November 30, 2007
Birthday Props - Cheesecake Division
Not to take away from Sir Winston, but...
Happy Birthday, Elisha Cuthbert!!!
Happy Birthday, Winston!
Today is the 133rd anniversary of the birth of the Right Hon. Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill. In celebration, nip on over to the Churchill Centre and have a jolly good browse.
Personally, I've always been one of those people who likes to believe that Churchill was indeed King Arthur returned from his sleep on the Isle of Avalon to save Britain in its darkest hour.
Here's Churchill's May 13, 1940 address to the House of Commons:
On Friday evening last I received from His Majesty the mission to form a new administration. It was the evident will of' Parliament and the nation that this should be conceived on the broadest possible basis and that it should include all parties.
I have already completed the most important part of this task.
A war cabinet has been formed of five members, representing, with the Labour, Opposition, and Liberals, the unity of the nation. It was necessary that this should be done in one single day on account of the extreme urgency and rigor of events. Other key positions were filled yesterday. I am submitting a further list to the king tonight. I hope to complete the appointment of principal ministers during tomorrow.
The appointment of other ministers usually takes a little longer. I trust when Parliament meets again this part of my task will be completed and that the administration will be complete in all respects. I considered it in the public interest to suggest to the Speaker that the House should be summoned today. At the end of today's proceedings, the adjournment of the House will be proposed until May 21 with provision for earlier meeting if need be. Business for that will be notified to MPs at the earliest opportunity.
I now invite the House by a resolution to record its approval of the steps taken and declare its confidence in the new government.
"That this House welcomes the formation of a government representing the united and inflexible resolve of the nation to prosecute the war with Germany to a victorious conclusion."
To form an administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself. But we are in the preliminary phase of one of the greatest battles in history. We are in action at many other points-in Norway and in Holland-and we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean. The air battle is continuing, and many preparations have to be made here at home.
In this crisis I think I may be pardoned if 1 do not address the House at any length today, and I hope that any of my friends and colleagues or former colleagues who are affected by the political reconstruction will make all allowances for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act.
I say to the House as I said to ministers who have joined this government, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering.
You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea, and air. War with all our might and with all the strength God has given us, and to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs - Victory in spite of all terrors - Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.
Let that be realized. No survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge, the impulse of the ages, that mankind shall move forward toward his goal.
I take up my task in buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. I feel entitled at this juncture, at this time, to claim the aid of all and to say, "Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength."
And were all the blood, toil, tears and sweat worth it? Well, I'll bet ol' Winston rests much better knowing that he's made the West safe to fret about killer Christmas Tree allergies.
I kid. I kid! Sort of.
YIPS from Steve-O:
Oh. My. Goodness. Why I love the intertubes in one easy lesson: listen to Sir Winston Churchill here.
FURTHER YIPS from Steve-O: Jackpot.
First They Came For The Sugar. And I Said Nothing.***
Robbo to Salt Nazis: "Back off!"
A consumer group prodded the Food and Drug Administration yesterday to regulate salt as a food additive, arguing that excessive salt consumption by Americans may be responsible for more than 100,000 deaths a year.
The government has long placed salt in a "generally recognized as safe" or GRAS category, which grandfathers in a huge list of familiar food ingredients. But in an FDA hearing yesterday, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) urged the agency to enforce tougher regulations for sodium.
Doing so "lays the foundation for saving tens of thousands of lives per year," said CSPI Director Michael Jacobson in an interview after the hearing. It "just has tremendous potential to health and to cut health-care costs."
CSPI first petitioned the FDA in 1978 to regulate salt in food more closely and has since sued the agency unsuccessfully in federal court twice over the ingredient. A 2005 petition to the FDA by CSPI prompted the agency to hold hearings yesterday to review sodium chloride's status in food.
"After 25 years of inactivity, the FDA is taking the salt issue seriously," Jacobson said. "They're really gathering information . . . and getting an earful from all sides."
The average American consumes 3,353 milligrams of sodium every day -- more than twice what the Institute of Medicine says is adequate for healthy people and 1,000 milligrams more than the 2,300 milligrams set as a daily limit by the 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines. The intake considered adequate is far lower: 1,500 milligrams for those 9 to 50 years old; 1,300 milligrams for those 51 to 70, and 1,200 milligrams for people 70 and older -- or less than what is found in a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on whole wheat with mustard.
The article goes on to state that the current proposals seem to be aimed at limiting the salt content of processed foods, but you watch: This is the thin end of the wedge. Next thing you know, they'll be standing over my table counting the number of shakes I use (which is quite a few, as I luuuuv teh salty).
(BTW, who else out there was frightened by the above-pic'd salt monster from Star Trek when they were kids? Most Trek beasties I could take or leave alone, but this one scared the bejaysus out of me.)
Yips! to fellow saltophile Rachel.
***And really, I wouldn't. I have no sweet tooth whatsoever. Can't stand sugar.
Extreme Tolkien Geekery Warning!
Yesterday, Robbo and I got into a little discussion over a part of "The Fellowship of the Ring" that caught his attention - specifically a description of the fireworks dragon at Bilbo's "long expected party". The odd use of the phrase "passed like an express train" apparently smacked him in the face like a wet, cold fish (so juicy sweeeet) as express trains were certainly not known to the world of Middle-Earth.
Naturally, I've given this some further thought (as I'm prone to do) and it got me considering another reason for its presence in the early part of the story.
When Tolkien began writing The Lord of the Rings, his early intention was to merely scribe a sequel to his first book and further explore the world of hobbits rather than paint a portrait of Middle-Earth on so wide a canvass as a three volume work. The author's early drafts of the first few chapters were much similar in style and tone to "The Hobbit" than the darker tale that it would become. When he wrote "The Hobbit", it was written from the point of view of an omniscient narrator who tells the story in a very informal way. Tolkien actually intended the tale to be read to children. As such, descriptions like "express train" were certainly appropriate for that kind of story-telling.
As The Lord of the Rings evolved into essentially a "translation" of an ancient text written long ago, "express train" does seem to be a glaring editorial error. So in that sense, I think Tolkien had in fact overlooked this reference. However, there are other parts of the early chapters that - to me - seem a little out of place. For example, there is a passage in Chapter Three - "Three is Company" featuring a fox thinking aloud his observation of sleeping hobbits which seemed strange to me. Allow me to quote myself:
Now this whole business of a sentient animal mulling over the peculiar behavior of these hobbits seems really out of place. It's almost as if Tolkien was reprising the lighter narrative tone he used in The Hobbit. And there are certainly no other incidents of animals expressing their thoughts to the reader. You don't get inside the head of a horse of the Riddermark thinking, "Gee, isn't this odd that I should be mounted by a shield maiden of Rohan and a hobbit dressed as the king's esquire? Quite strange, indeed! Oh well, off to the battle now." Personally, in the arduous process of editing and rewriting his various drafts, I think this is something that could have stood to be left out. But I suppose it at least suggests how unconcerned Frodo was at this point in his journey.So I see certain elements of the beginning of "FOTR" as being almost a throwback to "The Hobbit". In that sense, Tolkien may or may not have made a conscious decision to leave them in. But, considering the vastly intricate editing process that Tolkien needed to do time and again at the beginning of his writing, I'll cut him a little slack.
Or course, now that it's been pointed out it will probably bother me every time I re-read it.
November 29, 2007
Because It's Been A While Since We Had Some Thoughtful Political Commentary Around Here
I'm still giggling to myself over this one - The Red State Update:
Yips! from Robbo: And while we're at it -
You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.
Kathleen Wolf said she just wanted to bring attention to the overly harsh punishment of children — but instead touched off a frenzied debate about whether Massachusetts should ban spanking.
Wolf's bill, "An Act Prohibiting Corporal Punishment of Children," was swiftly dubbed the "anti-spanking bill," sparking an angry response from parents who feared slapping their child on the bottom could soon become a crime.
But Wolf, who concedes the bill has no chance of becoming law, says she simply wants the state to better define when punishment degenerates into abuse.
"Spanking isn't abuse. Spanking isn't the main issue. It's about using physical force against children for punishment," said Wolf.
Emphasis added. Let's go back and have another look at the text of the bill:
(a) For the purposes of this section, the following words shall, unless the context indicates otherwise, have the following meanings: -
“Child”, any person under eighteen years of age.
“Corporal punishment”, the willful infliction of physical pain or injurious or humiliating treatment.
(b) It shall be unlawful in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for any adult to inflict corporal punishment upon a child.
(c) The infliction of corporal punishment on a child may be a basis for a finding of abuse and neglect.
Well I'm just an ol' country lawyer, but I'd say that if you aren't willfully inflicting physical pain on your child, you aren't really spanking him. And vice versa. This bill doesn't better define abuse so much as lower the bar waaaaaay down. Wolf is either being extremely duplicitous or extremely naive.
Fortunately, there seem to have been a few adults in attendance at yesterday's hearing:
Lawmakers said beating children with belts and extension cords would likely cross the line into child abuse under current law. Sen. Karen Spilka, co-chairwoman of the committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, said the state needs to do more to combat child abuse, but isn't about to ban spanking.
"We are not going to be coming into people's homes as Big Brother planting little TV cameras or watching what parents do," she said.
Clive Staples Lewis was born this day in 1898.
My quote-of-the-day-email-guy notes this passage from the end of Chapter 3 of Lewis' Mere Christianity:
"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic... or else He would be the Devil in Hell... let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher."
(The quote puts my QOTDEMG's nose out of joint, but I believe that Lewis is spot on.)
I was first given an anthology of Lewis' writings when I was a first year law student. And I remember quite clearly that it was only in reading him that I finally began to grasp any notion of what was really meant by Faith. Of course, Lewis never became a Catholic himself, but it's quite safe to say that he was largely responsible for my first tottering steps towards the banks of the Tiber, and has continued at my side even as I splash about in its waves. However, I'd recommend him to anybody, regardless of their particular denomination.
The eldest Llama-ette and I also make the Chronicles of Narnia our primary bedtime reading. This year, we've gone all the way through the cycle, and are now (on the insistence of the gel), reading them in reverse order. Currently we're in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and the gel talks ominously of starting the whole business all over again once we've finished The Magician's Nephew. I think, I think, that the morals of the stories are starting to sink in on her. (She seems particularly interested in characters such as Edmund and Eustace who turn from their former, rotten selves with Aslan's help.) However, I also happen to know that she loves the Brit inflections I put on the children's speech. Recently, she said, "You know, Dad, you sort of sound like that when you talk." She meant it as a compliment, but I was a bit startled to be caught out in my pretentious Anglophilia by a mere nine year old.
Black Snake Moan (2006)
I'm finally going to do it. I'm going to review the movie that most recently dropped my jaw in wordless astonishment until I forgot to pick it up off the floor. I'm full of spoilers, so if you want to see this movie - stop reading.
My best Truly-Bad-Film-buds, Mr. and Mrs. Keysunset, had come over to my house to watch it. Mr. Keysunset and I were particularly keen for a big, greasy helping of Truly Bad Southern Gothic Film with Politically Incorrect Gravy. We loaded Black Snake Moan into the DVD player and took our movie consumption places.
The film opens with archival footage of bluesman Son House telling the camera about what makes the blues the blues. He riffs on his guitar and lectures when he's not singing. Then we get color - the actual film - with myriad scenes of a skeletally-thin Christina Ricci rubbing her "rebel coot" on everything that doesn't run from her. Before you know it we're inexplicably transported back to Son House and his Ken Burns Blues Moment. The whole movie works this way.
"Oh, I get it!" Mr. Keysunset shared. "This is a documentary."
I hate plot summaries, but I have to do the bold stroke version so you'll be able to appreciate what we witnessed. Rae (Christina Ricci) is telling her boyfriend (Justin Timberlake) goodbye with her leg-hug when the actual film starts. He's shipping out for Iraq, but literally before the dust of his bus out of town settles Rae scratches her itchy place again with another fella. I lost count of how many guys she hugs in her special way before she goes after her boyfriend's best friend late in the evening of that same day. The best friend beats her violently and throws her body out of the car in front of the house of bluesman Lazarus (Samuel Jackson).
Lazarus is a God-fearing, broken-hearted man. He wants to cure Rae of her dirty panties and her crop-top. So he chains her to his radiator. I know this set-up sounds priceless. Who could ask for more in an exploitation film? A middle aged black man chains a young, helpless white woman to his radiator. But not for sex. No ma'm! It's for her own good!
The only problem is . . . this isn't an exploitation film. Oh, it starts out as one, but less than halfway through it whips around on us, like the proverbial black snake. We, the Truly Bad Film lover, were all ready for a hot tumble with this film and no regrets. But it turns out . . . this film wants us to fall in love with it and have its baby.
Halfway through the film Lazarus lets Rae off the chain. But she continues to live with him and begins to learn self-respect. A local preacher stops by. Lazarus discovers he has a self-possessed lady-friend who is falling for him. Next thing ya know its a mashup: My Fair Lady and some sappy thing where the embattled couple finally make it together on heart. It's sincere. And sentimental.
Thanks to the Keysunsets for the My Fair Lady insight. Its too true. Rae gets tamed and Laz takes her out to the 'ho down (emphasis on Ho) where Rae proves that she can dance nasty, but not actually do the nasty. As we all know, that's the mark of a true lady!
And then . . . God help me . . . there's a wedding.
Through a series of events I'm too lazy to describe, Rae marries Justin Timberlake, who is exactly as screwed up as her, in a totally different way. Because two people with crippling emotional problems is a party, whereas one is just sad. Or something. Instead of a wedding ring he . . . get this . . . puts a GOLD CHAIN around her waist. Its a symbolic a chastity belt.
Oh the avalanche of Women and Gender Studies degrees this movie will impel! It warms my heart to think of all the young gals bent over their notebooks, hammering out those dissertations condemning patriarchal Lazarus and his old (Testament) school ways. Whole chapters will be written on the cuckolded and emasculated Timberlake character as compared and contrasted with the cuckolded yet Blues-empowered Lazarus.
Yes, people. The Blues will resurrect you. The Blues will restore your virginity so you can wear white to your wedding. The Blues will heal you and make you whole. Black Snake Moan could have merely settled for exploitation. It could have just had fun showing off Rae's boobs and her barely clad pelvic region as she slutted around on her chain. But it goes way beyond that because - even though its sappy it has soul. I loved this Truly Bad blend of excess and heart. And I will watch it again. Ay-men!
November 28, 2007
Extremely Gratuitous Tolkien Geek Observation
I don't recall having ever seen anybody else mentioning this before, but one of my very few literary gripes with Tolkien is over a passage very early on in The Fellowship of the Ring in which he describes the fireworks display at Bilbo's 111th Birthday Party. It reads, in part:
And there was also one last surprise, in honour of Bilbo, and it startled the hobbits exceedingly, as Gandalf intended. The lights went out. A great smoke went up. It shaped itself like a mountain seen in the distance, and began to glow at the summit. It spouted green and scarlet flames. Out flew a red-golden dragon - not life-size, but terribly life-like; fire came from his jaws, his eyes glared down; there was a roar, and he whizzed three times over the heads of the crowd. They all ducked, and many fell flat on their faces. The dragon passed like an express train, turned a somersault, and burst over Bywater with a deafening explosion.
Emphasis added. This has always rankled me. Even if you accept Tolkien's general narrative flow, which progresses from a child-friendly description of life in the Shire (and here I'm thinking of the fox's commentary on finding Frodo, Sam and Pippin asleep in the woods near Hobbiton) to a far deeper, darker account of the history of Middle Earth (as LOTR eventually becomes), I believe sticking in a railway simile is just not on. Did Tokien do this as a deliberate hook? Or was he just being sloppy? (Gary - I'm calling you out for your opinion on this.)
Just thought I'd mention it. And yes, I'm reading the furshlugginer books again.
UPDATE: I changed "reader-friendly, almost shallow" to "child-friendly" because that's much closer to what I meant.
Of course, it is well-known that "the tale grew in the telling" and I think the Abbot is right that this section must be one of the earliest. I suppose I'm just a little surprised that what with all the evolutions, amendments and rewrites, this particular simile survived. I cannot recollect anywhere else in LOTR where Tolkien uses a similar, completely non-Middle Earth, term.
Geekery Yips! (And Shameless Side-Blog Blegging) from Gary:
OK, I'll bite at this one. My first instinct is to say the Oxford Don was being sloppy. I mean, I don't know how many words fill the 1000 page epic but you'd think he'd make an incongruous error or two in the lot. But when you read about how meticulous he was about revisions in his Introduction you kind of have to accept the idea that it was intentional. But then, Robbo, I would ask you - what other metaphor (or is it a simile?) could he use that was in line with what was around in Middle-Earth at the time? The only thing I can think of that would describe the roar and charge of a dragon (even if it's a faux-dragon) would be...well, a dragon. Maybe a fell beast, but the reader is not yet familiar with those at that point.
I'll give you credit for catching it though. Goes to my feeling that no matter how many times you read the book you can still find stuff you never noticed before.
And while we're on the subject...any one interested in reading chapter-for-chapter some of my own insights on the work should head over to -
And to piggyback on The Abbot's comment below, how on earth can you have vinification (i.e. "Old Winyards") in a place that's roughly equivalent to being above the
30th 50th parallel in the Northern Hemisphere? A strong, red wine made in that microclimate? Highly unlikely, I say.
Yips! back from Robbo: I appreciate your point. (And it's a simile - "like" or "as", you know.) My advice would be to chuck it altogether. "The dragon passed in a thunderous blaze," for example, would get the image across as well.
Sorry for the light posty today. Very busy.
BTW, I have to go to Cleveland next week. What does one.....do there (apart from grumble about the weather)?
As usual, any tips on eateries and the like would be welcome.
John Waters' DVD Favorites
I heard John Waters interviewed on NPR yesterday. He was listing his DVD favorites. Of course, I'd never seen any of them and the only one I'd heard of was David Cronenberg's Crash, which I may watch one day, if I'm ever feeling particularly iron-stomach-ish.
I'm linking the page with his picks, not so that you can run out and rent the films John Waters likes, but so you can listen to the interview. The most interesting thing about his interview was when he said that he played "car accident" as a child. Listen to the interview (linked at the top of the page) to hear the voice of the interviewer as he asks, incredulously, how one plays "car accident." In his answer Waters' begins talking about his development as a storyteller. It made me wish the whole interview had been about that.
Another interesting moment comes when Waters talks about what he finds offensive and over-the-line in film. You might have assumed, like me, that there was nothing too outré for John Waters. But, we would be wrong. That part of the interview is linked below the photo.
Random Commuter Observation
Despite the recent spike in gas prices, I still haven't managed to hit the $50 fill-up yet. But at $48.42 this morning, I feel I've gotten close enough.
November 27, 2007
I'm guessing 99%...
It Takes A Village To Neutralize Parental Authority
Well, I'm not especially surprised that it's Massachusetts:
Parents who spank their kids - even in their own homes - would be slapped by the long arm of the law under an Arlington nurse’s proposal to make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to outlaw corporal punishment.
Kathleen Wolf’s proposed legislation will be debated at a State House hearing tomorrow morning.
If signed into law, parents would be prohibited from forcefully laying a hand on any child under age 18 unless it was to wrest them from danger, lest they be charged with abuse or neglect.
Rep. Jay Kaufman, a Lexington Democrat, submitted the 61-year-old Wolf’s petition at her request, but is not taking a position for or against corporal punishment.
“He does recognize and understand the concern many would have on legislating parental rights,” said Sean Fitzgerald, Kaufman’s chief of staff, “but the problem is the boundary is often overstepped. The right to hit should never be the right to hurt.”
True, but there's also a maxim to the effect that hard cases make bad laws. Preventing genuine child-abusers (i.e, the "hurters") from running amok is fine, even admirable. But letting the State interfere with Mom and Dad's judgment about how best to take Little Johnny down a peg or two when he needs it, well, that's a whole different order of bureaucratic nannyism.
Here's the proposed text:
An Act prohibiting corporal punishment of children. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1: Chapter 119 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2004 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after Section 51 B, a new Section 51 B 1/2 , as follows:
Section 51 B ½. CORPORAL PUNISHMENT OF CHILDREN IS PROHIBITED
Corporal Punishment of children violates their rights to safe, secure and respectful care.
This section is intended to actively support nonviolent parenting.
The provisions of this section are intended to eliminate the use of corporal punishment to discipline children, because of the emotional harm and risks of bodily harm associated with corporal punishment of children.
The provisions of this section shall not preclude any adult from using incidental or minor physical contact designed to maintain order and control, or other discipline which does not constitute corporal punishment.
(a) For the purposes of this section, the following words shall, unless the context indicates otherwise, have the following meanings: -
“Child”, any person under eighteen years of age.
“Corporal punishment”, the willful infliction of physical pain or injurious or humiliating treatment.
(b) It shall be unlawful in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for any adult to inflict corporal punishment upon a child.
(c) The infliction of corporal punishment on a child may be a basis for a finding of abuse and neglect.
(d) The provisions of this section shall not preclude any adult from using such reasonable force as is necessary to protect himself and others from imminent, serious, physical harm, including assault by a child, to divest a child of a dangerous instrument, to prevent injury to property, or to remove a child from a life-threatening or injurious situation.
Looks awful broad to me. I'm not sure whether Rep. Kaufman really gives that much of a damn about "the concerns many would have on legislating parental rights."
Afraid of a Disaster, Robbo Posted Fast and Faster
Somebody cruised in here on a google search for nakie Madeline and nakie Pepito.
I always knew that boy was a bad hat. The question is whether he keeps it on.
I know the Abbot will still hold a candle for the Hurons-as-displaced Templars theory, but then again he's holding an even larger candle for a BCS Bowl Bid for the Golden Dome, so take his theories with a grain of salt or two.
Gratuitous Annapolis Observation
The expression "peace process" positively grates on my nerves.
I've never been able to decide whether the people who came up with this term for the bureaucratic kabuki that is Middle Eastern diplomacy were breath-takingly naive or breath-takingly cynical.
That is all.
