-mythical romantic tragedy, the worship of every single scrap of music he ever put out and, this being a consumer-driven age, the tons and tons of pure kitsch being flogged. On the third hand, however, I have no sympathy for those critics who, sickened by the excesses of all this (or perhaps just naturally malevolent), react seemingly by trying to tear down Mozart completely. Eh. In the end, what might be best is to simply ignore the hoo-ha and just enjoy the music.

Speaking of which (and speaking of anniversaries), I meant to mention that yesterday was the anniversary of the first performance of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte in Vienna in 1790. This opera is the closest Mozart ever wrote to pure comedy of manners, being a story of love, trickery and seduction among a pair of well-to-do couples in Naples. It has often been dismissed as too artificial, too lightweight, or (to 19th Century German sensibilities) too naughty. I happen to think this criticism is misplaced. I also happen to think it overlooks the opera's chief strength: There are only six characters altogether, three men and three women. Through their various pairings, Mozart produces some of the most beautiful polyphony imaginable- duets, trios, quartets, quintets and sextets.

I used to have a cassette box set of this opera performed by the Drottingholm Court Theatre, a period instrument group conducted by Arnold Ostman, which I thought one of the most delightful recordings I'd ever heard. While Ostman seems rather too dry for both Don Giovanni and Figaro, the size of his orchestra's sound was perfect for the more intimate scale of Cosi. In poking around, I noticed that a DVD is about to be released of an Ostman stage performance from about the same period, although the cast seems to be different from those of the cassette version I had. Needless to say, though, I look forward to seeing this. (In case you're wondering, I have the J.E. Gardiner video. It's a decent performance, although the audience is a bit of a distraction and I think it takes the cast a fair bit of the first act to warm up.)

Speaking of which, I'm going to throw out a bleg: Years ago, say in the late 80's, I saw an absolutely hysterical made-for-tee vee English performance of Cosi. Not only was it incredibly funny, it was also beautifully sung and very professionally produced. I've an idea that it was a U.K. production of some sort, and I almost think that Anthony Rolfe Johnson might have sung Ferrando, but I'm simply not sure. Does this ring a bell with anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

UPDATE: As long as we're on the subject of composers of the Classic period, somebody googled in here looking for "Haydn Birthdate". Checking the results, I came across this biographical page. I only link it because the audio accompanying the text is the first movement of one of Haydn's D Major piano sonatas that I happened to study years ago - and still play on occassion. Given how much Mozart loved and respected Haydn and his music, I'm sure he won't mind the inclusion.


UPDATE TROIS: Dad emails in:

...I have had the radio on all morning celebrating M's birthday and it is amazing how much truly pedestrian music Mozart wrote and not necessarily when he was ten years old. This is not to take away from his genius. All composers wrote mediocre (or worse!) music and everyone recognizes this, except for a group of fanatics who seem to feel M never made a mistake. It does reinforce the concept of your critic who pointed to the Mozart "cult" who worship every note he wrote. Some of this music even I have not heard until today, and for good reason!

I agree. I'm not trying to rain on anybody's parade, but mindless adulation actually does a disservice by detracting from the value of that part of Mozart's work that truly does deserve all the superlatives of which one could think. We don't admire Mozart's masterpieces because they're Mozart's, we admire Mozart because he's the guy who wrote them. Too much of the celebratory hoo-ha I've seen fails to remember this.

Posted by Robert at 11:23 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

Who Are You?

You scored as The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker). The Fourth Doctor is your favourite, as well as being the longest running Doctor. Was it was his eccentric wit or Leela in a skimpy costume that swayed your judgement?

The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker)


The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davidson)


The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker)


The Ninth Doctor (Christoper Eccleston)


The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann)


The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton)


The First Doctor (William Hartnell)


The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee)


The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)


Which Doctor Who are you?
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Well, Leela, yeah. I mean, yeah. I mean nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more. But let's not forget Romana, squire. A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat. Nowhatimean? Eh?

(UPDATE: That's Romana II, of course.)

Yips! to Sixth Doctor Rex Ferric.

Posted by Robert at 04:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

It's the Wonder of Nature, Baybee!

Really Small Fish? Meet Really Small Fish.

Convergent evolution punchline:

This is one of the strangest fish that I've seen in my whole career,' said Ralf Britz, zoologist at the Natural History Museum in London [ ].

"It's tiny, it lives in acid and it has these bizarre grasping fins.


Sooper Sekret Message to Dr. Britz: Just keep it away from Fribbles, is all I'm saying.

Posted by Robert at 02:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Drudge links to an NYT editorial calling for a filibuster of the Alito nomination. It is time to bring this business of judicial filibusters to an end by going nuclear.

Posted by LMC at 02:43 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Bono, a shark, and a ski-boat

Notice the loving attention to detail as Bono, "wearing his trademark wrap-around shades", straps on water skis and the waist-belt life preserver.

Posted by Steve at 02:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

Opera Man.jpg

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolutions has a post up comparing recordings of Mozart's Don Giovanni, arguably the greatest opera every written period.

The only recording I own at the moment is the one by J.E. Gardiner that he mentions approvingly.

Among the others he lists, I note the Georg Solti recording from 2000 with Bryn Terfel and Renee Fleming. I grew up on a box cassette set of Solti's first recording of the piece, with Bernd Weikl and Lucia Popp. I must say, I've never had a problem with Solti's being too muscular for the music.

Just by way of experimenting, I happen to have a video version of Don Giovanni lined up in my Netflix queue, with the Gurzenich Orchestra conducted by James Conlon and featuring Thomas Allen in the starring role. I know absolutely nothing about this performance other than the fact that Peter Sellars doesn't have anything to do with it which, for me, is a promising start. I'll let you know what I think.

In fact, I recently went through Netflix's classical music category on something of an operatic binge. Aside from Don Giovanni, I also tossed these flixs into the queue:

- A 2002 recording of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo with Le Concert des Nations. (I've got the old 70's Nikolas Harnicourt films of all three of Monteverdi's great operas.)

- Solti's 1987 recording with the Royal Opera of Mozart's Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail.

- A 2004 performance of Jean-Baptiste Lully's Persee, originally written for Louis XIV.

- An old 1974 film of Rossini's Barber of Seville by Claudio Abbado, which I immediately cancelled when I remembered I already had a tape version of it.

What, you say? No Verdi? No Wagner? No Puccini? Nope - can't stand 19th Century opera.

As usual, I'll write reviews of these whether you want to read them or not.

Yips! to Lemuel.

Posted by Robert at 01:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Is NOTHING SACRED to you people?!?!?

magnum pi ferrari.jpeg

Magnum, P.I..

The Movie.

Without Tom Selleck.

Pardon me while I go drown my sorrows in a bottle of Testor's model airplane glue.

Posted by Steve at 12:04 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

An open letter to Canada

From the Crack Young Staff at the Hatemongers Quarterly.

Warning: features intense mockery of Celine Dion, Rick Moranis, and Loverboy.

And DO NOT read it while drinking Barq's Root Beer, unless you want to spring for a new screen.

Anybody know where I can get a new screen, fast?

DISCUSS AMONGST YOURSELVES WHILE I'M GONE: Why is Barq's Root Beer so darn tasty?

Yips! from Robbo: I'm going to issue a partial dissent on this one. Rick Moranis? The Keymaster who nails Sigourney Weaver? One half of the Mackenzie Brothers? Take off, eh.

Posted by Steve at 12:01 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Look like the CIA/NSA/Gestapo/Halliburton/telemarketers of Death's carefully crafted sinister plan of signing up anti-AmeriKKKan opponents who dare to speak truth to the power of Hitler S. McChimp's sinister plans by taking out subscriptions to Hustler in their names to get them in trouble with Mrs. Anti-American Activist has finally been exposed!

Posted by Steve at 11:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


X-Donk has the goods on the whole Joel Stein "I Heart Treason" story, including Hugh Hewitt "grilling Stein like a porterhouse steak."

I would have said it was more like a nice shitake mushroom kabob, but the point is valid.

X-TRA SPECIAL X-DONK TASTY BITS: Wouldn't it be cool if we could trade Chuck Hagel for Joe Lieberman? Running Raging Joe out of the Democratic Party is insane, but I think we can definitely find a place in the big tent for some Joe-mentum.

Posted by Steve at 11:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cool business opportunity

Looks like I could possibly make money on my dissertation after all.

Posted by Steve at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Not-So-Big 4-1

Well, today happens to be my 41st birthday. Feeling at a loss for words about it, I checked the Tasty Bits Archives to see what I wrote about turning 40 last year. It all still seems pretty much applicable, except that I don't believe I've actually been carded by anybody this year. I reckon it'll probably be the same way for the next few years. I might have something to say when I hit 45 and more probably when I crack 50.

So there you are. I just don't get that excited - too busy with everything else to think on it too much.

Not so the Llama-ettes, however. Theyre all keyed up to help Mom fix a roast beef dinner for me tonight, with strawberry shortcake for dessert. They also claim that they are all planning to give me the appropriate number of birthday kisses. At 41 kisses per Llama-ette, I reckon that comes out to 123 altogether. Gonna be a looong evening, especially if they're slacking on brushing their teeth again.

I had the following conversation with the almost-eight year old this morning:

She: Daddy, what would you like for your birthday?

Self: What I'd like is for all of you girls to be very, very good.

She: Daddy! That's what you say all the time!

Self: You're right. What I'd really, really like is not to have to say it any more. So how about listening?

She: Nrrrrrgh!

I rank that wish right up there with the pony I never got from my parents. But a guy can dream.

Posted by Robert at 10:23 AM | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Mars, Meet Venus

The Missus' activity last evening? Neighborhood book club discussion of My Sister's Keeper.

Mine? John Wayne's The Cowboys.

Just thought I'd mention it.

YIPS from Steve: There's a Uranus joke in there somewhere, I'm just too lazy and jaded to pluck it.

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

January 25, 2006


Found orbiting a red dwarf star.

Posted by LMC at 04:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo?

Sorry for the light posting today. Domestic duty requirements. The four year old pointed at our logo just now and said, "Hey! Those llamas have clothes on. They're supposed to be naked!"

Back later.

Posted by Robert at 01:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo?

Sorry for the light posting today. Domestic duty requirements. The four year old pointed at our logo just now and said, "Hey! Those llamas have clothes on. They're supposed to be naked!"

Back later.

Posted by Robert at 01:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 24, 2006

The Indigo Girls

Edu-queen Joanne Jacobs posts on a vaguely scientology-like theory about so-called Indigo Children, who apparently are here to save the world from war and pollution.

The idea that some children have an indigo aura and supernatural talents started in 1982 and was popularized by Indigo Children by Lee Carroll and Jan Tober. The Contra Costa Times reports:

Carroll and Tober define Indigos as "restless, fearless" individuals who "believe in themselves ... have difficulty with absolute authority," and "often see better ways of doing things, at home and in school." They are in every country, on every continent, the authors say, and only a clairvoyant can see their auras.

Carroll and Tober recommend that Indigo children attend private schools that focus on individual needs, such as Montessori or Waldorf schools.

"Often see better ways of doing things, at home and in school." Hmmmm. Sounds an awful lot like the Llama-ettes to me, although I would have used the expression "pig-headed".

Fortunately, all three of them do attend school at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, so if in the future they really do use their purple auras, or whatever, to save the planet from itself, you can thank me.

On the other hand, they seem to fail the Is Your Child Indigo test rather badly, so maybe they really are just full of themselves.

Posted by Robert at 04:58 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

That's Our Boy!

Congrats go out to long time comment scold LB Buddy, whose own moonbat mad scientist blog Really Small Fish has achieved the top Google Search ranking for Korean Cloning for Dummies.

We couldn't be more proud.

Posted by Robert at 03:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Historickal Trivia


Today is the anniversary of the patenting of Eskimo Pie by Christian K. Nelson in 1922. Here is a piece of serious historical geekery about the pie's origins. It starts out wam and fuzzy enough:

Christian K. Nelson was born on March 12, 1893, in Gunstrup, Denmark, to Pedar Nelson and Margerethe Madesen Nelson. While Nelson was an infant, the seven Nelson children and their parents emigrated to the United States. The dairy farming family settled in Illinois, Wisconsin, and finally in Iowa in 1903. In Onawa, Iowa, Nelson opened a small confectionary shop near the high school where he worked as a teacher.

The inspiration for the invention of Eskimo Pie was a boy's indecision in Nelson's confectionary store in 1920. A boy started to buy ice cream, then changed his mind and bought a chocolate bar. Nelson inquired as to why he did not buy both. The boy replied, "Sure I know-I want 'em both, but I only got a nickel." For weeks after the incident, Nelson worked around the clock experimenting with different methods of sticking melted chocolate to frozen ice cream until he found cocoa butter to be the perfect adherent.

Immediately, he produced 500 ice cream bricks with a chocolate candy coating. The "I-Scream Bars" were a hit at the local village fireman's picnic and Nelson began searching for companies to manufacture his new product.

Not long after, Nelson teamed up with Russell Stover (of chocolate fame). The pair renamed the treat "Eskimo Pie" and began marketing it on a franchise basis. Nelson never became the Eskimo Pie King, however - Stover sold out, Nelson lost the patent, and their company was bought up by United States Foil. Nonetheless, Nelson seems to have tagged along on Eskimo Pie's corporate journey, continuing his work as an ice cream innovator with it right up until 1961.

I don't have much of a sweet tooth at all any more, but when I was a kid, I shore did like these things.

By the way, can one say "Eskimo Pie" anymore? Or is that un-P.C.?

UPDATE: Hmmm...This site gives the history of the name:

The word Eskimo is not an Eskimo word. It means "eaters of raw meat" and was used by the Algonquin Indians of eastern Canada for these hardy neighbors who wore animal-skin clothing and were adept hunters. The name became commonly employed by European explorers and now is generally used, even by Eskimo. Their own term for themselves is Inuit (the Yupik variant is Yuit), which means the "real people."

As I understand it from what I've read (Lewis & Clark and the like), this follows the pattern of a number of Indian tribe names that became common among European explorers and have entered the standard lexicon. The explorers ask a tribe with whom they had made contact about their neighbors. Naturally, the tribe would use its own name for such neighbors. Often enough, however, the first tribe's name for the second tribe would translate into something like, "Those bastards across the mountain who steal our horses all the time." I believe that in recent years there has been something of a push to do away with the use of more derogatory common tribal names. "Eskimo" is probably okay, unless you're a PETA member.

Posted by Robert at 02:32 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Mecha-Streisand Gets Results?

Joel Stein has a "why I don't support the troops" bit in the LA Times that is getting batted around the blogsphere. As Ace points out, although the column is filled with the most horrid venom, at least the guy is honest about it.

But what struck me was this: Isn't this the same LA Times editorial page that, by dumping Robert Scheer and adding Jonah Goldberg, got Babwa Streisand in such a snit a couple months back that she huffily cancelled her subscription? Let's go to the videotape:

In light of the obvious step away from the principals of journalistic integrity, which would dictate that journalists be journalists, editors be editors and accountants be accountants, I am now forced to carefully reconsider which sources can be trusted to provide me with accurate, unbiased news and forthright opinions. Your new columnist, Jonah Goldberg, will not be one of those sources.

Robert Scheer's column, with its often singular voice of dissent and groundbreaking expositional content, has been among the most notable features that have sustained my interest in subscribing to the LA Times for many years now. Apparently, previous leadership at the LA Times had no trouble recognizing Mr. Scheer's journalistic prowess in that they nominated him for the Pulitzer Prize.

My greatest fear is that the underlying reason for Mr. Scheer's termination is part of a larger trend toward the corporatization of our media, a trend that we, as American citizens, must fervently battle for the sake of our swiftly diminishing free press.

Behold the power of Babs! Far from being assimilated into the Vast Right Wing Corporate Conspiracy, it looks as if the Times has heeded Funny Girl's advice and is still sending in the clowns.


Posted by Robert at 01:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Da, Baybee!

The Llamas are the No. 3 result for the Google search "Cosmonaut shaggin'".

[Insert your own "Soyuz it or lose it, tovarish!" joke here.]

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

Only at Beautiful Atrocities

Buttwatch comes to a, ummm, climax.

Pakistani cricket blogging--really.

No wonder Jeff's been flagged as a Hate Site (TM).

Posted by Steve at 12:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

AKA Steve the LLamabutcher

Now I've got this going for me:

According to the Red Book of Westmarch, In Middle-earth, Stephen [LLamabutcher] was a World-famous Breelander

Elven Name Possibilities for Stephen [LLamabutcher]
The root name suitable for feminine and masculine is:
Another masculine version is:
More feminine versions are:

Hobbit lad name for Stephen [LLamabutcher]
Aldagrim Gold from Waymeet
Hobbit lass name for [LLamabutcher]
Esmerelda Gold from Waymeet

Dwarven Name for [LLamabutcher]
Bombur Iceylegs
This name is for both genders.

Orkish Name for [LLamabutcher]
Gorkűl the Insane
This name is for both genders.

Adűnaic name for [LLamabutcher]

Bombur Iceylegs signing off and heading to the hot tub.

THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR: That would make my Dwarf Pimp name be "Deacon Dr. Bombur Flow"

Insert your pshop of Gimli in a Superfly hat and rings here.

Yips! from Robbo:

According to the Red Book of Westmarch, In Middle-earth, Robert the Llama Butcher was a Beautiful Bird-tamer

Elven Name Possibilities for Robert the Llama Butcher
The root name suitable for feminine and masculine is:
Another masculine version is:
More feminine versions are:

Hobbit lad name for Robert the Llama Butcher
Isengrim Burrows from Stock
Hobbit lass name for Robert the Llama Butcher
Rosa Burrows from Stock

Dwarven Name for Robert the Llama Butcher
Tarin Brickarms
This name is for both genders.

Orkish Name for Robert the Llama Butcher
Nazdug the Squasher
This name is for both genders.

Adűnaic name for Robert the Llama Butcher

What the hell is a "beautiful bird-tamer"? Radagast in drag?

But my Elvish root name suddenly got me channelling Python: "Welease Worwath!"

So many voices, so little room in my head.....

Posted by Steve at 11:32 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sooper Sekret Message To Sadie And Phin

Looks to me like Apothegem Designs may have another potential client.

