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charlie_brownFor those of you keeping up with the fortunes of Robbo’s Tribe, here is a litany of this week’s woes:

–  We dropped another game just before Memorial Day weekend and now stand at 3-5-1.

– We’ve missed the last two practices because of the holiday and because of rain this week.

– One of my better players broke her wrist (at home) and is out for the rest of the season.

– Tomorrow morning we meet the scariest team in the division (the one whose coach makes his players cry on the field).  We face them with only nine players at best, which means we won’t even be able to cover the entire outfield.

– We also face them without Yours Truly, as I will be out of town and not back until Sunday afternoon.

But you know what?  I’m not stressing about any of it. Made up the fielding schedule, passed the equipment bag to one of my coaching staff, and plan to enjoy myself on my jaunt.  It’s Shrine Mont weekend at RFEC and we’re headed out to the Shenandoah Valley to do what Palies do best – drink and gossip.  (Religion? Gawd!)

I feel that this is progress.

I forget now when we even started, but last evening the eldest gel and I finished off the last book of the Lord of the Rings. Frankly, I was somewhat surprised that she didn’t lose interest after the first chapter or two of The Fellowship, but once we got rolling it became pretty clear that she was determined to hear it all the way through.

The gel was quite stirred by the events in the Shire following the return of Frodo and his party. “Wow,” she said of the Battle of Bywater and Saruman’s murder at the door of Bag End, “I can’t wait to see how that looks in the movie.”

“Um, they aren’t actually in the movie, Sweetie.  All of that part got cut out.”

What! Who was it who made the movies? Peter Jackson? Just who does he think he is!”

Ah, that’s my gel.

washington2 Today is the anniversary of the first shots of the Seven Years’ War, the so-called Battle of Jumonville Glen, fought this day in 1754 in western Pennsylvania.

The battle was really more of a bush-whacking than anything else.  Following on the unsuccesful attempt of the British to diplomatically stop the French from building forts in the Ohio Valley (and thereby pinning the British colonists to the Atlantic seaboard), an expeditionary force commanded by young Lt. Colonel George Washington set out from Virginia to plant the British flag there as well.

As Washington’s force proceeded westward, scouts reported a force of French and their Indian allies holed up at Jumonville Glen.  Fearing he was about to be ambushed, Washington and a detatchment marched all night and surprised the French first.  The result was a completely lopsided victory, with ten or twelve Frenchmen killed and 22 captured.  It was after this skirmish that Washington famously wrote to his brother, “I can with truth assure you, I heard bullets whistle and believe me, there was something charming in the sound.”

After the battle, while Washington was reading some papers handed to him by Jumonville, the wounded and captured French commander, an Indian ally of the British suddenly rushed up and tomahawked him.  When word of the skirmish reached nearby French Fort DuQuesne, Jumonville’s half-brother Coulon de Villiers swore revenge and set out after Washington’s party with a large force.  They caught up with Washington at Fort Necessity a few weeks later, surrounded them and forced them to surrender.  The fact that Washington, in turn, was not butchered on the spot has always amazed me, even given the complexities of 18th Century battlefield etiquette.  Nonetheless, de Villiers included a clause in the surrender agreement stating that Washington had “assassinated” Jumonville and Washington, ignorant of French, signed it.

There was a good deal of criticism of Washington for his actions at the time (not that the war wouldn’t have happened anyway, because it certainly was going to one way or the other).  Nonetheless, it could not have bothered Washington himself that much, because the above portrait, painted by Charles Wilson Peale in 1772 and one of my favorites, supposedly features Jumonville Glen in the background.

Following up on my querie of yesterday and your response(s), I nipped over to the devil’s website and picked up a copy of Clive: The Life and Death of a British Emperor by Robert Harvey.

While I was there, I said to myself, “Self, I wonder if there’s a biography of Henry Bouquet out there as well?”

Well damme if there isn’t:

BouquetDefenders of the Frontier: Colonel Henry Bouquet and the Officers and Men of the Royal American Regiment, 1763-1764 by Kenneth Stuart.

“Okay,” my fellow port-swillers are no doubt saying to themselves, “We’ll bite: Who?”

Well, he was the Swiss-born Colonel of the Royal American Regiment and performed bravely in both the Seven Years’ War (during which, among other things, he founded Fort Pitt and therefore Pittsburgh), and during Pontiac’s Rebellion that irrupted almost immediately thereafter.

So far as he’s remembered at all these days, he is somewhat notorious for his correspondense with Sir Jeffrey Amherst during Pontiac’s Rebellion in which they discussed the possibility of deliberately infecting the Indians with small pox.  Even a stout 19th Century Manifest Destiny guy like Francis Parkman condemned this, but in Bouquet’s defense he never actually carried through with the idea.  Furthermore, one must remember that these letters were written  in the heat of frustration caused by almost continual reports of widespread slaughter of both soldiers and colonists throughout the Ohio Valley and the western parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia at the time.

Anyhoo, it’s a shame that this episode should overshadow an otherwise remarkable military career and that Bouquet isn’t better known these days.


As I’ve been on something of a Seven Years’ War kick of late, working my way through the collected works of Francis Parkman, it occured to me this weekend that now would be a great time to hunt up my biography of Robert Clive in order to get the Subcontinental angle on the matter.

I proceeded to start rooting around my library, only to discover after a thorough search that I don’t actually have a biography of Robert Clive.   This struck me as extremely strange because I would have sworn both that I had asked for recommendations among the llamaphiles and port swillers before and that I had acted on said recommendations.  Apparently not, though. 

