You are currently browsing the daily archive for September 10, 2008.

The Old Dominion Tory sends along a link (via several of our mutual bloggy friends) to the BBC’s Radio 4 series “At War With Wellington”, which chronicles his Peninsular Campaign of 1808-1814 against Napoleon’s armies in Portugal and Spain.  The series is composed of two half-hour documentaries and five shorter pieces, and is advertised to cover not just the major battles themselves, but also ancillary subjects such as food, travel, medicine, pillage, camp followers, and so on.

I’ve not heard any of these broadcasts yet, and frankly, as a holder of near Elizabeth Longford-like admiration for the Iron Dook I am somewhat suspicious of what kind of treatment he’ll get at the hands of the Beeb , but I am eager to give them a try. (And for that matter, I doubt that ODT would forward the link if it were that bad)

I was chatting with Mrs. R a bit ago.  Because of our schedules and my longish commute, I frequently wind up eating dinner on my own on weekdays and she asked me what I would like this evening.  “Oh,” I said, “A steak will be fine.”

From her cool reaction, I could tell she was not happy.  Mrs. R is one of those people who is always on the lookout for “new” and “different” recipes.  It drives her crazy sometimes that I am perfectly content with such a simple meal (i.e., a pan-fried ribeye, a few potatoes and a plain salad), and even more that I remain content with it despite having dined on it some thousands of times in the course of our life together.

It occurred to me after we went through this little tug-of-war for the umpteenth time that when she next  asks me what I would like, I jolly well ought to reply, “I’d like the lobster thermidor aux crevettes, with a mornay sauce garnished with truffle paté, brandy and a fried egg on top and spam.”

That’d learn her.

They’re running Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D on the local classickal station at the moment. (Along with the 7th in A, it is one of my two favorite symphonies of ol’ Ludwig Van.)

The performance of the 2nd movement is the slowest I have ever heard – by a considerable margin. So startled was I by this that I looked up the recording on the playlist. Turns out that it’s by the Columbia Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Bruno Walter.

True to form. Glaciers ain’t in it.

Yes, it’s a screed and it’s a keeper as James takes apart Canadian blow-hard Heather Mallick. A sample:

It’s possible that Republican men, sexual inadequates that they are, really believe that women will vote for a woman just because she’s a woman.

Consider the joy that would reign if someone wrote that “Democrats, racial guilt-mongers that they are, really believe that African-Americans will vote for an African-American just because he’s an African-American.” Of course Republican men don’t believe that women will vote for her just because she’s a woman. It’s surely a factor, but there’s the possibility that they will vote for her because she is not a woman like Heather Mallick.

You have to love the “Sexual inadequates that they are” line as well; if there’s one thing that’s amused me in the last two weeks, it’s the screechy distaste of Ms. Palin coming from men who embodied the Modern Alda Paradigm of masculinity, which is to say they are nervous around cars, think guns are icky, had their own Snugli, have wives in corporate jobs who make more money than they do, and still get dissed behind their backs because they can’t figure out how to make the bed. The Lost Boys, if you will. Now, some women can’t stand Sarah Palin for their own reasons, personal or ideological; same with men. Some men, however, are made deeply uneasy by her, because she’s the one who ignored the sensitive poet-guys in high school for the jocks, and didn’t seem to grasp the essential high-school truth that it’s cool to be a loser. But that’s rank psychoanalysis, and we won’t stoop to that.

She continues on the women-voting-for-women thing:

They’re unfamiliar with our true natures. Do they think vaginas call out to each other in the jungle night? I mean, I know men have their secret meetings at which they pledge to do manly things, like being irresponsible with their semen and postponing household repairs with glue and used matches. Guys will be guys, obviously.

It’s funny, because it’s true! Bronze that paragraph; if nothing else, it’s the death of PC, and license for guys to say anything. At least she’s honest about the idea of female solidarity – it matters only if the ideological stars have aligned – no, if the ideological cycles have synced, to use terms she’d probably employ. Or has already. It’s not about whether Sarah Palin is a woman, it’s whether she’s the right kind. She’s supposed to restrict snow machines, not ride them or for God’s sake get knocked up by some slopey-brow dullard who rides them. (Competitively! Gawd) Nationalize oil companies, don’t make deals. Have one or two children, not five – Good Gaia, woman, are you trying to make overstuffed congested Alaska top the one-million-citizen mark all by yourself?

As for guys being irresponsible with their precious bodily essences, who cares? Aren’t you using protection? Or are they using vagina-confusing Man-Beams to cloud your mind? As for putting off home repairs, here’s a hint: either learn how to do it yourself, or admit there might be yet in this enlightened age a strange vague hangover that divides labor based on innate gender-influenced personality traits. If you expect him to fix things, and you roll your eyes when he tries, and you accuse him of using spit and matches, his motivation will be diminished – and even then he’ll probably wait until you’re out of earshot before he mutters “what a fishwife.” If your man can’t fix anything it but whines that he can make a really good white sauce, don’t blame him when you have an affair with the electrician.

I know this: Mr. Palin probably doesn’t postpone household repairs, or use glue, or old matches. He can probably change the oil in the car, too. There are guys like that. Not every wife has to sit in a cold Jiffy Lube waiting room leafing through Field and Stream, wishing the weirdo in the other chair would stop looking at her legs.

Read the rest. And the no-hot-beverages rule is in effect.

Aha!  The comments to my post below concerning the mechanics of blog formatting give me the perfect excuse to post this:

As well as this:

May I humbly beg of those of you not already devotees of Fawlty Towers that you immediately purchase the complete set of them?  I personally guarantee that you will not regret it.

Having last evening entered upon his description of the reign of Theodoric the Ostrogoth over a sizeable chunk of the defunct Western Roman Empire, I am happy to report that I have now reached the half-way point in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall. This is my first time reading this work all the way through, a project I started some time in the spring and hope to have completed by the end of the year.

A modest achievement, you may be saying to yourself, but given the myriad other demands placed on my attention and the relatively little time I have for reading, I must confess that I am really rayther proud of it.

Henry Purcell

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Henry Purcell, England’s greatest native composer, in 1659. Organist at Westminster Abbey, composer of anthems, odes, operas and incidental theatre musick (much in collaboration with the great poet John Dryden), Purcell made full use of the French and Italian Baroque ideas flowing into Restoration England, but gave them his own distinctive and inventive twists as well. In particular I seem to notice a fascination with accidentals and chromatic effect which often makes his musick easy to identify.

Here’s a sample, a suite from The Faerie Queene (1692), a semi-opera adaptation of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. The performance seems to be by either a college or community ensemble, but they’re not all that bad:

A Gentle Reader writes:

Dear Sir,

While I find much entertainment in your blog, I must bring to your attention that you use a light gray type when you are posting quotes or blocks of text extracted from other sites. While this looks nicely avante-garde (high toned) it is just a screaming B**CH for my nearly 60 year old eyes to read.

Have mercy sir! Black (or at least dark blue or DARK gray) type is so SO SO much easier to read.


Thank you for your comment. I, too, find myself squinting when I read the light gray blockquoted text. However, I must disabuse you of the notion that I am attempting to achieve hipness through the use of that particular font: the setting came pre-packaged from WordPress and I haven’t the technical skill to figure out how to change it. However, using your own letter as a pixilated guinea pig, I am introducing a scheme to manually bold blockquoted text. I certainly hope this helps. I remain

Your humble obedient & c



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