December 31, 2007
Ol' Fred Makes His Pitch
To the voters of Iowa.
"I know who I am, I know what I believe, and I'm ready to lead."
And a pretty darn good pitch, I'd say.
December 30, 2007
That is all.
Fuming Yips! from Gary:
As Don Adams used to say, "Missed by that much". One thing I'm sure of, though, after watching (most of) that game. He can be beaten. And a team better than the Giants can do it. I don't expect New York to make it as far as the NFC Championship game. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Brett Favre take 'em on in the Superbowl.
Of course, I'd laugh my butt off if the Patsies went through all of this and somehow didn't make it to the big game.
December 28, 2007
More Good Llama Nooz
I got word this afternoon that our Llama Military Correspondent is back in the States. There is even a possibility that he'll make it back to the highly secure grounds of Fort LMC for New Year's Eve. The Missus and I have been celebrating this day with the LMC and Mrs. LMC for something like 15 or 16 years now, and it would be outstanding if he gets there in time.
Yip! Yip! Yip!
Between that Travel IQ thingy and this video (over and over)...
I ain't gettin' nothing done today.
Language heads-up on the video - use earphones (the word "inappropriate" was invented for exactly this sort of thing).
Python Segue In 3...2...
The story immediately brought this clip to mind:
Huck-A-Bust In 3...2...
Sliding back to 17% from the 23% high of last week, according to Rasmussen Daily.
No one candidate the main beneficiary.
Where In The World?
Confess! Even if you are at your computer, you're not doing anything productive this afternoon.
Therefore, I present for your consideration the Traveler IQ Challenge. You simply use your mouse to click the (unlabeled) map of the world at the spots indicated. Points are awarded based on accuracy and speed.
I got as far as Level 10 and would have made it further except for some embarrassing bad guesses about African countries and obscure islands. My grand total score was 367,434 and my Travel IQ was 111.
Yips! to Dave Barry.
UPDATE: It seems you can take the test more than once with different questions. Got to Level 10 again, but an IQ of 114 and a score of 392, 598. I might have done better if I hadn't been talking to a Llama-ette on the phone, or if I could finally convince myself that Suriname is indeed a country in South America.
So what are you waiting for? Taken the test already? Do it again!
In The Name Of The Ozone, The Rainforest and the Holy Carbon Credits
Brendan O'Neill lays into the Archbish of Canterbury over his eco-friendly Christmas sermon:
They say we get the leaders we deserve. We also get the bishops we deserve. And in an age of petty piety, where relativistic non-judgementalism coexists with new codes of personal morality, giving rise to a Mary Poppins State more than a Nanny State, it’s fitting that the Archbishop of Canterbury is a trendy schoolteacher type who dispenses hectoring ethical advice with a smarmy grin rather than with fire-and-brimstone relish.
In his Christmas sermon, delivered at Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Williams finally completed his journey from old-world Christianity to trendy New Ageism. His sermon was indistinguishable from those delivered (not just at Christmas but for life) by the heads of Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth. Williams did not speak about Christian morality; in fact, he didn’t utter the m-word at all. He said little about men’s responsibility to love one another and God, the two Commandments Jesus Christ said we should live by. Instead he talked about our role as janitors on planet Earth, who must stop plundering the ‘warehouse of natural resources’ and ensure that we clean up after ourselves.
Williams has clearly been reading the Good Books – not the Bible, but those Carbon Calculator tomes that are clogging up bookshop shelves around the country, and which instruct people on how to live so meekly that they leave no imprint whatsoever on the planet or human history. He said that Earth does not exist only for ‘humanity’s sake’; it also exists ‘in its own independence and beauty… not as a warehouse of resources to serve humanity’s selfishness’.
O'Neill, an atheist himself, notes that this is a widespread theme in the modern Church:
Williams isn’t the only leading Christian who has sold his soul to Gaia and traded in Christian morality for the pieties of environmentalism. The Reverend John Owen, leader of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, said in his Christmas sermon that everyone should remember his or her ‘duty to the planet’. He urged people to recycle leftover food, and ‘redouble [your] efforts to take action and campaign against climate change’ in the coming year (2). Meanwhile, the Vatican is taking steps to become the world’s first carbon-neutral sovereign state by planting trees in a Hungarian national park to offset the CO2 emissions of the Holy See. Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, says that in 2008 there should be the ‘dawn of a new culture, of new attitudes and a new mode of living that makes man aware of his place as caretaker of the earth’ (3).
The reduction of man to an eco-janitor, a being who creates waste and thus must clear it up, is more than a cynical attempt by isolated Christian leaders to connect with the public. Yes, Williams, Owen, the Holy See and Co. no doubt hope and believe (mistakenly, I’m sure) that adopting trendy Greenspeak will entice people to return to the church. But the move from focusing on love for God and one’s neighbour to focusing on ‘respect for the planet’ represents more than a rebranding exercise: it signals a complete abandonment by the Christian churches of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. And in this sense, it is not only God that is being downgraded by the new nature-worshipping priests; so is humanity itself. And that’s enough to make even a committed atheist like me worry about the current direction of the Christian churches.
Indeed. And with good reason:
Christians and atheists may have spent much of the past 200 years at each other’s throats, but they inhabited the same moral plane. Theirs was literally a struggle for the soul of humanity. Today, by contrast, Christian leaders have abandoned questions of morality and free will. They now view people as little more than waste managers, ‘caretakers’, eco-binmen, whose job is to sweep up after themselves and keep the planet in good nick. Instead of remaking the world in anybody’s image – whether it be God’s, man’s, Buddha’s or L Ron Hubbard’s – man must simply adapt to his surroundings like an amoeba; indeed, he must minimise as much as possible his impact on the planet. Old Christians taught us that ‘the Kingdom of God is within you’ (4), which was their flawed way of saying that man is a sovereign being, free and morally responsible. Today Christians say: ‘You are merely guests in the Warehouse of Resources. So be quiet, don’t get any ideas above your station, and please shut the door when you leave.’
The cult of environmentalism embraced by the Christian churches does away with morality altogether. Some sceptics claim that environmentalism is a new form of moralistic hectoring; it is better to see it as amoralistic hectoring. In judging everything by how much CO2 or pollution it creates, environmentalism dispenses with questions of moral worth and judgement. So a flight to visit a newborn nephew in Australia (5.61 tonnes of CO2) is as wicked as taking a flight to Barbados to lounge in the sun; and the transportation of delicious food from Africa to Britain is as unforgivable as the transportation of weapons and drugs from Latin America to Los Angeles: after all, both involve exploiting the ‘warehouse of resources’ and upsetting the ‘fragile balance of species and environments’, as Williams put it (5). When human actions are judged by their levels of pollution alone, the issue of meaning – of why we do things, who we do them for, and how we might do them better – is implicitly downgraded.
This is why in his Christmas sermon, the Archbishop of Canterbury quoted extensively, not from the Bible, but from Richard Dawkins, who is considered by many to be the Rottweiler of the New Atheism. What today’s eco-Christians and New Atheists share in common is a view of man as animalistic and degraded, as a ‘mammal’ (as Christopher Hitchens describes us in his book God is Not Great) which ought to take its place alongside other mammals on this mortal coil. On the way in which religion distorts people’s minds, Hitchens writes: ‘What else was to be expected of something that was produced by the close cousins of chimpanzees?’ (6) Where Williams and other eco-Christians see mankind as merely a cog in the planetary wheel, Hitchens and other New Atheists see mankind as only the sum of his genes, still, in essence, a monkey.
If yesterday’s Christians and atheists inhabited the same moral plane, fighting tooth and nail over the purpose of mankind, today’s eco-Christians and New Atheists inhabit the same amoral plane, bickering with each other but also frequently agreeing that man is a bit of a shit.
Read the rest. I think he may overstate the case a bit, at least as far as the Vatican is concerned, and I obviously would disagree with his atheism, but I think he absolutely nails the underlying moral issue.
Yips! to Arts & Letters Daily.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
Up last evening was Troy (2004).
I expected this flick to be a dog and I wasn't in the least disappointed. Indeed, it looked exactly what I imagined a cheesy blockbuster 2004 version of The Iliad would look. Except that there was no Angelina Jolie. I had thought there was going to be some Angelina Jolie, so in that sense I was disappointed. However, Saffron Burrows, as the wife of Hector, wasn't too shabby.
But I digress. The film was clunky, the story devoid of all the poetry that made the original great and badly at odds with Homer on many points, the characters impossibly modern and shallow and the action, frankly, rayther dull after a while. And I can only assume that the utter lack of participation by the gods was some kind of "statement" on the part of the director. (Indeed, the insertion of the Stalinesque crack about the number of battalions Apollo commands was particularly snide.) Oh, and correct me if I am mistaken, but I always thought that the King of Sparta's name was pronounced "Men-uh-LAY-uhs". For reasons unfathomable, everybody here called him "Men-uh-lowse". Made him sound unclean. Or was that the point?
I won't even bother about Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom. Puh-lease. And Peter O'Toole (who played Priam) ought to be ashamed of himself. Surely he didn't need the money?
But. BUT. There was one semi-bright spot to the film. I thought that Sean Bean was a good choice as Odysseus:
Odysseus was, of course, an extremely shifty fellah, full of tricks, strategems and outright lies. (If memory serves, Dante puts him in one of the circles of hell for this.) Bean has got that sly look about him that allows him to pull off this kind of character very well. (That's why he's so good as Richard Sharpe, too.) And it occured to me as I watched him that this was also why I never bought him as Boromir in LOTR. Boromir is described time and again as being of a lordly, noble appearance. He's blunt, a simple warrior preferring the straightforward. Indeed, I wouldn't go so far as to call Boromir simple-minded, but I would say that all of his thinking hangs on a relatively small set of clear and uncomplicated principles. To me, Bean was never able to convey that. He looked too calculating.
Sorry. But if I digress again it's because I really don't have anything else to say about Troy itself. Robbo's Rating: No Yips! for you! Don't even bother.
The SI Curse?
Ah HA! Evil Bill makes the cover of Sports Illustrated just before my Giants host them at the Meadowlands.
Knowing the history of SI covers and the bad omens they usually portend, could it be that the Patsies are in for an upset (and a dashing of hopes for the perfect 16-0 record) this Saturday evening?
Oh please, oh please, oh please!!!!!
Yips! from Robbo: Help us, Obi-Wan Coughlin! You're our only hope!
Light Fuse, Stand Back - Domestic Division
The eldest Llama-ette is close to finishing Old Yeller, which she's reading for the first time. She hasn't the faintest idea what's in store. This could get ugly.
December 27, 2007
It's Never Too Early....
For those Moo-Knu Year's resolutions.
Mine? Tackle the ol' blogroll. No, really. I mean it this time.
Step One will be to hack out all the dead links, as well as the ones that I frankly do not read any more.
Step Two will be to add some very richly deserving blogs that I do read but have to get to via other sites or google searches.
Ultimately, I hope that we Llamas can come out with a new blogroll format that mirrors the eventual new look to this place. [Insert sound of accusatory throat-clearing here.] My thought is that we all have a common set of regular reads that we can amalgamate into one list. Beyond that, each of us can have our extra set of personal favorites set out in individual lists. It strikes me that this will cover the waterfront pretty well.
SOOPER SEKRET MESSAGE TO THE REST OF THE LLAMAS: Steve-O? Gary, Chai? LMC? Since we've hoomed and hommed about this for months but not actually done anything, I'm a-gonna just get busy and start cutting and pasting. My apologies if I axe something you want - feel free to stick it back in. As for the formatting thingee, unless one of you has a better idea, just follow my lead.
Gratuitous Post-Christmas Rumination
I have to admit that as important as Christmas (and Easter) are to me from a religious point of view, the actual physical celebration of these holidays in church typically leaves me feeling rayther flat, and is not nearly so spiritually satisfying as an ordinary Sunday's worship.
I suppose this is due primarily to the influx of the C&E crowd, those people who only attend church at Christmas and Easter, and often do so only because they're tagging along with relatives or friends, because they want to show off or because they retain a faint, vestigial sense that it's the right thing to do. It isn't just that such people don't know the drill. It isn't just that in order to accomodate them the clergy have to juggle worship schedules and generally dumb down the services. It isn't just that they typically have very bad manners, gabbing, fussing and strutting all the way through. Instead, it's a combination of all of these things, coupled with an admittedly unworthy sense of resentment on my part, that often times hopelessly distracts me from the things on which I ought really to be concentrating.
Typically I find the need to slip off on my own after such a service and spend a little time in solitary devotion to, as it were, make up for what I've squandered in church on cranky fuming.
Of course, I've always witnessed this in the context of TEC, which is notorious for this kind of thing. (It has been my sense that the C&E phenomenon is largely a mainline Protestant issue, although I could be quite mistaken about this.) It will be very interesting to see if my perspective changes once I've completed my swim of the Tiber (which will occur at Easter, btw, and which promises to be a veritable cornucopia of distractions as my family comes face-to-face with things).
Bhutto Assassination Is A Wake-Up Call
For the American electorate. It's time to stop all this silliness over the candidates' religious chops and start focusing on the most important issue we face today. JPod puts things back into perspective:
It is a sobering and frightening reminder of the challenges and threats and dangers posed to the United States by radical Islam, the nature of the struggle being waged against the effort to extend democratic freedoms in the Muslim world, and the awful possibility of a nuclear Pakistan overrun by Islamofascists. This is what the next president will be compelled by circumstance to spend a plurality of his or her time on. This is what really matters, not the cross Mike Huckabee lit up behind his head in his Christmas ad.Amen to that.
American politics would dearly love to take a holiday from history, just as it did in the 1990s. But our enemies are not going to allow us to do so. The murder of Bhutto moves foreign policy, the war on terror, and the threat of Islamofascism back into the center of the 2008 campaign. How candidates respond to it, and issues like it that will come up in the next 10 months, will determine whether they are fit for the presidency.
December 26, 2007
Guaran-damn-teed To Drive The Lefties Completely Mental
Jonah Goldberg's new book.
Yips! from Robbo: I pre-ordered a copy months and months ago. Alas, I got it from the devil's website instead of from NRO, so no signing for me.
I think it's great that Jonah is getting published and all and I'm sure the book is going to be good, but I confess to some regrets that he is growing up. His old G-File columns used to make me double over with laughter while getting their point home. But the past couple years (as he's been writing this book, in fact), he's gotten somewhat more....stuffy. Of course, I'm well aware that an author has to grow and that trying to do the same shtick beyond its expiration date is a recipe for flame-out (see O'Rourke, P.J.), but I'm hoping that Jonah is able to somehow keep the wit and spark that powered his old writings alive and well as he matures.
Of course, once I read the book I'll post a review.
Eight Days Out
After what seems like a campaign that's been waged forEVAH, we're just over one week away from the first contest (thanks to plenty of childish shenanigans over who gets to go first).
At this point, honestly, I don't see You-Know-Who on the Democrat side losing. Her campaign, her organization, her control over that party apparatus, forget it. She's all but won already. Don't believe the press.
As to the Republican side? Eh, it's anybody's guess. I suspect that the air is coming out of the Huck-a-balloon. He may very well finish first in Iowa, but with four other viable contenders Huckabee doesn't have the organization to capitalize on such a win. Plus anything short of a double digit victory will be seen as underperforming.
Fred ain't dead. Yet. His presence in the race didn't make the impact some had predicted but I suspect he'll pull a couple of surprises in the standings between now and Thermonuclear Tuesday on February 5th.
McCain is set to do well in New Hampshire with the help of independents who can legally crash the primary. It's doubtful that it'll prove to be enough to move him forward but as the rats abandon the sinking S.S. Huckabee, he may pick up more support in South Carolina and even Florida.
Rudy needs to depend on a muddled field by the time Florida rolls around but if all the stars align and She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is declared the winner on the other side, a Giuliani nomination just might take off.
Romney is positioned for early wins (or strong showings) and has the resources and infrastructure in his campaign to slog it over the long haul. But will that be enough to gain the necessary momentum one month after Iowa when almost thirty states have a go all in one day?
The only thing I know from watching this play out over the last six or seven months is that the convential wisdom is usually slow to catch on with reality by about two or three weeks. It certainly promises to be an interesting ride through the month of January.
The 11-year old was in hog heaven yesterday morning when he tore the wrapping off of this baby:
Hard to come by? You betcha. The truth is I picked one up about a week or two before Thanksgiving and it took diligence - DILIGENCE I tell ya! - to find the only one at a Gamestop some thirty miles away. Whew.
My condolences to those of you folks who busted your humps trying to land a Wii game system in the weeks before Christmas only to end up empty-handed. I spent a great deal of effort playing up the "unavailability" angle to my son to keep him wondering whether or not Dad was going to deliver. I think he actually resigned himself to the idea that it was a long-shot.
Now here's a dirty little secret about the "unavailability" of this thing that you don't hear about. I have it on good authority that a common occurence at your local Wal-mart/Target/Gamestop/Toys R Us (or pick any other retailer who carries them) is for some enterprising sales clerks to buy as many as possible upon their delivery - then turn around and sell them on eBay for as much as 100% profit!
Nothing illegal about it and far be it from me to knock the opportunism of our market capitalist system.
But all I can say is - you fargin' sneaky bastages!!!!
December 25, 2007
Of Course You Know This Means War
It's the Flingshot Flying Monkey.
My brother sent three of these things to the Llama-ettes for Christmas. The gels discovered their blood-curdling shriek-making capacity at about 6:30 ack emma.
When I was about eight or so, we picked up a couple of toy chattering skulls for Halloween. Miraculously, one of them survived and over the years it has become something of a family tradition -particularly between Mom and my brother - to booby-trap one another with it at unexpected times and in unexpected places. When I saw the Flying Monkeys this morning, I immediately realized that John had decided to take things up a notch.
When I spoke to him a while ago, I vowed that I'm going to get him if it's the last thing I ever do. He laughed heartily.
December 24, 2007
The Best Christmas Present
We received word at Orgle Manor this morning that our Llama Military Correspondent has formally turned over his command and is at this moment at Baghdad Int'l awaiting a flight to Kuwait.
How sweet is that?
THE LLAMABUTCHERS PRESENT: THE LLAMABUTCHER YULE LOG
What's the blog equivalent of the old WPIX Channel 11 yule log---a tee vee channel running a live feed of a fireplace? How about youtubes of a video watching an old record player playing Bing Crosby's White Christmas album?
