Monday, April 30, 2007


Another Saturday night of high cult-chah led us to the subtle comic stylings of Will Ferrell starring in what a former colleague of my spousal-unit might have sub-titled "Poofters on Ice" [his perennial name for certain portions of the Winter Olympics]. In Blades of Glory Ferrell forms a chalk-and-cheese pairing with his totally opposite number, a fair, lithe and easily-bruised Jon Heder, to enter a faux-Olympic event as the first male/male pairs skating team.

The finale takes place in Montréal, where indeed some of the climactic scenes were shot. But Canada provided more than just a location for this film-- without the ground-work of some of Canada's greatest skaters, there would probably be no film at all.

The principal inspiration for Ferrell's outlandish character has got to be none other than Canada's Silver Medal-winning (and Gold Medal deserving) Olympic superstar, Elvis Stojko, the man who proved single-handedly (and perhaps alone in all of history, if things keep on as they are) that being a figure-skating male need not be synonymous with being a puff-sleeved pansy. Elvis packed a great deal into his spandex suits, not least of which was a form and a persona that radiated cojones. A man of singular talent who, knowing he could never compete as one of a corral of pretty-boys, reconfigured the sport to open up a class of his own and cram it full of square shoulders and leather. [costumes by.... his mom.]

The villains of the piece, brother and sister pairs skating team of Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenburg (played by real life husband and wife team of Will Arnett and Amy Poehler), were at least marginally inspired by the sibling ice-dancing team Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay, who, like Elvis (and Toller Cranston before him-- one of the "blue peacock" rather than leather school), skated for Canada and were innovators in their field, sometimes shockingly ahead of their time.

Blades of Glory is another truly dumb-fun way to unwind at the end of a week, and while not as tight and non-stop funny as Ferrell's Talledega Nights, still offered

wonderfully unanticipated si
ght-gags and skewering skating-world satire, and left its audiences well-wrung out with hoots and howls of laughter.

For those of us in the Great White North (and the many adjunct fans in other countries) it was also an opportunity to reflect warmly (from a weird angle) on the fine Canajun-made skating mavericks who left their mark on the Sport of Flings.

Thanks, Elvis.

We miss ya', Hotstuff.

Addendum: Gracias to my Spanish Editrix, for correct spelling of cojones. I definitely did not mean cajones.

Friday, April 27, 2007




Hat-tip: Department of Defense,
via NationalReviewOnline @ "The Tank"]

Monday, April 23, 2007


General David Petraeus, top commander in Iraq, comes to Washington D.C. today just in time for his own show trial. He won’t be participating, of course, because no one involved in the trial is at all interested in hearing anything he has to say. In fact, half the elected representatives who earn make their living in the halls of Congress are uninterested in hearing the General, for fear of a head-on collision with the facts. But I digress.

The show trial is being presided over by Henry “Ratboy” Waxman, another one of California’s famous fruit exports, and the putative subject of the show trial is an investigation into the difference between The Official Story and the facts on the ground regarding the capture of Private Jessica Lynch in Iraq and the death of Corporal Pat Tillman in Afghanistan. These events took place in March of 2003 and April of 2004, respectively.

Misrepresentations and misapprehensions of the Jessica Lynch saga were thoroughly sorted out by the end of 2003, including one perfectly legitimate explanation for the belief that she had engaged in a gunfire exchange (Iraqi radio chatter had been mistranslated). This was all covered in detail by Time Magazine’s December 2003 issue, in an interview in which Lynch herself held that the genuine dangers involved in her rescue did not support the idea that it was all a “stunt.” The same interview correctly concludes that both the opponents and the advocates of the Iraq war had tried to use her as a poster child, and she was firmly resisting the push of either side.

The fact that Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire was established and made public knowledge by May of 2004. Subsequent inquiries have revealed that false reports of the circumstances of his death were in this case deliberate, and promulgated with approval, if not compulsion, by persons high up the chain of command.

So, with their customary forward-looking sense of public responsibility, the reigning Democratic majority within the House of Representatives has commissioned its Oversight Committee to hold hearings into these two matters to finally (FINALLY!!!) get to the bottom of how the false stories came to be (however briefly) The Official Story.

