As I mentioned yesterday, I have double extra bonus work this week, combined with family obligations, so it’ll be meal gruel for the next few days. But since this is voting week, I cannot just bug out and leave the page empty. Post something, that’s the rule.

How about  . . . the death of Peter Boyle? I never watched an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, since the title of the show indicated that my opinion had already been factored in or dismissed as an anomaly. So I never saw his performance, invariably described as “crusty.” But I saw his wonderful turn on the X-Files, saw him in many 70s movies that left no impression, and of course reveled in the Young Frankenstein movie. The scene for which he may be justly remembered is one of the funniest moments in cinema: the
Puttin’ on the Ritz dance. His performance aside – a cruel thing to note in an obit, but I’ve nothing to add, and there’s nothing to add; it’s just flat plain perfectly hilarious – you have to wonder whether such a scene would be possible these days. It requires knowledge about certain things – the song itself, the conventions & cliches of the James Whale aesthetic, the top-hat-and-tails genre. Your average kid would probably find it funny today, but the percentage who’d get “Rockefellers walk with sticks” would be lower than the percentage who understood the line when the movie was released. Even when Taco covered the song it was a mystery.

Obit #2: a few weeks ago I made disparaging remarks about the Green Lantern; this was not meant to disparage his creator, who has died – but not before he hit 91.  (via Boing.) He was part of an advertising team that birthed the Pillsbury Doughboy, an ingeniously conceived icon whose implications are best not considered. (What separates him from the other dough? Self-awareness, upright stance, a  modicum of shame [he clothes his head and neck] and an easy, ingratiating rapport with the meat-giants who feast on his kin. What was his goal, exactly? Perhaps he wanted to shape our conceptions of dough – not what it was, but what it could be. Perhaps – and more likely, really – he had found himself come to life, realized that a horrible life of experimentation and confinement awaited, and deftly disarmed the Meat Giants by tempting them with delicious biscuits and sugar-drenched rolls. We can only imagine him alone at night, his day’s work done, trying to shape dough into the form of a companion, and breathing into its mouth. Failure; every time, failure. He wept small clear perfect tears, and they tasted like beer.)

It takes a lot for me to dislike a Michael Mann film  - so much that it’s never happened. But I came close. Watched “Miami Vice,” the unrated version, which contains a few more murky scenes and passages of mumbly dialogue, as well as a cover version of “In the Air Tonight,” a song in which you can actually detect the exact moment Phil Collins’ solo career began. (BUH buh buh buh buh buh buhbuh BUHBUHBUH) Anyway:  I found it completely unengrossing. It had no connection to the old show whatsoever, which seems rather strange, considering the name. I gather it wasn’t called “Tropical Sin” for a reason. I did enjoy the casting of the secondary characters, which was done by watching one weekend of HBO. First we meet Sgt. Hauk from “The Wire,” who’s driving a speedboat; then they get a call from Sol on Deadwood, followed by a meeting with Julius Caesar from “Rome.” I expected Larry David and Brian Benben to show up in a shootout. I will grant the original nature and piercing insights of the plot – working your way up the ladder of the drug business involves violence and moral compromises, particularly if one is undercover – but the movie had nothing to add. It’s not like Edward James Olmos in unavailable.

As long as we’re on the subject: “Heat” was a fine movie, but it’s not
"Citizen Kane." “Ronin” is better.

This is worthy of a good long hmmmmm. Cogitation and discussion, at the least. A reminder that the most important news of the day often appears below the surface, and may not concern whether Britney wore underwear last night.

So that’s it for today, it seems. I accomplished a few other things – wrapper presents, cut a Diner, wrote two columns, helped Gnat with piano and homework (Nancy's fish cost 47 cents, and Ahmed's fish cost 56 cents, in case you were curious) and took a big meaty whack at the 30-incher due Friday morning. But more work remains, and tomorrow is shaping up as an all-time king-hell work day: two columns, Chuck E., another small thing I forgot to do, and the 30 incher, plus a Hewitt appearance. Hey, it’s all a day in the life of a Noted Columnist!

Note: Since tomorrow's Diner is part two of a three-part series, those who missed part one due to bandwidth issues have a limited opportunity to grab it here. I hope to have a place for all three episodes by next Friday.

Thanks for your patience & tolerance of Weak Bleat Thursday, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

And vote! Again! You can vote daily. Remember, my goal isn’t to win for the sake of winning an award, it’s to beat a blog sponsored by Time, and get my own paper to consider running a link to my site. Thanks. )