September 2015

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The Reigning Champion

The Reigning Champion

We acquired Eloise literally by accident. We saw her on the side of what passes for a highway in our rural county, huddled up against a guardrail fence. Stopped the car, tried to approach her, and she scampered across the road into the path of an SUV that clipped her with a front tire. We scooped her up, bleeding and unhappy and tried to figure where to take her. It was a Sunday. How we found the vet we’ve been taking all the dogs and cats to ever since.

They patched her up. A pug as victim of an SUV isn’t supposed to be so lucky. But Eloise (yes, we named her for the imp of the Plaza Hotel) has always been lucky. No broken bones, a few scrapes and stitches and she was right as rain.

Obviously, we waited out the necessary time to claim her, paid the bill(!) and took her home. All of this exposition is by way of explaining that what we knew about pugs was zero. Greyhounds, deerhounds, terriers, shepherds, okay. Pugs? WTF.

We dutifully watched Animal Planet specials about pugs. We learned that the masters are the pugs and the pets are the ones who pay the bills. They get to do whatever they want, eat whatever they want, and generally rule the roost. We looked at one another. Surely not?

Well, not in our house anyway. Eloise learned her first word, which was No. We didn’t give her junk food, only the kibble the greyhounds got. Thought we were doing good. Took her to the vet a month after her accident and got a grave lecture from the senior medico about her weight. Too much, he said. At least two pounds overweight. He shook his head at us. We didn’t understand. Until we started seeing pictures like these.





Even the pug champions at Westminster look fat. Too many cupcakes and bacon sandwiches.

Eloise, however, is now eleven or twelve and energetic as a puppy, slim as Audrey Hepburn, and cuter than her namesake. The vet claims she has some arthritis, but you sure couldn’t prove it by us.

We invite all the other pug owners out there to join in this year’s competition for the title of World’s Fittest Pug. It belongs to Eloise by default for now, but we’d love to see more of these guys live longer and zestier lives.

Style matters too.

Style matters too.

Politicians like this dipshit have always used soldiers like pawns in a horribly played game of chess. Casualties? Millions.

Charge of the Light Brigade

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

When can their glory fade? When leaders discard their legacy and memory like a styrofoam cup.

Behold. Evil incarnate. Her name is Sacchetti. Her pasta devours men's souls.

Behold. Evil incarnate. Her name is Sacchetti. Her pasta devours men’s souls.

I just ordered an order of this. Who knows what will become of my mortal soul but I was seduced by the bikini panties, er, the beautiful menu description.

Tuscan. Sacchetti pasta served in a butter and parmigiano sauce with broccoli florets and chicken breast strips.

Sounded exquisite to a guy whose last meal was a politically incorrect hotdog. But belatedly I looked up sacchetti pasta. Realizing way too late that it’s a demonic cult with no good outcomes.

Forget the psychology myth called pareidolia. Can you see that evil litter bugger glaring at from up top?

Forget the psychology myth called pareidolia. Can you see all those evil little buggers glaring at you from the plate? Forget gremlins. We’re talking gargoyles here.

No, it’s not an accident. Look at this one.

Demons, evil gnomes, and a fleet of  bright red vagina dentatas. Scareeee.

Demons, evil gnomes, and a fleet of bright red vagina dentatas. Scareeee.

Prefer closeups? Don’t.

The monstrous gnome entity that will eat your soul.

The monstrous gnome entity that will eat your soul.

What awaits. The Ninth Circle of Hell.

Disgusting and horrifying.

Disgusting and horrifying.

On the other hand, I could swear she winked at me.

Bon appetit. See you on the other side. I hope.

Bon appetit. See you on the other side. I hope.

So what are you doing with YOUR Tuesday afternoon. It is Tuesday, right?

There is No Security. I am and will always be Instapunk. Before I was Harry.

I have been playing around with Facebook for a few months now. In which time I have learned a lot about the social network phenomenon.

I spent ten years in the blog universe, which was a lot like Fight Club, bruising battles in the comment sections, no quarter asked or given. Lots of insults, bad language, idiots, and the occasional bright light that makes it all worthwhile. But the world changes on a dime these days. And so it has once again.

The Facebook universe is not centered as blogs were on ideas. It’s all about me, me, me, and the poses I can assume to make me look smart, important, or more attractive than I actually am. So there are lots of reposts of the posts of others, which endow me with a noblesse and erudition I’ve done nothing to prove.

