July 31, 2008

Gratuitous Politickal Observation

Saint Barry image courtesy of Erik at Clogwork.

Oh, my.

I can't help noticing that after the Obamessiah's varsity speech to his German constituents and full-bore MSM adoration this week (and, indeed, for many weeks past), somehow he's still statistically tied with McCain!

Now I have never set myself up to be any kind of political punditista, but is it just possible that this is an early sign America is not interested in electing a humorless lighweight with a Messiah complex to the Presidency this time around?

I tell you truly, friends, I've been saying all along that I thought the whole Obama Wave was just a summer thing and that it would evaporate when people actually started focusing on the choices presented them. I'm not naming calls here, since much could happen between now and November 4, but I'm not backing off my general assessment either.

Posted by Robert at 10:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Not That Anyone Asked...

But IMHO, the most shrewd VP pick for John McCain would be Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

A rising star in the GOP, she's a bright, accomplished, conservative Governor (and a big proponent of ANWR drilling) who might just pull some of those Hillary Democrats who longed to see a woman in the White House.


And pretty easy on the eyes, to boot.

No reflection on Pawlenty or Romney, but I just see this as the pick that brings the most to the table. She ain't no Geraldine Ferraro.

Posted by Gary at 09:40 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

No Recession Yet?

New GDP shows continued growth, albeit slow growth.

no recession.jpg

But considering the condition of the housing market, oil prices and the weak dollar these results are actually pretty startling.

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. In other words, you can call it the worst economy since...dum, dum DUUUUUMMMM...the Great Depression all you want. It ain't so.

What would bring about a recession (and you can take this one to the bank) is Obamanomics - tax it, regulate it, subsidize it, etc. Hopefully, this time next year we won't have to worry about that.

Posted by Gary at 11:31 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Well now...

The look on my face probably most closely resembles that of Mark Ratner, upon discovering that Stacy Hamilton's been knocked up by Mike Damone, except in this case the role of Damone is played by Pope Benedict. Except I'm pretty sure Benedict would drive Rob to the clinic, unlike that bastard Damone.

And if that doesn't completely gross out and offend (or confirm that long time suspicions as to LLama orientations of) EVERYONE, I don't know what will.....

And now, in honor of 6000 posts, a million and a half visits, (and the concert at the Meadowlands I'm going to with The Dear One tonight) we'll leave you with this:

Yips! from Robbo: See? My nefarious plan to lure Steve-O out of the woodwork worked perfectly! MWAAAAAA-HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

In all seriousness, we've been chatting in the back channels and everything is copasetic? copacitic? copa- just fine.

Posted by Steve-O at 09:34 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Harry Potter And The Untempted Llama

I note that today is the birthday of J.K. Rowling.

Some time back, believing I had no choice in the matter in the face of the Llama-ettes, I resigned myself to finally sitting down and reading the Harry Potter series. (As I recollect, Gary found himself in the same position.)

Well as it turned out, that belief proved unfounded, as the butterfly-like attention of the gels wandered off in a new direction. The result is that I can still claim with some pride that I have yet to either a) read a Harry Potter book or b) see a Harry Potter movie, even though we own both sets.

Hogwarts Yips! from Gary:
Yes, I had cloistered away the paper bound volumes that I had purchased once son number one showed little if any interest in reading them. What sparked my interest was how many Potter fans I knew that were peeved by the film treatment of "Order of the Phoenix" because so much material was excised from the script.

I wondered "how important could all that extra stuff be"? I had read the first two volumes previously and they mirrored the films so closely I figured, eh, just watch the movies. Now I was intrigued.

To my pleasant surprise it was right about at the end of the fourth book that the story goes to an entirely new level and becomes significantly more interesting.

So, never say never Robbo. If the inclination ever strikes you down the road, I'll vouch that the payoff at the end is worth it.

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

Random Commuter Observation - "Mission From Gahd" Division

The streets of my little neck of the NoVA suburbs have been crawling with pairs of close-cropped, white-shirted, black-pants, string-tie'd young men carrying stacks of books, which can only mean that it's missionary season for somebody or other. (I believe these guys are Mormons. On the other hand, for all I know they may well be Moonies.)

What with the steamy hot n' humid weather we've been having the past couple days, I question the timing. It strikes me that these folks are not going to get much sympathy when they ask somebody already near the boiling point whether they've been Saved.

On the other hand, perhaps they can work the weather into their message, i.e, "You think this is bad? Just you wait......"

Whatever the case, somebody should at least give these fellahs a bit more training in road safety, especially when they're on bikes. I nearly sent one prematurely to his Maker this morning when he darted across an intersection against the lights.

Posted by Robert at 08:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The Messiah says we don't need to drill for domestic oil because the solution is so simple:

Inflate your tires and get tune ups? Brilliant.

They really ought to stick that one in an ad.

Seriously, read these words carefully.

"We could save all the oil they are talking about getting off drilling if everybody was just inflating their tires. And getting regular tune-ups. You could actually save just as much."
Tell that to the undecided voters who are pumping gas into their cars at $4.00+ per gallon.

If that doesn't tell you exactly where this guy is coming from I don't what else will.

Posted by Gary at 08:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 30, 2008

Gratuitous Llama New-To-Me Netflix Moovie Review

Hudson Hawk (1991)

Somebody told me that this movie was Netflix-worthy and they were absolutely right. A silly, Bruce Willis-powered vanity send up of the whole spy-action genre, if you are in the right mood, it's quite entertaining. Never a slow moment and a lot of bada-bing, bada-boom wiseguy action.

Plus.....HH has that one element that serves as a veritable trump in Robbo's estimation, namely Andie MacDowell:


In all honesty, with those lazy southern eyes and that Carolina twang? Andie could read the Kansas City phone directory for all I care and still be a star.

Posted by Robert at 10:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday To Der Ahhnold

Born this day in Austria in 1947, surely he is a true example of somebody fulfilling the American Dream.

I suppose YouTube is full of all sorts of tasty Ahhnold treats, but the one that immediately springs to mind is actually a parody that I find highly amusing:

Posted by Robert at 09:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Whither Robbo?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe I am going to start a blog.

"But, Tom," you are no doubt saying to yourselves, "Um, don't you already have one?"

Well, I do and I don't. Let me explain.

You see, we Llamas started out this little venture five years ago come Thanksgiving. Although I had started reading a handful of sites at that point, I had never dreamed of actually contributing anything to the Blogsphere, and the idea came quite out of the Blue for me. One day Steve-O suddenly emailed "Hey, I've set up a blog. Let's do it." And the rest, as they say, is history.

But can I let you in on a secret? Even after all this time I have never really felt that this was my blog. Instead, I've always felt it was Steve-O's: He's the guy, after all, who set it up. He's the guy who gave it its unique character. He's the guy who has scooped all of our Insta-lanches (remember when those were a big deal?). And he's the guy who single-handedly propelled us for a brief time into the lower stratosphere of current events commentary. In short, he is The Llama.

Me? I've always felt like a bit of a hanger on, or - really - more like a house guest. And the truth is that I've had the growing conviction for some time that I have morphed into that very worst sort of house guest, the sort who blares his music all night with his obnoxious friends, cleans out the liquor cabinet without offering to pay or restock it, and then castigates you because you don't separate out your plastics from your paper or buy only organic milk. This isn't right.

And whether it's because of my behavior or not, I dunno (although I strongly suspect), but regular readers will know that Steve-O has pretty much vanished these past few months. As I say, Steve-O is the guiding force behind this place, the source of its character. As Mrs. Peperium observed earlier this summer after meeting me:

My first victim shall be Robbo. And he's the only one that is a bona fide victim. And like all victims, his victimhood stems all his from own doing, not mine. How did Robbo victimize himself? Easy. Last summer he wrote about meeting a fellow blogger for lunch during his summer holiday. And, much more importantly, Robbo wrote that he has learned that when you meet bloggers in real life they are always what they appear to be from their blogs. It was his understanding thatdue to the very nature of blogging and the need to write everyday, one could not hide one's true self for any sustained period.

Guess what? What a complete load of tosh that was. Robbo is not at all what he pretends to be on the blogosphere......I had concluded that he would fit right in the compound down in Hyannisport with the raping and pillaging of the liquor cabinet, women and the croquet lawn the Kennedys pretend is a football field whenever the besotted press shows up. Especially since Robbo had gone Catholic in recent days. But no, Robbo wouldn't. Which means his playing the baby grand is true. I had always thought his baby grand was just an expensive liquor cabinet that suited his medicinal needs and Mrs. Robbo's taste in interior design. I must now inform you that Robbo uses proper language. None of that Southern/English/drunk frat boy with glandular issues speak he often employs. Robbo is proper, most proper.

I've met probably a dozen or so fellow-bloggers out there and I'm sure that most of you would agree with Mrs. P's assessment.

When Steve-O is charging ahead on all eight cylinders, I can tag along and chip in. I feel that my more, ah, esoteric postings add value to the general feel of insanity around here when they intersperse with his patented brand of inspired self-expression. But on my own? I simply can't keep the shtick up.

Thus, my belief that it's time for me to start a new blog, something more in keeping with my own character where the kind of posting I really want to do is less clankingly discordant than it now seems to me in this half-empty Butcher's Shop. And indeed, to this end, I've already set up a Wordpress account and, in a fit of inspiration, picked out a name that I think will suit just fine. My plan is to turn Sadie and Phin loose on it - if they'll take the job - and not to start posting until I get back from vacation and can settle down to do the job properly.

As for the Llamas? Oh, I intend to stick around, to be sure. For one thing, I don't want to leave Steve-O, Gary and the LMC in the lurch. For another, I think this place will hot up once the fall campaigns get into full swing. My plan is to chip in, and perhaps to keep my more frivolous postings here as well. But as I say, I need a place where I have the elbow room to (I shudder even as I type this) be myself.

What do you think?

UPDATE: Oh, shoot - you know I can't wait until after the vac to unveil what I have in mind, so go on over and have a look at The Port Stands At Your Elbow. Let me just pat myself on the back a bit by noting that I figured out how to get the banner image up all by my Luddite lonesome. Still need help with blogrolling n' stuff, tho'.

Let me be clear again: This is not an either/or proposition. I'm not going anywhere. (Indeed, I'll probably wind up cross-posting a lot of stuff.) But as I say, this is Steve-O's place as much if not more than mine and I certainly have no right to tear it down or refashion it in order to suit my own whims.

Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 08:47 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

July 29, 2008

Gratuitous Nats Posting


Okay, we're 0-6 for our last two series, having been swept by both the Giants and the Dodgers, and we're 2-7 since the Break, but the Nats start a six game home stand by taking on the rat-bastard Phillies tonight and I am still clinging to the hope that This Is Where We Turn It All Around. You can bet that the Llama-ettes and I will watch.

Several regular readers have scoffed at our continued adherence to the team as they flounder around in the cellar, but I think it an important life lesson for the gels about building character through loyalty in adversity. If I'm right, at this rate they'll be candidates for canonization some day.

So, again, I say it now and say it loud: GO NATS!

BTW, Robbo and family are headed out to the new park on Sunday afternoon for the first time to see the Nats take on the Reds. Can't wait!

Khaaaaaaaan!!!! Update: Nats drop it 2-1, in part because of a running mistake by Zimmerman (of all people!). Dang.

Oh, well. Nothing to do but look forward to tomorrow night.

Posted by Robert at 03:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Let Your Fingers Do The Ogling

Courtesy of teh Library of Congress, it's Playboy in Braille.

There is a Jack Aubrey-like association of thoughts about useful ambidexterity, speed-reading and "If you'd listened to your mother in the first place, you wouldn't even need this!" that's floating around just out of my reach, but I just can't quite formulate the joke.

Yips! to Kevin D. Williamson at NRO's Media Blog.

UPDATE: This reminds me of the FCC's ill-fated foray into mandating "video description" for television programming (i.e., television for the blind), something that it was messing about with back in the day when I was still practicing communications law. (After much regulatory back-and-forth, The DC Court of Appeals eventually threw the whole thing out as well beyond the FCC's statutory powers.)

I forget the exact details of who would have been required to provide such service and for how much or what kind of programming, but I can't help wondering how an outfit like the Spice Channel would have dealt with it:

Tawny: Dr. Ron! Dr. Ron! It hurts when I do this!

Voice-Over: Tawny raises her arm awkwardly.

Dr. Ron: Then don't do that!

Tawny: Then what can I do?

Dr. Ron: Let's find out!

Voice-Over: Tawny now smiles at Dr. Ron provocatively. She's walking up to him....She's slipping off her patient gown. Whoa! Boutros Boutros-Ghali! Uh, oh....Dr. Ron's dropping his lab coat.....Mmmm - Is that a thermometer in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

The imagination boggles.

Posted by Robert at 02:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Things That Make You Go "Well, Duuuuh...!"


FDA - Don't Eat The Green Crap From A Lobstah:

July 28, 2008 -- The FDA today warned consumers to avoid eating tomalley in American lobster (also called Maine lobster) because of a potential contamination of dangerous levels of toxins that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, which can be fatal.

The warning only applies to tomalley, the soft, green substance found in the lobster body cavity that functions as the liver and pancreas.

