May 31, 2007

Cue Sergio Leone Music


Even though I have not got emotionally involved in the immigration debate flaring up on the Right, I love the fact that the folks at National Review (rabidly opposed to the Administration's stance) have called out the Wall Street Journal editorial board (pro-Administration) to debate the issue fair and square. Here's the G-Man's latest taunt:

As always James Taranto — author of the Best of the Web, and a terrific dancer — offers an invaluable feature. Today's Best of the Web is sweeping in scope and comprehensive in its detail. In it, you'll find everything from penetrating discussion of George W. Bush's "Korean model" for Iraq to quirky headlines from the hinterlands ("Emergency Room Doctors Investigate Local Man's Eye Irritation"). But you know what you won't find? Any mention of the debate challenge issued by National Review's editors to our friends at the Wall Street Journal. It's a shame really, just the other day the editors of the Journal ran that quite good piece by Peter Berkowitz lambasting the left for its refusal to debate first principles while cheering the right for its eagerness to do exactly that. Two days later NR challenges those editors to precisely the sort of debate conservatives take pride in and the response has been (significant?) silence. Meanwhile, the Best of the Web, the Wall Street Journal's All Seeing Eye can find motes everywhere while missing the beam in itself. Perhaps they should hie to the local emergency room.

I sincerely hope the gang at the WSJ take them up on this. It would be an argument well worth watching.

Posted by Robert at 04:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Book Review

The Rosary by Gary Willis

Not being Catholic I thought I'd enjoy this short (185 page) book on the history and use of the rosary. Sadly, Gary gives us only 3 pages concerning the history of the rosary. The rest of the book is an overview of the four groups of mysteries that supplement the liturgical cycle.

As you can imagine, a 3-page "history" is a Britannica entry instead of an in-depth overview, but where Gary fails as a historian he shines as an art critic. He chose to use the paintings of Tintoretto to illustrate each of the mysteries (where related works by Tintoretto exist) and his commentary on the paintings is luminous. I don't particularly care for Tintoretto, but Gary's prose made me want to care, and I consider that an achievement on his part.

This is an odd little book that would do well as an overview for middle or high school students if it weren't so eager to cover recherche points of theology from time to time. I started this book at the beach and was dismayed to find I needed a dictionary. In other words, the book is uneven in tone, inadequate as a history and our narrator is eager for non-Catholics to feel at ease with non-Biblical material such as the assumption and coronation of Mary.

But, I came to it with few expectations and it delighted me with it's unvarnished adoration of Tintoretto's work. So, if you're interested in a biased and truncated overview of the rosary, coupled with flowery art criticism, then this book is at your pleasure!

Book Review Bonus Club: Skip over to Lisa's to read about her childhood case of Papal Envy.

Posted by Chai-Rista at 01:26 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Go, Spurs!


Congrats to the San Antonio Spurs for capturing the Western Conference Champeenship, and good luck in the Finals.

Frankly, I have no interest in basketball at all, at all. However, we used to go see the Spurs play back in the days of Gervin, Silas and Coach Doug Moe, so there's a certain nostalgic pleasure in seeing reading about them doing so well these days.

Do they still play the "Cotton-Eye Joe" at the home games?

Posted by Robert at 01:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

To Boldly Read About Where Someone Else Has Gone Before

This is coo-el. The UK Telegraph's Tim Butcher has retraced the 1877 exploration of the Congo Basin by Henry Morton Stanley and, in order to promote his book on the subject, has written up a series of articles about it.

I've got a copy of Stanley's journal of his original expedition, although it's been some time since I last read it. My recollection is of Stanley's party being chased by one hostile local tribe after another and only reaching the coast by the skin of their teeth. I gather from skimming Butcher's account that things aren't much better there now, and in fact are arguably worse.

I suppose I've been seized again by the exploration genre bug, as periodically happens. As I mentioned before, I'm currently reading Sir Richard Burton's account of his explorations of East Africa in 1857. In addition, while visiting Mom over Memorial Day, I filched her copy of this:


The Mystery of Mallory and Irvine by Tom Holzel and Audrey Salkeld. Not so much an exploration book as a kind of forensic history, this book sets out the latest evidence and theories about whether or not George Mallory and Andrew Irvine reached the summit of Mt. Everest in 1924 before dying on the mountain. If they did, then they beat Sir Edmund Hillary by about thirty years. Apparently, there is a great deal of extremely intriguing evidence that could cut either way and a rayther large number of extremely partisan advocates on both sides.

Frankly, I don't know anywhere near enough to offer an opinion yet on whether Mallory and/or Irvine were successful. For what it's worth, though, Robert Graves (author of I, Claudius and other historickal novels) thought so. A pupil of Mallory's and fellow climber, Graves gave it as his opinion (in Goodbye to All That) that Mallory did indeed reach the summit but in vigorously celebrating the feat, did not leave himself enough strength to get down safely.

Posted by Robert at 12:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Literary Posting (TM) - Children's Division


I'm sure most of you parents out there are already aware of it, but I just came across Paul Zelinsky's version of Rapunzel and I must say that the Italianate illustrations are really quite beautiful. Remind me a good deal of Raphael, as a matter of fact. The seven year old had to scold me as I read the book to her, as I kept stopping the narration to stare at the pictures.

BTW, I suppose I simply hadn't paid enough attention previously, but I never before realized that rapunzel is actually a herb. Has anybody decided conclusively exactly which plant the Bros. Grimm were talking about?

Posted by Robert at 09:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Major Spammer Arrested

He's just one but apparently he's a big fish in the Internet pond.

Robert Alan Soloway is accused of using networks of compromised “zombie” computers to send out millions upon millions of spam e-mails.

“He’s one of the top 10 spammers in the world,” said Tim Cranton, a Microsoft Corp. lawyer who is senior director of the company’s Worldwide Internet Safety Programs. “He’s a huge problem for our customers. This is a very good day.”

A federal grand jury last week returned a 35-count indictment against Soloway charging him with mail fraud, wire fraud, e-mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.

Soloway pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon to all charges after a judge determined that — even with four bank accounts seized by the government — he was sufficiently well off to pay for his own lawyer.

He has been living in a ritzy apartment and drives an expensive Mercedes convertible, said prosecutor Kathryn Warma. Prosecutors are seeking to have him forfeit $773,000 they say he made from his business, Newport Internet Marketing Corp.

If there is any justice in this country, this guy will be locked up in a Federal maximum security "pound-you-in-the-ass" facility until he dies of old age.

Posted by Gary at 09:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Mrs. McFly!


Lea Thompson was born this day in 1961.

Yeah, I would have taken a swing at Biff for her sake, too. Got a problem with that?

Yips! from Gary:
Just had to dig out this tribute from the '80's Crush Vault. Lea made it to the Final Four! Ah, was that really a year ago?

Happy B-day, Lea.

Posted by Robert at 08:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation - It's Summertime and the Walking Is Hazy

It's roughly three quarters of a mile between my metro stop and my office. I walk it primarily for the exercise. (There actually is a much closer metro station, but using it would involve switching trains.)

It's something of a point of pride with me that I make the walk in all weathers and conditions. Nonetheless, we've reached that time of the year where I go out of my way to stay in the shade as much as possible, mumbling "We hates the Yellow Face" under my breath.

This is also the time of year where I start stopping at Starbucks regardless of the length of the line, as iced coffee becomes paramount to my ability to function during the day.

Posted by Robert at 08:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 30, 2007

1938 Redux

Norman Podhoretz has an excellent, if chilling, essay on the growing threat from Iran over at OpinionJournal today.

I've been saying to anybody who will listen lately that whoever the next president turns out to be, he or she is going to have to deal seriously with the Iranians and probably fight them. Podhoretz's more dire scenarios suggest that we don't have the luxury of waiting until then to take action.

Go read all of it.

Posted by Robert at 02:56 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Caption This

orangutan love.jpg

And be sure to use whatever Google Chum you can think of.

Posted by Gary at 02:00 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Benny Goodman!

Born this day in 1909.

I'll just shut up and get out of the way. Here's BG and his Big Band doing a medley in the late 30's:

And here's the Benny Goodman Quintet from some time later (yes, again that's Lionel Hampton on the vibraphone):

If you've got to confine yourself to a single Benny Goodman recording, may I strongly recommend the 1938 Carnegie Hall concert? For my money, his rendition there of "Sing, Sing, Sing" is the best damn big band sound ever heard.

Posted by Robert at 12:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Oh, for the love of all that's holy

Here we go again: can anyone say recount?

Posted by Steve-O at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I Was Never Good With Multiplication Tables, But...

You Really Know Your State Capitols

You Got 18 State Capitols Correct

You're either a geography buff... or you have an excellent memory.

Do You Know Your State Capitols?

h/t: Blonde Sagacity

Yips! from Robbo: Yesssssss.........

You Really Know Your State Capitols
You Got 20 State Capitols Correct

You're either a geography buff... or you have an excellent memory.

Do You Know Your State Capitols?

As it happens, I am a geography buff, but I also have a trio of daughters who constantly cross-examine me on this particular subject. In order to maintain my air of omniscience, I've had to pay more attention than I might otherwise have done.

Posted by Gary at 11:13 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Bedtime Thespianism Division


As I recently mentioned, the eldest Llama-ette and I are currently reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third of the Chronicles of Narnia series. Last evening we arrived at the chapter in which we meet the Dufflepuds, at least in their invisible form.

I always try to make my readings as theatrical as possible. As it happens, I was born with a pretty good talent for imitation, so I routinely incorporate voices I've heard from movies, tee vee, CD's or sometimes just personal experience where they seem appropriate. For instance, when we recently read The Silver Chair, I gave Puddleglum the Marshwiggle a Down East accent straight out of Bert & I, much to the satisfaction of the gel.

Coming across the Chief of the Dufflepuds, I was at first a bit stumped. As those of you who've read the book know, the D-P's are wonderfully stupid, somewhat insane, and yet strong enough within their own limited sphere that they cannot be dismissed by the Treader's landing party and ultimately loveable. How to convey this?

Well, my solution was to fall back on, of all things, a favorite John Wayne movie of mine, El Dorado. Specifically, I settled on the voice of Bull Harris, the eccentric, rangy frontiersman sidekick played by character actor Arthur Hunnicutt. His high, gravelly, home-spun and at times warped delivery seems to work out quite well.

I'm pretty sure that ol' C.S. Lewis didn't have half-crazed veteran Injun-fighters in mind when he came up with the D-P's, but I don't think he would have minded too much.

And speaking of such things, one can't get far into the series without having to come up with a voice for everybody's favorite mouse, Reepicheep:


To me, he's always had a Mediterranian accent of some sort, the better to reflect his dashing cavalier style (also, I believe he is addressed as "Signore Mouse" at one point in Prince Caspian).

So where to find one? Well, just to show you what a twisted, jumbled, lumber room of a mind I have, the first time I spoke his part, I found myself thinking back to the Monty Python "Tudor Pornography" sketch. (That oughta bag us some google hits!) There's a little throwaway bit where Michael Palin's Gaskill of Vice Squad, suddenly finding himself to be Sir Philip Sydney, comes across some Spaniards trying to land stacks of lewd magazines on the beach. He confronts one of the Spaniards (played by Terry Jones) thusly:

Cut to the beach. Suspense music. Gaskell strides up to the camera, until he is towering over it. The music reaches crescendo.
Gaskell: Allo allo! What's going on here?
Cut to beached rowing boat piled high with bundles of dirty magazines. Two Spaniards are unloading it.
Spaniard: Ees nothing, Señor, ees just some literature.
Gaskell: I know what literature is, you dago dustbin. I also know what porn is. (pulls out a loose magazine and brandishes it) What's this then eh?
Spaniard: It is one of Lope De Vega's latest play, Señor.
Gaskell: 'Toledo Tit Parade'? What sort of play's that?
Spaniard: It's very visual, Señor.
Gaskell: Right. I'm taking this lot in the name of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
Spaniard: Oh, but Señor.
Gaskell: Don't give me any trouble. Just pile up these baskets of filth and come with me.

In short, Terry Jones' Spaniard impersonation is the voice of my Reepicheep (put to much nobler uses, of course). Warped, I know, but I blame my parents for letting me build all those model airplanes when I was a yoot.

So what do you do when you read the stories aloud?

Posted by Robert at 10:33 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Ol' Fred Dips His King-Sized Big Toe In The Water

From MSNBC's "First Thoughts", this morning:

Fred Thompson makes it (more) official. According to a campaign source, Thompson will file his FEC papers officially on Monday June 4. In FEC parlance, Thompson is opening a "testing the waters" committee, a technical term that allows Thompson to forgo filing a detailed report on June 30 -- though once he's an official candidate, he'll have to file retroactively. The June 4 filing will be coordinated with a first-day fundraising blitz with 100-plus "First Day Founders" raising a significant one day sum in order to send a we're-in-the-first-tier message. The campaign tells us the "first day" blitz totals they report will be "cash" actually raised, not pledges. The source didn't dispute the notion that the one-day goal would be north of seven figures.
And it's probably not a coincidence that the third GOP debate is scheduled for June 5th. Contrast the excitement of Ol' Fred's first fundraising day compared to another opportunity for Republican voters to reflect on the fact that none of the current candidates really lights them up. Sen. Thompson is playing this deftly. MSNBC compares the pluses and minuses:
His Advantages: If there was ever a time for GOP candidate to come out of nowhere and compete for the nomination, it's now. According to the most recent NBC/WSJ poll, just 53% of Republicans are satisfied with their presidential choices (compared with 78% of Democrats who say they are). In addition, as Business Week reported, there is plenty of uncommitted GOP Ranger/Pioneer money out there for Thompson to gobble up (many of whom were on a conference call yesterday with Thompson). And what's not to like about a plainspoken Southerner who happens to be famous and who hasn't had ties to Washington or the Iraq war since he left Congress in 2002?

His Disadvantages: But how does he make up on lost time in building the same kind of infrastructure that McCain and Romney have built in the early primary states? (Frist and Allen staffer refugees can account for some of the staff deficit but not all.) On the issues, how is he any different than the front-runners? (A recent Washington Post story said his record was virtually identical to McCain's.) And is he attracting GOPers' attention because who he isn't -- rather than who he is? What, in short, makes him any different than Wes Clark was in 2003-4, sans the military medals?

OK, think about that last question a minute and make sure you're not drinking your morning cofee: "What, in short, makes him any different than Wes Clark was in 2003-4, sans the military medals?".

Answer: Because Ol' Fred can melt Wes Clark's military medals with his gaze.

Seriously, though. Wes Clark may have earned the rank of General, but he was never more than a military bureaucrat. Fred Dalton Thompson is a leader.

Rumor has it, Ol' Fred's "declaration day" will be...wait for it...July 4th.

draft fred thompson logo.jpg
Ol' Fred For President. Because he has undigested pieces of guys like Wes Clark in his stool.

Jim Geraghty says no regarding July 4th, but AllahPundit points out that the WaPo is stating it's likely with several independent sources verifying.

Another interesting factor in the timing is that for almost a whole month of the 2nd quarter money will be going to Thompson. Some of it will be currently "uncommitted" money but a good portion of it will be what is siphoned away from the "Big Three" (Guiliani, McCain, Romney). When the financial disclosures come out in July, we will see one (or more) underperforming. In any case, this test of the waters will also be a test of the money hunt.

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

May 29, 2007

Your Afternoon Coffee-Break Snarf

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars, Mark Steyn reposts his jump-the-Alderanian-shark reviews of the three prequels.

Here he is on Episode I - The Phantom Menace:

The mistake was to release the movie. The build-up, the hype, the thrill of anticipation was going so well, you'd have to be crazy to risk all that by opening the actual film. But after the Star Wars nerds had been camped out on the sidewalks of America for a couple of months - or was it years? - George Lucas decided to show 'em the picture.

And, as even they must realise at three-in-the-morning moments of self-doubt, they were stiffed. I've never met one of these alleged legions of Star Wars fans, I didn't run across them in the Seventies or Eighties or Nineties - but, on the assumption that they exist, what I'm wondering is: how bad does a Star Wars movie have to be before the nerds start to gripe?

Here's a portion of Steyn's take on Episode II - Attack of the Clones:

This time round, a decade after The Phantom Menace, the Republic is under threat from 'separatists' who are threatening to separate because, er, well, um. . .I'm a Quebecer, so in theory this theme should have had a certain homely appeal. Instead, I began to realise what a Canadian political discussion must be like for non-Canadians. In this instance, it's a Canadian political discussion with a budget, so it's punctuated every 15 minutes by flying-car chases through a soaring futuristic cityscape or light-sabre duels on the rain-lashed launch pad of a distant planet, which ought to be an improvement, but, in fact, makes little difference: if you were told that, say, the fellows in the spaceships firing on each other during the asteroid storm were the Finance Minister of Quebec and the Deputy Trade Minister of Manitoba, it doesn't make it any more exciting, does it? This is the genius of Lucas: to have spent so much money making something so dull. Even the big love scenes between Anakin Skywalker and Senator Amidala couldn't be Amiduller: they trade policy-paper positions on the functioning of democracy, and then roll in the grass as if it's a contractual obligation.

And in a passage that is sure to get Mark's eyes damned by GroovyVic:

Lucas is now a director without peer when it comes to getting bad performances out of great actors. Does anyone remember when Ewan McGregor was one of the sexiest actors on the planet? As Obi-Wan Kenobi, he's turned into Obi-Wan Kenbranagh, a dull stick who, like his souvenir action-figure, has no private parts. He renders his ton of 'Meanwhile, back at the ranch. . .' dialogue in flat shipping-forecast tones.

Going for the hat-trick, Steyn writes of Episode III - Revenge of the Sith:

Vengeance is mine, saith the Sith, whith thoundth like Violet Elizabeth Bott. No such luck. Instead, it’s George Lucas, with what he insists is the final film in the Star Wars sextet. My guess is the first film in the new Star Wars septet will be opening circa 2008. Anyway, Revenge of the Sith is, so Lucas assures us, a ‘tragedy’. It might have been wise to have stationed an announcer at every movie house to announce this fact over the PA system since it eluded the audience I saw it with last weekend. When the Sith hits the fan, the fan bursts out laughing. Oh, to be sure, they were diverted by the opening dogfight and Obi-Wan Kenobi riding a wild four-legged space beast to hunt down General Grievous. But they were howling with laughter through all the so-called ‘tragic’ elements.

Go read the rest. You know that Steyn is absolutely right, of course.

Posted by Robert at 02:23 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Tuesday afternoon WTF? clip

Since it feels like a sluggardly Monday, I think it's time to break out this gem I've been saving:

FURTHER YIPS from Steve-O: Holy crap, Batman!

This 7 minute flick is better than any of the sequels I've seen in the theater the past couple of years.

Posted by Steve-O at 12:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Spring comes to the great white north

Kelly's Green has a beautiful photo-essay featuring sheep shearing and wool carding in New Hampshire.

Posted by Steve-O at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Simple Life: Caged Heat

Jeff from Beautiful Atrocities is back (temporarily at least) from hiatus and is blogging again over at Agent Bed Head. The only thing missing from his Lindsay Lohan/Paris Hilton prison movie treatment is Samuel L. Jackson in the role of the magical Negro, plus David Spade and the former kid from Malcolm in the Middle to play CGI-animated wisecracking cockroaches.

Posted by Steve-O at 11:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Bobgirrl is back at her post over at 1 Girl, 4 Martinis and posting up a storm on veal, license-plate angst and African tumors.

Welcome back! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 11:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shed a tear to lost youth

Groovy Vic is in mourning today as her original Swooner McDreambutt turns 60.

Meanwhile, Magnum PI never ages. NEVER.

Posted by Steve-O at 11:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The genesis of a cutter

Curt Schilling explains the origins and evolution of his cutter pitch. Cool stuff, together with a breakdown of the Sawx victory over the Cleveland Late Ice Age Siberian Americans.

Remind me again why I need to read any Globe sportswriters with Sawx players explaining the inside for themselves?

Posted by Steve-O at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Memorial Day Weekend Roundup Part Une - The Trail of Tears

Since this is my blog and I can write whatever the hell I want here, let me just bore you for a bit about the Road Trip from Hell last Thursday.

The tragedy is that it all started out so well. We left Orgle Manor about five-fifteen ack emma, tooling 'round the top of the Beltway and up I-95 in a trice, or at most, two trices, and arriving for brekkers at the Bob's Big Boy in the Delaware service plaza at seven, exactly when I had planned to get there. Sitting for a leisurely meal in order to let the Jersey turnpike commuter traffic ebb, we got to the approaches to the George Washington Bridge at ten.

As we were passing the Newark airport, the Missus got on the phone to confirm with her sister that we'd be arriving at her place outside Bahston later in the day in order to spend the night before heading on up to Maine Friday morning. However, it quickly became apparent from the half of the conversation I could hear that her sister had completely fouled up the dates, wasn't expecting us in the least, and couldn't possibly entertain us that day. This really didn't bother me. Indeed, we were making such excellent time and I was in such a good humor that I got a brilliant idea: It's only another two hours from the sister-in-law to Mom's house. Why not tool on up to Sturbridge, Mass for lunch, dropping in on the Colossus if he's available, and just push all the way through, thereby giving ourselves a whole extra day in Maine? The Missus was perfectly fine with this thought as well.

So, did I say that at ten we'd reached the approaches to the GW Bridge? Well, at eleven we were still there. Ditto at twelve. Apparently, some "emergency maintenance" was being performed on the ramp at the far end. However, at one pip emma, when we'd finally crawled across the bloody thing (which shakes far too much for my personal taste, btw), this so-called "emergency maintenance" appeared to be nothing more than twenty guys standing around and staring at a pot-hole.

Never again. Never again am I going to take that bloody damned (*@#&$(*#!!! bridge when travelling nawth. It just ain't worth it. Sure, the Tappen Zee is slightly out of the way, but nine times out of ten I'll bet it's faster.

Aaaaaanyway, bang went the schedule. We zipped along pretty sweetly once we got across the Bronx, but by the time we made it into Sturbridge, it was past three, not the noon I had originally hoped for, and I was beginning to worry about getting snagged in Bahston commuter traffic.

In which traffic I did indeed get snagged. I used to think that picking up 495 and going round by way of Worcester and Lowell was preferable to dealing with 128 closer in, but I now have some serious doubts, as every artery coming out of the city was dumping all kinds of traffic on to the outer ring as we tried to get past. Nonetheless, by a little after five (elapsed time so far: twelve hours), we were coming up on Portsmouth, NH.

And what of the Llama-ettes all this time, you may be asking yourself. Well, all I can say is that up to this point, their behavior had been wonderful. No fighting, no whining, no problems. We kept up a steady rotation of dvds, cds, books on tape and snacks, and everybody was happy. Nonetheless, that amount of time in the car would be trying on any little kid, and as we hit the Ogunquit rest stop, they were beginning to show some signs of fraying.

"Okay, girls," I said, "You've all been terrific so far. So here's what we're going to do. We still have about an hour and forty five minutes left to Nonny's house. However, before we head out to the island, we'll stop at Friendly's for dinner. You can have whatever you want and you can get a big Fribble for dessert. How's that sound?"

That sounded fine, as far as they were concerned, and did much to mollify them as we skootched past Portland, picked up 295 and then hit the Coast Road. In due time, we fetched up at the little community that sits on the mainland opposite the string of three islands, the middle one of which is haunted by the Family Robbo. We'll call this community "Chef's Turning."

An interesting thing about Chef's Turning and the islands to the south of it of which I was not aware is the fact that they are all linked by a single circuit on the local electricity grid. So when some stooopid teenager doing about 80 MPH in his pickup loses control, vaults a ditch and snaps a utility pole seven feet up from its base, the local authorities must shut down all the power in the immediate area. This includes the power at Friendly's. Which we did not discover until we walked in and were informed they'd just lost their lights. After what was now a thirteen hour trip. With a trio of hungry and anticipatory children at our heals. And did I mention that I had not personally eaten anything since Delaware?

This was the point when Robbo's temper, which had been even and placid all day, suddenly snapped. We passed the wreckage that was the cause of the power outage as we pressed on down the road. There were a pair of ambulances and more area police than I'd ever have imagined actually existed. I didn't know if the kid who caused the smash was dead or not. If not, I had a passionate urge to jump in the ambulance and finish the job myself.

At least the gels accepted the disaster philosophically.

Well, we felt we had no choice but to go on to Mom's house. (The idea of turning back to find another place simply didn't occur to our exhausted minds.) Total elapsed travel time: almost exactly fourteen hours. Fortunately, Mom has a generator, so we were able to whip up some hot ham and cheese sammiches, with ice cream to follow. Me, I went straight for the drinks table.

What. A. Drive.

Thank Heaven the return trip went exactly as it was supposed to: We left Maine Sunday morning and stopped at the sister-in-law's for a leisurely BBQ, eventually fetching up in Stamford, CT at four in the afternoon. The Missus took the gels swimming while I ordered room service and watched golf on tee vee. Leaving Stamford at five thirty yesterday morning, we totally dodged all the holiday traffic and got back to Orgle Manor by ten. Piece of cake.

YIPS from Steve-O: Dude, you are so misguided......

From Orgle Manor, get out to 66, and take 66 west until you get to 81 North---follow it up past Scranton, arch east so you cross the Hudson up by West Point, drop down to the Merritt. Until you cross the Hudson, the only city you actually go through is Scranton. No tolls till the Hudson, and a rich target environment of Friendly's once you pass into PA (the Carlyle exit to be exact).

From Orgle Manor, it would add about 90 extra miles on the odometer, but would subtract out about 2 hours, plus the @$14 in tolls.

Bonus points: you pass right by Gettysburg.

Trust Beavis......

