April 30, 2006

Flash in the Pan Babes of the Seventies

tonight's feature--Sandra Locke, who went so deep after the split with Clint Eastwood that she must be in a witness protection program. Best attribute--big brown eyes.

Posted by LMC at 08:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

United 93

As reviewed by Jen, formerly Jen Speaks.

Posted by LMC at 08:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 29, 2006

Taking the plunge on Health Savings Accounts

Our firm is offering a Health Savings Account for the first time, starting May 1. Of the 100 or so lawyers, paralegals, secretaries, and assorted minions eligible only two (including me) are opting for it, the rest either have chronic health conditions for which the HSA does not make sense or (more often) prefer to stick with the heavily 'cratic HMO or the less 'cratic PPO.

The HMO crowd professes loyalty because the plan "pays for everything." This fondness for the all-encompassing, smothering, inefficient system comes despite caterwauling over the exorbitant premiums and the procedural minefield that one must traverse to get care from anyone other than the all-knowing, all-powerful Primary Care Provider without whose Dispensation (i.e., advance written referral) the poor employee cannot see a specialist or be reimbursed for one. (Of course, the specialist must be in The Network as well.)

The PPO loyalists tout their ability to see anyone they want while bemoaning the exorbitant premiums and the deductibles that come as the price of seeing "anyone they want."

Both groups may use flexible spending account into which employees put aside a certain amount pre-tax every month for which they may then submit for reimbursement which gets rejected with some frequency for "insufficient documentation." Any funds leftover at the end of the plan year do not rollover to the next year leading people to spend money at the end of the plan for new glasses or whatnot that they really do not want or need on the "use it or lose it" rationale (a rationale often associated with government agency spending in the last month of any fiscal year).

The HSA is a high-deductible policy with a savings/investment account feature. The policy premium is $250 per month less than either the HMO or PPO and has a deductible of $5200 per year for family coverage. There is no limit on what may be contributed to the savings account which may be invested in the stock market or money market funds. Out-of pocket health care expenses may be paid from, or reimbused from the HSA. The flexible spending account is not available to HSA users but the HSA account balance rolls over every year unlike the flexible spending account. I opted to contribute $350 per month ($250 I was savings by moving from the PPO to HSA, plus $100 that I would have contributed to the flexible spending account).

The way I see it, the most I am putting at risk when all is said and done is about $1000, the difference between the total I will put in the HSA over the course of the plan year and the deductible on the policy. Wish me luck as I try my hand in the best free-market experiment to hit the health care industry in God-knows how long.

Posted by LMC at 08:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Yeah, right.

Former VP Gore continues to add to the global warming hysteria--"the 'truth' will have its day." It reminds me of an episode of "Next Generation" that dealt with a failed attempt to topple the Klingon Empire. A youth manipulated by his sisters into being the figurehead for the rebels is brought before the victors and is condemned to death. This lightweight attempts a bit of defiance, predicting : "one day, the House of Dueross will rule the Empire!" "Perhaps," replies the chancellor, "but not today."

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The Colossus takes on the Lefties

On the "Chickenhawk" smear. Amen, brother!

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Dr. 'Oo

I caught an episode of Dr. Who on SciFi last evening just for the hell of it. I used to watch this show quite a bit when I was younger, back in the days of Tom Baker and then Peter Davidson.

Well the times, they seem to have changed, because this doctor looked more like a soccer hooligan than anything else. Indeed, if it weren't for the scary flying monster thingies, I'd have thought I was watching EastEnders instead.

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Here is my take on the Limbaugh story that broke yesterday. I am sure the written deal between Rush's lawyer and the state attorney will find its way to The Smoking Gun soon enough. As far as I can tell, he was arrested on a single count of doctor shopping and agreed to continue treatment with the same doctor he has seen for the last several years, and pay a $30,000 fine. There is no indication he will make a court appearance although that is typically what occurs (defendant shows up, pleads "not guilty", is directed to some sort of diversion program, pays court costs, and the charges are eventually dismissed if the defendant complies with the terms of the diversion). The fine is pretty steep and my guess is it is somehow connected to out of the ordinary costs incurred by the State's Attorney's office in duking it out with Rush's first-class legal team over the last three years. The prosecutor and the defense have been in a Mexican standoff since this thing kicked off, the prosecutor certain bad things have been done but blocked at every turn by the defense invoking federal health care privacy protections. The lack of an admission of guilt or even a concession that the evidence would be enough to get the case to a jury if tried is an indication the government's case is thin. Nothing is a guarantee in any case, hence the deal.

One final note--Rush smiled for his mug shot, much as Delay did for his, ensuring it will not be fodder for t-shirts hawked by the usual Lefties.

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April 28, 2006

Kicking Lileks' butt one day after another

Just your typical day at Rancho Peterson.

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For the love of all that is Holy, No.

Gary the X-Donk on plans for a Battlestar Galactica prequel.

And I leave it up to you as to whether my cosmic nyet is directed against the prequel, or the very idea of Battlestar Galactica blogging.

Posted by Steve at 09:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How should I categorize this? Ah yes, "Painfully Hilarious"

Macktastick Sadie opines on her online dating experience.

No one wields the word "skank" as a prison shank quite like Miss Sadie.

Posted by Steve at 09:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Royal Navy Geek Posting

By request, no less!

It seems the British judge in the Da Vinci Code copyright case has been amusing himself by encoding a secret tribute in his verdict to this man:

Admiral Sir John Fisher.

Fisher was an early 20th Century reformer of the Royal Navy and also the mind behind the development of this ship:

H.M.S. Dreadnought.

The Dreadnought was launched in February, 1906, and apparently the Da Vinci Code judge wanted to mark the 100th anniversary of this occasion.

Frankly, I don't know that much about the Dreadnought other than that she was the first modern battleship (as we understand them), being bigger, faster and more heavily armed than anything else in the world. (Being a devotee of the earlier Age of Sail, I dismiss any vessel with an engine on it as a "stinkpot".)

I do know that her launch triggered a frantic arms race among all the Great Powers of the time, each one terrified that one of the others would develop an even larger version and thus gain dominion of the seas. Indeed, the race was so heated - particularly between Britain and Germany - that subsequent battleships were practically obsolete the moment they came off the slips. This race went on more or less until the rise of the aircraft carrier fundamentally altered naval tactics and did away with the primacy of the big gun battlewagon.

I understand that if you play a recording of the transcript of the verdict in the Da Vinci Code case backwards, you can hear the words "the Kaiser blows".

UPDATE: Speaking of the intensity of turn-of-the-Century naval rivalry between Britain and Germany, may I recommend Robert Erskine Childers' The Riddle of the Sands. This book, I understand, is generally credited as being the very first spy novel and tells the story of a couple of English gentlemen who sail a small craft about the southeastern coast of the Baltic, checking up on Fritz's diabolical plans for naval conquest under the nose of a dozing Admiralty. Frankly, I find the sailing bits of the story more interesting than the spying bits.

Childers wrote the book to goad HM Government into paying more attention to the German naval threat. A truly odd fish, he was a strange combination of patriot and gadfly and, ironically, wound up being shot for running guns to anti-British forces during the Irish Civil War in 1922.

Winston Churchill credited Riddle of the Sands with helping to bring about reform at the Admiralty and better military preparedness, but when he heard that Childers had been arrested said of the man, "No man has done more harm or done more genuine malice or endeavoured to bring a greater curse upon the common people of Ireland than this strange being, actuated by a deadly and malignant hatred for the land of his birth."

Posted by Robert at 05:04 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Is this something I can put on my resume?

We're #1 on Google worldwide for

Micheal Jackson's llama

I've been under the blogradar lately as there a lot of things going on around here, the first of which is that I got the call and am a finalist for a really cool position that I applied for. Before the interview, however, I need to come up with a written strategic plan for what I'd do with the organization, which has been a lot of fun working on.

The other big time suck this week was putting on a big speaker thing last night. Now, this presented a real dilemma: I got some material that is absolutely priceless----GOLD, I tell you, GOLD! Abso-frickin-lutely high-larious stuff involving a high profile public figure acting, well, as what we right-wing bloggers would expect. But to use it would completely blow my cover, and at this juncture, that's just not worth it.

Fortunately, it's the sort of thing--like all really good cheese--that is only going to get better with age. Someday.

UPDATE: The above post probably put us over the top, because we're now #1 on Canuck Google for

incipient verbal diarrhea

So is a Canuck Google rating score worth about 63% of an American Google score?

Posted by Steve at 03:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo?

The Missus is headed off to Fort LMC first thing tomorrow morning to commune with Mrs. LMC about this, that and the other, so I'm scrambling to get as much done today as I can before having to deal with the Llama-ettes single-handedly this weekend. I'll tell you all about it later, but two nifty things have already occured:

For one, I was first in line to get my car inspected this morning. In and out in ten minutes. Sweet.

For another, I got carded laying in this weekend's supply of vino. Yes, indeedy, I'm Robbo the Llama Butcher and I'm Forty One Years Young!

Yip! at you later.

UPDATE: Front doors repainted and front yard mown. After lunch, it's the back yard. Then trimming. Then weed killer. That leaves the rest of the weekend for pruning and staking, which really only take one eye (as opposed to these other jobs), leaving the other one available to monitor the kiddies.

Painting the front doors necessitated leaving them wide open for a while. This, in turn, necessitated jailing the cats in order to prevent their wandering off. Here's a thing I hate about cats: I know for a fact that Jenny (the elder) spends her days sacked out on the basement sofa while Bella (the younger) goes into a coma on our bed. But as soon as I close the doors to those rooms, these two start acting like I've just sent them off to the Cat Gulag.

Cats - it's all about control with them.

UPDATE DEUX: Done and done. By the way, I note that the peonies are maybe a week away from blooming, so stand my for some crude first attempts at pics. I also note that, unless my neighbor steals it first, I'm a gonna have some fresh asparagus with din-dins tomorrow night.

Posted by Robert at 09:11 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Home Inspection

Mrs. LMC crossed another hurtle yesterday in her drive to relocate the post headquarters of Fort LMC when we had the dreaded home inspection. It is an event in which one's efforts at do-it-yourself home repair are reviewed by the pros and possibly held up to ridicule. Mercifully, we have gotten past it without too much embarassment. Latest event: my bride's realization the closing of the sale of the post headquarters will mean someone else will own it and want immediate possession, meaning we need to be out of this place and in the new post headquarters. She had mistakenly believed that she would have a few extra days to paint and decorate the new place before the move. Learning otherwise damaged her calm.

Posted by LMC at 05:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 27, 2006


I'm off in a bit to attend the eldest Llama-ette's first school science fair. We've been working pretty industriously on her presentation, which is all about static discharge. She's going to do a little demonstration involving a piece of plastic and a paper-clip, give a brief description of what's happening molecularly and then explain how this is the same basic formula for lightning.

At least, that's the theory. We've been having some trouble creating a reliable spark/crackle. I told her this afternoon that if it doesn't work, she should simply walk through the steps in dumb-show and explain what is supposed to happen.

Because she's such a classical mythology shark, the gel has put a big picture of Zeus up in one corner of her display. I'm a bit worried that if she goes off the rails scientifically, she may fall back on talking about him.

Although I've felt the terrible parental temptation to get involved to the point of practically doing the project for her, I believe we've been very good about avoiding this. We've made her write out all her own materials and demonstrate her knowledge by explaining everything back to us. I'm really not very gifted as a teacher (not having much patience), but I must say that watching her face the moment the penny dropped about what causes lightning was extremely gratifying.

I'll let you know how it goes.

UPDATE: All in all, I'd say it went pretty well. Looking around the room, the Llama-ette's display appeared to be on par with everybody else's. As I had feared, we couldn't get our spark to generate, so the gel had to fall back on explaining what ought to happen. While she was quite shy about this at first, several very kind and patient parents took the time to help her along with a series of extremely leading questions. And while she did sneak in a couple references to Zeus, she didn't go all Grecco-Fundamentalist about him.

As I said, this year's project was purely demonstrative. But she is only eight, after all, and this was her first time out. Next year, I think we'll try something a little more quantitative, with question posed, empirical data gathered and conclusions drawn. (A couple of the older kids did various plant-growing experiments this year that give me some ideas.)

Posted by Robert at 04:47 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Uncle of NIMBY-Watch

Teddy Kennedy has picked an unfortunate time to fight the effort to break his monopoly as Massachusetts' primary source of wind power. Or rather, the fact that he is fighting it is suddenly even more politically embarassing now than it has been to date.

The fight is over a proposed wind farm off the coast of Nantucket that would play hell with Teddy's private playground be bad for the state, or something. This is the same project that Bobby Jr. was opposing last December.

Kennedy rejected suggestions that he doesn't like the wind farm because it would be near his Cape home, and said the project probably wouldn't be visible from the Kennedy compound. He said he's against the project because it would create a range of environmental and navigational problems and would hurt tourism, one of the area's key industries.

Uh, huh. As I remarked when Bobby was yapping about it, I'm pretty sure Uncle Ted wouldn't be raising such concerns if the wind farm was going to be located off, say, South Padre Island or some other not-around-the-corner-from-Hyannisport locale.

It's amusing to see that Greenpeace is after him, too:

Environmental groups have launched an aggressive advertising and lobbying campaign to persuade Democrats to abandon Kennedy and back a promising source of renewable energy. If the wind farm becomes a reality, advocates say, it could provide three-fourths of the Cape and Islands' energy needs and could set an example for the nation.

The maneuver to stop the wind farm ''is clearly a backroom deal, and they're going to get called publicly on it," said John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace USA. ''The Democrats are going to kill the first big offshore wind farm in the United States because of their relationship with Ted Kennedy."

It'll be interesting to see if this publicity, coupled with the current political climate, will be enough to plant the windmills in Teddy's back yard. The cynic in me says probably not, that he and his pals will retreat publicly for a bit and then find another way to kybosh the project.

UPDATE: A modest proposal. And he said, "NITBY". Heh, heh.

Posted by Robert at 01:10 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

To The Barricades!

I'm with you, Jonah:

"IRREGARDLESS" [Jonah Goldberg ]

Irrespective and regardless of numerous objections from readers, I stand by my position that irregardless is not a word. As this explains it is at best "nonstandard" English. The most I am willing to concede to my critics is that the war to keep irregardless out of common usage is surely a losing one.

For a longer explanation of the "word's" controversy check out World Wide Words

It may be a losing war, but some evils are worth fighting regardless of the odds of success.

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

Gratuitous WWII Aviation Posting

Go over to Basil Seal's place and read this amazing account by rookie American P-51 pilot Lawrence Thompson of his run-in with the absolute badest of bad-assed Luftwaffe aces.

Suffice to say, Thompson was one seriously lucky S.O.B.

Posted by Robert at 11:21 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Now Hear This

The person in the office next door to me has a very, very loud voice. What is interesting is that other people, even those who are normally quiet, will adjust the level of their voices to match my neighbor's whenever they come in to talk. Whether this is just an unconscious, automatic response or whether they purposely do it in order not to get shouted down, I don't really know. Either way, it makes for some powerful noisy conversation.

Posted by Robert at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On The Job

So I understand that it's "Take Your Daughter (Or Son!) To Work Day" today.

When exactly did the boys start getting invited? As I recollect, "Take Your Daughter To Work Day" was originally a product of the identity politics fever swamp, the idea being that if the girls got out and saw where Mom and Dad spend their days, they'd be more empowered. Or something. Evidently, somebody's decided that this was too exclusive an arrangement and that all the kiddies should tag along, lest Junior feel left out.

My attitude toward the whole business is that anybody who thinks a kid wants to sit around an office all day obviously doesn't have children of their own.

What are you doing?
I'm reading a brief, Sweety.
What's a brief?
Well, it's a written argument about what the law says about something.
What are you doing now?
I'm still reading the brief, Sweety.
Are you done yet?
No, Sweety.
Are you done yet?
No, Sweety.
Are you done yet?
No, Sweety.
Dad? -

And so on.

Most of the people I've seen actually participate in this silliness either come loaded down with stacks o' stuff to keep the kiddies occupied or else resign themselves to the fact that they're not going to get anything done, stay for about fifteen minutes and take the rest of the day off.

UPDATE: Our pal LB Buddy makes a very good point in the comments and I should clarify that my gripe is primarily relevant to boring old office work. I used to go into Dad's office on Saturday mornings occassionally, but he had all sorts of coo-el medical stuff to fiddle with. If he were a paper-pushing lawyer like me, I'd have been bored to tears. (Of course, letting the Llama-ettes sit in on an actual trial might be a completely different kettle of fish...)

And as is so often the case, all this talk of alternative career choices has put me in mind of yet another Monty Python sketch. "Iiiiiiiif I were not before the bar, something else I'd like to be...."

Posted by Robert at 08:33 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 26, 2006

The Curse Of Bobby Kennedy



Okay, it's early in the season, but I'm already developing an ulcer. Sure, it's weird but cool to recognize people I know in the stands while watching Nats home games on tee vee, but Jaysus, we just dropped another one to the Reds tonight that we should have won. (Sooper Sekret Message to Mrs. LMC: Shut up, Dude.)

And this is the painful part: the Nats are 6 and 7 on the road which, if not stellar, is at least respectable. But in RFK Stadium? We're now 1 and 6. One and farookin' six! I mean, what the farookin' farook?

Obviously, there's some supernatural angle to all this. I can't figure out yet whether Bobby's ghost is trying to make us get ooooout, or if he's mad that we're dumping him. In either case, however, we'd better get some top-notch exorcist in here pronto. We can't keep on like this!

UPDATE: Perhaps our Maximum Leader is up to the task.

UPDATE DEUX: Make that one and seven at home.


"Nnnrryaarrrhhh....Frank Robinson! Welcome to your house of pain! You are the devil's beyotch now! Grab INDC Bill's six! Blaaaaugggghh......"

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Gratuitous Royal Navy Geek Posting


Today is the birthday of Emma, Lady Hamilton, famed mistress of Lord Nelson, in 1765. Quite the stunner, she was supposed to be, as is evident by the number of men who fell about her feet. (She started out as a blacksmith's daughter but more or less became a professional mistress.)

Thinking of Nelson and Emma put me in mind again of this piece by James Gillray:

John Bull.gif

"John Bull Taking A Luncheon, Or, British Cooks Cramming Old Grumble Gizzard with Good Cheer."

It was published in 1798 and celebrates the series of triumphal Royal Navy victories over the French, capped off by Nelson's spectacular victory at the Nile (that is Nelson in the foreground to the right - various other leading lights of the Navy are portrayed as well). John Bull (the embodiment of the British Nation, rather akin to Uncle Sam I suppose) is saying "What? More frigasses - why, you sons o' bitches, you - where do ye think I shall find room to store all you bring me?" Meanwhile, Charles James Fox (whom I loathe) and his Jacobin-sympathizer friends are seen in panic outside the window.

Posted by Robert at 12:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Snow Daze

I got nothing on the appointment of Tony Snow as the new White House Press Sec., because I really don't know anything about him. (Never watching tee vee nooz, I have a bit of a blind spot here.)

Instead, then, I'll give you the Top Ten Tony Snow Anagrams:


I'll link dump other reactions as I see them.

UPDATE: NewsBusters is on top of it. Go on over and graze.

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

One Logic

Mixolydian Don posts a brief discussion of mathematics by Benedict XVI:

It seems an almost incredible thing to me that an invention of the human intellect and the structure of the universe coincide: the mathematics we invented really gives us access to the nature of the universe and permits us to use it. [...] I think that this intersection between what we have thought up and how nature unfolds and behaves is an enigma and a great challenge, because we see that, in the end, there is one logic that links these two: our reason could not discover the other if there were not an identical logic at the source of both.

Read the rest. This is the sort of thing that always gives me chills. (The good kind, I mean, like the kind that comes on hearing a particularly beautiful piece of music. Mom always said it was the Holy Ghost brushing by.)

Douglas Adams (of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame) wrote about this intersection of mathematics and nature, too. It was a central theme of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and also appeared in several of Adams' essays in The Salmon of Doubt. But Adams was a confirmed atheist. It used to infuriate me that he could, as it were, so clearly see God's thumbprints yet at the same time deny their existence.

As mathematics is intimately related to all the hard sciences, I think that what B-16 has to say about it is also generally applicable to them as well. I also think that his understanding of the interplay of faith and reason at this interesection he describes, is a far more sophisticated and beneficial approach than the usual useless debates about creationism and intelligent design on which some people squander so much energy.

Posted by Robert at 09:01 AM | Comments (36) | TrackBack

April 25, 2006

Closing Argument

From the dusty archives of the legal profession, the best tribute to man's best friend ever uttered in a courtroom.

Posted by LMC at 05:06 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Another Patriarchal Lie Exposed!

Bach didn't write all of his own music! Instead, he helped himself to the Missus' compositions:

[Professor Martin] Jarvis believes [Anna Magdalena Bach] may actually have written some of the best-loved pieces herself, including Six Cello Suites, some of the Goldberg Variations, and the first prelude of the Well-tempered Clavier Book I.

Jarvis says it's known that Anna Magdalena was a talented musician and a student of Bach's. Born in 1701, she married him in 1721, 17 months after the death of his first wife. She bore him 13 children, seven of whom died in infancy.

"I found Anna Magdalena's handwriting in places where it shouldn't have been," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "In other words, assuming that the idea that it's her handwriting is correct, then it's in places where we really shouldn't be finding it."

Call it The Brandenburg Code.

While we're on the subject, let us not forget the unsung efforts of Mrs. Beethoven.

Yips! to Jonah.

