July 31, 2007
Moron Of The Day
I suppose this story resonates because I'm off to the Maine Coast myself in a little over a week:
CHARLESTOWN, R.I. -- A vacationer from Colorado who reportedly wanted to bring home a lobster buoy as a souvenir didn't get what he wanted -- but he did get in trouble.
Police in Charlestown said rescue boats were sent out Monday afternoon when a man later identified as Guy Connors, 44, was seen clinging to the lobster bouy about 150 yards off West Beach.
Witnesses said the man had been in the waters for hours trying to get the buoy and may have been in some distress.
Police said Connors was intoxicated, and had said he had never been in the Atlantic Ocean before and wanted the buoy as a souvenir.
He was charged with wantonly or recklessly causing a false response from authorities, which can bring up to a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.
Serves him right, too.
The bay out in front of our cottage is covered with lobster buoys - it is extremely relaxing to sit on the porch and idly watch them bobbing about. One of the things you quickly learn, however, is that NOBODY touches one of the buoys except its owner. Indeed, I've heard tell that lobstermen who have tried to move their competitors' buoys have been hunted down by their fellows and....dealt with. I expect that had the owner of the buoy this guy tried to pinch got to him before the cops, he probably would have run him down, cut him up and used him for bait.
UPDATE: Oh, I forgot to mention that if this guy really wants a memento, most halfway decent
junk shops antique stores along the New England coast will have the nice, old-fashioned wooden buoys. (Indeed, the library at Orgle Manor holds a pair picked up in Brunswick.) Although they're starting to get somewhat pricey, they're much nicer than the nasty styrofoam ones used nowadays, plus no embarrassing police rescue is necessary!
UPDATE DEUX: Speaking of lobstery things, let's end this post on a sillier note. "Don' move!"
Gratuitous Royal Navy Geekery Posting
(Take a swig o' this, me hearties!)
Today is Black Tot Day, the anniversary of the last day (in 1970) on which the traditional ration of grog was served out to sailors aboard H.M. ships. The Old Foodie describes the history of this now-dead tradition:
A centuries-old Royal Naval tradition ended on this day in 1970 at precisely 6 bells in the forenoon watch (i.e at 11 am), when the last rum ration was issued. A black day indeed.
Before rum, there was beer. The sailors ration before 1731 was a gallon of beer a day, which sounds like a lot, but trimming sails and doing things with yardarms was thirsty work. In 1731 for reasons which are unclear but which no doubt have some economic rationale, half a pint of rum was made equivalent to the gallon of beer, thus starting off almost a decade of rum-bliss for H.M’s sailors. The slide down to the dreadful day in 1970 began in 1731 when (for the cited reason of drunkenness) the ration was ordered to be mixed with water to the ratio of a quart of water to half a pint of rum, and doled out in two instalments each day; in 1740 the ration was further polluted with sugar and lime.
Naval men stoically made the best of it, as they still do, although one wonders what the officers now use for their traditional noontime toasts. The ritual was (is?) to toast first, the reigning monarch, and secondly:
on Monday “Our ships at sea”
on Tuesday “Our men”
on Wednesday “Ourselves”
on Thursday “A bloody war and quick promotion”
on Friday “A willing soul and sea room”
on Saturday “Sweethearts and wives, may they never meet”
on Sunday “Absent friends and those at sea”
Go read the rest of the linkied post for a description of rum pudding and other rum recipes.
Of course, in my book, anything that goes against the immemorial custom of the Service is to be regarded with deep suspicion and hostility. However, before one of you throws Winston's quote about "rum, sodomy and the lash" at me, I will say that given the difference in harshness between the average sailor's life back in the day and now, and given the different tasks which sailors must perform today which often emphasize brain-work much more than brute force, I'm not sure there isn't a logic to this move. Doesn't mean I approve of it, just that I understand it.
UPDATE: Here's a nice little honor. We Llamas have made it on to the blogroll of The Beagle Project, an enterprise devoted to celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin by building and sailing a replica of HMS Beagle (the ship that carried him on his scientific expedition in the 1830's) around the world. Very coo-el.
I plan to cross-post about this over at The Dangerous and Daring Blog for Boys and Girls as soon as I can find or remember my furshlugginer Google password, which I seem to have lost somehow. Drink, I suppose.
Surrender Dubya! Donks Strike Again
T'other day, in musing on the whole TNR/Rochabeuchamp kerfluffle, I said:
Frankly, I dunno what to make of this guy yet, nor of TNR's apparent decision to hustle his dispatches out without, you know, fact-checking them or anything. Ace and Dan Reihl have been all over the coverage, and I like Hugh Hewitt & Mark Steyn's theory that TNR's actions are a sign of panic among the Surrender Dubya! crowd in Washington that good news about the surge is starting to get out and might sap war opposition.
This provoked our house gadfly LB Buddy to ask, "You do realize this is fantasy, don't you?"
Meb, but if so, then I'm playing the same Level Twenty Cynic with Plus Five Machiavellian Hit Points character as is the House Majority Whip:
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Monday that a strongly positive report on progress on Iraq by Army Gen. David Petraeus likely would split Democrats in the House and impede his party's efforts to press for a timetable to end the war.
Clyburn, in an interview with the washingtonpost.com video program PostTalk, said Democrats might be wise to wait for the Petraeus report, scheduled to be delivered in September, before charting next steps in their year-long struggle with President Bush over the direction of U.S. strategy.
Now I will withhold aiming neener neeners at LB Buddy because not only is he a former teammate of mine, he's also a gen-u-ine principled pacifist. However, I emphasize again the sentiment of my previous post: for some, perhaps a great many Democractic politicians in Dee Cee, foreign policy is being driven not by a desire to protect the national interest, but by a desire to take down the President at all costs. I find this utterly contemptible.
Gratuitous Bachelor Llama Posting - Waypoint Update
The Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack is stuffed with letters much like this one:
How's that swinging, hedonistic, temporary freedom thing working out for ya? Been stayin' up all night playing Age of Empires III and watching Conan-fests on DVD? Been playin' 36 holes of golf every weekend? Been sneakin' off to Nats games or the local bar after work? And what happened with that Llama Recipe meme?
Details, man! Details!
Welllllllll, truth be told, I really haven't done much more than drift for the past, what, ten days or so. This frequently happens when the Missus and the gels leave and I suppose it is really a matter of conditioning: they've become the trade winds of my life, if you will, and their departure often leaves me in the doldrums, my bowsprit boxing the compass and my masts threatening to roll themselves out on the long, oily swell. [Ed. - Uh, I've got Mr. O'Brian on line two and he's kinda steamed about the direction your prose is taking.] I feel enervated and listless, and unless I've got a very specific agenda of projects and/or playdates mapped out ahead of time (which I failed to do this year), I usually wind up simply sitting about and reading, too tired even to get up the energy to go to bed. (Of course, the beastly summer weather and the fact that I've now slid into my own pre-vacation apathy probably contribute as well.)
So far from living the life of Reilly, I've pretty much confined myself to keeping Orgle Manor running at minimum power, taking care of the cats and fish and making sure the houseplants don't die from lack of water. Not much more. In short, I have been an extraordinarily boring Llama all this time.
Oh, and as for the recipe thing, well, that plan got caught in my motivational brown-out as well, but don't worry - you folks sent in some excellent suggestions, and I can't see any reason whatever not to use them once the family is all back together and I am running at something closer to normal power.
(BTW, speaking of the Llama-ettes, I can't help noting that the nine year old reported scoring her first bullseye at archery yesterday, about which she was immensely pleased with herself. You could almost feel the pride radiating through the phone. Yip! Yip! Indeed.)
July 30, 2007
OK, I'm sure no one has really been asking that question but I have been posting fairly light lately. I've got relatives visiting from out of state for a bit (and no, they're not staying with me) and it's become necessary to cash in on some of that vacation time I've been holding back. I plan on simultaneously spending some quality time with them and tiddying up at Casa De La Ex-Donk for when they're scheduled to pop in for the obligatory visit later this week.
To add insult to injury, my fridge is on the outs. The freezer works just fine but the fan for the other part is kerflooey and now I have to spend time figuring out if I should fix it or trash it. Had it been the freezer that had gone kerflooey I could have made do with the big stand-up freezer in my basement. But, noooooo. Now I'll have to squeeze all my dairy products into one of those little brown beer fridges you have when you're in college for the time being.
And the kids are no longer doing camps and summer activities. It's them dog-days of summer in spades.
So needless to say my free time for posting will be pretty tight over the next week or so. I'll try to check in now and again.
Happy Birthday, Lisa Kudrow!
Born this day in 1963 in Encino, CA
Far and away my favorite Friends girl. The least neurotic, the least pretentious and the best sense of humor of the three.
Yips! from Robbo: Yes, and alas look where it's got her. [Crickets]
At the risk of setting you off (and why you didn't make some kind of plug in favor of Dr. Melissa "We Got Cows!" Reeves to my Jo Harding post below I dunno), I will just say that on a purely skin-deep level I happened to think that Jennifer Anniston was the pretties of the lot.
That's My Church! Inadvertent Truthiness Division
Yep, pretty much says it all, although I don't believe that is the intent:
This Sunday, being a clown earns you a special blessing at Hickory Neck Episcopal Church in Toano [Virginia].
Big red noses, supersized rubber shoes and frizzy wigs will fill pews for the seventh year at one of the few church services in the country to recognize International Clown Week.
But the "Blessing of the Clowns" service isn't just about thick painted smiles and polka-dotted jumpers — the gospel message will also be given by the clowns in the form of a skit.
[INSERT YOUR OWN TEC CRISIS JOKE HERE]
As a matter of fact, a couple of our older parishioners came up to me yesterday after our service and asked when I was going to be posting again about the impending TEC implosion. I more or less shrugged - it's the slowest time of the year and our parish dreams in a false peace (as I believe Tolkien said of Ithilien before Sauron unleashed his assault on Gondor). As a matter of fact, I was musing at the time on the fact that ushering summer services is always a breeze because the only people who show up are the regulars, and they both are better about picking up their trash from the pews and also know what they're doing when they come up for Communion, so do not need much attendance.
No, the balloon will really go up at the end of September when TEC officially and formally tells the Anglican Communion to go to hell. After that there will be lots of jockeying about who is going to boycott the Lambeth Conference next spring and why and What It Will All Mean to the continued legitimacy of the Communion. Also, I expect we'll see some kind of preliminary ruling on the Diocese of Virginia's continued legal blitz against the secessionist parishes. It'll be tolerable hot fall, I'm thinking.
I expect our parish will wake up to what's going on when it starts trying to hit up the regulars for money just about the same time that the noozpapers start splashing frontpage headlines about the crackup. All I can say is that I'm awfully glad I'm not on the stewardship committee.
So the Greenland Ice Sheets aren't melting after all. . .
from your federal guv'mint, via the fine folks at NRO (yet again).
Single payer health care
from a Canadian's point of view. Via NRO.
What Would Jo Harding Do?
Idly watching a couple of tee vee shows about tornadoes on the National Geographic channel last evening, I was surprised a bit by how far out of the loop I have become regarding meteorlogical jargon. For instance, one of the phrases that was being bandied about by the storm-chasers in these programs was "rear flank downdraft" or "RDF" which Wikipedia defines as:
The rear flank downdraft or RFD is a region of dry air wrapping around the back of a mesocyclone in a supercell thunderstorm. These areas of decending air are thought to be essential in the production of many supercellular tornadoes. Large hail within the rear flank downdraft often shows up brightly as a hook on weather radar images, producing the characteristic hook echo, which often indicates the presence of a tornado.
There is also a "forward flank downdraft" distinguishable not just by its relative position within the storm, but also by the fact that it is composed of cooler and moister air.
When I was a kid, I was fascinated by meteorology (in fact, I wanted to be a meteorologist) and read every book I could get my hands on regarding tornadoes in particular, and supercell thunderstorms in general. Of course, this was back in the early 70's, when detailed scientific knowledge of the workings of these wonders amounted to what is technically known as "bupkiss". My impression is that what we know about them has spiked significantly in the past, oh, ten years or so, particularly with the advent of more sophisticated Doppler radar and the like. (Mmmm....Doppler radar.....Mmmmmm.....) If I were ever to get back into it on the informed layman's level, I suppose I'd have an awful lot of catching up to do. Anybody know a good, recent book on the subject?
The other thing that occurred to me again whilst watching these shows was how much I'd like to try going on one of those storm-chasing tours, although judging from some of the footage, it seems there are so damn many chasers now that one would spend more time dodging traffic than actually getting to watch the weather.
Bottom news story
Mondale thinks Cheney's tenure as vice president has been a power grab. Who cares what this tired, Sixties-era lib thinks? The influence of a vice president is a direct function of the confidence the president has in him. The current VP, more than any of his predecessors (especially Mondale) was and is ready for the top job. The fact he is not interested in the nomination probably makes him even more influential.
July 28, 2007
Seriously Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)
The first part of my musickal listening this evening consisted of Mozart's Symphony No. 38 in D (the "Prague") and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A.
I will disclose right away that I believe Mozart's "Prague" Symphony to be the absolute apex of the Classical style, and that I much prefer the Classical to the Romantic or even the proto-Romantic. Nonetheless, I can't help wondering:
1) Mozart was, as you know, only 35 when he died in 1791. Imagine had he lived another thirty-odd years: what would his impact on the development of serious musick been? I cannot even begin to calculate it. Would Beethoven even had had a look in, given that kind of competition?
2) While I recognize Beethoven's genious, I can't help recognizing that he uses much broader brush strokes to paint his ideas than does Mozart. I also recognize that this is a function of his time, temperment and development, in that he followed on motiffic ideas formulated both by Haydn and Mozart (and, of course, got caught up in the sentiments of the Romantic movement). But I can't help wondering what would have happened had he been an actual contemporary of Mozart, instead of being, what, twenty five years his juinor. Given his temperment, would we even have heard of him?
3) I plan to finish up with Brahms' First Symphony, sometimes called "Beethoven's Tenth" because it brought together the Romantic temperment with Classical rigor. I dunno why I mention this except that I feel it is connected with the two questions I pose above.
4) On a somehwat related subject, I had thought of listening to Bach's Mass in B-Minor and/or Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers to the Blessed Virgin, both because I love the music and because of the religious content. However, seeing as I have both a full glass of wine and a seegar, it struck me that this might be a bit profane. What say you, Father M and my other spirititual advisors: what is the proper decorum for listening to sacred musick in private? Would God mind awfully if I chipped in on the Gloria with my pathetic baritone were I to be so encumbered?
UPDATE: Longtime Llama pal Hucbald dropped these comments in the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack:
1) I have tackled this subject several times. Young Beethoven idolized Mozart and was dying to study with him. With Mozart's untimely death, Beethoven turned to Haydn, who had taught Mozart quite a bit. This match did not work at all, because Haydn was not a rigorous pedagogue, and that's what Beethoven wanted. Beethoven then turned to the theorist Johann Georg Albrectsberger for lessons, and this was - quite literally, I think - a match made in heaven.
Albrectsberger was a master of counterpoint - a far superior master
of counterpoint than Haydn - and we have him to thank for Beethoven's
craggy fugatos and wild-ride scherzos (Epitomized by the scherzo of
the ninth symphony).
Mozart, however, had studied with Padre Giambattista Martini, who was
the Albrectsberger of is day, and we have Martini to thank for the
finale of the Jupiter symphony, which is five part invertible
counterpoint in the manner of a fugue subject and four
countersubjects, but in the sonata process of a symphonic movement,
which was totally unique at that time. So, if Beethoven HAD gotten
to study with Mozart, he may have picked up on that thread anyway
(Which he did under Albrectsberger's influence, but in a different
way than Mozart did). In any event, my opinion is that Beethoven's
personality was so forceful that had Mozart lived, Beethoven would
have flourished anyway. But, we'll never know, of course.
2) Beethoven is really not a Romantic Music figure, in the strict
sense. He was kind of on the cusp between the two eras, and
obviously deeply influenced the Romantic movement in music (Schubert
practically memorized everything Beethoven wrote: Talk about a giant
who died young, Schubert was just 31!). Liszt transcribed the
Beethoven symphonies for solo piano, and so was intimately familiar
with them - the list goes on (Get the Katsaris recording of these
transcriptions: It's amazing). Like I said above, I don't think
Mozart or a hundred Mozarts could have stopped a force of nature like
Beethoven, but that's just me: I think he's hands-down the greatest
composer of all time.
3) Brahms practically lived in mortal fear of Beethoven's legacy,
and didn't write his first symphony untl he was about 42 years old,
if memory serves. I think he would have been a better composer if he
hadn't been so insecure, and frankly, I don't think he did his best
work in the symphonic forms. The third and fourth are the only ones
I really listen to anymore. The first one really does sound like
Beethoven through the eyes of Brahms to me. His Violin Concerto,
however, is IMO the best of all violin concerti (But there's a LOT of
competition there, so I don't mind if some disagree, of course).
4) I listen to sacred music sober, which is all too seldom, on both
I don't really disagree with anything Hucbald says. However, I have the following additional observations:
1) The conversation here hints that counterpoint continued to be the apex of musickal invention. But let me ask this: is it unreasonable to believe that Mozart might have reached a point when he decided that counterpoint had said all that it could say and made a conscious effort to strike out in a new musickal direction? And if so, can we even begin to guess what that direction might have been?
2) I heartily agree that Beethoven was not a true "Romantic". In fact, I think it's fair to say that he represented, as the great musickal scholar Charles Rosen maintains, the last extension of a branch of the Classical musickal tree budding from Haydn and leading through Mozart. Even Beethoven himself recognized that the main trunk, if you will, was growing in a different direction in his time, passing from figures such as Hummel up through Chopin and others.
3) I don't dislike Schubert, but truth be told, I don't see the same spark of genius in him that I see in the giants of the High Classical period. I think he had it in him to be the master of a set style, but I don't get the sense that he had the brilliance to forge a musickal language of his own in the way that Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven did. And, for all his transcriptions, I loathe Liszt as a bottomless showaway, the very worst of the Romantic type.
4) I believe Brahms was actually in his early 50's before he nerved himself to write a symphony. I can't say that I blame him, as Beethoven had left such a ginormous hole with his passing, and plenty other composers had made a hash trying to find a genuine Romantic symphonic voice. What is remarkable is that he was able to step up to the challenge as well as he did (and I would argue that his symphonic output is better than that of, say, either Schubert, Mendelssohn or Schumann), although I also agree that his symphonic music is not the best representation of his talent.
Gratuitous Llama Pedantry: "For the Children" Division
Ladies and Gentleme, I present to you The Dangerous and Daring Blog for Boys and Girls.
This blog is the brainchild of longtime Mooknewvian Rocket Ted who, on reading The Dangerous Book for Boys, had the idea that a great deal of what was contained in the book was of the same nature as a lot of blogposts. So, summoning together a stable of contributors, he set the thing up as a one-stop shop for all kinds of knowledge, from the practical to the educational to the just plain coo-el. I'm honored that he asked me to take part in this little venture.
I'll probably wind up cross-posting a lot of my historickal and musickal entries over there, together with any odd bits of wisdom that I can think of to pass along. For instance, did you now that meat tenderizer is an excellent first aid remedy for bee-stings? Well, it is. Now I've got some place to share that tidbit.
Go on over and browse, and if you likey, be sure to tell all your friends.
July 27, 2007
Cassandra over at Villainous Company has set up a nifty little meme to Rochambeauchamp TNR's star purveyor of lurid war-is-hell stories from the Sand Box.
Frankly, I dunno what to make of this guy yet, nor of TNR's apparent decision to hustle his dispatches out without, you know, fact-checking them or anything. Ace and Dan Reihl have been all over the coverage, and I like Hugh Hewitt & Mark Steyn's theory that TNR's actions are a sign of panic among the Surrender Dubya! crowd in Washington that good news about the surge is starting to get out and might sap war opposition.
We'll see. In the meantime, I just wanted to make sure and get first dibs on the coinage of "rochambeauchamp".
LLAMA NOOZ FLASH!!!! DATE OF THE APOCALYPSE REVEALED!!!!!
And no, it doesn't come from the secret calculations of Issac Newton or the writings of Nostradamus, but from Variety:
Matt Damon as Captain Kirk. The world's going to end.
Yips! from Robbo:
Hotties On The Hill
"The Hill" ranks the top ten most beautiful people in Washington, D.C.
Nancy Pelosi is #4? Umm. Hoo-kay.
It's worth scrolling through the other 40 (listed in "no particular order", which is obvious).
My personal favs: Jessica Andrews (Republican), Molly Gray (Democrat) and Lucy Kafanov (Equally cynical of both).
Indiana Jones And The Skeleton In The Closet
Karen Allen is going to be in the latest Indy flick, reprising her role as Marion from the first movie.
I must say, Allen never really did much of anything for me in the original, even when she was decked out in that negligee thingy. Too, I dunno, rough-hewn for me. (I know, I know that's the way she was supposed to be. I'm just sayin'.) She always reminded me of Kipling's rag and a bone and a hank of hair.
Now Dr. Elsa, on the other hand.......
Yips! from Gary:
Bullpuckies! I was perfectly prepared to sit out this tired sequel but Karen Allen might just provide the spark needed for Grandpa Ford and Spielberg to pull this off.
For my money, Karen was the best "Jones girl" of the series. Cute 'n plucky, tough yet vulnerable and that gal knew how to hold a monkey.
You're-Putting-Me-On Yips! back from Robbo:
Looks like we got ourselves a con-troversy!
Maybe she can't hold a monkey, but I do likes the way those Austrians say "goodbye".
Back-at-ya Yips! from Gary:
Nothing says "goodbye" like...
"Fine, Robbo. Keep your Austrian hussy!"
Credit-Where-Due Yips! back from Robbo: "Well played, Sir!"** Heh, indeed, but I still think you and your little commenter friends are wrong.
** - Spot the quote!
Return-Volley Yips! back from Gary:
Ok, let's put it into context.
One girl willingly puts herself at risk of bodily harm by Nazis, snakes and lecherous Frenchmen (is that redundant?) to stay at the side of the man who seduced and dumped her when she was a mere teenager.
Another girl, is complicit with Nazis, sleeps with your father (before she sleeps with you) and in the end is willing to foolishly throw herself into a bottomless chasm grasping for an old artifact rather than stay safe in your arms and ride off into the sunset.
No contest, my friend, no contest.
And did I mention she can drink a huge Tibetan thug under the table and still give you a wicked right hook across the chin?
They don't make women like that anymore. Sigh.
YIPS from Steve-O: Karen Allen: Worst. Lois. Lane. Evah!
My suggestion to Gary: Joel, get off the babysitter!
You-Just-Put-It-Into-The-Net Yips! back from Robbo: Context? What is this nancy-boy "context" stuff you're talking about? Only issue is who's the hotter babe. Has Wilma Deering ever been given "context" points over Princess Ardala because she's so loyal to Buck? No. Has Inara ever suffered a "context" deduction because she's a hooker? Uh-uh. Does Padme get points over Leah because she's Anniken's wife and Luke's mother, or is it because she has shmokin abs?
Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)
Today is the anniversary of the surrender in 1758 of the French Fortress of Louisburg, Cape Breton Island, to British forces after a seige lasting about six weeks or so. The fall of the Fortress allowed the British to put a hammer-lock on the St. Lawrence River, thereby cutting off the critical flow of supplies (including Indian trade goods) to the French forces in the interior.