FURTHER YIPS from Steve-O: Yes, I mark where the Friendly's are on our big travel atlas (that, and exits with good gas stations and potty stops). Got a problem with that?

Yips! back from Robbo: I've done the I-81 thing in the past. The Missus hates it, and spends the entire time we're heading west sighing like AlGore in a presidential debate. Personally, I've got hang-ups with the counter-directional thing, too.

Posted by Robert at 10:32 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

I Don't Know What's More Sad

The fact that the Left, the MSM and the Democrats used grieving mother Cindy Sheehan merely as a propaganda tool to beat the President over the head or that Mother Sheehan may really not have realized this.

Of course, she may have only lived in denial as long as the cameras were rolling.

Tammy Bruce has the non-moonbat translation of Sheehan's "farewell" at DailyKos.

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

Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)

Today is the anniversary of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Ottoman army of Mohammed II. The city had held out for seven weeks, but undermanned and ill-supplied, finally collapsed in the face of a massive assault. The last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI Palaeologus, fell defending the gates. Thus ended the the Roman Empire.

The last time I remarked on this event, I got all historickal geeky about it. This time, I'll just stick with regular geekiness:

Posted by Robert at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Don't You DARE Question Their Patriotism" Tag does mortal combat with "The face of the antiwar movement" tag

As Kramer was wont to say, "Jiggity":

Flags Replaced With Swastikas in Wash

ORCAS ISLAND, Wash. (AP) - Vandals burned dozens of small American flags that decorated veterans' graves for Memorial Day and replaced many of them with hand-drawn swastikas, authorities said Monday.
Forty-six flag standards were found empty and another 33 flags were in charred tatters Sunday in the cemetery, authorities said. Swastikas drawn on paper appeared where 14 of the flags had been.

Members of the American Legion on this island off Washington's northwest coast replaced the burned flags with new ones Sunday afternoon.

The vandals struck again on Memorial Day after a guard left at dawn, the San Juan County sheriff's office said. This time, the vandals left 33 of the hand-drawn swastikas.

"This is not an act of free speech. This is a crime," Sheriff Bill Cumming said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

Investigators believe there's more than one culprit, based on the number of flags that were vandalized, Cumming said in a telephone interview. But authorities have no suspects, he said.

The sheriff said deputies were trying to lift fingerprints off what little physical evidence they were able to recover.

Posted by Steve-O at 09:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Slowing Down

Yesterday, I turned my right ankle while mowing the lawn (on a hill). It hurt like a sumbitch, but the swelling is down and it looks to be no more than a mild sprain.

For the rest of the day I tried staying off of it as much as possible but I did have to make a trip to the supermarket as we were out of some important staple food stuffs. The wife was busy with the kids and I tend to do less impulse buying when I shop. So I sucked it up, wrapped up the ankle and headed out with my grocery list.

Even though I could put weight on my right foot, it was sore. And my overall pace decreased by at least 50%. In other words, I had to take it slow. And I did.

From getting out of the car to walking the aisles with my cart to scanning through the self-serve checkout and bagging my stuff I took it slow. I was forced by a minor injury to relax and take it easy. We always tell ourselves that we will stop and savor the moment or that we will be more observant of everything around us. But we're always in a rush to get home, to go somewhere else or to make it to the next appointment.

We tend to forget how amazing life and the world around us can be. We don't realize that even as mundane an event as a trip to the supermarket could be all the more enjoyable if we just relax and take it easy. It's difficult psychologically to make yourself slow down.

And our lives zoom past at the speed of light until we stop one day, look back and say "where did all the time go?".

When I got home, I gave the wife a hug and a kiss (a real one, not a peck on the cheek) and played with my kids (though this probably didn't help my ankle any).

Next time you find yourself in a situation where you don't really have to rush. Don't. Try slowing down. You might actually enjoy yourself more.


YIPS from Steve-O: Now this is just me talking here, but I like to get out the pipe and fill the bowl with a homebrew mix of Lipton's sweet tea mix, together with a little pesto and a couple of grains of Scott's crabgrass pesticide. A couple of long drags on that, and I can get the lawn done in about, ohh, five minutes.

Meanwhile, just down the street, live the REAL lawn care and garden experts, with the pictures to prove it. Rather hatefully, Sarah is having quite the successful year for lupines, no mean feat in central VA.

Posted by Gary at 09:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2007

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

Here's a little more humor for ye:

Recently, the five year old checked out a big picture book about elephants from the library. One of those National Geographic sorts of things, not a kiddie book.

Anyhoo, one evening this weekend, the gel and I were flipping through the book together. There were lots of pictures of elephants dusting themselves, elephants rolling in the mud, baby elephants nursing, herds strolling majestically across the savannah - that sort of thing.

However, as we turned one page over, we were suddenly confronted with a full-sized photo of Mr. Elephant having to do with Mrs. Elephant in no uncertain terms. For a split second I froze, not knowing what I was going to do if awkward questions were asked. However, I need not have feared - the five year old took one look at the pic and immediately said, "Look, Daddy! Leapfrog!"

Well, now.

I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I know a gimme when one is handed to me. "Why, that's right," I said. "I'll bet he's going to have to jump pretty high, isn't he?" The gel laughed uproariously at the mental picture of such a feat.

And Innocence smiled, knowing she'd live at least another day......

Posted by Robert at 02:20 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The War Between The States

Well, we're back from Maine.

I'm too beat to tell you about the 14 hour Trail of Tears we suffered Thursday after we decided to do the whole trip from Dee Cee in one fell swoop. I'm also to beat to tell you how I nearly took off the five year old's head and stuck it on a pike because she chose to go into her Harpo Marx routine during the memorial service. Ditto my thoughts on the Great "Oh, You Thought We Were Going To Call First?" Furniture Delivery Mix-Up and the game of musical rooms we're playing with the Llama-ettes' sleeping quarters this afternoon. Indeed, I'm even too tired right now to say what I think of coming home and discovering somebody had run right into our mailbox, destroying the post and tossing the box itself a good twenty yards down the road.

All that later. Instead, I will impart a little humor.

Sign seen on I-95 North right at the Maine State Line:

From Mass?
Save Gas -
Stay Home!

Heh. Apart from a slavish devotion to the Sawx, there is quite a bit of bad blood on the part of the ordinarily calm and passive Mainers against the denizens of the Bay State. Indeed, they routinely refer to their neighbors to the south as "Massholes".

Part of it has to do with Massachusetts drivers (who, at least in my opinion, have got nothing on Virginians for speed and less on Murr'landers for crazy-assed unpredictability). Most, I believe, has to do with a joke that's been making the rounds of late: Massachusetts finally realized what a mistake it had made in letting Maine become a separate state to begin with. They're now trying to reverse that by buying Maine back, one house at a time.

More later.

Posted by Robert at 01:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 26, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

Growing up in a military family, in a very military town, and going to Flanders Elementary School, Memorial Day to me always resonates with the WWI poem of Lt. Col. John McCrae, In Flanders Field:

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

For more on the background of the poem and McCrae's story, follow the link to the Arlington site.

Posted by Steve-O at 07:40 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 25, 2007

Fear And Loathing In Agawam, MA

Tomorrow morning it's off to Six Flags New England, where the new "Wiggles World" theme area will be the site of an appearance by the actual Greg, Murray, Jeff and Sam. I expect Captain Feathersword will be there too.

Doesn't Sam look a little too much like Fred Savage?

Now since the opening of Six Flags New England in 1999, I've visited the park twice. My fondest memories of the place were pre-Six Flags when it was plain old Riverside Park. As a kid, going to Riverside was a major highlight of any given summer.

Now? Eh. I can't ride half of the rides because they make me want to puke. My tolerance for the heat of the summer sun has seriously waned. The crowds are intolerable. And everything is ridiculously overpriced. Usually, I'll put up with all of that for a trip to the Mouse House of Mordor in Orlando. But I could never rationalize frequent trips to this place.

Until now, of course. The opening of the Wiggles World area sealed the deal for the Mrs. (also known as the family Entertainment Director). Now, I've got season passes. And tomorrow I'll be enduring just the first in what I'm sure will be a summer full of minivan rides to Agawam, Massachusetts.

Remember me while you're drinking and grilling this weekend.

Damn you, Wiggles!!

UPDATE (5/27):
I'm back. I'm O.K. Though I've learned not to push down on the lap bar for "Superman: Ride of Steel" too hard before taking off. Apparently (at the end of the ride) the car ahead of us was full of hurl and needed to be cleaned out before we could disembark. Sitting in the hot sun with one of your nuts feeling like it's about to rupture is NOT a pleasant experience. Next time I'll sacifice a wee bit of safety for the ability to move the boys into a more comfortable position. Yikes.

Posted by Gary at 03:30 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

If Democrats Get To Write The History Books

It'll look something like this.

Brought to you by DJ Drummond of WizBang Blog. It's a little lengthy but worth the read. Really a masterpiece. And of course it's written in very simple style because all good Democrats understand how stupid the American people are.

Posted by Gary at 02:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Village Idiots of Red Sawx Nation Update

Schilling picks apart his "craptastic" start against the Yankers the other night. Conclusion:

We ended up getting through six but I struggled to do it. 24 base runners in the past 12 innings means there isn’t just one problem here. From lack of command to horrible execution, the problems run the gamut. This game always is and always will be about making adjustments, and right now there is a plethora of adjustments that need to be made. There are worse places to be than 9.5 games up on the second place team in late May, but like anyone else you want to feel like you are part of the solution when it comes to performing. This series was about starting pitching, as most are, and the team whose starter pitched best, won. Sometimes it’s that simple. Players on both teams know how far is left in the race; neither team is even remotely thinking it’s over one way or the other. Bottom line is that we have complete control of our own destiny. Playing this schedule means that when you get a lead this big you’ll play the teams behind you enough to finish them off or let them back in. Throw out my inconsistency and I like our chances. Obviously we need to stay healthy, but we have a solid deep team with tremendous character and those two things are tremendously important over the course of 162 schedule. Add to that a front office that you know will fill any hole we might have come the trading deadline and you have to feel good about this team.

Hang in there, big guy!

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

30 Years Ago Today

On March 25, 1977, "Star Wars" was released in 32 theaters across the country.

Everything about movies changed. Everything.


Merchandising, marketing tie-ins, sequels, digital effects, production budgets, opening weekend grosses, pop culture.

Everything that Hollywood is today - for better or worse - can be traced back to that moment.

And, like it or not, George Lucas has had a bigger impact on modern filmmaking than any single individual since. It just boggles the mind.

Posted by Gary at 11:00 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gratuitous MLB Posting - Northeast Division

Well, here we are creeping up to the end of the first act of the 2007 Major League Baseball season. And it's time to take stock of the landscape in the NL and AL Eastern Divisions. Why? Because it's the Friday before Memorial Day and everyone is either traveling or counting down the hours at work not getting very much done. Humor me.

The New York Mets are playing damn good baseball but have yet to experience a stretch where the team is firing on all cylinders. With their Ace pitcher, Pedro Martinez, out until August 1 and Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez just now coming off the 15-day DL, various spots in the line-up have been alternating slumps - Delgado, Wright, now Jose Reyes. Even middle reliever Guillermo Mota isn't due to take the mound until the end of May. Two regular starters - Moises Alou in the outfield and Jose Valentin at second - are also on the bench nursing minor injuries.


So considering all these challenges, I'd say first place by two in the loss column ahead of the Braves is pretty damn good. Atlanta took the series last night 2 games to 1 after a wicked pitchers duel between two Cy Young Award winners at "the Ted".

Don't get me wrong, Atlanta will be nipping at the Mets (and maybe even flipping back and forth between first and second a couple times) all the way to September 30th. But the Braves record in May is not as good as it was in April when they got off to a hot start. The Mets - injuries and all - have an almost identical winning percentage in both months and their longest losing streak to date has been two games. [Sidebar: Be sure to check out Jayson Stark's article on how overrated a Center Fielder that smirky little asswipe Andruw Jones is at]

As for Philly and the Fish, they seem to be hell bent on fighting each other for third place. At least Philadelphia is only 20 losses away for a record 10,000! And the Nationals. Out of respect for Robbo, I'll skip over that one.

Two other pitching notes on this last series in Atlanta. Oliver Perez is proving not only that he's the real deal but that he's become a bona fide Braves killer. And Joe "who the hell is joe smith?" Smith has been almost unhittable in middle relief. The best quote about Smith's domination in Wednesday's game comes from Toasty Joe: "Joe Smith made [Larry "Chipper" Jones] look like an 8-year old girl swinging a wiffle bat in her parent's back yard."


Now the American League East.

The big story is obviously the implosion of the Yankees. No, they're not dead yet. The Red Sox had a chance to slam the cellar door on them this week and instead allowed New York to hold to the dim hope that they can overcome a 9.5 game deficit and return to their glory days.

Let me step back a minute and give the Yankees some credit. The achievements of that team during the 1995-2000 era was nothing short of unbelievable. Since that time - as Borat would say - "not so much". Really, the 21st Century Yankees are a poor imitation of that late-90's team that had the kind of intangible team chemistry that made them such a phenomenon.

Like an aging porn star who keeps having "work done" to her once perfect body, the Yankees of today graspingly sign big name free agents in an attempt to replace the missing parts that have inevitably fallen away or whithered with age. The most recent example obviously is Roger Clemmons. Short-term solutions sometimes bring short-term results. You can replace some of the horses, but in the long run it's really only a matter of time before the Merry-Go-Round breaks down.

The Red Sox are too good this year not to win that Division and the rest of the American League is too good for New York to realistically hope to make the playoffs. Yankees fans got complacent over the last eleven years. A sense of post-season entitlement crept into their psyches. Right now, they're experiencing the third Stage of Grief.

They passed Denial in April ("I can't believe they're not freakin' winning"). They got over Anger earlier this month ("Freakin' Torre! Freakin' Cashman! WTF?!?"). Now they're in the stage of Bargaining ("Oh, just pay freakin' Clemmons whatever he wants and maybe we can save the season"). By August, I suspect most of them will hit Depression ("When is freakin' NFL kick-off weekend this year?").

But the final stage - Acceptance - may prove to be too elusive. You have to have a certain level of maturity to get there. And that could take years for most Yankees fans.

Posted by Gary at 10:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

So that others will know

The stories of four nominees for the Medal of Honor. From NRO.

Posted by LMC at 07:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2007

"Life Moves Pretty Fast..."

"...If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

Alas, such a philosophy is apparently lost on this poor girl:

A schoolgirl is believed to have created a record by never having a day off in 14 years.

Since starting her education at four, Michelle Boorman, 18, has turned up for lessons on 2,660 consecutive school days.

Other children would bring in sick notes to Newlands Primary School in Ramsgate, Kent, but not Michelle. Nor did she at Clarendon House Grammar School in Ramsgate.

"There is no secret as to why I have not had a day off sick in the whole of my school life," she said.

"I love school so have never been tempted to have a day off or use feeling unwell as an excuse not to come in.

"I have been lucky with my health, but if I have a cold or feel ill, coming to school helps as it takes my mind off it."

Jane Bennett, head of Clarendon House, said: "I have never come across someone with Michelle's attendance figures. I doubt if any teacher has because it is quite remarkable."

Michelle's mother Vanessa said: "If she gets a cold she works through it. When Michelle has been ill, it has been during school holidays."

I know of someone she really needs to talk to:

"Michelle, sweetheart. What's happenin'?"

Hell, I'm thinking of blowing off work tomorrow myself it's so beautiful outside.


Posted by Gary at 12:29 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 23, 2007

Fly the Flag

and drink one for us on Memorial Day. Douglas MacArthur has a few timeless words for thoughtful reflection as you enjoy your adult beverage of choice.

Posted by LMC at 10:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo?

Gone until Monday night or Tuesday. I've an idea it's going to be one roller-coaster of a weekend. I'll see y'all when I get back.

Yip! Yip!

Gratuitous Maudlin Update:

Okay, I can't resist. Here's what the seven year old Llama-ette wrote recently:

My Grandfather, Pops

Pops was a grandfather of mine and he loved me very much. This is his life.

Whe he was thirty-six, my father was born. Then time went by and I was born.

When I was five we had so much fun. When I was six, he was in the hospital. Now I am seven and three days after his seventy-sixth birthday, he died of cancer. Soon I will go to Maine for his service and I will bring lots of flowers.

Please never speak about people who died with me, it will make me sad.

May 10, 2007

Weeeeell, the gel is out by a few years and my own relationship with the old gentleman was a good deal more complicated than that, but I can't help getting a mite weapy at the pure goodness of her memories. It's hard to see her feel this way, but at the same time, it's good to know she can feel this way (if that makes any sense).

As I say, going to be a real interesting weekend.

Posted by Robert at 07:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

John Edwards Linked To $500 Million Booty Call

Thought that would get your attention.

Actually it's pirate booty they're talking about.

The question of the day: Just how much of the $500 million sunken treasure found in the Atlantic last weekend belongs to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards?

I put a call in to Edwards' campaign yesterday morning to find out, but I haven't heard back yet.

The reality? The populist one-term senator will get an undisclosed piece of the action from the sunken 17th-century galleon.

The ship, laden with gold and silver, was found at the bottom of the Atlantic by a little-known exploration company, Florida-based Odyssey Marine Research.

Even less well known is who owns OMR.

Biggest shareholder: New York-based Fortress Investments, a private equity and hedge fund manager. Senior adviser and major investor: John Edwards.

Edwards' personal financial disclosures show he's an investor in the exclusive Drawbridge Global Macro Fund, which owns the 9.9% stake in OMR.

Ten percent of $500 million. After costs, of course.

I think this is timed suspiciously close to Friday's release of "Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End".

"Right. Now I believe the esteemed Sen. Edwards and I might just have a little property rights dispute here. Savvy?"

Posted by Gary at 03:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hugh Laurie, OBE


Congratulations to Hugh Laurie on his creation as a member of the Order of the British Empire by HRH today.

Personally, I don't watch House at all (although the Missus is a firm fan) and I thought the Jeeves & Wooster series something of an abomination. Nonetheless, I recognize Laurie as a good 'un and am quite happy for his recognition.

UPDATE: Here's an amusing little bit o' Fry & Laurie for you:

Posted by Robert at 01:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Obscure Musickal and Historickal Posting (TM)


Today is the birthday, in 1732, of Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer, from whose name we get the modern verb "to mesmerize." Dr. Mesmer was interested in the effects of gravity and magnetism on the human body and believed (or at least got many patrons to pay him to pretend to believe) that so-called "animal magnetism" - an artificially-induced state of hypnosis - could be employed to cure what ails ye.

Mesmer only occupies a chink in the Brain o' Robbo because Mozart, who was a friend of his, made some gentle fun of him in his opera Cosi Fan Tutte:

Act II, Scene 16
Enter Despina disguised as a doctor, Don Alfonso

Here's the doctor,
Gentle ladies!

Despina dressed up!
How heavily she's disguised!

"Salvete, amabiles,
Bonae puellae!"

He speaks a language
We do not understand.

Let's speak, then,
As you command me.
I know Greek and Arabic,
Turkish and the Vandal tongue;
And I can speak
Swabian and Tartar too.

Keep all these languages
For yourself, sir;
For the moment,
Look at these poor fellows;
They've taken poison;
What can be done?

Yes, doctor,
What can be done?

feeling the pulse and forehead of each
First I must know
The nature of this potion
And the reason it was taken;
Whether it was swallowed
Hot or cold,
A little or much,
In one draught
Or in several.

They took arsenic,
Good doctor,
And drank it here.
The cause was love
And they swallowed it
In a single gulp.

Don't worry,
Don't be afraid;
Here is an earnest
Of my skill.

He's taken a piece
Of iron in his hand.

This is
A piece of magnet,
The stone which the great
Doctor Mesmer discovered
In Germany
And then became
So famous in France.

She touches the heads of the feigned invalids with the magnet and gently draws it the length of their bodies.

In most of the productions I've seen, that last stage direction is liberally interpreted, much to the satisfaction of the audience.

The other interesting link is that one of Dr. Mesmer's patients was the young, blind pianist Maria Theresa von Paradis:


In 1777 Mesmer famously tried (and failed) to cure her of her blindness by the use of his magnetic treatment and, as a result, had to clear out of Vienna for Paris (hence the French fame mentioned by Mozart).

Paradis links back into this mix because Mozart also wrote a piano concerto for her, most likely one of my very favorites, the Concerto No. 18 in B-flat, K. 456. I particularly love the ravishing G-minor andante movement. Evidently, Mozart did, too, because he used a remarkably similar idea for Barbarina's woe-be-gone Cavatina that opens Act IV of Le Nozze di Figaro, "L'ho perduta, me meschina", albeit in a different key and tempo. (If you have Windows Media Player, compare the two here and here (Disk 3, No. 4).) Mozart is not known for recycling musical ideas and the fact that he does so here indicates to me that he must have really liked it. As I say, I do too.

Posted by Robert at 12:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Buck Blogging

With “Ardala Returns”, the “Buck Rogers” writers returned to a familiar formula – hot women and space battles. Then, inexplicably, the producers decide to air what can only be described as two episodic “speedbumps” heading into the beginning of the February sweeps period – “Twiki Is Missing” & “Olympiad”.

Ep. 1.18 “Twiki is missing” (1/31/80)

I’m not going to spend too much time on these sub-par episodes. Suffice to say that despite the title of this one, Twiki never really is “missing”. He’s just kidnapped by the ruler of a mining colony named Kurt Belzak who’s run into labor problems. It seems ambuquads are ideal for that kind of dangerous work - plus they don't go on strike or take smoking breaks. But Belzak wants Twiki in particular because Buck's influence and Jedi training have made him special. So the plan is to create a workforce full of Twikis. Of course, replicating him means having to take him apart.

You think Buck is going to stand for that? Not when his little buddy is in trouble. Belzak has at his disposal three chicks called the “Omniguard” who together can use their telekinetic powers to work his will. The girls, led by Stella, overpower Buck and steal Twiki after he refuses a generous purchase price. Unlike the other two, however, Stella doesn't want to be bad. Belzak has threatened to kill her son if she doesn't comply. Buck persuades Stella to become the weak link in the Omniguard chain and he escapes with Twiki.

"Omniguard powers...ACTIVATE!"

Pretty lame story, huh? Well, at least there’s always Wilma, right?

Forget it.

Wilma spends the whole time in her ship pulling a giant space iceberg with a tractor beam. What are the writers thinking here? I mean how about a sweet catfight between the lovely Colonel and one of the Omiguard chicks? Or better yet how about two on one or three on one. Missed opportunity, gentlemen. Missed opportunity.

Episode Rating: Pass (No catsuits, no catfights, no nuthin')

Well, at least the episode that followed was topical:

Ep. 1.19 “Olympiad” (2/7/80)

This is one of those episodes where – as a kid – you don’t question the obvious plot holes like the fact that everybody in the galaxy looks human, speaks English and uses the metric system.

It seems that the Olympic games are just so darn popular that they’ve gone intergalactic. They still even do it every four years. And 2492 just happens to be one of those years. Ironic how some traditions manage to withstand a thermonuclear holocaust, eh? And what better marketing move by the Olympic Committee than to invite a guy from the 20th Century to kick off the games?

The story is basically Romeo and Juliet meet the Cold War, updated on an interplanetary scale. Two athletes from different worlds are star-crossed lovers who only get to see each other when they meet at the games. Talk about a drought. The athletes, Jorex and Lara, both want to defect so they can be together. The Directorate is prepared to offer them asylum on Earth. The problem is that the powers that be from Jorex’s planet, Lozeria, have installed something called a disharmonizor in his head. If activated, the device can basically scramble his brains. It acts as a pretty handy deterrent against Jorex’s desire to defect.

Umm, Lara? What say you let me take the controls and you can play with my joystick?

Like the Soviets of the 1980’s, the Lozerians take these games pretty seriously and refuse to suffer the embarrassment of losing one of their star athletes.

Lara’s event is the astrosled, which is basically a spaceship that's supposed to fly through a track made of force fields in space. In order to make the disharmonizer in Jorex’s head useless, Buck flies the astrosled with Jorex and Lara through the Stargate – which puts them out of range of the activation device.

OK, why use the astrosled instead of Buck’s ship? Because it’s easier for them to leave the planet undetected that way. See? They do come up with plausible explanations sometimes. Of course, you can ask why doesn’t Lara just pilot the astrosled being as she’s the expert? Umm. OK, you got me there. But then, how else can you have Buck save the day?

The one interesting footnote to this episode is that it was aired about a week before the actual 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, NY. And you would think that one of NBC’s drivers behind the plot would be to cross-promote their coverage of the Olympics. But actually it was ABC who did the coverage that year. NBC had the summer games and they got skunked when Jimmah Carter pulled the US out from participation because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Which, as we all now, really showed the Russians what they were dealing with.

I’m not sure which was lamer, that brilliant move on Carter’s part or this episode in general.

Episode Rating: Pass (Not as boring as coverage of the real Olympics, but pretty close)

Next up: Sheba from the old "Battlestar Galactica" makes an appearance in “A Dream Of Jennifer”.

The first post in this series can be found here.

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

Gratuitous Historickal Kewlness

The entire Civil War (or War Between the States, whatever your tastes) in four+ minutes.

The history geek in me is speechless.

Thanks for the h/t, Jonah!

UPDATED YIPS! from Robbo: Evidently, the mighty G-Man caused too many people to swipe the embed, because now that function has been disabled. Here's the YouTube link so you can go view it there.

Posted by Gary at 09:00 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

May 22, 2007

That's My Church.


The Arch-Bish of Canterbury throws gas on the fire by deciding not to invite Bishops Gene Robinson and Martyn Minns to next year's Lambeth Conference.

