Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
November 30, 2012 - November 23, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012


Getting your mind right

When nothing makes sense, nonsense is the last resort.

. The news is all bad and will keep getting worse. There's almost nowhere to hide. But it's important to rediscover the goodness in life, which is a principal function of humor. Unfortunately, TV sitcoms offer none. They're throwbacks to Vaudeville and Burlesque, full of leering over-the-top double entendres but worse, because they're designed to make us think that everyone is venal, selfish, stupid, and ridiculous. The punchlines punch all right. They just don't line up with anything akin to goodness, unless your definition of goodness is political correctness. That's not humor. It's vandalism and frequently propaganda.

Nothing else in the mass media is much better. It's nearly impossible to escape the political agendas in dramatic TV series, movies, and supposedly educational documentaries. Even fantasies are soul deadening. So-called escapes like The Walking Dead, Revolution, and Last Resort are advertisements for the secular translation of Original Sin. We're doomed because of human greed, technological pollution, and the rest of the age-old mortal sins defined by a church that is always depicted as a villain.

In the past, I've pointed to humor masterpieces that are increasingly forgotten. Not mean or pointed enough to suit the modern sensibility shaped by identity politics and safe targets like Christians, white men who can't dance, women who aren't as shallowly lustful as men, and people who don't spend every waking hour fretting about the evils of capitalism, racism, sexism, and the glorious wonderfulness of people who think square pegs go with square pegs, and round holes go with round holes, and vice- and inter-versa.

Fine. If that's what suits the New America, so be it. But I will suggest what no one else will, that it's okay to be weary of it all, in need of a healing time away from the thudding, constant refrain of the self-hating dumbing down. While all the political animals go nuts in their frenzy of reorientation associated with celebrating Obama's inevitable dismantling of the America we grew up in, I have some places you can go, away from the mass media and the internet, away from the brooding introspective lacerations and faddish reductionism. It's called humor. Herewith a new slate of books, yeah books, you might enjoy while you wait for people to rediscover their lost sanity.

Rhubarb by H. Allen Smith. A cat inherits a baseball team. Back when baseball was more like Ring Lardner's game than ours.

The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald. City folk in the country, raising chickens. Yeah, it's funny. No hidden agendas.

Acres and Pains by S.J. Perelman. New Yorker tries to run a farm in Bucks County, PA. Still no hidden agendas. Amazing!

Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley. Gentle humor. A spinster throws away her dull life to sell books from a horse drawn cart. How boring could it be? Not very. Whimsy is not always silly. Neither is this.

The Adventures of Gerard by Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock wasn't his whole opus. Etienne Gerard is completely hilarious, a French hussar in the Napoleonic era too dumb to feel fear. Ever. Imagine Inspector Clouseau as a tremendous athlete and horseman...

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Geez. Aren't we supposed to hate all those gays? The only play I've ever read that generates belly laughs from the page. The print has never been equalled by any stage production.

Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis. A cockroach taps out his adventures on a columnist's manual typewriter. All lower case of course, because he's not strong enough to depress the Shift Key. Brilliant.

The Night Life of the Gods by Thorne Smith. Impossible to describe. An R-rated Night at the Museum more than half a century earlier. And more booze than you'll find at any NFL tailgate party.

Zotz! by Walter Karig. A broad and funny satire of Pentagon bureaucracy in WWII by a naval officer. Short, sometimes risque, and a reminder that red tape is forever.

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. Nothing compares with reading Dashiell Hammett. Third person objective is the single hardest fictional point of view to write in. It's so spare and economical it makes movies seem like stream of consciousness. So wry it sometimes seems to wither the page it's written on. The tipping point is laughter.

Stay Away Joe by Dan Cushman. An old Book-of-the-Month Club selection. Best cover art ever. Not politically correct about French-Canadian Indians. If you take the stick out of your ass, you'll love it.

Many of these have been made into movies. In all cases, the books are better. Look into them. If your reading regimen makes you spend less time here, I don't mind. I applaud you. All I ask is that you check in when you read something good. Share your laughter. It's what we have to share with each other right now.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cool Winter Stuff

"Who is that other who walks beside you?" (I'll explain the quote if you ask.)

