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And Now to Pay For It All

[Breaking: Bhutto assassinated in Pakistan. More to come...]

The Post-Holiday Debrief:

Once again the kids got fabulous gifts from Santa and Master Card. Christmas in my house has a standard progression of emotions, including the famous Merriness, among which the most important is Denial. That would be the Denial of ultimate liability for the cost of the packaged and beribboned treasures under the tree. Denial gives way, sometime late in the afternoon or early in the evening on the 25th, to Acceptance of the responsibility for paying for these things, which then leads to Resolve, as in, I now Resolve to work my tail off to pay for all this [stuff].

Thus we look ahead to 2008, a year of national decision, and, for your scribe, of endless, grinding, ceaseless work in the mills of journalism.

Toil. That's my theme for '08.

You could make the case, and it would be a rational one, that a person would not need to work so hard to make money were he not entangled in the consumer culture that uses material goods as happiness agents. And I agree that a more ascetic lifestyle has its appeal. I would be just as happy in a monastery, with just a simple tablet for writing, a bowl for my gruel, a single wool blanket, and an LCD hi-def TV with 999 channels.

Food report: I spatchcocked the turkey to within an inch of its life. The stuffing was a little watery, possibly because we added water, but no matter, you just roll with it. To say that we ate a lot over the last few days would be to imply that there were things we did other than eat.

My Mom and step-dad were here, so it was a big family holiday. My Mom is an expert on good eating and wholesome living. She knows what kinds of foods and vitamins are essential to a robust and gastrointestinally sound life. Almost everything out of her mouth is some kind of folk wisdom, with perhaps a bias toward digestion issues. Also she is of the generation for whom it is hard to get through a night without a reference to Jackie Kennedy or the Queen of England.

At dinner one night my Mom said, "Queen Elizabeth eats a lot of barley because she says it keeps her regular."

"Are you performing a parody of yourself?" I asked.

But she ignored the heckling and continued with the folk wisdom-mongering.

You know, come to think of it, barley really is an underappreciated grain. Surely there's a blog item in that.


Boodler Scottynuke tips us to this great news for football fans. [The monks were complaining that they didn't get NFL Network at the monastery.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 27, 2007; 7:26 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: "Love and Sex With Robots"
Next: 1968 and 2008



A Holiday DeBrief sounds like a good time.

Of course, in my case it would be a Holiday DeBoxer.

Unless I'm feelin' saucy, then it would be a Holiday DeNada.


Posted by: bc | December 27, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

First? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 27, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Dangit, a tie!! Let's go to the replay...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 27, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

And of course, now we have to watch the NFL dance around the fact that they'd already signed "exclusive" contracts with stations in Boston, NYC and Manchester (gotta keep the candidates current on sports!)...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 27, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Dammit, dammit, dammit...

CNN -- Ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has died, according to media reports. Bhutto's husband said she was shot at a rally where a suicide bomber detonated, killing several of her supporters.

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 27, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

This is going to be major, major trouble, Scotty. And as bad as it is, I doubt anyone can say they are surprised in the slightest.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 27, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Breaking news on major TV networks: Benazir Bhutto assassinated in Ralwapindi, Pakistan. Forget the barley.

Posted by: Loomis | December 27, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

dammit, indeed

Subdued morning greetings boodle.

From all accounts Bhutto's regime was as corrupt as they get, and her personal wealth was built on that corruption, but it took great physical courage for her to go back to Pakistan. I will now go ride the Pinellas Trail with Mr. F and contemplate how important physical courage is in a presidential candidate. (Seems like McCain rises to the top there, too bad I disagree with him on almost everything but torture and immigration.)

Posted by: frostbitten | December 27, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

The worldwide shortage of barley and hops is affecting beer prices. Since I am not an avid beer drinker this has little effect on me, but others may be more concerned.

The Christmas bills are beginning to roll in and I am loathe to open them. Past experience suggests that that doesn't make them go away.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

No, 'Mudge, not any kind of surprise at all, unfortunately... *SIGHHHH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 27, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

In case you missed this important news regarding Pakistan on Christmas Eve:

U.S. Officials See Waste in Billions Sent to Pakistan

Published: December 24, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- After the United States has spent more than $5 billion in a largely failed effort to bolster the Pakistani military effort against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, some American officials now acknowledge that there were too few controls over the money. The strategy to improve the Pakistani military, they said, needs to be completely revamped.

In interviews in Islamabad and Washington, Bush administration and military officials said they believed that much of the American money was not making its way to frontline Pakistani units. **Money has been diverted to help finance weapons systems designed to counter India**, not Al Qaeda or the Taliban, the officials said, adding that the United States has paid tens of millions of dollars in inflated Pakistani reimbursement claims for fuel, ammunition and other costs. ...

The $5 billion was provided through a program known as Coalition Support Funds, which reimburses Pakistan for conducting military operations to fight terrorism. Under a separate program, Pakistan receives $300 million per year in traditional American military financing that pays for equipment and training.

Posted by: Loomis | December 27, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

yello, according to the Drudge Report (I always like to cite highly reliable news sources), the owner of the Bunny Ranch (ranch of ill repute)(apologies to Padouk and upstanding, morally correct lagomorphs everywhere) AND his girls are all supporting your man Ron Paul. I'm sure the good doctor is thrilled to be getting that all-important hooker demographic.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 27, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

No surprise in BB's assassination, the muslim extremists said they would doit at all cost when she came back.
Barley is an important grain for the English system of measurement. One pound is customary the weight of 7000 barleycorn i.e. 7000 grains. Many definitions of an inch were used, but a most common one was the lenght of 3 barleycorn. So the English system of measurement is based on barley for both mass and distance.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | December 27, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Christmas gifts are the least of it. I am sometimes struck by how much of my income goes for things that, as a single man, I wouldn't much care about. Life insurance immediately comes to mind, followed quickly by customized window blinds and integrated water filters.

Indeed, if it weren't for that whole "family" business I certainly would not be living in a four bedroom house in the suburbs. I would be living in a studio apartment with a massive sound system and an unusually large aquarium. You know, like I was circa 1987. The price of college would be an abstract statistic, like the exchange rate of the Yen.

But I became a family man and sole paycheck provider. I would never imply that I am the only one who works, for my wife has more than a full time job dealing with our demanding offspring, as well as keeping track of those pesky little details like mortgage payments. She is management. I am labor.

And it works pretty well except, now and then, when I am forced to remind all those who live in my household that my job is not just an annoying little hobby. It is the financial underpinning of the luxurious lifestyle, what with *two* televisions and all, to which they have grown accustomed.

Yet, despite the occasional shocking, nay criminal, lack of appreciation for the copious fruits of my labor, I know that on some level they understand the truth. And even if they don't, I do.

So each morning I get up early, take the dog out, feed the bunnies, and slip quietly away. I accept my responsibilities, and take them seriously. Except, now and then, purely to maximize my overall productivity, I indulge in a few, modest, distractions.

Like this.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I survived the 2nd day of Christmas, only 10 more to go! Let me see, *checking calendar for parties and social events*, Hmm..., I'm free tonight, but Friday check, Saturday check, Sunday check, New Years Eve check, and that brings me to, what? a little over half way through?

today sounds like a good day for a diet!

Posted by: Pat | December 27, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Wow, that dirty-word filter is fussy. One little surfer term and the whole thing gets held for review.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

How long until we begin to hear rumors of sending troops to Pakistan? Sniper fire was reported at a rally for a rival politico in Rawahlpindi (sp?).

Congratulations on not calling bunnies rodents, Mr. Erudition Curmudgeon.

Rumor has it that the Giants plan to enhance their chances for victory by using Navajo codetalkers to send in the defensive signals.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 27, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

The apparent murder of Bhutto is, obviously, very bad news. Instability in Pakistan, more than any other country in the region, scares me because of its importance to suppressing the Taliban, its cold war with India, and those pesky, pesky nuclear weapons.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

One of the nicknames for Bhutto was "a kleptocrat in an Hermès scarf." A picture of her in better times here:

Of course, picking the right guy or gal in that region of the world is a troublesome task. Mushy is no winner either.

Posted by: Mo MoDo | December 27, 2007 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Ron Paul has also been photographed in the company of known white supremacists. On Meet The Press he suggested that a more market based approach in the 1800s would have eliminated the need for that pesky campaign of Northern Aggression. How he mentally reconciles the implicit federal interference that would have been required with his state rights views was left to the imagination of the viewer.

Ron Paul has won the endorsement of Andrew Sullivan and is occasionally championed by George Will, both men whose intellectual heft I admire, if not always agree with.

Posted by: Pop Socket | December 27, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

And never mind that funny money stuff, Pop Socket...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 27, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Back to barley: While barley is not one of the explicit topics, the definitive work on cereal grains is THE STAFFS OF LIFE by E. J. Kahn Jr. which ran in multiple parts in the New Yorker in the early 80s. I only read the article on potatoes when it first appeared, but it was quite exhaustive. Its section on the Potato Famine ignited my low-level ire at the genocidal indifference of England to the plight of my ancestors.

The book is out of print and the HoCo library does not have a copy, but the NYT review is available online:

In some ways the book may be a precursor to our current boodle-fueled obsession with the food chain.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

In "Mushroom", a book I haven't gotten around to re-reading lately, one of the lighter sub-plots is the Keystone Kops attempts by Pakistani "intelligence" agents to steal nuclear secrets. If an entire nation can be said to suffer from a Napoleon Complex, Pakistan is it. And we know how dangerous Napoleon turned out.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Oh come now, I'm sure that nice Dr. Paul was just helping the white supremacists get a better deal on some "Made in U.S.A." bed sheets! After all, can a man who wants to do away with the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Federal Reserve Board be all bad?

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 27, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm writing a piece that touches on parallels between 1968 and 2008 and what happened in pakistan is a tragic echo.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 27, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

A burst of spending, here. Even a (relatively cheap)HD DVD player, plus a couple of disks to see if it works. Then there were the bathrooms' cheap recessed-in-the-wall medicine cabinets. I don't think anyone installs them in new houses any more, but one of the big hardware stores was selling nice stainless steel ones, so handsome that maybe I can put off replacing sinks and wallpaper for another half-decade.

Bhutto knew the risks, and I have to admire her for not fleeing Pakistan after the bus bombing. India survived a number of assassinations, but I wonder about Pakistan.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 27, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

1968? I'm reminded of "MacBird!", a 1967 play.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 27, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

surfs up
hang ten
long board
wipe out

Just testing. Am I getting warm, RD?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

In 1968, "Oliver!" won the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director, beating out "The Lion in Winter" Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet" and "2001 A Space Odyssey" (which was not even nominated for Best Picture). These events, linked with the election of Richard Nixon marked a sharp downturn in the ongoing decline of civilization.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 27, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Saw the film Charlie Wilson's war last Friday, the day it opened. This snippet of a review, from a longer piece by Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, appeared in our local paper last Friday morning:

Why isn't this topical comedy more compelling? Tom Hanks plays Texas congressman Charlie Wilson, backer of the 1989 covert war in Afghanistan; the resemblance to America's current foreign-policy entanglements is soft peddled.

Hre's Michael's full review (and some excerpts, below) and worth a read if you head to see the movie:,0,767009.story

A member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Rep. Wilson strong-armed expenditure increases to aid the Afghan rebels. After the end, the film says in its one edgy and complicated stance, the U.S. underfunded the peacetime, paving the way for the rise of the Taliban. And look where we are now.
...When he's [Hoffman's] off the screen, the film settles back into its brisk but shallow business. It is well made as far as it goes. I wish it went beyond its own carefully prescribed limits of the commercially acceptable.

I can't help but think of Crile's 2003 book and the part San Antonio played, not only in the covert ops, but also in Wilson's psyche:

p. 15:
The CIA's time-honored practice was never to introduce into a conflict weapons that could be traced back to the United States. And so the spy aency's first shipment to the scattered Afghan rebels--enough small arms and ammunition to eqip a thousand men--consisted of weapons made by the Soviets themselves that had been stockpiled by the CIA for just such a moment. Within days of the invasion, containers from a secretive San Antonio facility were flown to Islamabad, Pakistan, where they were turned over to President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq's intelligence service for distribution to the Afghan rebels.

p. 19:
What caught Wilson's attention, however, was the reporter's conclusion that the Afghan warriors were refusing to quit. ... Against all odds, there was a growing rebellion under way against the Red Army.

As he read the dispatch, Wilson found himself thinking of the Alamo and the letter Colonel Travis wrote to the people of Texas just before Santa Anna attacked: "The enemy has demanded surrender. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot. I shall never surrender or retreat."

The Texas congressman had first gone to the Alamo when he was six years old. He had been there many times since, and each time it had left him teary. Most American's can't understand what the Alamo means to Texans. It's like Masada to the Israelis. It sums up what it means to be a man, what it means to be a patriot, whant it means to be a Texan. Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, and all who stayed with Travis that day paid the ultimate price, but they had bought time for Sam Houston to mobilize the Texas army to defeat Santa Anna. This is what brave men did: win time for others to do the right thing.

Did anyone who has seen the movie" Charlie Wilson's War" come out of the theater and wonder if Wilson should be portrayed as a hero (as director Mike Nichols would have us believe) or as a villain? I do not understand the Golden Globe's decision to place this movie in the comedy category, describing the film as political satire, since Crile's book is nonfiction.

Posted by: Loomis | December 27, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Part of the message of CWW, in a trademarked Sorkin hit you over the head metaphor, is that the consequences of actions are not always immediately apparent.

And if you don't think it's a comedy, you aren't getting the jokes, as dark as they are. My wife normally eschews any movie described as a dark comedy, but the star power and good reviews overcame her inhibitions. Since much of the movie focuses on the funneling of arms through Pakistan, current events can't hurt traffic if you can market the connection tastefully. Which I doubt you can.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Didn't really mean to kill the Boodle. I'll let it sleep.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

A friend of mine pointed out something about the video from Pakistan: There is little hint of police presence or anything like authorities taking control of the crime scene.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 27, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Amazon shows some used copies of "The Staffs of Life" available. I haven't checked abebooks to see how many copies they show.

1968 was a horrible year with LBJ deciding not to run then King's assassination and the riots that followed and then Kennedy's assassination then the disaster of Chicago and the rise of George Wallace and ultimately Nixon's election. That year was an awful mess. I will be intrigued to read what comparisons between it and now that Joel finds.

Posted by: pj | December 27, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, friends. Well, nothing much changes in this world, does it? Men still kill women, and especially those that have the nerve to talk, and God forbid, act on that talk. I suspect, the President of Pakistan, will be the next President of Pakistan, you think?

I just keep thinking that after giving birth to the male species of this world, women would get just a tad more respect. Wishful thinking?

