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Archive Listing
September 19, 2012 - September 12, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Snow White:
Scottish Reality TV

A documentary with serious lapses.

HISTORY OF SCOTLAND, PART 1. You know. Just another exercise in cinema verite about the most continuously oppressed tribe on earth (not to mention the Jews because why would we? Nobody else is, these days.) Rapacious royals with Brit accents usurping the rightful rulers of the bleakest landscape in the civilized (play along, people...) world, employing their completely usual blend of treachery, witchcraft, and pure Anglo-Saxon evil to subjugate the unsuspecting, peace-loving Scots for all eternity.

Though I have to admit, if pressed, that I didn't know Snow White was a Scottish princess. Now that I do, it makes perfect sense. All the battling from the highlands and their ruined castles to the shores of Lake Erie and the salt marshes of New Jersey and bayous of Louisiana,  the magically sinister woodlands of Hogwarts, and the flat-out paradise of Loth Lorien. The way it's always gone down in the birthplace of golf. Lots of scenery, yes. Clear shots to the green, not so much.

If you're Scottish, you know that everyday life is a dreary, drunken lurch from the Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter to Braveheart to -- well depending on how much scotch you managed to steal -- Joan of Arc, but even Scots have some standards (Don't hold me to this; it's a review, not a polygraph). Thing is, if the story is about supreme female beauty, shouldn't the two rivals be beautiful?

Not trying to be mean. Just honest. Charlize Theron is pretty and sexy. Beautiful in the classical, ancient Scottish sense? No. She looks like she's from Ohio.

Murron was beautiful.

Which brings me to Kristen Stewart. I admit it, I was laboring under the handicap of Joan Rivers, who in an episode of Fashion Police opined that she had never seen the girl with her mouth closed (which btw my Joan's Ranger wife also has said repeatedly about Eli Manning), and so I watched and waited through the first full hour of this endless movie until she did, momentarily, close her mouth. But am I just old, or is this girl really not "the fairest in the land"? The script wants us to be in awe of her, but the script also makes a huge point of her mother wanting a daughter with "hair as black as a raven's wing" and the director follows up with a child sporting light brown hair and then Kristen with darker brown hair. Huh? Plus, she's kind of a stick. Physically and actorishly. (I know. Not a word. But actresses all wear "actor" codpieces these days, don't they? Things we Scots notice, barbarians that we are.) She definitely ain't no Joan of Arc. Let alone Boudica.

I'm kind of not buying the whole thing. A-plus for the history. D-minus for everything else. I mean, when your first response to a change of plot or a feat of cinematography is to identify the movie it reminds you of, you might be losing your audience. Hey, that metal effect is from T2. Cool. Hey, that's Shadowfax from LOTR. Cool. Here come the dwarves (finally...). Hey, that's Ian McShane and Bob Hoskins and Nick Frost! Cool. They're really short! We needed them why? No reason. Apparently they showed up on set with nothing better to do that day and got cast as extras. But where are the damn lovely elves?

Which puts me in mind of my final point. Casting. (My wife disagrees btw, but women are so cruel about other women. Too old? Indeed.) If you insist on having Aussies play Scots, since Scots are apparently no longer up to the challenge, cough, Chris Hemsworth, cough, the part of the evil queen should have been played by Cate Blanchette.

Cate is beautiful. And sinister too.

But who should have played Snow White? Easy, easy answer. Milla Jovovich:

I mean if you want a kick-ass, Joan of Arc-type Snow White....

Anyone who disagrees can invalidate this review by explaining where Kristen Stewart found the knife she used in the climactic scene and why, beforehand, she seemed to be desperately reaching for another knife beyond her grasp.

Yeah. Thought not. We Scots know our history. We know where Snow White kept her knife.

Jersey loses one more
of its crown jewels

THE KALAS QUOTIENT. Now Steve Sabol is dead. An incalculable loss.

Ironies abound. New Yorkers sneer at New Jersey because both their NFL teams play in Jersey. Down south, Jersey sports fans laugh at New Yorkers while they root for the Eagles, Flyers, Sixers, and Phillies of Philadelphia. But they actually have a right to laugh. Philly and South Jersey are joined at the hip, and there's no better proof of that than NFL Films, a Jersey enterprise that transformed and elevated the NFL by combining Jersey vision with Philly talent to the betterment of the entire nation.

The NFL Network did a show not long ago about the top ten sports voices EVER in the NFL. Merrill Reese, radio voice of the Eagles, was on the list as he should have been. But as I watched, I thought -- petulantly -- there is only ONE that can be Number One. The jerks at NFL Network better not mess this one up. They didn't. John Facenda.

