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Hanukkah thoughts

Imshin has a lot of them.

In fact, in the last few days, Imshin has written the kinds of posts that make me return to her blog again and again and again. They're almost too difficult to excerpt. Almost. On the Maccabees and Hanukkah:

The idea of the Maccabees as the ultra-religious fanatics of old is not a new one for me. I’ve never really known what to do with it, but today it suddenly crossed my mind that it’s the same as the Kipling thing. Here we are judging people, who lived thousands of years ago, by today’s values. Jonathan says that if he had lived back then he probably would have been opposed to the Maccabees. But how can he know this? Things were quite different. He points out that what was happening was an attempt of cultural genocide. And this is exactly the point. In those days, you were who you worshipped. Secularism didn’t exist. Nationalism didn’t exist. Cultural genocide, as Jonathan calls it, was standard procedure for dealing with conquered peoples.

On unilateral withdrawal:

What have we had? We have had a peace agreement that fell to pieces, when one side was asked to finish the deal once and for all, and decided to pass. I am somehow reminded of how loan sharks operate. You can never ever repay your debt to them because the interest just keeps growing and growing. The Palestinians’ demands were also turning into just such a bottomless pit. Just when we thought we’d given them all, or very nearly all, of what they had previously demanded, they remembered something else. They just wouldn’t let it end (or couldn’t, because in actual fact they weren’t truly interested in compromise).

Then they embarked, with national excitement and vengeful enthusiasm, on a rapidly escalating rampage of violence, terror, and sacrificial mass murder, while sanctimoniously denying all the time that their official leadership had anything to do with it. This leadership, nevertheless, refused to take any action whatsoever against the violence, besides rhetoric in English, aimed at the foreign media.

In its desperation, Israel had no choice but to take responsibility for preventing the daily bloodbath on Israeli streets. No one else was doing it for us, regardless of promises made to do just that, in documents signed in all pomp and ceremony, to the cheers of the world. A hard hand was necessary, was unavoidable, to prevent Israel from descending into chaos.

But do we really want to keep on policing these lunatics, who would rather live lives of squalor and hopelessness than move just a little from their professed goals? No, we don’t. Contrary to popular belief, as depicted in numerous vicious caricatures in Western mainstream newspapers, we do not enjoy fighting to keep them from blowing up in our midst. We do not revel, as they do, in the deaths of innocents, regrettable victims of our attempts to incapacitate the guilty.

If you're not reading Imshin, you are missing an Israeli point of view that you will never read in the American media.

Second light

Second light of Chanukah

Gil's keeping track of hanukiyot (menorahs).

More PETA pity parties

This post was inspired by Doc Schlock's post over at ATS. He got me to thinking with this:

Because of this, some tree-hugging hippie freak decides that I should give up eating all animals. Bullshit I say. My personal choice not to eat octopus doesn't mean I'm going to force my non-octopus eating ways on others. I'm not going to open octopus free resturants or break in to labs and free octopuses. If you want to eat an octopus, more power to ya. I like to eat cow, chicken, fish, and pigs. I don't care if you think they are the cutest, cuddliest, sweetest animals in the world, they are still going in my belly.

Well, I eat cow, chicken, sheep, and turkey. I'm allergic to fish, and never really liked it much, anyway (perhaps I always knew I was allergic and was just waiting for an excuse to pass it by, or perhaps when I was a child, I simply couldn't fathom why people would want to eat something that was looking at them—check out any Tabatchnik's counter and you'll see what I mean). I have eaten ostrich and buffalo thanks to Lynn (both quite yummy, actually). A long time ago, I had duck, but have yet to sample goose. I also ate squid a long time ago, and didn't think very much of it. According to some wags, since I have eaten Chinese food, I have eaten cat.

So, fellow bloggers, what animals are on your menu? We haven't pissed off the PETA nutjobs in a while, and the last letter I received was so lame it wasn't even worth making fun of ("You eat meat! You're gonna die of cancer!"). Besides, they're going to try to frighten children at various Nutcracker events this year, so let's add fuel to the fire. Besides, it's the weekend. It's quiet. Okay, it won't be in another few hours, when Susanna Cornett gets here, but it's quiet now, and a little boring.



New linking category: Blogger Hall of Fame

Greg of Begging to Differ is mostly responsible for my going to Trilogy Tuesday. If I hadn't read his Movie Geek Preview Roundup, I may not have known the trilogy was being shown until after the tickets had sold out. Well, I remember things like that for a long, long time. Greg, you have made a friend for life.

