Thursday, August 31, 2006

Rules To Live By

47. Nothing screams 'nancy boy' louder than swirling an oversized brandy snifter.

Van Morrison

Born today August 31, 1945 in Belfast Northern Ireland. One of the greatest singer, song writers ever, many of his albums are must haves. Astral Weeks, Moon dance, His Band and The Street Choir, Bang Masters to name a handful. Listen to Gloria and think about how young he was when he did that, same with Astral Weeks. Most 21 year olds are lucky if they know there right from left, never mind writing classic songs and albums.
I saw Van in concert just a few years ago - July 4, 1986 at Greatwoods out in Mansfield Massachusetts. A thousand drunk Southies throwing beer bottles and fireworks. Good times, good times. He was touring to promote his No Guru, No Method, No Teacher album, which I like great deal but most people find it to be one of his B efforts.

The Black Dahlia

I’m looking forward to The Black Dahlia opening on September 15th. I read the book by James Ellroy and enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s one of those books that make you glad you live a boring, normal, suburban life. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Black Dahlia murder, it was the shocking and grotesque torture, murder and mutilation of Elizabeth Short in Los Angeles January 15, 1947. Many movies and countless books have been written about this still unsolved murder, it’s fascinating, in a way, that so many people for so many years are still interested in this sad story. I also read The Black Dahlia Avenger by Steve Hodel who makes the case, somewhat unpersuasively, that his father was a serial murderer who killed Betty Short among many others. There were many suspects in this case including Woody Guthrie, Orson Welles and a couple of women. Who was responsible may never be known conclusively. I have no regrets that I read these books other than the fact that Amazon keeps recommending bizarre ghoulish books to me. Read two murder mysteries and all of a sudden you’re branded a freak.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Crime of The Century

Listen to this 911 call and you will support funding that will enable the authorities to shock annoying callers with 20,000 volts.

On Top Of The World

Here we are at Hell's Roaring Canyon overlooking Mount Adams at about 7200 feet above sea level. We walked here all the way from the parking lot about 1.5 miles and 300 feet or so below. It was neat to walk on snow in August.

Jury Duty

Here's an interesting story from the Courant. A 29 year old attorney, Jonathon Edington, climbed into his neighbor Barry James' home and stabbed him to death because he thought James had sexually assaulted his 2 year old daughter. The details are sketchy at this point and no one knows for sure if James had molested the girl. As a father I would make a questionable juror on this case. If the dead man had in fact harmed the 2 year old girl, I would be in favor of sending the father/killer away for as long as a year. If the father/killer is just some wacko who killed for no reason then I would be in favor of sending him away permanently. We are a nation of laws and people shouldn't take the law into their own hands. I really believe that, sometimes. Conversely, I can fully understand how someone might kill a person they believed harmed their 2 year old girl in that way. I also think that if the molestation happened the chances of James offending again are damn good while the chances of Edington finding a good reason to kill someone are fairly low.

Blasphemy at The Corner

I'm a regular reader of the Corner over at National Review Online and came across this little gem today:

My problem with cormac mccarthy

I just came back this week from a vacation and had a chance to do some casual reading, which included Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. I had never read any McCarthy before, and he has a certain power. But I can't say I enjoyed slogging through the two-thirds of the book that involves detailed descriptions of guys wandering through the desert. I know this is mood music and know it provides some relief from all the blood-letting, but it makes the book feel like a padded-out novella.

Blasphemy, utter blasphemy.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Do you ever wonder why spelunkers wear helmets? Well wonder no more. Here is proof positive that standing up inside a lava tube without a helmet is ill advised. Desmond, our 4 year old, was monkeying around inside a lava tube in Trout Lake Washington with his brother and his cousins, he stood up and nicked his gourd on the sharp volcanic rock. Three stainless steel staples later and he's as good as new.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Airport Reading

