Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
January 14, 2012 - January 7, 2012

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Good and Evil are BFFs.

An Ice Road Truckers morality play. Alex (left) and Hugh (right.)

THE BELL RINGS. I quit watching Deadliest Catch when it descended into bathos after the death of Captain Phil. Sooner or later, I'm sure, Ice Road Truckers will follow the same path. But I might be inclined to cut them a little more slack. Reason? This season in particular has been almost obsessively about character, revealing subtleties that take multiple episodes to lay bare. The constant risks of driving the Dalton Road in Alaska -- Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay -- are the given, exploitable obviously for the dangers every driver faces, as well as the economic pressure to score the big bucks. But it's actually more Alone than Endurance. In the end it's not really man against nature or man against man. It's man against himself. You know. Truer somehow. More elemental.

Who can't sympathize with Lisa, trying to earn enough money to buy back her lost Tennessee walking horse? Everything's against her. She's not physically strong enough to smack the ice off her frozen brakes. And whenever she screws up, the CB gossip has her in its crosshairs within moments. The girlie who shouldn't be here at all. The male drivers are like antibodies rejecting a virus. But she's brave. Full-on brave. Yes, she has something to prove, but she knows she can only prove it by being good enough, not by whining, crying, or demanding dispensations for her sex. Bottom line? She's a trucker, not a diva.

But there is a diva on the scene. Shockingly, it's the central casting hero of the Dalton Road, Jack. He's talented, intelligent, incredibly knowledgeable, and the undisputed king of the heavy loads. Yet he also has a disconcerting tendency to leave people waiting. He's perpetually late to work, even when the stakes are high. When first we saw it, it seemed a clever response to an obnoxious personality (Hugh -- more about him later), but then we began to observe that it's chronic. A fault of ego. The Dalton Road has a way of exposing faults.

Which brings me to the centerpiece of the show and this post. A pair of Canadians who have been spotlighted since the beginning of the series. Alex and Hugh. Best buds and arch-rivals. Hugh always beats Alex in the race for the most loads in the ice truck season, wherever it is. When the show was filmed in Canada, they were just the two most colorful characters. Now that they're in Alaska, they're the outsiders, the outlanders who have to earn the respect of the veterans of this most dangerous of all roads.

It's been fascinating to watch. Almost a parable. Hugh is leading in the race for loads, as always, but not by much, as always. But he is making enemies. For him it's exclusively about the money and his own ego.He never stops to help a trucker in trouble. He chisels his way past all the rules, starting so early in the morning, for example, that he rarely has to undergo the bureaucratic rigors of the weigh station. If a load isn't securely tightened by the loaders, it's not his problem. Damaged cargo is the company's problem, not his, even if he has foreseen the possibility. He continually cuts corners on safety, eschewing chains as "jewelry" and taking chances that could endanger not only his life but others.

Alex, on the other hand, has a dozen children and is a committed Catholic with a crucifix hanging from his rearview mirror. Perhaps it's overstatement to call him the saint of the Dalton Road, but perhaps not, too. We've seen him stop for a driver in a ditch Hugh merely laughed at, and stay for hours helping to dig out the truck and the driver's job. He was the last man to leave the scene, and given what we know of his cardiac history (bad), he was risking his life to do so. The driver he helped was, typically, less than fully grateful. They'd had words in the past, and all he was willing to acknowledge was that they were now "even." Right. You resented him for some fancied sleight and he saved your job. Even.

In another episode we saw Alex stop at the scene of an accident and stay for hours trying to save the life of a man who was bleeding dangerously from a savage gash in his face and throat. This against a deadline for the load he was carrying. When he finally left, he recited the Lord's Prayer in full and somehow managed to meet his deadline by a handful of minutes. But not before his friend Hugh had stolen the load Alex had waiting for him on the return trip to Fairbanks. Hugh called on the CB to crow, and Alex said he wanted Hugh to make his money, only maybe not at his expense.

