Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Wodehouse's Similes

'You look like Helen of Troy after a good facial.'

He looked haggard and care-worn, like a Borgia who has suddenly remembered that he has forgotten to put cyanide in the consomme, and the dinner gong due any minute.

He was a man who was musing on the coming Social Revolution. He said nothing, merely looking at me as if he were measuring me for my lamp-post.

She looked like something that might have occurred in Ibsen in one of his less frivolous moments.

Wilfred Allsop was sitting up, his face pale, his eyes glassy, his hair disordered. He looked like the poet Shelley after a big night out with Lord Byron.

Her face was shining like the seat of a bus-driver's trousers.

As for Gussie Fink-Nottle, many an experienced undertaker would have been deceived by his appearance and started embalming him on sight.

Anymore? Anyone, Bueller...Anyone?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Answer me this...

Where are these people? I tire of waiting...

Blimpish MIA

Dr. Curmudgeon MIA

Please forward any and all information...

Thank you.

Victoria's Wars

"...Victoria's Wars covers the period from the queen's accession in 1837 to the death of Prince Albert in 1861, taking in the First Afghan War, the Sikh Wars, the conquest of Burma, the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny and the Opium Wars. In an afterword, Saul David notes that he fell in love with the old stories when reading George MacDonald Fraser's marvellous Flashman books, which narrate the further adventures of the cowardly bully from the classic Victorian novel Tom Brown's Schooldays.

In the world of fiction, Flashy supposedly took part in almost all the actions described here, from the storming of Delhi to the burning of the Summer Palace at Peking. Indeed, anyone who knows the Flashman novels will find it impossible to read this book without picturing the familiar lovable rogue. The real story of the Battle of Balaklava, for example, is pretty good, and is superbly retold here; but can anything better the Flashman version, with its part-invented fictional detail and character touches?

In their own way, the Flashman books reflect our changing attitude to Empire. A coward, a liar, a braggart and an adulterer, his conduct would have horrified many genuine Victorian officers, and his adventures often show British imperialism in the very worst light. David, however, draws attention to the genuine courage that underpinned the often cynical enterprise of national expansion..."

Hugh Laurie: Wodehouse Saved my Life!

Hugh Laurie:

"...I was, in truth, a horrible child. Not much given to things of a bookey nature, I spent a large part of my youth smoking Number Six and cheating in French vocabulary tests. I wore platform boots with a brass skull and crossbones over the ankle, my hair was disgraceful, and I somehow contrived to pull off the gruesome trick of being both fat and thin at the same time. If you had passed me in the street during those pimply years, I am confident that you would, at the very least, have quickened your pace.

You think I exaggerate? I do not. Glancing over my school reports from the year 1972, I observe that the words "ghastly" and "desperate" feature strongly, while "no", "not", "never" and "again" also crop up more often than one would expect in a random sample. My history teacher's report actually took the form of a postcard from Vancouver..." continue

Blandings Castle Found?

Blandings Castle?

"...They fed all the information into their mapping system and the computer identified just one area that matched all the clues: Hifnal near Telford, which led them to Apley Hall. Daryl Lloyd said: "It was a very nice result. We looked up the house on the internet and there it was - Blandings Castle, tower and battlements, exactly like the description in the books." Mr Greatbatch added: "What was uncanny was that Norman Murphy looked at Apley and thought it matched but later settled on Weston Park. But he was looking at different features, like the architecture and features in the books that were not to do with geography. We looked at completely different clues and came up with the same name..."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Perusing the old "deftly written"

First published in 1929 - a Blandings Novel

HUGO CARMODY loved Millicent, Lord Emsworth's niece, but he was very good friends with Sue Brown of the Regal Theatre — an attachment which Millicent, perhaps, could hardly be expected to enthuse over. Ronnie Fish loved Sue, and entertained feelings of unrestrained ferocity towards the man Pilbeam, a blister of the first water, who was pestering her with flowers. When Millicent and Ronnie heard that Hugo and Sue were having dinner "on the quiet" there was a pretty storm in a teacup brewing; and when Ronnie,descending in wrath upon Mario's, found not Hugo but the execrable Pilbeam, summer lightning flashed in truth. How Lord Emsworth's prize pig was stolen, and how the lovers' quarrels were finally cleared up, is all told in Mr. Wodehouse's inimitable manner. .