Posted by Robert at 09:43 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Survivor: Danbury

I think the next great American reality tee-vee show is about to be born. The good thing, from the network's perspective, is that it should be guarenteed a nice run, approximately five to seven years with potential time off for good behavior.

Posted by Steve at 08:36 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 23, 2006

Some things are just wrong

I'm a big believer in Natural Law. Take your pick---Lockeian/Jeffersonian, Thomistic, John Finnis' post Nurenberg loosey-goosey variety---I think the idea just works. Not as much with the Natural Rights business, mind you, rather more with the idea of Natural Wrongs. Some things just violate the very fabric of space/time, undermining like madcap dwarves on a meth bender the very foundation of society.

We are, apparently, responsible for one such crime against humanity. Because, according to Google--the world's largest search engine--we are #1 on the internets for:

llama emoticons

Just no.


This is almost worse than the concept of llama emoticons:

More than a decade after 16-year-old Amy Fisher had a sexual relationship with a much-older car mechanic and shot his wife in the face, the one-time "Long Island Lolita" and Joey and Mary Jo Buttafuoco have agreed to appear together in a televised reunion.

All three have signed on for the appearance, which has yet to be sold to a network, television producer David Krieff told the New York Post for Monday editions.

"It's time to just put it behind us," Fisher, now 31, told the newspaper. "We played this all out in a public eye. It'd be interesting to let the public see the healing process at the end. They saw everything else why not let them see the final product?"

Fisher spent seven years in prison.

Joey Buttafuoco, who was jailed for statutory rape following the 1992 shooting, said he planned to ask Fisher to explain her actions.

"I've been asked about a million times by Mary Jo, `Why did Amy shoot me?' I was never able to get that answer," said Buttafuoco, now 49.

"There's going to be a lot of shocking revelations, and that's why I'm excited to sit down to do this," he said.

The Buttafuocos moved to California and divorced in 2003. Mary Jo, who remains partially paralyzed from the shooting, is engaged.

Joey Buttafuoco, who has remarried, was sentenced in March 2004 to a year in jail and five years' probation after pleading guilty to felony insurance fraud. In August, he pleaded not guilty to charges that he violated probation by possessing ammunition

Alan Bloom, call your agent.

Posted by Steve at 08:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Mozart Posting


Fred Bauman has an interesting piece on Mozart in the Weekly Standard, examining the ways in which we hear Mozart in this day and age. His discussion of operatic characters caught my attention in particular:

[L]istening to Mozart calls to mind (and in some ways turns you into) a certain kind of person, a more complicated sort than we mostly go in for today. Not a redemptive Wagnerian hero or cynical slacker, not a high-minded virtuoso of compassion and/or righteous indignation, not a "realist" or an "idealist," but someone who both acknowledges, lives in, accepts the viewpoint of, and participates in, all human feelings--even the ugly ones, as we see in the marvelous revenge arias given to the Count, Dr. Bartolo, and Figaro--but who also, in the end, maintains as sovereign the viewpoint of rationality and order. (That is why, in their own ways, all three of those arias are come-dic, even the Count's, which is also partly genuinely scary.)

In invoking, and to some degree creating, such a person, Mozart implicitly makes a kind of moral case, a case for how we should live. It is not "aesthetic" in the sense of replacing the moral with formal beauty; it is much closer to what we find in Shakespeare's Tempest or Measure for Measure; i.e., models of a kind of control of the passions that gives them their due. Yet it is presented aesthetically, not through argument or exhortation.

In The Magic Flute, an opera whose Masonic libretto the Freemason Mozart took very seriously (as did Goethe, who wrote a sequel), Mozart made thematic the creation of such a person. He is the magus Sarastro, and he is what Tamino, the young hero-in-training (and, in her way, Pamina, the heroine), is supposed to become. Unlike the Queen of the Night, who gives way to her passion for justice to the extent of becoming monstrously unjust, and unlike the slave Monostatos, who chooses sides according to his odds of being able to force sex with Pamina, Tamino learns to be able to feel it all and still control it, to play the flute, in the image of the allegory, and not have it play him.

In the end, the romantic hero and the homo economicus turn out to be not basically different, but two sides of the same forged coin. The Mozartean hero, whom we approach, admire, and even learn to resemble, if only slightly, puts them to shame.

This isn't just music critic navel-gazing. I believe I've recommended before a book by Nicholas Till called Mozart and the Enlightenment. Till documents the fact that both Leopold and Wolfgang were enthusiastic students of the Enlightenment and kept fairly extensive libraries of both classical and the latest philosophical tracts and treatises, the better to take their place among the rising new class of educated bourgeioses. He notes (persuasively, to me) how each of Mozart's operas was informed by these ideas and describes the theme running through them of "the bourgeois vision of a well-regulated life steering a balanced path between the extremes of stoic self-denial or conformist obedience, and excessive license, pursuing the search for an ideal humanity combining morality and sensuous enjoyment."

Posted by Robert at 05:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Okay, Not Everything about the 70's Was All That Bad....

Cranky links to a post at Subterfuge celebrating the heyday of the game show. I have to confess that I used to love some of these shows, particularly Match Game with Gene Rayburn. Subterfuge includes a picture of Brett Somers, one of the anchor celebs on the show. I never had the faintest idea who she was and it is indeed only today that I learn she was Jack Klugman's wife for a while. (Cue Quincy impersonation: What kind of a crummy actress would do something like this?) But I distinctly remember her spats with Charles Nelson Reilly.

Subterfuge also links to a mega-compendium of game shows, past and present.

Speaking of which, I also came across a site dedicated to British game shows and found an old favorite called Treasure Hunt, that I used to watch all the time when I lived in London. Ah, yes, the days of jump-suited helicopter chick Anneka Rice........ (No, she's no Melissa. But then who is?)

Posted by Robert at 03:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Battlestar Galactica Geekery

Man, Ace goes on vacation and the place goes to hell.

Repeat after me, five times a day: "There is no Commandar Adama but Lorne Greene, and Starbuck is a dude."

Yips! from Robbo: Before you new BSG fanatics break out the torches and pitchforks, I'd like to point out a) that Steve-O started this and b) no, I didn't put him up to it.

Nonetheless, I agree. And I'll add that nobody can be the Legendary Commander Cain except Lloyd Bridges. So thpppppppth!!!

Posted by Steve at 03:14 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Mother. Of. Gawd.

The Mayor of Shaker Heights, Ohio, joins the ranks of the Nanny Staters:

Following a health trend that appears to be brewing up all over the nation, Mayor Judith Rawson has signed a proclamation for the City of Shaker Heights that addresses the issues regarding caffeine intoxication and dependency.

In the proclamation the Mayor is "calling upon all Shaker Heights citizens, public and private institutions, business and schools to increase awareness and understanding of the consequences of caffeine consumption."

The proclamation also spells out many dangers of caffeine abuse such as heart disease, pancreas and bladder cancer, hypoglycemia, and central nervous system disorders. By getting the word out about the serious dangers of caffeine, Mayor Rawson hopes to prevent a substance that can "pose a significant hazard to health and longevity."

City of Shaker Heights is one of several cities across the country recognizing this annual event. This will be the third year for this event which is sponsored by the Caffeine Awareness Alliance, a non-profit organization. Marina Kushner, founder, states, "Each year more and more people are waking up to the real truth about the dangers of this ubiquitous drug. We are delighted that the mayor has recognized that this is not a laughing matter." Prior years have seen ways of celebrating this event ranging from educational events in school to even picketing outside coffee houses,

No, it's not a laughing matter, Ms. Kushner. You go to hell. The only way you'll get my coffee cup is when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.

Yips! to Ith.

Posted by Robert at 02:26 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

The choice is yours

Since some of the LLamas valued readers, I won't name* any names, didn't seem real happy with the angelic Melissa Theuriau gracing their monitors the LLama Butchers "Web Log" now features skinning.

You may now pick your poison, will you go for the LLamas Go Gangsta skin or the Theuriau Lusters skin.

Either way the choice is yours. Just get to selecting the skin of your choice over in the right hand column, under the get some skin heading. Just try to keep the audible Orgling to a minimum would ya?

* I will give you a hint to help you figure out his name. It starts with a C and ends with ranky.

Posted by phin at 01:55 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


Margi's got the first pic of her new baby boy up.

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

Strolling down memory lane

Macktabulous librarian extraordinare Chai-Rista is running Tasty Bits from her 1975 juvenile angst-ridden diary.

BTW, Chai-Rista and Pep were just voted "cutest couple on campus." Just thought you'd like to know.

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

CJ Craig sleeps with da fishes

NBC puts the West Wing out of its misery.

President Santos I guess will have to preside over puppy heaven.

Wunderkraut, guest blogging over at Ace, swarms on the corpse:

How do we know that the evil Diebold voting machines used by the NBC executives who voted to cancel this show actually counted the votes? How do we know that Dick Cheney did not hack into the computer to change the results?

I'm hoping for the final show of a nice RethugliKKKan mob storming the gates of the White House and burning C.J. Craig at the stake for being a witch, only to be saved at the last moment by Sam Seaborn descending from heaven with a fire extinguisher and a big can of liberal whuppass.

I mean, it would be priceless.

More Saint C.J. mockery later.

Posted by Steve at 11:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

You Call These Playoffs?

The first chance I get to actually sit down and watch some football all season and what happens? A pair of lopsided routs. Jeez. I got so bored with the Seahawks game that I flipped over to a show about dinosaurs on Animal Planet instead.

(Here's a piece of trivia: I'm well aware of the theory that a comet was responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs some sixty five million years ago. What I didn't know is that apparently there have been several such life-altering celestial strikes. Kind of gives you the creeps when you think about it.)

Anyhoo, I hope the Super Bowl is a lot better. And just out of conference loyalty, gonna have to go with the Steelers, even though I wanted the Broncos to beat them.

Posted by Robert at 09:44 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observations

Ran right into half a dozen bus loads of anti-Roe protesters this morning. While I am generally sympathetic to their cause, I'm not so much so that I didn't wish the lot of them to the devil for clogging up the damned sidewalk.


Posted by Robert at 09:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 22, 2006

Flat on my back

Didn't sleep worth a damn last night. Mr. Small has an ear infection (just back from the doctor, soon off to the pharmacy). Woke up in an exceptionally cranky mood---what rest my brain did have was marinating in work-related stress I fear.

Blah and double blah.

Posted by Steve at 01:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sobek on Osama

Why didn't we think of THIS piece of genius?

Posted by Steve at 01:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

U.S. Navy seizes...wait for it....wait for it....a pirate ship!

Avast ye mateys!

Needless to say, it was the USS Winston Churchill that did it.

The USS Jimmy Carter was in the area, but decided to convene a multinational study group headed up by the Dalai Lama and featuring Johnny Depp on the impropriety of western "orientalist" constructs of "piracy" in a manner disparaging to culture and society on the Barbary Coast in the early American Republic. A full apology for Jefferson's illegal actions against what was characterized in the racist AmeriKKKan press as the Barbary "pirates" is expected upon the conclusion of the Carter study, sometime in 2009, after meetings to study the problem in San Juan, Honolulu, Majoraca, and St. Kitts. Kojo Anan will be the staff director.

UPDATE: Chief Mojo is on the same Barbary wavelength.

Posted by Steve at 01:08 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 21, 2006

Taking the blog 3-D

Gordo the Cranky Neo-con, hacker/flash media mogul extraordinare, is apparently going to make us an animated version of the banner above.

Just to warn you gentle souls out there who happened upon this blog in innocent pursuit for knowledge of early Tennessean farming techniques.

Posted by Steve at 09:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

LLama Entymology Moment: sorting the chum from the chaff

Isn't the proper phrase buck naked, not butt naked?

That's what I thought.

Clearly, the person who visited us after googling up "Seahawks cheerleaders butt naked" needs to review his, errrm, Dr. Johnson.

One word for THIS visitor: gross.

But he (and I assume with a search like that it's GOT to be a he) was coming from AOL, so that would explain a lot. Maybe it's the same guy who dialed us up looking for "pron stars." It's not just baseball that's a game of inches, people!

This one makes no sense: why would someone even need the internets to look up "why Chuck Norris kicks ass"? Why would that even be in doubt?

Unless it's Old Chuck himself, doing a little ego-surfin' Walker, Texas Ranger style.

If that's true, than the honor alone is enough to make me retire.

But THIS certainly should---we've got fans in Bosnia. Or, maybe not fans, but stalkers. Depending on what

" Lamky... Mislim da Butcherian Vibe ima ozbiljnog konkurenta u progresu...

(then they have our Thanksiving logo featuring Robbo as Priscilla Alden and me as Squanto)

Ovo svet i metal_ama josh nisu videli!!!

http://llamabutchers.mu.nu/ - KLIK

Ne znam, ali chini mi se da su ovo neke brzine jache od brzine svetlosti...

means. Any clue?

FEAR NOT, as not all is juvenile sex puns around here: we are also #10 on google for

pioneering days of Tennessee farm families ranging from early farm tools and equipment to household goods and machines

So, in the immortal words of looper-extraordinare Carl Spackler, we've got THAT going for us.

Posted by Steve at 08:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Ex-Donk has his Saturday 80s Crush Tribute (TM) up for Elisabeth Shue.

Great Googlie Mooglie.

For some reason, he's got the Crushometer only at a 9.

SOOPER SEKRIT MESSAGE TO GARY: Dude, ours goes to eleven...

For some odd reason, though, he doesn't discuss the greatest Elisabeth Shue movie of them all, one which by the sheer force of her acting as a ditzy, goofy, bubbly nuclear physicist Dr. Emma Watson goes into the Truly Bad Films Hall of Fame: The Saint.

Which leads to the next question: Elisabeth Shue, Mira Sorvino, Mary-Louise Parker, or Mary Stuart Masterson?

Answer in the form of an essay using at least three references from the assigned reading. And don't say I didn't warn you this would be on the final exam!

Posted by Steve at 10:01 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 20, 2006

Happy Blogirthday, Rusty

There's a reason why we call him Macktastic Rusty Wicked.

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

It's a cruel, cruel, world...

Cruelest post title. EVER.

Posted by Steve at 06:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Best of the Web linked to this article. John Walker Lindh's father wants clemency for his son who was a gentle soul on a "spiritual journey". Young Johnny's "spiritual journey", subsidized by his parents, lead him to take up arms against his country. CIA Officer Mike Spahn is unavailable for comment.

Posted by LMC at 05:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo?

Contrary to what you may suspect, I have not been sitting staring at our Melissa banner all day, eyes the size of soup plates, tongue hanging south of my Adam's apple and a veritable Lake Michigan of drool collecting in my lap.

Instead, I've been industriously engaged on yet another round of painting for She Who Must Be Obeyed the woman I really love. If you're interested, I finished touching up the Missus' study and the dining room and put everything (pictures, furniture, etc.) back where it is supposed to be. I also got around to finishing off the French doors into our little dressing hall and only have to scrape the excess paint off the glass once it dries and vacuum it up.

After this, I think I've built up enough cred that I can take a break for a while before I have to start in on the next set of projects the Missus has in mind. My only concern is that if I don't get the weekly paint fume fix I've become used to lately, I might have some serious withdrawal reaction.

Posted by Robert at 04:27 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

And now the fun begins

Word on the street that Margi has a bouncing baby boy, and that everyone is okey-dokey.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Yips! from Robbo: Yip! Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Steve at 03:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dissenting opinions

The Tasty Bits Mail Sack (TM) is akimbo today with reader feadback over our new Melissa Theuriau friendly banner that Phineas---the genius sidekick over at Apothegm Designs--whipped up for us.

And yes, I wrote that sentence to get "Melissa Theuriau" and "whipped up" in the same posting.

Anyhoo, Kath has got some pretty rather, umm, strong opinions on the issue.

SOOPER SEKRIT NOTE TO KATH: Yes, we are like the chimps staring up at the monolith in 2001---but if not for the ability to dream, what are we save insignificant cock-AH-row-chez on this dusty rock hurtling through space and time?

Posted by Steve at 03:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Boy, do we ever get the weird ones

Someone came to us today after googling us up for:

picture of juliet huddy feet

The most powerful research tool in human history, at the hands of chimps.

I'm reminded of that old Dave Barry thing about proving how Star Trek could never happen, and item #1 was that guys on the Enterprise would break into sick bay and steal the thingee that Dr. Crusher would use to heal bones and close up wounds to seal up someone's butt while they were sleeping.

BTW we're #4 for that search. Excuse me while I go and update my c.v.

Posted by Steve at 03:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Wedding pics galore

Our old pal Jen has a whole kit and kaboodle of wedding pics up.


Posted by Steve at 02:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lazy blog scavenger hunt

Six Meat Buffet is cooking up what could become a new Friday tradition.

Posted by Steve at 12:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hail to the Chief

Gary the Ex-Donk is commemorating another Ex-Donk who became president 25 years ago.

Now I'm feeling old. We didn't have school that day, and two things stuck in mind very clearly: the first was the hostages arriving in Germany, and the second was that Gen. Omar Bradley, quite elderly, was at the luncheon in the capitol right after the swearing in.

reagan 1st inaug.jpeg

Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O'Neill, Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens: To a few of us here today, this is a solemn and most momentous occasion; and yet, in the history of our Nation, it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle. 1
Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a united people pledged to maintaining a political system which guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other, and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining the continuity which is the bulwark of our Republic. 2
The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people. 3
Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, causing human misery and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity. 4
But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades, we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals. 5
You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we are not bound by that same limitation? 6
We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding—we are going to begin to act, beginning today. 7
The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom. 8
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. 9
From time to time, we have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price. 10
We hear much of special interest groups. Our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and our factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we are sick—professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truckdrivers. They are, in short, "We the people," this breed called Americans. 11
Well, this administration's objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunity for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this "new beginning" and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America at peace with itself and the world. 12
So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed. 13
It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the Federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the States or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the Federal Government did not create the States; the States created the Federal Government. 14
Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it is not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work—work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it. 15
If we look to the answer as to why, for so many years, we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here, in this land, we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay that price. 16
It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we are too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We are not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope. 17
We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we are in a time when there are no heroes just don't know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter—and they are on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They are individuals and families whose taxes support the Government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet but deep. Their values sustain our national life. 18
I have used the words "they" and "their" in speaking of these heroes. I could say "you" and "your" because I am addressing the heroes of whom I speak—you, the citizens of this blessed land. Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God. 19
We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen, and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they are sick, and provide opportunities to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory? 20
Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic "yes." To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I have just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world's strongest economy. 21
In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government. Progress may be slow—measured in inches and feet, not miles—but we will progress. Is it time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles, there will be no compromise. 22
On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph Warren, President of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans, "Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of.... On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves." 23
Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children and our children's children. 24
And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom. 25
To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale. 26
As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it—now or ever. 27
Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength. 28
Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors. 29
I am told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day, and for that I am deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inauguration Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer. 30
This is the first time in history that this ceremony has been held, as you have been told, on this West Front of the Capitol. Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this city's special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand. 31
Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man: George Washington, Father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence. 32
And then beyond the Reflecting Pool the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln. 33
Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery with its row on row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom. 34
Each one of those markers is a monument to the kinds of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam. 35
Under one such marker lies a young man—Martin Treptow—who left his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire. 36
We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, "My Pledge," he had written these words: "America must win this war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone." 37
The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together, with God's help, we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. 38
And, after all, why shouldn't we believe that? We are Americans. God bless you, and thank you.

