Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Magic Adventures


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 28, 2012 8:57 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Concert: Loreena McKennitt -- Nights from the Alhambra

September, 2006
1. The Mystic's Dream
2. The Mummer's Dance
3. The Old Ways
4. Dante's Prayer
5. The Dark Night of the Soul
6. The Bonny Swans
7. The Lady of Shallot


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 28, 2012 12:50 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Favorite Shoes: Better Than New | Re-crafting the Red Wing 875

2005 Red Wing 875 Before

One of life's many small pleasures is the pleasure that comes from a apir of fine shoes or boots once they are perfectly broken in. One of life's many small problems is that by the time the perfectly broken in state is reached with most shoes and boots those items of footwear are just about worn out.

Michael Williams @ A Continuous Lean knows how important it is to keep the shoes you love in your life. Especially after six years of breaking them in. Here's his fascinating photo-essay on refurbishing his Red Wing 875

"My love of Red Wing began early one Saturday morning when I was thirteen years old. My father came into my room and woke me up and drove me to the Red Wing store in my hometown on the East Side of Cleveland to get my first pair of work boots..... In 2005 I picked up the pictured pair of 100 year anniversary 875s at the Red Wing work store in my hometown. Back in ’05 I was living in New York and was no longer harnessing the wonders of hydraulics to smash things (professionally anyway), but I still loved wearing my Red Wings. Eventually my 875s needed to be redone and I shipped them straight back to the factory in Minnesota. ... The process is pretty significant as you can see from the photos below. The truly amazing part of this process is, the boots come back literally better than new."

2005 Red Wing 875 After

For the other 27 stages of refurbishment: THE FULL ESSAY IS HERE.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 25, 2012 12:40 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
When it comes to our current putrid politics I have to keep reminding myself...

of one simple truth:

Now this... this.... is more like it:

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 24, 2012 10:47 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Schmuck Trek: How the Republican Primaries Will Come to Imitate Critical Moments from "Ghostbusters"

First we shall see the Rise of the Newter. This will be the naturual result of a simple qwest for a more nutritious conservative food than Romney burgers.

Then we shall hear of the disaster of nominating Mitt: In a word "Biblical."

And then.... finally we shall hear of the final prophecy of Gingrich the Traveller fulfilled:

"Gingrich the Traveler. He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him: that of a giant Slor! Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!"

All of which will continue until the Republican Keymaster finds the Republican Gatekeeper, which in 2012 can only mean a Palin Paul ticket:

With the magic of the Palin | Paul ticket launched into the American mainstream, it will be time to go forth and confront the waiting Democrat monster:

"I tried to think of the most harmless thing... something from my childhood.... something that could never, ever possibly destroy us...."

What could possibly go wrong?

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 23, 2012 3:56 PM | Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
This Just In


File Under: "Be careful what you wish for."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 23, 2012 9:12 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Just when you've about given up on American politicians....

Wise, inspiring, and full of grace. Take a moment.

"Arizona is my home, always will be. A lot has happened over the past year. We cannot change that. But I know on the issues we fought for we can change things for the better. Jobs, border security, veterans. We can do so much more by working together. I don't remember much from that horrible day, but I will never forget the trust you placed in me to be your voice. Thank you for your prayers and for giving me time to recover. I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week. I'm getting better. Every day, my spirit is high. I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country. Thank you very much."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 22, 2012 12:59 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Hailush:" New Form of SnowRain Identified in Seattle

aoobleck.jpgThere's an old hoax concerning Eskimos and their hundreds of words for snow. Like all good hoaxes it sounds right, especially to those who don't know much about the Inuit. But it still is wrong. It is a myth.

I am, however, undaunted by the failure of the Inuit. I am working on compiling hundreds of words for rain. All derived from careful and miserable observation here in Seattle. Especially in light of the severe snow pasting received yesterday which is today followed up by the latest variation of snorain, a variation so unique that it calls out for its own word.

My newest word is "Hailush." This is a fat blob of moisture that contains all the qualities of hail and slush at the moment it strikes you right between the eyes. Think of a "Hailush" storm as thousands of wet melting snowballs about a quarter of an inch in diameter pelting you without mercy. That's "Hailush" -- pronounced "hail - ooosh." (Rhymes with "WTF?!")

The closest relative to Hailush in literature is, of course, "Ooblek" from the Dr. Seuss classic "Bartholomew and the Oobleck."

Oobleck does share some of the properties of Hailush. As we learn in the sacred text of Dr. Seuss, Oobleck
"Won't look like rain.
Won't look like snow.
Won't look like sleet.
That's all we know."

