Wednesday night, and yes, this involves insomnia but only tangentially, we were watching a YouTube video of this old Betty Boop cartoon. Adam had heard that Coco the Clown, one of Betty's friends, had a little hidden in-joke attached to him, literally, that involved Hebrew letters that spelled out something I can't even remember. The short was an enactment of a song called, "I'll be glad when you're dead you rascal you" sung by Louis Armstrong. We spotted the thing we were looking for, but while watching, I realized there was something oddly familiar about this very trippy cartoon. Around the middle of it, when Louis Armstrong's head floats up into the sky and sings to Betty, Coco and their little dog from up above, I remembered I'd seen something very much like this before in a movie.
Ok, it's been a while since I saw New York Stories. I hardly remember it, except for Oedipus Wrecks and the part where Woody Allen's character is mortified by his mother who has suddenly become larger than life and is floating above the city telling everyone on the streets below stories about her son's most embarrassing moments. Woody Allen plays Sheldon, the tortured son, and in my addled memory, Debbie Reynolds played the mother. Anyway, to make things more complicated, I had to look the movie up on imdb but found out it wasn't Debbie Reynolds at all. It was an actress named Mae Questel who played his mother. Of course, being the amateur sleuth I am, I looked her up and coincidence (?) of coincidences, Mae Questel was the main voice for Bettty Boop in the 1930s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Questel).
Of course I had to see if Woody Allen had been inspired by the above mentioned Fleischer Studios cartoon but could find no mention of it on the internets. Just for kicks, I emailed his publicist to find out if there was a connection between the cartoon and Mr. Allen's short. I doubt I hear back but you never know. I suppose I've got my insomnia to thank for another mystery partially solved.