Go on over to Canon Kendall Harmon's new digs for a round-up of developments and reactions, including +Gene's that's-not-faaaiiir sputterings.

Me? I'm getting past caring anymore. I had a vestry meeting last evening in which we discussed ideas for the next five years at our church and found myself not really giving a damn one way or the other - even when suggestions like casual dress or a new labrynth were floated - since I seriously doubt I'll be there beyond next spring. I'll be going to tomorrow night's "discussion" of the draft Anglican Covenant that's floating about with similar numbness since I know that absolutely nothing anybody says there is going to have the remotest impact on the formal response served up by Her High Priestessness and her minions at the 815.

UPDATE: Yep, let's go to the videotape:

UPDATE DEUX: And as long as I'm at it, it's Confuse-A-Cat!

Nothing to do with the Church, I just happen to like it.

Posted by Robert at 04:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Spot Sniff The Anarchist Hippy!

German authorities using scent tracking to keep an eye a nose on G-8 protesters.

German authorities are using scent tracking to keep tabs on possibly violent protesters against next month's Group of Eight summit - a tactic that is drawing comparisons with the methods of former East Germany's secret police.

Scent samples have been taken from an undisclosed number of people believed to be a possible danger to the upcoming summit so that police dogs can pick out the perpetrators if there is violence, the Hamburger Morgenpost reported Tuesday.

Andreas Christeleit, a spokesman for federal prosecutors, confirmed the report but would give no further details.

"This has happened to several suspects," he said.

The use of scent samples was widely known to be practiced in Germany by the East German secret police, the Stasi, who used the technique to track dissidents.

Why use "scent samples"? How hard can it be for dogs to locate people who don't bathe?

Posted by Gary at 04:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Oh, Why Not.

I see where Kelsey Grammer has a new tee vee comedy coming out this fall. I suppose those rumors of his running as a GOP candidate for the Senate are a bit premature.

One of the Missus' best friends routinely refers to me as "Sideshow Bob". I dunno what she's talking about since I have rayther short hair, but here's a best-of compilation. See for yourself if there's any similarity:

Just so long as she doesn't start calling me Sideshow Cecil.....

Posted by Robert at 01:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ultimate timewaster

Robbo, I hereby destroy any pretense for your job productivity. Behold: The Maze of Doom.


Yips! from Robbo: Curse you! Phin sent me the game before, but I see it's been upgraded with a "fun mode" now.

Posted by Steve-O at 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Towel me off and call me Susan

It's Fred! on slavery, human trafficking, and the UN.

Posted by Steve-O at 11:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Sir Laurence Olivier!

If not the greatest actor of the 20th Century, certainly one of them, Larry was born this day in 1907 in Surrey.

Here's his St. Crispian's Day speech from the 1944 version of Henry V:

I increasingly favor this version over Brannagh's more recent effort not because I think the acting is better but because I become more and more impatient with Brannagh's "New Criticism" interpretation of the piece. (But that's the subject of another rant another time.)

And here, to get a rise out of our Maximum Leader (who thinks Richard the single-most maligned monarch in the history of England), is his extremely creepy "Now is the winter of our discontent" speech from Richard III:

And here is Peter Sellers aping Larry to such perfection that he ought to be ashamed of himself, and possibly shot:

If you're looking for some interesting Netflix fodder and you haven't done so before, you might consider tossing in 1957's The Prince and the Showgirl, in which Olivier is the Prince-Regent of Carpathia and Marilyn Monroe is an American chorus girl. Larry is hilarious doing a Balkan-royalty shtick (as is Sybil Thorndike, who plays the Queen Dowager). Monroe is funny, too, although not for the reasons she might imagine. (Where else are you going to see her breath that immortal line, "God bless President Taft!") The movie turns to mush and stalls out about two thirds of the way through, but the first part makes it well worth a look.

In his autobiography, Olivier relates the terrible time he had dealing with Monroe while filming this movie. At one point, Monroe's character is supposed to suffer a wardrobe malfunction just as the Prince is about to meet her in a back-stage receiving line. The story goes that Monroe threw a fit after one of the takes because she thought she had revealed too much and that all the stage-hands saw her. When an inquiry went round the set about this, the reply came back, "They were all watching Mr. Olivier." Heh.

Posted by Robert at 10:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

More "24" Thoughts

It's *** spoiler filled *** and all below the fold.

Adam over at the "The Jack Sack" had some interesting comments about the "24" Season Six finale and the series in general that were really thought-provoking. Here's a bit of it:

But the show's best scene, probably of the whole season in fact, came courtesy of William Devane (SecDef James Heller) yet again. Devane and Sutherland own the screenwriters. Whatever crap those drunk bastards in the Writer's Room come up with gets shined to a gleaming piece of gold by these two professional actors. But the scene with Jack and Heller was a good reality-check for the show; folks, Jack Bauer is broken. It's fun to see the guy take out 30 Chinese dudes in 2 minutes flat, but the sad fact is that he is so far down a path of psychosis that he may not ever be truly normal ever again. This is interesting material. Now, I'm not asking that there be therapy sessions with Jack and Dr. Melfi on the show, but the occasional mention of Jack's mental state lends credibility to the show. And I like the nod to the end of season 3 where after everything dies down, Jack got into his car and started crying like a deranged mess of a man. But last night, in a similar set-up, all you saw was emptiness on Jack's face. And what James Heller said to Jack about needing to be in the game is completely true. Jack is made to do this-- and for at least two more seasons, we get to watch more life and humanity get sucked out of this tragic hero.
The comment I left on that post was:
Adam, you're right. As much as the show is about fighting terrorism it's about Jack and how a human being can put himself through all of this for our enjoyment and still manage to hold it together, barely.

It was nice to see Jack really happy again at the start of Season Four. For about five minutes. The fact is (pardon the cliche) he doesn't have TIME for all of that. When he's happy, he's weakened. Jack Bauer wouldn't think twice about sacrificing himself. But when he's faced with having to sacrifice someone he loves, he thinks too much.

This is why Teri had to die at the end of Season One. This is why (as hot as she is) they needed to get Kim off the show. And this is why he had to let go of Audrey.

Twenty-four hours is not a lot of time and distractions crowd the plot.

Now the series can "reload" and start fresh. No distractions. No girlfriends (Marilyn?). No family members in danger. Now the focus can go back to "how f'd up a situation can we put Jack in and how does he get out of it?".

And just how did Jack impregate Chloe from over five thousand miles away?

I have some real gripes about the way this season went, especially so many unresolved questions like:

What happened to Wayne Palmer?
What happened to Charles Logan?
What was the big brouhaha with Mike Doyle back in Denver?
Why did they let Martha Logan have access to knives?

But from what I understand, the show will be getting an almost brand new cast and will be operating out of New York. I'm not the only person who's observed that there seemed to be a lot less Jack Bauer in this season. As long as the writers remember what this show is really all about, I think we could be looking at an excellent season next January.

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

Paging Alanis Morrisette

Cue the Carly Simon music: this just made my day.

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who as a Democratic presidential candidate recently proposed an educational policy that urged "every financial barrier" be removed for American kids who want to go to college, has been going to college himself -- as a high paid speaker, his financial records show.

The candidate charged a whopping $55,000 to speak at to a crowd of 1,787 the taxpayer-funded University of California at Davis on Jan. 9, 2006 last year, Joe Martin, the public relations officer for the campus' Mondavi Center confirmed Monday.

That amount -- which comes to about $31 a person in the audience -- included Edwards' travel and airfare, and was the highest speaking fee in the nine appearances he made before colleges and universities last year, according to his financial records.

The earnings -- though made before Edwards was a declared Democratic presidential candidate -- could hand ammunition to his competition for the Democratic presidential nomination. The candidate -- who was then the head of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina -- chose to speak on "Poverty, the great moral issue facing America," as his $55,000 topic at UC Davis.

UPDATE: I know The Glacier(TM) is looking for a campaign song: is fluffy tresses looking too? If so, I have the perfect choice:

Posted by Steve-O at 08:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 21, 2007

Welcome Back, Steve-O

Sometimes you just gotta play it...over and over and over...

Go ahead. Click it: The Llama Song It's addictive.

Posted by Gary at 11:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Back in the swing

Robbo and Gary have been doing all the heavy lifting around here the past two weeks or so, as I finished off the semester and got all the grades in. I'm going to ease back into the groove anon.

Posted by Steve-O at 08:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

24 Season Finale

jack  bauer super pda.jpg
I hate to say it, but I'm handing in my CTU blogger ID card tonight.

This season of 24 kind of reminds me of that old joke whose punchline is, "I'm sorry, you don't undertsand: Chunks is my dog." It's hard to say whether this season was worse than drunken fellatio performed on a canine---it's too jiggity to even pose the question. But it certainly hasn't been entertaining tee-vee.

Dave Barry summarizes the season wrapup succinctly:

During the actual show, we loyal viewers are hoping that the writers at last answer the key questions regarding the plot, namely:

1. What is the plot?

2. There are writers?

3. How much do they make?

4. What will be the the "cliffhanger" ending that sets us up for next season?

5. Will it involve either China or Audrey?

6. If so, where can we get some cyanide?.

My feelings going in hover between "whatever" and "I wonder what Law & Order repeat is on TNT." I hate to say it, but I'm going to transfer my fanboy obssessive loyalty to either The Sarah Connor Chronicles or, dare I say it, Battlestar Galactica.

I wrote about it back in January, but I think 24 shot the bolt after the nuke went off at 9:59: it was kind of the evil terrorist version of Jim and Pam, Sam and Diane, or Maggie and Fleischman: once the love affair (in the case, between the terrorist scumbags and mass death) was consumated, the dramatic tension of the show is released, and it's all down hill from there. The rest of the season might as well have featured the return of long lost cousin Oliver (in the form of Ricky Schroeder) to be officially DOA.

Posted by Steve-O at 08:16 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Literary Posting (TM)

In addition to a Psalm and a passage from Corinthians, one of the readings for Dad's memorial this weekend will be Robert Louis Stevenson's short but touching "Requiem":

UNDER the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

I won't bore you with a long explanation of the fittingness of this piece - in the end, all Dad wanted was to get home and his remains will be placed in the memorial garden of the little seasonal island church up the hill from our house that he came to love.

Instead, I mention the poem because I love it for its simple elegance, the last lines of each stanza in particular always giving me the chills. Stevenson doesn't immediately spring to mind for his poetry these days, but there's no denying that the man had an ear for it.

Posted by Robert at 04:03 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

"My Name Is Gollum And I'm Here To Sing, Sing, Sing!"

The latest manifestation of The Lord of the Rings: The Musical is growing, like the Shadow, on the London Stage:

This production will probably be remembered more for its sights than its sounds, however. The sheer scale of the beasties – the giant black furry spider; Balrog, the humungous redeyed demon from the underworld; and, tallest of all, the 20ft stilted ents – gives this Rings the feel of a Rio carnival reenacted in Covent Garden.

None of the speaking actors creates as vivid an impression as the snorting, leather-clad orcs, who power-skip and somersault across the stage like warthogs in bondage gear, and nearly steal the show when they cavort among the front rows of the stalls during the break between Acts II and III. Alongside these circus stunts, there are illusions, such as the vanishing of Bilbo Baggins in Act I, and a succession of back-projected images that hover above and behind the action. Warchus’s bid to fashion what he calls “total theatre” is about as total a spectacle as this theatregoer has witnessed.

Erm, right.

This reminds me of something I've long thought about the books, namely, that the weakest point in the entire story comes when Samwise, lost in the guard tower above Cirith Ungol, separated from Frodo, alone and in near-despair, breaks into song.

I know it's supposed to be moving, but I'm afraid every time I get to it I suddenly imagine the text of the song changing to "Climb Every Mountain" and I can't help but to start sniggering.

I've an idea I'd do a lot of that watching this, too, when I wasn't busy pulling my hair out in frenzied outrage.

Yips! from Gary (the Tolkien Geek):
And lest we forget that tense moment en route to Rivendell when Sam inexplicably decides to break into a version of "the Troll song". I always thought of this as Sam's "I always wanted to be a Lumberjack" moment.

Yips! back from Robbo: Yes. I was also wondering whether Sam's Tater Rap would make it into the stage show.

Posted by Robert at 12:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)

As most of you probably know, fellow Moo-Knewvian Annika posted her last journal post this weekend. She's off to swot for the bar exam and plans to return to these here WorldWideWebs in the capacity of a semi-guest blogger hither and yon. We wish her the best of luck, but I hope she keeps the AJ site up because I find that rotating self-image cartoon thingy of her up in the top left corner to be endlessly mesmerizing.

Anyway, Annika very kindly mentioned your humble correspondent as a source for history posting. Flattery will get you absolutely everywhere with ol' Robbo, so I was spurred to throw down two points which happen to be bubbling in my brain today.

The first centers on this book, which I just recently started:

People Army.gif

A People's Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years' of War by Fred Anderson. The book eventually will get into all kinds of social and economic metrics, in addition to the actual experience of fighting the French and the Indians, but I simply wanted to point out that the first 25 pages or so provide the single best damn overview of pre-Revolutionary political and military developments in the Colonies I think I've ever come across. Anderson is a terrific historickal writer (I also love his much longer treatment of the French & Indian War) and, as I've said many times before, this is a period of American history which gets sadly ignored these days, but is nonetheless critical to helping us understand how the United States got to be the United States.

The other point, for those of you who might like a slightly more modern flavor, is that I've started in on Sir Richard Burton's account of his wanderings across what is now Tanzania:

Lake Regions.gif

The Lake Regions of Central Africa by Sir Richard F. Burton. Burton was one of the more flamboyant Victorian adventurers, with an intense interest in almost everything around him as well. This chronicle is fascinating both for his observations about the locals as well as for the many aspects of his own character that show through.

My copy, a hardback issued in the early 90's, is actually titled Journey To The Source of the Nile, which is very close to John Hanning Speke's The Discovery of the Source of the Nile. Speke, another explorer, accompanied Burton on his trip into the East African interior in 1857 in the search for the fabled Great Lakes there. Burton was the first to spot Lake Tanganyika, but Speke, pressing on without him, came across Lake Victoria. While he couldn't prove it (for the loss of most of his surveying equipment), Speke was of the opinion that Victoria was a/the source of the Nile, and said so when he returned to England despite an apparent agreement between the two men to keep the information to themselves until they could announce it together and coordinate plans to go back and confirm the findings. When Burton arrived home a few days later, he found that Speke had stolen all of the thunder for himself. A furious feud broke out between them as a result. It was to have culminated in a public debate at Bath in September, 1864, however on the morning of the debate, Speke managed to kill himself while out bird-shooting. (Whether this was suicide or an accident has never been completely decided.)

One of the results of this feud is that Burton never ever mentions Speke by name in his account of the journey, referring to him only as "my companion" throughout the text. I don't know whether the publishers changed the title of my copy to boost its sales attractiveness or to take sides in the Burton/Speke feud by getting in a dig at the latter.

Posted by Robert at 10:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Today My Name Is Robbo the Red

#2 Google hit result for viking longboat model ideas, baybee!

Maybe with this newly-acquired status I should take the lead in demanding that somebody get their finger out and finally issue Erik the Viking on DVD.

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

Yet another division of LLamabutchers Industries

This from our old pal Keith S., for those of you who want to stick it to the Algorites: the official Carbon Debits fund, to invest to wipe out other people's carbon credits:

Carbon Debits - Increasing Your Carbon Footprint...

Making a carbon debit is a delicate matter taking both skill and time. Our carbon debiting process starts with our FECON spinning shredder and a driver who has vendetta against trees. Add any tree and about 20 seconds and a carbon debit is born!
On a Mission - Taking Away Al Gore's Carbon Credits...
We are on a mission to take away every one of Al Gore's meaningless carbon credits by simply providing carbon debits. Help us make this dream a reality by purchasing one of the packages below. Don't let Al Gore assuage his guilt with meaningless penance, heap it back on with carbon debits – every one of which we will let him know about.
Do We Really Kill Trees?
The short answer is "Yes". We run a burgeoning business of clearing trees from grasslands so the Antelope won’t be scared. As silly as that previous sentence sounds it is the truth. So, you can have a clear conscience that you removed a terror inducing tree in an effort to improve the antelope state of mind – which makes them better targets during hunting season. Although we don’t completely follow the logic of the game and fish department on this, we go along with it.

Knowing Keith, he's financing the durn thing too!

Posted by Steve-O at 09:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hey, Isn't That The Chick From "Firefly"?

Terminator TV, coming to Fox this fall: "The Sarah Connor Chronicles"

Come with me if you want to live? You got it, babe.

h/t: HotAir

Posted by Gary at 09:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 20, 2007

Gratuitious Domestic Posting (TM) - Cri Du Colgate Division

Just as the extremely lame 400th Simpsons episode was wrapping up, the five year old appeared on the basement steps, her face and hair plastered with toothpaste, with the announcement that she couldn't get to sleep and didn't know what to do.


I imagine that the shower and shampoo I administered to her probably wasn't all that far removed from what the terrorist bastards get at Gitmo.

As I say, Grrrrrrrr............

"Pay attention ta meeeeeeeeee, Daddy Longshanks!!!"

Posted by Robert at 08:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

How To Seriously Annoy Your Wife

"This is funny, Dear, I'm down to 157. Looks like what with that flu and all the exercise, I dropped five pounds this week. Huh."

"Wait! What did I say?"

Posted by Robert at 08:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Reviews


Idiocracy (2006).

Contrary to my expectation of the other day, it looks like this is the only movie I'll have had time for this weekend. Had I known what was in store, I might have reconsidered my choice.

The plot is this: A low-level slacker from the present time gets involved in an army experiment that causes him to be frozen in suspended animation for 500 years. In the meantime, the world's collective intelligence nose-dives. When the guy wakes up, it turns out he's smarter than anybody else. Hy-larity ensues as the locals first mock him for not being dumberer and then try to use his superior intellect to solve all their problems (most of which involve Gatorade).

Basically, we're talking Buck Rodgers meets Beavis & Butthead (which makes sense, as the flick was made by Mike Judge).

Well.....I liked the premise. And the explanation of how Mankind's evolutionary path transmogrified from survival-of-the-fittest natural selection to lowest-common-denominator drool-fest was quite funny. But from there, the movie simply fell flat. There really wasn't anything one could call character development, the plot was listless and hokey and the endlessly repetitve "We be dumb" jokes got pretty old, pretty fast.

All in all, I'd give it about 1.5 orgles out of 5, and that's only because of the evolutionary bit towards the beginning.

Incidentally, Maya Rudolph was the female lead. (She plays a street-smart prostitute who gets sent into the future in the same experiment as nice-guy slacker Luke Wilson.) I bring this up only because I happened to catch a few minutes of Saturday Night Live last evening when we got home. I haven't seen the show in years and years. This is what passes for funny these days? Yeesh. I'd say Idiocracy may be more prophetic than we might realize.

Posted by Robert at 02:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

Okay, Jen, so you say you want some peony posting? Here we go.


Much more below the fold.....

For whatever reason, peonies do wonderfully around here. They're practically maintenance-free AND the deer aren't the slightest bit interested. I got all of these from Nicholls Gardens, a local hippy-ish nursery. (Last time I called, their answering machine said something like, "Hi! We're all out loving our little plant friends right now, but if you'll leave your name....") For all their quirks, they certainly have a good product:





On the whole, I prefer the singles to the more pompom-like doubles, but I think it's nice to have a mix. Also, I think that the creamy-white petals are my favorite. (I have some dark reds and some other pinks that haven't opened yet, as well.)

Aaaaand, how about some roses, too? These came from my parents' place in Maine. I transplanted them on arriving home in the dead of August two years ago, yet they don't seem to have minded at all.

I believe this one is a variety known as "Winter Sunset". This is just about my very favorite rose color:


I forget what this one is called, but it's also quite nice:


I've a deeper red that hasn't opened yet. But speaking of red roses, check out what Mr. Improved Blaze is doing on the front of the house:


I'm proud of this not because it's reached its potential, but because a year ago it was only a straggling, four foot tall, deer-ravaged cripple. Now that it's got itself established, I expect each succeeding year to be so much better than the last. (For a really excellent mature climber, you should check out regular-reader Babs'. The thing is a monster.)

What else? Well, here's some more columbine:


And one of the clematis has started blooming, too:


Finally, here's another shot of our friend the rhododenron before it starts fading:


Well, there you have it. Up next are the rest of the peonies and roses, the big blue clem by the garage and the foxglove (my personal favorites).

Posted by Robert at 12:45 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 19, 2007

Gratuitous Political Observation

What the heck. I'm just going to go ahead and set myself up for public tarring and feathering from the conservative side of the blogsphere by saying that I simply can't get that worked up over the whole immigration debate one way or t'other.

It's not as if I don't have an opinion, because I certainly do. My opinion is that I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I fully sympathize with the arguments about security and respect for the law and guv'mint costs and honoring those who've come through the system legally, etc., etc. (although I think the argument about all those illegals stealing our precious lawn-care and custodial jobs is a lot of hooey). On the other hand, I know perfectly well that if I were a Mexican peasant, I'd be practicing the breast stroke, too.

It's a knotty issue and, frankly, I don't know the correct solution. But at the same time, as I say, I simply cannot work myself up into the kind of fury that so many seemed to have unleashed at the White House's announcement of an immigration "deal" this week (which I'd be very surprised to see actually turn into law anyway). By the outright hysterics everybody seems to be having, you'd think Dubya had just announced an invitation to Bin Laden to become the new Secretary of State. And to be honest, I'm astounded at the number of people who apparently would pick this as the single issue over which to abandon the GOP. I mean, there's a war on fer chrissakes. You really want to leave it to the Donks?

So there it is.

Careful with those feathers - I'm a sneezer.

UPDATE: Yup, reader response is about what I figured:


I suppose I didn't make myself clear. I don't disagree with the need for immigration reform or the reasons behind it. As it happens, I also don't know what the right combination of streamlining, strengthening, enforcement and (yes) leniency is, nor what is realistically possible given the current political climate.

My main point, which I'll say again, is that conservatives now threatening to take a dive over this issue and allow Hillary! & Co to take over next year are talking dangerous crazy.

Posted by Robert at 10:28 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

May 18, 2007

Gratuitous Close-Enough-To-The-Weekend Musickal Posting

How about a little kicking back?

Why I don't own this movie yet I don't know, because I happen to think it's terrific.

Brother Llamas, what say you?

UPDATE: And as long as I'm on the kicking-back-tunes-from-movies-I-should-own-theme, here ya go:

Another classic. Incidentally, somebody told me that Blue Lou (the sax player) got himself off heroin and turned into some kind of professional bodybuilder. Go figure.


Posted by Robert at 03:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

That's My Church!



Actually, I don't have that much to say at the moment. But my minder** has dropped by here looking for fresh bloviation several times in the past few days and, well, I feel kind of bad not serving anything up.

Not that there haven't been those trying to prod me. Steve-O dropped a link to the story about Tony Blair swimming the Tiber, wondering whether I might beat him to it. Meanwhile, the Colossus has been leaving tidbits about the South American Anglicans moving to pick off some more dissident TEC diocese, the break-away Fort Worth being a prime candidate. And I see just today that OpinionJournal has an article about the conversion to Rome of Francis Beckwith, a well-known Evangelical bigwig, and NRO has a book review of a new history of the Catholic Church from WWI to the present that, I gather, seeks to overturn a lot of the conventional wisdom (e.g., the Pope was a Nazi stooge).

In the meantime, I've got a stack of reading material through which I am slowly and painfully working that includes Cardinal Newman, Chesterton, Lewis, a bunch of modern conversion testiments and Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice (since, frankly, in my ponderings to date I'm still more inclined to Orthodox Anglicanism than to making the jump all the way). I say "slowly and painfully" because I try only to read this sort of thing when I'm completely alone and undisturbed, and I only seem to have about a twenty minute window of such conditions most days before I lose consciousness.

On the local front, we've got our "discussions" of the Draft Anglican Covenant 'N Study Guide coming up the next two Wednesdays. I suppose I should be getting stirred up for these, but I'm finding it hard, largely because I believe absolutely nothing I say is going to have the slightest impact on anything. To me, trying to fight for reform from within ECUSA now is, to borrow from Douglas Adams, the equivalent of trying to convert Farenheit to centigrade in your head while your house is burning down and, somehow, simply doesn't seem worth it anymore.

** I'll tell you all about what this means some other time.

UPDATE: Oh and by the way, congrats to Dean, whose feelings about the Eucharist I, of course, echo whole-heartedly.

Posted by Robert at 02:47 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Weekend Netflix Choice O' Viewing

Just in case you were interested, here's what's in the mailbox at Orgle Manor:

Fargo - What with one thing and another, I've never seen it before. Hope it's as good as everybody says. With Steve Buscemi, how could it be far off?

Persuasion - To get in solid with the Missus, although I like it myself. For one thing, I like the naval theme (Austen had two brothers in the Royal Navy, both of whom reached flag rank). For another, I'm a big fan of Ciarán Hinds, who I think has a terrific stage presence. On the other hand, we have a bit of an informal debate going about whether the young lady's slip off the wall wasn't a bit on the contrived side for Miss Jane.

Idiocracy - I don't know why. Somebody recommended it and I tossed it in the queue. We shall see.

I'll probably wind up watching all three. This is just about the last weekend for the foreseeable future that I'll even have time to think about such things.

Posted by Robert at 01:36 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

And Then, Depression Set In

It's official. My days as a "thirty-something" are now officially over. Kaput.

Not a day I've been looking forward to. And normally I don't dwell on birthdays as they approach. But 4-0 is a biggie.


I'm sure Steve and Robert will be giving me the obligatory "quitcherbitchin'" slaps to the back of the head. They've been through this already.

So let's at least look at May 18th in history and find other reasons to mark the day (courtesty of Wikipedia).