I’m not going to comment on what this absurdly after-the-fact probe could possibly do for the participants closest to the events: the family of the deceased soldier, and the petite survivor. Four-plus years down the road Lynch seems to have adopted a rather different view of the meaning of her misadventure and the government’s role in it than she had at the time. For the Tillman family, time cannot heal the wound from their loss, but their peculiar take on the eternal phenomenon of friendly fire accidents could only have come to birth in the post-Vietnam era.

(And when did this perennial tragedy come to be called “fratricide”? — is this appalling coinage the work of Waxman, the Tillmans, some oily creep from the MSM?)

The important thing to recognize about the timing of this investigation is that it serves one purpose, and one only—a purpose which is not concerned in any respect whatever with obtaining justice or comfort for Lynch or the Tillmans: the purpose of the investigation at this time is to put out the message that when officials from the military or the Bush administration try to put any development in this war in a positive light, they are not to be believed. They are in the business of whitewashing whatever happens, you see, because nothing that happens can ever be good, or successful, or even a baby-step forward in anything resembling progress. The House Oversight Committee hearing into the Lynch and Tillman cases is the advance party for today’s testimony by General Petraeus, and ought more properly be called the David Petraeus Congressional Catch-22 Leg-hold Bear-Trap.

Impatient with the natural unfolding of events in the David Petraeus show-trial, Senate Majority Leader Harry “Vichy” Reid told CNN’s Dana Bash that he has already determined not to believe anything General Petraeus will say in his briefing to Congress—at least anything positive—because he, Harry Reid, knows better, and knows that nothing is working and everything is lost. (YouTube's version of this is edited-- HotAir is where it's at.)

There is not much to say about Harry Reid beyond the fact that he may well be the stupidest man ever to breathe the rarified air of the Senate Chamber—so stupid he doesn’t know when he is making himself look stupid on national television. I have no trouble deploring almost everything that Carl Levin or Chuck Schumer or Mrs. Clinton have to say, but I would never call them stupid people. I might not even call Ted Kennedy stupid. (Let me think about that.) But Harry Reid is just staggeringly stupid. He is also a traitor, by any definition (if it is legally possible for someone with a mental age of about 8 to be guilty of treason).

On the other hand, he could also be a great gift, if only those he has set about to denigrate and destroy would take up against him the cudgels he so kindly provides. [Ha. And then I wake up!] As usual, the Democrats show their hand by making the war in Iraq the most incendiary issue in their arsenal, and then announcing (as they did at first) that they were just too busy to hear from the General how goes the war they unanimously confirmed him to wage.

Apparently they thought better about that, and will now be showing up for the briefing (minus Granny Pelosi), to be at least present in the room while Petraeus speaks (though if they could plug their ears and sing “la-la-la-la…” while he’s talking, they probably would). It’s kind of a shame that the stupidity of their original posture dawned on them at last—we will now miss the delicious prospect of the impression it would have made on the average Amurrican. Lord knows, if we’d waited for the Republicans to shame these people into behaving like adults, we’d have to camp out with lawn chairs and sleeping bags longer than it takes to get Stones tickets.

While on the moderately-hot-seat with Dana Bash, “Vichy Harry” defended his pronouncement that the war is lost by extracting a few words from a comment by General Petraeus to the effect that “the war can’t be won militarily.”

Damn, I bet that felt good— tasted real good in the mouth while it slithered out. He’s been saving it up, and it was a thrill to let it rip.

One problem: you'd have to be really stupid to think that the rest of us are so stupid we don’t recognize when you’re quoting someone out of context, Harry. What the General said was that “military action is necessary…but not sufficient. Stuff that under your tinfoil hat and see if it seeps in. It is noteworthy that this same context-free quotation was embraced by one of Vichy Harry’s brothers-under-the-skin, our friends at English Al-Jazeera.

Two people I do NOT want to be preached at by, thank yew:

Separated at birth??


Don Imus affair

Why doesn't anyone care that he compared the Rutgers Girls B-Ball team to the Toronto Raptors? Where is the outrage? (I think that's an insult to the girls, not the Raptors...but I've received no help on this.)

A Veteran Speaks

here ....and coins a wonderful phrase for the Left-blog-nutroots/Democratic Party/Mainstream Mediac Kabal: America's Axis of Idiots.