That’s why I’ve adventured into the realm of comment threads, which look similar to blog comment threads but are markedly different.

Number One rule of FB comment threads. Do not take issue with the leading comment offered by the poster. No matter how logical your disagreement, how witty, how charitable, how polite, all disagreement with the poster and his or her “friends” will immediately be construed as personal and a signal of the absolute evil your disagreement represents. Fail to go away when the poster and his friends give you warning of your transgression, and the name callers appear at once to characterize your evil, stupid, idiot lifestyle, and threaten you as if you were on the doorstep with a shotgun.

I used plenty of bad language at Instapunk. See for yourself. Had plenty of bad language used on me.

Never in ten years banned but two. But what I find at Facebook is ever so much more offensive than what I’ve experienced in blogging. (With many notable exceptions by the way.) Nothing bruising about FB comments. Just lots and lots of fancied bruises by people who never learned to defend themselves with words. These are people who don’t know the difference between disagreement and ad hominem assaults which are to be countered immediately by nuclear means or inferences that there’s something about you which no good person could ever countenance.

Facebook is a world of thin-skinned narcissists, poseurs, and preening fakers. One who declares himself a poet and isn’t. One who declares himself a cultural critic and shows no sign of having noticed anything prior to his recent date of birth. One who declares his political acuity and has never studied history prior to the 21st century. To oppose such people instantly inspires them to accuse the skeptic of everything wrong with themselves. Everything is personal, and you are every wrong name in the book. Everything they say in their rants is self revelation. And none of them has anything remotely resembling a sense of humor. The ultimate victory of political correctness. Even the self-appointed “Defenders of the Faith” can’t recognize a joke without an attached emoticon.

I haven’t used bad language in Facebook comments. But I have an inner clock that tells me with startling accuracy how quickly some millennial will run out of intellectual steam and start attacking me with obscenities.

But this isn’t just about millennials. It’s about people of all ages. Facebook is the woodwork the rest of the people crawled out of. They want approval. Of their faces, families, fatuities, food, and faux personae.

Maybe I won’t make more comments, hurt more feelings, deflate more inflated egos. But maybe I will.

For I am Instapunk, regardless of the terrain. Real life or video game version of reality, I am Instapunk. Which I, incidentally, can prove into the millions of words. As I said. No Security.

Well, it’s a choice don’t you know. If you don’t like that message, here’s the alternative.

Here endeth the lesson.


P.S. And I forgot. They always always always have to have the last word. As if that could make them somehow smart. Ignore them.

Surprise. I win.

This could have been a long and amusing story. But we’re both in bad moods today, so it won’t be long or engaging. It’s going to be..

The Case of the Hotdog Who Got Out of Line

The name that’s been changed in this case belonged to a hotdog. Not a hit and run victim but one bitten in half and left to suffer. Hotdogs. They come in all sizes and you can bedrape them with all kinds of condiments, from foul on down. But when does it become too much to take?

The dog is born free, then has the right to choose.

The dog is born free, then has the right to choose.

What one dog thought anyway. How does the justice system make a determination?

Got a sub today. We split it twice. I was still hungry. The wife said eat the rest of the hotdogs we ordered yesterday. They were foot longs. Mine had fried onions and sauce. Hers has mustard, relish and raw onion. No, I told her. You put funny stuff on yours. You could scrape it off, she said. (Wife interrupts) I said no such thing.

Designed to let the husband resume the narrative. It always works.

Designed to let the husband resume the narrative. It always works.

We went looking. Why we called you, sir. We think the dog was insulted by talk of being scraped off and replaced with fried onions and some mysterious sauce. And there was also talk of sliding a multi-condiment-flavor ring up his whole length, to make sure he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference anymore. Unspeakable cruelty. Can you help us, Sergeant?

We, or should I say the LAPD, got her on multiple charges of transcondimentalphobia. Additional charges involved barbecue sauce, peppers, tobasco, Dijon, and three felony counts of ketchup, sauerkraut, and chili. All applied by the defendant in front of hundreds of witnesses at Atlanta Braves baseball games. She was tried and convicted in a Los Angeles Kangaroo Court and will serve a life sentence or three years, whichever is shorter.


Jurors interviewed after the fact didn’t care the evidence didn’t place her at the scene of the crime. As one of them put it, “wherever she is, that’s the scene of the crime.”


