As I figured, I didn't watch any of the movies I brought on the plane. I read some New Yorkers, because I will always love the New Yorker, just like I will always love the Economist, and I'm pretty sure I'll cancel both in a fit of pique and sulk for a few months then re-enlist.

Watched a self-satisfied, predictable "Twilight Zone," which - unlike, say, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" - is more of a period piece than a timeless series of tales. Rough flight at times, so I just popped a cough drop (not a euphemism - it gives you something to concentrate on, if need be) and listened to Bruckner and Mahler. The latter was brittle and sarcastic until it opened up in a flood of earnest sentiment that made you think Gustav was trying to convince himself he hadn't written all the mocking parodies of himself just five minutes before, but was still capable of genuine emotion; the Bruckner, as ever, was astonishingly monumental. (The Seventh and the Ninth respectively, if you're curious.) It's interesting to see how I react to pieces I've known most of my life and haven't heard for a long while. I never noticed the bitterness in the Mahler before; I never heard realized that the aching yearning in the middle of the second movement of Bruckner's ninth was so anguished, because he was old, and looking back. When I heard it I was young, and looking forward - and it still connected.

Sitting in a chair in the sky, tossed up and down, eyes closed in the dark, listening to old dead men who scribbled blots on lines on paper and captured the last exhalations of their culture. No one who attended the concerts thought so at the time, I'm sure; it takes history to infuse the works with retrospective verdicts. But we hear it now.

Some details from the journey.

My hotel. Oh dear. It's like it's aspirating fear when it tries to say its name:



The backwards sign indicates a restaurant that has closed, possibly because it used Mistral for its font. The front of the hotel has that hand-painted look you see in underdeveloped countries:


Eh, close enough! It's an old property in the process of gradual renovation, and having gone through pages and pages of Yelp reviews, it earns its two stars, as well as it's 3.5 rating. Some people got the old smelly rooms with big clunky CRT TVs. Mine didn't smell of solvents! Hoorah. It had a flatscreen! Hoorah, except that it was standard def stretched to widescreen. Tired carpets, dead ice machine, decent enough complimentary breakfast, but here's the killer:

Hard soap. It was like washing up with a small brick. No lather.

Thin, small, scratchy towels. It's something you'd find in a Motel 6 twenty years ago.

This seems like a small complaint, and yes compared to dire conditions most people have faced in human history, the peeve is miniscule. On the other hand, you're paying no small sum to stay here, and something like this says: we assume you won't be back.

Down the street, a mix of new and old, and I can't possibly imagine why you would be interested in it. But there was something old and ordinary that caught my eye.

I love that imagine. First of all, it's like a cross-section of sedimentary layers. Second, it's perfect early-mid Seventies crap.

Perfectly lifeless.

The San Francisco airport has a big display of Toy Story designs and prototypes, treated like Art.

Because it is.



Apparently the first Woody was going to be voiced by Alan Reed:



In wireframe mode he's creepier than he was on screen. Those eyes. Those dead, empty eyes.


I had a pang, looking at it all. As you might expect. The story, when it began, was bittersweet enough - but in the time it's taken to tell the story, twenty years, people have had kids and gone through the experience of Toys, maybe twice or more.

As I wrote in the work blog today:

Someone brought pizza on the plane. Two fresh hot pizzas from the restaurant in the concourse. When he walked through First Class, everyone in their big wide seats and free drinks and hot towels looked up, suddenly aware that there was something better than First Class, and that was Pizza. Everyone in Coach looked up as well, and thought: you fiend, to tempt us so. You genius, to bring such things on a plane; I never thought of that. What I can't figure out is how he secured them during takeoff. It's possible he checked the flight's webpage and saw the middle seat was empty, and secured them with a seatbelt.

But he was accompanied by wife and small daughter, who was having the time of her life, chattering with happiness about the trip, asking a dozen questions about the plane. You know the age: talkative, confident, happy to have a backpack with a Disney character, dressed in bright spangly colors. She stepped with care over the crack between the jetway and the plane: oooh, I might fall! You remember your own daughter at that age, and you want to tap the dad on the shoulder, and say "you know, pal, this is as good as it gets, in a way. It'll be just as good later, but it'll be different,. You're a lucky man right now, and I hope you realize it."

I should add: that might be as good as it gets, because something that simple and ordinary and sweet is as good as it gets. And that might be okay.

Caught this view before I got on the plain.

I certainly understand why people live there. I enjoy being there. I'd like to have a place there if I won the lottery.

But it would have to be one of those half-billion jackpots. Otherwise you're constantly counting pennies.



We continue with music cues for "The Little Things in Life," Peg Lynch's last continuously running sitcom. It was syndicated on "The Serial Network" in 1975-76, sold to local stations as a package of stories. Part of the last gasp of radio storytelling on AM. A promo:

Hope you're liking it!

Before we get to the sound cues: Remember I said last week that she gave every character their name of the actor? And how this was Peg just being Peg more than she was being a character?

Well. They're posting some handbills for a sale. Peg's friend has some ideas where they should go.

Turn Left


That's where she lived.


Well, there are lots of streets named High. I mean, it doesn't mean her characters live in Becket, does it?


Well, it doesn't mean it's Becket MA. I mean, if that was the case, when someone had to take a flight, they'd have to drive to Bradley airport.

By the back roads

I've driven that route. I love it - she was writing these in the house, and when stuck for a name of a road or town? Look out the window.


Another Armed Services PSA to bore the hell of everyone sitting in a barracks in Germany staring at the roof wishing they'd shut up and get back to Dragnet.

PSA: Times have changed!

And your point is?

Raymond's, nationally known home of fur-vault quality:

ONE percent?

"We'd like a jingle, but we don't want to pay for it."

We pick up the story of Matt Neffer again. Warning: there is no story. If you remember last week, Matt went upstairs and called for Todd to follow him.

Matt Neffer, Boy Spot Welder. King of the Boy Spot Welders

I think they improved a lot of this. I'm not sure how it could be written.


These guys again. With a very late-60s-early 70s typeface. It's a United Artists recording, and thank you Charlie Chaplin for that. Really: and DW Griffith and Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. It's been gone for a while, although it made a brief resurgence in 1986 and released one record: The "Karate Kid 2" soundtrack.

Anyway: veever poor veever. A 1967 Yves Montand film, also starring Charlie McCarthy's niece.





That organ comes from a certain era. It has not aged well.



Interesting bridge, by the way. (On the cover, not the song.) It seems like a lot of bridge. What came down the stream? Tall-masted schooners?



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