I do believe the word “Snarled” and “Commute” will pop up on the front page today. The snow began overnight and never slackened - not heavy, not light, just the constant application of new material, as if the world was being remade to fit a race of invaders who were allergic to color. I love it. In December, that is. There’s nothing so right as constant snow in December.

Brief note on next week’s Fundraiser: same drill as before. Free book, suggested contribution. I can’t really say this one’s worth $1.25, because I’ve posted it here before - but I can say it’s worth $1.00, because there’s added content that brings the story forward, as well as fuses the source material.

What the hell are you talking about, sir? Who wants fused source material? Well, it’s “A Christmas Carol” meets “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a toss-off I tossed-off back in 1996, I believe. It was 4,200 words or so, and left out a few of the touchstones required in every “Carol” adaptation. For one thing, it lacked a Crachit. It lacked the two charity agents. It lacked the entire ending one associates with “Carol,” which was intentional; I liked the idea of ending it without knowing whether the Scrooge had been transformed. I’ve added the agents in the form of Damon Ruynan hoods, as befits the era, and the ending was waiting for me all along in the last few paragraphs. So next week it’ll be up.

I try to watch the Alistair Sims version every year; it’s the only proper one. It’s British and black and white. So there. (The Patrick Stewart version was always a great disappointment, simply because I had too much Picard invested in him to see him play a bad guy; it was like watching a holodeck episode. The Mr. Magoo version haunted my childhood.) You probably know this, but it’s worth repeating: our modern idea of Traditional Christmas comes from the imagery and setting of the Dickens story - which itself was written in a time of nostalgia for previous Christmases. It’s like coming back in 150 years and seeing people nostalgic for the 70s when we were nostalgic for the 50s.

You wonder what it would take to establish a competing narrative for the Ideal Christmas, and whether such a thing is even possible. No one wants a Puritan Christmas. No one wants an early-19th century American Christmas, because they don’t know what that looks like, aside from a sleigh going to Grandma’s. Hardly likely anyone will clamor for a good ol’ Jazz Era Christmas like Great-Grandma used to have.

There’s the Christmas of Childhood, a jumble of imprecise recollections anchored to specific songs and TV shows. There’s the General Christmas, which marries your own memories with the imagined ideal of gas lamp England with men in high hats and cracking goose-on-a-platter and plum pudding and games of “Bother the Rutabaga” or some such parlor diversion. Scrooge-era trappings. If you’re a parent, there’s the Christmases you recall but your child has forgotten. It all braids into a thick and silken rope that falls into your palm in the month of December. Depending on what you had you use it to pull yourself into the new world of the next year, or you throw it over the rafter.

The snow has jump-started my Christmas mood, and put me in an excellent humor. Wednesday night i took daughter to confirmation and used the interim time to run to Target; snow was blowing off the roof in stinging gusts, and I welcomed it. Do your worst. My lights are up. I had neither cap nor gloves; not like it was three or four degrees or anything. I thought ahead to the weekend, which promises to be so miserably, punishingly cold no one will go anywhere to do anything, and we can make pancakes and build a fire and put up the tree and look outside at the great white world consumed with the extirpation of everything good and green and alive, and laugh: the Nazis felt confident when they marched into Paris, too.

Okay, that didn’t turn out like I expected. Anyway, I continued my bootless search for the Item Daughter Must Have for Christmas, drove home, took wife’s car to the gas station for air. Low front right tire. There was another car filling up on air. A Porsche. The guy did all four tires. The car screeched when he pulled out. You don’t expect that from a Porsche. Somehow you think they’re self-healing mechanisms. When I finished topping off the tire, expecting, as usual, to have it blow up in my face, another car pulled in right behind me and the driver got out and grabbed the hose.

Everyone around here knows where to get air. If you sell gas, you have to give away air. It’s understood.

That could probably be the motto for this site, if not my life.


I really do mean odds and ends; scraping the bottom of the barrel today, for reasons noted above. First of all: a while ago I watched a movie that contained large amounts of her:

It was called "Fathom," and it's a spy spoof, of sorts. They made more spy spoofs than actual spy movies, I'm convinced. Which reminds me: One of the worst of the spoof genre showed up the other night on TCM - the last Matt Helm movie, with a puffy brown Dean Martin. When he wasn't interested in something, you could tell. It's understandable why he regarded the job with bored contempt; aside from Sharon Tate, it's a dreary, witless affair, and the idea of all these women hurling themselves at a guy who looks like a a burnt croissant isn't quite believable. And I like Dean Martin. But when the actor signals his desire to distance himself from the stinker while he is actually engaged in making the movie, you should take him at his word.

Of course, there are rapturous reviews on imdb, many of which note that it's not as bad as the third one. I think I saw them all on TV as a kid and loved them, because they were Spy Movies, and that meant gadgets and bikinis. It takes a while before you're old enough to see through them. I do recall something else: in the early mid-70s, the mid-late sixties seemed another world away. The music? Hairstyles? Set design? The adolescent view of time? All of the above in differing amounts. Perhaps because the music had two elements that put it in another era:

The swank Mancini / Riddle strings, with the occasional harpsichord accent

Groovy psuedo-rock, which was a giveaway that the show was aimed at the squares

Of the first example, there’s this, from the first Flint movie. This is so 1967, in its orchestrion - (the keyboard, the flutes, the dry bass, the big band accents; it’s the cool cousin to Neil Hefti’s melancholic, neurotic “Odd Couple” score.

It was cool, but cool in a way that already seemed lost to the world.

That’s the great Jerry Goldsmith. Which reminds me of something else I set aside a while ago. I collect, for no reason, ident music. It’s some of the most efficient music ever made; decades later you know it. Sometimes it came before . . .

Sometimes at the end.

Movie ident are different, and often try to stir the heart, soften you up. A few weeks agoI came across this. It’s one of the indents for the Orion studio. I filed it away as “Goldsmith?” because I think it’s his, or at least the work of someone who, shall we say, admired his work. I don’t know if the horns are intended to spell out O, R, I-O-N, but they do; then the scurrying strings that seem like Goldsmith. Imagine you were tasked with the job: write something 20 seconds long that got people in the mood for a Comedy, or Science Fiction, or Drama, or Romance, or Horror. Good luck, and have it on our desk Monday.  


GOLDSMITH? Could be.

I filed it away as “Goldsmith?” because I think it’s his, or at least the work of someone who, shall we say, admired his work. I don’t know if the horns are intended to spell out O, R, I-O-N, but they do; then the scurrying strings that seem like Goldsmith. Imagine you were tasked with the job: write something 20 seconds long that got people in the mood for a Comedy, or Science Fiction, or Drama, or Romance, or Horror. Good luck, and have it on our desk Monday.  

Anyway. Criminey. Fathom. There’s a villain:

He came as something of a shock. It’s the Terrifying Gambler from Speed Racer, 1967. I recognized it because I follow a guy on Twitter who uses it as is avatar.

It’s either parallel development, or the colored monocle was an accepted sign of middle-European villainy. Probably the latter; I don't think the producers of "Fathom" sent urgent memos to the casting outfit to make sure they capitalized on the sudden, global popularity of a Speed Racer villain.

The movie? Not all that great, but Raquel Welch does well enough in the acting department - which is important. Doesn't matter how gorgeous you are if you appear to be a barely animate block of balsam hitting your marks and speaking the correct amount of phonemes.

And gorgeous she was. You never can take your eyes off her when she's on the screen. But if you watch it again, you note that the director . . . was not above the occasional sly rude joke.

The end of the restaurants today? No. Just the exteriors. 100 pages in this site - next week, we head inside. See you around.









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