UPDATE: A.C. Douglas sees the other shoe heading floor-ward.

Posted by Robert at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Edwardian Llama


- A Snapshot of your life as it might have been in 1905

You are a Schoolmaster!


You'll go to the local school in the village and then to Durham. You'll be the first person in your family to go to university.

Career Prospects

Through a mixture of hard work and intelligence you'll do well in your work as a schoolmaster. You'll receive a pension but will not live to enjoy it as you'll be killed in the First World War.

Leisure Time

You'll enjoy inviting neighbours in for tea but you'll have your main meal - meat and vegetables - in the evening. You'll go to church regularly and will be on the parochial Church Council, as well as being an active supporter of the local Conservative club. You'll go to theatre and musical concerts in the local market town when there is something worth seeing and will always buy the best seats.

Living Conditions

You'll live in a village and employ three domestic servants who live with you - a cook, a maid and a scullery maid. You believe that your wife has better things to do than household chores.

Marital Relations

You'll marry your wife when you're 25 - she is a friend of your family and goes to the local church.

World War One

At the outbreak of World War One you'll feel it?s your duty to join the army as a non-commissioned officer and will rise to the rank of company sergeant major. You'll be killed in the trenches at Ypres in 1917.

Well at least I hope I take out a few Fritzes first. Where's my entrenching tool?**

Yips! to Squire Basil.

(** Serious bonus points if you get the allusion. UPDATE: Answer below the fold.)

"There is a photograph in existence of Aunt Sadie and her six children sitting round the tea-table at Alconleigh. The table is situated, as it was, is now, and ever shall be, in the hall, in front of a huge open fire of logs. Over the chimney-piece plainly visible in the photograph, hangs an entrenching tool, with which, in 1915, Uncle Matthew had whacked to death eight Germans one by one as they crawled out of a dug-out. It is still covered with blood and hairs, an object of fascination to us as children."

- Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love, Chapter 1.

Uncle Matthew is quite a character, apparently modeled closely on Mitford's own pater. Here's a leetle more:

[Cousin] Linda and I were very much preoccupied with sin, and our great hero was Oscar Wilde.

"But what did he do?"

"I asked Fa once and he roared at me--goodness, it was terrifying. He said: 'If you mention that sewer's name again in this house I'll thrash you, do you hear, damn you?' So I asked Sadie and she looked awfully vague and said: 'Oh, duck, I never really quite knew, but whatever it was was worse than murder, fearfully bad. And, darling, don't talk about him at meals, will you?'"

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

Heh, Indeed

The Derb:

MAD AS HELL? [John Derbyshire]

The school bus stops at the corner of our street. Families 100, 150 yards along the street put their child/children into the family SUV, drive to the corner, and wait for the bus. When the bus has been and gone, they turn and drive back.

"RISING ANGER OVER HIGH GAS PRICES," says my newspaper. Uh-huh.

Ain't it the truth. As I pass down the main artery of my neighborhood in the morning, I sometimes get stuck behind a bus. So I get a very good look at all the cars lined up at the corners, many of them with their engines running. In fact, there is even a sort of unstated competition in my neck of the woods as to which parents (or nannies as often as not) waiting with the kids have the most fashionable or lugggsherious rides.

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

Gratuitous Royal Navy Geek Posting (TM)


Happy birthday to Admiral Augustus Keppel, 1st Viscount Keppel, born this day in 1725.

Keppel went to sea early, sailed with Anson aboard the Centurion in her round the world cruise in 1740 and was Captain of HMS Torbay in the critical Battle of Quiberon Bay during the Seven Years' War. Unfortunately, he became embroiled in political in-fighting during the American Revolution and despite the fact that he became an Admiral and later a Member of Parliament and First Lord of the Admiralty, his career more or less petered out with his political fortunes.

UPDATE: Speaking of Anson's circumnavigation, fans of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series may not know of his first sea novel, The Golden Ocean, which tells the story of this expedition. He also wrote The Unknown Shore, about the shipwreck of the Wager, part of Anson's squadron, on the coast of Chile. Interestingly, this novel follows the exploits of a pair of young men who resemble a sort of protoplasmic Jack and Stephen. Both books are well worth reading, although The Golden Ocean is the better work.

Posted by Robert at 09:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 24, 2006

Gratuitous Cranky Ecclesial Posting

I'm reading an article from the winter 2006 issue of Congregations Magazine by one Jay Voorhees for a church vestry meeting this evening. It's entitled "By the People, For the People: Seekers of Faith Increasingly Take "Church" into Their Own Hands" and it gives me the willies:

Some of what is happening within the church known as the "emerging church" represents the movement from the priesthood of the few to the priesthood of the believers, and not just the believers but anyone who is seeking after a sense of the holy in their lives. Through blogs, podcasts, e-mails, and small gatherings at pubs and coffeehouses around the world, men and women are gathering to think about faith in a serious way. As a whole, these people are not afraid to ask hard questions about biblical texts, church traditions or religious practices. The question of what to believe is no longer relevant. The conversation has moved to questions of why. ......

To be "emerging" or "postmodern" - or whatever descriptor you might come up with - is to recognize that the world is not a lowest-common-denominator kind of place. Life is complicated. We live in a continuum from beauty to tragedy and God is a part of it all. The questions that people....are asking are questions that reflect on the complexity of life, with the recognition that simple platitudes aren't enough in wrestling with those questions. Postmodern people want and need expressions of faith that are authentic to the world they live in, with all the inherent messiness that is a part of that world.

When I was growing up, we called such people Unitarian Universalists. And hippies.

The rest of the article sets up a straw-man comparison between the "simple platitudes" of established religion and the more "authentic" spirituality of boutique faith and argues that the Man had better recognize these choices and get out in front of them or risk being marginalized as archaic and totally square, dude.


And what to do?

This leads to a...response that has been embraced by many of the leaders in the emerging church movement: church planting. Denominations (if they are to survive) may need to focus less on supporting existing congregational structures that are out of step with the current reality of the world and devote their energies and resources into creating a wide variety of congregational offerings. Ecclesial identity will focus less on considerations of function (programs, buildings, etc.) and much more on theological identity, with each group claiming their unique, God-given identity as part of the universal Body of Christ.

This sounds an awful lot to me like a call for the distribution of Do-It-Yourself Home Piety kits. Not only do I believe it in fact poses a trap for denominations by actually marginalizing them further, it also sets off all kinds of alarm bells at a very fundamental level of piety because it seems to me an argument for recasting God in Man's image (CORRECTION: I really mean to say recasting God in the image of the Self), something I believe to be very naughty indeed.

UPDATE: I might add, also, that to the extent what mainline Protestant churches offer is seen as "simple platitudes" these days, this is the result of the perception that the churches themselves don't really believe in them, not their lack of relevance. And somebody explain to me exactly how life is anymore complicated now than it has been for the past five thousand years or so. You want messiness? Try famine, plague and constant warfare with the armed tribe up the valley. People who somehow think history ended in 1969 evidently have never actually read about it.

UPDATE DEUX: Sorry, just thinking out loud here.

UPDATE TROIS: Here's the article, if you care to read it. I also believe on a gut level that Voorhees' comparison of religion with the changing structure of mass media is full of holes, although I haven't parsed that one out all the way yet. I find it hard to swallow that faith can easily be compared with which tune you put in your iPod. If that is indeed the case, then it's about as meaningless.

UPDATE QUATR: Well, I did indeed fire off my opinions this evening about the dangers of iPod God, getting in my point about Unitarianism and opining that any religious author mouthing off aboud the "simplistic platitudes" of his own faith evidently had issues deeper than the changes in communications technology. I even pointed out the fact that I have read numerous Catholic blogs and noted how they were able to enhance the message of their church without compromising it to the point of meaninglessness, suggesting that this would be a better model.

Well, I dunno how the vestry took these observations, except that I didn't seem to get any of those little murmers of agreement typical of the modern progressive meeting, instead getting the fish eye from several people. What the hell. I'm a gadfly. The sooner I come to terms with this, the better off everyone will be.

UPDATE LAST: Incidently, I'm really not trying to take too hard a dig at Unitarians and I apologize if I've offended anybody. It's just that I am emphatically not one and don't want to see my church headed in that direction. (I dated a Unitarian in high school, by the way. She's the one who first referred to it as hippy church.)

In fact, while our discussion started with issues of what the message ought to be, it quickly turned to the channels of communication themselves and how they have changed in a remarkably short period of time.

Posted by Robert at 03:34 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Cranky Llama Posting

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. James Lileks:

I hate, hate, hate the term “pimping” as a synonym for “increasing the superficial exterior aesthetics.” The origins of the word are not exactly mysterious; it refers to those fellows who use force, threats of force, and crude psychology to make drug-addicted women walk the streets and service panhandled men in cars in dark alleys. But somehow we’ve gotten away from that. I wouldn’t be surprised to read a story about a new Papal tiara, and learn that Benedict had “pimped out his rainments.”

A-men, Brutha.

And get a load of this example of mainstreaming Lileks digs up: Pimpfants:

About Us Pimpfants... it's more than a name, it's a movement! Our clothing bridges the generation gap between parents and kids, allowing babies and tots everywhere the opportunity to hit the playground with fresh gear and street cred.

Jesus. Mary. Joseph.

But what the hey, it's just a warm-up phase. Soon, the little darlin's will be graduating to clothing with lettering on the seat of the pants, all the better for Michael Blowhard to ogle. (Yips! to Rachel for that link.)

Does anybody see a pattern here? Anybody? Bueller?

What amazes me the most about all this is the number of parents who actually seem to encourage this sort of thing, as if they believe tricking out the younger generation in pimp 'n ho coture is somehow a good thing.

Nostalge de la Streetcorner, I suppose.

Posted by Robert at 02:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Happy St. George's Day!

St. George.jpg

(Actually yesterday, but I was otherwise occupied.)

How about a little John Dryden to celebrate the Patron Saint of England:

Saint George, the patron of our Isle,
A soldier and a saint,
On this auspicious order smile,
Which love and arms will plant.

Our natives not alone appear
To court the martial prize;
But foreign kings adopted here
Their crowns at home despise.
Our Sov'reign high, 'in awful state,
His honours shall bestow;
and see his sceptred subjects wait
On his commands below.

(From Henry Purcell's 1691 semi-opera King Arthur, for which Dryden wrote the libretto.)

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

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

Yesterday afternoon while the Missus was AWOL taking some quality personal time, I loaded the Llama-ettes into the jeep and headed over to Meadow Farms, my usual local nursery, to pick up a pair of new wisteria for the fence in the back yard.

The only problem I have with this place is that its parking lot is extremely narrow. On beautiful weekend afternoons like we had yesterday, it quickly gets jammed with SUVs, people pushing carts full of stuff out to their cars and large trucks coming in and out from home delivery runs. The only thing for it was to clamp an iron grip on the four year old's collar, hold the six year old's hand and advise the eight year old to keep her eyes open and stay close.

Fortunately, we made it in without misshap and found the wisteria, Self solomnly passing on to the gels the received wisdom that one should only buy one of these plants if it has flower buds on it, so as not to get stuck with a non-blooming dud. Let me apologize to any of our readers who might have been present when we checked out: Yes, my children have very loud voices. Yes, they get even louder when they get excited. Yes, it doesn't take very much to excite them. But short of duct tape, I'm not really sure there's anything I can do about it.

We also picked up the appropriate transplanting supplies, plus a couple small herbs for the pots on the porch (basil, thyme and sage, in case you're wondering). Coming back out to the car, I was a slight bit apprehensive about just how I was going to fit everyone and everything back into it, but thinking that if I had to leave something, it would probably be the four year old, who had just narrowly been averted from smashing a garden gnome I had absolutely no wish to buy. (She got a swat for that, or rather for repeatedly ignoring my orders to leave the gnome alone and playing the fool on the edge of the parking lot, administered as discretely as possible with one eye cast over my shoulder to make sure nobody was whipping out a cell phone to call CPS.)

At any event, I did manage to load them all up. The four year old sat with bags of compost and potting soil stacked under her legs. The other two, with a large bag of mulch on the seat between them, held the herbs in their laps. The two wisteria - both about four feet tall, just fit into the space between the back seat and the tailgate, their tops protruding into space.

All the Llama-ettes were passionate about wanting to help plant our new acquisitions, so when we got home, they all threw on grubby clothes and scurried into the garage to grab the supplies out of the car, together with whatever gardening implement looked good to them. I will give the eight and six year olds credit: they managed to hoist the bag of mulch between them and half carry, half drag it to the back gate. From there, with the send of the slope, the eight year old was able to drag it the rest of the way.

Everybody also wanted a turn at the shovel when I started digging the holes. Failing that (it's still too big for them), they took to scooping out grass, dirt and clay with their hands, showing off their increasing filthiness to each other.

The high point of the proceedings came when I opened the bag of compost manure and told the gels what it was made of. "Eeeeew! Cow poop? Plants like to eat cow poop? Gross! Can we touch it?"

Eventually, the younger two took to chasing butterflies and it was left to the eldest and me to finish the job. We currently have one wisteria in the middle of the fence on the northwest side of the yard and what I wanted to do here was to plant another on either side of it and about twenty feet away, in order to eventually make one long hedge all the way down the fence. She helped me tease out the root balls and then fill in the holes with compost and dirt, finally covering all in mulch. Like Ol' Dad, she had donned her Nats cap for the gardening and I could tell how proud she was of herself for getting down 'n dirty with it. We finished up by extracting the temporary trellis, untangling some of the vines and tying some of the creepers to the fence in order to encourage the plants to grab on. Once they get established, I think this will produce a very nice effect.

After that, the four year old "helped" me pot the herbs on the porch. She is of the yank-em-out-of-their-pots-slam-em-into-their-new-homes-and-drown-em school of thought, and my principal task was to run interference in order to save their collective lives. She is also of an age where she sees no problem in tracking back and forth from the library door to the downstairs loo in muddy flip-flops in order to fill up the watering can, although for some mysterious reason she feels exempt from having to clean up the mess. (By this time the Missus was home and we both explained to her with words and gesture that she did not, in fact, enjoy any such exempt status.)

And the six year old? Well, after chasing butterflies for a while, she suddenly grabbed the shovel, lifted it up, and said, "I pledge allegiance to the shovel of the United States of shovels. And to the shovel for which it stands, one shovel, under God, with liberty and shovels for all." She then began laughing like a loon at her own wit. This gel happens to be Steve-O's God-daughter. It somehow seems fitting.

All in all, a restful and productive afternoon.

Posted by Robert at 12:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

There and Back Again

The perfect way to start yer Monday morning: Drive all the way to the Metro before you realize you've forgotten a) your briefcase, b) your lunch and c) the cleaning you're supposed to drop off.

Then get stuck behind a succession of school buses, very stinky garbage trucks and idiot-assed Maryland drivers as you head back home to try again.


UPDATE: As our pal Gary the Ex-Donk notes in the comments, there's a serious 80's babe battle going on over at his place, as Elisabeth Shue and Lynda Carter fight it out to move into the finals of his 80's Crush Tournament, there to take on Morgan Fairchild. It's a close one right now, so get on over there and vote.

Personally, since Lea Thompson lost to Fairchild in their semi round, I'm going with Wonder Woman.

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

Body Art

I think I have truly arrived as a commander when one of my former "leadership challenges" stopped by the Reserve Center this weekend on her way to a new assignment. She showed me her new tattoo, a combo of the Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command patch and her children's initials, proudly inscribed just above her shoulder blade. The instructors at the pre-command course never said anything like this would happen.

Posted by LMC at 08:09 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 23, 2006

Gratuitous Garden Posting---Steve-O Division

The second round of vegetables went into the garden today. The first round--spinach, brocoli, mesculum, romaine lettuce and vidalia onions went in March 17th. Today went in 9 varieties of tomatos and 6 of peppers. Much more on the specifics later, it's bed time.

UPDATE: Thanks for all the emails from folks about Little Miss Stubborn (age3) having her topple off the slide on Thursday. We're going to the pediatric orthopedist tomorrow, and they're going to do one more x-ray to see if she needs to have a pin, or whether a regular cast will do the trick. She has a plaster cast with an ace bandage wrapping on it now, and got through the weekend okey-dokey with liberal portions of Air Bud and Dairy Queen. She's received the official dispensation for Tee-Vee Turnoff Week, which does not amuse Little Miss Somersault (age 9) or Mister Skinny (age 7). The good news---Little Miss Stubborn was trying late this afternoon to milk her injury for even more special treatment. A very good sign indeed.

Posted by Steve at 09:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 22, 2006

Gratuitous Llama Customer Service

Sooper Sekret Message to Agent Bedhead: You want a cat's ass?

How about a cat's ass with a clown on it?

(Found here.)

I'm Robbo the Llama Butcher and I'm a jackass.

Posted by Robert at 02:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)- Outdoor Division

Woo Hoo! First bud has appeared in my perennial garden! It's a columbine that is actually growing up in the edge of the gravel path - last year's lot self-seeded all over the place and I don't have the heart to pull up the ones outside their beds.

Meanwhile, the azaleas and camilla are in full bloom and all of the peonies are covered in buds (and all the buds are covered in ants). Also, the buds are starting to come up on the iris.

And did I mention that I've actually cut back the Dicentra out front already? It's part of my pledgel to be a better pruner this year. I feel I've taken my first step into a larger gardening universe.

It would be a lot easier if I just posted pictures of all this instead of yammering about it. It suddenly dawned on me yesterday that if I could do this even with a cheap, disposable digital camera, there's no good reason why I shouldn't. So what do you guys think?

Posted by Robert at 11:06 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 21, 2006

Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)

This is the anniversary of Grierson's Raid in 1863.

Huh, you say?

Between April 17 and May 2, 1863, Union Col. Benjamin Grierson led a 1700 man cavalry raid from La Grange, Tennessee to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The purpose of the raid was to tie up Confederate units to keep them from reenforcing the defense of Vickburg against Grant's onslaught, as well as to do as much physical and psychological damage as possible. Here is Col. Grierson's report on the raid. It was quite the success, despite extremely trying circumstances:

During the expedition we killed and wounded about 100 of the enemy, captured and paroled over 500 prisoners, many of them officers, destroyed between 50 and 60 miles of railroad and telegraph, captured and destroyed over 3,000 stand of arms, and other army stores and Government property to an immense amount; we also captured 1,000 horses and mules.

Our loss during the entire journey was 3 killed, 7 wounded, 5 left on the route sick; the sergeant-major and surgeon of the Seventh Illinois left with Lieutenant-Colonel Blackburn, and 9 men missing, supposed to have straggled. We marched over 600 miles in less than sixteen days. The last twenty-eight hours we marched 76 miles, had four engagements with the enemy, and forded the Comite River, which was deep enough to swim many of the horses. During this time the men and horses were without food or rest.

Much of the country through which we passed was almost entirely destitute of forage and provisions, and it was but seldom that we obtained over one meal per day. Many of the inhabitants must undoubtedly suffer for want of the necessaries of life, which have reached most fabulous prices.

Two thousand cavalry and mounted infantry were sent from the vicinity of Greenwood and Grenada northeast to intercept us; 1,300 cavalry and several regiments of infantry with artillery were sent from Mobile to Macon, Meridian, and other points on the Mobile and Ohio road; a force was sent from Canton northeast to prevent our crossing Pearl, River, and another force of infantry and cavalry was sent from Brookhaven to Monticello, thinking we would cross Pearl River at that point instead of Georgetown. Expeditions were also sent from Vicksburg, Port Gibson, and Port Hudson to intercept us. Many detachments were sent out from my command and at various places to mislead the enemy, all of which rejoined us in safety. Colton's pocket map of Mississippi, which, though small, is very correct, was all I had to guide me; but by the capture of their couriers, dispatches, and mails, and the invaluable aid of my scouts, we were always able by rapid marches to evade the enemy when they were too strong and whip them when not too large.

If you're looking for a pretty good movie this weekend, might I suggest John Ford's The Horse Soldiers, starring John Wayne, which is loosely based on Grierson's Raid.

Posted by Robert at 04:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Crack the code!

Airport bookstore clerks around the world breathed a sigh of relief with this nooz:

LONDON (Reuters) - Dan Brown's follow-up novel to his global bestseller "The Da Vinci Code" won't be ready by the end of the year as originally expected, his publisher said on Friday.

"We don't know when it's coming, but it's out of the schedule for this year," said Larry Finlay, managing director for Transworld Publishers in London, a division of Bertelsmann-owned Random House.

"At one point we were hoping for it around October or November, but now it's looking like 2007," he told Reuters, confirming a report in the Bookseller trade publication.

The book, whose title and plot are as secretly guarded as the religious sects Brown writes about, remains unfinished, with Brown having been embroiled in a high-profile plagiarism lawsuit and the publicity surrounding an upcoming film adaptation of "The Da Vinci Code" starring Tom Hanks.

Neither Brown nor his agent in New York could immediately be reached to comment on reasons for the new book's delay.

The working title on the novel had been "The Solomon Key" though it was reportedly dropped.

Speculative books such as "Secrets of the Widow's Son" and "The Solomon Key and Beyond", as well as fan Web sites, have been trying to crack the plot, which Brown himself has hinted will deal with the ancient society of Masons.

Oooh! Ooooh! Mistah Kotter! Mistaaaaaah Kotter!

Yes Horseshack?

How about where the great Harvard symbologist Robert Toadman cracks the worldwide conspiracy backed by the sekret powers that be in publishing and entertainment to discover that the books of Dan Brown are---in fact!----completely derivative crap?

