Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
October 18, 2011 - October 11, 2011

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The JournoList Thing

"Guys, why don't you like me? I'm trying to be reasonable, here!"

NOT NEWSWORTHY. Just in case you get your news from the same place that Charlie Gibson & Bob Schieffer do, here is Tuesday's big story (and Wednesday's). Another JournoList leak. I had a hard time getting too excited about it because, I mean, whoa...hang on a sec. The MSM is some sort of gigantic echo chamber full of leftist group think? Since when?? We already knew about JournoList, anyway. That was just me being cynical, though. It is important, but in all the copious punditry on the matter, I did not hear anyone make what I think are the two biggest points.

First the easy point and the one most related to IP's recent post with Doc Zero. The JournoList thing isn't a "Gotcha! LOL!" moment as so many of the pundits out there are treating it. This is serious, but I think many of us are so numb to examples of liberal bias in the media it's hard to see the big picture sometimes, which is this: peeking inside JournoList is actually getting a glimpse of the left's war room. It's like a movie scene where somebody is undercover, walking through a hallway in the enemy's HQ, when one of the bad guys walks out of a room and the door takes a little too long to close, revealing something nefarious going on inside. And these people are the enemy, as they are so fond of reminding each other when they think no one is looking. When you read what these people are saying, it is very clear that they are at war. With us. Whether we like it or not. The money quote, from Spencer Ackerman:
What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.
Oh, rhetorically. Obviously, Spencer, obviously. Too bad his next paragraph about intentionally slandering people as racists was not rhetorical. There are lots more quotes, which I'm sure you've seen, but here's my question: is the right also at war with the left, or is it a one way street like the one we've got going on with Islam right now? When 2012 rolls around, will the lib media bias be a front and center issue forcing a paradigm shift in the way we approach elections, or will the Republicans once again be led, supine and sheep-like, to another series of debates run by outright Democrat Party shills?

Take Fred Barnes. He was called out by name in JournoList. Personally. Does anyone think ol' Fred considers himself at war with anyone or do you think he's merely focused on his next titillating roundtable discussion on Fox News before heading out for a brew with Juan Williams? With all due respect to Doc Zero, if it's Ackerman vs. Barnes in a bar fight, my money is on Ackerman. He's the only one of the pair that realizes he is actually in a bar fight.

Which reminds me of Johnnycakes McCain. Whatever one thinks of Sarah Palin, she brought down the house with her speech at the GOP convention. The next night, John McCain lackadaisically finished his speech with the halfhearted, "Friends, fight with me! Fight with me!" line. The first thing he did after that was to go on the fucking View where he wouldn't even fight Whoopi Goldberg. So "fight with me"...where? Against who? I'm still not quite sure what the hell he was talking about, and I don't think he nor most of the GOP knows, either. Here's hoping they wake the hell up and figure it out. Soon.

The other thing: I haven't heard anyone point out that many of these JournoList members are (allegedly) in the business of selling information. They are theoretically supposed to be competing with each other, day after day, about why the general populace should be coming to them for their news. Unlike people on the right who sell themselves by saying, "This is what I believe and why I believe it", the reason the MSM says you should pay attention to them instead is because they are the most honest, the most impartial, the most trustworthy, etc. They're going to get you the whole story. Yet here they are, on a regular basis, locked in a secret room with the aforementioned competition and planning out exactly how they all, as a group, will be shaping the news narrative.

If my business did that with our competition, it would look like this: "Hey, the price of aluminum is dropping again, but we all still have high-cost inventory to burn through. So look, nobody sell this stuff for less than $3.00/Lb or we'll all start losing money. We need to do whatever we can to prop the market price up, including getting rough with anyone that tries to go under our target pricing." Now that would be called collusion and it would be illegal. For my business, anyway.

Doesn't the left hate corporations and capitalism because the conversation above is how they think the free market works? The same liberals who dismiss the JournoList story as "not newsworthy" would foam at the mouth in rabid anger if they ever discovered a plot like the one above. They'd be demanding more business regulation, more internet regulation, windfall profits taxes, CEO salary caps, price controls, and on and on and on. How many liberals do you know who will dismiss a story out of hand without even glancing at it simply because it comes from Fox News, Michelle Malkin or Breitbart, who are "not real journalists"? Where is their outrage right now over the collusion of the supposedly impartial mainstream media that they have relied on their entire lives?

Don't worry, Spencer Ackerman, I'm only asking that "rhetorically".


LAKE'S TAKE ON CP'S DUMB TV TIPS. So it's my task to convince you why it's worth it to rent, buy, or steal a massive six season box set of the recently completed television series LOST, eh?

Before I start, a brief aside. I'm apparently the only Instapunk commenter who saw the show beyond a few episodes. I'm perhaps the only one who saw the entire series from beginning to end. Why? Did you never give it a chance or did you see a couple of episodes at random and decide what it was or was not? Did you come in too late and hear from a friend that "you've got to watch it from the beginning…"? I'd love to hear reasons in the comments if you'll indulge me. What caused you to say 'meh' to one of the biggest shows of the decade?

If you bailed out, I get it, really I do. Putting more than casual attention into a TV show suddenly obligates you, and one of many possible endings to a long series is disappointment and a real sense of wasted time. I can understand not wanting to invest that time.

I've also been burned. TV shows often put their best cards on the table early to hook you in, but quickly become a serial repetition, attempt to change things up with terrible results, or get messed up by network execs. All the above happened to one of my favorite shows from 15 years ago, The X-Files. They dragged it out far too long; the real stars got tired and left; the execs saw money still being made from a rabid audience and dropped in new actors; and the show became an unending cycle of 'supernatural' shows and government conspiracy shows, every other week.

Back to LOST… is it any different? I'd argue yes, and here's why:

First, motives. J.J. Abrams and the original producers and writers set out to tell a complete Story, with a beginning, middle, and definitive end over the course of six seasons. They weren't always sure what would happen in the middle, but they had a definite plan for the whole show. This is usually the domain of miniseries, and most shows have season finales that try to wrap things up in case they don't get picked up again, often lamely.

Second, the pilot. The two hour pilot episode is downright cinematic, an experience. Big scenes have come to TV since the LOST pilot over 7 years ago, but I just saw it again recently and it holds up.

Third, the cast. It's a big cast of then-unknowns, but the structure of the show allows you to see over a dozen actors do some excellent acting in a variety of situations, not just on the island. They're not all good, but there are some phenomenal talents in the group. Some don't even appear in the first season.

Fourth, the plot. Each season introduces you to a sphere of events, and each season finale pierces the sphere so that you see the coming of the next level, the bigger universe. Can you name another show that continues to expand like that?

Fifth, the filming. It is just a beautiful looking show, with brilliant color, gorgeous locations, and several lovely to look at people. The camera work is often inventive and as I said above, it frequently feels like a movie, not a weekly TV show.