Posted by Steve at 12:52 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Not that we need an excuse to talk about lesbian bar-fighting NFL cheerleaders

This just over the transom from Loyal Reader Pep:

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A former Carolina Panthers cheerleader received six months probation after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and obstructing a police officer for her role in a restaurant bathroom brawl.

Angela Keathly, 26, entered her plea Wednesday. The Nov. 6 fight broke
out after women in line to use the bathroom accused Keathly and fellow
cheerleader Victoria Renee Thomas of hogging a stall to have sex.

Members of the Topcats cheer squad had come to Florida to watch the
Panthers play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Panthers fired the pair.

Thomas, who has denied the sex allegations, has pleaded not guilty to
giving a false name to a police officer, battery and unlawful display
of a license. The giving a false name charge is a felony; the other
two charges are misdemeanors.

Thomas is being sued by a bar patron who claims Thomas punched her.

Your humble LLamas: #6 and7 on Google for "NFL lesbian bar-fighting cheerleaders"

Posted by Steve at 01:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

We're the LLamabutchers, and we're in deep-doo-doo

What with Father Justice's new program to blitz Google for who is providing the content material designed to melt the polish of John Ashcroft's toenails, I think we're in trouble, what with our being #5 on Google for

llama mating

Phin, will you come and visit us in Leavenworth?

UPDATE: I will say this: thanks to Google World Map, it's easy to break this stuff down, and by far our downright weirdest searches come from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Posted by Steve at 11:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Pardon the disturbance, as a monkey just flew out of my butt

College hoops shocker:

UVA 72
UNC 68

Baseball shocker:

Theo's back in Boston.

Pardon me while I go play "My United States of Whatever."

Posted by Steve at 11:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


You realize, of course, that as long as we have this banner atop the Llama masthead, I have absolutely no reason whatsoever to visit anybody else's blog.

I have seen the Promised Land, Beavis.....and it is good.

YIPS from Steve: It's the berets that make it work for me. They're so damn jaunty, it's killing me.

Posted by Robert at 11:11 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

CBS News And The Chance Of A Lifetime

CBS reportedly is seeking "an outsider" to fill its prime noozanchor spot.

"I think having one person as your primary anchor is the way to go," [Sean] McManus said. He confirmed that the new anchor would come from outside of the existing CBS News stable and that he and CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves are eyeing a "relatively" short list of candidates.



For once in your corporate life, we're begging you - Do the Right Thing!

(For c.v. and all other Things Melissa, go here.)



10. The chance to see Katie Couric have nervous breakdown on national television.

9. Alan Greenspan might stick around at the Fed for a few more years in hope that she'll interview him.

8. Satisfaction of knowing the French have no one left but Jerry Lewis.

7. Aggressive coverage of next hurricane sure to be augmented by "wet anchor" feature.

6. No need for CBS to waste money on expensive fact-checking because, let's face it, who the hell's gonna care?

5. Because even, "Iran nuked Tel Aviv today," sounds marginally better when spoken in a sultry French accent.

4. Instead of muttering "courage" or some other silly catch-phrase at end of broadcast, she'll just blow kiss.

3. During each sweeps period, promise to do at least one Sharon Stone-style leg crossing.

2. New promotional slogan: CBS - The Other Fox News.

1. "Zat storee may be fake, but zeez aren't!"

YIPS from Steve: Screw Porkbusters and their goody-goody squeaky clean government crap---we need to get NZ Bear to let us list the "Theuriau Lusters" group.

This engagement will not stand!

Posted by Robert at 03:10 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Green-Eyed Posting

Charles Downey at Ionarts gets a great birthday present. (SOOPER SEKRET MESSAGE TO MOM: Remember that my birthday is a week from today. Screw the shirts and ties - if you give me one of these, I'll even waive my long-standing request for a pony.)

I've only got to play a harpsichord once. Back in high school, I teamed up with a flautist for a recital performance of one of Handel's recorder sonatas. I prepared the piece on a piano, but the college recital hall where we performed had a rickety old harpsichord up on stage. My music teacher couldn't come up with any good reason why I shouldn't do so, so I performed the piece on it after some very hasty rehearsal. Even in my addled youth, I could immediately appreciate the differences in keyboard technique.

Every now and again I've thought of buying a kit and building one myself, but reason quickly prevails: I'm working on a model Baltimore Clipper down in my basement fortress of solitude and am still not done planking the hull even after fiddling with it for eight months. If I tried something on the scale of a harpsichord, I might get to play it once before keeling over of old age.

Come to think of it, however, that wouldn't be a bad way to go.

Yips! to A.C. Douglas.

Posted by Robert at 01:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Potentially More Explosive Than The Missouri Compromise

The Feds step in to try and quell the animosities brewing between the Centrals and the Easterns over Indiana's Great Timezone Rift.

I doubt this will work. Stand by for reports of border raids against local bank time n' temp displays.


William Clarke Quantrill - early advocate of Daylight Savings Time

Posted by Robert at 11:23 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


There seems to be some media play about the upcoming release of the Barrett Report, the result of an Independent Counsel's investigation into whether former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros lied about his taxes, including information about payments to his former mistress. Apparently, the report will be very critical of the Clinton Administration for attempting to stonewall Barrett's investigation for fear of the political blowback it might have caused to Bubba and Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham.

Frankly, I'm not all that interested in any of this. But the resurfacing of Cisneros' name always awakens an old sadness for me.

You see, I was living in San Antonio when Cisneros was elected mayor in 1981. In a city that was politically split along racial lines, the amount of popular support he garnered was remarkable. The Hispanics loved him because he was, well, Hispanic, the first Hispanic elected mayor of a major city. The Anglos trusted him because he was a Harvard man, smart and articulate, and had real vision for shaking the city out of its backwater cowtown mentality. Virtually everybody in the city had the highest hopes for him and even then there was talk of how far he could potentially go in national politics.

So when his character flaws finally could no longer be hidden, the general sentiment of the place might almost have been described as heart-broken. (For those of you who don't know the story, Cisneros started catting around on his wife. The local press knew all about it for quite some time but kept quiet. However, as Cisneros' excuses for making runs to his mistress's place got more and more outlandish, they finally felt they had to say something. If memory serves, what broke the camel's back was that Mrs. C had to be hospitalized for some reason or another. Cisneros would claim he was going to visit her and then scoot over to his girlfriend's. After that, it all came out - the cheating, the money, the lying. Such a shame.)

On top of the actual cheating, what pained people was Cisneros' apparent inability to grasp the reality of what was going on. We used to go to a popular restaurant in town called Paisano's. It was run by a guy named Joe Cosniak. (To be known by Joe Paisano was something of a social step in those days.) The story I heard at the time was that Cisneros would call Joe, saying he wanted to bring his girlfriend over for a meal and was there anybody there who would know him. Joe, exasperated, would reply, "You're the mayor. Everybody knows you."

So you see, when I see stories like this surfacing again, it just reminds me of what might have been.


Posted by Robert at 10:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Getting Aquaman the Props he deserves

aquaman.gif hall of justice.jpeg

Who's laughing now, you Krypton Freak? Hey Bruce---nice turtleneck. Got any moisturizer on that Utility Belt?

I always hated as a kid how Superman and Batman would treat Aquaman as the bitch of the Justice League: "Someone needs to get Marvin to ballet lessons? Hey Aquaman, here's the keys to the Batmobile--and while you're out why don't you get it detailed? There's a boy!" or, "Wendy's got caught hooking again and needs to make bail? Aquaman, get your bitch ass over here right now and bail her out!" or, "I'm sorry, Aquaman, but we're trading you to Marvel Comics for a carton of Luckies."

But this story about human ears evolving from fish gills should change all that.

Posted by Steve at 10:01 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

What? No Comfy Chair For Me?

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.



Chalcedon compliant


























Are you a heretic?
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I seem to have scooted through with my orthodoxy intact. How about one poke with the soft cushion, just for the hell of it?

Yips! to the Maximum Heretical Leader and the not-destined-for-the-stake Brian B.

YIPS from Steve: What, no special category for "I believe Dan Brown that Jesus was in fact a lesbian, and this was the sooper sekrit the Templars died from Vatican persecution to protect?

Not surpisingly, my score has me burned at the stake early on:

You scored as Pelagianism. You are a Pelagian. You reject ideas about man's fallen human nature and believe that as a result we are able to fully obey God. You are the first Briton to contribute significantly to Christian thought, but you're still excommunicated in 417.



Chalcedon compliant


























Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.com
Posted by Robert at 09:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

"Clip 'n rip" Mea Culpas

Those thoughtful members of the Crack Young Staff at the HMQ have decided to get inside Pat Robertson's decision curve and already issue in advance apologies for his impending, yet to happen, disgraceful boners and gaffes.

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

Feeling flat

Feeling completely flat today: not down, certainly not up, not tired, not energetic, definitely not interested.

I applied for a big fellowship, and the interviews for them are today and tomorrow. I applied two years ago and was a finalist, but this time, nada. (Robbo and LB Buddy---it was at the place where we were at the reception last March, at least Rob would've been there but you were out of town on bidness).


Some things aren't meant to be, I guess (and if I had gotten it, it would have been prestige city, but with a significant negative impact on the family, plus I would have had to stay about a million miles away from the LLamabutchers). However, I think this serves as a good marker for the end of "Phase 1" of the career and the beginning of "Phase 2." More later.

UPDATE: I think an afternoon matinee of "King Kong" is in order.

And maybe I'll even have a Fresca.

UPDATE DEUX: Could be worse: could be Hasselhoff.

Posted by Steve at 09:41 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 18, 2006

To dream, the impossible dream....

I always had a soft spot growing up for Man of La Mancha.

Anyhoo, apparently we're #4 on Google for "Battlestar Galactica Jokes."

At moments like this I get all dewy-eyed and weepy.

Posted by Steve at 11:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitious HBO Movie Review

I had Three O'Clock High in my Netflix queue, but HBO cut the corner and ran it this evening.

If you've never heard of this movie, think of it as a dark Ferris Bueller, depicting high school angst in more sinister tones. And before you ask, no, I am not Jerry Williams, although I was something of a dork in those days and did get into a fight once (albiet, in 7th Grade - and I won). Further, I did have a spooky girl friend in high school.... Well, okay - maybe I was Jerry Williams. Got a problem with that? (BTW, Jerry's newspaper editor friend looks remarkably like a very young Steve-O. Just thought I'd mention that.)

Flipping through the cast list, I was amused at the fact that, despite the quality of this film, it seems to have proved a dead end (or maybe still birth) for many aspiring acting careers. Only genuinely famous alum? How about the voice of Lisa Simpson?

Seriously, if you haven't seen this movie, you should.

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

More Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

This is a neat site: Pianopedia. One-stop shopping for information on a variety of composers and their keyboard works, including sample scores.

A piece I've been working on a great deal lately is Bach's Partita No. 5 in G major, BWV 829. I've been concentrating in particular on the Praeambulum (I even take on the hand-crossings) and the Corrente, although I can get through all the other dances except the Allemande, which is a bitch of triple time and dotted notes that I still don't have the hang of.

There are plenty of other composers whose music lets you "express yourself" but I can't name a single one who makes you think as much as does Bach. And the sense of working through one of his pieces, of understanding it and reproducing the intellectual arguments that he sets down, is to me a very satisfying feeling. And you can keep your snide comments about "celestial clockmakers" to yourselves, because I don't think the intellectual beauty of his work detracts at all from its aesthetic qualities. There's nothing dry or dusty about it at all, as far as I'm concerned. This is just supremely grown up music. And when I've managed to play through it even half-way decently, I really feel as if I've accomplished something worth while.

Posted by Robert at 06:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Oh, Baby!

Our pal Margi's blog has been sporting a banner labeled "40 and Pregnant" for a while. Looks like she's going to need to change that name real soon.

Best wishes and prayers from the Llamas!

Posted by Robert at 03:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

Here's an interesting article reviewing new recordings of Mozart performed by some up-and-coming soloists, including Martin Stadtfeld and Hillary Hahn (neither of whom much impresses the critic), and Julia Fischer, Sebastian Knauer and Pierre-Laurent Aimard (all of whom the critic likes).

The article was originally in German and the translation seems to get a little crazy now and again, but it's informative nonetheless.

Yips! to JohnL at TexasBestGrok.

Posted by Robert at 01:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm Steve the LLamabutcher, and I'm an idiot

But you knew that already.

You might have noticed a change in the logo of our advertiser, Vinnie from Vinceautmorrie. It appears to have a LLama performing a procedure on a Donkey that would rate an NFL like signing bonuses at one of your finer Tijuana whorehouses/crack dens, but would probably be illegal in most of the lower 48. One can only deduce, from seeing that picture, that one will never be able to watch Sam Wainwright in It's a Wonderful Life without spurting a glass of eggnog out one's left nostril.

HEEEEEE-haw, indeed.

I think it might have to do with something I might have said in an email to Mrs. Vinnie who, upon being accepted into the Moo Knew Mu Shu Domain of Doom, emailed us by saying how great her husband was, to which I might have replied something to the effect of, "Yes, he sure is. Except for that secretly being gay thing."

That might have done it.

I need to review my notes: apparently laud your critics and insult your advertisers wasn't correct.

Yips! from Robbo: Well, durn. I thought the pic was some kind of political metaphor.

Posted by Steve at 01:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Half A Mil, Half a Mil, Half a Mil Onward!

It's O-fficial: The Llama just cracked 500K!!

And the winner of a full day's supply of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat? Whoever came here on the MSN search for summary of the book kaffir boy.

Well, since it's a literary search, I suppose it's better than our usual "Juliet Huddy naked pix" visits.

Anyway, back in the day when Mom was our only regular visitor, I remember Steve-O talking about "when we hit 500K". Fortunately, I kept my mouth shut and resisted the strong temptation to say, "Hell, if we ever make it that far, I'll personally stand in the middle of Times Square naked and sing 'My Way'." It's hard to believe we've actually done it. And I'm glad I resisted temptation for once.

So then, on behalf of Steve-O and the LMC, let me just say thanks to all of you. And here's to our first step towards seven figures!

Yip! Yip! Yip! Yip!

YIPS from Steve: Welsher. Everybody now, "Regrets, I've had a few...."

What gobsmacks (or is that gobsmax?) me more about all this is this: our traffic map from when the big odometer turned over:

llama 500k world map.JPG

So, with 500K visits under our belt, does that mean my elven wizard gets +3 on his power rolls against demons and orcs? Does it add aura points to my cloak of studliness? Jus' asking.

Anyhoo, the big blogging nooz around here is that The Dear One is in the market to start her own blog, which, needless to say, I'm 100% against. I mean, I've got a reputation to uphold, and a good 50% of her material would be for busting my chops, the rest being solid MommyBlog material. It's my fault, really, as I got her reading Curmudgeonry before Christmas, and the rest just followed naturally.

More Yips! From Robbo: I particularly invite you to hit the link to Phin's post below. To quote Jayne, "I'll be in my bunk."

UPDATE: Attention commentors! You want a singing Llama? You got it. Naked? Well, that's gonna cost you, pilgrims.....

Posted by Robert at 12:44 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack


Today is Cary Grant's birthday and Red has gone flat out in celebration. Click and scroll......

The Missus and I watched Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House the other evening. We both thought it pleasant enough, although maybe not in the first rank of Grant flicks. However, when Grant took off his robe and pajamas top in the bathroom, the Missus let out an involuntary, "Oooooooh......"

Up next, Talk of the Town. It's been years and years since I saw this, and I'm eager to see if it's as good as I remember it to be.

Posted by Robert at 12:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

What Would We Do Without Reports?

Report: Teen Drivers Pose Broad Risk

Every state has some form of a graduated licensing program but they vary in their scope. Darbelnet said the foundation considers a comprehensive program to include at least 50 hours of supervised driving with an adult, restrictions of the time of day when a beginning driver can use a vehicle and limits on the number of passengers in the vehicle without a supervising adult.

Safety groups say distractions and risks grow sharply for teen drivers at night and when they travel with their friends.

"Regardless of what the state law says, parents should not allow their teen to ride with other teen drivers, nor should they be allowed to transport other teens in the first year of driving," Darbelnet said.

(Emphasis added.) Well, duh.

My father taught me how to drive when I was 10 or 11. We had a hunting lease on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country and to get around on it, he bought an old VW Beetle, took off the body, and added a roll-bar and a plywood platform in the back, plus oversized tires and floodlights. Dad reckoned that if we were out at the back of beyond and something happened to him, I needed to know how to get us back to civilization. And thus was born my fondness for stick shift.

By the time I took driver's ed, I had the mechanics down pat and only needed to get used to driving with more around me than rocks, trees and cattle. For the road-work part of the course, they put three student drivers and an instructor in a car to tool around the city. I was linked up with a pair of knuckle-dragging morons who nearly killed us all on a regular basis. The instructor would have them go first and save the final leg of the trip for me so that he could unclench and relax a little.

As I recollect, when I first got my license, I was pretty much restricted to driving to school and back and sometimes to the store. Only gradually did I work my way up to night driving and longer trips. This is only common sense.