I think this case is closed.

Thank you, ma'am.

Thank you, ma’am.

Everyone please join us in the fight against TCDP. Otherwise an innocent millionairess could spend the rest of her life in prison. If the Hebrew Nationals don’t get her first.

Got the hands from God-and the ring from his Masonic grandfather.

Hands from God — and the ring from my Masonic grandfather, who was a mason in the truest sense.

You get this Ring, you know what happens? Everybody in the U.K. thinks you know everything about everything. Because the Scottish Freemasons have been in charge of everything since the Templars wigged out.

All true. I have this ring from my incredibly high ranking Masonic grandfather. His most important bequest to me. Result? I know everything about the most occult mysteries in history. I know what happened to the Templars and what they did with their treasures. I know what’s hidden in Rosslyn Chapel. I know where and what the Holy Grail is. I know all about the Shroud of Turin. I know all about what’s buried at Oak Island. And Snake Island. I even know who killed the Kennedys and why. The Ring gives me this knowledge. I’m just not allowed to ask or to tell.

But I’m a little hard up cash-wise right now. You know what that’s like, right?


Afraid of the Blood Moon? Be very afraid of Mars. But lest you be frightened, he can be killed. Or atl least0Ut of sorts by his mother.

Afraid of the Blood Moon? Be very afraid of Mars. But lest you be frightened, he can be killed. Or at least put out of sorts by his mother. She was a killer.

From The Iliad.

Odd. The mother of Ares (aka Mars) was Aphrodite. She was a ferocious mother of Paris. Not/9 much of Ares. Paris was pretty. Ares was a thug. Just saying.

Odd. The mother of Ares (aka Mars) was Aphrodite. She was a ferocious mother of Paris. Not much of Ares. Paris was pretty. Ares was a thug. Just saying.

“But the moment Ares, bane of the living, glimpsed Diomedes, he left vast Periphas where he had killed him, and headed straight for the horse-tamer. When they were at close quarters, Ares thrust with his bronze spear over the reins and yoke, at Diomedes, eager to strike him dead: but bright-eyed Athene caught the spear in her hand, and drove it above the chariot to spend its force in the air.

“Now, Diomedes, of the loud war-cry, drove his bronze-spear at Ares, and Pallas Athene drove it home into the lower belly, where he wore a defensive apron. There the thrust landed, tearing the flesh, and Diomedes wrenched it free again. Then brazen Ares bellowed as loud as ten thousand warriors shout in battle, when they meet in the war-god’s shadow. The Greeks and Trojans trembled with fear at insatiable Ares’ cry.

“Like the dark column that whirls from the cloud when a tornado forms in heated air, so brazen Ares seemed to Diomedes, as he sped through the sky to high heaven. Swiftly he reached the gods’ home on steep Olympus, and sat down at Zeus’ side, in anguish. Ares showed Zeus the divine ichor flowing from the wound, and spoke in a plaintive voice: ‘Father Zeus, does it not stir your indignation to see all this violence? We gods always suffer cruelly at each other’s hands when we show mortals favour. We are all at odds with you because you cursed the world with that mad daughter of yours who is ever bent on lawlessness. The rest of us Olympians obey you and bow to you, but you say and do nothing to stop her antics, you condone them rather, simply because this girl who wreaks havoc is yours.

“Now she spurs on foolhardy Diomedes to vent his anger on us immortals. First in a close encounter he wounded Aphrodite on the wrist then he ran at me like a very demon. Quick on my feet, I sprang away, or I would have suffered there for ages among the grisly dead, or been crippled by his spear-blows.

“Zeus, the Cloud-gatherer, turned on him angrily: ‘Don’t come here to whine, you backslider. Strife, conflict, and war are all you care for, so much so that I loathe you more than all the other Olympians. You share your mother Hera’s intolerable, headstrong spirit; she too will scarcely obey my word. I suspect she prompted this and caused your wound. Yet as my offspring I’ll not let you suffer, since it was to me she bore you, though if any other god had fathered so violent a son, you’d have been ranked below the sons of Uranus, long ago.’

“So saying, he ordered Paeon to heal him, by spreading soothing ointment on the wound, for Ares was no mortal. He healed the fierce god as swiftly as fig-juice thickens milk that curdles when stirred. Then Hebe bathed him, and dressed him in fine clothes, and he sat down again by Zeus’ side, in all his former glory.