The seige had everything you could wish in 18th Century warfare - a remarkable amount of cooperation between the land forces commanded by Lord Jeffrey Amherst and the Royal Navy fleet under Admiral Boscawen, including a successful amphibious landing under fire; a highly scientific seige cannonade that slowly but steadily reduced the defences to rubble; lucky shots that destroyed critical buildings and shipping; a daring cutting-out expedition into the fortress' harbor to destroy the last remaining French warships; and, finally, the refusal of the Brits to allow the French to surrender with the honours of war, given the trouble they had been forced to take.
As noted, the British Army was commanded by Jeffrey Amherst. Among his subordinates was the dashing and courageous (although almost maniacally hypocondriac) Brig. General James Wolfe, who was to take Quebec in such spectacular fashion, dying upon the Plains of Abraham in the moment of his triumph. I've visited his birthplace, Westerham (pronounced "Westrum"), Kent. A very pretty little town, or at least it was 25 years ago.
As for Amherst, he went on to lead the final British drive up Lake Champlain in 1759 in a pokey, hesitant manner and captured Montreal the next year. He later became military governor of Canada, managing both to bungle the outbreak of the Indian rising known as Pontiac's Rebellion and to poison London's view of the Colonial political situation to the point of near caricature.
It surprises me somewhat that a certain trash school in Massachusetts named after the man (I got wait-listed back in the day. Bitter? Moi?) should still carry the "Lord Jeffs" as its mascot. One would have thought that they long ago would have replaced this dead white male genocidal oppressor with something more pee-cee like the "Daisies" or the "Fluffy Clouds" or perhaps the "Baa-Lambs". But there you are.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
Night Passage (1957)
A very so-so Jimmy Stewart western, in which Jimmah must give up his quiet, retired life as a tramp railway musician in order to guard a train and its valuable railworkers' payroll from the predations of a desperate gang of robbers which includes Jimmah's improbably-named brother, the "Utica" Kid. (They may as well have called him the "Scranton" Kid or the "Wilkes-Barre" Kid. I cannot believe that there was ever a person in the entire history of the westward expansion who voluntarily went under the nickname "Utica" Kid.) The plot is kinda lame, the acting is kinda uneven and you have to listen to Jimmah sing and play the accordion. On the other hand, it is Jimmah after all, and this film comes complete with the gergious scenery and long, lanky, loose style usually associated with his westerns.
As in most of his other westerns, Jimmah here plays a quiet, decent, honorable guy who is trying to live down a past filled with ferocity and (sometimes) villainy. I must say that I've never bought this for an instant, not with Jimmah. You can easily imagine Clint Eastwood's stock Avenging Angel character having his own summer place in one of the lower circles of hell. And even the Dook could pull out latent savagery when he wanted to. But Jimmah? He was one of Nature's gentlemen and I simply can never imagine that one of his characters had ever done anything bloodthirsty, mean or dishonorable. Audiences were shocked and troubled by Henry Fonda's stone killer in Once Upon A Time In The West, especially when he shoots the kid in cold blood. Had Jimmah been cast in that role, the audiences either would have hooted in disbelief or else burned the theatre down.
Anyhoo, if you want a good Jimmah western, Winchester 73 is probably the best, although I also have a fondness for Bend of the River and The Far Country. And there is Bandolero! of course, if for no other reason than that you get Rachel Welch in chaps.
Robbo's Recommendation: Say two and a half yips! out of five. It's a pleasant way to waste 90 minutes but don't go out of your way for it.
July 26, 2007
The Feline of Death or Memento Meowii
I've seen this story about Oscar the Cat, who's managed to ring up an impressive record for spotting terminal patients at a Providence, R.I., nursing home, floating about AlGore's interwebs the past few days, but I just have to repeat the Speculist's comment on it:
Yeah, poignant. Not to go all Occam's Razor or anything, but has it occurred to anyone to ask whether this cat might be somehow killing these people?
Friends, I can see it all as clearly as if I were standing there myself: claw-punctures in the saline-feed, hairballs clogging up the tracheotomy tubes, the EKG readings completely out of whack because the damned animal is sitting on the leads and purring.....and let's not forget the power of suggestion, as when Oscar stares these poor, weakened folks in the face with a look that says "I want that bed for my nap, you cretin. Why don't you just give it all up right now."
I suppose I'm willing to accept (simply for lack of proof) that Oscar isn't murdering the poor blighters outright, but that doesn't really cause me to warm up much to him. If this had been a story about a dog, I would have assumed that his purpose in seeking out those about to die was to provide them comfort and sympathy. I'd be willing to bet that ol' Oscar does it just to gloat.
UPDATE: Just received the following in the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack:
To: Robbo Llama
U left ur computer on thismorning an we just red yur post on Brother Oscar. You sunnuvabitch. Think we cant doo the same thing to yoo?
Also, weer out of milk agin. Get sum on the way hom.
More on TNR's Baghdad Diarist who it turns out is a Private 2 in the Army, via The Corner at NRO and LMC fav Michelle Malkin. The Iraqis have a term which aptly describes this aspiring author's writings: "klanhhara." It means "bullshit."
Gratuitous Llama PSA
In case you hadn't noticed it, the remarkable Esther Wilberforce-Packard is back busily inhaling whipped-cream aerosols over at Topic Drift.
And as a reminder, the No Hot Beverages rule continues in effect......
Silky Pony Rides A Bike
With Lance Armstrong. No ribbons on the handlebars though.
To warm up for RAGBRAI, Edwards rode 22 miles on Sunday in the hills of his home state, North Carolina.
"This is actually not hard, this is fun," Edwards said as he climbed a hill on County Road T16 on a black Trek road bike he borrowed for the day. "The biggest problem is my butt hurts. Is that normal?"
Insert off-color Coulter-esque snarky comment here. But beware of Mrs. Edwards.
Gratuitous 'Fins Posting - Summer Soldiers Division
Y'know, I'm getting pretty sick and tired of all the doom n' gloom kvetching, the shoulda, woulda, couldas, the Monday Morning QBing, the prophesies of a 2-win season, etc., etc. It may well all be true, and as Tom Paine wrote, "These are times to try men's souls." But is that the way a real fan is supposed to act? Should we be calling for heads to roll? Should we be writing off the franchise? I don't think so. No, in the face of all the misery over the past years and the uncertainty of Coach Cam's first season, this is the time to dig down deep, to put a brave face on and have some fun with it. Or, as commenter Alex put it over at Cote's column:
Dolfans, assemble! Lend me your ears! We have dealt with all of the negativity we can possibly take. We have been cheated, lied to, and left for dead. But those days have past. No more suffering! It's time to take back our dignity and rightful place among NFL history. We may not be the most talented team, but we have some crazy ass Samoans and a street fighting outside linebacker ready to stomp a mud hole all over New England's preseason Super Bowl parading ass! Long live the aqua and orange...never let them take away your spirit!
Laaaaaaces OUT, Dolfans!!
A couple of weeks ago I was in Charlotte to see Bodyworlds at Discovery Place. Aside from the fact that the directions on the Discovery Place web site are WRONG, getting there was easy. It was the first time I'd driven I-85 to Charlotte and didn't sit parked on the highway for at least 10 minutes in a bottleneck.
As you may know, Bodyworlds is advertised as "The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies." Via a process dubbed "plastination" by it's more-than-a-little creepy German inventor, the "real human bodies" are kept in a state "between death and corruption" indefinitely.
A friend of mine chastised me for planning to see this show.
"It's all Chinese prisoners," he said. But at the show I learned he was wrong. It's all German citizens who willed their bodies to the permanently fedora-topped Dr. von Hagens for the purpose of making this anatomical exhibition.
The body donation form was posted on one wall of the exhibit, bearing such interesting checklist items as "I give permission for my plastinated body to be touched by lay people for educational purposes." I giggled.
But all of the "plastinations," as they call the exhibits, bore signs asking the public not to touch them. That was too bad because I wanted to see if they felt rubbery. I probably would have copped a feel if I hadn't already been upbraided by a security docent for having my cell phone ring in the hall of the dead.
But, enough of my juvenile impulses and cell phone discourtesy. What of the show?
It begins sedately enough with a skeleton standing upright behind it's suit of muscles. That is to say, the skeleton is displayed separate from the muscles that once clothed it. How they made the dead tissue of the muscles rigid enough to stand, seemingly unsupported by any structure is a mystery to me, but I suppose it's all part of the magic of "plastination."
The exhibit moves on from there to more and more bizarre, or beautiful (depending on your point of view), deconstructions of the organic human form that demonstrate increasing levels of artistic license. Dr. von Hagens is using dead human bodies as an artistic medium and the results are . . . astounding.
I came away from this show awed and amazed. I thought I knew quite a bit about anatomy, but soon I saw I know dick about innerds. Did you know your right lung has one more lobe than the left? Did you know your left lung is smaller than the right due to the location of the heart? No you did not!
Anyway, as with all anatomical exhibitions, dating from Fragonard, a measure of macabre humor comes standard. (Germans created this show, remember.) Some of the plastinations are given props such as cigarettes and hats that tend to jolt the viewer with grim laughter or an unwelcome sense of memento mori.
This exhibit triggers people. I overheard two good 'ol boys debating the ethics of abortion - something I don't imagine these two would ever have spoken of together outside this exhibit. And it made me appreciate my own body more than ever before. You see how many muscles have to cooperate just to handle a basketball or to support your bodyweight on your hands. You see organs diseased from years of unfortunate life-style choices. You see the miraculous sponge-like network of blood vessels that keeps life pumping through our fragile forms.
And the fragility of human life is one of the things that Dr. von Hagens hoped to communicate to the public when he conceptualized the exhibit. He says in an interview (part of which you can hear if you spring the extra $4 for the audio handset - which you should) that humans have created a mechanized world that is not forgiving of human frailty. We need to respect and be more nurturing and better conservators of the "natural world" of our bodies, he says.
There are three Bodyworlds exhibits traveling the U.S. right now. Besides Charlotte you can also see Bodyworlds in Portland and Montreal. Plan to see it - but leave the kids under 12 at home.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Shaw!
Arguably the single funniest, most wicked playwrite in the entire history of the English language was born this day in 1856. Here's a little bio on the man.
Mom and I happened to be discussing Mr. Shaw the other day, and this discussion led to a broader question: What is it about the Irish that makes them all so goddam funny? There is no humor quite like Irish humor for its combination of deadpan, twinkly eye and latent ferocity, and so many of the Irish seem to be blessed with it that when one comes across an Irishman with no sense of humor, as I have once or twice in my career, it's a genuine shock to the system.
Anyhoo, I suppose I could go into a deeper discussion of Shaw's writings, or else into a larger consideration of the historickal influences that shaped the Irish character, but it's too hot and humid and my brain is too far gone into the pre-vacation doldrums for me to muster the energy to do so. Instead, I'll give you a stream of bat's piss:
That's My Church! - Fort-Sumter-On-The-Thames Division
The Global South appears to be threatening to boycott next spring's Lambeth Conference:
NEW YORK --A committee representing many conservative Anglican bishops overseas says its members won't attend a critical once-a-decade Anglican meeting next year unless the U.S. Episcopal Church is disciplined for ordaining an openly gay bishop.
The steering committee for the Global South Primates said that the Episcopal Church, which is the Anglican body in the U.S., has caused a rift by failing to repent for the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who lives with his male partner.
The meeting, called the Lambeth Conference, gathers bishops from around the world to discuss the future of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.
"It is their rejection of the clear teaching of the church and their continuing intransigence that have divided the church and has brought our beloved communion to the breaking point," the committee said in a July 18 statement.
For its part, Canterbury seems willing to talk tough at this point as well:
In an interview published Monday, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, a close ally of [Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan] Williams in the Church of England, said Global South bishops who boycott the meeting will effectively be expelling themselves from the communion.
"Anglicanism has its roots through Canterbury," Sentamu told The Daily Telegraph of London. "If you sever that link you are severing yourself from the communion. There is no doubt about it."
All the signs have been pointing toward open schism some time in the next year or so and I wonder if Lambeth is, indeed, going to be the flashpoint. I think the Global South needs to be careful, however. They've been championing themselves as the defenders of orthodoxy, but as one can see here, if they overplay their hand they may find themselves recast as the troublemaking rebels.
The other question that wanders into my mind - assuming a full split occurs - is what will be the Global South's Avingon to Canterbury's Rome?
July 25, 2007
Oh for the love of all that is holy
SOOPER SEKRIT MESSAGE TO CHAI-RISTA: Someone's stealing Pep's BBQ tips!
MMM! STEAK FLAVOR!
Could Matt Damon pull this off?
I don't think so:
But they could probably get Affleck to play the giant lizard guy, as that's well within his range.
And double that nyet for Spen-SAH!
And of course, that's setting off the official Steve-O tangent alert....Fred, to Newt, to Spencer Abraham, to Spenser for Hire, to Avery Brooks as Hawk being an all around general bad ass:
You call that a gun? THIS is a gun.
Watch it and weap, Mic Dundee, you thievin' Aussie bastard.
Which leads me to this: probably the greatest of all 1980s tee-vee shows that definitely deserves to be made into a movie, particulary as it captures the gestalt of late-Koch, early Dinkins, pre-Guliani En-Why-Cee.
The Equalizer rocks.
Actually, it would probably be pretty funny to turn this into a campaign commercial for Rudy...
EXTRA CREDIT QUESTION: Why does this intro for the pilot for Spenser for Hire make me all a-jiggity?
I guess Dr. Susan Silverman was a Freudian after all.
Blogs That Make Me Think
Robbo asked the Second-String Llamas to post about Blogs That Make Us Think. Given the fact that my blog-reading watch words are "theatrical, fantastic, gruesome and shameless," Robbo should know not to come shopping for high-mindedness in my bodega.
But the customer asked, so I'll show him the stuff I'm holding under the counter that's so good, it might not be 100% legal:
1. David Byrne Journal - David is a interesting person. He has the money and time to devote all day, every day to seeing new art and traveling the world. Then he writes about his thoughts and experiences. I think of him as a Tony Bourdain of the art world. He just doesn't have a tv show . . . yet.
2. Mirabilis.ca - Christine brings us News of the Weird for people who think. She says she's all about "food, archaeology, fun, books, history & geekery" and that's good enough for me.
4. Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog - Does it make me think? Well, not in the way Robbo was requesting. You have to puzzle out the "middle-English." That is to say, reading this blog requires cogitation, but that is not the same thing as thinking.
5. Velociworld - The best I leave for last. V-man is vile, evil, politically incorrect and hilarious. He makes me think ALL the time. I think he is insane.
Who but V-man would remind the world of a bethonged Sean Connery?
Who but V-man's friends would go to YouTube and find a clip from the thong'ed Connery film?
Who but V-man would write, imagining himself wearing a thong and flip-flops, on the same page as the photo above? Only V-Man, my friends. Only V-Man.
BTW - Thanks to him, I am alight with an inferno to see Zardoz! From an IMDB reviewer:
Red man-panties, gun-vomiting hot air balloon stone heads, [snip] and, perhaps most chillingly, an apocalyptic warning that, if we do not change our ways, we face a future COMPLETELY DEVOID OF UNDERGARMENTS.Rock on you Truly Bad Film - rock on!
Gratuitous Musickal Posting
FWIW, I've always thought that Ravel's orchestration of Mussorgsky's "Pictures At An Exhibition" was a better treatment of the music that the original keyboard score. The work has always struck me as being really just too big for the piano.
Life Takes Common Sense. For Everything Else, There's Mastercard
Affluent liberal guilt nagging you that your carbon footprint is too big? Well no problemo - now you can just charge it:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Electric Co. issued a credit card on Wednesday it says will be the first to cut help U.S. cardholders voluntarily cut emissions linked to global warming.
The card, called GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum Mastercard, allows users the option of automatically contributing up to one percent of their card purchases to buy greenhouse emissions offsets.
In voluntary emissions markets, consumers who feel guilty about their greenhouse emissions can buy offsets, or credits, designed to represent emissions reductions that took place somewhere else, like a solar or wind power farm.
"Earth Rewards cardholders will now have a new tool to complement the ways they are already reducing their emissions," Tom Gentile, an executive at GE Money said in a release. "They can turn everyday purchases into extraordinary rewards."
I tell you, fellow Llamas, we have got to get in on this eco-ponzi before the whole thing collapses.
Obama Campaign Models Itself On "Reagan Revolt"?
No, seriously. That's what they're telling the Politico.
"Now, it is blasphemy for Democrats," Obama pollster Cornell Belcher said of Reagan, "but that hope and optimism that was Ronald Reagan" allowed him to "transcend" ideological divisions within his own party and the general electorate.Well, there's just one tiny difference I'd point out. Ronald Reagan had a specific vision of who he was and what he stood for that his supporters clearly understood. It was more about principles than just being "upbeat".
The upbeat message, Obama advisers say, won't prevent the candidate from stepping up both veiled and explicit contrasts with Clinton, who he hopes to portray as an old-hat conventional politician whose varied positions on the Iraq war reflect calculation rather than leadership.
Obama is a tabula rasa who is, at least at this point, whatever his supporters want him to be. The campaign can package it any way that they want but if the candidate can't articulate exactly what he believes in and what his priorities would be as President it's an indication that neither he nor his campaign may be ready for prime time.
It's the end of an era, as the Weekly World News goes belly up:
Weekly World News, the tabloid that for 28 years has chronicled sightings of Elvis, extraterrestrial activity and the exploits of Bat Boy, is no more. Its publisher said Tuesday it would put out its last issue next month, maintaining only a Web presence. What does it mean for a black-and-white staple that has delivered news of such historical proportions as Bigfoot's capture of a lumberjack he kept as his love slave and the merman found in the South Pacific? Stay tuned. One thing's for sure: Americans' waits in supermarket checkouts will forever be changed.
The tabloid's publisher, American Media Inc., issued a brief statement that announced the Aug. 27 issue would be Weekly World News' last. It called the closure necessary "due to the challenges in the retail and wholesale magazine marketplace that have impacted the newsstand."
Back in the day at The People's Glorious Soviet of Middletown, my roommate and I used to await each new edition of the WWN with eager, baited breath. Upon its publication, we would buy up a couple copies and then merrily cut out and re-arrange the headlines, posting our creations on the door for the amusement of our hall. I can't recollect any of the lines we came up with, except that it was from this exercise that I coined the expression "screaming with glee", a phrase I still use.
Most of the denizens of my hall thought that I was a stuck-up, anal, dead white male fascist pig. (To this day I can't for the life of me understand where they'd get such an idea.) That our door was covered floor to ceiling with an ever changing potpourri of mangled WWN headlines never ceased to amaze them, although rayther than "challenging their prejudices" regarding self (as they might say), I believe most of them simply assumed it was all my roommate's doing. To his credit, my roommate always denied this, although I'm not sure they ever really believed him.
Yep, good times. Good times.
UPDATE: BTW, we Llamas own the google search for "People's Glorious Soviet of Middletown" except that somehow the school's own website pops up as a result, too. Does this mean that somebody there finally noticed this particular piece of chain-jerking and shoved the term into the coding somewhere?
Orgle! from Gary: Durnit Robbo, ya deleted my Yips!
A New "Mini-Ice Age" Coming?
And it's attributable to...wait for it...global warming!
Dum. Dum. Duuuuuuuuum!
For the love of God, are these cretins so desperate to drag us to the Kyoto table that they'll even try to link falling ocean current tempuratures to Global Warming?
Paul Mirengoff does a much better job fisking this garbage article line by line than I ever could and it's worth the read for the entertainment value alone.
They get data they did not expect, they have no idea why it happened or if it is just temporary or not but by golly there is an ice age acoming and we better sign Kyoto. OY! Talk about putting several carts before a single horse.With each passing day the Global Warming alarmists continue to marginalize their own claims with more absurdity.
El Niño warms the water in the Pacific every 4 or 5 years and we've known of this cycle for over 400 years. [Long before the evil United States] Could it be that maybe -just maybe- something like this might happen elsewhere on the planet? (gasp)
No, we won't look at unexpected data and wonder why we were wrong, we now look at unexpected data and draw conclusions. If we didn't know the temps were going to be that high, how the hell can we explain why they were AND use them to predict what it means for the future?
July 24, 2007
An old pal hits the big time
Congrats, padawan: Potfry hits the Guardian, as Islamic Rage Boy speaks.
With his clenched fists, wild eyes and gnashing teeth he has become the face of Muslim fury, protesting against the enemies of Islam. Shakeel Ahmad Bhat has been on the frontline of political activism in Srinagar, India, for more than a decade. His constant presence, captured by photographers and beamed across the world, has caught the imagination of rightwing bloggers who have dubbed him Islamic Rage Boy and turned him into an internet phenomenon.
Typing his nickname into a search engine yields more than 75,000 results. He has inspired a cartoon character and merchandise.
But the 30-year-old Kashmiri activist is puzzled, not angered, by his overseas fame. In his first interview with a British newspaper, he says he is carrying out Allah's wishes.
From his home in Fateh Kadal, Malik Angan, he says: "I am not happy with people joking about me or making me into a cartoon, but I have more important things to think about. My protests are for those Muslims who cannot go out onto the streets to cry out against injustice. This is my duty and I believe Allah has decided this for me."
Mr Bhat, a school dropout and former militant with a pro-Pakistan rebel group, has been arrested more than 300 times. He spends days away from his widowed mother, four brothers and his sister, travelling to protests or attending court hearings. But his family, he says, is used to it.
Neighbours describe Mr Bhat as well-mannered, sincere and dedicated. He walks to a protest if it is within six miles (10 km) of his home and hitchhikes or catches a bus if it is further. Sometimes he is the only protester.
Thousands of miles away in the US, the two bloggers who re-imagined Mr Bhat as a cartoon character have put Islamic Rage Boy on T-shirts, beer mugs, hoodies and Valentine cards in a variety of bloodthirsty and furious poses, and copyrighted it.
The bushy beard, scowl and crooked nose bear an uncanny resemblance to Mr Bhat, but his creators deny the image is Islamophobic or based directly on him.
Buckley F Williams, from the "conservative leaning" satirical news blog The Nose On Your Face, says: "We're anti-Muslim-extremism, the loudest voice of the Muslim world right now, which would lead one to believe it is the dominant voice of the Muslim faith.
"Believe me, we want to be proven wrong. It isn't as though we were sitting around at our monthly Ku Klux Klan meetings and drawing religions out of a hat to see who would become the object of our scorn and ridicule next."
He and his co-blogger Potfry, both assumed names, have seen a significant rise in traffic to their site since the launch of Islamic Rage Boy, from 1,000 to 5,000 hits a day. They first spotted Mr Bhat last September.
Mr Williams says: "We didn't go looking for him because he was always in the news. We made him Islamic Rage Boy shortly after that and it became a sub-culture."
It was, he adds, less about Shakeel and more a composite representation. "We've seen so many pictures of Muslims protesting and there's a faction that's perennially angry."
The intention of the cartoon is, he claims, to open up debate. "Muslim fanaticism is the problem, not Muslims. Islam is not coming across, to the average person, as a friendly or inviting religion. There must be many Muslims who don't like what's going on, but we're not hearing it."
A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ibrahim Hooper, is unconvinced. Mr Hooper says: "I find the term Islamic Rage Boy offensive, as would anyone who applied the term to their own faith. It's an Islamophobic product by Muslim-bashers on internet hate sites."