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

Utterly Useless Royal Navy Geekery - Six Degrees of Jack Aubrey Edition

Captain Peter Heywood - The Crucial Link

Cathy the Cake-Eater noted that yesterday was an important date in the exploratory career of the great Captain James Cook. She then threw down the challenge for me to link Captain Cook with Patrick O'Brian's Lucky Jack Aubrey.

Bring. It. On.

There is no direct link between Cook and Aubrey - Cook died in Hawaii in February, 1779, over twenty years before the beginning of the Aubrey/Maturin cycle. However, there is a chain of reference.

You see, the master of Cook's ship for his second and third voyages, HMS Resolution, was none other than William Bligh. Although Bligh is chiefly remembered nowadays (perhaps somewhat unjustly) for driving the crew of HMAV Bounty to mutiny in 1787, the fact is that he was an absolutely brilliant navigator, a set of skills he developed under Cook. (When Fletcher Christian put him off the Bounty at Tahiti in an open boat with 18 other loyalists, Bligh managed to steer the boat on a 3600 mile course to Timor using no maps or charts and no instruments other than an sextant and a pocket watch.)

Anyhoo, one of the mutineers was a young first-voyage midshipman named Peter Heywood. Heywood and some of the mutineers stayed on Tahiti while Christian and his friends sailed off to another island. Those who stayed on Tahiti eventually were picked up by HMS Pandora, which had been sent to hunt for the Bounty. Heywood and the other mutineers were kept in an iron cage on the deck of the Pandora. When she hit a reef and sank, he barely managed to get out alive.

Back in England, Heywood was court-martialled and sentenced to death. However, he received a pardon and was reinstated in the Royal Navy, where he eventually rose to the rank of post captain.

Now to the link: O'Brian has Heywood join Aubrey and Maturin for a long dinner as they are getting ready to set out on their own voyage to the South Seas and Australia. (I believe this occurs in The Thirteen Gun Salute, although it may be a bit later in the series.) Heywood recounts the story of the Bounty and his own subsequent adventures, together with more general observations about Bligh's background (including his voyages with Cook), personality and navigational prowess. (Aubrey is sailing in part to deal with another mutiny against Bligh, who is now governor of New South Wales. This time, it is a cabal of army officers.)

So there you have it. And remember, I was asked this time.

Posted by Robert at 09:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2006

From the correspondence files of Steve the LLamabutcher

I just wrote an email to a former colleague who moved on to bigger and better things and wanted to recycle an observation:

ps---pitchers and catchers less than a month away.....and with this despicably late super bowl, it's only a ten day interlude between seasons--enough time for the holy trinity of signs of spring to come: the Daytona 500, the SI swimsuit edition, and the Girl Scout cookies.

Me, I prefer to enjoy all three at once.

Which is why I would make a crappy Frenchman, but a passable Aussie.

Posted by Steve at 11:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Who's your daddy?

Apparently, Niall of the Nine Hostages can be blamed for the Kennedy Dynasty.

The hidden joke in the story though was for the Smurf Institute of Genetics.

Posted by Steve at 11:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Chocolate City" Redux

Hillary and Ray Nagin Apologize: The incomparable Wuzzadem has the last words.

And now I too have to wonder if there's such a thing as fried chocolate.

Posted by Steve at 11:30 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

The Big 500K


Some time in the next 24 hours, the ol' Llama sitemeter is going to roll over 500,000 hits.

First, thankee from the bottom of our collective woolly hearts to all of you who have visited us over the past two years. Yip! Yip! Yip!

Second, although we missed National De-Lurking Week, I feel that this traffic milestone is a perfect time to call out all of you who share the Llama Luv in secret. Confess! Confess, I say! Leave a comment right now! Bonus points will be awarded for the best answer(s) to the following question:

Who am I and what am I doing here?

Well, go to it and good luck!

Posted by Robert at 11:12 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Pig, Meet Wings

Tom Daschle apparently is "considering" a run at the presidency.

Well (Hyuck!), good luck with that (Snerk! Spppltth!)

Okay, while we're on the subject, I give you:


10. The begining of work on the basement water seepage problem at the Butcher's House by Mr. Bilbo Baggins, gratis.

9. The time when Maryland drivers become calm, rational and predictable motorists.

8. The day when none of the Llama-ettes will sing, "Oh-yeah! Oh-yeah! Uh-Huh!" for a twenty four hour period.

7. The season in which the Miami Dolphins will have a balanced offense, complete with a solid QB, good WR hands and strong running support.

6. The day when I will no longer be subjected to squishing by fat, smelly guys on the Metro.

5. The time when the goddam rabbits realize that eating perennial gardens is just, well, wrong.

4. My future Insta-lanche.

3. The day INDCent Bill actually accepts a Dee Cee Blogger-Meet invitation.

2. The day when Angelina Jolie and a rejuvenated Terri Garr show up at my door and announce that we're going to "have it all out".

1. The day one of my Top Ten lists makes someone laugh.

Well, c'mon - a guy can dream, can't he?

Posted by Robert at 10:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Well, It's Great That We'll Have This But Worrisome Where We Need It

Ace links to a coo-el Army dramatization of the high-tech fighting to be expected in the year 2014.

Problem? Well, according to the Army vid, we appear to be fighting for Normandy again.

Unless I missed some sizeable metaphorage in the clip (yes, I did just invent that word), this does not signal much optimism for the future prospects of Europe.

Posted by Robert at 10:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


(Photo by Anjannette Petree)

This is a photo of the smoke plume from the Augustine volcano, currently erupting off the coast of Alaska near Anchorage.

I don't have anything to say, I just think it's a neat image. Many more pics and other interesting info can be found at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

Posted by Robert at 06:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Opinion Journal Online links to a New York Sun article that the five-year suspension of Clinton's Arkansas law license is up on Thursday. He is expected to apply for reinstatement. Clinton's perjury in his deposition in the Paula Jones case occurred in the presence of a member of a co-equal branch of government, a U.S. District judge, who presided over the deposition, an event which itself is unheard of in civil litigation. Bubba's remaining State of the Union addresses were attended only by a single Supreme Court justice, rather than by all nine as is the custom, a not-so-subtle sign of how the justices viewed Clinton's transgressions.

Posted by LMC at 05:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Llama-ette Birthday Observations

On Sunday, we held my just-turned six year old's birthday party at Build-A-Bear.

- For those of you unfamiliar with the way Build-A-Bear works, the kiddies choose from one of a variety of stuffed animal carcasses. These are then filled with fluff from a large machine via a metal tube stuck up the teddy's backside. If this blog weren't so tasteful, I'd invite you to insert your own Axis Suly joke here.

- Before the teddy is sewn up after stuffing, a little red cloth heart is placed inside. When there's a birthday party, all the guests are made to put hearts in the birthday girl's bear. Even now, I can see some archeologist far in the future staring at one of these sixteen-hearted teddies and muttering, "Why?.......Why?")

- The staffers assigned to our party worked like heroes to keep the kiddies occupied while each of them took turns getting their teddy stuffed. There was only one pipe available and sixteen kids. Do the math. Yet there were no fits, tantrums or escape attempts.

- Once the teddy is stuffed and sewn, the kiddy proceeds to pick out a custom outfit. If she likes, she can also add all sorts of accessories - glasses, purses, doctor's kits and the like. An investment guru friend who was at the party told me Build-A-Bear went public not all that long ago. Wish I'd been in on that IPO. Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

- One disadvantage of the place is that it is not rigged for parties, even though it hosts them. There's no separate room for cake and ice cream, for example. So instead of trying to lead the entire herd to the food court half way across the mall, a group of us parents went to the Haagen-Daas next door and commandeered four of the five tables in the place, much to the annoyance of some other patrons. I've never done anything so New Yorky in my life. And given how much I rant about people saving seats in movie theatres and Christmas church services, I confess I'm rather ashamed of myself.

- While at the mall, I saw a little boy of no more than three or so with pierced ears. And he wasn't just wearing studs, but had a pair of dangling, beaded ear-rings. What in God's name possessed anybody to do that?

- SOOPER-SEKRET MESSAGE to the parent who gave the Llama-ette the Barbie "Jam With Me" Karaoke Pretend Guitar with Vocal Tracks Cartridge, Whammy Bar and Headset Microphone: Thank you. Thank you so bloody much.

Posted by Robert at 04:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

More Utterly Useless Royal Navy Geekery


Last week I posted on the interesting way the book I am reading on French and British exploration of the Australian coast between 1801 and 1803 (under, respectively, Captains Nicholas Baudin and Matthew Flinders) intersected with Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels. In particular, I focused on the presence in both of Jacques-Felix-Emmanuel Hamelin, Baudin's second in command who later commanded the French naval forces in the defense of the islands of Mauritius and Reunion, novelized in O'Brian's The Mauritius Command.

Well, it turns out to be even better than this.

You see, Captain Flinders was forced to cut short his exploratory journey in 1803 when his ship, the Investigator, was deemed unseaworthy by the authorites at Port Jackson, New South Wales. Flinders then started for England as a passenger aboard a ship called the Porpoise which only got as far as the Great Barrier Reef, where it was wrecked. Flinders made it back to Port Jackson in a launch and set out again for England in command of a ship called the Cumberland. However, that ship proved crank as well and Flinders was forced to put into Mauritius for repairs.

Flinders, in the name of scientific enlightenment, had been sailing under a safe conduct pass from the French government. However, the pass was specific to the Investigator. When Flinders appeared at Mauritius commanding another ship, the local army commander, General Decaen, immediately jailed him as a spy. Flinders spent the next six years imprisoned on the island while Decaen did everything he could to ignore him.

Eventually, Flinders was released in a cartel ship. And where should his first stop be but with the advance Royal Navy squadron sent to open the Mauritius campaign? O'Brian readers will remember a certain Col. Keating, commander of the army forces involved. He was, in fact, a real person. The squadron, commanded by Lucky Jack Aubrey in the novel, was actually under the command of a certain Commodore Josias Rowley. Flinders met with both Rowley and Keating and dined with them several times before leaving the squadron.

Reading about this lead me to wonder if O'Brian ever considered putting the meeting with Flinders into his novel. I can certainly see where Jack Aubrey would be interested in discussing the surveys of the coasts, while Stephen Maturin would question Flinders about the various flora and fauna of the area.

This was interesting enough. However, there is more. Readers of H.M.S. Surprise will remember the climactic battle at the end where Aubrey and the Surprise help the East India Company's China Fleet to beat off an attack by a heavy French squadron under Admiral Linois. That incident, in fact, also really did occur - in February, 1804 off the island of Pulo Auro in the Straits of Malacca.

When the Investigator was condemned and Flinders left for England aboard the Cumberland, many of the officers and crew of both Investigator and the wrecked Porpoise also made plans to head home. They sailed for Canton in a merchantman called the Rolla and were received into the China Fleet there by Captain Nathaniel Dance of the Earl Camdon, who was elected commodore of the fleet. Fearing French attack on the unescorted merchies, Dance was delighted to take on Royal Navy personnel and parcelled them out among several of his ships, where Flinders' officers and men worked to get them into some sort of fighting shape.

Dance later reported the battle to the Honorable Court of the East India Company:

[F]inding they proposed to attack and endeavor to cut off our rear, I made the signal to tack and bear down on him, and engage in succession - the Royal George being the leading ship, and Ganges next, and then the Lord Camden [sic]. This manoeuvre was correctly performed, and we stood towards him under a press of sail. The enemy then formed in a very close line and opened their fire on the headmost ships, which was not returned by us till we approached him nearer.

The Royal George bore the brunt of the action, and got as near the enemy as he would permit him. The Ganges and Earl Camden opened their fire as soon as their guns could have effect; but before any other ship could get into action, the enemy hauled their wind and stood away to the Eastward under all the sail they could set. At 2 p.m., I made the signal for general chase, and we pursued them till 4 p.m., when fearing a longer pursuit would carry us too far from the Mouth of the Straits... I made the signal to tack, and at eight p.m. we anchored.

The Royal George had one man killed and another wounded, many shot in her hull and more in her sails; but few shot touched either Camden or Ganges, and the fire of the enemy seemed to be ill-directed, his shot either falling short or passing over us.


I recieved great assistance from the advice and exertion of Lieutenant Fowler [RN, 1st Lieutenant of the Investigator], whose meritorious conduct in this instance I hope the Honorable Court will communicate to the Lords of the Admiralty.

(quoted in Ill-Starred Captains, pp. 434-435.)

Fowler was, in fact, rewarded for his efforts, as were the other officers involved. And it is clear that, here at any rate, he is the model for Lucky Jack Aubrey.

I love coming across this kind of historical information. In particular, I love the fact the Commodore Dance really did signal "general chase" to his fleet of merchies after the French warships turned tail. Aubrey's parallel command in H.M.S. Surprise is one of my favorite moments in the book.

Posted by Robert at 01:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Well, that shouldn't be much of a surprise to the Missus

I am nerdier than 85% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Thanks to Sloth.

Yips! from Robbo:

I am nerdier than 9% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Keeping it balanced, folks.

Posted by Steve at 12:39 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


The HMQ takes on the "Celebrity Fat Club."

Edward Gibbon could not have done a better job.

Posted by Steve at 10:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Worst Birthday Present, Ever.

Geez, Tom, if you really want to get out of the doghouse, try getting her an iron, or maybe a vacuum next year.

Or suffer the fate of getting relegated to the basement while your wife watches award shows where you are not the winner.

Kathy liveblogged (livesnarked?) the Golden Globes, for those like me who, well, really don't give a crap but like the vicious criticism.

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

LLama Book Review

last templar.jpeg
The Last Templar, by Ray Khoury

Ray Khoury's The Last Templar is the ideal airport/airplane book, if by ideal you mean one that is guarenteed to scare off 99% of the population of potential seat mates from talking to you without arousing the threat matrix of airport security or the TSA.

Had Orenthal James Simpson not severed his wife's head and thereby, rather cruelly and unjustly, prematurely ended his cinematic career, he would have been the perfect actor to play the FBI partner to "Sean McGuinn" or "Dave McGuire" or whatever the name of the mamby-pamby conflicted Catholic Golden-Domer FBI super agent dude in charge of counterterrorism for the FBI's NY field office. By that I mean the serious OJ of his early career: the conflicted astronaut of Capricorn One, or the conflicted security guard of The Towering Inferno.

It's that good of a story.

What was fun for me was the inside joke reference to Umberto Eco's great novel Foucault's Pendulum, complete with Eco's assertion of the one truly reliable way to determine mental illness in someone is their eventually raising the topic of the Templars. With that as a marker thrown out at the very beginning, I was ready for a hip take down of Templar-inspired paranoia, with perhaps a little Dan Brown roasted on a stick. Alas, no such luck. The book wallows in Brown's vomit, but with a nice CSI-esque twist at the end, unfortunatly too late to redeem the rest.

There is a market there for a savage dark comedy take down of the whole Templar/Gnostic/Jesus was a chick genre---maybe I have to be the person to do it. Kind of a Stripes hijacks The Da Vinci Code sort of thing.

Posted by Steve at 10:45 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Yup, Foxes and Hedgehogs

The quiz du jour reveals my fairly scattershot mind:

You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with QuizFarm.com

As it happens, I was an English major. I'm a bit puzzled why theatre should be so low, since I really enjoyed my collegiate experience in it. (Probably because I don't much go for the "I'm passionate about self-expression" thing.) I'm also puzzled how mathematics scored so high - I have no real head for it. Ditto for dance - I hate dancing.

Also, is history not offered as a major anymore?

Yips! to JohnL at TexasBestGrok.

Posted by Robert at 09:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Gary the Ex-Donk has posted his latest 80's Crush of the Week.

Who knew Jaclyn Smith did a guest appearance on Hee-Haw?

Posted by Robert at 09:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting

The Carnival of Music rings in the new year over at Pilgrimage to Parnassus. Click on over and enjoy.

UPDATE: Uh, oh. JohnL, grand master of this particular carnival, announces that he is going to chuck it in the deep freezer for the time being unless somebody else would like to take over.

Posted by Robert at 09:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Llama Netflix Movie Review

Restoration (1995). Charles II (Sam Neill), in order to placate one mistress, decides to stash another mistress in the country. In order to perfect the cover, he marries this second mistress to a gifted but dissipated young doctor (a type-cast Robert Downey Jr.). The doctor is granted a title, an estate and riches and the only condition Charles places on him is that he can't touch the woman. Of course the doctor immediately falls for her.

One word review: Meh.

I was expecting this to be a romp through the world of 17th Century court politics and intrigue. (I recall this is how the flick was pitched when it came out.) While it starts out that way, it suddenly takes a turn toward dark mawkishness when the doctor is stripped of his position after having an ill-considered go at the girl. Cast out with nothing, he has to find himself again. (See? "Restoration." Get it? Get it?) This he does with the aid of a stout Quaker friend and a mad Irishwoman (Meg Ryan), but not before the madwoman dies in childbirth (it's never quite explained how the doctor shifts his affections so quickly), the plague ravages London and Cheapside burns to the ground. Oh, and the doctor saves his pretend-wife's life, thus causing Charles to restore him to his former grand position.

Redeeming aspect of the film: Seeing Gandalf and Emperor Palpatine together.

BONUS MUSICKAL RANT: Sorry, I can't resist this. The action of the movie begins in 1663. Yet the music accompanying the opening credits and the beginning of the story is from the semi-opera King Arthur, composed by Henry Purcell with libretto by John Dryden. That piece didn't premier until 1691. (Indeed, Purcell was only born in 1659.)

Interestingly, Charles himself died in 1685 and was succeeded on the throne by his brother James II. However, James' hamfisted efforts to turn England back to Catholicism promptly got him chased out of the kingdom during the Glorious Revolution of 1688, being replaced by his (Protestant) daughter Mary and her husband Willam of Orange. This caused some hasty rewriting by Purcell and Dryden, who had been planning King Arthur for James' eyes and ears. Dryden, at least, was reported none too pleased at having to rejig the piece for the benefit of Dutch William.

(Incidently, the Wikipedia entry for the Glorious Revolution evidently was written by a Jacobite sympathizer. I find this very amusing.)

Posted by Robert at 09:01 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Where Was Robbo?

I spent all day yesterday painting the dining room at the Butcher's House. Even though the room has a chair rail and wainscotting all around, thereby reducing the area of the walls to be painted by about a third, it still took a long time.