Sixth, the themes. All the richest themes from human history and literature are in there: good and evil, life and death, faith and materialism, belief, consciousness, the nature of time… It's never quite clear if it's a sci-fi show or a supernatural show, and there are many episodes that would support either view. And in the end? It's still up for debate, in a way. That's a debate I'd love to have here or on the new forums.

Seventh, the questions. Many would criticize LOST throughout the seasons that they had gotten to the point of just making stuff up, adding new questions and never answering them. That's not quite true, but the show does continually hold an air of mystery. Do you like everything solved by the end of the hour every week? Fine, go watch The Mentalist. LOST does answer its questions, but often gives way to more questions, bigger questions on the next sphere outward.

Eighth, the twists. If you allow yourself to suspend a bit of disbelief and get wrapped up in this show, it has some great tricks up its sleeve. More than any other show I've seen, this one pulled a 'WHAT?!' out of me most often. Not your thing? That's okay. I've watched TV with the guy who always knows what's going to happen next. Not fun.

Finally, the End. No one knew if they would be able to pull off the big end to the big show this last season. In fact, they made some very strange choices on how to use their time in the last 16 episodes. But in my opinion, they nailed the ending, brought it all together, and delivered the complete Story. Again, that's up for a debate, and I'd love to discuss it with all of you.

What do I recommend? Disabuse yourself of the notion that you know what the show is all about already. It varies quite a bit internally, especially after the halfway point. Watch the pilot. If it does nothing for you, doesn't intrigue you or merit a longer term interest, so be it. But if you find yourself falling down this unique rabbit hole, feel free to email me as you go along. I've been there, watched the whole story from tip to tail and loved (nearly) every minute of it.

I think it's worth it. But given this site's track record of recommendations and favorites, our collective senses of what we like are incredibly varied and perhaps not able to be synched.

[ED. NOTE. I've never liked shows that keep you in the dark forever. But if Lake says it's good, it's a more than fair bet that he's right. Think about it. He's talking  in terms that make The Closer and Burn Notice seem like pretty small potatoes.What else are you doing to make this summer memorable?]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Long Hot Summer

More channels, more on.

HOLD! HOLD! My in-basket is full. People want me to weigh in on the JournoList scandal, the NAACP/Department of Agriculture woman, the ballooning Gore sex scandal, spineless congressional Republicans, the Lockerbie fiasco, and the president's plummeting poll numbers. I always take reader posting suggestions seriously, so today we're going to talk about...


Because nothing important is happening at the moment. Trust me on this. The audience is filing slowly into the theater and the orchestra is just tuning its instruments. The house lights are still on, and it's really really HOT in here, particularly in the globally warmed box where globally shaped Al Gore is sitting.

So. Where were we? TeeVee. Conservatives are prone to getting carried away with "End of Days" type reviews of popular entertainment fare. Do they know that you can still watch a lot of the old TV shows that made up the so-called Golden Age when there were no toilets or breasts in America? You can still see Gunsmoke, Maverick, and Andy of Mayberry if you want. I wonder how many of them check Nickelodeon first when they turn on the TV. Just saying.

Anybody in the mood for some good news? There's actually some quality stuff on TV these days, arguably better than it has ever been before. The availability of a zillion channels helps, but that's not the whole story, either. Others more expert on the subject than I am have flatly declared that the best writing in show business is happening on TV, not in the movies. They're right. So I'm offering a quick overview of shows you might want to check out while you're waiting for something actually interesting to happen in politics.

Not all of these are great, but they are worth a look. I'm using a one to four star rating system, mostly my own appraisal but here and there averaged with Mrs. CP's rating. If there's a huge difference between us, I'll call it out. To set the standard for you, I'll explain that four stars (****) would be Justified, and no stars ( ) would be Boston Legal. Everything else would be somewhere in between. The pool of candidates consists of the stuff that's running new now. Not all of the ratings are high for various reasons, but all of them merit a one-episode trial at least.

The Closer.****

The writing is top notch even when some of the politics offend. The protagonist, Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, is not a nice woman. She's self-centered, obsessive, manipulative, ruthless, and possessed of a mean streak a mile wide. And you can't take your eyes off her. Her supporting cast is as fabulous as her clothes. All the regulars are flawed, and all of them are well drawn. The show is funny except when it's cleverly satirical about office politics and man-woman stuff. And Kyra Sedgwick is an absolute marvel in the role of Brenda Leigh. She's the only actress I know of whose mind you can hear ticking and clicking when she has no lines to say. She doesn't need lines in those shots. She's a force of nature. Nature as Machiavelli would understand it.

The Bridge.**1/2

A cheapie Canadian show about the president of the police union in some Canadian city. Sounds awful, doesn't it? It isn't. It's kind of a lower key Canadian version of The Shield. The protagonist is a politician, a womanizer, and a man who cuts some pretty big corners in a pretty big way. And cheap isn't always bad. It forces more attention  to writing than splashy chases and backgrounds. We've only seen one episode of this so far, so it might be a bum steer. But give it a chance.

Covert Affairs.**

Inside the CIA with a newbie operative played by Piper Perabo and a deep backstory borrowed from the Bourne Identity. Yeah, I know. But the writing and characters are surprisingly, well, above average, including her blind chick-magnet mentor and an old flame of mine from Nero Wolfe, Kari Matchett. It could all go disastrously south in a hurry, but Mrs. CP and I were entertained by the pilot anyway. Although it may not be a good sign that Mrs. CP can't remember the title: Cloistered Affairs? Undercover Affairs? Her memory is usually a lot better than that.

In Plain Sight.***

Starring Mary McCormack, an actress I was outrageously unfair to when she played the National Security Adviser on the West Wing. This is my chance to make it up to her. She's a real pistol on this show, playing a U.S. Marshal in the Witness Protection Program. Somehow she manages to come across as a cynical, foul-mouthed guy-type gal without actually using any four-letter words. Like Kyra Sedgwick, she's also pretty darn good at thinking on camera. The other gem in the cast is her partner Marshall Mann (ha ha), played by Frederick Weller. He's literate, more sensitive than Mary, and my candidate for the best "will they-won't they" postponed romance I've ever seen on a TV series. And I really hate that tired old tactic. What's different here is that they don't flirt and litter the script with dumb sexual innuendoes. Mary is just too rigid and self-absorbed, too damn dumb, to realize that the only man who's ever actually understood and accepted her for who she really is is her partner. And he knows it. The episodes are uneven, and some of the peripheral family stuff (Mary's alcoholic mother and narcissistic sister, etc) can be a thudding bore, but the show is frequently clever and funny, and occasionally affecting.

Rookie Blue.***

Another Canadian cheapie but a truly first-rate one. You've all seen some of the no-name cast before, but the writing is stellar. We're following a class of probationary rookies in a big city police department. But they're not what their counterparts would be in an American network series. They are anxious, inexperienced, and, well, prone to mistakes big and small. Once again, the tight budget puts the focus on writing instead of effects, and I watched two episodes in a row without a moment's hesitation, even though the second started at bedtime. I'm hooked.

