Sunday, May 30, 2004

Friday, er Sunday Filler

Too exhausted by the weight of the WaPo's attacks against Dubya this morning to comment on them. Instead, while waiting around for the dew to burn off so I can mow the lawn, I came across this little exercise courtesy of John over at TexasBestGrok:


First job: Medical lab in San Antonio. I had my own white coat and radiation badge and thought I was pretty cool.

First self-purchased CD: I had a huge cassette collection in college/law school and didn't start buying CDs until relatively late. So far as I can remember, my first was Handel's Water Music. I still don't have half as many CDs as I did cassettes. (My first self-purchased cassette was of Mozart's four Horn Concerti.)

First piercing/tattoo: Me? Are you kidding?

First enemy: Well, that's tough to say. I do remember that in 7th grade some kid whose name now escapes me decided to try and bully me while we were waiting for the bus home. (I was rather chubby and wore glasses, so I guess I seemed an easy mark.) Anyway, when he went for me I astounded myself, him and half the school population by swinging back. I managed to get in several solid hits before a teacher eventually pulled us apart and marched us off to the vice principal's office. As this was South Texas in the mid 70's I wound up getting paddled for it. (Although in a nudge and a wink that I had done the right thing, the VP only gave me one smack while the other kid got six.)


Last big car ride: DC to Orr's Island, Maine and back. Annual vacation trip.

Last kiss: Just now - my four year old is hovering around as I write this.

Last library book checked out: It must have been in college. In the spring of my senior year I took seminars on Gothic cathedral architecture and medieval technology, both courses that involved library research.

Last movie seen: In a theatre, Love, Actually. To think I wasted money on that.... On pay-per-view, saw Matrix Revolutions the other night. Glad I got the $2.99 special, because I would have been upset had I paid full price for this dog. On television, watched For A Few Dollars More last night. Last DVD I popped in was The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which has always delighted me.

Last beverage consumed: Coffee. Still working on it.

Last food consumed: English muffins with peanut butter.

Last phone call: Don't remember.

Last CD played: Schubert's Symphony No. 9, Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic.

Last annoyance: The kids are bouncing off the walls this morning.

Last pop consumed: Whoever originated this list evidently came from Ohio. 'Round here, it's all known as "Coke". And I haven't had any in years. Don't like the stuff.

Last ice cream eaten: Can't remember. I have no sweet-tooth whatsoever, so very, very rarely eat desserts.

Last shirt worn: George Washington University crew betting shirt (picked up at the Dad Vails Regatta in Philadelphia in 1986).


I AM: Very tired.

I HAVE: Too much time and too little to do. Wait. Strike that. Reverse it.

I WISH: I could reverse it.

I HEAR: The ritual Search For The Lost Binky going on downstairs.

I SEARCH: For the binky if they haven't found it by the time I'm done with this. Oh - never mind.

I REGRET: Not that much, really. Which is surprising.

I LOVE: Well, the Butcher's Wife and the Llama-ettes, of course.

I ALWAYS: Worry. This is why I'm so thin.


NUMBER: Nine and twelve. And their multiples. Don't ask - I don't know why.

COLOR: Navy blue.

DAY: Unlike Arthur Dent, I've always liked Thursdays.

MONTH: October/November

SONG(S): Geesh - way too many to choose from. One that's been stuck in my mind the past few days is Cole Porter's "Too Darn Hot".


DRINK: French or Italian red wine. Vodka martinis.

Friday, May 28, 2004

An ethical dilemma....

I need your help here: I came across this picture (where else?) from a link via Dominius Instapunditium. You know me, I like to pshop somewhat, er, outrageously, but I've got an ethical dilemma and I need some guidance from you the loyal readership.

Here's the picture in its original glory:

al gore mouth opeb.jpeg

Okay, it should be obvious: all you need is a picture of Osama from (how do I put this delicately? ah yes) behind. Now, I know what Allahpundit would do (blessed be his holy name)--the question is, should I cross the pshop Rubicon on this one?

Llama Quickie

Just poking my head into the shop for a moment this morning - I'm off in a bit to partake in Sports Day at the girls' school. I am Team Leader for my six year old's team. (We're the Lobster A Team, in case you're interested. And Ah pity da fool who jokes about melted butter and lemon!)

Anyhoo, probably not much chance to post until later on this evening. In the meantime, two things:

First, I'm very glad to see that Steve-O Is In The House. Something tells me he is going to hit new heights with the materials he collected in Frog-Land. And why not? It's not as if they're ever going to let him back in anyway. Stand by for some super-sized treats!

Second, to pick up on a theme I've been playing with all week, let me quote to you Stephen Hunter's description of Roland Emmerich, director of the hilariously bad Day After Tomorrow, from today's Pravda on the Potomac:

He's crude, stupid, slick, cornball, predictable, laughable, relentless, trivial and, the sum of all these, ridiculous. He's never made a movie you could believe and he still hasn't.

Heh, indeed.

Yip at you later!

The sacrifices I'm willing to make to bring you the Tasty Bits (TM)

Well, I'm back from my trip even more frightening than Dante's midlife night-time journey into Hell: yes, a llamabutcher loose for a week in Paris.

This is just a tease, though: I've got to unpack and get my head straight and such, so I won't be able to start posting until later, but boy do I have the beaucoup bits for vous! Some previews: blowing the lid off all the gaullic-evil that is Frank J. and imao.us (we've got the pics to prove it!); Steve the Llamabutcher out and about in his "CIA" baseball hat confronts a protest parade of cheese-eating moonbats (let's just say I've got to go on babelfish to find out what the French word is for "bong-mobile"--trust me on this one); my description of what I'd do if I ever won Powerball (let's just say it would involve Pep & Liz from Truly Bad Films and a cafe to be renamed "Chez Nixon"); a little photo-essay involving me getting kicked out of the viewer's area of a military ceremony at Les Invalides by a seriously pissed off French policeman (I'm christening it the new "What Would Blackfive Do?" category); and a quasi-serious little essay on Franco-American relations---how the 9/10ths of the regular folks I met have no problem with us, but how the elites are a bunch of vicious anti-semetic America-haters and why, plus, a little pshop fun of my explanation of what keeps hommes like this dude wetting their beds at night: just call it Steve the Llamabutcher's prediction of what the Sixth Republic might look like.

All that, plus the big move over to mu.nu by the end of the weekend, plus my deranged parents are coming through town---sounds like a Memorial Day weekend to remember!

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Wee-Wee Chronicles

I find this story about life imitating art to be immensely amusing. (The lack of adequate female restrooms in public buildings is all a sexist plot, by the way. Really. I was on the Committee.)

Alas - a quick look at the website for Urinetown: The Musical leaves me puzzled whether this is supposed to be biting social commentary or just plain potty humor. At least reading the reviews definitely made me want to hurl.

Thanks very much to Outer Life, which I just noticed has blogrolled us as well.

Travels To Middle Earth

Here is a large and nifty collection of essays which, if a quick glance through the index is any indication, cover just about every aspect of Tolkien's world that you can think of. Go on over and browse. Far better than wasting your time on naaaaasty, wicked, tricksy, false moviesssssss. We hates them.

Thanks to the Silver Fox.

More On Waugh

Dr. Curmudgeon tries very hard to find some silver lining in the new remake of Brideshead Revisited that strips the novel of its Catholicism and turns religious faith into the central problem of the story:

And yet, and yet. Can we perhaps be the optimist here? It is hard. Can the movie bring a remnant few to the original book (much like myself several years back), to read those concluding lines when Charles returns to the Marchmain chapel, to see the small red flame -- a beaten-copper lamp of deplorable design, relit before the beaten-copper doors of the tabernacle; the flame which the old knights saw from their tombs, which they saw put out; that flame burns again for other soldiers, far from home, farther, in heart, than Acre or Jerusalem. It could not have been lit but for the builders and the tragedians, and there I found it this morning, burning anew among the old stones.

Perhaps that's all we can ask.

My gloomy view is don't bet on it.

HT to Enoch Soames.

Cicada Watch - Update

Since the cicada outbreak 'round here, I've said a couple times that the collective noise they generate sounds like the old Star Trek phaser effect. (See here and here.)

Well thanks to the miracle of modern technology, Michael Pollard will let you judge for yourself!

Go check it out and then answer me this - am I wrong?

I Knew It!

The other day I was ranting about the infuriating cheerfulness of clowns under even the worst of conditions. Prompted by intel that one such Uber-joy jockey that I had encountered ran an anger management seminar, I theorized that behind that excessively sunny front must lurk a dark interior, a Dorian Gray-like depository for all their uglier urges, just waiting for the closet door to burst open.

Well, our friend INDC Bill sent me this article, which would seem to confirm my theory. Whether it's smoldering rage or sick perversion, underneath the ear to ear grin, the bright makeup, the floppy clothes, the fright-wig, the inspirational buttons and the goofy balloon art beats the heart of a psychopath.

UPDATE: Link fixed. Stupid clowns - agitate me so much I can't think straight!

