A couple pieces fell out of the recycling bin when the truck picked it up this week. There’s no doubting it was our recycling. I recognized the brand of vegetarian imitation tuna that’s somehow cheaper than real tuna. (That’s probably nothing to worry about.) The salad dressing bottle. Couple of other things that were definitely ours and were just sitting in the street. So I took these things, that had until yesterday been in the to-be-recycled bag in the breakfast nook, until they were put in the bin and taken to the curb, back from the curb to go inside and get put in the to-be-recycled bag in the breakfast nook. And at that point I realized I was in some existential comedy/drama and I don’t know that I can handle that in 2020. Please send meaning.
Yes, I believe strongly in minding my own business and letting people deal with their own stuff unless they say they want me coming in messing things up. But it’s sorely tempted since I noticed someone’s taped an 8½-by-11 page with close, tight writing on the neighbor’s front door. I mean, yeah, probably it doesn’t indicate anything more than that talks have completely broken down over the issue of who is supposed to take the recycling bin to the curb on which days, and who is supposed to bring it back the next day after the truck has collected it, Ron, after. But what if it’s something really exciting, like there’s a new policy about when new orange juice will be made from concentrate or a memorandum regarding how many articles of clothing may be tossed into the laundry chute at once without jamming it? How am I supposed to live as though that’s none of my business either?
I have to apologize right from the start for this week’s Talkartoon. Not so much about the content. Although I should warn it does use several times the joke that it’s funny if a woman’s clothing should fall off. Men lose their clothes too, but it’s meant to be funny that you can see Betty Boop’s bra. What I have to apologize for is I can’t find a good version of the cartoon online. Archive.org has one with nasty compression artifacts. I don’t see one on YouTube that’s much better. Which figures, since this is a densely packed cartoon with a lot of visual jokes. Sorry; best I can do.
This was originally released the 2nd of January, 1932. It’s the first Talkartoon of that year. And it’s got credited animators: Willard Bowsky and Thomas Bonfiglio, a team that also gave us Twenty Legs Under The Sea.
Can a cartoon be made up entirely of side gags? Sure, especially in the 1930s, and especially from the Fleischer Studios. There is something holding all the jokes together. It’s Thomas S Allen’s ragtime hit of 1902, Any Rags?. It’s a catchy song; here’s a 1904 recording. You maybe haven’t heard of Thomas S Allen but you know at least one of his other songs: 1905’s Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal. Yes, I’m also shocked to learn that song is newer than, like, the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The song, and cartoon, are built on one of those jobs that today seems to come from another dimension, the rag-and-bone man. The job, of gathering up trash that can be put to a new purpose, is still there, of course. It’s just that it, too, has been industrialized, with metals and paper and plastics being gathered by the city every other week (or whatever), and clothing gathered every couple months. Or you see them in the people rooting around trash bins for soda pop cans that can be turned in for the deposits. Still the job as it was sounds daft: gather stuff people were throwing out, and then sell it to other people? Without Craigslist to mediate?
Betty Boop gets top billing, pretty good considering she doesn’t even appear until the cartoon’s halfway over, and is in it about a quarter as long as Bimbo is. Props to whoever her agent was. Koko gets a mention too, and he’s only in for one quick joke. Bimbo is the center of a lot of stray and amusing and often wild little jokes. He doesn’t seem to me to provoke most of them, to be an active participant. But he’s there while they happen, which is worthwhile.
There’s almost nothing but blink-and-you-miss-it jokes this short. I like the string of nonsense items the housewife hangs on the clothesline, starting about 1:30. But there’s plenty of choice. Bimbo swiping the moustache off a lion demanding to know what’s the deal with stealing his pants? Bimbo’s spurned valenteine-heart dropping out of scene on a parachute, about 3:25? The statue of Atlas eagerly showing off his globe to the auction attendees? Take your pick. I don’t spot any real body horror along the jokes. I would have expected, at minimum, the cat that’s put through the clothesline wheel to end up shaved. Maybe everyone at the studio was feeling kindhearted that week.
