Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Asinine administrators conspired to try to ruin my day today: you know, the type of people who move you out of a perfectly good office into one that doesn't have a working phone, working network connection, the network printer is set up in a classroom, no bookcases, stuff like that. All sorts of ridiculous stuff.

But, they failed. Today was just too damn beautiful. I love June 30th, as its the apogee of the year in my mind. Today was clear, not really humid (the test is whether you can see the individual trees up on the Blue Ridge, which you could quite clearly), temperature perfect. The seven year old had a swim meet, and she had fun and tried hard. I came back and filled my baseball hat in the garden with beans and smaller variety of tomatos. I was going to take a picture for some tomato blogging, but we basically finished them off raw on the back porch. Nothing in the world of food tops a perfectly ripe June tomato that 30 seconds ago was attached to the mother plant.

Tonight is also the night before the Battle of Gettysburg, the critical moment in American history. Looking up the Blue Ridge, it was like I could follow the mountains in my mind's eye up the 200 miles to Chambersburg and its surroundings. John Buford, with his calvary troop, sighting out the land, feeling the ebb and flow of the battle to come in the landscape of the fields north and west of the little seminary town with the crossroads. Gettysburg has always had a link in my mind to Bastogne that way---small towns that could have lived and died for a thousand years with no one taking notice, save that they were a crossroads that because of the cruel fractal calculus of war became a focal point of pain, misery, destruction, and glory. Who lost Gettysburg for the South? Who won it for the Union? I do not know. But in many ways those three days at the beginning of July 1863 have slipped somewhat from our memory and our imagination. The mystic bonds of memory, as Lincoln called them in the First Innagural, have frayed. Fifty thousand plus soldiers were killed and wounded those three days. Fifty thousand. I think about Gettysburg and Shiloh sometimes when I'm at the Vietnam Memorial, carved as it is over the ten years of our involvement in Southeast Asia. And then I imagine what the memorial would look like if they had done that for Gettysburg: same effect, but instead of years it would be hours: The second day, the sixth hour. Little Round Top. And on. And on. And on.

I'm reminded of Lincoln's conclusion to the First Inaugural Address:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.



Are you ready for some more? 'Cos it's coming - Not only are Kathleen and I, fresh from our Round One battle, getting ready to enter the Cage for Round Two tomorrow, by popular demand we're gonna go to Round Three as well! That's right - the Final Reply Round in this epic grudge match between Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse for the undisputed title of Greatest Austen Character will be next Tuesday. 250 word limit. No prisoners.

Two Ladies enter. One Lady leaves.


You Talkin' To Me?

Outer Life has thoughts on Mr. Literal.

I resemble that remark!


Drudge is reporting that Kerry is about to tap Hillary as his VP choice. Hmmmmmm......

Reading the "Insider's" reasoning on why Hill would be such a good choice, I begin to wonder what this person is smoking.

"There are three issues that this campaign will be decided on-- national security, health care, and the economy, not necessarily in that order."

"Kerry believes that no one is better on national security than he is, he served in Vietnam after all, so he has that covered and the suggestion that he needs to strengthen the ticket with someone who has national security credentials is dismissed as foolish."

The insider continues: "The Democrats feel like health care is the domestic issue. But how to make it the dominant topic of conversation-- break through war and terrorism? Hillary Clinton. She catapults it out front with her commission. She tried to provide health care before and the Republicans in congress attacked her and her husband and used a bunch of scandals dirty tricks to stop it, we know they are scandals dirty tricks because the former president book says so. So now you have the number two person on the ticket who is a 'health care expert' and what will Republicans do? Attack on health care pointing to her commission saying that it was government medicine. Her response-- it wasn't, and the Republicans are a bunch of dirty tricksters, "Liars and Crooks," as Kerry calls them, and its been too long and Democrats wont let the Republicans do it to them again. By the way, it puts prescription drugs on the back burner, the republicans health care ace. You will have a fully engaged national debate on health care from now until the election."

First, Kerry has very bad national security credentials. His Vietnam service is, at best, a mixed bag and plenty of his fellow vets hate his guts. Furthermore, his Senate record (such as it is) is appalling - remember the $87 Billion for the troops that he voted both for and against?

Second, even if health care is a hot enough issue to sway voters, do the Dems really want the Queen of HillaryCare bobbing back up? This was essentially a socialized medicine program and no amount of sticking fingers in their ears and shouting "Liar! Liar! Liar!" is going to change this for the Dems. And need they be reminded that they lost Congress in '94 in large part because of this?

Our Great Karnack continues:

"The Democrats economic plan is to say Bush sucks, it's never enough, we must get back to the Clinton Era when 22 million jobs were created. You can't do much better at making that point then-- Kerry/Clinton 2004.

If I were them I'd be reeeeal careful about pushing that Clinton Prosperity thing too far. People aren't fools. They learn. As time goes on, more and more folks may appreciate that what Clinton presided over was a bubble. I think if the economy continues to grow at its current pace, people will be content and the Bush Team can paint the Dems as unrealistic dreamers.

The Prognosticator also peers into the mind of Hillary herself:

"But what Hillary about having to wait to run for president? If Bush wins then she is the nominee for 2008 because it will be all Kerry's fault. If she wins she is the first woman VP of the United States, which would help her become the first woman president of the U.S. It would be historic in its own right and change the nature of politics in this country, and mark her place in the history books for ever-- a different history than her husbands."

Just like Geraldine Ferraro? Hillary loses nothing by sitting this one out. If Kerry goes down, she can still run in 2008 as the odds-on favorite. If he wins, she'll have to wait until 2012 and, even then, would have to gage her chances on the likelihood of a successful two-term Kerry presidency. Want odds on that, Senator?

There is a great deal about Hillary Clinton that I utterly loathe but I'll give the woman this - She's not stupid. I just don't see where this gets her that she can't get to anyway. On the other hand, attaching her wagon to Kerry's train is a risky proposition.

But what do I know?

Stone-Cold Jane Austen Cage Match - UPDATE

Round One of the battle between Elizabeth Bennet, champeened by Kathleen the Cake Eater, and Emma Woodhouse, carried by Yours Truly, is over. The crowd loves the fight and most are holding their breath for the bell to go again. I can't help noticing with some satisfaction, however, that the Pious Agnostic is giving the first round to my girl Emma, however reluctantly. [Insert Marv Albert "Yuuuuuus!" here.]

Okay, then! Round Two is tomorrow - and it's Rebuttal Time! I gotcha on the ropes, Kathy - now prepare to enter your House of Pain!


What's Up, Doc?

Terry Teachout has an interesting post about Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and the way in which this movie helps remind us of the context from which the classic cartoons emerged.

I think Teachout is right about the lineage of these cartoons and also that it is perfectly fine to think of them as an art form, a legitimate branch of film-making. I don't think it's absolutely necessary to understand the cultural background of these pieces in order to enjoy them. The definition of a true classic is something that transcends its time, after all. One need only compare, say, a 1948 Bugs Bunny cartoon with any recent Saturday morning kiddie show for about two seconds to see that the former is real, adult comedy while the latter is garbage.

But it certainly helps with some of the more topical references. T'other day I was discussing with my six year old the classic 'toon Long-Haired Hare where Bugs goes toe to toe with the opera tenor "Giovanni Jones", ultimately sabotaging his concert. She wanted to know why everyone kept calling Bugs "Leopold". Because I know something about classical music, I was able to give her a brief account of Leopold Stokowski and his popular Hollywood Bowl concerts, which were the basis of this particular joke. Now I didn't know this when I was a kid and I still very much enjoyed the cartoon. However, I enjoy it all the more now because I do know this.

It occurs to me that someone ought to write a companion guide to the various classic cartoon collections, annotating this sort of thing. (Perhaps someone already has. I don't know.) There are hundreds and hundreds of both obvious and throw-away references like the Leopold gag in them. Even some superficial study of these would be very interesting indeed.

UPDATE: Needless to say, I love the musical riffs most of all. What's Opera, Doc? is a genuine masterpiece. (Check out this catalogue of Wagner's music used in it.) The Rabbit of Seville was also made by people who had an obvious appreciation of classical music. I love how a couple of bars of Mendelssohn's wedding march are tossed in right at the end. Whenever the Rossini overture runs through my head, it's about a 50/50 chance that I'm going to think of that departure instead of the original line. And of course, my all time favorite riff is the fact that the original Road-runner cartoons employed a piece called the Dance of the Comedians from Smetana's opera The Bartered Bride.

Book List Update

Liz at Truly Bad Films has jumped in on the multiple-choice books quiz and has added an additional interesting question:

11) Is it wrong to write in a book you own?

A. No - books are tools for expressing ideas.
B. Yes - books are sacred. Marking in them is disrespectful
C. It's ok to write in paperbacks only.