You're Cut Off.*

I give it one star because I think that's all they were going for. But this VH1 series is for me what Jersey Shore was to Mrs CP: a trainwreck I can't look away from. The premise is that these would-be divas have spent and whined and bitched their way out of the affections of their own families and have been sent to a reality show rehab program that requires them to do chores, get jobs, and learn how to get along with actual human beings as well as each other. They're every father's worst nightmare -- spoiled, pampered, selfish, brainless, character-free spending machines. And they make you want to grab your own daughter and hug her in gratitude for everything she is that they aren't. Given a choice between watching the newly maudlin and exploitatively creepy Deadliest Catch and this show, I'm watching You're Cut Off every time. Mrs. CP loves it, too. Not watching the show, which she can't stand, but watching me watch the show. She wouldn't miss it for the world.

Okay. This is taking longer than I thought it would. I have more recommendations, but I guess I'll save them for a future post. There's only so much fine TeeVee a person can assimilate in one day anyway.

Now. Wasn't that better than reading another column about the NAACP/Ag Department racist who's suddenly the darling of Hotair and company?

UPDATE. Comments already coming in. Someone mentioned Dexter, which we've reviewed a couple of times, most recently back in September 2009. It just doesn't happen to be on now in our neck of the woods. Also, DJMoore spent some time taking Covert Affairs and (sadly) Piper Perabo's character apart:

She's worthless as a spy. She can't keep her cool, she can't control her mouth, she gives the game away. She's supposed to be top of her class, top of the class for many years, in fact, but she blows her first two opportunities to act like a spy.

Sorry, I don't care how clever the dialog or how good the acting are. The writers and director are going for cheap shots that disrupt the integrity of their story and character.

But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play? btw, Mrs. CP read the same review and explained that her difficulty in remembering the name was due to the fact that it really should be called The Bourne Similarity. She's right. As always.

TeeVee Two

WHERE WERE WE? So, while we were talking about other things, it's been decided by all the leading lights that a black person who thinks, "Let his own people take care of him" and then decides at last to do the right thing is someone owed an apology and a government job. Aren't we glad that's settled? Me too. But the cacophony of all those conservatives falling on their swords belt-buckle first is giving me a case of tinnitus. The buzzing is so bad I can't hear myself think about how generous liberals would be with a racially conflicted white man who did the right thing while openly admitting his own lifelong prejudice against black people. I could hear them standing up and cheering such an inspiring moral parable if it weren't for the ringing, ringing, ringing in my disgusted ears.

Which is why, I suppose, I'm suddenly back to the task of promoting the best of summer TV during this long, hot, incredibly inane summer. Speaking of inane...

Drop Dead Diva.***

Don't laugh. It's a delightful dessert souffle with a kick of Cognac inside. It's ridiculously easy to criticize -- the liberties it takes with due process alone are sufficient to render it star free -- but there's something, well, ineffably sweet about it. I shouldn't say this, or admit it in public at any rate, but I really like this show. The premise is absurd. A shallow Beverly Hills model has an accident in her BMW because she's chatting on her cellphone and dies. Kewl. But when she gets past the pearly gates, her lifelong sense of entitlement causes her to trespass on heaven's keyboard, thus returning her to earth in the body of a fat woman  ten years her elder. Worse, she's an attorney at a law firm where her erstwhile fiance is a junior associate. With me so far? None of this would work without a wonder of an actress in the fat girl role. But lo and behold, that's exactly what we get. Her name is Brooke Elliott and she's absolutely out of nowhere, but wonder she is, with a fine comedic touch, a beauty that bursts through her avoirdupois, and an amazing ability to navigate lightweight scripts -- somehow tacking between farce and heartbreak in a way that forces you to watch, like, and believe her. The girlfriend (April Bowlby) who knows the secret of her reincarnation is another comedic jewel, playing the wisest dumb blonde since Judy Holiday. Even the two Lesbians in the regular cast (I cannot bring myself to name them) are more winning here than they've ever been before. Guys, get over yourselves. If this is the worst chickstuff your wife ever forces on you, count yourself among the lucky ones.

Burn Notice.**1/2

The rating is a compromise. Mrs. CP gives it three stars, and I give it two. How to describe it? It's the modern day incarnation of the Rockford Files. Michael is a career spy suddenly and mysteriously blacklisted and more or less confined to Miami. He has friends, but with friends like his, who needs enemies? In a clear tip to Rockford, Michael's mom is Sharon Gless ( a Rockford regular), a role in which she's every bit as annoying and endearing as Noah Beery was as Rockford's dad. There's also Bruce Campbell, a much improved incarnation of Angel, and in a nicely new touch, Gabrielle Anwar as a homicidal IRA-ish assassin (retired) who loves Michael when she isn't having a full-blown psychotic episode. The writing is excellent  in the voiceovers that describe high-tech espionage tricks, though less credible when it comes to character and plot development. But the payoffs can be delicious. A long-running female villain of the show came into Gabrielle's rifle sight at the end of one season, and when she died from a single shot to the head, Bruce Campbell told a very satisfied Gabrielle, "I know you want to savor the moment, but we gotta go." The show is not nearly as consistent as Rockford, and sometimes it's too cute for its own good, but it is fun.


Yes, it's a Stephen King thing. And, yes, it's continuously amazing that Stephen King's incompetent dialogue somehow infects scripts adapted, rewritten, whatever, by professional scriptwriters. However. There's this conflicted female FBI agent. And this weird but quaint town in Maine. Where everybody might have some weird secret. Dumb? Sure. But I've seen two episodes and I may watch a third. There's a certain charming eccentricity about it... On the other hand, the biggest problem with most Stephen King conceptions isn't that his characters are ludicrously overdone; it's that his third act never lives up to his first. He doesn't deliver the goods. I'm thinking that'll be the case here, too, but as I said, I'm going to watch one more time at least.

The Glades.**1/2

All right. I told you I'd let you know if the CP-Mrs. CP average was out of whack. That's the case here. She gives it three stars and I give it one and a half. The premise is that a gifted Chicago homicide cop gets exiled to Florida because his boss shot him for sleeping with said boss's wife (which our hero cop denies). He hates Florida (kewl) and is so over the top in his investigative style that mostly everyone else hates him too. Except for the mouthy emergency room nurse who's raising a son whose dad is in prison while she's struggling through medical school. Okay? To me, he's House reconfigured as a cop, egotistical, obnoxious, and overdone. But Mrs. CP likes him. Why? Maybe I should keep my mouth shut at this point.
Warehouse 13.**

Two stars because it's half a great TV show. Here's what I love: the imaginative use of old high technology. Computers with manual typewriter keys. Cell phones with fifties caliber TV screens. The colossal warehouse ripped off from the final scenes of Citizen Kane and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Here's what I hate: The male protagonist, half of the federal team which constitutes the operative arm of a secret organization charged with protecting the warehouse and its paranormal relics from bad guys and such. He's a dolt and a cartoon. Here's what I love: The museum curator, the new girl with the smart mouth and the purple streak in her hair, the consistently literary plots involving Poe, H. G. Wells, Dante, and even Sylvia Plath. Here's what I hate: The male protagonist. He's like the butt of every dumb male joke in every commercial on television. Mrs. CP doesn't even agree with the two stars. Just so you know. But there's such a good idea hiding inside this mess of a show that I can't let it go. Not yet. And the female agent isn't half bad. Kind of a secondthird string Olivia from Fringe.

