Good news and bad news. Good: Gnat is not allergic to bee stings. Bad: well, guess. We were having the Labor Day gathering at the Giant Swedes, and there were many bees about, seduced by the siren scent of sugar. One such minion of Satan was wandering around the inside of her cup; she took a sip - and she gave a wail that said to all: bee sting. it had the tell-tale combination of surprise and searing pain. Poultices were made and applied, and I stood there heart hammering: what if shes allergic? What? Theres the phone, 911, how long, too late, what? What? And what sort of world is this that a bee sting can put a happy, sweet, brilliant little miracle like my daughter in the ground?
But no, shes okay! Aside from the searing pain and the temporary trauma. In an hour shell be making fun of herself: What did you say when the bee stung you, honey? I said waaaaah. <exaggerated cry-voice.> I helped her deal with any residual bee-trauma by seeking them out and smashing them with a rolled-up newspaper. She seemed satisfied.
Hm. As I uploaded this page @ 12:40 AM I heard her cry down the hall. Went to calm her down and ease her back to sleep. "The bees," she said. "The bees." I assured her that there were no bees; she nodded and went straight back to sleep. I cannot begin to imagine what a three-year old's bee-related nightmare must have been like.
Death to bees, I say. To hell with honey. I'll live without it.
Late-nite idea scribbled on Post-It note, found this morning: QYR I STR8T GUY MICHELANG
And for once I knew what that meant. I had seen some Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and in my bleary pre-crash state thought: wouldnt it make a great column to put famous historical gays on that show? Like Alexander the Great? Or Michelagelo? In retrospect, no. As a friend keeps reminding me, theres no proof Michelangelo was gay. (Uh-huh. Sure.)
But I still like the idea, if only for the contrast. I always Michelangelo as a Beethovian character - dark, scowly, bothered, the antithesis of the cheery chatty guy I saw on the show. Lets go to the tape:
"Well, Mike, I dont know about you, but as Oscar Wilde said, either that wallpaper blows or I do. Or something. (pause. Singsong: ) Youre not laughing. Whats the matter? "
I want a realistic depiction of a flayed skin on that wall, held by a man whose expression connotes the horror of damnation! I want the writhing bodies intertwined to demonstrate that not even vigorous musculature is sufficient to resist the demons who drag such sinners down to thunderous ruin!
"Ah - ohkaaay, but we were going to do an underwear makeover today? Its the Mighty Tighty Whitey episode, and -"
No underwear! I had my greatest work defiled by that fool da Volterra - he even put drapery over the groin of a gutter-cat. No underwear!
"Oh, great, well, lets give the room to Mikey! He hates everything!"
I do not hate everything. I do not disapprove of the windows. They admit a generous course of the setting sun, and the dying light paints the walls with a gentle brush.
(clapping) "Hey Mikey! He likes it!"
(etc) If this seems insultingly stereotypical, well, it's nothing compared to what I saw on TV. I find this acceptance of the most outre stereotype by the stereotyped a little disturbing, the same way I'd feel about Pimp Eye for the White Guy. But I'm also sure that I need to stop overthinking and remember the deathless advice of the King Edwards matchbook we gave away at the Valli: Relax and Enjoy.
The image above is my secret message to the Lizardoid Minions. I walk among you!
Its also from 20 Million Miles to Earth, a movie that pits a crisply uniformed Paul Drake from the Perry Mason show against a Venusian biped; the forces of Earth defeat the creature, probably because theyre moving at 31 frames per second and hes stuck at 22, at best. The creature is a triumph of stop-motion animation by Harryhausen, and his meticulous craftsmanship redeemed an otherwise pedestrian movie. But you cant help but love a movie that suggests the US was sending spaceships to Venus in 1955 - and be honest; when was the last time cinema gave us the sight of an angry lizard going mano-a-mano with an elephant in the streets of downtown Rome?
I also saw a bit of the Blob, featuring Steve McQueen as a 29 year old teenager. I used to think it was a movie about carnivorous Jell-O. Nope! Its an allegory of modern consumerism. According to the pamphlet that accompanies the Criterion edition, that scene where the Blob oozes out of the movie theater projection window wasnt just about, well, a Blob oozing out of a projection window.
People who watched the movie may also have felt threatened as consumers, not just as moviegoers, as they watched the hungry mass - comparable to if not incarnating the growing consumerism of 1950s America - devour their kind. If they had forgotten the War and wanted to live in a world of play, their complacent desire to stuff themselves with goods and good times had shown itself to be a monster. No wonder the Blob moves through an empty market and settles on a diner where no food is sold; the humans have had their fill.
I think it goes without saying that the author of these remarks teaches at a University. Look, Prof: the market is empty because its late at night, okay? Im sure they would have loved to shoot the scene during the day with dozens of shoppers menaced by a quivering symbolic manifestation of bloodthirsty consumerism. But. When you have a budget of about $7.94, your FX technology isnt exactly up to Lucas standards, and shooting at night with two people means you eliminate most of your garden-variety continuity problems, a filmmaker will sometimes decide that the film will not be about the engorged, gelatinous nature of postwar consumerism. At least not this reel.
Bah. Far more interesting, to my philistine sensibilities, are the people who actually visit the place where the movie was shot and find what remains of the locales. The grocery store in the movie fascinated me - the glimpses of package design, the advertising, the small scale, the gleaming white freezers, its all the stuff of my earliest childhood memories. The authors of this site found a remnant of the original store, and it looks like the wall of an Egyptian tomb unearthed from the slumber of the centuries.
I went back a year to see what my first Sept Bleat art was - turns out it was Forbidden Planet. Theres something about the end of the summer that pushes me to watch 50s sci-fi, it seems. It is a strange time of the year; every hot day seems too late, and every cold day seems too soon. Cicadas and sprinklers, crinkly hostas, long shadows at seven. Youre grilling in shorts. The catalogues are full of pumpkins. Well, its still summer. And it will be summer for the rest of this week, and most of the next; then comes Fall Happiness Season - but well get to that tomorrow.