Driving home from the office, listening to the BBC: two economists debating Scottish independence. One was in favor of it, and was nerdy and saturnine about how everything with be sorted out in a year and a half. The other fellow had gears and cogs shooting out of his ears, and he also had a great plummy voice and the last name of Boodle. He made a rather convincing case - this is a great leap with the assumption that there’s a net at the bottom of the chasm, to put words in his mouth he didn’t use, and if they think they get to be part of the pound they’ve rude shock ahead. Of course they could join the Euro, but there’s not a Scot who wants that, and if the YES contingent floated that as a likelihood they’d be scuppered. To put words in his mouth.
It seems a strange thing to say about national independence movements, but I’m inclined now - in terms of the health of the West - to argue for hanging together, lest we hang separately. From a distance it seems unthinkable that Britain would diminish thus. At least it’s accomplished one thing, and tartan-caps-with-cloth-balls-on-the-top off to the folks behind the YES campaign: no matter what the result, they managed to create a country keenly aware of its divided nature. Half yes and half no. That’ll end well.
That said, the NO slogan - “Better Together” - sounds like something a spouse would say to argue against a divorce, because their joint savings account took better advantage of compound interest. But it’s hard not to look at Albion from this distance and sense a strange unspoken need for willful self-diminution, as if there was some general agreement that the best way to atone for being England in the past - that awful colonial thing, that horrid globe-straddling confidence - was to take a nice long warm bath with a bag over its head.
Warmer today, but the world has lost interest in hanging on to the heat. It spends it right away and it’s squandered by sundown. One tree in the neighborhood has gone full red, but just one. There’s always one that jumps the gun and looks foolish. Go ahead, we’ll be right behind you. (snicker) Squirrels are busy, which has brought out the Plott Hound in Scout; he trees every one he can chase, and stands on his back legs with his paws in the air like GLORY! GLORY HALLLLELUJAH!
Okay, okay, here’s the guitar solo I was talking about the other day, describing the last great sunset summer highway drive. Yes, I'm showing my age. No, I don't listen to this stuff much; I usually have new material on the playlist.
It's "Goodbye Stranger." Supertramp. The solo isn't flashy or technically dazzling; it’s just simple and melodic, confident and exuberant. It’s those first few notes after the beat changes - the tempo waxes and wanes throughout the piece, so when it finally kicks into fifth gear the song takes off and the the guitar is heading straight down the center line at 85 MPH.
Note: I never inflict long long stuff on you, if I can help it. From Serial video snippets to musical examples, my goal is the same: SHORT.
Fender Rhodes underneath, and a hint of clavinet, too.
I will never shy from defending these guys. They were headed for pop perdition fast by the time this album came out, but “Crime of the Century” is almost the thinking man’s “Dark Side of the Moon” - it appeals to the adolescent sense of alienation without being adolescent itself, or stoner-deep, and to this day I still have to pause if the iTunes kicks up “School,” because the opening bars are so harrowing and despairing. And it’s harmonica.
But! All the deep, bitter cynicism was eventually washed away in the gentle cleansing action of fame and millions, and that was that. Fine. It would be sad to still trundle out the 20something despair when you’re hovering around 50, and just as sad to relate to it.
Could the eternal soundtrack of boomer rock be a reason that adulthood has unraveled, as that A. O. Scott piece puts it? The more I thought about it the more I thought it was overheated and misguided, playing more into boomer self-regard’s final stage: self pity. It also highlights another boomer trait: retrospective respect for the things they spent most of their years treating like a dog treats a fire hydrant. You build your self-image around being a solo runner until you realize it’s actually a relay race, and when you turn around to see who’s handing the baton there’s no one there.
Anyway. As an electric guitar player, though, Hodgson had nothing on Bill Nelson from Be-Bop Deluxe. Here’s a snippet from a live concert; he never went where other guitars went, and these licks always make me cross my eyes.
Guitarists will roll their eyes at the start of this; overtones? Really? Feedback? Really? That fast trill - a rookie move on the top strings, man. This is like heavy metal! It's beneath you! But then . . . it's all Nelson.
I saw Be-Bop Deluxe opening for Alice Cooper, of all bands; Nelson's top E string snapped during the first solo and he just did everything on the B.
When last we met our hero . . . He was in a plane that was crashing to earth. It’s quite a change for the formula: he didn’t parachute out. He didn’t jump. He just survived the crash, that's all. He lasy out the dead, and runs into the woods.
It is odd to see Batman in the woods.
Well, the evil Japanese Ringleader has to call the sub, exchange ritual Banzais, and inform them that another plan to get the airplane must now be hatched. Fine, says the sub commander, but make it snappy. These waters aren’t safe. Why, there could be a destroyer above us right now, and - hold on a sec.
Now the entire spy ring is rededicated to one new purpose: never mind the radium gun or the plane plans. It’s time to kill Batman. They will start by bugging Linda, the girlfriend’s house.
Back at Stately Wayne manor, everyone has a completely natural conversation in a settling that is completely natural and not awkward at all:
They go off to meet Linda’s friend Ken Colton, a rustic lanky fellow who’s rich because he struck Radium on his property. Still hasn’t gotten around to buying a better fake beard, though.
It’s the kind of fake beard that makes you think he’ll be unmasked as someone later, but that can’t be; he’s Linda’s friend! And Bruce knows him too. But there has to be a reason for such a conspicuously false array of facial hair.
Since her house is bugged, the spies know there’s a new big source of Radium, so all of a sudden that plot’s back on the table. But Ward Dick discovers the bug, leading to a spasm of expository speech.
The spies, hoping that a fistfight might enliven an otherwise pedestrian entry, break into Prospector Uncle’s hotel room, because all men who own vast deposits of Radium have the directions to the mine in their suitcase. They are discovered by Prospector Ken, who engages in fisticuffs against the hated Claim Jumpers, and is duly rescued by Batman.
A fake Prospector Uncle is needed for a rendezvous, and here my suspicions are borne out. (I’m writing this as I watch, if you’re curious.)
Alfred. In an equally fake beard. He goes to meet some “investors” who are, of course, spies, and they take him to a “factory” that conveniently has a large vat of acid. But! Batman to the rescue! He swings down, and the hoodlum graciously waits before he throws the rope to Robin.
The ensuing battle has the strangest fight blocking ever. Here! Hah! A chair! Deal with that!
If you watch that again you'll notice an edit in the fight; it reveals the importance of the Chair. It has a mind of its own. Here are two consecutive frames.
Well, gunfire punctures the acid vat, Batman is knocked out, and the “chemicals” - there’s nothing as deadly in serials as “CHEMICALS” - head towards some electrical wires. And so:
Dead, dead, dead. But - but no! There’s more next week! Oh, man!
One bit of bonus dialogue:
That's his favorite part.
Today: END OF MOTELS. Because the Motels are updated in Summer, and by this time next week the summer will have passed. See you around.