He compares the cartoon to the anti-semitic imagery of 1930s Nazi Germany. "The cartoon is part of an overall growth of anti-Muslim rhetoric in this country. Someone is trying to link Islam with violence and anger and profiting from it."
He quotes a recent Newsweek poll, which paints a complicated portrait of US attitudes towards Muslims: 63% of Americans surveyed believe most Muslims do not condone violence and 40% believe the Koran does not condone violence, but 28% believe it does and 41% felt Muslim culture glorifies suicide.
Mr Hooper says: "While the majority is not hostile towards Muslims, there is a minority who are, and cartoons like this do not help. You cannot combat one form of extremism with another."
Mr Bhat, unaware of the row he has fuelled, vows to carry on protesting. Undeterred by being locked away or being laughed at, he says: "I do not like being called Islamic Rage Boy, it is not nice; but why should I care what people think of me in this life? The afterlife will decide my fate, not a mousemat."
Do visit Potfry if you get a chance: it's like going to Frank J., without the embarassing trip to the genital lice shampoo isle at the CVS three days later.
Much Ado About Nothing
I continue to be amazed by the ongoing circus over the removal of eight political appointeese that the Dems continue to milk for whatever political benefit can be had. U.S. Atorneys serve at the pleasure of the President who may replace them at any time for any reason or no reason. The Congress issues subpoenas and threatens contempt proceedings when executive privilege is invoked to shield discussions about removal of said political appointees, something which is squarely in the realm of the privilege and beyond serious debate. The Dems now "weigh" a call for the appointment of a special prosecutor . They face with the likelihood the President will direct the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia not to enforce contempt of Congress citations issued against current and former Administration officials. The situation does not merit a special prosecutor and is not a constitutional crisis. Instead, the impasse is the result of a structural protection for one branch of government which functions as a limitation on the others.
Recut this sucker, pronto
Full mash-up treatment: I'm thinking horror movie, maybe Aliens, the prequel, with Jane as a pre-Victorian Ensign Ripley.
You Love Us! You Really Love Us!
The Random Penseur honors our little camelid corral by tagging us for a "Thinking Bloggers Award".
Well, "shucks" is all I've got to say.
Here are the rules of the game:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote...
As a matter of fact, we got tagged by our pal Sleepy Beth for one of these back in April, in response to which I duly nominated five other excellent blogs. Since I've already done this one, I'm going to lean on our other Llama contributors (yeah, I'm talking to you, Steve, Gary, LMC, Chai-rista, Bueller....Bueller?) to step up here and carry on the meme.
Okay guys, get going!
Llama Brasi Sleeps With The Fishes
EVERETT - Lots of things have floated into the docks at Dagmars Marina near the mouth of the Snohomish River.
Trees, logs, the occasional loose boat, a sofa, once, pumpkins around Halloween.
Still, when a llama - yes a llama, a 450-pound llama - drifted into the marina, it took everyone by surprise.
"I don't know where it came from," Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said.
Police are aware of the animal, a Lama glama, and have been working with Everett Animal Control and Parks and Recreation to try to figure out what to do about the dead Andean ruminant.
It's not clear when the long-necked beast died.
Since July 6, the llama corpse has been bobbing around the estuary on tidewater currents.
Never go against the family. Now fuggedabouddit.
That's My Church! - 'Too Good Not To Swipe' Edition
Lifted from the WebElf Report, which roars back after a hiatus with a gi-normous CANN Blogroll roundup.
Patton Speaks Out On The War On Terror
Boy, we could sure used this guy today.
h/t: The Corner
Gratuitous Literary Observation
Perhaps unwisely, given my current isolation, I've been wallowing in Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities the past couple days. As much a fan of Wolfe as I am, this is actually the very first time I've read this particular novel.
It's been about a year since I last read one of Wolfe's books and I'd forgotten how relentlessly savage he is about things. Think it's a nice, sunny day? Ha! So what? Just means Nemesis has a clearer view and a cleaner shot. Bango! You're doomed, do you hear me? Dooooooooomed!
Coming up for air, as it were, I began to wonder a) if it is even remotely conceivable that Wolfe might write a, er, happy novel, one not so drenched in mockery, cynicism, awfulness and despair, and b) whether such a novel would actually be worth reading.
I put this question to Mom t'other day. Mulling it over, she thought probably not, that the power of the satirist is in tearing things down, not building them up. In her experience, on those occassions when a satirist does undertake to describe the World As He Would Like To See It, it generally turns out to be a place you really wouldn't want to spend any time. (She mentioned an anecdote about some literary criticism aimed at Sinclair Lewis in this respect, but I cannot recall the work to which she was referring.)
Of course, satire is a 'uge field and it comes in many different shapes and intensities, from gentle, good-natured ribbing to outright bellowing from the soapbox. Also many, many authors use satire to one extent or another in their writing without being considered genuine satirists themselves. However, I'm thinking of the capital-S satirists here, starting with Petronius and working right down to modern times. Have any of them ever written non-satirical works as good as their satirical output?
(And before Mrs. P can jump on it with both feet, Mom and I did consider Brideshead Revisited in our talk. Neither of us have anything against it and we know that Mr. Wu considered it the pinnacle of his own writing, but it is the favorite of neither of us.)
Point/Counterpoint: "Die Hard" Edition
A couple of weeks ago,
Robbo Steve pulled a body-slam on “Live Free Or Die Hard”. In some respects it was deserved and he made several salient points. Well, I saw this last night with a friend of mine and I wanted to weigh in myself.
While I’m not saying that this is classic cinema or that it's nearly as good as the original “Die Hard”, I think the idea that this is one to be avoided is a little harsh. It all depends on what you’re expecting. Now certainly there are many alternatives for that spare ten spot that you have strategically placed in a side pocket of your wallet (you married men will know what I’m talking about) and waiting for the small-screen version on DVD might be a wiser use of limited monetary resources.
But visually, this was really good. Are the stunts and situations totally unbelievable? Oh, you betcha. The leaping from the cab of the tractor-trailer to the wing of the F-35 fighter jet was as about as over the top as you can get. The plot itself strains the boundaries of credibility as it is. But when I asked my buddy (who works for a major software company) to give me his thoughts from a technical perspective he was pretty adamant that most of what the terrorists did was impossible – not just implausible. So on just about every level, you need to seriously suspend disbelief and just go with it.
But for me what makes it all work is Bruce Willis. I’m sorry but Bruce Willis was Jack Bauer before there was “24”, without the special ops know-how. At one point, the character John McClane is trying to come up with an answer to the question “what makes you that guy?” with “that guy” being the one who keeps going after the bad guys even after he gets the crap kicked out of him and all seems hopeless.
McClane explains that he doesn’t take to being thought of as a hero but rather a guy who’s just doing his job (we should all have such professional dedication, eh?) and that in reality what happens to heroes is that when it’s all over everybody forgets about you. And isn’t that what’s happened in action movies today? We’ve forgotten the John McClane who faced off against the “delicious” (to used Robbo’s description) Alan Rickman as the uber-villian Hans Gruber. We’ve forgotten about why that first movie, which is “old school” in its style, is so great. And Willis is as "old-school" an action hero as you can find. I missed that.
Seeing Willis bring back this character after so much time was satisfying for me. He still beats any action star of the 21st century, hands down. In “Live Free Or Die Hard”, John McClane is an anachronism in the hyper-technical world of today. And for me, having him face off against this technology with little more than his wits, his fists and whatever firearms he can get his hands on reminds me of why he was so good in “Die Hard”. He’s the one detail that isn’t planned on. He’s the glitch that throws everything out of whack. When Gruber and his Euro-thugs stormed Nakatomi plaza back in 1988, they had everything planned to the last detail. But McClane, being in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe the right place at the right time), is the terrorists’ problem that just won’t go away. He’s akin to a computer virus that they can’t seem to kill. Which is pretty ironic when you consider the overall plot.
This one was definitely better than the forgettable “Die Hard With A Vengeance” and arguably better than “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” (though Fred Thompson’s presence makes it a close call). Though the scale and number of locations are different, I found “Live Free Or Die Hard” closer in tone to the original that the other sequels.
What it comes down to is “have we seen this before?” And the answer is, of course, yes. But you can say that about a lot of movies today. All in all, I was glad to have seen it on the big screen. And I would say to anyone currently on the fence, go ahead and give it a try. You might also be glad you did.
Yips! from Robbo: Who, me? You're thinking of our Mr. Cranky-pants cohort who won't give an action movie the time of day unless Kurt Russell is in it. As a matter of fact, I've marked this movie down as being Netflix-worthy, although I'll bet it's not as good as Die Hard 3, my favorite of the lot. (How could it be without Sam Jackson?)
Yips! back from Gary:
Sorry 'bout that. I'm so used to you doing the movie reviews I didn't even bother to check the signature. Duh.
YIPS from Steve-O: Salient? I rest my case.
Gratuitous Bachelor Llama Posting (TM)
I know that I generally undergo some mental upheaval when the Missus and the Llama-ettes leave for an extended period, but what in Heaven's name does it mean that I dreamed I was driving around Lexington, Virginia in a pickup truck with James Colburn and Nathan Lane last night and that we were being pursued by a singing Volkswagen?
Happy Birthday, Lynda Carter!
On this day in 1951, Wonder Woman was born:
Back in the day at the old Ex-Donkey site, I ran an "80's Crush" Tournament. I don't know how much it said about the primary demographic of my readership but Lynda Carter won it all.
Fiction at The New Republic?
This from The Weekly Standard, via Drudge. It seems TNR is running stories of terrible things said and done by American soldiers which, how shall we say, unravel under the scrutiny TWS readers are giving them.
July 22, 2007
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division
Poking about in the garden yesterday, I noticed a curious lack of leaves on some of the hydrangia hedge behind it. Walking around behind the fence, I saw that the deer had not just poked a hole in the nylon netting that protects the hedge as they sometimes do, but in fact had ripped a whole section of it back, giving themselves an entre to about half of the plants there.
God rot their flea-bitten souls.
I've been engaged in a desultory dual of mines and countermines with a pair of rabbits over the past couple weeks who have been playing havoc with my coneflowers and have reduced a quartet of new hollyhocks to one lowly leaf apiece. I thought I was gaining the upper hand, but last evening observed one of the rabbits go right through the fence, apparently by means of osmosis, at a spot I had heretofor thought quite secure.
Damn and blast their furry little hides.
This morning, after seeing the Missus and the Llama-ettes off to Connecticut literally at the crack of dawn, I was planting a couple new blueberry bushes when I heard an almighty crack! coming from the patio. The squirrels had managed to jimmy my Yankee Flipper (R) feeder off its pole again. This time, the thing came down on one of the patio flags and seems to have cracked its battery case open, as there was an evil smell and the motorized spinner doesn't work any more.
Hell and death take these bushy-tailed tree-rats!
So why do I even bother?
Take up the Green Thumb's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go, bind your seedlings to exile
To serve your garden pests' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On furry folk and wild--
Your constant greedy varmints,
Half hoover and all guile.
Take up the Green Thumb's burden--
In patience net astride,
To check the threat of grazing
And stop the rodents' tide;
By open fence and simple,
An hundred times made plain,
To seek a few nice flowers
And work for some small gain.
Take up the Green Thumb's burden--
The perennials grant some peace--
Stop tight the mouth of Bambi,
And bid ol' Thumper cease;
And when your bloom is nearest
(The end for which you sought)
Watch all those goddam varmints
Bring all your hope to nought.
Take up the Green Thumb's burden--
No carefree Flora liege'd,
But toil of gates and wire--
The tale of endless siege.
The deer they shall still enter,
The rabbits shall still tread,
Go, fight them with your living -
They'll make you wish you're dead.
Take up the Green Thumb's burden,
And reap his old reward--
The blame of roses ye better
The hate of hydrangia ye guard--
The cry of hollyhocks ye nurtured
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought ye us from seed trays,
Our loved basement, right?"
Take up the Green Thumb's burden--
Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Nature
To cloak your weariness.
By all ye will or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent greedy varmints
Shall weigh your God and you.
Take up the Green Thumb's burden!
Have done with childish cheer--
The ever-hungry rabbit,
The often razing deer:
Comes now, to search your fencing
Through all the thankless years,
Cold, edged with gluttonous wisdom,
It burrows, holes and tears.
July 20, 2007
Two Words To Guaren-Damn-Tee That Tomorrow Is The Best Damned Saturday, Evah!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you President Cheney!
Prepare to witness the awesome power of teh Dark Side of the Force! Bwaaa-hahahaha!!!!!!!!
UPDATE: Ya know, I'm especially excited because an incident that has long puzzled me suddenly makes sense. Long time readers may recall my mentioning that one of Cheney's grand-daughters was Christened in the same ceremony as the seven year old Llama-ette, of whom Steve-O is the God-father. (This is true, you know.)
So there all three of us were, standing up around the baptismal font, when suddenly Cheney leaned over to Steve-O and me and whispered, "Wait...."
This is a gonna be guuuuud!!
Gratuitous Grumbling About The Weather
We're getting a taste of early fall here in Dee Cee this weekend following the entre of a cold front early this morning - highs in the upper 70's to around 80 and lows in the upper 50's for the next few days. Me likey.
On the other hand, despite the large patches of green, yellow and orange all over the radar last evening, Orgle Manor received at best a moderate sprinkle. Indeed, that has been the pattern all week - big storms all around but we still have to water the damned porch plants.
Come to think of it, it's been a pretty dry year in general here. My father was always known as "Dr. Drought" in the family for his apparent ability to drive away the rain from wherever he went. I sincerely hope I haven't inherited that mantle.
Gratuitous Historickal Posting
It was sooooo close. On July 20, 1944, an assassination attempt on Adolph Hitler was put into action but ultimately failed.
Once the invasion of Normandy proved to be a success, a group of high-ranking officials in the German army decided to put an end to the Third Reich by taking out the man at the top. Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg was given the task of personally bringing a briefcase bomb to a meeting of Hitler and his staff in a subterranean "Fuhrerbunker" in East Prussia. He placed the briefcase, with the bomb armed, as close to Hitler as possible under the conference room table and left the room.
While four were killed in the blast, the Fuhrer miraculously survived having been shielded perfectly by the solid oak table's leg which deflected the blast. As such, "Operation Valkyrie" failed and von Stauffenberg and others were executed for their actions. The incident provides one of the greatest "what-ifs" in military history.
For what it's worth, Tom Cruise is currently making a film about the plot. Titled "Valkyrie" (aka "Rubicon"), Cruise recently ran into problems with the German government which is opposed to his filming on certain military and government locations within the country because of his kooky scientology beliefs. Director Bryan Singer ("X-men", "Superman Returns") is currently doing his best to work around the limitations. Release is scheduled for next year.
Happy Birthday, Mrs. Peel!
Dame Diana Rigg was born this day in 1938. It was her work in The Avengers that first got young Robbo interested in national security issues. Mmm, mmm, mmm.
July 19, 2007
It's A Wiggly, Wiggly Living!
The Wiggles have topped the list of Australia's richest entertainers for the third year in a row, beating out Nichole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Keith Urban and Russell Crowe.
IT HAS been a bumpy road for the Wiggles, but the group famous for making a motza from fruit salad and hot potatoes has retained the title of Australia's richest entertainers, topping BRW's annual Top 50 Entertainers List for the third year running.
Late last year, the group hired Sam Moran as the new Yellow Wiggle, replacing founding member Greg Page because of his illness, but sold-out tours in the US, along with album and merchandise sales helped the group match their 2005 earnings of $50 million.
Box-office takings and concert-ticket sales around the world helped boost the total income for Australia's actors, musicians and entertainers by 15.1 per cent to $393.1 million.
Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that they were able to carry on as well as they did. Greg being replaced by Sam was the biggest and potentially most disruptive switcharoo in children's entertainment since Joe took over for Steve on "Blue's Clues".
Of course, I'm looking at this from the sidelines now, as the Llama-ettes have grown right out of all of that. Indeed, one of the sure-fire ways for me to get the five year old riled up is to burst into my rendition of "Silly Hat" from the Blue's Clues album. (Here's a sample of the original and here are the lyrics, in case you're interested. In my own defense, it's got a great latin beat to it.)
Can Anybody Tell Me Which Way To Go?
Peep-'oles! Now, I need to tell you. I am FAR from the smartest woman on the planet. I am not even close to being the smartest woman on the campus where I work. I'm probably not the smartest woman in this building.
So why is it that every single one of my interactions with people in recent days leaves me feeling like Einstein amongst the apes?
I'll tell you. No one can give coherent directions. Every time I've been given driving directions recently I come away convinced that American genetics have somehow revived the Neanderthal.
I drove to Discovery Place in Charlotte last week and found to my dismay that the printed directions on their website are WRONG. I called folks to ask directions to a hospice volunteer meeting last week and the person on the line gave me extremely detailed instructions . . . that left out ONLY ONE major turn.
I called to get directions to a Catholic church today and the woman on the other end of the phone line couldn't tell me if her church was north or south of Hwy. 460.
She kept saying "it's across from the social security building."
I said, "So it will be on my right?"
She said, "If you are coming from that direction, it's across from the social security building."
Imagining that it could be "across from SS" but still on my left due to an intervening road, I tried again:
"So after the putt-putt it will be on my right."
"If you are coming from that direction," she answered.
That's not an answer. That's a sentence fragment.
I wanted to hit her with a shovel.
Gratuitous Norse Naval Geekery Posting
What in the name of Thor did the real Vikings do without tow ships?
A replica Viking ship trying to sail across the North Sea has been forced by unfavourable winds to accept a tow.
The Sea Stallion set out on Monday from Norway bound for Scotland but struggled to make headway on a calm sea.
The passage was being undertaken as part of a "living archaeology" project that aims to understand better the seamanship of early Norsemen.
Project organisers from the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark, said time pressures had forced their hand.
They told the BBC - which is following the Sea Stallion for a Timewatch film to be broadcast later this year - that their research schedule could not simulate every aspect of Viking behaviour.
"If we went back and hid in a Norwegian fjord - like the Vikings would have done - then we would be there for a week or two. Now, we'll take a tow to Orkney and hope for good sailing there," a disappointed skipper, Carsten Hvid, explained.
Geesh. What do you think those oars are for, ya nancy-boys?
UPDATE: Speaking of Vikings, check out what a little poking about in Yorkshire with a metal-detector can turn up.
A Little Late To The Game, But...
Just went to lunch with a buddy of mine and he drove. His latest toy is one of those GPS screens that you can play DVDs on. He's been trying to get me to watch that show "The Office" for some time but I just haven't gotten around to it.
Well today he played what I'm sure he considers to be one of the better episodes while we drove and I have to admit it's pretty damn funny. I believe it was "Performance Review" from Season Two.
So looks like I'll have to add that one to the list of TV shows on DVD I need to watch to be culturally literate. Fortunately, it's only three seasons into it.
That's My Church! "Ouch" Division
What if TEC gave a group hug and nobody came?
BRISTOL - Trinity Episcopal Church could be called a house divided: Its defrocked pastor led a heavily attended prayer and song service at the church Wednesday night, while Episcopal Bishop Andrew Smith tried to muster parishioners to meet with a new pastor at a church in Plainville.
Smith promoted his meeting in a letter to parishioners last week as a way to discuss the dispute between Trinity and the Episcopal Diocese and "begin to identify new leadership for the parish so that we can move forward in our life in Christ within the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church."
But the message didn't draw much of Trinity's membership, which earlier this year joined Pastor Donald Helmandollar in a defection from the Episcopal Church, related to its 2003 installation of a gay bishop.
The bishop's session at the Church of Our Savior in Plainville drew a dozen people at most, and Smith refused to allow a reporter to attend, declaring it a closed meeting.
Simultaneously, Helmandollar's prayer and song service at Trinity brought in about 70 people.
Here you see the blind spot in TEC's worldview. Because it has all but officially abandoned the idea that Christianity means anything other than being nice to each other, it simply can't comprehend why anybody would leave over differences of belief. "Hey," it says, "We're a big tent! There's room for you and me and everybody else! Really! Sure we've got our differences, but we can work round 'em or simply ignore them. C'mon in! (Oh, and write a check to the U.N. while you're at it.)"
At least with the good folks of Trinity, it seems this secular universalism doesn't sell very well. Nor with me.
If They Start Eating Now...
Better get a bucket...
Have a nice lunch.
A Blip On The Radar Or A Swing Of The Pendulum?
You know, I'm seeing more and more of this sort of article insisting that we're mollycoddling our kids and need to step back a bit:
The best playground a child ever had. If I went on that sort of building site today, at the age of 50, I would probably have to sign a form first and wear a hard hat and a yellow jacket. In 1962, aged seven, I had the run of the place for hours on end. Yes, that's right - seven. Barely out of nappies, by today's mollycoddling standards. Was I a neglected child? Did my parents secretly wish me dead, crushed to pulp by a falling hod of bricks? Of course not. I was just a normal child enjoying a normal upbringing - or what passed for a normal upbringing then.
To my own children, raised in a more cautious age, it must seem like a foreign country - though it is a country that Ed Balls, the new Schools Secretary, is trying to rediscover. [Ed. - what a name!]
Mr Balls has been in the post only a matter of weeks, but his obvious hankering for a return to the days when schoolchildren could have conker or snowball fights, without their schools worrying that they could be sued if something went wrong, strikes the right note at the right time.
Whether his talk will amount to any action is, of course, another thing. But a risk-free childhood, as Mr Balls has rightly intuited, is not a childhood at all.
Talk and action. Exactly. However, it seems that it is at least somewhat more acceptable to talk the talk now than it was just a very few years ago, and that is at least some progress.
I have a little game that I love to play when we take the Llama-ettes to the pool: after getting them all lotioned up, I say something like, "Okay, you're all set. Now be off and have fun. Oh, and do try not to drown."
About half the parents around me typically smile or chuckle at this. The other half give me a look of nicely blended wonder, suspicion and disbelief.
We've still got a long way to go.
All Is Not Hunky-Dory In Norway
Socialist utopian nanny-state not necessarily all it's cracked up to be. Why?
Norwegians are among the most heavily taxed people in the world, and that in turn has made Norway one of the most expensive countries in which to live. Most accept the taxes they're ordered to pay on income and even net worth and property, but growing numbers are publicly complaining about sky-high taxes on everything from cars to fuel to consumer goods.But I thought coughing up so much of your income to the government was worth it if you can live in a country that practically wipes your butt for you?
Norwegians differentiate between skatter (taxes) and avgifter (duties, fees or user taxes) and the latter is the most hated. They're what causes a glass of house wine at an Oslo restaurant to cost the equivalent of nearly USD 16, or a gallon of gas to cost nearly USD 9 at current exchange rates.
Meh. The MSM loves to paint socialist European countries as paradises on Earth but you'll never see the LA Times reprint an article like the one above. I've always thought that five weeks guaranteed vacation isn't all that exciting when you can't afford to do anything except drive over to Sweden. Of course, with those gas taxes even that's a luxury.