Play this while reading the post below.
YULETIDE UDATE YIPS from Steve-O: How about a little White Christmas, LLamabutcher Yule BLog style?
THIS ONE'S FOR MY MOM: See you late Wednesday or early Thursday, Mom!
ONE MORE for now: Bonus points for coming up with quality naughty lyrics to this one:
The (now) traditional Christmas Eve post
From Christmas 2004:
My most powerful and clear memory of Christmas as a child is from a year that I cannot place: I might have been eleven or twelve, probably no more than thirteen. The year doesn't matter.
That Christmas was my first as an altar boy that I was old enough to be the crucifer, to lead the procession into the church. Christmas Vigil mass was always the best one of the year to attend at, as the red cassocks were broken out for that one occasion. There was always something about the stained glass windows too---they were shining brightly to the outside world, but inside they were oddly black, which always seemed fitting and appropriate at Holy Thursday as well as when walking Stations of the Cross, but seemed out of place for Christmas Eve. We would always line up in the vestibule next to the sacristy, and I can remember how dark it was in that hallway, the smell of the incense swirling, the heat of the candles behind me, the door in front of me with the mass schedule tacked to it. There were probably seven of us in line, plus the pastor. He would wait for us to stop fidgeting, and then would say, "Okay, boys, He's waiting" and the door would open.
I remember the door opening that night stepping off from the darkness of the hallway into the light of the church. The smell of the fir and the incense combined with the heat of the breath of the people smashing into the sound.
I have never felt anything in my life before or since like the feeling of stepping into that sound:
Venite, venite in Bethlehem
Venite adoremus Dominum.
The feeling when that first Adeste hit me sent a wave through me, a feeling that became hardwired into me whenever I now hear those opening notes of Oh Come All Ye Faithful. The rest is a blur, of that day, and of Christmases growing up. But that one moment will be with me as long as I live.
Years later, after he retired, I asked our pastor about what he would always say, "Okay, boys, He's waiting." I'd had some semeters of theology in college and wanted to talk about the idea of the Incarnation and all. He looked at me and laughed, not realizing the joke was on him.
"Steve, I was refering to Mr. Mostoway, the organist. He'd always get impatient and start playing faster if we didn't start on time."
Merry Christmas, everybody.
Of course, the joke was on me and Father Shields knew what he was talking about.
Merry Christmas to all. Merry Christmas to you and yours, and Merry Christmas indeed to all the denizens of Orgle Manor. Thank you, Robbo, for being crazy enough to agree to join in on this partnership 4 years ago. It means so very much to me.
LMC---God bless you and your brave colleagues in Mother Army. Thank you for standing watch while foppish wretches like me go about my selfish, insular lives.
Chai-Rista---Merry Saturnalia, or whatever Festivus-esque thing The Big Heat's got cooked up for the week, in particular. Enjoy a fine week of world class BBQ, bottlerockets shot off the front porch, gallons of homebrew cough syrup, and may Santa leave you Kurt Russell, naked and scruffy, in your stocking!
December 23, 2007
Merry Christmas From The Llamas!
The Nativity, Antonio Allegri da Correggio (about 1530)
Regular readers will know that it's been a veeeery eeeeenteresting year around here, religiously speaking. However, no matter which way were are moving and which side of the Tiber we eventually find ourselves on, I think I'm right in saying that all of us Llamas would agree that this is the true spirit of the season:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2: 8-14
Yes, indeed. It's come to the point where I can't even read that passage without getting an involuntary lump in the ol' throat.
Very best wishes to you and yours from all of us here at Llama Central. And I'll see you on the other side.
Yip! Yip! Yip!
YIPS from Steve-O: So beautifully said, the only thing I can say is, "Robbo, you a pirate."
Merry Christmas, y'all.
December 22, 2007
What do you do in the film industry after, at age thirteen, you play a nine year old double dog dared into sticking your tongue to a frozen flagpole?
Take Me To Your Leader
|I received 71 credits on
The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz
How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?
|Take the Sci-Fi Movie Quizdigital camera ratings|
Your Score : 71 credits
You're a major sci-fi geek! Do you speak Klingon?
The truth is that I'm not a major sci-fi geek. I just have pretty good ears. (And no, they're not pointy.)
Yips! to Jonah.
I Got A Baaaaad Feeling About This
Em, Gillian Anderson will start hosting Masterpiece Theatre in January, kicking off the new season with a series of dramatizations of all six of Jane Austen's novels.
I gave up on MPT years and years ago, but even so, the press release announcing the program's overhaul fills me with apprehension:
In January, 2008, Masterpiece Theatre will introduce a new look, new scheduling, and the first of three new hosts for 2008. Gillian Anderson, well known to Masterpiece Theatre fans for her Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated performance as Lady Dedlock in Bleak House, will make her debut as the host of Masterpiece Classic on The Complete Jane Austen, the highly anticipated showcase of all six of Austen's novels, premiering Sunday, January 13, 2008 on PBS.
"Gillian is the perfect choice to represent the new Masterpiece Classic," says executive producer Rebecca Eaton. "Through Bleak House, we learned just how passionate she is about the kind of programming we offer. And she's incredibly versatile: How many other actors would choose to go from The X-Files to Charles Dickens?"
"I am a huge supporter of Masterpiece Theatre and the quality and integrity of its programming," said Anderson. "And if my hosting the first season brings a new generation of viewers to the classics, then I'm proud to be a part of it."
A new Masterpiece Classic host is not the only change coming to the series in January. Viewers can look forward to a schedule that breaks the year into three "seasons," each with its own host, stunning graphics, and fresh take on the series' famous theme music. In winter and spring, Masterpiece Classic will feature signature period dramas. In summer, Masterpiece Mystery! will present the best British mysteries, and in fall, Masterpiece Contemporary will show dramas set in modern times.
"Our viewers told us that they miss having a host to lead them into the programs," said Eaton. "In 2008, we're going a step further, bringing on three hosts to the series — each with a true appreciation for the genre they represent. We'll also introduce a new, elegant on-air look, a redesigned, feature-rich website, and a schedule that will help make our content easier to find. What won't change is the caliber of our programming."
Um. Miss Austen could not be reached for comment.
And what is this "fresh take on the series' famous theme music" business. That theme, btw, is a fanfare written by a French baroque composer named Jean-Joseph Mouret. What are they going to do, score it for electric bass?
HOT HOT Stove League Update
Well, it looks like the first part of the blockbuster Vatican Crusaders/Canterbury Caterwaulers trade is becoming official: Tony Blair has passed his physical and is joining the Rome Team, to be followed in Spring Training by Robbo, while I've cleared waivers and am already suiting up for Anglican United.
Yips! from Robbo: As it happens, the Missus went to tea this afternoon with what I've taken to calling the Episcopal Widows' Club. My ears have been burning something fierce.
December 21, 2007
LLAMABUTCHERS CHRISTMAS OFFICE PARTY--DAY TWO--LATE NIGHT TROUBLE
CLASSIC CHRISTMAS MOVIE ENDINGS III
No comments necessary:
"To my big brother George, the richest man in town."
Thanks to The Abbot for reminding me about this little gem: the alternate ending. LOL!
CLASSIC CHRISTMAS MOVIE ENDINGS II
The very best version of "A Christmas Carol" -
Alistair Sim is the Best.Scrooge.Evaaaaahhhh!
And damn you, Ted Turner for colorizing this masterpiece!!!! (no embed code available for the BW version. Grrr.)
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
The Simpsons (2007)
Yes, I finally saw it.
My chief fear had been that the movie was going to go off in some horrible direction at an oblique angle from the tee vee show. The good news is that it doesn't. Indeed, the plot isn't really much more than a somewhat extended version of what typically shows up on Sunday nights. The bad news also is that the plot isn't really much more than a somewhat extended version of what typically shows up on Sunday nights, because it serves to remind us once again that the whole Simpsons franchise is well past its prime and nothing like it was in its glory days of seven or eight years back.
All in all? Eh, it was okay. Don't know if I'd bother with it again, tho.
Incidentally, the thing that grabbed me the most was the fact that the animation technique was much closer to that of Futurama than the Simpsons tee vee show. I kept half expecting Bender to do a walk on. I'd like to see him and Bart facing off in a Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon-type showdown.
Like You Were Doing Any Work Anyway
It's Shoot Down Santa and, by golly, it's pretty durn hard. The crosshairs are hard to see and having to constantly move about you tend to lose track of where you're shooting.
I managed to score 950 on the "easy" level.
Light Fuse, Stand Back (Christmas Special Version)
Snow Miser v. Heat Miser
Which one would win the steel-cage death match? Discuss (and support your answer).
CLASSIC CHRISTMAS MOVIE ENDINGS
Scrooged - We love ya, Bill:
"Put a little love in your heart"
For those who want the whole song (Annie Lennox/Al Green) here ya go:
OKAY, BACK TO THE PARTY!
Sorry if the aside below was a bit of a buzz-kill. Mrs. P's 100% Guaranteed Anti-Serious Sourpuss Catholic Blogger Tonic ought to get us back into the swing of things:
Okay, taking a break from the Llama Office Party, Day 2 for just a moment, I was intrigued by Wendy Shalit's article over at OpinionJournal this morning on what may actually be a legitimate, burgeoning cultural counter-revolution:
Sensing the makings of a more conservative generation, Phillip Longman, writing in the Harvard Business Review, warned readers in the February issue to "think twice" about touting sexually explicit video games: "Businesses that have relied on sex to sell products . . . could provoke boycotts or outright bans." Today's sexy marketing campaigns "could come to be seen as relics of a decadent past." This is what happened in 2005 when teenage girls successfully "girlcotted" Abercrombie & Fitch's "attitude tees." It wasn't parents but the girls themselves who succeeded in getting the clothing retailer to pull the shirts with sayings such as "Who Needs Brains When You Have These?"
On several occasions in recent years, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy has found that twice as many adults as teens answered "yes" to this question: "Do you think it is embarrassing for teens to admit they are virgins?" I now have a whole email folder filled with tales of this generational disconnect. A 19-year-old wrote to me after her mother pressured her to go to bars during the workweek. When mom packed her off with 12 condoms on a trip to India, the girl wondered: "Am I really going to have so much sex in the Third World?" I heard from a 16-year-old whose parents think she is "Victorian" because "excuse me if sex is not my favorite dinner topic."
And then there's my favorite email, received in October: "When I was about 12," reports a 23-year-old woman, "my baby boomer mother came up to me one day after school, and appraising my typical baggy t-shirt and jeans said, 'you really ought to start wearing smaller shirts. That's what the boys want.' I of course just blushed and mumbled something like 'OK, mom.' Now that I'm older I realize that instead of just being embarrassed, I could have said, 'what about what I want?' "
People sometimes forget that Victorian propriety was a direct backlash against the excesses of the late Georgian era preceding it. Mom has been predicting for some time now a similar backlash against Boomer hedonism in general, and the "Sexual Revolution"*** in particular. Articles like this one suggest that this is starting to occur. What I find especially interesting about it is that the revolt and the demand for higher standards apparently is coming from the younger generations. The kids are alright.
***SOOPER-SEKRET NOTE TO FEMINISTS: You do know by now that the "Sexual Revolution" was nothing more than a fraud fadged up by a bunch of hipster doofuses and sold to you so they could carry on without any responsibilities, right? Right?
A LITTLE CHRISTMAS PARTY CHEER TO GO
Here's a little something for those of you hitting the road to see loved ones for the Holidays:
LLAMABUTCHERS CHRISTMAS OFFICE PARTY--DAY TWO
Run run reindeer, baby!
HAIR OF THE DOG
Nursing the Llamabutchers Christmas Office Party hangover...
December 20, 2007
A Retro Kitsch Christmas: Madison Avenue Style
"...it's the real thing..."
Yips! from Robbo: I'm on that one, too -
I actually saw this commercial on tee vee the other day and realized I never, ever got tired of it.
AND NOW TO REIGN IT IN A BIT WITH THE MORE TRADITIONAL
Ah, The Carpenters:
Yips! from Robbo: Ha! You want to go retro kitsch, little man?
WE INTERRUPT THIS OFFICE PARTY FOR A SPECIAL "HUH?" BULLETIN
Bill Parcells has officially joined the Miami Dolphins.
Parcells, 66, faxed a finalized copy of his contract to the Dolphins Thursday morning, according to a source close to the situation. Parcells is set to become the Dolphins' executive vice president for football operations.
The team was still not commenting on the issue as of noon, but a formal announcement was being planned.
He is scheduled to do an interview at 4 p.m. Thursday on ESPN's NFL Live. Parcells, currently a studio analyst for ESPN, is expected to remain with the network through the weekend games.
He is expected to come to South Florida for a formal introduction no earlier than Wednesday.
[Insert Keanu Reeves-like "Whoa" here.]
Speaking of the 'Fins, I am here and now issuing the OFFICIAL ROBBO THE LLAMA TRUTH OR DARE/HAIL MARY CHALLENGE: If.....I say IF the 'Fins manage the impossible and knock off the Pats this weekend, I, Robbo the LLama, will accept any posting dare that you can come up with. Picture or post, doesn't matter - You request it, I'll do it.
Drop your suggestions right 'cheer.
Yips! from Gary:
Sorry, Robbo. Looks like he ain't gonna be coaching, though. Kind of like "The Hobbit" without Peter Jackson directing. Oh well. Have some more of this monster egg nog my brother made with lighter fluid.**
**spot the quote
Haaaaa!!! Ha! Ha!! Ha!!! Ha!!!!
That is all.
AND THE LLAMA HIGH-LARITY CONTINUES!
Christmas at Ground Zero:
MORE LLAMA CHRISTMAS OFFICE PARTY HIJINX
Merry Christmas, m'kay?
(It was this or "Merry Effin' Christmas" and I didn't want to go all NSFW during an office party.)
So, I see the boys are having an office party and failed to invite me.
But since they forgot to take the spare keys back, I'll simply crash. I've done it before. I can do it again.
Somehow, when you show up with a bottle of Jack and some roasted chipmunk, it generally turns out that they don't mind all that much.
MORE LLAMA CHRISTMAS OFFICE PARTY - ARCHIVE DIVISION
Now that we've all had a couple rounds of spiked punch, let's get out the vid of one of our Llama parties from a few years back before we got all respectable n' stuff. (That's Steve-O with the glasses):
AND NOW BACK TO THE LLAMABUTCHERS CHRISTMAS OFFICE PARTY
Soooooo '80's. Love that hair:
When Ya Gotta Go Down Undah
It's the Aussie National Public Toilet Map.
I demand an immediate pledge from each of the presidential candidates that they will make a 'Murican Public Toilet Map a top priority for their first 100 days.
We interupt this Office Party with the latest from the Hot Stove League: How do you think Ted Williams fought all those Nazis? Roids, I tell ya.
Let he who has not extracted the secretions from a grizzly bear's pituitary gland and injected it straight into his butt cast the first stone:
All I Want For Christmas...
...is for my wife to not make me sit through "Love, Actually" for the fifteen BILLIONTH time.
I'll settle for this clip, which for me is the high point of the movie.
LLAMABUTCHERS CHRISTMAS OFFICE PARTY
Letterman at least get's something right once a year:
I always love Paul Shafer looks like Beaker in the background.
LLAMABUTCHERS CHRISTMAS OFFICE PARTY
Gary, I'll see you your Paul McCartney and raise you the Waitresses:
This is a homemade video version---for some reason the real video isn't on youtube.
Yips! from Gary:
Nope, there ain't no video version by the band itself. Trust me, I looked.
This gal does a decent job though.
A Wonderful Christmas Time
Yeah, the chorus is pretty dang monotonous, but this one always brings back nice memories - not the least of which was Paul McCartney at his zenith, before he was dragged through the press with a messy divorce.
"...so lift a glass, and don't look down..."
December 19, 2007
Merry Christmas to you all
I think I'm going to start the LLamabutchers Christmas Party twelve hours early:
Blogging: The Man Who Started It All
Ten years ago this past Monday, Jorn Barger was the first to coin the phrase "Weblog" for his website.
And here he is:
This is actually what comes to mind when I think of a Kos Kid or a poster at DemocraticUngerground.
Yips! from Robbo: I swear that this guy is a dead ringer for my long-lost Uncle Dave. Yikes.
Light posting for the rest of the day, I think. The bug I've been fighting off for some time finally caught up with me during the office party yesterday afternoon, so now I'm home with a ringing head, cranky attitude and achy joints.
As I sometimes do when feeling ill on cold, damp days, I plan to put on a fresh pot of coffee, grab some extra blankets and curl up in front of Lawrence of Arabia. Mmmmmm.....sand and sun....mmmmmm.......
Gary? Chai-Rista? Your play.
UPDATE: Ah, that's teh stuff. It's a curious thing about these old Omar Sharif blockbusters: 90 seconds into the first round of "Lara's Theme" from Dr. Zhivago and I'm frantically reaching for the scissors in order to puncture my own eardrums. But I never get sick of the theme from Lawrence in all its permutations. I suppose this is because I've always been a sucker for musick reminiscent of the Turk, the Tatar, Pharoah or far Araby.
Light Fuse, Stand Back - "Oh. My. God." Division
This is easily one of the most horrifying articles I've read in a looooong time:
At another point, a few years later, I did have an abortion. I was a single mother, working and pursuing a path to ordination in the Episcopal Church. The potential father was not someone I would have married; he would have been no better a candidate for fatherhood than my daughter's absent father. The timing was wrong, the man was wrong, and I easily, though not happily, made the decision to terminate the pregnancy.
I have not the slightest regret about either of these decisions, nor the slightest guilt. I felt sorrow and loss at the time of my abortion, but less so than when I'd miscarried some years earlier. Both of my choices, I believe, were right for me and my circumstances: morally correct in their context, practical, and fruitful in their outcomes.
That is, both choices were choices for life: in the first instance, I chose for the life of the unborn child; in the second, I chose for my own vocational life, my economic stability, and my mental and emotional health and wholeness.