Begging To Differ is the first member of my Blogger Hall of Fame, and they're going to stay there for quite a while, center page, top. Go say hello. They also have an excellent blog, as I mentioned two months ago.

Biased reporting, continued

The Associated Press has two articles today on the death toll due to the current Terror War in Israel. One is titled "Mideast Death Toll Dramatically Down." The other is titled simply "Death Toll in 3 Years of Mideast Violence."

My biggest problem is with the second article. Here is how AP breaks down the death toll:

TOTAL: 2,583 on the Palestinian side and 898 on the Israeli side. The Israeli figure includes several foreigners, migrant workers, tourists, students on study-abroad programs and staff of international bodies killed in Palestinian attacks. It also includes at least 43 U.S. citizens, most also holding Israeli citizenship.

The Palestinian figure includes an American peace activist crushed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to stop the demolition of a Palestinian home, a British U.N. official killed by Israeli fire during a gunbattle in the West Bank, a German doctor killed by Israeli fire as he tried to help Palestinians wounded when a rocket slammed into their home, several Egyptians killed in Gaza and two journalists - one Italian and the other British - both fatally wounded while working in Palestinian areas.

Emphasis, of course, is mine. Rachel effing Corrie is included on the palestinian side. European journalists are included as "palestinian deaths." Excuse me, but when did Britain and Italy become part of the palestinian state? What kind of bullshit is this, to take deaths in a battle zone and attribute them to the Israeli side, while quantifying dozens of Israeli deaths by saying that the victims also were U.S. citizens with dual citizenship? They had emigrated. They were Israelis.

Also included in the death rates for palestinians: "Suspected collaborators: 60." As if the Israelis are responsible for the murder (without trial) of sixty supposed collaborators. No, the pals are the ones who executed this mother of seven. Yet she is included in the statistics, which are then inflated and Israel is blamed for deaths which were not her responsibility.

In the AP tally article, they uncritically pass along the inflated figures, knowing full well that people are going to go with the totals, and not include such caveats as this:

Among the Palestinian dead, 60 people were killed by fellow Palestinians who accused them of being informers and funneling information to the Israeli intelligence agents.

There is little dispute that most of the Israelis killed in shootings and bombings were civilians, but categories are still blurred. One disputed category is off-duty Israeli soldiers; another is Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza - civilians to Israelis, combatants and legitimate targets to many Palestinians.

Then we get crap like this in the main article, which attempts to point out the lies by the pals, and then devolves into more examples of mindless "objectivity:"

According to the AP count, at least 319 Palestinians under age 18 have been killed - about a quarter in the third year of violence.

The Palestine Monitor, a think tank that tracks the violence, says 508 under-18s were killed - 24 of them affiliated with militant groups.

The AP's count of minors killed does not include those who perpetrated Palestinian attacks, such as the youngest suicide bomber, who had just turned 16. At least 92 Israeli children and teens have died, most of them in suicide bombings. One explanation is that youngsters are more dependent on buses, a frequent bomb target.

Most of the Palestinian minors were killed in clashes with soldiers. Youngsters routinely throw stones at troops, and some have climbed atop tanks and armored vehicles.

Soldiers fire tear gas and rubber bullets but also live rounds to disperse crowds. Israel says that Palestinians have sent children into the front lines in a cynical attempt to win sympathy. Palestinians and human rights groups say soldiers are often hasty in opening fire.

Screw the AP tally. Go here to find the real tally of the Terror War of the past three years.

And realize why the death toll is down: The security fence is working, and the IDF, Shin Bet, and Israeli security services are working overtime to prevent suicide bombings. Twenty-two suicide bombings have been prevented in the last few weeks. There is no "lull." There is only good police work.

Now that's a chocolate bar

Three pounds of solid Hershey's milk chocolate just landed in Richmond. Thanks, Kim. Thanks, Bob.

Click for a bigger picture.


My virtual menorah: First light

Gil got me in the mood to start early.

First light of Hanukkah

My father gave me this when I first moved in with him during my freshman year of college. That's the Lion of Judah in the center, and the menorah is brass coated with turquoise, I think. The row beneath the candle holders contains the twelve tribes of Israel, their Hebrew names, and their signs. I don't know what the plants on the pillars are, but doubtless one of my readers will tell me. You folks know everything.

Apparently I told that same story two years ago (scroll down, no permalinks back then). I've been told I repeat myself.

I've been told I repeat myself.

