A special moment tonight: Gnat is introduced to Looney Tunes. I just got the second volume, and while I wish they grouped these collections by character, I understand their motivation; there’s very little in the 30s stuff I want. I would chew off my leg rather than watch “I Love To Singa” again, frankly, and I wouldn’t buy it. Yet I am glad I own it. Go figure.

Anyway. Where to start? If the collection included Hillbilly Hare, there would be no question. But it’s not out yet. So I choose “One Froggy Evening,” the famous cartoon that introduced Michigan J. Frog. Are you ready, child? Ready for a pitch-perfect example of the cartoonist’s art, a genre whose apogee – dare I say acme – was reached by the devilish talents scratching and painting in Termite Terrace? Behold, then, your first Looney Tune.

Oh I know this one. It’s a singing frog.

"What?" I stop the DVD. "When did you see this?"

I don’t know. But the frog sings and then he goes ribbbit.

I continue. The frog does, indeed, sing. The construction worker who has found him narrows his eyes in the classic Chuck Jones expression of someone so focused on the brilliance of his scheme he cannot see the consequences.

Now he thinks he’s rich.

Sure enough, dollar signs float around the screen, as the man envisions himself in a top hat and tux.

"So you’ve seen this one."


Hmm. Well. There are four discs. We watch the first Road Runner. Belly laughs. Absolute delight. And she prefers the Coyote as a comic character, too. “Because he’s funny.” And she’s right. Who is the Road Runner, anyway? An idiot bird blessed with speed, he personifies not ingenuity but luck. You can’t tell me that he somehow figured out how to avoid triggering the Coyote’s various traps. If anything, he didn’t set them off because he was light and / or fast, and I concede that the Coyote should have taken those things into consideration. But. But. We’re talking about a dog here, a canine capable of constructing explosive devices one day, pantomiming elaborate deceptions the next, to say nothing of operating – however inexpertly – complex machinery. If he’d been up against something stupid and slow, he would have been fat and happy.

Okay, well, something stupid and slow not watched over by a sheepdog.

In an alternate universe there is one Road Runner cartoon, because at the end the Coyote brought him down with a revolver at 30 paces, and roasted his meat for a light midafternoon snack. It would be a less amusing universe, but perhaps one more just. That said, I’ll take this one.

My education will be complete if she turns off a Road Runner cartoon because it’s scored by Bill Lava.

Thursday: offer up a small prayer, if you will. Not only do I have to finish next week’s work so it’s ready to file Friday morning, but Thursday night my wife has her monthly hen fest Bunco whatever, and that means Chuck E. Fargin’ Pizza. I do not know how I am going to do it all, but I will; no choice, really.

Assorted notes before I quit (it’s late)

The NFL indecency-whatever-hoo-hah flap makes me weary, because it’s more of the same: what’s the big deal / kids are watching! / kids shouldn’t be taught nekkid people are bad / save it for cable / Free Howard! / Libertine! / Prude! I come back to the same point: let’s just cut to the chase and put g0ats3 on the Jumbotron and get it over with. Everyone will be united in mute horror, and perhaps we can work backwards towards a public standard instead of debating every incremental move towards the glorious future where Peter Jennings does the news without any pants on. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky. I misspelled it to avoid links or googling. Just leave it be.) (It’s a really rude picture of a fellow whose terminal egress point appears to have been reconfigured along Chunnel dimensions. Okay? Okay. Trust me. Even the googled thumbnails make you throw up not just meals you’ve had, but meals you have not eaten, and are representative of the cuisine of nations you do not yet know exist.)

Target. There is a move afoot to boycott Target for revoking the exemption it gave to the Salvation Army. No more red kettles. A bad move for Target in PR terms, but they are not The Devil. I am not willing to disbelieve their rationale out of hand; I don’t think this was based in an antipathy to Christianity, as some have suggested. I think it’s the usual corporate mentality that seeks to avoid conflict, which is why this was announced many months ago. They hoped it would be forgotten by now. Oops.

Boycott them if you wish; it’s your choice, of course. But Target does have other philanthropic programs, including a relationship with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Why, one could make the argument that boycotting Target shows your indifference towards sick kids, just as Target's decision shows they don't care about the down and out. But I wouldn’t advise it.

Corporate philanthropy may be a PR gambit for some, and I'm sure it serves that purpose for Target as well. But the old parent company of Target was part of an movement launched in Minneapolis more than 50 years ago, an attempt to get all the big local companies to pony up 5 percent of their federally taxable income for charity. This was followed in 1978 by the “Keystone Program,” for companies that wanted to give between two and five percent. It spins off a lot of money, and I’ve known people in small non-profits whose organizations have survived on the money they got from the program. And while I might admit that the management might view the program as a good PR tool, I'm willing to believe that the people who execute the program have a mind towards doing Good Works. Nevertheless, if you wish to take your money to Wal-Mart, that’s your business. Just remember that Wal-Mart supports the United Way, which has had some controversy over Boy Scout funding, no? ARE YOU TURNING YOUR BACK ON THE BOY SCOUTS?

It never stops, in other words. There’s always something to tick you off; the tentacles of business and the non-profits are intimately intertwined. Pick any big shop and you'll find they fund something you like, and something you don't. That said: if I find that Target kicked out the Salvation Army for religious reasons, I’ll be peeved. Doesn’t mean I won’t buy my soap there. But it would chip away at that ephemeral thing called good will, the stuff companies often spend too fast without heed. I love Target, but I’d leave it in a second if someone did it better. So far no one within five miles of my house does it better. I'll be willing to go six if they do it really, really better, and they're near a mall and grocery store and all the other nodes I hit three times a week in my 90-minute chore window.

End result? I wrote out a check to the Salvation Army tonight. Figured out what I put in the kettles, and doubled it. They’re happy; Target’s happy; I don’t have to drive 20 miles to find a frickin’ Wal-Mart.

Note: I really, really don’t like Wal-Mart. If doubling down on a Salvation Army donation is the price I pay, it’s cheap. Anything to keep from seeing that banal yellow smiley face that sums up the 70s in a vacuous icon that makes Hello Kitty look like Munch's "Scream." Am I the only one who imagines a hole between the eyes and a red trickle? No? Then I’m among friends. Have a nice day.

Man, I’m tired. Done. See you tomorrow.


Amazon Honor SystemClick Here to PayLearn More