June 29, 2007
Somethings a man's just gotta do
Yeah, sue me.
Here's the original: it's interesting how movie trailers have evolved over the past twenty years in terms of quick cutting and use of music:
I posted this awhile back, but it's good for another rip:
Confessions of a Neo-Luddite
I don't get it. I mean, what's the big deal?
"UMMM, DUDE?" YIPS from Steve-O: Let me explain in a way you could understand:
Now he's done it
Mr. Chavez, I would highly advise to the contrary:
President Hugo Chávez yesterday hinted that Venezuela could try to become a nuclear power, during a visit to Russia apparently timed to antagonise the White House. Mr Chávez defended Iran's right to pursue a nuclear programme and said it might be a good idea if Venezuela eventually did the same thing. Speaking before an audience of communists and other elements hostile to America, Mr Chávez said: "Iran has a right to have a peaceful atomic energy industry, as it is a sovereign country.
The latest on the thwarted London car bombing
Yips! to the Ministry of Minor Perfidy.
UPDATE: Quick trivia question - what was the name of that movie from the 60's in which a bunch of kids fill the halls of Congress with pot fumes, causing them all to get stoned and do something like lower the legal voting age to around 14, whereupon the country immediately elects a punk kid as President?
Your Friday Afternoon Brain Core Dump Begins Right Here
No other explanation necessary, I think......
More Than 50% Say "No Way" To Hillary
Mason-Dixon poll of 625 likely general election voters saying 52% wouldn't consider voting for Nurse Ratched.
Yes, it's early for polls and yes, polls can be misleading. But the story here is not that half of the respondents can say for sure they would not vote for her. The story is that this isn't the first time the "no way" response was in the 50% neighborhood. I can recall at least two other polls in the last six to nine months that put the number around the same amount (if not just under 50%). 60% of independents (the folks who'll decide the election) have a negative view of her.
This means that the feeling is consistent over time and she has very little margin of error. Statistically, if more than 50% of likely voters are unlikely to vote for you then you're unlikely to win the general election. Hillary's problem is that she is such a known quantity.
And what voters know, they don't care for. She's shrill, pedantic, unlikable and frankly I think most people are sick to death of her. Any attempt to mitigate these qualities comes across as disingenuous. And she seems like a lock for that nomination.
Just think of all the potential for fun. We could watch Al Gore’s black preacher persona (“the truth shall rise again!”) battle it out with Hillary’s fake southern accent and her talk about the House of Representatives being run like a plantation.Dude, this looks like it could get ugly.
It would also be amusing to see Clinton and Gore battle over the anti-war left vote. Quick -- who said this in September of 2002? “We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country" and "Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power" If you answered Hillary Clinton, you would be wrong. Those were Al Gore quotes. Don’t plan on Clinton using them against Gore in an effort to woo the anti-war left though.
I know, that's just wrong.
Reason #454,312 Why I'm Such A Lucky Dog
The Missus and Mrs. LMC are hosting a baby-shower for a friend of theirs at Orgle Manor tomorrow. I had been having vague yet ominous forebodings that I would somehow get sucked into helping out with this hen-fest, perhaps even being tagged with basement babysitting duty.
Well, such is not the case. Off her own bat and without any whining from me, the Missus arranged for me instead to go play a round of golf with some of the other hubbies while the ladies were busy cooing over baby presents and gossiping.
I'm not worthy!
UPDATE: Oh, and speaking of lucky dogs, the LMC's Future ROTC Scholarship Recipient gets to spend tonight and tomorrow with the Llama-ettes, all of whom adore him. Not too shabby!
Gratuitous Literary Posting - Brush With MSM Division
Yesterday evening on the way to the metro, I got stopped by a couple of young ladies with a tape-recorder. They claimed to be doing a story for NPR about the danger to used book stores posed by the growth of on-line vendors such as The Devil's Website and wanted to know my experience and opinion.
Well, it was very hot and I was very tired, so I don't know whether I said anything particularly illuminating beyond noting that I liked both book stores and Amazon. But since I've now chewed on the question and since blogging gives one a kind of virtual do-over opportunity, I thought I'd expand on the topic a bit here.
The fact of the matter is that, at least in my experience, Amazon does not pose a threat to used book stores. The reason for this is that I look to these two outlets for two very different reasons. First off, I never buy used books from Amazon, only new ones. Perhaps it's just a personal twitch, but I'm extremely reluctant to purchase a used book I haven't eyeballed myself first, relying instead on somebody else's assurances as to its quality. The Missus, on the other hand, does buy used books from Amazon. However, she only does so when she's looking for specific titles, usually something associated with her teaching. The point is that neither of us simply browses around on Amazon for used books.
That's where the used book stores come in. You don't go to a UBS with a specific title in mind, you go with a general open-ended expectation, a willingness to just wander about and see what's available. The pleasure of the UBS is in the browsing, the poking around, the stumbling across books you've never heard of before or the unexpected discovery of old favorites you thought were long gone. To me, at any rate, that pleasure cannot (yet) be recreated in on-line shopping because typing in random keywords doesn't have the same fluidity of possibilities as wandering up and down random aisles.
The young ladies also mentioned the "atmosphere" of used book stores, although that - frankly - has less appeal to me. Most of the UBS's I haunt (in Fredericksburg and Charlottesville) tend to be housed in creaky old wooden buildings that smell permanently of must and mold. They're generally staffed either by artsy youths who insist on playing awful retro 60's and 70's music and chatting with their friends about their ennui while they're ringing you up, or else by aging hippies whose body language suggests that they disapprove of that volume of Gen. Sherman's Civil War letters you're buying and believe you'd be better off with some nice Herman Hesse or perhaps a picture book of the world's teas. I don't really mind any of this, but it's not why I go to these stores.
So for me, no real conflict. I buy new books quite often from Amazon (and have no trouble whatever sticking it to the brick and mortar mega-chains like Borders or Books-A-Million). I don't typically visit used book stores any more than four or five times a year, but each time come away with anything between ten and twenty books under my arm.
Whether this is typical of other people, I have no idea.
Immigration Bill Post Mortem
...or "how the last few weeks have changed the political landscape for 2008 and beyond".
Winners and losers, as explained by Dean Barnett. Here's a couple of pull quotes:
Winner: You "I don’t think a single Senator changed his mind on the underlying merits of the bill. Those that changed their votes did so because they heard from their constituents. So what’s the takeaway? Your voice counts. In a democracy, that’s a very fine thing."Read the entire post here.
Loser: The Bush Administration "The top priority right now for the administration should be the war. And yet the president spent what little political capital he had trying to shove this atrocious immigration bill down the country’s throat...
...If the base demands victory in Iraq as loudly as it demanded defeat for this immigration bill, the Republicans in congress will once again listen."
Loser: The Democratic Party "Securing the border is something that 90% of the country feels should be done immediately and permanently...
...the Democrats have given us the greatest gift of all – an issue that moves the country much more than members of the political class realize and on which the Democrats find themselves on the wrong side."
Loser: John McCain "Yes, he’s right on the war, but a lot of senators are right on the war. But McCain has been so wrong and so destructive on so many other issues, his relationship with the base is fractured beyond repair. Perhaps the Senator can take some solace in the fact that he never had a chance in the presidential race anyway. Even before McCain/Kennedy thudded into the Senate with McCain demanding its passage in 48 hours, the Republican Party had his number."
June 28, 2007
Just in time for 4th of July BBQ season
Leave it to the left: their scandals are always more amusing
And the American left has nothing on the Brits.
Jack Abramoff and E. Howard Hunt can't touch this:
A STUNNING American porn star was flown by cops to Britain yesterday to be quizzed in the cash for honours probe. Californian actress Courtney Coventry, 25, was grilled over her links to Labour’s chief fundraiser Lord Levy.
The blonde was asked about VIP treatment he offered her when she expressed interest in making a donation to the party.
Lord Levy introduced Courtney to Tony Blair and Labour’s high command at a swanky fundraising bash.
She and British-born husband John Coventry, 46, were invited to the glittering ball at the Hilton Hotel in London’s Park Lane in April 2004 after they pretended to be willing to make a big cash donation.
The pair called themselves the Count and Countess of Rozel to fool party fundraisers into believing they were serious donors.
They were invited for tea at No10 the next day and taken on a tour of the House of Commons and House of Lords where Lord Levy — dubbed Lord Cashpoint — wooed them.
Courtney flew to Heathrow yesterday morning from Nice to meet cops investigating allegations peerages were awarded for £14million in cash loans used to fund Labour’s 2005 general election campaign.She was met from her British Airways flight at the arrivals lounge in Terminal 1 and whisked away in an unmarked car.
Jetting in ... blonde at Heathrow
Courtney, wearing a calf- length emerald green dress with plunging neckline, covered her face when The Sun asked her what help she could be to the police.
Her reply was: “No comment”. She was hustled away clutching her Louis Vuitton handbag by a plain clothes woman officer with two uniformed cops in tow.
The actress was driven to the Hilton Hotel in Green Park, around the corner from the chain’s flagship Park Lane Hotel — where she was photographed with Mr Blair three years ago at the gala for rich donors.
For the sake of getting the story straight and to provide the serious journalistic context we as cyber journalists provide to you our readers, we now post this picture of former porn star Courtney Coventry:
Well, that's it for me today: coming later, some indepth blogging on Bill Clinton and Tony Blair and their legacies, the imagery of dancing goats in Homeric literature, and something silly about from Fark about new laws banning jello wrestling.
Santa is Red: NEO-SOVIET IMPERIALSTIC LAND GRAB TO ENCOMPASS ELVEN-VILLAGE, HERDS OF FLYING REINDEER
First, it was the Canadian and Danish "navies" almost coming to blows off the island they both claim (Hans Island---rumoured to be in fact the Island of Misfit Toys). Now craz-ee Vlad's getting into the act.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has made an astonishing bid to grab a vast chunk of the Arctic, giving himself claim to its vast potential oil, gas and mineral wealth.
His audacious argument that an underwater Russian ridge is linked to the North Pole is likely to lead to an international outcry.
Some commentators have already observed it is further evidence of growing Russian assertiveness under its authoritarian president.
The Russian media trumpeted the findings of a Moscow scientific mission to the region which boasts "sensational" geological discoveries enabling the Kremlin to make the territorial claim.
Populist newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda - a cheerleader for Putin - printed a map of the North Pole showing a "new addition" to Russia, a triangle five times the size of Britain with twice as much oil as Saudi Arabia.
The six-week mission on a nuclear ice-breaker claimed that the underwater Lomonsov ridge is geologically linked to the Siberian continental platform - and similar in structure.
The detailed findings are likely to be put to the United Nations in a bid to bring it under the Kremlin noose, and provide the bonanza of an estimated 10 billion tonnes of gas and oil deposits as well as significant sources of diamonds, gold, tin, manganese, nickel, lead and platinum.
Under current international law, the countries ringing the Arctic - Russia, Canada, the US, Norway, Denmark (Greenland) - are limited to a 200 mile economic zone around their coastlines.
Currently, a UN convention stipulates that none of these countries can claim jurisdiction of the Arctic seabed because the geological structure does not match that of the surrounding continental shelves.
The region is administered by the International Seabed Authority - the authority now being challenged by Moscow.
A previous attempt to claim the oil and gas resources beyond its 200 miles zone five years ago was rejected - but this time Moscow intends to make a far more serious submission to the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
The head of the government-funded expedition Valery Kaminsky, director of the All-Russian Oceanic Scientific Research Institute, said he has key photographic evidence to prove the geological claims. "These are very interesting facts for the world community," he said.
Yuri Deryabin, head of the Institute of North European Countries, said: "I estimate Russia's chances to gets its piece of the Arctic pie highly enough - but the main battle is just starting." He acknowledged the negotiations would be "complicated".
The claim is likely to provoke an outcry from green groups but there is also Russian opposition.
Sergei Priamikov, of Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, said the notion was "strange" and warned other countries could make counter claims.
Canada "could say that the Lomonosov ridge is part of the Canadian shelf, which means Russia should in fact belong to Canada, together with the whole of Eurasia", he observed drily.
A diplomatic source said that Russia was "seeking to secure its grip on oil and gas supplies for decades to come. Putin wants a strong Russia, and Western dependence for oil and gas supplies is a key part of his strategy. He no longer cares if his strategy upsets the West".
Just wait to Herbie the Elf is forced to put down his dentistry tools, and, together with Yukon Cornelius, go all mooj on the neo-Soviet occupiers. IED's hidden in tastefully wrapped packages should be pretty easy to spot, though.
Blow Winds! And Crrrrrack Thy Cheeks!
Yikes! I may never go outside again! From Wunderground.com (the premier weather-junkie website):
Severe thunderstorms... are possible this afternoon and evening across eastern West Virginia... northern and north central Virginia... central and western Maryland... and the District of Columbia. Residents across the region should monitor this situation very closely and ensure your NOAA weather radios are set to alert Mode. Severe weather warnings may become necessary this afternoon and this evening. Here are some safety rules to keep in mind when severe weather is expected or is occurring.
Before severe weather strikes... ensure that you and your family
are fully prepared. In a home or building have a pre-designated
shelter... such as a basement or an interior room or hallway.
Have on hand a disaster supply kit... including a NOAA Weather
Radio... flashlight... radio and a good supply of batteries.
If a severe thunderstorm or Tornado Warning is issued... seek shelter
indoors immediately. A severe thunderstorm is defined as producing
penny size or greater hail and wind gusts of 58 mph or more.
Tornadoes often form very rapidly from severe thunderstorms. If
you are in a Tornado Watch... and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is
issued for your area... monitor local conditions closely and be
ready to take quick action to save your life.
Remember that lightning is a thunderstorms most underrated killer.
Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent. This
is the best way to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.
Automobiles offer good protection from lightning... although moving
indoors is best. Even inside... lighting can kill by coming through
the phone lines... plumbing and electric lines. Therefore do not
use computers... telephones or other hand held appliances during a
Since we've long held the crown for Alexandra Steele bimbo google-hits, I'll simply note that this statement is downright WeatherChannelesque in its alarmist rhetoric. Has anybody ever done a horror movie about super-mutant genius killer lightning that gradually learns how to work its way into even the seemingly safest places? I'm thinking of a pairing of Samuel L. Jackson and Helen Hunt as the plucky meteorologists sent to try and stop it. (Jackson: "There are too many mutha-effin volts in its bolt!" Hunt: "Cow!")
"Dude! We like so forgot to include the racial angle last time! Good call!"
BTW, I learned recently (in fact yesterday) that the old your-car-is-a-safe-place-in-a-lighting-storm meme actually does not apply to ragtops like, er, mine. It would seem I have been misleading myself and my family for some time now.....
Immigration Bill: R.I.P.
Vote for cloture defeated, effectively killing the bill.
Regardless of your position on this legislation, the shenanigans over the last couple of weeks in Congress have shown what a clusterf#%@ that institution is. God save the Republic as we approach its 231st birthday.
AllahPundit has posted a video of a toy robot celebrating in a rather...unconventional way (scroll down towards the end).
Which It's A Gratuitous Literary Confession, Ain't It?
I am currently rereading Patrick O'Brian's Master & Commander, the first of the Aubrey/Maturin novels. I haven't kept close track, but this must be the seventh or eighth time now.
On the one hand, given the limited amount of time at my disposal for pleasure reading, I feel vaguely guilty that I should be returning to such a well-known book instead of branching out to something new and different. On the other hand, a well-written novel is like a well-written symphony - something new reveals itself each time. Furthermore, one should no more refuse to reread a book because one already knows the plot than refuse to listen to a symphony again because one already knows the melodies: the joy is in taking in the words or notes themselves, not in arriving at the conclusion.
Por ejemplo, I found myself chuckling anew over this delightful paragraph in which Jack Aubrey, never a scholar in his own youth, is scolding his young midshipmen about keeping up with their studies at sea:
"You can write decently, I suppose? Otherwise you must go to school to the clerk." They hoped so, sir, they were sure; they should do their best. But he did not seem convinced and desired them to sit down on that locker, take those pens and these sheets of paper, to pass him yonder book, which would answer admirably for them to be read to out of from.
O'Brian's dancing from the first person to the third person voice and then back again to a kind of middle ground is masterful enough, but I just love how he lets the end of the paragraph get away from him in gentle mockery of Jack's rather hypocritical fussing. It's a grace note, a throw away, but charming nonetheless. And the book (indeed, most of the series) is crammed with such gems (not all of them humorous, of course, but rayther covering the whole gammut of emotions). Why on earth would someone not want to come back repeatedly to mine for them?
If I decide to press on and reread the entire cycle, however, I'm going to have to be careful about pacing. The last two or three times through, I tried to read too much, too fast and got burned out. This time, I think I'll be rigid about reading two or three other books in between each Aubrey/Maturin story so that this doesn't happen again.
CUE THE FREAKY MUSIC YIPS from Steve-O: That's spooky....on a whim last night I pulled down Master and Commander and started reading the durn thing again too.
I've been meaning to do more library blogging as of late; heck, I've been meaning to do a lot more blogging on a wide number of things lately but, first rule of light blogging club being what it is, I'll have to keep my trap shut.
Some recent high and low lights:
The Second Horseman, by Kyle Mills was a great pool side waiting for the kids to get done with swim practice read. Total time committment: two days of practices. Highlights: if this were a Hollywood pitch meeting for the movie (and if there's any justice given the crap being pumped out of Hollywood these days there should be one, here), the pitch would be something like this: the fast paced national security ticking bomb thriller tension of 24, but with the central role being played by a world class jewel thief who is a jewel thief version of Ari Gold, from Entourage. Just your standard story featuring an ex-CIA Bill Buchanan type who has to bust the Jeremy Piven-played jewel thief (who, of course, he had framed to be sent up in the first place) out of prison, so they can hijack a tractor-trailer load of cash sent daily from Vegas to the Federal Reserve bank in San Francisco so they can use the money to buy some Soviet nukes off the black market to take them out of circulation. Jailarity ensues, as they say. Three orgles out of four.
Harry Potter and the Ginormous Mound of Marketing Tie-ins, by J.K. Rowling. I re-read Harry Potter 2 and 6 in anticipation of The Deathly Hallows coming out next month. I almost wish there was a way that we could slip these books to Robbo---maybe a Confundus charm, or something---without Robbo knowing what they are from all the marketing hype over the years. Truth be told, I think Robbo would really like them a lot.
I'm not sure how well they will hold up over time, though, once the plot of The Deathly Hallows emerges. Will the popularity of these books fade over time, once first time readers to the series know the ultimate resolution, in much the same way that the original Star Wars movies now kind of suck in light of knowing the full story? Or, will they become like C.S. Lewis' Narnia series which only go richer each time you read them, knowing the beautiful, sad, tragic yet deeply resounding conclusion?
The bone I have to pick with J.K. Rowling--or maybe it's intentional, and therefore something to credit her with--is the complete absence of the humanities from the course of education at her magical school. The wizarding world as she presents it is completely bereft of art and music of their own creation which is not derivative of the creations of the non-magical world. In many respects the wizarding world---or, at the very least, wizard Britain---is a world which never really left the medieval: they never went through the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the revolutions of capitalism, industrialism, and Darwinism. Now, I can see how a number of our readers would probably say a combination of the last three aint bad (and certainly the Shire of Tolkein was Rousseauian presentation of Britain minus the last three), how many of us would want to live in a world without the humanism and individualism and rationalism and science that were the crowning achievements of the first two? Not me, for one.
The first book---and I have a gut hunch the last book---pivots on the character never actually met by the reader of Nicolas Flamel, a historical figure with a long history of being used by authors as a representative of the obsession with alchemy. To me, the series rises and falls with the fate of another obsessed alchemist born several centuries after Flamel lived: Isaac Newton. Newton turned away from alchemy in the end and embraced science and the scientific method, and with it the principles of rationalism and free inquiry. Rowling's wizards remain profoundly uncurious about the nature of their world, and the small few who inquire are kept hidden away within the Department of Mysteries, their work kept secret. The Wizards, from the fragments that Rowling provide, turned within themselves in Europe at least at exactly the time the Europeans reached out to understand the world, the universe, and the place of human beings within it.
Whether intentionally or not, Rowling has shown us a world within a world free from imperialism, nationalism, capitalism, religion and industrialism---yet it is a society racked profoundly with racism and slavery, governed oppressively without any pretense of due process, the rule of law, equality, or democracy, and in a world without great art, sculpture, literature, poetry, dance, or music of its own.
They have Dumbledore. We have DaVinci, Newton, Smith, Darwin, Einstein, Watson, Dickens, and Neil Armstrong.
Wonkette Digs Up Dog Dirt On Romney
OK, all you dog-lovers out there should avert your eyes.
The incident: dog excrement found on the roof and windows of the Romney station wagon. How it got there: Romney strapped a dog carrier — with the family dog Seamus, an Irish Setter, in it — to the roof of the family station wagon for a twelve hour drive from Boston to Ontario, which the family apparently completed, despite Seamus's rather visceral protest.Now, don't get me wrong. This was a bone-head move on Romney's part. But you have to admit, presented in a certain way this story is kind of amusing. In fact, you want irony? The incident took place in 1983, the very year that audiences saw this scene from National Lampoon's "Vacation":
Massachusetts's animal cruelty laws specifically prohibit anyone from carrying an animal "in or upon a vehicle, or otherwise, in an unnecessarily cruel or inhuman manner or in a way and manner which might endanger the animal carried thereon." An officer for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals responded to a description of the situation saying "it's definitely something I'd want to check out." The officer, Nadia Branca, declined to give a definitive opinion on whether Romney broke the law but did note that it's against state law to have a dog in an open bed of a pick-up truck, and "if the dog was being carried in a way that endangers it, that would be illegal." And while it appears that the statute of limitations has probably passed, Stacey Wolf, attorney and legislative director for the ASPCA, said "even if it turns out to not be against the law at the time, in the district, we'd hope that people would use common sense...Any manner of transporting a dog that places the animal in serious danger is something that we'd think is inappropriate...I can't speak to the accuracy of the case, but it raises concerns about the judgment used in this particular situation."
Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was less circumspect. PETA does not have a position on Romney's candidacy per se, but Newkirk called the incident "a lesson in cruelty that was ... wrong for [his children] to witness...Thinking of the wind, the weather, the speed, the vulnerability, the isolation on the roof, it is commonsense that any dog who's under extreme stress might show that stress by losing control of his bowels: that alone should have been sufficient indication that the dog was, basically, being tortured." Romney, of course, has expressed support for the use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques when it comes to terrorists; his campaign did not return repeated calls and emails about the treatment of his dog.
Admit it. The first time you saw that you thought it was funny.
Of course, it was circa 1983 back when Chevy Chase was actually funny.
Yips! from Robbo! I'm thinking a new campaign theme here:
VOTE FOR ROMNEY OR WE'LL SHOOT THIS DOG!
Random Commuter Observations
One of the regulars at my metro stop in the morning is a guy who power-walks his way to the station. You know the sort of thing - one foot touching the ground at all times while he flails his arms and gyrates his body in order to get maximum propulsion. (Just as an aside, I think this is one of the silliest and aesthetically most grotesque forms of exercise ever devised by Man.) Once he gets down on to the platform, he occupies himself while waiting for the train with a series of leg swings and other exercises. The guy's about six foot five, with long, gangly arms and legs, so he takes up an awful lot of room.
As you can imagine, on a boiling hot and humid morning like today, the guy is in a pretty damned disgusting state by the time the train appears, and he usually does very little, if anything, to clean himself up. I am always careful to stay far away from him, but this is rush hour, after all, and somebody eventually winds up having to stand near him. Sometimes very near, indeed.
I feel very sorry for those poor people.
Bias? What bias?
The funny/sad thing about this is that it seems pretty much on the square until the thirteenth paragraph, which then proceeds in one short line to destroy the whole thing's credibility.
Objectivity for me, but not for thee, I guess.
June 27, 2007
A Reasonably Presented Pro-life Position
This was written by part-time Hugh Hewitt.com contributor Dean Barnett and published in the Boston Globe last month. When I read it I felt it hit as close to my own personal feelings on the issue better than anything else I've ever read and wanted to share it. But I never got around to it. So I'm doing it now before I lose the link.
Rather than reproduce it, I'll refer it for those interested. Since this is such a polarizing issue, I would normally stay far away and stick to posting Monty Python YouTube videos. But it's particularly well written and I would encourage those on either side of the debate to ponder it.
That is all.
Gratuitous Historickal Posting - Too Much Time On Their Hands Division
It's the Battle of Bunker Hill done in Legos:
Yips! to Sheila.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Observation
Well evidently it has been a while.
Until last evening, not only had I utterly forgotten that Shirley Temple was in the great John Wayne/John Ford western Fort Apache, I'd also completely forgotten what a cupcake she'd developed into.
I mean, the dimpled fubsy child-star stuff makes me ill, but this? Yowza.
Gratuitous Civil War Posting
Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864, in which Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, on his drive for Atlanta, tried to dislodge Confederate Gen. Joe Johnston's firmly dug in army by means of a brutal frontal attack. The attack ended with the Rebs still firmly in place and a casualty rate of about three to one for the Federals. Nonetheless, a few days later, fearing he would be outflanked, Gen. Johnston fell back ever closer to Atlanta.
I mark this battle primarily because my own great-great-grandfather took part in it, serving as a sergeant in the 10th Ohio Independent Battery (he was later promoted to 2nd Lieutenant). The gels unearthed a family history the other day that contained copies of his enlistment and discharge papers, together with a letter from December, 1864 requesting leave to visit his sick father. Very interesting stuff. (Say, Vic, do you think I should sign up with these guys?)
Happy Birthday, Captain Kangaroo!
Bob Keeshan was born this day in 1927. He and his cohorts were a staple of my childhood.
Thanks to the majic of these yere innertubes, we can take a nostalgic peek at my favorite, Mr. Moose, in action. You forget what a testy relationship the Cap'n had with him at times. In many ways, their interaction reflects that between my five year old and me. Enjoy!
Here's a shorter and sweeter ping-pong ball moment:
Yips! from Gary:
Let's not forget another big birthday today - country singer Lorrie Morgan.
Ms. Morgan, a former girlfriend of Ol' Fred, recently gave her thumbs up for his Presidential bid:
"I always thought it," she said. "I used to beg him to run for president. I used to say, 'If you were in the White House, I would be so safe-feeling. I could go to sleep at night and know that everything was taken care of up there.'"
Ol' Fred for President: Because every woman deserves to feel safe while she drifts off to sleep.
Gratuitous Politickal Posting: Silly Poll Division
Yes, I know. It's the NY Times. But they really take the cake for this headline: "New Poll Finds Young Americans Are Leaning Left".
Oh, and guess what? Water is wet.
I mean, Duuuuuuhhhhh. Really? Historically speaking, the fact that voters under 30 lean Left is pretty much a given. Why? You're talking about a demographic that is either currently in or not far removed from a state of total dependency on their parents. Many of them have very little sense of responsibility or long-term consequences. And if you're looking for an age bracket where the concept "if it feels good, do it" is most appealing this is pretty much it. So an ideology that advocates dependency on government, has an inherent disregard for personal responsibility and long-term consequences and preaches attitudes like "if it feels good, do it" is pretty much a natural fit.
In other words, this is not news.
All that being said, I found some real gems in this piece. For example:
[The poll] found that substantially more Americans ages 17 to 29 than four years ago are paying attention to the presidential race. But they appeared to be really familiar with only two of the candidates, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both Democrats.In this 21st century world of the 24/7 news cycle, being only familiar with Obama and Clinton means that whatever attention they are paying can't be very much. They grew up with Nurse Ratched in the White House and the past six years has been a constant whirl of speculation - "Will she or won't she?". Obama is the new "it" candidate with pictures of him shirtless on the beach showing up on magazine covers and a video of a buxom "Obama Girl" recently going viral.
Of course, the rationale for this is presented much further down in the article:
That a significant number of respondents said they were enthusiastic about just two of the candidates — Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton — to a certain extent reflects that both candidates have been the subject of a huge amount of national attention and have presented the country with historic candidacies. Mr. Obama would be the first black president and Mrs. Clinton the first woman.This is a good one:
[Young voters] have continued a long-term drift away from the Republican Party.Yeah, right. They've been such a staple group for the GOP. That's why they voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry two years ago (while comprising only 17% of the total voting population).
Here's an unexpected finding, though, that should annoy the moonbats (check out the twist at the end):
But when it came to the war, young Americans were more optimistic about the outcome than was the population as whole. Fifty-one percent said the United States was very or somewhat likely to succeed in Iraq, compared with 45 percent among all adults. Contrary to conventional wisdom, younger Americans have historically been more likely than the population as a whole to be supportive of what a president is doing in a time of war, as they were in Korea and Vietnam, polls have shown.Forty years out from the original "summer of love", the aging ex-hippies at the NY Times must be having long-term memory problems. Because I don't recall hearing about all that staunch support for Lyndon Johnson by the yoots of that era over the war in Vietnam. Maybe it's my imagination but I seem to remember reading about young voters "cheering" on their President with such colorful ditties as "One, Two, Three, Four. We don't want your f*#ing war!" and "Hey, Hey, LBJ. How many kids did you kill today?"
Now you'd think that this poll must be pointing to some kind of trend considering how the article is written. Nah, not really. Way down towards the end, the writers kind of kick the legs out from under that theory:
Over the last half century, the youth vote has more often than not gone with the Democratic candidate for president, though with some notable exceptions.So again, what's the story? Really, there is none. The most important aspect of the article is the headline, which is intended to be a statement briefly glanced at to reinforce the idea that 2008 should be a big year for Democrats.
The other question it's designed to raise is "will young voters turn out big for Democrats?" The answer is impossible to determine from these results because the sampling makes this what I call a "garbage poll" - 659 adults ages 17 to 29. Not likely voters. Not even necessarily registered voters. Just 659 people, probably sitting at home watching the latest footage of Paris Hilton leaving prison.
Random Commuter Observation
For years now I've been lobbying for these here United States to adopt an o-fficial summer capital, preferably somewhere far to the north and up in the mountains. So far, of course, nothing has come of it. It's weeks like the one we're having here in Dee Cee now that, I think, prove my point. But will our leadership listen? Of course not. No wonder public confidence in Our Nation's Government is at such an historickal low.
Sorry to kvetch, but I've been suffering from a mild case of heat exhaustion the last couple days, and it makes me crabby and brittle. A quick peek at WebMD reveals the tell-tale symptoms of this affliction:
* heavy sweating
* muscle cramps
* nausea or vomiting
Yep, got 'em all (except the yacking, thank goodness). It's the result of the long walk between the metro and my office, plus the additional fact that I don't have a/c in my jeep. Over a couple days, the effect tends to build up, even if I spend all day sucking down water. The price we llamas pay for having such woolly hides, I suppose.
Great Moments in American jurisprudence
Should a murderer serving life in prison get a sex-change operation at taxpayer expense?
The case of Michelle -- formerly Robert -- Kosilek is being closely watched across the country by advocates for other inmates who want to undergo a sex change. Transgender inmates in other states have sued prison officials, and not one has succeeded in persuading a judge to order a sex-change operation.
The Massachusetts Correction Department is vigorously fighting Kosilek's request for surgery, saying it would create a security nightmare and make Kosilek a target for sexual assault.
An Associated Press review of the case, including figures obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and interviews, found that the Correction Department and its outside health care provider have spent more than $52,000 on experts to testify about an operation that would cost about $20,000.
The duration and expense of the case have outraged some lawmakers who insist that taxpayers should not have to pay for inmates to have surgery that most private insurers reject as elective.
"They are prisoners. They are there because they've broken the law," said Republican state Sen. Scott Brown, who unsuccessfully introduced a bill to ban sex-change surgery for inmates. "Other folks, people who want to get these types of surgeries, they have to go through their insurance carrier or save up for it and do it independently. Yet if you are in prison, you can do it for nothing? That doesn't make a lot of sense."
But advocates say in some cases -- such as that of Kosilek, who has twice attempted suicide -- sex-change surgery is as much a medical necessity as treatment for diabetes or high blood pressure.
"The duty belongs to the prison to figure out how to fulfill its constitutional obligations to both provide adequate medical care and provide a fundamental security for all inmates," said Cole Thaler, an attorney with Lambda Legal, a gay- and transgender-rights group.
Why is this gel in prison? Does that have any bearing at all on this case?
But of course it does.
Kosilek, 58, was convicted of strangling his wife in 1990. He claimed he killed her in self-defense after she spilled boiling tea on his genitals.
Well, that explains it.
I'd be surprised, though, if it wasn't because his prison name is "Earl Grey."
Riots in L.A. and Chicago, as people fed up with the Bush regime's sudden imposition of gas rationing set fire to gas stations.
When Sock Puppets Attack
While Agent Bed Head (aka Sadie, Sadie Lou, Sadie Lou Hoo Hoo) and I have been squaring off in the Light Blogging Club (first rule of Light Blogging Club: Don't talk about Light Blogging Club), she's been a busy beaver over at Pajiba, posting some rather excellent and spiffy movie reviews as of late.
Her recent review of A Mighty Heart is spot on excellent, of course, but she's been under some scathing attacks in the comments section because she dared---DARED, I SAY!---come out and point out the 89 lb elephant in the room: namely that Angelina Jolie was horribly miscast for the role of Daniel Pearl's widow.
Problem is, though, the multiple comment attacks have the flavor of an attack of sock puppets--that is, the same deranged commentator who feels the need to get all his Second Life avatars to come out in support of his facile logic and reasoning.
Well now. I'd only say one thing to add to Sadie's otherwise prescient review: that instead of Angelina Jolie in the role, the producers should have cast Amy "Judging Amy" Brenneman in the leading role, that way insuring that the only way to provide a greater distraction to the dark Jihadi-beheading themes of the movie than by wondering if Angelina Jolie used stunt-double lips, would be to get an awful Judge Amy/her brother Vincent little vibe going.
June 26, 2007
A MESSAGE TO TRENT, JOHN, LINDSAY, DUBYA, MEL & CO.
LLAMA TECH BLEG: What software do you use to copy a You Tube thing like this, and edit it to make it into a mash-up? Suggestions appreciated. The machine in use would a MacBook Pro.
Shall we play, A Penny for Your Thoughts?
I'd like to be this cavalier about it, really I would.
But I can't.
All I know is that I'm holding Mel Martinez personally responsible for blowing up the party coalition. First Schaivo, now this crap.
UPDATE: OKAY, MAYBE I CAN BE CAVALIER ABOUT IT.....HONG KONG CAVALIER, TO BE PRECISE.... Of course, searching the 'Tube for the last line of Buckaroo Banzai produced this priceless bit:
Watching this made me realize what was wrong with Ocean's 13: the sagulent decrepitude of what was once Ellen Barkin. Sigh.
This helps the pain go down to: laugh while you can, Monkey Boy!
Damn illegal aliens.
A note to Dubya
Dude, you've lost me.
Okay, I realize you're thinking, "Whoa, he's one of these intertube gizmo nerd guys, never actually given money to the party or nothing."
But I just thought you would want to know, guy, that you lost my Mom.
And if you've lost my Mom, well, hate to break it to you George, but it's over.
Stupid Technologically-Challenged Blegging
I'm sure there are many seven year olds out there who probably know the answer, but what is the best way to clean DVDs at home?
UPDATE: Okay, not quite the same thing but pretty cool - what happens when you shove a DVD in the microwave:
I, for one, am completely sick and tired of that smarmy jackhole Lindsay Graham.
You Gotta Fight...For Your Right...
...to masturbate like a crazed monkey.
Swedish court rules in favor of allowing prisoners access to pornography.
Convicted sex offenders in Sweden are free to read pornography in their cells following a court ruling that has angered the prison service.This story just made me think of that old Beastie Boys song.
The Supreme Administrative Court in Stockholm last week ruled that the Swedish Prison and Probation Service had no right to deny a rape convict access to his porn magazines.
And a line that's especially appropriate: "Now your mom threw away your best porno mag!"
Oh, what the heck. Enjoy:
Gratuitous Politickal Posting: GOP Division
OK, I know I need to temper myself on the politics. It's a subject that burned me out at my old blog and made coming to the Butcher Shop such a therapeutic move for me.
I can't seem to go cold turkey, so I'll do my best to keep it to small doses. Hey, the biggest step is admitting you have a problem, no?
John McCain had a rather peevish reaction to yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on one of the pillars of the Bipartisan
Campaign Finance Reform Anti-Free Speech/Incumbency Protection Act.
"While I respect their decision in this matter, it is regrettable that a split Supreme Court has carved out a narrow exception by which some corporate and labor expenditures can be used to target a federal candidate in the days and weeks before an election.McCain has been riding this pony for six years now and I honestly think he has a mental block as to just how bad this legislation is. I don't believe that he sees it as limiting free speech. I believe he sees it as payback for his 2000 primary defeat.
"It is important to recognize, however, that the Court's decision does not affect the principal provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which bans federal officeholders from soliciting soft money contributions for their parties to spend on their campaigns.
Let's take a spin on the way-back machine for a moment. In February 2000, the "maverick" candidate for the Republican nomination was riding high off of a New Hampshire victory and was declared by the fawning MSM to be in the driver's seat. As a supporter of his at the time, I admit that I bought into the hype as well. The next big primary - South Carolina - was crucial. Another McCain win would have really caused problems for the Bush campaign. Now South Carolina is not New Hampshire. And in hindsight, I don't see how McCain could have won that state under any circumstances.
But something happened in the lead-up to that primary that I believe changed the Arizona Senator forever. A "special interest group" supporting Bush engaged in some really tasteless push-polls that enraged McCain. The group's actions were indefensible but they weren't illegal. Bush went on to win South Carolina and a string of Super Tuesday primaries that pretty much put an end to McCain's candidacy. While those push-polls probably didn't help McCain, I have a really hard time believing that they made the difference in the ultimate result. McCain, however, was convinced of it and often alludes to it as the reason he lost.
Politics is not for the faint-hearted but McCain took that rough campaign personally - a little too personally as far as I can tell. It was this incident, I believe, that drove him to push for such a sweeping ban on campaign advertising. And of course since McCain-Feingold was such a boon to incumbent politicians, it didn't have a hard time finding "bipartisan" support in both chambers of Congress. President Bush's signature on the bill is the ultimate irony and one of the biggest mistakes of his Administration.
Many of the bill's opponents hoped that such blatant infringements on free speech could not possibly be upheld in the courts. Many have, however. Fortunately, this last decision is a step in the right direction.
McCain's stated driver on this issue was getting the money (the big money) out of politics - the "corporate and labor expenditures" that he refers to. That, however, is a foolish assumption as we have since found that the money always finds a way in. And McCain-Feingold effectively shuts out all those who wish to participate in the electoral debate. Many of these "special interest" groups (on both sides) are the only means for individuals to make their voices heard on issues that they care deeply about. And that combined with what is probably his greatest motivation for this crusade - a personal vendetta against those who attacked him - really makes you call into question the Senator's judgment. It's something that has since caused reservations for me about supporting him for President.
I don't see any maliciousness behind McCain's actions the way some do. I think in his mind he is following a principle as he sees it and sticking by it. While that itself is an admirable quality, his adherence to this particular principle is part of the reason why he would be my last choice among the major GOP candidates for the 2008 Presidential nomination.
Random Commuter Observation
Slogging back and forth between Orgle Manor and the office during these long summer stretches of heat and humidity, I often find myself thinking that Agent Smith had it about right:
I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This reality, whatever you want to call it, I can't stand it any longer. It's the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink and every time I do, I fear that I've somehow been infected by it.
It is the smell - that combination of garbage, car fumes and overheated Humanity which lingers in the Dee Cee air, growing in potency each day until finally washed out by either a heavy rain or a blast of cooler, dryer air. What exactly is the physical mechanism that causes warmer, humid air to trap odors? Can any of you Mr. Wizards out there put an answer in terms a simple English major like myself could comprehend?
June 25, 2007
Embracing Our Earth Mothe - OW! That HURT!
Yahoo! is trumpeting the little town of Hastings, Nebraska as the winner of something it calls the "America's Greenest City Challenge". A cursory glance suggests that in order to get "credits" in this contest, municipalities are supposed to pledge to take this and that various actions to improve what Mrs. Platinka, our regular substitute teacher, used to call "the en-vyyyy-rin-ment."
Yes, sounds all noble and stuff, right? But what does it get you? Freaking seven inch hailstones, that's all:
(Image found here.)
Coincidence? Perhaps - but are you willing to bet the future of your children and your planet on it? I didn't think so.
(Oh, by the way, I notice with some amusement that Fairfax, VA places in the top ten. Fairfax is exactly the sort of SUV-driving, stripmall-building, McMansion-infested suburban energy remora that the enviro-crowd howls about the loudest. I hope none of their hailstorms wanders up into my own little community.)
It's The Homicidal Barber!
File this in the cabinet marked "You Can't Make This Stuff Up".
An Amsterdam barber has been arrested for stabbing a client with scissors, the second such incident involving the barber, Dutch police said on Saturday.Actually, check that. You can make this stuff up. At least the Pythons did once.
The client was stabbed and seriously wounded after a fight broke out earlier this week at the barber's shop, police said.
The barber stabbed another client with scissors in 2000. The man later died of his wounds, although the barber was cleared of any charges after a court found he had acted in self-defense.
Police said they were holding the man, 42, and investigating whether attempted manslaughter charges should be brought against him.
Gratuitous Summer Deathwatch Posting
I forgot to mention it earlier, but the seven year old Llama-ette volunteered to take care of the Class Pet over the summer. He's a fish named Dennis (some of you with small kids in your lives will get the reference, the rest - don't worry about it) and he lives in a small bowl that now resides on top of the gel's dresser.
Now, we also happen to have two cats. Neither of them has noticed Dennis yet, as the Llama-ette has been pretty good about keeping her door closed. However........
Betting is open: Will Dennis become a cat treat? If so, when?
UPDATE: Of course, we've been taking lessons in the proper care of pet fish:
Hang 'Em High
The first woman to head the United States Episcopal Church can now add another title to her resume: honorary marshal of Dodge City. Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori received the honor Tuesday afternoon in front of a small group of observers at Boot Hill Cemetery.
"I'm deeply honored and privileged, and I have to tell you, this is the first in my ordained career," she said as the group laughed and applauded.
Jefferts Schori joins a gallery of approximately 80 distinguished people who have been named honorary marshals, including Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, film actor Steve McQueen and former President John F. Kennedy. She visited Kansas as part of a national tour of the church's dioceses.
Okay, okay. It's a harmless bit o' puffery. But I couldn't help wondering how KJS would have handled her role as
lawman lawperson back in the day. I think it would go something like this:
Skeeter: Marshal! Marshal! Th' Hoy Gang just done robbed the Wichita Stage!
Marshall KJS: Ooh. Um. Well, I'm truly excited to be a law enforcement officer at this challenging time. I think God is asking us to step back and rethink our fundamental assumptions about what constitutes meum and tuum in our modern, wonderfully diverse society. We must be patient and prayerful and not overly quick to pass judgement about who "robbed" whom, to use what I think is an antiquated and inherently biased expression.
Skeeter: But, Marshal! They was disrespekful of the U.N., too!
KJS: Get a rope!
Llamas Are From Mars
I got wind at our monthly Church pot-luck last evening that a couple of vestry colleagues who are forming some kind of Men's Discussion Group want me to join it.