Say, Gil's latke recipe—no offense, Gil, but that recipe isn't quite right. Here's mine:

Six medium-to-large potatoes
One medium onion
Matzo meal
Two eggs
Pepper (optional)
Unflavored cooking oil

Grate potatoes very fine. You can use a food processor (I use the Braun hand blender). Squeeze moisture out with cheesecloth. (Great substitute for cheesecloth: A hops bag. You can buy it in a store that sells beer-making materials. You'll never use cheesecloth again.) Grate the onion just as finely (once again, a food processor is a wonderful tool).

Mix potatoes and matzo meal (about a half-cup, more if needed) in a large bowl. Add eggs and onion. Put in a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Mix well. Add more matzo meal if the batter is too wet. Drop by the spoonsful in heated oil and flatten (a six on an electric stove, medium-high on gas) or shape by hand and put them in. Cook until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towels. The above recipe serves four; add a couple extra potatoes per extra person.

You can cut out the eggs, salt, and pepper completely without changing the flavor. I always err on the side of less salt and let everyone flavor their own. The reason you want an unflavored oil, such as canola oil or plain vegetable oil, is because something as strong as peanut oil changes the flavor of the latkes. Safflower is also a good cooking oil. My preferred cooking oil is canola oil.

By the way, it's certainly possible to make the above recipe for only one or two people, but don't be complaining to me afterwards, when you can't fit into your clothes.

U.S. Ambassador to Egypt speaks frankly

Via Charles, this transcript of a meeting between David Welch and Arab journalists is simply fascinating. Read it all, but here are the best parts:

Nevine Khalil: And what if there is democracy in the region and the people decide to elect governments that are not friendly to the US? What would you do about that?

Welch: You mean like France? This is a good opening. Forgive me because I am not a very good diplomat and I tend to say what's on my mind and I say it straight. It may at times bother you a little bit, but I don't mean any offense. I just believe in honesty. So I am going to be very honest.

So you are telling me that if there were peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and a withdrawal to the 1967 borders tomorrow, we'd have thriving democracies throughout this part of the world?

Shukrallah: Yes, I believe so.

Welch: Really, on the same time scale?

Shukrallah: Pretty soon.

Welch: Let's get serious. What I find completely illogical about this position is that you cannot believe the reverse -- that democracy throughout the region might help you in achieving peace.

Dina Ezzat: One very obvious pretext for the dictators in this region is the Middle East conflict; they say you cannot do this [democratise], because we are in a state of war.

Welch: If you would excuse me for saying so, one pretext for you journalists is that you don't look at all the options.

Ezzat: How is yours an option?

Welch: We see the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict as an essential part of the search for peace and stability in this area. To do that you need certain conditions in place, one of which is an atmosphere in which negotiations can proceed -- and we are trying to have a negotiation that reaches a settlement.

I don't discard your option that it would help the furtherance of democracy in the area to reach a solution in this conflict. Obviously there is a connection for you, but look at the reverse too -- it is quite possible that democratic governments throughout this area would help in the resolution of these conflicts.

Ezzat: But isn't the first proposition more logical because if you want to follow international law -- which you very often like to talk about -- it would be logical to end the occupation.

Welch: UN Resolution 242, the basis of a just solution to the Arab-Israeli problem, was passed in 1967. It took until 1978 for one Arab country to recognise it and implement it. It took another 10 years for the remainder of the Arab countries to catch up to that fact.

Wow. And yes, there's more.

Welch: I get the message. There is a lot to debate about what is going on these days. I can't come to terms with concepts like imperial arrogance. What will happen to your theory of imperial arrogance if we stun you into disbelief by leaving Iraq on 1 July in the hands of an Iraqi government as we say we will? We've told you what our intention is. Here is the calendar we would like to work out with the Iraqi people -- who by the way are divided among themselves on how they will exercise their free choice, a real problem on which I would like to hear your views by the way, since we're talking about democracy. At the end of the day, there is the decision of all decisions, the mother of all decisions for the Iraqi people. They have, for the first time in their modern political history, a genuine choice.

Gamal Nkrumah: They don't.

Welch: Really? Since when did you become Iraqi?

Nkrumah: I'm not Iraqi, but they do not. How could they have a choice when your troops are there? They went in uninvited, when only the UN Security Council can authorise countries to go in. Nobody invited you. So how could they have a free choice if your troops are there?

Welch: Well, setting aside that bundle of assertions, we are where we are right now, and again the question is -- will they have that choice and how do they intend to exercise it? What will we do to help them? Will they ask us to stay or leave?

Nkrumah: Your stooges will probably ask you to stay on. It's obvious, isn't it?