Rizzoli & Isles.**

This one gave me two surprises. First, Angie Harmon is a lot better at playing a no-nonsense cop than I'd ever have expected. She's not as pretty as she used to be, but she's more attractive. Can't say the same for her partner, who turns out to be Kate from NCIS, the one got shot in the head while Special Agent Gibbs was standing helplessly at her side. Then she was a slick, slim former Secret Service agent. Now she's a mousy, shy, vaguely dowdy and possibly plump medical examiner. Oh well. Mrs. CP fell asleep, so there's no way to know if my sort of liking this unoriginal cop show is due to my infallible quality antennae or to my old guy admiration for a mature woman with a provocatively husky voice. I'm sure you'll tell me which of these is the case within moments of posting.

Meaning, about now. Happy viewing, campers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Colony

APOCALYPTOPIA. This is going to be a bit disorganized because there is so much going on in the new Discovery Channel reality series called The Colony. So forgive me while I try to sort through it all. But it is important, especially in the context of what we've been talking about with respect to The Book of Eli, The Road, and Eduardo's post.

Here's the premise. Volunteers agree to be subjected to mild torture, including 30 disorienting hours of sleep and food deprivation, and then turned loose in a contained section of Los Angeles that represents the aftermath of a deadly biological weapons attack. Their mission is to survive for ten weeks and begin the rebuilding of civilized life. They will eat and drink what they can find, and they are equally on their own when it comes to shelter, sanitation, and self-defense. That's right. They will also be harassed by marauders who want anything and everything they have. Their filmed experiences are sparingly interrupted by "experts," such as the psychologist who informs us that even people in an artificial situation move rapidly into a mindset indistinguishable from what it would be in reality. O-k-a-a-a-y.

Mrs. CP was a little dubious, but I convinced her to watch the first episode because we'd both suffered through the BBC's apocalyptic dramatic series called Survivors, which was bleak, depressing, and not very believable. I never thought everyone was a narcissistic twit with the attention span of Paris Hilton. Mrs. CP's position was that the English obviously are, but maybe not everyone. So we sat through the first one, and she watched the second one without objection. It is intriguing, even fascinating. On so many levels. We'll get to those later on, I promise.

The first episode was riveting. Our hardy band of survivors "discover" an abandoned industrial warehouse and start making themselves at home.We are introduced to them as they scout the site for resources: some canned food, a couple abandoned cars, storage drums, a variety of hand and power tools (some still in shipping boxes), a toilet with no running water, a scattered array of twelve volt batteries, and the normal detritus of a warehouse, including pallets, shipping envelopes, and a fair amount of tinfoil. The survivors are just as motley: a 20-something female personal trainer and martial arts instructor, a 60-ish electronics engineer from MIT, a middle-aged handyman, a doctor, a new-grad aeronautics engineer, an emergency room nurse, a machinist, and so on. They've been up for a day and a half, but they get to right to work. First priority: water. They scuttle down to a nearby L.A. storm sewer (like the one used in the chase scene in Terminator 2), and scoop up as much water as they can carry in their makeshift vessels.

Then the MIT prof, who began by wondering what he could possibly bring to the table in a world without electricity, built a water filtration system out of sand, charcoal (yeah, there was some lying around...), and a plastic drum. They reinvented fire in a 55-gallon oil drum, dried their socks, dined on potted sausage, force-flushed the toilet with their new water supply, and built a communal bed out of pallets and some (Thank God!) old mattresses discovered in a back room. The handyman, who had already done most of the heavy lifting and hole-punching, stood the first watch and had to run off a small night attack by a pair of motorcycle marauders.

The next day, security is again threatened as a smaller band of sleepless volunteers arrive at the door begging for shelter. The handyman resisted but was overruled by most everyone else, and the community was augmented by a mechanical engineer, a contractor, a marine biologist, and (gasp) an ex-convict. They shared a meal together, which the psychologist informed us was a key step in community building, and set to work on new projects, a community on the upswing.

In the second episode, fractures begin. The engineers and the handyman collaborate to daisy-chain the batteries and restore some electrical power (lighting) to the warehouse. But the handyman thinks he's being taken advantage of and does an on-camera rant about people with PhDs and such. "Screw'em." It's clear he has an anger management problem. When the marauders return, he wants to bash them with iron pipes and take one of their motorcycles. He's informed that his risk is a threat to the group, because if he gets hurt or killed, the group would lose his capabilities. Even so, the food situation is becoming critical, and so an expeditionary force sallies out to find provisions. The squad runs off a couple of squatters and harvests the food they leave behind, which causes the MIT prof to wax morally conflicted about the us versus them thing, although he ends the episode in near orgasmic ecstasy when a rare L.A. rainstorm -- coupled with clever plumbing deduction and pipecutting by the handyman -- allows our little group to capture the water runoff from the warehouse roof while the prof dances naked outside in the rain.

Okay. Sorry about all the exposition, but it was necessary to show you how the new national obsession with apocalypse is being packaged in the Smart Channel universe. I mean, I really can't believe how apt Eduardo's title, Apocalyptopia, is. It's absolutely perfect. It's all somebody's wet dream. But whose?

Well, most of what's going on is theater, propaganda, and wish fulfillment fantasy. But there's an element that's far more interesting than that, which we'll save for last.

Theater. Of course it's not real. There's a small print disclaimer at the end of each episode informing us that there are onsite resources which intervene if the survivors are about to do something dangerous to themselves. And we're pretty much expected to remember on our own that there are cameramen filming all this all the time. The job I would want is marauder. They live off set, eating pizza and drinking beer until they're called on to make an appearance, which they do on cue and are then run off after a few bangs on the warehouse door. Kewl. The handyman thinks he can lay one out with his iron pipe. Everybody gets scared. Anyone given any thought to what a man on a motorcycle can do if he's carrying a pipe? The whole security subplot is a joke. No one's going to let survivors or marauders get hurt. "Cut!"

Which means the whole pissed-off, class-resentful handyman thing is also a joke. Which is where the propaganda part comes in. The handyman is so very obviously carrying the bulk of the labor burden in these first  two episodes that he's a one-man proletariat. No wonder he's pissed. Because has anyone noticed that our survivor crew is overwhelmingly top-heavy with higher education? Engineers, trained medical personnel, a biologist, exactly the people you'd expect to run into at random in the event of a biological attack in a bad part of Los Angeles.

Yet among them there is no natural leader who steps forward to take charge, ration food and water, dole out task assignments, and stop snits from becoming tantrums. They do all this communally. Which is clearly the right way. Because look at how much they got accomplished in such a short period of time. Smart people cooperating is the clearly the best way through any crisis. Anybody could see that.

