September 8, 2008 - September 1, 2008
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
No Position on the
THE THING PROBLEM
Peculiarly, the Carson Daly show Last Call
has become a
flashpoint for the issues surrounding the strike by the Writers' Guild
Carson Daly may not have won over any
friends at the Writers Guild of America, but he no doubt just got a bit
tighter with his buddies at NBC.
Five weeks into the writers' strike, the Last Call host returned to the
airwaves Monday night sans the cue card-worthy quips of his staff's
union scribes, becoming the first late-night emcee to cross the picket
Daly taped the show last week—and was excoriated by the guild,
especially for trying to solicit material via phone and email. But
until the episode aired Monday, the 34-year-old had remained largely
mum about his motivation.
"If I had not been back on the air tonight, 75 members of my loyal
staff and crew were going to get laid off," he said at the show's open,
adding that NBC execs told him, "You either come back, or they're laid
"I said, 'Let's turn the lights on, I'm gonna come back.' It's that
Daly had no reason to doubt that NBC would make good on its
cleaning-house threat, as the network effectively laid off the nonguild
staffs of its other two late-night talk shows, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
The news article can't seem to decide if Daly is a villainous scab, a
network toady, or a victim of circumstance, although their preference
seems to be the middle choice.
I tend to think the right answer is "None of the above." He's a guy
trying to make the right decision without a big safety net. Leno,
Letterman, and to a lesser extent, Conan O'Brien are able to have their
cake and eat it too. That's one of the prime perks of being fabulously
rich. You can sympathize with the writers who are endangering
everyone's livelihood, but you can also pull out your personal
checkbook and protect the staffers whose mortgages are being thrown
under the bus by the current labor action. Carson Daly isn't rich
enough to pay his way out of a very real dilemma. He has my sympathy
for being in that fix and still deciding to make a decision.
I also sympathize with the writers. They've been treated like dirt
throughout the whole history of Hollywood, despite the obvious fact
that there would be no movies or TV shows without them. The same fact
holds true in the world of print publishing, which is even more
outrageous, because books, magazines, and newspapers can't pretend that
their product is as much a function of directors, actors, set
designers, cameramen, lighting technicians, and special effects wizards
as it is of writers. Yet even in publishing, writers always get the short end of
the stick, routinely stuck with take-it-or-leave-it contracts that give
them no rights about when they'll be paid, who does the accounting, and
whether or not they'll even be consulted by the writer wannabes who
control marketing budgets, sales strategies, and publicity campaigns. When it
comes to the abuse of talent, no category of artist has been more
systematically used, defrauded, and, yes, raped to a fare-thee-well
On the other hand. (There's almost always another hand.) I have to
admit that the idea of being a member of a writers' union seems
directly at odds with the whole idea of being a writer. Writing is
mostly a solitary, cerebral, and intensely private and personal
calling, not at all like being a welder on an assembly line. Writing
isn't a job. It's the thing writers can't not do. Which tends to reduce
the amount of economic clout most of us have in the marketplace. The
prospect of writers picketing, writers beating up scabs, writers
forming the usual unruly mob scene favored by unions the world over just
seems a hopeless oxymoron. And if there's anyone who can be expected to
lose sleep over the unintended peripheral victims of a strike -- the
non-celebrity staffers who hustle cameras for Steven Spielberg and book
guests for Jay Leno -- it's probably the writer who has spent his life
getting inside the heads of the real people who carry the thankless
daily burden of being responsible without being dramatically overpaid
for it. Writers are nature's bleeding hearts. It's unsettling when they
deal out pain without seeming to feel it themselves.
That's why Instapunk can't manage to concoct a position on the writers'
strike. There's a bit too much fantastical Atlas Shrugged
the basic premise. It makes me think of Aristophanes's absurdist
. It makes
me imagine an economic ultimatum-cum-riot by Picasso, Matisse, and the
rest of the Paris local of the Federated Union of Cubists/Moderns of
Europe (FUC/ME). A great basis for a satirical book or movie, perhaps,
but essentially ludicrous in the real world.