Two things about all this. Ice Road Truckers is almost pure capitalism. Risk versus reward, with the spoils going to those who perform the best in a pitiless life-and-death market environment. But capitalism is not an anti-moral system. Hugh is making enemies by caring for nothing but money. Alex is making friends by, well, being a good man. He just is. And you can see that the people he interacts with see it too. Eventually, what is called "luck" will begin to turn his way. Further, even in this money-for-freight dogfight, character matters. Capitalism makes extraordinary demands on that character, perhaps, but it is not inimical to those who are good and brave and altruistic.

Second. And perhaps most interestingly. Alex and Hugh really are friends. Which spins us into the realm of theology. When Alex had a serious cardiac event a season or two ago, Hugh was genuinely grieved, despite all his bluster to the contrary. It's clear that on the Dalton Road -- was there ever a better metaphor for life itself? -- Hugh is a kind of demon. But he also needs Alex and very probably loves him for the same goodness we admire.

Sharpshooters at Christianity continually ask why, if God is good, there is still evil. I'm thinking evil is the proof that good is good and not just a checkbox. If it isn't a choice, it's nothing at all. But if we look at the good versus evil showdown in terms of need, it's not so much the case that good needs evil as that evil needs good. Hugh gleefully announces that "good guys finish last" after he's stolen Alex's return load. He defines himself by being Alex's polar opposite. (He's actually nicknamed the 'Polar Bear' in the show.) But you're struck by the fact that when Alex retires or dies, Hugh will probably lose his vitality, his very reason for living. He'll be reduced to the empty, money-grubbing pisshead he really is. All his stature comes from "beating" Alex.

And, truthfully, he'll never actually accomplish that. What he needs most of all is Alex's forgiveness. And every time he accepts it, he is diminished.

Here endeth the lesson. Understand it? Then we got us a CONVOY.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This is a test.

What color are her eyes? What eyes?
Did anybody see a ship? Thought not.

WELL, THE SONG'S NOT BAD, BUT WHY ARE HER PANTIES SO WRINKLED? Women still think they can rule us with sex. What dopes. Nobody's interested anymore. Despite this. Cher is so over. Even if she's still somehow more desirable than Lady Gaga. (Maybe it's the less pixilation...) About which Camille Paglia has the lowdown, as always.

Furthermore, despite showing acres of pallid flesh in the fetish-bondage garb of urban prostitution, Gaga isnt sexy at all shes like a gangly marionette or plasticised android. How could a figure so calculated and artificial, so clinical and strangely antiseptic, so stripped of genuine eroticism have become the icon of her generation? Can it be that Gaga represents the exhausted end of the sexual revolution?

It's a shame, really. Girls have finally discovered their own predatory version of sexuality, and men are too busy shopping at Bath & Bodyworks and gazing into the mirror to notice. Isn't it ironic?

Well, maybe not. People are strange.

Or, at least, stranger than they used to be. We're past all that sex stuff.

Sailors? What sailors?

Never mind. But doesn't Lady Gaga sound exactly like Madonna, only with smaller tits?

Video Day

It really didn't get any better than this. JUMP.

RECOVERY (CONT). We're talking 80s here, and I'm counting on you all to help. There was a time when MTV was king and I swore I'd never give it up. But MTV gave me up instead. They moved to gold teeth and reality programming. Fat people and no videos without tarted up Bentleys. So. What am I going to do? Show you a few videos I remember and DEMAND that you do the same. First up? The video that launched a TV show and a fashion industry. Forget Thriller. This is the all-time moneymaker.

No, it's not a Top Ten list. Just what I remember and what's available on the Internet. For example, this one is maybe the best video of that decade but you can't embed it. Sadly, she now looks like a querulous cow, but back then she was every man's dream. Which is why we'll take a different direction entirely and show you an IMPORTANT video, the rapprochement between rap and rock.

Now it's getting more personal. Rock ballads. There were a bunch of hellacious white trash guys who wanted to prove they weren't psychopaths. I'm convinced. This is the best of them. The real video is here (embedding disabled, etc), but at least we have the song.

I suppose the women have to have their say, too. Never knew one who didn't love this one.

With that out of the way, I think we can all agree that 80s MTV video was mostly about the women. They were awesome.

