Thankful? For WHAT, exactly?

To live here, in this country, in this place; for my lovely wife and adorable child and barky wolf; for the freedom to do what I want with my life; for the happy fact that I’m here on the globe at a time that lets me do this, right here; for everyone who comes here and puts up with me. 2004 will be the start of Year 8 for this site, and I thank all of you for making that happen. No bleat on Friday – I intend to spend Thursday night in a tryptophan stupor, watching movies and sipping Penfold’s.

It’s snowing right now. Even though it’s nighttime the sky has a pearly grey light – I look up, marvel, and think “#C0C0C0” – and realize I’ve spent too much time on HTML colors. The snow’s collecting on the railings, the boughs, the lights, the slope of the hill – it all feels clean and fresh and ready for the Best! Christmas! Ever! as all the children’s shows invariably end.

<snip long bitchslap of Harvey Fierstein for his Drag Mrs. Claus float. Bottom line: Santa is married to a dame! Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Find someone else – Yukon Cornelius in leathers, we could buy. We could even see Burl Ives’ Rudolph-narrating Snowman in a sort of Gertie-Stein / Alice-B. relationship with Frosty. But Mrs. Claus is the ur-Grandmother for children; she doesn’t sound a Brooklyn duck being fed butt-first into a wood-chipper, and she doesn’t have stubble. Deal with it. If you truly think that people object to a same-sex / cross-dressing Claus couple on a Macy's parade float because they're homophobic, you really need to expand your social circle. I also don't think Mrs. Claus should be played by Heidi Klum in a white-fur thong, stroked by buff oiled-up elves. Think of the children, I say. Think of the children.>

Just on the heels of yesterday’s hosannah to the LORT 47-hour special expanded edition, “The Two Towers” arrived today. There’s my weekend, right there. (In the new expanded edition, we learn that Sauromon is actually a woman! And she’s Ann Coulter!)

Brian has half a good post about how the true fans (read: drew runes on their jeans in 7th grade, but later learned to hide their obsessions) viewed the movie when it first came out. I say “half a good post” because he kindly warned us off with a spoiler alert. Good man. Read a review today of “Timeline” that gave away a twist at the end. Bad reviewer. I’ve never understood why people want to give away twists. Oh, I do – you need to share what you know, re-experience it in the telling, and shouting at the mirror or whispering into the toilet bowl doesn’t have the same satisfaction as relating the news to a fellow human. But that doesn’t make it a good idea. I am never forget the day, as Lobachevsky’s pupil put it, that I first saw Citizen Kane. Opening scene: big Orson lips. Rrrrrosebud.

The guy behind me said “that’s the name of his sled.” (Highlight; don’t want to commit a spoiler, after all.)

Do I need to keep the Terrible Secret of Kane from you, at this point? It’s like letting it slip that Dorothy makes it home from Oz. I didn’t see the movie until I was 21, but that more to do with living in North Dakota. There’s no reason not to know what that movie’s about now.

Makes me wonder: when do kids learn that Darth Vader is Luke’s father? Does that surprise anyone nowadays? I suppose that dates me: hell, I’m so old that when Darth popped that one on Luke, it was news to everyone. Let me tell you something else, whippersnapper: when Spock died in Star Trek 2 we all expected he’d stay dead. You kids today with your DVDs and tapes and books, you got Spock comin’ outta your ass. Hah! In my time when Battlestar Galactica went, there was no bringin’ it back ZZZZZzzzzzz (Abe Simpson snore)

It sounds like I’ve been watching many movies, but sooth, nay (sorry; artifacts from the “Timeline” book) – I watch snippets over the course of a week until they add up. I watched “FearDotCom” because I wanted to see how bad it was, but I can’t say I watched it; more to the point, I watched the TiVo FF progress bar move from left to right until it was over. I watched “New York, New York” because I had conflicted memories of it – since it was by Marty S, The Master, I wanted to like it. I barely succeeded. A guy I work – the paper’s TV critic – says it’s one of his favorite Scorcese movies, along “King of Comedy.” Well. Well, well. From the opening moments, “New York New York” feels strained, and I finally realized why: the music is horrible. It’s freeze-dried big band. It sounds like that careful, practiced, pressed-and-starched stuff they sell on compilation Cds. You know what I mean – all the guys in the band look like Freddy DeCordeva. Seventies big band. But that’s not the worst of it; there’s Liza Minelli. She doesn’t sound like a 1940s singer. I didn’t know that when I first heard the song, but now her style sounds anachronistic. (I my be wrong, but I think it was Barbra Streisand who pioneered that style – you know, pouring your emotional biography into every single syllable you sing.) Her stage moves are painful, and she just looks odd half the time, like the love child of Carol Burnett and Marty Feldman. I still prefer her version of the title song to Sinatra’s. She sells the number; Frank just rents it out by the hour.

