Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Blogs explained

"Gunny Bob," a KOA talk-show gink I'd never heard of before tonight, just said to his audience, "'blog', in case you don't know, is short for 'weblog'." Has there been any need to say this the last two years besides in, maybe, AARP Magazine?

Update: A reader complains that I am being unfair to AARP. He also informs me that the "older generation" still enjoys sex, and would particularly enjoy some right now.

Monday, May 30, 2005


This afternoon I had potential tenants coming over to look at apartment #3 (2br, hdwd flrs, util. pd., free rat rmvl.), and just so they didn't meet my enthusiastic (well, vicious) dog Billy Bob prematurely, I shut him up in my office.

Vicious: behavioral training (above) hasn't helped.

When I ran back upstairs to let the idiot out, my office door was locked. Billy Bob does not paw at doors. He locked it just to spite me. Had to get a hammer and pop the hinges (yes me, not him--he's better with fine tools) to get him out.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Unrelated headlines

"Death wins grudging acceptance in Aspen"--Rocky Mountain News, 5/26/05.

"Unexpected avalanche kills man, 53, at A-Basin"--Denver Post, 5/21/05.

Book review

My first shot at blog book reviewing was going to be Nelson: A Dream of Glory, but it got mixed up in the back-to-the-library books and went, strangely, back to the library. Good thing too, because the sucker is huge (943 pages). Need to do some weight training for that.

So now I've decided to review Oleg V. Khlevniuk's The History of the Gulag: From Collectivization to the Great Terror (2004), even though I'm only halfway through it. (I'm gonna be great at this.)

Oh, first here's an interesting factoid (actually the only one I remember) from Nelson: Yada-yada: British ships would occasionally fire on each other for what might strike sane people as microscopic breaches of naval protocol. Nelson himself shot a hunk off a sloop or shallop or jollyboat or maybe even a corvette because it didn't salute him correctly, the touchy soon-to-be-one-eyed little bastard.

Back to the Gulag

Khlevniuk's History of the Gulag is a perfect complement to Washington Post reporter Anne Applebaum's Gulag: A History (2003). Her too-brief overview of the system focused on how camp inmates lived. Khlevniuk, senior researcher at the State Archive of the Russian Federation, looks at it from the other side, reproducing documents from a wide variety of official sources as the Gulag became both an instrument of repression and a half-assed capitalist enterprise.

One of these documents is a memo from a provincial Gulag bureaucrat to his NKVD superior in Moscow, rather forlornly asking how he should respond to the complaints of relatives of those who were "shot for no reason whatsoever" in his province during the Great Terror. (As one official admitted, many such "excess excesses" had occurred.)

Relatives were never told that their loved one (or two) had undergone the "ultimate punishment," the official was informed, but that he was serving "a prison term in remote camps." When complaints continued, however, a circular to Gulag officials ordered them to simply "discontinue, until further notice, the review and examination of cases of those sentenced to the ultimate punishment . . ." In short, to ignore such cases and the nosy relatives who brought them. Bureaucracy made easy.

Well, not that easy

One of the best things in this fascinating book is a section of brief biographies of NKVD, Party, and camp officials. There are just over a hundred of these, and nearly two-thirds of them end heartwarmingly with "arrested in [month, year], shot in [month, year]."

Update: Heard Dennis Prager (or "Denis Praeger" as the New Criterion spelled it the other day and which was half-corrected and is still spelled wrong) conduct a slightly tetchy interview with Anne Applebaum about the Wapo's editorial today reprimanding Amnesty International for calling Gitmo "the gulag for our times." Fine, fine.

Update II: Dissing Nelson on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar (via the Judd Bros.).

Monday, May 23, 2005

Rather and Kodos: we merely exchange long protein strings

Lots of people, including Hit and Run's Nick Gillespie (who stole my Peabody (and Sherman) Award joke before I even got to use it), snickered at Dan Rather's speech on winning that award last week. Rather ludicrously ended with, "Never give up, never back up, never give in while pursuing the dream of integrity filled journalism that matters."

No one pointed out, though, that given Rather's problems, this peroration was as loony as the one given by another cartoon character--famed space alien Kang (or was it Kodos?), who when he assumed Bill Clinton's form on "The Simpsons" ended a speech with: "We must move forward, not backwards, not to the side, not forwards, but always whirling, whirling, whirling towards freedom!"