I hope someone can get some control of the situation in that country. Don't these folks have nukes?

I had a date with the laundry room this morning. So many clothes, and there were other ladies there too.

Everyone is gone. The daughter, the g-girl, I'm here alone. So quiet, so very quiet. I will study and read. It is cloudy and cold outside. I think we're going to get some more rain. God is good.

Scotty, Mudge, Slyness, Martooni, and all, a good day to you.*waving* Martooni, I hope you're feeling better. And you too, Wilbrod.

Have a great day, folks. The news about the asassination(?) have dampen my spirits some. I'm not familiar with the politics of the former prime minister. We just never get enough of killing. The grave never says, enough.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 27, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Joel this blog is funny as hell. I know the thread has turned to other topics (already!) but I just wanted to throw that in.

Joel always writes incredibly funny holiday columns for some reason. He wrote one a few Thanksgivings ago that was also hilarious; I remember the LA Times picked it up and ran it here in Cali cause it was so slammin.

Posted by: Sirin | December 27, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

ok - i've clearly had my head in the sand - someone please explain to me why bhutto's assisination is going to cause so much trouble?

Posted by: mo | December 27, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Thinking about 1968 and the Bhutto assassination made me (natch) think of the wonderful French film "Z" which may have been made in '68 (or maybe '69) about politics and a military junta in Greece, the assassination of a popular democratic figure, the coverup of government involvement, the courageous prosecutor, etc. Although Bhutto was not by all accounts quite so heroic as the fictional character played by Yves Montand in the film, the parallels are still striking. I'm sure that this recent trouble can and will be dealt with by Mussharef with a couple of decades of martial law and suspended elections "until calm is restored."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 27, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

To the real mo,

Bhutto was a political rival to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf who recently declared martial law. He is supposed to be our ally in the the War on Terra, but is suspected of cutting deals with Islamic fundamentalists hiding in the Afghani border, where Osama Bin Laden may still be.

The elimination of Bhutto gives Mushy a stronger hand. If the assassination of Bhutto was done by fundamentalists, it would be a warning to others that oppose them. And some say it's unlikely such a plot could succeed without the implicit approval of the Pakistani intelligence agency which is accused of skimming aid meant for anti-terrorist operations.

We recently resumed sales of F-16 fighters and other advanced weaponry despite Pakistan's non-compliance with nuclear non-proliferation treaties. Their top nuclear scientist had ties to all the other baddies we don't want having nukes.

The situation in Pakistan is unstable and only time will tell if control by a military dictator or a fundamentalist revolution would be worse for us and/or the rest of the world.

Posted by: Mo MoDo | December 27, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Bhutto's assassination is a big deal for the rest of us who are not related to her, because she was apparently the only person with enough popular support (and the ability to physically enter the country) to pose a stumbling block for Musharraf. Now, we are more than ever stuck by the Bush administration with placing the future of our nation in the hands of a foreign dictator. Musharraf is our man on the Indian sub-continent. We have made ourselves dependent on him in our efforts to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda. Bhutto could have hindered him, or maybe even eliminated him (politically) if she had garnered enough popular support. That could have given us the wiggle room to disengage so deeply from Pakistan. Instead, we are right in there with Musharraf, forced to claim that this SOB is one of our great friends in the struggle to achieve universal democracy (but not One World Government -- that would be so wrong!).

Posted by: Tim | December 27, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

oh ok!!! i get it now! thanks for the explanation... sheesh! just when you thought it couldn't get any worse!

Posted by: mo | December 27, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

i'm sorry to be so dunce! but i work in the gubmint and i'm surrounded by so much foreign policy ramblings that after a while it sounds like "mwha ma wa ma wa" and i end up ignoring everything else...

Posted by: mo | December 27, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I think you are not correct to view this as an example of thinking it's OK or necessary to put down a woman who speaks up. Last I checked, religious zealots and suicide bombers appeared to be content with murdering anyone nearby that they could cozy up to, regardless of age or gender.

If anything, you could view this awful crime as a backhanded compliment -- recognition that a "mere woman" has sufficient political power and prowess that she cannot be ignored but must be "dealt with" (like Indira Ghandi). So, take heart! Women have gained sufficient respect that the world's homicidal loonies are now ready to assassinate individual women to further a political agenda. You're not just a statistic any more. You're a target.

Posted by: Tim | December 27, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

sirin - I agree. Joel does have a special knack for the holiday kit. I suspect this is due to the endorphin rush that comes from speaking the word "Spatchcock."

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Bhutto was no saint. Gender aside, she followed the typical strongman paradigm where personal authority is more important than the rule of law. She survived largely because of her strategically-dispensed largess and her family name. Remember, corruption drove her out of the country.

Still, in a nation in which the military is pretty much the only stable institution, her cult of personality certainly served as a counterweight to military rule. My worry, of course, is that now that the hope many embodied in her is gone, riots and other nastiness will occur. This would be bad.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Stumbling slightly on-topic, the grain (as in barley grain) is still in use as a measurement of specific humidity. Moisture in the air is measured in grains of water per pound of dry air and is commonly shortened to "grains of water" or just "grains". I have been using that unit for a quarter century and never knew its origin. You learn something everyday. Thanks, sd.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Hi Sirin! Glad to see you back so quickly. You've usually been a hit-and-run boodler. Did you finish your cookietown yet?

Today is Son of G's 19th birthday. Sigh. If I could have known, 19 years ago, that I would have such a son, friend, companion, debater, resident comic, etc... Well... actually I did hope I would!

Cassandra, I think of you today, how you lost your son, and hold him a little bit tighter. We had a nice breakfast out together just Mom and Boy. Can't take him out to dinner tonight as Girlfriend arrives on the train this evening and she will be the one celebrating with him over a fancy Greek restaurant dinner. Sigh.

He's so happy about that, he's over the moon. I love seeing him that way.


Posted by: TBG | December 27, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse


Many happy returns for Son of G (and many more Mom/Boy breakfast/lunch/dinners)!!!



Posted by: Scottynuke | December 27, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking more it leads to us having to support a thuggish bully that when overthrown causes us more grief then than it would to cut him loose now, e.g., Shah of Iran. Or Saud Royal family.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday to SoG. He's still never told me who he is on Wonkette. I'm so nosy.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday wishes to SonofG.

Posted by: dmd | December 27, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday, Son of G!

mo, did you get my email? If not, email me at scomstoc at nwlink dot com. If you have time - TIA.

I think it's hard to know how much more corrupt Bhutto's regime was versus any other Pakistani regime. The fact that she was willing to go back when she knew her life was in danger is impressive - especially when her father and brothers had been killed, and her mother and she had been jailed. Seems like assassination rarely leads to better outcomes.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 27, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

yello - you are right that our only realistic option is to support Musharaff while simultaneously working to engage him. But I don't think we had any other real options to begin with.

The administration seems to have been *very* careful about not actively supporting Bhutto so as to avoid putting Musharaff in a corner. I don't see Bhutto's death really changing our policy much. I suspect that the US will work hard to engage whomever is in power.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I am always torn by events in Pakistan, and the military's role. The Pakistani military as a whole is "professional" in that the leadership is often trained in the West and is the most deeply secular institution in the country. They just can't seem to get through that sticky wicket of civilian leadership, which is essential in the US ideal of citizen soldier and the American warrior ethos.

My views, when expressed in the presence of Pakistani officers of Mr. F's acquaintance leads to lively discussion of whether or not there is a universal standard of soldiering. Rommel is often noted as a general whose values conformed to what Americans consider the great value of a-political military leadership and that is part of what Churchill and others saw as greatness even though he was an enemy. However, a Pakistani General might argue that had Rommel been more political a great tragedy could have been averted. Watching what happens when armed religious factions get hopping makes one wonder if it isn't in our best interest for Pakistan's military to continue to hold sway. Not that Pakistan should be worrying too much about what is in our best interst, I'm just saying.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 27, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

frostbitten - that was a very insightful comment. Thanks!

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

TBG - say Happy Birthday to your son for me!

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Much of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has strong fundamentalist ties and is considered by some to be one of the enablers of the 9/11 attacks. It's a rather flea-bitten bed we have chosen to lie in over there.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Here at Chez Frostbitten our money is on the ISI being behind Bhutto's death. The military doesn't control the ISI though, and it is our own fault we must lie with fleas. We backed off from supporting the military once it was clear Pakistan would match India in nuclear status but turned a blind eye to the ISI's ties with fundamentalist terrorism and ceded to their demands that arms to the Mujahedin in Afghanistan be funneled through their hands.

RD-thanks, I'm blushing.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 27, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Frosty, I'm not sure if Rommel had been more "political" earlier in his career he'd have made any difference to anything. But toward the end, he did get political insofar as he became one of the leaders of the plot to kill Hitler. When the bomb failed to kill Hitler, it cost Rommel his life. [The evidence on whether Rommel was actually involved is unclear, and there are also two versions of the story of his execution.] So if he was political, it cost him his life. If he was innocent of the plot -- apolitical, as it were -- then it still cost him his life.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 27, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Let the conspiracy theories begin!

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

SonofG, I know you're lurking here, Happy Birthday, young man!

I suspect that Bhutto's assasination - like JFKs - may have several layers of complicty between groups or factions who normally do not play well together. I'd expect that al Quaida is probably behind this in the overall scheme of things (and almost certainly the suicide bombing), but I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone suggested that the low level of crowd security was not an oversight by Musharraf's government, and that some of the resources - possibly even the marksmen pulling the triggers on those terrible rifles - had some ties to a government in the region, possibly even Pakistan's.

For those that wonder what the significance of Bhutto's assasination is, I would answer that even though Bobby Kennedy was never President of the US, his death certainly changed the course of US history.

Not that I'm suggesting Bhutto was Pakistan's Bobby Kennedy, but she was a candle of hope to a lot of people in that country. And a distict threat to those in power in that country, some of whom are in the government, some who are most certainly not.

Now, the big questions are how Musharraf handles the civil unrest and what the Bush Administration (ahem, *Cheney*) is going to do about the situtation as it unfolds.

American military force may *not* be an option in a situation of significant civil unrest and bad guys on the loose *in a country that we KNOW has WMDs*.



Posted by: bc | December 27, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

The situation in Pakistan casts a dark shadow over Christmas for me (understatement, I am sure).

One sad reality that the end of the Cold War teaches us is that authoritarianism can hold back nasty, brutish religious-ethnic-tribal forces.

If Joan Didion quoted W.B. Yeats about "slouching toward Bethlehem" I want to tweak that into "sliding toward Bedlam."


The discussion of barley leads me to a spirits note and a person history note:

Barley is the classic grain in the malt that gives us "uisce beatha," which translates as "water of life" and give us that word "whiskey."

Generations of McQ....ancestors grew barley for both Bushmills and Jamesons. The relatives sold the crop according to religious allegiance. They drank brands thusly aligned, also.

That the situation in Northern Ireland is better is hope for the world. However, it took so d&^%$%$ed long, that I fear what can happen while we wait for some corners of the world to work out their tribal excesses.

Posted by: College Parkian | December 27, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse


My paranoia makes me type too slow.

I was hoping to get "First," on the Illuminati/Oliver Stone-esque conspiracy theory post.


Posted by: bc | December 27, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Mudge-true about Rommel's life and end, but my point is less about Rommel than it is about the view of current Pakistani officers about what constitutes the "professional" way for the military/politics/government leadership to intersect.

We need to be careful about two things I have little hope this administration can handle- 1. abandoning our values, who we are, in search of stability and 2. foresaking stability because another country's values, who they are, does not conform entirely with ours (or our self interest).

Posted by: frostbitten | December 27, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Here's a barley salad I highly recommend:

I use it more as a suggestion than gospel. Adjust to taste.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 27, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I am sure that whatever Trilateral Commission/Muslim Brotherhood/Elders of Zion spin you could come up with is a pale shadow of the Real Story.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Tim and others: I'm doing a little backboodling here, and feel compelled to mention that some could argue that the US deals with countries that have nuclear weapons or other WMD capabilities somewhat differently than those we think are developing them.

Please see North Korea, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq for examples.

A thought: Is the Nuclear Club a global Old-Boys (in a manner of speaking) club?
[or is that a Cold-Boys Club?]


Posted by: bc | December 27, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Hi all! I was going to post a frivolous item earlier, but then saw the news about Bhutto and lost all my silliness, along with all the air that was in my lungs at the time.

Sorry to have missed all the holiday cheer. It's so hard to boodle when your only computer is in the guest bedroom that is occupied by said guest.

Although I am happy to report that Raysdad and my brother were able to set up the new television and remote speakers without assistance of a teenager (or the instructions, it would seem). Through a local charitable organization we've found someone who can use the old one, too.

Happy B-day to Son of G and hello to Sirin--thanks for the pictures of the holiday village.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 27, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

The comments on the main WaPo article about the assassination are about what you'd expect...

Heavy on the mud, very light on actual thought.


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 27, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

TBG - HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BDAY TO son of g!!!! (please give him a big bear hug for me - tell him he's my fav guy under 25 and over 5!! *snicker*) (and a very happy belated bday to you tbg!)

mostly - i got your email - i'll respond shorty!

Posted by: mo | December 27, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

It is my assertion that the likelihood of a conspiracy theory is in inverse proportion to its complexity.

(Of course, that's what they want us to believe.)

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

In just days before a tightly contested election, the popular but controversial female politician known for her strong family ties to a previous leader is senselessly assassinated. The incumbent leader, her major political rival, declares martial law and vows not to leave office until order and stability are restored.

Pakistan could just be a dress rehearsal for October Surprise 2008.

Story concept ©2007 by yellojkt.
Screenwriter Guild registration pending.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I really don't think Musharraf is cheering about this turn of events. If anything, the chaos this murder might prompt puts him in a far more vulnerable position than he was before.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

You better vanish, fast, yello. I hear the faint sound of the black helicopters aproaching.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 27, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

thup thup thup thup thup thup thup thup thup thup thup thup thup thup thup thup thup thup Thup Thup Thup Thup Thup Thup Thup Thup Thup Thup Thup Thup Thup Thup THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP THUP

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 27, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh, my, yellojkt. Good thing Mr Ml doesn't read the Boodle.

mo, who you calling "shorty"? Harumph - hahaha!

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 27, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

yello - you just made the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up!

Posted by: mo | December 27, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

oops! that was an scc - i meant shortly - the fsm knows i can't call ANYONE shorty - i think the only one shorter than me is wilbrod and we all know she's a gnome!

Posted by: mo | December 27, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I want to cast Will Smith as the Vice Presidential candidate that smells a rat and Alan Rickman as the mysterious agent that knows more than anyone else. Helen Mirren gets to play the doomed candidate, and there's a role for Angelina Jolie that I haven't outlined yet, but it will require a lot of private rehearsal time.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I have no doubt that the Reel Story will involve the Bavarian Illuminati, Microsoft, and the Q.

