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.

PS: “An Elvis Reminder”

Just a thought — a year that includes outstanding albums from deluxe veterans Yo La Tengo, Amy Rigby and John Prine underscores the waste and tragedy of Elvis stuck in unknown territory and pushed down the wrong path. Then gone, gone, gone.

I pray the Graceland footage includes the rooms they don’t allow tourists to visit. The place is an unmatched decorator-timescramble.

Game of Throwns Away

I can’t deny it … “Game of Thrones” has entered a wrap-it-up-quick-and-dirty phase since expanding beyond the end of the book sources. The quest to nab a wight was fun enough to watch, but was a grindingly obvious plot-pusher from the start. The revelation that wights collapse when their maker is killed an apt surprise — but then doing in the Night King becomes such an obvious game-ender that it’s obnoxious it doesn’t happen. My favorite zinger — the undead bear. A truly cool monster and a nice foreshadow that animals get to walk the night, too.

Zeshan B: Screen and Stage

Chicagoan Zeshan B’s performance of “Cryin’ in the Streets” on Colbert got quite a ripple going last week. For good reason. I bet the majority of the small crowd at Zeshan’s Boston debut last night at the new venue Sonia in Central Square had seen the TV show.

Let me say right off that the Colbert segment and the live performance I saw does more justice to the man and his backup than the uneven and rather muffled studio album, Vetted. Even with a stripped-down five piece group, Zeshan splashed charm all over the room, confirmed that he had a feel for soul and a resonant voice suited to a beefy Chicago-rhythm-section. On record and on stage, standouts included the non-English original romper “Ki Jana?” and the plaintive devastation of  William Bell’s “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” done with just Zeshan singing and piano by Lester Snell.

You’ll be there the next time this outfit comes around, right?

 

Expert Witness Comment for the Week

Suppose I’ll have to grab this “Bob’s Burgers” thing, as much of a longshot as it seemed. After all, it was 20 years ago this year I had similar surrender to “the Simpsons” on CD.

And I do have to note that it was “The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse,” two years before the Simpsons, that finally picked up that a main thing missing from latter-day cartoons was zippy, unforgettable music themes.

(Incidentally, I’m with Bob on the value of the cartoon itself — really has its moments, approve of overall intentions, but can’t remember a time I actively sought it out.)