BIZARRO WORLD UPDATE: Looks like the Legion of Doom is planning to hold its own Middle East "peace process" chinwag in Tehran. Of course, their plan will be much simpler than anything coming out of Annapolis: Kill Israel.
November 26, 2007
Two days ago I reported exclusively that Ricky would not only play, but might very well start against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Well, he is scheduled to start Monday night.
Only in Miami does the following happen: A guy fails a drug test five times, quits the team once, changes his mind and returns only to be suspended. Then he is forced to stay away for nearly two years, and when he comes back to a new coach that doesn't embrace what he stands for, none of it matters.
None of it.
The new coach -- Cam Cameron -- is so desperate for a healthy, viable running back, that the guy he originally didn't want back on the team comes back to practice on Monday and by the following Monday is starting again. On national cable television.
That is the case with Ricky Williams today.
Williams is starting because Jesse Chatman's injured right ankle is, well, still injured. All the wishing and rehabilitation in the world wasn't going to overcome that noticeable limp Chatman maintained throughout the past week.
So Ricky will run for the Dolphins again. And it should be interesting to see how he does given his time away from the game, the fact he is 30 years old now, and his relative lack of practice time.
One thing working in Ricky's favor is that this offensive line is perhaps the best and most effective he has run behind since he's been with the Dolphins. Yes, I realize he gained 1,853 behind Tim Ruddy, Jamie Nails, Mark Dixon, Todd Perry and Todd Wade in 2002.
But within 18 months of helping Ricky establish that team-record individual rushing season, all of the players on that line were either off the roster or out of the league altogether. This Miami line helped turn Ronnie Brown from an also-ran to a likely Pro Bowl performer had he remained healthy.
It will be interesting to see what that line does for Ricky.
Hell, I've swallowed the O-fer kool-aid meself. If he helps us get a win, let him play sez I.
FU TONY KORNHEISER UPDATE: Liveblogging the Steelers game tonight. Ricky fumbles in the 2nd Q and hobbles off the field shaken up. Everybody in the booth was so eager to pile on, did anybody notice that one of the Steelers jammed his cleat into Ricky's back when he was on the ground? Sheesh.
0-11 UPDATE: Yeah, they lost again. But they gutted it out and it was damned close until the end. I'm not ashamed.
Because I Can
"[Director/Writer] Frank [Darabont] wrote a new ending that I loved. It is the most shocking ending ever and there should be a law passed stating that anybody who reveals the last 5 minutes of this film should be hung from their neck until dead."Well, thanks to Wikipedia, here it is:
Driving through the mist, David returns home to find his wife has fallen victim to the spider-like creatures. Heartbroken, he drives the group south until running out of gas without finding any other survivors. Surrendering to their fate, the group silently agrees that there is no point in going further. With four bullets left in the gun and five people in the car, David shoots Amanda, Dan, Irene, and his son, Billy, to save them from death at the hands of the creatures. Wailing, he attempts to shoot himself with the now-empty gun before exiting the vehicle to let the mist take him. After a few moments, however, a military tank drives by in the same direction, followed by a large squadron of soldiers clearing away the mist and several trucks full of survivors, including the mother whom nobody from the store would escort. Completely mad, David falls to his knees screaming as a pair of soldiers look at him in confusion. He had been driving away from help the entire time.That's for all those oversized novels by Mr. King that I've had to plod through only to get to a most unsatisfying (and often ridiculously implausible) ending.
In the kitchen with Steve-O the LLamabutcher
Big cooking week last week. Last night I made Thanksgiving Stew, which was basically a medley of left-overs left to simmer to golden goodness. We made stock Thursday night, boiling the carcass of the noble bird together with the loose veggies that the cavity had been stuffed with. The big difference this time was we drained the stock into used yogurt containers, instead of one big container, for much more convenient freezing. That way, when we need stock for soup, we just defrost enough for that time, instead of a whole big thing. I have no idea why I never thought of that before, but what can I say, I'm dense. I started with sauteing two smaller yellow onions, some celery chopped finely, in a little bit of olive oil, a little flour, and about a cup and a half of red wine. I added northern beans, and would have added a can of corn and a can of carrots if we had had them. The turkey stock, plus about three cups of water, two handfuls of cranberries, the meat from one drumstick plus the wings, a little bit of turkey sausage, a regular potato and a sweet potato, a large spoonful of gravy, and then, when the thing had simmer for a couple of hours, about half a cup of stuffing mix. Savory does not begin to describe how awesome it was. Since we were out of pie, and that's just wrong, Miss Somersault and I made a pumpkin pie to go with it.
I've been on a real soup/stew/chili tear as of late, and this was a great addition to the mix. The cranberries actually worked nicely (they were raw when added, and broke down nicely to be soft, but without getting all gooey.
Great new-to-me blog
Old LLama pal Keith sends a link to a great blog for those interested in following what's going on with the financial markets, the appropriately named The Big Picture. Good stuff.
Also, I'm inching closer to the day when The Dear One starts her own blog. She actually had me search out a number of URLs, which turned up some nice open real estate. She's a big follower of the subgenre of knitting blogs, and I think is finally going to make the plunge, which would include side commentary on what a pain in the arse yours truly is to live with, I'm sure.
Gratuitous Monday Morning Observation
I haven't got much today, but I did want to send a sooper-sekret message to Fox: You keep running episodes of The Simpsons featuring Sideshow Bob, and I'll keep watching. Heh, indeed.
(And for those smartasses amongst you tempted to make comparisons between SSB and Self, I will only say feh.)
November 25, 2007
Leaf It To Me
I love it when a plan comes together.
Although a scant 48 hours ago I was moaning about the Sisyphean task of collecting up and hauling off all the leaves in my yard, in the interim I got the sudden idea of imitating my neighbor, who instead of messing about with wheelbarrows simply rakes his leaves onto a large plastic tarp and drags it out into the woods for dumping.
It works like a charm. I can haul ten times the load on each trip. Not only did I finish out front, for an encore I even cleaned up the side yard, an area I have traditionally ignored.
I am the Leaf Man.
In the immortal words of Joey Lawrence, "Whoa!"
The dollar too low, or the Euro way, waaaaay overvalued? Listen to American academics worried about the cost of their Provence rentals, it's the former: listen to the head of the Eurozone's most high profile manufacturer, it's the latter:
As Airbus chief Thomas Enders warned in a speech to the Hamburg workers last night, Europe's champion plane-maker - the symbol of European unification, in the words or ex-French president Jacques Chirac -- is now facing a "life-threatening" crisis.
Mr Enders said the company's business model is "no longer viable", and "massive losses" are on the horizon. So much for all those currency hedges that analysts like to cite. Have they ever tried to buy a currency hedge? They would discover how expensive these instruments are. Hedges cannot protect a company with $220bn in delivery contracts priced in dollars, when the euro/sterling cost-base is leaping into the stratosphere.
The sudden rocketing in sovereign bond spreads this week between core German Bunds and Club Med debt - Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, as well as Irish, Belgian and Slovenian - is a clear sign that markets are starting to price in a break-up risk for the single currency, however remote. Italian spreads have risen beyond the danger point of 40 basis points. This is less than the 100bp or so seen in Quebec (viz Ontario debt) when it looked as if the separatists might prevail. But it is dangerous nevertheless.
I'll confess to not really understanding the third paragraph: Keith, Lou, any ideas?
Great Tee-Vee Show Ideas
Think about it: The Robbo and Tony Tiber Swim Hour of Power.
I'd be their doofus clueless sidekick.
November 23, 2007
The Dog that didn't bark
Hmmm, what's missing from this New York Times story:
The homicide figure continues a remarkable slide since 1990, when New York recorded its greatest number of killings in a single year, 2,245, and when untold scores of the victims were killed in violence between strangers.
Homicides began falling in the early 1990s, when Raymond W. Kelly first served as police commissioner, and plummeted further under subsequent commissioners. Mr. Kelly returned to serve under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2002, the first year there were fewer than 600 homicides. There were 587 that year, down from 649 in the previous year.
Leaf Me Alone
Mayun do I hate doing the leaves. Even the opportunity to play with the leaf-blower can't overcome the sheer tedium of it all.
We have four large trees out along the sidewalk in front of Orgle Manor, three silver maples and an oak of some sort. Each is about 45 or 50 feet tall, and the leaves that they shed are legion. In fact, while I know it is physically impossible, they somehow seem to have dropped more leaves this year than usual. Furthermore, the leaves have absolutely no place to go - the road is banked up on one side and a hedge occupies the other.
I've been at it all morning (leaf collection is a good way to work through an over-indulgence in holiday cheer) and feel as if I've barely made a dent. I've only cleaned up around half the trees, plus a very large pile of leaves still sits on the driveway waiting to be carted out back and dumped in the woods. I've been cajoling the Llama-ettes to help out, but they display all the work ethic of a state highway maintenance crew.
New Scientist reports a worrying new variant as the cosmologists claim that astronomers may have accidentally nudged the universe closer to its death by observing dark energy, a mysterious anti gravity force which is thought to be speeding up the expansion of the cosmos.
The damaging allegations are made by Profs Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and James Dent of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, who suggest that by making this observation in 1998 we may have caused the cosmos to revert to an earlier state when it was more likely to end. "Incredible as it seems, our detection of the dark energy may have reduced the life-expectancy of the universe," Prof Krauss tells New Scientist.
*#$&%(&$# the leaves.
November 22, 2007
Hail, Bright Cecilia!
In addition to being Thanksgiving this year, today is the feast day of St. Cecilia, patron saint of music (especially church music).
I've always held Cecilia in particular reverence because for me musick is the closest representation of the Divine on earth, the echo of the Cherubim and Seraphim in the soul of Man. Whether I am listening to a performance or stumbling through a work with my own collection of ten left-handed thumbs, it is through musick, frankly, that I feel the closest to God. Indeed, I understand that when I O-ficially cross the Tiber, I'm allowed to designate one or more patron saints. I'm still a bit fuzzy about whether a guy can pick a female saint for his team, but if so, I would undoubtedly put St. Cecilia at the very top of my batting order.
BTW, when I say musick, I mean musick. All musick. While I make no secret of my especial delight in the Baroque and Classic styles, while I have argued many times that I believe Johann Sebastian Bach to be the single greatest musickal genius in the entire history of mankind and while there is much that is called "musick" which I think to be utter garbage and in some cases (gangsta rap, por ejemplo) downright evil, however, I still feel that spiritual frisson in many, many different contexts. Perhaps not as sharply as when I'm listening to the great masters such as Bach, Haydn and Mozart, but it's there nonetheless. Peter Schickele always signed off his radio program with Duke Ellington's tag, "If it sounds good, it is good." I think there's a lot of truth to this, not just aesthetically, but spiritually as well. (Wait, do I hear sirens? Is the Church's Anti-Ecumenical Squad coming to haul me in? Wait! Honest, officer, I'm not advocating the U2-Charist!. There's a reeeeeal thin line between spirituality and hubris. Vade retro, Bono! And anyway, based on some of the abominable musick I've heard in some Masses, the Church Police wouldn't have a leg to stand on.)
Anyhoo, as the patron of musick, Cecilia has, of course, had many, many works dedicated to her. In celebration of the day, I am pulling out my Ode to St. Cecilia composed by Henry Purcell.
UPDATE: Ha! Speaking of the Church Music Police, B-16 throws down.
The Colossus prepares for the victory lap
The Colossus is preparing to hang it up and has already put up his closeout, dated December 1, although newer posts will go up before the end. I've enjoyed his insights and hope he will post occasionally again, as the Spirit moves him. If so, he can join the ranks of freeloaders like me who snagged a set of keys and made themselves at home on other people's blogs--posting on obscure topics, raiding the fridge, making long distance calls, etc.
Robbo's Thanksgiving Thought
Okay, let's see if this makes the slightest bit of sense.
As I sit here waiting for the Missus and the Llama-ettes to finish up with the punkin' pie and the potatoes so that I can get at the oven with Mr. Briney Turkey, I'm led to reflect on what a profound effect I believe my decision to swim the Tiber has had on my very ability to appreciate the gifts I have received in my life. Earlier this year, I was feeling parched and barren, listless and numb. But since finally answering the Call, I have been infused with such a dose of the Spirit that I have been far, far happier than I've been for a very long time, indeed perhaps than I've ever been before. And I am learning to take the love of God - which has always been there, of course, but which I feel ever so much more tangibly - and translate it into a far deeper love and gratitude for all those in my life, especially for my family. The change, if I may say so, has been rayther astounding.
So I think that on this day I'd especially like to give thanks to God not just for the blessings that He's given me, but also for His steering my spirit to appreciate and embrace those blessings ever so much more deeply, as well as helping my voice to make my thanks for them humbler, more sincere and more grateful.
Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
V. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
R. Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
V. Per singulos dies benedicimus te.
R. Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.
V. Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
R. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.
V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
R. In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.
(I don't know if this is technically proper for the day, but I feel quite compelled to say it.)
Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless all of you!
Happy completely PC Fall Feast
The traditional LLamabutchers posting on Thanksgiving:
City of New York, October 3, 1789 Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th. day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficient Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows best.
George Washington: A Collection compiled and edited by W.B. Allen (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1988) at 534-535.
Proclamation of Thanksgiving BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siefe and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobediance, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lourd one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eigth.
By the President:
Followed by the Fusco Brothers Thanksgiving Special:
See you tomorrow!
For all the blessings in your life.
And remember to say a special thanks to the troops who are away from their loved ones this Thanksgiving.
Happy Turkey Day!
November 21, 2007
Pickens calls Kerry out
T. Boone Pickens called Kerry out at an American Spectator dinner, pledging to pay $1 million if Kerry could prove any statement made by the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth was untrue. Kerry responded by saying he could do it and to pay the money to a paralyzed veterans organization. The good folks at OpinionJournal reproduced the Pickens reply here. Pickens called on Kerry to pledge to contribute $1 million to the Medal of Honor Foundation if Kerry failed to disprove any of the Swift Boat assertions. Before paying anything, Pickens asked Kerry to produce the journal he kept during his time in Vietnam as well his complete military records from 1971-1978, and copies of all movies and tapes made during Kerry's service. No one is holding their breath.
OOOOOOH, Those Skwoowy Weecusants!
The crack(ed) young staff over at Patum Peperium broke into the holiday porto a bit early this year and have concocted a piece of Mayflower Madness guaranteed to displace your drumstick. Clicky on over and scroll down to the first part first.
(Rumor has it that yours truly makes a cameo later on, but I deny any knowledge thereof. Besides, they assured me there was absolutely no shnapps in that cider.)
Holiday Netflix Recommendations
Okay, so it's probably too late to throw these in your queue and get them for this weekend, but there's always the old fashioned video rental store you can stop at on the way home (ehem...unless you're already home - Robbo).
But back to "The Ice Storm". Set in Southwestern CT in the early 1970's, the film is actually a pretty damning look at the irresponsibility of the "free love" hippies who eventually sold out and became the establishment. Starring such well-known actors as Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Katie Holmes and
Frodo Baggins Elijah Wood, "The Ice Storm" takes place over Thanksgiving weekend and during a literal ice storm.
It's a well-acted story about the hypocrisy exhibited by many of the "boomer" generation whose self-indulgences led to an erosion of American culture that is all too recognizable today in modern Liberalism. And its message is a hopeful one. For in the end, many of the characters must come to grips with the consequences - sometimes tragic - of their actions. The final scene that shows father Ben Hood (Kline) hugging his son Paul (Maguire) and breaking down with emotion was particularly moving.
But this post is all really just an excuse to reprint what Dirty Harry at Libertas has to say about the movie:
(Deep breath…) Okay, this is how it worked: In the 1960’s the best fed, best housed, most ungrateful and spoiled generation ever didn’t want a bunch of non-white non-Christians in Vietnam to share the freedoms they enjoyed… So, they turned on their parents, turned on their country, ignored the noble civil rights movement, and became the hippie generation whose legacy is AIDS, drug abuse, and unwed mothers. The hippies told us they were protesting the war on moral grounds and yet the protests stopped when the draft did. Hmm? So, as the war raged on, the hippies became yuppies, embraced materialism in excess of anything their bourgeois parents ever imagined, moved to the suburbs, and clung to their self-destructive free-love-entitlement lifestyle at the expense of their kids. (Exhale.) And The Ice Storm is a damning indictment of that generation, that thankfully uses Thanksgiving somewhere along the way allowing me the pretense to get the above off my chest.Couldn't have stated it any better myself.
"LET'S MAKE THAT REVIEW NICE AND SUCCINCT" YIPS from Steve-O: "Couldn't make it any better myself?"
I could: Sigourney Weaver.
With a bullwhip.
They'll Do It Every Time
I have to get going on what the five year old still calls the "liebs" this weekend.
Temperature today when I'm too hung up with other things to do it? 70.
Forecast temperature Friday when I will be able to do it? Mid 40's.
Oh, well, could be worse. Could be raining.
UPDATE: Gary spots the quote. I didn't bother flagging it because I figured it would be a bit of a gimme. However, thinking of the movie again reminded me of the very lovely and talented Terri Garr:
I hope that if Gary ever does a 70's Babe Crush series, Inga vill get her roll in zee hay.
So, Who's Gonna Spank Me?
Myspace Happy Birthday Comments & Graphics
Yes, today the Llama Butchers turn five years old. Woo-Hoo!!!
Later on I might put up some posts reflecting on the past year, perhaps some reposts of old favorites, and/or other musings appropriate to the day. Later on. I woke up this morning and realized that there was no conceivable reason why I should slog all the way into the office today, so I am at present in the bosom of my family. Which means, of course, that I can't string together two coherent thoughts without the windmills are being overrun by the League of Extraordinary Schrodinger's Cats, admiral. However, in her latest manifestation of utter lunacy (and I say this only out of love), the Missus has stated her intention of taking the Llama-ettes to see the opening of Enchanted this afternoon, so I should have a peaceful Orgle Manor to myself. And while I'll be busy brining up the ol' turkey, starching and ironing various linens and giving the silver a bit o' polish, I should have some time for a bit o' celebratory posting as well.
HOWEVER, I did just want to take this opportunity to place credit where it is due and send out special Llama Yips! to Steve-O, the founder and guiding spirit of this place. I certainly never would have got into blogging if he hadn't invited me five years ago, and frankly, life would have been very different indeed. Thanks, man.
YIPS from Steve-O: Right back at ya, lil' fella.
Eleven thousand, two hundred and twelve posts, and one million, two hundred fifty five thousand, two hundred sixty six visits later...
Here's what I aspire to in blogging:
The Dear One is at work, and I'm at home now with the four clowns waiting for the dryer repair dude to show up. Good times. And I just got the call from the good for nothin' brother in law who is now not coming tomorrow. I googled it up, mapquested it, and sent him a quick fax with directions to his local salvation army to make sure he's well fed tomorrow. Rat bastahd, leaving me here to suffer the in-laws by my lonesome.
More later on the recap of Season Four and the Preview of Season Five, which will include at least one evil twin, a sudden conversion to lesbianism, forays into facial hair, and George Clooney sobering up and gettting serious about the practice of pediatric emergency medicine. Wait, that was season five of ER, back during the second administration of Grover Cleveland. Damn writer's strike...
Unseriously, though, Sadie-Lou over at AgentBedHead---and the fine proprietertrix over at Apothegm Designs---is working on a damn fine new skin for the LLamas that will be a pretty bold departure in style and look for us. Prominent in this will be rectifying a problem that I've long pondered this year, while not doing a durn thing at all to fix: incorporating Gary, the LMC, and Chai-Rista's LLamas into the masthead logo.
November 20, 2007
This just might be the coolest thing I've ever read
Eight foot long sea scorpions. One word: Awesome!
Eurypterids, or ancient sea scorpions, are believed to be the extinct aquatic ancestors of today's scorpions and possibly all arachnids, a class of joint-legged, invertebrate animals, including spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks.
Braddy said the fossil was from a Jaekelopterus Rhenaniae, a kind of scorpion that lived only in Germany for about 10 million years, about 400 million years ago.
He said some geologists believe that gigantic sea scorpions evolved due to higher levels of oxygen in the atmosphere in the past. Others suspect they evolved in an "arms race" alongside their likely prey, fish that had armor on their outer bodies.
Braddy said the sea scorpions also were cannibals that fought and ate one other, so it helped to be as big as they could be.
"The competition between this scorpion and its prey was probably like a nuclear standoff, an effort to have the biggest weapon," he said. "Hundreds of millions of years ago, these sea scorpions had the upper hand over vertebrates — backboned animals like ourselves."
Remind me to refrain from wedgieing a scientist tomorrow in honor of this.
Help Me, Kermit! You're My Only Hope!
File this one in the "Oh, Fer Chrissakes" category.
The good news: the original Sesame Street episodes are being rereleased.
Just don’t bring the children. According to an earnest warning on Volumes 1 and 2, “Sesame Street: Old School” is adults-only: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”
Say what? At a recent all-ages home screening, a hush fell over the room. “What did they do to us?” asked one Gen-X mother of two, finally. The show rolled, and the sweet trauma came flooding back. What they did to us was hard-core. Man, was that scene rough. The masonry on the dingy brownstone at 123 Sesame Street, where the closeted Ernie and Bert shared a dismal basement apartment, was deteriorating. Cookie Monster was on a fast track to diabetes. Oscar’s depression was untreated. Prozacky Elmo didn’t exist.
Nothing in the children’s entertainment of today, candy-colored animation hopped up on computer tricks, can prepare young or old for this frightening glimpse of simpler times. Back then — as on the very first episode, which aired on PBS Nov. 10, 1969 — a pretty, lonely girl like Sally might find herself befriended by an older male stranger who held her hand and took her home. Granted, Gordon just wanted Sally to meet his wife and have some milk and cookies, but . . . well, he could have wanted anything. As it was, he fed her milk and cookies. The milk looks dangerously whole.