Sheesh, even the cadences are similar. Scary.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Rock(ies) II

Of course, after I make fun of the Rockies and vow further to see them not, there we were Sunday: Coors Field, Rockies v. D-backs. Rockies still suck mythically (11-26), so I wandered around most of the game. First thing that happens, I run into Dinger. He was passing marijuana cigarettes out to the kiddies:

Dinger: he's got porn,too.

Then I walked around the concourse to the infamous Rockpile (upper left), way out in center field, where seats cost just a dollar. Old-timey look because, you know, a dollar to see "professional baseball":

Since I'd never been underneath the Rockpile I went and had a look. Nothing could have prepared me for the horror:

Hunger, disease, filth: Rockpile inmates struggle to survive.

Finally I skulked up to Club Level for a shot of the notorious Coors Field Escalator of Death:

Thirty-five feet of hell; fortunately, there's Weitz & Luxenberg.

Update: Now I feel like a jerk. This just came up on the RMN site. What are the odds?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mentioning Prager again

Roger Kimball's piece on the White House press briefing yesterday is great, but it contains a very odd mistake. In quoting Dennis Prager Kimball renders the man's name as "Denis Praeger"--twice. Weird. How could no one have caught that? Is it some sort of joke between these guys? The Frenchification "Denis" makes me suspicious.

(via Powerline)

Update: Look, I don't want to make enemies here, but this is just spooky. They've gone in and corrected the spelling in both places--but only halfway. They now spell his name "Denis Prager."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

We love a parade

As usual Saturday morning I sat at the computer, eating my gruel. As usual, I was out of ideas for blog posts. Suddenly music blasted through the window, and looking out I saw:

A parade. Going right by my house.

Well, that was convenient. I grabbed the camera and fired away as five or six hundred people marched by, in celebration, I googled out later, of Pentecost. It was probably organized by one of the little Hispanic churches around here, but it was definitely a multi-ethnic bunch. A few more pics:

What, no puppets?

See the blue and white flag right beneath the
American flag? Whose is that?

Israel's. I love this shot.

A pretty good Dennis Prager moment, don't you think? And Drunkablog was there. And conscious.


University of Colorado ethnic studies prof Ward Churchill has formally responded to the charges of plagiarism being investigated by CU's standing committee on research misconduct. Pirate Ballerina has a good roundup.

Here's a question, though: Why did Churchill make his response in (by all accounts) 50 single-spaced pages?

For one thing, of course, he's trying to make the committee's job as difficult as possible. After all, reading anything by the guy is like diving into a tidal wave, and single-spacing the verbiage only multiplies the degree of difficulty. And Churchill had to have footnotes. As his fellow CU ethnic studies prof Arturo Aldama once said, "Whether you agree with it or not, [Churchill's writing has] always been praised for academic rigor. He has 400 footnotes per chapter."

Just count 'em--four hundred. And he is a master at using footnotes to obfuscate. How many do you suppose he can cram into 50 single-spaced pages?

The second reason Churchill single-spaced the document? Simple petulance. This was his chance to say "fuck you" to the committee: "There's your response, assholes. Have fun!" It's all so junior high school the guy should get a D-minus and a frowny face sticker.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Herman Wouk: seven decades as a young American writer

The other day I spotted The Caine Mutiny sitting uncomfortably in the Denver Public Library's "new books" section, and naturally wondered, since Caine was published in 1951, what it was doing there. Turns out it was in a display of Pulitzer Prize winners, but in a new (relatively--2003) paperback edition, with a preface by its author, Herman Wouk.

When Caine was published Wouk, who at 90 continues to write novels, had already written two of them, served on destroyer-minesweepers like the Caine (well, not like the Caine) and, from 1936 until the war, written jokes for one of the top radio comedians, Fred Allen.

Kids, sorry, but I'm one of those creepy and decrepit fans of old-time radio, so to me that last by itself is enough to make Wouk a national treasure: he worked in the first truly national medium, big-time radio, and he was one of the best at it.

And think of all the people he must have known--starting, just for kicks, with Bogart, who gave an indelible performance in the movie version of Caine. Bowsley Crowther thought it was bogart-like.

Not to mention that he wrote at least one of the finest American novels of World War II, War and Remembrance, and that throughout his career he's written about this country with (mostly, of course) affection and humor.

