February 28, 2006

Good To Go

Well, I'm all set to head out on my latest outing on behalf of Father Justice.

From a blogging point of view, it's infuriating that I can't tell you more about what I do. There's so much choice material just begging to be used but, alas, Propriety issues an unequivocal nyet whenever I make the suggestion. Oh, well. Perhaps I'll take the John Mortimer route - saving up my impressions and some day turning them into a wildly popular series of short stories and tee vee shows.

In the meantime, I can at least tell you that I am off to the Gulf Coast, where the daytime highs for the rest of the week will be in the mid-70's. All I have to say to my fellow Dee Cee area residents is neener, neener! I'm sure that when I get back, even nodding to the authority of Propriety, I'll have plenty to say about Gulf shrimp (the only kind worth eating), the smell of Spring in the air, and (of course) my perennial terror of flying.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to be up at 4 ack emma to make my flight. Be good, comment muchly and I'll yip at you when I get back this weekend.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 10:59 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Last enigma codes cracked!

Holy-freakin' cow this story is cool.

I'm a Bletchley Park geek----I love all the stories about the Enigma program, even if it did produce one of the truly craptastic movies of the last decade, U-571.

There was a bit of let down, however, when the "cleartext" was finally revealed:

ACHTUNG! ACHTUNG! Luft Stalag 13 wird von den American Kommando Saboteurs eingesickert, die als POWs aufwerfen! Unter Oberst Klinks aquiline schnozzel wreaking Oberst Hogan und seine fröhlichen Plünderer Verwüstung auf unseren Zügen, Flächen und Autobahns!

Plus, üben sie Fördermaschinelandungen auf unseren frauliens, wenn Sie meinen Antrieb erhalten!

Anyhoo, ließ uns etwas über dieses tun.

Liebe und Küsse Admiral Donitz

Posted by Steve at 09:07 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. James Lileks

This gem from Lileks' bleat today about the history of Texaco's brand logo was so funny that I had to reproduce it here:

Mal Texaco.jpg


And all the more so because I remember these cards myself.

Posted by Robert at 04:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Is It Just Me?

Or is Blogsnot taking a looooong time to load up sites today?

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

The intersection of bankruptcy and probate

Anna Nicole Smith. 'Nuff said.
UPDATE: the grieving widow.

Posted by LMC at 03:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Biiiizzzzy Note


Not so much of the Tastee Bits (TM) from Robbo for the rest of the week. I'm finishing up various projects this afternoon and then hit the road on bidness before dawn tomorrow morning. Probably a bit more silliness today and then I'm off the air until the weekend.

(Sooper sekret message to Steve-O and the LMC: That's your cue.)

Posted by Robert at 02:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Conversations With WordPerfect

WP: You know, I think that parenthesis would look better a bit more to the left.
Me: No, it's supposed to line up with all the other ones above and below it. That's why I put it there.
WP: You're so square. Sure you don't want to liven things up? C'mon - give it a try!
Me: Stop that!
WP: Speaking of that, how about I make a line disappear, throwing off your entire formatting? And the kicker is - I'll do it after you've saved!
Me: (*&@#*($&(*#$!!
WP: Hey, I'm only trying to help. You'll thank me later.

Posted by Robert at 02:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When Worlds Collide


I know it's going to provoke an outburst of foam-flecked outrage from Steve-O, but I watched a bit of Independence Day last evening and, try as I might, I just can't make myself not like this film.

For one thing, you've got to give some creds to anything that brings together Jayne and Data (and President Roslin, for that matter). There's a cosmic message in there somewhere, although I don't know exactly what it is.

For another, I thoroughly enjoy the fact that this flick begs, borrows and steals every single one of its ideas, from its original War of the Worlds premise to President Witmore's Henry V pre-Agincourt speech, right down to Jeff Goldblum's "Must go faster" line from Jurassic Park.

Steve-O's primary sore spot always seems to have been the crash scene at the end filched lock, stock and barrel from The Right Stuff. But again, I look on this as a source of amusement, not annoyance.

In all this, of course, I assume that Roland Emmerich's plagiarism was meant to be transparent and that he could not possibly have been thinking of passing these ideas off as his own without anybody noticing. It would be a different matter entirely if I thought he was trying to scam the audience.

One of these days, I'm going to sit down and catalogue all the riffs. I'll bet I could easily break a hundred.

[Insert Steve-O rebuttal here.]


The craptastic nature of this movie buggers the imagination, as well as a herd of scrawny goats.

I would completely disagree with the Director's intentions: he wasn't doing a subtle homage to The Right Stuff, he was ripping it off. Worse, he doesn't even really seem to be aware that he's ripping it off: he's like some pimply-assed sophomore on a three day ritalin and Mountain Dew bender cranking out a term paper at the last minute by randomly cutting and pasting scraps from the internet. Spaceship crash? Steal this camera shot. It goes on and on. Worse, still, the one work ripped off the most from was Battlestar Galactica and while you could get away with that now and call it campy or retro or whatnot, in 1996 when the movie came out it was just stolen parts, like Magnum's Ferrari chop shopped to trick out a Datsun B-210. What in that movie hadn't been done before, somewhere else, better? Whether for drama or comedy? The only thing I can think of is the aggressive-uppity First Lady getting whacked plotline, that together with The American President resulted in The Left Wing's liberal fantasy of President Bill Clinton with a conscience and a properly siloed organ of office, with Hillary either dead (as in ID4 and TAP) or somehow more Rizzoesque.

The movie didn't advance the genre at all either through a new type of plot twist or by satire. It was just a big bag of stinking 4th of July pre-sold blockbuster product-placement junk of a used-Jeff Goldblum celluloid condom. It fails the Orenthal James Simpson test, too: ask yourself, if O.J. hadn't severed his wife's head and the head of a random civilian, would he have had a part in it? And the answer is clearly "yes."

I'll side with Jen, too---this is one of a sad group of movies that, post 9-11, become unbearably unwatchable. If you don't know what I mean, try watching Godspell, and if that's not enough to make you go vomit I don't know what is.

What could have improved it? Could it have been saved?

My answer to you: absolutely. No horrible movie is beyond redemption into a Truly Bad Film (TM). But that would have required

President Kurt Russell

(I'm too tired and distracted right now to properly link-litter the review with appropriate IMDB.com linkies.)

Yips! back from Robbo: Ladies and Gents, even in the midst of shaking off the after-effects of a three day Robitussin bender, Steve-O never fails to deliver. Yips, indeed.

UPDATE: Thanks to regular reader Utron, it's 40 Things I Learned From ID4. Pretty good and no, I hadn't seen these before.

Posted by Robert at 09:52 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack


Lloyd the Library Llama sings the Blogga Song.

Yips! to Phin.

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

Somebody alert Arlen Specter

Apparently, Liz has been indulging her snuff films fetish, and has found that indeed-y the magic bullet could have in fact done what it was said to have do.

But who really benefited?????

And if forensic porn isn't your gig, she follows that with today's installment of "What not to pierce."

Liz, someone needs to make that required reading on campus, as we are at the point of the academic year I like to refer to as "The NASTY Days." Not Nasty in a Macktabulous way, mind you: rather nasty in the "I haven't done laundry in six weeks because I'm, like, completely depressed over mybreakupwithChadhe'ssuchaskankallmenareevil (DEEP BREATH) and so yes, I'm wearing pajamas to class and yes, flannel has a way of absorbing the odor, and yes, I've been drinking a lot of beer lately, but HEY check out this new piercing!" sort of way.

Posted by Steve at 09:31 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

LLamabutchers: The SobekPundit Interview

We found time during our busy pre-Oscar OrgleBack Mountain press tour to sit down with SobekPundit---the angry underworld crocodile god of the blogosphere.

Let's just say jailarity results (and INDCent Bill winds up getting kicked in the pills).

Yeah, so Confederate Yankee gets profiled in the Washington Post the same day---but come on, would you rather grace the same esteemed pages as Dana Milbank and Tony Kornheiser, or subject yourself to the Sobek Treatment (TM)?

(SOOPER SEKRIT NOTE TO ROBBO--fire our frickin' publicist! Geez.)

A RANDOM ASIDE: Kathy the CakeEater would smile to know: my computer has been acting all, well, wrong since Sunday. All I was doing was photoshopping her favorite pic of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy into those skankeinous pictures of Paris Hilton and Val Kilmer, which I was then going to put up on her site while she was gone. The machine crashed midstream, and hasn't been acting right since. Serves me right, no?

OH, AND ONE OTHER THING: We need to schedule an intervention: Miss Sadie's ongoing effort to audition to replace Wonkette not that Ana Maria Cox has decided to go acoustic has just got to stop. Although, I've got to hand it to her for her google chumming triple axel/lutz/salchow for getting:

Ashton Kutcher "man chowder" blasted on Oprah face
ejaculate not a low calorie snack food
Dubai Ports takeover U.S. Coast Guard concerns

within 100 words of each other. Even Dick Button would concede the stylish grace to that combination! If that's not enough to submit your ideas for AskAgentBedHead, I don't know what is.

Posted by Steve at 08:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 27, 2006

The Cat's Mee-OOOOW!!!

I'm of mixed opinion about this: Kircher's Cat Piano, the invention of a 17th Century Jesuit scholar with an apparent sadistic streak and too much time on his hands. Yes, it's cruel and yes it's pointless, but at the same time....well they are cats after all......

I think some enterprising composer should write a duet for this instrument and Arthur Ewing's Mouse Organ:

Mouse Organ.jpg

Yips! to Lynn S.

Posted by Robert at 04:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

You Are Boston

Both modern and old school, you never forget your roots.
Well educated and a little snobby, you demand the best.
And quite frankly, you think you are the best.

Famous people from the Boston area: Conan O'Brien, Ben Affleck, New Kids on the Block

What American City Are You?

Where would bloggers be without silly little quizes?

Yips! to Austin Boy Rex Ferric. (As an aside, it's too bad Chuy's doesn't deliver to the East Coast....)

UPDATE: Just by way of clarification, no, I've never lived in Boston, although I've visited many times and it's always been one of my favorite places. Indeed, one of high points of my life was almost getting the crap beat out of me at the Lars Anderson Bridge over the Charles River by a gang of Holy Cross heavyweight oarsmen who were none too happy about what a fellow crewbie of Steve-O's and mine had said about their mommas', em, easy lack of virtue.

Posted by Robert at 01:50 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Get Me PETA, Stat!

The Sinner sends us this ghoulish news about how certain Bolivian miners kick off their Carnival celebration:

Simply to say thanks for staying alive for another year, the Oruro miners who eke out a living from abandoned state mines cut the hearts from llamas in a ritual offering to Mother Earth and Tio, who among Aymara Indians is the mythical owner of the mines.

And people wonder why we spit.

Posted by Robert at 01:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

I Got Nothin'


Busy weekend, busy day. My creativity seems to have dried up temporarily.

Don't worry, the rains will come.

UPDATE: I did just want to give props to the LMC's Future ROTC Scholarship Candidate, who visited us with his mom and sister this weekend. The Saturday afternoon diaper change I administered represented one of the high points of the Llama-ettes' collective young lives. Agog ain't in it.

Posted by Robert at 09:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 25, 2006

Quote of the night

From The Dear One, walking out of the Best Buy:

You had me at "wireless 10-key numeric pad.

And who said being married to an accountant is not living la dolca vitae?

Upshot: she's finally signed on to the wireless router idea. All together now: woo hoo!

So the next question: DSL, or cable? I have my preference, but for some reason she is much more willing to hear from total strangers than me.

Maybe that's because she has eleven years track record on me.....

Posted by Steve at 11:30 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Dee-Cee Blog Meetup Plan

What would folks say to doing a blog meetup for a Nationals game---bleacher seats, cold beer, throwing peanuts at INDC Bill.....

Possible dates:

Sat/Sun May 20/21 against the O's. (Saturday is a night game, Sunday an afternoon)

June 16, 17, 18 against the Yankees. (Friday-Sunday)

The O's game would be a great local rivalry---certainly the chance to have rude signs making fun of Peter Angelos. The Yankees game.....well, it would be a chance to lure quite a few folks of the Yankees persuasion.

Let me know what you think.

Posted by Steve at 11:25 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


barney fife prophet mohammad cartoons.jpg

Don Knotts, 1924-2006

SPOOOOOOOOOKY WEIRD SYMBOLIC NIGHTSTALKER UPDATE: Kolchak's last words: "Barney Fife survives......."

Posted by Steve at 07:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

An intervention is in order

Our old pal Gary apparently has a thing for, ummm, Wonder Woman. I guess it could be worse: I get the distinct feeling when it's time to play adult dress-up at Stately X-Donk Manor that Gary gets to play Major Steve Trevor, and not, thank Havarti (blessed be its smoky flavor) WW herself.

There's a golden lariot of truth/bondage joke in there that even I don't want to reach for.

Anyhoo, head over and be the judge yourself: all I can say is Lynda Carter couldn't hold a candle to Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. Now there's a twofer for the Crush Vault.

Posted by Steve at 10:15 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 24, 2006

A Little Help?

Go and shoot some zombies and then come back and tell me how. I can't stop the first wave of them.

On behalf of the rest of the living, I thank you in advance.

Yips! to Gary the Ex-Donk.

Posted by Robert at 05:55 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Picture of the week

submit to havarti.JPG
MMMMMMMM.....Havarti. Nothing quite like Havarti and a sharp chicken salad on a French roll with honey mustard.

And yes, when I heard the Golden Dome was blown up, my first thought was "Crikey, those frickin' Michigan Staters have gone stark bloomin' mad!"

Posted by Steve at 04:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Two! Four! Six! Eight! Who Got Tricked And Opened Their Gate?

Eugene Volokh has an interesting post up about the origin of the U.S.C. Trojans nickname. Two words: Lou Zers.


Posted by Robert at 04:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


I've been following the story of Kennewick Man in a casual way since his bones first surfaced in 1996 near the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. Now some new information has been released regarding his death:

Researchers have disagreed over whether Kennewick Man was buried by other people or swept up in a flood and encased in sediment.

[Douglas Owsley, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History,] concluded the man was deliberately buried, between two and three feet deep, his body placed in the grave, head slightly higher than feet, hands placed at his sides.

The location was riverside, with the body parallel to the river and head pointing upstream.

The article also reveals some interesting details about a spear-point that was embedded in Kennewick Man's hip:

Using an industrial CT scanner, Owsley was able to study the skeleton in fine sections and also get a better look at a spear or dart point imbedded in Kennewick Man's hip.

The point has previously been described as a Cascade point, typical of the region, but Owsley said that is not the case. Cascade points tend to have two pointed ends and are sometimes serrated, he said, while the point in Kennewick Man has a pointed end and a stem.

The spear or dart entered the man from the front, moving downward at a 77-degree angle, Owsley said. Previous analysis had indicated it might have hit from the back, he noted.

The point was not the cause of death, he said, saying, "This is a healed injury."

Kennewick Man is thought to be roughly 9000 years old. When his remains were first discovered, the local Indian Tribes took legal action to try and block their scientific study in order, it was argued, to see that they were properly buried in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

The trouble is that Kennewick Man does not appear to have any connection with these tribes. Indeed, from what I have seen, his discovery has the potential to significantly shake up a great many assumptions about human migration into the Western Hemisphere.

Posted by Robert at 03:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


How to tell your shelf life as a celebrity has expired.

Blech. She would have been, what, four when he made Top Gun?

Posted by Steve at 01:27 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

A regular Jack Aubrey he aint

Robbo always likes to complain about Russell Crowe being chosen to play Lucky Jack Aubrey, but it could've been worse: can you imagine Aubrey smacking a Frenchman with a manila folder?

Then he would turn, do that look down through his tastefully tousled hair, and wrly slip,

"I love the smell of moisturizer in the morning: it smells of victory."

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

The Man In The Brokeback Hat

Dean Dad writes a freshman comp-style comparison of Curious George and Brokeback Mountain that's as amusing for its style as it is for its substance.

Yips! to Joanne Jacobs.

Posted by Robert at 01:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Chai-rista has a dream

We can all help her in her quest to google chum her way to immortality.

And yes, I did mean that spelled with a "t".

Posted by Steve at 01:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Seeing Double

This one is for the LMC's consideration:

To Keep Twins In Same Class, Parents Seek Legislators' Help.

The article tracks efforts in various states to get what amount to parental choice statutes passed to give parents greater input in the decision whether their twin children are put in the same classroom or split up (as seems to be the common practice).

My first reaction was to wonder why on earth something like this actually needs to be legislated - surely these are matters that can be worked out on a reasonable case-by-case basis between parents and schools? But no, reading through the piece I find there is enough silliness on both sides to warrant not leaving them unsupervised.

Yips! to Ann Althouse.

Posted by Robert at 11:37 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Thought For The Day

"It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them."

-P.G. Wodehouse.

Posted by Robert at 11:16 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I'm Dr. Robbo And I'm Listening

Steve-O's got a case of the blahs. Perhaps this will help: King Kong in 30 Seconds. Re-enacted by Bunnies.

Prescription: Watch twice and call me in the morning.

Yips! to the Pious Agnostic.

UPDATE: Extra-strength prescription - Star Wars: The Empire Brokeback.

Yips! to Dr. Jonah.

UPDATE DEUX: Top Gun: Brokeback Squadron. Given the persistent rumors about Tom Cruise, this one gets kinda weird.

YIPS from Steve: Oh. My. Gawd. You were saving that link for a rainy day, no?

Some students walked in while I was playing the "Titanic" paradoy.

The "Star Wars" one was priceless.

I WANT Flash Media!

Posted by Robert at 11:12 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


As our long time regular reader knows, I've been bellyaching about work now since July---things have gone from bad to worse to just downright ugly. Last week, I felt complete anger simmering right at the surface, but that's gone; now, I'm just feeling not much of anything. Can't concentrate worth a damn, and don't really care if I don't.

As much as a complete moron Charlie Brown is for keep trying to kick the ball, knowing that Lucy keeps pulling it away, there was something hopefull about the act in a weird, romantic sort of way. You don't admire Charlie Brown for just walking away and taking up a different sport. But what if Charlie did just that? Would he cease being Charlie?

I've never quit anything in my life. Somethings I've stopped or given up when I've topped out (for example, the clarinet in 5th grade), but never anything which mattered or something I gave an adult commitment to. I don't exactly know when I fell out of love with my job, but it's long enough now that I realize it that I can't remember what it was like to actually love it, feel like I was doing it well, and feel that it was appreciated. Obviously, there's a lot more to it than that, but the point of this is not to complain about my employer in a specific public way, but rather just to let out a barbarian scream out my blog window.

(Oh, and yes, I realize I've just written a pretty good description of being depressed. I've got a network of folks I talk to, I'm careful about the diet/sleep/ exercise connection and all the good CBT flags. My family is a tremendous source of love and support, and this is not manifesting itself as a I'm dissatisfied with life itself sort of thing.)

Posted by Steve at 10:56 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Decision '08 - How About A Shot Of So-Mentum?

Sobek Pundit is throwing his hat into the presidential ring. Moonbat or Wingnut? Doesn't matter which - he's got all the bases covered.

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

Never Thought I'd See The Day

When I found myself defending the Mayor of London, "Red" Ken Livingstone.

But here it is.

The backstory: Last year Livingstone compared a reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard. The reporter happened to be Jewish. Shite, meet fan. Although he made some placatory remarks to the Jewish community in general, Livingstone refused to apologize to the reporter.

Now you would think that there would be a great deal of political fallout from such an incident. In fact, it is not difficult to see a scenario where Livingstone (or any other politician who made such comments) could be voted out of office or forced to resign. Fair enough if he's willing to make remarks like this.

Here, though, the fallout seems to have been legal rather than political.

The case went before some species of disciplinary panel, which has now ruled that Livingstone's remarks constituted "[] a breach of the code in that Mr. Livingstone's actions have caused damage to the reputation of the office of which he holds..." The panel unanimously voted to bench Livingstone for four weeks.

Pardon me. I'm no expert on British law, but this strikes me as utter nonsense.

Livingstone is and always has been a first class jackass, whose politics I utterly loathe. And this incident was certainly an example of the kind of appalling obnoxiousness he's capable of. But Livingstone is London's elected jackass. To have some "adjudicative panel" suspend him for hurting somebody's feelings is by far the most disturbing thing to me about this whole story.

According to the story, Livingstone is considering an appeal.

Posted by Robert at 09:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 23, 2006

Flash in the Pan Babes of the Small Screen-Big Hair Division

For all who had a thing for blondes with big hair we present Charlene Tilton who played Lucy Ewing on Dallas. She was easy on the eyes and not very annoying so long as she did not say much. Time has been less than kind, but here she is back in the day.

Posted by LMC at 08:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Drudge is a carrying a photo of a child standing in front of a red and white flag, wearing camo paint, and wearing a toy rifle with the caption "Mosque Attack Iraq" referring to yesterday's bombing of the Shia Golden Dome Mosque in Iraq. The photo looks misplaced. The flag has a green tree on it, making it Lebanese, not Iraqi, and certainly not the flag of the any of the various factions jockeying for power in Iraq. The toy rifle is a mockup of an American M16/203, hardly the weapon of any Middle Eastern resisistence movement.

MORE YIPS: Our faithful readers in the comments point to a more accurate description of the photo in Yahoo News indicating it was taken in Beirut which explains the flag. The child's weapon is an M4/203, the M16 variant with the shorter stock that is standard issue these days. My command sergeant major would bust my chops if he knew I missed that one.

Posted by LMC at 04:17 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

"Morituri Te Salutant!"


This is way cool: Reuters is carrying a piece today about forensic studies done on the remains of gladiators found in tombs near Ephesus in Turkey which supports the notion that gladiatorial combats were carried out pursuant to a code of conduct.

Injuries to the front of each skull suggested that each opponent used just one type of weapon per bout of face-to-face contact, two Austrian researchers report in a paper to be published in Forensic Science International.

Savage violence and mutilation, typical of battlefields 2,000 years ago, were out of order.

And the losers appear to have died quickly.

Despite the fact that most gladiators wore helmets, 10 of the remains showed the fighters had died of squarish hammer-like blows to the side of the head, possibly the work of a backstage executioner who finished off wounded losers after the fight.

The report confirms the picture given of battles in the arena by Roman artwork, which suggests gladiators were well matched and followed rules enforced by two referees.

I expect this had as much to do with the economics of such spectacles as anything else - training and maintaining a first-class gladiator was a pretty expensive proposition and it would have been in everyone's best interest not to run the risk of throwing away such a valuable asset in an out-of-control free-for-all. If I recall my classical civ correctly, the more lawless bloodbaths in the arena usually involved untrained criminals, prisoners and (from the Roman point of view) other more expendable riff-raff.