Welch: I don't think it's so obvious.

Nkrumah: For people in this part of the world, it is.

Welch: If you've made up your mind beforehand, I welcome your views, but there is obviously no room for discussion of them.

The Egyptian press really dislikes Ambassador Welch. They're not going to like him anymore after this.

Happy Hanukkah

I hate that spelling, but I'm trying to move forward.

Sondra K., who seems just a touch insane (aren't we all?) forwarded me a link to a site that teaches you how to create your own menorah—with a potato and hardware, just in time for the first night. Come to think of it, Susanna couldn't have picked a better time to visit. There will be latkes with dinner tomorrow.

In the meantime, I shall be following the tradition and put up my virtual menorah for all to enjoy. Two years ago, I borrowed a digital camera from work and went backwards from eight lights.



Yes, yes, the comfy chair

Susanna Cornett has been giving me a hard time about The Chair That Swallows You Whole. She said she thinks it's apocryphal. Well, it exists. Exhibit A:

Tig in the chair

I had to keep kicking Tig out of my chair this evening. I took away all the things he was sleeping on, and he's still there. Although from the back angle (you can't see it in this picture), it looks like his head has disappeared. He's rolled into a big, fat, furry ball.

Susanna, I expect to see the truth about the chair on your blog Saturday afternoon.

New Line Cinema: A company of mensches

I mentioned that those of us who went to Trilogy Tuesday received a gift from New Line. It turns out that this gift was specially made for us by the WETA workshop, and is not for sale. Kewl.

I like mine even more, now. It's an actual collectible, not just one of zillions. Why, it may actually be worth something someday.

Amish Tech Support 2004 Dead Pool

Okay, folks. I'm going to join in this year, and I've got a few picks. I need about ten more. Here's where I throw the question out to the audience to see what comes back. These are my current picks:

Yasser Arafat (hoping he really does have cancer)
Saddam Hussein (won't last the year)
Pope John Paul II (I think he's finally going to buy it next year)
Phil Rizzuto, Sept. 25, 1918 (damn, he's old, it's about time)
Michael Jackson (I think he may succumb to the pressure and off himself)

Here are the rules. Go read 'em, and send me suggestions. Time's running out. I want to send them into Lair next week.

I'm thinking of adding some Saudi princes and/or King Fahd to that list. I predict great upheaval in the Middle East next year.

Cowabunga, Cardinal

Y'know, I've been reading this story everywhere, and I think it's just time to bring out the dancing heifer again.

VATICAN CITY - A top Vatican official said Tuesday he felt pity and compassion for Saddam Hussein and criticized the U.S. military for showing video footage of him being treated "like a cow."

Dance with me, Saddam, my love!

Moo, Cardinal Martino.

Other people's writing

Okay, first, put down that soda and don't you be eating when you click this link. It's a quick read. Mac Thomason on pacifists. I think that's a good example of why his weblog is titled "The War Liberal." Then there's this funny proofreading error that he caught. Mac's been on a roll lately.

By the way, I added two more links to the Tolkien Blogdrizzle. Go check 'em out. If this keeps up, I may change the Blogdrizzle to a Blograin, and maybe even into a Blogstorm someday. Yeah, sure, send me links. I know how to edit a post.

Interesting post at the Volokh Conspiracy on Strom Thurmond's illegitimate mixed-race daughter, and the dead Senator's decades-old hypocrisy and cruelty to the woman for decades.

I'm with Allison on this one: Lair's post on Colin's prostate surgery may be utterly tasteless, but it's effing hilarious.

Jim Treacher has picked his ten best pieces of 2003. Hey, I'm with Jim. He hates Jimmy Kimmel, too. (I knew I had to finish something... I have my best of 2002 hanging around in the draft folder.)


And the bias prize goes to: Reuters!

Honest Reporting has announced its annual Dishonest Reporting Award. This year's winner: Reuters, of course.

* In January, Reuters blamed Israel for "killing" Palestinian suicide bombers:

Iraq has paid millions of dollars to families of Palestinians, including those of suicide bombers, killed by Israeli forces since the start of the uprising in September 2000.

* As Israel prepared to build a wall to protect worshippers at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, Reuters published this headline:

"Israel to Split Christ's Birthplace with Barrier"

To emphasize its (completely external) point, Reuters repeated the word "Christ" or "Christian" in each of the article's first four sentences.

Read the whole article, which also gives dishonorable mention to several other media outlets that I've fisked in these pages.

