Welcome to the new year! Thank our ever-giving friend, the Perpetuity Plant:
The Perpetuity Plant? That’s from a 1948 Sunday Tribune, and I’m at a loss to explain why the cartoonist drew that. Everyone’s tired of a bare-nekkid infant running in as Old Man Previous Year slumps towards the exit, bearing his hourglass and tattered sash, but the Perpetuity Plant never caught on. For one thing, you wonder what it lives on, and the answer is simple: Blood and Tears, or perhaps the finite exhalations of us all.
Perhaps he rejected “Continuity Quilt,” which somehow knitted itself a new panel every month, or the Ongoing Opossum, which birthed 12 kits at the end of every year. Or 31 at the end of every month. No, that wouldn’t work. You’d have to drown three every February. Two in a leap year.
Difficult to get back to the rigors of real life; tomorrow I expect to be fully operational. Two weeks of “vacation” – meaning, I don’t have to get up in the morning and hurry the child down to the bus stop – have destroyed my sleep schedule, and I have fully reverted to the feral college state. At least now I stay up doing something. What did any of us do before the internet and cable TV? The only entertainment options available at 1:30 AM were headphone-friendly records (the voices are going from left to right and back again! These guys had to be high doing this, you know it) or those quaint slabs of paper called “books.”
I have been reading. Enjoying Michael Palin’s 1967-1979 diaries, a Christmas gift. Strikes you as a decent and smart fellow who's 19% smarter than most of the people in his life, and 4% less smart than he probably thinks he is, but he's in his 20s, after all. You forget how young they were when they did Python. This entry from the shooting of the second season made me smile:
“Monday, May 11th, Torquay. Our hotel, the Gleneagles, was a little out of Torquay, overlooking a beautiful little cove with plenty of trees around. . . . Mr. Sinclair, the proprietor, seemed to view us from the start as a colossal inconvenience, and when we arrived back from Brixham, at 12:30, having watched the night filming, he just stood and looked at us with a look of self-righteous resentment, of tacit accusation, that I had not seen since my father waited up for me fifteen years ago. Graham tentatively asked for a brandy – the idea was dismissed, and that night, our first in Torquay, we decided to move out of the Gleneagles.”
Cleese stayed, and good thing he did. He never forgot Mr. Sinclair, and put him to good use.
Anyway. Movies, scanning, web design, old radio shows, archiving – it’s been a productive week behind the scenes, and will soon result in a TOTAL REALIGNMENT of my web existence. Sort of. The pieces will dribble out over the next few weeks. For now, the last days of buzz.mn, and the last days of the Bleat as we know it. Trust me, everything you like will remain the same, and the new stuff will be cool.
Friday we drove out to Natalie’s piano teacher’s house for a Hootenanny. A Jamboree. She invited a few other students & families and a couple who were professional musicians, intending to have a night of music after dinner. The guy-half of the non-student couple was a guitar instructor of great skill, and his presence kept everything from falling apart into a mash of amateur thrashing. We ran through the staples and the standards, and I found myself having one (1) hell of a time playing a solo on “Sweet Home Alabama,” of all things. The distortion pedal made it all sound more accomplished than it was; it’s the beer goggles of pedals. The kids took turns at the mike; Natalie sang, of all things, “Sk8ter Boi,” and some song about a street of broken dreams. She has a lovely voice, but what really warmed the ventricle-cockles was the nerve she worked up to take the mike. Ah, the smile on her face when she was done, and everyone clapped.
I don’t know if this sounds right, but I was glad to see her a bit nervous to take the mike, and so happy to see others respond. It means she doesn’t operate under the assumption that THE WORLD wants to sit back in awe and admiration of anything she chooses to do. Confidence is one thing, but solipsistic assumptions are another. I also noted how she shot me a look to see how I was responding, which told me she doesn’t think my approval is automatic. Good. I don’t stint on the praise and encouragement, but it’s not handed out like fliers on a New York streetcorner, either.
This description of the old radio show “X Minus One” says:
"Wild plots include crazed computers take over and destroy human life; criminals control androids; empty automated houses; robot wives; astronauts floating in space due to a rocket malfunction; and (of course) atomic weapons destroying the world!" (emphasis added)
That’s what I got when I googled “x minus one astronauts floating.” I was looking for a particular episode. I have them all, but they’re not given helpful titles like “Floating Astronauts Who Will Probably Die,” but standard 50s sci-fi names like “The Moon is a Cold Dinner” or “So Far the Stars” or “Sing Now, Jupiter.” So I resigned myself to going through the episode list, one at a time.
It’s not there.
Why should I care? Because of this:
It’s from the latest Acme Novelty Library, my favorite modern “graphic fiction” – oh, hell, comic book. Bought #19 Saturday at Big Brain Comics, a place where I could set up base camp and stay for weeks. I remember buying the first one in a comic book store in Uptown, a very long time ago; I remember laughing to the point of tears and sideaches with The Dark Chef after the Diner over the life of Jimmy Corrigan. The last one, aside from a tiresome political cartoon on the back cover, is probably the best thing he’s done in years. (And even the ad is an excellent parody of old ads.) Half the story is set in the 50s, and when I saw those few lines of radio-show dialogue I recognized them right away. So, just to do my part for the handful of people likewise tormented by inconclusive googling: “Chris Ware X Minus One” brought you here, You’re not alone!
Turns out it was a Dimension X episode. The audio snippet for the picture above:
Here's the next panel:
The full episode can be heard here.
Unfortunately, this episode aired in 1951, and the comic takes place in the mid 50s. Ware’s arrogant belief that we will accept his chronological narrative, bolstered with his use of date-specific footnotes, presumes a certain ignorance on the reader’s part. No doubt his legions of sycophants will rush to his defense.
Just kidding. I was channeling the Great Shorpy Comments Skirmish of the weekend, where my presence managed to drag down the discussion to the Merits of Me, a very tiresome subject. It’s here; read from the bottom up. The Anonymous Tipster overreached at the end, and managed to blow off both legs, which almost suggests he was just trolling and wanted to see how I'd respond to a confident assertion that 2 + 2 -= 5.
Hope you had a fine weekend; this will be an interesting week here, if all goes well. There will be a few things up at buzz.mn this week, and of course all the usual updates here. Like the matchbook. Love those matchbooks