Thursday, July 30, 2015

How It Starts

For God's sake I forgot to tell you that the movie CAREER starts with a disembodied voice shouting "CAREER!" and it echoes like "CAREER! CAREER! Career! career... career... career..." So I thought it was going to be funny but it wasn't funny and it wasn't supposed to be funny and it wasn't and here's a "screen grab" I took of Dean Martin on the telephone.

Disillusioned Artiste

I watched CAREER and McNeil was right, of course. I loved it! Thick, chewy melodrama. Just my speed. Here we see Anthony Franciosa caring more about his cucumber facial than Shirley MacLaine's serious problems. The day I learned to do "screen grabs" was a blot on the universe. So the night before last I flipped to TCM and they were showing a marathon of Les Blank's documentaries. I watched one about garlic. It made me really hungry! Although the part where they cook some blue-eyed baby pigs depressed me, which is good because I'm sort of on a diet because I need to fit into John T. Edge's plaid tuxedo jacket soon. Why? None of your beeswax, that's why. But I was like: "Bill Boyle is coming over tomorrow. I'll make something with lots of garlic!" And I did. I made puttanesca sauce and I was really nervous because Bill is Italian and what if he scoffed? But Bill didn't scoff. Bill's not a scoffer. I use lemon, which I'm not sure is a traditional ingredient, so I went crazy and kept adding other stuff to drown out the lemon so maybe Bill wouldn't notice the lemon, which maybe defeated the purpose, I don't know, it turned out fine, get off my case, man. The point is Bill came over to watch TOO LATE BLUES, one of the few Cassavetes movies he hadn't seen, and which I recorded off of TCM a while back. It made me think of CAREER. Well, they both had a certain post-beat feel, a "disillusioned artiste" vibe.
There were bits of CAREER that made me think of INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS and BARTON FINK but there's no way the Coen Brothers ever watched CAREER, is there? We know Scorsese watched TOO LATE BLUES. Bill and I could tell! And everybody wore black suits with skinny black ties and argued about paying the diner owner, so maybe Quentin Tarantino watched it too. Who cares? Seriously. You're not alone: I bore myself. I honestly have nothing interesting to say but I took so many screen grabs of CAREER, so here we are. There's Shirley MacLaine saying, "Sam? What a lovely name. I like that name. The first man I ever completely destroyed was named Sam." She drinks a lot in this movie! Just look how she sits at the bar:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

McNeil's Movie Korner

Welcome once more dear friends to "McNeil's Movie Korner," your "go-to" place on the "internet" for things you couldn't possibly care less about. McNeil just watched a Dean Martin/ Shirley MacLaine movie called CAREER. Who knows how? I can't find it anywhere. But McNeil has his ways. "In CAREER, Dino plays a director and often wears a cape in Greenwich Village," McNeil says to taunt me. He also found out that Dean's son Dino Jr. was once brought up on federal charges for owning a cannon! Among other things. But that's just a side tidbit.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Remember When You Battled a Six-Foot Owl

As you know, every book has an owl in it, and this 1500-page comic book by Grant Morrison I have here is no exception. A character recollects the time he battled "a six-foot owl." We don't even get to see the owl! He just talks about it in his little word balloon. It's a comic book, come on, where's the six-foot owl?

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Lion Shows Up

Meanwhile I keep dipping into these "Arthurian Romances" of Chretien de Troyes. I've been reading this one called "The Knight With the Lion" for 40 pages like, "Where's the lion?" And just now, finally: "when he arrived a clearing, he saw a dragon holding a lion by the tail and burning its flanks with its flaming breath. My lord Yvain did not waste time observing this marvel." Ha ha, yes, what a waste of time!

Melancholy Abounding

The usual trouble sleeping. As if you care! Picked up THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY. Read "dead men's bones, hobgoblins, ghosts, are ever in their minds, and meet them still in every turn: all the bugbears of the night and terrors, fairybabes of tombs and graves are before their eyes and in their thoughts, as to women and children, if they be in the dark alone." Burton is writing about people who have "Symptoms of Melancholy Abounding in the Whole Body," to describe whom he uses the funny phrase, "the melancholy juice is redundant all over." ... "If they hear, or read, or see, any tragical object, it sticks by them; they are afraid of death, and yet weary of their lives; in their discontented humours they quarrel with all the world, bitterly inveigh, tax satirically, and because they cannot otherwise vent their passions, or redress what is amiss, as they mean, they will by violent death at last be revenged upon themselves." Wow, what, sorry, not too cheerful, but striking and incantatory. "Fairybabes of tombs and graves" really caught my attention.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

His Phantasy Wrought So Far

Well! I was just sitting here reading in THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY about a guy who accidentally swallowed a mouthful of water from a pit where he knew frogs lived, and so "began to suspect that he had likewise swallowed frogs' spawn, and with that conceit and fear his phantasy wrought so far, that he verily thought he had young live frogs in his belly, that lived by his nourishment, and was so certainly persuaded of it... he studied Physick seven years together to cure himself." In 1609 he met with all the greatest physicians in Europe about it! They tried to explain to him that it was just his imagination "but he pertinaciously contradicted." To help him get over it, his friend Platerus "would have deceived him by putting live frogs into his excrements," but this guy didn't fall for that well-meant trick! After all, he was "a wise and learned man otherwise, a Doctor of Physick."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chad Bad in Rad Pad

