Friday, January 30, 2009

Cheech and Chong Reunite

They're playing Radio City Music Hall tomorrow night.
Cheech Marin is 62 and Tommy Chong is 70.

Here they are in "Up In Smoke" (1983).

"An Imploding Caste of Spoiled Harpies"

Blog Charts Woes of Dating Wall Street Bankers

The story of the women who date the former Masters of The Universe has become something of a sensation, according to Reuters.

And, in a related story:

Hundreds Seek Escape From Cold, Dark Homes.

Free Speech For Me, But Not For Thee

From the safety of the Sullivan decision, the New York Times casts doubt on the First Amendment rights of mere mortals.
One of the misconceptions that muddle the West’s debate over Islam and free speech is the idea that people should be totally free to insult. Free speech is never that absolute. Even — or perhaps especially — in America, where citizens are protected by the First Amendment, there are certain words and opinions that no civilized person would utter, and others that open the speaker to civil charges.
Insult? I guess they didn't read Maureen Dowd's columns about Sarah Palin last fall.
Caribou Barbie?
Maybe what they mean is that you should not insult Islam?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Such A Bargain!

Embattled Billionaire Sells Mansion To His Wife ...for $10

Housing prices are falling around the country, but this one sounds hard to believe: A seaside mansion on Jupiter Island in Florida, bought for more than $13 million five years ago, was just sold for $10. That’s right, 10 bucks.

But in this case, the transaction is likely to raise eyebrows for reasons other than the price.

The seller, according to county records, was Richard S. Fuld Jr., the former chairman and chief executive of Lehman Brothers. The buyer was his wife, Kathleen.

The motivation is unclear, but Mr. Fuld has been under intense scrutiny since Lehman declared bankruptcy in September.

The longtime leader of the brokerage firm is at the center of a federal investigation into whether Lehman executives misled investors about the state of the company. And he was grilled by lawmakers at a Congressional hearing in October.

Mr. Fuld said in sworn testimony before a Congressional panel last year that while he took full responsibility for the debacle, he believed that all his decisions “were both prudent and appropriate” given the information he had at the time.

The couple jointly bought the home in Hobe Sound, Fla., for $13.75 million in March 2004, and the sale to Mrs. Fuld on Nov. 10 was first reported by

It is possible that he is now transferring properties because of his fears of investor lawsuits or a possible bankruptcy, lawyers in Florida said.

“This is the oldest trick in the books” said Eric S. Ruff, a lawyer with Ruff & Cohen in Gainesville, Fla. “It’s common when you hear the feet of your creditors approaching to divest yourself.”

From the NYT.

It's The Economy, Girlfriend!

The economic crisis came home to 27-year-old Megan Petrus early last year when her boyfriend of eight months, a derivatives trader for a major bank, proved to be more concerned about helping a laid-off colleague than comforting Ms. Petrus after her father had a heart attack.

For Christine Cameron, the recession became real when the financial analyst she had been dating for about a year would get drunk and disappear while they were out together, then accuse her the next day of being the one who had absconded.

Dawn Spinner Davis, 26, a beauty writer, said the downward-trending graphs began to make sense when the man she married on Nov. 1, a 28-year-old private wealth manager, stopped playing golf, once his passion. “One of his best friends told me that my job is now to keep him calm and keep him from dying at the age of 35,” Ms. Davis said. “It’s not what I signed up for.”

They shared their sad stories the other night at an informal gathering of Dating a Banker Anonymous, a support group founded in November to help women cope with the inevitable relationship fallout from, say, the collapse of Lehman Brothers or the Dow’s shedding 777 points in a single day, as it did on Sept. 29.

In addition to meeting once or twice weekly for brunch or drinks at a bar or restaurant, the group has a blog, billed as “free from the scrutiny of feminists,” that invites women to join “if your monthly Bergdorf’s allowance has been halved and bottle service has all but disappeared from your life.”

There's more! (If you can stand it.) From the NYT.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin announced that they would compete for the overall win in the LeMans 24-hour race in June, exactly fifty years after the firm's DB-1 race car won the same race.

Me? I prefer the old car: British Racing Green, wire wheels with knock-offs... Ahhhhh! Those were the days!

Joe Biden With A Pony Tail

From The Onion.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Bacon Explosion

"Our source was The New York Times!"
Bacon love goes mainstream.

The Mind Reels

I know what you're probably saying. You're probably saying, "Turk, what the hell is that?"

Yeah, you probably spotted it. Something not quite right about that top picture. It's actually a 1903 Colt that was converted to a 1911-pattern by Cylinder And Slide as a master project in gunsmithing a couple of years ago. Here's a link. Pretty amazing, huh? They call it the "Model of 2006."