Obviously, a Paramount Production.


Posted by: bc | December 27, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Tim, you are probably correct in that assessment, but this woman was more than likely seen as a huge threat to not only the present leader, but many of those that still believe women should be seen, not heard. I'm sure there are more complicated issues surrounding the death of the former prime minister, but when all things are uncovered it still boils down to what it boils down to, as in who pulled the trigger. And that's not to make it simplistic or any of that, but her death does put the present administration where it wanted to be, in office and there for awhile, don't you think? There have always been bright and intelligent women in the world, and there will continue to be, regardless of the treatment.

TBG, please give son of G my happy birthday wishes for him, and a great evening with his girlfriend. I'm so happy for you, and the wonderful relationship you and your son share. And yes, I miss my son, and think about him everyday. I often think back on the conversations we shared and the things we laughed at together.

JA, the kit is delightful and funny. I'm always in awe how you do that. You make it seem so easy.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 27, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Yello, I recommend that you cast our own Mo as the femme fatale. She's so hot, she'll melt the silver screen.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 27, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

mo as the mysterious woman in black that always seems to be in the wrong place at the right time. I like it. We can make TBG a reporter that stumbles on the truth only to have her life threatened. 'Mudge is her cynical world weary Germondesque managing editor that has seen it all. bc will be the commandeered taxi driver that leads our hero to safety in the signature car chase set piece.

Raysmom is the senior campaign official that gets to say "Stay out of this, it goes higher than you realize." Tim can be the exposition expert that gives the hero the clue that lets him fit the whole conspiracy together. RD will have to remain an uncredited technical adviser.

Anyone else can feel free to cast themselves in whatever role they want.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I gladly accept "Germondesque," along with "LouGrantesque." MickeyRooneyesque, not so much. Not at all, in fact.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 27, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I assume that AndyRooneyesque is also off the table.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I will both fly helicopters on screen and serve as technical advisor for all "black" ops. Also, I'll be the official uniform and salute nitpicker for any military personnel portrayed.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 27, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I'll be the goofy sidekick who hugs his way out of yet another sticky situation.


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 27, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

don from i-270 - you just made my millennium!

Posted by: mo | December 27, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I'll take the role of senior advisor to Raysmom, the person TBG and Mudge call when they want to know the real scoop on what's happening.

Posted by: Slyness | December 27, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Someone stick a bucket under Mudge. He seems to be leaking.

Posted by: b9 | December 27, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I love it, yello.... of course in the end... hilarity ensues... we can only hope.

I just hope we can film on location... in Mianus, of course.

Posted by: TBG | December 27, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Perfect, Slyness! Everyone knows that the senior advisor is the real power center. The campaign advisor is a mere figurehead, a position I aspire to.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 27, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Who gets to play the Wilford Brimley character, saying "I got me a pocketful of supeenies here?"

And we a need a heroine who stands there squealing in horror when good guy and bad guy come to fisticuffs.

Posted by: Raysmom | December 27, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, I know it's fun, but if Musharraf really intended to use this as an excuse to put a loyal soldier on every street corner, he would have done so by now.

Ignatius has a nicely nuanced piece on Bhutto.

Back in the real world, tonight I get to attend an overnight "sleep study" with my daughter. What fun. But without it how will she ever pass her sleep test?

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Wilford Brimley and I are like, twins.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 27, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

It's when you don't hear the helicopter blades that you have to worry. Gotta go pick up more tin foil on my way home.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Cassandra! And Sirin too...

An editor told me today about Bhutto coming to the Post about 15 years ago to meet with the editorial board. Said she was just strikingly beautiful and smart and had this exquisite British accent. The editor was quite shaken by what happened today. I am eager to read the analysis and see the TV coverage tonight. The footage today of the casket being carried from the hospital was pretty amazing (reminiscent of Khomeini funeral in Iraq).

I have to mention one more thing about my Mom. I told her to try to fly standby on an early flight to Jacksonville, a non-stop. She and my step-dad wound up spending the entire day yesterday in National airport and only got out on their originally booked flight and wound up back in Hogtown at a quarter to 2 in the morning. So by any objective measure it was a horrendous travel day. This is what my Mom told me on the phone: "It was wonderful. We did lots of people watching. I ate a baked potato, and read an entire issue of The Economist. And we were together so it was just fine."

I would have made a CAREER of complaining about that travel day.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 27, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

"And we were together so it was just fine." Joel, I know exactly what your mother is talking about. I love being an old married person.

Posted by: CowTown | December 27, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Joel.. your mom sounds like the fine lady I've always assumed she is. Thanks for sharing her sunny outlook with us, even if you don't share it with her.

I realize today how little I watch TV news. If I'm going to watch video, I'll see it online in bits and pieces. The all-[fill in the blank]-all-the-time coverage these days has led me away from TV news and deeper and deeper into my Now Playing list on the Tivo.

Posted by: TBG | December 27, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

And may I add that since we are rarely home with the TV off, it seems advertisers are really losing out by turning us off.

Posted by: TBG | December 27, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

I stand by my spatchcock-induced euphoria theory for your high-quality holiday kits.

Joel, not for the first time I am impressed by what a strong and delightful woman your mother must be.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

that musta been one GREAT baked potato!

Posted by: mo | December 27, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

You can fly standby these days? Who knew?

Great story, Joel. It explains why you are the way you are.

Posted by: Slyness | December 27, 2007 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Before I forget, happy 19th to SonofG! He's a great guy, and I hope he and the gf have a lovely dinner.

I've been thinking, this week, about the community we have here. Remember a couple of Christmases ago, when the blog went dark for the entire week of Christmas? And nobody really fussed about that? I'll bet it didn't enter Joel's mind to turn out the lights this year. Too much going on, too many people to talk to. I love it.

Posted by: Slyness | December 27, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Joel, thanks for sharing that story about your Mom, it be nice if there were a lot more people in the world with such a positive attitude.

Posted by: dmd | December 27, 2007 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Going back to watch Harry Potter, The Goblet of Fire before I commit any more typos. (Scary parts are over now - I am such a wimp - the 7 year old did not budge from the TV!)

Posted by: dmd | December 27, 2007 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Back to work today to find major computer problems, the darn machine forgot me. Tech services spent most of the day finding my email, reconnecting the various printers I use and generally making sure I could function. Still have to recreate a few shortcuts and all of my bookmarks for the web.

Happy Birthday to son of G. Joel, I concur with others regarding your mom. She is one heck of a lady to have such a sunny attitude during that airport incarceration.

To be sort of on topic for a moment, because I did my shopping early, I got my bills early. Last weekend I paid all my Christmas bills, left me broke but happy to have it behind me.

Slyness, I wasn't around here two years ago but I can agree that it was nice to see what everyone was up to over the past week and to be able to join in on occasion.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 27, 2007 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Off to the sleep center. It will be just me. My daughter. And a bunch of medical technicians. It'll be just like a Pajama Party!

Maybe we can do each other's hair.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 27, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Me too, Sneaks, I hate to have Christmas bills after the holiday, so I try to get it all bought and paid for beforehand. I'm still waiting for the broken cup from the set of china I bought for my older daughter to be replaced. I made that order in September.

Posted by: Slyness | December 27, 2007 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely no time to back-boodle, but I wanted to of my thoughts when I saw the headlines (out of the loop today, changing locals) was "Obama just lost." In the footnotes of the history books, it'll be a matter of circumstance.

But I'm cynical about campaigns and elections.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 27, 2007 7:45 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't put too much effort in doing her hair, Padouk; they're going to wire her head up like Medusa (in a painless sort of way, of course). But you'd look good in a Prince Valiant, or maybe a Billie Ray Cyrus mullet, with a bit of Fade going on, on the side. Or the T-Shane blue spiked look.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 27, 2007 7:50 PM | Report abuse

My own Mom has become an avid Economist reader.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 27, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

LiT... please explain if you can.

Posted by: TBG | December 27, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Biscuit time, TBG! We should be in Chapel Hill...

Posted by: Slyness | December 27, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, since he was promised boodling for christmas... how could he go dark?

Joel, sounds like a fine story you're working on. I can see why you chose to kit in order to ehrm delay writing the tough parts.

With some deadlines, it's hard to control the urge not to learn Sanskrit, take the dog on a 10-mile jog, consume 15,000 calories, write the outline for your next novel... before you do the actual assignment. That's what I call frenzied guilt. You can't be relaxing and not working on it, but you can't just slack off either because you are on the clock.

Barley is a good word. It's slightly funny. There have been early Mesopotamian goddess statues with heads of barleycorn.

And I happen to know some barley trivia: barley is one of the earliest domesticated grains, originating in the fertile crescent. It was a favorite food of the gladiators in Rome.

And from Europe to East Asia, and onwards through Canada, wherever barley was grown, barley coffee/tea was also popular. The correct term would be tisane (water-based solution), rather than tincture of barley (aka beer).

The barley is roasted and/or ground up before making a tisane of it.

My grandma grew up drinking barley coffee before bed. I originally drank barley tea in a Korean restaurant, though, and a friend's parents drink barley tea by the gallon. In Korea they even have barley soda.

Barley tisanes are still drunk in Italy.

Barley infusions are okay, I like them as a decaf hot drink, but they need to not be overroasted or not properly ground/filtered, otherwise it tastes burnt or can irritate the throat. A touch of chicory probably would make it absolutely dandy.

The british use unroasted barley for barley water. It's even been used as filibuster fuel.

General overview and history of barley:

I grew up with stockyards beef and barley soup.

2 1/2 lb Beef bones
1 gallon water
dash of garlic
1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped barley

Simmer 3 hours, skim and remove meat from bones. Set meat aside.

Add 16 oz chopped tomatoes.

In 1/4 cup of melted oleo (or oil), saute 7 minutes the following:

3/4 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup or more diced potatoes
1/2 cup finely cut cabbage
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup sliced green beans.

Add to soup and simmer 20 minutes. Add 5-8 oz corn, 1/2 cup finely cut spinach, meat. Simmer 10 minutes.

(Taken from my mom's recipe files).

I have not actually made this, so I can't say if my mom wrote it correctly. It is difficult to get beef bones here, so I'm unlikely to make it anytime soon.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 27, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Joel, that was a great story about your mom. My parents were the same way,they would go anywhere and make a Great day out of doing absolutely nothing. People watching I think is a lost art of our generation. We have too many Ipods,Iphones and just too many electronic gadgets to keep our eyes and ears busy. Just to sit back and take in the simple pleasure of watching people go about their everyday lives is really fun. Heck half the fun of going to any live sporting event is to watch all the people.

I do that a lot up here in west by god, but I am usually watching nature and animals in their natural setting.

Maybe we should all do that, turn off the Iphone and just watch the world go by.Get back to the simple little pleasures in life.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | December 27, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Slyness... YES! Go 'heels!

And Len Elmore actually said, after hearing the crowd at the Dean Dome yelling "We want biscuits!," "It seems like they must have some sort of promotion here for free fish sticks."

We have a happy Mr. G in the house tonight now, too. All in all, a good day today for the G family.

Posted by: TBG | December 27, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Yes! Simple little pleasures like playing with dogs!

I'm now fielding applications for playdates, just check this site out:

Spider Dog has an awesome name, doesn't he?

Posted by: Wilbrodog | December 27, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

The best thing that happened to barley was the discovery by the Scotts.

It's been snowing here since the 24th but been warm so the accumulation never gets more than a half inch. We have been feeding the quail and lots and lots of birds. Bird seed has been costing more than Scotch.

Pakaistan is a worrying situation. But at 70, I only worry for the future generations. The statements by our quarling nomines don't give the future much hope.

SCC on the spelling in advance.

Time to go get some red wine and some of my old fashion potato, bacon and onion soup that has been simmering since 2 PM PST.

Posted by: bh | December 27, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Quails being fed scotch instead of birdseed to save on cost, hmmm...

Looks like bh could wind up eating some quail on top of drunken noodles very quickly.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 27, 2007 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday to Son of G! In 20 years you will catch up to your mom.

With all this talk about barley, I'll now go back to hearing Traffic's version of "John Barleycorn Must Die" in my head.

Posted by: pj | December 27, 2007 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Would you consider playing with me? I am orange and white and love to eat,sleep and and have my human rub my chin till I fall asleep. You know the simple pleasures in life are the best ones.

Do you play with cats? Or just terrorize them?

Posted by: The Professor | December 27, 2007 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Mmmm, bh, sounds yummy. Can you share the recipe? We do that so well here.

Mudge, did I tell you I made your vegetable soup last week? We had it for Christmas Eve dinner and several other times. There's still a couple of containers for lunch. I've tried and tried but hadn't succeeded with veggie soup till yours. It went over well with the family, too.

Posted by: Slyness | December 27, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to mention that we saw "Sweeney Todd" last night. If you like Tim Burton, you'll like the movie. Very darkly shot, lots of blood, a bit of humor here and there. Not a great movie, but not bad. Of course I love Johnny Depp so I'm prejudiced.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | December 27, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Hi TBG...I'm just arriving, unpacking, etc.
Such a shock to crank up the computer and see the headlines. I don't have much time right now, but the upshot of my thoughts is that the current administration has plenty of time to take yet another international crisis to new levels of horrific. International experience will become the watch phrase, and Obama's lack thereof is woeful compared to some of the other candidates. I suspect insurmountable.
Which would be a shame...putting aside all the international implications, this country was primed to take on some of it's own dirty secrets in the next election. Maybe we will get some of it cleaned and pressed, and maybe the chance to take care of more will come again soon.

Posted by: LostInThought | December 27, 2007 9:45 PM | Report abuse

If Death is the final dignity, then doggie diapers is the secong-to-the-last-one.

Phineas, who is a 13-year-old- plus Westie, was put into a doggie diaper today. It just depressed the hell out of him. He went into a 'how-in-hell-can-you expect-me-to-walk-with this-thing-on me?, and limped to his doggie bed where he stayed for about 3 hours. I took the diaper off so that he could go outside to pee, and it was completely dry. And this was after 4 'accidents' today. He is suffering from a bladder tumor, and the doctor said that he'd live about 3-6 months, about 9 months ago.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | December 27, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I like Tim Burton movies and Johnny Depp, so Sweeney Todd is on my list of movies to see - when it's not threatening to snow.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 27, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

LostinThought... thanks for clarifying. It's a shame that lack of foreign policy experience can kill a campaign... just look at where all of the Bush admin's foreign policy experience has gotten us.

Hope all is well and that you're finding everything in order. I also hope you're settled in long enough to be able to spend some quality boodling time.