American lobster, or Maine lobster, are harvested from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean from northeastern Canada to South Carolina. The FDA's warning applies regardless of where that lobster was harvested.

Cooking doesn't eliminate the paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins. But studies have shown that even when lobster tomalley has high levels of PSP, lobster meat itself is typically unaffected, according to the FDA.

Symptoms of PSP include tingling and/or numbness of the mouth, face, or neck; muscle weakness; headache; and nausea. In extreme cases, when large amounts of toxin are consumed, these symptoms can lead to respiratory failure and death.

Symptoms usually occur within two hours of exposure to the toxin; seek medical attention if any symptoms arise.

PSP toxins normally occur from time to time in clams and other shellfish and are carefully monitored by state regulatory authorities, according to the FDA, which learned of the problem after officials in Maine and New Hampshire found dangerous levels of the toxins in lobster tomalley. Some shellfish beds have been closed in recent months due to elevated levels of PSP toxins.

Lobster tomalley normally doesn't contain dangerous levels of PSP toxins. The current high levels of PSP toxins likely are linked to an ongoing red tide episode in northern New England and eastern Canada, notes the FDA.

Like I was going to anyway. I know - or at least I've heard tell - that some people consider the stuff a delicacy, but I've always thought the mere idea of eating lobstah pancreas quite disgusting.

Posted by Robert at 01:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Swooner Dreamboat Robbo

Heh. I reprint here a pic our pal Groovy Vic snapped of me a couple weeks ago when she was visiting Your Nation's Capital. I understand it has caused a bit of a stir amongst those to whom she's shown it already.

Share and enjoy!

"Pucker up, Bay-bee!"

Posted by Robert at 09:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Art Posting

Officer And A Laughing Girl, 1657

This is the kind of thing I absolutely adore: In the Literary Review, Lisa Jardine reviews Timonthy Brook's new book, Vermeer's Hat - The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World. An excerpt:

On the cover of Timothy Brook's enthralling new book is a well-known painting by Jan Vermeer of a laughing young woman in yellow, seated at a table and bathed in sunlight which floods through a half-open window. Her hands cup a crystal glass, and she is flirting with a dashing officer in a red coat seated opposite her. He has his back towards us, his right arm akimbo, but the composition is dominated by the outsized, black beaver hat he wears, fashionably trimmed with ribbon. This hat, and the diamond-paned window against which it is framed, set the stage for Vermeer's Hat. The minutely observed and meticulously executed details in Vermeer's paintings, Brook suggests, offer us metaphorical 'doors' - apertures opening up, like that half-open window, towards a wider world. Such doors, proposes Brook, take us directly into the rapidly expanding seventeenth-century world of global exploration and trade. Objects interjected into Vermeer's compositions draw the reader's eye and mind towards vistas beyond the sitters in their quintessentially Dutch surroundings.

In the case of the painting I have just described, that lovingly textured broad-brimmed hat opens a door which leads from Vermeer's Delft westwards across the Atlantic Ocean to Canada, where buccaneering adventurers like Samuel de Champlain - leader of a French mission seeking a northwest passage through the Great Lakes to the Pacific in the 1600s - exchanged beaver pelts for firearms with the Huron chiefs to finance their journeys. Back in Europe, the underfur of those much-sought-after pelts was stewed in copper acetate and mercury-laced glue to make the very best felt for the most fashionable hats.

Champlain's ultimate goal was not North America but China. In the early seventeenth century, all navigable routes led to the apparently boundless commercial opportunities offered by the Orient. What makes Vermeer's Hat such an original and stimulating book, however, is not simply the way that Brook traces threads from materially acquisitive Europe to more aloof markets in the East. He is a distinguished professor of Chinese studies, and each freshly painted door he opens to reveal connections between China and the Netherlands tells us as much about China as it does about ourselves. The story of tobacco, for example, tells us as much about the route tobacco took from Mexico to Manila, and thence to China, as it does about its arrival in Europe. By explaining the way in which the stories differ - tobacco caught the imagination of European working people, whereas in China smoking was an elite pursuit - Brook deftly expands the reader's understanding of some of the motives behind China's self-imposed isolation, as well as giving us some of the same sort of captivating local detail more familiar to us from the Dutch milieu.

Granted that the subject here is painting, but if I may violently switch metaphors, History is a fugue of constantly interweaving, interrelating and interreactive themes. And I never tire of studying the ways in which its disparate parts come together. Here, that pleasure is compounded, of course, by the visual delight of examining Vermeer's work. Think I haven't already dashed over to the Devil's Website to pick up a copy of this book? Ha, ha - think again!

Yips! to Arts & Letters Daily.

Posted by Robert at 08:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 28, 2008

Random Literary Confession

In response to a recent post in which I mentioned that I am thoroughly enjoying my first passage through Anthony Powell's A Dance To The Music of Time, our pal Groovy Vic (operating from her new WordPress digs) dropped this comment:

I meant to ask you, do you ever just read trash? You know, really trashy crap stuff, instead of all that long-haired high-brow stuff?

Ah ha ha, ha! You ask this of a guy who has three volumes of Letterman Top Ten Lists and the Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings practically memorized?

No, rest assured, Vic, I do indeed indulge in teh trash now and again. If you were to visit the library at Orgle Manor and take a peek behind the right-hand comfy-chair, you would spy on one of the lower shelves four or five Tom Clancy novels. I've read Red Storm Rising (my favorite) probably half a dozen times, The Hunt for Red October three or four, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger twice. I also read that one about Agent Clark (or whoever he is) living on the Chesapeake and battling Baltimore drug-scum once, and at least started in on that one where Congress gets wiped out and Jack Ryan becomes President (although I never got beyond the second chapter).

Aaaaaand if that isn't enough, while the jury remained out so long as I stuck to the Richard Sharpe series, after having read both Stonehenge and The Lords of the North, I am now perfectly willing to toss Bernard Cornwell into the trash category as well.

(Oh, and just because Vic brought up the subject, I have started feeling the Siren song of all these books again, especially as vacation is now less than two weeks away. My evening reading at the moment is William Hague's biography of Pitt the Younger, but do you think I'm going to take that to Maine with me? No fear!)

So, who are your favorite trashy authors?

Posted by Robert at 10:20 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Who's Ready For Some Cake?

Some good news: Our dear pal Kathy, having left the Moo-Knew collective, has set up new digs for the Cake-Eater Chronicles.

So update your bookmarks and head on over for some rich, goodly ranting.

Yip! Yip!

"Cake or Death?" Yips! from Gary:

Can't resist:

Posted by Robert at 09:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Play Ball! Division

We spent a very pleasant weekend at my God-parents' house outside of Fredericksburg. As it happened, the GP's were also celebrating a family birthday, so the grounds were full of connexions, including many, many children.

At one point on Saturday afternoon, I noticed that the eldest Llama-ette had got into a game of pick-up whiffle ball with two other kids of about her age. As I began to watch, the gel was pitching, with one of the kids batting and the other running at second. And damme if before each pitch, the gel didn't very deliberately swivel her head round and look the runner back on to the bag.

It's little details like that which give me no end of satisfaction.

BTW, after four years of it, the Llama-ette has decided that she's had quite enough of soccer. She's going to try softball this fall. I've an idea that this may prove to be "her" sport.

Posted by Robert at 09:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

More Gratuitous Tolkien Geekery Posting

In response to my post t'other day about the character voices I use in reading The Fellowship of the Ring to the eldest Llama-ette, our pal Zendo Deb left this comment:

I hope that you sing the songs. Though I don't think you get many songs until after Moria.

I think you will have a harder time with dwarfish than with Gandalf. One of the things I didn't like about the movies, was the Scottish accent that Gimli was given. Probably easy to do, but not really in keeping with the books.

Well Deb, I have to confess that not only do I not sing the songs, I don't even bother to read them most of the time. (Indeed, the Llama-ette and I generally chant "blah, blah, blah" in unison when we come to them.) For some reason, the Elvish poetry of Middle Earth - although very important to Tolkien himself - has never really interested me. And as for the other characters, I've always thought Sam Gamgee's crooning of "West of the sun, East of the moon" in the tower at Cirith Ungol to be the one genuine moment of hideously laugh-out-loud ridiculousness in the whole trilogy. But it brings up an interesting question: what would the musick of Middle Earth sound like? My first impulse would be to go with something of a Renaissance flavor, at least among the High Elves and the Numenoreans. But you never know with 20th Century English writers, many of whom seem to have a penchant for something closer to Ralph Vaughan Williams or William Walton. What say you, Gary?

As for the dwarves' voices, you're right, it is a challenge. And one with which I'm still struggling. When the gel and I read the Chronicles of Narnia together, I got into the habit (out of pure whimsy) of basing my dwarf voice on that of Arthur Hunnicutt's Bull Harris from El Dorado. The idea stuck, and furthermore it translated over when we read The Hobbit together (at least for Thorin's companions - Thorin himself got a voice of somewhat more gravity and authority). Of course I know that C.S. Lewis's dwarfs and Tolkien's Dwarves are two very different creatures. I'm also aware of that passage in The Two Towers where Gamling hears "the great voice" of Gimli above the din of battle warning that the orcs were coming into Helm's Deep via the culvert under the wall. So far I've only had to do Gloin, and I can at least pass off his cackling as being due to his advanced age. But with Gimli's imminent appearance (we start on "The Ring Goes South" tonight), I'm going to have to make some changes. I don't think a Scots accent is the way to go, but the solution has not yet presented itself.

Posted by Robert at 08:34 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 26, 2008

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

Pace Babs (who disapproves of spreading invasive weeds), I just wanted to show you the blooming progress of my Prarie Cup Plant first mentioned here last weekend:


From a distance, it looks like a giant, yellow exclamation point in the corner of the garden.

Speaking of spreading, invasive weeds, I will tell you that Kong the Buddlea seems bent on spreading its progeny to every corner of the garden and then some. If I don't get out there some time very soon with my toad-sticker, the entire plot will be nothing but Butterfly Bush.

Overall we've had a very good year. Yet with August rapidly approaching, I can't help feeling that what you might call my gardener's moral advantage is slipping: the early bloomers are, of course, long done. The mid-summer specialists are still going, but are starting to look tired. And I really do not have that much late-season material. Everything needs hacking and pruning. Plus, the weeds are starting to make another come-back. In short, the glory is receding, the garden is starting to go to seed, and it's all beginning to look a bit on the shabby side.

Ah, well. That's all part of the cycle too, isn't it.

Posted by Robert at 07:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Something for everyone--birthday trifecta

First, Sandra Bullock:

Flixster - Share Movies

Next, Kate Beckinsale:

Flixster - Share Movies

and finally, for Robbo - Helen Mirren in her role as Elizabeth II:

Flixster - Share Movies

Yips! from Robbo: Ya know, I wouldn't mind me a bit of the Bullock. And while I appreciate the Mirren, if she's all I get at least let me have her from back in the day when she was doing Shakespeare for the Beeb:


UPDATED YIPS! from Robbo: The Abbot reminds us that Mirren was in Excalibur as well. (I always forget that so many heavy hitters were in that film.) So. You want Morgana Le Fay? You've got her:


Posted by LMC at 07:35 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 25, 2008

Gratuitous RCBfA Posting

Happy birthday to Maxfield Parrish, born this day in 1870 in Philadelphia.


I would suggest to the RCBfA that even though Parrish was only an illustrator, there is still much in his output worthy of consideration and enjoyment.

Posted by Robert at 12:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

R.I.P. Randy Pausch

He was so full of life in his famous "last lecture" presentation, it's hard to believe he was actually dying. Thanks for your inspiration, Randy.

If you've never seen the last lecture, I strongly encourage a click on the link above. It's the long version. The shorter version that he presented on Oprah, is here.

Posted by Gary at 11:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Tolkien Geekery Posting

As regular readers may recall, the eldest Llama-ette and I are making our way through The Fellowship of the Ring as our bed-time reading.

It's been a fairly long slog: Although I believe we began some time back in June, between camp, work travel and evenings when the gel stays up to watch Nats games, we are only now finishing up the chapter "The Council of Elrond".

Those familiar with LOTR will recall that this is probably the single chattiest chapter in the entire trilogy. It certainly is necessary in order to bring all the various threads of the story current for both the characters and the reader, but all of the action that occurs is related second-hand. Tough reading for all but the geekiest Tolkien fan (indeed, I used sometimes to skim it in my younger, more dissolute days), and even tougher for someone listening to such reading. When we started the chapter, I wondered how the Llama-ette would take it - whether she would stay focused, get bored or just wallow in contentment at being alone with Daddy. She has dispelled this wonder by repeatedly interrupting me to ask questions, many of which are answered in the very next paragraph that I am trying to get to. An infuriating practice, but at least it shows that she's paying attention.

Aaaaanyhoo, last evening I read Gandalf's account of his betrayal and capture by Saruman. As I've mentioned before, I always try to read characters' dialog in stage voices, reserving my natural speaking voice for the role of the narrator. For Gandalf, I've developed a delivery that is a bit husky, but quite polished and sharp. (One of the things I disliked about Ian McKellen's treatment of Gandalf in the moovies was that it was too mushy and mumbly at times. Gandalf has a quick mind, a quick temper and a quick wit, and that should be reflected in the way he speaks. As a matter of fact, my "Gandalf" voice is shaping up to be not very far from that of John Neville in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.)

