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July 18, 2005
Dafydd: Bear Flag League Reception and Hootenanny

As predicted, a fine time was had by all, except for those who got lost, never finding the joint due to the wretchedly error-ridden directions. Some attendees, however, mistrusting the geographical abilities of bloggers, thought to look up the route on the map and arrived undetoured.

Relying entirely upon my world-famous memory (and this "agenda" sheet of paper I hijacked back home with me), I shall post here a brief and entirely serious precis of the highlights of the Bear Flag League reception.

If serious, sober-minded reporting of such a momentous occasion as this yanks your crank, read on. The management warrant that no outright fabrications will be found in the following dissertation. Everything is true, including the orgiastic fertility rites and the sacrifice of a llama following the event.

Special Note: All times are approximated to within 3.825 minutes, due to obscured view of the sun.

Menace of the Bear Flag Chowder and Marching Society Reception


The reception was called to order amid immediate motions to adjourn to the bar across the street. Joy McCann -- I think -- made a futile effort to herd attendees out to the patio for the food. Alas, they were still roaming about looking for the "Free Open Bar Serving Apple Martinis" that had been widely rumored among some of the less mature attendees.

(This correspondent is not entirely sure it was Ms. Joy, as he was too busy still searching for that nonexistent wet bar.)

Lunch comprised large, disk-shaped pieces of ground beef and beef byproducts, cylindrical intestinal skins stuffed with unknown animal bits, and thin slabs of what purported to be deceased fowl; some gloppy, white concoction that could have been either potato salad or poi; something that had corn in it (kernals were visible); and beans. The mob was obliged to fight over the comestibles in a historically accurate reenactment of the Battle of Austerlitz (we were the Austrians, and Justene Adamec was General Franz von Weyrother).

However, there was little time to sample this fine cuisine, for the moment we sat down and speared a morsel on the tines of the old fork, Scott Schmidt began jumping up and down with excitement, frantically signalling some urgent message in semaphore.

Although each attendee wore a name tag, Schmidt announced that they were required to introduce themselves, presumably for the benefit of those bloggers who were illiterate; the ritual was briefly interrupted by a minor pushing match beween Baldilocks and upcoming speaker Allan Hoffenblum (author of California Targetbook), when the latter tried to pass himself off as the former.

The gang had barely finished introductions (Patterico was obliged to study his own nametag as a cheatsheet) when the Speaker to Gentiles drew a ball-peen hammer and began beating a Highland tattoo on a water glass. It was time for the first speech.


Your humble narrator eyed his still-full plate with impotent longing. The first speaker -- evidently having already dined an hour before at the nearby Hamburger Hamlet -- was ready to begin his after-lunch speech ("well it's after my lunch," he argued). He was Dan Weintraub, columnist for the Sacramento Bee and proprietor of the Bee-blog California Insider.

Weintraub discoursed at great length -- great length -- touching upon the circumstances of the creation of California Insider, the infamous Incident of the Enforced Editing, the circumstances of the creation of California Insider, his prediction of the demise of the daily dead-tree newspaper (about which more anon in a subsequent post), and the circumstances of the creation of California Insider.

There was a minor altercation between Mr. Weintraub and upcoming speaker Allan Hoffenblum (author of California Targetbook) over the former's coverage of a Congressional campaign managed by the latter shortly before the end of World War II.

Satisfied with his narrative, and smug in the superiority of his own prandial preparations to those of the hapless membership, Mr. Weintraub sat back again, ostentatiously picking his teeth with a burnished silver swizzlestick autographed by the surviving members of the Flying Wallendas.


The next speaker to jawbone the assembled multitude was erstwhile Speaker of the California Assembly and failed mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg, a Democrat who seemed relatively normal, strangely enough. Mr. Interlocutor would be overjoyed to convey the gist of Speaker Hertzberg's remarks, but they were delivered at such machine-gun pace that the audience were left bewildered, aware only of the fleeting impression of a particularly successful motivational speaker and something about blogging the Grand Canyon. The literature mentions a website associated with Mr. Hertzberg titled BigIdeas4LA, a quick perusal of which discloses such Big Ideas as:

My campaign for the Mayor of Los Angles was amazing. The energy in Los Angeles is just astounding. I heard from thousands of people throughout our great city- whether it was the Angelenos I met every day with ideas to change LA or from the more than three million hits and active issue petition signers on my website - it is clear that there are so many who share a passion for Los Angeles.

Just by discussing some big ideas, like breaking up the LAUSD and fixing traffic, I was propelled from a relative unknown to coming within a whisper of knocking off the incumbent mayor. I am extremely proud of the campaign we ran.

(It also discloses the word "oppossed," which would appear to be some intriguing combination of opposed and opossum.)

A small kafuffle ensued between Speaker Hertzberg and upcoming speaker Allan Hoffenblum (author of California Targetbook) over the contrast between the Speaker's neckwear and Mr. Hoffenblum's striking resemblance to Sen. John McCain.


Mr. Hertzberg sat down amid hesitant applause and vigorous headscratching, only to be replaced by the well-known actor and soon-to-be Republican candidate for the California Assembly seat in the 40th District, Joseph C. Phillips. You may remember Phillips from one of these; but your faithful chronicler prefers Mr. Phillips' nostalgic starring role in the junior-high filmstrip series "Hall Monitors Are Our Friends."