Gratuitous Random Musickal Posting (TM)
I'm listening to one of Brahms' symphonies at the moment and am reminded of a famous anecdote connected with his Symphony No. 4 in E minor, often considered the harshest and most intellectual of the four symphonies he wrote. The American Symphony Orchestra takes up the tale:
In early October , an august group assembled informally to hear Brahms and another composer, Ignaz Brüll, play through [a] two-piano arrangement [of the symphony]. On this occasion Eduard Hanslick and Hans Richter, respectively the most eminent critic and conductor in Vienna, were the page-turners; among the listeners were the surgeon Theodor Billroth, the critic Gustav Dimpke, and the musicologist C. F. Pohl. The scene was described by Brahms’s biographer Max Kalbeck:
After the wonderful Allegro.. .I expected that one of those present would break out at least in a loud "Bravo." wouldn't allow my humble self to upstage in that way the master's older and more competent friends. Richter murmured something into his blond beard that from afar could be taken as an expression of approval. Brüll cleared his throat and slid diffidently and embarrassedly back and forth on his piano stool. The others remained persistently silent, and since Brahms also said nothing, a rather painful silence prevailed. Finally Brahms grumbled, "So, let's go on!" and gave a sign to continue; whereupon Hanslick heaved a sigh and quickly exploded, as if he had to relieve his mind and yet feared speaking too late: "For the whole movement I had the feeling that I was being given a beating by two incredibly intelligent people." Everyone laughed, and the two players continued.
I'm really not much of a Romanticist at all, but I love Brahms' symphonies, particularly the 1st and 4th. Alas, I don't have enough of a theoretical vocabulary to properly explain why, but I will say that his insistence on intellectual rigor channels the immense emotional energy of these pieces, giving weight to their feeling and preventing them from wandering off into the realm of mawkishness.
Gratuitous Fins Posting - Catch And Release Division
...or the post where I beat Robbo to the punch.
After protracted discussions (and constant bitching from the Quarterback in question), the team has officially released Daunte Culpepper from his contract. Being as Trent Green will probably be the starter, Miami finally relented and jettisoned the disgruntled Culpepper who was sacked 21 times in his first four games last season (the only ones he played).
Culpepper seems pretty happy with the situation:
"As I was going through this process I heard about a quote by Gandhi that best expresses my thoughts about this victory: 'First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win,'" Culpepper, who serves as his own agent, said in an e-mail.Paul Mirengoff at Powerline got in this little dig about that quote: "Then, at least in this case, they ridicule you again."
Personally, I think the 'Fins are better off heading into training camp without this added headache.
Disclosure: I have a mild interest in this story as my NY Giants will be on a collision course towards Miami on October 28th. Somebody's gonna get busted up and I'm not all that confident about the prospects of the visiting team.
Yips! from Robbo: I've been following the Daunte bit, but am so sick and tired of the QB problems that I just stuck my fingers in my ears, shut my eyes and kept saying, "Neener-neener-neener-neener-I'm-not-listening-oh, say can you seeeeeeeee..."
How nice it would be if Trent can have a couple good years while grooming this young Beck kid to step in after him. But am I getting my hopes up? Not yet. As Carol Burnett's bag-lady used to say, "I been hurt a lot."
"[A] Case About Nothing"
rare clarity from a dissenting appeals court opinion, written by judge who admittedly did not bother to read the majority's decision. From the fine folks at Opinion Journal.com. Read it.
July 18, 2007
***UPDATED AND BUMPED***
Okay, I generally don't much care for promotional stunts, but this is pretty damn funny.
Pagans have pledged to perform “rain magic” to wash away a giant picture of Homer Simpson that has been painted next to the Cerne Abbas Giant, their famous fertility symbol.
The image of the Simpsons character, which is 180ft (55 metres) tall, appeared next to the giant as part of a publicity stunt to promote The Simpsons Movie, which is due to be released this month.
The 17th-century chalk outline of the naked, aroused, club-wielding giant is believed by many to be a symbol of ancient spirituality. Many couples also believe that the Giant, which is carved in the hillside above Cerne Abbas, Dorset, is an aid to fertility.
If the "rain magic" doesn't pan out, the pagans ought to fall back on the Homeresque six-pack-of-beer-and-letting-Nature-do-her-thing magic.
UPDATE: Did somebody say ring-toss?
Yips! to Gail at Scribal Terror.
That's My Church - Shultz! Shultz! Call Out The Dogs! Division
Another parish cuts through the wire and runs:
In a dramatic illustration of the unhappiness among conservative Episcopalians in the United States, an Episcopal priest from the North Shore has decided to become a bishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya.
The Rev. William L. Murdoch, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in West Newbury, will fly to Nairobi next month for his consecration as a Kenyan bishop, then return to Massachusetts to minister to other disaffected conservatives who are leaving the Episcopal Church over its 2003 decision to ordain an openly gay priest as the bishop of New Hampshire.
Murdoch's congregation, which averages about 300 worshipers each Sunday, will have to turn over its three buildings and a $1 million endowment to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. The congregation is planning to buy a closed Catholic church in Amesbury and start over as All Saints Anglican, a local parish of the Kenyan church.
I suppose they just reckoned the property fight not to be worth it.
And so the African missionary work in the US of A continues apace:
Murdoch and another American priest, the Rev. Will G. Atwood III of Texas, will be the first American Episcopalians ordained as bishops in the Kenyan province. In May, the archbishop of Nigeria flew to Virginia to install a priest there as a bishop of that province; in September a Virginia priest is scheduled to be ordained a bishop in Uganda.
At some point, this small but growing collection of new Anglican bishops is going to grow sufficient legs to form an independent American Anglican Church. (All of the African diocese sponsoring these missions that I've heard about have stated that they have no interest in trying to muscle in on American territory permanently, but are simply trying to help out the rebels and refuges at the moment.) So here's a possible scenario: the crisis is coming, the showdown between the ECUSA and the Anglican Communion probably peaking in the next year or two. ECUSA gets pitched out of the Communion, or at least relegated to some kind of associate status. The Communion recognizes a new American Anglican Church, around which all the various current splinter groups coalesce, and there's a general readjustment as individual parishes and/or parishioners decide which way they want to go.
A Somber Anniversary
38 years ago today, Fat Ted drove a 1967 Oldsmobile off the Dike Bridge connecting Martha's Vineyard with Chappaquiddick Island and fled the scene. After huddling with his cronies for ten hours, they finally contacted the police. He received two months, suspended sentence.
The passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, was unavailable for comment.
Suggested reading: Senatorial Privilege by Leo Damore.
Why I Don't Dislike John McCain
I disagree with him on so many issues. He's infuriated me to no end over the past six years on a number of occasions. Considering the current field, Senator John McCain's chances as the GOP nomination next year are, at best, a long shot. Personally, I hope he is not the nominee.
But all that aside, I have great respect for the man. Especially when he expresses himself like he did this morning.
Surely, we must be responsive to the people who have elected us to office, and who, if it is their wish, will remove us when they become unsatisfied with our failure to heed their demands. I understand that, of course. And I understand why so many Americans have become sick and tired of this war, given the many, many mistakes made by civilian and military leaders in its prosecution. I, too, have been made sick at heart by these mistakes and the terrible price we have paid for them. But I cannot react to these mistakes by embracing a course of action that I know will be an even greater mistake, a mistake of colossal historical proportions, which will -- and I am as sure of this as I am of anything – seriously endanger the people I represent and the country I have served all my adult life. I have many responsibilities to the people of Arizona, and to all Americans. I take them all seriously, Mr. President, or try to. But I have one responsibility that outweighs all the others – and that is to do everything in my power, to use whatever meager talents I posses, and every resource God has granted me to protect the security of this great and good nation from all enemies foreign and domestic. And that I intend to do, Mr. President, even if I must stand athwart popular opinion. I will explain my reasons to the American people. I will attempt to convince as many of my countrymen as I can that we must show even greater patience, though our patience is nearly exhausted, and that as long as there is a prospect for not losing this war, then we must not choose to lose it. That is how I construe my responsibility to my constituency and my country. That is how I construed it yesterday. It is how I construe it today. And it is how I will construe it tomorrow. I do not know how I could choose any other course.What a remarkable contrast to the man they call "Majority Leader".
I cannot be certain that I possess the skills to be persuasive. I cannot be certain that even if I could convince Americans to give General Petraeus the time he needs to determine whether we can prevail, that we will prevail in Iraq. All I am certain of is that our defeat there would be catastrophic, not just for Iraq, but for us, and that I cannot be complicit in it, but must do whatever I can, whether I am effective or not, to help us try to avert it. That, Mr. President, is all I can possibly offer my country at this time. It is not much compared to the sacrifices made by Americans who have volunteered to shoulder a rifle and fight this war for us. I know that, and am humbled by it, as we all are. But though my duty is neither dangerous nor onerous, it compels me nonetheless to say to my colleagues and to all Americans who disagree with me: that as long as we have a chance to succeed we must try to succeed.
I am privileged, as we all are, to be subject to the judgment of the American people and history. But, my friends, they are not always the same judgment. The verdict of the people will arrive long before history’s. I am unlikely to ever know how history has judged us in this hour. The public’s judgment of me I will know soon enough. I will accept it, as I must. But whether it is favorable or unforgiving, I will stand where I stand, and take comfort from my confidence that I took my responsibilities to my country seriously, and despite the mistakes I have made as a public servant and the flaws I have as an advocate, I tried as best I could to help the country we all love remain as safe as she could be in an hour of serious peril.
And the Liberal media prattle on about how his position on Iraq is what's dooming his candidacy.
John Edwards Has "Unbelievable Toughness"
His wife even says so:
You got me there, Elizabeth. "Unbelievable" is probably the best word I can think of. Um, didn't Johnny have to send you to stand up to mean old Ann Coulter for him?
Yeah. It takes a really tough guy to write a $400 check for a haircut. I know I couldn't do it.
Memo to the Edwards campaign: when you need to have the candidate's wife insist that he's "tough", you've got problems.
Patrick Hynes (who has experience making Presidential campaign ads) ridicules this one mericilessly.
Because You Can't Spell Defeat Without That (D)
Reid and co. staged their little sleepover in the Senate for nothing. Motion for cloture losses 52-47 (60 votes were needed). As Capt. Ed points out, they ended the marathon session with the exact "same number in support that they had when it started".
All in all it's a net win only for al Qaeda, who are encouraged by this country's lack of unity in its commitment to fight them. Nice job, Harry. Schmuck.
Oh, and the latest Zogby poll has Congressional approval at 14%. Coincidence?
Scientists Prove John Wayne And The Founding Fathers Were Morons
Believing that the Rights of Man apply to, you know, people, instead of "the People" is a sure sign of stooopid:
Rugged American individualism could hinder our ability to understand other peoples' point of view, a new study suggests. And in contrast, the researchers found that Chinese are more skilled at understanding other people's perspectives, possibly because they live in a more "collectivist" society.
"This cultural difference affects the way we communicate," said study co-author and cognitive psychologist Boaz Keysar of the University of Chicago.
The study, though oversimplified compared to real life, was instructive. Keysar and his colleagues arranged two blocks on a table so participants could see both. However, a piece of cardboard obstructed the view of one block so a "director," sitting across from the participant, could only see one block.
When the director asked 20 American participants (none of Asian descent) to move a block, most were confused as to which block to move and did not take into account the director's perspective. Even though they could have deduced that, from the director's seat, only one block was on the table.
Most of the 20 Chinese participants, however, were not confused by the hidden block and knew exactly which block the director was referring to. While following directions was relatively simple for the Chinese, it took Americans twice as long to move a block.
"That strong, egocentric communication of Westerners was nonexistent when we looked at Chinese," Keysar said. "The Chinese were very much able to put themselves in the shoes of another when they were communicating."
The results are detailed in the July issue of the journal Psychological Science.
Collectivist societies, such as the Chinese, place more value on the needs of the group and less on the autonomy of the individual. In these societies, understanding other peoples' experiences is a more critical social skill than it is among typically more individualist Americans.
I suppose it would be rayther comforting to the millions upon millions of people starved, shot, gassed, tortured and enslaved by the various great "collectivist" enterprises of the 20th Century to know that Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot and their ilk were at least "understanding of other peoples' experiences".
Because It's Been Too Long
**UPDATED and BUMPED**
We missed you.
Yips! to Agent Bedhead:
On Sunday, Diane Lane turns 42 and a half!
Happy early semi-annual birthday to Diane.
And let's hear it for the older chicks!
Feed The Llama Meme - Update
In response to my open request for temporary bachelor recipes, the fabulous Mrs. P has come forth, bashing me about the head with her cookbook for a bit, but presenting a nice plate of hermit bars afterwards.
At first I was a bit conflicted, as I have absolutely no sweet-tooth whatever. However, I quickly got a good idea: I'm going to cook up a batch of these confections to celebrate the return of the Missus and the Llama-ettes at the end of my enforced isolation. (Furthermore, I'm going to tell them I got the recipe from my make believe friends. Heh.) What better way to show how much I'll have missed them?
A New Site To Bookmark
A Wiki dedicated to chronicling when the MSM is being, well, less than completely honest: Media Mythbusters. With contributors from such notable blogs as Wizbang, Black Five, Powerline & Confederate Yankee.
I expect they'll be quite busy.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
Reno 911!: Miami (2007)
Easily one of the dumberer films I've ever seen.
I know, I know. You're asking, "Tom, why'd you even rent it to begin with?" Well, I've watched the Comedy Central show on which the movie is based a few times and found it quite amusing. And so in a recent moment of frivolity, I tossed the movie into the queue just for the hell of it. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the show is a parody of COPS, the "real life" po-lice show for which I have an admitted weakness.)
Guess that's an hour and twenty minutes or so of my life that I'll never get back. The premise (a series of improv scenes of police activity) simply doesn't translate from half-hour tee vee show to full length movie. The half-hearted attempt to slap some kind of story arc on it fails miserably, and the gratuitous skin shots can't, ah, cover up the fact that there isn't enough material to sustain it. Further, because of the nature of films, there is nothing sly or subtle about the humor here. What is hinted and inferred in the tee vee show gets shouted in the movie audience's collective face.
Robbo's Recommendation: No yips! for you! If you're suddenly seized with the urge to watch a mindless but funny cop movie, go rent Super Troopers instead, meow.
July 17, 2007
The King of the faux-Kings
In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed weasel is, umm, king, I guess:
A blood-soaked “house of horrors” greeted Revere police and firefighters when they answered an Elvis impersonator’s 911 call and found that the homicidal King had pinned a half-naked guest to his living room floor with a 2-foot-long machete. “It doesn’t get more serious than this,” grim-faced assistant Suffolk District Attorney John Powers said yesterday
Harry Potter and the Ginormous Mounds of Galleons predictions
Mugglenet is running a prediction pool, and here are my calls:
Thank you for submitting your predictions. Here are your answers.
Ron Weasley will...
Hermione Granger will...
Severus Snape will...
Lord Voldemort will...
Remus Lupin will...
Ginny Weasley will...
Molly Weasley will...
Arthur Weasley will...
Nymphadora Tonks will...
Luna Lovegood will...
Neville Longbottom will...
Minerva McGonagall will...
Peter Pettigrew will...
Bellatrix Lestrange will...
Draco Malfoy will...
Rubeus Hagrid will...
Fred Weasley will...
George Weasley will...
Charlie Weasley will...
Fleur Delacour will...
Harry Potter will...
Is RAB Regulus Black?
Is RAB alive?
Did RAB destroy the locket Horcrux?
Is Harry a Horcrux?
Will Harry and Ginny end up together?
Will Harry and Hermione end up together?
Will Ron and Hermione end up together?
Will Draco and Hermione end up together?
Snape loyalties lie with:
Will Draco Malfoy redeem himself?
Will Percy Weasley redeem himself?
Will Hogwarts re-open?
Assuming Hogwarts does re-open, will Harry return?
Assuming Harry does return, will he graduate?
Is Dumbledore really dead?
Assuming Dumbledore is dead, did he plan his death?
Is Sirius Black dead?
Will any of Luna's conspiracy theories be found to be true? (If yes, please include which ones at the end)
Is/was Snape in love with Lily Potter?
We won't find this out
Will Wormtail repay his life debt to Harry?
Was Wormtail present at Godric's Hollow the night Voldemort killed Harry's parents?
Who will be the squib/muggle who uses magic later in life?
Is Harry the heir of Slytherin?
Will Dumbledore's Army re-form?
Will the Muggles ever discover the wizarding world?
We won't find this out
Will we ever see the other side of the veil?
We won't find this out
Will Neville be the student who gets a job as a Hogwarts professor after graduation, teaching herbology?
Will Hermione be Head Girl?
Will Ron be Head Boy?
Will Harry be Head Boy?
Will we see time travel in Book 7?
Did Voldemort ever fulfill his wish to make Horcruxes out of objects belonging to each Hogwarts' four founders?
Is Ollivander working for Voldemort?
Will Harry's scar disappear?
Does Voldemort have multiple spies in the Order?
Was the green potion Dumbledore drank in the cave the Draught of the Living Death?
Will Dumbledore's defeat of the dark wizard Grindlewald in 1945 be relevant?
Will Hagrid rekindle his romance with Madam Maxime?
Will Harry go through the veil?
Is the veil the gateway to the underworld?
Will we see the Mirror of Erised again?
Will McGonagall lead the Order of the Phoenix?
Will Voldemort ever realize his undying love for the giant squid?
Who will win the final battle?
Harry and the Order
The Wages Of Service To The Dark Lord
New Line Cinema is being sued by a collection of extras who played orcs, hobbits and the like in the Lord of the Rings movies who claim that it is rooking them over their cut of merchandizing profits:
Plaintiff Stephen Ure played two orcs in the saga (Gorbag in The Return of the King and Grishnákh in The Two Towers) and had several lines. "Pretty much whenever an orc delivered dialogue it was me," said the Auckland-based actor whose LOTR characters have appeared on posters and been sold as figures, busts, and statuettes. "At last count, the money made on mine alone was over $13.5 million profit. Somehow they're turning that into a loss, which none of us can understand." He added, "In any country, it's very difficult to make a living as an actor. The industry is just a fledgling industry [in New Zealand]…. So when you get shafted like this, it hurts."
One of the LOTR actors' attorneys, Henry Gradstein, of Gradstein & Luskin, agreed the Rings actors got a good, clear-cut deal. But he says New Line is employing what is commonly called "Hollywood accounting" to avoid paying the actors what they're due: The studio may have made $100 million on merchandise but is now deducting 50 percent of those profits as a "distribution fee." "What they're saying here is, 'We'll charge you a 50 percent distribution fee for the distribution of the merchandise….' There's nothing in the contract that says that. They just made it up. So right off the bat, they took half of the money off the table," Gradstein said.
You'd think that anyone who'd read the books would know that the words "good faith" are not in Sauron's vocabulary.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting - Stinging Insects Update
For those of you following the saga of the infestation of the Orgle Manor grounds by a swarm of bald-faced hornets this past weekend and my last minute "That's no moon, it's a space station!" decision not to face them head-on, I just received word that our handyman successfully set them up the bomb and destroyed the nest. Took him three cans of max hornet spray to do it, too.
In the end, I guess my only real regret at not doing the job myself was that now I can't do an "All your nests are belong to us" post. I had the hornet pics downloaded n' everything.
Scenes From Tonight's "Marathon Senate Debate" On Iraq
(My apologies to whoever put this together first, but I can't recall the link.)
"Ninety-nine little white flags on the wall,
Ninety-nine little white flags!
You take one down,
Waive it around,
Ninety-eight little white flags on the wall!
Ninety-eight little white flags on the wall....."
For what it's worth (which is exactly nothing), I begin to suspect that in their effort to take down Dubya at all costs, the Donks are seriously overplaying their Surrender First! hand, that much more progress is going to be made in Iraq than they anticipated, that the American people are going to notice this progress and rekindle their enthusiasm for victory, and that the Donks are going to get crushed politically for it. And serves 'em right, the bastards.
Oh, and as long as I'm at it, let me just say God Bless John McCain. I don't agree with a lot of his policies, but when it really counts the man stands tall:
General Petraeus has called al Qaeda “the principal short-term threat to Iraq.” What do the supporters of this amendment believe to be the consequences of our leaving the battlefield with al Qaeda in place? If we leave Iraq prematurely, jihadists around the world will interpret the withdrawal as their great victory against our great power. Their movement thrives in an atmosphere of perceived victory; we saw this in the surge of men and money flowing to al Qaeda following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. If they defeat the United States in Iraq, they will believe that anything is possible, that history is on their side, that they really can bring their terrible rule to lands the world over. Recall the plan laid out in a letter from Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, before his death. That plan is to take shape in four stages: establish a caliphate in Iraq, extend the “jihad wave” to the secular countries neighboring Iraq, clash with Israel – none of which shall commence until the completion of stage one: expel the Americans from Iraq. Mr. President, the terrorists are in this war to win it. The question is: Are we?
Lovitz Beats On Dick
No, this isn't a Pee-Wee Herman type story. Jon Lovitz apparently pummelled Andy Dick at a comedy club. And from what I can see, I don't blame him.
Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada, who witnessed the assault, said, "Jon picked Andy up by the head and smashed him into the bar four or five times, and blood started pouring out of his nose." Lovitz told Page Six, "All the comedians are glad I did it because this guy is a [bleep]hole."I always found Andy Dick to be a particularly odd bird. I remember him licking Farrah Fawcett's face during the William Shatner "Celebrity Roast" a while back. But man, the guy really is a sick little monkey, isn't he?
Lovitz and Dick have been at loggerheads since a 1997 Christmas party at Hartman's house, five months before his troubled wife Brynn flipped out, fatally shooting Hartman, then killing herself. "Andy was doing cocaine, and he gave Brynn some after she had been sober for 10 years. Phil was furious about it - and then five months later he's dead," said Lovitz, adding that when he filled in on Hartman's "Newsradio" sitcom, "I told Andy, 'I wouldn't be here now if you hadn't given Brynn that cocaine.' "
Last year, Lovitz related, a drunken Dick strolled up to his table at Ago in West Hollywood, rudely downed his guests' peach liqueur drinks, and "looked at me and said, 'I put the "Phil Hartman hex" on you - you're the next one to die.' I said, 'What did you say?' and he repeated it. I wanted to punch his face in, but I don't hit women."
When the two ran into each other at the Laugh Factory last Wednesday, "I wanted him to say he was sorry for the 'Phil Hartman hex,' " Lovitz told us. "First he says, 'I don't remember saying that.' Then he leans in and says, 'You know why I said it? Because you said I killed Phil Hartman.' Which I never said. Then he asked me to be in his new movie.
"I grabbed him by the shirt and leaned him over and said, 'I don't want to be in your movie! I don't want to be in your life!' I pushed him against the rail. Then I pushed him again really hard. A security guard broke it up. I'm not proud of it . . . but he's a disgusting human being." Dick's rep said he had no comment.
Scientists Find Too Many Hen-Fests Make Girls Crazier
A researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia has found that girls who talk very extensively about their problems with friends are likely to become more anxious and depressed.
The research was conducted by Amanda Rose, associate professor of psychological sciences in the College of Arts and Science. The six-month study, which included boys and girls, examined the effects of co-rumination – excessively talking with friends about problems and concerns. Rose discovered that girls co-ruminate more than boys, especially in adolescence, and that girls who co-ruminated the most in the fall of the school year were most likely to be more depressed and anxious by the spring....
“For years, we have encouraged kids to find friends who they can talk to about their problems, and with whom they can give and receive social support,” Rose said. “In general, talking about problems and getting social support is linked with being healthy. What’s intriguing about these findings is that co-rumination likely represents too much of a good thing. Some kids, especially girls, are taking talking about problems to an extreme. When that happens, the balance tips, and talking about problems with friends can become emotionally unhealthy.”