And, yeah, the lower picture is "Before" and the upper one is "After." Wow.
[Correction: it is a .45-ACP 1911 that was modified to resemble a 1903 Colt. No less amazing.]

What Kinds of Guns are Those?

Actress Astrid Swan filming "Bitch Slap".

A Film Named "Manure"

Starring (who else?):
From the L.A. Times.

There But For The Grace of God ...

Legendary Appalachian moonshiner Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton leaves U.S. District Court in Greeneville, Tenn., with his public defender Tim Moore, left on Monday. The 62-year-old Parrottsville author of the book "Me and My Likker" was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for illegally producing distilled spirits and being a felon in possession of a handgun.

h/t Volokh Conspiracy.

Just Fine, Thanks, And You?

H/T: Sharp As A Marble

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tribute To A Villainess

Blanche Yurka was 47 years old when she appeared in her first feature film, "A Tale of Two Cities" in 1935 as the half-mad Madame DeFarge. This is somebody you don't want to meet in a dark alley.

Madame DeFarge is depicted here about to murder a five-year-old child. She is ruthless, obsessed, bloodthirsty, treacherous, sinister and violent.

The storming of the Bastille is pretty effective. Resembles Griffith's "Intolerance", in scale, anyway. This is probably a "glass shot": only the base of the set was actually constructed. The rest was painted by an artist onto a large panel of plate glass mounted in front of the camera. The painting could take several days, walking back and forth to the camera to check on the image in the viewfinder. And once complete, the camera could not truck, pan or tilt, since the painting and the background would "separate". Today this is done with animation and computers and the camera can make wild gyrations while maintaining the illusion.

Blanche Yurka never got another plum film role like this one. She died in New York City on June 6, 1974.

But what an unforgettable performance she left behind!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Gun

Last Sunday was a long day. I got up at 2 AM, and left work at 11:30 AM. Drove down to Richmond; Glen Allen, actually. There is a wonderful gun shop called Green Top Sporting Goods. It's kind of an old-fashioned country gunshop, but a big one. Hundreds of long arms, old and new, reloading supplies, etc. Nearly a complete inventory of just about anything you could want for shooting. Over the years I have bought a Springfield M1A and a Beretta 20-gauge O/U there.

But when I was only a mile from Green Top I saw something new: a mammoth Bass Pro Shops store. It's sort of a Walmart Supercenter for hunting and fishing gear. Everything from boats to bullets, and even an on-site restaurant. I went in to have a look around and the firearms section was packed. The handgun counter was jammed; customers standing two and three deep. The ammo shelves were thoroughly picked over and only a few scattered boxes remained.

With such a huge crowd at this new superstore, I was worried that Green Top may have been driven out of business, but no! When I got there it was also jammed with eager customers. The Gun Culture is alive and well in Richmond, Virginia! I spotted a Kimber Ultra CDP II in the display case but it was half an hour before I could get waited on. It was the last one they had. I also got 300 rounds of Remington-UMC 230-gr. There was only one magazine with the gun so I ordered a Wilson Combat and a Chip McCormick mag from Brownell's and they arrived only four days later.

The Ultra CDP II is a 1911-pattern pistol in 45-ACP with a 3" bushingless barrel. The frame is machined from a solid billet of 7075-T7 aluminum, then anodized black. The slide is stainless steel. Weight with an empty magazine is 23 ounces. The recoil springs are captive on a 2-piece concentric guide rod, so it requires a little paperclip-like tool to disassemble. The "CDP" means "custom defense package" and it's like a basic Kimber with all of the custom work that a typical new owner might send out a new carry gun to have done: trigger job, ambi safety, de-horned and tritium night sights.

But it wasn't until today that I was able to get some time to go to the range at the NRA in Fairfax. I fired 210 rounds (three magazines times seven rounds times ten with each mag) and I had ten failures. All of the failures were failures to fire; half of them were mis-feeds: the round was found to be caught with the bullet pointing straight up. The other half were failures to go into battery: the trigger wouldn't pull, although there was a round in the chamber and the hammer was cocked. The Wilson Combat mag had five failures, all on the last round in the magazine. The Kimber mag had four failures, three of which were on the last round in the magazine. The Chip McCormick mag had one failure, also on the last round in the magazine. There were no other failures, and the gun shot very accurately.

I measured the trigger pull with an old-fashioned Chatillion recording scale: the trigger has a pull of only four pounds; that's a bit startling the first time!

So it looks like I will have to get more of the Chip McCormick mags. They work very well with this gun, even better than the Kimber factory mag included with the gun.