But interestingly, what hasn't been mentioned or tried so far is capitalism. The communal mentality doesn't admit of it. The MIT prof is troubled by the fact that the squatters were run off. But what can you do? It's us against them. Our bigger group against their smaller group. How about, "We have clean, safe water to drink, and we'd like to do a trade." Same with the 'marauders.' How about some good old-fashioned bartering? You don't bang on our doors but protect our doors and our foraging expeditions, and you'll share in the fruits of our superior technological capability? It never comes up. Never occurs to anyone.

Rebuild civilization? From a bunker filled with technocrats? No way, Jose. There will be no civilization rebuilding from this group. They're into the busy-busy showing off part, not the rebuilding part. Think about this: if you were a teacher (a real one, not an NEA stooge), wouldn't your first priority during a foraging expedition be the recovery of a set of Dickens novels? Something to be read our loud after the day's chores were done so that all and sundry could remember their essential humanity? Civilization doesn't begin with flush toilets. It begins with recognition that there is more to life than eating, sleeping, shitting. and fucking. (Granted, there's been no sign of any kind that this vital little band has any interest in sex. Perish the thought. Gaia would raise an eyebrow.) But there are no liberal arts majors on our 'new civilization' team. What purpose could they possibly serve?

Which brings us to wish-fulfillment fantasies. The only group with a higher percentage of technical degrees than our survivors is the television audience for this Discovery Channel show. That's whose wet dream this is. "Yeah, if it came down to it, I could survive a situation like that, as long as everybody else kept their heads like I would. I can do the math." Give me a break. It's all total fantasy.

Everything above is a fair critique. Here comes the unfair critique, the perhaps unintended Achilles heel of the entire project. I'll put some asterisks in to make it clear that I'm entering unfair territory.


I can't help it. This show reminds me of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. We're asked to imagine a new beginning from, well, nothing. Human beings without even a functioning toilet. But we're going to be inspired by how much they can accomplish in just ten weeks. The engine of civilization and all that. Communal effort, classless coordination, and suppression of individualistic notions is the key. (Maybe they should call this show "The Tech College" instead of "The Colony." Oh. Never mind.) Just stand back and watch what the right sort of people can do if they put their minds and backs into it. We're witnessing the whole creative momentum of life as it changes, adapts, and responds to even the most difficult of environments. Nature will find a way. Man, as a creature of Nature, will find a way to go on evolving, adapting, and surviving.

Which is a total crock of shit. And, to my mind, a significant and emblematic crock of shit. There's absolutely nothing random about this starting point. What's actually riveting about the first episode is how well designed it was. The "survivors" represent a perfect mix of mechanical human capabilities and expertise, the precise set of capabilities anyone would want to overcome the first obstacles to survival. The place to which they are led is also beautifully designed to seem random although there's nothing random about it, either. Almost everything they find has a use, a purpose, if they can only find it and exploit it. The show's premise is a stacked deck.

I know I'm nuts, but when I look at the survivor resumes and the warehouse configuration, I keep getting this phantom image of the 'random' cell-building proteins and their unexplained DNA which resulted in life as we know it. And oddly enough, the starting point of the neo-Darwinians is exactly the same as the starting point of this phony reality show. Both require us to accept -- with a straight face -- the premise that it's possible to start somewhere in the middle, without examining first causes too closely, and simply believe in the validity of the cause-and-effect chain subsequently played out. If it's plausible from the point where we choose to begin following the story onward, then there must be some truth, some enlightenment, some meaning in it.

I disagree. It's the nature of accidental bad metaphors that they reflect back on their perpetrators and other antecedents. Because sometimes the truth is embedded in their cock-eyed attempts at arguing their stupidly specious and simplistic reductions of truth to machinery. What if the story of evolution is like the beginning of The Colony? A series of carefully assembled agents and environments that are precisely aligned to produce a planned result?

Unfair? Maybe. But I don't think so. It's the neo-Darwinians who are rigidly haughty about insisting that they get to determine the point at which we should start watching their own reality show.  Everything before their arbitrarily chosen pilot episode is irrelevant, immaterial, and not their concern. I'm thinking even the producers of The Colony wouldn't take that hard a line.

What do you think?

Monday, July 19, 2010


Anything Goes*

LET THE GAMES BEGIN AGAIN. I've been amused more than outraged by all the implicit and explicit criticism of the First Family's high-flown lifestyle in the past week or two. Michelle's designer "oil spill" dress. The long weekend in Maine after an exhortation to the rest of us to go sit in the tar on gulf beaches. Most hilariously, the flap about "BO-One," the dog jet that ferries Obama's Portuguese waterboy to the vacation destination separately. In fact, I was going to do an old-style InstaPunk entry featuring pictures of BO-One and its interior, but I've been PhotoShopless for a while now, and I can't make the freeware work without investing ten times the time. Okay, just one: a shot of the BO-One Learjet on the tarmac.

You know how it is. When you don't gotta go, you don't gotta go.
Till you've kept the crew and staff waiting long enough. Till you're
ready to go. Because you can always go on the plane. Your plane.

And one of the interior:

Nice use of the fuselage shape, don't you think? Servants are
behind the doors -- scoopers, groomers, chefs, toy czars, etc.

Now I'm all tired out. Which is where you come in. Today's story of sybaritic White House excess concerns that dread day after a happy vacation is over. You don't feel like plunging fully back into the old grind, so maybe you schedule a little something to keep the holiday spirit alive for one more day. You or I might go out to dinner, but the Obamas aren't that free. Here's what they have slated for tonight.

During the administration of President George W. Bush, news that Tony was to be heavily represented at a fete in the East Room of the White House would have suggested a British theme to the evening, with emissaries of then-Prime Minister Blair in attendance.

Times have changed. On Monday, the dignitaries hosted by President and Mrs. Obama will bring their regards from Broadway, not 10 Downing Street, while sharing talents that collectively have won them 11 Tony Awards.

The public is invited to watch -- eventually -- on "A Broadway Celebration," which will be taped for broadcast Oct. 20 as an installment in the PBS series, "In Performance at the White House."

The Tony-winning performers are actor-singers Nathan Lane (two Tonys), Audra McDonald (four Tonys), Idina Menzel, Tonya Pinkins and Karen Olivo (one each, for "Wicked," "Jelly's Last Jam" and "West Side Story," respectively), and pianist Marvin Hamlisch, a Tony winner for his score to "A Chorus Line." Working behind the scenes is Jerry Mitchell, Tony-winning choreographer (for the 2004 revival of "La Cage aux Folles"), who will guide 20 Washington, D.C., dance students in a segment from "Hairspray," another show he choreographed....

Presumably, critics who slammed the president and first lady last year for wasting taxpayer money when they flew to New York for dinner and a Broadway show (August Wilson's drama "Joe Turner's Come and Gone") won't complain about Broadway coming to them.

Point taken. I was one of those critics. In fact, I'll go so far as to quote exactly what I said about their Broadway night out.

If he had a message for her, it wasn't an intimate "I love you truly and deeply regardless of all that has changed in our lives; it was "Look at how truly and deeply everyone loves me -- and you by extension."