As I hastily made clear to them, I don't wanna join the Men's Discussion Group!
It's long been my opinion that there is a very real dichotome in the underlying assumptions and purposes of sex-based groups of this sort. For gals, they serve as a real rallying point, an opportunity for expressions of strength and solidarity (and, truth be told, gossip) in an otherwise male-dominated world. "I am Woman! Hear me kvetch! Oh, and where did you find that fabulous scarf?"
On the other hand, I believe the main purpose of the Men's Group is nothing short of an attempt to break down maleness. "Sure, you put on your hunter-gatherer game face for the world all the time and look where it gets you. Here's a chance to find your inner Sensitive Guy and to be vulnerable in a safe place. C'mon, give us a hug!"
Geh. Would Winston Churchill join a "Men's Group"? Would Teddy Roosevelt? Lee? The Iron Dook? Nelson? Washington? I doubt it seriously.
Naw, I think I know a better place to shoot the bull with the guys. It's called the 8:30 tee time.
Sooper-Sekret Telemarketer Message
To whoever it is who's been calling my office from a Wisconsin area code and an obvious business number promptly at 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM each day for the past week: Look, I'm not going to pick up the phone, so you may as well just give in and go pester somebody else.
That is all.
June 24, 2007
The Random Penseur celebrates the arrival of summer in style:
Summer is here, today, officially! YAY! I am celebrating, not by making burnt offerings to the Norse gods, but by breaking out my seersucker suit (supposedly from the Hindi words "shir shakkar," meaning "milk and honey") and the madder silk bow tie (madder refers to a natural dye from a Eurasian herbaceous plant, Rubia tinctoria).
As much as I approve of RP's sentiment, I've long been of the opinion that seersucker and bow ties are a veeeeeery dangerous clothing choice. In order to carry them off, one has to be either big or old, and have a certain kavorka as well. I've met RP in person. He's a large guy with a commanding presence, so he can get away with it. Me? I'm an average sized guy with self-consciousness issues. Walking about the streets of Dee Cee in a rig like that, I'd look like a complete dork. Therefore, I probably won't pull out the seersucker myself until the summer of oh, say, my sixtieth year.
In the meantime, I'll stick with my less-adventurous blazer & khakis combo.
Gratuitous Idle Channel-Surfing Discovery After The Nats' Hearbreaking Ninth Inning Scalping By The Tribe
Judi Dench was in The Chronicles of Riddick?
Oh, ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaa!!!!!
June 23, 2007
More Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Random Thoughts Division
A little something for those of you faced with Saturday afternoon piles of laundry:
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Compare N' Contrast Division
Back in January, I posted this pic of the stately Orgle Manor garden in mid-winter slumber:
Here it is now, almost exactly six months later:
It's the wonder of nature, baybee!
As a matter of fact, the garden is in something of a slump at the moment, which is probably the result of my own poor planning. The early bloomers - the columbine, foxglove and so forth - have all pretty much wrapped up, while the high summer stalwarts - the butterfly weed, Russian sage, coneflower, buddlea and joe-pye are just coming on. I need to stock up on some mid-term bloomers to keep things interesting.
Meanwhile, in another week or two, I hope the place will be covered with more of this:
Gratuitous This N' That Posting (TM)
Saturday morning here at Orgle Manor and given the *ahem* lack of posting by my confederates the last day or two, I thought I'd toss off a few completely random thoughts and observations:
**The nine-year-old's new-found fascination with baseball continues apace. Last evening, she stayed up with me to watch the Nats take down the Cleveland Indians. The game featured several very nice double plays, one of which got the Nats out of a nasty bases-loaded hole, eliciting a spontaneous cheer from the gel. I can't tell you how pleased I am that she's taking to the game like this.
** I sit on the board of St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. We're in the middle of plans to greatly expand the size of the school and yesterday had a meeting with some bankers to discuss the possibility of floating a bond to cover things. I have an almost narcoleptic reaction to matters financial and, as the presentations droned on, couldn't help wondering whether the enthusiasm of the bank team was genuine, or whether they too were not shrieking with boredom somewhere deep down inside.
** This morning I spotted (and quickly ate) the first ripe blueberry of the season among the Orgle Manor bushes. I grow increasingly convinced that there is no greater fruit than this little blue marvel. Not only are they delicious, one also has a sense of how almost insanely healthy they are, too. We've got a very large crop of them this year and I would guess that we'll be able to start some serious harvesting in another week or two.
** The Missus, for an unexpected Father's Day present, gave me a nice Smith & Hawkins outdoor thermometer, which I mounted outside the kitchen window. Being a guy, I now have to check it about every ten minutes or so just so I know the latest data. I mean, you never know when there's going to be a couple degrees' variation, right? Right?
** I was all set to run off Curse of the Golden Flower and then write a gratuitous review of it, but for some reason the copy Netflix sent me won't load up. It may just be my imagination, but this sort of thing seems to be happening more and more often lately, with DVD's that are often scratched if not out-right cracked. Stupid Netflix.
June 21, 2007
Might As Well Face It
Heh. I can't help noticing that since declaring he was cutting back on them the other day, Gary has put up nine politics-related posts as opposed to four on other topics. By my humble math, that's just shy of 70%.
This is cutting back? Gary, I think you might have an addiction. And in that spirit, let's go to the videotape:
Perhaps that will get your mind off things for a bit...
Yips! from Gary:
"Closer to the truth to say ya...can't get enough..."
I've got battered pundit syndrome. It's kind of like being a Mets fan. Now matter how bad things get, I just gotta get me some MORE. Sheesh.
I Love This Guy
Nader may very well run in 2008. Maybe he'll be the big anti-war candidate!
Ralph Nader says he is seriously considering running for president in 2008 because he foresees another Tweedledum-Tweedledee election that offers little real choice to voters.Let's be honest. You could have a race between Darth Vader and Jesus and he'd still call it a "Tweedledum-Tweedledee election". This guy lives to be a pain in the Democrats' collective asses. He gives a lot of Liberal voters an "out" because if they don't like the candidate they can say "hey, I voted for Nader" and still attest to having done their civic duty, all the while blaming the party for nominating a bad candidate.
"You know the two parties are still converging -- they don't even debate the military budget anymore," Nader said in a 30-minute interview. "I really think there needs to be more competition from outside the two parties."...
...And while Nader, 73, realizes he might once again be accused of being a "spoiler" candidate, he says the Democrats could win in 2008, unless they spoil things for themselves.
"Democrats have become, over the years, very good at electing very bad Republicans," Nader said. "Democrats always know how to implode, how to be ambiguous, how to waver, how not to be authentic."
Can he be a headache for Hillary? Oh, you betcha. He seems like one of the only politicians on the Left who's not afraid of the Clinton machine.
While Nader praised two candidates who have almost no chance of winning their party's nomination -- Republican Ron Paul and Democrat Mike Gravel -- he was severe in his criticism of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.Ouch. Nader is the gift that just keeps giving. And no matter what Democrat operatives do, they just can't seem to shake him off.
"She is a political coward," Nader said. "She goes around pandering to powerful interest groups on the one hand and flattering general audiences on the other. She doesn't even have the minimal political fortitude of her husband."
Run, Ralph, Run!
Gratuitous Summer Solstice Book Review
I wrote a review of this book two years ago and feel absolutely no shame whatever in simply repeating myself:
All I can say is that if you like your early Bronze Age history long, uneven and Machiavellian, this is the book for you. It is a vast novel that purports to follow the life of one Saban, who eventually becomes the architect of Stonehenge, as he is battered about Wiltshire and South Wales by the forces of Nature, Religion, Politics, Greed and Sex. The book comes with a complete set of stock Dawn of Civilization characters- the Good Hero, the Eviiiil Warlord, the beautiful Blond Babe, Witches, Warlocks and Wise Elders. In fact, the best part of the novel is Cornwell's Afterward, in which he impishly states that the entire story is complete buncum, since nobody knows much of anything about the culture of the period or the reasons behind the construction of Stonehenge. However, his survey of hard archeological evidence to date is also quite interesting.
I say the book is uneven for two reasons - first, Cornwell displays the same fault I often find in the Sharpe series of hammering what he thinks are important points by mind-numbing repetition. Second, he has an odd way of short-changing his characters' lives (and deaths) by neglecting to give us much insight into them and instead devotes too much ink to descriptions of physical surroundings and activities. I also note that Cornwell didn't bother very much with trying to pitch the dialogue to the times, but instead simply gives us modern-sounding characters dressed up in prehistoric costumes.
All in all, though, an enjoyable lightweight summer book. Lots of fighting, obligatory ritual, em, fooling around, and intrigue. Perfect for when you don't feel like having to think too hard.
Yips! from Gary:
"The Druids...No one knows who dey were...or...what dey were doin'. But dere legacy remains."
Gratuitous Royal Navy Geekery Posting
Today is the anniversary of the birth of Sir William Sidney Smith in 1764. A brave and daring Royal Navy commander, Smith is remembered now primarily for his defense (in conjunction with the Turk) of the city of Acre in 1799 against a siege by Napoleon who, with a French expeditionary force, had landed in Egypt and was making his way up what is now the Israeli coast. After multiple attempts to storm the fortifications, Napoleon was forced to give up the attack. More than that, he turned his army back around for Egypt, eventually abandoning it there as he himself slunk back off to France. Napoleon is supposed to have said of Smith, "That man made me miss my destiny."
UPDATE: Speaking of which, here is one of my favorite political caricatures of the period -
SIEGE DE LA COLONNE DE POMPÉE - SCIENCE IN THE PILLORY.
by James Gillray, March 6, 1799.
In this scene, Gillray (claiming to base his drawing on intercepted dispatches), lampoons the corp of scientists, artists and architects that travelled to Egypt as part of Napoleon's force, all of whom are here pictured trapped atop Pompey's Pillar and being set upon by various natives. This is one of several plates Gillray did during and after the French expedition. The man never tired of goosing Boney with his pen and brush.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. James Lileks
There's no finer word in the modern artist’s lexicon. That’s the role of art: to resist the affirmation of societal confidence, because it leads to things like war and big cars and bigger houses in cul-del-sac burbs where pot-bellied yobs have an entire room for their NASCAR cap collection. This cannot stand; the center must not hold. That rough beast isn’t going to birth itself, you know; we have to rip it out, saddle it up and ride all the way to Bethelem so we can get on with whatever comes next. And whatever it might be it has to be better than this, because THIS is television-as-anesthesia, food packed in tinfoil, guns in all the wrong hands (citizens and soliders, neither of whom can be trusted) and a general willful refusal of everyone else to understand that this is possibly the nadir of human civilization right here, and if they’d stop enjoying their life for one – single – second for a change, they’d realize it. Over here, look at us! We are provoking you! Come and give us a grant, or we shall be forced to provoke you again with a play in which the Pope wears a suit made out of wet fresh placentas and goose-steps around the stage singing Lili Marlene!
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Baseball Division
Congratulations, Dmitri Young! Last evening, as we watched (on tee vee) the Tigers finish shellacking the Nats in a three game sweep, you o-fficially became the nine year old Llama-ette's first baseball crush, right when you missed that straight-away homer in the 6th by about a foot and a half. She says you look like a big teddy bear.
On the 4th of July, the Family Llama are all going out to RFK to see the Nats play the Cubbies. The gel has asked that if you hit a foul and she catches it, could you please autograph it for her.
Congress Hits New Level Of Suckitude
Accoring to Gallup polling, the Legistative Branch of our Federal Government, controlled by Democratic "leaders" Reid and Pelosi has gone down in history as the worst Congress since 1973 (when Gallup started asking) - an 86% no-confidence level.
Just 14% of respondents considered this Congress to be doing a "good job".
Congrats to Harry and Nancy. They managed to drag the country's confidence rating in Congress down below even Big Business (18%) and HMOs (15%). Indicidentally, confidence in the Military is rated 69%. The nutroots can suck on that one a while.
Now if we apply the moonbats' standards for the President and his approval rating then it's only fair for them to demand that all 535 members submit their resignations, no?
June 20, 2007
"Beer On A Stick"
A restaurant down in Alexandria has invented a new summer treat for guys, the beer-sicle:
Last week, Alexandria, Va.'s Rustico Restaurant and Bar started selling "beer-sicles." They come in flavors like Fudgesicle, made with a dark beer called Bell's Kalamazoo Stout; Raspbeer-y, made with St. Louis Framboise; and Plum, made with a Chapeau Mirabelle.
"It tastes like beer on a stick," said Frank Morales, executive chef with Rustico. He worked on the popsicle with the restaurant's beer director, Greg Engert.
Other flavors — like Banana, made with Chapeau Banana Lambic — will be sold on a rotating basis. All will cost $4 for the traditional form on a stick and $6 for a beer cone, a larger version of the beer-sicle.
So far, customers are enjoying the frozen treat, Mr. Morales said.
Better get 'em while you can, though, because the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, aka the Booze Nazis, are moving in:
The agency says the beer-sicles run afoul of rules governing the serving and pouring of beer. Special agent Philip Disharoon says the law requires beer to be served in its original container, or served immediately to a customer once it is poured from its original container. The department plans to send an investigator to check it out.
A spokeswoman for the restaurant says they will keep selling the beer-sicles and work with the ABC to make them legal.
Virginia Booze Nazis. I hate Virginia Booze Nazis.
UPDATE: I might have known that the Aussies were way out in front of us on this -
Vader's Bane: The Return Of Jar-Jar Binks
From the Robot Chicken "Star Wars" special.
Bush Vetoes Stem-Cell Bill
And they report it like it's some kind of big surprise. Didn't the President make it clear where he stands on this issue five years ago?
What really annoys me, however, is the way this issue is handled in the media. Hillary weighed in with this pledge: "Let me be very clear. When I am president, I will lift the ban on stem cell research." Well that ought to be an easy promise to keep, seeing as there is no ban on stem cell research. You see how rhetoric works? The average American hears this and infers that Bush has effectively banned all stem-cell research. And the media plays along.
In reality, the President is refusing to allow federal funds (that's our taxpayer dollars, for you Liberals out there following along) to be used for embryonic stem cell research. There are lots of private dollars currently funding embryonic stem-cell research both in the U.S. and around the world.
Now from simply a practical perspective, not using taxpayer's money to publicly fund embryonic stem cell research makes sense. Why? Because in twenty years it's produced pretty much nothing in the way of cures, treatments or other medical breakthroughs. So why pump money into an activity that has no return on investment? Ethics aside, it doesn't even make financial sense.
But Gary, how can you just shut the door on the hopes of those who are afflicted with such life-altering diseases as ovarian cancer, acute myelogenous leukemia, multiple sclerosis and sickle cell anemia? You heartless bastard! How?
Simple. The success in treating those diseases and scores of others has been found using adult stem cells. That's where you get the bang for your buck. That's where you find real hope, not false hope. And there's the added benefit of not having to destroy an embryo to do it. Not to mention the fact that it poses no medical dangers to the patient (unlike trials based on embryonic stem cells). That's not a Conservative position, it's a sensible one.
So let's recap:
Adult stem cell research: 73 applicable treatments.
Embryonic stem cell research: 0
The problem is that this issue has been so politicized that it makes it near impossible to look at it objectively.
If embryonic stem cell research holds as much promise as it's advocates believe then the funding from private sources should be pouring in. Imagine the financial return on such an investment if it were to fulfill the grand promises currently being made. Funding decisions should be made with both the risks and the rewards considered. Of course, with public funding there is no risk. If the money is spent and nothing comes of it, it isn't Congress who loses.
It's us, the public, who foots the bill. And since when has Congress ever concerned itself with that minor detail?
My Name Is Frodo! And I'm Here To Sing! Sing! Sing!
"Will you stop the cootchie-cootchie-coo stuff? Fer cryin' out loud, I'm fifty years old!"
The latest manifestation of Lord of the Rings: The Musical gets thoroughly panned:
The tale will oft be told of the plucky little hobbits, stubborn as bindweed and tough as old briar, and the doomed attempt of the fellowship of the ring to conquer middle West End. For it is a story of reckless courage and megalomaniacal hubris, and of throwing more good money after bad than seems entirely sane.
The first chapter was written in Toronto in the spring of 2006, where this £12.5 million leviathan of a musical had its first theatrical outing. The vile orcs, otherwise known as visiting drama critics, gave it a vigorous drubbing (the present writer included) while even the local press pronounced itself bored of the Rings.
The show failed to sell out, closed early, and in a rational world that would have been that.
However, the producer Kevin Wallace and the director Matthew Warchus, corrupted perhaps by the malign power of their "precious" ring, insisted they would bring the show to London. And now, in a shorter though not noticeably more lucid version, it opened last night at Drury Lane.
Heh, heh, heh. No sympathy whatsoever from me. But if the show crashes, might I suggest the insertion of this little ditty next time?
"Brush Up Your Bilbo" by J.R.R. Robbo (with apologies to Cole "Smeagol" Porter)
The elves today in society
Go for Noldoran poetry,
So to win their hearts one must quote all o'er
Galadriel and Fe-a-nor.
But the poet of them all
Who will start 'em simply ravin's
Is the poet people call
The bard who left the Gray Havens.
Brush up your Bilbo,
Start quoting him now.
Brush up your Bilbo
And the Eldar you will wow.
Just declaim a few lines about Gandalf
And they give you a heckuva sand-off.
If your elf won't respond when you flatter 'im
Tell him what Gimli told the Galadrim,
And if still, to be shocked, he pretends well,
Just remind him that even Gondolin fell.
Brush up your Bilbo
And they'll all kowtow.
Brush up your Bilbo,
Start quoting him now.
Brush up your Bilbo
And the Eldar you will wow.
If your goil is a Rivendell-bred dream
Treat the kid to a Lorien night's dream.
If she fights when her clothes you are fing'ring,
What are clothes when you've got the One Ring?
If she says your behavior's not valid
Kick her right where the heat got Gil-Galad.
Brush up your Bilbo
And they'll all kowtow,
And they'll all kowtow,
And they'll all kowtow.
Brush up your Bilbo,
Start quoting him now.
Brush up your Bilbo
And the Eldar you will wow.
Brush up your Bilbo
And they'll all kowtow,
Yips! from Gary:
And on that note, let's recall that famous deleted scene from Peter Jackson's "The Two Towers": The 40-Year Old Hobbit Virgin.
Mitt's Latest: Innovative Or Creepy?
You be the judge. Click on MittRomney.com and wait a minute or two. Watch Romney walk into your screen and make a fundraising pitch.
Allahpundit is reminded of Disney's "Hall of Presidents". Honestly, I still have to digest this.
Didn't I recently say I was cutting way back on political blogging?
Mayor Mike Goes "Independent"
Mega-billionaire NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has formally ended his affiliation with the Republican party. That's two affiliation jumps in six years.
Bloomberg - a long-time Democrat - registered for the first time as a Republican in 2001 to run for Mayor to succeed Rudy Giuliani. Well, this was a no-brainer. The Dem field was crowded and the GOP had no candidates. Bloomberg saw his opportunity and he took it. Giuliani even endorsed him, which no doubt went a long way in helping get him elected.
NYC Mayors are term-limited. In the middle of his second term, Bloomberg no longer needs the (R) next to his name - and the party support, money and organization that comes with it. He's gotten what use out of it that he needed. I say, good riddance. If he had any integrity to begin with he would have run in 2001 as an independent in the first place.
But look out, now we have the rumblings of a third party independent candidacy in Mike Bloomberg! Now we hear the Ross Perot comparisons. The media is jumping up and down that this could throw the 2008 Presidential election to
Hillary...er, I mean, the Democrat candidate.
OK, let's consider this scenario. Who exactly would Bloomberg appeal to?
Let's start with the Republican base. In 1992, massive GOP voter defections to Perot siphoned off plenty of votes from George H. W. Bush. Advantage: Bubba. Well, at that time it was "the economy, stupid". And Republican voters felt betrayed by Bush's breaking his "no new taxes" pledge. Perot - as nutty as he was - offered a viable alternative. At the very least, voters knew that a message would be sent to the President and the RNC: don't screw with us.
For Bloomberg, there is no such appeal. Yes, many GOP voters have soured on Bush II. But the current field - Giuliani, Romney, Thompson and McCain - are not running as continuations of the Bush Administration. They are the alternatives, and the base will choose one accordingly.
Then there are the Independents, the "moderate" swing voters. OK, moderate swing voters are just that - moderate. They may lean one way or the other but they tend to dislike what they see as extreme Right or Left. Bloomberg's record is one of a Nanny-State Liberal. He loves to raise taxes, increase the size of government and tell you how to live your lives. This guy has all but outlawed cigarettes in NYC. Even you particularly detest smoking, you have to admit that his approach is an overreach and a gross infringement on personal liberties. Oh, and did I mention he's a big supporter of the Kelo Supreme Court decision that OKs an expanded eminent domain policy - the seizing of your private property for commercial ventures?
Moderates can be courted with the touchy-feeling rhetoric of government freebies (which, of course, are never free) like universal health care but conversely they are repelled by a bigger, more controlling government. What's more, Perot did have some kind of weird personal appeal about him. He was quirky and unconventional. You got the feeling that he wanted to be President to change things, to make a difference. He was genuine and that at least offset his odd qualities. For all his flaws, Perot excited some people. This was the fertilizer that nourished his grass roots.
Bloomberg is another rich white guy with a nasally voice and a bland personality. He's a knee-jerk Northeastern Liberal who's track record is one of a political opportunist. In what Red State could Bloomberg pull enough votes away from the Republican to swing it Blue? Seriously?
"Hey, I'm as exciting as the next guy. Did you know that I have a rubber band collection? It's really cool. You have no idea how many different kinds of rubber bands there are in the world. In fact, let me tell you about some of them...Hey, wait a minute! Is that trans-fat you're eating? Hand it over, bud!"
