Skip to content

Hulu Catch-22 Review Coming Right at You

Binged Hulu’s Catch-22 today. While it’s possible and probable I’m a bit paranoid, though I would argue justifiably so, it wasn’t as easy to find as I’d expect. It’s not on Hulu’s front page and you have to scroll down to get to it once you’re on the Hulu Originals.

While it is of course possible this is because I’m a late-comer {it was released months ago} there is a decidedly anti-anti-war sentiment in media these days as evidenced in part by incessant attacks on Tulsi Gabbard from all quarters. Jack Ryan is pushed on us via ads all the time. John Yossarian is a hard man to find.

I should note that I am frequently behind the times on trends and I expect this production is no exception. Were this show a movie made in the late 60s or early 70s, I’m quite certain there would have been crazy camera work and over-the-top performances. Instead, we have very, very grounded performances which was in its own way shocking. The utter insanity of what’s going on around them juxtaposed with the seriousness was something I wasn’t expecting. The beautiful and terrifying camera work, the balls shot perhaps being an exception but still somehow very much in the vein of Heller serious-absurdity, wasn’t shot as if the crew and cast were all on acid like some scene out of Apocalypse: Now; it wasn’t mean to the audience brutally jumping locations like The Killing Fields nor even Heller’s own temporally f***ed and circular book.

So there’s none of Peter Sellers’ crazy performances a la Doctor Strangelove. Even House’s Laurie, who hams it up a bit in Avenue 5, is really underplaying it. No internal smiles and scene tearing here.

We pretty much see the war from the point of view of the bombers and not those on the ground, though of course there’s an exception and what happens in the air isn’t always as pleasant as watching drone videos. Not the scope of this show or the book, but obviously seeing what happens to innocent Italians would be persuasive for making anti-war statements.

Perhaps another criticism…But this is most likely because people in the past have done what is wise: They stole from the best. The show contains many of the familiar war picture and story tropes: Madness; trauma; fear of dying; fear of living but being no longer technically ‘a man;’ you name it, they for the most part cover it. This is the book’s basis, and so it is with this show.

And these are of course important things to communicate to people separated from the horrors of war. Or is that they were?

The problem as I see it is that when the argument against war, and it is still a good one, but when the main argument is the cost to solders, that is injury and death, then what happens when they perfect robot soldiers? We’re a long way down this road now with drones. It’s only a matter of time before even drone pilots are replaced probably by AI.

And then there is the parallel idea of people signing up for unconscious tours of duty. Imagine your body being “borrowed” but “you” not being aware of it, not remembering it, so you don’t have to live with being a mass murderer; you don’t have to struggle with the trauma and memory of the gore. I’m guessing this is coming some time behind the robots, but probably not as far as people think.

What, then, is the argument against war when the costs to our “side” are removed from the argument? It’s something that is perhaps on one hand rising right now though at the same time there is a concerted effort to kill it. That is, that we are, in a sense, one. Or at least 99.9% or so in the same situation.

Scifi may be required to see what these situations, which by the way sometimes include predictions made by PhDs at various universities of pandemics causing some major changes in how we live, are still something to be protested. Cruelty, even when performed with yet another degree of separation and deniability and irresponsibility, must be questioned.

Duh Bait

“Ok…”

“…and you…you peek…under the door.”

“I ‘peeked’ under your door?”

“And someone sees you peeking, they fire a warning shot and accidentally hit you.”

He closed his eyelids to hide how far his orbs were rolling back in his head. It was unsurprisingly, unhelpful, unenlightening, and frustrating even engaging in this explanation. Just like usual.

“No. No, no, no, no, no-no-no-no-no. No.”

He was on to correcting the mysterious man who would not, of course, even say who sent him or why he was really there. He doubted this guy even knew the answers, that likely, typically, he had been lied to as well.

“First, there was no peeking. It was poison pen all the way. Whether it was the Penguin or Killer Croc, well—”

“Penguin? Those Batman villains?”

“Yeah. One was Vice President, the other is an assassin with some amphibious training. I’m sure you can suss out who I mean.

“Even that, even that poison pen if it were either of those people, even that was because what…? It was because I defended you people. Because I defended you against privatization–because it is bad for the country and I’m being borne out on that, and because I defended one of yours when she got outed because we were going into an illegal war. Also history would seem to support my ideas on that, clearly.