Saki deflates Socialists

One of the best ever:

"SOPHIE CHATTEL-MONKHEIM was a Socialist by conviction and a Chattel-Monkheim by marriage. The particular member of that wealthy family whom she had married was rich, even as his relatives counted riches. Sophie had very advanced and decided views as to the distribution of money: it was a pleasing and fortunate circumstance that she also had the money. When she inveighed eloquently against the evils of capitalism at drawing-room meetings and Fabian conferences she was conscious of a comfortable feeling that the system, with all its inequalities and iniquities, would probably last her time. It is one of the consolations of middle-aged reformers that the good they inculcate must live after them if it is to live at all.

On a certain spring evening, somewhere towards the dinner-hour, Sophie sat tranquilly between her mirror and her maid, undergoing the process of having her hair built into an elaborate reflection of the prevailing fashion. She was hedged round with a great peace, the peace of one who has attained a desired end with much effort and perseverance, and who has found it still eminently desirable in its attainment. The Duke of Syria had consented to come beneath her roof as a guest, was even now installed beneath her roof, and would shortly be sitting at her dining-table. As a good Socialist, Sophie disapproved of social distinctions, and derided the idea of a princely caste, but if there were to be these artificial gradations of rank and dignity she was pleased and anxious to have an exalted specimen of an exalted order included in her house-party. She was broad-minded enough to love the sinner while hating the sin - not that she entertained any warm feeling of personal affection for the Duke of Syria, who was a comparative stranger, but still, as Duke of Syria, he was very, very welcome beneath her roof. She could not have explained why, but no one was likely to ask her for an explanation, and most hostesses envied her..."

From "The Byzantine Omelette" by Saki

Keep reading, it is pure Saki...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Fifteen things you didn't know about The Da Vinci Code

15) The content of Dan Brown's next book is not known, but strong rumours abound that it will be an exposé of popular heroine Snow White, best known for her charitable work among dwarfs. Explosive new evidence unearthed by the author suggests that Snow White had a long-standing affair with leading dwarf Grumpy, that the affair culminated in the birth of a secret love-child, and that the love-child grew up to become the Deputy Prime Minister of Great Britain.

The rest...

Friday, May 19, 2006

No wonder...

Your Linguistic Profile::
75% General American English
15% Dixie
5% Yankee
0% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern
What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

This is interesting, since I live in the midwest...No wonder no one understands me...

via TLB

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Hardy Boys Code

The author of the Hardy Boys Mysteries was, as millions of readers know, Franklin W. Dixon. Except there never was a Franklin W. Dixon. He was the creation of Edward Stratemeyer, the savvy founder of a children’s book empire that also published the Tom Swift, Bobbsey Twins, and Nancy Drew series.

So who really wrote the Hardy Boys?

This man did...

The Famous Five

Enid Blyton 1897-1968

British writer who published over 600 children's or juvenile books during her 40-year career. Blyton's most famous series was The Famous Five. Its central characters were Julian, Dick, Anne, George, and the dog Timmy. Her works celebrated good food, spirit of comradeship, and honesty. By the 1980s, Blyton's books had sold some 60 million copies and had been translated into nearly seventy languages.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What's in a Name

Many items we wear today have fashion names that have origins long since forgotten...

Charles Macintosh and the Mackintosh

Thomas Burberry and the Burberry


Barbour Coats

The Seventh Earl of Cardigan and the Cardigan

Lord Raglan and the Raglan Sleeve

Earl Spencer and the Short Spencer Jacket

Dr. Jaeger

Monday, May 15, 2006

Fathers and Sons

Friday, May 12, 2006

Do you know the way to San Jose?

One of my favorite things about a blog is that you can meet people (sort of) and peek into the lives of those who live miles away in different cultures. I thought of this as I was leaving snide posts over at bobgirrl's blog. She lives in California, and I can't think of any place more different than that. It also counts as a different country, so I'm doubly exited. Anyway, I was thinking of San Jose, (and Dionne Warwick) where bobgirrl lives, and my first visit there.