Trilogy Tuesday

Yesterday was a long, tiring, wonderful day. We got to the theater at 10:45, an hour and fifteen minutes later than I'd wanted to be there. Wind Rider didn't believe me when I told him people would be lining up before 9:30 and that we wouldn't be the first ones there. But I've definitely mellowed. I didn't try to kill him right then and there, when I first saw the line of people ahead of us. First I made him stand in line while I went to see how many people there were, found out that the LOTR theater held 450 people, and we'd still get good stadium seats. That's why Wind Rider is still alive today. Really, the seating was key to my enjoyment of the day. We wound up just about dead center of the stadium section. I was happy. Wind Rider was forgiven, and the day went pleasantly forward.

Regal Cinema and New Line did a wonderful job in Richmond. They let us into the theater shortly after 11, warned us to keep our stubs with us at all times for re-entry, stamped our hands, and gave us the run of the place for the rest of the day. They were serious about not gaining re-entry without ticket stubs. I heard four people got kicked out. We kept the same seats throughout the day.

The Guy In Charge told us quite firmly before beginning the films to turn off or silence our cell phones, warned he would throw out anyone whose cell phone rang, said essentially, "Don't make me come down there, I want to watch the films, too." But I don't think the warnings were necessary. The audience was the best audience I have ever seen a film with. People were friendly and courteous between films, quiet during them (at the appropriate times), and pleasant at various places in and around the theater. There were a few people in costume. Some people had driven from D.C. or Charlottesville. A few people were selling tickets at the door for face value. An announcement was made inside; the tickets got sold immediately.

The excitement level rose as the day wore on. Every single person in that theater was a fan at least of the films, and most likely also of the books. Numerous copies of the trilogy and other Tolkien novels were in evidence. At first I thought I'd made a mistake watching my DVDs two weeks ago, but that was the un-fever talking. After a while I realized that yes, I really was watching the books that I love come to life, or at least, come to film. The lethargy from the cold disappeared in the minutes leading up to the first film. I found myself saying at the end of FOTR, "Okay, now I'm psyched for the trilogy." Seeing all three films, back-to-back, in a theater, was a once in a lifetime experience.

I had a wonderful time. And New Line gave us presents: Collectible film cells in a frame. Mine has Pippin (my favorite hobbit of the films), Faramir (on which actor I am gaining a great crush), and Grumpy Hobbit (don't know his name, but he's in the beginning of FOTR, looking askance at Gandalf, and returns for a grumpy part in ROTK). Wind Rider's, which is now also mine, has Merry and Pippin, Arwen carrying Frodo to the Ford of Bruinen, and Denethor (boo! hiss!). I have no idea how much they cost, but they're mine now, precious. All mine.

My review of The Return of the King: Go see it. No spoilers here. Yes, there are parts where you say, "Hey! That wasn't in the book!" But the battles are glorious, the story is magnificent, the effects are marvelous, and I don't know if WR looked sideways at all while we were watching the final installment, but if he did, he would have seen me in total thrall to the mood of the scenes on the screen. I'm just a great big kid when I'm watching a good movie, and yesterday, I saw three of them, and got to spend the entire day in Middle-Earth.

You know, I'm thinking that I wouldn't mind making this a twice-in-a-lifetime experience. Yes, I'd do it again. Yeah, I guess I really am a little bit insane.

The morning after

I'm back, I'm awake, and Wind Rider and I are heading out to Waffle House for breakfast. I think sitting in a darkened theater for fourteen hours defeated my cold, since my un-fever appears to be gone.

Wind Rider has his account of the day. Mine will be up later. All I have to say is I'm really annoyed that I missed three of the questions, and need to reread the books. Can't believe I put Minas Morgul instead of Barad-dur in the "name the two towers" question.

Yeah, I'm a geek. Toldja so.



Off to Middle Earth

And yes, I still have a cold, and my un-fever was at 97.3 an hour or so ago. It was down to 95 at 5 a.m. I don't sleep well when my temperature is off.

In the meantime, Judith Weiss suggested these Tolkien links for you.

John Rhys Davies (Gimli the Dwarf), anti-idiotarian

Okay, this flash animation is just plain scary. Gollum rap. Yes, really.

I'm outta here.



The French, zey are so sophisticated...

A French reader evidently liked my Saddam Hussein interrogation transcripts, and posted them on a French forum.

So a really smart French forum reader, Dr. No, asked this:

les source de ce site sont -elles fiables ?

c'est juste une question , ce n'est pas une accusation ..