It feels suddenly wintry here. So I'm reposting an entry from a long time ago. What's new is that the superlative book Endurance by Alfred Lansing is now available on Kindle for $8.52. A tremendous bargain.

Snow Walker.

Eight Below.




You can't go wrong with any of these. All three movies are moving. Both books are worth turning off the cell phone for. Guaranteed.

Calling Dr. Waffle

LOOK AT COMMENTS FROM THE NASTY WOMAN POST. A commenter named Dr. Waffle and I crossed swords the other night. Things got out of hand. We're both hoping they don't again. It's obvious we don't agree about much. But maybe it's possible we can talk. If someone's willing to make the first move.

All right. Iíll start. On the starting over process, I mean.

What I believe. We are so obviously in decline that I have ceased inserting the links to facts I used to be punctilious about including.

The nation is in freefall. Employment down, way down. Interest rates at 0% to avoid the inflationary spiral you insist canít happen (quantitative eeeasingÖ ), housing market still flat, GDP falling, and Chicago the murder capital of the world. The fault belongs to both Democrats and Republicans. When Republicans had power, they spent too much, and Bush never vetoed a spending bill. I defend his foreign policy because I donít believe he lied to get us into Iraq. But wars are expensive, and the worst thing about them is that they can be lost after theyíve been won. Iraq is an expensive net loss. Obama has seen to that.

To me, the Arab Spring is a holocaust in the making. Hard core Islamists taking over everywhere, and Israel in the crosshairs. We could be substantially free of Mideast oil, but we have a president who refuses to exploit our own natural resources. Americans canít drill for oil offshore, but Brazilians can. Coal is actively regulated against by an Energy Secretary who would be happy to have American gas prices reach European levels. Fracking is done in by propaganda, though none of its supposed ill effects on groundwater have ever occurred. Climate change continues to be a political excuse for more regulation and carbon taxes, despite its name change from global warming, which stopped a dozen years ago if it ever existed at all.

The effective unemployment rate is 14 percent or higher when you factor in the people who have ceased looking for jobs and the underemployed. Young people and black people are especially hard hit. 50 percent unemployment for recent college grads and 14+ percent unemployment for black people. Yet both groups voted to reelect Obama. I feel sad for both but also angry about their ignorance. Does that make me racist and/or ageist? Probably in today's terms. I'm unapologetic.

Women.† Married women voted for Romney. Unmarried women voted for Obama. Unmarried women are largely single mothers who should have voted their pocketbooks but voted their ovaries instead. Does this make me angry? Yes. What do they prefer? Making a living or fucking and handouts? Now we know. Would I vote to deny women the vote? No. But do I have strong feelings about their contribution to the body politic? Yes.

You laugh when I bring up abortion. 790,000 abortions last year. Annual deaths recorded in the United States, about 2.5 million. Factored in, 25 percent of annual U.S. deaths are due to abortion, making it the leading cause of death in our country. Hardly a laughing matter. Seven out of ten births are out of wedlock, meaning no father, no family. I guess this is supposed to even itself out. Which means itís a policy of eugenics, no matter how you spin it. All spinning aside, this is a huge issue. Both the abortions and the illegitimate births are very disproportionately among minorities.

The public education system is completely broken. We have teachers who canít teach who are protected by a union tenure system originally intended for Einstein-like professors but now extended to elementary school teachers who arenít even proficient in the subjects theyíre supposed to teach.† I know you hate my anecdotes, but I swear to you I have never heard a teacher interviewed on camera in a labor action who did not commit a grammatical error, or three or five.

The demographics of the fiscal mess are insane. The Baby Boomers are, without doubt, the LARGEST generation. They are retiring every day now. Their Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security† costs will be crushing. The cost of ObamaCare on top of that is unknown.

Taxing the rich is not the answer. Itís a political placebo, as you know. Iím well aware that the first president who tried a 90 percent tax rate on the rich was Herbert Hoover. Didnít work for him. All it is now is a public relations stratagem.

