May 31, 2008

Happy Birthday to Brooke Shields

who is 43 today, according to the local fish-wrapper. I do not think she has ever really lived up to her billing but she is aging gracefully and seems to have steady work. (Disclosure--I am partial to brunettes.)

Unlike most of the Hollywood crowd, Brooke has a college education (Princeton B.A., French literature) and I give her style points for the way she handled the crackup with Andre Agassi. She has has not, to my knowledge, ever indulged in any of the three sure signs of a starlet whose career is on the skids. (Regular readers will know what I mean.)

Brooke Shields Pictures

Brooke Shields celebrity profile

Posted by LMC at 04:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BSG-Lucy Lawless to be "unboxed"

The teaser for next week's episode has Cylon Number Three making a comeback:

Flixster - Share Movies

Gabrielle cannot be far behind ---

Flixster - Share Movies
Posted by LMC at 07:39 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 30, 2008

Draw your own conclusions

Obama's message to "Caucus4Priorities" last year.

H/T to Limbaugh who featured this in the first hour of today's programming.

Posted by LMC at 11:59 AM | Comments (264) | TrackBack

Just Settin' On The Porch Weekend


This evening Robbo and family will be heading off for the annual trip to Shrine Mont, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginny retreat out in the Shenandoah Valley. It's a very relaxing place where one can turn the kiddies loose to do pretty much whatever (most of it involving the large pond on the grounds) while oneself basically sits about with an adult beverage in hand and gossips.

All the parishes in the diocese are assigned specific weekends at Shrine Mont for their annual retreats. RFEC always goes the weekend after Memorial Day. And it always rains. (Forecast for tomorrow? True to form, cloudy with a 70% chance of showers and thunderstorms.)

No doubt you're saying, "But Tom - why are you going to an Episcopal retreat?" Well, for the family, of course. And because I happen to like the place. And this year, my Catholic sponsor - whose wife also attends RFEC - has been persuaded by my ecumenical example to come on out with his family, too. I reckon that the two of us can sit around and complain about the lack of fish on tonight's menu.

UPDATE: Just because it's Friday -

Posted by Robert at 11:31 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Lliterary Praise

Buy this book right now:


Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Michael Ward.

Now I'll confess that the author had me from his initial remarks about the Ptolemaic Universe and the Music of the Spheres, the latter of which concepts I especially believe in, but this is turning out to be a seriously seriously good study of the Chronicles of Narnia (or the Narniad, as it is often called). Many scholars have tried to find a pattern linking all of the Narniad books together - references to the life, death and resurrection of Christ, allegories on the Cardinal Virtues or the Deadly Sins, and so on. But while there are certainly many elements of these throughout the Narniad, trying to piece all of them together uniformly under any one design just doesn't work out.

Ward's theory is that Lewis built the Narniad in a different way, namely by basing both the poiema (that is, the "feel") as well as the logos (that is, the actual story) on the elements and attributes associated in the Medieval mind with each of the seven planets of the pre-Coperinican system (that is, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). Ward supports his theory with many, many references to Lewis's other works (both fictional and non-fictional), to his literary antecedents (particularly his favorites Spencer and Dante) and, of course, to the Bible.

For example, Ward posits that The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe represents the "Jupiter" of the Narniad, associated as it is with themes of kingliness. Here's what Lewis himself had to say about Jupiter:

Jupiter, the King, produces in the earth, rather disappointingly, tin; this shining metal said different things to the imagination before the canning industry came in. The character he produces in men would now be very imperfectly expressed by the word 'jovial,' and is not very easy to grasp; it is no longer, like the saturnine character, one of our archetypes. We may say it is Kingly; but we must think of a King at peace, enthroned, taking his leisure, serene. The Jovial character is cheerful, festive, yet temperate, tranquil, magnanimous. When this planet dominates we may expect halcyon days and prosperity. In Dante, wise and just princes to to his sphere when they die. He is the best planet, and is called the Greater Fortune, Fortuna Major.

- From The Discarded Image, Chapter 5.

(Personally, I prefer the adjective "Jovian" to "jovial" - the latter, in my mind, has become too closely associated with mere jollity and merriment, and lacks the power and majesty associated with the true kingliness of Jupiter that Lewis is talking about.)

Ward, by the way, is an Anglican priest and, so far as I can tell, appears to be proof that not all of them have gone insane. Here is a small snippet of what he has to say about Lewis, this theme of Kingliness and Christianity in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe:

[..I]t was Lewis's belief that 'the world of Christianity', no less than the world of fairy-tale, 'makes the heart and imagination royalist.' Lewis accepted the scriptural understanding of Christ as 'the King of kings' (Rev. 17:14; 19:16) and was of the view, with Hooker, that 'the universe itself is a constitutional monarchy.' If he had lived to learn of Philip Pullman's 'republic of heaven' he would not have regarded it as a satisfactory alternative to the traditional monarchical conception of the divine dwelling-place; he would have thought it an imaginative solecism because it is anthropocentric. A 'republic of heaven,' presumably with its own elected President, would be a Feuerbachian example of religion as projection, the creation of God in the citizens' own image.

Christianity makes the imagination royalist, in Lewis's view, because human kins (that is, good kings - things are defined by their perfection) are a reflection at the creaturely level of an aspect of divine nature which naturally attracts respect. 'Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes or film-stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served: deny it food and it will gobble poison.' By the nature of their office, elected prime ministers and presidents could not elicit honour in the same manner as kings, Lewis thought, because their status is temporarily meritocratic, not innate or confirmed by religious sanction. However politically desirable a republic might be, it remains unable to compete imaginatively with monarchy because monarchy in principle more completely mirrors the nature of divine authority. One of the great imaginative advantages of the genre of fairy-tale or romance is to allow for the presentation of such a principle. In fairy-tale the author can leave behind the shallows of the 'realistic' novel, and it free to show the reader something better than mundane norms. What might it be like if human kings really did exhibit perfect kingship? The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe attempts an answer.

Incidentally, I finally and succinctly realized when reading this passage why I have always been a royalist at heart.

I'm only now making my way through the chapter on Jupiter and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and have yet to reach Ward's application of his thesis to the other six books, so I don't know how it will hold up, or indeed whether I even believe it (although I find it perfectly plausible so far). But the combination of subject matter and scholarship is making this a truly wonderful book. As I say, go buy it. Now.

And speaking of buying, reading this book is going to cause me to buy a whoooole lot of other books by Lewis himself, including, finally, all three of his space trilogy. I've read Perilandra before, but never Out of the Silent Planet or That Hideous Strength. For all that Ward talks about them, I almost feel I have no real choice in the matter now.

On the musickal front, I'm also going to have to buy a performance of Gustav Holst's The Planets. Most of its movements are quite tedious to me. However, I think that Holst captures very well that air of Jovian jollity discussed above, and I've had that particular dance running through my head for the last couple days now. (I also like his treatment of Mars and his driving remorselessness. I'll be interested to see if and how that matches up with Ward's discussion of Mars, Lewis and Prince Caspian.)

UPDATE: BTW, here's Dr. Ward's website if you want to visit for more details.

Posted by Robert at 08:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Die Fledermaus - Update

Last evening, as I finished reading a chapter of By the Shores of Silver Lake (the chapter on the black ponies, if anyone is interested) to the eight year old, I looked up to discover that a bat was flying about in the little dressing room off the master bedroom of Orgle Manor while the cats look'd at each other with a wild surmise - silent, by the dressing room door.


The room -an architectural oddity - is about five by twelve with a pair of skylights plus a pair of windows. The bat was swooping back and forth between the two skylights, evidently puzzled by what it had got itself into. Skooshing the cats away, I went into the room, opened both the windows, grabbed the lid of the wicker laundry hamper as a shield and, after several fruitless attempts, finally persuaded the little chap to exit stage left via one of the windows.

This is two bats in the house in just over a week, which leads me to believe that the first one didn't just blunder in, but that they are nesting somewhere (probably up under the roof). Oh, well - it sure beats the infestation of hornets in the backyard last summer. Nonetheless, I suppose I had better call somebody to deal with it.

The eight year old watched my bat-corralling activities with every sign of delight. The very first thing I said to her when it was gone was, "Please don't tell your mother about this," my motive being simply to preserve the Missus from unnecessary stress. And of course, the very first thing the gel did when she got the chance was - - tell her mother about this.

Double sigh.

Truthiness is all well and good in itself, but it's evident that we're going to have to work on the gentle art of discretion at some point, too. Or to quote from the lyrics to the old Mad About You theme, "Tell me all your secrets and I'll tell you most of mine."

(BTW, in the Homer Nods category, in my last post about bats in the house I told an anecdote (since removed) about the Mother-in-Law, bats and moving houses which, I have since been informed, I completely fouled up. In fact, there was no connection between the latter two. Sorry about the misinformation - my bad.)

Posted by Robert at 07:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 29, 2008

Gratuitous Domestic Observation

I'm rayther glad to see this. In an op-ed at reviewing Hara Estroff Marano's new book on the evils of over-parenting, A Nation of Wimps, Tony Woodlief cautions against "bring[ing] a bazooka to a skeet shoot":

Unfortunately, it's not just the parents aiming their elementary-school kids at Harvard and Stanford who draw Ms. Marano's fire. It's parents who don't send their children off to sleepaway summer camps. It's those nutty home-schoolers. It's women professionals who choose to be stay-at-home moms while their children are young and parents who prefer not to hand their infants over to a daycare center. It's cellphones, and globalization and American individualism.

Ms. Marano is fond of referring to "how things used to be," but she seems to idealize a sliver of American parenting history, one that started shortly after Gloria Steinem declared stay-at-home mothers valueless and ended before millions of women decided that Ms. Steinem and her crowd were saps. In the how-things-used-to-be category, it is helpful for us to remember that Teddy Roosevelt, the quintessential American anti-wimp -- he once killed a mountain lion with a knife -- grew up enjoying a close relationship with his parents, including extended family vacations (no summer camp!), home schooling (call the teachers' union!) and close contact even after he left for college (cut the cord, Mrs. Roosevelt!). TR's own children suffered similar "overparenting," yet they went on to be war heroes and successful citizens. American history teems with similar examples.

While some parents nowadays do intervene too quickly to solve their children's problems, their eagerness doesn't mean that, say, teens who rely on their parents for advice are necessarily overparented. Some stay-at-home moms have trouble letting their children explore the world, but many encourage it. My highly educated wife home-schools our four boys, for example, because she can accomplish in three hours what public schools need six to do poorly. Such efficiency gives our sons an extra three hours each day to build forts, go down to the creek in our backyard or give music recitals at a nursing home in town.

So Ms. Marano's criticism of those who don't suit her limited model of parenting goes too far.

Unfortunately, this is a fairly easy trap to fall into when bashing hot-house parenting. Certainly doesn't mean that the bashing isn't warranted, because it certainly is, but we should be careful about falling into antidotal stereotypes as well.

This is not to say that I wouldn't find Marano's book interesting. And indeed, as Woodlief notes, she lays her finger on what I believe to be the real problem:

But she scores a lot of points along the way. She notes that, even as parents obsessively strap bike helmets on their kids' heads and squirt antiseptic gels on their hands, the adults themselves cavalierly break up families with divorce and tolerate the rampant sexualization of prepubescent girls. In short, we're focusing on the wrong risks. Ms. Marano champions instead that delightfully old-school trait known as grit. Let children take risks, she insists. Let them learn from failure. Let them experience all the childhood freedoms and disappointments that are common in the lives of our nation's heroes. The college-admissions consultants can wait.

Emphasis mine. I think this is absolutely spot-on and is the truest statement of the absurdity of modern day parental culture.

Interestingly, it happens that one of the boys in the eldest Llama-ette's class was ragging her the other day about all the movies (mostly PG-13 and R action/adventure stuff) he's seen but that she hasn't. I won't go into detail, but suffice to say that this boy is terribly over-indulged by way of compensation for his parents' split. The Llama-ette told him that the reason she hadn't seen them was because her Dad wouldn't let her. The boy said something like, "Wow! Your dad must be insane! How can you live with someone that crazy?"