Omar Khayyam - the Persian "Rubaiyat" Poet (1048)
Johann Jakob Froberger - German Composer (1616)
Bertrand Russell - English mathematician/philosopher (1872)
Frank Capra (1897)
Perry Como (1912)
Pope John Paul II (1920)
Reggie Jackson (1937)
Chow Yun-Fat (1955)
Tina Fey (1970)

Interesting vocational progression, no?

And on this day in history:
- In 1152, England's King Henry II marries Eleanor of Aquitane (note: throw "The Lion In Winter" in your Netflix queue - Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn)
- In 1804, the French Senate proclaims Napolean Dynamite Bonaparte Emporer of France
- In 1863, the Union army under General U.S. Grant begins the Seige of Vicksburg
- In 1896, one of the worst Supreme Court decisions - Plessy v. Ferguson - is handed down
- In 1897, Dracula by Bram Stoker is published
- In 1917, Congress passes the Selective Service Act, authorizing a draft
- In 1980, Mount Saint Helens erupts (I turned 13 that day and very well may erupted myself)
- In 1992, the 27th Amendment providing the Congressional pay raises take place in the Congress following the one under which it is passed is ratified

In Memoriam: Daws Butler (1988), voice of such memorable cartoon characters as Huckleberry Hound, Droopy Dog and Yogi Bear.

Have a great day everyone. I'll be going out tonight to get pissed.

BIG 4-0 YIPS! from Steve & Robbo: Welcome to our world, buddy:

Posted by Gary at 12:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Starships Origami

Paper Star Destroyer.jpg

Well, not exactly, but it makes a snappy title. No, instead a colleague sends along this link to the SF Movie Papercraft Gallery where you can download, cut out and paste together paper models of Star Wars, Star Trek and other ships.

Warning No. 1: The instructions are in Japanese, so unless you're fluent you'll just have to wing it.

Warning No. 2: Pursuant to anti-geek statutes, no one over the age of 15 is allowed to download a model unless accompanied by a child.

UPDATE: Here's some more - a Serenity model and another page full of sci-fi odds and ends.

Posted by Robert at 09:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It's Gold, Jerry! Gold! **


By now you've probably seen this pic of Jerry Seinfeld swinging into the Cannes Film Festival in a giant bee costume to promote some new animated movie of his.

I have to ask, in Jerry's own words, "What are you doing? Are you this desperate?"

I hope the movie turns out a success and all, but seeing Jerry pull what amounts to a Kramer-like publicity stunt makes me wonder if the Seinfeld Curse is now catching up with its namesake.

Bumblebee Man.bmp
"Ay, caramba! Tu es loco in la cabeza! Leave eet to us professionals, senor!"

Yips! to Kevin at Wizbang, who's using the pic as the subject of this week's Caption Contest.

** Regular Seinfeld fans will recognize the quote, which has made its way into my family's lexicon (as have many other expressions from the show).

Posted by Robert at 09:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observations

Sleepy Beth takes it to Dee Cee area traffic reporters.

Thank Heaven, my commute doesn't involve any major arteries like I-95, 66 or the 14th Street Bridge. Instead, I wend my way through the minor suburban feeders to the nearest metro station (about three or four miles off) and then ho! for downtown. Granted, this opens up a whole new can-o-rants, but I'll save those for other posts.

It's quite true that traffic has got measurably worse 'round here in recent years as the inner and outer suburban rings have boomed. However, compared with the commuting stories of friends I've had in the suburbs of, say, Noo Yawk, where a commute of 2 hours is no big deal, I must say that I sometimes think we NoVAnians had led something of a spoiled life heretofore.

Not that I like it, mind you. It usually takes me something in the neighborhood of an hour to wend my way in and I shudder to think about folks as far afield as, say Stafford or Ashburn and beyond.

One of my dreams is that some day when I go back into private practice I can bag a slot at a firm in Tyson's Corner. That would make my commute ten, fifteen minutes, tops.

The prospect is so wonderful that I'm almost afraid to even think about it.

Posted by Robert at 08:45 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 17, 2007

Gratuitous Close-Enough-To-Friday 80's Musick Flashback Posting

Cranky Gordon and others are noting that ol' Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham is blegging for a campaign theme song. Well, I've got one that immediately springs to mind:

Hill, I'll make you a deal. You karaoke this one in complete Slinky-Dancer (TM) get up (with Bubba taking the solo), and I'll seriously consider supporting you. It'll almost be worth the destruction of the country just to see.

Posted by Robert at 05:05 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


This is interesting - a peek into the legendary Beeb Radiophonics Studio and the making of the Dr. Who theme and other sound effects:

The piece dates back to the Peter Davidson era, which is just as well for me because Davidson was the last Doctor I paid any real attention to. (Yes, I still maintain that the Ninth Doctor, whose series has been running on SciFi lately, looks like a soccer hooligan. The Tenth (and latest) Doctor looks like one of Michael Palin's old British gangland characters come to sell you dirty books or high-class escorts.) I strongly suspect, however, that most of the equipment used has long since been replaced, and that the various gizmoes featured here may as well have vacuum-tubes sticking out their backs for all they're worth now.

Incidentally, this was the same studio where the old Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy tee vee and radio effects were generated. If they sounded like they came from a bunch of guys messing around in a basement, it's because they did.

Yips! to Scuffulans Hirsutusian Don. (Sooper-Sekret Note To Don: Please keep up the old site until we get our blogroll reorganized. Otherwise, I'm going to lose your link!)

UPDATE: Just in case you were wondering, I liked Davidson and Jon Pertwee, but to me this is the real Doctor:


Got a problem with that? I'll pelt you with jellybabies and sic K-9 on you.

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

O For A Beaker Full Of The Warm South, Full Of The True, The Blushful Hippocrene - NOT!

I was out the past couple days, but I hope everybody went over to check out the winners of the 4th Annual Horrible College-Student Poetry Contest over at the Hatemonger's Quarterly. One wonders just how many quarts of Old Reliable "Chip" and the rest of the Crack Young Staff had to down just to sort these five incredible dogs from the rest of the bunch.

Special Llama Yips! go to several of our long time readers, who placed quite well, er I mean, badly, er I mean....well, suffice to say that their entries are up at HMQ. Congrats!

Posted by Robert at 12:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hair Today

I get pretty tired of these baldness = cancer and we've almost got a cure! articles:

"This is an extremely exciting discovery and shows promise for treatment of follicular disorders such as hair loss and unwanted excess hair," noted Dr Vera Price, director of the University of California, San Francisco Hair Research Centre and scientific advisory board member of Follica

Dr Denis Headon, University of Manchester, said: "Up to now we thought that the number of hair follicles we have is set before we were born and can only go downhill from there. This work shows that new hair follicles are made in adult skin, at least when it is healing a wound. The researchers also found a way to artificially soup up this natural process. It might be simpler than we thought to make new hair follicles as a treatment for hair loss."

Prof Desmond Tobin, University of Bradford said: "This paper provides convincing evidence that the skin has remarkable powers of regeneration. It was long thought that hair follicle development, under physiological conditions, was limited to early developmental process in the embryo. Now Cotsarelis' team have convincingly shown that under the conditions peculiar to the wound-healing environment, the highly complex hair follicle can be created anew from apparently unremarkable cells of the healing epidermis and its underlying dermis.

"Follicular disorders"? How 'bout, "that's just life, dude"!

You can bet that if this process ever hits the market, people will be paying through the (artificially sculpted) nose to get it.

Y'know, if everybody just stopped spending money on this whole recapturing-my-lost-yoot racket and instead used it for prudent coverage of real medical needs, we'd hear an awful lot less yapping about the "middle class health care crisis" than we do now.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, this seems as good a time to float a debate that the LMC and I have been having with our respective Missuses for years now, namely this: Resolved, that coloring hair to hide its grey is a waste of time, energy and money, inasmuch as such grey hair is attractive in its own right.

We take the pro. They take the con. What say you?

UPDATE: And just in case Mrs. LMC or Mrs. Robbo dials in here with wild stories about how the position the LMC and I take is rooted in our opinions of a certain law school professor of yore (who happened to have silver hair and a young face), I can state categorically that this is utter bosh, tosh and drivel.

Posted by Robert at 11:21 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Where The Hoof Meets The Asphalt

I'm already working on my headache for Memorial Day weekend travelling:

WASHINGTON - Despite record fuel prices above $3 per gallon, more Americans will travel by car over the Memorial Day holiday weekend than a year ago, according to a survey by travel agency AAA.

In a sign that energy costs will affect behavior, however, AAA said travelers are planning to stay closer to home and take shorter trips. Travel-related expenses for U.S. households are expected average nearly $600.

AAA forecast that 38.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more, an increase of 1.7 percent from last year. Roughly 32.1 million travelers — or 84 percent of the total — will drive, up 1.8 percent from last year, AAA said.

The AAA estimate is based on the results of a national survey of 2,000 adults.


As regular readers know, we're headed to Maine for Dad's memorial next weekend. The cost of flying all five of the Orgle Manor household plus renting a car once we get as far as Portland is prohibitive, so we're gonna drive it.

We usually do this for our summer vacation, but there the trip is spread out over 10 days or two weeks. Here we'll be jamming it all into five days, two days of which will be spent on the road in each direction. (One can drive it in one day, but it's a hell of a long day.) In general, on the way up we stop at the Missus' parents' place in southern Connecticut. This time, our initial hop is going to be all the way up to her sister's place on the north side of Bahston. The only way I can figure to do this on a weekday without getting hopelessly snarled in rush-hour traffic or arriving in the middle of the night is to leave Dee Cee at 2 ack emma Thursday. That'll put us at the GW Bridge by 6, thereby getting us in front of the in-bound Noo Yawk rush, and hopefully to Sis's place before noon. From there, it'll only be two hours and change up to our house the next day, although like heading for the Hamptons on the LIE on a Friday, if one wants to make this schedule one has to be on the road at the crack of dawn.

Coming back, we'll stop over in Stamford on Sunday night. Yes, that means having to drive from Connecticut to Dee Cee on Memorial Day itself. No, I can't think of any way around it.

Small wonder that my brain hurts.

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

Gratuitous Llama Follow-Up Historickal Posting (TM)

A while back I mentioned that I had just purchased this book:


White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery and Vengeance in Colonial America, by Stephen Brumwell.

Well, I read the book yesterday while recovering from the 48 hour bug that came through the ol' Llama hide. My quick two cents on it is that while interesting, it might have been better organized. It's kinda-sorta a history of the French and English struggle for imperial control of North America, primarily as fought out in the French and Indian War, it's kinda-sorta a biography of Major Robert Rogers, the founder of Rogers' Rangers, a bush-fighting unit which was the forerunner of all modern Army Rangers (including our own LMC), and it's mostly-sorta an account of Rogers' raid on the Indian village of St. Francis in October, 1759. While informative, I feel the book doesn't sufficiently establish its priorities and stick to them. As a result, it falls between the stools - the general history and biography ought to have been either greatly expanded or else cut down significantly. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it and believe it was an excellent primer for taking on The Annotated and Illustrated Journals of Major Robert Rogers, which is why I purchased it in the first place. So all is well.

Aaaaaanyhoo, I bring this up again mostly for this: commenters to this post (and another previous one linked therein) had been batting around the question of gun safety back in Colonial times. (The question was prompted by one reader who had seen some re-enactors leaning on the muzzles of their flintlocks being scolded for such dangerous behavior.) Well it just so happens that White Devil has some information on the matter. According to Brumwell, accidental misfirings were quite common, indeed almost endemic among frontier fighters, so much so that a number of directives about handling of firearms were handed down from commanding officers such as Rogers. Apparently, such official reprimands and instructions did little to curb such incidences, however.

I suppose that if one was in the Champlain Valley in the late 1750's, one more or less constantly had to have a loaded gun quick to hand. Given this, accidents were bound to occur. But with everything else to worry about, I'd imagine your average Ranger probably didn't give safety matters much thought.

Posted by Robert at 08:56 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Shoe? Meet Foot

It took me several minutes of staring at Drudge's banner headline on The Assault on Reason to realize that it was a book by AlGore instead of a book about him.

Yips! from Gary:
Had to cut 'n paste Don Surber's blast at AlGore (who he calls "the American Prince Charles") because it reflects my feelings for this putz to a 'T':

The assault on democracy began on Nov. 8, 2000. An hour after Gore conceded the election to George W. Bush, Gore called back to renege. Gore was not going to accept that he had been defeated in the closest election ever.

Gore’s assault dragged the electoral process through the mud of litigation that only served to divide the nation. The vote count in Florida was remarkably accurate — better than 99.9% accurate.

To this date, Al Gore has yet to cede the election, much less apologize to the nation for his rash and disturbing behavior.

Instead, he has spent the last 6 years preaching gloom-and-doom about the environment, while personally burning carbon credits on unnecessary flights in gas-guzzling private jets and setting his mansion’s consumption at 10 times the energy use of a normal American.

Oddly enough, President Bush has an eco-friendly home that uses geothermal energy and rainwater. Bush’s consumption is one-quarter that of the average American.

Yet Gore dares to demonize the president.

In fact, that is all one can expect from this child of wealth and privilege who grew up in the nation’s capital. He was a Fortunate One, a senator’s son. I would not be surprised if he were a bully at the Albans School.

Let me be clear, I don't "hate" this guy the way the BDS-infected Lefty loons obsessively despise the President over 2000. But his month-long litigious hijacking of those election results revealed to me (and to the country) that this guy is in no way in touch with reality and is perfectly willing to cast aside the U.S. Constitution if it becomes an obstacle to his egomaniacal drive to be President.

Honestly, in the aftermath of 9/11 how many Americans sat down and thought "Geez, I really wish Al Gore was President right now" after witnessing his antics the year before? I'm sure there are plenty on the Left who wish that he'd run. And I for one hope there are enough of them to convince him to throw his hat in the ring. Because if he were to get the Dem nomination, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel for whomever the Republican is.

Posted by Robert at 08:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 16, 2007

Ol' Fred Responds To Michael "Sicko" Moore

Suck it, Loser!

I'd embed it if I could but the code isn't available. Those late to the game can see Moore's pathetic attempt to gin up publicity for his stupid health-care mockumentary here.

I'll bet if any of the declared candidates took a cheap shot like this from Moore, they'd respond in writing (if at all).

draft fred thompson logo.jpg
Ol' Fred for President: Because he looks you in the eye when he lays you out.

h/t: Libertas


"I don’t know what’s the best part of this video response to Michael Moore’s publicity stunt: the cigar, the appropriate disdain, the lecture, the humor, or the quickness of the response, but what I do know is that Fred Thompson is the first politician anywhere to understand how the speed of the internet can change politics."
Read more about the OODA Loop.

"EXCUSE ME, I HAVE TO GO TOWEL OFF" YIPS from Steve-O: The last part is priceless.

Huge Yips to Marvin who sent the code but not a link back to his blog!

Yip! Yip! Thanks Marvin: Word Of Marvin

Posted by Gary at 02:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Decisions! Decisions!

They are down to the Final Four in the Miss tournament. But they've thrown a curveball - probably because they finally realized there's only one week left of Season Six.

We have: Nina Myers, Chloe O'Brian, Nadia Yassir and Kim Bauer.

final four.jpg

Rather than have two separate showdowns, we get to pick the final match-up from those four. The top two vote-getters will square off next week in the Championship.

I'll admit, it's a toughie. And it's gonna be close.

Go make your opinion count.

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

Where's Robbo?

Sorry about the lack of posting - a very nasty head cold and/or sinus infection has got me not giving much of a damn about anything at the moment and unable to think straight even if I did.

Incidentally, try reading Kipling's Soldiers Three stories while stoked up on Nyquil. It produces the most amazing dreams.

Yips! at you later.

Posted by Robert at 11:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tide Turning On Global Warming Hysteria

Prominent Scientists turning from believers to skeptics in regards to the theory of man-made Global Warming.

Of course, you won't read about these guys in the MSM because that would undermine the propaganda claim of "consensus" (as if consensus was the same as proof). Apparently, there is...gasp...debate still raging on this issue.

And for the record, Rasmussen polling shows that 24% of the population believe that Al Gore is an expert on Global Warming, leaving 76% who don't or don't know. So that means we have a consensus: Al Gore is not a Global Warming expert.

Of course, I would make the argument that there is a consensus that Al Gore is a fat load who merely loves to hear himself prattle on about Global Warming. I can't prove that, but by the standards of the Climate Change Alarmists consensus is enough, right?

Posted by Gary at 11:33 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

GOP Debate II

Didn't see any of this one. But the general consensus seems to be:

1) Giuliani scored a significant moment against isolationist nut Ron Paul - polls in the near future should reflect a rebound for Rudy. Paul should not be invited back. Might has well have Michael Moore or Rosie O'Doughnuts on stage.

2) Romney did well but is starting to run the risk of coming off as too "slick"

3) Once again, John McCain did OK but still failed to give Republicans a reason to coalesce behind him.

4) There were at least five candidates on the stage who should just get out as their prospects are beyond hopeless.

5) The big story is still "Is Fred D. Thompson going to run?"

Best (funniest) line was at the expense of the Silky Pony: Mike Huckabee - “We’ve had a Congress that’s spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop.”


My take is that it's still too ridiculously early to back anyone in particular but as of now my preferences are: Giuliani, Romney, McCain (in that order). Throw Ol' Fred into the mix and its Thompson, Giuliani, Romney (with the top two being "tied"). To Messrs Tancredo, Gilmore, Huckabee, T. Thompson, Hunter, Brownback and Paul: So long, thanks for playing.

Posted by Gary at 09:21 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell Dies

And the bile throughout the loony Leftosphere spews forth. Allah at has many links. Really sick stuff.

Police reportedly are not ruling out foul play. If fact, a photo has just been released of an alleged suspect that they now have in custody:

Eh, Oh!

All personal effects, including one pink handbag, have been confiscated.

Posted by Gary at 02:16 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Looks like the electorate may be ready to yell out their safeword against Pelosi and Co. because Congress' approval rating is even lower than the President's!

Captain Ed lays into this ship of fools:

The Democrats had better start producing something other than sound bites if they want to hang onto their majorities in 2008. The electorate has already grown tired of posturing, and their patience has run out on partisan games. We're now at Day 100 for funding the troops, arguably the highest priority in national security, and we still don't have a supplemental bill that can reach a broad consensus. We have no movement on the Democrats' own agenda. It's possibly the worst do-nothing Congress in memory -- and the people have noticed.

* For those of you who might not get the post title reference, the infamous SNL clip is here:

Even if you've seen it, it's a hoot!

Posted by Gary at 11:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 14, 2007

You Ate What?

Call 'em prairie oysters, Montana tendergroin, swinging sirloin or whatever else you like. The plain fact is they're bull balls. And, apparently, they taste just like chicken.

Some 300 people were expected to go through 80 to 100 pounds of gonads during last weekend's annual Testicle Festival in Elderon, Wis.

The Wausau Daily Herald, a Gannett newspaper, reports that "the featured food is deep-fried sheep, lamb and bull testicles.

"They taste like chicken nuggets," the organizers' daughter says. "You just have to get past the testicle part."

The paper says admission was free for everyone who purchased a t-shirt with a bull and the phrase: 'I had a ball!"

Insert gratuitous testicle joke here.

Posted by Gary at 02:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Fins Blogging - Sun Rises In East Division


Ricky Williams tests positive for drugs....again.

Here's what Ricky has to say for himself:

"Due to the recent reports about me failing a drug test, I feel it is appropriate for me to issue this statement. Last month, following a psychological evaluation requested by the NFL, we -- the psychiatrist and I -- came to the realization that there were a few things I needed to iron out about myself in order to make my return to the NFL as successful as possible.

"I am an honest, God-fearing man who is intensely dedicated to being the best person I can be on and off the football field. There is no need to smear my name or to defame my character for the sake of news. When the time is right, God willing, I will be back on the field scoring touchdowns for whatever team is fortunate enough to believe in me.

"I appreciate all the support I have received from my fans and I assure all others that I am strong, clean, and happily preparing myself for a triumphant return to the NFL."

To quote the immortal question raised in the song "Charlie Brown," "WHY'S everybody always pickin' on me?"

The Miami Herald's Armando Salguero is having none of it. Go read his analysis, together with the hylarious reader comments. My favorite encyclopedic digest of the situation:

Phins Fan In Da Pacific said...

Credit-Where-Credit-Is-Due-Dept: CREDIT TO:ARMANDO, for calling Ricky's chances for reinstatement only 50/50, when most of us thought it was a virtual lock. NO CREDIT TO: GREG COTE, for embarrasing himself (again)with his "Give Ricky A Chance" column just 1 day before this news broke. CREDIT TO: COACH CAMERON, for not supporting Ricky publicly- fans thought he was being unreasonable, when he was actually wisely prudent. NO CREDIT TO: Dolphin fans, myself included, who let themselves get burned by Ricky-again! For the third year in a row. Un-be-liev-a-ble. CREDIT TO: Ricky's dealer- wow, that must be some great weed, dude. AN EXTRA LARGE NO CREDIT TO:Ricky Williams, for his self-serving, egotistical,out-of-touch-with-reality news release.Give us all a break, Ricky, and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of Miami, and your NFL career.

Posted by Robert at 10:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 12, 2007

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Telling It Like It Is Division

This morning we had some people come out to haul off our now completely dead basement sectional sofa.

As the haulers were, well, hauling the thing away, all of the Llama-ettes kept swirling about in a kind of vortex o' excitement.

Finally, as they were finishing up, the owner of the business, who was extremely nice although obviously crazy, said to me, "Man, how do you cope with such a constant output of energy?"

I took a slow look over at the gels, who were riding their bikes and scooters around the driveway like a horde of Comanches on a raid, and answered slowly. "Well, I drink a lot."

The guy just about fell off the back of the truck laughing.

Did I say something funny?

Posted by Robert at 08:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Scandanavian Shipwright Division

Today my name is Robbo Llamagrimsson:


Yes, in two hectic days the elder Llama-ettes and I finished up their Viking longboat for the medieval architecture fair to be held next Friday at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. I must say that I am extremely pleased with our results.

Now for those of you thinking, "Gee, Tom, it looks as if you built the thing for your girls," I will tell you a little story:

When I was in third grade, our class was assigned the task of building weather-vanes. I came home all eager to put one together under Dad's supervision. Well, one of Dad's, erm, personality quirks was the solid disbelief that any of us children could be trusted to breath on our own. He did more than just help me with the project, he took over. He used a jigsaw to cut out plywood letters for the points of the compass. He used buckshot to weight arrowhead so that the center of gravity allowed the tail to stick out much farther, and carefully lubricated the pins stuck in the ends of the dowels to allow the arrow to swing about freely. He stained and laquored the whole thing, setting it in a cement base.

It looked fantastic. And my entire contribution was to sit there and watch him do it.

When the assignment due date came, I duly trooped off to school with the thing, only to discover that it was exponentially better than anybody else's, most of which looked like they had been constructed by, well, third graders. My teacher was so impressed with "my" effort that she had it set up in the school library with a big card with my name on it.

I felt utterly humiliated, guilty and mortified every time I passed by the damned thing.

I tell you this so that you understand I have a certain....sensitivity about parents shang-haing their kids' school projects. (And part of that sensitivity, truth be told, is the awareness of the terribly clear and seductive siren song inviting me to do the same thing with the Llama-ettes that the Old Gentleman did to me.)

So, what did I do here? Well, in briefest terms, I planned and built a model boat "kit" and then had the gels actually put the kit together. The nine year old glued all the hull sections together, painted the hull and the sea and ran all the rigging through its various blocks. The seven year old glued the oar components together, stepped the mast and attached the figure-head. Each gel also designed, painted and attached half the shields and, together, designed and painted the sail. I tried to limit myself to some of the more delicate steps: screwing in the eyelets, tying off the rigging lines, things of that sort. Oh, and I also tried to explain how and why I planned out each part of the kit to the gels.

I like to think that this was a beneficial arrangement for everybody. I got to have some creative fun and the gels got to put the thing together, in addition to learning a thing or two from my constant flow of information about general nautical terminology like bow, stern, starboard, port, stays, yardarms and the like, as well as my more specific bloviations about the purpose of the figurehead, the function of the oars , the relatively shallow draft of a longboat and a general history of Viking depredations on the rest of Europe between 800 and 1200 A.D. I didn't get the sense that either of them felt left out of things.

Oh, and here's an example of the environment around the shipyard: Earlier today, the eldest Llama-ette was teasing me about whether we ought not to build a "poop" deck. When I explained for the umpteenth time that longboats simply didn't have them, she said, "Okay, then I'll settle for a "pee" deck. Oh, ha ha ha ha haaa!!!"

That's my gel......

Posted by Robert at 07:46 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

A few new gardening pics this sultry Saturday evening:


As you can see, the hydrangia what I meant to say rhodi has burst forth. This is the only one I have, located on the northwest corner of the house. The previous owner told me that it was the only place in the yard he could get one to grow, but having seen several 'round about the neighborhood, I begin to be rayther suspicious and am thinking of trying them in a few other places.

Next are the iris:


I really need to stake these up before the next thunderstorm hits (possibly tonight). As much as I like them, I'm beginning to feel I ought to thin them out a bit and introduce some other colors. (I do have some peach colored ones as well, but they usually open a bit later.)

Finally, the columbine, as usual, lead the charge among what I think of as the true warmer weather flowers:


and at the other end of the garden....


There were a great many seedlings coming up earlier in the spring, but as folks around the Dee Cee area know, we had a sudden and unusually severe cold snap pretty late. I wonder whether it didn't do in the baby c's. It certainly confused many of the older, heartier plants.