So where's the almost certainly great memoir? Actually, Wouk's preface for this Caine is an excerpt, he says, but adds that the story of his "literary life" itself he has "laid aside, to get on with that life by writing a new novel."

Now that is good old-fashioned American optimism.

Update: Shouldn't Wouk get, like, a medal or something? (Though he has been voted into some secret lodge going under the name of the "Academy of Achievement," which he probably isn't happy about.)

Update II: Here's the 1988 TV version of Caine starring Brad Davis as Captain Queeg. Surely I saw it, but I don't remember a thing.

Update III: Wait a minute. Brad Davis as the, er, ball-rolling Captain Queeg? No way I would forget that. And don't call me Shirley.

Keeping up with--Ward Churchill!

While I've kept up with Churchill's case since plagiarism charges against him were referred to CU's standing committee on research misconduct, I haven't posted much about it. Fortunately Jim Paine over at Pirate Ballerina has stayed on top of Churchill (ewwww!), and notes that today is the deadline for Ward to respond to those charges.

Unfortunately, as Paine also notes, we will probably learn little or nothing about Churchill's response (if any) since the committee is keeping all its information secret, which, no matter the reasons they're doing so, will not add to its appearance of impartiality.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Poetry corner--of death!

Most people don't know that Communist poetry equals reading fun. Not because it has any of the qualities associated with good poetry, of course, but because the typical socialist Ode to the Downtrodden has a single, profound, artistic aim: to demonstrate the moral splendor of the poet.

Family and friends enjoy it when I point such things out, so others will too. Here, for example, is a poem I found at the League of Revolutionaries for a New America (one of many "stabs" at poetry on the site). It's by a guy going under the name of Tony Robles, and it's called, simply, Sister Anna:

"Can you give me a dollar for something to eat?"
sister Anna walks on Market Street
draped in a dirty blanket
it's cold people walk by

she's a big lady her belly,
a bag of yesterdays
of dreams

of raindrops

A belly full

Yes, sister Anna's belly is full of dreams, and raindrops, and good stuff like that. But now Robles spots another big-bellied symbol--this one of our planet-destroying consumer culture:

somewhere up the street, a
santa jiggles his fat,
a shakedown illusion.

Already raggin' on Santa, who hasn't even tried to stem a buck from him. Anyway, Robles gives sister Anna the dollar, apparently without making her listen to his poetry, and muses:

I know, the world got hard of hearing
all of a sudden
But sister Anna,
your voice is the warmest on the block
Because of you this city is
a little warmer this morning

A little warmer

Yeah, right. Being accosted by a psychotic in a filthy blanket is definitely everyone's favorite day-brightener. And notice how Robles' love for the big dirty crazy lady doesn't quite extend to getting her some help. He'd rather use her as an object for self-congratulation: out of all of us in the heartless city only he hears sister Anna, only he gives sister Anna a buck, only he can see that sister Anna is just like Mary Tyler Moore. In short, Tony Robles is quite a guy.

And that's the point: Tony Robles is quite a guy. He wants you to know that. And the League of Revolutionaries for a New America is only too glad to spread the word.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Word fun

The other day Andrea Harris, Tim Blair's no-nonsense "blogrumsfeld," used the term "meatspace" to denote the universe in which she has an actual physical job. "Meatspace" as opposed, of course, to "cyberspace," where she just pretends to dress up in a saucy little Nazi costume to smack the trolls around.

Googling, I find that meatspace is very common, and has been around for at least ten years. How could I miss such a vivid (not to say gross) term for so long? Oh well. Just a reminder never to underestimate my own ignorance.

"Blogrumsfeld" isn't bad either, by the way.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Workin' for a livin'

This will be hard for my loyal but realistic readers to believe, but every once in a while I get a real honest-to-God script to edit. Almost all of them have been for proposed TV shows, and as far as I know none has ever been produced. Still, I really like doing them; they are the single miserable touch of glamour in my pathetic life.

But years ago I got a glimpse of the big time: a Hollywood-type movie script written by Huey Lewis, the once-popular musician, and G. Brown, the long-time rock music critic for the Denver Post. This was some years after Lewis' days of hugeness, and before Brown was fired for plagiarism after nearly 30 years of writing for the Post.

The script, oddly for a faded rock star, was about a hard-partying rock band on tour. It was, of course, lousy. But it had a few funny things in it, some of them intentional. For example, the band's tour was called the "Auntie Maim" tour, and in one scene the moronic rock drummer (yes, it had one of those), sitting stuporously in a trashed hotel room watching "Leave it to Beaver," suddenly exclaims: "Hey! This is a rerun!"