The gel became positively enraged, and was still trembling with fury when she told me about it that evening. But here's the kicker: she was furious not because of all the movies she'd missed out on, but because the boy had the audacity to insult me.

I was touched. To. The. Core. And as I am absolutely convinced that the single best protection a girl has against the pitfalls of the world is a strong relationship with her father, I was gratified by the feeling that, yes, I must be doing something right.

Posted by Robert at 09:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Happy Oak Apple Day!


Yes, today is not only the birthday of Charles II in 1630, it is also the anniversary of his return to London and the restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 after Cromwell's rat-bastard "protectorate" collapsed on itself. The "oak apple" refers to the episode in which Charles hid in the Royal Oak at Boscobel House in order to escape Roundhead patrols after his loss of the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

Aaaaand, here's a piece of trivia which I did not know: Virginia is known as the "Old Dominion". Apparently, this name was given by Charles himself because the colony remained staunchly Royalist during the Cromwellian Dark Times.


Posted by Robert at 08:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation

Remember how people used to leave the the price tag and vehicle invoice pasted to the windows of the cars they had just bought? I dunno about other parts of the country, but in my neck of the woods they don't seem to do that any more.

Gives one juuuuust a bit of hope.

Posted by Robert at 07:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2008

Obamessiah And The Sermon On Foss Hill

I had not paid much attention to the fact that He Who Thinks He Walks On Water wound up (owing to the brain tumor of Teddy Kennedy) delivering this year's commencement address at my old alma mater of the Glorious People's Soviet of Middletown, CT. Over at NRO, Jim Manzi gives this take:

I don’t have a visceral reaction to Barack Obama one way or the other, but I sure found his commencement address at Wesleyan to be pretty off-putting. He smugly put himself forward as an exemplar of the well-lived life, and proceeded from this to the more politically significant solipsism of imagining how much better America would be if it were filled with people who were a lot more like Barack Obama.

After some throat-clearing, Obama gets into the meat of the speech by offering himself as a role model for the graduating seniors:

But during my first two years of college, perhaps because the values my mother had taught me —hard work, honesty, empathy — had resurfaced after a long hibernation. . . . I wrote letters to every organization in the country I could think of. And one day, a small group of churches on the South Side of Chicago offered me a job to come work as a community organizer in neighborhoods that had been devastated by steel plant closings. My mother and grandparents wanted me to go to law school. My friends were applying to jobs on Wall Street. Meanwhile, this organization offered me $12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an old, beat-up car. And I said yes.

The single sentence paragraph at the end of this section has got to be my favorite part of the speech, though Obama modestly allowing that his evident virtues of hard work, honesty, and empathy are due to his mother is a close second.

What’s funny about his sacrifice is that when Obama took this job, $14,000 was about the average salary for somebody getting out of college. Of course, Obama wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill college graduate; he was an Ivy-Leaguer, who graduated from Columbia with a BA in political science. A corporate career would almost certainly have been more lucrative — for a while. Last year, his family income was about $4,200,000. I don’t have the data, but I bet that compares reasonably favorably with the average household income of 1983 Columbia political science and 1991 Harvard Law School graduates. Nonetheless, Obama did sacrifice some of his expected credential-based wage premium for a number of years.

I’m pretty far from being a John McCain booster, but does Obama not get that he’s running against a guy who spent the directly analogous years of his life in a fetid jungle prison being hung upside down and beaten with sticks until his bones broke?

And I said yes. Cry me a river, pal.

Go read the rest, as Jim has much more on Obamessiah's application of his little life lessons to everyone in the country.

Back in the day when I was a soon-to-be newly-minted alum sitting out on the field behing Olin Library in 105 degree heat and a red nylon robe, our commencement speaker was Bill Cosby (one of his daughters was in my class). Cosby stood up at the podium, looked us up and down, and said (as near as I can recollect):

"Class of 1987........Big. Freakin'. Deal."

His general theme was that we ought to get over ourselves - that life was not all protest rallies and political idealism and the pursuit of Nirvana, but instead was the ordinary grind of ensuring that one had a roof over the heads of oneself and one's family and enough food in the fridge for same and thank God we lived in a system that allowed one to do so. In short: you're a bunch of dumbass college kids - grow up, get a job, work hard, take care of your loved ones.

Cosby's theme did not, perhaps, fire the stoodents' imagination quite the way one might like, and I recall that the class president - a fellah from South Africa elected due to the fact that anti-Apartheidism was en vogue at the time - felt it necessary to shape his own address as a kind of rebuttal to Cosby's words of wisdom.


All these years later, when I compare HWTHWOW's earnest self-promotion with Cosby's humorous but sensible life lessons, I'm still very much inclined to go with the Cos. After all, he is the man who came up with Chocolate Cake:

Yips! from Gary:
Campaign slogan of the day:


Posted by Robert at 09:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

When, Senator?

Ouch, this a pretty durn good ad:

Because if he DOES go, he'll both look like a fool and suffer the outrage of the nutroots. Either way, he loses on this one.

Posted by Gary at 02:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Seven Years' War Posting

Washington Militia.jpg

Today is the anniversary of the Jumonville Affair in 1754, in which young Lt. Col. George Washington of the Virginia Militia led an attack of about 40 men against a party of 35 Frenchmen under the command of Joseph Coulon de Villiers, Sieur de Jumonville, at what became known as Jumonville Glen near present-day Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The clash was the first (and perhaps inevitable) shot of the struggle between the French and British for control of the Ohio Valley, which spread not only into a contest for domination of North American, but provoked worldwide war as well.

Depending on who you believe, either the French fired first or else Washington and his men ambushed them as they slept. Either way, the battle was over in 15 minutes, with an utter defeat of the French. Jumonville was wounded in the battle and taken prisoner, but was later murdered by a Seneca ally of Washington. The French blamed Washington himself for Jumonville's death, and sent a retaliatory force under his half-brother to attack the British force. They encircled and trapped the Brits at Fort Necessity and on July 4, 1754, forced Washington to surrender the garrison there. Washington himself was made to sign a "confession" in French (which he didn't understand) that he had "assassinated" Jumonville.

Horace Walpole, British diplomat, was to describe the battle as "a volley fired by a young Virginian in the backwoods of America [that] set the world on fire." Washington himself was to say of it, "I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me there is something charming in the sound."

Regular readers will know that I've long been fascinated by American Colonial history and have maintained that it is absolutely impossible to comprehend the Revolution without knowing something about that history. (Sample rants can be found here, here, here, here, here and here.) Unfortunately, it is a branch of knowledge almost entirely ignored these days - especially in schools - and the complexity of issues and attitudes that led to that fateful day on Lexington Green twenty-one years after the opening shots at Jumonville (a complexity, I would add, that goes back even further than 1754) is virtually unknown. This inevitably leads to the casting of the Revolution itself in comic-book terms (Colonies: Good. King: Bad.) In my crankier moments, I think this dumbing down is quite deliberate.

UPDATE: Our pal GroovyVic sends along this pic of a statue of Washington in British uniform, apparently the only one of its kind:


Posted by Robert at 10:02 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Rumors to the contrary....

I had been observing Sadie's first rule of the light blogging club: don't talk about the light blogging club. But I've been getting an increasing stream of emails wondering "WTF?" so I thought I would break radio silence for a sec and let everyone know I'm in fine fettle.

I just checked the logs, and I've been AWOL from the LLamas since early March (my last real post was during McSkeevey-gate, which seems like three centuries ago). My blog sabbatical was partially unplanned: basically, the end of the semester was busting my stones with an inordinate amount of close detail work that I needed to focus in on. While that is done, I've settled in to my real world writing projects for the summer. This was the part that was planned: I needed to take a break from blogging for a bit as the "Steve-O intrepid blogger" persona was draining the juice out of my real world writing. I have a number of big projects I'm trying to finish off and they require a level of writing focus that the short staccato bursts of blogging tend to undermine. I come up for promotion next spring, so now's the time to settle in and focus.

So my thanks to Robbo and the team for holding up my end for now, and sorry for leaving you guys hanging for awhile.

One last thing: I saw Indiana Jones and the Search for the Missing Social Security Check last night. First reaction: meh. Second reaction: ugggh. There were about ten cool minutes (a glimpse of the Ark, the scene where they're talking about WW2), but other than that, I thought the whole thing was rather souless. Worse, they had no idea how to end the thing. And the thought of Indy as an Associate Dean---probably the worst job a professional can have in academia---was downright depressing. About the only Speilberg/Lucas early movie not referenced or nodded to was Jaws, and it would have been nice if a giant white shark ate them in the Amazon when they had a chance.

CGI---great on the small screen, still souless on the big screen.

Posted by Steve-O at 09:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rumors to the contrary....

I had been observing Sadie's first rule of the light blogging club: don't talk about the light blogging club. But I've been getting an increasing stream of emails wondering "WTF?" so I thought I would break radio silence for a sec and let everyone know I'm in fine fettle.

I just checked the logs, and I've been AWOL from the LLamas since early March (my last real post was during McSkeevey-gate, which seems like three centuries ago). My blog sabbatical was partially unplanned: basically, the end of the semester was busting my stones with an inordinate amount of close detail work that I needed to focus in on. While that is done, I've settled in to my real world writing projects for the summer. This was the part that was planned: I needed to take a break from blogging for a bit as the "Steve-O intrepid blogger" persona was draining the juice out of my real world writing. I have a number of big projects I'm trying to finish off and they require a level of writing focus that the short staccato bursts of blogging tend to undermine. I come up for promotion next spring, so now's the time to settle in and focus.

So my thanks to Robbo and the team for holding up my end for now, and sorry for leaving you guys hanging for awhile.

One last thing: I saw Indiana Jones and the Search for the Missing Social Security Check last night. First reaction: meh. Second reaction: ugggh. There were about ten cool minutes (a glimpse of the Ark, the scene where they're talking about WW2), but other than that, I thought the whole thing was rather souless. Worse, they had no idea how to end the thing. And the thought of Indy as an Associate Dean---probably the worst job a professional can have in academia---was downright depressing. About the only Speilberg/Lucas early movie not referenced or nodded to was Jaws, and it would have been nice if a giant white shark ate them in the Amazon when they had a chance.

CGI---great on the small screen, still souless on the big screen.

Posted by Steve-O at 09:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Billy Pitt!

Billy Pitt.jpg

William Pitt the Younger, Prime Minister of Britain from 1783 to 1781 and again from 1804 to his death in 1806, was born this day in 1759 in the village of Hayes, Kent.

Pitt has always been one of my political heroes. Nominally a Tory but a pragmatic independant (he championed, among other things, the abolition of slavery and Catholic emancipation), he held the line during the turbulant times caused by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic War, fending off the Jacobin plottings of that rat-bastard Charles James Fox and then later joining Britain to the Third Coalition against that Napoleon. (He is said to have died in part as a result of the news of Napoleon's crushing defeat of the Coaltion at the Battle of Austerlitz.)

Posted by Robert at 09:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

State Department eying directed assignments

This is on Drudge. The most important jobs State Department employees fill are on the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Our area had a USAID official who worked out our side of the Tigris and did an outstanding job. I never figured out how he could ride in military vehicles all the time yet never seemed to have a speck of dust on his blazer, tie, dress shirt or the rest of his outfit.

Posted by LMC at 06:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 27, 2008

Bring. It. On.

Vaclav Klaus offers to go toe-to-toe with the Gore-acle over the issue of "global warming". Money quote:

"Like their (communist) predecessors, [the climate alarmists] will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality."

"In the past, it was in the name of the Marxists or of the proletariat - this time, in the name of the planet."