Next up: the peonies are abso-positivo-lutely ready to explode. Stand by.

UPDATE: Re the misnomer above, "A fair question, and one that in recent weeks has been mooch on moy moynd." The reason I accidentally called the rhode a hydrangia is that this is the time of year when I start obsessing about the deer trying to get at my hedge of the latter out back.
Sorry 'bout that.

Posted by Robert at 06:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

How about a little Nina Simone?

Mrs. LMC thoughtfully provided that Nineties classic Point of No Return on CD for my viewing pleasure here in sunny Iraq to get me through the triple digit heat and dust storms. Favorite scene: LMC fav Bridget Fonda in a black cocktail dress in a swanky restaurant, packing a large-caliber handgun.

Posted by LMC at 01:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Congress is considering lowering taxes on beer! I think you will agree with me that this very well might be the most important thing our elected officials can do for us this year.

Apparently, the nanny state asshats disagree:

Beer Money In Congress In the 2005-2006 election cycle, beer-, wine- and liquor-industry interests gave federal candidates a combined total of more than $10 million. Of that amount, beer industry money accounted for more than two-thirds (70%). The two largest sources of beer money in Congress are the political action committee of the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) and mega-brewer Anheuser-Busch (AB). Those two sources together account for more than two-thirds of all beer money flowing to Congressional campaign coffers and about half of all alcohol-industry money. During the 2005-2006 election cycle, 309 members of Congress (57%) accepted a total of $2,472,250 in NBWA contributions averaging $8,000 (ranging from $100 to $20,000). More than one-fourth (27 total) of all senators accepted NBWA contributions during that cycle. In the same period, 255 members of Congress and 37 senators accepted a total of $1,014,624 in contributions from Anheuser-Busch, in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $41,750. The beer industry is lobbying Congress to support its “beer tax rollback” bill (H.R. 1610), which would cut the federal beer tax in half to its 1951 level – a move many public health groups strongly oppose. In the previous (109th) Congress, 208 (out of 539) members of Congress and 13 (out of 100) senators co-sponsored this legislation (then H.R. 1306 and S. 722). To the right is a list of members who are co-sponsoring the “beer tax rollback bill” in the 110th Congress (updated as they sign on), along with a tally of the contributions each has received in the 2005-2006 election cycle from the two biggest beer-industry donors, the NBWA and AB. Please weigh in with your Representative and help ensure they know the full story on alcohol excise taxes.

Now, fortunately said nanny state neo-prohibitionist asshats have set up a handy dandy website so you can exercise your constitutional rights to send a preconfigured email to the office of your representative so it can be logged and deleted by a 19 year old college intern. Or, you can use their dime and send the form with a pro-beer message. Do your duty!

Posted by Steve-O at 08:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 11, 2007

Beat Me, Hurt Me, Make Me Drink Ginseng Infusions

Go ahead and try Boomshine:

Then try it, as I did, while listening to an Enya CD.

I know, I know. But what wouldn't we Llamas go through for our readers? Anyhoo, the New Age mush is almost enough to let you forget the extremely stingy strike zones on this game.

BTB, my top score is somewhere in the mid 280's.

Posted by Robert at 10:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Well, we had a bit of a scare here at Casa La X-Donk. The Missus had her first mammogram recently and got a call back. Apparently, there were some calcifications found.

In most cases, these are benign but to be on the safe side she had a biopsy on Tuesday and results came back a short while ago - negative. Certainly something to monitor over time, but as of now she's in the clear.

Since we have Mother's Day coming up this Sunday I wanted to share the story and remind everyone to put aside any "Hallmark holiday" cynicism you might have and make a special effort to appreciate the mothers in your life that you're fortunate enough to have.

Have a great weekend!

Posted by Gary at 08:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

"Half-Hour News Hour" Begins New Shows Sunday

FoxNews's comedy news show "The 1/2 Hour News Hour", which was optioned after the successful ratings of the pilots, will begin weekly episodes this Sunday at 10pm on FoxNews.


I watched the pilots and while the material was somewhat generic (because they were filmed well in advance of their broadcast) they were pretty durn funny. The series will take it's lampooned stories and topics out of the previous week's headlines. I'll be setting my DVR recorder to snag it every week in case I miss it live.

Posted by Gary at 02:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It's Friday Movie "Mash-up" Time

First, a light-hearted family movie becomes a horror flick...

And a horror flick becomes a light-hearted family movie.

I just love this stuff.

Posted by Gary at 01:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Guaranteed to make LB Buddy into Granda Simpson

And that, for anyone who knows him, is definitely a thing of beauty to watch.

Anyhoo, today would have been the fiftieth birthday of Sid Vicious.

So let's wish RIP to LB Buddy's dreams of youthful rebellion and wish howdy doo to his suburban mortgage and minivan.

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

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Shipwright Division UPDATE


Many thanks to all of you who dropped suggestions the other day as to how the Llama-ettes and I could best go about constructing a model Viking longboat. The plans linked by Zendo Deb were particularly useful.

I went over to Michael's this morning and spent a childishly delightful time wandering about and scheming. Among other loot, I discovered a packet of wooden dowels that will do perfectly for oar handles, a packet of wooden circles that will make excellent shields, some nice black yarn that will do quite well for the rigging and a decorative painting kit that includes some nice sail-sized pieces of canvas.

After all my fretting about how to plank the hull the other day, I realized I was going about it in the wrong way. Instead of fiddling about with framing and the like, instead I'm simply going to cut a piece of basswood to represent the hull at the waterline. Then I'm going to use balsa to build a series of horizontal cross-sections above it. (I'll do all the cutting, but the gels can glue the pieces together.) As for recreating the upward sweep of the bow and stern, I reckon that once we've glued and painted, we can use a thin black marker to simply draw in the appropriate seams. I will leave it to the gels to design a suitable figurehead and to decorate the sail and shields (subject to Dad's veto on the grounds of preposterousness, of course).

If the thing turns out half-way decently, I'll put up a pic or two.

Posted by Robert at 10:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Riding In Cars With Girls

Drove the Llama-ettes over to St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method this morning. As the warm, muggy weather has firmly settled on the Dee Cee area, I had all the side panels stripped off the ol' jeep.

I love the reactions I get when I tool around our little neck of the NoVA suburbs with the gels, particularly with the top down and/or the sides off. It generally falls in three broad categories:

1. Envy, as in "Wow, wish we were doing that." This comes mostly from other dads and from all other children.

2. Anger, as in "How could you be risking your childrens' lives like that, especially with that airbag in the front passenger seat!" This comes mostly from moms as they struggle with military-style straps and harnesses in their vans and SUVs, although I've seen some men do it too.

3. Uncertainty, as in "Um...are you allowed to do that?" Often accompanied by a nervous smile. Probably the most common reaction, and equally divided among men and women.

The ones who get me the most are the fussbudgets, the type who believe that all children must be driven around hog-tied and encased in iron. The reason they get me is that I believe they're often the same types who bray the loudest about the environmental damage being caused by oversized SUVs. I suppose their answer to this conundrum is that people ought not to be having children anyway.

Posted by Robert at 10:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Chris Dodd: The Rodney Dangerfield Of Presidential Politics

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that among CT voters, Sen. Chris Dodd (the Weenie from Willimantic, the Nutmeg Nincompoop, the bottom slice of bread of the infamous "waitress sandwich") ranks a distant fifth in Presidential candidate preference. This from the people of his own home state. He trails the Big Three (Clinton, Obama, Edwards) and Al Gore - who isn't even running.

Maybe he'd be more popular if more people knew he once dated Princess Leia.

"Er...ah...they let her keep that golden bikini you know? She modeled it for me once. Of course, with her lying next to me I looked like Jabba the Hutt."

h/t: The Hillary Spot

Posted by Gary at 10:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Peggy's Political Insight

I love the way Peggy Noonan writes. And though she's seen a lot I generally consider her a better writer than a political analyst. There is one thing that Ms. Noonan does understand well, however - people. She has a knack for observation and getting a feel for what makes certain individuals tick. And one of the people she always seems to have a good read on is Hillary Clinton.

Today's column reflects on the recent French Presidential election and rather than make direct comparisons between Clinton and Segolene Royal she makes some observations about how her opponents might best handle her.

Madame Royal is not Madame Rodham, France is not America, and too much is being made of the parallels with Hillary Clinton. But the French race might have shown a certain rough template for how to puncture Mrs. Clinton's persistent air of inevitability, and for one big reason.

What Mr. Sarkozy had going for him in the debate is that he was not afraid of Ms. Royal because she was a woman. He was not undone by her femininity. American candidates seem much more awkward in this area. When up against a strong woman, male candidates don't know what is appropriate and standard political aggression and what is ungentlemanly bullying.

Mr. Sarkozy was not afraid or tentative. He was poised. He seemed to think he was facing a formidable adversary, and it didn't matter whether it was a man or a woman, it mattered that she was a socialist and socialism isn't helpful. And so he approached her as a person who is wrong.

She was not afraid of the boy. He was not afraid of the girl. He granted her no particular mystique; she granted him no particular advantage. They were appropriate.

Mr. Sarkozy also did something with Ms. Royal that might be usefully remembered by Mrs. Clinton's foes. Ms. Royal, when the unexpected happened--"Calm down!"--showed she wasn't so good at improvising. She didn't react with any tactical grace. This reminded me of Mrs. Clinton, who also seems unsure and unsteady when pushed off script or put at the mercy of happenstance. She can't rely on her instincts, because deep down she knows her instincts are no match for her will. She's not light on her feet. Her foes would do well to keep this in mind.

Hillary pulled the "victim" routine against Rick Lazio in the 2000 New York Senate race and it worked like a charm. Lazio - a really nice guy - actually came off looking like an insecure bully. And she milk it to no end. It makes you wonder how Rudy Giuliani would have handled it had he stayed in the race - and how he might handle her now.

Of course, I have no doubt that a certain other potential candidate could do quite well in putting her off-balance. Yeah, you guessed it: Ol' Fred. It's clear that Nurse Ratched's husband's natural charm and likability always stands in stark contrast to her lack of warmth, which is why she'd be smart to appear without him in the campaign as little as possible.

How might she seem alongside the charming and likable Fred Dalton Thompson? I'd be fun to watch.

Posted by Gary at 09:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Environmental Felons of the Day

Back in college one summer I was dating this snooty girl. I was at her house for the first time to do the meet the parents pick up, and her mother asked me if I'd like some Pellegrino.

"No, I'm driving," I said. "Water would be fine."

As a confirmed tap water guy, this just brought a smile to my face:

BOTTLED water, the world's fastest growing beverage, carries a heavy environmental cost, adding plastic to landfills and putting pressure on natural springs, the author of a new US report said today.

"Bottled water is really expensive, in terms of environmental costs and economically," said Ling Li, who wrote the report for the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute.

While many in developed countries thirst for safety, cleanliness, taste and social cachet when they buy bottled water, more than one billion of the world's poorest lack access to clean drinking water, bottled or not.

And in developed countries, bottled water may be scrutinised using lower standards than plain tap water, the report said.

The environmental impact can start at the source, where some local streams and underground aquifers become depleted when there is "excessive withdrawal" for bottled water, according to the report.

In addition to the energy cost of producing, bottling, packaging, storing and shipping bottled water, there is also the environmental cost of the millions of tonnes of oil-derived plastic needed to make the bottles.

"The beverage industry benefits the most from our bottled water obsession," Ms Ling said. "But this does nothing for the staggering number of the world's poor who see safe drinking water as at best a luxury and at worst an unattainable goal."

Worldwatch estimated 35 to 50 per cent of urban dwellers in Africa and Asia lack adequate access to safe potable water.

Most water is bottled in polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which requires less energy to recycle and does not release chlorine into the atmosphere when burned. But recycling rates have declined: about 23.1 per cent of PET water bottles were recycled in the United States in 2005, compared with 39.7 per cent 10 years earlier, the report said.

Bottled water costs from 240 to 10,000 times as much as water straight from the tap. In dollars, that means such water sold in most industrialised countries costs $US500 to $US1000 ($605 to $1210) a cubic metre compared with US50 cents (60 cents) a cubic metre in California, where the quality of tap water is high.

World consumption of bottled water more than doubled between 1997 and 2005, with the United States being the largest consumer. US residents drank nearly 28.6 billion litres in 2005, the report found.

Among the countries that use bottled water, India's consumption nearly tripled for the period, and China's more than doubled between 2000 and 2005.

Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Germany, France, Indonesia and Spain round out the top 10.

Somehow my asshat colleagues who were chortling over the idea of parents being environmental felons will be less pleased by this. Oh, if we can only then decry the environmental destruction reaked by proliferating tofu production.

Posted by Steve-O at 07:34 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 10, 2007

Enough to bring a tear to me cynical little eyes

If you dig out your East Lyme High School 1984 Yearbook, you'll find out that I came in second place for "Most Likely to Succeed." Clearly, this is what the voters had in mind: we're number two on Google France for

It was the weirdest job interview I've ever had. Ms. Laddie was dressed all in red leather and she had a whip in her hands! She told me that she required an ass

Allrighty then. The offending post of ours that brought in the weirdo lunatic googler? Something about INDCent Bill's Olsen Twin fantasies.

Oddity numero two? Number five on google for this bizzaro search is our old pal Sheila from the Sheila Variations.

Posted by Steve-O at 06:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


My 20th anniversary college class reunion is coming up shortly at The People's Glorious Soviet of Middletown. It so happens that we will be in Maine that weekend for Dad's memorial service, so all bets are off.

I hadn't been planning to go anyway, but just might have changed my mind when I noticed this scheduled seminar item:

A Conversation with Joss Whedon ’87: Things and Stuff

Join this creator of cult figures who will talk about his career, thoughts on education and work, his life at Wesleyan and his future plans, plus anything else the audience wants to ask. Introduction: Jeanine D. Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, curator of the cinema archives, chair of the film studies program, and 1996 recipient of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching Presenter: Joss Whedon ’87, film and television writer who was the creator and executive producer of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly; he is known as an “A-list” screenwriter and script doctor, and has written/co-written films that include Toy Story, Alien, Resurrection, and Titan A.E.

Yeah, might have been worth it. My question? Why the hell he had to kill off Wash.

(Oh, speaking of Memorial Day travel plans, Sooper-Sekret Message to Gary and the Random Penseur - we'll be stopping in Stamford on Sunday and the Missus has already given me permission to hang out in the hotel bar while she takes the Llama-ettes swimming, so if you're interested in getting together, maybe we can work something out.)

Posted by Robert at 03:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I Went To A Fight And A Concert Broke Out

Kulchah? Hey, pal, I got yer kulchah right here:

BOSTON — Concert-goers, and even Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart, were caught off-guard when a fight broke out on opening night at usually sedate Symphony Hall.

Television video of the fight Wednesday night showed two men struggling in the balcony — one with his shirt pulled off — as several people stood around them.

Lockhart briefly halted the performance, which featured singer-songwriter Ben Folds, while the men were escorted out.

Witnesses said they heard a scream from the balcony, and the sound of chairs falling, then a second scream as the fight escalated.

"The first time there was a scream, Keith looked up that way but he kept going," audience member June MacIndoe told Boston's WHDH-TV. "Then about a minute and a half later...there was a big scream and you could hear chairs falling over and you could see them up there, fists going."

At that point, Lockhart stopped the performance for a couple of minutes, she said. "He just stood there, you know, quiet."

Boston police spokesman David Estrada said police officers on security detail at the hall escorted the men off the property, and no charges were filed. No injuries were reported, he said.

Some people just can't handle that Andrew Lloyd Webber stuff, I guess.

Yips! to Matt over at Weapons of Mass Discussion for shooting us the link.

And in yer follow-up-story-research-produces-segue-of-the-day, do any of our Bahston readers happen to watch Paula Ebben on the CBS affiliate up there? Just curious - I knew her back in the days when I was knocking about London.

Posted by Robert at 01:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When You Can't Compete In The Arena Of Ideas...

...there's always vandalism.

vandalize rush.jpg

It was reported by a government stooge spokesman for the Baltimore Dept. of Public Works, who loved the "artwork".

"It looks like they took globs of paint and threw it on his face. It looks great. It did my heart good," said [Robert] Murrow, who admittedly is not a Limbaugh fan.
Of course, if this were a billboard for NPR I'm sure the guy would be positively livid.

Posted by Gary at 11:47 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Literary Posting (TM) - Childrens' Fantasy Division

I see we've landed on a Harry Potter discussion link-thingy over at the Puffington Host. It so happens that I still have not read a single one of these books nor seen any of the movies. As I remarked in comments over at Beth's place t'other day, this is becoming a source of perverse pride for me. Yes, many people think I'm quite strange, but I take my fun as I find it.

(Oh, btw, I heard that the real ending of the latest book has Dumbledore leaving Harry for dead on the edge of a lava field after a climactic battle between them. Voldemort comes along and nurses Harry back to health, replacing much of his body with magical cyborg components. I can't believe this is the end of the series, as the thing just reeks of "sequel" to me.)

Aaaaanyhoo, what I really wanted to note is that the Llama-ettes have fallen in love recently with another series, The Enchanged Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede. The first of these is called Dealing With Dragons:


I haven't focused much on it myself, but it appears to be a reworking of the standard fairy-tale formula so as to make the heroine princess all unconventional and empowered n' stuff. This sounds a bit yeesh as I type it, but really the writing, at least what I've heard, isn't too obnoxious or strident, but instead is good-humored and gentle.

The gels, as I say, are quite enthusiastic, so much so that they are both reading the book and listening to it on tape simultaniously.

So how about it, orgle fans? Is this a good thing or what?

Posted by Robert at 11:45 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

No Referrals For You!

Sitemeter seems to have revamped their page. Trouble is that in order to see our stats, I now have to relog in and give a password. I haven't the faintest idea what it is.


YIPS from Steve-O: WTF???????????????


FURTHER YIPS from Steve-O: Never mind.

Yips! back from Robbo: Blog-fatha Steve-O comes through with the info, so I can go back to mooning for an Insta-lanche.

Posted by Robert at 09:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

Camille Paglia, of whose writing I used to be quite fond, has a long rambling article up over at Salon touching on various topics. One of these happens to involve the musickal influences of her childhood. She writes:

Is there a return to visionary Romanticism these days on classical music stations? In the last few months, I've heard an unusual number of works that heavily influenced me in my youth. Each of them has a passionate, rhythmic force or hypnotic lyricism: Leopold Stokowski's dynamic orchestral transcription of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor" (written for organ); Alexander Borodin's "Polovetzian Dances"; Ernest Chausson's "Poème" for violin and orchestra; and Ralph Vaughan Williams' "English Folk Song Suite."

The Stokowski transcription of Bach had an explosive impact on me when I first heard it on my parents' 45 RPM record before I had even entered kindergarten. This week Philadelphia's WRTI played a spectacular recording of it by the Philadelphia Orchestra (for whom the transcription was originally done), conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch. The sonorities of those massed strings could make the earth shake.

The "Toccata and Fugue" is so thunderous, propulsive and over-the-top that it seems to prefigure the Led Zeppelin phase of early heavy metal. It's a clash of the titans: We're overhearing two quarreling aspects of Bach himself. The heroic, questioning, yet tragic individual voice looks forward to Romanticism, while the orderly affirmation of transfiguring collective faith looks back toward medievalism.

One of our loyal readers asked me my thoughts about this. Erm.....I have a healthy respect for Paglia's art sense, but comparing Bach to Led Zeppelin strikes me as a stretch (to put it mildly). Furthermore, I think her suggestion that Bach was looking forward to Romanticism is pure projection.

The problem with her analysis is that she's really listening to Stokowski, not ol' J.S. Personally, I loathe Stokowski's transcription of this piece, as I do almost every one of his other orchestrations, for the very reason she gives, namely that he transmogrifies pieces into those ginormous, over-the-top "clashes of the Titans." (Another famous example of this is Stokowski's bowlderization of the Hornpipe from Henry Purcell's music for Abdelazer, or The Moor's Revenge. Here is a snippet of the original, which I'm sure you will recognize - and if you've got RealPlayer please click, because it took me a dickens of a time to find it.)

Sure, there are tensions within Bach's music. The trouble with listening to Stokowski's rendition is that it blows them vastly out of proportion. Now you may enjoy the music for that very fact. But remember that it is Stokowski's doing, not Bach's.

Two other tidbits about the famous D-minor Toccata & Fugue. One is that there is some considerable question as to whether Bach even wrote it to begin with. (Although Christoff Wolffe, one of the greatest modern Bach scholars, believes he did.) Another is that, whatever its original source, Bach may have ginned it up simply as an exercise for testing out new and newly refurbished organs, as he was often asked to do. Personally, I'm inclined to believe the latter - if you think of the piece as being specifically designed to get all that could be got out of an instrument in terms of both its sound and its mechanics, much of the piece's eccentricity begins to make more sense.

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

Gratuitous Cranky McCranky Pants Blogging

For some reason, I'm extremely cranky as of late, and I don't really know why.

Two nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night screaming---I had had a quiet vivid nightmare, but I have no idea about what (this is NOT a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination). I've been waking up not feeling very well rested, and have just been downright irritable.

Crank crank crank crank....

Posted by Steve-O at 09:13 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation - "Help! Help! I'm Being Oppressed!" Division

There were two or three grungy Greenpeace types standing around the metro asking people to sign some petition or survey or some such. But when I came by? They looked right through me! Just because I have short hair and was wearing a neat blazer, tie and khakis, they just automatically assumed that I was a rethuglican, a TK-421 in Sith Master Rove's clone army, a worshipper of the dark satanic ChimpyMcHitlerGotYourHaliburtonQuagmireRightHerePalinator.

Yeah, well all of that may be true, but it doesn't make the profiling any less painful!

Then on to Starbucks. I used to get a chocolate croissant with my morning coffee sometimes. Suddenly, however, they stopped selling them. So I started getting what they call a black-bottomed cupcake. Today? They had disappeared, too! Coincidence? I. Think. Not.

Ladies and Gentlemen, what kind of society do we live in where I must go in constant fear of having my opinions ignored and my breakfast pastry preferences systematically snatched away?

AmeriKKKa now truly is a land of shame.

Posted by Robert at 09:04 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ol' Fred! Mania

Oh yeah, THAT'S the good stuff!

A French president who openly admires America is an embarrassment to those who view us as the country bumpkin cousins of the sophisticated Europeans. American pundits and politicians who say we should change our foreign policies to win the European popularity contest ought to be feeling a little embarrassed too.

Pardon me, I have to go towel off.

Posted by Steve-O at 08:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 09, 2007

Great Moments in American jurisprudence

Like something out of Party for Five:

In what legal experts are calling a precedent, a three-judge panel of the state Superior Court has ruled that a York County man must pay child support for two children of a lesbian couple for whom he acted as a sperm donor.

Quoting an earlier court decision, Senior Judge John T.K. Kelly wrote that "stepparents who have held a child out as their own are liable for support; biological parents who have exercised the rights appurtenant to that status can be no less bound."

Overturning a Dauphin Common Pleas judge's ruling in the case, Senior Judge John T.K. Kelly Jr. cited a 2004 ruling by Dauphin Common Pleas Judge Scott A. Evans.

Jodilynn Jacob and Jennifer L. Shultz-Jacob were a couple who lived in York County and who had undergone a commitment ceremony in Pittsburgh and a civil union in Vermont.

The couple cared for four children, two of whom were adopted nephews of Jacob's and the other two whom she had with Carl Frampton, a longtime friend of Shultz-Jacob's who had agreed to act as a sperm donor. Frampton is also named as an appellant in the case.

In February 2006 Jacob and Shultz-Jacob separated, with Jacob moving from York County to Dauphin County. The separation was followed by Shultz-Jacob asking a York County judge for full legal and physical custody of all four children.

Later, Jacob asked a Dauphin County judge for child support for two of the children from Shultz-Jacob, arguing that Frampton was "essentially a third parent" to two of the children. Frampton died of a stroke earlier this year.

Kelly noted in his opinion that Frampton had held himself out as a stepparent to the children by being present at the birth of one of the children, contributing "in excess of $13,000" over the last four years, buying toys and borring money to obtain a vehicle in which to transport the children.

"While these contributions have been voluntary, they evidence a settled intention to demonstrate parental involvement far beyond merely biological," wrote the judge.

Next up on the liability line: the makers of the turkey baster.

Posted by Steve-O at 08:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Suddenly, Chasing Ambulances? Not So Bad.

Go here. Words fail me. They really do.

Yips! to JohnL over at TexasBestGrok. John's got a new co-blogger, btw, Planet Stories. Between them, they've got TBG humming on all cylinders. Check it out.

Posted by Robert at 04:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Church Militant

This is pretty good (just ignore the subtitles)....

Favorite line: "Stop killing Judas!"

Yips! to GroovyVic.

Posted by Robert at 04:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What Would We Do Without New Research?

Men find photos of the opposite sex much more "rewarding" than women, new research claims today.

According to the study men take the same pleasure out of looking at an attractive female form as they do from having a curry or making money whereas women do not take any significant reward from looking at pictures of men. The survey published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B said that brain scan studies show that "reward centres" are triggered in men when they gaze at a woman's face or body whereas they are not in females. It also shows men are more likely to make an effort to view pictures of the opposite sex and pay out money.

Given a certain blogger we know with a well-documented Swooner Dreamboat fixation, I'm a bit suspicious about the female findings, but I think the conclusions about men deserve the 2007 Well, Duh! Award.

Speaking of such things, I missed out on the Five Freebies thing the other day. With admirable timing, it popped up after right after some heavy church-related screeding on my part and I didn't think it appropriate to, er, change gears quite so suddenly. (And for those of you making smug little tsk tsk noises about Robbo's hypocracy, I'd only answer a) yeah, lust is pretty high up on my list of sins, but at least I acknowledge it's a sin, and b) I'm not holding myself out as Bishop-material.)