Ummm, because, Horseshack, that would be way too obvious.

Precisely, Mister Kotter!

This might become the most famous case of writer's block since Ralph Ellison.

Personally, though, I'm looking forward to his version of The North Beach Ratkins Diet, and other truths protected by the Knights Templar but hidden to you by the machinations of third century Bishop Ireneus and the Satanic Popes who followed him. And the Jesuits, they had something too. And the Jews. Chapter One: Eat Less and Exercise.

Posted by Steve at 02:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

America's Number 1 Health Terrorists called to task for extreme cultural insensitivity (but not for making people fat)

I am, of course, talking about Ben and Jerry.

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's have apologized for causing offence by calling a new flavor "Black & Tan" -- the nickname of a notoriously violent British militia that operated during Ireland's war of independence.

The ice cream, available only in the United States, is based on an ale and stout drink of the same name.

"Any reference on our part to the British Army unit was absolutely unintentional and no ill-will was ever intended," said a Ben & Jerry's spokesman.

"Ben & Jerry's was built on the philosophies of peace and love," he added.

Peace, love, and making obscene profits while making kids fat.

The Black and Tans, so-called because of their two-tone uniforms, were recruited in the early 1920s to bolster the ranks of the police force in Ireland as anti-British sentiment grew.

They quickly gained a reputation for brutality and mention of the militia still arouses strong feelings in Ireland.

"I can't believe that Ben & Jerry's would be so insensitive to call an ice cream such a name and to launch it as a celebration of Irishness ... it's an insult!" wrote one blogger on www.junkfoodblog.com.

One can only imagine what types of flavors would be available following this precedent (about twelve variations on "Custer Custard" come to mind).

I am hereby launching my jihad against the corporate stooges bent on causing Americans immense pain and bloating our healthcare budgets-----that is, it's time to go to war against Ben and Jerry's, and treat them like we now have to treat the tobacco companies. No more marketing to kids. No more ad campaigns involving clowns. No more pieces of crack sprinkled into "Tookies Surpise."

I'm a llama on a mission.

Posted by Steve at 02:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Where's Al Sharpton when you need him?

Yet something else we can blame on Steven Levitt.

Or FEMA. There's a FEMA angle in their, somehow.

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

This man is running for President. No, really.

The Joementum for New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential hopeful Bill Richardson keeps building. Why, just check out his latest FDR moment:

Organ animal rights activist Bob Young told Richardson he was "disappointed" that the governor has not shown more support for legislation to ban cock fighting. New Mexico is one of the few states that has not banned cock fighting.

"I have not made up my mind on that," Richardson said.

The governor added the arguments for and against cock fighting have been strong on both sides. For the Legislature to be able to fully consider the issue it would need to be conducted during a 60-day session -- which is scheduled next year, from Jan. 16 until March 17.

"The issue is controversial and probably draws more people to the Legislature than a lot of other issues," Richardson said.

Of course, if he does move to ban them, Dubya would just move to grant amnesty to the illegal fighting poultry coming over the border from Mexico.

There's a "why did the chicken cross the road?" joke in there somewhere that I'm just too much of a lazy, overpaid, entitlement driven American to go pick.

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

Gratuitous Vin Posting


My post-Easter remark that I had cooked a bad meal but at least saved it with good wine brought this email from Dad:

I'm happy that you had a good wine with Easter dinner. The Beaujolais wines are the best bargain, by far, of any French. The district is located just south of Burgundy and the wine is made from Gamay grapes, rather than Pinot Noir as in Burgundy. The Beaujolais is divided into a number of communes, the best being Brouilly, Fleurie, Julienas, Morgon and Moulin a Vent. The best wines will have the name of the specific commune on the bottle, rather than simply "Beaujolais" or "Beaujolais Villages". I suggest you try some of the other communes so you can get a full appreciation of the range of great values. By the way, these wines are fully mature 3 or 4 years after the vintage so you don't have to worry about storage. Also, 2003 was one of the great recent vintages. Good luck.

As it turns out, the Beaujolais also has its own website, complete with a nifty little appellations map that will give you all sorts of interesting details about each of these communes. As Dad notes, the quality of their product is better than the standard "Beaujolais" or "Beaujolais Villages". (I've tried about half of them so far.) Also, I am of the opinion that the yearly ballyhoo over the "Beaujolais Nouveaux" is just so much hype and really not worth bothering about.

All of these wines are readily available and, at least in my area, the individual commune labels run about $15.00 a bottle or so which, for the quality, is a very good price indeed. As a general rule, cheap French wine (unlike some cheap Italians) should be avoided. These, however, are the exception to that rule.

Care to join me in a glass, Bill?

UPDATE: Speaking of wine, I've mentioned before that we use sherry for Communion at my church. Well, a couple weeks ago, I discovered in the course of making dinner for some friends that this is, in fact, Taylor New York cooking sherry. Drinking an obligatory cook's-tax glass as I stirred my prosciutto and shrimp, I had an overwhelming urge to start singing the Old Hundredth.

Posted by Robert at 12:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

More Gratuitous Plum Blogging

Here's a review and recommendation of P.G. Wodehouse's Jill the Reckless by Will Duquette that I just came across over at the Blowhards' place.

I find this quite interesting because I wrote my own review of this book a couple months ago and, rereading it, find that I disliked it for more or less the same reasons Will enjoyed it. I'm not saying that either of us is right or wrong, but reading his review might give you a different perspective on things.

Speaking of Wodehouse and reviews, I also recently finished another new-to-me novel of his, Spring Fever, another non-Bertie & Jeeves, non-Blandings story. Unfortunately, I've already forgotten enough about it that I can't give a detailed review. All I recall at the moment is that I generally did not much care for the characters, particularly Augustus Robb, the reformed Cockney burglar turned valet, who is supposed to be the comic foil at the heart of the piece. Also, although the story contained several classic Wodehouse chapter-ending plot twists, it is not nearly as well constructed as some of his masterpieces.

As I realized that I had read two new Wodehouse novels in a row and not cared for either of them very much, I began to get a horrible suspicion: my copies of both of these books are part of a new hardcover reprint of Plum's works by Overlook Publishers. I dislike the artwork on the covers of this new series intensely. Is it possible that my reaction to the books' covers has been clouding my judgement of their content? Could I really be as shallow as all that?

Of course, this is only two books. I suppose the only thing to do is keep buying new volumes as they come out and keep building up my data.

Posted by Robert at 11:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hot Dog!

Just got the email from UPS that my Burpee order is on the way! Hot diggity!

Back in January, during the Daytona 500, we put in the order for the 9 plant tomato variety pack, plus the 6 plant pepper variety pack. Links later.

I'm salivating just thinking about it.

UPDATE: Folks are quibbling on the actual date of the Daytona 500, which was in February. Which would be relevant except my calendar goes December-January-April. January is just one freakin' long month that goes on for approximately 90 days, marked only by the holidays of Groundhog Day, Daytona 500, my birthday, the day the Girl Scout Cookies arrive, the day the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition arrives, and St. Patty's Day. So there.

Posted by Steve at 11:45 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Professor Chaos is on the case.

With emphasis, unfortunately, on the "exposing" part.

SOOPER SEKRIT MESSAGE to Professor Chaos: So you've got a thing for hot Viking babe libertarians, eh? I had a feeling reading your post that the next sentence would have been, "and then she took out her dog eared heavily underlined copy of The Road to Serfdom, and I was quivering in my cordoroys."

Posted by Steve at 11:40 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

It's The Wonder of Nature, Baybee!

I've got to help the eldest Llama-ette with a Science Fair project about lightning this weekend. Looks like we picked the perfect time to get into it:

... Moderate to heavy rainfall expected tonight and Saturday with severe weather possible late Saturday...

A warm front poised south of the region this morning will struggle
to move north today and tonight. Meanwhile... a strong region of
high pressure will be positioned over New England. This will
result in east flow across the region.

Numerous showers and thunderstorms will develop today in the warm
unstable air mass across the central Appalachians... and then move
northeast over the more stable air across the mid Atlantic.
Thus... expect a round of showers to develop today... with
thunderstorms becoming increasingly numerous southwest of
Washington... especially around Charlottesville... Harrisonburg...
Staunton... and Waynesboro.

Due to the rising amount of moisture in the air... moderate to
heavy rainfall can be expected late today... and continue through
tonight. Around an inch of rain will be possible across the
area by Saturday morning... with heavier rainfall amounts likely
along the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge. This could lead to
localized flooding if several rounds of heavy rainfall pass over
the same area.

The warm front should make it north of the region Saturday
morning. Then... a squall line associated with a cold front will
cross the region Saturday afternoon through mid evening. It will
collide with the moist airmass already in the mid Atlantic...
resulting in the potential for another period of very heavy rain.
Additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches will be possible and
could lead to flash flooding Saturday afternoon and evening.

A few severe thunderstorms could develop along and ahead of the
squall line as well. Damaging winds and large hail would be the
most likely severe weather threat. An isolated tornado would also
be possible.

(I also observe with some self-satisfaction that I managed to get the yard mown last evening in anticipation of the deluge.)

Posted by Robert at 10:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Rome!


Today is the traditional celebration of the anniversary of the founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 B.C. Early Roman history is shrouded in all kinds of myth and legend regarding Romulus, his brother Remus and their Trojan ancestry, but it has long been accepted that this is not an unreasonable year to assign the city's beginning. Here is an interesting article that suggests there may have been more to the original Rome than the collection of mud huts generally assumed.

The Romans themselves used a method of counting years based on the this anniversary, so that one can see dates recorded as being so many years "ab urbe condita" or "AUC" which means "from the founding of the city".

Posted by Robert at 10:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Drugged Llama

I've been feeling wonky off and on since Tuesday and it suddenly occured to me that this feeling might have had something to do with my trip to the dentist. While there, they loaded up a couple spots in my jaw with something called Arestin (minocycline hyrdochloride). Flipping through the liddashur they gave me, I see that side effects can include headache, infection, flu syndrome and pain.

So there you are. I'm generally not prone to drug reactions, but it seems I've found one here.

The stuff is time-released over something like a ten day period. Hope I'm not going to feel this way the whole time. It's really putting a crimp in my heavy farm machinery operating schedule.

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

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

Elizabeth II.jpg

Elizabeth II turns 80 years old today. Here is a website celebrating the occassion.

I must say that I feel extremely sorry for HM. She's a thoroughly good woman, bless her, and a thoroughly good Queen, but she's lived long enough to see the monarchy reach the verge of collapse, thanks mostly to the imbecile machinations of her offspring, who have managed to transmogrify the House of Windsor in the public eye from Royalty into mere celebrity. She certainly deserves a good deal better than that.

But that's a rant for another day. In the meantime, congratulations and many happy returns!

Long live the Queen!

Posted by Robert at 08:21 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 20, 2006

Car Talk

Your Summer Ride is a Jeep
For you, summer is all about having no responsibilities. You prefer to hang with old friends - and make some new ones.
What's Your Summer Ride?

Just as well, seeing as I drive one. Today was the first bona fide-y top-down kinda early summer day this year here in Dee Cee. And damme if one of my favorite howl-along tunes didn't come on the radio:

Pick Up Man - Joe Diffie

I got my first truck when I was three,
Drove a hundred thousand miles on my knees.
Hauled marbles and rocks and thought twice before
I hauled a Barbie doll bed for the girl next door.
She tried to pay me with a kiss and I began to understand,
There's somethin' women like about a pick-up man.

When I turned sixteen I saved a few hundred bucks
My first car was a pick-up truck
I was cruisin' the town and the first girl I see was
Bobbie Joe Gentry; the homecoming Queen
She flagged me down and climbed up in the cab and said
"I never knew you were a pick-up man"


You could set my truck on fire and roll it down a hill,
And I still wouldn't trade it for a Coupe de Ville.
I've got an eight-foot bed that never has to be made,
You know if it weren't for trucks we wouldn't have tail gates.
I met all my wives in traffic jams there's just somethin' women
Like about a pick-up man

Most Friday nights I can be found,
In the bed of my truck on an old chaise lounge.
Backed into my spot at the drive-in show
You know a cargo-light gives off a romantic glow.
I never have to wait in line at the popcorn stand
'Cause there's somethin' women like about a pick-up man


You could set my truck on fire and roll it down a hill,
And I still wouldn't trade it for a Coupe de Ville.
I've got an eight-foot bed that never has to be made,
You know if it weren't for trucks we wouldn't have tail gates.
I met all my wives in traffic jams there's just somethin' women
Like about a pick-up man

A bucket of rust or a brand new machine,
Once around the block and you'll know what I mean


You could set my truck on fire and roll it down a hill,
And I still wouldn't trade it for a Coupe de Ville.
I've got an eight-foot bed that never has to be made,
You know if it weren't for trucks we wouldn't have tail gates.
I met all my wives in traffic jams there's just somethin' women
Like about a pick-up man

And remember kids, this is the South. "Wives" should come out sounding something closer to "Wahves".

Yips! for the quiz to Beetle Beth.

Posted by Robert at 04:16 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

And now for something completely different

Little Miss Somersault (the three year old who calls Robbo her godfather) broke her arm today. More later.

Yips! from Robbo: Acrobatics, eh? Tonight, Mary Lou Retton sleeps with the fishes...

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

In re The Case of Incipient Verbal Diarrhea

Ha, ha.

Boy, you take a deposition in Texas, you better be ready to rumble.

Yips! to the Galley Slaves.

UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge has more on Joe Jamail, the Texas-sized jackass lawyer here. Turns out this isn't his first brush with verbal diarrhea.

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

Trial By Fire

Interesting FrontPage Magazine interview with Travis Rowley, author of a new book called Out of Ivy: How A Liberal Ivy Created A Committed Conservative. Says Rowley:

[...]I arrived at Brown with very little political knowledge or interest. I was a straight-A student, but I was an athlete more than anything else. I was equipped only with the values I had learned through Catholicism and athletics, but my personal belief system was something that I had never really thought too much about. I was never really forced to defend it, but at Brown that's exactly what I found myself doing. In many ways, my alma mater endorses the exact opposite of everything I was brought up to believe in. Being so politically and intellectually ignorant on so many popular campus topics, I was forced to sit back and keep my mouth shut-which was difficult for me because I was also a very opinionated and competitive individual. Somehow I ended up as a controversial opinion columnist for the university newspaper, and I thought my story would make for a pretty interesting book. I was a young, opinionated, right-minded athlete who was unexpectedly thrown into one of the nation's most passionately liberal institutions. Out of Ivy is not only an inside look at elite academia, it's also a microcosm of America's ongoing culture wars. It's an opportunity for people to better understand the sharp contrast between liberalism and conservatism.

Heck, I could have written this book twenty years ago. While the Glorious People's Soviet of Middletown is not an Ivy, it and its Little Three compatriots certainly count as Ivy Wannabes. As for the politics, well I first saw the expression "politically correct" in the campus newspaper in the fall of 1983. It was presented as part of a jokey guide for incoming freshmen frosh, but I quickly realized that one laughed at it at one's peril.

The irony at Wes was that while "diversity" was in theory the alpha and omega of the school's philosophy, in practice it promoted the kind of lockstep elitist liberalism Rowley talks about. And for a small-c conservative coming out of the South Texas backwater, it was quite the culture shock. I recall thinking my first semester that the entire world had lost its collective mind and felt an enormous sense of relief during Christmas break when I realized that no, in fact, it was just the campus.

As it happened, I lived at Base One of the Fanatical Left (West College, in case any of you are familiar with the campus). Since everybody else there dressed the same, thought the same, listened to the same music, did the same drugs, etc., etc., while at the same time telling each other how wonderfully different they were, I reckoned it was time to start jerking some chains by demonstrating that no, I was in fact the most "diverse" person in the place. Indeed, I could have moved to another dorm, but I wound up staying there all four years just because I couldn't resist this irony.

Rowley's thesis is that the attitude of the campus and the hostility he faced from its political elites were actually beneficial in the long run, in that they forced him to toughen up:

And because I suddenly found myself in the middle of campus controversies, I was also forced to quickly define my own values in order to argue effectively against them. Here is where readers are able to follow the political development of a politically naïve student, armed only with gut feelings and his own personal sense of right and wrong.

I certainly found that to be true as well. I never got myself into the middle of a campus controversy, but I did draw cartoons for the conservative paper and occasionally would get threats or comments about them. (The night of Walter Mondale's electoral massacre, apparently somebody wanted to find me and break my nose. However, he was too drunk to manage it.) In general, though, it was more a day to day matter - lots of little things that could mushroom up into political discussions in an instant. I quickly learned that I had to be instantly ready to defend virtually anything that came out of my mouth.

Did all this make me more of a conservative like Rowley? No, I was pretty much on the way to begin with. But it certainly made me think much harder about why I was one. In the long run, I think this experience was very good.

Interestingly, Rowley was also a varsity athelete and this affected his political participation and outlook as well. My own belief is that playing a varsity sport was most beneficial in giving one the correct perspective on things. Among the crew, there was certainly a wide variety of political philosophies. But we all dedicated so much time and effort to rowing that we came to see most of the "issues" that rocked the rest of the campus as so much penny-ante bullsh*t. I don't recall a single instance of politics spilling into the boats.

'Course, as I say, this was all twenty years ago. God knows what goes on now. Rowley's story would be a useful update.

Yips! to Rachel.

Posted by Robert at 12:32 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

WACO, Texas (AP) - Thirteen years after the Branch Davidians' armed standoff with federal agents ended in an inferno that killed nearly 80 people, six sect members who were sent to prison are about to be released from custody.

Most of those who will be freed over the next two months escaped from the compound near Waco as it burned to the ground on April 19, 1993 - 51 days after a shootout that erupted when federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to arrest religious leader David Koresh for stockpiling guns and explosives.

The six men went to federal prison for manslaughter, weapons offenses or both in connection with the shootout, which left four federal agents and six Davidians dead.

Once the men are out, they will be on supervised release for three to five years. Among other things, they will be barred from associating with one another.

A seventh Davidian is also still behind bars but is not scheduled for release until next year.

One of the six, Paul Gordon Fatta, said he remains angry about the government's actions.

``They needed their pound of flesh, so they took the survivors and put them on trial. Somebody had to pay,'' Fatta, 48, told The Associated Press by telephone.

Koresh and nearly 80 followers, including two dozen children, died in a blaze that survivors say was ignited by tear gas sprayed into the compound buildings from military tanks. Authorities claim the Davidians committed suicide by setting the fire and shooting themselves.

Fatta is to be released next month in San Diego, where he was moved to a halfway house last year and now works at a restaurant. He was not at the compound during the standoff and was at a gun show in Austin during the shootout with the ATF. He said will live with his family after his release.

``I'm proud of my friends, and it was a privilege for me to have gone there to study the Bible, regardless of what the world thinks,'' Fatta said. ``If I had it to do all over again, I would do the same thing.''

Jaime Castillo, who is to be released next month from a Los Angeles halfway house, said he plans to remain there and try to rebuild his life by forming another band - which is how he met Koresh in 1988 - or by working as a personal trainer. The 37-year-old Castillo said he might visit the compound site, where a few survivors still meet for Bible study each weekend.

In 1994 in San Antonio, 11 Davidians went on trial; all were acquitted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. However, five were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and weapons charges and three were convicted on weapons charges. A 12th Davidian pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and testified against the others; she was sentenced to three years and was released in 1996.

The federal judge sentenced most to 40 years but in 2000 reduced most terms to 15 years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his decision. One of the eight was sentenced to five years on a weapons charge and got out in 1997.

Jane McKeehan of Johnson City, Tenn., whose 28-year-old son Todd McKeehan was one of the ATF agents killed, said she and her family have tried to focus on their son and not think too much about the Davidians.

``It is in our minds every day; it completely changes your life,'' McKeehan said. ``We're Christians, and we know we're going to see Todd again, so we try to focus on the good. He was doing what he wanted to do and was adamant about making it a better world.''

Posted by Steve at 09:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 19, 2006

Terrence and Phillip Come To Orgle Manor

The eight year old Llama-ette seems to have bought a whoopie-cushion recently. She and her sisters were loaded down to the Plimsoll mark with fart jokes for me this evening, complete with prop.


How to go about tactfully suggesting that the subject matter is not appropriate without killing off the sense of spontaneous fun. It's a delicate operation, indeed. Probably why so many parents either let the kids run wild unabated or else drop the hammer.

So what did I do? Well, most importantly, I didn't overreact. I simply gave them a somewhat disapproving look and said, "Oh, girls....."

UPDATE: I dropped the Llama-ettes off at school this morning. As we were waiting in the car for the school to open, they had a loud, hanging-out-the-windows conversation with the little girl in the car next astern to us. Topic? Fart jokes. It's an epidemic, I tell you, an epidemic sweeping our land, poisoning the minds of our young people today!

Personally, I blame Canada.

Posted by Robert at 08:00 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

I Am Blogrollio!

Some new entries on the ol' Llama blogroll I just wanted to bring to your attention:

First up, And Then I Woke Up - Sleepy Beth is another Dee Cee area blogger who likes to write about home and work and pretty much whatever crosses her mind.

Then there's Man About Mayfair - Basil Seal rides again. Indeed, I have some very deep suspicions about Mr. Seal's prior, er, ride. But I don't have the necessary proof to make the charge. Yet.

Finally, it's 1 Girl, 4 Martinis - You do the math. Bobgirrl is a hoot.

Welcome aboard, all! Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 07:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Six Meat Buffet turns two years old, and yet somehow the world hasn't ended. Yet another intelligence analysis failure by St. John the Evangelist.