Yips! to Scribal Terror.

(Cross-posted at Cake Eater Chronicles in Kathy's absense.)


"Joey - Do you like posts about...gladiators?"

Posted by Robert at 02:48 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Hildalgo Movie Review

Watched Hidalgo last night. Zuleikha Robinson played Omar Sharif's daughter. Very easy on the eyes.

Posted by LMC at 01:03 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire

Screw Glenn Reynolds and his dreams of saucy robotic maids and flying cars---I want a damn light saber!

See, this is why Isreal is winning---they're creating 25th century crazy stuff while their opponents are trying to get all jiggy with the 8th.

Posted by Steve at 12:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Conversations With WordPerfect

Me: Paragraph "12".
WP: You mean Paragraph "H".
Me: Nooooo, I mean Paragraph "12". That's why I typed "12".
WP: Paragraph "IX"?
WP: No paragraph numbering.
Me: Damn you!
WP: Resume list or start new list?
Me: Start counting at 12, you bastard!
WP: I think it's time to talk tabs here.
Me: You put that line back right now!
WP: Share and enjoy!


WP: Mock me, will you? Well just try and find the hidden code! Thump on that delete button all you want, monkey boy, that paragraph ain't going nowhere!

Posted by Robert at 10:34 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Here's Some Nifty Literary News

Via K-Lo:

Tom Wolfe, noted American author and journalist, to deliver the 2006 Jefferson Lecture In The Humanities

WASHINGTON—Tom Wolfe, the celebrated novelist and chronicler of American society, will deliver the 2006 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced today. The annual NEH-sponsored Jefferson Lecture is the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.

“From his earliest days as a journalist through a long history of successful nonfiction books and novels, Tom Wolfe has entertained and enlightened readers with his meticulously researched commentary on the American scene,” said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. “His skill as a literary stylist has influenced our language. He has documented our culture, and, through his journalism and fiction, shaped the American identity.”

Wolfe will present the 35th Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities on Wednesday, May 10, 2006, at
7 p.m. at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. The lectureship carries a $10,000 honorarium.

A pioneer of the “New Journalism” and an astute observer of American manners and mores, Wolfe has combined an energetic literary style with the rigor and detail of fine reporting. His most recent work of fiction, I Am Charlotte Simmons (2004), draws on the author’s extensive observation of college life in the United States during the fist decade of the 21st century.

His other novels include A Man in Full (1998) and The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987), which originally appeared in serial form in Rolling Stone.

Other major works include Hooking Up (2000), a collection of fiction and non-fiction concerning the turn of the new century; The Right Stuff (1979), Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers (1970), The Pump House Gang (1968), The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965). Wolfe’s provocative works on art and architecture have been published in The Painted Word (1972) and From Bauhaus to Our House (1981).

Wolfe’s professional writing career began in December 1956 when he took a job as a reporter on the Springfield (Mass.) Union. He spent most of his 10-year newspaper career as a general assignment reporter. For six months in 1960 he served as The Washington Post’s Latin American correspondent and won the Washington Newspaper Guild’s foreign news prize for his coverage of Cuba. Wolfe was born and raised in Richmond, Va., and was educated at Washington and Lee (B.A., 1951) and Yale (Ph.D., American studies, 1957) Universities. He lives in New York City with his wife, Sheila; his daughter, Alexandra; and his son, Tommy.

Good for him! Wolfe is a very active W&L alum and gave the commencement address when the LMC and I graduated from law school there. As I recall, it was a scathing rip on political correctness that had several of the more Left-leaning faculty squirming in their seats.

Frankly, I thought Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons was a bit overblown and said so when I read it. However, A Man In Full is just excellent.

Posted by Robert at 09:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I'm King Of The World!

No. 1 google hit out of 2.93 mil for all there is to know about a llama?

Right here, baybee!

Posted by Robert at 09:24 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Smiles, Everybody! Smiles!

George Will on the curiously consistency of research that suggests conservatives are happier than liberals:

Begin with a paradox: Conservatives are happier than liberals because they are more pessimistic. Conservatives think the book of Job got it right (``Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward''), as did Adam Smith (``There is a great deal of ruin in a nation''). Conservatives understand that society in its complexity resembles a giant Calder mobile -- touch it here and things jiggle there, and there, and way over there. Hence conservatives acknowledge the Law of Unintended Consequences, which is: The unintended consequences of bold government undertakings are apt to be larger than, and contrary to, the intended ones.

Conservatives' pessimism is conducive to their happiness in three ways. First, they are rarely surprised -- they are right more often than not about the course of events. Second, when they are wrong they are happy to be so. Third, because pessimistic conservatives put not their faith in princes -- government -- they accept that happiness is a function of fending for oneself. They believe that happiness is an activity -- it is inseparable from the pursuit of happiness.

The right to pursue happiness is the essential right that government exists to protect. Liberals, taking their bearings, whether they know it or not, from President Franklin Roosevelt's 1936 State of the Union address, think the attainment of happiness itself, understood in terms of security and material well-being, is an entitlement that government has created and can deliver.

Read the rest. P. J. O'Rourke made a similar point in one of his books (Parliament of Whores, I believe) when summing up American politics:

I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat.

God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle aged male, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God's heavenly country club.

Santa Claus is another matter. He's cute. He's nonthreatening. He's always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who's been naughty and who's been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without the thought of quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he's famously generous to the poor. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus.

Posted by Robert at 09:16 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 22, 2006

Gratuitous Domestic Bliss Posting (TM)

JohnL of TexasBestGrok nails it with a one-word explanation: kids.


She: Mmmmm....Hello, stranger.

He: Hey, there.......

She: It's been a while. How about we.....wait! What was that?

He: Goddamit, I thought they were asleep!

She: Oh, Jaysus.....

Voice Off Stage: Mooooomy? Can I come snuggle?

He: Christ on crutches! It's bloody 5:30 AM!

She: Go back to bed!

Voice Off Stage: But, Moooo-ooommmmm!

He: Dammit! Listen to your mother! Go back to bed!

Voice Off Stage: Oomp! Oomp! Waaaa-aaaaaaa.......

He: @#$(*@*(#$@#$*@#(&*$@**#($(*@#!!!!!....

She: Dear! Anyway, I think she's gone.

He: Bugger it! I've got to get up and get ready for work now anyway.....[Exit stage left]

Or so I would imagine. If JohnL's theory were correct, of course.....

Posted by Robert at 11:38 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Forget Lileks.

The definition of true love.

Years from now, you'll be telling all your friends you were reading Melissa Wiley before she became a (quite justly) famous writer.

Posted by Steve at 11:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bang, Bang, Boom


I caught most of A Bridge Too Far on AMC this evening.

As I recall, one of the critics (perhaps it was Pauline Kael?) labelled this flick "A Movie Too Long" when it came out.

What rot. An all-star cast shooting it out with the Nazis? How can this go wrong?
Besides, where else are you going to find Robert Redford and Cliff Clavin under arms together?

The only big-budget WWII movie I've ever seen that I thoroughly disliked was Midway. The reason I didn't like this movie was that it used any old airel footage it could get its hands on in an extremely haphazard manner - stock clips of fighters labeled as torpedo-bombers, and the like - to dramatize the battle. I'm sure there are plenty of similar inconsistencies regarding movie depictions of tank battles, but I don't know enough to spot 'em. Carrier-based aircract - that's a different matter. I think this may be a function of the craft. It is much easier to recreate WWII land-based infantry and armor than it is aircraft.

(And no, I did not see Pearl Harbor. Furthermore, I have no intention of doing so. On the other hand, I've always thought Tora! Tora! Tora! to be one of the best and most faithful WWII action epics ever produced. To me, this movie proves that if you try hard enough, you can get things right.)

Posted by Robert at 11:16 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Proud Father Division

Did I mention that the eldest Llama-ette, not yet eight years old, is doing multiplication and division of fractions in school? And not only that, she's enjoying it?

I do a fair amount of ribbing at the expense of the Missus and St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, but by golly, they seem to do the job.

Oh, another thing: the other evening when the Missus and I were out, the gels watched Disney's Hercules. Our pal who babysat reported that the eldest Llama-ette, who has become quite the classical mythology shark, spent the whole time explaining how the movie got the story wrong. That's my gilr!

Posted by Robert at 10:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Boomers Out Of The Barn

The Colossus has up a mammoth posting devoted to the Ohio-Class submarine fleet.

Posted by Robert at 05:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Now Those Were Olympic Games


The date: February 22, 1980. The place: Lake Placid, New York. A motley crew of United States college kids and amateurs stops the Soviet Juggernaut in its tracks.

I remember watching the coverage with my parents. The ABC (or whoever it was) announcer was saying that they were going to delay broadcast of the game until prime time and would not announce the score beforehand, but you could see people acting like complete lunatics behind the guy and knew that something was up. I'm a bit fuzzy now, 26 years later, but I remember that we did a good deal of whooping and shouting ourselves while watching the game.

Posted by Robert at 03:48 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

All Estrogen, All The Time

Rachel reveals her guilty pleasure in watching Lifetime Network movies. That's okay, Rach - we've all got our tee vee foibles. (Mine is COPS.)

I was thinking of Estrogen Channel programming recently. There used to be a radio commercial for - I think - some kinder n' gentler Old West series. (It might have been Dr. Quinn, but I'm not sure.) It featured a snippit of an incredibly whiney-sounding guy who said of whatever the settlement was, "It's the wonderful diversity that makes this place so special."

Every time I heard that, I was seized with a violent desire to brain the guy with a shovel.

Posted by Robert at 02:07 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Royal Navy Geekery Posting (TM) - Book List Division

Lord Nelson.jpg

A reader recently dropped this note in the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack (I swear I am not making this up):

Tom, I don't know Jack Squat about old school naval history and would like to read about it, especially after watching the Horatio Hornblower A&E movies. That said, I do not like muddling through dense boring text. My model of perfectly written history (in terms of education/enjoyability) is Stephen Ambrose. I'm also willing to read fiction.

These requirements in mind, please recommend some appropriate books for
me to pick up at my local Barnes & Noble regarding British (and
American) naval history. Thank you.

Which it's an invitation, ain't it? Dutiously, I scurried home to jot down the volumes I have in my own (admittedly) limited collection on the subject. I will say this at the outset - there is an enormous amount of information available on the period, including a great many works that were either hard to find or out of print but have been resurrected owing to the Patrick O'Brian craze. And of all the non-fiction books I've read, I can't think of a single one that I would describe as dense or boring.

If you're willing to go for fiction, I would say that O'Brian himself is an excellent place to start. Reading his books, it's frightening how much detailed knowledge you will pick up of life in the Royal Navy - much more than from C.S. Forrester. (It helps that the character of Stephen Maturin knows nothing of the sea and has to have everything explained to him.) If you want a boiled down version, O'Brian also wrote a short non-fiction book called Men-of-War, an overview of life in Nelson's Navy. (And if you want to branch out, he also wrote an excellent biography of Sir Joseph Banks, the great naturalist.)

A number of companion volumes have appeared in recent years, put together by various O'Brian enthusiasts. Among these are A Sea of Words, a lexicon of naval terminology of the time, Harbors & High Seas, a survey of the geography of the Aubrey/Maturin adventures, and Lobscouse and Spotted Dog: Which It's A Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels, a compendium of recipes referenced or mentioned in the books (including Drowned Baby and Soused Hog's Face, neither of which I have tried.) I see from Amazon that another book has come out, Patrick O'Brian's Navy: The Illustrated Companion to Jack Aubrey's World, by Chris Chant. I'll have to pick that one up.

As to actual histories, I have relied on a number of authors. Dudley Pope has written many works, including The Black Ship (about the 1797 mutiny aboard HMS Hermione and her subsequent recapture from the Spanish by none other than HMS Surprise), Life In Nelson's Navy, and Decision at Trafalgar. He has also written his own Naval adventure series centered around Lord Ramage, which I am just starting to get into.

Other historians I rely on include C. Northcotte Parkinson (The Life and Times of Horation Hornblower and Britannia Rules: The Classic Age of Naval History 1793-1815), N.A.M. Rogers (The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy), James Henderson (The Frigates: An Account of the Lesser Warships of the Wars from 1793 to 1815), Anthony Price (The Eyes of the Fleet: A Popular History of Frigates and Frigate Captains, 1793-1815), Alan Schom (Trafalgar: Countdown to Battle 1803-1805), David Davies (Nelson's Navy: English Fighting Ships 1793-1815) and Nicholas Tracy (Nelson's Battles: The Art of Victory in the Age of Sail).

Of course, if you do want hard-core, there is always the great A. T. Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783. It speaks to an earlier age than Nelson's, but describes the factors setting up the conflicts of his period. You could also check out Teddy Roosevelt's effort to emulate Mahan, The Naval War of 1812, although it is frankly reyther dry and tedious.

There are probably a gazillion biographies to chose from, but two that I would recommend are Christopher Hibbert's Nelson: A Personal History and Richard Hough's Captain James Cook, about the great explorer and navigator. Cook's own account of his voyages also makes interesting reading.

There is also a good bit of primary source material readily available. The Naval Chronicles provide a contemporary day-to-day account of life in the Royal Navy, with many articles, news items and anecdotes. There are a couple of modern compendiums of first-hand accounts available as well, including Life Before the Mast, compiled by Jon Lewis, and Every Man Will Do His Duty, edited by John Hattendorf.

For longer autobiographical texts, you must read Admiral Lord Cochrane's The Autobiography of a Seaman. (Cochrane was O'Brian's first model for Jack Aubrey.) For an account of a less flamboyant naval experience of the time, I've read A Sailor of King George: The Journals of Captain Frederick Hoffman, RN.

So there you have it. Those of you who can recommend any other books on the subject, feel free to leave a comment. I'm always open to new suggestions.

And now I'm going to go lie down.

UPDATE: If you're into what one might call the planks and sailcloth aspect of it all, I can also recommend Nelson's Favourite: HMS Agamemnon at War 1781-1809 by Anthony Deane and The Anatomy of Nelson's Ships by C. Nepean Longridge. I also bought a copy of the Annapolis Book of Seamanship a few years back in an attempt to better understand the physics of sailing.

Okay, now I'm really done.

UPDATE TWO BELLS: Kathy attempts to make me jump back into the water. Here is the O-ficial list of the Patrick O'Brian books. I have no idea what the "Master & Commander Movie Tie-In Edition" is supposed to be. The movie has absolutely nothing to do with the novel. Perhaps it's just an excuse to put a photo of the incredibly-miscast Russell Crowe on the cover in order to boost sales.

Some day, I'll critique the entire series. (Perhaps while guest-blogging at Kathy's place?) I've always felt that The Wine Dark Sea was the last of the truly enjoyable books. After that, they tail off considerably. By that time, I think O'Brian was simply getting too old and worn out to much enjoy writing them anymore.

Posted by Robert at 01:18 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, George Washington!


I've always loved this portrait of Washington by Charles Wilson Peale from 1772, not the least because it was owned by George Washington Custis who passed it on to his daughter, Mary Custis Lee (wife of Robert E. Lee) and eventually wound up in the possession of my alma mater (well, for law school, anyway). It depicts Washington in the colonial militia uniform of the 22nd Regiment of Virginia. Washington was in command of the Virginia militia during the Seven Years War and was responsible for protecting the frontier from Indian raids.

And here is a coo-el fact for you: The Father of our Country actually helped pay for my education:

In 1796, George Washington saved the struggling Liberty Hall Academy when he gave the school its first major endowment--$20,000 worth of James River Canal stock. The trustees promptly changed the name of the school to Washington Academy as an expression of their gratitude. In a letter to the trustees, Washington responded, "To promote the Literature in this rising Empire, and to encourage the Arts, have ever been amongst the warmest wishes of my heart." The donation--one of the largest to any educational institution at that time--continues to contribute to the University's operating budget today.

How sweet is that? If I recollect correctly, the actual amount per student worked out to not more than a few cents in my time, but I always felt (and I believe everybody else did as well) that the historical connection was priceless.

Posted by Robert at 11:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observations

Even though it's a snowy, rainy, nasty morning here in Dee Cee, a sure sign of the advent of spring is the return of the Tourons. In this case, it's bus-loads of seedy teenagers from Iowa lining up milling around outside the ESPNZone and Hard Rock Cafe on my line of march to the office.

I don't actually know that they're from Iowa (state motto: Gateway to Nebraska). In fact, they probably aren't. But every time I see a tour bus, I just assume that's where it's from.

Posted by Robert at 09:29 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 21, 2006

News to me

Apparently, Sadie has a thing for Oprah. You go girl!

Extra bonus point linkage for the fab pic of Patricia Arquette.

And if that's not a sign that I'm extremely delirious, I don't know what is.

Posted by Steve at 09:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Which is worse?

That someone came here after dialing up

florence henderson knockers.jpg

Florence Henderson knockers

or that we were only eighteenth on that search?

Someone needs to get a life.

Posted by Steve at 09:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


over toilet paper. (Thanks to KMR for pointing this one out)

Posted by LMC at 09:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Milla Jovovich is at it again

The trailer for her new flick Ultraviolet is here. It promises to be a futuristic, brainless action flick featuring buff babes, exotic weapons, and a high body count. Sounds like a winner to me.

Posted by LMC at 07:57 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Where's Steve-O?

Second Sunday night bout with the stomach virus in two weeks.


Robbo and LMC, I'm counting on you tomorrow to do the 26th Anniversary of the "Miracle on Ice," particularly in light of this year's crop of stellar Olympic punks and whiners.


Back to bed.

Posted by Steve at 07:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Yesterday, a relative of one of our employees called needing help. She is the complainant in a misdemeanor sexual battery case where the commonwealth's attorney did not assign a prosecutor and she was left to fend for herself. Virginia does not allow private counsel to act as prosecutors but attorneys may "assist" victims in presenting evidence so assist I did. The defendant was convicted and received a ninety day sentence, a fine, a year of probation, and a lifetime on the sex offender registry. No matter how the rest of my day goes, this will be a good day.

Posted by LMC at 06:32 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


New Fossil Find in New Mexico Named After Artist Georgia O'Keeffe.

The newly-discovered Effigia okeeffeae actually is a relative of modern crododiles and alligators, even though it had a number of dinosaur-like attributes. It was named after O'Keeffe because the remains were discovered near her former home in New Mexico.

Yips! to Dean.

Posted by Robert at 05:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

"From Ushant To Scilly 'Tis Thirty Five Leagues"

Channel Map.jpg

Yes, this is an extra helping of gratuitous Royal Navy geekery posting, but in putting together my earlier post on Edward Hawke and the birth of the song "Hearts of Oak", I also came across another favorite of Nelson's Navy (and Patrick O'Brian fans), "Spanish Ladies":

Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish Ladies,
Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain;
For we've received orders for to sail for ole England,
But we hope in a short time to see you again.
We will rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

We hove our ship to with the wind from sou'west, boys
We hove our ship to, deep soundings to take;
'Twas forty-five fathoms, with a white sandy bottom,
So we squared our main yard and up channel did make.
We will rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

The first land we sighted was called the Dodman,
Next Rame Head off Plymouth, off Portsmouth the Wight;
We sailed by Beachy, by Fairlight and Dover,
And then we bore up for the South Foreland light.
We will rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

Then the signal was made for the grand fleet to anchor,
And all in the Downs that night for to lie;
Let go your shank painter, let go your cat stopper!
Haul up your clewgarnets, let tacks and sheets fly!
We will rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues

Now let ev'ry man drink off his full bumper,
And let ev'ry man drink off his full glass;
We'll drink and be jolly and drown melancholy,
And here's to the health of each true-hearted lass.
We will rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues

Here is the midi-file. I love the combination of geography and sailing jargon as the fleet sails up-Channel and anchors in the Downs.

(And no, I am not reading the O'Brian novels again. Well, okay, maybe the first. And maybe the second. But I'm reading other books in between. Starting them, anyway. Really. I swear!)

Posted by Robert at 04:28 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Kids These Days. They're Young.

The Crack Young Staff of the Hatemonger's Quarterly take on one of my favorite objects of scorn today:

Like any reasonable people on God’s green earth, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” despise teenagers. And we do not, we hasten to add, despise teenagers with the typical laxity and good cheer of the average citizen. Rather, we loathe these 13- to 19-year-old irritants with an undying passion.

Perhaps you are wondering why this is so. Frankly, if you aren’t entirely sure, we’re willing to bet that you’re either preternaturally forgiving or brain dead. And we’re betting on the latter.


As I was sitting through last Saturday night's reading of Romeo & Juliet, I couldn't keep from saying to myself, "Star-cross'd lovers? No, dumb-ass kids. And that evident stoner-hippy Friar Lawrence isn't much better with his Rube Goldberg fake death stunt."

Geh. The eldest Llama-ette turns eight in a couple weeks and I already have a Drudge-like siren flashing in my head to warn me that I have precious little time left to prepare before she turns into one of Them.

Posted by Robert at 04:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ask And Ye Shall Receive

I was chatting with a pal at church Sunday morning about homeschooling, she being interested in finding some on-line resources. Well, in the "Yeah...I meant for that to happen" category, I just came across the latest Carnival of Homeschooling, couresy of Melissa at Here in the Bonny Glen. Lots and lots of home-based edumacation linky.

Posted by Robert at 01:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I confess that I haven't really focused on this whole turning-our-ports-over-to-the-Ay-rabs kerfluffle, but my gut tells me that if Jimmah Carter is backing up the White House on this one, Dubya may want to reconsider his position.

UPDATE: Now Dubya is threatening the V-bomb against any legislative attempt to block the deal.

I still don't really know what to make of this. I strikes me that the fear we're standing down while the bad guys secure multiple beach heads in this country is probably overblown. However, everything looks different through the filter of politics and I'm not sure if this is the kind of issue I'd want to take a stand on if I were in the White House (which, thank God, I have exactly zero chance of ever being).

UPDATE DEUX: I see Jonah is out in front of me on this.

UPDATE TROIS: And Gary the Ex-Donk and I seem to be on the same wavelength.

Posted by Robert at 01:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Royal Navy Geek Posting (TM)


Today is the birthday of Edward Hawke, born this day in 1705.

Hawke was the admiral in command of the British fleet that won the Battle of Quiberon Bay on November 20, 1759, during the Seven Years' War.

The Battle of Quiberon Bay by Nicholas Pocock, 1812. Image swiped from the National Maritime Museum.

The battle, which the great A. T. Mahan called the Trafalgar of the Seven Years' War, effectively put an end to French naval power, with two important consequences. First, it quashed any threat of a French invasion of Britain, thereby freeing for foreign service British troops who had been stationed at home to guard against such threat. Second, it meant that the French could no longer send critical supplies and reenforcements to their army in North America or its Indian allies, thus pretty much sealing the doom of French Canada.

