Tuesday, March 05, 2019

A Real Sport

In this Bricktop book she refers to Anna Magnani as "a real sport and a night owl." I almost gave up. I thought for sure we would have had some night owls already in this book. As you know, I don't "blog" anymore, but I did start keeping a list when I noticed that every book ever written has an owl in it, and the list never stops, no matter what else stops, which is everything, everything stops.

Saturday, March 02, 2019

One Man's Vanishing Legacy

Out doing chores yesterday. Stopped to fortify myself at Big Bad Breakfast and was not really surprised to see that the omelet named after my novel is no longer on the menu. The novel has long been out of print, so why not the omelet? And the restaurant has expanded its geographic and philosophical reach beyond esoteric localized allusion. (See also, however, via this "hyperlink," the time our photograph was unceremoniously removed from the wall of an Italian restaurant.) Next to me at the counter, a young woman looked at her phone and shouted, "OH MY GOD! MY FATHER CANCELED MY BATHING SUIT ORDER!" Her boyfriend then described his mother's homemade lemon cake frosting in what I would call almost gothic detail. Then he referred to the time he had gone for underage drinks with his father the greatest night of his life. And I thought, well, you know, maybe he's just a guy who likes his parents, is that a crime? I don't "blog" anymore, and should really put this young couple in a novel instead, but I'm too tired.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Adult Education

As part of my ongoing program of adult education, I am reading Bricktop's autobiography along with Megan Abbott. Bricktop (left) reminisces about "the type of place where gin was poured out of milk pitchers." And I wondered why it mattered out of what the gin was poured. And I still wonder! It did put me in mind of a fact relayed long ago by Megan Abbott, namely, that some people would use cream pitchers decorated with Shirley Temple's face to make martinis, using a handy mnemonic for the perfect recipe: "Gin to the chin, vermouth to the tooth." There, the motivation for using the pitcher is clear. And while I was typing all this, I recalled the lyrics to Screamin' Jay Hawkins's "Yellow Coat," in which the eponymous coat, as part (I believe) of its manufacture, is "laid out in milk and gin." As I prepare to hit the "publish" button, it occurs to me that I have no idea why I have always heard that lyric as explicitly referring to the yellow coat's origin, although the garment's magical and legendary properties are certainly extolled by the narrator. It might just as well be that the coat, with, perhaps, its owner still inside, are supposed to be lying in some milk and gin after (during?) a celebration of some kind.

Monday, February 18, 2019

This Will Not Interest You

So, toward the end of this Philip Roth novel, to my surprise, he tells the exact same story about George Plimpton I once told on this very "blog" ("click" here for more information - I know you won't!). Furthermore, it would appear that he has the story from the same source. I guess this guy just goes around the country telling about the time he was hanging out with George Plimpton and George Plimpton took off his t-shirt and threw it in the air to attract bats. Wouldn't you? Tell the story, I mean. I didn't mean to imply that you would take off your t-shirt and use it to attract bats. Who would do such a thing? George Plimpton, apparently. In roughly the same passage, Philip Roth compares himself to Jerry Lewis, in that they are both "affronters" (his word), or really Roth's first-person narrator Nathan Zuckerman obliquely compares himself to Jerry Lewis, but come on! Hey! That reminds me. Last night I noticed for the first time a direct allusion to THE NUTTY PROFESSOR in MEAN STREETS. Both films contain scenes of people lined up like bowling pins, and there's a clattering bowling pin sound effect when the the people are knocked over en masse. I REST MY CASE.

Saturday, February 16, 2019


As you know, I don't "blog" anymore, so how could you know that lately I have had no time to "blog"? We moved into a new house. There was some delay with the TV, telephone, and internet. I was opening boxes of books and putting them into what seemed like the appropriate bookcases. I was going to put this one Philip Roth book in a bookcase in the living room, and I thought, "Huh! I never read this one! That seems like false advertising. Well, you know what? I should go ahead and read it. It's pretty short. Then I can put it on a bookcase in the living room without feeling like an imposter. The living room seems like a place for books you could discuss if somebody asked you." So I checked the copyright page, because I wondered how long this book had been around without me reading it: 2007. I must have purchased it at Square Books when it came out. A bookmark was in there, one of the short Square Books bookmarks from the old days, which you may recall from when I used to review bookmarks, back when I had a "blog." The great irony is that the living room bookcases have been filled and there is no room for this book upon them any longer. Anyway, now I've read most of the book, because books are great, they just sit there for countless years.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Tiny Round Spectacles Again

As you know, I don't "blog" anymore, except when Lee Durkee tells me about farting on the moon, or when I read a book with an owl in it, because I keep a list. Megan Abbott and I are reading a book about celebrities in Rome in the 1950s, in which it is claimed that King Farouk's "tiny round spectacles" give him "an owlish aspect." I tell you, people's tiny round spectacles are always giving them an owlish aspect, I can't count the times I've seen an author resort to that image... well, you know what? I could probably count the times, I mean, maybe that's why I've been keeping my list all along. But it sounds like a lot of work. For your information, King Farouk also appears in the book I wrote about cigarette lighters, though his spectacles do not, despite the fact that three of the books in my bibliography are SPECTACLES, LORGNETTES AND MONOCLES by D.C. Davidson, FASHIONS IN EYEGLASSES FROM THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY TO THE PRESENT DAY by Richard Corson, and THE STORY OF OPTOMETRY by James R. Gregg. You see, the question I felt compelled to address is whether glass lenses were originally made for magnification or to light things on fire. I probably didn't bother to draw any conclusions. Once again, it sounds like a lot of work.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Latest News From the Moon

Urgent communique from Lee Durkee. He's reading a book from which he learned that, to quote Lee, "Swedenborg reported that the beings who live on the moon are afraid of their own farts."