The family comes back tonight on a late plane, thus reconnecting me with humanity. Which is always a plus. After five days I’ve totally lost initiative and direction, and just wander around in between stabs at work.

I should be stabbing the 2nd novel revision now. More of a rewrite, really, since almost everything in the first part seems very wrong. Off. I didn’t know what I was doing; I just blasted ahead, and the mess requires total rewrites. I think it gets better but it’s rather disconcerting now.

The dog’s kept me company, as best as he can, which isn’t much; he keeps to his place on the floor in the sun, and rouses himself when food seems likely. I had four frozen pizzas while they were away; pathetic. Last night I took one out of the freezer, and saw the pepperoni was grey. Meat shouldn't be grey. For something stuffed with every preservative short of embalming fluid, it shouldn't be grey - unless it was uncured. I threw it away. Got out another.

Half grey. Well, I figured, it's freezer burn. Probably fine. Cooked it up. Took it out: The meat had not relinquished its zombie pallor. In the garbage.

So now I'm on number three, and it worked out fine. Had another last week, so that makes four, but only ate two. Tonight for supper I had one of those breaded chicken pucks on a bun I'd put in the freezer around Christmas, with some gawdawful steak-flavored potato chips I had to eat to remind myself never to buy them again.

I've punished myself enough; I think I can go back to salads and clever chicken dishes now.

How bad was this interval? I found myself sitting at my desk last night watching a video about an overaged albino Peter Pan:



. . . because I put "UFO" on my Netflix queue, and it arrived in the mail, and I wondered "now why did I do that?" Because it has a great theme? No; I have the theme in iTunes, along with all the incidental music, because everyone needs to stuff their computer with 14,000 items they will never listen to, ever, but feel compelled to own., rate, and download cover art for. Could it be I remembered it well from childhood? I did, but it was an unnerving show.

You know what? It's not bad. Hair style aside, Ed Straker is a hard dude. (The actor was anti-military protestor in real life. Apparently he learned nothing from the alien invasion.) I question the wisdom of putting a rocket-lauched suborbital plane on the end of a submarine, though. iNo, let's give it a thick medium to struggle through.

This is not about “Mad Men,” really, so don’t worry if you don’t watch. But I will say this:

I don’t know why I didn’t like it more than I should have. From all the reviews, and from a few conversations, I should’ve been impressed, but it had two elements - which I wouldn’t spoil here, since I spoil them elsewhere, that I just couldn’t get past. I would have inverted this episode with the last one, and end it with the image of Don Draper in the passenger seat, occasionally guiding the wheel for the creepy kid, who - in parallel with Sally’s event at the museum - had just Become a Man, because he was driving.

To be honest, it’s the office stuff that gets me. It’s not often one thinks this about a show, but it didn’t have enough advertising. The industry and its role in the culture was one of the things that brought many to the show, and I always wish there was more of that. I don’t care if Betty’s fat. I’d like to see more on that Mohawk campaign.

Anyway: Here’s an ad from 1960, the year in which the first season’s set:


Here’s a telephone ad from 1966, the year of season 5:

There’s a huge shift between those two styles. All those ads in the opening sequence are out of date. For a show about advertising, they might have explored that transition a bit more.

The Sixties is regarded as a time of great innovation in advertising, what with the Volkswagen ads, bold simple styles, counter-culture influences, and so on. It was smarter; I’ll give them that. It was clever, and flattered the audience. But I think the real golden ages were the 30s and the 50s - the former for the unbelievable design, something you could really exploit in those huge magazines; those things were the size of garage doors - and the latter for the mix of illustration and photography, and the mix of old-line traditional ads (behold the goodness of soup, painted with exquisite realism) and the modern style that could accommodate all sorts of innovations.

For example: here’s a mid-50s Formica ad. You might be able to get the reference:


It’s a direct swipe from the opening of Dragnet on the radio, which always ended “Your job: Find him.” Or catch him or stop him, as the case required. It looks busy and unfocused, which I suppose it was, but it requires involvement. You have to read it.

Also in last night’s episode were dueling Bond themes: in the movie theater, the opening of “Casino Royale,” which I haven’t been able to get out of my head the entire damned day. They’re coming after us, with guns! And knives! We’re running for our lives, spoken in a plummy British voice, concluding “have no fear, Bond is here.” Of course, trumpets and harpsichords. I’d link, but YouTube in its wisdom has removed the tune, it seems.

Then, “You Only Live Twice,” the best of all the Bond songs. (And you look down and think, oh, the dreaded YouTube Bleat. Sorry; I'm all out of everything today, and expect to be out of everything for most of the week. Just not feeling anything.)



But that’s not the one they used, is it? No. They used this one.



The bloom of that first chord, the way it settles into the second - wary, resigned, uneasy, but also majestic and remote - is the blueprint for just about everything John Barry would ever do, and when you add the strings playing at the top of their register before it settles into a beat, well. The theme is used several times, including one of those all-string sessions Barry loved, so he could draw out the melody. The only competitor for this one is "We Have All the Time in the World," which has three times the number of notes he'd be using 20 years later. There's a version of Satchmo singing it - one of the last things he did, I believe. Barry called it the best thing he ever did for a Bond movie.

As I know I’ve mentioned here before, "You Only Live Twice" was my first Bond movie; my dad took me to see it, perhaps to tell me The Ways of the World. It was the coolest thing I had ever heard, and the music was the most beguiling thing I’d ever heard in my life. That included the “Capsule in Space” sequence, the Bolero of Bond music. When you're ten or eleven, that was terrifying.

Would it be terrifying now? I doubt it. Kids who've watched the Harry Potter movie might well find it fakey and dumb and wonder: hey, how can the people down on earth see a TV picture of the space capsule getting eaten up? Are they watching the movie too? Do they have a camera up there?

Which reminds me: just as Gershwin did another Rhapsody, to the surprise of many who think there’s just one, in Blue, Barry did another piece of space music that sounds like a very early draft of “Capsule in Space” or later Bond music.

It’s in Midnight Cowboy. Really:



I think it's playing in the theater were Joe Buck is making some money.

Dad didn't take me to see that one.

Thanks, Dad.


Comic sins over there. I did upload the Matchbooks later yesterday; they're here if you came early and didn't return. See you around!







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