July 31, 2006
The Tie That Blinds - UPDATE
One word: Shiny!
But, as I was warned, bring money.
Now here's a question for the gents: I notice quite the collection of regimentals, clubs, universities and the like.
This is all well and good, except that I've always been firmly of the belief that wearing the tie of a given organization without actually being a member of it isn't quite the thing.
Am I wrong in this? It strikes me as a fairly straightforward and uncomplicated principle. Or in this day and age will nobody mind whether or not I'm actually a member of, say, the M.C.C?
Gee, ya think?
I quit the ABA not long after I joined in the early 90's specifically because it decided to wade in on the abortion debate. At the time, I reckoned that if I was going to bankroll political lobbies, then it should be groups and causes of my own choice, not somebody else's. I have never had any reason since then to question whether I made the right decision.
I guess the rip in time created by Zefram Cochrane shotgunning the Vulcan ambassador not only created the mirror darkly parallel evil bearded Spock universe in the future, but also in the past as well.
(Bonus points and free linkage for the person who pshops Evil Bearded Spock into the picture inappropriately of fake Paris Hilton).
(And yes, I did this post to see what type of traffic we could get from people googling up "evil bearded Paris Hilton")
Charlotte Church Wants to Do Angelina Jolie?
When did this blog turn into the back row in home room? And where would this fall on the Rusty "good lesbian/bad lesbian" continuum?
I must not have heard it correctly....
UPDATE: Yes, these two last posts, chumming up nekkid Melissa Theuriau references amidst and betwixt Snakes on a Plane mumbling and random Angelina Jolie/Welsh soprano lesbian innuendo marks the beginning of the official Whores of Blogdom Traffic II: The LLamabutchers Desperate No-Taste Google Chumming Traffic Baiting technorat-pandering Site-meter Wack-a-mole-a-thon, part deux (TM).
Be very afraid....
YEAH, YEAH, YEAH: I know, as compared to our usual blogging efforts, right? Thanks INDC Bill. Keep looking over your shoulder: one of these days the person dressed in a Jacques Cousteau wetsuit, with a hula skirt, angry clown makeup and carrying a blow dart gun, following you through DuPont Circle, will be the one carrying the banana creme pie of death with your number on it.....
Yips From Chai-Rista: I just want to state for the record that this blog was already "the back row in home room" when I got here!
Gratuitous Melissa Theuriau posting (soon to become the Snakes on A Plane Countdown)
What I didn't realize was that Samuel L. Jackson would be going all Mace Windu up on those damn snakes dans l'avion.
From The Big Heat himself, who reminds me, and I quote, "who is my beyatch now?" You are, Pep, you are...
Gratuitous Gumby Observation
Some of Monty Python's best performances were done on record. This includes The Spanish Inquisition, the Oscar Wilde sketch and the Piranha Brothers. Focused in front of microphones, their timing was often superb, their vocal inflections much more rich and the dynamics of the pieces far, far subtler than what they achieved doing these sketches on tee vee.
On the other hand, other bits of their material worked best on film and still others worked best in live performance in front of their television studio audiences. Apart from other considerations, there must be some aspect or aspects of their acting that shows through best in a given medium. And a sketch based on such aspect or aspects naturally would show to its greatest advantage in that medium.
I wonder how one would go about correlating this.
On the other hand, I've always thought their Live At The Hollywood Bowl concert, done as it was on stage in front of an enormous crowd, was pretty uniformely awful.
Count on us to ask the really important questions
Whatever happened to Vasquez (Janette Goldstein) and Ferro (Colette Hiller) from Aliens? It seems Vasquez managed to survive the grenade blast that took down Gorman and one of the aliens to have a busy, if inconsequential film career, with credits including Titanic, T2, Lethal Weapon, and a fav of mine: The Presidio. Ferro did not.
Netflix movie review
The entirely forgettable Stealth. The only decent line came from Jessica Biel when sizing up a vacuous blonde in the arms of her unrequited love interest: "Bleach causes cancer in rats." The "Dude's Cut" release of this flick needs to improve her on-screen visibility. The movie should not be viewed without the assistance of adult beverages. You have been warned.
Hot Llama Action
Well, of course since I opened my yap last week about the relative tolerability of the Dee Cee summer so far, this week promises to be a super king kamayamaya beyotch of a scorcher. Blazer and tie were dumped unceremoniously before I even left the house this morning. Dress shirt probably will follow by tomorrow.
Ah, well. At least the extreme heat had the courtesy to wait until August this year, which is as things should be. Nevertheless, I once again invite you to consider my proposal that the United States adopt a summer capitol somewhere aways up north, far from the swamps of the Chesapeake, where nobody in his right mind should want to be this time of year.
In the meantime, I'll just remind myself that vacation starts in four days and that we hit the road for Maine a week from today:
I'll also sit back and laugh to see what kind of pervs google in here on a search for "hot llama action".
July 30, 2006
Gratuitous Llama Domestic Posting - Indoor Division
I swear that when I am dead and opened, you shall find 'stopped-up potty' lying in my heart.
Gratuitous Llama Domestic Posting - Outdoor Division
Bugger the yard. It's too damn hot today for mowing.
Gratuitous Llama Religious Observation
I happened to have usher duty at Church this morning. As I often do, especially on these lazy summer days, I let the eight year old help out. She loves doing this and is at the point where she can be trusted with tasks like taking the offeratory plate up to the balcony.
Unfortunately, when she's not actually engaged, she spends the rest of her time squirming, fidgeting and talking, meaning I have to spend most of my time shushing her.
"Be still and know," is not a concept that has not yet sunk in on the gel.
July 29, 2006
The Tie That Blinds
So I'm at Jos. Banks this morning getting some new khakis fitted and some replacement buttons put on the ol' blazer. The nice lady said she could do the buttons while I waited if I'd got a few minutes (which I had), so while she went about her business, I sauntered over to the tie tables to see about buying one or two to add to my own meager rotation.
Couldn't find a single thing that even remotely appealed to me.
What is it about tie-buying these days that is so damned difficult? Or more to the point, why are tie-makers coming up with such hideous combinations of design and color? It's almost as if the Tie-Makers' Guild got together and passed a secret Code of Fulglification. Perhaps they are in cahoots with other branches of the Men's Clothing Industry: When the only ties available leave the potential purchaser clammy, he's one step close to allowing himself to be assimilated into that wretched hive of scum and villainy known as the Business Casual Collective. No doubt the Guild gets a cut of the take on "casual dress shirts" and the like.
And it isn't just Jos. Banks, either. I've been flipping around various on-line catalogues - Brooks Brothers and like - and simply find more of the same. Bleck. Blek. Blek.
What is the smartly-dressed llama to do? Surely there's some place out there that still caters solids, reps and paisleys in more traditional colors and combinations. Any tips on where they might be would be greatly appreciated.
July 28, 2006
Allright, it's time for a new look here at the LLamabutchers, a new coat of paint, maybe a new couch, freshening up the look a wee bit.
One thing I'd like to do is get a blog skin option that has a clean white screen feel to it.
Another is going to be a major weed wacking to the blogrolls.
We've got blogrolls out the wazoo here, and at one point I found them useful, but not really anymore. Have blogrolls lost their usefullness? I think one thing I'm going to dump is the RINO list---not for ideological reasons (although that McCain/Hillary drinking contest story, even if apocryphal, is reason enough alone), but mainly because most of the blogs are listed elsewhere. The moo knew list is going to stay out of loyalty to the collective, but other than that, I think a nice clean shave might be in order. Thoughts? Robbo?
Yips! from Robbo: Well, I happen to think it's more a matter of being better about pruning than yanking stuff out at the roots. Certainly we've got a lot of needless duplication, and I've been meaning to go through and cut dead or no longer read links for a while. On the other hand, though, I depend pretty heavily on the rolls for surfing purposes.
Your question to ponder for the weekend
Ermm, run like hell?
A more an inconvenient truth
Heh. I blame an increase in the atmospheric levels of phlostigen caused by evil capitalist pig flatulence trying to return to the halcyon days of the Medeival climatic optimum.
Pardon me while I go vomit
On a congressional trip to Estonia, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton astonished her traveling companions by suggesting the group do what one does in the Baltics: hold a vodka-drinking contest!
Delighted, the leader of the overseas delegation, Sen. John McCain, quickly agreed, the NEW YORK TIMES is planning to report on Saturday.
The after-dinner game went so well -- memories are a bit hazy on who drank how much. McCain later told people how unexpectedly fun he found Hillary to be.
TIMES reporter Anne Kornblut has filed a story on the curious relationship between Hillary and John McCain, newsrooms sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.
"One of the guys," is the way McCain describes her.
NYT TIMES editors plan a front page placement of Kornblut's report.
Clinton and McCain have developed an amiable relationship.
They worked together, both on the Senate Armed Services Committee and on the issue of global warming. But as the 2008 presidential campaign begins to take shape, with McCain and Clinton at the top of the polls for their parties' nominations, they are increasingly doing things that underscore their differences.
"But the interplay between the two senators -- both celebrities, both self-styled centrists, both with compelling personal narratives and a knack for infuriating their own parties' bases -- remains intriguing as they navigate the early phase of a presidential race with an eye toward conceivably running against one another."
This is what centrism gets you.
Any bets on what the matching his 'n hers tatoos were of, and where they wound up?
Scots whoa hey!
So, here I was, thinking we were losing our touch, and along comes this beaut in our referal logs: someone punched us up looking for
Welsh Sexy Granny
Turns out, the link was to some comment spammer, but hey, traffic is traffic...
"I Assure You Zeh Do, Mr. Ellis."***
Stephen Hunter of the WaPo has a superb two-sided review of The Ant Bully, the latest cartoon feature that the Llama-ettes have already started hounding me to see. His summation:
The whole thing is a lie, from start to finish. Other than that, I liked it a lot.
Go read the rest to see how he gets there.
Yips! to Dean.
***Points for identifying the quote.
UPDATE: Ding! We have a winner. One of my all time favorites, too.
Psssst, no one tell Robbo, 'kay?
Because this will make him EXTRA cranky, as if that's possible...
Melissa's right, of course: the whole point of Monopoly is not just what it teaches kids about math and strategy, but also the value of that sweetly-orange $500 bill shoved under the board where others have forgotten you have it....
Not to mention the delicious joy of sweeping a heeping pile of sticky bills out from Free Parking right when you need it most.
I smell a cover story
Looks like our war against the Goa'uld is going well.
Better living through chemistry
Jen, formerly Jen Speaks, was having a rough go of it with 24-7 "morning" sickness but is feeling better thanks to the efforts of American medicine in the 21st century.
The opposing sides
side by side, thanks to The All-Seeing Eye over at the Sandcrawler.
Just when I thought I was out THEY PULL ME BACK IN!
Just when it sounds like I'm giving up blogging, the tragic afronts to the America I know and love REQUIRE an answer!
1. Remake Fletch with that weirdly forgetable Scrubs guy? WHY? Perhaps Chevy Chase's best movie, Fletch defined the early 80s off-beat comedy, but it worked because its a product of it's time---just look at the disaster that is the Miami Vice movie.
I'm against this for a whole variety of reasons, not the least of which if the Hollywood remake juggernaut has turned its insatiable tapeworm of a soul on the 1980s, it's now just a matter of time until we get the Saved by the Bell movie.
Directed by Michael Bay, no doubt, following on the heels of his reconceptualization of 90120: The Movie as an international espionage romp involving an intricate plot about SAT test cheating network as the new outgrowth of the AQ Kahn crowd.
AND THE NUMBER #1 REASON WHY I HAVE TO KEEP ON BLOGGING:
I guess Funny Girl is using the Stanislavski method to prepare for her role in Eleanor Roosevelt: The Later, Bitter, Fatter and Uglier Years.
Well, THAT sucks
Jeff Goldstein is taking Protein Wisdom dark until Dr. Demento can be safely locked up behind bars.
I would be lying if I said the whole affair de Frisch hasn't left a creepy aftertaste that has taken the fun out of blogging as of late.
Robbo and I both blog anonymously or, at the very minimum, semi-anonymously. To be perfectly honest, when we started, there wasn't really a reason for that one way or another. For me, it was creating a character which allowed the blog posts to flow in a way that when I tried blogging under my real name, just never came out all too well. Not to speak for Rob, but I presumed he did it that way because, well, that's just the way I set up the site. Now, to be perfectly honest, I'm glad---I don't need that type of attention or grief in my life, and I know Robbo sure as heck doesn't.
Back when we started in November 03, the gold standard--unattainable, it seemed--was 1000K visitors a day, and hanging with it to see the sitemeter crack a million. Maybe even sell some ads or something. Year or so ago, the "big time" meant a minimum 5K a day--okay, a stretch but something attainable through the right application of, umm, traffic management skills. Now, the "big time" means you have a dedicated moonbat wackjob stalking you in your private life, threatening your children and trying to get you fired. Feh.
Sock puppet wars, homicidal moonbat stalkers, Melissa Theuriau married and born-again prudish---blogging just isn't as much fun as it used to be.
I'll make two predictions for the 2008 election: a blog will create and host THE critical and definitive campaign "ad" that will have a discernable impact on the outcome of the election; and a prominent blogger will be murdered by a deranged on-line stalker.
Yips! from Robbo: Don't let Steve-O fool you, folks. I can read the signs. He's just fixing to hoover out our PayPal account and scamper off to Rio.
Happy Great Upheaval Day!
Yes, Canada has designated July 28th as a date of commemoration of the "Great Upheaval", the booting of the French Acadian population out of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (or "ethnic cleansing" if you prefer the vogue terminology) by the Brits, beginning in 1755.
This appears to be another exercise in White Guilt self-flagellation. The fact that possession of Eastern Canada was bitterly contested between Britain and France in the 18th Century, the fact that the French cheerfully would have driven the Brit colonists into the sea if they could have managed it, and the fact that they employed some awfully vicious means of clearing out Brit settlers themselves, all seem to have been overlooked in the general bewailment of the Acadians' fate.
Oh. Sweet. Jeebus!
Via Allahpundit, I realize Colbert is one of them, but this has to be the funniest thing I've seen in a long, long time...
Skip to minute 2:00 for an interview like another with Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Just as an apertif, here's the George Washington cartoon (not necessarily SFW)
From Terry Teachout comes this quick Pet Peeves Meme:
• Grammatical pet peeve. Their name is Legion. At the moment, however, I'm particularly sensitive to the increased misuse of "number" and "amount", about which I was ranting over at Kathy's just the other day.
• Household pet peeve. "You girls! Flush! The Damn! Potty!"
• Arts and entertainment pet peeve. Isn't that really what this blog is mostly about?
• Liturgical pet peeve. Episcopalians
singing trying to sing spirituals. It's preposterous. "Let My People Go?" Are you kidding me?
• Wild card. People who run for the Metro. Another train will be along in a minute or two. And you're not that important. Besides, you look ridiculous, like big-butted lemmings.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
Love's Labour's Lost (2000)
This is another one of Kenneth Branagh's screen adaptations of Shakespeare. Until just last week, I'd never even heard of it. Having seen it, I can understand why.
Branagh made this film something like six years after Emma Thompson left him in her wake, but I guess he still hadn't got over her yet because the whole thing looks like a long, drunken, table-top stunt. Branagh takes Shakespeare's (rather weak) story of the King of Navarre and his buddies sequestering themselves away in academe, only to be thwarted by the Princess of France and her ladies, and sets it in the late 1930's, complete with a newsreel-talkie chorus to keep us up to date on what's going on. He also unleashes Nathan Lane (as Costard the court jester) in full Vaudeville mode, complete with ad-libs, take 'ems and rubber chicken. On top of this, he liberally intersperses the play with musical numbers from the period - primarily Irving Berlin and Cole Porter - complete with heavily choreographed dancing. (The radical shifts from late 16th to early 20th Century language and movement quickly make one's head hurt.)
Now I've seen this play done in "period" performance before. I saw a production at the Shakespeare Theatre in Dee Cee that was set in pre-WWI Oxford that worked pretty well. I saw a tee-vee production years ago set in Georgian England that worked even better. So it certainly can be done. But this? It's simply one giant gimmick: Ken Branagh jumping the shark.
I will say this, though. The King of Navarre is played by Alessandro Nivola, of whom I'd never heard before. It isn't often that an American actor can hold his own amongst the Brits when doing Shakespeare (as witnessed in Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing and by Alicia Silverstone's wretched performance here as the French Princess), but Nivola does quite a fair job of it.
Also, can I just say here how much I like Richard Briers? He's been hanging around Brannagh ever since Henry V, but his career stretches back well before that. He's the perfect example of an unassuming but nonetheless solid, solid Brit actor, the kind one enjoys watching purely for his skill and craftsmanship. Even in a dog of a movie like this.
Anyhoo, I certainly can't recommend this movie. True Shakespeareans ought to be horrified. And if you just can't take your Bard without a Cole Porter chaser, stick with Kiss Me, Kate.
