I think it was Friday: daughter bursts into my room and says “Dad, I want a ukulele.” In the old days you could let such an enthusiasm simmer for a while, and perhaps expend itself like many transitory passions of youth, but no, now there’s Amazon.

She’d found a blue one, and she had the money in her hand. I thought it was a bit silly, because I associated it with gawky swains in straw boaters crooning out moon-june tunes while plunking away in the back of a Tin Lizzy. I said so. Probably in those words. Oddly enough, they didn’t connect.

It arrived today, and I was disappointed to note it didn’t have the obligatory book: TEACH YOURSELF UKULELE IN FIVE MINUTES, complete with a picture of your stand-in amazing The Gang as you warbled out a tune. But that role is taken by YouTube now. Sure enough: she learned a song within an hour.

I didn’t take the money. It was a gift. Actually, payment for something else: it struck me the other day how much I hear her singing in her room, and how much of a joy it is to have a happy kid. That’s the gift, immeasurable in value. Thirty bucks for a uke to add to the music and delight in the house? Cheap.

Ordinary day; worked from home again, because it’s so damned cold, and because the dog needs tending. Expecting him to have total bladder control is like going to see the Stones these days and expecting Mick Jagger to do the splits - you’re not surprised it if actually happens, but best not to bank on it. When he goes outside he heads into the deep field of snow, every time, pushing through the drift, headed somewhere for something.

“He’s never going to give us a sign,” my wife said tonight. Jasper had just finished inhaling a can of hideous mucusy beef, then steadied himself with pixillated dignity and headed to the soft cushion where he sleeps, only to come around after a tour of his territory to put his nose on the cold glass and peer into the black beyond. When I brought him back inside he went back to the bowl. MORE?

We increased his pain medications, since I don’t think cumulative liver damage is much of a problem at this point.

Longtime readers of the Bleat are familiar with my love of the Tintin cartoons. It goes back to discovering “Destination Moon” as a little kid, and not finding anything more about Tintin, let alone the second part of the story, for more than half a decade. We didn’t get Tintin books in North Dakota, except for that one print run that hit the Osco Drug store on a trip downtown. A impulsive assent from my mother, who saw in my eyes what the book must have meant, and a lifetime of interest. It’s one of the few things children discover that they love as much when they're adults - hence the movie, of course, spurred into existence by two fans with great Hollywood power.

I don’t want to see Tintin in a contemporary context. Proof below.

Lacking anything to watch last night, being between shows and not ready to commit to something new yet, I decided to revisit the Tintin movie. One of those Netfllix moments where it asks: “Resume?” So I was watching it before, eh. Didn't remember - probably because, to repeat the Tweet, I’m agnostic on the first third. When it spools up for the naval scene and the later chase through the streets, it’s spectacular, and while the Haddock is a bit more comical than I’d like, he ends up the hero, and wears it well.

But this is not about that. It’s about this:

No, actually, it’s not. But the things you find when googling, eh? The cover doesn’t fit the rest of the art, which isn’t very Herge-like. But the cover is by Yves Rodier, whose wikipedia bio notes that he’s “known for his many pastiches” of Tintin, which are ILLEGAL. Since they violate the copyright. The wikipedia entry notes taht nevertheless “they are all found circulating on the Internet.” No! That defies belief.

This is the interesting part: “The unfinished Tintin book Tintin and Alph-Art was unofficially completed by Rodier in black-and-white. Several groups have coloured it, such as 'Alph-junis', and have translated it into English. It was published in Autumn 1986 and then presented to Moulinsart. Rodier asked that it become an official book but Moulinsart refused.”

It was Herge’s last work, set entirely in the modern art world. Never knew it existed. I don’t know how much is Herge and how much is Rodier, but let’s take a look at a few things.


They’re reacting to an explosion at a press conference held by an Arab sheik. A reminder this isn’t the cloak-and-dagger world of Syldavia any more.


Next, the Professor just walks into the scene, acts deaf, and leaves in a fury. It’s always good to see Cuthbert in a nice set-piece. Then the bell rings . . .

  Into the room stroll Thompson and Thomson - sorry, the other way around - and it seems as if we’re going to have a parade of regulars, having already bumped into Bianca Castafiore. Their reason for showing up:

Again, you just don’t think of Tinitin in this frame of reference. They want the Captain to put up the Emir, which will lead to plot complications, of course. And then:

  Oh for heaven’s sake. I’ll have to go reread the previous book to see if Jolyon Wagg was living in the house, but it’s rather clunky exposition. All the stock characters just walk into the house.

It's just not up to the standards set by the other books, and you can understand why the controlling estate nixed it. Better a tantalizing unfinshed work than one that displays the creator's final frailties.

I look forward to more Tintin movies, but they're movies. And hence, they're not really Tintin.



We return to the thrilling days of yore when FX were cheap and budgets ranged all the way up to $7.98 per episode. King! King of the Rocketmen!


Handy recap, reminding you that Jeff King, King of the Rocketmen, wears a backup lip under his nose:

When last we met our hero, he’d gone over a cliff in a bar with a reporter. The car exploded. However will they escape? It’s impossible to think of any possible way out!

Of course, they leap from the car before it goes over the cllif, stand up, and dust themselves off. They really don't spend a lot of time explaining the escapes in this one.

Rocketman tells the Intrepid Journalist that the intercity bus should be coming along any moment, and off he goes.

Wait, she says. We were just targeted for death by the mysterious Dr. Vulcan, who was surely viewing us remotely; why are you leaving me here alone? I’m terrified by this sudden deadly turn my life has taken.

Actually, no. She says thanks and off he flies.

So far, no firstfight, but I didn’t expect one yet.

Back to the lab for some exposition: Dr. Vulcan has the negative of the picture of Rocketman which could reveal his secret identity, although who cares? No, he might have to go into hiding, along with the other scientist in hiding. Not to say the other scientist would mind. Nine seconds:

By the way, here's the exterior of Science Asociates:


So this is shot in New Mexico? Anyway, the big plot point this week consists of trapping the henchmen as they get the secret film that will permit them to enlarge the shot to prove that Rocketman is . . . some guy. To nab Dr. Vulcan's henchmen, who must wonder what they hell they've signed on for, they set a trap at the lab, thereby guaranteeing the holy trio of serial action: a fistflight, a gun battle, and a car chase.

Then they top it with this: The surviving henchman gets away in a car, and. at night, while driving, and looking the other way . . .


Oh, right! The Rocketman suit in the trunk! Which he puts on over his suit. This means Rocketman is wearing a tie.

Oh, my aching head.

He rockets off to the Henchmen Hideout, and I have to say: the shots of him flying are pretty good. No wires, no models - your inner twelve-year-old would have loved the AMAZING special effects.

Rocketman removes his suit and moves in on the henchmen; he’s wearing his hat, which he put in the trunk before flying off. Oh well. A henchman discovers him, nnnnnd . . . .fistfight. Behold the mighty Knockout Breeze generated by Jeff King’s right fist:

Things are knocked over. Uh oh:

Damn! Chloromite! Boom, then. All three episodes so far have ended with massive explosions, so this isn't a complete surprise.

Tune in next week!


Updates on the right - more horrible French food, although for all I know it's delicious. Work Blog between noon and one, but it'll be a short one.





blog comments powered by Disqus