Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
February 19, 2011 - February 12, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Best in Show.

Her name is Hickory.

DON'T GET ONE JUST BECAUSE THEY'RE FAMOUS NOW. I have a tee-shirt that says, "No, it's a deerhound." Because everybody asks if it's an Irish Wolfhound. I expect more of them will know now that it isn't. All you really have to do is see them move. No other breed flows quite like that.

I'm posting this post because how could I not? Raebert doesn't care. He's lying on his back on his own loveseat, looking exactly like an unmade bed. Brush him up and he looks exactly like Hickory. All deerhounds look exactly like all other deerhounds, except for details of their faces, which make them all unique. Biggest moment? After the announcement was made, the handler bent immediately to get what we call "the sighthound hug." The best moment you can have with any kind of dog. She knows. That's all that really matters.

End of post.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I watched the Grammies!

Not a bad wrap-up at all. 75% right is a high batting average in these matters.

LATER THE SAME DAY. I told you we had a visit from the daughter-child, and she asked if we were going to watch the Grammies, at which I laughed dismissively and was immediately surprised to hear Mrs. CP say, "Yes, indeedy." So we did. The first couple of hours anyway.

Years since I watched one of these things. But I'm glad I did. The only acts I really hated were Christina Aguilera trying to channel Aretha Franklin and the F*** You song performed by Gwyneth Paltrow and a huge guy so gay looking that Elton John tried calling to protest his costume but couldn't get through because the ghost of Liberace was screaming bloody murder across all the available phone lines. At the risk of sounding nasty, I would like to see Christina Aguilera locked in a closet until therapists can convince her there's no such thing as a race-change operation. And I want Gwyneth Paltrow to just please go away, as far and forever as possible.

But other than that, I was (gulp) pleasantly surprised, mostly. For example, I'm definitely a latecomer to the Lady Gaga phenomenon, but I actually get what she's up to. She's doing her own inspired satire of the whole female pop star routine; her 'shocking' performance was simultaneously a tribute to Madonna and a brilliant sendup of Madonna. It's performance art. What I know for sure? She definitely has a head (or two) on her shoulders, even if they're coneheads. Madonna should feel flattered and more than a little uneasy. I can see Lady Gaga a few years down the road reinventing herself not as a pseudo-Brit aristocrat but a cold-blooded, bespectacled commodities trader with a corner on the tin market.

Here's my real takeaway. Most of these young stars are genuinely talented, if not always my personal cup of tea. The young female singers can actually sing, including Rihanna and Katie Perry. Even the freakish Justin Bieber can sing far better than the dreary boy bands of old. Motown seems to be making a comeback via Bruno Mars, with echoes of the Temptations (synchronized dancing by backup singers, anyone?), Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and Smokey Robinson, even if they're still young and derivative to my old ears. And they've all seemingly rediscovered the charm of dressing up for big occasions. Phony anger is on the wane. They're happy to be famous and pleased to perform. Rap is fading -- Eminem's riveting on-stage command notwithstanding -- and rock and roll is dead as a doornail. A band strongly reminiscent of the Cure (uh, Muse) won best rock album against a geriatric slagpile consisting of Neil Young, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, and Jeff Beck (!!!!)

I truly enjoyed the Mumford & Sons/Avett Brothers segment even when they tried to wreck it with an appearance by Bob Dylan. They were all so clearly enjoying themselves just making music, and the Mumford lead singer is someone we identified months ago as a genuinely affecting talent.

Of course I have quibbles. I don't see the appeal of Lady Antebellum or the other country newcomer, Miranda Lambert. Sorry. Mumford & Sons should have won best new artist. And I still know nothing about Arcade Fire, who won best record or something. But I was entertained and not offended, excepting the exceptions noted above, and I am happy to concede that it's an improvement not to have to put up with Grace Slick projectile-vomiting on stage, Cher issuing political pronouncements from the depths of her moron mind, or gold-toothed assholes sporting guns and invitations to hump in the back seat of their rented Bentleys. Never let it be said that when there's progress I refuse to admit it.

I went to bed before Jagger performed. Isn't that a humbling confession of age?

But the chick up top said he still rocks. That's some measure of vindication for us old farts who couldn't stay awake long enough to watch. Isn't it?

P.S. Just for Mrs. CP. She fell asleep even before I did and missed Eminem. She likes Eminem.