I have a childhood friend who had moved to San Jose several years back. We grew up living right across the street from one another. He went west, and in short order became a dot com millionaire. He always was a smart one (the little bastard). Well, one time I had some business in San Francisco and while there I called him up to schedule a dinner of Rice-o-Roni...He was very excited, he was newly married (I was at the wedding) and they had just purchased a house and wanted to show it to me. He picked me up at the hotel and while driving out he talked about the house. He had paid something like $400,000.00 for it and it had been on the market around 7 seconds before he snapped it up. So, here I was, visions of Tara dancing in my head, I mean $400K, this must be some house! So we drive into this neighborhood with all of these tiny box like houses, all built on top of each other, I thought we must be stopping to pick up one of his poor friends. We pull up to one of these tiny, I mean tiny, houses...No yard, none, nadda, nothing. You could actually lean out a window of his house and leave dirty hand prints on your next door neighbors. I know because I did it. They're probably still mad at him. There were, I think about four rooms, little bitty rooms, well, you get the idea. I was just stunned...Culture shock...Where we grew up, where the yards are measured in acres, this house would be too small for the servants...And he was so happy to have gotten it for a paltry $400,000...Well, I smiled and complimented him on the nice door knobs or something, but I just could not believe it. Culture shock...Different places, different countries.

Anyway, he had the last laugh. He became a dot com billionaire and bought an actual glass fronted mansion on a hill overlooking the city...I still think he's a bastard. But I still liked San Jose...A nice place to visit.

Update: You can still see my elegant handprint in San Jose, or, so I am told...When you go to see it, do not ring the doorbell, unless you have an umbrella handy...

Irate American male...

The Maximum Leader, my favorite villain, is irate and is not going to take it anymore...

"...I really wish that we could pinpoint the moment at which the hearty people of these United States became such pansy wimps. I do. Then at least I could focus my anger at some specific event and rant, "Goddamn it! If it wasn't for everything that happened on August 18, 1989 we wouldn't be in the mess we're in."

If our Anglo-Western heritage was a book, we'd be tearing out the pages one at a time and mixing them in a huge manure heap of modernity and relativism. Social norms? Too restrictive. Personal responsibility? Too hard. Understanding right and wrong? Too judgmental. Calling thing by its true name? Too pushy. Our hard-won liberty, our freedoms, our civilization. It is all being tossed into a dung-heap that will be spread on a weed-ridden field and left to grow untended. Neglected...."

I like the way you think ML...

More naked ranting and raving from the Villianschloss...

What ho Jeeves?!

Good God chaps, did you see this? My illusions are shattered, they're in tatters, all over, Manhattan...Sheedoobee.

See what happens when they get rid of finishing schools... Good Lord, how about a ladies maid or something? I can never look at any of you the same again...Holy Cow! I'm shocked...I spent 8 years in the Marines and never saw things half this bad. Thank God I'm old and won't have to know any of these ladies in the biblical sense.

via bobgirrl

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Follies of the Wise

"...Crews, who lives in Berkeley, is a rationalist who believes above all in empirical study and has no patience for what he sees as the question-begging conclusions of psychoanalysis. Freud's central notion that psychological problems are caused by the repression of childhood sexual fantasies (usually a boy's for his mother or a girl's for her father, but not to exclude a healthy dollop of homosexual, oral and anal fixations) has never, Crews reminds us, been proved through sound controlled experimentation. And the clinical thesis that psychoanalysts can detect and tease out these buried memories is, Crews argues, fatally contaminated by the therapists' own suggestive probing.

More plainly: In a psychoanalytic consultation, the analyst will ignore most explanations for the patient's troubles in favor of the bizarre and the perverted. Through pointed, suggestive questioning, he will uncover (make up?) some seedy memories and describe them to the patient. In addition to recoiling in disgust at the therapist's own apparent fixation on such prurience, she will reject remembering any such thing. Freud's advice to therapists at this point is to bludgeon their way through -- "to repeat the pressure and represent ourselves as infallible" -- and refuse to take no for an answer. The patient will eventually own up to the memories and the diagnosis will be confirmed. Voila. Science..."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Meeting Flash Harry

Robert the Llamabutcher talks about meeting Flash Harry for the first time....

I'm not quite sure I understand his complaint about "virtuous anti-virtue"...I believe that GMF's main target in the books is hypocrisy in all its forms...And throughout the books, which are historically accurate, with the exception of placing Flashy on the spot, Flashman gives credit where credit is due, and criticizes those that deserved it. More importantly, these are just incredibly funny books.

Keep going, old chap, only 11 more, and Fraser has yet to publish Flashy's packet from the U. S. Civil War...The one that we have all been waiting for...

See also: The Flashman Society

Hey Brits, you’re more American than you know

"...After a brief visit, the one thing I can say for sure is that being in London today is far more like being in America than it was two decades ago. From Starbucks to WiFi, much of Londonland — and I include the vast expanse of England that is essentially a satellite of the capital — is indistinguishable from an American blue (Democrat-voting) state city.

