SCOPE OF MY INTEREST. Yeah, I know it's here. Harvard's even
in it, all the way till about 10 pm EST tonight. But who has the
time to pontificate knowledgeably about brackets? I mean, you'd have
to spend hours and hours (and hours) watching college basketball
games in a dozen or more conferences, learning the players, the
teams and their tendencies, records, and seasonal momentum. It's a
staggering investment of time, and I just don't have the slack in my
schedule to allow for it.
Why I'm happy to delegate it to someone who obviously does have all
the free time necessary, with nothing better to do.
Over to you, Mr. President.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Ah yes. Instapunk on the Brits. A
goood long lashing. Yum yum.
THE BOOK OF BLOODY
BRITS. Instapunk has also done a lot of posts on the Brits and
some of their Commonwealth factotums, including Canada and
Australia. We haven't been especially kind except with regard to
their movie and other dramatic efforts. The sum of those posts is
another book. Commenters from the kingdom and its vassals haven't
liked what we had to say. Why all the negative rhetoric?
That would be the job of a foreword. An opportunity to mention a few
facts that don't normally come up when one is dealing topically with
the scorn of individual Commonwealth Brits who look down absolutely
on us poor benighted, superstitious, ignorant, rapacious,
war-mongering, racist buggers.
Which is all a crock. We are, and always have been, the good ones
who left the bad ones behind in our search for freedom and
opportunity. They can pretend that they got somehow more civilized
in the intervening centuries, but they didn't. They're still who
they have always been, only without the spine.
No end of the ways they lecture and sneer at us. But they've always
been, above all else, snobs. Everybody who wasn't British was a
"wog." Guess what. We're wogs to them too. A mixed race rabble
they're inherently superior to.
Oops. Did I just suggest the enlightened Labourite Brits are
classist and racist? Yup. I did. Note: home of some of the greatest
rationalists who ever lived. Did it improve their moral character?
In hindsight, they did what Brizoni wants us to do now. Transcend
the superstitious diktats of Christianity by subordinating religion,
safely eviscerated of theology, to the authority of an educated
elite. Whose science understood better than the stupid people what
was necessary for ineluctable progress.
Apart from their literature, which they give every sign of not
understanding at all, they have earned absolutely no right to
lecture anyone on earth about matters moral and ethical. We
Americans carried away the best of what their writers and
philosophers had to say and made impossible ideas real. The ones
left behind continued in a fantasy of unscrupulous domination and
exploitation that looks less bad than the Nazis because it was so
typically English -- slow, polite, and deadly instead of sudden,
ugly, and deadly.
Believe it or not, they're STILL the English we fought a war to free
ourselves from. Think about the Revolution. Am I the only one who
never quite believed that a third of the colonial population risked
everything because of an excise tax on tea?!!! Sure, they're smart,
but isn't there just something off
Of course, there is. And we can see it right now, even as our own
form of government flirts with becoming more and more like theirs.
The Brits ruled India for more than a hundred years. (Ruled is a
mild word. It's called the "Raj" for God's sake.) India is filled
with smart people, one of the oldest advanced civilizations in
history and presently one of the fastest growing economies on earth.
After all that time, what do you suppose is the current Indian
population in the U.K.? Bear in mind that throughout the Raj, Indian
population was always at least ten times the population of Britain,
and it's more like twenty times today.
Oh, guess. Britain has first rate universities, a prosperous
high-tech industrial sector in need of the mathematically inclined
and gifted, and a devotedly humble post-colonial spirit of making up
for historical wrongs that it's so anxious to lord over, say, the
United States. One can only imagine the outreach that has occurred
to its former colony in the years since Indian independence.
Give up? The Indian population of the U.K. Is about four percent. In
fact, the native white population of the U.K. Is 92 percent, which
also allows for a black population of 2 percent (despite all those
African colonies back in the day) and 2 percent of other assorted
wogs, including Muslims. Meanwhile, the minority representation in
the Parliament's House of Commons stands at a whopping 3.3 percent
of 650 seats. Which is just over a third of the 8 percent minorities
represented in the population. Most of those, by the way, are held
by people of Indian descent. Something like the Jews, maybe. You
just can't hold them down, even if they can't be admitted to your
Compare this to the backward and racist U.S. There are 435 seats in
the U.S. House of Representatives. Of these 44 are currently
occupied by African-Americans, who represent 12.5 percent of our
population. A whole bunch more are Hispanic. Our minorities are
about 75 percent represented versus their population.
