29 December 2005

Just watched Walden/Disney's film version of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I'm a longtime fan of the Narnia books, having read them repeatedly from a young age. I also enjoyed the cheesy late 80s/early 90s BBC television version a lot of us saw growing up. Cheesy effects, admittedly, but true to the book.

This isn't a bad movie. But for the book it was loosely patterned after, it'd be quite a good movie. But for me, its another example of foolish, illiterate screenwriters turning the words of one of my literary heroes into processed, Americanised tripe masked with occasionally tasteless CGI overindulgence. First Tolkien, now Lewis.

Don't even for a moment feed me the wretched excuse that "books can't be translated onscreen". This movie was not just cut, not just rewritten, but it was APPENDED to, it was extended. I can abide parts being cut out, I admit, but the wanton, inexplicably pointless rewritings of the plot and dialogue leave me disgusted. It's as if they wrote it for the bleeding video game. Think I'm joking? It was released November 05 by Buena Vista Games.

The plot changes were not quite pointless, but don't be deceived into thinking they were necessary adaptations for the cinema. It's the screenwriters...they need a job and unfortunately an accurate transcription of an already fairly screen-friendly book would not reflect on them as a worthy or great accomplishment. So, just like Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens thought that they could make improvements on Tolkien's work ("let's have an elf skateboard down some stairs while shooting an arrow!"), these people have dumbed down the dialogue and monkeyed with the plot in the most obtuse and ridiculous ways. And why cast a former Jedi as Aslan? He ended up sounding like some sort of wigged out yoga teacher...all gentleness and no teeth. He's not a tame lion. Or an animated lion for that matter.

Here's the main point. Overall the changes reflected two things...simpler, plainer dialogue and harsher, more brutal violence. In the book Susan and Lucy hid their eyes when the stone knife fell; here you see it fall as well and watch the girls look on in horror. The innocence is stripped away, and you wonder, when it is written so explicitly, why would they make that subtle change? The battle scenes are hardly even included in the book, and are not grandiose, self-aggrandizing exercises in computer graphic-rendering power. We don't need to see thousands upon thousands of centaurs slaying and being slain in the tumultuous horrors of war. Lewis certainly never depicted anything of the like, at least in that book. More on the battle (and my most petty and vociferous protests!) later. But why should the screenwriters make the decision to dumb down the dialogue and the plot, and yet flesh out (literally) the horror, despair, and gore of war? Is that what children are in dire need of? Less vocabulary and more blood?

It's a series of compromises, and a great sell-out (thank you Disney). The BBC versions stuck faithfully to the book and are not exactly flying off the shelves, although they will do better now (I will be purchasing a set of DVDs soon myself). So I can't blame them all that much, but I'd much rather no version be made, than one that is all fluff and glitter with no substance, or much less substance at least.

There's much to praise in the movie, don't get me wrong. Despite the subtle downplaying of the, shall we say, deity of Aslan, it still makes a good faith effort to show the overall themes, however clumsily, and it communicates them well. I also loved the opening scene of the air raid (and the Heinkel HE-111s, somebody did their homework!)...that is an example of how to appropriately make a film adaptation. It explained what would otherwise have to be narrated without making terrible changes. And the children were well cast. So very, very English, pale, freckled, bad teeth and all (I mean that in the fondest way as quite the Anglophile). I was ever so thankful they didn't have Dakota Fanning in a wig as Lucy. They didn't go THAT far.

On to my nit-picking on the battle. They illustrated the great and persisting fallacy of medieval warfare...the chivalric superiority of the mounted warrior. Countless battles were lost by foolish leaders taking their knights into a brave charge against a well arrayed enemy, believing blindly in the superiority of their knights over the plebian footmen. Daft fools, it took them centuries to unlearn it...consider Agincourt, for example, but there are countless others. If I were Peter and the situation was laid out as specified?

First off, his position was terribly poor. He held no real high ground but his army was set with their backs to a high ridge, cutting them off from any real maneuverability. And before you make any protests regarding retreat as never being an option, consider that the famed Scot commander William Wallace (of Braveheart fame) had a preselected escape route for his men at the Battle of Falkirk, which, guess what, he made use of! Should his movie be redubbed Chickenheart?

But the great problem is that he made no use of defender's advantage. The enemy charged, and he charged, losing all formation. Once in melee, missile weapons are no use, so the light infantry (under Edmund) would have been useless, unless to kill as many of their own troops as they did their enemy. The wise leader would have fortified his heavy infantry, erected stakes and formed a tight line with his heavy shock cavalry (himself, centaurs, other mounted warriors) in reserve or on the flanks. Then with his light infantry (bowmen) deployed behind the fortified line, he could have goaded the enemy into charging by firing on them from a distance. The enemy was charging with the equivalent of heavy cavalry. Heavy cavalry is always (ALWAYS) turned away by heavy infantry in well-formed defence. They would have broken on their ranks like water. Heavy infantry could have advanced on the line, but they would suffer greatly under a withering hail of arrows from the Narnian light infantry, and would still be at a disadvantage (though less dramatically so) when they hit the Narnian heavy infantry line. Then once the enemy had reached the line, the heavy cavalry (again, centaurs/knights...mounted shock troops) would sweep out and FLANK the enemy. With the Witch's army advancing without formation or any apparent tactic other than run-at-them-and-try-to-kill-them, a carefully applied tactical plan like that would have completely routed the enemy, even in superior numbers. Again, remember Agincourt!

To quote Professor Digory Ketterly: "I wonder what they DO teach them at these schools."


16 December 2005

OK, brief post to say one thing...my wife Debra is awesome, because, among many other things, she is graduating tonight with a bachelor's degree in psychology from UMKC. I know you little college twits think, oh, big deal, but for a married couple to pay a mortgage, both work fulltime, have any involvement in ministry, and finish a college degree, its a bit of a challenge, especially at a university so indifferent to the situations of working students as UMKC. I have a much different idea of college graduation now than when I was a freshman and sophomore. You know what's funny? I almost called you guys something other than "little college twits"...something very close, only one vowel changed, and then I realized that it is a rather vulgar British expression that means something entirely inappropriate. HAHAHAHAHA *ahem*.

13 December 2005

So I'm listening to YES with headphones, and no, I do not partake in herbal recreation, thank-you-very-much.

But something about listening to this music at volumes that are probably outside the range of recommended headphone volumes, you can really hear it. I mean, HEAR it. Every nuance. Pieces you never heard before. You can hear Chris Squire's fingers slide up the fretboard, his right hand clatter against the strings...crazy, marvelous, genius SOB that he is. You can FEEL the music, the ebb and flow, the pulse, the drive, the build...but it isn't just like pumping up AC/DC or other loud rock, you feel more of it because there's more depth to it. Right now, I'm listening to Starship Trooper, and before you scoff at the cheesy early 70s name (recall this was long before Star Wars) listen to it late at night with good headphones and high volume.

Now I'm onto a new song, one only the most die-hard Yesfans will even have heard of, an outtake from the GTFO (or was it Tormato?) album, "Richard". The sweet melodic quality of this song (an obvious Jon Anderson credit) is augmented in a surprising manner by Squire's basslines. Where just about any other bassist would be content to augment a soft melodic song with a smooth bassline and basic groove, he seems discontent, and stretches into very strange territory on the instrument, but strange in a beautiful way, like seeing another country for the first time. For example, the bass line on the verse starting at about 1:45, the interwoven and overlapping scales, who would have thought of that? And the climax into the chorus, he stresses the 3rd, not the root, again in scalar way that continues slowly through the rest of the chorus. Is he worried about the chord structure? No, it's already established by layers of synth pads and vocal harmonies, he builds on that structure with astounding artistic beauty.

One more pick, not necessarily one focused on Squire as the others have been..."And You And I" from Close To The Edge. But I will mention the brief bass solo just after 7 minutes...I recall hearing that for the first time (I'd heard the song many times before, I mean really HEARING it), and I realized, wow, the bass can do so much more than I had thought. That was long ago, when I was getting started on the instrument.

All in all, for bassists, if you get a chance, listen to some good YES, and really, really LISTEN to it, and think about the bass parts, what he's doing, and why. I find I don't so much imitate Squire in a literal sense, but his influence on me has been to shirk conventions of bass guitar and use the instrument in melodic ways, which is in itself an indirect imitation. But listen and analyze his parts, and you will be surprised at how unconventional they are, but how pleasing and musical they can be.


02 December 2005

OK, so check this out. Apparently, the first recorded miracle of Jesus was none other than my current hobby...homebrewing. And according to the ruler of the feast, he was pretty good at it, too.

John 2:1-11
1 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

Pretty nifty.

Here's the requisite link to my BROG.

29 November 2005

I've got nothing. Sorry.

Blogging requires the presumption that you have something so valuable to communicate that it must be published for the world to see and benefit from. I know the preposition rule, but blast it I don't care, stuff your grammar rules up your...nose. Sure, I blog, with the omnipresent realization that precious few readers exist, but I also know good and well that most of what is written here is a waste of everyone's time, including mine. Ideas drawn from other more brilliant writers, random links to columns, and silly rants on random topics that happen to interest me...nothing else. That said, I find it an amusing waste of time...occasionally. I'm not a terrifically chatty person, and don't really like to hear myself talk (as many people do), but I admit I enjoy flexing my admittedly atrophied writing muscles.

Rickenbacker basses are beautiful, powerful instruments. When used properly they are thunderous and elegant in their voice. For evidence, listen to Chris Squire's "Fish Out Of Water".

It's BROGtime!

22 November 2005

How about one of those Captain Obvious posts...

Vatican says sexually active gays unwelcome in the priesthood

Hmmmmm...on its face that sounds quite repressive and intolerant doesn't it. I'm sure there are enough libs bristling at that out there, and it struck me (all too late, I'm afraid...getting slower, I am) how silly the news story is in the first place.

So sexually active gays are unwelcome in the priesthood. Newsflash, guys...sexually active straights are ALSO unwelcome in the priesthood.