My answer is that there is nothing wrong with writing in books per se, but be careful what you write and who sees it. I went all through college armed with my mother's Riverside Shakespeare, industriously scribbling notes in the margins. At one point, we were examining the idea of communication between lovers in Midsummer Night's Dream and I wrote a note in the margin comparing this play's treatment of the subject with that in Romeo and Juliet. The note - next to some dialogue between Lysander and Hermia, said something like "But compare R&J, who can't comm."

Fast forward several years. I am in law school and have been dating the future Butcher's Wife for a few months. It just so happens my name begins with an "R" and hers begins with a "J". We had both just been cast in her school's production of Midsummer Night's Dream and she was idly flipping through my copy when lo and behold she stumbled across this note. Man did I have to do some fast talking!

YIPS from Steve: I mark up my books, but try just to use pencil.

Useless Book Game

A day late and a dollar short, perhaps, but I wanted to wait and do this in my library at home. Here's the deal:

1. Take five books off your bookshelf.
2. Book No. 1 -- first sentence.
3. Book No. 2 -- last sentence on page fifty.
4. Book No. 3 -- second sentence on page one hundred.
5. Book No. 4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty.
6. Book No. 5 -- final sentence of the book.
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph.

I took five books at random by criss-crossing the room with my eyes shut. Kept tripping over the ottomans. Anyway, here's the result:

For the first twenty-one of his no-quite thirty-seven years of life, Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was a resident of Ireland. He was a Whig, he was a bachelor, he was a gambler, he was immoral in every way, he was a man of no Church principle, a corrupter of youth, a sworn enemy of young wives, a swallower up of small men's patrimonies; a man whom mothers feared for their sons and sisters their brothers; and worse again, whom fathers had cause to fear for their daughters, and brothers their sisters; - a man who, with his belongings, dwelt, and must dwell, poles assunder from Lady Lufton and her belongings! Whereas Gaius Julius Caesar, the eldest son of Augustus has - as has been fervently prayed for - assumed in all its splendor the pure white toga (of manhood) in place of the purple-bordered toga (of youth), all men rejoice to see the prayers for his sons rising together to Augustus. Then a human oppression rose from the priest's worn clothes and mingled with the faint smell of old food in the corners. The hinge had turned.

1. Craig L. Symonds, Stonewall of the West - Patrick Cleburne and the Civil War
2. Anthony Trollope, Framely Parsonage
3. Kitty Chisholm & John Ferguson, Rome - The Augustan Age
4. F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Absolution" from Babylon Revisited and Other Stories
5. Winston S. Churchill, The Hinge of Fate

Thanks to Sheila.

YIPS from Steve: Sheila commands, I obey:

"Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways. 'Ah, I would say, sire, judging from what I heard, that General Hill thinks that, ah, Pettigrew is not a professional and tends to be overexcited and perhaps to exaggerate a bit.' With the revival of inherited opposition to France the ties to kindred began to tell; the memory of past alliance against the tyranny of Spain was recalled; and similarity of religious faith, still a powerful motive, drew the two together. But it was the Sixth and Twenty-fourth Corps that "could not cross," and so Humphreys stood up there before Lee's army in a very perilous position. Native American councils must always remember this admonition, for they are by no means secure from the ghosts of Tassels, Caldwell, and Forman."

The random stack sitting on the corner of my desk, some heading off on vacation with me next week, others needing to be reshelved:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azikaban, J.K. Rowling.
The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara.
The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, Alfred Thayer Mahan.
The Passing of the Armies, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin.
The Legal Ideology of Removal: The Southern Judiciary and the Sovereignty of Native American Nations, Tim Garrison.

(The last three are for different papers I'm working on, one on the role of Mahan and Frederick Jackson Turner on the new vision of the American Empire in the 1890s, the other on the legacy of a Supreme Court opinion from 1903 Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, which combines elements for Indian law of both Plessy v. Ferguson and Lochner v. New York, but has never been overturned or repudiated.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Butcher's Home Companion

Aaaah. I'm taking this evening off to do some of those things that a husband and father is supposed to be able to do when temporarily liberated from "indulg[ing] in the felicity of unbridled domesticity."

To wit, in case you're interested:

1. Miracle-Gro the flower garden. My gladiolas are all busting out now. (I distinctly remember ordering a mixed collection of bulbs, but for some reason got sent a set of all the same color - it's that kind of blazing orangy-red I think is known as "Chinese red" that Nancy Reagan is so fond of.) Also, my black-eyed susans are opening up. Very nice.

2. Rib-eye plus loaf of french bread plus hunk of sharp cheddar cheese equals Dad's Favorite Steak Sanglewhich.

3. Some time at the keyboard. Currently, I'm back to fiddling around with one of my favorite Haydn sonatas - No. 59 in E-flat Major, Hob. XVI:49, written in 1789. I particularly love the first movement Allegro- it is lively, inventive and playful in a way that very much reflects the trio sonatas Haydn wrote at about this same period (which I also love), and is in fact one of his most intellectually sophisticated piano movements as well. The second movement Adagio e cantabile is a dreamy 6/8 time meditation that, like the first movement, contains several hand crossings - something rather rare in Haydn's keyboard works. Alas, the finale Tempo di minuetto is short and rather lackluster, certainly not living up to the promise of the beginning of the piece. Then again, I don't have to play it if I don't want to.

4. P'raps a DVD, my Preciousssss? I recently got the final season of Monty Python's Flying Circus. While Cleese is gone, I think "The Ant" - with its Victorian Poetry Reading sketch and "When Does A Dream Begin" (aka "Up Your Pavement") - with its unintelligable banter and the other "Anything Goes" are two of the most consistently funny episodes they ever did. If I'm feeling a bit darker, I may pop in Brasil, easily one of the blackest comedies out there.

5. On the other hand, p'raps it's music we wantsssss. In fiddling around with that musical meme post yesterday, I commented on the absense of Brahms' Fourth Symphony from the list. Now I can't get the damn thing out of my head and may have to exorcise it this way. We'll see.

In the meantime, what should you do? Get thee to the Stone-Cold Jane Austen Smack Down Cage Match, that's what!

Yip at you later!

*NB - Just so I don't get in a world of hurt, I do get to do these things often - just not all in the same evening. Also, a break every now and then is nice, but I'd much rather have everyone at home, of course.

Today's Non-Austen-Smackdown-Related Required Reading

Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities has taken the trouble to compare a selection of critics' raves about Farenheit 9/11 with those same critics', er, ravings, about Mel Gibson's The Passion.

Hilarity ensues. No hot beverages please. Go over and read. Now.

HT to Taranto.

We interupt this legitimate intellectual exercise with this important announcement from the world of plastic figurine food art...

What a relief! A federal court has ruled that the "Barbie Enchiladas", described as follows:

The photos often depicted Barbie dolls placed in sexually provocative positions. One called "Barbie Enchiladas," shows four Barbie dolls inside a lit oven, wrapped in tortillas and covered with salsa in a casserole dish.

are art, and do not violate Mattel's intellectual property, and that Barbie's lawyers have to shell over $1.8 M in their thwarted yet valiant attempt to prevent their darling from being served up as an appetizer to a horde of hungry GI Joe's.

This is a banner day, for what is the first amendment supposed to protect other than the inalienable right to call the most ridiculous crap art? Oh yes, the right to publish sealed divorce records of Republican politicians (but oddly, not Democrats).


It's here. It's now. It's Ruuuuuuuuuumble Tiiiiiiime!!!

Presenting the challengers - First, Kathleen the Cakeeater brings your Elizabeth Bennett, star of Pride and Prejudice:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

And so begins Pride and Prejudice, a novel that has enthralled readers for almost two hundred years. The plot could be summarized thusly: how to bag a rich husband when you yourself are not rich. Women all over the world are still enslaved to this task. However, our young heroine Miss Elizabeth Bennet has a heavier load to bear than just trying to inveigle a man into buying her a beach house: she wants to be in love with her husband, and if the man just happens to be rich, well all the better, but it’s not really necessary. The odds are not in her favor, yet Lizzie succeeds. She bags Mr. Darcy and he loves her.

Why? Because Lizzie has character. She has strength. She knows what she wants. She’s not Wonder Woman, but she could be. And what a spectacular superheroine she’d be. There wouldn’t be any Peter Parker-ish quibbling over the heaviness of her burdens; there wouldn’t be any Batman-like whining about loneliness---although Alfred would undoubtedly hector her over the state of the Batmobile, just because he’s Alfred. She may not be able or fly above the skies of Metropolis, but Lex Luthor is a chump compared to Lady Catherine De Bourgh. You have to admit, on a super heroine level, Lizzie would make the League of Justice blush for all the whining they’ve done over the years. And she’s just looking for a husband---she’s not out to save the frickin’ world.

Yet, while our Lizzie possesses admirable qualities, the people she encounters are not charmed. They think her coarse and opinionated; that she does not know her station. While they plot against her, she never willfully blinds herself to their intentions, hence she is able to retaliate on her own terms. Lizzie chooses to be different: not simply to be contrary, but because she trusts her own heart and mind---and that makes her different. Whatever issues she may wrestle with, she is confident in her own abilities to suss out the situation in a rational manner. She is a woman of sense, not silliness.

