Bill Maher ruffled feathers/made headlines/pick-your-cliche in the most recent episode of his show, claiming that people who live in red states/flyover country are secretly envious of the blue state coastal elites, and want to be like them. “We have Chef Wolfgang Puck, they have Chef Boyardee,” he said. “They don’t hate us, they want to be us.” If I had it in me to be insulted by what anyone on television has to say anymore, I suppose I could muster some outrage over this. But I can’t. We rubes in the red states have seen how the elites live and don’t want any part of it. What’s telling is that Maher didn’t mention mores as a reason for this envy. He didn’t say, “We have abortion clinics on every corner, they have traditional families.” He didn’t say, “We have strict gun laws, they have personal responsibility.” And he didn’t say, “We have Hollywood, ground zero for institutionalized prostitution, sexual harassment, drug addiction, and pedophilia; they have churches.” What Maher’s proud of isn’t what we’re proud of. We just wish that the coastal elites would stay in their bailiwicks instead of moving to red states and voting for the same policies and politicians that ruined their original homes.
I’ve watched as many episodes of the 1978 Battlestar Galactica television program as I’m likely to; you can read my general impressions of it here. Now that I’ve gone through the vast majority of it, I’m struck by how much it’s a product of a different generation, a different set of TV rules for storytelling, tone, and style. Many of the episodes were two-parters, which stretched the envelope for a time before the advent of VHS players. Tone-wise, it was far from all doom-and-gloom. The fleeing Colonists encountered many planets on which humans lived and thrived; no matter what happened with the Cylon War, humanity was probably going to survive. Everything wasn’t a world-ending emergency, unlike today’s type of apocalyptic programming. Faith and God were very important to the Colonies; Commander Adama (who had the power of telekinesis, go figure) led the Colonists to Earth based initially on religious faith, not knowledge of our planet’s location in the universe. A later episode has the Colonial Fleet meeting Lucifer (yes, that Lucifer), who can only be defeated by angels (yes, those angels) who resurrect a fallen pilot and tell the Colonists where to find Earth. This kind of thing simply isn’t done anymore in science fiction programming. Yes, many of the episodes were hokey, silly, or corny, but it had heart. And, at the time, it was all we had. I highly recommend it as a fascinating look into the popular entertainment of just a few decades ago.
I recently read Eleanor Bourg Nicholson’s novel A Bloody Habit and enjoyed it, for the most part. To get the most out of it, you have to have read Bram Stoker’s Dracula recently, or have more than a passing recollection of the events therein. Bram Stoker has a cameo in A Bloody Habit, and the novel reads very much like a combination of Dracula pastiche and correction of the faith-based elements of the Stoker work. The vampire hunters of Habit are miles from the dashing, stake-wielding Van Helsing and Holmwood: they’re men of the cloth who recognize vampirism as demonic possession, and treat it as such. If you can work your way through the first third’s foundation-building, you’re in for a treat.
Appalling Stories 3 is coming soon, and while it hews to the previous volumes’ themes, it’s a different style of work. Get ready.