Funny peculiar

The script also provided a unique look at the collaborative process in such star projects. At one point, for example, G. noted marginally that a portion of the dialogue needed "punching up." Huey responded admirably. I don't remember the actual dialogue, but let's say a line read, "Hey, you idiot, take your feet off the table!" Huey, very neatly, with a carat and everything, would insert the word "fucking," or more rarely, "fuckin'." So now the line read, "Hey, you idiot, take your feet off the fuckin' table!" Or, alternatively, "Hey, you fucking idiot, take your feet off the table!" Huey saw that this was good, and for the rest of the scene "fucking" or "fuckin'" were sprinkled liberally throughout.

The big time. My involvement, naturally, was marginal. I don't think I even got to wear my editor's hat, but was relegated to proofreading. Needless to say too, but the script was never produced. Otherwise I would have been a (fuckin') player.

How to succeed in blogging without really dying

John Hawkins has 24 fine pieces of advice for blogging success--and one that's just scary. Number 20 reads:

If you're going to be successful, you have got to consistently put out a lot of links or a lot of material day in and day out, week after week, month after month, year after year (unless you're as good as Mickey Kaus). If you're not pumping out either 10-15 links per day or 1000 words plus then you're probably not doing enough to ever get really big.

Doesn't that seem a little Dickensian to you? By my admittedly rough calculation (I didn't calculate at all), since February 8 I've posted approximately .89325 times a day (corrected for incoherence). This means that I am 12 to 15 times underweight in postagings. In other words, I am a loser.

But, I defend myself, Professor Bunyip hasn't posted since April 15, and I check him every day. Oh yeah, Hawkins said something about being good. Gotta work on that.

Update: Why did I have the urge to say, "I check heem every day," like I'm faking (badly) a Mexican accent? Gotta work on that.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Neighbors: representative sample II

As I was saying, I have weird neighbors. On all sides. Always. This, for example, is the house of my current across-the-street neighbor, John:

Cute, cute, cute?

John is so weird I've never had the courage to take his picture. Instead, I asked the fine dead character actor Henry Jones to assay John's psychology:


Despite his irascibility, though, John has long rented his attic to a revolving night gallery of the pierced, the tattooed and the giganto-panted. Last year, however, was different: his tenant, a young woman going under the name Amanda, seemed unusually normal. From my office window I used to see her peddling off to work mornings on her big-fendered old bike. Sometimes she'd wear kneesocks, or carry a little bag lunch. Kind of cute, I thought.

But as most of us eventually learn, kneesocks are not a reliable indicator of character. Amanda, it turns out, was the distillation of evil. At least, according to John. I learned this when I found a leaflet from John in my mailbox. It was--well, here's how it starts (all illiteracies in the original, I claim):

TO OUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS IN-------. We very much need both to talk with a former housemate and to secure (from you) any info that might help this happen. Last April, Amanda [redacted] (and her little dog too!) moved into the top half of our house and lived there until mid-December when, unfortunately, we were
compelled to request that she live elsewhere and to insist that she leave immediately.

John indulges in a little character development here. Amanda is "a solitary figure [who] circles (repeatedly, sometimes obsessively) a property's peripheries and, errily also stops at (& even stares into) the properties' windows." Amanda does this, John implies, as the mastermind of a burglary ring. Even Amanda's little dog "Freckles," whom John defames as "anorexic" (he's just nervous) comes under suspicion as we are implored to "WATCH THE ALLEYS" for the two.

Amanda, as imagineered by John. Now think about those cute little kneesocks--wrapped around your neck.

Then comes the peroration:
Your call about these kinds of unusual behaviors (and of the disturbing behaviors (around local burglaries) might be the call that makes 'the difference'... the difference to us, the difference to our Community. Though we may not yet know each other by name, I bet that we residents, share so much more than shopping at Safeway. Like working hard. Like wanting homes that are comforable and safe . . . for the families they shelter and the friends that gather. . . . Here's to our working together!
Well now, ain't he civic-minded (please refer to pic of Henry Jones above). Uh, no. Here's the note John posted on his mailbox, conveying somewhat different sentiments to Amanda:

Enlarge for full bizarreness.