Oh what silliness. And I'm not even Catholic.

Who are these children who scheme and run wild
Who speak with their wings and the way that they smile
What are the secrets they trace in the sky
And why do you tremble each time they ride by

Who are these strangers who pass through the door
Who cover your action and go you one more
If you're feeling lucky you best not refuse
It's your game the rules are your own win or lose

Throw out your gold teeth and see how they roll
The answer they reveal
Life is unreal

And as always, my well-updated brog.

19 November 2005

Johnny's playroom is a bunker filled with sand. He's become a third world man.

Smoky Sunday...he's been mobilized since dawn, now he's crouching on the lawn...he's a third world man.

Soon you'll throw down your disguise, we'll see behind those bright eyes...by and by, when the sidewalks are safe for the little guys.

I saw the fireworks, I believed that I was dreaming till the neighbors came out screaming, "He's a third world man."

Soon you'll throw down your disguise, we'll see behind those bright eyes...by and by, when the sidewalks are safe for the little guys.

When he's crying out I just sing that Ghana Rondo: "E l'era del terzo mondo"...he's a third world man.

03 November 2005

"If judgments about the prudence of overruling are invoked, the justices should take note of the fact that Roe lies at the center of the bitter polarization of much of American society. In countries where the issue is decided democratically, no such intense animus exists. Compromises are worked out and each side knows that it is free to continue the public debate in hope of doing better next time. That was, and would be again, the case in America if the subject of abortion were returned to state legislatures and electorates. Overruling Roe would not, as some Democrats will claim, make abortion illegal, but merely the subject of democratic regulation. We have paid a high price for a ruling that rests upon nothing in the Constitution and was arrived at in an opinion of just over 51 pages that contains not a line of legal reasoning." --Robert Bork

Funny to see the irony...Democrats don't consider democracy to be worthy of regulating the central rite of American liberalism, abortion. He is right...where else but America is abortion such a hot-button issue? Do other countries not have hard-line left/right wingers? Of course they do. But here is the issue; the American Right is passionate to overturn Roe because it was unjust, in that a court wrote a relatively shabby ruling based on the beliefs of just a handful of unaccountable men, and democracy was subjugated to the perceived divine right of the Court. The American Left is equally passionate because the tenet of Roe is the highest example of how a minority can impose its will upon a majority. Although to be honest I can't begin to explain why abortion really is that most sacred of liberal tenets. So you want the unchallengeable legalization of surgical infanticide to be the core platform upon which you campaign? Oh, great. I can't install a high-flow toilet in my house, but I can hack apart unborn children in the womb with a mother's consent. Not only that, but it is a Constitutional RIGHT...no state or federal government can challenge my right to do so. Never mind that there isn't a single thing in the Constitution that says that.

But even that isn't the issue. The legalization or illegalization of abortion is beside the point, and not what mobilizes most true conservatives on the issue. What angers us is that democracy did not decide the issue. America did not have a voice. It was decided for us by our "betters", a ruling handed down from On High. If we made the decision for ourselves as Americans and legalized abortion, that would be much more acceptable. I still would vote to criminalize it out of my moral and intellectual convictions, but I would accept its legalization as authentic and just law.

As it stands now, the liberals fear to put policy in the hands of the people and their elected representatives; thus the anguish at a slow return of the court to judicial function on a more traditional, Constitutional level. The ivory tower from which they exercised rule is crumbling.

31 October 2005

"If [Alito] is not qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, then no conservative is qualified." --Mark Levin

This is something that ought to be considered. If the possession of conservative ideology disqualifies a nominee, then likewise it would make sense that the possession of liberal ideology would disqualify a nominee. We confirmed Ginsburg [sic?], if you recall.

Also, keep in mind what a conservative judge is. Conservatism is the opposite of activism and radicalism. It is the preservation of things that have gone before. Original intent and precedent are what are important to conservative judges, not enacting social policies. Alito once struck down an anti-abortion law, despite his personal feelings on the issue. A non-conservative judge will not be bound by the Constitution or by precedent, and rule broadly based on his or her own feelings, drawing justification from the most unappropriate places (foreign laws should not be considered domestic precedent). The real fear is that the last bastion of liberal power is in danger of becoming what it was intended to be all along...an unideological body designed to interpret the Constitution, not administer social change. Democrats are desparate and they are going to fight tooth and claw for this. Like a wounded badger, my friends. It is going to be ugly but it was inevitable.

Kudos to Bush. You got your act together.

28 October 2005

I haven't posted a good column quote in a while...I found this one quite truthful:

"Now, I've written thousands of words on why I don't think hypocrisy is the worst sin imaginable. There's not a good parent in the world who hasn't felt like a hypocrite at one point or another with their kids. Telling your kids not to do certain bad or unwise things you did when you were a kid may feel hypocritical, but telling your children it's O.K. to do wrong out of some craving to be hip or to assuage your own conscience is the most asinine form of vanity I can imagine. Similarly, it's certainly wrong to do drugs, but does giving in to your addiction mean you should also advocate doing drugs for everybody? During the run-up to the Iraq war, how many times did we hear that it was hypocritical for the United States to topple Saddam since we'd worked with him in the 1980s? The upshot seemed to be that it is better to do wrong consistently than do right inconsistently." --Jonah Goldberg

24 October 2005

Time now for a pointless, meandering post on sundry relatively unimportant topics that nonetheless interest me.

First off, it hasn’t been much more than a month or two since I was last down at the lake with the in-laws, and already I feel the gnawing urge to get out and do some shooting. I think it was not this last time, but the time before (June, maybe?) that I fired the Spanish 1911 copy. Nice gun…powerful, moderate accuracy. It is actually more burdened by my shooting technique; as is common amongst shooters new to high recoil guns, the subconscious urge to brace against recoil causes you to dip the nose as you pull the trigger, resulting in me aiming low too often. I’ve just got to train myself out of it. I’ve temporarily given up on an assault rifle…for now, I’ll make do with an Enfield and various handguns. In a close combat situation such as home defence, the advantages offered by an assault rifle, while not nullified, are somewhat diminished. A high power .308 cartridge is more appropriate on the open battlefield, but the prospect of being able to easily shoot through hollow doors at a would-be assailant is worth considering, still. The Enfield could do that, though. There is a definite advantage there…the door is locked, and while them firing blindly into the door would have little chance of hitting us, especially without them knowing the layout of the room, a shot fired into the door from the other side would have a better chance of taking out the intruder, or at least dissuading them from further pursuit. Seizing the advantage is key…with myself and an intruder with a clear line of sight in an open room, the odds are fairly even. Of course, with multiple guns at the ready and my wife being a good shot, that changes it a bit.

You have to know, I’m mainly doing this just to give liberals hives. I enjoy envisioning and analyzing tactical scenarios. I think it is worthwhile to consider these things, as in the unlikely incident that a home invasion occurred, there would not be time to consider the best course of action, only time to react. So I’m mainly just thinking aloud whilst baiting the anti-gun crowd. But still, I have an admiration for a well made firearm. Just like the glistening beauty of a finely forged sabre, an elegant firearm like an Enfield has both power and graceful aesthetics.

I was going to wax eloquent on music, but now I feel the muse of writing has left me, and I would only wax obtuse.

I’m having a great deal of fun with another hobby…see my brog:


23 September 2005

EDIT: Alright, alright. I finished watching the Steve Zissou movie. It picks up, has a few laugh out loud moments, and overall is a decent movie. I felt kind of bad after ripping into it. No, I didn't end up loving it or wanting to see it again, but it wasn't as bad as the first 20 minutes or so had led me to believe.

Watched a movie last night...Wes Anderson's "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou". I know what some of you might be thinking: "here comes more effusive praise of some album, movie, or book he just discovered." Well, not exactly.

In fact I thought the movie was abysmal. And not just bad in a traditional sense. Technically there was much that was good about it, such as the beautiful colours and interesting camera angles. The real problem lies in Wes Anderson himself. The guy has finally started listening to the craven hordes of sycophantic jackasses that attach their identity and self-worth to indie art and indie music and open-source software (kidding, huh-hoy!) and any manner of self-important crap. They told him he was the Messiah, that he could do no wrong, that all he touched turned to gold, and he believed them. The guy thinks he can do a closeup of Bill Murray and it is funny...not even funny, some other annoyingly pretentious word, like "wry" or "pithy".

This was a vapid, vacuous movie that drips with snot-nosed arrogance. I can only imagine the types who sit around droning about the wit and irony and dualism and existentially interposed post-modernism of this movie, trying to convince their fellow snobs that they, too, "get it" and should be considered part of the stylish intelligentsia...while in their hearts they know as well as any of us that it really isn't that good. They just want to fit in.

I loved Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore, don't get me wrong. I even liked Bottle Rocket. I'm all for intelligent humour, but this movie didn't make me laugh at all. I may have cracked a smile at the "rattlesnake bit the cat in the throat" bit, but that was it. Turned it off 2/3 of the way through. Couldn't handle any more of that utter tripe.

I can handle a bad movie that kind of realizes its bad...a humbly bad movie, you know, a low-budget, lets go out and make a cheap throwaway movie sort of thing. But a movie that reeks of arrogance and self-consciousness like this one, into the trash bin it goes.

On the subject of things I DO like...Chris Squire's "Fish Out Of Water" album is one of the best bits of music I've ever heard, and its so tragically obscure. Also, the grooves of Steely Dan's "My Old School" helped me wake up this morning over a cup of coffee. "That'll be the day I go back to Annandale!"

And don't forget my "brog":


20 September 2005

Greetings friends and fellow origami enthusiasts.

I make this post not only to bestow upon myself the dubious honor of being a blogger still (in this great wide world of pointless, unedited literary fecal matter, I'm but a tiny turd), but also to invite those with interest to a new blog...that of St. Crispin's. A project underway at a very, very slow pace. Progress is being made, however. Let's call it a technical journal of my hobby.


May the funk be with you all. Get down with your funky selves.