“Meanwhile Hera of Argos and Alalcomenean Athene returned to great Zeus’ palace, having forced Ares, bane of the living, to end his murderous progress.”

I guess we already had this Pope Imperator this weekend. What if the thing we’re not afraid of is the blood moon but the Bringer of War, a far harsher red thing in the sky?

Yeah. Well, in that case, we might have to deal with something far more sinister. There was a Trinity in the New Testament. Who’s to say the Antichrist isn’t also a Trinity?

The Pope, the President, and the Persian Caliph.

Some of us had it sussed out long long ago.

Because we are always the ones who win in the end, even in Greek mythology.

The blood of Ares. We call that armed for life.

Once in a blood moon we can do this.

Once in a blood moon we can do this. A Mars Event might be something different.

Talking about what? This weekend we saw all of the football teams we follow win. This is a good omen. All the red teams won, distinct sign of the blood moon: Ohio State, Harvard, Rutgers, and (blessedly) 3-0 Temple had a bye week.btw, just TAKE THIS LINK, which is about more than Harvard and Ohio State. It’s about the huge fun of the Mars Event.

Fate is destiny. Or something like. You&'d have to be Harvard or Ohio State or Temple to understand that.

Fate is destiny. Or vice versa. Something like karma. Cornell beat Ohio State the two times they played. Not this weekend. You’d have to be Harvard, Ohio State or Temple to understand that. I went to Cornell for a bit. Doesn’t count in this algorithm.

Obviously it’s time for a Roman Imperial March.

Unless it’s time for a different kind of March altogether.

And a chorale to make it all stick.

Sorry. Red won yesterday. Harvard. Ohio State, and Temple at rest. Hear the drum.

Life is getting worse on all of us, but we can still count on the verities, right?

Whoever said we can’t make it better? Or should we?

Exciting and dramatic race.

Exciting and dramatic race.

I wasn’t able to watch final qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix Japan because it was aired here at 2 am. But I scrounged what I could from the Internet, like the fact that Niki Rosberg was on the pole.

The race was scheduled to begin at 1 am last night, so I turned in at midnight and had a fine night’s sleep.

Happily, this morning I was able to confirm that my predictions for the top five finishers were absolutely correct.

1. Lewis Hamilton
2. Niki Rosberg
3. Sebastian Vettel
4. Daikon men
5. Bottarga
6. Thru 20. Everybody else.

Proof? Proof.


These two women have killed more people than Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot combined. They’re on the hook for about a half billion deaths in the twentieth century.

Margaret Sanger and Rachel Carson. Oddly enough, they were both prim and sexless. Like the feminists of today.

Memorial Hall.

Memorial Hall.

Trying to decide if this Harvard building is as incredibly ugly as the Yale excrescence you posted in front of which everyone was supposed to be so good looking.

Yeah. Well, it is Harvard after all. Hog warts comes to mind. But nothing in New Haven.

Yeah. Well, it’s Harvard. Hogwarts comes to mind. But nothing in New Haven.

10,000 Men of Harvard want Victory today.

When you’re running headlong from the news, and every media voice is biased, pretending, lying, or exploiting ballooning scandals, you wind up watching too much Netflix. I spent five years deriding Blue Bloods because of the sepulchral Tom Selleck they show in the promos. Halfway through Season 1 now. And loving it. See what I mean?

Worst thing about binge watching? The fear you’ll run out of things to watch that won’t assault your religion, your politics, or your person. Why, maybe, you start taking the things you like and imagine them coupling up with other things you like or, more deliciously, things you definitely do not like. The inspiration for this post. Ways the streaming universe could keep good things going, and even a few bad things by way of cross pollination. This is a start. Feel free to join in. (On all photos, click if you want bigger.)

M. Poirot and Miss Fisher

Two delightful period series currently running on Netflix. Cars, clothes, manners, all delightful. Problem? Miss Fisher is in 1920s Australia, and Hercule Poirot is in 1930s Britain. No problem. Before he came to London, Poirot spent a few years in Australia, where he teemed up with the free spirited Miss Fisher, rich, somewhat promiscuous, and always equipped with a golden revolver in her garter belt. If you’ve ever wondered about Poirot’s sexual orientation, which you shouldn’t, this series will lay all your doubts to rest. Miss Fisher doesn’t care what you look like. She knows as much about little gray cells as anybody. And she loves them.