Live-action cows also charge the 1969 screen — cows eating common grass, not grain improved with hormones. Cows are milked by plain old farmers, who use their unsanitary hands and fill one bucket at a time. Elsewhere, two brothers risk concussion while whaling on each other with allergenic feather pillows. Overweight layabouts, lacking touch-screen iPods and headphones, jockey for airtime with their deafening transistor radios. And one of those radios plays a late-’60s news report — something about a “senior American official” and “two billion in credit over the next five years” — that conjures a bleak economic climate, with war debt and stagflation in the offing.
The old “Sesame Street” is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for softies born since 1998, when the chipper “Elmo’s World” started. Anyone who considers bull markets normal, extracurricular activities sacrosanct and New York a tidy, governable place — well, the original “Sesame Street” might hurt your feelings.
I asked Carol-Lynn Parente, the executive producer of “Sesame Street,” how exactly the first episodes were unsuitable for toddlers in 2007. She told me about Alistair Cookie and the parody “Monsterpiece Theater.” Alistair Cookie, played by Cookie Monster, used to appear with a pipe, which he later gobbled. According to Parente, “That modeled the wrong behavior” — smoking, eating pipes — “so we reshot those scenes without the pipe, and then we dropped the parody altogether.”
Which brought Parente to a feature of “Sesame Street” that had not been reconstructed: the chronically mood-disordered Oscar the Grouch. On the first episode, Oscar seems irredeemably miserable — hypersensitive, sarcastic, misanthropic. (Bert, too, is described as grouchy; none of the characters, in fact, is especially sunshiney except maybe Ernie, who also seems slow.) “We might not be able to create a character like Oscar now,” she said.
Snuffleupagus is visible only to Big Bird; since 1985, all the characters can see him, as Big Bird’s old protestations that he was not hallucinating came to seem a little creepy, not to mention somewhat strained. As for Cookie Monster, he can be seen in the old-school episodes in his former inglorious incarnation: a blue, googly-eyed cookievore with a signature gobble (“om nom nom nom”). Originally designed by Jim Henson for use in commercials for General Foods International and Frito-Lay, Cookie Monster was never a righteous figure. His controversial conversion to a more diverse diet wouldn’t come until 2005, and in the early seasons he comes across a Child’s First Addict.
Read it and weep.
And I suppose the Child Protective Services Nazi van will be 'round Orgle Manor shortly, since I routinely use "om nom nom nom" when snacking on Llama-ette tummies.
Gratuitous Musickal Observation
The local classical station is doing a little Thanksgiving Week marathon in which it is playing, in reverse order, the top ninety classickal musick requests as voted over the past couple weeks by its listeners.
According to the plan, the single most popular piece will be played on Thanksgiving evening. Of course, the station hasn't put up the playlist yet, as that would spoil the surprise. Me? I've got a baaaaaaad feeling that Numero Uno is going to be none other than Pachelbel's Canon in D. It's not that I actually hate the piece. Rayther, I hate the fact that so many people love it so far beyond its musickal worth. To me, the piece is, well, really rayther uninteresting. And I'm in good company, too: The great Peter Schickele, creator of P.D.Q. Bach and as confirmed a musickal egalitarian who ever lived, regularly apes everything the Canon's oversaturation of classical radio stands for:
Mr. Schickele's latest Telarc recording, for example, is a sendup of classical radio called "WTWP" (Wall to Wall Pachelbel). But "serious" music stations' pop banter, fractured compositions, easy-listening music ambitions and quests for ratings already match Mr. Schickele's parody. (Here are WTWP's programming restrictions: a work can't be over 11 minutes long. No vocal music during office hours. Nothing written after 1912 except for "Bolero," "Appalachian Spring" and the Gershwin Preludes for Piano. And everything has to be in a major key until after 11 P.M.) "We play the music you don't mind hearing," runs WTWP's slogan. But we don't really need WTWP; just tune in to your local equivalent to hear the jocular way in which all sound is treated as a bit of a put-on.
Unlike the NYTimes, I'm not saying you have to go all twelve-tonal in your listening or get all enthusiastic over what passes for 20th Century musick. But, for example, I'd much rather listen to the awesome chaconnes put out by Pachelbel's contemporaries and near contemporaries such as Rameau, Purcell, Bach and Handel.
Speaking of musickal cannons (ha!), I recently tossed Battle of Britain into my Netflix queue again. Ever since then, I've had the Ace High March running through my mind. These here intertubes being what they are, of course somebody has posted it on YouTube. Here ya go:
I'm toying with the idea of letting the eldest Llama-ette watch it with me this time around. What do you think? The history is actually pretty good and the violence isn't as bad as all that.
UPDATE: Oh, speaking of Michael Caine films, I recently watched the 1969 original of The Italian Job, in which he starred. I've not much to say about the film, with the single exception of the fact that the last thing I ever expected to encounter in life was a movie starring both Noel Coward and Benny Hill. I mean, what are the odds?
The Ol' Fred Jugger-flop?
We here at the Llama Butchers have had some fun with the much antipated, oft-delayed and rather frustrating "will he or won't he" Presidential candidacy of Fred Thompson. But the former Senator's campaign seems to be falling victim to a kind of "seemed like a good idea at the time" malaise.
As Rear Admiral Josh Painter in "The Hunt for Red October" quipped, "Russians don't take a dump, son, without a plan." Could be Ol' Fred's campaign has.
Granny Gets Naked For Footballers
Calendar Girl, indeed. She's 102 years old and decided to, er, tastefully reveal herself to raise money for the local football team. And her name is...wait for it...Nora Hardwick.
Don't worry: The 1905-born great-great grandma is swathed in a filmy petal pink scarf and is strategically positioned behind the beer taps at the Ermine Way pub in town, so it's almost impossible to tell she's standing there in the buff.Oh my.
"They draped a bit of pink cloth around my shoulders, but at my age I just don't have the model body to be taking it all off," she told The Telegraph, a U.K. newspaper. "It was all very tastefully done. You couldn't see any of the bits or anything."
Hardwick said the football club asked her to pose in her birthday suit because she's the oldest person in the village.
"It's just a bit of fun really," she told the Telegraph.
Random Pre-Thanksgiving Commuter Observation
Lawdy mamma, am I glad we are sitting tight in Orgle Manor this year instead of trying to drive or, horibile dictu, fly anywhere. Every time I see somebody on the metro making their way to National or Dulles with an over-stuffed suitcase, I shudder.
November 19, 2007
I Just Found Kathy The Cake-Eater's Christmas Present
Yes, it's the Jane Austen Action Figure:
Says the copy:
Jane Austen was one of the greatest English novelists in history. Despite a rather sheltered life, she was able to capture the subtleties of human interaction so perfectly that her novels continue to be immensely popular to this day. This 5-1/4" tall, hard vinyl action figure comes with a book (Pride & Prejudice) and a writing desk with removable quill pen.
No doubt she can use the quill in hand-to-hand combat against other literary figgahs, notably Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare, although since even the manufacturers can't help getting in a dig about Miss Austen's "sheltered" life, they really ought to put out a Regency Rakes set including, say, Byron and the Shelleys.
Gratuitous Pre-Birthday Bash Snacking
No doubt our cadre of regular readers has long since programmed its collective blackberry reminder thingies with this information, but a few of you may not yet know that this insane little corner of the blogsphere known as The LLama Butchers will mark its fifth anniversary on Wednesday.
Yes, indeedy. And to celebrate the occasion, we're working on some things in the back about which I'd love to spill the beans, except that I won't a) because I don't want to spoil the surprise and b) because I'm not sure if they'll be ready in time. Just keep checking in to see.
In the meantime, however, I can't resist jumping the gun a wee bit with what has become something of a tradition now for me, namely reposting my very first substantive entry evah. Upon rereading, I fancy that it's withstood time pretty well:
CRANKY MOVIE GUY - I
I have absolutely no proof that the following conversation took place. However, I am morally certain that it did:
"Yes, Mr. Jackson?"
"Simpkins! Mate, we've got to discuss this character treatment of yours."
"Er, yes, Mr. Jackson - what about it?"
"Right. Look, mate, I told you off to do Gimli, right?"
"Yes, Mr. Jackson."
"Okay, so who is this Gloin guy? You give me five freekin' pages of dialogue between him and Frodo at Rivendell. I mean, it reads like My Dinner With Andre, right?"
"Well, Mr. Jackson, Gloin was Gimli's father. He was also one of the thirteen dwarves who went with Bilbo to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug in The Hobbit. You know, where Bilbo finds the Ring? His conversation with Frodo is important because it both ties the stories together and also gives the audience an overall vision of the strategic situation east of the Misty Mountains. You'll see, Sir, that Gloin is also the Dwarves' representative at Elrond's council and reports that Black Riders are looking for Bilbo and the Ring."
"Wake me when it's over...."
"Look, mate. First, I've already got a bunch of dwarves fighting each other and the elves at the council. It's a very significant moment in my vision."
"But Sir, Gloin was the only one there in the book. And nobody fought with anybody else."
"F**k the book. Right. And for the tie-in thing, I've already got that covered in the prologue, right? I mean, I'm not paying Cate Winslet all that money for nothing, am I?"
"Right, and this dinner thing at Rivendell. Screw it. Would take ten minutes. How the hell can I find room for that and keep Liv Tyler's "Xena" chase with the Black Riders?"
"Well, about that, Sir....."
"Right. Now look, mate. LOTR is a very wonderful and meaningful vision of mine, right? So I need you to be realy respectful of that. Now, we have a problem with Gimli."
"See, we have these big hunky Men, right? Audience will love 'em. And we got that dude playing Legolas, you know, the one who looks kinda like di Caprio on steroids? They'll be all over him. But Gimli is, well, not really eye-candy. Know what I mean, mate?"
"Well, Sir, it's interesting because Tolkien really went out of his way to explore the dwarves in some detail - their origins and so on, and to show how and why they were so different from Elves and Men. There is a lot of source material in The Silmarillion and...."
"I don't give a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys for the Simil-whatever. Audiences don't care. How can I bring my wonderful and meaningful vision of LOTR to the screen in a meaningful and caring way if I can't connect with the audience?"
"Shut up. I'll tell you how. The dwarf isn't sexy, right? Can't do anything about that. I mean, dwarves are, well, YOU know..... Anyway. So what we want is something that's going to connect with the audience. Something that makes them think "Oh, that's a dwarf. I know about them. I like them!" So what you need to do is write something into the story that is going to cause that connection. And I've got just the thing for you. (Don't know why I pay these blokes when I have to do all the thinking myself.)"
"Two words: Dwarf tossing."
"Goddamit, mate, are you deaf? Put in something about dwarf tossing, right? Audiences will love that! Kind of a comic relief thing. Maybe when they're running around in that big cave thing. That'll really get them into it - and let them share my wonderful and meaning vision of what LOTR means in terms they can relate to. So you put it in. Got that? Dwarf tossing!"
(Sadly) "Yes, Sir."
And the rest, as they say, is history.
That's Not My Church!
If I read this correctly, Binks over at the WebElf Report, long a clearing house for Anglican Communion Implosion Nooz, has decided to give up the fight:
The Anglican Church, as a revolutionary thought-experiment, has failed the test of time. Don’t crawl out onto twigs and debris bearing the familiar logos and comfortable fit, nor take on Anglo-Baptist religion from Africa or Australia or wherever: head back down the trunk of the tree and find the true roots.
This WebElf has been honoured: I’ve fought for and beside so many of you down the years: as I’ve said before, this site will no longer be a combing of the ruins of Anglican protestantism, except in the occasional news item. Christianity is Not Us, and (officially at least) We’re Not Christianity.
The proverbial fat lady has sung: it’s over. Would the last one out please get the lights?
He uses a metaphor about climbing back down the trunk and finding the roots, but it would seem as if swimming for the Rock would be equally a propos. If so, c'mon in, Binks, the water's great!
Gratuitous Bachelor Llama Father Weekend Round-Up
I don't know where they picked it up, but here is the latest Llama-ette song craze, belted at the top of their collective lungs at all the more inappropriate times this weekend, especially when we got into the car:
How we (as well as other motorists and pedestrians in the soccer field and Sooper-Giant parking lots) survived remains a mystery. And I noticed this morning that the steering wheel was bent where I had been grasping it.
Next Stop: Clifford's Winter Solstice
Reader Hugh left a linky to this post by the Centurion in the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack over the weekend concerning the PCification of Thanksgiving by Clifford the Big Red Dog:
The show we were watching was from an animated series called (I believe) Clifford the Big Red Dog. This particular episode was obviously a repeat of a Thanksgiving show, with the family of characters preparing their Thanksgiving turkey feast and then bringing it over to Grandma’s house for the big family celebration. But, oddly enough, the word Thanksgiving appeared nowhere in the dialogue.
Every reference to what should have been Thanksgiving Day was instead Fall Feast Day. The characters all wished each other Happy Fall Feast Day, they talked about their Fall Feast turkey, their Fall Feast pumpkin pie, the first pilgrim’s Fall Feast Day, and they all got dressed up in their finest Fall Feast clothes.
Huh? I’ve never heard this anywhere else. I checked with my family and it seems all of my grandchildren’s schools (in Nevada, New Jersey and New Hampshire) still celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Has anybody else heard of Fall Feast Day, or is Clifford the Big Red Dog wielding the cutting edge of yet another secular progressive incursion against cherished American traditions?
We long ago sailed out of the waters around Birdwell Island, Vermont (home to Clifford and his owner Emily Elizabeth). I don't recall ever seeing this episode, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least. Clifford was always pretty mushy in a manner typical of the sort of stuff served up by PBSKids. Not quite in the Calliou league maybe, but not all that far behind either.
(FWIW, I believe the show was cancelled when John Ritter - who voiced Clifford - suddenly died. So what the Centurion saw was a rerun from several years ago.)
Jesus, Mary, Joseph
The Missus is not ordinarily an especially political person, but she was so aghast at an article she read on her travels this weekend that she felt compelled to show it to me when she got back.
The piece, called "Choosing Us", was written by one Alison Piepmeier and appears in the November '07 issue of some Charlotte, NC fembot paper called Skirt. (It looks as if you have to register to get it on-line.)
The sub-heading of the article is "Our abortion was a love story". It is one of the more appalling things I've read in a long, long time.
It seems the author and her husband "Walter" have been married five years, are financially successful and perfectly healthy. She gets knocked up (so we are informed) during a quicky fling on the bathroom floor while her brother and girlfriend are in the next room watching tee vee. Of course, it was only after opening the barn doors (as it were) that our plucky heroine started thinking seriously about the topic of horses:
I slowly realized that, even though I was spending part of every day trying to will my uterine lining to detach, I did probably want to have kids someday. I was really clear, though, on the fact that "someday" was not now. I thought about all the selfish reasons I wasn't ready for a child - I want to write another book, we might need to move for my job - and wondered whether it was okay for me to decide based on my own desires. Walter had tumultuously mixed feelings; he has children from a previous relationship and didn't think he wanted to be a father again, but he wasn't sure he believed that abortion was an ethical decision. I listened intently to him even as I talked back in my head: "It's not your decision to make! I can't keep being pregnant!" We talked about adoption, but I knew we couldn't do it - we can't even walk by a pet store without getting attached, so I knew if we spent nine months with this being, it would be ours for life. So where did that leave us?
There's enough material in that paragraph alone to make this normally placid Llama start spitting seriously. (Apparently the baby would have stood a better shot at survival had it been a cute puppy instead.) But it gets worse. Much worse. I quote the last quarter or so of the article:
On Sunday, the morning of the abortion, Walter and I woke up together. Over coffee at the breakfast table, each of us wrote a letter. Walter had brought me a bunch of yellow daisies, and we each took one. Then we went to the river.
Sitting on rocks on the riverbank, on a sunny, cold January morning, I read my letter aloud. "Dear potential person," I said. "Thank you so much for coming along." I started to cry. I wished it well, told it I hoped it found another home, and pulled the blossom off my flower and threw it into the river. Walter cried, too, as he read his letter, explaining why now wasn't the right time for us but inviting this being to come back later if it wanted, and then he tossed his blossom out into the current; yellow petals on the green water. Both our flowers floated away, and I was surprisingly relieved to watch them go. "I hope to God they don't wash back ashore here," Walter said. We burned our letters but kept the flower stems to take home, as a reminder. It was a good ceremony: earth, air, fire, water and words.
When we went home, I took the remaining pills, and had a little pain and a lot of bleeding, but it was over pretty quickly, and Walter was there the whole time. In the days and weeks (and now years) since, I felt a little grief, but mostly gratitude. It wasn't just the relief of not being forced to give birth (although that was considerable); it was also what the decision did for our marriage.
There are other stories that go along with our abortion - the story of telling my family, of my brothers' conflicted yet supportive reactions. There are the stories of the other women having abortions that day, women whose insurance (like mine) wouldn't cover the procedure. There are the stories of other children these women will later have. There's the story of Walter's lonely couple of hours in the clinic lobby, scanning the faces of the other men waiting for their partners, some crying, some relieved, all totally left out.
But the story I most want to tell - and one I have never heard - is of abortion as an intimate part of a couple's life together. Our abortion was a love story. I'd worried that Walter and I were rejecting a gift from the universe. What I discovered, though, was that when we stripped away the distractions of everyday life so that we could make this difficult decision together, it bound us together as surely as if our choice had been different - and as it turns out, that was the gift.
Is this woman so incredibly blinded by self-absorption that she hasn't the faintest idea what she's really saying here? That terminating a life for no apparent reason other than their own convenience is a healthy bond for a couple? That the fact that they made the choice together is far more important than what the actual choice was, as if they were deciding on new wallpaper for the front hall? That abortion equals love?
I'm sorry, but to me this is just plain evil. Baby, of course, could not be reached for comment.
November 18, 2007
Insert Nelson Muntz noise here
Remember the Labor Far Left in Britain (and their loyal poodles in the US Donkocratic Party), and how they were salivating at the prospect of dumping Tony Blair, over his Iraq policy as well as his "selling out" of leftist values?
So Much For Good Intentions....
Got myself up bright and early this morning to be in plenty of time to get the Llama-ettes ready to take to St. Loony-Up-The-Cream-Bun-And-Jam, only to suddenly hear concerted braying as I was shaving: according to said braying, a new waterfall had formed in the kitchen.
I quickly went downstairs to discover that the place was a mess - water all over and a very large, dripping bulge in the ceiling. A quick inspection pinpointed the problem - one of the pipes going into the gels' bathtub decided to spring a leak. This is about the fifth time something like this has happened in our seven years at Orgle Manor, and every time the plumber recommends that we trash the whole system and replace it. I'm beginning to think there's something in this. Wonder if my insurance would cover it.
UPDATE: A reader writes, "Tom, what is it with this 'St. Loony-Whatever-it-is'?" Well, you needn't go very far to find the source of most of my stranger references:
I've know this sketch for thirty years. Somehow, it's only in the past couple that it's really begun to grow on me.
November 17, 2007
Surf on over to The Cake-eater Pad
and offer your congratulations to Kathy. Dr. Academic declared her as close to disease-free as it gets.
Girls! Girls! Girls!
You know, if I had a nickel for every time I've said "Girls!" in my day, why I'd be an awfully rich fellah.
November 16, 2007
I drive a 2005 Ford Escape, which has been a good vehicle for all purposes (running over hippies, etc).
However, Mr. Skinny put a CD that they made in school into the CD changer, and it won't eject, giving the "Eject Error" message. (It's a single CD player) Nothing in the owner's manual, and a cursory review of websites were saying things like "take it to the dealer to buy a new CD player." This I refuse to do. Suggestions? Other than taking up humming.
Website of the Day, for a little Friday afternoon stoopid
Al Gore's intertubes: where else can you find a blog devoted to:
H/T to AP.
Eat Mor Chikin: Cow Fu edition
Yes, the LLamas are #7 on Google out of 760 thousand for:
buy a cow to butcher
All I can say is "Moo."
Which is just a cheap link stunt to post this gem: Cow Fu
You know it's not a good day when...
You find yourself writing the following email to the fabulous Chai-Rista describing the day so far:
Yes, i have become the illegitimate love child of Steve Dallas and Gozer, the Keymaster, the Destroyer of Worlds.
Oh, Those Annoying Liberal Bumpah Stickahs
Dr. Emil at AtomicTrousers has compiled his Top Ten Worst.
This one truly encapsulates the Liberal mindset:
“A PBS Mind In a FOX News World” - This particular bumper sticker is positively oozing with smugness. “God, I can't stand being surrounded by these Wal-Mart-shopping, NASCAR-watching, deer-hunting troglodytes. How can these country-fried rubes allow themselves to be spoon-fed White House talking points from Bill O’Reilly? They must not be smart enough to enjoy watching some dusty old Brits mumble through a clunky drama on PBS like I am.”Go read the rest.
h/t: Jonah G.
Well, At Least I Can Rest A Little Bit Easier....
Truth be told, I've never paid that much attention to this guy to begin with.
Yips! to fellow DK-hater Rachel.
Gratuitous Single Llama Dad Posting
The Missus is off today to visit a friend in North Carolina who just had a baby. ("Come and see the baaaaaaay-bee!")***, leaving yours truly out-numbered and out-gunned to deal with the Llama-ettes over the weekend. Wish me luck, my friends.
Actually, it should prove to be a pretty good time, so long as the gels don't start going after one another. Ironically, the nine year old, who is the cross-grained one of the lot, has been working very hard of late on being pleasant and helpful, while the seven year old, who's always been the sweetheart, has been whiney and tempermental. Go figure. The five year old remains, as always, in full swashbuckler mode.
Although for most of the week we have an iron eight o'clock curfew, we usually let the elder gels stay up later on Friday or Saturday night. Tonight I think I'm going to run off my DVD of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo for them. Now before you start rolling your eyes, let me just say that they have suddenly become very keen on opera. Last weekend the eldest and I watched the first two acts of The Marriage of Figaro and on Wednesday her class went to the Kennedy Center for a workshop on Don Giovanni. Meanwhile, the seven year old still talks about the time she watched Handel's Tamerlaine with me. Plus, they've been pestering all week. So there you go. L'Orfeo will be a good choice, and certainly beats the hell out of a Sponge-Bob marathon. Aside from the beautiful musick, beautifully performed, it is relatively short and straightforward. And since both gels know the story of Orpheus and Eurydice very well, they should be able to follow along with no problem.
