Oh, the things we have arriving this week! You won’t believe it. Pretty much the same as always, but with tiny incremental twists the casual observer couldn’t care less about! Actually, no. The big new things are a month off. But you have to admit it’s a bit fun on Monday morn to see Reddy painting something new, and then wonder what the banner will be? Pleas tell me it’s a bit fun and someone notices.
I had prepared a different one, but it presumed a cold March. It was Seventy today. Hasn’t been 70 on the Ides of March since 1927, they say. “They” being the usual word for the people whose profession requires consultation with such things, and also requires the assumption that such things are true. This could be the all-time high, really; surely our instruments are better than they were in the waning days of the Jazz Age.
No, that’s wrong. They weren’t the waning days. 1927 may have been the Jazziest year in the 20s for all I know. It’s the retrospective application of DOOM that makes you think they age was waning, because we know it had under a dozen months to go before the market crashed, the skies darkened with suicidal investors leaping from skyscrapers, and the instantaneous conversion of the New York economy from finance and manufacturing to street corner apple-selling. Like a switch was flipped. No one played Jazz after Black Friday, and certainly flappers did smoke while leering swains, their plastered hair cleaved in a center part, crooned“vo-di-oh-do” into megaphones. Screeching halt.
“The market’s down, Mabel. Way down. Put away that Vallee record, and find some blues, for hard times are upon us now.”
No age wanes all at once, everywhere. Generalized waning is something historians create. Ages wane and thrive simultaneously, too. The 20th century had big slicing events that happened to fall at the end of the decade, and that made it seem as if things concluded and the new story began. But it’s all one chapter after the other.
Anyway, it was warm, and it was lovely. It will get a bit cooler. But I think we’re safe now.
Daughter woke me up from my nap on Friday, apologetic. I figured it was important. Everyone around here knows the Imperative of the Nap. It’s like explaining away Father’s alcoholic problems with a euphemism/. He's not well. He’s taken ill with the old trouble. I must nap. It is the thing that makes the evening’s work possible. So she had to have a good reason.
Uh, Dad? Sorry but I can’t find Scout and all the gates are locked. I don’t know where he went.
So. Scout is a stealth dog, and blends in; there are times I swear he’s been lifted up by the rapture, only to see him peer out from behind a bare bush. But she was right: the gates were cinched and the dog was gone. Well. We got leashes and went to look for him, and while I was putting on my shoes she found him next door in the neighbor’s unfenced lot, having the time of his life just running back and forth. When we got him back we tried to figure out how he escaped, and he revealed his trick right away by trotting over to some boards in the fence he’d pushed out.
That’s so cliche, daughter says. That’s like a cartoon dog trick.
Not just the boards were loose; the wood post was wobbly as well. I’m a few years away from replacing the whole damned thing at Ruinous Expense. I tied the post and slats together with stout rope - okay, baling twine - and placed some ladders against it, wedged into the bushes, to keep him from going out again.
I tweeted that the dog had slipped over the border to pee in the neighbor’s yard, and I was now calling him Putin. Then I remembered I’d been reading stores about Putin’s absence for the last few days, and toting up all the excuses: Flu. Mistress having baby. Bad plastic surgery. Or possibly he had the flu while he was getting a facelift in a maternity ward while crushing a political foe’s windpipe with his free hand. Because he is STRONG, you know. He has to be.
The House of Cards version of Putin was colorfool and chorming in vicious way typical to man of Kremlin; he was obviously based on Vlad, but lacked the dead sardonic expression. At least he wasn’t the archetype we got in the days of the USSR: the Hearty Bear, the big barrel-gut boor who pours the wudka and says proverb and quotes poet and then gets crafty. We were always steered towards affection for this character, because Moh-thur Rhoosh’ya is place of Soulfulness and a flinty, admirable ability to persevere. You can understand because of winter, and of Great Patriotic War. (drink!) Let me tell you story. (drink!) My friends Andrei Andreiovich Andreiskivoni, he has cow, da? (drink!) One day, commissar comes by. This commissar, he very bad man. Everyone in veelage hate. But Andrei Andreiovich Andreiskivoni, he knows the commissar’s daughter has been, what is the words, mecking loff with son of commissar’s browther. He also know commissar, he is unhappy Andrei has crop of beets so good it affects local production quotas; not so many beets next year, commissar is in trawble. So the commissar knocks on door of barn.
‘How are you today, Andrei Andreiovich Andreiskivoni?’ he say. And then he shoot cow.”
“You see lesson? In Rasha, you never know why someone shoot your cow.”
That’s a lesson?
“No, lesson is not be cow.”
A fine lesson, except a reflexive serf-like deference to autocracy seems burned into the national character.
“True!” (drink) “Which is why not be cow.”
I have to admit that my experience with Russia consists of getting drunk with Russians, getting drunk in Russia, and meeting Boris Yeltsin for 2.7 seconds. So no Kremlinologist me. I have no idea what is happening. Or whether Putin will, as they say, surface by the time you read this. Ah, but what if he’s dead? Not from some righteous God-smote in the form of a stroke, but betrayed in an Ides-of-March conspiracy? Would he be furious at the betrayal, or amused that he ever thought it would end different? Given his profession, and all that.
In the old days they played Russian symphonic music when the leader passed; what will Vlad get? Hair metal ballads is what he should get.
Before the old building goes down and the big move begins, people are throwing out stuff. There's a lot of stuff.
"For Soiled Book Covers." So much nicer a word than DIRTY, but not without its ookyness. Garments are usually soiled, and for reasons you prefer not to know.
Let’s do something different, shall we? There are so, so many Blondie movies. If I do one I would have to do them all. I don’t want to. There’s a certain kind of friendly, short, decent 40s comedy that leaves me cold; there’s always A PROBLEM, and it’s always solved, but in between are Comic Misunderstandings. Now, the Gildersleeve movies interest me because the radio actor played Gildy in the movies. He had to. But comics are another matter.
I have to admit something: I grew up reading Blondie, and I still read it. I’m not saying it makes me laugh. I would write a weepy hymn if it was cancelled, but it will never be cancelled, because people like me grew up reading it and still do. It’s more of a comfort on the page than anything else, Peanuts included. (Peanuts is depressing. Always was.) The style of Blondie is late 20s early 30s, with subsequent refinements, and it’s the purest connection to the old, old days of the Funny Pages as you’ll get.
As originally written, Dagwood was the son of a millionaire, and he threw away his inheritance to marry a chorus girl. Perfect fable for the Jazz-Age or the Depression. Dagwood got a job with the J.C. Dithers company, and settled into a life of gluttony, sloth, and domestic ease.
They got Blondie right, although it’s hard to see anyone but Penny Singleton after so many movies:
She was also the voice of Jane Jetson.
Dagwood is likewise indelible, partly because of the hair:
At this point in 1938, Arthur Lake was still nine years away from being questioned by police in the Black Dahlia matter. So says one book, anyway.
But Mr. Dithers:
He’s a squat tyrant with a pince-nez. Not this guy. It had to clang.
That’s Jonathan Hatley. Killed himself, but that was 28 years away.
Anyway, that’s not what I’m here to do. What if Blondie was reimagined as a Dark and Gritty movie full of violence and broken families?
But that’s not what I’m here to do. The credits made me sit up. Because the movie was made in 1938.
If something about that made you think “that’s not 1938,” then you have basic cultural literacy. Simple as that. Those were the credits appended by the distributor much later. The original looked like this.
Oh. Is there a Star Trek connection? Of course.
Maybe he did go back in time, to act in the movies.