Monsieur Hercule Poirot

Monsieur Hercule Poirot


Reid and Eppes, Private Eyes

TV loves geniuses. Numb3rs ran for six years, and Criminal Minds is coming up on a decade of gore and lame voiceover quotes and Gulfstream getaways while the devastated parents are burying their dead. Numb3rs had Charlie Eppes, who knows more math than anybody ever thought of. Criminal Minds has Spencer Reid, who has two or four Phd’s in every subject any university ever endowed a chair for. Isn’t it time to put them together?

So Charlie gets tired of being second fiddle to his FBI brother, and Spence gets tired of being bullied by Shemar Moore. They meet at a math symposium and decide to become the world’s smartest private eyes. After all, Spence knows how to use a gun — or at least wear one on his hip as convincingly as any other supermodel — and they both know how to use phones and computers, and any day now one of them will qualify for a driver’s license. Charlie (meaning David Krumholtz) is going to have to lose some weight for this part, maybe all of the eighty pounds he gained after Numbers got cancelled, but we at the Instapunk Network are confident he can do it. Show should be gangbusters. Providing they both learn the difference between tai chi and Krav Maga.

The genius.

The genius.

The other genius

The other genius

Star Trek Who?

Two of the greatest sci-fi franchises ever (barring the execrable Star Wars nonsense), it’s absolutely time to bring these two together, and who cares in what time in particular? So Kirk is on the bridge and Spock is practicing his eyebrow raising and then lieutenantess Sulu sounds the alarm that a large red British phone booth is dead ahead. Kirk flings the blonde yeoman from his lap and orders every crewman in a red shirt to be prepared to die in the incipient collision. Excited yet?

Cut to a moment later when the incredibly expansive interior of the Tardis is stretched to the max by a complete starship. That’s when Doctor Who and Captain Kirk exchange their first words.

“You’re telling me my starship is in a phone booth?”

“That would appear to be so.”

“I could have used you back at the academy when we were trying to put eighteen cheerleaders in a phone booth.”

“Pleased to be of assistance.”

“Who are you?”


A good long season of quality TV will surely ensue.


CSI Wyoming

Picture this. An old school cowboy sheriff whose idea of forensics is holstering his gun after shooting a suspect and then hoisting a few with his Injun (excuse me, Native American) co-conspirator in breaking all three of the laws on the Wyoming books, happens upon a bespectacled monk in the desert studying bugs. His name is Grissom. He is insane. But there’s chemistry. And over the course of a season, Grissom gradually teaches Long mire that not every death in the county is either by gunfire or natural causes. Several words are spoken in each episode. Lou Diamond Phillips seems to understand Grissom, but he doesn’t speak any of the words that are spoken. We are riveted because the words that are spoken are mostly spoken by Deputy Katee Sackhoff.

The old fashioned sheriff.

The old fashioned sheriff.

The new age squatter in the assert.

The new age squatter in the desert.

Wyoming's Finest

Wyoming’s Finest

Read her bio here. Saint Philomena. You think you have a cross to bear? Think again. In the age of New Media you can have fame and acclaim even after you’ve lost your head.

The very estimable Debra Burlingame lived in New York for 27 years. She hates Donald Trump, which is her right. The other day she linked to a 1988 documentary about him and declared that anyone who saw it would realize that nothing more need be said. This led to the following exchange between us.

RL: Sorry. Documentaries always come with a point of view. They’re all a function of EDITING to a particular point of view. You haven’t see hagiographic documentaries about Hillary? The “nothing more needs to be said” close rings kind of hollow in this context. You made up your mind long ago.

P.S. 1988? 27 years ago? 27 years before Reagan won the presidency, he was a Democrat or had been recently. He had been an FDR Supporter and president of the Screen Actors Guild, a union.

DEBRA: I lived in New York City for 27 years, when all this was happening. I remember it. There are court documents and press on this. Roy Cohn, the chief of Trump’s army of lawyers, was a brilliant but sleezy. This documentary covers stuff Trump himself cops to and insists he’s proud of. For me, it shows his character and values, beyond the bottom line of his string of business successes and failures.

If you knew more about Ronald Reagan, you’d know that his biography is the story of how his political philosophy evolved, not because of opportunity, but because of his nature to find and do the right thing. But everything he did was governed by and grounded in his principles and his political philosophy.