Gratuitous Domestic Blogging (TM) - Outdoor Division

Well, I know at least one other blogger who will be interested in this, so here goes:

As I was clearing out my raspberry brakes last fall, I discovered a peony that had been planted by the previous owner. The plant had evidently been there for several years, as it was quite large. (Why it was in the raspberries remains a mystery.) This spring, I dug it up, divided it and used the two parts to bookend my own bed of peonies on the other side of the garden gate.

Well now the thing is blooming and I have no earthly idea what it is. The bloom is a double, about three inches across, with petals that taper to a point. The petals are white at the edges, shading into pink further in. (Sorry I don't have a photo.) I'm currently scanning my catalogues trying to find a match, but have had no luck so far. Any guesses would be appreciated.

And speaking of work for the Plant-Detector Van (from the Ministry of 'ousinj - how's that for an obscure Python reference?), Lynn has been trying to identify an azalea in her domain. She has a picture and everything. Go have a look.

Random Commuter Thoughts In Which Probably Only I Am Interested

I really think John Michael Montgomery's "Letters From Home" is a nice song. The last verse always chokes me up just a bit.

Just Checking In

I'm off shortly to see my four year old's Class Day presentation, so I won't be back until some time after lunch.

In the meantime, I have to note that I finally saw the extended trailer for the end of the world flick The Day After Tomorrow. AAAAH-hahahahahaha!!!!!! Never have I seen so much silliness packed into such a small amount of film. I can't imagine what the whole thing will be like.

But it gets even better! Yes! I knew that the moonbats were making hay out of this, but did not know how far they were willing to go. Fortunately, Pep at Truly Bad Films has been doing his homework. Check out MoveOn.Org's hi-larious press release. In particular, consider the 17 year old cheerleader spirit of the thing: Hey, everybody! This is a movie about the horrors of world-wide climate disaster! AND it's a fun summer flick!

One other thing occurred to me last night: A standard moonbat line about the film is that yes, the science is a bit hyped, but that's okay because it gets people talking about global warming, which is a good thing. Well, maybe. But aren't these typically the same folks who agitate so hard to keep real images such as, oh I don't know, the World Trade Center collapsing or Nick Berg being murdered off our television screens because they might get people talking about battling Islamofascism?

Just asking.

Back later.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Llama Fun

Okay, this is how lame I can be sometimes. I'm about to head out. According to the radar, there is a big wodge of storms rolling in from the west, the direction I'm more or less heading. I don't want to have to put the sides up on my jeep.

The question: who gets to my garage first, me or the rain?

Yesterday, I beat the storm in by about 30 minutes. A couple weeks ago, I beat one in literally by 90 seconds.

This is how I amuse myself.

Just call me Lou. Lou Zer.

UPDATE: Okay, tonight it was no contest. I beat the rain by at least an hour and the storms all fizzled out before they hit. I say to Mother Nature: You got served!

Life At Ground Zero

Well, the word is out that Al Qaeda may be planning to hit us again this summer. Since I spend a substantial amount of my time half way between the White House and Capital Hill, I suppose it's fair to say that I'm in one of the areas pretty high up on the list of potential targets. (For what it's worth, I've long thought that the next hit would be the D.C. Metro. It's practically undefended and an attack would be guaranteed to produce mass slaughter and panic.)

In the end, I find that there really is not much that I can say or do about all this. My family is reasonably safe out in the Northern VA suburbs. I suppose that I run some risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time myself, but the risk isn't all that great. A conventional explosion is going to cause highly localized damage and casualties. Even chemical, biological or radioactive weapons, which are notoriously inefficient, are not going to have much more range. (Of course, if the bad guys manage to detonate a suitcase nuke on the National Mall while I'm around, then all bets are off.) At the same time, I am unaware of any distant relative who is likely to die and leave me a vast fortune any time soon, so I am more or less obligated to keep coming into town in order to earn a living. So what can I do except get on with it and play the odds? (BTW, I'm talking about surviving the initial blast here. What the long term effects would be on the area, I have no idea. By then, my family and I probably would be very far away.)

The funny thing is that I don't have anything like the sense of jittery fear I had in the three or four months after 9/11, and to a certain lesser extent when the D.C. sniper was making the rounds. Instead, I'm finding myself almost daring these people to try and pull another Madrid. Frankly, I'm angry. In the past year or so, a lot of people in this country have forgotten that we are in a world war and have drifted back into the dreamy mindset of the false peace of the 90's. Would we really be having the sort of horse's-assed political debate we're having these days if it were otherwise? At the same time, even though nobly motivated, our operations in Iraq and elsewhere have been crippled by our goal of reforming the region in as humane, respectful and painless a way as possible. We have tiptoed around what we believe to be Middle Eastern sensibilities about everything from religion to personal dignity to historical perspective. In short, if you'll pardon the archaic term, we have fought like Gentlemen.

If Al Qaeda succeeds in pulling off a spectacular attack in the United States, whether it's Sarin in the Metro, a truck bomb in Times Square or botulism at Disney World, all of this is going to change. And Al Qaeda and every one of the scum who make up its tentacles are going to rue the day they tangled with us. I think such an attack would once and for all shake us out of any remaining complaisance or hesitation and convince us once and for all of two things: that we are indeed fighting World War IV and that the only way to remake the Middle East, the seat of our enemy, is the old fashioned way - to pound it into rubble and start from scratch.

Does this mean that I want Al Qaeda to attack in order to stiffen our resolve to fight back? Of course not. Does it mean I want to be a casualty of war. Not in the least. What it means is that I'm tired of being afraid and am not going to succumb to it this time around. And if I do get torn to shreds by shrapnel, it is of some comfort to think that this time the bad guys will pay for it dearly.

UPDATE: In the end, I guess what I was trying to say is that "terror" has already lost. You may kill some of us, but you no longer are going to frighten all of us to the point where we won't hunt you down and kill you. Sucks to be you. Just so you know.

Comrade Kerry

Apparently, there is something of a stir in Right Wing circles over a recently resurfaced 1985 photo of the haughty, French-looking Massachusetts liberal, who by the way served in Vietnam, shaking hands with Danny-Boy Ortega the then-current dictator of Nicaragua. Charmingly, the meeting in Managua, in which Ortega swore to Kerry that all he wanted was to be loved, took place but five days before Ortega flew to Moscow to receive some $200 million in Soviet funding. Heh, indeed.

As it happens, I caught about five minutes of Hannity & Colmes last night. Rich Lowry, the Fearless Leader of National Review was on to talk about the photo and Alan Colmes was trying to spike him by accusing conservatives of engaging in old-fashioned Red-baiting. Lowry didn't bite. As near as I can reproduce it, the conversation went something like this:

Colmes: So is this what you're saying? That John Kerry is a Communist? That he's a Red?

Lowry: No, what I'm saying is that John Kerry is a foreign policy idiot.

Game, set and match, Lowry.

Llama Reading Recommendation

In an effort to bolster my level of computer knowledge, I recently picked up Dave Barry's 1996 book Dave Barry in Cyberspace. I have to say that this is easily the best Dave Barry book I've ever read.

In particular, I highly recommend a chapter called MsPtato and RayAdverb. It is really a short story in and of itself about a bored, frustrated suburban mom who strikes up an on-line romance. What is amazing is that it is genuinely good fiction.

Now don't get me wrong. I really like Barry's humor. But he's always been rather goofy about things. For years I have been used to reading his weekly columns about toilets ("Dave Barry" + toilet produces 8,820 Google hits), potty (2,240 hits), squirrel(s) (5,290 hits, collectively), booger(s) (3,550 hits, collectively) and names for rock bands (7,510 hits). And this book has plenty of that kind of humor in it. (Indeed, I snarfed a significant amount of Valpolicella the other evening reading his descriptions of various new emoticons.)

What is astounding about this particular story, though, is that Barry displays a capacity for serious writing. His characters, though sparsely drawn, are very real. The process by which his heroine slips from unappreciated wife and mother into unfaithful unappreciated wife and mother (at least in cyberspace) is exquisitely done. And Barry leaves the end hanging in a manner that had me squirming. It's as if a musician who for years has been doing rock riffs on his keyboard suddenly broke out in a Chopin etude. Quite the eye-opener.

So for both the sublime and the silly, I heartily recommend this book.

Random Commuter Thought In Which Only I May Be Interested

Did you know that Jeep Wrangler drivers typically wave to each other as they pass on the road? It's true. Just a friendly little lift of the hand from the steering wheel, nothing dramatic. And the really cool thing is that it is completely spontaneous. You don't get any secret instructions to do it when you buy the thing. I think this is a nifty little custom.

This got me wondering if any other similar group of drivers does the same sort of thing. (I don't count bus drivers or firemen or such who have an occupation in common.) I've never seen it, but then again it would be hard to spot if you weren't one of the drivers involved.

I thought maybe Hummer drivers might do it. But then I got thinking that the sort of guy likely to buy a Hummer is probably so insecure about his own manhood that he would be afraid any such sign given to another Hummer driver would be misinterpreted as a gay come-on.

But perhaps that's just my own bias talking.