Anyhoo, I certainly second Steve-O on both Melissa Theuriau and Helen Hunt, but I also want to make sure that Kaylee gets on the list as well:


Yes, indeedy. Heck, I'll even supply the strawberries!

Okay, if the researchers are right, approximately 95% of those of you reading this last sentence are female.

UPDATE: In response to a flood of inquiries, here are a few more names I'd put on the list:

1. Tea Leoni

2. Lea Thompson, mid-90's vintage ("Get your damn hands off her, Biff!")

3. Diana Rigg, Avengers-vintage, ("Oh, Mrs. Peel. Are you trying to seduce me?)

4. Angelina Jolie (Oh, yes you would, you lying dogs. Confess, I say!)

5. Vanessa Branch. Who? Why the Orbit Girl, of course:


Yips! from Gary:

1. Diane Lane (duh)

2. Elizabeth Shue

3. Courtney Thorne-Smith

4. Sela Ward

5. Elisha Cuthbert (rock the cradle of luv)

Honorable Mention: Sabine Ehrenfeld


The girl (it's all about the "O", ya know)

Posted by Robert at 01:02 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Define Irony

The man who brought you Jar-Jar Binks, poisonous centipedes and a depiction of a young Darth Vader saying things like "Yipeeee!" calls "Spider-Man 3" silly.

I mean, sure, there are several things about "Spider-Man 3" that I found somewhat silly. But this coming from the Flannelled One?

Hey, George. I've got three words for you: "Howard The Duck"!

And BTW when the hell did Cate Blanchett start morphing into David Bowie?

Posted by Gary at 10:55 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation

There's a little Greek deli outside my metro stop. It used to be called Port of Piraeus. Some time recently, they changed the name to Athens Market.

Piraeus was the port of ancient Athens. A famous double set of long walls was built between the two - a distance of about five miles or so - during the Persian Wars of the mid-5th Century and Piraeus became the critical deep-water harbor for the celebrated Athenian Fleet. During the Peloponnesian War, it was this link with the sea that allowed Athens to carry on as long as it did even though Sparta could invade Attica from the landward side at will and even beseiged the city.

I think the name change at the deli is a shame. "Port of Piraeus" harkens back to classical times (the port eventually was destroyed by the Romans when they took control in the 1st Century B.C. and never recovered) and for me has a real romance to it. One thinks of Herodotus and Thucydides, of Themistocles and Pericles and the wiping out of Xerxes' navy at the Battle of Salamis. Athens, on the other hand, while certainly having a classical air, also has several millenia of more modern mish-mashed history to dilute it. It just really isn't the same thing.

Oh, well.

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

Get Your Jack On

Because today - May 9th - is Jack Bauer Appreciation Day (JBAD, for short).

For you "24" fans, head over to to get your instructions...NOW!


For you non-fans, at least stay away from Chinese food today out of respect for Jack.

Posted by Gary at 09:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2007

Fred Thompson Helps Us Brush Up On Our History

The 18th Century War on Terror. We've seen their kind before.

And now Ol' Fred does Podcasts, so you can hear it from the source.

draft fred thompson logo.jpg
Ol' Fred For President. Because he knows how Thomas Jefferson and the U.S. Marines kicked Islamofascist butt two hundred years ago and he's ready to do it again.

Posted by Gary at 03:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Jurisprudential quip of the day

From Mr. Atoz at Agent Bed Head:

Paris Hilton’s lawyers are furiously working to appeal her jail sentence, but being appealing has never been her forte.
Posted by Steve-O at 03:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Now THAT'S a movie review

Classic Pajiba:

01:48: The music is by Stewart Copeland. Y’all remember him, right? This is truly depressing — one of the dudes responsible for my college answering machine message (“Mother,” which I alternated with The Descendants’ “Wienershnitzel”) is now providing the score to a Jon Bon Jovi film. Twenty-five years ago, Stewart Copeland wouldn’t have pissed on Jon Bon Jovi’s lion mane if it was on fire. So let’s look at Copeland’s progression: The Police. Scoring Wall Street. Scoring Good Burger. And now this. Porn is the only logical next step. 02:00: Dear God. Within the first 20 seconds, a camel walks into a courthouse and flatulates. Paris, je t’aime, I miss you already. 02:17: Now, there is an assortment of farm animals in the courtroom, most of which are farting. 02:57: The janitor (Curtis “Booger” Armstrong) is trying to get to the bottom of this — Bud Bundy is explaining. “It’s a long story,” he says. Oh — we’re going into flashback territory.

11:25: Jon has dropped a tray of appetizers on a midget. The little person just punched Jon in the nards. Jon takes umbrage and throws him in the punch bowl. Classy stuff, folks. The makings of a fine Cary Grant-style screwball comedy.
13:39: Jon is now discussing his new idea with Bud Bundy — this one is golden, he says. Surefire. Are you ready for it? All right. Here goes: A professional hockey league … for women.
14:34: Everyone is of the opinion that a women’s hockey league only works if the women are topless. A brief fantasy sequence is brought in for demonstrative purposes — a bare-chested woman gets all Catholic Schoolgirls … are … Easy with the rink glass.

Although this comment about plans for a sequel to Wall Street is brilliant:

I suppose the very fact that Douglas would seek to cash in on a lame-brained sequel idea like this suggests that greed is, indeed, the driving force, in which case greed isn’t as good as Gekko would have us believe.
Posted by Steve-O at 03:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"There's A Missile In My House, Gary! A Missile!"

Life imitates "Weird Science". Party at the Eurythmics chick's house, dude!

Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox might well be feeling, as in the words of her hit song, just like she's walking on broken glass today.

The popstar, 52, has been hit with a hefty repair bill after her 16-year-old daughter became the latest victim of gatecrashers who get wind of a party on the internet.

The mayhem happened after Annie's teenaged daughter Lola innocently let slip she was having a get-together at home while her film producer father Uri Fruchtmann was away.

But the email which was meant to get to just 30 close school friends ended up frenziedly circulating to hundreds of others. It is understood that the information about the party spread on websites like MySpace.

Their £2 million family home in north London was trashed when more than a hundred youngsters forced entry.

Party-goers daubed graffiti on walls, broke pictures and lampshades, tore apart books, urinated and vomited on carpets, flooded the kitchen and had a pitch battle in the garden.

It was not long before it was standing room only at the house and in its grounds and the party quickly got out of hand.

weird science.jpg
"Make sure you post the address. With directions, too. This is going to be a bitchin' party, man."

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

Gratuitous Duke Blogging

John Wayne.jpg

Gretchen Wayne on her famous father-in-law:

“They refer to that generation of men during the Forties as ‘the finest generation’,” says Gretchen. “They put everything on the line. They married their sweethearts, went off to war, kept us safe from the enemy, and we still revere them, thank God. We haven’t done the same for our other fighting men. But we revere that generation, and they were the moral compass for a lot of us today. They were the ones who set the standard. And who was emblematic of that standard? John Wayne.”

Yet that wasn’t how Wayne saw himself. “He always said to Michael, ‘People say I’m a hero. I must be a good actor! I’m not a hero.’ People identified with him. He had an honesty about him that people could connect with. He was sophisticated, but he didn’t wear sophistication on his sleeve. He had a humble quality. Women saw him as the manly man – the epitome of what manhood should be. He was respectful of women, except in The Quiet Man, but that’s the humour of it. And men — I think of the guy that went to work, doing his best to support his family, eking out his living, being honest, loving his wife, caring for his children, supporting his country: he felt he could identify with John Wayne. Because in John Wayne he saw a guy that was true to his ideals in life.

“He represents a time when we gave our word, and meant our word, on a handshake. Honesty, a certain amount of gentility, respect and obligation. He felt all of those things, and he represented that in characters he played. People look up to that. Maybe he’ll remind us of a time when people were responsible human beings, and I think we’ve lost that.”

Read the rest of the article. It is surprisingly sympathetic, given that it comes from the UK Times. It's always been my experience that Europeans (and many of their imitators on this side of the pond) have a hard time "getting" Wayne, often puzzled or offended or both by his pure Americanism.

The 100th anniversary of Wayne's birth is coming up later this month. To mark this, the family production company (still run by Gretchen) plans to release commemerative DVD's of four of the Dook's movies: Island in the Sky (1953), Hondo (1953), The High and the Mighty (1954) and McLintock! (1963).

The High & The Mighty always amuses me. It's basically the story of a passenger plane on its way from Hawaii to the Mainland running into mechanical trouble and is very much the prototype of the later Airport disaster movies. Wayne plays the plane's co-pilot, but the real joy is in watching Robert Stack as Captain John Sullivan, the cool, experienced, no-nonsense guy who suddenly snaps. It is only after seeing this performance that you realize he later parodies himself when he plays Captain Rex Cramer in Airplane!

As for the Dook's westerns, I almost always have a couple floating around in my Netflix queue at any given time. At the moment, I've got Rio Bravo, The Comancheros and Fort Apache. In honor of Wayne's Centennial, I think I'll toss in a few more.

Posted by Robert at 02:06 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Tolkien Geekery Alert

I've just posted my last installment from "Unfinished Tales" at the Tolkien Geek site - "The Battles of the Fords of Isen".

Go get you fill, especially if you're into fictional military history. It'll probably be my last new post at the site for a while.

Yips! from Robbo: Speaking of which, Don of Scuffulans hirsutus (nee Mixolydian Mode) links to a post about "Dwarfism" in the movies of Peter Jackson. I would just like to point out that this was, in fact, the subject of my very first substantive blogpost all those moons ago. Here it is again, in case you're interested. And I still stand by my opinion.

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

Fake Harry Potter Book On The Internet

Some dude went and wrote a 250,000 word version of the yet-to-be-released "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" and put in out on the internet as a hoax.

A spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the internet version but it is not the real thing. People will have to wait until July 21."

The fake has been posted on at least one Potter site.

A literary expert said: "There are tens of thousands of words. It claims to be the real McCoy."

It has a happy ending, with Harry marrying his sweetheart Ginny Weasley.

But author JK Rowling has hinted that her hero will die in the seventh and final Harry book.

An unprecedented security operation is in place to make sure it is not leaked. Only three people other than JK, all top publishing bosses, have read it.

Books will be delivered to shops in locked containers tied with steel chains.

Security operation? Oh, c'mon. We all know what happened last time:

You just know this guy (and more like him) are going to get their hands on a copy before July 21st.

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

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Shipwright Division


This may seem like a pretty random bleg, but does anybody out there have any bright ideas on how to go about constructing a model of a Viking longboat? This is the Nine and Seven Year Olds' joint history project this year and I've basically got a window of Friday morning to zap over to Michael's to get whatever supplies I'm going to need.

The sail, masts, oars, shields and benches won't present any problem. But planking the hull might. Unlike the Circus Maximus the elder gel and I put together last spring, this is all curvey and complicated. And both gels have stated that they want this year's model to be more realistic than last year's rayther more simplified effort. Right now I'm noodling trying strips of balsa glued over a cardboard shell, but if you've got a better suggestion, I'd love to hear it.

At least I had the bright idea of presenting the thing actually in the water, thereby eliminating the need to do the entire hull.

UPDATE: Oh, and while we're on the subject, why isn't Erik the Viking available on DVD? A cryin' shame, if you ask me.

Posted by Robert at 10:34 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Jumping the Shark turns tragic

Kids, let me say it again: jumping the shark should only be done by trained professionals in media, entertainment, and politics---not you Evel Knievel/Johnny Knoxville wannabes.

Posted by Steve-O at 07:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 07, 2007

Because 24 really sucks tonight

Pajiba's playing the list game. Here's mine:

1. Melissa Theuriau (well, duh)

2. Helen Hunt (sue me)

3. The Baroness Thatcher (come on, you know you'd do it)

4. Margaret Carlson (to boldly go where Ol' Fred! has gone before)

5. Her Holy Primatical Hottiness Bishop Katharine Jefforts Schorri (if only to be able to use the "Hey, let's get eschatological on the gnosis, baby" line I've been saving up all these years.) Failing that, Marge Simpson, because hey, once you've had orange, you'll, umm, never want more-ange?

Posted by Steve-O at 08:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wish I Was A Microphone

Melissa sez:

"Zee new Prime Meeneester-Elect Sarkozy says we can be friends now, mon ami! I am so happy!"

We are too, Melissa. We are too.

Posted by Gary at 07:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How do you say "Man of Steel" in Spanish?

Because, like, I already know how you say it in Russian.

The latest from the bastard love child of Che Guevara and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that Venezuela's largest steel maker, Sidor, will not be allowed to make any more exports until it meets domestic needs, and threatened to expropriate the Argentine-controlled company if it resists.

Chavez has criticized Sidor for selling the bulk of its production overseas and forcing local producers to import from elsewhere, saying Venezuelan industry should be given priority.

Sidor's parent company, Luxembourg-based Ternium SA, is controlled by conglomerate Techint Group of Argentina. Chavez said he has summoned Ternium chairman Paolo Rocca from Buenos Aires for talks.

"We're going to pass a law, Rocca. We're going to force you to supply, first and foremost, the Venezuelan domestic market before you take (the steel) to other countries," the Venezuelan leader said at a news conference.

"If you don't agree, give it to me. I'll grab your company. Give it to me, and I'll pay you what it's worth. I won't rob you," Chavez said.
Phone calls to Sodor for comment went unanswered Saturday afternoon.

Chavez, who was recently granted special powers to decree laws, also said he was ready to require that all businesses in Venezuela similarly supply domestic demand before exporting.

His next aggressive move against Sodor: nationalizing the railroad. Sir Topham Hatt was unavailable for comment.

hugo chavez fat fruity fart.jpeg
hugo chavez staypuft marshmallow man.jpg

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

Timewaster Alert

Boomshine - it's kind of a New Age Missle Command - same chain-reaction concept but with pretty pastels and tinkly keyboard music.

At one shot per level, it isn't very complicated. Also, it's quite soothing when you're on a long, boring phone call. (Er, so I would imagine.)

Yips! to Dave Barry.

Posted by Robert at 04:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Joey, Do You Like Posts About Gladiators?


Then you'll think this is pretty cool: Gladiators' graveyard discovered.

The Ephesus graves containing thousands of bones were found along with three gravestones, clearly depicting gladiators.

Two pathologists at the Medical University of Vienna - Professor Karl Grossschmidt and Professor Fabian Kanz - have spent much of the past five years painstakingly cataloguing and forensically analysing every single bone for age, injury and cause of death.

They found at least 67 individuals, nearly all aged 20 to 30. One striking bit of evidence is that many have healed wounds.

To Kanz and Grossschmidt, this suggests they were prized individuals getting good and expensive medical treatment. One body even shows signs of a surgical amputation.

And the lack of multiple wounds found on the bones, according to the pathologists, suggests that they had not been involved in chaotic mass brawls. Instead, it points to organised duels under strict rules of combat, probably with referees monitoring the bouts.

Posted by Robert at 03:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

That's My Church!


From the Diocese of Virginia:

In the fall of 2006, a Covenant Design Group was appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to create a Draft Covenant for the member Churches of the Anglican Communion. In the Group’s report, issued to the primates of the Anglican Communion at their annual meeting in Tanzania in February, the Group affirmed that the Covenant should be designed “to hold together and strengthen the life of the Communion.” They also recognized that “while a definite text which held all such elements in balance might take time to develop in the life of the Communion, there was also an urgent need to re-establish trust between the churches of the Communion.” Keeping the content and urgency in mind, the Design Group released a seven section draft on Feb. 19. The sections address topics including common catholicity and confession of faith; Anglican vocation; unity and common life; and common commitments.

The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church will create a response to the Draft Covenant at its October 2007 meeting. The Council wants the input of the people of the Episcopal Church in creating this response, and so Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson appointed an ad hoc Committee of Executive Council to develop a study guide of the Covenant.

Clicky the link above to get at the Draft Covenant and the accompanying study guide. They'll be attached to the May 3 news item. (Warning - they're in pdf format and I haven't found any better links to them.)

I've only scanned the docs very, very briefly, so don't have much of an initial opinion.

We're having a pair of meetings in my parish later this month so that people can offer their input. Although I feel obligated to go and toss in my two cents, the cynic in me says that this isn't going to make a single damn bit of difference: TEC is going to serve up whatever the gang at 815 decide. However, by going through this exercise, they probably hope to add a democratic veneer to it.

I've noticed in discussions of late the renewed emphasis on the fact that TEC is nominally governed from the bottom up, not the other way around like most members of the Communion. I've also noticed a new meme to the effect that the Communion is a relatively new arrangement and that nobody has ever really taken the time to sort out exactly what membership in it means.

IMHO, both of these talking points are designed to condition our flock into thinking that if TEC "needs to be in another place," then really it won't be all that bad a thing anyway, since we're a group of enlightened thinkers and they're all just a pack of imperialist crypto-Roman zombies.

"You SPOKE to Bishop Akinola?"

Posted by Robert at 02:15 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Take This Job And Bleat It

As probably most of our regular readers know, James Lileks announced in his column today that his regular employer, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, is kyboshing his weekly column of regular-guy observations and reassigning him to a reporter's beat, something Lileks has absolutely no desire to do.

The Colossus and many others are outraged over the MS-T's apparent idiocy and encourage everyone to send in a complaint.

Whether it will do much good, I dunno. The new owners of the MS-T may simply not have realized what they are doing. On the other hand, Tim Worstall smells a larger, carefully-calculated rat:

[A]ny European observer, indeed any US manager who has dealt with union shops, would recognise what is going on here.

Take a well respected, well known and (for all I know, well paid) employee and assign him to duties manifestly ill suited to his talents at a time when you're looking to cut costs and create redundancies.

Then hope they resign in disgust so that you don't have to pay the "dismissal pay provision".

Simple, elegant and, as far as I know, entirely legal in the US.

Whatever the motivation, I sincerely hope the MS-T changes its mind.

Posted by Robert at 12:29 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


I'm going to print this out and use it as a cautionary tale the next time the Llama-ettes give me flak about taking a shower:

ALBANY, Oregon (AP) -- These guys were not exactly Snap, Crackle and Pop.

What began as a faint popping in a 9-year-old boy's ear -- "like Rice Krispies" -- ended up as an earache, and the doctor's diagnosis was that a pair of spiders made a home in the ear.

"They were walking on my eardrums," Jesse Courtney said.

One of the spiders was still alive after the doctor flushed the fourth-grader's left ear canal. His mother, Diane Courtney, said her son insisted he kept hearing a faint popping in his ear -- "like Rice Krispies."

Dr. David Irvine said it looked like the boy had something in his ear when he examined him.

When he irrigated the ear, the first spider came out, dead. The other spider took a second dousing before it emerged, still alive. Both were about the size of a pencil eraser.

Jesse was given the spiders -- now both dead -- as a souvenir. He has taken them to school and his mother has taken them to work.

UPDATE: I meant to finish the thought earlier but my computer went blooie. Exactly where do these people think it's going to get them to display the arachnid squatters to classmates and co-employees (or to AP readers, for that matter)?

The Family Courtney: "I'd walk on eight legs to get my fifteen minutes of fame! Sixteen legs if the second one had lived!"

Posted by Robert at 10:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sun rises, sets, taxes collected

...and Pete Doherty pinched for drug possession.

Posted by Steve-O at 10:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Flash Traffic


The Irish Elk brings news of a possible tee vee version of Flashman At The Charge, with a screenplay done by the author of the chronicles of Harry Flashman, George MacDonald Fraser. (Just as an aside, if the author himself does the screenplay, do I have any grounds whatever to get cranky about the finished product if I don't like it?)

Unless they're planning to air the thing on Skinemax, I can only assume it will be heavily edited.

Fraser also confirms that he's got another installment of the Flashman Papers in the works. Irish mentions the possibility that it will center on the French intervention in Mexico leading up to the death by firing squad of Emperor Maximillian I in 1867.

Personally, hope that the other leading rumor is true, namely, that the next adventure will find Flashy fighting on both sides of the American Civil War. That he did so is stated repeatedly in other volumes, and Fraser has hinted at committing this story to paper more than once.

Posted by Robert at 09:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Vote For Change In France

Who knew they had a "silent majority"? Apparently, Sarkozy did. And they pretty much said "Suck it, hippies!".


Mr. Sarkozy acknowledges he is now part of the elites of French society, but he pledges he will govern in a way that is beyond their interests. "If I'm elected," he told reporters before yesterday's balloting, "it won't be the press, the polls, the elites. It will have been the people." His clearest break with much of French elite opinion came last week when he made a dramatic speech about a "moral crisis" the nation entered in 1968, when the "moral and intellectual relativism" embodied by the 1968 student revolt that helped topple President Charles de Gaulle from power the next year. Today, many philosophers and media commentators routinely pay homage to "the élan of 1968" and lament that the revolutionary spirit of the time did not succeed in transforming bourgeois French society more than it did.

Mr. Sarkozy took on that '60s nostalgia. He labelled Ms. Royal and her supporters the descendants of the nihilists of 1968, and even appealed to France's "silent majority" to repudiate the false lessons of that period. He claimed that too many Royal backers continue to hesitate in reacting against riots by "thugs, troublemakers and fraudsters." He declared this Sunday's election would settle the "question of whether the heritage of May '68 should be perpetuated or if it should be liquidated once and for all."

It appears that Mr. Sarkozy may have found the ultimate "wedge" issue in France, judging by the solid margin he won many traditional working-class neighborhoods that normally support Socialist candidates. Mr. Sarkozy's triumph provides at least a chance that there will be a real debate on the role of the state in France's economy and, yes, even some discussion of whether France should be in perpetual conflict with America.

No matter how you look at it - especially with a turnout of over 80% - the voters made a bold decision for the future of France. Change is scary. And they should be commended for being willing to take the risk.

france celebrates.jpg

Now can we please get Melissa Theuriau appointed Ambassador to the U.S.?

YIPS from Steve-O I thought this was particularly interesting, and I wonder how the Glacier's pollsters will pick over it:

Women voters shun Royal Socialist Segolene Royal failed to win over a majority of women voters in France's presidential election and may have paid a price for focusing too much on her gender at the expense of promoting her policies.


Only 48 percent of women voted for Royal, according to an Ipsos poll conducted on election day on Sunday, while 52 percent supported rightist rival and overall winner Nicolas Sarkozy.

The weak female support is a bitter personal blow for Royal, who had played up her feminist credentials throughout the campaign, frequently defending policies she would want "as a mother" and accusing critics of male chauvinism.

Some women said the glamorous Royal, a mother of four, had focused too much on the symbolism linked to becoming France's first female president.

"The reason she did not have the female vote is not because there was no solidarity but because she was not up to it," said Tita Zeitoun, founder of the Action de Femme group which fights to get more women into top business positions.

"Just because you're a feminist, you don't vote for a women who does not have the ability. We're talking about the presidential election here ... It's too serious to link this to a phenomenon of femininity or feminism," she said.

Many voters complained Royal's policies lacked coherence compared to the proposals by Sarkozy, "the candidate for work", who promised rewards for those who worked hard and said he would undermine the 35-hour work week by cutting taxes on overtime.

The Ipsos poll showed a majority of private sector workers, pensioners and self-employed voted for Sarkozy, while Royal gained support among the unemployed and those aged under 25.

Royal had campaigned on leftist economic plans, including an increase in the minimum wage. She also pledged to make France a fairer place, saying she would promote the equal treatment of men and women and to fight violence against women.

Trifecta Yips! from Robbo:

I note that Steyn doesn't think France has quite got to the crossroads yet:

In my recent book, whose title escapes me, I cite one of those small anecdotes that seems almost too perfect a distillation of Continental politics. It was a news item from 2005: A fellow in Marseilles was charged with fraud because he lived with the dead body of his mother for five years in order to continue receiving her pension of 700 euros a month.

She was 94 when she croaked, so she'd presumably been enjoying the old government check for a good three decades or so, but her son figured he might as well keep the money rolling in until her second century and, with her corpse tucked away under a pile of rubbish in the living room, the female telephone voice he put on for the benefit of the social services office was apparently convincing enough. As the Reuters headline put it: "Frenchman Lived With Dead Mother To Keep Pension."

Think of France as that flat in Marseilles, and its economy as the dead mother, and the country's many state benefits as monsieur's deceased mom's benefits. To the outside observer, the French give the impression they can live with the stench of death as long as the government benefits keep coming. If that's the case, the new president will have the shortest of honeymoons.

If this is indeed the case, then I'm frankly a bit dissappointed in the election results. Screwball socialism aside, Royal is easy on the eyes......


(Yes, I have indeed entered middle age when I find myself promoting the attractiveness of a 53 year old woman.)

Posted by Gary at 09:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 06, 2007

Wicked Cool

This one's for Robbo: the animated Bayeux Tapestry.

And remind me to withhold judgment the next time I want to call GroovyVic a loser:

Posted by Steve-O at 08:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 04, 2007

A Fine Mess

Seems my occassional postings over at the Cake Eater Chronicles have subjected Kathy to a blizzard of comment spam the past 48 hours or so. And because of the way the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack works, I've been shovelling them out of our account as well.

Sorry 'bout that Kathy.

Well, in the spirit and since it's Friday afternoon, here's a little of teh funny by way of making up:

Posted by Robert at 03:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Tolkien Geekery Posting

Philip Hensher reviews The Children of Húrin by J R R Tolkien and I don't think he likes it:

There are almost too many reasons to detest this new Tolkien confection. His prose hasn't improved beyond the grave. It is still that joke Edwardian-Biblical with made-up irregular past tenses ("it would cleave all earth-dolven iron") and absurd plurals - we are spared "waives", but only just. There are passages that you just can't understand - "under the shadows of Ered Wethrin he defiled the Eithel Ivrin". There is the ongoing belief that "for" is how the English say parce que . There is the total lack of any talent for dialogue: "Ha! Here we find them! Follow me all! Out now, and slay!"