So do I. Rihanna can sing, and Eminem is a f***ing force of nature. I will never apologize for this position. (The True Test: He's better live than in the video.) She should know. (btw, in her continuing revitalization program, she just gave me a Kindle for V-Day. Thereby opening up the whole world of e-books and such to her dinosaur husband. I think she intends to get me published. She's been impossible since she got her I-phone. Are you ready?)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Heart Day

NOT A NEW SUBJECT (NO.8). Yesterday my (step)daughter came to visit us and I'd been saving something for her. Maybe a couple of things. She hadn't seen Raebert in a while, but she was devoted to Psmith so I didn't think it would be a shock to see the new boy a year old. I was wrong. "I don't believe it," she said. "He's already bigger than Psmith."

Mrs. CP threw me a 'told you so' look. She's been saying that for weeks. Okay. I hadn't noticed. Sure he's big. Psmith was too. I didn't know Raebert was gigantic. When you see someone every day, you don't perceive these things right away. Sue me.

What I'd been saving for her was the movie Secretariat. Not that she's a sports fan, or a horse-racing fan. She's at that critical age, a couple years after college graduation, when the realities of the job, working for a living, and the constant tradeoffs and compromises life insists you make on behalf of everyone else are beginning to dent your youthful dreams. Maybe ambition is necessarily deterred by a process of slow retreat from the very best you could hope for. Maybe you have to settle. I don't want that for her.

We had brunch and then I racked up Secretariat. The movie was just beginning and then Raebert returned from his midday outing and started showing off for her. She laughed. "We start a movie about a horse, and a horse walks in... Ha!"

I didn't want him to be a distraction. Secretariat is my favorite movie since Last of the Mohicans. Mostly because the story it tells is true and I remember it as it happened. It's not a documentary, but the facts are on record. The people who were privileged to be alive and sentient back in 1973 witnessed something inconceivable, impossible, permanently unforgettable. Beyond all fiction, beyond imagining. Secretariat's performance in the Belmont Stakes is one of the greatest achievements I have ever been favored to see as it happened in real time. For me it's right up there with seeing men walk on the moon.

And the movie does justice to the reality. More importantly, the movie is a record of another only slightly less implausible reality -- the woman, yeah, the housewife, who owned Secretariat and refused to sell him or take any other easy way out because she believed in him and wanted to see him run.

Those of you who follow InstaPunk know that I don't watch many movies more than once. We got this thing a couple weeks ago -- Mrs. CP in her infinite wisdom bought the DVD the instant it became available, which she never does -- and I've seen it four times so far.

I didn't know if the daughter completely got it. But then, as she was leaving, Mrs. CP asked her what she thought, and she said, "It's a heart story."

Which is the absolute spiritual and anatomical truth of it. When Secretariat died in 1989, it was discovered during the post-mortem that his heart was twice the size of any other horse's ever.

My Valentine's Day gift to you all. See the movie, and by all means buy the DVD. The Special Features section includes all three of the Triple Crown races that made Secretariat the greatest racehorse who ever lived. They're even more glorious than the movie treatment. I am still reduced nearly to tears by the racetrack announcer describing Secretariat in the back stretch at Belmont as "a tremendous machine," still accelerating away from every other horse long after the race was definitely won.

The final gap between Secretariat and Sham was 31 lengths. (And Secretariat himself makes the actor horses who played him look small and insignificant.) People who were closest to him use words like "surreal," and "supernatural" to describe what happened that day at the Belmont Stakes. They all insist that he knew exactly what he was doing the whole time. After all, Secretariat had made a whole career out of starting last and then passing every other horse from the outside for the fun of passing them by running farther than they did to victory. It was only at the Belmont that he ran to the lead from the gate. Like maybe he knew he'd been criticized as just a "speed horse" and wanted to set the record straight.

Sigh. Why I keep watching life unfold like a wrinkled masterpiece....

The only sad note concerns the racehorse Sham, who finished second to Secretariat in all three Triple Crown races. He also broke the record for fastest Kentucky Derby and fastest Preakness, right behind Secretariat.  If there had been no "perfect horse," no "horse designed by God," Sham would have been a gloried Triple Crown winner.

Another reminder to all of us. Sometimes God forgets himself enough to just plain show off.

But sometimes the finger of God does reach into our lives and touch us all. Why we must keep paying attention. You go, girl.

And Raebert, YOU lie down. I'm not going to tell you again.

P.S. Brizoni (bless his heart, irony intended) weighed in with the actual call and aftermath.

uh. Never before. Never again.

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