09 September 2005

You know what...if I wanted to I could write on and on about the hurricane aftermath, about the "lessons to be learned" and the rubbish to be refuted spewing out of the mouths of many of the politically-motivated punditry, but I don't really want to. I don't need to...most Americans can agree on the following:

* A hurricane is no one's fault, unless you factor God into the equation. And as far as dishing out blame, that's between you and Him, if you must.

* There were problems in the relief effort and evacuation.

* When you live in between a lake that is HIGHER than you and a gulf that is constantly ravaged by hurricanes, you should be prepared for flooding.

* America as a whole is pouring an enormous amount of money and effort into saving people.

That's it...no need to argue. Oorah for the troops down there making it all happen. It's hard not to bring up Nagin and Blanco, but now is not the time.

St. Crispin's is taking off. Critical reception to the initial products has been quite pleasant, with many more on the way. I've even thought of starting a seperate blog to log details and progress. I'd write more, but must get back to work.

29 August 2005

Two words: wrist injury.

Getting a little less painful to type. My experimentation with the brewing arts is paying copious dividends and bespeaks great potential for future innovations. My most loved hobbies have always been productive ones...while I enjoy playing video games and reading about history, I prefer making music, making guitars, making food and drink. Something very satisfying in the act of creation.

But that's it...I shouldn't have typed that much.

04 August 2005


It's like a lettuce salad, and the opposite of Skittles. With a salad I never think I really want it, until I make one and taste it (and then realize I want another). With Skittles, I always think I like them, and then after I've eaten a bag I get that dry, sugar-crusted feeling in my throat, and I realize how bad I feel after eating them. Jazz music is something I never listen to very often, anymore, and I forget about it. I then get desperate on the radio during commercials and switch to the jazz station. Then a great combo jazz tune snares me...complex, almost discordant harmony of the piano...vinuous, effortless guitar lines that are miles above any rock solo outside of Steely Dan...the throbbing, churning rhythm of the bass...the madcap, almost random "anti-beat" of the drums. Most of the popular music of today as well as the majority of what I play in various groups lacks real rhythm. I was listening to Led Zeppelin III last night while preparing a batch of cyser (hopefully for this Christmas) and I was struck by how amazingly good the music is, and how relatively lukewarm most other music is, especially modern stuff.

Here's what has happened, and allow me to quote John Cleese: "I am not a racialist!". Anyway, jazz and Led Zeppelin share a bond. Led Zeppelin is immensely blues-oriented, and blues and jazz are "siblings" so to speak, both derived from the same thing...ethnic black music.

What has happened here is that our music has gotten so white-washed. I mean, the Beatles were inspired by Motown. All of the best white musicians were inspired by black musicians. Now that our white musicians are inspired by white musicians, we have crappy whitebread groove-less music out the ears. I know this all sounds incredibly stereotypical, and I'm as pasty white as they come. I just think that white culture and music may have certain strengths, and black culture and music has its own strengths. The best music of the past 50 years, in my opinion, is when the strengths of both are harnessed (see Beatles, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, various jazz artists, etc).

19 July 2005

I started to write a reply to the latest comment from Matt, and it set off a firestorm of food-inspired prose, so why not save myself the wrist strain and just make it a regular post. So here goes:
I would be interested in the aforementioned food, if it is as good as you say. When I was in Great Britain, I thought most of the things I ate to be extremely bland. I was willing to excuse the first few meals off of the plane because of my airsickness, but it just never got better. Eventually we all started craving the greasy meat-like patties of McDonalds.That being said, we didn't spend months and months there, as Orwell said that only the well traveled would know good English fare.
--Posted by Matt aka aulservant aka Throckmorton at 7/19/2005 11:47:32 AM

Yes, and what might pass for quick meals and restaurant food in London might not accurately reflect traditional English food. I once read that you could never get quality Cornish Pasties outside of Cornwall...everywhere else in Britain they are a sort of "fast food" slopped together with precooked meat and veggies.

I'd say with few exceptions my English cooking is hardly bland. While it is very traditional and therefore shirks the annoying gourmet convention of making every ingredient exotic and weird (ie. mango and chile infused haddock with Spanish nutmeg vinaigrette, or what-have-you), I use lots of traditional ingredients, simple ingredients such as Worcestershire sauce, freshly cracked pepper, seasoned salt, butter, sauteed onions, leeks, various herbs, etc. Also, if you've got really good meats you don't need overly spicy food...really choice lamb or beef would be a waste if you bury it under tons of overly spicy seasonings. Lamb in particular has a very pleasing, softly sweet taste that I'm rather keen on...something to augment rather than obscure.

Which isn't to say I abstain from using powerful spices...another pseudo-English dish is my Chicken Curry, and Debra and I have gone to church sometimes embarrassed by how strong the curry reek is on our clothes. That is potent stuff. My recipe only has four ingredients...chicken, onions, butter, and a special hot curry powder. I've made Lamb Curry twice before but lamb is so hard to come by...it was excellent though. I really ought to live in New Zealand, where the sheep outnumber the people 9 to 1, or something like that.

I think, as Orwell points out, the problem with English food isn't that English food isn't good, its that there are so many instances of poorly executed English food that give it a bad name. Having not yet had the experience of visiting in person, unfortunately, that's mostly conjecture combined with some degree of satisfaction with the recipes I've honed. However, I've seen several recipes that sound like they would bore me to tears. I imagine Lincolnshire sausages (the chief sausage for Bangers and Mash and Toad-in-a-Hole) would be rather bland compared to spicy bratwurst and Italian sausages, and plop a bunch of Yorkshire pudding on them, and your bland quotient just doubled. However, the Bangers and Mash I made (with Swedish potato sausages...the closest thing I could find) was tasty, if not exceptional. Other things I've made, aside from my signature and favourite dish (Shepherd's/Cottage Pie), are the aforementioned Leek Soup which is surprisingly good, an English Beef Soup similar to what we know as steak soup, an Irish Beef Stew made with Guinness stout (very, very tasty), fish and chips, and various other things.

There's a simple lack of pretense I love about English cooking. French cooking is rife with snobbery, and basically has morphed into modern "gourmet". Complexity, to my thinking, can ruin a dish far quicker than simplicity will. English ingredients are simple, mild, and unpretentious. Simple flavours like beef, ale, butter, pepper, carrots, potatoes, cheese, onions, lamb, apples, etc...these sort of ingredients present something of a challenge to a cook (I dare not use the self-important moniker "chef"), to allow their flavours to meld and not distract from each other. Most modern recipe books engage in "one-upmanship", trying to outdo the other books by creating wild, new, sensational recipes using all new ingredients and weird flavour combinations. It has almost gotten to the point that you can walk into a restaurant and never find something as simple as a grilled steak and potato (now its a bourbon-sauteed ribeye topped with crispy onion curls served with garlic-parmesan mashed turnips) or roast beef. I mean, you can still get simple stuff, but the trend is to overcomplicate everything in order to sell it. Case in point...the simple appeal of Fettucine Alfredo. A good dish of this should contain noodles, milk/cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese, maybe with some freshly cracked pepper on top. Nothing else. When you start dumping broccoli and chicken and chives and mushrooms and peppers and mozzarella and sausage....etc....you ruin the simplicity of the dish.

But all in all, there are three things I think the English do better than any other nation. Meat pies, cheese, and ale. The excellence of the latter in particular, is what prompted my experimentation in small-scale brewing...now well underway.

07 July 2005

My pick for '08: Newtlicious

In other news...my adopted land of Great Britain was hit today. Around 40 dead so far. However, in spite of the tragedy, I have to say, where is the Churchillian spirit? When bombs fell daily in London, and the Brits staunched themselves and stood firm, despite the death and destruction that was all around them? Today all we hear is fear. Fear on the radio waves, fear on the tele, fear from the politicians, the policy wonks, the "experts", the journalists, etc. Terrorists don't win by killing, they win by terrorizing. 40 dead is nothing in comparison to what the Brits have faced before. If only someone would say, nice try, you smelly bastards, but all you've done is sign your death warrant. Anger is not that great of an emotion, but its better than fear.

27 June 2005

I'm back!

It's a Welsh night at the Neufeld household...two specialties of Wales for dinner, Welsh Rarebit (Caws Pobi) and Welsh Leek Soup. Both quite tasty, although I shall lessen the dry mustard in the cheese sauce for the rarebit next time. A bit too zesty for my taste. Since you probably don't know and don't care, rarebit is toasted bread ladled with a cheese sauce made of Cheddar, butter, flour, mustard, Worcestershire, and ale. The leek soup, well, quite unique! Never had a leek before, but it was interesting to try. Quite tasty, something I'll be making again, especially in winter. Saturday I made Cottage Pie, Sunday I made Cornish Pasties, and tomorrow I'm making Bangers and Mash. Yes, I've converted to Anglicism it seems. George Orwell's "In Defence of English Cooking" had quite an influence on my swelling Anglophilia and so I am resolved to master traditional English cuisine and introduce friends and family to it. YES that means YOU bwahahahahahahaha.

I'm enjoying this leek soup quite a bit. Delicious stuff.

I have some free time, I feel like I ought to be playing/writing music instead of surfing the net. Or studyi...never mind.
Hello again, mis amigos.

Now listening to: "I Do Believe We're Naked" by Funky See Funky Do.

Can anyone recall what that is from?

Ahhh, Mr. Groening. Your franchise, once a glorious shining example of comedic prowess and art, has sunk to the pit of despair, season after tired, limping season. Bury the corpse, Matt. It's beginning to smell.

I feel somewhat led to write a discourse on evolution and the controversy over teaching it in Kansas. There is too much knee-jerking on both sides, in my view, and enough straw men being put up you'd think we were in a cornfield. Oh wait...Kansas...har har!

But not right now.

Now I am exulting in the fact that my delightfully little microscopic English friends of the Saccharomyces Cerevisiae variety are chewing their way through five gallons of malt, water, and hops, emitting a most aromatic and pleasing flatulence through the carboy airlock. Oh heavens, what a smell! This is a fun hobby. Saturday morning's kitchen cleanup, not so much. But worth it!