The greatest? Yes. The one and only? No. Because after Facenda there was Harry Kalas. Oops. Can't find a Kalas Youtube from the years after he took over from Facenda. But he did. Proof? He was also on the top ten voices of the NFL, even though he was most beloved as a Phillies broadcaster and never called an Eagles game.

Side note. When I went looking for Harry Kalas, managed to find this about Fred Biletnikoff, Hall of Famer Oakland Raider. Pissed me off. Why? Because the Raiders never retired his number. The Raiders never retired Biletnikoff's number. Last week I saw a Raiders receiver sporting the number 25. What the fuck? Even the NFL lists him as the all time best Number 25 ever. Al Davis is residing in hell. No doubt.

NFL Films was all about the narrative. Since I talked about the narrative thing yesterday, I was uncomfortable with a Sabol eulogy until my wife pointed out that Sabol was making narratives of the past, not the present or future. Which is a pretty big difference.

To this day, NFL Films relies on Philly talent: Angelo Cataldi, Howard Eskin, Ray Didinger, Big Daddy Graham, Brian Baldinger, and others. Why this particular piece of NFL Films propaganda seems like beating your mother.

But maybe that's who we've become in the 21st century.

Rest in peace, Steve Sabol. The new century isn't worthy of you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Raebert is depressed.

You can tell when deerhounds are happy. Today he isn't.

APOTH IS OFFENDED. SOMETHING ABOUT PERFORMANCE ART. Raebert's sitting right next to me. He seems to think I'm taking the election too seriously. Maybe he's right.

All the smart people seem to be resigned if not actually looking forward to a second Obama term. (Oh the thrill of being cleverer than idealistic schmucks....) Hell. Why not me? I can assure you there will be no InstaPunk the day after an Obama reelection. Will I be done then?

Noooooo. When a country officially enters its period of humiliating decline, the arts prosper. Jumping up and down on the dead bones of a once great nation is good business. So I'm exploring possibilities. Here's your chance to stick an oar in the fetid waters of Obamamerica. Should I go for the big bucks of a bestseller or the equally mercenary rewards of a political show trial? (I won't mind being in prison. From what I can gather, prisoners do better than seniors will do under ObamaCare. Pat will bring me lemon squares, and the drugs are bound to be better than the no drugs I've had since college.)

Offer your suggestions. I'm listening. Tired of encouraging people who don't want to fight to save their own country for their kids and grand kids. My guess is, Raebert will continue to sit beside me, whether he approves of my mood or not.

Believe it or not, he's trying to cheer me up.

Do we go gentle into that good night? Well, what's the advance? (You see, what we do next will definitely be 'performance art.' As opposed to the fighting tooth and claw we've been doing for just shy of 10 years here. Two million words worth. Excuse us all to hell for having a light moment Friday.)

Best suggestion will receive a polite acknowledgment in the foreword of our bestselling comedy masterpiece or our bestselling book about the politically incorrect speech trial that landed us in prison. All good. See?

P.S. My computer refuses to boot, so I can't post the Raebert pics. But you can still see them. The missus has them posted on Facebook. Look at the first comment for a link. My only use ever for Facebook.

P.P.S. Computer finally awoke from its coma. Thanks to my wife and to Lake for leaping into action when I couldn't supply the images myself. Note to Apoth: Don't be cross. To one degree or another, a blog like this one is always performance art. Which is not mutually exclusive with honesty or truth. When you're not being grumpy, you know that. Why I suggested you review the 10 years of Instapunk archives. Come to think of it, everyone else should too.

Monday, September 17, 2012

100 Percent Noise

The human brain under the influence of Obama.

PUTTING YOU ON. The news is all so completely bad that it's worth either a book of commentary a day or no comment whatsoever. A thousand facts should be cited or none should be needed. So I will (sort of) split the difference with some scattered thoughts that may seem random but are not.

Since the appalling explosion in the middle east, the one page of headlines at the Drudge Report should be sufficient to convince voters that any alternative to Obama is acceptable and that Romney is about the least sinister alternative conceivable. In just a couple of days late last week we had links to stories: 1) indicating that the U.S. had been warned of an impending 9/11 attack in Libya while the Obama administration was denying both that it had received any warning and that the attacks had anything to do with America, Obama, or anything but a lame video repeating the long ago (but well documented) charges of Salman Rushdie; 2) verifying that U.S. gas prices had doubled since Obama took office; 3) announcing that U.S. debt had been downgraded yet again from A to A-minus; 4) calculating that average U.S. incomes had fallen to 1995 levels; 5) establishing that the 4.5 million claimed Obama era jobs created -- offset by perhaps 20 million job losses in the same timeframe -- were essentially subsistence level positions in the fast food industry; 6) speculating that an isolated and frightened Israel was preparing an all-out assault on Iranian nuclear installations; 7) revealing that Iran acknowledged having elite troops stationed in Syria even as it threatened the west with $150/barrel oil prices; 8) citing the huge number of MSM attacks on Romney for mentioning foreign policy while the president was telling snarky jokes about Romney and Republicans at fundraisers in Las Vegas and with Beyonce in New York; 9)  reporting, somewhat disbelievingly, that liberals and even the DOJ were advocating prosecution of those whose free speech offended muslim terrorists -- in the context of complete silence from the ACLU; and 10) polls by leading MSM outlets showed Obama opening up a substantial lead on Romney in the presidential campaign.

