Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
July 6, 2009 - June 29, 2009

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Battlestar

MORE STAR TREK. All right. I'm hooked. I admit it. The Battlestar Galactica marathon is on, and I'm powerless against it. Why?

Certainly, no sci-fi premise ever had more going against it. The original series from which this one was conceived was nothing but a TV rip-off of Star Wars, featuring bad actors (Lorne Greene, for God's sake) and that blond dude who later made a fortune on the A-Team. They had some fuzzy relationship with Earth, which meant that fighter pilots wore pharaonic helmets and high-fived each other as if they were about to time-jump into Tom Cruise's Top Gun land.

So I gave the whole thing a miss when it resurfaced on the Sci-Fi Channel. I ignored all the glowing reviews. I never watched because I knew better. But I was wrong. Now I'm admitting it. Battlestar Galactica is one of the best shows on TV. A lot of you already know that, which makes my confession that much more humiliating. For those who don't already know it, here's the pitch.

Edward James Olmos. Let me repeat that. Edward James Olmos. He could make you believe that a colony of snails had to be saved because they were reinventing Michelangelo in slime and were just indispensable. He's the best TV actor. (We're already on record about the worst.) He was good in Miami Vice. He's great in Battlestar. The years have made him somehow beautifully ugly. He makes the difficult decisions of command in a life-and-death situation riveting. When he's on screen, forget every other competing show on television. This is where you want to be.

As pure sci-fi, Battlestar sucks Make no mistake about that. Except for their ability to "jump" at faster than light speed, the Battlestar crew has no interesting technology whatever. They have wristwatches, four-in-hand ties, jackets with wide lapels, contemporary military ranks, 20th century slang, cassette tapes, a quaint awe of stealth aircraft, and a becoming fondness for what looks an awful lot like WWII-era .45 caliber sidearms. They're also polytheists, clinging to the Olympian gods so fiercely that they expostulate, "Oh my Gods" when surprised. Their enemies the cylons -- read 'terminators' -- are monotheists. Possibly Catholic. That'll turn your head right around in a hurry.

And there's one other really annoying thing. They're suitably foul-mouthed but they think the word "fuck" is pronounced "frak." This may seem like a small quibble, but wait till you wade through an episode full of "frak me," "frak you,""Are you frakking her?", and "Who you looking at, motherfrakker?" It gets old in a hurry. Trust me.

Not to mention the feminist slant. The ace of aces is Starbuck, a woman of about 5' 5" who can beat up any other guy on the show. This also gets old. Very.

Still. Edward James Olmos. He's trying to keep a rag-tag army of survivors alive against formidable odds. He believes in duty, courage, loyalty, and honor. He has very hard decisions to make, something like those a Commander-in-Chief might have to make. Really hard. Sometimes he can even make you cry.

When the final season starts on Friday at 10 pm, we'll be there.

Frak Numbers. This is the place to be.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Just how nuts are we?

WUV. It's one of those dull public service announcements that flash by without attracting much conscious response. I wouldn't have paid any attention at all if they hadn't made such a repetitive fuss about the height issue. The announcement closes on a website called, which spells out the three-part child protection scheme being peddled by the NHTSA. The feds are particularly anxious that we understand our responsibility doesn't end with infant seats and toddler seats. Now it also includes child booster seats, promoted with this touching video sales pitch.

Does it seem kind of harmless and sweet? Does it? Unfortunately, it embodies a truly gross misrepresentation. The 4 ft 9 in height limit takes in a lot more territory than little girls who have just learned how to spell. Here's a height chart from one of the evil pharmaceutical companies that has a vested interest in alerting you to the possibility that your kid isn't tall enough for his age. (In other words, for the statistically illiterate among you, it might be overstating average heights by age.) This one deals exclusively with boys.

I added the red lines. Apparently, up to 25 percent of boys are still under 4 ft 9 inches in height at the age of 13. They're roaring into puberty and -- in past generations -- should be undergoing initiation into what is now laughingly called manhood, but the Big Mother who has devoured the soul of our government insists that we have a moral obligation to keep them trussed up like capon roasters -- or 21st century babies -- whichever is more humiliating.

