Ba-BOOM at 3:15 AM Saturday morning. Everyone woke up. Thunder. Or perhaps a lightning strike very close. Enormous sound - and since everyone was dead asleep, we didn’t hear it consciously, but man, it registered. Fascinating how that works: complete awareness of something that occurred while you slept. I faded off almost immediately, because it was raining, and my brain said “never mind; a one-off. Totally natural.”

Ba-boom! again, not as loud. Again: woke, noted, slept. I wish we had more thunderstorms this summer. Rain, yes. High damaging winds, sure. But cracks and peals and explosions and celestial detonations have been in short supply. Low drama summer so far.

Saturday daughter was going to see Monsters U with friends. Instead of her father. As she has always done with the Pixar summer movie. Ungrateful wretch.

“Ungrateful wretch,” I said as we drove off.

“DAD.” She knew I wasn’t serious. “I’ll still go see it with you.”

“It’s not the same. No, you go running around with your friends.”

“DAD.”

“I’ll just go eat worms.” Something my mother said when she was being self-pitying for a laugh. Sort of. No one loves me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms. It’s probably a song. Googling . . . why, yes. Lots of modern versions. Can’t find the original, if such a thing exists.

“Maybe I’ll just sit in the back of the theater.”

“That . . . would be weird.”

Of course, I had no intention of doing that. So I dropped her off - she ran ahead, thereby making it look as if she had somehow got to the theater all on her own - and I went in another door. Had two hours to kill by slow strangulation, and so I walked around Southdale, went to Trader Joe’s and Target and Cub, feeling very relaxed and calm and enjoying a long, slow afternoon of errands at 33 1/3rd. At Cub I was picking up some fizzy water she likes, and when I took out the bottle I did not notice that there was a box of bottles balanced on the bottles below. It was obscured by a sign. People had been taking them out of the lower box. When I took out one it destroyed the structural integrity of the stack and two bottles dropped, bounced up, and exploded. On me.

 

I was doused. Legs. Face. Shirt. The floor looked bad, too:

 

 

I put the bottles there so people didn't think someone had nicked an artery.

There's a big sign over the aisle: WALL OF VALUES. It's where they have stuff people want in large quantities at cheap prices. Spotting an employee, I walked over and said "You might want to get someone to clean up over at the Wall of Values."

"What?" he said, confused. He had no idea what I was talking about. The term "Wall of Values" meant nothing to them, I guess; they have their own name.

I tried rubbing the soda spatters off my leg, and to my surprise, they didn’t. Rub off. I was indelibly marked with either a rash or weak blood for the remainder of my shopping trip, which, I should note, was very short.

Sat in the car for 20 minutes in the parking lot waiting for the movie to be over, trying not to think about my wet shirt.

When she called she said that Monsters was sold out, and they’d seen something else.

Perhaps we’ll see it together after all. I let her know it’s okay if we don’t, and she sees it with friends. And that’s good. And I know she knows I want to see it with her, and that’s good, too.

As long as the theater is dark and no one sees her with, you know, a PARENT. That’s why it’s okay to watch Gravity Falls on Friday night with dad, because A) I enjoy it and it makes me laugh and it’s something we do together, and B) no one can see in the house because there are trees in front of the window.

Boring site notes; you can skip this unless you’re interested in behind-the-scenes stuff here at the Bleat, and lileks.com

Lint will now do triple-duty as bleat RSS, Tumblr thing, and a guide to all the updates. I got a tweet today from someone who was surprised to find me on Tumblr, after enjoying the site for so many years, and I couldn’t help but think: a lot of people who come and go on the site have no idea the Bleat exists.

It’s the strangest thing. I still meet people who have read my column for years and have no idea the website exists.

The audience is oddly fractured. Tumblrs are rare in my generation, for example. A lot of people don’t know what they are. It’s just a blog without much writing. A long scrolling thing of things. I use it as a feed for curious pieces of old advertising, shorn of its original context. Old-style blogs like this one are rare for the Tumblr demographic; I think they concluded that words are work and no one cares, which is why personal blogs have died out, and blogs devoted to particular subjects, or built around a pre-installed audience, chug along.

In a way, sites like this are archaic. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be modern.

If you’re wondering why I’m overhauling everything, it’s simple: site-wide consistency in page style, with innumerable variations for each subsection; Google fonts for a distinctive look that also reinforces whatever era I’m doing through typography; navigation bars at the bottom of every single page that link you back to the main subsection, or take you to the main page. And there’s something else: alternate navigation by subject, so you can peruse the site strictly in terms of advertising, or architecture, or other subjects.