Llama Sighting

Late start for posting today. Working at home early this morning - just not worth it trying to kick my dinosaur of a computer into gear. Then, off to my oldest's Class Day program of song and dance. (It was also her kindergarten graduation, but since she's in a Montessori program, she and the other grads were mixed in with a group of their juniors.) The punch line is that her sister's class, which is right next door, does exactly the same program tomorrow. Oh joy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

A Tiger? In Africa?

Over at Sheila's, they're batting around a story about some couple in Arkansas that just had their fifteenth child. Almost inevitably, someone in the comments brought up the "Every Sperm is Sacred" song from Monty Python's Meaning of Life.

That got me wondering: Am I the only manic Python fan who dislikes this movie? Here's what I wrote last year in an Amazon.com review:

A word of warning to Monty Python neophytes - do NOT start with this movie! Even though it has some quite amusing bits, MOL is a bitter, ugly, savage piece in comparison to Flying Circus and the earlier movies.

Throughout most of their extraordinary career, the Pythoniotes mercilessly satirized virtually everyone and everything around them, but did so with a nudge and a wink, as if they reveled in the absurdity of life. Here, they seem sick of it all - a bunch of disappointed old men - and good-humored Brit intolerance is replaced by a dismal Scandinavian ferocity. (Imagine Strindberg trying to imitate Shaw and you'll get the idea.) And unfortunately, that ferocity translates into some extremely heavy-handed humor like the Live Organ Transplant. Compare that to King Arthur hacking up the Black Knight in Holy Grail and you'll see what I mean. Twice the gore and none of the sublime silliness.

Nonetheless, for those already well-versed in Pythonalia, there are of course some good bits (but you knew that already): The Crimson Permanent Assurance, Death and the Salmon Mousse, the Tiger in Africa. And I occasionally sing the Universe Song in the shower. On the whole, though, I'd say don't bother buying this - rent it if you get the urge. And for Pete's sake, don't watch it by yourself on a rainy afternoon!

I still feel this way. And frankly, I've never really understood why the "Every Sperm" song is considered to be so funny. Like most of the rest of the movie, to me it's hammerhanded, overdone and ugly.

Just sayin'.

Toon Tunes

Now this is pretty cool: A site dedicated to classic cartoon themes. Flipping around brought to mind some rather startling memories of my own youth. Not only does this guy include "Josie and the Pussycats," he's also got "Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space"! (To think of all the brain cells I squandered watching that stuff.....)

He's also got special sections for Looney Toons, Scooby-Doo and the Flintstones. My mother says she knew I was musical when I started singing the theme of the Roadrunner Show when I was but a toddler. (The key is kind of tricky). A few years later, when I went to her and announced that the music used in the very first Roadrunner cartoons back in the late 40's was, in fact, a piece called the "Dance of the Comedians" from the opera The Bartered Bride by Smetena, she decided that I might be musical, but that I was also a serious geek.

HT to Rocket Jones - Good to have you back, Ted!

"Geeeeeet Reeeeady! The Wuuuurld's About to Eeeend!"*


I can't wait to see this thing!

*Special Llama extra credit for identifying the quote - it's from one of my favorite short stories of all times.

UPDATE: Bwaa-hahahahahahahahahahaaaaa!!!!! (Not you, Pep. I hope you feel better!)

Cicada Watch

(I meant to post this bit this morning as one of those Random Commuter Thoughts That Is Probably Of Interest Only To Me, in order to spare you later on. Sorry 'bout that.)

Many commenters over the past week or two have remarked on how the hum of all those cicadas in the distance sounds like the engine of a 60's sci-fi movie space ship. (In fact, I think it sounds like the original Star Trek phasers.)

But we've got the things hanging out right next to our bedroom window now and so hear them all night close up. At that distance, they sound more like a bunch of aliens trying to sing Harry Belefonte's "Day-O!"

Just thought you'd like to know.

"I've Got a Baaaaaad Feeling About This!"

Maybe it's just the approaching holiday and the heat that grips the Eastern U.S. Maybe it's just mental exhaustion and nature looking for a release. I dunno. But in any event, here goes another movie meme -

This time, Michele and Emily's Stand-In are both looking for Greatest Movie Lines of all time. That's a really tough one because their name is Legion. Out of hundreds of examples that sprang to mind, here is one that I've always found exceedingly droll, culled from the eminently quotable Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure:

Ted - You ditched Napoleon!? Deacon, do you realize you've stranded one of history's greatest leaders?

Deacon - He was a dick!

Okay, kids, you know what to do. And be sure to leave your answers over at the fons et origo of this meme also.

Scary Red-Staters

Okay, this is the kind of geeky post only a lawyer might find amusing, but I'm going to pass it on anyway.

I am currently reading an order from the Kansas State Corporation Commission regarding minimum requirements for telecom service providers. (Docket No. 120, 408-U, dated May 14, 1986, in case you want to look it up. It's on their website here.)

Paragraph three of the order contains a line that is supposed to say "The Commission has not, in that docket, expressly required these carriers to comply with the Standards for Billing Practices."

What it actually says is "The Commission has not, in that docket, expressly required these carriers to comply with the Standards for Killing Practices."

Dangerous place, Kansas.

Defining D.C. Deviance Down

Think you've seen it all with sleazy Inside the Beltway (heh - he said "inside the beltway") sex-blog scandals? Think that bitch Wonkette had the last word by blowing the cover (heh - he said "blowing") off of the Washingtonienne?

Well cousins, we're just getting started!

INDC Bill has the scoop on the newest D.C. Tell-All Site. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's Mister Wonkonian!

(Heh - he said "scoop".)


Great photo of graduating students at BC sleeping through Tim Russert's keynote speech. Although Drudge sees fit to plaster this all over his banner, I think it's more of a dog-bites-man story than anything else. If my own hazy memory serves, a lot of those kids sat through the ceremony with wicked, wicked hangovers.

Actually, I was quite fortunate in my selection of graduation speakers. In college, it was Bill Cosby, one of whose daughters was in my class. He gave a typical Cos you-kids-think-you-are-IT stand-up which was quite entertaining, especially as it offended some of the more self-important types in our class. And when he presented my diploma, he shook hands and said, "Alright, man!"

For law school, we got Tom Wolfe (a school alum). He was in excellent form, railing about the evils of excessive multiculturalism and political correctness. The student body, which was pretty conservative, ate it up. The faculty, which was much more liberal, looked on in horror.

Llama Yips!

Say hello to Kathy of the Cake Eater Chronicles who gets the dubious honor of joining the Llama blogroll today. I had meant to do this anyway, but Kathy's crack investigative work in uncovering Blogger's stealth-dickering has reduced my morning stress level by a good 45% or so. Welcome aboard!

Go check out Kathy's site for lots of good stuff. In particular today, tho, read the piece I linked to. Please be a good websphere citizen and spread word of this matter to everyone you know. Since Blogger doesn't seem interested in telling us what it's up to, we'll just have to become self-informed, as they say.

(Man, I'm really looking forward to getting over to the new digs!)

Moonbat Desperation?

I did not happen to see Bush's speech last night - the household schedule would not allow it. Reaction this morning seems to be generally favorable. Personally, I think this is the sort of thing Bush needs to do not just once, but over and over and over again in order to win the war of ideas here at home.

One amusing tidbit: The two moonbat partners who forgather in the office next to mine to chew on politics most morning are discussing Bush's speech even as I type. So far, the worst thing they seem to be able to say is that Bush consistently mispronounced "Abu Ghraib." Overall, I don't sense the usual eyeball-rolling, tongue-flapping furor from these guys.

Damn You, Blogger!

Congrats if you're reading this. Blogger seems to have gone on the fritz some time late yesterday afternoon. I can't open any Blogger address now, although I can get a view of our page by way of the edits page. The odd thing is that, judging from comments to posts, at least a couple people got in last evening. Go figure.

Well, I'll keep posting even if I can't see what I'm doing. Hopefully the problem will clear up shortly.

UPDATE: Could you leave a note in the Mail Sack letting me know you're seeing this? Also, let me know if you were able to dial directly into the site or whether you got here from somewhere else. On further investigation, I can get at Blogger sites via Google, but I still can't access them directly.


UPDATE: Kathy at the
Cake Eater Chronicles has solved the mystery: Apparently Blogger has rerouted all the connections without bothering to tell anybody, in effect dropping the "www" from our web addresses. So, for instance, dialing llamabutchers.blogspot.com will get you here no problem. If nothing else, this means we're all going to have to update our blogrolls n' stuff.

Please spread the word about this and thankee again. Yip! Yip!

The Llamas - Doing Our Best To Sour Franco-American Relations

Steve-O checks in from Gay Paree with this humorous report:

1. CNN Europe is about 10 times worse than our home-grown variety in promoting anti-Americanism.

2. Reaction in the press to Bush's speech differed: The Brits on CNBC Europe reported it, talking about bad things but also good. The Beeb did the whole "not enough/not sufficient" analysis, which was interesting as they ran it about an hour before the actual speech. French and German teevee seemed to have similar tones gauged by the clips they were running. However, for the past 3 days they've been using the same clip of a car on fire and the same 4 mutts firing AKs at a
humvee. Call it the Pravda approach. I think things must be going well -casualties seem to have really drop off in May, given that the press isn't using that story.

