Thursday, August 21, 2014

Real Chocolate Pudding

Hey! Remember how much Jack Kerouac loved pie and ice cream in ON THE ROAD? In THE DHARMA BUMS he's gaga for an all-new taste sensation. The Jack Kerouac character is about to go mountain climbing with his friend and the friend says, "I'm bringing real chocolate pudding, not that instant phony stuff but good chocolate pudding that I'll bring to a boil and stir over the fire and then let it cool ice cold in the snow." And Jack Kerouac replies, "Oh boy!" Ha ha! Jack Kerouac.

McNeil's Movie Korner

Welcome once more to McNeil's Movie Korner! I know you are nothing but an uncaring lout who refuses to "click" on my "links" but I hope you will extend more courtesy to McNeil, who has provided a couple of "youtube clips" here to ignore at your peril. McNeil wrote to me in an email the other day, "Well, I've stumbled onto a gold mine of sorts...and the death of me, I suppose. Apparently [this guy on youtube] splices bits of old, forgotten 60s movies together and sets them to old forgotten 60s lounge music - and sometimes the original soundtrack. So what I end up doing is looking up the movies on IMDB, the IMDB tells me some are available for see the vicious cycle. [Here's] an example but there seem to be millions... jrrylpz may have surpassed charliespliff as my YouTube hero." And another message from McNeil this morning: "This might be my favorite of the day (so far)... The bartender looks like his twin brother, and I love it when he tries to put the map together - it's only two pieces!!!"

Amongst the Region's Fearful Residents

Last night at a City Grocery Bar get-together to welcome our new writer-in-residence, the great short story writer and novelist Mary Miller, Lee Durkee was talking about how many swans Richard III used to eat and Ace Atkins was astonished when I claimed never to have seen the movie FLUFFY. Looking at the poster Ace emailed me (above; the guy with the hatchet makes me nervous), hmm. Maybe I have seen it. It seems to fit snugly in that group of films I used to watch that included Soupy Sales learning how to fly and Mickey Rooney hanging out with a talking duck. From the imdb summary of FLUFFY: "Wherever he goes, Potter's ponderous pet incites mayhem amongst the region's fearful residents... Our heroes find themselves on the run from the law when Fluffy is accused of eating someone!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


A "web" site called "Brooklyn Vegan" has some nice pictures of that Rock*A*Teens show we saw in NYC, corroborating many of our claims! Although I must say that Lopez looks a lot more comfortable crowd-surfing than he made out the next day. "Click" here for Brooklyn Vegan's photos and write-up.

Why Can't She

Watching HOLLYWOOD OR BUST as "research" for a "talk" I'm going to "give" in "October." Jerry promises Dean, "We'll be pals like Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn in THE RAINMAKER." Always such undercurrents with these two! Not even undercurrents. Currents! Pat Crowley tells Dean that Malcolm (Jerry Lewis's character) is "off his rocker about" Dean. "Why can't you be like Malcolm?" Dean asks her.

Monday, August 18, 2014


There is literally nothing I don't love about this newspaper caption that Ace Atkins tweeted. I love every phrase, I love every word, I love the order of the words, I love everything behind the words, I even love the unnecessary comma. In fact I would like to retype that caption for you now: "George Jones gave a birthday party at his Possum Holler Club for ex-wife Tammy Wynette. Tammy's long-time friend Burt Reynolds, presented her with a fern that was said to have cost $100."

