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Diary Rings

Gift from Hil Part 2 - 2014-12-30
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There was A LOT of turkey. - 2014-12-04
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6:33 p.m. - 2013-06-18
Draw Me a Picture

Life has slipped back into its comfy groove. So grateful. Of course the cardiologist next week might put the whammy on my peaceful easy feeling, but I'm pretty sure he'll just tell me to lose some weight and get off my duff more often. My appointment, btw, is on Wolf's birthday. Mick's is Thursday (the 20th) and Wolf's is this coming Tuesday (the 25th). A flip-flop from when Alex and I were doing the birthdays five days apart thing. Mick will be 54 and Wolf will be 16!!!

We'll take a pause while those who've been here since my kid was a diaper baby get a grip on this.

Yeah, buddy, sixteen. Hell, when I started this diary Alex wasn't even 16 yet. Now he's all grown and shit and that unholy terror toddler Wolf is as tall as I am, heading into his junior year of high school and is turning SIXTEEN.

Perhaps it's a good thing I'll be seeing a cardiologist on that day. Heh.

The giant granny square afghan is almost finished. I've gotten to the boring part where it takes an hour to do a row per side. At four hours for a single new row I'm getting that "Are we there yet?" feeling. But I shall persevere. Most of y'all make sweaters and socks and all kinds of complicated stuff like knitted uteri and slipcovers for gazebos so the least I can do is finish a damn afghan.

It actually stopped raining for almost two whole days! Of course the skies opened about an hour ago and the rain is sluicing down. The windows are covered with rippling sheets of water. Puts me to mind of a fairytale from my childhood about a trolley car that jumped the tracks and sailed off a cliff into the sea. The trolley trundled along on the ocean floor and all the fish would peer in the windows at the passengers giving them an insider's view of what it's like to be a goldfish. Far as the story went the trolley stayed down there and the poor passengers were on display to the curious ocean denizens forever.

That doomed trolley car haunted me for years.

For certain I knew it was just a story but for a kid raised on German storybooks I was particularly sensitive to fairy stories where people met bad ends. I tell you what, the STRUWWELPETER will fuck you up when you're four! In my Oma's version Conrad the thumb-sucker was named Hansie and the thumb-snipping tailor had a big smiling crescent moon face and wore a straw boater, a red and white striped jacket and white trousers like a carnival barker.

The thumb-snipper also haunted me for years.

Brrr... Anyway, the watery windows and their association with the doomed trolley car. That story was on an LP. I had two albums of stories read aloud by amazingly talented voice actors. I believe the records were given to me by my Chanel grandmother, something her daughter (my mother) did NOT appreciate. Noise was an anathema to my perpetually hung-over, highly strung mother. I had another story record, this one a series of adventures involving Touché Turtle and his faithful sidekick Dum-Dum. That one drove her so bonkers that one day she raced into the living room, yanked the record off the spindle of our big console stereo and screaming like an avenging harpy she snapped the record in two over her knee. She raced away waving the pieces of the broken album over her head laughing and yodeling, "Good-bye, Touché Turtle!"

For many years I resented this and thought it more than a little extreme. However I've been in the mom business myself for almost 30 years and after decades of Teletubbies, He-Man, Power Rangers, Dragon Ball Z, and the relentless hell tunes of Nintendo games I have come to admire her restraint. I know I played that Touché Turtle record at least 100 times before she lost her shit.

Touché Turtle was voiced by Bill Thompson. Another fabulous voice actor. After doing radio for many years he took on doing voices for cartoons. And if Touché Turtle isn't ringing any bells, Bill Thompson was also the original (and best) voice of Droopy Dog.

I know it's a thing these days for well-known actors to do cartoon voices. Especially in feature films. (Donkey and Mu-Shu the dragon were the saving of Eddie Murphy's career.) And even back in the day there were name actors doing voices. June Foray, Boris Karloff, Lionel Barrymore, and Wally Cox- each had successful careers in front of the camera before taking on voice work. But my favorites have always been the guys whose whole careers were about providing the voices for animation. Most people know Mel Blanc from Warner Bros but how many know Daws Butler? He worked first with Tex Avery and Walter Lantz and Bob Clampett then went on to do practically every voice in the Hanna-Barbera catalog. Huckleberry Hound, Quick-Draw McGraw and Baba Looey, Yogi Bear, Augie Doggie, Barney Rubble, etc, etc. I think the soundtrack of my entire childhood was done by just two guys. No. Sterling Holloway and John Fiedler are in there too. But those talented guys, the voices of hundreds of cartoons, shoot, I know them in a second. It only takes two syllables of "Oh my darlin' Clementine" in Daws' voice before I am 8 years old sitting in front of the Zenith laughing my butt off as Huckleberry's naive honesty is besting Powerful Pierre the scoundrel's cheating schemes without Huckleberry even knowing he was doing it.

Catholic school and years of churchy lectures and doctrine lessons didn't come anywhere near the character defining impact of those animated morality plays disguised as cartoons.

Seriously. In the cartoons of my growing up years the characters who were sneaky, who were greedy, the cheaters and the cruel, they always failed. Always. The virtuous (whether they knew it or not) always won. In fact the ones who were blind to their goodness and did the right thing because that's just what you do was the most constant trope. Penelope Pitstop being the most obvious. (And isn't it telling that the ONE female main character in the cartoon hero pantheon is a dimwit who doesn't even know she's cock-blocking the bad guys?) Cartoons were harsh in their value judgments. When Fred Flintstone or George Jetson tried to scam their bosses or their wives they were always busted. Tom the Cat only got flattened with anvils and such after he was mean to Jerry Mouse. Daffy Duck, always the scammer, never, ever, EVER bested Bugs.

I watched. I laughed. I learned.

Church didn't make a dent. My Oma's horrible morality tales only gave me nightmares. But...cartoons got through. Atheist in practice, but the agnostic in me kinda thinks the voice of God sounds a heck of a lot like Mel Blanc, Bill Thompson and Daws Butler.

Funny, no?

In an animated state of mind. ~LA

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