Posted by Steve at 06:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It's On The Internet So It Must Be True

No. 2 out of 1.54 mil Google hits for Stupid LLama.


Posted by Robert at 03:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

80's Crush Tournament: Final Four

Gary the Ex-Donk's Tournament of 80's Babes is down to the last two pairings with Lea Thompson vs. Morgan Fairchild and Elisabeth Shue vs. Lynda Carter.

Voting in the Thompson/Fairchild match continues through Friday noon, to be followed by the Shue/Carter battle.

Go vote early and often:


I'm Robbo the Llama Butcher and I approve this ad.

YIPS from Steve-O: Shouldn't that read, "I'm Robbo the LLama Butcher, and by approving this ad I'm guaranteed to be sleeping on the basement couch tonight."

Anyhoo, can we even fathom the inhumanity posed by the potential Shue/Thompson face-off?

Posted by Robert at 02:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Patrick O'Brian Posting

Hunt Ionian.gif
"The Ionian Mission" by Geoff Hunt

I sometimes feel a little ashamed of the fact that I am reading the Aubrey/Maturin series yet again for the umpteenth time. But then I come across little half-forgotten gems like this:

"Stuff," said Jack. "Subordination is the natural order: there is subordination in Heaven - Thrones and Dominions take precedence over Powers and Principalities, Archangels and ordinary foremast angels; and so it is in the Navy. You have come to the wrong shop for anarchy, brother."

Archangels and ordinary foremast angels - I just love that.

The Ionian Mission, from which this quote comes, is the eighth book of the series. To me, it is really the first book in which O'Brian truly indulges himself in these wonderful little grace notes. Having solidly established his characters and set up several far-reaching story arcs (Jack's landshark troubles, the stormy marriage of Stephen and Diana, the evil duplicity of Andrew Wray) in the prior books, here O'Brian seems to have felt that he could truly relax and enjoy what he was writing. This isn't to say that he didn't do so previously. Rather, I think this book marks the full flowering of the series' best style, a style that O'Brian manages to keep up fairly consistently until The Wine-Dark Sea, after which I'm afraid the poor man - old and worn out - seems to have become quite sick and tired of the whole business.

The painting above presumably depicts H.M.S Worcester, a 74-gun ship of the line commanded by Captain Aubrey in the first part of the novel. O'Brian describes her as a crank, poorly-constructed vessel, the product of a corrupt private yard. This site offers some interesting historical background on her (as well as the other ships of O'Brian's novels):

The Worcester is described in the novel as being of the notorious "Forty Thieves" type (a designation bestowed for their poor workmanship, although the name actually dates from after the close of the Napoleonic Wars, as the fortieth ship was not completed until long after the fighting ended), more formally known as the "Surveyors' class" that began with the launch of HMS Armada in 1810, contrary to the impression given in the novel that the Worcester is an old ship. Although the ship class is genuine, the specific name "Worcester" is fictional. The poor reputation of this group of Third Rates was probably not entirely deserved, and in fact the design produced more ships-of-the-line than any other class. The Armada herself was not sold out of the service until 1863.

I don't know if this information is true or not, but it seems plausible. O'Brian does not seem to have had much of a liking for ships of the line as a whole, preferring instead the more independent and dashing frigates. There is no particular reason he had to turn the Worcester into a floating coffin, other than (I suppose) to heighten the reader's pleasure when Jack transfers back into HMS Surprise for his mission to Greece.

UPDATE: Speaking of the decline of O'Brian's writing toward the end of the series, Basil Seal notes what is the most gratuitously evil episode in the entire 21 book cycle, for which O'Brian really can't be forgiven. **SERIOUS SPOILER ALERT**

UPDATE DEUX: Apparently the Moo-Knew comment filter is playing Old Harry again. I understand this is in response to a wave of spam attacks. Anyhoo, INDCent Bill offers this via the Tasty Bits Mail Sack (TM):

Just an amazing series of books. I'm on my first pass, at number 4 now, and I'm totally blown away by the richness of the characters and the way O'Brian builds his prose. Hard to read the historical and nautical speech sometimes (I sometimes have to skip paragraphs w/o discerning the exact meaning of what they're doing - merely an intimation), but when you think about reconstructing all of the dialects and weaving them seamlessly into the language of his own third person narrative, it really is a "capital" writing achievement. Just brilliance.

In addition, Maturin is such a great character, and many of his observations, medical, scientific, philosophical (in our sense, not the 19th Century synonym for science) impart a great deal of timeless wisdom. This wisdom, of course, really comes from O'Brian, and marks him as a very, very clever fellow.

One thing - I seem to recall you panning the movie, specifically Russell Crowe's portrayal of Aubrey. I think you're wrong about that. The actor could have been a bit rounder (though by Hollywood standards of beauty, Crowe was still the perfect choice in the beefy, charismatic Captain requisite) and his performance could have been a bit more - what's the word? "foolish and slap-happy" in everyday discourse? - but Crowe did indeed capture some of that devil may care mirth ... so I think you don't give the effort enough credit in at least that respect.

Only 16(!) more to go.

Ah...another convert to the O'Brian Nation.

In fact, I did pan the movie for numerous reasons, including two touched on by Bill. First, as he notes, the language of the novels is beautiful and indeed is a large part of what makes them worth reading. Of course, this is impossible to translate to the screen and, IMHO, should not have been attempted. There are plenty of other sea stories out there that could be turned into movies without doing literary violence to them.

Second, I continue to maintain that Russell Crowe is all wrong for the Jack Aubrey penned by O'Brian. I don't know that I'd say Aubrey should be more foolish or slap-happy, but a marked part of his character for most of the series is the fact that in many ways he is (or can be) an overgrown boy, and I simply see no sign of that in Crowe.

More than once I've mulled the question: just who could play Aubrey successfully. I've never really come up with a satisfying answer. However, discounting for both age and accent, the two actors I can think of who might capture some of the Aubrey spirit are Peter O'Toole and (don't laugh) John Wayne.

YIPS from Steve: Uh, Rob? Kurt Russell.

Geez, I'm left with answering all the obvious questions around here.

YIPS BACK from Robbo:


"N'yar, Jim Lad! Hoist the Jolly Roger and prepare ta board!"

I don't think it's quite the same thing.......

Posted by Robert at 10:52 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Let's Go, Nats!

Nats Logo.gif

Caught my first Nats game of the year on tee vee last evening. Okay, it was against the Phillies (in your face, Gordo!), and okay it was kinda iffy until Zimmerman and Church opened it up in the last innings, but this is the Nats' third straight win and we've got ourselves a bit of a rally going here. And with the Mets getting soundly spanked by the Braves, who knows? Maybe the steam is beginning to come out of their initial surge. (In your face, Gary!)

All this "root for the home team" stuff is new to me. Growing up in San Antonio, all we had was one the Dodgers' farm clubs (Fernando Valenzueula came through and pitched all of about two and a third innings before being called up to the Show). You could cheer the Astros if you wanted to, but I don't recall that very many people did.

Of course, getting behind a newly transplanted fifth-rate team isn't the same thing as the grand old traditions of, say Red Sawx Nation, but everybody has to start somewhere, right?

So, go Nats!

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

April 18, 2006

Laugh While You Can, Monkey-Boy!

According to this report, most men find funny women a turn-off. Apparently, it's not so much an issue of a woman having a sense of humor or not having one, but rather a preference for women who laugh at jokes as opposed to women who tell them:

Scientists say women who tell jokes are seen as a threat, undermining men’s idea that they should hold the dominant role.

Hundreds of men and women in their twenties were questioned by academics. Most said they found a sense of humour to be attractive in women - but when asked if they would want to be with a woman who cracked jokes herself, more than half said no.

Dr Rod Martin, whose research will be published in the scientific journal Evolution and Human Behaviour this week, said his findings suggested men feel threatened by witty women.

‘When forced to choose between humour production and humour appreciation in potential partners, women valued humour production, whereas men valued receptivity to their own humour,’ he said.

Evidently, I missed the meeting on this one because I find witty women to be extremely attractive. And anyway, from what I can tell, I think the study sets up a false dichotome. Why should what is called "humor production" be a monopoly for one partner or the other? Surely the ideal arrangement is one in which both parties can tell jokes and laugh at each other's as well?

Yips! to Jenee at People Are Idiots, via Bobgirrl at 1 Girl, 4 Martinis.

UPDATE: It's The Corholio Soundboard. Male "humor production" - Live the dream, ladies!

Yips! to the Sinner.

Posted by Robert at 03:07 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

It's The Arts, Spud Division

Holy crap, that Sobek fellow is so geeky, he makes us look flat out hip!



The man behind the crocodile mask? You decide. (And bonus geek cred for identifying the actual character in this pic.)

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


If your retinas are scarring owing to the Llama Easter Skin, remember that you can always nip over to the right hand column and choose one of our regular looks.

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 11:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo?

(Image lifted from the Rocky Mountain Llama and Alpaca Association)

This morning, I went to the dentist. While this would not be an extraordinary event to most people, it represented something of a red letter day for me because of the fact that the last time I actually went to a dentist was Christmas, 1989. [Insert your own gasps of horror and astonishment here.] I don't really have any particular excuse for this lapse except that I've never had any problems with my teeth and that I'm at least very good about brushing and flossing.

So you're probably thinking that Nemesis caught up with me this morning, right? Ha, ha - WRONG! Perhaps it's because I've always disliked sweets or else because of Uncle Joe Stalin and his secret water flouridation plan, but my 41 year streak of no cavities or fillings remains intact. (Sooper Sekret Message to the Missus: HA-ha!) Furthermore, although I've still got two upper wisdom teeth (one of which has rotated through 90 degrees, apparently), my gums are healthy enough around them that neither the hygenist nor the dentist saw any need to yank them. And on top of that, a lot of under-the-gum-line jabbing revealed just one or two spots that needed treatment to head off some potential pockets of disease. All in all, purtty durn good, I should say.

Nonetheless, they sure put me through the wringer for it. The hygienist looked a little and sounded a lot like Linda Fiorentino and had, shall we say, an extremely aggressive technique with the pick. Also, I think she started losing patience with my constant reflexive clamping down and obstruction. Over and over she kept saying, "Relax your tongue. Relax your tongue!" What I wanted to say in reply was, "How? What is a relaxed tongue? Where should it be? What do I do?" What came out was, "Uurrrhgh". I still feel like I've been punched a couple times.

On the other hand, the dentist herself was extremely pleasant and chatty (and easy on the eyes: she looked like Michelle Malkin's little sister). After she expressed her astonishment at the health of my choppers, we somehow got into a discussion about the evils of Bratz dolls and the comparative wholesomeness of Barbie.

[SIDEBAR ALERT:] Not that Barbie is particularly wholesome at Orgle Manor. Owing to various friends and relatives, we've got a whole sorority house full of them, all of whom, thanks to the Llama-ettes, are stark naked. (Don't ask me why, but practically the first thing the gels do when they get a Barbie is take her clothes off.) They all live jumbled up in one large, communal box, together with a singleton Ken doll whose bright eyes and smile take on a whole new significance in that context. Occasionally I'll look at him as I pass by and murmer, "Dude!" [SIDEBAR COMPLETE]

Anyhoo, there you have it. And having gone through it, I suddenly have an urge to rent Little Shop of Horrors - the scene between Steve Martin's sadistic dentist and Bill Murray's masochistic patient is, if I remember right, hysterically funny.

UPDATE: The topical anaesthetic Linda the Hygiene Sergeant gave me has worn off just as I'm starting to eat lunch. Ow.

UPDATE DEUX: Why the hell didn't you people tell me I mispelled "hygiene"?

Posted by Robert at 11:13 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dave Barry on 24

He's upset that Audrey has not been greased. Read the comments.

Posted by LMC at 09:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

This should remove any lingering doubt

Tom Cruise has gone mental.

Yips! from Robbo: Could I just point out one small thing about the article? In an effort to shove more shotguns into the barrel of fish, the author includes this among Cruise's "strange outbursts":

The Top Gun star also insisted he "sensed" fiancee Katie was pregnant before she told him.

Far be it from me to defend this guy, but this is hardly a "strange statement" in itself (unless, of course, the sentence immediately following it was, "I sensed it because Xenu came to me in the form of coffee pot steam and told me."). Especially with the younger Llama-ettes, I knew perfectly well when I had, as it were, rung the bell. It's one of those husband and wife things. If you're paying attention, it's not all that difficult to spot. Well, at least it wasn't for us.

'Course, since I imagine Cruise didn't actually lay a finger on Katie in this case but had the whole business taken care of artificially, it does get a little stranger. Perhaps the docs informed him that the implantation had been a success before she woke up from the procedure?

Posted by LMC at 06:58 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

What officers owe their superiors

Richard Holbrooke has an opinion piece in this morning's The Virginian Pilot to the effect that the retired generals speak for those who are, in essence, too afraid to speak out. It is opposite to a piece by a Navy commander that tells the retirees to shut up and head back to the golf course. My take is leaders, particularly senior officers, owe their superiors and especially their subordinates, frank assessments, sound courses of action, and considered judgment. If you can't give that to your generals because you are worried about your career, then you do not deserve your rank or command. I have said controversial things to my superiors, including the generals, and they appreciate the "truth in advertising." My generals ultimately are interested in four things from their junior commanders: what's right, what's wrong, what is my plan to fix what's wrong, and what help I need from them.

Posted by LMC at 06:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 17, 2006

"I'm Sporticus!"

Take the quiz:
What Lazy Town Character are You?

You Are Sporticus!

Quizzes by myYearbook.com -- the World's Biggest Yearbook!

This one is for the Llama-ettes, all of whom - the six year old in particular - love this show. Me, I've only seen the odd bits and pieces, so know practically nothing about it. It looks pretty weird, tho.

Yips! to Robbie Rotten.

Posted by Robert at 03:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Like Woodstock for Lawyers

I received a flyer from the Dee Cee Bar for a CLE session of unusually horrid promise. Entitled "Ethics Rock! A Musical Ethics Program", it is described thus:

This tuneful and nostalgic legal ethics course presents complex legal ethics scenarios as parodies of some of the greatest rock-and-roll hits of the 60's. Expertly performed by professional classic rock performers, this course features stories of lawyers facing ethical difficulties as told through the songs of The Beatles, The Who, Simon & Garfunkel and James Taylor. Among the ethical issues that you will explore through song and lively discussion are basic duties of the attorney-client relationship, fitness to practice law, [Ed. - yadda, yadda, yadda]. Put your hands together for this ethics course that is sure to rock you.

Aw, Geez. Pay a hundred bucks to go watch some aging Boomers making fools of themselves with stupid rock 'n roll nostalgia lawyer jokes? No, thankee.

I'll wait for the 80's version, when we can all learn to Sussudio.

UPDATE: And yes, I know that song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Mwaaaa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!!!

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

"Roses Are Red/Violets Are Blue/But How Can You Possibly Be Thinking of Flowers/While Blood Is Spilling For Oil?"

The Crack Young Staff at the Hatemonger's Quarterly announce the Third Anniversary HMQ Horrible College Student Poetry Competition, a hell-for-leather race to the very lowest slopes of Mt. Parnassus:

Once again, our Official Contest Judge is a poet of the ages: Anonymous. Throughout a preternaturally long career, Anonymous has crafted some of the most beloved poems known to the world. And he will be carefully examining our entries, hunting for all the telltale signs of pathetic collegiate doggerel: Ghastly clichés; predictably utopian politics; clunky non-rhythms; misspellings; irksome tones of all-knowingness. Points will be deducted for the proper use of meter, alliteration, and other signs of poetic competence.

Entries are due by May 3rd, so bong-up and get scribbling!

Posted by Robert at 11:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

And there was much rejoicing

Good nooz over at Here in the Bonny Glenn with the arrival of Baby Cinquo.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Steve at 11:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I had a go at cooking Easter Dinner yesterday and made a pretty sad fist of it - the lamb was blah and the potatoes were too oily. However, I did get the wine right - a very nice Fleurie.

Given that I'd rather drink good wine than eat bad food, I'm feeling a bit on the fuzzy side this morning. My apologies if I seem more stupid or incoherent than usual.

UPDATE: I should also note that I finally moved the Joe Pye around in the garden on Saturday, shifting a total of a half dozen plants, each of which had a root ball that must have weighed 70 pounds. My knees and back are not what they used to be.

Posted by Robert at 08:17 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Disgruntled generals

and the theater of the absurd rages on with stories of "embattled" defense secretary Rumsfeld. At any given time, there about three hundred general officers in the Army, including the Army Reserve and the National Guard, with probably several times that on the retired rolls, not counting the other services. Grumbling by six is hardly representative of the general officer corps. I note that one, Zinni, is a former Clinton appointee who seems more jealous of the success of Tommy Franks at CENTCOM than anything else. Riggs, according to one report, was forced to retire last year at reduced rank on one-day's notice for "adverse command climate" which to me suggests that he was given a choice of immediate retirement for the good of the service or face very unpleasant scrutiny. Batiste publicly contradicted the SecDef on troop levels while still on active duty which cannot be expected to be career-enhancing. This sounds more like bruised egos than anything else.

Posted by LMC at 07:14 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

And triple Zoro Yips to Sadie over at Agent Bed Head/Apothegm Designs for coming up with the it's so zesty it should be banned by EU regulations sooper sekrit Easter skin. If it's not showing in all its pinkness, go over to the selection window on the right column and pull down "easter finery." Oh my goodness.

Yips! from Robbo: Well, I had been thinking of doing a serious Easter post but, well, never mind.....

Yips! from Agent Bedhead: Hey now. Phinneus did half of the job here. He'll either be grateful or embarrassed at this mention because - dayum - this is arguably the ugliest thing we've ever created.

Posted by Steve at 11:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 15, 2006

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Easter Division

We have never cooked lamb at Orgle Manor for Easter Dinner because the Missus really doesn't like it very much. This has always been a bit of a disappointment to me, because I happen to love it.

Well stap my vitals, the Missus surprised me this year by coming home with a leg o' lamb for din-dins tomorrow.

Have I mentioned recently that I really am not worthy of this woman?

YIPS from Steve: No, but we often do.

Posted by Robert at 01:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

You Will Never Find A More Wretched Hive Of Scum And Villainy

The WaPo runs a long article starting on the front page today about a blogger named Maryscott O'Connor, who apparently started out over at Kos's Moonbat Mos Eisley and graduated to her own place.

The piece aims at a sympathetic portrayal of the on-line Angry Left, but I'm curious as to what the average WaPo reader who doesn't really have much experience with political blogging will make of this woman. Will said WaPo reader nod his or her head and murmer in sympathy? Or, even if such reader is a mainstream Liberal, will they read the story and think, "What a loon"?

To me, she is a complete crackpot, not because of her political views but because of her utter obsessiveness as described in the article. (And just so you know, I feel the same way about the more virulant kind of Freeper.) Anybody whose first thought in the morning is about politics, who spends every waking minute fuming and stewing about the President and whose only apparent release is to spew potty-mouthed rants on the subject all day long has some serious personal issues.

Of course, being a blogger myself, I'm somewhat more used to this sort of thing than many. As I say, though, I wonder what the reaction of other people will be upon being introduced to it.

Posted by Robert at 12:51 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Exile from Red Sox Nation update

Schilling goes to 3 and 0, Sox go to .700. Confidence level: it's not even Patriots Day, yet mild pennant race nervousness has set in. Geez louise.

Posted by Steve at 09:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Questions that keep us all up at night

Agent Bed Head, provocateur.

Henry Rollins. William Shatner. Monday Night Football.

Someone hold me. Stevie frightened.

Posted by Steve at 09:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 14, 2006

Blogging---above and beyond the call of duty

Melissa Wiley of Here in the Bonny Glen (a must see daily read over at Stately LLama Manor---think Lileks but with wit, style, and grace) liveblogs her water breaking, as does hubby Scott.


UPDATE: We have good news. Scott, I like my cigars very old and very Cuban.

Posted by Steve at 01:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

Where's Robbo? Well, out having a good morning in the yard. While I suppose that doing yardwork isn't really part of the Good Friday litany, I will say that I did meditate on the Seven Last Words as I made my rounds.

Also in the spirit of the day, I tell you truly that my main achievement was to whack the holy jebus out of the forsythia hedge on the west side of the garden. I was deeply disappointed with its flowering this year and after a bit of research, convinced myself that I simply hadn't been pruning it heavily enough for the past couple years (forsythia blooms on new growth from the previous year). Also, I noticed a lot of dead and scraggly stuff in the middle of the bushes indicating not enough light was getting in.

At it's peak, the hedge stands about fourteen or fifteen feet tall. This year, instead of knocking it back to eight or nine, I razed it down to a mere three feet and chopped back all the little niggly twigs and whatnot. It looks awfully stark now, but I think this is just what it needed.

All this may be going to my head, as I was eyeing the azaleas with a mind to give them the same treatment. They, too, have become scraggly and unkempt, with lots of internal branches dying off. Howsomever, it's my understanding that it is best to hog azaleas back before they start their spring growth, so it's too late this year. The good news is that they all seem to have many more buds than I was expecting just a week or two ago and should open out pretty soon.

After I was done chopping, I hauled out the ol' lawn mower for the first time this season. Happily, it started right up without complaint. This is probably because it knows that the instant it starts giving me trouble I will simply toss it and buy a new one. I know this is horribly consumerist behavior, but really, messing about with repairs and whatnot on something so inexpensive really isn't worth the time and effort. (If you disagree, you can come over and fix it when it finally breaks down.) Not a bad day for mowing, but I swallowed a surprising quantity of insect life.