And there is the suspicion that none of this actually matters at all: that, in the end, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion and The Book of Lost Tales and the made-up languages and the Eldar and the Sindar and Uncle Tom Bombadil and all, just maybe, are the insanely consistent ramblings of an eccentric. How, exactly, does the invented mythology of a Tolkien differ from the mythology of, say, a Henry Darger, with thousands of pages kept under his bed?

The Tolkien estate must have been inspired to repackage some of Tolkien's writings by the success of the Lord of the Rings films. (The romantic illustrations, by Alan Lee, give the game away; his Mordor and elf-kingdoms and underground palaces have exactly the look of the three films.) I say "repackage" because, to the real obsessive, none of this will be new; it has been extracted from collections of posthumous writings, such as The Silmarillion and even less penetrable recensions. Supposedly from a period thousands of years before the action of The Lord of the Rings, it's about Túrin, the cursed son of Húrin, a heroic Man.

"Uncle Tom" Bombadil?

I think Hensher doesn't much like this book because he doesn't much like Tolkien to begin with. Me, I truthfully don't have much interest in buying it because I've got enough of the story already from The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. I hate to say it, but I'm not sure Hensher isn't on to something about the reasons behind repackaging the story here.

Yips! from Gary (the Tolkien Geek):
I ain't going near this one.

Yips! back from Robbo: Dude! I tossed you a lateral and was expecting you to take off with it!

Boomerang Yips! back from Gary:

Sorry, man. The farther out Tolkien gets from the Third Age the more it makes my hair hurt.

Posted by Robert at 02:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

That's My Church! Smackdown Division


Archbishop Akinola writes to Her Presiding Priestessness:

2nd May, 2007

The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori,
Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017, USA

My dear Presiding Bishop:

My attention has been drawn to your letter of April 30th ostensibly written to me but published on the Episcopal News Service website.

In light of the concerns that you raise it might be helpful to be reminded of the actions and decisions that have led to our current predicament.

At the emergency meeting of the Primates in October 2003 it was made clear that the proposed actions of the Episcopal Church would "tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues ..." Sadly, this proved to be true as many provinces did proceed to declare broken or impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. Since that time the Primates have established task forces, held numerous meetings and issued a variety of statements and communiquŽs but the brokenness remains, our Provinces are divided, and so the usual protocol and permissions are no longer applicable.

You will also recall from our meeting in Dar es Salaam that there was specific discussion about CANA and recognition - expressed in the Communique itself - of the important role that it plays in the context of the present division within your Province. CANA was established as a Convocation of the Church of Nigeria, and therefore a constituent part of the Communion, to provide a safe place for those who wish to remain faithful Anglicans but can no longer do so within The Episcopal Church as it is currently being led. The response for your own House of Bishops to the carefully written and unanimously approved Pastoral Scheme in the Communique makes it clear that such pastoral protection is even more necessary.

It is my heartfelt desire - and indeed the expressed hope of all the Primates of the Communion - that The Episcopal Church will reconsider its actions - and make such special measures no longer necessary. This is the only way forward for full restoration into fellowship with the rest of the Communion. Further, I renew the pledge that I made to your predecessor, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, that the Church of Nigeria will be the first to restore communion on the day that your Province abandons its current unbiblical agenda. Until then we have no other choice than to offer our assistance and oversight to our people and all those who will not compromise the "faith once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3)

You speak in your letter of centuries old custom regarding diocesan boundaries. You are, of course, aware that the particular historical situation to which you make reference was intended to protect the church from false teaching not to prevent those who hold to the traditional teaching of the church from receiving faithful episcopal care. It was also a time when the Church had yet to face into the challenge of different denominational expressions of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I also find it curious that you are appealing to the ancient customs of the church when it is your own Province's deliberate rejection of the biblical and historic teaching of the Church that has prompted our current crisis.

You mention the call to reconciliation. As you well know this is a call that I wholeheartedly embrace and indeed was a major theme of our time in Tanzania. You will also remember that one of the key elements of our discussion and the resulting Communique was the importance of resolving our current differences without resorting to civil law suits. You agreed to this. Yet it is my understanding that you are still continuing your own punitive legal actions against a number of CANA clergy and congregations. I fail to see how this is consistent with your own claim to be working towards reconciliation.

Once again please know that I look forward to the day when this current crisis is behind us and we can all be reunited around our One Lord and only Saviour Jesus the Christ. Until then be assured of my prayers for you and The Episcopal Church.

In Christ,
The Most Revd. Peter J Akinola, CON, DD
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria.


Look, if KJS wants to complete the transmogrification of the ECUSA into trendy Unitarian Universalism, that's her own look-out. But she shouldn't be so shocked, shocked! when the Orthodox refuse to go with her.

Oh, and as an aside, I sincerely hope for her own sake that the PB abandons that "Hey, this isn't the way we do things in the Communion" tack real fast because it makes her look like either a supreme hypocrite or an utter moron.

Yips! to regular reader Oahu Mike, who dropped that one in the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack.

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Friday Stupid

Posted by Steve-O at 01:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Bedtime Reading Division


There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it.

Easily one of the greatest opening sentences in Western Lit.

The Nine Year Old and I have started The Voyage of the Dawn Treader again. (My personal favorite of Narnian Chronicles, btw.) We had a try at it about a year ago but never made it past the Lone Islands, why I can't quite recall. However, in recent months the gel has shown a positive enthusiasm for Narnia and we're now actually reading the series backwards. She abhored Shift the Ape in The Last Battle and is still trying to wrap her mind around the Platonic "farther in and farther up" message at the end. She howled with laughter at my rendition of Puddleglum in a Down East accent in The Silver Chair (Steve-O's favorite) and now here we are being introduced to Eustace in all his original awfulness.

For dramatic purposes, I've modelled Scrubb's early dialogue on that of Veruca Salt in the old Willy Wonka movie, and I must say that it plays very well. This is a piece of inspired psychology on my part because I often chastize the Llama-ettes not to act like a pack of Verucas. Every now and again Scrubb will say something that has been said before at Orgle Manor and when he does, I make sure and cock an eye at the gel. I know the message hits home with her because she involuntarily looks at me at the same time and usually drives an elbow into my ribs when she catches me looking back.

While the gel likes the voice I'm using for Eustace, she's also asked several times when it's going to change. I tell her that I think his voice will change once he changes and learns to stop being such a stinker. I reckon the whole business with the dragon skin is going to be a real eye-opener for her and am already marshalling my mental notes for explaining the metaphor.

Posted by Robert at 12:24 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I Just Don't Know What To Make Of This

Even back at my old site, I rarely blogged anything about celebrities unless they said or did something so utterly stupid that it just begged to be lampooned.

And I really could care less about the personal lives of people I only see on film. But this story drew me in. Action star Bruce Willis spends his vacation with his ex-wife and her boy toy.

While Miss Moore canoodled contentedly with her beloved on one side, action man Willis was happy to concentrate on his fishing.

Miss Moore, 44, and her film actor husband, 29, had joined 52-year-old Willis at his home in the Turks and Caicos Islands for a holiday to celebrate the completion of Live Free or Die Hard, his fourth film featuring hard-bitten detective John McClane.

Also present in the Caribbean were Willis and Miss Moore's daughters Rumer, 18, Scout, 15, and Tallulah, 13. Celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz was invited along to record the break for the latest edition of Vanity Fair, which goes on sale today...

...Willis told the magazine he sees nothing unusual in the relationship. He said: "It's hard to understand, but we go on holidays together. We still raise our kids together - we still have that bond.

"Demi is the mother of my children and Ashton is the stepfather of my children. I'm thrilled that Ashton turned out to be such a great guy.

"I love Demi, and I know she loves me."

Moore and Willis separated in 1998 after 11 years of marriage.

She wed Kutcher in 2005, while Willis has since been linked with a string of Hollywood beauties.

OK, now this either makes Bruce Willis the coolest guy in the world or the biggest chump.

Willis Vacation.jpg

I mean, it's one thing to be supportive of your kids' mom and her relationship but damn me you'd think Kutcher could be a little more discrete in the PDA department, no?

Is anyone else torn by this?

Yips! from Robbo: In the words of "Black" Jacques Shellack, "Seek! Seek! Seek!"

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

Be Happy 101

A London School of Economics prof says that kids ought to be given "happiness lessons" in school:

All schoolchildren should have "happiness" lessons up to the age of 18 to combat growing levels of depression, according to a senior Government adviser.

Pupils should study subjects such as how to manage feelings, attitudes to work and money, channelling negative emotions and even how to take a critical view of the media, said Lord Richard Layard, a Labour peer and professor of economics at the London School of Economics.

In a speech last night, he said that Tony Blair's Respect programme - the crackdown on young offenders and problem families - was "far more repressive than preventative" and may be fuelling levels of depression.

He said all state school pupils should receive tuition in "how to be happy" up to the age of 18 and their progress in the subject should feature in university applications.

How does one grade the exams? "Sorry, Forbes Minor, we're going to have to hold you back. There's an insufficient spring in your step and your smile is upside down."

Philosopher AC Grayling weighs in with an editorial on the subject of what makes happiness:

There are two points that need to be firmly grasped before one can talk seriously about the real question at stake, which is not best phrased as "how can we increase the amount of happiness in society", but rather "how can we equip individuals to live more personally satisfying lives?"

Despite seeming to be versions of each other, they are radically different questions. The first suggests a view of happiness as a form of welfare that public funding, if suitably directed through education or some other vehicle of social engineering, could subsidise.

The second recognises that there are very many ways in which people can use the word "happiness" to describe what they feel when their lives are going well, and that what they mean by it is almost always a very individual thing.

The individual thing in question is typically an enduring mood or mindset arising from the joint operation of a number of factors. These include health, the quality of personal relationships, satisfaction in work or other avocations, engagement in creative and pleasurable activities, either financial security or indifference to money, a sense of being valued at work or in the community, and a sufficient degree of independence to be able to make individually important choices and act on them.

Each of these things in turn requires a degree of understanding and a capacity for self-government, which individuals can be helped to acquire both by education and through prevailing social attitudes. For example, health is enhanced by exercise and good diet. That is something that can be taught.

Good relationships are based on mature understanding of others, generosity and tolerance, and an ability to express feelings constructively and appropriately; these are more complex matters, and central to "emotional intelligence", but they likewise can be encouraged and fostered through education and the social debate.

Still, no general prescription is ever going to capture what unique combinations of such factors will suit all individuals.

But society can help individuals to acquire the tools they need for the task of building their own uniquely satisfying lives. And indeed, education is the principal such tool. An education that results in an ability to think, to evaluate evidence and arguments, and to know where to find information and to make use of it is one key; a wide acquaintance with literature and history, and the challenge to respond reflectively to both, is another.

Perhaps "happiness studies" as such will help, but the two keys mentioned are indispensable, and perhaps the only real foundations of a chance for good lives.

Sadly, but perhaps not at all surprising, the concept of religion doesn't seem to enter into the discussion at all. A real pity since, at least IMHO, practical Christianity encompasses so many of these ideas.

Posted by Robert at 09:39 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observations

What is it with the wrist-flap, that move at the top of the backswing while walking that makes the hand look like a jack-knifing tractor-trailor? So far as I've seen, no men do it, but roughly 50% of women do.

I can't say that it necessarily bothers me, but it's become the visual equivalent of one of those tunes you get in your head and can't get out - now that I'm aware of it, I can't stop myself checking to see who's doing it and who isn't.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Posted by Robert at 08:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama G.O.P. Debate Non- Review

I didn't watch it. Primary debates bore me. If you want analysis, go read Peggy Noonan, who makes an excellent point about this "Next Reagan" meme that's sprung up.

Instead, I watched Dennis Miller's All In. Strangely, I found it rayther flat, too. Miller is a very smart guy and a very funny one, but you have to work hard to keep up with him and it seemed as if his Las Vegas audience couldn't quite do it. This, in turn, seemed to throw Miller off a bit, as he often looked slightly flustered and forced. Too bad.

Yips! from Gary:
Eh, I'll through in my two cents.

I only saw a little of the debate but based on the general bloggy consensus this morning, I make the following observations:

- The format was horrible. Lightning round answers of stupid, stupid questions. They were either "gotcha" types from Chris "Big Mouth" Matthews or badly worded and mostly irrelevant ones from the Politico readers.

- The biggest winner was Romney. This was for many Americans their first impression of him, and it was good. This is what he needs to do to make people take a closer look at him

- The biggest loser was Giuliani only because he is the "front-runner" at this point and the expectations were high. He seemed a less prepared and confident than you would expect

- McCain was good in some ways, not so good in others. He remains for me a viable option but he still has a long way to go to prove to me that he's the best choice

- If there were fewer candidates up there than the remaining ones would have had more time for answers. Some of these guys should really just go away as they have less than zero chances and were doing little more than using up oxygen last night (I'm talking to you Ron Paul)

- Some of the "second-tier" candidates should probably hang around though to keep this from being a "let's all gang up on Rudy" fest

- Fred Thompson benefited from not being a candidate yet. Other than Romney, no one in particular made that much of an impression and the desire for an additional option may help fuel his candidacy. I figure that if he's going to run he needs to formally declare no later than the Fourth of July otherwise the money and staffing will just not be there for him

- If Thompson does decide to run, Giuliani will be impacted the most, followed by McCain. Depending on how he does and how the others react to him you would have a four man top tier right now and one of them will be gone by the end of the year. The base support is a fixed pie and I would think that one (or even two) of them will be effectively squeezed out before the first primary

I also agree with the lovely Ms. Noonan on the whole "Reagan Successor" thing. Can we start asking which one of the clowns on the Dem side will be the next Jimmah Carter?

Posted by Robert at 08:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Swiftboating Sarkozy

I'm really starting to enjoy this:

Socialist Segolene Royal warned on Friday that France could slide into violence if Nicolas Sarkozy wins the presidency as polls showed the rightwinger had extended his lead.

"His candidacy is dangerous. That is why I ask voters to think twice," said Royal in an interview to RTL radio on the final day of campaigning ahead of the election on Sunday.

Two polls released on Friday showed Sarkozy pulling ahead of Royal with 53 and 54% of votes against 46 and 47% for the Socialist.

Royal, who wants to become France's first woman president, said she was "issuing an alert" that the election of Sarkozy to the presidency could "trigger violence and brutalities across the country".

She described her rival as "the candidate of the hard right" and said his victory would create "very strong tensions in the country".

Sarkozy reacted to Royal's attacks by saying that she was upset by her drop in the polls.

'She is getting tense'

"It must be the polls. It's so outrageous," Sarkozy said of her comments in an interview to Europe1 radio. "She is getting tense, stiffer because she feels the ground shifting."

Sarkozy, the former interior minister, is hated by many on the left and in the high-immigrant suburbs for his tough-talk on immigration and law and order.

His description of young delinquents in the suburbs as "rabble" ahead of the 2005 riots made him an enemy of the Arab and African residents of the poor areas surrounding Paris and other major cities.

Royal noted that Sarkozy had not been able to campaign freely in the suburbs without the escort of "hundreds of police".

She also accused him of having ties to media and financial interests, reiterating that his candidacy was "dangerous in terms of the concentration of powers, in terms of brutality and in terms of lies".

"I am not a woman of a clique," she said, adding that she was ready to reach out to the centrist voters.

Nearly seven million voters who backed centrist Francois Bayrou in the April 22 first round of the election have been courted assiduously by both Royal and Sarkozy ahead of the runoff.

Can you imagine how much fun a Sarkozy presidency could be?

Posted by Steve-O at 07:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 03, 2007

Gratuitous 18th Century Posting (TM)

James Gillray, A Voluptuary under the horrors of Digestion, 1792

Regular readers are well aware of my fondness for all things late 18th Century British (including the above gratuitous whack at the then-Prince of Wales, the lout).

So when Gail over at Scribal Terror dropped me a hat-trick of topical links, of course I couldn't resist passing them on. Here, therefore, I present you Captain Cook vs. the Kanagaroo, an 18th Century forerunner of Janet Jackson and a handy-dandy guide to local ladies of the evening, complete with talents, prices and customer satisfaction testimonials.

By the bye, we're getting ready to give the ol' blogroll a good shaking 'round here. I should have put ST on it a long time ago and intend to shortly. If you're not a regular over at Gail's already, you ought to be.

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 04:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

No Particular Reason Either

Other than she is way cuter than Michael Stipe.

Plus I always loved this song:

C'mon, admit it. You had a crush on her too.

Okay. Same album. Same photo shoot. A little slower. A leeeeettle bit sexier.


Posted by Gary at 04:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


To: Gary, Robbo, Fantabulous Chai-Rista:

From: Steve-O

RE: Declining standards

We're slipping, and we need to do something about it. Damn it, people, we have a reputation to protect, and we're not going to let spineless war mongers like David Broder stand in the way of DESTINY!

Now go out there and make me proud!

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Why Axis Sully has been so, umm, Gruff lately

From the BBC:

The best-known goat in Sudan has died months after being "married" to a man in the South Sudan capital, Juba, the BBC has learned. Local elders ordered a man found having sex with the goat, later called Rose, to "marry" her last February.

"The idea was to publicly embarrass the man," says Tom Rhodes, editor of the Juba Post, which first ran the story.

The BBC's story of the "wedding" caught the public imagination and became one of the best read internet stories.

Rose, black and white, is believed to have died after choking on a plastic bag she swallowed as she was eating scraps on the streets of Juba.

There's an Episcopal/Gov McGreevey/Bishop Akinola joke that I'm just not going to reach around for.

Posted by Steve-O at 02:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Democrats "Surrender" Their Surrender Demand

That didn't take long.

Reactions from moonbat-land will be amusing.

YIPS from Steve-O: I should have realized that when Biden said they were going to "shove it down Bush's throat" what they really meant was bend over and take it like a Frenchmen.

Posted by Gary at 10:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation

So the Metro recently has been plastered with posters for something called BODIES: The Exhibition currently on display somewhere in the wilds of Rossyln. It's supposed to be a detailed display of the inner workings of this mortal coil, and I believe has generated some controversy for its use of actual cadavers. As a matter of fact, it does look rayther interesting.

But back to the posters. They're of sort that contain what is conceived to be eye-catching trivia. You know the sort of thing, "Snot comes out of your nose at 100 mph when you sneeze." Just the thing to get your loutish teenager interested in slogging out to see the show. (Of course, once he's there, all he'll want to look at are the naughty bits.)

The one that gets me, however, reads, "It takes 17 muscles to smile, but 43 muscles to frown."

Let's just say that as a general rule I prefer the more comprehensive facial workout, thank you very much.

Indeed, this poster is nothing more than, "A smile is a frown turned upside down," dolled up in medical terms and is of a sentiment that immediately makes me want to reach for a large brick. Particularly first thing in the morning when I haven't had any coffee yet.

Oh, and speaking of things to make Robbo cranky of a morn, the tag line to the exhibition reads:

Celebrate the wonder of the human form in the World Premier of BODIES … The Exhibition—a phenomenal look at the phenomena we call the human body.

It could be that the copy writer sought to acknowledge that the human body is really an interdependent set of extremely complex systems and processes. On the other hand, it could also be that said writer doesn't know the difference between "phenomenon" and "phenomena".

I know where I'd put my money.....

UPDATE: Mr. P sends along a post reviewing the exhibit that raises some seriously troubling questions about the bodies used therein:

A local newsaper, New York Newsday, reports as to the exhibit's ultimate source: "The bodies are unclaimed or unidentified individuals from China." That disclaimer appears next to a Newsday photo of the polymer-coated corpse of a 32 week old unborn child. All 16 Newsday photos from the exhibit can be seen here. Caution: they are not for family viewing.

At the exhibit itself, there is no statment whatsoever about the derivation of the corpses, and the New York Times greeted its arrival by publishing questions from human rights activist Harry Wu. Mr. Wu noted that the bodies of executed prisoners had been exploited by this same universtity in the past. It is clear that no one in the United States really knows who the dead individuals are, much less how they died. To the relief of the exhibitors, no one seems to care. No local politicians have objected or raised questions, and a similar display by the same exhibitor in Tampa has not drawn any notable complaint at the national level. Katie Couric on the Today Show, while cracking jokes last week as she sat next to one of the dead bodies, did mention that the exhibit is "controversial."

Sigh....Robbo's naivete strikes again. My last encounter with a cadaver was with the one my brother used in med school. He explained that his school only used bodies voluntarily donated and also that a blessing was said over all of them at the beginning of the term in a very dignified ceremony. I frankly hadn't given much thought to the uglier side of corpse-trafficking. Needless to say, this revelation changes my attitude toward the whole business considerably.

UPDATE DEUX: However, as to the main point of my post, which is a rant about enforced cheerfulness, I remain firm. So much so that I steal this pic sent over by the Colossus without the slightest reservation:


Heh. Indeed.

Posted by Robert at 09:38 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 02, 2007

No particular reason

A buddy from high school just sent this to me: REM on Letterman, October 1983.

Michael Stipe doing a great Frampton impersonation, btw.

Posted by Steve-O at 06:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That's My Church - Da Bishop! Division


The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee addresses his flock of Virginny Palies concerning the impending further encroachment of, em, those people:

Dear Friends:

The Episcopal Church is in the midst of a challenging time. As in times past, we will get through it and emerge renewed in our faith and refocused on our mission and strengthened for service to our Lord. I regret, however, that there are impatient forces seeking to provoke conflict when humility, respect and patience are in order.

In the run up to this weekend you no doubt will read news accounts of the impending visit of the Archbishop of Nigeria the Most Rev. Peter Akinola to preside at a service of installation of the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns. This weekend’s ceremony will provide false comfort to those who seek certainty in an uncertain world. But in truth, it will serve only to inflame the differences we have been struggling with. When there is so much that brings us together as brothers and sisters in Christ, in a Church that has always celebrated and respected a wide variety of opinions, it is painful to see our shared ministry and faith overshadowed by our differences.

We are fortunate in the Diocese of Virginia, however, to be able to give witness to the things that unite us despite the challenges we face from those now non-Episcopal congregations which seek to divide us. Later this month we will consecrate the Very Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston as our Bishop Coadjutor. When I retire he will become the 13th Bishop of Virginia, marking the continuity of our heritage in this our 400th year as the Church in Virginia. In June some 1,500 people will gather at Jamestowne Island to celebrate our heritage in a commemorative Eucharist under a ship’s sail, just as our church ancestors did in 1607. And this summer hundreds of young
people will spend time at Shrine Mont at our summer camps and hundreds more young people and adults will be commissioned and sent forth as missionaries of the Gospel to live out their baptismal covenant in service to others here and around the world. All of this at a time when there are those who seek to diminish the work that we do.

The disagreements within The Episcopal Church are ours to resolve. As reaffirmed at the recent House of Bishops meeting, the Episcopal Church is a self-governing, autonomous and undivided church that cannot accept intervention in the governance of our Church by foreign prelates.

The Church of Nigeria, like The Episcopal Church, is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion with clearly defined boundaries. Bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion hold that provincial boundaries are not crossed by bishops without expressed invitation. Bishop Akinola’s effort to establish the Church of Nigeria within the boundaries of The Episcopal Church through something called the Convocation of Anglicans of North America (CANA) has occurred without any invitation or authorization whatsoever and violates centuries of established Anglican heritage. As the Archbishop of Canterbury has made clear, CANA is not a branch of the Anglican Communion and does not have his encouragement. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori also has expressed her concerns over the visit by Bishop Akinola without invitation, a violation of a centuries old practice and decorum.

Our Diocese is committed to meet the needs of all Episcopalians, especially the congregations abandoned by their vestries and clergy. I ask you to continue to pray for them and for our Church, for the Anglican Communion, for the Primates, for those who suffer oppression, for the poor, the needy and for all who seek the redeeming love of Christ. We thank God for 400 years of the Church in Virginia and we remain committed to its faithful mission.


–(The Rt. Rev.) Peter James Lee is Bishop of Virginia

So, in other words:

1. "Impatient" agitation is good sometimes, but not so good other times. (The PB will let you know when.)

2. Centuries of established Anglican heritage, conversely, are not so good sometimes, but good other times. (Again, the PB will let you know when.)

3. Differences of opinion are welcome within TEC. But disagreement is hurtful and divisive. Don't like what we're doing? Get over yourselves and get back in line.

4. TEC belongs in the Anglican House, but we don't really owe it anything. And if we want to put our feet on the furniture, watch tee vee all night, use up all the hot water or get drunk and set fire to the cat, there's not a damn thing anybody else can do about it.

5. The core mission of CANA is to track down faithful Episcopalians in the street, beat them, steal their wallets and leave them lying in puddles of filth. Really!

6. Archbishop Akinola may mean well, but he's really NQOKD, if you know what we mean. Best stay away from him. (And, of course, Martyn Minns has got his kooties now. Just saying.)

7. False comfort is bad, m'kay? Oh, did I mention that we're having a 400th Anniversary ceremony? And that I'm going to have a successor? And that the kids are going to summer camp again this year? Yessiree, we're doing just fine. Smiles, everybody! Smiles!


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

On the Digg/IP Riot

Hot Air has the details.

Ironically, the HD/DVD code turned out to be:

No, I am Spartacus.
Posted by Steve-O at 02:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Afternoon low-brow humor

Following up on Robbo's high church commentary, I think I need to push us back down onto the low road. Remember the old compliment/insult whose punchline involves chrome and a trailer hitch? I think our old pal and erstwhile commentator The Fantabulous Chai-Rista has something to add to that debate.

