|Well, well. Hello everyone. Hello new readers who came here yesterday after this site won the Washington Post blog award for “Most Original,” and thought: meh. Is it always like this? Usually, yes. Often worse. But thanks for trying the Bleat again, and welcome to Tuesday, where I fob off screen grabs to take the place of a substantial contribution to the internet. Monday night I have two columns due, you see, and alas paying work always shoulders aside the volunteer material. But today we have something besides grainy grabs of movies you’ll never see – we have a fascinatingly prescient soundbite that directly reflects this tumultuous election year.
I should also note that my child has morphed into some strange evil creature and is shrieking like a howler monkey who ate six pounds of jalapenos. Rather: a howler monkey who ate six pounds of jalapenos 12 hours ago. Let me investigate.
Back. Nothing serious. She had a red-letter day: she got her hands on the Barbie Princess & the Pauper computer game. In the female toddler set, this is like getting Half-Life 2, without the head crabs. (As far as I know, anyway; she’s only played half the game.) It’s a bit more challenging than the previous Barbie computer games, but I am pleased to report that my four-year old mastered it without help. Figured out the interface, the objectives, how to talk to characters, and how to drive daddy crazy by clicking on the icon that made Barbie say “here, kitty kitty” over and over and OVER again.
This game was a reward for staying in her bed all night. We’ve had problems with this lately. So I bought the game, showed her the disk, and said she could play it tomorrow if she stayed in her bed.
She wanted to sleep with the box. I said this was fine.
Three times she got up. Each time I hear her feet hit the floor; each time I went up the stairs for paternal interdiction. Each time she was headed for the master bedroom with the box in her hands. I turned her back. Each time she had an excuse: “I dreamed Peef was a gorilla.” Well, join the club. The next time: “It’s too dark.” It’s always too dark. I could swab the walls with luminescent paint and hang Kliegl lights from the ceiling and it would be too dark. The third time: vague ineffectual pleas. So I laid down for a moment.
Woke up four hours later. It was dark. She’s out – and she’s clutching the box. My little gamer.
I’m standing in the middle of the used CD store the other day. The clerk is playing “Yes,” a band whose name I always preferred to answer in the negative. “Roundabout” comes on. Haven’t heard this one in years, actually. Jon Anderson sings the famous line: “In around the lake / Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there.” As opposed to what? Doing the fargin' Macarena? Standing there is pretty much the job description for mountains. Back in the car; the radio is playing “Stand Back,” by Stevie Nicks. Haven’t heard this in years, either. Didn’t miss it. Lyrics:
Stand back stand back
In the middle of my room
I did not hear from you
It’s alright it’s alright
To be standing in a line
Standing in a line
I would cry
I gather it’s a rather big room. Maybe if she moved towards the walls? Let me get this straight: the person to whom the song is addressed is being advised to stand back, presumably because he did not project his voice sufficiently to reach the middle of her room, which has the dimensions and acoustical properties of the Astrodome. But it is acceptable to be queued for an indistinct objective, in case you were curious.
Hash and coke did more to ruin modern music than any other drug. Heroin made the musicians useless – before they aspirated the vomit they usually set it down on magnetic tape. Booze could be a force for good or ill, depending. Ecstasy gave us those interminable club-thumping mixes, which I often like. Amphetamine culture gave us the early Who. But white wine and reefer and coke gave us the Eagles, and that was the beginning of the End of Days. Will anyone connect with this crap in 50 years? (Short answer: no)
Weekend Noir feature: “Scarlet Screet,” directed by Fritz Lang. It’s rather - Langorous! Hah hah! Of course, it’s regarded as a Noir Classic, like most small movies with a few saving graces. Like every other movie I’ve watched lately, it has our boy Dan Duryea. I am hesitant to rewatch the Star Wars trilogy lest he show up, digitally inserted, into the Cantina sequence. It has some arty shots:
It’s Soundstage Courtroom! Your honor, if I may dramatically illuminate the witness? You may.
What I really like are period details like this:
Now that’s a newspaper headline. Has it all. You know the “Ledger” was a serious sober paper; otherwise it would have said “ICE-PICK MANIAC TO FRY.”
But mostly, well, eh. It’s slow. Edward G. Robinson is good, but when he’s acting in power-conservation mode, leaving his face slack and unexpressive, you keep expecting him to say “Ribbit.” I’ve never been too jazzed about Lang’s Hollywood work; something’s missing. He was the John Woo of his day, perhaps. There was, however, a nice little reward for students of New York at the end.
I knew exactly where they took this shot. That’s Bond's in the bacground, a clothier whose famous building still stands, albeit smothered with billboards. The word “Trouser Suits” gave it away, as it usually does in old Times Square.
Also watched “Species,” for no reason I can recall, aside from the spectacular unholstered bosom of Natasha. Henstridge, who is otherwise untroubled by the burdens of talent. Well, it has a great roving band of Speciesbusters – Al Molina in full eager genial bug-eyed form; Forrest Whittaker, auditioning for the role of “Sleepy” in the next “Snow White” remake; bad-boy Michael Madsen, and Ghandi. It had one amusing bit of dialogue. The evil alien she-beast has been checked into a hospital after a car wreck. A bystander who was runner-up in the Bill Pullman lookalike contest arranges to have her medical bills taken care of. Here’s the dialogue: the saucy and/or brassy head nurse is reading the information from the computer. Wait for it.
As for Whip Hubley, the actor who played this character, he was in another notable series.
Get it? GET IT? Ha ha! It’s funny because he flip-flops, and –
Aw, never mind. Sorry; I can’t provide shallow analysis every day. Long time patrons of this site know that I have only one promise: I’ll disappoint everyone eventually.
Tomorrow: a perfidious French children’s book. See you then.
(Oh, and there’s a new Fence. Hit the link on the left.)