And from my standpoint, the whole Obama administration is nothing but a public relations stratagem. One ruse after another to conceal one scandal after another. The crony-driven bankruptcy of General Motors, shutting out legitimate creditors in favor of the UAW, Fast & Furious, Benghazi, and many lesser instances of corruption.

What am I angriest about? Not Obamaís place of birth. Not his race. Not the gullibility of women.Not even the gullibility of African-Americans who are materially worse off since Obama became president and still voted for him overwhelmingly. Iím angriest about the mainstream media. Donít demand that I show all the proof. Itís so abundant I could fill a single-spaced webpage with statistics. From first to last, the mainstream media have protected Obama, covered his mistakes, attacked his opponents, concealed his scandals, and done everything possible to make him look what he is most definitely not Ė likeable.

Truth is, and everyone knows it. heís a thin-skinned narcissist who pals around with celebrities when he should be working in the Oval Office. He doesnít actually like being a politician. The worst possible credential for a president. Thatís not racism. Itís simple accurate observation. No press conferences, no meetings with his his own congressional leaders, and definitely no meetings with the opposition. Where does that leave us? Up shit creek. For four more disastrous years.

Iím not homophobic either. Just watched the comedy Kinky Boots. About a black transvestite boot designer. Loved it.

Is this the basis for a conversation? Iíve put my cards on the table. Maybe itís time for you to do the same.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting used to decline

It was finally done right. Perfectly. My mother loved Basil Rathbone.
She just didn't live long enough to see it done finally perfectly right.

BRITS NOTWITHSTANDING. Okay. We're headed downward. No argument there. Something that's held up for the decades since World War 2, though, is the analogy between the Brits as Greeks and the American as †Romans. We had the Hollywood money, and they had Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton.

Time we started learning how to be our own Greeks. Hell, †even slave states can still have an impact. After the second Obama term, there won't be anything left of our our former economic might. We'll have to start excelling at the minor corners of life, which is to say, competing with the Brits at self-promotion of a completely fictional past via TV and the movies.

We may think we have a lead in this regard because American action movies still do well in international markets. But all that will be done when the 800,000,000 man Chinese army and its 8,000 ships rule the world. Unless we redefine our entertainment industry, we'll be looking at a billion reconfigurations of Bruce Lee martial arts crapolas.

Why it's instructive to look at recent treatments of Sherlock Holmes on both sides of the Atlantic. You know. The embodiment of objective western reason we credit with the advance of civilization in the known world.

Yeah. The Brits and the Americans have a feevah! Called Sherlock Holmes. What's it all about, and what do the permutations mean?

There are three principal entries: one Brit-American (hands across the sea if you will), one pure Brit, and one pure American. What they all have in common is an insistence on ripping Sherlock Holmes from his Victorian home into a contemporary context.

Odd, eh? Especially given that the Brits finally achieved the definitive rendering of Holmes only a decade or so ago. The grail was found and the cup was full.

What comes after completion? A kind of jeering. What is perfect in the past must be mocked, transformed, ridiculed. Decline is the order of the day. Hence the Anglo-American production of Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey, Jr. And its sequel. Holmes as a giddy, even hysterical, martial arts sociopath, abandoning reason for full-on action movie violence. Nothing is too much. The setting is still Victorian, but the psychology is pure present day, including Holmes in full drag as he karates his way to mystery's end. Awful.

Greeks pandering to Romans. I suppose you could call it whoring.

At the other end of the spectrum is the American TV series called "Elementary." Now we have a Holmes in latter-day Manhattan, a tattooed heroin addict saddled with a full-time nurse named Dr. Watson, who is in reality a failed surgeon played by Lucy Liu. What's the point? That a Sherlock Holmes would be regarded as dysfunctional in our enlightened society, that we might put up with him to a point, provided he doesn't fail his next drug test? I think so. A Holmes without real romance, brilliance, or charisma. He's just a round peg in a square hole, and Lucy Liu is the round hole we, and he, are going to be teased with. For years if the network gets its way.

American smugness and vulgarity.

Which brings us to the Brit version, called "Sherlock." Sometimes, not always, Greeks know how to be Greeks. Meaning, this series is a lesson for Americans on how to revitalize their own mythologies.