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Hey yeah so last night I watched ESCAPE PLAN, a Sylvester Stallone movie featuring a jaunty spotlight turn from Arnold Schwarzenegger. I swear that Schwarzenegger ended most of his conversations with Stallone with a pretty good wisecrack that sounded like a natural button - like, okay, that was a good wisecrack, we're moving on to another scene now - but then Stallone would have to tack on an extra wisecrack that was just gilding the lily, an inferior wisecrack, like Stallone had it in his contract that he always had to make the last wisecrack, like he had a guy on set to write toppers for him on the spur of the moment, like Bob Hope would have had, only this guy wasn't up to it. I feel sure my analysis would not stand up to the most basic level of scrutiny, but that's how it felt. One thing I enjoyed was when Stallone punched a guy in the gut a couple of times and the guy said "Aaoogah!" each time, like an old-time car horn: "Aaoogah! Aaoogah!" Or it may have been Stallone saying "Aaoogah! Aaoogah!" with the exertion of his punching. One of them was saying "Aaoogah! Aaoogah!" Once again, I am not sure my fleeting impressions of the moment would stand up in a court of law. Arnold Schwarzenegger had a "mad scene" more or less like Ophelia's! And I have to say he did a good job of it. He played that whole section in German. He sold it, man, and I was buying it all the way! Genius and madness glimmered in his eyes! In equal measure! And now I would like to warn you about the very major spoiler that is going to take up almost all the rest of this "post." It's about the ending. Okay. So, Stallone is about to wreak a mighty vengeance on evil warden Jim Caviezel by blowing him up. In the split second before the explosion, Jim Caviezel, realizing what is about to happen, just cocks his head to the side very slightly, like a curious little dog, and squeaks. He squeaks! An anticlimactic and fascinating choice. I could not find an "internet" image of Jim Caviezel squeaking like an interested puppy, but here is Sylvester Stallone about to set off the explosion with his gun, and someone has gone to the trouble of labeling it in yellow letters. While I am not sure I agree with his or her assessment, I admire the effort. (A late postscript! It strikes me that Schwarzenegger's "madness" - an act designed to confound an authority figure - has more to do with Hamlet's than Ophelia's.)

Steamingly Moist

He asks, "In what way would you say that ghosts are 'real'? Do you think this is a fair question?" And she replies, "Well, I am not sure at all that it is a question that makes sense." Ha ha! I love reading the excruciatingly polite debate of these dry British people about the existence of ghosts! Can there be anything more pleasurable? Another woman in this book has a theory that ghosts are just photographs printed on the atmosphere (I don't think I'm oversimplifying her position much). She claims that ghosts are "more common in moist climates rather than in the drier ones. Thus, Scotland and Ireland have a considerably larger number of apparitions than England. In some parts of India where the atmosphere is, at least for some months of the year, steamily moist, ghosts abound, both indigenous and foreign." Of course, the anthologist, while conceding to Dr. Murray that a ghost will "grow fainter in its later appearances," also takes issue with her: "I am not convinced that there is any true comparison to be drawn between fading apparitions and fading photographs," he huffs discreetly. "Flowers also fade, as do the colours in many textiles. The list could be extended." Ha ha! I love this guy so much. Funny thing, my friend Eugene had a similar theory to Dr. Margaret Murray's. He claimed to have heard a couple of ghosts making plans to catch a long-defunct ferry one night. He told me there were so many ghosts in Mobile because "it's so humid, things we do get stuck in the air." I think he compared it to a skipping phonograph needle.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