I flew back out to the Washington on Tuesday and picked up this book at one of the book sellers at Bradley. Most of the books they sell at airports are of the DaVinci Code in quality and appeal. Fortunately, I happened upon a bookstore in the terminal who had a collection of "Literature", mostly the stuff you read or should have read in high school and college. It almost made feel well read to see all the books there that I had somehow muddled through before. I wanted to buy Middlemarch on which I have done many reports but never bothered to read, but the only George Elliot book they had was Silas Mariner.
My quick review of the Fall of Rome.
  • Yes Rome did fall, it wasn't peaceful nor was it intentional - necessarily. Ward-Perkins doesn't go into why or how Rome fell, he was too busy making the case that there was indeed a fall.
  • There was a substantial period of less than elevated living in a great part of the world afterward and this didn't really end for hundreds of years. If this sounds like news to you, you may have been in a college classroom in the last few years where they might tend to portray the fall of Rome in a more positive light, i.e. misunderstood Germanic tribes seeking a multicultural accommodation vis a vis Roman dominance.
  • An entertaining and quick read, just under 250 pages, this book will tell you more about the political leanings and ground axes in academia than Visigothic machinations. I found it interesting to see how the portrayal of the Germanic tribes rises and falls depending on how modern Germany is behaving and who is writing the history. Latinate writers tend to have a more dour view of the Roman downfall, some Germanic scholars tend to be more sanguine.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Plan B on Park Road

West Hartford has many places to eat, from $4 bowls of pho at Vietnam on New Britain Ave to $97 appetizers of saffron marinated humming bird tongue in the center. What we needed was a burger joint like East Hartford's Auggie's and Mickey's or Manchester's world famous Shady Glen. Well we sort of got a burger joint now, Plan B on Park street across from Cumbies where that Cypress Arms dive used to be. It's a nice looking, hip place with all sorts of beer, 8 or so on tap 3 times that bottled. They specialize in hamburgers, and from what I had (bacon cheeseburger with caramelized onions) they do a damn fine job. All their burgers are hand formed and ground fresh on the premises and served on real buns. They take burgers seriously here and it shows. Oddly the have lame, skinny, little fries which don't do justice to their burgers. Please get real fries i.e. big fat steak fries. Not curly fries, not spicy fries or skinny McDonalds' fries. No one can do them like McDonalds can, so don't even try. It's not a cheap place, expect your burger to be between $9 and $14 bucks depending how funky you want to get with it. Me, I'm a meat and potatoes guy 8 generations out of county Antrim, but if you want you can get stuff like lobster, tuna, truffles, avocado, fried eggs and such on your burger. It's not Auggie's, but that sort of place probably wouldn't fly here anyway.


Man are they screwed. They just lost four games to the Evil Empire in spectacular fashion. Is it possible that they can turn it around? Yeah sure they can. And I will keep every New Year's resolution perfectly in 2007. It feels like October here in Bleeding Connecticut, this year that's not a good thing.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Trivial Pursuits

27 years. If you spent 27 days doing something that made your hands as useless you'd need to find a better purpose in life, but 27 years? What a waste of groceries. I wonder how she manages to perform certain mundane tasks such as picking a dime up off the floor or using a cell phone. Of course there are other things I'm sure she has problems doing but I don't really want to think about them.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Straight From Central Casting

The perv who said he's responsible for the death of JonBenet Ramsey looks like the folks over at central casting worked overtime to find the perfect creepy looking geek for the role. This all seems so odd at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if he is some weirdo who had nothing to do with the death of that poor exploited girl but has some arcane agenda of his own.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How Lame Is This?

Some country western yahoo has been arrested for shooting a caged bear with a bow & arrow then editing a video tape to make it look like he shot it in the wild. I like to hunt as much as the next guy, but shooting a caged animal is about as fun as shooting yourself in the foot. When I was in college I used to spend a lot of time at the farm hunting for nuisance animals, woodchuck which ate the vegetables and dug up the horse paddock, foxes and raccoons that ate the chickens. Some might even say that I spent far too much time and energy in search of woodchucks, but what can I say it was a lot of fun. Once we put a have a heart trap in the chicken coop and caught this monster raccoon, when asked to shoot it I couldn't do it. Mind you, if I saw this poor helpless beast sniffing around the barn yard I would have shot it without hesitation, but there's something about shooting a caged animal that's so completely un-sporting I couldn't do it. Why is that?