“But why did I do those things in the first place? This is what they didn’t tell you. This is what they wanted to hide. Because it is so illegal that it is nearly impossible, even in this extremely hostile and callous climate, to support what amounts to slavery. This other stuff was an excuse, cover for the only retirement plan the Company has for people like me: Six feet under. Or, so hopelessly insane that they never have anything approaching a normal life. Either way, you pricks ensure they are prevented from the pursuit of happiness. And for that, f*** you.

“But this…this nonsense. It’s more like, even assuming the peeking under the door, which is our door, not your door in the first place. But let’s assume that happened.

“You fire a warning shot? More like a ten year war with bullets, drones, rockets and the occasional tactical nuke with me saying, ‘Hey. There must be some sort of mistake. Stop firing please,’ for the first two years.

“But you just kept doing it.”

There was a pause.

“Why do you think you aren’t dead and aren’t like the other folks?”

“Because you have made so many enemies over the decades. Someone with even more power has had it with your Nazi bullshit. I mean, it’s in your DNA. PAPERCLIP and BLOODSTONE. Seen it over and over again with what you do, frequently without even any scientific basis, like the crap George Hunter White got up to.

“He just enjoyed it. That’s why it works: You guys like being cruel so much and you leveraged that into being the secret police for the oligarchs, the billionaires. That’s it. It’s not complicated. You just hide and distract and pretend and fund movies and tv shows depicting it as being done for the 99.9% when it is actually being done against them. You get your cushy jobs at Booz or start up your own dirty tricks fix-it company catering to the billionaires thanks to start-up funding In-Q-Tel and it’s all aimed at keeping the Reagan tax cuts in place.

“So the point here, why you’re here telling me this shit, is not to tell me the truth. It’s so I can tell you the truth.

“And to distract me from telling others about. Again: F*** you. Meeting over.”

——

Golden Globes

Yeah, I know. Who watches it anyway? Seemed as if the whole point was to have Republicans dress down Democrats.

Confession: I laughed more than a few times. It is typically difficult to find genuinely funny conservative comedians, even though probably the vast majority of the popular and wealthy ones are. They avoid politics by focusing on family, work, kids, pets, and cartoon-y views of things like terrorism.

Gervais’ work was in a sense, genius. I found the “I know…he’s a friend” funny precisely because it was so ridiculous. At the same time, I have no doubt that many Qs saw it entirely differently. It worked on both those levels.

Of course it must be mentioned that Gervais is an entertainer. And his opening monologue was at times political. I’m sure that wasn’t lost on him, but the whole “You’re just entertainers, no one cares about your [political] opinions” thing is just a psychological game.

Yes, in a more perfect world, politicians would not require some other form of soft power calling them out for corruption and violating the public trust. Yes, so-called champions of industry would be–this cuts me a little too–like Tony Stark, people to look up to as experts and the standard for leadership and go-to for answers. Is there anyone out there who would trust Elon Musk to sit your goldfish? Seriously, he’d kill it and somehow cause a social media furor in the process further removing him from decision making at one of his companies.

It’s preposterous. Ultimately, Gervais’ bid was a cynical one: To say, because you help companies like Apple who runs sweatshops in China, you cannot have a say in anything. It was a broad brush designed to say, “Hollywood, you are Republicans under neath all that pretense.”

I consider Tom Hanks {and Stephen Spielberg and Ron Howard} to be Hollywood’s thermometer{s}. However, I also wonder if it ever occurs to them that this, getting run down by people like Gervais and the pundits applauding him, is payment in full for every compromise. The real reason this was so easy was because these two parties have become so similar. If you can’t even muster an anti-war movement, what kind of alternative are you, really? And in that final regard, it was deserved even if it was delivered by a disingenuous, xenophobic, authoritarian man-baby.

Con

“…sorry, sorry. It’s not actually a bad question at all. That’s not why I’m laughing.”

He moved the mic away for a moment, cleared his throat, took a drink of Dasani.

“Of everyone on the panel,” he glanced left and right to be sure, “I’m probably Mr. Pop Culture. What I mean is, I, generally, like it. I do like the weird and offbeat as well, but generally, I’m a sucker for pop songs, for lots of things with general broad appeal.

“So one of the things I find hilarious about that question is, in order for it to be true, there would have to be…something so secret that even CIA and NSA–and FBI and JSOC for that matter–don’t know that it exists. In fact, it would have to be so secret that even the people who work for it don’t know it exists. Think about that for a moment.”

He paused.

“You’re moving out of tree-unheard-falls-in-forest territory, because you don’t ever see the tree, and into Schrödinger’s cat territory. It’s quantum physics and anything goes, or seems to.