The problem here, as you probably know if you've read this far, is that large chunks of Gandalf's account consist of his repetition of his discussions with both Radagast and Saruman, especially the latter. Reading all of that dialog straight through in Gandalf's own voice would make it fairly confusing to a listener who did not have the advantage of the printed text, so I found myself, in effect, imitating Gandalf's imitation of Saruman. A tricky piece of linguistic acting, as you might imagine, but I believe I pulled it off by modifying Gandalf's voice just enough when he was relating somebody else's speech to make plain that he wasn't the one doing the talking (if that makes sense). The question is whether the real Gandalf actually would have had to do this when relating his story. I doubt it, somehow, but I can't see any way 'round it when relaying it at third or fourth hand.

(BTW, I haven't yet decided exactly what the "real" Saruman will sound like, but I reckon he will be at once fairly close to Gandalf (since they are creatures of the same order), but at the same time somehow altered in order to reflect his fallen status. This will be complicated further by the fact that Saruman's chief power is in his voice and that he can change it to suit his audience and his needs. Fortunately, I have a while before I have to untangle this particular knot.)***

We will finish up the Council discussion in our next session. Although the gel has been both patient and engaged, I won't deny that she gave a huge sigh of relief last evening when I remarked that we only had a couple of pages of talking to go and would shortly be plunging back into more actual action.

***I warned you that this was a geekery post.


Extreme Tolkien Geek Yips! from Gary:

Don't be too hard on McKellen, Robbo. Apparently, he spent a considerable amount of time listening to the taped radio broadcasts of Tolkien himself reading the work and used the Oxford Don's own treatment of Gandalf as the inspiration for his own (mumbly, mushy and all).

FWIW, I'm in awe that you're taking on the task of reading Tolkien aloud. I did the same thing with "The Hobbit" last summer with my oldest and though the words flow nicely in your head it just much more challenging when you try to speak those passages. My jaw was sore for a week afterwards!

Posted by Robert at 10:34 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Just Answer The Question, Please

I was off this week doing a little deposition workshop which, unlike most legal training sessions, proved to be both informative and interesting.

All through the course, I couldn't help thinking of a video clip I had seen some time ago. Via the magic of Youtube's archive search, I reproduce it for your Friday morning amusement:

Posted by Robert at 08:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 24, 2008

Memo To McCain Campaign

More of this, please:

Reax to the Messiah's speech today:

"While Barack Obama took a premature victory lap today in the heart of Berlin, proclaiming himself a 'citizen of the world,' John McCain continued to make his case to the American citizens who will decide this election. Barack Obama offered eloquent praise for this country, but the contrast is clear. John McCain has dedicated his life to serving, improving and protecting America. Barack Obama spent an afternoon talking about it."
There's a new joke going around Senator Obama. Have you heard it? What did the five fingers say to the face?



Posted by Gary at 07:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2008


I could listen to this all day . . .

Posted by Chai-Rista at 12:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 22, 2008

NBC's Andrea Mitchell Calls BS On Obama Propaganda Tour

No, Andrea, you're right. It's not journalism. It's more like an MSM entourage.

Man, that's refreshing. Doesn't look like Matthews is all that happy with her. Heh.

Posted by Gary at 05:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rushed Morning Drive

Lo-fi version of my morning drive in to work:

And just because I like it:

Posted by Chai-Rista at 07:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Where's Robbo?

I'm in an off-site training seminar all day for the next three days, so posting will be sparse.

Incidentally, I don't know how to do the sitemeter screenshot thingy so I couldn't save it for you, but you may be interested to know that teh 1.5 millionth hit came in late yesterday afternoon from somebody at Riverhead, Noo Yawk (which I believe is on Lawn Guyland) doing a Google-search for "Beagle babes".

I figure either they believed that Charles Darwin was looking at more than iguanas as he sailed about the South Seas or else they wanted to know if Snoopy had a, ah, bit of tail on the side somewhere.

Posted by Robert at 07:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 21, 2008

One year anniversary

My soldiers and I will always remember the 21st of July because it was the time we came the closest to taking casualties from coordinated IED strikes. We were lucky, our vehicles withstood the blasts and no one was seriously injured. No question about it, the good folks at AM General who manufactured our trucks (and all the upgrades) did a magnificent job. Given the type of devices, placement of the IEDs, and their proximity to us, it is a miracle we were not hurt or our HMMWVs damaged- and "miracle" is not a term I use lightly. You do not have to convince me of the existence of God.

Posted by LMC at 07:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Twenty-Five Or -Six To Four Posting

Okay, folks, as we're just about 200 shy of the 1.5 mil hits mark, I'm going to try and put us over the line with this throw-down revelation:

This weekend I was getting a hair-cut. The salon's (yes, salon's, dammit) PA system was playing some Chicago. As I tapped my toes, I found myself thinking: Don't care much about the lyrics one way or the other, but I like that sound. Always have. Maybe I'll even go buy one of their best-of albums.

There. Got a problem with that?

Posted by Robert at 04:35 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama This N' That Posting

No full-sized posts seem to be welling up in Robbo's brain today, so I'll toss you a handful of postettes instead:

** I am currently well into the second volume of Anthony Powell's A Dance To The Music of Time. This is my first reading and I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying it. I never used to read much fiction - can't tell if I like ADTTMOT because of Powell's terrific writing style or because I'm just getting more interested in the genre as a whole. Perhaps it's a bit of both.

** A couple months back my father-in-law mentioned a book about the Battle of Antietam that he was going to send me. It arrived recently:The Ghosts of Antietam by John Grissmer (who also autographed it for me). From what I gather just from flipping through the jacket copy, it's actually an alt-history exercise, something I don't believe I've ever tried before. It also appears to take a sympathetic view of George McClellan. Considering what a first class battlefield boob and political weasel he was, that'll take some tall fiction, indeed.


Heat Miser has definitely unleashed one of his Dee Cee Summah Specials, although it's only supposed to last for the next day or two before we get some relief.

In order to fight off the heat-exhaustion to which I seem to be increasingly susceptible, I've gone to full "bidness casual" dress - no tie, and I'm leaving my blazer hung up in the office overnight. I may be a bit cooler, but I also feel like a slacker. (See why it was so easy for me to become RC? I've got this guilt thing nailed down cold.)

** Speaking of RC's, yesterday afternoon the eldest Llama-ette presented me a crucifix - complete with "INRI" sign - she had made out of a Barbie doll, a couple of pencils and some red nail-polish. She had tagged along with me to Mass last week and said while she was playing she had suddenly remembered the crucifix that hangs over the alter at my church and wanted to reproduce it for me. I had absolutely no idea how to take this. The Missus' comment was, "Dammit, Rob, you're turning the girl into a freak!" I laughed heartily, but there may be something to this.

** The only problem with eating a gyro by hand is that once you pick it up you cannot put it down and ever expect to pick it up again.

** Last evening I tried to watch The Loved One from Netflix. Made in 1965, the movie is very loosely based on the novel of the same name by Evelyn Waugh in which he skewers Hollywood cultchah. As it happens, this is the novel of Waugh's I know the least, so I felt that I could for once watch the movie on its own terms without hyperventilating about its faithlessness to the original. (I believe Waugh himself hated it, but at the same time did not mind the dosh he received from it.)

Anyhoo, apart from John Gielgud's early appearance, I just couldn't get through the thing. Like a lot of other mid-60's films that pass themselves off as dark satires, it struck me as ham-fisted and clunky, and yet self-satisfied at the same time. Also, I've never been able to stick Jonathan Winters, who plays two roles. (Don't know why, but there it is.) The intensity with which a number of commenters raved about TLO at both Netflix and IMDB was what originally provoked my interest, but I honestly don't see what they saw.

Posted by Robert at 01:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Milestone Posting

Here's something to bring a smile on a Monday morning: We Llamas are now just over 600 hits shy of the 1.5 mil mark. If current traffic patterns hold, we ought to cross the line some time later on this afternoon.

Okay, I know most of the traffic these days comes from google image searches for "Juliet Huddy's toes in pudding" and the like, but even so........dang! I also know that we have at least some real live readers out there. For that half dozen or so of you, all I can say is thank you very much for indulging us in the silly nonsense we've been putting up here all these years now.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

UPDATE: In answer to a flood of questions to the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack:

1. No, I don't know what Steve-O is up to at the moment. But remember that he's an academician (so's the Chai-Rista) and they hibernate during the summah. Also remember that this is an election year - I reckon that neither Steve-O, Gary nor the LMC will be able to resist the urge to bloviate as the campaigns hot up.

2. Yes, I am finally going to get around to weeding the blogrolls. We have a goodish number of dead links that need rooting out, plus I have a fistfull of regular reads not already on the rolls that need to be planted. When am I going to do this? As Manuel would say, "Hey-ven-tu-a-leeeee".

3. For all I know, we have no plans to migrate to Wordpress or some other hosting platform at the moment. As I explained to Groovy Vic when we met for lunch the other day, even if I wanted to, I wouldn't know how since I have the technical savvy of a young wombat. Also, whatever convulsions Moo Knew has been going through lately seem to have simmered down. Also, I recently switched over to Firefox from IE and have been having much better luck with both reading and posting. Why fix the roof when it ain't raining?

4. Yes, of course if you're the 1.5 millionth hit and I can figure out who you are, I'd be happy to send you an autographed Llama thong! (I can say this in confidence of not being too embarrassed because I happen to know that Mom's Internet access is down at the moment.)

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

July 19, 2008

Robbo Throws Down


This evening's family movie was Back To The Future II, surely the darkest of the BTTF series.

As we packed the Llama-ettes off to bed, we had a good laugh about what the creative types in 1985 thought the world of 2015 would look like - flying cars, hoverboards, etc. Somehow or other, the conversation turned to politics and I suddenly found myself in a face-off with the eight year old over who was going to be president then.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'll disclose to all of you that in a fit of bravura I put a fiver on Bobby Jindal. I confess that I may not have the timing right (although I certainly wasn't going to admit that to the gel), but from what I can sense, that man is going to be a major force in national politics some time in the future.

So - whaddaya think?

Posted by Robert at 09:15 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Riverine Diversions Division

This morning the Missus and I ditched the Llama-ettes and went kayaking (a first for both of us) on the Potomac:

No, this wasn't really us. In fact, we put out of River Bend Park, just upstream from Great Falls (where these guys are). There was a current to deal with and some rocks, but no white-water.

This was very nearly the first time I had been in a small boat since rowing crew back in school. I must say that the sensation of actually looking where I was going was....well, it took some getting used to. What also took getting used to was the notion that I wasn't trying to get from Point A to Point B in the shortest time possible. Old habits die hard, even after 20 years.

We had a great time, btw, and the Missus in particular has, I think, been bitten by the kayaking bug rayther hard. I must say that she piloted herself like and expert and looked rayther fetching as she sported on the flood.

Posted by Robert at 03:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

Now here's a little something I thought some of you gardening buffs might be interested to see:


This is a Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum, a member of the Aster family. According to this site:

This native perennial plant is about 4-10' tall and remains unbranched, except for the panicle of flowering stems near the apex. The central stem is thick, hairless, and four-sided. The large opposite leaves are up to 8" long and 5" across, which join together around the central stem to form a cup that can hold water, hence the name of the plant. These leaves are broadly lanceolate to cordate, coarsely toothed, and have a rough, sandpapery texture. The yellow composite flowers bloom during early to mid-summer for about 1-1½ months. Each sunflower-like composite flower is about 3-4" across, consisting of numerous yellow disk florets that are surrounded by 18-40 yellow or pale yellow ray florets. The infertile disk florets protrude somewhat from the center and are rather conspicuous, while the ray florets are fertile. The latter produce thin achenes, each with a well-developed marginal wing, which are dispersed to some extent by the wind. The root system consists of a central taproot, and abundant shallow rhizomes that help to spread the plant vegetatively, often forming substantial colonies.

The Cup Plant is native to the Midwest, but according to the USDA has now spread all over the East as well. Connecticut bans it for its invasiveness.

Although mine is just now opening out, you can see that the flower buds grow in clusters:


I think it'll look pretty durn impressive when it's going full steam. (I might have waited until then to do this post, but I happen to be free this afternoon and I couldn't resist.)

Some of you are perhaps shaking your heads and saying, "Tom, what would you want with what amounts to a prairie weed in your garden?" Well, I'll tell you. There are two reasons, one practical and the other sentimental: First, this is a durable perennial which I happen to think interesting, and if it spreads itself a bit it will make an impressive anchor for one of the back corners. (I have a second one in the other end which does not get as much light - it's only about a third of the size of this one and has no buds. I may have to move it.) Second, this plant (then just a foot-long youngling) was given to me last summah by my sister-in-law's husband. He has several growing around his house outside Boston, the original progenitor he claims to have first spotted in a ditch along the roadside and dug up. I've always had a soft spot for this kind of sharing and would readily plant something given to me that I might not otherwise have selected myself.

Posted by Robert at 02:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Melissa Theuriau!