3. Last night I walked around all evening wearing my Cubs hat - the stare to smile ratio was about 1:5. A waiter joked about the terminal collapse at the airport being caused by Michael Moore. Regular folks don't have a real problem with us. Rather, it's the elites that do. One lady we were at a party with was downright rude about it in a funny way. (I was yanking her chain. She knew it but didn't seem to mind.) She was going on about Blair being Bush's dog and I said "You mean like a bulldog? They're pretty fierce." She said that Paris would never build a statue for Bush except outside of a hospital for the mentally deficient, to which I replied that I had heard that Bush had named his new dog "Chirac" and promptly had him fixed. (I of course used the snip snip gesture.) That really got her. I finished with "Boy, the French really seem to hate our president. And you know, if Americans knew who M. Chirac was and what he stood for, they wouldn't like him either. But they don't because, well, how important is the president of France really....?" She laughed and laughed. (Turns out the animus is more deep-seated: her two sons both have emigrated to the States to find work and start businesses. As Glenn would say, heh. Indeed.)

Monday, May 24, 2004

More Musical Thoughts

Speaking of nothing in particular, I was again listening to Schubert's 9th Symphony last night. It is known as "The Great." I often think this means the piece is like the Great Wall of China as in, "Jesus, this thing goes on for a long time!" Even at a smart clip, the piece comes in just short of an hour - the introductory section of the first movement alone lasts practically as long as the entire first movement of many other symphonies I've heard.

As I once mentioned to my very musical father, I often think of Schubert's symphonies as suits made of excellent cloth but poorly tailored - the fabric is quite pleasant but does not sit properly on the frame he tries to employ. Not only are his musical "thoughts" very long to begin with, Schubert has a bad habit of repeating when he seemingly can't think of anything else to do. This combination is what makes our suit sag at the knees, flow over the shoes, billow at the waist and swallow the wrists and hands whole. (Compare with Beethoven, who could say so much more with so many fewer notes and in less time.)

Nonetheless, I like this piece for all of its flaws. And after all, an hour's worth of music is the perfect time to smoke a cigar without any hurry.

The other thing I like is my recording - it's a digitally remastered DECCA production of a performance by George Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic. Between the sterling quality of the sound reproduction and Solti's effortless control, this is one of the best recordings of anything I've ever heard. One frequently grips one's chair in dubious anticipation of how a conductor is going to handle a given work. Here, from the very first bars, you know Solti is not going to let you down. There's even a photo of him on the inside of the cover. He's conducting in rehearsals and is flashing a look and a grin at some member of the orchestra that simply says, "Yes. That is what it is supposed to sound like. Well done."

Definitely worth adding to your collection.

Speaking of Movies

We rented Persuasion over the weekend. I hadn't seen it before and I haven't read the book either, so I can't jump on my favorite screenplay accuracy hobby-horse. In general, tho, the film has the feel of the old Masterpiece Theatre productions from way back when during the Alistair Cook hey-day - less of a star vehicle and more interested in getting the story right.

Of course, I'll now have to read the book and see.

However, I spotted two howlers in the movie - First, in the scene in which the ladies were pouring over the Navy Lists looking up Wentworth's past commands, they mention a 74 he had commanded, calling it a "Frigate of the Second Rate." In fact, there's no such thing - a frigate was a single-deck ship. A Second Rate 74 (denoting the number of guns she carried) was a multi-decked Ship of the Line.

Also, right at the end ,when Anne and Wentworth are aboard his new command, there is a brief clip of a ship sailing off into the sunset. The ship looks like a three masted, single decked craft, perhaps another frigate. But someone of Wentworth's status would definitely have a larger ship to command. (In the credits, I noticed that the clip was borrowed from "The Bounty." I guess, in a slip, the producers figured what the hell - a sailing ship is a sailing ship.)

One thing I do know and that's that Jane Austen knew what she was talking about in terms of the societal trials and tribulations of naval officers. (The hero of Persuasion Captain Wentworth, is home from the sea during the false peace of the Hundred Days.) In fact, three of Austen's brothers were naval Post-Captains, two of them rising to the rank of Admiral. In fact one, I forget which, became Admiral of the Fleet. I also believe one of them was in Nelson's fleet, but unfortunately was sent away to replenish stores just before Trafalgar.

Productivity Enhancement Watch

Sheila is tossing out random movie quotes and looking for you to identify the film they came from. The answers come in pretty fast, but there are some good observations and a bit o' discussion arising out of them as well. Go on over.

Gratuitous Domestic Blogging - Update

For those of you keeping up with the minor saga known as the Butcher's life, you may remember that I was trying to figure out yesterday how I would manage to keep my four-year-old, who had hurt her arm falling off the monkey bars on Friday, from doing so again if allowed to indulge in her addiction to moon-bounces at the Fun Fair at school yesterday. Alternatively, I was trying to figure out how to keep her from howling with rage and despair if banned from said moon-bounce all afternoon.

Well, it turns out I got the worst of both worlds. Five minutes after we got to school, she broke ranks and made a bee-line for the bounce. Two minutes later, she came staggering back towards me, clutching her arm and howling. So I wound up spending a great chunk of the rest of the afternoon (when not trying to break clowns of their hyper-cheerfulness - see below), following the girl around and trying to get her to hold an ice-pack on her elbow, at the same time keeping a feverish eye on the two-year-old in order to keep her from hurling herself into the barbecue, onto the balloon-making clown or off of the school roof, any one of which things she is perfectly capable of doing. Fortunately, my six-year-old went straight to the giant slide (a cousin of the moon-bounce) and spent the entire afternoon throwing herself up and down it.


This weekend I had another up close and personal encounter with a bizarre phenomenon of parental life: the for-hire clown.

In fact, I met two of them. One was at our church Sunday morning to help promote the summer education program sign-up drive. The other was at the girls' school's annual Fun Fair later on yesterday afternoon.

These two must have been members of the same Clown Union (Local Wacka-Wacka-Wacka, or something like that), or perhaps they hit the same bins at Clowns-R-Us. Both were middle-aged women completely decked out in thick make-up, fright wigs, wacky clothing and humorous little inspirational buttons. Both spent the bulk of their time making balloon sculptures for the young'uns. (I had no idea that compressed air technology had reached the point where your standard clown could carry around a little pump no bigger than a modest notebook.)

Both of them drove me nearly insane.

Yesterday was probably the hottest day so far this year around D.C., with the temps well up into the 90's and humidity you could scoop with a spoon. Here these people were, right out in the open, smeared with grease paint, decked in stifling polyester outfits, waist-deep in seas of over-excited kiddies - and so goddam cheerful that I wanted to bean them with one of their "doggies-on-a-leash" tied around a large brick.

Now don't misunderstand me - I don't have anything against clowns or kiddy fun. But I was coming to pieces myself even while wearing only a polo shirt and bermuda shorts and guzzling bottles of water. All I wanted was an admission (out of ear-shot of the kiddies, of course) that it was a tough day be working the clown gig.

That's all, a simple admission. Even just a knowing wink would be fine.

"Oh," one of them said, "when yer heart is full of happiness, it's like A/C for your soul!"

Oh, c'mon, it's roasting out here.

"Oh, no," said the other one, "I'm just listening to the music and letting a big ol' smile shade me!"

Arrrgh! No! You're hot! You're ready to melt into a little pool of grease with a red round nose bobbing in the middle of it! Confess, damn you! Confess, I say!

They wouldn't budge, either one of them. Even with my two-year-old literally trying to climb their legs.

This isn't the first time this has happened. I tried to get a rise out of a similar clown a week or two ago at a local park, again making balloons and radiating cheer under sweltering conditions. No luck. These clowns must be made of stronger stuff than I imagined. (Too bad I didn't have the Comfy Chair with me.)

But there's a coda to all this: At a party last evening, I learned that one of the clown ladies in fact conducts anger management seminars in real life, which means I was up against a ringer. But I got thinking - the people who run this sort of seminar often do so for their own therapeutic reasons, which means it is quite likely that beneath that silly clown exterior their lurks a ticking time-bomb of clown rage. Sooner or later, she will snap. When she does, I'm just going to smile.

UPDATE: Big Llama Yips go to Bill for being amused. I'm not a psycho. I'm really not. I just can't take too much unadulterated cheerfulness.

Monday Morning Check-In

Sorry we Llamas won't be posting much till later. Too much time and too little to do. Whoops. Strike that. Reverse it.

Too bad, too, because it was rather an interesting weekend. I'll just have to put my thoughts together later on. Further, since our traffic seems to have taken a rather alarming dive in the past couple days, I'm sure there are lots of folks out there who have not yet read about such diverse pleasures as Dowdtopia, Phew Diddy and the complex psychological drama that is cicada slaughter.

In the meantime, I would just like to point out that we've been linked by some strange folks from time to time, but I think this is our first real estate listing. At what point does a Llama become a real property fixture?

Yip at you later.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Death Goes To The Movies

Bill McCabe has asked another one of those irresistible questions: which are the best Movie Deaths?