There was some confusion as a scuffle broke out between current speaker Phillips (the actor and western-film buff) and upcoming speaker Allan Hoffenblum (author of California Targetbook) over just how "Democrat-safe" was District 40. Former Speaker Hertzberg was removed to an undisclosed location for his own safety.


Seeing the desperation on the faces of the trapped attendees -- Kevin Drum, a liberal Democrat who seemed relatively normal, strangely enough, and who operates the blog Political Animal, had almost gnawed off his own limb to escape -- Gunnery Sergeant Schmidt reluctantly called for ten minutes of liberty.

The population milled about uncertainly, trapped on the patio whence the food had been removed. Those who had not had a chance to finish lunch eyed one another nervously; it would not be going too far to suggest that some may have seen their fellows mutate into walking roast turkeys and plates of pasta (then again, they may have seen no such thing). Mr. Schmidt was observed fluttering about, trying to drive the herd back into the meeting room; after several ineffectual attempts, he inched his way up to the writer of these words, who had evidently impressed Mr. Schmidt with the quiet (or rather stentorian) aura of authority. "Can you get them to move back into the room?" he asked. Graciously, this one assented.

Following a bullhorn-loud bellow that spooked the herd into stampeding back whence they had come, the penultimate speaker cleared his throat nervously and prepared to cast oil on troubled fires.


As the attendees tussled over seats that had miraculously grown fewer in number, they discovered that in their brief absence, a wealth of literature had been plopped upon the tables, including the summer issue of the Claremont Review of Books; a pamphlet titled the Rise and Fall of Constitutional Government in America; the Memorial Robert Byrd Pocket Edition of the Declaration of Independence, the Constituiton of the United States, and the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region (Revised Edition) by John Bull and John Farrand (a.k.a. "the Two Johns"); two broadsheets advertising Achmed & Israel Persian Rug Cleaners; the Spring issue of Local Liberty, highlighting a brilliant interview by editor Ken Masugi of editor Ken Masugi (accompanied by an equally brilliant color photo of editor Ken Masugi); and a coupon for a free Caff Vanilla Frappuccino with Caramel Affogato at the Starbucks inside the Midnight Special bookstore on the West Side. Attendees ruminated on the political significance of caffeinated Socialism as the first of two final speakers left the bullpen and took the mound.

He proved to be Ted Costa, the godlike gadfly who started the process to unseat the former governor of the Bear-Flag state, Gray "Grayout" Davis -- who, along with Gary Condit, looks like one of those "separated at birth" photo-montages. The present scribe misremembers exactly (or even vaguely) what Mr. Costa had to say, but he did entertain the crowd, drawing applause and thrown money by his sartorial splendor: as the author of this post recollects, Costa sported an ermine tuxedo in red and yellow motley; formal lederhosen; black knee-socks cross-gartered in brilliant magenta; Earth shoes; light blue, three-fingered gloves; and a Davy Crockett coonskin cap with veil; Flap has a photo that should display this prismatic costume in all its glory, clearing up any misunderstandings.

There was a momentary disruption as upcoming speaker Allan Hoffenblum (author of California Targetbook), evidently overcome by the sight of cross-gartered socks, rushed the "stage" area and attempted to annex Bosnia-Hercegovina in the name of Pasadena. Mr. Hoffenblum was given a fish and restored to his position, and Mr. Costa proceeded smoothly thence.


At last, the highlight of the evening -- the imminent end of the parade of witnesses -- was in sight; the assemblage breathed a collective sigh of utmost relief as the final speaker ascended a magisterial ivory dais that had been swiftly erected by cobbler's elves at the far end of the arena. Allan Hoffenblum, by this point well known to all in attendance, assumed the position.

Hoffenblum commenced on a well-regarded trip down memory lane, hitting the highlights of his exemplary career in politics, beginning with his first job as campaign manager for President John Adams's reelection bid. He continued managing the presidential campaigns of such illustrious political dynamos as General George B. McClellan, William Jennings Bryan, and Wendell Willkie (twice; Hoffenblum ran Willkie's posthumous 1948 campaign).

After the Chicago riots and Hoffenblum's infamous and quickly regretted "tartar sauce" speech, he retired from (some historians write "was driven out of") running political campaigns. Instead, he commenced upon a publishing empire anchored by the California Targetbook, which analyzes every California race in upcoming elections and retails Mr. Hoffenblum's favorite chili recipes. At the back of each edition are tear-out sewing patterns for matching Christmas frocks and pantaloons.

When he finished his speach, a gargantuan, roiling cheer exploded from the audience, as overwhelmed attendees spontaneously performed the "wave" in tribute. A small platoon seized Mr. Hoffenblum and carried him out upon their shoulders; but as more than twenty-four hours have elapsed without further sight of Mr. Hoffenblum, it's not yet certain the actual intent of that contingent. Enquiries are being made.

Exhausted, drained, and unmanned, the limp participants sidled out of the recital hall, pausing only long enough to grant press conferences thanking the Iraqi people. Within moments, the hall was denuded, bereft of its former occupants, and not coincidentally restocked with the Han-dynasty vase collection of Irving and Tillie Finkelstein, housed in that cafeteria room according to the diktat of the Finkelstein Foundation for the Static Arts.

The Bear Flag League has been informed that it is not the target of any grand-jury investigation in Los Angeles County.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Dafydd at July 18, 2005 8:09 PM

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