We boys understood long ago that rumination should only occur when one is alone. Behind a locked door. In the dark. And that business about going blind is a total myth.
All fooling aside, I think there is a kind of auto-suggestion that can occur if venting about problems isn't subject to some kind of system of checks and balances, particularly where maliable idiodic teenaged minds are involved.
Incidentally, in answer to Dr. Helen's question of whether "this over-talking and resulting anxiety and depression extends to adult women," based on my empirical observation, I'd say well double yeah, at least with those who grew up kvetching excessively. The daughter is the mother of the woman.
Another reason to be pro-life . . .
LMC fav Rosario Dawson. Reading material is in short supply at Forward Operating Base LMC and what is here gets recycled. I picked up the April 2006 issue of Esquire with Rosario on the cover. In it, she reveals she was the product of a union between a 16-year old girl and con straight out of prison. Her mother was in the abortion clinic, felt her move, and walked out to the thanks of men everywhere.
Return of the G-File?
Jonah says it's back:
By the way, I knew the G-File hadn’t been appearing much around here when relative newcomer Nathan Goulding — a.k.a. “Chaka” to “Corner” readers — once asked me: “What’s the G-File?” Oh, how poor Chaka was beaten that day. Though a secular Jew, I nonetheless visited the wrath of Israel upon him. I must have wailed on his head with his aluminum leg braces for hours. Even now, all you have to do is start a sentence with the “Jee” sound — as in “Gee, these pretzels are making me thirsty,” or “Gee, Lance sure drinks a lot of beer” — and a flinching Chaka pleads for mercy, in his panic knocking down his cubicle walls, as if he was Gollum seeing Sam Gamgee come through door, stinking drunk, ranting about how his wife left him for a particularly effeminate elf and he needs to take it out somebody. But we didn’t kill poor Chaka (When The Walls Fell) because we’ve gone through more webguys than Spinal Tap went through drummers.
I believe the G-File was the first regular web column that really nabbed my attention back in the late 90's when we office slaves started keeping multiple browser windows open at work all day. More than once I had to hastily explain away muffled snorts, guffaws, and streams of coffee cascading out of my eyes, nose and ears as reactions to the funniest thing ever some potential client just said. In the hiatus during which Goldberg's been working on his book, I've missed it sorely. Whether he can return to the glory days remains to be seen, but I for one am certainly willing to welcome him back.
A Kennedy wife shoots and scores!
As long as we are on matters pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church, the former Mrs. Joseph P. Kennedy, II fought the issuance of a decree of annulment by the Archdiocese of Boston. She said her marriage failed, but that didn't mean the marriage never existed, and accordingly, her children are the product of a Catholic marriage. Last month, the Vatican issued a ruling reversing the archdiocese. In other words, she won.
Robbo, it's time to test the waters . . .
Benedict sweeps away the remaining restrictions on celebration of the Latin Mass. The Mass has been celebrated in the venacular since around the time I was born so I am looking forward to experiencing it as it was celebrated for centuries. Our monsignor at home is pushing 70 but I think he is up for it. Now, if he would only do something about those "liturgical dancers . . ."
Elizabeth Edwards Dares To Criticize Nurse Ratched
In a Salon interview:
Look, I'm sympathetic, because when I worked as a lawyer, I was the only woman in these rooms, too, and you want to reassure them you're as good as a man. And sometimes you feel you have to behave as a man and not talk about women's issues. I'm sympathetic -- she wants to be commander in chief. But she's just not as vocal a women's advocate as I want to see. John is. And then she says, or maybe her supporters say, "Support me because I'm a woman," and I want to say to her, "Well, then support me because I'm a woman." The question is not so much how she campaigns -- that's theater. The question is, what does her campaign tell you about how she'll govern? And I'm not convinced she'd be as good an advocate for women. She needs a rationale greater for her campaign than I've heard. When she announced her candidacy she said, "I'm in it to win it." What is that? That's not a rationale.Oh, them's fightin' words. I can't wait for the response.
And you just know it's coming.
Feed The Llama Meme - Update
In response to my ongoing Gratuitous Feed the Llama Meme -which will remain open the rest of this week - The Irish Elk reminded me of a cookbook I have stowed away among my Royal Navy Geekery collection:
Lobscouse and Spotted Dog: Which It's a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels, by Anne Chotzinoff Grossman and Lisa Grossman Thomas.
Of course. Of course! Why didn't I think of that? With all of the time on my hands, surely I can cobble together at least one gen-u-ine Royal Navy officers' dinner. Oh, ha ha ha ha!
This is true especially as I am just finishing up rereading H.M.S. Surprise for the umpteenth time. A week or two ago I admitted that I had started on the series again but was going to limit myself to one book at a time, reading other authors in between. Well, that didn't seem to happen, as I quickly went through Master & Commander and Post Captain. But I'm going to stop now for real - the first three books encompass what might be called the First Rise of Captain Aubrey, and it's more than natural to wait a bit before carrying on the first plateau of his success with The Mauritius Command. In the meantime, Tom Wolfe and G.K. Chesterton are next in line.
That's My Church - Scorched Earth Division
A leader for 19 churches that have left The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the Diocese of Virginia and affiliated with two orthodox African Anglican provinces, says that the Episcopal Church's "terrorizing tactics" will fail and the volunteer laity of those churches being sued by the diocese are immune from civil liability.
Jim Oakes, vice-chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia for 15 Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in Americas (CANA) affiliated churches plus four with the Province of Uganda, told VirtueOnline, "We are supremely confident with what we have done and with the right motives. We have already won. The legal fights are merely distracting and unfortunate."
Oakes said he could find no motive for the Episcopal Church's suing lay individuals except with the motive "to terrorize us."
"Virginia law is abundantly clear that voluntary leaders of non-profit organizations are immune from civil liability unless the plaintive alleges willful misconduct or criminal negligence and they have not alleged any of this," he told VOL. "They are trying to terrorize people and we believe that their only intention it to send a signal to lay church leaders across the country who follow us. They are trying to implement a dampening effect on other churches that are looking at us and hope they will lie low and not try and leave the Episcopal Church. Attorneys for the diocese and The Episcopal Church are following a scorched earth policy."
The Episcopal Church recently filed a motion amending their lawsuit to add individual vestry members who were elected to the vestries of these new churches long after they had left TEC according to Oakes.
"This makes the sin more egregious. These lay people were not even on board when the parishes were with TEC, but since they left the diocese and TEC and joined CANA and the Anglican District of Virginia they have now been singled out by the diocese for legal action. It is all about intimidation."
Emphasis added. Keep that one in mind the next time Her High Priestessness goes into her Why-Can't-We-All-Just-Get-Along? shtick. Velvet glove? Meet iron fist.
Meanwhile, a group of retired bishops are demanding to know just where the hell the money is coming from to support this campaign:
Four retired bishops called on Executive Council to state how much The Episcopal Church has spent in recent years on litigation and to make public where the money is coming from in order to conduct litigation.
“The Episcopal Church is already involved in expensive lawsuits in Los Angeles, Virginia, Florida, San Diego, New York and elsewhere. Now the Executive Council is threatening even more legal action against four dioceses who affirm their membership in the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” the bishops wrote in an open letter dated July 14. “We would like to know where the money is coming from to conduct this litigation, especially in view of the fact that the program budget is being reduced because insufficient funds are being received from dioceses.”
The letter was signed by the Rt. Rev. C.F. Allison, retired Bishop of South Carolina; the Rt. Rev. Maurice Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas; the Rt. Rev. Alex D. Dickson, retired Bishop of West Tennessee and the Rt. Rev. William C. Wantland, retired Bishop of Eau Claire.
The bishops concluded by noting that “an open and transparent disclosure is crucially important to avoid speculation, rumors and consequent distrust of The Episcopal Church.”
Well, good luck with that.
"The money? We held a bake sale."
A presentation on the budget at the March Executive Council meeting noted that the cost of legal assistance to dioceses and disciplinary activities in 2006 had exceeded the amount budgeted by roughly $900,000.
A summary of revised legal expenses for 2007 amounted to $1.2 million in three categories: Title IV investigation, trial and legal costs amounting to $300,000; legal assistance to dioceses in the amount of $500,000; and corporate legal expenses equal to $362,611.
Executive Council also appropriated $100,000 in 2006 toward the House of Bishops Ad Hoc Task Force on Property Disputes. The task force also received $25,000 from the Church Pension Fund. The task force had not spent any of the funds as of November 2006, when the existence of the task force funds was made public.
Gee, just think of how many starving little kids in Africa all that jack could save if it weren't being blown on pummelling dissenting parishes.
Happy Birthday, Peter Schickele!
The, er, discoverer of P.D.Q. Bach, the last and least of the post-Johann Sebastian generation of Bachs, was born this day in 1935 in Ames, Iowa.
Aside from the music of P.D.Q. Bach that he has "rescued" and recorded, I regularly damn Schikele for the many ear-worms he has planted in my head with his mixed theme pieces such as the "Unbegun Symphony", "Eine Kleine Nicht Musick" and "Bach Portrait". To this day, I cannot hear the opening strains of Brahms' Third Symphony without half expecting the orchestra to suddenly break into "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-Di-Ay".
Nonetheless, Schickele is both a brilliant musician as well as a very funny man and I encourage you to listen to his CDs, radio programs and concerts whenever you get the opportunity. As Bill Cosby used to say, "If you aren't careful, you might learn something."
In the midst of a long discussion on the debate between cats and dogs over at the Corner this morning, Jonah relates this rayther startling nugget:
The most creative way to use a cat as a weapon happened in World War II. The United States’ OSS (Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the CIA) needed a way to guide bombs to sink German ships. Somebody hit upon the inspiration that since cats have such a strong disdain of getting wet and always land on their feet that if you attached a cat to a bomb and drop it in the vicinity of a ship, the cat’s instinct to avoid the water would force it to guide the bomb to the enemy’s deck. It is unclear how the cat was supposed to actually guide a bomb attached to it as it fell from the sky but the plan never got past the testing stages since the cats had a bad habit of becoming unconscious mid-drop.
Without researching it further, my finger hovers over the b/s button on this one, pleasant idea though it is. It reminds me of a story Mom told me years ago about a British Admiralty plan (perhaps suggested by Winston himself) to train seagulls to poop on Nazi U-boat periscope lens, another legend I never made up my mind whether or not to believe.
July 16, 2007
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
Dennis Miller: The Raw Feed (2003)
This is the second Dennis Miller HBO stand up routine I've watched in recent months and I had exactly the same reaction as I did to the first -
I watched Dennis Miller's All In...[and] found it rayther flat. Miller is a very smart guy and a very funny one, but you have to work hard to keep up with him and it seemed as if his Las Vegas audience couldn't quite do it. This, in turn, seemed to throw Miller off a bit, as he often looked slightly flustered and forced. Too bad.
To lose one audience, Mr. Miller, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.
I just can't help thinking that an hour monologue in front of a large crowd is not Miller's strongest milieu.
Incidentally, I've got both Denis Leary and Bob Newhart floating in the ol' queue, so don't think I'm not covering a fair portion of the stand-up waterfront here.
Perhaps Some Day ALL Politics Will Be Chest Level
It's the Obama-Babes vs. the Rudy!-Cuties:
I suppose some people will argue that this will get more people "engaged" in the election. Me, I think it'll backfire - I got confused as to which group of girls was backing which candidate, and after a minute or two I didn't really care any more.
Yips! to Tom Gross at NRO's Media Blog.
UPDATE: Mother O' God, looks like Ol' Fred's posse is getting in on this game, too:
(Pic accompanies linked article at Seacoastonline.com)
This is kinda neat: Rare blue, spotted, albino lobsters land in York
I never knew there was such a thing, but apparently they exist:
According to an online article titled "Lobster Parts," on the Gulf of Maine Aquarium Web site, all lobsters have shells colored with three pigments: red, blue and yellow. A lobster may not have all three pigments at birth and it may grow to be red, blue, albino or spotted.
Jonathan Grabowski of the aquarium said, "To the best of my understanding, the rare color morphs are a consequence of recessive alleles of lobster color being passed on from both parents, similar to many genetic diseases in humans. About 1 in 1,000 individuals carry the recessive trait (i.e., at least one of their two traits are blue), so the odds of two mating individuals producing a blue lobster is 1 in 1000 x 1 in 1000, which equals 1 in 1,000,000."
Except for albinos, all the color variations of lobsters turn red when they are cooked.
It's probably just as well that even the blue ones turn red when you cook 'em. Our lobster dish is just about the same speckled blue as the guy pictured above. Toss him on there without his changing and we might never see him again!
OBL: Dead Or Alive?
New Bin Laden tape out recently. Or is it? HotAir pegs it as footage from 2002.
NRO's Michael Ledeen:
It seems to be from a video shot in 2001 or 2002. If that is correct, then I would draw two conclusions: first, that it is additional confirmation that he is dead. (If he were alive, they could do a new one, right?) And second, that this is a sign of panic, a poorly manufactured pseudo-blockbuster appearance designed to rally the troops, who must be getting fairly discouraged these days. The war is not going well for them in Iraq or Afghanistan (where the big "spring offensive" didn't happen)or Lebanon or England or over here. The best thing they've got going for them at the moment is (are) the surrender monkeys.Does it even matter at this point? If he's alive, he's probably in such rough shape that he's not running the show anymore. If he's dead? Well, as Richard Dreyfus said in "Jaws": "You've still got one hell of a fish out there. With a mouth about this big."
Dead or alive, it's Al Qaeda we're fighting not one man. But Ledeen's point that this looks like a desperation move is interesting. Are the Jihadi faithful getting down in the dumps? Are recruitment efforts hitting hard times? One can hope.
Frankly, I'm surprised that Al Jazeera hasn't been complicit in some kind of "Weekend At Bernie's" routine with OBL's body.
Feeeeeeed Me, Seymour!
Just a reminder in case you don't prowl the Butchers' Shop over the weekends that the Gratuitous Feed The Llama Meme will be accepting suggested recipes for Robbo's impending Temporary Bachelor Status all this week. Many thanks to those of you who have already sent in your ideas.
Gratuitous Royal Navy Geekery Posting
We waaaaants it........
This review in the Telegraph makes enough favorable comparisons between Mostert and the legendary A. T. Mahan that I immediately dashed over to the Devil's Website to pre-order a copy. I'll post my own review once it arrives and is consumed.
Happy Birthday, Sir Joshua Reynolds!
One of Britain's greatest portrait painters, Reynolds was born this day in 1723.
I love Reynolds' portrature for two reasons. First, he is rightly recognized for his highly stylized treatments, bringing out the true character of the sitter, as it were. As this article from the UK Telegraph puts it,
[H]e pays his sitter the compliment of showing him as he really looked, and so makes the nobility of his demeanour all the more believable. Until Reynolds, portraiture had been a branch of painting taken for granted by English artists and patrons. It was his capacity to take portraiture seriously, to treat it as a genre worthy of a great artist, that broke this mould.
'Zactly so. However, I think I appreciate this even more because of the actual subjects he portrayed, the last quarter of the 18th Century in Britain being perhaps my very favorite time and place in history. Here are just a few samples:
First is Sir Joseph Banks, the great naturalist, traveller and patron of science:
Here again is Samuel "Dictionary" Johnson, writer, linguist, arbiter, professional crank:
Among Reynolds' many, many portraits of fashionable ladies, we have Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire:
Who was she, you ask? Well, she was a Hollywood superstar of her age, a political hostess and society queen. She was also a Spencer, the distant aunt of Princess Diana. And like Diana, she was mad as a coot, especially when it came to relationships with men.
Finally, for you military buffs, we have (then) Lt. Col. Banastre "Bloody" Tarleton, the scourge of the American Continental Army:
Just from my thumbnail tag lines, I believe you can get a sense of the way Reynolds treated each of his subjects: scientist, critic, fashionable lady, dashing cavalryman, and yet each easily recognizable as specific individuals, not just types.
As to why I love late 18th Century Britain, well, that's perhaps an essay for when I'm feeling more rested and can give the question some deeper treatment. Suffice to say for the moment that this was one of those times and places in history in which the various social and economic forces came into an exquisite balance, the ancien regime still in place, but mellowed, modified and refreshed by a healthy injection of bourgeois energy and industry, producing between them a cultural sensibility that looked both forward and backward.
The Founding Member of the "10,000 Club"
10,000 LOSSES, that is. Congrats to the Philadelphia Phillies who received their milestone beat-down yesterday.
The Phils have become the first - the FIRST - sports franchise in the history or...well, professional sports...to hit ten THOUSAND losses. It's like my grandmother always used to tell me, everyone is good at something.
And for the Phillies that would be losing.
Gee, Jimmy. Guess you guys really are the team to beat.
God must have a special place in heaven reserved for these long-suffering fans.
On a side note, Mets pitcher Tom Glavine earned his 298th career win this weekend - two shy of the 300 mark. Congrats, Tom!
July 15, 2007
I'm Robbo the Llama And I'm A Coward
Remember the nest of bald-faced hornets that stung my attention Friday evening? Remember how I said I was going to grab some wasp spray and take it down?
Well. Armed with said wasp spray, I crept out at dusk last evening to have a go at the thing. I got closer.....and closer....and closer....and realized that my previous estimation that it was the size of a bowling ball was, erm, sadly under the mark. More like one of those golf course water coolers in reality.
Faced with this revised vision of my expectations and already feeling that a hundred pairs of eyes were watching me, daring me to start something (not to mention the residual effects of having been nailed by at least three of the blighters already), I........retired.
No freakin' way.
Not only is the damned thing 'uge, it sits nearly twenty feet up in a tree. I would practically have to stand directly under it to get a clean shot.
Perhaps in my yoot, perhaps in my younger, more carefree, what my crew coach would have called my "back alley" days, I would have weighed in and started shooting. But not now.
Yes, I am a coward. But perhaps I'm old enough now that I don't mind being called one so much. (I know there's a literary tag about this somewhere, but I just can't quite get it at the moment.)
Our handyman is coming out in the morning to assess the situation. If he feels that he can't take down the nest himself, we're going to call in the pro's. In the meantime, the back yard remains more or less off limits.
By the way, did I ever mention that one of my ancestors was a knight of King Arthur? (I think this is where I get my musickal turn, too.) Check out the family home movie:
July 14, 2007
Gratuitous Bastille Day Posting
Vive Le Roi!
That is all.
Gratuitous Feed The Llama Meme
A week from tomorrow, the Missus and the Llama-ettes head to Connecticut for two weeks to visit grandparents and attend camp. This, of course, leaves self in Temporary Bachelor Mode.
I was discussing food arrangements with the Missus last evening and she let fall a remark to the effect that I'll probably eat nothing but ribeye with two veg the entire time, her general theme being that I'm a picky and unimaginative eater.
Humph! As usual, there is a great deal to what she says. However, it occurred to me that perhaps this might be a chance to bend a bit. Branch out, as it were.
This is where you Camelidophiles can help out.
I am hereby tossing out a bleg for recipes that I can cook for myself in the Missus' absence. I'm looking specifically for meals that are interesting, yet not too terribly complicated. On the weekends I'll have plenty of time for cooking, but I don't generally get home until 7:30 or so on weekdays, so for those nights would prefer something relatively fast and easy. Oh, and feel free to suggest wines or other beverage to go with them.
I have only a few limitations: As I say, keep it fairly simple, because while I am competent enough and not afraid to try new techniques, I'm hardly an expert chef. Also, no bivalves (clams, mussels, oysters, etc.). No mushrooms. No eggplant. No broccoli. Oh, and I hate tomatoes, although I don't mind cooking with them. And bear in mind that the weather is likely to be hot n' humid round here, so try not to suggest anything too heavy, either.
Drop your suggestions directly into the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack. If/when I use your recipe, I will post it here (with appropriate attribution) together with my appraisal. Depending on what I think of it, I may praise you to High Heaven or else slander you without mercy, as well.
Yip! Yip! Yip!
Jaysus! Do I have ter draw yer a bleedin' roadmap?
At reader request, some more info:
- I don't have a crockpot
- I eats the ribeye because I luuuuuuuvs it. Meat is good.
- Yes, I like teh spice and have a particular fondness for the TexMex of my yoot.
- I'm no fan of leftovers
And some more info you did not request:
- I don't like fish
- When I become Emperor of the World, putting pine-apple on pizza will be punishable by firing squad
- What the hell is wrong with Arby's anyway? Huh? Huh?
July 13, 2007
More Gratuitous Friday the 13th Posting
Say hello to the Bald-Faced Hornet. I got pnk'd by a couple of 'em when I strolled out into the yard just now. Dayum, that hurts!
I suppose they've got a nest somewhere, although I haven't noticed it before. Tomorrow's mission: search and destroy.
(Incidentally, meat tenderizer is an excellent first aid remedy for stings and bites of this sort.)
UPDATE: Found it. The thing's in a tree across the way and looks to be the size of a freakin' bowling ball. You can see it easily from the house if you're looking for it. I walked right underneath without even noticing. I suppose I was fortunate to get away with just a couple of stings. Also fortunate that one of the Llama-ettes didn't stumble into the thing instead.
Gratuitous Friday the 13th Posting
It seems appropriate to the day. PLUS, it features Carol Cleveland in a maid's costume:
Things I Don't Understand
Last evening, I ran off The Prince and the Showgirl for the umpteenth time. It's the story of Charles, Prince Regent of Carpathia (Laurence Olivier) and Elsie Marina, the plucky American stage girl (Marilyn Monroe), thrown together in London during the 1911 coronation of George V. If you haven't seen this movie before, I would recommend it. Olivier is screamingly funny doing his Balkan Royalty shtick, as is Sybil Thorndike as the Queen Dowager, and many of their lines ("So amusink how you vil laugh" and "I desire a glass of dat Champagne I see over there") have entered into the family lexicon.
But what continues to mystify me every time I watch this movie is the attraction of Marilyn Monroe. I. Just. Don't. Get. It.
I try to be objective. I try to think what kind of impact her brand of sultriness had on the Hollywood of the 50's. I try to figure what made her stand out to such an extent that not only was she pursued by legions of drooling fans in her own day, but she still has a fiercely loyal following now.
But I can't. I just can't. To me, she's simply a rayther vulgar bimbo.
Elsie Marina has her Soul's Awakening in Westminster Abbey. Yeah, right.
My favorite line of Monroe's in the movie is when, in defiance to the anti-American comments the Prince is making to a friend over the telephone, Elsie lifts her glass of champagne and mouths, "God bless President Taft!" (Only it comes out "Puhresd'nt Taft".) I always laugh heartily at this, even though I don't believe that was the intention of the line.
Incidentally, Olivier records in his autobiography that he was quite prepared to fall in love with Monroe when they began this project. This feeling apparently lasted all of about ten minutes after he started working with her. The ego, the tantrums, the lack of professionalism, the two-bit "method" acting induced in him a violent urge to strangle her.
Yips! from Gary:
Perspective, Robbo. It's all perspective.
1) At the time, a blonde bimbo bursting out her gown on screen was a true novelty. It was downright groundbreaking. Today, we're so bombarded by them in the 24/7 media I daresay we suffer from "bimbo fatigue".
