Monday, September 01, 2014

Already Some Pigeons

Last night I saw Lee Durkee and he said, "Nobody can get to nirvana without looking a little silly." I think that's what he said. I wanted to write it down but I didn't have a pen. Then I meant to tell Mary Miller, who was all dressed up, that she looked like somebody Gene Kelly would be dancing with in a movie but it came out, "You look like Gene Kelly." So that was unfortunate! And somehow I walked away without correcting myself. But anyway, Lee was really talking up REBECCA by Daphne Du Maurier. So I stopped by Square Books and picked up a copy. I was a little dismayed that they stuck it in the "Beach" section for books you're supposed to read at the beach. Hey, they just opened up a Gus's fried chicken place up the street! So on my way back from Square Books I walked in and ordered some chicken to take home. It was crazy in there! Packed! Total chaos. So the chicken (which was delicious) took a while. And so I read the first three chapters of REBECCA while I sat waiting at the counter, which I think means I am reading three books at once. That's not my style, baby! REBECCA looks like a sure thing as far as owls are concerned, all that roaming around a ruined country estate in a misty dream and all, and the narrator has already been nostalgic for some pigeons.

A Stone Urn With Flowers In It

People like to pretend they hate exclamation points and semi-colons. MRS. DALLOWAY is full of both! "Then came the most exquisite moment of her whole life passing a stone urn with flowers in it. Sally stopped; picked a flower; kissed her on the lips. The whole world might have turned upside down!" Those are great semi-colons and a beautiful exclamation point and a wonderful absent comma in the first sentence and perfect use of a "cliché" in the last one and certainly some graduate workshop would have scolded her for using the word "whole" twice in such quick succession. (See also.)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Getting Frosty

"Your beard is getting frosty." That's how Chris Offutt put it to me the other night.

What's It About

I'm supposed to give a talk at the Savannah College of Art and Design in a couple of months. I guess it was a few weeks ago they asked me what my talk was going to be about and I was like, oh, gee, huh, what, it has to be "about" something? Around the same time they kept asking me for a head shot. I don't have a head shot, not one I like. I was looking at this photo of Jerry Lewis I used on a previous "post" and thinking wouldn't it be funny to send that in for a head shot and that's when I had an actual epiphany, probably my very first. And I wrote them and said my talk would be about WHY I LOVE JERRY LEWIS and they were polite enough to say, hmm, okay. So I've been watching some Jerry Lewis movies again. Yesterday I was watching THE KING OF COMEDY and I noticed a metal sculpture (maybe?) hanging on the wall of Jerry's apartment and for two seconds I entertained myself with the thought that maybe it was the same artwork he banged his head on in CRACKING UP. I'm sure it's not, despite McNeil's contention that the carpet in CRACKING UP is the same carpet from THE PATSY, only "with 20 years of wear on it" and my CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE that Jerry wears the same bathrobe in THE FAMILY JEWELS and THE BIG MOUTH. I'll tell you one thing: Fantasy Jerry (the one who exists in De Niro's head in KING OF COMEDY) has a lot of acrylic furniture in his office, just the kind I saw when I went to Beverly Hills for that auction of Bob Hope's personal items. Also, I started thinking I'd like to dress like Rupert Pupkin in everyday life, though he'd also make a good Halloween costume. I seem to remember that De Niro bought Rupert's suit right off a mannequin in the window of a store. Where did I read that? I want to say he even based Rupert's hair and moustache on that mannequin. Like, he looked at the mannequin and said, "That's Rupert Pupkin!" (See also.) I think I read that somewhere. Don't worry, none of this will be in my talk.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Omens and Fiends