Posted by: TBG | December 27, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Of course I meant "indignity". When will I ever learn to "preview?"

Posted by: Maggie O'D | December 27, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm now watching tonight's rerun of 30 Rock (my new favorite TV show) and after this hilarious exchange between Jack Gonaghy (Alec Baldwin) and Devon Banks (Will Arnett)...

Devon: You familiar with the Church of Practicology?
Jack: You mean the cult that was invented by Stan Lee?
Devon: No, I mean the religion founded by the alien king living inside Stan Lee.

... I found this great Wikipedia page...

Posted by: TBG | December 27, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Joel, don't hold back on the Mom stories, and please pass on whatever wisdom you can, too, heaven knows we need it.

That barley tip is actually pretty valuable.

I read this to my daughter, with emphasis on that line "Are you performing a parody of yourself?" That is a great line, very funny and she and I both could imagine saying it to each other.

So then, I said to her, Are you always just yourself, or are you sometimes expressing the ironic idea of what you suppose other people think you are? And she thought about it and said, yeah, sometimes I'm kind of making fun of myself when I get really extreme.

It's inevitable if you are a strong and original personality, and in addition if you are self-aware, you can't help getting into feedback loops sometimes.

It's a blessing if someone can be unselfconscious while being different from everybody else--very rare, too.

Posted by: kbertocci | December 27, 2007 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Kurt Vonnegut is responsible for three of the fictitious religions. As a practicing Bokononist, I am also familiar with the Church of God The Utterly Indifferent. I haven't read Slapstick in a long time, so I had forgotten about the Church of Jesus Christ the Kidnapped. I may have to brush up.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 27, 2007 11:03 PM | Report abuse

The Professor, I've never had a cat want to play with me. How does that work? I'm told I can't chase cats, and I'm not keen on getting my nose scratched for fun.

For my feline references see this picture:

Posted by: Wilbrodog | December 27, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Glad you liked the soup, Slyness. Since explaining that you got the recipe from an imaginary curmudgeon might not go over too well, or require much too much explanation, feel free to go ahead and tell people you made it up yourself, or it's an old family recipe, or whatever.

'Night, Boodle.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 27, 2007 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Wow Wilbrodog you are a big fellow, but quite handsome. I have a big black dog that chases me under the porch, that is till I nipped his nose. He doesn't chase me anymore. I am sure we could be buddies,
all I have to play with are birds,chipmunks and lizards and they are all quite delicious too.

Posted by: The Professor | December 27, 2007 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey Professor! I don't much like to run around and play anymore, but we can sit at the back porch door and watch the birds, chipmunks and lizards. Or sit on the couch and watch some TV. The bigs ones here seem to like it.

Posted by: TBG's Molly | December 27, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Hey Molly,your even more handsome then Wilbrodog!! let's make it a date, that is after I get a little nap.

Posted by: The professor | December 28, 2007 12:04 AM | Report abuse

pj, here is some barleycorn for your ears, it is excellent

One of my favorite albums

Posted by: bill everything | December 28, 2007 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, bill. When pj mentioned that song, I was going to go to youtube to see if it was there, but got distracted.

kb, those are interesting ideas, about being a parody of yourself, and feedback loops. I'll have to watch out for that more. Joel's mom must be a saint. I would go nuts if I had to spend an entire day in the airport - especially if I was with my husband!

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 28, 2007 1:53 AM | Report abuse

I discovered barley?? What??? :-)

Maggie, I'm so sorry about Phineas. I hope he comes to understand the situation soon. *HUGS*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 5:06 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Scotty, Slyness, Mudge, and all. *waving* I'm still alone, and slept so hard. The fingers look like ballons. So stiff. I looked at the news most of yesterday, and the people of Pakistan just really looked sad. I hope things settle down for them.

Joel, your mother sounds like a lovely person. I wish at times I could be that patient and calm.

Remember the letters I wrote to the editor here at my local paper? Well, I tried to shut that down because I felt like some folks were getting too hyped about it. I'm still getting phone calls about the letters, and people are still writing about those letters. Most of the feedback has been good, but I feel funny when people call and want to talk about the letters. I think part of the problem is the hearing impairment, not knowing exactly what is being said, and also accepting compliments. I'm not good at that. I think there is also a bit of anger on both sides, and I just don't want it to get crazy. Talking about race is fine. The scary part is action.

I hope the g-girl is enjoying herself. I miss her. I know she is giving someone a world of trouble. I have yet to talk to my grandsons. I've called, but no one calls back. I will try again today.

I listened to Ron Paul yesterday on CNN, and this guy wants us to play dead, no? He thinks everything should shut down. He's scary to me. I don't believe we should involve ourselves in every battle, but we can't hide our heads in the sand either. And shutting down most of the government isn't helping. In a perfect world his ideas might be valid, but we don't live in a perfect world. During the whole interview, the only time he smiled was when Wolf talked about the money. I guess he doesn't want to get rid of "everything".

Have a great day, folks. The weather here yesterday was beautiful. The sun came out, and it wasn't so cold. Rain in the forecast for today, but that's good.

Hi, Maggie O. I hope things are going well for you. And how are you doing, Pat?

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 28, 2007 5:43 AM | Report abuse

Jeez, Wilbrodog and Professor, will you two please go get a kennel?

Unfortunately, I think everybody needs to read today's lede story on the role the U.S. played in getting Bhutto to go back, and then you have to read David Ignatius's column about her.

When you're all done that, you probably ought to read that excellent piece on Richard West and how his spending at the Smithsonian Indian Museum was over-the-top out of control. It's a long piece, five pages, but worth it -- and it concludes at the bottom of page 5 with this lovely parting shot:

"Chalan was apologetic in the e-mail to West and noted that Leipold was only trying to protect West from embarrassment: "Please note, that she is only trying to keep your life Washington Post free for your last two months. *smile*"


Seems being "Post-free" didn't work out too well. Of course, that should be "Washington-Post-free," with hyphens. But heck, it was an internal e-mail, and nobody proofs internal e-mails.

It's been clear for quite a while, though, that the all the top brass running the Smithsonian are/were out-of-control for some time, which is one of the saddest, most anger-producing things I can think of.

Today, Dec. 28, 2007, is also a day that may (or may not) live in infamy: today my second-oldest granddaughter, Clarissa, turns 16, and is to be released upon an unsuspecting world and its highways. Happy birthday, Clarissa. (She's the super-affectionate one who likes hugs. But she's also the one who marches to not only a different drummer, but to an entire percussion section, including congas, snares, traps, bongos, and kettle drums, hammered-out trash can lids, djembes, tablas, changkos, hollowed out logs, tambourines, and cajóns [a kind of drum, although the word is much, much too close to another Spanish word that means something else entirely]). World, you have been warned.

OK, onward to complete the final day of a grueling three-day work week during which the halls of gummint have been as deserted as a ghost town with tumbleweeds blowing down the aisles between cubbies.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 6:20 AM | Report abuse

Hi Cassandra! Since you asked, I'm doing OK. I can still stand on my own 2 feet, but walking around poses a different set of challanges, especially since the kids have been home for a week and their stuff is everywhere. Every step seems to take more and more effort as the days go by, even in my own house.

I've been missing the Christmas decorations, especially the lights that brighten the neighborhoods and shopping malls. The darkness is getting me down, but when I feel like whining, I think of people like you who so gracefully carry a heavy cross, and it keeps my attitude in check.

Right now, our house is really, really messy, and my wife and i have friends and family coming to visit. But if I think about it, I would much rather have a really, really messy house and friends and family over to visit than have a really, really messy house and Not have friends or family over to visit.

Cleaning it up is going to take teamwork!

Posted by: Pat | December 28, 2007 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Pat, when I think of you, my mother always comes to mind. Don't be depressed, and I know that's not easy, but I so admire you and your family. You're going to be fine, and you are just fine. I still have the tree up, not going to take it down. I'm waiting on my daughter to do that. I took the outside stuff down, but just don't have the heart for the tree. Give my best to your family.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 28, 2007 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Hi Pat,

I was thinking to go over and find you at the Balancing Family On the Head of a Pin Blog. Glad you stopped by.

Sorry that you feel down; you certainly have your reasons. However, this is not the authentic you. I hope you are playing guitar early in the morning, watching silly movies, and browsing seed catalogs with your gardening buddies. Sneak beans? Your family is in my prayers.

Steely grey sky with hints of shell pink on the edges. Damp but not a bad morning.

Maggie O. Oh dear on Phineas. We need our dignity, don't we....even doggies. Westies sport a Cary-Grant veneer, don't you think?

Posted by: College Parkian | December 28, 2007 7:18 AM | Report abuse

G'morning all, hey Cassandra. It's foggy in the mountains and the forecast calls for steady rain this evening. I am grateful for that!

Pat, your feelings are completely understandable, but I hope you don't let them get you down. You are an inspiration to us all.

On a funny note, I dreamed in the night that Mr. T and I were visiting grand country homes in England, and I had a shy bladder because the bathrooms had no stalls. Brains come up with strange thoughts!

Posted by: Slyness | December 28, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Hey Pat!! *extra-furry Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Ai chihuahua!!!

Hey all you blogspot bloggers, be careful out there!!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Not much of a sky in this poorly lit morning. The ground is white as we got another couple of inches of snow yesterday and the sky is light grey, there is not much contrast between the two. This would be a black and white world but for the patches of red worn by the male sapsucker and hairy woodpecker taking turns at the suet feeder. The females come at the suet feeder too and contribute to the black and white theme. Hopefully the cardinals will show up later. The red of these birds sets out beautifully against fresh snow.
Maggie, I know your feelings. The giant old lab has trouble walking in loose snow this year. The poor dog's back leg sometimes slipped from underneath it and it falls on its side. Jumping and running in loose snow has always been one of its greatest pleasure so it is sad to se it confined to the cleared or hardened areas.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | December 28, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Now THIS, from the Boston Globe, is funny!

TNT analyst Kenny Smith said the Celtics are flirting with the Bulls' NBA record of 72 regular-season wins. Fellow analyst Charles Barkley responded by saying, "If they win 72 games I'll walk [from the TNT studio in Atlanta] to Phoenix in a Speedo."

"That would be worth winning 71," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I don't want to win that [Barkley in a Speedo]. That would be ugly."


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the warning. I and my sockpuppets will be more vigilant. I may have even gotten one of those StormWorms already, but I'm too lazy, er, vigilant to ever download unknown codecs just to play a greeting card.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Groggy start to what could be a slightly busy day.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

'Mudge, I think you'll particularly enjoy today's "Get Fuzzy"...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Very much, Scotty, thanks. I love "He'll be in charge of my speakage."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Geez, just when I got off my lazy butt and posted the Origin of Jumper on

I think since the problem is now known, and since I have no links to this junk in my blog, it's safe.

As usual Cassandra sums up Ron Paul. He's an interesting fellow. I have however a historical bellyfull of States Rights. I prefer the Ninth Amendment in these matters: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained BY THE PEOPLE." (my emphasis). It's fascinating reading about the short shrift the Ninth has historically received.

Posted by: Jumper | December 28, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

bill everything,

Thanks for that Traffic clip. That was excellent. It's sad to think that Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi are dead, though. It's time to pull out "John Barleycorn" and "Low Spark" records again and give them a listen.

Posted by: pj | December 28, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

That movie has Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson in it. Let's hope it's better than the last couple of movies they did together.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Hey Joel (and others)... maybe you can come up with a scheme like this to raise money to pay for Christmas presents...

Egypt to Copyright Pyramids
by Rayad Abou Awad
Tue Dec 25, 2:00 PM ET

CAIRO (AFP) - In a potential blow to themed resorts from Vegas to Tokyo, Egypt is to pass a law requiring payment of royalties whenever its ancient monuments, from the pyramids to the sphinx, are reproduced...

My favorite part of the article...

Samir Farag, head of Luxor town council in southern Egypt, home to the legendary Valley of the Kings, said that it would be difficult to prohibit use of pyramid shapes.

"We can't forbid people from using the name of Luxor and copying monuments from (Luxor) city, which is the world's richest city for monuments," he said, adding that "tourists going to Las Vegas doesn't affect our city's business."

Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

There is a tourist trap is Xian, China that has a sphinx attached to a pyramid. Would they pay double royalties or would that count as an original work?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Is a person who builds a sphinx a sphinxter?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

*drumming fingers, just waiting patiently for TBG's comeback line. You all know what it will be:*

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

No, Mudge.. I think that's a sphinx who's never been married.

Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

WAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNK! No, no, no, TBG. That's not it. You were supposed to say something like, "Yes, and I think there's one living in Mianus."

I'm very disappointed. I can't do all the heavy lifting around here by myself, you know.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

In Mianus.

Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Don't try to make up.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I could have sworn I read in "Chariots of the Gods" that sphinxters came from Uranus, 'Mudge.

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

You did, Scotty, but everyone knows von Danikin was full of crap, and a total charlatan. They came from Pleides. The Grays brought them. Jeez, do I hafta explain everything?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

The piece on Rick West brings several thoughts to my mind. Although the article gets front page play and goes into great and lengthy detail, no illegal activities are charged, not a one. The sole purpose seems to be to embarrass the Smithsonian and West, who has already retired from his position as director. Much is made of the $30,000 cost of the retirement video. Every year the White House produces and releases, at taxpayer expense, a video of Barney the Bush dog. The WaPo puts this on its web page without any comment as to the cost of production, just a sort of general "Aww, how cute!" The level of detail in the article, and the fact that internal emails are quoted verbatim says to me "Disgruntled employee!" loud and clear. Over the past few months the Post and the Congress have laid into the Smithsonian for its sins, real and perceived, at the level of high administration and board members, with a notable exception. No one has questioned any of the ex-officio board members about their lack of oversight. The Vice President, Chief Justice, three members of the House and three from the Senate are on the Smithsonian board, but none of these folks have been interviewed by the media or grilled by any committees. Cheney in his seven years in office has never once attended a Smithsonian board meeting, not one, but no one is blaming him for failing in this duty. One does not kick a dog with teeth that large.

I'm not trying to justify a pattern of expenditure which is pretty obviously excessive, but I am trying to point out a couple of things perhaps less obvious. 1) West operated within the rules in force at the time and nothing in the article says otherwise. 2) The Post has found an easy target for investigative reporting. Although its public profile is high, among federal agencies the Smithsonian is the smallest of the small, without a cabinet level protector. 3) Although every one of the major figures in this story- Small, Burke, West, the guy from the Business Ventures office whose name escapes me at the moment- have resigned or retired, and none of them have been charged with illegal activity, the net result of this and similar reporting is to further damage the prestige and limit the fundraising potential of the national museum system. Why would we want to do that?

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 28, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm in Caribou Coffee with a slow connection. I'm not sitting in a cushy gummint office with speedy Interwebs not working.

Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

We would want to do that, K-guy, because the management of the Smithsonian is clearly, repeat clearly, waaaay out of control. It is [OK, was, past tense] spending money lavishly and foolishly, and quite obviously knows it, viz.: the e-mails and discussions about public perceptions, etc.

I agree completely that the piece screams "disgruntled employee." However, I say, "Good for him or her." Yes, there is obviously a whistleblower in the woodwork somewhere feeding this stuff to the OMB and the Post. That seems to bother you, but I say "Good for him/her/them." Yes, they are clearly disgusted with the behavior they've seen.

You point out that it has all been legal and within the {then-existing] rules. That's true. But isn't that itself a problem? Doesn't it suggest to you the rules d@mn well ought to be changed? They already rescinded the "unlimited leave" portion of the directors' terms of employment; obviously, somebody somewhere thinks it was excessive.

I don't see the fact that West and Burke and whatshisname have or are retiring is relevant. Are you suggesting that since they are going or gone we should all just say "Byegones" and the Post shouldn't report it?

What has the relative size of the Smithsonian got to do with anything? It is THE national museum system; it belongs to US. It's conduct in these kinds of things ought to be impeccable and beyond reproach. Yes, the Post has been "smearing" it -- and rightly so. West and Burk were using well over a hundred days A YEAR of PAID leave to do stuff that was only marginally relevant to their jobs, and some of it not at all.

The $30k goodbye video was flat-out inexcusable. It has no relevance to the [also inexcusable] White House dog video.

The only way to get the Smithsonian management to shape up is to expose it to public scrutiny and criticism. Sweeping it under the carpet, as you appear to be suggesting, (a) won't work, and (b) is a Richard Nixonism: "It would be wrong...but we could do it."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

While some of West's travels did seem to be connected to his admirable fundraising, most of those connections are murky at best. Is it wrong to point out a situation where funds for a struggling national icon might have been better spent? I think not.

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I've heard of the fog of war, but this kind of constant revision is astounding...


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, all of these activities (except the video) occurred during the tenure of now departed Larry Small. You propose to punish his replacement (a far, far superior individual) for Small's sins.

As far as the disgruntled employees go, I can't say everything that I know and or suspect regarding that because I am too close to some of this, but I can assure you that they have personal agendas, big ones, which have nothing to do with cleaning up the Smithsonian.

The size and power of the agency has a great deal to do with the level of press scrutiny. Ever hear anything about waste and corruption at DOD, CIA, FBI, DIA, Agriculture, Treasury? The Pentagon wastes $250k in the time it takes me to walk from the bedroom to the bathroom in the morning. When's the last time you saw an highly placed individual at the Commerce Department's expenses scrutinized for five pages in a lead article in the WaPo with absolutely no illegality at bottom.

What I am attempting to point out with regard to the Barney cam, et. al., is the difference in the way that the questionable use of public funds is treated by the press. If it's terrible to spend money in this way, and it is, then they should point that out each and every time, not selectively.

You appear to have nothing to say on the subject of the board members. Neither does the Post. I find that odd, at least in their case.

Lastly, I am simply asking, in light of the fact that all of the responsible parties are departed from the institution, what real benefit is realized by continuing to prominently trumpet their questionable activities? Lessons have been learned and policies have been changed already. Tarring those blameless successors tasked with rehabilitating the institution or vowing never to contribute again serve no good purpose if the goal is to make the Smithsonian better.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 28, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Just starting to get caught up with news and noticed this in the Globe today, a reprint of a column written by Benazir Bhutto just before she returned to Pakistan.

Posted by: dmd | December 28, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Re the West spending scandal, my Crow nation relatives say this:

We (Native Peeps) have arrived, to spend into lavish lasciviousness....and not even a casino indian at that.

I wish you could hear this delivered with perfect western laconic style.

Posted by: College Parkian | December 28, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

*chirp chirp chirp*

Posted by: Anonymous | December 28, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

If you're looking for diversion this weekend, go see "Juno." It's smart and funny, well written and well acted, well paced and less than 2 hours long. The young lady who plays the title character,
Ellen Page, does a great job. It's PG-13 and deals with teen pregnancy in a good way.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 28, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I want to see Juno but I might wait for the DVD. I was watching Ellen Page in Hard Candy on cable until my wife made me turn it off as she was threatening to castrate the pedophile she had entrapped. Talk about rough justice.

I like the casting of Juno because it has Jennifer Garner and a partial Arrested Development reunion.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, The Professor ditched me to do some back-alley seranades with Molly the cat.

So, you still want me to reserve a kennel for you? I keep thinking a hotel room would be better-- big and soft beds, but if you really want to surprise your wife, I guess that WOULD work.

(Man, humans are even stranger than gnomes)

Posted by: Wilbrodog | December 28, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

K'guy-thanks for so articulately saying what I thought while reading the Smithsonian article. I particularly bristled at the implications that West made trips tied to his choice of retirement locales that were made only because of those choices. Should Mr. F casually mention he'd like to buy a cottage in New Zealand I hope no reporter is around to question his recent duty there. Has no one at the Post ever traveled on business and then thought, "boy this would be a great place to retire?" Did West commit sins of excess and wastefulness? No doubt. But the double standard applied in the reporting of the "scandal" is beneath the Post.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 28, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

It really looks as though the Larry Small regime at the Smithsonian is over.

I guess that in figuring out what's appropriate at the Smithsonian, you need to look at fundraising practices elsewhere in the museum/nonprofit sector, compensation practices for executives, and the Smithsonian's special role as our national museum (and an important international research agency) in its dealings abroad. I'm in favor of having the Smithsonian representing American culture, science, and museum expertise. If that means a museum director should be travelling a lot for fundraising and outreach purposes, that's laudable--so long as costs stay in line.

Stanford, where West is a trustee, got into a mess with Federal science funding agencies some years ago by charging to research overhead things like flowers in the President's house and much of the cost of building new facilites. The president resigned, plans for vastly expanding the campus were cut back, overhead was cut, and a humbled Stanford got back to business as usual. But "elite" universities still seem to charge the Feds higher overhead than plain-vanilla universities.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 28, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I just read my convoluted post. Bottom lines:
1. The Smithsonian competes with similar institutions for personnel and funding. It may need to offer rather plush salary and perks to executives.
2. It's fairly normal for elite nonprofits to get greedy and even to be run for the benefit of their execs and maybe donors than for the general public. Congress, the IRS, and watchdogs have useful roles here.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 28, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

yellokjt, I don't want to spoil, but I will say that although it is definitely Page's film, Garner and Bateman's characters and the changes they go through make a great contribution to the story.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 28, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Note this exchange in the Jonathan Weisman chat today:

Re: Gut candidate: That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Did you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say "I did look it up, and that's not true." That's 'cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut -- I did.

Jonathan Weisman: Thanks, Stephen Colbert. And let's not talk about nerve endings. This is a family show.

All right, 'fess up. Who's the "Gut Candidate" poster? Mudge? Yellow? bc?

Posted by: CowTown | December 28, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

No, not me, CowTown. And if it had been me, I'd have signed it Curmudgeon. Or "Waldorf, Md." if it was in a serious vein.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Being Canadian lots of hype about Ellen Page up here, I was watching Hard Candy last night as well but stoppped about the same point as yello's wife.

Posted by: dmd | December 28, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't follow many chats other than Weingarten and occasionally Sietsema or Liz Kelly. And I'm from Fo,MA.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

William Arkin has a pretty good column at about not jumping to conclusions about al Qaeda killing Bhutto when there are approximately a dozen or two dozen other worthy suspects.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, rounding up the usual suspects could include about everybody. Anybody seen Condi Rice lately? She was the one that bought into sending Bhutto back into the fray to give the regime a veneer of respectability. I don't want to say she has blood on her hands, but...

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Lots of talk today at work about Bhutto and in the inevitable conspiracy theories floating around. And although I object to conspiracy theories in general, a friend of mine pointed out why conspiracies are especially ill-suited to assassination.

Conspiracies, by nature, are carefully thought out plots by rational individuals working behind the scenes. Their intent is to secretly control things. The operative words are secret and control. A good conspiracy is one that changes the world without the world even being aware of it.

But assassinations, and monstrous destruction in general, are the enemy of control. They induce chaos and repercussions that are impossible to predict. Further, their shocking salience is sure to attract unwanted attention. Such acts are characteristic of passion and anger, not the calm and rational impulses of a secretive conspirator.

So, I assert, that while oil prices, voter registration, water policy, and the persistent popularity of Céline Marie Claudette Dion, are all reasonable candidates for conspiracies, acts of great violence are not.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

David Brooks of the NYT has some links to the best essays of 2007 in yesterday's and today's columns. Well worth a look.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | December 28, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

So, RD... you wouldn't call the 9/11 attacks a conspiracy?

It fits your definition perfectly. And the resulting chaos was exactly what the conspirators were looking for.

Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

And the burning of the Reichstag building?

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I liked this response to Arkin-


Anyone who doesn't think the Pakistani security apparatus, infiltrated by islamists, had a role in the assassination is either lying when they say it, a NEO-CON, a brain-washed sheep, a talk radio entertainer, or all of the above combined.

Bhutto was killed by employees of the Pakistani government in the security and secret services, and their radical fundamentalist Islamist friends."

Posted by: JBE | December 28, 2007 01:48 PM

I would add that anyone who thinks Musharaf has control over the ISI doesn't know much about Pakistan.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 28, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

9/11 was not a conspiracy. At least not in the sense of cooperation between organizations and entities who wished to keep their involvement secret. The perpetrators of 9/11 were pretty gosh darn proud of what they had done and quickly let it be known.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I would contend that Celine Dion singing the Titanic theme "My Heart Will Go On" qualifies as an act of great violence by any definition.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 28, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Just a little drive-by boodling, then I'm outta here, as the door to my cage has been sprung.

RD, I can relate to your sleepiness today. I did my sleep study years ago; it was the worse night of my life. Now, however, I cannot sleep without my CPAP. That is a huge pain in the butt when I go camping.

So CP is a Crow Indian. I'll bet she looks kool in a headdress and tomahawk. Remind me to get out of Dodge when she's on the warpath.

Posted by: Don from I-270 | December 28, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I have a broader definition in my mind; I think of "conspiracy" as people conspiring to do something--a coordinated effort to carry out an act.

I've always loved the line I heard or read once and don't remember where, something like...

"The funny thing about the Lincoln assassination conspiracy theory is that it *was* one."

Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Yello - isn't "blood on her hands" a bit harsh? According to the WaPo story this morning, Bhutto was all too eager to get back into the country. She wasn't pushed there.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

TBG - sure, that is a valid definition. But when I hear Conspiracy Theory I think much more of notions such as an unholy collusion between the Bush Administration and the Jewish Lobby to deliberately blow up the Pentagon so as to justify animosity towards the Muslim World.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

But the Lincoln Conspiracy consisted of, what, three people? And it lasted, I believe, about 48 hours. This is totally different scale of conspiracy than, say, those proposed for the JFK assassination. Or some of the ones being floated around about Bhutto.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

k-guy you may have a point about Céline Dion.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Don - yeah you are right. Of course I wasn't the one upon whom the study was conducted. I was the one sleeping on the floor listening to his daughter, wired up like a UNIAC, snoring and gasping for breath.

Anyway, long day. Very long day.

Have a good weekend.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

RD... I hope the research last night at the sleep clinic leads to some good results, whatever they were looking for or found.

Like Don, my BIL spent one night at a sleep clinic and the rest of his nights since with a CPAP.

He said the three hours of sleep that night at the clinic when they tested out the CPAP was the best sleep he'd had in 20 years. He's been a different person ever since.

Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Of late, watching all the "Santa" news on TV, I've sometimes wondered if conspiracy theorists don't develop their tendencies the minute they realize a certain gentleman is not real.

After all, if everybody could unite in THAT conspiracy, what else could people do?

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 28, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Lede paragraph from the Robin Wright column:

"For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Bhutto flew home in October. The call culminated more than a year of secret diplomacy -- and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan's most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington's key ally in the battle against terrorism."

Other great conspiracies:

Fluoridated Water
Eddie Wilson's Death (and Michael Pare's career in general)
The NBA Draft Lottery
New Coke

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh no, there were a bunch of people involved in the plot that killed Abe. There were attacks on several of the cabinet members, Seward, Stanton, etc., all more or less simultaneous. Only the president was killed, but I think Seward's son was killed protecting his dad.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 28, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

But from the same article

"Friends say Bhutto asked for U.S. help. "She pitched the idea to the Bush administration," said Peter W. Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador and friend of Bhutto from their days at Harvard. "She had been prime minister twice, and had not been able to accomplish very much because she did not have power over the most important institutions in Pakistan -- the ISI [intelligence agency], the military and the nuclear establishment," he said."

Look, these aren't bible verses. Clearly the negotiations were complex. I just dislike accusations that border awfully close to calling people Nazis.

I'm outa here.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

My bad. Fred Seward was critically injured by a flurry of revolver blows to the head, but recovered.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 28, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"a flurry of revolver blows to the head"

Great line.

Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Good thing it wasn't a squall, eh?

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I was once again injecting perhaps a little too dark a humor. Clearly, Rice would not have agreed to Bhutto's return if she knew for certain that this would be the result. And there is no chance Condi was in cahoots with any assassins directly or indirectly. But if she was given any assurances of safe passage, she was being played for a dupe. Since few members of the Bhutto clan die of natural causes, you'd think that would be a base you would want to have covered.

Yet another diplomatic misfire from the brain trust that brought us "greeted with roses". A little realpolitik would be a pleasant change of pace right about now.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

K- guy, I defer to your expertise on the particulars. Yet I still assert the established facts aren't really what I mean by a conspiracy. This is what I mean by a conspiracy:

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Sorry yello. Didn't mean to sound so grumpy. This has been a very stressful day.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

*faxin' RDP a bunny-shaped robot* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Re conspiracy theories. This says it far better than I.

Now I really do need to get home and take a nice soothing nap.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Part of my problem was that I read too many Richard Condon novels in my youth. I don't know why they let him live after Winter Kills. It all sounded way too plausible. Prizzi's Honor is my idea of a romantic comedy.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Alien Abduction Anal Probes Pod People Grassy Knoll Trilateral Commission Wacky Wingnut Conspiracy Theory, eh? Or AAAPPPGKTCWWCT as it is known in the biz. By a strange coincidence, AAAPPPGKTCWWCT is also the DNA sequence of the Area 51 remains, which of course do not exist.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 28, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

And in the Political Non Sequitur Department...

Hah? Wha?

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Just because it's a conspiracy theory doesn't mean it didn't happen. Even paranoids have enemies.