2) "The Prince and the Showgirl" was a vanity project by Monroe's own production company (its first and only venture) as a way for her to show what a "serious actress" she was. Fact is, she wasn't. But if you watch Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot" you'd be hard pressed to think of another actress who would work better with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. A classic, I tell ya.
Look at it this way, years from now one of your grandson's will probably take the helm here and post something similar about Paris Hilton (though I'm already asking the question "why?").
Happy Birthday, Han Solo!
Okay, actually actor Harrison Ford was born on this day in 1942. But I prefer to pay respects to one of the best characters in American cinema – hands down.
Picture 1977. Disco, ugly clothes, the worst President in American history, gas lines, the “misery index”, recession, the Soviet threat, Global Cooling, Son of Sam, no cable, no internet, no video games, cartoons shown ONLY on Saturday morning from 8am-Noon and seemingly very little for a kid to be happy about. Those of you who weren’t born yet will only ever read about how much it sucked.
America needed a hero. This 10-year old desperately needed a hero. And we got one that summer. Han Solo fit the bill. Beneath the gruff but casual “I’m in it for me” attitude was a blaster-slinging mofo who one minute could open up a can of whoop-ass on a platoon of Stormtroopers and the next melt every woman’s heart with two simple words: “I know”.
When you were a kid and you and your friends played “Star Wars” you all fought over who got to play Han Solo. Admit it. THE best part of that movie – the one that made you cheer – was when the Millenium Falcon zoomed in on those Tie Fighters out of nowhere and the man you thought had up and run away with his reward let out an infectious “Yeeeeaaaah-HOO!”.
Happy Birthday, Han. Thanks for the memories. And we all know that Greedo did not shoot first. And he was asking for it.
Yips! from Robbo: I can't help but notice that we Llamas are the super-king-kamayaya-maya google hit return for "You're all clear, kid!"
Gratuitous Self-Analysis Posting
I had quite a vivid dream about my father last night. In it, I was scheduled to go to some kind of military training camp and was supposed to travel there by train. The train station was just across the street from my house. As I heard the whistle of the train approaching the station, I suddenly remembered that I hadn't packed yet and began pulling clothes out of my chest of drawers. However, I quickly realized that there was no chance of getting everything together and getting to the station before the train pulled out. After a brief moment of panic, I got hold of myself and said, "Well, why not just drive to the camp? I can get there faster, in fact, and I'll have my car with me. So it all works out for the best."
Meanwhile, Dad somehow appeared in the room. He saw that I wasn't packed and had missed the train, and immediately flew into a temper, shouting things like, "You screwed up! Jaysus, what in da Christ is the matter with you?" I, in turn, started shouting back at him that if he'd only shut up for a moment he'd see that everything was fine, that it was taken care of and that there was no problem after all. He didn't stop to listen, but kept on yelling, as did I.
I woke up still shouting.
Ah, my thrifty Scots subconscious - serving up issues in a bleeding obvious way so that I don't have to waste money on a shrink! Hoots! Toots!
Anyhoo, I write about this in part because it's the first dream I've had about Dad since he died and in part because it has only recently occurred to me how wearing his death has been, how drained of energy I've felt most of this year. As I've mentioned before - and as my dream pretty well illustrates - I was never close with the man, so I didn't have that big cathartic emotional release when he died. Instead, it's been a long, slow bleed. And, despite the warnings that plenty of people gave me, I've frankly been surprised at how much his death has affected me. I suppose this is one of those things, like having kids, that you can't really understand until you've been through it yourself.
I've also begun to better appreciate how all this has affected other parts of my life. In effect, I've circled the wagons, crouching into a protective huddle, cutting corners, getting by with the minimum and just trying to conserve my resources. This is why, for example, I haven't been much involved in the ongoing Episcopal civil war of late, much to the dismay of some of my co-parishioners. I must say that it's also fortunate that I'm in government practice at the moment, as I have not had to deal with a frenetic workload. And it's certainly had an effect on my blogging, keeping me skating along on the surface and not getting myself too committed about anything, either intellectually or emotionally. (My apologies if this annoys you.) I've not been especially satisfied with myself about this withdrawal, but on the other hand part of me also says that I should cut myself some slack. I suspect my dream ties into that conflict, as well as to the long-standing problems with Dad.
I assume that all of this is perfectly normal and that it will eventually go away. Indeed the fact that I've realized what is happening and am beginning to get somewhat impatient with myself about it suggests that the period of this, what, mourning funk? memoriam drift? is coming to an end. I'll be going on vacation in a few weeks' time and have begun to think of that as the marker, the point after which I can come back more fully into the world, refreshed and renewed.
(Doctor: Now vee may perhaps to begin, yes?)
July 12, 2007
Why I am a Burkean, in one easy lesson
This is just wrong:
Lawyers and judges are to break with centuries-old tradition and cease wearing horse-hair wigs of white fake curls in non-criminal cases, the head of the country's judiciary announced on Thursday.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, said new dress rules would mean the requirement for the wigs, which legal professionals have worn since the 17th century, would not be needed in civil or family court cases.
Wing collars and bands can also be dispensed with in such cases according to the reforms, while judges will need just one gown in future instead of a variety of colourful outfits currently required.
The wigs will still be worn in criminal courts.
"At present High Court judges have no less than five different sets of working dress, depending on the jurisdiction in which they are sitting and the season of the year," Phillips said in a statement.
"After widespread consultation it has been decided to simplify this."
A review carried out in 2003 found that more than two thirds of respondents wanted to eliminate the wigs in civil cases, although most said criminal court judges should still wear them.
Insert your Lord Chancellor's ruling on wearing of white after Labor Day joke here.
The pictures accompanying the story are photoshop gold.
UPDATE: I'm saving this for future reference to mess with, the next time Robbo gets his shorts in a twist on a finer point of law or otherwise mocks the legacy of Sandra Day O'Connor:
Thursday Stupid: Harry Potter Edition
Now, if they had mixed it with Herminone and Snape, that would have been--dare I say it---delicious?
Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis
One day I happened to be down in the stacks (that's library talk for "where the books are" my friend! I'm happy to demystify the magic world of library jargon for the uninitiated . . .) when my eye fell on Guadalcanal Diary. I never saw the 1943 movie. But something made me take it off the shelf and carry it home.
Richard Tregaskis was 26 when he accompanied Marines onto Guadalcanal in one of the first waves of boats to land there. This is his most famous book and it set a high bar for war reportage from the moment of publication. He began writing it on the B-24 Liberator that took him home - or so the story goes - soon after he left Guadalcanal on September 26, 1942.
It was an instant best-seller and a January 1943 Book-of-the-Month Club favorite. It gave readers at home a taste of life on the front, when news was heavily censored and mail was slow. Parents, siblings and girlfriends of the men who were fighting must have taken a lot of comfort from the scenes Tregaskis paints of cowardly Japanese pilots ditching their bombs before reaching American targets and Japanese troops abandoning campsites so rapidly at American advance that they left behind all of their gear.
This is what one of the Amazon reviewers said about it:
"Diary" is a bit understated, perhaps due to wartime censors. Tregaskis mentions disease, the shortages of food and equipment, and the sense of the marines that they were abandoned by the Navy and forgotten by the "Brass." I suspect, however, that the fear and desperation of the Marines at Guadalacanal were considerably stronger than he expressed.
Its clear that Tregaskis reported only carefully chosen incidents. He mentions hardships on the island, but his tone tends to downplay them. One doesn't have to read carefully at all to discern an underlying sense of optimism. Tregaskis recorded the hometown of nearly man whos name made it into the book. Clearly the author wanted American readers to feel proud of their warriors and to imagine that victory would eventually fall to the Allied forces.
For example: He depicts several gruesome scenes of mangled Japanese corpses, but never allows the reader to see American bodies strewn about in a similar manner. Many readers wouldn't notice the omission, but I saw in this a skillful editor at work, building morale back home in a package that comes across as honest and even-handed.
I think Tregaskis did an amazingly skillful job with this book, never wringing the reader's emotions, and presenting himself as near-to-invisible as possible. He lets readers see the men who surrounded him, through small human details, and experience their transformation from green troops to hardened combat fighters in the six weeks Tregaskis was there. Especially for such a young man this is an outstanding work.
Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)
I see that today is the annual commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne, fought in 1690 in northern Ireland, in which the Protestant William III defeated the Catholic James II, thereby (in retrospect) finally putting the English throne out of the grasp of the Stuarts.
I have to confess that for many, many years I assumed that the Syracuse University Orangemen were named after the Ulster Protestants whom James sought to quash and who were defended by William. It was only very recently that I learned the real reason was because the Syracusans didn't like their previous colors (pink and blue) very much. I must say, I don't much blame SU, but I rayther prefer my imagined explanation.
UPDATE: Pace Beth, I meant "northern Ireland" in the geodirectional sense, not the political one. I've dropped the case on the "N" just to clarify that.
Mr. Pants-Happy Strikes Again
Not satisfied with making a complete ass of himself the first time he tried to sue the dry-cleaners for $54 million over a lost pair of pants, Roy L. Pearson goes for it again:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A customer who sued a dry cleaner for $54 million over a missing pair of pants has asked the judge who threw out the widely mocked case to reconsider, saying she committed a "fundamental legal error."
Roy L. Pearson, a local administrative law judge, argued Wednesday that District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff failed to address his legal claims. Bartnoff had ruled that the business owners did not violate the city's consumer protection law by failing to live up to his expectations of a "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign once displayed in the store.
"The court effectively substituted a guarantee of satisfaction with 'reasonable' limits and preconditions for the unconditional and unambiguous guarantee of satisfaction the defendant-merchant chose to advertise for seven years," Pearson wrote. "That was a fundamental legal error."
If Bartnoff rejects Pearson's motion, he could take the matter to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
From what I've read of this fellah, I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if he took it all the way to the Supremes. The man seems to have some......issues with reality.
New Fav Band
You might have heard Giant Drag doing a cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" in a television ad for Nip/Tuck.
If not, you can listen to them now. You can't SEE them on the "video" because (I think) it's simply a bootleg from the CD.
Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM) - Da Birds Edition
Here rests a bird called Starling,
A foolish little Darling.
He was still in his prime
When he ran out of time,
And my sweet little friend
Came to a bitter end,
Creating a terrible smart
Deep in my heart.
Gentle reader! Shed a tear,
For he was dear,
Sometimes a bit too jolly
And, at times, quite folly,
I bet he is now up on high
Praising my friendship to the sky,
Which I render
For when he took his sudden leave,
Which brought to me such grief,
He was not thinking of the man
Who writes and rhymes as no one can.
A poem written by none other than W.A. Mozart to commemorate the death of his pet starling, a bird that was supposed to be quite adept at picking up and repeating musical lines. I post it here because I've just heard Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major (K. 453) on the radio and there is an old tale that the bird learned to whistle the theme of the last movement, only substituting a couple of flat notes for sharp ones. Mozart wrote the bird's version down in his expense book with the annotation "That was fine!" underneath.
They're ugly little spuds, but they do sing beautifully (both starlings and Mozart, I mean).
"The Last Tommy Of The Great War"
The Telegraph is carrying an interview with the last survivor of the WWI Battle of Passchendaele, 109 year old Harry Patch.
The man arranging his medals and sitting up straight for a photograph in the conservatory of a nursing home in Wells is the last British man alive to have served in the trenches during the First World War. The last survivor of Passchendaele, that three-month orgy of blood-letting in the mud of Flanders which began 90 years ago this month and commemorated by the Queen at Tyne Cot cemetery in Belgium today. The last Tommy of the Great War.
When he is gone, the British experience of daily life on the Western Front will be no man's land. No living man's land.
There are two other men alive who served between 1914 and 1918, but neither experienced the living nightmare of the front line. Henry Allingham, born two years earlier than Mr Patch, served in France with the Royal Naval Air Service and occasionally visited the front to recover downed aircraft, while Bill Stone was called up for the Royal Navy only two months before the Armistice and did not see action.
Mr Patch takes no pride in being the last of the millions who fought and died amid unmitigated horror. His improbable status sometimes overwhelms him, reducing him to silent contemplation.
"The poor bloody infantry. Dead right. That's what we were. For 1/6d a day."
Go read the rest. Fascinating stuff. And in honor of Mr. Patch, have you ever Kipled?
I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!
ATTENTION LLAMA MART SHOPPERS!
There is in fact a reviewer who hates the Simpsons now more than Robbo.
Ol' Fred Swats Back At The L.A. Times Ankle-Biters
As published by the guys at Powerline.
A lawyer who is a candidate or a prospective candidate for office finds himself in an interesting position because of the nature of the legal profession and the practice of law. This is true when the practice was as varied as mine, and it’s especially true when the office being considered is the Presidency of the United States.Read the whole thing here.
The easiest and most generally used tactic when running against a lawyer is to trade off a general perception that most people dislike lawyers. Goodness knows that a lot of lawyers have earned disfavor but, as it turns out, folks understand our system better than a lot of politicians think they do. In my first run for the Senate, my opponent tried the old demagoguery route – “He has even represented criminals!” – to no avail.
A first cousin of this ploy is to associate the lawyer with the views of his client. Now-United States Chief Justice John Roberts addressed this notion during his confirmation hearings. “… [I]t’s a tradition of the American Bar that goes back before the founding of the country that lawyers are not identified with the positions of their clients. The most famous example probably was John Adams, who represented the British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre.”
Roberts pointed out that Adams was actually vindicating the rule of law. Every person, unpopular or not, is entitled to representation. He further said, “That principle that you don’t identify the lawyer with the particular views of the client or the views that the lawyer advances on behalf of the client, is critical to the fair administration of justice.”
I'm fascinated at how aggressive the L.A. Times has been in going after an as-of-yet undeclared candidate.
The timing is interesting. That they would choose now before his candidacy officially takes off and gains some momentum (and hardly anyone is paying attention) is very telling. Perhaps they fear that once he gets going he'll be much harder to derail.
Maybe Ol' Fred said it best himself the other day: "I'm not gonna get down in the weeds with every thing that they dredge up over the next six months... but in terms of already being a target, I'll just say, they know who to be afraid of."
July 11, 2007
Behold Springfield Robbo:
The cynical expression encapsulates my opinion about the upcoming Simpsons movie, about which I continue to have a baaaaaad feeling (and the rank commercial flogging of which I am heartily sick).
Yips! From Springfield Gary:
I forgot to call Robbo that I was wearing my three-eyed fish shirt today (honestly, I didn't recall his choice and the the others were pretty lame).
Gratuitous Buck Blogging
“A Dream Of Jennifer” was probably the last really good episode of Season One of "Buck Rogers In The 25th Century". It was followed by two pretty cheesy offerings leading up to the season finale. The first was:
Ep. 1.21 “Space Rockers” (2/21/80)
Almost twenty-five years after Elvis first gyrated his pelvis and a few years before the first subliminal lyrics lawsuits started hitting the courts, the show gave us a vision of rock music warping the fragile egg-shell minds of the galaxy’s youth.
The music business apparently hasn't changed much in five hundred years. A self-important megalomaniac uses a widely-broadcast concert event to influence the young minds of the world and alter their behavior.
No, Al Gore and his "Live Earth" fiasco are long-gone by the 25th Century. This time around, Jerry Orbach (of "Law & Order" and "Dirty Dancing" fame) plays Lars Mangros, a slimy record producer who manages the hit rock band "Andromeda". He has hatched a plot to show the concert all over the intergalactic airwaves from his Musicworld planet. The frequency of the broadcast contains hypnotic subliminal signals that cause them to riot and turn the galaxy's capitals into one big "Girls Gone Wild" episode.
Andromeda is so big, they don't even need an opening act. And they're as much a visual show as a musical one.
Yes, the plot is that lame. But then, listen to this disco/pop fusion and tell me you don't want to go out and break something afterwards:
Betcha couldn't even watch the whole thing. And what's with those light-up dance ropes? Guess you can use them to keep your partner from getting away. There is a bit of a continuity problem here though. In the first episode of the season, Buck encourages the band at Ardala's reception to play some "rock". The musicians seem to have no idea what he's talking about. At this point, however, the Andromeda craze seems to have been going on for a while.
There were a couple of interesting guest spots besides Orbach. Richard Moll (Bull from "Night Court") plays his henchman. And the casting opportunities for "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" must been drying up because we get an appearance by Judy Landers (of the "Landers sisters", I always preferred Audrey myself) for the requisite cheesecake.
The band is totally unaware of Mangros' plot and they ultimately help Buck stop their manager from carrying it out. No one knows what happened to the band "Andromeda". They haven't done the VH-1 Behind the Music special for that one. But some of us parents of young chillun' will see some interesting similiarities in one of the Mouse House's latest creations:
Doodlebops, eh? Wonder what kind of subliminal messages could be coming from DeeDee, Rooney and Moe?
Episode Rating: Pass (Unless you really want to experience the off-the-scale cheese factor)
The next episode is so bad, it barely deserves a mention.
Ep. 1.22 “Buck's Duel To The Death” (3/20/80)
In a lot of ways, this episode is very much like "Planet of the Slave Girls" only without the coolness of Jack Palance. You have a tyrannical dictator called the Traybor who has special powers and plans an attack on the Defense Directorate. Only Buck can stop him because...get this...there is a prophecy that only a legendary 500 year old man called the Roshan can defeat him. Guess who they call in? Duh.
This episode is possibly one of the worst of Season One. It's so bad, this calls for a gratuitous Wilma photo:
There, I feel better now.
Episode Rating: Pass (No, really. Skip it. It's that bad.)
Next up: Julie Newmar inspires Buck to dress up in drag in "Flight of the War Witch" (just kidding about the cross-dressing thing).
The first post in this series can be found here.
What Would We Do Without Studies?
No shite, Sherlock.
Wives were more demanding—asking for changes in the relationship or in their partner—and were more likely to get their way than the husbands. This held regardless of who had chosen the issue.
The women were not just talking more than their husbands.
"It wasn't just that the women were bringing up issues that weren't being responded to, but that the men were actually going along with what they said,” Vogel explained. “[Women] were communicating more powerful messages, and men were responding to those messages by agreeing or giving in.”
One reason for in-charge wives could be that they carry the weight of making sure the family farm is running smoothly.
"Women are responsible for overseeing the relationship, making sure the relationship runs, that everything gets done, and that everybody's happy," Murphy said.
Wife power could signal a harmonious couple. "There's been research that suggests that's a marker of a healthy marriage—that men accept influence from their wives," Murphy said.
All I know after fourteen years of marriage is that the most important expression in the husband's lexicon for keeping a peaceful and happy household is "Yes, dear". I'm pretty sure the Missus would agree.
Gratuitous Ill-Informed Harry Potler Posting
So is this good or bad?
|You scored as Severus Snape, Well you're a tricky one aren't you? Nobody quite has you figured out and you'd probably prefer it stayed that way. That said you are a formidable force by anyone's reckoning, but there is certainly more to you than a frosty exterior and a bitter temper.|
Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.com
Having still never read one of the books nor seen one of the movies - for which I am enduring an increasing amount of flak from friends and family who don't seem to understand that I really am not at all interested - I really don't know what this means. But there you are.
Yips! to the Maximum Dumbledore.
INSIDE JOKE YIPS from Steve-O: It's wrong, but it's so delicious...
|You scored as Albus Dumbledore, Strong and powerful you admirably defend your world and your charges against those who would seek to harm them. However sometimes you can fail to do what you must because you care too much to cause suffering.|
Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.com
Rats, I was going for Cornelius Fudge.
John Cleese Is A Llama Fan
According to a story that reports the sale of his ranch in California.
"Cleese has said that he and his wife keep horses and also a menagerie of animals that includes llamas, alpacas, an emu, chinchillas and nearly a dozen cats."Who knew?
Well, it should come as no surprise. The Python alumni has been singing the praises of the Llamas for quite some time:
"Llamas are dangerous, so if you see one where people are swimming, you shout 'Look out, there are llamas!'"
Mike Nifong--there is hope for you yet!
The pursuit of justice, and all.
What Would Noah Do?
No, not the Biblical figure. Noah Webster, I mean. As someone who once lived less than two miles from the house that bears his name in West Hartford, CT, I've often considered how he would view our current treatment of his dictionary.
The folks at Merriam-Webster keep adding new entries every year. Language evolves and English in particular is subject to a continual expansion of vocabulary. But there's a particular addition this year that has me scratching my head: Ginormous.
Is this amalgam of Gigantic and Enormous really widespread enough to warrant inclusion in a dictionary? How about Fugly, for that matter? Bootylicious, perhaps? Are they really words or merely colorful malapropisms used by limited segments of the population?
Robbo, you're the English major. Your thoughts? Anyone else?
Yes, I do think about things like this.
Yips! from Robbo: I confess that I happen to be quite fond of the word "ginormous" and have taken to using it myself of late. At the same time, it is pure slang, not the Queen's English, and therefore has no place in the dictionary. Slang is the fast food of language and should be treated as such: indulged in on appropriate occassion but never considered part of a formal cuisine.
So says I, anyway.
YIPS from Steve-O: The only thing I have to say to this is that it gives me great hope that "Strategery" will one day make it.
July 10, 2007
Bank Robber Disguises Himself As A Tree
Police are on the hunt for a man who robbed a New Hampshire bank on Saturday disguised as a tree, according to MyFoxBoston.com.Of course, he must have carefully studied this film on "How Not To Be Seen":
The suspect walked into the Citizen's Bank in Manchester with tree branches duct taped to his body and demanded money from the teller.
The teller filled a bag with cash and the suspect took off. A dye pack inside the bag exploded, the Web site reported.
Manchester cops described the man as a white male, between 45 and 50 years old, wearing glasses and a blue shirt.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - "Water, Water Everywhere" Division
So this morning, for the second time in three weeks, we had to have a plumber (a different plumber) out to deal with pipes leaking through the ceiling of the living room and library.
For the second time in three weeks, the plumber found not one but two separate leaks.
For the second time in three weeks, the plumber advised that our piping is corroding to hell and that we really ought to replaced the entire workings.
For the second time in three weeks the plumber estimated that it would cost a mere eight grand or so to do the job.
For the second time in three weeks we smiled and explained that we really don't have eight grand worth of pennies buried in the peony beds.
This time, however, the plumber advised that we check out whether our insurance would cover some or all of the cost. If our current policy did not, he recommended that we buy additional coverage to pay for it.
Now, I know very little about the insurance industry, but I do know that it makes its money by getting one to pay premiums to cover events that everybody hopes will never happen. Exactly what kind of reception am I going to get if I ring our carrier and say, "Hi, I'd like to add plumbing insurance to my homeowner's policy because next week we're going to start ripping out pipes and I'd rayther you paid for most of it instead of me"?
UPDATE: Funny, every time I start dealing with Orgle Manor issues, this song pops into my head:
I think it's as much the name of the band as anything else that sets off the association.
McCain Campaign Is Bleeding Talent Left And Right
Campaign Manager and Chief Strategist...both gone.
Co-Author of his books...gone.
Money doesn't mean you're going to win, but over the long haul it's the life-blood of a Presidential campaign. And Ron Paul has more cash on hand than the former front-runner for the GOP nomination. Yikes! If you can't pay your people, they see the hand-writing on the wall.
And it looks like Ol' Fred is positioning himself to pick up the pieces.
From Ben Smith's column at The Politico:
[John} Weaver is a Texan who worked on Phil Gramm’s failed 1996 campaign and masterminded McCain’s legendary 2000 insurgency.This is not pleasant to watch, but then not much in politics usually is.