Well, I'm here to tell you that Oobleck, once you drift its properties down close to freezing, looks and feels a lot like Hailush.

Now you might think Hailush, like Oobleck, is a myth. But I'm here to tell you that the only myth currently on display here in Seattle is the Myth of Global Warming. And yes, my little Gore-Aid drinkers, I recognize that one winter doth not make a trend. But until your "settled science" is a bit more settled, would you please stop sending your brainwashed children around to my door collecting signatures and donations to the frigtarded Sierra Club so that we can save the planet? There's been three in the past month.

The next one to ring the bell is going to get a pail full of Hailush!

Posted by Vanderleun Jan 19, 2012 11:06 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Quest to Replace Joe Biden in 2012 Reaches Its Obvious Conclusion


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 18, 2012 9:22 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Too Black to Fail:" Juan Williams and the Race Card Played Two Ways


Last night, because he's infected, Juan Willliams indulged himself in, as Morgan puts it, GoodPerson Fever;

["an obsessive-compulsive disorder involving the demonstration of certain positive attributes to strangers, for purposes of self-validation. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle if these positive attributes don’t really exist, or if there is a great need to achieve this validation for purposes of acquiring social status, contrasted with a much lower level of confidence that these attributes really exist."].
Williams did this by whipping out the extra-large race card he carries in and trying to lay it on Newt Gingrich. Morgan notes:
"We’ve got all these ninnies just like Juan Williams, running around everywhere, and even worse still they are disproportionately represented in the hallways of power. Every decision made has to be absolutely non-offensive, and that includes the decisions of others, about matters well outside of their purview, and so they end up excoriating strangers for violating the Could Be Construed As standard. In other words, they get offended on behalf of other people, people who exist only in theory and might very well not exist at all in reality."

Unlike previous uses of the race card, last night didn't work out for Williams in the manner he's used to. Here's Williams being used like a hand puppet by Newt last night:

Elements of both sides will note this is "the playing of the race card" by Williams followed by the playing of it "right-back-at-cha" by Gingrich. Those elements and others will, from time to time, bemoan the fact that race is playing a role in the election. This ritual "bemoanment" is, to my mind, nothing more than the standard beclownment that both sides indulge in these days.

I suppose that the politically correct stance, one that you will see the president and his critics take at every moment they are not busy playing the race card, is that race has nothing to do with the election of 2012. This is, as everyone knows in their secret lives, utter nonsense. Besides the fact that race seeps into every substantive political issue in America (Hey, that's just how we roll.), it is going to be honed especially keen in the 2012 presidential run. Whether it will be used as a rapier or a machete has yet to be determined.

In the baldest possible terms you are going to be seeing a contest that will pit black against white. Since one hue is already decided the only remaining question is "how white?" Both sides will, officially, be doing all they can to insist that this is not an issue and both will not mind terribly if it is.

On the Obama side, he needs to cling, bitterly it may be, to a phalanx of voters who are not African-American in order to win. He can do this with love, with agreement, with fanaticism, and/or with guilt. Of these, the largest segment he can call on would be that powered by guilt. Knowing this the Obama machine can be counted on never to really let up on the "they hate him not because of the content of his character but because of the color of his skin." This will only get them so far, but combined with other factions, it may get them just far enough for Obama 2.0.

The reason white guilt may still be enough to drag Obama over the goal line is because the Obama Administration for these last few years has not been just about Obama and Progressivism. It has been about the entire African-American Affirmative Equality Project [AAAEP].The AAAEP has been a looming part of the American landscape for over 50 years and is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Put simply, as the leader of the AAAEP brand Obama -- no matter how much his ideas and policies fail and fail utterly -- is, himself, too black to fail. A failure on Obama's part implies, irrevocably, a failure on the part of AAAEP even though that would not be, by any stretch of the imagination, true. In a very real sense, since this is politics, the truth is irrelevant to the impression. The impression would be all that matters. Needless to say, a lot of white people -- as well as nearly all African Americans -- would be quite upset by such a verdict from history. Upset enough to be willing to say and do almost anything to keep it from happening.

A very small sign that this is the case is present above in the behavior of Juan Williams, an African-American with a Hispanic name, who --regardless of how shabbily the progressives have treated him in the last few years -- seems compelled to use the racial ugly stick upside Newt Gingrich's albino head. Poor Juan can do nothing other. He's a captive of his race and his time. As are the rest of the elements of the 2012 Presidential Race.

