Snow this morning. Just a few flakes. Took care of them with a Zippo. If you press one finger hard into your ear you hear a sound you can imagine might be the sound of snowflakes shrieking in terror.

(G)Nat is unhappy. Wife is unhappy. I am unhappy. The dog is unhappy. But it snowed last May First, I think; if not last year, the year before. April is like this. Except when it’s not, once every nine years, and you make that the baseline.


I was serious about watching “The China Syndrome” last night; I haven’t seen it since I was an impressionable young lad, and it formed the basis for my scientific and technical understanding of Jane Fonda’s hair the nuclear power industry. It’s quite a piece of work. Michael Douglas’ Angry Young Hairy Camerman character is vintage 78 – in a meeting with station executives, who have declined to air footage of an incident in a nuclear power station without understanding the context, he first accuses them of a CONSPIRACY, and then says IT’S A COVER-UP. They really did write scripts with red crayons in those days. 

I’d forgotten the public hearings with the mothers holding up pictures of children who will be irradiated in the near future or the protestors with black gags around their mouths (introduced as “people who choose not to speak,” oddly enough)  the craven utility official who dismisses security concerns, the corrupt contractor who threatens Saintly Jack Lemmon with the standard Seventies problem: private corporate enforcers who will kill him if he exposes the contractor’s shortcuts.

Someone ought to ask producer Michael Douglas if he regrets the impact the movie had on the public’s views on nuclear power, given that three decades have passed without the China Syndrome. More juice might have come in handy. I suppose it's apt that Wilford Brimley is the guy who finally tells the truth, and nowadays when we see him on TV, he's ona horse.

Interesting how we thought that Romney’s candidacy would lead to a discussion of religion and politics, eh? Turns out that was just the warm-up act. I heard the entire Rev. Wright speech today, so I’m not talking anything out of context – unless there was some peculiar non-verbal aspect, like an aura or a thick cloud overhead that formed instructive and helpful shapes, the endorsement of Farrakhan, the attacks on “Zionism” in the context of UN resolutions, and the explanations of the effect on racially-distinctive brain structure on marching-band styles was pretty hard to misconstrue. 

The most amusing response, aside from the sort of obdurate denial you might find in someone who just created a fantastic beach sculpture and sees a tsunami on the horizon, is the Conspiracy Theory. Who? Jews! Of course! On the radio today I heard someone who managed to combine the far trailing tips of leftist and right-wing nuttery, and tie them into a neat bow. The JEWS were doing this to shake Obama loose from Rev. Wright; the JEWS were the ones who had devised this non-issue and pushed it to the front through their tentacular media control. Apparently a team of crack Jewish Ninja Hypnotists got Rev. Wright to make these recent appearances, too. 


This week’s selection from the Warner Gangsters series: another Cagney film. Can’t go wrong with Cagney. More grim thirties prole meat. The most interesting stuff comes from the trailer. Our hero:

Well, that must be uncomfortable. Does he have a name?

What’s his name?

I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.

It’s a reform-school drama, with nasty lads sent into a grim hell of boiling melting human hate. Did we mention there’s hate?

That's some wierd Hitlery type. The ratio of hate-to-humans is explained here:

So that’s two hates per person, then. Frankie Darrow was a short kid with a Cagneyesque swagger and intensity, but he lacked the brio and cheer that Cagney brought to his roles, which is probably why his imdb profile shows his latter roles as “Janitor” on the Batman TV show. At the end of the preview, a foretaste of the sweaty hammer-hand we saw at the end of the Adam-12 shows:



Endorsed by the management! Well, that’s good enough for me. It almost suggests that management didn’t really have a say, but when they gave the thumbs up to pix they were forced to show, they wanted the world to know.

Also watched “Smart Money,”  a strange meandering 1931 movie with Eddy G and Cagney. Jaysus, they turned these things out by the mile, didn’t they? In an early scene Edward G. Robinson deals with a sharpie who’s come to the gambling tables to work some angles. Recognize him?

Yes, it’s Herman Munster! No, not really. Recognize him now?

Yes: it’s Frankenstein. Boris Karloff. Could be a goofy cuss if the role required.

A few brief scenes set these movies apart from our own time, and the first one does not reflect well on the thirties. This was SOP for the time, though: all Black men in servant roles are called George, treated with amusement, then brusquely dismissed when you’re tired of pretending. This wouldn’t have raised eyebrows in ’31; today, it just makes you ill. (Mouse over to reveal controls; requires Flash player.)


The porter's name isn't George. That was the generic term.

On the other hand, pre-code movies could get away with things you’d rarely see in a Forties film. Robinson has brought a dame, a frail, a twist, to live with him. Cagney doesn't approve. Watch Robinson’s body language towards the end.


Get a room, guys! Neither film was particularly interesting for its visuals - the style was straight-ahead all the way. Which made this shot, near the end of "Smart Money," all the more surprising:




There's no reason for it to be there, which makes it even cooler.

New Comic - see you at for the rest of the day.