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If you ever find yourself reading Laurie Keller’s Scrambled States of America to your children, try rendering the narrator’s part in the voice of Hal Holbrook with just a dash of Frank Morgon thrown in. I don’t know what results you’ll get, but my younger gels love this treatment so much that they actually request it.

UPDATE: By the bye, the eldest gel and I are no great way off from meeting the Rohirrim for the first time and I’m trying to figure out a way to distinguish them from the Men of Gondor. Would I be consigning myself to eternal flame if I went with a kind of modified Scandinavian-Teutonic accent? I mean, if I’m already doing Sean Connery as Gimli, is there anything to stop me from doing Der Ahnold as Eomer?

Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “Peace ist vat ve vant und do have/Und a piece of anything dat you have!”

(Spot the quote.)

Grand Odalisque (Ingres) image

(This is how it’s done.)

Mr. FLG of Fear and Loathing in Georgetown announces the formation of Heretic Boys for Art, an organization open to membership to all those who appreciate fine culchah but do so from the wrong bank of the Tiber.  Says he of the obvious question of how the RCBfA might react to HBfA,

“All members must recognize the risks they are taking in joining HBfA, namely the possibility of being burnt at the stake in effigy by members of RCBfA. However, I hope that RCBfA and HBfA can have a symbiotic relationship despite our differences.

Emphasis mine.  Our Faith differences can be got round in the pursuit of symbiosis?  This suggests to me that Mr. FLG is probably a Palie.

While Maxy appears to be open to the idea of another voice in the marketplace,  I expect that the question of whether to poke Mr. FLG with the soft cushions probably will have to be taken up in special committee and then voted by the general membership.  We will send Cardinal Fang around with the decision once it’s been taken.

What with all of the other weighty concerns filling our world with doubt and uncertainty, it grieves me that I find myself faced this week with yet another terrible issue, the search for a resolution of which is already causing me sleepless nights and loss of weight. I appeal to my readers for their thoughts on the matter.

You see, although I generally read two or three books at at time in the evening, for my metro commute I restrict myself to completing a single volume. For one thing, I only have a window of twenty-five to thirty minutes each way, and experience has taught that reading multiple books within that time-frame results in too slow and diffuse a perusal of any one of them. Plus there is the physical disadvantage of hauling about the extra weight.

Well, last Friday afternoon I finally completed William Hague’s biography of Billy Pitt. Thus, yesterday morning found me debating about what to read next. Something old? Something new? Something fictitious? Something historickal? Something humourous? Something tragickal? Well, at last, reckoning that it was time to give history a bit of a rest, I settled on an old favorite: Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop.

By the end of the day, I was well on my way through “The Stitch Service” for the umpteenth time and enjoying it thoroughly.

However, waiting for me at home last evening was a brand-new book recommended to me by Sir Basil, namely John Biggins’ A Sailor of Austria: In Which, Without Really Intending To, Otto Prohaska Becomes Official War Hero No. 27 of the Habsburg Empire.

Greedily, I ripped open the package and read the introductory chapter as I put together some din-dins (Mrs. R having gone out with the eldest gel for some Mommy/Daughter time).

Now my evening reading schedule is already pretty crowded and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Attempting to horn Mr. Biggins ‘novel into the rotation at this point simply will not do. So the alternative is to start bringing it along on the metro.

Here’s the dilemma, then: As I say, I’m already well away with Scoop and I would feel quite guilty abandoning it. On the other hand, I really want to get into Sailor of Austria as soon as possible. If I decide to do so, it will probably take me a week or so to finish up Scoop and frankly I’m not sure I want to wait that long.

What to do? What to do?

This is pretty impressive: Owner Saves Dog From Shark’s Jaws

Greg LeNoir watched in horror as the shark’s mouth opened wide, chomping a large set of teeth on his beloved 14-pound dog, Jake.

Noooooo,” LeNoir shrieked, fearing the worst.

But the case of the rat terrier vs. the shark has a happy ending.

”Jake’s doing great,” LeNoir’s brother, Phillip, said Monday. “And I still can’t believe my brother jumped in the water and punched a shark.”

The saga began Friday afternoon when Greg LeNoir took Jake to the Worldwide Sportsman’s Bayside Marina pier in Islamorada for the dog’s daily swim. LeNoir said Jake is a fast and fearless swimmer, often retrieving jellyfish and soaked coconuts.

But this time, Jake, a 28-month-old dog adopted from an animal shelter, unexpectedly encountered the shark, which was about five feet long. As Jake disappeared under the water, LeNoir conquered his own fear and sprang to action.

”I clenched my fists and dove straight in with all my strength, like a battering ram,” LeNoir, 53, said Sunday, reliving the frightening ordeal. “I hit the back of the shark’s neck. It was like hitting concrete.”

You certainly wouldn’t do something like this for a cat.  Why? Because you know that if the situation were reversed, the dog would jump in to try and save you while the cat would just sit on the dock and sneer.

As I left the house today, I had this parting conversation with the ten year old who, like her father, is not what one would call a “morning” person:

Self: Have a good day, sweetie.

Herself (frowning): Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Self: Oh, all right, have a perfectly bloody day. See if I care.

Herself (smiling): Heh.

You just have to know how to talk to them.

It’s funny that while the ten year old is typically a grump in the morning, her eight year old sister is almost offensively bright and cheery. The six year old, usually the maniac of the crew, is the one closest to the happy medium at the beginning of the day.

Whether it is because we are entereing the End Time – I cannot recollect off hand if they were one of the plagues of Egypt or appear in Revelations anywhere – or else whether it is just one of those things, I dunno. But the fact of the matter remains that this year we seem to be suffering from an unusually large infestation of stink bugs at the family manor.

This certainly has its disadvantages, as a quick dekko at the attendant photo makes fairly self-evident. Yech. On the other hand, I can report that there is a certain grim satisfaction in knocking these little bastards on the head with a tack-hammer that almost – almost, I say – makes up for having to deal with their presence to begin with.

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