@*&%$%!? Bumper Stickers

As you, my astute reader, may know I hate bumper stickers with every corpulent fiber of my republican being. Not only are they stupid, annoying and hard to remove, they give the clueless a chance to share their thoughts with those of us who just don't give a rat's ass. Example: on the way into work this afternoon I saw a newish Volvo Station Wagon with a bumper sticker that read "Growing the Economy is Shrinking the Ecosystem". At first I thought "Right on man, Power to the People!" and then thrust my right fist through my sun roof in a sign eco-camaraderie, then exhaled and turned up the Dead on my eight track. Wait, that wasn't me. I thought what unmitigated balls to be driving around in $30,000 car made out of steel and plastic that burns plain old evil gasoline with a sticker like that. Oh the effrontery! It's like O.J. Simpson walking around wearing a bloody stop domestic abuse T shirt.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Door in The Floor

The Door in The Floor made a stir when it came out because of it's depiction of an adult woman's (Kim Basinger) sexual relationship with a high school boy. I suppose that's one way to look at it, but it misses the point.
I love this movie, it reminds me of In the Bedroom and Ordinary People - films that depict adults dealing for better or worse with the effects of tragedy. In this case Marion and Ted Cole, Basinger and Jeff Bridges, both never better, deal with life and each other long after suffering the loss of two children. Ted is a drunk bastard, Marion an emotional basket case. They are separated with a young daughter. Ted brings a bright, young Exeter boy Eddie (Jon Foster) in to their home as intern, ostensibly to help with his writing. Eddie is the catalyst to so much more. He went for an education about writing, he ended up with something to write about. You should see this movie. Pay attention to Ted's instructions to Eddie about Squash. Enjoy Basinger and Bridges performances which I think are their best work ever. Check out the trailer.

Friday, August 11, 2006

On Demand

Wow, I'm blogging from my sisters house in Newburyport, MA and she has On Demand in her cable package, which lets you watch a bunch of free movies pretty much any time you want to. I'm watching Terry Gilliam's Brazil right now with Jonathan Price, Ben Hoskins, Ian Holm and Robert De Niro. It's a good thing I don't have this at home because I would never get anything done and weigh 600 pounds.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Terror In The Skies

I must admit I'm surprised that air travel has been targeted again, you'd think it would be easier for the Wahhabis to pick some less guarded infrastructure to attack. But I guess they want to make the point that they can strike anywhere despite our safeguards, in this case their reach exceeds their grasp. Thank God. If the terrorist had been successful in downing 9 or 10 fully loaded trans Atlantic 747s they could have killed upwards of 3700 people, exceeding the death toll of 911.
What lessons do we draw from this? No new ones if you have been paying attention. I wonder how many Americans want "aggressive and secret initiatives to monitor terrorist groups and suspects, trace their finances, interrogate captured combatants thoroughly and detain combatants as long as necessary?" I keep hearing about erosion of civil liberties but I can't say I've ever seen any. But I probably will in two weeks when I fly again in my own country and I'll have to check all my baggage because some crazy bastards want to kill indiscriminately.

Silly Democrats

Lieberman will win in November and he will return to Washington free to be a pain in the ass to whomever he pleases, notably the democratic establishment who tossed him aside like a plump intern. By embracing Lamont the Democrats have cleverly positioned themselves as the "cut and run party". If we live in peace and harmony forever and that nasty bit of business on 9/11/2001 was just an anomaly this is brilliant strategy. Unfortunately this is the real world and the next clump of shit to hit the fan is an only a week, month, year or decade away. When it happens, and it will, sooner rather than later, Lieberman's pro war stance will make him seem like a moderate Sybil.
As for Lamont, some unsolicited advice: If Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson are standing behind you and smiling, you're probably doing something wrong.