The campaign manager, Terry Nelson, also resigned. Nelson was the national political director of Bush-Cheney 2004, and provided McCain a priceless link to the turnout machine that brought President Bush victories in both the popular and electoral votes.
A Republican operative who knows the campaign well said that a week ago, the senator still could have been the nominee and someone would have been crazy to call his campaign dead. “I’m not sure I believe that anymore,” the insider said. “This is a momentous event. The campaign could dissolve pretty quickly. A lot of people will leave the campaign. A lot of people are there because they love Senator McCain and Terry and John hired them. A lot of financial support will also dry up."
Llama Movie Review: Hot Fuzz
Had a big afternoon at the dollar movie last weekend. That sentence pretty much sums up the adventure that is my life. But, leaving aside my personal tediousness, Hot Fuzz was a dollar well spent.
If you know anything about the guys who made this movie, you know they were also responsible for Shaun of the Dead and the BBC sitcom Spaced. My pal, Snackpack4000, has given me all of the episodes of Spaced on (rhymes with "loot-begged") DVDs. When I finally get around to watching them I'll let you know what I think.
But I loved Shaun of the Dead, so I was psyched to see Hot Fuzz. It opens with a montage of Officer Nick Angel's career of over-achieving activities on the London police force . . . to the tune of Adam Ant's "Goody Two-Shoes." Wonderful opening to a very funny film.
They used terrific tunes, pop music old and new, throughout the film to comment on the scenes at hand. Nick Frost and Simon Pegg more or less reprise their relationship from Shaun of the Dead, but you love to watch this friendship in action and they translate it in such a convincing way that you don't think of Nick as a zombie . . . for long anyway.
I hate reviews that give away scenes or re-cap the plot. So - none of that here. I will say that there are many very bloody scenes leading up to the Michael Bay-style shoot-out at the end. If you are too squeamish to watch Shaun of the Dead, you won't do well with this film either. I'm not a big fan of gore, but I've overlooked it considering how intelligently this movie lifts themes from sources as diverse as the original "Wicker Man" and Western genre films like "Tombstone." They use the visual jargon of Spaghetti Westerns to hilarious effect.
Summing up, Hot Fuzz is a fine afternoon's entertainment for the smart shopper of humor and violence. A legal, non-lootbegged version of the DVD, will come to live at my house very soon.
I sincerely hope that somebody in the White House prints out a copy of Bill Kristol's latest Weekly Standard piece and staples it to Dubya's forehead:
Let me be clear: The president ordered the "surge," which only recently came to full strength and whose major operation has been going on for less than a month. If he were not to give it a chance to work, he would properly be viewed as a feckless, irresolute president, incapable of seeing his own strategy through a couple of months of controversy before abandoning it. He will have asked our soldiers to go on the offensive, assuming greater risk of casualties--and then, even though the offensive is working better than expected, will have pulled the plug on their efforts.
Indeed, the White House is living in a fool's paradise if they imagine that "compromising" now and in this way buys them anything. Even the New York Times editorial page has abandoned the pretence that its preferred strategy will lead to anything other than catastrophe in Iraq, and in the very near term. If the president gives in now, he will not be credited with a statesmanlike compromise. He will be lambasted by the left for fighting a bad war, and by the right for fighting it badly, recommitting us to the fight, and then losing it. The remainder of his term will be mired in congressional investigations as the waters fill with blood and the sharks go in for the kill. The Democrats will be emboldened to press him on every front, especially since Iraq is virtually the only position he's actually been defending. Lame duck does not even begin to describe where President Bush will be if he does this.
What's more, the president will lose any ability to mitigate the effects of the withdrawal or control it. The pullout will become a wild hell-for-leather race for the exit, and the result will be a triumph for al Qaeda and Iran, and a moral and geopolitical disaster for the United States.
'Damn right. HOLD THE LINE, MR. PRESIDENT!
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
Much Ado About Nothing (1984)
A delightful production from the Beeb, this Much Ado plays it right down the middle, with lavish Italian Renaissance costumes and sets, together with period music (alas, performed somewhat slowly and clunkily by current scholarly standards). As with most of the other offerings in this series, this is not a "movie" version but rayther a stage production put on film, so do not go into it expecting the lavish shlock that so burdens Ken Brannagh's version from the 90's. It never reaches any particular height of theatrical brilliance, but then again, it never takes a false step, either.
As also in the other Beeb productions I've seen, this one is populated by solid, steady Shakespearians whom you and I have never heard of. Robert Lindsay is a dark-eyed, animated Benedict, without too overpowering an ego. Cherie Lunghi (who, it turns out, was Guinevere in the Wagnerian Excalibur) has an excellently subtle and sharp air about her that reminds me of my sister. I recognized Katharine Levy, who plays a rayther lumpy and fish-eyed Hero, from a bit part she had in I, Claudius. And Vernon Dobtcheff proves, contra Keanu Reeves, that Don John isn't completely cardboard, but in the right hands can be turned into a somewhat interesting villain. Who is Vernon Dobtcheff, you ask? Well, probably his most famous line in films is, "Zis is a castle. And ve haff many tapestries. And if you are a Scottish lord, zen I am Mickey Mouse!" (I'll leave it to you to i.d. the quote.)
I happen to love this play. Because so much of its humor revolves around the sniping between Benedict and Beatrice, I can't help thinking that the Bard was indulging himself here, perhaps even showing off a bit. In any event, it's definitely one of the ones you have to both see and read so as not to miss any of the delicious turns of phrase. For example, I love this line of Benedict's:
Shall quips and sentences and these paper bullets of the brain awe a man from the career of his humour?
-MAAN, Act ii. Sc. 3.
I've always though that "Paper Bullets of the Brain" would make an excellent blog title. (Or should it be "Pixel Bullets"?) Also, I've always enjoyed his musing on musick:
Is it not strange that sheeps’ guts should hale souls out of men’s bodies?
One other note about this performance is its treatment of Dogberry, played by Michael Elphink. One of the major weak points of Branagh's version was his letting loose of Michael Keaton to do Dogberry as a warmed over Beetlejuice, not only incomprehensibly swallowing his malapropisms, but also playing him as some kind of slapstick lunatic. I don't think that's right at all. Dogberry is a buffoon, a dolt and a comic foil, but there's a certain pathos to him as well that almost makes one feel sorry for him. Consider this response (heavily edited in the Brannagh movie) when Conrade calls Dogberry an ass during the interrogation:
Dost thou not suspect my place? dost thou not suspect my years? O that he were here to write me down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow, and, which is more, an officer, and, which is more, a householder, and, which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in Messina, and one that knows the law, go to; and a rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that hath had losses, and one that hath two gowns and every thing handsome about him. Bring him away. O that I had been writ down an ass!
Dogberry's defense of his own dignity, and his insistence on laying out all the proofs of his respectability in the face of Conrade's charge - his office, his property, his "two gowns" and the like - is not the talk of a comic book loony. Instead, and the note about "losses" hints at this as well, Dogberry is almost desperate to prove that he has - or at least once had - some kind of spot in Society, however small. He has, maybe, been driven to the edge, but I think these hints at a better past make him a far more interesting and, as I say, pathetic character than Brannagh lets on.
(I know, I know. Comparisons like this between a Beeb staging and Brannagh's "Shakespeare For The Masses" are what Dogberry himself would call "odourous", but I can't help it.)
Robbo's Recommendation: Five Yips! out of five if you like your Shakespeare orthodox.
"Aren't You A Little Short For A Stormtrooper?"
Star Wars fan gets down in the streets and subways of Japan.
So stupid I had to share.
Thanks to Adam at The Jack Sack for calling attention to this one.
Random Commuter Observation
Le gasp. Le pant. Le heave!
Your mission: spot the quote.
July 09, 2007
Sweaty Al Takes The Pledge (Sort Of)
And raises his right hand to show how hot it is out there.
I love the "pop-up video" treatment this was given. LOL.
Actually as I watched this, it occured to me that if Disney World ever decided to make a "Hall of Vice-Presidents" their guests would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the real Gore-acle and his animatronic counterpart.
And while we're on the subject of the Live Earth concerts (such as they were), it appears that the ratings and at least one poll confirmed that by and large the public wasn't too impressed with the messengers. Even the message wasn't all that compelling.
"Only 34% believe that events like Live Earth actually help the cause they are intended to serve. Forty-one percent (41%) disagree. Those figures include 10% who believe the events are Very Helpful and 20% who say they are Not at All Helfpul. Adding to the skepticism, an earlier survey found that just 24% of Americans consider Al Gore an expert on Global Warming.Geez, when even Liberals can only muster 16% who think "climate change" is a top priority you've got a long way to go.
Given a choice of four major issues before the United States today, 36% named the war in Iraq as most important. Twenty-five percent (25%) named immigration, 20% selected the economy and only 12% thought Global Warming was the top issue.
Among political conservatives, Iraq (36%) and immigration (33%) were far and away the top issues. Only 6% named Global Warming.
Among liberals, 44% named Iraq as the top issue followed by the economy (27%), Global Warming (16%) and immigration (12%)"
Man, I hope this guy decides to run.
Damon As Kirk?
It's not "official" but it looks like he's "in talks" for the role. This IS one of the signs of the Apocalypse.
And for the triple whammy: Damon as Kirk, Gary Sinise as McCoy and...gasp...Adrien Brody as Spock? WTF?
***update, the link above was from ecanadanow.com and a commenter raised a virus concern so I've yanked it out of there***
J.J. Abrams is helming the next Star Trek movie (insert random Roman Numeral here) and it looks like the franchise is heading for a disaster of epic proportions. Why the "star power" push? Paramount must have burned the midnight oil figuring out that even die-hard Trek fans won't turn out in droves for mediocre crap anymore. My guess is that they've decided to aim this turd over the heads of the legions of fanboys and shoot directly for those non-Trek fans who might be lured by the big names.
Oddly enough, I think Sinise is actually a decent choice for McCoy. But Brody as Spock?
And there just is NO other Kirk besides Shatner. The man is an icon fercrissakes. And they're looking at Matt Damon. How do ya like them apples?
Of course, we all know who's really behind this don't we?
July 08, 2007
"Can't Shake The Devil's Hand And Say You're Only Kidding"***
In the "Paging Dr. Faustus" category, Mother Sheehan sez that she'll gun for Nancy Pelooooosi if the Nanster doesn't try to impeach Dubya instanter:
Cindy Sheehan, the soldier's mother who galvanized the anti-war movement, said Sunday that she plans to seek House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's congressional seat unless she introduces articles of impeachment against President Bush in the next two weeks.
Sheehan said she will run against the San Francisco Democrat in 2008 as an independent if Pelosi does not seek by July 23 to impeach Bush. That's when Sheehan and her supporters are to arrive in Washington, D.C., after a 13-day caravan and walking tour starting next week from the group's war protest site near Bush's Crawford ranch.
"Democrats and Americans feel betrayed by the Democratic leadership," Sheehan told The Associated Press. "We hired them to bring an end to the war. I'm not too far from San Francisco, so it wouldn't be too big of a move for me. I would give her a run for her money."
Much has been made in recent weeks of the GOP's internal dissent but it strikes me that the Donks are going to have as bad a time, if not a worse one, with the hardcore moonbats if Dubya is still in office and our troops are still in Iraq come next fall (hint: they both will be).
This should be fuuuuuuuun!
(***Spot the quote and no fair googling it)
July 07, 2007
Live Free or Die Hard: The LLama Review
So I trotted my hooves out last night to catch the 10:30 showing at the theater in town behind the K-Mart which has the huge screen and the nice seats. It's a great theater, built in the early-1980s when having a theater with four screens was practically a megalopolis. You can date the theater because the lobby has a huge mural over the snack bar with portraits of movie stars and scenes from movies: latest movies on the wall are Raiders of the Lost Ark and Private Benjamin.
Anyhoo, the theater probably has 600 seats in, and I had a nigh on private showing. Of course, three assholes, in an otherwise empty theater, sit right in front of me, but moved within a minute or two with an extreme case of the fidgets. Now, it's showing on two screens, and the other screen started 15 minutes earlier, but an empty theater in the second week of the movie would point to an expired shelf life.
And expired the movie was. Lord almighty was this a bad movie. Now, I don't regret having seen it---I was in an extremely cranky mood yesterday (Instalanche aside), and going and watching things get blown up was made to order for me. And, boy did things get blown up: I think the director has some sort of hate fetish for helicopters, because there were more helicopters blown up in pretty bizarre ways than I can remember ever before.
What made this movie suck was how completely stale the whole thing was: it was like eating a nice bluefish pate on a three week old cinnamon raisin bagel. The original Die Hard movie is quite rightfully considered to be a masterpiece by the way that it reinvented the action movie genre. To Bruce Willis we owe the de-steroidization of the movies---he's kind of the Ken Griffey Jr. to the Barry McBonds juiced up quasi-robots of the 80s action movies. But what made the original Die Hard movie work so well was Alan Rickman's role as Hans Gruber, the deliciously evil terrorist mastermind, who turns out not to be a terrorist but a master thief. Rickman is delicious to watch in that movie, burnished in time over his cross-portrayal of the sinister Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movie: I can almost imagine the scene of the lightning-struck tower at the end of the sixth movie, with Snape hissing to Malfoy, "Shoot the glass...SHOOT THE GLASS!"
Watching the original Die Hard movie again you also realize how old school it is by the fact that it takes place right before the high-tech revolution of the 1990s kicks in: you couldn't make that story work today, because of the ubiquitous presence of cell phones and internet computer networks remove the tension. What made the original movie work was the combination of three genres: the everyman wisecracking hero; the bad guys not being terrorists but thieves, playing then on all the conventions of a caper movie, but in an evil way; together with Nakatomi Tower as a haunted house.
The fourth movie in the trilogy doesn't work because the whole thing is not only stale, but it's been completely passed by events. Three problems emerged within the first five minutes. First, Bruce Willis's shaved head, costume, and demeanor came off as a bad impersonation of Michael Chicklis's now-classic Det. Vic Mackey from The Shield. We get reintroduced to Det. McClane as he's stalking his daughter on the Rutgers campus at 3 am, threatening to beat the crap out of her boyfriend. Oh. Kay. No back-story, nothing, he's just a little bat-shit psycho. The problem is, by evoking Vic Mackey (even unintentionally) you raise the whole question of whether McClane has gone bad. What's happened to him in the decade since we last saw him? While it's hard to imagine he's become corrupt, one can certainly imagine him having crossed so far past the line of brutality and violence that he's lost himself. But this is never addressed.
Second problem is posed by the tee-vee show 24. The plot, such as it is, and the villain, such as he is, are way too first eight hours of a 24 season-ish: in other words, this can't be the real plot, there's going to be something deeper here that is revealed because this thing is just the set up, right? And they play right into the 24 conventions by dangling McClanes daughter a la Kim Bauer, so much so that I wanted to yell out "Watch out for the cougar!" But alas, I didn't. Worse, still, was the absence of a Chloe character on the side of the Feds, who came across as a high school anarchist's cartoon vision of what incompetent (but very ethnically diverse) FBI agents would talk like.
The third problem was the character played by Mac guy. Yes, Mac guy---the annoying hipster doofus from the Mac commercials. On the plus side, you get to see the way Mac guy actually lives (dingy apartment filled with computer equipment and dungeons and dragons action figures, nice). And to get a whiff of his politics, lack of social skills, and bad personal hygiene. If they wanted to make this movie a classic, they should have gone out and gotten the guy who plays "PC" and make him one of the network hackers on the bad guy team. Now THAT would have been funny, and would have signaled that they were in on the existential joke that the movie was.
Other than that, the movie sucked. The plot was utterly incoherent---the "terrorists" knock down all communication networks except On-Star. Oh. Kay.
Definitely a movie to skip.
July 06, 2007
Gratuitous Random Friday Observations
Today is my compressed work schedule day off (Yep, gonna miss that when I jump back into the private sector) so I've been scurrying about taking care of domestic stuff this morning and generating the following thoughts in the process:
** First stop was getting my hair cut. One of the very few examples of fru-fruness? fru-fruidity? teh fru-fru in which I indulge is getting the locks sheared at a gen-u-ine salon by a "stylist", a gal who's snipped the llama head for about four years now. Shades of John Edwards, perhaps, but she certainly knows what she's doing and when it comes to personal appearance, I can use all the help I can get.
Anyhoo, when I got there this morning, the waiting area was mobbed by a bridal party come to get their hair n' stuff done for a wedding tomorrow. Seeing them and overhearing their talk, I suddenly remembered the articles I've been reading lately about how so many people are looking to get married on 7/7/07 because the date's such a lucky number. Now in the great scheme of things, I suppose this idea is perfectly harmless. Nonetheless, the thought of choosing that date for that reason scrapes the very blackboard of my soul, filling me with a surprising antipathy toward the whole business. Looking at the bride and her friends, I couldn't help hoping that Wedding Inc. is fleecing her for all she's worth because of her silliness.
***Next, it was over to the summer camp the Missus is running, busman's holiday style. (Fortunately, today is the last day.) I don't know how it is in other parts of the country, but in the Dee Cee area it seems that parents will pay almost anything to fob their kids off on somebody else when school's out - the Missus could have charged three times what she did and still, I'm convinced, have maxed out her group.
***Having picked up the Missus' car, I was driving down the road and spotted my first Rudy '08 sticker. I've deliberately tried to keep clear of presidential politics so far. It's too damned early and getting involved now would require too damned much energy. So I haven't really given Rudy (or anybody else, for that matter) much consideration yet. However, I thought Dan Henninger's article on Guiliani made an interesting point. Henninger argues that fighting terrorism is going to be the 900 pound gorilla of the election, trumping any other issue, and that Rudy seems to have his eye on the ball about it. I certainly can't speak for anybody else, but at least for me, Henninger is absolutely right about issue priorities - only when I'm absolutely satisfied that a given candidate is resolved to fight the Islamofascists will I even begin to consider anything else.
*** As I sat at Jiffy-Lube, I couldn't help having to watch AlGore on Larry King bloviating about this weekend's EarthAid (or whatever it's called) concert. Yesterday, I happened to flip through the listings for the various venues to see who was going to play them. Of course I knew that Madonna was in this thing up to her neck, but I didn't realize that Snoop Dogg was going to perform as well. I must say that I was appalled when I read this. Madonna is bad enough. But Mr. Dogg is little more than a barbarian, the walking embodiment of the Dark Side of popular culture. To think of that shifty, beady-eyed, drug-ravaged, rat-like face standing up on stage to preach about paying proper worship to Mother Gaya to millions of gawping, brain-dead fans fills me with disbelief. Except, of course, if you see this whole concert bizness as part of a greater hustle by the enviro-nazis to consolidate to themselves both wealth and political power, in which case it makes perfect sense. Either way, one shakes one's head in dismay.
***Speaking of 7/7/07 weddings, for those of you asking, "Tom, are you going to see Licensed to Wed?" I can state categorically that I am not. I can't stick Robin Williams at any price. Just wanted to get that in.
July 05, 2007
An Army of Davids: Homebrew Division
Perhaps this is the Navy of Davids?
Six months after opening a tiny brewery in the rear of an unremarkable strip mall here, Kevin DeLange pulled off a stunning upset in the beer world. DeLange, who honed his skills as a home brewer, scored a gold medal at one of the brewing industry's most prestigious competitions: the 2006 World Beer Cup. He was honored for his extra special bitter, or ESB.
The World Beer Cup is held every two years. It attracts more than 500 brewers from 50-plus nations. Breweries range from upstart Dry Dock and other craft beer makers to global giants such as Anheuser-Busch Inc.
DeLange's Dry Dock Brewing Co. won top honors in the "special bitter or best bitter" category at the 2006 World Beer Cup, held in Seattle in April. The brewery, which is now mapping out expansion plans, beat 22 competitors.
"For a brewer that's been open six months to win a gold medal in the 'best bitter' category, that's pretty impressive," said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, the competition's sponsor.
Chris Black, whose Falling Rock Tap House in Denver serves Dry Dock's HMS Bounty Old Ale on tap, said the World Beer Cup "is really becoming the biggest award in the whole world of brewing."
The news stunned DeLange, now 33.
At the awards banquet in Seattle, he left before the ceremony ended because he had to catch a 5 a.m. plane to Denver the next day. The bronze and silver medal awards had been announced. DeLange figured a gold medal was out of the question.
He and a friend were just outside the main hotel banquet room when he heard the announcer break the news that his HMS Victory ESB had won the gold.
"My first reaction was: "Who stole our name!" DeLange recalled. "It was a huge shock."
Needless to say, the award shined a spotlight on little known Dry Dock Brewing, among Colorado's 90 craft beer makers and Aurora's only brewery.
DeLange sounds like he would get along with Robbo, as they both share a penchant for old school Royal Navy geekery.
MSM Pigs With Wings Watch
[T]he proclamations by Ayman al-Zawahri carried another unintended message: reflecting the current troubles confronting the Sunni extremists in Iraq, experts said.
The Islamic State of Iraq, the insurgent umbrella group that is claimed by al-Qaida, has faced ideological criticism from some militants, and rival armed groups have even joined U.S. battles against it. A U.S.-led offensive northwest of Baghdad — in one of the Islamic State's strongholds — may have temporarily disrupted and scattered insurgent forces.
"Some of the developments suggest that it (the Islamic State) is more fragile than it was before," said Bruce Hoffman, a Washington-based terrorism expert at the Rand Corp. think tank.
Al-Zawahri "is trying to replenish the Islamic State brand," he said. "It's time to reassert its viability, but how connected to reality that is, is another issue."
By which last remark Mr. Hoffman hints, I believe, that the big Al-Z is living in cloud cuckoo land.
[A]l-Qaida in Iraq — the group that claims allegiance to Osama bin Laden's goals — has been put on the defensive. Some Sunni insurgent groups have publicly split with it, distancing themselves from its bomb attacks on Iraqi civilians and accusing al-Qaida of trying to strong-arm their members into joining.
One influential faction, the 1920 Revolution Brigades, has openly helped U.S. forces in new offensives against al-Qaida in and around Baghdad, and some Sunni tribes have turned against it in western Anbar province.
U.S. forces have focused on al-Qaida-linked fighters in their security clampdowns in Baghdad and so-called "belts" around the city in recent weeks. That has brought an increase in American casualties, but insurgent and militia attacks appear to have fallen.
Of course, the article also includes the details of the latest horrific bombing attacks, etc., etc., just so you don't get too smug, but I simply cannot remember the last MSM report I read that suggests this plainly that the "Surge" might actually be, you know, working....
Gratuitous Mid-Afternoon Potty Humor
Behold the latest marvel of 21st Century technology, the Clean Seat Matic! Not only does it whip out a fresh paper lining for each new user, it also nags you to flush! It's a veritable Ceramic Nanny!
The thing's voice-chip has room for up to three minutes' worth of additional, shall we say, sanitary copy. This got me wondering about what messages might be appropriate, which in turn became the seed for
ROBBO'S TOP TEN LIST OF CLEAN SEAT MATIC QUOTES
10. Ever consider that Jenny Craig deal?
9. Does your mother know you're out in public in those filthy undies? What happens if you get in a car accident?
8. Keep wiping, pardner.
7. There are too many mother-effin snakes in this toilet!
6. I see.....a bad moon risin'
5. Warning....seat retraction in five....four....three......
4. *Click!* Thank you. Your custom photo will be posted on the Internet unless you deposit $500 dollars in the receptical to your right in the next five minutes.