Klaus grew up in Soviet-dominated Checkoslovakia, a country that for decades suffered under the brutal regime of people who believed they knew better than anyone else and were willing to say it with tanks. I think he can tag a watermelon (green on the outside, red on the inside) when he sees one.

UPDATE: Via Arts & Letters Daily comes a long essay by Freeman Dyson examining environmentalism as a secular religion and all the social, political and economic pitfalls that go with it.

UPDATE DEUX: Oh, and did I say Global Warming? I meant Global Cooling. Or sumfin'. As the Bovina Bloviator notes, the gradual shift in meme from "global warming" to "climate change" gives the command & control crowd ample room to adjust to whatever Ma Nature cares to serve up. Doesn't matter what the weather's doing, it's Bad. And it's All Our Fault.

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

Steel Robbo's LLama heart

whenever he "flies the friendly skies."

Posted by LMC at 07:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If Llamas Had Wings, Etc., Etc.

This article about techniques used by airlines to improve fuel efficiency and save money caught my eye:

Drivers have long known that slowing down on the highway means getting more miles to the gallon. Now airlines are trying it, too — adding a few minutes to flights to save millions on fuel. Southwest Airlines started flying slower about two months ago, and projects it will save $42 million in fuel this year by extending each flight by one to three minutes.

On one Northwest Airlines flight from Paris to Minneapolis earlier this week alone, flying slower saved 162 gallons of fuel, saving the airline $535. It added eight minutes to the flight, extending it to eight hours, 58 minutes.

That meant flying at an average speed of 532 mph, down from the usual 542 mph.

"It's not a dramatic change," said Dave Fuller, director of flight operations at JetBlue, which began flying slower two years ago.

But the savings add up. JetBlue adds an average of just under two minutes to each flight, and saves about $13.6 million a year in jet fuel. Adding just four minutes to its flights to and from Hawaii saves Northwest Airlines $600,000 a year on those flights alone.

United Airlines has invested in flight planning software that helps pilots choose the best routes and speeds. In some cases, that means planes fly at lower speeds. United estimates the software will save it $20 million a year.

The reason the article got my attention is because I am pretty firmly convinced of another technique being used, namely staying at cruising altitude a little bit longer than normal and then using a steeper descent angle to work into the landing circuit. The past couple flights I've been on have seemed to come down unusually hard when starting their initial descent, judging by the twinge in my stomach and by the sound of the air rushing over the wings.

You may laugh, but I'll bet it's true. Makes sense, anyway, and just because I'm phobic doesn't mean it's not happening......

(Speaking of laughter, I can hear the LMC - veteran of the Vomit Comet into Baghdad - guffawing from here.)

Posted by Robert at 03:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama-ette Movie Review


The ten year old saw Prince Caspian last week with her class at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method and came home full of commentary. She seemed particularly exercised by the failed attack on Miraz's Castle and by the love interest between Caspian and Susan, neither of which was in the original, but which the producers nonetheless apparently deemed necessary to add to the movie (in order, I explained, to sell tickets).

I offered that if the gel were to write up her review, I'd be perfectly happy to post it here. The idea definitely appealed to her, but experience tells me that she probably won't get around to doing the essay. Thus, I give you her general summary:

"Let's put it this way: If you haven't read the book, I think it's a pretty good movie. If you have read the book, you probably won't like it very much."

Fair enough, from what I've read elsewhere. Of course, if she does put her thoughts to paper, I'll be sure to pass them along. I myself probably won't bother with the movie.

Posted by Robert at 09:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Memorial Day Weekend Roundup

I know that it really is not quite proper to view Memorial Day as just another holiday, a chance to go to parties and catch up on the yardwork. Nonetheless, that's pretty much what I found myself doing this weekend:

- Three cookouts on three successive evenings, well beyond Robbo's usual level of social activity. Fortunately, two of them were just with other families and only one was a large party, a form of entertainment which I find increasingly loathesome as I get older.

- Lots of time in the yard - we had some new grass laid in last week which has transformed the side yard beyond all description and I spent much of the weekend fiddling with the sprinkler (chuckling to myself all the while that "watering in the sod" is one of those expressions that sounds dirty but really isn't), plus putting the finishing touches on the new landscaping with brick pavers round the edges. Inspired by the new cleanliness of the area, I also cleared out a lot of overgrown brush nearby, actually getting the Llama-ettes to help me drag branches back to the woods without a squawk. Indeed, I got so far down my to-do list that yesterday morning I found myself tackling the poison ivy that's trying to establish itself in the beds round the east side of Orgle Manor. Feel the burn, baybee!

- Lots of time in the garden, too: I haven't written much about it this year, but the garden is coming along just fine. How nice (and unusual!) it is to feel that as of Memorial Day, I'm still ahead of the game. The columbine is in full bloom, as are many of last year's foxglove. The peonies and roses, too. (I was very bad about not cutting back the roses this year, but at least I got out and fed them this weekend.) The iris didn't do so well, as we had a lot of rain just when they were opening up. Plus, it's about time that I dug them up and divided them. (Anybody want some?) On the other hand, I put in some phlox this spring which is coming up fast, as is the butterfly weed (it goes without saying that the butterfly bush known as "Kong" is going great guns, as are the Konglings that I put into whiskey barrels). And wonder of wonders, the hollyhock, almost wiped out by a groundhog last year, somehow survived and is well on its way to blooming this year. Perhaps I'll take some pics.

For some reason, I'm rayther tired this morning!

Posted by Robert at 08:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 26, 2008

Hope Everyone Had a Great Weekend

Caught a shot of this little guy earlier today.



Posted by Gary at 07:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Memorial Day

Keep the fallen and their families in your prayers.

Posted by LMC at 07:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 25, 2008

When your kid hates his name . . .

The Future ROTC Scholarship Recipient demands he now be called Optimus Prime

click to comment.

Posted by LMC at 09:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2008

Oh, Thank You So Much Senator Obama


Great. Apparently, the Illinois Senator will be giving the commencement address at Wesleyan University tomorrow. So?

Well, that means that the Glorious People's Soviet of Middletown will be crawling with security (especially now that SWMNBN may have put the fear of assassination in the Secret Service). This of course means (to paraphrase Inigo Montoya) "Traffic...galoooooore".

So I'm going to have to take the less scenic and slightly longer trip to the other end of the state so I can open up the cottage for the season tomorrow morning.

Grrr. But it's on his head that I'm going to have to burn more gas going the round-about way through Hartford in my Suburban Tactical Assault Vehicle (aka minivan).

Posted by Gary at 06:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Poetry Posting

The ten year old Llama-ette brought home her creative writing portfolio from St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method. Heretofore she has been known as the mathematical one in the family, but evidently she has some real literary ability as well. A sample:


When I went to Maine,
Blue waves came to me.

When I look at them,
They are so pretty.

When I go to bed,
I can hear them.

When I wake up,
They still wash on land.

When I sit down,
They still wash.

When I hear about them,
I remember.

I must say that I certainly couldn't summon up that kind of imagery when I was her age.

She also has a humourous side:

[Llama-ette] my sister
Had a blister.
It was very red
On her head.

Bella, my pet
Likes the sunset.
She is very nice
To the mice.

Posted by Robert at 10:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"Sex and the Sissy"

by Robbo's old love, Peggy Noonan, in yesterday's Journal Online. Read it.

Posted by LMC at 07:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 23, 2008

Gratuitous Fledermaus Posting

I had thought that the high point of my encounter with Nature today was the half hour or so I spent watching a vixen and her four pups frolicking at the edge of the woods behind Orgle Manor this afternoon.

But noooooooooh......

You see, earlier this evening, as I was watching Grosse Point Blank (Minnie Driver.....mmmmmmmm.......) I heard a bang and a series of squeeks that suggested a mouse had somehow got itself trapped in the HVAC. "Eh," I said to myself, "Self, it'll sort itself out."

So I watched the rest of the moovie. Howsomever, when I later came out of Robbo's Former Fortress of Solitude after checking the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack, I noticed the cats staking out the backside of the tee vee. On closer observation, I saw a small bat slinking around on the carpet behind and under it.

Well, not being one to let the grass or invasive small mammal population expand under his hooves, I hastily went upstairs, grabbed the library fireplace tongs and came back down to expel the creature. Suffice to say, mission accomplished. When last seen, it was getting itself together amidst the ivy surrounding the bird feeder out back.

We've had a fair number of creatures invade Orgle Manor, but I believe this is our first bat. Ironic that it should be in the basement, what? Ut-bay, on't-tay ell-tay he-they issus-May: She's quite terrified of bats.

Posted by Robert at 10:56 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Heading to the airport?

This is for anyone flying soon. Robbo, pay particular attention to the scene at 2:45

Posted by LMC at 08:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fly Old Glory this weekend


for every Soldier, Sailor, Marine, and Airman who left the battlefield on a hero flight, lying on a litter, covered in our flag. May they rest in peace and the memory of their sacrifices never be forgotten.

Posted by LMC at 07:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Duty, Honor, Country

Douglas MacArthur's farewell address to the cadets of West Point.

Posted by LMC at 07:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 22, 2008

Indy IV - Thumbs Up - - **NOW WITH HOWDY DOODY UPDATE***

Just came back from "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". Let me say I went in veeeeerrrry skeptical.

Was pleasantly surprised. Even the presence of Shia LaPoof (or whatever his name is) exceeded expectations.

But honestly, if I were to put my finger on a major factor for this one and the original being my favorites of the franchise:

Karen Allen.jpg
Karen Allen

She's just got "it". Robbo and I got into it a while back over the "Indy girls" and I stand by my position. She has by far the best chemistry with Harrison Ford and really adds value to whatever scene she's in. Sorry Robbo, you can keep your blonde hussy.

"You Have Chosen....Poorly" Yips! from Robbo:

The allure of Karen Allen continues to escape me. She has ordinary looks. She has no grace. (And don't say she has some grace - either one has grace or one does not.) Just doesn't light my pilot-light. Whatever "it" is, I just don't especially want it.

No, all in all I'm sticking mit my Austrian Fräulein:


"Ja, I can make Robbo as giddy as der schoolboy."

Posted by Gary at 08:23 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Love the Forest. Don't Care Much For That Particular Tree, However.

The cabbie bringing me home to Orgle Manor this afternoon was listening to All Things Considered on NPR. As we tooled up the G-W Parkway, there was a long puff-piece on how the eeeeeevil of sexism is behind the sinking of the campaign of She Who Must Not Be Named and how angry many womyn are about it all. Pat Shroeder was on, breathily gushing about the ultimate glass ceiling and all the rest of it and golly, how wonderful it would have been for her to be able to live long enough to see the first president wearing a pantsuit and pearls.


I just want to make a point of clarification here. I wouldn't rayther cut my own tongue out than vote for SWMNBN because she's a woman. I'd rayther cut my own tongue out than vote for SWMNBN simply because she's....SWMNBN.


Oh, and by the way, seeing as SWMNBN is about to tank anyway, has she ever considered a new career in entertainment? I think there are some possibilities:

Posted by Robert at 07:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

If Llamas Had Wings

Just so you know, I had a perfectly beastly flight back into Dee Cee this afternoon. Not only did we seem to get routed all the way to Richmond before we turned around and came back north, we also hit some air-pockets the likes of which I have not experienced in quite some time.

Then, to cap it all off, we got hit by a gust of cross-wind just as we were touching down, causing the plane to bank about fifteen degrees and to hit extremely hard on just one wheel. Lest you think I'm just being a whiney boy, the entire cabin gasped collectively.

Ladies and gentlemen, I really do hate flying.

UPDATE: Very properly man-slapped by the LMC in the comments. Thanks, dude. You're money.