A good analysis on the state of ROTC programs at America's top universities from this morning's NRO. I was commissioned out of the Washington and Lee ROTC program in 1985 with 25 others. The program took a nosedive with the coming of co-education that fall and by the time I went back for law school a few years later, it was on life support. It disappeared in the early '90s and I wonder if the school even acknowledges it was ever there.
Waiter! There's A Llama In My Soup!
I went down to the Holiday Inn restaurant to meet Dad and Doris. We were handed menus, a superfluity the waitresses cheerfully offer up with full knowledge you’ll have the buffet. Why wouldn’t you? There are few words in the English language that have the plain poetic appeal of Breakfast Buffet; you imagine the spoils of Croesus, from eggs to pancakes to pans of bangers, rashers unnumbered of bacon, rolls and fruit, and a man in a ceremonial hat at the end of the line carving off hanks of hog. And you can go back.
Personally, I loathe buffets, breakfast or otherwise. To me, they say nothing so much as, "Food's over there. You want it? Go get it yourself." Sure, the spread can be impressive and you can load up a second time (not that you really need to), but this doesn't take away from my conviction that they exist primarily so that the staff doesn't have to bother so much with individual service, that they're really for the restaurant's convenience, not mine.
I've had to do an awful lot of travelling for work this year, so I've had plenty of opportunities to face hotel breakfasts. And more than once I've seen a look of shock flit across a waitress's face when I've said no, I want to look at the menu, please. Once I sit down in a restaurant, I want to remain sitting. Especially first thing in the morning when I've already used up practically all of my auxiliary power just staggering into the place to begin with.
July 27, 2006
Oh, Why Not....
It's not as if anybody is actually reading blogs at the moment.
First seen at Sheila's:
What curse word do you use the most?
Tho' "bother it" I may
I never use a big, big "D".
Well, hardly ever...
Do you own an iPod?
Nope. Don't really care either.
Who on your MySpace "Top 8" do you talk to the most?
I don't even know what this means.
What time is your alarm clock set for?
Well, it's set for 6:00 am, but it's actually 20 minutes fast. This gives me the satisfying illusion of staying in bed later than I actually do.
What color is your room?
Sort of a goldenroddish yellow, with white trim and molding and wood floors (badly in need of whatever you do to make wood look less worn out).
Flip flops or sneakers?
Feh. Topsiders for me, thanks.
Would you rather take the picture or be in the picture?
What was the last movie you watched?
Soapdish. And I still can't make up my mind about it after all these years. Tonight I'm going to try Kenneth Branagh's 1930's version of Love's Labour's Lost and plan to get very crabby, indeed.
Do any of your friends have children?
Almost all of them. Nobody else can stand to be around parents.
Has anyone ever called you lazy?
I frequently call myself lazy.
Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep faster?
Never have. Wait, do adult beverages count?
What CD is currently in your CD player?
Some Telemann Trio Sonatas performed by Camerata Köln.
Do you prefer regular or chocolate milk?
I don't like chocolate, but I can't remember the last time I drank any kind of milk.
Has anyone told you a secret this week?
Ooh, the things I hear! Wouldn't you like to know?
Have you ever given someone a hickey?
I'm sorry, my high school records have been permanently sealed.
Who was the last person to call you?
The Llama-ettes to tell me all about their visit to Sully Plantation today.
Do you think people talk about you behind your back?
My ears don't burn just because of my blood pressure.
Did you watch cartoons as a child?
I could pin the year of production of every Road Runner cartoon by the music and artistic style by the time I was about eight.
How many siblings do you have?
Two, one of each. Among us, we have six girls and one boy. So much for odds.
Are you shy around the opposite sex?
I'm self-conscious around everybody.
What movie do you know every line to?
Monty Python and the Holy Grail/ The Adventures of Baron Munchausen/ The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (not that there are that many in this one)
Do you own any band t-shirts?
Nope. Never did.
What is your favorite salad dressing?
Do you read for fun?
Whenever I get the chance.
Do you cry a lot?
Nope, not much at all. I'm a mean old man.
Who was the last person to text message you?
Don't have text messaging and don't want it.
Do you have a desktop computer or a laptop?
Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos?
Ain't. Gonna. Happen.
What is the weather like?
Too darn hot. I think we may be in for a T-storm.
Would you ever date someone covered in tattoos?
Honestly, I have never ever seen a tattoo that I considered to be in any way attractive.
Is sex before marriage wrong?
All I remember from my own wedding morning is that we really didn't have the time or privacy for that sort of thing.
When was the last time you slept on the floor?
How many hours of sleep do you need to function?
A good seven or eight. But I only ever get five or six. You can see that the numbers don't add up.
Are you in love or lust?
Sometimes both, sometimes one or the other, sometimes neither.
Are your days full and fast-paced?
I'm praying for a spell of empty and torpid.
Do you pay attention to calories on the back of packages?
Nope. Mr. Metabolism has kept me within visiting distance of my college weight for almost 20 years now.
How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
Are you picky about spelling and grammar?
Absolutely. Probably because I've always been such a horrid speller myself.
Have you ever been to Six Flags?
In fact, I've been to the original near Arlington, Texas. And every Texas schoolkid knows that the name comes from the fact that the state has been under the flags of six different governments over the course of its history.
Do you get along better with the same or opposite sex?
Matter of fact, I prefer the ladies. And for some mysterious reason, middle aged women, especially liberal middle aged women, like me a lot. Go figure, but I owe several job hires to this fact.
Do you like cottage cheese?
Do you sleep on your side, tummy, or back?
I flip between back and side several times a night.
Have you ever bid for something on eBay?
Nope, but the Missus has become quite the sniper.
Do you enjoy giving hugs?
Nope, not at all.
What song did you last sing out loud?
"Unbelievable" by Diamond Rio.
What is your favorite TV show?
Of all time? Or right now?
Oh, garsh, this is too complicated to try and suss out.
Which celebrity, dead or alive, would you want to have lunch with?
Hmmm. It depends on what is meant by "celebrity". Stretching it, I'd like to meet G.B. Shaw, whose birthday happened to be yesterday.
Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
Most of this summer.
What one thing do you wish you had?
The power to require blooper clips on all DVD's.
Another one too complicated to suss out now.
Oh Sweet Jesus
They seem to have identified the bottleneck that caused the Katrina disastrous disaster response.
If there's any justice in the world, Sarah Jessica Parker will have him sleep on the couch for the rest of the year. Just like Chimpy McHitler to hire Inspector Gadget to run a critical part of homeland security.
I notice that with their fifth win in a row, the Nationals are now 25 and 24 at home. I'd have to go back and check, but I believe this is the first time they've had a winning home record all season.
I've also noticed all summer that many, many people around Dee Cee are wearing Nats hats. We're in the cellar and most of the roster probably won't be here next year, but I've got a good vibe about this team, especially as the new owners seem to have their collective eye on the ball, so to speak, in terms of building long term strength.
So, with the (at least temporary) winning record at RFK Stadium, what of the Curse of Bobby Kennedy?
"Fraaaaaaank! Ah, Fraaaaaank Rooooobinson!
You, ah, think you've defeated meeee-yah? Wrong!
I'll, ah, be baaaaaaaaaack!"
(Image filched from the Colossus)
Seven days to go until my vacation, that is, and man oh man do I need it this year. I won't bore you with all the details, but I simply can't remember the last time I was this utterly wiped.
So, a donde vas, Roberto? Well, as is usually the case, we'll be making our way up to Maine to visit the 'rents. The added bonus this year is that both my brother and sister and their families will be there as well. Lots of Geary's and lobstah, a visit or two to my favorite out of the way beach, perhaps a trip to the Children's Museum in Portland if the Llama-ettes behave themselves, and - most importantly - a whooooole lot of time just sitting on the porch, staring idly at the bay and doing absolutely nothing.
Few days of this and I feel I will get my strength back. And remember some of those little things, like how to smile or the fact that I'm married.
In the meantime, I feel like a pilot coming in for a landing skosh fuel. If nothing untoward happens, I'll just be able to ghost over the perimeter fence and put her down. Otherwise, Robbo prangs the kite. Keep your fingers crossed that it's going to be quiet for the next seven days.
July 26, 2006
Announcing the LMC doctrine
This should sound familiar to those who peruse my rantings and it has probably been articulated better by others. This is the LMC Doctrine: (1) you can make a deal only with those who want to deal. Negotiations for the sake of negotiating do not work in litigation and sure as hell do not work in foreign affairs. (2) if each of the opposing sides are hell-bent on the other's destruction, decide who you want to win and give them whatever assistance they need to for victory. (3) We will have peace between Israel and radical Isalm in the form of the PLO/Hamas/Hezbollah, etc. when one side so thoroughly defeats the other that the victor imposes the peace.
Here's a little something for you on this hot, muggy, late July day: the North Pole Cam.
Looks pretty good right about now.
Actually, I have to admit that this summer really hasn't turned out as bad as it could have been. Sure, it's been hot and nasty, but the temps here in Dee Cee have rarely gotten out of the low 90's and it's rained quite a bit. Not nearly as awful as it can be sometimes. (Of course, we've got about another five or six weeks to go and now I've probably gone and put a hex on the thing just by talking about it.)
Yips! to Lynn S.
Brilliant Men and Too Much Wood
It was Desmond Morris they were quoting, and he didn't lay (har! har!) the blame, so to speak, on too frequent deliveries of wood - which would have been my guess - but on an addiction to risk.
Honestly, I was not aware that John F. Kennedy and Charlie Chaplin were "brilliant" men. And I've know several stupid men with the same "problem" as the supposedly brilliant guys.
You know what I think? I think ol' Desy's wife ought to check his cell phone records.
Separated At Birth?
Anybody else out there see the similarity between this brand new bust of Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham:
and this one of the Roman Emperor Constantine?
(Aside from the fact that HRHR's head appears to have been grafted on to Angelina Jolee's torso, that is.)
At last, perhaps Madam Rodham's imperial ambitions are showing through.
UPDATE: Of course, Hil' should look on the bright side. At least she didn't wind up being memorialized like poor old JFK, whose ginormous bust at the Kennedy Center I've always known fondly as "Lava Man":
UPDATE DEUX: Yes, I see that resemblance too:
Ad Astra Scotty!
Actor James Doohan's ashes will be blasted into space in October. Pop over to Martinis, Persistence, and a Smile to read the full story.
They can't seem to get any forward momentum or acceptable ideas for creating a 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero, but in small communities all over New Jersey, touching 9/11 memorials have been up for years.
July 25, 2006
Doing Our Part Against The Terrorist Scumbags
Yes, indeed, Ladies and Gentlemen: New special forces vehicle
kicks ass — the llama.
TEL AVIV — Israel's military has found the perfect vehicle for special operations forces — the llama.
After extensive tests, the uncomplaining work-horse animals were found to easily out-perform donkeys. What's more, they need refuelling only every other day.
Military sources said the Israel Army plans to use llamas for reconnaissance and combat missions in enemy territory, Middle East Newsline reported. They described the llama as ideal for special operations missions in Lebanon against the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah.
Ass-kicking Special Ops Llamas.
Ass-kicking Special Ops Llamas!
How sweet is that?
Yips! to Chef Mojo.
Getting A Wash-Eye's View
Go over to Rocket Jones' place and check out this amazing video from the last shuttle mission. It comes from a camera mounted on one of the external boosters and follows its course from blast off to splash down.
Going up, not so bad. Coming back down, well, my hands are still sweating a bit.
Prime Real Estate Offer
Vacationers, you are in luck - The U.S. Office of Property Disposal is offering Johnston Atoll for sale to the highest bidder!
It's a concrete man-made island paradise you can acquire for the sole use of you and your beloved hostages. Colorful local history includes the dramatic destruction of countless tons of Agent Orange, Mustard Gas and Nerve Gas, right on the premises. Parts of this valuable property glow at night from the conveniently located nuclear waste dump. Just think of the home power-generation possibilities!
If you can provide fresh water, your garden will be the envy of the latitude, what with the nourishing layer of free guano which covers every square kilometer of this sought-after getaway.
To learn more about the history of Johnston Atoll, check out the description of the property on the Center for Land Use Interpretation's site, or look at the description provided by the kind folks at Hickam AFB.
Beat ya to the hot tub!
Most Amazing Domino Chain Ever
When somebody takes a mildy entertaining monkeyshine and turns it into a five-minute narrative, with cliffhangers and narrow escapes, they deserve to be noticed. Thus, I present, the Most Amazing Domino Chain Ever Seen By Chai-Rista!
Nice hot cuppa Monkey King Jasmine Tea for my pal, Mrs. Keysunset.
The New Yorker has a poorly edited, but very interesting article on Wikipedia this week.
Piper David Muir, 42nd (The Royal Highland), Regiment of Foot, 1856.
Image found here.
The Irish Elk, in a nifty link-rich post, brings the sad news that the British Army is imposing a safety code on its pipers by, among other things, limiting practice time and requiring them to wear ear-plugs. Go on over and check it out.
Y'know, I can't help wondering whether this bunch of bureaucratic busybodies, for all their fussing about health and environmental issues, have even stopped to consider for an instant the impact their new regulations might have on the Army's very military effectiveness.
I mean, with all these new limitations and all, how ready for battle are the Queen's Own McKamikaze Highlanders going to be?
The feel good movie of the year
The genre of the re-cut movie trailer is getting better all the time. Here's the trailer to that classic romance/character feel-good movie, The Taxi Driver:
I vaguely remember a time when my blogging consisted of more than trolling youtube....
Happy Birthday, Thomas Eakins!
John Biglin in a Single Scull, 1873-74
Born this day in 1844 in Philadelphia, Eakins is no doubt the single most popular painter among those who've ever rowed crew and for obvious reasons. My knees still ache whenever I look at one of his works.
I'm having one of those days (the drywall leak repair came in at $350---it's not going to bust the bank, but it wipes out the Steve-O discretionary account for now). Cranky work stuff on top of it----some people have the temerity to get all pissy when I don't respond to their emails from, like, June. I mean, come on, I'm getting to it, 'kay?!?
Then Phin, "guest blogging" (if by guest blogging means the equivalent of letting a scamp of howler monkeys into the home for a fun afternoon of cage-rattling and dung-flinging over the curtains) over at Sadie's feels the need to do some Hassellhoff posting, entailing nasty pics of 'Hoff...
Life's too short---I'm going back to bed.
If you've ever thought our spats with INDC Bill need a theme song, boy howdy, do we have one for you!
If it were up to Robbo:
Of course, if it were up to Bill:
And if it were left to me:
Yips! from Robbo: I feel that some terrible, terrible frontier has been crossed here.....
YIPS from Steve: Like, perhaps, a final frontier?
YIPS BACK from Robbo: A piece of absolutely true trivia. Final Frontier was the movie the Missus and I watched on our very first (blind) date sixteen years ago. The punch line? She still married me. Conclusive proof, I've always thought, that she's completely bananas.
Where else? Gary the X-Donk, our very own Nutmeg politics blogger, who has the latest on the non-entity Republican running, and weird historical parallels pointing to why the constitution state politicians are basically sitting around on the porch, playing the banjo, and admiring Ned Beatty's mighty purty mouth.
MSM: Nobel Peace Prize Winner tells Aussie school kids "I want to kill George Bush," declares it "fiesty Irish spirit"
Could be worse, could have said, "Mrs. Seamus McPaddy was obviously drunk on filched sacremental wine."
The 12th is the......Drywall Anniversary
Sunday was the 12th Anniversary of The Dear One marrying waaaaaay below her station. As she is wont to say, marry a llama, and your life's never boring.
Early Sunday morning, I open the garage door to get a large bamboo pole to help stake up a tomato cage that was tipping under the weight of its gorgeous fruit. As the door creeped up the rails, the wonderful and unmistakable sound of falling sodden ceiling materials splattered at me, with a pronounced splatting much like an angry condor dropping Waffle House's finest on the roof of your new car. A quick tear upstairs and I found the leak on my first guess: the water line for the refrigerator was not pouring, but was definitely pouring forth its secrets like a disaffected CIA wannabe Kerry administration official to the New al-Jazeera Times. Gravity being what it is, the leak was right in the corner, and as luck would have it, it found a tiny hole easier than flowing back out onto the kitchen floor.
Fortunately, turning off the water did the trick, and we actually got the handyman dude on the phone, who had a guy out yesterday morning to fix the garage ceiling. Damage--not bad, considering. Of course, the Sears repairman is not due to come by until sometime after Labor Day. So who has worse service these days: Sears or Dell?
Anyhoo, other than the great refrigerator caper, anniversary was a lot of fun.
Mila Jovovich's latest movie, courtesy of Netflix.It has all the ingredients for the ideal LMC flick: babes, Mila's abs, high body count, great special effects and unburdened by anything that might remind you of a college English class, including a plot. Best watched with a beer and can be equally enjoyed with or wthout sound.