Tomorrow is the five year old's final soccer game of the season followed immediately by a team pizza party. If I know anything at all about that gel, she's going to spend the entire game saying, "Is it pizza yet? Is it pizza yet?" Ah, well. At that age, one cannot expect much more. Speaking of soccer, I neglected to mention that the eldest gel's team, the Creepy Green Leprechauns, won their league championship this season, with a 5-1 regular season record and a victory in their mini-tournament last Saturday. It is a real pleasure to watch these matches, as the girls are at an age where they are really starting to play as a team instead of just a mob. I wish I could say that the gel is one of the team's stars, but she isn't. She's certainly got talent, but she's also lazy, and hasn't developed the Suzuki Bonfire mentality of all-out effort yet. I talk to her about this but don't yell at her, figuring that she'll get it herself eventually.
One of the perks of living near Your Nation's Capital is, well, living near Your Nation's Capital. For tomorrow evening, the seven year old's Brownie troop has wangled itself a tour of the White House including, I'm told, the West Wing, which is not on the ordinary touron path. Pretty cool - I never even set foot in Dee Cee until I was in my twenties. (The invite was through the auspices of a senator's chief of staff who is connected with the troop. Alas, the senator is retiring, so we'll have to work up a new connection.)
Sunday my RCIA class is on donut duty again over at my nominal new church. I thought briefly and madly of taking the gels to this, but I'm pretty sure the Missus would scalp me if I did. And anyway, the seven year old's youth choir has got the anthem over at St. Looney-Up-The-Cream-Bun-and-Jam this week, plus we're on a roll with Sunday school. So I'll just take them to St. LUTCBJ instead. This'll give my old TEC friends something to chat about anyhow, especially as I've taken to smiling subtly at people there. Speaking of which, I noticed about two weeks ago that somebody finally removed my photo from the vestry bulletin board (although I'm still listed on the website). The Missus and I had a good laugh imagining who did it and speculating, if it was one of the more liberal muckety-mucks of the place, whether he also ripped it into tiny pieces and jumped on the bits. Wouldn't surprise me in the least.
So that's the weekend entertainment. Of course, there will also be chores. The seven year old was actually teary with the Missus yesterday because she thought I was going to make everyone work all weekend. (This because I required them to help me store the porch furniture last week and - gasp! - put away their own clean laundry.) "No," I said when I heard this, "but there are things that need to be done and we're going to do them. For instance, we can start picking up leaves." "That's right!" chimed in the eldest. She's my ally in this in part because she likes to play with leaves but also in part because I just bought a new wheelbarrow: it's got three wheels instead of one, plus a handbrake. The gel gets a huge kick out of pushing it around. I figure I'll take advantage of this enthusiasm while it lasts.
Anyhoo, that's how the ol' weekend looks to be shaping up. I expect what free time we have will be devoted to endless games of Sorry!, to which the gels have become addicted of late. Anybody who talks about the Innocence of Youth obviously has never played Sorry! with one. They're vicious and merciless.
***Spot the quote.
Why I hate government
I cannot begin to catalog the numbers of levels in which this is wrong:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Here's a sobering thought: Hundreds of bottles of Jack Daniel's whiskey, some of it almost 100 years old, may be unceremoniously poured down a drain because authorities suspect it was being sold by someone without a license.
Officials seized 2,400 bottles late last month during warehouse raids in Nashville and Lynchburg, the southern Tennessee town where the whiskey is distilled.
"Punish the person, not the whiskey," said an outraged Kyle MacDonald, 28, a Jack Daniel's drinker from British Columbia who promotes the whiskey on his blog. "Jack never did anything wrong, and the whiskey itself is innocent."
Investigators are also looking into whether some of the bottles had been stolen from the distillery. No one has been arrested.
Authorities are still determining how much of the liquor will be disposed of, and how much can be sold at auction.
Tennessee law requires officials to destroy whiskey that cannot be sold legally in the state, such as bottles designed for sale overseas and those with broken seals.
"We'd pour it out," said Danielle Elks, executive director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
The estimated value of the liquor is $1 million, possibly driven up by the value of the antique bottles, which range from 3-liter bottles to half-pints.
I can only say "FREE THE BLACK JACK 2400!"
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
No, I didn't bother with the debate last evening. Instead, I popped in the 1988 Steve Martin/Michael Caine flick Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which I hadn't seen before. The story is about two con men, one high (Caine) and the other low (Martin), who fall into competition over a rich American gal in a little town on the French Riviera.
My opinion? Mostly harmless. Nice scenery. Not much else to it. The downside? Martin's brand of slapstick. Hasn't aged a-tall well. The upside? The part of Caine's butler Arthur is played by none other than Emperor Palpatine. Looks exactly the same. At one point he says to Martin, "Welcome to hell." You can almost see his eyes glowing.
Robbo's Recommendation: I'll give it one and a half Yips! out of five. As I say, there's really not that much wrong with it aside from the fact that it's only midly amusing, but at the same time there's really not much that would make one want to see it more than once.
November 15, 2007
A Blog? What Is It?
Sorry about teh quiet today. My intertubes access keeps freezing up, especially every time I try to jump from one site to another. This makes surfing tedious and linky pretty close to impossible.
Also, I'm pretty busy opening up a new case. It's too bad that I can't talk about what I do, because it's a fascinating study in the never-ending parade of human fallibility. Mom says I ought to keep track and use my adventures as a basis for some light fiction a la Rumpole of the Bailey.
Hey - ya never know. I drink too much plonk and have my very own She Who Must Be Obeyed, so I'm most of the way there already....
UPDATE: Heh. Speaking of the mysteries of the law, a friend just sent me this bizarro little case snippet:
Clarence Curtis Jones, Jr., Jesup, GA, Petitioner Pro Se.
HURLEY, District Judge.
*1 Petitioner, referring to himself as “Clarence Curtis Jones, El © 1973, All Rights Reserved,” was convicted of bank robbery October 11, 1996, and sentenced by this Court to 322 months incarceration. Now, “having been raised from the dead to a perpendicular level on a square ” (underscore in original), Petitioner moves this Court for “entry of an Order pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 7(b), 60(b)(5), 77(b), and 78; and, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules 32k(1) [Discharge], 47 and 56, excuting [sic] summary judgment on the substance side of this matter” in his favor. (See Docket Entry 100.) Respondent United States of America did not submit any replies to Petitioner's submissions.
The basis for Petitioner's motion is unclear. His “Introductory Certification” states: Squarely, standing on the Five Principals [sic] of Light-Love, Truth, Peace, Freedom and Justice; the 1787 Moroccan Peace and Friendship Treaty and Amnesty, Article 21; The 7 Circle Koran of The Holy Covenant for the Asiatic Nation; The Free Moorish Zodiac Constitution, and The Great Magna Carta ... Affiant ... by Right demands, by consequence of Respondent's intentional razor sharp actions, this cause of action by special delivery for benefit of protection....
Can't imagine why Uncle didn't choose to reply.
"You Keep Saying That Word..."
"...I do not think it means what you think it means." **
The word being "landslide", or what Mark Penn (chief pollster for SWMNBN) is predicting his boss would win by were the election held today.
This of course is the same guy who predicts that she'll peel away one in four Republican women voters next November.
Looks like Penn has been smoking weed in preparation for the onslaught tonight. Hey Mark, pass it down here will ya?
** bonus points for spotting the quote
Dana Carvey Has Still Got It
As far as impressions go.
On Jay Leno, he examines the "folksy" candidate, Ol' Fred:
Then he lampoons Giuliani:
Pretty funny stuff. Personally, I'd most like to see Carvey do an impression of Hillary Clinton a la The Church Lady. What a perfect fit.
Hello, Darkness? Meet Candle.
Here's a bit of news that the Missus passed on to me in the wake of my ranting about Starbucks having put on its Christmas rig already. According to her, over at Nordstrom's (and I assume she means the one in Tyson's Corner), there is a large sign that reads, "We Believe In Celebrating One Holiday At A Time. Therefore, You Will Not See Any Christmas Decorations Here Until November 23. Happy Thanksgiving!"
I loathe department stores, especially department stores in malls. Nonetheless, I so like this stance that I'm almost tempted to send a bit of custom Nordstrom's way just to show my support.
Put Out That Light! UPDATE: Then again, there's this:
SYDNEY (AFP) - Santas in Australia's largest city have been told not to use Father Christmas's traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women, it was reported Thursday.
Sydney's Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha" instead, the Daily Telegraph reported.
One disgruntled Santa told the newspaper a recruitment firm warned him not to use "ho ho ho" because it could frighten children and was too close to "ho", a US slang term for prostitute.
"Gimme a break," said Julie Gale, who runs the campaign against sexualising children called Kids Free 2B Kids.
"We are talking about little kids who do not understand that "ho, ho, ho" has any other connotation and nor should they," she told the Telegraph.
"Leave Santa alone."
A local spokesman for the US-based Westaff recruitment firm said it was "misleading" to say the company had banned Santa's traditional greeting and it was being left up to the discretion of the individual Santa himself.
Frankly, I dunno whether I really believe this, given its utter jaw-dropping stoopidity. Then again, you'll never go broke betting on stoopid.
UPDATE DEUX: Stoopid? Did I say stoopid? I did:
An early skirmish in this year's "War on Christmas" ended on Tuesday when the nationwide home improvement chain Lowe's apologized for referring to Christmas trees in its holiday catalog as "family trees."
"That was a complete error," Maureen Rich, a spokeswoman for Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse - which serves more than 13 million customers a week in its 1,400 stores across the nation - told Cybercast News Service. "Right now, we're extremely disappointed in this breakdown in our own creative process.
"We are apologizing to customers today for any confusion our holiday catalog created," Rich said. She explained that the full-color document is called a holiday catalog "because it encompasses all the holidays from October through January."
Rich's comments came in response to an "Action Alert" sent out earlier in the day by the Mississippi-based American Family Association. The e-mail stated: "In an effort to avoid the use of the term 'Christmas tree,' Lowe's [is] now calling them 'family trees.'"
November 14, 2007
Will Robbo the LLamabutcher Laugh or Cry?
Today's episode of the game show sensation sweeping the Nation "Will Robbo the LLamabutcher Laugh, or Cry?": Ricky Williams returning to the NFL and the Fins.
Come on, sing along everybody...
Since we're on the subject of Senor Williams, this seemed apropros:
UPDATE: Here's today's NFL pile-on trivia question: who is Spergon Wynn?
Okay, we're well past tragedy already, so I've got to decide whether to file this under farce or deux ex machina:
Ricky Williams has been reinstated by the NFL.
I told you in an earlier version of this post the reinstatement comes with stipulations: The stipulation is that Williams cannot play until the Nov. 26 game against Pittsburgh. That means Williams is out until Week 12.
Williams can, however, begin attending meetings, practicing and working out at the team's facility immediately.
The surprising part is that this news has me neither ROTFLMAO or curled up in the corner feebly twitching. Instead, I'm trying to figure out whether I'm just numbed to the whole business or whether I'm even beginning to do a bit of the football equivalent of beer-goggling. I mean, know what would be cool? Ricky suits up, plays the return game against the Pats and kicks their @()#$*)(#$)(*##(*&% record drive up their backsides.
Hey, it could happen.
Yips! to regular reader Mike for tossing the link in the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack.
Donkorific "What, me panic?" watch
Hillary's poll numbers in the state that matters: forget Iowa and New Hampster in the preliminaries, how about a nice, warm, gooey serving of Ohio in the general election?
Gratuitous Swimming the Tiber Posting
As is usually the case on Wednesdays, I have RCIA class tonight. This makes me very happy.
To give you an idea of how things are coming along, we are nominally scheduled for an hour's discussion each week. Typically, however, we run much longer than this, as nobody really wants to leave, but instead to stay and discuss (or argue) not just the topic of the evening, but all kinds of tangental issues as well.
What impresses me about this course the most is an overwhelming sense of the Church's eagerness to make sure that I know not just what She believes, but why. ""Look," She says via our moderator, "Here's the Catechism. It's heavily annotated with both Biblical and Church Father references. Go read them and understand."
I mentioned all this to Mom the other day and it seemed to quite surprise her. The Catholicism she turned away from in her youth was evidently not nearly so, ah, encouraging of independant reflexion, but was much more of the rote shut-up-and-do-what-the-Father-says school of thought. Of course, this was working-class Cleveland of 60-odd years ago. It would seem that times have changed.
Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)
Interesting little tidbit: today is the anniversary of the births of both Leopold Mozart (father of Wolfgang) in 1719 and Johann van Beethoven (father of Ludwig) in 1740.
It also happens to be the anniversary of the birth of Aaron Copland in 1900.
Copland represents the closest brush with musickal greatness I'm ever likely to have. My parents were active in the Symphony Society back in the San Antonio of my yoot and it happened to be their turn to host the reception when Copland came to town to guest-conduct. (This would have been some time in the late 70's.) By then, he was a cranky old man. He autographed a music book for me, albeit grudgingly, which I have long since lost. (On the other hand, I still treasure my autographed photo of the great cellist Leonard Rose, my second closest brush with musickal greatness. A completely different character, too. I also happen to have a book of Mozart's works for four hands, one piano autographed by Rudolph Firkusny, who also indulgently sight-read through a bit of one of them with me. Now there was a really nice guy.)
Frankly, while I recognize Copland's contribution to American music, I don't really much care for his compositions. The folk-tune stuff gets old, fast. And "Fanfare for the Common Man", with its over the top brass and percussion and its conscious egalitarianism, leaves me cold.
November 13, 2007
Gratuitous Llama Commuter Confession
Our good pal Christine over at Laudem Gloriae dug up this YouTube of the Dave Brubeck Quartet doing "Take Five", an extremely rare example of a five beats to the bar composition:
Now that the days are drawing in and the air is getting cooler, I often walk to the metro from my office in the dark wearing the ol' trenchcoat. Almost invariably, this tune starts running through my head. Dunno why.
Speaking of such things, some time recently our pal Sleepy Beth remarked - in a post about "slugging" a lift into Dee Cee from another commuter - about guys who listen to Smooooooth Jazz. She didn't say anything outright derogatory, you understand, but there was just enough faint praise in the post to prompt me to confess: I usually reach my metro stop and pick up my car shortly after 7:00 PM. The local classical station to which I listen the rest of the day, perhaps unwilling to totally give up its prior gabfest format, takes this one hour out of the twenty-four to broadcast the bloviations of Jim Lehrer & Co. Bag that, says I. So yes, I typically listen to smoooooth jazz on the drive to Orgle Manor from the metro. Not only that, I often amuse myself by reciting my own Weather Channel Local on the 8's forecasts over the music. (I won't explain. Those of you who get it know exactly what I'm talking about.)
And my favorite smooooooth jazz playlist entry? Here ya go:
I know what you suspect, but no, I'm not. Really.
HRCR Rides The Stump
We Llamas occasionally get some pretty hot n' juicy letters in the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack. Today we opened up one that read thusly:
Dear Parfait, Gentile Llama Kniggits:
Hillary Clinton has had a few rough weeks. "Let's make them rougher" is my motto.
As someone who was forced to inhale feminsim throughout her school girl days like stray dogs were once forced to inhale cigarettes by the tobacco companies of old, it has been more than obvious that Hillary Clinton is neither a strong woman or a feminist. Otherwise, she would have dumped Bill Clinton when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.
Instead, Hillary stood by Bill's side. In return, during his next State of the Union speech a few weeks later, he teared up, looked up at the gallery to where
she sat, bit his lip and said "I honor you." Even that whopper beamed out across the world during prime time television did not awaken the sleeping feminist within. Hillary went on to stage manage her husband's scandal and ended up getting him impeached by the House for lying under oath, found guilty in civil case for sexual harassment and barred from ever practing law again in his home state of Arkansas.
So add "not smart" either to Hillary's other numerous inestimable qualiites. So, for me and other women like me (the ones who came of age in the early '80's and went to posh Northeast feminist-driven schools like she did) the question about Hillary Clinton has been, what really drives her?
The other night in Iowa, we found out what it is. Hillary Clinton gets a sexual thrill from power.
Just listen and watch her eyes (if you can).
Hugs and Kisses,
Ima Pseudonym (Mrs.)
Our correspondent then provides a link to one of She Who Must Not Be Named's gullywashers:
You make the call. The thing that strikes me is this: As passionate as ol' Bubba could be on the stump, you always knew deep down that his main political goal was simply the gratification of Bubba: Nobel Peace Prize for solving the Middle East Crisis, pretty good. Bottle of single malt, box of Cubans and pair of eager bimbos? Well, that'll work, too. SWMNBN, well, she's a different specimen altogether. Much more Robespierrean. Perhaps politics is what it takes to, er, light her fire. But if history is any indication, such an aphrodisiac should induce all right-thinking persons to want to climb trees and pull them up after them.
A case of premature ejerkulation
Not sure if they've reserved www.spitzerPLEASEDONTRECALLME2008.com yet...
Maybe he could move to Vegas with Gray Davis and McGreevey and they could become private eyes...
I guess the North Carolina Bar Exam doesn't have a section on constitutional law
Because clearly John Edwards has never heard of the separation of powers:
So a good question for Wolf Blitzer would be this: if the Supreme Court would strike down President Edwards' health care plan, would he as President take away their health care coverage too?
H/T to AP.
Gratuitous Llama Musickal Review
Over the weekend I listened to my brand new recording of a Te Deum composed by Michel Richard Delalande around 1685. Delalande was director of the Chapel Royale at Versailles and composed the piece for Louis XIV.
Frankly, I found the work to be a bit on the thin side. It was certainly grand enough, as befitting its royal intent. And I appreciate its overall structure. But nonetheless I never got the sense of any real meat beyond the surface. I don't pretend to know that much about French composers under the Sun King, and I'd much rayther listen to third rate Baroque musick than anything but the best of just about any other period, but I confess frankly that my attention wandered away from the musick after a relatively short time.
The recording is by Les Arts Florissants Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of William Christie, a top-notch Baroque group, perhaps the best in France. Nonetheless, as I listened to the piece, I was increasingly annoyed by the French handling of Latin pronunciations. For example, the simple word "tu" (you), pronounced just as it's written by the sensible Romans, comes out sounding like "thiew". I suppose it is some testiment to the impression the music left on me that half my summary should focus on such an arcane matter, but there it is.
EJ Dionne has just figured out a central plank of the Republican campaign strategy for oh-eight: running against the do-nothing, corruptocrat, kleptocratic, foreign policy naifs running the Congress. EVERYBODY PANIC!
UPDATE: What, me panic?
But what the year has mostly highlighted is that Democrats and anti-war activists were in the grip of two illusions after their triumph in the 2006 elections.
The first illusion is that taking power on Capitol Hill was by its very nature — no matter the precise legislation that emerged — something that would alter the basic dynamics of Iraq policy.
Instead, it’s now clear that even a weakened, and in many ways discredited, president remains the dominant policymaker on Iraq.
For 50 years, legislators of both parties have ceded war-making power to the executive branch, and there is no reversing that in a matter of months — least of all when the opposition party is itself divided over what to do.
What’s more, it turns out that Washington matters less than many Democrats and even many journalists supposed in determining political momentum in the Iraq debate.
Events on the ground — including regular, if still fragmentary, evidence that security is improving somewhat in the wake of the military’s “surge” policy — matter more.
The second illusion is that Democrats could stall substantively and still prosper politically.
A few months ago, many lawmakers were saying something like this: “It’s true we can’t force Bush’s hand on Iraq because we do not have veto-proof majorities. But the longer he sticks with an unpopular war, the better it will be for Democrats, and eventually the moderates and war skeptics in the GOP will stage a full revolt.”
This might yet come true by the next election, in 2008. For now, it looks like substantive weakness — the failure to drive policy changes on Iraq — has reinforced political weakness.
“Republicans (including the president) have made real progress in swaying opinion to their side, while 10 months of Democratic efforts have failed to persuade citizens that the war continues to be a disaster,” according to Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political scientist who analyzed public opinion on the nonpartisan Pollster.com.
“The war of partisan persuasion has tilted towards the Republicans and away from the Democrats, at least in this particular aspect.”
Who realized the Chimperor had such depths of Shaq-Fu in him?
This nugget is buried in the end:
“You have also had the near absence of the war coverage in the last months, and since the coverage is generally negative, the less coverage, the less negative communications that reaches people’s living rooms.”
Imagine then if they, like, just reported the nooz, instead of an editorial agenda?
Any of these sound familiar?
Irritating Assistant Professors- (1) Professor What-Am-I-Doing-Here, (2) Professor Rebel-Without-A-Clue, (3) Professor Promising-Young-Man, (4) (from Mark Silcox) Professor Only-Teaches-His-G**d***-Dissertation,
Irritating Full Professors- (4) (spelling courtesy Mikhail Emilianov) Professor Couldabeena-contenda, (5) Professor Was-Cool, (5) Professor Midlife-Crises, (6) Professor Old-Yellow-Notes, (7) (from Mikhail Emilianov) Professor I-Have-Five-Stories-So-Get-Used-To-Hearing-Them-All-The-Time, (8) (from Mark Silcox) Professor Wishes-He-Was-Rich, (9) Professor Uses-Tenure-To-Pursue-Hobbies-Or-Job-On-The-Side-Full-Time
Could be Either- (10) Professor Watches-Sports, (11) Professor Will-F***-Anything-Young-and-Naive-Enough-To-Admire-Him, (12) Professor Drunk-Pants, (13) Professor Stared-Into-The-Void-And-The-Void-Stared-Back-At-Him-!-!-!
What about Professor Seriously Tardy With Grading Papers Because He's Blogging on Useless Crap All The Time?
The Robbo Service
Last evening at dinner the Llama-ettes were regailing me with a Thanksgiving song written by their musick teacher at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. I believe the name of the song is "In 1621", and it goes on at length about the Plymouth Colony. (I don't recall any of the lyrics, but the general trend is mildy p.c.) "See, Dad," they explained, "that was where the first Thanksgiving was held....in 1621!"
