The Critic

A brief animated display of abstract prerogatives with commentary from an audience member.

Bach, Fischinger. Also Klee, Kandinsky, Miro, Albers, Calder, Man Ray, Duchamp.

This is said to have been observed by Mel Brooks at a screening of Norman McLaren, whose work is also evoked.

Ginastera’s Harp Concerto once produced a comment in a similar fashion, “modern music always gives me a headache”. Also Emerson Woelffer’s paintings, and Schwitters’ Construction for Noble Ladies (“you can really tell that’s what it is”) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.



The Adventure of the Chinese Dog
Ellery Queen

The title refers to the gilded figure of a temple dog rampant on a jewel-encrusted ball. Its possessor is murdered, but the object is not stolen, and only later turns up missing from a police evidence locker.

The beauty of this is that the desired element in a murder for loot cannot be withdrawn from the crime scene by the killer, because the sheriff has placed deputies guarding the front and back doors. Therefore, the element is made to be the murder weapon, and is thus spirited away in an official capacity. The sheriff is in fact the murderer, and one of the main clues is a pinprick on the victim’s thumb, caused by one of the campaign buttons tirelessly pressed on voters by this wearied public servant.


A Long Way from Times Square

Kojak in Nevada, not Las Vegas, a little place called Santa Flora (the local constabulary lock him up in Cory).

There’s mob business behind a phonybaloney drug charge preventing extradition, Greek is spoken over the phone to New York, “addio,” says Kojak, and turns to his smug cellmate, “it’s French for goodbye.”

On a clear day you can see New York like Boswell’s London, there are other ways of silencing a witness that must be defended against.

“God made the country.”


The Adventure of the Blunt Instrument
Ellery Queen

This is very close to Mike Hodges’ Pulp in its defense of the writer against literary vivisectionists. A haughty scribbler wins the Blunt Instrument Award for Best Mystery Writer of the Year, and repines at its lowly status. He’s slain while talking on the telephone to careless rival Ellery Queen, whose opinion is given that the prizewinning novel is its author’s best work.

The suspects all were celebrating his victory at the author’s home, the bitter crime novelist whose work, according to the deceased, is “thinly-veiled pornography”; the secretary set to wed this rival; the publisher who cheats on royalties and whom the author is ready to flee for his ex-wife’s publishing house; the mistress of dubious citizenship and morals, an actress of sorts; and the Chinese houseboy with an Italian name.

The murderer is the research assistant, who may actually have written The Shanghai Solution, a Marine Corps veteran with one good leg and two bad arms from Okinawa. The murder weapon is not as thought the Blunt Instrument Award itself, but a swift judo kick to the temple, and the motive is a proposal of love to the actress.

“There is no arguing with Johnson,” according to Goldsmith, “for when his pistol misses fire, he knocks you down with the butt-end of it.”