No Lum & Abner challenge, but here's an interesting scene from "Suspense," 1950.

Identify what's playing on the radio in the back. If you can.

You'll know it or you won't.

Bonus: name the ship that was just destroyed.

Here's the complete ad.

Congrats to the Bleat readers who identified Dale Robertson. He died of lung cancer, yes, but he was 89, so there's that.

You might be thinking the airplane Bleat makes sense for the start of Spring Break, and recall past late-March bleats that said “well, I’ll be on hiatus for no reason I can think of” and then restarted with pictures of Arizona or Disneyworld.

Nope. Staying put. Not going anywhere. Daughter is, though. She’s getting on a plane tomorrow for her own Spring Break.


Well, you know what they say. If you love something, set it free; if it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, sue the hell out of the school district.

Yes, it’s a class trip. She’s been taking Japanese for three years, a remnant of her fascination with Japanese culture - since abated somewhat, but she’s still interested and eager to experience the TOTAL COOLNESS of Japan, where they have vending machines for everything. This is why I was at the bank the other day: getting Yen. Japan, I was told by the teacher (and several websites, so it must be true) is a cash culture, and cards aren’t as useful. Which seems counter to one’s notion of Japan, where high-tech citizens surely have RFID chips embedded in their skin to facilitate purchases. But no. The smallest the bank had was a 10,000 yen note, so she’s going to crack a hundred at a noodle shop. TYPICAL RICH THOUGHTLESS AMERICAN!

That’s why we went to the AT&T store, to see if her phone could work over there. It could, but she’d have to unlock it and buy a SIM card when she gets there and swap it out, and that just isn’t going to happen. So I bought an international text plan that hooks onto AT&T’s network and installed Voxer, which allows for walkie-talkie-type talk over wifi. I expect I will get a few texts and pictures and Voxer messages, but not many. She’ll be having fun. She’ll be on the Great Adventure.

I’d actually be nervous if she was going by herself to visit cousins in Arizona, because no one’s alert in those situations. Things get loose. Lots of kids. Big malls. In Japan, with three chaperones, a small group, a tight itinerary, and the fact that she will, shall we say, stand out - I’m not worried.

I’m worried that I’m not worried but really, I’m not. Bereft and dreading a week without her, yes. Also we will be housesitting a small willful dog, which makes the upcoming week all the more anomalous. It’s like . . . oh, what’s a good analogy? Trading your daughter for a small dog, that’s it. Just like that.

Joy of joys: the plane leaves early in the morning, so everyone’s alarm is set for 4:45 AM. I will get about four hours of sleep, and then come home, try to write, fail, try to sleep, fail, get the dog at 11 AM, deal with the dog, try to write, chloroform the dog, somehow come up with a column, then sleep, then get up and drink a gallon of coffee so I can enjoy my Friday night.

She always comes home at 4:24 on weekdays. All this next week I will have 4:24 ping in my head: time to be home. I think it will take six or seven years before that instinct fades.

She’s a brave kid. I’d like to think our previous trips have given her the fiber to strike out beyond our shores, but I know it’s really something else. It’s Pikachu. She got into Pokemon because of Pikachu, the gateway drug to all things Japanese. She had a little plush Pika I bought at Target for her - it came in a Pokeball, of course - and she chose that little yellow creature as her comfort-object right away. For a few years I scoured Amazon and the Target shelves for a replacement, and never found one; he was literally irreplaceable.

The first trip to Disneyworld she took Pikachu along, and I have home movies of her holding him up to the window of the bus so he could see the gate as we passed through. Of course he couldn’t, and she knew it. Of course he was just a toy, and she knew it. Pretend, nothing more. But Pretend still matters when you’re seven. Pretend is the thread that runs through your life and connects the parts public and private, the fuse of the imagination. When the spark hit powder she became interested in so many other things, and it was inevitable Pika would be left behind.

There were a few desperate nights when we couldn’t find him, but we did.

There were a few days when I was cleaning up her room while she was at school and noticed he’d been tossed on the floor instead of placed on the nightstand.

There was the night when you notice she hasn’t taken him to bed.

“Where did he go?” I asked a few months past, and she said “he’s right here!” and pointed to the mug that said NATALIE, the one with her drawing pencils. Pika was right there indeed. On her desk among the implements of imagination.

Part of me wants to hide him in a pocket in her suitcase she’ll never check, and take him out when she gets back and put him right back in his accustomed spot. And never tell her.

It would be our secret.


As for the challenge at the top of the page: my ears perked up right away, because it's one of my favorite pieces of music. It's not often you hear it as background music; they couldn't find any stock music to saw away in the background?

You'll know it or you won't.


From what I understand, Hanson wasn't too keen on having his symphony played in this context. Perhaps he thought it cheapened it, weakened the connotations that had been built up in the 48 years since he wrote it, and made a new generation associate it with Ripley in her underwear. He was mistaken, I think. It introduced people to the best thing he ever did, and the emotions people associated with the closing credits were hardly grim. After the absolute horror and tension of the previous two hours, the relief that floods from this lovely piece is mostly enough to get you back to normal.


I'd say almost, but a few of you got it.

Now, the cues. You may not care, but you might: “the Couple Next Door” will be available on CD, and will also - no, I’ll save that. But it’s something very, very good. It will take a while for the disks to catch up to where I am now, which concerns the Piper’s trip to Europe. It’s the second great story arc of the series - over a hundred episodes related in stand-alone bites, which is no small trick. They’re in London here, and through an utterly believable series of events Mr. Piper slips on a banana peel and falls into a suit of armor at a museum.

Yes, yes, it’s an old comic cliche, but listen to Peg The Writer recognizes how it’s a cliche - and note how Peg The Actress goes from mildly argumentative, amused by the cliche of the banana peel, then unsparing amusement at her husband’s pratfall, and then quick rote non-apology apology and reassurance. All in the space of 20 seconds. You could plot this voice on a musical scale.

Mack Sennett.

Okay, now the cues.

CND Cue #350 Officialdom presents itself with remorseless authority.

CND Cue #351 Whoever this composer was, he excelled at this sort of crisp-and-brisk cue, with the little leaf-in-the-breeze flourish at the end.

CND Cue #352 This one’s new: came out of nowhere without connection to any other cue I’ve heard so far.

CND Cue #353 Standard show-closing stinger.

CND Cue #354 Another from the series of cues that sound like Donna Reed should walk through the doors in a dress and pearls.

CND Cue #355 This was used to transition between a scene involving the kid, and the parental reaction. Either it was written for that purpose or someone did a really nice splice job.

CND Cue #356 Another one of those hyperventilating ascensions with a great gust of wary relief.




Radio commercial from the days when Moms listened for instructions on which cereals their kids would be clamoring for, which could also be repurposed to asuage the husband.

Kix cereal, 1959


Oh, okay.

Updates on the right - Patriotica ads, and a NEW COLUMN at the newspaper. Here. (Scroll down to the Columnists pane; when I did this it hadn't posted yet.) Have a grand weekend!




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