When it comes to Mitt Romney we already have seen the beginning of the coming tsunami of articles and opinions about his overwhelming whiteness. The opening salvo came a few days ago in an extended New York Times meditation on the whiteness of the Mitt. In a very real sense, Romney's the Moby Dick of Republican candidates and the whiteness of the Mitt will launch a thousand whaleboats with ten thousand tattooed Maori harpooners in the bows.

At the end of the day it's going to be Moby Mitt vs. Too-Black-To-Fail. Any way you look at it, it's going to be a wild ride and civility is going to have nothing to do with it. The only civil thing about the whole uncivil process will be how closely the principles stay to the first principle about the 2012 election: No matter how much it may be about race, you aren't allowed to say it has anything at all to do with race.

Got that. Good. On with the show.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 17, 2012 5:54 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Cowardly Captain of the Costa Concordia: They Don't Call Him "Schettino" for Nothing

And, as the sun sets slowly on western civilization....

This is a translated transcript of a conversation in Italian between the commander of the cruise lines (Port Authority) and the "Captain" of the wrecked cruise liner who has, it seems, been one of the first off the ship. Port Authority is none too pleased with this and is having none of Shittino's ... er... Schettino's excuses:


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 17, 2012 2:33 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Ant and the Grasshopper


Mail from one of my oldest friends this morning brings this update of an ageless fable.


Posted by Vanderleun Jan 17, 2012 1:56 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Comment of the Week So Far: "You know how you can tell that 'everyone wants freedom' is baloney?"

"You know how you can tell that "everyone wants freedom" is baloney?....


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 16, 2012 1:25 AM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Conservatives Remain the Largest Ideological Group in U.S." (And, of Late, the Dumbest) [Bumped]


Gallup has some news that should be reassuring -- Conservatives Remain the Largest Ideological Group in U.S.

Political ideology in the U.S. held steady in 2011, with 40% of Americans continuing to describe their views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal.

It "should be reassuring" if only many of those online that pass themselves off as "conservative" weren't currently demonstrating to all and sundry that, like too much perfectionism, too much conservatism is a mistake.

Yes, nothing is damaging the "Conservative Brand" lately more than the rolling stupidity that is lumping itself around the failure of the Republicans to come up with a viable candidate that is more "Conservative" than Mitt Romney. This "failure", which was predictable as long as four years ago, is causing many online 'conservatives to drop into premature political menopause with whining, hot flashes of anger, and the grinding of dull, old, axes. They are pissed, it would seem, because nobody other than Romney can carry the fight to Obama in the coming election. The more demented among them are declaring, shades of McCain/2008, that they will take their retracted balls and go home on election day rather than vote against Obama.

These people are deeply stupefied and confused. Ideology will do that to you. They seem to think, to actually believe, that this coming election is about only voting if you can vote for a candidate you like. Let me disabuse these kids of this silly notion right away. The election of 2012 ain't a conservative popularity contest. It's a war to, first, last, and always, destroy any possibility of a second term for Barack Hussain Obama.

This is not a "Vote-For" election. This is a "Vote-Against" election. This is not a "Sit-It-Out-And-Pout" election. This is a "Get-Obama-Out" election. That is what it is about and that is all it is about.

If people can't understand, at this point, that very simple concept their minds are much too simple to be conservatives and they might as well go off and sit at the kiddy table and write in "Vermin Supreme" with a blunt pink crayon.

If true conservatives want to have a truly conservative candidate in a truly conservative party they will have to commit to the long march. You know, "the long march" like the one the left took through out political, academic, religious, and media institutions. The one they spent decades on. The long hard road to political supremacy. The one that takes work and money.

That's the one thing I don't see erstwhile conservatives actually doing from election to election. Instead they run their lives and their businesses off on the side and they show up every three years or so to watch the little red hens of politics take the nomination away from their conservative flavor of the week.

The way the Republican party is set up in the primary system means that to even have a shot at winning it you have to be running for it years and years and years before the actual elections. That's what Romney's been doing. That's the game and he's got the pieces in place to win it. You may not like it, but, hey, change it or play it.

But if you're beat because your "choices" are late to the party like Perry, or not really in it to win it like Newt, don't start blaming Romney the little red hen.

It's just not dignified to hold your breath, stamp your feet, and threaten to take your retracted balls and go home.

So suck it up and remember this: This is not a "Sit-It-Out-And-Pout" election. This is a "Get-Obama-Out" election.

Go now, my conservative friends, and sin no more.