As I sit here with my tall iced coffee (the nectar of the Gods), I notice that the clouds are getting darker. There's nothing so nice as finishing up the job just before the weather sets in. I also notice that yet another yearly ritual has begun again. My next door neighbor is one of those ultra-competitive lawn guys. I cannot remember a single time in the last five years when, if he hasn't actually beaten me to the punch, he isn't hard at it within half an hour of my getting done mowing. I can hear him out there right now. (This is the same neighbor who raids our raspberry and blueberry bushes when he thinks we're away and who once, when the 'rents were babysitting the Llama-ettes, famously filched an entire dinner's worth of asparagus just before Dad went out to cut it for his own.)

Well, it's off to the showers. Tomorrow I plan to start rearranging the garden, basically flipping the north and east sides. It's far too complicated to explain all the steps, so I'll just wait until I'm done and describe everything in its new setting.

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

The antique media's monthly attempt to oust Rumsfeld

At least once a month, there are stories on how Rumsfeld is on his way out or there are calls for his resignation, or some other such nonsense. Sure Rumsfeld will leave-and that will happen when W. leaves in January 2009. The SecDef's policy of transformation has ruffled a lot of feathers and killed a lot of sacred cows in the Congress and the Pentagon but it is moving the military in the right direction.

Posted by LMC at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

All hail

The flag of Niue

flag of niue home of moo knew.png

Posted by Steve at 06:47 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 13, 2006

The Triumph of Freidmanesque Globalization, or Me love you long time

I just noticed this visit in the referal logs, and it's truly the triumph of globalization: someone in Hanoi, Vietnam googled up the LLamas to access our site, written by three Americans, hosted by an Australian, on a server on the South Pacific island of Niue (via Jersey), to access pictures of French Nooz Babe Melissa Theuriau looking like a complete hottie while interviewing a dying Yasser Arafat.

me so horny.jpg

It's enough to bring a tear to my eye. Admiral Grace Hopper would have been so proud.

Posted by Steve at 10:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Happy birthday, Mister President....

thomas jefferson happy birthday.jpg tj happy birthday.jpg thomas jefferson man of dignity.jpg

Since we're in an uber-geek history mode today, it's necessary to note the passing of the 263rd birthday of the Sage of Monticello himself.

Posted by Steve at 06:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Attention History Geeks!

Earlier today, I stated that President Lincoln was the only sitting U.S. President to come under enemy fire, as he was the subject of sharpshooter attacks at Ft. Stevens in 1864 during Jubal Early's raid on Washington. (In fact, a medical officer standing a few feet away from Lincoln was hit by a Confederate bullet.)

However, an alert reader left a comment to the effect that he though James Madison had been involved in combat when the British descended on Washington in 1814. This site states that Madison and a number of his political associates were present during the opening stages of the disastrous Battle of Bladensburg, MD, and that Madison actually appeared armed for the battle.

Does anybody know anything more about Madison's participation at Bladensburg? Would it be accurate to say that he "came under enemy fire"? Or did he retire from the field before the British guns could reach him?

UPDATE: From Madison's Memorandum on the Battle of Bladensburg -

After a short turn to the Marine barracks whither the Secretary of the Navy had gone, I mentioned to Mr. Rush who was with me my purpose of going to Bladensburg and my object in so doing. He readily accompanied me. On approaching the Town, we learned from William Simmons, that Winder was not there, and that the enemy were entering it. We rode up to him instantly. The Secretaries of State and War were with him. I asked the latter whether he had spoken with Genl. Winder on the subject of his arrangements and views. He said he had not. I remarked that tho' there was so little time for it, it was possible he might offer some advice or suggestion that might not be too late, to be turned to account; on which he rode up to the General as I did myself. The un-ruliness of my horse prevented me from joining in the short conversation that took place. When it was over, I asked Genl. Armstrong whether he had seen occasion to suggest any improvement in any part of the arrangements. He said that he had not; that from his view of them they appeared to be as good as circumstances admitted.

When the Battle had decidedly commenced, I observed to the Secretary of War and Secretary of State that it would be proper to withdraw to a position in the rear, where we could act according to circumstances; leaving military movements now to the military functionaries who were responsible for them. This we did, Mr. Rush soon joining us. When it became manifest that the battle was lost; Mr. Rush accompanying me, I fell down into the road leading to the city and returned to it.

Well, it's unclear, but it seems Madison cleared out as soon as the battle started.

Posted by Robert at 02:54 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Rainbow Fish

Dad? Remember that email conversation we had yesterday about places to fly-fish? Well fer cryin' out loud, don't go to Britain - you're too old, too male and too white:

Research by the Environment Agency found that only seven per cent of anglers were under 18, five per cent were female and "very few" came from ethnic minorities.

It concluded: "We want to see angling available to all sectors of society, irrespective of gender, race, age and ability/disability."

In order to combat this,

The Environment Agency, which protects waterways, has decided to spread the message about coarse and fly fishing to ethnic minorities and women.

The agency's 10-year campaign will use money from the £19 million raised each year by the sale of fishing licences, and a leaflet has already been produced covering "10 things you should know about angling".

These include: "Angling does not discriminate against gender, race, age or athletic ability", and the "Government is interested in angling in the context of social inclusion in deprived urban areas".

No word yet on whether the EA will start training the trout to strike proffered flies only on a strict quota system based on the angler's identity.

Yips! to Rachel.

Posted by Robert at 02:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Reason No. 142,253 Why I Love The Internet

Civil War history and scary clowns - the singularity has been achieved:

Dan Rice.jpg

Dan Rice

Dan Rice (1823-1901) was a clown of the Civil War era. Like Will Rogers and Bob Hope he commented humorously on current events. A composer, he created many popular topical songs. He campaigned for Zachary Taylor for President. One of the things he would do was invite Taylor to ride on the circus bandwagon in the circus parades. Local politicians would clamor to ride as well hoping his popularity would benefit them. People would comment, "Look who's on Taylor's bandwagon," inspiring the phrase "jump on the bandwagon."

Rice had a goatee and wore a patriotic costume he referred to as his flag suit. Political cartoonist Ogden Nash based his drawings of Uncle Sam on Rice and his costume.

Dan Rice was an accomplished animal trainer. He specialized in pigs and mules, which he trained and sold to other clowns. He also presented an act with a trained rhinoceros and is the only person in circus history to present a tightrope walking elephant.

Rice was the highest paid person in America some years, earning more then his close personal friend Abraham Lincoln. A philanthropist he gave generously to many charities and erected the first monument to soldiers killed during the Civil War.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am agog.

Yips! to the Clown Ministry.

Posted by Robert at 01:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous British Empire Posting

Basil Seal appears to be in a mood of grumpy romanticism today, posting on the last stands at Maiwand and Gandamak and tossing in the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava for good measure.

His story of the dog Bobbie, the only survivor of the 66th Foot at Maiwand, reminds me a bit of the story of Comanche the horse, the sole survivor of the Seventh Cavalry at Little Big Horn.

Posted by Robert at 01:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quick Pic

Civil War posting not floating your boat this morning? How about scary clowns?


(An oldy but goody.)

Posted by Robert at 10:09 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

More Gratuitous Civil War Posting

I give you "Sheridan's Ride" by Thomas Buchanan Read (1822-1872). It's not much as far as poetry goes, but I like the nifty device at the end of each stanza:

Up from the South, at break of day, Bringing to Winchester fresh dismay,
The affrighted air with a shudder bore,
Like a herald in haste to the chieftain's door,
The terrible grumble, and rumble, and roar,
Telling the battle was on once more,
-----And Sheridan twenty miles away.

And wider still those billows of war
Thundered along the horizon's bar;
And louder yet into Winchester rolled
The roar of that red sea uncontrolled,
Making the blood of the listener cold,
As he thought of the stake in that fiery fray,
-----With Sheridan twenty miles away.

But there is a road from Winchester town,
A good, broad highway leading down:
And there, through the flush of the morning light,
A steed as black as the steeds of night
Was seen to pass, as with eagle flight;
As if he knew the terrible need,
He stretched away with his utmost speed.
Hills rose and fell, but his heart was gay,
-----With Sheridan fifteen miles away.

Still sprang from those swift hoofs, thundering south,
The dust like smoke from the cannon's mouth,
Or the trail of a comet, sweeping faster and faster,
Foreboding to traitors the doom of disaster.
The heart of the steed and the heart of the master
Were beating like prisoners assaulting their walls,
Impatient to be where the battle-field calls;
Every nerve of the charger was strained to full play,
-----With Sheridan only ten miles away.

Under his spurning feet, the road
Like an arrowy Alpine river flowed,
And the landscape sped away behind
Like an ocean flying before the wind;
And the steed, like a barque fed with furnace ire,
Swept on, with his wild eye full of fire;
But, lo! he is nearing his heart's desire;
He is snuffing the smoke of the roaring fray,
-----With Sheridan only five miles away.

The first that the general saw were the groups
Of stragglers, and then the retreating troops;
What was to be done? what to do?--a glance told him both.
Then striking his spurs with a terrible oath,
He dashed down the line, 'mid a storm of huzzas,
And the wave of retreat checked its course there, because
The sight of the master compelled it to pause.
With foam and with dust the black charger was gray;
By the flash of his eye, and his red nostril's play,
He seemed to the whole great army to say:
"I have brought you Sheridan all the way
-----From Winchester down to save the day."

Hurrah! hurrah for Sheridan!
Hurrah! hurrah for horse and man!
And when their statues are placed on high
Under the dome of the Union sky,
The American soldier's Temple of Fame,
There, with the glorious general's name,
Be it said, in letters both bold and bright:
"Here is the steed that saved the day
By carrying Sheridan into the fight,
-----From Winchester--twenty miles away!"

Posted by Robert at 09:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Want to Condense Your Lenten Penance and Your Easter Celebration Into One Package?

Try getting tagged to usher the 9:00 AM service on Easter Sunday.

I'm dreading it.

Posted by Robert at 09:02 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Civil War Book Review

Mobile Bay.jpg

The Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864: U.S.S. Hartford brushes past the Confederate ram Tennessee. Admiral Farragut is in the rigging of the Hartford at upper right.

A colleague recently recommended to me this book:

West Wind.jpg

">West Wind, Flood Tide: The Battle of Mobile Bay by Jack Friend.

This was the Civil War naval battle during which popular history states that Union Admiral David A. Farragut exclaimed, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" ("Torpedoes" actually meant "mines", with which the channel into Mobile Bay was liberally strewn.) Although these were not Farragut's actual words (his order was something closer to, "Go on, go on!"), the sentiment is more or less accurate. The Union monitor Tecumseh had just struck a mine and gone down with heavy losses. In order to keep his attack from stalling in the narrows opposite Fort Morgan, Farragut led a portion of his squadron straight through the mine field to continue the attack.

Let me start out by saying that this is the most comprehensive description of the battle of Mobile Bay that I have ever read. The maps and diagrams are particularly illuminating and the detail of the action is exquisite. On these grounds, I would recommend this book. Nonetheless, I have two beefs with it, one stylistic and one substantive.

The stylistic beef is that Friend has a very bad habit of repeating himself. For example, I lost count of the number of times he described the Union Fleet's preparations for battle - specifically, the striking down of superfluous yards and masts and the rigging of splinter netting and other defensive devices. Also, Friend quotes the same passage from the same letter more than once. A good editor should have caught these faults and demanded some paring.

More importantly, however, I question some of the strategic premises Fried sets out, primarily because his own narrative is not able to keep up with them. Friend contends that in the summer of 1864, with the war bogging down, Lincoln's presidency was in crisis. Grant and Sherman faced stalemate in their respective campaigns against Richmond and Atlanta and other Confederate forces - notably those in the Shenendoah Valley under Jubal Early (who famously raided the outskirts of Washington) and those to the west of the Mississippi under Kirby Smith - were free to wreak havoc. All the Confederates had to do was to hold out in the sieges of Richmond and Atlanta for a few months more, a task Lee and John Bell Hood, respectively, were undertaking masterfully, and the Union, sick and tired of the war, would have thrown Lincoln out, leaving President McClellan to sue for a negotiated peace with the Confederacy. According to Friend, the Union absolutely had to capture Mobile from the sea, thereby cutting off a critical Confederate supply line to Atlanta and also giving Sherman an out in the event that the Rebels, under Kirby Smith, were able to operate effectively in Sherman's rear.

Well. I'm sorry, but I have to file rather a lot of this under the heading Confederate Pipe Dreams. It's true that the South (and Northern Copperheads) certainly hoped this scenario would play out (and Friend is a Southerner). And it's also true that Lincoln fretted about it as late as August, 1864. But in reality, there was never much more than a very slim chance that all of these pieces could have fallen into place.

First, Friend spends a good bit of time describing the preparations for a trans-Mississippi attack in Sherman's rear by Kirby Smith. However, that attack never happened because of Union control of the Mississippi. Friend simply stops talking about it half way through the story.

Second, although Jubal Early managed to humiliate the North by burning Chambersburg and striking the outer defenses of Washington (and thereby making Lincoln the only sitting U.S. president ever to come under enemy fire), this was largely a psychological victory: nobody seriously thought Early, with his small army, could actually attack the massive fortifications of Dee Cee in earnest. Furthermore, it was not long after this raid that Phil Sheridan began his famous ride down the Shenendoah Valley, eventually crushing all remaining Confederate resistance there.

Third, Friend talks of the heroic defense of Atlanta by John Bell Hood, comparing it to Lee's masterful defense of Richmond and Petersburg. Every other history I've ever read of the war either criticizes Hood's handling of his forces or else contends that Sherman's move on Atlanta was essentially unstoppable.

Fourth, Friend seems to suggest that the seige of Richmond was an elegant trap set by Lee to immobilize the Union juggernaut. But the fact of the matter is that he was driven to it by Grant's relentless pursuit of him across Virginia in the spring and summer of 1864. Furthermore, while Friend contends that the seige was a stalemate, the truth is that Grant made slow but steady progress, gradually strangling Lee and driving him further and further into his internal lines.

Fifth, Friend's premise is undercut by the fact that although Farragut won the battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864, the Union army did not actually get around to capturing Mobile itself until April 12, 1865, three days after Lee had surrendered at Appomatox.

Finally, although Lincoln fretted about losing the 1864 election as late as early August, the fact of the matter was that the collective victories of Grant, Sherman and Sheridan radically altered the mood of the North. Furthermore, once Lincoln started actively campaigning against McClellan and his Copperhead allies, public sentiment quickly turned against the party of appeasement. (Note to Donks: pay attention to this.) When the election was finally held, it wasn't even close. Farragut's victory at Mobile Bay certainly was a psychological boost to Lincoln and to the Union in general, but I simply can't agree with Friend's apparent contention that, but for this victory, Lincoln would have lost, the North would have conceded defeat and the South would have won a negotiated settlement.

No, to me, the Battle of Mobile Bay was important for three basic reasons. First, as I have said, it was a great victory for the Union Navy, wiping out virtually the entire remaining Confederate battle fleet. Second, it closed an important blockade-running port, thereby intensifying an already critical Southern supply problem. And third, it marked the dawn of a new kind of naval warfare in that it was the first major naval battle in which iron-clads played a critical tactical part: The Confederate Fleet consisted of four ironclads. Although Farragut had a fleet of fifteen sloops and gunboats, he would not attack until he had collected four Union monitors to match against them. In this, the battle rather reminds me of the first appearance of tanks on the Western Front in World War I: clunky, crude, but terrifying in that they upset all the old military calculus.

While Friend certainly makes this point himself, I think he emphasises the strengths of these new iron monsters - the Tennessee in particular - but does not pay enough attention to their weaknesses. Most notably, although he often cites the fact that the Confederate ram Tennessee was the single most powerful vessel afloat, he skirts over the fact that she was also extremely slow and sluggish, and had inherent design problems: during the battle she passed down the entire Union line of ships but was unable to manuever into a position to effectively ram any of them. In the end, with half her gunports jammed shut and her steam drastically reduced by incessent shelling and ramming, she was simply mobbed by the Union fleet and forced to strike. Friend does everything he can to play up the threat the Tennessee posed to the Union ships and the gallantry of her crew (which was genuine), but I feel that from the beginning they were mathematically doomed. Again, I suspect this presentation is a function of what I believe to be Friend's romantic Southern bias.

And really, this bias permiates the book, not just at the strategic level I've already talked about, but at the tactical level as well. There is no denying the valor of Confederate Admiral Buchanan and General Maury who, faced with extremely limited resources, did the best they could. But the fact of the matter is that Farragut coolly and methodically built up an extremely powerful fleet and simply bulled his way into the Bay. Once he had cleared the narrows, the surrender of the Confederate forts that guarded them - Morgan, Gaines and Powell - was virtually assured. In fact, it was never really that close.

Posted by Robert at 08:16 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Nice pic of Cindy

Sheehan (not Cindy Crawford) accompanying a story that she is heading back to Texas to hang out on the dusty road leading to the Prairie Chapel Ranch. I predict she will be joined by Joe Wilson and both will be wearing matching "Che" t-shirts. We should start a Carnival of Cindy--the possiblities are endless--fashion tips for Cindy, celebs who will be arrested with her, the date on which mainstream Dem pols will turn on her, etc.

Posted by LMC at 06:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 12, 2006

Professor Chaos branches out

By day, Leopold Stoch is a mild-mannered college professor----but by night, he dons the pull away parachute pants of the naughty bridal shower male stripper.

Go on over and give him some Yips!

Posted by Steve at 03:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Oh, For Heaven's Sake

I saw this article about Tiger Woods getting criticized for using "the s-word" about his play at the Masters.

Naturally, I thought at first that this meant "shite" and was going to go on and mention an extremely funny Plum Wodehouse short story called "Chester Forgets Himself", in which the hero, a habitually foul-mouthed golfer, restrains himself in order to try and win the love of what he believes to be a very high-minded, intellectual girl. Well, she goes out for a round of golf with him and he nearly has apoplexy reining himself in. Finally, on the last hole, thanks to the machinations of a hilarious foursome known as the Wrecking Crew, he blows up and spews an entire back nine's worth of frustration in front of her. Of course, it turns out that the girl secretly despises primness and general egg-headedness and the only thing holding her back from Chester all this time has been his evident lack of spirit. Naturally, this is all cleared up and the couple stroll off into the sunset together. You'll find the story in a delightful volume of Plum's golf stories called The Heart of a Goof.

But then I read that the word Woods was criticized for using actually was "spaz", as in he played like one.

Never mind.

Posted by Robert at 03:19 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Holy Moonbats, Batman!

Good God, what a strange day! First I said something sympathetic to Britney Spears, now I find myself agreeing with Kos! From a piece in Taranto's Best of the Web today about how the Donks look like dropping a chance to pull off a House gain in California, Kos is quoted as saying:

The Democratic leadership thinks that the GOP implosion will ipso facto translate to Democratic victories in November. But the electorate is universally disenchanted with politics.

The GOP has proven, time and time again, that it is incapable of governing. But Democrats have not shown they are any different. They do not paint any bright lines between them and us. And they do nothing to motivate the Democratic base to turn out and vote.

My sense of pessimism for November's elections only gets deeper the more elections show lower and lower turnout.

Taranto then fleshes it out a bit:

This seems right to us. Democrats keep hoping they'll win by default, and maybe they eventually will. But Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich did not win by default, though the public was quite dissatisfied with Democrats in 1980 and 1994 and with Republicans in 1992. They won by offering an appealing alternative. A Democratic candidate may emerge who can do that for them in 2008, but it's hard to see Harry Pelosi and Nancy Reid achieving it this year.

Yup. And, in fact, this is exactly why I have refused to jump on the GOP Panic Bus and don't seriously believe the Donks are going to take control of either chamber in Congress this fall.

UPDATE: Of course, what Kos thinks the Donks should do to improve their appeal and what I think they should do are probably poles apart, so don't worry: the foundations of the Universe remain unshaken.

YIPS from Steve-O: Which leads us to the lyrics for "GOP Panic Bus" (with severe apologies to The Who)

Every day I watch Britt Hume (Too much, Panic Bus)
To get on the Fox that takes me to you (Too much, Panic Bus)
I'm so nervous, I just sit and smile (Too much, Panic Bus)
Losing the house is only another mile (Too much, Panic Bus)

Thank you, Trent, for getting me here (Too much,Panic Bus)
You'll be on the lecture circuit, have no fear (Too much, Panic Bus)
I don't want to cause no fuss (Too much, Panic Bus)
But can I earmark your Panic Bus? (Too much, Panic Bus)


I don't care how much I pay (Too much, Panic Bus)
I wanna drive my bus to visit Duke each day (Too much, Panic Bus)

I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it ... (You can have it!)

Medicare and pork every day
Just to indebt my baby away
Amnesty and taxcuts each day
as I drive my base further away

Panic Bus, Panic Bus, Panic Bus ...

I said, now I've got my Panic Bus (Too much, Panic Bus)
I said, now I've got my Panic Bus (Too much, Panic Bus)
I drive my base further away (Too much, Panic Bus)
Each time I do a it different way (Too much, Panic Bus)

I want it, i want it, I want it, I want it ...

Every day you'll see the dust (Too much, Panic Bus)
As I drive Speaker Pelosi in my Panic Bus (Too much, Panic Bus)

Posted by Robert at 02:47 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

What the....?

Someone dialed us up looking for

llama gun blogs
Posted by Steve at 12:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Censored by The Man

At least there's always the internet. Oh, wait....