Lizzie is admirable because she chooses a challenging path; Emma chooses to make her life more interesting by meddling in the affairs of others. There’s honestly no comparison between their virtues: Lizzie is far superior and is much more interesting to read about because the world conspires against her goal: to find a husband she loves and respects. Emma has nothing to lose and her blunders are of her own making, while Lizzie, by following her path, deliberately places herself in a precarious situation where to make a mistake would be to sabotage her entire future.

Who would you rather read about? A character who is naïve in the extreme? Or someone who knows the world is against her yet has the courage to follow through?

Next up! Robert the Llama Butcher gives you Emma Woodhouse of Emma fame:

There is a certain “pitchforks and torches” character to most criticism of Emma Woodhouse. This often takes the form of facile dismissal – Emma is a rich, selfish, thoughtless bitch: why should we care? More’s the pity, because in fact Emma is one of the most emotionally conducive figures in literature.

First of all, there are the charms that bind us to Emma in the opening chapters. Among these are her innate goodness, as illustrated by her happiness for the Westons’ marriage, her exertions to ensure her father’s comfort, and other smaller episodes. Indeed, it is critical to remember that in taking Harriet Smith under her wing, Emma genuinely believes – however wrongly – that she is doing a good thing.

Emma also is undoubtedly intelligent. Indeed, Mr. Knightly believes that her natural cleverness at an early age is a factor in her spoiled condition. But Emma’s intelligence is manifested in more than mere cleverness or competence. For example, her declamation to Harriet on why she (Emma) plans never to marry, despite containing a certain amount of posturing vanity, demonstrates a very clear understanding of the politics of marriage in her world. Second, I do not believe that Emma has a sudden epiphany about herself after the Box Hill incident. Rather, she is aware of her own shortcomings at a subconscious level from the very beginning, as illustrated by her constant attachment to Mr. Knightly despite the fact that he is the only character in the story who criticizes her - She seeks out his opinion because she knows this is good for her.

It is these qualities in Emma, together with her charm and beauty, that make us love her – and make us all the more emotionally involved in the fallout from her shortcomings, chief among which, of course, is her self-blinding vanity. We cringe on Emma’s behalf when she so cruelly dismisses poor Farmer Martin and nearly destroys Harriet. We wish to flash warning signals at her as she idly muses about Jane Fairfax and Mr. Dixon and dallies with the shadowy Frank Churchill. We howl with laughter at her surprised indignation over Mr. Elton’s feverish proposal in the carriage. We genuinely weep with her over her Box Hill disgrace. Finally, we feel Emma’s distress at the sudden horrid thought of losing Mr. Knightly and her painfully humbling realization that such loss would, indeed, be entirely her own fault.

And here, really, is why I enjoy Emma more than Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet is a paragon of virtues. But she comes pre-packaged. Elizabeth’s struggle is with the world around her. Emma’s struggle is within herself and we, the readers, are made an intimate part of it. We are not treated to an omniscient third-person view of Highbury. Rather, we see what Emma sees and what Emma ought to see. The pattern of growth in her character is mapped by the eventual merger of these two viewpoints in her eyes. The true joy of the novel is watching Emma’s progress and arrival.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there you have it - the battle of Austen Titans, Round One. Round Two will commence shortly! Stay tuned....

UPDATE: D'OH! I forgot to mention - comments! We want comments! Leave 'em here or with Kathleen. And go tell all your friends - you know how no one can resist a catfight!

More Sheila

What are your favorite words? Not words as concepts, but words as words, how they sound and taste and feel?

I'm going to have to go with


YIPS! from Robbo: Now that my girl is in the ring (scroll up), allow me to jump in with a few really woody words-

Bysshe (I know, I know, a proper name. But very useful.)

The list du jour

Reliable sources in the regulatory law world inform me that the long-awaited Jane Austen Smackdown! is about to begin.

So as another warm-up, here's today's blog list questionnaire, on, of course, books and bookstores (from the one and only Shelia O'Malley's, of course!)

1) What is your favorite type of bookstore?
A. A large chain that is well lit, stuffed full of books, and has a café.
B. A dark, rather dusty, used bookstore full of mysterious and vaguely organized books.
C. A local independent bookstore that has books by local authors and coffee.

"B" is the perfect description of Heartwood Books, a great used book store on Elliewood Avenue here in Charlottesville. Heartwood has been a gold mine the past year, as a large retirement community just opened catered towards university types. Net result: huge, and I mean HUGE personal library dumpage on the market. Think emeritus professors disposing of most of their private libraries. I bought an entire shelf of American Civil War stuff on one visit.

Yips from Robbo: Mmmmmmm....Heartwood Books. Mmmmmm. "B" for me, too. I hate large chains because I'm becoming increasingly sensative to the "blockbuster" flogging they do. When I need a standard, I just hit Amazon.com - the devil's own website.

2) What would excite you more?
A. A brand new book by your favorite author.
B. Finding a classic you've been wanting to read.
C. Receiving a free book from a friend in the mail.

"A" for right now, as I'm in a serial sort of mood and will read everything by an author I find and like. Granted, my preferences are all around the ballpark, so that it covers the Navy Seal novels of Richard Marcinko as much as classic or "real" literature.

Robbo: "B" please. I'm still way behind on my classics....

3) What's your favorite format?
A. Novel
B. Short story
C. Poetry

"A" novels, by far. I'm a philistine as poetry has never really done anything for me. I like short stories--I have a colleague who published a collection last year (The House on Belle Island) which were awesome, but I like the room for character development that the novel affords.

Robbo: I'll agree with Steve-O on this one. Poetry has to be especially good - like Milton or Keats - before I take much interest.

4) Favorite format, part II.
A. Contemporary fiction.
B. Classic novels.
C. Genre (mystery, espionage, etc.)

"C" I'm a genre guy, as is probably clear from my how should we say, ah yes, diverse blogging interests.

Robbo: B. Contemporary fiction is produced by, well, contemporaries. And we live in a Tinsel Age.

5) Favorite format, part III (none of the above) Fiction or non?
A. Almost entirely fiction.
B. Almost entirely non-fiction.
C. A mix of both.

"C" I'm particularly a fan of the good non-fiction science writing of the past decade, since Longitude caused such a stir and opened up that market.

Robbo: "C" as well. I keep my fiction on one side of the library, non-fiction on the other, and generally ping-pong back and forth.

6) Does the design and condition of the book matter?
A. Yes, I love a well designed book and keep mine in mint condition.
B. No, the words are what matter.
C. Yes and no, I appreciate good design and treat my books with respect but I am not obsessive about it.

"C" I agree with Sheila on this: I really like good font selection, and when a book has that great combination of font, paper, size proportionality, and cover design, hey that's great. But some of my favorite books are beaten and completely cracked-spine paperbacks.

Robbo: "C" - Steve-O and Sheila are right. You should see my poor old copy of The Irish R.M.

7) On average how many books do you read a month?
A. I am lucky to read one.
B. I am dedicated. I read 4 or 5.
C. I am a fiend. I read 10 or more!

"B" counting for work, C, just for myself, between A & B. I usually average out to about 2-3 novels a month.

Robbo: Probably "B" although it comes and goes depending on what else I've got on my plate. Throw in children's books and I'm off the graph.

8) Do you prefer to own or borrow?
A. There is a particular joy in owning a book. I have a large library.
B. Why spend money when you can read it for free? I use the public library.
C. Different tools for different job. I do both.

"C" I own a lot of books, but I love our public library. It's in a little former train station, in that classic early 20th century train station design replete with the name "CROZET" on the side by where the platform would be. The collection there is small, but we're part of a large regional library system that can get you most anything in a day or three.

Robbo: "A" - I hate borrowing books.

9) Where do you get (the majority) your book news?
A. Newspapers.
B. Magazines.
D. Blogs.


Robbo: "A" "B" and "D". I certainly don't get any such news from the tee-vee.

10) Are books a professional obsession?
A. Yes, I work in the field (writer, reviewer, publisher, teacher, etc.).
B. No, I do it for fun.
C. Kinda, I write the occasional review but have a regular job outside of books.

"A" but as is clear I have a number of obsessions, some of them not even having anything to do whatsoever with the movies of Kurt Russell.

Robbo: "B" - the professional book I read most? The freakin' Code of Federal Regulations. Are you kidding me?

Run! Ruuuuuuun!!!!

Ever wondered how you would fare if faced with one of those on-coming Hollywood dangers like a tornado, bees or the Undead?

Well wonder no longer because here is a nifty little chart that matches the speed of Man with the speed of Big Scary Things That Kill People In Movies. Bottom line - don't waste your money on track shoes.

Thanks to John who got it from Alan Brain.

The latest surprise from Iraq

Washington Post: Saddam to be handed over to Iraqis Wednesday, charges to be filed Thursday. Trial to begin shortly, one would assume.

All I can say is Johnnie Cochran, call your office.