For you Patrick O'Brian fans out there, Hawkes' victory at Quiberon Bay also was the inspiration for the Royal Navy song "Hearts of Oak":

Come cheer up, my lads! 'tis to glory we steer,
To add something more to this wonderful year;
To honour we call you, not press you like slaves,
For who are so free as the sons of the waves?

Heart of oak are our ships, heart of oak are our men;
We always are ready, steady, boys, steady!
We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again.

We ne'er see our foes but we wish them to stay,
They never see us but they wish us away;
If they run, why we follow, and run them ashore,
For if they won't fight us, we cannot do more.


They swear they'll invade us, these terrible foes,
They frighten our women, our children, and beaus;
But should their flat bottoms in darkness get o'er,
Still Britons they'll find to receive them on shore.


We'll still make them fear, and we'll still make them flee,
And drub 'em on shore, as we've drubb'd 'em at sea;
Then cheer up, my lads! with one heart let us sing:
Our soldiers, our sailors, our statesmen and King.


Here is a midi-file of the tune, written by William Boyce. The words were by David Garrick, the famous late 18th Century British actor who also coined the theatrical good luck expression "break a leg".

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

Well, At Least It Wasn't During Training Camp This Time.....

Llama reader and fellow Miami Dolfan Mike sends in this report that Ricky Williams has - wait for it - violated the NFL's drug policy. He's out for the year and, effectively, forever.


(Message to Pats fans: Shut the hell up!)

Posted by Robert at 09:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 20, 2006


My dirty little secret is SPAM, that culinary delight from the fine folks at Hormel. My wife banned it from Fort LMC shortly after we married and she could always tell when I indulged in my guilty pleasure: sliced thin, fried crispy on both sides. For those that share my little obsesson is this font of SPAM haiku known to those in the know as SPAM-ku.

Posted by LMC at 09:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

"Lethal Bach Muser"

Heh. Sleepy Beth anagrams us Llamas.

"Became thar hulls" has a nice nautical ring not inappopriate for my constant Royal Navy blogging.

And "tamale belch rush"? Sounds like somebody I know 'round here. Shoe, meet hoof.....

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 03:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

For the Record

I've spent most of the weekend refurbishing and painting the basement stairwell. (The refurbishment was necessary as a result of some water damage from a leaking pipe. Mr. Spackle is our friend, indeed.)

The painting part involved finally painting the stairwell to match the walls of the basement itself. One of the reasons I've been putting it off is that it is such a tricky job - getting at some of the corners of the ceiling on the landing involves standing on a ladder at the top of the stairs, firmly grasping the top of the doorway and leaning way out backward with the paintbrush.

The idea was to paint the stairwell the same color as the basement itself. The basement walls are painted a kind of pale yellow. In the sun (it's a walk-in), they actually look almost white. However, I discovered that on the stairs themselves, which are lit by a pair of lights, this same paint appears far more yellow.

Now here is where I want to plainly record my position. (All y'all are witnesses): I am not overly happy with the yellowness of the stairwell. I said as much to the Missus and even offered to repaint it today in a paler color. She, on the other hand, says it looks fine. Furthermore, she got each one of her friends who dropped off kids to play this morning to give their opinions. They all agreed with her.

I record all this now so that when the Missus sidles up to me in a couple weeks (as I know she will) and says that yes, the stairwell is too yellow and would I please repaint it, there will be no question about the appropriateness of my response when I tell her to go to the devil.

Posted by Robert at 03:39 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Now Here's A First

Phin posts a pic of Llama heartthrob Melissa Theuriau that leaves me reyther cold. She looks like Medea getting ready to set about the young 'uns.

Posted by Robert at 11:12 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Prezdents' Day

The Maximum Leader ranks his Top Ten U.S. Presidents. No real arguments from me, although I'm a bit puzzled as to what LBJ was doing on his list last year (getting supplanted by John Adams this time around).

The eldest Llama-ette was asking me about good and bad presidents at dinner last evening. Beyond some of the most obvious - Washington, for example - I found it rather tough to answer. One has to define the success of a given presidency relative to the times. The office of the late 20th Century bears little resemblence to that of the mid-19th Century, after all. This is tough to explain to a seven year old.

UPDATE: Sheila unleashes a torrent of Presidential Posts. Click n' scroll, but get a fresh cup of coffee first.

Posted by Robert at 11:08 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Girls! Girls! Girls!

The house is full of uh-oh-it's-a-federal-holiday-what-do-I-do-with-the-kid?- friends of the Llama-ettes this morning.

Life is noisy.

Which is, of course, why I am hiding out in the Butcher's Shop.

On the other hand, don't expect any quality posting - all this cacaphony plays hell with my ability to concentrate the mangoes in the southwest corner, admiral.

Posted by Robert at 10:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2006


Time for another evening of rubbernecking at the babes of yesteryear. Tonight's feature, Lauren Tewes from The Love Boat, that series around which college students arranged their class schedules, even when it was just re-runs in syndication. As Cruise Director Julie McCoy, Lauren was quite the heart-breaker. Sadly, it was the high point of her career. Even more sadly, she pulled time on Fantasy Island where starlets of a certain era went in desperation to revive their fortunes before their careers went completely down the tubes. Time has not been kind to Lauren, but we remember her when she was back in the day.

Posted by LMC at 08:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

Just a quick follow up on last night's concert that evidently put INDCent Bill to sleep.

First of all, the orchestra was much better than I had feared. Past experience of community groups had made me apprehensive about what kind of quality to expect, but really, they played quite competently.

As for the music, the Glinka was a success, the Prokofiev at least had interesting things to say and the Berlioz was pure mush. As I mentioned, the theme of this concert was Romeo and Juliet, so a couple of passages of Tchaikovsky's ballet were tossed in as well. I must say that as I get older, I grow less and less fond of Tchaikovsky's music. I noticed this when I took the Llama-ettes to see The Nutcracker at Christmas. The man had some good ideas now and again, but by God! his presentation gets awfully overblown and hokey.

I recently came across a critique by Tchaikovsky of the music of Brahms (which I greatly admire) that reyther reenforced my opinion of both composers:

For the Russian heart there is something dry, cold, nebulous and repelling about the music of this German Master. For us Russians, Brahms lacks every sense of melodic fantasy. The musical thought in Brahms is never completely pronounced. Barely has a melodic phrase been as much as hinted at, it is so overgrown with all kinds of harmonic modulations as if the composer had set himself the task of being incomprehensible and deep whatever the cost [.....] His style is always so lofty [....] but in everything the most important element of all is missing: beauty!"

Eh. To me this means nothing more than that Tchaikovsky simply didn't get it. He sounds like a drinker of Seagram's and Seven-Up complaining about the icky taste of single malt Scotch.


It turned out that this wasn't just a concert of Romeo & Juliet - inspired music. Instead, the director hit upon the idea of interspersing spoken passages from the play among the musical selections. This, to me, was a mistake. First of all, there were only three actors, who had to handle fifteen parts between them, which got rather confusing. Second, only one of the actors was really any good at all. The others were of the type who believe that AAAALLL SHAAAAKESPEEEEARE MUUUUST BEEEEE REEEAD DEEEEEEPLY!

Finally, the overall effect of this idea was to distract the audience from the music, but at the same time not to give enough dramatic ooomph and continuity to the drama to make it really worth watching or listening to.

So there you have it. I may very well be getting involved with this organization - the people I talked to at the part after the concert seemed both surprised and pleased that I was so interested in the music itself - so perhaps I can exert some small influence on future programming decisions.

Posted by Robert at 01:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

Yes, it's only 20 degrees outside today, but the robins are back. This is always one of the hallmarks of early spring around here. One day, you happen to look outside and the yard is full of them.

As much as I love to see them come back, however, the advent of the robins always reminds me that I'd better start getting my act together in terms of the gardening. Fortunately, I'm not really planting much this year beyond a couple more wisteria and some indigo. But I've got a rather complex transplanting project in mind for the perennial beds that is going to require some very careful planning indeed. Operation Overlord ain't in it.

Posted by Robert at 12:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 18, 2006


I come in peace." Mrs. LMC and I are becoming devotees of children's movies. The Future Four Year ROTC Scholarship Recipient is obsessed with Toy Story which he has to watch at least twice a day. You cannot help but memorize the soundtrack and eventually spot plot inconsistencies. For example, the Little Green Man chosen by The Claw (manipulated by evil neighbor Sid) winds up with Buzz and Woody in Sid's backpack for the trip back to Sid's house where the LGM assures them: "The Mystic Portal awaits." . When Sid gets home, the LGM is promptly placed on the snout of Scud, Sid's equally evil dog. Scud shreds the LGM yet he reappears intact in the scene where the toys (led by Woody) confront Sid and save Buzz. Phin, Jen (formerly Jen Speaks) this is in your future.

Yips! from Robbo: Throwing down the gauntlet, I happen to think Toy Story 2 is better than the original. My only problem with it is that if Woody popped that hatch in the wheel-well of the jet as it was taking off, wouldn't this have led to some serious decompression problems when it reached altitude?

Also, just wait till you start secretly watching the kids' cartoons, loitering in the doorway or pretending to read the paper while they're flopped on the sofa. I know there's a big adult fan club for Sponge-Bob out there, but personally I think the Fairly Odd Parents can be screamingly funny sometimes.

Posted by LMC at 04:55 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack


Sharon Stone is at it again-you can watch the trailer here. She is holding up reasonably well for a woman her age but I am not convinced she can pull it off.

Posted by LMC at 04:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

I quite plainly heard the sound of crickets generated by my Monteverdi posting yesterday, but don't worry, this won't be quite so dry.

The Missus and I are off to a real live concert this evening, the first one I can remember our having been to in a looooooong time. Granted, it's only the local community orchestra, but what the hey - music is music.

The program seems to center on Romeo & Juliet and features selections on the theme by Berlioz and Prokofiev. I won't mind this at all. While I'm not much of a student of Berlioz, I've always enjoyed what I've heard. And if you pointed a gun at my head and made me choose a 20th Century composer, I could come up with a legion of worse choices than Prokofiev and not many better.

I also see that they're doing (or at least attempting - the piece goes hell-for-leather) the Ruslan & Lyudmila Overture by Mikhail Ivonovich Glinka (1804-1857). This piece has a childhood association for me about on a par with my discovery that the early Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons used the "Dance of the Comedians" from The Bartered Bride by Bedrich Smetana.

You see, when I was in second grade, I was fascinated by meteorology. I knew all the different cloud names, had an elemental grasp of the way pressure systems worked and could describe the path of a water molocule through a thunderhead. That spring, one of the local tee vee nooz stations offered a li'l weather hounds educational kit. It consisted of a big CONUS map ringed with smaller pictures explaining various weather phenomena. It also came with a record. (For those of you who don't know what this is, it was a flat disc made of vinyl that people used to use for sound recordings. You put it on a turntable, where a needle on a swing arm would travel through grooves on the surface of the record, thereby reproducing the recorded sounds.)

This particular record contained a story to go along with the map. In it, a NOAA meteorologist was supposed to be giving a lecture to a tour group at a local weather station somewhere in the Midwest on a threatening day. He went right round the little boxes on the edge of the map, and we li'l weather hounds were supposed to follow along. The climax of the story came when a tornado suddenly appeared and everybody had to scramble for the 'frady-hole. The weather station was destroyed but nobody got hurt and the meteorologist got to wind up with some ponderous words on the savage fury of Nature.

It just so happened that I was both fascinated with and petrified of tornadoes in those days. (I feared them so much I always had to skip the first fifteen minutes of The Wizard of Oz.) At first, I was so scared of the record that I could barely make myself listen to it. Indeed, when I did a classroom presentation on it, I practically ducked under a desk when the big moment came.

For those of you on the verge of saying, "Dammit Cartman, what the hell are you talking about?" let me now make the link: It also just so happens that the music accompanying this story was none other than the Glinka overture we're hearing tonight. The intensity of associations meant that this music was burned into my brain long before I knew what it actually was. And now every time I hear it, I still think of that story and the moment somebody yells, "Tornado!" off stage.

I'll let you know how the concert goes. I've never heard these people so have no idea how good they might be.

(Oh, we're also going to a post-concert party put on by the orchestra's board. I was intensely amused to note that the invitation spelled out that the party is "by invitation only - guest list at the door".

You know, because we have such a terrible problem with community orchestra party gate-crashers 'round here. Pretentious? Moi?)

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

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

Said the four year old this morning: "We just go to school, then we go to bed, then we go to school, then we go to bed, then we go to school....."

Said the heartless parent: "Welcome to life, kid."

Posted by Robert at 03:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Raid on Entebbe, or Raid on Lil' Debbie?

Inside snack cake joke there.

Everyone and their idiot brother in-law have been emailing us the Crack Commando Israeli LLamas of Death story. Watch out, you Hezzbolah goat fucking panty-waists, you think you've got your shorts in a wad over some cartoons?

Wait till you have Vicious Andean Mauraders flying down in the stealth of the night google bombing your villages into submission with pshopped images of Rosie O'Donnell in full bondage gear.

America has the SEALs: Israel has the LLAMAs.

You are so screwed, Boy Assad.

Let's go to the tape:

Israel's military has found the perfect vehicle for special operations forces — the llama.

After extensive tests, the uncomplaining work-horse animals were found to easily out-perform donkeys. What's more, they need refuelling only every other day.

Military sources said the Israel Army plans to use llamas for reconnaissance and combat missions in enemy territory, Middle East Newsline reported. They described the llama as ideal for special operations missions in Lebanon against the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah.

"The llama is a quiet and disciplined animal that can carry huge loads," a military source said. "Vehicles make noise and need roads and fuel. We've tried donkeys and they are not suitable for such missions."

The sources said the army has been training special forces to conduct low-signature ground missions in enemy territory. In January, llamas were employed in a special forces exercise in the Golan Heights.

The exercise employed a scenario in which a special operations unit entered Lebanon or Syria for reconnaissance and sabotage. During the exercise, the llamas carried more than 50 kilograms of equipment over mountainous terrain.

The army plans to train a force of llamas to carry up to 100 kilograms of equipment and supplies, the sources said. They said this would ease the burden on troops and enable special operations forces to focus on combat or reconnaissance.

The sources said donkeys also participated in the Golan Heights exercise. They said the donkeys did not perform as well and required much more food than llamas. The llamas could be fed once every other day.

insert Beavis and Butthead laugh He said "load."

llama bombers.jpg

Picture stolen from The Commisar. I have a feeling that by inserting Ana Marie Cox onto the nose art of Hell's Belle and Mojo, The Commisar isn't going to be speaking to us for a very, very, very long time.

Below the fold for the full glory

llama bombers large.jpg

Posted by Steve at 12:19 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 17, 2006

I'm Steve the LLamabutcher, and I'm a data geek

This data dump from Michael Kinsley on the economy is cool.

Posted by Steve at 03:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Posts I can do without

Damn you, Albert Gore Jr., for inventing the internets, because that allowed us to read about such things as "Madeline Albright/Margaret Cho tryst."

Pardon me while I step out and gargle with Chlorox.

Posted by Steve at 02:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dick versus Jack

Okay, here's your double elimination constitutional snowboard cross final:

Dick Cheney versus Jack Bauer

With Lee Van Cleef as the referee, of course.

Now, this won't be a prissy pussy affair involving dueling pistols, waistcoats, and seconds: I'm thinking 5000 acres of prime Nevada desert filled with rattlesnakes, scorpions, and Mexican banditos and some pissed off Apaches (and maybe a crashed alien space ship or two). Cheney gets a tricked out Ford Explorer with a minifridge and a high-powered rifle, and Jack Bauer gets his usual pocketknife, dead cell phone, zippo lighter, and a 3 day stubble.

Bets on the outcome? I'm smelling 24 season and series ender here.

UPDATE: Okay, now I'm thinking team action:

Dick Cheney and Aaron Burr


Jack Bauer and the ghost of Bruce Lee

UPDATE: OKAY, the people have spoken, and they want Jack Bauer and Cheney on the same team.

What about this match-up for Vice-Presidential Manhunter:

Dick Cheney and Jack Bauer


Captain Kirk and the ghost of Bruce Lee

Kirk doesn't get a phaser or anything, but he does get to use that Federation-approved Kirk Kwon Doh style of hands-clasped over the head "V" punch to the upper torso, guaranteeing a knockdown.

Posted by Steve at 12:33 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)


Yes, I am now going to write about a 400 year old opera, indeed the very first opera - L'Orfeo, by Claudio Monteverdi. It was originally performed in 1607 at the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua. This DVD is of a performance from 2002 in Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu. And I can heartily say that the piece has withstood time very well indeed.

First, I should just say that I love the early Italian baroque. It still retains much of the free-flowing energy of the late Renaissance, yet is just beginning to assemble a more formalized new structure. Here, Monteverdi indulges in all manner of music, from rollicking shepherd dances to sumptuous madrigals. Even if you haven't the faintest idea of what's going on, it's an utter joy just to listen.

The opera tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus, the greatest singer of all time, but who has moped about Thrace for years and years alone, finally meets the love of his life, Eurydice. However, on the day of their wedding, Eurydice is bitten by a snake and dies. Orpheus determines to go to the Underworld to bring her back. Using his powers of song, he gets past Charon, the ferryman of the River Styx and charms Pluto and Proserpina into letting Eurydice go. Pluto's only condition is that Orpheus may not look at Eurydice as he leads her back up to the living world. Of course, Orpheus does so and Eurydice is immediately carted back off to Hades. A grief-stricken Orpheus is finally led up to Heaven by Apollo, who takes pity on him.

In addition to the solos of these characters, the story is told by a combination of choruses of shepherds and spirits and by a couple of allegorical figures - Musica and Speranza (Hope). In general, the action moves forward via the soloists and the choruses provide commentary. An interesting feature of this particular treatment, first presented to the Duke of Mantua and an informal set of amateur noble philosophers, is that while Orpheus' first loss of Eurydice was a tragic misfortune, his second loss was his own damn fault:


Virtue is a ray
of celestial beauty,
prize of the soul, where alone it is valued.
It does not fear the ravages of time;
on the contrary, with man
the years increase its splendour.
Orpheus conquered Hades and then
was conquered by his emotions.
Worthy of eternal glory is only he
who has victory over himself.

As to the performance here, musically it was first rate. The orchestra and chorus were Le Concert des Nations and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, directed by Jordi Savall (dressed as Monteverdi himself). I'd never heard of him before, but will keep my eyes and ears open now - his period performance sensibilities are exactly to my liking. (It is an irony of the age that although there is virtually no modern music worth performing, the number and quality of performers must easily exceed any other period in history.)

All of the soloists sang beautifully as well. My only criticism here would be that the acting was very uneven. By far the best performance was Sara Mingardo's Sylvia, Eurydice's poor maid who has to break the bad news of her death to Orpheus. Ravishing is the only word to describe it. On the other hand, Furio Zanazi as Orpheus wandered around the stage with a look of vaguely unsatisfied bewilderment the entire time. Dressed in a red toga and carrying a lyre, he looked more like Nero than anyone else. One can't say much of anything of Arianna Savall's Eurydice, because the part doesn't have any more than half a dozen lines throughout the entire opera. The rest of the supporting soloists sang, as I say, very well, and turned in acting performances that varied between the adequate and the good. I have to say, though, that Daniele Carnovich and Adriana Fernaindez, as Pluto and Proserpina, looked like the King and Queen of Hades, Appalachia Division.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this performance if you are interested in getting into the music of Monteverdi. If, on the other hand, you are more interested in getting into the story of L'Orfeo, to experience the opera as theatre, I believe I'd recommend instead Nicolaus Harnocourt's old production (if you can find it). The acting there is much more lively all the way around. And Harnocourt cleverly turns the chorus into a set of Mantuan nobles and their ladies, thereby making them both audience and performers. I have been toying with trying this opera out on the eldest Llama-ette - who is mad keen about classical mythology - and am going to go with the Harnocourt version as her introduction.

By the way, the production values of this DVD are outstanding.

Posted by Robert at 11:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lite Posting Notice

I have to take the six year old off to the ophthamologist this morning. She's been fuming all week about the possibility of having to have her pupils dilated. Even the promise of getting to wear a kewl pair of wrap-around shades hasn't much mollified her.

Back later.

Yip! Yip!

UPDATE: Sorry about the double-vision entries earlier. Sometimes when I go to save a post, Moveable Type flips back to the log-on page instead of the editing menu and it looks as if I'd lost the post.

Anyhoo, we're all done. As I feared, the Llama-ette put up something of a stink about getting eyedrops and I had to use a certain amount of parental muscle to restrain her while the doc got them in. I must say, I didn't feel anywhere near as much compassion this time around as I had last August when I had to hold her while her lip got anesthetized for stitches.

We dropped by our local fambly restaurant for a late breakfast after we were done, the Llama-ette looking like Jackie-O in her wrap-arounds. As it happened, we sat next to a trio of women who were loudly discussing why Bob couldn't come up with the alimony for Barbara and the child if'n he wuz buying all that stuff fer himself. As we sat there, I noticed I was beginning to get the fish eye from these women. All men are guilty until proven innocent.

Posted by Robert at 07:18 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 16, 2006

Bang, Bang, Boom

Dorkafork, posting over at INDCent Bill's, has the goods on Cheney's Birdshot Conspiracy.

Very funny. And kinda sad, too, once you read, por ejemplo, Sid Blumenthal's take on the whole business and realize that Dork is only mildly lampooning the reaction of the Moonbats.

Y'know, Peggy Noonan was musing this morning whether Cheney should step aside. Frankly, I can't see why - the man is pure batnip to the Left, practically guaranteeing that the base will be so radicalized for '06 and '08 that it will drive the Donks right off the political cliff. Furthermore, he single-handedly made the entire MSM Dee Cee press corp look like a pack of whiney, snivelling brats this week.

Taking a page from Lincoln's playbook, Dubya ought to find out the make and model of the shotgun Cheney was using and hand them out to the rest of his political team.

(Oh, and speaking of the Moonbats, I just wanted to say that I think Taranto's description of Daily Kos as "the Mos Eisley of the Angry Left" is hysterical.)

UPDATE: The shape of things to come in '08?

"Hey! I'd have hit a guy too, if that Secret Service agent hadn't shoved me!"

Posted by Robert at 05:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Natty Bumppo Posting

The Irish Elk takes up the Four Things meme that's been going around the 'web. In response to the questions about movies he'd watch over and over again, he links to a massive Last of the Mohicans website devoted to the 1992 movie starring Daniel Day Lewis. Who knew there was such an underground fan club?