Posted by Robert at 07:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Reaping What You Sow

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter on the continuing fight by SWMNBN:

"Clinton has continued with one claim that could have a pernicious effect on the Democrats' chances in November. While she knows that the nomination is determined by delegates, Hillary insists on saying at every opportunity that she is winning the popular vote. And she has now taken to touting the new HBO movie "Recount," which chronicles the Florida fiasco of eight years ago. Everyone can agree that the primary calendar needs reform. But popular-vote pandering is poison for Democrats. For a party scarred by the experience of 2000, when Al Gore received 500,000 more popular votes than George W. Bush but lost the presidency, this argument is sure to make it harder to unite and put bitter feelings aside."
How rich would it be if she went so far as to litigate the status of the FLORIDA vote count and it went all the way to the Florida Supreme Court?

Oh man, you just can't make this up. Way to go, Al.

Posted by Gary at 01:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 21, 2008


I saw news of this recently but a post over at The Sandcrawler led me to this clip on Parliament's funding of the carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales:


Can anyone explain the two-"island" design?

Posted by LMC at 06:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Awesomely Bad Music Video

I don't even know who Catapult were, or if they were a real band. The 70's style outfits speak for themselves. This is a must see . . .

I'm fetching a frosty tall glass of sweet tea for Brother Snacks to thank him for sending me this!

Posted by Chai-Rista at 02:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

This will lure Steve-O out into the open

Posted by LMC at 06:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 20, 2008

Director Shepard cashes in her chips

on NCIS. Lauren Holly picture 8

Lauren Holly celebrity profile

She will be missed.

Posted by LMC at 09:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Funky LMC Medina

For some reason, the local radio stations have been playing an awful lot of Tone Loc

Posted by LMC at 06:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"There You Go Again"

Jet Away.jpg

Yep, I'm heading out again on my travels in a little bit and won't be back until late Thursday.

All this spring I've been travelling with by beat-up old Orvis Battenkill garment bag. As I hoiked it up the hill from the metro this morning, it occured to me that I need to finally cave in and get something with wheels.

Posted by Robert at 01:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

"Really, 007, Must You Keep Drinking Up All The Samples?"

How'd you like to be the lab assistant for these guys?

James Bond preferred his vodka martinis "shaken, not stirred", but is there any difference? Yes - according to a psychologist and chemist who like their science with a twist.

To celebrate the centenary of the birth of Ian Fleming, creator of the world's most famous secret agent, Professor Charles Spence and Dr Andrea Sella will be unveiling the secrets of 007's favourite drink and a range of other cocktails, at a lecture at the Cheltenham Science Festival next month.

Prof Spence is a psychologist who has worked with molecular gastronomist Heston Blumenthal to unravel the secrets of how we interpret taste, while his fellow Bond addict is a chemist at University College London.

To these aficionados, the creation and presentation of a cocktail is a true science: "molecular mixologists" can create alcoholic alchemy, from Bond's dry martini to daiquiris and beyond.

Take the all-important issue of shaking rather than stirring the martini. In 1999, a group of students at the University of Western Ontario in Canada led by Colleen Trevithick (and overseen by her father John, a professor of biochemistry) decided to test Bond's preference in a series of experiments on gin and vodka martinis.

They studied the martinis' ability to deactivate hydrogen peroxide - a substance used to bleach hair or disinfect scrapes, and a potent source of the free radicals linked to ageing and disease.

While the detailed chemistry is not fully understood, martinis were much more effective than their basic ingredients - such as gin or vermouth - at deactivating hydrogen peroxide, and about twice as effective when shaken.

The martini must contain an antioxidant that deals with the peroxide, and which works better after shaking. (The olives that are normally added might also have an effect, but were left out as being "too difficult to model".)

In their analysis of the results in the British Medical Journal, the team concluded, reasonably enough, that Bond's excellent state of health "may be due, at least in part, to compliant bartenders".

Read the rest for lots of other cocktail info.

Posted by Robert at 12:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Light Fuse, Stand Back

Sigh...attempting to extend human life by cheapening it.

British scientists will be allowed to research devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s using human-animal embryos, after the House of Commons rejected a ban yesterday.

An amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that would have outlawed the creation of “human admixed embryos” for medical research was defeated in a free vote by a majority of 160, preserving what Gordon Brown regarded as a central element of the legislation.

The Government is braced for defeat today, however, on a separate clause that would scrap the requirement that fertility clinics consider a child’s need for a father before treating patients. MPs will also consider amendments tonight that would cut the legal limit for abortion from 24 weeks to 22 or 20 weeks.

A second amendment, which would have banned the creation of “true hybrids” made by fertilising an animal egg with human sperm, or vice-versa, was also defeated yesterday by a majority of 63. Another free vote last night was expected to approve the use of embryo-screening to create “saviour siblings” suitable to donate umbilical cord blood to sick children.

It would all be cruelly funny if it were not so horrid. It's been a long time since I last read the Screwtape Letters, but I've got to believe there's some correspondence in there covering this sort of thing.

Posted by Robert at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You Magnificent Bastard, I'm Reading Your Book!

Well, not really, but the line was too good not to use.

Actually, what I am reading is this:


Knight's Cross: A Life of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel by David Fraser.

In fact, I've just started and am only sixty-odd pages into it, but there is something so engaging in Fraser's style that I can rarely remember being this enthusiastic about a book so early on in reading it. Some reviewers have criticized the book a bit because it is short on personal details of Rommel's life (indeed, Fraser skootches right over his youth and I'm already well into his combat experience in France, Rumania and Italy during WWI), but I don't mind since what I'm looking for is, in fact, mostly an account of his military exploits.

I've always been of the opinion that Rommel was in many ways an admirable man: honorable, upright, militarily brilliant. Even Churchill praised him - and in the middle of the war, too. Nonetheless, it's a mighty tricky proposition to be sympathetic to somebody who, after all, was a fairly senior Nazi leader - much harder than supporting, say, a Confederate general like Lee. You can certainly argue that Rommel was a German and a Soldier first and at best a lukewarm Nazi, and that he eventually paid for this with his life at the hands of Hitler's regime. But that stigma never quite goes away. Nonetheless, I do believe this is going to be an extremely enjoyable and informative book.

Posted by Robert at 09:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 19, 2008

LMC update

Robbo's post below and a faithful reader's response prompts me to explain the light posting over the past several months. The transition from military life in the sandbox back to civilian life has been busy. I have spent extra time with Mrs. LMC, the Future ROTC Scholarship Recipient, and Our Little Debutante. Much time has been spent reviving the law practice and immigration has taken its place in my bag of tricks. My efforts are beginning to bear fruit, much to the relief of all concerned. The Reserve career is up and running again with activities divided between a graduate program through the U.S. Army War College and my role as my Reserve command's emissary to TRADOC. I enjoy it but I am ever-conscious of being closer to the end of my military career than the beginning. I joined the American Legion and the VFW, although I wonder when I will fit them in.

All things considered, I am no worse for the wear for my sojourn in the Middle East, with the exception of a little hearing loss and an unbreakable habit of "combat-parking" the cars. I marvel every day at the things we take for granted that are almost unimaginable luxuries to the people of Iraq--most of all the very freedom that has propelled this nation to a standard of living unknown in history. My wonder is tempered by the knowledge that the world is a very dangerous place, evil men hate us, and freedom must be guarded with unending vigilance.

Much has been said of the younger generation, the twentysomethings--that they are slackers, less disciplined, less capable of shouldering the burden passed down to them. I saw the best of them in Baghdad and I am here to tell you they have what it takes to "bear any burden, pay any price, support any friend, oppose any foe, to ensure the survival and success of liberty." I am proud to say I was with them.

Old Glory flies on a new flagpole in front of the post headquarters, located as always amidst the vast real estate holdings which comprise Fort LMC. It is an all-weather flag and a light shines on it every night. It will stay there 24 hours a day, every day, and nothing less than a hurricane coming ashore will persuade me to take it down. One of these days I will place a marker at the base which will simply read: FOR THOSE WHO SERVED.

I will endeavor to post more often and there is much which deserves comment. Please be understanding though if I often dwell on things people prefer not to discuss. We are at war and we had better not forget it.

Posted by LMC at 07:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Heh, Eh?

If you read us Llamas, you probably also read James Taranto's daily Best of the Web over at OpinionJournal.Com so this this post may come straight from the Department of Redundancy Dept., but I was mighty tickled by this "Homer Nods" entry today:

In an item Friday, we said that Canada has seven states. As Canada still uses the metric system, it would have been more precise to say that it has 10 provinces, which is the equivalent of approximately seven states.

Nice one, buddy.

Posted by Robert at 03:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good For What Ails Ya

Recently I've been grumbling a bit about the apparent drop in lloyal llama readership. Our pal Babs sent in this thought to the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack:

You complain about a drop off of readership. I think a large part of this is your hosting site, munu. I have either been blocked or disqualified from posting a comment over the last several months. I don’t know why.

I would be surprised to learn that my potential comments are somehow “risqué” or, out of the limits of a PG 13 site. Instead, I find that my comments are disallowed by some un understandable standard that merely inhibits my interaction with your site.

A blog site is a two way street. You post, I comment. If I am not allowed the pleasure of making a comment then, your site loses its attraction. Take Hatemongers Quarterly as an example. What happened to their poetry contest? I even submitted an admittedly horrible poem to them. I no longer care who won because their site is so hard to interact with.

I want more gardening!!! You know that already but, the fact that I am unable to comment on almost anything you post makes my interaction with you all the less valuable.

I wish Steve would come back! I wish LMC would give us more of his experience in the sandbox or, just tell us what he has been up to or the military in general. I TRUST THE LLAMAS to say it the way it is but, the restrictions placed on the site in the last several months make it very difficult to interact.

I read you every day but, something valuable has been lost and I think it is a combination of your posting and your hosting site.

But commenter Bill has another take on things:

No sign of Melissa Theuriau in your columns for months, and you're scratching your head over low readership?

Well, I can't do anything about Moo-Knew technical difficulties and so far Steve-O has been resistant to my suggestions that he get back in the water. But as for Melissa? Yes. I think Bill may very well be on to something. So here ya go. Enjoy!


Posted by Robert at 11:57 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

In This Version, Aslan Drives A Cool Talking Car

The eldest Llama-ette is off today with her class from St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method to go see Prince Caspian. I had to remind her again this morning to refrain from shouting out (and criticizing) everything that the movie does differently from the book. (Funny, I know exactly what kind of movie date she's going to be when she gets older. And I can already see the boy rolling his eyes.)

Anyhoo, it seems apropos that regular reader Mike should shoot along this NRO article by Frederica Mathewes-Green. Her subject? Heresy!

Every once in awhile, a movie improves on the book on which it is based. In my bold opinion, Prince Caspian, the second Disney film drawn from C. S. Lewis’s beloved Chronicles of Narnia, is such a movie. Criticism of C. S. Lewis is rightly taboo, but facts are facts: Prince Caspian, the book, is a dud.

It was the second to be written in the series, and it’s rushed and thin. You’ll remember from the first book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, that the four Pevensie siblings find their way into the land of Narnia through a mysterious wardrobe. In Prince Caspian they are called back to Narnia again, where they must help young Prince Caspian claim his rightful throne. Unfortunately, they land nowhere near Caspian, so most of the book is occupied with the Pevensies’ struggle to cross mountains and rivers to get to him. (The action also pauses for four chapters so that a dwarf can fill us in on Prince Caspian’s life so far.) When they finally meet Caspian there is a brief battle and a happy ending, and before you know it you’re running into the opening pages of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (a much better book).

Prince Caspian, the movie, fixes all this. It knits a whole lot more story around that spare frame, and the plot gains traction while the characters gain complexity. The movie is just plain better than the book.

Now I, myself, have written here before that I thought Prince Caspian to be the weakest book in the Narnia cycle, and for many of the reasons cited here. But still - the book is the book. Don't mess it about. If you think you can "improve" on the story, then go out and write your own, dammit. We hates this kind of cannibalization.

Go read the rest of the article in which Ms. M-G discusses other examples of movies-better-than-the-book. Not expecting the Spanish Inquisition? Just see what she has to say about The Lord of the Rings:

Director Peter Jackson had a better idea [than Tolkien his own self!]. He saw the essential beauty of the story, and brought it to the screen unimpeded.