Shortly after my ordination to the priesthood, I was asked to speak at the National Abortion Federation's annual meeting, on a Clergy Panel, with the theme of "Abortion as a Moral Choice." I wondered skeptically who would attend such a panel, but to my surprise, the room was packed with people - abortion providers and other clinic workers. Our audience was so eager and grateful to hear their work affirmed, to hear religious authorities assuring them that God was on their side! I understood that I had a responsibility, indeed, a call, as a pro-choice religious professional, to speak out and to advocate publicly for women's reproductive rights and health, and I have tried to be faithful to that call.
To talk theologically about women's right to choose is to talk about justice, equality, health and wholeness, and respect for the full humanity and autonomy of every woman. Typically, as moral theologians, we discuss the value of potential life (the fetus) as against the value of lived life - the mature and relational life of a woman deciding her capacity to continue or terminate a pregnancy. And we believe that, in general, the value of that actual life outweighs the value of the potential.
I like to talk, as well, in terms of gift and of calling. I believe that all life is a gift - not only potential life, but life developing and ripening with its many challenges, complications, joys and sorrows. When we face difficult reproductive choices we balance many gifts, many goods, and to fail to recognize the gifts of our accomplished lives is to fail to recognize God's ongoing blessing. I believe as well that God calls us all to particular vocations, and our decisions about whether and when to bear children are part of that larger pattern of our lives' sacred meanings.
Ponder that for just a minute. This "priest"*** is not even arguing that employing abortion-as-birth-control (which is what she did) is a sometimes necessary evil. She's arguing that it's a positive moral good. In other words, act as irresponsibly as you want, destroy whoever or whatever you need to in order to duck the consequences and God will back you up!
Christ have mercy.
(***Insert your own "Quis custodiet?" jokes here. I don't see this exclusively as an Episcopal Church problem, but rayther more an example of unrepentant Boomer hedonism, which is not confined to the ranks of TEC.)
DOCTRINAL YIPS from Steve-O: Yes, it's getting hot and heavy in the comments section, a battle of converts between pissed off former Anglicans now Catholics versus pissed off former Catholics now Anglican. Yessir, entertainment that previously you'd have to be tapping into the home security video cameras at Vince McMahon's house to be able to enjoy. It's inspired me to post this, perhaps the greatest ode to the season of joy ever made. God bless you all:
Is Huck Revving Up That Motorcycle?
With just over two weeks to go until Iowa, Mike Huckabee's lead is starting to recede.
On the Republican side, among (833) likely voters, here are the numbers: Huckabee 28, Romney 25, Thompson 10, McCain 9, Paul 6, Giuliani 6. Among (418) highly likely voters, Romney leads with 28%, then Huckabee 25, Thompson 11, McCain 7, Paul 6, Giuliani 5, Tancredo 4.
Looks like the shark is being prepared for the big jump.
Never let it be said that Pelosi hasn't accomplished anything as speaker
Surely bold leadership like this warrants an entire book by Stephen Skowronek:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have left her progressive instincts at the barn door when she drove a starch-, sugar- and fat-bloated bill that all but left out organic farmers through the House last summer, but when it comes to food for Congress, it's out with high-fructose corn syrup and in with uncaged hens and hormone-free milk. Under Pelosi's signature "Green the Capitol" initiative, the House cafeterias will get a full-blown makeover Monday to the very latest in organic and locally grown cuisine under a new contract with Restaurant Associates, caterer to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The vast House food service operation that feeds the belly of the beast - more than 2.5 million meals a year for members, staff, tourists, lobbyists, lawyers, journalists and other highly regarded species that inhabit the Capitol - is switching to locally grown, organic, seasonal and generally healthy food. It will be served in compostable sugar cane and corn starch containers instead of petroleum-based plastics. Even the knives and forks will be biodegradable. The Senate, the last place in America to abandon elevator operators and smoking in the hallways, is sticking to its fried okra and Styrofoam. Danny Weiss, chief of staff to Martinez Democrat George Miller, has been working in the House for roughly 20 years and eats at his desk nearly every day. He said it's about time. "When I first got here, you could get greasy food anywhere you wanted," Weiss said. "You could have a grilled cheese sandwich and the Senate bean soup, and that would last you for a couple of days." As it happens, fellow San Franciscan and Democrat Dianne Feinstein, as chair of the Rules Committee, oversees the Senate food service. It remains entirely owned and operated by the Senate. That's because the upper chamber demurred from the privatization frenzy that gripped the House when Republicans seized control a dozen years ago, only to be replaced by Green Team Pelosi in November 2006. Feinstein wanted the Senate to join the new food service contract, but the rest of the Democratic caucus vetoed the idea. "I'm for doing it," Feinstein said, after noting that like many trapped in the Capitol's culinary desert, she finds herself eating a lot of food she shouldn't eat. "The Senate doesn't want to do it." Feinstein's chief concern is that the Senate food service is running a $1.2 million deficit, while the House operation, even before its organic makeover, operates in the black. But other Democrats, sources said, wanted nothing to do with contracting out of any kind, however healthy, even if the Senate could keep all its current employees. A big part of the problem, many believe, is that the 20-year-old Senate menus are unappetizing and therefore don't sell, although efforts are under way to improve things. Nearly everyone marvels at the fact that sushi has cracked the barrier and taken its place alongside traditional fried-chicken "tenders," those nicely processed bite-sized bits of soggy antibiotic-laden poultry long a staple of late-night filibusters. Natalie Ravitz, communications director for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said her svelte figure is deceptive. "It's the glow of stress," Ravitz said. Few seem to mourn the end of the distinctly Southern-style cuisine of mashed potatoes and buttered beans that still lingers in the House's Longworth cafeteria. "I appreciate that, being a Southern boy," said Louisianan Christian Bourge, House leadership reporter for Congress Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. "But that kind of stuff will clog up your heart pretty fast." Working on the Hill often resembles living on the Hill, where the frantic pace and long hours leave one at the mercy of breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Capitol cafeterias. Few restaurants are nearby, and the most popular one recently had at least one cockroach running along the counter just as the hamburger melt and fries were being served. Bourge, whose two deadlines a day seldom allow him to venture outside, said he sometimes is left feeding on scrapple, which he describes as a local version of Spam, concocted somewhere in Maryland from unidentifiable meat parts and then fried. A spokeswoman for Restaurant Associates said some House favorites will continue to uphold the Southern tradition, such as Miss Janie's Fried Chicken in the Members' Dining Room, and the House bean soup, known in the Senate as the Senate bean soup. "No, it's the House bean soup," corrected Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena. Thompson, who grows organic olives and sauvignon blanc grapes in Lake County, welcomes the changes, though he said he seldom finds time to eat anything. He has eaten the hot dogs for sale in the House cloakroom, and the occasional peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And of course, in meetings with the speaker, there is the ever-present Ghirardelli chocolate. Aides confirmed a big increase in chocolate consumption since Pelosi assumed the speakership. Under the new food contract, seafood will be chosen under the guidelines established by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program, which divides fish species into the categories "best," "good alternatives" and "avoid," depending on whether fish stocks are depleted or farmed in environmentally irresponsible ways. It's all part of the new trend toward local and organic foods that began in the Bay Area and has now entered the institutional catering business. "We had what we termed a crisis of flavor on the plate," said Maisie Greenawalt, spokeswoman for Restaurant Associates sister company Bon Appetit. The problem, she said, is that conventional food often tastes bad because it is grown for its ability to travel long distances and endure for vast stretches of time and still maintain the appearance of edibility. That plus the widespread use of antibiotics and hormones in livestock and sodium and corn-based starches and sugars in industrial foods, and it's a wonder everyone's not dead. As any C-SPAN viewer knows, the obesity epidemic has struck with a vengeance in the Capitol. And with Senate passage of the farm bill last week, Congress has ensured that the United States will retain its status as Junk Food Nation for five more years. But the House now has its chance to escape. Perry Plumart, deputy director of the Green the Capitol project, and a former aide to Pelosi and East Bay Rep. Pete Stark, is overseeing the changes. Plumart is known as a meat and potatoes man, but has embraced the new ethos with gusto. "It is shocking that the future of our diets has been turned over to him," Weiss said of Plumart's new role. "But he is an environmentalist at heart." Plumart did not deny that he likes meat and potatoes, but insists that even for his own home, he buys "free-range hogs from a farmer out by Bull Run. I buy half a hog from him, and it feeds in his organic vegetable garden." Asked if potatoes are a vegetable, Plumart replied, "They're a tuber. And I eat salad. With plenty of dressing."
I'm home with Mr. Small as he's got a respiratory infection, so not much from me today.
December 18, 2007
"The Hobbit" Possible Character List
Thought I'd start a whole new thread about this.
In a film version of "The Hobbit" there are four known returning characters - Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf (the Grey), Gollum and Elrond. Sir Ian McKellan, Andy Serkis and Hugo Weaving could easily reprise their roles from "The Lord of the Rings". Bilbo is questionable and might need to be re-cast with an actor younger than Ian Holm (though not necessarily). Having Holm would be ideal and I understand that their are digital options that could make him appear a bit younger than he did at the beginning of "The Fellowship of the Ring". Similar enhancements were made to Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector in the movie "Red Dragon" to remove wrinkles and crow's feet in close-ups. The prequel took place ten years prior to the events of "The Silence of the Lambs".
As to the rest of the story, you definitely have thirteen Dwarves (most notably Thorin Oakenshield), Thranduil the King of the Wood Elves of Mirkwood, Beorn and Bard the Bowman.
In addition, you could have Galadriel and Saruman appear in scenes that took place during the story but were not written as part of the text. Additional appearances could include Radagast (as a member of the White Council), Legolas (as he is Thranduil's son), Gimli (in the Battle of the Five Armies) and Arwen (at Rivendell). Flashbacks could require appearances by Thror (Thorin's father) and famous Elves of Gondolin (a flashback that details the history of the Elvish blades, Glamdring and Orcrist). Perhaps, even the story of Celebrimbor and the forging of the Rings of Power could be weaved in.
So there is a lot of potential as far as additional scenes and characters that aren't necessarily part of "The Hobbit" as written but perfectly in line with additional material written by Tolkien and since published in other volumes.
And there's two schools of thought on this - 1) that the additional material enriches the story for those not familiar with "Unfinished Tales" or "The Silmarillion" and 2) that the extra padding simply bloats the simple story and needlessly stretches it out over two films. We'll have to wait and see.
As to the production itself, I could imagine that one of Jackson's assistant directors (or two) on "The Lord of the Rings" could be his choice(s) to direct rather than a more famous name like Sam Raimi. Someone with the experience of the last set of films could do well with Jackson as Exec Producer. Add that to the return of the Weta Workshop organization and most of the technical people who did the trilogy and Jackson's absence behind the camera might not even be noticed.
All in all I'm hopeful, but cautiously so.
The Kobayashi Maru Scenario - Office Party Edition
Your office party is about to kick off with loud, pounding musick, horrid punch and "creative" food. Your presence there is required. You've already got a headache. You now discover you only have three aspirin left.
The bridge is yours. What will you do, Lieutenant?
Voice of Scotty: "It's nooo use! Weeh're dead in space!"
"The Horror...The...Horror" **
Greenpeace: "Santa hats on whales...Noooooooooo!"
** spot the quote
"You Can't Handle The Truth!"
Taylor Marshall relays an extremely silly suggestion by Franco Zeffirelli that the Holy Father needs to work on his image, making himself over to appear more
fluffy cuddly happy.
I happened to meet with my RCIA guide the other day to discuss how things were going with the ol' swim across the Tiber. One of the things I mentioned was how I didn't think I would have been able to take the plunge had these been the stifling old "shut up and do what the Priest says" days of my mother's yoot or the post-Vatican II era of feel-good liturgy, but that the advent of what I called enlightened orthodoxy under JPII and now BXVI made for perfect timing for me.
Judging from what I read about other conservative Anglicans, I'm not the only one who feels this way.
UPDATE: Change "enlightened" to "transparent" maybe. What I'm trying to get across is my continual, perhaps unfounded, surprise at just how much the Church wants me not just to follow its teachings, but to understand exactly why I'm doing so. "Here," they say,"Here's the Bible. Here's the Catechism. Here's the Compendium to the Catechism. All heavily cross-annotated. Here are the Church Fathers. Here's the complete Vatican Archives. Go. Read."
I've Got A Baaaaaad Feeling About This
"'In the land of Jackson where the shadows lie.' What does that mean, I wonder?"
After a much-publicized spat, Peter Jackson has made nice with New Line Cinema and is going to do The Hobbit after all:
NEW YORK - Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema have reached agreement to make J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," a planned prequel to the blockbuster trilogy "The Lord of the Rings." Jackson, who directed the "Rings" trilogy, will serve as executive producer for "The Hobbit." A director for the prequel films has yet to be named.
Relations between Jackson and New Line had soured after "Rings," despite a collective worldwide box office gross of nearly $3 billion — an enormous success. The two sides nevertheless were able to reconcile, with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) splitting "The Hobbit" 50/50, spokemen for both studios said Tuesday.
"I'm very pleased that we've been able to put our differences behind us, so that we may begin a new chapter with our old friends at New Line," Jackson said in a statement. "We are delighted to continue our journey through Middle Earth."
One immediate problem for any film version of The Hobbit expecting to make it in the box office? There are no female characters in the book. I shudder to think what Jackson & Co. might do in order to overcome this.
And whatever happens, they seem set to milk it for all it's worth, producing not one but two movies:
Two "Hobbit" films are scheduled to be shot simultaneously, similar to how the three "Lord of the Rings" films were made. Production is set to begin in 2009 with a released planned for 2010, with the sequel scheduled for a 2011 release.
How is this going to work, exactly? Will the book be divided up, with one movie title "There" and the other "And Back Again"? Are we going to get another CGI-fest of teh White Council driving the Necromancer out of Dol Guldor? Or is Jackson planning to go all George Lucas on us and churn out a pre-prequel about the younger days of
Regular readers will know already how much I frothed at the liberties Jackson took with LOTR. Even without the benefit of Galadriel's mirror, I'm foreseeing that it's going to be even worse this time around.
Resident "Tolkien Geek" Yips! from Gary:
I saw this coming. It's been slowly winding its way toward an official reconciliation between Jackson and New Line (especially when the litigation began moving in Jackson's favor).
The two movie thing is annoying. For the life of me I can't imagine where the natural "break" is.
But I think you hit it when you mentioned a White Council scene. I'm sure there will be stuff like that added to the story. In fact, go back to "Unfinished Tales" and flip through "The Quest for Erebor" and you'll find lots of stuff that can be used in flashback (adding to the begining would be a disaster, IMO).
When Hollywood does "prequel" they tend to go a little overboard.
Jackson will be unavailable to direct but he'll no doubt be the wordsmith behind the script (with Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens, of course). I don't have as many complaints with their translation from book to script as they are as mindful of the fans as you could as for.
As for females, expect to see Arwen at Rivendell and Galadriel as well. Perhaps a prominent woman's role among the residents of Laketown? And of course, old Lobelia may well show up at the end when Bilbo comes home to an auction of Bag End.
If Sir Ian McKellan returns as Gandalf, I'm on board. My biggest concern, however, is Bilbo. I would think Ian Holm is too old to portray a younger Bilbo (though with make-up I suppose it's possible). So who do you cast? That's a tough one.
Yips! back from Robbo: Well, how 'bout Ewan McGregor? If he can riff Alec Guiness, I'm sure he can riff Ian Holm. And I know at least one person who would his casting would guaran-damn-tee to plump for the tix, the DVDs, the posters, the undies........
Must Be Read To Be Believed: Woman Gropes Santa
A 33-year-old woman was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault Saturday after allegedly groping a man playing Santa Claus at the Danbury Fair mall.I find this story particularly amusing for two reasons: I'm familiar with the mall where it happened and the fact that the guy playing Santa would mind getting his own Christmas goose. Considering the drudgery of spending all day playing Santa, I'd consider this to be a perk.
Sandrama Lamy, 33, of Danbury, is charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, according to Danbury Detective Lt. Thomas Michael.
Two messages seeking comment were left on Lamy's answering machine.
Details leading up to the alleged fondling are sketchy.
"I don't know what the deal was. It was just bizarre," the mall Santa told a reporter, referring all other questions about the incident to Cherry Hill Photo, the company that runs the Danbury Fair mall Santa photo setup.
For All You Nervous Democrats, There Is Hope
...in a bottle: OxyClinton
h/t: Dr. Sanity
"Don't Call Me Junior!"***
***The quote's a gimme but too apropos not to use.
Yesterday I received a poinsetta from St. LUTCBAJ in memorium, so the note said, on the first Christmas since Dad died.
The note referred to Dad as Robert T. Llama, Sr. and to me as Robert T. Llama, Jr. This is not the case, however. Dad was Robert Z. Llama. As has long been the custom in our family, he and I shared the same first name but different middle names.
I suppose it's my own fault - during his last illness, Dad was on the prayer list for a long time as "Robert Llama" and people kept coming up to me after services with startled looks on their faces and inquiries as to whether I was okay. Eventually, the entry was amended to "Robert Llama Sr." and the inquiries stopped, or at least changed in character. I didn't think it worth the bother to try and explain any further at the time.
Nonetheless, this is the first I've seen him labelled as Robert T. Llama, Sr., and I must say that I find it both annoying and vaguely impersonalizing (if that's a word). I can't see that there's any point raising a stink with the church about it, since I don't see where the matter will come up again. But at least I can vent about it a bit here.
Incidentally, the poinsetta itself was rayther a sickly and bedraggled specimen. I dunno whether this was just the luck of the draw or whether it was a subtle message that I'm still on Bishop Lee's Enemies List.
Random Commuter Observation II
Given the numbers of bags of cookies and whatnot and the large variety of truly hideous holiday ties, bows and sweaters I noticed on the metro this morning, I'd say I am definitely not the only person in Dee Cee on whom the annual office party is being inflicted today.
Random Commuter Observation I
Each year for a week or so on either side of the solstice, the sun rises right along the axis of my street. On clear mornings like this one it is positively beautiful in a gloria Deo way, but it is also quite trying to navigate the traffic by the Braille method before I've had my first cup of coffee.
December 17, 2007
The Freaky-Deakiest Thing I've Read, EVAH!
Someone needs to keep this out of the hands of Harry Turtledove, Sherman, and Mr. Peabody.
Lost Shakespeare Play Discovered!
Robbo's RSS feeder went to eleven on that one.