Ten is a round number. I could add more, but they'd all be in the same vein. The Obama administration is the most utter and total disaster of my lifetime. What else do you want to drive it home? Samuel Jackson taping an ad for the Obama base whose tagline is "Wake the fuck up!" Or the story that got the most Google hits while the world was imploding: The Duchess of Cambridge got photographed topless!!!???

I've read so much in recent days that I can't think for the life of me who said this, so I apologize. But I will repeat the thought because while the First Amendment is experiencing this unexpectedly virulent assault from liberals, actors, artists, musicians, and film directors who have always clung (bitterly?) to the knees of ACLU lawyers when their works transgressed the bounds of taste and consensus morality, this one clear voice summarized the whole mess in a single well chosen sentence: "The founders made freedom of expression an absolute right because they conceived of the press as a defense of the people against government; now the press has become the defense of the government against the people."

The key word in the old days was "reporting." The new key word is "narrative." The MSM is no longer in the business of facts, hard questions, and populist skepticism. They are in the business of creating the story for which supporting facts are summoned or created and of ignoring facts and omitting questions which might change the preferred story. A useful question to ask: how many of the MSM narratists are themselves members of the 1 percent? Concoct any list you want to of the people who shape the news for us from network and cable news desks (not to mention Hollywood). How many of them are not not under contract for upwards of $250K to upwards of multimillions a year? The 99 percent are those who are expected to submit to their smooth faces and patronizing reconfigurations of the facts. Obama sneers at the idea that people are worse off than they were four years ago. We should too? Really? And what the hell would you know about that, Matt Lauer, Diane Sawyer, Brian Williams, Bob Schieffer, George Stephanopoulos, David Gregory, Judy Woodruff, David Gergen, and company? "Because we know that Obama is going to win, as he should, and everyone who doesn't agree is a gap-toothed, gun-crazy, fundamentalist racist from some godforsaken place that isn't Washington, New York, Los Angeles, or the Hamptons."

Got a lesson this weekend in MSM narratives. Courtesy of the NFL.

Bear with me, non-sports-fans. Sports journalism takes its cue from big-time journalism. They're under the same pressure for headlines, and they're an instructive example of the symbiotic relationship between big media and big government, of which the NFL is the best and most powerful example. (The NCAA is another lesser example, but as a footnote, observe how the sports media are slowly shutting down their coverage of the Penn State scandal. Better for them if the stain goes away quickly. When Penn State won its first game this year against a lowly Navy team, coverage of ugly campus demonstrations against the Penn State president and the governor of Pennsylvania -- on grounds Paterno had been unfairly smeared by the Freeh Report -- were virtually nonexistent. Penn State won its first victory under a new head coach!!! And so it goes.)

Minus political parties, for example, ESPN and the major networks who cover the NFL operate a lot like the MSM. Certain targets for abuse and derision are acceptable: Tim Tebow, Terrell Owens, Rex Grossman, Tony Romo, Ocho Cinco, and Philadelphia fans have always made good copy because it's always okay to ridicule them. They're outside the protected circle. Other potential targets are handled with kid gloves. Donovan McNabb has been immune from criticism since Rush Limbaugh suggested he was being given a pass by the sports media. Which he was. He may yet get into the Hall of Fame despite a career that proved he always fell short in critical situations and during which he was never averse to throwing everyone else under the bus for his own failures.

The most educational part of the NFL example is that its heroes and villains are more fluid than those of politics. Which means you can see the narratives grappling to find the narratives that best serve their NFL masters. And masters they are. Without NFL cooperation, they don't get to talk to the superstars in the "candid" terms they purvey to their viewers.

Sorry this is long, but be thinking throughout of the presidential campaign. This post is not about football.

So after Week 1 of the NFL season what did we get from CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN? Not real analysis, which would have been 'nothing to see here yet, move along,' but pronouncements about huge storylines we were expected to hang on like soap opera cliffhangers:

-- Indianapolis might be regretting its first-round choice of a quarterback who got intercepted three times while RG3 lit up the scoreboard for the Washington Redskins.

-- The New York Jets are finally back on track with Mark Sanchez, and Tebow (if Palin were a guy) might as well go away.

-- The Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo are for real this year, maturing into greatness.

-- Sure New Orleans had a bad day, but they're still the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees will regroup his team in a trice. Nobody beats the Saints twice in a row.