And lastly, there's the Democrat base. More particularly, let's look at the nutroots. They don't completely control that party yet but they are a huge influence. They're motivated. These people make it a point to attend anti-war rallies even in the rain or when there are only a dozen other people who showed up. There's no apathy among these folks. And they seem to get off on "moral victories" as much as (if not more than) they do real electoral ones.
And they're not especially happy with the current crop of candidates. Why? Because none of them have become the de facto "anti-war" candidate. Hillary tries to have it both ways. Obama seems non-committal. And Edwards plays around with the nutroots on this issue but falls short of being the firebrand that the Left is looking for. Convinced that the rest of the country is as bound and determined to lose in Iraq as they are, most believe that a true "bring them home NOW!" candidate is just what this country needs.
If Bloomberg doesn't give them that, they'll pretty much ignore him.
However. If Bloomberg is smart, he will offer them just that: the ultimate anti-war candidate. He has no history of voting for the war or advocating the mission. So he can't be accused of flip-flopping. He's certainly more comfortable advocating Liberal positions in general. And just as GOP voters were prepared to send Bush I a message in 1992, the base of the Democratic party at the very least could use the threat of defection to Bloomberg as the ultimate weapon to move their nominee as far Left as they want. It'd be the same message, too: don't screw with us.
Sadly, though. As interesting as this last scenario is, it's probably unlikely.
All in all, the timing is not great for a third party candidate right now. The impact, if any, of a Bloomberg independent bid will most likely be minor.
But, Mike. If you're reading this, consider that last scenario. You have the money. What you need is a strong, committed, and enthusiastic grassroots campaign. Your best option is probably the nutroots. They're there for the taking. Just pay them some attention and say what they want to hear and they'll be happy to follow you over a cliff. Just a suggestion.
Yips! from Robbo:
(Image courtesy of this coo-el sign generator site.)
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)
A recent change in the dynamic of life at Orgle Manor is the fact that the five year old, apparently tired of playing the baby, has in the last month determined to out-grow the elder Llama-ettes. To this end, she's started getting herself dressed without prompting, making her bed and cleaning up her room, and then proudly pointing out to the Missus and me that she's done so before her sisters.
This competitiveness now seems to have taken an academic bent as well. Yesterday, so I was informed when I got home, the gel sat for two solid hours working on her reading exercises, finishing fifteen pages of one of her workbooks. Last evening, rather than me reading a story to her, she insisted on reading some of her workbook to me. When she finished, her eyes were positively blazing in triumph. I believe she reckons to catch up the nine year old by the end of the summer.
I certainly hope this new ethos lasts for a while, because the child is infinitely more pleasant to be around than she used to be.
June 19, 2007
Gratuitous Classical Civ Posting
This is cool. (Well, I think it is.) According to new genetic studies, the ancient Etruscans, whose civilization flourished in Central Italy before the rise of Rome obliterated it, originally migrated to Italy from Lydia, in what is now southern Turkey.
What makes it extra cool? The fact that this new evidence is consistent with what the 5th Century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus believed to be the origins of the Etruscan people.
Although called the Father of History, Herodotus often gets the "yeah, right" treatment. If you dip into his Histories, you'll see why: the man was widely travelled (and couldn't help showing it off a bit). In his quest to gather as much information as he could about foreign parts, he tended to write down any story he picked up from the locals, even those that were plainly fantastic in some cases. But just because you don't believe tales about men who could change into werewolves or whose heads are located under their arms doesn't mean you should be so fast to dismiss everything the old boy wrote. This would seem to be a case in point. Neat.
Yips! to Gail at Scribal Terror.
Do You Have A Kiss For Daddy?
Happy birthday to Mia Sara, born this day in 1967.
The Missus and I have had a long-standing debate about Mia's character Sloane Peterson from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The Missus maintains that nobody really dressed or wore their hair that way in 1986, and therefore that FBDO, while otherwise an excellent snapshot of affluent suburban life in the midst of the Reagan Years, is flawed. I maintain that I don't really care.
I think the LMC and Gary would agree with me that we need to score Mia as a Flash-In-The-Pan 80's Babe. Apart from Bueller, I've never even heard of most of the rest of the work she's done. And the top-heavy cable movies and miniseries entries on her resume are always a red flag.
Random Mid-Afternoon Thought
It's not as late in the day as my body feels it should be, nor is it as late in the week as my body feels it should be. This happens every now and again and the only reason I can come up with for it is that aliens are secretly kidnapping me, fooling about with my head and then time-teleporting me back to when they picked me up.
You have to admit, this theory would explain a fair bit.
Weirdness. I just got a spam email with this as the entirety of the message:
backstitch betony, carrel compost beware, callous contiguity. didactic dexter amoco anathema charisma dobbs assign. airway bonanza anthracnose blomquist collateral batik atlas ditto dildo alpenstock codon congratulatory briefcase. barrack collector bermuda cert bowl darrell alphonse fred thompsn
Meaning? I have no earthly idea.
Gratuitous Episco-Blogging, Political Hymnody Division
We missed attending church this past Sunday, not getting home in time from our mini-vacation. However, a friend and fellow disgruntled parishioner was good enough to save the program for my amusement.
As I believe I've mentioned before, my church generally takes the Uncle Owen it's-all-such-a-long-way-from-here tack regarding the various political issues roiling the ECUSA today. However, I've noticed in recent months a slight strengthening of what might be called the feminist chord. You know, a heightened emphasis on the role of the women surrounding Jesus. We haven't yet reached the women-were-the-real-early-heart-of-the-Church-but-were-quashed-by-the-Patriarchy stage yet, but we're not all that especially far off, either. I strongly suspect that all this ties in with the elevation of Her High Priestessness, and that if peremptory orders about this sort of thing weren't handed down straight from the ECUSA's 815 HQ, then strong hints were.
But back to this Sunday. Also as a general rule, we don't wander very far away from the standard hymns. Yet this time, either because it was Father's Day or in spite of the fact that it was Father's Day, somebody felt compelled to insert into the service a little ditty from "Voices Found," a 2003 addition to the O-fficial repertoire which, in the words of the Church's publishing branch:
is a rich collection of hymns and spiritual songs by, for, and about women. The music is written overall in congregational hymn style and is intended for normal parish use. Some music is arranged for women's voices and is useful for women's groups or small choirs of treble voices. The book is a unique compilation of contemporary and historical materials that crosses boundaries of geography, time, and culture as it represents the diversity of the gifts of women and seeks to affirm and expand the spirituality of all women and men as they find new voices in the church's song.
The particular affirming and expanding hymn that was selected is entitled "God of the Women." I won't reprint the whole thing, but the third stanza is an award-winner:
God of the women long put to the test,
left out of stories, forgotten, oppressed,
quietly asking: "Who smiled at my birth?"
in Jesus' dying you show us your worth.
If the Crack Young Staff over at the Hatemonger's Quarterly ever hold a bad hymnody contest, I'm certainly going to use this one as a model for my entry. The rest of the stanzas, though not as blatently political, are equally clunky, artless and full of that kind of passive-aggressive whininess that gives me what Mr. John Keats would have called the guts-ache.
It strikes me that choosing to serve up this particular hymn on Father's Day sends a very clear message to the male members of the congregation: Okay, you can have your little celebration. But don't forget that you're still a bunch of misogynistic, patriarchal, pig-dogs. I am Woman. Help! Help! I'm being -
Oh, you know the rest.....
Gratuitous Sunglasses Blegging
I broke my old pair of sunglasses over the weekend and since then have been searching - so far fruitlessly - for a new pair online. Since when did sunglasses suddenly become so universally fugly?
If anybody out there knows where I can get a simple pair with steel frames and either round or oval lenses, I'd greatly appreciate the tip. Otherwise, I may just have to get used to squinting.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Matrimonial Bliss Division
On this day fourteen years ago the Missus and I took the vows.
Naturally we got to reminiscing about the wedding this past weekend. I have to confess that most of what happened is not much more than a vague blur to me now. I recall that it was hot as hell. I recall fighting with the photographer over her stoopid posed pictures. I recall that the priest (the Missus' college chaplain and a pal of ours) gave a nice little sermon on how radical we were to be taking such a permanent step in a world full of uncertainty and decay. And I recall that the band at the reception - a 15 piecer - really made the joint jump. Beyond that, really not much. The Missus, on the other hand, still retains an almost photographic memory of everything. Everything, I tell you. Right down to what food was served at the reception, which parts of her gown didn't puff out right (whatever that means), who sat where and what she was thinking as she walked down the aisle.
Counting the time we were dating, the Missus and I have now been together for 17 and a half years, and I appreciate more and more every day the generous allowance of fool's luck with which I was born that caused me to end up with her. And although I like to gently tease the Missus here from time to time, and despite my occassional hearty desire to wring her neck, the fact of the matter is that she is a truly amazing woman - kind-hearted, energetic, enthusiastic and without an ounce of malice, pretense or cynicism in her - and my primary feeling after all these years continues to be one of gratitude because I really am not worthy.
As to any words o' wisdom I might pass on to those of you coming up behind us or thinking of taking the plunge, I won't get into a pious ramble about taking the Sacrament seriously and recognizing that in a marriage the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It's perfectly true, of course, but I'm not up for the deeper discourse today. Instead, I'll give you some practical advice: think baseball. As Joe Riggins said to the Durham Bulls, "It's a simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball." And you also recognize that it's a long season, day in and day out. And you remember that even the best professional teams will lose 60 games a season, and that even the best hitters in the league only get four hits in ten at bats, and that even the best pitchers will throw one into the dirt or over the catcher's head from time to time. And you also remember that while hitting a grand slam or pitching a no-hitter or turning a triple play are wonderful, they are the exception rather than the rule and that you will be severely disappointed if you expect them all the time. So you play to keep your averages up. You work for consistent base hits. You work for error-free fielding. You play for the team, not yourself, and you always pay attention to the signals being flashed in from your conscience managing the game from the dugout.
Anyway, that's my philosophy. And it seems to work.
Random Commuter Observation
Hot Llama Action. Right here. Right now. Bleh.
Show of hands for those of you who remember that Bloom County strip where Milo says to Steve Dallas, "It's springtime, and you know what that means."
Dallas's response is, "Yeah, sweating. I'm against it."
Ol' Fred Smacks Down Sen. Reid
...and the nutroots.
How could anyone possibly believe, as Reid charges, that our commanding general in Iraq, David Petraeus, is out of touch with what's going on. Surely someone in Reid's position would know that Petraeus is briefed daily on all aspects of Iraq -- from civil to military. Surely he has to know that Petraeus is a true warrior scholar who literally wrote the Army's book on counterinsurgency warfare.Read the whole thing here.
But Reid's comments are not meant for logical analysis. He proclaimed the war lost some time ago, and the surge as a failure even before the additional troops were on the ground. The problem is that every one of Reid's comments I've noted here has also been reported gleefully by Al Jazeera and other anti-American media. Whether he means to or not, he’s encouraging our enemies to believe that they are winning the critical war of will.
Ol' Fred For President. Because white-flag waving, panty-wearing Quislings like Reid are just begging for a trip to the woodshed.
Thought it was worth mentioning that Fred! is now one point ahead of Giuliani according to Rasmussen. While it's obvious that polls this far out don't really mean a whole hell of a lot, it's interesting that the guy in first place right now is not even officially campaigning. More than anything what this data says is that very likely Thompson's late entry will not be a huge disadvantage.
"Lazy? You go ahead and think what you want to, son. But the Russians don't take a dump without a plan. And neither does ol' Fred. You ain't seen nothin' yet."
June 18, 2007
Gratuitous Wireless Router Bleg
We had a big thunderstorm a week ago last Friday, and since then our wireless router here at Stately LLama Manor has been on the fritz. The laptop's wireless works, and the cable modem works (when you plug the line straight into the Mac, no problemo). The router will work for exactly 20 minutes--I unplug it, wait ten seconds, re-plug it in, and for exactly 20 minutes a nice, strong, clear signal that gives the four bar signal on the laptop's airport device. After the twentieth minute, the power signal diminishes 50%---it doesn't go completely away, and the computer registers the signal as being there, but it can't/won't stay connected. If I do the unplug/replug routine, it's fine, for exactly 20 minutes.
Needless to say, this is driving me nuts, and if anyone has any suggestions I'd greatly appreciate it. It's a Cisco LinkSys wireless G 2.4 GHZ, and it's been reliable as all get out for the past 18 months.
Happy Birthday, Isabella Rossellini!
Arguably one of the most beautiful women in the world (except when she butches her hair), the lovely daughter of Ingrid Bergman was born this day in 1952 in Rome.
Mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
"Based on the true story" of a bunch of Americans who joined the Lafayette Escadrille in 1916 to help the Frogs fight the Boche, this movie basically stalls on take-off. Even rolling with the stereotypical cast o' volunteers - the cowboy running from the law, the black boxer standing up for freedom, the wastrel rich kid who needs to prove himself a man to his father, the Jebus freak - the story deals with their development so thinly and perfunctorily that you have a hard time telling them apart or even really caring much which is which. There's also a love interest, of sorts, but even that seems rayther flat and uninteresting. Seeing as this movie clocks in at nearly 2 1/2 hours, there should have been ample runway room to generate enough power to put some lift into the thing.
I suppose the big draw of the movie is supposed to be the coo-el effects. Well, I'm sorry: CGI is all very well for spaceships n' stuff, but for WWI aeroplanes it looks cheesy and artificial. Why not get some guys up in the real things to hotdog them around the sky a bit like they did for Tora! Tora! Tora!, which to this day has, I believe, the best dang aerobatic scenes of any war movie ever made. As for realism, I say nothing: Although I know a good bit about WWII aircraft, I really know next to nothing about their WWI counterparts. Judging from some of the comments I've seen, however, the film is rife with inaccuracies.
In short, Flyboys was underpowered, listless and boring. The only thing that got my attention was how much the commander, Captain Thenault (played by Jean Reno), looked like Joe Flaherty. I kept expecting (and hoping) that he would break into a Count Floyd routine.
Alas, no such luck.
Robbo's recommendation: One Yip! out of five. I suppose if you just want to see the battles - less than half an hour all told - you could fast-forward through the DVD. But even then, I'd say it's probably not worth the energy. Want WWI flyboy drama? Read Derek Robinson's Goshawk Squadron.
UPDATE: Aaaaaand, as long as I mentioned him, how bout a little bit o' the real Count Floyd?
Reeeeally scary, huh kids?
Gratuitous Historickal Posting
Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 in which the Iron Dook, in their first meeting, put the final kybosh on the Corsican Tyrant. I'll post what my quote-of-the-day-email-guy says to mark the occassion:
The village sleeps, a name unknown till men
With life-blood stain its soil, and pay the due
That lifts it to eternal fame, -- for then
'Tis grown a Gettysburg or Waterloo.
- Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe (1864-1960) ("Distinction")
You will have heard of our battle of the 18th. Never did I see such a pounding match... Napoleon did not maneuver at all. He just moved forward in the old style, and was driven off in the old style.
- Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (1769-1852)
(letter to Sir William Beresford, 2 July 1815)
Thou fateful Waterloo,
Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
Their children's lips shall echo them, and say --
"Here, where the sword the united nations drew,
Our countrymen were warring on that day!"
And this is much, and all which will not pass away.*
- George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) (Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto II, 35)
Today is the 192nd anniversary of the battle of Waterloo in 1815, in which British forces under the Duke of Wellington and the Prussians under Field Marshall Blücher decisively defeated the French under Napoleon to end the "Hundred Days Campaign." After the allies took Paris in March 1814, Napoleon was inititally exiled to Elba. A year later, he returned to France amid great acclaim, re-entered Paris, declared himself emperor again, and retook command of the French armies to renew the struggle. Four days after the debacle at Waterloo - which Wellington described as "the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life" - Napoleon abdicated again and was sent into final exile on St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died in 1821.
Let American poet Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) have the last word, in "Grass":
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work --
I am the grass; I cover all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
I am the grass.
Let me work.
* N.B. This passage was quoted by Winston Churchill to President Franklin Roosevelt in choosing the phrase, United Nations, to designate the victorious powers in World War II.
"I Am Both Muslim and Christian"
So says one Ann Holmes Redding of Seattle, a practicing Muslim of 15 months and an (you guessed it) Episcopal priest for 20 years.
Redding's views, even before she embraced Islam, were more interpretive than literal.
She believes the Trinity is an idea about God and cannot be taken literally.
She does not believe Jesus and God are the same, but rather that God is more than Jesus.
She believes Jesus is the son of God insofar as all humans are the children of God, and that Jesus is divine, just as all humans are divine — because God dwells in all humans.
What makes Jesus unique, she believes, is that out of all humans, he most embodied being filled with God and identifying completely with God's will.
There you have the basic belief of the Christian Left, one that permeates much of the senior clergy in the ECUSA and is spreading on a daily basis, boiled down into five short sentences. It is, in effect, agnostic universalism. Jesus was a Really Nice Person, so we all ought to try and be Really Nice People. Beyond that? Not much. Insert your own "vision" of the deity behind it all here. Small wonder, then, that when this Redding person became aware of the more, shall we say, rigorous spiritual demands of Islam, she was drawn to it. (Note the response of her diocesan bishop - "Hey, man, whatever floats your boat!")
Sigh. Must we go to the quote again?
“Its drowning all your old rationalism and scepticism, it’s coming in like a sea; and the name of it is superstition.” The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything: “And a dog is an omen and a cat is a mystery.”
- from The Laughing Prophet by Emile Cammaerts, the original source of the line erroneously attributed to G.K. Chesterton, "When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything." Here's a little explanation of the quote's history.
Yips! to Chef Mojo, who sought to spike Robbo's blood pressure with the link. Fortunately, what Tolkien called the shadow of parting has already fallen between me and the ECUSA, so stuff like this provokes nothing more than a sad shake of the Llama head.
As I reported last Thursday, the Missus and I ditched the kids and lit out of town this weekend. We went down to The Tides Inn, a small but very nice resort down on Virginia's Northern Neck, an easy two and a half hour drive away. There we did the usual - rode bikes, played some croquet, sat about on the beach watching the ospreys and herons and generally loafing. Oh, and the golf balls I was wondering if I'd be allowed to hit? Well, there's a first class course attached to the inn, but you have to drive over to it and it's pretty pricey. Since I haven't picked up a club in five years, I didn't think it would really be worth the effort. On the other hand, there's a little nine hole par three course right on the grounds free to anybody who just wants to wander up and start hitting. Not only did the Missus let me play thirty six holes altogether without a murmur, she even walked round with me once. Am I a lucky dog or what?
As for other impressions of the place:
- One of the signatures of the Inn is its tame yacht the Miss Ann. She's out of commission at the moment, having apparently blown a piston, so we didn't get to go for a cruise. Nonetheless, the place is crawling with images of her - prints and the like - and for some reason I was reminded irresistably of the Louisa. I kept glancing down the channel to see if Charlie and Rosie were going to slip in and blow her up. (Only two points for getting the reference because it's an easy one.)
- I noticed a strange musickal soundtrack being piped in the gifte shoppe. It was nothing but snippets, lasting perhaps three or four seconds each, of a whole hodge-podge of different tunes, everything from Puccini to Big Band to the Beatles, endlessly repeating but never getting anywhere. Even a few minutes of it made me twitchy. I couldn't help wondering about the poor gel who worked there - I'd have gone stark raving mad by the end of my first shift.
- Speaking of musick, each night there was a guitarist out by the pool. He, too, played a variety of musick - everything from Renaissance lute pieces to light jazz - but at least he played them all the way through. And he was quite good, even though I think most people weren't paying much attention to him. (Oh, the dog's life of the average professional musician.) Anyhoo, I got talking to him about some of the lute musick he was playing and he mentioned that Sting, of all people, has recently released an album of the musick of John Dowland. A quick peek at the Devil's Website reveals that he has indeed done so. While I personally wouldn't buy it, since I doubt seriously whether Sting's interpretation of Elizabethan musick is really worth bothering, I still find this to be pleasing. Who knows how many people might get interested in the real thing after having heard this?
- The only drawback to the weekend was the fact that a wedding reception was held at the Inn on Saturday evening. We discovered that one of the wedding guests had been given the room above ours at, ohhh, about two thirty Sunday morning when he and a lady friend arrived back there and proceeded to carry on their own private, em, tribute to the conubial bliss of the occassion, complete with a good bit of stomping, splashing (from the tub), and unoriginal although seemingly sincere dialogue. A call to the front desk quieted them down only for a few minutes. The incident awoke the Long Island blood in the Missus, and Sunday morning she had a few choice, albeit polite, words for the concierge on the advisability of mixing in wedding guests with other patrons.
All in all, though, a very pleasant time. And we'll no doubt go back.
June 16, 2007
I know I shouldn't laugh, but....
Arafat's "Peace" "Prize" getting stolen in this way is simply priceless:
Enraged Fatah leaders on Saturday accused Hamas militiamen of looting the home of former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat in Gaza City.
"They stole almost everything inside the house, including Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize medal," said Ramallah-based Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman. "Hamas militiamen and gangsters blew up the main entrance to the house before storming it. They stole many of Arafat's documents and files, gifts he had received from world leaders and even his military outfits."
Abdel Rahman said the attackers also raided the second floor of the house and stole the personal belongings of his widow, Suha, and daughter, Zahwa. "They stole all the widow's clothes and shoes," he added. "They also took Arafat's pictures with his daughter."
Eyewitnesses told The Jerusalem Post that dozens of Palestinians participated in the raid, which took place late Friday.
"Most of the looters were just ordinary citizens," they said. "They stole almost everything, including furniture, tiles, water pipes, closets and beds."
According to the Fatah spokesman, the raid on Arafat's house, which has been empty since 2001, occurred despite promises from Syria-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to prevent such an attack.