"The mass graves are a Nit,

so you must acquit!"

Seriously, this is fabulous, assuming the security situation is airtight. What better way to change the storyline inside Iraq as well as around the world than to put Saddam on trial to show what a monster he was.


So no one pulls a hammie during Smackdown, I thought a little warm-up poll would do some good. I tried to get it to sit over in the right column, but no dice. As soon as our current traffic wave from the Fahrenheit 12/7 poster link subsides, we'll make the leap over to Moo-knew and such troubles will be a thing of the past.

Who is the best Austen character?
Elizabeth Bennett
Emma Woodhouse
Mr. Darcy
Mr. Bingley
Stone Cold "Steve" Austin


Free polls from Pollhost.com

It's Gettysburg week in Llama world

First week of June is DDay week, second week is end of school week, third is US Open week, fourth is solstice week.

The last week of June is Gettysburg week.

One hundred forty one years ago this week, the Army of Northern Virginia was banging around central Pennsylvania, staggering around blind while "the eyes and ears of the Army" was diddling around coming up the wrong way. Meanwhile, an untested yet thorougly crusty general was taking command of the Army of the Potomac, George Gordon Meade.

As I do this week each year, I'm re-reading Shelby Foote's masterpiece "Stars in Their Courses," which is just a section of his great triology on the Civil War. Stars in their Courses I think might be the best single work of history I've ever read. It is a perfect example of how something can be at once beautiful and terrible at the same time, a concept familiar to our ancestors but lost in our neon age. Back when "awesome" meant something literally so beautiful and powerful that it made you drop to the floor to hide your eyes in fear.

Later in the week, I'll read Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels. Chamberlin's speech to the mutineers from the other Maine regiment always makes me cry. I always also enjoy how he had to lie to his Dean to get a sabbatical to enlist in the Army. Talk about a different age.

Turnaround is fair play, Punk

In the lead-up to the War last year, France, through some rather dastardly back-channel bribery, convinced Turkey to not let the United States launch offensive ground troops from its territory. The 4 ID, which was supposed to launch from Turkey, had to reposition and redeploy via sea to Kuwait. The Hammer of 4ID was supposed to strike the anvil of the "Rock of the Marne" 3ID west of Baghdad, in the Sunni Triangle.

The rest, as they say, is history.

So how does the United States repay its former ally France for its "diplomacy?"

Why, have the president of the United States demand to know, while EU and NATO leaders are meeting in Turkey, when Turkey--the only Muslim democracy in the world--will be made a full member of the EU? When exactly, Jacques?

Needless to say, Chirac blew a gasket.

That's the funny thing about those simplistic cowboys from Texas---how do they keep winding up on top with their enemies hogtied?

The inability to implement the original war plan hurt us over the course of the last year. However, having Turkey in the EU will hurt France much more over the decades AND CENTURIES to come. Let's make that a central part of our diplomacy towards Europe--that, together with moving NATO headquarters east to Prague or Warsaw.

Oh, and open up the visa programs offering unlimited green cards to people with technical skills and training from European countries which have worked to undermine us. Back when I was in France, the most viciously anti-American, anti-Semitic person I might was a bona fide aristocrat, a countess, who was sneering, simpering, and a royal bitch. I did my best Mark Twain impersonation and had fun with her, as much as could be allowed given that she was the hostess at a dinner and I was seated directly across from her. (What made it particularly hilarious was that a critical part of her snobbery was based in the fact that her husband is a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, the fraternal order of descendants of French officers who fought in the American Revolution. Needless to say I had fun with that, noting that there was a trailer park in our town that bore their last name, so I wondered if they had distant relatives they hadn't met. For some reason, our guide failed to translate "trailer park" correctly). But, the true source of her anti-Americanism became clear half way through dinner: when the conversation turned to her children, it turned out that the Comtesse was bitter because......both her sons work and live in America, and that her grandchildren are----MON DIEU!---American citizens. Seems that the boys, highly educated at home, couldn't get work that challenged them or provided opportunity in the here and now, so they both followed three centuries of European tradition and headed to the states to find freedom, opportunity, and fun. Both married Americans, and both aren't coming back.


HTML experiment

I'm playing with the popup image commands, so let's see if it works:

here's the note Condi passed to W yesterday

I'm sure somewhere in the National Archives there's a similar note from John Hay to Lincoln, saying something equally pithy like "Mr. President--Atlanta has surrendered. John" I'm not sure whether this will be the equivalent for the election of 2004 what the fall of Atlanta was for the election of 1864, but I think it's pretty clear (at least to me) that the dynamics of the whole situation have now changed. The early handover was brilliant, as it completely disrupted whatever plans the terrorists had for tomorrow (not to mention forcing the Koppels and al-Jazeera to rewrite the story arcs for the week). Yet, I have a strong hunch the surprises aren't over: Bush is still just a 90 minute flight away from Baghdad in Turkey...

Random Commuter Thoughts In Which Only I Am Interested (Probably)

Seen on the back of a Susuki SUV on the way in this morning, vanity plates that read:


"For you to envy us"? Lock photon torpedoes, Mr. Checkov.

Monday, June 28, 2004

What's that you say, Herr Doktor Shackleford?

Our old pal Rusty Schackleford at My Pet Jawa constructs an amusing post detailing the seven deadly sins of blogging, of course designed around the cardinal virtue of blogging, which of course is link whoring. The Llama Butchers get tagged, of course, with the odd penance of a couple of Hail Marys and assorted Our Fathers. First of all, what's this English crap? If you want to make us bleed, make us do them in Latin! Second, I don't want to go all Judd Nelson in Breakfast Club on you Rusty, but is that all you've got? Wuss. We've been endangering our blogging souls regularly when you were still reading "Cathy" online, thinking how fun it would be to tell complete strangers the whole truth about how you like to kill cute, fluffy bunnies in the service of your Dark Sith Lord John Ashcroft.

See if I invite you to Robbo's 40th birthday bash in Las Vegas!

PS (special to Rusty): I'm going to tell Howard on you!!!!

Your one stop shopping for blogging insanity

Top two posts over at the Geek Empire right now are a quiz on which historical lunatic are you?, and what's in his zombie survival pack.

Geek empire---it's kind of like Lileks on electro-shock treatments that aren't quite working.

(And that, of course, is a compliment.)

Signs that things are breaking your way

So I popped into "All things Jen" a funny new blog Robbo had pointed out, and promptly got a pop-up ad for Red Lobster! Sweet!

Anyhoo, Jen's feeling a bit jumbled upon turning the big three-oh, so drop on by and give her some of that Tasty Bits (TM) love. She's got five goals for the week which include the usual get a new job blah blah sort of stuff, but number 3 is to become a slithering reptile in the TLLB. Ambition, thy name is Jen!

"What we have here is a failure to communicate."

The sign that Zaraqwai's getting desparate is the insane decision to execute an American Marine. Oddly enough, the con law professor list-serv I subscribe to, which clogged my email box with a 100+ posts a day during Abu Grahib, is oddly silent on the issue.

Fortunately, as can be expected, Blackfive is not quiet, and is posting a letter from a Marine in Iraq to the insurgents. Short version: update your life insurance. Long version: take my word for it, click and read the whole thing.

Stone-Cold Jane Austen has met her match

Michele Catalano confesses why she secretly desires to be a biker chick. All I know is Paul Sr. could wipe the floor with Darcy any day of the week and twice during Sweeps Week.

Some days I really and truly love the internet.

Iraqi bloggers on their Independence Day

Michele has the full roundup.

Sad, but it's not like it's a surprise or anything...

The latest on the Olsen Twins, as one of them is in the hospital with "Callista Flockhart-itis." Which makes my post below with them pshopped as hostages taken at the Damascus premiere of "Triumph of the Shrill" that much more in bad taste. Errg.

We're presenting this Olsen-update only as a public service to cheer up INDC Bill, who's still recovering from his run-in with blogger Andrew "love dem Bears!" Sullivan:

boo boo indc.jpeg

Let's just say Bill's not going to be sleeping between the Winnie the Pooh sheets any time soon....

Bill's feeling down about all us ingrates who laugh yet don't hit the tip jar: I once saw a mime holding a toy Uzi, gesturing at the hat set out for tips at South Street Seaport in NYC. Let's just say that Bill's in a similar mood: right now he's a pissed off, heavily-armed mime.

My advice? Hit the tip jar and back away slooooooooowly.....

(Seriously, he's got a good cause over there, rather than the usual venal stuff that goes on with those types of things).

Trying to be cranky, but it's not working

I've been trying to download the Supreme Court detention cases, but Adobe PDF keeps crashing my computer---or, actually, freezing it up for a good long time. Whenever the program opens, it searches for updates, and this has the effect more often than not to bring things to a screeching halt. I want to do a piece "The Hanson Brothers interpret the Supreme Court," featuring the Hanson brothers from Slapshot, but that might take time.