[I assure you you don't want to see how much better Canada and
Australia are doing. Despite their anti-American sanctimony, they
don't even publish such figures. Canadians have few black
people and barely any "aboriginals." What happened to them all?
Aussies are still counting up aboriginal massacres and noting when
some one of them got elected to a local assembly. Not kidding.]
I'm reminded of the supercilious British posturing about the fact
that they outlawed slavery long before we did. Big check mark in the
Brit box. Except it depends on what you mean by "long." They, the
most powerful and technologically and educationally advanced nation
on earth, outlawed slavery in 1833. A full 29 years before their
formerly subjugated American colony did. (Think 1984 vs. today. Then
think 5,000 years of recorded history. Huge moral advantage, eh, for
a nation that never let wogs in in the first place...)
Speaking of which, the Americans had an unpleasant southern problem
the Brits like to torture us about. They think we still have it.
Ironies abound. Always invisible to the idiots who make the world up
to please themselves. Americans solved the part of the southern
problem that could be solved by violence in the 1860s. The problem
that persisted got worked out mostly nonviolently within a hundred
years. The Brits had an "Irish Problem" for how long? And their efforts at
resolution included military violence and suppression until the
fucking 1990s? Resolved only with the help of an, uh, American
Not the end of the ironies. To this day, the American south is
closer to the Brits in terms of cultural phenomena than anything up
north. The south is home to aristocratic writers and poets, as well
as those who farm the land for, well, the landowners. You know,
squires and earls and dukes and such. Language is an indicator. In
Britain, there is one more or less unified aristocratic accent,
except that Oxford boys have to stutter to prove they didn't go to
Yale, I mean Cambridge. Same holds true in the south. There is one
aristocratic southern accent, which you'll hear in graduates from
UVA, Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt, and Duke. Can't tell where they're
from. They're the quality. In the rest of the south the lowly
regional accents vary so much you sometimes need to turn on the
captions at Comcast, the way you always have to with BBC programs
set outside Miss Marple's drawing room. Yes, they can act and they
can write little entertainments, but only because they have learned
one lesson we can't seem to; keep the entertainers in entertainment,
and don't ever pretend they're as big as the people they play on the
screen. But I guess that's a by-product of realizing you're all
really really small. After all.
One of only many reasons why the Brits shouldn't ever try to
condescend to us. The biggest one is the question of the
Constitution. They keep telling us there's a British Constitution
too. But that's just a convenient generalization, meaning it's
Yes, their system of laws is the ancestor of our own, but ours was a
vast improvement. There is no written British Constitution. It
exists only metaphorically as the sum total of all British judicial
rulings since the Magna Carta. Millions of pages of arguable legal
points. And they have all been argued into the ground. Why Britain
is now the most surveilled society in the so-called free western
world, why they are at this moment considering laws designed to
muzzle the free press, and why after all these centuries they have
so completely failed to overturn class hierarchies that they imagine
a dictatorial political class is somehow different from a set of
twit feudal lords-in-charge without the slightest qualifications to
do anything but sputter. Or should that be stutter?
Note that I haven't mentioned the Scots. They rarely do, either.
Imagine a handful of 19th century power lords waging continual war
on New England and Virginia until all the vital resources of the
country are conceded, automatically and in perpetuity, to be located
in DC. What Brit history has wrought. There's London. And then
there's the nowhere of everywhere else.
They're proud of themselves. They've liberated women. 25 percent of
MPs are women, compared to 18 percent of the U.S. Congress. On the
other hand, all Brit women over the age of 40 are actually men, or
what passes for men in the U.K. Hollow victory, what? They've spent
the last quarter century vilifying the one female prime minister who
kept them from subsiding to the level Greece and Spain occupy today.
What's that about? Oh yes. They hate women. Or they hate the fact
that they now need their women to be men.