Well, I dunno which might be the best, but one of my favorites has always been the two Illinois Nazis in the car from The Blues Brothers. That overhead shot of the car falling away from the camera makes me queasy every time I see it. Couple that with the Wagnerian score, the confession of love of the fat guy and the look of blank despair on the little guy's face, and you have so many elements thrown together in one 20 second bit that you can't lose.

Phew Diddy

I see from the paper that Estee Lauder is going to market a new line of "fragrance" created by the Artist-Formerly-Known-As-Puff-Daddy, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.

My first reaction was who the hell would want to wear something that smells like Colt .45, crack and sweat? I thought that's what these guys put on cologne to cover up.

Ambrosia Watch

I must say that although there are times when I'd gladly clothesline a little old lady to get a glass of wine, the fact of the matter is that nothing comes closer to the nectar of the Gods than a big glass of iced coffee. Fill glass with ice. Pour in generous portion of coffee left over from morning pot. Add dash of milk. Share and enjoy.

Mmmmmmmm.....iced coffee.

Gratuitous Domestic Blogging (TM)

I'm sitting here trying to get up the energy and nerve to face having to mow the yard. We had a big thunderstorm come through last night, but rather than clearing things out and cooling them down, it seems to have increased the heat and humidity. I expect we'll get plastered again this evening.

In the meantime, I don't know if it is at all related to the weather, but the cicadas have gone into high gear - the noise is distinctly louder this morning and many more of them are on the wing. Also, rather than flying around in a lazy, desultory pattern, they seem to be moving more purposefully. The ground is getting covered with them - I confidently expect to slaughter hundreds with the mower in a bit.

Heh. I'm sure this would upset the Hug-A-Cicada crowd, several of whose letters appeared in this morning's WaPo, mostly inveighing against little boys who have been reported as having great fun throwing cicadas under car wheels, ripping their legs off, frying them with magnefying glasses - in short, being little boys. As I mentioned earlier, I don't give a single solitary damn about these digusting creatures (The cicadas, I mean, not the little boys). In fact, the residual little boy in me is already contemplating the havoc I am going to create amongst them with something approaching ghoulish pleasure.

Speaking of creating havoc, tomorrow (which promises to be as hot and nasty as today) is the annual Fun Fair at the girls' school. Somehow or other (I don't remember signing anything or even raising my hand), I have been drafted into putting in a spell running the Moon-Bounce. This is a tougher assignment than you might imagine - all those bodies hurling around in uncontrolled arcs of knees, elbows and skulls are a recipe for disaster. There are always a couple of bigger kids who start acting like linebackers in a ballet recital, bowling through the younger ones and inevitably making their moonbounce experience nasty, brutish and short. To combat this, I am stealing myself to be the Moon-Bounce Nazi. One slip up - no bounce for you!

The worst part is going to be dealing with my own four year old. She fell off the top of the monkeybars at school yesterday and landed flat on her back. In addition to knocking the wind out of herself, she also wrenched her arm. The doctors think there may be a slight hairline fracture. In any event, it is sore and swollen this morning. This has already led to numerous Vaudeville encounters between us along the following lines:

She: Daddy, it hurts when I do this!

Me: Then don't do that.


Alas, my sage words of wisdom do not seem to be sinking in. Furthermore, the girl is passionate about Moon-Bounces. How I am going to manage to keep her from breaking her arm completely, but at the same time avoiding the furious meltdown that would result from banning her altogether, I have not yet figured out. Hopefully, inspiration will come to me. Or maybe it will rain.

Speaking of inspiration, or rather lack thereof, I saw a piece in the paper this morning that has altered one of my long-standing opinions in a way that is going to make Liz and Pep very happy. You may remember earlier this week that Gwynyth Paltrow generated sniggers around the blogsphere by naming her new baby girl "Apple." Well, now comes the (former) thinking man's babe Helen Hunt to top her. Hunt has named her new daughter "Makena lei Gordon Carnahan." Sorry, Helen, you're out of the pool. I can fantasize about a woman I don't respect, but I can't fantasize about a woman hell-bent on making a pretentious fool of herself. (BTW, the paper delicately describes the father, Matthew Carnahan, as Hunt's "partner." I'm not sure what that means. Sounds like they're playing Bridge together. Of course, in Hollywood, rounds of Bridge often last longer than marriages, so who knows.)

One long-standing opinion I hold that has not changed, but instead is increasingly cemented, is that AOL is screwing with me. A couple of months ago, we started getting pop-up ads when we logged on encouraging us to change over to AOL's new broadband service. At the same time, I noticed the quality of our dinosaur-like dial-up 6.0, never very good to begin with, starting to drop. (The Butcher's Wife noticed this too.) This seems to be getting worse. For example, I can only open up comments you guys send about 30% of the time. Also, the thing has a trick: once it has decided it can't reach one Internet address, it won't reach any Internet address. All you can do is reboot. And pray. We think this is a deliberate design flaw that AOL is using to try and hustle us over to their broadband service. Bastards.

Well, I've put off the inevitable long enough. Time to go mow the damn lawn. Yip at you later.

UPDATE: The ghoulish pleasure of running over cicadas with the lawnmower didn't last very long. This isn't because I had an epiphany that we're all fellow travellers on this fragile spaceship we call Planet Earth. It's just because it got really disgusting really fast.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Llama Yips!

On this sultry Friday afternoon, we'd like to extend a big Llama welcome to the inmates of the House of Payne as we add them to our blogroll. Also to say thanks for their having done so for us. Go on over and say hello.

Yip! Yip! Yip!

Musical Meme Post

What rotten timing! Here it is, our six-month marker, I go out of my way over lunch to do the longest post I've ever written and traffic is practically non-existent this afternoon. Where the hell is everybody? Steve-O is going to kill me when he gets back and finds I've driven our audience away.

Well anyway, in the deafening silence I got thinking about something. If you're like me, you almost constantly have some piece of music or other running through your head. You also find that the funniest associations of thought can set off a given tune. (You further find that it's the song you like least that you have the hardest time getting rid of, but let's not go there.)

So, without looking at my answer, think fast - what music is going through your head right now?

Now for me: For some reason, I have had the first movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony stuck on my brain all afternoon. I have no idea why, but there it is. I remember my first recording of it - an old, old record of Toscanini and the NBC Orchestra. It wasn't even in stereo, as I recall. I have two recordings now - Solti and the Chicago and John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestra of the Age of Romance and Revolution (or whatever it is that the English Baroque Soloists call themselves when they're doing Romantic music).

I don't really have much to say about the piece, except that I like it - a very well crafted work. The final movement is rather tricky - if performed too slow, it sounds dirge-like, but if performed too fast, it can get frantic. The third movement is about as rollicking as Beethoven ever gets. The second movement is a Haydnesque theme and variation set with some nifty passages. The first movement, which I'm still hearing, is rather unusual in being in triple time and always reminds me of cantering a horse cross country.

So there you have it.


Mor-ton Kondrake has words of warning for the Copperhead Fedayeen: knock it off or we all pay.

Thanks to Glenn.

Welcome to Dowdtopia

Queen of the Copperhead Fedayeen Maureen Dowd recently published an insane op-ed entitled Welcome to Bushworld. Let's take a look at her travelguide, shall we?

WASHINGTON -- It's their reality. We just live and die in it.

In Bushworld, our troops go to war and get killed, but you never see the bodies coming home.

The Pentagon established that policy in 1991. How many photos of the remains of our dead coming back from Mogadishu, the Khobi Towers and the U.S.S. Cole did you see? Oh, but Clinton was just feeling the families' pain, I'm sure.

In Bushworld, flag-draped remains of the fallen are important to revere and show the nation, but only in political ads hawking the president's leadership against terror.

Are those the same bodies we never see?

In Bushworld, we can create an exciting Iraqi democracy as long as it doesn't control its own military, pass any laws or have any power.

You mean all that talk in the Interim Constitution about a National Assembly (Chapter 4), Executive Authority (Chapter 5) and Judiciary (Chapter 6), together with the timetable for drafting a permanent Constitution (Chapter 9) was just thrown in because the drafters were getting paid by the word?

In Bushworld, we can win over Fallujah by bulldozing it.

Yeah, you know we're leaving just one big parking lot. Oh, and it's being run by that military the Iraqis don't control.

In Bushworld, it was worth going to war so Iraqis could express their feelings ("Down With America!") without having their tongues cut out, although we cannot yet allow them to express intemperate feelings in newspapers ("Down With America!") without shutting them down.

No, dear, the Iraqi press can say "Down with America!" until it's collectively blue in the face. What it can't say is "Kill Americans and their friends!" And you know what, dear? Incitement is illegal in this country as well.

In Bushworld, it's fine to take $700 million that Congress provided for the war in Afghanistan and 9-11 recovery and divert it to the war in Iraq that you are insisting you are not planning.

Oops, the amount was actually more like $178 million, and went to overall military systemic improvements vital to counter-terrorism, Afghanistan and Iraq. I guess in Dowdtopia, Tommy Franks wouldn't be allowed to answer his new HQ phone unless the call came from Kabul.