"The Palestinian people will never forgive the Hamas gangs for looting the home of the Palestinian people's great leader, Yasser Arafat," Abdel Rahman said. "This crime will remain a stain of disgrace on the forehead of Hamas and its despicable gangs."
The homes of several other Fatah leaders have also been looted over the past few days, Palestinian reporters in Gaza City said over the weekend. Among them are the homes of Muhammad Dahlan and Intisar al-Wazir (Um Jihad).
Wazir complained that looters stole her jewelry, furniture, clothes and family albums and the personal belongings of her husband, Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), a top PLO leader who was assassinated by Israel in 1988 in Tunis.
She said the looting occurred in broad daylight and under the watchful eye of Hamas militiamen. "We don't feel secure any more," she said. "We fear for our lives and property."
The Popular Resistance Committees, an alliance of various armed groups, announced over the weekend that its men stormed Dahlan's house and confiscated a suitcase full of gold, forged US and Pakistani passports and an ID card belonging to Nissim Toledano, an Israeli Border Police officer from Lod who was kidnapped and murdered by Hamas in December 2002.
Following the raid, hundreds of Palestinians rampaged the house and stole all of Dahlan's furniture and clothes.
Too bad they didn't get their paws on the millions looted by Arafat and his stooges.
June 15, 2007
Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)
Since Robbo is temporarily offline, enjoying some well-earned r&r, I pick up the mantle of Gratuitous Historickal Posting for such an austere event as...
...the anniversary of Magna Carta!
On this day in 1215, King John of England affixed his royal seal to this legendary document. Also, known as Magna Carta Libertatum ("Great Charter of Freedoms"), this covenant between the crown and his subjects is considered one of the most important legal documents in Western history. Abuses by King John caused a revolt by nobles who compelled him to execute this recognition of rights for both noblemen and ordinary Englishmen. It established the principle that no one, including the king or a lawmaker, is above the law.
Many of the principles of the U.S. Constitution, including the acknowledged rights and liberties of the governed and the idea that it established the supreme law of the land, can be traced back to this historic document. The major difference between the two of course being that while Magna Carta is a charter of ancient liberties guaranteed by a king to his subjects; the Constitution of the United States is the establishment of a government by and for "We the People." Nevertheless our current system of government in the U.S. is immeasurably indebted to Magna Carta.
Happy 792nd Birthday!
"Knocked Up" - Yet Another Review
It seems like a lot of bloggers are throwing their two cents in about this movie. Since I saw it last night I thought I’d jump in.
You’re probably familiar with the premise so I won’t waste time rehashing all that. I think what struck me most about both the story and characters was how grounded in reality they were. You can argue all day whether or not a knock-out like Alison would actually grow to love a stoned unemployed loser like Ben if you like. Realistic or no, she let herself recognize his positive qualities rather than dwell on the negative. She clearly wrestled with it and was probably as surprised as anyone that along the way she found she did love him.
I saw this with a buddy of mine (also a father of three) and he made the comment that it was as funny as it was depressing. The situations were that real for him. There’s a scene where Ben is talking with Alison’s brother-in-law, Pete, who explains that “Marriage is like a tense, unfunny version of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’. Only it doesn’t last 22 minutes. It lasts forever."
This isn’t a Hollywood fairy-tale where everything goes right. Real life doesn’t work that way. Marriage is difficult. Parenthood is difficult. Long-term commitments are difficult. And there are no guarantees. But are usually enough wonderful, magic moments to make it worthwhile. Every generation learns this. But I think the lesson is a little harder for succeeding generations because our expectations keep going up. And I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t try to oversimplify the situation. The fact is, until the very end, you really aren’t 100% sure how this is all going to work out.
There is a message to this film that is meaningful for all who watch it. Early on, Ben is talking with his father about his situation and lamenting that this isn’t what he planned for his life. His dad, played perfectly by Harold Ramis, simply smiles at him and tells him “Life doesn’t care about your plans. Sometimes it just happens and you gotta role with it.”
The movie starts with an interesting premise. But to make it succeed you need three things: good writing, good acting and good execution. Like the legs of a stool, if one is missing it will collapse under it’s own weight. Fortunately, “Knocked Up” has all three. How many times do we watch a film and no matter how hard we try in the end we just don’t really care all that much about the characters? A little too often, I’m afraid. In this movie, we connect to the characters. When couples fight we don’t say to ourselves “Why do they say such stupid things to each other?” Rather, we feel more like “I probably would have reacted the same way.” I felt the pacing was just right, though I've heard some felt it was too long.
A lot has been said about the “raunch” factor of “Knocked Up”. I didn’t see it that way. In every case, I saw it as guys being guys when they hang out together. Face it, ladies. Men often show flashes of maturity and responsibility. We come through when it counts. But underneath (to varying degrees, of course) we all have one thing in common: we’re not much more than overgrown adolescents. We do and say silly things. We laugh at bathroom humor. We have fun at each other’s expense. We act like goofy kids sometimes. It’s like a release valve. If we didn’t loosen it every once in a while – believe me – you’d like it a whole lot less.
As for the actors:
Katherine Heigl (Alison) has real appeal as an actress. I can’t speak to what she’s like in reality but on screen she is what I call “approachable gorgeous”. In other words, she’s a women who is obviously beautiful but doesn’t act like that’s a given. She’s got a great gig with “Grey’s Anatomy” but if she chooses her next movie roles carefully she could be a huge star - like Julia Roberts, only with actual talent and sex appeal.
Seth Rogen (Ben) is the slacker ne’er do well who can hardly believe that he ended up in bed with Alison in the first place. He’s lazy, unmotivated and fairly self-centered. But we see the sweet qualities that Alison discovers and you can’t help but root for him. Rogen plays pretty much the same role as he did in “The 40-Year Old Virgin” without the self-confidence. He does mature a bit throughout the film and it’s satisfying to watch.
Paul Rudd (Pete) is perfect as the average Joe, fairly straight-laced guy who lets his inner-kid out once in a while.
Leslie Mann (Debbie) plays Alison’s older sister. Mann does a fine job with Debbie’s character arc which allows the audience to realize the vulnerabilities and insecurities under her control-freak façade.
Then there are Ben’s cohorts – Jason (Jason Segal), Jay (Jay Baruchel), Jonah (Jonah Hill) and Martin (Martin Starr). Interesting that the actors all used their real first names for their characters. The sources of many of the laugh out loud moments, these guys are Ben’s support group. And they’re more than just a group of pothead underachievers. They’re true friends and they add texture to the story.
One last item I’d like to comment on is the treatment of Alison’s decision to have the baby. No one feels more unprepared for this impending birth than she does. Her mother advises her to “take care of it” like her stepsister did in a similar situation. “And now she has a real baby”, her Mom says. Ben’s buds even debate whether or not they think Alison should get an abortion (Jonah is pro, Jay is con). None of these exchanges makes an attempt to politicize the issue itself but they make you realize that the decision is a difficult one for Alison. She doesn’t seem to have a particular “moment of clarity”, rather you get the idea that she decides to do what instinctively feels right for her.
I have my own personal feelings on this issue (as we all do) and I don’t like being preached at one way or the other by a movie. The story has more to do with the consequences of the decision than the decision itself. And while that decision is not taken lightly it isn’t overblown. Alison’s resolve to have the baby does dovetail with Ben’s father’s advice that in life “you gotta roll with it”. But it doesn’t alienate the portion of the audience who might feel differently.
As someone who grouses from time to time about liberal propaganda and political correctness in movies today, I know how it feels to experience that alienation. Movies should be about entertainment, not political agendas.
So, in this viewer’s opinion, “Knocked Up” was about as enjoyable an experience at the movies that I’ve had in some time. Guys will like it. Gals will like it. And it’s “R” rated for a reason. So don’t go bringing your young kids along just because you’re too cheap to pay for a babysitter. Let them grow up first. They can watch it on DVD down the road. And they’ll appreciate the message more.
When Squirrels Attack!
Yikes! Here's a Friday story tailor-made:
An aggressive squirrel attacked and injured three people in a German town before a 72-year-old pensioner dispatched the rampaging animal with his crutch.This isn't really the graphic that goes with the story, but I think it goes nicely:
The squirrel first ran into a house in the southern town of Passau, leapt from behind on a 70-year-old woman, and sank its teeth into her hand, a local police spokesman said Thursday.
With the squirrel still hanging from her hand, the woman ran onto the street in panic, where she managed to shake it off.
The animal then entered a building site and jumped on a construction worker, injuring him on the hand and arm, before he managed to fight it off with a measuring pole.
"After that, the squirrel went into the 72-year-old man's garden and massively attacked him on the arms, hand and thigh," the spokesman said. "Then he killed it with his crutch."
The spokesman said experts thought the attack may have been linked to the mating season or because the squirrel was ill.
Hey, did they check that squirrel for a midi-chlorian count?
June 14, 2007
Light Posting Notice
In celebration of our impending (14th) anniversary, the Missus and I are ditching the Llama-ettes in the morning and headed off to a nice little resort in Virginia's Northern Neck for the weekend. I had been having some reservations about the idea of visiting the Tidewater in the middle of June, but it looks like Mother Nature's going to cut us some slack with a beee-u-tee-ful couple days.
Needless to say, I won't be posting. But I will see if I can snatch the camera away from the Missus long enough to take a few suitable pics. And I'll tell you about it (mostly) when we get back.
One of the advantages of having been married this long is that we don't feel the need to be glued together constantly. Thus, I am only marginally apprehensive about asserting that I should be allowed to go hit a couple buckets of balls while we're down there. I reckon I can smooth my way around any difficulty by suggesting that the Missus should go check out the spa while I am doing so. I'm pretty sure she'll consider that an equitable arrangement.
See you later.
Even Ol' Fred Has A Blog
Granted most of the entries are posted by someone else on his behalf, but it's a start. However, I notice that while "The Fred File" has a fairly notable blogroll there's a glaring omission between "J" and "M" that probably needs to be rectified.
Steve, since Orgle Manor is so shamlessly shilling for campaign funds in the sidebar, surely this is an oversight on the part of Fred's blogmaster. I mean, 1 million+ visits ain't nothin' to sneeze at.
There's enlightenment in them thar intertubes!
If you've ever wondered what would happen if the Buddha was attacked by a giant rattlesnake, now you know: Bet on the Rattler.
Buddha, a 9-year-old yellow Lab, was spending a Sunday doing what dogs do in sprawling backyards. After bounding in and out of the nooks and crannies of his Old Agoura yard, Buddha cornered an adult rattlesnake coiled around a planter by the pool.
Going nose to forked tongue with a 5-foot rattler as thick as a grown man's forearm prompted a venomous bite that landed Buddha at the Pet Emergency Clinic in Thousand Oaks for a dose of antivenin.
According to Buddha's owner, Michael Nadlman, Buddha was the fourth dog rushed to the clinic June 3 because of a rattlesnake bite.
"It was a big, nasty snake as thick as my arm," Nadlman said.
Buddha's ordeal is typical, according to Bo Slyapich, a local snake wrangler. Slyapich works full-time nine months out of the year capturing and releasing pesky poisonous snakes from people's homes and conducting free workshops on snake safety. He advises ways to snake-proof homes so the critters aren't tempted to make a summer house out of a garage, move in under a deck or curl up in lush landscaping.
HANDS OFF- Wrangler Bo Slyapich keeps his distance while working on a local rattlesnake removal job. The bite from a Southern Pacific rattlesnake is seldom fatal, officials say, unlike the nearby Mojave rattlesnake which carries more dangerous neurotoxins. Still, it's important to be familiar with the species and learn how it behaves. Snakes do not "attack" humans unless provoked.
"The southern Pacific rattlesnake accounts for more bites than any other snake, probably because there's a lot of them and we build our homes where their homes are," Slyapich said.
It's been a banner season for snake snatching, and the season has only just begun, Slyapich said. "After 20 years catching these guys, I've never seen a season like this."
Record rains over the last couple of years produced record plant growth, allowing the rodent population to flourish. More rodents means more food for snakes.
According to Slyapich, a healthy female rattlesnake can produce a "clutch" of four to 10 offspring, sometimes more. Within a week, the baby snakes leave their mother's side and slither into comfortable habitats in garages, behind refrigerators or in the thick, damp plants that surround homes.
Houses provide ample spots for hot and bothered snakes to take cover either from the cold or rising temperatures.
"They come out in the morning," Slyapich said. "When it gets too hot for us, it gets too hot for them."
Sprinklers also lure rattlesnakes to homes, he said.
The booming snake population keeps Slyapich busy. Compared to previous years, he has had three times the number of calls for snake removal. Last week he was fielding three to four calls per day. Slyapich said he'll answer snake calls at all hours of the day and night.
He started catching snakes when he was child and later turned his hand to catching snakes on movie sets.
After 20 years as a snake wrangler, Slyapich has gone hightech and uses nightvision cameras and fiber-optic scopes to peer into paneled walls and look into refrigerators and vehicles. He even had custom tongs created, allowing for snake captures in one fell swoop. When Slyapich goes on the prowl for poisonous snakes he wears thick boots and protec
Harry Reid: Seditious Dumbsh*t
There's an old movie from the '80's called "The Hollywood Knights" which was basically a California-based "Porky's". It has some funny moments, though. Throughout the film there are these two hapless cops who act as the antagonists to the fun-loving gang led by...wait for it...Tony Danza.
There's a great exchange between the two that comes to mind when I read about Harry Reid's attempt to score political points with the moonbats by calling Generals Pace and Petraeus "incompetent". It goes like this:
Officer Clark: (having just penciled a thin, fake moustache on his upper lip) "Don't you think I'd look good in a moustache?"
Officer Bimbeau: "You'd be perfect. You'd be a perfect horse's ass."
And for Reid to think like he looks good bad-mouthing our military leaders in a time of war makes him just that: a perfect horse's ass.
Military Motivator has the best graphic to demonstrate the absurdity of the Majority Leader's statements:
h/t: to Uncle Jimbo at BlackFive who's words dovetail nicely with the above graphic:
"Harry Reid calling anyone incompetent is like Michael Moore calling them fat or Bill Clinton calling them unfaithful. Aside from the fact that they are both hugely accomplished men, for a thin-lipped, milquetoast, cream in the coffee, cadaver like Harry Reid to mouth off to them is just sorry. To do so simply to score political points with the hater wing of your party just points out how much trouble the Dems are in once the rest of the country gets a belly full of the nutroots.And Confederate Yankee has the section of the U.S. Code that spells out pretty clearly what Reid's words need to be called: sedition.
Woudn't you just love for Reid, Petraeus and Pace to meet up in a Men's room and have the two Men give him a swirly prior to reminding him that he's not allowed up on the porch with the big dogs? Not to rub it in, but hasn't Harry Reid sucked Hoover as Majority Leader? Doesn't Mitch McConnell keep punking him on every gutless maneuver Reid attempts, every slap at our troops, every weaseling about timetables, and Reid has the unmitigated gall to call these men incompetent? Somebody needs to help this pitiful old fool to the sidelines, he's even making me feel bad for the Dems. Well, not really."
Let me close with by directing you to some thoughts from our old buddy Dennis Miller about Sen. Reid.
As much as some people would like to turn this into a "he said, she said" type of incident, the fact remains that Reid doesn't deny denigrating our military commanders. When asked about it, he said: "I think we should just drop it."
That's right, Harry. You can't admit it because you'll look like a horses' ass. You can't deny it because you'll get it from the nutroots you were trying to impress.
What a sad, sorry, little man.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting - Le Deluge Division
On Easter afternoon, as I was furiously scrambling about to get all things ready for the long and festive dins, I suddenly noticed water dripping from a crack in the doorway between the library and the breakfast room. (The discovery so discombobulated me that I completely forgot about putting together the bacon and water chesnuts. I had no choice but to simply fix them for myself a few days later. Pity.)
That particular doorway is in a line directly south of the gels' bathroom, which in the preceding 48 hours or so, had experienced a number of overflows of one sort and another (which I need not go into here). My immediate diagnosis was that the seal around the base of the tub had probably gone, what with the incessent pounding and vibration caused by three sets of young but strong hooves.
And so it seemed when I inspected things later. The sealant was cracked and worn thin in several places. Thus, the next weekend I duly got out my caulker gun and redid the tub. This seemed to fix things, as the leaking and dripping soon stopped.
At least for the moment.
The dripping started again a couple days ago. When I noticed it, I simply grumbled under my breath, reckoning that I'd probably missed a spot somewhere and would need to do just a little touch-up caulking. No big deal.
But wait. There's more.
Last evening when I got home, the Missus was on the phone with our handyman. She seemed to be deep into arrangements and instructions, instructions that sounded far too complicated for just the small drip in the doorway. I asked in her other ear what was going on, whereupon she directed me into the living room. There, in the corner next the piano, it looked as if Niagra Falls had decided to open a branch office. The entire corner was positively sodden. What is more, there was a crusty white film dripping down the wall. I've seen that film before - surrounding the leaks in the three or four pipes we've had to replace in the last couple years. That, coupled with the shear volume of water in evidence, convinced me that the problem went much deeper than overzealous Llama-ettes splashing water out of their tub.
So here we are again. Our handyman will be over today knocking holes in the library and living room ceiling to try and figure out where the bloody leak is this time. Of course since I'm positive some pipe replacement is going to be involved, we're going to have to get the plumbers back as well.
One of the "joys" of home ownership is the knowledge that you're funding an awful lot of other people's kids' college education.
June 13, 2007
Happy Birthday, Dr. Jo Harding!
"You're running the lab? I don't think so!"
Because it's a stormy day around Dee Cee and because I'll be out of town on Friday, I'll go ahead and note here that June 15th is the birthday of that Thinking Man's Babe, Helen Hunt.
Yeah, we love her round here. Got an issue with that? Deal with it.
Drudge is linking to this gem from the NYPost, featuring the unsinkable Bubba:
"Do you think Gore's going to run?" Clinton replied, "Someone's got to fizzle. If someone fizzles, then, yeah, he could enter the race. He's got plenty of money, his own money, to do it." Ostroy predicts: "It'll be [Barack] Obama who will fizzle by September, and Gore will toss his hat into the ring and enlist the junior senator from Illinois as his running mate. An unbeatable ticket."
The picture of Fat Bastard is priceless: he's definitely looking Kim Jong Il'ish these days:
Anyhoo, on the central contention, I can only say this:
But one wonders what must have transpired the night before at Stately Clinton Manor for Bubba to be so, erm, indiscrete.
UPDATE: Aint playback a bitch? Sure, all the cool kids are posting this but what the hell:
"They'll know it when they see it" update
Causus Belli, my friends, causus belli:
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's parliament on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that could lead to death penalty for persons convicted of working in the production of pornographic movies.
With a 148-5 vote in favor and four abstentions, lawmakers present at the Wednesday session of the 290-seat parliament approved that "producers of pornographic works and main elements in their production are considered corruptors of the world and could be sentenced to punishment as corruptors of the world."
The term, "corruptor of the world" is taken from the Quran, the Muslims' holy book, and ranks among the highest on the scale of an individual's criminal offenses. Under Iran's Islamic Penal Code, it carries a death penalty.
The "main elements" refered to in the draft include producers, directors, cameramen and actors involved in making a pornographic video.
The bill also envisages convictions ranging from one year imprisonment to a death sentence for the main distributors of the movies and also producers of Web sites in which the pornographic works would appear.
Besides videos, the bill covers all electronic visual material, such as DVD and CDs. Other material, such as porn magazines and books are already banned under Iranian law.
To become law, the bill requires an approval by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog in Iran.
I love that "constitutional watchdog in Iran" line at the end the best though.
It is widely believed that the drafting of the bill came about as a reaction to a scandal last year, when a private videotape, apparently belonging to Iranian actress Zahra Amir Ebrahimi and allegedly showing her having intercourse with a man, became available across Iran.
The videotape was leaked to the Internet and released on a black market DVD, becoming a full-blown Iranian sex tape scandal. Ebrahimi later came under an official investigation, which is still ongoing. She faces fines, whip lashing or worse for her violation of Iran's morality laws.
The unnamed man on the tape, who is suspected of releasing it, reportedly fled to Armenia but was subsequently returned to Iran and charged with breach of public morality laws. He remains in jail.
In an exclusive interview with the British newspaper The Guardian early this year, Ebrahimi denied she was the woman in the film and dismissed it as a fake, made by a vengeful former fiance bent on destroying her career.
In recent years, private videotapes have increasingly been leaked to the public in Iran, riling the government and many in this conservative Islamic country, where open talk of sex is banned and considered taboo.
However, porn material is easily accessible through foreign satellite television channels in Iran. Bootleg video tapes and CDs are also available on the black market on many street corners.
Okay, here's what we need: Rusty and the Jawas receive a Letter of Marque and Reprisal, and use the Sandcrawler to start flooding the markets in Iran with cheap, high quality faux-ed up porn featuring a clearly identifiable Mack-Mood, a goat, and Golda Meir. Or, if a goat is not available, Helen Thomas. Throw in some dancing nekkid midgets, some Illinois Nazis, and Salman Rushdie in a Col. Sanders outfit and you've got a one way ticket to the destruction of Persian civilization as we know it.
Dirk Diggler, your country calls at its hour of need.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
Henry V (1979).
No, it's neither Olivier's WWII rah-rah, nor Branagh's later Dien Bien Harfleur. Instead, this was one of a series of videotapes produced by the Beeb of all of Shakespeare's plays back in the late 70's. (I remember watching them on PBS in my yoot.)
Nonetheless, if you have any interest in Shakespeare, I'd heartily recommend checking this production out. As with much of the other material coming out of the UK at the time, the piece is characterized by overall solid acting from people you've never heard of (with the exception of Julian "He Chose Poorly" Glover as the Constable of France) and with less than steller production values. (This is a filmed stage production, not a movified version. So no musical tracks, lavish sets or legions of extras. It was directed by David Giles, who directed I, Claudius about the same time.)