DEBRA: Thanks, Robert, for catching my spelling error.

Now. Here’s what’s interesting. I responded at some length to her last major comment. That response no longer exists on her post. Gone. Fortunately, I have a very good memory for what I write and the erased comment is very close to this.

RL: If I knew more about Ronald Reagan? Don’t insult me. I watched the first television broadcast of The Speech. I followed his career closely. I saw him in person during the years he was considered a has-been. I came away convinced of his greatness long before he won the nomination.

You hate Trump. Fine. (Did you mean Roy Cohen or Roy Cohn? Big difference. I’d have hired Roy Cohn too.) But what’s the point of your ire?

So what if he’s a circus ringmaster. If he’s as bad and low of character as you say, he will flame out long before the nomination. Why the paranoia? I’m not a Trump supporter. In the words of John Nolte, I’m a Trump supporter-supporter. All the a Trump haters seem disinclined to recognize that they are insulting millions of people in flyover country who have seen their elected representatives ignore them in favor of lobbyists who will give them huge jobs after they’re voted out of office. That’s Trump’s appeal. Despising the people who support him is a sign of tunnel vision, focused on proving your superiority to the poor dopes who are legitimately angry about the breakdown in the contract between the electorate and their representatives.

You hate him. You hate him. You hate him. And by inference, you despise the people who support him. This has been your whole message for months. In the meantime what has he done? He’s drawn 25 million viewers to the first two Republican debates. Without him, no one would have seen your personal favorite candidate. He’s done an enormous service to the Republican Party and the conservative cause. Why the vitriol? Who does it help? Not me. And, I suspect, not you either.

With all due respect, new media maven, Debra Burlingame. If you deliberately deleted my comment, (proof being that your thanks for my spelling correction refers to nothing in your comment thread), I can no longer call you Saint Debra. Sorry.

Here endeth the epistle.

The Steelers would be terrified of The Ten.

The Steelers would be terrified of The Ten.

From a manuscript you’ll get to see later, an exegesis on a screenplay I wrote with a great friend in 1980, meaning 35 years ago.

Punk Monks

From 1978 to 1982, I lived mostly in Philadelphia. It was not a particularly prosperous time for me. This was no one’s fault but my own. I had fallen off the curve of conventional career pursuits, in large part because I wanted to preserve my concentration for writing, although I wasn’t making satisfactory progress there, either. My sense of being out of tune with the literary establishment was so extreme that I couldn’t bring myself even to submit the few stories I had finished to the “little magazines”. Instead I alternated between experimentation and self-absorbed narratives of a fantastic nature.

For the better part of a year, I worked with a collaborator on a screenplay called “Norman Rules”, which I had originally conceived as a novel. As I worked on it, the material became more and more insistent about being a movie rather than a book because its most powerful elements were visual. It employed a premise that still intrigues me, although I have never been able to solve some basic problems that emerged in the writing. I mention it here because “Norman Rules” was the vehicle that surfaced my interest in punks, which I had seen during visits to South Street but had taken little conscious note of until they muscled their way into the plotline of my story.

It was a bizarre story to begin with. Raised an Episcopalian, I knew that it was Henry VIII who, in order to consolidate his political power over the infant Church of England, had abolished the monasteries in that country. For satirical purposes, I chose to repeal this historic event, which enables me to create an alternate time present in which the sixties revolution manifested itself as “Reformation II”. The centers of protest and violence were thus not universities but monasteries, and the catalyst for upheaval was not the Vietnam War but a mysterious monastic ritual that was identified in the minds of protester with the term “Norman Rules”.

Reformation II was more visibly successful than the sixties revolution, and the major victim of its success was my stand-in for the Church of England, The Anglo-Orthodox Protestant Church. The action of the movie takes place in an Anglo-Orthodox monastery about fifteen years after Reformation II.
The protagonist is a young novice named John who, having failed to be accepted at a seminary, has been assigned to take orders at the Monastery of Saint Ralph.

It has been a dozen years [now now 25 years] since I last worked on “Norman Rules”, but the monastery that constitutes its setting seems today to have anticipated the phenomenon called Political Correctness by about ten years. At St. Ralph’s, the rotten heart of the overturned establishment, the driving principle is atonement for past oppressions. Still a male-only institution, the monastery has renounced its heritage of male power by adopting feminine titles. Thus, the monks call each other not brother, but sister, and the head monk holds the title of Mother Superior. St. Ralph, like all the saints of the reformed church, is alive and well – a fussy transvestite who moves uneasily in an ecumenical circle of jet set “saints”.