[Greetings InstaPunditeers! Check out the vast elsewhere here so that we can put a quake in your quaker, some shake in your shaker, and a rock in your sock!]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 15, 2012 11:03 AM | Comments (119)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Lux Aurumque - The Concordia Choir

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 15, 2012 1:48 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Before the Fall: Once upon a time, gods walked the earth playing guitars.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 14, 2012 10:08 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
This Just In from the Civil War: The Confederate Submarine H.L.Hunley Has Risen Again

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.  | Confederate Civil War vessel H.L. Hunley, the world's first successful combat submarine, was unveiled in full and unobstructed for the first time on Thursday, capping a decade of careful preservation.

"No one alive has ever seen the Hunley complete. We're going to see it today," engineer John King said as a crane at a Charleston conservation laboratory slowly lifted a massive steel truss covering the top of the submarine.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 12, 2012 9:48 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mercedes: Smart Cars. Stupid Executives.

The chairman doubled down with: "Some colleagues still think that car-sharing borders on communism," said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Mercedes-Benz during his first keynote at CES in Las Vegas while discussing the company's CarTogether initiative in front of a giant image of Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara. "But if that's the case, viva la revolucion!" -- Media - Variety

OOPS! There's just something so German about idolizing a mass murderer:


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 12, 2012 5:52 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Mole

Yeah. Right.: "As a Reagan Republican it frankly never occurred to me..." Newt is now out-Mitting Mitt

Control: We have a rotten apple, Mitt.

Control: [to Romney] There's a mole, right at the top of the Republican Circus. And he's been there for years.

If you've seen the new remake of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in the last few weeks, you've seen the last few weeks of the Republican Party's endless quest to shoot itself. After all, the party has not just nurtured a single spy but a whole festering nest of spies and turncoats in its upper reaches for decades. Indeed if you have any position at all in the Republican Party you are, in essence, a stealth Democrat.

Proof? Cast your eyes on the survivors of the run for the presidential nomination. Got it?


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 12, 2012 12:21 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lord Macaulay on American Institutions and Prospects, 1860


From the Southern Literary Messenger. | Published: March 24, 1860 [Emphasis added]

Dear Sir:
You are surprised to learn that I have not a high opinion of Mr. JEFFERSON, and I am surprised at your surprise. I am certain that I never wrote a line, and that I never, in Parliament, in conversation, or even on the hustings -- a place where it is the fashion to court the populace -- uttered a word indicating an opinion that the supreme authority in a State ought to be intrusted to the majority of citizens told by the head; in other words, to the poorest and most ignorant part of society. I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty, or civilization, or both.

In Europe, where the population is dense, the effect of such institutions would be almost instantaneous. What happened lately in France is an example. In 1848 a pure Democracy was established there. During a short time there was reason to expect a general spoliation, a national bankruptcy, a new partition of the soil, a maximum of prices, a ruinous load of taxation laid on the rich for the purpose of supporting the poor in idleness. Such a system would, in twenty years, have made France as poor and barbarous as France of the Carlovingians. Happily the danger was averted; and now there is a despotism, a silent tribune, an enslaved Press. Liberty is gone; but civilization has been saved. I have not the smallest doubt that, if we had a purely Democratic Government here, the effect would be the same. Either the poor would plunder the rich, and civilization would perish; or order and property would be saved by a strong military government, and Liberty would perish.

You may think that your country enjoys an exemption from these evils. I will frankly own to you that I am of a very different opinion.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 12, 2012 12:09 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Sippican says this is: "Like holding a bus station microphone up to a Hiroshima bomb. It's a Rocket 88 running from the law of averages with the lights off. A hive of angry bees sliced thin with a meat-packer's blade. Mount Vesuvius with the knob set to simmer. A club of off-duty arsonists lighting a Lucky Strike with a flare. A Big House rent party supreme. A Buddha made from a bucket of mud, a gallon of process, and a half-ton of lightning."

That's not even the half of it.... but it's a great start to introducing.... Muddy Waters!


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 12, 2012 11:19 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"LISTEN!:" When Poetry Mattered

Presented for your consideration, a two minute slice of what listening to poets who meant what they said and said what they meant must have been like over 1,000 years ago.

These are the opening lines of the oldest English epic poem*, Beowulf, declaimed in the style popular at the time of their origins. Beowulf, written in England, but set in Scandinavia has variously been dated to between the 8th and the early 11th centuries. Take two minutes to listen to this vanished art brought back to fitful life.

The clip begins in an intentionally disarming fashion which, I think, helps us to make a leap of imagination from the present day to the night gatherings around bonfires and flickering torches in which these tales of love and death were told. Attending what can only be a recreation of these arcane styles of declamation seems an effete ritual these days. I'd submit it seems so only because we have grown so used to "all-entertainment all-the-time everywhere," we cannot imagine the impact of these original entertainments when they were the rarest thing in a human life bounded by works and days.