In Bushworld, you don't consult your father, the expert in being president during a war with Iraq, but you do talk to your Higher Father, who can't talk back to warn you to get an exit strategy or chide you for using Him for political purposes.

Well, I'd say if your dad was the CIC who chickened out of finishing off Saddam the first time around then, no, I wouldn't go to him for advice. Perhaps there's a different definition of "expert" in Dowdtopia. As for God, well dear, just because you don't understand how to listen to Him doesn't mean the President is deaf as well.

In Bushworld, it's OK to run for re-election as the avenger of 9-11, even as you make secret deals with the Arab kingdom where most of the 9-11 hijackers came from.

Oh, you mean the $28 per barrel election-delivering oil deal that even Bob Woodward said didn't take place? Or is this some other secret deal? Or can you not specify because it's a secret. (Oh, btw, premium is running $2.35 a gallon by my house. Way to go, secret-deal-making guys!)

In Bushworld, you get to strut around like a tough military guy and paint your rival as a chicken hawk, even though he's the one who won medals in combat and was praised by his superior officers for fulfilling all his obligations.

If this is Dowd's idea of praise, no wonder she thinks she's so highly respected!

In Bushworld, it makes sense to press for transparency in Mr. and Mrs. Rival while cultivating your own opacity.

In Dowdtopia, it makes sense to start inserting incomprehensible sentences to pad out fading memes.

In Bushworld, you can reign as the antiterror president even after hearing an intelligence report about al-Qaida's plans to attack America and then stepping outside to clear brush.

Ah, yes, the infamous August 6 PDB. Well here's the text. You be the judge. At least he wasn't stepping out to boink interns.

In Bushworld, those who dissemble about the troops and money it will take to get Iraq on its feet are patriots, while those who are honest are patronizingly marginalized.

You mean folks like Dick Luger and Joe Biden are no longer invited to Washington A-List parties? It seems to me the only people who are completely "honest" about this matter are the ones who say they don't know how much it will cost because there are so many factors involved. This is an open-ended venture, dear. We ain't pricing Volvoes here.

In Bushworld, they struggle to keep church and state separate in Iraq, even as they increasingly merge the two in America.

Yes, I understand that in order to get the new electronic voting machines to work properly this fall, you have to type in the combination code from your Li'l Protestant Secret Decoder Ring. (Whoops! Shouldn't have said that....)

In Bushworld, you can claim to be the environmental president on Earth Day while being the industry president every other day.

In Dowdtopia, we'll all live a hand-to-mouth existence, using tools no more complicated than a hammer, a lever and maybe the wheel. You know - like most of the Third World. But damn, ain't that scenery pretty!

In Bushworld, you brag about how well Afghanistan is going, even though soldiers like Pat Tillman are still dying and the Taliban are running freely around the border areas, hiding Osama and delaying elections.

Actually, dear, the U.N. asked that the elections be delayed. Are they in cahoots with Osama? I know a lot of people think so.

Oh, and as for your using the death of Pat Tillman for your snarky little screed? Fuck you.

In Bushworld, imperfect intelligence is good enough to knock over Iraq. But even better evidence that North Korea is building the weapons that Saddam could only dream about is hidden away.

Hidden right there in the pages of the Washington Post. Clever. Is this a kind of "Purloined Letter" stunt?

In Bushworld, the CIA says it can't find out whether there are WMD in Iraq unless we invade on the grounds that there are WMD.

Wait, I'm confused. Is this the same imperfect intelligence on the basis of which you would have had Bush shut down the entire commercial airline industry, put AA batteries on the top of every tall building and arrest every Middle Eastern person in America instead of cutting brush?

In Bushworld, there's no irony that so many who did so much to avoid the Vietnam draft have now strained the military so much that lawmakers are talking about bringing back the draft.

No, dear. When the lawmakers involved happen to be Fritz Hollings and Charlie Rangel, "irony" isn't the word I'd use. "Naked partisan grandstanding" would be nearer the mark.

In Bushworld, we're making progress in the war on terror by fighting a war that creates terrorists.

Yes, the way our longstanding military campaign against Saudi Arabia produced the suicide squads that killed 3000 of our people here. Perhaps we should be funding more midnight basketball leagues over there.

In Bushworld, you don't need to bother asking your vice president and top Defense Department officials whether you should go to war in Iraq, because they've already maneuvered you into going to war.

In Dowdtopia, a President should always select advisors with radically different philosophies from his, the better to keep the country in helpless paralysis. While people are trying to kill us.

In Bushworld, it's perfectly natural for the president and vice president to appear before the 9-11 commission like the Olsen twins.

Given that the 9/11 Commission has devolved into a gang of snivelling partisan hacks who are even taking shots at firefighters who risked their own and their men's lives, I'd say Bush probably should have sent the real Olson twins instead.

In Bushworld, you expound on remaking the Middle East and spreading pro-American sentiments even as you expand anti-American sentiments by ineptly occupying Iraq and unstintingly backing Ariel Sharon on West Bank settlements.

I wonder what the Iraqi occupation would look like in Dowdtopia. Oh, yes - basket ball courts. At least we'd no longer be subject to manipulation from the JOOOOOOOOOOOOOS!

In Bushworld, we went to war to give Iraq a democratic process, yet we disdain the democratic process that causes allies to pull out troops.

Yes, you know how it's written right into the Spanish Constitution that any foreign terrorist group that wishes to influence elections has the unfettered right to blow up commuter trains. Makes you wonder what Campaign Finance Reform would be like in Dowdtopia. Noisy, I'd say.

In Bushworld, you pride yourself on the fact that your administration does not leak to the press, while you flood the best-known journalist in Washington with inside information.

In Dowdtopia, editing is considered a capital offense.

In Bushworld, you list Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack as recommended reading on your campaign Web site, even though it makes you seem divorced from reality. That is, unless you live in Bushworld.

Well, I don't actually see it. Go look yourself, if you like. But "divorced from reality"? Perhaps in Dowdtopia, they never show the movie Patton. (Probably because of all the imperialistic U.S. violence, lack of foresight, allied alienation and post-war confusion.) Let me quote you Patton's best line: Rommel! You magnificent son of a bitch! I read your book!!!

Well that's all the news from Dowdtopia - where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children write op-ed columns.

Gratuitous Daddy Posting

My six year old has written her very first story and presented it to me as an (early) Father's Day present. Allow me to quote in full:


Once upon a time there was a flower that looked like this. [Picture of flower.] It was the prettiest flower on Earth. The end.

Thank you.

No, thank you.

Life Imitates Art Imitates Life - And the Bad Guys Lose

I happened to watch Zulu again last night for the umpteenth time. This is one of my favorite movies, recounting the Battle of Rorke's Drift, fought January 22-23, 1879, in which a British Army garrison of 140 men beat off an attack of 5000 Zulus. The superb Victor David Hanson devotes a chapter of his book Carnage and Culture to an examination of this battle, describing how the superior firepower and discipline of the Brits, backed up by unshaken courage, allowed them to win in the face of such lopsided odds.

Think the Thin Red Line doesn't exist anymore? Then read this account of how troops of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, caught in a recent Shiite militia ambush, fixed bayonets and charged their attackers, inflicting severe casualties and receiving very few in return. Amazing stuff.

UPDATE: Speaking of Hanson, the Great Man today demands an apology from some of the leading lights of the Copperhead Fedayeen. Not bloody likely.

Llama Milestone

Today the Llama Butchers are six months old! Happy, er, half-anniversary to us!!

In celebration, let's take a look back at the ribbon-cutting of the Butcher's Shop. Steve-O's very first posts were these:

Well, Rob? Let er rip


We are the LLama butchers

We come in peace

to defenestrate the indefensible

to decapitate the corrigible

to spread havoc and fear among the idiotarians

we are llama butchers

hear us yip

And MY very first post, in response, was this:

Yeeeeee-Haaaaaw!!!! (Sound of swishing cleaver) Yip! Yip! Yip!

(Not inspired rhetoric, to be sure. But certainly a wee bit better than the typical "Hey u guys - I gotta blog ;-}")

Not to be too corny about it, but I think we've grown significantly since November, not just in terms of traffic and linkage, but also in terms of understanding what we're doing, why we're doing it and what it really means to be happy and successful as a blogger. (Hint: There's more to life than an Insta-lanche.)

I may write more about this later. In the meantime, let me just once again thank everybody who stops in for that daily pound of Llama Snark, or who has taken the time simply to stroll around the shop sampling the tasty bits. One thing you can count on as we go forward: We Llamas pledge to do everything we can to keep it just the way you like it - meaty, woolly, snippy.

Yip! Yip! Yip! Yip! Yip!

UPDATE: And as long as we're talking about milestones, Llama Yips go out to the Emperor of the Geeks for cracking his first thousand. Yip! Yip!

