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Dudley Moore hitting a Ludwig Van parody right out of the concert hall.

Really, this is extremely well done.  (The prolonged ending is just a wee bit hamfisted, but not by much.)

Theodore Dalrymple on Christopher Hitchens’ new memoir, Hitch-22:

As is often the case with memoirs, however, the most vivid (because the most personal) part of Hitch-22 is what describes Christopher’s early life; much of the rest is about his political commitments, which already are well known and (at least to me) are interesting mainly for the light they shed on his character.

Christopher made an early commitment to Trotskyism, but it is difficult to take him very seriously as a revolutionary because he always has been too much of a hedonist. Indeed, he appears to me to have had roughly the same relationship to proletarians as Marie Antoinette had to sheep: They have walk-on parts in his personal drama. There is not much evidence of his having thought deeply, or even at all, about the fate, under a social system he vociferously advocated, of the pleasures he so clearly values, the liking for which I don’t in the least blame him; nor is there evidence of any real reflection on what the world would have been like had his demands been met. Not permanent revolution but permanent adolescence has been his goal, and I think he has achieved it.

Heh.  The article also covers the memoir of Peter Hitchens (Christopher’s brother), who sounds like an altogether more grown up fellah.

This week the twelve year old announced to me that she was going to take up going for a run in the morning.  Her idea seems to be that she’d eventually like to try being a miler on her high school’s track team, and therefore she ought to start practicing and getting herself into shape now.

It’s only been three days now, but she’s stuck to it, even when I forgot to wake her up as I’d said I would.

I don’t especially believe this phase is going to last for any great length of time, but this is easily the most far-reaching, long term plan I’ve ever heard come out of the gel’s mouth.  Is it just possible that we’re witnessing the first blooming of a more grown up sense of responsibility and self-motivation?

Last evening, as it was evident fairly early that the Nats were not going to be able to catch the Padres and thus sweep the series, Robbo gave up watching the game and instead popped in his Netflix copy of Up In The Air, of which he had heard some good report.


As it happens, I have found that I really like George Clooney.  He undoubtedly has that kavorka that makes him attractive to women and likable to men.

On the other hand, if there is one kind of movie that I find utterly detestable, it’s the kind that features awful characters behaving awfully and then whining about how awful their lives are (which is why I loathed Sideways so much.) UITA struck me as exactly that kind of movie and I simply could not muster any sympathy for the protagonists.  In fact, the only redeeming quality I could find in it (aside from the familiarity of some of the travel shtick) was the fact that Anna Kendrick, who plays the young gal eventually sickened by what she sees, bears something of a resemblance to Mrs. R.

To follow up on my crickets-inducing post below, I can’t help noting that today is the anniversary of the disastrous culmination of the Braddock Expedition in 1755, in which Major-General Edward Braddock and a force of about 2100 British regulars and colonial militia ran into a force of French and Indians half their size near the banks of the Monongahela on their way to seize Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh).  The British, marching through the thick forest in column and tightly packed, were butchered by their enemies, who fired on them from the surrounding brush and trees.  For reasons still subject to debate, the Brits never shook out into skirmish formation, but remained bunched together in panic, even accidentally shooting some of each other.  By the time it was all over, half of the British force had been killed or wounded, including poor Braddock himself.  Somehow, despite this and despite the fact that the casualty rate among British officers was particularly high, Braddock’s aide-de-camp, young Col. George Washington of the Virginia Militia, came through unscathed, and indeed was able to form a rear-guard, allowing the shattered remainder of the army to retreat.

To me, the most chilling facet of this story has always been poor old Braddock’s fate after his death, which occurred four days later during the retreat back across Pennsylvania (and which, I believe, was the result of grief as much as of the bullet he took).  In order to avoid having the Indians dig him up and scalp him, Braddock’s body was buried in the middle of the road, then marched over by the army in order to cover up any trace of it.  Surely this is one of the loneliest and most forlorn of all internments.

Speaking of that, I can’t help also thinking about Braddock’s Road, the trail that he and his army blazed through the wilderness on their ill-fated expedition. Starting at Fort Cumberland, Maryland and trailing up to southwestern Pennsylvania, it ran better than 100 miles right across some of the most rugged parts of the Alleghenies.  The pure logistical nightmare of hauling wagons and artillery over such terrain – almost all of it steep, rocky and wooded – is quite mind-boggling.

Last week, as regular port-swillers might recall, Mrs. Robbo and I happened to be out in that neck of the woods.  For those of you interested, Interstate 68 more or less follows Braddock’s Road from Cumberland on into northern Garrett County (the westernmost county in Maryland).  As we passed over and around the mountains, I continually remarked on this fact to Mrs. Robbo.  I also waxed about it somewhat to the manager of the B&B where we stayed.  Neither seemed overly impressed, but these little historickal nuggets are very much the spice of ol’ Robbo’s life.  (Mrs. Robbo was impressed by the fact that the Eastern Continental Divide runs through Garrett County, and that the westernmost river system there, the Youghiogheny, is part of the Mississippi drainage basin, while all other rivers in the state eventually wind up draining into the Chesapeake.  Fortunately, ol’ Robbo is as interested in geography as he is in history, so the conversation did not drag.  But that’s me, Mr. Clavin.)


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July 2010