I've only seen the movie once. While I greatly appreciated its visuals, I couldn't get past its (yes, you knew this was coming) mangling of James Fenimore Cooper's novel. I've got no brief for Cooper - I consider him to be long-winded, pompous and bloody boring - but the movie's juggling of love interests and killing off of the wrong characters was too much for me. Also, I recall that in the movie, after surrendering to the French and being allowed to march away unarmed, Col. Monro and nearly the entire British garrison at Fort William Henry were wiped out. This simply wasn't the case - Monro and most of his force made it back to Fort Edward.

(I am such a geek.)

UPDATE: In honor of Sleepy Beth, who I'm sure speaks for quite a few fans, here's some DDL cheesecake:


Nice, uh, musket you've got there, Hawkeye.

HIAWATHA YIPS from Steve: There was a reason his Indian name was "Long Rifle"....

Posted by Robert at 03:20 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

The super duper secrets of the Straussians---REVEALED AT LAST!

Jonah spills the beans after hanging with the Left Coast devotees of the Original Sith Lord of the Neocons.

Repeat after me, five times a day: There is no Sith Lord but Leo Strauss, and Alan Bloom is his prophet.

Posted by Steve at 12:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting

Every year at Christmas I begin to cringe because I know that I'm going to get bombarded at church by the music of John Rutter, whose sappiness laced with attempts to be perky gives me the hives. (Alas, our rector likes him.)

Well, I'm listening to a performance of the Handel Oboe Concerto on the local classical station at the moment, with the City of London Symphonia conducted by Rutter and damme if he doesn't bring the same mushy treatment to poor old George Frideric.


Posted by Robert at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Historickal Wash, Rinse and Repeat


On this day in 1804, Lt. Stephen Decatur led a daring raid on the harbor at Tripoli and burned the frigate U.S.S. Philadelphia, captured by the Moors the previous October. Here is the Naval Historical Center's description of the raid.

The Philadelphia had run aground outside the harbor's mouth under the command of Captain William Bainbridge, who later commanded the U.S.S. Constitution in her famous combat with H.M.S. Java, a battle beautifully described in Patrick O'Brian's The Fortune of War.

According to Richard Zack's recent book The Barbary Coast: Thomas Jefferson, The First Marines and the Secret Mission of 1805, Bainbridge had no business abandoning the Philadelphia when she grounded, as she floated free by herself within a few hours, thus allowing the Triptolitans to tow her in. Needless to say, this takes nothing away from the heroism of Decatur and his men in putting an end to Tripoli's embarrasing and potentially dangerous possession of her.

Posted by Robert at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

So Jesus and Naomi Wolf walk into a bar....

This is sure to get the WGS volk in a wad---except for the cool ones, like Chai-rista.

Posted by Steve at 10:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bully, Not


Yips! to GroovyVic for this one. Now comes the rather alarming news that Martin Scorsese is directing a movie called The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, with the lead going to none other than this pretty-boy bozo:


I wish I had a way-back machine just so I could bring Teddy forward in time and let him personally beat the crap out of Leo. That I would pay ten bucks to see.

Incidentally, here's a piece of interesting trivia picked up from my recent reading of Edmund Morris' Theodore Rex. Did you know that the Roosevelt Administration became tangled up in the jostling between Britain and Germany over German expansionist efforts in South America and that the Kaiser actually had contingency plans to invade Long Island if things came to a crisis?

UPDATE: Here is some information on Roosevelt's Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, his policy that the United States had sole responsibility for maintaining order and freedom in the Western Hemisphere and the European Powers could get lost. It contains a brief overview of the South American conflicts which nearly became a flashpoint between the United States and Germany.

And here is what Edmund Morris himself says about the Venezuelan Crisis of 1902 and its possible escalation:

Baron Speck von Sternburg, a German diplomat and a longtime friend of the president’s, had given TR over the years a shrewd idea of the worldview of Germany’s militaristic ruling class. Expansionists like Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow regarded the Monroe Doctrine as an insult, at most a hollow threat. Naval secretary Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz made no secret of his desire to establish naval bases in Brazil, where three hundred thousand Germans lived already, and in the Caribbean. Germany, therefore, had TR’s particular attention as he braced himself for foreign intervention in South America.

He could not have known that even then, strategists on the Wilhelmstrasse—which is to say, in Germany’s foreign ministry—were working in the deepest secrecy on a plan for the possible invasion of the United States. This plan called for Tirpitz to dispatch his fleet to the Azores at the first signal of transatlantic hostilities. From there, the fleet would steam south, take Puerto Rico, and then launch surprise attacks along the American seaboard. German troops advancing on New York City would march within a few miles of the Roosevelt house in Oyster Bay, Long Island.

Posted by Robert at 09:54 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

New to me blog of the day

Ladies and gentlemen, it's the North Canton Airline Storm Door Company.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Steve at 09:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google Chumming Champ...OF. ALL. TIME.

The title to this post is best read with the proper Chris. Ber. Man. En. Un. See. Ation.

Google chumming---the fine art of lacing a post in a ridiculous melange of words designed to gin up truly bizarre traffic---was taken to a new Olympian high today by one Sadie Loo Hoo Hoo, who was able to incorporate into one posting:

OJ Simpson double homicide Tom Cruise gay Oprah Winfrey blow up doll

The triple lutz salchow with the French Twist landing was of course the "Oprah Winfrey blow-up doll" line.

Lord, I have truly become the Dick Button of cheezy blogging.

UPDATE: The above linked masterstroke almost makes up for her foray into mommyblogging.

Posted by Steve at 09:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Let Us Now Praise Famous Cloves


Have I mentioned before how much I love garlic? With the possible exception of jell-o, is there a single dish on the planet that isn't enhanced by the addition of a couple of cloves? My friends, I would use garlic-flavored toothpaste if it was socially acceptable.

Posted by Robert at 09:38 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Aint love grand?

It seems like "Chip"---fearless leader of the Crack Young Staff at the Hatemonger's Quarterly (the HMQ to fashionista philosophes in humanities departments everywhere), has got himself a genuine stalker.

Ah, spring, when a young man's fancy turns to the filing of a restraining order.

Posted by Steve at 09:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observations

This is probably the single most useless post you are going to read all day:

I pass six traffic lights to get to my office. This morning, I sailed right through all of them without having to stop. I do believe this is a first.

Also, if you're looking for a good bar bet, it's 1,315 steps from the top of the Metro escalator to the front door of my building.

Posted by Robert at 09:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 15, 2006

Doing our part to mess with the minds of the scientifically minded; Or, a sordid attempt to fight the looming brrreeeport menace

Brrreeeport dibs on:

brrreeeport Melissa Theuriau
brrreeeport NFL lesbian bar-fighting cheerleaders
brrreeeport weather channel news babes Alexandra Steele
brrreeeport FOX News channel babe Juliet Huddy
brrreeeport Tina Fey is hot, just not really that funny
brrreeeport Nekkid LLama Valentine's Day curling
brrreeeport Margaret Thatcher, Peggy Noonan, a teal Thunderbird, a gun, and the open road of the American west

I mean, we've got intellectual property here to protect!

If you can think of any other gems of the LLamabutcher Empire's crown jewels that need to be defended, please let me know.

Posted by Steve at 04:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Okay, in the Vice President shooting finals matchup, who do you have: Cheney or Aaron Burr?

I'm going to have to go with Cheney because Burr what, he'd be like 250 years old by now.

UPDATE: I don't think the whole "I've got Olympics fever and just wanted to try out the biathalon for real" defense is going to hold water.

UPDATE DEUX: The Colossus is all over the emerging conspiracy theories beginning to spin out.

Let me suggest my interpretation: Mr. Whittington was the last in a long line of guardians of an ancient secret, hidden within the ample, heaving bosum of the Freemasons, and the truth that Mr. CheneyMcHalliburton---who is, by the way, a Sith Lord---was trying to kill to supress is that...

Grimace and Barney the Dinosaur were the role models for "Brokeback Mtn"---a story about big, gay, purple things, and Willie Nelson is one of them.

Oh, and George Washington started the French and Indian War.

Posted by Steve at 02:29 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


For all of those in the antique media salivating over the possibility that this is the chance to force out Dick Cheney, be careful what you ask for-you might get it. Rush suggested the possibililty of Condolezza Rice in the unlikely event Cheney were to step aside. My personal favorite is, of course, The Donald.

YIPS from Steve: Trump for VP? Geez, I can't imagine The Donald taking the second seat for anybody.

But it would be hilarious watching him at the funerals of foreign dignitaries....

INDIGNANT LMC YIPS: Steve-O, you should have clicked the link on The Donald before concluding that I meant Donald Trump, rather than the only man to hold the office of Secretary of Defense twice, former carrier pilot, congressman, ambassador, CIA director, and self-made multi-millionaire.

SGT. HULKA YIPS: Lighten up, Francis. It was a joke.

But I tell you, though, that your defense of the SecDef could be set to music---I'm thinking the theme to Shaft would work.

EVEN MORE FRANCIS YIPS: I should have seen the subtle Steve-O humor before I employed the over-the-top use of rhetorical force. Anyhoo, I was thinking maybe the theme from "SWAT".

YIPS! From Robbo: I was going to make some kind of Donald Duck joke. A quick trip through the fields of google led me to this from The World of Longmire:


Ladies and Gentlemen, this is wrong on so many levels I feel as if I'm on the verge of discovering some grand unification theory of awfulness if I can only figure out where I need to carry the seven.

Posted by LMC at 02:05 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

New Cheney-Gate Revelation!

I wasn't going to mention it for fear of adding fuel to the media flames, but somebody found us out by googling Montana llama hunt accident.

Let me just say that buckshot hurts, brutha.

YIPS from Steve: The tricky part was getting INDCent Bill into the LLama costume. But the man can definitely be moved by persuasion....

Posted by Robert at 01:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

En Fuego

If I said INDC Journal today is "flaming" or "smoking" hot, Bill will get all huffy that I'm somehow impunging his hetero manly man reputation. So let's just say he's en fuego and leave it at that.

Posted by Steve at 12:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Blame Canada

Today is the day, in 1965, that Canada tossed its absolutely terrific Red Ensign:

Red Ensign.png

and replaced it with the symbol of a dead leaf:

Maple Leaf.png

Open message to our Friends to the North: I know it's your country and all, but Jaysus, what were you guys thinking?

UPDATE: Whatever was in the water then appears to be there still - why else would there be talk of a Draft Dodger Statue?

Posted by Robert at 09:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sticking it to the Islamofascists

Kathy takes a bold stand that's sure to get Robbo's Jute blood up.

Here's my contribution:

up yurz candy heart.jpeg osama bin laden valentine.jpeg

Posted by Steve at 08:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Refresh my memory

Am I nuts, or did Lyndon Johnson accidently shoot a friend (who subsequently died) when he was a teenager?

If I'm misremembering this, my apologies in advance to the family of, of, It's all the fault of that damn Lyndon Johnson!

UPDATE: It was Adlai Stevenson--he accidently shot a young girl named Ruth Merwin.

Posted by Steve at 08:12 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 14, 2006

Anno Domini, Indeed

Debbye has a hi-larious yet flinch-inducing list of 25 signs you have grown up.

I'll fast-forward and hit you with No. 26:

26: You read this entire list looking desperately for one sign that doesn't apply to you and can't find one to save your sorry old butt. Then you forward it to a bunch of old pals & friends 'cause you know they'll enjoy it & do the same.


Posted by Robert at 11:09 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Llama Post-Valentine's Day Wrap Up


The Missus' reaction to all my crankiness: "What we got here is a failure to communicate."

If only I could have remembered the name of that damn perfume she's always on about! Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with classical music, the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Era nor Plum Wodehouse, so I am seriously SOL.

Oh, well. Off to the box.....

UPDATE: Quote corrected. Sorry - I hate that, too.

Posted by Robert at 11:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Just in time for Valentine's

Excerpt of the day:

Tom Cruise's new Mission: Impossible: To convince tabloids that he and Katie Holmes are legit.

Reps for Cruise and fiancee Katie Holmes were in super-spin mode Tuesday, furiously issuing denials after Life & Style published a "malicious" Valentine's Day story, claiming the entity otherwise known as TomKat was kaput.

In a press release and brief report on its Website, the glossy touted its Feb. 27 cover story, which bears the headline "SPLIT! And Katie's 7 Months Pregnant."

"Life & Style has learned exclusively that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have agreed to call off their wedding--and, ultimately, to split," the story says, attributing two unnamed "friends" of the couple.

The report continues, saying parents-to-be Cruise and Holmes "plan to keep up the charade of a romance until after their baby's birth this spring. In the meantime, the couple will live in his Beverly Hills home--though sleeping in separate bedrooms--through the summer," presumably after Mission: Impossible 3 reaches blockbuster status. (The sequel comes out May 5.) The report concludes by saying Cruise will buy Holmes a house nearby so she can visit their child whenever she wants and that the stars will have joint custody. The issue featuring the story is due on newsstands Friday.

Umm, new challenge?

Too bad Tradesports doesn't have a market set up for this one.

Posted by Steve at 09:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Valentine's Day at Rancho non-sequitor

We've got us a new celebrity endorsement:

What? Stephen, it's not as if I read your little blog!

To which I replied, in best Napoleon Dynamite form, "Gosh!"

I love my wife, I do.

Posted by Steve at 09:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Light Fuse, Stand Back

Here's a nifty little Valentine's gadget - the Acme Heart Maker. Build your own virtual candy heart!

Here's mine:


Here are a couple more propitiary ideas:


Posted by Robert at 04:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

By The Pricking Of My Hooves.....

As the day goes on, I become increasingly of the opinion that if I show up at home this evening completely empty-handed, I'm going to be in a world of hurt.

I see the Maximum Leader, who shares my general sentiments about the whole Valentine's business, decided to go all Vichy early on. Perhaps a wise move....

UPDATE: Not to mimic the ML too much, but I would point out that if you're stuck for a last-minute present, we do stock the ever-popular Llama Luv Thong.

Posted by Robert at 01:53 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Royal Navy Historickal Posting (TM)

Nelson Boarding the San Josef at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent
by George Jones, 1829

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Cape St. Vincent in 1797, in which Admiral Sir John Jervis, commanding 15 ships of the line, took on and routed a Spanish fleet of 27 ships of the line under Admiral Jose de Cordova.

Part of the British squadron was under the command of Commodore Nelson aboard the 74-gun HMS Captain.

As the fight continued the Captain became more and more damaged until, in Nelson's own words she had "lost her foremast, not a sail, shroud or rope standing, the wheel shot away, and incapable of further service in the line or chase". Nelson brought her up alongside the SAN NICOLAS and ordered boarders away. "The soldiers of the 69th Regiment, with an alacrity which will ever do them credit, with Lieutenant Pierson of the same Regiment ... broke the upper quarter-gallery window, jumped in, followed by myself (Nelson) and others."

There then followed a stiff fight against the Spanish and the ship was eventually taken, the ensign being hauled down by Captain Berry.

At that point Nelson saw the SAN JOSEF alongside and ordered his boarders to cross onto that ship and to take her. "When I got into her main-chains, a Spanish officer came upon the quarter-deck rail, without arms and said the ship was surrendered."

This incident became known as 'Nelson's Patent Bridge for Boarding First-Rates'.

"Nelson's Bridge" was one of the first incidents involving him to capture the imagination of the British public and has, of course, become an important part of the legend surrounding him. Here is a poem on the subject written by William Cox Bennett in the 19th Century:

Of all the bridges ever used, you'll own with one consent,
The noblest was the glorious one our Nelson dared invent;
The bridge he trod to glory, when, on St. Vincent's day,
Together the San Nicolas and the huge San Josef lay.
Alongside the San Nicolas our Nelson trod his deck,
But mastless, and without her wheel, the Captain lay a wreck;
Ringed round by five three-deckers, she had fought through all the fight,
And now, a log upon the waves, she lay, a glorious sight,
All crippled, but still full of fight, for still her broadsides roared,
Still death and wounds, fear and defeat, into the Don she poured;
Yet there she fought, without a sail, without a shroud or rope—
To get at the San Josef, it seemed beyond a hope;
Out then our Admiral spoke, and well his words our blood could stir,
‘In, boarders, to their seventy-four! we'll make a bridge of her.’
Then one fierce cheer that victory meant, across the battle rang;
Into the Spaniards' mizen chains in swarms our boarders sprang;
Through their stern state-room windows, with shout and yell we crashed,
And through their cabin to their deck, with Nelson, on we dashed;
With slash and thrust, all clear right soon from stern to stem we swept;
Then, boys, for their three-decker, and up her sides we leapt;
It seemed, my lads, but minutes, and all was ours aboard,
And Nelson, on her quarter-deck, stood with her Admiral's sword
And, by the light within his eyes, it needed none to tell,
That, to his thinking, as to ours, his bridge had answered well.
Now ours be peace, and never more may such deeds needful be,
But if they're wanted, mind me well, where'er you sail the sea,
If, one to two, you're matched with foes, be sure no chance you lose,
To try again the glorious bridge our Nelson dared to use.

Meanwhile, Admiral Jervis was created Earl St. Vincent in recognition of his victory.

Posted by Robert at 01:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What would Valentine's Day be without your recommended daily dose of The Hate

I'm a Doctor after all, dammit!

The Hate (aka The HMQ) discusses love, romance, and how to deal with pesky online fans who mail in their underwear.

SOOPER SEKRIT NOTE to "Chip": Yes, they do have internet access in most federal prisons; yes, you should be very afraid.

Enough from me---back to bed. Ugggh.

Posted by Steve at 09:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Apparently, photon torpedos are next

It's too bad James "Mr. Scott" Doohan didn't live to see this day.

It sucks, actually---what with government mad scientists getting the big bucks to develop combat lasers and time travel, and the only one I know likes to commit genocidal war-crimes on minnows.

Posted by Steve at 09:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Seeing Daylight

Did I mention that office assignments have been rejigged around here and as of today I will have, for the first time in a year and a half, a window?

Go ahead and ask me if I'm excited about this. Go on, ask!

UPDATE: More good news - I now get clear reception of Classical 104 WGMS. The bad news? It's one of those commercial Classic Lite stations that plays mostly drivel and warhorses.

Posted by Robert at 09:35 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Hulk Arrest!

Lou Ferrigno becomes a county sheriff's deputy.

YIPS from Steve: If it was motivated by THIS story, than I think Cinemax might be getting the call from Jerry Bruckenheimer for CSI: Spottsylvania County.

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

Would you be mine...

...could you be mine...
...won't you be my LLamatine...

(If you're not seeing shades of pink and red over in the right sidebar under the Get Some Skin Header, select the LLamatines Day option and clicken the Change Style Button)

STOMACH VIRUS SICKBED YIPS from Steve: Aye, that's the stuff to bring a tear to me eye.

Now pardon me while I trundle off to go vomit.

Posted by phin at 09:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thoughts On Our Special Valentine's Day Skin.

Just one word.

Posted by Robert at 09:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 13, 2006


Once again, it is time for another stroll down amnesia lane with the babes of yesteryear. For all those who have a thing for brunette in this age of blondes and redheads, we reach waaaaaay back. Tonight's feature: Ali MacGraw. Claims to fame: Love Story, that tale of love and loss. Love Story was that movie used by many an inexperienced male of the species in an often futile attempt to soften up his intended's defenses to make her more susceptible to his charms. Love Story was the peak of her career although I think she did a pretty good job as Natalie Jastrow in the miniseries The Winds of War, based on the book by the same name, a good read for anyone. Ali, we will always remember you like this.

Posted by LMC at 09:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Valentine LLamas

#1 on Google, baby!

Posted by Steve at 08:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Reading To The Kids

Here in the Bonny Glen is hosting the mother of all Carnivals of Children's Literature. Go on over and browse away. Speaking for myself, I saw references to any number of children's books I'd never heard of before.

Posted by Robert at 04:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Llama Luv

Looks like we're No. 5 in a google search for grumpy valentines, which means I need to try harder.

Meanwhile, the sultry and mysterious Agent Bedhead poses the question for the season. Judging by the fact that she's turned off comments, I can only suppose that the early answers have been shmokin'.

And speaking of Valentines celebrations, SOOPER SEKRET MESSAGE to Steve-O, Sadie and Phin: Don't. Do. It.

Posted by Robert at 03:47 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Bang, Bang

I confess that I seem to be missing something about this Cheney shooting business. Here's J-Pod, of all people, fussing about it in The Corner:

This story is a very big deal, despite all the mitigating factors -- the accident involved a friend, his medical team was right there to help, and all that. Something like this has never happened before, and it is a genuinely disturbing thing to think that the vice president of the United States actually shot somebody last weekend, even for fans of his. It's disturbing as well that there was a news blackout that lasted nearly a day about this serious incident. It seems beyond question that the vice president is going to have to go before the cameras, explain what happened, and show genuine remorse for his actions, however inadvertent. It's a difficult challenge for someone as reticent as Dick Cheney. But unless he does so, and makes a good showing of it, he will be damaged goods for the remainder of the Bush presidency.

Well....it doesn't seem to me that the underlying story is, in and of itself, "a very big deal". Cheney was out hunting with his buddies and accidentally popped one of them. Fortunately, the guy appears to be okay. When I read that, I simply shrugged and said, "Oh". Dunno - maybe I spent too many years hunting myself to be overly bothered.

If there is a big deal, it is the rapidly-developing game of political gotcha. And if that's what J-Pod thinks Cheney needs to deal with, then I agree.

On the other hand, I already sense some eyes beginning to bulge, some saliva beginning to fly and some tongues beginning to be swallowed. Cheney may not have all that big a task ahead of him if his political enemies play to their usual form of shrieking, over-the-top outrage - in their effort to take him down they may well wind up, if you'll pardon the expression, shooting themselves in the foot.

UPDATE: J-Pod follows up with a post that seems to emphasize the politics over the actual incident. Meanwhile, K-Lo posts a piece of the aforementioned tongue-swallowing.

UPDATE DEUX: Release the hounds!

UPDATE TROIS: Margi Lowry suggests some guests for Dick's next hunting party.

UPDATE QUATR: So does Rachel. I smell meme-age. Get going.

Posted by Robert at 01:38 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Netflix: The Dark Side

Jonathan V. Last has a post up about Netflix's apparent practice of "throttling" heavy use customers - delaying shipments and putting them at the back of the line for popular releases in order to keep its margins up.

I haven't worked out the math, but I would guess I go through fifteen or more movies a month - I tend to watch them as soon as I recieve them and return them immediately. I've noticed glitches in my own shipping schedule from time to time, but have always assumed this had something to do with the post office. This article makes me wonder if I may not be getting targeted for this kind of practice myself.