David Gwillim makes a really terrific King Harry. The story goes that he played Prince Hal in a production of Henry IV just before this, so really was able to master the subtleties of Hal's growth and change critical to the character. He is, in turn, commanding, rueful, playful and calculating (and is evidently still struggling to find the right balance among them). And while his "Once more unto the breach" and St. Crispian speeches are a bit flat, his treatment of the Dauphin's tennis ball snub is better than either Olivier's or Branagh's. Also, his arrest of the three traitors is a good deal more nuanced than Branagh's, and I really liked his sudden realization that Nemesis might be on his heals in his "Not today, O Lord, not today!" line before the battle.
None of the other characters really stood out for me (although I should give some credit to Jocelyne Bouisseau as Katherine), and a few of them (most notably, Alec McCowen as the Chorus, Thorley Walters as Charles VI and Clifford Parrish as Exeter) were downright flat. But they were, most of them, competent to good, and overall solid. Probably the safest thing to say is that none of them got in the way, if that makes sense.
As for the production itself, like I say, this was a stage version put on tape. So don't go looking for any big battle scene fireworks, because you won't find them. On the other hand, there is an intimacy here missing from a genuine movie version. As for "interpretation", this is a straight-up, straight-forward treatment. No underlying messages or directorial motivations here.
Also, I should note that very, very little of the original script was cut (I only noticed a bit chopped out of the Archbishop's speech on Henry's right to the French crown and some lines of Henry's telling the governor of Harfleur what he'd do if the French didn't open the gates). Obviously, the more you hear from and about Henry, the more complex and deeper his character becomes.
In short, if you want "real" Shakespeare in your DVD player, you should definitely give this one a try.
Robbo's Recommendation: Five Yips! out of five.
Live Free or D'Oh
Oh yes, it's time for some Wednesday Stooopid:
Yips! from Robbo: Friends, I'm telling you here and now that I've got a baaaaaad feeling about this movie. I sure hope I'm wrong.
Gratuitous Art Posting
The Blue Rigi by JMW Turner (c. 1841)
This is cool. The Tate Gallery is running an exibit of Turner watercolors and sketches.
Turner's beginnings were the colour studies he made more or less throughout his career in which he worked most freely with paint, working out tonal perspectives, the effects of light and shade, freeing landscape from specifics. They are like aide-memoires of the very essence of his art.
Rough drafts, if you will, but still fascinating.
When I lived in London, I slid down to the Tate whenever I got the opportunity, there to spend hours goggling at their big collection of Turner oils. Never got tired of them.
UPDATE: Of course, I used to see this sort of thing all the time....
Gratuitous Fins Posting - Daunte's Inferno Division
Aw, Geeze. Just when you think the whole QB thing is beginning to settle down, this happens:
The NFL Players Association filed a grievance on behalf of Culpepper, alleging the Dolphins have breached Culpepper's contract by deliberately limiting his practice time. The league received the grievance Tuesday, league spokesperson Greg Aiello said.
The 'Fins are, of course, trying to keep Culpepper from getting hurt while they work to get rid of him. The good news, suggested by the article, is that the grievance process may drag on long enough to give them enough extra time to do so before the issue is resolved.
Regular reader and loyal 'Fins fan Michael, who sent along the article, has this to say about it:
As I follow the ongoing trainwreck, I am reminded of the scene from a great sci-fi flick, "The Last Starfighter". It's during the climactic battle scene where they are surrounded by the enemy, all of their weapons exhausted and are left to use their last weapon called the "Death Blossum". When its engaged it causes their ship to spin rapidly firing missles in all directions, guaranteed to destroy everything within range. My question is where did Daunte find one?
What's creepy is that I saw "The Last Starfighter" exactly once, when it was showing in theatres 23 years ago and I still know exactly what he's talking about. Does this make me some kind of geek?
UPDATE: Oh, and speaking of geeks! (*Snerk!*)
UPDATE DEUX: And speaking of more geeks!
Gratuitous Llama Literary Observation - Children's Lit Department
The Puppy Killer (I never wanted an Insta-lanche anyway) had this to say last evening:
WHENEVER I POST LINKS TO THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS, people want stuff on girls. How about this: The Smart Girl's Guide to Sticky Situations. And there's always the Smart Girl's Guide to Middle School, which the Insta-Daughter found worthwhile.
As a matter of fact, I just recently ordered a copy of Dangerous for the Llama-ettes. From all the enthusiastic reviews I've read of it, there's a good bit of old-fashioned morality and virtue in the thing equally applicable to any kid. Further, it strikes me that a book like this would be useful in shaping what they will look for in boys themselves.
Random Commuter Observation
Have I mentioned before my distain for Murr'land drivers? I have? Well, too bad, because I'm going to do it again.
Friends, I've driven over a goodish part of this great nation of ours, and the more I see, the more convinced I am that Murr'landers are by far the worst damned drivers on the road. It isn't necessarily excessive speed or aggressiveness (although there is plenty of that). No, it is simply their utter and insane unpredictability. No matter where he is, no matter how fast or slow he's going, you simply never can tell what a Murr'land driver is going to do next. Highway, byway, side street, parking lot or driveway, he has only one rule - to act bat-shite crazy.
This morning's case in point illustrated this rule beautifully. I got stuck behind a Potomac Floral van as I wended my way to the metro. The driver's apparent philosophy with regard to intersections was to keep all of his options open, only deciding which way he was going to go after the last possible second had passed. By a curse of Fate, he and I happened to be headed along the same route, and more than once he nearly took my fender off by vearing back in front of me after having taken a short detour in another completely different direction.
Oh, he did decide to stop and get his bearings once. That would have been in the left-turn lane of a very busy intersection. He sat there for quite a considerable time, allowing the green arrow to ripen into a nice, shiny red.
Goddam Murr'land drivers.
The Crazy Aunt In The Llama Attic--UPDATE: Okay, I confess
The Tasty-Bits (TM) Mail Sack is brimming with inquiries and comments this morning about this pic recently posted by Michelle Malkin:
The truth of the matter is that this is actually our Great Aunt Ruby. She's always been a bit...teched, you might say. We're going to have her put away soon.
Sorry about that. Y'all know where the real Camelid support lies, right?
Vote for Ol' Fred: He's Got Your Orgle Right Here, Son.
YIPS from Steve-O:
The original image of me at the "Zoos for Obama" rally last week in Spokane:
And yes, he even bought breakfast the next morning, the gentleman!
June 12, 2007
Go on over. The plates are amusing. And feel free to stamp the dog a couple times - you know you want to.
Yips! to Dave Barry.
The Tao of Bill The Cat
A bumper sticker spotted outside that made me smile:
I immediately thought of an appropriate counterpart:
Visualize World Sppplltthhh!!!
Not a bad philosophy.
Auugh! My Eyes! They Burn! They Burn!!!
Giving sultry looks and sexy smiles to the camera, 12 Pittsburgh-area women recently posed at Monongahela historical sites, baring it all -- or almost all -- to create a charity-driven calendar. The catch?
The nearly nude ladies are all in their 70s and 80s, driven to adventure by a desire to raise money for a historical society in Monongahela, a small community 17 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
Overcoming fears the priest would walk by during a photo shoot or embarrassing their children and grandchildren, the women -- all well-known members of the tight-knit community -- are now eagerly awaiting the calendar's debut next month. The money it generates will go to the Monongahela Area Historical Society.
"One of the advantages of being old is that you can do anything you want and get away with it," said 80-year-old Lois Phillips, who as Miss September was photographed in the back seat of a 1968 Mercury convertible.
I thought one of the advantages of being old was not feeling the need to act like an adolescent moron anymore, but hey, that's just me.
Reason #1,052 Why I've Cut Back On Political Blogging
Two words: "Campaign Fatigue"!
Inundated with politics long before the 2008 presidential election, U.S. voters are in danger of suffering wearying bouts of the uniquely American affliction of "campaign fatigue" in coming months.I'm not there yet, but I can see it from here.
Experts say voters who follow the news closely are most at risk of the condition striking this year earlier than ever. It takes its toll with information overload, long hitches of unpaid work for campaign volunteers and the all-important undecided voters on the fence longer than usual.
Voter attention tends to wane in between the early debates, major primaries and conventions and, in a contest so long this time it includes two summer hiatuses before the November 2008 vote, fatigue is practically unavoidable, many of the experts said.
Here me now and believe me later, the winner in November 2008 will be the candidate that the voters are the least sick of seeing and hearing by that time.
Advantage: Ol' Fred
Sooper-Sekret Message To Groovy Vic
Usually by about this time of year, I'm in full-scale paroxisms of rage and frustration over the attacks by that little bastard Bambi and his mates on my poor attempts at gardening.
However, as I wandered about the grounds of Orgle Manor last evening, it occured to me: there have been literally no signs whatsoever of deer snacking this year. The buds are still forming on the day-lillies. The stems of the roses that have grown beyond their wire remain un-nibbled. The raspberries, so heavily hit last year, remain untouched. The hydrangia and clematis leaning over the Fort Apache-like defenses of the garden proper do so with impunity. Heck, there isn't even any deer poop in the yard.
I wonder what gives? A quick check on the web doesn't suggest that the good folks of the Fairfax County Guv'mint are doing anything in particular regarding herd control this year. Nor have there been any radical changes in the local topography (i.e., new construction, for instance) that should have any effect on habitat or freedom of movement. It's just quiet. Maybe......too quiet.
Of course, having said this, I'm going to come home some night this week to discover that everything has been razed to the ground.
Yips! from Gary:
Beware, Robbo. Like the modern-BSG Cylons and the Penguins from "Madagascar", they have a plan.
Get yourself some of this stuff: Bobbex Deer Repellent.
It smells like ass, but then that's why it works.
That is all.
Random Commuter Observations
***Starbucks ought to install electronic displays at the barista stations that keep track of all the orders taken by the cashiers - sort of like those flight information signs at airports. This would eliminate a good bit of shouting (on top of the machinery noises and also on top of the music from the CD's being flogged), and might go far to eliminating the kind of drink order confusion I've been dealing with lately.
*** The weather forecast is calling for a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms this afternoon and evening around the Dee Cee area. I've personally increased that chance to 90% by absent-mindedly forgetting to toss the window panels into the back of the ol' jeep before setting off from the Orgle Manor stables this morning. Oh, well. Even if I do get drenched on the way home, this particular suit was scheduled for the cleaners anyhoo.
June 11, 2007
Your Cranky Question of the Day
Is it just me?
Or is it a little bit funny that Seinfeld---a show about nothing, revolving around people who spend all their time yakking with friends in a diner---ends with its final shot of the four main characters in prison, while The Sopranos---a show about violent, narcissistic, sociopathic gangsters who spend all their time doing things deserving of prison---ends with its final shot of the four main characters in a diner, yakking about nothing?
Further thoughts from those fine cynics at Pajiba.
The Irish Elk links to a story about the incredible finish of this weekend's Yale-Harvard Boat Race:
NEW LONDON, Conn. -- After seven years of finishing this race shirtless and forlorn, there was only one way for Yale's heavyweight crew to row yesterday afternoon's 142d 4-mile event. "Go for the throat," captain Patrick Purdy had declared.
And so his fellow Bulldogs did, making up an open-water gap in the final half-mile on the Thames River to catch archrival Harvard at the line and win by a half-second in what may have been the greatest comeback in the history of the nation's oldest collegiate sporting event.
"To be able to come from behind against an Eastern Sprints-winning crew, nobody would have predicted that," said Yale coach John Pescatore , after Yale (19:57.50) had knocked off the Henley-bound Crimson (19:58.00) in the closest race since 1914, when Yale won by two- 10ths of a second.
It was the first time the Bulldogs had won since 1999, only the third time since 1984, only the seventh time since 1962, and the first time they'd done it upstream in 23 years.
Go read the rest. Friends, I was only a minor duffer back in the day compared to these guys, but let me tell you that Yale put in one serious gut-check performance here. My knees and hands begin to ache all over again just thinking about it.
The other amazing thing about the article? The fact that Harry Parker is still coaching at Harvard. Been there 45 years now. 20-odd years ago, Steve-O and I and the LB Buddy all rowed for a guy who had rowed for Parker back in the early 70's, and even then we thought our coach was a dinosaur.
Everybody always said Parker was the God of rowing coaches - it seems as if this emerging immortality is proving it.
UPDATE: In case you're interested in competitive rowing, may I suggest:
The Shell Game by Stephen Kiesling.
The book is an account of Kiesling's experience rowing for Yale in the late 70's (including going up against Harry Parker's Harvard juggernaut), as well as his effort to join the 1980 U.S. Olympic team.
It's been a long time since I read it (some girl stole my copy - a birthday present inscribed from my Trin-Face heavyweight cousin, no less), but I recall that Kiesling neatly captured the beauty and psychology of rowing crew.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
The Last of the Mohicans (1971).
The old Beeb mini-series, not the 1992 abomination. I suppose it's just a holdover from many years of watching Mawsterpiece Theatre as a kid, but I've always enjoyed the dramatizations of this era, which are typically notable for their excellent acting, faithfulness to the original text and poorish production values occasionally bordering on the outright silly.
TLOTM is no exception to this pattern. It is characterized by some really nifty performances by, among others, Andrew Crawford as Col. Munro, and Philip Madoc, whose blazing eyes make him an especially sinister Magua, the Huron villain of the piece. On the other hand, the producers apparently could only afford about thirty or so extras, so the massacre at Fort William Henry, for instance, seems a bit....pedestrian.
This production also sticks very closely to the novel. One of the (I assume) unintended consequences of this is that Hawkeye (played here by Kenneth Ives) comes out sounding like a real prig. If you've ever read J. Fenimore Cooper's original, you know exactly what I mean. When he's not busy deducing the size, speed, direction and favorite venison dishes of an enemy war party from a single bent blade of grass, Hawkeye spends an awful lot of time pontificating about the depredations of eeeeevil Civilisation on the earthly Paradise of the native tribes. In fact, Cooper himself was the son of a very wealthy land agent, attending the best schools and nabbing a diplomatic post in France. He was, in effect, a limousine liberal of his time, and was no more a real backwoodsman than I am. His bloviations through the mouth of Hawkeye, therefore, quickly become ridiculous. (They might not have been so bad if Cooper's prose style hadn't been so bloody awful - turgid, pompous and laborious. And if you don't value my opinion, take a look at what Mr. Samuel Clemens had to say about it.)
Hawkeye's outbursts of Rousseauian piety aside, the story moves along quite nicely and is thoroughly enjoyable. However, if you're a fan of the 1992 movie, you might get thoroughly confused by it, as that film made an absolute hash of the original plot, hooking up the wrong sets of lovers, turning honest, noble Major Heyward into an oily, deceitful coward, and killing off the wrong main characters. I can only assume that the producers reckoned since all the female audience members would be drooling over Daniel Day-Lewis and all the male audience members would be thinking how coo-el the seige of Fort William Henry was (and also because nobody reads Cooper anymore), nobody would notice these changes.
Robbo's Recommendation: Four Yips! out of Five because I've been on something of a French & Indian War kick lately and because, as I say, I have a fondness for these old series. Your results may vary.
UPDATE: For the benefit of the ladies, I was going to post a pic of Mr. Day-Lewis in full homespun buckskin kit, but GroovyVic already beat me to it. Go on over to her place if you want to do some drooling.
Gratuitous Buck Blogging
After the two forgettable episodes, “Twiki Is Missing” & “Olympiad”, we get a love story that was first broadcast on...wait for it...Valentine's Day. Awww.
Ep. 1.20 “A Dream Of Jennifer” (2/14/80)
So Buck is minding his own business, walking around a mall, when he sees a blast from his past – a lovely young woman who looks like the girlfriend he left behind in the 20th century. She doesn’t just bear a passing resemblance mind you. She looks exactly like Jennifer, Buck’s long-lost love. Could it be her? He follows her all the way to the 25th century version of New Orleans, now called City-On-The-Sea.
We even get to see a flashback of Buck and Jennifer just before he leaves for his ill-fated trip in Ranger 3. It’s obvious that they’re very much in love. You have to wonder if it isn’t his inability to let go of the memory of Jennifer that keeps him from zooming on Wilma. When Buck finally catches up with her, she tells him her name is Leila Markeson. Leila is taken aback by his assertion that she looks so familiar but is intrigued by his story. They spend some time together though it’s clear she’s a little uncomfortable with the fact that Buck seems to be seeing Jennifer instead of her. Leila also seems to be holding back somewhat and we definitely get the drift that something fishy is going on.
Come back, Lt. Sheba.
Cast as Jennifer/Leila is Anne Lockhart, who most of the young male audience (yours truly included) had already formed an attachment to from her role as Lt. Sheba on "Battlestar Galactica" the year before.
Anne Lockhart, the daughter of “Lost In Space” actress June Lockhart, has a pretty extensive TV resume of guest spots on such shows as “Airwolf”, “Knight Rider” and “Simon & Simon”. Another bit of trivia I found interesting is that she was Director John Carpenter’s first choice to play to part of Laurie Strode in “Halloween”. Anne still acts here and there, mostly in small roles or as voice talent.
And she still looks pretty darn good today. I admit, I had a huge crush on her back in the day. So this guest appearance made this a particularly special episode for me. Lots of additional pics over at her official site.
Anne Lockhart today. Still a heart-breaker.
Anyway, did I mention that there was something strange about this coincidence? It turns out Leila Markeson in reality looked nothing like Jennifer until she was given an extreme makeover by members of the Kovan race. They had a plan to use Buck to stop a freighter loaded with weapons from reaching a planet they hoped to conquer. The Kovans, led by Reev and his female assistant Nola, pay Leila to play the part but what she doesn't know is that their plan includes using the threat of her death to motivate Buck to do their bidding. Leila of course is completely repentant about her dishonesty and even falls for Buck. And there’s your love story.
So you just know this isn’t going to end well for Leila and Buck. She ends up sacrificing her life to let Buck escape. Buck once again must say goodbye to the face of his love. All right, I admit it. I may have welled up a bit the first time I saw this one.
Overall, this was one of the best-written episodes from Season One. You get more character development in Buck than you’ve had in a while. Of course, it also has its share of cheesiness, including the wardrobes included in Buck’s flashback and the red faces of the Kovan aliens.
Episode Rating: Must See (Anne Lockhart is adorable. Sure, she’s not Wilma but this is the first episode where you actually forget that there is a Wilma.)
Next up: Mindless youth succumb to subliminal messages in “Space Rockers”.
The first post in this series can be found here.
Happy Birthday, John Constable!
Constable was born this day in 1776. In honor of the day, I post one of his paintings of one of my favorite cathedrals:
Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds, 1823.
The thing is a puff piece, starting off with some goo about how KJS, having found peace and inner beauty with the squids, now seeks to savor that same serendipity in the rest of God's Creation, regardless of size, shape, color, behavior or number of appendages. And when Moyers gets into the Anglican crisis, he simply sends down a series of slow, underhanded lobs, which Her High Priestessness gently dinks into short field.
From what I've seen and read of her, this is the PeeBee's style. She doesn't seek to confront or overpower with emotion or reason. Instead, she's very serene, delivering her talking points with an arch, sidelong look and peppering them with lots of soothing little murmers and sighs. If you can manage to shake off this Old Man Willow treatment, however, her substance is really rather horrifying. It's long been said that the Anglican Faith could be thought of as a tripod supported by the three legs of Scripture, tradition and reason. For a while now, I've been saying that the problem was that the leg of reason has got too long, thereby tipping over the tripod. But listening to KJS now, it seems a more apt metaphor to say that she is simply sawing off the tradition leg. To her, apparently, Truth is completely contextual, constantly shifting depending on time and circumstances. So as a matter of course, we enlightened, progressive Westerners are going to see things differently from, say, the Ancients, or from modern Africans. (The Peeb is good enough to opine that this can't really be helped - the African Church's "Truth" is of course influenced by the pressure of Radical Islam and other factors, and therefore naturally not the same as ours. The unspoken undercurrent, I strongly expect from the couple of jabs she takes at PeterAkinola, is that we can't expect very much from people who still believe in the ju-ju.)
This sort of Biblical deconstructionism plays beautifully with the Left's universalist agnosticism. Take the story of David and Jonathan, which the Peeb mentions. Traditionally, their relationship has been looked on as a supreme example of love, but never with any sexual overtones. KJS doesn't attack that traditional view head on. Instead, she says it really doesn't matter - we live in a time of heightened awareness and acceptance of same-sex sexuality, so it's perfectly right that we should view them that way. The Truth we derive from this story is just as valid as the Truth anybody else gets from it, even if these two Truths are incompatible with each other.
When Moyers asks the Peeb what she thinks about people who can't accept this kind of incompatibility, she sighs and smiles and says she's saddened that such people are "uncomfortable". She uses this expression a fair bit. See, there's nothing wrong with what she's saying - all of the tension lies within the hearts of those knuckle-dragging traditionalists who can't or won't come to terms with themselves and with the world around them. At one point, Moyers (clearly implying that he isn't a religious person) asks, "Why are religious people so uptight about sex?" The Peeb responds that it's a combination of ignorance and fear, ignorance because such people haven't been sufficiently educated about the Wonders of Nature n' stuff, and fear because they're uncomfortable (there's that word again) with things that are new or not understood. She also laments what a shame it is that all this gets in the way of the real mission of the Church, which is to do Good Works.
The latter part of the interview is taken up with the standard talking points equating the current issues with those of Women's empowerment and slavery. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
At one point, KJS goes off on an odd tangent about how the Greeks are to blame for the blinkered thinking of traditionalists, how we've been ingrained with a need to look at everything in terms of opposites: black and white, off and on, right and wrong. Make of that what you will. She also gets in a little rant about how the Early Church Fathers felt compelled to stomp on growing female power and influence, apparently out of fear that them wimmins was a'gonna take over everything and ruin it. (I've never read the book, but I was under the impression this was a central theme of The Da Vinci Code.)
