|The (eventual) semi-subject of this piece, practicing what he'll do if he ever finds me.|
Can't sleep. Trying to work off my performance adrenaline - yes, apparently I'm so sedentary that even the exertions of doing a radio show, all that pressing of buttons and occasional wheezing into microphones, raises my pulse to above that of a sea slug, and there's no easy way down from that thrill ride. (And yeah, I still have a radio show - the sole, reliable constant of my life over the last 12 and a half years, where I can still be counted on to deliver a serviceable facsimile of entertainment for two hours in the dead center of every week. Thank you, Marconi.) Anyway, that's why I'm back with another post so soon after the last one, even if it's only to display a glittering shard from another broken project, which is laid out in the last two paragraphs if you can hack through the verbal kudzu enough to find it. But the only reason those two paragraphs are still here is to give it the impression of, if not an ending, at least a stopping point, so I'll save you the bother: basically I was going to analyze every piece of Albert Brooks' career from when it started in the late sixties to now, every movie role, record album, print piece and bit part and talk show appearance, everything. Which went the way of all the other ludicrously ambitious projects I've mooted here, i.e. Nowheresville city limits. And it really only started out to be what it more or less turned out to be: an over-the-top overexamination of the only ten minutes of the forgotten Saturday morning cartoon Hot Wheels that existed on the web at the time. So much time has passed since I started this that full episodes have started drifting onto YouTube, but I refuse to watch them and sully the purity of the existing work. Which I hacked away at obsessively, mostly on sleepless late late nights like this one, until I drifted away into other distractions. There's something slightly insane about all this, but it gave me more joy than anything I'd written in a long while, at a time I could have used all the joy I could fabricate, so I should pay it the honor of bringing it out into the light. So dig! (And I do mean dig - it'll take a bit of spadework to get to the good parts, but they're there, really.)
And now it's time for another installment of Things That Inexplicably Fascinate And Delight Me. Had an idea for my newest perpetually-unfinished, overambitious analysis/retrospective project, which, in a roundabout way, led me to this segment from Hot Wheels, a Saturday-morning cartoon which debuted the same month I did and ran a scant seventeen episodes (parceled out over a two-year period, undoubtedly due to the stringent demands of their pioneering Perspectavision animation technique, recognized by scholars of the form for redefining the state of the art of immobile, expressionless people blinking a couple of times) before getting unceremoniously yanked off the air and suppressed forever after for being too controversial, too daring, too much like a half-hour commercial for Mattel. This ten-minute fragment is all that remains.
2) Of course, that was far from the only influence at work here - the meaningless plot, protracted silences and characters frozen in existential terror, as if saying, "I am trapped in a cel. But are we all not trapped in cells of our own? The ones spelled with an extra 'l', at least?" owe a clear debt to the Theater of the Absurd, a debt acknowledged by adding a character whose gait recalls the pained limp of Vladimir in Waiting For Godot and whose accent was clearly devised in honor of that play's Dublin-born author. Why else would they have chosen to give him the otherwise-unlikely character of an "Irish cop"?
Mattel crumbled under the FCC’s finding that Hot Wheels was essentially a half-hour commercial for their product and their insistence that they use its former time-slot to present an apology; the ratings were so impressive that ABC reran the apology every Saturday for six seasons under the title The Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots Smash Bang Contrition Hour. (Mint-condition Executive Vice President Seymour Rosenberg action figures are known to fetch four-figure prices at auction sites, even more if the Jive-Talking Annual Report and Audit Stopper Laser Ledger accessories are included.) The company’s 1972 purchase of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus was rumored to be a spiteful attempt to run the Shriners out of business. The ban on ethnic minorities in Saturday morning programming was reinstated and remained in force for the next ten years, since it was clearly their fault that all this happened in the first place. And the voice actors… um…
...and from there, we crumble into dust, with a couple of bloated paragraphs attempting to establish the concept of American showbiz as a dark, blighted locale few travelers escape unscathed, or some such thing. (The last thing I did was set the Eye of Sauron and the CBS eye side by side, so you just know I was on