The institution that bears his name is a plastic bubble rising out of the wasteland of an inner city ghetto. For security reasons, the building has no windows, and the only access to its interior is via subway. It is here that “Sister John” arrives and after a humiliating orientation by Mother Clive, is assigned to the St. Ralph’s football team.

Sister John soon learns that in the scheme of things at St. Ralph’s, a football player is about as low as one can get. The monastery is arranged in a hierarchy consisting of three “sections”. The elite of St. Ralphs belong to Enlightenment Section, in which capacity they have light managerial duties and plenty of free time for hobbies like shopping in the monastery mall, writing and painting, and virtually nonstop cocktail parties. The revenue-producing contingent at St. Ralph’s is the Service Section, which (for a healthy commission) dispenses federal monies to the poor and needy of the city, who enter and depart the vast Service Section offices in cattle-car-like subway trains. The bottom rung of the monastery is Atonement Section, which is the repository for all monks deemed unorthodox in their views, including a stubborn remnant of pre-Reformation monks who are known as The Ten. Having taken a vow of silence in resistance to the new order, The Ten continue to be a disturbing presence even though they meekly perform their assigned duties, which are principally janitorial. In fact, the value of Atonement Section lies in its ability to provide a resource for the work that no one else wants to do, including kitchen duty, cleaning, laundry, and maintenance. Football is the worst duty of all, because the permanent state of penance in which the Anglo-Orthodox Church resides requires that its football teams lose every game played against other denominations. Indeed, the rules of the game are continuously revised to ensure that defeat is achieved, even when St. Ralph’s plays against convents of nuns.

What Sister John does not know is that he has been brought to St. Ralph’s to change this state of affairs. The agent of change is Mother Clive’s assistant, Sister Gregory, an enigmatic monk who once played a leading role in the Reformation but then fell out of favor and disappeared. Upon his return, he speedily acquired power through his willingness and capacity to take on the more onerous duties of Mother Clive. One of Sister Gregory’s first initiatives is to recruit new football players, ostensibly to boost gate receipts and thus alleviate the mounting deficit of the monastery, but in reality because he seeks to use football as a means of forever destroying St. Ralph’s and the Anglo-Orthodox Church.

This was the premise I started with. The intention was satirical comedy – highlighted by the abundant visual irony of the monastery and its activities. Inside this opaque bubble, the building was a ludicrous parody of monasteries, featuring linoleum stonework, backlit plastic stained glass, Styrofoam pillars and buttresses, cartoonish chapel frescoes, and a monstrous mall offering Adidas sandals, designer cassocks (for Enlightenment Section only), and as many junk food and gin joints as a modern monk could want.

The plot was to center on Sister John, the gifted football player who builds a winning team and feverish romance with Saint Jenny the rock star. Due to the maneuverings of Sister Gregory, the team finally has to play its championship game under “Norman Rules”, which no one knows anything about but The Ten. And Norman Rules, it turns out, are a barbaric throwback to medieval combat, offering up the prospect of football to the death for the ultimate prize – The Holy Grail.

In the course of drafting the screenplay, however, two things happened. First, Sister Gregory refused to remain in his assigned place, somewhat behind the scenes, as a sinister but mysterious catalyst for the hero’s coming of age. Instead, he roared out of the wings as a character of formidable stature and complexity, barred from greatness only by his inability to find a repository for his frustrated faith. He dwarfed the character of Sister John and transformed the Comedy of St. Ralph’s into the Tragedy of Sister Gregory. This put far more pressure on the climactic game than the original premise seemed able to bear. The last act of a comedy could benefit from a game of football played in medieval armor, but the catastrophe of a tragedy would be spayed by it. I never did figure out how to solve this problem. [Well, I did but had moved on by then, blast it.]

The second unexpected development was that St. Ralph’s, conceived as a holding tank for post-sixties Baby Boomers, began to fill up with “punk monks”. They loitered in the great mall, they shot-up heroin on the platform of the “Monastery Station” subway stop, and they committed acts of vandalism and personal violence within the corridors and shops of St. Ralph’s. And then Sister Gregory began drafting them for the football team, a doomed gang of savages who were destined to become animal sacrifices in the concluding holocaust of Norman Rules.