I can speak for the rest of America when I breathe a sigh of relief, noting that Alice B. Davis is nowhere mentioned in the article.
Although you can now get that lost episode from the trip to Hawaii, when Alice and Carol were trapped in the volcano and thought they were going to die in an hour anyway, so......
Yeah, Good Luck With That One
Just keeping cackling, Senator...it's downright infectious. Not.
HACKTACULAR YIPS from Steve-O:
SEPARATED AT BIRTH, HISTORIKAL DIVISION YIPS from Steve-O: Restoration, indeed:
Or, to be polite, maybe we need a new campaign ad featuring Sir Walter Raleigh saying, "I knew the Faerie Queen. The Faerie Queen was a friend of mine. And ye, me lady, are no Faerie Queen."
Writer's Strike Update
Strike still on?
You know what that means: our daily dose of Tina Fey/Liz Lemon.
Denied fresh Tina/Liz, we'll have to get along with mere scraps. Here's "Ask Liz"
Yips! from Robbo: Show of hands for everyone else out there who wishes Steve-O would explain this whole Tina Fey thing. I'm not seeing it. And I certainly can't be the only one.
Head-scratching Yips! from Gary:
You're not, Robert. Don't quite get it myself. And I even share a birthday with her.
Granted she's bright, with a decent sense of humor. But about 2.5 minutes into that clip my eyes started to glaze over and a couple of average-looking women here in the office started to seem more palatable by comparison.
But if you like her, Steve, then of course we like her.
Yips! back from Robbo: Oh, yes, of course. We're sure she's very nice, Steve.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review
An historickal depiction of Napoleon's last epic battle of 1815. I'm of two minds about this film. On the one hand, the writing wasn't very good and the non-shooting-at-people scenes seemed rayther dull and stuck in a kind of early 70's goo. On the other hand, the film employed 20,000 extras to depict the armies and that was highly entertaining. On the whole, I'd probably recommend watching it the once.
The part of the Duke of Wellington was played by Christopher Plummer, who looked and acted exactly like Captain von Trapp, except that he was chasing Frogs, not running from Nazis. For my money, the best screen version of the Iron Dook I've ever seen is still Hugh Fraser's from the Sharpe series:
As for That Bonaparte, he was played here by Rod Steiger, who I never really bought. My favorite Screen Napoleon is a tie between Ian Holm in Time Bandits and Terry Camilleri's (who?) in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
Bill: You ditched Napoleon?
Ted: Deacon! Do you realize you've stranded one of Europe's greatest leaders in San Dimas?
Deacon: He was a dick!
UPDATE: BTW, my Netflix queue is beginning to run dry and I'm at a bit of a loss to know where to go next. Feel free to leave any recommendations you have in the comments. No zombie movies.
LAST EMPEROR YIPS from Steve-O:
And speaking of bad Napoleons, here's a cheezy linkwhore pshop circa 2004:
Summer 2008 countdown
The Dark Knight:
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS STEVE-O: Grading today: done with the finals of two of the three classes, just catching up on a little scut work before scooting home for Mr. Skinny to get off the bus. More later.
QUICK MITCHELL REPORT UPDATE: Obnoxiously hilarious Sawx Blog Surviving Grady has their take on the Roid Report and Eric Gagne. And Fire Joe Morgan eviscerates a reporter in one of the funniest beat downs I've seen in a long while.
The Gob Squad
Jonathan V. Last over at Galley Slaves posts the news that Will Arnett is going to voice K.I.T.T. in the new Knight Rider movie and then goes on to have some fun with it.
I'm not going to explain - you'll have to link through yourself if you don't get it - but I love this idea and its potential implications.
The other day I was talking to a colleague about one of our cases. He told me about the decision by higher ups not to pursue a particular legal theory (which, truth be told, was pretty far out there). I said, "Oh c'mon. What are they, chicken?" and started dancing about, going "COO-ka, COO-ka! COO-ka!" My friend, who obviously got the joke, nearly FOTFLHAO.
Still confused? Buy this. And thank me later.
Eddie Izzard is going to do the voice of Reepicheep in Prince Caspian?
UPDATE: I see that an actress named Alicia Borrachero also has been cast as Miraz' wife, Queen Prunaprismia:
I don't remember that she makes anything more than a very tiny appearance in the actual book. But ay, carumba! This is the sort of liberty I don't mind being taken so much (perhaps because Ms. Borrachero looks something like the Missus, albeit not quite so pretty).
Is That A Tongue-Depressor In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?
The steamy television program “Grey’s Anatomy” and the shift in cultural norms is influencing the professional attire of medical doctors. Instead of traditional business apparel and the white lab coat, female physicians are opting for high heels, short skirts showing plenty of leg, plunging necklines revealing bulging cleavage, midriffs exposing pierced belly buttons, and the display of thong straps creeping above the waistline for a whale tail.
Meanwhile, male doctors are now sporting a more manly appearance with stubby unshaven facial hair, numerous tattoos, pony tails, and even Bermuda shorts.
Such attire may be fine for a night club or the beach but it is starting to impact doctor-patient relationships because patients who do not respect their doctors or who no longer take them seriously may not get the best possible care. And most importantly, if patients are unable to disclose their most intimate health needs to their physicians then they may not be able to obtain the treatment they really need.
My brother is a doctor (as was Dad). FWIW, I'm pretty sure John wouldn't show up at his office in anything other than a button-down Oxford, tie and khakis under his white coat. If you've got Lady XXX or Surfer Dude as a physician and it's bothering you, let me know and I'll give you a referral.
Yips! to Dean.
Gratuitous Musickal Posting - Christmas Tips Division
Yesterday afternoon the eldest Llama-ette and I sat down for a session of carols. As I hadn't cracked the book in nearly a year, I was pretty rusty at the keyboard and, as is my wont when I play poorly, inserted a certain amount of rayther bad language not atall in keeping with the spirit of the season. (What was it Oscar Wilde said? "The trouble with playing in public is that when one plays well, nobody listens. And when one plays poorly, nobody talks.")
Anyhoo, in part to show off her own burgeoning piano talent, the gel insisted that she take over the ivories for "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" while I do the singing. I don't especially like this song, but I found it went by much more quickly when I adopted a different accent for each section. Thus, I sang the first verse as Kermit the Frog, the second as Senor Wences' "Close de door" character and the third as a Monty Pythonesque German of the "I assure you ze do, Mr. Ellis" variety. And I sang each refrain of the chorus as Opera Man.
The gel thought this was hy-larious. And I think I've founded a new tradition.
(The gel also tried to talk me into "The Twelve Days of Christmas," which I refused point-blank because I can't stand it. However, if she ever does get me to sing it, I may employ this same technique, although I'd have to take notes to keep track of which character was singing what verse.)
In A Rut(ter)
Well, Lessons & Carols Sunday at St. Looney-Up-The-Cream-Bun-And-Jam went off almost exactly as I predicted last week. We started off with some lovely Corelli played by a string quartet that contained an unusual left-handed second violin, then proceeded to roll into the standard choir reportoire which included this year "For Unto Us A Child Is Born", probably my very favorite chorus out of The Messiah.
The middle Llama-ette was there with the Youth Choir, stolidly belting out her lines. As it happens, I believe she's the youngest gel in the group. This does not appear to worry her at all, although at first I thought she wasn't standing up with the rest of them: it was only by craning my neck that I could make out the top of her head, sandwiched as she was between a pair of older girls who towered over her. The Youth Choir was scheduled to sing both the 9:00 and 11:15 services. As we proceeded along, I wondered to myself how the Llama-ette was going to manage to sit through the whole thing (which was really rayther long) twice. However, she was allowed to skip the second performance by her leader. Probably just as well. And by way of celebration, the gel went off to tea with her Godmother and the Missus instead.
But I'm not posting this just to tell you about that. Oh, no. I'm posting instead because, as I also predicted, we were subjected yet again to the music of John Rutter. Not one carol, not two, but three of them. The first one was new to me. It was called, I kid you not, "Donkey Carol". I'd give you a sample, except that I forgot to keep the program. However, it starts out with something about "Donkey walking on bumpy road", and is a perfect storm of saccharined lyrics and quirky, maudlin music. A quick bit of research indicates that lots of folks seem to fall all over themselves in praise of Rutter's music, but quite frankly it gives me the guts-ache.
I was chatting with somebody about this Ruttermania after the service. He thought he had remembered the rector mentioning some particular tie he had with the composer (who is only in his 60's, I believe), which is the only reason I can think of to explain why we get so much of this stuff. Feh. There hasn't been a really first-class English composer since William Boyce and IMHO, Rutter's works embodies all the very worst traditions in Brit music since then.
Dan Fogelberg: 1951-2007
Yesterday, singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg lost his battle with prostate cancer. Fogelberg's songs left many musical memories for me when I was growing up in the late seventies and eighties. Considering the time of year I thought I'd post a video tribute of "Same Auld Lang Syne", which is the song that has probably most left an impression on me.
Of course, there's one line in the song that always bothered me. Why is it they can find an open liquor store but not an open bar? Certainly, being from Connecticut I find this an odd set of circumstances.
McCain: Not Dead Yet Or Just A Norwegian Blue?
The wily Senator from Arizona's campaign seems to be showing some life. Add in a batch of local endorsements (including a shot of Joe-Mentum) and McCain may be on his way to a strong showing in New Hampshire.
Now I know there are many Republican primary voters who are rightly ticked with Sen. McCain for a number of reasons. But I don't think it's out of the question that he could end up with a surprise razor-thin win in the Granite State, especially when you consider that Independents may vote in party primaries. Honestly, judging by the fluidity of all these polls I don't think any candidate has a rock-solid base they can count on at this point. I myself doubt that McCain has it in him, but anything could happen at this point.
John McCain isn't my first choice but I'd take him much more enthusiastically as the nominee than a Mike Huckabee. In fact, when you consider that my number one hot button issue is the prosecution of the Terrorists' War On Us, his candidacy would be less of a bummer for me that I had originally thought. This is especially true when I consider the prospect of his continued pummelling of she-who-must-not-be-named in this manner:
When asked whether he would tag Hillary Clinton as well with a "lack of patriotism," Mr. McCain does dial it down a notch. "Maybe 'lack of patriotism' is too harsh," he allows. "'Putting political ambitions ahead of the national interest' may be a more subtle way" of putting it. He then adds, with a chuckle, "And we all know how subtle I am."Whether there is more underlying strength in his campaign than most pundits are recognizing or that it's merely the media blowing this out of proportion we will have to wait and see.
Just how subtle comes across in expanding on Mrs. Clinton's stance on the war and on the surge. "She had that very clever line--I don't know who wrote it for her--that you'd have to suspend disbelief in order to believe that the surge is working. Well, you'd have to suspend disbelief that it's not now." And then, as if confronting her in a presidential debate, he addresses the absent senator from New York directly: "Do you still stand by that statement, Senator Clinton? Do you still believe you'd have to suspend disbelief to believe that this surge is working?"
Is there potential McCainia out there or is the Senator merely pining for the fjords?
For those not familiar with the obscure analogy, allow me:
December 16, 2007
The drought is over:
MIAMI (AP) -The Miami Dolphins acted as though they'd never won a game before.
When Greg Camarillo turned a short completion into a 64-yard touchdown in overtime, the bench quickly cleared, with players sprinting en masse to the end zone to mob their teammate.
The stunning play made the Dolphins a winner for the first time in more than a year, ensuring they'll avoid the first 0-16 season in NFL history. They beat the Baltimore Ravens 22-16.
''I'm just glad no one is going to be talking about the winless season,'' Camarillo said after making just his fourth catch all season. ''We got a win to get the monkey off our back.''
Luckless all year, the Dolphins needed a big break to improve to 1-13. Baltimore's Matt Stover missed a 44-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime.
Three plays later, Camarillo broke over the middle on third down and had two steps on the secondary when he caught a pass from Cleo Lemon near midfield. Finding himself in the clear, Camarillo sprinted to the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
''It was like watching one of those plays in slow motion, and it's the Super Bowl and the miraculous catch and all those things,'' teammate Vonnie Holliday said. ''It was up there like that for us. Maybe not for everybody else, but for us it was up there with all those great catches - Dwight Clark and all those guys.''
With the 1972 perfect-season Dolphins cheering them on, the woebegone 2007 Dolphins rallied from a 10-point third-quarter deficit and snapped a 16-game losing streak. The franchise's first victory since Dec. 10, 2006 allowed Miami to avoid matching the worst start in NFL history.
Cam Cameron finally earned his first victory as an NFL head coach, 11 months after taking the job.
''I've been looking forward to this day for quite some time,'' Cameron said.
Owner Wayne Huizenga, who confirmed Saturday he's discussing the sale of the franchise, wore a grin in the locker room after the victory.
''It was exciting for me,'' Huizenga said. ''In my suite it was like winning the Super Bowl. It was up and down all game, and with the 17-0 team here and being honored at halftime, to pull it off in this game for those guys, that was special. It was very emotional for me.''
Shut up. Just....shut up.
Storm of the Century of the Week - UPDATED
Well, once again, Mother Nature jerked the football away just as Dee Cee was about to kick it through the uprights - we got a fair bit of rain from the latest Storm of the Century of the Week, but nothing else.
However, late this afternoon the wind began to pick up. This was enough for Virginia Power to suffer one of its numerous outages, with the result that dinner at Orgle Manor consisted of cold-cuts by the light of the Advent wreath, while bed-time story was the last three chapters of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe read by firelight in the library.
Not a bad thing, I suppose.
December 14, 2007
I'm Not Up With Huckabee
For several reasons, but since declaring my support for Rudy Giuliani I've decided to hold my fire and observe the 11th Commandment while this whole thing plays out.
That doesn't mean, however, that I won't link to other stuff. Especially when it's funny as hell. Rachel Lucas says Huck can go "stuff" himself (warning - really naughty language).
If Peggy Noonan had an evil twin, I'm pretty sure she would write like Rachel Lucas.
YIPS from Steve-O: Eleventh Commandment? What, that's like "Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's ass, because the ass has sovereign immunity and cannot be coveted without its consent"?
Yips! back from Gary:
Kramer broke that Commandment:
More Gratuitous Holiday Grumbling - BUMPED AND UPDATED
Tomorrow during lunch I'll be scooting over to the Smithsonian, there to meet the youngest Llama-ette and her classmates from St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method for a little holiday field-trip.
I just looked up the program we're going to see, the Seasons of Lights, and already my rant-worthy sensors are spiking:
Join our 9th annual multicultural celebration of global winter holidays rooted in the warmth and wonders of light. Learn the history and customs of Ramadan, Devali, Chanukah, Sankta Lucia, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas/Christmas and a First Nations tradition of Winter Solstice in our most popular performance of the year. Embrace the season and be a part of the festivities—with audience participation for all.
Malkin's going to blow a gasket if she notices that Christmas only gets shared billing with Las Posadas. And who wants to place bets on whether anybody will mention the fact that "Kwanzaa" was fadged up by a crackpot in California back in the '60's and is based on a vision of half-baked socialist Pan-Africanism that is not only unsupportable, but is in fact downright fraudulent. Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?
Oh, but it goes deeper than that:
People all over the world celebrate holidays at this time of year. Many of these holidays honor the harvest, signal the New Year, or bring families together to remember the past and look forward to the future. Many holidays are also rooted in the coming of the shortest day of the year—the Winter Solstice.
Today, we often enjoy holiday traditions without knowing where they came from. We sing songs, display colored lights, and repeat special activities with friends and family. Holly wreaths, chocolate coins, sharing special foods, giving gifts, candles lit in a row— these traditions all herald the ending of one year, and the renewal and hope of looking ahead to the next.
If we look deeper, we see that these holidays carry echoes of earlier times, hundreds or thousands of years ago. At some point, the warmth of light burning in the dark plays a central role. The joy, warmth, and safety that came from these traditional gatherings kept the dark and cold at bay. They helped people understand that the sun would return and bring the promise of spring and a new year.
See? We're really all Gaia's Children after all. Why can't we just get along?
Remind me to take an extra dose of my meds tomorrow morning.........
UPDATE: Well, we saw the show. Let me put it this way: In pursuit of plurality over everything, I believe the show managed to thoroughly confuse all the kids and offend most of the adults.
YIPS from Steve-O: Well Robbo, the only answer then is to get radished....
And here's something to cleanse the palatte after your experience at a Kwanza Carol:
Well, file this one under "things you just can't make up":
A drunk Cambodian man became embroiled in an unfortunate genital incident when, as he was urinating through a fence, a happy little puppy on the other side bit onto his penis.A toy? Hmm. I wonder if it squeaked or something?
News reports in Phnom Penh said that Kann Veasna was relieving himself through a hole in the fence after a hard day drinking wine when the incident occurred.
The Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper suggested that the puppy may have thought Veasna's penis was toy.
Mr Veasna's puppy/penis misfortune came to light when he turned up at hospital in the Cambodian capital, and regaled them with his tale of mirth and woe.Which is the more perplexing question?
He was suffering from lacerations to his penis. However, doctors were able to save his organ, and are hopeful that the puppy did him no permanent damage.
News agency DPA quoted one doctor as saying: 'It's undoubtedly sore now, but luckily it should still be useful to him in the future.'
1) How could a small puppy reach the penis of a standing man in order to bite it?
2) How do you qualify a "hard day drinking wine"?
3) Why would a man pee through a hole in a fence to begin with?
Just In Case The Missus Is Reading Us Today
I've been a good Llama this year. A present like this, and I could be marvelous.
It takes a Potemkin Village
When you've lost Matt Lauer, you've lost the war.
I guess they never should have ganged up on Russert...
Nats Take Away The One Active Met On The Juice List
Thanks, Robbo. Now I know why Minaya and the Wilpons weren't keen on keeping Paul Lo Duca. But because Washington signed him, New York has a "clean" active roster.
The Yankees on the other hand...not so much.
I just KNEW that when Clemmons tossed that broken bat at Piazza that it was most likely 'Roid rage.
It's Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas, Dammit
Have I mentioned before how much I hate medleys? And have I mentioned before how much I hate the whole "If Vivaldi had written 'Jolly Old St. Nicholas'" genre?
Well, I'm mentioning it now.