July 24, 2006
From Israel, with love
This piece on Israeli gels scrawling messages on artillery shells.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
T'other evening, I popped in th 1999 movie version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Well, all I can really say is that if you'll buy Calista Flockhart's treatment of the Bard, you'll buy anything. Also, sooper-sekret note to Shakesperian movie makers (yes, I'm talking to you, too, Branagh): THE RUDE MECHANICALS ARE THERE FOR CHEAP LAFFS, NOT AUDIENCE EDIFICATION ABOUT THE LIFE OF THE LITTLE GUY, DAMMIT. Thank you.
Seriously, tho, it was an interesting experience, given that not only did I study AMND in college, but I also played in a college production of it while in law school. (I was Lysander, the romantic hero. Of course.) It's been a while since I had my lines down cold, but I couldn't help thinking as I watched that somebody had been a little free and easy with the editing pen here.
And here's something else that occured to me as I watched. (Now bear with me here, because it gets a little complex.) I thought that Rupert Everett did at least a passable job as Oberon, but you know who'd be really cool to see in the role: Ciarán Hinds.
That's Ciarán Hinds.
Who he, you ask? Well, if you've followed HBO's pretty good Rome miniseries at all, he's the guy who plays Julius Caesar. And if you caught the second Lara Croft movie, which I did recently, he plays the bad guy whose name escapes me. (And just a side note about Cradle of Life: Okay, it's pretty lame. But it's Angelina Jolie in a skin-tight wetsuit. What the hell else do you want?)
Anyhoo, this Hinds fellah has such commanding eyes and such a reserved air of power about him that I'd love to see him as Oberon going up against Titania some time.
See? I think it would work.
So long as Titania was played by somebody other than Michelle Pfeiffer, that is.
So I sallied out yesterday and paid a dollar to see Kurt Russell in a wet tux shirt. Yes, I went to see the 2006 re-make of 1972's cheddar-fest, The Poseidon Adventure, tight-lippedly titled Poseidon.
To appreciate my mind-set as I went to the theater yesterday you have to understand just how much I love the cheesy goodness of the original movie. The cast of the original tended to the AARP demographic, but bygawd those peeps could climb a 90-foot Christmas tree like apes on chocolate-covered coffee beans. The original is a Truly Bad Film on an epic scale. I couldn't imagine how the re-make could top it.
But, as it turns out - they didn't try. The new film, Poseidon, doesn't go in for oldsters scaling holiday ephemera or opening the bottom of the boat with a Swiss Army knife attachment. (Maybe they didn't do that Swiss Army part in the original, but the way they got out was really stupid. I remember that!) No - the director went in for a more or less straight-on action adventure film with great special effects, unsettling visuals, and practically no character development. It's like Die Hard, but not as funny.
Only one aspect of this Film Going Experience annoyed me at all and it was this: Did you know that fires that start in an enclosed area on a cruise ship, never, ever create smoke? It's true! Shipboard fires are entirely smokeless, the better to see the pretty, pretty people make haste from here to there. And of course hacking up big wads of black phlegm is so Rescue Me.
I was hoping for a Truly Bad Film. Instead, I got a passably good, brainless, action feature. ok - I've got no problem with that. Especially for a dollar.
To read a professional review of Poseidon, check out Pete Vonder Haar's delightful review at Film Threat. Pull quote from Pete: "The whitest group of disaster survivors since that other ocean liner sank in 1912."
Roger Ebert Recovering from Cancer Surgery
Well, Twigs & Buds, I've had my head so deep in my own popcorn bag for the last few months that I didn't even know Roger Ebert was more sick than usual. I mean, anyone can look at him and see he isn't healthy, but I didn't know he'd had surgery for salivary gland cancer.
Apparently there were post-surgical complications that required more surgery and he's on an indefinite leave-of-absence from his show. (I love his show, but it's aired in my area at the exact same time I have to be out and about on my weekend - and I don't yet have TiVo!)
Anyway, Chase wrote a great Get Well Roger Ebert post you ought to read. Like Chase, I go back with Ebert to the pre-cable days of his partnership with Gene Siskel. Back then, I felt more in line with Siskel's critical framework. I thought Ebert liked movies "too much." That is, I accused him of loving movies simply because they were movies.
And he still comes off that way in my mind. Only now I love him for it. I love his eternal enthusiam for the form. I love his low-brow tastes. I love his open-heartedness and his dedication to a quality I'll call humaness. His writing is hilarious - he's witten some of the funniest reviews I've ever read. I love Roger Ebert! And I truly hope he's well enough to continue working soon.
Yips! from Robbo: My name's not "Bud", it's "Kenny".
Happy Birthday, Robert von Ranke Graves!
Born this day in 1895, Graves probably is most popularly known now for his I, Claudius and Claudius the God, thanks to the Masterpiece Theatre dramatization of those novels. Also of note is his Goodbye To All That, the extraordinary autobiography of the first part of his life, including his service in the trenches in World War I, during which he was badly wounded and given up for dead. Literary types will also remember him as one of the most notable poets of WWI, along with his close friend Siegfried Sassoon, although I have to confess I've never read more than a snippet of his poetry.
In fact, I mostly read Graves for his historical fiction, of which he wrote quite a bit. The list of novels (I've bolded the ones I've read) in his bibliography includes:
My Head! My Head! (1925)
The Real David Copperfield (1933)
Claudius the God (1934)
I, Claudius (1934)
Count Belisarius (1938)
Sergeant Lamb of the Ninth (1940)
Proceed, Sergeant Lamb (1941)
The Story of Marie Powell, Wife to Mr. Milton (1943)
The Golden Fleece (1944)
Hercules My Shipmate (1945)
King Jesus (1946)
Seven Days in New Crete (1949)
Watch the North Wind Rise (1949)
Homer's Daughter (1955)
Graves went out of his way to cast the language and flavor of each of these novels in the period of which it speaks. Thus, the substance and style of, say, Wife to Mr. Milton is completely different from that of Hercules, My Shipmate. For the most part, I think he did a very fine job of it.
Graves also wrote a good deal about Classical and pre-Classical civilizations in the Mediterranean; prehistoric, historic and modern religions; and about the art and psychology of writing itself. I made my way through The White Goddess, in which Graves propounds his theories about a pre-classical matriarchal social structure in the Med dominated by worship of the Goddess in her three manifestations as maiden, nymph and mother, and how elements of this structure survived (and survive) in more modern forms. I can't say that I really buy into these notions, but I find them extremely interesting nonetheless.
I just recently finished Watch The North Wind Rise, Graves' crack at futuristic science fiction. What fascinated me about it was how it took elements from virtually every other genre of Graves' work that I've read - historical fiction, religious theory, autobiography - and welded them together.
UPDATE: I've recently joined a very good "Quotation of the Day" email list thanks to my real life pal Bev. Today's quote is about Graves. Here is a section from his war poem "The Last Post":
The bugler sent a call of high romance --
"Lights out! Lights out!" to the deserted square.
On the thin brazen notes he threw a prayer,
"God, if it's this for me next time in France...
O spare the phantom bugle as I lie
Dead in the gas and smoke and roar of guns,
Dead in a row with the other broken ones
Lying so stiff and still under the sky,
Jolly young Fusiliers too good to die.
Lots to do today. I'm also supposed to head out of town this afternoon to attend a deposition tomorrow morning. If it isn't quashed or postponed, as the deponent asked over the weekend. Which I may not find out until after the time I'm supposed to catch my plane. Yes, it's gonna be that kind of day.
So don't expect much from me. Instead, scroll on down. Given all the problems Moo Knew has been having recently, I'm sure there are some posts here you haven't read yet.
UPDATE: Depo postponed. Now I have to make the rounds and undo all the airline and hotel reservations I made. This has been one seriously strange day.
UPDATE DEUX: Ya know, with all the penalties I'm getting for cancelling so abruptly at the last minute, it might have made more sense just to take a joy ride out for the night.
July 22, 2006
Happy Birthday, Edward Hopper!
Lighthouse and Buildings, Portland Head, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, 1927
Born this day in 1882. Here's a nifty scrapbook of the man's life and works put out by the Smithsonean.
Most of what you'll read about Hopper's work concerns the "isolation of life" he depicted around him. I happen to enjoy his work not so much for this "meaning" but for the fantastic way he makes use of light and shape, particularly in his landscapes such as this one. The way he depicts the sunlight filling the sky and reflecting off the sea here makes my eyes squint involuntarily.
Gratuitous Civil War Posting
Basil Seal notes that on this day in 1975, Congress voted to restore the United States citizenship of Robert E. Lee.
I've never written much about Lee here, although I've read a tremendous amount about him. I will just say this: I'm neither one of those who thinks he walked on water, nor am I in the camp that thinks he should roast for eternity in the very lowest level of hell. Instead, I've always felt tremendously sorry for him. The interplay of character and circumstances that propelled him into leadership of the Confederate army is a story that could have come straight out of classical Greek tragedy.
Speaking of such things, be sure and check out our pal GroovyVic in her big screen role of the Belle of Lexington.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Kitchen Update
Well, Old Mr. Fridge, who had taken up temporary residence in the library, has been given the cliff, replaced this morning by New Mr. Fridge. Unfortunately, NMF must bunk in the dining room for now because the retiling of the kitchen floor is still behind schedule. (For those of you keeping track, it turns out that the handyman did not whack his hand with the sledge getting old tile out. Instead, a piece of shrapnel from the old tile caught him across the back of his hand and partially severed a tendon. Nothing permanent, fortunately.)
Anyhoo, we're beginning to get forward: the first two rows of new tile went in yesterday afternoon. It's a nice terra-cotta and will be a welcomed change from the dingy old dirt-white that we used to have. Alas, not everybody is happy about it: the eight year old took one look, sniffed and remarked that we were going to have to repaint the kitchen walls because their current color wouldn't go with the new tile. The infuriating thing is that she's right.
UPDATE: Handyman is just about done grouting the tile where NMF will go, so we'll be able to roll him over to his permanent home shortly. Then the question will be whether we can figure out how to hook up the water/ice-maker doo-hickey.
UPDATE DEUX: NMF has landed.
July 21, 2006
Just because it's Friday, and you're slacking today anyway, I thought I'd pass on the unique opportunity to equip your cellphone to completely wig-out everyone within ear-shot. Yes - you too can spread dread and angst by merely receiving a call on your cell phone while in the diner, Target, the local AA meeting or a parent-teacher conference.
David Lynch is selling bizarre and strife-inducing ringtones from his website. You have to hear to believe them.
But wait! That's not all! If you click to his home page now, you can hear David give a weather report from L.A.. Just click on Daily Weather Report.
Mutual of Omaha's YouTube
I'll stand downstream while JohnL wrestles the slug-eating tortoise to the ground.
Well, you can argue that Nick Saban is on the way to building a quality Dolphins franchise, or you can fret about yet another missed playoffs season.
Me? I take the line of Carol Burnett's old Bag Lady character: "I been hurt a lot."
Johnny's Gone HughesNet
Anybody who read Truly Bad Films knows I live in the country. I'm on the top of a small ridge in central Virginia, which is surrounded by larger mountains in three directions. Mostly, it's a great place to live. But it's not a great place to get on the internet. There's no broadband available in our area, so we're stuck with dialup over lines that literally crackle with moisture every time it rains. When I see that DirecWay ad for satellite internet on my satellite t.v. I get all tingly.
A friend of mine who also lives in the sticks looked into getting DirecWay - now called HughesNet - and came by my office hyperventilating from the thin air at the top of their steep pricing. I could be wrong, but I think she said it was a $600 installation plus $50.00 a month. She told the HughesNet pusherman to take a hike.
But now Johnny Virgil has taken on the expedition to the top of the internet-access food chain and gotten internet satellite installed. At the moment he's lovin' it. But a few of his commentors say this is all pride before the fall.
What do you folks say? Has anyone out there got a DirecWay/HughesNet story to share? Tingly parts want to know . . .
Gratuitous Civil War Posting
"There stands Jackson like a stone wall. Rally behind the Virginians!" - Gen. Barnard Bee
Today is the anniversary, in 1861 of the First Battle of Bull Run (or, if you prefer, First Manassas), the first major engagement of the Civil War. Basically a clash of amateurs, the day ended in a stunning Union defeat and panicked retreat, made even worse by the numerous tourons who came out from Washington to watch what they thought would be an easy mopping up of the Confederate forces.
As I've mentioned before, the First Bull Run battlefield is an excellent place for first time battlefield visitors. It is small enough that one can see virtually all of it from any one position. In addition, despite the cancerous growth in northern Prince William County, the battlefield itself and its immediate environs remain pretty much the way they looked one hundred and forty five years ago.
Commuter-Thought Inspired Update: Of course, the weather 'round Dee Cee in July, 1861 was just as beastly as it is now. I've got a half-hour non-air conditioned car ride and a fifteen minute walk each way on my commute. I'm dressed in a nice, light cotton shirt and khakis and usually just carry my blazer. I am utterly burnt out after a few days of this. Just imagine what it must have been like for these men in their heavy wool uniforms and God knows how many pounds of equipment on their backs force-marching in this kind of heat and then having to go into battle. It's utterly mind-boggling when you stop to think about it.
When I gripe about the heat, I know somewhere deep down that I'm just being a wuss.
July 20, 2006
Gratuitous Porch Post
For my last birthday my sister sent me a wooden tray with four legs, a tail and a pig's head. (Friends of hers asked, "Don't you like your sister?") Pep and I have collected some weird pig-paraphernalia over the years to decorate the BBQ Compound, but this has to be the oddest addition yet. Here you can see the glorious pig tray from a head-on perspective:
And here is the pig tray in silhouette:
The tray part of the pig is about 8" wide and slightly concave. When I first beheld it, I thought it was supposed to be a serving tray for Hawaiian-style BBQ. But, somehow that didn't seem likely. So, Mr. Pig Tray became a plant support for the porch.
Later, Sissy somehow discovered two more of these priceless objects d'art: a second adult pig tray and a baby pig tray. She gave these to me a couple of months ago and now I'm trying to decide how best to use two more pig trays.
So help a sister out, Llama readers! Do you have creative, unusual, or artisitc ideas for me to use with my other pig trays? Put 'em in the coments!
(And don't suggest I trash my beautiful pigs!!!)
Public Service Announcement
Pay attention to the instructions the Red Cross gives you about what to do, and not do, after donating blood. Failure to do so may lead to loss of consciousness while having dinner in a restaurant with one's in-laws and embarrassing examination by EMS summoned by the management. That is all.
YIPS from Steve: Are you sure it wasn't a case of the vapors?
July 19, 2006
It seems we're only the fifth Google search hit for modern major general llama song.
This doesn't strike me as right. Lessee......
I am the very model of a modern major camelid
I've information llamatoid plus facts galore alpacanid,
I know a range of orgles and can utter yips! incredible,
And always save my spit for use on cretins antithetical.
La-da-dee, la-da-dah and whatever the hell else you want to put into it.
UPDATE: And why not? Everybody knows that llamas make excellent guards.
Sixes and Sevens Watch
Owing to the ongoing retiling project in the kitchen at Orgle Manor, the soon-to-be-ex-refridgerator has taken up temporary abode in the library. It is a decidedly discombolulating sight. Not half so discombolulating as things would have been, however, had we not discovered the very large dry-rot hole in the under-flooring which the 'fridge had sat over previously. No telling when it might have decided to head south for the basement.
Meanwhile, our handyman has discovered that although it's easy enough to get the old tile off the kitchen floor itself, the tile in the adjacent laundry room (which we're also doing), set as it is on a concrete slab, practically requires high explosives in order to be removed. The poor guy has been at it with a sledge-hammer for two days now and still isn't even half way done.
Bang goes the schedule (and the budget, probably). With the new fridge and freezer showing up on Saturday, I'm not quite sure what we're going to do.
UPDATE: The latest nooz flash is that our handyman managed to whack himself on the hand with the sledge today (I've no idea how) and may need minor surgery. Is the house trying to tell us something? UUUEERRGGGHH!! Leave my ratty early 70's kitchen tile in peeeeeeace!!!!
That's My Church!
Liberal Christians seem to agree that the man who got the most things wrong was St. Paul. It seems that Jesus founded a simple religion of everyone being nice to each other and tolerant of everything, and right away, as luck would have it, this cranky Paul fellow came along and mucked everything up, and the Church has been haywire ever since, especially on matters of sex and the sexes. I’ll bet you won’t hear Bishop Jefferts Schori purring approvingly of “Mother Paul”! “Wicked Stepfather Paul,” maybe.
Ain't it the truth?