Can she sing? Who cares? I mean, really. Who cares? If you were lost in the woods, wouldn't you want Laura Brannigan yelling your name in that bronze voice? Sure you would.

Don't you think I know Heart should be here? Like this one (disabling embedded blah blah). So Roxette is merely a stand-in. Could have been this one for that matter. Still hot. They were all hot.

Oops. Yeah. There were some guys too. Even the chicks loved some of the guys.

Especially the old guys.

You knew I couldn't get through this without a nod to the one and only's...

Now it's a free-for-all. None of my picks were scientific. Yours don't have to be either. My only rule (God, I hate rules): Please don't YouTube in the Comments. It screws everything up for everyone else by changing the margins. Just give me the link. The best ones -- my choice, unfair, I know -- will get full play as an update or postscript. Fair enough or sorta?

UPDATE. Youth will be served. La Brizoni has emerged from his Fortress of Solitude to set us oldsters straight on the real meaning of MTV, etc. Behold and adore his greatnessitudinousness:

"Jump" over "Hot For Teacher"? Unacceptable.

Golden Age MTV may have been a wellspring of vitality for old men who knew better than to get boring in the dotage of their 30s, sure. But for us wee tykes who watched it in our formative years, the M stood for Mindfuck. The 8-year-old mind Can. Not. Process the weird-ass puppets and screwed-up cartoons that used to be MTV's bread and butter when they ran out of record company promos. To the pre-pubescent child, they simply cannot exist. In a twisted, even demented way, it was for the children of the 80s and 90s their first exposure to capital-W Wonder.

The prime mover? Liquid Television. It was the early days of infomericals, so networks still thought they had to throw whatever crap they could find on the air during those late night slots. MTV had enough sense to keep that crap hip and edgy, and Liquid Television was born.

Beavis and Butthead were Liquid Television's most famous debutantes, but I always preferred Bobby and Billy. All the penny-ante "subversive" sexual stuff went over my head, but a cartoon where the kids just musket blast a family of birds? And there's blood? I couldn't have been more shocked if I'd grown an arm out of my forehead. I laughed so hard I thought I'd torn something internally.

In the same vein were Winter Steele, a filthy, foulmouthed puppet before filthy, foulmouthed puppets were cool, and Dogboy, which, me not knowing any of the referrent nostalgia (or, again, the sex stuff), was compelling gibberish.

Liquid TV wasn't all, and weirdness wasn't all. Sometimes, it was funny. Hella funny. Remember Sinatra covering the hits of the early 90s? Remember Jimmy the Cab Driver's take on "Ironic"? Remember the pants-wetting greatness of The State?

Oh, you want videos? Proper 80s music video-videos? Fine. Here's "Freedom of Choice," Devo's MTV-iest video ever. Unless that's "Through Being Cool." And since this is InstaPunk, I can't not mention their cover of You Know Who.

There's also this, the greatest song to scream along with at the top of your lungs from a speeding car. Or, if your appetite for terrifyingly strange has limits (but how could it?), the last good Danzig song (second best song to scream from a speeding car) is straight badass, no chaser. Bet you never thought a Pilgrim's Progress quote could be totally Head Banging Hard Rocking Awesome, did you? You thought wrong

One last one. It's a cheat.

The only one? My blushes, B-Boy.

P.S. Apotheosis and Alfa nominated some great stuff too. Take a look after you're done being underwhelmed by the genius of WonderBriz. Which begs the question: where are the rest of you? There must have been some moments when you tore yourself away from sc-fi movies to enjoy some muic videos. No? You never did lose your virginity? No. Forget that. TMI.

P.P.S. Oh. Almost forgot. "The greatest song to scream along with at the top of your lungs from a speeding car"? Typical millennial hubris. Here's the real one. It comes with what the millennials don't have -- provenance. Actual speeders doing actual screaming from actual police during actual high-speed pursuits. First the song:

Now the provenance. In the form of just one anecdote from several available. Friend of mine in E-Type Jag grooving on Heartbreaker at night when the candy lights start stertoring themselves in the behind. Yeah, he's screaming the lyrics, and yeah, he has no intention of being caught. Ancient Brit electrics. You can hit a toggle arm on the steering column that turns on the headlights but no other lights, meaning you can turn OFF the taillights. At 125 mph. Country roads. Heartbreaker. For the cops. Clean getaway.