Today was somewhat of a wash---our college administration moved us to new offices, which is great in theory as the old office was smaller than a penalty box, and the new one is quite spacious and has a fireplace even. But, it's in an old dormitory they were renovating, and my hunch is they ran out of money. Anyhoo, they moved us back when I was in France a month ago, and we still don't have any bookshelves. So, I can't unpack. Furthermore, the only phone jack that works is a good distance from the desk. And the computer network, I have on very good authority, is screwed because they used a top dollar indoor line to go in the underground tube connecting us to the other buildings. I have a good feeling someone's brother-in-law was involved in the transaction. Why they couldn't just go wireless is beyond my comprehension.

Anyhoo, all that silliness aside it was a beautiful day. The garden is producing some serious tomatos--we got our first slicers out at the end of last week, and the zuccini bread is first rate. The kids and I played Monopoly when I got home.

My first cut on the decisions I think is actually good news for the administration: I have a hunch that this will allow them to find the way out of the thicket that they got themselves quite legitimately into on this matter. It's time for the tribunals to go forward. I am also stunned in a good way over the transfer of power, and how that completely messes with the timetable and themes of both the media and the terrorists. That Churchill line has been going through my head about this being the end of the beginning.

As for that asshat Michael Moore, he'll get his in the end. Give him credit for the creation of the best documentary since "Triumph of the Will" and with about the same moral power. I think we should all congratulate him by having a bucket of the colonel's finest extra greasy sent to his apartment in NYC.

I wonder if I can get Crisco to deliver a truckload?

Stone-Cold Jane Austen Cage Match - UPDATE!

Thanks for the thousands of email inquiries as to when we're going to start the damn show - your continued interest is gratifying.

I've got a meeting to get to in a while. If it doesn't run over too late, I should be able to spend a pleasant evening putting my contribution in final form. (I've always been one of those people who thinks about a subject for a long time and then writes down what I want to say fairly quickly.) If it does go long, I think I can still finish up at lunchtime tomorrow. So I believe we're on.

Before we actually go into the Cage, tho, I wanted to thank Kathleen for working this thing up with me. Too often we have these great ideas that want airing out, but don't really have any place to do so. (Try a 500 word discussion of Jane Austen heroines at the average cocktail party some time and see how far that gets you.) Using the blogsphere and a little game of friendly rivalry, we've created the framework to do so in a manner that I, at any rate, haven't had a chance to enjoy since college. I've really had lots of fun working on this project.

Also, I'm going to tip my hand a bit here and say a few things ahead of time:

1. Despite all the trash talk last week, to me, at any rate, the difference in merit between Elizabeth Bennett and Emma Woodhouse is really a matter of inches. To say that I prefer Emma to Elizabeth is no more of a condemnation of Elizabeth than is saying that I prefer Mozart's "Prague" Symphony to his "Linz" a condemnation of the latter piece of music. In each case, we're talking about a choice of masterpieces from someone head and shoulders above everyone else. So I have no real interest in trying to talk Elizabeth down, and will instead concentrate on why I enjoy Emma so much.

2. Kathy may well have a different approach. Emma is the type of character who genuinely infuriates some people, even devoted Austen readers, without also engaging their affections. That's cool, because we're also doing rebuttals. Any attack on my Emma will be repulsed with heavy loss.

3. I find that it's very difficult to talk about the merits of a fictional character solely as a person and not as a literary creation as well. So my theme is not going to be "Why I think Emma Woodhouse is such a wonderful woman." Instead, it's going to be "Why I enjoy reading about Emma Woodhouse" (although certainly a strong part of that theme is "Why I care about Emma Woodhouse" as well). And although we agreed ahead of time on no outside sources to aid our arguments, I think it's not out of bounds to discuss our heroines in the context of other literary works, so long as we're still using only our own brains. When I get done, I want you to know why I like Emma. To know that, you need to know something about my tastes and what else I've read.

4. The notion that I like Emma so much because I identify with Mr. Knightly is of course, and despite the suggestion of the Butcher's Wife to the contrary, ridiculous.

5. Even from here, I can sense Steve-O's genuine urge to post something about me that contains the words "Spandex" and "DuPont Circle". Fight it, Man. Fight it.

See you in the Cage!

YIPS from Steve: Moi? I am SO hurt by these accusations. I am the sole of discretion in such matters....

I mean, right now I am searching the internet desparately to find just the right picture of Colin Firth to pshop onto the head of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, as he crashes down from the top rope onto the head of Alan Rickman, pshopped onto the body of Sgt. Slaughter. Spandex, hmmph!

Ha! Another Favorites Boldies List!

Oh, you know I can't resist these things. And this time, it's classical music! I'm going to vary things a bit - I'll bold the pieces I know, or at least have heard several times all the way through. I'll italicize those of which I've heard bits and pieces or not often enough to really sink in. As always, I reserve the right to hurl gratuitous commentary.

Ready? Here we go:

1. Handel, Messiah - My parents and I used to sing this at home to an ancient recording every Christmas Eve. My favorite chorus of the piece has always been "For Unto Us A Child Is Born."
2. Handel, Water Music
3. J.S. Bach, Brandenburg Concerti - I'm especially partial to the 5th because of the long keyboard solo in the 1st movement, which I from time to time play.
4. J.S. Bach, The Passion According to St. Matthew - For some reason, I've never heard this.
5. J.S. Bach, Toccata and fugue in D-minor - I'm not sure what the original rules were, but in my game the Leopold Stokowski orchestration doesn't count. We don't want to encourage that.
6. Vivaldi, The Four Seasons - I remember the first time I heard a period instrument performance of this. Wow, what a difference.
7. Pergolesi, Stabat Mater
8. Haydn, Symphony No. 104 in D "London" - I love all of Haydn's London symphonies (he wrote 12 altogether). My current favorite is No. 101, "The Clock."
9. Haydn, The Creation
10. Mozart, Requiem
11. Mozart, Le Nozze di Figaro - I can never make up my mind whether this, Don Giovanni or Cosi fan Tutte is the greatest opera ever written. Tough call.
12. Mozart, Die Zauberflote - Frankly, I think it's kinda silly. And in German.
13. Mozart, Symphony No. 40 in G-minor - I'm not as crazy about this piece as many people. My favorite mature Mozart symphony has been and always shall be No. 38, the "Prague."
14. Mozart, Sinfonia concertante for violin, viola and orchestra - Delightful.
15. Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 in E-flat "Eroica"
16. Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 in C-minor - Despite all the hype and overexposure, this symphony really is as great as its reputation.
17. Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 in D-minor - I have to admit that I've never liked the choral bits. The scherzo movement is probably my favorite.
18. Beethoven, Piano sonata No. 8 in C-minor "Pathetique" - I play this myself, usually with as many histrionic gestures as I can jam in. We call it the "Pathetic" Sonata 'round the Butcher's House.
19. Beethoven, Piano sonata No. 29 in B-flat "Hammerklavier"
20. Rossini, Overture to "Guillaume Tell" - You can't cheat and claim this one if you've only heard the "Lone Ranger" finale.
21. Schubert, Symphony no. 9 in C-major "The Great" - I really enjoy this piece despite its structural problems. Good length for smoking a cigar.
22. Schubert, Quintet in A for Piano and Strings "Trout"
23. Weber, Der Freischutz - Well, the overture anyway.
24. Donizetti, Norma
25. Berlioz, Symphonie fantastique
26. Berlioz, Harold in Italy
27. Berlioz, Romeo et Juliet
28. Berlioz, Grande messe des mortes
29. Berlioz, La Damnation de Faust
30. Mendelssohn, Concerto in E-minor for violin and orchestra
31. Mendelssohn, Symphony no. 4 in A "Italian" - Why so much Berlioz, but Mendelssohn's Scotch Symphony doesn't make the list?
32. Mendelssohn, Symphony no. 5 in D "Reformation"
33. Mendelssohn, Overture and incidental music to "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
34. Schumann, Concerto in A-minor for piano and orchestra
35. Schumann, Symphony No. 3 in E-flat "Rhenish"
36. Schumann, Symphony No. 4 in D-minor - I've heard all of Schumann's symphonies. This has always been my favorite.
37. Liszt, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 - A self-absorbed show-off and not at all a nice man.
38. Liszt, Les Preludes for orchestra
39. Brahms, Symphony No. 1 in C-minor - Toss up whether this or the 4th is my favorite.
40. Brahms, Symphony No. 2 in D
41. Brahms, Academic Festival Overture
42. Brahms, A German Requiem
43. Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen - Yes, bits and pieces only. German romantic opera bores me to tears.
44. Wagner, Lohengrin- Overture only.
45. Wagner, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg - Overture only.
46. Verdi, La Traviata - Overture and a few bits and pieces.
47. Verdi, Rigoletto - Bits and pieces. Italian romantic opera also bores me to tears. It also gives me a bloated feeling.
48. Verdi, Aida
49. Offenbach, The Tales of Hoffman
50. Franck, Symphony in D-minor - I'm sure at some point, but just don't recall enough.
51. Smetana, The Moldau (Symphonic poem No. 2 from "Ma Vlast")
52. Bruckner, Symphony No. 4 in E-flat "Romantic"
53. J. Strauss II, Tales of the Vienna Woods
54. J. Strauss II, On the Beautiful Blue Danube - sound of head banging against table, hoping to end it all.
55. Saint-Saens, Symphony No. 3 in C-minor "Organ"
56. Saint-Saens, The Carnival of the Animals)
57. Bizet, Carmen - Only the suite.
58. Mussorgsky, A Night on Bald Mountain
59. Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition - This is actually a keyboard piece. Ravel's orchestration is what most folks hear these days. One of the few instances I know where the orchestration actually improved the piece. Nonetheless, I have the keyboard score and occassionally stumble through some of the dances.
60. Tchaikovsky, Romeo And Juliet Festival Overture
61. Tchaikovsky, Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor for piano and orchestra - further sound of head banging against table, hoping to end it all.
62. Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker - We used to watch that old Barishnikov production on PBS every Christmas religiously when I was a kid. This is a great intro ballet for children.
63. Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 5 in E-minor
64. Sullivan, The Mikado
65. Sullivan, HMS Pinafore - I'm pretty sure I can sing almost all of it.
66. Dvorak, Symphony No. 9 in E-minor "From the New World"
67. Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherazade
68. Faure, Requiem
69. Puccini, La Boheme- Merciful God in Heaven Above - Nooooooo!!!!