Fetch the comfy chair!

Look, the trooth of the matter is that this is a very silly argument to begin with. Books-to-movies is an apples and oranges comparison and it's downright goofy to say that one is "better" than the other. But the argument's also corrosive, IMHO. We already live in an age that demands instant, passive gratification. Books require active thought, imagination and a lot of time. Movies require much less time and that we sit back and let someone else do the dreaming and thinking for us. What possible good do people like Ms. M-G suppose they're doing by encouraging such behavior? (And yes, saying "the movie is better than the book" will encourage most people simply to forget about the book.)

Posted by Robert at 09:32 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Messiah Has Spoken

Listen up, people:

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.

"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.

Translation: "I'll tell you how much you can drive your SUV, how much you can eat and how much central air you can use because those sort of decisions shouldn't be left up to you. Individual freedom is a relative thing here."

And just when did he decide that our energy consumption should get the international stamp of approval? China is the biggest polluter in the world and yet they would be exempt from the Kyoto restrictions. Do they give a rat's rump whether or not WE are going to say OK?

Leadership doesn't mean assuming the role of a "red shirt" from Star Trek. This "you go first" crap ain't gonna fly.

Posted by Gary at 08:36 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

May 18, 2008

BSG, again

Am I correct that "The Hybrid" aboard the rebel Cylon base ship (by that I mean the chick in the white body suit who never leaves the sunken hot tub) is the ship's captain, senior staff, and main computer all rolled into one?

Posted by LMC at 02:28 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 17, 2008

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

I hate clover.

Oh, sure. It looks cute, sitting there all rounded and cheery and gosh, if you find a four-leafed one you are soooo in luck.


It's eeeeevil, I tell you. Currently, the stuff is trying to take over my garden. And its malevolent spirit is revealed in the fact that it is most heavily concentrated right where I've got foxglove and cosmos seedlings coming up. It knows that I can't simply spray it or plow it under, but must spend hours and hours - if I want to save my babies - picking it out one plant at a time. "Oi, a real innerestin' choice o' specimens you've got there, squire. Be a real shame if sumfin 'appened to em now, wunnit?"


It's said that St. Patrick used the clover to explain the Trinity to the aboriginal Irish. No doubt he though he was doing the Lord's work, but I can't help thinking that by employing this noxious devil-weed, he was in fact inadvertently spreading some kind of sooper sekret message that came straight from the hot place.

Posted by Robert at 04:46 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Proud Papa Division

A certain ten year old Llama-ette, who had had to be spoken to pretty sharply earlier in the season about either a) putting more effort into soccer or b) quiting the team, got her very first genuine goal this morning. She was playing right wing, and after getting a neat pass from her center, calmly picked her shot and put it into the corner of the net. I'm pretty durn proud of her, but not half so proud as she is of herself. And not only is she proud because she actually got the goal, but also because she knows she got it by starting to seriously apply herself. Nothing quite like the knowledge of a job well done to give one a boost.

The gel's team won 5-3, bringing them to 5-0 for the season against some pretty stiff competition. I know that what with finally having got a score and with the pretty solid defensive work she's been putting in the past few weeks, the gel really is beginning to feel that she is a part of the whole.

Posted by Robert at 11:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nineties Retro Reunion-the Gals of MP

This is for Robbo--

Heather Locklear Gallery

Heather Locklear celebrity profile

Pic via

Still smokin' at 47, nothing more needs to be said.

Posted by LMC at 07:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 16, 2008

I Used To Be A "Beer Guy"

No, not a suds vendor at a ballpark. I was a beer drinker until about three years ago. At that point (right around my 38th birthday) I decided to explore the world of wine and was completely taken aback at how fascinating that world is.

A little over a year ago, I stumbled upon a site called - a daily video blog where the host - Gary Vaynerchuk - tastes different wines and gives us his down-to-earth and irreverent (and passionate) opinions about wine and the wine world. Highly entertaining and immensely informative, Gary Vee's vLog entries are an excellent resource for anyone who loves wine or is new to the love of the grape.

Here's one of the latest. Anyone who likes, loves or is interested in wine who hasn't experienced "the Thunder show" is in for a treat:

Posted by Gary at 06:45 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Olivia Cromwell Division

This morning I was chatting of this and that with the eight year old Llama-ette. As we talked, Bella the cat strategically placed herself between us so as to get pets from both sides. As Bella sat there purring, the gel mentioned that a friend of hers has a cat named Elvis.

"Uuuawwhh," I said, "Uh, I shore think that's a real purty name for a cat, darlin'. Uh, thangkyuh verrah much!"

"Dad-DEEEE!" she suddenly snapped, "Don't imitate him!"

"Why ever not?" I asked, completely mystified. My impression isn't the greatest, but I know it's not that lame.

"Because he was bad! He drank too much and he ate too much and he did drugs and he died on the potty and he got exactly what was coming to him!" she explained rayther awfully.


"Well, sweety...," I said, a bit disoriented by this sudden outburst of Old Testament condemnation, "I don't think Elvis was necessarily a bad man. Say rather that he was a weak man who unfortunately gave into temptation and did some very bad things to himself. We should feel sorry for him."

"Humph!" was her answer.

What have I created?

Posted by Robert at 01:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Reviews

A couple of flicks I've run off in the past few days from my sickbed:

The Game Plan (2007) - Aging but game egomaniacal pro quarterback discovers literally on his doorstep an unknown eight-year-old daughter just as he heads for his last shot at a Super Bowl ring. Hi-larity ensues, at least in theory. Ya know, I have to admit that I honestly like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. He's charismatic, reasonably articulate, good-humoured and, seemingly, faintly aware of his own absurdity. But it isn't enough to save this dog, which was thin, cliched and at times downright icky. (Fairly late in the movie it's revealed that the girl's mom - who we are led to believe is away on a business trip - has been killed six months previously in a car accident, thus getting rid of the obvious roadblock in the burgeoning romance between The Rock and the (admittedly) shmokin Roselyn Sanchez, who plays the kid's ballet teacher. The woman who we were led to believe is the girl's mom is, in fact, her aunt.) I was particularly put off by the girl herself, who spoke with that innocent yet cynical Wisdom of the Child attitude that makes me want to reach for a brick. No eight year old talks that way - unless they've seen too many recent movies about eight year olds.

But Tom, you're no doubt saying, this really is just a kid's movie. Lighten up. Well, maybe. But that's another of my beefs. The Rock shouldn't be doing this sort of thing. Instead, he ought to be making more cheesy action flicks about ancient swordsmen, space rangers and bounty hunters. Build up more of a cult following. Then go for the change of pace. Aaaahnold never could have pulled off Kindergarten Cop without all those Conan and Terminator movies and whatnot behind him. Also, if this is what passes for a kid's movie these days, I don't want mine anywhere near them.

Oh, one other thing. The blooper selection (always a favorite of mine) was cast as one of Marv Albert's classic gag reels. (Albert has a small part in the movie.) It was a neat idea, but didn't work very well. I'd rather see the goofs by themselves, not with Marv (or anyone else) talking over them.

One and a half orgles out of five.

L.A. Story (1991) - Steve Martin's "homage" to Los Angeles, sometimes called the west coast counterpart to Woody Allen's Manhattan, although frankly I don't think there's any comparison. I've seen this film only once before, when it first came out. I recall that my reaction then was, "Eh, pretty nice." My reaction now, pretty nice. Although every now and again it reaches an almost lyric quality (I like the gravedigger scene in particular), most of this movie is just, well, nice. What else can I say? A bit quirky, a bit flowery, but mostly not all that deep. Although he is obviously a very intelligent and artistic guy, something in me suggests that Steve Martin is not the sort of actor whose work is going to hold up over the long term. I don't think he's anywhere near as subtle or deep as, for example, Bill Murray.

Also, the fact is that I can't stick Sarah Jessica Parker.

Howsomever, I had completely forgotten about Patrick Stewart's extremely funny cameo as the Matre 'D of L'Idiot. That almost was worth the price of the rental alone.

Three orgles out of five.

The Player (1992) Robert Altman's insider-Hollywood story of murder and blackmail. Better than I remember from when I saw it in the theatre way back when. I can't stand Tim Robbins' politics, but he is a very good actor. And I can't stand Altman's politics, but the man sure knows how to shoot a movie.

My only problem with this sort of thing is that there is a certain falsity about Hollywood types doing a movie about the awfulness of Hollywood types. Although the film is loaded with cameos of bigshots purporting to lampoon themselves, my guess would be that they are collectively so far down inside the cocoon that most of them don't even really appreciate what they are doing. Or perhaps they do. That might explain why the rehab centers are all so full.

My only other problem with this film is that it contains one of the most gratuitous trashings of an innocent character - I refer to Cynthia Stevenson's Bonnie - that I can recall ever seeing. Sure, you'll say it is just part of the fallout. But it didn't have to be.

Four orgles out of five.

Posted by Robert at 01:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Weight Loss Tips From Robbo The Llama

Want to drop some pounds? Get yourself one of these stomach bugs! After 72 hours of nothing but tea, gatorade and the odd saltine, I clocked in this morning at 151 pounds. My normal weight is up in the 158-160 range. Those of you who have met me know that I'm not all that big to begin with, so nine pounds is a pretty good chunk o' Robbo change.

Of course, I was already a bit low when the bug hit. I've been on travel a goodish bit the past few weeks (and am headed out again next week). I always lose weight on these trips, as 1) I usually only manage one meal a day, 2) I typically sleep terribly, and 3) my already chipmunk-like metabolism gets ramped up an extra notch due to the stress.

Ah, well. The good news this morning is that although the plumbing is still cramping up, the mere thought of food is no longer revolting to me. Past experience says this means that the thing has about run its course. I certainly hope so: the in-laws blow into town tonight and tomorrow we're supposed to go out to din-dins at J. Gilbert's, a local steakhouse. They've got a gimongous Cowboy Ribeye that I always order, and I want to be able to do it justice.

In the meantime, here's a little veterinary humor for Friday. I especially like the coffee theme. Where could I get one of those perkilators grafted on to my head?

Posted by Robert at 08:57 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Decline and Fall, Mark II

Normally I leave this sort of thing to the guys over at the Sandcrawler, but as I watched this video of the London police trying (and failing) to deal with Islamist radicals, I couldn't help but thinking of the streets of Rome full of Goths and Vandals in the mid 5th Century.

Britain? Stick a fork in her. I'm afraid she's done.

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Happy Birthday to Debra Winger

who is 53 today.

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Election year issue made in heaven

thanks to four justices on the California Supreme Court, gay marriage has been revived as a point of contention in an election year. Watch Obama and SWMNBN dance around it before denouncing the topic as a mean-spirited "wedge issue" designed to distract voters from the "real issues."

Posted by LMC at 06:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 15, 2008

Gratuitous Veternary Update

For those of you (among our 3 or 4 remaining regular readers**) who are interested in an update regarding Robbo's stomach bug, let's just say that the ol' tum itself feels a bit better and that my troubles are, ah, behind me.***

(**Yes, I'm beginning to become concerned at the apparent slump in Llamas Preferred. I recognize that this is my own damn fault, of course, but it isn't any less disappointing for all that. I always knew I was the second - or perhaps the third or fourth - string of this little operation, but what with Steve-O's self-imposed hiatus, the traffic figgahs proving it are a bit on the painful side. As Mary Chapin Carpenter sings, "the stars might lie but the numbers never do.")

(*** A baseball joke of a good 25 or 30 years ago. Spot the player involved.)

Posted by Robert at 09:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Senator "Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks"

Wow. A little touchy, aren't we?

Not only is Barack Obama having a hissy fit over comments the President made in Israel that didn't even name him, but his fellow party leaders are completely losing control of their bowels over this.

Hey, I guess if the umbrella fits...