About My Solar Plexus Area

Despite the humorous titles of it chapters, I find that I cannot recommend the book with the paranormal jelly bags in it. What a letdown! I won't name it or its author because why hurt someone's feelings? But it's just a sloppy grab-bag, really - one minute the author is helping some people get a ghost out of their attic, next minute he's talking about a UFO case he has nothing to do with... there's just no point of view, and I don't believe his dialogue for a minute. ("There's no way in h..., ah, heaven that I would go up there when those crying noises begin.") It's all hooey. When I used to teach a scary story class, I think I made the observation that no kind of story benefits more from realism than a ghost story. I suppose that's doubly the case when the story is supposed to be "true." So let's move on to what seems to be a much better ghost book: A GALLERY OF GHOSTS by Andrew MacKenzie. It's the first one that Dr. Theresa held up in the shop for me to consider, and I am afraid I rudely and instantly dismissed it. I didn't like the generic title and I didn't like the cornball cover with the full yellow moon and the crooked black tree. Luckily, Dr. Theresa was persistent. Always respect Dr. Theresa's instincts! First of all, A GALLERY OF GHOSTS has an academic-sounding subtitle: AN ANTHOLOGY OF REPORTED EXPERIENCE. Classy! And I like the introduction, in which MacKenzie makes an interesting distinction: "Unlike the ghost stories of fiction, which have a beginning, a middle and an end and deal with dramatic happenings involving revenge or remorse... the true ghost story is fragmentary and often apparently meaningless." Well, now he is talking my language! I am sick of things with beginnings, middles and ends, truth be told. I do like a nice shiny fragment. I like that the book flap says with exquisite formality, "Mr. MacKenzie presents many hitherto unpublished supernatural stories from his own collection." I like that he drops allusions to weighty-sounding tomes such as "G.N.M. Tyrrell's masterly work SIX THEORIES ABOUT APPARITIONS." I like that the very first thing he does in the very first chapter is admit to his interviewee, "I have never seen a ghost, possibly because I am a poor visualizer." She - the Vice President of the Society for Psychical Research - has reportedly seen two ghosts (the modesty of the number, especially for one in her position, is something else I like). I like that she says, "I wasn't in the least frightened, but afterwards I did notice that I felt cold about my solar plexus area." And I like that MacKenzie responds drily, "That is most interesting." None of this flailing around and trying to be "colorful" like that other book with the flying jelly bags, which shall remain nameless, and which, as you may recall, had something sticky on the cover anyway. (The image above popped up for reasons unknown as a search result for a photo of Rosalind Hedley Heywood, the Vice President of the SPR at the time of MacKenzie's writing. I didn't find a photo of her but this one is all right too.)

Rydberg Freed Himself

"After several desperate moments of frantic struggle, Rydberg freed himself from the sucking jelly bags" is part of a sentence I just read.

Friday, August 15, 2014

At Long Last Jelly Bags Are Here

The "true" book with a chapter entitled "The Terrible Flying Jelly Bags" has arrived. "Dark Shadows in the Magic Theater of UFOs" is the jumbled title of another chapter, I see, as well as the almost comically blunt "The Thing in the Bloody, Haunted Basement" and "You Are Mine to Kill." That one kind of scares me. And the book is sticky.

The Jerry

Mark Childress and Bill Boyle were both kind enough to send me a really interesting article about the time the Beastie Boys almost started a dance craze called "The Jerry Lewis." The links between Beasties and Jerry have been noted on this "blog" before. But here we have the Holy Grail. Best of all, the "Do the Jerry Lewis" track is grounded in a sample from a Dino, Desi & Billy LP I bought at The End of All Music. You remember Dino, Desi & Billy! Jimmy once referred to Dino, Desi & Billy as "mopey superheroes." I cringed yet nodded when the author of the article stated of the man himself that "Jerry Lewis is mad funky" (see also). I enjoyed learning that "The Jerry Lewis" is based on Jerry's climactic dance (pictured) from THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. And I like the perceptive appreciation that shines through the disdain when a childhood friend of Mike D's says, "One aspect of Mike and his brother Stephen was that they liked these kinds of low-class things. They'd get off on stuff like Mr. T, you know? So maybe Jerry Lewis fit in, in a way. You can't tell if the guy's an idiot, or is he an idiot savant? He sort of makes you uncomfortable in some of those early movies. Is there something wrong with this guy, or was this an astonishing performance?"

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Properly Crammed

I would like to apologize to the labels ADVENTURE, BLOOD, DREAMS, DRUNK, EMPTY, FAVES, FISH, FURNITURE, GLORY, HAPPINESS, HEADS, HEAVEN, PROUD, RICE, SHINY, SILENCE, SLEEP, SPIRIT, and STATUES, which should have been appended to a recent "post" but could not be crammed properly into place.

No Profit

Okay, here's a John D. MacDonald sentence I like, especially out of context: "There was no profit in watching a hairy man read a book."