Lisa Howorth was talking to me about MRS. DALLOWAY and I realized I have never read it. So I went and got a copy at Square Books. At the same time, Bill Boyle's birthday was coming up. So I got him a pretty nice edition of AN AMERICAN DREAM by Norman Mailer. And then I realized I've never read that either, though I have a copy I got from that used book stall I told you about before. And what poor taste to give a gift on which you can't stamp your personal guarantee! So that's how I started reading MRS. DALLOWAY and AN AMERICAN DREAM at the same time. Incompatible, one would think! Oh, but the human brain loves to mash stuff together, am I right, people? (See also.) So when I put down AN AMERICAN DREAM and picked up MRS. DALLOWAY and read about "one of those spectres who stand astride us and suck up half our life-blood... It rasped her, though, to have stirring about in her this brutal monster! to hear twigs cracking and feel hooves planted down in the depths of that leaf-encumbered forest, the soul," well, I thought: "That's kind of Norman Mailery!" I mean, I had just read in AN AMERICAN DREAM, "Yes, I had come to believe in spirits and demons, in devils, warlocks, omens, wizards and fiends, in incubi and succubi..." Of course, in Woolf these things are metaphorical, and I'm never sure with Mailer. Ghosts and magic are real for him. It's to his credit (I think!) that I can't tell whether AN AMERICAN DREAM is ABOUT a crazy person or BY a crazy person. Then you have Woolf's Septimus Smith (makes me think of the name of the Mailer character Sergius O'Shaughnessy) who thinks clouds are sending him messages (to be fair, I may be exaggerating: it's a skywriter advertising toffee, so Mr. Smith IS being sent a message, but not one to him personally - he believes it's part of something beautiful and universal) and that "the human voice in certain atmospheric conditions... can quicken trees to life!" Whereas when I last left AN AMERICAN DREAM's Steve Rojack (like Septimus Smith, forever changed by his experience of war) he was sitting in a bar, convinced that he could make one patron's foot hurt or another get the hiccups with magical invisible bullets he'd mentally send their way... Oh well, I'm just a short way into both books and like Steve Rojack and Septimus Smith and everybody else I'm making connections that aren't really there.

Friday, August 29, 2014

To Rescue His Lover

I've told you about a million times how you can push that little "info" button on your remote control and see a "capsule description" of whatever show is on. And oft how I have wondered and pondered about the men and women who write those capsule descriptions and all the joy they bring to my life with their brief summaries of television programming. Last night I saw a capsule description of a movie that went like this: "A man races across Europe to rescue his lover from evil Dracula." Ha ha ha! Why did that make me laugh so much?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jell-O There

In the final chapter of THE DHARMA BUMS, the Jack Kerouac character makes "raspberry Jello the color of rubies in the setting sun," which just goes to prove everything I said about everything ever in my previous "post." Just "click" on it if you don't believe me! Also, it marks the second Kerouac novel I have read with Jell-O in it. Also, it makes me sorry I never took the time to catalog every book I have ever read with Jell-O in it. I have shamefully underestimated the role of Jell-O in American literature. That's my cross to bear.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Beat Product Placement

"'... there's one thing I would like right now more than anything in the world... A nice big Hershey bar or even a little one. For some reason or other, a Hershey bar would save my soul right now...' I was a little woozy and needed sugar, but to think of chocolate and peanuts all melting in my mouth in that cold wind, it was too much." THE DHARMA BUMS has more product placement than you might expect. Log Cabin brand syrup makes an appearance, too. Anyway, that Jack Kerouac, he sure did have a sweet tooth.

Really Fancy Dessert

"My ideal show is a person sitting and they have a really fancy dessert and they have to tell you about their day while they eat the dessert." That's something Natasha Allegri said in an interview and I was going to tweet it but it's a little too long for a tweet, and to remove any word would be to wreck what I love about this idea... for example, that they "have to" tell you about their day. There's something semi-threatening about it that really adds the spice!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Poop of Mighty Eagles

My "internet" pal Jessica Easto, who used to go by an anonymous code name on this "blog" for reasons I doubt either of us can recall, tweeted about a recent correction in the New York Times. Here is a "link," also provided by Jessica, to that correction, which apologizes for misrepresenting the "poop" of eagles and ospreys as purple. "They eat fish, and their poop is white." So gravely states the New York Times with regret for its previous error. The comma makes it elegant somehow. See also.

Suddenly, At Dusk

About 30 pages to go in THE DHARMA BUMS (see also) and I was really getting worried because there were no owls in it. And there were many opportunities for owls! What with all the sleeping under the stars. But there was nothing but a lot of mystical desert silence and the occasional braying of a lonesome mule (see also) to remind our heroes of the suffering of all living things. But finally! "Suddenly, at dusk, he came running back into the cottage drunk as a hoot owl" (see also). (Pictured, Dharma and Greg.)