Halfway through the movie, the film itself seems surprised to find it has no plot. But that’s okay! We can make it up with set direction! Uh – how about characters? You want characters? Look at this Bobby DeNiro – ain’t he the thing, ain’t he? Yes, he’s a repellant self-centered oily creep who looks like he got a dishonorable discharge for carving up Italian hookers.

While doing some 40s music research in the iTunes library – it’s amazing what I have in there, mostly because I buy these old cheap compliation CDs off Amazon – I ran across “Boogie Woogie” from 1938, one of the first pieces of music I remember hearing. My dad had this on the RCA Victor label – silver with red letters. It was worn out when I first heard it, but I played it until nothing was left but a faint hiss indistinguishable from background radiation. Tonight I turned it up loud, and Gnat came in to dance. Wife came in to dance. Dog came in, looked at us, turned away: he may be getting too old to protest. This tune was incredibly popular – sold 4 million records – and I think it’s up there with “Rock Around the Clock” as one of breakout numbers that mainstreams something previously confined to the margins of mass culture. Modern ears get it right away, whereas most 30s pop strikes people today as Li’l Rascals music. It’s just cool. Oh to have been in a club in ’38 when the band stood up for the last recap of the theme.

Without all the subsequent war and atom-bomb stuff, of course.

Longtime readers know what I think of Hanna-Barbera – ten miles of crap forty fathoms deep, and that’s just the stuff that contains the words “Doo” and “Scooby.” On a whim the other day I bought a DVD of some “Classic” H-B cartoons, just so I could have a Jetsons episode entitled “A Date with Jet Screamer.” Not because I LOVE THIS EPISODE IT’S THE GR8TEST! - no. It’s an interesting piece of pop culture – Elvis filtered through a cartoon that satirized the near-future by setting it in the distant future. Or something like that. I like the Jetsons for the look – it’s the end of the googie / atom-age era - and ffor that wonderful Hoyt Curtin theme. (I still think it defies transcription.) But the show itself isn’t funny.

Plus, I haven’t been able to get that eek-opp-ork-ahah song out of my head for forty years. Some screen shots, now.

This worried me as a child. What happened to the continents? Was the future . . . windy?

Here’s the splash screen for this episode:

And this is why HB bites the wax tadpole hard. Warner Bros. releases old Looney Tunes, they do it right, with great respect. HB releases the Jetsons "Classic Episodes" and uses a splash screen that has that wretched Orbity character, who was added in the mid 80s.

Yes, there's a little Comic Book Guy in all of us. Moving right along:

Boy, they really sunk a lot of money into character design at H-B, eh? HEY FRED, GET OVER HERE AND PUT ON THIS COP UNIFORM.

On the other hand, you don’t see this in cartoons anymore.

If I’m low on energy, I prefer to play You Be Woody. All that’s required is that I assume that loose-limbed doll posture and say “You can’t fly, Buzz, you’re a toy,” whereupon Gnat runs away shouting to infininy an beyond! You Be Mojo Jojo, on the other hand, is far more exhausting. I do a pretty good Mojo; it’s not hard. It’s the Marvin Martian of modern cartoon voices – everyone has it in them. I am Mojo Jojo, and you are in my clutches! My clutches are where you are, as you can plainly see by the fact that I am clutching you in the aforementioned clutches! Then Gnat uses her laser-beam eyes to defeat me. The laser-beam eyes were added to the game after she discovered that punching daddee in the throat with both fists does, indeed, result in declutching. Today we played Mojo Jojo steals the Pink Pony and the Orange Care Bear, both of whom are rescued by Buddercup, for about six hours.

It’s a wonderful life. And I am thankful for it. Feast! See you Monday.

Amazon Honor SystemClick Here to PayLearn More