70. Puccini, Tosca - See above.
71. Puccini, Madama Butterfly - Very much see above.
72. Mahler, Symphony No. 2 in C-minor "Resurrection" - I've heard bits and pieces of Mahler's works, but not enough to I.D. any of them.
73. Mahler, Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor
74. Debussy, Prelude on the Afternoon of a Faun
75. Debussy, La Mer - You can do an awful lot worse than having to listen to Debussy. But please - small quantities only.
76. Strauss, Death and Transfiguration - No, thanks.
77. Strauss, Also Sprach Zarathustra - Only the "2001" bit. Doesn't count.
78. Strauss, Don Quixote
79. Sibelius, Finlandia
80. Dukas, The Sorceror's Apprentice
81. Scriabin, Symphony No. 4 "La Poeme de l'extase"
82. Vaughan Williams, The Lark Ascending
83. Vaughan Williams, Symphony No. 2 "London" - I've never sat still for a Vaughan Williams symphony. I like some of his incidental music, but enough is enough.
84. Vaughan Williams, Symphony No. 5 in D-Major
85. Holst, The Planets - "Mars" and "Jupiter" are the only ones really worth listening to, IMHO.
86. Rachmaninov, Concerto No. 2 in C-minor for piano and orchestra - Still more sound of head banging against table, hoping to end it all.
87. Rachmaninov, Symphony No. 2 in E-minor
88. Rachmaninov, Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini
89. Schoenberg, Transfigured Night - No, thanks.
90. Schoenberg, Five pieces for orchestra - See above.
91. Ravel, Daphnis et Chloe
92. Ravel, Concerto in D-Major for piano (left hand) and orchestra
93. Bartok, Concerto for Orchestra
94. Respighi, The Pines of Rome - Just so long as it's not "The Birds." I HATE "The Birds."
95. Stravinsky, Petrouchka
96. Stravinsky, The Firebird
97. Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring
98. Stravinsky, Symphony of Psalms
99. Berg, Wozzeck
100. Berg, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
101. Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet
102. Prokofiev, Symphony No. 5 in B-flat
103. Ives, The Unanswered Question - I don't like Ives.
104. Milhaud, The Creation of the World
105. Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue
106. Gershwin, An American in Paris
107. Copland, A Lincoln Portrait
108. Copland, Appalachian Spring - Copeland came to our house once when I was a little boy. I had fallen asleep and didn't get to meet him, but we've still got an autograph somewhere. Reports are that he was a cantakerous old sh*t.
109. Hanson, Symphony No. 2 "Romantic"
110. Korngold, Concerto in D-Major for violin and orchestra
111. Shostakovich, Symphony No. 5 in D-minor
112. Shostakovich, Symphony No. 8 in C-minor
113. Finzi, Concerto in C-minor for clarinet and strings
114. Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time
115. Messiaen, Turangalila Symphony

Thus, I think you get a pretty good idea of where my tastes lie. I'm curious why the list is so top-heavy with second and third rate moderns when so many older names don't make it. How 'bout Monteverdi? Or Couperin? Or Purcell? Or Telemann? (Ed. - Don't like it? Get yer own damn list! - Yeah, you're right.)

Thanks to Lynn.

YIPS from Steve: What? No REO Speedwagon or Rush? Dude!?

Gratuitous Cranky Mozart Posting

In this case, it's more like gratuitous cranky Mozart-mutilation posting. I've always thought the likes of Peter Sellars who delight in "updating" Mozart's operas with stunt staging to be (how to put this delicately?) self-promoting pond scum. (Yes, that will do.)

Well, it appears that where I condemn others seek to emulate. Comes now a report of a
new production of the delightful 1782 Singspiel Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio) by a Spanish director named Calixto Bieito.

Not content with leaving Belmonte, Konstanze and their fellow captives in an 18th Century Turkish palace, Senor Bieito seems compelled to move the company "to a brothel, full of forced prostitution, drug abuse and violence." Very nice.

Have you always been a bit bored with the drinking duet of Pedrillo and Osmin? No worries! Apparently the new production includes an onstage massacre of prostitutes, just to liven things up a bit! Always thought Konstanze's marathon aria "Marten aller Arten­" was rather tedious? Dude! She was sooooo stoned! Pasha Selim - decent, honorable Oriental monarch or Major Pimp Daddy - you be the judge!

Yeah, nothing like taking Mozart's joyous little gem and setting it inside a wretched hive of scum and villiany. Just what it needed to make it (of course) relevant. Well bloody done!

Gangerl must be spinning somewhere.

Having Your Yellowcake And Eating It Too

Well whaddaya know?

The year's at the spring
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
Joseph Wilson's a partisan horse's ass;
Iraq did try to buy uranium from Niger:
God's in His heaven—
All's right with the world!

The trouble with this is that the Niger/yellowcake/Wilson/CIA/Plamegame star is already so firmly fixed in the firmament of Accepted Truths by the anti-anti-Saddam astrologers, that there is no way they are going to let it fall to earth now. (Think not? - Joshua Micah Marshall is already, what?, re-poo-pooing the story.)

HT to Jeff Goldstein.


Try to be nice, get slapped with penance. I suppose if we don't perform said acts of contrition, we go to Circle Number Four of Blogger Hell.

This Jawan Bull brought to you by Dr. Rusty.

The best material being written on Iraq today

One of the great mysteries to me about the blogosphere today is not who is Allahpundit---because of course, He is nothing more than the embodiement of the Creator of Worlds Himslef--but rather who is writing under the name "Wretchard" at Belmont Club.

If you are not reading Wretchard religiously, you can't begin to make sense of what is going on in the world today.

Reading Belmont Club is like reading Parameters in real time. Remember that old saw about journalism at the NYT being the first draft of history? Well, that was a crock. But Belmont Club is the real thing.

Case in point, the whole counter-offensive this spring, in Fallujah and with Moqutada al-Sadr. Wretchard's analysis was right on the money strategically and tactically.

So check out the latest over there:

is NATO moribund as an alliance?

Grudging media respect for the strategy and tactics that defeated al-Sadr and why Fallujah was fought the way it was.

While the idiots in the mainstream media still look to Stalingrad and Mogadishu as analogies, what the US and the insurgents have learned from the Russian war in Chechnya not to mention the Soviet War (remember them?) in Afghanistan. This analysis will probably become required reading at Carlyle Barracks.

The weakness in Zarqawi's strategy, and how we are exploiting it.

And probably the single best thing I've read about US domestic politics so far this year.

So, go and read what Ralph Peter's was capable of before he started bitching about the wrong type of pineapple dip in the green room at Fox.


Speaking of Parameters, the journal of the Army War College, the summer issue is in. I haven't had a chance to read any of these yet, but the titles alone look well worth the effort:

"Counterinsurgency lessons from Vietnam and other small wars" by Robert Cassiday

"The Army's Dilemma"
by Gordon and Sollinger
"Overreliance on Technology in War: the Case of the Yom Kippur War" by Robert Bolia

and most importantly

"Serving a Nation at War: A Campaign Quality Army with Joint and Expeditionary Capabilities" by LES BROWNLEE and PETER J. SCHOOMAKER, the acting Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff.


What a beautiful weekend!

And what a neck-turner in Iraq, getting inside the decision curve.

Big thing around here is the long-awaited move over to mu.nu is imminent: the new address is going to be


We'd been hung up for a couple of weeks by a persistent design bug that was not letting us post---I finally figured out what it was, and so we should be ready to roll in another couple of days. Let us know what you think of the design as well as any features you'd like to see. We're still messing around with colors and fonts and what not, so don't mind the saw dust.