There's the hot stove league, and then there's the REALLY HOT stove league
Pope Benedict, GM of the Vatican crusaders, gleeful over trade of Steve-O to the Canterbury Caterwallers in return for Robbo-O and three players to be named later. "He's three starts away from Tommy John surgery, a bad influence in the clubhouse, and waaaay past his prime," said the Supreme Pontiff. "He's basically the Eric Gagne around here. Robbo will give us the late inning energy we need, kind of like Jonathan Pablebon, minus the beer, hookers, liturgical dancing, and mounds of blow."
THAT'S MY CHURCH, Steve-O (S)Edition: A number of questions to the Mail Sack on my take on the Diocese in California that voted to secede. My sense is this: two of the four most influential and important priests in my life have been women who, in that diocese, wouldn't have been eligible for ordination because...........what, we're afraid of women? Even as a kid I never bought the "well, Jesus only called men to the ministry so only men can be ordained" line. Because first of all, he only called people who were Jewish to be ministers, and his Pope was a married Jewish fisherman (something Benedict---who I deeply respect---kind of goes 0-3 on). And second, I don't see how one can read the crucifixion and resurrection stories and deny the role of the women. Sure, the men shared in the Eucharist, but when things got tough they all split, except for John. The women, not so much.
And I know, the ordination of women was not the "final" straw, but the first one, but at least to me that bears some type of insight on the accumulator of straws out there.
So the wine in the chalice in the Cathedral in Fresno bothers me not--whether the bottle is from Chile, Nigeria, Rome, Canterbury, New York, Virginia, or some weird acronym. Because what matters is what will happen to it, and that the blood will be mixed with tears over our eternal stubborness and willingness to fight over who sits at the right hand of the right hand in this endless and sad game of More Pharisacal Than Thou.
It's The Storm Of The Century Of The Week!
Run for your lives!!!!
Winter Storm Watch in effect from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon...
The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a
Winter Storm Watch... which is in effect from Saturday morning
through Sunday afternoon.
Low pressure will develop across the lower Mississippi Valley on
Saturday... then is expected to move northeast and pass through the
mid Atlantic region Saturday night and Sunday.
The exact timing... track and strength details associated with
this storm remain uncertain at this time... however much of the mid
Atlantic region has the potential to receive significant wintry
precipitation Saturday through Sunday. This includes the
possibility of some areas receiving 5 or more inches of snow and
sleet accumulation and a quarter inch or more of ice accumulation.
Preparations should be made now for hazardous winter weather
across the region Saturday through Sunday.
A Winter Storm Watch means there is a potential for significant
snow... sleet... or ice accumulations that may impact travel.
Continue to monitor the latest forecasts.
Aaaaaah, that's teh stuff. I've always found it interesting that while we denizens of the Dee Cee area love to panic at the first sign of a snowflake, we're not at all ashamed to admit it. Yes, we say, we're over-reacting. We probably don't really need to close all the schools and the guv'mint. We probably don't really need to spend four hours at Safeway stocking up on RCMP-approved survival gear and rations. But we do so anyway. And this is a problem why?
As a matter of fact, this is scheduled to be a pretty hectic weekend around Orgle Manor, including a holiday party, two separate sleep-overs, extensive practices of various sorts and three (count 'em) three Church services that Yours Truly is supposed to attend Sunday morning. We shall see how much the weather cuts into all that. (If it keeps the Llama-ettes' little friend from staying over Saturday night, I will be quite happy.)
Peggy Noonan opens up a can of righteous whup-ass on Huckleberry this morning. Take away line: Huck and his core supporters are a lot like one of the candidates running in 1980, but it sure as heck wasn't the Gipper. Or John Anderson for that matter...
UPDATE: Re post below, great minds. I went to refresh the tea cup before hitting "publish"....
Yips! from Robbo: Great minds, indeed, but what kind of nancy-boy drinks tea in the morning?
Peggy on She Who Must Not Be Named's encounter with the bucket of water that is national presidential campaign politics. Melting! Meeeeeelting!
This thought occurs that Hillary Clinton's entire campaign is, and always was, a Potemkin village, a giant head fake, a haughty facade hollow at the core. That she is disorganized on the ground in Iowa, taken aback by a challenge to her invincibility, that she doesn't actually have an A team, that her advisers have always been chosen more for proven loyalty than talent, that her supporters don't feel deep affection for her. That she's scrambling chaotically to catch up, with surrogates saying scuzzy things about Barack Obama and drug use, and her following up with apologies that will, as always, keep the story alive. That her guru-pollster, the almost universally disliked Mark Penn, has, according to Newsday, become the focus of charges that he has "mistakenly run Clinton as a de facto incumbent" and that the top officials on the campaign have never had a real understanding of Iowa.
This is true of Mrs. Clinton and her Iowa campaign: They thought it was a queenly procession, not a brawl. Now they're reduced to spinning the idea that expectations are on Mr. Obama, that he'd better win big or it's a loss. They've been reduced too to worrying about the weather. If there's a blizzard on caucus day, her supporters, who skew old, may not turn out. The defining picture of the caucuses may be a 78-year-old woman being dragged from her home by young volunteers in a tinted-window SUV.
This is, still, an amazing thing to see. It is a delight of democracy that now and then assumptions are confounded, that all the conventional wisdom of the past year is compressed and about to blow. It takes a Potemkin village.
A thought on the presence of Bill Clinton. He is showing up all over in Iowa and New Hampshire, speaking, shaking hands, drawing crowds. But when he speaks, he has a tendency to speak about himself. It's all, always, me-me-me in his gigantic bullying neediness. Still, he's there, and he's a draw, and the plan was that his presence would boost his wife's fortunes. The way it was supposed to work, the logic, was this: People miss Bill. They miss the '90s. They miss the pre-9/11 world. So they'll love seeing him back in the White House. So they'll vote for Hillary. Because she'll bring him. "Two for the price of one."
It appears not to be working. Might it be that they don't miss Bill as much as everyone thought? That they don't actually want Bill back in the White House?
Maybe. But maybe it's this. Maybe they'd love to have him back in the White House. Maybe they just don't want him to bring her. Maybe they miss the Cuckoo's Nest and they'd love having Jack Nicholson's McMurphy running through the halls. Maybe they just don't miss Nurse Ratched. Does she have to come?
More, please. I confess that while I am not convinced that HRCR has been reduced to a burnt out broomstick and a soaked black cape just yet, I am nonetheless becoming mighty excited at the prospect that it might just happen.
BTW, Peggy spends the other half of her column on the surprising rise of Huckabee. Me? I don't think he's going to last.
Two-Cent Yips! from Gary:
Polls aside, I can seriously see campaign volunteers of SWMNBN threatening physical harm to 75-year old caucus voters to get them to come out on that cold January evening.
Re: Huck. His support is strong obviously among those voters for whom his religious fervor is most important. For the rest of Iowan Republicans? Dunno. But I'm willing to bet that Romney's GOTV ground game is a well oiled machine. I expect Iowa to be close either way. And Huck doesn't have the infrastructure to take full advantage of any momentum.
December 13, 2007
Gratuitous Holiday Grumbling
Something better than two thirds of the cards we've received at Orgle Manor this year have been decorated with not one but multiple pics of the sender's family. Typically, they contain one group shot plus a second of Mom & Dad plus singletons of all the kids.
The Missus says this is a service being offered by Shutterfly. Personally, I don't much like it - the cards come out looking more like fashion spreads or advertising glossies than holiday greetings.
The grand poo-bah overblown winner so far came from a family of four notorious in our area for its extravegance. (The Mom - who doesn't actually work - is reported to have a nanny for each kid plus a personal attendant/secretary for herself.) Their card featured a group shot on the cover. Opening it up revealed:
- Another full group shot
- A shot of Mom & Dad together
- A shot of Dad with the kids
- A shot of Mom with the kids
- A shot of the kids together
- A shot of the Son
- A shot of the Daughter
And if that weren't enough, flipping over to the back revealed yet two more shots of the Son and the Daughter separately, plus one more group shot. There was also an overhead pic of L'Estate Rubeux, their palatial residence. And if that wasn't enough, the names and email addresses of the photographer, the make up artist (yes, really) and the printer were listed at the bottom of the card.
Of course, this is an outer marker of bad taste, but it seems to be symptomatic of the trend. And as I say, I don't like it very much.
Is It The First Storm Of The Century Of The Week?
Looks like Dee Cee might be in for a nasty weekend:
Saturday Cloudy. A chance of snow and sleet in the afternoon. Highs in the mid 30s. Northeast winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation 50 percent.
Saturday Night Freezing rain...snow...sleet and rain. Lows around 30. Chance of precipitation 80 percent.
Snow and rain likely. Brisk with highs in the upper 30s. Chance of precipitation 60 percent.
Of course, since this isn't happening during the work week, we won't be able to indulge ourselves in our traditional full-fledged panic. On the other hand, I'm beginning to sense a rising sense of excitement around the office, among fellow commuters and even from the classical radio jocks.
If I had any extra coin lying around, I'd probably be investing in short term futures in toilet paper, batteries and bottled water right now.
Ol' Fred Doesn't Want To Play Your Silly Game
The only part of yesterday's debate worth mentioning, where Fred Thompson puts an end to this idiotic "raise your hands" nonsense used by the schoolmarmy moderator:
It's moments like this where I wonder why Ol' Fred hasn't been more out in front in his campaigning. These are serious times and Presidential candidates need not engage in these kinds of childish debate gimmicks.
h/t: Matt Lewis at Townhall.com
Fast Food And Healthy Choices
Apparently, Yum Foods (owners of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut) have decided to copy the strategy of one their biggest rivals:
At a meeting with investors and analysts Wednesday, Yum Chief Executive David Novak said the chain would introduce new products, including beverages and breakfast meals, expand its value menus and offer healthier options at all three of its main U.S. brands — KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.On a related note, it looks another chain is test-marketing some "healthy options" of their own:
Novak said the U.S. division’s transformation is being modeled after moves made in the past few years at McDonald’s Inc., which added healthy options, better quality food and beverage choices to its menu. The changes there led to far higher sales and profit at the nation’s No. 1 hamburger chain in the past year.
The owner of a Burger King franchise says there's no merit to a man's claim that he bit into an unwrapped condom while eating a sandwich he bought there.Say it with me...Eww.
Franchise owner Carrols Corp. of Syracuse, N.Y., said it "is confident that no Carrols employee placed any foreign object" on Van Miguel Hartless' food, the company said in a statement released Tuesday.
Hartless, 24, of Fair Haven, claims in a lawsuit that he bought a Southwestern Whopper at the restaurant in Rutland on June 18 and made the discovery when he got home and started eating it.
"Don't forget to wear your rubbers! Haw, Haw, Haw!"
December 12, 2007
The Gray Lady Wants To Kill The Planet!
Why else would she be running an article featuring the 53 Places to Go in 2008? Hell, just within the top ten you'd touch four continents and a fistfull of far-flung islands.
I mean, I'm all confused: I regularly get tsk-tsk'd by the Times just for owning an SUV and living in the suburbs, and here it is actively cajoling me to increase the ol' carbon footprint by several orders of magnitude.
Then again, perhaps I'm not meant to consider myself one of those "global nomads" of which the article speaks. Perhaps that status is meant to be reserved for the limousine liberal, Barbra Streisand/Al Gore, I-just-sank-500K-into-a-carbon-credits-shell-game-company-so-who-cares? set.
The world wonders.
It's Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas, Dammit II - Extremely Efficient Pre-Christmas Musickal Posting (TM)
This coming Sunday we're doing lessons & carols at church. As I already know perfectly well what's coming, I thought I'd get my fuming out of the way early by reposting what I said last year, which was a reposting of what I said the year before:
As I mentioned earlier, yesterday was the lessons and carols service at church. For the occassion, we blew a fair chunk of our rayther meager music budget and brought in a string quartet. Alas, music in general is not one of my church's strong suits: the organist is pretty good, but the choir is rather weak and the lead soprano has a voice like Glinda the Good Witch of the North - high, nasal and with enough vibrato to make your fillings start to resonate. Nonetheless, when everyone was gathered together, it sounded quite nice.
The other thing about the music at my church is that you never quite know what you're going to get served. The organist himself is pretty hidebound and traditional and, left to his druthers, would probably play Bach all the time. However, the rector is well known for his fondness of 20th Century settings as well as his desire to bring in stuff from outside the Anglican tradition. I've heard rumors of a kind of Cold War between the two, a war that threatens to go hot every "Jazz Sunday" - the Sunday before Ash Wednesday - when the rector brings in a couple trumpets and a bass, sits down to the drums himself and lets fly. The organist typically looks as if he's playing his own funeral march on such days or, perhaps more accurately, wishing he was playing the rector's.
All these forces were in evidence yesterday. The service was bookended by Arcangelo Corelli's Concerto Grosso Opus 6, No. 8, one of my favorite pieces of chamber music. We also got helpings of Handel, including a game attempt by one of the choir members to sing "O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion" in countertenor which produced a startled inquiry from the seven year old as to why that man was singing like a girl. In addition, we had some Palestrina, plus a number of traditional carols. So far, so good.
But I could see the rector's hand behind some of the other choices, including some pleasant but forgettable Vaughn Williams, some pleasant but cliched Bizet and some detestable Britten. I also knew as soon as I opened the program that we were in for......John Rutter.
Now, I'm sure Mr. Rutter is a very nice man and that he means well but the fact of the matter is that his music gives me the guts-ache. It's been variously described as "quirky" and "light" and "happy" and is, I suppose, designed to give listeners the warm fuzzies. In me, it induces a violent urge to reach for a two-by-four and start swinging.
Also, I don't know whose text Rutter uses, but the words are typically as cringe-making as the music:Have you heard the story that they're telling 'bout Bethlehem, Have you heard the story of the Jesus child?
Isaac Watts it ain't.
The other sure sign of the rector's influence was the inclusion of "Go Tell It On The Mountain". Now personally, I don't hold much of an opinion about spirituals one way or the other, either from a religious or a musical standpoint. However, I will say this: such music being sung by a low church Episcopalian congregation of upper-middle class suburbanites, accompanied by pipe-organ, is aesthetically absurd, and I sincerely wish the rector would cut it out.
As a matter of fact, we've brought in a new lead soprano this year who has a much prettier voice, but other than that I am reasonably confident of my assessment of this year's event long before it actually occurs.
Ah, Christmas traditions! Even the cranky ones give pleasure!
Oh, speaking of Christmas music, I note that over at my new church, Midnight Mass is going to be the full-monty Tridentine. They plan to have an orchestra in and are going to give us Charles Gounod's St. Cecilia Mass. (I know next to nothing about Gounod except that he wrote the "Funeral March of the Marionette.") While I'd prefer a piece from, say, seventy-five to a hundred years earlier, I suppose this will do.
It's Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas, Dammit
The radio station is currently running a rendition of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" by Thomas Hampson, baritone, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
We hates it when popular songs get dolled up this way. They inevitably sound preposterous. HYAMLC is one of those pleasant ditties that ought to be sung by, oh I dunno, Bing or maybe Dinah Shore, not by Opera Man.
That is all.
ANNOYING PAIN IN THE ARSE CO-BLOGGER YIPS from Steve-O: Let's see, desecration of the classics, check. Presence of Bing Crosby, check. Extra "Get the hell off my lawn you thin white duke freakazoid", check.
Hey, why not go for broke and wail on Gary while I'm at it: here's the opening eight minutes of the Star Wars Christmas Special.
Yips! Back from Robbo: Dayum, you play dirty, Steve-O.
YIPS from Steve-O: Yeah, that was like the Matt Damon/Jason Bourne first-time whupping Zurich cop ass of a YIP from me...
Beg To Differ Yips! from Gary:
Now c'mon, Steve. If you're gonna put the Star Wars holiday special out there as a candidate for the holiday hall of shame, you gotta do it right.
Princess Leia, at the end of the special, singing the Star Wars theme (yes, someone wrote lyrics). I have it on good authority that this is the prime reason why Lucas has tried so hard to embargo this fiasco. WARNING: Carrie Fisher's voice is as dangerous as the shrieking of one of Professor Sprout's fully-gown mandrake plants. Earmuffs at the ready!
Benjamin Gates was unavailable for comment
This is so going to be crucial to interpreting the maps and codes hidden in the original copy of Jefferson's Bible that Lewis and Clark buried under Mount Rushmore:
NEW YORK - George Washington's commissioned gold medal that was given to Marquis de Lafayette, the French revolutionary who supported the American Revolution, was sold Tuesday at auction for $5.3 million, Sotheby's announced. La Fondation de Chambrun, in Chateau La Grange, Lafayette's home 30 miles east of Paris, beat out two other bidders.
"The medal is a symbol of the bond and friendship between America and France," said Christophe Van de Weghe, a Manhattan art dealer who represented the foundation.
The medal, shaped like an eagle and believed have its original ribbon and red leather box, will be displayed in Lafayette's bedroom, Van de Weghe said. It also might be displayed at Mount Vernon, Washington's former home and slave plantation in Virginia.
Washington, Lafayette and others in 1783 formed the Society of the Cincinnati, a group devoted to maintaining the Revolution's ideals, and eagle badges were given to members. The medal auctioned Tuesday was made to Washington's specifications.
After Washington's death, the medal was presented to Lafayette by Washington's family; it was consigned to the auction by Lafayette's great-great granddaughter.
So, Blogspot users, what is the deal with my not being allowed to leave comments without a blogger/google account anymore?
UPDATE: Oh, I see that I can still get in
anoni, anonny, er, without giving a name. But I used to be able to use my non-Blogger ID and linky to the ol' Butcher shop and that function seems to be gone.
I'm a fan of the original cut, voice-over dialogue and cheap upbeat ending and all, as I saw it in college the first time the same day we were reading Descartes in philosophy, and the scene where Darryl Hannah does the proof of being just made me all a jiggity. But the director's cut was better, and this should be AWESOME.
The latest Barney Christmas video is up over at the White House.
In a word, it's lame, a dull and listless "tribute" to the National Parks that looks as if it was fadged up in about two minutes by some staffer's 2nd grader. And both the Secretary of the Interior and the Chief of the National Parks, neither of whose names I could recall on a bet even after just watching the credits, are both horrid actors. There are a couple "guest star" cameos at the end, but they aren't nearly enough to save it.
Sigh. I recall that when the White House first started doing these vids, they were quite funny and spirited. It seems they have fallen steadily ever since. Fatigue, I suppose.