I know this sounds harsh, and there will be those who protest, "What's a President to do?" uh, plenty. If the American people had made the disastrous mistake of electing me president, I could think of a lot of ways of fulfilling the promise Obama purportedly made to Michelle. I wouldn't be at all shy about the expense. If it was just for her, I would make it all just for her. I would bring New York and Broadway to the White House -- the restaurant setting, the chefs, the waiters for a dinner for two. And I would invite her favorite Broadway performers to put on a show just for the two of us. Because a president can do that. They keep telling us he's creative -- a writer, right? -- and it's the creative, personal touches that melt a woman's heart. The mystery beforehand, the stopping of the world's outside clock on her behalf, the total attention to pleasing her for a change, to living up to her: for example, I'd have worn a tie, probably a black tie. For the one person who, more than any other, merits my determination to put my best foot forward.

Far be it from me to lambaste the president for finally taking one of my suggestions, at least in part. (I don't think he gets the intimate, romantic "dinner for two" part yet, but we can always hope...) I'm not mad or even disgruntled. I am amused, though, as I said earlier. Maybe it's the Broadway setting, but I keep thinking of scenes from various show biz productions during the Great Depression. The Joads are refugees running west in an old truck with a transmission lubricated by sawdust while Cole Porter lights up the stage and screen with frolicsome love songs about champagne and caviar. Maybe this is what the people want from their president. They loved the high life of Camelot they could never have afforded for themselves. Maybe all that's important is knowing that the most important among us are still dining importantly on plover's eggs served in 18th century English silver cups this tiny.

Or is there maybe something a little nouveau and tactless about it?

Or a certain glaring fin du monde brightness that's as sad (and ultimately tinny) as it is ostentatiously sophisticated?

You tell me. (Finally. The POINT.) Are there any scenes from Broadway or Hollywood from (or about) the Thirties (or whenever) that come to your mind even as you admire and adore the festivities of our glorious First Family? Seek them out on YouTube or elsewhere and link them in Comments. (No posting of videos, please; they make Comments unreadable without lots of right-left scrolling.) We'll make a post of the best ones. Anything Goes.*

*Within reason, that is. Really NOT looking for cheap yucks from Porgy and Bess or Cotton Comes to Harlem. I know the regulars know better than that, but casual visitors need to know we have standards here. This game is about fun, which we all need a dollop of from time to time. Especially now.

Have at it. You don't have to explain if you don't want to. Just give us a link and we'll all take a look. Unless you've totally lost your sense of humor. Which would be the saddest thing of all.

UPDATE. A perfect example of what we're looking for, courtesy of Guy:

Give us more. We're greedy and the archives are rich with material. (HINT) Anybody ever seen Pocketful of Miracles?

The Book of Eli, Doc Zero, and Me

Mortal Kombat in movie reviews. Electricity versus Ice. When is cold too cold?

THE MOVIE THAT WON'T GO AWAY.  It turns out that Doc Zero and I reviewed The Book of Eli on the same day, July 13th. He liked it. I didn't. Which is fine. Reviewing is fighting inside a padded box. The box closes at quitting time and everyone goes home happy and unscathed. Because we talk from time to time, I sent him an email noting the coincidence, and he was kind enough to reply. Thus:

Funny we both got to it about the same time, especially since it's not a new movie.  I was mostly inspired to write because I saw "Book of Eli" back to back with "The Road" and found the similarities intriguing.

I liked "Eli" much better than you did, but I didn't go into its strengths or weaknesses as a *movie* that much, aside from our mutual admiration for Denzel Washington's acting skills.  If you watch "Eli" again, knowing the Big Twist Ending, you admire him even more.  How much of his intense focus comes from his blindness?  Does he resist Mila Kunis so easily because he can't see her?  The movie-makers were using blindness and sight in a metaphorical sense, playing with the idea that his physical blindness allows Eli to see spiritual truth more clearly, but as you pointed out, they don't get into the precise nature of that truth in any great detail - no Scriptural quotes that don't directly relate to an impending ass-kicking, for example.

Speaking strictly as a movie critic, I'd have to fault "Eli" for dragging a bit in the middle, and I haven't liked Mila Kunis in anything outside of "That 70s Show."  She always looks profoundly out of place, and comes off as too shallow to play a tormented survivor of the blasted wasteland, although she seems on the verge of putting on a more interesting performance right as the credits start rolling in "Eli."

A lot of my commenters wondered about the plausibility of destroying every Bible but one.  It's a stretch, to be sure, but I would note the movie implies most of the human population died in the war - it was an even more thorough apocalypse than the one in "Road Warrior" - and most of the buildings seem to have gone with them.  Maybe a few frenzied years would have been enough for a frenzied population of survivors to burn most of the Bibles.  Of course, we only suppose Eli has the very last Bible because he believes it.

I was happy enough with the themes expressed in "Eli" to forgive its omissions.  The question of faith surviving beyond the physical existence of the Bible is interesting, but I wonder if Eli himself would say the book he carried was a focus and reminder.  As new printings circulate through the wasteland, the pages will help people remember something they have forgotten, in the face of monstrous physical evidence that life is brutal, meaningless, and doomed.  Having a Good Book to hold onto would help the survivors climb over an awful lot of rubble.

Then, because I am beset by punk demons, I responded with some lightning bolts. Not out of anger at him, but out of general frustration. Maybe some of you will know where I was coming from. (Let's hope he does too.)

"The movie-makers were using blindness and sight in a metaphorical sense, playing with the idea that his physical blindness allows Eli to see spiritual truth more clearly, but as you pointed out, they don't get into the precise nature of that truth in any great detail - no Scriptural quotes that don't directly relate to an impending ass-kicking, for example."

uh, Only one scriptural quote period, and not from the KJB but the RSV.

No matter. People differ about movies. "You see "brightness" where I see "bleached cinematography." At least we agree about Denzel.

But here's a question I've never been able to answer. Thought maybe two heads might be better than one. Everything that's happening now is insanity. Obama is a thoroughly incompetent president and all kinds of things -- the global economy, American liberty, the balance of power between thugs and impotent democracies -- are spinning wildly out of control. Yet the TV pundits still chuckle and opine, lefty and righty still treat each other civilly on the shows where screaming is not the whole purpose, and the knowledgeable pundits (at NRO, RealClearPolitics, WSJ, etc) still carry on their business as if politics are always politics and this too shall pass (Let's grab a drink together at the old watering hole afterwards, and btw, how's the old ball-and-chain?).

There's a new poll showing that Washington DC elites are completely out of tune with the rest of the country. By and large they think everything's sort of okay, which contributes to the sense of business as usual even though usual isn't that good at the moment.

My question: How does one make the Internet scream?

I've tried.

This isn't even the most extreme thing I've done. I had a post I can't find that is all about recognizing insanity from a standing position in front of the bar, including the word 'insanity' repeatedly part of the page backdrop.

