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Pardon me if I’m just a bit premature. You see, Mrs. R and I will be setting out shortly to visit her family Up North for the Independence Day hols, returning to the Port-Swiller residence next Tuesday (still sans the gels!), and it’s unlikely that my raccoon-like fingers will come within reach of a keyboard before then. Feel free to help yourselves to the decanter while I’m away. The walnuts are on the table and the Stilton is over on the sideboard.
I must say that there is something so charmingly clean about the trappings of our Fourth of July celebrations, in which ol’ Robbo has always taken a huge and simple delight. Flags, fireworks and the musick of John Philip Sousa – what could one possibly dislike about them? Also, we’ve driven so many other holidays into the ground through over-commercialization and tawdry sentimentality that it’s a pleasure to wallow in such wholesome, unblemished (well, except for what they’ve done to the celebration on the National Mall) fun.
Of course, there is the deeper meaning of the day as well. And apropos of that, I will leave you with a linky to an excellent column over at First Things in which Rodney Howsare discusses the difference between true, responsible, reality-based freedom – which would have been readily understood by the Founding Fathers as critical to the health of our Nation- and the modern, puerile, nihilistic definition which poisons the fabric of society so thoroughly these days.
Don’t worry – I’m not leaving on a note of Doom. I still believe in American Exceptionalism and I also believe that despair is a big no-no. We’ll manage somehow. So Happy Birthday, America!
Number 24, Graham Chapman’s Naughty Bits
Monty Python members have reunited to voice a 3D animated film based on the memoirs of the late Graham Chapman.
A Liar’s Autobiography will feature recordings that Chapman, who died in 1989 aged 48, made of his 1980 book.
John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones have all signed up while Eric Idle is not involved. The film is due out in spring next year.
I wonder why Idle didn’t sign on. He’s made an absolute killing flogging Spamalot, so you’d think he’d be interested in perpetuating the whole Python ethos.
It may be heresy to say so [Ed.- NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!], but I find over the years that the appeal of Python has gradually eroded, albeit very unevenly. Don’t misunderstand me: Their best stuff is still priceless. But as time goes by, I notice more and more a meh reaction to a lot of the in-between bits, and a recognition that some of the sketches they did were just plain dumb. (I was going to mention “Upper Class Twit of the Year” as an example of this last category, but I never liked that one to begin with- far too hamfisted for my taste.)
Speaking of their best, why don’t we go ahead and roll one of ol’ Robbo’s very favorite sketches, taken from one of his very favorite episodes:
So I thought I would take a break and think about something else.
This is the West Quoddy Head lighthouse in Maine. West Quoddy Head is the easternmost point in the United States. The fact that the easternmost point in the United States is named West Quoddy Head is one of those little absurdities of life in which ol’ Robbo delights, and it makes me smile every time I think about it.
One of these days I should like to go see WQH in person just to say that I had done so. (I’ve never been farther east than the Kennebec.) Unfortunately, even from our place in Maine, a trip that far would make for a seriously long day of travel, as you cayunt get theyah from heyah.
As I continue to wade through the insane (no other word for them) details of Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore, it occurs to me to wonder whether anyone has yet produced a similar account of Mao’s Cultural Revolution? Is the information even available? I’m not sure even the Chinese know how many millions of poor souls Mao did away with, except that he more than likely out-scored old Uncle Joe (the two of them making Hitler look like a lightweight.)
It strikes me also that such an examination would be extremely important and here’s why: Aside from a few die-hard fellow travelers and idiot college kids, most people today understand that the Soviets were a mad, bad lot and that Stalin was pure evil. On the other hand, there remains a curious benignity in the West toward the ChiComs, with Mao perceived not as an even more psychotic villain than Stalin, but somehow as almost cute. (Seriously. Walk down the street with a Hitler tee-shirt and you’ll be arrested for hate crimes. Walk down the street in a Mao shirt and you’ll be thought hip.) Progressivism, with which we seem to be flirting once again, is totalitarianism’s little brother. (Or, as Peej O’Rourke says, Communists worship Satan, Socialists believe perdition is a good system run by bad people and Liberals think we should all go to hell because it’s warm there in the winter.) Given that, and to avoid slippery slopes, it seems to me that we should know the truth of the matter about what happens when somebody sets out to perfect Mankind.
Oh, almost forgot to ask: If you could recommend any such book, I’d appreciate it.
The post below brought to mind an RC Cola commercial from the mid-80′s that caught a goodish amount of flak at the time from fellow travelers, but which amused me intensely. Fortunately, through the magic of YouTube, here it is:
Update: While we’re at it, how about another classic (made, I think, by the same PR shop)?
As I say, there was much hand-wringing and tsk, tsking about these ads. The claim was that they were “insensitive” and “hurtful” and likely to provoke the Sovs into nuking us, or something, especially with that idiot maniac Ronnie “Ray-gun” in the White House.