Still......it is full of clips of Scotties ticka-ticka-ing across marble floors, horsing around with ornaments and frolicking in the snow, so it isn't completely awful. Plus, there's a small segment featuring the Twins. Me, I've always dismissed Jenna as just a party-girl. But Babs? Mmmm, mmmm.
More Extreme Tolkien Geekery
Yesterday, in answer to my musing on the meaning of the red star that Frodo sees low down in the southern sky during his visit to Rivendell, commenter STEVE responds:
I think Tolkien is suggesting that Frodo can indeed see further due to effects of the ring. I assume he is actually seeing all the way to Mordor (or it just may be a vision.)
Well, if this enhanced sight is an effect of the Ring, then not only does it allow its wearer to see further, it also allows him to bend his vision up, down and around. In the passage, the star is clearly said to be in the southern sky. However, by the map of Middle Earth, Mt. Doom is not only south of Rivendell, it is also better than 500 miles east. Plus, their are at least two mountain ranges (the Misty Mountains and the Mountains of Shadow) that stand between Frodo's window and either Mt. Doom or Barad-Dur.
I'm still going with the symbolic on this one. And given Tolkien's later explanation of the formation of the stars by Varda the Valar that makes clear they are beyond the reach of the forces of eeeeevil in Middle Earth, I wonder whether its inclusion isn't just another oversight by the old boy.
Speaking of which, I've always been juuuuust a bit dubious of the passage in The Two Towers in which Legolas stands at the doors of Edoras and is able to see both Mt. Doom and Minas Tirith. Again, looking at the more detailed map of Gondor and environs, there is the problem of the mountain mass looming up directly to the east and south of Edoras. It seems possible that Legolas would have line of sight to Mt. Doom from that vantage point. However, it seems quite implausible that he would also be able to see Minas Tirith, as many of the peaks of the White Mountains, and especially Mt. Mindolluin, lie in the way.
"Tom," I can hear you saying, "you need to get a life."
Geek Yips! from Gary:
There's a forum that bandies around theories of this "red star". My own theory is that the star is the same one he saw in the sky in Chapter Three of "Fellowship", Three Is Company. Here it's referred to as Borgil, and probably corresponds to Aldebaran or Betelgeuse. Though, allegorically, it could certainly represent the red eye of Mordor.
"DUH!" YIPS from Steve-O:
That's no star.......it's a space station!
Sorry, couldn't resist.
Buckley & Co. Endorse Romney
I would argue that their prediction of a "coalition breaking" effect from a Giuliani candidacy is erroneous, though. Quite the contrary, I think Rudy could broaden the Center-Right coalition for Republicans that is currently much heavier on the Right than the Center. I get a little irritated when pundits qualify the "base" as being almost exclusively Evangelical Christians. As far as I'm concerned I'm the base, too. And I ain't no Liberal.
Yips! from Robbo: Despite our joking around with Ol' Fred here, I'm still not very much committed to anybody yet. Mitt, Rudy or even McCain (because of his foreign policy accumen) would all be perfectly acceptable to me.
BTW, I meant to mention this the other day: the Missus is not ordinarily a very political person. I suppose I would categorize her as a right-leaning centrist. However, she caught Mitt's "Mormon" speech last week and was blown away by it. A straw in the wind? Perhaps.
December 11, 2007
Gratuitous Off-Season Posting
I guess I can see the Milledge trade as part of the Nats' strategy to bring in young guys and build them up. (Milledge is 22.) On the other hand, Lo Duca (who is 35), only signed a one year contract and looks to me to be a stop-gap until Jesus Flores is ready to be the full-time plate man.
All I know is that the eldest Llama-ette is not going to like this nooz because Church and Schneider, along with Ryan Zimmerman and Dmitri Young, were the anchors of the team this year and she got very used to watching them. And like her old dad, she is not fond of change.
UPDATE: Well, the sports guys at the WaPo like the Lo Duca deal - comparable to Schneider on defense (although his arm's not as good) and a solid bat. Plus the one year deal gives the Nats all kind of flexibility depending on how Flores comes along.
Sounds pretty good to me.
UPDATE DEUX: Broke the news to the Llama-ette. Her initial reaction, an exclamation of "WHAT?!!" that blended incredulity and hostility, was one of those little tics that reminds me of what an absolute clone the gel is of her late grandfather. It's downright creepifying sometimes.
Anyhoo, she calmed down as I explained the way trading ballplayers works. After pondering things for a minute or two, she said, "But....they're all still friends, right?"
I assured her that everybody was still friends.
Yips! back from Gary:
With Lo Duca you get a team motivator in the clubhouse, a veteran leader. Yes, he can be a hothead sometimes but sometimes that's the kind of spark a young up-and-coming team can use. I'm sorry to see him go (as are a lot of Mets fans) and frankly can't fathom why Minaya didn't sign him. He said PLD was looking for a multi-year deal but this proves otherwise. Plus, we now have THREE catchers signed. WTF?
As for Milledge? Eh, I personally thought he was a bit overrated and it would seem that potential trade partners felt the same thing. I would have certainly preferred to get at least a 2nd tier reliever in exchange but on this one I'll defer to the head office that this was the best they could do at the time. They probably could have gotten more if they did it much sooner.
Full Assimilation Into The Hogwarts Collective Almost Complete
Just started book six last night and I'm already over 100 pages in.
It just occured to me that I'm just about at the same point that everyone else was upon the book's release when a couple of killjoys shouted out the ending to the unsuspecting fans waiting in midnight vigils outside the bookstores.
In hindsight, that really was a dick move.
Yips! from Robbo: Ha! Although I said I would, I still haven't cracked any of the Potter books. Neener, neener!
Fatal Depth: Deep Sea Diving, China Fever, and the Wreck of the Andrea Doria
by Joe Haberstroh
I loooove survival non-fiction. You give me a book about a mountain climbing trip that went awry; a shipwreck; lost in the desert; trapped in a cave; and I am one happy reader. I will bury myself in that book, happy as a rat in a sack of Fritos, for hours. Some of my all time favs from this genre are:
Untamed Seas by Deborah Scaling Kiley
Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales
and of course everything Jon Krakauer has ever written.
So I was pretty excited when I read a review of Fatal Depth in a magazine cousin to the glorious rag Outside. (It was something left at the beach house. Can't remember the magazine name.)
As you know - I hate doing plot synopsis so I'm lifting the dirty work from a customer review at Amazon:
As scuba equipment and technique became increasingly advanced, dives to the "Everest of Scuba Diving", the Wreck of the Andrea Doria, were becoming routine throughout the 90's. Dan Crowell, skipper of the deep dive charter boat "Seeker", had a perfect safety record, repeatedly visiting the site, until the disastrous summers of 1998 and '99, when the "Doria" reasserted her reputation for doom and claimed five divers.
The skeleton details set my imagination on fire. Why is deep sea diving so dangerous? What kinds of trouble do technical divers encounter? Why would anyone risk their life for a plate or cup from the Andrea Doria? What was the Andrea Doria and when did it sink?
I'm happy to report that all of these questions and more are answered in the ably written pages of Fatal Depth. I was, in fact, quite impressed with Joe Haberstroh's ability to weave together the five unrelated stories of diver deaths with the story of the Seeker and the history of the Andrea Doria. It could not have been an easy task, but he carries it off quite well.
The reader learns a lot about the complexities and hazards of deep sea diving, while absorbing the history of the Andrea Doria, plus a good fistful of maritime law. It's the perfect snack book. Crunchy, salty and satisfying. I read it in one day and it was exactly what I hoped ~~ a tasty mind-nosh that doesn't require much chewing. Fatal Depth tastes great - and its great for you too!
Gratuitous This n' That Posting
There's something of a bug working its way through the Family Robbo at the moment. My symptoms have been confined primarily to a kind of drowsy wooziness so far. Not actually incapacitating, but it makes it hard to think straight for any length of time to make the donuts.
Anyhoo, I don't have the energy to do any large posting at the moment, so I'm just going to throw down some random thoughts floating about in my braims at the moment:
***This year for the first time we decorated the wreaths on the front door of Orgle Manor with purple ribbon in honor of Advent. (We'll switch over to red come the 23rd.) I grow increasingly fond of Advent as I get older, probably because the sense of cleansing and preparation of the season is becoming more important to me. I should also mention that while the Missus has no interest in swimming the Tiber with me, the fact that I am has caused her to pay much more attention to her own faith (which to me is a very good thing). She, too, feels the - what? - Advental urge more now than previously.
Now if we could only figure out a way to stop the gels from fighting over who gets to blow out the candles on the dinner table wreath.......
*** My metro reading of late has been Anthony Powell's A Dance To The Music of Time. As I mention, I've been feeling woozy and one of the results is that for the past two days I have been dozing off in the middle of my book and daydreaming character, dialogue and plot details. This is causing me quite a bit of confusion. I fear that I'm going to have to go back and reread a tremendous amount in order to sort out what is real and what I've been imagining. (To give one example, I'm pretty sure that old Mr. Deacon does not have a pierced tongue in the original, nor does he swing from a rope like a circ d'soleil performer.)
***Speaking of reading, what is the deal with the red star glaring away in the southern sky that Frodo can see from his window in Rivendell? Did Tolkien shove that in just for a bit of imagery? Surely he wasn't thinking at that point that Sauron had any power over one or more stars? Oh, and another thing: as the Company is walking south through Hollin, Frodo, Gandalf and Aragorn feel something fly high over them in the middle of the night. I always assumed this was a winged Nazgul on a stealth spy mission. Anybody got a better explanation?
***Recently saw Ocean's 13. I think the ref probably should have stopped the fight at 12. And Ellen Barkin is getting too old to be slinking around like that.
***Holiday Waypoint: Got a Starbuck's eggnog latte this morning and immediately remembered why I never get more than one per season. Yuck.
*** I haven't felt too inclined to post on politics lately, but I have to say that the fallout over the recent NIE "flip-flop" on Iranian nukes is scaring the bejaysus out of me. I was so caught up with Dan Henninger's article on it as I flew back to Dee Cee last Thursday evening that I forgot to be afraid of the actual flying.
***Finally, here's something that makes me smile: Go on over to Scribal Terror and check out the video Gail posted of the dancing dog. (I'd repost it here except I can't find the code and all the copies on YouTube are much poorer in quality.) I have rarely seen such a happy animal. And the conclusion is absolutely perfect.
Aaaaaand We're Back
Sorry about any problems you might have experienced trying to get your morning dose of Llama Madness today. It seems that the cyber-jihadis had another go at Dr. Rusty's Sandcrawler. And while the Sandcrawler itself appears to be bomb-proof, the rest of us on the Moo-Knew continuum seem to have suffered some collateral damage. At least I couldn't get my keys to work for a while.
Anyhoo, hopefully it's all sorted out now.
December 10, 2007
Gratuitous Tee Vee Observation
The past couple days, I've seen an awful lot of ads flogging the premier of the "Sarah Connor Chronicles" next January.
I have to say that I'm moderately intrigued. But I also have to ask what you guys think: Will River Tam make a plausible new-model Terminator? (I already know what the LMC will say to this. He's been wandering the desert ever since "Dark Angel" was cancelled.)
And speaking of such things, watching the Llama-ettes and their friends recently, it occurred to me that the insanely popular Webkinz are probably a Skynet plot, and that when Judgement Day comes it won't be at the hands of sooper-tricked out automated weaponry. Instead, Mankind will be annihilated by legions of small, loveable virtual pets, with big, sad eyes, and names like Fluffy and Jingles. ("Ooooh. I'm sooooo sad that you won't be able to play with me anymore! Goodbye! Blam! Blam! Blam!")
UPDATE: More gratuitous tee vee stuff: who else out there gets a kick out of those new Burger King ads where the moms are trying to off the King? I especially like the "Khaaaaaaan!!" riff in the one where they sabotage his car.
Yips! from Gary:
Which name actually sounds more strange to the ear: Summer Glau or River Tam?
Grand Theft Parsons (2003)
A friend recommended this movie to me, saying it was hysterical. The plot involves the theft of Gram Parson's body by his friend and manager Phil Kaufman after Parsons died in 1973. I hardly knew who Gram Parsons was before I watched this movie, so I have to rely on Wikipedia's knowledge of the incident. Apparently - it is based on an actual event.
Johnny Knoxville plays Kaufman and he does a good job. Christina Applegate is in it and she's good too. Everybody seems to be doing their best to make this film work. The music is good. The editing is perfectly serviceable. It even made me laugh out loud three times. But somehow it just doesn't work for me.
Maybe it's the subject. If you're going to do a movie about the wacky circumstances surrounding someone's demise I just think you need to push the envelope harder than they did. At one point I could see where the Coen brothers would have done a superb job with this material because they excel at walking on the razor's edge between grim and hilarious. It seemed to me that the director wanted characters out of Raising Arizona, but, perhaps due to weak writing, he didn't get them,
It didn't stick with me. Before it was over I'd already forgotten everything that had happened. I re-watched the first few minutes and saw how the whole thing came full-circle in a very well organized way. But I still didn't think it was tremendously funny. You know why?
Because I didn't know Kaufman and I didn't care about him. The film spends no time telling me anything about him before Gram Parsons died. His lines are bland. The dialog goes no where. It took me forever to figure out that he was the center of the story.
And that hardly seems fair to the man, because the brief biography of him I found here makes him sound hilarious and filled with one-liners so sharp they could shave off your eyebrows.
Take what he said about Keith Richards for example:
"Keith [Richards] might get out of control. He might be up till four in the morning, but at seven o’clock he’d be the first guy up and playing his guitar. Keith could eat nails and piss rust. He has the constitution of a cement mixer. What goes in will come out, and he will live."
So - you might like this movie - as my friend did. The biography linked above calls Grand Theft Parsons "half-entertaining." Talk about damning with faint praise! Maybe a few rounds of Quarters before hand will help.
That's Still Sorta My Church!
Yesterday was the Christmas Pageant over at St. Loony-Up-The-Cream-Bun-and-Jam. In a monumental piece of miscasting, the youngest Llama-ette played an angel this year. (The other two had a conflicting piano recital and could not attend.)
I walked in expecting to simply sit and watch to make sure the Llama-ette refrained from stage-diving off the altar. (She had been speaking ominously earlier on about using her wings to "fly".) Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I was marked down in the program to usher the durn thing. It turns out that my general resignation from all offices connected with St. LUTCBAJ never quite made it to the Usher's Guild.
Well, I wasn't going to be churlish about it, so dutifully donned my usher's badge, passed out programs and took up the collection plates. Hopefull, B-16 will understand. I certainly got some odd looks from some of the congregation who were In The Know, however.
As far as the Pageant itself, everything went fine. The key question every year is whether or not the baby tagged to play Jesus is going to put up a fuss. This year's entrant remained docile throughout, so everyone was free to mumble and stumble their way through their lines without distraction as family members snaked up and down the aisle taking pictures. (I saw exactly two people in the congregation who were not directly related by blood to one or more of the cast members.) The Llama-ette managed to control herself, too, perhaps because of my severe warning that if she didn't behave then she'd get not a single sniff of the cocoa, cookies or candycanes in the hall after the performance. I would expect that among the actual cherubim and the seraphim, virtue is probably not a matter of either threat or bribary. In her case, however, I'll use whatever tools are available to me.
BTB, among the carols and hymns sung was "Go Tell It On The Mountain". We sing this every. single. year. And it drives me absolutely batty every. single. year. There are few things more aesthetically ridiculous if not downright patronizing than a gang of well-heeled Episcopalian WASPs trying to sing spirituals. I do wish they would cut it out.
Juliette and the Licks
Sid, over at Leper Pop had a chance to see Juliette Lewis and her band, The Licks on a night out in Chicago recently.
I had no idea that Juliette Lewis even had a band, so it was great to get to go to the show with Sid vicariously. At the end of his post he includes a music video that is like nothing I've ever seen before. She has a delivery that reminds me of Janis Joplin, but I had to watch the video twice just to come to terms with the WTF? Factor.
Seriously, if you're one of the many who had secret tingles for Juliette after watching Natural Born Killers, you have to surf over and go to the show with Sid now.
Update: The other half of Leper Pop also got his eyeful at the show. Check out his review here.
Big cuppa Earl Grey, hot, for Mrs. Keysunset!
Random Commuter Observation
I discovered when I went to put the rear panel onto the ol' Jeep ragtop this weekend that I had somehow managed to break the zipper.
I suppose I'm going to have to have it fixed or replaced. Personally, I don't mind tooling around backless. The Jeep has a very efficient heater and I rayther enjoy having the fresh air tickling the back of my neck. On the other hand, it'll be pretty hard cheese for anybody who has to ride in the back seat.
December 08, 2007
Who Are You And What Have You Done With My Children?
The elder Llama-ettes are doing a model of the Taj Mahal for their semi-annual history project at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. I told them point blank that Ol' Dad wasn't going to shoulder the load this time around. I would take care of tasks that involved very sharp blades or excessive paint fumes, but for the rest of it, they were on their own.
And you know what? The thing isn't turning out half bad. Sure, it's mostly a concoction of styrofoam blocks and balls picked up from Michael's, but still. The eldest gel even took the initiative to fashion a base for the central dome that would raise it up a bit.
Universities and restricted gifts
This article in The Good Times is on how some donors (or their families) are holding colleges accountable for using the proceeds of restricted gifts for purposes other than those intended by the donors. Princeton's potential liability is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
December 07, 2007
Are You Buying Fewer DVDs?
I personally never bought all that many DVDs unless I absolutely knew for a fact that I'd end up watching it again and again, if it had must-see special features or if I saw it priced as an absolute steal in some mega-superstore bin.
This past year, I rented from Netflix: "Transformers" (which no one in the house had yet seen), "Meet The Robinsons" (a favorite of my seven year old) and "Spider Man 3" (which the eleven year old couldn't wait to see again). Other than MTR, each of these were watched by my kids once and when I asked whether or not I should send it back to Netflix in every case I got an apathetic "yeah". If I had purchased any of them, I'd have been pretty pissed knowing that they'd probably have ended up sitting on my shelf unwatched.
I've bought a couple as gifts for Christmas for nieces and nephews who specifically asked for them. But I have no impulse to buy anything on DVD in the near future for myself except "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix". Even my buddy with the giant DVD collection hasn't really been buying any lately.