Whine at your daddy all you want. Just don't try to go all motorhead on real motorheads. Brizoni.

How I feel (if anybody cares)

I'm not jealous. Everything else is accurate.

ALONE. Porcelain isn't a woman. She's a state of mind. Where I am. In the back seat. Headed who knows where. Love this song. Eduardo knows. Lake suspects. Doing my best to keep on keeping on.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chaos, Order & Chaos

I was going to take credit for this. For New Jersey. We had as many
dead as NYC did. You don't hear us whining. But this memorial was
a gift from Russia. Maybe suffering is a lesson NYC is still learning.

HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL. Now you'll see what an unorganized post looks like. When everything's just a jumble, as so much of everyday life is.

Mrs. CP is out of the hospital. Hooray. She's feeling great. Unbelievable. She should be completely healed soon. Thank God. And all your prayers.

I missed 9/11 altogether. I plead extenuating circumstances, but Mrs. CP still remembered it in her comments to my last two posts. I'd like to take my cue from her and tie it all together with a post that's -- what's the word -- synergistic? Can't. It's been a scary week, regardless of how strongly she's rebounded. She's simply amused by what her specialist told me on the phone: he's baffled by what he describes as an "incredibly high pain threshhold." Where have I heard that before?

We got her home Saturday and my priority was to keep her still, plopped in front of a weekend of sports on TV. She wanted to ram around, of course, but I prevailed to some degree. We watched Ohio State beat Miami, which we watch because my mother and both her parents went to Ohio State, and this time Mrs. CP once referred to the Buckeyes on the field as "us." That was a first. Like many (including me), she's always been obscurely offended by the NFL players who introduce themselves as being from "THE Ohio State University." What's that all about? I have no idea. No one in my family ever did.

We watched part of the Notre Dame-Michigan game and she (an Irish Catholic) asked who I was rooting for this time. Which is a complicated question. If you're a Buckeye fan, they're two different faces of the same Satanic force. They're both as lucky as the two Satanic forces in the NFL -- the Steelers and the Cowboys -- critical officiating calls always seem to go their way. All are manifestations of "Damn Yankees," teams that have sold their souls to the devil to win games and championships. Which is why it's always fun to watch them play each other. The devil finally has to choose sides between his devoted disciples. Even though his real all-time favorite in college football is USC (called, delightfully, by an ex-NFL player on SportsTalk this week, the University of Spoiled Children).

You see. I told you you'd see disorganized rambling. Still, I'll plow onward. I root for both Michigan and Notre Dame when they play USC. What do I do when the Wolverines play the Fighting Irish? (For once, I can't promise that I'm going anywhere with this. Though there's a glimmer of hope I might...) It depends. When the game is billed as a showdown between the only college team that has its own network broadcast contract (w/NBC) against the ponderous plug-uglies of the Big Ten, I root for Michigan. When Michigan is roaring toward another unbeaten season, I root for Notre Dame. Saturday, I was rooting for Notre Dame. Interesting thing is, whoever I'm rooting for always loses. Didn't mind so much this time.

We also watched part of Alabama-Penn State. We both agreed ahead of time what would happen. It happened. Mrs. CP's loyalties normally radiate from the geographical center represented by the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. She roots for Temple, Villanova, Delaware, Navy (for reasons we'd have to kill you for if you knew) and Penn State (even, if she were candid, against the Buckeyes). Saturday, though, she enthusiastically endorsed my comparison between Penn State's lame tackling against Alabama and Ohio State's stickum-style takedowns of the speedsters from Miami. I was touched.

No. Actually, I was just relieved. At one point she turned to me, touched heads, and said, "Did you think on Wednesday night that this is what we'd be doing on Saturday afternoon?" No. "Of course," I said. Because I always know the right thing to say when I'm profoundly moved. Because writers are like that, never at a loss for words.

