Wednesday, July 18, 2018
You know I stopped "blogging" for good but sometimes something happens that MUST be reported. Like, McNeil was walking his dog today and A BONE FELL OUT OF THE SKY. McNeil took a picture of the bone and sent it to me and here it is. (See also.)
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
you remember how I wrote a book about cigarette lighters then immediately stopped caring about cigarette lighters, but once in a while I see something that really should have gone into my book about cigarette lighters so I add it to a very slowly growing appendix. Well, last night Dr. Theresa and I watched STARGATE, and when an alien kid grows mesmerized by Kurt Russell's cigarette lighter, it speaks to a trope I introduced on page 46, if you want to grab your copy of my cigarette lighter book and pencil it in, because I knew this trope existed, but I didn't provide any examples, because I really couldn't think of any, so I wrote about things that were sort of like it (accurately noting, as does become apparent in STARGATE, "It's always a short leap to the more ominous flare of gunpowder") and now, thanks to watching STARGATE last night, I have an example of the rather gross trope where the white man comes to a "remote" place and blows everybody's mind with his cigarette lighter, goodbye.
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
"click" here) that Megan Abbott wrote about Raymond Chandler, and I thought that in the illustration (above) Chandler resembled the actor Edward Norton. So I googled "edward norton" + "raymond chandler" to see if anyone agreed with me and it doesn't appear that anyone does. What came up most often was the movie BIRDMAN, in which Mr. Norton appeared. A surprising number of news outlets seemed to believe that the short story "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" (which plays a large role in the movie BIRDMAN) was written by Raymond Chandler. One of them... I'll name them and shame them!... IndieWire... IndieWire thinks that BIRDMAN itself is a Raymond Chandler short story! "Based on a Raymond Chandler short story, the narrative centers on a former actor who once played an iconic superhero," claims IndieWire like a bunch of dummies. Okay! Well, I crafted a "tweet" on the subject but it was really too dense for a tweet, so I deleted it, and though I don't "blog" anymore, here we are, and nobody cares, and why should anybody?
Monday, July 09, 2018
Saturday, June 16, 2018
Much in the manner that James Joyce wanted scholars to pore over his works for entire lifetimes, I am going to spend the weeks and months to come trying to figure out this joke book that Ace Atkins gave me. It is reputedly by Milton Berle, though I suspect he had some help, if you want to call it help. I'm not sure some of these things are jokes! I know it is a joke book because right at the top there it says "Milton Berle's Joke Book." But - and this is a matter for further study, I'll have to get back to you - it seems to aspire to a narrative structure, which seems uncalled for. One section is just Milton Berle imagining what other people famous at the time might say in apparently nonexistent movies that he seems to be creating in his febrile head. (Parenthetically, I will digress: more accurately, upon further scrutiny, the section purports to be made up of movie scripts that a talking elephant named Klinemine Klinemine is reading at the library. You can see why I'm going to need to spend some time with the text.) I will quote one example in full. "BETTY HUTTON (after a quarrel): Leave this house. I never want to see you again. Go this instant. BING CROSBY: I have one last request to make before I go. BETTY (sweetly, oh, very sweetly): Well, what is it? BING (brutally): Before I leave forever, would you mind getting off my lap?" Now if that isn't straight out of the Circe section of ULYSSES, what is? Maybe it's the "sweetly, oh, very sweetly" that sounds Joycean. And the "Klinemine Klinemine" of course: pure multilingual punning and mystical doubling in the tradition of FINNEGANS WAKE. Well! But is it a joke? The Bing Crosby thing, I mean? I don't see how. Why Betty Hutton's sudden change of mood, for example? Are we to take it that her instigating rage was disingenuous? Why? And wouldn't the "joke," such as it is, work better on the radio, assuming it could work at all? In what way could it be convincingly filmed? I feel strongly that Milton Berle isn't providing enough context. In the pure terms of the joke as a platonic object, what's the setup? Are we supposed to believe that Milton Berle is that experimental, or that the elephant with whom he has made friends for the purposes of the plot is that experimental, or, to be as accurate as possible, that the elephant who is friends with Milton Berle goes to the library and seeks out movie scripts that seem to have been cut up and pasted back together by William S. Burroughs, so devoid of traditional structure as to verge on the abstract? On the next page there's a joke about zoo sex, I guess it's all right. I know I'm not "blogging" anymore but I need somewhere to thoroughly analyze this book, which I would truly believe was produced in a lab by a crude form of artificial intelligence if it weren't so old. (PS I didn't realize it was Bloomsday until after I first "posted" this! Dear me, how precocious I am. It's a real freaking shame I don't "blog" anymore.)
Saturday, June 09, 2018
The skimpiest (if not the shortest) chapter of the book I wrote about cigarette lighters is the one on built-in car cigarette lighters. Serious research was elusive. I called the editor of ANTIQUE AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE for some suggested reading on the subject of the very first car cigarette lighters and his response, if I may paraphrase, was "Eh." I read an entire book about Henry Ford's commercial enterprises and found only (as it pertained to my subject) that he was a rabid anti-tobacco activist, but there was no mention of whether that had any effect on the lighters he did or didn't install in his cars. The only funny part was that his son Edsel used to sit in his office and sullenly smoke cigarettes to get on his dad's nerves. He was the only employee of Ford allowed to smoke! Well! None of this improves the skimpiness of my "car cigarette lighter" chapter. So it is the case that while I no longer care at all about what I left out of my cigarette lighter book ("click" here for a partial list), I do bristle with a sense of regret whenever I see an imaginative use of a car cigarette lighter in a movie, such as when Dr. Theresa and I were watching LEPRECHAUN the other night and a quick-thinking Jennifer Aniston burns the attacking leprechaun's nose with a car cigarette lighter.
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Lee Durkee wrote in some time ago to observe that I truly appear to have stopped "blogging" as I constantly and accurately claim to have done. It is the indisputable case that May was my least "bloggy" month ever in all my months and years of "blogging." Why, I even took a trip to Los Angeles in May, and brought along my special jotting book and jotted down some of my special jottings, but I did not "blog" them out. Lee speculated that maybe owls have been scarce. There was, in fact, a second owl in the Roy Blount Jr. book, and not a metaphorical one, either, but as you know, I am not required to tell you about EVERY owl in every book, just one owl per book. I'm glad we have cleared that up. Occasionally I notice jelly in books as well. Like in this Orson Welles biography Megan and I are reading. It's Simon Callow's multi-volume biography, which we are reading out of order for reasons that need not concern you. Anyway, now we're on Volume Two, and James Agee, in a contemporary review, describes Orson in JANE EYRE as having eyes like "side-orders of jelly."