Posted by Steve at 11:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

More poetry from Nugat Miser

This neo-Chekovian epic came from my new friend "Nugat Miser" interspersed amidst an offer to enhance both my prowess and my stock returns:

three pm come. Berlioz. completely deserted cemetery in the Dorogomilovo area. pouring out devil knows what about some severed head! You want to arrest age-old tradition of folk humour with its carnivalized world-view, its ever seen in his life, became still more beautiful. `I was bored.

yellow flowers! Not a nice colour. She turned down a lane from Tverskaya and
surrender your post between the shining mirrored doors.'
the restaurant. If any observer had been able to follow the further actions
the rain, and involuntarily thought: "What a type, though, this Kurolesov!'
Margarita did not understand at first, and when she did, she exclaimed
'No, I'm being called, it's time for me to go,' explained the master,
to speak to me, but it is even hard for you to look at me. And I am now your
pecked at the glass covering the photograph portraying the entire university
'No, an older one. Then a third, and a fourth ... I keep giving them
'Really, there were times when I'd begin to be jealous of it on account
dialogue between Woland and the atheist Berlioz. By the deepest irony of
Ivan: 'So, how did you wind up here?'
roubles due him for seven performances. What's more, Woland's signature was
The black cat only rolled its martyred eyes. Being deprived by nature
looked at the Muscovites. Now, don't go changing countenance, but tell me

Somewhere there is a frustrated English major working away deep in the bowels of the spam department of a telemarketing firm. I mean, if the telemarketers are working in the boiler room, where do they stick the spammers?

I can tell you where I'd like to stick the spammers, but that's not the point.

Posted by Steve at 11:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sinjin In The Name

Our pal Jordana appears to be facing some domestic pressure:

Knowing that this will be his last chance, my husband is really hoping to foist the middle name of St. John (Sinjin) on this child should it be a boy. The question is -- will I be insane enough to agree?

C'mon, Jordana! Swallow the Kool-Aid! I've always liked this name and the Brit pronunciation just makes it that much better.

And because much of my brain capacity has been squandered on remembering obscure Monty Python sketches, allow me to insert here the first one that came to mind when I read Jordana's post:

Voice Over: Number sixteen. The hand.

Pull back to reveal that the hand appears to belong to a standard interviewer in two shot. Chair set up with standard interviewee. The interviewer suddenly pulls the hand off, revealing that he has a hook. He throws the hand away and starts the interview.

Interviewer [Michael Palin]: Good evening. I have with me in the studio tonight Mr Norman St. John Polevaulter, who for the last few years has been contradicting people...Mr Polevaulter, why do you contradict people?

Polevaulter [Terry Jones]: I don't!

Interviewer: But..you told me that you did.

Polevaulter: I most certainly did not!

Interviewer: Oh. I see.... I'll start again.

Polevaulter: No you won't!

Interviewer: Ssh! Mr Polevaulter... I understand you don't contradict people.

Polevaulter: Yes I do!

Interviewer: And when didn't you start contradicting people?

Polevaulter: I did! In 1952.

Interviewer: 1952?

Polevaulter: 1947.

Interviewer: Twenty-three years ago....

Polevaulter: No!

Cut to announcer at desk in farmyard. He is fondly holding a small pig.

Announcer [John Cleese]: And so on and so on and so on.

Sooper sekret message to Mr. Jordana: Keep it up!

Posted by Robert at 11:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Didn't Samuel L. Jackson Get Eaten In This Movie?

Caltech scientists seek to control sharks' brains.

Will scientists never learn?

Yips! to Ed at MonkeyWatch.

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

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare


Or actually, Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, born this day in 1550. A poet and dramatist in his own right, he is also the subject of a small but noisy movement that insists he also wrote Shakespeare's works. The Shakespeare-Oxford Society offers a basic summation of this movement's arguements.

Frankly, I don't think much of this business, but then again, I dislike conspiracy theories as a rule and prefer to take an Occam's Razor approach to history (as to other things). It is seductively easy to take any handful of facts about a given topic and, with a little imagination and embellishment, weave a tangled web around them. But every time I've tried to pull apart one of the Oxford-as-Shakespeare threads, it's come to nothing. IMHO, there simply isn't enough evidence to support the notion that the Bard wasn't the Bard.

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

Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Your Table For Four Is Ready.

Okay, this is going to sound a bit very strange, but I rather feel sorry for Britney Spears having the Child Protective Services Nazis swoop down on her after her baby fell out of his high chair. So far as I can tell, the kid just slipped. Accidents happen.

I would think anybody who has gotten the fish eye from a pediatric nurse when trying to explain a child's bump, bruise or scrape would feel the same way, knowing that the nurse need only figuratively snap his or her fingers to bring down the Nanny State shock troops. It isn't so much the idea that the bureaucrats will haul off your child, but that they can that makes the whole business so creepifying. [And before any nursing professionals give me hell about this, I am fully aware that in many cases they have no choice in the matter and that failure to act or report opens them up to all kinds of trouble themselves.]

When we took the six year old to the hospital after my parents' dog bit her on the lip last fall, I was half afraid that I was going to get grilled over how I could possibly have let something like this happen to my little girl! Fortunately, they didn't cross examine me. I was also a bit concerned about the dog. The Missus tells me that in some states, an incident like that would have required that he be impounded, if not outright destroyed.

UPDATE: On the other hand, I won't take this bet.

Posted by Robert at 08:53 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observations

Oh, Uncle Robbo's got a good one today. As surely as the swallows return to Capistrano, as surely as the Nats return to the bottom of the NL East, so do the bus-loads of tourons return to E Street on the north side of the Hoover FBI building, waiting around in the early morning to be cycled in batches into the Hard Rock Cafe around the corner for breakfast. There were literally hundreds of them this morning, stretching the entire block between 9th and 10th Streets.

Most of them are teenagers. I disliked teenagers even when I was one and I find that my emnity toward them only deepens as time passes. And I especially hate them when they're milling about in great, amorphous herds, blocking the sidewalks and not giving a damn about it.

Fighting my way through the herd this morning, I mulled what John Wayne and a handful of those kids from The Cowboys could have done with them. Then I thought about what Jack Bauer could have done. On the whole, I decided they were rather more deserving of the Bauer Treatment: GET OUT OF THE WAY! GET OUT OF THE WAY AND GET YOUR FACES ON THE GROUND OR I'LL KILL YOU!

Stupid tourons.

Posted by Robert at 08:15 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

April 11, 2006

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

A new-to-me blog: Classical Music You Should Know About. It appears to be a genuinely good-hearted effort on the part of Tobin Truog to demystify classical music for novices, the better to encourage them to explore it more.

I appreciate Mr. Truog's description of his own introduction to such music:

I started discovering classical music for myself simply because I kept running across this stuff that blew me away...Schubert's Trout Quintet...Beethoven's 9th Symphony...Dvorak's New World Symphony...there are so many more pieces that you should listen to.

These are the starting points...the building blocks. Those pieces are where I started, and now I am discovering music that nobody plays on the radio and nobody writes about.

I like this because it sounds very much like my own first steps when I was a boy. My parents started me off with a handful of records that I played over and over again. (If memory serves, these included the Bach Double Violin Concerto in D minor, the Vivaldi Double Trumpet Concerto in C, a Mozart Divertimento, the number of which now escapes me, Haydn's Symphony No. 96 (the "Surprise") and Schumann's 4th Symphony in D minor.) As I became familiar with these pieces, I began to stretch out, exploring more music by these composers and learning about others as well.

However, I would respectfully disagree with the next part of Mr. Truog's approach:

I am not interested in the performances so much...although you will become attuned to differences of interpretation as you go along. I am interested in the story of the composer and the piece of music and the history and the influences...you see where I am going?

Well, no, but it seems to me your cart is going to get there before your horse. To me, this is the wrong way to go about learning music and leads to all sorts of potential problems. The music is, after all, the thing. (How on earth could performances not matter?) All these other considerations are at best distractions and at worst sources of exactly the kind of pretense that poisons so much of the classical music culture and scares off potential new listeners.

Beginning listeners in particular should simply be listening to the music and not worrying at all about who wrote it or why or where. After all, we listen to, say, Beethoven's Emperor Concerto not because Beethoven wrote it, but because it's worth listening to. And what makes a given piece of music worth listening to? Well, as Peter Schickele quotes Duke Ellington, "If it sounds good, it is good." This seems simple, almost flippant, but it's the truth. By focusing on the music itself, instead of its composer or its context, one will be in far better shape to begin developing genuine taste.

(I know my anti-Romanticist bias is showing through here, but that's my way of thinking.)

Yips! to Jessica Duchen.

Posted by Robert at 04:08 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Chloe---I need you to get me the schematics on Google---I think they're trying to build a bomb, and if it goes off, who knows what will be let loose

I can officially retire as a blogger, as we are #2 on Google Worldwide for

Jack Bauer's PDA

When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.

Excuse me while I go take a cold shower.

jack bauer pda.jpeg
And when I get done mailing out this job application, you can bet I'm pshopping this.

Yips! from Robbo: The Colossus takes it up a notch. We wants one of those.

YIPS from Steve-O: Further reason not to annoy The Colossus!

Posted by Steve at 03:27 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Jack Bauer Hollywood Revisionism Posting

I can't help wondering how Donald Sutherland, he of the aging 60's hippy generation, feels about the fact that his son has rocketed to fame playing the single most ass-kickingest kicker of asses on the U.S. Government payroll.

I also can't help wondering what would happen if Kiefer's Jack Bauer were to be inserted in some of Donald's movies.

For instance, do you think Hawkeye Pierce would have been able to bamboozle the Commander of the 4077th, Col. Jack Bauer? He'd be cleaning latrines with his tongue.

Do you think that Jack Bauer would have allowed Karen Allen's Katy to wander into the arms of Prof. Dave Jennings? He'd have pulled Jennings' liver out with his own roach-clip. And fed it to Neidermeyer.

Jack Bauer instead of Jim Garrison? The investigation would have lasted 7 minutes, max.

I'm sure there are plenty other examples. This also strikes me as excellent photo-shop bait. Go to it and good luck.

YIPS from Steve-O: Well there you go, playing pop kultur T-ball with me again....

the eagle has landed.jpeg

The obvious Jack Bauer/Donald Sutherland conundrum would the The Eagle has Landed, where Donald plays Liam Devlin, erstwhile Irish Republican in the service of the Nazis, as they try to kidnap Winston Churchill. Talk about your need for a cold shower: Jack Bauer versus pre-limp and wiggly Michael Caine AND Robert Duvall. Plus, you got the bonus fact that both Audrey and Chloe would look positively fetching in English country garb, circa 1943. It's Bletchley Park geek nirvana, I tell you!

Posted by Robert at 01:51 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Dental Hygene Division

Well, Lemming of the BDA isn't around, so maybe one of you can offer some insight:

I finally bought an electric toothbrush about six weeks ago. I love the thing, but I seem to be going through batteries at a tremendous clip. Like every 10 days or so. As far as I can tell, water keeps leaking into the casing and corroding them.

This can't be right, can it?

Posted by Robert at 12:27 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Classical Posting (TM)

Today is the birthday of the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, born this day in 145 A.D.

Severus came to the throne in the aftermath of the Commodus debacle and gets credit for restoring order after the civil war resulting from Commodus's murder.

I really don't have that much to say other than that his triumphal arch is one of the best-preserved landmarks left in the Roman Forum and this seems like as good an excuse as any to post a photo of it:

Arch Septimius Severus.jpg

(Image is by courtesy of Livius, who has lots more including some very nifty detail. Go on over and browse around.)

Posted by Robert at 12:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Llama, Llama, Bear!

Scott Peterson, who lives in the same neighborhood as Steve-O, notes the rumored sighting of a bear there recently and suggests that people may just be spotting Steve-O and losing their heads.

Actually, this is perfectly understandable if you look at this photo we snapped of Steve-O the last time the Llama families got together to revel:


To add to the madcap google chumming possibilities of tying yours truly together with Randy Andy Sullivan and "bears" I'd like to note quite sadly a #1 on MSN search I'm not too proud of:

Michael Jackson llama

But at least we're #7 on Google worldwide for all things

Hong Kong Fooey

So I've got that going for me.


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

Happy Bloggoversary!

To GroovyVic over at Fiddle Dee Dee, which turns a year old today.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

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

Hats Off!

Note to self: Stay away from Park Slope, Brooklyn. You wouldn't like the people there. Tarsome. Simply tarsome.

Yips! to JPod over in the Corner.

Posted by Robert at 07:44 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 10, 2006

Chloe! If I don't get those downloads it's going to be cert. denied for the country!

What if Jack Bauer were the Chief Justice in Buck v. Bell?

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES: But Jack, even you must understand that three generations of imbeciles was quite enough?

JACK BAUER [pointing large caliber hand gun at Holmes' leonine head]: What you didn't count on, in the final analysis, Ollie, was she was not some random Subic whore for your Brahmin ubermensch lust to discard like a rag doll......Carrie Buck..........was....my......mother!

Screen cuts into four, showing Jack slowly pulling the trigger; Felix Frankfurter obscured in the shadows of his Harvard office, slowly stroking the neck of a large persian cat; Warren Harding nailing Nan Britton on the desk in the Oval Office; young Jack Kennedy taking a long slow drag from a Hong Kong opium pipe; and a rather down at the heels Adolf Hitler carefully shaving off his Kaiser Bill mustache to a small, thin slip on his top lip.

Posted by Steve at 10:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Chloe, I need those U.S. Reports now!

What if Jack Bauer were Chief Justice during the Charles River Bridge v. Warren case?

The following takes place between 18:31 and 18:37

JACK BAUER: [on cell to Bill Buchanan] I'm telling you Bill---I've seen the schematics Cookie lifted off the Austrian's blackberry---the bridge needs to come down---we have to blow it, or else the whole economy is going to collapse.

BILL BUCHANAN: Jack, I've been personally tasked by the President on this one--Alpha One Double Secret. That bridge, Jack, the the legislature gave exclusive control over the waters of the river--if you do this, you will have invaded corporate privilege by interfering with the company's profit-making ability. Do you realize what you are doing?

JACK BAUER: We're running out of time! Lives are at stake, not to mention balancing the rights of private property against the need for economic development. Chloe, I need you to override original intent parameters on this...

CHLOE O'BRIEN: You got it Jack.

BILL BUCHANAN: God help us if you're wrong, Jack. God help us all.

Posted by Steve at 10:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chloe, I need you to find Audrey, and download the entire U.S. Reports series to my PDA, now! Protocols be damned!

What if Jack Bauer were Chief Justice during Marbury v. Madison?

The following takes place between 18:02 and 18:03

JACK BAUER: Secretary Madison, millions of people are going to die unless you act. I cannot let you go through with this---where is the commission?

[holds large flintlock handgun to Dolley's head, chambers a round]

I'm giving you one more chance here---the British will burn Washington TO. THE. GROUND. TONIGHT! unless you tell me where is Marbury's commission?

JAMES HEMMINGS: Jack, come on, man, waste the bitch!

[screen cuts into four, as clock counts down, showing a pensive President Thomas Jefferson, standing obscured in the shadows by the window at Monticello; a poised Dolley Madison, pleading with her eyes to weasely James as a single droplet of sweat rolls down her cheek to the low neckline of her empire-cut dress; a frazzled James Hemmings running through the brambles south of the Potomac, being chased by a pack of dogs with a sinister Aaron Burr at their head; and a stagecoach crashing through the streets of Georgetown, as a lusty and busty Audrey Raines races to deliver the commission to her father William Marbury at the Piggly-Wiggly on the corner of Wisconisn and 32nd in Georgetown]

UPDATE: Here's your weekly review from the dudes at Right Wing Nut House. And, of course, Dave Barry, as only Dave Barry can do.

Is it just me or has Dave Barry gotten funny again now that he's blogging?

Posted by Steve at 10:27 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Random Political Commuter Griping

As regular readers know, I am fairly ambivalent about the whole illegal immigration issue, leaning somewhat toward sympathy for the immigrants. After all, it's not as if people were advocating the legalization of murder or rape. Instead, a whole bunch of people coming out of craphole Central and South American countries want to come to the United States for a better life. Hell, if I lived in Mexico, I'd want to do the same thing.

On the other hand, I fully understand all the concerns about security, control of the flow, insisting that people respect and obey the law, etc. And I think it's perfectly fair to demand of people that if they want to come to this country they should be expected to adopt and play by its cultural rules. (For example, I've always had sympathy for the English language Constitutional Amendment movement.)

So as you can see, I'm somewhere in the middle on all of this. The issue is trying to do the right thing for the greatest number of people. (BTW, at this point, I'm discounting the more hysterical fears about the impending Reconquista of the southwestern states.)

But by God, if you want to lose my support, go ahead and hold a massive rally while I'm trying to make my way home. I have never seen the streets of downtown Dee Cee this crowded before. By the time I got to Metro Center, the police weren't letting anybody into the station (at least at the 12th and F Street entrance) so I had to hike up to McPherson Square. And even there, I just managed to squeeze onto a train. I loathe crowds. And I especially loathe then in enclosed spaces. Grrrrrr.

So I guess if you want to bend my ear with an argument about how we should seal the borders, this might be a good time for it.

Posted by Robert at 07:18 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Because You Can't Spell "To Be Or Not To Be, That Is The Question" Without "NBA"

It's Aim High, Live Classic, a rather bizarre arrangement between Penguin Books and professional basketball to cross-market their products convince our Young People that reading really is cool because even their favorite sports heroes do it!

The men and women of the NBA and WNBA are compelling personalities whose lives exemplify the modern heroic struggle, themes found in Penguin Classics' great literary works. These handsome editions educate, provoke thought, engage, entertain, and enlighten readers today as they did when they were first written.

To celebrate the star power of the written word, some of the NBA and WNBA's biggest stars share their personal insights and inspirations drawn from their favorite Penguin Classics. Discussion guides to their favorites—as well as a number of the most popular Penguin Classics—are also provided to offer readers an engaging springboard from which anyone can embark on a journey through these great works. So get ready to jump in, Aim High, and Live Classic.

[Insert sound of grinding teeth here.]

Are we really so desparate to get kids to read that we're reduced to this?

Okay, okay, okay. I suppose there's an argument to be made that such a stunt, if it actually gets somebody to pick up a book, is entitled to at least some kudos. On the other hand, flipping through the stars' "testimonials" and the recommended reading list, the whole thing smacks of insincerity to me, as if Penguin doesn't really give a damn which books you buy, so long as you buy books. As for the NBA, what the hell - it's free publicity and a no-brainer exercise in public spiritedness.

Ain't I getting cynical in my old age?

Yips! to Nick Desai at The New Criterion.

Posted by Robert at 03:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

Talk about your serendipitous timing. The Llama-ettes called a little while ago from their cousins' house and during the conversation, the eight year old lost a tooth that has been hanging loose and askew for a couple weeks now. Hilarity ensued.

On the other hand, I've been saving up a fistfull of Sacajawea golden dollar coins I got at an automated parking garage down south last month for just such an occassion. (They seem useless for any other purpose.) Obviously, the Tooth Fairy isn't going to drop one of them on the Llama-ette tonight, but perhaps she'll leave it in the gel's own bed for discovery upon her return.

UPDATE: As is usually the case, the Missus was way out in front of me on this one. This afternoon, while the Llama-ette's attention was engaged elsewhere, she slipped around to the local bank and obtained the necessary coin. (And before you chide us for over-doing it, I would mention that the Missus told me today about somebody she knows who gives their kid twenty - twenty - farookin' dollars per tooth.)

Posted by Robert at 02:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

In praise of the unknown poet "Nougat Miser"

The latest trend in email spam seems to be a series of randomly generated phrases strung together, followed by the spam ad for some completely irrelevant and unnecessary (if not downright obscene) product.

Much like our regular posting, you might say.

Anyhoo, one just came into the Tasty Bits Mail Sack (TM) that was downright poetic. So I'd like to take the liberty of publishing this "Ode to a Grecian Male Enhancement Product" to appeal to the English Majors out there:

what will they find at the bottom, and most important, will they be able to
it touched also turned into jelly.
Thirty-five people were killed, more than evening, offering a good percentage,
swore that he would get a special suit,
jelly even at the institute.

Deconstructionists, do your thing.

UPDATE: A real test for you English major types---how long does a book "stays read?"

Yips! from Robbo: Ah, yes. I remember dumbfounding a partner one time with the revelation that I actually read some books more than once. "You do?" he asked incredulously. Moron.

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


I haven't worried all that much recently about Al Qaida suitcase bombs. Perhaps it's time to start:

You scored as Bomb. Your death will be by bombing. You will probably be an innocent bystander, not doing anything wrong and not a person who was targeted at, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.



Natural Causes












Cut Throat












How Will You Die??
created with QuizFarm.com

Yips! to the peacefully reposed CalTechGirl.

YIPS from Carl Spackler: I'll have to add to this that after sucessfully caddying in Tibet once, and I got the Dalai LLama--a big hitter, the LLama. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-galunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, LLama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.", he said I would have absolute serenity on my moment of death. So I've got that going for me.

You scored as Stabbed. You will die from being stabbed. Yay.

Natural Causes
























Cut Throat


How Will You Die??
created with QuizFarm.com

Posted by Robert at 11:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm Steve the LLamabutcher, and I'm a forty year old juvenile delinquent

The campaign to turn cake eater chronicles into Anne Murray fan blog the internet's #1 fan site for canuck crooner Anne Murray has begun.

Anne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blogAnne Murray fan blog

Posted by Steve at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Congratulations, Phil Mickelson!