20 June 2005

Some time has passed since I've posted. Alas, such is one of the side-effects to being married to a beautiful, intelligent woman. After I've watched John McCain preen his feathers on Sunday morning talk shows, I don't have to come to this black-and-white pit of funky despair to vent my thoughts on the subject. Somehow the blogworld seems less populated by married men. It's not that men get dumber after the wedding bells chime, or that single men are typically more intelligent to begin with (and probably don't end clauses with a preposition), it's just that married men a.) don't have the time to vent online and/or b.) don't feel the need with their better half in the next room. I just try to keep it up as a means to keep myself writing, even if it is irrelevant crap.

Listening to an artifact of my musical past...various recordings from me old band, Erasing Adam. Fun stuff, a bit immature and "stiff" especially in parts of the lyrics, but it was a good experience on the whole. I'm not sure if this is arrogant or humble, as its a bit confusing...but I think sometimes I had the idea that I've improved so much since then, and I have, but listening to the record, some of my basslines caught me off-guard, being somewhat inventive, and, well, downright cool. So in a roundabout sense it was humbling. Still don't follow and think I'm an arrogant S.O.B.? Yeah, you're probably right, sorry. I just lacked a certain "funky sais quoi" as the French would say. Also I stuck a bit too much to certain formulas...sometimes I wished I'd try counterpoint a bit more, choppy rhythms, using the 5th as a bedrock note instead of the root for a bit of tension. But hey, it was a fun hobby at the time. Don't have much time for music anymore outside of church gigs.

I'm selling my Mercury Capri hardtop. Auction ends tomorrow morning. Search for it on eBay, more power to you. This will fund a new hobby of mine that might someday have commercial prospects. We'll see!

27 May 2005

About to start a delightfully long Memorial Day weekend.

Nothing much to speak of...I really need to buckle down in June and pass two Microsoft tests. But until then, I am in post-semester coasting mode. Not that my life without school for me is anything like coasting, but I'm thankful for the temporary comfort the semester's end has brought.

IT workers are like artists...they have alternating moments of frenzied productivity and dull stagnance. Welcome to an instance of the latter.

Somewhere I read a suggestion for the ultimate "Black and Tan", being made from Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA and Dogfish Head World Wide Stout. Probably best shared with a friend as that would put you out for the night, methinks. But worthy of trying no doubt, as both are astonishingly good on their own.

Damn those currant plants. They tear at my soul. Briefly springing to life and bringing resounding joy to my heart, then fleeting away to a quick and brownish death. Can I ever love...errr....plant again?

Thanks be to Signor Talberto for his great gift for me from Europe...a Union Jack from the honest-to-goodness British soil of Gibraltar. Old, eternal rock of the Empire, standing guard over the Mediterranean. I haven't decided where to hang it (no, not on my flagpole...I may be an Anglophile, but I'm no traitor! Patriot blood runs steadfast in these veins!).

Gun purchase has been put on hold. Too much money that could be put elsewhere...besides, I'm reasonably well armed with two automatics, a revolver, and a Brit battle rifle at the ready. Perhaps someday a FAL or CETME will enter the arsenal, but its by no means essential.

Perhaps someday I can finagle my work into sending me and my wife to the British Isles. Check up on our dealers and such. Well, who knows?

23 May 2005

Back after a brief hiatus...

With as much typing as work requires me to do, and the subsequent shooting pains through my right hand, I'm losing motivation for this blog. There is something noble I suppose about enduring pain for "art" (ha) but to me it strikes me more as the dying embers of arrogance brought low, still trying to prove that I am prosaic and/or witty in the written word while my skills fade, like Mozart...or, consarnit, Beethoven, or whoever that guy who went deaf was. I should know of course, but, well, I know a lot more about other sorts of music, and only a basic cursory knowledge of the classics.

Screw this pretentious rhetoric, right up the nose, to put it eloquently.

So my blackcurrants are dying...something I've had to come to terms with. Perhaps gardening is not a gift of mine, or perhaps I just need to try again next year. We'll see if I have the heart to do so.

This morning I had a surge of federalist sentiment, particularly on the abortion issue. But really, on any issue. As far as I'm concerned, let Massachussetts (sic? heck if I know) marry gays, let Utah marry groups, and let Kansas or Wyoming or whoever outlaw abortion. This is the thing I just don't get about liberals...what subtlety am I missing with the Bill of Rights? Basically, it outlines the rights and powers given to the government on the federal level, and then says, all else, given to the states. Do we disagree on that? I'm a simple, entirely un-nuanced guy in this, and I took one class on Constitutional History but I've forgotten most of it. So bear with me in my simplicity. So where does abortion fall? And gay marriage? I say, nowhere in the Bill of Rights. At least, I haven't found any of that yet in there. Email me if you've uncovered it by all means. Ahh, pardon the sarcasm, grouchiness is a side-effect of sore wrists/fingers. But honestly, why shouldn't that logically be the realm of the states? Is that so unthinkable? What is unthinkable, to me, is a federal government constantly expanding in direct, open contradiction to the Constitution, and the only ones who take issue are known as fringe nutjobs by "mainstream" America. What's so nuts about abiding by the Constitution?

Roe v. Wade was a travesty in my opinion, just as the Federal Marriage Amendment would be in a sense, although at least that has a solid foundation, being a Constitutional amendment. Amendments are part of the Constitution, so therefore are not ruled by it.

I could rant more, but there is work to be done. Adios for now.

06 May 2005

"An Entire Menagerie Called Abdul."

Can't get enough Python. I'm a comedy junkie, admittedly. I've scoffed at most film dramas I've laboured through, with some most notable exceptions (various Shakespeare histories, "Breaker Morant", and others), and in general, if a movie isn't trying to make me laugh, I'll find some way to laugh at it anyway. Much to the chagrin of my wife if she happens to like the film a lot.

"Half a bee...philisophically...must ipso facto half not be..."

But yes, Fish License still makes me laugh inside, without fail, even just thinking about it. Why? I don't know. Something about silliness or insanity (and I mean that in a literal sense, like mental disease insanity) portrayed with abject sobriety is so maniacally funny.

I've planted a quartet of blackcurrant seedlings (Ribes Negrum) in my backyard. Strange you say? Yes. Yes it is.

My hand is already shooting with pain. I've got to stop typing, and get back to work, eh?

Altogether now!

"I like Chinese....I like Chinese...I like their tiny little treeeees"

Don't ask.

27 April 2005

A bit o' plagiarism to liven the spirits...