Want more? Look up how many Brit music superstars are not pasty
white. The British Invasion was all white and killed Motown. Before that, Brit Big Band was Ted Heath and all white. If you're content with that, they're in love with that. Aggrieved about racial injustice? Burn your Beatles records.( At least, Keith Richards stood there and let Chuck Berry punch him in the face.) I know the Brit conceit is that they are the sophisticated
Greeks to America's rude Rome, but in the wrestlings of
civilizations, I propose that there can be reversals. How many times have they been the imitators? Is there a Brit precursor of the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building? No. It's been all us for a long long time.
Here's the truth they sense but can't tolerate. The source of their
invective and bile. Britain is The Rome that gave birth to America's
Golden Age of Greece. Everything they can do we have done better.
Think about it.
After this should come my long list of posts. Then, probably, an
Unless nobody cares.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The software assures me you can see this clip. Even if you have to click
on over to YouTube.
Did some compiling. Lots of IP entries about the Rolling Stones,
who should always have been called Mick Jagger and the Rolling
Stones. I don't even care if this one is book-length. It's so
important it's not negotiable.
What catalyzes this particular effort? The clip above. Never saw
it before. But it says everything, and poses questions about
everything. It comes from a Stones-sponsored TV concert
called the Rolling
Stones Rock and Roll Circus. Conventional wisdom was that it was
long unreleased because Jagger didn't like the Stones
performance. Though one key critic disagreed:
In a 1996 review, Janet Maslin
called the film an "uneven but ripely nostalgic show";
although "rumor had it that the Stones... thought they looked
tired and felt upstaged by the high-energy Who", "it hardly
looks that way as Mick Jagger's fabulous performance nearly
turns this into a one-man show." She called Jethro Tull's
performance a "shaky start" by "arguably the most unbearable
band of their day", said The Who "turn up early and stop
traffic, delivering a fiery [performance]", and notes Yoko
Ono's "glass-shattering shrieks" are "dutifully" backed by The
Dirty Mac. She calls the concert-ending sing-along of "Salt of
the Earth" smug and condescending, a "song about little people
living in the real world."
Of course, noted condescender to little people Joan Baez
covered "Salt of the Earth" not long after. Crazy times.
The video was recorded about a year before the Altamont
disaster that made Jagger a Satanic figure for a generation.
I think I might be writing the Foreword to "Instapunk on The
Rolling Stones." So be it. I really have been that fascinated
over the years.
Two long-haired rock stars on a cheap set. For all the
Beatles-Stones advocates, it can't help but be a confrontation
of sorts. Jagger seems diffident, deferential. Lennon seems
self-assured and patronizing. At the end he hands his discarded
food plate to Jagger and the moment is over. Except for a second
just before the cut when Jagger looks at Lennon and says, "You
are blues, John. You are blues." In the last fraction of a
second Jagger looks at the departing Lennon and his eyes are...
Well, you call it. I'm thinking knowing.
Context. It's the old Star is
Born scenario. The one is done, and the other is
ascendant. Lennon will go on to perform with his screechy harpy
Yoko, and Jagger will go on to become the most successful rock
star ever, over a career of half a century. Within a very few
years, Lennon will be dead. Whereas Jagger will be, well, the
Nemesis of every subsequent imitator, almost immortal.
Which just maybe you can see in that one instantaneous flash in
Jagger's eye after Lennon has turned his back on the busboy
Not trying to overplay it. Just explaining why I'm compiling
again so quickly. It got me started.
Here's the deal. Every writer has literary influences who shaped
his personal writing esthetic. Every writer has a bunch of them,
in fact. Mine are Poe, Fitzgerald, Cheever, Homer, Cynewulf,
Tyndale, Swinburne, Waugh, and Jagger. Which completes a circle.
Poe was every bit the performer Jagger is, the former in words
and the latter in words, music, and persona. He was a living
exemplar of satire at the (mathematical) limit, meaning that he
was satirical but collapsing toward identity with what he was
mocking. He became somehow the apotheosis of what he was jeering
at -- endlessly prolonged youth, surrender to every temptation,
knowing repudiation of received wisdom he had actually studied,
and a pied piper who knew he was leading lesser followers into
the most perilous path available.