A Marine speaks

It was only a matter of time-- folks in the military are supposed to try and keep out of politics while in uniform, but Pat Dollard, a former self-described "Hollywood pimp" [agent] who sold his stuff, self-embedded in Iraq, and started the documentary tape rolling on our "Young Americans", has become a conduit for a couple of Marines blowing off steam at Vichy Harry Reid.

DUCK! INCOMING!!!!! Read it and WHOOP. Money quote:

yeah and i got a quote for that douche harry reid. these families need us here. obviously he has never been in iraq. or atleast the area worth seeing. the parts where insurgency is rampant and the buildings are blown to pieces. we need to stay here and help rebuild. if iraq didnt want us here then why do we have IP’s [Iraqi police] voluntering everyday to rebuild their cities. and working directly with us too. same with the IA’s [Iraqi Army]. it sucks that iraqi’s have more patriotism for a country that has turned to complete shit more than the people in america who drink starbucks everyday.... and the sad thing is after we WIN this war. people like him [Reid] will say he was there for us the whole time.

Sheryl Crow Kicks Butt
I for one am quite willing to buy that Crow was kidding when she opined on the Puffington Host that we should be limiting ourselves to a single square of toilet paper in order to save the planet. You be the judge. Sure it was a joke-- but the point is, mostly when she opens her mouth it's a joke, even if it's not.

The jig is up on Crow's personal hypocrisy, though, once The Smoking Gun got hold of her backstage requirements when on tour with her band. It's the usual giant sheaf of spoiled brat demands, including an alcohol inventory that means, if nothing else, there's going to be enough peeing to go through many, many single squares of TP.

For Once I'm Kind Of With
Alec Baldwin
I could get as disgusted as anyone with Alec Baldwin when I heard the way he savaged his 11-year-old daughter on voicemail-- that is, those brief bits that I heard, because I kept clicking it off every time (and there were many) I ran into it on the tube. It was a revolting [and weirdsmobile] display of what it sounds like when an 11-year-old has a father who's only 7...(even younger than Vichy Harry)

But I can think of something even more damaging than having your father leave a message like that on your phone, and that's having the message played to hundreds of millions of strangers around the world as a news item, either as tawdry gossip or as an opening for self-righteous pundits to lure psychologists
into rank malpractice by publicly analyzing people they've never met.

And the person responsible for that happening can only be Mom-- Kim Basinger. Will somebody please take this kid away from these two morons before she is permanently brain-damaged from being their personal tennis ball? Oh, and let's not forget all the media jerks who, fresh from delivering us the mad ramblings of Crazy Cho, decided to humiliate a little girl for the same reason-- "so we can all take a lesson from...." Right.

Road apples. Meadow muffins. BS.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Solemn ceremonies were held today at Vimy Ridge, France, to mark the taking of a seemingly impregnable German-held position on the battlefields of World War I, by the combined forces of a Canadian army regarded, up until that moment, as a mere colonial adjunct to its British brethren. Most Canadians (who can remember) regard the taking of Vimy Ridge as the birth of Canada as a sovereign nation with a place in the accounting of world affairs.

At the centre of today's ceremonies stood Canada's queen (yes, she still is), Elizabeth II, and her gold-braided prince consort, flanked by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (the best thing to happen to the Canadian military in the better part of 20 years), and Vermin-in-Residence, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villain-pants, whom the Queen greeted graciously, without a hint of awareness that major cooties were being served up.

There are but two Canadian veterans of World War I -- The Great War -- still living (neither of whom served in combat), and Rudyard Griffiths, executive director of the Dominion Institute, wonders whether the rest of Canada is in danger of becoming a "nation of amnesiacs" when it comes to remembering the triumphs and sacrifices of past generations. A question to be asked, about most nations in what we call "the West."

Canadian troops now fighting the Taliban in Af
ghanistan paused to remember the feats of Vimy Ridge today, in the shadow of the death-by-IED of six of their comrades yesterday. And still some fool on CTV blathered on about how "things were different back at Vimy Ridge"-- because "that was total war." Perhaps he should take a closer look at the world map and mark the global reach of decades of Islamofascist terrorism. Tell the people of Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines (just to name a few) that what we face in the 21st century is not a brand of total war. Amnesia indeed.