Hmph. And while we're on the subject, here's another Netflix crime: They don't carry a copy of Eric the Viking.

UPDATE: Just in case you're wondering, here is the current oddball queue:

Monteverdi: L'Orfeo - Claudio Monteverdi is credited as the inventor of the operatic form and this telling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, written in 1607, can be said to be the very first opera. I have an old videotape of a production done by Nicholas Harnicourt way back in the 70's which is very good, but I'm thinking it's time to update.

Bullets Over Broadway - Part of Woody Allen's short-lived mid-90's mini-resurgance, and fortunately Woody isn't in it himself, his character being left to John Cusack.

Lully: Persee - This is a shot in the dark for me. I am familiar with some of Jean-Baptiste Lully's chamber music, but aside from the fact that it was composed for Louis XIV, I know nothing about this opera.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding - I remember how this caught everybody by surprise with its success. Thought it would be fun to go back and visit.

Mozart: Don Giovanni - I am hunting around for a first class production and this looks promising. It's a period instrument performance from 2000 and stars Thomas Allen as the malevolent Don.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Is this not the quintissential 80's movie? It occured to me not long ago that it's been ages since I've seen it without commercial interruption.

Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro - I've got a good production of this by John Eliot Gardiner already, but I wanted to give another performance a try. Here, Hermann Prey stars as Figaro. And Kiri de Kanawa sings the Contessa, so you know it can't be all bad.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Came across this while browsing and thought, "Oh, yeah - I've never actually seen it before."

King Arthur - the gratuitous Truly Bad Film pick. As a matter of fact, there is some evidence that the historical Arthur (whose existence is, I believe, pretty well accepted) may well have been a member of the Romanized British upper classes. Frankly, I've always thought the notion of Arthur's attempt to save this furthest outpost of classical civilization from the Saxon hordes to be far more moving than the stock stuff about dragons, wizards and love triangles.

The Searchers - Classic John Wayne.

Red River - Another Wayne flick and one that I haven't seen before.

Only Angels Have Wings Cary Grant as a bush pilot in South America sizzling over Jean Arthur. It's an odd mish-mash of a movie - a silly plot but with some terrific dialogue and compelling acting, a combination of sick-making arial shots and cheap-o models. Go figure. I, for one, happen to enjoy it. (Plus, the flat-voiced radio chant "Calling Baranca.......Calling Baranca....." long ago became a family joke in my house.)

So there you have it.

Posted by Robert at 10:05 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

Well, even though Fairfax County schools are closed today, the Llama-ettes only scored a two hour delay from St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method.

Yesterday afternoon turned out to be nearly perfect in an odd way. As I said, I spent about three hours shoveling the drive and sidewalks while the gels trouped down the street to play with their friends. Hard work, but the exercise felt very good.

After I got cleaned up, the Missus and I were able to have brunch together in peace and quiet. What a treat to talk about grown up things! And at something approaching a conversational volume as well!

Feeling motivated, I then sat down and did the taxes, in no way encumbered by the fact that the power went out and my fortress of solitude is a bit on the dim side.

Later in the afternoon, as I had promised myself, I lit a fire and sat down with a well-earned glass of the right stuff. By then, the Llama-ettes had returned. As I sat there, the four year old marched into the library, announced, "My bottom needs warming!" and promptly dropped trou standing on the hearth.

Friends, let me tell you that single malt tastes better on the palate than in the sinuses.

Posted by Robert at 09:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 12, 2006

The Answer Is Robbo. On the Driveway. With the Snow Shovel.

Looks like we got about nine inches a foot or so and more from Dee Cee's Storm of the Century of the Week last night and it's still coming down a bit this morning. Needless to say, the Llama-ettes have been up since the crack of dawn making loud demands about snowsuits, gloves and boots and planning all sorts of snow-related activities. From their talk, you'd think we wouldn't see them again for at least three days, but I know from experience that their actual outdoor endurance time usually works out to about half an hour at a stretch. Considering it seems to take at least forty five minutes to get them geared up, I sometimes wonder about whether this investment is really worth the return.

Once the snow tapers off, I suppose I'll have to go shovel the damn driveway. Of course, this will be right about the time the wind decides to kick up, too. (It rained enough yesterday to coat the trees with ice. If the wind really starts whipping, we may get some damage.) Oh, well - the important thing is to set yourself the appropriate incentive. Mine will be the fire and the glass of single malt waiting in the library when I'm done.

UPDATE: Correction - make that fifteen minutes. The Llama-ettes report that the snow was too powdery for snowman building purposes and also got too cold and wet before they were able to bash out a sledding trail. Perhaps I'll give them a hand once I get done with the driveway.

UPDATE DEUX: Almost three hours on the driveway and sidewalks, stopping now and again to kibutz with my neighbor. To me, there is no better example of man's inhumanity to man than the air with which the plowtrucks come by and throw fresh slushy ice on the end of one's driveway, utterly unconcerned with whether one has just cleared it off. Bastards.

The Llama-ettes wound up trudging down to a neighbor's house to play with their kids. They came back and had another go at bashing out their sledding run. I'd say they're about halfway down the hill by now. But since I don't think this snow is going to go away for a while, they should be able to get some runs in in the next few days.

Now here's the question: The storm is long gone and we're all dug out. What are the odds that Fairfax County is going to go ahead and close all its schools tomorrow anyway. Pretty good, I would say.

UPDATE TROIS: Oh, my prophetic soul!

Posted by Robert at 08:15 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

February 11, 2006

Big Brother Goes Into Real Estate

This is interesting - Zillow provides a buying/selling pricing tool by taking high res satellite images and overlaying them with street and house information, including estimated values.

FWIW, the data for our neighborhood looks about right, although Tee Bee, from whom I swiped the link, reports less than accurate info for her neck of the woods.

Posted by Robert at 04:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Lend Me Your Locklear

In her inaugural "Ask Agent Bedhead" column, Agent B has some sound relationship advice for Heather.

Posted by Robert at 04:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

Charles Rosen, whom I consider to be one of the giants among classical musicologists, reviews Richard Taruskin's The Oxford History of Western Music, in which Taruskin attempts to navigate the shoal water of placing musical development in its social and cultural context.

It's a long article (the first of two parts, in fact, which tantalyzingly stops short with Rosen's discussion of Monteverdi), but very much worth the time if you are at all interested in music.

Yips! to A.C. Douglas.

Posted by Robert at 02:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Great Scot!

I know I'm slow in getting around to it, but waiting for the Storm of the Century of the Week to start pummeling us with frozen hams this afternoon, I went over to Annika's place and checked out the trailer for Brokeback To The Future.

Heh heh heh.

Posted by Robert at 02:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 10, 2006

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones But Words Scare The Hell Out Of Me!


Evidently, this guy must have had a session with the Piranha Brothers:

Vercotti: Well, I had been running a successful escort agency - high class, no really, high class girls - we didn't have any of that. That was right out. And I decided. (phone rings on desk) Excuse me (he answers it) Hello......no, not now......shtoom...shtoom....right......yes, we'll have the watch ready for you at midnight.......the watch.....the Chinese watch....yes, right-oh, bye-bye.... mother (he replaces reciever) Anyway I decided then to open a high-class night club for the gentry at Biggleswade with International cuisine, uh, an' cooking, top-line acts, and not a cheap clip joint for picking up tarts, that was right out, I deny that completely, and one night Dinsdale walked in with a couple of big lads, one of whom was carrying a tactical nuclear missile. They said I'd bought one of their fruit machines and would I pay for it.

Interviewer: How much did they want?

Vercotti: Three quarters of a million pounds. Then they went out.

Interviewer: Why didn't you call the police?

Vercotti: Well I had noticed that the lad with the thermo-nuclear device was the Chief Constable for the area. Anyway a week later they came back, said that the cheque had bounced and that I had to see Doug.

Interviewer: Doug?

Vercotti: Doug. (takes a drink) Well I was terrified. Everyone was terrified of Doug. I've seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was frightened of Doug.

Interviewer: What did he do?

Vercotti: He used .....sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire. He was vicious.

So is the point of this sign to claim that poor Islamo-fascists are the real victims or else just to justify their killing people and burning buildings down on the theory of hey - you started it?

Yips! to Jihad Watch via Cardinal Martini.

Posted by Robert at 03:07 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


The Irish Elk has an interesting take on the Cartoon Wars.

Posted by Steve at 03:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why playing "Age of Empires II" has made me a better man


Skeptical? Yeah, I'm not buying it either.

BTW, just got Age of Empires III, and I'll have to say I'm a bit underwhelmed. It's got a huge cheesecake factor for Robbo as he'll be able to play and replay the British Empire circa 1769, and make all his Life Guard Hussars march in a line, but there's something really missing from it that doesn't make it as much fun as AEII.

More later.

Posted by Steve at 02:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"After several minutes..."

Best nooz story of the day.

Posted by Steve at 02:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Who Put The "Oomp" In The "Oomp Pah Pah-Pi-Pah"?

You scored as Tuba. You're a tuba. Ummmmmm. That's all.













French Horn








String Bass






If you were in an orchestra, what instrument would match your personality?
created with QuizFarm.com

Well I certainly didn't expect this.

But it reminds me of something. (Just stay with me for a second here.) When I was a kid, I remember seeing an old clay-mation cartoon about a tuba that was sad because it was the only instrument in the orchestra that didn't get to play a tune of its own. This tuba winds up meeting a frog or somesuch that teaches it a low, croaky, hummy sort of song for its very own. The tuba takes the tune back to the orchestra and plays it to their accompaniment and everybody is happy. That tune, or some permutation of it, has been stuck in my head for about 35 years now. And I almost think the story is based on a real classical piece - perhaps by one of the more modern Russians.

If this rings a bell (so to speak) with anyone, let me know. Otherwise, I'm going to have to have a long talk with Mom about what she was putting in my spaghettios.

Yips! to Oboe-wan-CalTechGirl.

UPDATE: This is the guy:

Tubby the Tuba (1947)

Here's a site about it. Apparently, what I remember as clay-mation was actually something called a puppetoon.

Thanks, Utron!

Posted by Robert at 12:20 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Storm Of The Century Of The Week Watch

Woo Hoo! Dee Cee hasn't had much of a chance to panic so far this year:

... Winter Storm Watch remains in effect from Saturday morning through late Saturday night...

A Winter Storm Watch remains in effect from Saturday morning
through late Saturday night.

A strong low pressure system will develop along the Gulf Coast
today... and move northeast to the mid-Atlantic Saturday. A band
of moderate to heavy snow is likely to develop across the region
Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. Snow may mix with rain or
sleet Saturday morning through Saturday afternoon south of the
Washington DC metropolitan area... before colder air moves in late
Saturday afternoon and Saturday night and turns any mixed
precipitation to all snow. At this time... a swath of snowfall of 5
inches or more is likely across the area... with accumulations up
to ten inches possible.

Northeast winds at 15 to 25 mph Saturday will shift to the north
Saturday night. The combination of moderate to heavy snow and wind
has the potential to reduce visibility to below one half of a mile.
Please be prepared for the possibility of hazardous winter weather
Saturday and Saturday night. A Winter Storm Warning may need to be
issued later today or tonight.

'Bout time, too. I noticed this week that the dicentra out by the front door has already broken ground and the camilla by the basement door has buds all over it.

Posted by Robert at 09:47 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

"Wonder-Twin Powers, Activate!"


Zan: "Form of - Gumby's inbred ice cousin!"

Jayna: "Shape of - his sister-bride!"

(Just felt like saying that. By the way - unless you're Italian, it's "Turin" not "Torino", dammit.)

BTW, I doubt if I'll watch much of it at all.

Posted by Robert at 09:16 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 09, 2006

Get out of their way

The Crack Young Staff at the HateMongers Quarterly, in an extremely testy mood because they failed to put in the winning bid for William Shatner's kidney stone, open up a Costco Beef-a-roni sized can of whuppass on Cindy Sheehan's latest hypocrisy.

Posted by Steve at 11:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Episco Shield.png

It's the Blog of Daniel, put out by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (or "EDOW" as the posts are signed).

The blog apparently was started to "dialogue" (as we like to say) about NBC's short-lived Book of Daniel, (or as I recently called it, Desperate Housewives Go To Seminary) but seems to have blossomed into a forum to discuss a wide variety of social, political and theological topics. (Among today's posts is a piece on how the Church of England has decided to go after the Caterpillar Co. for selling bulldozers to those mean ol' Israelis.)

Actually, after a quick scan, I think this blog is a good thing, as it offers a window into the heart of Episcopal liberalism today. Alas, it's also a bad thing, as it offers a window into the heart of Episcopal liberalism today.

(Y'all realize that, vestry membership notwithstanding, sooner or later I'm going to get hauled off to my own parish's Harmony Hut for making remarks like this.)

UPDATE: Speaking of such things, here's a thread of Episcopalian jokes. The opener is one I haven't heard before:

Jesus said to them, "Who do you say that I am?"

They replied, "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma of which we find the ultimate meaning in our interpersonal relationships."

And Jesus said, "What?"

LOL. Read some more - the usual blend of social snobbery, liberal politics and hazy theology, but quite funny.

UPDATE DEUX: Kewel Episcopal Shield added. I really, really love our shield.

UPDATE TROIS: For a different perspective, check out Christopher Johnson's Midwest Conservative Journal. I may need to add a whole new Episco-blog subcategory to the blogroll.

Posted by Robert at 03:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

[Insert Homer Simpson Drooling Noise Here]


A friend of mine is picking up for me an autographed copy of James Swanson's new book Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer.

I walk past Ford's Theatre every day and usually think about what it must have been like back in April, 1865. 'Course, if John Wilkes Booth had tried to flee nowadays, I'm sure he would either be hopelessly ensnared in a throng of high school kids from Iowa or else squashed in the street by one of Metro's red light-running buses. And serves him right.

Anyhoo, I've heard nothing but good things about this book. I'll let you know what I think once I've read it.

Posted by Robert at 01:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Historickal Posting

Constantine XI.jpg

Today is the birthday in 1404 of Constantine XI, the last Emperor of the Byzantine (or Eastern Roman) Empire. (Go here for a brief description of Rome's imperial successor.)

By the time of Constantine, the Empire (which had reached its greatest power in the 9th and 10th Centuries, dominating the Eastern Mediterranean) was a mere shadow of its former self, consisting of not much more than the city of Constantinople itself, its immediate environs and one or two outposts. In 1452, the Ottoman Turks rolled in and, after a nearly two month siege, captured Constantinople, thus finally ending the Empire. Constantine fought until the end. When the Turks breached the walls of the city, he recognized its doom, tore off his cloak and charged into the mass of his enemies, never to be seen again. Steven Runciman's The Fall of Constantinople, 1453 is an excellent book on the subject.

I still remember the chill I got when I realized that the last of the Roman Emperors died a mere 49 39 (forgot to carry the one) years prior to Columbus's discovery of America and that Europe's westward exploration was the direct result of the panic caused by this symbolic victory of the rising Ottoman power in the East. We often think of ancient and modern history as being disconnected, but in learning about this I saw for the first time how closely sutured together they really are.

Man, I love history.

Posted by Robert at 12:57 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

More Science Geekery You Can Use

A Game Theoretic Approach To The Toilet Seat Problem.

Is there by any chance a similar game theory approach to the problem of getting children to flush?

Yips! to Gary the Ex-Donk.

Posted by Robert at 12:24 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

"You Say 'To-May-To' And I Say 'Ka-Boom'"

Dubya gives some details today about a post-9/11 Al Qaida plot to crash a plane into a Los Angeles tower that we managed to break up by gathering intel and moving on it.

Meanwhile, deep-cover Rove operative Howard Dean fears that our War on Terror efforts are transmogrifying us into another Iran.

Know what this reminds me of? Back in the late 70's, rampant urban street crime came to a head as a national political issue. Ronald Reagan - and people like Rudy Giuliani after him - campaigned in response on a platform of law and order. The Donks, in turn, spent a lot of time blaming Society in general. To the average little old lady voter, the GOP appeared to be saying, "We will work to protect you." The Dem message, on the other hand, translated as, "You don't care about being mugged in the street - you're really just a racist."

The Donks have never recovered.

My point here is that national security is going to be The Issue for the foreseeable future. There is no way in hell the Donks are going to take back power unless and until they manage to establish their own credibility on the matter. They are not going to establish such credibility by continually screaming at voters that they're being duped by Dubya into surrendering to a theocratic police state.

Posted by Robert at 12:07 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Anglophilic Posting

Now this is really cool. Long lost notes from meetings of Britain's Royal Society for the years 1661 to 1682 have been rediscovered in an old cupboard in Hampshire. The notes record debate and discussion among some of the 17th Century's scientific heavyweights, inculding Wren, Hooke, Leibniz, Aubrey, Evelyn and Newton.

Apparently, the rediscovery of these minutes makes the Society's archives complete from its founding in 1660 under Charles II up to the present.

The bad news? The manuscripts were discovered by an appraiser for Bonham's auctioneers and are going to be put on the block in March. The Society itself can't afford the expected million pound selling price and various Friends appear to be scrambling to find a way to get the records back to it.

What would be really, really cool? If whoever bought the notes donated them back to the Society. Message to potential bidders out there: Think about it.

Just to geek out about it a bit, here is a list of Presidents of the Royal Society from the 17th to the 19th Century:

17th century Presidents

1662-1677 William, Viscount Brouncker
1677-1680 Sir Joseph Williamson
1680-1682 Sir Christopher Wren
1682-1683 Sir John Hoskins, Bart
1683-1684 Sir Cyril Wyche
1684-1686 Samuel Pepys
1686-1689 John, Earl of Carbery (Lord Vaughan)
1689-1690 Thomas, Earl of Pembroke, KG
1690-1695 Sir Robert Southwell
1695-1698 Charles Montagu (afterwards Earl of Halifax, KG)

18th century Presidents

1698-1703 John, Lord Somers
1703-1727 Sir Isaac Newton
1727-1741 Sir Hans Sloane, Bart
1741-1752 Martin Folkes
1752-1764 George, Earl of Macclesfield
1764-1768 James, Earl of Morton (Lord Aberdour)
1768-1768 James (afterwards Sir James) Burrow
1768-1772 James West
1772-1772 James (afterwards Sir James) Burrow
1772-1778 Sir John Pringle, Bart

19th century Presidents

1778-1820 Sir Joseph Banks, Bart, PC
1820-1820 William Hyde Wollaston
1820-1827 Sir Humphry Davy, Bart
1827-1830 Davies Gilbert (formerly Giddy)
1830-1838 HRH The Duke of Sussex
1838-1848 Joshua Alwyne Compton, Marquess of Northampton
1848-1854 William Parsons, Earl of Rosse
1854-1858 John, Lord Wrottesley
1858-1861 Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie, Bart
1861-1871 Sir Edward Sabine, KCB
1871-1873 Sir George Biddell Airy, KCB
1873-1878 Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, OM, GCSI
1878-1883 William Spottiswoode
1883-1885 Thomas Henry Huxley, PC
1885-1890 Sir George Gabriel Stokes, Bart.
1890-1895 Lord Kelvin (Sir William Thomson), PC, OM
1895-1900 Lord Lister, PC, OM

Mmmmm.....Rule, Britannia.....mmmmmmm.

Yips! to Rachel.

UPDATE: Rex Ferric points us to this extremely funny site dedicated to the Lord Kelvin. I dunno - it seems the Flying Spaghetti Monster may have some serious competition. Conservation from entropy without all those messy noodles sounds pretty good to me.

Posted by Robert at 10:22 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Flying High*

Steve-O joins the Mile High Club.

* Am I the only person on the planet that remembers this short-lived late 70's show? LMC, this was not one of Connie Sellecca's better moments.

Posted by Robert at 09:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Alert reader Rebecca sends us word of the camelid party of the year in Utah Valley.

Actually, I used to go to this on a regular basis but got banned after the incident with the hot air balloon and the watermelons. My suspension is about up, however, so maybe it's time to head on back.

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 09:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


For all who have a thing for brunettes, the incomparable Connie Selleca from The Greatest American Hero. What more needs to be said?

Posted by LMC at 06:39 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 08, 2006

More Cranky Valentine's Day Sighting Shots

Owlish links to a pair of curmugeonly articles on the subject exposing the dark underbelly of the FTD/Hallmark/Zales Beast.

And lest any of you think I'm shortchanging the Missus, let me be quick to assure you that she feels the same way as I do about being hustled into purchasing $60 dozens of roses.

Posted by Robert at 06:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I'm sorry, but I think Drudge's pics of the Olympic pigeons crapping on Katie Couric are pretty funny.

Bet they wouldn't do that to Melissa.

Posted by Robert at 03:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"Behold This Land! And We Shall Call It...'This Land'!"

A little local knowledge blegging:

Some people I know are planning to move to the Greensboro/High Point (NC) area. If anybody out there knows anything, well, useful about the place that I could pass along, consider yourself invited to shoot me a line to the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack.

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 02:23 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Cartoon Jihad

As long as everybody seems to be in the mood to ban certain cartoons from the papers, can we pleeeeeease add Close To Home to the no go list?

I don't know if this strip's wretched art work and cheap Far Side rip-off humor violate the teachings of any of the great monotheistic religions. If not, they certainly ought to.

Just sayin'.

Posted by Robert at 01:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Fun and games with Professor LLamabutcher

Today in Legal Theory and Public Policy we were working on Lon Fuller's failures of legal systems, using our own honor code as an example to (unfortunately) explain each of Fuller's eight points. We started class with the random idea I had on class Monday, of using the lyrics of Folsom Prison Blues and Lincoln's Second Inaugural to illuminate the concepts. Having the kiddies read them out together, particularly how these two moral concepts are related in terms of the expectations we place on ourselves, but also the expectations placed on others, was pretty cool.
lon fuller morality of law.jpeg

Civil Liberties seminar after lunch we are continuing our Civil Liberties during War theme by doing the Youngstown Sheet and Tube v. Sawyer case, often known as "Steel Seizure." Monday was the Civil War era Prize Cases, and Friday is US v. US District Court, the decision on domestic surveillance that led to FISA. It was nice Jimmy Carter made such a big deal yesterday about the surveillance of the Kings by that evil John Ashcroft and Chimpy Mc Hitleralliburton---oh wait, it was Saint Bobby Kennedy..........warning, danger danger, does not compute does not compute....

albions seed.jpeg

This afternoon in The Rivalry that Shaped America (the senior seminar) we are doing the second half of David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed, looking at patterns of English immigration in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and its affect on American political culture. Fischer concludes the book with some interesting looks at American political trends in the 20th century, up to the election of 1988. We're going to take it through the election of 2004, particularly the role of "NASCAR Dads" and "Security moms" and to what degree Fischer's type of political cultural analysis really holds water.

