R.I.P.: Stephen Hillenburg

Animated cartoons are supposed to revel in the absurd, which is a lot harder to do than wallow in the ridiculous, obnoxious or obscure. “SpongeBob SquarePants” captivated me right from when I saw it very early on. Starting with the looney-but-perfect notion that he was a kitchen sponge instead of one of those wacky globs that live in the real ocean. The core of characters was a perfectly realized team (best cohort: Sandy Cheeks — starting with her name, how’d they get away with that one?) (poorest concept: Mister Krabs’s money-grubbing, which got more than a little icky-poo over time) (best bonus: Plankton has one of the most corrosive asshole-voices ever).

Favorite episode — the one where SpongeBob and Patrick paint the inside of Mister Krabs house. Ending worthy of Surrealist immortality.

Favorite joke line that nobody coming across it for the first time in the future will understand: “You aren’t going to make me read old magazines, are you???”

PS: Second-favorite episode is the one about Sandy hibernating. Her mean-Texas dreamtalk made me scream with laughter when I first heard it. Still wondrous.

The Portrait Of Dorian Facebook

Is it new tech or the interwebs or the combination of the two? Anyway, I learned a looong time ago that there was a sort of evil happy-talk associated with online business operations. “Hey, trust us, trust us — we’ll keep things idealized!” The only excuse is that back in them there days, internet commerce really did seem to have open possibilities. But ever since the Amazon flood, that’s been a fool’s delusion.

R.I.P.: Stan Lee

A person I have had diverse and contradictory feelings about since I was seven years old. (And didn’t even know who he was — though somebody had be putting out these wacky monster comics.)

But my philosophy is that once someone passes from this world, they are free to live on in your imagination however you like. So other folks can be all “Ah, wow!” about those movie drop-ins. I will always dwell on my mid-60s fantasy of the folks who turned comics as exciting as rock and roll — seemed even to be a printed extension of the music. Overseeing it all — a way-cool head honcho, not the be-all and end-all he was much later.

For that guy, “IT’S CLOBBERIN’ TIME!” now and forever.

There Goes Simon’s Rhymin’

We voted this morning (Yes, Yes, Yes and Mr. Baker is toast and even better there was no doughnut table to guilt-trip you about not donating something to the polling-place school).

Then I did my initial listen to what, for now anyway, is Paul Simon’s final album, In the Blue Light. And it felt like closing a circle.

Back in Park Senior High, the simpering set adored Simon & Garfunkel, but I thought “Parsley” puke and even “Sounds of Silence” too quivering-nerve. “Bridge Over” was impossible to scoff away, however, and did provide my first revelation: the simp set was in love with Artie and Paul was ready to divorce all of them.

I think the Dean has had a damn-near-perfect ear for Simon through the decades and we responded to identical same tracks. Except that I always adored “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor,” which came out the year I became an official adult and started living in my own apartment. Yeah, here’s somebody mirroring my mind. But I did have trouble with “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War” — thought it was abstruse. I have not checked to see how much lyrics were modified, but sure enough, this is now a masterful metaphysician operation.

Biggest stinko of the whole set (I’ve listened to it twice and realized I did not even grok this cut the first time through) is that “Love” is track #2. It’s a plain regression to S&G manners and mores and even language. Worst of all, it confirms that part of Simon still respects simp swill. And if “The Teacher” is clearer than it used to be, I still can’t bother to pierce its opaque. It is abstruse.

“Darling Lorraine” is a casually complex example of the Simon the old pimple farms would never grasp — he became an adult, even a weathered adult, not just a pop star with years heaped on him. “How the Heart Approaches What It Yearns” pulls back every lonely era of my life and best of all “Can’t Run But” delights me anew as a twittering and trumpeting machine that radiates the sensibility of the saints.

Thanks for the trip.

R.I.P.: Tony Joe White

I was a serious fan, but he ripped my brains open at a solo club show where we saw him command a room like a full band for every second he was onstage and confirmed that “Polk Salad Annie” was as absurd, profound and moving as every impression you got over the years. And that he was a veteran, ace road-songstrer.

Don’t be a wimp — get the Collected.