Then came Sunday, the NFL, and the basketball tournament final in Turkey. Which is when several other threads began to weave themselves into the mix. Before the games began, we watched SportsCenter and I heard the story of the 21-year-old American kid who dedicated his semi-final performance in the basketball game on 9/11 to the victims of 9/11. No explanation was offered. None was really needed. I just knew that I was going to have to watch the basketball final against Turkey in a newly anti-American Turkey in addition to the critical rubber match in the Phillies-Mets series, as well as all the NFL games on tap.

All this and take care of my convalescent wife too? No wonder I'm exhausted. How couldn't I root for the Giants when their team captain emerged from the tunnel wearing a NYFD helmet? Slowly, I began to realize that the NFL was determined to show its solidarity with 9/11 victims and American troops in combat overseas all day long. At various games, you could see troops in varying flavors of uniforms in privileged seats cheering their teams on.

I thought back to last year, when the Fox Sports Football hosts went to Afghanistan and spent a week with the troops. And I had the thought I had then: "I don't remember that they did this, or anything like it, during the Bush administration. When did it become politically correct for the NFL to finally support the troops?" Was the feeling there all along and only since Obama has it become acceptable to the Fox entertainment network? Or is this some kind of johnny-come-lately ratings conversion? But I remembered Terry Bradshaw's a capella rendition of "God Bless America" on his last night in Afghanistan (inspiring, genuine) and thought "It's all just been bottled up by asshole network executives. If anyone understands the need to fight back, to deal out hurts for hurts received for those who can't themselves fight back, it would be the NFL."

Which is when another thread snaked its way into the mix. At the end of the inaugural episode this week of Fox Football Sunday, Terry Bradshaw was given the final comment opportunity. He used it to blister Ben Roethlisberger, which he did without any mercy or pandering to NFL fans. He made it clear that if he were Steelers management, Roethlisberger would be gone from the Steelers without a second thought. Not just because he had let down his team by putting himself in a position to be suspended. But because what he did was wrong -- worst of all, the disrespect of women. Host Curt Menefee was clearly unprepared for the venom of Bradshaw's commentary. "Really?" he asked. Bradshaw turned to face him directly and said (paraphrasing), "If I were the president of the Steelers, Roethlisberger would never again put on a Steelers uniform."

I guess that's when it dawned on me that this whole weekend of sports was some kind of morality play being acted out on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, and maybe it wasn't all just a distraction from Mrs. CP's recent crisis but a kind of reciprocal and resonating symbolism. Writers are subject to delusions like that.

As I had promised myself, I actually watched segments of the basketball final. The Turks took an early lead. But the kid with the 9/11 complex kept making stupendous plays. The announcers began asking, simultaneously, What can't this kid do?, and What will happen if he gets into foul trouble or goes cold?, because clearly -- in a team stocked with NBA stars -- he's the leader, the star, and the playmaker. But every time I tuned back in, the lead was a little bigger, he was still in charge, and (in retrospect) inevitably, he taught the new Islamist Turkish regime a lesson. All their rote discipline could not compare to his brilliant individual talent and resolve.

Cut to the Eagles-Packers game. Which turned out to be a test of character for Eagles management at mutiple levels. One of which, ironically enough, was the exploitation of a high tolerance for pain. In the space of a few minutes, two indispensable Eagle players suffered evident concussions, the young quarterback and the middle linebacker; i.e., the quarterback of the defense. The latter instance was especially dramatic. He was hit hard during the play, got to his feet and crumbled to the turf like the victim of a prizefighter's knockout punch. Exactly like the victim of a knockout punch. He had to be helped off the field. Fox announcer Troy Aikman, himself a former all-pro football player, announced confidently that we wouldn't see him return to the game. After all, much of the NFL's new "sensitivity" about concussions derived from the fate of the Eagles's Brian Westbrook a year ago, when too early a return resulted in a second concussion that ended his season and probably his career as a star running back. The Eagles own website crows about the fact that the team is "in the forefront" of fighting the dangers to NFL players of concussions.