(Don’t you historical revisionists who like to pretend now that everybody loved Reagan try to say otherwise. I was there. I know.)
As to the charge of insensitivity to the goddam Commies? My reaction was, “More, please.”
Some retro ideas are much worse than others and here’s one: The Russian Federal Guard Service is going NKVD chic:
MOSCOW — Russia’s federal guard service, in charge of protecting President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, may soon sport black leather overcoats harking back to the era of Stalin’s purges. The elite service known by its Russian acronym FSO has launched a tender to purchase 60 leather trenchcoats on the official site for government purchases, instantly drawing tongue-in-cheek criticism from Russian bloggers.
Long leather trenchcoats are infamously associated with uniforms of Soviet NKVD secret police, worn by its low-ranking officers at the height of Stalin’s pre-war purges in the late 1930s.
The coats ordered by the FSO appear to be nearly identical to the NKVD coats, according to the tender documentation and images uploaded on the website zakupki.gov.ru last week.
The jet-black “light leather overcoat” as the item is described is meant for “high-ranking FSO officers” and features a belt and various insignia, including the image of the Russian two-headed eagle on every button.
The 60 overcoats are ordered by the service along with 60 black leather jackets for a total sum of 2.9 million roubles ($104,600).
“The next tender: a batch of black Voronok cars and Mausers,” quipped one Russian blogger, writing under the nickname _abnormal_ on LiveJournal website.
Very amusink Ab, but perhaps a bit nekulturny, yes? Let’s hope Comrade Putin doesn’t take you up on the idea.
The question flies round the clubs: How is ol’ Robbo coming along while the gels are gone at summah camp for two weeks?
Well, the answer is that he’s sort of wishing it were three weeks.
A nice little article in the Virginny Pilot about a new archeological survey of Civil War wrecks in the James caught ol’ Robbo’s eye (and gave him an excuse to post the above print):
The archaeological survey of the USS Cumberland and CSS Florida is being conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Navy, a news release from NOAA said. Researchers are using sonar technology to create three-dimensional maps of the two shipwrecks to analyze their current conditions and better understand the technological innovations of the time.
The Cumberland, a 1,726-ton wooden frigate, was lost on March 8, 1862, during the Battle of Hampton Roads, when the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia, formerly the USS Merrimack, rammed the Cumberland. It went down with more than 100 men. Nearby are the remains of the notorious Confederate commerce raider Florida. In late 1864, a Union warship seized the Florida at a harbor in Brazil and towed it to Hampton Roads, where it was rammed by a U.S. Navy troop ferry on Nov. 19, 1864, and sent to the bottom.
The Cumberland has been surveyed before. Apparently, this is the first time the Florida has been gone over.
The entire article isn’t much longer than this, but it’s well worth clickying over. Apparently, the author foozled the names of the ships in an earlier version (since corrected), causing something of a historickal flame war to break out in teh comments and leading on to some general scathing remarks about grammar, publick education and journalists as a whole.
My beef? Referring to a ship as “it” instead of “she” or “her.” I suppose that’s in the journalistic standards manual somewhere, but it also indicates to me an absence of love for the sea.
Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland, CA has joined the chorus of those wishing to mainstream “gender-bending” by enacting a program this week that, according to a press release, tells kindergarteners “there are more than two genders.”
The kindergarten through fifth grade school hosted a 2-day program for students titled, “Gender Spectrum Diversity Training,” in which single-sex Hawaiian geckos and transgender clownfish were brought in to teach children that “there are different ways to be boys. There are different ways to be girls,” according to Redwood Heights principal Sara Stone. Students received gender diversity training as they learned about “boy snakes that act ‘girly’.”
This is only the latest example of what seems to be a New-Age, gender-bending agenda pushed into the mainstream media by those who refuse to accept the traditional sex differences between men and women. A couple in Toronto, Canada has sparked outrage because they refuse to assign a specific gender to their infant “Storm,” preferring instead to believe “a child’s sex should not determine his or her place in the world.”
I didn’t say anything about that Toronto story when it appeared, but now, a few weeks on, it seems that the story was just part of a sudden eruption of this kind of thing. Why now?
Of course, “sex” is a term of biology, while “gender” is a term of politics. I need hardly tell any of you lot which one I find to be loathsome.
As it happens, after much prodding from the Mothe, I am now deep into Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. Of course, it is filled with discussion of the Communist vision of the “New Man” and the need of the Reds to wipe out anything and everything (and, I should say, anyone and everyone) that stood in the way of their campaign to create him. I see a lot of the same sort of thing here, although since its Modern Progressivistas driving things, I suppose we should refer to it as the “New Person.”
*For the benefit of the Mothe, “Lola” was a song by the Kinks back in the 70′s about a fellah getting tangled with a transvestite in a dance club. Money lyric: “Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls.
It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, ‘cept for Lola.”