At a recent Vestry meeting, we were discussing the very noticable drop in attendance at services in my own Church since the summer of 2003. (A trend mirrored on the national level.) It just so happens that the beginning of this slide corresponded with the General Convention of that year, which started the current civil war within the ECUSA. However, nobody wanted to make a causal link. Instead, there was some awfully breath-taking rationalization. People are just tired of the traditional service, see? Sunday Morning Church is becoming passe, especially in these times when everyone is suddenly so busy. Instead, they're showing up for other activities like discussion groups. We should look on this as good news because it means people are relying on the Church for a greater variety of spiritual resources! Yeah, that's the ticket! So what do we do? Offer even more! Oh, and the services themselves? We should start trying different kinds, appealing thereby to various niche interests! (The Assistant Rector in particular seems mad keen on trying some kind of Celtic service.)
God give me strength......
Mac Tech Bleg
How do you convert wav files copied onto a Windows machine to play on Media Player so that you can play them using itunes?
Don't tell me I have to re-copy all those durn disks...
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Blegging
What's Up, Doc? (1972)
I don't have much to say by way of review here except that I believe this is a very funny screwball comedy. This despite the fact that Barbra Streisand's adorable-spunky shtick always makes me wish I had a brick handy. Or perhaps two.
Instead, I wanted to mention something that caught my eye on the DVD. At the end of the movie, Ryan O'Neil and Streisand are flying out of San Francisco together and a cartoon comes on the plane's movie screen. In keeping with the name of the movie, it's that little Vaudeville routine that Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd do, ending with them singing "What's up, doc?" and dancing together. ( I'm sure if you've seen it, you know exactly what I'm talking about: "We weally mean it! What's.......Up.........Dooooooooooooc!!!")
Now granted it's been a while since I'd last seen this movie, but I seem to remember from previous viewings that the cartoon started at the point where Bugs sticks his carrot in the end of Fudd's shotgun, sets it off with a huge explosion and then spritzes Fudd with seltzer water, before they go into their song and dance combo. (While Bugs is doing all this to Elmer, he's singing, "Hey! Look out! Stop! You're gonna hurt someone/with that ol' shotgun! Hey, what's up, doc?") On the DVD, though, the cartoon starts with the duet itself, omitting the earlier violent bit and Bug's solo.
Am I just imagining things or was the DVD edited to take out the gun reference?
So that no old soldier goes his grave unmourned
Melissa's Crush on Phinneas
plus the take on Jennifer's latest post-Brad-pronouncement. Courtesy of Special Agent Bedhead.
Prize winning pic
American children preparing for air evacuation at our embassy in Lebanon, from the local fish-wrapper.
July 18, 2006
Gratuitous Dog Days Touron Griping
You Are Here. Go Home.
Y'know, sometimes I almost like INDCent Bill.
Llama Robbo's Top Ten Dee Cee Metro Hints
10. Metro escalators are specially designed so you and your friends can stand side by side. A lot of money went into getting the width right. Take advantage of it.
9. Prizes are given for the best imitation of the "Please stand clear of the doors - Thank you," voice. Keep trying - you could be the next winner! UPDATE: Metro has recently installed new chimes on many of its cars. Prizes are also being awarded for the most enthusiastic "ding! ding! ding!"
8. Every local commuter keeps a running tab in their head of the number of stops left until the Smithsonian. Feel free to ask as often as you like - they keep track so you don't have to!
7. Don't believe those signs that say you can't exit a Metro parking lot without a Smartrip card. Just tool on up to the gate and wait. It'll open. Trust me.
6. Metro trains travel both above and below ground but a surprising number of local residents are unaware of this. Be sure to remind them whenever your train enters or exits a tunnel.
5. Everybody wants to know about Mary-Jo's hysterectomy!
4. For national security reasons, do not begin fishing around in your purse or pocket for your farecard until you actually reach the turnstile. Cards readied in hand before you get there will be confiscated by the WMATA Transit Police.
3. Scrambling in or out of a car before the doors slam shut is the only excitement most local commuters get in our otherwise boring days. Don't make it any less challenging by getting out of the way or moving your luggage.
2. Farecard machines will not accept any currency larger than a nickel. Be sure to get plenty of change before attempting to purchase a card.
1. There's always room for one more person!
Learn it. Live it. Love it.
UPDATE: Behold the power of the Dark Side. On the Metro this evening, a fourteen or fifteen year old kid imitating the door chimes. Falsetto, no less.
Gratuitous Code Red Commuter Observation
I've noted before my belief that the United States should establish a new summer capitol, preferably someplace cool and pleasant like, say, Seattle.
Bet there are some folks 'round here kicking themselves they didn't listen to me.
July 17, 2006
Someday, there will be a tee-vee show about the Bonny Glenn, and you'll be dining out on how you used to read the blog before it became big and famous.
Phinneas Blogbody, RIP
Phin, we hardly knew ye. Rest in peace, dearheart.
If the U.S. Army did this, the leftoids would be screaming "war crime!"
It could be magic for some, but the use of loud Barry Manilow music to drive away late-night revelers from a suburban Sydney park is getting on the nerves of nearby residents.
In a move reminiscent of U.S. efforts to drive former Panama strongman Manuel Noriega from the Vatican Embassy where he took refuge in 1989, the local council in Rockdale, in Sydney's southern suburbs, started a six-month trial of high-volume hits by Manilow and Doris Day to chase away car enthusiasts who were gathering on weekend nights at Cook Park Reserve.
"Barry's our secret weapon," Rockdale Deputy Mayor Bill Saravinovski told The Daily Telegraph newspaper, four weeks after the start of the effort. "It seems to be working."
But some people living near the park are less than enthralled. They say the barrage of "Copacabana," "Could It Be Magic" and "Que Sera Sera," blasting from 9 p.m. to midnight every Friday, Saturday and Sunday is driving them crazy.
"I don't know how I will cope," said Moya Dunn, describing how the songs have invaded her house. "I just can't sleep when it's on, and to think there's going to be another six months of this."
The irony is that it's disrupting a bunch of The Fast and the Furious wannabes.
Now, if the Australian government truly wanted to double down their bet and make sure the young punks would never want to get near a car again, they'd use this:
This, of course, would accomplish the goal with certain unintended side effects:
Not only would it drive away the young bloods, it would sterilize all stray dogs for kilometers.
So it's got the Bob Barker seal of approval to boot!
My fav of hers, for no particular reason. She was in town last month and played to a decent-sized crowd, a concert I missed because of drill. She is an Eighties rocker like Cyndi Lauper, still out there, still doing her thing.
And this affects me how?
Bottom news story of the day.
Dawn of the Dead
Uh...Don't quite know what to make of this "You Can Sleep When You Are Dead" ad from Folgers (click on the link, then click on the tee vee at lower right), except that it's a might creepifying.
Yips! to Eloise the Spitbull, who reports the ad seems to be getting good feedback.
Snakes In Eden
Samuel L. Jackson to voice God in a new audio recording of the Bible? Heck, I'd buy it:
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, there are too many, m*ther, f*ckin' snakes in this garden!
Oooh, I'm going to the hot place, aren't I.
UPDATE: Well, at least Ace'll get there first.
"The Father of English Hymnody"
Happy Birthday, Isaac Watts. Born this day in 1674, Watts wrote something in the neighborhood of 600 hymns, many of which are still in the book. From my personal experience, they are uniformly sublime.
I remember a story I read when I was a boy about a battle during the American Revolution - I want to say it was Princeton- during which the Continentals started running low on the paper wadding to hold the charges and bullets in their muskets until fired. Apparently, a patriotic clergyman dashed into a nearby church, scooped up a hand-full of hymnals and passed them out to the troops, yelling, "Give 'em Watts, boys!"
UPDATE: Well, my memory was slightly imperfect but not seriously flawed:
The incident I was thinking of was the Battle of Springfield, NJ in 1780. The fiery clergyman involved was one James Caldwell. The Church Militant, indeed.
Yips! to my real-life pal Bev for the original tip.
Happy Birthday, Peter Schickele!
Born this day in 1935. Here's the O-fficial website, no doubt hosted by the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, the epicenter of modern P.D.Q Bach research.
From Schikele's introductory remarks on his P.D.Q. Bach at Carnegie Hall album:
I'm sure that many of you know that Robert Schumann, on first becoming acquainted with the music of Brahms, wrote in his magazine, "Hats off, Gentlemen, a genius"
In the next issue, before the publication of which the music of P.D.Q. Bach became known to him, he wrote, "Hats back on, Gentlemen, an idiot."
Schikele's genius with the P.D.Q. Bach franchise is that he is able, owing to his own musical gifts, to play out the humor on so many different levels. There's plenty of slap-stick, of course, but there's also a great deal more humor on much deeper musical levels as well. In short, he's managed to achieve a near universal appeal.
If you've only heard of P.D.Q., you might not know that Schikele also writes serious music. Unfortunately, I've never actually heard any of it, so I can't say what I think about it.
Finally, if you're interested in music - not just classical, but all kinds - and you haven't done so before, I heartily recommend that you try and catch Schikele Mix, Schikele's radio show. The other side of his genius is his gift for teaching - one can learn more from listening to one hour session of this show than one can from an entire semester of college-level music appreciation.
Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.
Boldly going where no man has gone before: poolside with James T. Kirk.
The Star Fleet issue bathrobe is priceless.
Raiders of the Lost Llama
We're having the kitchen floor at Orgle Manor retiled this week. Apparently, upon moving the 'fridge out this morning, our handyman stumbled across a veritable treasure-trove of old Llama-ette mementi, including lost birthday cards, photos and various child-craft whatnot. The Missus is in paradise - this stuff should keep her revising scrapbooks for days.
Who knows what they'll find when they move the washer and dryer? Hopefully, neither snakes nor Nazis will be involved.
Gratuitous Llama Mass-Marketing Victim Observation
I am O-fficially sick to death of seeing ads for Will Ferrell's new movie Talladega Nights pasted all over creation. Sick. Sick. Sick.
And let me just pass this on to the movie's creators: I gather this is an attempt to send up Nascar, but let me tell you that your first shot goes wide: "Ricky Bobby" is no Southern redneck name - it's a poor Blue State clunker of a parody of a Southern redneck name. I've got no brief for Nascar Nation, but this sort of thing rankles - if you're going to lampoon something, do it right.
Random Commuter Thoughts
I wonder if there are any gov'mint postings open on the Ross Ice Shelf at the moment.
Too darn hot, I tell ya.
UPDATE: In the timely coincidences department, Basil Seal posts on the history of seersucker.
July 16, 2006
Note to self
Ways to spike the mf'ing traffic on an otherwise slow and hot July weekend: get genial yet cranky co-blogger to write about potential conversation to Catholicism after cute yet cantankerous cat blogging.
I mean, all we need are some gratuitous suggestions that we have steamy nekkid pics of Weather Channel Nooz Babes and we've got the link-whore trifecta.
UPDATE: DANG! Someone stole my new web bidness idea...
H/T to Tomas
July 15, 2006
Israel is playing by "Chicago Rules"
72-hour ultimatum, via The Sandcrawler. Radio C-SPAN covered a press conference of the French ambassador to the U.N. where there was much discussion of "proportionality" and "restraint" applied, of course, to Israel. Lost in the all of the hand-wringing is a crucial fact of life in an army at war--every soldier fights with this as a given: your buddies will NOT leave you behind. If you get grabbed by the bad guys, whatever the circumstances and the consequences, your fellow soldiers will do whatever it takes to get you back and if that means invading neighboring countries, so be it. We lost sight of that in the Eighties when Marine Lt. Col. Rich Higgins was grabbed by Hezbollah and eventually executed--it was a U.N. peacekeeping operation, State Department had the lead, etc. We remembered it and took it to heart by 2003 which is why we used the assets we did to get Jessica Lynch back. All of this talk about proportionality and restraint is meaningless when it comes to soldiers in the hands of the enemy. Your response needs to be swift, massive, ugly, and very disproportionate so that the bad guys will think twice about about trying it again. Moral of the story: (as aptly put by a caller to one of the radio shows): Play by Chicago Rules: (as explained by Sean Connery in The Untouchables) "if they put one of yours in the hospital, you put one theirs in the morgue."
Gratuitous Conquistadore Posting
Scribal Terror links to an article suggesting that the plague which wiped out the Aztec Empire at the time of Cortez's landing might not have been the smallpox or typhus generally assumed to have been imported by the Spaniards, but in fact a native virus unleashed by the particular climate conditions in Mexico at the time.
I'm sure the record heat and drought that the article argues facilitated the virus's outbreak is Dubya's fault somehow or other.
Who says economics is the "dismal science"? It's all simply a question of how you go about visualizing the math.
Those Darned Cats
As I sit here in front of the computer upstairs, I can hear one of the cats literally dancing on the piano keyboard downstairs. I am so sick of those animals.
In the two weeks the Missus and the Llama-ettes have been gone, both of the cats have followed me about the house with ever-increasing frequency, loudly demanding my attention. For the past week, the mooing has been almost non-stop.
For a while, I thought it rayther droll that cats should be displaying such dog-like affection, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is not a proper comparison.
You see, when a dog follows you about, he's usually thinking, "Hey, we're buddies, right? 'Cos I really like you. Yeah. Hey, is there anything I can do? You know, help out? Seriously, tho', you're really cool. I really like hanging out with you. Yeah. Oh, hey - wanna play some catch? Or tug of war? Whatever you want, that's great with me. 'Cos we're buds. Oh boy, do I like it when you scratch my stomach. You are the Man!"
A cat, on the other hand, is usually thinking, "Pet me, you son of a bitch. And consider yourself lucky I'm not bigger than you."
Dogs love, cats use. And I don't like being used.
Man, am I sick of those animals.
July 14, 2006
Gratuitous Llama Religious Blegging
Friends, I need your input.
As many of you know, my own Episcopal Church is on a course for self-destrution.
As regular readers also know, I've been flirting with the idea of going back to Rome for some time now.
Of course, this is bound to raise some issues. For instance, Mom was born Catholic, but left the Church in her youth. Despite the fact that I gained most of my old-school Episcopalian impulses from her, she has told me repeatedly that she could never go back to Rome.
On the other hand, the Missus comes from a Jewish family. While she became an Episcopalian, she could never imagine either herself or her children becoming Catholic.
Well, I'm fine with all of that. I'm sure it could all be worked out one way or another, should I join the Church.
But here's the thing. Well, two things, actually:
First, I don't think I'm good enough to become a Catholic. This may seem silly, but I am so conscious of my own religious shortcomings and of the Church's, well, depth, that I truly wonder whether I am being serious in musing about joining it. Most of my Catholic friends have a spiritual strength far beyond anything I can imagine in myself. I have no real problem with surrendering portions of my autonomy to the Vatican, but I don't yet know if they are the right bits, or really worth it in the eyes of Rome.
Second, I can't help wondering if my affinity for Rome isn't in some part similar to my Anglophilia. You see, I love all things related to the Mother Country, but I'm also keenly aware that much of what I cherish no longer exists and when it did exist, did not do so in quite the stylized manner that I like to remember in my more sentimental moments. I worry that the same standard applies to my affinity for Catholicism: I love the old masses and Monteverdi's religious solos and duets, for example, literally make me cry. But at the same time, my experiences with more modern Catholic worship have made me shudder, being, as they were, infected with the same sprit of with-it modernism that I abhore.
So what do I do? I can't join a Church I at once don't consider myself good enough to join and at the same time am questioning whether it in itself is actually worth joining. At the same time, I cannot deny the reality of what I feel when I come face to face with God on the Church's terms. And, with respect to the issue of conversion, as far as I can tell, there aren't very many other options for me.
What's a pilgrim to do.
UPDATE: Note to self: Ix-nay on the ate night Papist posting l-lay. It looks like religious beer-goggling in the morning.
UPDATE DEUX: Speaking of such things, Ith posts a link to this site which hosts a list of conservative Episcopal parishes, a rag-tag fugitive fleet fleeing from the ECUSA tyranny. Among the NoVA churches, I've heard a good bit about The Falls Church. Indeed, I believe several parishoners from my own church have gone over there. I've also been to Truro a few times. Don't much care for it - too many "Turn or Burn" t-shirts and too much hugging. Also, a drum set by the alter is always a huge black mark in my book.
UPDATE TROIS: Many thanks to everybody who left comments, both here and in the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack.
I see that I expressed myself badly about one point - I'm not really worried about whether I'm "good" enough. Rayther, I should have said I was concerned about being "serious" enough in my musings or whether I was just Pope-goggling. There are plenty of good reasons to join a Church, but also a lot of very bad ones. I don't yet know whether my reasons would be good enough a) because I haven't even clearly articulated those reasons yet and b) because I frankly don't know enough about Rome to satisfy myself that it would have the answers to my concerns. I suppose that's why they hold classes.
Anyhoo, that's closer to what I meant to say.
Gratuitous Anti-Bastille Day Posting
The Irish Elk chooses this day to toast Marie Antoinette (whose biography by Antonia Fraser I'm just starting, btw). I'll join in that toast, too, with a glass or two of the Beaujolais Morgon I've got open for tonight's din-dins.
