Wife and child were out and about; I had dinner alone. No radio, no TV, just the meal, the New Yorker, and the soft high whine of Jasper breathing through his nose, coveting the redolent sausage. I heard a sound - high, screechy, a hundred rhythms competing, agreeing, competing again. It was coming from outside. I opened the door - and the sound intensified tenfold. It came from above. Crows, Mr. Rico. Hundreds of ‘em. They had assembled in a tree at the far end of Jasperwood, and were engaged in a great dispute - what they hated, and why, I’ll never know; perhaps it was some internecine crow-struggle, some brief glimpse into avian politics. They fight, they sing, they argue, they weep, they love. My big fat crow wedding.

Jasper bounded out and barked - the murder shrieked as one, rose and wheeled around in a hectic swirl, then assembled in the tree and cackled at Jasp with a screechy fury that stunned him to silence. He retreated to my side, ears flat. Then the crows rose and scattered like buckshot.

This has happened before.

They always choose the same tree.

Typing at the kitchen island now; wife has the Michael Jackson TV interview on. You know, there’s something wrong about that lad. Can’t quite put my finger on it - perhaps because if I did, it would slide off the bone.

What does Jackson see when he looks in the mirror? The rest of the world sees Pennywise, the horrid clown whose face peered up from beneath a sewer grate in Stephen King’s “It.” He surely sees something else: a work of art as obsessively edited as the multilayered stillborn songs on his albums. There was a scene in some garish shop where you could buy replicas of Egyptian art, and we learned that Jackson purchased a dupe of Tut’s sarcophagus. The interviewer asked if he’d like to be buried in something like this - a canny question, because the interviewer knew this was the sort of topic that would make his subject wig out. Jackson said he didn’t intend to be buried. He said he would like to live forever.

Maybe that’s part of the reason he carves his face - he has temporal anorexia. Just as the stick-thin bulimic obsessives are always
alert for the odd ounce that makes them look FAT, he interrogates the mirror for the stray line that whispers TIME. It also explains why he surrounds himself with children. He feeds off their youth like a vampire and I wouldn’t be surprised if Neverland Ranch had a shed filled with dry brittle husks of children he’d bought and hoovered clean.


Can’t wake up. Not completely. After three nights of little sleep, the evening nap had the effect of filling my brain with cold syrup. i’d like to sit down in front of the TV, turn on the fire and watch drivel for three hours. I have a headache; my eyes are shot and I have to write a column tonight. So I’m going to babble about vintage animation, give you a link to a new area of this site and hang it up. This will not be the last word on cartoons - that comes later in the week when we discuss the Felix cartoons of the teens and twenties. So:

When you watch a compilation called “Cartoons that Time Forgot” you soon realize that Time may have been on to something. The cartoons are the work of Ub Iwerks, a Disney-stable animator who struck out on his own, foundered, and sank. He did great work, and had brilliant ideas, but his time came and went. See also, Kricfalusi, John; I saw a cartoon the other day by the Ren & Stimpy creator, and it was almost unwatchable. The qualities that set R&S apart ten years ago are either dated or commonplace, leaving Kricfalusi with nothing to do but be cruder and stupider, and louder. You’re left with a sense of sour ugliness and nothing more.

Ub’s main character was Flip the Frog, who bore the same resemblance to amphibians as Mickey did to a mouse. Flip’s tales were more picaresque, and usually involved hard-scrabble Depression-era knockabout romps, but the animation was so crude it made you sad. While Disney turned out elegant, smooth, richly detailed work, Ub’s stuff looked like high-school doodles. The pre-Code stuff has its racy moments, though - the frog ogles a dame through a keyhole, a Boop-type in a diaphanous dress passes a window and has her figure illuminated by moonlight. The Grandmothers of Jessica Rabbit. But what really surprised me was a scene in which Flip is trying to skip out on his rent; he leaves in he middle of the night but trips and falls down the stairs. Thump thump thumpity thump thump.

“Damn!” says Flip.

This was 1931, many years before Clark Gable issued the famous cuss at the end of Gone With the Wind. As long as I can remember that GWTW oath was regarded as the first time anyone dropped the d-bomb in a movie; apparently not. Some Googling revealed that Flip & cohorts also said “hell” now and then - whether Iwerks most last contribution to cinema will be cursing amphibians, I don’t know. But from now on whenever someone notes that GWTW contained the first curse in American cinema, you’ll know that’s not so.

Blah, blah, etc. So here’s the link - an update to the undying Gallery of Regrettable Food. As Freud said: sometimes a banana is not just a banana.
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