The toughest part was dealing with the chair rail and the moldings around the doors, window and ceiling. I gave up bothering with tape a long time ago - it never seems to work and usually just makes a bigger mess. Nowadays, I just free hand the edges. This works, but it is a tedious and exacting process.

Anyhoo, the job took me about eleven hours or so. I'm pretty sure huffing paint fumes all that time didn't kill too many brain cells, but if I sound a bit incoherent today, you'll mango bunnies comstock frooble zim, I'm sure.

Posted by Robert at 08:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 16, 2006

New twist on the "You have two cows" meme

The Beneficient Poo-Bah of the Moo Knew Mu Shu Domain of Doom has a new Down Under take on the "You have two cows" political philosophy meme. My favorites:

Cairns: You have two cows. You trade one for three baby crocodiles and a one-legged kangaroo, and open a wildlife park. Contrary to expectations, it is a huge success.

Canberra: You have two cows. Together you start a business selling cow-oriented adult movies over the internet. You become rich, and decide to go into politics, where you find that the work is the same but the pay is worse.

Okay, I'll confess, I had ulterior motives in making this post other than acknowledging the funny: I wanted to know what would happen to our Google Traffic by having "cow-orientated adult movies" and "Katie Couric" in the same post.


UPDATE: For our control group, should we have a post that casually mentions "Matt Lauer in a Turkish prison" too? I need to consult the LLamabutchers Science Advisory Council.

Posted by Steve at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Because I've been eating the lead paint chip doritos again

I'm a loser---how do you format Microsoft Word so that the page number 1 appears on the second page, leaving the first page as the unnumbered title page?

My brain is not working this morning.

UPDATE: O tempora, o mores!

Why was my first reaction to this problem to post it as a question rather than try to look it up in the documentation?

Why do I use google now when I'm writing instead of a dictionary? Or, when exactly did that happen?

Posted by Steve at 10:46 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 15, 2006

The Rule of Four

Hey, it's a Sunday night. Sue me. From Jordana over at Curmudgeonry.

Four Jobs I've Had:

Coal shoveler/boiler feeder
Traffic directing guy
Security guard
Con Law professor

Four Movies I Watch Over and Over Again:
Capricorn One (Come on, Sam Law & Order Waterson, Orenthal James Simpson, and Mister Barbra Streisand as astronauts on a doomed mission to Mars? How can you NOT watch this movie over and over again)

Escape from New York (Plisskin? I thought you were dead!)

High Plains Drifter

Cool Hand Luke

(Movies I wind up watching over and over again):

The Care Bears Learn About Safety (thanks a butt-load for that one, Rob!)
Air Bud: World Pup

Four Places I've Lived:

Burlington, MA
East Lyme, CT
Middletown, CT
Charlottesville VA

What can I say, I'm freaking the Vasco de Gama of world travel and living.

Four T.V. Shows I Watch:

Repeats of Magnum P.I. (but of course)
CSI: Des Moines (they had to dig pretty deep into the Who's songbook to get the cover: you'd never think "Squeezebox" would fit into the whole CSI genre, but hey, it works)
NCIS (Yes, I like watching Mark Harmon and no, that doesn't make me gay)
Medium (Okay, okay, Patricia Arquette is hot, I can admit that--but I like the whole dynamic she and her husband have on the show).

Four Places I've Been on Vacation:

Again, I'm Vasco freakin' de Gama.

This summer we're going to Glacier National Park, does that count?

Four Websites I Visit Daily:

Average week? Insty, Allahpundit (just to see if he's come again, the rat bastard), Ace of Spades (lately), Dave Barry blog.

Four Favorite Foods:

homemade clam chowder
fresh calamari
smoked bluefish (hickory wood and very spicy brown mustard)
Schwaan's Man self-rising pizza

Four Places I'd Like to Be Right Now:

Sunday night? Keys and key codes? I'd love to be able to have free reign in the National Archives, one night, flashlight, digitial camera, a huge memory card and lots and lots of batteries. Okay, that makes me an extreme geek.

Vegas (trying to undo the damage from the National Archives/Mark Harmon revelations)

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging:

Chai-Rista, you're up!

Posted by Steve at 11:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Why the Dems have worked so hard to keep this report from seeing the light of day. One popular theory is that it shed some light on White House use of the IRS to harass perceived enemies. Sorry LB Buddy, this is not Nixon, but Clinton. Drudge strikes again.

Posted by LMC at 09:51 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Tonight's feature: Kate Beckinsale, a Flash in progress. Breakthough flick: the very forgettable Pearl Harbor. Most recent flicks: Underworld and the soon to be released Underworld: Evolution. Best attributes: nimble build, big lips, passing familiarity with all manner of firearms and edged weapons. Biggest drawback--not a lot of range as an actress so sooner or later she will be bumped off the stage by a younger, buffer model. Enjoy the show while it lasts.

YIPS from Steve: She was great in Cold Comfort Farm, and for some reason I always think she was in Metropolitan, but that was a young Taylor Nichols. Actually, Taylor Nichols is a dude, what I was going for was Chloe Sevigny, who was with Beckinsale in the otherwise disapointing The Last Days of Disco.

Posted by LMC at 08:13 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Okay, I'm out

For some bizarre reasons having something to do with the Singularity, the Super Bowl is on my birthday for the first time and we're both turning XL together. Well, okay, I've been XL for awhile, but at least as far as the calendar, this great American civic institution turns forty (as does the football game thing) on Sunday, February 5th.

I was hoping for a Redskins/Patriots Super Bowl. As long-time reader(s) know (Hi Mrs. Rob the LLamabutcher!) I've been suffering with the Skins since 1994 when, eerily reminiscent of the scene from the movie Diner, I had to take the Redskins trivia test before I was allowed to marry The Dear One. I passed, mainly because I cheated like a frat pledge with a 40 ounce hangover in a philosophy midterm, but I deserve credit for creativity--you go ahead and try to write the complete sequence of quarterbacks going back to Sammy on the inside tongue of your sneaker: it aint easy! The Football gods witnessed my perfidy, and rewarded the team with 10 miserable years of Danny Snyder, Norv "Marshall Pietan" Turner, Deon Sanders......Did Deon really wear the burgundy and gold, or was that just a bad dream, like the whole season of Dallas voided by Bobby stepping out of the shower?

Anyhoo, I was pulling for the Pats to be in basically because I love razzing the crap out of our favorite moonbat mad scientist , not to mention my brothers who were both Dolphins fans but have "converted" over to the Pats over the past five years.

Don't even get me started on the subject---it's so wrong at every level.

My backup would be having the Colts in, simply because The Dear One thinks Peyton Manning is cute, and there would perhaps be an angle route for me in that, if you know what I mean.

But, no dice: they're all out.

Posted by Steve at 06:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Forget Israel v. Iran

I'm more worried that Jennifer Anniston will obtain nuclear warheads before the international community can react, and Angelina Jolie can deploy Patriot missiles.

Which I guess would make Vince Vaughn the "force de frappe" in that sorrid storyline.

Posted by Steve at 06:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Further signs of the Apocalypse

Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities has been nominated for a Pulitzer.

I didn't realize "fashionista bitchy" was a new category, but hey, whatever works.

While you're there, don't forget to check out the Hajj-O-Meter.

FURTHER SIGNS THE END OF DAYS IS NEAR: KISS guitarist goes in for hip-replacement surgery.

There's a bad "I'm/Going to Rock and Roll all night" joke in there that I'm too lazy to reach for.

YOU THINK I'M FREAKIN' KIDDING? THEN CHECK THIS OUT: Affleck and Damon set to star in remake of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."


That is just SO wrong at so many levels. Affleck and Damon in the CHiPs movie yes, remaking a Paul Neuman classic no.

I mean those two hacks shouldn't even be allowed to RENT the movies of Paul Neuman.

Posted by Steve at 06:17 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Get a room, dearie

Cath is orgasmic over the new handheld, battery charged device she's ordered to put a charge and some new vibrations into her daily drudgery.

Geez louise, woman, are you trying just to give those Mullahs further proof of our Great Satanhood?

Posted by Steve at 06:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I'm Steve the LLamabutcher, and I'm an idiot

I'd like to apologize to our devoted reader(s), as it's suddenly dawned on me that our patented mockery and internet head in the locker stuffing of INDC Bill has dropped off precipitously as of late. It's not due to any religious conversion on our part, nor certainly any durn New Year's resolution, it's just something that has dropped off the radar as of late.

Fear not, however, as the hazing shall soon return.

Posted by Steve at 06:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Save the Hatemongers Quarterly from a certain fate WORSE than death

The Crack Young Staff over at the HMQ seems to believe that they have become the Scott Baio of the blogosphere, and are threatening to stop posting so that their popularity can only but rise.

This, friends, is unacceptable: we need "Chip" to understand that they are much more to us than that: I've always fondly thought of them as the "Joey Lawrence" of the Blogosphere, the lovably wacky brother of the tee-vee Russo clan, possibly brain-damaged by an unfortunate run-in with a paper bag and a large bottle of Testor's model airplane glue.

So, lets send a ton of traffic over there, if only to hear Chip say, "Like, Whoaaaa!"

Posted by Steve at 06:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Could have been worse

It could have also listed "Yorkie" above Irish.

Posted by Steve at 06:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Where I'd like to see the next season of Survivor set

Oh come on, it's not like you wouldn't watch THIS.

Come to think of it, that would make a great online video game, if you made sure that the whales, with one good tail fin shot, could take out both boats.

Posted by Steve at 05:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ask the science geeks

I'm having troubling understanding this article, or, at least, I'm having trouble comprehending what I'm reading here: the chief source of greenhouse gasses are rainforests and flatulent animals?

I mean, that would mean all those David Crosby/Jerry Garcia concerts for the Rainforest, sponsored by Ben 'n Jerry's Rainforest Crunch, were part of the problem, not the solution.

Holy paradigm shift, Batman!

Kyoto II: now featuring enforceable limits on the number of bean burritos sold in the continental US.

Seriously, though I'm going to ask this guy.

Posted by Steve at 05:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Random Sunday Morning Idling

The six year old currently is playing with the Fact-Blaster she got for Christmas. This is an electronic gadget made by the Leap Frog people that quizes the user on various bits of knowledge. In conducting the quizes, it uses a How much would you pay? Wait! Don't answer yet..... voice, praising correct answers and diplomatically pointing out incorrect ones.

I just got wondering where the voice actually comes from. Is there a Voice-Over Guild out there supplying talkies for toys, games, telephone voicemail and the like? Or do manufacturers simply tap whoever happens to be standing around when they're ready? I just can't fathom the chain of events that would lead to somebody standing in some recording studio at eight o'clock in the morning doing multiple upbeat takes of, "Player Two! Youuuu're up!"

Posted by Robert at 10:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Praise For Pravda On The Potomac

Every now and again, the WaPo manages to get it right. It doesn't really much care for Sam Alito's conservatism and says so. Fair enough. Nonetheless, it argues that this is not a sufficient basis for the Senate to torpedo his nomination. Conservative presidents are going to nominate conservative judges, a simple (and legitimate) fact of political life:

Which is, of course, just what President Bush promised concerning his judicial appointments. A Supreme Court nomination isn't a forum to refight a presidential election. The president's choice is due deference -- the same deference that Democratic senators would expect a Republican Senate to accord the well-qualified nominee of a Democratic president.

And Judge Alito is superbly qualified. His record on the bench is that of a thoughtful conservative, not a raging ideologue. He pays careful attention to the record and doesn't reach for the political outcomes he desires. His colleagues of all stripes speak highly of him. His integrity, notwithstanding efforts to smear him, remains unimpeached.

'Zactly. I respect people who articulate reasonable questions about what the addition of Alito to SCOTUS will mean in terms of, say, the balance between individual civil liberties and governmental police powers. I don't respect people who yell at me that Alito is a secret stooge of the Illuminati and as soon as he makes it to the Bench, Chimpy McHitlerHaliburton's sturmtruppen are going to break down my door and drag me away in the night, probably stopping to knock up my daughters on the way and I'd better get used to being a grandfather since they're also going to outlaw abortion.

Of course, if you prefer your commentary over the top, the Post also obligatorally runs a topical cartoon by premier jackass Tom Toles.

Posted by Robert at 10:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 14, 2006

Happy Birthday!


The youngest Llama-ette turns four today.

This gel is definitely of the school of thought that believes any attention is good attention - if she can't win a smile from me with her charm, she'll bait me until I snap. Indeed, I call this process "going Harpo" and can see it coming a long way off. The gel gets a look of pure divilment in her eyes and the next thing I know my hat's been stolen, my tie's been cut in half and she has her foot jammed into my pocket. I used to fall for this pretty easily. Lately, however, I've got much better at not going for the bait.

Owing to scheduling issues, her party isn't for another two weeks. To make up for it, we're letting her and her sisters have a sleepover - staying up late to watch a movie and then camping out in the basement with their sleeping bags.
And of course, her sister (who turned six on Tuesday) is having a Build-A-Bear party tomorrow, so it's not as if there will be no festivities at all this weekend.

A while back, I wondered out loud why, since their birthdays were only four days apart, we didn't just have one party for both of them. Silly Daddy! You just don't understand these things. Skimp at all on the attention each gets and they'll pay you back for it later on with aggressive body piercings, goth clothes and half a dozen abortions between them before they hit high school.

Ah, well. Can't have that, of course. The four year old's party will be one of those gymnastics affairs which really work out well for parents because all the kiddies go home worn out.

Posted by Robert at 04:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


We can't make this stuff up.

Posted by LMC at 03:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

Posted by LMC at 03:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Sooper LLama Zoro Snaps (TM) go out to Merri's Musings, the new kid on the block in the ever-growing Moo Knew Mu Shu Domain of Doom.

And I'm not saying that because a.) Merri is the hubby of Vinny, who is our current advertiser, and 2.) it's yet another spiffy blog design from the design gurus at Apothegm Designs. Because if that was the only reason why, well, let's just say I'd feel about as dirty as Black Jack Abramoff's dry cleaner.

Posted by Steve at 12:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 13, 2006

Yes, I am alive

I haven't posted in what seems like a dog's age---not for the last week and a half, I think. Thankfully, Rob and the LMC have been keeping the hijinx up to snuff in my absence.

Things have been a bit crazy as of late: everything at home is hunky-dory, but work has gone to hell. My departmental colleague across the hall's dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and so we've been scrambling to arrange her leave of absence for the semester, figuring out how to cover her classes, dealing with bookstore bureaucracy etc. etc. etc. I'm dropping one of my courses to an adjunct and picking up one of hers, a class which should be fun but that I haven't taught in 9 years. And of course the petty and venal administrators have chosen this exact moment to be, well, petty and venal. I can't tell you the number of times the past week and a half I've just wanted to scream at these people and go all De Niro in the Untouchables flaunting the virtues of baseball ("It's a team sport! Yeah, team!)

On the fun side, I've been cranking out an article on the Kelo v. New London emminent domain case from last June. I grew up near New London, and as it turned out doing interviews with the lawyers and people from the city that I had gone to high school with Ms. Kelo's lawyer, and the project manager for the project had had my dad as an instructor at the Coast Guard Academy. Small world. The article, if I do say so myself, totally rocks. When it's done I'll upload it if any of youse wants to take a gander.

Tomorrow is the nine year old's birthday party: 13 girls at a local athletic club's "kid fun zone." Should be great. Last Saturday was the little man's 7th birthday, at the same place, and a good time was had by all (except I caught a very wicked buzz from eating a piece of sheet cake: damn if that thing didn't have me bouncing around like a En-Why-Cee bike messenger with pupils the size of subatomic particles (yes, that's a Dave Barry line, or maybe PJ ORourke: sue me). I paid for it the next morning, though: I guess your an official suburban dad when you're fighting off a Sunday morning hangover from scarfing a piece of sheetcake at a kid's birthday party the day before.

The other thing I've been up to lately is finishing Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver. Short review: pretty darn good. The first 300 pages completely rocked; the second 300 were pretty good; the last 300 should have been edited out. Stephenson is the author today who has wrested the laurels from philosopher John Rawls of "the brilliant author most desperately in need of an editor with an Exacto for a red pen." That said, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, but I'm not even going to start until Spring Break.

This semester I did something different: I created an Amazon list for each of my classes, and sent it to the kiddies so they could order direct and cut out the middleman. Boy, was our bookstore director pissed off! I can sense a dressing down from our Dean for this: I'll be the guy standing there, in a dirty sweatshirt, with a No. 2 pencil hanging from each nostril.

SOOPER SEKRIT MESSAGE TO CHAI-RISTA: Liz, we're going to have a reeeeeeel fun semester! Sit back and enjoy the fireworks: Steve the LLamabutcher has entered the building, and this time he just doesn't give a crap!

So what have I missed, exactly? I mean, other than Melissa getting hitched, Marion Barry smokin' the glass pipe, and Ted Kennedy making a horse's ass of himself....

Posted by Steve at 05:41 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

I Want My Blog Tee Vee!

Lynn S. is running with the idea of blogs that should be made into tee vee shows and gratifyingly thinks of us:

The Llama Butchers - Butchers who specialize in llama meat? Llamas who are butchers? The guy in the chair certainly doesn't look like a butcher to me. Maybe it's a metaphor. A sophisticated comedy. Most people probably won't get it and it will be cancelled after six episodes.

Prophetic words, actually, since we tried it a few years back:


snake.jpg Frasier.jpg

"The unexpected reunion of college friends produces an improbable combination of pretense and rocket-propelled grenades. Hilarious hijinks ensue."

Cancelled almost immediately, we'd have lasted a lot longer if those bastards over at Carvel Ice Cream hadn't yanked their sponsorship so suddenly.

YIPS from Steve: Dream on, buddy!

In the original incarnation, the character of "Robbo the LLamabutcher" was played by Tony Randall. You protested, so I spotted you a Crane: Niles Crane.

Do NOT try to fight destiny, amigo!

Posted by Robert at 04:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Calling In The Heavy Artillery

Who automatically springs to mind as the obvious spokesperson on the subject of busts?

Pamela Anderson, of course.

Posted by Robert at 04:34 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Yahoo Ker-Choo?

Has anybody else out there been having trouble with their Yahoo email? I can open it well enough, but about half the time over the past couple days I have not been able to answer.