Poor, dear woman. Here's a post I wrote which touches on her love for a particular symphony of Haydn's, as related during her pre-murder imprisonment in the Temple. And as I've said before, the fact that she lost her head because of Pittsburg, of all things, just makes it all that much worse.
Vive La Reine!
We're off for the weekend to Shrine Mont, a fun-filled weekend with the family doing not much of anything other than run around, sit on the porch with friends, and commune with nature.
We were up there two weeks ago for th 4th of July which turned out to be just the ticket---low key, good music, and lot of fun. Turns out our neighbors went too (in an unplanned sort of way) and we had a multi-family picnic on the lawn all afternoon. Good stuff. Next year---we'll have the Robbo LLamabutcher family there too, hopefully!
I leave you in the capable hooves of Robbo, the LMC, Chai-Rista, and any of the other sundry 9 or 10 people who have keys to Stately LLama Manor.
MEMO TO THE SCOTTISH DWARF: That's your cue, buddy....
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
The last entry in my Temporary Bachelorhood Barbarian Film Festival, I realized shortly after I popped this in the DVD player that I had seen it already. A little while later, I realized why I was supressing the memory - what a dog of a film. No imagination, no humor, no camp spirit, no revelling in its own silliness. And not even anything like real action to carry it along.
And as for acting? Well, it's pretty clear that Ahnold's Conan still holds the Barbarian Hero crown and that he has nothing to fear either from Kevin Sorbo's Kull or The Rock's Scorpion King. But Jaysus, here Sorbo makes The Rock look like Laurence Olivier. No doubt about it, ladies and gentlemen, Sorbo is the back marker of the lot.
O, Tempora! O, Mores! Watch
It all started in fine non-literary style: with Colin Firth. The scene in the 1995 television adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in which Colin got his shirt wet was, almost certainly, the moment that opened the door and let the modern world in upon the quiet, oil-lit writing desk at Chawton Cottage. And when Firth played Mark Darcy in the film of Bridget Jones's Diary, the deal was sealed: Pride and Prejudice was on its way to fame and fortune.
The book was voted second in the BBC's The Big Read and first in the Woman's Hour Watershed Fiction poll, designed to find the novel that has most changed the lives of women. Last year it was turned into a blockbuster film. What on earth would Jane Austen have made of it all?
Well, she would certainly have laughed - "I dearly love a laugh," says Elizabeth Bennet, in the voice of her creator - and she would have enjoyed all the money, because nobody was more aware of its importance. Elizabeth and her sister Jane might have charm to spare, plus wit and good temper to keep fear of the future at bay, but their genteel poverty means that the men who marry them are not just lovers; they are personal relief missions from lives beyond contemplation.
And this acute alertness to the significance of money - to the humiliating gulf between the shillings that buy Elizabeth's hair ribbons and Darcy's £30,000 a year - is just one of the many aspects of Jane Austen that has been lost to a contemporary audience. Nowadays Darcy's money simply adds to his all-round desirability: it's really great for Elizabeth that she has fallen for a rich guy, and it's great that he's so into her too.
Jane Austen might not mind about this. She might shrug and write a new book, about people who read novels without understanding a word of them. But she would surely think that her work - so finely wrought, so literary - was drowning in the swamp of so much love.
Jane Austen as chick-lit. Insert shudder here.
Mind you, this isn't all the fault of Hollywood and Madison Avenue. The high-brows are also to blame for not keeping up the side. Walk into the average English Department at most liberal arts schools and you won't get a grounding in Austen's style, structure and substance. Instead, you'll get bombarded with deconstructionist interpretations of Mr. Knightly as cultural imperialist or crypto-feminist screeds about how Austen was really a closet lesbian. Buh-lieve me, I've been there.
The mob is never going to know or care about Austen's writing. But nobody's really teaching those who can and should know better why they should appreciate her work for what it is and not be seduced by the kind of shallow treatment Ms. Thompson bewails. To me, this is the real issue.
Yips! to Basil Seal.
Gratuitous Llama Book Review
A War like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War by Victor Davis Hanson.
I'm still only half way through this book, but I nonetheless feel that I can sum up my opinion of it now.
As regular readers know, I'm a great fan of Hanson. I read his articles in NRO and elsewhere all the time. I thoroughly agree with most of his GWOT analyses. I am an enthusiastic supporter of his arguments that Jarod Diamond's theories that Western cultural hegemony is based on environmental resources aren't worth a load of fetid dingo's kidneys.
In addition, I have a number of his other books on military history in general (Ripples of Battle and Carnage and Culture), as well as Classical Greek warfare in particular (The Wars of the Ancient Greeks, The Landmark Thucydides, for which VDH wrote the introduction). The man obviously knows and loves his subject.
In short, I like Hanson's work.
Which makes it all the more painful to say this: AWLNO, although meticulously researched and full of fascinating information, is in need of some serious. serious editing. It is rambling and repetitive. It skips and wanders, sometimes hammering on a point and sometimes setting one up but never making it. Chapters and sections sometimes just seem to stop, without any particular conclusion being drawn. Even individual paragraphs shift course midway through.
Also, it seems as if VDH never quite decided whether this was going to be simply a detailed account of the Peloponnesian Wars or a more expansive discourse on the parallels between those wars and modern military questions. He certainly sets out a number of relevant subject areas - armor, terrorism, guerrilla tactics, mission creep and home-front morale, for example - but while examining them in depth in his Greek examples, he only throws in the occassional modern reference here and there. It strikes me he should either have expanded on these or else taken them out of the text altogether.
In short, while this book is extremely interesting, it reads to me much like a work in progress, an advanced rough draft that still has several rewrite cycles to get through before it emerges as the polished final product it could be.
Will I finish it? Sure. But I'll do so for the subject matter, not the presentation.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division
Damn her! Damn her! Damn her!
The @#$()*)%*@(#%*@# deer continues to invade my garden. Remember how I put up some rope and shiny cut outs where she'd been coming over the fence? Well, now she's simply swung around to another side.
I say "she" because I know exactly who's doing this: she's a doe, a yearling or maybe a two year old. She hangs around with an older doe (probably her mother) who also has a fawn this year. The three of them come strolling in often around 7:30 PM or so and while Mom and the kid loiter around outside, she hops the fence.
What's even more infuriating is that this nasty beyotch has abandoned her earlier practice of razing individual plants and has started going around and nibling the buds and new growth off of damn near everything. Did you know deer would eat gladiola buds? Neither did I. Did you know deer would eat joe-pye weed? News to me, too. As for the coneflowers, well, I've got too many purples for her to get all of them, but the white coneflower has yet to get a single bud all the way to flowering. Clematis? Stripped. Columbine? Razed. Black-eyed susans? Never recovered from her earlier depredations. Hydrangia? She's working her way down the back fence, stripping any branches hanging over it. Blackberry lily? Well, she's not eating this, but she keeps stepping on it to get at other plants. Same with the yarrow. And the daisies.
When I think of all the work I've put into that plot and of the way that it really is beginning to mature, and when I walk out in the evening after a long day at the office and see the latest signs of her visitation, well, I honestly want to cry in despair.
Damn her! Damn her! Damn her!
So what to do? Well, I'm going to run my rope and shiny things rig all the way around for now. If that doesn't stop her, I don't see much choice other than to run up more permanent embattlements of wood and chicken wire. I know there are those of you who recommend various sprays and what-not, but what with the constant need for re-application, that runs into a fair amount of time and money. Also, you have to remember that the deer around here have no natural predators and are not hunted. As a result, they have become extremely bold. I doubt that any concoction designed to frighten them off would work very long. The only thing for it is to make it too difficultfor them to get in.
UPDATE: Well, the new line with tin-foil covered pieces of balsa wood is up. I can tell you right here and now that the Missus is going to take one look at it when she gets home and demand that I put in something less ugly. Guess it's going to be six feet of deer fencing all the way around after all. On the other hand, I'm beginning to think that this might be set off by a nice trellis arbor over the entrance, perhaps with some honeysuckle on it......
By the way, I heartily agree with those of you who have remarked on the tastiness of venison. In fact, venison sausage is the very best I've ever had.
Bow hunting is permitted in my neighborhood. So if any of you want to drop on by and try your luck, feel free. All I ask is a couple o' pounds of venison in the event you get one.
I'm Steve the LLamabutcher, and I'm a Trutherer to the core
Plus, word was going to leak out eventually what I've really been up to the past 3 weeks I was absent from the blog. And apparently my "oh help, I've been locked out of my blog" is such a lame cover story that inquiring minds are trying to get at the truth. Long time reader "Don" sends news that the Huntsville AL newspaper has the story:
All things considered, a pretty good likeness, and man, did that tracking chip attached to my ear hurt like a bitch. But when Old Man Rumsfeld decided it was time to go and spit Osama in the eye, durn if the brass didn't take him literally...
This is going to backfire
Via Drudge: Valerie and hubby Ambassador Joe filed suit in U.S. District Court against the Vice President, "Dark Lord of the Sith" Rove, and Scooter Libby. The complaint is at The Smoking Gun. It reads like a press release. Discovery cuts both ways and it will be an excellent vehicle for pinning Joe down on his many versions of what happened, the fact his wife has not been in a covert position for a number of years, she pulled strings to send him to Niger, the British still stick by the yellowcake story, she voluntarily retired from the CIA, Wilson's connections to the Kerry campaign, and the money they are making flogging this story. Libby's legal team has a predeliction for playing offense so it should quite a show.
YIPS from Steve: Rove, you magnificent bastard! Insert evil laughter here...
John McCain, the new Dem web video, and other treats
so surf on over to the X-Donk.
July 13, 2006
Questions about software and hardware
Building on the earlier post about switching to the Mac platform, I have some questions (from the Dear One, mainly) about media options. What is/are the best way/s to transfer video onto the machine? I'm talking VHS (the wedding video, of course), as well as stuff from the camera (which is @6 years old and records on smaller tapes, but tape nonetheless).
Also, we're in the market for a digital camera: basically for family stuff as well as the blog. I'd like one with a powerful battery and sharp ability to focus in, as well as go wide (the one we used to have until it got boosted was deficient in both regards). Does it make sense to get something that combines stills and full video?
Any guidance would be appreciated.
(The Dear One came around to the efficacy of getting a digital camera by the fine folks at Masondixonknitting. The Dear One is a big knitter and needlepointer [like blue ribbon best in show at the county fair type craftee) and she's a huge fan of Ann and Kay's shenanigans. If she does indeed start blogging, it's going to be because of Ann and Kay rather than yours truly.
You know, I always thought the craftee thing was harmlessly wholesome: if you scroll down to the bottom of this post, though, doubts are disturbingly raised...)
My belief in Heisenberg makes me happy that there is a parallel universe in which one of those huge cement ceiling panels dropped on Mohammad Atta on his way to Logan.
Calling all minions
Stuff the ballot box---give it the royal Katherine Harris treatment.
Diebold, baby, diebold!
Signs the Insurgency in Iraq is dying
If he tosses in a gratuitous reference to the Free Masons and Vatican II, he's eligible for a Dan Brown superbargain tote-bag at my local Books-A-Million.
But that's just me, a hardcore 9/11 Trutherer, who has the evidence to prove the WTC was brought down by "Mirror Darkly" parallel universe Borg intent on stopping Terran Imperialism in the 26th century.
Pardon me while I go read some Barbara Tuchman.
Good to see talent coming back into the roster over at INDC Journal. I dunno what Bill paid to pick up Dorkafork in free agency, but it was worth it.
Where Ignorance Is Bliss, 'Tis Folly To Be Wise
So. We're getting all kinds of referral traffic from Agent Bedhead today.
Unfortunately, every time I try to clicky over and discover why this might be, I get a 400 error and a bunch of gobbledigook about technical support keys and ways I can fix the problem myself.
The question is - am I better off simply not knowing what's being said behind my back?
YIPS from Steve: Umm, something about your butt.
Hey, I'm just the messenger.
FURTHER UPDATE: Snakes on a Plane update? Sure, why not.
Emily Ghods over at The New Criterion notes the rediscovery of a lost early work of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, apparently written shortly before he was booted out of Oxford.
I find Shelley to be the most tediously annoying of the early British Romantics especially when he gets political, as he does in this poetic rant sparked by the jailing of a radical Irish journalist. A sample:
Millions to fight compell’d, to fight or die
In mangled heaps on War’s red altar lie . . .
When legal murders swell the lists of pride;
When glory’s views the titled idiot guide.
Man must assert his native rights, must say
We take from Monarchs’ hand the granted sway;
Oppressive law no more shall power retain,
Peace, love, and concord, once shall rule again,
And heal the anguish of a suffering world;
Then, then shall things which now confusedly hurled,
Seem Chaos, be resolved to order’s sway,
And error’s night be turned to virtue’s day –
Dude, wouldn't it have been easier just to write "Arms are for hugging"?
Actually, I do owe ol' Percy for one thing: In The Code of the Woosters, Bertie Wooster is discussing the character of Gussie Fink-Nottle, that fish-faced, spineless, newt-fancier, with Madeline Bassett, his soupy, sappy betrothed:
I remembered something Jeeves had once called Gussie. 'A sensitive plant, what?'
'Exactly. You know your Shelley, Bertie.'
'Oh, am I?'
That little bit of throwaway always makes me smile when I come across it.
(When Shelley wasn't being pompous, he was being treacly. Here's his original "The Sensitive Plant" if you can stand it.)
Will you still love me? Will you still need me?
Neighborhood buddy blogger Scott and I were talking about Harrison Ford just the other day, about how he's not aging well. Scott's idea was that Clint Eastwood, unlike Ford, was willing to play old guys. Guys with big guns, yes, but maybe trouble using them because he can't see too well anymore. That's why Eastwood has gotten even better with age.
Stately LLama Manor Update
Big nooz around here: we're NOT moving.
Right before I was, umm, locked out of my own damn blog for 3 weeks, I had the big interview. It was right after getting back that the old machine went to puppy heaven, so I never got to write about it.
It wasn't a bad interview--it didn't go down in the annals as an interview I blew. On the contrary, I was great. But there was something off when I got there that I couldn't quite put my finger on, and had decided that if they would make the offer, we'd pass (which would suck as it would be a huge raise and some other real positives, but a nagging series of red flags on the work side as well as a tricky set of issues about the family's move).
Fortunately, though, I didn't have to do that, as (after hanging it out 2 weeks after having said they would make a decision the day after I left) they made the offer to someone else, the inside candidate.
Still, it would have been nice to hear from them that I they went with someone else before reading the press release (although that in and of itself substantiated my gut feeling that it wasn't the right move).
Anyhoo, I learned a great deal from going through the process and that was a great plus. And I had one kicking scallop dinner so I think I came out ahead on the deal.
The new LLama T-shirt
I support Steve-O even though he is, in fact, a knucklehead and a LLama.
What do you think we immortalize Phin's masterpiece?
Except there needs to be a wee bit more of a look of anxiety on the llamas face....I mean, as it is, he's channelling a wee bit too much of Kevin Bacon's character from JFK....
Not even Virgil could do poetic justice to Dell Hell
I've been on a forced "Dell Hell"(TM) hiatus for the past three weeks now. My old laptop blew up (literally) while I was logged into the LLamas, and somehow screwed things up royally. (The tech people at work still don't know exactly how/why it happened, other than the standard, "Dude, you got a Dell...") My theory is that Adobe PDF reader crashed/froze the machine up right as a thunderstorm was starting to roll in, so the thing didn't shut down properly. The prima dona file got corrupted (and, it being under the age of consent, made it a statutory hack, so someone's going to jail), and that's all she wrote.
This somehow screwed with my password/ability to re-log into the LLamas. (And password restore wouldn't work which was weirder still--any moment I expected bald geek-glasses wearing Gene Hackman and his mangy cat to come squirrel me away, muttering about NSA KEY FUHCH EEEEEE)
Bad news: it died literally the day after its 3 year warranty expired.
Good news: it died literally with two days left in the fiscal year, with just enough money in the department budget left for a MacBook Pro, and just enough time for it to be delivered (overnight) to show up before the fiscl year ended.
So, I'm back in the Mac Collective.
I'm actually an old school Mac person. Getting out my walker and speaking in my best Grandpa Simpson tone of voice, I remember using an Apple I with the tape reader, and using a soldering iron installing a disk drive on our Apple II (not to mention lovingly and carefully developing intricate HPlot programs to develop 1982 versions of computer, umm, porn.) The first Mac was a 1985 512K with an external drive, that lasted me a solid workhouse six years, through undergrad and B school. The second Mac was a Mac II, which lasted an additional six years until late 1998, when I switched over because that was what we had at work and could get a laptop for home.
I think Apple people and Mac users in particular are like the French---difficult, cranky, pretensious, but if it's indeed your computing mother tongue, oh so more elegant and classy than anything else.
So I've been fooling around with the different features and stuff (Ichat and all that business), and Mr. Skinny (age 7 1/2) is completely anamoured of comic life, which is going to find its way onto the pages of the LLamas for sure (along with vlogging).