Seriously, from what I know of bureaucracies, conspiracies are doomed to failure because they are only as good as their weakest link.

Not there aren't people that have aspired to be conspiracists. Neo-cons and Straussians believe that deceiving the public of their true motivations is not only acceptable but necessary.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, I live in an area with a great many Pakistani immigrants - wow that article/comment is raising my blood pressure.

Posted by: dmd | December 28, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I have relatives and friends who have become very xenophobic and I blame Huckabee, Dobbs, and their ilk. I'm waiting for this whole fever to eventually implode in McCarthy-like over-reaching, but I don't see signs of that happening yet.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Huckabee's comment is pretty close, yello... *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 28, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Illegal Pakistanis are a problem here? Boy, I have missed something. Of course, I would never vote for a presidential candidate who believes that the story of Genesis is literally true.

Posted by: Slyness | December 28, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

McCarthy-like over-reaching checklist

1. Fearmongering- Check

2. Factual inaccuracies- Check

3. Xenophobia- Check

4, Self righteous posturing- Check

Let's see now, what's left? Oh, yes.

5. Outright fabrication-

6. Scapegoating-

7. Witchhunt-

Yep, we're gettin' there.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 28, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

K-guy I think a case could be made for 5-7 as well, at least partial check marks.

Posted by: dmd | December 28, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I'm laughing at that Huckabee link, Scotty. Ya think maybe Huckabee believes that Pakistan is a state in Mexico, say between Oaxaca and Chihuahua? Or that Rawalpindi is the next soon-to-be-develped resort property on the Riviera Maya (which does, in fact border the Sian Kaan biosphere, which sounds close to Kahn, not the Star Trek "I'll kill you, Kirk" rich Corinthian leather Kahn, but the Pakistani Kahns like A.F. Kahn, the nuclear bad dude).

Note to Loomis: if you see any illegals trying to sneak into Texas while wearing turbans, shoot to kill. They may be Sikhing illegal entry. Bwahahahahahaha.

Padouk, you're usually on the mark, but ya need to brush up on your Lincolniana. From Wiki:

"Booth had organized a circle of conspirators to help him in attempting this. He recruited Samuel Arnold, George Atzerodt, David Herold, Michael O'Laughlen, Lewis Powell a.k.a. "Lewis Paine" and John Surratt. In time, Surratt's mother, Mary, left her tavern in Surrattsville, Maryland, and moved to a house in Washington, where Booth became a frequent visitor."

Powell was assigned to kill Seward and Atzerodt to kill VP Johnson. The military wound up trying eight people (one of them was the famous Dr. Mudd, who may or may not have been innocent), and they hung four, Booth already being dead (most likely).

I think we're all letting our X-Files modern sensibilities get in the way of what the basic word "conspiracy" entails. Lincoln's case will do fine, as will Guy Fawkes, Julius Caesar, etc. And as Ivansmom (hey, where is she todfay, anyway?) will tell you "conspiracy" in and of itself is a criminal offense: two or more people agree to commit a crime. That's all it takes.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Beware of Greeks bearing brooms...

Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

And I owe and an apology to LindaLoo. I mentioned that Charlie Wilson's War is up for a Best Comedy Golden Globe and she was just a little baffled. I think the movie is a laff-riot from start to finish, but then I've already excused my taste.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Hi, everyone.

I'll try to catch up soon...


Posted by: bc | December 28, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

TBG, I saw that story. I hope it doesn't get picked up by those idiots at the WWF. "Danger in the Manger: Bethlehem Smackdown. Three Kings of Orient Are take on Joseph, Mary, and the Little Drummer Boy. The Tag Team Match of the Millenium."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

TBG, the absurdity of the Bethlehem broomhaha made me think of the scene in "Strangelove" where the president upbraids the tussling Air Force General and the Soviet ambassador "Gentlemen, gentlemen. This is the War Room! There's no fighting in here."

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 28, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

...although from the description it sounds like a curling scrimmage that just got out of hand. I mean really: stones and brooms?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - Yes you are right. The Lincoln conspiracy was more than just three guys.

But *come* on. You *know* what I mean.

Perhaps it is the X-Files, but when people hear of a "conspiracy," government or otherwise, they aren't thinking two, three, or even a half dozen people. They are thinking the CIA, the IRS, Israel, the Catholic Church, the Mafia, Dunkin' Donuts, and the Main Stream Media all working together according to a clever plan hatched around a smoke filled table.

And Scottynuke - just to clarify, are these bunny robots the fluffy lagamorph kind, or the hanging out in the Playboy Grotto kind?

Cause it's going to affect what I wear when I take my nap.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Smoke filled room. Smoke filled table? Man, I really do need a nap.

Nighty night.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 28, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

A clever bit of misdirection you are tossing out today. Sure those groups draw all the attention because those are the ones THEY want us to suspect. The real powers behind the scene are the Boy Scouts (Gerald Ford - Eagle Scout & Warren Commission member), the Fraternal Brotherhood Of Elks (they sure own a lot of decrepit lodges for a group I've never met a real member of), and The Phone Company (you aren't buying into that fake Ma Bell break-up are you?). I've already revealed too much.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

"deceiving the public of their true motivations is not only acceptable but necessary"

More importantly, yellojkt, neocons seem to believe that the deception is justified.

Posted by: ScienceTim | December 28, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

See? They've killed the boodle. What's that sound? thop thop thop thop Thop Thop Thop Thop THOP THOP THOP THOP


{doorbell ring}


Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Paging Don from way up on I 270! I am not lucky enough to be a member of the Crow Nation. Repeat: not Crow! So any warpath you experience with me would just be me in a fine fettle.

However, some of my band of wild Irish rovers who homesteaded out West on piss-pour land DID marry into the Crow Nation. The couple met through a series of Jesuit-ey encounters and worked for years teaching at Res schools. Some of them now raise bison, beefalo, and "plain" cow for market. I am related by marriage not by blood.

I feel very sad about the world at this moment. I know that political assignations --like poverty -- will likely always be with us. But I am sad and I also think of the three children left alone in a complex family that does not have the privacy to live simply as themselves.

I also knew one of Ms Bhutto's teachers from Oxford. He would be devastated by the new, but died a few years ago.

Cassandra, I expect you are praying for them. This somehow comforts me that we can care across the miles for people we will never see.

Posted by: College Parkian | December 28, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Despite that gift giving is over, sort of, here is something for the eternal lovers in boodleland (ScottyN? Mudge, and the others you know who you are). Valentine's day approaches...

I may have killed the boodle early. Mea Culpa (repeat until the boodle ignites again).

Posted by: College Parkian | December 28, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

yello... the guy's you are worried about don't bother to ring the doorbe

Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

I'd SCC that stupid apostrophe, but I can't.

Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Dag, as I was backboodling, I considered a comment to TBG's link to the Melee in the Manger regarding curling, but Mudge beat me to it.

Clearly, the situation in Pakistan has worsened with Bhutto's assasination, but I don't know if it will destabilize completely. I suspect that it won't, simply due to the fact that all signs and the public perceptions are pointing to al-Quaida. If there were some sort of hint that India were involved, then I'd be even more concerned.

I guess for the time being, we're playing the Devil we Know.

Re: Huckabee - who knows what he's up to?
And exactly what kind of fence does he suggest we build in Mexico to keep illegal Pakistanis from entering the US? Besides, everyone knows that it's easier to enter the US from Canuckistan.



Posted by: bc | December 28, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I just saw Atonement, and damn, it was good. I left shaking, and the two teenaged girls sitting beside me just left.

And now that everyone is home from work, here's something completely inane, juvenile, and funny!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | December 28, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

I just saw Sweeney Todd - I'm too squeamish to have really enjoyed it, although it was quite good. Some things just don't need to be so graphic, for me, at least. Wonder why Tim Burton doesn't just shoot in black and white. Awfully like winter in Seattle.

I liked Atonement a lot - would watch it again. I'm going to have to read the book again, too.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 28, 2007 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Maggie, that link just caused me 15 minutes. Because, ya see, there were more Atkinson links, and more, and more...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Ooh, Mudgie, only 15 minutes? Such self discipline! I think that Atkinson's entire oeuvre is on youtube. (Oh how I wish for italics!)

Posted by: Maggie O'D | December 28, 2007 8:00 PM | Report abuse

It was tough, Maggie. "Amazing Jesus" made my sides hurt.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

It was tough, Maggie. "Amazing Jesus" made my sides hurt.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

One of the Discovery Channels is running a show about assassination conspiracies aimed at Lincoln. Someone is telling me something.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 28, 2007 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Boodle sleeping.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 28, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: TBG | December 28, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I'll probably watch Sweeney Todd. I've been hearing about this legendary broadway musical but never gotten to see it interpreted.

Yay for Tim Burton! I'll just watch it with 3-D glasses if I can't take the gore.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 28, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Tonight in the jungle the boodle sleeps..
wimba-way wimba wayyy
wimba-way wimba wayyy

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 28, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse

A possible topic of discussion;_ylt=ApkYhpvxOjj.CtBBQ4UdNy4R.3QA

Not the yoga... forget being healthy and happy and all... old hat. What got my attention was the bit that the control group was relaxing in an armchair for 15 minutes a day. I think the problem with our health is many people do too much of that already.

I suddenly visualized a football yoga work out DVD to do while watching football. Asthenga yoga: my favorite, and it's a little more physical than breathing.

Just when they form the scrimmage line, do an down dog (not too unlike the snap position), etc. There is a lot of yoga postures that would completely mimic common football situations, only you can't do them too fast and you need to practice yogic breathing while you do it. You can always stand and do the sun and moon salutation, etc. There could be a "huddle yoga" routine to do when you're twiddling the thumbs for the football teams to quit yakking and start playing again.

And of course, "commerical yoga". The less you watch food on the screen, the less you eat.

Now we just need to market it as hip and real man stuff. Sitting and drooling at screen is for sissies, when real men can drop and give 10 downward dog- lunge combos. And the dead man's position? Always great to help you with the heartbreak of watching your team lose points.

(Mantra during the breathing exercise: Damn patries damn patries.)

No? I sure wish my dad would be into moving while watching football. Sometimes I worry one day he'll die in his armchair and we won't notice because we'll think he's just watching football with his eyes closed as usual.

I am CERTAIN this has happened to far too many men already.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 28, 2007 10:56 PM | Report abuse

a weem a wep

Saw "Sweeney Todd" just after "Enchanted" the judge's beadle in the former looked rather like the evil queen's lackey in the latter. Sure enough, both Timothy Spall.

While Sweeney has plenty to be squeamish about, the blood is clearly of the Macbeth variety. "Eastern Promises" is seemingly much more realistic, although not having seen anyone killed with a razor, I'm not in a position to make assessments.

Thinking of meat, "Duma", a boy-and-cheetah movie that got terrific reviews and almost no theater exposure is now available for $5 at the local Wal-Mart, if you can find it in the bin.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 29, 2007 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Yoga, tai chi, etc, are done at a very slow pace. In order to get the full benefits and continuous benefits from these practices, you need to have discipline. And if you work meditation into it, you can feel the benefits much faster.

Because each movement is done very slowly, you could fall asleep while doing it, especially in a 101 class. You could get really bored if you are not being taught properly or explained adequately why you need to be slow. This is especially true for young people who are not use to doing things at such a slow pace.

I did yoga 10 years ago. We were told to do it slowly and concentrate on our breathing. The problem is (I think this is true for most people) I'd concentrate for about a minute and then my mind would just wondered off and then I'd finish a movement at half the time it should take me to finish. I attended a meditation class a few years back and that helped when I practice yoga and tai chi both of which I should do everyday but I don't. No discipline, unfortunately.

Posted by: rainforest | December 29, 2007 1:43 AM | Report abuse

RDP, lagomorphs, obviously.

Otherwise I'd have said fembots, no?


That Bethlehem brouhaha is just plain silly. Just like the comments for today's Ombudsman column (HOW could she not specifically note Joel's above-and-beyond-the-call efforts????) ...

*planning-a-fulla-football-kinda-weekend Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 29, 2007 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Sore throat, cold coming on waves to all. I can't believe I'm going to finish up my Tampa visit with a stuffy nose.

Rainforest-thanks for the beginning yoga info. Mr. F and I have vowed to work on flexibility this year and to that end have chosen to add yoga to our fitness regimes. He is a lot fitter than I, thus I have weight loss in my sights as well, but I have dreams of entering old age flexible and able to move instead of brittle and riding a scooter.

The Tampa Trib is reporting that home prices in the Tampa area have not slipped as much as the rest of Florida. I hope they are right. Mr. F has a report date for his next assignment, in St. Paul, and Chez Frostbitten South will be on the market this spring.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 29, 2007 7:32 AM | Report abuse

interesting commentary re: Benazir Bhutto from The Guardian,

"It is difficult to imagine any good coming out of this tragedy, but there is one possibility. Pakistan desperately needs a political party that can speak for the social needs of a bulk of the people. The People's party founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was built by the activists of the only popular mass movement the country has known: students, peasants and workers who fought for three months in 1968-69 to topple the country's first military dictator. They saw it as their party, and that feeling persists in some parts of the country to this day, despite everything.

Benazir's horrific death should give her colleagues pause for reflection. To be dependent on a person or a family may be necessary at certain times, but it is a structural weakness, not a strength for a political organisation. The People's party needs to be refounded as a modern and democratic organisation, open to honest debate and discussion, defending social and human rights, uniting the many disparate groups and individuals in Pakistan desperate for any halfway decent alternative, and coming forward with concrete proposals to stabilise occupied and war-torn Afghanistan. This can and should be done. The Bhutto family should not be asked for any more sacrifices."

read it all here,,2232632,00.html

Posted by: frostbitten | December 29, 2007 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Yep Frostbitten, this thing about a political party being the property of a single family doesn't seem to work very well...
K-guy, to add to the point you made yeste
Note the scale of the waste reported in the story vs what Mr. West spent. Let see if someone make a serious investigation on the money spend in Iraq for reconstruction. I'm no expert but I suspect it would be ugly and the waste would be in the billions.
The house was at 15C-59F when I woke up this morning. The electronic thermostat needed new batteries. Lucky that I had them in hand. Hot coffee and the application of a large warm puppy kept me comfortable while the house heated up.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | December 29, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Here's the link, unmangled

Posted by: shrieking denizen | December 29, 2007 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Re: conspiracy: Ngo Dinh Diem.

Posted by: Jumper | December 29, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

After dropping it for a couple of years I have gone back to doing yoga a few times a week. I have three levels of DVD's Yoga For Inflexible People, Yoga For Everyone, and Yoga For Athletes. The cool thing about this series is that by mixing and matching short routintes, each DVD has over twenty different routines rather than one you watch over and over again.

