The last week before Christmas; the last chance for snow. The forecasts look barren, and most Minnesotans regard the weather with irrational trepidation. Oh. we’ll pay for this. Pay for it hard. Winter will stretch into May, June will be cold, and we’ll rue the day we gamboled coatless on a clement December afternoon. It’s just not right. Worst of all, I like it. I’m used to it. I think it’s just fine, until I remember that it’s Christmastime. If there wasn’t a big zombie tree in the living room – still thirsty, still clueless – I’d think it was some strange odd month cobbled together out of March and November, the various genes spliced together into a new improved hybrid. Novarch™, or Marvember™. (Monsanto has the patents, I assume.) As much as I tire of the snow and the cold, the bitter wind sluicing down your neck, the underfoot crunch of treacherous ice, I want it now. This is how the year ends in these parts. The world falls silent and snow comes down. Once that happens we make our peace and move through it, but until it happens we’re just crammed in the tumbrel, waiting for the driver to fix the wheel.
A fine weekend – which means it was dull and industrious, I guess. Polished off the 07 website overhaul and the graphics for the new sites – I’ll be putting up a new weekly feature in February devoted to peculiar excerpts from ancient comic books. I finally got around to redoing the Ghost Signs site, which I’ll toss up tomorrow. When I needed a break I popped in a disc from the Looney Tunes 4th collection. It’s the usual mixed selection. I don’t have much interest in the later years of WB cartoons; the 60s stuff may remind me of my youth, but that’s not always a good thing, since I was beaten as a child.
Just kidding. But I do not have warm memories of childhood TV.
Some people have great regard for anything they saw in footie-jammies phase of life; no matter how dreckular the product, it reminds them of sitting in front of the big glass Happy Machine, eating Sugar Smacks and feeling good about the world. Because nothing happening at the moment would be on any test. Because watching TV was something you could do – why, you were an expert at it. Hence some people – guys mostly, I’ve noted – love lousy 80s cartoons, or have a soft spot in their heart for Scooby-Doo. Not me; I have ventricular walls of iron when it comes to that stuff, because it was shite, and it was fobbed off on us by cynics and hacks. My earliest TV memories are Captain Kangaroo, whom I loved, and the Mousketeers, but the advent of color meant a steep decline in the quality. Most of the 60s Warner Brothers cartoons, such as the Road Runners, give me headaches. The Bill Lava scores, evidently arranged for accordion and sackbut or some oboe played by inserting into a cow rectum and hitting the cow with a shovel, grate on the ears, and the cartoons are lackluster. You feel like the little kid in “The Shining,” with his bowl haircut and glazed mirthless face, inhaling in the miasmatic banalities.
The 30s cartoons don’t do much for me either; interesting as time capsules, but there’s too much schmaltz, and not enough hitting, and the animation has that round soft character. I was going to skip the 1937 “Now That Summer Is Gone” cartoon until I saw the opening animation; rather ambitious for Warner at the time. It turns into a Disney rip-off, complete with ersatz multiplane shots, as we see little woodland animals gathering nuts for the winter while a female chorus sings a ditty. I do mean rip-off, too. The tree is straight out of a Silly Symphonies number. Granted, there are only so many ways to draw woody limbs, but this is shameless:
Anyway: one of the squirrels is stamping the acorns:
And people were expected to know what that was, and get the joke? Remarkable.
Speaking of the Captain: does this look familiar?
I hadn’t thought of that door for forty years. Of course, it’s on YouTube. Click here for a list of Kangaroo clips; one is from 1962, which I probably watched. I’d forgotten the details – the Moose’s voice, Bunny Rabbit’s carrot addiction, the keys hung on the hook, the clock with the moving face. I don’t think anyone ever forsake Captain Kangaroo the way they turned on Mister Rogers. Even if you hung out with the bad kids who crossed the street at lunch hour and smoked on the corner, you’d stand up for the Captain. Mister Rogers talked to kids at their level, but he was childlike himself; the Captain was a grown-up who didn’t talk down. He talked around. There’s always the obvious difference between kids and grown-ups – age, size, smarts, money, freedom. It’s always there, but some adults can effortlessly connect around it. That was Bob Keeshan.
We’re having a brouhahau at the moment: Gnat wants to have breakfast at school. They have sausage and French toast. But we have sausage and French toast. I know but please. I’ll do anything. No. It’s important that everyone has breakfast at the same table, even if Mommy is trying to absorb the entire newspaper in 6 minutes while I get Gnat’s stuff together and eat my own luxurious repast (one sausage, squeezed dry; one container of yogurt). But even if that wasn’t the case: the school breakfast is free. We don’t need it. Therefore we’re not going to take it. This is hard to explain, but I’m trying.
As for French Toast, we will get some at the store tomorrow. We’ll have to, since we exhausted all the syrup-pretext carboslabs this morning. Months ago I fell in love with the Perkins’ microwave pancake, only to see them marked with the fatal DISCONTINUED sign in the grocery story freezer. I bought the lot, and put them in the basement fridge. Saturday morning the last was eaten – probably by Jasper – and my wife noted that this was the consequence of sleeping late. I could get a few extra weekend hours, or a pancake. Not both. Anyway, she had been certain there were more pancakes downstairs. Dozens. HUNDREDS. But no. We’d come to the end, and I never even got the chance to say farewell.
My one weekend pancake: not to be.
Bacon, however, was in abundance.
Well, lots of good news this week for long-patient patrons, starting with this: I’m hosting the Diner at my own site, bandwidth costs be damned! Episodes one and two of the 3-parter can be found here. Back to work; four-column Monday is already upon me.
Hey: that award is announced on Monday. Hope I win; hope I deserve it. See you tomorrow. Oh: new Match, as usual for Mondays. Cheesecake month draws to a close with a poignant overhead view of an urban ruin. But isn't that always the case.