Think about it. All the skinny lead singers who succumb to all
the temptations... Where are they now? Old, fat, in and out of
rehab, made-up surgically recreated caricatures of themselves,
appearing in TV specials as weird permutations of their youthful
selves. While Jagger and the Stones just keep on being Jagger
and the Stones. Unholy.
Why I've also always had the sense that Jagger wasn't just a
rock star. He might actually be the character in the song that
begins, "Please allow me to introduce myself..."
How do the wise ones speculate about the devil? They say he will
be attractive, charming, seductive rather than threatening. They
don't intimate that he might actually be honest.
Am I suggesting that Jagger is Satan on earth? No. He isn't.
He's like Harry, my protagonist from the Boomer Bible. He's telling
us one lesson and actually teaching another. Because some of us
can only learn the lesson that way.
When I look at the Lennon-Jagger clip on Circus, I see fatality
versus vitality. Lennon is already done. Jagger is just
beginning. Yes, he's a sinner, as we all are, but he will go on
to show what survival consists of. You work. You produce. You
have children. You overcome obstacles. You become a CEO if
necessary, and you are tireless in expecting the best of those
Everybody in the rock world has gone into rehab. Not Jagger. He
just motors on. No saint. As he would, has, told us.(KHHF)
Now think of Lennon. "Imagine
there's no heaven..." That's Utopia? It's hell. So, who's
the devil and who's the, uh, (not) saint?
But 50 years on (45 years after Lennon's diss), there's this
Consider the retro style. Written words spelled out. Like a
blackboard lesson in a back alley. Telling us, with his usual
ironic psychology, to hope. And live.
Bottom line? Not a devil or a saint. Just the best satirist in the last 50 years. Warts and all.
Maybe there will be
What a devil he is.
Monday, March 18, 2013
How about an instant
Sunday was St.
Patrick's Day. Saw this wonder. Is it natural? Just what happens
the earth moves day after day after day? Or is it deliberate,
. Let's see. Ten years of posting. 300 a
year. That's close to five a week. Newspaper columnists don't do
that, and they file only about 650 words per column. Nowhere close
to the IP average, for good or ill. We've recently had the first
Instapunk book published, thanks to Brizoni, but there are many more
books sitting there awaiting the simple act of agglomeration and
specified order. The hardest -- the one I could never bring myself
to do -- was the one that cut across all the manifold subjects to
represent the whole site. Now that one has been passed by undone. I can do
most of the rest myself. I can also skip the difficulty of
eliminating graphics (even the ones I created myself), avoiding
copyright issues, and destroying hyperlinks by creating books right
here on the site.
So I'm giving you one today. It's called Instapunk on Cars. (Aren't we all ready for some
different fare?) You'll see multiple voices at work, different
signatories. Yes, they're mostly me. I used to reserve the right to
argue with myself. Sadly, thanks to sock puppets, including
commenters who change their names to mount attacks, I have had to
reduce myself to merely me. Why this exercise is partly history
lesson. The so-called New Media used to be more dynamic and fun. Now
there are way too many hurt feelings and snipers. But that's part of
the reason for reading.
This first one is a sample of what can easily be done. Did this one
in a day. It's a list of links to the original posts. You'll have
access to the pictures, the animations, the Youtubes, the
hyperlinks, the comments, and to the contradictions and mood swings
that go with writing on this kind of schedule. Sometimes I'm mean.
Sometimes I'm kind. Bear in mind I don't ignore or ban hostile
commenters. If they come in, they need to defend themselves. I guard
the site against trolls for the sake of those who wish to debate
rather than merely flame. When you do decide to look at comments,
hit the button for "First to Last," because it's a fact of blog life
that spamming advertisers frequently come in with hundreds of
bullshit remedies for what ails our kind. Not all links will work.
Sorry about that. Blogs live in time, and things pass away,
disappear, just like in real life. Actually, not sorry about that.
It's the way of things. Anyway. Here goes.
I. Love. Cars.
And speed. And their assault on all
No, this isn't a car blog any more than it's a movie, TV, political,
music, literature, art, economic, philosophical, religious,
scientific, sports, or personal blog. This is just one core topic
that can be the focus for putting related posts together. Usually,
the core topic is central. Sometimes it's ancillary or a mere
component. This compilation tries to observe a fairly strict
chronology because current events and other temporal considerations
are embedded in the posts. So try to read it as you would a book.