Posted by Robert at 04:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Zoot and Dingo!


Today is the birthday in 1942 of Carol Cleveland, principal female member of the Monty Python gang and all around good sport, considering what they put her up to. (And, if I may say so, not too bad on the eyes.)

Here is her O-fficial website. Apparently, she's still acting and making the celebrity rounds. Lots of other interesting biographical information as well.

Now for the spankings....

UPDATE: Oh, and while we're on the subject, Carol Cleveland or Connie Booth? Discuss.

UPDATE DEUX: Link fixed. Yeah, Jonah should be so lucky....

Posted by Robert at 01:33 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

It's The Wonder Of Nature, Baybee!

Seriously cool video of a shark-eating octopus. I thought at the beginning that the octopus was just defending itself, but no, it's the aggressor.

Yips! to Jonah.

Posted by Robert at 01:13 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dee Cee Blog Meet Update

Thanks to the organizational skill of Moo-Knew's own Princess Cat, it looks as if the latest Dee Cee blog gathering is going to be the evening of Saturday, February 4. The place is still to be determined, but it will be Metro-accessible.

If you're in the area and would like to come, drop a line to the Tasty-Bits (TM) Mail Sack and we'll get you in the loop.

Yip! Yip!

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

In Vino Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!

You probably already think of screw-top and syntho-corked wine bottles as an abomination in their own right. But did you know that by using them more and more, bottlers are wiping out one of Portugal's primary bird habitats? Our pal Tim Worstall supplies the details.

So go ahead and pull that gen-u-ine cork. While you're at it, consider opening another bot. After all, you'll be helping the Earth Mother and her feathered little friends.

Posted by Robert at 12:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Football Follies

Anybody out there have a prediction about the Skins/Seahawks game tomorrow?

I'm not in any way on the Dee Cee B-A-N-D-W-A-G-O-N, however I wish them well. In general, though, I have to believe that a team coming off a wildcard win to face a rested opponent on the opponent's home field has got to suffer a disadvantage going in. Not saying they can't win, just that it's that much tougher.

I'm particularly sensitive about this as a Dolphins fan. Not only do we seem to have spent a lot of time in wildcard games in recent years, I'm reminded in particular of 2000, the last year of the Dan Marino Era. Miami had played their hearts out and defeated Seattle in the wildcard the week before. Then they went to Jacksonville. The result was one of the ugliest games in history and a horrible, horrible way for Marino to end his career. It still stings.

I gather that the Skins are not so banged up this year and that they didn't have to kill themselves in order to knock off Tampa Bay. Then again, I really haven't followed Seattle at all, so don't know what they're up against.

UPDATE: Not that the chances of my actually getting to watch the game are any better than a welk's in a supernova. I need to finish painting the Missus' study. And she has already bought the paint for the dining room. Then there are the Christmas decorations to get down, laundry and bedsheets to deal with, oh, and it's the youngest Llama-ette's fourth birthday. We're not actually having a party for another couple weeks, but she will, of course, be the center of family attention for the day.

Somebody let me know who won.

Posted by Robert at 11:06 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Appropriately Creepy Friday the 13th Posting

Victor Davis Hanson on our options in dealing with Iran. None of them look very appealing.

I have a feeling that the United States eventually is going to have to bring the hammer. I don't want this to have to happen, but I'm beginning to think it may be unavoidable.

Posted by Robert at 09:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 12, 2006

Joining the Queue Continuum

JohnL came up with this idea - list the movies in your Netflix queue and highlight the ones you have not seen before.

Thanks to the facts that a) I've only had a Netflix account for a couple months and b) I never clean out my email in box, I've actually got a complete record of my Netflixing activities right at my fingertips. So here goes. As always, I take the liberty to add commentary as I see fit:


* This is Spinal Tap - I think you have to be in a very specific mood for this. I also think you need to watch it many times to catch all the jokes. I frankly think I probably started too late to get everything.
* The Awful Truth - Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.
* Stop Making Sense
* The Italian Job
* High Fidelity - Box to your weight. Sound advice.
* The Commitments - What a great little movie. 'Mustang Sally' never sounded so good.
* Notorious
* Kind Hearts and Coronets- Not the greatest of Alec Guinness movies but pleasant enough.
* Being John Malkovich
* Rio Lobo - Not too bad, but I think the Duke did the same basic story better with Rio Bravo and El Dorado.
* Sixteen Candles - Actually, I've still never seen this movie all the way through. This pick was for the Missus.
* Breaker Morant
* To Catch a Thief
* His Girl Friday - Rosalind Russell. Rowwl!
* The Big Lebowski - I can get into the Dude.
* Jerry Seinfeld: I’m Telling You For The Last Time - Like watching 90 minutes' worth of the opening monologues from the show. Still pretty funny.
* The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai - It makes the ganglia twitch!
* Sideways- Cripes, what a lousy movie, after all the hype I'd heard. Pathetic people behaving badly and then whining about it.
* Firefly (the complete series) - Shiny!
* Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
* Ray - What a great film. I don't pay much attention to the Oscars as a rule, but I was delighted that Jamie Foxx got one for this.
* Hitch - I dozed off in the middle so can't tell you what I think.
* Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl - Well, certainly a lot better than the crappy Disney World ride.
* Star Trek: Insurrection - Captain Picard and the Lost Planet of Aging Baby Boomers.
* The War Wagon - This was the movie that convinced me John Wayne probably didn't like Kirk Douglas very much.
* Big Jake - Another one during which I dozed off.
* Grosse Point Blank - The second time I saw this I began to ask myself why I had thought Minnie Driver was all that originally.
* Dear Franky - Another one for the Missus. I didn't watch it.
* Ocean’s Twelve - The appeal of Julia Roberts continues to elude me.
* Frosty the Snowman - This DVD also included Frosty's Return, a sequel so awful that even the Llama-ettes complained about it.
* My Favorite Wife - Another Grant/Dunne vehicle, I was disappointed that this turned out to be just a warmed over version of The Awful Truth.
* The Horse Soldiers - Pretty good John Wayne Civil War flick.
* The Far Country - Solid Jimmy Stewart Alaskan frontier cowboy flick.
* So I Married an Axe Murderer - Head! Move! Now!
* The Lavender Hill Mob - Can't quite compete with The Ladykillers, but still a fun Alec Guinness/Ealing Studios production.
* Bandolero! - Jimmy Stewart and Rachel Welch. I mean, come on!
* Serenity- More shiny!
* Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith - Okay, I saw it. Don't feel the need to do so again.
* The Madness of King George - Not too bad, what, what?
* South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut - I had forgotten all about the international version of Cartman's "Kyle's Mom's a Bitch". Ha ha ha ha.
* The Man From Laramie - Not as good as some of the other Jimmy Stewart/Anthony Mann westerns IMHO, but still worth watching.
* Life of Brian


* Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
* The Talk of the Town - Cary Grant and Jean Arthur. I saw this once years and years ago and retain a good impression.
* Restoration - It's the reign of Charles II, so it HAS to be good.
* The Thin Man - I don't believe the Missus has met Nick and Nora Charles. She's in for a treat.
The Cowboys - This is the one where John Wayne leads a group of boys on a cattle drive. I've only seen it the once, but recall enjoying it.
* My Big Fat Greek Wedding
* Ferris Bueller’s Day Off - Is this not THE quintessential 80's flick?
* Three O’Clock High - It's been a while since I saw this, but I recall enjoying it a great deal.

There! If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged.

Posted by Robert at 11:06 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack


This is not good.

Posted by LMC at 08:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Book Posting - Young Person's Division

This may be kind of a long shot, but does anybody out there recall the name of a kid's book from years ago about a boy who gets involved in smuggling/guerilla operations in a boat on Long Island Sound during the Revolutionary War? I only remember the name of the boat, which was the Spindrift, but I think the book had some other name - The Devil's Something or Other, possibly.

This has been bugging me on and off for some time past. I'm reminded of it again because the eldest Llama-ette, who turns eight in March, has recently taken to reading for pleasure in a big way. She's in the midst of a series called Myth-O-Maniac by Kate McMullan, the premise of which is that Greek mythology has been spun by Zeus to make him look better. In these books, Hades tells things "the way they really happened" and in a modern tone. I was a bit skeptical at first, but the gel loves them. In addition, she's been fact-checking the author's ass, and has caught her out on some Olympian family connections.

I was just about the gel's age when I started reading in a serious way, too. And it is immensely gratifying to see her taking such an interest.

Funnily enough, all this ties directly to a certain trait of mine which has caused so many people reading this blog to roll their eyes from time to time.

Allow me to explain.

One of my favorite books from that age was Sid Fleishman's Bullwhip Griffin, the story of a young boy who runs away from his affluent Boston family to the California Gold Rush, and the faithful family butler who follows him in order to look after him. I must have read the book thirty times.

Well, finally I got to see Disney's 1967 movie version of it. I was terribly excited, not only because I liked the story so much but also because Suzanne Pleshette, one of my first crushes, was in it. However, when the big day came, I found that Disney had so altered the story as to make it almost unrecognizable to me.

I was crushed. And infuriated.

As regular readers will recognize, I still carry the scar tissue.

So, the next time I light into a screen adaptation of some favored book, you'll understand why.

UPDATE: I love the blogsphere! The book name I was groping for is Spies On The Devil's Belt by Betsy Haynes. As the name suggests, the story is about espionage, not actual fighting. (BTW, the book seems to have gone out of print.)

Aaahhh....I feel much better now.

Great big yips! to Amelie at for a breath I tarry for the assist!

Posted by Robert at 01:19 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Henry James Posting

(This one's for Mom, who did her Master's thesis on James.)

Terry Teachout's Girl in Chicago is posting today about What Maisie Knew and the theme of dissembled knowledge in James' characters.

I must confess that I've only read a little James myself. I never got the chance in college beyond a couple of short stories. And as his writing is so dense and therefore not really suitable for reading on the metro or when I'm half asleep late in the evening, I've more or less consigned him to the category of "Authors I Plan To Study Once I Retire And The Kids Have Moved Out".

Posted by Robert at 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Being David Hasselhoff

Baywatch Hasselhoff

You are Baywatch Hasselhoff. You're up for running around on the beach with hotties, as well as tanning, smiling, and being as buff and sexy as being Hasselhoff will allow. You also like to think that you've actually saved a few lives as a lifeguard; but that's just the product of some other, far more sinister, psychological "quirk."

Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

If this one doesn't bring Steve-O out of the woodwork, I dunno what will.

Yips! to Rex Ferric.

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

Resistance Is Futile

Phin's assimilation into the new fatherhood collective continues its relentless progress:

The largest part of these plans of course involved getting the nursery ready. Now three weeks ago we didn't have a nursery. I had an office / blog room, but we didn't have a nursery. I had a domicile of sanity and a place hide from the women that have overrun my home, but we didn't have a nursery. I had a room that laden with testosterone and free of Estrogen, but we didn't have a nursery. Now we do.

As the only man in a household of six females (if you count the two cats), I hear ya, brutha. But there is no escape.

I insisted that our library be a "manly" room, with dark green paint, my college oar and team photos up on the wall, decoys and the like on shelves, etc. But the effect is sabotaged by the two bookshelves covered with dolls and teddy-bears and the small table in one corner that the Llama-ettes use for drawing and coloring.

As for my fortress of solitude in the basement, the Missus makes me keep all the gels' videotapes there. This year, they figured out that by standing on a plastic seesaw, they could reach the latch at the top of the door and thus effect their entrance. I'm reduced now to insisting only that they don't touch my model ship building stuff, bar or cigars.

UPDATE: In the meantime, newbee papa Stephen Green comes up against what we used to call the "core-breach poopy". Check out his response.

Don't miss those days. No, sireee.

Posted by Robert at 09:47 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


The Divine Peggy on Alito's trial-by-bloviation:

Must he sit there bland-faced and unmoving as they say what they say? Yes, of course. Judge Alito and the White House know they have to let these men talk. They don't want the senators to feel resentful or frustrated. They know each senator feels he has to play to his base. They know the senators are, by nature, like Conair 2000 hairdryers: They just love to blow, and hard. Fwwaaaaahhhhhhhhh. And they know it is good, it is helpful, to let each senator reveal himself through his own words. I think senators feel that their words, when strung together, become little bridges. I think the White House feels that their words, when strung together, become little nooses.
Posted by Robert at 09:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


A possible Serenity sequel?

I like the idea but for one problem that I will stick below the fold for the benefit of anybody who doesn't want spoilage.

Yips! to Darth Puppy .

Oh, are you still here? Good.

Okay, here's the problem - I never understood why Wash had to be gratuitously whacked at the end of Serenity, and I didn't much like it. It had absolutely nothing to do with the plot and didn't lead anywhere. Shepherd Book, I could see, but not Wash.

So how can Serenity fly again without Wash at the controls? Just doesn't seem right.

Posted by Robert at 09:08 AM | Comments (31) | TrackBack


E-Ring's Kelly Rutherford. Best attributes: big brown eyes and nice lips. Very "not bad." Big break (courtesy of Mrs. LMC, the Final Authority on All Matters of Popular Culture at Fort LMC): Melrose Place where she played an ex-prostitute.

Posted by LMC at 07:27 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 11, 2006

Monty Python Gut-Check Time

Life of Brian or Holy Grail? Discuss.

Personally, I've got to go with Grail. And I think I figured out why this evening:
Brian is funny. Especially for us Latin Geeks, for example, the whole graffiti lesson bit is hysterical. But Brian also depends on many crowd scenes with lots of people shouting at each other. Grail, on the other hand, has far fewer characters and therefore lets individual Python members strut their stuff more, what, dramatically, Sir.

Anyhoo, that's MHO. What's yours?

UPDATE: Is it my imagination, or in one version of Brian did Pilate's wife come out of her room and start kicking arse on the rival kidnap squads? That bit isn't in Netflix's copy, but for some reason I seem to recall seeing it elsewhere.

UPDATE DEUX: Oh, and no write-in votes for Meaning of Life. It's not nearly in the same class.

Posted by Robert at 11:00 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack


Bush makes it tough to quit smoking, according to the ex- Mr. Madonna.

Posted by LMC at 09:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


AJ with child. One wonders how the competition is handling it.

Posted by LMC at 09:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Green-Eyed Monster Posting


Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, without further comment, the luckiest sum'bitch in all of broadcast journalism.



And don't think he doesn't know it:



Posted by Robert at 05:56 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Llama Movie Blegging

I'm scouting around for Movie Night With The Missus ideas. We tend to enjoy older romantic comedies, although we're not inflexible (I'm currently preaching the virtues of the classic western, for example).

Several times now I've considered picking up Bell, Book and Candle.

Anybody seen this? Opinions?


UPDATE: Oh, and I'm open to nominations for some good Clark Gable movies. Don't say It Happened One Night because we already own it. And don't say The Misfits, because I dislike Marylin Monroe.

Yip! Yip!

UPDATE DEUX: I forgot to mention that Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is on its way from Netflix. I checked it out once before but the DVD was cracked so I didn't get to watch it. The Missus is balking, I'm not totally sure why. Any positive reviews would bolster my hand in convincing her to give it a try.

Posted by Robert at 02:10 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Utterly Useless Royal Navy Geek Posting

Battle of Grand Port 2.jpg

Fans of Patrick O'Brian who have read The Mauritius Command, one of my favorite of the Aubrey/Maturin series, will recognize the name of Admiral Hamelin, the commander of the French squadron which defended the islands of Mauritius and Reunion against the British, and the victor of the Battle of Grand Port, August 23-24, 1810, (pictured above) in which a squadron of four British frigates was destroyed.

Well I happen to be in the midst of Anthony Brown's Ill-Starred Captains, the story of rival British and French missions in 1801 to explore the southern coast of Australia. The English ship, the Investigator, was commanded by Captain Matthew Flinders. The French expedition consisted of two ships, the Geographe and the Naturaliste. The Geographe was under the command of the expedition's commodor, Nicholas Baudin. But who should be the captain of the Naturaliste but M. Hamelin?

Even though these expeditions were carried out in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars, Britain and France both gave guarantees of safe conduct to each other's ships in the name of scientific enlightenment, a delightful practice. And, in fact, the expeditions ran into each other at Encounter Bay, South Australia in March, 1802. (I believe Brown's book was released to commemorate the 200th anniversary of this meeting. Here is a round up of bicentennary sites.)

It should be noted, though, that despite the pass they had been granted and although M. Baudin himself doesn't seem to have had anything to do with it, a number of the French officers and scientists used a winter re-fit stop at Port Jackson to spy on British military preparedness and sent on their findings to Boneparte with the idea of a French military descent on the colony. And ironically, Capt. Flinders was unjustly taken up as a spy when he put into Mauritius for repairs and held there for a number of years. (What role Hamelin might have played, I don't know. But Baudin was railroaded by his officers and crew (and died shortly thereafter) and Hamelin wound up in command of France's most critical Indian Ocean military assets, so you do the math.)

Anyhoo, just thought this was interesting.

Posted by Robert at 01:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Gary the Ex-Donk posts on a study about the physiological effects of sleep inertia and how long it takes the brain to wake up:

Finally, a study that makes sense. Sleep researchers have found that the our brains are so impaired by sleep intertia when we wake up that this state can be credibly compare to the effects of having stayed up all night or having a blood alcohol level of 0.08%.

According to the study, it can take anything from one to twenty minutes for the brain to reboot.

I don't know who the research subjects were, but speaking personally it takes my brain a hell of a lot longer than that. Most work mornings, I set the radio to wake me up about 5:25 AM or so. Then I need a solid half hour to forty five minutes of drifting in and out before I feel sufficiently competent to aim my feet at the floor.

Furthermore, it needs to be peaceful, uninterrupted time. On occasion, one or more of the Llama-ettes will burst in while I'm in mid-drift. On most days like that, I feel like I never really do wake up.

Posted by Robert at 12:20 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Marriage Blogging

Our pal Chai-rista recently got uncharacteristically gooey over hubby Pep and Lintenfiniel Jen is, of course, still awash in post-honeymoon bliss. This prompted me to remember one of my favorite little throw-away Python sketches (from one of my favorite Python episodes). Because I don't have much else to say at the moment, I post it for your enjoyment:

A man (Eric Idle) comes through a door with a neat little bride in a bridal dress. The man walks up to the registrar (Terry Jones) who is sitting at his desk with a sign saying 'Registrar of Marriages '.