The gold standard in French - or dare I say world-wide? - television journalism hits the big 3-0 today.

As they like to say in the biz, let's go to the videotape:

Mmmmmm.....And don't forget that if you really want to get into the spirit of the day, you can nip on over to the right-hand column and pull up our special Melissa skin!

Posted by Robert at 09:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tempus Fugit

It seems like just yesterday that I was changing the eldest Llama-ette's diapers. And yet she just left a few minutes ago to start her first paying gig as a mother's helper for a family up the street from us.

I suppose it's going to be learner's permits, college applications and wedding plans before I know what's what.


Posted by Robert at 09:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Summah-time And The Lunching Is Groovy

Yesterday I got the chance to meet Groovy Vic and her family as they visited Your Nation's Capital for the first (and, from what I understand from them, possibly the last time).

In accordance with Vic's son's consuming desire to see the dinosaurs, we agreed to meet outside the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History. As I predicted earlier in the week when commenting about the relatively pleasant weather we've been having, Heat Miser had thrown his machinery into high gear, producing a mind-numbing combination of heat n' humidity. I was quite concerned that the weather, coupled with the fact that the Natural History Museum is Touron Central, would bring out the worst of my misanthropic streak and cause me to make a rayther bad first impression. Thus, when I spoke to Vic to arrange our meet, I tried to assure her that although I would look like I was scowling, in fact I was just squinting because I'm near-sighted. I'm not sure that she believed me.

Because it was convenient, we grabbed a table at the museum's food court and had a nice chin-wag. As has been my almost uniform experience of other bloggers that I've met in real life, Vic is really no different in person than she is on the inter-tubes: a fiery but no-nonsense red-head. (Sooper-sekret note to ex-Swooner Dreamboat Ewan McGregor: Dude, you're out. And you're never getting back in. No, not even if you dress up as Col. Strong Vincent.) Vic's husband Dan is a nice guy who also has that air I've seen of other blogger's spouses of tolerantly smiling and shaking his head at this whole realm of imaginary friends we seem to inhabit. Boy Child and Girl Child were remarkably well behaved and polite, particularly given the circumstances. (When I asked Vic what her secret to success was, she said regular beatings and military discipline.) Indeed, I felt a bit bad because Girl Child in particular kept piping up to tell me about things. However, she was so soft-spoken and the room was so noisy that I couldn't understand about 85% of what she was saying, and found myself responding with nothing more than a nod and what I hope was an encouraging smile. Either she was gratified or else she came to the conclusion that I was a moron.

In short, however, I believe a good time was had by all.

Posted by Robert at 08:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 17, 2008

Let Them Eat Carbon Credits

Oooooh, I luv it when Limousine Liberals get hoist with their own petards:

Heh, indeed. Yips! to Dr. Rusty's Good Lieutenant.

Posted by Robert at 10:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sign Of The Times?

I don't known when or where this pic was snapped, but apparently the Surrender Now! crowd is in such dire straits these days that it's been forced to start selling vowels in order to keep going.


Yips! to Mrs. P for tossing this one in the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack.

Posted by Robert at 04:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"The Father of English Hymnody"


Happy Birthday, Isaac Watts. Born this day in 1674, Watts wrote something in the neighborhood of 600 hymns, many of which are still in the book. From my personal experience, they are uniformly sublime.

Because my addled mind works the way it does, I can never hear or read Watts' name without thinking of an incident of the Battle of Springfield, NJ in 1780, tattooed on my brain in my yoot:

Give Em Watts.jpg

British and Hessian forces launched a two-pronged attack along Vauxhall Road and Galloping Hill Road. American forces were entrenched at the Rahway River crossings in anticipation of both the attacks and held their ground. Units of the attackers crossed the river elsewhere and attempted flanking maneuvers toward the town center of Springfield and the foot of the Short Hills. American forces in reserve repelled the attacks. American reserves held in hills ahead, and Knyphausen's forces retreated.

Fighting was short and fierce; at one time the British launched five attacks in the span of 40 minutes. When retreating, British forces set fire to the village, burning down all but four buildings, including the 1st Presbyterian Church of Springfield. American forces and militia continued to harass British forces during their retreat, possibly expediting the full withdrawal to Staten Island.

According to legend, Reverend James Caldwell [whose wife had been killed earlier during a British raid on what is now Union Township], chaplain of Jonathan Dayton's regiment, passed out pages from the Watts hymnal book to be used as wadding. The battle cry "Give 'em Watts, boys" was apparently coined from this incident.

The Church Militant, indeed.

Posted by Robert at 09:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Fan-Appreciation Shout-Out

I am hoping to meet Groovy Vic and her family for lunch today. (They are in Your Nation's Capital doing the touron thing this week.)

As we spoke this morning, Vic mentioned her friend the Ultimate Driving Machine, a regular Llama reader but, apparently, a lurker, who had very kind things to say about us.

Well, UDM, thankee kindly indeed! (But speak up!!!) And this one's for you:

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Posted by Robert at 09:01 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review


Last evening the Missus and I sat down to watch The Bank Job.

For those of you who don't know, the story - supposedly based on a real incident - is set in the early 70's. A black radical and drug-running London slum lord self-named Michael X (after Malcolm X, which puts me in mind of the recent story about the young lady who raised her hand in history class and innocently asked who Malcolm the Tenth was), manages to get an envelope full of extremely compromising photos of HRH the Dummy Princess Margaret,*** ah, frolicking in the Caribbean. HM Government are not amused, so MI-5 (or MI-6) arrange for a group of Timson-like minor villains *** to burgle the vault of the Lloyds branch where Michael has stashed his pics in a safe-deposit box. The trouble is that also kept in this vault (and also taken by the crew) are the records of a Dinsdale Piranha-like*** porn king, who specializes in paying off coppers to look the other way, plus a Madam whose clientele include a number of MP's and other Very Important Persons, many of whom seem to prefer their entertainment to be, em, creative. Suspense and mayhem ensue as our plucky thieves - who are just ordinary blokes - realize what they've stumbled into.

All clear?

Oh, there's also a weakish sub-plot about a lady MI-5 agent who gets herself into Michael X's posse, the better to try and spy on him from the inside. I think this was added simply because it was her murder at Michael's hands that eventually got him run up at the yardarm.

When I first saw the previews for this film, I said of Jason Statham, who plays Terry Leather - the main bank thief and hero of the film - "You know, that guy looks like Handsome Rob."

My friend dope-slapped me and replied, "Idiot, that is Handsome Rob."

I mention this because given that, I thought this film was going to have considerably more car chases and witty banter than it did. So much for preconceived notions: In fact, what action there is is extremely low-tech and fairly low-key. Also, the film is too dark and grubby for much joking. Instead, its strength lies in its suspense and in the rayther complicated way in which all the pieces of the puzzle, i.e., the various forces with an interest in the business, fall into place.

Actually, what I liked best about the film was the cast. Stratham's got a good look about him - sort of a younger, leaner, Cockney Bruce Willis. Meanwhile, Richard Lintern, a fellah I'd never heard of who plays the MI-5 (or possibly MI-6) agent running the job, looks surprisingly like Sean Connery in his yout, only more handsome. And imagine my surprise to see Peter Bowles, of all people, as the smarmy, sinister head of MI-5 (or possibly MI-6)! I haven't clapped eyes on him since his Rumpole/Irish RM/To The Manor Born days ( which I'm sure our younger readers won't remember) and still think of him as affable and vaguely incompetent. Nifty bit of casting against type here. Oh, and the Dinsdale Piranha fellah is played wonderfully by David Souchet - who I still think of as Poirot, but who I've seen play eeeevil before when he went up against Kurt Russell (and, of course, lost).

Then, of course, there is the very lovely and talented Saffron Burrows who plays Martine Love, the go-between, er, between MI-5 (or MI-6) and Terry:



Mom recently asked why we Llamas don't drool over some of the older actresses out there. (I believe she cited Julianne Moore as an example). Well, Saffron's not all that especially old (mid-30's), but she looks older than she is - and I mean that as a compliment. (I've noticed that as I get older myself, I am more attracted to the experienced and sophisticated instead of the fresh-faced and naive. In this, I'm reminded of that passage from The Pirates of Penzance:

Frederick: A lad of twenty-one usually looks for a wife of seventeen.

Ruth: A wife of seventeen? You will find me a wife of a thousand!

Frederick: No, but I shall find you a wife of forty-seven and that is quite enough.

But I digress.)

I had a vague idea I had seen Miss Burrows before, but it wasn't until this morning that I remembered the last time was when she and Samuel L. Jackson were battling sooper-intelligent sharks in a sunken sea-laboratory, which battle of course required that she strip down to her undies. So experienced? Yes. Sophisticated? Gawd!

Robbo's Recommendation: All in all, not bad, but I don't think I'd bother with it again. Say three Yips! out of five.

***Lots of quotes to spot.

Posted by Robert at 07:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It's Time, Indeed

Of course, this extremely excellent vid has been half-way across the galaxy and back already in the past 24 hours, but I post it here anyway a) because I'm sure Mom hasn't seen it yet and believe she would like it, and b) because the bit with teh Ahnold at the end makes me laugh more every time I see it.

Posted by Robert at 07:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 16, 2008

Irrefutable Proof

That you can find ANYTHING on YouTube.

I watched this video maybe twice on MTV in the Eighties and it made such an indelible mental scar that I remembered it.

I searched it. And...yes...it came right up.

Posted by Gary at 05:18 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Sir Joshua Reynolds!***

One of Britain's greatest portrait painters, Reynolds was born this day in 1723.

I love Reynolds' portrature for two reasons. First, he is rightly recognized for his highly stylized treatments, bringing out the true character of the sitter, as it were. As this article from the UK Telegraph puts it,

[H]e pays his sitter the compliment of showing him as he really looked, and so makes the nobility of his demeanour all the more believable. Until Reynolds, portraiture had been a branch of painting taken for granted by English artists and patrons. It was his capacity to take portraiture seriously, to treat it as a genre worthy of a great artist, that broke this mould.

'Zactly so. However, I think I appreciate this even more because of the actual subjects he portrayed, the last quarter of the 18th Century in Britain being perhaps my very favorite time and place in history. Here are just a few samples:

First is Sir Joseph Banks, the great naturalist, traveller and patron of science:

Reynolds Banks.jpg

Here again is Samuel "Dictionary" Johnson, writer, linguist, arbiter, professional crank:

Reynolds Johnson.jpg

Among Reynolds' many, many portraits of fashionable ladies, we have Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire:

Reynolds Georgiana.jpg

Who was she, you ask? Well, she was a Hollywood superstar of her age, a political hostess and society queen. She was also a Spencer, the distant aunt of Princess Diana. And like Diana, she was mad as a coot, especially when it came to relationships with men.

Finally, for you military buffs, we have (then) Lt. Col. Banastre "Bloody" Tarleton, the scourge of the American Continental Army:

Reynolds Tarleton.jpg

Just from my thumbnail tag lines, I believe you can get a sense of the way Reynolds treated each of his subjects: scientist, critic, fashionable lady, dashing cavalryman, and yet each easily recognizable as specific individuals, not just types.

As to why I love late 18th Century Britain, well, that's perhaps an essay for when I'm feeling more rested and can give the question some deeper treatment. Suffice to say for the moment that this was one of those times and places in history in which the various social and economic forces came into an exquisite balance, the ancien regime still in place, but mellowed, modified and refreshed by a healthy injection of bourgeois energy and industry, producing between them a cultural sensibility that looked both forward and backward.

***Yes, this is the same post I did last year. But I happen to be quite pleased with it, so I see nothing wrong with using it again.

Posted by Robert at 10:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Venimus, Vidimus, Vi-Vooped-Ass

Michael Yon says the war in Iraq is effectively over. And guess what? WE WON:

The war continues to abate in Iraq. Violence is still present, but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in. I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.

I think that in celebration, at some point "Okinawa Jack" Murtha and the rest of the Copperhead-Fedayeen ought to be frog-marched down Main St. in Bagdad in order to receive "thanks" from the Iraqi people for all of their "support".

Yon is much gloomier about the current prospects in Afghanistan:

I wish I could say the same for Afghanistan. But that war we clearly are losing: I am preparing to go there and see the situation for myself. My friends and contacts who have a good understanding of Afghanistan are, to a man, pessimistic about the current situation. Interestingly, however, every one of them believes that Afghanistan can be turned into a success. They all say we need to change our approach, but in the long-term Afghanistan can stand on its own. The sources range from four-stars to civilians from the United States, Great Britain and other places. A couple years ago, some of these sources believed that defeat was imminent in Iraq. They were nearly right about Iraq, although some of them knew far less about Iraq than they do about Afghanistan. But it's clear that hard days are ahead in Afghanistan. We just lost nine of our soldiers in a single firefight, where the enemy entered a base and nearly overran it.

I believe that by "we need to change our approach", Yon's sources mean "we need to start crossing into Pakistan and beating the crap out of the bad guys there." And my impression, formed more by nooz-osmosis than anything else, is that we're getting ready to do just that little thing.

Yips! to Dr. Rusty and his Anteater.

