Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Powerfully Spiced Sausage Meat

Bill Boyle got me reading these stark novels of Osamu Dazai. I read two of them and neither one had an owl in it, as far as I could tell. But as you know, I also like books with gelatin in them, especially Jell-O. (See also.) But I'm not "blogging" anymore, so I can't just "blog" about any old thing anymore, especially seeing as how I don't "blog" anymore. But there was this interesting jelly sequence in this one Osamu Dazai novel: "Oh, I'm sorry. Have you made jelly? That's terrific. You shouldn't have bothered... it would be wicked not to eat your wonderful jelly... It tasted watery, and when I came to the piece of fruit at the bottom, it was not fruit after all, but a substance I could not identify... as I manipulated the peeling lacquer chopsticks to eat my jelly, I felt unbearably lonely." It really made wonder about the particular kind of jelly being discussed, but not enough to look anything up. And I couldn't just "blog" about that! But what if there were TWO books with gelatin in them? Suddenly we would have a theme going! Such a possibility did not even occur to me, frankly, but then there I was in Square Books all of a sudden, and hey! Do you know about this "Constant Reader" program they have? Well, it's not my job to explain it to you. But sometimes you get a free book. And I had this little slip of paper in my wallet entitling me to a free book. And that's when I saw what I didn't even know I needed, inconspicuous on a back table: the recently discovered novel by Walt Whitman. So I got it for free. And I meant to open it to the beginning but somehow it fell open to page 10, which catches Whitman mid-phrase: "preferable to some, is the powerfully spiced sausage meat, or the jelly-like head-cheese." Now we're getting somewhere! PS: Prayer works! After composing the bulk of the above, but leaving a few gaps to fill on my return, I went off to visit my mom and dad for a few days. I took with me a biography of Howard Hughes that Megan and I are reading. In my few free moments, I read some of it, which is how I came upon "Charles W. Perrelle, the able vice-president of production for the Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Company," who was, somehow, in the eyes of the authors, both a "boy wonder" and an "owlish-looking man." PPS! Not to put a cherry on top, but when I came home I watched the most recent episode of Pete Holmes's show CRASHING, which I had set to record in my absence for just that purpose. The song over the closing credits was "Sometimes I'm Happy," as performed by Jerry Lewis. Life seems to be at its peak.

Saturday, March 11, 2017


Last night I watched UN FLIC on Ace Atkins's back porch - just look, there I am standing in front of the projector afterward - and I had a pretty good tweet about UN FLIC that I tweeted when I got home but then I realized that nobody wants to read tweets about UN FLIC, so I deleted my great tweet about UN FLIC, and that's when I realized I'd better "blog" about UN FLIC even though I don't "blog" anymore. That's what the "blog" is, I realized: a big old city dump. You don't want to drive out there to the city dump but sometimes there's some unwieldy thing you have to get rid of. So I was supposed to bring something "French" to Ace's, so I found this mushroom recipe in an old French cookbook, and I used about half a bottle of good white wine in these damn mushrooms - pardon my "French" - ha ha! And then they turn out to be these... mushrooms. Just some mushrooms lying there. Just some cold mushrooms lying wearily on a plate. "Serve very cold," the old French cookbook advised. It didn't help. They were just like... mushrooms. You eat one and you're like, "Yep, that's a mushroom." You know, maybe I was too timid with the coriander! "They can't possibly require THIS MUCH coriander!" I yelled. "These old French people were CRAZY!" Well, who's laughing now? The old dead French people, that's who. The only good thing about them (the mushrooms, not the old dead French people) was Dr. Theresa's suggestion that I bring along Bob Hope's cocktail forks for people to spear and eat them with. I also brought Bob Hope's very own personal (former) glass toothpick holder to hold them in! The cocktail forks, I mean. One of my greatest joys of the evening was seeing Bill Boyle's little girl absolutely murdering a strawberry with one of Bob Hope's cocktail forks. (In case some of you don't know why I have Bob Hope's cocktail forks, I bought them at an auction.) Well, anyway,
I didn't understand UN FLIC. Like, Richard Crenna spent a lot of time combing his hair! Like, I think I got up to pee and came back and Richard Crenna was still combing his hair. That's what my great deleted tweet was about. I can't remember the exact wording of my great deleted tweet, but it was something like, "Critics the world over agree that UN FLIC is the film in which Richard Crenna spends the most time combing his hair." So you can see why I deleted it. It's too specific for the high-pressure world of the on-the-go twitter user of today! This "blogger" I found ("click" here) has a more positive spin on that scene (pictured), which I will now quote: "Once we're inside the train, Melville's sure touch returns... The scene goes on for several minutes, during which we see Crenna carefully adjust his coiffure not once but twice... the meticulous preparations are mesmerizing." The fact that I was just all, "Boy, he is sure is combing his hair a lot!" is my own problem. As Bill Boyle pointed out, the long shot of the adorable little helicopter flying over the tiny train made UN FLIC look briefly like a Wes Anderson movie.