"Sherlock" is almost as good as the original scripture. Everything is true except for the characterization of Mycroft. Every episode is worth seeing, but none more so than "A Scandal in Belgravia," which is as clever and moving as anything in the canon.

Lesson? The Romans were ham-handed when they were in charge. The Greeks had to be subtle. Now that we're on the way out as a power, it's time we learned some of the arts of remaining influential and attractive when our power has evaporated.

A trick of charm the Brits have learned, no matter how much they hate themselves. It's called survival. Reconfiguring the past to make ourselves look better than the impotent weaklings we've become. Tricks of wit and architecture and landscape. Pretend we're on top of the technology that's burying us. Pretend in a crisp, strong voice. CGI a smarter not a splashier future. Use tits sparingly but ruthlessly. The one thing we have on the rest of the world. No matter who they are, they like our tits best. We have to figure new ways to be the new Greeks, powerless but still necessary.

Maybe it's time for a new generation of westerns. Or screwball comedies. Or anything that doesn't smack of self-imposed death. Or worse, contented mediocrity.

One more thing. In their contemporary interpretations, both Brits and Americans have done Sherlock a huge disservice. One I believe significant. All the contemporary Sherlocks treat women like swine. Sherlock Holmes may not have regarded female intelligence highly for the most part, but he was unfailingly polite and even courtly. He was a boor to men who undoubtedly deserved it; to individual women he was unfailingly a gentleman. Our need to disfigure him in this regard in the name of our own political correctness is more a reflection on us than him.

Think about that.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Perversion
Of Good Ideas

I love this clip. How BORED he is. How drab and conventionally
liberal (Ali McLarter!!?) his list of self-actualized persons. Perfect.

MAWRITES. Go to Wiki for a decent breakdown of Maslow's hierarchy. I only remembered it because a friend nominated my wife for the the top level of the hierarchy. We both had to look it up again.

Truth in the contemporary context. The wonder is that individual responsibility ever prevailed in the American Experiment. Not that the American Experiment has now failed.

The United States of America was doomed from the moment women got the vote. Ann Coulter knows it. My wife knows it but won't say it. Mostly, they can't rise above the Family and Friends level of the hierarchy. Everybody should do for them because they have kids. Voila! Obama.

I have always hated the latter-day thrillers in which mom and dad are prepared to do anything to protect a child who has committed an unspeakable crime. That's moral nonsense. Not how families should ever behave in a civilized world. "That's my baby!!!!" Is not proof against the obligations of moral human experience.

But that's what we celebrate now. Women insist on being both madonnas AND whores. They want to be canonized for the physiological act of motherhood WHILE being granted the exclusive right to be as promiscuous as they want and end a life because they happen to harbor it in their wombs.

News. Women aren't gods. They don't get to run everything because they have the ability to get pregnant.

No society before ours has granted them the power to rule more than the home. For 5,000 years, civilization has known they possess the power to destroy everything. Within the last 50 years we embarked on a great experiment that not only proves they can, but that they have done it in very short order.

Why do we call it the nanny state? Because it's run by women stuck at the Family and Friends level of the Maslow Hierarchy.

Anybody doubt that Michelle can whip Barack's ass? Of course she can. Has she? Of course she has. The result? The insanity of a rejected twerp.

One more metaphor brought to you by Instapunk.

btw. Apologies to all my female friends who don't deserve not to vote. I'm sorry. I truly am. But the government has grown and grown and grown ever since women decided government needed to take care of everyone. How FDR got elected. Maybe it's the right thing to do. But is it? If it kills our whole civilization? The Catholic Church has been wrong all this time that women need to be especially virtuous? Now that more than 7 out of 10 births are illegitimate. When women are loud, promiscuous, and in charge, civilization dies.

Bullshit. The blood of men is the bloody footprints of civilization.
Yes, women have suffered. Men die for ideas by millions. Look it up.

That's not a provocative statement. It's the simple fucking truth. What's more, every woman whose opinion you respect already knows this. She just doesn't want to talk about it.

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