Some years ago, Belgian musicians began a little "peace movem
ent" of their own based around the extraordinary amount of music which emerged from the Great War-- music that has always been considered a mark of the innocence with which the West entered into that "home-by-Christmas" scuffle, to emerge four years and 20 million dead (military and civilian) later, ushering in an age of desparate decadence and arid disillusionment which T.S. Eliot called a "Wasteland."

The Belgians established the "Peace Concerts Passendale" in 1992, later joined by a contingent of British folk-singers (of my acquaintance-- Coope, Boyes and Simpson), who have continued their participation annually. They have revived interest in remarkable songs and touching recollections that cannot fail to move the listener, and I'm always grateful to hear their work.

If I have a quibble about what these fine folks are up to, it is that deploring the conduct and circumstances of the Great War is basically a no-brainer. Most people who know anything about it are quite ready to pronounce it probably the most foolish and pointless and miserably-commanded war ever fought. (At least that has been the conventional wisdom for much of the last century-- one hears of a few historians who have begun to re-evaluate that position.)

But there is something very facile about automatically projecting the justified condemnation o
f a particular war onto the conduct of all wars everywhere, when the facts and circumstances of history do not suggest a legitimate parallel. Indignation on behalf of an exploited Tommy in 1914 is not reflexively transferrable to other soldiers in all other times and places. Perhaps, if the conventional wisdom is true, one would be hard-pressed to find a legitimate parallel to the Great War anywhere, ever.

There is hardly a voice left now to tell us how it was in 1917 (no Canadian veteran of the taking of Vimy survives). Not so long ago, there were many. Years back, I set down my own recollection of these men. I could never get anyone interested in publishing it (I did try!), but today seems like a
s good a day as any to drag it out again:


Victorians (British Columbia variety) have a number of cute sayings about their city which you pick up if you live there for awhile, as I did in the early 70’s. "Victoria: home of the newly wed and the nearly dead… The place where old people go to visit their parents.”

The epithets are fitting—a lot of people go to Victoria to retire. After the global wars of this century it became a popular choice among the military, with a special attraction for British ex-pats. They found it a little taste of “forever England,” with a mild climate and an abundance of flowers. They could see Union Jacks in every shop window, take High Tea at the Empress Hotel, and be sure of finding like-minded company.

Those of us ensconced at the university had little taste for High Tea and old townies.
But we did occasionally share some of the better watering holes with the locals. It was in one such establishment that we experienced a brief but unforgettable bridging across the generations.

Our spring theatre production was a musical, of sorts. Not the tap-dancing, boy-meets-girl genre, but a bitterly satirical music-hall pastiche about the horrors of World War I, called Oh! What A Lovely War. We went at it with all the zeal of smug twenty-somethings out to teach their elders the folly of their handling of the world, confident that we would have done better had we stood at the edge of that abyss.

The show casts a searing spotlight on the posturing commanders who sit at desks and send teen-aged boys by the
millions into the unspeakable hell of the trenches, while the ordinary citizens of both sides demonize their enemy in identical terms. The stage directions require some device for displaying the mounting body count, like a telethon total board, as the play progresses. But the glue that holds the sketches together is music— the songs that were on every Englishman’s lips throughout the whole ordeal. Some are parodies of popular songs and hymns, but even these parodies date from the wartime period.

They are great songs, perfect for a pub sing-along, like the one we were gearing up for one post-performance night. We hadn’t paid much attention to the table of old “geezers” nearby when we arrived, nor they to us at first—just kids laughing too loudly, as kids will do. But then we started to sing.

Soon one of the old boys turned to watch us.
Then he gestured to his friends, and they too stopped talking and took note. I wondered whether they were going to complain about us, but between songs we saw that they were smiling and offering soft applause. When we acknowledged their appreciation, one of them spoke to us. “You’re so young,” he said. “How do you know our songs?”

It dawned on u
s then that these were veterans of the “war to end all wars.” Far from being annoyed, they were stunned, and touched— we had caused them to sit up a little straighter, proud that what they had endured for their country had not been forgotten. We explained that we had learned the songs from our show about the war. They were delighted, and encouraged us to continue, their lips moving quietly to the words as we sang. Clearly they had never expected such a scene again in their lifetime.

