At the coffee shop, waiting for my daughter to finish karate. There’s an old lady here who fell asleep with her finger up her nose, and the old guy I used to see in Dinkytown in college, reading a book of Gary Snyder poems. Wednesdays are now confirmed as a time loop, but I know I’m not repeating myself unless I start writing about Shelly quotes and posting album art.

I got strange new respect at the office when everyone learned that my daughter could manipulate enormous slabs of cement with her mind, over a distance of several miles.

That’s what I wrote this morning upon waking, keen on keeping that dream-detail from evaporating. I used to write down dreams with regularity, and it made for interesting reading: some of the dreams I could still recall, only because I’d saved them. Nowadays I only write something down if it’s amusing, or, in the confused moments of early waking, seems profound or useful. There’s a note on a pad from a few weeks ago, from a dream where I was debating someone who had made some ridiculous statements about foreign leaders. I wrote:

“Yeah, that’s as neutral as Putin.”

I had a rap-lyric boastfulness about it. I’m neutral like Putin.

Listening to the BBC today, because the accents make me feel smart. Except when the announcer appears to be an utter ninny. There was an interview with a fellow about the coup in the Maldives - the BBC radio is the place where you go to discover there was a coup in the Maldives - and she asked if this was a coup d’etat, or a resignation, or something else.

“It would appear to be a coup d’etat,” said the guest, “as the president was forced to resign, by the army, with guns at his head.”

Yes, that would be a coup d’etat. Then she asked “hasn’t there been demonstrations protesting the government for some time?” Here’s where you detect the ludicrous absurdity of the Objective Stance: well, there’s another side, isn’t there? Yes, and it’s a rent-a-mob cobbled together by the remnants of the faction that held power for 30 years. On the other hand, World Have Your Say, a hit-or-miss show that runs at noon, had some harrowing clips from Syria, including a fellow who was wondering where the Americans were. It's interesting how they never ask why Russia and China are helping the regime, and wondering why they don't stop.


Watched a movie that didn’t warrant inclusion in B&W World; too few noirish visuals.


Always a good sign when the smooth clever business tycoon is Vincent Price:



He's always good, but I prefer the non-creepy roles. It also has William Bendix. He’s usually a galoot or a gorilla, or a comic meathead as in “The Life of Riley.” What sort of cliche does he play here?


Hey, he's a guy what has brains! Glasses! Chess! But he’s all cop, and about as hard-boiled as they get, trying to track down the details that might send away the son of his old friend. That would be Edmund O’Brien, who I also like; the man could communicate that edge of WTF where the fear almost takes over. He’s one of those solid types who had no movie-star sheen - you couldn’t see him doing a romance pic or starring as the lead in a great drama, but he ended up as the lead man in a number of fine little mysteries.

By the way: the phrase “Life of Riley” has mystified me, and millions, for years. It’s a carefree happy luxurious existence. But who the hell was Riley? When did ease and comfort come to be associated an Irishman? Wikipedia:

The expression, "Living the life of Riley" suggests an ideal contented life, possibly living on someone else's money, time or work. Rather than a negative freeloading or golddigging aspect, it implies that someone is kept or advantaged. The expression was popular in the 1880s, a time when James Whitcomb Riley's poems depicted the comforts of a prosperous home life,[1] but it could have an Irish origin -- after the Reilly clan consolidated its hold on County Cavan, they minted their own money, accepted as legal tender even in England. These coins, called “O'Reillys” and “Reilly's” became synonymous with a monied person, and a gentleman freely spending was “living on his Reillys.”

Possibly. The term was used sarcastically for the radio show, since the Riley’s lot was hardly grand. He was a working stiff, he did okay, he loved his family, but got into scrapes. Think: Kramden. Flintstone. Except Riley got there first.

I hear it now and then on the old-time radio channel, and I’m always amazed at how they worked an undertaker into every episode. Digger O’Dell was a popular character, but I didn’t know this:

The program was broadcast live with a studio audience, most of whom were not aware Brown played both characters (Gillis and Digger.) As a result, when Digger delivered his first line, it was usually greeted with howls of laughter and applause from surprised audience members.

Not only would modern audiences not understand why the reaction was so uproarious, audiences at the time at home might not get it. Okay, it's Digger, but it's not that funny.

People did laugh at the funny parts, though, and it was genuine. Modern audiences would sit stone-faced through much of it - a field of corn, dusted with puns and musty cultural cliches. Humor is fruit. It doesn't keep.

Bonus: the series was originally conceived as a vehicle for Groucho Marx. It was co-developed by Gummo. When it went to TV, the role was played for a year . . . by Jackie Gleason.

Anyway. The last scene of "The Web" - beautiful, stark, monumental New York.


Today: a new batch of stuff at Ballyhoo; I hope you’re enjoying this as much as I am. It’s easy to forget that movies of the era were more than jerky comedies, but big productions with foreign locales, elaborate costumes, and were shown pristine, glowing in the dark. It's HERE! See you around.










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