-- Michael Vick got lucky against Cleveland, but he's only a paper tiger now. Cleveland had a lousy rookie QB and an equally lousy rookie RB who managed only 2 yd/carry.

-- The Baltimore Ravens are bound for the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco is an elite QB at last.

-- The New York Giants were going to obliterate Tampa after the Dallas embarrassment.

-- Peyton Manning is still Peyton Manning. His brother is still second best.

-- The 49ers are the best team in football., bar none.

We heard endless blather about all these narratives all week. Then came Week 2. It doesn't matter that all the original narratives might still be right. It's that Week 2 made some of them look wrong. Indy won and Washington lost. Which makes Luck and RG3 even in the infant season. The Jets got crushed by the Steelers. The Cowboys lost humiliatingly. New Orleans lost again and didn't even seem to be trying too hard on key plays. Michael Vick refused to lose yet again against a great team and engineered a second touchdown comeback for a another one point victory. The Ravens looked sick and dumbstruck against the Eagles, resorting to calling the Eagles a "dirty" team. Really? The Ravens? Flacco displayed his classic deer in the headlights look for the whole second half. Super Bowl? Think again. Cleveland's "lousy" rookie QB and RB had big days against the Cincinnati Bengals, suggesting they're NFL caliber and unlucky to have met the Eagles defense first (ask Flacco.) Eli threw three interceptions in the first half but won the game in the end with 510 yards passing. (Yeah, Peyton is still Peyton...) And the 49ers failed to accomplish a blowout against the upstart Lions. But they won. Best team in football? A looooong season awaits.

What's interesting about all this is how the networks responded. I'm not imagining this. We watched the Eagles-Ravens game and switched back and forth between the Jets-Steelers game and the Washington-Rams game. We got the game updates from the presiding network. What we didn't get was updates from the Dallas, Indy, Saints, or Giants games.  The official narrative was being sabotaged. And in the games we did watch, the broadcasters clung to the official narrative until it could no longer be sustained.

For example, my wife, since Vick, has become a Ravens fan. We watched, with me rooting for Eagles and her rooting for Ravens to the bitter end. Even in her view, the Ravens thought they could bully and intimidate the Eagles when they came to Philadelphia. They failed. The second half belonged entirely to the Eagles and Vick. There's an odd hole in the physics of the universe she remembers from when she was an Eagles fan: it doesn't matter how long a field goal you try or who tries it that will fail against the Eagles. IT WILL ALWAYS BE GOOD. The Ravens kicked three field goals against the Eagles averaging more than 50 yards apiece. You're a tough guy? Tell me you beat me with three 50+ yard field goals. The Eagles beat the hell out of the Ravens. But the narrative persisted. Fox, CBS, and NBC all called it an ugly game and showed mostly Eagles screw-ups, interceptions, fumbles, and disputed calls from the fake refs. The broadcasters on the scene called it a playoff game.

What it was. What it will be. How about them San Diego Chargers? Best team in football.

The narrative. Be alert to it. And how synthetic it is. Reality ain't how the press calls it. Especially now. Listen for the story they're trying to sell you and understand that the story is all noise. Why the games are played. Why the votes are counted.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Limbaugh Trashes
Instapunk Commenters

TALKING ABOUT THE RACE. It was just an accident. I don't listen to him that often. I listened today because Laura Ingraham finally came out of her daze and realized the enemy isn't` Romney but Obama. It hurt her a lot to have to condemn Hillary because she's a charter member of the Old Girl Network. But she bit the bullet and did what she had to do. Hillary apologizing for the first amendment is, I guess, a thing that severs the immense psychic ovarian connection between all women of power. Thank God something does.

Then came Limbaugh. He started by identifying "The Ivy League Graduate Team." I immediately texted my wife, who was immediately concerned. I pooh-poohed her concerns. "You're part of that team," she said. I said:

I'm the Resistance. Why I'm so much madder than my commenters. I was in the Borg and never lost consciousness.  I'm the one who KNOWS.

Later, Rush said, "The question isn't why Romney isn't running away with it. It's why Obama isn't up 20 points. MSM flat out to prop him up and destroy his opponent, Hollywood working overtime to convince us gay rights and free contraception outweigh the Constitution itself, and the Federal Reserve determined to pump him up for reelection. "We have never printed money like this before."

And then, in passing, he mentioned Instapunk. He said:

There's a small blog called Instapunk. A Harvard guy reporting from, well I guess you'd have to call it Mordor. His commenters actually agree with him and his analyses. But they are all are convinced we'll lose. Because they're smarter than the guy who's laying it all out for them. If you want to lose, there's every reason to expect to lose. If you want to win, it's a lonely proposition. Hang in there, Instapunk.

I will.

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