Don't misread me, though. I wholeheartedly believe writers should share
in the profits of the high-tech media bonanza. And I love the idea of
all the showbiz loudmouths rendered suddenly mute by the removal of the
puppeteer's hand from their backs.
Is that solidarity? Maybe semi-solidarity with a side order of
The 'Bright Eyes'
Weird postulates have been creeping into the body politic of late.
Notably, atheists have somehow outflanked theists to assume the default
position that belief in God is somehow so absurd that it can be
ridiculed as an automatic sign of imbecility. Similarly, the MSM
worship of gay popinjays has invested these exceptions to both
Christian morality and Darwinian evolution with an automatic authority
defies reason as well as good taste. I promise to address the atheist
fraud later on. Today, I'll content myself with a repudiation of the
gay supremacy meme.
Sorry fellas, but there really is
something wrong with gay men. I call
it the Bright Eyes Syndrome. They've made their lives about one thing,
overwhelmingly one thing
It's made them into hysterical personalities.
For a long time they were in the closet, concealing the 'one thing'
from intimates, families, and professional associates. In other words,
they were in the business of lying on a systematic basis about the 'one
thing' that was most crucial to their sense of personal identity. This
is a distorting phenomenon. Worse, it never worked. Heterosexual men
tend to know that homosexual men are homosexual. If they pretended they
didn't, they were being kind and they were feeding a dangerous notion
that made homosexual men feel superior. "They don't know this primal
thing about me. I must be infinitely smarter and more perceptive than
Then they came out of the closet. Which made them feel special -- and
in the current media climate -- somehow chosen
as a super-sensitive
blend of what is best in both the male and female sexes, meaning they
were free to be detached and rational when it suited them and
irrationally emotional when it suited them, with the result that their
every whim was automatically better than the best their male and female
competitors could muster. Combined with the built-in hysteria of their
monomaniacally sex-obsessed natures, this kind of attention made them
. He may once have been an intelligent
cultural and political critic. Now he's simply a prancing joke. He has
verbal skills. He has keen powers of observation. He is knowledgeable
about current events. But the world that passes under his purview is
nothing but a prop for his bright-eyed peacock strut.
Proof? Look at the picture. He really doesn't know that he's an average
looking, middle-aged bald guy wth the kind of mincing step that tells
98 percent of men that his fondest pursuit is taking it up the ass from
another guy. And that all his writing and commentary are nothing but a
part of his unappetizing mating dance.
Bright eyes. Dulled mind. Anxious ass. The kind of farce Oscar Wilde
would have dealt with mercilessly if he were still alive to see all the
pathetic mimics of his charm and intellect.
I'm pretty much sick of intellectual queers. Or queer intellectuals.
Decide for yourselves which is the more politically incorrect insult.
You'll find me here. As always.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
So the official college football season has come to a close, and the
various polls have picked their top ten teams. There's no point in
rehashing the analysis of the conventional football wisdom about how
the bowl games will go. Is there anything worth saying? Yes. Readers of
InstaPunk will know that we care about little things as well as big
things, details as well as life-and-death issues. That's why this is
the the only blog we know of that took a position on the disastrous
trend in baseball toward slouchy pants with no
. It's not a fashion boo-boo; it's a crime against the
national pastime and all it stands for. The truth is, sports uniforms
are important. They speak volumes
about the values of the teams and
institutions they represent. It's even possible that if one picked the
best uniforms in a sport, it would be tantamount to picking the best
representatives of the sport itself.
That's an experiment we're willing to try. What are the ten best
uniforms in college football? And what do those uniforms say?
Obviously, any such list will have its detractors, but controversy is
the most fun people can have in the blogosphere with their pajamas on.
Don't hesitate to snipe and carp and fulminate about Instapunk's list
of the Top Ten. The pettier your reasoning, the better.