Man: Good morning.

Registrar: Good morning.

Man: Are you the registrar?

Registrar: I have that function.

Man: I was here on Saturday, getting married to a blond girl, and I'd like to change, please. I'd like to have this one instead, please.

Registrar: What do you mean?

Man: Er, well, the other one wasn't any good, so I'd like to swap it for this one, please. Er, I have paid. I paid on Saturday. Here's the ticket. (gives him the marriage licence.)

Registrar: Ah, oh, no. That was when you were married.

Man: Er, yes. That was when I was married to the wrong one. I didn't like the colour. This is the one I want to have, so if you could just change the forms round I can take this one back with me now.

Registrar (aghast): I can't do that.

Man: Look, make it simpler, I'll pay again.

Registrar (more firmly): No, you can't do that.

Man: Look, all I want you to do is change the wife, say the words, blah, blab, blah, back to my place, no questions asked.

Registrar (stuffily): I'm sorry sir, but we're not allowed to change.

Man: You can at Harrods.

Registrar: You can't.

Man: You can. I changed my record player and there wasn't a grumble.

Registrar: It's different.

Man: And I changed my pet snake, and I changed my Robin Day tie.

Registrar (suddenly losing temper): Well, you can't change your bloody wife!

Man: Oh, all right! Well, can I borrow one for the weekend.

Registrar: No!

Man: Oh, blimey, I only wanted a jolly good...

A whistle blows. A referee (John Cleese) runs on, takes his book out and proceeds to take the name of the man in the registry office, amidst protests.

Heh. No matter how many times I see this, I still laugh.

Posted by Robert at 11:44 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 10, 2006

Question Alito!

I confess that I have paid somewhere between little and no attention to the Alito SCOTUS confirmation hearings. There is no real issue about the man's qualifications, so the Donks are pretty much left to political grandstanding, a game Alito doesn't seem inclined to play. Yawn.

On the other hand, as a concerned citizen, I feel it is my responsibility to participate in this process in at least some capacity. In that spirit, therefore, I offer


10. Yes or no - have you stopped beating your wife?
9. If you had a hammer, would you hammer in the morning or the evening and why?
8. What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
7. If God can do anything, can he make a boulder heavy enough that he can't lift it?
6. Where's the beef?
5. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could no longer get an abortion?
4. If you're us....what number are we thinking ? [* A movie quote. Bonus points if you can identify it.]
3. What's the frequency, Kenneth?
2. Are you better off than you were four beers ago? [Ted Kennedy only - stolen from David Letterman]
1. Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

UPDATE: Welcome Salon readers! We guarentee that no genetically modified materials were used in the creation of this bit of nonsense.

Posted by Robert at 02:20 PM | Comments (36) | TrackBack

My Name Is Robbo And I'm Here To Sing! Sing! Sing!

This is cool in a mortifying way. Type in some lyrics and let it do the rest.

Just at random, I tried the first five sets of lyrics that popped into my head:

"Oh, I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay"
"Spam, spam, spam, spam"
"Go stick your head in a pig"
"Choo Choo Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car"
"You ain't much fun since I quit drinking"

Yips! to Dave Barry.

UPDATE: "I'd like to hear some funky Dixie Land, pretty momma come and take me by the hand" - Ouch.

UPDATE DEUX: "Burn the land and boil the sea, you can't take the sky from me" - the Alliance may have a point.

Posted by Robert at 01:06 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation

I've frequently griped about the fact that Maryland drivers (UPDATE: I mean those in the Washington/Bal'mer corridor) are idiot lunatics compared to Virginians, but something else occured to me this morning when I noticed a Maryland vanity license plate: Whereas one sees many such plates issued by Virginia, one hardly ever sees them on Maryland cars.

Query - Why is this? It isn't the fee ($25 in Maryland as opposed to $10 in Virginia plus an annual $10 fee). It probably isn't the process (although in Maryland you have to mail in a form while you can do everything on line in Virginia). Is it some kind of Red State/Blue State phenomenon? Or is there another explanation?

Posted by Robert at 11:34 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

Today is the middle Llama-ette's sixth birthday. As is her wont when happy, she seemed to levitate around the house this morning several inches off the floor. Happy Birthday, indeed.

She's having a Build-A-Bear party this weekend. Why in Heaven's name the gel wants another teddy bear is beyond me - she has a whole Praetorian Guard of them now. However, considering the JonBenet Wannabe glamour parties that many girls her age seem to be having nowadays, I'm not grumbling too much at this innocent entertainment.

Posted by Robert at 10:42 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

More Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

I snapped off this piece last evening and have been hesitating about whether or not to post it. Even I recognize it as one of my geekier outbursts. Having slept on it I decided that I would go ahead and put it up, but in order to keep people like Bill from getting apoplexy, I'll put it below the fold.

You've been warned.

Following up on my earlier questioning about the musical selections for the movie Casanova, I stumbled across a listing for the soundtrack while over at Fausta's place.

Now I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, but my initial suspicions that the musical selections for the movie might not be the best representations of Venice in 1750 (when the action of the movie takes place) seem to be confirmed. Here are the listed composers:

Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751). He was Venetian, it's true, but we don't have any of his music from after about 1720. (Apparently, a good deal of it was lost in the Allied bombing of Dresden.) Thirty years was a long time, musically speaking, during that period.

Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713). I love Corelli, although I didn't remember hearing any here. However, he lived at least two generations before the time of the film and represented the high baroque, not the rococo.

Francesco Durante (1684-1755). I'm not familiar with his work, but a quick bit of research reveals he was a Neopolitan who concentrated on sacred music. Not really the thing for fun-loving, licentious Venice.

Leonardo Leo (1694-1744). Again, I don't know him. But again, he was a Neopolitan who wrote sacred and theatrical music.

Vicente Martin y Soler (1754-1806). Not only was he born after the time of the movie, he was Spanish (Valencia).

Giovanni Paisiello (1741-1816). He was from Taranto and specialized in Italian opera. Again, though, too late for action in 1750.

Jean-Phillipe Rameau - I had already mentioned him. Perhaps the closest composer to the spirit of the time, but again he was French.

Antonio Vivaldi - I already mentioned him.

Johan Helmich Roman (1694-1758). The timing is right, but the man was Swedish.

Incidently, Handel's name doesn't appear on the playlist. However, I swear I heard a snippet and there is a track marked "various composers", so he's probably in there.

Now I don't mean to be nit-picky about this (well, yes I do) and there's nothing wrong with any of this music in and of itself. But if you're going to set a story in a specific time and place, how much more difficult is it to figure out what the people of that time and place were likely to have heard in their palaces, concert halls and churches and use that?

Posted by Robert at 10:23 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


The now ex-quarterback of Virginia Tech's Fighting Gobblers, better known as the Hokies. This article from the local fish-wrapper tells it all, including the latest on a branishing charge. Marcus is the younger brother of Tech alum Michael Vick, quarterback for the Falcons. Unlike his brother, Marcus' record as an undergraduate has been one run-in with the law after another. I doubt he has much of a chance in the next NFL draft although KMR thinks he might be able to walk-on to some team and get paid the league minimum. But what do I know? I never played football and graduated from a college deep in Division III.

Posted by LMC at 09:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 09, 2006

Sooper-Sekret Message To Steve-O

It's Epiphany now. I think it's high time to take down the rest of the Kwistmakka decorations.

That is all.

Posted by Robert at 03:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dee Cee Blog-Meet, Round 2

Some of the gang from our last blogger encounter are talking about getting together again some time in the near future. I mention this here:

a) because I know there were some other local bloggersvolk who were interested last time but couldn't/didn't make it and might like to join in this time, and

b) because I can't seem to get my yahoo account to reply to emails at the moment. (So sooper-sekret message to Princess Cat, the Maximum Leader, Rocket Ted , Buckethead and Lysander: I'm up for it.

Anyhoo, if you're in the Dee Cee area and might like to meet up with this crew, shoot me a line. We're still sorting out dates, so now's the time to throw in your two cents.

Posted by Robert at 03:42 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Plum Blogging

Rachel has got some great P.G. Wodehouse links up. Go on over. Tinkerty tonk!

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

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

People frequently ask me, "Tom, what do you know about W. A. Mozart's children?"

I've always replied that I knew he had two sons who survived infancy, Carl and Franz, and that Carl had no musical talent whatever. Beyond that, I knew nothing else.

Well all that has changed thanks to Jessica Duchen, who last month reviewed a new CD by Barbara Bonney of 27 songs composed by Franz Xaver Mozart, the second of Wolfgang's sons. It's a fascinating little article. Apparently "Wolfie", as his mother called him, also composed some piano concerti.

According to Bonney, there's some genuine talent and potential in these pieces. Unfortunately, because of a combination of poor judgement (another family trait!) and the extended shadow of his father's reputation, Mozart Jr. was never able to make much of a name for himself.

Yips! to, well, Jessica Duchen.

UPDATE: Remember that Geraldo-like revelation that Austrian tee vee was going to air about the positive identification of Mozart's skull? Well, Al Capone's vault comes up empty again - the scientists involved admitted on the show that they couldn't prove anything.

Mozart's 250th year birth anniversary is only a few days old and already I'm sick to death of it. Feh.

Yips! to Taranto.

Posted by Robert at 01:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Google Fun - Macabre Edition

Turns out that we're the No. 4 search result for sudden death in llamas.

Of course, that's perfectly preposterous. Everybody knows that llamas live long, healthy li

Posted by Robert at 11:01 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Take That, JohnL!

Gary the Ex-Donk's innaugural 80's Crush Post subject? Erin Gray.

Hear, hear!

I agree with Gary that the episode of Buck Rodgers with the Vorvon was about as cheesy as they got. BUT, I would also point out that Wilma trying to bite Buck's neck while in the Vorvon's possession made a serious impression on my warped adolescent mind.

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

January 08, 2006

Dude! Where's My Weekend?

The painting bug has bitten the Missus again, so yours truly (Llamas are beasts of burden, after all) spent the day repainting her study from apple green to something Sherwin-Williams calls "papaya" but I would call a sort of orangishy yellow. I am absolutely certain that there is no such thing as a paint that will cover walls sufficiently in just one coat, whatever the manufacturers say. This S-W stuff is okay, but even with a coat of primer underneath, it's going to take two coats to finish properly. And after that, she's already making noises about changing the dining room to Wedgewood blue.

In making the Sabbath a day of rest, I believe God telegraphed to the Universe the fact that he wasn't married. If he had been, I'm sure Mrs. G. would have insisted he commit the day to honoring thy honey-do list.

So last evening, the Missus and I went to see a Heath Ledger movie that had nothing to do with gay cowboys. I can recommend Casanova to you for, if no other reason, the absolutely glorious scenes of Venice full of people walking about in mid-18th century costume. The movie is by no means a period piece, but rather, a modern romantic comedy dressed in olde clothing. But it's still fun - some snappy (although, as I say, modern) dialogue and clever situations, with a bit of swashbuckling thrown in - and the actors seem to be enjoying themselves. I was especially pleased to see Jeromy Irons looking like Death in Papal Purple as the sinister Inquisitor out to get the heroes. And again, the sets and costumes were terrific.

One thing I found interesting was the period music used. The opening and closing credits were accompanied by a dance from Dardanus, an opera written by Jean-Phillipe Rameau in the 1740's. The period is right, but Rameau was a frenchman writing for the Parisian audience. While his music might have been heard in Venice, too, I wouldn't select it to characterize the place for purposes of setting the stage for a story there. Ditto Handel - the inclusion of an excerpt from his Water Music struck me as completely out of place. There was a tad of Vivaldi, too. He was a native after all, but 1750 is really a bit late for him, and his music would be somewhat outdated for the story. Surely a bit of research could have drummed up an accessible Italian rococo composer? Like, say, Tartini?

Sorry, sorry. Guess the paint fumes are still floating around in my brain.


God: Hm, lessee.....Earth? Check. Sea? Check. Sky? Check. Plants and Animals? Check. Ah.....time to relax. Wonder if the game's on.

Mrs. G.: Dear, I'm really not happy with the color of grass. And you did promise another continent in the southern hemisphere so it wouldn't all look so unbalanced......

God: Oh, Me dammit!

Posted by Robert at 05:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 07, 2006


Drudge carries this on the Dems' plans for Alito.

UPDATE: Looks like this one has been dropped now that it has lost the element of surprise.

Posted by LMC at 10:23 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Gene Shalit taken to task for not following the party line on Brokeback Mountain. Translation: if you did not like the movie, you must be anti-gay.

Posted by LMC at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 06, 2006

Insert Evil Dad Laugh Here

Phin comes across what could be the ultimate tool for parental revenge on wayward children.

On the other hand, we were considerably relieved when we were able to eliminate diapers from the Llama household and I wouldn't want to have to go back to them.

On the third hand, it might be worth it just to see the Llama-ettes' reaction......

Posted by Robert at 05:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Madness of King George Posting


My comments last evening reminded me of this print by James Gillray, a prominant London political caricaturist of the period. Issued in 1791 and entitled "Wierd-Sisters; Ministers of Darkness; Minions of the Moon.” It is based on a famous contemporary depiction of the three witches from Macbeth, and illustrates George's principal ministers (Henry Dundas, Sec. of State for Home Affairs; William Pitt, Prime Minister; and Edward Thurlow, Lord Chancellor) pondering the waxing influence of Queen Charlotte as the King slumbers. (Charlotte was extremely protective of George during his illness and often worked in alliance with Pitt.)

I've always found this print to be a particularly good and visually effective piece of political commentary.

UPDATE: Our pal Rae drops a comment looking for period references. Delighted to oblige, Ma'am. Two books that I just pulled off my shelf are George III by Christopher Hibbert, and Prince of Pleasure by Saul David. The first is a straight-forward, well writted biography of the Farmer King and the latter is pretty honest about what an unpleasant character the Prince of Wales was, giving a great deal of information about his shabby treatment of Mrs. Fitzherbert.

All in all, I'd say Madness is fairly faithful to history, although it punches things up for dramatic purposes. Certainly Dr. Willis was a critical figure in dealing with George's symptoms - the business with the bounding and gagging is quite accurate. My only grumble would be that George tends to get short-changed by history, particularly among Americans. He was, in fact, quite intelligent and very engaged in his Crown duties. If George had a character flaw, it was his stubborness, a trait that drove the policies that led to the loss of the Colonies. However, he certainly can't be blamed or belittled (or lampooned) in any way for suffering from a condition that was hereditary and therefore quite out of his control.

Posted by Robert at 02:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


But instead we got Sirius and then this debacle comes along. To paraphase Jayne from Serenity: "this is beginning to damage my calm."

Posted by LMC at 07:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 05, 2006

"Red Meat! We Crave Sustenance!"

Red reposts an "expert" piece on how to grill a steak.

In general, I agree. But Cullen gets much too complicated. Here is all that you need to remember:

1. Get a cut of beef from the butcher at least two inches thick, preferably more. (As a rule, the prepackaged stuff out in the freezers isn't thick enough.) Make sure it is suitable marbled with fat.

2. Build up a really solid and searing-hot pile of charcoal. (I agree with the post that using anything other than charcoal will guarantee you a trip to Tartarus. Gas-pansy heathens!)

3. Once the coals are super hot, toss the steaks on the grill right on top of them. Count one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi. Flip. Repeat. Serve.

4. Remember, folks, if it isn't still moving, it isn't worth eating.

Posted by Robert at 11:39 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo?

Sorry for the light posting this week, friends. I've been crunching on a discovery deadline at work and Llama friends at the Bar know what that is like. And once I get home in the evening, I'm usually too tired for any coherent thought.

Howsomever, here are a few nuggets that might prove amusing to you:

- This evening I ran off The Madness of King George, which I haven't seen since it appeared in theatres twelve years ago. What a great movie. Great Britain in the late 18th Century is one of my favorite historical periods and this movie reenforces much of my own viewpoint, including the basic decency and intelligence of George III (despite his Hanovarian roots), the stuffy but solid loyalty of Pitt the Younger, the swinishness of the Prince of Wales and the bastard opportunistic vulturism of Charles James Fox and his squalid crew of hangers-on. My only real quibble with the film is that I think it overplays the loss-of-America angle. In addition, bear in mind that the King and his allies are the ones who, not too far in the future, take on and defeat the Corsican Tyrant. What, what?

- Speaking of movies, I finally saw Star Wars III this week. I'll agree with those who say it's the best of the recent cycle, although again I don't think that's saying very much. I'll also agree with those who say the transformation of Annikin into Darth Vader is pretty good, although I lost it when Vader, upon being informed of the death of Padme, threw his head back and yelled, "Noooooo!!!" I thought high camp was a Star Trek monopoly.

- Also speaking of movies, can anyone out there recall the name of a film about a doctor involved in some kind of intrigue during the Restoration? I've an idea Sam Neal was in it, although I'm not sure. What was its name? Was it any good?

- Well, as long as I'm on movies, I was musing today on the fact that the next movie in my Netflix qeue after The Madness of King George is South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Perhaps now you understand why I don't get much sleep: Zees way to the asylum, beetches!

- Oh, and speaking of doctors, I'm off to my physical in the morning. My doc happens to be something of a babe, which means that at least one rather hmm, ha, intimate portion of the exam could raise some very serious issues. I'll let you know how I navigate through those shoals.

- Yip! at you later!

Posted by Robert at 11:24 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Geez Louise.

Jennifer at All Things Jennifer (you know, it's Jenalicious!) is in some type of contest where you are supposed to come up with the description of your worst all time date. Her contribution is a doozy, although style points would be awarded if she was telling a story on herself (such as the time I got food poisoning from eating at a Subway before a date, and about two hours later, in the midst of said date, started doing a very good impersonation of The Exorcist, minus the talk about her mother and goats of course.....)

Yips! from Robbo: Surely you're not forgetting the Episode of the French Fries?

Posted by Steve at 05:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Reason No. 435 Why I Like Working In Dee Cee But Thank God I Don't Live There

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, has got its own federal holiday - this year on January 16 - and the District always has a parade to honor him.

Well this year, it was decided that mid-January is a nasty time to hold a parade, so a committee headed up by our own Marion "Bitch Set Me Up" Barry came up with an alternative date with warmer and more pleasant weather.

Their choice? April First.

