Incredible! Hot today. Wrote outside; drove with the windows down. Felt like singing; didn't, since I like my neighbors. No school, for reasons not explained to us lowly consumers, so Natalie enjoyed a day that felt like a letter from early September, delayed in the mail.

Ten tons of stuff today, what with the various sites and this and other things; let's get to it.

Forgot the all-important shots from Saturday’s provisioning run. A trip to Target yielded little – the selection is too careful, too finely calibrated to allow odd and bizarre products like Frank’s Sulfured Yams. But for some reason, something I’d seen every week for years suddenly looked odd. It’s the Baby Dismemberment Station:

Attach stylized smoking pipes to torso here. Do not leave torso unattended.

At Menards – where you save big money – I was moved by the kind weather and a sudden burst of charity to pop for a bird-food feeder, if only to give the squirrels something else to try to consume. The main reason? I loved the idea of pop-in suet cartridges. They came in a variety of flavors, and had happy labels designed to conceal the vomitous mass inside:

Birds will walk erect in shoes andwalk around red-faced picking fights! I’d pay good money to poison such unnatural things, but I assume it’s an exaggeration.

This is just too depressing:

Go away, cat. Sweet Otto Mesmer, just stop it. 

Here's a small fragment of popular culture that bothered me a lot when I was a kid: the whinny on the laugh-track. I was testing out the Netflix Movies-on-Demand feature the other day, and was enjoying it right up to the minute my internet did its twice-every-three-minute drop out. I tested it on the first thing on the page, which was the Munsters. As much as I like Fred Gynne's Herman, I can't stand the show. The Addams Family was superior in every single way, from characters to music. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be Gomez, really? Cheerful, rich, a man of leisure, besotted with his wife, loving father, cigar aficionado. Morticia was a Goth sylph; Lurch a man of breeding and refinement. The Munsters had Lily, who looked like a sheet draped over general store stove with a dime-store wig on top.

This is no slight against Yvonne deCarlo.

Yes, that John Williams. He was a very young man at the time.

Anyway. Before the internet left me for an hour or so, I heard something on the laugh track that used to bug me as a kid. It was on all the laugh tracks, it seemed, and it was the equivalent of the car-crash HYONK that sounded in between the squealing tires and the impact sound. It was the mysterious whinny.

It’s right after “masquerade party” in this 7-second clip. The laughter starts, and there’s a high two-note sound that could be a really stoned horse laughing through his nose.

Tell me you hear it too:

I recognized this as a kid, so I imagine adults noticed it as well. Everyone knew the laugh track was an empty thing, a gargle of a robot, a bucket of audio rubble strewn to mask your silence. No one cared! It makes you wonder what those shows would have been like without a laugh track, really – given that everyone paused after a “punchline,” it might make the shows look relaxed and conversational. Since nothing anyone said was very funny, it might turn them all into mild, leisurely soap operas in which nothing bad ever happened.

Speaking of bad things happening: here’s this week’s Black and White movie, the Bleat’s weekly look at films without color. Or, as the French cineasts call the genre, cinema sans couleur. (They have a way with the language, non? Especially French.) I ordered this one on the basis of overwhelming imdb reviews – a knockout, a lost noir classic, a major surprise, a masterwork of the genre, and so on. I was all set to enjoy it. Took me about 15 minutes to become completely disenchanted. It’s a bore. Ah, but what is this movie of which I speak?


Based it is which on book the wrote who, and it produced who?  

You’re wondering if these are the Japanese credits. No. They roll from top to bottom. Because it’s just that kind of a movie. Scroll Hard, as Dewey Cox might say.  It begins with a young woman running down the road at night, trying to hitch a ride out of the picture. Recognize?

Cloris Leachman. She did escape, and won an Oscar. But before that she had to stick around for a few more scenes, so she met the hero, Mike Hammer. I’ve never been a Hanmer fan, and this movie may explain why there wasn’t a big long series of two-fisted Hammer movies. It makes no sense; the plot moves like turtle going up a down escalator, and the hero is a dick. A “bedroom dick,” to be specific, a window-peeper, a private detective who likes to sneer while slapping guys around. He does have all the modern tools of the trade, like a built-in answering machine:

Occasionally the movie lurches to life when Mario from Donkey Kong springs on the scene and single-handedly founds the Italian-American Embarrassment Society. (Brief flash; mouse over for controls.)




Va va voom! And again:






Aaaand again:




The movie ends with stolen nuclear material so potent it sets previously unknown actresses on fire, and causes a beach house to EXPLODE from sheer nuclearness. Utter dreck.

Well, that will do for today. Except for the Tuesday update - Comic Covers starts the Great Scott! series. Daily remarks at and the new, polarizing, off-putting Screedblog. It's still in beta, by which I mean I'm still figuring out what to do with it, but it'll be a going concern for the next few years. I need it. Whether anyone else does isn't the issue. Enjoy the day!