Did we forget to mention we're biased
Well, we are. But we're still right. Rutgers would be higher on the
list if they hadn't given in to the current fad of having too many
uniforms. If we weren't
biased, we'd have dropped them out of the Top Ten for the ultimate
no-no of showing up for a game in all black uniforms. But they got
shellacked in that game and probably won't wear that particular
sartorial atrocity again. The home uniform they wore against Navy was
one of the smartest we've seen: scarlet jersey, white pants, black
stockings, and the iconically simple scarlet "R" helmet. Perfection.
Nothing on those Crimson Tide helmets but a number. Simple, understated
8 Ohio State
They'd be higher on the list if it weren't for those damned buckeye
leaves they put on their helmets.
Damned buckeye leaves
Otherwise, the uniforms are sensational, both home and away. Scarlet
and gray are the colors every school would choose if they were starting
all over from scratch. Ohio State grabbed them way back at the
beginning. And they haven't changed much over the years, except for
putting names on the backs of their jerseys.
We're not that
we've never liked USC and their 'el supremo' mentality. On the other
hand, they're in the Pac 10, where most schools seem to think it's best
to have a different uniform for every single game (Google 'worst
uniforms' and the University of Oregon will leap to the fore, with
umpty-thousand combinations of weird get-ups.) But USC doesn't play
that game. They stick with their admittedly striking color combination
year after year after year. That's worthy of respect. And admit it:
their uniforms are handsome.
This is a nomination from the distaff side. Ordinarily, we don't like
the monochrome jersey-pants combination and usually regard it as a
disqualifier. But Kentucky gets the nod because their blue is such a,
blue. It is.
And the uniforms aren't all junked up with busy helmet graphics,
excessive stripes, or fancy fonts for their numbers. And it really is a
It's almost impossible to improve on Navy's navy-blue
Ah, those helmets. The graphic nod to the leather helmet construction
of the old days. No 'M' for Michigan. The cub scout colors (What are
you going to do if scarlet and gray are already taken?) Sorry, George.
Michigan wins this time because there aren't any little wolverine
prints on the helmets of Woody's infamous "It" team. And no stripes, no
frills. Another superb classic.
These are essentially the same uniforms they were 30 or 40 years ago.
Oddly enough, that's not even the rule in the Ivy League. Penn seems to
change uniform designs every year, and recently Princeton has apparently
been trying to jettison orange for a more (politically correct?)
reddish color, not to mention their imitation Michigan helmet graphics.
Harvard and Yale have stood shoulder to shoulder in reactionary
solidarity, however, in all but one respect. Harvard
sneaks into the top three because its uniforms exemplify the ultimate
team statement -- no names
the jerseys, only numbers. Every player is simply one of the Crimson.
Kind of surprising when you remember it's Harvard we're talking about
2 Notre Dame
All things considered, perfect
No helmet insignia, no stripes, no names on the jerseys, yet instantly
recognizable and timelessly smart. Why are they Number Two rather than
Number One? Because they care enough about uniforms to wear green
instead of blue on occasion. Sounds like a scintilla of vanity to us.
Which you can't
1 Penn State
The ultimate. One color: blue. No stripes on jersey or pants, no helmet
insignia, no names on jerseys, and adamant refusal to mar the purity of
white pants. It's so close to completely generic that the only
difference between the Nittany Lions and an unbranded supermarket
football team is their coach, their history, and their performance on
the field. They don't need to dress up like lions because they play
like lions. It just doesn't
get any better than this.
Now you know what our criteria are. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.
Feel free to disagree, but marshall your arguments carefully. Football
isn't a dress-up game. It's a team sport in which duds shouldn't
And before you ask, the pro nominations are easy: the Bears, the
Browns, and the Steelers. Everybody else is a popinjay except the
Raiders, whose uniforms are even uglier than they are simple. If you
want to fight about it, we're always here.