Friday Bleats are the worst, I know. My mind is already on the weekend on Thursday night, but this week has felt longer and darker than most. I can’t remember the sun ever popping out; a grey lid above every day. There’s a tree in the corner of the living room for some reason I can remember, if I put my mind to it. Anyone who’s had a Christmas during a family horror story knows the feeling of going through the motions, of waiting for the moment when you find yourself humming a Christmas tune, and feeling as if all the memories that usually tumble out like a box of puppies at this time of year are keeping their distance with worried expressions: is everything okay? There’s going to be Christmas, right?
Well, of course there; there’s always Christmas. I love this time of the year. But due to Circumstances it’s just not connecting. In one sense this is a boon; when going through the decorations I realized how many things we’ve accumulated that never get put up, and for good reason: they’re ugly and I don’t like them. They were usually gifts, and if you want to feel like a full churl, throw away a Christmas decoration a family member gave you, or something the kid made in 5th grade Sunday school. Maybe this isn’t the time to make these decisions, but I did.
Any Nutcracker soldier: gone. Those lipless walnut chompers have always bothered me.
The bottle of wine ornament: gee, that’s dang Christmasy. Wine. Never see that anywhere except during The Season.
The fat Monk tootling on a flute: goodbye, Friar. I got him as a gift when I opened a charge account at Macy’s in DC years ago. Never liked him. He’s Merry, of course; if there’s one thing we’ve been taught to expect from fat bald Monks, it’s merriment. Bony hawk-nosed Monks are judgmental. Old thin Monks are wise, and if you made an animated Christmas movie about a monastery this character would be the control-freak autocrat who disapproves of Christmas, but would be upstaged by the other old thin Monk whose slippered foot started to bounce up and down when the fat Friar played on his flute and all the woodland creatures gathered around to gaze up at the Star overhead, the light of a fire playing on their wonder-filled faces. The difference between the two old thin Monks would be communicated to the viewer with simple visual clues: the bad one would always be looking down, and the good one would be slightly hunched and looking up.
This animated special would also require rewriting history so Christmas was a big deal at the monastery, complete with gifts and tree-trimming. The main plot would concern a young monk who did something nice for a beautiful young girl’s family, which caused a scandal; there would be a comic subplot about a clumsy monk who meant well but couldn’t quite get the hang of copying out scriptures and stepped into mop buckets.
I used to hang an ornament I put on my door at my apartment building in Uptown - the one that’s the whorehouse in “Casablanca Tango,” if you’re curious - but it’s a plastic thing I fished out of a bin at a hip furniture store called “Elements.” It’s been with me ever since but you could say the same thing about a small mole.
Kept the ones that are trademarked corporately branded material - the delightful one with mice operating a 40s Coke soda-shop machine, and some “Vintage” Mickey Mouse ornaments that show him in the 30s style, cheerful as ever, tromping through an imaginary woods with a tree slung over his back. The latter harkens back to the days when Mickey was a part of the household vocabulary because we had a tot. I remember buying it one night at Downtown in Disneyworld. We were on the annual trip. It had just begun. Everyone was tired and so very happy.
To tell you the truth it makes me smile to think about that. Daughter’s upstairs asleep at Mickey’s on the tree and the Dog is snortling on the couch and Wife is coming home this weekend from her bedside trials, and Friday is nigh. Suddenly I feel better.
Not so much I’d fish those Nutcracker dudes out of the trash. Jingle Pixie would agree . . . but that’s for next week.
Downtown East: soon everything will be covered up from my vantage point, and there’ll be nothing to shoot but the same walls. Today there were three men working on the top floor, which was more activity I’ve seen in a while.
Pupdate: the other morning on our perambulation we came across the Meandering Pug, a dog who lives an old-school existence: no tags as far as I can tell. Runs free. I know where he lives, so I don’t try to get him back, and he knows where he lives, so there’s no point. This day he was standing in the driveway across the street, staring at us with that expression of utter dismay pugs have, a look that not only says “Oh for God’s sake,” but suggests this is precisely what they expected to happen, things being what they are.
Scout has met this dog before, and is completely in awe of him. Total submission. He’ll leap up to play when we encounter a Great Dane, but a pug makes him roll over. In dog terms the Force is strong with this pug. If he as a Munchkin he’d be one of those little tough ones in the Lollipop League, who always struck me as the guys the League would send out to crack heads and make sure the rest of the boys in the Union observed the picket line.
Father-in-law update: no good news. Even the optimistic news isn't good news. Wife is coming home this weekend
Just so you know, there aren 't 500 cues in total. There have been repeats. I don't think there's any more than, oh, 460.
CND Cue #499 Let’s all go skiing with Fritzi and Mitzi! Or not.
CND Cue #500 No commemorative 500th cue, but an old familiar played out longer than usual. And you can tell it just . . . meanders on. This is music meant to be faded down.
CND Cue #501 YOU HAVE BEEN COMMANDED. Get it! But swank modern living results.
BTW, this radio show was rare in many ways, and one was the number of times people got out the reference books. Which assumed the listeners understood because they had one, or at least thought they should.
Now, the inexhaustible Gunsmoke Variations.
Gunsmoke Cue #38 It helps to have context for these. In this case, something Miss Kitty probably said a lot but not this loud - at least the first part - and not for this reason. But Miss Kitty might have said "COME UP HERE MATT" now and then when she was tired of being pawed by cowboys fresh off a cattle drive, and needed some time with a decent man.
There was absolutely nothing in the plots or dialogue that suggested Kitty was a prostitute or that she was sleeping with Matt Dillon, but everyone knew they loved each other.
Gunsmoke Cue #39 Somehow this makes me think of Bruckner in a dark mood, drunk.
Gunsmoke Cue #40 They said c’mon a lot - but it didn’t always lead to stirring wide-open Western melodies like this one. And why is this Western? Because it’s stirring. And wide-open.
Gunsmoke Cue #41 The first part could be a comedy cue for a wacky TV show; it’s so angular. And that’s a lot of guitar resonance at the end; nowadays they’d clip it off and use the time for ads.
Gunsmoke Cue #42 End-of-the-day sunset cue for the campfire. All is well. (Unless someone starts shooting.)
L&M - the modern smoke.
And that's it for this week. I hope you enjoyed it. Newspaper column up over at Startribune.com - scroll down to the columnists, if you don't mind. Thanks!