Right now I'm working my way through the Inflexible one and pushing the positions a little where I can. The Athletes one if very difficult but each group of routines is aimed a specific sport like golfing or bicycling. Unfortunately, football watching is not one of them.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 29, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Morning all... heading out for breakfast with a good friend I haven't seen nearly enough of lately. Looking forward to it.

Frosti... that's great that Mr F will be heading to St Paul. I assume that was the plan, but it's nice to know it's going to be implemented.

And I know it's much closer, but how much closer? Will there be only one Chez Frostbitten?

Posted by: TBG | December 29, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Warren Buffett is incredible. He has always being able to take advantage of down markets.

Posted by: rainforest | December 29, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

TBG-Mr. F's move was the hope, if not exactly a plan, and we are thrilled that he has orders. St. Paul is 4 1/2 hours from Chez Frostbitten North so we will still have two homes but one will be a small downtown loft or condo within walking distance of Mr. F's office. I won't mind having a city get away space.

Yello-you give me hope that our Yoga books and videos were not purchased in vain.

Speaking of books, my Christmas haul climbed to a delightful total of 8 books. So far I've read Krakauer's "Into the Wild" (released with a new softcover to coincide with the movie) and am now midway through Bill Bryson's "Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid." The former makes me glad I read the book rather than seeing the movie, the latter can't catch your breath from laughing so hard funny.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 29, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I am going to quit worrying about missing breaking news when I'm boodling. S'nuke's heads up about Bhutto beat NPR by a few minutes and now Rainforest provides important financial news ahead of my Mayor's Association alert. The impact of Buffet moving into the bond insurance biz won't have an immediate effect because our fair city doesn't actually issue any bonds. We are paying the mortgage on our fire hall with dances, raffles, fishing contests, and four bingo events a year (the max allowed by law without expensive licensing). But, I see this as a good thing for both Berkshire Hathaway investors and the economy as a whole.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 29, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Have folks coming over momentarily, everything's bustling this morning.

I suspect that for all of our commentary and thought on Bhutto's assasination, it will be difficult to predict what's really going to happen. And how much the Arbusto Administracion is going to make it worse.


Posted by: bc | December 29, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, when you talked about weight loss in your 7:32 post, I glanced at my drawer. I felt guilty. In it there are 3 packets of caramel chocolate candy and 1 packet almond nougat. That is on top of a waste paper basket full to the brim of candy wrappers from candies I have already eaten. I'll just go and sleep away my guilt now.

Posted by: rainforest | December 29, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

A sure sign the end of the world is coming. Hello Kitty for men.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 29, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! Isn't this a fine day? Cold, snowy, and no shopping to be done. Shall walk the dogs for a long while today.

Why should men not have a little Hello Kitty in their days? Every time #1 goes to Japan she brings me back something authentically Hello Kitty. I have a HK key ring, a HK hanging off my backpack, and a very large HK stuck to my computer monitor at work. Too silly.

Oh, and a HK chop on my cell phone, as well as various other charms. The last time my next-to-youngest brother visited us, I lent him my cell phone when wh was going out. He stared at it in dismay and said, "I can't carry a girly phone."

'Mudge, your Sikh pun cracked me up.

Posted by: Yoki | December 29, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

We're having a Schnook.

Posted by: b9 | December 29, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Just popped in for a minute. My grandsons are here! I've just finished fixing breakfast for them, and we sat on the floor and ate, using the coffee table, and talked. I don't have enough chairs for the table. We talked about school,and we talked about Sunday school, God, treating people right, a lot of stuff. They don't like their school, they say it sucks, but I'm going to check it out before going along with that assessment.

We're going out, and just hang out. I love it when they come. They're growing up so fast. Before you know it, someone will put a uniform on them, armed them with a gun, and send them somewhere to kill people they don't know or get killed.

I'm not going to think about that this morning, I'm just going to enjoy. Have a great day, folks. It's raining here. Don't know how much we can do in the rain, but we're going to give it a good shot. Plus, the g-girl is back, perky as ever.

Morning, Scotty, Mudge, Slyness, and all.*waving* Where are you, Martooni? We need you to holler. And Ivansmom, we need a loud sound from you too. Yoki, what's up? I read your comments about the food, some of it I've never heard of before, yet it sounds fantastic. And yes, CP, I always pray for people in this world, no matter where in the world, and no matter their circumstances.

Got to go, youth does not like to wait.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 29, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Here's Joel's article from tomorrow's Outlook section on the similarities, or lack thereof, between 1968 and 2008.

Posted by: pj | December 29, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I mean, like, wow. Joel has really outdone himself this time. That literally brought tears to my eyes. And in 1968 I was 6.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 29, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Cassandra, how lovely that your grandsons are with you. Have a happy day! Don't pre-mourn, sufficient unto the day, and all that.

Posted by: Yoki | December 29, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Outstanding piece Joel. I can't say that I agree with all of John Edwards ideas, but I do love his passion and wish more leaders (or hopefuls) had such passion.

Posted by: dmd | December 29, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Remarkable writing from JA. I had the same reaction as RD and I was only 7 when Martin and Bobby were killed.

Posted by: frostbitten | December 29, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Outstanding indeed. I remember 1968; I was 15. It was the year I saw my parents afraid that civil unrest would lead to rioting in our city. We lived in a streetcar suburb that was old even then, and not so far from where people could be expected to riot. Other than being shocked, I don't remember much about the King assassination, but I clearly recall that a friend of my father's called in the middle of the night to tell him about Kennedy, and we got up and watched the news. Walter Cronkite, of course. And I remember watching Johnson's speech when he announced he wouldn't run again.

Posted by: Slyness | December 29, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I was 16 in 1968. It's a bit surprising to me to look back and see how frightening those events were, because at the time, at that age, it was just the way things were. And in my litle small town, nothing much changed. I was devastated by the assassinations, horrified by the rise of Wallace and Nixon. I was completely with the student demonstraters in spirit, because I couldn't actually join them then. And escaping into the music of the Beatles, the Stones, Cream, Hendrix, Dylan. Most of it has become a blur, or merged in with other years. I do remember watching the Democratic Convention with my parents - what a fiasco. But still, I never felt like the country was falling apart, or that the authorities were in danger.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 29, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, Sorry. I didn't mean intend to impinge your reputation by misspelling >Scots< finding the best use for barley. On the other hand maybe the Irish were the first ones to find the best use for barley.

The recipe for the old fashioned potato soup is very simple. That's why I can make it.
Makes three meals for two people.

I pound of thick sliced bacon, most inexpensive available in the stacked version
Three or four large russet potatoes, they are only 39 cents/lb at Fred Meyer
Two or three medium yellow onions, they are usually 49 cents/lb
One gallon store brand whole milk.
One or two tablespoons of butter. I have tried Can't Believe It's when we didn't have the real stuff but the flavor wasn't the same.
Coarse ground pepper to taste

Set the stack of bacon on the side and cut into one inch squares. Add the bacon to the bottom of a large pot one layer at a time and brown turning once. Retrieve each browned layer with a long handled perforated spoon and drain on paper towels. Allow the bacon grease to accumulate in the pot.

While the bacon is browning, peel the potatoes. Slice into ¾ inch chunks, more or less. When all the bacon has been browned, brown the potato chunks one layer at a time. Retrieve and drain on paper towels.

When the potato chunks are all browned, add the coarse diced onions in the remaining bacon grease and cook until some pieces start to brown. Retrieve and drain on paper towels.

Turn off the element and dump any remaining bacon grease. Return pot to the element and add a couple splashes of red wine and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Turn the element back on to medium high heat and add the bacon potatoes and onion. Pour in the gallon of milk. Stir.

Continue heating and stirring often until the soup shows signs of coming to a boil. Add the butter and pepper and turn down heat to a simmer. Watch often for while to be sure the pot doesn't boil over.

When the heat is under control, clean oil splatters off glasses, have a scotch and take a nap.

Serve in a large bowl accompanied with red wine. Two Buck Chuck cabernet sauvignon is a good choice.

Cover pot and refrigerate. It's better the next day. On the third day add a potato or two the remaining milk mixture.

Posted by: bh | December 29, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Cough cough... since 1968 was way before my time, I'll skip the comments until I read Joel's piece, and maybe even afterwards.

Rainforest thanks for discussing the most important attribute of yoga-- that it is SLOW. This avoids injury and also actually challenges your muscles more as well-- more isotonic.
I learned some yoga when I was 12 with my mom, including the slow breathing cycle, so when I took a yoga class I asked to be in the intermediate class for an asthenga-hatha yoga combination after carefully watching an entire class and being fairly sure I could do part if not all of it.

Asthenga is more a precursor to gymnastics-- in fact, I really think greek gymnastics was based on asthenga. There is a lot of holding of a specific position for 5 slow breath cycles, broken up by jump-throughs (if you are capable of them; if not, just move carefully) to other positions.

Never felt asleep during that kind of yoga. Ready to explode trying to do an originally easy posture for the umpteenth time when my muscles were getting tired, yes, and grateful to get off my feet to the floor exercises, oh yeah.

I've always been surprised at how quickly those first two class improved my flexibility.

However if you're talking hatha yoga and classes that focus more on breathing exercises, I guess I would get a little too relaxed if my heart rate didn't get the occasional kick-up.

I can testify that deep yogic breathing does help control blood pressure and concentration when you're furious.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 29, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I was 18 in 1968, and watched Washington burn on local TV, from Dover Air Force Base. One thing that sticks in my mind is that Sen. Ralph Yarborough of Texas had a lot of on-camera time. He must have been on the Senate's committee to run the District.

A collegue (now retired) who was working at the National Museum of Natural History at the time said that he and everyone else drove home with no problems--it wasn't that kind of riot. And targets for burning were selective. If I remember, Woodward & Lothrop's downtown store wasn't touched, while a competing department store nearby was plundered. It seemed the difference had something to do with each store's treatment of its customers.

It could be worth checking the Post's archives for such details.

And it's wonderful to visit Washington's lively downtown. There's even a sort of clothing version of Ikea (design on the cheap)in the old Woodie's building.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 29, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm just coming out of the kitchen again. We did go to the park, and visited with my dad. Everybody is full, and ice cream served. I have to study for Sunday school tomorrow.

I graduated high school in 1968. The last high school class (segregated). It's a middle school now. I remember when President Kennedy got shot, and all the action after that. I can remember feeling really sad. I did think at one point the country was going crazy, and the riots on television every night added to that fear. One of the things that struck me about the civil unrest was the fact that preachers and religious people couldn't seem to find their voice. And I don't think I ever heard Billy Graham offer any assistance to Black folks. I can imagine he was too busy at the White House.

The people of Pakistan may feel their voice has gone. I hope they don't feel their situation is hopeless. I'm afraid the situation there just opens the door for every "ugly" on the planet. I think asassinations wherever they occur break the collective peace. They allow us to see in that door of chaos. Not good.

Time to study. I'm too full, I hope I don't go to sleep.

Yoki, you're right, don't need to borrow any sad tomorrows, today is more than enough.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 29, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

bh, that recipe for the potato soup sounds delicious. I'm going to try it. Thank you. As simple as it is, I'll figure out a way to mess it up. Probably burn something.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 29, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I loved that store, Woodward and Lothrop! Does it still exists? I used to go to Hechts(?) too. I was in the District when some of that burning was going on. And your are so right, burning was selective. I wasn't afraid much, probably because I was young and didn't realize the danger.

I would not like to live through that again.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 29, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, Woodward & Lothrop (Woodies) and Hecht's are both gone. Woodies closed several years ago, but the Hecht's stores became Macy's just a year or so ago.

Garfinkel's, Kann's... all the old DC department stores are now gone. Anyone remember Kann's and the monkeys they had there?

My mom worked at the Hahn Shoe Store on 14th street when she was in college. I think all the Hahn stores closed years ago, but the storefront on 14th Street is still there with the big "Hahn Shoes" sign on it and everything.

Posted by: TBG | December 29, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Ahhhhhhh, just reading the recipe for the potato soup has started the stomach to growling. I missed lunch today because I was able to get a massage at around that time, and I haven't had one for about 6 months. THAT was a treat!

Cassandra, alas, Woodies is gone, Garfinkels is long gone, and Hechts is now Macys. I loved Woodies, too. I kept a Woodies bag with the logo, just for old times' sake.

1968 -- a great year. I graduated from college and set my sights on the world. Sort of. I ended up down here in my first incarnation in the DC area, worked at various software outfits and then went up to the Philadelphia/South Jersey area for a time before I sent myself to Sweden.

The 60s, while tumultuous, was a fantastic era. I think people generally fail to understand just how remarkable it was to get the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act enacted. Wowie-zowie! That (outside of the great music) had to be the best part of that decade.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | December 29, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh, TBG, I could not walk by Hahn's shoe store without going inside. I was really into shoes at that time, and every time I got paid, Hahn's got their share. All of the old places are gone. I would not recognize Washington now. I worked in many of the hotels in the northeast sector,not far from the train station, before being hired at Chesapeake and Potomac.

Was there a hotel called the Belmont or Belair, a few blocks from Union Station?

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 29, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, this is from Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.

Billy Graham:
He opposed segregation during the 1960s and refused to speak to segregated auditoriums, once dramatically tearing down the ropes that organizers had erected to separate the audience. Graham said, "There is no scriptural basis for segregation. ... The ground at the foot of the cross is level, and it touches my heart when I see whites standing shoulder to shoulder with blacks at the cross." Graham paid bail money to secure the release of Martin Luther King, Jr., from jail during the 1960s civil rights struggle; he invited King to join him in the pulpit at his 16-week revival in New York City in 1957. During that 16-week stint, Graham was heard by 2.3 million listeners, who gathered to hear him at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium and Times Square. King and Graham became friends, with Graham becoming one of the few whites to call King by his birth name "Mike."

Posted by: ot | December 29, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

(taking head out of sand) wha...

I did catch some of the news of Bhuttos assaination but my father in law is someting less than a news junkie. He says ' what does that have to do with me?' and while generally that sort of thing makes me want to pound my head against brick walls, in his case he is probably right. He is soon to be 85 and not in good health, and has never lived outside of his small prairie town. His world is everything within a hundred miles. He is too tired and worn out to worry about more.

Suffice it to say I am out of the loop and will have to work to catch up.

Nice article on the 68 comparison. The biggest difference is the media. Pre 68, the media did not write about some of the things it ought to have written about, and now they write about some things they really shouldn't bother with like anything with the last name Spears.

Mr dr graduated in 68 and I was in 4th grade, but I remember more than he does of those turbulent times. My dad used to answer all my questions about all the stuff I saw on the news. I had a lot of questions and it made a huge impression.