At least capons aren't pampered princelings with private chauffeurs.

Do you feel any sense of ridiculousness yet? Well, here's a group of boys aged 10 to 13 who, if you watch long enough, are correctly described as "little men." What's interesting is that there's no particular correlation between height and the manliness of their behavior.

Who in good conscience would consign one of these young men to a booster seat on the way home from such a milestone?

And, no, I'm not drawing an extreme analogy. All of these kids are older than the age at which Big Mother desires to begin teaching them about sex, condoms, the acceptability of gay lifestyles, and the legal recourses they have for concealing their sexually related medical wants and needs from their parents. So, even as we browbeat their parents into regarding them as permanent fragile infants, we are also teaching "the kids" that they are free to indulge every momentary appetite and lust they experience -- as long as they're willing to revert to helpless, thumbsucking brats in the back seat of the family minivan.

Behold the new template for American manhood:

Why do Little League Champions seem somehow so much bigger than the candy-ass fools who think it's really possible to protect the living from chance, personal responsibility, unexpected consequences, and life itself?


LAZARUS. It's not true that InstaPunk tortured or killed me for what I said. He's The Boss and regardless of what anyone says, he doesn't care what anyone thinks about the posters at InstaPunk. He was just trying to provide cover for me. But I don't need cover. I'm not sorry about what I said. I'm only sorry that all the bud-buttons thought they had the right to call me a racist for speaking the truth.

Now I know you're all wondering what a bud-button is. That's the complicated question. And there's no definitive answer. It's mostly a matter of the things no bud-button has ever done. For example, bud-buttons aren't people who have ever seen a half-mile long line of tomato trucks in August waiting for the Heinz, Hunts, Ritter, and Campbell plants to accept the town-wide pungency of their cargo. They don't know the way that smell slows you down to a stupor so that when you turn down a side street and see that one little gingerbread house on the corner with the clipped lawn and the white glider and the trained red roses you just gasp and say to yourself, "This is why I'm so privileged to be alive." It doesn't matter that you never get to meet the white-haired black man who mows that patch with the mechanical mower, or his his plump wife with the pitcher of iced tea on the porch, although you nod at them as you round the corner, because the whole world smells of tomatoes and they have chosen roses.

Bud-buttons never bridle when they see the stereotyped black chess player in the movies. That's because they never met Duane, who had 1500 SATs and really did know how to play chess. But it never bought him any peace. He was always alone. I felt keenly that he wanted me to play, but I was insensitive, not to Duane but to chess, and it was only later that I realized he neeeded that other language -- of castles and knights and bishops -- to build the bridge I thought could be built with mere common experience. I was wrong. Ever since, I hate the black chess player in the movies. We're supposed to think he's competing. He's not. He's looking for friends who aren't there.

I can't stand bud-buttons. They believe that fat black women are supernally maternal, wise, and almost divine in their ability to guide children, read character, and survive the vicissitudes of fortune. I could run screaming down the streets of the upper east side and up the sidewalks of Beacon Hill demanding an explanation, but no one would come out on the stoop to explain to me what happened to Emma. Of course, we didn't live in Manhattan or Boston. We lived in a place where domestic servants aren't employees but part of the family. And that's what did in Emma. She babysat three or four families in the country, who expressed their gratitude with gifts and goods, which is probably why a fat black woman friend of hers shot her, point blank, in the stomach, with a shotgun. It was the first time I ever prayed for another human life. When I heard. "Save Emma, God. Please save Emma." And he did. When they wheeled Emma into the emergency room, one of the surgeons recognized her, yanked her to the head of the line, and performed the operation that saved her life himself. For no charge.

Yeah, he was a racist, too. We are all, have always been, will always be racists. Where we live, we know that race is a principal determinant of what your life experience will be. You bud-buttons want to fight about it?