With the help of Babelfish, I made out the secret code:

the source of this site - are they reliable?

it is just a question, it is not an accusation.

You just can't put anything past those guys. Even when the title of the post that includes my "interrogation" is "We are amused." Psst... French readers.... c'est une plaisanterie. (Babelfish again. I have forgotten nearly all the French I learned in high school. Except for the swear words.)

I wonder what Dr. No would think of Iseema's diary.

Tolkien geekin'

I'm pretty sure that my chest cold of the past few days is not what Nate had, but I'm thinking the thing I have today may be the reason he was cranky and whiny on Friday. Unfortunately, the orange juice, Tylenol, and cold medication isn't making it go away. On the other hand, I would watch The Trilogy if I were on my deathbed. I would come back from the grave itself to see all three Tolkien films in a row, which I am doing tomorrow, no matter how I feel.

Wind Rider said he wants to come along, but I suspect he's beginning to regret it. I sent him an email telling him that the hour he'd like to get here is Daylight Slacker's Time; we have to be on line at a reasonable hour in order to get decent seats. Mind you, if it were up to me, I'd be there at 1:30 for the 2:00 show, but I went to the theater today to scope things out for tomorrow, and the manager told me that last week's ROTK preview had the winners of tickets from a radio station lining up three and a half hours early. Ticket winners, not necessarily all Tolkien geeks.

Yeah, I'm a Tolkien geek. I said so before, and I'll say it again. I'm a Tolkien geek, and I want to have decent seats for the films. So I'll be standing on line for hours tomorrow.

I have been unable to write "Confessions of a Tolkien Geek," because I think the one I wrote today rather sucks. However, while writing it, I discovered that, er, I already wrote it. Two years ago, when the first film came out. You'd be amazed at how much of today's essay was a rewrite of the first one. Well, except I deleted most of the repetition, so you can't read it. But trust me, you would have been amazed. Or bored, come to think of it.

Yes, the medication is kicking in. I have a temperature of 96.3; I get un-fevers when I'm sick. When the mercury hits triple digits, I immediately call the doctor, because something is seriously wrong with me when that happens. When it hits 102, I worry that my brain will explode. Hasn't so far, but you never can tell with fevers.

Maybe I'll write something after having seen all three films in a row. I don't just watch movies, when they're good, I get lost within them. That's part of why it's important to get good seats. I won't be able to enjoy Middle Earth from the front row, far left side of the theater. As for talkers sitting near me: Well, keep an eye out for the news from Richmond. If there's a violent murder at a Tolkien movie, likely I'll need some help raising bail money.

Tomorrow will be this Tolkien fan's dream come true. I never, ever thought that special effects would get to the level where the Lord of the Rings would be made as a live-action film, let alone made as three superb films by a Tolkien fan. I've been reading the books since I was twelve, and had resigned myself to knowing them only through my imagination. And had I still been living in NJ, I would never have managed to get tickets to the show.

It isn't often you get to fulfill a what-if wish. I went to Jamaica in my twenties and found it as wonderful as I had read about in an old Dennis the Menace comic book that stuck with me through my adulthood. I suspect tomorrow will feel about as good, except without sugar cane and beaches. But there will be popcorn. And Middle-Earth

You can't find that in Jamaica.

The Tolkien Blogdrizzle

Well, since only a couple of people wanted in on the act, I thought I'd better change its name from blogburst to blogdrizzle. Maybe it should be a blogspritz. Perhaps it will become a blogburst over time, as I've just decided if you submit it, I will link (unless it's totally disgusting, as I said two weeks ago).

In the meantime, Mac Thomason has brought back Captain Euro to help Gandalf, Aragorn, and company with the negotiations at The Black Gate.

EURO: Gandalf, mon ami! That was quite a fine joke you played on me with your letter! You actually convinced Frodo to avoid me. Still, we can laugh about it now.

MOS: Enough! I have tokens that I was bidden to show to thee!

He displays Sam's short sword, Frodo's cloak, and Frodo's mithril chainmail. PIPPIN gasps.

MOS: So you have yet another of these imps with you! What use you find in them I cannot guess; but to send them as spies into Mordor is beyond even your accustomed folly.

EURO: Imps? I will have you know that this sort of labeling comes very close to hate speech, and should not be used, especially in such a formal setting. Hobbits are a very courageous and sturdy people, and I will not have them maligned. Even now, two of them are --

ARAGORN jumps on EURO, covering his mouth with one hand and choking him with the other.

GANDALF: Aragorn, choke him not. I have a feeling even such as he may yet have a part to play. Please, allow him to speak, as long as he (whispering) doesn't give anything away.