The final paragraph is a little difficult to read:

I will not hesitate to inflict extremely serious injuries wounds cut bruises etc., to give you that ultimate S & M experience not quite but in the general vicinity of death itself which scum of the earth (as opposed to spiritual) truely deserve. Our inventory is almost done: you are in serious trouble--John.

Then, perhaps sensing he'd gone too far, John concludes with a conciliatory p.s.:

They will not allow buttplugs, dildos and whips in prison. But I am sure they already have very inovative methods and they will not stop every couple of minutes like your 'master to ask if you are ok.
On his mailbox. Oh, and just the other day I happened to be in the alley behind his garage. John has posted this sign:

Lying directly below the sign is (I swear by Dave Barry I am not making this up) a dead skunk. I have pictures, but they're really gross (dead skunk pic, $15). I can't swear it was placed there intentionally, but it's too perfect (you know, in a sick way) not to have been.

So, there's another neighbor. I have lots more, and you can look forward to hearing about many of them as this blog grows. Or whatever it does. C'mon, I have to live next door to these people. The least you can do is read about them. Cheerfully, please.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Drunkablog investigates: What Would Jesus Drive?

In a Drunkablog exclusive, our crack just-had-a-couple-at-lunch investigative team solves the mystery that has divided America: WWJD?

Shocking discovery: Jesus drives a Ford Taurus.

Update: In a related story, Drunkablog has learned that Jesus buys His groceries at King Soopers. Except broccoli. If He wants broccoli He goes to Alfalfa's. No pesticides.

Update II: Hi, all you C & L folks! Don't be afraid. Take a look around. At the very least, check out the (photoshopped) picture of Ann Coulter I linked to here. It'll serve you right for visiting a right-wing hate site like The Drunkablog.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Scattered outage

I seem to have a slight case of writer's block. Nothing's coming--no
ha-ha, no slice o' life, no serioso. No serioso, man.

But my determination is steely. This blog may not have ideas, or good writing, or interesting links, or scary pictures, but it has the one thing more important than any of that stuff:

Update: Sorry, that picture really spooked me. Nothing against Ann Coulter. She'll never be mistaken for a great thinker, but she can be pretty funny, and the cause of funniness in others. To call what she does "hate speech" is laughable (well, except maybe that one time). Still, that is one creepy picture.

Update II: Oh, and I can't remember what important thing this blog has. No freakin' idea.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Melanie Phillips highlights yet another example of the recent and happy agreement between leftist academics and rightist mutants on a question of overriding importance to both: just how nasty are the Jews, anyway? She quotes the Telegraph:

The Web site of Sue Blackwell, the Birmingham lecturer who presented motions calling for boycotts of Israeli universities, contains a recommended link to a Web site owned by an anti-Semitic neo-Nazi activist. Wendy Campbell, who owns the MarWen Media Web site, has promoted Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories discussing "unrivaled Jewish power," and maintains an additional Web site entitled "Exposing Israeli Apartheid," which is also linked by Blackwell.

This meeting of self-described "minds" is not uncommon, Phillips points out: "[T]here is . . . considerable crossover between neo-Nazi, radical Islamist and ultra-left websites, thus creating the remarkable axis that now exists between the left and the neo-fascists. The language, imagery and sentiments they all use are often identical."

My own favorite example is David "I'm no neo-nazi" Irving's approving link to an article by, of all people, Ward "I'm no leftist" Churchill. Now why would Irving, the very face of ultra-right psychosis, link to an article by a person who is, at least superficially, the anti-Irving?

Maybe it's because in the article Churchill, as so often citing international law in new and original ways, accuses historians of the Holocaust--and specifically Irving's libel trial opponent Deborah Lipstadt--of crimes against humanity, for which she and they should be put on trial.

And wouldn't that be just ducky with Irving! Exposed by Lipstadt as a malicious liar and anti-semite, he might even volunteer to play Vyshinsky in a show trial like that.

Update: Many interesting facts and figures on the strange love of Churchill and Irving are available here and here.

Monday, May 02, 2005

All you add is the writing

New bloggers! Check out Greyhawk's post on everything you always wanted to know about blogging. I'm a grizzled vet at this stuff myself (two months, 22 days), and my visitor numbers are skyrocketing, but if you haven't figured out all the basic stuff like blogrolling, trackbacks, and enduring Blogspot service outages, this will give you an excellent start.

(via Instapundit)