Random Commuter Thought Probably Of Interest Only To Me

My office window looks out on 10th Street between E and Pennsylvania. The entrance to my building's garage is on this same side. The FBI's Hoover Building is across the street. I have been in my office for five years. There has not been a single day during this period when this stretch of 10th Street and/or the sidewalk on the FBI side isn't having something done to it. Not one. Apparently, they simply dig holes and fill them up again. Strange.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

More On The Copperhead Fedayeen

James Joyner is worried that they may be winning, citing the likes of Matt Yglesias tossing off lines about our "total collapse in Iraq."

The crazy irony is that Copperhead prophecies of doom won't come true owing to what actually happens on the ground in Iraq. Instead, they will come true because of what we think is happening on the ground in Iraq. If the Left and the press continue to do nothing but tell us we are going to lose, lose, lose, then we will simply psyche ourselves into doing so. It's a weirdo kind of strategic self-hypnosis similar, as James notes, to the fallout over Tet.

Dammit, people, this can't happen! You and I can sit about and bloviate, but this is where Dubya really has to step up to the plate. Only he, with his bully pulpit, is going to be able to fight off this attack. Maybe we should start telling him this more directly. Here's his email: president@whitehouse.gov.

Go to it.

UPDATE: Our old friend TM Lutas picks up on the label and asks just who qualifies and what we do about them. I'll be interested to see the criteria and punishments he comes up with. One thing I would note is that in formulating this concept I have deliberately made the classification rather broad. This is because I believe there are a number of different subgroups with different agendas within it. Certainly, at least a sizeable part of the Left is simply interested in bringing Bush down politically, regardless of the practical consequences. On the other hand, there are probably others that are pursuing a genuine anti-U.S. agenda. I'm sure there are still others whose main concern is promoting their own ideas about the way the Middle East should govern itself, ideas that differ violently from what we are trying to do there.

All of these people now share the common goal of causing the United States to lose its nerve and slink out of Iraq with our collective tails between our legs. Given this, and the epic proportions of the disaster that would follow on such a course of action, I'm not overly concerned about being too delicate in teasing out all the individual agendas within the group.

See What Happens When You Abandon Your Post?

Steve-O, who even now is probably swilling brie n' beaujolais with those Jerry Lewis-loving Left Bank Monkies, was ranting not long back about the dearth of lesbian forensic pathologists on television.

Well Lawren has found a nifty little site that will help him write his own screenplay. If he were here now, I'm sure he'd get busy on it immediately.

Musical Post

I came across this interesting gallery of Beethoven portraits over at Lynn's.

By all accounts I've ever read, Beethoven was something of a cantankerous lout. You get that impression looking at these paintings, sculptures and masks. (Interesting to compare this with the restrained but cheerful nature that seems to emanate from portraits of Haydn like these.)

As it happens, I have been fooling about lately with Beethoven's 1st piano concerto, trying to get some of the solo passages up to speed. It is fun but I much prefer doing this with some of Mozart's, mostly Nos. 18, 20 and 21. I've always found it outrageously unfair that Mozart saved virtually all of his best piano music for the concerti. They're great thoroughbred pieces to play, but where the hell are you going to find an orchestra to back you up? (One of my dreams is that when the kids get older we can at least indulge in some chamber music together. I've been talking up the virtues of string instruments lately.)

When I was a kid, my dad gave me a record of the orchestral parts of various famous piano concerto passages that you were supposed to play along with. (For those of you who might be too young, a "record" was an antique form of sound recording.) I never tried it because I was far too unskilled at the time. I wonder if anyone still makes something like that.

Llama Disclosure Of Youthful Indulgence

Our Llama Military Correspondent let the cat out of the bag yesterday about a certain Jessup International Moot Court Competition on the hallowed grounds of William & Mary in which we jointly represented our own fair school many years ago.

Just so charges of obfuscation won't come back to haunt me if I ever run for office, yes, I was still a bit drunk from the night before when I did my first round of oral arguments at 7:00 AM. Did pretty well, too, as I recall.

The hard part of the day was my second round at 1:00 PM. By then, a wicked, wicked hangover had set in. Not only that, I was up against some weedy little nerd from Duke, the kind of person who you instantly knew was a fervent believer in the holiness of international organizations and treaties. And the worst part of it was that his girlfriend, who was all over him, was one seriously fabulous babe.

Needless to say, with all that outrageous unfairness going against me, I crashed and burned pretty seriously in that round.

Copperhead Fedayeen Watch

The New England Republican reports on the media's eagerness to report that U.S. forces shot up an Iraqi wedding party before they, in fact, had the remotest idea what actually happened. With this "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude, it's a good thing members of the press aren't armed.


Sorry, sorry. Lamest. Title. Ever. But Enoch has been on something of a Waugh kick lately and I just can't resist.

First, he salted my screen-adaptation wounds by recounting Hollywood's dismal attempt to replicate The Loved One. Oh, the humanity!

Now he's got some interesting links about the great Basil Seal here and here. Great fun.

Seal is, of course, quite antithetical to Waugh's other heroes. Somewhere locked in my brain is the thesis that never got written: a consideration of the development of Waugh's anti-hero from Paul Pennyfeather up through William Boot, Tony Last, Guy Crouchback and Charles Ryder. Some day, perhaps.

More On Screen Adaptations

Yes, file this under Horse - Beating a Dead, but I can't keep off the subject. Dan the Silver Fox has an interesting post up in which he argues that the success of a film adaptation of a greatly loved book is dependent on the film-maker's care in remaining true to the characters. I agree with this, of course. It would be impossible, for example, for Sam Gamgee to turn into a wisecracking hipster or for Jack Aubrey to become politically correct, as Dan rightly points out.

The problem I have with Dan's idea is that he extends it to suggest that if the film stays true to the characters, then it is okay for the film to mess about with plot and dialogue. I think this is, in fact, impossible: fictional characters don't exist outside of these elements. It is what they do and say within the written text that makes them the characters we love. (Dan says that he can't remember the individual plots of Sherlock Holmes stories but would recognize Holmes and Watson instantly if he saw them on the street. If I saw them on the street, my reaction would be to knock off drinking because I was starting to hallucinate again.)

It is pointless to argue whether what Gandalf or Jack Aubrey do or say in a given situation on screen is "true" to their character. If they did not do or say it in the book, then the question is moot. A screen character might do something that is Gandalf-like, but if it did not happen in the book, then that character is not, in fact, Gandalf. Another screen character might be Aubrey-esque, but if his words and deeds are not those set down by Patrick O'Brian, then he is not, in fact, a faithful representation of Jack Aubrey.

Yes, you can brand me a literalist, but to truly love a fictional character is to know and love every little element that goes to make up their persona. As I say, there is no source for these elements other than what is written in the book from which that character comes, including what he or she says, does and thinks. Mess about with these elements and you compromise the character. Compromise the character and you compromise the thing you love. I simply can't do that.

HT to Sheila.

Random Commuter Thought In Which Only I Would Be Interested

Outside of commercials, does anyone really use the expression "certified pre-owned vehicle"?

"Hey, Jim! I see you got a Lexus! New or used?"
"Neither, Tom! It's certified pre-owned!"

I don't think I'd want to know such a person.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

What the - ?

Check out this satellite photo of heat signatures and smoke plumes all over North Korea. I'm assuming these aren't Greek Week bonfires or anything....

HT to Glenn.

Is Our Comedians Learning?

So it appears that Jon Stewart of the Daily Show gave this year's commencement address at his alma mater, William & Mary.

Here's a choice "zinger" from his speech:

We declared war on terror. We declared war on terror—it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.

Ooh, very witty, Wilde, very witty. Um, the trouble is that terror is a noun, at least last time I checked. You might want to see about getting some of your tuition money back.

Oddly enough, Reen and her friends are using the post as an occasion to savage Christopher Wren's architecture.

Am I missing something here? At my old stomping ground, William & Mary was pretty universally known as "Bill and the Bitch," but I always thought the campus was rather nice. Go figure.

Queen of the Copperhead Fedayeen

We have a winner! Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you one of the most detestable moonbats fluttering about the political scene, Maureen Dowd. Read her and weep.

Llama Yips!

By the way, I wanted to thank Jeff, Kevin,Bill and The Emperor of the Geeks for picking up on our Copperhead Fedayeen meme. I also wanted to say howdy ma'am to Kathleen of the Cake Eater's Chronicles, and thank her as well. (My apologies to anyone else who has run with it that I haven't noticed.)

The next step is to get Glenn to stop stealing our thunder on this matter. Will no one rid me of this turbulent puppy-sipper?

While Steve-O's Away...

Well, my partner in Llama snarkiness is off to the land of the cheese-eating surrender monkeys for a while (oh, the hard life of a tenured prof!). It's too bad that he'll be out on Friday, as that day will mark the first six months of our little endeavor. I must think of an appropriate way to thank everybody who has helped us carve out our little bloggy niche. It's gratifying, of course, to write for yourself and your immediate circle. But it's also very gratifying to think there are folks out there now who pay attention to what we think about things.