When does a mere sporting event become an allegory? Perhaps when it illustrates everything a blindly self-absorbed organization does to the people it uses and the people it purports to serve when its belief in its own intelligence and immunity from error override the most basic common sense.

Both players returned to action within a few plays of the head injuries they received, then were withdrawn from action in the second half.

My next few citations may seem trivial in the context of the national scene and the human condition, but, remember, I had Mrs. CP sitting next to me (when she wasn't charging around proving her invincibility), and I insist that they matter somehow because I am in that heightened state where tuning forks ring other tuning forks that ring in the same key.

I mean, here I am, trying to love the whole American universe given that the American medical care system had just given me my wife back, and what do I see? The sports MSM continues to praise and revere the Eagles organization as one of the best in the NFL. Consistent contenders, well run, smartly coached, smoothly responsive to the most loyal (jingoistic?) if demonized fans in the NFL. I mean the fan loyalty is always noted, but it's always counter-balanced by the same old images from the 1970s of Eagles fans throwing iceballs at Santa Claus. Why is this beginning to sound like some microcosm of the way the MSM characterizes conservatives?

Confession time. I'm the jingoist. Mrs. CP is the Tea Party when it comes to Eagles fans. I'll explain. After last night, I'd have fired Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid four times. One after the other. I'd have fired him for starting a young quarterback and sabotaging his first first-string start by not ever giving him a play he could easily accomplish and, worse, by interrupting his attempt to gain a rhythm by inserting Michael Vick into every series of plays, thus ensuring that the youngster never had more than two plays to secure a first down. (If that's your idea of offense, go buy yourself a CFL quarterback.)

I'd have fired him for returning two seriously concussed players back into the game within minutes of their injuries, in defiance of good medical practice and NFL bullshit. I'd have fired him for the completely idiotic fourth-and-one call when the game was actually within reach of winning. And I've have fired him for doing nothing -- via draft or trade -- to provide all his "offensive weapons" with the offensive line required to protect any quarterback, young or old. Here's what I'd do. I'd fire him for the first offense. Then I'd call him back in and fire him again for the second offense, and the third, and the fourth, etc.

Then, finally, I'd have fired him for the fifth and final time. Reason? Michael Vick.

Which is when all of this finally made sense and really did tie everything together (You knew I'd do it eventually, didn't you?)

Eagles management has become an elitist, semi-totalitarian organization. Why did the fans want an end to the Donovan McNabb regime, even if it meant some reduction of their short-term dreams? Because they were tired of excuses that always fell short. Eagles fans want ultimate victory, a Super Bowl trophy. They're tired of being told, "Stick with the current regime and maybe someday we'll come through for you. Trust us."

Along the way, the Eagles have learned to take Eagles fans for granted. The stands are always full, always will be full. The decision makers obviously ignore the desires and will of the fans. The Philadelphia Eagles are the Roman Senate of the City of Brotherly Love. We do what we do. Get used to it.

I know this will seem far-fetched. But I swear it's the truth. Andy Reid is Nancy Pelosi. Almost everybody in Philadelphia hates Andy Reid. But he can't be removed from office. He never answers questions. Whenever he sits before a microphone, his answers are gibberish or non-responsive. It's clear to everyone that the jailing of both his sons on drug and gun charges has somehow opened him up to Michael Vick as a reclamation project, which isn't what we hired him for. The Eagles belong to Philadelphia, not Andy Reid's personal guilt trip.

Leading us to our final metaphoric imagism of the day. Michael Vick nearly winning the game for the Eagles against the Green Bay Packers. As if in anticipation, Mrs. CP was rooting for the Packers throughout. I couldn't do that. (I hate the Packers.) Requiring Eagle fans to root for a guy they detest is the most blatant possible abuse of power. Akin to seconding our president's insistence that only tax cheat Timothy Geitner can rescue the economy, Right.

People in Philly love the Eagles. Now they're being asked to love Michael Vick, despite the fact that most of them despise and loathe him. But he has good game. When he's going good, he's mesmerizing. Even though you'd never invite him into your house. This morning, SportsTalk was dominated by the schism: I hate Michael Vick, I don't believe he's reformed in any way, I hate Michael Vick, and I was thrilled when he brought the Eagles back in an ultimately (definitely) losing effort.