Being the kind of guy I am, I couldn't resist saying, "You know, girls, the very first Thanksgiving was held in 1618, not in 1621. Furthermore, it took place in Virginia at a place called Berkeley's Hundred, not in Massachusetts."
"Really?" they said, "The why do we celebrate the Pilgrims?"
"Well," I replied, "the federal holiday of Thanksgiving was established by President Lincoln. And after the Civil War, it was perhaps only natural that Yankee culture would dominate this celebration. Besides, the original Berkeley colony isn't well remembered because it was wiped out by the Indians a few years later."
The gels pondered this for a bit and finally decided that the Plymouth Thanksgiving ought to be celebrated as the first thanksgiving held by a colony that escaped being massacred.
I have every reason to believe that the next time they have musick class, the Llama-ettes are going to immediately pipe up with, "Ms. So-and-So, Our Dad says......."
November 12, 2007
Monday Night WTFball
Tonight's episode of Monday Night WTFball (MNWTF) goes, fittingly, eclectic:
When Robbo said he was getting into model ship building, I just assumed he didn't mean this:
FEAR the Mojo
That's some powerful Mojo. Evil, some would say:
“My knees got weak. I was like, ‘Can I [bleep] you?’ No, I didn’t say it, but I felt it - I was like, ‘Whoa! Whoa!’
WARNING: Absolutely nothing visually that is unsafe for work, but I have a strong feeling that it's enough to make you want to puke.
Dear Dick: Thanks. Thanks alot, motherf&*Ker.
Allahpundit has finally gotten his iPhone
The Colossal Hubris and Stupidity of the Baby Boomers
Why does NEWSWEEK commemorate 1968 instead of 1918 or 1941? The answer: because all of us, young and old, are stuck in the '60s, hostages to a decade we define ourselves as for or against.
In a word: NO, at least if you are talking about the 1960s. I'd make an argument for the 1860s, and the long term effect of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the failure of Reconstruction, except Reconstruction's decline was a failure of political will in the 1870s. But if there's a sixties that is neglected, it's the 1760s, and the failure of the Hanoverian regime to manage the collapse of France in the Seven Years War that led to the rise of American independence. Manage that well, and we're still shooting off fireworks and BBQ on November the fifth instead of July the fourth. Somehow, in light of that, the historical awesomeness of the Baby Boomers and their precious 1960s will seem a whole lot less significant in two or three centuries.
As the pages that follow demonstrate, the '60s were not necessarily, as some baby boomers would have it, America's defining moment.
That's right, the 1760s and 1860s were a tad bit more significant.
But they were an era when a generation held sustained argument over the things that have always mattered most: How should America show its power in the world? What rights were owed to African-Americans, to women, to gays? What is America and what does it want to be?
I absolutely LOVE that always, because it summarizes in a nutshell the colossal hubris and arrogance of the Baby Boomers. I think you could do a much better job of finding the questions that have always mattered most in some other sources and places---they are the types of questions that got Jesus and Socrates killed, and Galileo and Newton tied into knots over faith, science, reason, passion, and the meaning of life. In the American context, yes, these are important types of questions, but to say that the Baby Boomers were the first to debate them systematically at a "generational" level is comical in its lack of familiarity with American history and the role of social movements itself. It's an insult to the Jeffersonians and Jacksonians, the progressives, the movements social, religious, and political spawned by the Second Great Awakening, the post-Civil War labor and workers movements, the campaigns over the status of Indians, women's suffrage.....the list just goes on and on.
How well does Country Joe and the Fish's "I feel like I'm Fixin to Die" stand up over time to Julia Ward Howe's "Battle Hymn of the Republic," for example? Which generation in its choices of music shows that they took the issues of "What is America and what does it want to be?" more seriously: a generation that stood and fought a horrific and bloody war to end slavery, versus a generation that took a lot of drugs, had a lot of sex, listened to a lot of rock music while doing the above, and cut classes to march against "The Man"?
Yips! from Robbo: Sing it, Brutha! Remember the Walking Purchase! Never trust a man with a greater than four foot stride!
November 11, 2007
Words cannot ever
adequately convey the gratitude of servicemen and women for the many expressions of support, large and small, of countless Americans. It makes our jobs a little easier and means more to us than you will ever know. Although composed for the homecoming of Vietnam POWs, Rear Admiral Jeremiah A. Denton's words express it better than any other:
"We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our commander-in-chief and to the Nation for this day. God bless America."
To the Vets:
Thanks for everything.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow Between the crosses row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Yips! from Robbo: Amen, Brutha. I tried a couple times today to come up with a suitable observance post, but it all rang hollow.
I've never served myself. Dad was Army Medical Corps for a while, but he did his Vietnam-era stint in Texas. I've a great-uncle (I never met) who was the back-seater in a carrier-based Vigilante during the Korean War and was actually shot down. And, as I've mentioned before, my great-great grandfather was a Union artilllery officer during the Civil War. But if you read through some of the WWI poetry of people like Sassoon and Graves for example, you quickly realize that pride in such antecedents is shallow and, in the end, almost fraudulent. Indeed, is it even possible for us fat and happy civilians to truly appreciate what our vets have given for us? Can we repost stirring or tragic prose and poetry attendant to the day and honestly convince ourselves that we've done any more than scratch the surface? I somehow doubt it. So I ask the LMC and all others who serve or who have served to accept my gratitude fully aware of its feebleness. I know my thanks isn't good enough, but I offer it to you anyway.
November 09, 2007
Joe-Mentum V. The Nutroots
Lieberman takes his party to the woodshed.
"There is something profoundly wrong-something that should trouble all of us — when we have elected Democratic officials who seem more worried about how the Bush administration might respond to Iran's murder of our troops, than about the fact that Iran is murdering our troops." He added, "There is likewise something profoundly wrong when we see candidates who are willing to pander to this politically paranoid, hyper-partisan sentiment in the Democratic base — even if it sends a message of weakness and division to the Iranian regime."
"Can you hear this, moonbats? Do you want me to turn it up."
Anti-Bush Liberal Elitist Film Looks Doomed At The Box Office
Even critics who'll overlook the sheer awfulness of a film if they sympathize with it's message won't give it cover.
Tom Cruise is worried. Be afraid, Tom. Be very afraid.
Libertas' Dirty Harry is getting sick of looking at the promo shot above. I'm with him:
Those condescening we’ll-tell-you-what-to-think faces; those all-knowing imperial stares no sane movie star would ever consider showing in public; those eyes capable only of revealing a shroud of sanctimony as cover to hide the nothing shallowness and pathetic ego beneath; the smug looks of those desperate for applause at award ceremonies no one watches anymore because, thanks to their faces, we all know what they think of us.Note to Hollywood: Entertain us and we will come. We're tired of pedantic screeds that aren't even well-made.
Idiot of the Week is......Jim Cramer!
Is he smoking ritalin before going on the air, or simply trying out for the role of "Clyde," the amiable orangutan in a remake of Every Which Way But Loose?
You be the judge.
Cramer would be perfect.
Operation "Cut 'N Run" Version 4.0
San Fran Nan is once again going for the moonbat appeasement. The Politico reports that latest Iraq appropriations bill once again tied to a pull-out:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she would bring a new Iraq measure to the House floor shortly to provide $50 billion in funds for the war, while requiring U.S. troops to begin redeploying out of Iraq immediately and conclude by the end of next year.In the last election, voters may have been calling for a new direction but it wasn't cut 'n run it was "let's win already". The Administration (and the RNC) needs to take this opportunity to highlight the recent successes of the summer surge to show how this move looks even dumber than it did a year ago.
“In last year's election, the American people called for a new direction; nowhere was that direction more called for than in the war in Iraq,” Pelosi told reporters. “And so in the next day or so, we [will] once again bring to the floor legislation that makes a distinction, a clear distinction: choose a new direction from the Bush foreign policy in Iraq.”
The Dems in Congress rolled the dice last spring that this would be the "summer of Iraq" and that bad things would happen to the mission if they sprinkled pixie dust and really, really believed.
Well, as a venerable Jedi Knight once said, "When you gamble, my friend, sometimes you lose."
Today's Installment of the Game Show Sensation Sweeping the Nation: Will Robbo the LLamabutcher Laugh or Cry?
I'm predicting "cry."
Answer-Revealing Yips! from Robbo: Actually, put this one in the "laugh" column. I had a very, very mild thing about Winona back in the Beetlejuice/Heathers days, but you could smell a wiff of flaming train-wreck even back then so I never invested. Now, had it been Helena Bonham-Carter, that would have been a different story. I had a major crush on her as Lucy Honeychurch. It was pretty much nullified by the time we got to Marla Singer, but I twitced in agony over her performance as Ari. Doing Spock's Mom probably would have started the twitching all over again.
Some Morning Peggy to Cleanse the Pallate
Peggy Noonan: Mrs. Clinton, I knew Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher is a friend of mine. You, Ma'am, are no Margaret Thatcher.
Yips! from Robbo: I know I've told this story before but I'm gonna do it again anyway. After I graduated from college in '87, I managed to wangle a year's stint as a research assistant in Parliament. (Technically it was for a Labour member, but he was a sort of proto-typical Tony Blair New Labour guy and anyway it was a year in London so who really cares, right?) Anyhoo, a couple times I managed to grab passes to go see Prime Minister's Question Time when the Iron Lady was at the peak of her powers. Abso-freakin-lutely phenomenal.
The Bernanke/Paulson Bet on the Dollar
The strategy which seems to be to let the dollar slide to bring the trade deficit under control seems to be working:
he U.S. trade deficit fell to the lowest level in 28 months as a falling dollar spurred U.S. exports to an all-time high. The deficit with China jumped to the second highest level on record as imports of toys and other goods surged despite a rash of safety recalls. ADVERTISEMENT The Commerce Department said Friday that the deficit for September dipped by 0.6 percent from the previous month -- to $56.5 billion. That was the narrowest trade imbalance since May 2005 and took economists by surprise. They had been forecasting the deficit would rise.
The improvement came from a 1.1 percent jump in U.S. exports, which climbed to a record $140.1 billion. The dollars' decline against many major currencies has made U.S. goods cheaper and more competitive in foreign markets. For September, sales of American-made cars, computers and farm products including corn, cotton, wheat and soybeans were all up.
Imports also rose in September, climbing by 0.6 percent to $196.6 billion, the second highest level on record. Imports of foreign-made cars, televisions and clothing were all up. Oil imports, however, fell by 0.8 percent to $10.5 billion, an improvement that is likely to be temporary given the recent surge in oil prices to close to $100 per barrel.
The deficit with China rose 5.5 percent to $23.8 billion, second only to a $24.4 billion deficit in October 2006. Imports surged to the second highest level on record, pushed up by big gains in imports of Chinese-made televisions, cell phones, computers and toys as retailers stocked their shelves for Christmas.
Those gains were occurring despite a string of high-profile recalls of Chinese products this year -- everything from toys with lead paint to defective tires and chemical-tainted toothpaste and pet food ingredients.
Through September, the trade deficit is running at an annual rate of $703.4 billion, down by 7.4 percent from last year's $758.5 billion. Analysts believe that surging exports from a weaker dollar will lead to a narrowing of the deficit for the full year, breaking a string of five consecutive records.
Critics of President Bush's trade policies say that even with the narrowing of the deficit this year, the imbalances are still running at unsustainable levels, forcing the United States to depend more and more on foreigners' willingness to hold dollars to finance the imbalances.
While a falling dollar is good for exports, it raises worries that at some point foreigners will be less willing to purchase dollar-denominated investments such as U.S. stocks and bonds. Such a change in sentiment could send stock prices plunging and push up U.S. interest rates.
The administration scored its first congressional victory on trade this week when the House passed a free trade agreement with Peru. However, approval of three other deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea are expected to face tougher challenges in Congress.
For September, America's foreign oil bill dropped by 0.8 percent to $10.5 billion reflecting a drop in volume. The average price for a barrel of imported crude rose to a record $68.51 in September and is expected to climb even higher with the recent spike in spot oil prices, which traded this week near $100 per barrel.
The imbalance with the European Union dropped a sharp 37.1 percent to $6.4 billion. The dollar has fallen to record lows against the 13-nation euro currency, which means that U.S. products are cheaper in those markets while European goods are more expensive for American consumers.
The deficit with Canada, America's largest trading partner, dropped by 3.2 percent to $4.9 billion while the imbalance with Mexico fell 9.3 percent to $6.3 billion.
As the current accounts deficit shrinks, gross national product rises. The danger in this play though is losing the soft power that came to the US through the dollar being the reserve currency of choice in the world. However, if the Euro begins to split that role with the dollar, this is not necessarily bad for us, as it will increase the EU's leverage worldwide, but at the same time foist more responsibility on them, as well as reduce their anxiety about US hegemony and hyper-power.
But what we really need to do to reduce the trade deficit is get serious about oil importation, which means ANWR.
November 08, 2007
"L" Is For Llosers
Well, the polls closed a while ago over at the 2007 Weblog Awards and barring some miraculous electronic-chad scandal, it looks like we Llamas got left rayther badly behind, pulling 6th place in our category with a paltry 5.9% of the votes.
We'll be over at the bar drowning our sorrows along with the other also-rans:
(Yips! to the Colossus, I think. I stole this pic so long ago I can't remember where it came from.)
In the meantime, thanks to those of you who did vote for us this year. Yip! Yip! Yip!
Wait, I think she's made my LLama the chick
Sadie's gonna pay for this travesty.
Yips! from Robbo: After all those times you pshopped me into drag Steve-o, all I can say is BWAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!!
And a big shoutout goes to Sadie for putting me right next to Seven. Yip! Yip! Yip!
361 Days to the Election: What do you have to do exactly to be half as popular as the most unpopular president in history?
A whole lot of nothing, apparently.
Wishful thinking or whistling past the graveyard in the Washington Post? You be the judge:
One year out from the election, congressional Democrats are increasingly confident they can tighten their hold on the House and Senate.
Although public approval of Congress has dipped dramatically since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took control early this year,
Let me interupt right there for a moment and go to the recent poll numbers from NBC/WSJ:
Bush: approve 29%, disapprove 66%,
Pelosi/Reid led Congress, approve 15%, disapprove 78%
Are there other polls showing Congress (and Bush) a little higher? Yes, but those numbers speak for themselves.
But it is interesting to note how the Washington Post's style book has defined "dramatically," as in "New York Times revenues and circulation dramatically sets new records," and "Iraq situation dramatically turns worse for Democrats."
Back to the tape:
Democratic operatives believe they still can expand their majorities in 2008 by running hard against President Bush and his war policies. Republicans are also hampered by mounting retirements of veteran member and a huge disparity in fundraising by the two parties.
"I'd much rather be in our shoes than their shoes," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "George Bush and his legacy will be on the ballot."
The item that's true is that retirements are going to make it difficult for the Republicans to take back Congress. But what Mr. Van Hollen hasn't perhaps realized is that George Bush will not be on the ballot: years of fantasizing about ReputhugliKKKhan fascist plots to the contrary, it's leftist darlings Hugo Chavez and Vladimir Putin who are staying past their constitutionally defined terms, not George Bush. Bush's legacy will certainly be in the air, but it won't be on the ballot: the Democratic Congress will have to run on its own record of accomplishments, which includes:
raising the minimum wage
wait, I'm thinking...
Ah yes, having the courage to force the president to change strategies and commanders to bring about the successful shift in Iraq strategy. Remember, they don't call it Schumer's Surge for nothing...
Increasingly you're going to find Republicans putting those 1/20/09 bumperstickers on the insides of their trunk lids---Bush heading back to the Ranch (and the Bush family leaving national politics for a generation at least) is the best thing that will happen to the Republican Party in DC and in the country.
UPDATE: The crisis spreads to Germany, where Der Speigel notes---with horror!---that Bush's political fortunes are rising:
In fact, he is doing the opposite by recovering. Instead of destroying the president, the ongoing public hostility has only made him stronger. Bush, the man who has become firmly ensconced as a wartime president, has scored three successes recently. One can either welcome them or feel threatened by them, but to ignore them would be a mistake. First, there has been noticeable improvement on the Iraqi war front. Unless the Pentagon statistics Bush recited on Friday in a speech to soldiers at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, are made up, the new Iraq strategy appears to be working. The number of weekly bombing attacks on US troops has dropped by half, and the number of US military deaths is the lowest in a year and a half. At the same time, US forces are arresting or killing more than 1,500 terrorist "thugs," as Bush called them, each month. If the military successes continue, public opinion toward Bush and his Republicans could soon improve. Americans are not against war itself, they just don't like losing.
Second, Bush dominates his party's search for a suitable presidential candidate, and he does so without voicing a preference for any of the candidates. Instead, he exerts control by dictating the job description. According to Bush, the right man for the job would not be an economic expert or a seasoned diplomat, but a sheriff, a man with nerves of steel, a man who can lead. Of course, for Bush being a strong leader means, first and foremost, leading the nation into war.
All of the Republican candidates are going to great lengths to display at least a minimum of toughness and boldness, along with a healthy dose of lunacy. Vietnam veteran John McCain dubbed his campaign tour the "No Surrender Tour." In an article in Foreign Affairs, former New York Mayor and current Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani offers an outline of his foreign policy that practically reeks of blood.
America must revamp its military, Giuliani writes, adding that it "will not be cheap, but it is necessary." For him, Afghanistan and Iraq "are only two battlegrounds in a wider war." The next president, Giuliani writes, must "mobilize the 9/11 generation for the momentous tasks ahead."
Giuliani is currently polling just behind Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, which brings us to the president's third, most spectacular success, most clearly visible on the other side of the political spectrum. The issues important to the Democrats -- poverty, healthcare reform and the looming climate catastrophe -- pale in comparison to the Iraq war.
A new intertube malady defined
The Colossus sends word via the Tasty Bits Mail Sack that we are apparently suffering from the new virulent strain of BDS---Bellichick Derangement Syndrome.
My only response is: guilty and lovin' it.
Yips! from Robbo: I saw yesterday that Don Shula was calling for an asterisk in the record books should the Pats win it all. Now Coach is a class guy and there's not much that he could do to which I would object, but even I thought this was over the top. Apparently, Don has now thought better of it himself.
YIPS from Steve-O: We now have exclusive pics from the Shula Noozconference:
Apparently, Shula and the 72 Fins have hired noted legal counsel Matlock to represent them in their future battles with Bill Bellichick and the Pats.
Gratuitous Royal Navy Geekery Posting
Today is the anniversary of the birth in 1723 of Vice Admiral the Hon. John Byron. I swipe the Wiki article lock, stock and barrel:
He was known as Foul-weather Jack because of his frequent bad luck with the weather.
Byron was the second son of the 4th Baron Byron. He joined the navy at a young age, accompanying Baron Anson on his circumnavigation as a midshipman. Byron's ship, HMS Wager, was shipwrecked on the coast of Patagonia, and the survivors decided to split in two teams, one to make its way by boat to Rio de Janeiro, the other, John Byron's, to sail North and meet Spaniards. He wrote of his adventures in The Narrative of the Honourable John Byron, which sold well enough to appear in several editions. These experiences form the basis of the novel The Unknown Shore by Patrick O'Brian, which closely follows Byron's own account.
In 1760 he was in command of a squadron sent to destroy the fortifications at Louisbourg. In July of that year he defeated the French flotilla sent to relieve New France at the Battle of Restigouche.
Between June 1764 and May 1766 Byron completed his own circumnavigation as captain of HMS Dolphin. In 1765 he took possession of the Falkland Islands on the part of Britain on the ground of prior discovery, and his doing so was nearly the cause of a war between Great Britain and Spain, both countries having armed fleets to contest the sovereignty of the barren islands. On this voyage, Byron discovered islands of the Tuamotus, Tokelau and the Gilbert Islands, and visited Tinian in the Northern Marianas Islands.
In 1769 he was appointed governor of Newfoundland. He was made Commander-in-chief of the British fleet in the West Indies in 1778 and 1779 during the American War of Independence. He unsuccessfully attacked a French fleet under the Comte d'Estaing at the Battle of Grenada in July 1779.
He was the father of John "Mad Jack" Byron, who in turn fathered the poet Lord Byron. He was also the grandfather of George Anson Byron, another admiral and explorer.
I have both The Unknown Shore and O'Brian's other novel about Admiral Ansen's 1740 expedition to capture the Manila Galleon, The Golden Ocean (actually O'Brian's first sea novel). It's been a long while since I read either of them. My recollection is that they were pretty good, if not quite up to the standard of the Aubrey/Maturin books. Also, one sees a few parallels: The Golden Ocean features a gigantic, immensely strong Irishman who resembles a kind of intelligent Padeen. The Unknown Shore features as sidekick to the main character a hapless surgeon's mate who could be a proto-Maturin. I must look into Byron's own account of his shipwreck mentioned above and see if it is still available. Mmmmmm.....Primary sources......Mmmmmm......
Oh, and yes indeed, Admiral Byron was the grandfather of the poet Lord Byron. There are a couple of passages in the Aubrey/Maturin books where O'Brian pokes fun at the misunderstanding between Jack, other sailors and Stephen over who is being spoken of, the admiral or the poet. And at one point, Stephen gives a summary of Lord Byron's poetry:
"He is a poet, sir," said Stephen, "one that writes excellent doggerel with flashes of brilliant poetry in it; but whether the poetry would flash quite so bright were it not for the contrast, I cannot tell: I have not read much of him."
I assume this is O'Brian's own opinion, conventiently placed in the mouth of Maturin. From my own encounters with Byron years ago, I would probably agree. However, I was never a fan and consequently did not go very deep into the matter. The man was a first class swine who characterized everything I loathe about the excesses of Romanticism and I never got beyond that.
The Dangers of Pythonification
I note that today is the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Christiaan Barnard, the famouse South Effricken heart surgeon.