BTW, I'd be very curious to read the LMC's take on all this, especially given that he's a real, live, professional soldier and I don't even play one on teevee.

Posted by Robert at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Well Done, Mr. President

Evidently Dubya read my post a few days back about Sen. Warner's proposal to reinstate the national 55 MPH speed limit in order to save fuel costs, because when offered a cup of guvmint-conservation-mandate kool-aid by an AP reporter yesterday, he threw it right back in the guy's face.

Yips! to Ace's Dave in Texas.

Posted by Robert at 08:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Beating everyone else to it

let me be the first to observe here that today is Phoebe's day, so say "happy birthday" to her:

Flixster - Share Movies
Posted by LMC at 05:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2008

Whoa. Good Blog.

I haven't the faintest idea what it means, and I haven't even been able to dial in properly, but Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is freakin' shiny.

Did I mention that Joss Wheden and I were classmates in college? Not that either one of us would have recognized the other had we tripped over each other....but there it is, nonetheless.

Original Yips! to Sleepy Beth, with an assist to Lintenfiniel Jen.

Posted by Robert at 09:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Observation

Right now the local classickal station is playing a recording of the Overture from Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 4 by a group called La Stravaganza under the direction of Andrew Manze. For some reason, they are performing sans trumpets or drum.

I suppose it can be done this way, but it sure sounds rayther odd.

UPDATE: Over at the devil's website, a reviewer remarks about this:

Manze has been active as a musicologist in examining the sources and has the fourth suite played here without trumpets and timpani, which, in his opinion, were only added later and could not have been part of the original Köthen score [i.e., where the four orchestral suites were first published around 1720]. Of course one misses the ceremonial sound at first, but if one listens closely, one can come to the conclusion that Manze is right: the "antiphonal" effect of a "choir" of oboes opposite a "choir" of strings is not obscured by the trumpets, which by their very nature are not in a position to play much more than the tonic and the dominant chords.

Not being a musicologist myself, again I really don't know why trumpet and timpani could not have been part of the original score, nor who would have added them later. But IMHO, even though the trumpets are confined to a relatively simple notational value, they provide a kind of emphatic framework that nicely highlights and caps off various sections of the work.

UPDATE DEUX: The radio's moved on to one of teh umpteen zillion Fantasies on themes from Carmen, this one by Francois Borne. I'm ashamed to admit that I rayther enjoy Carmen and its progeny. It certainly ain't Mozart, but it is kinda fun.

UPDATE TROIS: Speaking of Carmen, show of hands for all of you who remember this classic Sesame Street bit:

Posted by Robert at 03:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Eyup...Can't Get Theyah From Heyah.

(Seen all over the intertubes and forwarded to us about every two weeks or so.)

Regular readers will recall that a few days back I blegged about cargo carriers that I might attach to the Llama-mobile for our trip up to Maine this year, the better to bring back booty. (Thankee again, btw, for your suggestions.)

Well, since then I've done a goodish bit of research on line into both cargo bags and boxes, as well as into trailers. And the truth of the matter is that by the time you get through not only buying the container, but also all the straps and equipment you need to lash it to the top or back of your car, it gets awfully, awfully expensive.

So it looks like we're going to Plan B: Pack light. Only bring back what will fit. Ship what can be shipped. Ignore the rest.

Posted by Robert at 02:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mass Appeal

This past Sunday I attended a High Mass in which, at least for the first time since I've been at my church, the Ordinary was sung not by the crackerjack choir to the strains of Palestrina or some other master of polyphony, but instead in plainsong by the congregation (albeit led by a handful of choir members).

I felt exactly like Lt. Frank Drebin trying to pass himself off as Enrico Pallazzo. This was especially embarrassing given the fact that the eldest Llama-ette insisted on tagging along and I had been lavishly praising the musick ahead of time.

I'm curious (and I ask here because I would feel too sheepish asking one of the priests in person) as to whether there is some particular liturgical reason for or implication in this switch, or whether it's more likely just a matter of parish mechanics (i.e., the choir gets a break).

SHAMEFACED MORON UPDATE: Of course, the more I think about it, the more idiotic my question seems. Heck, the choir at RFEC disappears on a regular basis during the summer months (during which anyone can show up on a given Sunday and cover for them), why the heck shouldn't it be the same at RRCC?

I suppose my rook status is still showing - I assume that there is Some Significance to every single permutation of the Mass and find it hard to grasp that choir members are people, too.

Posted by Robert at 01:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

This Mom Needs A Parent-ectomy STAT!

Kid-sickness strikes camper parents:

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Eve Pidgeon watched the large group of kids, many of them laughing and chatting excitedly as they boarded a bus for summer sleepaway camp last summer.

"They just couldn't wait," says Pidgeon, whose 8-year-old daughter, Zoe, was among the young campers.

Then Pidgeon looked around and noticed something else: "There were no children crying -- just parents."

These days, camp leaders and family counselors say it's an increasingly common dynamic. It used to be the homesick kid begging to come home from camp. While that still happens, they've noticed that it's often parents who have more trouble letting go.

They call it "kid-sickness," a condition attributed in large part to today's more involved style of parenting. Observers also say it's only being exacerbated by our ability to be in constant contact by cell phone and computer, as well as many parents' perception that the world is a more dangerous place.

For leaders at many camps, it's meant that dealing with parents has become a huge part of their jobs.

"The time and energy camp directors put into preparing parents for camp is now equal to the time they prepare children for camp," says Peg Smith, head of the American Camp Association, which works with about 2,600 camps nationwide.

Refreshingly, the article seems to side with those who believe Mom & Dad ought just to unclench:

Bob Ditter, a therapist who works with children, adolescents and families in Boston, Massachusetts, has acted as a consultant to camps since the early 1980s and says he hears stories like those all the time.

He says there's something to be said for a parent who cares, but not to the point of becoming a "helicopter parent," a term used for parents who constantly hover over their children, stepping in to monitor their choices and solve their problems, even into adult life.

At Camp Arowhan in northern Ontario, Canada, they call it a "parent-ectomy." As is standard policy at many camps, director Joanne Kates doesn't allow her campers to phone, fax or e-mail their parents. They can, however, use a private service that contracts with the camp to exchange handwritten messages, which are scanned and sent throughout the week.

But she's clear with parents that they have to allow the camp staff to deal with most issues, including homesickness and conflicts between campers.

"Sending your child away to summer camp requires a terrifying leap of faith," says Kates, who estimates that she easily deals with "10 times" as many phone calls from worried and sometimes meddling parents as she did a decade ago. She saw a particular shift after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Child psychologist Dan Kindlon has noticed the heightened anxiety when touring the country to speak to parents. He says the large majority raise their hands when asked if they think the world is a more dangerous place than it was 20 years ago.

He questions whether that's really true, and wonders if we are unnecessarily creating a generation of overanxious children.

I tell you truly that with more and more articles like this coming along, I really have hopes that the pendulum is starting to swing back away from the helicopter-parent syndrome.

All I know from our first experience of sleepaway camp this year is a) the counselors were very firm about shooshing parents away as quickly as possible and b) both Llama-ettes are eager to return next summah.

As for the Missus and me, yes, it was a bit of a wrench to drop off the Llama-ettes and yes, we wrote them a fair number of letters - especially given as this was their first time - but I don't think either one of us went overboard fretting about them while they were away. And both the Llama-ettes said they were generally too busy to give much thought to missing us while they were there.

Posted by Robert at 01:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Lunchtime Observation

Occasionally, I wander down to the nearest Cosi for lunch, there to get myself a salad so I can feel both healthy and ever-so-slightly smug.

My particular franchise is decorated with, among other things, several ginormous head-shot portraits of Jack Nicholson, done in bold lines and drab colours that, for whatever reason, somehow always put me in mind of Francisco Franco. One portrait is a side-profile, but the other is a full frontal, complete with detailed eyebrows, rumpled hair and a very large ceegar hanging out of Jack's clenched jaw.

Every time I go in, I ponder the possible reasons behind these paintings, but so far I am stumped. They certainly are not appetizing, in any event.

Posted by Robert at 12:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Because Every Day Should Be Diane Lane Day

Actually, since all those nice photo tributes to the Lovely One on my old site are now kaput...


What better reason to reinvent the wheel?

Posted by Gary at 10:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Nats Posting


Thank God for the All-Star Break.

Here's the first half's post-mortem from the Sporting News:

As the Washington Nationals limp into the All-Star Break (both literally and figuratively), there is certainly more bad than good to talk about in terms of baseball in the Nation's capital. A winning percentage (.375) slightly below Chipper Jones' batting average (.376) is one place to start, but the stories behind that win-loss record speak volumes about a team whose fans expected more this season.

[T]he Nationals had to expect something good this season. And things started well enough. The new Nationals Park opened with a sellout crowd that, along with an ESPN audience, watched Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run to give the Nats a win on Opening Night. Two wins at Philadelphia later and a 3-0 start looked to show something very good was happening for Manny Acta's club.

But that success did not last for long. Since then, the Nats have only managed to win 33 of 93 games. Fifteen players have spent time on the disabled list with at least closer Chad Cordero out for the season. Only Cristian Guzman - Washington's lone All-Star - can claim to have been in the Opening Night starting lineup and not spent time on the disabled list this season.

The team ranks last in the National League in team batting average (.239), slugging percentage (.358 ), and is tied with the Padres for the fewest runs scored (350). They are tied with the Reds and Diamondbacks for the second-worst fielding percentage in the NL (.981), slightly above the Marlins (.977).

Sadly, the Nationals have been making plenty of negative headlines off the field as well as on it. Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell does an excellent job of pointing all of the recent negatives, so I advise you to go to his column to get the details, but here are the highlights: (a) the Nationals television coverage on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, MASN, is the least watched in all of baseball; (b) two Nationals fans died last week on a shuttle that transports Nats fans from the parking lot at RFK Stadium to Nationals Park; (c) GM Jim Bowden and special assistant Jose Rijo have been contacted for questioning as part of an FBI probe [Robbo: They deny the contact]; and (d) the Lerner family, the Nationals' owners, have refused to pay rent to the District of Columbia.

Add to all this the latest nooz that it looks as if Wily-Mo may be out for the season, and one can say only two words.

Yeee. Owitch.

But you know what? Watching the Nats drop game after game and reading of these sorrows that come not as single spies but in battallions, all I can do is remind myself of my Thomas Paine:

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

Of course, for "Tyranny" here you have to read "the Phillies" and for "FREEDOM" a "DIVISION TITLE", but the sentiment is still the same.

Yes, friends, I am o-fficially a Nats Fan and I'm going to stay that way come hell, high water or a .375 second half (not that I want any of these, of course). And indeed, here's hoping that the rest of the Division has been lulled into such a false sense of security that we'll make up that 16 game deficit before you can say "Manny Acta's Momma!"

UPDATE: Of course, with the break I can also briefly turn to my other sports headache. Is it possible that Favre might QB in Miami this year? Laces out, Brett!!

Posted by Robert at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday, Red Sonja

Okay, Gary, I'm giving you a lead here:

The lovely and talented, or at least tall, Bridgette Nielsen was born this day in 1963 in Rødovre, Denmark.

I have always known her for her B-movies and disastrous serial marriages, but I didn't know this little tidbit found at the Wikipedia entry: Back in the 80's Marvel Comics floated the idea of making a movie about a She-Hulk starring Nielsen (fresh off her Sonja gig).

"She-Hulk smash! And rip scanty costume in process!

Apparently, nobody was willing to invest any dosh and the project never went anywhere. Ah, well. Look on my face. My name is Might Have Been.

Speaking of such things, I learned from the Missus very recently that she and rayther a lot of the other pool moms are of the collective opinion that a certain kid helping to coach the swim team this summer is, if I remember her expression correctly, "seriously yummy". I laughed and laughed when she told me this, pointing out that a sudden interest in teen beefcake [Cartman: Beeeefcaaaake!!!] is a sure sign of impending middle age.

I used to feel vaguely guilty about posts like this one, but now? Not so much.

Posted by Robert at 08:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2008

Coming to a steakhouse near you

The GOP congresswoman who represents the 2d District of Virginia is having a fundraiser later this week featuring Darth Rove. The opposition is little put out. . .

Posted by LMC at 07:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hookay. That's that, I guess.

For those readers who've hung around here long enough, I officially mothballed my old blog - the Ex-Donkey Blog - about a year and a half ago. I migrated over from Blogsnot to MuNu early on and haven't been keeping up with the whole administrator responsibilities. Apparently, MuNu moved over to a new platform and - naturally - mine got left behind (do to my own negligence).

I left it out there in the ether because I didn't have the heart to delete two years worth of blog entries (almost 2400 posts). Most of it wasn't worth saving (IMO) but dang it there were a few gems on there that I hate to lose, and more than a few good memories.

Steve/Robbo, if you know of any way to get it back from the SixApart powers that be let me know. Otherwise...

...R.I.P. to the Ex-Donkey Blog. :-(

Glass-Half-Full Yips! from Robbo: Bummer, but look at it this way - now you'll just have to start your 80's/90's Babe Review all over again. I'm sure I speak for all the guys here when I say we'd be happy to help.

Grateful Yips! back from Gary:
All is not lost!

