Vic Mizzy, 1916-2009

Vic Mizzy, Songwriter of ‘Addams Family’ Fame, Dies at 93 [NYT]

Whatever. You need to see this.

I can’t do linky clink because of nojo’s unreasoning antipathy to me even though he knows I worship him. But I’ll try: (Capt? Hold my hand? Oh. OK… ooh… that’s not my hand… but… ) Click below. Vet hero. Het vet. Ret hero. Tet het.

I have driven a tractor, and I have worn a suit. But never simultaneously. I cannot think of a circumstance that would drive me to do so.

@Benedick: And they say the old folks just don’t understand.

That made me cry. I reserve my sentimental tears for occasions like this.

@blogenfreude: Green Acres often gets overlooked as a precursor to the absurdist comedy of the Seventies.

In the Python doc (two more eps!), they credit Spike Milligan (who has a cameo in Brian) for going meta before they did. But you’ll see glimpses of that in Green Acres, such as Eva Gabor pointedly waiting for the credits to finish before she starts a scene.

Next: Metaphysical gymnastics in Hee Haw.

Also, Nojo, I do observe a moment of silence for the songwriters of sitcom intros. Especially Vic, because of this, from his manager:

He was smart enough to demand to own the song, which was unheard of at the time. So any time you go to a Lakers game and they play that song, he made money.

And you did too, manager! Every penny earned, I’m sure.

Vic, rest in peace.

@nojo: You totally gotta deconstruct Hee Haw. I promise I’ll show your treatise to my grandpaw.

@Pedonator: The cornfield represents life and death, into which the characters appear wholly formed and disappear just as quickly, their individual fleeting consciousnesses facing the void that follows the punchline. It’s as if Sartre staged No Exit on a farm.

@Pedonator: The Zarathustran presence of Conway Twitty intercedes at critical moments, his guitar an obelisk whose eternal music cannot be understood, only felt. When they cut to the egg cartons, we see the enlightenment that dawns upon the newscaster, bearing a message that all deny, yet none can resist. It is all unexpected, yet inevitable.

@Pedonator: On the other hand, the chicks with big boobs are just chicks with big boobs.

@nojo: Yes, but what does the price-tag dangling from Minnie Pearl’s hat signify?

/TJ/ I subscribe to Harper’s. Not just the RSS feed of Scott Horton and Ken Silverstein but the real, physical magazine-like bundle-o-glossy-pages that appears in my mailbox every so often.

So I open it up tonight, the 11/09 edition, after it’s been sitting on my kitchen table for a few days. Because I love to delay my pleasure, like an orgasm.

I tear through the letters (Naomi Klein schools AIPAC-wannabe Gerald Steinberg), the always-informative Index, most but not all of the Readings, word-for-word on the excellent article The Intelligence Factory by Petra Bartosiewicz (gotta love anything by anyone named Petra, not to mention the impressive surname). There’s also an essay in there about the demise of the “newspaper”, which I skip because it doesn’t interest me.

Then there’s this long “memoir”, About Motorcycles, by some literary giant named Frederick Seidel. I’m intrigued because I suspect, in a lengthy reminiscence about motorcycles and the men who straddle them, there will be some soupçon of homoerotic subtext, but no, after plowing through 3/4 of the “memoir”, no mention of the combustible power one feels between one’s legs, not to mention the creaking of the leathers.

But what ultimately makes me abandon the text is the feeling that it is just the masturbatory elegy of a rich trustafarian of literary lionage who never acknowledges the privileged circumstances by which he, alone among all men, is able to procure the specially customized Italian iron steeds that transport him between his Manhattan townhouse and the “country” abodes of his well-heeled friends.

Maybe he wraps it all up in a glorious epiphany at the end, but I couldn’t get there.

Stinquers, I’m sure some of you have opened the same meat-space collection of pages: what say you?