(Image swiped from CNN.)

Mom, I'm sure, is very happy today, having had the mashers for Phil for many years.

Posted by Robert at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm Robbo the Llama Butcher and I'm an Idiot

This being spring break at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, the Missus took the Llama-ettes off to visit their cousins for a couple days yesterday.

This morning, my radio went off at 5:45 as usual. I lay in bed for a few minutes thinking about how quiet the house was.

The next thing I knew, it was past 8:30.

Thankyuh. Thankyuh verrah much.

Posted by Robert at 09:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Someone call John Kerry!

The Navy is creating riverine warfare squadrons.

Posted by LMC at 06:46 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 09, 2006

What will the Israelis think of next?

Check this link out on INDC Journal.

Posted by LMC at 08:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Flash in the Pan Babes of the Seventies

All you ever wanted to know about Lindsay Wagner. A former client of mine was named Lindsay by her father, a fan of The Bionic Woman. (I wonder if he knows it is available on DVD.)

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

Lenten Penance, Catholic style

The local Catholic churches had a Lenten Reconciliation Service last week for the dozen or so parishes in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. After a Scripture reading and a short homily, the priests took up positions around the building and the faithful lined up. Human nature being what it is, the longest line by far was for the priest whose command of the English language was the shakiest.

Posted by LMC at 08:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I have become a blonde's BEEYOTCH

That's right, I can add the Real Estate Babe to the list of women in my life making demands. We engaged her to sell the Fort LMC post headquarters and she directed we complete a list of projects to improve curb flash and the like. It kept me up until midnight last night.

Posted by LMC at 07:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)

Appomattox Ct. H., Va.
Apl 9, 1865
General R.E. Lee
Commanding C.S.A.


In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th instant, I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on the following terms, to wit:

Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate, one copy to be given to an officer designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander to sign a like parole for the men of their commands.

The arms, artillery, and public property to be parked, and stacked, and turned over to the officers appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggege. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by the United States authorities so long as they observe their paroles, and the laws in force where they may reside.

Very respectfully,

U.S. Grant, Lt-G

Go here for more.

Yips! to GroovyVic.

Posted by Robert at 03:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

Woo hoo! The first asparagus bud has broken the surface in my little patch! A couple more weeks and we'll be culling our first dinner's worth!

Posted by Robert at 03:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Palm Sunday Posting

This morning, as has been the custom for some years at our church, we ran off the childrens' Passion Play outside on the front lawn during the family service. Both the eight year old and six year old Llama-ettes had speaking parts this year (bystanders to Jesus's arrival at Jerusalem) and delivered their lines in what Patrick O'Brian would call a fine double-reefed topsail roar.

The role of the donkey that Jesus rides traditionally is given to one of the youngest kids, who gets the plum perk of wearing a blue Eeyore suit to play the part. This year, it was a cute little girl with dark eyes and an enormous grin. However, this year Jesus was played by a toweringly tall kid of about fourteen or so. The prospect of him sitting on her, even only in simulation, was quite absurd, even for the extremely loose production values under which these plays operate.

All in all, I very much enjoyed it. I've frequently noticed that the combination of qualities the kids bring to these performances - some are awkward while some are completely un-self conscious, some ham it up while some dish out their lines in a flat monotone - adds a special level of grace to the story. We do adult readings of the relevant gospel at the other services and to me, it's never quite the same.

Speaking of services, I should note that we had some Beethoven for the Offeratory today (from his Missa Solemnis). This is the third or fourth time I've heard Beethoven's sacred music and each time I have the same reaction, namely, that I don't believe he really meant it. It may be my own prejudice leaking through, but I've never imagined that, given the enormous size of his ego, there was much room in Ludwig Van's soul for worship of a higher spirit.

UPDATE: David Kopel writes about the silliness of the media attention given to the "discovery" of a "Gospel of Judas" this week and provides an interesting and informative history of the gnosticism from which the text arose.

Unfortunately, this kind of "looking for the Truth behind the Church's milennia-long fabrications" has become quite fashionable recently. Who was it who said that the problem when people stop believing in God is not that they wind up believing in nothing but that they will believe in anything?

Posted by Robert at 03:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 08, 2006

Things That Make You Go Sigh

I noticed yesterday that some of the planks on the deck out back are beginning to rot out. The deck is many years old with a rather nasty spiral staircase down to the patio outside the basement and has been deteriorating steadily despite applications of sealant and the like since we moved in six years ago.

The Missus and I have had a standing joke about waiting long enough to have a blizzard or a hurricane knock the thing down and then letting the insurance company build us a new one, but alas, it looks as if I'm going to have to start investing in two by six lumber myself. (At least the pillars and beams on which it is built seem to be sturdy enough for now.) The question is whether I should just replace individual boards as they become unsound or whether I should bite the bullet and redo the whole thing at once. I mean, it's not like I've got anything else to do with myself, right?

UPDATE: Oh, and don't bother telling me about that new non-wood decking material. Our neighbors have a deck made of it and, frankly, I don't like it very much.

Posted by Robert at 12:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

So THIS Is What's Been Keeping Robbo Busy


Ahem. Bygones.

Yips! from Robbo: What can I say? She told me I could just close my eyes and imagine she was Melissa Thiereaux.

Posted by Agent Bedhead at 04:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 07, 2006

Why I Love The Blogsphere

Because of the virtually limitless opportunities for irrigating my sinus cavity with coffee.

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

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Musickal Movie Review


Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, performed by the Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra under the direction of Arnold Ostmann.

A mostly good, solid production of Mozart's great opera that could have been fantastic.

The Drottningholm Court Theatre (in Sweden) was around in Mozart's own time. It's much smaller than the modern opera house and brings to the performance an intimacy impossible to achieve in a place like the Met. Carrying on in the spirit of the theatre itself, this production goes all out for authenticity, using fabulous period backdrops and candle-like lighting. The orchestra (as well as the cast) dress in period clothing and when Ostmann comes out into the pit, one can almost sense what it must have been like to see Gangerl doing the same thing (except for the fact that Ostmann is about a foot and a half taller than Mozart and far more handsome).

The cast includes:

Per-Arne Wahlgren as Conte d'Almaviva
Georgine Resick as Susanna
Ann Christine Biel as Cherubino
Erik Saeden as Dottor Bartolo
Karl-Robert Lindgren as Antonio
Sylvia Lindenstrand as Contessa d'Almaviva
Mikael Samuelson as Figaro
Karin Mang-Habashi as Marcellina
Torbjeorn Liliequist as Don Basilio
Birgitta Larsson as Barbarina

Don't worry if you've never heard of any of them. Neither have I. But all of them sing beautifully and put in solid acting jobs as well. My only criticism is of Wahlgren's Almaviva. I don't want to get into the story too much here, but I must say that while he looks the part, being much taller and more imposing than everyone else, he doesn't bring the latent ferocity that the role requires. (If you want a really first rate Almaviva, try Rodney Gilfrey's performance in this production under the direction of John Eliot Full of Himself Gardiner.)

As for the music, well, this is why I don't call this performance fantastic. Part of it is, I think, a technical issue. This performance was recorded live in front of an audience in 1981 and obviously transferred to DVD from tape. Unfortunately, the tape seems to have been of a rather poor quality - several times it sounds slurred, like the soundtrack from those educational films they used to make us watch in school. Furthermore, there are some sound balance issues: The Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra is one of the most aggressively period instrument groups out there and was even more so back in those days, meaning that its sound was very dry, very fast and very thin. A recording would have to have been just about perfect in order to catch all the subtlety and nuance in their performance and, as I say, the audio here couldn't quite keep up with them. (On the other hand, I used to have a studio recording they made of Cosi fan Tutte a few years later that was absolutely perfect.)

But part of the problem here seemed to be with the DCTO itself. Ostmann gallops through the score. While this is not, in and of itself, a bad thing, I think it sometimes gets to be too much for the ensemble: In a couple of places, they come wildly out of whack with the singers. (Of course, this might have been the singers' fault as well.) Most notable to me was the patter song passage in the middle of Dr. Bartolo's vendetta aria:

Se tutto il codice
dovessi volgere,
se tutto l'indice
dovessi leggere,
con un equivoco,
con un sinonimo
qualche garbuglio
si troverà.

(If I have to search
the whole legal code
If I must read through
the whole index
With an ambiguity,
With a synonym,
There will be some quibble
there to be found.)

At one point, it seems as if Dr. Bartolo is about half a measure ahead of the orchestra. The discrepency is painful enough that I wondered if it was deliberate.

Apart from the sound quality, though, the production is well done, with good camera work and clever staging. I would also note the excellent subtitles, which are far more faithful to the libretto than most I have seen.

On the whole, I'm not sure that I would actually buy this recording, but I would certainly rent it again. And if you're interested in getting a sense of what a performance of Le Nozze in Mozart's own time might have looked like, I'd definitely recommend seeing this one.

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


Uh, Robbo? Your wish is my gift to you.

Yips! from Robbo: Oh, my. But what's with the James Carville look?

Posted by Steve at 08:22 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Just Call Me Robbo McGregor

The sound of drooling coming through your monitor is me. It's a warm, rainy morning here in Dee Cee, I have the day off and just as soon as I get cleaned up, I'm off to the nursery to gather in my spring flowers n' herbs. The four year old comes home on the bus at lunch time and I've promised her she can help me plant them.

These are some of my very favorite days of the year. I love the sense of feeling Nature really start to come fully awake. On days like this, one can almost hear the sound of growth and I'd swear that every time I glance up, everything looks just a little bit greener.

Anyhoo, I'm off to revel. My primary goal is to add to the planting around the front walk. Frankly, I haven't totally made up my mind what I'm going to do, but part of the fun is in drifting about the nursery and composing. I'll let you know what I come up with.

UPDATE: Well, I think I've hit on an inspiration. My main criteria for the front walk planting being a) something fairly low, b) something pretty hearty and c) something the goddam deer will leave alone, I've decided to go with a combination of coreopsis creme brule and white creeping phlox, both of them low, moundy, spreading plants with relatively small flowers.

(Oh, and sooper-sekret message to Beth: You might seriously consider a kousa dogwood. I planted one in full sun at our old house in Reston and it did wonderfully. Another possibility is some variety of cherry tree.)

Posted by Robert at 07:47 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 06, 2006

This is sure to get LB Buddy's goat

bush hitler bronson aroyo.jpeg
Former Red Sawx good luck mascot and sometimes Drop Kick Murphy guitarist Bronson Arroyo chats with the Chimperor in the Reds clubhouse

Last week when we wrote about Theo Epstein's trying to create Curse II: Son of the Bambino Curse by trading away 2004 lucky flake Bronson Arroyo to the Reds, little did we realize that this was all part of some masterplot to not only insure the Sawx do not win the Series again till 2100, but to subvert the AmeriKKKan way of life by helping the Halliburton Sith Lords of DOOOOOOM in their plot to corrupt the world under the Empire of Britney Spears.........

(hyperventilating noise as Steve-O bangs his head on the table trying to get it between his knees)

What was I talking about?

Posted by Steve at 10:14 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Go Mom!

Yeah, yeah, I know---you love them, you take care of them, but you got to let them go and make their own choices in life.

Parents, that is.

Anyhoo, my folks did the retiring thingee in Florida etc., and have picked up some interesting (?) hobbies along the way. Their conventional interests are in the whacking the little ball into the hole variety, which I'm all in favor of if there's a really tricky windmill you have to hit through to get to the clown's ear. Me, when I retire, it's going to be to a gated mini-golf community. But what can I say---I'm a proud member of Generation Jackass.

So, tomorrow Mom is playing for the Ladies Championship at their Club, so I whipped up this little pshop:


Thank goodness someone invented CafePress, as I think I'm set now for my mother's day present.

Posted by Steve at 09:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Trust the LLamas: we'll never tell

Unfortunately, only Robbo and the LMC are covered by that "attorney client privilege" thingee. Me? I'm just a wise-acre political scientist with a big flapper.

But I'll never give up your sooper sekret identity.

Posted by Steve at 09:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Can you imagine how pissy Chloe would be if she hadn't gotten some nooky last night?


These and other questions answered in the Carnival of Bauer VI.

Posted by Steve at 09:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lady Thatcher

Robbo's girlfriend Peggy Noonan has this piece in Opinion Journal on the week's events. The last section is on Caspar Weinberger's funeral at Arlington, attended by none other than the Iron Lady. The fact that the Baroness of Finchley travels at all given her frail health is a testament to her loyalty to those who stood with her. She will be remembered as one of the greats of the twentieth century.

Posted by LMC at 04:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Plum Wodehouse Posting (TM)

Last evening at church saw the wrapping up of our Lenten Suppers series. Each Wednesday this Lent, we've had a different speaker come in to give a little talk on the expression of religious ideas in various artistic media - painting, music, dance, etc.

Last night's topic was a discourse on what one might call liturgical theatre, the acting out of small skits based on various Biblical stories or lessons so that people could (as the speaker put it) "get into them more". Ironically, it was the adoption of such a practice in the church of my youth that caused Mom to storm out in wrath, self in tow. If my rector ever started slipping skits into the sermon, I'd no doubt do some wrathful stormin' myself.

Anyhoo, the speaker noted her particular fascination with the story of Jael, the wife of Heber, a heroine from the Book of Judges who - on God's instruction - whanged a tent pin through the skull of an enemy military commander as he lay sleeping. (Here's the text, if you're interested.)

I was able to smile knowingly when the speaker mentioned Jael not because I'm any kind of Old Testament scholar, but because Bertie Wooster once won a Scripture Knowledge prize in school and was able to flash out the allusion himself when the situation called for it. Plum never got tired of the joke that Bertie, of all people, would know something so obscure and used it over and over.

Here's a perfect example in an excerpt from James Woods' review of Robert McCrum's biography of Wodehouse over at The New Republic, discussing perhaps my very favorite Bertie and Jeeves novel:

The Code of the Woosters sends Bertie and Jeeves to Totleigh Towers, in Totleigh-in-the-Wold, the home of the fearful Sir Watkyn Bassett. Also in residence are Gussie Fink-Nottle (again), the Reverend H.P. (Stinker) Pinker, Sir Roderick Spode, and the heartless young woman Stiffy Byng, a "pancake" whose steely behavior elicits from Bertie the following biblical allusion and fabulous general denunciation of all females: "You pull off the rawest stuff without a pang. You pride yourselves on it. Look at Jael, the wife of Heber. ... Dug spikes into the guest's coconut while he was asleep, and then went swanking around the place like a Girl Guide. No wonder they say, 'Oh woman, woman!'"

Heh. Of course, this is just one example - there must be dozens more in Plum's books. Needless to say, I got mulling on Wodehouse after the speaker brought up the story of Jael, so missed most of the rest of what she was saying. On the whole, though, I think I prefer my Jael in the words of young Bertram, reyther than acted out at the pulpit.

Posted by Robert at 10:51 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Big Llama Yips! go out to the Random Penseur on the birth of his latest Boy Child. Preiminary report is that the BC is "wicked cute".

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 10:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Here's an idea for the name: "The Four Score and Seven Beers Ago Casino and Knight Club"

I wish this was a joke, but alas I fear not.

Posted by Steve at 09:22 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Now that would explain the recent growth in DKos commentators

Insert Beavis and Butthead noises........She said "sac".

Tip of the something to Chai-Rista, who has been on a bit of a roll as of late (Best line in a movie review: "I laughed, I cried, I hit my head on the futon frame.")

Posted by Steve at 09:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Netflix Movie Review (TM)


Comedian (2002).

A documentary that tracks the adventures of Jerry Seinfeld as, post tee vee, he goes back to working small comedy clubs with new material. An interesting enough look behind the show biz scenes, although it wanders off into "Tears of the Clown" territory a leetle too often for my taste.

Concurrently with its tracking of Seinfeld, the movie also follows the footsteps of an up-and-coming young comic named Orny Adams who almost immediately made me think of Sergeant Hulka's "Lighten up, Francis." This guy had a spooky "laugh at me or I'll cut your nuts off" air about him that was really rather off-putting. With this guy, think "Rage of the Clown".

Probably the best moment of the movie was when Seinfeld had a Godfather-like chat with the capo di tutti capi of stand-up, Bill Cosby. Jerry was visibly humble, as well he should be. I've owned most of Cosby's albums at one time or another, seen him in concert and, as he was my college commencement speaker, even shaken his hand. Off the top of my head, I can't think of another performer who has put out such consistently funny material of such length (he can do two solid hours) and for such a long time as the Cos.

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

Singing, music, and evolution

Everybody's favorite commie is going to love this piece by old pal and fun neighbor Scott on the role of music and harmony in human evolution. He ends it with some questions which Robbo could answer for me, as I'm more on the cave man side of the scale vis a vis the difference between minor thirds, major fourths, pick and roll, and the hit and run.

Yips! from Robbo:

Particular notes elicit the same emotions from most people, regardless of culture, studies suggest. A major third (prominent in Beethoven's "Ode to Joy") sounds happy; a minor third (as in the gloomy first movements of Mahler's Fifth) provokes feelings of sadness and even doom. A major seventh expresses aspiration. The absence of a third seems unresolved, loose, as if hanging, adds jazz guitarist Michael Rood, 17 years old.

The Music of the Spheres! It's all there in Plato! What do they teach them in the schools these days?

Posted by Steve at 08:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

And Now For Something Completely Different

Scotsman on Horse.jpg

A Scotsman on a horse.

Aye, today is the Gathering of the Blogs - 2006, lovingly put together by our blogpal Ith of Absinthe and Cookies. In honor of me Scots roots, I'll be posting periodically on topics Caledonian, including:

***** Haggis - You're kidding, right?

***** Bobby Burns, the National Poet of Scotland. The only Poet of Scotland.

***** Single Malt Scotch - Island or Highland? (Additional research required.)

***** The History of the Pipes - Invented by the Irish, given by them to the Scots. (The Scots still haven't caught on to the joke.)

***** Why Braveheart totally slandered Edward Longshanks.

***** The Caber Toss - Yeah, well it's something to do, isn't it?

***** "We're put on this Earth ta sooofer, laddie." The joys of Scots Presbyterianism.

And many others.

Scots Wha Hae!

Posted by Robert at 08:31 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The morning read and scroll recommendation

Lots of good stuff just piling up over at Curmudgeonry.

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


Nats Logo.gif

Congrats to the Nats for their first victory of the year last night. Here's hoping it doesn't take a 10th inning run-fest every time.

In honor of troubling left fielder Alfonso Soriano's getting yanked from the game by Frank Robinson for not running out a pop fly, I give you a little more Nats Haiku:

Ball flies high but short.
Sori, First Base is
that way.
No go? Bench awaits.

Posted by Robert at 08:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 05, 2006

Read this

A Navy physician with the Marines in Fallujah.
H/T: INDC Bill

Posted by LMC at 07:33 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Google chumming as indicator of true inner self

Personally, I'm very, very afraid.

Posted by Steve at 07:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why I love the internet

Jack Bauer decides to help a Nigerian man recover money left in a South African bank after their family was forced to flee. Hilarity ensues.

Nobody scams Jack Bauer and lives....

UPDATE: The 24 kill counter, with 8 hours left to go:

jack bauer 24 10pm 11pm.jpeg

Posted by Steve at 04:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bubble Babies

An interesting little piece over at CNN this afternoon arguing that exposing the little 'uns to the hurly-burly of everyday germs and dirt toughens them up. What amused me about it, though, was this description of the behavior of a self-described "clean freak":

Kara Sherry of Columbus, Ohio, says her kids are also rarely sick, and she's a self-described "clean freak."

She sanitizes the family's toothbrushes by putting them either in the dishwasher or boiling water.

When she goes grocery shopping, she wipes down the edges of the cart with antibacterial wipes before her children Sam, 3 ½, and Hayden, 5, climb in.

Her daughter Carly, almost 2, sits on a piece of fabric in the front of the grocery cart that covers the handle. Kara said she never touches the handle of a grocery cart, and would never let her children touch it either.

"Anything could be on that handle," she said. "Someone could have gone to the bathroom and not washed their hands, someone could have a cut on their hand. It could be staph, E. coli, it could be anything."

She said she does this out of "love and protection. I look at it as a way, as another way I protect my kids."

Wow. I look at it as a way to give oneself an ulcer and turn one's kids into hypocondriacal twits. Who the hell has the time or energy for this kind of carrying on?

I recall that when the eldest Llama-ette came along, we did, in fact, go through a great deal of daily hullabaloo about sanitizing bottles and binkies (what you call pacifiers), plunging them in boiling water the instant they touched an unauthorized surface. But as time passed, we gradually moved past this sort of thing. By the time the second Llama-ette came along, binkies were subjected to cursory wipes if they fell on the floor and the 5 second rule was in place for food that had done the same.

As for the youngest Llama-ette, well, once when she was crawling around the kitchen and lost her binky, the Missus (who was busy cooking dinner and talking on the phone) simply noodged it back over in front of her with her shoe.

I'm not suggesting we should let the kids play with discarded medical samples. But I agree with the basic thrust of the article that it is more beneficial to allow them to build up their internal defenses through ordinary exposure to the world than it is to try and sanitize everything for them.

Posted by Robert at 03:09 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Clash of the Alt Ed Titans

No. 13 Google return for Waldorf versus Montessori, aka Hippy German School vs. St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method.

I don't really have a point here - I just like using these expressions.

UPDATE: Credit where due - I picked up the term "Hippy German School" from our pal Jordana.

Posted by Robert at 02:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bow Down Before Me!