I have been seeing my psychiatrist, Dr. Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nurnburger-bratwustle-gernspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shonedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm. I think thats how he spells it. He suggests hiting myself on the head with bricks and singing "Its a Long Way to Tipperary" while standing upside down in the shower. I suggested that he ought to rip out his toenails and superglue them to his forehead. We don't have the greatest relationship, really. Today I was late for my appointment; I usually reckon on five and a half hours and it took me six hours and 53 minutes, with a 25 minute wait at Frampton Cottrell to stretch me legs; only I had to wait half an hour to get onto the M5 at Droitwich. Then there was a three mile queue just before Bridgewater on the A38. I usually come round on the B3339, you see, just before Bridgewater. I decided to risk it 'cause they always say they're going to widen it there. Yes, well just by the intersection there where the A372 joins up. There's plenty of room to widen it there, there's only grass verges. They could get another six feet, knock down that hospital. Then I took the coast road through Williton - I got all the Taunton traffic on the A358 from Crowcombe and Stogumber. So you see. Last week on 'Party Hints' I showed you how to make a small plate of goulash go round twenty-six people, how to get the best out of your canapes, and how to unblock your loo. This week I'm going to tell you what to do if there is an armed communist uprising near your home when you're having a party. Well obviously it'll depend how far you've got with your party when the signal for Red Revolt is raised. If you're just having preliminary aperitifs - Dubonnet, a sherry or a sparkling white wine - then the guests will obviously be in a fairly formal mood and it will be difficult to tell which are the communist agitators. So the thing to do is to get some cloth and some bits of old paper, put it down on the floor and shoot everybody. This will deal with the Red Menace on your own doorstep. If you're having canapes, as I showed you last week, or an outdoor barbecue, then the thing to do is to set fire to all houses in the street. This will stir up anti-communist hatred and your neighbours will be right with you as you organize counter-revolutionary terror. So you see, if you act promptly enough, any left-wing uprising can be dealt with by the end of the party. From the plastic arts we turn to football. Last night in the Stadium of Light, Jarrow, we witnessed the resuscitation of a great footballing tradition, when Jarrow United came of age, in a European sense, with an almost Proustian display of modern existentialist football. Vimally annihilating by midfield moral argument the now surely obsolescent catennachio defensive philosophy of Signor Alberto Fanffino. Bologna indeed were a side intellectually out argued by a Jarrow team thrusting and bursting with aggressive Kantian positivism and outstanding in this fine Jarrow team was my man of the match, the arch-thinker, free scheming, scarcely ever to be curbed, midfield coguoscento, Jimmy Buzzard. At least one ageing football commentator was gladdened last night by the sight of an English footballer breaking free of the limpid tentacles of packed Mediterranean defence. This is of course symptomatic of a new breed of footballer as it is indeed symptomatic of the whole genre of player. I am not a looney! Why should I be tied with the epithet looney merely because I have a pet halibut? I've heard tell that Sir Gerald Nabardo has a pet prawn called Simon and you wouldn't call him a looney; furthermore, Dawn Pailthorpe, the lady show-jumper, had a clam, called Stafford, after the late Chancellor, Allan Bullock has two pikes, both called Chris, and Marcel Proust had an haddock! So, if you're calling the author of 'A la recherche du temps perdu' a looney, I shall have to ask you to step outside! WE WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE WAY IN WHICH POLITICIANS ARE REPRESENTED IN THIS POSTING. IT WAS NEVER OUR INTENTION TO IMPLY THAT POLITICIANS ARE WEAK-KNEED, POLITICAL TIME-SERVERS WHO ARE CONCERNED MORE WITH THEIR PERSONAL VENDETTAS AND PRIVATE POWER STRUGGLES THAN THE PROBLEMS OF GOVERNMENT, NOR TO SUGGEST AT ANY POINT THAT THEY SACRIFICE THEIR CREDIBILITY BY DENYING FREE DEBATE ON VITAL MATTERS IN THE MISTAKEN IMPRESSION THAT PARTY UNITY COMES BEFORE THE WELL-BEING OF THE PEOPLE THEY SUPPOSEDLY REPRESENT NOR TO IMPLY AT ANY STAGE THAT THEY ARE SQUABBLING LITTLE TOADIES WITHOUT AN OUNCE OF CONCERN FOR THE VITAL SOCIAL PROBLEMS OF TODAY. NOR INDEED DO WE INTEND THAT VIEWERS SHOULD CONSIDER THEM AS CRABBY ULCEROUS LITTLE SELF-SEEKING VERMIN WITH FURRY LEGS AND AN EXCESSIVE ADDICTION TO ALCOHOL AND CERTAIN PRACTICES WHICH SOME PEOPLE MIGHT FIND OFFENSIVE. WE ARE SORRY IF THIS IMPRESSION HAS COME ACROSS, because tonight's the night I shall be talking about of flu the subject of word association football. This is a technique out a living much used in the practice makes perfect of psychoanalysister and brother and one that has occupied piper the majority rule of my attention squad by the right number one two three four the last five years to the memory. It is quite remarkable baker charlie how much the miller's son this so-called while you were out word association immigrants' problems influences the manner from heaven in which we sleekit cowering timrous beasties all-American Speke, the famous explorer. And the really well that is surprising partner in crime is that a lot and his wife of the lions feeding time we may be c d e effectively quite unaware of the fact or fiction section of the Watford Public Library that we are even doing it is a far, far better thing that I do now then, now then, what's going onward Christian Barnaard the famous hearty part of the lettuce now praise famous mental homes for loonies like me. So on the button, my contention causing all the headaches, is that unless we take into account of Monte Cristo in our thinking George the Fifth this phenomenon the other hand we shall not be able satisfact or fiction section of the Watford Public Library againily to understand to attention when I'm talking to you and stop laughing, about human nature, man's psychological make-up some story the wife'll believe and hence the very meaning of life meaning of life itselfish bastard, I'll kick him in the Ball's Pond Road. Some people have made the mistake of seeing Shunt's work as a load of rubbish about railway timetables, but clever people like me who talk loudly in restaurants see this as a deliberate ambiguity, a plea for understanding in a mechanized ethos. The points are frozen, the beast is dead. What is the difference? What indeed is the point? The point is frozen, the beast is late out of Paddington. The point is taken. If La Fontaine's elk would spurn Tom Jones the engine must be our head, the dining car our esophagus, the guards van our left lung, the cattle truck our shins, the first class compartment the piece of skin at the nape of the neck and the level crossing an electric elk called Simon. The clarity is devastating. But where is the ambiguity? Over there in a box. Shunt is saying the 8:15 from Gillingham when in reality he means the 8:13 from Gillingham. The train is the same, only the time is altered. Ecce homo, ergo elk. La Fontaine knew its sister and knew her bloody well. The point is taken, the beast is moulting, the fluff gets up your nose. The illusion is complete; it is reality, the reality is illusion and the ambiguity is the only truth. But is the truth, as Hitchcock observes, in the box? No, there isn't room, the ambiguity has put on weight. The point is taken, the elk is dead, the beast stops at Swindon, Chabrol stops at nothing, I'm having treatment and La Fontaine can get knotted. How to defend yourself against a man armed with a banana. Now you, come at me with this banana. Catch! Now, it's quite simple to defend yourself against a man armed with a banana. First of all you force him to drop the banana; then, second, you eat the banana, thus disarming him. You have now rendered him helpless! Now you want to know about the pointed stick, eh? Oh, right. We want to learn how to defend ourselves against pointed sticks, do we? Getting all high and mighty, eh? Fresh fruit not good enough for you eh? Well I'll tell you something my lad. When you're walking home tonight and some great homicidal maniac comes after you with a bunch of loganberries, don't come crying to me!

26 April 2005

"Fear of dying has increased as many of America's citizens and elite institutions have become increasingly irreligious, even anti-religious. One major consequence of secularism is fear of dying. After all, with no God and no religion, this life is all there is. It is no wonder that the secular are far more attracted to pacifism than the religious and far more likely than religious Americans to believe that American troops who have died liberating Iraq have wasted their lives." -Dennis Prager

Interesting point, and one that brings to mind (what else) The Simarillion. In particular, the story of Numenor. As the men of Numenor drifted apart from the Valar, they became increasingly self-centered and proud, and began to almost worship themselves. They started to fear death, and then were more and more obsessed with the idea. Etc etc etc. Read it yourself. I'm tired and my brain is fried, studied late last night. Just thought the observation to be somewhat poignant.

Yeah, I'd rant more, but I've got nothing. No-thing. I've got to get back to work.

19 April 2005

Tribute to Blackcurrants

This is going to be a revelation of another one of my weird, obsessive sides, so brace yerself.

The blackcurrant...oh what a berry. One that we Americans hardly know! So far I have had the pleasure to sample a handful of blackcurrant products (there's naught more than a handful anyway around here!). They include: a blackcurrant jam and a red currant jelly, Twining's Blackcurrant Tea, McVites blackcurrant digestive biscuits, Lindeman's Cassis Lambic, Unibroue Ephemere (blackcurrant version), Mathilde Cassis, and I'm sure a couple other things. But I've just sent off a check to a New York nursery that is trying to bring back the blackcurrant in the US, and I'm going to do my part by cultivating currants in my backyard.

Moving on...

Watched "24" last night, second time I've watched it and actually paid attention. Very entertaining show, although the pseudo-soapy "personal" moments when the world is hurtling towards annihilation and those in charge pause to say..."hey, how are you doing, I heard Trevor was back with Maureen, even though she just learned that Clarissa had come out of her coma." Bollocks. But nonetheless, very good and gripping TV show...understanding that I'm a person who can almost never stomach serious TV shows. Last night it skewered the terror sympathizers in the ACLU/Amnesty Int'l pretty well. Tools of the enemy, all too often.
But here's my idea...I noticed to some degree of amusement how similar Kiefer Sutherland sounded to Jason Bateman (of Arrested Development) in his voice. After thinking of some humorous applications of soundtrack editing (to overdub selected A.D. dialogue into "24"), Debra and I realized what would really be funny...an Arrested 24 episode. Tobias as the evil mastermind Habib Marwan, George Sr./Oscar as the president and vice president, GOB as...oh anything, he's masterful. And Buster as the huge African-American CIA interrogator..."heyyy brother!". No really, this is funny stuff. Seriously. Lucille could be the martini-wielding CIA chief...the woman they put in those roles are comically about 20 years too young, anyway.

And yes, my gunfever is wafting here and there. Lately I've been somewhat taken with a copy of an MP5 PDW, the supercompact H&K submachine gun in civilian format. Small, powerful, and quick-firing. Although honestly, a rifle has advantages, still. END POST!

18 April 2005

A few crazy ramblings as the day winds down...

First off, I'm quite ready for the DVD release of Team America. Best action movie ever. Best puppet movie ever. Best musical ev....well, South Park Bigger Longer Uncut was pretty sweet, I'll call it a tie. Best Jerry Bruckheimer movie not directed by Jerry Bruckheimer, ever. No but seriously I'm eager to watch my favorite N. Korean dictator sing his sad, sweet song, one more time.

And I read some disheartening reviews of the Spanish CETME rifle I was set on...and still am somewhat set on, admittedly. Apparently it was manufactured by blind, spasmatic monkeys drunk on rancid sangria, and it is somewhat a crapshoot to get one that reliably fires and functions, without putting a lot of work and money into it. Hmmmm...at least, thats the pessimist version, probably advanced by the poor souls who did get stuck with a shoddy gun. But, a $400 version of a gun that normally costs $3000 or so? Not a bad deal, and one should expect to have to deal with some problems. Although it is more disheartening because the gun's principle role will be tactical home defence...a field in which reliability is tantamount. Realistically, getting a basic semi-auto AK-47 with a banana clip would be a decent solution. But I'm way too anti-communist to settle on that icon of the Soviet Union...not to mention that virtually every potential or real enemy of the past 50 years has used it or a variant. No, I think I'm still interested in the CETME. It's the ideal solution for me, if I can get one to work reliably. And the Dragunov rifle is out of the running as well, at least, as a "next purchase". Maybe someday I'll get one just to have fun at the range with, but its only use off the range would be tactical, medium range sniper duty. And it isn't even very good at that, compared to more serious sniper rifles such as the M40 or the...BARRETT. The FAL (FN-FAL, L1A1) is still in the running, a well-reputed rifle that has a simple aesthetic and nice reputation. If those Belgies make their rifles like they make their ales, then I'd have little worry about. But anyway, basically I'm looking for a good tactical rifle that has a high rate of fire, a powerful cartridge, and a large magazine capacity...so if the need arises, God forbid, one could put a stream of rounds through a door or even a wall. Sure, a 38 special snubnose is great, and probably one of the best all around solutions, but knowing you've got only six rounds...there would be some comfort in knowing you could fire off a warning shot or two, or lay down suppressing fire, without running empty. So Debra can have the 38 (it's hers anyway), to back me up. It doesn't hurt that she's an excellent shot! But yeah, I can't help but think that the AK is a very feasible solution...I mean, its well reputed, it is powerful, and it has a reputation for reliability. It is marginally cool looking, I confess. And even though it is Soviet, it ultimately was a post-war ripoff of the Germans. I can't remember what the name of the rifle was, but the Germans basically designed the AK in 1944, and the Russians adapted it. Oh well, we will see. (UPDATE A FEW DAYS LATER: Looking very seriously at a mid-range, decent FAL rifle. Perhaps a bit less cool looking than the CETME but high quality and powerful.)