@Pedonator: No action is without cost, no price without burden. When we acquire the hat, are we freeing her head only to encumber ours? Or are we really paying Charon to cross the Styxian chicken yard that is our ultimate destination? (Always the eggs. Always the eggs.)

@nojo: Wow. Well done.

I just thought it was the prophecy of Wal-Mart.

@Pedonator: I don’t have that M.A. in bullshitting for nothing.

Regarding Harper’s, there was a brief moment in the early Eighties when Michael Kinsley (yes, him) made it interesting, in a proto-Spy kind of way. (The Letters Lady would get all cranky with reader mail, among other things.) But after losing, I dunno, all their subscribers (except me), Lapham returned to make it safe for designer coffeetables.

@nojo: I confess I miss Lapham’s Notebook entries. He may be a scion of Texaco, but I’m a sucker for acerbic social criticism from those who nip at the hands that feed them.

@Pedonator: Okay, you got me to hunt down a bit I wrote in a previous incarnation, and had to go to the Wayback Machine to resurrect.

The setup was a monthly riff on something absurd in Wired, which I called HayWired…

“Object-Oriented Television,” column by Nicholas Negroponte, Wired magazine, July 1996.

“You think Java is important — wait until we have a similar language for storytelling.”

FUNCTION Serpent(Gen_3:5) {

    IF (AdamRib == EatFruit) {
        EyeState = Open;
        KnowledgeState = GoodEvil;
        MortalState = SurelyDie;

    } ELSE {
        MortalState = LiveForever;


OK, Cage Match: Lewis Lapham vs. Graydon Carter. With mud glitter.

Which superhero wins?

@nojo: I think that calls for a recursive function.

Anyway, WTF is object-oriented television?

And, I hope Nick is smarter than his brother John.

@Pedonator: Wired in the 90s was all about visionaries, dontcha know.

Nick was last seen pitching the “hundred-dollar computer,” which ended up costing $200 before disappearing. Methinks the Emanuels have a better family IQ than the Negropontes.

Well you two had fun last night.

@Pedonator: I used to subscribe to Harper’s but it finally got too annoyingly smug even for me. Ditto Granta. Too annoyingly anti-American in that suburban, drizzly, Limey way.

@nojo: Spike Milligan and The Goon Show entirely invented Monty Python. Nothing wrong with that. Shoulders of giants, etc. Peter Sellars was one of them. My dad played in the band and I would sometimes go see it being taped when I was a child.

I thought you were talking about Lerch.

@nojo: @Benedick: There is a newer show worthy of Goon Show, Python level reverence and line-memorization, it was that show with the two who played Jeeves and Wooster so long ago.

@Prommie: Never saw it. But the Goons really did define a generation. To the point where even Prince Charles was seen impersonating Bluebottle – one of Milligan’s characters – in a cringe-making home film that somehow escaped into the wild a few years back.

@Benedick: Spike Milligan and The Goon Show entirely invented Monty Python. Nothing wrong with that. Shoulders of giants, etc.

They’ve said as much, repeatedly — the coffeetable doorstop is much more thorough than the video documentary, and they delve into the Goon Show and Spike’s later TV show in great detail. Cleese even says “shoulders of giants” in the video doc.

I think it’s also Cleese who freely admits that much of Python is latter-day panto. So yes to your broader point, that part of Python’s appeal to American audiences was an exoticism that Brits would find thoroughly domestic. It actually took me forever to accept that Gilliam was from Minnesota.

@nojo: It’s no secret – quite the reverse. I think they saw themselves as part of a proud tradition. As indeed they were. Before the Goons came the Crazy Gang and the Folderols. I’m sure you could follow it back to two fools on a church porch hitting each other with bladders to make Chaucer laugh. I thought it was very bright of Cleese to bring out of retirement a director from the classic Ealing comedies to direct Fish Called Wanda.

@Benedick: As in Pithon’s “Fish Slapping Dance” skit?

@redmanlaw: Kinda, yeah. Hadn’t occurred to me.

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