There’s a fair, not excessive, number of suspiciously Mickey-like mice in the short. A couple turns up about 1:10 in, in the birdcage that Bimbo fishes out of the trash bin. (This short summarizes so weird.) The housewife and her clothespin-attaching assistant at about 1:30 in are also mice.
I like this cartoon throughout. There’s very little story structure. I suppose the auction has to happen near the end, and the garbage turning into a home at the end, but the rest is arbitrary. That’s all right; the progression of music gives enough structure for the short to stay enjoyable and keep feeling like it’s going somewhere. It’s a good example of building a short without any real plot or big jokes. Just lots of little bits of business.
- Styrofoam coffee cup
- Cherry Coke Zero can
- Paper coffee cup, half-cup of tea
- Banana peel
- Four-day-old newspaper
- Dr Pepper Cherry Vanilla bottle
- Bundle of plastic wrapped around itself
- Oatmeal cookie
- Unmailed, unaddressed Christmas card envelope torn open
- Sprite Zero Cranberry can
I noticed, on the edge of the plastic bag from Meijer’s, this warning:
Patent No. 8,067,072 And Other Patents Pending
Now I’m enchanted. I mean, I understand how you might have one patent for a plastic bag, what with it being a totally non-obvious idea of having a sheet of plastic folded up again that holds stuff and can be held at the same time, but, what about the patents pending? What other mysteries of advanced technology and imaginative design have gone into this thing I got to hold a canister of canola oil because we forgot it the first time through and I ran back in? I’m kind of hoping they’re Wi-Fi enabled plastic bags, because I like the thought of recycling centers just turning into vast natural repositories of accumulated Wi-Fi signal until they reach the point that the styrofoam packing we weren’t supposed to put in the recycling bin and that’s become an unwanted pile of junk over there can send out its own e-mails about how excited they are regarding their own patent applications.
Well, the leaves started falling in earnest over the past week. With the help of a little rain last night there’s now drifts of up to eight feet tall in the backyard, with a strong undertow when I go out to put recyclables in the giant monster bin. We’ve had to tie a safety rope to the Bauhaus Monstrosity bench we have in the front yard, so passers-by can tack their way down the sidewalk, and the squirrels have assembled a modest lighthouse by the pond so their kind can navigate safely. Also I’m pretty sure I saw a flock of maple leaves attacking Tippi Hedren. Going to be a heck of a November.
The knock on the door came too early for me, what with it coming at all. Outside was the garbage truck. One of the guys was at the door.
“Are you aware of what trash and recyclables are supposed to go out today?”
We had set out just the trash, saving the recycling in our gigantic and monstrous bin, which was in the back of the driveway, towering over the old recycling bins. Down the block, some neighbors had set out the trash and the old recycling bins. One had set out the trash and the new recycling bin. One had set out just the new recycling bin. One set out the new recycling bin and the old one. One set out a couple of plastic bags. One was curled up beside the new recycling schedule, sucking his thumb and weeping. One had put up a sign that she had fled to Dallas.
“I … thought the schedule said regular trash today and both trash and recycling next week?”
He nodded gruffly, turned back to the truck, and said, “I told you so, Dan!” So I guess there’s been some confusion about the new scheme.
And the new recycling bin chuckled, while the old ones cowered and squirmed over toward the squirrel feeder.
They delivered a new recycling bin. It’s a monstrously huge bin, large enough to dispose of a compact car. It looms above the garage and the first floor of the house, and I can’t swear that it isn’t the source of these deep, menacing chuckles I’ve been hearing at night.
But this does mean we have to get rid of our old recycling bins. They’re supposed to be put in the new recycling bin, the one bigger than my elementary school. That doesn’t bother me, but, when the time comes to throw away the new recycling bin … I mean, its successor is going to have to be at least as large as the Farnum Senate Office Building, right? It just follows.