Bad news---I'm without Photoshop for now. What's the best image/photo manipulation software for Macs? (I've downloaded bootcamp, and am going to get IT Gawd Aaron at work to get it so I can boot all my old games) What other software suggestions do people have? (And I've been playing with the movie maker thing--my first project was trying to recut the Fatal Attraction trailer to be about the Deb Frisch thing)
Worse news---They recovered everything from my old hard drive except the file area where I had all my LLama stuff: going on 3 years worth of pshops and my extensive file of images and pics for future LLama gags (oh, the collection of Hillary! images alone was priceless). It's like starting over.
Absolute worse news---The LLama Lockout ended basically by Phinneas trying the subtle method of picking up a large brick, tossing it through the picture window of Stately LLama Manor, knocking all the glass edges out with a monkey wrench, climbing through and letting me back in. (Think Jake and Ellwood using their improvised aerosol blowtorch on the electric panel of the elevator). What this means is I'm in under a "new" identity, meaning that I no longer have access to Cake Eater Chronicles so that my campaign to turn Kathy's blog into the internet's one-stop-shop for everything David Hassellhoff will have to be put on hold.
Gratuitous Mayfair Posting
Basil Seal reminds us that on this date in 1793,
French Revolutionary writer Jacobin swine Jean-Paul Marat was stabbed in his bath by Charlotte Corday.
You P.G. Wodehouse enthusiasts out there might remember that Bertie Wooster's friend Bingo Little went through a short infatuation with a woman named Charlotte Corday Rowbotham, the daughter of a Hyde Park Corner radical. While Plum generally stayed out of politics in his writing, in this story he took the time to gently poke fun at the Socialists of the time. Wild-eyed rhetoric and false beards are involved.
Dork boy has returned.
Random Commuter Observations
The air is pure soup this morning here in Dee Cee.
Always a bad sign when you feel the need for scuba gear in order to walk from the Metro to your office.
July 12, 2006
How much longer shall this poor defenseless LLama be forced to suffer. I personally think INDC Bill and The Angry Scottish dwarf are in cahoots together. Thusly I'm launching the Free Steve-O™ campaign.
I support Steve-O even though he is, in fact, a knucklehead and a LLama.
No LLamas were harmed in the filming of this message.
Sooper Seekrit Message to Robbo: Phase one of operation "Fluffy LLama" has been completed.
YIPS from ROBBO: I just went down to Moo-Knew Central Precinct and forked over the bail money. Steve-O ought to be blog-ready now. (Either that or, owing to my own appalling ignorance of the technical side of this business, I've fried the entire Moo-Knew domain.)
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
Well, as my time of enforced rebachelorhood winds down, I'm taking advantage of one of my last few remaining evenings to watch a movie I've never seen before - Yellowbeard.
The cast looks interesting in a don't-cross-the-streams way, a mix of Pythons such as Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Eric Idle, together with a number of veterans of Mel Brooks movies such as Peter Boyle, Madeline Khan, Marty Feldman and Kenneth Mars, with some others thrown in as well. For instance, I see that Cheech and Chong are in this film, although I'm not sure that argues to its advantage. On the other hand, I've liked Michael Hordern ever since he played Senex in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. So we'll see.
I'll post my impressions here after the fact.
UPDATE: Two words - Don't bother.
Sixteen more words: Why does Netflix carry this waste of celuloid yet still does not have Eric the Viking?
That's My Church!
Charlotte Allen writing in the LA Times on the implosion of the Episcopal Church as well as the rapid decline of other mainline Protestant faiths:
So this is the liberal Christianity that was supposed to be the Christianity of the future: disarray, schism, rapidly falling numbers of adherents, a collapse of Christology and national meetings that rival those of the Modern Language Assn. for their potential for cheap laughs. And they keep telling the Catholic Church that it had better get with the liberal program — ordain women, bless gay unions and so forth — or die. Sure.
Read the whole thing. She also refers to the "deck chairs on the Titanic" mentality of those Liberal Palies who still believe they're doing the right thing.
So far, the conflict hasn't engulfed my parish yet. We're still in the never-mind-all-the-national-politics-stuff-we've-got-to-organize-the-Homecoming-Committee mindframe. But sooner or later, we're going to have to face up to it.
As it happens, we switched over to our summer schedule of worship two weeks ago. For demographic reasons too tedious to explain, this meant that, for the first time in a while, I attended full-blown Rite I Eucharist with all the fixins'. (The "family service" we attend during most of the year is almost invariably Rite II.) Pure bliss. And I couldn't help wondering to myself why on earth anybody had ever wanted to let this service go?
Well, of course, the answer is that Rite I especially emphasizes penitence, admitting Man's fallen state and our absolute dependence on Christ as our advocate in Heaven. All of that is, shall we say, muted in the words of Rite II. The language of Rite I is also far more archaic and formal, two words absolutely anathema to progressives who feel that the point of worship is to make people feel comfortable with themselves in the sight of their buddy Jesus.
Well, I don't want Jesus to be my buddy, dammit. I want him to be my savior.
Still, nothing's happened yet, although I mentioned my plight to a friend the other day who attends an ass-kicking Catholic church just up the street from ours and he immediately started spouting schedules for RCIA classes.
Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)
Opening stanza from Mozart's Sonata in C Major, K. 330, 1st movement
Our pal Chan the Bookish Gardener sends me this Slate article comparing and contrasting three different performances of Mozart's Piano Sonata in C Major, K. 330. (I happen to sight-read this piece myself.)
The article contains audio snippets of each of the performances of Lang Lang, Mikhail Pletnev and Yundi Li, all three of whom have new CD's just released by Deutsche Grammophon, allowing you to compare and contrast each pianist's approach to the same passages.
Now that's putting Algore's World Wide Web to good use.
How'd you like to be in the sample group for this:
Scientists find that moms consistently rank the stink of their baby's "number two" as No. 1.
In a new study, 13 mothers were asked to sniff soiled diapers belonging to both their own child and others from an unrelated baby. The women consistently ranked the smell of their own child's feces as less revolting than that of other babies.
This effect persisted even when the diapers were purposely mislabeled.
The scientists running the study suggest that perhaps "the mothers' reactions are an evolutionary adaptation allowing them to overcome their natural disgust so that they can properly care for their babies."
As a matter of fact, I think there's probably something to this. Just based on empirical observation, it seems to me that we can take an awful lot on behalf of our own children that we would not or could not handle on behalf of somebodye else's kids. And I see no reason why that shouldn't extend to olfactory phenomena as well.
All I can say, however, is thank God the question is moot at Orgle Manor and I never have to deal with it again. There used to be a particularly bad variety which the Missus and I deemed the "core-breach poopy" because it overwhelmed the containment field. Just disgusting.
Note to Splenda et al.
Dear makers of Splenda bags, cheese packages, beef jerky sacks and lunch meat diddies:
We the Public are wise to you, and we are sick and tired of your lies.
That thing that you advertise as re-sealable zips, don't seal (much less "re-seal"). They have no function, other than lending the image of re-sealbility to your products. We've figured it out.
Never once have I found a built-in zip that worked! I could employ whole platoons of dexterous-fingered gamers, self-abusers, violinists and brain surgeons, yet I guarantee that not a single one of them will have the skill to make your "re-sealable" baggies stay closed. Not even Jackie Chan working elbow to elbow with Lou Ferrigno could zip your alleged "freshness locks."
Admit it! You have no clue about making re-sealable zips because you've invented the "faux-zip." The patented faux-zip technology looks like a real zip, but costs less to produce because you only need a hatful of marmosets to make them.
Another thing you've mastered in reverse, is the easy-open tab. Your tabs do only two things:
- They won't tear at all, so I have to get a scissor
- They rip off at one corner only, so I have to get a scissor
Congratulations to me! I now have three scissors in my kitchen thanks to easy-open tabs.
Please just stop. Stop making hyper-active claims of fresh re-sealing, and bring back the friendly scissor icon with the dotted line.
Gratuitous Llama Literary Meme-age
From Lintenfiniel Jen, a nice way to get back into the groove:
1. A book that made you cry:
Rascal by Sterling North when I was a kid. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy when I was in high school (if that was the one with the dead bird). Moab Is My Washpot by Stephen Fry. A remarkable autobiography of Fry's extremely screwed up early years and his subsequent effort, after he finally hit bottom, to get his life back together.
2. A book that scared you: I really don't read scary books.
3. A book that made you laugh: Yikes, their name is Legion. I'll put in a plug here for My Life And Hard Times by James Thurber.
4. A book that disgusted you: The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony by Roberto Calasso. Pretentious? Moi?
5. A book you loved in elementary school: Carrier War In The Pacific, an American Heritage Junior Library volume. By the time I was in 5th grade, I pretty much had the thing memorized.
6. A book you loved in middle school: L'Morte D'Arthur by Thomas Malory. That was my romantic period.
7. A book you loved in high school: Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers by Tom Wolfe, when I switched from romanticism to cynicism.
8. A book you loved in college: Paradise Lost by John Milton. The course I took on this was terrific.
9. A book that challenged your identity or your faith: I get those challenges on a more or less constant basis. I read to escape much of that.
10. A series that you love: The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, the Aubrey/Maturin novels of Patrick O'Brian, the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser, the Narnia Chronicles of C.S. Lewis.
11. Your favorite horror book: Don't read 'em.
12. Your favorite science-fiction book: Don't read 'em much. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams.
13. Your favorite fantasy book: Again, don't read 'em except for Tolkien.
14. Your favorite mystery book: Ya know, I've tried hard to get into mysteries but they just don't stick. I've read Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. My favorite Sherlock Holmes story is "The Musgrave Ritual" but that's because of my Jacobin prejudices, not because I enjoyed figuring out the mystery bits.
15. Your favorite biography: Goodbye To All That by Robert Graves. Yes, I know it's an autobiography, but that's close enough.
16. Your favorite coming-of-age book: Can't think of one.
17. Your favorite book not on this list: Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honor trilogy.
Well, Llama ipsa loquitur, I suppose since I'm typing this.
Anyhoo, I was suffering from an unusual case of the blue devils over the weekend and didn't feel like talking/posting to anybody. (Sekret message to the LMC: Thanks. I owe you a call.)
Then I was out in the heartland doing the good work of Father Justice on Monday and Tuesday (work which resolved a matter quite satisfactorily, thanks very much).
And now I'm back.
So - what'd I miss?
UPDATE: Several loyal readers are asking if Steve-O is still locked out. The answer is yes and his continued efforts to get the Moo-Knew Collective thingy to resend his password have so far been baffled. Help us, Pixy Misa! You're our only hope!
July 10, 2006
The end of TIME
or at least the end to what the Lefties call "Cowboy diplomacy." This is coming from a magazine that once ran a piece in the Eighties by one Strobe Talbott who opined that the Reagan Adminstration's "zero-option" (no deployment of cruise missiles and Pershing II rockets to Western Europe in return for withdrawal of Soviet nukes east of the Urals) was a loser. The Soviets balked at the zero option and walked out, we deployed the nukes and in 1985 the U.S. and the Soviet Union signed the INF treaty which provided for the removal and destruction of such weapons. Who was Strobe? Well, he was Al Gore's roommate at Harvard and went on from TIME to become Clinton's Deputy Secretary of State.
"There is a name for my pain and it is
'Shane'" to paraphrase Jack Nicholson from his Batman movie. Shane is some high-school senior who swept our babysitter off her feet and away from our kids. Bastard. Phin, you will soon know what it is to find a good babysitter and then lose her to her first boyfriend. Jen, formerly Jen Speaks, you are not far behind Phin.
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
now has its official name. H/T Bill. On a slightly related note, I saw my F22 Raptor last Friday while visiting a client. THe first squadron is camped out at Oceana NAS while runway repairs are being made to Langley.
An Air Force Colonel's view of the Corps
It is no wonder that their motto is "Semper Fidelis", from the Latin meaning: "Always Faithful". H/T to KMR.
July 09, 2006
Say "Happy Birthday"
to Eighties icon Kelly McGillis.
Bottom news story of the day
Esther (or as the British tabs call her, Madge) calls it quits.
July 07, 2006
Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)
How seriously cool is this. Know who that woman is at front left? Would you believe none other than Constanze Weber, widow of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?
The extremely early daguerreo was typed (I guess) in 1840 when Constanze was 78, long after Mozart's death in 1791. She had remarried after Mozart died and, if memory serves, wound up having a fairly comfortable and (obviously) long life.
Pretty durn amazing, if you ask me.
Looking at this photo makes me wonder (again) how the history of European music would have developed had Mozart lived another 30, 40 or 50 years.
Yips! to A.C. Douglas.
UPDATE: Whoops! Looks like the whole thing was a fraud. ACD's link has been updated to give the relevant information. Well, too bad.
Yesterday the Missus asked me if I thought she ought to take the Llama-ettes to see the new Adam Sandler movie Click. Aside from the fact that I don't like Sandler anyway, I said I thought the movie would be a bit much for the gels (given it's rated PG-13 and we're trying to shelter their innocence), so no, don't bother.
According to Derb, I chose wisely:
Particular features of Click's stinkiness:
—-Treacle. Are we really this gloppily sentimental? Do we really slobber over our kids whimpering "I love you Timmy!" And get back a trembly "I love you Dad!" Not in this household we don't. Certainly not fifteen times in the average hour, the way these characters do. If you love someone, *****show***** it. If you're talking about it repetitively, at the frequency these people do, there's probably something wrong.
—-The Parenting Trap. Movies like this—-there seem to be a lot of them—-delivering, with all the subtlety of an artillery shell, the message that we spend too much time working and not enough time with our kids, must cause untold guilty anguish among the adult population. Get over it, guys. Adults work, kids play. And this movie, and all the others, was made and acted by a bunch of Hollywood big shots each of whom has a platoon of nannies raising his kids for him.
—-Fast Forward. On "automatic pilot"? This is implausible even for a fantasy movie. Gimme a break. And he fast-forwards through **sex**? Oh, right, he's married—never mind.
—-Christopher Walken looks too much like Dudley Sutto[n], but isn't half as good an actor.
(Link and correction added by Self.)
Gratuitous Llama Bachelor Posting
Well, we're finishing off week one of the Missus' and the Llama-ettes' beach vacation while Self remains harnessed to home and work.
You know, being the enlightened kind of guy that I am, I help out with almost every aspect of life around Orgle Manor. I clean children, laundry and things. I cook sometimes. I shop sometimes. And, of course, I handle the majority of yardwork and household maintenance. Indeed, I even pitch in when it comes to taking care of the cats, as much as I really don't like them. I feed them when needed and clean out the litter when it gets too stinky.
So when the Missus vanishes for a while, I'm generally able to take up the slack with relative ease.
But there's one feline-related chore that has been the exclusive province of the Missus from the beginning, namely putting drops into the eyes of Jenny, the elder of our two cats. (She has some chronic condition or other that requires routine medical treatment.)
Well, over the past week I've discovered that I don't like giving Jenny her drops and Jenny doesn't like getting them from me. And the situation seems to be getting worse, not better.
It's a good thing the Missus will be back next week. If I had to deal with Jenny's treatment much longer myself, the animal would quickly go blind as a bat.
UPDATE: What? You don't think blind cat jokes are funny? Crétin!
Last weekend I went to my favorite Farm Market to get some early peaches. They only had Sweet Scarletts and Sentrys available - neither are my favorite - but I took home some Sweet Scarletts.
Now, in the peach world you can pick from white or yellow peaches and low-acid hybrids or heirloom fruit with flavor. I prefer yellow heirloom peaches. They're robust, with plenty of peachy tang, along with gracious sweetness. My favorite peaches are Red Havens, Lorings and Blakes, with Red Havens far out in front of the other two.
Low-acid and white peaches taste watered-down to me. They're like Nutrasweet is to sugar. They give a shallow impression that you're eating a real peach, but the whole peach experience isn't there. Generally I'd rather drink Hi-C Peach Drink than eat nasty, pale, low-acid, hybrid peaches. Yuk!
Sadly, Sweet Scarletts fall into the low-acid peach category. They're kind'a peachy, but they lack for much, flavor-wise. But the Red Havens will be ready in another two weeks, so I don't have much longer to wait for sweet, high summer peaches. Then I'll do as Neil Young once advised Stephen Stills (although I suspect he might have had something else in mind):
"Eat a peach."
July 06, 2006
Gratuitous Flashy Posting
Impudent feller! What, he thinks everyone's married to a rich Scots heiress?
UPDATE: Here's a bibliography of the works of George MacDonald Fraser, including screenplays for some well-known movies. I was delighted when I first learned that he had done the old Michael York Three Musketeers and Four Musketeers, because I thought they were pretty good treatments of ol' Dumas. (On the other hand, I'd bet he'd want Red Sonja back if he could get it.)