Blogger Rabbit has astonishing pictures of the surprise new ending to The Return of the King, starring—you won't believe this—Madonna! I can't give any more away, you'll simply have to check the link for yourself.

Peter's got a nice, wistful post about the various films, Tolkien in general, and Peter Jackson what-ifs.

Oh. My. God. It's a cross between Buffy: The Musical and Lord of the Rings: Once More With Hobbits. Clever, clever, clever! You simply have to check out each individual song, "I've Got a Theory" is HILARIOUS.

And my piece, Confessions of a Tolkien Geek, will be up (and linked) shortly.

More on Saddam's capture

There is a wealth of stories on the capture of the biggest mass murderer since Pol Pot. Here's a nice set of links from

Here's an article to set your heart aglow from Reuters: Saddam surrender seen as cowardice:

"The main commodity of his rule was death, but it was a weapon that he was not willing to use upon himself," Jawad al-Anani, a former Jordanian foreign minister and Dubai-based political analyst, told Reuters on Monday.

"The fact that he chose to stay in that hole with the mice shows that he was clinging onto life, no matter how bad it was. Eventually, he was a coward."

[...] "His image has been totally undermined," said Iraq expert Mustafa Alani from London's Royal United Services Institute.

"Everyone expected him to fight to the death or commit suicide, but that is a choice he did not make. No one likes to admit it, but he's a coward."

[...] Like other controversial events, Saddam's capture spawned conspiracy theories in the region, with many Arabs saying he had not offered any resistance because he had been drugged.

Prominent Saudi columnist Dawood al-Shirian said he believed Saddam could have been given a sedative before the medical checks but dismissed talk that a narcotic gas had been piped into his hiding hole prior to his arrest.

"He is a gang leader to which words like 'bravery' and 'dignity' do not apply. I think that he was a broken man who was tired of being on the run and of being betrayed," Shirian said.

And look: The Indymidiots are in the Arab world, too!

Gulf analyst Moghazy al-Badrawy said the timing of the arrest was perfect for a U.S. administration trying to divert attention from scandals related to its Iraq dealings.

"The U.S. version of events is too perfect, too suspicious," he said. "I think he was caught long before it was announced, but it will be years before we know what really happened."

There's an interesting twist to the above angle in this Guardian story, but notice the word substitution:

As often, when faced with inexplicable situations in the Middle East, some resorted to conspiracy theories. One idea gaining popularity in Jordan was that Saddam must have been secretly "medicated not to resist" before the American forces closed in on him.

It's not inexplicable. Many Arabs do not want to believe that their "hero" did not resist to his last breath. Subtle little distinctions like this make me loathe the Guardian.

And finally, you gotta love this description of the hut over the spider hole:

The hut consisted of one room with two beds and a fridge containing a can of lemonade, a packet of hot dogs, an opened box of Belgian chocolates and a tube of ointment. Several new pairs of shoes lay in their boxes scattered around the floor.

Soldiers said it was unclear whether the food and other items belonged to Saddam.

The other room, open to the elements at one end, was a kitchen with a sink fed by water from a cistern on top of a chicken coop at the other end of a small yard.

Pinned to the outside wall of the hut was a cardboard box depicting biblical scenes such as the Last Supper and the Madonna and child with the English inscription "God bless our home."

Inside the bedroom was a 2003 calendar in Arabic with a colorful depiction of Noah's Ark.

Of course you realize Charles and Lair are going to have a field day with the news of that tube of ointment.



Exclusive! The Saddam interrogation transcripts!

Yes, in the grand tradition of Iseema bin Laden's diary and the Secret Arafat Phone Transcripts, brings you the Saddam Hussein interrogation, part of which can be read in Time Magazine. But there's more:

U.S.: How are you?
S.H.: I am sad because my people are in bondage.
U.S.: Would you like a glass of water?
S.H.: If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?
U.S.: Well, how 'bout a beer, then?
S.H.: Okay, but only if it isn't that Zionist beer. I will drink, but I will still be sad because my people are in bondage.
U.S.: So tell us where you're hiding the weapons of mass destruction.
S.H.: Weapons of mass destruction? We have no weapons of mass destruction. Iraqis are too sad to operate such weapons, because we are a people in bondage.
U.S.: Dude, that is getting so tired already. Can't you come up with a new line?
S.H.: You see what I mean? Iraqis cannot even use their own words about being a people in bondage, we are such a people in bondage.
U.S.: Permission to slap him upside the head, sir?
[deleted for security purposes]
S.H.: OW!
U.S.: Did you hide the WMD in Lebanon, like some people are saying?
S.H.: First, I am not saying we had WMD, because we did not, and the Americans invaded our country on a false pretext. But if we had WMD, and again I am not saying we did, and we wanted to put them where you could not find them, you would not need a passport to get them back.
U.S.: Are you saying they're in Iraq?
S.H.: I cannot say, because we do not have them.
U.S.: Well, if you didn't have them, why didn't you let inspectors go into your palaces?
S.H. We didn’t want them to go into the presidential areas and intrude on our privacy. Alas for my people, who suffer a bondage greater than any people have ever suffered.
U.S.: Well, until 9 April, anyway.
S.H.: Do you mock me? Mock me, then. I am already sad. Your words cannot make me any sadder, because we are—
U.S.: Yeah, yeah, I know, "a people in bondage." Dude, I'm going to ask my C.O. if I can smack you again if you don't stop with the—
S.H.: May I have another beer?
U.S.: So let's talk about the people who helped you running up to the war. Word is that Jacques Chirac was feeding you private information until the very last minute.
S.H.: That is a baseless accusation! President Chirac is a great man, and a wonderful humanitarian, and you will not find a shred of evidence connecting me to his re-election campaign! No more than you will find any information connecting me to George Galloway!
U.S.: Dude, while you were in your rathole, we found proof that you paid Galloway to work for Iraqi interests.
S.H.: I am so very sad. How can I think about other world leaders while my people are in bondage? You, uh, found the checks?
U.S.: Your signature was on them, dude.
S.H.: May I have another beer?
U.S.: Let's talk a little bit about Mohammed Atta.
S.H.: I do not know such a person.
U.S.: Mohammed Atta, Abu Nidal—you remember Abu Nidal, he's the guy who committed suicide while in your country by multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
S.H.: Ah, him. Yes, it was an unfortunate suicide.
U.S.: Dude. Multiple gunshot wounds to the head. You had him murdered. We know it.
S.H.: I did not have him murdered. It was suicide. He fell on his gun, and it went off several times. And hit him in the head each time. It is pure coincidence that my son was there.
U.S.: Abu Nidal taught Mohammed Atta, didn't he?
S.H.: I do not know what you are talking about. How can I remember such things while my people are in bondage? [*urp*] I need to use the bathroom.
U.S.: How can you use the bathroom when your people are in bondage?
S.H.: You mock me now. But the great Iraqi people will rise up against the occupiers, and restore Iraq to—

Sorry, folks, the interview simply ended right there. I'll try to get more of the transcripts at a later date.

The reaction on Saddam: Not everybody's happy

Reuters had this quote in their story about worldwide reaction to Saddam's capture:

Many Palestinians were seized by disbelief and gloom. The former Iraqi ruler was a hero to some for his anti-Israeli stand and for helping families of Palestinians dead in an uprising.

"It's a black day in history," said Sadiq Husam, 33, a taxi driver in Ramallah in the West Bank. "I am saying so not because Saddam is an Arab, but because he is the only man who said no to American injustice in the Middle East."

And here's more pain from the pals in the Post:

Saddam should have put up a fight or committed suicide, they said, and his surrender is a stain on Arab honor. "It is a big defeat for all Arabs and Muslims," said Raji Hassan, 29, watching TV with friends in a Gaza City coffee shop.

[...] Horani said he had expected Saddam to be more courageous. "I had expected him to have fought back, or at least end his life," he said. "But then again, all dictators are cowards."

[...] "I love him so much, I can't stand watching it while he's in custody," Raafat Logman, 23, said as he was shooting pool. "We are surprised. We are so sad," said Sameh Aloul, 22.

Ah, schadenfreude. Yeah, you're gonna get a lot of that around here. How can I not, when you have pictures like this to make fun of?

Saddam captured, looking pathetic

This is Saddam's Unabomber look. Fits perfectly with the hiding place. Caught like a rat in a hole. Try him and fry him, folks. Okay, hang him. Or cut off his head. Whatever they do in Iraq.

Mind you, my personal method of execution is to post flyers asking relatives of executed and missing Iraqis to gather in the main square in Baghdad, then drop off Saddam and let them have him. That, I think, would be a fitting end to the world's worst mass murderer since Pol Pot.

Let the joyous news be spread....

The wicked old man will soon be dead.

Crack your best bottle tonight and drink a toast to our armed forces. Saddam Hussein has been captured!


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.