Part story, part panegyric, part worship, the reciting of an epic was an event that could span days, even weeks. How the earliest bards held all of the poem in memory is still somewhat of a mystery, but the rhetorical structure of the poem, known set-pieces played much as jazz would be played centuries later, and various methods of loci, or "Memory Palaces" probably all played a role. No matter how it was done, the fact that it could be done with Beowulf, which runs to nearly 3,200 lines remains impressive. Other epics loom larger than that.

And it wasn't enough to declaim the epic, you had to provide a few musical bridges, many voices, and a lot of acting. For this reason, as well as their rarity, Bards were held in high esteem. Later poets would try, on paper at least, to recapture this sort of esteem but, except for a period in Soviet Russia, poets and poetry have fallen on hard times in recent centuries, becoming an art esteemed slightly above slip mold ceramics.

"I don't get no respect" is a common plaint of our contemporary "poetic" poets attached to their various academic sinecures like stunted embryos on withering umbilicals. About once every twenty years, you'll hear the barbaric yawps of spoken word poets try to cut their way through the petrified forests of the groves of academe, but most are quickly subsumed back into the dusty compost of poetasters and poet poseurs.

The Beats had a run at it in the 1950s, but slumped back into their own comfy berths in the spiritual opium dens of what used to be the "counter-culture." Now the well-codified hipster poet is content with his underwritten "job for life." The Beats went on the road with a Howl but have ended in the cul-de-sac of Maya Angelou.

The "singer-songwriter" poets of the late 1960s / early 1970s had their run powered by the advent of Bob Dylan, who still can impress when he comes to work. But money changes everything and most of them soon vanished into Hotel California.

Currently, there's a craze for Poetry Slams that manages to produce some arresting, if forgettable, work in an environment more conducive to what was once "a battle of the bands." At this time, Slams are touted as "bigger than ever," a sure sign this phenomenon, famous for having fewer formal rules than Rap, has passed its peak.

Ah, but then there is Rap, you say. And in a sense you'd be right since Rap certainly fulfills the aspect of declamation and can even gesture towards length. It is also energetic in terms of its heavy reliance of percussion and a vocal range from shouting to shrill. Rap also benefits from scenting itself with Eau de Hood and delivers a simulacrum of the real. But Rap has been heavily ossified for well over a decade and may soon find itself with more than its share of petrified forests and post-mortum effects. It's hard to imagine people in more than a thousand years gathering to hear some android with an attitude running the changes of Wu-Tang Clan's Forever.

You'd think -- with the advent of the Internet and the much heralded (Global) (Hive) Mind -- it would be easy to jump start epic poetry again as a major art form, but you'd be wrong. One element is missing from the mix of low barriers to entry, cheap recording and distribution, and an audience in the millions for any sort of dreck that manages to be cranked out from the star-making machinery. Poetry today has everything it needs for an epic to bloom except the ability to declaim in the affirmative voice.

Poetry today is, for the most part, deeply embedded in the secular culture, and there is no affirmative available to that culture, since the affirmative depends on a belief in something other than, larger than, the self. Today's denial of the spirit and celebration of the now and the now alone blocks any ability to sound the affirmative, to strike the strings that soul sing, and higher sing. It's the solution that Wallace Stephens sought but could never attain, as he notes in The Man with the Blue Guitar

I cannot bring a world quite round,
Although I patch it as I can.

I sing a hero’s head, large eye
And bearded bronze, but not a man,

Although I patch him as I can
And reach through him almost to man.

If to serenade almost to man
Is to miss, by that, things as they are,

Say it is the serenade
Of a man that plays a blue guitar.

Poetry can't matter as it once mattered because the base ground of being has been yanked out from under the culture, leaving it stranded in mid-air, unable to ascend, having only the fall before it.

Still, we can hear the echoes of what that more heroic and poetic age must have been like, at least at festival time, in the brief two minutes in the clip above. In a way, it's a good thing that it is only two minutes. Most can spare that but would find themselves at sea if anything much longer would be required of them.

As the poet says, "Humankind cannot bear / very much reality."

(HT: Myth & True Myth @ Belmont Club)
*Oldest in the sense of an epic poem, not a collection of songs as in The Book of Taliesin.

Republished from May 2009 because "All the news just repeats itself / Like some forgotten dream that we've both seen"

Posted by Vanderleun Jan 3, 2012 4:50 AM | Comments (27)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Being Prepared: A Man, a Plan, a Gun and a Knife (Passer-by shoots out window, rescues children from upside-down car in icy Utah river)

Who says there's no good news? Who says heros are not always with us?


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jan 2, 2012 11:11 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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