UPDATE DEUX: Of course, you must not credit Flashy with too much power of persuasion here. After all, it doesn't take that much in order to get me to buy another book by Francis Parkman.
Let the fundraising begin!
Mother Sheehan would rather live in Venezuela under Chavez . If money is an obstacle, we have a duty to help ease this poor woman's plight!
Ugh. Check this out: It's a website containing a scale model of the solar system. However, not only are the sun and all the planets to scale, so are the distances between them. You have to scroll a loooooooong way to the right just to pick up Mercury. As for the rest, the whole page supposedly is about half a mile wide.
The local high school did a project like this up near my parents' house last year, starting with a model sun at the schoolyard gate and setting up markers along the road to mark the planetary orbits. The whole thing was quite several miles long (I forget how many), and by the time you got a couple planets into it, you started to get a distinct sense of vertigo contemplating the gaps between the markers.
Speaking of which, let's go to the font of all wisdom concerning distances in space:
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times over many years and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers.
The introduction begins like this:
"Space," it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is. I mean you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. Listen ..." and so on.
(After a while the style settles down a bit and it begins to tell you things you really need to know, like the fact that the fabulously beautiful planet Bethselamin is now so worried about the cumulative erosion by ten billion visiting tourists a year that any net imbalance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete whilst on the planet is surgically removed from your bodyweight when you leave: so every time you go to the lavatory it is vitally important to get a receipt.)
To be fair though, when confronted by the sheer enormity of distances between the stars, better minds than the one responsible for the Guide's introduction have faltered. Some invite you to consider for a moment a peanut in reading and a small walnut in Johannesburg, and other such dizzying concepts.
The simple truth is that interstellar distances will not fit into the human imagination.
Even light, which travels so fast that it takes most races thousands of years to realize that it travels at all, takes time to journey between the stars. It takes eight minutes from the star Sol to the place where the Earth used to be, and four years more to arrive at Sol's nearest stellar neighbour, Alpha Proxima.
For light to reach the other side of the Galaxy, for it to reach Damogran for instance, takes rather longer: five hundred thousand years.
The record for hitch hiking this distance is just under five years, but you don't get to see much on the way.
Yips! to Lynn S.
Daily Show on Korean Threat
I usually have to be in bed by 10 p.m. so we don't have a cranky Chai-Rista in the morning, but last night I stayed up to watch the Daily Show. It was a re-run from about two weeks ago, but screamingly funny and probably NSFW.
Nevertheless, it's important you learn from Rob Corddry, first-hand, about the danger we narrowly escaped on July 4th with the Korean launch of their taepodong missile.
"I'm Not Fat, I'm Big-Boned!"
The politics of clinically labelling fat kids. Read it and weep.
This will come as a shock
but Soldiers do not get to choose the wars they fight nor do they enjoy the same First Amendment rights that civilians enjoy. I hope the Army puts the screws to this officer.
This should give the CHICOMs pause
Taiwan to test-fire a ballistic missile. I wonder if Taiwan got the Patriot PAC-III systems they were interested in buying in 2003. . .
Happy Biiirthday, Mister Puh-Resident!"
Happy Birthday, John Paul Jones!
(Image lifted here.)
Born this day in 1747. I wrote about Jones' most famous battle - that of the Bonhomme Richard against HMS Serapis off Flamborough Head, together with some biographical impressions of Jones, on the anniversary of that battle last September.
"Cry God for Harry, England and A Saint To Be Named Later!"
The Church of England, as if it hasn't got enough problems on its hands, is considering a move to eject St. George as England's patron saint, replacing him with St. Alban.
The proposal was put forth by a vicar who apparently claims a lack of historical evidence that St. George ever actually existed, but according to the article, the real motivation behind reconsidering his patronage is his association with the Crusades and the belief that he is "too warlike and might offend the Muslims."
Message to the C of E: A culture that doesn't believe in itself anymore dies.
Yips! to the Colossus.
UPDATE: Oh, and of course, get rid of the saint, get rid of his flag. Further message to the C of E:
July 05, 2006
For some reason I'm all about movies today . . .
To start things off, I want to bitch a little about first-run theaters. All of the first-run movie theaters closest to me are malodorous run-down hell-holes and some are in sketchy neighborhoods. The dollar movie is a palace by comparison if only because it's newer and they serve pizza. But even if I drive 50 miles to a town with "wine markets," and pay full price, the 70 mm copy they show is likely to be scratched less than a week after it opens. I hate watching a scratched movie. Add the usual annoyances of sitting in the dark with uncouth strangers and you have the manual diagramming my reasons for avoiding first-run movies.
But the new Pirates movie opens this week and soon after that we'll have Snakes on a Plane. What will I do?
A little confession is in order. Until I saw the TV ad for Snakes on a Plane over the weekend, I didn't believe it was real. I suppose I was afraid to believe in it too strongly for fear of a heart crushing disapppointment. You know the kind - when you're in the 3rd grade and your friend tells you that Davy Jones is her uncle and she is going to bring him to school on Friday so you can go for a ride in his dunebuggy with him? We've all had that dream and we've all cried bitter tears into the Naugahyde of the school bus seat when Davy didn't show up. ok - maybe that was just me, but I bet you were scared to believe in Snakes on a Plane too!
But enough of my psychiatric history, I just heard today that Keith Richards will play Jack Sparrow's father in the next Pirates film. Great tar barrels of bubbling fun! I can't wait!!!
But I still don't know what to do about Snakes. Should I be all British with the stiff upper lip and dive into a scratched and possibly flatulent first-run experience? Or should I go white-trash and wait for the dollar movie run?
*Update: I've decided Colossus has it right - Snakes is a cultural event that must be shared with fellow rubber-snake flinging, screaming, farting, pop-corn stinking, jolly, adorable humans. I'm in!
And Russ has a great point too - we need to get started compiling the props list for Snakes!
"You Call That The 'Captain's Log'?"
The Sinner has a pretty amusing YouTube clip up featuring geek phone sex (perfectly SFW).
I'm pretty sure the guy in the Captain Kirk shirt is actually Bill.
"Damn The Torpedoes! Full Speed Ahead!"
Today is the birthday, in 1801, of David Glasgow Farragut, commander of the Union Navy during the Civil War. Not too long ago, I reviewed West Wind, Flood Tide by Jack Friend, which tells in great detail the story of Farragut's famous victory at Mobile Bay in August, 1864, during which he uttered the phrase for which he is now mostly remembered. However, his earlier victory at New Orleans and his repeated running of the Mississippi beneath the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg also amply demonstrated his courage, dash and aggressive style.
Here's a bit of Farragut trivia for you Patrick O'Brian fans: Farragut was a midshipman in the Navy during the War of 1812. In 1814, he was serving aboard the U.S.S. Essex when she was caught and defeated by H.M.S. Phoebe off the coast of Chile. Farragut was wounded and captured in the battle. O'Brian used the Phoebe's chase of the Essex as the (very loose) basis for his story of Jack Aubrey's H.M.S. Surprise hunting the U.S.S. Norfolk in The Far Side of the World.
UPDATE: Basil Seal throws me pixilated catnip with this comment:
And pray tell, how did the Norfolk suddenly become French in the questionable film?
Ha! Two reasons, one major and one minor. Firstest, Hollywood had enough sense to realize that the public would never go for a film in which the Brits, in the end, kick the crap out of the Americans. (And it's much easier to heap villainy on the French. If I recall correctly, the Frogs were not simply a rival naval force, but a pack of sneaky Jacobin dogs not much better than common pirates.) Plus, by transmogrifying the enemy, the film doesn't need to get into the causes and issues of the War of 1812, which would just confuse people because how can Jack be the hero if he's fighting for the wrong side?
Seconder, it gave the writers the opportunity to have Jack Aubrey rouse his crew with a line about the Frogs setting up a guillotine in Piccadilly, something the real Aubrey never said. (I have seen the line somewhere, however, and although I haven't yet looked it up, I'm almost sure it's out of one of the Hornblower novels.)
UPDATE DEUX: Just so that this post doesn't degenerate into another anti-M&C-TFSOTW screed, here's a lithograph of Farragut's successful attack on the defenses of New Orleans, April 24, 1862:
(Image lifted from the Navy.)
And here is a Currier & Ives print of the Union fleet running the shore batteries at Vicksburg:
(Image courtesy of this site.)
Farragut's ability and willingness to move troops, supplies and ships through this gauntlet was critical to Grant's eventual capture of the city (which occured July 3, 1863, the same day as the Union victory at Gettysburg), to say nothing of the overall Union plan in the west to chop the Confederacy into pieces by taking complete control of the river.
My Name Is Robbo The Llama Butcher And I'm A Complete Loser
Well that was some celebration.
I was all set to meet up with Steve-O and family out in the Shenendoah Valley yesterday for a little music and festivity.
Unfortunately, I received some rather bad personal news late last week which rattled me more than I realized at the time. When this kind of thing happens, I'm the sort who just wants to be left alone.
I was planning to go anyway, but then yesterday turned out to be one of those gawd-awful days with temps in the 90's and humidity not that far behind. I've become more sensitive to hot and humid weather the past year or two and the idea of a two hour drive each way without air-conditioning (plus the chance to get caught in a vicious thunderstorm on the road) made me feel a bit ill just to contemplate. Plus, I'd have got back fairly late last night and today is a work day.
And what nailed it? Well, tickets to ths shinding were twenty bucks. When the Missus and the Llama-ettes took off for vacation, they forgot to leave me any cash, the bank card or the checkbook. The only way I could have come up with the money was to raid one of the gels' piggy-banks, something I just could not make myself do.
So how did I spend my Fourth? Watching reruns of "Cops" on Court-TV.
There you have it. Paging Mr. Zur, first name Lou.
July 04, 2006
John-Boy Loves Independence Day
There are many historic attractions within an hour's drive of my home: Appomattox, Stonewall Jackson's home, Traveller's grave, Monticello and . . . "Walton's Mountain." We're used to leaf-peepers clogging the roads and the diners in the fall, but yesterday we encountered the less common summer touron. There were four of them seated next to us in the diner - three women and one man - plus a table full of children - headed to Walton's Mountain.
The age of the adults surprised me. They were in their early thirtys, an age I can't believe remembers the Walton's TV show to begin with, but ALL they talked about was Earl Hamner, and meeting him one time, and getting pictures with him, and pictures of his current home, and how The Walton's was "OBVIOUSLY filmed in California" because the mountains there look nothing like the mountains here in Virginia, and countless other road apples of Walton's wisdom and first-hand experience.
To be fair, it was the male of the group delivering this Walton's Lecture Series. His captive audience of females egged him on, God knows why, to reveal even deeper nuggets concerning, perhaps, the most boring topic ever devised by man. But Pep and I were treated to more Walton's information than we ever knew existed . . . or wanted to know about, for at least 45 minutes.
The funny thing is there isn't anything genuine here in VA related to the TV show. Walton's Mountain doesn't exist, but they stuck that name on a "country store" that sells confederate flags and ice cream on Hwy. 29. And there is a Walton's Mountain Museum up in Schuyler (remember - it's pronounced SKY-ler!). At the Muesum, you can shop in Ike Godsey's Store and Gift Shop where I'm sure you can find confederate flags and ice cream. And DVDs of the film Spencer's Mountain which isn't a real place either.
Do I sound a bit grumpy about the Walton's? It's because I just don't get it. Why get so worked up about a fictional TV show when you could be in Lexington paying proper resects to Traveller?
So, Happy Independence Day, dear readers - from the Walton's Free-Zone here in the BBQ Compound of Central Virginia!
Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)
In the bad boy spirit in which I am living my temporary bachelorhood, I sat down last evening to watch the 1999 Metropolitan Opera production of Mozart's Don Giovanni, Netflix having graciously decided to send me the first act after all.
Care to hear about it?
Over all, I have to say that although I'm glad I finally saw this production, I'm equally glad I rented the DVD instead of buying it. This is because, although I think the production had a great deal going for it, I was pretty disappointed with the overall quality of the singing. It struck me as the evening went on that this might have been due to the fact that it was a Met production: The Met is pretty damn big as opera houses go, and certainly much larger than anything Mozart ever contemplated. I think that its vast size encourages singers to shout and shriek in order to be heard in the back. And that's just what practically everybody did at one time or another here.
Bryn Terfel played the title role. I know what Terfel is capable of - I have a recording of him singing Figaro in J.E. Gardiner's staging of Le Nozze di Same and he is terrific, a solid but wonderfully nuanced bass-baritone. While that quality occassionally welled up here, he also did a good bit of barking and bellowing.
There's no denying Terfel's terrific stage presence either and his Don is practically Miltonian in his evil. I liked this a lot, but at the same time I don't really believe Terfel is cut out for the part: Giovanni, on top of all his wickedness, has a keen sense of pride and of his own nobility (however twisted), plus a malevolent charm that he turns on to seduce the ladies. To pull this off, I think the singer has to look the part - haughty, aristocratic and smooth or ferocious as necessary. (Rodney Gilfrey is a name that comes to mind.) Terfel just comes across looking loutish.
Ferruccio Furlanetto plays the Don's servant Leporello with a pretty nifty combination of alarm and opportunism. I understand from reading other reviews that he's made something of a specialty of this role and it shows.
Solveig Kringelborn plays Donna Elvira and she is really something worth watching, telegraphing beautifully the internal conflict between her desire for vengeance on the Don for abandoning her and hoping he'll take her back. At one point, Giovanni dismisses her with a simple "e pazza" - "she's crazy." The complexity of character that Mozart and Da Ponte manage to bring to this piece allow you to feel pity for Elvira while at the same time acknowledging that Giovanni is right about her - she is a little crazy. Kringelborn understands this perfectly.
Renee Fleming plays Donna Anna and frankly, I don't understand what all the fuss is about. Fleming's voice had enough vibratto in it to set my molars humming and of the entire cast, she was the most guilty of shrieking. Granted, Anna, who (at least somewhat unwillingly) lets Giovanni have his way with her and then sees her father murdered at the beginning of the story has plenty to shriek about. But this is no excuse to treat her with the kind of technique better suited to 19th Century pieces. Also, it didn't strike me that Fleming meshed that well with the other singers - she seemed to have "Diva" stamped on her forehead, belting out her bits and damning everyone else to keep up with her.
On the other hand, Paul Groves was excellent as Don Ottavio, Donna Anna's fiance. Ottavio, as is the case with most romantic straight-men, is a thankless role. But Groves brought a genuine nobility and decency to it that wonderfully counterbalanced Giovanni's malevolence. Further, he projected strength, which doesn't always happen with this part. During the party scene, he didn't back down an inch when confronting Giovanni with his attempted rape of Zerlina.
Speaking of Zerlina, she was played by Hei-Kyung Hong. I never really warmed up to her. In getting tangled up with the Don, Zerlina soon discovers she's way out of her league. But within her own boundaries, she's as street-smart as anybody. Frankly, I thought Hong put too much sweet innocence into her character.
On the other hand, I thought John Relyea looked far too smart for Zerlina's betrothed, Mazetto. Mazetto is a young bull, a country bumpkin full of passion but not too bright. This is why Zerlina is able to handle him so easily. Relyea's face was too quick, too intelligent to let him seem a believable fool, although he sang quite well, indeed.
Rounding out the cast, Sergei Koptchak did just fine as the Commendatore, solemn, dignified and, when in the form of the statue, suitably imposing and scary.
I don't have much to say about the production - sets, costumes and staging were very straight-forward and conventional and well done. My only real beef here was that the chorus of demons at the climax stayed offstage. I know the stage directions are vague on this point, but it has always struck me that having them pull the Don down into the pit is a very dramatic touch. Otherwise, as here, Giovanni's slide into the gates of hell sometimes seems, well, weak and anti-climactic. (Oh, and what was with Leporello getting pulled in as well?) Apart from that, all was well, although I thought a curtain call at intermission was a bit much.
Finally, let me highlight the very best aspect of this production: the music itself. James Levine conducted the Met Orchestra and it was pure pleasure from start to finish - crisp, neat and of a sound quality that really allows one to take in all of the parts - I was hearing things last evening that I'd never noticed before, despite having listened to this opera many, many times. Just supurb. In fact, I was quite puzzled as to why the orchestra shone so well and none of the singers managed to do so.
It was perfectly evident that Levine loves this opera, but I really think he'd have been better off with fewer camera shots. While I don't for an instant doubt the sincerity of his bobbing and weaving, his facial expressions and his happy pom-pom-pomming along, the effect is of Lou Costello's artsy brother, the one who went to Julliard instead of Vaudeville. On the other hand, if he can constistently produce such Heavenly sounds, I'll spot him all the mannerisms he wants.
So there you have it. Overall, worth watching but, at least in my mind, not really a keeper.