“So, yeah, the idea of an Oceans 11 type thing, which I grant you is a whole lot easier to believe in, just throws me into stitches. I know it isn’t true, but the idea of anyone, these agencies thinking that’s what it is…well, that almost makes it all worth it all by itself for the lulz.

“But then it is the ultimately self-defeating, fleeting-victory, confusing, vain, and ultimately futility of covert operations that has always made me laugh when they are done in real life and not in fiction, which is where they mostly belong.

“Who would have ever guessed that what boils down to James Bond worship would be what kills humanity? Because that is actually true. It’s our trust of authority that is going to lead to a world where we have no say at all in its affairs, and that means getting to walk the plank for the sake of billionaires ultimately.

“It’s something I, many years ago thought was a good idea because of the idea that covert ops were better than open world wars…that they could be used to prevent wars. Instead, they’ve been used to deceive the public and justify them.

“It is the nature of secrecy that the more secret something is, the more likely that what is being done is not in the public interest, and is instead corrupt and in the interests of a select few ‘in the know.’ Our own reliance on those who engage in ‘invisible’ acts that they assure us are in our interests is belied by the visible results: The divide between rich and poor grows, as does the resulting say, the influence in the affairs that affect them.

“So it’s funny in a way. But in another it is no laughing matter. To answer the question, I assure you, I’ve been ‘dancing by myself.’ At least as far as I know.”

Not Recommended for Children Under 13

It was one of those moments.

Or was it?

Enlightenment wasn’t really the right word. That should somehow make things better, right? Maybe somehow improve fitness, survivability. Discovery made it sound like something scientific or geographic. Also not really appropriate to the situation.

And where did it really come from? Was it somehow messengers from the future sending messages backwards through time like PKD had assumed? A brain fart of some kind?

If so, how did it supply information that he didn’t otherwise have? Was part of his brain cordoned off from the rest, only specializing in mostly useless trivia for just such occasions in order to trick the rest of the cerebral cortex and associated wetware? Didn’t seem any more likely that PKD’s explanation.

No. This was someone, somehow, from the here and now.

And what had it really meant, the “message”? A visual. A visual…a “video” to go along this time with a song stuck in his head. This particular song he didn’t so much mind being stuck there. It was pleasant enough and had no lyrics to twist around. It worked nicely as an eraser to get whatever worries and humbugs were bouncing around in there without any real purpose. Worry was, like so many other negative things, the purpose of itself. Solutions and actions rarely came from it.

But the visual of the Western spy dressed up in something like bad, old TV version of Asian style, doing a dance that likewise would likely not be considered politically correct–probably downright offensive actually–was odd. Clearly the intent had been some kind of reference to China.

The writer and performer of the instrumental had influenced many who had followed him Two Beatles; Led Zeppelin‘s guitarist; Clapton; and of course that arm-spinning, wonderfully XL-schnozzed guitarist for The Who, who had fallen out of favor in recent years after an arrest predating the #MeToo stuff.

What was the message though? Brit guitarist names a song after a porcelain-faced toy originally produced in Western Europe in the 19th Century. China, the word here, was supposed to mean the porcelain in this case. How did that invoke deranged spies dancing like some kind of goofy brainwashed cartoon character?

Certainly during the Cold War, the spy community often suspected musicians of being “Commies,” or Russian assets or sympathizers. Was that it? A musician who wrote a song including the word China in it influenced so many other influential musicians, that there must be some connection to communism somewhere?

As he saw it, it likely really meant that the spy world was full of semi-deranged people who really probably in many cases should not be the ones making decisions requiring rational thought. It would be like allowing a gun with some sentience to decide when to fire. Tools will tend to view things in terms of what they do, if they could view things. The saying was something about every problem being a nail when you only have a hammer, as he recalled.

He looked up that saying and came across an article, also from the UK, from 1868. It sort of involved the idea, except the idea was when a child is handed tools. A quote caught his eye.

Give a boy a hammer and chisel; show him how to use them; at once he begins to hack the doorposts, to take off the corners of shutter and window frames, until you teach him a better use for them, and how to keep his activity within bounds.

“And allow him to do whatever he wants in secret and don’t question it because of unnamed fears, and he won’t ever learn to keep his activities within bounds,” he added, attempting to pick the idea up using the author’s idea.

He logged off.

“F***,” he thought. “It’s just a song.”

But then he wondered a few more times how he had seen the weird “video” in his head before he even know the title of the song.

“They are a weird bunch.”