Also: all images are being resized down, so the copy will be on the right instead of the bottom. This is a big deal, and has lead to weeping. I just finished overhauling the 30s site. Here’s the information for that folder:

If you’re asking how many of those items had to be rejiggered, replaced, redone, resized, and / or rewritten: every single one.

Anyway, here’s LINT, and this is where the RSS feed will live. If you don’t use RSS, you can bookmark it and check it daily for links to the Bleat, the Update, as well as whatever item I toss up between noon and two.

 
   

You didn’t see this very often; he rarely played a President.

 

 

But no, he’s not playing a Andrew Jackson. The opening sequence of the movie shows old pictures of presidents, but to avoid confusion they appear out of sequence with the names on the screen. Each actor gets two presidents. The idea, of course, is that these old presidents are now revered, when each probably clawed his way up to power by means both dire and appalling, and no one is really any good. Everyone was, and is, and shall be, ethically compromised. It’s just a matter of making sure that the least ethically compromised person with the best ideas is the one who wins.

How do I suspect that’s the case with this movie? Because:

 

 

I always found his cynicism and patrician posturing tiresome. At least in the interviews. Never made it through one of the books, although I’m sure they have their points. He seemed to appeal to people who shared the cynicism and contempt for America, but still wanted to hang out with the Kennedys.

It’s a story about two men vying for the nomination at a convention of The Unnamed Party, although it’s probably the Dems, since the intellectual candidate is Adlai Stevenson. (Henry Fonda.) And there's his aide, the always-good Kevin McCarthy.

 

 

The goat on the right is a reporter, and as with many of these movies you don't know if he was a real reporter, or an actor. He's missing a tooth, so I'm inclined to believe the former.

 

 

Howard K. Smith's in the film somewhere, too - which leads to this peculiar imdb entry.

 

 

Is he playing a character named Howard K. Smith? Was he always playing one?


The other candidate is introduced on a TV screen, with Big Brother overtones:

 

 

And then we see he’s kinda-sorta JFK-like:

 

 

But once he starts talking, brother, we know what he’s all about:

 

 

Either Vidal is exaggerating the split within the Democratic Party at the time, or pretending the split was wide to create the tension of an open convention, I don’t know, or care. From the distance of several decades it seems peculiar that the Cantwell character would seek the Democratic nod. Some say that the Cantwell character was modeled somewht on JFK, given his staunch anti-communist rhetoric, but the character has much more Tailgunner in him than PT skipper.

In case you have any doubt about Cantwell being Bad, a young man comes up to Joe McNixon and babbles about communists and flouride:

 

 

The credits list him as “zealot.”

Say, notice that sign? Joe CANTWELL - no significance there - is our GOLDEN BOY. They actually had signs like that? Well, the movie's full of these slogans:In the 50s and 60s, it seems, everyone had to have a slogan based on his name.

 

Worst slogan in campaign history: We all Bet FINS Merwin Wins. Trips right off the tongue, makes instant sense.

 

 

But how do we get across the fact that our guy is smart?

 

 

A crusty old straight-talking former president who might as well have introduced himself as S. Harry Mantru comes into the picture to create tremendous suspense - who will he endorse, and why? He’s also suffering from advanced cancer of the plot, and you almost expect him to say “Doctors say I won’t last through the third act.”

Everyone’s better than their lines, and the thing jogs along as you’d expect. Finally, this guy:

 

 

Shelley Berman. He has dirt on the Joe McCarthy president. What sort? Well, since the evil candidate is a self-professed Christian who’s happily married, what do you think? Of course: HOMODIRT. Will the saintly-but-morally-challenged Intellectual (he cheats on his wife) use the dirt to knock out his opponant, who, after all, has a dossier on him, accusing him of manic-depressive episodes?

You’re biting your nails, aren’t you.

What I love was the b&w early 60s look, the Serious Tone of the New Type of Political Movie. “Advise and Consent” was the subject of a Life profile that asked whether it was, er, non-patriotic; in that one, Henry Fonda’s trying to get confirmed as Secretary of State. In this one, made two years later, Fonda is the Secretary of State, running for president. Later the same year, he’s in “Fail Safe,” where he is the President. Quite the parallel career.

--

Matchbooks right now. Strib blog resumes, and of course Tumblr down the road. Have a fine day!

 

 
   
 

 
   
 
 
   
 
 
     
 
 
   
     
 
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