And yes, I know its a bit silly to run through all these tactical scenarios but its just me, I suppose.

Been listening to the U.S. Navy Hymn, "Eternal Father Strong To Save". Very stirring, I remember it from Reagan's funeral, it was the most moving part of all that I heard. I will post the lyrics below:

Eternal Father! strong to save,
Whose arm doth bind the restless wave,
Who bids the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea.

O Saviour, whose almighty word,
The winds and waves submissive heard,
Who walkedst on the foaming deep,
And calm amid its rage did sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

O sacred Spirit, who didst brood
Upon the chaos dark and rude,
Who bad'st its angry tumult cease,
And gavest light, and life, and peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea!

O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe'er they go,
Thus ever let there rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

08 April 2005

China gearing up for a showdown...

It's time for us, the American people, to get over our Vietnam traumas and figure out exactly what price we are willing to pay for what. Because the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were hardly wars compared to what a Taiwan conflict would be. Would we pull together and put all our collective muscle into defeating expansionist aggression? Which isn't to say I can't see the other side somewhat, I'm not here to argue for or against our Taiwan policy, that's beside the point. The point is, if we were directly challenged, our fleet in the area was attacked and who knows, even sunk, would that stir up a long slumbering giant in us that would never give in? Or would it make us recoil in despondent shame, meekly accepting defeat, while the Leftists cheered and rejoiced to see their hated homeland brought low into abject contrition and weakness?

God forbid.

As someone who has a strong affinity for the US Navy (having initiated the first stages of application to Annapolis as a high school student with plans of submarine duty), I would say that while Iraq and Afghanistan have been ruled by the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, a Pacific conflict would give the Navy the lion's share of the workload, as in WWII (Marines are no longer as strictly defined as amphibious troops as they once were). Here's my outlook. If they sunk every last one of our ships, we'd build another fleet, steam back and kick their collective asses back to the mainland. And, for once, Japan would be on our side! Not necessarily a bad ally to have (we of all people should know that from WWII!).

Say they sunk that second fleet, and came over and landed in California. Okay, that's fine...but they aren't getting any further east than the junction of I-70 and Blue Ridge, at least until they pry my Enfield from my cold dead..........
Good morning Funkadelic Friends.


Sorry, just had to link to it.

Amateur punditry has lost a bit of savour to me this morning, and I don't feel driven to expound upon my brilliant conceptions to a vastly absent audience. I'll leave that to the pros. Today.

I had a nicely composed, rather loquacious post written about the Schiavo case among other things recently, and when I clicked submit, the filthy swines (I'm cleaning up my language here) gave me a script error or something. Click back in hopes of finding the text...no dice. Filthy, filthy swines. Brilliant words lost into the void of cyberspace.

Here is a new form of great entertainment:


Check out the satellite feature...

31 March 2005


She's passed on, as we knew to be inevitable in the past few days. I still don't have the time, finger strength, or mental fortitude to write all my thoughts on the matter. Suffice to say I think its a big deal, and it will influence things in the future. I am not bitter against Jeb and Dubya as some people suggest her supporters would be...I know Jeb was constrained by law. The difference is that Democrat governors have a long history of intervening and contradicting the courts. I'd have loved to hear the words of Andrew Jackson, slightly modified: "Greer made his decision, now let him enforce it!"

I don't know who will pay the price for this. Certainly not the Republicans for "intervening"...that lame libmedia mantra is laughable. Did they damn Eisenhower for intervening with the 101st Airborne to see that black kids were not denied entry into schools? Where were the fevered shrieks of "states' rights" then? Well, my first guess would be from Robert "Sheets" Byrd, but that's beside the point.

How tragically ironic that the liberals resorted to lauding the concept of federalism, something they've never been much enamoured of, as well as the general concept that government intervention is undesirable. Liberals are made of government intervention; it is, as Eric Idle would say, "the very stuff and pith of all [they] hold most dear". Don't preach to me about states' rights! A most disingenuous argument.

More sad, horrifying irony. What was it that prompted such an extreme about-face from the libs? Why were they going to such extremes? To defend the right of an adulterous man with a shady past and suspect credibility to starve his mentally retarded wife to death.

Did I hear a peep out of NOW?


The only evidence offered that Terri Schiavo wanted to have the feeding tube removed is intrinsically untrustworthy. The husband waited for years, until after he had recieved a million dollar malpractice award and fathered children with another woman. Then...only then...did he "remember" that Terri told him she would want to die in such a scenario. What sort of idiot buys that line?

To be honest, I don't think anyone does, not even the libs and Judge Greer. Here is the difference. The libs considerate it unfortunate circumstance that the unfaithful bastard Schiavo is most likely just trying to pull the plug on an inconvenience. The reason they want her to die has nothing to do with her wishes. It has to do with the fact that they view such a life as not worth living. They see it as a mercy killing. Even had Terri never specified what she would want, many of the libs, deep in their hearts, still would think she should die. If any of you have read your history books, specifically concerning a certain Reich between the second and fourth if you follow, the hair should be standing up on the back of your neck at this point. The justification to kill because "such a life is not worth living" is abhorrent to me. Down's syndrome? Starve 'em. Birth defect? Drown them in the river. Inferior genes? Put them down. Inferior race? Gas them.

Jesse Jackson, though. Never thought there was room in my heart for affection or respect for the guy, but he bought a tiny little patch of real estate there the other day. Sure, its free camera time and I'm sure he lusts after that, but, well, call me a sucker, but I bought his sincerity. Maybe its because I've been listening to Stevie lately, getting blackified a bit. Ebony....and ahhhhvory...

Speaking of...the song apparently is featured in the movie "Guess Who" (Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher). Here's my beef. Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney were cool. Paul was white but he wasn't white-bread, if you follow. He could groove, he could jam, he was smooth, you know? Ashton Kutcher? [Sideshow Bob-style shudder] He is a monument to antifunk. I mean, even the name, "Ashton". What a stupid suburban whiteboy name. I'm an equal opportunity name-mocker, bear in mind...I'll make fun of the Moquandas, LaBertrams, and Shawandas as readily as I'll mock the Ashingtons, Cougars, and Crawfords of suburbia. I know this is offtopic, but here goes...black people tend to name their children semi-random names, often beginning with "La" or some other prefix...they all have a similar sound typically, using similar syllables and consonants often. White people tend to name their boys with LAST NAMES FOR FIRST NAMES. Now, while I briefly considered "Rumsfeld" for our future son instead of our future Bull Terrier, it strikes me as dumb. I think the Latins have it right...Pedro, Maria, Juan, Carlos, etc. Simple names, traditional names.

Winston, though. That is a name.

"Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar."

29 March 2005

Hats Off to the Reverend Jackson

While I am normally quite keen on ridiculing, lambasting, and criticizing the liberal and generally odious Reverend Je$$e Jack$on (hehehehe), today he made me step back and give him some credit.

The irony that the desperate, death-hungry Leftists try to spin this issue as entirely political...while no Democrat senator voted against a measure to save her life, and dozens of Democrats in the House voted for the bill, and Jesse Jackson himself is on the scene, for whatever motivation. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, that he is simply a man of his convictions, who will stand up for what he believes is right despite pressure contrariwise. No matter if I normally agree with his convictions! I respect him a bit more today. I'm still dubious as to his motivation (he has always struck me as a gluttonous addict of media attention), but given the benefit of the doubt, he has shown himself to be rather courageous today.

I still can't type about the issue. I'm too frustrated by it and too overcome with things to say. And my hands hurt like heck. That's what I get for being a writer, a computer hobbyist, an IT worker, a guitarist, AND a keyboardist. My destiny is carpal tunnel, without a doubt.

25 March 2005

For someone who likes to write passionately about the issues of the day, the past week or two has been difficult, in a strange way. I am exercising restraint. The Terri Schiavo case is basically too big to even start to write about. It is one of those cases where there are so many points to make and so many holes in the opposition's arguments that there is nowhere to start. Not to mention the fact that I've read some of the most brilliant columns in a good while concerning this...from Thomas Sowell to Krauthammer to Peggy Noonan to Ann Coulter to David Limbaugh, etc. It is one of those things where I could make a thousand points, write tens of thousands of words on this...but not just one. So I refrain. I don't have the time, and my right hand aches with hints of carpal tunnel, so I must refrain.

Honestly, right now, every 5 seconds or so a brilliant point (either mine, or remembered from a column) comes up in my head that would wither and crush the libs' pro-euthanasia argument, but I have to say, no, I can't write about this. It's hard and I'd love to expound on this for hours, and I'll answer anyone who wants to have a civil debate on this with as much detail as possible...but writing on here to an absent audience? I want to, but I can't. I just can't get started. So I've got to end this post.

10 March 2005

The Poetry of Funkytown

Romani Ite Domum
by Eustace Lufgren

Cantankerous wantons will clog the back door
No question they're after what you've got in store
Not a drop of remorse as they ravage the scene
And greedily labour to extract your spleen

Salvaged jalopies don't go for much bread
Better off in the frypan, least, that's what he said
Would you look me in the eyes and tell me that I'm real?
Tell me, how could you smile so warmly as I pillage and steal?