As you know, we are getting ready to launch the grand opening of our new shop. We're currently aiming for an opening date around June 1 or so. In the meantime, I'm afraid not much is going to happen over there. Steve-O mentioned that his first foray from Blogger into Movable Type was akin to moving from the controls of a biplane to those of a 747. For me, it is more like moving from my Microsoft Flight Simulator game to the aforementioned 747. I don't know bupkiss about all the technical bits. So rather than sailing the thing straight into a mountainside, I'm going to let Otto the Autopilot stay at the helm until Steve-O gets back.

Die LlamacMetzger!

I didn't realize Google could do such things, but this is us in German.

How would one say "Heh"?

Save The Cicadas!

The Beeb, out of sheer habit I suppose, is sounding the alarm over the threat posed by Eviiiil Civilization to Brood X:

Brood X might cut an imposing sight today, but their numbers are not as stable as they might seem.

The world has changed since they burrowed into the ground, 17 years ago, as freshly hatched nymphs.

While they were preparing for their month of glory, their habitats have been paved over by parking lots, enormous shopping malls and large tracts of homes.

Thousands of cicadas, entombed in concrete, will be unable to make it to the surface.

For once I am going to step into the caricature of the heartless, planet-destroying, Kyoto-bashing, Gaya-dissing, Day After Tomorrow-causing, Capitalist Pig-Dog and ask: Who the hell cares?

Uh, Oh - VRWC Security Breach!

Kate over at Small Dead Animals obviously didn't read the same memo I got about keeping quiet, because she's spilling the beans.

Warning: The No Hot Beverages Rule is now in effect.


Don't tell anyone, but there's actually quite a bit of good news from Iraq.

Antidote to Copperhead Poison

Lest you think that we Llama Butchers are right-wing zombies who believe Bush can do no wrong, let us hasten to add that the flipside of the Copperhead Fedayeen issue is the White House's failure to challenge it for the high ground. Sullivan gets it more or less right:

What Bush doesn't seem to understand is that in any war, people need to be reminded constantly of what is going on, what is at stake, what our immediate, medium-term and ultimate objectives are. The president has said nothing cogent about Karbala; nothing apposite about al Sadr; nothing specific about what our strategy is in Falluja. Events transpire and are interpreted by critics and the anti-war media and by everyone on the planet but the president. All the president says is a broad and crude reiteration of valid but superfluous boilerplate. This is not war-leadership; it's the abdication of war-leadership. We are at a critical juncture. With some perspective, we have achieved much in Iraq, with relatively low casualties. But it will all go to hell if we lose our nerve now. It's long past time that people can be asked simply to trust the president. After the WMD intelligence debacle and the Abu Ghraib disgrace, he has run out of that capital. He has to tell us how we will win, what we are doing, how it all holds together, why the infrastructure repair is still in disarray, and how a political solution is possible.

Sullivan goes on to question whether Bush actually has the time and skill to do this. Personally, I've given up on trying to figure this out. Time and again Bush has rope-a-doped his critics into foolishly dropping their guard, only to land a knock-out counterpunch that comes out of nowhere. As Glenn's post below suggests, that may be going on here. If so, the President has balls of titanium. If not, well, let's not think about that just yet.

I'm leaving you in Robbo's capable hands....

Well, I'm off to the land of Frank J. for a week---I'm taking an alumnae group to Paris to do a Jefferson and Franklin in Paris tour. I promised the Alumnae Office that I would create no international/diplomatic incidents while there; however, I sure as heck aint going to be one of these "apostle Paul" Americans who goes to France and pretends to be Canadian. My philosophy is, I'm a guest, and I'll be very polite, however if pushed into talking about current politics I'm going to say what I believe. If necessary, I've got two bolts in the quiver: Stephen Decateur's "My Country, Right or Wrong, But Right or Wrong, My Country" and if that doesn't work, a nice resounding chorus of "Deutchesland Deutchesland Uber Alles" should do the trick.

The coolest thing on the trip is going to be a private tour of the Rochambeau family's American Revolutionary War museum, plus a trip to Lafayette's grave, where legend has it the American flag flew even during the, ahem, Nazi occupation.

Just title the effort "A Cranky American Hugenot Llamabutcher in Paris." George Gershwin I aint.

For the plane, I'm bringing Conor Cruise O'Brien's The Long Affair on Jefferson and the French Revolution, the new biography of Benjamin Franklin that just came out, and a copy of Tocqueville's The Anciene Regime and the French Revolution.

Expect some extremely silly pshopped pics of the Hugenot Llama in Paris upon my return.

Copperhead Fedayeen Round-Up

Yes, I am flogging this particular horse, but I think it's extremely important. Today's WaPo shrieks "Fear Of Failure Growing!" above the fold. Just read the opening paragraph of the story:

The Bush administration is struggling to counter growing sentiment -- among U.S. lawmakers, Iraqis and even some of its own officials -- that the occupation of Iraq is verging on failure, forcing a top Pentagon official yesterday to concede serious mistakes over the past year.

The entire tone of the piece paints a picture of near panic and chaos, as if Baghdad is about to turn into a combination of Saigon and Dunkirk. But distilled of it's tongue-swallowing rhetoric, all the article really relates is that Paul Wolfowitz told Congress that rebuilding Iraq is a tough business and that things haven't worked out as originally hoped. Well, duh.

As I've said before, the mainstream press is coming closer and closer to outright cheerleading for U.S. failure in Iraq as a means by which to bring down Bush. I have nothing but contempt for this.

I said it was a round-up, and so it is: Glenn has some good posts here and here, plus this one that suggests Bush is actually letting the press carry on this way in order to hang itself. Maybe, but Jesus what a strategy. Then again, I was never any good at poker.....

More on this later. I don't generally have the time or energy to do really extended posts, but this one is worth pursuing. Steve-O set out an excellent historical framework here. I'll try to follow up on that soon.

Random Commuter Questions In Which Only I Am Interested

I hate to subject our readers to such a wrenching turn in tone and topic (compare this post to the one immediately below to see what I'm talking about), but that's the way our tiny little minds work around here.

Anyhoo, the question that came to mind this morning is this: The Tim McGraw song Indian Outlaw is a parody, right? Right?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Gratuitous Catholic Music Post

This evening I found myself slumped in front of the television watching Commando, a rather lame Ah-nold movie from a few years back. A Jerry Seinfeld-like entity in the back of my head finally squinted its eyes and said, "What are you doing?"

So I clicked off the television and repaired to my study to listen to some music. The choice that seemed obvious for dispelling feelings of wasted opportunity was a 1987 Allegro recording of Emma Kirkby and Evelyn Tubb singing Monteverdi duets and solos (with help from Anthony Rooley and the Consort of Musicke).

First, a word about Kirkby and Tubb. Their singing, in my humble opinion, is about as close to celestial as ever a mere mortal voice will ever come. There is a purity and grace to their performance that elevates them beyond the earthly diva trapped in her own self-importance. When you listen to one of them, you don't think "I am listening to Emma Kirkby - what a star she is." Instead, you think "I am listening to an echo of the Cherubim." The focus is on the music of the voice, rather than the person producing it.

Second, this particular CD is rather interesting. It includes fourteen duets and solos, half of them secular (di camera, if memory serves) and half of them religious (di chiesa, ditto). What is notable is that, even though they have wildly different themes, there is a readily obvious kinship amongst them. I don't just mean that Monteverdi wrote all of them. Instead, I mean that the joy and sorrow of earthly loves, as portrayed in the secular pieces, is expressible in the same terms as the joy and sorrow of the love of God, albeit with a different focus. I don't think this is the slightest bit illogical or irreconcilable - nothing in the Bible says that we must be miserably sterile on earth in order to enjoy Heavenly reward, or vice versa. And the good people of Venice in the 1620's evidently felt the same way.

The other thing about this recording that has always moved me to tears is the power of the religious pieces. The Sancta Maria and the O Bone Jesu are two prime examples. The grander pieces that come to mind when discussing religious music, Monteverdi's own 1610 Vespers to the Virgin Mary, Bach's Mass in B Minor and Mozart's Requiem, for example, are institutional in scope - "We, the Catholic People, address our collective prayers to you, Oh Lord." On the other hand, these duets and solos place the listener as an individual squarely in front of the Savior, face to face. No institutions. No crowd in which one can hide. My personal impulse, when confronted by this, is to want to throw myself at the feet of Jesus, not just in an act of contrition for my personal weaknesses, but also in an act of joy in celebration of His Kingdom. Monteverdi evidently felt this way too, as some of the pieces are in the forms of laments, dignified in their melancholy, while others are extremely happy.

Sorry if this all sounds rather loopy. It's late. Also, as some of you know, I have always been a strong Catholic sympathizer, even though I am an Episcopalian. I think my own church places too much emphasis on reason and not enough on faith, and sometimes I long for the comforts of the institutions built up over 2000 years in the service of that faith. The Butcher's Wife thinks I'm out of my mind to have anything to do with the Catholic Church, given the recent revelations of widespread abuse and corruption. My response is that these things do not represent The Church. Rather, they are the weaknesses of human beings serving within the Church and should be stamped out. As for what things do represent The Church, as that ideal is reflected in the imperfect works of Mankind, I don't think you can go far wrong by including the sacred music of Claudio Monteverdi.

Thus endeth the lesson.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?