I'm Joshua Abraham Norton, the first and only Emperor of the United States of America!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

I knew there was some reason for my delusions:

Born in England sometime in the second decade of the nineteenth century, you carved a notable business career, in South Africa and later San Francisco, until an entry into the rice market wiped out your fortune in 1854. After this, you became quite different. The first sign of this came on September 17, 1859, when you expressed your dissatisfaction with the political situation in America by declaring yourself Norton I, Emperor of the USA. You remained as such, unchallenged, for twenty-one years.

Within a month you had decreed the dissolution of Congress. When this was largely ignored, you summoned all interested parties to discuss the matter in a music hall, and then summoned the army to quell the rebellious leaders in Washington. This did not work. Magnanimously, you decreed (eventually) that Congress could remain for the time being. However, you disbanded both major political parties in 1869, as well as instituting a fine of $25 for using the abominable nickname "Frisco" for your home city.

Your days consisted of parading around your domain - the San Francisco streets - in a uniform of royal blue with gold epaulettes. This was set off by a beaver hat and umbrella. You dispensed philosophy and inspected the state of sidewalks and the police with equal aplomb. You were a great ally of the maligned Chinese of the city, and once dispersed a riot by standing between the Chinese and their would-be assailants and reciting the Lord's Prayer quietly, head bowed.

Once arrested, you were swiftly pardoned by the Police Chief with all apologies, after which all policemen were ordered to salute you on the street. Your renown grew. Proprietors of respectable establishments fixed brass plaques to their walls proclaiming your patronage; musical and theatrical performances invariably reserved seats for you and your two dogs. (As an aside, you were a good friend of Mark Twain, who wrote an epitaph for one of your faithful hounds, Bummer.) The Census of 1870 listed your occupation as "Emperor".

The Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, upon noticing the slightly delapidated state of your attire, replaced it at their own expense. You responded graciously by granting a patent of nobility to each member. Your death, collapsing on the street on January 8, 1880, made front page news under the headline "Le Roi est Mort". Aside from what you had on your person, your possessions amounted to a single sovereign, a collection of walking sticks, an old sabre, your correspondence with Queen Victoria and 1,098,235 shares of stock in a worthless gold mine. Your funeral cortege was of 30,000 people and over two miles long.

The burial was marked by a total eclipse of the sun.

Sovereign Yips! to CalTechGirl, who led me to this via another test.

UPDATE: Several commenters have discovered their inner William John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott. Basil Seal has a post up on this most eccentric 5th Duke of Portland. [Ed. - you know, to distinguish him from all the other 5th Dukes of Portland.] Quiet, you.

YIPS from Steve: This should come as a surprise to no one:

I'm Pope Stephen! Hurrah.
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Made Bishop of Agagni by Pope Formosus, you became Pope yourself in 896 by putting your immediate predecessor, Boniface VI, to death. Your reign lasted all of fourteen months. However, you firmly assured your place in history by putting the rotting corpse of the aforementioned Formosus on trial in the splendidly named Synod Horrenda. Naturally, Formosus was clad in full papal vestments. Having dug up the stinking remains once already, you proceeded to have them found guilty, reburied, re-exhumed, relieved of the three fingers of the right hand used in consecrations and finally thrown into the Tiber. All ordinations performed by the luckless Formosus were annulled. After this delightful display of gratitude, you were promptly strangled, paving the way for an increasingly short-lived series of successors and the reinstatement, dereinstatement and rereinstatement of Formosus' Papal deeds.

Posted by Robert at 12:56 PM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

I love the smell of google bombs in the morning: it smells of victory


I'm going to sign off now and head to the hot tub.

Posted by Steve at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If this doesn't cause riots, something's wrong with the world

tom cruise as jesus.jpeg
All your thetans are belong to us Or, Joel, get off the babysitter

Direct your ire and mob violence at AgentBedHead, who has all the details involving the Mission Impossible 3 boycott and other Tom Cruise Naughty Bits.

AND IF THAT'S NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU the Mother Theresa silver screen biopic to star Paris Hilton keeps rolling on. The LLamas have obtained the latest script revisions, which clearly indicate a CIA/Halliburton plot that killed Mother Theresa after she uncovered their nefarious plans to blackmail the Vatican into launching a new Crusade against Islam.

Oliver Stone will clearly have to direct.

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

Johnny who?

Long suffering New Hampsterite and fellow dissident exile from Red Sawx Nation LB Buddy sends this encouraging news from the Sox outfield:

count chocula red sox.jpeg

It's the first week of April, Shawn. I still mourn the loss of the Wookie, not to mention the rest of the dirtbag "idiots" from the '04 team. I'm not sold on Count Chocula in center quite yet.

Posted by Steve at 11:38 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Vogon Poetry Appreciation Day

According to the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy:

Vogon poetry is of course the third worst in the Universe.

The second worst is that of the Azagoths of Kria. During a recitation by their Poet Master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem "Ode To A Small Lump of Green Putty I Found In My Armpit One Midsummer Morning" four of his audience died of internal haemorrhaging, and the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off. Grunthos is reported to have been "disappointed" by the poem's reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his twelve-book epic entitled My Favourite Bathtime Gurgles when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save life and civilization, leapt straight up through his neck and throttled his brain.

The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex, England in the destruction of the planet Earth.

Well, Ford Prefect had better get ready to make another Guide-updating visit to Planet Earth, because Annika has found a serious, serious contender to fill the shoes of the late, lamented Ms. Jennings.

Go on over and judge for yourself. But knock back a couple Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters first.

Posted by Robert at 11:16 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Pardon Our Spittle

Sorry if I seem a bit grouchy today. I think I'm picking up a spring cold. Feh.

UPDATE: Things that make one feel better:


Georg Philipp Telemann - String Concertos performed by Musica Antiqua Köln with Reinhard Goebel.

I've been listening to this CD a lot lately and it never fails to pick me up. There's nothing particularly deep or intellectually rigorous about any of this music, it's simply very pleasant to listen to. Telemann (1681-1767) is renowned for his cosmopolitanism and his wide knowledge of international style and it is on display here. (Indeed, he sometimes seems to forget what style he is employing half way through a piece and switches to another without noticing.)

When I was a kid, I used to dislike Telemann rather a lot. Looking back, I think this must have had something to do with the performances available at the time, which tended to be slow, lugubrious and ham-handed. Certainly Telemann has been one of the prime beneficiaries of the Period Performance movement which has gained such notoriety since then. In the first place, much of his music that had been heretofore ignored has been gobbled up by such performers eager to mine all the Baroque has to offer. Secondly, at least from my perspective, his music really comes alive at the hands of people like Goebel & Co. I suppose there is a connection. And while I know that the debate over the "authenticity" of this kind of performance is deep and bitter, I don't really care - this is the way I like to hear Telemann.

UPDATE DEUX: Speaking of Telemann, if I haven't mentioned it before, pianists out there might consider picking up this:


The 36 Fantasias for Keyboard. They are extremely easy to play, translate well to the piano and are a very pleasant diversion.

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

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Nats Park.jpg
(Image swiped from the WaPo)

Catesby Leigh, writing in OpinionJournal today, lays into the proposed design for the Nats' new stadium (the announcement of which I missed when I was out of town):

The design goes from banal to pretentious at the ballpark's south end, where a triangular volume derived from I.M. Pei's National Gallery East Building is awkwardly appended to emphasize, and indeed exaggerate, the nonperpendicular intersection of South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. Hey guys, this is a ballpark.

Sigh.....Here we are in what I thought was supposed to be a period of architectural renaissance for ballparks and these bozos are invoking I.M. Farookin' Pei, who if you think I haven't yet forgiving for befouling the Louvre with his goddam glass n' steel pyramids, you're jolly well right. This is Dee Cee, people! Surely any architect worth his salt can figure out a way to combine the retro sweetness of, say, Camden Yards with the feel of Constitution Avenue! Leigh's suggestions regarding the example of Soldier Field are a step in the right direction and certainly a helluva lot better than the blah glass n' concrete lump currently proposed.

Leigh well understands what a ballpark is supposed to be about:

But the first indispensable step is for the Nationals' new owners to realize that for the ballpark to be the success this city and their franchise require, a merely serviceable facility will not do. This place must be loved.

From what I'm reading and seeing, somebody has forgotten this.

Posted by Robert at 08:43 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

So what?

Her Perkiness, the likely product of an unholy union between Hillary Clinton and Molly Yard, is supposed to announce that she is leaving Today to take up Dan Rather's chair at the "Tiffany" network of the antique media. Does anyone care?

YIPS FROM STEVE---YOU'D THINK THEY'D LEARN DEPT.: I should know not to read blogs while eating cheerios, as I got a nice spew of 'o's onto the screen reading Paul's post, as the title came out in the voice of the alien (which, if memory serves, was John Bigboote, and not Lord Whorfin) at the end of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai when, having been thwarted in his plot to take over the world, he says in his best old man voice, "So what? Big deal!"

For earlier generations, their cultural touchstone was the King James Bible, or maybe Shakespeare. Me? It's Buckaroo Banzai, Escape from New York, Red Dawn, and Caddyshack.

Nothing like a perfectly good liberal arts edumahkayshun flushed down the crapper, eh?

Yips! from Robbo Big-Bootay: Jonah talks about the National Nooz Anchor's new clothes. And he has this to say about Katie's! training to fill the spot:

As co-host of The Today Show, Couric seamlessly moves from hosting a fashion show to baking ladyfingers to discussing Social Security reform. The only thing that distinguishes her "news" personality from her work as a cruise director is which camera she looks into and how she pitches her voice. Often it's difficult to tell the difference. She began one interview thusly: "When I got this assignment I thought, 'Whoa, slow news day!' But the importance of the sports bra to American women can't be overemphasized."

BTW, it was one of the Elders of the Black Lectroids that uttered the "So what? Big deal." line in TAOBB. Right at the end when Buckaroo is kissing Ellen Barkin.

Posted by LMC at 06:16 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

No smoking zone

Some bubba's cosmic still is working overtime.

Posted by LMC at 06:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 04, 2006

Ladies, I leave it up to you to determine if he is in fact Mr. Right.


WARNING: Not safe for work, if your workplace is a "Hillary Clinton's ass is enormous" joke free zone.

Posted by Steve at 06:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Poetry Posting (TM)

I couldn't say how often the words "tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot" have been used in poetry, but I'm guessing not very. Here's one example, however: Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman", a good old swashbuckler romance.

Yips! to Basil Seal. If you haven't wandered over to Mayfair yet, I'd heartily recommend it.

Posted by Robert at 05:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Katiepalooza? Meh.

Well Drudge is wetting his pants over Katie Couric going to CBS, but honestly, I got nuthin'. Don't watch tee vee nooz. Don't plan to. Don't really care who's reading it.

Posted by Robert at 04:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Oh, Lawd, it's Brokeback Regatta.

Insert your own cox joke here.

Yips! to Galley Slave Jonathan V. Last.

Posted by Robert at 03:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Seriously Coo-el

Check out this digital mosaic of the recent solar eclipse viewed from Turkey.

I dunno - makes me want to go put on some Enya or something.....

Yips! to the Derb.

Posted by Robert at 03:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestick Posting (TM) - Mr. McGregor Division

The other evening, the four year old Llama-ette was teasing me that rabbits were going to break into the garden and eat all my flowers. (Baiting Daddy has become one of her chief forms of amusement.)

"Ha!" I said, "No they're not, because if they do, I'm going to shoot them!"

"Dad-deee," she replied, "You can't shoot rabbits - they have force fields! Ha ha ha!"

Who knew?

(Which isn't to say that I won't try. First sign of the furry little bastards on the wrong side of the fence this year and I'm picking up a Daisy. I mean it this time.)

Posted by Robert at 03:09 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


DeLay's out.

Here's to the greedy bastage moving to Vegas and opening a private detective firm with Jim Wright and Dan Rostenkowski. Now THAT would be a tee-vee show I would make an appointment to watch. (The key, of course, would be to get Abe Vigoda to play Jim Wright and the guy who played Rick on Magnum to play DeLay. The hard part would be Rosty---you'd have to get the ghost of Walter Matthau).

Posted by Steve at 01:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

More Random Commuter Observations

Dee Cee locals will know all about Ronnie Mervis of Mervis Diamond Importers and his radio commercials that end "Nobody pays retail anymore - Why should you?"

Mervis, a South Efrikan, has never quite got the American patois down and his narratives of the Mines back home "commanded" by his brother Kenny have always seemed a bit lurid to me.

On top of that, the musical selections accompanying these ads has always seemed, well, odd, a combination of Broadway musical, Euro-Vision Song Contest entry and Hitchcock thriller.

Anyhoo, I bring all this up because the latest Mervis ad is backed up by, of all bizarre choices, the soundtrack from Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings. (Yes, I had a copy of the album. Shut up.)

Now I can't help imagining Ronnie breaking out with, "Diamondses....we wants them! Preeeecioussssss.........."

I always enjoyed the Bakshi version of LOTR, as full of holes as it was. It's nice to see at least one part of it being recycled, however strange the circumstances.

Posted by Robert at 12:26 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observations

The Metro was pretty packed coming in this morning. As I stood squashed against one of the walls, I had to hold my book pretty close to my face. Unfortunately, I discovered that I couldn't focus enough to read it.

I've been horribly nearsighted since about third grade. It seems somehow unfair that I should also be developing a problem with farsightedness.


And the first one of you smartasses to mention bifocals gets a llama spitting.

Posted by Robert at 09:42 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

"I want a Jack Bauer PDA",

not to mention a Chloe-level computer geek who can re-task satellite and feed the info to the Jack Bauer PDA. Read Dave Barry's account of last night's 24. What are the most dangerous things to be if you encounter Jack Bauer? The forty-something dating Jack's daughter; the bad guy looking down the barrel of Jack's Glock; any satellite infrared image beamed to The Jack Bauer PDA of Death . . .

Yips! from Robbo:

And while we're on the subject of the Coolest Tee Vee Hero I've Never Actually Seen, it's never too early to start thinking politics:


(Swiped from JWookie)

Heh. Like I say, I've never actually seen 24. But I still find all this to be pretty cool.

YIPS from Steve: Me? I prefer my Rightwingnuthouse 24 summary, if only for the Jack Bauer Kill Counter (TM). Early in the season, they were keeping track of the number of constitutional violations committed by CTU, but they had to stop by noon....

Posted by LMC at 06:24 AM | Comments (30) | TrackBack

Basic Bomb

The new Sharon Stone flick tanks. Put another way, BI2 got shellacked by Ice Age: the Meltdown.

Posted by LMC at 06:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 03, 2006

But We've Got Great Personalities

No. 1 Google hit out of nearly 30K for hideous llamas.

Pucker up, baybee!

Posted by Robert at 04:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I'm betting on Massengale buying the rights

The Nirvana songbook for sale by the "ex" junkie widow.

Maybe she can do a "duets" album with Whitney Houston, starting with "Luck be a Lady."

SPEAKING OF SELLING OUT: My wholesome campaign to turn Cake Eater Chronicles into the "all Beaches, all the time" blog has been corporatized and commercialized. The bastards! I don't even get a cut!

Posted by Steve at 02:13 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The best argument against intelligent design


Darwin 1, Humanity 0

Posted by Steve at 01:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Your LLamabutcher Movie Review, featuring Gary the X-Donk

Really, Gary, what did you really think?

I don't know---reviews like this just make me want to see it more, in it's wide-screen glorious crapitude. I mean, the thing's got craptabulous written all over it. Now if they had only made Kurt Russell be the pyscho cop on the edge.....and given the setting, he could have had a bad faux English accent and everything!

And maybe thrown in the time-travelling ghost of Jack the Ripper to cut up Sharon Stone at the end. Except, "Jack" the Ripper turns out to have been a chick all along! Now we're talking movie magic. Throw in a foul-mouthed midget as the sidekick cop who gets whacked at the end of Act II and we're talking gold! GOLD, I say!

Some people see a flick like this and ask, "why?" while I sit there and get in a delirious state hopped up on rasinettes and Barq's root beer and ask "what's for lunch?"

Or something Bobby Kennedy-esque like that.

UPDATE: Sadie, however, liked it. Go figure.

Posted by Steve at 11:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Nats Logo.gif

How about a little Opening Day haiku?

Glavine - old but hale?
Left Field, Sori. Shut up. Play.
Mets are bad, m'kay?


Posted by Robert at 10:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


It's now clear why exactly Beautiful Atrocities Jeff was banging the tin cup for the big blog bucks.

Posted by Steve at 10:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Sure Sign of Spring Division


Yesterday, after dutifully spreading weed n' feed all over the lawn and spraying the weeds along the garden fences, I performed the annual ritual of putting up the hammock. And of course, being the conscientious father and husband that I am, I felt obliged to ensure that the family would not suffer any unexpected injuries owing to a lack of quality control in assembling the thing on my part. Sooooooo, while the Missus took the Llama-ettes off to tour a Girl Scout camp the eldest wants to attend this summer, I threw myself into the hammock with a couple of books and a tall glass of iced coffee.

I usually stay away from brand name endorsements, but here let me just put in a huge plug for L.L. Bean, from which our hammock came. I had originally bought one for the Missus the summer before the eldest Llama-ette came along. Two years ago, despite the fact that we were careful to store it every winter, the thing rotted out. Of course, this was long after we'd tossed the receipt and all, so we figured that, despite Bean's generous return policy, we were probably going to have to buy a new one.

Well, one day early last year, the Missus was in our local Bean outlet buying something else and just happened to mention the hammock to the sales clerk. "Oh," said the clerk, "We can replace that - no problem!" And bingo, we had a new one.

All I can say is that is customer service. Thankee muchly, Bean.

So with what books did I break in hammock season? Two new ones that I picked up on my travels last week. The first is Spring Fever, a P.G. Wodehouse novel that, believe it or not, I'd never read before. The second is West Wind, Flood Tide: The Battle of Mobile Bay by Jack Friend, which comes highly recommended to me by a colleague from down there. Of course, I'll let you know what I think of them.

UPDATE: Oh, and not to be totally outflanked by Steve-O, I got the idea of rearranging the Dicentra near my front door (all of which are a foot and a half tall and blooming) in order to spread them out a bit. A few minutes with a spade, however, revealed that the things have incredibly long roots splaying out several feet in all directions. "Bugger this," I said to myself. Instead, I'm just going to fill in the spaces with some new plants. I'm also going to spread a combination of pinks and coreopsis in front of them, right along the walk.

One of the reasons I'm not ready for the Bigs as a gardener is my reluctance to prune things. I've resolved this year to change all that and to be much better about hacking things back and keeping them under control. I mention this here because, when let go, these Bleeding Heart will utterly swamp the hostas trying to come up behind them. Well, not this season......

UPDATE DEUX: And of course, the fact that it's supposed to dip down to freezing tomorrow night here makes me feel a bit better about not having planted or moved anything just yet.......

Posted by Robert at 08:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Insert Homer Simpson drooling noise here

Mmmmmm.....strawberries. Here in the Bonny Glen strawberries, no less.

Posted by Steve at 08:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 02, 2006

Gratuitous Garden Posting (TM)

Ibuprofen, stat!

Okay, about five hours in the garden this afternoon, spreading top soil (400 lbs), compost (160 pds). Planted about 30-40 bulbs for summer flowers, about ten plants. My arms feel like they are going to fall off. More later on varieties, placement, etc. Right now, the couch and a cold beer are calling.

UPDATE: 3 blocks over, gardening was also afoot at Lissa and Scott's. The difference, of course, was I was arm deep in compost and they were deep in the poetry....

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

Gratuitous Automotive Posting (TM)

On renting a car for my expedition into the Heartland this past week, I came across a "feature" brand new to me, namely, a radio volume control that automatically adjusts itself to the speed of the car, playing the radio louder the faster you go.

Sooper Sekret Message to Detroit: Cut this out right now.

Labor-saving devices are one thing and I appreciate them in their place. But devices that attempt to anticipate the preferences of the person using them are just a step away from Cylons. Perhaps I should say "dictate" instead of "anticipate", since I couldn't figure out how to disable the bloody thing. A short step, indeed.

Whichever genious came up with this idea no doubt patted him or herself on the back in anticipation of all the thanks a grateful driving public would heap on his or her head for sparing them the nuisance of having to turn up the volume at higher speed. But did it ever occur to this benighted busybody that some of us might not want the music to get louder? Or that sometimes we do and sometimes we don't? And that we are now forced to exert just as much effort to turn the damn radio down? And that really, in the end, it is none of his or her goddam business, much less that of the car, how loud a driver plays the radio and when?

As you can tell, I find the thinking behind this feature to be gauche and obtrusive. It is forward and assuming and simply takes for granted that its pushiness will be welcomed. I find such behavior hard enough to endure in people. I sure as hell don't want to start getting it from machines as well.

YIPS from Steve: Welcome back, Robbo---we missed you!

Posted by Robert at 03:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 01, 2006

Censure motion

From Captain's Quarters.

Posted by LMC at 08:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Dr. Rusty expresses his dissatisfaction with Angelina Jolie for being "good gay" only part-time.

Posted by LMC at 08:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Forces of Light 1, Stooopid Celebrity Hacks 0

Sadie (aka AgentBedHead) takes on George Clooney, and right away goes for the low blow.

Posted by Steve at 08:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March Madness, X-Donk style

Gary is going to use his new found polling powers for good, rather than evil, to create an 80s chick-off contest.

To be perfectly honest, I think John Lanius should sue for copyright infringement. But that's just me, Mister Vegas.

Posted by Steve at 08:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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