One other thing I noticed - In the early days of her High Priestessnesship, KJS sounded a lot like the psycho-stalker-soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend when talking about traditionalists within the ECUSA. "If you demure, we will engage. If you move away, we'll hug tighter. If you walk, we'll run after you. We're going to love you and there's not a damned thing you can do about it!!" That's all changed now, probably because the 815 miscalculated the number of secessionsts out there. Now the line is "We'll leave the lights on." I should think that for a Church so keenly progressive on the matter of environmentalism, this would be monstrously irresponsible, seeing that the odds of very many people coming back once they've left are, oh, about nil.
Yips! to the Colossus for sending all this along. (And sooper-sekret message to the C - received the package and thanks very much. Proper gratitude is on its way via snail mail.)
The Sound of Silence
Sorry about the lack of posting over the weekend. Between scrambling hard to get back on track in the garden, going to the eldest Llama-ette's post-season soccer tourney (they finished 4-2-1 and placed second in Saturday's matches), and dealing with a visit from the in-laws, I just didn't have the time.
Dunno about those other slackers 'round here.
June 08, 2007
What To Do With That Brand New English Major
Start writing forecast copy for Weather Underground:
Those with outdoor activities this evening should keep an eye on the sky and be prepared to seek shelter if threatening weather approaches. Widely scattered thunderstorms will roam the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont region of north central Virginia this evening...with more isolated activity expected across the Baltimore and Washington Metro areas. Meanwhile...a line of intense thunderstorms will be moving into the Appalachians from the Ohio Valley by sunset. Thunderstorms this evening have the potential to produce wind gusts of 35 mph...a brief heavy rain up to an inch...and dangerous lightning.
I've subscribed to this site for several years now, as it simply has the very best weather service available. However, while it may just be my imagination, it seems to me that the forecast language has definitely gotten somewhat more flowery of late.
Random Bibliophilic Noodling
So I'm starting in on George MacDonald Fraser's Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers, a history of flat out Social Darwinism in its bloodiest form, and a nagging thought has planted itself in my mind.
You see, my library has two sets of shelving, one on each side of the room. I keep all of my fiction on one side and all of my non-fiction on the other. (I also try to break things down further by author, chronology, subject matter and other criteria.) I happen to have a great many books by Fraser (the full set of Flashman Papers and a few other works), but Steel Bonnets is the only non-fiction book of his I own.
This poses a bit of a puzzle.
If I put this book with all the other Frasers, I violate the fiction/non-fiction split.
On the other hand, if I put this book over on the non-fiction side (in the European History section), I'll violate the rule about keeping all of a given author's works together.
One solution I thought of was to purchase some other of Fraser's non-fiction works, the better to balance things out. The trouble is that most of what's available concerns his WWII service in Burma and his time as a writer in Hollywood. Even though this is non-fiction, it still wouldn't fit into the 16th Century shelf.
Another solution is simply to leave Steel Bonnets among the floating collection of volumes scattered all over the various tables in the library. These surfaces represent a kind of uncatalogued Sargasso Sea of whatever I happen to be dipping into at the moment. The trouble here is that the Missus has recently started making waves about the number of books lying about. (She and I have very different opinions on whether a "cluttered" library is a good thing.) I fear that if I leave SB out, I might walk in some day to find that it's been tidied into oblivion.
What to do, what to do.
Oh, and speaking of this book, which has to do with lawless, might-makes-right savagery and terror, what do you suppose the odds are that Joss Whedon had these folks in mind, at least to some extent, when he named his own Reivers for in the Firefly series?
Things That Make You Wish For A Scimitar
So I'm standing in a veeeery slow-moving line at Soooper Giyaunt. The next register over, some grungy looking slacker kid, whose voice seemed to have followed me all the way round the store, is buying a mylar balloon with the words "Over the Hill" on it, evidently for a retirement party or perhaps an aged relative's birthday, or maybe even the grajeeation of one of his pals.
The balloon is a little bit on the flat side, so the check-out clerk, who does not speak English terribly well, tries to tell this fellah that he can go over to the florist section to get the thing pumped up a bit.
"Oh, ah...no," says our boy. And as the thought forms in his head, he continues, "Cause, like, the balloon says "over the hill" and the balloon sorta is over the hill."
"Yes? You go florist," says the clerk.
"Oh, no. Like that's really funny. The balloon is over the hill! I like it this way. Ha, ha, ha!"
"Yes? Florist there."
This went on for what seemed like hours but was, in all probability, just a few minutes. Each time Mr. Humorous Droll repeated himself, he thought the joke even funnier. And each time, teh funny, what there was of it, went rocketing right over the clerk's head.
By the end of it, I wanted to slit both their throats.
Just thought I'd share that with you.
Gratuitous Drudge Observation
So Drudge is running an article from the UK Telegraph with the headline Migrants Push Birthrate in UK to Highest In 26 Years....
Amongst other things, the report carries these spooky factoids:
The last decade has seen a 77 per cent increase in births by mothers born outside of the UK, with the figure climbing to almost 150,000, or over a fifth of all babies, last year.
As Britain's demographics change, Mohammed is expected soon to replace Jack as the most popular boy's name. It has already pushed Thomas into third place.
So what pic does Matt use to illustrate the piece?
I'm reasonably sure that neither of these little tykes is named Mohammed.
Maybe I've been o.d.ing on Mark Steyn lately, but this strikes me as an example of wilfull blinkeredness. Europe has a serious, serious native demographic problem, and when you look at the numbers illustrating the comparative explosion of immigrant populations (mostly of Middle Eastern and North African extraction), coupled with almost daily examples of the apparent crumpling of traditional British values in the face of aggressive Muslim agitation, you begin to take that Eurabia Caliphate stuff that much more soberly.
I know, I know. You're saying, "Okay, Mr. Smartypants, then why aren't you more worried about the reconquista of the southwestern U.S.? It's the same deal." Well, no it isn't, not yet. Sure it's a concern, but it's not yet a crisis like Europe's because we still have a healthy native birthrate and, as a country, we haven't lost our collective nerve yet.
June 07, 2007
Gratuitous Baseball Observation
Watching Mike Myers of the Yanks pitching against the White Sox this evening, I'm reminded again of my belief that MLB ought to go ahead and simply ban the submarine pitch. Somehow, it just ain't right.
(And I'm not being biased here. I was a big Pirates fan in my yoot, and even then I thought Kent Tekulve was a weirdo.)
UPDATE: I've had a flood of emails asking, "Tom, why were you even watching the Yanks and ChiSox anyway?" Well, the answer is that MASN, in an apparent exercise in sadism, chose to show a delayed broadcast of the Nats dropping a heart-breaking one run game to the Bucs this afternoon, thus making their current horrific home stand even more, er, horrificer. I'd already read the recap and wasn't in the mood for self-flagellation.
Because I Can
The Missus, who has long resisted assimilation into the Python World Order, recently suggested that she might not mind it if I showed her some individual sketches, just by way of introduction. Well, this is one of my favorites. (Indeed, the entire "Michael Ellis" episode is one of the best the Team ever did, and conclusive proof that they really didn't need Cleese around to be funny.) The gratuitous savaging of Mr. John "Koot" has always held a special place in my family's collective funny-bone.
Tea and pramwiches, anybody?
UPDATE: Not to take away from Cleese, of course. Here's another great favorite:
"Get out the piano ye stupid furry buck-toothed gits!"
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Reviews
The Pirates of Penzance (1982)
The vogue in Gilbert & Sullivan these days seems to be to camp up performances of their operattas as much as possible, the better to show that we're all in the know about how silly they really are. To this end, I've seen all kinds of gratuitous, and indeed abusive hamming, mugging, slapstick and ad-libbing.
As you might imagine, I think this practice is abominable. Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan were quite witty enough with their dialogue and music, thank you very much. We don't actually need a Pirate King doing Elvis impersonations to get a laugh out of their material. Which is why I generally enjoyed this particular production, done for the Beeb in the early 80's as part of a series. It doesn't mess about with trying to camp things up, but instead (for the most part) plays it straight.
Unfortunately, the production has some problems. The pirate gang are uniformely weak and Peter Allen, as the Pirate King, seems totally out of his depth. (He says in the accompanying documentary that this was his first go at G&S, and it plainly shows.) The other major issue is that Alexander Oliver, who plays the 21 year old Frederic, is way too old for the part. He comes off looking like Peter Boyle playing Major Yeats, and at times appears equally befuddled and distant.
On the other hand, Keith Michell is very good as Major General Stanley and Gillian Knight is an outstanding Ruth. Janis Kelly does pretty well as Mabel. And the choruses of sisters and policemen are quite good.
Overall, the music was pretty good as well, although the opening overture was heavily curtailed to fit the credits. Grrrrrr.......
Robbo's Recommendation: I'd give this production 3 1/2 Yips! out of five. Pleasant enough to watch once, but I don't feel any real desire to buy the DVD. (On the other hand, I will check out other G&S productions from this series at Netflix.)
Now if you're looking for a really good recording of Pirates, I can't recommend highly enough the old D'Oyle Carte production with Isidore Godfrey and the Royal Philharmonic. The voice acting is just terrific, as is the music. Gilbert & Sullivan the way it ought to be done.
The Emperor's New Clothes (2001)
With the help of a peasant body-double, Napoleon sneaks away from his exile on St. Helena in a plot to return to Paris and re-establish his empire. Things go amiss and he winds up in the city as an unknown commoner, whereupon he learns to stop chasing crowns and instead to start chasing....his heart. Or sumfin'.
I picked this movie out mostly because I always enjoy Ian Holm, and specifically because I wanted to compare his turn as Boney here with his rendition of the man in Time Bandits years ago. Well, that novelty lasted for a bit, but alas it wasn't enough to keep my interest, and indeed I dozed off at right about the point where the Corsican Tyrant, in his new life, shows his organizational brilliance by generalling the sale of a cartlode of melons belonging to Nicole 'Pumpkin' Truchaut (played by Iben Hjejle), the plucky young Parisian widow who's just trying to make ends meet. I asume that he eventually finds love with her, but I can't give out any spoilers here because, as I say, I slept through the end of the movie.
Robbo's Recommendation: Incomplete data, so no Yips! What I did see - the subterfuge and escape - was entertaining enough. On the other hand, I don't feel any great need to rerun the thing to find out how it ends, as I strongly suspect that the rest of the movie is nothing but chick-flick.
Gratuitous Lunchtime Observation
Once or twice a week these days, I just pick up a salad for lunch. Each time I do, I catch myself feeling very slightly smug.
Does this mean I'm heading down the road to Crunchy Conville? Or is it just impending middle age?
If I start linking to a lot of Rod Dreher articles or saying enthusiastic things about AARP discounts all of a sudden, please feel free to shoot me.
Die Zauberflöte Watch
As I noted previously, I attended the big end-of-term celebration at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method yesterday, one of the highlights of which was the lower elementary presentation of Mozart's Magic Flute, the nine year old Llama-ette serving double duty as The Queen of the Night and one of her attendants and the seven year old appearing as both a bird and a spirit of fire.
Weeeeeell, I couldn't help thinking that in spite of the fact that a) this was a very stripped-down version of the opera, with only three sung bits and mostly spoken dialogue, b) it was served up by a pack of young children, and c) I was having a hard time concentrating because I had a very hot, bored and squirmy five year old on my lap, really when you came down to it, this production was no sillier or more incomprehensible than the full-blown original.
[Ducks to avoid fruit thrown in outrage by Mozart lovers.]
Really, I've never warmed up to this opera the way I have with the great Mozart/Da Ponte collaborations. Part of it is the story itself - I've not much interest in silly Masonic fairy-tales and find myself drumming my fingers in irritation at frequent intervals. The other part is the fact that the opera is in German, a language that I consider to be both ugly and barbaric, reminiscent of cold, dismal swamps, fog-shrouded and wolf-haunted forests and bands of wild-haired, mead-sodden savages ambushing Roman Legionnaires.
"Varus! Give me back my Eagles!"
[Ducks even further to avoid rotten fruit thrown by Masons and Deutchophiles.]
June 06, 2007
Oh, I'm SO looking forward to the resolution of this story!
Almost as good as the story a couple of months back about Canadian and Danish "navy" ships tangling over Santa's Village Atoll in the Arctic Ocean:
MADRID (Reuters) - Spain may send its navy to stop and search two U.S. boats suspected of carrying treasure from ancient shipwrecks belonging to Spain, Culture Minister Carmen Calvo said on Tuesday.
A judge in Cadiz has issued search warrants for the Odyssey Explorer and Ocean Alert, two boats belonging to the company Odyssey Marine Exploration, newspaper El Pais reported on its website.
Calvo told state radio she had received the backing of Defence Minister Jose Antonio Alonso to use Spanish troops to intercept the boats if necessary.
"Put in very simple terms, Spanish and international laws protect us and if anything against the law has occurred, we will respond and what was ours will be returned to Spain," she said.
Last month, Odyssey announced it had recovered half a million silver coins and hundreds of gold coins from the Atlantic in the biggest colonial-era shipwreck recovery of its kind.
However, it refused to say where the haul had come from.
Since Spanish authorities cannot intercept the U.S. boats while they remain in the military port in British-controlled Gibraltar at the southern tip of Spain, the Civil Guard is waiting for them to enter Spanish waters.
Why are they doing this? Why, the Vatican ordered them to, to protect Illuminati Secrets that went down with the Galleons centuries ago about how ancient astronauts came to the Incas, but forgot to leave them any technology capable of fending off Spanish rats and lice.
With Ol' Fred gearing up to get into this race, I've always felt that his looming presence would displace one of the "Big Three". It's starting to look very much like John McCain will likely be the one displaced.
Now Sen. McCain and I go back a ways in that he is the reason why I registered as a Republican in 2000. Prior to that (as many of you may already know) this Ex-Donk was officially unaffiliated during most of Clinton's second term. But that's another story.
So having watched his candidacy and career fairly closely over the last seven years I can't say as I'm completely surprised that by this turn of events. McCain has a great story, an inspirational one in fact. But as the convential wisdom goes, John McCain is a great American, a lousy Senator and an awful Republican. The excitement his candidacy once generated ran it's course a while ago.
It really boggles my mind how this man - in words and deeds - seems to have gone out of his way to alienate himself from his party while still convincing himself that he's the best guy to lead it.
If McCain earned the nomination, I'd vote for him. I believe he's personally a swell guy, he can attract enough independents to win and he "gets it" when it comes to the threat we're facing. The stakes are just too high to risk allowing a Democrat in the White House for maybe the next eight years. But with all the alternatives - Guiliani, Romney and, yes, Ol' Fred - I can't imagine McCain getting it.
Rudy Giuliani's leadership abilities seem to offset some people's reservations about his stance on social issues. The more that people see of Mitt Romney, the more they like him (as this Frank Luntz analysis seems to confirm). And the lastest word is that Fred raked in $220
Million Thousand in online donations over 18 hours.
McCain is as known a quantity among Republican voters as you can have. And I think many of them have been giving him chance after chance to show them that he's the guy. And everytime he ended up disappointing them. Me, included.
Oh, and apparently Steve-O has already installed the Fred-a-palooza donation bot in the sidebar. In case you want to add to that $220,000.
Brain Fart Alert!
Did I say $220 Million? Sorry 'bout dat. In my world I abbreviate "thousand" with the Roman numeral 'M', rather than 'K' (screw the metric system) - as in $220M. That's what I pictured in my head as I typed and somehow it ended up as million. Wouldn't it be great if life really worked like that?
Who was the worst Law & Order regular character?
Jonathan Last accidently is triggering an interesting debate: in the long-run of the Law & Order franchise, who is the worst regular character? This can be either because of the writing for that character or the acting.
How Green Is My QB?
My take? Well, all in all, if he can stay healthy and can mentor youngster John Beck, then in the long run it may be a good thing. I mean, a guy's gotta dream. As for Daunte, well, no offense, but don't let the door hit you in the backside on the way out.
'Course, what the hell do I know?
Who'd a' thunk it back in the days of boring but solid Bob Griese and then sooperstar Dan "Laces Out!" Marino that the Fins would be embroiled in such quarterback problems for so long? It still just seems so....unnatural.
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
I have a bizarre D-Day tradition: every June 6th, I try to head over to Kenwood, the estate down the road from Monticello which is now where the International Center for Jefferson Studies and the Jefferson Library is housed. The cottage right next to the library is where Franklin Roosevelt spent June 5th-6th, 1944---the idea being to pose a final feint for any German spies in Washington by having the President out of the federal city on vacation right before the invasion.
There's a little garden there, and I try to imagine what it must have been like in the early afternoon when the first horrible, horrible reports began to filter in. Most of the trees around the building are quite old, and so were probably there then, their leaves providing a gentle shade, the light dappled on the brick courtyard.
I also try to read Eisenhower's "In Case of Failure" message. If you want to know the real definition of leadership and character, here it is:
Right down to getting the month wrong--July, instead of June.
Cancri Virumque Cano!
"A freshwater crab haunts the ruins of Trajan's Forum in Rome late last month."
The Roman crabs—of the species Potamon fluviatile—were discovered in in 1997. Recent findings from an ongoing genetic study suggest the animals may have been around for more than a thousand years before the ancient complex was completed, around A.D. 112.
Researchers came to that conclusion after the discovery that the crabs' genes are remarkably similar to those of Greek crabs.
"So it's very likely that they were introduced by the Greeks 2,500 or 3,000 years ago, which means they were here even before Rome was founded in 753 B.C.," zoologist Massimiliano Scalici, of the University of Rome III, told the AFP news service.
The Roman crabs' abnormally large size—more than three inches (eight centimeters) long, versus two inches (five centimeters) for animals in the wild—may also indicate ancient roots.
"Gigantism is one animal response to isolation, and it is a phenomenon that requires a long time," Scalici told AFP.
The crustaceans—which inhabit canals built by the Etruscans, a civilization that came before the Romans—are believed to be the only known freshwater crabs thriving in a major city.
BTB, this news, coupled with that about the discovery of a new species of creepy disco frog in Suriname reminds me again that the enviro-cry of, "If we don't do [X] immediately, we stand to lose a quarter of the planet's species!!!" is just so much rhetorical hooey. We don't even know how many different forms of life there are on the planet. Without such knowledge, it is of course impossible to make claims about percentages. (And before you accuse me of wanting to pave over the rainforest, I'm pointing out the dishonesty of the rhetoric, not suggesting that we don't need to be responsible stewards. So thhtppppttt!!!)
Yips! to Gail at Scribal Terror for both links.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. James Lileks:
From rule to cool to Fool, Brittania: the logo for the Olympics has been revealed.
Seriously, what is the matter with people who come up with this? And what is the matter with the people who approved it? Ads that showed the logos have reportedly caused seizures among British epileptics, but I think this thing would make a fossilized femur bone suffer convulsive muscle spasms. If you can’t tell, it’s the year of the London games – 2012. I think it’s also meant to imply a human form – say, a discus thrower, or a runner bursting from the blocks. Whatever it is, it’s an aesthetic catastrophe, and would seem to indicate there’s no one around in the London Games who had the nerve to bark “rubbish, that; try again, and give me a proper logo with some bloody numbers.” I think there’s a point at which people lose the ability to pretend they have any sort of aesthetic criteria, and embrace whatever’s loud and ugly simply because loud and ugly is the style of the times. There’s always a fair amount of coin to be had for dissing the traditionalists, of course; I imagine that if someone submitted a logo with a flag or a bulldog they would have suffered a gentle sneer: still pining for the empire, eh, Smithson. Well, Kipling’s dead. Yes he is. Dig him up, you’ll find Posh Spice’s heel stuck in his heart, the coffin stuffed with I Heart Diana memorial teddy bears.
I won't repost the logo in question here since we Llamas don't much care to get sued by somebody who's suffered an epileptic seizure from looking at the thing. Go on over to El Bleat to see it if you dare.
UPDATE: Just by way of comparison, here's the poster for the 1908 London Games, back in the day when Britain believed in herself:
Gratuitous Domestic Posting - Academic Wrap-Up Division
This afternoon is the big Spring Concert/Graduation at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. One of the main events will be the lower elementary class performance of Mozart's Magic Flute, or at least a severely edited kiddie version of it.
Because there are so many more students than there are parts, each character gets divied up. In past years I've found this rayther confusing, especially as, given the usual run of elementary level plays, I haven't always paid that close attention to what was happening on stage.
This year will be different, however, in part because we're doing the Mozart and in part because it's the last hurrah of the eldest Llama-ette, who will be passing on to the upper elementary class next year. She's landed a share of the Queen of the Night. (She also has a part in one of the choruses.) I am resisting very strongly the temptation to believe that this was a piece of blatant type-casting. Instead, I will simply note that the gel need not dig down very deep in order to project imperiousness.
The seven year old is also in the production. As befits her first year status, she has been relegated to the role of one of Papageno's birds, in which character she is called upon to caw a number of times. Being the sunny enthusiast of the family, I don't doubt she'll knock some plaster down out of the ceiling with her birdcalls.
I am under such incredibly strict orders from all of my daughters not to be late for the performance which starts at one o'clock sharp, Daddy, that I was tempted simply to drive over to school this morning and sit in the parking lot until it's time to go in.
June 05, 2007
Ol' Fred! Mania
The Fred Thompson website has gone live, and the LLamas are on board.
Should be a fun ride.
PS--I love the picture of Fred! that's on the site: I look at it and I realize, you know, these are definitely NOT the droids I seek.
Watch Out For Them Balls!
Rolling Rock's latest internet ad. Priceless.