Posted by Steve at 12:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Following a google search here for dangerous llamas, I came across this interesting article on Dangerous Behavior In Llamas by Alvin Bean. Given all the Valentine Llama crap that's started to appear, I thought this would provide some useful counterbalancing information.

I'd say that Bean knows her stuff:

The Aggressive Llama

This llama is usually an "over-handled" llama who is intact (an un-gelded male), has often been bred, and has received no training or intervention. However, in our experience, we have seen llamas who had no prior history become aggressive later in life without obvious provocation except for management changes. Behaviors include:

- screaming at people on sight
- spitting on people on sight
- charging fence lines and attempting to bite or spit on people on the other side, and/or attempting to jump over or get through the fence

If people should enter the enclosure the llama may:

- charge at full gallop and hit the human with chest and knees
- bite
- rear
- stomp

Usually this results in minor or major human injuries (although no deaths from this type of behavior have ever been documented).

Sums us up pretty well, dontcha think? [But Sooper Sekret Message to Alvin - there's no documentation because we're also experts at hiding the bodies.]

Just don't even ask about "Berserk Llamas".

Posted by Robert at 11:53 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Birthday Round-up

This sort of thing is supposed to be Robbo's gig, but since he was all a swoon what with Odana Matthews and the Giant Gestapo trying to pry loose his phone number so to be able to track with their rogue NSA satelites his avocado and pinot noir purchasing habits, he missed that yesterday was Laura Ingalls Wilder's 139th birthday.

Fortunately, Melissa was on the job and gives us the full round up.

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

A Little Learning Is A Dangerous Thing

The eldest Llama-ette and her best friend have been studiously researching Germany for "Thinking Day" at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. In her studies, she stumbled across "Der fröhliche Wanderer" ("The Happy Wanderer"), the song with the chorus that goes:

Valderi! Valdera!
Valderi! Valdera ha ha ha ha ha haa!

Of course, she immediately taught this song to her sisters and all three have been belting it out with vigor. Now I can't get the damned thing out of my head. How about you?

Share and enjoy!

Posted by Robert at 10:16 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observations

Have you ever been driving down a perfectly familiar stretch of road, one you've travelled literally thousands of times, and suddenly, for a split second, felt that you didn't have the faintest idea where you were? It's something that happens to me every now and again and is really quite unnerving.

I've never really thought about the fear associated with more extended bouts of memory loss, but it must be absolutely terrifying.

Posted by Robert at 09:51 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Nobody Ever Said This About INDCent Bill!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Ten Fingers, 6 Strings, who says of us Llamas:

If you can make it through any of their posts without laughing, then you have no soul.

Thankee kindly! Yip! Yip!

[Sooper Sekret Message To Those Of You Who Prove Soulless: If you happen to run into Sarah Michele Gellar, um, say 'hi' for us, okay? Thanks!]

UPDATE: Welcome INDCent Bill readers! Have to admit, Billikins, that one was pretty good.

Posted by Robert at 12:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Cranky Grocery Store Blogging

I can understand Giant (pronounced "Gee-aunt" around here) flogging their bonus card, but what I cannot understand is their flogging it to the point of brutal obsessiveness:

Cashier: Do you have a bonus card?

Self: Um, no.

Cashier: Well, can I try your phone number?

Self: No, really. Don't worry about it.

Cashier: (Sniff.) Well, you really should have a bonus card. Look! You could have saved 59 cents this evening!

Self: Yes, well let me worry about that, thank you.

Cashier: [As if I had just announced my intention to eat the Baby Jesus] Suit yourself.

I'm still puzzled about the business model of the whole thing. The possession of a Giant bonus card has no impact whatsoever on what items I buy or the quantity thereof. In fact, I ignore the whole card hoo-haw for the very reasons that a ) a few cents one way or the other do not matter to me and b) I hate the extra fuss at the cash register. The only reason I can think of that would explain Giant's excessive hawking of the bloody things is that they expect me to change my purchasing habits to conform with whatever supplier bonuses they receive for hustling the damned things so aggressively. Well, bugger that.

Ah, well. It could be worse. A few years back, Safeway decided it would try to bolster customer relations by instructing its cashiers to become extra friendly with people checking out. I distinctly remember one cold, wet evening when I'd written a check for whatever it was I was buying and handed it to the cashier. I was exhausted and in no mood for intimacy:

Self: Here you go.

Clerk: [Looking at check] Thank you, uh....do you prefer Bob or Rob?

Self: It's not important.

Clerk: But which one do you prefer?

Self: [Tight-lipped] I prefer Mr. Llama, thank you.

Clerk: [Taken aback] Uh...alright.

I didn't especially mean to smack down the poor woman, who was only doing her job, but it slipped out. Evidently, I was not the only one to resist, however, because the entire program ended not long after. Which is just as well - if there is one thing I cannot stick, it is uninvited familiarity.

Oh, well. I've got nowhere else to go with this post except to say that I wish Gee-aunt would just accept that some of us are not interested in its cards and leave it at that.

Posted by Robert at 12:04 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

February 07, 2006


The libs will not miss an opportunity to turn a memorial service into a political rally. This, courtesy of Drudge.

Posted by LMC at 08:07 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

More Cranky Valentine's Day Sighting Shots

If you haven't figured it out yet, I am no fan of Valentine's Day. While I don't much go in for conspiracy theories as a rule, I see this as nothing more than a plot by the Hallmark-FTD-Kay Jewelers' Axis of Evil and all their hangers-on to hoover our wallets.

But what really gets me is when we Llamas get dragged into things. This report, sent in by Dorkafork and longtime commenter RBJ, now puts us in the Lake District:

A charity with the slogan "get calmer with a llama" is offering romantic country strolls for the lovelorn, leading a llama together around the picturesque Lake District in north-western England.

"Chatting over a llama is certainly a novel way to meet people in a relaxed environment, and participants can enjoy a romantic picnic afterwards - carried by the ever obliging llamas in their backpacks," said owner Mary Walker.

Ms. Walker evidently is living in the Bizarro World:

Walker, whose Lakeland Llamas charity helps the disabled, is keen to assure lonely hearts that contrary to their bad press, the South American relatives of the camel do not habitually spit at or bite people but are in fact friendly and docile.

Yeah, right. Toss a wicker basket on my back in the name of a massive consumer shakedown smothered in ersatz romanticism and see what happens.

UPDATE: Professor Chaos sends in the same article, hoping for citation credit. You want a link? Dance, my friend! Dance!

Posted by Robert at 02:35 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Book Review (TM)

Sharpe's Trafalgar by Bernard Cornwell.

Young Mr. Sharpe takes to the high seas, trying to make his way back from India to join up with the 95th Rifles and finding himself right smack in the middle of Nelson's great victory.

I really don't have that much to say about the book. If you like the Richard Sharpe series, I see no reason why you wouldn't enjoy this one as much as any of the others. Just a few observations, then:

- After reading this and a couple other Sharpe novels this weekend, it occured to me that for a troubled loner, Sharpe certainly racks up the Frequent Babe-age Miles.

- As a sea story, this is not too bad. Certainly not in the Patrick O'Brian class, as I've said previously, but nonetheless a pretty good account of ship-to-ship action from a deck's-eye point of view.

- I don't want to accuse Mr. Cornwell of anything, but I've seen some of this before. The Mysterious Murder of a Threat down the hold bears a suspicious similarity to a critical event in C.S. Forester's Lieutenant Hornblower (granted, this time it is successful whereas there is was not). Also, I know I've read a description of the incongruity of a pair of cannon with the otherwise luxurious domestic appointments of the Captain's cabin either in Forester's or O'Brian's work.

- On a very technical point, ships firing salutes or signals would use blank charges and would not waste shot. Cornwell knows this to be the case on land. I'm surprised he let it slip here.

Other than that, anchors away!

(As an aside, some strange Voice has been muttering in my ear the last few days to toss a couple of A&E's Hornblower dramatizations into my Netflix queue. I dunno what the Voice thinks it's doing, since I'll only wind up comparing the flicks to the books, something the Voice can't stand. Still, that's the Voice's lookout. Now that the idea has been implanted, I think I'll follow up on it.)

Posted by Robert at 01:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

W.A. Mozart. No, he really looked nothing like Tom Hulce.

From my sickbed testerday afternoon I watched my Netflix DVD of Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail ("The Abduction from the Seraglio"), Mozart's first major attempt to establish himself as an operatic composer in Vienna. (The piece premiered there in July, 1782.)

A "Turkish" flavored piece with lots of cymbals and bells, the story concerns the efforts of Belmonte to save his beloved Konstanze from the Pasha Selim, who bought her after her ship had been captured by pirates and seeks to make her love him. Belmonte is aided from the inside by Pedrillo (his former servant) and Blonde, Pedrillo's sweetheart, both of whom were also bought by the Pasha. Osmin (the Pasha's overseer) hates Pedrillo, wants Blonde for himself and is instantly suspicious of Belmonte when he appears at Selim's country estate (disguised as an architect) to attempt the rescue. (Here is a fuller synopsis of the opera.)

Not even the most blind admirer of Mozart is going to argue that this is his best piece of work. It isn't. There are all sorts of dramatic problems with the opera and now and again Mozart himself drives it into the ditch. However, the music is generally very pleasant and also contains some genuinely sublime passages. Further, there are all sorts of tantalyzing hints of things to come - ideas that Gangerl seemed to be trying out that would have their fruition in his later operatic masterpieces.

This particular recording was made in 1987 by Sir Georg Solti and the Royal Opera House Orchestra. If you've never seen the opera before, it strikes me as an excellent place to begin. And if you're familiar with the work, I think you'll like it as well. Some people don't care for Solti's conducting on the grounds that it is too rigid. I've never thought that way, instead admiring his crispness. And here, he delivers the two elements crucial to any performance of Mozart: clarity and grace.

As for the singers, I thought them pretty good as well. The sole exception as far as I was concerned was Lillian Watson as Blonde. She was appropriately lively and snappish, but had a tendency to sing sharp sometimes and also to shriek some of her top notes. Inga Nielson as Konstanze, on the other hand, had a beautifully round and clear voice that lost none of its quality in the higher registers. (I could easily see her singing the Queen of the Night.) And by golly does Mozart put her through her paces: Konstanze has brutal back to back arias in Act II ( "Traurigkeit ward mir zum Lose" and "Marten aller Arten") that together must run for better than twenty minutes and contain just about every dirty trick a composer could pull on a soprano. By the time Nielson collapsed in grief at the end of the scene, she was heaving like she'd just run the Derby.

As for the male parts, Deon van der Walt did fine as Belmonte, although he looked exactly like Eric Idle's Bertholt from The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and his acting consisted of not much more than putting his hands to his head to register surprise, grief or joy. Lars Magnussan, as Pedrillo, looked like Pat Sajak's little brother. Also, his collar must have been too tight because his eyes bulged alarmingly. The comic foil Osmin was played by Kurt Moll, who I've seen sing the Commendatore in Mozart's Don Giovanni (also with Solti). This part is one of pure silly caricature and Moll played it to the hilt - oversized, flowing robe, hideously dyed red beard, and lots of learing and bellowing. (He was also making cast members giggle with his ad-libs.)

The only weak point I could see in the singing was in some of the ensemble passages. Pedrillo and Osmin galloped through the wine duet way too fast (this was Solti's fault) and the couples just didn't seem to mesh that well when singing in quartet. This might have been the fault of the sound recording, but every now and again they simply seemed a bit off key.

Lastly, there was Pasha Selim himself, easily one of the most interesting operatic characters who never actually sings a note. (This piece is not pure opera but instead what is called a singspiel, with spoken dialogue intermixed with sung parts. Mozart did not provide any music for Selim's part.) As played by Oliver Tobias in orangy-brownish face paint, he looked like a moody, broody George Hamilton. The Pasha, we are given to understand, is a renegade, a person with one foot in both the Christian and Muslim worlds, and appreciative of the best both worlds could offer. Often Selim is decked out in the most lavish Turkish costume imagination can contrive. Here, on the other hand, he wore European coat, breeches, neckcloth and wig and was surrounded by plenty of servitors in similar clothes. At the same time, he had Moorish guards, Turkish menials and a harem of burqua-clad women scurrying about the place. It matched nicely with his spoken part, which blends Enlightenment concepts of integrity, mercy and respect, proffers of love to Konstanze and outbursts of stylized Turkish ferocity. Indeed, the most fascinating part of the entire story is watching Selim's development as events unfold - his ultimate nobility in letting the two couples go at the end really comes across well. (In contrast, Belmonte - the stock hero of the piece - looks utterly foolish next to him.)

The sets and costumes were no-nonsense period pieces - with a few tweeks, the Pasha's country estate could easily double as Dorabella and Fiordiligi's sea-side house in Naples. The only blemish was the curtain, which was painted in vivid abstract patterns for reasons that escape me.

This was a live recording, but the audience never intruded on the performance. Furthermore, the camerawork was very well done. The DVD quality was fine, except that there was an odd chirping sound on occassion. Where it came from, I couldn't say.

Overall then, if you enjoy Mozart (and I doubt you'd be reading this far if you didn't) I'd recommend checking this performance out.

Posted by Robert at 12:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observations

What exactly is a "honky-tonk bedonk-a-donk" anyway?


UPDATE: Good discussion. For those of you who don't know, I happen to listen to a good bit of what passes for country music these days. (I hate pop, am sick to death of "oldies" rock and my car makes too much noise for classical, so it's my drive-time preference.) I don't much like the rock/pop crossover stuff. Instead, gimme some of that ol' George Strait, Alan Jackson and Randy Travis, to name a few.

And while we're on the subject, am I the only one bothered that Keith Urban is one of the most popular country singers these days despite the fact that he's Australian? No offence to the Bruces and Sheilas out there, but that just doesn't seem right.

Posted by Robert at 10:33 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

I Just Wish I Hadn't Drunk All That Cough Syrup.

I thought I was getting better this morning after being down 72 hours with the stomach flu but I come here and see nothing but weirdo pastels and flamingoes.

I must be sicker'n I thought...

UPDATE: Just in case you're interested, the four year old, who brough the bug into the house last week to begin with, seems to be almost mended. The Missus is suffering from a low-grade version, which probably means she'll have it longer. I'm struggling back but still feel awfully weak. Meanwhile, the eldest Llama-ette was up hurling at three ack emma this morning, so she seems to be our next lucky contestant. Only the six year old has remained unscathed so far (touching wood).

Yup, the family that prays to the porcelain god together spends a lot of time fighting over who's going to clean up the mess.

Posted by Robert at 09:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 06, 2006

Fun and games with Professor LLamabutcher

This morning in Legal Theory and Public Policy, we were doing Lon Fuller's The Morality of Law, and to illuminate Fuller's distinction between morality of duty and morality of aspiration I used a series of Johnny Cash lyrics, which somehow got across the whole issue of morality of duty being tied to the acceptance of consequences of actions versus the morality of aspiration's desire for righteousness, tying the whole thing together with Lincoln's Second Inaugural address.

This afternoon in Civil Liberties we did The Prize Cases, juxtaposing Justice Greer's assertion of presidential authority with the Carter-esque position of Justices Nelson and Taney in their extreme hobbling of the presidency, noting that had Nelson and Taney gotten a fifth vote the decision would have been ignored, as was Merryman. We played with the problem of the Emmancipation Proclamation last week as justified by the president's war-time authority--that was a lot of fun.

For their first moot court I am really playing with the idea of doing something based on the recent Cartoon War Riots: creating a scenario where a group of Muslim students on a college campus burn a Norwegian and a Danish flag, and are arrested for violating the ban on cross-burning. Kind of a RAV v. St Paul meets Texas v. Johnson in a post-modern melange of PC tuna melt.

muslim protesters burning a cross.jpeg
Image shamelessly stolen from Everyone's Favorite Commie.

Posted by Steve at 02:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Chester Arthur, RIP

granda munster rip.jpeg

He was certainly the grandpa of all Reconstruction-era presidential impersonators.

Posted by Steve at 01:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hopefully, this is a joke

Otherwise I might be in the mood to go burn down a Danish embassy or something.

Posted by Steve at 01:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What are you, a wuss?

From LLamabutcher En-Why-Cee Correspondent KeithS:

Gents, my blog dreams are put on hold due to imminent baby arrival, but will let you know, will retain correspondent status in the meantime.

No fribble for you, one year.

Posted by Steve at 12:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday Steve-O!!

As some of you may already know a Great American Institution and Steve-O both turned the big Four-Ohhhhhhhh this weekend. Since it wouldn’t be a complete birthday celebration without the ritual tweaking of the Llamas we've rolled out "LLama Vice" skin for your viewing pleasure.

Don't worry Steve-O old pal, some day the 80's will be fashionable again and you can break out your white lenin suits and pastel tee's.

Happy Birthday Steve-O!

Note: If you aren't seeing the redesigned layout select LLama's Vice and hit the Change Style button in the Get Some Skin section.

YIPS from Steve: For the love of all that is holy that is one loud shade of Teal.

I humbly thank you for making me be the Sonny character, and look forward to our classic Battlestar Galactica skin.

Posted by phin at 12:11 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Best pshop parody of the Cartoon War

From Wuzzadem, of course.

Posted by Steve at 10:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 05, 2006

Man, are we racking up the Mitzvah/Karma points for this one

Yes indeedy, we're #6 on MSN for:

where can i rent a rototiller in san antonio

What can we say, we're polymaths. Which is probably why we are # 4 on Google (out of 240K+) for

dangers of caffeine abuse

Just so you know when these modern Carrie Nations get the evil bean criminalized who you can beat into a vente skinny foamy pulp.

Posted by Steve at 10:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Paydirt for the Crack Young Staff

The HateMongers Quarterly launches its Sunday guest gig at Wizbang---hopefully this will bring some much deserved attention their way, as they are consistently the high-end funny on our end of the blogosphere.

Today's topic? Sex, coffee, and female arousal.

But you have to say it like you're in the Wizard of Oz: "Sex and coffee and female arousal OH MY!"

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

Follow the flags

JT at Wizbang has an interesting thought about the cartoon riots.

WELL, BOY HOWDY! Leave it to Everybody's Favorite Commie to find the one circumstance in which American Liberals will tolerate cross-burning....

Posted by Steve at 10:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Worst. Super Bowl. EVER.

Gawhd, that sucked.

I feel like going out and buring down the Danish embassy.

UPDATE: About the only good thing you can say about that game is that it is over, and now, with the Super Bowl over, the gardening season officially begins. Beth jumps the gun by a couple of hours speculating about her impending War of the Roses. Me, personally, I'm like Marshall Peitan, trying to have to figure out what to do after I totally surrendered to the diving Stukas raining down crabgrass seeds on me last year. Yes, technically that's a lawn not a garden issue, but it's going to be the irrefutable fact framing the garden paradigm this year.

Time to curl up with some nice flannel sheets, a fragrant candle or two, and the Burpee catalog.


Would you just check out those luscious orbs?


(Insert Homer Simpson drooling noise here)


I don't know why I get a kick out of stuff like this, except it makes me smile. Here's our traffic map from the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl:
llama super bowl visitors.jpg

There's something mesmerizing about the sitemeter traffic map. It's told me a few things: we have a regular reader on the Mauritias Islands, and we get a lot of traffic from the Middle East who google us up looking for various permutations of Arab porn, savory and rather, umm, unsavory.

Must be because we are camelids and proud.

Posted by Steve at 10:03 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack


When Newsweek has to ask such a question.

YIPS from Steve: What a stupid story---file it under the not enough probable cause to arrest Mohammad Atta on September 10th category of asshattery.

Posted by LMC at 09:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Super Bowl Predictions

I've got the Seahawks by 10 points.

And a distinct possibility of the exposure of Mick Jagger's left nipple.

To amuse myself, I pshopped the cartoon of Muhammad's head with the bomb turban onto the body of the parapalegic in the Tom Toles cartoon from this week. It was kind of the singularity of cartoon bad taste, and for the first time ever, even too much for me to post.

It must be because I'm getting old. Excuse me while I head out to the early bird buffet at the Sizzler.

Posted by Steve at 04:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


A Gunney you should know. Surf over to The Ex-Donk and scroll down. You will not be sorry.

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


The Navy is opening helicopter and some P-3 flying billets to warrant officers, giving enlisted personnel the chance to get on the WO/CWO track and earn their gold wings. This is a good thing. Most of the army's pilots are warrant officers and I prefer to have them in the cockpit over commissioned officers simply because the warrant officers have far more blade time.

Posted by LMC at 10:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 04, 2006

Tomorrow, a great American Institution turns 40

And so does the Super Bowl.

Yes, ladies and gents, the rumors are true: tomorrow I turn 40.

I know, I know: as those who know me well know that I've been XL for a long, long time.

Other than increasingly feeling like Mr. Hand, there is no noticeable difference. Our program coordinator at work got me the greatest birthday present I've received in ages: a Napoleon Dynamite talking key-chain. So I've been padding around the house making various noises all day. Needless to say, The Dear One wasn't too impressed when I kept pushing the button that said, "I like your sleeves---they're real big."

Anyhoo, the Cranky Factor has been pegged at maximum. I'll let you know how tomorrow goes.

(And yes, The Cranky Factor would be a good name for a blog).

Posted by Steve at 11:07 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Well This Is Going To Be Interesting...

Our Dee Cee Blogerpalooza jam fest is in a couple hours and this stomach bug that's been hanging around Orgle Manor seems to have really fastened its hooks into me. Any other activity, I'd unhesitatingly duck. But Cranky NeoCon Gordo is coming all the way down from the wilds of Pennsylvania for it and I've already blown him off one time. If I do so again, he might hurt me.

A distinct possibility, therefore, that some of our blogfriends will get to know much more about me this evening than they are counting on. Tango Mike India, indeed.

UPDATE: Well, it didn't quite come to that, although it was a close run thing. (Rocket Ted doesn't yet know what an alarming effect the sight and smell of his plate of appetizers had on the ol' Llama tum.) I had to bail before the dinners got to the table.

My apologes to everybody who was there for seeming to be such a lump. Not that I'm not usually like that anyway, but this time there was a medical reason for it.

Posted by Robert at 03:39 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Google baiting

Don Surber decides to take Google Chumming---something we here at the LLamabutchers are proud to be pioneers of---to an all new level by assigning point values to linked references:

First, the best sentence in a news story this week:

Lyonne also allegedly threatened to sexually molest her former neighbor’s dog during a 2004 altercation.

We’re talking Natasha Lyonne of “The Slums Of Beverly Hills fame.

Threatened bestiality? 5 Google Bait points. Beastiality for those who cannot spell adds a point. Another point because she was in “American Pie.”