Alas, the mind of Robbo has been so warped by years and years and years of Monty Python that I simply cannot hear or read Dr. Barnard's name without thinking of this:
Tonight's the night I shall be talking about of flu the subject of word association football. This is a technique out a living much used in the practice makes perfect of psychoanalysister and brother and one that has occupied piper the majority rule of my attention squad by the right number one two three four the last five years to the memory. It is quite remarkable baker charlie how much the miller's son this so-called while you were out word association immigrants' problems influences the manner from heaven in which we sleekit cowering timrous beasties all-American Speke, the famous explorer. And the really well that is surprising partner in crime is that a lot and his wife of the lions' feeding time we may be c d e effectively quite unaware of the fact or fiction section of the Watford Public Library that we are even doing it is a far, far better thing that I do now then, now then, what's going onward christian Barnard the famous hearty part of the lettuce now praise famous mental homes for loonies like me. So on the button, my contention causing all the headaches, is that unless we take into account of Monte Cristo in our thinking George the Fifth this phenomenon the other hand we shall not be able satisFact or Fiction section of the Watford Public Library againily to understand to attention when I'm talking to you and stop laughing, about human nature, man's psychological make-up some story the wife'll believe and hence the very meaning of life itselfish bastard, I'll kick him in the balls upon the road.
And yes, it's John Cleese's voice that I hear in my head whenever I think of this. Sigh. "It is a far, far better thing that I do now then, now then, what's going onward Christian Barnard the famous hearty part of the lettuce now praise famous mental homes for loonies like me," pretty much sums it up.
Cranky Commuter Observation
My local Starbucks is tricked out in its full Christmas rig this morning.
A colleague says we ought to be thankful that they at least waited until after Halloween.
Perhaps, but I'm sick of it already.
November 07, 2007
362 Days to the Election
Thank you John Edwards, I think we'll just lift this one for the general election:
As Warren Zevon was wont to say, "UHHHH/Draw Blood!"
Yips! from Robbo: Not that I posted this clip recently or anything. (I've long known Steve-O doesn't read my material, but I've come to accept it. Sniff.) Nonetheless, Steve-O's alighting on it again reminded me of what I think should be the real meme for this election cycle:
Yips! to Maverick Label, from whom I lifted this custom image. Go there and buy stuff.
Turning the tide on the Dollar?
Is the Bernanke/Paulson strategy on the dollar starting to pay off? Sarkozy seems to think so:
Sarkozy's complaints that the U.S. currency's drop against the euro is undermining European competitiveness struck a discordant note in a summit intended to demonstrate an improving U.S.-French relationship. His comments came as the euro surged to a record high against the dollar. The currency touched $1.4731 today, a 65 percent gain since the end of 2001.
Concern that the euro is too strong has been a Sarkozy theme since his presidential campaign earlier this year. Since his May 6 election, he has urged European Central Bank officials to lower interest rates to weaken the currency.
``If anything, this is a signal to the ECB that the euro has accelerated and they need to bear that in mind and not rush to raise rates,'' said Laurence Boone, chief French economist at Barclays Capital in Paris. ``When the dollar is depreciating, French firms are more affected than those in Germany.''
Germany hasn't joined Sarkozy in his effort to weaken the currency. German Chancellor Angela Merkel isn't concerned by the euro's appreciation, a Finance Ministry spokesman said. Asked at a Berlin news conference today whether the government ``is concerned'' about the single currency's rise to a record, Finance Ministry spokesman Torsten Albig said: ``No.''
Sarkozy said yesterday that Toulouse, France-based Airbus SAS, the world's biggest planemaker, loses about 1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) for every 10-cent increase against the dollar.
``Those who admire the nation that has built the world's greatest economy and has never ceased trying to persuade the world of the advantages of free trade expect her to be the first to promote fair exchange rates,'' Sarkozy said. He repeated his concern that the Chinese yuan is unfairly undervalued.
The dollar will rise against the Euro if either we raise interest rates or the ECB lowers theirs. Looks like they just blinked.
A La Recherche Du Aesthetic Horror Perdu
Johnny Virgil over at 15 Minute Lunch recently discovered a bit of blogging gold ("It's gold, Jerry, gold!")*** in the form of a 1977 J.C. Penney catalog.
I won't give away his post about it. Suffice to say, stop what you're doing, put that hot beverage far away from your screen and keyboard, and click on over. Trust me, just do it. Especially if, like me, you're old enough to remember those days. (I was eleven that year.)
Yips! to CalTechGirl for spreading teh funny.
***Spot the quote. Should be easy.
Thanks to the Fabulous Chai-Rista, as well as for tolerating my lowering the productivity level in her building by 53% today.
Gratuitous Crossing The Tiber Posting
Outstanding! No hot beverages, please!
Yips! to commenter Quasimodo for the linky.
Gratuitous Llama Defensive Gardening Bleg
Last weekend we attended a charity auction hosted by the Junior League-like woman's group of which the Missus is the current president. (She's a Junior Leaguer as well, but apparently can't get enough of teh philathropy. Those of you who know her know exactly what I'm talking about.) In an effort to
artificially inflate prices get into the spirit of things, the Missus bid on several items herself, explaining confidently in the face of my feeble protests that of course somebody else would come in and outbid her.
Well, for the most part she was right. However, we did get caught holding one basket, namely a "gardener's package" consisting of bulbs, a gift certificate to our local mom & pop hardware store, some minor gardening accessories and doo-dads, some citranella votive candles (for praying to Gaia, I suppose) and a selection of gardening books specific to the mid-Atlantic region.
As you can imagine, I didn't really complain very much about this miscalculation. (Had it been a spa package, for example, or some hideous piece of modern art, I'd have been considerably more crabby.) And we've put it to good use: the bulbs went into the ground last Sunday, the gift certificate has already been spent and the accessories and doo-dads have been packaged as Christmas presents.
Last evening, I was leafing idly through one of the gardening books and came across a chapter on how to deal with local pests. The section on deer contained a list of suggested alternative plants that would stand a better chance of not being razed to the ground by these dratted animals. Among the suggestions, much to my surprise, was the planting of ferns instead of hostas (which deer will hoover in a flash).
I mention this here in the hope that one of our Llama readers might be able to confirm or deny the notion that deer do not favor ferns. (Yes, yes, I know that they'll eat anything if pressed.) I would be perfectly happy planting ferns in some of the shadier areas around Orgle Manor if I thought they had a chance of survival, but don't feel inclined to incur the expense or waste the effort if Bambi and his blasted brethren are just going to swoop in and help themselves as soon as I turn my back.
No time for panic on the Right
Good cheer from the fine folks at NRO. Hillary! is rarely hit with tough questions and when she is, she stumbles just like she did during last week's debate. Blaming the moderator and then playing the victim has not gotten her anywhere. Likewise, there are plenty of Democrats who won in the last cycle in red states by razor-thin margins.
Llama Lunchtime Observation
If you happen to be in the area of Judiciary Square in Dee Cee, I can state unequivocably that the caesar salad at Cosi's is much superior to the one at Au Bon Pan, the former being freshly toss'd, larger and accompanied by a better dressing.
Aaaaaand, the staff at Cosi are actually friendly and helpful, unlike those at ABP who in recent weeks have gone from indifferent to downright surly.
Rough Day For Romney
Difficult to gauge how positive the impact of these endorsements are for McCain and Giuliani, but by not getting them (or either for that matter) Mitt Romney takes a bit of a hit in the expectations game.
Your Daily Llama Endorsement
Elisabeth Shue on the Weblog Award nominations:
"As an Oscar nominee, I was up against some stiff competition - Sarandon, Stone, Streep - but the clear winner in this contest has to be the Llamas."
You heard her. Go vote now!
Gratuitous Domestic Posting
Regular readers must by now, of course, know that I am very, very happy as a family man. So I'm sure nobody will take it the wrong way when I suggest that perhaps there are some advantages to bachelorhood.
For one thing, you can be pretty sure that somebody else isn't going to both clog the downstairs loo and, at the same time, not flush it properly, thereby allowing the water to keep running. You can also be pretty sure that such clogging and flushing activity will not suddenly cause monsoon season to set in from the ceiling of your Former Fortress of Solitude directly below said loo. And - this is the kicker - you can be pretty sure that this chain of events will not suddenly become known to you as you are trying to work out on the treadmill, necessitating the need to scramble for plunger and towels while gasping for breath and sweating like an ox.
For another thing, you can be pretty sure that you won't suddenly discover -when you're already running late in the morning - that one of your (very few) suit jackets has been caught up in a Salvation Army closet sweep and whisked away.
Lemonade From Lemons Handed You By Life Update: Of course, the upside of the second episode is that I can buy a new suit, something I've been thinking about for a while. I'm still looking for an upside to the first.
Update Deux: In the comments, our pal Lintenfiniel Jen asks what I mean by flushing properly. It's a legitimate question that warrants answering here. You see, the downstairs loo requires a quick, sharp plunge of the handle followed by an immediate release. If you flush slowly or hold the handle down for any length of time, the stopper will not seal properly on the outflow pipe. As a result, the tank never fills, the little bulb never floats up and the inflow valve is never cut off. This is just an annoyance when there's no blockage but, as noted above, can contribute to the Perfect Storm under the right circs.
I've informed the ladies of Orgle Manor about this little quirk time and time again, but of course nobody ever listens to Ol' Dad anyway, so why would a bulletin on this valueable piece of homeowner knowledge be treated any differently?
Second verse, same as the first
I realize what with the writers strike that primetime tee-vee is going into reruns, but I didn't realize that applied to the News as well: Hillary Clinton Records not to be released until after the election, when I'm sure they'll find up conveniently shredded, in the same closet in the Residence as her Rose Law Firm billing files.
Bonus points for the best "Clinton oral history" jokes.
November 06, 2007
An update to our post earlier in the day on traffic goosing, "juicing," and the bizarre things people visit our site looking for: someone who shall go nameless plopped something into the Tasty Bits Mail Sack doubting the whole thing, that I'm making up the grossly significant percentage of our daily traffic that comes from the Middle East from folks dialing up Google looking for illicit pickies of hot French Nooz Babe Melissa Theuriau, Yasir Arafat, and a goat, let alone naughty NFL cheerleaders and the aforementioned French Nooz hottie.
Obviously, our little doubter needs how to read sitemeter stats, because it would give little nuggets like this:
MORE FUN THAN A BARREL OF MONKEYS, A BRITNEY SPEARS SIZE BAG OF METH, AND A CONVENTION OF SHRINERS: I've discovered the Google "translate" function.
Step one: going to google saudi arabia.
Type in your search phrase in English.
When you get your search results, click on the Arabic text next to the English heading.
Gaze at the accidental poetic humor caused when certain things just don't translate:
It's even funnier if you change the background template to the garish Valentine's Day format. Yikes, indeed!
The Silver Lining in the Subprime Cloud
Turmoil in the US’s financial markets got the top billing in news reports about the recent meetings of the world’s leading international policymakers in Washington. Virtually everyone expressed concern that the housing slump and the financial crisis triggered by the subprime mortgage market would significantly slow down the US economy, and perhaps the world economy. But there is a surprising silver lining. Signs of it were revealed by the absence of reporting on the big bugaboo of the past few years: the US current account deficit.
The good news is the recent reversal of the steady upward climb in the current account deficit. During the past three quarters for which we have data the deficit has been cut by $119bn, falling from about 6 per cent of gross domestic product to 5 per cent, and the adjustment appears to be continuing.
Why the reversal? One explanation is the implementation of policies that these same international policymakers agreed to at recent past meetings. The basic economic principle that led to these policies is that the US current account deficit is caused by the gap between saving and investment. Accordingly, a three-pronged strategy was called for – reducing the US budget deficit to decrease government dissaving, raising economic growth abroad relative to the US in order to stimulate US exports and increasing the flexibility of exchange rates, especially in China, to facilitate the adjustment.
You can see the strategy being implemented now. The budget deficit has come down sharply to 1.2 per cent of GDP, well below historical averages and less than in most other countries. World economic growth – especially in emerging markets – has been strong, even as US growth has slowed. And China’s exchange rate has become more flexible – appreciating by 10 per cent since the peg was abandoned. Forward markets project further appreciation. All these policies are expected to reduce the current account deficit, but they take time – too much time to explain the sharp reduction in the current account in the past year.
So there must be other forces at work too. Because the current account deficit equals saving minus investment, these are logical places to look. Herein lies the silver lining. The housing turmoil has indeed cut a chunk out of investment – residential investment has fallen by $81bn in the three quarters during which the current account deficit declined, and even more compared with the peak of the housing boom earlier last year. Hence a good part of the current account reduction can be directly attributed to the decline in residential investment. Moreover, the decline in housing prices is starting to increase the personal saving rate, as home equity loans are drying up and people are recognising that their housing wealth is not as large as they had expected. When asset prices were rising, households could spend what they earned and still see an increase in their net worth. Sometimes spending even exceeded income. Now, consumption is falling relative to income, so there is more household saving.
Including both the direct investment effect and the personal saving effect, about three-quarters of the reduction in the current account deficit can be attributed to the housing market turmoil. So while the agreed economic policies have begun to improve the current account, and will continue to do so, they have had important assistance. The housing market correction has been an important factor in the current account correction; as a result we are seeing a dramatic beginning of a welcome rebalancing of the world’s investment and saving flows.
The nature of this adjustment has implications for future policy. First, since we cannot rely on the housing slump to reduce the current account without limit, it is important to continue with the three-pronged strategy, which would be good economics even if there were no current account deficits. Second, the decrease in the current account deficit in the US means that other countries will be exporting less and importing more from the US. Unless other components of demand in these countries increase, there will be negative spillovers on the world economy. Given the continued importance of productivity-raising investment, it is important for the US’s trading partners to encourage more investment in their own countries. Improving the investment climate – especially in emerging market countries where investment is low – is more important than ever. Countries with extraordinary rates of saving would do well to look more favourably on consumption.
Throughout the recent world econ omic expansion, many have warned that the current account deficit would cause a sharp collapse of the dollar and a global currency crisis. That has not happened. The dollar depreciation has been gradual, with low volatility serving as a stabilising force during the six-year expansion. A US exchange rate policy that has stressed market forces, avoided exchange market intervention and not tried to talk the dollar down has worked well. It should be continued. To the degree that the improvement in the current account is caused by the housing turmoil, further depreciation of the dollar is less likely. But it is best to let the market decide that.
The writers are senior fellows at the Hoover Institution. Mr Shultz is a former Treasury secretary in the Nixon administration and was secretary of state under Ronald Reagan. Mr Taylor was a member of the president’s council of economic advisers under George H.W. Bush and Treasury under-secretary for international affairs under George W. Bush
This was the angle in yesterday's post about the decline of the dollar, and its effect of the trade (current accounts) deficit. In some respects, the situation is like the induced recession of the early eighties, designed to kill off inflation. The wager here is that driving the hazardously out of whack trade deficit down will raise GNP, and in the long run make the economy and therefore the currency sounder. The dollar will rise again as interest rates rise again, and the yield curve gets more favorable for the dollar relative to the euro.
362 Days to the Election (in about an hour)
The latest sign of Democratic Fear: EJ Dionne on immigration.
Give it about two weeks, and you'll start seeing Republicans putting those 1/20/09 Bush's last day bumper stickers on the inside of their trunks....
Add to that the sudden realization that Green doesn't translate to votes (I mean, why didn't the Clinton administration submit Kyoto to the Senate after all?), and it's going to be an interesting year.
Memo to the Donks: don't be pre-ordering the Fiesta Grande bags of Tostitos for the Hillary Coronation quite yet....
Late evening screen snort warning
Jordana's got a new look, and boy is it a doozy. Got me just as I was in intake mode on a steaming hot freshly brewed mug of green tea.
What the hey, I needed a new screen on my macbook pro anyhoo...
Will Robbo the LLama Laugh or Cry?
This is the first post in our new feature: Will Robbo the LLama Laugh or Cry, where I find some link which goes right to the razor edge of Robbo's emotional buttons.
And we all know the biggest one, now that he's left the Pisky Church, is the Miami Dolphins.
So the link I present to you is this: on Google right now, there are one million, four hundred and sixty thousand or so webpages that contain the words
Currently, we are number five (behind the Marijuana Policy Project, no less).
So, will Robbo Laugh or Cry? Your predictions please, with the answer coming tomorrow afternoon.
Rueage. Imminent rueage.
MANSON, Wash. -- A Chelan County fire chief says a couple were lucky they weren't killed by a cow that fell off a 200-foot cliff and smashed their minivan. District 5 Chief Arnold Baker says they missed being killed by a matter of inches Sunday as they drove on Highway 150 near Manson.
The 600-pound cow fell about 200 feet and landed on the hood of the minivan carrying Charles Everson Jr. and his wife Linda of Westland, Mich., who were in the area celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary. They were checked at Lake Chelan Community Hospital as a precaution.
The van was heavily damaged, including a broken windshield. Charles Everson says he kept repeating, "I don't believe this. I don't believe this." The year-old cow had been reported missing by a breeder. It was euthanized at the scene.
SOOPER SEKRIT MESSAGE to Robbo and Gary: Dudes, the LLamas are only #4 on google for Jo Harding. You know what to do...
Yips! from Robbo: Jo Harding be thy name....
"Okay, there's a whole Llama thing going on here!" - Dr. Jo Harding
"Where's my Llama?" - Dr. Jo Harding
"Llama!" - Dr. Jo Harding
"'Nuther Llama!" - Dr. Jo Harding
"We are absolutely not invading my Aunt Llama!" - Dr. Jo Harding
"You guys have to get some new Llamas." - Dr. Jo Harding
""You've never seen it miss this Llama and that Llama and come after you!" - Dr. Jo Harding
"Who are these Llamas!!?" - Dr. Jo Harding
"Oh, no, you're going to analyze the data, I'm going to run the Llamas!" - Dr. Jo Harding
"Wet t-shirts and sports bras go better with Llamas." - Dr. Jo Harding (n.b. not part of theatrical release)
"Vote for the Llamas in the 2007 Weblog Awards before a house falls on you!" - Dr. Jo Harding
I'm on the waiting list at the Crozet Library for Richard Russo's latest novel, Bridge of Sighs. Dustin Rowles at Pajiba has an outstanding review, capturing what I like about both Richard Russo's novels as well as the Pajiba reviews.
November has been Richard Russo month the past couple of years: I always try to re-read one of his novels in the buildup to Thanksgiving. This year it's The Risk Pool, that is if my number doesn't come up first for Bridge of Sighs.
Let's NOT Go To The Video-Tape!
Already commiting unspeakable heresy via the use of artificial turf, lights at Wrigley Field and the designated hitter rule, MLB is considering instant replay:
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- For the first time Tuesday, baseball general managers recommended instant replay be used to help umpires make difficult decisions.
The recommendation, by a 25-5 vote, was limited to boundary calls -- whether potential home runs are fair or foul, whether balls go over fences or hit the top and bounce back, and whether fans interfere with possible homers.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig opposes the use of replays but said last month he was willing to let GMs examine the issue.
"I don't like instant replay because I don't like all the delays. I think it sometimes creates as many problems or more than it solves," Selig said then.
But Jimmie Lee Solomon, an executive vice president in the commissioner's office, thinks Selig's stance has changed a bit recently.
"He seemed to be softer, at least on the consideration of the subject," Solomon said Tuesday.
He added it was unclear how the proposal will proceed and acknowledged there is "glacier-like movement in baseball" when it comes to innovation. Solomon said if Selig is willing, the commissioner probably would run the idea by owners. The plan needs approval from the players' association and umpires.
Solomon said GMs favored having a Major League Baseball official in a central place with access to all camera angles. If there is a disputed call, that official would be contacted and would view the television replay to make a decision.
My how the old AllahPundit website has changed.....
I was going through the blogroll in anticipation of our long-awaited blogroll shakeup and design change in anticipation of Season Five of the LLamas kicking off at the end of the month, and clicked on the link for Allahpundit's old site. The screen shot speaks for itself:
Allahpundit's favorites: Christian singles, Older Women, Russian girls, Russian Women, Indian Women, Chat.
One word: Heartache.
Robbo mentioned something in passing earlier about 90% of our daily 1500 visits coming in looking for nekkid pictures of Melissa Theuriau, Fox Nooz hotties, and random postings on Diane Lane. This is emphatically not true: at least 15% of our daily bread comes from two posts, the one invovling the bar-fighting lesbian NFL cheerleaders from two Decembers ago, and the other where we implied (and by "we" I mean "I") a relationship between Yassir Arafat, the aforesaid Melissa, and a donkey, within the image tag of jpg file. Ratings gold that one was.
Anyhoo, it's important to cheer Robbo's heart that all is not lost: ratings respectability is finally come our way, as we are now NUMBER ONE ON GOOGLE for
awful 70's songs
Suck it, INDC Journal and Politburo Diktat!
Yips! from Robbo: Well, okay then. Nice to know all of you aren't hunting for Paris Hilton cheeseburger pics. Perhaps there is hope. And for those of you dialing in instead for the lyrics to "Billy Don't Be A Hero", "Run, Joey, Run" and "Convoy", welcome! And for Heaven's sake, go vote for us in the Weblog Awards!
Following up on yesterday's post, further signs of the emerging brown streak in the Democratic Victory Party Planning for next November 4th. This from the New Republic, which oddly has no mention of their discredited Baghdad Diarist in this assessment:
It hasn't become much of a campaign issue--yet--but for the first time in a long while the news from Iraq isn't unrelentingly ghastly. Some previously hard-to-imagine glimmers of hope are now emerging. Of course there are a thousand caveats here, and Slate's Phil Carter has a good summation of them. But this weekend an experienced Iraq correspondent--someone who has been extremely bleak about the war in the past--told me he thinks it's really possible that the country is turning a corner.