Thatcher’s reforms, and Blair’s co-optation of them, have created, from a distance, a pseudo-American society. The energy in Londonland, its vibrant labour markets, its consumerism, its media, its multiculturalism, its unabashed capitalism, have a distinctively American feel. Even the new wave of eastern European immigrants is strikingly like New York in another era.

This is not to say that modern Britain doesn’t have its own cultural roots, or isn’t still distinctly British. Global capitalism was invented by the Brits, after all. And it isn’t to conflate Britain outside Londonland with the capital complex. But the tone and tenor are strikingly more American than they used to be..."

Braddock's Defeat - The Battle of Monongahela 1755

"...At around 1pm on Wednesday 9th July 1755 the army formed up around Frazier’s Cabin on the western bank of the Monogahela for the final 7 mile march to the fort. The troops set off apparently without the previous elaborate system of outlying pickets, as it was assumed there was to be no resistance and the fort would be found abandoned. All were in high spirits and the drummers played the Grenadier’s March.

They were wrong. A party of some 300 Indians and around 30 French colonial troops came down the path and attacked the advanced party of Lieutenant Colonel Gage and three companies of foot. Firing broke out and the Indians fanned out down the flanks of the army in a horse shoe attack..."

British and American: 26 officers killed, 37 wounded. 430 soldiers killed and 385 wounded.
French and Indians: probably less than 30 killed. Wounded unknown.

A number of the participants in Braddock’s expedition to Fort Duquesne went on to achieve fame or notoriety, among them:
George Washington.
• Lt Colonel Gage became British Commander in Chief in America on the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.
• Captain Horatio Gates became a major general in the American Continental Army and was in command at Saratoga.
• Captain Charles Lee of Halkett’s 44th became a major general in the Continental Army.
• James Craik became Washington’s surgeon.
• Captain William Mercer became a major general in the Continental Army.
• Lieutenant Hotham of Dunbar’s 48th commanded at Detroit in Pontiac’s war.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Tories celebrate a night of triumph

Tory chairman Francis Maude said the party's gains in Thursday night's local elections were "at the top end" of what had been expected. Labour's losses were more than double the level of 100 which the party had indicated it could live with in a mid-term poll. A Sky News projection suggested that the Conservatives would have a 10-seat majority in the House of Commons if Thursday night's figures were repeated in a general election.

Battle of Ulundi - 1879

Charge of the 17th Lancers at Ulundi

(the 17th was Flashman's Regiment)

"...The fire from the packed British regiments, the artillery and the Gatling guns was overwhelming. It was the largest concentration of British military might in South Africa to that date. Prisoners stated after the battle that they were overwhelmed by the noise of the firing, let alone the impact of the bullets, and stunned by the size of the British force. It took only half an hour before the Zulus began to falter.

At this point the 17th Lancers passed out of the back of the square and charged. The impact of the charge broke up what was left of the Zulu formations and the Zulu army dissolved in flight, pursued by the Lancers and the mounted irregular units of Chelmsford’s columns. The massacre of fleeing Zulus seen at Khambula and Gingindlovu was repeated and multiplied several times. It was the end of the Zulu army and the war, although fighting continued on a small scale for some weeks. As soon as the battle was over Chelmsford ordered his troops to burn the Royal Kraal of Ulundi..."

What do you write with? Do you care?...

I am sure that most people don't even think about this, or, have some vague preferences but just grab whatever is at hand. Being an eccentric, this is important, so I use only the Parker "51"...The most successful pen in history, it is also the best. No longer in production, I have lines into numerous pen aficionados to keep me supplied with working models. I prefer the Mark II, with black barrel and gold cap. If you write, and prefer the manual method to the keyboard, look into the "51". Good working models will run approx. $100.00 per pen...

For pencils I find the Ticonderoga No. 2 black to be my favorite. Yes, yes...I have way too much spare time.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Very nice...

Without doubt, Miss Coulter is a very attractive woman, in an east coast, prep school sort of way. She is not nearly as attractive as Ms. Noonan, but, then again, who is? Given a choice, which I'm not, I would dine with Ms. Noonan, and send Miss Coulter my very best regards. But, this is probably an age thing. I have never actually read a book by Miss Coulter, but I have seen some of her journalism. I believe the real reason that Miss Coulter annoys the Left is because she is so attractive. This contradicts the Left's image of conservative women as fat homemakers, in polyester stretch pants, shopping at Wal-Mart. How can a women who looks like Miss Coulter be a religious conservative? This drives them to distraction. I do disagree with Miss Coulter, or her publishers, with the insistence of placing a photograph of her in a tank top, or some other form highlighting outfit on the cover of each book. If a photo you must have, a nice face shot will do. We know she's attractive, we're buying the book for her mind. Right......... Plus, after seeing this evidence, how can any of you chaps still not be Catholic? Now you know why most of those Anglican chaps convert...

