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Ol’ Robbo had not seen this video before, I think.  It made me laugh and laugh:

Way, waaaaaay back in the fierce young days of the Llamas, when every blog pronouncement seemed worth fighting about, I recall getting into a kerfluffle with some camelidophiles over my opinion that German is an ugly language, full of gutturals, rocky with consonants and ridiculous in some of its excessive compounding.  I stated something to the effect that it reminded me of nothing but dark fir woods; cold, dismal swamps; and howling hordes of barbarians swarming out to fall on Varus and his Legions in the Teutoburg Forest and cut them to ribbons.

I still feel that way, but here’s a defense by a native-speaker, which I include out of fairness since it was from this article that I lifted the video.  Enjoy!

A glass of wine with Arts & Letters Daily.

UPDATE:  After pondering whilst shoveling off the patio, it occurs to me that maybe I have seen this video before.  Still funny.  Also, I’m willing to bet all of those so-called Europeans are actually ‘Muricans.  If that Johnny is a genuine Brit, then so am I.

Baby BoomRecently ol’ Robbo got his hands on Peej O’Rourke’s latest book, The Baby Boom:  How It Got That Way, and It Wasn’t My Fault and I’ll Never Do It Again.  As the title suggests, this is O’Rourke’s take on his own generation, its origins, rise and impact on history, which he achieves through a mixture of personal recollection and larger picture analysis.

I’ve been kinda down on Peej’s writing ever since he hit his peak in the 90’s with All The Trouble In The World and Eat the Rich.  To me, his style has gradually gotten somewhat, well, staler and a bit crusty.  With that said, this is a very well-written book.  Even though Peej is an essayist by trade and I believe this is his first attempt at a genuine book-length narrative,  nonetheless it holds up very well throughout.  (One tool he uses that particularly impressed me is a series of descriptive snippets of his own personal history – starting from boyhood – that he gradually weaves together into metaphoric themes as he progresses.)  Also, his observations are as sharp and funny as any others he has made.



Here’s the thing.  Peej spends the majority of the book laying down the character traits of the Boomers – spoiled, selfish, perpetually adolescent, hedonistic.  He also describes what a wild ride it’s been unleashing such traits on the society built up by its stick-in-the-mud predecessors.   All this I expected.  After all, so long as somebody is working hard to keep the pantry and cellar stocked, sure, you can have one hell of a party.   But, going by the book’s title, I also expected a climactic denunciation and something akin to an apology.   After all, Peej has been a Professional Conservative for 40-odd years, specializing in sniping at the foibles of his generation, and I thought the rest of the book was going to be a set up for pulling Peter Pan over his knee and whaling on him with a belt-buckle.  

But in the last chapter, entitled “Big Damn Messy Bundle of Joy”?  Where he should have looked around and noticed just how badly his generation has trashed the place and how hard – if not impossible – it’s going to be for those of us following to clean it up?  He celebrates!  While he rightly lauds the creative energies unleashed by the Boomer revolution,  he conveniently forgets that for every Bill Gates and Steve Jobs that it might have made there are legions of my hippy Uncle Dave, who last I heard of him 20-odd years ago was tending bar part-time and crashing on a buddy’s sofa.   He actually praises the “liberation” of the sexual revolution, which, so far as I can see, has only brought about the destruction of the family unit, plummeting birth-rates, the commodification and dehumanization of sexuality and wide-spread misery.   He completely ignores the fact that the Boomers’ looting of the coffers will leave those succeeding them no other use for all those worthless I.O.U.’s  than to wipe their bottoms (which won’t even matter because they’ll have nothing to eat).   And while he is correct that envy of Western prosperity was a major cause of the Soviet Union’s cracking and faltering, his prediction that the spread of Boomer “values” throughout the Third World will lead to the collapse of all those myriad tin-pot dictators and medieval theocracies strikes me as, well, naive.