I concede I felt the emotional pull. But I had Mrs. CP next to me. All of the Eagles' sins are of a piece. They're not separate, individual indictments. They're all the crimes of arrogant institutionalism. They're all crimes of exploitation. To some degree, all Americans are Mrs. CP -- incredibly high pain tolerance. We're told and told and told that we should accept what all the whining, barbaric minorities cannot accept. Painful abuse. If we don't, we're wanting. If they don't, we're somehow at fault. We're supposed to regard intimate, colossal, personal pain as an imperative to get along better with those who killed our loved ones. We're supposed to accept that management has decided to tolerate Michael Vick, despite his record of willful violence, cruelty, and disregard for those we love. Further, we're being put, from above, in the position of having to make the choice. With him, forgiving. Against him, intolerant.

I had Mrs. CP next to me. Which makes all the moral choices easy. Damn the Eagles for sending concussed players back onto the field. Damn the Eagles for setting up their own young heroes for failure. Damn the Eagles for asking us to root for an enemy of all humanity because he's beautiful to watch athletically.

It's our own human pain we're being asked to suppress, beyond all reasonable human toleration. Mrs. CP. fresh from the hospital, did me a moral favor. She was always a much bigger Eagles fan than I ever was. But she rooted throughout for the Green Bay Packers. Loudly. because they didn't have Michael Vick on their roster.

Sometimes what just looks bad is pure evil. It only takes a few percipients to inform the rest of us. Now I'm suitably informed. Again. As we all should be. Those of us who, as Americans, have a higher tolerance for hatred from others need to start asking why we're the only ones who are expected to put up with unending attempts at inflicted pain from others. Feel free to opine.

Why you all need to laud her rejuvenation.

Oh. Did I make sense at last? Chaos, order, chaos. Chaos when she went to the hospital. Order when she came home. Chaos when I contemplate the awful future that awaits us, in the Obama hatred of all things American. Islam isn't the enemy. Sure. Why we should all forget 9/11. No. Why we never will.

The upside. She's home, and all is right with the world.

Just a soupcon of sentiment.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Hospital

The term "intensive care" means care that's, er, intensive.

SAME PLACE, DIFFERENT PROGNOSIS. You're always of two minds about the place. It's where you were born, which is good. It's also where all your aged relatives die, which is not good. At least it's not good community PR. I was trying to explain that to Mrs. CP's daughter today, who is a lot like Mrs. CP, pretty much no-nonsense, answer-my-questions inquisitor material -- except that when I asked her what she thought of the hospital she said she didn't like how remote the doctors were. (Like me, she's never been sick herself.) They weren't Johnny-on-the-spot enough. Mrs. CP's sister (another long long hilarious story) just laughed and said that's how doctors are everywhere. When I met the doctor who mattered and started questioning him, he gave me the hairy eyeball and I told him he was lucky. The real interrogation expert was in the cafeteria having lunch. That's the first time he cracked a smile.I think he thought I was kidding. I wasn't. Afterwards, she was truly pissed that she'd missed her chance to turn him inside out.

So. What am I thinking as I watch the American healthcare system at work? I'm thinking, thank God this is happening now rather than a few years from now. Not to be negative about things, but we live in a depressed backwater of high unemployment and few good economic prospects. But we placed two 911 calls in less than 24 hours, from a definitely rural address, and both times the response was immediate, professional, impeccable. Cops arrived within five minutes, and they were straight out of central casting, polite, competent, considerate, and handsome to boot. The EMTs were just as good: friendly, to the point, swift, and deft in their tasks. The ambulance was top-notch, the siren pragmatically abrupt, and I prepared myself en route for the dismal wait in the emergency room. Which didn't occur. There was literally no wait. The nurses were kind and efficient. The paperwork was not like a Kafka nightmare, albeit somewhat repetitious, and there was never a moment when I didn't feel that my wife was being cared for. A doctor saw her within half an hour of her arrival, fully briefed by the background the nurses had compiled.