Dispatches From The Bambi Wars
For two days running now, I've had to dash outside in the middle of cooking dinner to throw rocks at the @#$*(($ deer in my garden. It turns out to be a pair of young does - sisters, probably. They come nosing around in the early evening and while one stands around looking nervous, the other hops over the fence cool as dammit. (The fence is only four feet. Nonetheless, she's been coming over right in a spot I didn't think she'd try, blocked as it is with asparagus bushes.
Well, this afternoon I decided to try a folk remedy of sorts: I strung some rope at about six foot height along the two sides where I know the deer have jumped in. Then I took some pieces of balsa wood, covered them with tinfoil and hung them at intervals from the rope. They're light enough that the slightest breeze will shift them. This is supposed to spook the bastards.
I'm hoping the combination of the rope and the strange, shiny things will keep them at bay, at least for a while, and perhaps even persuade them to go munch on somebody else's plants. Otherwise, I'll have to gulag the garden with a much taller fence all the way around, something I've been hoping to avoid.
Happy Independence Day, Everybody!
UPDATE: Here's a little marching music apropos for the day. A lot of younger folk think it's called "The Spirit of '76" as a result of hearing Bugs Bunny and other cartoon characters play it on the fife when aping the famous painting of that name, but as a matter of fact it's a much older tune called "The Girl I Left Behind Me" and was very popular on both sides during the Revolutionary War:
I'm lonesome since I crossed the hill
And o'er the moor and valley
Such heavy thoughts my heart do fill
Since parting from my Sally
I seek no more the fine and gay
For each doth but remind me
How swiftly passed the hours away
With the girl I left behind me.
I seek no more the fine and gay
For each doth but remind me
How swiftly passed the hours away
With the girl I left behind me.
Oh ne'er shall I forget that night
The stars were bright above me
And gently lent their silv'ry light
When first she vowed to love me
But now I'm bound for Brighton camp
Kind heaven then pray guide me
And send me safely back again
To the girl I left behind me.
But now I'm bound for Brighton camp
Kind heaven then pray guide me
And send me safely back again
To the girl I left behind me.
Her golden hair in ringlets fair
Her eyes like diamonds shining
Her slender waist, with carriage chaste
May leave the swain repining
Ye Gods above! Oh hear my prayer!
Thy beauteous fair to bind me
And send me safely back again
To the girl I left behind me.
Ye Gods above! Oh hear my prayer!
Thy beauteous fair to bind me
And send me safely back again
To the girl I left behind me.
And o'er the moor and valley
Such heavy thoughts my heart do fill
Since parting from my Sally
I seek no more the fine and gay
For each doth but remind me
How swiftly passed the hours away
With the girl I left behind me.
I seek no more the fine and gay
For each doth but remind me
How swiftly passed the hours away
With the girl I left behind me.
With the girl I left behind me.
And here's a nifty page of fife and drum midi's from the period.
UPDATE DEUX: Basil Seal posts a portrait of the villain of the day. As a matter of fact, I've always been quite fond of George III, Hanovarian though he was. (He did stand up to the Frogs and that Napoleon after all, when damn near everybody else in Europe knuckled under.) And in all fairness, it should be pointed out that although his government's treatment of the colonies was ham-handed and extremely shabby, they were also dealing with a set of circumstances and a type of people nobody had ever encountered before and it's not to be wondered at that they had no clue what they were up against.
July 03, 2006
Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)
Jessica Duchen gives an enthusiastic review of John Eliot Gardiner's new performances of Bach cantatas.
I don't believe I've ever heard JEG's Bach, although I have a number of recording of him doing Mozart, Gluck, Handel, Rameau, Couperin and Purcell, all of which are good, so it really doesn't surprise me that he should be able to handle Bach well.
Let me just warn you, however, under no circumstances to have anything to do with Gardiner's Beethoven. For some reason, the man seems to go completely to pieces. I bought the entire symphony cycle on spec and they are one of the few sets of CDs that I have that dissappoint me more each time I hear them. It isn't just the proto-Romanticism, either. I've got JEG doing Schumann, and he's at least adequate. But something about ol' Ludwig Van seems to cause Gardiner's musical IQ to go into free-fall.
Gratuitous Pre-Revolutionary Blogging
On July 3, 1754, a small British colonial expeditionary party, trapped and surrounded by a much greater force of French troops and their Indian allies, was forced to surrender the little round wooden stockade called by them Fort Necessity in southwestern Pennsylvania. The surrender marked the end of the first battle of what was to become the French and Indian War (known as the Seven Years War across the pond), during which the British would ultimately throw the French out of Canada, but would also set the stage for the eventual American revolt.
Oh, and the commander of the surrendering British force? A young Virginia colonel by the name of George Washington.
Oh, For Heaven's Sake
I guess it wouldn't be the 4th of July without the firework scolds:
From 1990 to 2003, roughly 85,800 U.S. children under age 19 were treated in emergency rooms for burns and other injuries from firecrackers, bottle rockets and even sparklers, according to a study prepared for release Monday in July's issue of the journal Pediatrics. Most injuries occurred around the Fourth of July.
The study is an analysis of data on nonfatal injuries from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which last week released new figures showing an estimated 10,800 children and adults were treated for fireworks injuries last year. That was up from 9,600 in 2004 and part of a steady increase in fireworks-related injuries since 1996, the commission said.
Fireworks-related injuries killed 36 people between 2000 and 2005. Two teens were among the four reported deaths last year, the commission said.
The article duly brings in a rep from the American Pyrotechnics Association (and wouldn't that be a kick-ass lobby to work for?) to say that most fireworks injuries are caused by people doing stupid things with them. But of course, she's nothing but a shill. And you already know where the authors of the latest study are going with it:
[Dr. Gary] Smith argued that his results support an American Academy of Pediatrics policy favoring a ban on backyard fireworks. Only five states have a ban -- Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.
"What I tell parents is, you'd much rather spend the Fourth of July at a public display run by professionals," he said.
What I tell Dr. Gary Smith is to mind your own bloody business.
Gratuitous Civil War Posting
Today is the anniversary of Pickett's Charge on the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, sometimes romantically known as the "High Tide of the Confederacy".
The attack never had a chance. Apart from the issue of simple geography (charging straight up hill over a mile of open ground against fortified positions), the fact is that the Union Army was simply too well organized and generalled to be broken.
Personally, I've long thought that Lee was well aware of the risk when he ordered the charge, but felt that he had no choice in the matter. He could not very well withdraw without causing enormous damage to the spirit of his army, not could he easily manuever against either flank of the Union position without dangerously exposing his own forces to flank attack. I believe that Lee reckoned his best chance lay with shock and awe: perhaps a hammer blow to the center would buffalo the Union commanders and cause them to panic. In that case, Lee's greatest miscalculation was in underestimating the Union generals, in particular Winfield Scott Hancock. Given their rather dismal performances during his previous battles against them, this is at least somewhat understandable.
UPDATE: Oh, for you Gettysburg movie fans out there, I wanted to mention this tidbit: In the movie, Gen. James Kemper (who commanded one of Pickett's brigades) is depicted lying mortally wounded on a stretcher after the charge, urging Lee to treat his men honorably. However, he actually survived the wound after all. Being so badly hurt, Kemper was left behind when the Confederates retreated and was captured by Union troops. After the war, he went back into politics and was elected Governor of Virginia in 1874.
UPDATE DEUX: Here's some coolness - the Library of Congress has a whole searchable database of Civil War photographs, most of them by Matthew Brady. Go on over and browse.
Random Commuter Observations
Sign seen on the side of a construction company van this morning: "Victorian Homes Is Our Specialty"
BTW, the commute into Dee Cee is a piece o' cake when three quarters of the work force take the day off.
July 02, 2006
Gratuitous Gettysburg Posting
Gen. George Gordon Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac. Meade did not want to fight at Gettysburg, instead favoring a pre-selected defensive line along Pipe Creek some miles away to the southeast. However, once the battle was engaged, Meade had the sense to listen to his commanders and hold upon the heights of Cemetary Ridge. For this, he deserves considerable credit.
I've been trying to think of something to say to mark this, the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg (fought
June 1 through June 3 July 1 through July 3, 1863) [Ed - no more cocktail time blogging for you], but for some reason this year all I can think about is this: If you're planning to commemorate the battle by popping in your DVD of the movie Gettysburg, keep in mind that this movie, while fine as far as it goes, does not tell the whole story of the battle.
For some reason, this is rankling on me this year.
Now, Michael Shaara, in his preface to The Killer Angels (on which the movie was based), made it quite clear that he was not, in fact, writing a book about the battle of Gettysburg, but rather that he was writing about some of the men who took part in that battle. I think the movie does its audience some discredit by not making this same point.
So, for instance, the film does a pretty good job of detailing the tactical situation at the beginning of the first day (June 1), when Buford, recognizing the advantages of the ground he held, decided to make a stand with his Federal cavalry in order to give John Reynolds' First Corp infantry time to come up and engage. But the movie gets rather vague after the point where Reynolds is shot and killed, speaking hazily of a general Union retreat. IMHO, this sells short the gallant efforts of the First and Eleventh Corps to hold back the superior forces of Hill, Ewell and Early. In fact, the battle lasted all day and involved tenacious fighing on McPherson Ridge, Seminary Ridge and Oak Hill, and concerned not just Buford and Reynolds, but also men like Wadsworth, Shurz, Barlow, Abner Doubleday (yes, that one) and many others.
Similarly, one might gather from the movie that Col. Joshua Chamberlain's successful defense of Little Round Top was the end of the fighting on July 2. This is far from the case. Although the Devil's Den, the Wheat Field and the Peach Orchard - all scenes of incredible carnage - get brief mention, the average viewer would not know that the attack on Chamberlain's position at the southern end of the Union line was just the first part of Lee's assault and that the battle echeloned north all day and into the evening. I think this does great disservice to, for example, Col. William Colvin and the 1st Minnesota, who stopped a Confederate breakthrough on Cemetary Ridge at the cost of 82 percent casualties. And indeed, no mention whatsoever is made of the fighting on Culp's Hill and Cemetary Hill, the extreme northern ends of the Federal line, at the end of the second day and on into the morning of July 3.
Finally, the movie mischaracterizes Pickett's Charge on July 3 in two important ways. First, it buys into the view of that charge as being a Virginia affair. In fact, two of the three Confederate divisions involved in the charge - those of Johnson Pettigrew and Isaac Trimble - were largely composed of North Carolingians. And indeed, there is considerable evidence that North Carolina regiments got farther forward than any units from Virginia. Pickett got all the glory because the Richmond Press was heavily represented at the battle. This fact still drives North Carolingians batty, even today.
Second, for dramatic purposes, I suppose, the movie hints that the charge came close to working, that the Union was this far from breaking. Well, the truth of the matter is that it wasn't that close at all. Lee was throwing a Hail Mary and he knew it. And while the Confederate forces did actually make it up to the Union positions in one or two places, they simply did not have the support necessary to exploit such advances. The Union Army, on the other hand, was perfectly situated to reenforce itself anywhere along the line as needed and did so.
So there you have it. If you're interested, I can recommend two books out of my own library about this momentous battle. The first is Glenn Tucker's High Tide at Gettysburg, which gives an excellent overall picture, while at the same time offering some extremely interesting intimate details. (For example, the 15th Alabama under Col. Oates, which attacked Chamberlain's position on Little Round Top, was forced to go into battle after a forced march with no water because their canteen detail had been captured by Yankees. What impact might this have had on their fighting effectiveness?)
The other book is Earl J. Hess's Pickett's Charge - The Last Attack at Gettysburg. This is a very dry and academic history, methodically laying out the positions of the various infantry and artillery units on both sides during the course of the attack on July 3. From this data, it is clear Lee's plan never had a realistic chance of succeeding.
Country Diner Catwalk
In the diner yesterday morning, as I enjoyed eggs-over-easy, in walked a young guy - probably about 19 - completely decked out in K-Fed fashion. He was bean-pole thin with a jutting auburn cool patch beneath his lower lip. On his chin a corresponding tuft of scrub represented an aspiring goatee. He wore a plaid winter fedora - the fake fur kind you used to see old men wear 20 years ago. Under the fedora his no-doubt corn-rowed hair was covered by a blue bandana. The ear I could see sported a "diamond" stud. His madras shirt was unbuttoned to reveal a tee shirt beneath that I was too distracted to read. Baggy khakis collapsed in abundant folds on the uppers of white shoes.
I couldn't read his tee shirt because I was too busy staring at the swirling multi-hued ink covering his forearms. From the wrist up to his shirt sleeves there was not a pinch of undecorated skin. He crossed to get his take-out order from the cashier when I heard the grizzled older man in the booth behind me deliver his one line fashion review:
"If my kid looked like that I'd beat his ass!"
I almost choked on my eggs stifling a laugh.
July 01, 2006
Gratuitous Llama Bachelor Blogging (TM)
Yes, indeed. As is usual at this time of the year, the Missus and the Llama-ettes have bugged out for Connecticut and the Hamptons for a couple weeks, leaving yours truly to go it alone for a spell.
They left about seven o'clock this morning. Unfortunately, both the Missus and I have been reyther badly distracted the past day or two and completely forgot that, given the impending holiday, everybody else and his brother also left at seven this morning. I got a call from the Missus just a while ago - she was still crawling towards the GW Bridge at the top of the Jersey Turnpike. With normal traffic, the entire trip to her parents' place in Connecticut can be done in about five hours from here. Frustration reigned. At the same time, the four year old was becoming increasingly insistent that she had to go potty. Of course, there's no place to realistically stop once you're past the Vince Lombardi plaza going north on I-95 until you hit the Connecticut line. The Missus had reached that point of resignation that says, "Oh, what the hell - pee in your undies and we'll get you cleaned up once we get there."
Meanwhile, I had to do a double cut of the lawn today since we've had so much rain recently and I didn't get a chance to mow last weekend. It can be hard work, especially when it's hot, but at the same time there are few activities I can name that are so inducive of meditative thought. I spent the entire time mulling over a response to an opposing party's latest letter in some ongoing settlement negotiations I'm handling. By the time I was done, I had a reply nicely reasoned out and ready to be served up that'll pin the other side like an assagi. If I were in private practice at the moment, bet your backside I'd have billed the client for the time. Heh.
Anyhoo, I've got myself a nice steak dinner all mapped out, served up with oven-roasted potatoes in oil and salad and accompanied by a nice Moulin-A-Vent. I've got a fistfull of raspberries and blueberries right off the bushes for afters, as well. I'll be starting out with some Madeira (just by way of a change from my usual Tio Pepe) and finishing up with either some port or a nice glass of Laphroig 10 year old and I just may have to break into my ceegar stash.
I was all set to watch a production of Mozart's Don Giovanni tonight. It's the Zeffirelli one put on by the Met a few years ago and starring Bryn Terfel and Renee Fleming. I saw about five minutes of it when PBS originally broadcast it and remember thinking that, despite the fact that he sang wonderfully, Terfel looked too loutish and thuggy for the part of the Don. Unfortunately, it's a two-DVD set and Netflix, in its infinite wisdom, has only sent the second act, so I'll have to put that on hold. Of course, I'll be sure to post on it once I've seen it.
Meanwhile, my Conan Film Fest DVD's also haven't arrived yet. I'm doing both the originals, plus The Rock's Scorpion King (which I consider to be worthy of inclusion in the canon). I'm also giving Kevin Sorbo's Kull the Conqueror a try, although I strongly suspect it won't make the cut. And don't tell me to include Red Sonja in the mix. That pic, far from being a Truly Bad Film, is simply a waste of celluloid.
Gratuitous Naval Posting
I was reading Brendan Miniter's column about a visit to the U.S.S. Intrepid this morning when something struck me. Throughout the piece, Miniter consistently refers to the ship as "it" instead of "she" or "her".
Perhaps this is just a matter of editorial protocol and modern p.c. sensibilities, but it struck me as rather ironic - Miniter's theme is the embodiment of our love of technology and mechanical know-how in this ship and the service she has done in our cause, and yet his employment of neutral pronouns has the effect of distancing him (and the reader) from the very object of his praise.
I think this is important insofar as the anthropomorphic tradition of speaking of ships in human terms is a significant psychological ingrediant of our success in mastering the seas with them. And even though the relationship between men and ships has changed dramatically since the days of sail, I think this still holds true.
This raises some questions to which I simply do not know the answers: Where does this tradition come from and how widespread is it? Did the ancient Greeks or Phoenicians think this way? How about the Polynesians? Or the Vikings? Are there or have there been sea-faring cultures in which ships are thought of in masculine terms? (If Tom Clancy is to be believed, the Russians refer to ships as "he", but the Russian maritime tradition is pretty thin.)
I'd be interested to know if anybody has any thoughts or recommended reading.
"That's No Moon, It's An Oliphant!"
Oh, Lawd. Scoot on over to TexasBestGrok and check out the bastard love-child of Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings - complete with funky disco music!
Honest - Star Wars jumped the shark after Empire Strikes Back and I never much cared for LOTR to begin with, but this brilliant piece of YouTubing somehow makes it all worthwhile.