Blue Star Chronicles has fun with “Brokeback Mountain.” After seeing it, Blue Star sings, “Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.”

The prequel and sequel in one: "Brokeback to the Future."

Oscar favorite: 3 points.

Goth calls the kettle black! Kelly Osbourne says Paris Hilton is a bad influence on girls. That explains the sudden surge in sales of night-vision video cameras.

Paris alone is worth 10, so add 10 points.

Further proof that David Hasselhoff will be the next fuehrer: The Ooga Chakka video.
2 Google Köder points.

Britney Spears will appear in a “Will & Grace” episode as NBC not only cancels the show but punishes it as well.

In the episode, when “Out TV” is bought by a Christian Television Network, Spears is brought on to be Jack’s new religious co-host — until Will (Eric McCormack) and Jack loosen her up.

Didn’t Jm Bullock and Tammy Faye Bakker already do that in real life?

Of course, last week's carnival may have gotten her knocked up, as rumors swirl about a pregnancy. Hey, say what you want about her, at least she is making her own and not raiding Third World countries for them.

10 points for Brit, 1 each for Jm, Tammy Faye and pregnant.

To boost ratings, the American Family Association is protesting the Britney episode.
1 point for stupidity.

This week's quote from in Rosie O’Donnell's blog, kel "lets the dogs out." Leave it to Rosie to answer the age-old question: “Who Let The Dogs Out?”

3 points for the song title.

24 is 16 with a bullet.

4 points for the Jack Bauer mention.

Jessica Simpson got a job at Pizza Hut. Nice how the writer decided to downplay the ex-Mrs. Nick Lachey in the story, only to have Jessica's picture appear -- surprise, surprise -- prominently on the Web site.

7 points for Jessica Simpson, another 4 points for any Simpson mention. O.J., Homer, it doesn't matter.

Sing-along time:

Do you know the way to eBay?
Jordan’s got some tits, she will sell, they lost their fit.
Do you know the way to eBay?
I'm going there to buy some thirty-two double-Fs.

3 points for each breast.

OK, Google Baiters, add up the points. Now double them with this word: Naked.

Tune in next week for the next Carnival of the Google Bait Celebrities. Send entries to donsurber@yahoo.com. Deadline is Friday 11:59 p.m. Eastern. Linked to The TTLB ÜberCarnival and Stop the ACLU and Samantha Burns and Wizbang and Basil's Blog and bRight and Early and Jo's Cafe and Point Five and Conservative Cat

See, this is what is wrong with the degenerate Empire that is AmeriKKKa---links to Paris Hilton, The Hasselhoff, and Rosie O'Donnell together with bestiality and Pizza Hut! For the love of all this is holy this is NOT what Google exists to do! Churning up your traffic by trading off the cheap and tawdry desires of geeks punching up Juliet Huddy and Alexandra Steele Weather channel babes naked nekkid pics is one thing, but how can you choose to denigrate the holy name of Pizza Hut so, Mister Surber?

I'm declaring a jihad on all things Surber for violating the third commandment (Thou shall not profane the Pizza Hut).

Posted by Steve at 09:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Welcome to the Blogroll!

Ladies and gents, our newest blogroll member:

Life at Full Volume

We're at the point where we are going to need a new category just for momblogs. Anyhoo, SarahG.'s writing is sharp and funny, a master of the genre pioneered by Curmudgeonry.

Robbo already linked earlier in the week to Jordana's post about her son the Lady's Man. Let me add my two bits about Mr. Skinny and Mr. Small. Mr. Skinny, who is in first grade, has a great thing going at the pool in the summer with the college girl lifeguards---he's already mastered the "Hi, my name is (Mr. Skinny). What's your name?" It's hilarious (if not completely alien to my own experience) watching them fawn all over him. Mr. Small, however, is the King: at 10 months, he had all the college girl waitresses cooing and awing at him, as he sat there pawing away. I would tell you something skipped a generation, but if you ever met my Dad you'd realize that wasn't the case. Maybe there was something inherently studly about my gramps that I never knew about.

Posted by Steve at 09:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 03, 2006

Llama Robbo's Schizoid Neflix Movie Queue

I have two Netflix pics in house for tonight's movie night, both of which I really want to see:

The first is the 1987 Royal Opera House production of Mozart's Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail, conducted by Georg Solti.

The second is Porky's. God help me but this is a funny movie.

Decisions, decisions......

UPDATE: Yeah - "A-WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" Saving the Mozart for when I don't feel so craptabulous.

Posted by Robert at 04:01 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Sadie over at Agent BedHead has instituted our suggestion for the "Ask Agent BedHead" column. Go over and stuff her inbox like a RedLobster $5.99 shrimp sampler with all your Olson Twins fetishes and the like.

Via Sadie we get the link to THIS, which appears to be the actual blog of one Ana Maria Cox, aka The Blogger Formerly Known As Wonkette.

Here's today's entre:

Greetings and apologies for the absence. I would say that I have been gathering my wits but heaven knows that doesn’t take long. So, the truth: I’ve been sleeping until 10, puttering around, and drinking several martinis in order to get through the evening news and quiet the voices in my head. People have asked if I miss blogging at Wonkette, and the short answer is “no.” The long answer is that there’s so much great material I do sometimes get itchy keyboard fingers, though my thoughts hardly seem worth the grand $12 per post Wonkette paid. But, hell, you aren’t a slut if you’re giving it away for free, right?

Hmmmm, $12 per post at Wonkette, eh? Unfortunately, that creates WAAAAAY too much of a vision involving Wonkette, a Shoney's parking lot in Indianapolis with the back lamps conveniently shot out, the front seat of a Subaru pick-up, and my first appearance on "COPS."

No word on whether her new blog will bring about the long-awaited blogging/amatuer porn singularity.

In better days....
wonkette and llama.jpg

Posted by Steve at 03:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

More Llama And Albatross Posting

Although the four year old was peppier this morning, she seems to have had a bit of a relapse this afternoon - her fever's back up a bit and just now she said she wanted to go back to sleep. This is fine by me, except that we begin to get into that whole if-I-let-her-sleep-now-she'll-be-up-all-night calculus. Given how punky she still looks, I think I'm just going to risk it.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure she's not going to anybody's birthday party tomorrow.

Posted by Robert at 03:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hell hath no fury

like your high-school ex finding your wedding page.

Really, James, you are being far too nice with this situation.

Posted by Steve at 03:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Brawney - The Sensitive Picker-Upper

This is quite funny: Innocent Escapes - Build your own Brawny Paper Towel Guy cheesy fantasy! (Sooper Sekret Message to Bill: make sure to clean off that screen when you're done.)

Note that this is Georgia-Pacific's own site. Imagine that - a corporation with a real, live sense of humor!

Yips! to Dave Barry.

Posted by Robert at 02:27 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Light Fuse, Stand Back

Ann? Meet my friend Marjorie.

Posted by Robert at 01:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Once Upon A Time....

Here is a compilation from the American Book Review of what are claimed to be the 100 greatest first lines from novels. Heaven only knows what the criteria were, but the selection seems to be all over the middle-brow dartboard.

I'd thought of turning the list into a meme, bolding the ones I had read, for example. (At a glance, I'd say I've read about half of them.) However, this turned out to be a bit too unwieldy. Just go on over and browse if you're interested.

Yips! to Mixolydian Don.

Posted by Robert at 01:34 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

In praise of Chris Elliot

The Colossus has a long piece on the work of Chris Elliot. I didn't mention him yesterday in my paen to Groundhog Day, because that's another dimension to the movie which makes it so enjoyable: the distinct feeling that you are watching what would have happened to David Letterman if, instead of jumping to network tee-vee in the late 1970s, he had never made it out of being a weatherman, only making the journey from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh.

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

The day they tore ol' Red Ensign down

The Crack Young Staff at the HateMongers Quarterly take on Canada.

Needless to say, it's not a fair fight.

Final score:

Degenerate Moose Orglers 0

Posted by Steve at 01:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kathy drank the Pumpkin Juice

And now she's gone all Harry, all the time.

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

It's Friday, so a little Theuriau Lusting (TM) might be in order

Courtesy of Phin.

UPDATE: The Irish Elk wants to know if Melissa can skate?

I don't know, but the Elk has some reasons to follow Olympic women's ice-hockey.

usa ice hockey babes.jpeg

In college, I used to go to all the women's ice hockey games, particularly senior year when we lived right next to the rink. It was great entertainment for a number of reasons:

1. No security = being able to bring in exceptional amounts of liquor, even by late 1980s standards. Nothing quite like watching a hockey game with a keg in the stands.

2. No security = being able to smuggle in large amounts of contraband to throw on the ice after goals, even again by late 1980s standards.

3. Some really good games. Basically, you'd have 2 women on each team who played some really serious hockey growing up, and about 9 others who were either good figure skaters fallen on hard times or were enamored by the ideological zeal of the whole thing (I'll show THE MAN what I think of his patriarchial oppression of wimmin folk everywhere----I'll play ICE HOCKEY!) As you can imagine, jailarity ensued, given that there was usually only one ref on the ice at a time to enforce the no checking/no slashing etc rules. Within the fifteen foot ambient sensory zone of the ref, there would be some pretty clean and decent (albeit verrrrrry slow and rather polite) hockey going on; outside of that 15 foot zone, for the love of gawhd it was Thunderdome, with some of the most vicious off-puck hooliganism I have ever had the good fortune to witness. There was nothing quite like the thrill of watching some Wimminist House Resident with long Steinam tresses hanging down from the back of her helmet discovering the power in being able to use the stick to completely slash out the back of someone's knees, only to watch her get completely blasted laterally into the boards by the other team's enforcer with absolutely no hope of the ref seeing it and issuing a penalty. Add that together with the vast quantities of beer and the contraband and you've got a wintertime party worthy of the Hanson Brothers.

4. The guy who drove the zamboni was also the guy who was the rigger at the boathouse, and was quite amenable if you brought a case of Canadian beer over to let you drive.

Nothing beats blowing off studying for an exam because you are DUI in a zamboni.

LB Buddy can back me up on this one (if memory serves, Mrs. LB Buddy was on the women's ice hockey team for awhile....)

Posted by Steve at 01:02 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


I'm more of a "Pave France" sort of guy myself, but when I saw this over at everybody's favorite commie, even I had to say, "WTF?" Why are they attacking France for this act of courage? It was the Danes, for goodness sakes.

Wake up call in France for the reality we've been screaming about for five and half years now? Probably not.

UPDATE: I didn't have a chance on Wednesday, so this afternoon I'm bringing by a nice big copy of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons (in color no less!) to my good friend the anti-AmeriKKKan librarian whose office door is an immense shrine to all things Chomsky and Ellen DeGeneres. Which wouldn't be a thing, except her office door is right next to the check out desk in the library, in the main lobby, so there is this nice big reminder (perfectly impartial, of course) to all things "I Hate America in all its evil vileness" every time you go in. Fortunately, our library really sucks---the librarians are great, but the collection is a freaking joke, so I never have to go over there except when I want to visit Chai-Rista and Pep.

Anyhoo, I'm bringing her a copy of the cartoons to see if she'll put it up on her door---whether she's a fearless fighter for ALL free expression, or just that which advances a slender world view. Update later.

Here are the cartoons by the way.

Posted by Steve at 12:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Welcome to Bizarro world

John at Wuzzadem channeling Julian Bond at Starbucks. The Nazi grande Blueberry muffins were to die for. Literally.

Which was eerily reminiscent of a time a couple years back standing behind Mr. Bond in line at the drycleaners in Charlottesville....

Posted by Steve at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Watch out Hamas...here come the LLAMAS!

From LLamabutchers Foreign Correspondent Keith S (who is supposedly starting a blog soon---when you've got it going, give us a shout out, will ya?)

JERUSALEM (AP) -- It can't shoot and it can barely follow orders, but it's the newest recruit to the Israeli military: The llama.

According to the Yediot Ahronot newspaper on Friday, two elite units recently began using the llamas in exercises and operations on Israel's northern border to navigate heavy loads of 60 kilograms (132 pounds) or more through difficult terrain.

The military tried using mules for similar tasks, but although they could carry heavier loads than the llamas, they behaved badly -- at one point, staging a "mutiny" and fleeing, the newspaper said.

According to Brig. Gen. Itzik Ben-Tov, llamas are well-disciplined and move quickly.

They also have highly developed senses of smell and hearing, are nimble, and only eat once every two days.

I would add that they are quite cranky and taken to long breaks in the afternoon for nap time (at least those with tenure). That, and internet access.

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

Gratuitous Cranky Domestic Posting (TM) - Lifestyles Of The Rich And Foolish Division

So there is some talk of my possibly joining the board of one of the local community orchestras. There certainly are some advantages to this. Getting involved in music, for one. Community participation, for another. And it would be an excellent opportunity for making what Meyer Wolfsheim called "gunnegshuns" in anticipation of that time in the future when I give Father Justice the bum's rush and head back into private practice.

On the other hand, at least judging from the conversation I had with one of the current members last evening, a primary function of the group seems to be to act as an excuse to show off one's own home and snoop out everybody else's:

Self: [After listening to extended explanation of the cocktail and fund-raising circuit] "So what performances do you have coming up?"

Member: "Oh, we're doing a tribute to novels this year. The next concert will feature "Romeo & Juliet".

Self: [Strongly resisting urge to point out that R&J is not a novel] "Oh, that's interesting. Personally, I'm not all that moved by Prokofiev, but every now and again it's good to hear his music."

Member: "Yes. Well, anyway, we had our last meeting at So-and-So's - they built over in Such-a-Place..."

And so on.

This got me stewing about McMansions in general and their typically basketball court-sized kitchens in particular. These have always irked me as the very pinnacle of the pretense behind these places. It's not as if the owners actually cook in the Julia Child sense of the word (they typically cater when entertaining and, I strongly suspect, subsist on take-out when dining alone). Rather, they need all that space so that everybody can cram in to see all the gee-whiz technology and luughzery appointments of the room. Which are really only there for prestige purposes to begin with. In effect, it's not actually a kitchen, it's a kitchen showroom.

Feh. I loathe this brand of conspicuous consumption. Unlike my friends across the political aisle, I don't believe that people who indulge in it should be either guillotined or taxed back to the Stone Age, but Lawd Almighty I do believe they should be mocked.

If I do join up (which I probably will, if invited), just think of the material I'll have to work with!

(BTW, I read somewhere once that the French root of the word "prestige" actually has connotations of deciet rather than high standing through merit. People enamoured of Madison Avenue's use of the word "prestigious" ought to keep that in mind.)

Posted by Robert at 11:43 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Carnival announcement

Uber-neighbor Melissa is announcing the formation of the Carnival of Children's Literature. Go to it, folks! (And no, that doesn't include the large font, pencil drawn picture versions of The Road to Serfdom; although in college I did have a copy of Hayek for Children given to me by a very dear professor who thought he'd "help" me with my difficulties in understanding certain aspects of Austrian school economics. Ahhhh, that old school "educatin' by humiliatin'".....)

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


Lynn S. links to a post ranking the 50 Best Robots (fictional and real).

I don't recognize a quarter of these machines, but I notice that both Daleks and Cylons (70's version only, please) are absent. And ought'nt there be a special mention of Evil Otto from the old Berzerk arcade game?

Posted by Robert at 09:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Jonah Goldberg

In an article today reminiscent of his G-File glory years, Jonah sticks it to the con game that is the rap music industry. Money quote:

We hear so much about how kids today are cynical, skeptical, media-savvy, and so forth. But if they're buying this hooey, they're idiots.

Yo! Yo! Fizzizzle!

Or something.

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

The Llama And The Albatross

After staying home sick Wednesday, the four year old made it through school yesterday but then managed to ralph up her chocolate milk last evening just as I was walking in. I've been right on the verge of knuckling under to the same stomach bug and at the sight of this damn near joined her.

Anyhoo, she woke up this morning feeling fine - and without much of a fever. Unfortunately, this sets up the battle royale: We think she needs to rest for another day while she thinks she should get back to her usual bouncing off the ceiling activities. The only leverage I have is the threat that if she doesn't take it easy today, she can't go to her friend's birthday party this weekend.

Gonna be a looooong day.

UPDATE: WitNit has a coffee-through-the-nose inducing list of pre-parental practice techniques. A sample:

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems: first buy an octopus and a string bag. Attempt to put the octopus into the string bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this - all morning.

Go read the rest.

Yips! to Rachel.

UPDATE DEUX: Just checked up on the Llama-ette, who's flopped out in front of the tee vee. She's watching Franklin, a cartoon about some touchy-feely turtle. As I came in, Franklin was swimming. The gel looked up and said, "I see you under water, Daddy! And there's a shark! He's eating you up! He has really sharp teeth! Oh, ha ha ha!"

This is vintage humor for her. Definitely on the mend.

Posted by Robert at 08:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 02, 2006

Casanova Jr.

Jordana's boy apparently likes the ladies. A lot.

Pursuant to Section 1.2(a) of the Dads of Girls Security Code, he's just been automatically added to my Watch List.

Posted by Robert at 03:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

This Is Interesting News

It seems John Boehner has upset Roy Blunt to take over as GOP House Majority Leader.

I confess that I haven't followed the race too closely, except to believe that the election of John Shadegg would have sent the clearest "reform" signal and that the election of Roy Blunt (a fomer DeLay deputy) would have been bad news.

Call this a qualified win, I suppose.

Of course, The Corner is all over it.

Posted by Robert at 03:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Cogito Ergo MEEEOOOOOWWWW!!!!!

Cat Gun.gif

Behold the Cat Gun.

This little gem recently was given me by my cousin as a birthday present. And I've been mulling trying a philosophical experiment with it.

You see, I've always been extremely partial to the Platonic idea that material objects around us are simply flawed expressions of their true being. I also believe that our own creative expressions add layers to this relationship. So, for example, I might paint a picture of a tree. The painting is a flawed expression of the physical tree I see which, in turn, is but another flawed expression of the perfect essence of tree-ness.

So I got thinking- the Cat Gun shoots imperfect representations of cats. If I were to use this gun to shoot such ammunition at real cats, themselves only a higher level of flawed expression, would this possibly start a chain reaction that could go all the way up the existential ladder to destroy the ultimate essence of Cat-ness?

In the name of philosophy and dog lovers, I think it's worth finding out.

Posted by Robert at 03:14 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Aslan Is On The Move - Again

Our pal Lintenfiniel Jen links to a story reporting that production will be starting later this year on Prince Caspian, with a possible Christmas '07 target release date.

I'm very curious how they're going to go about fiddling with the chronology. As Lewis fans know, this time around the Pevensey children fall into Narnia in the middle of Caspian's story (and only after he summons them). The narrative then has to backtrack to the beginning of that tale, come forward to the point where the children appear and then move on from there. As I've said several times before, I've always found this to be a somewhat awkward arrangement. It would be even more awkward on the screen, I think. Somehow or other, the writers are going to have to balance the two stories in a manner that doesn't get confusing, yet at the same time does not leave either Caspian or the Children out of the picture too long.

Posted by Robert at 02:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

I read with interest the reviews of the current London production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, handily rounded up by Jessica Duchen (who plans to post her own review next week).

In particular, I was intrigued by what seem to be some contrasting interpretations of the social dynamics of the piece by of a couple of the critics.

First, there's Richard Morrison writing in the Times:

The action is updated to the 1830s. That is vital: the servants can be far less deferential. And in Tanya McCallin’s vast chateau set, servants are everywhere: spying, overhearing, conspiring — in fact, more or less running this enclosed world from the overture’s first bars. It’s Gosford Park — the Musical.

Faced with this lot, Gerald Finley’s terrific Count is like a cornered dinosaur who senses the impending Ice Age but can do nothing except seethe impotently.

There is a terrible temptation in staging Figaro to read more revolutionary spirit into it than I believe Mozart and Da Ponte had in mind. Indeed, in the J.E. Gardiner video I have, the chorus of peasants turns threatening - waiving pitchforks and scythes at Almaviva after he slides out of marrying Figaro and Susanna early on. While there is indeed an important spirit of social progress in the story, Morrison's simile suggests falling into the trap of believing the story foreshadowes (or advocates) the extinction of the Count's very existence rather than a curtailment of his traditional power.

Fortunately, as Tim Ashley notes in the Guardian, David McVicar is well aware of the more subtle political dynamic of the piece:

David McVicar's new production transposes Mozart's comedy from its usual 18th century setting to a French chateau on the eve of the July 1830 revolution that saw the restored Bourbon monarchy replaced by the liberal bourgeois era of Louis Philippe. The events of that summer were famously commemorated by Delacroix in Liberty Leading the People. The production charts the transformation of Figaro, gloriously incarnated by Erwin Schrott, from naive, liveried flunky to a politically engaged figure who belongs on Delacroix's barricades.


In a programme note, McVicar argues that the opera has less to do with the 1789 revolution than we assume and that its values are those of the "emerging bourgeois class" to which Mozart belonged. Accordingly much is made of the contrast between bourgeois marriage, grounded in the free assent of both parties, and the emotional catastrophes attendant on aristocratic codes of sexual behaviour, with their emphasis on proprietorial masculinity and female submission. Dorothea Röschmann's Countess, in anguishing over her husband's infidelity, is also rebelling against such values, and at the end sweeps, like a grand society hostess, into the debris-strewn garden to initiate a new order by confronting and forgiving Gerald Finley's aggressive, insidiously attractive Count.

Ashley questions the effectiveness of McVicar's attempt to pull this off. However, I think McVicar's intentions are absolutely correct. Le Nozze is not about toppling the old order. Rather, it's about modifying it, making room for the rising bourgeoise and their values. And while Mozart fully explored the painfulness of the process, I think he would have been horrified at the suggestion that he was advocating revolution.

Posted by Robert at 01:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Neo-KHAAAAAAAAN plot rolls on

Straussians take over Canada: Gordo the Cranky Neo-Con last seen heading to Vermont on a Greyhound intercity in lace stockings and a poncho, clutching a dog-eared copy of Natural Right and History and a copy of the Greatest Hits of the Mackenzie Brothers.

Posted by Steve at 11:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Grumpy Pre-Valentine's Day Sighting Shot

No. Absolutely not. Wanna trek Surrey in winter? Use your own damn legs. Romance in the English countryside? Get a room. I don't wanna see it.

Posted by Robert at 11:42 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

In praise of Groundhog Day

groundhog day bill murray.jpeg

Because a certain unnamed philistine who is the coauthor around here saw fit to denigrate one of the truly great movies of the past two decades below, I felt the need to ride to the defense of Groundhog Day.

I will confess that this movie turned February 2nd into one of my favorite days of the year: it's the non-holiday holiday, the otherwise completely ordinary day of the year where the possibility of redemption and renewal are completely and utterly within grasp. Nothing seems quite as impossible to accomplish, as long as it is something to recapture a sense of wonder of the goodness capable of being found in the extremely ordinary.