This is America. Still. Thank God. Home of the very best medical care in the world. They may have performed one test procedure too many, but they also whisked her within two hours to an ICU facility equipped with all the best stuff. A large private single room, a knowledgeable and compassionate nurse who gave me her phone number and answered my call personally (and jovially) at 3 am.

This is the system that's so broken we need a federal government takeover? My wife didn't have her purse with her (my fault) and hence not her insurance card. They used mine instead. No problem. Meanwhile, everything clean, everything working, everyone working.

Yeah, it's the hospital where both my grandfathers died, my mother died, and countless other icons of my youth died. But they were old. They were dying. My wife, I think, they are going to keep alive. Because this is America. Home of the best damn medical care in the world.

Until 2014.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Right Wing Network

B-O-O-O-RING. Don't know what to make of this. Frankly, it makes me uneasy, despite the clever video intro by Kelsey Grammer.

btw, how many of you are familiar with the unbelievably tragic life this Juilliard alum has lived?

Grammer's family life has been plagued by tragedies. In 1968, when Grammer was thirteen years old, his father, whom he had seen only twice since his parents' divorce, was shot and killed on the front lawn of his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands. In 1975, his younger sister, Karen, was raped and murdered after being abducted outside a Red Lobster restaurant in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where her boyfriend worked. In 1980, his fraternal twin half-brothers were killed in a freak scuba diving accident. Grammer has sworn to prevent his sister's murderer, Freddie Lee Glenn, from being paroled in July 2009, Glenn was denied parole at least in part due to a letter Grammer submitted to the parole board.

I don't know how and why he's still standing. Shouldn't he be curled up in a fetal ball in the corner demanding compensation from the government? Oh. That's right. He's a conservative.

Still. I don't think most of us right-wingers want a right wing network. We want entertainment that doesn't amount to left wing propaganda, yes, but that's a far cry from wanting our own entertainment propaganda. In other words, I think our preference would be for entertainment that seeks to entertain, not advocate, proselytize, or undermine our personal values. I think that preference would be called, "Just leave politics out of it."

Which can't really be accomplished by a single cable network, can it? And I dread what might be on such a network. Things I don't want to see, especially if they're being touted as things us right wingers want to see:

- Andy of Mayberry reruns
- Left Behind, Parts I through V (for 'vapid')
- Gunsmoke reruns (or anything that's presently boring people at TVLand)
- Firing Line reruns (they looked like reruns the first time around)
- Cspan book lectures by National Review editors
- Wholesome old movies
- Syndicated old folks series like Murder She Wrote, Diagnosis: Murder, and Barnaby Jones. Yes, they're inoffensive; they're also deadly dull.
- Bleeped, sanitized versions of anything good from HBO or SHO.
- Anything that's supposed to be good for us (the same way we feel about left-wing stuff that's supposed to be good for us.)
- Anything at all about Noah's Ark. (STOP IT. And that goes for the Discovery Channel too.)
- Any sort of talk show or something featuring Pat Sajak. (yeah, he's a conservative. So f'ing what?)
- Anything whatever about healing, End of Days, the Rapture, or born-again celebrities.
- Any variation on Jon Stewart's or Stephen Colbert's political comedy. Your're not good at it. Don't do it. I'm begging you.
- Anything the Media Research Center would approve of. Nice people but sheesh.

I guess you've already figured out we won't be watching this network. Neither will anyone else. It's not what conservatives have in mind. All it does is make more jokes for lefty comedians who need to feed their superiority complex.

Truthfully, I haven't even looked at their contemplated programming. Not interested. If I've missed something, let me know.

Prayers Help.

BETTER BY HALF. I'm pretending that it's nothing serious. Responding to commenters and so forth. But the truth is, I'm a nervous wreck. Mrs. CP is in the hospital tonight. In ICU. Precautionary, they say. But I had to call 911, and we went there in an ambulance. They turned on the siren at intersections.

So I can't keep on pretending that it's not serious. She's the best person I know. If I could trade places with her, I'd do it without a second thought. So I'm asking for the prayers of those who say prayers. However awful you think I am, that's how good she is. Please include her in your communications with the Almighty.

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