Anyone else finding this the case? (and don't comment with "I've never bought DVDs" - this question is obviously not for you)
And another thing. I've noticed that many DVDs are now coming in two versions. One has a single DVD with the movie, reg. price $19.99 or so and the other is a two-disc "collector's edition", the second disc being all the special features and usually selling for $29.99 (except for the first week they come out in which case they're usually discounted by about $5 each). The two most recent examples would be "Harry Potter" and "Pirates of the Carribean 3: The Mind-bending Plot Dump"
Now I seem to recall that even movies with second discs (with special features) used to be standard at $19.99. This new packaging/pricing seems like a recent thing. And frankly, it's a real dick thing to do to consumers. Half the time the only reason to buy a DVD is for the special features.
So if the distributors are scratching their heads as to why DVD sales are going down, one answer may be the reaction to this "marketing" move.
As I was idly flipping through the mail that's accumulated in the hall at Orgle Manor in my absence this week, I stumbled across a Christmas card. It features a photo of a family on the front. The family's names appear on the inside of the card, together with a local address and a suitably non-committal greeting for the season.
I have no earthly idea who these people are.
Actually, this is not a-tall an uncommon occurance 'round here. The Missus is the out-going, social half of our team, while I am the misanthropic curmudgeon. Indeed, when I'm actually recognized around town, say at the soccer fields, a birthday party, or some art or social function, I am pretty regularly labelled as "Mrs. Llama's Husband."
(I'd tell you all about the card itself, which is a doozy of its particular type, except that I don't want to get in trouble. I'm pretty sure these people are not friends of ours, but I don't know what position they hold in the Missus' vast, interlocking webs of what Meyer Wolfsheim called "gunnegshuns" and I don't want to give away enough detail to possibly identify them to any other of the Missus' gunnegshuns who might happen to wander in here.)
Let's all coo together now . . . AWwwwwwww!
Yes - they look cute, but they are all needle teeth on one end and "fudge" on the other.
These are my new baby-girl beagle puppies, hereafter to be referred to as the Tri-Colored Peril. We got them from the pound almost a month ago. A pal of mine who knows of such things told me they would bring home kennel cough, but that they would most likely work through it without medicine.
What she didn't tell me is that people can get Kennel Cough. For the past week, Pep and I have been snorting, coughing, hacking, sneezing, and yes, barking full of canine mucous joy. Arf. Arf.
Steve-O told me that if he sees me parading around campus wearing a sweater set matched with the girls in tams and color coordinated leashes he will certainly have to shoot me. Steve is a good friend.
But beyond the disease the Tri-Colored Peril has visited on my household, when under Hell's Bell will these girls be able to control the bowels and bladder?
In all my life I have not seen dogs who poop more. They're three months old and my home is an Oompa-Loompa Fudge Factory . . . only it seems all the Oompa-Loompas the size of a small teddy bear and there must be 47 of them cranking out "treats."
Seriously, when does this newspaper period end?
Living in the magical fudge forest,
Pep asked that I add the following saga to "Kennel Madness" (below the fold) . . .
Revenge Of The Vendetta Of The Rawhide Theft
Gimme that rawhide, bitch!
Come get it!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Chai-rista's Flip Flop!
Gimme that flip flop, bitch!
Come get it!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pepper's Shoe! And it's still on his foot!
Gimme Pepper's foot, bitch!
Come get it!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
You suck more.
Look, Pepper's hand! And he's still wearing it!
Gimme Pepper's hand, bitch!
Come get it!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
I hate you.
I hate you more.
Let's get some water.
Look, Pepper's pants! And he's still wearing them.
Gimme Pepper's pants, bitch!
Come get 'em!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Pounce Bite Claw Bite Yip!
Friday's Bad Music Video - Pt. 3
I'll see your Journey and Gap Band and raise you one Baltimora...
Gratuitous Friday Cheesecake
As long as we're talking about Pearl Harbor, what better excuse to post a photo of...
Splitting up the Dream Team--It's Time to Say Goodbye to the LLamabutchers
Well folks, with Gary's endorsement of the Rudinator below, it forces my hand.
I've got to break with my LLamabrethern on such an important issue of policy and principle that I'm not sure if our blog alliance will be able to survive the split.
I'd like to think that we can remain friends after I swim the Seine, but that might not at all be possible.
If that's the case, if our friendship is shattered, I stand and wave adieu with a heart free of malice or bitterness, with nothing but happy memories of our time blogging together.
I've got to come out of the closet as they say on a very important issue.
It's that I'm...
officially renouncing Melissa Theuriau as the official thinking man's strumpet, and hereby endorsing for once and for all times the one true thinking man's strumpet:
I will brook no dissent on this matter. No Elisabeth Shue, no Mia Sorvino, no Mary Stuart Masterson, and no frog nooz readers.
All Tina. All the time.
That is all.
And yes, in case you were wondering, the new cold medication is mixing nicely with the Vicodin and anti-depressants, thank you very much.
Lest We Forget
Explosion aboard U.S.S. Shaw at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
Today is the Date which will live in infamy.
I've two thoughts on this particular anniversary, one more serious, one not so much.
The first is that immediately after 9/11, many people characterized the attacks as modern day equivalents of Pearl Harbor. But as national attention waivered and partisan politics began infecting the issue, many abandonded this parallel, some even turning to mock it openly. Me, I still think it perfectly valid, and not just in the obvious similarity of the surprise attacks. Admiral Yamamoto knew - all too keenly - that unless the attack on Pearl utterly destroyed the American fleet and so crushed the American spirit that we would immediately sue for peace, then in the end it would actually doom Japan itself because there was simply no way that Japan could take on the awesome military, industrial and economic might of an enraged United States in a protracted conflict. I think we're seeing much the same kind of thing now, albeit on a far more limited scale: whether Osama was just going for a cheap publicity stunt or whether he really believed the United States would crumple under a sneak attack on the homeland, for six years now the American war machine has been slowly, patiently and relentlessly hunting down and destroying the bad guys. We need only keep our resolve, and I believe that ultimately we, too, will be victorious. (Yes things are complicated, yes it's a different kind of war, yadda, yadda. But the principle remains the same. As for complications, I'd also point out that the first U.S. troop landings after the Japanese attack occured in.....Morocco. Perhaps FDR was holding the map upside down.) (And speaking of parallels, I've read several recent histories that argue Japan was pushed into attacking Pearl by the ever-expanding Yankee Imperialist hegemony that was threatening to destroy the Japanese way of life. Sound a-tall familiar?)
Oh, and the less serious point. On a note of felicitous timing, I happen to have Tora! Tora! Tora! wending its way to me from Netflix. Not only is this movie a very good depiction of the events leading up to and including the attack on Pearl, it also contains some of the best durn ariel movie stunts of all time. My favorite, I think, is where the B-17 has to do a touch and go with Zeros swarming all round it. When I was a kid, I went to several air shows put on by the Confederate Air Force, a group that preserved and flew WWII vintage aircraft. They used to do that stunt, sometimes with only one wheel down on the B-17. With all the smoke bombs going off around the runway, it was an awesome display.
***Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and not necessarily reflective of the senior partners here at the Llama Butchers, Steve and Robbo, nor do they represent those of any of the other contributors to the site. I ask them all for their indulgences in this matter.***
There’s been a lot of chatter amongst the punditry that the Republican base (however you define that) is unenthused about the current crop of candidates vying for the nomination for 2008. To some extent, I think that’s true. Republicans were spoiled with Ronald Reagan, whose appeal across demographics and interest groups made him someone everybody could be enthusiastic about. Of course, at that time, I was a Democrat-in-training so even though I liked him personally I had a loyalty to other “team” to consider.
Continued below the fold...
YIPS from Steve-O: Geez louise, with a build up like that I thought Gary was going for the Paulnutz. I can live with Rudy/Admiral Ackbar, although it's not the true Republican dream ticket of Plisskin/Ackbar.
Many Republicans were initially enthusiastic about George W., but have since come to feel that he hasn’t lived up to expectations. Unfortunately, those expectations seem to be tied to the memory of Reagan. Did Republicans expect Bush 43 to live up to that legacy? Perhaps only subconsciously, but I think the answer is “probably”. Some of Bush's negatives are disappointing by normal Presidential standards. But by Reagan standards they seem all the more magnified. Reagan was a man right for his time. He had some incredible successes, made some regrettable mistakes and made a lasting impression in the minds of those old enough to remember him. How on earth can a George W. Bush live up to that? How can any President live up to that?
It’s really not fair to judge the current crop of candidates as the potential heir to the Reagan legacy. Nor is it fair to try and find the candidate that most “resembles” Reagan politically. It ain’t happenin’ because it’s really an apples/oranges comparison. Reagan was one of those Presidents that – if you’re lucky – comes around once every couple of generations.
So for me, trying to use the “Reagan standard” in choosing a candidate to support is mere folly.
At any point in time, a good Presidential candidate needs to demonstrate three things: solid leadership skills, a genuine desire to act in the best interests of the country as a whole and an ability to articulate his or her vision for why they believe they are the best person for the job. In times of peace, even two out of three of these would be good enough. However, at a time of war not only are all three absolutely necessary but you need to add a fourth: a firm grasp of the threat the country is facing and the cojones to make difficult and even unpopular decisions to combat that threat.
Say what you want about Dubya’s shortcomings. In one respect, he has been steadfast – his resolve in the Terrorist’s War On Us. I don’t use that phrase flippantly, because that’s what it really is. As sure as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor pulled us into WWII, Islamic Terrorism has brought us into a conflict that the enemy so adamantly wants to fight. And I don’t mean just 9/11. This War has been waged against us for almost thirty years. It just took the events of six years ago to make (most of us) finally come to acknowledge it.
I am a registered Republican but this wasn’t always so. I’ve been a registered Democrat and a registered Unaffiliated in the past. In 2000, I made the decision to register with the Republican Party so that I could participate in the nomination process. I generally vote Republican these days because I more often than not tend to agree with that candidate over the others. As an individual, I have my share of criticisms for the party I belong to. But the bottom line is that, philosophically, I can support and even defend the Republican position over the Democrat one as much as 80% of the time. If you want to rephrase that as the “Conservative” position over the “Liberal” one, that’s fine. The fact is my votes are driven more by personal philosophy than party orthodoxy.
There are a number of issues out there that I have strong opinions about but they don’t spur me to political activism. There are other issues that “grind my gears” more than others. But there is one issue that absolutely dominates all others for me, that Terrorist’s War on Us that I have already alluded to. These are not "freedom fighters". They are people who fight for the elimination of freedom. This is an enemy that actively seeks to inflict as many innocent civilian casualties as possible. This is an enemy that will gladly give their lives to blow women and children to smithereens. This is an enemy that truly believes that God is on their side. And they will never stop until we are all dead or converted.
Some may throw up their hands and say that such a conflict is hopeless. I don’t. And I absolutely will not. And I will continue to support candidates at all levels of government who are committed to not only fighting back but also fighting to prevent attacks in the first place. I don’t understand a politician who looks at “root causes” of the enemy’s hatred for us. I don’t understand a politician who thinks we can reason with a person who willingly helps strap a belt of explosives to his own son’s torso. I don’t understand a politician who thinks the opinions of other countries take precedence over their Constitutional duty to protect U.S. citizens or take actions to defend this nation from hostile individuals, groups or nations.
In a perfect world, I’d like Ronald Reagan back. This isn’t a perfect world.
I’ll take the best candidate that – in my opinion – feels as strongly about this issue as I do. This is my priority and all other issues (no matter how important) come after it.
No single candidate in the Democratic field even comes close in this respect. In fact, in my opinion, not one of them is worth bag of fertilizer as a potential Commander-in-Chief. True, I have a personal animosity towards She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named but if any of these Democrats were elected President we might as well raise the white flag over the Capitol Dome.
Of the top five viable candidates in the GOP field, I could frankly vote for any of them in November with varying levels of enthusiasm. They all have strengths and weaknesses. They all fall short of the “Reagan standard”. But that’s OK. I wish them all the best in this contest but I can only chose one to support until that person wins or concedes. And it’s not a vote against any particular candidate because I don’t want them but rather it’s an affirmative one.
That candidate is Rudy Giuliani. Living most of my life in Southwestern Connecticut, I’m very familiar with his record as Mayor and as the U.S. Attorney who went after the mob. Giuliani’s efforts in both of these capacities were successful despite having very powerful opposition. He’s always demonstrated strong leadership and shown the ability to make the difficult choices. He has an unflappable optimism about him – not the kind of idealistic optimism that Reagan had but rather a more practical, can-do kind of optimism that fuels his tireless efforts to get things done.
Rudy’s been tested in crisis. He doesn’t wither under criticism. And he knows how to handle the pressure of the spotlight and deal with the media. His position on terrorism is that the country must always stay on offense. On the issue most important to me, Rudy fits the bill.
As I’ve already stated, it’s not that I don’t like the other candidates it’s that I prefer Giuliani the most. And even if I didn’t think he had the best chance to win in November, he’d still be my preference. But, honestly, on top of all the other positives of his candidacy I do believe he is also the candidate with the best chance of winning in November. Rudy can carry all the Bush States of 2004 and flip at least a few more – New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Connecticut (yeah, I know, a whopping 5 Electoral Votes there). He’d also put many States that would be normally "gimmees" for the Democrat in play.
Part of the reason is his appeal to unaffiliated voters. I believe also that – just as he did in New York City – he can attract the votes of Democrats. There is a silent minority in the Democratic Party that doesn’t like the direction that their party has taken but haven’t gone so far as to leave it (as I did). I believe Giuliani gives them someone they can make an affirmative vote for.
So now I’m on record. Feel free to weigh on what an idiot I am if you like. But until he either wins or drops out, I’m a Giuliani guy. And as much as can I will adhere to the 11th Commandment during the process. This isn’t to say I won’t be having opinions on what the other candidates do or say. But being an advocate for Rudy Giuliani doesn’t mean I feel it necessary to rip into the other guys.
Again, my vote is a positive one. And I wish all the contenders the best of luck and may the best man win.
Aslan Is On The Move
It's the new Prince Caspian trailer.
From a quick viewing, it seems that The Chronicles of Narnia are now more firmly LOTR-ed than ever. (And I don't necessarily mean that in a good way.) Even the Prince himself, who is just a boy in the book, seems to have transmogrified into a hunky young Aragorn type.
December 06, 2007
Sometimes depos can be exhilarating, but by God sometimes they can be deathly dull. And I'm sure there is some violation of the professional code of responsibility when one finds oneself, toward the end of the last day, constantly looking at the clock and thinking, "Yadda, yadda. Screw the evidentiary merit. Let's end this thing or I'm gonna miss my flight!"
As for Cleveland? Well, in the words of a literary character I know, "Is dump."***
More posty after I work out the kinks of having been on travel for four days......
***Seriously massive bonus points for spotting the quote. And I'll even give you a clue: Zab and Haddy.
Headlines You Don't Expect To See
My Stick Is Bigger Than Your Stick!
I have to admit I got a giggle out of this story:
Vice President Cheney warned in an interview Wednesday that a premature withdrawal from Iraq would invite “further attacks” against the United States and said he has been surprised by the weakness of the Democratic Congress...It's not wise to go around sizing up Dick Cheney's stick in comparison to your own. It's a known fact that Cheney is so mean he once strangled a man with his just for snoring.
...But his implication was clear: When asked if these men had lost their spines, he responded, “They are not carrying the big sticks I would have expected.”
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who as Democratic Caucus Chair is the party’s fourth-ranking House leader, replied: “Some of us were surprised that the president didn’t have a bigger stick when he could have stood up to Dick Cheney.”...
...Pelosi, in a statement responding to the vice president’s remarks, dismissed his comments and called on the White House to spend its time finding compromise.
“I am hopeful the president will tone down his rhetoric, put down his veto pen and work with Congress to make progress for the American people.”
The shot against the Huckster is nice, but do we really want to see a Fred! versus Chuck Norris showdown?
Come on folks, we're making Baby Jeebus cry here!
Seriously, though, I think one slick liberal former governor of Arkansas from a town cahld Hope is enough for one lifetime, thank you very much.
December 05, 2007
Utterly Cartographic Geeky Coolness
One of the two greatest maps of mystery is going on public display for the first time in the US December 13th at the Library of Congress:
WASHINGTON (Dec. 3) - The only surviving copy of the 500-year-old map that first used the name America goes on permanent display this month at the Library of Congress, but even as it prepares for its debut, the 1507 Waldseemuller map remains a puzzle for researchers. Why did the mapmaker name the territory America and then change his mind later? How was he able to draw South America so accurately? Why did he put a huge ocean west of America years before European explorers discovered the Pacific?
"That's the kind of conundrum, the question, that is still out there," said John Hebert, chief of the geography and map division of the Library of Congress.
The 12 sheets that make up the map, purchased from German Prince Johannes Waldburg-Wolfegg for $10 million in 2003, were mounted on Monday in a huge 6-foot by 9.5-foot (1.85 meter by 2.95 meter) display case machined from a single block of aluminum.
The case will be flooded with inert argon gas to prevent deterioration when it goes on public display December 13.
Researchers are hopeful that putting the rarely shown map on permanent display for the first time since it was discovered in the Waldburg-Wolfegg castle archives in 1901 may stimulate interest in finding out more about the documents used to produce it.
The map was created by the German monk Martin Waldseemuller. Thirteen years after Christopher Columbus first landed in the Western Hemisphere, the Duke of Lorraine brought Waldseemuller and a group of scholars together at a monastery in Saint-Die in France to create a new map of the world.
The result, published two years later, is stunningly accurate and surprisingly modern.
"The actual shape of South America is correct," said Hebert. "The width of South America at certain key points is correct within 70 miles of accuracy."
Given what Europeans are believed to have known about the world at the time, it should not have been possible for the mapmakers to produce it, he said.
The map gives a reasonably correct depiction of the west coast of South America. But according to history, Vasco Nunez de Balboa did not reach the Pacific by land until 1513, and Ferdinand Magellan did not round the southern tip of the continent until 1520.
"So this is a rather compelling map to say, 'How did they come to that conclusion,"' Hebert said.