Sunday, February 19, 2017


As you know I often claim not to "blog" anymore unless I read a book with an owl in it, which I am then compelled by nature to add to my long list of books I read with owls in them. So last night I finished reading the wonderful new novel - partly in that it has many wonders in it! - by George Saunders, LINCOLN IN THE BARDO. It takes place mostly in a graveyard, among ghosts, which I don't think is a spoiler, as the book flap mentions both the graveyard and the ghosts. So right away, you know, I feel pretty sure it's going to have an owl in it. Ghosts? Graveyards? Owls must be on that list. But I go along for quite a spell and no owl. Then some ghosts are gliding through the graveyard and some generic "birds" look at them funny. We are told that birds don't care for ghosts. Which is interesting, but I thought, "Well, that's it for birds in this book." BUT THEN! Chapter LXXIV, which takes place inside a mausoleum, starts like this: "Outside, an owl shrieked."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

You Didn't Let Me Down, Sam Shepard

Almost at the end of this short new book by Sam Shepard and I was like, are you kidding me? Are there not going to be any owls in this book? Why, Sam Shepard's the one who got me started in my lifelong career of counting the owls in the books I read. But now there's a section about the movie THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (though he doesn't name it), with a weirdly persistent refrain that the movie has "absolutely no sense of humor" (is that a bad thing? I can't tell what Sam Shepard thinks!) and Sam Shepard has bats and owls chasing the incredible shrinking man at the end of his movie, though I don't think that's accurate, and I should know, remember how I had a lot of big thoughts about the end of that movie on January 14, 2009 ("click" here)? Of course you do! But maybe I just forgot the bats and owls. Or maybe Sam Shepard is using "poetic license"! I guess we'll never know.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Hieronymus Bob

Steve Wolfhard sent a pic of Bob Hope driving a golf cart in the shape of his own (Bob Hope's own) head. Then Tom Herpich cleverly "photoshopped" it (I guess) into a Hieronymus Bosch painting. I don't know if you would have spotted it had I not told you. It fits right in!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

What Ruth Gordon Ate

You get a lot of meals catalogued in this Ruth Gordon book. Megan was most interested in "steak Stanley," which comes with fried bananas, while my eye fell on "curry soup Waterbury, named after the great polo player who'd flung himself out the Pullman window." Megan, with her prodigious research skills, immediately procured a recipe for steak Stanley, which she sent along, but I'll be danged if I can find anyone who knows about "curry soup Waterbury" aside from the late Ruth Gordon. I found one famous polo player (and rope manufacturer!) named Waterbury, but I don't see any indication that he threw himself off a train. I never try very hard, though. For example, I have no idea what Ruth Gordon is having for dinner here with Orson Welles and Shirley Temple, or why, or what Orson Welles thinks he's doing with his hand.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

The Original Skeeky Kid

Megan Abbott and I have been reading lots of books about movie people together. We read some books about Orson Welles, then we read about Walt Disney, then Bunuel's autobiography (first recommended to me by Bill Taft), which, to my astonishment, did not have an owl in it, though there were rats and spiders and one or two bats and hair growing out of cracked-open tombs. And those were just his childhood memories! As you know, I don't "blog" anymore unless I read a book with an owl in it, and that brings us to MY SIDE by Ruth Gordon, which Megan and I are reading now, in which a certain Miss Jerome is described as a "five-foot, brown-haired, brown-eyed, parchment-skinned ninety-pound replica of a hoot owl." And that's Ruth Gordon just getting warmed up! I'll tell you one mysterious word she likes to employ: "skeeky." Even Megan, who loves to do research (remember when she found out all about "friendship clubs"?), had trouble tracking down examples. I looked in my GREEN'S DICTIONARY OF SLANG, VOL. 3, P-Z, and found only "skeek," with examples drawn from the early twenty-first century, which seems to be directly opposed to the way Ruth Gordon uses "skeeky." Skeekiness, in Ruth Gordon's usage, is a condition to be desired. The only helpful example Megan could find comes from a magazine short story from 1915: "he spilled a line of bunk about her being the only and original skeeky kid." This fits nicely within the time period that Ruth Gordon is writing about when she uses "skeeky." So! Now that I've got you here and I read a book with an owl in it, I can tell you about an unrelated matter that has been on my mind. I watched the Welles version of THE TRIAL, and it pretty much ended with - SPOILER! - Anthony Perkins alone on a desolate shore with a lit bundle of dynamite. And that reminded me of PIERROT LE FOU, which also ended with its isolated protagonist standing in a lonely spot with a lit bundle of dynamite. And then BANG! Is this a genre? I think I need to find a third example before I can say it's a genre. Oh! While I was watching THE TRIAL, Megan happened to tweet - not knowing that I was watching THE TRIAL - that it was Jeanne Moreau's birthday. And then there she was in THE TRIAL! Jeanne Moreau, I mean. And there I was not knowing it was her birthday. And just about the first line she has in THE TRIAL is, "If you're stuck for something to say, try happy birthday." Isn't that a weird coincidence? Well, I thought it was a weird coincidence. Okay, I'll see you next time I read a book with an owl in it!