POB posting at the LB

The LlamaButchers discuss Aubrey/Maturin casting with Irish Elk...I personally could accept Crowe as Aubrey, if the facial scars had been added and the hair had been lighter, per the books. But I could not accept the handsome, 6ft 3in Paul Bettany as Maturin, who is described in detail as small and ugly, only around 1000 times in the A/M canon...Aubrey is also described as a large powerfully built man with blond hair. Maturin has sparse hair and wears a bob wig. Read the books Hollywood...Yes we each have our own vision of the characters, but in this case O'Brian does provide plenty of detail.

I would have chosen Brendan Gleeson as Aubrey and Tim Roth as Maturin...But that's just me...

Note: And I would like to add my congratulations to these fine gentleman for finally meeting with that Flash chap, Damn your eyes! I'm sure you're having a roaring good time!

Monday, May 1, 2006

Laughing in Eden

The life and art of P. G. Wodehouse.
by C. Stephen Evans

In Books & Culture

"Evelyn Waugh, in a tribute to P. G. Wodehouse delivered on the BBC on July 15, 1961, zeroed in on a theological ground for the unmatched appeal of Wodehouse's fiction:

For Mr. Wodehouse there has been no fall of Man; no "aboriginal calamity." His characters have never tasted the forbidden fruit. They are still in Eden. The gardens of Blandings Castle are that original garden from which we are all exiled. The chef Anatole prepares the ambrosia for the immortals of high Olympus. Mr. Wodehouse's world can never stale. He will continue to release future generations from captivity that may be more irksome than our own. He has made a world for us to live in and delight in.

A deeply Catholic novelist such as Waugh knows what sin is and notices its absence. The first time I read this often-quoted praise, I immediately thought, "Of course," and I understood why Wodehouse is a writer who is not merely enjoyed but deeply loved..."

Read on...

You could always teach...

American Enterprise reports that over half of students graduating from four-year colleges in the U. S. lack the literacy to deal with such "real-life" tasks as understanding newspaper editorials, comparing credit-card offers, or summarizing the results of a survey. Nor do they have the math skills needed to balance their checkbooks, according to a new study funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. - David Schaefer

Sleep well...

Were they that good?

Many left comments on the post concerning the German Uber Ace Erich Hartmann, and most people got around to mentioning the Eastern Front vs. Western Front dichotomy, as I like to call it. This works in part, but Hartmann did shoot down 7 American P-51s in his Me-109 (the P-51 was a much superior aircraft) without being (technically) shot down by them (see below), although at one time he was swarmed by 8 P-51s and was forced to evade, working his way over the German lines, until his fuel ran out, he then bailed out. Although none of the 8 P-51s were able to hit Hartmann's aircraft with bullets. Ironically, Hartmann states in one biography, that he expected the American pilots to shoot him in his parachute. The German pilots were told by the German High Command that this was normal American practice. So, whatever you think of the Luftwaffe, he had the skills. But, all in all, I think this is the best short answer:

From: Ace Pilots - Erich Hartmann

"...The top American ace of all time, the U.S. Ace of Aces was Richard Ira Bong. He shot down 40 Japanese planes in the Pacific.

Over the years, there's been a lot of ink spilled about the relative scores of German and American aces. 27 Americans shot down over 20 enemy planes. 15 Germans shot down over 200 planes, and more than 100 Luftwaffe experten downed at least 100 aircraft. Clearly, the German fighter pilots were not ten times better than their American counterparts.

In large part, the differences can be attributed to one man: Joseph Stalin, who approached all Russian military problems with one concept: more! More planes, more pilots, and when they got shot down, even more planes and more pilots. Poorly trained, flying mediocre aircraft, the brave Russian pilots didn't have much of a chance.

Also important is the type of air warfare that the Soviets waged. They focused on ground support, on the tank-killing Il-2 Sturmoviks. And they were very successful. But the Sturmoviks, while deadly against German tanks, were no match for Hartmann and other aces flying Bf 109s and Fw 190s.

During the First World War, the top ace was the German Baron Manfred von Richthofen, with 80 kills; he was the "The Red Baron." The top American was Captain Eddie Rickenbacker with 26 aerial victories..."