We waved goodbye when the evening broke up; they thanked us for the concert. And I remember that even then, though too young to fully appreciate the meaning of the encounter, I still felt a little ashamed. The only reason we knew “their songs” was because we were engaged in an exercise whose message was that their war, with its incalculable cost, had been a thing not worth doing.

The common soldier actually comes off sympathetically in Oh! What A Lovely War. He is the victim of the grandiose schemes of an officer class which has command over him not because of training or talent, but more likely because the “right” families and the “right” schools gave them the connections to get a commission. The war effort as a whole is seen as a pageant of pointless blundering.But even if that picture were true, could our old drinking companions be anything but wounded by it? I secretly hoped that none of them would make the mistake of coming to our play, only to be handed a rebuke they hadn’t earned.

It was easy for us. We were just young enough to have been marginally touched by the Southeast Asian war which had made patriotism unfashionable. We were arrogant enough to think that the nature and experience of war were somehow different for our generation, that the rules had all changed. We thought our uniquely troubled society had invented “post-traumatic stress disorder” —little realizing that the geezers had called it “shell-shock,” and hadn’t known whether to treat it or punish it.

The old boys of 1970’s Victoria are gone now, sleeping under that abundance of flowers that still blesses the city. The next generation of old boys are my father’s age, the veterans of the second war—a war more sensibly conducted, in a more noble cause, but with every bit as complex a human story behind the maps, movies, and capsule histories. It is our task to teach succeeding generations that some things are worth fighting for, but that not every ideological or territorial dispute is fated to degenerate into killing. When armed conflict seems unavoidable, however, the “brass” are duty-bound to see that those burdened with the horrible front-line task of taking the lives of others are not left to feel ashamed of the part they played.

If the doughboys thought it was a long way from Tipperary to France, it was even longer to Victoria. And how surprised they were to find that, more than 60 years later, the home fires were being kept burning by a bunch of university kids in a pub. I hope none of them ever discovered that we were using their songs to bring the judgement of history freshly down upon them. They didn’t deserve that. They did deserve to be moved by what they saw as our tribute to them. And they deserve whatever honour it gives them that a bridge built across the generations for half an hour in a pub still moves me, to this day.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


This just in, from my email inbox:

Do NOT mess with Sister, buster.

Monday, April 02, 2007


When did it all go belly-up?
, you were wondering one day.

My friend David Warren sends me his latest column for the Ottawa Citizen, which contains the answer. He p
inpoints the date as August 10, 1969 ("That's one small step for [a] man...."), and the documentary proof is in his high school yearbook.

I emailed him back with my thoughts on the subject, and, well, they were just so damned insightful I figured they must be shared with th
e rest of the world. (Thanks to all eleven of you.)

Sir: [that's Warren]

I think you have nailed the year quite well. I enrolled in a Catholic girls' high school in 1966. At that time it looked pretty much as it always had, staffed by the local branch of the Holy Names (Montreal-based order, thriving in Oregon) which had also staffed my elementary school and many others, as well as running their own women's college, site of their blossoming novitiate. I had never wanted to attend [name of school, which shall remain nameless], and had begged my parents to let me go to a new De La Salle school (with boys) but they refused.

When I returned for sophomore year in the fall of 1967, the nuns had taken their first step towards being part of the "new church" by doffing both their elaborate traditional head-gear (in favour of the "hankie veil") and their "names in religion". Sister Magdala Mary was now Sister Debbie if she wanted to be. [names fictionalized but characters real] At [the school] I had followed my elder sister, who had made a name for herself in many noble pursuits which I was convinced I would never live up to. During my second year I was followed by my cousin, who also made a name for herself in many noble pursuits-- and all I wanted was to get out of there and join my friends back in the suburbs at the local public monster-institution. My parents finally relented, urged on by the sight, on a parents' night at the girls' school, of a banner across one of the classroom blackboards which read "God is a marshmallow."