Thanks for the suggestion, Minero. If you insert ".new" in between "ex-donkey" and ".mu.nu" you get to the site, albeit oddly formatted. The big downside however is that all images saved to MuNu are not retrievable. And the links only work if you go up to the address bar and stick the ".new" in the URL.

Of course, all those Google hits I was getting for "Diane Lane Nekkid" will go to dead links. Sorry guys.

Posted by Gary at 11:55 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Bastille Day Posting


Given that the French are behaving halfway decently these days, I, Robbo the Llama Butcher, hereby state that in honor of Bastille Day, I will refrain this year from posting the following:

- Any reference to the bottom-boiling French k-niggits in Monty Python;

- Any reference to or depiction of a frog;

- Any reference to cheese-eating surrender monkeys;

- Any reference to poor personal hygiene;

- Any reference to Jacobin dogs and regicide.

Vive La France!

Posted by Robert at 10:23 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Summah Sports Observation

Although it rained all night last night, the eldest Llama-ette's dive practice went right on as scheduled this morning and there is no question about cancelling the middle Llama-ette's first competitive swim-meet this afternoon.

It occurs to me that swimming is the one sport where one doesn't have to wait around for the playing field to dry out. Oh, ha ha ha ha!!!

Posted by Robert at 08:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation

It was actually cool and pleasant enough this morning in Your Nation's Capital that I did not feel compelled to get my daily jumbo latte iced.

Not too shabby for the middle of July. Global warming or no, this has been a pretty decent summah so far, with lots of rain and only occasional outbursts of truly awful weather.

(Of course, as soon as he reads this Heat Miser is going to reach for the throttle.)

Posted by Robert at 07:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 12, 2008

Nothing to see here, move along

Via ABC News this week, the United States removed over 500 tons of yellowcake uranium from a nuclear complex south of Baghdad to the States. Somebody call Joe Wilson because everyone knows Saddam did not have a WMD program, no sirreee, no--that is 500 tons of nothing, these are NOT the 'droids you seek, etc.

Posted by LMC at 07:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Musickal Posting (TM)

Regular readers may recall that for the past year and a half or so - in fact, since Dad died - I have had no real interest in playing any musick other than that of J.S. Bach. Listening to other composers, yes. But when it comes to sitting down and tickling the ivories myself? Nobody but ol' Johann Sebastian will do. (Make of that what you will, all you armchair trick-cyclists.)

One of my very favorites currently is the Gigue from Bach's Partita No. 4 in D-Major, BWV 828. Here is the opening theme (lifted from the Bach Choir of Bethlehem):


TBCoB has this to say about the dance:

"Partita IV (BWV 828) contains a giga unique in all of Baroque music–it is in 9/16, giving it two levels of tripleness below the beat (I-3-3). Handel wrote gigas in 24/16 and 12/16, and Kuhnau wrote one in 9/8, but only Bach, to our knowledge, uses 9/16 for a giga." (Little and Jenna, Dance and the Music of J.S. Bach [Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991], 162-163.)

This gigue has the most textual variety of all the movements in Partita IV. It begins monophonically, with a single "voice" introducing the fugue subject.

A three-voice fugue emerges, but because of the rests and long notes written into the subject, even when all three voices are sounding there are times where, for a fleeting moment, we hear only two parts. At other times, the two upper voices "back off," dropping to dotted-eighth note ‘chords’ (strictly speaking, these are not chords, since there are only two pitches sounding, but it creates a more chordal effect) while the left hand takes the lead with exciting passages of constant sixteenths.

So what does this translate into? Well, here's Glenn Gould serving it up:

Of course, I can't play it anywhere near this well or this fast. But there is something so immensely uplifting about even my own modest stumblings that by the time I hit that last lovely arpeggio, I feel like I'm floating a couple inches off the bench.

We're seriously hoping to be able to swing the purchase of a baby grand next spring to replace my poor old Kawai upright that after near 40 years' worth of being banged on by me is rapidly approaching the end of its useful life. I've promised myself that once this happens, I'm going to knock off my shameful practice of getting by with sight-reading and really sit down and start properly learning pieces like this one.

Posted by Robert at 02:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

As I was messing about in the garden today, this changing-of-the-guard image struck me as kind of neat:


The Joe Pye Weed is just coming out as the Oak Leaf Hydrangia packs it in, a sure sign that we're about at the midsummer waypoint.

Since I had managed to filch the camera from the Missus, I snapped a couple other shots in the garden as well. Here is some Russian Sage:


And how about a little Cosmos? Why I haven't planted this in past years I simply can't imagine. What a perfect filler it is!


Actually, my main task today was dealing with the area behind our back fence, known sometimes as the "meadow", the "pasture" or the "back-forty", but usually just called "behind the fence".


I've been so busy lately that I haven't had time to deal with it properly and the grasses were about a foot high or more: I had to sweep the area with a weedwacker first and then mow it twice.

This is the edge of a big wodge of county property behind Orgle Manor. It's zoned for a school which, owing to shifts in the demographic growth 'round here, is unlikely ever to get built. Every now and again the neighborhood has to fight off the efforts of the Soccer Nazis or fly-by-night McMansions builders to get the tract rezoned.

Even if it did get rezoned, however, Orgle Manor should be safe from having construction encroach on its desmense, because just inside the tree line we have our own little EPA-protected creek:


Oh, as long as I had the ol' camera, I also snapped a close-up of the bushes that dominate one side of the meadow:


You'll probably snicker, but I'm ashamed to say that I don't even know what these are. The bushes are big, fast-growing and armed with extremely aggressive spikes. The berries certainly look tempting, but without better identification I don't feel inclined to take the chance. Anybody know?

Posted by Robert at 02:04 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack


I had a dream last night (this morning, actually) that I was on a Segway chasing Oprah. She was supposed to meet a group of Japanese businessmen but misunderstood the directions. I saw her heading the wrong way and figured that if I didn't go after her and catch her, nobody else would.

I was two or three blocks behind her and kept yelling, "Hi! Oprah! Hoy!" but she didn't hear me. Eventually, she turned into a large mall parking lot where some kind of Evangelical rally was being held under a number of large, white tents. I cruised up and down looking for her, but couldn't find her.

Finally I gave up and decided to go and look for Oprah at her own house. When I got there, I looked throught the blinds into a sort of living room. Bette Midler was asleep on a sofa.

And then I woke up. The first thing that crossed my mind was to wonder whether I was drinking too much or perhaps not enough.

So what provoked this apparent outburst of subconscious metrosexuality? I haven't the remotest idea. The only thing I can figure is that last evening between innings of the Nats game I happened to flip on PBS and came across some cartoon featuring an animated Click and Clack, which I watched for about five horrified minutes. Perhaps the exposure to NPR set it off.

Posted by Robert at 01:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Snowman - R.I.P.

Tony Snow, pundit and former White House Press Secretary, died last night after a long bought with colon cancer.


He was 53.

Prayers for his wife Jill and their three kids.

Posted by Gary at 09:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 11, 2008

Gratuitous Nats Posting


Nice to see the Nats get a "laffer" tonight, as they rout the Astros 10-0. Two pitchers only, and the rook reliever gets his first save.

The psychological impact of such a lop-sided night among the players, the fans, the announcers and, I hope, the 8,999 other teevee viewers, especially at this point in a dismal season, is down-rght palpable. I hope that the team can put this unexpected nifty-gifty to good use.

Oh, and I established this evening that not only does the eldest Llama-ette continue to think of Dmitri Young as a "big ol' teddybear", the Missus apparently thinks that outfielder Austin Kearns - who got his first homer since coming back from the DL - is pretty hot.

I shrug You know, if it wins games then so be it.

Let's Go, Nats!

Posted by Robert at 09:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

221B Baker Street Isn't Big Enough For The Two Of Us


Yikes! According to the Beeb, Robert Downey Jr. is set to be cast in the role of Sherlock Holmes in a new moovie. Not only that, he's going to be going up against Sacha Baron Cohen, who is also playing Holmes in another movie being released by another production company.

If I had to make a choice, I'd go with Cohen as my pick at this point. Why? Because in the Downey version, the role of Dr. Watson will be played by - are you sitting down? - Will Ferrell, which IMHO is just plain wrong on so many levels.

Of course, neither one of these two Hollywood puppies could possibly hold a candle to the late, great Jeremy Brett:


Surely the finest Holmes ever to don a deerstalker in front of the cameras.

Yips! from Gary:
Actually, Robbo, you read that one wrong: "The Columbia Pictures film, meanwhile, also has Will Ferrell on board as Holmes' sidekick Dr Watson." That's the Judd Apatow film. Downey, Jr.'s is the Warner Bros. version. The way I read it, the Cohen-Ferrell version is supposed to be the "funny" one.

Personally, I'll take the RDJ film as I have yet to see him in suck in any movie - even if the movie itself sucked.

Posted by Robert at 03:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda

Well, I suppose this is good news:

Parents should not worry when their pre-schoolers talk to themselves; in fact, they should encourage it, says Adam Winsler, an associate professor of psychology at George Mason University. His recent study published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly showed that 5-year-olds do better on motor tasks when they talk to themselves out loud (either spontaneously or when told to do so by an adult) than when they are silent.

"Young children often talk to themselves as they go about their daily activities, and parents and teachers shouldn’t think of this as weird or bad," says Winsler. "On the contrary, they should listen to the private speech of kids. It's a fantastic window into the minds of children."

In the study, "'Should I let them talk?': Private speech and task performance among preschool children with and without behavior problems," 78 percent of the children performed either the same or better on the performance task when speaking to themselves than when they were silent.

All three of the Llama-ettes fall pretty squarely into the auto-Chatty Cathy column, although I am thinking in particular of the six year old, who, as God is my witness, has never stopped talking since the day she was born.

On the plus side, if this study is to be believed, it's good for 'em. On the minus, Orgle Manor tends to be an extremely noisy place.

Yips! to Dean.

Posted by Robert at 09:45 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Moo-Knew Boo Hoo

Are you guys having trouble getting Llama Central clearly? I've pretty much lost the right hand column for about the past week and now the left hand one is going, too.

I haven't the faintest idea what is happening or why, but my apologies anyway.

Posted by Robert at 09:24 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Literary Trivia Geekery Posting

My email quote-of-the-day guy today serves up a little something I thought worth passing on:

If any word or expression is of such a nature that the first impression it excites is an impression of obscenity, that word ought not to be spoken nor written or print-ed; and if printed, it ought to be erased.

- Dr. Thomas Bowdler
(The Family Shakespeare, Preface)

THE FAMILY SHAKESPEARE, in ten volumes; in which nothing is added to the original text; but those words and expressions are omitted which cannot with
propriety be read aloud in a family.

- Ibid., title page

Today is the 254th anniversary of the birth of English physician, philanthropist, and man of letters, Dr. Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825) near Bath. Bowdler is remembered primarily for his heavily expurgated edition of Shakespeare's plays, The Family Shakespeare (1807), which sought to preserve the Bard's "beauties" while banishing the "blemishes" supposedly introduced to please a bawdier age. The first edition included 20 plays that were probably "cleaned up" by Bowdler's sister Harriet. Typical of the passages deleted is this somewhat off-color banter in the 3rd act of Othello, a double entendre that many readers today may not even "get":

"CLOWN: Are these I pray, call'd wind instruments?

BOY: I marry they are, Sir.

CLOWN: O, thereby hangs a tail.

BOY: Whereby hangs a tail, Sir?

CLOWN: Marry sir, by many a wind instrument that I know."

Although many recent critics acknowledge that Thomas and Harriet Bowdler probably did much more good than harm by introducing the works of Shakespeare to a broad, middle-class readership, the two have subsequently been rewarded for their pains by the widespread adoption of the pejorative verb "bowdlerize," meaning to prudishly expurgate a literary work. As the great French author Stendhal (1783-1842) once observed,

"Prudery is a form of avarice, the worst of all."

Posted by Robert at 09:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Random Commuter Observation

The International Spy Museum is the latest outfit to plaster extremely annoying ads all over the metro stations in Dee Cee.

"Okay, Tom," you're warily saying to your collective selves, "We'll bite. What's wrong this time?"

Well, I'll tell you.

In what I can only suppose to be an effort to make itself more friendly to the many-headed, the ISM chooses to refer to its collection in these posters as its "stuff". Por ejemplo, one of the ads reads, "Other museums' collections are donated. Most of our stuff is stolen." Another one reads, "Don't know much about this stuff? Neither do most Presidents."

And so on.

I'm sorry, but this use of the word "stuff" to bolster market appeal irks me more and more every time I see it. And it only enforces my general impression that the Spy Museum is about on the same level of cheap, tawdry, pop-cultchah shallowness as, say, McDonald's or USA Today. Not that I was ever planning to set foot in it anyway.

Of course, now that I've posted this rant, no doubt the ISM will send its goons out to eliminate me. If Steve-O or the LMC report that I suddenly died in a freak accident involving the Goodyear Blimp, a plate of Hamburger Helper and a bathtub full of piranhas, you'll know the real backstory.