Couldn't sleep again! Uh-oh! You know the drill! Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown! 3:30 AM! TCM! Ann-Margret! Something called MADE IN PARIS. Weird, uncomfortable opening where Chad Everett gets really grabby with our star. But at least she caves in his head with a decorative item from a nearby table. But it's a comedy so he's okay. He gets grabby again with her later in the movie, I mean, it's plain sexual harassment and even worse, I mean, the general "romantic comedy" tone here is sexual harassment and, really, something darker. This is not what I meant to talk about. What I MEANT to say is that after the wordless opening bit, which is supposed to come off dry and light and clever (but seems like somebody might get murdered to me!) the credits start to roll (our stars represented by mannequins, another instance, so soon, of unintended, uncanny horror), and I noticed that Red Skelton composed one of the songs in the movie. I didn't know he wrote music! The "internet" tells me he wrote more than 600 pieces of music. Shows you how much I know about Red Skelton. I thought, "This is going to be the most interesting thing about MADE IN PARIS." And I was right! But I'm going to keep typing about it anyway. But first let's talk some more about Red Skelton! I was tweeting about him and Megan tweeted back at me that Red Skelton edited some anthologies of ghost stories. And THAT made me remember (I think) reading an article when I was a little boy (maybe) in which it was revealed (possibly) that Red Skelton was illiterate! "Like most editors," I humorously remarked to Megan, but I didn't mean it! I love editors! Especially the ones I have now. It was just a humorous thing to say in that humorous way I have about me that wins over so many people all the time. My problem with Chad Everett (other than his character's horrific behavior) might be that I just kept seeing him as creepy old Chad Everett from MULHOLLAND DR. (in which he was very good, but no less creepy). But you know, Louis Jourdan is in MADE IN PARIS, too (that's him gazing into Ann-Margret's eyes, above), and I didn't see HIM as creepy old Louis Jourdan from SWAMP THING. I saw him as a French smoothie, with his own brand of sexual harassment, but managing a much more interesting performance of a more (relatively) layered character. FURTHERMORE I will say that I thought Chad Everett was creepy even when I was just a tot and Chad Everett was young and my grandmother wanted to watch him in a TV show called MEDICAL CENTER and I wanted to watch something else. He just seemed off to me! Walking around in his white lab coat looking down on people.
That's how I recall feeling. I'm learning a lot about my feelings regarding Chad Everett today! In MADE IN PARIS, Jourdan represents European sophistication, I guess, while Chad Everett is American brashness. It's Jamesian. Is that Jamesian? I have no idea. I almost forgot to tell you, I'm an idiot! But it certainly gets metaphorical when Chad Everett and Louis Jourdan start beating up each other. I can't tell you who won the fistfight because a big rainstorm blew in and I lost the satellite reception. And that was it for MADE IN PARIS, as far as yours truly is concerned. Hey! There's this crazy scene where the bandleader Mongo Santamaria tells everyone in a nightclub to "do the pussycat" and everybody starts dancing around and this guy in Santamaria's band make what are supposed to be cat noises, but they're just terrifying! I mean, something is WRONG with that cat!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Their Urine Is Subtile and Fiery

When I couldn't sleep last night I got out of bed and said to myself, "I'm not gonna watch TV this time! I'm gonna read a book like a big boy!" So I sat on the couch and AUTOMATICALLY TURNED ON THE TV BY FORCE OF HABIT. But I stuck to my guns and turned it off again immediately, laughing at my foolish foolishness. BUT HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED. In the time it took to perform that action, TCM sprang to life. I could see from the satellite-company banner at the top of the screen that the movie was called THAT HAGEN GIRL. And the only image I saw from the movie, the only sound I heard, was a scowling old matron in close-up saying, "Have you seen that Hagen girl?" So that was an odd coincidence. That's all I've seen of THAT HAGEN GIRL. In fact, I choose to believe that that is the entirety of THAT HAGEN GIRL. It's like I made a little movie with my mind. Then I picked up THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY from the side table and read, "they are bold and impudent, and of a more harebrain disposition... they sleep little, their urine is subtile and fiery." It was already getting a little personal. And then the next page had some demonic possession so I was like, "Yikes!" I put down the book and turned on the TV. SPEAKING OF MIND GAMES: Don't forget to come to Square Books later today to see me mercilessly grill Ace Atkins about his brand new book THE REDEEMERS. There's a poster and everything (below). I noticed that Ace cc'd Greg Evigan about this event on twitter, ha ha! I think Mr. Evigan will find himself confused and even insulted, as the poster depicts Burt Reynolds in the incongruous company of Clyde from EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE, whereas Mr. Evigan was arguably the poor man's Burt Reynolds (actually the poor man's Jerry Reed) and his chimp friend "The Bear" was the poor man's Clyde. It occurs to me that I should put a photo from The End of All Music record store at the top of this "post," featuring Megan Abbott, Bill Boyle and myself, with Ace holding a bottle of whiskey in silver paper from Megan and a Jerry Reed LP from Bill. I gave him nothing. We'll probably drink that bottle of whiskey while we talk tonight. No we won't! We're PROFESSIONALS. We'll drink it beforehand. Ha ha, not really, am I blowing your mind again with my mind games? It's Four Roses, despite what the poster says.