(And Don't You Care?)
Ooh baby, they gotta take it all away...
(Why Not Another Day?)
No honey, it's just got to be this way...
Don't shudder when they do their job, they're doing as they should
Please listen when I tell you that this all works out for good

There'll come a day when you know you've paid your dues
And the snakes won't have a single word to say
You'll have cleared the balance on those ruby-studded shoes
And noone can take them away
No, not a soul could ever take those away

Eustace's most recent composition. Interesting to note the obscure Pythonisms, that I was hardly aware of. Romani Ite Domum will obviously strike a note of recollection with Life of Brian fans, and the first verse and the chorus have an almost horrific reference to (from The Meaning of Life) Live Organ Transplants. And oh, those ruby studded shoes. The mere words bring to mind a thousand Donald Fagen-isms. Next song:

Dance of the Glitterati
by Eustace Lufgren

That Harvey Daniels never had a past to face
He slunk away in sullen disgrace
Ripe with tonic musings of the tertiary world
A cognoscenti's mind unfurled

Break out the Chesters and tell it once more
Give them no quarter, this time as before
They'd love to see you squirm and writhe in karmic agony
But you'll spoonfeed them their words one by one

Loot the masses with an aptly seedy scheme
We'll choke back the urge to scream
Keep up that smile lest you fall from off your throne
They'll not cast you any bones

The jackals set upon him in the blink of an eye
Left him for dead and scurried on by
He never got the chance to say all that he meant to say
But we've not lost yet the writing on the wall

A frightful specter of a distant tet-a-tet
A charming smirk at fate
A dismal mantra chanted up into the sky
We're much too old to die

Break out the Chesters and tell it once more
Give them no quarter, this time as before
They'd love to see you squirm and writhe in karmic agony
But you'll spoonfeed them their words one by one

Break out the Chesters, eh? Dig deep into the Donald Fagen library, and you find the Chesterfield Kings and of course, Your Gold Teeth. The shocking thing I noted was just how accidentally poignant the last verse was, despite the fact that I errr Eustace has become the only songwriter other than Eric Idle (again, whats with the Pythons?) to rhyme "tet-a-tet" with "fate", or probably to even use "tet-a-tet" in a song. But anyway, the "dismal mantra" is what interests me..."we're much too old to die". An aging populace, increasing power of medicine, increasing cost of medicine, and a growing socialist fervor to demand a "right" to be taken care of by taxpayers. It's much like the Numenoreans (stay with me Tolkien geeks) who, as they lived longer lives, became more obsessed with death and would do anything to extend their miserable, unhappy lives on Earth (or Arda, if you will) just a few seconds more. I don't mean to start an age-war, but there is something about the AARP and its ilk, the frantic, easily manipulated bloc of fear-driven voters who seek only to ensure that the government (read: people who work and pay taxes) will spare no expense in artificially extending their lives with whatever drugs may be available. I thought we were supposed to Just Say No? Ahh, these mixed messages... Anyway. Oh my LORD!!!!! AARP....AR-P...Ar-Pharazon!!! The last king of Numenor who drove his ships to the undying lands to wrest immortality from the Valar!!! It makes all the sense in the world!!!

I'll bypass Gorgonzola for now. It is the pinnacle of Eustace crappery, though I do love it so.

16 hours or so until 70-291 reckoning time. MCSA exam number two. 70-290 already defeated me soundly, but we are regrouping and shall swarm back and retake the battlements before dawn.

As some of you may know, beverage tasting/reviewing is quite a hobby of mine...although sometimes its gotten to the point (recently, thats why I'm posting) that I would rather just not worry about reviews and enjoy (a beer, a brandy, a whisky, whatever the case may be) the drink without giving thought to nose, palate, body, finish, etc. The other side of me though, which is practically preparing to write a book on the subject, sees it as lost opportunity. But while on the subject, let me sing the virtues of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2005...while I've got a bottle in my basement cellaring to tame its intense hoppiness, I've enjoyed several bottles of this Californian barleywine so far, and I have to say it is easily one of the best beer aromas I've ever run into. The taste is a bit on the overly bitter side (especially for a barley wine, which should have a thick malt element to offset the bitterness), but not too bad, and its entirely justified by that rapturous nose. Even a week-old bottlecap smelled magnificent!

03 March 2005

Non-Lethal Pain Weapons Under Research

OK, this article has its laughable moments. You've got people shrinking back in horror at the thought that we would develop a weapon that...[gasp]...causes pain.

As opposed to all the tried-and-true painfree conventional weapons used the world over, like napalm, high explosives, frag grenades, automatic weapons, bayonets, pointy sticks, etc.

Even funnier is the thought that the weapon was being developed to be used for torture. OK, why do we need new technology for torture? We can inflict all the pain we want. Any nation can. You can go out and buy a can of pepper spray if you want to be able to inflict pain. Your grandpa's trusty 12-gauge will cause severe pain when discharged into the pain-recipient's crotch area. We don't need high-tech pain for torture, you are missing the point!

The point of the weapon system is to save lives! Save the lives of angry rioters and the lives of soldiers. What makes this system distinct is not that it inflicts pain. What makes it different is that it is both remote and nonlethal. You can keep murderous mobs at a distance without unloading a 30 caliber Browning at them.

People are just scared of anything new. Teargas was once new, and I'm sure the Nervous Nellies of that day were probably screaming, that's unethical! Take us back to the days of bayonetted rifles and billy clubs!

The immense irony is that we are probably alone in the fact that we spend a great deal of money researching how to avoid killing if it is not entirely necessary. Most countries in the world would handle a riot with armed soldiers. But still, people who claim to advocate "ethics" are upset that we are researching riot control devices that are both more effective and safer?

Remember when those subhuman scum bombed that car with 4 construction workers in Fallujah? And a mob gathered, and the desecrated their charred remains and strung them up with glee? That is when a UH-60 Blackhawk equipped with a microwave or laser non-lethal weapon would have been wonderful. If one of those men was your husband, or son, or brother, or father, and you were watching hate-crazed men stamp with a evil pleasure on the smoldering body of your loved one via CNN (what was wrong with that journalist? I have to wonder, since most of them carry a sidearm, wouldn't you feel a little tiny bit obliged to defend the murdered bodies of your countrymen? but I digress), I don't think you'd be too concerned about the ethics of a pain-inducing weapon.

I'm trying to remember, didn't I call for a nuclear strike on Fallujah? Yes, even we conservatives can be emotional!

In other news...oh wait, there is no other news.

My "jury" is still out on Wacko Jacko. I am in the unusual circumstance of not having a firm belief on an issue. Which at least is refreshing to observe because it implies I am not a knee-jerk kind of person all the time (hehe) but I'm genuinely not leaning one way or another with his case. I was leaning towards the prosecution, when the Smoking Gun busted the allegations out, but after recent revelations, especially about the family history, I think MJ may be a freak, and who knows, maybe a child molester, but he could still just be set up.

Or worse...there could have been genuine molestation, but the family tried to milk it and lied about/exaggerated it. That would piss me off...one little lie would spoil the whole testimony.

We'll probably never know, just like with OJ. Yeah, right.

24 February 2005

Well, fan mah brow and call me an anchovy, Harvey Daniels, because we've got a rather pithy column quote on the way, from Peggy Noonan, one of my top three favorite columnists (the others being Krauthammer and Goldberg):

'Tuesday [Larry Summers] faced an angry faculty gathering where "his ears were pinned back," as one reporter said. Summers now seems to be saying he made a mistake in airing the idea of gender-related differences in the interests and aptitudes of scholars. But here is what he may be forgetting, for people under pressure often lose track of their lack of culpability: Summers did nothing wrong. He thought aloud about an interesting question in a colorful and un-defended way. That's what universities are for.

His mistake was stepping on the real third rail in American cultural politics. It's not Social Security. It is attempting to reconcile the indisputable equality of all people with their differentness. The left thinks if we're all equal we're all alike. Others say we're all equal but God made us different, too, and maybe he did that to keep things interesting, and maybe he did it because each human group is meant to reflect an aspect of his nature. Our differentness is meant to teach us his infinite variety and complexity. It's all about God.

But what the Summers story most illustrates is that American universities now seem like Medieval cloisters. They're like a cloister without the messy God part. Old monks of leftism walk their hallowed halls in hooded robes, chanting to themselves. Young nuns of leftist deconstructionism, pale as orchids, walk along wringing their hands, listening to their gloomy music. They become hysterical at the antichrist of a new idea, the instrusion of the reconsideration of settled matter. Get thee behind me, Summers.'

And WE are the "conservatives"?

OK, one more bit of Noonan's acerbic insight:

Hillary. Forget her prepared speeches, put aside her moderate statements on Iraq and abortion. This is how you know she's running for president in 2008. Ten days ago a reporter interviewed her in the halls of the Senate (another kind of cloister) and asked if she planned to run for president. She did not say, "I'm too busy serving the people of New York to think about the future." She did not say, "Oh, I already have a heckuva lot on my plate." She said, "I have more than I can say grace over right now."

I have more than I can say grace over right now. What a wonderfully premeditated ad lib for the Age of Red State Dominance. I suggested a few weeks ago that Mrs. Clinton was about to get very, very religious. But her words came across as pious and smarmy, like Tammy Faye with a law degree. Maybe she still thinks in stereotypes; maybe she thinks that's what little Christian ladies talk like while they stay home baking cookies. Whatever, it was almost as good as her saying, "I'm running, is this not obvious to even the slowest of you?"

OK, that's it for now. I haven't even finished her column, and I fear I will end up posting all of it here unless I just post what I've got.

14 February 2005

I've been thinking of countless things to regurgitate here on this dank, dreary corner of the outer fringes of the Blogiverse, but none are coming to mind right now when I actually have some time to spew them out. So I'll make it a random thought post:

Broadband is quite impressive. I've been enjoying playing Battlefield Vietnam with actual live opponents, makes it much more interesting, and difficult. I'm relatively quite a poor player, but its still much fun. Choppers in particular....the air cav!

I was struck by Wesley Pruden's article "The Big Hand for a Few Real Heroes". Very moving and well put. I'm also a bit moved by the fact that I am the son of a veteran and the grandson of two veterans, one of which, serving in the Army Air Corps, was a B17 waist gunner on bombing runs over Europe. Pretty hairy I would imagine. It's enough of a trick to keep one of those in the air anyway, much less when being shot at...

Kudos to Andrew Castro for his UMKC election victory. A brilliant upset and a great effort. You had my vote.

My Rickenbacker is a wonderful sounding bass. Even running into the run-of-the-mill Ampeg solidstate amp at church, it sounded like thunderous voice of God, or at least, as much as a bass guitar can sound like the aforementioned voice of God. Aggressive, biting, full, dynamic, assertive. Ooowee baby you set my soul on fire.