Of course you do. But you're disadvantaged. Underprivileged. You met your first black people in high school or college. Or was there a black kid you bonded with so specially in middle school? Sure there was. But they weren't in your lives from the very very beginning. You didn't learn from them Crazy Eights, how to iron a shirt or a sheet, driving their car in the driveway when you were you only nine, or how to cook your own little meal when you were hungry. How could you? You were only bud-buttons.

You could claim, I suppose, that I was surprised when the old black men showed up to teach me about the heroin jazz. But that would make you a bud-button. Which you just couldn't be, could you? Me, I'd been aching to ask them. What is this music? Why is it so haunting?

The answer was more than haunting. They said, "The music is about life. It's about pain, and loss, and just going on regardless." And I asked, "Where's the joy? The ecstasy of Emma for all the kids she raised who love her to death? The triumph of Duane for all the chess games he won? The fulfillment of Miles Davis for the jazz he made that no one before him ever foresaw?"

The wise old black men told me that such pleasures were only ephemera. That their lot in life was misery, deep and inconsolable. I told them I was a Celt, and they had only just begun to learn about pain.

Then we went out drinking together and had a fine old time.

But if you asked them, I'm sure they'd confirm that I'm nothing but a nasty old racist. Blood is thicker than whiskey. By one whole hell of a lot.

You can tell me that if you're not a bud-button. But what are you?


Bud-button. So sorry. Well, listen to this from my private stock...

UPDATE. Instaputz fans! Note that your father blog doesn't allow what we allow here -- open comment. Also note that your father blog is a pussy on the order of Maureen Dowd, who misquotes and [emends] as if it's her religion. Your little pansy pop does the same thing. But now that you're here, have fun, liberal dick-things... Just a small note for you non-Celts: we're not at all insecure about penis size. Not a factor. Find something else to torment us with.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour.

PARADISE: Inspiring, ain't it?

FLASHBACK. All the young'uns I know have learned not to tell me that their objection to things they don't know anything about is that they're "boring." The word refers to a surfeit of knowledge, not an incurious lack of knowledge or interest. Until kids prove they know something, they have no right to declare they're bored. (Most parents are too "bored" themselves to apply this kind of discipline.) So: When I use the word "boring" I really mean it.

"Earth Hour" was boring. Boring in the way that hearing a Sarah Lawrence women's studies major condemn men is boring. In the way that hearing a Vegan rail about the soul-sickness of those who like a Porterhouse steak is boring. In the way that people who are in love with the whole idea of death talk about "saving the planet" as if that were some kind of humanistic goal is boring. In the way that hearing anyone reference anything ever said by Al Gore as some kind of wisdom is boring.

Think about it. Your idea of progress is watching the lights go out on civilization? It's never occurred to you that the beginning of the self-absorbed obsession you have with yourselves occurred in the torchlight of the aged twenty-somethings who finally had the post-sunset leisure time to invent social criticism (i.e., art) in the Lascaux caves 15,000 years ago?

But you've used your so-called rationalism to turn everything 180 degrees in the opposite direction. Your ancestors equated light with life. You've tricked yourselves into equating light with death.

The next step for you is understanding that your idea of human guilt is an irrational religious condemnation of life in general and of conscious life in particular. I feel sure you can accomplish that small remaining leap of logic. Just allow yourselves to imagine that each of the evil, insignificant flies in the following footage has a history, a family, a life, and an infinite set of emotional experiences probably more varied than your own.

Then come back and tell us how virtuous it would be -- in the grand scheme of things, you know -- to snuff it all out for the sake of a planet you have anthropomorphized, based on no evidence whatever, as Gaia.

We don't need any more "Earth Hours." What we need is for humans to remember who their friends are. Which doesn't include a multi-trillion ton chunk of iron and rock.

But never mind our objections. The ending you have planned for all of us is so much more romantic that it has already been written by a woman who was, if anything, even more spectacular than Gaia.

Her name was Ayn Rand. She was, like many of you, an atheist. But she wasn't a self-hating, delusional moron. Like most of you.

Just something to think about. After the glory of Earth Hour and all.

What a bunch of putzes.

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