Determined as I am to get my shopping done early this year -

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH I know, I know. But this year I mean it, and this year we’re going to be reasonable, and not go overboard -

Oh, stop it. Anyway, I went to six stores in the mall, looking for something daughter is not expecting and only mentioned in passing, which might be the worst idea I’ve had in a whiie. There’s the casual-mention intended to put up a Potemkin facade on the Gingerbread house of Christmas, to coin an awful phrase that’s not even accurate, really. What I mean is this: you pretend you heard-but-forgot and the kid pretends that she didn’t really say it so everyone can be astonished on Christmas morn when the package is opened and there! It! Is!

But I can’t find it. I know it exists. I can see it there on Amazon, but it’s from sellers who can’t be bothered to get off their butts and mail it before Christmas. Really: 14 - 23 days shipping time? You’ll get the order tomorrow morning. It takes three weeks to wander down the hall, throw something in a bag and slap on a mailing label? You have so many orders you can’t get to a simple blankety-blank shirt for three weeks? Montgomery drove halfway up Italy in World War Two in less time. (Maybe. I don’t know.)

So I wandered from store to store, enjoying having the mall to myself. The entire sales force in the entire store was occupied folding sweaters and shirts. Except in Macy’s kitchenware. There they were folding towels.

Songs heard in the mall: “Baby it’s Cold Outside.” Twice. Detest that song. A Christmas song? No. But if you heard it in February it would be like hearing “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” Heard: “Everybody’s Waitin’ for the Man with the Bag,” which I also don’t like, except this was the Brian Setzer version. Heard: “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” an infantile confection that has lasted half a century because it has a vague connection to Boomer cultural self-identification, and hence cannot be allowed to perish from the earth.

I did not hear Jingle Bell Rock, but the season is young. I did hear “White Christmas,” and whistled along with the difficult whistling portion, because I can, and the housewares department was empty, and sometimes a man just needs to pause amongst the Mixmasters and juicers and give his wind some warble.

Whistling is a lost art, for which most people are grateful, because most whistlers aren’t very good. I whistle a lot, but not in public. When I’m home alone I usually whistle when going down to get coffee and when I go back up the stairs. Stingers, seasonal melodies, snippets of radio and TV themes. I swear I’ve been whistling Rolie Polie Olie interstitial music for ten years.

Just checked wikipedia to see who wrote it, and came across an entry that informed me I am a year older than Pappy, the added grandpa robot with dentures.

Hmph. Need a citation on that.

This site keeps popping up in my feed. Many interesting things, but the perspective seems to be "Here's some stuff we just discovered and hence must be new to you, too." A few weeks ago it discovered matchbooks, and ran some photos - not scans, but photos - from someone’s Flickr account. Now it’s discovered that Disney made a cartoon in which Donald dreams he is living in the Third Reich. You often see people mention this in the poorly-informed corners of the internet - i.e., most of the land surface of earth - when people say Walt was a Nazi and okay guys seriously he made a cartoon where Donald was a Nazi too.

The piece begins:

Disney has its fair share of questionable cartoons in the archives and over the years, the company has been accused of everything from racism to sexism, the promotion of drug use and even pedophilia. And then there was that time that Donald Duck was a Nazi.

“Then there was that time” is internet speak that sums up the general ahistorical quality of the medium; everything exists in one of three states: pre-internet, “the part that includes my childhood,” and “this week.” As for the other accusations, consider this sentence: “Rock and roll has had its fair share of questionable lyrics in its songs, and over the years, the genre has been accused of everything from racism to sexism, the promotion of drug use and even pedophilia.” Do you think that applies more accurately to rock, or to Disney, or that they’re about equal?

In 1943, Walt Disney productions released the American animated short propaganda film, Der Fuehrer’s Face,

Stop. There are people who love to use the term “propaganda” to describe American WW2 media campaigns. Definition: “chiefly derogatory information, esp. of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” While it is true that the cartoons and mocking songs and recruitment posters only showed the bad parts of Nazi Germany, and tended to ignore the salutary effects of the Autobahn on the concrete construction industry, to say nothing of the remarkable advances in concertina wire, I think we can give them a a pass on this. If the word “propaganda” applies equally to Nazi Germany disinformation and American home-front morale-boosting entertainment, then the word is meaningless.

. . . featuring Donald Duck as a reluctant factory worker in Nazi Germany. While I think most will agree that you can never have too much anti-Nazi propaganda, did Disney really need to go and masquerade it as children’s/ family entertainment? I suppose the answer is that they did, because they bagged themselves an Academy Award for it that year (the only Donald Duck film to ever win an Oscar).

Yes, they really needed to go and masquerade it, and that need was proved by an Oscar, bestowed later. Makes no sense. Of course, kids were reading comic books in which caped heroes battled Nazis; they showed up on radio shows. The war reached into every aspect of popular culture. It would be ridiculous for the most popular characters not to address it - at least back then.

Today, it would be unusual if they did.