Two years later (1970) during my first year of college I met one of my fellow [the school] drop-outs, who told me the tale of having been in a (fortunately unconsummated) romance with her married drama teacher at her new public school, which had emotionally devastated her and turned a sweet girl very cynical. Although she had left [the school] the same year I did, she had continued to take [nameless instruction] from Sister Debbie, in whom she had confided about her miserable lovelorn situation. The nun's sage advice to the 17-year-old? "Maybe he'll get a divorce." That was around 1969.

Within another year the nuns had, on the whole, chosen to doff their habits entirely (not going nude of course, as far as I know, but donning the equally identifiable uniform of the the polyester dress and blazer), and move into downtown apartments in small clusters...

I knew it was all but over when I ran into my favourite nun on the street in my college town-- a worldly and probably somewhat liberal woman who had been in her twenties and engaged when she decided to "enter", and was therefore much more sensible and clued-in than almost any of her comrades. She had been, as I understood it, the last to want to give up the habit, the community life, and her name in religion..., but there she was walking in front of my apartment doorway in a maroon velveteen pantsuit. She had not left the convent -- it had left her. I tripped on the sidewalk and landed on my knees.

The complete, and apparently overnight, implosion of the great teaching orders and their historic mission to parish schools has always been one of my major markers for the triumph of the revolution, and something of a mystery. Or so it was until I read Ann Carey's Sisters in Crisis: The Tragic Unraveling of Women's Religious Communities... It is a jam-packed book in desparate need of a brutal editor...but I will credit it for explaining (at great and repetitious length) exactly how and why the American sisterhood went kami-kaze. And you can certainly lodge those events, at least as I experienced them, in the festering heart of 1968-70.

I did go to the local public high school in the fall of '68, by the way. And by the spring of '69 even that whitebread and well-moneyed campus had begun its interior crumble. The long-established dress-code was removed as a result of student activism; the "fascist" vice-principal had to transfer his energies from calling the police about Minors in Possession of Tobacco (still a misdemeanour then) and dealing with the cloud of marijuana in which many students were living; an underground newspaper was trumpeting that "Nixon is A-BM" and "napalm is war-gasm"; and the annual May Fete crowning was serenaded with the theme song, "This is the dawning of your sensitivity" (to the appropriate tune from HAIR).

There are many reasons for most people not to be the least nostalgic about their high school days-- certainly for those of us who had nothing in common with "the cool kids". But I have often reflected on how little we understood about just how wretched a time that was for the well-being of the universe. On the other hand, kids in my second high school were still subject to the military (Vietnam) draft (most in our neighbourhood would have the convenience of a college deferment, but not all), so there was a fairly grave reality check driving some of what was happening. And we graduated, and looked forward to college, just a month or so after the Kent State shootings. So I suppose that's an excuse of sorts for taking oneself more seriously than 18-year-olds deserve.

Unfortunately, we are now witnessing the ascendancy of that Kent State generation in power-- the kids who became "cool kids" in 1969 were not the traditional sort who quarterbacked the football team and dated the cheerleader, but the sort who ran the student government and took on the system from within. (I believe that's also the year a high-school kid got himself elected President of our newly-minted parish council!!) They got so full of themselves, so fast, that they lived out one of the truly revolutionary inversions of all time: they actually ENJOYED HIGH SCHOOL (dear God!), and wanted it to last forever-- and they are now fulfilling that dream as they run the American congress, and probably substantial hunks of the EU and the UN.

I remember the moon landing well. I don't remember associating it with "the end of all things"-- we probably thought it was the beginning. I guess one implies the other.

Thanks for helping me get ready for Good Friday, dude.
By the way, saw 300 last night. (First time men have had to show their chests in order to get a movie role! A veritable warehouse full of six-packs. Leonidas channelled Mel Gibson, the movie channelled everything Gibson ever made except Passion of the Christ.)

Husband walked out with about 30 minutes to go-- couldn't take the schlock any more. I was willing to go with the appropriately artwork-style super-heroic depictio
n for awhile, but groaned as it descended into soap-opera 90's-guy senstivity. A Spartan sobbing about his dead kid that "I never told him I loved him best!" BARF! BARF! BARF! What was Victor David Hanson thinking!

This is a footn
ote to the above reflection insofar as the decadence attributed by the movie to the Persians inspired but one thought in me: that's us. Spring break at Myrtle Beach.