Man, I can't even populate a simple random thoughts post, how pathetic.

Well, today is Valentine's Day...the fourth such day that has ever had any meaning for me. Sure, its a trite little shallow holiday in general that is basically a marketing tool for florists, but hey, its nice to take a day to celebrate special relationships. To the unhitched or otherwise unspoken for, so sorry. Maybe next year, or the next, or the next. Who knows, don't rush it. But I have no intention of bludgeoning the single among us with dating/relationship advice.


07 February 2005

The Nightfly

Without a doubt, the finest album to be released in the 1980s. Donald Fagen's first and best solo project, following hard upon the post-Gaucho breakup of Steely Dan, is a stylistically complete and absolutely funkadelic piece of work, both musically and lyrically. You have to stretch yourself a bit (at least I did) to deal with the general synthy-ness of the record, but that's all part of the mood anyway. Every line is deftly shaped and delivered, making this particular tunesmith better with words than almost any modern novelist. He paints his pictures with vague, seemingly unrelated details, and they come out all the more unique and lush because of it. This is the heart and inspiration of Eustace...a psychotic, haphazard brilliance that is immensely entertaining, consummately wrapped in the choicest grooves and melodies. On their own, both the music and the lyrics are wonderful works of art, but with them fused together so naturally on this album, its an astounding achievement.

Buy this album and indulge your ears: Donald Fagen - The Nightfly.

Won't you pour me a Cuban Breeze, Gretchen...

05 February 2005


Yes, it's grand. From a weak, sickly 24kbps dialup connection to a 5000kbps cable modem. I love it...it would be hard to go back again.

I've got nothing else for you...go home. I just wanted to come on here and crow about my newfound bandwidth.

01 February 2005

Title Line of a Post for which I Have Not Yet Selected a Topic

Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Not much going on, other than a fierce battle being waged in my inner being to defeat the last vestiges of an invading horde of bacteria and/or viral warriors, that had laid waste to my immune system Sunday and Monday.

We bought a DVD set of the first season of "Arrested Development". I had always thought the show to be amusingly madcap show that warranted a tune-in every Sunday night, but now, viewing it sequentially over a weekend, it is probably the best new show to come out since the debut of South Park, in my grandiose opinion. Brilliance, my friends, sheer brilliance. The writing is great, the acting is hilarious...the characters are all perfect.

Buy the DVD. It's worth it to take in the storyline sequentially, and although it is ridiculously premature, this looks like one of those great shows we'll look back on.

Enough of this commercialized flatulence. Go home. That's what I'm about to do.

28 January 2005

On Morals and Legislation

I've only got ten minutes or so, so I must be brief. Yesterday I heard a local talk show blowhard...err...host talking about local legislation to tax porn and strip clubs, and he was lambasting it as an attempt to legislate morality. While I see his point, I think people like this rarely do themselves, at least to its full extent.

What about cigarettes? We tax those heavily...even outlawing them outright in certain places. That is a "sin tax". Russ Johnson, if you are out there, what is your position on taxes on cigarettes? Alcohol? Gambling? Should casinos be heavily taxed? Let's be consistent, please. One way or the other. The gay activists who scream about people legislating morality also need to look at the cig nazis and make sure they are not aligned with them. Oh, you could say, "well, cigarettes are being outlawed because they pose a health risk". Well, as the who-knows-how-many victims of AIDS could attest, if they had survived, there are heightened health risks of that lifestyle (in general) as well. I am not being judgemental, its just the unfortunate facts.

As for me, let's just go for a flat income tax, or a national sales tax, and leave it at that. Adjust the spending to the taxes, not the other way around.

OK, done with my brief snippet.

26 January 2005

The Charge of the Light Brigade
by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Half a league half a league
Half a league onward
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
`Forward the Light Brigade
Charge for the guns' he said
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred
`Forward the Light Brigade!
Was there a man dismay'd
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd & thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot & shell,
Boldly they rode & well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter'd & sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd & thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot & shell,
While horse & hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them
Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

25 January 2005

Work-Related Vent Post

Well, right now it feels a bit like that eery, haunting calm that follows a devastating hurricane...you look around and see the ravaged landscape, but birds being to chirp again and the wind only rustles softly.

OK, I'm getting a bit dramatic. I have a Gollum-ish relationship with computers ("he both hates and loves the Ring, as he hates and loves himself"). They are my bread and butter, they are my only marketable hobby/skill (people aren't bashing down my door for my guitar designing, gun collecting, and drink reviewing). All yesterday and most of today as thousands of dollars and potentially more hung in the balance I've worked like mad, and now that I've resolved most of the emergencies I sink back into the warm coccoon of quietude that populates most of my days. Most of it arises of working with cheap, old, and unreliable tools. Old operating systems (98, 95, NT4), really old software, and ancient, dust-encrusted hardware. Sure, if it still works, why replace it, but the question is, how much work does it/will it require to continue making it work? Work is time and time is money! It's all right though, mgmt is coming around and I'm getting a delightful new rack of server-oriented goodies. Oh Frabjous Day, Calloo, Callay!

But yeah, I had to extract a corrupt mdb file from an old computer, and then hack into it (unfortunately none of my computers have the requisite program, Microsoft Access, so I had to use a really poor shareware MDB viewer). But I made it work and saved the company time, money, and headache. And I am comically proud of my little achievement, which is why I am on here strutting around with such braggadocio. Yes, my minions! Bow to your unflappable, unstoppable, inimitable Computer Nerd Commandant! Huh-hoy.

Yes, I'm asking for it...a corrupt disk on the server or something. Well, that would be perfectly ironic and kismet or fate or whatever they call it...but for the fact that THAT VERY THING HAPPENED YESTERDAY TOO. These computers had been behaving themselves so nicely. The server is running NT and it's over 5 years old...running continuously for that long. The old girl is getting on in years.

Enough DorkSpeak. Well, enough of that kind of DorkSpeak anyway.

I'd like a nice chopper simulation. A serious one with good physics. I grew up on Gunship and Gunship II, Janes Longbow, and Comanche 1, 2, and 3. To tell you the truth, after playing Comanche 4 I realize how poor the physics are. Maybe the new choppers are that "fly-by-wire" but the collective was totally unrealistic. But anyway, I'm a huge fan of the Battlefield series (1942, Vietnam) and with the advent of BF Vietnam I was at first quite disgruntled by a difficult and hard to control flight system for the choppers. It is really strange...its somewhat "arcade-y" in that there are very few controls and you can't look around in the cockpit or control much, but the flight mechanics I found to be a lot more realistic...the aircraft seems to have heft and weight, and it takes some skill to fly it well...skill I have started to develop. Nothing like popping over the hills, scooting through canyons, hugging the terrain...ahh yeah. I only wish I had broadband so I would be stuck raining fire down on the stupid CPU bots in single-player mode. But I digress...it would be nice to have a nice chopper sim that had the detail of earlier sims with the challenging and entertaining flight physics of BFV. Maybe I should just get Microsoft Flight Simulator and putz around in a civilian chopper...but buzzing the skies over metro areas like a traffic reporter is not nearly so much fun as zipping in and out of rugged jungle terrain in pursuit of an enemy convoy.

Bear in mind, this was a childhood dream of mine. I dreamed of one day piloting an RAH-66 Comanche for the US Army. The slow, gnawing recognition that my horrifically bad eyesight would dash any chance of entering flight school of any kind was needless to say a rather bitter pill. It was about that time that I consoled myself with a change of plans...I started preparations to apply at Annapolis. Army pilot? Maybe not. Sub skipper? A bit more possible.

NEEDLESS TO SAY....I didn't end up cruising the deeps of the ocean hunting commies either. I'm quite fortunate that I haven't had to serve in such a capacity, to be honest. So many things I would have missed out on, and given my physical lack of fitness I have to be honest...I'm probably of much more use to the country, the economy, and the people of the world in general in front of a keyboard and not charging into combat with a rifle. But should Uncle Sam call, I'll be here. Over the past few years I've been quite torn on the issue of military service. The old side of me (that in my late teen years had fallen asleep) yearns to don the uniform and serve. The new side of me wants to move on, spend my free time with the love of my life, and eventually raise a family. Not that the two are incompatible at all, but service would seperate us to some extent, and service in a combat zone, especially, is something that I look at with new eyes, now. I was once ready to go in and pay any price necessary...and while I remain that today, it is with reluctance. Not for myself (for those who have hope, death is only the entryway to everlasting peace and glory) but for, again, the love of my life, to whom I would be unspeakably loathe to deal such loss. And besides, our country would be in a much worse state if I would be of more value to it as a rifleman than as a computer technician. I know my gifts...and long distance marching is not one of them unfortunately. Is this all a copout and excuse? I don't think so, but I don't know, I'm just trying to do some honest reflection. I realize what a useless Army lieutenant I would have been. Soft-spoken, unassertive, rather shy...entirely incapable of rallying a platoon of my peers to charge "into the jaws of death, into the mouth of Hell". I have a poetic appreciation for the gallantry of men in combat...something that has been lost in the post-Vietnam era, and has often been misinterpreted as a love of war itself.

As a child I attempted to memorize the (above referenced) Tennyson poem The Charge of the Light Brigade. "Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to question why, theirs but to do and die." The same inspiration I felt then wells up now. Call it foolishness, call it machismo, call it what you will, but I see and have always seen an amazing virtue and admirable courage in the men that fight for us, and though now my path has taken me elsewhere in one of life's merciful and gracious turns, I once aspired to follow that path. In the sixth grade I pored through "The Art of War in the Western World" not to be confused with the much shorter and less practical "Art of War" by Sun Tzu, which I have also read. I now own that book...it is a masterful, if somewhat unknown, analysis of war and tactics. My understanding of tactics in particular was strongly shaped by the book in particular...the idea of heavy infantry/light infantry/heavy cavalry/light cavalry is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.

OK enough ranting...