The punks seemed to be dragging the real world and its consequences inside the plastic walls of St. Ralph’s. They were the next step, the next rung down in the descent of man being enacted within the monastery. Essentially without lines of dialogue, they had changed the whole flavor of the work, and then, in the final game, it was they who rallied most strongly to the aid of Sister John and The Ten, giving up their lives to win The Holy Grail.

I liked Gregory far too much to reduce his stature and force-fit him into a comedy. And I was curious about the punk monks. I liked them too. They were the ones who seemed most at home in my absurd climax, safety pins, razor blades, tattoos, and mohawks went with armor and battle axes just fine. Who more likely to fight bravely to the death than those who already had nothing left to lose? They’d lost everything before they even knew there was anything worth winning. But that’s where their hardness came from, their very ignorance of the hopelessness of the situation. They knew so little that they had no prudence, no respect, no fear – only rage and a willingness to go.

This, along with The Parade of Volumes, is the source of the Punk Writing Movement.

Part of a much larger manuscript called “Inside the Boomer Bible”. Available soon.

Good friend posted a poem about all this:

Robert, a happy one for you. Up with that Scotch in yer glass. And also for you:

Birthdays: false writs on the back of a beast
With the pen in his teeth. Misconsumptive of time–
Outrageous and cornered, spilling ink that won’t fade–
He bleeds till the years’ indivisions have fallen
To his slashes and strokes, both fine and opaque.

Doeci by scrivened apocryphal priests
Are the marks he with- drew on the world. Ready-made
Orders and feasts of the ruling sublime
Will be dying or dead at his wake.

Sometimes you inspire, however briefly.

A companion piece to

Wait. We're getting to the good stuff.

Wait. We’re getting to the good stuff.

From Breitbart:

Two topless feminists have stormed the stage at a Muslim conference in France. The activists, from hard-line feminist outfit Femen jumped on stage, with “Nobody makes me submit” scrawled across their bare chests. The most prominent protester shouted, “Nobody makes me submit, me nobody owns me, I’m my own prophet!” before being dragged and kicked off the stage by angered Muslims.

Thing is, Femen protests everything, and it’s hard to resist the notion that they just want to show their tits in public. The evidence from all over the world:

I think the Tour de France is sexist.

I think the Tour de France is sexist.

Men are such pigs. See?

Men are such pigs. See?

See how mad we are? Because.

See how mad we are? Because.

Imagine. Three photographers on the wrong side of the shot.

Imagine. Three photographers on the wrong side of the shot.

Je suis feministe. You go, jeune fille.

Je suis feministe. You go, jeune fille.

Unfortunately they haven’t been to the USA yet. And we love breasts more than any nation on earth. They need to get their priorities straight. Ya know?

P.S. And then there’s girl who doesn’t write on herself. She’s in most of the pictures. I guess that’s the Femen version of going commando. She’s cute, don’t you think?

The greatest American Genius.

The greatest American Genius.


From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

All in all, he was greater than all the rest of us.

Meet the new Temple.

Meet the new Temple.

So Temple beat Cincinnati and Ohio State edged Hawaii 38-0. Michigan State stomped on somebody. But Rutgers lost. And now I can’t get my wife out of bed. Life is nothing but loss and horror and defeat. Or so she says.

Love this.

YOU try kicking an extra point.

YOU try kicking an extra point.

Here’s the lede.

Her kick wasn’t perfect, but that hardly mattered to April Goss. When she finally got her big chance, Goss made her point – and history.

A four-year member of Kent State’s team, Goss kicked an extra point in the first half Saturday in a 45-13 win over Delaware State, becoming the second woman to score in a major college football game.

Wearing No. 91, Goss made the kick with 4:30 left in the second quarter, giving the Golden Flashes a 29-6 lead. Following the touchdown, starting kicker Shane Hynes initially went on the field, but coach Paul Haynes called a timeout and sent in Goss.

Read the whole story here.

Did any of you think you'd see this kind of crap on the Internet ten years,ago?

Did any of you think you’d see this kind of crap on the Internet ten years,ago?

It’s all too ridiculous. But this is pure fun. God knows, something should be. Fun, I mean.

He does this a lot

He does this a lot

He loves me too. But more along the lines of he can’t stand it when I don’t get up when he wants me too. That’s love, right?

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