Ballast

He had been surprised at the invitation. However, he understood little about the activity at hand, even though he had from time to time engaged in it years ago.

It had been explained, slowly, with a level of patience and careful verbiage that went well beyond impressive, that patience and quiet were required. This was what one was expected to do: Sit quietly and be patient. You could drink, however. Beer was the choice today.

He had noted that neither quiet nor patience were really strong suits for him, which had prompted, “Well, then. This is a good time to stretch those muscles.”

That had been ten minutes ago. Ten minutes of silence. Ten minutes that to him had seemed like yet another eternity. Alone with his thoughts, well, the beer probably wasn’t helping.

As soon as he began to utter a syllable, “So–”

He had been cut off immediately, as if the probably seventh or more probably eighth interruption of the quiet, he had lost track, had not been unexpected. “Can you go get us some more beers from the cooler?”

He glanced at the cooler. He could barely make it out, a red and white dot, over on the bank of the lake. The boat had drifted further from shore than he had noticed.

He then glanced at the sides of the boat the two of them sat in. He reflected for a split second on how he’d always been more earthy, maybe with some fire, and expected his match was more water or air or both than he.

He set down his fishing pole, sighed and said, “Yep. Back in–”

He was cut off again, “Take your time.”

He took off his jacket and climbed out of the boat and made his way to shore.

—-

Shocking. Simply Shocking

“You sure that’s him?”

“Yes. Confirmed, Colonel.”

“Well…I’m not gonna do it.”

They were in a control room of sorts. More makeshift than permanent. They sat at a table with a large red button on it. Wires were attached and led to the next room, which was viewable through a Plexiglass window.

In that other room was a naked man. It had been the one who, on some fateful holiday, had drugged the colonel at a party.

“Now I see the kid, I just can’t.”

He turned to the corporal to talk to him. His elbow, however, bumped the red button. There was a string of obscenities coming from the Plexiglass room.

“Is there a decent place to get a meal around here?” the colonel inquired, not seeming to notice the noise.

“Yes, sir. I’ll get you a list.”

“Thank you, corporal. At ease.”

His elbow came to rest on the button. He leaned into it a bit.

“Nah. I’m not gonna do it. He’s not worth it. Is he?”

“No, sir.”

Thinking Of You Till It Hurts {Extended Edition, with Even More Additional Dialog}

“‘Are ya stupid, son?'”

Same downward look followed by no reply.

“Let me tell you about Cleo. That bitch–she’s a female dog, so I can call her that. Politically correct gestapo take note.”

“Who are you talking to?”

“No one. Myself. Everyone. Does it matter?

“Where was I? Right. That dog. No matter how much dog whisperer–I can still mention him right? Despite the scandal? Or no? Maybe we should burn all his books and DVDs in ‘protest.’ Dinesh would love that twofold: Getting rid of wisdom and the Left behaving like brownshirts.

“Anyway…that dog only listened when I was sitting right there, forcibly, telling her to behave. She’d snarl and lick my hand as if to say, ‘You’re doing it all wrong but you’re the boss, so okay.’ Then, after I’d gone to work, she’d shit on the floor.

“Now maybe you and yours killed her. Don’t know for certain. How could I? But I loved that dog anyway.”

“Which is the point, Chris. Mind control. PSYOP. I didn’t mean for this to happen. It’s someone’s joke, I know. But I didn’t mean for you to fall in love with me.”

“Now, where am I supposed to take that? Because I’ve got six ways from Sunday. Apostle Paul, allegedly, fed Christians to f***ing lions. I don’t think Sunday school paintings do that justice. Think about that, if you dare…if you can.

“Next: What the f*** did I just say? What did I just f***ing say? I said, ‘I loved that dog anyway.’ And, by the way…in high school…while driving drunk…I either killed or severely injured some family’s dog. And, I did not have the guts to go see them the next day.

“I could blame being closeted gay making me crazy and a little vicious. I could blame the alcohol. It sometimes made me mean. I could blame the stupid dog for running out in front of the car. The family for not keeping the damn thing inside the yard. I could blame my fair-weather friends for making me feel as though I had to pretend to be straight and tough. What does tough really mean anyway? Doesn’t mean shit until you have to survive something that should crush you. Only then do you know for sure.

“Acting tough because of what others think or because you don’t want to face what you did is not toughness; it’s cowardice.

“There’s just no excuse for not apologizing. And taking some responsibility. I was young. What does that mean?

“Weird. It was a song that reminded me of that. That’s what songs do. And smells sometimes. Pheromones, etc.”