Ed Morrissey explains how Obama and the Dems really screwed the pooch on this one...

Obama and his surrogates drew those connections themselves. Instead of acknowledging the historical truth of appeasement’s failures, they chose to argue with it. Obama could have taken the smart route and embraced it to explain how he understands the lessons of appeasement, which is why his talks with Iran would not result in it. Instead, he got volcanically defensive, which suggests that even Obama sees the parallels between his everything’s-on-the-table approach and the Chamberlain diplomacy which resulted in dismantling Czechoslovakia.

And if Obama considers discussion of foreign policy “divisive”, then he should hie himself right back to Academia. Guess what, Senator? Presidential elections focus on foreign-policy principles, and if you can’t defend yours, then you have no business running for office.


Posted by Gary at 03:27 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

"Gotta Admit..Answers A Whoooole Lot Of Nagging Questions" **

I'm fighting off a stomach bug today, surely the most pernicious of ailments. (How fair is it that one should feel so drained and yet so absolutely horrified by the concept of food at the same time?) So posting may be pretty light.

However, a friend and regular reader sent this to the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack, and I pass it along for your enjoyment:

A History Lesson on Railroad tracks.
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England , and English expatriates built the US railroads.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did 'they' use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England , because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England ) for th eir legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome , they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a Specification/Procedure/Process and wonder 'What horse's ass came up with it?' you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses' asses.) Now, the twist to the story:

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its laun ch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRB's. The SRB's are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah . The engineers who designed the SRB's would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRB's h ad to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRB's had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determ ined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass. And you thought being a hor se's ass wasn't important? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything... and CURRENT Horses Asses are controlling everything else.

I've no idea whether parts or all of this are factually true, although it seems plausible enough. However, I've no doubts about what one might call the Greater Truth of the story.

** Spot the quote.

Posted by Robert at 09:45 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 14, 2008

Gratuitous Llama Historickal Book Review


Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution by Mark Puls.

If you're looking for a very quick survey of the life of Henry Knox (and Tom, who isn't?), then this is probably the book for you. But contrary to the jacket blurb by Joseph Ellis, this is hardly what I would call the "definitive biography" of the man.

According to Puls, Knox was essentially the unknown Wonder Man of the Revolution, and "visionary" is not too bad a descriptive term. Knox appears to have been a more or less self-taught master tactical artilleryman, and, if Puls is to be believed, following on Knox's spectacular cross-country movement of artillery from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston and his subsequent fortification of Dorchester Heights in 1776 leading to the British evacuation of that city, Washington practically did not breathe without consulting him first. But this vision of Knox's was not confined to the battlefield and did not stop when the last gun had fired: he was an avid organizer of arsenals and supply lines, an early proponent of a military academy at West Point, a critical figure in the establishment of the United States Navy and even a prescient advocate for the total revamping of the Articles of Confederation into a form very similar to the Constitution which was eventually drafted.

Unfortunately, Knox appears to have been less happy in his personal life. Abandoned by his father when a child and forced to fend for himself and his family as an apprentice bookseller, he eventually worked his way up to wed a prominant Boston lady who left her Tory family for his sake. Although they were married nearly fifty years, nine out of their twelve children died prematurely and they were continually plagued by debt and separation. And in one of those goofy twists of fate, the old war hero who had been at Boston, Trenton, Princeton, Valley Forge and Yorktown, died from an infection contracted when he got a chicken bone stuck in his throat at dinner.

Puls throws all this together in a brisk and, to me, far too surfacy manner, sometimes jumbling facts about Knox's personal and professional life in a way that doesn't make immediate sense. He also dances back and forth into pop-psychology about Knox's fatherless childhood and the surrogate father figure that Washington became to him later on, always dangerous ground imho. And ultimately (because, I think, of the style of the book), Puls never satisfactorily answers the burning question: If Knox was one of the foundation stones of the Revolution, why is it that only history geeks have even heard his name these days? Sure, Knox was an ardent Federalist and his fame diminished when that party's fortunes crashed, but so were other now well-known figures like Adams and Hamilton (for the latter of whom Puls seems to display some hostility).

Puls' book also contains some technical flaws. First, there are a number of rayther glaring missprints which suggest a not-too-thorough editing job. Also, Puls has a habit of identifying correspondence as, e.g., "in a letter dated Friday, July 18, 1787" that began to make me twitch after a while. Who cares what day of the week it was written? And if it is important, why so? Puls does not elaborate.

There are also some curious substantive omissions and errors. For example, Puls notes the longstanding friendship between Knox and Gen. Nathaniel Greene, and while he refers in general to Greene's success in the southern theatre, he never once identifies the Battle of Cowpens, Greene's great victory over Cornwallis that was critical in Cornwallis' decision to retreat into Virginia, where he was eventually trapped at Yorktown. I note this simply because Puls does make numerous references to other critical battles in which Knox and his friends did not participate directly, such as those at Saratoga. Also, at one point Puls states that Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guillotined by the French Revolutionaries in January, 1793. This is incorrect and just plain sloppy: Louis himself was beheaded then, but the mob did not do away with the Queen until October of that year. Also, there is not a single map, diagram or picture in the entire book. Particularly given Puls discussion of the siege of Boston and Washington's attacks on Trenton and Princeton, I think such aids would have been very useful.

All in all, however, I think the book was well worth my impulsive purchase of it. As I say, a good overview of an interesting man. But those looking for more indepth scholarship might want to seek it elsewhere.

Posted by Robert at 02:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 13, 2008

Random Netflix Musing

Yesterday I mailed back to Netflix in the same envelope Becket and Conan the Barbarian.

Ever since then I've had an image in my head of Peter O'Toole yelling, "Crom's bones, Thomas! Why must you be so obstinant?"

Posted by Robert at 09:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Salvete, Discipuli!

How cool is this? It's the Vatican's website in Latin.

And for those of you not necessarily interested in religious subjects but who still love the language, nip on over to Whispers in the Loggia anyway to hear the Vatican's chief Latinist Fr. Reggie Foster reel off some common contemporary political buzzwords in the language of Rome, plus see a pic of one of the world's only Latin ATM machines.

Yips! to regular reader Mink Monica for the linkie.

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

Gratuitous Nats Posting - "Oh, Dallas!" Division


Heh. You know it's a good night at the ballpark when not only does your pitcher get his first win of the season, he also goes three for three at the plate. (Of course, you American League lowlifes wouldn't know what I'm talking about.)

Sorry, Gary, but we needed that one pretty badly.

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Random Commuter Speculation

How long do you suppose it is until the average barrista simply can't stand the smell of coffee any longer?

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

May 12, 2008

This One Is For The Missus

A day late but definitely snort-worthy. Here is an entire 24 hours' worth of Mom Talk compressed into just under three minutes. Enjoy:

Yips! to Kim Priestap over at Wizbang.

Posted by Robert at 04:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting - Trans-Tiber Division

Damian Thompson has an amusingly horrifying post up over at the UK Telegraph today about Catholic Hymn-Writers Behaving Badly:

Please, please don’t imagine that this blog doesn’t appreciate the riches – nay, the treasures – of modern Catholic worship. A light-fingered friend of mine has just “borrowed” a hymn sheet from the back of a go-ahead parish. Prepare to have your spirits uplifted. The hymn is called “God is Good”. Here’s the chorus:

“God is good, we sing and shout it/God is good, we celebrate it
God is good, no more we doubt it/God is good, we know it’s true.”

But the real poetry is to be found in this verse:

“And when I think of his love for me/My heart fills with praise
And I feel like dancing/For in his heart there is room for me
And I run with arms/Opened wide/Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo”

Yes, that’s an exact quote. Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo. (Presumably during Holy Week the formula is changed to Boo Hoo Hoo Hoo.)

Alas, I can’t identify the latter-day Charles Wesley who wrote these words. There’s no name, merely a note indicating that the hymn can’t be performed without paying copyright. That’s so characteristic of post-Vatican II worship leaders-cum-hymn writers, many of whom have good reason to Praise the Lord every time they check their bank balances.

This is just an idle fantasy on my part, but if we end up with one of the right-on “magic circle” bishops as Cormac’s successor, perhaps Paul Inwood could compose a toe-tappin’ ditty to accompany these lyrics at the enthronement in Westminster Cathedral. All we’d need then would be a few willing souls to perform a Nicaraguan-themed liturgical dance in the aisles. How about Ma Pepinster and her team?


Just goes to show that awfulness is truly ecumenical.

As a matter of fact, I have been almost uniformly lucky in my church-going experiences. Over at RFEC, most of the rector's occasional forays into 20th Century stuff - over the strident objections of the musickal director - are met with confused silence. It's true that he sometimes sneaks in "Go Tell It On The Mountain" or the odd Spiritual, but for the most part it's Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts, and a string of solid 19th Century Brit composers.

Meanwhile, in my new Catholic digs there is no nonsense whatsover. The hymns that accompany the "modern" Mass could come straight out of the Anglican hymnal (the pastor seems to have a particular fondness for Bach).

I happened to attend High Mass this weekend, where we were served up musick by one Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937), a French organist and composer of whom I'd never heard who rubbed shoulders with Saint-Saens and Cesar Frank. I must say that his musick didn't impress me all that much, despite the fact that Widor felt he needed two choruses and two organs to get his point across. On the other hand, while it wasn't particularly moving, it also didn't require any tamboureens, guitars or liturgical dancers. And had anybody burst out with "hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo" in the midst of the Kyrie or the Gloria, they'd have been immediately turned over to the Inquisition.

Posted by Robert at 02:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gratuitous One-Sentence Llama Book Review


Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell:

On second thoughts, let's not go to Northumbria. It 'tis a silly place.

(This is a follow up on my comments late last week. Yes, I did finish the book and yes, I feel vaguely ashamed of myself for it.)

Posted by Robert at 11:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Soggy Bottom Boys

We Llamas are the #12 google-hit for "leak repair in the ceiling handy man Prince William."

I can readily imagine why someone ran this search. According to the radio, Prince William County and the other environs around the Dee Cee area have had something like seven inches of rain since the middle of last week, and it's still coming down. Indeed, my socks and shoes are still sopping from my commute in this morning.

Fortunately, Orgle Manor does not have a leaky roof. Our problem is the basement, into which water finds its way when the bottom of the driveway ponds up. This has been especially bad because the maples are throwing their seed pods now and the damned things keep clogging up the field drains. I don't even want to know what the workshop floor looks like right now.

Posted by Robert at 11:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Kate!

"That pedestal comfortable enough, Miss Hepburn?"

The immortal Katharine Hepburn was born this day 101 years ago in Hartford, Connecticut.

Kate has always been something of a paradox to me. As regular Llama readers know, we're rayther a red-blooded crew around here, and Robbo's list of stage and screen, ah, crushes is mighty long. [Ed. - Indeed, anything in a skirt, one might say.] Quiet, you.

Hepburn is right up at the top of that list, yet she is one of the very few on it who does not excite what one might call the animal instincts. You (or at least I) can't imagine touching her in any way. Instead, her attraction is pretty durn near sexless. And yet, as I say, very powerful. Hence the paradox.

Posted by Robert at 09:31 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

May 11, 2008

Gratuitous Mother's Day Posting

The Missus announced abruptly this afternoon, after having had to endure an ice-skating birthday party while Self snuck off for the nearly two hour High Mass, that she was going to celebrate Mother's Day by essentially ditching the rest of us and going off to have a spot of shopping, dinner and some new Patrick Swayze movie all on her own.

Smart woman, the Missus.

Posted by Robert at 05:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Remember all mothers today

especially those whose children died for America and her allies. Words are never enough but Abraham Lincoln came the closest in a condolence note to a grieving mother:

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Posted by LMC at 12:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 10, 2008

Gratuitous Musickal Posting

The noted Viennese musick critic Eduard Hanslick remarked, after listening to a four-hand pre-premiere piano arrangement of Brahms' 4th Symphony:

"Throughout the whole movement I had the impression of two dreadfully intelligent people beating each other up."

