If your TV was on last weekend, and it was tuned to a broadcast channel, and you have a small child, perhaps you saw some incomprehensible animation, and wondered what this was. Dragonball Cowboy? Yu-Gi-Oh-Oh? Something like that. Hectic head-hammering seizure-fests that consisted of people leaping in the air, screaming, and hurling fireballs at each other for reasons only a nine-year-old boy could explain or care about. Yu-Gi-Oh! existed to sell expensive foil-flecked trading cards, which can be used in games that make no sense to any adult.

If you watched that, you saw the end of an era: it was the last Saturday morning cartoon show to air on broadcast TV.

We should take a moment to recall a fine American tradition of sugar, violence, toys, and endless mornings spent bathing in the healing glow of cathode rays. My earliest cartoon memories weren’t on Saturday morning, though. Tom Terrific. Ran on my beloved Captain Kangaroo. It fascinated me, and was also unnerving - the kid could squiggle himself into other shapes, which seemed unnatural.

Next: old cartoons on afternoon kid shows, and while I liked them - I think; I probably just absorbed them, as kids do, unaware how they were planting memories deep deep in the cellar - it wasn’t until the early 70s when the Saturday pastime of watching the morning block became something you looked forward to. This was for kids. Cartoons were segregated to holiday specials or afternoon kiddie shows, except for Saturday: the long buffet! Gorge! Gorge! And when it was done and you'd watched the last cartoon around noon even though you didn't like it that much, you felt slightly ashamed. You'd been watching cartoons for four hours straight, and knew you'd watch another hour if there was one.

It began with the best of them all, the Bugs Bunny / Road Runner hour. I had no idea what they were talking about; the words just flowed, and it was only years later I parsed them out: overture, curtain lights / this is it, the night of nights . . which made little sense at 8 AM, but who cared.

You don't need to hit play to hear it, do you? But if you do, you can tell the difference between the main theme, which is old-style WB cartoon music, and the 60s style in the "Road Runner" cartoon, which didn't bother me at the time but annoys me today. That twangy tinkly guitar in the background, for example. The voices that sound like a chorus of Kind Elementary School Teachers.

Then came the parade of Hanna-Barbera, and for this I have no nostalgia, only depressing memories. In retrospect they're depressing. At the time it was fine. It was awesome. We accepted this crap BECAUSE IT WAS A CARTOON.

Also girls.

There will always be those who find hidden treasures in the HB catalog - and there was some fun, and yes Space Ghost was cool, but: same characters, same styles, same sidekicks, same sound effects, same voices, same repeating backgrounds, same snickering animal sidekicks, same horrible animation. What's worse is that this mod drivel . . .

. . . would all too often lead to this.

Good Lord.

So, best theme? Toss up for me. As cool as many were - and sometimes they were literally so - I still think this one is the best.

It gave you chills.

Now? Cartoons everywhere, some for everyone, some for kids alone, some intended for "mature" audiences, meaning those who don't have to ask parental permission to order pizza but are not necessarily imbued with the discriminating tastes developed over a lifetime of studying the medium. It means cusswords. I like some of these shows, and they've good themes - there's more wit and imagination in the Gravity Falls opening than the entire fargin' run of Frankenstein Jr. - but there's something about the ones that hook you early and bury a memory of wintery mornings with Cream of Wheat.

And then there's the ones you watch when your kid's the same age, and they get their hooks into you for completely different reasons. Because now it's a wintery morning with Cream of Wheat, and you're making the nourishing gruel, you're cleaning up the toys, you're thinking well, we'll turn it off after this one and do something instructive. But there's still that cozy domestic pleasure of everything being Right With the World, partly because you haven't turned on the news and checked the web yet, but mostly because the kid's watching her favorite show and you know, Mr. Noodle is an amusing fellow.

About the time Daughter outgrew the morning cartoon block on Disney Junior the shows seemed to get less interesting - ticking off a demographic box, plugging together basic concepts in a slightly different form, using a new and unlikeable style. She moved into nothing but Spongebob, and I will be happy man if I hear that shanty no more. It used to give me a pang when I thought about those mornings, the theme of Olie, and Stanley, and the Wiggles singing Mashed Potatoes, and all the other songs of the morning. But not any more. I can't remember those days very well, except to recall the memory of recalling them. That's probably a good thing. The pang was a small sadness, and I don't miss its absence.


Today's pumpkin-themed item, part of the October Festival Harvest Season Roundup:

Haunted house in Victorian form?. Check. Bats? Check. Smiling character? No: the M is terrified, for once. Usually everyone's smiling because Halloween is Fun!

You know what else is Fun? Toppings! Fun toppings. Which are M&Ms. Great breakfast there. Part of this nutritious breakfast, which also includes a glass of sugar and some bread spread with sugar.

Column night AND novel night. But of course there's more.



Some towns try just enough so you wish them well. Others seem resigned. What will the verdict be for . . .


It's the First Redeemer Jail of St. Warden:

They have a website - well, they have an URL. The town website says it has a gen-u-wine old time jail cell, so my initial reaction was correct. It's the most adorable prison in Texas!

Elsewhere, something that just has that sad Last Picture Show vibe:

As does this. I wondered why I chose this picture, and then realized it was for the names. Standard and Gibbs.

The Standard was, and is, a newspaper; wonder if that was their office. Gibbs, I've no idea, but obviously it got the 50s / 60s retail makeover . . . and then perished.

Speaking of the Last Picture Show:

Cinema Treasures:

Built in 1927 in the heart of Brady, the 450-seat Palace Theatre was part of McCulloch County’s cultural heritage for twenty-eight years. It was here that many people experienced their first movie and some, perhaps, their first kiss. Closed since 1955, it became a jewelry store. Later the empty structure was both a silent reminder of “what used to be” and a symbol of the transformation of the downtown area that has already begun.

Well, you can be the judge of that.

In need of some transforming:

You just don't know what they thought the end result would be. It's as if they couldn't stop ruining it.

Below, for example: they bricked up the windows in three stages?

Another example of excessive brickage below, perhaps - was the left side turned into a cave, or was it originally built like that? Seems likely the right side was repeated on the left side.

Time vs. the Simpson building. Maybe once it was a draw.

It all revolves around this.

The County Counthouse. From Wikipedia:

. . . during World War II a German prisoner-of-war camp was built three miles east of the town; it housed more than 300 Germans, most of them members of Rommel's Afrika Korps. Brady grew slowly from the 1920s through the 1950s, with population estimates reaching a peak of 6,800 in 1958. In 1959 the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway abandoned the section of track between Brownwood and Brady, thereby reducing Brady's access to outside markets. The population fell to 5,338 by 1961 and subsequently stabilized.

In fifty years it's added two hundred people. Onward and upward!

View Larger Map


Work blog around 12:30, maybe; Tumblr up; Fargo updates, right up there on the right.


blog comments powered by Disqus