Very nice, symmetrical firing pin strikes on the primers, too.

I think I'll keep it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

No Comment

The New York Times. All the new that fits in your ....

It's National Pie Day!

This is a walnut pie. As Jack Handey said, "When you die, if you get a choice of regular heaven or pie heaven, you should choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not ... mmmmm boy!"

“What does it matter what you say about people?”

A very nice appreciation of Charlton Heston from the NYT last December. I missed it somehow. The picture above was taken in 1961. The quote is from the film "Touch of Evil", with Heston, Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich and Janet Leigh.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Played for you by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain:

Thanks to Xavier!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest

Excellent new blog.

Now with 25% more cats!

Twenty-Eight Years Ago Today

Covering Reagan's first inaugural for Televiso Turonistani. On Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the FBI building. January 20, 1981.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Eight degrees! Bwha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Movie Reverie

I was watching the opening to the old TV show, "The Prisoner". The star, Patrick McGoohan, died the other day. I especially remember his cool car, a Lotus Super Seven (Still WANT!)

And the opening credits for this episode feature the character actor Finlay Currie.

I remember Finlay Currie for one of the most terrifying things I have ever seen in the movies, the opening from David Lean's "Great Expectations".

The 12-year-old boy is walking through the spooky old graveyard when this guy just LEAPS into the frame and grabs the kid and says, "Keep still you little devil or I'll cut your throat!"

Finlay Currie plays the escaped convict who, in typical Dickens fashion, reappears decades later in a completely unexpected way. But the graveyard scene? I literally jumped out of my chair the first time I saw that. And I still get a tingle out of it.

Kimber Ultra CDP II

This is what's at the top of my wish-list today.
45-ACP, 7+1, aluminum frame and stainless steel slide.
About $1100.

It's Twelve

Twelve degrees Fahrenheit. That's about -11 Celsius, I think.
I wish I was the kind of person who called in sick when I wasn't really sick.

The Most Amazing Bacon Recipe Ever

Courtesy of Bitter.


A feller can dream, can't he?
($1500. Includes original box)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Embalming of The Snark

The International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo.

Jaunty Jackalope

Ubuntu 9.04 boots in 21 seconds. Scheduled for release in April. And look at all the geeks swarming here; 88,000 reads in less than 48 hours:

Monday, January 12, 2009

He Doesn't Do Windows

Interesting article in the NYT about Ubuntu Linux entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again.

That's one of the most famous opening lines in fiction, along with:
"In the beginning ..."
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
"Call me Ishmael."

This is Alfred Hitchcock's movie of Daphne DuMaurier's novel Rebecca. Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine play the leads, along with a fantastic group of character actors: Nigel Bruce, Judith Anderson, George Sanders and Leo G. Carroll.

The title character, Rebecca, never appears in the movie and in fact she's dead when the movie begins. Her mysterious death drives the plot from beginning to end. It's not a typical Hitchcock movie, either. It's also unusual in that Joan Fontaine's character doesn't have a name; she's called "The Second Mrs. DeWynter" and addressed as "my dear" or "madame". We never hear her first name.

Anyway, it's a classic and an excellent way to spend a cold Sunday evening.

Full Moon

Beautiful full moon this morning. Picture taken with a 720p video camera and a 2X tele-extender and shot off the screen by my little Nikon.

Dress Rehearsal

This morning at 7:15 they were getting ready for the inauguration.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Little House On Butt Hole Road

Or Juggs Close.
Or Scratchy Bottom.
Strange and unearthly place names in England.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Baker Street Irregulars

Tomorrow, January 6, is Twelfth Night, and for many people the unofficial end of the Christmas season. But for a certain group of readers January 6 has another significance: It marks the presumed birthday of the greatest fictional character of modern times, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the world’s foremost consulting detective. Seventy five years ago Christopher Morley—the most popular literary journalist of his time—established a small sodality of Sherlockian enthusiasts that soon came to be called the Baker Street Irregulars. Before long this group started to meet for regular sluicings and carousings and Sherlockian disputation on the Friday nearest to January 6. That tradition has never ceased, and on Wednesday I travel to New York for the diamond jubilee of the BSI.

From the WaPo. But what is "sodality"? And what is a "sluicing"? Is that, like, transitive or something?

"Stairway To Heaven" and "Age Of Consent"

The NYT reviews two DVDs of films by British Director Michael Powell. I have a copy of "Stairway To Heaven" and it is a favorite.

But I didn't know that Powell also directed the even-more-obscure "Age Of Consent" (1969) starring James Mason and the 23-year-old Helen Mirren, who was cast principally because she was willing to play a nude model, er, mostly in the nude.