I can say truthfully that I know exactly what Hanslick meant. At the same time, I can also say truthfully that there are times when this sort of (really) self-warfare resonates extremely well (not, of course, that I am particularly intelligent - dreadfully or otherwise). I've noticed that it is always when I am very tired and, at the same time, very dissatisfied with myself that Brahms is most appealing to me. Go figure.

Actually, I think it is Brahms' rigid formalism that allows us strident anti-Romanticists an honourable outlet when the mood seizes us.

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


Alright--is Starbuck our mystery Cylon or is it Baltar? Just wondering.

Posted by LMC at 02:38 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

LMC Nineties Retro Reunion--the Gals of Melrose Place

This is the first of a series which examines the ladies of that quintessential nighttime soap opera aimed at the twenty-somethings. My favorite: Daphne Zuniga who played Jo:

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She seems to have survived her departure from MP with steady work on the small screen.

Yips! from Robbo: Since it's going to come out eventually any way, let me just say for the record here and now that I was always in the Heather Be Thy Name camp.

Robbo back in the day.

Posted by LMC at 02:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Mrs. LMC ordered The Tudors from Netflix. The portrayal of the court of Henry VIII is one of unbridled lust, best captured by Natalie Dormer in her portrayal as the monarch's second wife. She radiates that attitude that says: "I'm bad for you but it will be a wild ride."

Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn

Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn from

Posted by LMC at 02:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Domestic Saturday Observation

Isn't it funny how household chores naturally allocate themselves? I seem to have become the official Bedsheet Tsar of Orgle Manor by the simple formula that if I don't change them, nobody will.

The worst part of dealing with the Llama-ettes' beds is the fact that all of them are packrats and all of them use their beds as storage space. Often times, it takes a lot longer to clear the junk off than it does to strip and replace the sheets.

This is particularly annoying with the eight year old, who still sleeps in the top bunk of the bed she used to share with her elder sister. (The bottom bunk is reserved now for some of her myriad stuffed animals.) This morning I pulled 22 books, an old mylar birthday balloon, three stuffed bunny rabbits, two comforters, two old nightgowns (dirty), three socks (all mismatched), a soccer trophy and one of the coccooned caterpillars she's keeping in jars away before I could get at the sheets.

These gels don't sleep in beds, they sleep in nests.

Posted by Robert at 11:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I was out pruning in the Orgle Manor grounds this morning. Tackling a fairly thick branch of the crepe myrtle that overhands the drive, I placed one arm of the clippers against my chest and pulled with both hands on the other. Suddenly I felt the most extraordinary burning sensation in my chest muscles, coupled with a kind of wind-knocked-out shortness of breath. The sore spot is still there a couple hours later, right to the left of my sternum.

I think I was on the edge of cracking a rib or sumpin'. Time to invest in a chainsaw.

Posted by Robert at 10:55 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Random Saturday Morning Gripe

I hate it when people say "a scissor" as in "hand me a scissor". It's a pair of scissors, dammit.

UPDATE: Oh, this reminds me that I heard a curious expression last week: to raise sand, as in "When I heard what bad things the company was doing, I went to the shareholders' meeting and raised sand."

Anybody else ever heard of this before?

Posted by Robert at 08:14 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 09, 2008

Gratuitous Nationals Posting

The eldest Llama-ette and I are watching the Nats play the Marlins this evening. We're keeping our hopes up regarding the 7th-Inning stretch:


Heh. The Nats fans in the audience will know what I'm talking about. The rest of you should go here. And anybody who wants some pro-Teddy gear should go here.

UPDATE: Well, I dunno who won the presidential race, but the Nats couldn't catch the Marlins up. Too bad. Perhaps it was the cadaverous appearance of Alan Greenspan - flanked by Judy Woodruff and Andrea Mitchell - in the seats behind home plate that put a hex on the thing.

For those of you unfamiliar with the local media market, some of the Nats' games are broadcast on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, or "MASN", and others are broadcast on the local UPN affiliate, WDCA-20. Whenever they're playing on DC-20, the announcers (play-by-play guy Bob Carpenter and color commentator Don Sutton) are forced to play up some new UPN show featuring an odd abomination of a fellah by the name of "Flavor Flav". I often wonder what's going through their heads as they read off the copy on Mr. "Flav". I can only assume that their enthusiasm is....feigned.

Posted by Robert at 07:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Post Bizzness Trip Rainy Friday Observations

"Hi, evvverybahdy!"**

Yes, Robbo rolled back into town and home to Orgle Manor late last evening after a very eeeenterestink** week out on the road. It is sometimes exceedingly frustrating that I cannot relate to you, our lloyal Llama readers, some of the things I see and hear out there, but I console myself with the idea that perhaps I can produce it in fictional form some day. (I'm thinking more John Mortimer than John Grisham here.)

Anyhoo, here are a few thoughts that have been eddying around Robbo's brain recently:

*** One of the ways I distract myself while flying is by doing crosswords. Recently, I've noticed a number of clues along the lines of "former Italian coin" (emphasis mine). This irks me. As far as I'm concerned, the lira remains the proper currency in Italy, as does the franc in France, the mark in Germany and so on. You can take your "euros" and ram them right up your union.

*** Another way I distracted myself during my free time this week was by purchasing at the airport a copy of Bernard Cornwell's Lords of the North, a tale of adventure set in the Britain of King Alfred's days. No doubt I'm going to generate a storm of protest by saying so, but I find this to be an immensely silly book. While I've no doubt that Cornwell's research of the period is thorough, the tale he spins around it and the prose by which he delivers that tale are pure Saturday matinee shlock. Furthermore, this story is just like every other one of Cornwell's I've ever read: a fierce anti-hero more noble than he's willing to admit to himself or anyone else, strong women who see him for what he is, plus villains of maniacal depth and ruthlessness, all knocking about in a world of cynicism and corruption in which all the outward conventionals are exposed for the flimsy facades that they really are. It was after only a couple pages that I suddenly realized what I was really reading was just Richard Sharpe and his friends dressed up in Viking helmets. Of course I'm going to finish the book, but I feel vaguely ashamed of myself for doing so.

***Speaking of books, I've made a couple new purchases from the devil's website as well. First, because Mom planted the idea in my head, I picked up John Stoye's The Siege of Vienna - The Last Great Trial Between Cross & Crescent. The book originally came out in 2000, so of course the title is now out of date. And because the devil's website tempted me to, I also picked up Victory of the West - The Great Christian-Muslim Clash at the Battle of Lepanto by Niccolo Capponi.

I've often wondered why, given all the hullaballoo about the eeeeevils of the Crusades, nobody seems to squawk about the Turks and the Moors invading eastern and western Europe. Free Constantinople! says I.

In honor of my patrons, I also picked up copies of Aquinas' Shorter Summa and Augustine's City of God (the Dods translation with the Merton introduction). I was prompted in part to read the latter (which I have not done before) by the snotty things Edward Gibbon has to say about it. I am enjoying Gibbon's Decline and Fall immensely, but every now and again his self-satisfied snarkiness gets to be a bit too much for me.

Finally, I picked up a DVD of Mozart's Le Nozzi di Figaro, as performed by Bryn Terfel, Alison Hagley, Rodney Gilfrey et al under the direction of John Eliot Gardiner. I've had the VHS of this for years and it is starting to wear out. Of all the televised versions I've seen, this is still the best one - impeccably sung and pretty well acted. The only things that annoy me are the minimalist sets and the occasional efforts to radicalize the story. I don't know about Beumarchis' original play, but Mozart was a progressive, not a rabble-rouser, and in his hands the story is about liberalizing the social order, not overturning it.

***As I mentioned some time last week, we had a tree removed from the side yard of Orgle Manor. What a difference! As I stood in the yard earlier today chatting with our landscaper, I couldn't help wondering what benefits might be obtained by felling some of the other trees in the area. Why is it that once you've pruned back one tree, bush or plant, you suddenly feel an overwhelming urge to start wreaking havoc on all the rest of them as well, like a gardening berserker?

***I was talking this week with a fellah who works as an Obamessiah operative in his neck of the woods. He predicted She Who Must Not Be Named won't last the month. All I can say, if this turns out to be true, is "heh". And touching wood, the prospect of going up against him this fall worries me less and less. From all that I've seen, Barak is just a limousine liberal of particularly light weight. Plus, he's got an awful lot of baggage in both his wife and his pastor. For all the novelty of his being the prospective first black presidential nominee, I think that'll prove just to be a summer thing and not enough, by itself, to encourage sufficient Donk enthusiasm this fall.

***We've had an awful lot of rain the past couple days here in the Dee Cee area. Somehow the prospect of not having to go to three soccer games tomorrow on account of water-logged fields doesn't disturb me very much.

***I gather that Sunday is Mother's Day. Frankly, I've never paid very much attention to it at all, as my own mother taught us to consider it a silly ersatz holiday. Howsomever, if you do intend to observe it, might I ask you also to consider and perhaps pray for those who might wish to be mothers but aren't (for whatever reason), and those mothers who have lost children? Thankee.

That's it for the moment.

(**Spot the quotes.)

Posted by Robert at 01:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Free Range Kids

First off - let me say, I don't have any kids. So I'm not qualified to make any statements on this subject. It doesn't stop me from stirring the pot, however.

From Free Range Kids:
When I wrote a column for The New York Sun on “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Take The Subway Alone,” I figured I’d get a few e-mails pro and con.

Two days later I was on the Today Show, MSNBC, FoxNews and all manner of talk radio with a new title under my smiling face: “America’s Worst Mom?”

Yes, that’s what it took for me to learn just what a hot-button this is — this issue of whether good parents ever let their kids out of their sight. But even as the anchors were having a field day with the story, many of the cameramen and make up people were pulling me aside to say that THEY had been allowed to get around by themselves as kids– and boy were they glad. They relished the memories!

Had the world really become so much more dangerous in just one generation?Yes — in most people’s estimation. But no — not according to the evidence. Over at the think tank, where they examine the way the media use statistics, researchers have found that the number of kids getting abducted by strangers actually holds very steady over the years. In 2006, that number was 115, and 40% of them were killed.

Any kid killed is a horrible tragedy. It makes my stomach plunge to even think about it. But when the numbers are about 50 kids in a country of 300 million, it’s also a very random, rare event. It is far more rare, for instance, than dying from a fall off the bed or other furniture. So should we, for safety’s sake, all start sleeping on the floor?"

Free Range Kids is a blog for "anyone who thinks that kids need a little more freedom and would like to connect to people who feel the same way."

As I said - I'm totally unqualified to speak on this subject, but I live in a very safe rural area and am daily astounded to see parents waiting with children for the bus. They can't even wait for a school bus by themselves???

When these nanny-house children get to the age of military service, how in the hell are they ever going to be able to get to boot camp (let alone deployment) if mom can't come with to wipe their asses?

Over-coddling children is contrary to the American spirit, if you ask me.

Free range parents, I salute you!

Posted by Chai-Rista at 11:44 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Very easy on the eyes of the male of the species

Rosario Dawson Photos

Rosario Dawson celebrity profile

Today is Rosario Dawson's 29th birthday according to the local paper. Photo via

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May 08, 2008

Don't count her out yet

The Empire Strikes Barack:

Via the Politico.

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The Puppies

Monica asked about my beagle puppies: Kiku and Misuke. These are a couple of girls Pep and I got in the fall. They are about 8 months old now. They're house broken, aversive to biting . . . people (each other is another story!) and spayed. What good girls!

Posted by Chai-Rista at 02:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Have I mentioned that I love anatomical models?

More of Susini's work at the University of Calgary. Be sure to mouse over the images for highlighted labeling, or mouse over the labels to see where the parts lie. Brilliant.

You might also find this post at Bioephemera entitled "Wombs, Waxes and Wonder Cabinets" interesting. It explores the discomforting and fascinating area between anatomy and art.