Posted by Robert at 08:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

It won't be the same without Rachel Weisz

The trailer for the latest installment in the "Mummy" franchise: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor:

But here is Rachel anyway:

Flixster - Share Movies

Posted by LMC at 06:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 10, 2008

I am not sure I want to believe

The new X-Files movie trailer:

Courtesy of those fine folks at YouTube

Posted by LMC at 09:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The "Wilhelm Scream" - A Tribute

Not as well known as the Howard Dean scream but I guaranty everyone reading this has heard the "Wilhelm" at least a handful of times. It's a standard sound effect used in movies for over fifty years.

George Lucas put it in every one of the Star Wars movies. And now that he's finally created what he's always wanted - a Star Wars movie without actors - I'm sure it'll show up in that one too.

It's almost like a running gag to "spot the Wilhelm" in any movie that involves throwing a stunt man off a cliff, balcony or other long drop.

Some guys put together almost four minutes of clips from dozens of films.

So sit back, and enjoy:

Hat Tip to Dirty Harry!

Posted by Gary at 07:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Office Etiquette Grumbling

You know those handicapped-access buttons that automatically open doors and hold them open? When I become Emperor of the World, anyone caught using said button on the door to the men's room who isn't actually handicapped himself will be subject to public flogging.

That is all.

Posted by Robert at 11:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Nats Posting


Our Maximum Leader put me on to this jaw-dropping article in the WaPo by Thomas Boswell:

Of all the stunning and unexpected sports statistics that we will ever see, few take the breath away more quickly than the assertion on Monday, in Nielsen Media Research data published by SportsBusiness Journal, that only 9,000 household TV sets, out of a metropolitan area of 5.5 million people, are tuned to the average Nationals game.

"Nine thousand?" said an incredulous Manny Acta, eyebrows arched. "Is that possible?"

That's the universal reaction. From the Nats up to Commissioner Bud Selig, that raw number, a minuscule 0.39 average rating, got reactions from skepticism to shock to concern.

Do the Nats really have so few devoted fans? Or is this a one-summer exodus because so many Nats players have been hurt? Did Peter Angelos, who pays the Nats about $25 million a year for their local TV rights, actually get the short end of what was originally considered a sweetheart deal? Is his MASN so inept that in Washington, and in Baltimore, too, its ability to penetrate the local TV market is at the bottom of baseball?

Read the rest. Among other things, the article notes that actual attendance at Nationals Park is quite respectable, especially given the string of crushing injuries and the resulting appalling record the team has been dealing with this year.

It's truly mind-boggling to think that there are only 8,999 other households with their tee vee sets tuned to MASN in the market. At Orgle Manor, we have watched quite a few ball games this year. Indeed, I cannot remember having ever watched so much baseball in my life. And as it happens, as the eldest Llama-ette and I watched the Nats break a six-game losing streak with an exciting 5-0 shutout of the D-Backs last evening, I started bloviating about the importance (and joy) of sticking with the team in these hard times and being patient for future success.

To the extent these Nielson figgahs aren't some kind of horrid statistical fluke, I hope everyone else connected with or supporting the franchise keeps that same spirit in mind.

Posted by Robert at 09:47 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 09, 2008

This is big

Admiral Mike Mullen walking in the Sadr City section of Baghdad. This is huge because Sadr City was dangerous as hell when I was in town and a place to avoid at all cost. The idea that the CJCS could walk there a little over six months after my team left is amazing.

Via Hot Air and the fine folks at Fox.

Posted by LMC at 08:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where's PETA When You Really Need Them?

I would imagine that being a cow is a pretty dead-end proposition to begin with. But now scientists in Argentina are heaping insult upon injury by collecting Bossie's farts:


Experts said the slow digestive system of cows makes them a key producer of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that gets far less public attention than carbon dioxide.

In a bid to understand the impact of the wind produced by cows on global warming, scientists collected gas from their stomachs in plastic tanks attached to their backs.

The Argentine researchers discovered methane from cows accounts for more than 30 per cent of the country's total greenhouse emissions.

How the, ah, collection tube is connected to the, ah, source, I really don't want to know. By the look on the poor girl's face, I should say it isn't terribly comfortable.

BTW, shouldn't that tank have large No Smoking! signs plastered all over it? I should think that a single spark near a giant tank of cow toots and we're talking a hamburger blast perimeter of a couple hundred yards anyway.

Posted by Robert at 12:48 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

So Close, I'm Beginning To Smell The Tidal Wrack


A month from today I will be puting my hooves up on the deck rail of the Llama cottage in Maine, adult beverage in hand, and staring idly at the lobster boats working their way across the bay below. Mayun am I ready for a break this year.

This reminds me of a bleg for you: I am looting bringing home some of Dad's old effects this year. We won't have enough room in the car for the Llama-ettes plus everything we take up with us plus everything we bring back. My suggestion that we simply leave one or more the of Llama-ettes until we feel like retrieving them has been kyboshed by Mom (who would have to deal with them), so I have been forced to fall back on the idea of either buying or renting some kind of exterior luggage thingy to strap onto the top or back of the ol' Llama Cherokee. Any suggestions about what works best and where to get it? I saw a streamlined U-haul mini-trailer for the first time the other day that looked like a distinct possibility, but I don't want to have to mess about with hitches n' stuff if I don't have to.

Posted by Robert at 10:31 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

"Bound For South Australia"***

Here's a neat-o little map tool for figuring out where you would emerge on the other side of the Earth, had you the time on your hands to dig a tunnel straight through.

I'd come out in the southeastern Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia.

Yips! to Gail at Scribal Terror.

***Okay, maybe not quite geographically accurate, but close enough. This is a song the eldest Llama-ette learned at school several years ago that has stuck with me since. Here are the lyrics:

In South Australia I was born
Heave away. Haul away!
South Australia round Cape Horn
And we're bound for South Australia

Haul away you rolling king
Heave away! Haul away!
All the way you'll hear me sing
And we're bound for South Australia

As I walked out one morning fair
Heave away! Haul away!
It's there I met Miss Nancy Blair
And we're bound for South Australia

There ain't but one thing grieves my mind
Heave away! Haul away!
It's to leave Miss Nancy Blair behind
And we're bound for South Australia

I run her all night I run her all day
Heave away! Haul away!
Run her before we sailed away
And we're bound for South Australia

I shook her up I shook her down
Heave away! Haul away!
I shook her round and round and round
And we're bound for South Australia

And as you wollop round Cape Horn
Heave away! Haul away!
You'll wish that you had never been born
And we're bound for South Australia

I wish I was on Australia's strand
Heave away! Haul away!
With a bottle of whiskey in my hand
And we're bound for South Australia

In South Australia my native land
Heave away! Haul away!
Full of rocks, and fleas, and thieves, and sand
And we're bound for South Australia!

Posted by Robert at 10:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous "Dang, What A Shame" Movie Observation


Ya know, I really really wanted Hancock to be a good movie. It's Will Smith and Jason Bateman, fer chrissakes! What's not to love?

Unfortunately, just about every single review I've read so far has panned the durn thing, some regretfully, some maliciously. I won't bother seeing it in a theatre now, although I still probably will toss it in the ol' Netflix queue in time.

Anybody out there seen it yet?

Posted by Robert at 09:49 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Regular reader (and offline friend) PnutQueen sends in this vintage piece of Buckleyism that she discovered whilst rooting about in an old recipe box:


by William F. Buckley Jr.

As a Catholic, I have abandoned hope for the liturgy, which, in the typical
American church, is as ugly and as maladroit as if it had been composed by Robert Ingersoll and H. L. Mencken for the purpose of driving people away. Incidentally, the modern liturgists are doing a remarkably good job, attendance at Catholic mass on Sunday having dropped sharply in the ten years since a few well-meaning cretins got hold of the power to vernacularize the mass, and the money to scour the earth in search of the most unmusical men and women to preside over the translation.

The next liturgical ceremony conducted primarily for my benefit, since I
have no plans to be beatified or remarried, will be my funeral, and it is a source of great consolation to me that, at my funeral, I shall be quite dead, and will not need to listen to the accepted replacement for the noble old Latin liturgy. Meanwhile, I am practicing Yoga so that, at church on Sundays I can develop the power to tune out everything I hear, while attempting, athwart the general calisthenics, to commune with my Maker, and ask Him first to forgive me my own sins, and implore him, second, not to forgive the people who ruined the mass.

Now the poor Anglicans are coming in for it. I am not familiar with their
service, but I am with their Book of Common Prayer. To be unfamiliar with it is
as though one were unfamiliar with Hamlet, or the Iliad, or the Divine Comedy. It has, of course, theological significance for Episcopalians and their fellow travelers. But it has a cultural significance for the entire English-speaking world. It was brought together, for the most part, about 400 years ago, when for reasons no one has been able to explain, the little island of England produced the greatest literature in history. G. K. Chesterton wrote about it, "It is the one positive possession, and attraction ... the masterpiece of Protestantism; the one magnet and talisman for people even outside the Anglican church, as are the great Gothic cathedrals for people outside the Catholic Church."

What are they doing to it? Well, there is one of those commissions. It is
sort of re-translating it. As it now stands, for instance, there are the lines,"We
have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed to much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done."

That kind of thing noble, cadenced, pure as the psalmist's water becomes,
"We have not loved you [get that: you, not thee. Next time around, one supposes it will be "We haven't loved you, man"] with our whole heart, we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves." "Lead us not into temptation" becomes "Do not bring us to the test."

Well, if the good Lord intends not to bring his Anglican flock into the test,
he will not test it on this kind of stuff. As it is, Anglicanism is a little shaky,
having experienced about a hundred years earlier than Roman Catholicism some of the same kind of difficulties. I revere my Anglican friends, and highly respect their religion, but it is true that it lends itself to such a pasquinade as Auberon Waugh's, who wrote recently, "In England we have a curious institution called the Church of England. Its strength as always lain in the fact that on any moral or political issue it can produce such a wide divergence of opinion that nobody from the Pope to Mao Tse-tung can say with any confidence that he is not an Anglican. Its weaknesses are that nobody pays much attention to it and very few people attend its functions."

And it is true that in a pathetic attempt to attract attention, the Anglicans,
and indeed many other Protestants, and many Catholics, absorb themselves in
secular matters. "The first Anglicans," Chesterton once wrote, "asked for peace and happiness, truth and justice; but nothing can stop the latest Anglicans, and many others, from the horrid habit of asking for improvement in international relations." International relations having taken a noticeable turn for the worse in the generation since Chesterton made this observation, once can only hope the Anglicans will reject any further attempt to vitiate their line of communication with our Maker.

I would guess that this column was written some time in the mid-70's, given that the current version of the BCP dates from 1979. It strikes me more as a general broadside against liturgical modernism than as an attack on any particular denomination. In subsequent years, the Vatican seems to have begun to get the message. Will anybody else?

Posted by Robert at 09:31 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous French & Indian War Geekery Posting


Today is the anniversary of the Battle of the Monongahela in 1755, in which a British column of about 1500 troops under the command of General Edward Braddock (assisted by, among others, a young Virginia Militia Colonel by the name of George Washington), was ambushed and mauled by a combination of about 600 Indians of various tribes and a smattering of Frenchmen under the command of M. Langlade, M. de Beaujeu and M. Dumas, as it made an attempt to take Fort Duquesne (later Pittsburgh).

The British force, marching as a compact body, stumbled into a great horseshoe-shaped ring of Indians who, firing from behind the trees, threw the Brits into panicked confusion. About two thirds of the British forces were killed or wounded, including Gen. Braddock, who was shot through the lungs. The story goes that when Braddock was buried during the hasty retreat, wagons were driven over the site in order to erase all traces of his grave and prevent the Indians from digging it up and claiming his scalp.

The result of the battle was an unmitigated disaster for the English colonies, as it sparked full-scale attacks on all the western parts of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. I forget where I read it, but I have a vivid recollection of one colonist's account of being able to look all around the western horizon and see columns of smoke rising up from devasted homesteads. I've always found that image to be extremely chilling.

Posted by Robert at 09:01 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Can You Yip! Me Now?

Yes, Robbo has finally been dragged into the late 20th Century by the presentation to him yesterday of his very own (first) cellphone by the Missus.

Of course, I never bother to answer the phone when home at Orgle Manor. Why would the Missus (or anybody else) believe me more likely to answer my cell?

Silly Missus!

Posted by Robert at 08:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2008

Things That Make You Go "Good God!"

(Image found here.)

The Llama-ettes got one of these Heath Ledger/Joker figgahs in a box of cereal recently (Reece's Puffs, I believe).

Are the powers behind the upcoming Dark Knight movie really trying to portray it as a film suitable for kiddies? I'm sorry, but that's just sick.

(Incidentally, it may be dangerously close to Ned Flanders territory and is, perhaps, the result of too much Bible-thumper camp, but I couldn't help noticing the eight year old Llama-ette playing with the Joker toy and a Grady Sizemore teddy bear this evening: In her play, the latter was baptising the former. Yikes.)

Posted by Robert at 10:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Light Fuse, Stand Back

I wasn't going to say anything about the C of E's decision yesterday to allow female bishops, but the Missus recommended that I check out CNN's story on the matter. I did. And I feel I need to say something after all.

I'll skip all the mechanical graphs. Let's go, as the kids say, to the money quotes:

The theological debate over female bishops has centered on the question "What would Jesus do?"