Maybe I’m reading his conclusion wrong.  Maybe he’s trying to be snarky and sarcastic and it’s simply sailing past me.  Maybe he’s only aping his generation’s zeitgeist while not actually sharing it himself.  Feel free to share your own takes here.  But his conclusion seems to me to come awful close to, “Screw you, Jack! I got mine!”  And that leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.

Damned hippies.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

No, ol’ Robbo has not given up blogging for Lent this year, as it’s simply a much more limited part of my time these days and I don’t feel the need to curtail it.  Instead, my silence this week has been due to my having other matters to attend to.  My apologies.

♦   I hope those of you practicing had a happy Ash Wednesday.  Of course, “happy” is not really the appropriate term, is it?  Everyone says it automatically anyway.  For myself, I toddled round to the church near my office at lunchtime.  The place was packed to the rafters.  The Mass was conducted by the priest that I privately think of as Father Shecky, who couldn’t resist making a crack about how happy he was to see the usual weekday crowd.   Buh-DUMP-dah!   Perhaps I’m a bit of an old fuddy-dud (oh, shut up!) but it didn’t strike me that such a rimshot was particularly appropriate to the day, so I confined myself to a thin smile.

♦   Anyhoo,  I wore the ashes all afternoon, much to the obvious discomfort of a number of my progressivista colleagues, and made a point of being especially cheerful and courteous.  This year, more than any other I can recall, I was really filled with the spirit of silent witness.   I’m sure it bumped me up a couple places on the list of those to be sent to the camps, but I like to believe that perhaps I might have got at least somebody to think about things a little.

♦    Speaking of thinking about things a little, the Dalai Llama is speaking down the Cathedral today, which made dropping off the Middle Gel for choir practice a royal pain, what with police cordons and crowds of New Age types wandering about.   Personally, I’ve nothing against the Dalai Llama, nor against Buddhism for that matter, which from what I gather is not really a religion but more of a system of ethics.   What irks me is the sort of people who buy “Free Tibet” vanity license plates and fawn all over the Llama because he’s cute, nonthreatening and mystical, perfect for the type who likes to say, “I’m spiritual, just not religious.”

♦   And speaking of school runs, getting around the local streets these days makes me feel like Han Solo in the asteroid field, what with all the potholes.  Show of hands for all of those wishing Algore’s Globull Warminz would come back?  Yeah, me too.   I’ve also noticed a great many new cracks between moldings and walls in Port Swiller Manor, no doubt put there by the excessive cold we’ve experienced.  (The other possible explanation is that the house is getting ready to collapse on itself due to the collective pounding of the gels’ feet.  I don’t care to dwell on that possibility.)

♦   Speaking of the cold, despite the fact that the grounds of PSM are still covered in snow, I nonetheless feel that I must start spring gardening this weekend with the annual cutting back of the butterfly bushes known to regular friends of the decanter as Kong and the Konglings.    Perhaps I’ll have a go at the wisteria, too.  March is a schizophrenic month in these here parts and despite the fact that it’s only in the 30’s now, there’s no knowing when we might suddenly find ourselves up in the mid-70’s.   (Typing this entry reminds me that if I want to but any spring plantings online, I damn well better do it today if it’s not already too late.  UPDATE:  Found some Confederate Jasmine vines at a nursery down in Georgia that I’m going to try on a trellis fronting the new porch.  The innertoobs swear it’s hearty to Zone 7, which is us.  We shall see.)

♦   And finally, speaking of local things, I was flipping through the local fish-wrapper this morning when my eye fell on this editorial paragraph:

Ukraine is not the only place where civil war threatened to erupt last week.  In Fairfax County, Loudoun County and the City of Falls Church, there are battles raging between School Boards and the elected bodies (Boards of Supervisors and City Council) that hold ultimate responsibility for allocating taxpayer money.

Okay, ol’ Robbo is throwing a flag on that statement.  Unsportsmanlike conduct:  Unnecessarily hyperbolic metaphor.  Fifteen yard penalty and loss of down.

Well, that’s it for now.   Ol’ Robbo is off to scan the headlines before getting about his biznay.  What fresh hell awaits us today?


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March 2014