Okay, I’m off my high horse. I get nosebleeds up there anyway.

Gnat has been drawing big heads with dots for features, squiggles for hair, lumps for ears. The usual toddler conceptions of humanity: formless mutants.

“Look, Daddee. I draw an eye.”

I’m sure you did, honey. Can you draw a nose?

“No, I draw an eye.”

I looked: she had drawn an upper-case
I. Her first letter. She copied it from a book. She pointed to the word BIG and said “BIG. B - I - G.”

Yes, she’s reading. Two years, ten months, and she’s reading. Mom, Dad, Cat, Dog, Bed, Pig, and several others - she understands them in different contexts. She reads the titles of old Disney cartoons; today she said “Fwee Liddle Pigs” when the title card came on. I’m sure she associated the music with the cartoon, which she’s seen a hundred times, but even so that’s pretty good. She knows that this music means this cartoon, and that those three words say “Three Little Pigs.” When we’re driving along she’ll point at a store’s sign and say “Open.” She knows the world is full of words and she interrogates each one to see if she knows it. She also understands ad campaigns - the Arby’s oven mitt amuses her, for some reason.

“Look!” she says, pointing up at the billboard. “Mr. Glove.” Later that day a commercial comes on, and she says “Mr. Glove, Daddee. He’s everywhere. He’s on the teevee an’ he’s on signs.”

Yes, that’s a direct quote. But it’s not the remark that bothered me the most today. We were in the car, driving along a suburban highway; she looked out at the foliage. “The trees are alll green,” she said. She paused. “These trees are greenish.”

Two years. Ten months. Greenish. God help me.

It’s Wednesday night, a point that marks the absolute nadir of my desire to do anything that requires typing. Wrote another column today, and I apologize in advance for using part of a Bleat to flesh out a point - I was not feeling well at work today, and used a few graphs to get my brain on track. Not that I didn’t think anyone would notice; I expected they will. I’m just being honest about it, so you don’t think why that sneaky, lazy recycling bastiche.

It wasn’t that I felt sick - I just had that black clammy hand of existential dread clapped on the back of my neck. The whole day had that what’s the point feeling you get when you’ve been locked in a routine for three years and see the exact same routine unrolling into the future. Until you DIE. I’ve had a rather grim sensation of accelerated time passage lately; that winged chariot seems to have hit the turbo boosters. I swear it was just December. I swear it was just June, for that matter. It’s odd how this works - one day you’re trotting around the deck of the ship, enjoying the smell of the sea, the sun glinting off the waves; then one day you notice that the deck has a slight list; then you’re clinging to the railings on the stern as the screws lift up from the water. Then you fall on some passenger from third class, and you get all tangled up and it’s horribly embarrassing. More for you than for them, of course; the lower orders aren’t bothered by this sort of thing. But you can’t help but wonder why the captain doesn’t just flood the lower decks when he knows the ship is going down; it would prevent so much of this kind of awkwardness. I mean, you try to be Christian - dreadfully sorry about my boot in your face, my good man - and all you get is a panicked SHOVE OFF or SOD IT or some such brutish ejaculation that just ruins the moment. You only get one chance to die like an Englishman, and there’s always some blighter to ruin it.

Okay, I seem to be better now.

Although I would enjoy being less preoccupied with my preoccupations. And what annoys me the most is that when the sort of thing about which I worry eventually does come true, none of the preparatory worrying will have helped me a bit.

The Bleat! Come for the narcissistic self-aggrandizement, stay for the solipsistic pityfest!

Okay, new subject. I’ve finally had enough of Judge Judy. Not that I don’t enjoy her feeding new fools to the bandsaw; I’m just done with her for a while. Usually my day’s TV entertainment consists of 45 minutes between bleat-posting and bed, so this means I need something new. TiVo to the rescue. I’ve been recording movies I’ve already seen - and this, I know, baffles some people. Why watch that? You’ve seen it already. Precisely; I know I’ll like it. Last night I watched Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murderousness!” (sorry; obligatory Simpsons reference) and was reminded of two inescapable facts.

One: a filmed stage play always feels like a filmed stage play, no matter how much you add exterior scenes, crowd shots, scenes in public places, etc. At some point two characters will sit down for a 12 minute exposition. There’s no way around it. If it’s one of those drawing-room murders, the police will never take the characters down to the station; they will conduct the entire investigation in the living room of the suspects. This is why you can’t do this sort of movie or play anymore. You’d have to find a reason to bring a DNA analysis machine into the front room of the suspects. Don’t mind, do you? Deuced thing. Awfully sorry. Now if you’d both give me some hair and some oral-cavity swabs - there, that’s the ticket.

Observation Two: a movie filmed in 3D and presented in 2D is a joy to watch, because you keep noting the shots that shout THREE FRICKIN’ D, PEOPLE! In that famous 3D horror-fest “House of Wax” (with Charles Bronson as Igor; don’t miss it) there’s an utterly gratuitous scene of a man playing with a paddle ball; it goes on forever, because they’re milking the novelty of seeing a paddleball come at you in the THIIIIRRRD DIMENSION. Hitchcock did not resort to these tricks, mainly because he hated the idea. There’s a great 3D moment when Grace Kelly is reaching for the sewing scissors to stab her assailant, but aside from that Hitch’s sole nod to 3D is to place furniture in the foreground. There’s always A LAMP! in the foreground, or AN OTTOMAN!

A few nights ago I watched, God Help Me, the end of Airport ‘75. Chuck Heston, Karen Black, and Linda Blair as the Plucky Girl With A Vague Illness. Of course I saw it in high school; the original Airport made a great impression on me when I saw it on TV as a kid. For the genre, it’s still pretty good; nice Alex North score, and priceless interior footage of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. And of course it had George Kennedy as Joe Patroni, a stogie-chompin’ uber-mechanic who called planes “baby” and was your go-to man when a plane ran off Runway 2-niner, thereby imperiling Western Civilization. The original Airplane had Helen Hayes, and this meant that all subsequent disaster movies must have a geriatric thespian from Hollywood’s golden age.

Towering Inferno: Fred Astaire
Airport 75: Myrna Loy, Gloria Swanson
Airport 77: Olivia DeHavilland, Jimmy Stewart
Meteor: Henry Fonda
Earthquake: Ava Gardner
Poseidon Adventure: Charlie Chaplin (uncredited; played “old man #6 impaled on trident)

Okay, I made that last one up. Airport 77 was on right after, and I had to watch it. Jimmy Stewart does not interact with anyone in the movie; he appears in the credit sequence, then appears on a message to the passengers - on LASERDISC! I know it’s cruel to mock the high-tech pretensions of the past; I’m sure when I saw the movie the first time, and the stew placed that giant silver platter in the machine I was quite impressed. Wow: metal robot records. Cool. To show you how high-tech the plane was, it also had a table in the bar with Pong built right into the tabletop.

I know, I know: it’s unfair to mock the past for these things. In ten years people will guffaw at the size of the phones in the Matrix movies. Nothing is so dated as yesterday’s future.

Ding! That’s it. Ten o’clock. I am not going to stay up and type all night; Dial M’s conclusion awaits, and I want to see just how the stuffy proto-Colombo British detective traps Ray Milland.

Was there anyone as smart, shifty, untrustworthy, cultured, tortured and off-putting as Ray Milland? I know I have a good impression of him from some movie, but I can’t remember which. He must have been a hero at some point, because all of his dark roles seem to playing against type. But that was his type. Don’t miss the Corman C-grade “Man with the X-Ray Eyes” (costarring Don Rickles!) He radiates desperate contempt.

As opposed to George Sanders, who radiated confident contempt. And who would you rather hit the town with?