Speedy Gonzales 420

Rain, rain, rain. To balance the pleasant weekends we’ve had in April, the last one was cold and very wet. On Saturday the water came down practically all day, pausing in the wee hours of Sunday and early in the day, and then starting again.

I looked at a national temperature map on Sunday night and a weird blue gash of a cold front extended southwest from the Great Lakes as far south as western Oklahoma, signifying temps in the 40s and 50s. Thus Chicago was colder (at 43 degrees F) than either Billings, Mont. (61) or Fargo (57), both of which are west of the gash. And it was 65 degrees in Indianapolis, 71 in St. Louis. But those places had the cold front to look forward to.

One thing to do during such days is to stay home and watch cartoons. We happened to have a disk around the house featuring an assortment of ’40s and ’50s Termite Terrace shorts. One was “Gonzales’ Tamales” (1957). Been a long while since I’d seen a Speedy Gonzales cartoon, maybe 40+ years since I’d seen this particular one, and I’m not sure Ann had ever seen one.

The closed caption titles happened to be on. Things were moving along: Speedy was being speedy, outwitting the gringo Sylvester, and so on, when Speedy sings a version of “La cucaracha.” Then I had a Did he say what I thought he said? moment. I rewound a bit, and sure enough, he did.

The imdb describes the scene: “Around 4:42, Speedy is heard singing a spoof of the Mexican folk song ‘La cucaracha’ with nonsense words in odd Spanish which could be transcribed as: ‘La cucaracha, la cucaracha, ya no puede caminar. ¿Por qué no Fanta? ¿Por qué no tiene marijuana par fumar?’

“This would seem to mean: ‘The cockroach, the cockroach, she can’t walk any more. Why not Fanta? Why doesn’t she have marijuana to smoke?’ The Fanta reference is the most puzzling part of the verse. But the mention of marijuana is clear, and how the artists got it past the censors would probably be a good story in itself.”

Heh-heh. I’d guess that there wasn’t much of a story in getting it past the censors. Probably Friz Freleng and Warren Foster (the writer) put it in to see whether the censors would notice. No one did. That’s entirely plausible. I’m sure I didn’t notice all those of years ago, and I might not have noticed this time had the titles not been on.

Thursday Tidbits

Cool air to begin October. Fitting.

I saw part of The Iron Giant on TV a few years after its 1999 release, coming away with the impression that I ought to see all of it someday. That day was Saturday: Yuriko, Ann and I watched it on DVD. Upon its theatrical release, apparently the studio dropped the ball in marketing it, so the movie didn’t do well, but it caught the attention of critics. I can see why. Not flawless, but high-quality animation and a fun story.

Occasionally we still discover another food that the dog will eat. This week it was refried beans. She was pretty enthusiastic about them, in fact.

NASA has just published remarkable images of Charon, moon of Pluto. Or are they considered twins these days? I haven’t kept up with those definitions. Anyway, how often do we see something that’s absolutely, for sure never been seen by humans before? Not often.

Around 30 years ago, when I bought my first car, I remember pricing some Volkswagens. As usual for a young man, I was looking for an inexpensive car. Volkswagens of the time weren’t as inexpensive as I thought they would be.

A decade earlier, when you wanted an inexpensive car, they would have been the thing. They were People’s Cars, after all. But somehow the brand had strayed away from the entry level by the early 1980s, and before long I owned an entry-level Toyota, a company that remembered to make models at a variety of price points. I’ve bought a number of other Toyotas since then, too, above entry level.

Now that Volkswagen’s been caught committing mass fraud, I imagine the talk a few years ago between two upper-level company managers (in cartoon German accents). After all, imagined conspiracy scenes can be fun.

Hans: Can we really get away with this?

Fritz: Ja, the Americans are too stupid to catch on.

Obviously they learned nothing from the history of the 20th century.

Cold Tuesday, Clutch, Dog ‘n’ Tree

This from today’s Chicago Tribune: “The temperature [this morning] dipped below zero overnight at O’Hare International Airport, the earliest that has happened here since 1995… The temperature fell to one degree below zero around 12:55 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. That’s the earliest subzero readings here since a low of minus 4 on Dec. 9, 1995.”

Those are two-fisted Fahrenheit readings, not any namby-pamby Celsius, either. Remember last winter, when it didn’t seem to get cold at all, with little snow? Not this time. So far. More snow is supposed to fall in the wee hours tomorrow.

Open questions: Is Clutch Cargo enjoying some kind of vogue among hipsters? Otherwise why is the Music Box Theatre, a fine revival and arts house on the North Side of Chicago, screening five episodes of the show on Friday?

Yesterday, girls decorating the Christmas tree. Today, a snap of dog and tree.

Payton+Tree

She hasn’t shown much interest in the tree, unlike certain other trees during her walks. I figure dogs have their own holidays, which somehow have something to do with epic events in the history of smell.