One of the benefits of being in the wilderness without TV or the Internet is that I was able to get some reading done. Notably, The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley and Mr. Paradise by Elmore Leonard, both are Dexter recommended.
Mr. Paradise is a straight up police-crime story with delightful Elmore Leonard dialogue - nobody does dialogue quite as well. It's a good read but hardly memorable. The Last Good Kiss on the other hand is quite an enjoyable book that I don't think I'll forget anytime soon. Crumley is the guy who wrote The Mexican Tree Duck and One to Count Cadence which if memory serves me were Dexter recommended as well. The Last Good Kiss is a detective story that keeps you guessing without trying to be clever, although it's awfully clever and awfully funny. Drunk bulldogs, missing daughters and an author on a bender. The protagonist, C.W. Sughrue is an ex Army MI guy with a literary bent, who's a bit of a lush but still highly functional. No wonder Dexter liked it. Sughrue is detached but not broken. Like a bartender out of a Hemingway story, he has his code of honor and his demons. You know he's a good guy, but he's not too good. The sort of guy who won't drink your last beer, but has a gun locker hidden in the bottom of his tool chest. The term hard boiled has been bandied about rather recklessly, I'm not sure what it means anymore. To be sure Sughrue is a hard case, but a clever literary one, I enjoyed the time I spent in his world but I'm glad I live in mine.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Killer Angels

While in the woods of Washington I read Michael Shaara's Killer Angels. I'm usually kind of skeptical of novelized forms of history, but I must admit that I liked this book a great deal. It details the battle of Gettysburg from the point of view of the men fighting it, primarily CSA Lt. Gen. James Longstreet. What I discovered mostly from this method is how well the men fighting each other, knew each other. Some where best of friends and had fought together in the war against Mexico. Shaara describes how most of the CSA generals were not supporters of slavery but viewed the conflict as a matter of defending there home, i.e. Virginia and their rights. He uses the example of a country club that one might join, then changes it's rules, then uses force to keep you from quiting. I never quite looked at that way. I knew the war was about succession, but succession was at heart all about slavery. Men like Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet are not feckless and had good reason to to what they did. They agonized over the choices they made and oaths they broke.
The hero of the book, if there is such a thing anymore, is USA Col. Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine. First we see him treat disaffected US soldiers with sympathy and kindness, then fight heroically during the battle holding Little Round Top. A professor of rhetoric at Bowdoin College he seems an unlikely war hero. What makes him special, in my opinion, is that he's not just a soldier but a decent man asked to do difficult things in time of war. He doesn't forget his humanity and this serves him well. The disaffected soldiers could have ruined his unit but he is able to sway them back to the Unions cause thereby nearly doubling the strength of his brigade. Later, at wars end, he calls Union troops to attention during the surrender of the Confederacy at Appomattox. A lessor man may have treated his surrendering enemy with contempt, but Chamberlain knew better and helped cement the peace with honor and dignity.
We killed a way of life in the Civil War, not just the moral scar of slavery. Killer Angels describes the days it died, like an inexorable tragedy that everyone knows is coming but can't seem to stop.

Bad News For WhatHisName

The editors over at NRO have basically endorsed Lieberman for senate, calling the presumptive GOP candidate "a non-conservative nonentity". Ouch. It's sad that the GOP can't capitalize on the disorder among the Dems but it's sadder still that a main stream middle of the road politician like Lieberman is booted to the curb for being middle of the road. I may have to vote for a democrat. There's a first time for everything.

I'm Back

Not that anyone here missed me. Much has happened since I left. Joe Lieberman lost his primary battle against Ned Lamont, Cynthia McKinney lost her primary to somebody who has got to be more stable than she is. Prediction: Lieberman will still win in November, Lamont will go back to making millions and McKinney will die tragically when some one accidentally drops a house from Kansas on her. I have no idea what will happen to her footwear.
The Sox are 2 games down to the Evil Empire and one game behind to the ChiSox and half a game behind the Twins. October is just around the corner, this will be interesting.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I'm in Washington on vacation so blogging will be light to non existent. So far fishing has been great, and I have finished two of Dexter's recommendations. I'll share my thoughts on those when I return. Weather is perfect 70-75 and low, low humidity. 50's at night. I understand it's like 90+ back home. Ha.