And why? Because King was assassinated in April.

Ladies and Gentlemen, to me nothing says "classy" more than honoring a man by moving his parade to April Fool's Day and changing it from a birthday celebration to a murder reminder.

You just can't make this sort of thing up.

Yips! to Galley Slave Victorino Matus.

Posted by Robert at 01:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Mister Efficiency

I just crossed about 20 things off my to-do list this morning: a big backlog of crap delightfully crossed out.

I'm a compulsive list-maker, particularly to-do lists. Mind you, none of that "300 things I need to do before I kick" sort of crap, just lists of books, mainly, as well as things that happened on a particular date. I also anotate my date book calendar with cartoons and pictographs---little doodles of people for their birthday, the rotunda when I'm over at the UVa library, big weather events, random stuff. (As an aside---when I'm doodling myself, I draw me as a moose, not a llama. Yeah, I know: now you can die in peace!) Some days just feel more strongly connected to each other, not because of something monumental that happened then, but rather almost if the fabric of time, instead of hanging straight and vertical, was bunched up in certain places, kind of like a drapery. I know it's just the random synapses firing, but I've decided to enjoy it, rather than fight it.

I've kept the calendars going back now to 1989--I've got them all except for 1995, where I was pretty thorougly depressed. I also have one for 1986, where I wrote down all our crew workouts for a month. My only regret about college was that I didn't keep a calendar like I do now---it would be invaluable to have all that laid out in order.

This past year I started keeping the old to-do-lists in a file. It turned out to be great, because it has given me a chance to look back at the past year and spot where I was being effective, and where were the areas where I put things off. Also to note why certain things dropped off of the list entirely---was it sloth, or did it resolve itself?

On the LLamabookshelf at the moment is Quicksilver, the first book in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, and the pre-cursor of sorts to his epic Cryptonomicon. Whole. E. Cow. I'm about halfway through it (which means I'm around page 450) and it's unbelievably good. It's going to go onto the reserved shelf, along with The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum and Cryptonomicon as books to return to again and again.

The character of Enoch Root has infected my dreams.

Posted by Steve at 12:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Ever wonder why I'm so calm, cool and collected? It's the maté, dude.

Posted by Robert at 10:51 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


(Photo filched from CNN)

YIPS from Steve: I agree: wow. Two great nights in a row. Last night's game was a testament to poise, and Ess-Cee didn't have it. Two things stand out--Leinart's interception and Bush's fumbled flea-flicker at the end of the first half. 3rd Quarter they were solid, but they didn't put it away when they had chances to.

FURTHER YIPS from Steve: Was I the only one who saw this picture and thought

matthew getting run over by a truck.jpeg

Dude, that stoner actor guy Matthew something~ you know the one, he was doing that Law & Order chick from the bus before he was Mr. J-Lo for a week~ like, look out, he's about to be run over by a Frito truck.

Thanks to Sadie, who is orgling it up at her new blog Agent Bed Head. Which makes that her third blog by my count. I guess she's kind of like the new Wonkette, with manners, style and without that nasty itch three days later.

Posted by Robert at 09:32 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 04, 2006


The local fish-wrapper reminded me that today is Julia Ormond's birthday. In honor of her, we have that award-winning post done last year.

Posted by LMC at 09:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Since Steve-O and Robbo laid out their resolutions, so will I:
1. Timesheets: do them before I leave work every day. With the new year came a new title and an oppressive compensation schedule. Robbo should understand as a former private sector lawyer although all of those federal holidays and his every-other-Friday-off flextime may have fogged his memory.
2. Build up own book of business: adds independence.
3. Exercise: swim 3000 yards a day four days a week and run on the days I do not swim. I already have the swimming part down, now I have to focus on running.
4. "Girlie-girl" time for Mrs. LMC every week--at least half a day every weekend for her to do whatever she wants.
5. Read decent books--I have a book on John Adams I started a year ago and have yet to finish.

Posted by LMC at 08:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Once again, your humble LMC brings you another installment of the Babes Series in its many manifestations. Tonight's feature: Annabella Sciorra. Breakthrough movie: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Last decent movie: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Aging very gracefully with a decent role on CSI: Criminal Intent. Best features: dependable girl next door. As far as I can tell, no photo shoots in skin mags, movies on the estrogen channels, or experimentation of the more exotic sort.

Posted by LMC at 08:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 03, 2006

Mozartschlock Watch

Apparently, some Innsbruck lab, in a page torn out of the Geraldo-In-Al-Capone's-Vault book of hype, is going to (maybe) reveal the positive identification of Mozart's skull on Austrian tee vee:

Researchers say they will reveal the results of DNA tests on a skull believed to be that of Mozart in a film airing this weekend on Austrian television as part of a year of celebratory events marking the composer's 250th birthday.

The tests were conducted last year by experts at the Institute for Forensic Medicine in the alpine city of Innsbruck, and the long-awaited results will be publicized in "Mozart: The Search for Evidence," to be screened Sunday by state broadcaster ORF.

Past tests were inconclusive, but this time, "we succeeded in getting a clear result," lead researcher Dr. Walther Parson, a renowned forensic pathologist, told ORF. He said the results were "100 percent verified" by a U.S. Army laboratory, but refused to elaborate.

The skull in question is one that for more than a century has been in the possession of the International Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, the elegant Austrian city where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on Jan. 27, 1756.

Parson said genetic material from scrapings from the skull was analyzed and compared to DNA samples gathered in 2004 from the thigh bones of Mozart's maternal grandmother and a niece. The bones were recovered when a Mozart family grave was opened in 2004 at Salzburg's Sebastian Cemetery.

Hmph. While the scientific discovery is interesting in itself, the way it's being served up is, IMHO, a lot of hooie.

Incidently, the picture CNN used to accompany the article says everything about the hype surrounding this year's celebration of Mozart's birth - it isn't even close to contemporary and doesn't look a thing like any of the portraits painted of him during his lifetime. Instead, it's simply "moderately handsome generic composer guy". The real Gangrl, frankly, was not very good looking, as this German Wikipedia collection of portraits indicates. Feh.

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

This Is Good. Stop.

John at Spitbull notes the possible parallels in literary merit between text-messaging and telegraphy, a subject about which I ordinarily might not be that interested, except that (in addition to mentioning Evelyn Waugh's aping of telegraphy styles in Scoop) he uses it as an excuse to quote an extremely funny passage from one of the best of P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie and Jeeves novels, Right Ho, Jeeves!

Wodehouse used telegram gags in other stories as well, but nowhere as extensively (or humorously) as here. If I remember right, there is another telegram exchange between Bertie and Gussie Fink-Nottle in this one involving ham and sausages relevant to modern encryption issues.

Posted by Robert at 05:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Today in History

George Washington at the Battle of Princeton by Charles Wilson Peale

Today is the anniversary, in 1777, of the Battle of Princeton, in which Gen. Washington, following up on his post-Christmas Day victory over the Hessians at Trenton, made another suprise move against the forces of British Gen. Cornwallis. The battle did not mean all that much tactically, but in terms of strategic value, particularly for morale, it (along with Trenton), was of immense importance to the Americans.

I bring this up because I just finished David McCullough's 1776, which I found to be a good popular treatment of the first year of Washington's command of the Continental Army which, after starting with a surprise victory over the British at Boston, damn near ended in complete disaster for the cause of independence. McCullough makes no bones of the fact that much of the blame for the horrid American defeats in and around New York that summer and fall can be laid squarely at the feet of Washington's inexperience and indecision. What is truly remarkable was Washington's ability to rally and pull victory out of the jaws of defeat.

UPDATE: Speaking of McCullough's book, Peter Robinson just finished it to and started a bit of conversation over at the NRO Corner yesterday about why Washington did not fire on Boston after he captured Dorchester Heights in March, 1776. Click and scroll.

UPDATE DEUX: Today also happens to be the anniversary of the birth of some guy named J.R.R. Tolkien, of whom I've vaguely heard. Red has got it covered with some seriously interesting excerpts from his correspondence. Also, if you haven't been following the Tolkien Geek, what better day to start?

Posted by Robert at 02:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mens Llama In Corpore Llamo

I'm going in for a routine physical on Friday. I don't expect anything to be out of the ordinary, but I'm counting on the doc to yell at me about exercising more.

You see, I belong to a pretty good gym in the building. But I fell off the exercise wagon some time back and don't feel that I can show my face there until I've first done some work in private, i.e., at home. This, in turn, is tough because the only time I have to do it is in the evening after the Llama-ettes have gone to bed.

Every guy to whom I've explained this predicament understands completely. Every woman thinks I'm insane.

The doc is a woman. I'm hoping she'll provide sufficient energy of activation to get me back off my llama duff.

Posted by Robert at 12:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Back to Work!


Busy morning getting back into the swing of things. So here are a few random thoughts floating through my brain. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves or to add your own observations:

- Take a wild guess as to which morning over the past ten days the Llama-ettes chose to sleep in. As the old comic strip said, "They'll do it every time."

- Yo Coloss! I don't give a damn whether the Pats cared about the game or not. We won. My rule is that any season in which the Fins take at least one game off the Pats is a good one.

- And speaking of football, Hook 'em, Horns!

- We had a genuine thunderstorm here in Northern Virginia last evening. I would swear that cold-weather thunder sounds different from the summer variety and would guess it has something to do with the effect of temperature and/or humidity on the way sound waves travel through the atmosphere.

- And speaking of weather, who in the world ever came up with the idea of outdoor grilling as a summer activity? Personally, I hate standing over the ol' Weber when it's 90 degrees out. Give me a good, crisp evening for firing up the charcoal.

- I didn't do a retrospective of 2005 because I can't really remember what happened. By the same token, I won't offer any resolutions for 2006 because I can't think that far ahead.

- JohnL is promising to bring back his SciFi Babes Poll. This is good. The LMC and I were discussing the babes of Firefly over New Year's Eve. He's a Zoe fan, but I can't get overly enthusiastic about a woman who could kick my backside up one side of the block and down the other without even breaking a sweat.

- I continue to enjoy Netflix but my postman seems to have developed a talent for losing DVD's. If I report too many more MIA's, I'm afraid Netflix is going to start charging me for them. Most recent viewing - Jimmy Stewart in The Far Country, one of a number of westerns he made with Anthony Mann. They're really worth watching if you haven't seen them before. I've been mulling doing a longer post comparing Stewart's troubled loner character with, say, Clint Eastwood's typical Angel of Vengence and John Wayne's sociable lion.

- Next movie in the qeue? Star Wars: Episode III. Yes, I'm going to watch it just so I can say I finished out the series. The consensus seems to be that it's the best of the recent batch, but that's not saying very much.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that over the break I also caught a couple episodes of Rome on HBO and, in general, I think it's pretty good - closer to I, Claudius than Gladiator, but with much more vir in the via subplotting and superior production values. However, I was disappointed that Caesar didn't get to mutter, "Et tu, Brute?" when they waxed him. The other thing about the show is that I believe the animated graffiti and art work in the opening titles are a direct rip-off of (or maybe tribute to) the closing credits to A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.

Posted by Robert at 10:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Advice for the father to be

Phineas.....Phineas....Phineas.......and somehow he lived to tell the tale.

Somehow, though, I think the long arm of Margi is going to reach out and smack him down.

Posted by Steve at 08:31 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 02, 2006

Cartoon Characters Gone Bad

I noticed this story from the LATimes about Sony running into some flak for using graffit-style "stealth" advertising to flog PlayStations in Philadelphia.

What really got my attention, though, was the fact that the graffiti seem to perfectly depict Dora the Explorer as a psychotic waste-o'd teenager:


"C'mon, Boots! Vamanos! Swiper took our ludes! Gonna cut him real baaaad this time!"

Posted by Robert at 05:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

Overheard in the kitchen this afternoon as the Missus was putting the seven year old's hair into pigtails:

Llama-ette: "Ow! Oooooow!! Moo-oom, you're killing me!"

Missus: "Not yet."

Heh, indeed. Think we're ready for Christmas break to be over?

Posted by Robert at 04:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM) - Part Two

Despite the inclusion of one of my least favorite pieces of music (see below), yesterday's church service also featured what I consider the stuff to give the troops.

It may or may not be a coincidence that this month marks the 250th anniversary (on the 27th) of the birth of Mozart, but the offeratory anthem was the first movement of his Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165, written in 1773 and first performed in Milan on January 17 of that year. According to my handy-dandy Grove, Mozart wrote the piece for Venanzio Rauzzini, a famous castrato of the time. Here is what the Palm Beach Symphony says about it:

Mozart wrote the motet Exsultate, jubilate during a three-week period in early January, 1773, while he was in Milan for the premiere of his opera Lucio Silla. The motet is the only regularly-performed work that is representative of Mozart's early Italian vocal style, even though the text is in Latin. Mozart himself designated the work a motet, although it has also been called a solo cantata and a vocal concerto. Moreover, the character and sequence of the movements are the same as the Italian sinfonia of the time.

The motet was written for the castrato Venanzio Rauzzini (1747-1810), who had sung the leading role in Lucio Silla. Rauzzini had come to Milan from Munich, where he had been a leading singer at the electoral court. He left Milan in 1773 and moved to England, where he was active as a singer, a teacher of singing, and a concert promoter. He finally settled in Bath, where Haydn visited him in 1795.

The first performance of Exsultate, jubilate took place on Sunday, January 17, 1773, in the church of San Antonio Abate (St. Anthony the Abbott.) The church--which still stands today at Via San Antonio 5--was at that time associated with a religious order called the Theatines. For this reason, many sources give "Church of the Theatines" as the location of the first performance. Since January 17 was the feast day of St. Anthony the Abbott, the service was likely celebrated with special pomp. Exsultate, jubilate was probably sung after the Credo of the Mass, the normal position for a work of this nature. It does make vague allusions to the Nativity, even though the first performance took place after the Christmas season had ended. The author of the text is unknown. A setting of Exsultate, jubilate by Giovanni Battista Porta is mentioned in the list of Munich court music of 1753; this work has been lost. Rauzzini may have brought the poem with him to Milan.

I'd not heard this piece before. What struck me most about it was that, despite the fact that he was seventeen when he wrote it, there are a number of stylistic elements quite recognizable in his later operatic work - fiendish long runs and big intervals that immediately reminded me of, for example, Cosi fan Tutte. As is often the case, I found myself smiling at the thought of what must have been going through Gangrl's mind as he served up these passages - many of his works were written with specific performers in mind, and Mozart loved to tease them.

I should also mention that this was the first performance of our new lead soprano, the previous one (who had a voice like Billie Burke's Glinda, the Good Witch of the North), having moved on. The new woman has a nice voice, but hasn't yet got the knack of making her Mozart look and sound effortless, a style point I've always thought to be very important in performing his work. Each time she came up on a difficult passage, she got a worried look in her eyes, like a rider coming in at a big jump, and you could see her bracing herself for it. However, I'm happy to report that she managed to get through without Mozart running away on her.

Posted by Robert at 12:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM) - Part One

Yesterday morning at church, we were compelled to sing "Go Tell It On The Mountain". This was the third time in the past couple weeks it has appeared in the service. To make matters worse, the assistant rector - who is one of the sweetest and most well-intentioned women I know - suggested that congregants might sway or even shout out if moved by the Spirit.

Needless to say, there was neither swaying nor shouting.

I tell you truly that there is nothing so aesthetically absurd as Episcopalians, accompanied by a full-sized pipe organ, singing spirituals. We just don't have that swing. It just doesn't work.

There is also something tacky about it, especially in Virginia of all places, smacking as it does either of historical amnesia or else limousine-liberal condescension, I'm not totally sure which. When we first got to this area, we attended a church in Reston that made no bones about its with-it progressiveness. A young seminarian from Kenya came to visit one Sunday. Apparently in an effort to Say The Right Thing, the program contained a number of spirituals, including - I distinctly remember - "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot". Every time we sang one, I noticed members of the congregation smiling at the seminarian and making encouraging little body language signals to show that They Understood.

The poor seminarian, for her part, really had no clue as to why this was happening. She managed, nevertheless, to maintain a polite if puzzled smile throughout, for which she gained a tremendous amount of respect from me.

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

Gratuitous New Year's Posting

I started out the year 2006 by backing my car straight into our Llama Military Correspondent's rear bumper, his car being parked in our driveway owing to our families having celebrated New Year's Eve together.

Dunno what this portends, but I thought you'd like to know.

Posted by Robert at 11:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

So far, Stevie likey 2006

The quick and dirty sports roundup:

Skins into the playoffs---Kornheiser has the last word (and the word is B-A-N-D-W-A-G-O-N)

Apparently, it's not easy being Matt Leinart. Phew, because I was getting worried. Still, we've got a little side bet going here over the Rose Bowl (the loser is the one whose LLama winds up with all the weird crap happening to it during the holiday promotional pshops.)

No surprise here. But it would be funny to hear him in the promotional videos speaking about his formative time at "THEEEEEEE Ohio State Penitentiary." That said, I'm still going with the Buckeyes tonight against Notre Dame---I know, I know, that means I'm going to get harassing emails from the Colossus from now until the second coming, but hey, I've got to live my own life, you know? My problem with Notre Dame football stems back to the vile Lou Holtz, and is extremely ingrained. It also probably is because I'm an ingrate, and my dad is a golden dome fan, so insert your dimestore Freudian analysis here. This goes against my usual tendency to root for major college football teams via their political science departments: for example, I'll root for any team to beat Michigan State any day, as their political scientists are a bunch of knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers, who train chimps to input data into regressions, and then loudly pound their hairy fists on the podium at conferences and, knitting their large, crow magnon brow into a nasty furrow, bellow "WE GOTTTUM DATA!" Which is the main reason why I'm going with USC in the Rose Bowl: not only do they have the same uniforms as they did when I was a kid, (and they would beat up on Notre Dame when I was a kid), how can you not love a political science department that could be the Andulsian dream home of hard core behavioralists living and working side by side with institutionalists? A department that could produce a Rusty Shackleford AND a Professor Chaos?

Plus, how can you like a team where Mr. Potato Head is the coach?
charlie weiss is mister potato head.jpeg mr potato head.jpeg

Is it me, or is it just uncanny?

Anyhoo, if you'd like to follow the virtual Tostitos Bowl, be my guest.

Posted by Steve at 09:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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