Let me just add one follow-up to the post below: Because I was too jangled to get to sleep last night and because it was there, I dialed in to the pay-per-view showing of Return of the King. My first viewing.

I can think of not a single good thing to say about this movie. And I will just say one bad thing:

One of the most dramatic points of the entire novel is the high tide of the siege of Minas Tirith. The doors are blown apart by Grond, the giant battering ram, and in rides the Lord of the Nazgul. Facing him across the space before the gate is Gandalf on Shadowfax. The two face off, Good vs. Evil, the power of Evil waxing to its fullest, the power of Good steady but hanging by its last thread. The Nazgul is just about to move forward in triumph when suddenly somewhere nearby a cock crows, heralding the dawn that cannot be seen owing to the Darkness that has spread over Gondor. At that moment, as if in response, the horns of the Rohirrim are heard in the distance, heralding the (literal) last-minute arrival of the cavalry. "Horns, horns, horns," goes the line. The Nazgul vanishes. Pippin, who witnesses the whole thing, is later never able to hear a horn blowing in the distance without tearing up.

The Battle of the Pelennor Field that follows, though dramatic in itself, has nothing of the power of this moment that proceeds it. And if ever there was a scene in a novel that could be translated into a screenplay by a two year old, this is it. Needless to say, the whole thing was totally ignored by the movie.


Stumbly Llama Monday Morning

Not too much to say this morning. Yesterday, I packed the Butcher's Wife and the Llama-ettes off on one of their periodic visits to relatives scattered about southern Connecticut, Westchester and Lon Gyland.

As much as I joke about getting to wallow in a few days of renewed bachelorhood and peace and quiet, I miss them as soon as they leave. Also, as is my perogative, I spent the day yesterday worrying a great deal about them being on the road and waiting for the phone to ring to let me know they arrived safely. The result of all this is that last night, as with every first night they are gone, I got very little sleep.

Of course, because the Gods have a cruel sense of humor, our hit quotient is going through the roof this morning. This is because Steve-O spent the weekend closeted with his favorite combo of paint thinner and photoshop. So don't mind me - just croll on down and wallow in the insanity.

Jane Austen Cage Match Update Plus Bonus Llama PSA

This is just to let all of you eagerly dialing in today to see the Cat-Fight of the Millennium between Stone-Cold Elizabeth Bennett and Emma The Rock Woodhouse that we're postponing the smackdown for a day or two owing to too much stuff going on in my corner. My worthy opponent, Kathleen the Cake Eater has been more than gracious in granting an extension.

To show our appreciation and because it's a good cause anyway, I heartily urge that you please go see this post by Kathleen regarding her nephew James and an upcoming Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walkathon. It's a very worthy cause and our experience of the blogsphere is that you guys are a very decent and generous bunch of people. We hope you'll consider chipping in and/or spreading the word about this event.

Thanks to all! Yip! Yip! Yip!

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Mon dieu! How did I miss that one?

Tainted Bill of course remembers June 23rd, a proud day in the history of France.

Another satisfied customer!

moore fan.jpg

Remember the things you need to keep in mind to enjoy Fahrenheit 9/11:

1. Al Quaida came into existence January 21, 2001.

2. The World Trade Center was certainly not attacked in 1993, nor were our embassies bombed in Africa, nor the Khobar Barracks bombed in Saudi Arabia, nor the USS Cole attacked when Bill Clinton was busy shagging the help. Nut-uh, didn't happen.

3. Afghanistan didn't go to hell because of the Soviet invasion of that country on Christmas Day 1979, because there was no Soviet Union. Duh, communism has never really been tried, so never really failed. The Soviet Union was just another form of rapacious capitalism, like WalMart and jock itch.

4. Jimmy Carter's presidency never welcomed the coup in Iraq that brought Saddam to power, nor was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the fault of Carter's feckless foreign policy. See #3.

5. Iraq/Saddam was armed by Amerika, so ignore the fact that their military sported Soviet made hardware. See #3.


damascus premiere.jpg

Tragedy struck the Damascus, Syria, premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11, as special guest-of-the-director Michael Moore's long-time skeet shooting buddy and al-Quaida terrorist Mohammad al-Bingaling, feeling festive, decided to celebrate by taking the Olsen Twins hostage, and threatening to behead them if "the criminal Zionist gangster isn't soon replaced by that earnest and forthright man of the people John Kerry, who you know served valiantly in Vietnam, and if the second season of "Saved by the Bell" isn't released on DVD forthright."

Mr. Moore, reached in Tehran, where he's planning his new documentary "To Truly Hate America, You Must Also Hate Jimmy Carter. Really" had no comment, other than punching the cameraman and demanding "DON'T YOU BASTARDS RESPECT ANYONE'S PRIVACY?" Later his spokesman issued a statement that "the fact that Mr. Moore's epic new documentary is being hailed throughout the Middle East and that Mr. Moore personally eats the livers of children murdered by Fatah thugs, does not have any bearing on the evil that is George Bush or the fact that everyone on the Today Show, noted source of journalistic integrity and objectivity that it is, loves this movie!"

YIKES! A woman of courage at last!

Rae over at Like the Language is trying to kick coffee AND twinkies at the same time!

Shiver me timbers, it hurts even thinking about it..... I remember when I went cold turkey on Diet Doctor Pepper New Years Day 1998---I felt like I had all seven dwarfs plus Gimli's tribe burrowing into my cranium via my sinus cavity using those giant drilling caterpillars that they used in "SuperFriends" to tunnel to the center of the earth to fight some bad guys (which were than cheaply stolen conceptually in Matrix Trois). Bbbblllahew.

Good luck, Rae!

Friday, June 25, 2004

Hollywood Total Access with the LLAMABUTCHERS!

We get you behind the scenes at the Fahrenheit Cast Party

fahrenheit cast party.jpg

"Excellency Lord Hutt, there is a man here, named Shaitan, he's here for your soul"

"BURP! Send him in! AND GET ME A BUCKET!"

(annoying robot droid noises, coupled with a sexy purr from Jabba Moore's sex slave, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Looney Tunes))

That's right......Nancy Pelosi in the Princess Leia slave-girl suit....try getting THAT image out of your cornea.

I'd suggest Drain-o and a wire brush, or as Robbo would say, "it burnssss, it burnssss, hobbittses are tricksy!"


Why did Steve pshop Nancy Pelosi (D-Venus) into the iconic pic of Princess Leia that most American men of a certain age hold a, er, certain fondness for, it being their first experience in porn? The answer, my friends, is not just that Steve the Llamabutcher is deeply, deeply, disturbed---you don't need to be a freakin' Harvard educated shrink to figure that one out! Rather, it stemmed apparently from an overwhelming desire to offend the male readership in a proportionate manner that he did earlier in the day by posting that photoshop for the A&E Pride and Prejudice mini-series, with the glaring face of professional wrestler and amateur hooligan Stone Cold "Steve" Austin over the face of Colin Firth. I've been trying to counsel him for over a year now that in civilized society, asking yourself "what WOULD Douglas MacArthur do?" is the road to unhappiness, despair, not to mention gingivitis.

As his therapist, I can only say, please, PLEASE, for the love of gawd, DON'T encourage him, or make loud noises! He needs help!

More Llama Yips!

If you direct your attention over to the right, you may notice some new additions to the Llama blogroll. As always, whether this is viewed as an honor or a badge of shame is left entirely up to the individual blogger.

First, two folks who have carried us for quite a while without my realizing it (owing to the bizarre Internet filtering here that blocks out blogrolls on other sites):

The Cracker Barrel Philosopher at The Country Store shares my horrified fascination with Bahbwah!

Matt Navarre is in a permanent Bad State of Gruntledness. Matt hasn't posted in a few weeks, so you might want to clap your hands and repeat over and over "I DO believe in Tinkerbell!" I'm not sure if it will do any good, but it will certainly give us all a laugh.

Then there are some more recent initiates in the world of Llama Madness:

Rob A. may ask Fine? Why Fine?, but he's got a fine looking site anyway. Check out this b'yoot.

The Techie Vampire is fond of Poisoning Pidgeons. Her writing reminds me somewhat of that line from Lawrence of Arabia where the Bedouin fighter, eyeing the retreating Turk column, says simply "No prisoners."

I guess it must be Ladies' Week here at the Butcher Shop (except in New Jersey). One of our new readers is Jen of All Things Jen(nifer). She came across us just the other day and even from here I can sense that she's wondering what she got herself into.

Another such newbie is Liz of Em Tasol. She's been following the run up to next week's Jane Austen Cage Match and thinks Kathleen and I are both wrong, backing Persuasion's Anne Elliot.

As always, go on over and say hello to these folks!

Yip! Yip! Yip!

YIPS from Steve: Thanks! I still can't believe people read this.

What do I think of Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9-11?