3. Listen, you keep straining like that and you'll only make those piles worse. Go buy some Preparation-H, for pete's sake!
2. Next dog that comes in here to get a drink out of me, I'm taking his head right off!
1. Got shrinkage?
Be sure to follow the link to see a video of the thing in action.
Yips! to Dave Barry.
UPDATE: In response to the flood of emails, yes, this is a bit out of my normal blogging path. But as it happens, one of the items at the top of this weekend's honey-do list is fixing the gels' potty, the workings of which they've managed to destroy even though none of them ever seems to flush. Suffice to say, the subject, like that of 'Arold the Flying Sheep to the shepherd, is one that is mooch on moi moind:
Happy Birthday, Huey Lewis!
Born Hugh Anthony Cregg, III on this day in 1950 in San Francisco.
Not to get all socio-political about it, but I've always thought that Huey Lewis and the News managed to get a certain sound that captured the spirit of Reagan's Morning in America. (Whether this was intentional or not, I dunno. And it really doesn't matter. When you think 80's, it's more than likely that Huey and the boys are somewhere toward the top of your list of pop-culture references.)
Let's roll the tape:
YIPS from Steve-O: No connection at all between these two birthday posts. No siree!
And yes, I'll confess that I saw Huey Lewis and the Nooz play at the Hartford Coliseum on their Sports! tour, in what must have been 1984. Even drove there in a friend's Camaro. That revelation alone should bar me from higher office...
Happy Birthday, Spam!
Hormel's iconic product hit the market this day in 1937. Many the early Saturday evening do I recall in my yoot eating a dinner of Spam, Spaghettios and Handy Andy brand soda and watching Hee Haw or Marlin Perkins' Wild Kingdom whilst the parental units made a bolt for the door and Civilisation.
And now, because you know I'm going to do it, cue the Vikings!
Irrational Snap New Movie Gnus Reactions
Sleepy Beth saw The Transformers yesterday and liked it a lot. Me, I never was a fan of the tee vee cartoon. When I was in college, I got hooked on reruns of both Voltron and teh GoBots, which pretty much filled out that section of my brain reserved for shows-about-machines-that-turn-into-other-machines. Leader-One rules!
And the Colossus joins the ranks of people swooning over Ratatouille. Don't get me wrong, I love Brad Bird's work, indeed to the point where I violently hope there won't be an Incredibles sequel, because I don't want anything to spoil the pleasure I get from the original. But I can't help thinking of that Fawlty Towers episode about Basil the Rat. At one point, Polly tries to cover up blurting out news of the rat's escape in front of a health inspector by changing what she says from "rat" to "ratatouille". I've always thought it was a lame joke and this prejudiced my sentiments about the movie the very first time I saw a poster for it at a bus stop.
Yes, I know this is absurd. Hence the title of the post.
Nonetheless, while it's more than likely that I will not see Transformers, I expect Ratatouille will make its way across the Llama eyeballs and eardrums at some point owing to the Llama-ettes. If so, I will try to be open-minded about it.
Gratuitous Fourth of July Round Up Posting
What a great Independence Day we had.
First off was the trip to see the Nats play the Cubbies. I think I can safely say that the eldest Llama-ette is now thoroughly hooked on baseball, and thus, no matter what else happens, I have done at least part of my job as a Dad correctly. This game sealed the deal, a one run affair with some great defense until the bottom of the fifth when Dmitri Young, on whom the gel had already developed her first ball player crush, obliged her by hitting a grand slam and cracking the game open. (He hit a double later - I certainly hope the Colossus didn't take him off his fantasy roster.) Plus, as we were sitting down the right field line, she got to see Young playing first base up close. All in all, the gel was in nine innings of paradise.
As for the other two Llama-ettes, the seven year old is juuuuust beginning to grasp the game, and cheered heartily at the more obvious plays. In the meantime, being the cheerful, happy creature that she is, she had a great time simply soaking in the crowd, the noise, the fireworks and the general spectacle of things. As for the five year old? I think she liked the french fries most of all.
Aaaaaaand, because I'm so neurotic about getting to any event or appointment promptly, we were in time to pick up our O-fficial George Washington Bobble-heads:
After the game, it was a dash home, a quick shower and then on to a friend's cook-out where, among other things, I met an interesting lady who was unaware that Long Island Sound is part of the Atlantic Ocean and not a large lake. Talking to her, I had a sudden flashback to ninth grade and Mr. Jennings' history class. The school had decided to experiment with abolishing advanced classes that year, instead mixing the smarter kids in with the regulars in the hope that they would raise the overall standard. (At least, that's how it was explained to me.) The actual result was that the regular classes stayed pretty much the way they had been previously, except that each one now held half a dozen kids who were bored out of their minds by the slow pace and vapid discussion. Anyhoo, in Mr. Jennings' class was a young lady who I and an equally bored friend once managed to convince that the earth really was criss-crossed with lines of latitude and longitude. They were laid out in toilet-paper, we explained. "Oh," she said, "Well, what happens when the lines go across the oceans?" That was okay, we said, because they laminate the paper in clear plastic to protect it from the elements, including water.
Chatting with that young lady's adult counterpart last evening, I couldn't help thinking again that H. L. Mencken was about right. ("About what, Tom?" you ask. About pretty much everything.)
But back to the party. Despite a thundershower that rolled through in the middle of things, it cleared off enough in the end to allow the kids to shoot off fireworks. Actually, I should say "light" instead of "shoot off" because the ever-vigilant nannies of the Fairfax County Guv'mint frown upon any firework that launches itself or any of its parts into the air. Thus, kiss my hand to the bottle rockets and Roman candles of my own yoot. One needn't go very far to find a more firework-friendly jurisdiction, but the kits sold by the local Costco only contain fountains, snakes, sparklers and things of that sort. Whoop. De. Doo. However, it entertained the kids, which is what mattered. And it was pleasant to stand there and take in the smell, one which I love. The air was so still and humid that the powder smoke only dissipated very slowly, hanging like a cloud all around our host's back yard and making delightful rings, wreathes and other ethereal shapes. (These being the times they are, I did overhear somebody behind me fretting about the health risks of inhaling firework smoke, but I believe he was pretty universally ignored.)
We didn't take in any of the professional displays last evening, the Llama-ettes (and the Missus, for that matter) having had enough fun for one day and promptly falling straight into bed after we got back from the party. Instead, I simply sat at the open window of my library, reading a book and listening to the various ordnance going off near and far. There were two or three separate parties in the immediate neighborhood, plus the big display at the local high school a couple miles off, producing among them a very pleasant cacaphony of bangs, booms and whistles. It didn't happen this year, but when conditions are right you can even hear the distant rumbles of the display on the National Mall rolling up the Potomac Valley, a phenomenon that always puts me in mind of Napoleon for some strange reason.
All in all, a very satisfactory holiday.
July 04, 2007
Happy Independence Day!
****LEFT STICKY TO THE TOP UNTIL JULY 5****
A very happy Fourth of July to all of you out there. For ourselves, we've got the flag hanging outside and I'm going to give the lawn an extra trim so as to make it look smart. We'll then spend the afternoon watching the Nats play the Cubbies (we'll be in the lower deck along the right field line if you happen to watch the game on tee vee - self, the Missus and three maniacal gels). After that, it's over to a friend's house for bar-b-que, adult beverages and perhaps some fireworks as well.
In short, we celebrate the day by enjoying ourselves, by remembering to be terribly grateful for who we are and where we live, and by showing our pride in America. And Howard Zinn can kiss my sweet Llama backside.
DANCIN', SINGIN' FOUNDING FATHER YIPS from Steve-O: This could serve as our theme around here:
More classic Adams:
Insert Beavis & Butthead laugh here: you know, I always thought there was something hinky going on between our second and third presidents
I saw this headline and I thought...
wow, you can go 100 MPH in a Prius?
Will the invaluable education that the Goremales provide never cease?
This part is a stitch:
Al Gore III -- whose father is a leading advocate of policies to fight global warming -- was driving his environmentally friendly car at about 100 miles per hour on a freeway south of Los Angeles when he was pulled over by an Orange County sheriff's deputy at about 2:15 a.m..
Is a Prius is driven at 100 MPH by some asswipe pillhead still considered to be "environmentally friendly"?
Or, do pedestrians and other drivers not count, like, as part of the environment?
Well that isn't so great. . .
Rumors surfaced in the media that The Gloved One is moving to Virginia. Looks like I'll need to send a flash message to Mrs. LMC to review the base defense plan for the headquarters, located amidst the vast real estate holdings which comprise Fort LMC.
LMC summer reading
Books I've read already: America Stands Alone ,The Truth About Muhammed, and The U.N.'s Role in Nation-Building. I am working on American Admiralship: The Moral Imperatives of Naval Command. Still in the hopper: The Sling and the Stone; The Assasin's Gate: America in Iraq. All but the first two are from the War College reading list. I will probably add The Federalist Papers as well. Suggestions, anyone?
When in the course of human events
for your holiday reading, the Declaration of Independence. Like the Constitution, it is remarkable for its brevity and clarity.
YIPS from Steve-O: Personally, I'm more of an Articles of Confederation kind of guy when it comes to the warm 4th fuzzies. Mmmmmmm....perpetual Union.
July 03, 2007
Gratuitous U.S. Navy Geekery Posting
R.I.P. Rear Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey, recipient of the Medal of Honor and four Navy Crosses, whose career as a sub commander operating off the coast of China in WWII reads like a modern day Jack Aubrey novel:
On Jan. 25, 1945, Adm. Fluckey embarked on what Navy officials, seldom given to hyperbole, called "virtually a suicide mission -- a naval epic." In "an exceptional feat of brilliant deduction and bold tracking," in the words of his Medal of Honor citation, Adm. Fluckey found more than 30 Japanese vessels lurking in a concealed harbor protected by mines and rocky shoals.
Evading a cordon of armed escort boats, the Barb slipped into the harbor on a moonless, cloudy night and scored eight direct torpedo hits on six large ships. One of them was an ammunition vessel, which exploded and caused "inestimable damage by the resultant flying shells and other pyrotechnics," according to the Medal of Honor citation.
As Adm. Fluckey watched from the bridge of his submarine, The Washington Post reported in 1945, "Japanese ships were erupting in the night like a nest of volcanoes."
The Barb then fled at high speed "through uncharted rocky waters thick with fishing junks," pursued by two Japanese gunboats. Because of the shallow water, the submarine had to stay on the surface, dodging obstacles and steady fire for a full hour before reaching the safe depths of the open sea.
"The significance of that mission," said retired Navy Capt. Max Duncan, who was the chief gunnery and torpedo officer of the Barb, "was that we completely disrupted the entire shipping system the Japanese had developed at that point in the war."
On other occasions, Adm. Fluckey maneuvered his submarine so close to shore that he could bombard coastal installations with torpedoes and guns. On its final patrol in 1945, the Barb became the first U.S. submarine equipped with ballistic missiles.
One time, Adm. Fluckey selected eight commandos from his crew to paddle ashore in rubber boats and place a 55-pound bomb under railroad ties on the northern Japanese island then called Karafuto. As the men were rowing back to the Barb in darkness, the pressure-sensitive charge blew up a 16-car troop train. It was the only time in World War II that U.S. forces set foot on the soil of the Japanese home islands.
Adm. Fluckey and his 80-man crew were credited with sinking 29 ships, including an aircraft carrier, destroyer and cruiser. He destroyed more gross tonnage than any other submarine commander. For his wartime exploits, he became known as "Lucky Fluckey" and the "Galloping Ghost of the China Coast."
Read the rest. Pretty damned amazing.
Yips! to INDCent Bill.
R.I.P. Beverly Sills
Brian B makes, I think, an excellent observation:
I remember watching and enjoying her on the Muppet Show as a kid. She made opera enjoyable, and entertaining, without cheapening it. In many ways she reminded me of Julia Child -- a sharp mind, a humble graciousness, and blazingly gifted. She will be missed.
Indeed. I've probably mentioned before that although I am a great fan of classickal musick in general, I've
no real love for a fairly intense impatience of any opera beyond the great Mozart/DaPonte collaborations and a few choice others. Nonetheless, I always admired Sills. As Brian notes, she put an approachable face on opera in much the same way that Child did with French cuisine, bringing out its qualities with style and without resorting to cheap tricks, gimmicks and dumbing-down.
Gratuitous Civil War Geekery Posting (TM)
Today is the anniversary of the third and final day of fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, culminating in one of the legendary episodes of American History, Pickett's Charge.
After having tried and failed to cave in both Union flanks the day before, Lee decided to launch a final all-out frontal assault straight up the middle, hoping to split the Federal line. This is one of those decisions that we armchair generals will no doubt be argueing over until the end of Time itself. On the one hand, Lee's army had managed to pull off a series of near miraculous victories over the preceding year and was beginning to think of itself as practically invincible. On the other, the Federals were solidly dug in on high ground, with easy command of any path the Confederates chose to come over to get at them.
Me? I think Lee recognized that he was basically throwing a Hail Mary. But I also think he felt he didn't have much choice left. His supplies were running low and he was deep in hostile territory. He couldn't crack the Union flanks and he couldn't manuever around them. (Ironically, Meade, the Union commander, hadn't wanted to fight at Gettysburg to begin with and was itching for an excuse to fall back to another fortified line some distance to the southeast.) If Lee were to give up and withdraw, it would be a defeat for the Confederacy anyway, especially given the fighting of the day before. On the other hand, his luck had been in over the past year, even when he had made some tactically risky moves (at, say, Chancellorsville, for example) and the Federals had a track record of panicking in the face of his aggressiveness. Plus, if he could somehow pull off a victory, there was (at least in his mind) a very real possibility that it would have caused enough political pressure to be exerted on Lincoln to force him to enter peace negotiations. (Lee couldn't know that Vicksburg, and therefore the entire Mississippi River, was to fall to General Grant the very same day.) Thus, Lee decided to go for it. And the rest is history, as they say:
(Image found at Echoes of Gettysburg.)
For all the romantic notions about the "High Tide of the Confederacy" that have grown up around the charge, the fact of the matter is that it was no Waterloo-style "near-run thing" but instead was pretty much doomed from the start. If you want a really geeky breakdown of the fates of the individual units involved, I would recommend Earl J. Hess's Pickett's Charge - The Last Attack at Gettysburg. As it makes clear, although a number of Regiments did, in fact, make it all the way across the mile of open ground and up the ridge to the stone wall occupied by the Federals, the overall plan and execution was so disorganized and short-sighted, and these units arrived in such limited numbers and such poor shape that they simply could not dislodge the Union army. On the other side, the Federal commanders displayed a calm mastery of the situation, taking advantage of the terrain and the compact path of the Rebel attack to hammer the stuffing out of it from the flanks and front, and plugging holes in their own lines with the very ample reserves at their disposal. In short, it really wasn't very close. To his credit, after the charge Lee immediately accepted that he had made a mistake and that the disastrous defeat was entirely his own fault.
Also, a word about the name. Apparently, the story that when after the charge was over Lee said to Pickett, "Sir, you must look to your Division" and Pickett replied, "General Lee, I have no Division," is true. And certainly Pickett was the very model of the Southern Cavalier - brave to the point of foolishness, courtly, romantic and very dashing. (He was also a protege of Lincoln, by the way.) However, Pickett was only one of three Division commanders under Longstreet to take part in the assault, the other two being Johnson Pettigrew and Isaac Trimble. And in fact, not only did Pettigrew's and Trimble's Divisions suffer casualties just as heavy as Pickett's [UPDATE: Pickett's Division reported 67% casualties (killed, wounded, captured and missing), while Pettigrew's reported 60% and Trimble's 54%, so perhaps "comparable" would be a better term], the evidence indicates that they actually penetrated farther into the Federal lines before being stopped. Nonetheless, Pickett and most of his Division were Virginians, while the other two were mostly North Carolingians with some other admixtures. The Richmond press corp, which was well represented at the battle, seized upon George Pickett as the tragic hero of the charge largely in an effort to boost Virginia's glory in it, playing down the valor of the other Divisions. This slant - which stuck in the collective conscience - provoked outrage in North Carolina, the echo of which can still be sensed today. For his part, Pickett - a vain and shallow young animal - readily fell into the character of Tragic Hero, hating Lee and brooding on his failure for the rest of his life.
July 02, 2007
The Libby reprieve
The President has an unlimited power of pardon and reprieve which may be exercised solely accordingly to his judgment that a particular party needs relief. Compare Bush's commutation of the prison term aspect of Libby's sentence with his immediate predecessor's exercise of this power, particularly at the end of his second term. If any of the presidential candidates offers an opinion on the Libby reprieve, the question should come back at them: "How does the Libby reprieve compare to the Marc Rich pardon?" Anyone? Senator Clinton? Bueller?
Yips! from Robbo: I agree with Jonah's assessment:
On the merits I think Bush probably got it about right. On the politics, I think Bush would have been smarter to give Libby an outright pardon. But, having just watched Joe Wilson sputter in pompous rage on the Today Show, I'm tempted to argue that Bush should have used eminent domain to take Wilson's convertible Jaguar and give it to Scooter Libby.
Gratuitous Literary Posting - Book Him Division
Swiped from Sheila, it's the Five Books Meme. Here we go:
Five most recent books you've bought for yourself:
Theodore Dalrymple - Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses. Also, Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
Derek Robinson - War Story
Sir Richard Burton - A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Mecca, Vols 1 & 2
G.K. Chesterton - Orthodoxy
Fred Anderson - A People's Army: Massachuetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years' War
Five books you've most recently given other people:
The Dangerous Book for Boys, given to the Llama-ettes to help them understand how boys' minds work.
D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, on its way to Steve-O's elder son, who mentioned yesterday how much he liked Greek mythology. (Ut-bay on't-day ell-tay im-hay, teve-O-Stay!)
Can't think of any others off the top of my head.
Five most recent books you've loaned other people, and their status:
As a rule, I don't loan books, feeling about them the same way hobbits do about mushrooms. Indeed, Mom and I have a kind of long-standing Cold War in which we don't so much borrow books from each other as steal them, hoping the other won't notice. (For instance, I've got her copy of The Mystery of Mallory and Irvine, lifted over Memorial Day weekend. I'm sure I'll "forget" to pack it when we head up to visit in August. And I'm sure she'll try to resteal it when she comes down at Christmas.)
Last five kids' books you bought:
We have so many kids' books constantly flowing into Orgle Manor that I can't keep track of all of them. I know we ordered that latest J. K. Rowling novel, Harry Potter and the Hoovered Wallet (or whatever it is), but I'm sure there are others as well.
Last five books you looked at on Amazon/Chapters/Powell's/etc.:
See last five books bought for self above.
Top five books on your "to read" pile:
I gave up on a formal "to read" pile quite a long time ago because I find that my interests and attention are constantly shifting. So when I'm ready to move on to the next book, I simply walk into my library and let my eyes roam around at random. When I see something that makes the little machine in my brain go "Bing!" I pull it out. My only real rule is that of the three books I'm generally reading at any one time, at least one of them has to be new to me. (For all that, the Chesterton is probably number one in line for departure at the moment.)
Bottom five books on your "to read" pile
See above. I've got years and years' worth of volumes sitting about that I know I ought to read, but perhaps not just now. I've also got years' worth of volumes - many of them presents - that I have absolutely no intention of reading whatsoever. However, I am utterly incapable of throwing a book away (see my views about borrowing above), largely because something at the back of my mind always says what if you suddenly DID want to read that one? THEN where would you be?
Gratuitous Literary Posting - Sonnetic Juxtaposition Division
Terry Teachout has a very interesting post up today comparing Keats' On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer with Henry James at the Pacific by one Donald Justice (of whom, quite honestly, I'd not heard). It's a very pretty paring, representing a sort of dawn and dusk of literary creativity.
Gratuitous Lunchtime Observation
If the weather in Dee Cee was the same all summer as it is today, you would never ever hear me complain about it. Almost as if a little touch o' Maine had made its way down the coast.
UPDATE: Oh, what the heck - it's another five weeks or so until my vacation, but since I've got Maine on the brain I'll repost this nifty image originally crafted by the Colossus:
Gratuitous Civil War Geekery Posting
Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Little Round Top on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.*** Thanks to the movie Gettysburg, many more people of late recognize the heroism of Col. Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine Regiment that held the extreme left of the Union line on Little Round Top, and rightly so. However, if you have to pick THE hero of the Republic on that hill that day, the honor might very well instead go to the man pictured above, Col. Strong Vincent.
Vincent was the Brigade Commander of the brigade that included Chamberlain's regiment (as well as Vincent's own 83rd Pennsylvania, 44th New York and 16th Michigan) and was on his way up to the line when he was found by a messenger sent from Brig. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren, the Chief Engineer of the Army of the Potomac: That horse's ass Dan Sickles (my words, not Warren's) had moved the III Corp forward of the ridge line against orders, leaving the Round Tops exposed. Warren needed infantry to occupy the position quick before the Rebs could get to it. When Vincent heard this, he decided to bring his own brigade directly to the spot, without waiting for orders from his superiors. He beat the Confederates there by about ten minutes. Standing on the summit of Little Round Top in the heat of battle and rallying his men with the cry "Don't give an inch!" he was hit by a shot in the groin and fell.
Vincent was promoted to the rank of General on the field for his heroism and acumen, although it is unlikely that he ever became aware of this tribute. He died of his wound on July 7.
***It should be noted that the Round Tops and the Devil's Den, which were on the left side of the Union line, were not the only scenes of combat that day. Instead, the Confederates pressed their attack all along the line, all the way over to Culp's Hill on the extreme right. Furthermore, the fighting went on well into the evening, with several Reb breakthroughs thrown back by the extreme effort of the Federals. To try and pick only one hero for the day (on either side) would be an exercise in pure futility.
UPDATE: Incidentally, of all the books I've read about Gettysburg, this is still perhaps the best of the lot:
High Tide at Gettysburg by Glenn Tucker. It covers not just the three days of fighting at Gettysburg itself, but Lee's entire Pennsylvania campaign, starting at the beginning of June and ending July 13 when he recrossed the Potomac back into Virginia. The book is well written and provides both a good overview as well as a great deal of fascinating detail. (For example, the 15th Alabama - which went against Chamberlain's 20th Maine - did so without water, their canteen party having been picked up by Union troops before the battle. What difference might full canteens have made in the outcome?)
Gratuitous Weekend Observation - Paging Judith Martin Division
Among the guests at the henfest held at Orgle Manor over the weekend was a certain well-known columnist who shall remain nameless but is often referred to as the Crazy Aunt in the Attic of the Washington Press Corp.
Among the hostesses of same henfest was Missus LMC. At some point in the proceedings, the CAITAOTWPC learned that the LMC himself currently is serving a tour of duty in Bagdad.
Rayther than saying something along the lines of "Oh, I'm sorry - that must be hard for you," or "Best wishes for his safe return," or something of that sort, apparently the CAITAOTWPC instead broke into a screed about what a mistake it was for us to invade in the first place, how we'd killed over 650K Iraqi civilians and although Saddam was a bastard, at least he made the trains run on time. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
As if any further proof were necessary, this struck me as pretty clear evidence that CAITAOTWPC is definitely NQOKD. Regardless of what one's political views may be viz the war, her outbreak was abominably rude. We certainly shan't ask her again.