Posted by Chai-Rista at 01:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is Hunter Thompson Dead?

A funny stab at getting to "the Truth" about Thompson's alleged demise.

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Libel Terrorism

Did you have any idea that lawsuits in the UK against American authors have caused book burnings in the US? Admittedly - the books weren't actually "burned," but they were destroyed by court order. These were books published by Cambridge University Press!!! Yes - it has happened here at least once in the last 18 months.

It's called "libel terrorism." Wealthy Muslim oilmen who use their vast riches to support terrorism simply sue publishing houses that produce books saying so, until the publisher crumples like cotton in a hurricane. Of course, they also sue the author too, even though these terrorism benefactors are not US citizens. Money wins in court and these Muslim oilmen are buying indulgences on the US Constitution!

For the details on recent good news against this outrage see here and here.

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Jiihad of Attrition

Object lesson #1 - A short investigation into dhimmitude in the UK . . .

Sadly - we already have exactly the same problem here.

Posted by Chai-Rista at 12:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 07, 2008

No Pot Candy for Kids in GA

"Georgia retailers soon will be banned from selling candy flavored to taste like marijuana to children."

"Senator Doug Stoner pushed the bill in the senate. "I don't think that folks are aware this is going on," Stoner told Channel 2 in April. "It's mainly, from what I can tell, particularly targeted to minority communities."

Seems an uncharacteristic move for someone named Stoner, doesn't it?

Read about "Kronic Kandy" and see a "Pot Sucker" here.

Large cuppa Tazo Wild Sweet Orange to Mrs. Keysunset for providing the lead on this one!

Posted by Chai-Rista at 03:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nietzsche Family Circus

Family Circus with quotes from Nietzsche. Never better!

Be sure to hit Refresh to see more.

Update: God bless The Abbot! He pointed me to Cthulhu Family Circus which is so many magnitudes more awesome than Nietzsche!

See here, here, and here.

Have a tall Chai-rista's Special Blend, dear Abbot!

Posted by Chai-Rista at 03:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Will She Or Won't She?

The pressure from the "in-the-Obama-corner" MSM is mounting for SWMNBN to pack it in.

Her campaign has canceled all events and is officially in "huddle" mode.

My prediction - she's not deciding whether to stay in or not, rather she's brainstorming with her posse to generate a plausible public rationale for continuing. Of course, when I say plausible I don't necessarily mean plausible to anyone but herself.

On the GOP side, The Onion gives us little gem:



She's in it to win it, baby!!!

She's "loaning" her campaign $6.5 million. Lest we forget that the Clinton's are filthy rich (something the MSM likes to overlook). As long as she holds the MI and FL cards and as long as she has the potential to win some of the remaining primaries - West Virginia, Kentucky and Puerto Rico are likely to go her way - she will JUST.NOT.LET.GO!

On Wednesday June 4th, the day after the final primary, Obama will in all likelihood still not have reached the delegate number to clinch. As long as that happens, SWMNBN will fight - tooth and nail fang and talon - throughout the summer until Denver. Who boy, it's gonna be fun watching this.

Posted by Gary at 07:40 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 06, 2008

What is Chai Reading?

I'm in the throes of reading Blood Meridian on the impeccable advice of Sheila. I haven't even read all of Sheila's post on because I don't want spoilers. But she said enough in her first paragraph to get me hooked into reading this book.

This is my first Cormac McCarthy and I'm finding myself in awe of his writing. Its relentless and worsted and radiant and vermicular and marmoreal. It slows me in reading because it doesn't give itself up easily. This enhances the trance. It's a rich prose that feeds me full with only a chapter a sitting. I'm forever indebted to Sheila for pointing me to this book.

So what are you reading now? Tell me about it.

Posted by Chai-Rista at 03:03 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

50 Best Cult Books

The London Telegraph lists the 50 Best Cult Books.

As one of his commenter's said "It's funny and frightening how many of these I've read." I've read about 2/3rd of this list. But I don't see one of my all-time favorite cult books at all. Where in tarnation is Snow Crash?

What else is missing? Please send your thoughts via comments!

Posted by Chai-Rista at 02:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Righteous Bust in San Diego

Almost 100 students of San Diego Sate University were arrested today for drug trafficking. The student drug distribution cells (AKA "seven campus fraternities") routinely sent text messages to customers listing sale prices . . . one supposes on closeout drugs?

Yes - Theta Chi was apparently the Big Lots of cocaine deals. Get this - "According to prosecutors, one of the students arrested was a cocaine dealer on campus who was one month away from obtaining his master's degree in Homeland Security."

The more I hear, the more entertaining this gets. Read for yourself here.

Posted by Chai-Rista at 01:42 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 05, 2008

What will suck down what passes as free time for the next two years . . .

and contribute nothing to what pays the bills? This.

On The Road Again


I'm heading out to the Heartland in a few minutes, returning to Your Nation's Capital Thursday evening, so no more posties from me until Friday.

I see that Chai is in the shop today. Yay! I would also call on LMC and Gary to come to the aid of the party, and even Steve-O ought to consider coming out of hibernation.

Also, anybody seen the Scottish Dwarf lately?

Bye, y'all, for now. Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 03:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

Our spring project at Orgle Manor this year is to clean up the side yard to the west of the house, which over the years has become a wasteland of mud, exposed roots and scraggly weeds owing to its utter domination by a large but crooked maple.

Step one is to get rid of the tree, after which we are having a landscaper come in to lay some sod and cut a couple new beds against the wall of the house. (I'm also going to have him put an arbor over the gate to the back yard, but shhh!! - don't tell the Missus, as it's a surprise.) Along with the tree in question, we are also having a major limb lopped off a tree in our neighbor's yard. It leans way out over our property, contributing to the cimmerian gloom and also threatening to come crashing down on the garage during the next major ice storm or hurricane.

In fact, the tree guys are out at the house right now. I just got a call from their chief. Our neighbor, of course, knew and approved of our lopping of their limb, but the female member of the duo was out fussing a while ago because nobody had told her how much it was going to cost and she didn't want any cutting done before she saw the bill. (It's a couple hundred bucks.)

Well, either I am the biggest sap in history or else I am properly applying the Golden Rule, but since we're the ones spear-heading this project, I never dreamed of making any kind of demand that the neighbors pony up. I told the chief to tell her we had it covered. Hopefully, this will bring a little sunshine (ha! get it?) into her Monday. If they insist on pressing a check on us, of course, we won't say no. But I'm not going to force the thing.

We're also having the tree guys cut back a pair of thirty foot tall hollies that flank the end of the driveway. The chief reports that they look really nice now, having been lowered and shaped for the first time in years. I can't wait to see them. (Of course, I'll have to wait to see them because I catch a flight straight from the office this afternoon and won't be back in town until @#($*#(&!!! Thursday night.)

Posted by Robert at 12:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why Does This Not Surprise Me In The Least?

Co-ed college dorm rooms. And where are they? At my own alma mater, of course:

Erik Youngdahl and Michelle Garcia share a dorm room at Connecticut's Wesleyan University. But they say there's no funny business going on. Really. They mean it. They have set up their beds side-by-side like Lucy and Ricky in "I Love Lucy," and avert their eyes when one of them is changing clothes.

"People are shocked to hear that it's happening and even that it's possible," said Youngdahl, a 20-year-old sophomore. But "once you actually live in it, it doesn't actually turn into a big deal."

It strikes me that one of the primary problems of this wretched age in which we live is the fact that nothing is a big deal. No propriety. No limits. No sense of the special. Everything is open and familiar. And of course, familiarity breeds contempt. And contempt is pretty durn near the root of an awful lot of our social ills.

Just saying.

Yips! to Ace.

Posted by Robert at 12:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Nature Photos

My husband - who some of you may know as Pep - has launched a Flickr site for his nature photography.


Posted by Chai-Rista at 11:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Happy Cinco de Mayo

Got to work this morning and the fountain out in front of the Library is glowing green and orange in the morning sun. Looks like a big rectangular pool of Gatorade or melted margarita, with a green spout in the middle. I think the kids put anti-freeze in it. It's weirdly beautiful, but I think they should have found a way to put big salt rocks around the rim. This is a new trick - they usually put suds in it during finals.

In order to fully celebrate this glorious foreign holiday, I offer a scientific article one of our industrious students pointed out to me. It carries the evocative title:

Amoebas may vomit E. coli on your greens

The connection to Cinco de Mayo?

Um . . . limes kill protozoa, so drink up?

Yips! from Robbo:


Posted by Chai-Rista at 07:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 04, 2008

Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM)

As I believe I mentioned some time back, I am currently reading Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This is my third or fourth attempt, each of the prior ones having got bogged down in the first volume. This time, however, I am well and truly away and look to make it right the way through.

The other day, I reached the point at which Alaric the Visigoth sacked Rome in 410 A.D. I mentioned this to Mom when I was chatting with her yesterday and she, in turn, mentioned the curious fact that at some point during the Victorian Period, Alaric became quite a popular name in some of the higher strata of English society. I recalled that indeed P.G. Wodehouse - himself of Edwardian vintage - had christened one of his senior characters - the Duke of Dunstable - as an Alaric. (I believe the Dook makes his first appearance in the Blandings Castle novel Uncle Fred in the Springtime.)

We pondered for a moment what might account for this particular naming convention - given that the original Alaric was, after all, a barbarian - but came away stumped. Anybody have any ideas?

Posted by Robert at 06:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Ecumenical Musickal Posting (TM)

A good day on the religious musick front.

First, I cannot help but puff just a bit about the middle Llama-ette's triumph this morning. Although at eight years the youngest member of her youth choir, she nonetheless got a solo verse in today's Offeratory Anthem at what from here on out I will refer to as Robbo's Former Episcopal Church, or RFEC. It was a modern, peppy affair in 5/4 time, the verse of which ought to have had the Dave Brubeck Quartet speed-dialing their copyright lawyers had they been aware of it. She had been quite worried about performing all by herself, and we spent a fair bit of time yesterday practicing together, self counseling her to remember her breathing and to sing as loud as she could. I needn't have been concerned: the gel marched forward when the time came, puffed up her cheeks, rolled her eyes, and struck the notes, as a former golf course starter of my acquaintence used to say, "with great vigah". Furthermore, as she was singing into a mic, the plaster was positively falling from the ceiling by the time she was done. (She wasn't alone in her achievement, by the way. The entire chorus of seven girls - ranging in age from eight to about twelve - positively nailed it this morning. Not only that, they knew that they did. This I attribute to the talent and patience of their director.)

After the service was over at RFEC, I scuttled over to my new digs for Mass. And here again I got a treat: not only was I perfectly familiar with all three of the hymns served up (each of which I have sung many times in my Anglican past), I also happened to be surrounded for once with people who were interested in trying to sing them. Given such cover, I did not feel the slightest bit self-conscious indulging in them.

Speaking of my new digs, let me just share a bit of a rant about them. I happen to love almost everything about my new Catholic parish except this: the church itself is hidious - Eisenhower Moderne at its worst. Not only does its circular shape and central altar remind me irresistably of the Jupiter II, but it is supplied with about eight exit doors all around the circuit. This allows people to scuttle off almost literally whilst still mumbling the Host. I was taught that nobody leaves before the Recessional, and that when one does leave, one goes out the front, shaking the Padre's hand and saying "Good Morning" along the way.

Hmph! I've known for a long time that God was gently but irresistably shooing me into the Tiber, but I used to just look at it from the perspective of what Rome would do for me. Is it possible that given my sensibilities about hymnody and Mass etiquette, Himself might also have been thinking of what I might be able to do for Rome?

Posted by Robert at 06:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 02, 2008

Where's Robbo? - Update


UPDATE: After further review on the field, this entry has been ruled too incoherent. We'll try the philosophickal stuff again when I've had a bit more sleep.

Posted by Robert at 10:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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