The mapmakers say they based it on the 1,300-year-old works of the Egyptian geographer Ptolemy as well as letters Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci wrote describing his voyages to the new world. But Hebert said there must have been something more.
"From the writings of Vespucci you couldn't have prepared the map," Hebert said. "There had to be something cartographic with it."
The other map in this category is the Piri Reis map.
Of course, any discussion of the Piri Reis map, and its accurate drawing of the coast of Antartica without glaciers!!!! is just the pretext to show this trailer:
Do you think the President's Book of Secrets would include Grover Cleveland's recipe for BBQ Ribs?
Also, why don't conspiracy theory movies like this focus at all on the successful plot to assassinate William Henry Harrison?
It's funny because it's true
The Fabulous Chai-Rista will get a kick out of this article, as she nominated to succeed her as chair of the Women & Gender Studies committee and I lost by one vote.
Of course, I wasn't in attendance, which is why she nominated me, but the possibilities, they would have been endless...
That's My Church! - Steve-O Edition
Or should that be Steve-O Sedition? You make the call.
Well, since Robbo is enjoying getting his tongue getting unstuck from that school yard flag pole in Cleveland that I double-dog dared him into licking, I guess it's up to me to document the further comings and goings in the Episcopal Church in the US. In all seriousness, I'm a bit of a poor correspondent to chronicle this story: since I took the opposite route of Robbo and crossed the Tiber the other way (by one of the many convenient bridges built for the purpose over the ages) to Canterbury ten years ago to follow The Dear One, I'll confess to meager and insufficient knowledge of issues of hierarchy above the level of the parish. But, as a political scientist, I do know signs of political trouble when I see them, so I'm going to stay away from the theological dimensions of the saga and just talk about it from an organizational and political perspective.
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Episcopal Church faces major tumult this week when an entire California diocese with more than 9,000 members decides whether to secede in an unprecedented protest over gay issues.
The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, based in Fresno and consisting of nearly 50 churches in 14 counties, would be the first diocese to bolt from the U.S. branch of the 77-million-member global Anglican Communion if Saturday's final vote passes.
The U.S. church and Anglicanism generally have been in upheaval since 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the first bishop known to be in an openly gay relationship in more than four centuries of church history.
Dissent over that as well as the blessing of same-sex unions practiced in some congregations has caused a number of defections by traditionalists in the U.S. church.
The 2.4 million-member U.S. church says that out of 7,600 congregations 32 have left, meaning that a majority of members of those congregations have departed and the churches are now considered closed. Another 23 have voted to leave, meaning that significant number of members have said they want to leave.
None of the church's 110 dioceses, however, has taken the final step to depart so far. Dioceses in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Fort Worth, Texas, have also taken preliminary votes to leave, but their final decisions are a year away.
Bishop John-David Schofield, head of the San Joaquin Diocese, says leaving the U.S. church is "a sensible way forward" and one that could later be reversed if "circumstances change and the Episcopal Church repents."
In the meantime his diocese has received what he calls a "welcome" invitation to realign itself, should the vote be affirmative, with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of South America headed by conservative Archbishop Gregory Venables of Argentina.
That, he said, will allow members to remain part of the global Anglican church.
Will the Steve-O (S)edition or revival of That's My Church! Episcopal Mash-up Spiral continue? I have no idea, but probably not, since I don't really know enough to offer an opinion.
What pains me about this though is that there are a lot of people who I'm sure are practically sweating blood in discernment on this on all "sides," but that there is a lot of egging on here from those with a wide variety of agendas that are not necessarily related to the health and mission of the Church who seem to have a variety of vested interests in splitting the Church. At times like this it seems that the Quakers have the much better model for self-government in religious matters.
On A (Somewhat) Serious Political Note
We're finally (in my opinion) getting to the point where it's time for voters affiliated with one of the national parties to start making their decision as to whom they will support for their registered party's Presidential nomination. Starting this process way back to the beginning of this year has been an unprecendented development that I personally think is silly. But having had almost a year to evaluate candidates may have an historic effect on the outcome. Or not. It'll be interesting to see.
That being said, I feel the time is close to being right for me to endorse a candidate. I don't do so because I think anyone particularly cares or that it carries any weight with the opinion of others. I feel like I kind of need to get it out there because, once committed, I'll be "in the tank" for that candidate - until they win or concede. And I can feel free to aim criticism towards any or all the candidates without playing some kind of cutesy "oh, just see if you can guess who I'm for" game.
Steve and Robert will have their own opinions and if they each end up supporting someone different, it'll make for a lively give and take here which will hopefully remain light-hearted in spirit. I started blogging just after the last Presidential election. And while I've tried to keep from letting politics dominate my share of posts here I know I won't be able to keep myself in check for what will no doubt be another polarizing, rancorous election year.
So as soon as I can get my thoughts together, I'll share them and you can start calling me "[insert name here]'s shill". That is all.
YIPS from Steve-O: I've got no such compunctions:
ACKBAR FOR AMERICA 2008
Because isn't it about time for an asexual fish-headed space admiral dude to become president?
I'll be willing to settle for Huckabee/Ackbar.
Something that will give the 12/7 Truthers and Kimmelites a twist in the shorts
Manuscripts of an autobiography by Mitsuo Fuchida, best known as the pilot who led the air attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 8, [sic]1941, and transmitted the famous signal--"Tora, tora, tora"--that indicated that complete surprise had been achieved, have been kept by his elderly son.
The manuscripts describe the briefing on the attacks that his father, then a lieutenant commander in the Imperial Japanese Navy, gave to Emperor Showa, and recount how rivalry among officers affected major strategies--stories that had previously remained untold.
Fuchida commanded the air squadron on the aircraft carrier Akagi, which was among the carriers used in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The manuscripts were written by Fuchida between the ages of 65 and 73, when he died. After his death, his eldest son, who lives in the United States, kept the manuscripts, not showing them to anyone for about 30 years. Two years ago, however, Seiichi Nakata, a journalist and TV documentary maker, learned of the manuscripts and began work putting the papers in order.
According to the manuscripts, 18 days after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Fuchida went with Fleet Admiral Osami Nagano to the Imperial Headquarters to brief Emperor Showa on the results of the attacks, using sketches and photos.
The Emperor was fascinated by the photos, looking at them from all angles, according to the manuscripts.
The scheduled 30-minute audience was extended to 90 minutes. After the audience, the Emperor left with the photos, saying that he wanted to show them to the Empress, Fuchida wrote.
The Emperor, who had been reluctant to attack the United States, must have had mixed feelings on seeing the photos, but displayed his warmheartedness by showing his concern for the Empress, who was worried about the war, Nakata said.
To honor the nine servicemen who died aboard midget submarines that were sunk during the attacks, the Imperial Headquarters designated them Kyugunshin (Nine Military Gods), and announced that they were responsible for sinking the U.S. battleship Arizona, which had actually been sunk by the air attack, according to the manuscript. As a result, naval staff officers had to work hard to mollify the air crews, who were angry to be denied credit for their efforts.
Minoru Genda, then chief of staff of the Imperial Japanese Navy, was a classmate of Fuchida at the Naval Academy and directed the air operations in the early stages of the attacks.
According to the manuscripts, Genda, who became a lawmaker in the House of Councillors after the war, complained in June 1942, while en route to the Battle of Midway, that there was no time for him to prepare strategies for the battle as he was busy putting the navy in order after the Pearl Harbor attack.
The manuscripts attributed Japan's defeat in the war to arrogance and an underestimation of U.S. naval strength.
The Imperial Japanese Navy lost four of its main aircraft carriers in the Battle of Midway, with the losses turning out to be a major turning point for Japan in the war.
Fuchida suffered serious injuries in the battle, but went on to teach at a naval university and later became a staff officer responsible for air operations for the navy, holding the post until the end of the war. After seeing the devastation caused by the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Fuchida converted to Christianity and traveled to the United States to preach his new religion.
Happy Repeal Day!!
Yeah, 74 years ago today Prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I'd say some celebration is in order:
December 04, 2007
Gary, it's time to don the berets
France's artistic elite has turned on American critics who claimed that their nation's culture was dead.
Time claims singer Johnny Hallyday is France's only globally-known icon
The surge of Gallic pride was provoked by the front page of the latest European edition of Time, which asked readers to name a living French artist or writer of international standing.
The magazine itself came up with just one: the singer Johnny Hallyday - who announced this week that he would stop touring in 2009 due to old age.
It added that thousands of artists were only able to survive because of the huge subsidies France poured into culture, and few have had any success abroad.
Time contended that the country that produced surrealism and impressionism had been overtaken by London and New York for art.
Unlike the ground-breaking New Wave movies of the 1960s, it said that the 200 French films made every year were mostly "low budget trifles".
Similarly, the falling clout of the French language meant that very few of its novels were published abroad.
In addition, Time stated that there were no French composers or conductors to match Debussy or Ravel, and whereas Charles Aznavour and Edith Piaf were once heard the world over, the US and Britain now ruled the pop scene.
Not so, said Maurice Druon, the novelist and member of the Academie Française - the high temple of the French cultural establishment - who opened the counter attack in a Figaro article yesterday entitled: "Non, la culture française n'est pas morte!" (No, French culture is not dead!).
"Here we go again," wrote Mr Druon, a former culture minister. "Every four or five years, the US is seized by an anti-French fever that it takes upon itself to communicate to the universe.
"But culture is not determined by the weekly box office. Culture asserts itself over time. Like most of his public, the author from Time confuses culture and entertainment. Can an artist be summed up by his weight in dollars alone?"
Another commentator, Didier Jacob in the Nouvel Observateur, said that the problem stemmed from the American definition of French culture.
"If it could be reduced to an algebraic formula, it would be: De Gaulle + Sartre + baguette + Sophie Marceau's breasts = the culture of France," he said.
Leave it to the idiotards at Time to never have heard of Melissa Theuriau.
Yips! from Gary:
French culture is not dead. It's resting.
Something to consider: if culture is indeed "determined by the weekly box office", the U.S. is pretty screwed.
Then again maybe instead of resting, I should say sleeping. Or at least the French educational system seems to be. As demonstrated by this:
Maybe the question should have been what revolves around France? The answer being: everything.
h/t: The Corner Via The Daily Standard
McLieberman On Iraq: Time To Get With The Program
Sen. Joe Lieberman
(D-CT) (I-CT) [as Ed points out, Lieberman is "technically" an Independent - though to my knowledge I believe he is still a registered Democrat who has yet to officially break from caucusing with that party] and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) have jointly penned an editorial in NH's Union-Leader - taking special aim at the "hurry up and lose" Democrat "leadership" in Congress:
For Congress to fail to provide the funds needed by our soldiers in the field is inexcusable under any circumstances -- but it is especially disappointing right now, coming at the very moment when Gen. David Petraeus and his troops are achieving the kind of progress in Iraq that few would have dared imagine possible just a few months ago.Hear, hear.
We recently traveled to Iraq, where we saw and heard firsthand about the remarkable transformation that our brave men and women in uniform have succeeded in bringing about this year.
As every major news outlet now acknowledges, security has improved dramatically across Iraq since Gen. Petraeus took command and began implementing a bold new counterinsurgency strategy -- the so-called "surge." Today, rocket and mortar attacks have dropped to their lowest levels in 21 months. Car bombs and suicide attacks in Baghdad have plummeted 70 percent. Iraqi civilian casualties are sharply down throughout Iraq. And the number of U.S. soldiers killed in action has fallen for five straight months and is now at the lowest level in nearly two years.
Simply put: a year ago, al-Qaida was winning in Iraq. Now we are.
Our soldiers know they have seized the momentum in this fight...
...Nine months ago, when Gen. Petraeus took command in Baghdad, people of good conscience could disagree about whether his new counterinsurgency strategy would succeed. After so many mistakes and missteps by the Bush administration in Iraq, many Americans were understandably skeptical about the possibility of success.
Now, however, the evidence is unequivocal. The surge is working.
Rather than holding hostage the funding for our troops in the field and writing off the hard-won gains they are secured, it is time for Democrats and Republicans alike to recognize the extraordinary progress that Gen. Petraeus' strategy has achieved -- and build a new political consensus around it.
Just as we demand Iraqi leaders take advantage of the success of the surge to set aside their sectarian agendas and pursue peace, so too it is time for Congress to stop playing senseless partisan games and instead fund our troops -- who have accomplished so much -- without delay. They deserve nothing less.
December 03, 2007
It seemed like a good idea at the time
"Sperm donor" for lesbian colleague hit with action for child support eighteen years after the fact. Via The New York Post and FOX News. Several questions come to mind--"WTF were you thinking, pal?" and "Did your wife agree to this 'donation'?" Family law is one area I have avoided like the plague since passing the bar so I am no expert in the field. Reading between the lines, I wonder if the "donation" was done the old-fashioned way without the intercession of syringe, turkey baster, or anything of that sort. (Remember, the mother was a resident at the time and presumably being worked to death, paid peanuts, burdened by crushing medical school loans, and thus unlikely to afford recreational artificial insemination. A bottle of wine and an hour of "alone time" between the donor and donee is a much cheaper alternative.) If the donation occurred "the old-fashioned way" then it becomes pretty easy to see how the father is liable for child support.
YIPS from Steve-O: My only concern upon reading this (other than for the longevity of my computer monitor, now ensconced in hot decaf green tea) is that it gives the necessary plot twist for a sequel to The Big Chill, which ends pretty much with this happening. Because it's not like Mary Kay Place, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Tom Berenger, Meg Tilly, Glenn Close, or JoBeth Williams are doing much lately.
I think I can speak for all of America when I say, "Oh, for the muthabuttloving soul of America, NO!"
December 02, 2007
A Wing And A Prayer
I'm off to Cleveland in the morning and won't be back until late Thursday. So no bloggy for me until Friday or so. I'm sure the rest of the guys will step up and fill the gap.
In the meantime, I've been watching this beastly storm system making its way across the Midwest and on into the Northeast. From what I can gather, the weather won't be quite bad enough in Cleveland tomorrow to cancel flying. However, it will be bad enough to guarantee a simply beastly trip.
Regular readers will remember my past references to my fear of flying. And indeed, it is due to my posting that we Llamas hold the No. 4 position out of 4.6 mil on a google-search of "I hate flying". However, it's been a while since I've had cause to rant about this. If I read the signs aright, tomorrow is going to provide ample justification for a fresh outburst of terror-induced bloviation.
Who knows? Perhaps we'll move up to medal rank.
Gratuitous Crossing The Tiber Posting
Jeez, you Catholics have got a thing or two to learn about hymn-singing.
At Mass this morning, we were served up four stock 18th and 19th Century numbers, all the tunes being quite familiar to me although some of the words were a bit different. It seemed that my ex-Presbyterian RCIA friend and my humble Anglican self were the only two in the congregation who had any desire whatever to serve them up at any volume greater than a barely-audible mumble.
And let me tell you that when a congregation has to rely on my feeble pipes to carry it, it's got some serious problems.
American courts do not care what it takes
to "effect jurisdiction" over defendants in criminal cases, in the immortal words of Roger Groot, a law professor of Robbo's and mine. This case from the FOX News website has it all, rich defendants on the lam in the United Kingdom wanted for fraud and tax evasion in the United States, connections to famous people, and references to the time-honored profession of bounty-hunting.
TNR finally throws in the towel
on Baghdad Diarist. Via Michelle Malkin.
December 01, 2007
25 Years Later--THE PLAY
For tonight's Cal-Stanford game, still the greatest play in American Sports History:
The Gift of Insight
Obviously, the self-advertising department of the New Republic is unaware of the editorial content of their own rag. The following screencap from page 15 of their crow sandwich, having to eat the words of their "Baghdad Diarist"'s fabulistic libelous crapola, is absolutely priceless:
Schadenfreude Yips! from Gary:
Excuse me. If I may.
Sometimes a "per se" is just a per se
Others, it's a pregnant bull donkey.
The fallout from the neutron bomb that was Lions for Lambs continues:
This summer, UA secured a $500 million film financing fund from Merrill Lynch to finance 15-18 films over five years. MGM put up the equity portion of the fund, likely meaning $50 million to $60 million. That way, MGM owns UA titles. Harry Sloan's MGM owns 65% of UA; Wagner and Cruise own the rest.
Wagner said that "Lions" represents everything that the revitalized UA stands for, and that its importance extends beyond just box office haul. She said the film helped UA secure the Merrill Lynch fund.
"We do recognize that it hasn't performed as well as we would have liked, but we don't regret making it. I think it's very important that a film company be judged by a slate of films, not just one film," Wagner said.
"It was a Robert Redford film that was timely, relevant and engaging. It represented the very essence of the United Artists legacy, and it made perfect sense for it to be our first movie," she continued. "You have to look at us as a start-up company. We had zero assets. The cupboard was bare. Now we have one movie in our library, a movie we are very proud of."
"Lions" is hardly the only film that underperformed this fall, or that will lose money. Other disappointments include New Line's political drama "Rendition," DreamWorks-Paramount's Ben Stiller laffer "The Heartbreak Kid," U's "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and Fox-Walden's "The Seeker: The Dark is Rising," to name some examples.
UA insists that "Lions" is in no way a reflection of Cruise's star status, and that it wasn't a Tom Cruise movie, per se.
Heaven's Gate, anybody?
The movie's unprecedented $40 million cost (equivalent to about $120 million as of 2006) and poor performance at the box office ($3,484,331 gross in the United States) generated more negative publicity than actual financial damage, causing Transamerica Corporation (United Artists' corporate owner at the time) to become anxious over its own public image and withdraw from film production altogether.
More Extreme Tolkien Geekery
The Hundredweight Feast, at which it snowed food and rained drink. I've always loved that.
Voortrek Tech Bleg
Capt. LLama is going through a tech upgrade around their house, and has asked me, his son, for advice on a topic that is delicate: how exactly does one extract oneself from AOL?
They're going the cable modem/wireless route, which I've got a handle on what they need. But the big question is, if you cancel your AOL service, can you keep your AOL email address? I've pointed out that it is awfully expensive for just an email address, the key being not having to send around an announcement of the new address to a free account on yahoo, gmail or the like. I don't think he uses the AOL IM features so that's not a problem I believe (although easy to remedy, as ou just install their IM software separately).
Advice/suggestions are appreciated, keeping in mind that Capt. LLama is a regular reader so keep your AOL jokes to a minimum.