What’s today’s excuse for a shorter Bleat in a week of shorter, scattershot efforts? Spin the wheel . . . houseguest! Father-in-law in town. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing. There’s whatever I have above the fold, then a collection of radio music cues, an odd commercial, and a link off to the WW2 Advertising site for three pages, and the column, and Tumblr. FREE. All of it FREE.
I’m an idiot.
Hot day. Really: shorts and AC. You’re grateful; you never thought you’d see this again this year. You don’t expect it to be like this tomorrow, but if it is, you’re content. If it’s not like that on Monday, you’re annoyed. That was it? Today’s weather always has a way of ruining yesterday, if you think about it. So we don’t.
Walked the dog, and he dragged and panted. Can’t wait until he meets snow for the first time. Snow is going to be AMAZING. Filed a column; did an interview for the weekend paper; looked at a chapter of the next novel to see how much revising it needed. Top to bottom, port to starboard, tip of the stack to the keel?
Had to change one sentence. I know the book is going to hit a slog point about a third of the way in, I can remember the time when I was ripping things up and starting again, but at least I did that then. The front part of the book takes off very fast, and it’s everything I want it to be. If the last week is any indication (shortish Bleats because I’ve been revising at night) it’ll be done in a month.
I was talking about old hotels yesterday; one more ad from the 1921 industry journal. Just some hotels.
The Baltimore went down in '39; a tribute site here. The Muehleback is still around in modified form. The Lincoln:
What always impresses me about these old places is their enormity. Even by modern standards, they look huge. They always ended up sad and bereft - either a bum-bin that was knocked down for urban renewal, or a place that stood empty until someone made it into an old-folks home. I always wonder about people in medium-size towns who ended up checking into the downtown hotel and staying there for the rest of their lives. Hotel rooms aren’t meant to be permanent places. The only people who really occupied them in the past were the ones who went there day in, day out, knew where everything was, knew how to jiggle the handle and how to hit the window frame with the palm of your hand to open it up. The maids. They’re the only true residents of a hotel room, and they never sleep there.
Deep, man! Okay, I’ll stop. Column to write. But first:
TV review follows; if you don't care, skip down to Listen.
Do you have Netflix? Ah, lots of hands. Do you enjoy modern cartoons? Okay, not so many hands. Oh, you might like old Simpsons, and you love the classic Warner Brothers, and if you're an animation geek you’re probably awaiting a new Blu-ray master of the Classic Walter Lanz Chilly WIlly series. You can debate Stalling vs. Sharples. But you regard a lot of modern animation as ragged, ugly, profane, infantile, and aimed at people who seem to speak a different cultural language. So you might not be the target market for a cartoon series about a horse who takes a lot of hallucinogenic drugs.
But a horse who, while writing his memoirs, spends a lot of time choosing the right font, and chuckles indulgently “Oh comic sans, go home. You’re drunk.” A horse whose publisher, Penguin, consists of one person, a penguin. A nervous, impoverished penguin on the brink of bankruptcy. Whose agent - and former girlfriend - is a nastyType-A cat. Who’s in love with his biographer, a Vietnamese young woman. Who, alas, is engaged to his professional rival, who is a dog. It all makes sense right away, believe it or not; that’s just what this world is. People and animals. It’s completely normal for a horse to star in a popular mid-80s-to-early-90s sitcom called, of course, “Horsin’ Around,” in which he’s a surrogate dad for two wisecracking foundlings.
Everyone seems to agree that “Bojack Horseman” had a predictable start that suggested a run of one-off eps with snark and pop-culture references and a few celebrity voices and the usual Adult-Swim vibe, where nothing matters and everything is beneath contempt - except for you, you smart discerning viewer who gets all the jokes and understands why the bad jokes are supposed to be bad! That’s what I get from the reviews here and there. Some people bailed early, because a show about a selfish, narcissistic horse - more like Bojerk, am I right? Huh? - is just too high-concept, and you think that’s the joke, period.
Well, I liked it from the start. It’s possible I’m fluffing up my initial impressions, but it made me laugh, I loved the opening credits, the 80s / 90s references, and there was a hint of pathos. Of course we were supposed to enjoy Bojack’s heedless jerkiness, but we were also supposed to like him - and not because he was cool, or awesome, or didn’t care about anything, but because he was missing something, and he knew it.
About those credits.
The Warhol paintings over the bed. (There’s a fake Hockney in another room.) The staring face passing through another empty day in which people are doing things, not just existing. The empty party. The Mad-Men fall, where his snout does a slight movement that shows how little he cares about the plunge, the Sunset-Boulevard bit with the pool with Diane, his biographer, alarmed and concerned, and his arch-rival Mr. Peanutbutter interested as a dog would be in such a thing. And then the sax honks out horse noises and none of it was real.
I thought it was clever and I liked it. That’s all.
As the episodes proceeded, however, it turned into something else. The plots started echoing down subsequent episodes, obliquely or directly; throwaway lines bloomed into plot points or just good call-backs; the characters got room to breath, and their stories explained them and gave them weight. The penultimate episode, “Downer Ending,” was the payoff, and it was harsh business. Character-takes-drugs-and-has-revelations is a cheap trope, but the ten-minute hallucination - a gift for animation fans, not for the quality, but the references - was funny, harrowing, inventive, and went straight for the kick in the heart. It was the last thing you expected the show to end up doing, but it was all there from the start.
It’s not for everyone; there’s lots of cussing, and it gets silly now and then, and it’s a cartoon. It’s not Tolstoy. It’s a cartoon about a talking horse who had a sitcom. The first half of the series is fun; the second half is superb. I almost wish there wasn’t a second season coming.
Sorry; overwrote some files, and made a mistake, and so on and so on, so the top part of this is different.
CND Cue #471 New! This would come in handy as baby music, or fancy lunch with someone who puts on airs music, or we take you now to the Court of Louis IVX. Good library music was adaptable to a variety of circumstances.
CND Cue #472 This would have limited application: whatever the setting, it had to be lush, romantic, and mature. (I think they’re using it in scene where E&A are having a tremendous fight, because he insisted they leave a buffet party.) (The bane of buffet suppers are a constant in Peg’s work; someone is always complaining that you have to stand around waiting, the plates are too thin, and the food is served late. In this episode, everyone invited to come at 7, and no food is present by 10, so the husband insists on leaving. I understand completely.
CND Cue #473 Taken from a piece that could be 30 seconds long or 300 minutes, just going on and on like this, like a twittering bird who can't stop.
CND Cue #474 Yes, I've heard this before. Big-city-errands music. But this goes on longer, and fades just as you glimpse where it's going.
CND Cue #475 And another old favorite, probably from the first batch I ever posted, bringing our week to a close.