Chris paused and rubbed the back of his neck for a moment. He smiled when next he spoke.

“Are you deaf and blind as well as an idiot savant? No offense to people with autism. It’s a useful metaphor and I am not referring to actual people with autism. What I mean is, we make decisions unconsciously…then we guess as to why we did them consciously. So, the big question: Did you plan that, or did someone else tell you exactly what to do?”

The downward look again.

“See? You don’t f***ing know why you did it. But you did it. You did it because you knew everyone else you knew was doing the opposite. Like that money dude whose name I keep forgetting that everyone wants to be by ignoring his advice completely. Note that my using him as an example in no way should be construed as me condoning gambling on Wall Str–”

“WHO are you talking to?”

Chris pointed to each wall and when he got to the last one said, “Four!”

“What does that mean?”

“It means this is not real. It means, once you break everything and anything down to its smallest parts, what you have is vibrations. This according to g-string theory. It means we are really just sound. Echoes of the Big Bang or when God spoke it all into being, interpret that how you like.

“It means the world actually is digital, not analog. But our eyesight and level of perception and understanding is so poor, we cannot see that. It’s all fake because we can’t see ‘reality.’

“And I don’t really understand any of that. So all it means to me is ‘I don’t care. I love you anyway.’ What difference does it make if I, God, neurochemomistry, the CIA, or Cupid made that happen? What difference does it make? So what if someone cheated and played the Kobayashi Maru on us? So what? It feels right to me. All I don’t hear from you because this is a short story and you aren’t actually here talking to me in the flesh is, ‘I have a billion excuses.’

“And what difference does it make what you’ve done? It’s never too late to change. So come tell me your billion excuses and I’ll take them on one by one. Because I can talk and talk and talk without ever thinking. That’s my superpower. Probably the only one.

“But I’d like to understand yours better. So stop reading this and shaking your head and wondering how best to kill me because it’d be merciful, quick and easy.

“Because, goddam you, sometimes I don’t think it’s merciful. And that’s your f***ing fault. You helped make your bed. So come lie in it.

“So just grow up and act responsibly. Take some responsibility.

“Or we could just watch Adult Swim and eat ice cream. Your choice.”

The link below has nothing to do with anything. At least that’s what I think consciously.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lhtH_Y_vr48

Infectis – Chapter ?

How soft your fields so green.

—-

It was the long walk out of the shit town that bothered him most. The drive in had been a piece of cake.

He’d seen the condition of the place. Anyone who lived there–why didn’t people just move?–deserved whatever they got.

But walking out. That was too close. He didn’t want to see it up close. Through the dusty, grimy window of the semi-tractor was fine.

He made his way to the rendezvous outside town. He felt no guilt over what he was doing. It was a job like any other.

He did take a little pleasure in it, though. But only a little. It was unprofessional to to take anything approaching joy from it.

Besides, he was just the delivery guy. All he had done was park it there. It’d be the inhabitants of the shit town, most likely kids, who would break it open. Their own sin would be their undoing. He wasn’t making them, nor was his employer, open it to release what was inside.

Their own sin…They would receive in them their just reward…for being dirty little Mexicans that God hated.

He smiled and picked up the pace.

Hostage

“I’ll do it, people. Don’t think I won’t do it.

“All I’m saying is, I want, somewhere in the chain, preferably handing it to me, a goddam human being! I want to see a face. Not a robot face or a picture of a face, but a real, live human face.”

He pointed it quickly in another direction, which caused a few gasps from the crowd.

“And I want my cheeseburger to taste good. Doesn’t always have to be perfect! That’s what makes a perfect one special.

“But paid human beings will by God hand it to me…or else.”

A Native American man in his 70s had watched the entire tirade and display seemingly dispassionately. He decided to speak when the madman took a break from ranting.

“You are aware that you are holding a banana, aren’t you?”

“Yes. Yes I am. And don’t think I won’t…”

He pulled from the bottom and stuffed two-thirds of it into his mouth.

“Doh thig I woan!” he blurted with a mouthful.

He crammed the last of the banana in his mouth, stared the Native Man in the eyes. He then held up the empty peel in the air between them. And he dropped it on the tile floor of the fast food restaurant.

“Doan twip!”

The Native man looked at him for a moment. Then he sighed and picked it up and placed it in the trash can. Then he returned to his seat as the crowd applauded and cheered.

“Sir. Your order is ready,” a pretty young woman said from behind the counter.

“Oh…thag yoo. Thag yoo vewy mush.”