Here's Jonah's review:

Here's a line you'll either recognize or you won't: "This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather." If you don't recognize this little gem, you've either never seen Groundhog Day or you're not a fan of what is, in my opinion, one of the best films of the last 40 years. As the day of the groundhog again approaches, it seems only fitting to celebrate what will almost undoubtedly join It's a Wonderful Life in the pantheon of America's most uplifting, morally serious, enjoyable, and timeless movies.

When I set out to write this article, I thought it'd be fun to do a quirky homage to an offbeat flick, one I think is brilliant as both comedy and moral philosophy. But while doing what I intended to be cursory research — how much reporting do you need for a review of a twelve-year-old movie that plays constantly on cable? — I discovered that I wasn't alone in my interest. In the years since its release the film has been taken up by Jews, Catholics, Evangelicals, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, and followers of the oppressed Chinese Falun Gong movement. Meanwhile, the Internet brims with weighty philosophical treatises on the deep Platonist, Aristotelian, and existentialist themes providing the skin and bones beneath the film's clown makeup. On National Review Online's group blog, The Corner, I asked readers to send in their views on the film. Over 200 e-mails later I had learned that countless professors use it to teach ethics and a host of philosophical approaches. Several pastors sent me excerpts from sermons in which Groundhog Day was the central metaphor. And dozens of committed Christians of all denominations related that it was one of their most cherished movies.

When the Museum of Modern Art in New York debuted a film series on "The Hidden God: Film and Faith" two years ago, it opened with Groundhog Day. The rest of the films were drawn from the ranks of turgid and bleak intellectual cinema, including standards from Ingmar Bergman and Roberto Rossellini. According to the New York Times, curators of the series were stunned to discover that so many of the 35 leading literary and religious scholars who had been polled to pick the series entries had chosen Groundhog Day that a spat had broken out among the scholars over who would get to write about the film for the catalogue. In a wonderful essay for the Christian magazine Touchstone, theology professor Michael P. Foley wrote that Groundhog Day is "a stunning allegory of moral, intellectual, and even religious excellence in the face of postmodern decay, a sort of Christian-Aristotelian Pilgrim's Progress for those lost in the contemporary cosmos." Charles Murray, author of Human Accomplishment, has cited Groundhog Day more than once as one of the few cultural achievements of recent times that will be remembered centuries from now. He was quoted in The New Yorker declaring, "It is a brilliant moral fable offering an Aristotelian view of the world."

I know what you're thinking: We're talking about the movie in which Bill Murray tells a big rat sitting on his lap, "Don't drive angry," right? Yep, that's the one. You might like to know that the rodent in question is actually Jesus — at least that's what film historian Michael Bronski told the Times. "The groundhog is clearly the resurrected Christ, the ever-hopeful renewal of life at springtime, at a time of pagan-Christian holidays. And when I say that the groundhog is Jesus, I say that with great respect."

That may be going overboard, but something important is going on here. What is it about this ostensibly farcical film about a wisecracking weatherman that speaks to so many on such a deep spiritual level?

A recap is in order. Bill Murray, the movie's indispensible and perfect lead, plays Phil Connors, a Pittsburgh weatherman with delusions of grandeur (he unselfconsciously refers to himself as "the talent"). Accompanied by his producer and love interest, Rita (played by Andie MacDowell), and a cameraman (Chris Elliott), Connors goes on assignment to cover the Groundhog Day festival in Punxsutawney, Pa., at which "Punxsutawney Phil" — a real groundhog — comes out of his hole to reveal how much longer winter will last. Connors believes he's too good for the assignment — and for Punxsutawney, Pittsburgh, and everything in between. He is a thoroughly postmodern man: arrogant, world-weary, and contemptuous without cause.

Rita tells Phil that people love the groundhog story, to which he responds, "People like blood sausage, too, people are morons." Later, at the Groundhog Festival, she tells him: "You're missing all the fun. These people are great! Some of them have been partying all night long. They sing songs 'til they get too cold and then they go sit by the fire and get warm and then they come back and sing some more." Phil replies, "Yeah, they're hicks, Rita."

Phil does his reporting schtick when the groundhog emerges and plans to head home as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, a blizzard stops him at the outskirts of town. A state trooper explains that the highway's closed: "Don't you watch the weather reports?" the cop asks. Connors replies (blasphemously, according to some), "I make the weather!" Moving on, the cop explains he can either turn around to Punxsutawney or freeze to death. "Which is it?" he asks. Connors answers, "I'm thinking, I'm thinking." Reluctantly returning to Punxsutawney, Connors spends another night in a sweet little bed and breakfast run by the sort of un-ironic, un-hip, decent folks he considers hicks.

The next morning, the clock radio in his room goes off and he hears the same radio show he'd heard the day before, complete with a broadcast of "I Got You Babe" and the declaration, "It's Groundhog Day!" At first, Connors believes it's an amateurish gaffe by a second-rate radio station. But slowly he discovers it's the same day all over again. "What if there is no tomorrow?" he asks. "There wasn't one today!"

And this is the plot device for the whole film, which has seeped into the larger culture. Indeed, "Groundhog Day" has become shorthand for (translating nicely) "same stuff, different day." Troops in Iraq regularly use it as a rough synonym for "snafu," which (also translated nicely) means "situation normal: all fouled-up." Connors spends an unknown number of days repeating the exact same day over and over again. Everyone else experiences that day for the "first" time, while Connors experiences it with Sisyphean repetition. Estimates vary on how many actual Groundhog Days Connors endures. We see him relive 34 of them. But many more are implied. According to Harold Ramis, the co-writer and director, the original script called for him to endure 10,000 years in Punxsutawney, but it was probably closer to ten.

But this is a small mystery. A far more important one is why the day repeats itself and why it stops repeating at the end. Because the viewer is left to draw his own conclusions, we have what many believe is the best cinematic moral allegory popular culture has produced in decades — perhaps ever.

Interpretations of this central mystery vary. But central to all is a morally complicated and powerful story arc to the main character. When Phil Connors arrives in Punxsutawney, he's a perfect representative of the Seinfeld generation: been-there-done-that. When he first realizes he's not crazy and that he can, in effect, live forever without consequences — if there's no tomorrow, how can you be punished? — he indulges his adolescent self. He shoves cigarettes and pastries into his face with no fear of love-handles or lung cancer. "I am not going to play by their rules any longer," he declares as he goes for a drunk-driving spree. He uses his ability to glean intelligence about the locals to bed women with lies. When that no longer gratifies, he steals money and gets kinky, dressing up and play-acting. When Andie MacDowell sees him like this she quotes a poem by Sir Walter Scott: "The wretch, concentrated all in self / Living, shall forfeit fair renown / And, doubly dying, shall go down / To the vile dust, from whence he sprung / Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung."

Connors cackles at her earnestness. "You don't like poetry?" She asks. "I love poetry," he replies, "I just thought that was Willard Scott."

Still, Conners schemes to bed Rita with the same techniques he used on other women, and fails, time and again. When he realizes that his failures stem not from a lack of information about Rita's desires but rather from his own basic hollowness, he grows suicidal. Or, some argue, he grows suicidal after learning that all of the material and sexual gratification in the world is not spiritually sustaining. Either way, he blames the groundhog and kills it in a murder-suicide pact — if you can call killing the varmint murder. Discovering, after countless more suicide attempts, that he cannot even die without waking up the next day he begins to believe he is "a god." When Rita scoffs at this — noting that she had twelve years of Catholic school (the only mention of religion in the film) — he replies that he didn't say he was "the God" but merely "a god." Then again, he remarks, maybe God really isn't all-powerful, maybe he's just been around so long he knows everything that's going to happen. This, according to some, is a reference to the doctrine of God's "middle knowledge," first put forward by the 16th-century Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina, who argued that human free will is possible because God's omniscience includes His knowledge of every possible outcome of every possible decision.

The point is that Connors slowly realizes that what makes life worth living is not what you get from it, but what you put into it. He takes up the piano. He reads poetry — no longer to impress Rita, but for its own sake. He helps the locals in matters great and small, including catching a boy who falls from a tree every day. "You never thank me!" he yells at the fleeing brat. He also discovers that there are some things he cannot change, that he cannot be God. The homeless man whom Connors scorns at the beginning of the film becomes an obsession of his at the end because he dies every Groundhog Day. Calling him "pop" and "dad," Connors tries to save him but never can.

By the end of the film, Connors is no longer obsessed with bedding Rita. He's in love with her, without reservation and without hope of his affection being requited. Only in the end, when he completely gives up hope, does he in fact "get" the woman he loves. And with that, with her love, he finally wakes on February 3, the great wheel of life no longer stuck on Groundhog Day. As NR's own Rick Brookhiser explains it, "The curse is lifted when Bill Murray blesses the day he has just lived. And his reward is that the day is taken from him. Loving life includes loving the fact that it goes."

Personally, I always saw Nietzsche's doctrine of the eternal return of the same in this story. That was Nietzsche's idea — metaphorical or literal — to imagine life as an endless repetition of the same events over and over. How would this shape your actions? What would you choose to live out for all eternity? Others see Camus, who writes about how we should live once we realize the absurdity of life. But existentialism doesn't explain the film's broader appeal. It is the religious resonance — if not necessarily explicit religious themes — that draws many to it. There's much to the view of Punxsutawney as purgatory: Connors goes to his own version of hell, but since he's not evil it turns out to be purgatory, from which he is released by shedding his selfishness and committing to acts of love. Meanwhile, Hindus and Buddhists see versions of reincarnation here, and Jews find great significance in the fact that Connors is saved only after he performs mitzvahs (good deeds) and is returned to earth, not heaven, to perform more.

The burning question: Was all this intentional? Yes and no. Ultimately, the story is one of redemption, so it should surprise no one that it speaks to those in search of the same. But there is also a secular, even conservative, point to be made here. Connors's metamorphosis contradicts almost everything postmodernity teaches. He doesn't find paradise or liberation by becoming more "authentic," by acting on his whims and urges and listening to his inner voices. That behavior is soul-killing. He does exactly the opposite: He learns to appreciate the crowd, the community, even the bourgeois hicks and their values. He determines to make himself better by reading poetry and the classics and by learning to sculpt ice and make music, and most of all by shedding his ironic detachment from the world.

Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin, the writer of the original story, are not philosophers. Ramis was born Jewish and is now a lackadaisical Buddhist. He wears meditation beads on his wrist, he told the New York Times, "because I'm on a Buddhist diet. They're supposed to remind me not to eat, but actually just get in the way when I'm cutting my steak." Rubin's original script was apparently much more complex and philosophical — it opened in the middle of Connors's sentence to purgatory and ended with the revelation that Rita was caught in a cycle of her own. Murray wanted the film to be more philosophical (indeed, the film is surely the best sign of his reincarnation as a great actor), but Ramis constantly insisted that the film be funny first and philosophical second.

And this is the film's true triumph. It is a very, very funny movie, in which all of the themes are invisible to people who just want to have a good time. There's no violence, no strong language, and the sexual content is about as tame as it gets. (Some e-mailers complained that Connors is only liberated when he has sex with Rita. Not true: They merely fall asleep together.) If this were a French film dealing with the same themes, it would be in black and white, the sex would be constant and depraved, and it would end in cold death. My only criticism is that Andie MacDowell isn't nearly charming enough to warrant all the fuss (she says a prayer for world peace every time she orders a drink!). And yet for all the opportunities the film presents for self-importance and sentimentality, it almost never falls for either. The best example: When the two lovebirds emerge from the B&B to embrace a happy new life together in what Connors considers a paradisiacal Punxsutawney, Connors declares, "Let's live here!" They kiss, the music builds, and then in the film's last line he adds: "We'll rent to start."

Yips! from Robbo: Denigrate? I was denigrating my own philistinism, not the film!

Posted by Steve at 11:26 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Around the World with Mr. Putty

Melissa the Home Schooling Guru has a hilariously simple idea.

Much more edifying that "Where in the world is Matt Lauer."

For some reason (okay, for the reason that I'm a slothful toad) I've been meaning to add Melissa and her husband Scott's blogs to the blogroll---they live right around the block from Rancho non-Sequitor, and are a lot of fun to boot. There's not much in the political world that Scott and I agree on, I think, but as I like to tease Moonbat Mad Scientist LB Buddy, I need to keep folks like that around in case I'm completely wrong. But the way I see it the two guys who the neighbors look at askance because we hang out in our basements and write all night long need to not let a little thing like the sharpest political divisions since the Civil War divide us.

We need to save that for something real, like the historic discrimination and second class status heaped upon Aquaman.

Posted by Steve at 11:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dee Cee Bloggerpalooza

As our pal Princess Cat notes:

For those readers in the DC Metro area that haven't heard yet - blogmeet ... Saturday... email me for the details.

Agenda for the evening: Plans - Taking Over World

You wouldn't want to miss out on this ground floor action, would you?

Posted by Robert at 10:51 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Fashion Notes with the Macktabulous Chai-Rista

Librarian by day, fashion maven by night--Chai-Rista is all that.

Today's fashion advice for the slightly clueless college gals:

Note to anyone considering a facial piercing - do NOT adorn your ugliest feature. An ugly nose with a gilded booger is now an ugly nose no one can ignore!

Although, now that I think of it, I think the Gilded Booger was the name of the Dutch ship my sainted cranky Hugenot ancestors arrived in New Amsterdam aboard....

FURTHER FASHIONISTA INSANITY: Aaron muses on playing i-Pod pocket pool.

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

"And There Was Much Rejoicing"

Tee Bee has Pythonesque questions about Puxatawney Phil's shadow-spotting this morning, as in, "Whaddaya mean, six more weeks? We haven't really had any yet."

True. True. We had unusually early snowfalls in Dee Cee this year (at Thanksgiving and before Christmas), but it's been relatively mild since then. In fact, today's high is supposed to crack 60.

Guess we won't have to eat Sir Robin's minstrels......

UPDATE: NRO is reposting Jonah's review of Groundhog Day from a few years back. This is one of Jonah's all time favorite flics. I have to confess that, although I've seen it three or four times and enjoyed it, I have yet to make it all the way through without dozing off. To this day, I haven't the faintest idea how it ends.

UPDATE DEUX: And before you start pelting me with rocks and garbage, let me just assure you that my dozing off had nothing to do with the quality of the movie but rather, in each case, was due to some combination of wine and the lateness of the hour.

Posted by Robert at 10:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Peggy Noonan rips into WaPo tee vee critic Tom Shales today:

On the subject of political passion Tom Shales, longtime TV critic of the Washington Post and possessor of occasional eloquence, wrote a piece this week that deserves comment. I don't mean his State of the Union review, which began, "George Bush may or may not be the worst president since Herbert Hoover . . ." I mean his attack last Monday on "Flight 93," the A&E television movie on that fated 9/11 flight. Mr. Shales said it was shameful that vulgar dramatizers would "exploit" the pain of those on the flight and those they left behind. Or as he put it, he had, innocent that he is, thought it "unthinkable" that "even the sleaziest producers" would "exploit any aspect of a nightmare that the nation had witnessed in horror."

By exploit I think he means "remember." There is nothing vulgar, low or unhelpful about remembering the particular heroism of Todd Beamer, Jeremy Glick and dozens of others. Their action--they stormed the cockpit that day, forced the plane down and kept it from hitting a Washington target, presumably the Capitol or the White House--was a moment of courage and sacrifice, and we all owe them a great deal. Imagine if the particular wound the hijackers meant to inflict had been successful that day. Imagine how much worse it would have been,

Remembering the men and women of Flight 93 isn't a self-indulgence but a duty. One senses in the Shales review the sneaky little suggestion that those who would remember, and who would tell this story (based by the way on the surviving telephone and other harrowing tapes of that flight) are in fact being political. But one suspects it is Mr. Shales who is being political. Maybe he fears those stupid Americans will get all emotional if they revisit part of the horror of that day, and go out and do something bad. Let's not speak of it lest the rabble be roused.

What a snob.

You wonder at the intemperance of angry young lefties and then think of the example set for them by exhausted old lefties.

Hear, hear. Purely by accident, I happened to catch "Flight 93" the other night and thought it very well done. I saw no signs of either hyper-sensationalism or any kind of perceptable political slant. Indeed, as far as political slants go, I think Peggy nails Shales' fat backside right to the wall.


UPDATE: Gary the Ex-Donk focuses on another section of Peggy's column, which I passed over largely because I had already said the same thing yesterday. However, his invocation of Prof. Wagstaff is too good to pass up. Heh, indeed.

UPDATE DEUX: Lawren K. Mills relays some very high audience numbers for "Flight 93".

Posted by Robert at 09:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 01, 2006

DLC - Political Cassandra

While I don't usually agree with their positions, I've long thought of the Democratic Leadership Council as the rational wing of the Donk Party. Their analysis of Dubya's political signals in last night's SOTU is pretty good:

In reacting to the president's address, DLC chairman Gov. Tom Vilsack compared Bush to a football coach who is so confident the opposition cannot stop a particular play that he is happy to signal it in advance. That's exactly right. Like the Pittsburgh Steelers running Jerome Bettis right up the middle so long as he continues to gain yardage, the GOP is going to run the national security play right at Democrats until they prove capable of effectively defending it. And this is basically what Bush's offensive coordinator, Karl Rove, told the Republican National Committee week before last.

So the challenge is very clear. Democrats must not only find a way to effectively critique the administration's stewardship of national security between now and November, but must also restore their own strength and credibility as smart and resolute warriors in the fight with jihadist terrorism.

Sound advice. And personally, I would be very happy if the Donks were to take it and put forth a viable candidate who genuinely possesses the strength and credibility spoken of here.

But that would mean the Party abandoning the tongue-swallowing, spittle-flying, vein-popping rhetoric of the Moonbat Left, that basically says the jihadist threat is nothing more than a bogey-man cooked up by HitlerMcShrimpyHalliLiarInChief as an excuse to unleash his sturmtruppen on Grandma while setting up as Alexander II and lining his pockets with ooooooooooooil revenues.

I think it unlikely that this will happen. Not only will the Moonbats not listen to the DLC, sooner or later this kind of suggestion may well convince them that the moderates are nothing more than a pack of weak-kneed turncoats. Then the knives will come out.

Yips! to Shay over at Dean's World, who has more thoughts on the subject.

Posted by Robert at 05:41 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Ever Wonder What INDCent Bill Does When He Vanishes From His Blog?

This may explain a lot. (I'm guessing Bill's the one with the glasses. The other one looks like yet another Bill Clinton half-brother.)

Yips! to the Pious Agnostic.

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

24 - The List


Top Sixty Facts about Jack Bauer.

I've never even seen the furshlugginer show and I thought this was hysterical. You 24 junkies out there ought to love it. Enjoy!

Yips! to Dave Barry.

UPDATE: Aw, Jeez.

YIPS from Steve: My favorites:

It took Jack Bauer two minutes to beat a confession out of OJ.

Sun Tzu once wrote, "If your enemy is weaker, conquer him. If he is stronger, join him. If he is Jack Bauer, you're fucking dead."

If Jack and MacGyver were locked in a room together, Jack would make a bomb out of MacGyver and get out.

Jack Bauer got Hellen Keller to talk.

And my personal favorite:

Jack Bauer got Hellen Keller to talk.

If that doesn't qualify you as a certified badass in Chimpy McHalliburton's Amerikkka, then I don't know what does.

Posted by Robert at 01:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Lunch time link of the day

That is, if you want your yogurt on your computer screen, via your nostril:

Want to know what Cindy Sheehan's flavor of Ben n Jerry's ice cream is?

(From Wuzzadem, but of course!)

Posted by Steve at 12:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy blogday, X-Donk!

May another full year of Diane Lane themed orgling continue!

Meanwhile, Gary noted an interesting historical twist from yesterday's Alito vote: he was confirmed 58-42, the same margin that Bork lost by in 1987.

O tempora, o mores.

Posted by Steve at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Read it and weap, INDCent Bill

We're #6 on Google for

pink fuzzy robes

No stopping us now, baby!

Posted by Steve at 12:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Curiouser and Curiouser

Our pal Kathy the Cake Eater and her sister lay into the ominously p.c. reworking of Curious George about to hit the movie screens.

I've got my own doubts about the film - in one of the extended theatrical trailors, Ron Howard more or less confesses that there's not near enough comedic material in the books for a full length movie, so they had to make a lot of things up. One cringes in advance.

Oh, and the poster for Curious George at my Metro stop reads, "Show Me The Monkey!" Perhaps it's just my own depravity coming through, but that slogan doesn't conjur up exactly the image I think the marketers had in mind.

Posted by Robert at 12:29 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

SOTU Reactions

I hadn't meant to watch the speech last night but after talking politics on the phone with our Llama Military Correspondent just before it, I found myself saying "Oh, why the hell not."

In general, and contrary to everybody else who works inside the Beltway, I don't pay much attention to the details of these things. Rather, I listen and watch for overall tone. On that basis, I was quite pleased. Especially with respect to the war, Dubya didn't give the impression he was planning to back down a single, solitary inch. Bully for him, says I.

The other thing I like to watch is audience reaction. It strikes me that it has become something of a game among nooz producers to try and catch senators, congressmen and invitees in various embarrassing moments. Has nobody coached these people yet that they must assume the eyes of the world are fixed on them the entire time? Heh.

Anyhoo, I have no real inclination to analyze the speech or divine What It All Means. Perhaps LMC or Steve-O will do so. Also, if you've got a post on the subject, feel free to leave a trackback.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that I did not see Kaine's response. But the libs in the office are making fun of him this morning, if that's any indication of how it went over.

UPDATE DEUX: Yup, Goldstein is Da Man.

UPDATE TROIS: By the way, a lot of buzz seems to be focusing on whether Dubya plans to try "confrontation" or "conciliation" with the Donks rolling into the next couple election cycles. I don't think that's the right way of looking at it. Instead, I think the tactic will be to maintain an air of sober maturity and leave the Donks, held hostage by the Moonbat Left, to act out the role of spoiled brat children in full meltdown mode.

Posted by Robert at 10:40 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

The four year old seems to have picked up the stomach bug going around, barfing up her dinner and running a temperature all night. She staggered downstairs this morning and curled up on the library sofa. As I put a blanket over her she was so groggy, so sweet, so pliable....the thing that came immediately to mind was that Calvin & Hobbes episode where Calvin gets similarly sick and after an uncharacteristically well-behaved trip to the doctor's, the doc remarks, "Nothing like a little flu to take the edge off a kid."

Call me heartless, but my sentiments exactly.

Posted by Robert at 10:06 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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