 Sigh.  Another neuron dead and gone.

Thus, I’m afraid I will have to ask again: Can anyone recommend a good biography of Robert Clive?


Happy birthday, William Bolcom!

Who he, you ask?  Well, he’s a modern American composer.  His only piece that I know is the “Graceful Ghost Rag”, but I like it a lot:

Indeed, a number of years ago I went out and purchased the sheet musick for myself.  Unfortunately, I simply don’t have big enough hands to play this sort of thing, so I gave it up after a few tries.

This weekend I ran off the delightful old Terry Gilliam film Time Bandits for the gels.   It’s been a while since I’ve seen it and I had forgotten how really rather orthodox it is on the subjects of omnipotence, good, evil and free will.   The film  provoked a surprisingly rewarding dinner conversation on the subject of  God, the devil, creation and temptation, with the seven year old, of all people, suddenly piping up about Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness.

Meanwhile, the latest social crisis at the eldest gel’s school seems to revolve around the fact that it has suddenly become en vogue there for the kiddies to drop f-bombs all over the place and she won’t do it.   She came to me in tears with the report that she was being mocked for her primness by her little friends and that when she told them that Dad didn’t let her speak that way, “they looked at [her] like she was from a different universe.”

Well, sorry, but like Sir Joseph Porter, KCB, I haven’t any sympathy for ill-bred taunts.  I told her to stick to her guns and try to ignore the criticism.  (On the other hand, I also headed her off from emailing her teacher to complain on the grounds that nobody likes a snitch.)  Anyway, she may as well start getting used to it because there are any number of current social conventions of which I don’t approve that she’s going to have to face in the near future.

Speaking of such things, Mink Monica emailed me the link to Father Z’s reaction to The One’s speech at Notre Dame.  A sample:

 Controversy insured high reportage.  Thousands of cheering young fans, products of the education they just received, blithely drank up their obviously deserved praise. Gray-haired veteran liberals whose skills were honed by a real education and decades of progressivist trench warfare provided the spear-carriers of a more authentic ecclesiastical establishment, a Church establishment as it truly ought to be if we lived in a more just world.  A few pathetic court-jesters shouted incoherently during the President’s speech. They provided the students with some entertainment and gave the Doctoratus in Chief his chance to reveal his patient benevolence by means of a prepared one liner. 

Who needs The Tudors?  This was like watching Henry suborn the English Church away from the interference of Rome.

Read the rest, but remember to don your asbestos suit first.

I worry.  Prior to the actual day, I thought Notre Dame had thoroughly put its foot in it and that here was a chance to score a victory for our side.  Instead, between The One and the fawning MSM coverage, Orthodoxy came off looking shrill, silly and, well, like it was from a different universe.   Father Z sounds the trumpet for a rally, and certainly Fathers McA and S at my own church have been doing the same, but the question arises:  What exactly does one do?  What exactly can one do?  Is there really anything other than fighting local skirmishes like the ones I’m engaged in on behalf of the gels?  That strikes me as nothing more than a rearguard action, a holding of the citadel while the barbarian hordes swarm around it. 

 What is the strategic offensive plan? Is there one?  Personally, I’m not sure that this is a fight that can be won, not until popular culture becomes so appalled with its own decline and decay that it voluntarily abandons its current ways.  Don’t think this can’t happen – the Victorian Era was a direct response to the excesses of the Regency prior to it.  But this is still an awfully slim reed on which to lean.

We just bought tickets to take the gels to see Huey Lewis and the News at Wolftrap next month. 

I mentioned to Mrs. R that I had never been to a rock concert before.  She’s of the opinion that this doesn’t count.

Should be fun, though.

As I was out weeding the garden path this morning, I found myself casually listening to the gels playing with their rope swing.  (We put this up a few weeks ago and it has been a huge hit.  Forget your fancy mega-bucks playsets.  Forty feet of rope and a board with a hole drilled through the middle: priceless.)

As you can imagine, three pig-headed strong-minded gels and one swing can lead to some problematical math.  They had some kind of turn-taking arrangement coupled with pushing duty, but it seemed subject to endless acrimony and continual arbitration, culminating every now and again to a tearful appeal to Daddy.

After several times having overheard what really happened and then comparing it to the version of events presented to me by the appellant,  it suddenly entered into my mind to wonder whether Margaret Mead ever had any children.  A quick peak at her bio confirms that she did, in fact, have one daughter.  My guess, though is that she could not have been paying very close attention to the child.  Had she done so, I’m sure she wouldn’t have been as thoroughly suckered by the Samoans as she was.

futurama-benders-game Hollywood, you truly are a strange place.

Matt Groening & Co. finally came out with a Simpsons movie a year or two ago that, after gargantuan hype, was just okay at best. (I saw it once and I certainly wouldn’t bother crossing the street to see it again.)

The same guys put out a Futurama movie that I wouldn’t even have known about had I not accidentally stumbled across it while surfing Netflix and it turns out to be pretty damned funny.  (In fact, it had me hooting to the point where I was coldly asked to keep it down so as not to wake the children.  For those of you who have seen it, the whole “Morks” joke practically made me fall off the sofa.)

I suppose it has something to do with not having to pander to a wider audience and being able to amuse themselves more with the lesser-known franchise.  Nice work if you can get it.

I suppose also that my comparative reactions means I really am a geek.


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May 2009