It's just not enough to explain, John. It's about making people see 1938 AS it is happening, before the obvious inevitable proceeds to its grim conclusion. That's not a rational communication. It's a combined outcry of love and war. It's a soul change, a soul wound that precipitates an adrenalin fight for life.

I'm not eschewing rationality. I'm saying it has to be wedded to more. I don't give a rat's ass who thinks you and I saw what was happening after it's already too late. I care about not letting it get to be too late.

That's why I'm (probably [maybe] unfairly) harsh towards the new media pundits whose personal fortunes are rising in terms of fame and attention while the fortunes of the nation sink. "Look at all my new connections and colleagues. I'm being taken seriously..." Meanwhile the whole rest of the country, outside the zone of beltway power, feels the firmament imploding on their heads and they want to scream and not stop screaming until the world wakes up.

That situation is not material for an essay but the lamentations of Jeremiah. I feel like finding some way to explode the traditional barriers. Your book is so booklike, something we can mull in the Book of Eli days to come. I see your essays, which ARE incendiary in their icy logic, mistake me not, as just today's entry, with the yellow-star green headlines of the second string shoe-horned among speculations about Mel Gibson's tape recordings and Lindsey Lohan's FU fingernails, and I want to scream. Not singling you out. I'm just as inflamed by the banter between Juan Williams and Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

While the nation is BURNING DOWN.

Never mind, children. It's all just politics and all will go on as before, only maybe more so.

The only thing that's 'as usual' is the molds into which we pour an increasingly toxic raw material. But the molds are like last week's molds, last year's molds, last decade's molds. They all look like some variant or derivative of 60 Minutes, even the New Media ones. What comes out looks the same but its principal constituent is rycin, not Severaid bombast.


Thank you. I feel better now. I just had to yell at somebody, and you're the shrewdest ear I know. I promise to try to stay calm and do my duty as a blogger and a unit of the state.

Haven't heard back yet, but if I do, you'll all be the first to know.(Well, he did give me permission to print this, so he might be listening if there's anything you want to add...)

P.S. If anybody can find the "insanity" page, please let me know. IP is getting so big even I can't find things I know I wrote.

P.P.S. I do have a follow-on to Eduardo's Apocalyptia post. A pretty interesting one, I must say. But I didn't want to get into it without a healing laugh in between. You know. Life goes on. That sort of thing. As opposed to what I was yelling at Doc Zero.

UPDATE. So Doc Zero did reply and made it clear he was willing to share his thoughts with you. Here's what he had to say:

I had a bit more time to digest your unanswerable question, while grinding my way through a hellish tech support issue at work, and I still don't have an answer.  Sometimes I read the responses to something I've posted, and I feel like I might have accomplished something.  Other times, I hit the Publish button two hours after a reasonable bedtime, and wonder what the hell I'm doing.

I began blogging a few months into the Obama presidency, and watched the endgame of the New Deal take shape a couple of decades ahead of schedule.  There are three ways this can play out:

1. A complete, hellish, systemic crash, followed by some kind of rebuilding process.
2. Catastrophe averted after electoral successes, and wise governance, in 2010 and 2012.
3. The United States slides into a greatly diminished, more or less stable level of European misery.

I find #3 highly unlikely, because we're just too big to climb quietly into our deathbed and begin decomposing.  I'd call #1 or #2 more likely on different days, as I process new information and my mood shifts.  Nevertheless, #2 is what I am resolved to work toward, and I believe it IS possible.  Since it's possible, I think we should make it happen.

I don't know what the best way to get people on board would be.  You've touched upon the essence of the problem.  What's happening now is an outrage, a call to arms.  I took a lot of heat from Mitt Romney supporters after I dismissed him this weekend, and replied to one of them by saying he didn't "oppose" ObamaCare, he criticized it... and I think it's not so much a program to be criticized, as a crime to be investigated.

Of course, if you ring the alarm bell too violently, you scare away those precious "independents."  The coalition to avoid catastrophe will inevitably include people who might respond to reasoned persuasion, but flee from a call to arms.  And yet... how can you soften the necessary message enough to make it digestible to the disengaged, without losing all urgency, and becoming dishonest in the process?

When I was just a commenter at Hot Air, I suggested the urgency of studying the term "fascism" and comparing it to what Obama was saying.  I eventually wrote a piece called "The Eff Word" on the subject, which drew an angry, self-described communist into the comment forum.  He said that even discussing the topic was fear-mongering, hyperbole, and of course racism.  People recoil from the word, and understandably so - it's a conceptual hand grenade that doesn't have a safety pin.  But... how do we avoid its tragedy if we refuse to understand what it is, or pretend we don't see it when it's right in front of us?  And how do you ask that question of an "independent" without sounding paranoid?

How do you effectively resist extremism without becoming an "extremist" yourself?

One of the Germans in "Valkyrie" asks the Tom Cruise character, "who do you think you are, to stand against the momentum of history?"  That's what we're doing, you know.  We're not putting our elbows on the table with the Left and waiting for the whistle to blow on an intellectual arm-wrestling match.  We stand before a bloody, rusted engine hurtling toward the edge of a cliff, with a century of accumulated speed.  The pendulum of history had already swung far to the Left before we were born.  A Constitution which anticipated, and absolutely forbid, precisely this kind of ruinous central control and unsustainable pandering has been twisted into a machine that incubates it.  The last remnants of the idea that our highest laws should restrain the State have been torn away, and in the name of the people it cares about, the State has become the implacable enemy of everyone it doesn't.

My hope and faith rest with a great people who have NOT degenerated beyond the capacity to reason.  It's my job to find the words that will reach them, or pass those words along to someone who can turn them into music on the national stage.  It will take some combination of calligraphy, poetry, and trumpets to make this work.  All of us working together, writing in our different ways, may yet stumble upon that combination before the hour grows too late.

We don't agree about everything, but you've got to admit the man can write: "We're not putting our elbows on the table with the Left and waiting for the whistle to blow on an intellectual arm-wrestling match. We stand before a bloody, rusted engine hurtling toward the edge of a cliff, with a century of accumulated speed."

But he's as frustrated as I am when all is said and done. There are are no easy answers here, my hearties. I think we're in for a grim time.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


We're not there yet, but wouldn't it be really cool if we were?

ELI, ELI, UH-OH! Has anyone else noticed that there have been quite a few end o' the world type of things floating around the media for the past few years? Have you also noticed that, aside from maybe the "Left Behind" novels, they spring primarily from the visionary progressive left? Of course you have. Duh. But have you also noticed that in each case there is a kind of celebratory longing for the destruction to hurry up and get here? It's a bleak, soul-crushing despair that says there's nothing we can possibly do to prevent the impending apocalypse, but out of this unavoidable badness will come a greater good. And if the greater good never comes, that's OK, too because we deserve whatever happens to us. To paraphrase what IP says in the link up there, thinking about this gives liberals a hard-on.