Posted by: dr | December 29, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, ot. I, personally did not see too many people professing to be Christians taking on the cause of Civil Rights. Even those that sympathized with the cause, did it sort of undercover. In the South, not much of that. It was as though people were afraid of standing up for right. Time brings change. Yet some will not be moved by time. Definitely a work in progress. Thanks again for the information.

There was a lot of hate being acted out at the time. The marchers were beaten, hosed, kicked, all sorts of bad things done to them. And because these were peaceful marches, the hate just seemed to pour out. I don't remember seeing Rev. Graham marching with Rev. King. You talk about risking life and limb, boy was that the case then. Even going to church was risky at that time.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 29, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Careful Cassandra when reheating the soup the second and third day. It does tend to burn on the bottom of the pot. It usually takes a putty knife to get the bottom of the pot clean. Soak with detergent, boil and scrape a couple of times.

Posted by: bh | December 29, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Dr. King tried to keep the movement peaceful, but there were others that did not feel that way. They took matters into their own hands. Some of it was hate reacting to hate. And some of it was just protecting themselves. It just wasn't a safe time for African-Americans any where. My parents tried to shield us from what was going on, but television brought those nightly scenes of hosing and violence before our young eyes. I'm sure there were many nights my mother did not sleep well. And so many times our whole family would huddle together, the adults staying up all night.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 29, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering if that recipe can be cooked in the crock pot? I might not burn it up if I use that.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 29, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

I think I've killed the boodle.

Time for bed. It is so warm here. Temps in the seventies. A little rain in the picture.

I hope your night is peaceful and restful. And good thoughts and beautiful dreams lead you into the land of sleep. I've enjoyed talking. I hope the subject wasn't a turn off. Old people tend to remember things from long ago, but can't remember what they left in the other room.

Night, night, boodle.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 29, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse

A crock pot would probably be good. Never tried it that way because we don't have one.

Posted by: bh | December 29, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

G'night Cassandra. I smile thinking about you eating on the floor with your grandsons.

Posted by: TBG | December 29, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

And now the most hyped football game of the century. Of course the century is only six years old. Come on NY keep my Forty Niner's record of fifteen and one intact.

Posted by: bh | December 29, 2007 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Good night Cassandra. I was happy to hear about your day with the grand-boys. However did you get up and down from the floor? My knees would be screaming for days.

Posted by: Yoki | December 29, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

I would call this the most-hyped regular season game I can *ever* remember.

It's certainly the most-hyped three-and-a-half-hour prime-time commercial for the NFL Network, ever, *that'* for sure. And run on competing networks, no less.

On a related note, I mentioned to a friend last week that the NFL Network's player intro Carnival Ride graphic is weird and irritating. The movement and size change (to mimic a perspective change) make it difficult to focus on the players' faces - counterproductive to the purpose of the graphic, rendering the whole thing pointless IMO.

FWIW, the Pats are down 7-3 with 5 minutes left in the first quarter. A good friend of mine predicted a Giants win this evening, and well, it could happen. I'm glad the Giants aren't rolling over, anyway - if the Pats are going to go 16-0 they should have to earn it.

Re. Joel's Outlook piece, I dug this quote: "...the difference between 2008 and 1968 is the difference between needing psychotherapy and requiring a brain transplant."


Posted by: bc | December 29, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Okay, so I have been watching this, like, totally historic football contest. I have learned two important things. First, professional sports really are more exciting when viewed in Hi Def. Second, although I might find it endlessly entertaining to randomly switch between the CBS and NBC simulcasts, my wife, evidently, does not.

Posted by: RD Padouk | December 29, 2007 9:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand. The NFL network is trying to get us to watch it, support it or beg for it by showing us they have Dionne Sanders?

Posted by: TBG | December 29, 2007 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Now 21-16 at the half. That was a nasty finger-poking incident with Wilfork. Gonna cost him some big money.

On the Opinions block on the WaPo home page, where the lede piece is the 10 most widely read op-eds of the year, there is a photo of an atrractive young blond woman. I can find no explanation of who she is or why she is illustrating a Top 10 list which seems to have no connection whatsoever to attractive young blonds. Anybody know who she is and why she's there?

Good piece on 1968/2008, Joel. I need to think some more on it. Without question, 1968 was the most exhilarating, scary, important year of my life.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 29, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "that's"


Posted by: bc | December 29, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Well the Ginints are keeping it interesting. Manning looks as good as I've seen him but we don't get many Ginints games out here.
But the vaulted Ginint's DEs aren't getting to Brady. That could turn the game around after the half time adjustments.

Posted by: bh | December 29, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, isn't she the lawyer from the religious-affiliated law school who had to testify about Gonzalez and the politically-motivated firing of those attorneys?

Posted by: dbG | December 29, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, the answer to that question is because a picture of George Will would scare readers away.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 29, 2007 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Monica Goodling.

Posted by: dbG | December 29, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Goodling, huih? OK, I see that now. So what's she got to do with the op-eds and the top 10 op-ed list? (Other than displacing G. Will; good point, Wilbrod).

I like it that both the Pats and Giants are playing hard and to win; nobody is "resting" anybody.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 29, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Is that Giants fullback named Spatchcock?

Posted by: TBG | December 29, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

AAAAAAH! there's a loud noise for you. Howdy y'all. I finally return to Internet access and have missed: Christmas Day, loot, toil, CookieTown (great pictures, thanks Sirin & TBG), SonofG's birthday (many happy returns), FullMetal Alchemist (yes, ScienceTim, pretty good), The Road to Wellville (yep, RD, T. C. Boyle is among our favorites), mathematics instruction, Bhutto's assassination and resulting conspiracy theories and major motion picture, robot rabbits, Joel's Mom (and thanks for the great Kit), potato soup, memories of 1968 and various sundry miscellany. And mo! Hi mo! Hi Pat!

Internet unobligingly was down Christmas Day, then I was too tired to check on it, then we had a fleeting trip to see the technophobe (no Internet) in-laws in San Antonio. I thought of you, Loomis, but we drove one day, were there two, and drove back today. Barely time to socialize with family, eat at Salsalito's (Mexican restaurant way north on Perrin Beitel) and have a Shipley's Do-Nut. Now we're home, unpacked, the laundry is brewing, and I'm too tired to read Joel's article. I'm really interested in it but want to give it the attention it deserves, and which I now don't have.

I missed the Boodle, was just nervous as a cat about what you'd say about Bhutto etc. It is good to be back.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 29, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I also wondered about that picture, Mudge. Could it be Liz Cheney? She's #1 on the list and also the only woman.

Posted by: pj | December 29, 2007 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Belated snort warning attaches to TBG's 10:07.

Yes, that's him. 3rd round draft choice from the Kwakiutl State University at Potlatch.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 29, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I bet you're right, pj. Of course, the fact that a bunch of us are confused is instructive.

This is a he11uva game, Spatchcok or no Spatchcock. I assume Joel's watching?

I can't believe everyone's favoring the Redskins to beat the Cowboys tomorrow. (But then, I can't believe the Redskins have a shot at the playoffs [not that it will do them any good].)

Welcome home, Ivansmom. Put your feet up. Relax.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 29, 2007 10:23 PM | Report abuse

About that conspiracy movie. Ivansdad says you should cast Jamie Foxx as Condi Rice; he's seen him play the piano.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 29, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I'm astounded that the Redskins are favored by nine points tomorrow. I just don't get that. If (and that's a big if) the Redskins were to be favored, I'd think it would be by one or two points.

Clint Eastwood plays the piano. Maybe he could play Condi Rice in the movie.

Posted by: pj | December 29, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else notice that tonight Manning isn't coming out and waving his arms and wiggling his fingers ala his brother tonight. Seems to just run the play the coach called. Good game so far in so far as keeping my Forty Niners fifteen and one record intact.

Posted by: bh | December 29, 2007 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I think pj is right. Check out the photo to the right.

Monica Goodling is the other wide-eyed blonde.

Posted by: dbG | December 29, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

he missed!

Posted by: b9 | December 29, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

They gave him a Mulligan

Posted by: b9 | December 29, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Yes, he did...and then he caught it! Two of the most incredible back-to-back plays I've ever seen.

And now a 2-point conversion! They lead by 3. Scotty and Bad Sneaks must be goin' crazy.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 29, 2007 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Well.. NOW they are, Mudge.

Posted by: TBG | December 29, 2007 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Nice comeback to Moss on that touchdown. Man, was he open!

Wow!! What a nice pick! Is this game like the Colts/Pats game earlier? The Colts were in charge for a long time in that game and then the Pats turned it on and won.

Posted by: pj | December 29, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse

yannow... this Age of Technology is pretty cool. I'm watching a football game with my friends all over the country and my daughter's online shopping with her best friend, who lives in Panama.

Their relationship hasn't suffered at all since she moved down there two years ago. She's moving back this summer and is excited about buying clothes for more than one season.

Posted by: TBG | December 29, 2007 10:59 PM | Report abuse

An amazing drive. Just amazing.

Welker is such a good player--and he's overshadowed by Moss. But Welker has always been a significant factor.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 29, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Good night, sweet Boodle, and flights of football sing thee to thy rest.

Queso. Fondue.

Posted by: Ivansmom | December 29, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Third and long just doesn't mean much to the Pats. They have the plays and the players that can make eight, nine, ten, or eleven yards at a time and do it several times during a game. It's amazing, indeed.

Posted by: pj | December 29, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

'Night, Ivansmom.

Ya wonder if we're gonna see an on-sides kick? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 29, 2007 11:18 PM | Report abuse

16-0. An extraordinary achievement and congrats to the Pats!

Jeez, when the Dolphins won it all, they beat the Redskins in the Super Bowl. Does this mean the Skins will make it there again? Okay, maybe not.

Posted by: pj | December 29, 2007 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Dem Ginits have always been the Forty Niners downfall.

Posted by: bh | December 29, 2007 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Heckuva game, heckuva season for the Pats.

I'm exhausted. To bed. "Night, all.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 29, 2007 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Congrats, all of you Pats fans out there.

I don't care what Collinsworth says, a 16-0 regular season in the NFL is pretty amazing and a wonderful accomplishment in and of itself.

How many NFL records fell this evening at the hands of the Pats' offense? Most points scored in a season, most TDs thrown by a QB (Brady), most TD catches in a season (Moss), first 16-0 regular season ever, and what else...?

Hmm. I thought Spatchcock was the Giants' backup QB.


Posted by: bc | December 29, 2007 11:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm off to bed, too. I'm fighting a nasty cold and hope to feel a bit better tomorrow.

Sleep well, everyone.

Posted by: pj | December 29, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I thought Spatchcock directed movies like "North by Northwest" and "Psycho" and "The Birds".

Posted by: pj | December 29, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse


What was that term some analysts were using earlier today?


Thank you to the Patriots AND the Giants for ignoring all that and making this an entirely worthy capstone for the Pats' perfect regular season.

Off to bed, so I can regain my strength for the Skins tomorrow.


Posted by: Scottynuke | December 29, 2007 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Cripes, the Washington NFL Franchise is going to need all the strength they can muster tomorrow. I'm saving mine, too.

G'night, all.


Posted by: bc | December 29, 2007 11:49 PM | Report abuse

How come nobody told me there was a football game. Oh, that's right. I don't give a da.. Nothing against the Patriots, but those Dolphins were childhood heroes. Every kid I knew had Miami bedsheets. Just not the same at my age.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 29, 2007 11:57 PM | Report abuse

On another note, as I get ready for bed, an interesting story by David Broder regarding a possible bipartisan political party comprised of both Dem and GOP centrists, featuring Mike Bloomberg as your probable Presidential Candidate...?


Posted by: bc | December 30, 2007 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Broder's story on the incipient "Government of National Unity" movement is probably the biggest domestic story of the weekend, although I don't think a bunch of retired political moderates can have much impact in a political system that feeds on fear, slander, and incredible amounts of money. That said, Mayor Bloomberg would very likely make an outstanding president and he has enough money to run an effective campaign.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 30, 2007 1:08 AM | Report abuse

Historian Eric Foner has an opinion piece in the NY Times about January 1, 1808, the day when a new federal law banning the importation of people into the US to serve as slaves.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | December 30, 2007 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Morning, friends. It is morning, right? Sleep eludes me at this hour. Going to try and read. Got the kids clothes together for church or rather my daughter did. They're finally knocked out.

Yoki, getting up and down was no picnic. I rolled over and took hold of the furniture. My grandson tried to help me up at one point. We did the same thing for the evening meal. I think I'm catching a cold. The weather here is so humid. Like an oven in this apartment.

Glad to hear from you, Ivansmom. I'll bet you won't have any problem sleeping.

Just looked at a wonderful show on CSPAN, the book segment. An author, Cora Daniels, talking about her latest book. This was done in April at a bookstore in New York. A small gathering of African-Americans talking about bling, hip-hop, and dumbing down. I like those book shows. People get to talk about stuff in the books, and what's happening with them on a personal basis in relations to our world.

I'm going to try reading, perhaps I can go back to sleep.

TBG, the eating on the floor made every bone in my body hurt, but being with my grandkids was worth every second of it. I told them in some cultures people do this all the time.

Have a great day, folks. Back to bed for me.

Martooni, I hope you're okay. Morning, Mudge, Slyness, Scotty, and all.*waving*

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | December 30, 2007 1:46 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I hope you got some sleep! That was me, night before last, I think it was after 3 before I finally fell asleep. It makes for tiredness the next day, for sure.

G'morning, all. I'm happy for those of you who care about the Patriots and their season's record. It's quite the accomplishment. Now, in my world, back to basketball...

A mild (41 F) cloudy morning in the mountains. It's supposed to rain today and then be very, very cold on Tuesday. I think I'll go home before it snows.

Posted by: Slyness | December 30, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Jim Hoagland puts religion in perspective:

Posted by: Slyness | December 30, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I'm glad you think those aches from eating on the floor, and I hope you got back to sleep.

Still not sure what to make of the Unity08 party - laudable that these folks want to meet in the center for the good of the country, but I think it's somewhat to naive to believe that anyone can be elected President of these here United States without being a candidate of the GOP or Democratic parties, even with Bloomberg's Billions. Will this meeting send a message to those parties? Unlikely, IMO. They're far more concerned about January and February at the moment.

On a final note, I'll make a modest proposal here for Joel to invoke a nom de plume and write "Dr. Spatchcock's Turkey and Child Care."


Posted by: bc | December 30, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I've posted the Outlook piece as a new kit and will annotate etc. tomorrow. Also I think tomorrow I'll post my predictions for who will win in Iowa and New Hampshire -- not that I actually have the foggiest notion.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 30, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

That was the greatest "meaningless" football game ever, no doubt. I'm starting to think that Tom Brady's pretty good.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 30, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: r248b54o34 | January 23, 2008 1:09 AM | Report abuse

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