Which raises all sorts of secondary but fascinating political questions: What do the Democrats do if--yes: if, if, if--the surge appears to have succeeded? (Or at least seems, to voters, to have succeeded: I realize the tribal shift in Anbar, for instance, wasn't imposed by US troops--although my correspondent friend said surge forces did enable us to exploit Sunni tribal cooperation and root out al Qaeda.) Indeed, if Iraq somehow stabilizes and even incrementally improves, doesn't that affect the presidential campaign in important and unpredictable ways? Obviously it's almost impossible to concieve of an outcome in Iraq that any reasonable person could call "victory." Democrats will resonably argue that the adventure wasn't worth the cost in lives and dollars. But the notion that Bush's patience really did save Iraq from unmitigated humanitarian and strategic catastrophe might be a powerful one. Expectations have been lowered to such an extent over the past several months that any glimmer of hope is a godsend for Republicans. I suspect Americans are pining for anything they can declare good news, and want to believe we haven't been humiliated after all. With a touch of evidentiary wind at his back, then, it may be far easier for, say, a Rudy Giuliani to argue "See? Things are getting better! I told you so"! than for a Hillary Clinton to dourly say, "Maybe, but it still wasn't worth it."
I'm not arguing that the surge has "worked," or that Iraq is hunky-dory and the whole nightmare is about to be redeemed. Lord knows there have been plenty of illusory moments of hope in the past. I'm just suggesting that beneath all the current clamor about Hillary's honesty and gender, a tectonic shift might be quietly developing. And I wonder whether the Democrats have been preparing for that possibility--and what their contingency plans are if the Iraq debate tacks substantially back the GOP's way.
What do the Democrats do if--yes: if, if, if--the surge appears to have succeeded?
OOOooo! OOOOOooo! Mistah Kotter! MISTAH KOTTAH!
Umm, celebrate America's difficult victory at enormous sacrifice by our military and country, and build on it for a better world?
One can only imagine the op-ed in the Chicago Tribune in November 1943, worrying that recent successes in the Pacific might---might---translate into FDR doing well at the ballot box in 1944.
Actually, you can't, because the Republicans and the media weren't dead set on destroying America's will to fight and sparing no effort in revealing secrets and framing articles in a way to give comfort and aid to the enemy at every turn. But that's a different rant altogether.
I look for two narratives to begin emerging in earnest if this keeps up: the first, which is already out there, is the "it wasn't worth the cost." But the one to savor is going to be the claiming of credit for forcing Bush to shift commanders, dump Rumsfeld, and change strategy. Call this maneuver "Pivot Deux" for previous supporters turned critics of the war to claim their rightful place at the table.
That's Not My Church!
Since deciding to swim the Tiber, I deliberately have avoided sniping at TEC as she settles beneath the waves. Goodbye to all that, as it were.
Nonetheless, every now and again I see something that grabs my attention again, either exciting anger over what TEC has turned into, or else exciting my admiration for those who continue to fight to either save it from itself (futily, IMHO) or, at least, establish a rearguard to protect as many fleeing refugees as possible. The following exchange of letters does both.
First is Her High Priestessness's "Oi, Ya Got A Nice Diocese There. Be A Shame if Something Happened To It" letter to Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh (one of the principal orthodox redoubts):
The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
There have been numerous public references in recent weeks regarding resolutions to be introduced at your forthcoming diocesan convention. Those resolutions, if adopted, would amend several of your diocesan canons and begin the process of amending one or more provisions of your diocesan Constitution. I have reviewed a number of these proposed resolutions, and it is evident to me that they would violate the Constitutional requirement that the Diocese conform to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. It is apparent from your pre-convention report that you endorse these proposed changes. I am also aware of other of your statements and actions in recent months that demonstrate an intention to lead your diocese into a position that would purportedly permit it to depart from The Episcopal Church. All these efforts, in my view, display a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between The Episcopal Church and its dioceses. Our Constitution explicitly provides that a diocese must accede to the Constitution and Canons of the Church.
I call upon you to recede from this direction and to lead your diocese on a new course that recognizes the interdependent and hierarchical relationship between the national Church and its dioceses and parishes. That relationship is at the heart of our mission, as expressed in our polity. Specifically, I sincerely hope that you will change your position and urge your diocese at its forthcoming convention not to adopt the resolutions that you have until now supported.
If your course does not change, I shall regrettably be compelled to see that appropriate canonical steps are promptly taken to consider whether you have abandoned the Communion of this Church -- by actions and substantive statements, however they may be phrased -- and whether you have committed canonical offences that warrant disciplinary action.
It grieves me that any bishop of this Church would seek to lead any of its members out of it. I would remind you of my open offer of an Episcopal Visitor if you wish to receive pastoral care from another bishop. I continue to pray for reconciliation of this situation, and I remain
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori
I saw this a few days ago. I just luuuuuv it when do-yer-own-thing radicals get all hierarchical n' stuff once they capture the citadel. Cor' lumme, stone the crows.
But I genuinely love Bishop Duncan's "Nuts"-like response to Her High Priestessness:
The Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori Episcopal Church Center New York, New York
Here I stand. I can do no other. I will neither compromise the Faith once delivered to the saints, nor will I abandon the sheep who elected me to protect them.
Pax et bonum in Christ Jesus our Lord,
As the Colossus (who sent me both links) put it, "I almost can envision Pope Benedict, riding a tank, a la Patton on the way to Bastogne, upon hearing General McAuliffe’s reply to the Germans: 'A man that eloquent has to be saved.'"
Speaking of which, I haven't done much crossing the Tiber posting of late because I haven't really had that much to say. RCIA goes on apace and all is well - the real heavy hitting won't start until Lent. In the meantime, I read and I study and I pray as best I can.
The Missus is of the opinion that I won't actually go through with it. She's too nice to say so directly, but she thinks that I'm too shallow and not, what, fervent enough to actually make the jump. Well, in one sense she is, of course, absolutely right. I am shallow. I'd also add that I'm frivolous, inconsistent, sinful, worldly and profoundly ignorant of
a great many most things. However, I don't see any of this as reason not to join the Church. In fact, quite the opposite: It's the very reason why I should join. And as for ferver, frankly no, at this point I don't see myself as the sort of person who will attend Mass every morning and twice on Sundays and spend the evenings watching EWTN. (Are converts necessarily held to a higher bar than those born into the Church?) However, I haven't been terribly troubled by that thought: I reckon that the important thing is to concentrate on getting across and not worry too much about the future. I (hopefully) have many years in which to explore and figure out exactly how I fit into the great scheme of things. I'm sure that within the body of Christ there is even room for doofus slackers like me.
UPDATE: The Diocese of Bastogne digs in.
Hot Stove League Update
Now would be a good time to buy donut and bacon futures in Boston: Curt Schilling's coming back!
Curt Schilling and the Red Sox appear ready to announce a one-year deal with incentives to return him to Boston for one final season. ESPN.com reported on Tuesday that Schilling and the team have reached agreement on an $8 million base salary with an additional $2 million in incentives. The deal is pending a physical on the right-hander, who will turn 41 on Nov. 14.
Red Sox spokesman John Blake said the team had nothing to report.
Schilling, on his "38pitches" blog, said talks have been progressing.
"Talks with the Red Sox are moving," Schilling wrote. "[General manager] Theo [Epstein] and I have spoken multiple times daily over the past week and given the current situation I am feeling very confident that we will be able to finalize a 1 year contract to allow us a chance to finish our career as members of the Red Sox organization.
"There are some things to iron out and details that must be finalized for both sides but barring something unforseen [sic] or outrageously odd happening I feel very comfortable that I will finish my career here," he added.
UPDATE: WHITE SMOKE EMERGES FROM THE CHIMNEY AT FENWAY
The official word at Schilling's blog.
Key take away:
$2 million in bonuses for 6 seperate weigh ins.
I inserted the weigh in clause in the 2nd round of offers, counter offers. Given the mistakes I made last winter and into Spring Training I needed to show them I recognized that, and understood the importance of it. Being overweight and out of shape are two different things. I also was completely broad sided by the fact that your body doesn’t act/react the same way as you get older. Even after being told that for the first 39 years of my life. Now I can’t get on Dougie anymore, which sucks, and I am sure the clause will add 15-100 more jokes to Tito’s Schilling joke book.
Two million bucks to stay away from Dunkin' Donuts. Boston area bloggers with cell-phone cameras, the stake out begins now!
Yips! from Robbo: Allow me a ROTFLMAO moment here as I contemplate the fact that this post was written by a guy I watched starving himself on a crash course of carrots so that he just barely made weight to row in our lightweight four at the New Englands one year. Mwaaaaahahahaha.........
Gratuitous Literary Posting - Historickal Crossroads Division
Regular Llama fans will know that I always try to have at least one history in my reading rotation at any given time. (Indeed, I sometimes wonder whether I wouldn't have been happier as a history major in college instead of an English major. Perhaps a double? Or, with classics, a triple? Too late now.)
Anyhoo, lately I seem to have fallen into a definite Virginia Campaign vibe. Having first knocked off John J. Hennessy's Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas, I immediately followed up with Stephen Sears' Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam and am now about two thirds of the way through Sears' Chancellorsville. I've read Chancellorsville two or three times before, but the two prior books were first timers for me. Reading all of them in rapid succession has proved to be immensely rewarding, as the overall dynamic of the struggle between the Union and the Confederacy in Virginia and Maryland in 1862 and 1863 has really come out. ("But Tom," some of you are no doubt saying, "What about Fredericksburg?" Well sure, it was a bloody, horrific battle, well worth study. But I've always looked at it as something of an idiotic aside, a futile jab that had no real impact on the overall strategic picture and one that ought never to have been launched.)
Aaaaanyhoo, having come this far, I had begun to think that it was time again to read this:
High Tide at Gettysburg: The Campaign in Pennsylvania by Glenn Tucker.
Again, I've read this book probably four or five times, but it's been a few years and I'm sure picking it up again after reading the above trio in short order will be a rewarding experience. Also, it occurs to me that this would be an excellent time to, as it were, see out the Virginia campaign to its conclusion. For example, while I've got Grant's own memoirs and Bruce Catton's outstanding accounts of his service in both West and East, I don't have any books specifically about the 1864 campaign, including the battles in the Wilderness and at Spotsylvania Court House. I figure these might make nice Christmas prezzies from Robbo's familly, all of whom continually moan and bitch that they haven't the slightest idea what to give me. (And, btw, any recommendations for books on these topics would be greatly appreciated.) I could then finish up with a more detailed account of the siege of Richmond, up to and including the surrender at Appomatox.
All well and good, right? Ha! Not so fast! Y'see, last evening my eye fell again on another book I recently acquired:
The title is pretty self-explanatory of the content. I have not yet read this book, and of course there is the argument that this is justification enough in itself to warrant putting it next on my list. However, if I do that, bang goes my Civil War thread. Furthermore, I'm afraid that plunging into this now will result in a renewed enthusiasm for the Royal Navy which will infect both my historickal thread (I have many books covering the period) as well as my other reading. So, for example, on the fiction front it would be goodbye Evelyn Waugh (and Anthony Powell, who is next) and hello (again) Patrick O'Brian. On the other hand, it is a subject near and dear to my heart.....
Decisions, decisions. But of a kind I truly love.
Gratuitous Vote-Mongering Update - Time To Bring Out The Heavy Artillery
A look at the latest Weblog Awards results reveals that we Llamas are fading fast, if not on the verge of outright crashing. This is disappointing (or it would be if I didn't know that 95% of our traffic comes from people trying to google up pictures of Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jessica Alba jello-wrestling in edible spandex).
Anyhoo, for those three or four real people who do visit our little page o' madness, remember that you can vote once every twenty four hours from any given computer. So vote early. Vote often. Vote from all the workstations in your school or office. We've still got a couple days to go, so there's time yet for a spectacular finish.
And remember what Melissa says:
"Ah, with zee Llamas, once ees neeever enough, n'est-ce pas?"
Random Commuter Observation - Guilty Pleasure Division
I don't smoke. Never have, probably never will. But I have to say that there are time when the smell of a puff of cigarette smoke is just damned good.
Random Commuter Observation - Falling Awake Division
Ah, cold, gray sky, everything soggy after a night of rain, the trees in various states of fall colour - this is when you catch Robbo at his brightest.
Feeling guilty about not paying enough in taxes?
Surf on over to James Taranto's daily feature over at OpinionJournal.com for relief. Yesterday he took on the recent pronouncement of the Oracle of Omaha that he wants to pay more in taxes. Simply put, one can always make a donation to the Treasury and Taranto provides the info on how to do it. On a related note, I recall Buffett's opposition to death tax relief is not disinterested--his insurance interests make alot of money selling products intended to lower the tax bite on large estates.
November 05, 2007
Gratuitous 'Fins Posting - Norwegian Blue Division
Christ on Crutches, what on earth is Cam "Camonella" Cameron doing?
The Dolphins' quarterback of the future will have to wait until, well, the future.
Coach Cam Cameron announced Monday that Cleo Lemon will remain the starting quarterback indefinitely, putting the highly anticipated start of rookie John Beck's career on hold for at least another week.
Everything appeared to be in place for Beck to take over, given the extra time to prepare because of the bye week, as well as this week's home-field advantage and a suitable opponent in the Bills.
Beck and Lemon will continue to split repetitions with the first-team offense during practice, Cameron said. That decision suggests Lemon's leash could still be short, but Cameron insisted Lemon earned the right to start this week's game.
In his three starts since Trent Green suffered a concussion, Lemon has completed 58.4 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 70. He has passed for three touchdowns, fumbled twice and thrown four interceptions.
Dan Le Batard thinks Cammie knows that the right thing to do is to put in Beck and let him have a half season of practice games, but is still trying to salvage some Miami victories and (ultimately) his own hide.
I've been disdraught, as you might imagine, but this news makes me livid.
[Switch on rant function.]
Jaysus, Cammie, put the kid in! If you're going down, you're going already. At least think of the future for the team.
Look, this season's not pinin'! It's passed on! This season is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed it to the perch, it'd be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now 'istory! It's off the twig! It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-SEASON!!
[Switch off rant function.]
Beauty AND Brains
Gisele Bundchen wants to remain the world's richest model and is insisting that she be paid in almost any currency but the U.S. dollar.
Like billionaire investors Warren Buffett and Bill Gross, the Brazilian supermodel, who Forbes magazine says earns more than anyone in her industry, is at the top of a growing list of rich people who have concluded that the currency can only depreciate because Americans led by President George W. Bush are living beyond their means.
Even after the dollar lost 34 percent since 2001, the biggest investors and most accurate forecasters say it will weaken further as home sales fall and the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates.
Actually, that should read "Americans led by media-darling Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke" as the drop in the dollar is emmenating from the Federal Reserve's long term interest strategy. Buried in the eighth to the bottom paragraph is this though:
The dollar's drop also makes American goods cheaper abroad. U.S. exports were a record $138.2 billion in August, government data show. Net exports added 0.93 percentage point to U.S. gross domestic product last quarter, offsetting a 1.05 percentage point drag from housing, government data show.
Personally, I think it's weasily on the part of the Commerce Department to exclude energy and food from core inflation measurements, but that's a different debate.
There's also an interesting story in there about the rise of sovereign hedge funds---perhaps grist for a good novel with Blackwater playing the role of the new Knights Templar, and Dubai as a post-modern Malta.
Yips! from Robbo: To those of you hanging around waiting for an endorsement of the Llamas for the Weblog Awards by Gisele, forget it. I may want to win, but not so much that I'll take the assist of a Very Brady Soopermodel.
364 Days to the Election....
Interesting signs on the intertubes today.
Exhibit A: Nora Ephron's plaintive screed about betrayal of the Democrats by the Democrats. Read it and warm your toesies by the bonfire of its vanities.
Exhibit B: Kossacks in a panic over the prospect of good news out of Iraq. I've been seeing this going on on the ground here in the Ivory Tower over the past 2-3 weeks, with the beginning of the "whatever the outcome it wasn't worth the cost" argument beginning to emerge.
So Long For the Season, Heat Miser
I don't recall seeing a notice like this over at my favorite weather site before.
The growing season has ended for locations east of the Interstate 95 corridor to the Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac River.
Issuance of freeze watches and warnings... and frost advisories
are discontinued until next Spring for the following counties and
cities in DC Maryland and virgina:
Southern Baltimore... Baltimore City... Anne Arundel... Prince
Georges... District of Columbia... city of Arlington... city of Falls
Church... City of Alexandria... Charles... Calvert... King George... and
Those with vegetation still growing that is sensitive to frost
and freeze conditions should monitor the low temperature forecasts
issued by the National Weather Service or other outlets.
Later this week... it appears that much of the region will drop
to near freezing by Thursday morning... November 8th.
Message from the NWS: You're on your own now, pilgrims.
We live to the west of that line, so I expect the cut-off goes double for us.
As it happens, the youngest Llama-ette and I were out yesterday afternoon planting bulbs in the little patch by our front sidewalk. We put in a mixture of tulip and daffodil, my sincere hope being that the scent of the latter will discourage the goddam squirrels from digging up the former. (I had been considering whether to aerate the back yard this fall, but the squirrels beat me to that pretty durn effectively.) This is the bed that has been pretty much taken over by my Dicentra, and it was almost impossible to dig anywhere without slicing through some of its roots. In fact, I did slice a couple of them, but the Dicentra has become such a garden-bully that I don't think it's going to matter very much.
I'm Robbo the Llama and I Think I've Been Possessed!
A week or two back I noted the likelihood that I was going to be spending the Thanksgiving holidays pergo-ing the floor of Robbo's Former Fortress of Solitude in the basement of Orgle Manor.
Well, it seems plans have changed somewhat since then. The other day the Missus confirmed that Mrs. LMC, together with the Future ROTC Scholarship Recipient and his Lovely Little Sister, would be coming up for a night or two over the T-Day weekend. I immediately kyboshed any flooring plans, stating categorically that there was no way we could deal with a basement in total chaos and houseguests that included two small children. One or the other, but not both.
Lucky break for ol' Robbo, you might say. And I did say, at first. But then a little voice way back in the recesses of my skull observed, "You know.....you've got Veterans' Day off, so this coming weekend will be a long one as well........"
Before I knew what was happening, this same little voice had somehow taken over my vocal chords (a standard revolutionary technique: go for the communications system first) and was saying to the Missus, "Well, why don't I do the pergo sooner rather than later?"
You can imagine how that offer was received. The Missus is off to buy the fixin's as soon as I measure the floorspace this evening.
I am hereby sending out an S.O.S to Father M and any other readers of the Llamas who might know something about exorcism. Help me!
YIPS from Steve-O:
Oh, I think I can speak for all our readership when I say:
St. Nick vs The Fat Police
In Britain's nanny-state, you already know who loses:
Santa is being told to shift the pounds before Christmas - because the obese saint is failing to set a "good example" for children.
The traditional children's hero, best known for feasting on mince pies left out on Christmas eve, has always sported a bulging midriff.
But shopping centre bosses are giving the well-wisher his marching orders - to the nearest gym - to tackle the increasing problem of obesity.
The revelation comes after a medical report earlier this month stated that by 2050 more than 50 per cent of Brits will be obese.
Bluewater shopping centre in Greenhithe, Kent, has even gone one step further and set-up a Santa boot camp.
Fiona Campbell-Reilly, spokeswoman at the shopping centre, said: "Santa has been around for years, but society has changed and our Santa needs to reflect this.
"Bluewater's Santa Boot Camp is getting Santa in shape and setting a good example to children who idolise him.
"He will still be the same lovable jolly man, but will be fitter and healthier."
Good example? Show of hands, please, for those of you who have ever heard a child say that he wanted to be fat just like Santa.
I hope St. Nick takes revenge for being robbed of his traditional, eh, "lifestyle" by turning into a cranky old bastard who spits in kids' stockings and lets his reindeer go wee-wees all over their roof-tops.
A La Recherche Du Temps Regula One
Posting that KHAAAAAN! clip yesterday and reading our friend Hucbald's response to it stirred up some very fond memories for me, for which I am sure you will mock me, possibly even pelting me with rocks and garbage.
You see, owing to a small but firm prediliction for space movie music, I used to own a cassette of the soundtrack from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The cassette ran to a little over 45 minutes or so of music, rounding off with Mr. Spock's intonation of "Space, the Final Frontier....." before sweeping into the closing credits.
It also just so happens that a little over 45 minutes is the time it normally takes (or at least it used to take me) to make the drive from Lexington, Virginia, home of Dubyanell, to Amherst, Virginia, home of Sweet Briar College. And while I was getting a law degree of sorts at the former, I spent a great deal of time courting the Missus at the latter. Thus, I made many, many trips back and forth between Metro-Lex and SBC. And during my third year of law school when I took part in several SBC theatre productions (the Missus was a theatre major - you do the math), the number of trips increased substantially. Indeed, during final rehearsals and performance weeks, I was heading over every evening. And as the Missus was a proper young lady (who also happened to live next door to a hyper-strict RA) and would not let me stay over, I duly made my way back to Metro-Lex late each night as well.
Lexington sits in the Valley of Virginia. Sweet Briar sits in the Piedmont. In between the two are the Blue Ridge Mountains. In that part of the range, the western face is steep-too. Heading east from Metro-Lex on Route 60, you first pass through the little town of Buena Vista. (Locally pronounced "Byoonah Vista", it is rayther curiously named thus in celebration of the fact that iron ore mined out of the nearby hills was used in casting some cannon used by the United States to win the battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican War. Rumor in my time also had it that B.V. had the highest per capita incest rate of any town in the United States, a claim I'm not sure I'd dispute.) Immediately on the eastern outskirts of B.V., the road begins to climb sharply, eventually snaking up the west face of the Blue Ridge a couple thousand feet in a series of turns which, the first couple times I took them (especially heading down), were quite white knuckle-inducing. The view from the top is spectacular.
Once across the crest (marked by Skyline Drive, which runs, so far as I know, along the entire spine of the range from southern Pennsylvania down to Georgia), the road begins a series of swoops and dives as it works its way through the jumble of hills crowded up against the eastern flank of the mountain, eventually picking up a pleasant little series of hidden valleys (one of which, I believe, is called Hidden Valley) until it finally makes its way up to the tiny town of Amherst, VA, there running into - of all absurd things - a roundabout before spitting the SBC-bound traveller out on to Route 29, on which one heads south a couple miles to the front gates.
