There is hope. At Target on Saturday I saw a riot of signs that prove Spring is possible, and - as I thought at the time - even likely. There were pastel Oreos, which are always a good sign. There were Peeps. There were things with bunnies, which means Easter, but not religious Easter. More like Eestir. Let's call it that.

There was the appearance of the unnaturally alert Debbie the Lesser, with a different food coloring drizzled over the sugary shellac:


Spring Nutty, bedecked with bronchitis phlegm! Surely it's nigh, you couldn't help but think. Sure enough, on Sunday we almost hit 60, and that was a fine time to take all the lights off the trees. They'd been off for weeks, but we can't leave them up there, or people would Talk. Or at least draw conclusions, most of which would be quite correct: no, I can't be arsed, now that you ask. My wife had wound some lights around the trunks quite tightly, and the only way to get them off was to put a ladder in the soft mud, brace myself against a branch, and use a scissors to snip them off, hoping the ladder didn't sink too deeply. Finished the job without auto-stabbing or falling on my head, and I had a pile of destroyed lights that need not be tested next November to see it they work.

I'm thinking ahead.

Watched "Spectre," with mixed hopes: reviews varied, Craig's interviews betrayed boredom with the role, samples of the title song suggested it was possibly the worst ever. It had a Blofeld, but would there be white cats, stroked?

There was a white cat, stroked. More to the point, there was an origin story for the scar.


I appreciated that. It makes Bond and Blofeld enemies outside of time, grappling eternally in a kaleidoscopic tunnel. But Blofelt is motivated by control and ambition; what's Bond's motivation?

Surely someone's written reams on this, whether he's a hired gun or a patriot or a fanciful combination of both that hits the sweet spot men have for hard agents: he's doing a job, but it's not a matter of who pays the most. Underneath there's dedication to protecting the West. Well, England. But the motivations here turn out to be personal, because if we've learned anything over the years from Bond to "24," it's this: you'll be cut loose and screwed with a wide rusty augur by the governmental system you seek to protect. It's not new: as a kid, the idea that the "Mission: Impossible" team would have their actions disavowed was built into the story. It was part of the deal. It was probably in the IMF orientation packet.

Other thoughts: horrible "Bond Girl," if that's still a term; she looked to be about 16. No chemistry. Liked the obvious Oddjob references in the big bad guy; would have been great if he'd smiled more, but that would have been too obvious. The last half-hour had some peculiarities that made you feel like you were watching the last episode of the Prisoner . The "realism" of the previous Craig installments was thrown to the wind, but it had its thrilling moments, and the opening sequence, with its long, long tracking shot that almost blended seamlessly to CGI, was a kick. If I'd seen the whole thing in the theater I might have been a bit underwhelmed. At home, in Blu-Ray, it was worth two bucks.

Maybe more. There's a singular thrill when the movie opens with the familiar music. It's one of the sole constants in life - the sound, and the thrill. I always go back to my first Bond movie, which was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen. "You Only Live Twice." It frightened me. The astronaut cut off to drift away; the casual mention of the phrase "liquidated," which I interpreted literally, and spent the rest of the movie dreading. I did not want to see anyone turned into liquid.

My Dad took me to see it, perhaps that I should learn the Ways of the World.



Back we go to . . .



I don't think these hail from the olden times; I think they're rather recent. By which I mean, perhaps no more than 30 years old.



You'll have to imagine the context. You'll have to picture some fair, some festival, some event where you got the chance to put your mug in a WW2 context.

Left empty, they have a haunting quality.




Lum and Abner Festival continues with the second entry's attempt to fix what the first one broke - namely, audience expectations. The fans would have suspected what this was about:

Abner was married to Lizabeth, with Little Pearl as their daughter. Neither were ever heard on the radio; Little Pearl grew up and went into the WACS, although Lum and Abner themselves maintained a perpetual status somewhere fifty and seventy. Or perhaps 46. They were always referred to as The Old Fellows, after all.

Lum would get a crush on a schoolmarm or a new arrival from time to time; she'd hang around for a while, never heard, until she drifted away, never mentioned again. But now Lum has someone he's been seeing for years:



Zasu Pitts! She plays Miss Geraldine. I don't remember the character. If he'd been sparking at someone for five years, as the movie suggests, we'd have heard about it. Again, it's like going to a Star Trek movie and Sulu is the Captain of the Enterprise, and he's always been the Captain, and nothing you know matters.

No continuity. Ten years of backstory, and they just throw it out the window when they make a movie.

But then they bring in a radio character. Finally.


The delightful character Cedric, the village idiot. The problem: Chester Lauck, who played Lum, also played Cedric on the radio. This guy just doesn't have the same wondrous dumbness.

We do hear from the Widder Abernathy - on the phone, but it's another nod that the familiar characters will be far more prominent, and this will be much more like the radio show. Why, here's Uncle Henry Lunceford! Except he's not the town marshall, but an impoverished farmer. Again, it's like Star Trek movie where Spock is a hot-headed Italian doctor.

I do not understand this at all.

Squire Skimp shows up, and does a commendable job of copying the voice; Chester Goff, aka Abner, handled this voice.


Is it better than the first? Yes, inasmuch as it's more accurate. It has a running gag about cheap eyeglasses - everyone ends up with a pair, and they distort everyone's vision - that simply couldn't work on the radio show.

Anyway, Lum decides that something exciting should happen in Pine Ridge to make him look good, so he can ask Miss Geraldine to marry him. Various plots rise and fall and it's over in 70 minutes. The Widder Abernathy's husband shows up alive, so she's not a widow. This has no effect on anything on the radio show, ever.

At one point they divide the store, which would be familiar to the audience:


I always hated when this happened. About once a year they'd have a falling out, and draw a rope across the middle of the store, or just stop talking out of suspicion or fear or anger; even though you knew they'd figure it out and go back to their old friendship, it pained. Because you cared about the Old Fellows.

No one who saw this today without context would have any idea why the radio show was so popular.

One more thing: when the Widder Abernathy comes into the store, she brings her chillin.

This girl . . .

. . . you've heard her sing.

Oh yes, you have. But chances are you might have thought it was someone else.

Things are changing around here; new deadlines, earlier in the week. Whether this means the middle of the week will be light and the back end heavy, we'll see. No work blog today; off on an interview. See you around!



blog comments powered by Disqus