Sigh... No, guys, there is no debate about that. What Jesus did is spelled out pretty clearly. What you mean is "What would we do if we were in Jesus' place? (Knowing, as we do, so much more about the way the world ought to work.)"

The traditionalists argued that bishops must be men, as were Jesus and his apostles.

Well, now. Why were all of Jesus' apostles men? Frankly, I dunno. And neither do you. Nor does anybody else. But there it is. But again, this gets back to the difference between "What Did Jesus Do?" and "What Do We Think Jesus Ought To Have Done?" And, of course, the traditionalist argument is actually based on the humility of recognizing that we have no business substituting our own judgment for His.

Retired Canon Alan Duke, a longtime supporter of women in church leadership posts, said those arguments "simply do not stack up."

Oh, I dunno. And note that "women in church leadership posts" language. Heck, I attend an extremely orthodox R.C. church and there are womens all over the place there, doing the Lawd's work in all kinds of ways. Much more, I would suspect, than most people who bloviate about "supporting women in church leadership posts".

Duke said that while Jesus named no female disciples, he used and valued woman in radical and different ways for his time.

Well, yeah.....And even a superficial understanding of the Gospels (such as, for example, mine) reveals that Jesus specialized in upsetting all kinds of accepted social conventions, not just with regard to sex, but also concerning birth, tribe, social standing, occupation and a whole host of other factors. But surely that argues against Jesus feeling compelled to stick to some particular contemporary social standard?

"He was hardly going to choose women and send them into a situation where they might have been in grave risk," Duke said.

Oh, so it was okay for Jesus to send Peter and the other Disciples into all kinds of hideous dangers at the hands of the Romans, the Jews and other hostile groups.....just because they were Men? Why, that Jesus fellah couldn't have been anything more than a sexist, chauvenist pig! Oh. Wait. Hang on......

Okay, let's get to what this is really all about......

Christina Rees, with the pro-women lobby Women and the Church, described what was at stake as "an acceptance by the Church of England of women on equal terms as men in the ordained ministries."

Bingo. This hasn't anything to do with theology, liturgy or the religious standards and practices derived therefrom. Instead, it has everything to do with modern social politics. As I said above, it is not a question of "What Would Jesus Do?" Instead, it is a question of "What Would We Do In Jesus' Place?" And even to my imperfect understanding of Faith, that is a very naughty question, indeed.

Posted by Robert at 10:04 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Summer Reading Book Review


Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor by Anthony Everitt.

A couple years back, I enjoyed reading Everitt's biography of Cicero, so I was quite eager to delve into his treatment of Augustus when I came across it.

I'm happy to say that Everitt delivers again. This is, as I said of his prior book, a very good layman's history of a fascinating subject. One thing I believe Everitt does very well is to give some sense of just how enormous an impact Augustus had on the development of Western Civilisation: Octavian (as he was formerly known) is one of those relatively scarce figures of history who had the ruthless drive to achieve ultimate power, but at the same time, once he achieved it, also had the self-discipline and vision to put such power to use for the greater good. He truly did, as he said, find Rome a city of brick and leave it a city of marble, not just physically, but metaphorically, as it were, instituting many hallmarks of social and political organization still perfectly recogizable today. Thus, I would recommend this book to any other classickal civ geeks out there.

Ah, but what is a Robbo Book Review without a quibble? Well, here's one: Having finished Everitt's book, I went back and pulled out my copy of Suetonius' The Lives of the Twelve Caesars and reread the section on Augustus. I was a bit concerned to note that Everitt relies very heavily on Suetonius' accounts of the episodes of Augustus' life, sometimes lifting passages practically verbatim. Granted that we have very few other sources, but I had always been given to understand that Suetonius was something of a gossip-monger, jotting down every rumor, tale or story about his subjects that he could find. This being the case, I feel that Everitt could perhaps have been just a leetle more distant in relating some of the incidents of Augustus' life. Not a lot, just a little.

Posted by Robert at 11:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Domestic Posting - Outdoor Division

For whatever reason, Moo-Gnu is publishing uploads again. Therefore, I give you a little taste of Robbo's garden:


As you can see, I go for the informal, hodge-podged, English style. That's oregano in front, which no power on earth is ever going to be able to remove. If you look closely, you can just make out a few orange cosmos starting to come out between the brown-eyed susans and the coneflowers, plus some purple-ish phlox down low. As you can also see, I need to dead-head the clematis on the fence rayther badly and also to take the clippers to the forsythia in the back.

Granted, it isn't professional grade, but as the result of the few moments I manage to snatch here and there to take care of it (plus, it must be emphasized, the abundance of rain we've had this year around Dee Cee), I may say that I don't think it too terribly shabby. Lately, I've been strolling out in the evening just to hang over the gate and soak it all in. This makes me quite happy which, in the end, is what counts.

Posted by Robert at 11:06 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 06, 2008

Gratuitous Road Not Taken Observation

The Missus and the middle Llama-ette were presented with a last-minute opportunity to go see The Lion King at the Kennedy Center this evening.

Me? After dinner, the eldest and youngest Llama-ettes and I picked a bowl full of blueberries and raspberries, then ate them with vanilla ice cream out on the porch as we watched a thunderstorm roll in. After I got the gels to bed, I settled down and watched the first three episodes of I, Claudius from Netflix.

All in all, although I of course hope the Missus and the middle gel had a delightful evening, I'm pretty sure I got the better end of the deal.

Posted by Robert at 10:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Absolve Me, Pater, Quia Peccavi

Having much on my mind the other day, I got into the 15 items or less [sic] line at the local grocery store without having closely counted, only to realize when it was far too late that I was carrying...... 19 items.

What is worse, I only fully came to this realization when I heard the mousy cashier apologizing to the woman behind me as I left and the woman, in turn, muttering under her breath about people who can't count.

By that point, feeling that it was useless to either a) offer to put something back or b) plead that there was no malum intended in my breach of soopermarket etiquette, I simply grabbed my bags and scarpered.

I have been feeling riddled with guilt ever since.

Posted by Robert at 04:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Because We All Remember How Well It Worked Last Time

Sen. John Warner wants to bring back the national speed limit from the glory days of the 70's, apparently because he figures drivers are too stoopid to be allowed to make decisions about speed vs. fuel cost their own dumb selfs:

Is it time to return to the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit?

Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia is suggesting a national speed limit to save on gas, although he's not pushing a particular speed. Warner does cite studies that a 55 mile-per-hour limit would save two percent of highway fuel consumption a day. He's urging the Energy Department to determine the optimal speed.

The Energy Department's Web site says fuel efficiency drops sharply above 60 miles-per-hour. Warner says every five miles per hour above that costs drivers roughly the equivalent of paying 30 cents a gallon more at the pump.

A national speed limit has been tried before, starting in 1974, but was dropped in 1995 when crude oil fell to $17 a barrel and gasoline cost $1.10 a gallon.

I've always followed a rule of thumb of not trusting the political instincts of anybody ever married to Liz Taylor. Glad to know that ol' JW is going to hang it up soon.

Posted by Robert at 02:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 05, 2008

LMC summer reading

Why Courage Matters: the Way to a Braver Life, by John MCain; 15 Stars, Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Marshall: Three Generals who Saved the American Century, by Stanley Weintraub; and Supreme Command, by Eliot Cohen.

Posted by LMC at 04:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Writing report cards in the Middle East

My boss in Iraq evaluated the men under his command using two rules. The first, "get rid of the non-performers". If you did your job, you would get at least an average report. The second was simply: "if I am wounded and down on the battlefield, will this man risk his life to save mine?" This was what he used identify the truly exceptional.

Posted by LMC at 04:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Observation: Domestic Entertainment Division

All I can say is that I hope whoever it was who came up with the idea of incorporating a "High School Musical" singalong game into the Wii system finds him- or herself spending eternity forced to play it.

That is all.

Posted by Robert at 03:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Not For Lack Of Trying

I actually got my llazy llama backside out to snap some pics of the garden this afternoon. I'd have posted one for you, but for reasons known only to itself, Moo Knew is not accepting uploads. Go figure.

Anyhoo, I'll keep at it. Watch this space to see if I succeed.

Posted by Robert at 03:14 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 04, 2008

Stars and Stripes Forever

performed by the Boston Pops:

Posted by LMC at 01:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jesse Helms, R.I.P.

AP reports that "Uncle Jesse" threw in the towel on the Fourth of July. He never won by much and the margin of victory was provided by "Jessecrats"-conservative, yellow-dog Democrats who voted for Helms because of his social views and his stands on taxes, national defense, and Commies.

Posted by LMC at 01:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 03, 2008

Brideshead Vandalized

Jonathan Last on the "new and improved" version of Brideshead Revisited set to open in theatres later this summer:

Yes, the new Brideshead features a villain--Lady Marchmain. Instead of a pious, if clumsy, near-saint, Lady Marchmain is now ambitious and manipulative. "I hope you didn't let Julia mislead you," she sternly warns Charles. "Her future is not a question of choice." The future she seems to be alluding to is a marriage of power and wealth to a man of consequence. A moment later, we see Lady Marchmain at a large gala where she announces, "It gives me great pleasure to announce the engagement of my eldest daughter, Lady Julia Flyte, to Mister Rex Mottram." Waugh's Lady Marchmain never has plans for Julia's future--the Marchmains' situation is above either financial or social improvement. And when Julia becomes engaged to the decidedly non-Catholic Rex, Lady Marchmain is given the very opposite of pleasure.

The bizarre reimagining of Lady Marchmain seems to be a result of the excision of Catholicism from the new Brideshead. The screenplay reportedly stays away from matters of the church and the trailer makes but one allusion to it, showing a rosary falling from someone's hand. And, if there is none of that fussy Catholic stuff in the new Brideshead story, then the pious Lady Marchmain might reasonably be seen as a heel. As her younger daughter Cordelia observes in the novel, "When people wanted to hate God, they hated Mummy." Take away God, and Lady Marchmain may be little more than a controlling shrew.

The rest of the movie's marketing is of a piece with the trailer. The squib on the theatrical poster declares, "Privilege. Ambition. Desire. At Brideshead everything comes at a price." Another slogan claims that "Love is not ours to control." The entire affair comes across more like a prequel to Cruel Intentions than an adaptation of Waugh's masterpiece.

Ugh. Safe to say I'm not going near the beastly thing.

Posted by Robert at 12:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Things That Make You Go "D'OH!!"

Self to the Missus on the phone just now: "Whaddaya mean, you let [the six year old] take the digital camera to camp with her today?"

My garden is just heading into high gear. I was going to post some pics of it soon.

Maybe not, now.

Posted by Robert at 09:01 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Travel Notes - II

I see that in my absence, the LMC has been jerking my chain about my abject fear of flying.

Ahem. Let me just illustrate here why just because you're phobic, that doesn't mean you don't have anything to be afraid of:

Regular readers will recall that for the last couple weeks I've been ranting about a particularly nasty landing I had at National Airport recently. In my last post about it, I blamed a Continental pilot named Max, a Frenchman.

Well, we've been back and forth on our particular route so often lately that we've taken to recognizing some of the stewardesses on the flight. As it happens, this week we had the same one who was on that bad flight and my colleague got the low-down on what really happened.

As it turns out, Frenchman Max was not at the helm when the plane landed. Instead, it was his co-pilot, a kid just out of training. As I reported back then, the Kid made a complete cock-up of the landing, hitting hard on one wheel and almost scraping the runway with his wingtip. Our stewardess friend recalled the flight vividly, stating quite candidly that she thought we were gonners herself.

Apparently as a result of this little mishap, Max got in trouble for improper supervision and the Kid got sent back to remedial training.

So, there. You see? I'm a-gonna go right on clutching the armrests with claws of death and muttering repeated "Hail, Mary"'s under my breath.

Posted by Robert at 08:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gratuitous Llama Travel Notes - I

Yes, nothing says "Welcome Home!" after a week on the road like having your cab break down about 300 yards short of your house, causing you to have to hoof it the rest of the way, hauling a large suitcase, a briefcase and a laptop. Up hill. Barefoot. In the snow. After having milked 100 cows.

Well, okay, maybe not barefoot.

Posted by Robert at 07:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Today's required reading . . .

is here.

Posted by LMC at 06:29 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Without commercial interruption-

The Independence Day ID4 trailer:

Posted by LMC at 06:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 02, 2008

'Bout Time

Starbucks to close several hundred stores. Via Drudge.

There are at least five Starbucks shops within a two-mile radius of my office and I have long wondered how they make money so close together.

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

Today's reading

Kathleen Parker at NRO on Clark's remarks about McCain.

Posted by LMC at 06:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 01, 2008

Let's hope Robbo keeps it together on the plane

or else this might be his fate:

H/T to Mrs. LMC, the Final Authority on All Matters Concerning Popular Culture at Fort LMC.

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

Today's Long Distance Birthday Dedication

goes out to Liv Tyler because today is her day according to the local fishwrapper:

Flixster - Share Movies
Posted by LMC at 06:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Steel Robbo's LLama heart

Once again, for Robbo since we all know how much he likes to fly:

Posted by LMC at 06:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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