Yips! from Robbo: You want lowbrow? I can do that, too! How about a Caption Contest:

(Image filched from Pravda.)

Posted by Steve-O at 01:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

That's My Church! - Robbo's Going To Hell, Division


Well, I just couldn't resist. Between the Colossus baiting me with Her High Priestessness's hissy fit about African Bishops invading the ECUSA's turf and the Irish Elk keeping me apprised of the latest "U2charist," I'm in a decidedly waspish mood in re things theological.

In this spirit, then, I give you a Palie-Left reworking of the Nicene Creed:

The "Nice"-ene Creed

Just to be clear, We don’t believe in one God, necessarily,
but in whatever you feel comfortable calling “God,”
empowerer of heaven and earth,
facilitator of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Buddy, Jesus Christ,
the only Offspring of “God,”
(But only in the sense that he was a really righteous dude. Not physically, obviously),
Nurturing from Nurturing, Sharing from Sharing,
true Sensitivity from true Sensitivity,
begotten from our Collective Love.
We’re talking some serious karma here, people.
Through her/him all things are interpreted. We mean, What Would Jesus Do?
For us and for our self-esteem
s/he came from inside us:
by the power of our collective respect for all others,
s/he became incarnate from Mary, a pioneer of her day,
was made womyn/man,
had a very meaningful relationship with Mary Magdalene (not that there’s anything wrong with that)
and was active in all the progressive social justice activities of her/his day.
As you can imagine, s/he ran into trouble with Pontius Pilate, that symbol of violent dead white European male patriarchal hegemony;
s/he suffered death and was buried.

And that was pretty much it.

Oh, but didn’t we all learn a lot from her/him, though?

We believe in the Holy Spirit, which, as we mentioned, arises from all of Us,
and therefore is Us,
who is sometimes portrayed in “God” and the Offspring,
the easier for us to visualize things.
With the “God” and the Offspring s/he is worshiped and glorified.
S/He has informed the Prophets.
We believe in one holy (small-c) catholic and apostolic Church, except when
it has issues with our progressiveness.
We acknowledge one baptism, but pretty much think the idea of “sin”
is arbitrary, judgmental and ultimately not very psychologically healthy.
We look for meaningful and occasionally “edgy” ways to honor the remains
of the dead,
and hope to reduce our carbon footprint on the world to come. Amen.

Punch line: I'm laying it on a bit thick, of course, but I'm not really making up any of the basic theology.

UPDATE: Sure, why the hell not? Extremely creepy former New Joisey Guv James McGreevey plans to join the Episcopal priesthood.

Posted by Robert at 01:35 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Let's Get Ready To Ruuuuumble!!!

Kewel. A team of scientists has come up with a new theory to explain the great New Madrid earthquake of 1811 and similar rocking n' rolling in the Mississippi River Valley:

The seismic zone today generates about 200 tiny quakes annually, but it also let loose a magnitude 4.1 quake in February 2005 and a magnitude 4.0 quake in June 2005. The U.S. Geological Survey says there is a 9-in-10 chance of a magnitude 6 or 7 temblor occurring in this area within the next 50 years.

These mid-continent temblors have long fascinated seismologists because of the mysterious origin of earthquakes that occur not at the edges but in the center of tectonic plates such as the North American Plate that underlies the continent.

One team of seismologists had thought that high density pillow lavas in the lower crust beneath the New Madrid region could have pulled the crust downward and thereby generated surface stresses that triggered the quakes.

Now, Allessandro Forte of the Université du Québec à Montréal and his colleagues have arrived at a more dramatic mechanism—an ancient, giant slab of Earth called the Farallon slab that started its descent under the West Coast 70 million years ago and now is causing mayhem and deep mantle flow 360 miles beneath the Mississippi Valley where it effectively pulls the crust down an entire kilometer (.62 miles).

"This remarkable localization of flow in the mantle below New Madrid, originating so deep below the surface, was completely unrecognized prior to our work," Forte told LiveScience.

Slabs like this that sink oceanic crust are called subduction zones, and those adjacent to Japan produce intense and damaging seismic activity.

"We have discovered an analogous subduction zone, deep inside the Earth below the central Mississippi River Valley," Forte said.

Forte and his colleagues at the University of Toronto and the University of Texas based their findings on high-resolution seismic tomography images that were used to predict the topography and viscous flow of the mantle under and around North America. They used the model to focus on the New Madrid seismic zone and propose that the descending slab and associated mantle flow directly below the New Madrid seismic zone strains the overlying crust, causing seismic ruptures.

The results were published in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

Still diving

The Farallon plate will continue to descend into the deep mantle and thus to cause mantle downwelling in the New Madrid region for a long time.

"[This] suggests that the seismic risk in the New Madrid region will not fade with time," Forte said.

The fault structure under the New Madrid region is a "failed rift" created by the opening of the ocean that later became the Atlantic Ocean 650 to 600 million years ago, Forte said.

That activity also caused rifts in the St. Lawrence, Saguenay and Ottawa river valleys in Canada, where there is similar mid-continental quaking, he said. Another set of faults far from the boundaries of the North American Plate are associated with the Keweenawan Rift, a 1240-mile-long rift in the area surrounding Lake Superior.

I love stories like this that take a peek into geological time. Indeed, I remember just before Tina Brown took over the New Yorker reading a multi-part series that started out considering some minor fault line near San Francisco and gradually spread in scope until one was envisioning the crumpling of the western third of the entire continent from the forces of plate tectonics. Gives one chills to think about it all.

Posted by Robert at 12:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Buck Blogging

After a two-week helping of really bad episodes in “Happy Birthday, Buck” and “A Blast For Buck”, the series returns to a favorite guest star with:

Ep. 1.17 “Ardala Returns” (1/24/80)

Twice before, the Draconians have acted on their designs to conquer the Earth. Both times, they were thwarted (almost single-handedly) by Buck Rogers. Despite these setbacks, their ruler Draco is determined to kick it up a notch.

The Draconian Hatchet Fighters, which the Terrans first come into contact with in the pilot, “Awakening”, have been modified to a new level of deadly accuracy. The problem is they’re so good that none of the Draconian pilots can control them and end up getting killed. Upset at his losses (the ships not the pilots), he orders his daughter Ardala (who’s had so much luck against Earth in the past) to capture their best pilot so that Kane can transfer his skills to robots (or Zygots) that can fly the ships instead.

"I'm thinking of a name the rhymes with 'luck'."

Any guesses as to who this pilot would be? Hmmm? Anybody?

Right. It seems that most pilots rely heavily on computers to pilot their ships. Buck, however, likes to go on instinct – something that requires a full understanding of his prior experiences.

Using a phony 20th-century like decoy ship, Buck and Twiki are captured by the Draconians and Kane uses something called a “nueral duplicator” to download all of Buck’s memories. When he wakens, Ardala explains their plan (something you probably shouldn’t do to the one person who has shown he can defeat you) and introduces him to the Zygots. These mechanical creations are designed to look exactly like Buck. Why? Well, Ardala has some additional plans for the Zygots. If she can’t have Buck, that she’s willing to settle for a copy.

To test how good these Zygots are they send one to Earth to impersonate Buck. While it looks and sounds just like him, the personality just isn’t there. It’s not long before this Zygot, standing in Dr. Huer’s office like a grinning idiot, raises suspicion. Dr. Theopolis senses some kind of timing device in the room and they figure out pretty quickly that the faux-Buck is about to explode. Luckily the get out of the room just in time.

Now that this pointless exercise was out of the way, it was time to implement the real plan: have the three remaining Zygots pilot their Hatchet Fighters and destroy the city of New Phoenix. Just what exactly is so strategic about New Phoenix is never really explained. It was probably a huge population center, which many Terrans flocked to because even though it's hot year round, it's just a “dry heat”. Well, unbeknownst to the residents, Ardala is planning on cranking up that heat.

Buck Zygots.jpg
"Let's see. Eeeny, Meany, Miney, Mo..."

Shortly after the Zygots are activated, Ardala decides to take them for a spin. Unfortunately she finds each of them fairly one-dimensional and lacking any real personality. One is always depressed, another is a pushover with no spark and the other just likes to crack jokes. The Princess is not happy.

While many fans of the show found this to be the weakest Ardala episode, a case can be made that she at last showed some vulnerability. There is one scene in particular where she expresses sadness (rather than anger) to Buck that he does not love her. “Do you really think me so ugly?” she asks him. Buck is quite tender with her at this point, explaining that he’s just not that into her (using much more diplomatic words, of course).

She sends Buck away and turns to her mirror. Putting on her tiara, she says “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and – doggone it – people like me.” Um, actually that was Al Franken. Sorry. But her resolve is now strengthened and she orders the Zygots to pummel New Phoenix.

But of course, Buck escapes in one of the Hatchet Fighters and pursues them. The Zygots are good. But there ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby. And our Capt. Rogers blows them out of the sky. Game over.

Fans would get to see Ardala one last time in the series finale but interestingly this would be the final appearance of Tiger Man. He’ll be replaced later on. We can only assume that he’s released into some Draconian wildlife refuge and put out to stud.

Episode Rating: Decent (Hey, anything with Pamela Hensley is decent).

Next up: Biddi-biddi-biddi…uh, oh. “Twiki Is Missing”.

The first post in this series can be found here.

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

Ooooh...Gimme A Big Ol' Slice O' That Cake!

Our dear pal Kathy the Cake-Eater returns to the top of her form by ripping George "Make The Bad Man Stop" Tenet a new one.

Go on over and enjoy!

Posted by Robert at 09:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observations - Nailing Up The Rat-Holes Division

Went and got my emissions/inspection delt with this morning and reregistered the ol' jeep online as soon as I got to work.

The more I ponder yesterday's police stop, the more I think the guy was actually doing me a favor - he was polite and nonconfrontational, clearly accepted my (truthful) explanation that I had forgot, joked that he stopped his own mother with six-month expired tags and said that the warning he was giving me should protect me in case anybody else stopped me in the next 24 hours.

Yes, definitely in "Good Cop" mode. I was just so annoyed with myself for forgetting that I suppose I projected a bit.

Posted by Robert at 08:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Now there's a Back to the Future-esque movie I'd like to see!

CIA honcho backstabber George Tenet and Porn King Ron Jeremy--High School classmates!

ron jeremy melissa theuriau katie couric love triangle.jpg

Forget The Falcon and the Snowman: the sooper time travelling spy high school flick coming soon to a multiplex near you:

The Weasel and the Hedgehog
Posted by Steve-O at 07:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"Kill the White People, but buy my record first"

When I saw this article about the "Prime Minister" of the Palestinian Authority calling on their god to kill all the Jews and the Americans, I thought of this Eddie Murphy gem:

Kill all the Americans, but only after they have paid their U.N. dues, right?

H/T to Insty.

Posted by Steve-O at 07:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 01, 2007


People often ask me, "Steve, what's it really like being the middle child?"

Now I'll just forward them to the definitive answer here.

Posted by Steve-O at 10:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ol' Fred! Mania just might have hit a serious pothole


No one has been more behind a Fred Thompson candidacy than me, but that might be about to change: if this is true, and Ol' Fred played a game of "Yeah, I'd hit that" with Margaret Carlson, then my long national nightmare of supporting Rudy or McCain has just begun.

After all, we are talking about the presidency of the United States of America, dammit!

draft fred thompson logo.jpg
Ol' Fred for President: Because even the homely punditettes deserve some Fred lovin'

UPDATE: The Colossus poses an interesting question in the comments section for you guys out there: which would you rather hit, Margaret Carlson, or a dead zombie hooker that's been in a car trunk for a week?

I think we know what the answer is to that one. (And the correct answer is NOT, "Well, would she call up Eleanor Clift for a threesome?")

Posted by Steve-O at 09:53 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Spring Outdoor Division

By popular demand, I finally got around to snapping a few pics in the garden.

First up are the Dicentra, aka "Bleeding Heart" now in the glory of their first full charge:


I planted these three or four years ago. Interestingly, for the first time, they seem to be propogating:


Oh, and while we're 'round front, I wanted to show you the climbing rose (an Improved Blaze):


No doubt you're saying, "Gee, Tom, what's the big deal?" Well, the big deal is that I transplanted this rose two years ago. As of this time last year, it was only about five feet tall and constantly deer-ravaged. Somehow, though, late last season it suddenly shot up and, as you can see, it is now thoroughly established well above deer-grazing level. (You can't see it from this pic, but it has lots of buds as well. I'll snap another when they open.) Give it another few years, and this fellah ought to be all over the wall.

What else? Oh, here are a couple of the azaleas:


Many of them have got overgrown in the past few years, with lots of internal branches dying off. I tried some rayther severe experimental pruning on one and managed to kill it with the shock, so I'm going to have to go easy on the others.

So let's go out back, shall we? Here are some flowers on the blueberries, promising lots of delightful grazing for Robbo & family this summer:


That is if I remember to get the netting up. We've got an unusually large number of crows, blue jays, cowbirds and other avian pests this year who, if left unchallenged, will strip the bushes.

Moving on to one of the few flowers in my garden the varmints don't get after, here is Peony Row. Note the poor roses in their cages behind. If left in the open, they'd be stripped to the bone by the deer:


I snapped this just before putting up the supporting stands, which I almost did too late as a result of this crazy spring we've been having. Here you can see the buds coming out on one (it is fairly typical of the lot):


Of course, I'll post pics as the blumes go into action.

Well, there you have it. Not much else to see yet, although I expect the columbine and iris will be getting busy soon. In the meantime, here's a little Robbo Fantasy pic:


Ain't gonna happen any time soon, but a guy can dream, right?

Posted by Robert at 08:16 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Fins Posting - WTF? Division


Well, I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one confused by Miami's 1st round draft pick:

Bottom line: The Dolphins had a chance to satisfy their priority and most pressing need with a first-round QB, and opted instead for an injured receiver.

You can spin that any way you wish. It's an extremely odd pick at best.

The necessary caveat of course is that none of us knows on draft day how good any player will be in a year or three. (Unfortunately, my deadline on this column was last night, not 2010).

You can say Quinn might be a bust, another Rick Mirer, as easily as you can say Ginn might disappoint too. It should go without saying there are no guarantees.

So you start by measuring need. And quarterback clearly was a bigger one.

And then you measure upside -- what might be.

Ginn could be another Santana Moss, a fast receiver who also returns kicks.

Quinn could be another Tom Brady.

Which of those possibilities would you prefer?

Which enticing maybe was the smarter gamble for Miami?

You know the answer today, even if the Dolphins didn't on Saturday.

Nobody is saying Quinn is The Next Dan Marino.

The thing, he might be.

The second-round selection of BYU quarterback John Beck only partly mitigates the error in bypassing the much greater prospect in Quinn.

At some point this franchise needs to stop relying on a continuing series of mediocre stopgaps like Jay Fiedler, Gus Frerotte and now, presumably, Trent Green.

At some point this franchise needs to roll dice in the draft on a franchise QB, on a long-term future at this most vital position.

Saturday was that chance.

It was fumbled.

It felt like a very big mistake, one Miami might regret for a long time.

Even assuming the guy gets healthy, what's the point of picking WR Ted Ginn Jr. if you haven't got anybody to throw the ball to him?

I used to think that I didn't get all the penumbras and emanations of Miami's strategic thinking because I didn't follow along closely enough. I'm now beginning to suspect that in reality it's because they're all insane.

Posted by Robert at 03:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Historickal Posting - Firearms Division

(Image lifted from

Reader AKL left a couple of interesting questions in response to a recent post on the French & Indian War that I thought worth reposting, given that I myself do not know the answers:

Perhaps a frontier era historian could address a question that arose in our familly last week.

Last weekend we took the kids and cousins to a Pioneer Days event supposedly more or less 1760's era. There were several very knowledgeable and accurate reenactors present fully outfitted as, I believe, Roger's Raiders. (Although not dressed, the cynic in me thinks, as a Raider would have looked AFTER a campaign.) Naturally the boys were fascinated by the weaponry, particularly the muzzle-loaders, and thus were fascinated by the re-enactors. The reenactors spent a good deal of time standing and resting their heads, hands, or other body parts on the mouth of the barrel. This occured to such an extent that finally a gun-toting grandmother asked that they be a little more observant of gun-safety wisdom if kids could see them. Their response was extensive.

One- they did not need to treat the gun as loaded because they knew it was not.

Two- a muzzle loader wasn't going to hurt them (one wonders then why Rogers Raider's carried them).

Three- resting on the barrel was historically accurate.

Is statement three accurate? On one hand are the various famous Western paintings of explorers/adventurers/pioneers standing and leaning on their guns- which admittedly are the right length to lean on. Without the paintings before us, none of us could remember if the subjects were leaning against the barrel or the mouth.

On the other hand it was postulated that the pioneers/explorers/adventurers thoroughly understood guns and would not do a damfool thing like lean on the mouth of the gun. It was suggested that even if paintings suggested the subject leaned on the gun mouth, the painter was a city slicker unfamiliar with guns.


As I say, I don't know the answer but I certainly have seen the same kinds of paintings and illustrations.

My general take would be a) that guns were ubiquitous on the frontiers, boys, for example, being expected to shoot squirrels and rabbits for the family supper from a very, very young age. Given this, I would not be the slightest bit surprised at the average colonial rifleman being comfortable enough with his weapon to know when he could or couldn't lean against the muzzle with relative impunity.

Related to this somewhat, I would also say that b) early America, particularly on the borders of the wilderness, was not exactly what one would call a "risk-averse" society. I'm sure accidents happened, but life was cheap back then. If our gun-totin' grandma were to appear and start fussing at a group of Rogers' Rangers about gun safety, I'm sure she would have been hooted into Lake Champlain.

UPDATE: In the "Why I Really Ought Not To Be Blogging" Category, talk of Rogers' Rangers prompted me to nip over to the Devil's Website and pick up this:


The Annotated and Illustrated Journals of Major Robert Rogers.

Of course, Rogers floats in and out of all the histories of the period I've read, but I don't have anything in the Orlge Manor Library devoted specifically to him. Why not start with the source material?

Yeah, so I'm blowing the Llama-ettes' college funds. But think of how full of useless trivia their old man will be. Heck, I could home-school 'em!

UPDATE DEUX: Speaking of colonial history, the Irish Elk notes that today is the "feast" day of St. Tammany. Who? Nip on over and find out.

UPDATE TROIS: While I was noodling around the devil's website, I also picked up this book:


White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery And Vengeneance in Colonial America, by Stephen Brumwell.

Because if Amazon says two books go well together, it must be the case...Right? Right?

Anyhoo, I'll let you know what I think of it.

Posted by Robert at 11:16 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May Day Dumbassery

Don't cry for me Venezuala: the truth is I got an F in economics.

President Hugo Chavez's government took over Venezuela's last remaining privately run oil fields Tuesday, intensifying a decisive struggle with Big Oil over one of the world's most lucrative deposits.

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez declared that the oil fields had reverted to state control just after midnight. Television footage showed workers in hard hats raising the flags of Venezuela and the national oil company at a refinery and four drilling fields in the oil-rich Orinoco River basin. Chavez planned a more elaborate celebration Tuesday afternoon with red-clad oil workers, soldiers and a fly over by Russian-made fighter jets.

I think part of what's driving Hugo's problems in Venezuela is that we've been basically ignoring him, kind of like the late-middle age obnoxious boomer who buys a house at the end of the street and while espousing all the right PC causes, gets extremely cranky when actual human children are standing on the edge of his lawn at the long-existing bus stop. Where's the heroism for a tin-pot lefty Che wannabe if the US won't threaten him militarily?

Posted by Steve-O at 10:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Al Qaeda Big Allegedly Snuffed Out Sunni Insurgents, no less.

The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq was killed on Tuesday in a fight between insurgents north of Baghdad, the Interior Ministry spokesman said, but U.S. military officials appeared to cast doubt on the report.

Raising further question marks about the purported killing of Abu Ayyub al-Masri, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Iraqiya state television:

"This does not represent an official government announcement but is only information that reached the Iraqi Interior Ministry about internal fighting between groups and within al Qaeda."

There has been growing friction between Sunni Islamist al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups over al Qaeda's indiscriminate killing of civilians and its imposition of an austere brand of Islam in the areas where it holds sway.


Not exactly "killed by his own troops" but, if true, this would make al-Masri pretty much the Douglas C. Neidermeyer of al Qaeda.

Two more senior leaders confirmed dead: Abu Omar "Greg Marmalarde" al-Baghdadi and Muharib Abdul "Chip Diller" Latif al-Jubouri.

Posted by Gary at 10:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Talk About Chewing The Scenery

Apparently, one of our long-lost Texas relatives has made the local news:

AMARILLO, Texas -- The importance of buckling up apparently wasn't part of a Panhandle llama's thinking.

He decided to make a meal of an oversized plastic foam seat belt intended for a photo shoot yesterday for an ad campaign at the famed Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo.

The llama chowed down on the four-by-four-foot belt yesterday at the home of Stanley Marsh 3. It was the eccentric heir to an oil and gas fortune who planted 10 Cadillacs nose down in a wheat field off Interstate 40 west of Amarillo in the mid-1970s.

A replacement for this year's Texas Department of Transportation's "Click It or Ticket" campaign was crafted and taken out to the famed display for a photo shoot a couple hours later.

Robert Nash is a spokesman for Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing, which handles the public service announcements for the department. He says the agency decided to take the sixth annual Texas seat belt campaign to iconic locations.

The series of announcements was scheduled to begin airing May 3.

Does one serve Shiner Bock or Lone Star with a giant foam seat belt?

Incidentally, what are the odds that "Stan Marsh 3" or his crack-pot forebearer is the source of the name for South Park's Stan Marsh?

Yips! to Il Capitano, who left the link in the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack.

Posted by Robert at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fred Thompson Isn't Losing Sleep Over U.S. "Unpopularity"

Ol' Fred tells it like it is: Don't sweat the small stuff. And whiny hypocritical Euro-weenies are all "small stuff".

"I wouldn’t worry too much about the criticisms we receive. We make mistakes and at times the “carping” may even be on target, but it seems to me that we ought to look at a lot of the complaints as a badge of honor."
Give me this kind of plain-spoken common sense over John Kerry's tortured hand-wringing about passing some "global test" any day.

draft fred thompson logo.jpg
Ol' Fred for President: Because bruised national egos are for pussies.

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

Random Commuter Observation

So after literally knocking myself out this weekend trying to work too hard and play too hard, I completely forgot that the registration on the jeep expired yesterday.

This morning, I was duly jumped by Fairfax's Finest, thinking, I suppose, that when people are allowed to drive the highways and byways of Our Fair County with one-day expired tags, the terrorists will have won!

The cop let me off with a warning, but that begs the question: Was he a good guy for so doing or was he a jerk for having stopped me in the first place?


Posted by Robert at 09:14 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Caption This

sumo eaters.jpg

My contribution:
"Tastes Great!"
"Less Filling!"

Yips! from Robbo: "Wait...I didn't order sauce on mine..."

Posted by Gary at 09:05 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Negative campaigning is so wrong

Except when it's done by the right people for the right cause, of course:

Ségolène Royal intensified a desperate final effort yesterday to tar Nicolas Sarkozy, her presidential opponent, as a dangerous tyrant whose election would threaten the peace of France.

Ms Royal, the left-wing candidate who is about four points behind the conservative Mr Sarkozy in polls, denounced her opponent for the “great violence” and “brutality” of a campaign that she maintained was frightening away voters.

She will use a critical television debate with her opponent tomorrow to contrast her “France at peace with itself” with Mr Sarkozy’s “France of the hard Right”.

Ms Royal’s line of attack, five days before the country goes to the polls, was amplified yesterday by aides and supporters. In the latest torrent of anti-Sarko vitriol, 100 stars of the arts and sciences declared that “Sarkozy embodies a hard radicalised Right . . . with all its fears and hates. Entrusting the presidency to a demagogue like this means real danger.”

For the Left, vilifying Mr Sarkozy offers a last hope of breaking his march to the Elysée Palace on Sunday. Ms Royal’s aim is to stir anti-Sarkozy fears among those who voted for the centrist candidate, François Bayrou, who was eliminated with 18 per cent of the vote on April 22.

After attacking Mr Bayrou as a stealth Sarkozyite in the first phase of the campaign, Ms Royal has reversed course over the past week and waged a charm offensive towards him and his voters. In another gesture yesterday, she suggested that, if elected, she would appoint as prime minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a Socialist rival who is popular with the pro-Bayrou centre.

Fomenting the TSS factor (Tout sauf Sarkozy — anyone but Sarkozy) became inevitable when he emerged from the first-round vote with much greater credibility than Ms Royal but little popularity.

A CSA poll on Sunday found that 65 per cent of French people think Mr Sarkozy “solid” compared with only 24 per cent for the Socialist. Yet only 29 per cent find him likeable, compared with a 57 per cent rating for Ms Royal.

The Socialists set out to demonise Mr Sarkozy months ago, according to Eric Besson, a senior campaign official who defected after falling out with Ms Royal. “Since we had a weak candidate, it was the best path to take,” he said.

As a tough Interior Minister until last month, the ambitious Mr Sarkozy earned the dislike of many young people — especially those from the immigrant ghettos. His doctrines of radical economic reform and individual responsibility — never before aired by a senior French politician — have been welcomed by many as a revolution, but cast by opponents as divisive, cruel and unFrench.

Pro-Royal campaigners have called him a “French Berlusconi”, a new Bonaparte and a “French George W. Bush”.

I love that "French George W. Bush" part--it's nice to know that adding the adjective "French" to describe your political opponents is an insult there as well as here.

And how exactly would you say "Swiftboating Sarkozy" en Francais?

Would it be Bateau rapide Sarkozy?

Posted by Steve-O at 07:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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