Like Denzel said in the Book of Eli: "People used to have too much. More than they needed. They forgot about what was precious to them." Poignant, no? Presumably Denzel is waxing poetic about the glory of living in a nuclear wasteland. Except that people in his world seem to not only have much less than they need, but have even further forgotten about what is precious to them, seeing as how there are roving bands of cannibals and what not. But we're not supposed to think that far ahead. We're merely supposed to think about the "tru-dat" of Denzel's words. We have more than we need in America, right? And we get so caught up in our capitalist pursuit of money that we often forget to remember what is precious to us, yeah? So wouldn't it be great if we had a nuclear holocaust or something and could start all over? Remember: cannibals. This thinking is very prevalent with the lefties, though. Take, for example, this op-ed piece from the WaPo (boldface added):
A.C.'s obvious public-health benefits during severe heat waves do not justify its lavish use in everyday life for months on end. Less than half a century ago, America thrived with only the spottiest use of air conditioning. It could again. While central air will always be needed in facilities such as hospitals, archives and cooling centers for those who are vulnerable to heat [WTF??], what would an otherwise A.C.-free Washington look like?

In a world without air conditioning, a warmer, more flexible, more relaxed workplace helps make summer a time to slow down again. Three-digit temperatures prompt siestas. Code-orange days mean offices are closed. Shorter summer business hours and month-long closings -- common in pre-air-conditioned America -- return.


Families unplug as many heat-generating appliances as possible. Forget clothes dryers --post-A.C. neighborhoods are crisscrossed with clotheslines. The hot stove is abandoned for the grill, and dinner is eaten on the porch.

Saying goodbye to A.C. means saying hello to the world. With more people spending more time outdoors -- particularly in the late afternoon and evening, when temperatures fall more quickly outside than they do inside -- neighborhoods see a boom in spontaneous summertime socializing.

Rather than cowering alone in chilly home-entertainment rooms, neighbors get to know one another. Because there are more people outside, streets in high-crime areas become safer [why not, right?]. As a result of all this, a strange thing happens: Deaths from heat decline. Elderly people no longer die alone inside sweltering apartments, too afraid to venture outside for help and too isolated to be noticed [because they are herded into the aforementioned "cooling centers"?]. Instead, people look out for one another during heat waves, checking in on their most vulnerable neighbors.
Well there you have it. Easy, peasy, jap-a-neezee. Nobody will have to go to work in the summer and instead can spend time grilling on the street with their neighbors, which will make crime go down since it only exists in the first place because all the good guys are in their apartments, cranking up the A.C. We know this because third world nations that don't have the option to use air conditioning are virtually crime free, yes? Can't wait to see his winter column talking about how you shouldn't heat your home, either. Maybe mass snowball fights will keep everybody warm. If you can manage to make your way through the entire article, it's hard not to come away with a sense that the author is - how shall I say - completely fucking nuts.

Is he, though? Perhaps not. I might be able to chalk it all up to insanity if he were the only one with these fantasies, but that's not the case. Here's a quick list of apocalyptic orgies, or what you might call "progressive porn":
  • An Inconvenient Truth - It's not about saving the planet. It's about selling you on the belief that the planet deserves to get back at us since your mere existence is causing all the bad things that happen on the planet. And it's about meaning well.
  • The Book of Eli - We've been over this one. [ED. NOTE. And now DocZero has. He likes it, he really likes it.]
  • 2012 - Everything blows up. Just because. And it's probably your fault somehow because the Mayans knew about it.
  • The Day After Tomorrow - Nature totally screws with everybody because Americans drive SUVs and George Bush is president.
  • The Road - Everything blows up in an unspecified but probably nuclear event. If you are unlucky enough to survive, you'll trudge around with a rusty revolver and a shopping cart while trying to keep rednecks from raping and eating your eight year old son.
  • George Romero movies - Everybody turns into zombies and eats you because of capitalism or something. Or maybe everybody is already zombies? In America, anyway. Deep, man. Pass the brains. *nom nom nom*
  • 28 Days Later - Everybody turns into zombies because of an evil corporation. And some well-meaning animal rights activists.
  • Resident Evil - See "28 Days Later" minus the well-meaning animal rights activists.
  • Fallout - Everything blows up in a nuclear war not long after the Chinese invade Alaska. This one is at least somewhat plausible.
  • Life After People - All the humans disappear just because. Thank Gaia. Join us on the History Channel as we jerk off to Western Civ falling apart one non-maintained skyscraper and highway overpass at a time.
  • Aftermath - Basically the same thing as "Life After People", but Nat Geo was jealous they didn't think of it first.
  • The Great Turning - You should be excited that the global economy is crashing down in flames. We all deserve it because of America and the Industrial Revolution. Then we can get back to basics like starving to death and dying of malaria.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Feel free to mention any glaring omissions in the comments. What I have never quite understood is, if all of these progs are so miserable and spend every waking moment fantasizing about humanity dying, why don't they just kill themselves? Some of them do, but a pitifully small percentage of them. Why do the rest of them feel the need to hang on to life and try to make us just as miserable as they are?

It's because these people think they are going to be spared the worst of whatever is coming. They know this because when Al Gore flies around on his private jet, he's really winking and sending a private message, ya know? "Don't worry, baby. I'm talking to 'them', not you." Same with the op-ed writer above: "some" places will still be allowed to run the air conditioner *wink, wink*. "Oh right, like my house and my social justice non-profit group's office" thinks the prog disciple. And even though Obama contradicts himself every time he opens his mouth, whichever sentence has the stuff these guys like is the one that must be true; he's only saying that other stuff to be political. So since they blame everybody else for their self-imposed misery, they think they'll get a front row seat to watch the payback happen to the rest of planet's population. Not them.

The progs think that they're going to be in a car with John Cusack, miraculously driving away from destruction. They're going to be the guy that gets away from the zombies and meets a hot chick in the process. They're not going to be the skeleton in the bombed-out car or the dead guy Denzel takes the shoes off of. They're going to be the lone wasteland wanderer, gallivanting around the rotten remnants of a capitalist society. However, there's not so much room in John Cusack's car, and the lone wasteland wanderer is a-lone, not part of a group. It's a little bit like a high school athlete fantasizing about and betting his whole future on becoming an NFL hall of fame player. It's probably not going to work out that smoothly. They haven't thought that far ahead yet and they probably never will.

InstaPunk touched on this issue a little bit already:
When the ultimate deathlord descends and decides that he will lead mankind to species-wide suicide, his most ardent followers will be half-smart, half-educated women who are absolutely committed to the cause. They will be eloquent, articulate, and totally f___ing nuts on his behalf. Why? Because a small percentage of women are wise and wonderful, but a far greater percentage are permanently, completely, absolutely OUT OF THEIR F____ING MINDS about absolutely f___ing everything. Especially their conviction that the deathlord loves them in the deepest possible way, even though they only see him on alternate Tuesdays.
But it's not only women, it's men, too. [ED. NOTE: The archives also contain this...] Including Stan Cox the op-ed writer, who is definitely batshit crazy. He and all the rest of them. They are all out of their fucking minds about everything. It's an important thing to remember.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go run my dryer with no clothes in it.

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