I don't know how many hundred times I travelled this route (and, of course, its reverse). I did so in all weathers and conditions - rain, snow, ice, fog, gusty winds - and at all times of day and night. And looking back, I now recall that on many, many of these runs, I would listen to the STII:TWOK soundtrack. Particularly late at night, I would let the images from that movie evoked by the music mix with what I was sensing and seeing all around me. I got an especially geeky pleasure on those occasions when, travelling up into the fog bank from below, I was able to catch the track for the battle in the Mutara Nebula. (When confronted now and again in said fog bank by the psycho-killer log truckers who haunted this route, I sometimes found the parallel to being hunted by the Reliant just a little too realistic.)
Of course, I wasn't fool enough to let on about this simple but admittedly uber-dorky pleasure to the Missus (or to anyone else, for that matter) back then. I mention it without fear now because it was all such a long time ago that I'm sure the statute of limitations has run on any geek liability to which I might otherwise have been subject. I also mention it because, interestingly, while back then I whiled away the drive thinking about images from the movie, now I can't think of the movie without my head being filled with images from that drive.
Your Gratuitous Daily Llama Endorsement
This just in, former "Melrose Place" hottie Courtney Thorne-Smith weighes in on 2007 Weblog Awards:
"Ah, surfing the Llama Butchers is better than a day at the beach."
Did you vote today?
Yips! from Robbo: My weekend attempt at vote-rallying via poking humor at approximately two thirds of the world's monotheists seems to have backfired, as we're now barely holding on to fourth position and fading fast. We promise to stick to Llama Babes from here on out. Remember, you can vote once every 24 hours. So please make a point of dropping by the voting booth every day until this thing closes. Yip! Yip! Yip!
I'm hearing rumors that a certain Ms. Elisabeth Shue is seriously thinking about throwing her support to Orgle Manor...stay tuned!
November 04, 2007
Things That Make You Go "D'oh!"
A hyperactive five year old, some couscous and the dining room rug.
You'd think I'd have learned by now.......
Sooper Sekrit Message to Gramps
Below the fold, a message for my Dad: don't say I didn't warn you if you've had your fill of emotion-wrought writing about sports.
Gramps---They posted this yesterday at one of the Red Sox blogs I really like (surviving grady)(mom wouldn't like it, as they use a lot of "sailor talk"). This was a repost of what one of their authors wrote after 2004, and it still resonates very much with me. So this is for you Gramps: through all the talk of "the manila folders" and Bob Veale and Sparky Lyle when I would have been Marshall's age, through Yaz, Lynn, Fisk, and Rice, through the getting shot in the gut emotion of 1978 (and your betting me a dollar on aug 1 that the Sox wouldn't win the pennant, teaching me a good lesson about sports betting [although I made that buck back with interest this year winning ten bucks off Keith when the Sox did win the pennant]), through the no-good fall of 1986 (in the fall of 1986, my Dad's died a couple weeks after the Sox lost the Series to the Mets), through the reprise gutshot of 2003, through the improbable dream of 2004, through last week.
This is for you, and I fully endorse the sentiment:
I posted this after the 2004 win. Seems like it is worth repeating...
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America is ruled by it like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.
-James Earl Jones as Terence Mann
The Red Sox are the 2004 World Series Champions. It's been 24 hours and I've said or thought those words a million times since Foulke snared the final out in the ninth, but it still doesn't make sense to me. I've waited so long and now that it's here, I don't know how I'm supposed to feel. Don't get me wrong, I know I'm loving it, hell, I'm probably still in shock, but it still feels so...different? Am I crazy?
Baseball is so much more than a sport or a game, it is a tradition. It is a bond formed between fathers and sons and daughters that lasts a lifetime. It starts with the first game of catch, buying the first glove, the first tee ball game. It is going to the first Red Sox game together. I honestly don't remember my first walk up the ramp, seeing the gem that is Fenway Park for the first time, seeing the Green Monster. But I do know the awestruck expression on each of my daughters' faces when I took them up that ramp for the first time. And that, I will never forget.
The love of baseball is passed down from generation to generation like a sacred family heirloom. It runs through the fabric of our lives, growing stronger as we grow. And at some point, at least for those of us lucky enough to be Red Sox fans, it becomes a passion. We shed the burden of winter each year and are filled with hopes and dreams when we hear that pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training. We live and die each night with the players on the field during the dog days of summer. When the days begin to shorten and the nights grow cooler, we cling to whatever or whoever we can, telling ourselves that this might be the year. And finally, this is the year.
And when it really started to look like these guys had that something special (for me it was winning Game 5 of the ALCS) that could get it done, who did we turn to? For most people, it was their dad. The man that planted the seed in our hearts that has grown into the love for America's favorite past-time. Go back and read yesterday's comments. Nearly all of them mention calling their dad, or wishing their dad was still around to experience this. The stories were beautiful, thank you all for sharing them with us.
What we witnessed over the past two weeks was historical. But if history has taught us anything, this could very well be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So enjoy it. Savor it. Squeeze every bit of pleasure that you can out of it. And share it. This is not some guilty pleasure to be coveted in your heart or mind. It is a gift. It is ours to share. I get as much pleasure seeing what this means to others as I did watching it unfold myself. So many people waited a lot longer than I did, suffered a lot more disappointments than I did, and I am so happy to see them get a World Series.
If you haven't already done it, drive over to your dad's. If he lives far away, call him. Talk about the team, the series, what it means to him. I would if I could. My dad listened to every game on the radio when I was a kid. I know that wherever we go when we leave this place, whether it's heaven or a cornfield in Iowa, he listened to this series and he is smiling.
Hey Dad, wanna have a catch?
See you next week, Gramps!
I've long been aware of the fact that the Missus shares the same birthday with Dubya. But it was only today that I realized Mom shares a birthday with Laura Bush.
What do you suppose the odds are of that?
You Knew This Was Coming
And it's as good as you thought it would be.....
Yips! from Gary:
Aw, man. I called this one on Thursday. Well, not exactly, but close enough.
More Shameless Vote-Mongering
"Still only running third in the 2007 Weblog Awards finals, eh? Cardinal Smithers! Issue the revised General Intention directing our flock to vote early and often in support of this Robbo Llama. We must not allow him to be discouraged at this point.
Also, find out who is NOT voting for the Llamas, and prepare to release the hounds....."
November 03, 2007
My Dad Just Called, Singing "Anchors Aweigh" Really, Really Loudly
Which could only have meant one thing:
The sound you hear right now is Roger Staubach, dressed like Stephen Decateur, astride Touchdown Jeebus, shrieking, "I'm Juggernaut, Bitches!"
Charlie Weis is 1-7, 0-5 in South Bend. Obviously it's time to fire Ty Willingham---it must be his fault.
SOOPER SEKRIT MESSAGE to Hucbald: Dude, THAT'S how you do some old skool TLLB/Sitemeter ginning.
Shameless Saturday Afternoon Vote-Mongering
Islamist Rage Boy sez: "What? You have not yet voted for the Llamas today in the 2007 Weblog Award Finals? Infidel! Go! Do so at once or, by Llama, such a fatwah of spitting shall be unleashed on you that you shall not know your orgle from a hole in the ground! Go! Now! Y'ip! Y'ip! Y'ip!"
(What, you want Melissa instead? Bump our poll position a bit and we'll see what we can do.)
Chilly Ain't Just A Long, Thin Country In South America
After futzing around for most of October, Autumn has gotten down to business here in Northern Virginia. At the five year old's soccer game this morning, I found myself jumping about not so much in enthusiastic support for her team, but instead more to try and get my toes to warm up.
Also today I had my first encounter of the year with my old nemesis, the wind. I grow to hate the cold wind more and more each year. Some might say this is the flip side of saying "it's not the heat, it's the humidity" in the summer, but in fact it is different. As awful as it is, summer humidity is just a condition, a blanketing term of existence. The winter wind is different, seeming to possess a conscious will. It seeks one out. It delights in penetrating to one's very bones with its icy fingers. You can kvetch about the hot, soggy summer air, but you find yourself shouting directly at the winter wind to just leave you alone.
Anyhoo, on the other side of the coin, I'm already building a fire for the evening. So I got that going for me.
November 02, 2007
I predict a sudden increase in retirement applications at Foggy Bottom
Condi to implement "directed assignments" to Iraq to meet the State Department's mission, particularly in staffing the EPRTs (Emergency Provincial Reconstruction Teams). Failure to comply without really good cause will be grounds for dismissal.
You Can Thank Me Later
Yer Friday Afternoon Timewaster: The Kitty Cannon.
It's simple, stupid and involves doing bad things to cats. Perfect.
Top score so far?
749 ft. 939 ft. 1344 ft.
Okay, folks, get going........
UPDATE: It occurs to me that I've seen this before. However, I don't recall the flytraps being such good fielders.
The latest Edwards ad featuring She Who Must No Be Named:
Via the Corner.
Hollywood Writers Strike Looms
And, frankly, with all the dog feces on TV and in the theaters nowadays does it really matter all that much? I mean, anyone can write that garbage.
So let's see. What else have I got?
A decent NY Giants season? Check.
Nintendo Gamecube (and Wii after Christmas)? Check.
At least a dozen books on my shelf I haven't gotten to yet? Check.
Remastered Star Trek (The Original Series) episodes on My9? Check.
Yeah, I'm covered. Have fun picketing, folks.
The White Witch Revealed
I haven't been all that keen on Peggy Noonan recently, but I think her article on Hillary! today is spot on. A quote:
What Mrs. Clinton revealed the other night was more than an unfortunate persona. What I think she revealed was that her baseline thinking has perhaps not changed that much since the 1990s, when she was a headband wearing, power suited, leftist-who-hadn't-been-wounded-yet. It seemed to me she made it quite possible to assume you know who she'll be making war on. And this--much more than the latest scandal, the Chinatown funny money and the bundling--could, and I think would, engender real opposition down the road. The big chink in her armor is not stylistic, it is about policy. It is about the great baseline question in all political life: Whose ox is being gored?
Go read the rest. Peggy's thesis is that Hillary! doesn't have the Bubba-like moves to cover up her old-fashioned 60's liberalism and that it's going to catch up with her.
Gives one some hope.
You Love Us! You Really Love Us!
Well, well, well, this is a nice Friday surprise. It turns out that we Llamas have made the final cut for the 2007 Weblogs Awards after all, skootching in as representatives of the TTLB Ecosystem, 501-1000 Category. (SOOPER SEKRET MESSAGE TO STEVE-O: How do you get the sidebar finalist banner thingy put up without trashing the entire site? I'm hopeless at the technical side of things here.)
Here's the list of the other finalists in our category, none of whom I know (you can link to them from the voting page):
The Poor Man Institute
Woman Honor Thyself
The American Mind
All for Women
Early results have Betsy's Page out in front, but we Llamas are in the running for second. (If you'd care to drop by the voting page on our behalf - as often as possible - we'd appreciate it very much.)
On behalf of Steve-O, Gary, the LMC, Chai-Rista and everybody else we've given a set of keys and forgotten to take them back, thankee very kindly to all who conspired to get us into the running. I know that at this point I'm supposed to say something about how I really only blog for the pleasure of expressing myself and engaging in interesting conversation, but the truth of the matter is that I'm proud as Lucifer to get one of these things. Again, thankee very, very kindly. Yip! Yip! Yip!
Shameless Pandering Yips! from Gary:
As the campaign officially begins, I will be scouring through my collection of gratuitous 80's babe photos, perhaps even throwing an occasional bone to the ladies. Also, look out for the frequent obligatory "Where's Melissa Theuriau" posts!
November 01, 2007
Your LLama Question of the Day
In the entire history of American sports hype, has there ever been any fraud more grossly fraudulent than Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis?
Extra points for throwing in tangential cheap shots at Bill Belichick.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
Battlestar Galactica (1978). This is the movie version of the original tee vee series pilot with some minor modifications (the most notable being that the Cylons whack Baltar). I tossed it into the Netflix queue a looooooong time ago. It was back-ordered or sumfin and I completely forgot about it. However, it turned up in my mailbox recently, so I popped it in after trick-or-treating duties were finished last evening.
I loved this series when I was a kid. I watched it religiously, even the appallingly awful Galactica 1980. I had models of a Colonial Viper and a Cylon Raider. I had the soundtrack album. I had a storyboard book of the pilot episode. And it was only because my parents wouldn't cough up the money that I didn't get one of those brown suede Colonial Warrior jackets.
On the other hand, I hadn't seen the show in something over 25 years, so I was a bit apprehensive. But you know what? For late 70's cheese, it's held up pretty well. Sure, little Boxey and the Daggit should be tossed in the airlock. Sure, the then-prevailing attitude that the primary form of entertainment not just in the future but across the Cosmos would be disco music seems woefully, well, woeful. Sure, the dialogue seemed awful weak and surface-y by today's standards. But so what? Some of those majestic Dykstra-effect shots of the Galactica (quite sophisticated and expensive for the time), combined with the swelling, hopefull music, still gave me a bit of a shiver. And the Cylons remain cool in a Soviet Robot Juggernaut way. Perhaps it was just the nostalgia talking, but I truly enjoyed this look back.
Out of curiosity, I also checked to see whatever became of the lovely ladies of BGTOS, if I may call it that.
Of course Jane Seymour (Serena) was the thoroughbred of the group. She still seems to be going strong on the Estrogen Network.
For some reason, I could never muster that much interest in Laurette Spang (Cassiopeia). She later appeared in the classik early 80's Sargasso Sea of Washed Up Talent (namely Love Boat, Fantasy Island and even the Dooks of Hazzard) before vanishing. However, I see that just this year she had a bit part in a USA Network movie.
Then there's Maren Jensen (Athena - my favorite). It was only on rewatching that I noticed she has a vague resemblence to Angelina Jolie (without all the extra, erm, enhancements). She, too, dropped out of the biz after doing the Fantasy Island/Love Boat tour and hasn't resurfaced, apparently having contracted the Epstein-Barr virus.
I also dimly remembered that JohnL of TexasBestGrok had featured the ladies of BGTOS in one of his Babes of SciFi polls. Upon checking again, however, I was surprised to see that all three of them had been badly left by:
Anne Lockhart (Sheba). She, too, is still working, seemingly in a lot of small parts here and there. I was surprised that she got so many votes because, again, I never really cottoned on to her myself.
Anyhoo, you younglings who didn't grow up with the
real original Battlestar Galactica probably wouldn't understand, but I also found this flick much more enjoyable than the current version. You scoff, but let's see what people have to say about it thirty years from now.
Robbo's Recommendation: I'll give BGTOS - The Movie 3.5 Yips! out of 5, but only recommend it for people 35 years old and up who remember watching the original series. It's a nice little trip down memory lane.
Hogwarts Assimiliation Well Under Way
Already screeching to the end of "Prisoner of Azkaban". In anticipation of the developing Ron/Hermione intrigue coming up in the next installment, I give you...
Hate to admit I find the Sugar Ray version of this song pretty durn catchy.
Supporters Of "She Who Must Not Be Named" Incensed Over Debate
The Presidential Campaign for You-Know-Who hosted a conference call with some of her supporters, who took the time to lash out over her treatment at Monday Night's debate.
While one supporter voiced his concern that the Clinton campaign is not devoting enough money and staff to Iowa, lagging behind Obama, most supporters who commented on the call expressed their displeasure with what they saw as the moderators’ focus on Clinton.How long will it be before one of these folks releases a "Leave Britney Alone!" video in support of the NY Senator?
One caller from Oklahoma City said that “the questions … were designed to incite a brawl,” and that Russert’s and Brian Williams’s moderating was “an abdication of journalistic responsibility.”
Another said Russert “should be shot,” before quickly adding that she shouldn’t say that on a conference call.
Penn and Mantz said they were hearing a lot of the same sentiment from other supporters, but they do not plan to engage the media or the debate’s moderators.
“We’re not challenging the media on that, but the sentiment you’ve expressed is obviously one I’ve heard,” Penn said.
Yips! from Robbo: Do NOT underestimate the ability of She Who Must Not Be Named to gain sympathy by playing the victim when her political opponent lands a punch. Remember when Rick Lazio tried that petition stunt during the New Yawk senatorial campaign in 2000? On stage, SWMNBN looked flustered and foolish. Within a day or so afterward, Lazio was spun into a brute and a bully.
Note exactly a "Leave ME alone!" response from the campaign, but it really smacks of whining.
To your point, Robert, I remember vividly the Lazio "space invader" moment. I agree, caution is warranted but that incident could easily be painted as borderline "threatening" or bullying. A stupid move on Lazio's part.
As far as directed criticism, the gender card will only work if she can be made sympathetic. Plus U.S. Senator and President are two different jobs. If you can't handle that kind of criticism from a political opponent, how are you going to protect the country against a terrorist attack? The "poor me" approach can easily backfire.
It's Webbies Time
Well, unless we skootch in under our TTLB ecosystem category, it looks like we missed the final cut for this year's Weblog Awards.
No matter. I really wanted to put up this post to congratulate a couple of our blogpals who did make the cut:
First, in the category for Funniest Blog, hats off to Chip and the Crack Young Staff over at The Hatemongers' Quarterly.
And among Conservative Blogs, congrats to Dr. Rusty and the other denizens of the Sandcrawler at My Pet Jawa.
Well done, ladies and gentlemen!
With what very little pull we have in these here intertubes, we heartily recommend that you cast your votes in favor of our friends early and often as they square off against some very still competition in the finals.
Yip! Yip! Yip!
Gratuitous Domestic Posting - November 1 Edition
This morning, the seven year old said to me, "Daddy! Today is All Saints Day!"
"That's right," I replied.
"Daddy," she said, "What's a saint?"
"A saint is a person recognized by the Church for leading an especially good and godly life," I answered. "And we honor all of them on this day."
"Oh," she said. And then without missing a beat, "Daddy, I'm a saint."
Halloween Wrap Up
But, on a happier note, the media has again misled me into unnecessary anxiety. I read, yesterday, in the Washington Post about all the local Virginia parents who are so upset because their young daughters want to be sexy witches, sexy maids, sexy nurses, sexy, sexy sexy…you get the idea. The claim was that it was impossible to find traditional princess, witch, and fairy tale costumes in mainstream stores — and anyway the cool girls don’t want them. I took the story at face value — because I live with three preteen girls and it's clear to me that one has to actively resist the cultural push toward early displays of sexuality (that the children themselves don’t always understand).
The good news, is that here on the famously liberal, progressive, non-judgmental, Upper West Side of Manhattan stores seem to have been selling far tamer costumes. In a 30 block walk home earlier I saw only Disney princesses, and fully covered witches, ghosts etc. Not one of the kids who have come to the door has worn anything remotely sexy.
So, either the Washington Post has overstated the sexy maid costume issue for prurient reasons — or my neighbors are more conservative on basic values than I thought. Either way… it works.
I happened to see that WaPo article, too, and duly shook my head over it. However, we took the two younger Llama-ettes around our NoVA neighborhood last evening (perfect night for a walk - cool and crisp without being outright cold) and I have to say that I certainly didn't see any young thangs flauntin' it. As with Lisa, it was the usual bag of witches, Disney Princesses and the like. The closest to teh sexy that I saw was a youngish teenager dressed as a flapper.
Incidentally, this was just about the easiest Halloween I've had. The seven and five year olds pranced from house to house with two little boys who live down the street, while their mother, the Missus and I strolled along the street quite pleasantly. About half way through, the five year old, who was dressed as a witch, suddenly decided that she wanted to be a cowgirl instead. She spent the rest of the evening cantering about doing a Slim Pickens "YEEEEEEE-HAAW!" imitation at the top of her voice. (The eldest Llama-ette had gone to trick or treat with her best friend. She was dressed in a long, black robe with some kind of trimming and a big hood and called herself some character or other from Harry Potter - Destructor? Destroyer? Summit like that. However, she could just as easily have been a Nazgul or Death itself. When she got home, she completely freaked the Missus by suddenly dropping a fairly life-like mouse into her lap.)
BTW, would anybody out there like some extra candy?
Al Qaeda In Iraq Falling On Tough Times
Terror group "defeated" says spokesman for Iraq Islamic Party (as reported by Michael Yon).
“Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated,” according to Sheik Omar Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party and a member of the widespread and influential Jabouri Tribe. Speaking through an interpreter at a 31 October meeting at the Iraqi Islamic Party headquarters in downtown Baghdad, Sheik Omar said that al Qaeda had been “defeated mentally, and therefore is defeated physically,” referring to how clear it has become that the terrorist group’s tactics have backfired. Operatives who could once disappear back into the crowd after committing an increasingly atrocious attack no longer find safe haven among the Iraqis who live in the southern part of Baghdad. They are being hunted down and killed. Or, if they are lucky, captured by Americans.I love that last statement. The Iraqis clearly recognize Al Qaeda as their enemy, despite the group's best efforts to foment sectarian strife.
During the meeting, another member of the Iraqi Islamic Party said that al Qaeda has changed its strategy now that fomenting civil war between Sunni and Shia has backfired. Al Qaeda has shifted targets, now trying to generate friction between tribes. This time, however, the tribes are onto the game early, and they are not playing.With Al Qaeda in Iraq flailing, the tribal leaders have time to focus on other critical matters.
Sheik Omar, who has gained the respect of American combat leaders for his intelligence and organizational skills, said the tough line against al Qaeda is also enforced at the tribal level. According to Sheik Omar, the Jabouri tribe, too, is actively committed to destroying al Qaeda. So much so, that Jabouri tribal leaders have decided they would “kill their own sons” if any aided al Qaeda. To underscore the point, he went on to say that about 70 Jabouri “sons” had been killed by the Jabouri tribe so far.
Omar’s influence extends beyond tribal and party levels, to include important channels within the Iraqi government and the US military in Baghdad, as evidenced by the agenda of the hours-long meeting. But for the talk about al Qaeda, the focus was mostly on other topics, such as returning displaced persons to their homes, efficiently delivering basic services and jumpstarting the economy. In fact, more and more meetings in Iraq are turning to day-to-day business, and less time is required on military and security topics like targeting and addressing intelligence-type matters, which until recently monopolized most meetings across Iraq.Where is the MSM on this? They're basically pulling an Officer Barbrady: "Nothing to see here. Move along, please."