And it really is that long. But there's lots of humor, pictures, and
other hopefully fun stuff sprinkled throughout. Don't feel you need
to read it at all once. You can come back. It will be here when you
return. I've already told you how to access the Archives.
There are bad movies of all kinds. Most of the worst are rip-offs,
usually of good or successful movies. SyFy has perfected the dubious
art of bad movie making. The channel churns out dozens of cheap
derivative knock-offs of Jaws, Jurassic Park, Armageddon, older
models like Earthquake, and even mediocre theater releases like Lake
Placid. They're all bad by definition, but some succeed in being
entertaining by occasional tongue-in cheek wit, laughably funny
special effects, or plots so cookie-cutter the audience can
practically recite the next line of script before it's uttered. You
know. So bad they're good, which is frighteningly close to so bad
Airspeed suffers from most of these defects. It followed by a year
the movie that obviously inspired it, 1996's Executive Decision, in
which Steven Seagal famously died in the first act trying to enter a
hijacked plane from another aircraft and CIA analyst Kurt Russell
hid in cupboards and ventilation shafts while stewardess Halle Berry
did all the dangerous sneaking around. A bad movie that was fun in
I mentioned the big first act kicker. That's what dooms most bad
movies before filming begins. Somebody writes a first act with a
hopefully clever premise and some scenes of shocking violence to
hook the viewer. After that it's all downhill -- waiting for the
black guy to die, watching women fall down or prove unable to start
a car at inopportune moments, and the hero coming up with some lame
last ditch plan to save the day, which always takes forever to bring
off against all odds. The third act is always ultimately an
Why do I love Airspeed, which got a crushing 3.5 out of 10 user
rating at the merciless imdb.com website? Because the whole point of
this movie, for once, is
the third act. The script, the production, the effects, the plot
twists, are all single-mindlessly focused on getting us to the one
scene at the end which is inevitable and transparent to every viewer
from the very first scene. A bratty, self-absorbed little 13-year
old rich girl is going to have to land a lightning-crippled 727
jetliner more or less all alone. That's it. The whole thing.
Why all the imdb user reviewer carping about aviation absurdities
doesn't matter. You can almost see the director saying, "I don't
care. I know where we're going with this and I just don't care how
we get there or what we have to do along the way. All I want is
Elisha Cuthbert in the pilot seat trying to save the day for her
final injured passenger while the airport below waits with every
emergency response crew in Canada for a catastrophic, off the runway
fireball. Just make it happen, dudes."
He was betting, in fact, on Elisha Cuthbert. She was 15 at the time,
which is still young to carry the whole burden of an action
thriller. And for my money, the director won his bet.
She didn't do it alone. She had the help of Joe Mantegna as her
preoccupied CEO dad anguishing in the control tower, a couple of
quite good supporting actors in the plane early on, an incredibly
valuable baseball bat once owned by Roberto Clemente, and a nicely
played variation on the eccentric but unflappable air traffic
controller who not only knows how to read radar but also knows the
innerds and controls of a 727 as well as the plane's design team.
(Can't fault them for that; since they did it right in Airport and
Airplane (!), every air disaster movie since has made the same
stupid assumption that air traffic controllers know how to fly
commercial jets by osmosis).
To arrive at this climactic scene, a 15 year old actress has to
accomplish the biggest character transformation in a movie since
Barabbas. From despicable brat, she somehow manages to turn into a
combination of Bruce Willis and Joan of Arc before her final
desperate runway approach. All handicaps noted above considered, she
does a damn fine job of it.
It's a neat trick. You're laughing at the absurdities all the while
she's charming you. You can see the young actress trying as hard to
deal with as impossibly impossible a challenge as the character
she's playing. And in the end you're rooting for Elisha Cuthbert to
get through this ordeal with as little damage as possible.
And, you know, I think she does. Why it's my new favorite bad movie.
It's Monday. What more do you want today? Oh. The whole movie? Okay.
Well, they said it was. I didn't check, to be honest.