I think this movie would have been about the equivalent, in 1944, for vulgarity and simple venomous hatred of America that his movie represents today:

farenheit 12 7.jpg

Fortunately, someone would have been publicly stoned for trying something like this two and a half years after Pearl Harbor. Thomas Dewey would have been first in line to kick the director's ass. Alas, we don't live in that country anymore, rather one where Hollywood liberals would rather see more Americans die from terrorist attacks than to have a Texas Republican in the White House.

The funny thing is, given the choice, AQ would rather probably kill them first....but hey, that's just me, Mr. Vegas.

Cap'n, the spam, she's a muu-TAY-ting!!

This just arrived in the Tasty Bits Mail Sack:

This is for your urgent attention. First, I must solicit your strictest confidence as you read this letter. Though this might come to you as a surprise since we have not met or spoken with each other before. I plead for your understanding and tender my humble apologies if I had taken you unaware.
My name is KEN AMOBI, a member of the committee set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria to supervise the activities of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), the agency that manages proceeds from the sale of crude oil in my country. At the inception of the new democratic government in my country, the Petroleum Trust Fund was ordered to wind up its operation to enable the new committee take over. The former Chairman of the agency in the person of Major General Muhammed Buhari (Rtd.) was also retired.
In its place a new committee in which I am a member was appointed to take over and oversee the activities of the agency. The duty of the committee amongst others includes verifying all outstanding contract claims and debts with the sole objective of settling such long overdue claims. I therefore decided to contact you directly having gotten your name and company's information from a business handbook of your country I discovered in the former chairman’s official study, which he left behind in his office.
Going through some of the files left behind by the former chairman, we discovered that he has secured out of the Central Bank of Nigeria a forex release to the tune of US$25,500,000.00 for the payment of goods and services supplied by foreign contractors for the execution of KUBUWA WATER PROJECT in the oil rich Niger Delta. He was trying to transfer the funds to a ghost company abroad when he was removed from office. In confidence, we know that the goods and services were not supplied but used his office to approve the payment in favour of a foreign firm with no fixed address. He confided in me as a member of the new committee that he used his position to over invoice the contract. After his removal from office, this over invoiced amount is floating in the system and left unclaimed. He has therefore requested me to help look for a foreign company into whose account the funds will be transferred.
I am now soliciting for your cooperation to enable us process the transfer of the funds to your account. You should provide us your company's name or any other name as long as you will be able to receive the amount. It will be treated as one of the outstanding payments due to you on executed contract. We will take measure to duly register your company here in Nigeria to give it legitimacy. We need your company's name and account particulars to enable us file application for foreign exchange allocation order at the Federal Ministry of Finance. The moment we accomplish this, we will raise Contract Award Certificate in your company's name to show that a contract was actually awarded and executed by you. The nature of your business does not matter.
For your participation and investing in this project, we are prepared to concede 25%of the total sum to you. On completion of the project, we will commit a substantial percentage of our share into investments in your country and we will direct you on how to repatriate the balance of our share.
I wish to state here again that confidentiality should be our watchword. If the above proposal meets your approval, please respond immediately.
Endeavour to furnish me with your secured private telephone and fax line for easy reach.

What made me laugh was not that they were spamming the llamabutchers---I mean, been there, done that back in high school when we got a golden retriever named "Bunny" into "Who's Who Among American High School Students."

What made me laugh was that the spammers are mutating their message, and reacting to the UN Oil for Food Scam. They're updating their scripts, for chrissakes! Fortunately, Kofi Anan has a nice career ahead of him (assuming he has to work and didn't sock away too much in the secret Swiss bank accounts brimming with bribes and skimmings from money supposedly going to feed starving Iraqi children).


Der forces of der blogsphere ist even more organized zen we thought! Here ve haff der Alliance of Digital Brownshirts, mit headquarters at Jessica's Well.

Found via Herr Commizzar, who ve tink may be ze double agent.

Stump The Chump

Mr. Enoch Soames, Esq., has an interesting trivia question about Steve-O's favorite movie. (Which I have seen, by the way, just to set the record straight. My general thought is usually How could Angel Eyes have come to this?)

Steve-O, if you can't nail this one, you deserve to be hurled out of the Brotherhood of St. Snake and burned at the stake for heresy.


I am back at mein post now. Having read more about Herr Gore's "digital brownshirts" remark, vy ist it dot I hoff zis overpowerink urge to make mit der zilly speach?

Vouldn't it be ein hoot if all ze conservative bloggers started doing ze same tink, just to show Herr Gore vat ve zink off his shtupit furshlugginer commentz?

Vouldn't it be ein bigger hoot if ve dropped by der
Democratic Underground und did it?

Ja, I ist just zinkink out loud here.......

Fresh from the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack

vatican correspondent 2.jpg

Don't forget---MONDAY'S the big day!

And I'm not talking about the Olson Twins going legal.

Rather, it's.....

jane 3.jpg

Take no prisoners, Robbo! And remember, like a true Llamabutcher colleague, I'll be waiting by the side of the ring to bonk Cake-eater on the head with a folding chair if necessary.

Lite Posting This Morning

I've got to run off to a number of meetings shortly. After that, I'm headed over to church to meet the family and see the girls' little end-of-vacation bible school show. I probably won't be catching up with what's going on in the world until later on this afternoon.

These VSB things are, well, interesting. Our church orders a packaged program from somewhere and a group of volunteer moms runs the thing. Every year features a different theme and the package of stuff contains props, activities and music CDs that go along with that theme.

The first year we did this, the theme was "God's Workus Circus" - I kid you not. The kiddies were split up into groups - ringmasters, clowns, tigers, etc., to learn songs and skits and so on. So far as I can tell, the emphasis was supposed to be on Creation. All I really remember about it was that the music was appalling. (I've always felt that Christian pop music was rather dopey. But Christian children's pop can be downright bizarre.)

Last year the theme was "Rancho-Roundup" - Lost sheep and the Good Shepherd sort of thing. Some of the music was a bit better, in large part because it had a Tex-Mex flavor to it. The girls spent the rest of the summer playing the CD over and over and OVER again.

This year they are doing some kind of Construction theme. All I know about it so far is that the mascot depicted on the posters looks like a pretty actionable copyright violation of both Bob the Builder and Sponge-Bob Squarepants. My six year old was telling me about a skit her group is going to put on of the Crucifixion. Apparently, she gets to be one of the Romans who nails Jesus to the Cross. Her eyes were positively blazing at the prospect as she told me about this.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wraith-Rabbit Watch

I had another encounter with the furry little minion of Sauron last evening. This time, I spotted him before he could slink in to the garden. He was still out on the lawn, but he was edging down toward the garden fence, all the while making a queer snuffing sound.

I immediately slipped out the basement door, grabbed a handful of rocks and, trying to look as if I hadn't noticed him, started strolling toward the back fence, hoping to get between him and the woods. Well, apparently all wraiths are not blind to the living world because he spotted me pretty fast and scurried out of the yard and into the forsythia hedge. I immediately ran down to the back gate, got out into the clearing behind and headed for the hedge myself.

Just as I got close, the little fiend bolted for the brush. Saying to myself Oh, Elbereth! Gilthoniel! I sent a shot after him. I don't know if I actually got him, but there was a rock closing fast on his hellish white powderpuff just as he disappeared into the woods. I sent a couple more down the track just for good measure.

On inspection, it didn't look like any more damage had been done since what I had seen the previous evening - a couple of leaves missing from the purple magnus. I also found that I could use a couple of those six-foot metal stakes laid lengthwise to temporarily block the part of the fence where he had got through. Hopefully, that will hold back the Shadow until I can get some Liquid Fence or chicken wire or, probably, both.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Big Al is officially off his meds

Kevin at Wizbang! has the AlGore moment of the day:

According to Al Gore, exercising your free speech on the internet makes you a "digital brown shirt" if you happen to think that, for example, Al Gore is demonstrably off his rocker and that Michael Moore would prefer more Americans would be beheaded by terrorists to put Ted Kennedy in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Of course, there's a "digital brown shorts" joke there, but hey, not even I'M going to go that low...

(editor: you already did, you numbskull!)


So this raises the question: what does Al really mean? And, where can you find these "digital Brown shirts?"

The answer, of course, is here, at the Brown University Bookstore website, which has a quite extensive selection of, er, digital Brown shirts. Which leads us to the type of cheap shot Big Al must be talking about, albeit:

al gore dig brown jersey.jpg

Of course, that's not really accurate, as it's more of a digital Brown jersey to be really honest. Of course, to be a true cheap shot would be to pshop that head of Al on something preparing to fellate a sheep, with the faces of either Osama or Jacques Chirac on the head of said sheep. Now THAT would be funny.

Or, to be a true digital Brown shirt cheap shot, something like this:

al and omarosa.jpg

Al, gallivanting about with former staffer and new love interest Omarosa Manigault Stallworth of "The Apprentice."

UPDATE from Steve: Now something like THIS would be a real cheapshot, and really beneath our dignity to run:

al gore mein kampf.jpg

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