I wonder if this is what Yankees fans must feel like these days?
hat tip to: AllahPundit
Yips! from Robbo: Okay, this is gonna be mighty obscure, but this commercial vividly reminds me of an episode from one of Marv Albert's blooper reels back in the day when he was a regular on Letterman. Batter hits a foul shot that heads straight for the wide-open crotch of a player sitting in the dugout and looking the other way. Just before it strikes home, another player sitting next to the guy casually reaches over and one-hands the ball. First player never even realizes what (almost) happened. I distinctly recall the entire Letterman audience wincing in unison.
More Yips! from Robbo: Not to belabor the point, but I always loved those blooper reals. Here's a typical example:
What's In A Name?
Over at Naked Villainy, something of a policy tussle has broken out over what to do about the news of the movement for Vermont secession. The Maximum Leader has offered to raise his own volunteer regiment to bring the Green Mountain State back to heal, while the Smallholder asks:
Other than the Maximum Leader, who among our readers is going to kill to keep Vermont part of the Northeast Dairy Pact?
Well, I'm still fairly neutral, although I'd like to see the ML decked out in his new Colonel's uniform.
But what grabbed me about these posts is the apparent trouble both of them are having in figuring out just what the hell to call people who live in Vermont. Therefore, I offer for their (and your) consideration,
ROBBO'S TOP TEN NAMES FOR RESIDENTS OF VERMONT
6. New Hampshire's Hippy Neighbors
3. Quebecois Wannabies
Yips! from Gary:
Secession? Bah, I say let 'em go. The place has become so infested with granola-eating, Birkenstock-wearing, patchouli-smelling hippies anyway. And maybe all those moonbats who threatened to leave the U.S. after Bush was re-elected will make good on their promise and head on over.
I can get my maple syrup tariff-free from other sources.
UPDATED YIPS! from Robbo: This is fun.
ROBBO'S TOP TEN ADDITIONAL NAMES FOR RESIDENTS OF VERMONT
Helpful Llama Household Hints
If, like me, you inadvertently left your corkscrew out in the foothills of the Alleghenies this weekend, a three inch ceiling hook makes a perfectly adequate substitute until you can nip out and buy a new one.
Just thought you'd like to know.
The Way Things Ought To Be
Numero Uno Google hit result for "Llama Snark".
The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven --
All's right with the world!
Happy Birthday, Sheriff Pat Garrett
The man who killed Billy the Kid was born this day in 1850 in Chambers County, Alabama.
I mention it here because Garrett is the answer for a one of the clues in this past Sunday's WaPo crossword that's had me stumped. Well, not any more.
Is Metamucil Not Available In China?
Man eats tree frogs to cure intestinal problems:
Jiang Musheng, a 66-year-old resident of Jiangxi province, suffered from frequent abdominal pains and coughing 20 years ago, until an old man called Yang Dingcai suggested tree frogs as a remedy, the Beijing News said on Tuesday.Okay, check that last line one more time: "Over the years Jiang had added live mice, baby rats and green frogs to his diet".
"At first, Jiang Musheng did not dare to eat a live, wriggling frog, but after seeing Yang Dingcai swallow one, he ate ... two without a thought," the paper said.
"After a month of eating live frogs, his stomach pains and coughing were completely gone."
Over the years Jiang had added live mice, baby rats and green frogs to his diet, and had once eaten 20 mice in a single day, the paper said.
Intestinal problems, you say. Hmmm. I have some ideas.
Of course, this regimen would probably work much better if they were covered in chocolate:
"Well, if we took the bones out it wouldn't be "crunchy", would it?"
I love that line.
Jeri Thompson, working the Poles
Gratuitous Random Narcissism Posting
Lynn S tags us with one of those Tell Us About Yourself memes:
The rules are as follows:
• Each player creates a list of eight random personal facts/habits.
• At the end of your post, list eight people who you want to tag to also do this meme.
• People who are tagged will write their own list of eight personal facts/habits and, if they have a blog of their own, post these rules and their list.
I don't recall doing one of these before, so here goes. (Steve, Gary, LMC, Chai-Rista - feel free to jump in as well.)
1. I love getting the mail even though there is rarely any of actual interest to me. The Missus deliberately leaves it in the box until I get home, just so I can walk out and fetch it.
2. I like to put tabasco sauce on popcorn. And french fries. Oh, hell, and eggs, too. In fact, on quite a lot of things.
3. I can't get to sleep without my head sandwiched in between two pillows. If the Missus ever decides to do me in for the insurance money, she won't need to do any real prep work.
4. I have a fear of latex balloons left over from several traumatic childhood popping incidents. In fact, I won't get into a car with balloons in it. (This can make birthday party runs problematic sometimes.)
5. At the metro, I always preposition myself on the platform so that the train doors open directly in front of me, thus increasing my chances of nabbing an empty seat. (Why more regular commuters do not do this is beyond me.)
6. At home, I simply ignore the telephone.
7. I don't like cats. Nonetheless, cats seem to like me. One of ours insists on watching me shave every morning.
8. I love red wine. On the other hand, white wine gives me a horrid headache. (I understand that this phenomenon is more common the other way around.)
9. BONUS: Favorite day of the work week? Thursday. Least favorite? Tuesday.
So there you have it. I won't tag. If you want to play, you have my blessing.
Chai-Rista jumps on board:
- IMO, If there is an pyramid of action in television drama, Gary Sinise is at the foundation.
- I ignore the landline telephone at home, too. But I answer the swingin' jingle on the cell 'cause only my best peeps have that number.
- I have a perfectly healthy addiction to zombies.
- Bic or PaperMate? Gentle Readers, the implement of writing is greatly important, and it is PaperMate. End of debate! PaperMate!
- I love old medical texts with photos or illustrations. They have to be older than 1960.
- I love to eat tuna from the can, after I cover it in extra virgin olive oil and chipotle Tabasco sauce.
- My favorite time of day is 5am. I drink coffee w/soy milk and write in total peace.
- When I'm buying a car, it's a deal breaker if the air conditioning isn't meat-locker cold.
- Bonus Point: I changed my own flat tire this morning and it was no big deal!
June 04, 2007
Golden Moments in American Political History
In this campaign ad from 1980, Jerry Springer admitted he has slept with a hooker and paid her by check.
Hey, is it just me, or does he bear a very strong resemblance to a certain Knoxville-based blogfather?
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Non-Review
Casino Royale. Tried to watch it last evening but the DVD wouldn't load up. Stupid Netflix DVD......
Instead, for no particular reason I popped in the Llama-ettes' copy of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I still disagree with some of the plot emphases and I feel the whole thing suffers a bit too much Peter Jacksonization, but overall, it has a lot going for it. (I'll pause here to allow those of you familiar with my usual opinion of book-based movies to pick your jaws up off the floor.)
And speaking of which, the Colossus sends along this intriguing article about Walden Media's schedule of future Narnia-based movies. (Next stop, Prince Caspian, some time in 2008.) Apparently WM is going to have a go at filming The Screwtape Letters as well, although how the heck they'll manage that is beyond me.
Well, as long as I'm on the subject of movies, I'll go ahead and play another round of the Netflix Queue Meme. Here's what I have in the hopper. I'll bold the ones that I haven't seen before:
1. The Emperor's New Clothes - Ian Holm plays Napoleon who, instead of being exiled to St. Helena, sneaks back into France disguised as a common peasant and, apparently, falls in love. Hey, it's Ian Holm.
2. Gilbert & Sullivan: The Pirates of Penzance - This is from that series made in the early 80's, which I only dimly remember watching on tee vee. I have read some unflattering comments about the performance, but if memory serves, one of its great virtues is that there is no camp involved.
3. The Last of the Mohicans - This is the old Mawsterpiece Theatre/BBC miniseries, not the mid-90's abomination with Daniel Day Lewis. I saw bits of it when it first aired in my yoot, but don't remember anything.
4. Henry V - The Olivier per-duction from the 40's. None of yer echoes of Vietnam here!
5. Flyboys - Some WWI fighter-jock flick that seems to have come and gone very quickly on the big screen. What the heck, it's airplanes. I'm not expecting much more.
6. Major League - Okay, confess! This is a fun movie. And Bob Uecker deserved a supporting Oscar.
7. Curse of the Golden Flower - One of those big-budget, flowery coo-el martial arts movies, the Starbucks latte to Bruce Lee's Folgers-in-a-can.
8. Mozart: Die Zauberflote - A 2003 Royal Opera House production. The elder Llama-ettes are performing in a heavily-edited kiddy version for their end-of-school concert and I'm hoping they'll watch the Real Thing with me as well.
9. Platée - A French-baroque opera by Jean-Phillipe Rameau. I'm not in the least familiar with the piece, but it looks like fun.
10. Fort Apache - The great John Ford western featuring The Dook and Henry Fonda butting heads over how to fight the Indians. Who's opinion would you trust more?
11. Rameau: Les Indes Galantes - Another opera of Jean-Phillipe Rameau. I picked it for the same reason as the first one above.
12. Hondo - The Dook again, doing what he does best.
13. Much Ado About Nothing - This is a 1985 Beeb production starring people I've never heard of. A little something different from the Branagh Shakespeare-For-The-Masses treatment.
14. The Prince and the Showgirl - Olivier and Marilyn Monroe in a romantic comedy that starts strong and then sputters, but you don't mind the last part because Larry was so funny in the first part. Many of the mannerisms of the Carpathian Royal Family have made their way into the Llama Household lexicon.
15. Dennis Miller: The Raw Feed - I tried his Vegas HBO concert recently and thought he looked flat and off, so I thought I'd give this one a view to see if that was just a fluke.
16. Richard III - Again, the Olivier classic.
17. Reno 911!: Miami - Okay, as some of you know, I have a weakness for watching COPS. I also happen to think Reno 911 is a pretty funny spoof of it. Yes, I know this movie will be completely trashy, but what the heck. A guy can't do Shakespeare n' opera 24/7.
18. Dennis Leary: The Complete Dennis Leary - Will I be able to take a whole concert of the boozy-irritable Irishman shtick? We shall see - I do like Leary in smaller doses.
19. Bob Newhart: Button Down Concert - I've got the old Button-Down Mind album memorized. This is a stage version Bob did recently. How can it not be fun?
20. Rio Grande - The John Ford/Dook sequel to Fort Apache. (Yes, I know about She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, too, but that was a different story.)
21. Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation - Jimmy Stewart and Maureen O'Hara in a little light comedy.
22. Night Passage - I happen to think Jimmy Stewart's westerns get overshadowed by those of, say Wayne and Clint Eastwood. I've often mulled a study of the contrasts among the characters they routinely play. While I've seen most of Jimmy's cowboy movies, I haven't seen this one yet.
23. Murder By Death - *Snerk!*
24. The Pursuit of Happyness - Will Smith in an unusually serious role. I happen to be a big fan of his, agreeing with the sentiment that he has it in him to be the Cary Grant of this generation.
Well, there you have it. Feel free to offer comments, critiques or suggestions.
Happy Birthday, Farmer George!
His Majesty George III was born this day in 1738. Of course his reputation in America is forever poisoned owing to his stubborn, ham-fisted and incomprehensive treatment of the Colonials, but just keep in mind that these things flowed in both directions - the Brit attitude on a wide variety of matters including trade, taxation, representative government and military service was as alien to the Americans as was the American attitude on these subjects to the Brits, and it would have taken a monarch of far deeper understanding, patience and foresight than Ol' George ever had to successfully and peacefully navigate around them.
For all that, George was IMHO an excellent king. He was intelligent and keenly mindful of his duty to his subjects. He was an enthusiastic supporter of science, exploration and the arts. He presided over the rise of the British middle class. And not only did he face down the Jacobin swine of Revolutionary France, he then went on to take out Napoleon, never giving up even though Britain at times was fighting virtually alone. It's a real pity that his later years were so marred by mental illness and his lout of an eldest son. He deserved much better than that.
UPDATE: Speaking of which, I assume you've all seen The Madness of King George? One of my favorites. Not only is the cast, headed up by the great Nigel Hawthorne, superb, but the movie is extremely sympathetic as well. I particularly like the treatment of my all-time-favorite prime minister Billy Pitt, as well as that of those arch-toads George IV and Charles James Fox.
Happy Birthday, Rosalind Russell!
Born this day in 1907 in Waterbury, Connecticut.
I have to confess that the only Russell movie I think I've ever actually seen in the great His Girl Friday with Cary Grant, but durn is she worth watching there. Maybe not the most physically beautiful woman in the world, but she had a certain oomph about her, as if she could thrash you in tennis in the afternoon and match you glass for glass of single malt in the evening, keeping up a steady flow of barbs and wisecracks all the time.
June 03, 2007
Greatest column. EVER.
Read and savor the nougaty goodness, my friends, read and savor.
The headline alone says it all: "Save the planet: Eat a Vegan."
June 01, 2007
Why Buy A Cow...
...when you can swap the one you already have for a bigger penis?
Apparenty, it's Balkan thing.
Serbian men are swapping their prize cows to get a bigger penis.For those wondering, 10 Centimeters is close to four inches.
The bizarre exchange was revealed by the country's top plastic surgeon Srecko Djordjevic who said dozens of farmers obsessed with the size of their penis had traded in their prize cows for larger members.
He said: "The size of a man's member seems to play a big role in our society and the price of the operation, around £400, is almost exactly what a good cow is worth - so farmers are choosing to swap a cow if it means a bigger penis."
The urologist, who is based in the central town of Kragujevac, told the news agency Sina that the only problem had been that some farmers had unrealistic ideas of what they could get for their money.
He said: "Some of them want to add 10 centimetres and that is just not possible - at least not for just one cow."
Breaking: Glenn Reynolds Is A Woman
(Not that I'm angling for anything here, mind you. I happen to think the whole Mother's Day/Father's Day thing is a crock, a pair of phony holidays originally manufactured by the great FTD/Hallmark/Zales conspyrecy, with others joining the cabal later.)
See Fred Run. Run, Fred, Run!
I've heard the yapping that he's nothing more than a GOP Wes Clark and that his popularity will peak the day before he announces, but I don't care. Right now, I'm just enjoying the straight-talk sensibility he injects into the process.
Plus, as I mentioned to Steve-O earlier today, the sooner he gets in the race, the sooner I can slap his bumper sticker over my Bush/Cheney '04.
Vote for Ol' Fred. Come Inauguration Day, He'll Have An Ahmadinejad Smoothie for Breakfast With A Chavez Chaser.
Gratuitous Friday Afternoon 80's Rock Question
This report about the Police drummer Stewart Copeland trashing the newly-reunited band's latest concert performance this week prompted me to float a question on which I've often pondered before:
Which version of "Don't Stand So Close To Me" do you prefer (and I mean the music, not necessarily the video)?
Or the '86 redo:
Personally, I've always enjoyed the latter more. The slower tempo and added effects give it a kind of nightmarish quality which I think goes well with the story line. Others say the faster tempo of the original makes it more "edgy" but to me it just sounds rushed.
(This post goes out to our old pal the Goldmonster.)
Yips! from Gary:
Oh yeah. The redo is much better. It's almost eerie sounding. The original sounds a little too tinny.
Those Were The Days
I've started Douglas Brinkley's "The Reagan Diaries" recently and came upon a passage that really underscored how petty and small the leadership of the Democrat party has become these days.
Included in the entry for Wednesday, July 29, 1981 (having just gotten the first round of tax cuts approved by Congress):
[Democrat Speaker of the House] Tip O'Neil & his leadership called me and with complete graciousness congratulated us on our win.Now of course Speaker O'Neil and company fought as hard as they could against the tax cut package but when it did pass by a bipartisan vote, he was gracious to the President. And he didn't run out to a cluster of microphones on the steps of the Capital to make cheap shots at him and throw some rhetorical red meat to the media and a bunch of tin-foil hat wearing loons.
Now we must make it work - and we will."
Sadly, that era is long gone. Probably for good.
Happy Birthday, Jonathan Pryce!
My favorite never-quite-got-there actor, born this day in 1947.
It's nice to see that Pryce got on the gravy train with the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (and IMDb sez he's in an upcoming George Clooney flick as well), but I much prefer his earlier work with Terry Gilliam, including both Brazil and (my favorite) The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
I sometimes wonder how badly getting mixed up with Gilliam hurt Pryce's career, as Terry G has something of a reputation as Hollywood poison. (Speaking of which, if you haven't seen his Lost in La Mancha, you really should. It's a fascinating documentary on the hardships - often self-inflicted in Gilliam's case - of film-making.) Certain Pryce was reduced to doing car commercials in the 90's (for which he was handsome enough to say in interview that he was extremely grateful for the money). But as I say, he seems to have caught a break since. I hope it keeps up.
Gratuitous TB Guy Observation
I haven't much to say about scary-contagious TB Guy roaming around apparently unhindered by either federal authorities or common sense. However, I can't help thinking that if anybody ever makes a movie about this business, it'll star Ben Affleck and Paris Hilton.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
As most of you probably know, the story of a small-time kidnapping concocted by a hopelessly small man that goes bloodily and horrifically wrong. All the Coen Brothers movies I'd seen before this one had been comedies and, despite warnings that some of you lot had given, I went into this film believing that it was one, too (albeit a blacker one). After the initial realization that it was considerably different from, say, Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski, I settled down and made myself watch it on its own terms.
And frankly, I'm not quite sure I see what all the fuss is about.
I mean, the characters are all played very well (I gather that the Coens like to give actors their heads to do what they will with the parts), and the story (supposedly true) is fascinating in many of its aspects, but on the whole I found a strange quality of flatness that gradually pervaded things until it took over completely. In particular, the police detectiving bit got to the point where it seemed everybody simply stood about saying, "Aw, Jeez, yah!" to each other. And indeed, I found absolutely nothing climactic about the final confrontation between the villain and Police Woman Marge. He started out as a truly terrifying character, but by the end, despite what he was doing with the wood-chipper, seemed as flat as everything else.
Now perhaps this was deliberate on the part of the Coens, a tribute to the flat, cold reality of Minnesota in the winter. Perhaps their intent was to make an anti-thriller thriller. In which case, I've now marked myself as a philistine boob when it comes to the subtler twists of film art, but there you have it: I was still somewhat unsatisfied.
Robbo's Rating: Call it two and three-quarters Yips! out of five. As I say, I could appreciate the craftsmanship, but I'm not sure I'd cross the street to see this film again.
That's My Church
Binks over at the WebElf Report, after a recent horrid family tragedy for which we offer our condolences, has come out swinging with a massive new Carnival of the Anglican Implosion. Go on over and graze.
As I said a week or two ago, it is increasingly difficult to summon up the strength or interest to keep fighting since my resolution to leave the ECUSA. For example, I had meant to participate in a discussion of the draft Anglican Covenant at my own church, but the first session was the night before we left for Maine for Dad's memorial and I completely forgot about it. As for the second session this past week? Eh, what the hell.
For those of you overcome with curiosity about what Robbo does from here, well, this summer while the Missus and the Llama-ettes are off on extended vacation, I'm going to start dropping in on the local Anglican Catholic church. (I know this will inflame some of our RC readers, but at least at this point, I just don't have the whateveryouwantocallit to start swimming. And no, Mrs. P, please do not suggest that I am the one who will be inflamed (ha ha).) If St. A&M turns out to be as good as all reports have made it, I'll start attending regularly.
In the meantime, it happens that we're off to Shrine Mont this evening for our church's annual retreat. Aside from the fact that it invariably rains on our Shrine Mont weekend, it really is a wonderful place to go. In true Palie tradition, the grown-ups sit about with adult beverages and gossip while the younglings roam about playing frisbee and football, fishing and tadpoling and just generally fooling around. My only worry is that the director of the "talent show" will remember my somewhat squiffy promise of last year to contribute an act for this year, because I got nuthin'.
Gratuitous Royal Navy Geekery Posting (TM)
HMS Defence at the Battle of the First of June, 1794 by Nicholas Pocock
Today is the anniversary of what became known as the Glorious First of June, in which a British fleet under Admiral Lord Howe (known as "Black Dick") took on a fleet of Jacobin Swine escorting a grain convoy about 400 miles off the coast of Ushant. The battle ended with six French ships of the line captured, a seventh sunk and the rest driven off in confusion. The Royal Navy suffered no permanent loss.
Although the grain convoy got through to France and the British fleet was unable to capture any more French ships in spite of an intense pursuit, the psychological victory of the British over the Frogs was tremendous. Simmering fears of a Revolutionary French invasion of Britain were quashed and the French never tried to run another large grain convoy past the Brits. The victory also increased in each side's mind the assumption of the superiority of the Royal Navy, an assumption that was to play a major factor in each country's tactical and strategic thinking over the next 20 years' worth of naval warfare.
Here's what I wrote last year to mark the occassion, with more linkies and greater detail about the fighting, the ships involved and the aftermath.
It's been a while since I dipped into my Royal Navy library. Perhaps it's time to start the cycle again. First off, of course, would be the legendary A.T. Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1763.
UPDATE: Speaking of such things, today is also the anniversary of the single-ship duel between U.S.S. Chesapeake and H.M.S. Shannon off Boston in 1813, famous now primarily for the dying words of the American commander, Captain James, Lawrence, "Don't give up the ship!" Here's what I wrote about that fight last year.
In a way, the early American single-ship action successes against the British in the War of 1812 was a direct result of earlier British victories against the French such as the Glorious First, insomuch as the Royal Navy had come to see itself virtually invincible and numerous captains had become rayther sloppy in the matter of gunnery, almost believing that the Brits would win every time as a matter of right. Captain Philip Broke, the commander of the Shannon, was no such fool, which is why he was able to pound the American ship into submission in a matter of 15 minutes.
Random Commuter Observations - Elevator Etiquette
People in elevators will go to great lengths to pretend not to see late-comers scurrying up while the doors are starting to close. Generally, I'm okay with that.
But when they make direct eye contact with you and still don't do anything to stop the doors? That's just cold. And when they smile? Even colder.