The point is: Donald wakes up in America, in a room bedecked with American symbols, and is unabashedly grateful. It was an appeal to a vague but widely assumed national identity that was clearly superior to the Nazi alternative in every possible way. Oh, sure, some weisenheimer in the back row may have grumbled “It ain’t our fight!” or “no fourth term for Rooosevelt!” No one in the audience went home and hugged a flag. But you could also look at the cartoon in a different light: “That Time a Cartoon was Unapologetically Grateful For America Without Including a Moronic Hyper-patriotic Caricature Named Biff Punchjaw To Let the Animators Off the Hook Lest You Think They Have No Awareness of the Nation’s Dark Side As Well.”

It stuck in my craw, my craw being dipped in extra-strength adhesive these days, because another site I visit looked at another wartime Disney cartoon and took it to task for its gendered attitudes. It is not enough to be correct today; one must also demonstrate awareness of previous incorrectness, and parade around your awareness like a flag in a rally. Annnd this came after a visit to an animation site, where the people in the comments fell over themselves to pick apart “Frozen” and the “Lost” Mickey short that preceded it. His nose! It’s historically inaccurate! Mickey’s nose didn’t look like that until 1931, but that’s the 1926 Pegleg Pete! Hah! From hell’s heart I fling my poo! Shame!

There’s a common link: the smart set believes that the vast majority of people have no ability to apprehend the fine details that matter, and it is necessary for the cognoscenti to study every frame to better inform people how they should not be enjoying something as much as they are.


To recap: Captain Video, technological policeman-scientist of the future, has been fighting Vultura, an interplanetary warlord who wants to take over the Earth. Vultura has been assisted by Dr. Tobor, a weatherman.

When last we saw Captain Video, he was unconscious in the back of a truck that had just exploded. Was this the . . .

No. But how did he escape certain death? Well, he got out before it happened. That’s how. Even had time for a brief fistfight. Turns out the Crime Van of the Future was called “Station X,” which explains the title of the last episode, "The Mystery of Station X." I didn't know a van could be a station, let along contain Mysteries, but we'll roll with it.

Anyway, it’s back to the lab, where they’re trying to find the Jetmobile, which Tobor took. (They can fly to other planets but tracking their own car by some electronic means is beyond their ken.) Eventually they find it on the electronic oscobobulator, and drive to find it. So we have a fistfight AND driving, all in the first five minutes. Action-packed!

Captain Video approaches the Jetmobile, which is Strangely Unguarded . . . .

. .. and booby-trapped!

Meanwhile, Tobor and his minion have slugged the Ranger, and shot him in the head. Just kidding; they drag him along. They come across Captain Video, unconscious for the 14th time so far in the series, and shoot HIM in the head. Kidding! They just let him lie there, although they tell the Ranger to drop the roadblocks or they WILL do something mean to Captain Video. Everything’s going grand for Tobor, and if I may say he’s looking particularly villainous today:

He contacts Vultura, dread lord of space, who has nothing better to do than hang around the radio room and wait for calls:


In the time-honored method of bad guys, Tobor lays out his plans with more detail than necessary, unaware there are two Rangers in the shadows. Once he concludes the call, and tells Vultura he’s going to his secret airstrip five miles away, he’s jumped by the rangers! Two highly-trained agents in protective headgear against a middle-aged meteorologist!

Of course, Tobor wins. Then he finally, finally shoots someone.

He drives away - so we’ve doubled up on the fistfight / driving around quotient this time. Of course the Rangers recover from the effects of being shot with sparks, and alert the authorities to conduct a massive planetary dragnet for Captain Video. Behold the mobilization!

Not just a car speeding down a ramp, but motorcycle police in alleys!

Meanwhile, Captain Video, who has the command of the planet's finest technology at his disposal but lacks any miniaturized communication devices, is led to a tiny set meant to indicate the interior of a plane cabin. He is convinced.

Tobor gets them to the plane and commands Captain Video to fly it - apparently he has no idea how - and they get away, just as two of the Crack Elite Fighting Force of Earth show up to stop them. It's Pops and Tubby:

Top men. Top. Men. Ah, but a double-cross is in the works. Vultura decides to kill Tobot and Captain Video with one of his remotely=guided flying disks, leading one to ask WHY DIDN’T HE DO THAT IN THE PREVIOUS 13 EPISODES. Anyway, we know Vultura is feeling confident, because there’s some serious gut-revealing going on here.


Ironic and practical! Also, special effects that rival the finest CGI of today:


And then the plane explodes!!! Gosh, fellas, how will they get out of this?

Tune in next week, for . . .

. . . .oh, whatever it’s called. I'm going to miss these. Each one has delivered exactly what it promised: fistfights, driving, gadgets, Captain Video looking concerned, Tobor lying, Vultura confidently strutting around and discounting every setback, and of course Skelton Kraggs. Did these come before the cartoon, or after? Either works.


The usual usual scattered about the internet; see you around.









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