Thursday, October 06, 2016

Wings and Tenders

If my records are correct, it was on September 30 that Kent Osborne enjoyed a luncheon of chicken tenders AND chicken wings in his office. As you know, I am not "blogging" anymore (unless it is McNeil's birthday or I read a book with an owl in it) but it interests me when Kent eats chicken and occasionally his habits must be recorded for scientific purposes.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

McNeil Month By Month

As you know, I am not "blogging" anymore, except when I read a book with an owl in it or it is McNeil's birthday. And I haven't read any books with owls in them today - yet! - so you know what that means! Time to celebrate all things McNeil with the special TENTH ANNIVERSARY EDITION of our annual "blog" feature "McNeil Month By Month." That's right, you can find out everything that McNeil has done for the past decade. Simply click on any "link" to read more about what McNeil was doing during that particular month. September 2006: McNeil contends that he does not enjoy the "Little Dot" comic book. October 2006: McNeil furnishes a memorable quotation. November 2006: McNeil recalls playing Aerosmith on a jukebox. December 2006: First appearance of "McNeil's Movie Korner." January 2007: McNeil's system for winning at craps. February 2007: McNeil doesn't see what's so hard about reading a newspaper and eating a sandwich at the same time. March 2007: McNeil and I are talking about Bob Denver when HE SUDDENLY APPEARS ON TELEVISION! April 2007: Wild turkeys roam McNeil's neighborhood. May 2007: McNeil gets in touch with an Australian reporter regarding a historical chimp. June 2007: First McNeil's Movie Korner Film Festival announced. July 2007: Medicine changes McNeil's taste buds. August 2007: McNeil's trees not producing apples. September 2007: McNeil pinpoints a problem with the "blog." October 2007: McNeil presents a video entitled "Jerry's pre-defecation chills." November 2007: McNeil's Theory of Potential Energy. December 2007: What is McNeil's favorite movie? January 2008: McNeil explains why the wind blows. February 2008: McNeil admires the paintings of Gerhard Richter. March 2008: McNeil comes up with an idea for a Lifetime TV movie. April 2008: McNeil's shirt. May 2008: McNeil's apple tree doing better (see August 2007). June 2008: McNeil is troubled by a man who wants to make clouds in the shape of logos. July 2008: McNeil's apples are doing great. August 2008: McNeil refuses to acknowledge that Goofy wears a hat no matter what I say. September 2008: McNeil's grocery store is permanently out of his favorite margarine. October 2008: McNeil on the space elevator. November 2008: McNeil comes across an incomplete episode guide to HELLO, LARRY. December 2008: McNeil thinks the human hand should have more fingers. January 2009: McNeil discovers that gin and raisins cure arthritis. February 2009: McNeil gets a big bruise on his arm. March 2009: McNeil wants a job on a cruise ship. April 2009: McNeil attempts to rescue a wayward balloon. May 2009: McNeil visits the Frogtown Fair. June 2009: McNeil dreams he is watching an endless production number from LI'L ABNER. July 2009: McNeil sends text messages from his cell phone while watching a Frank Sinatra movie. August 2009: McNeil disagrees philosophically with a comic book cover that shows a mad scientist putting a gorilla's brain in a superhero's body. September 2009: McNeil resembles famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach. October 2009: McNeil wears a surgical mask. November 2009: McNeil reports that a bird broke the large hadron collider by dropping a bread crumb on it. December 2009: McNeil advises me to like the universe or lump it. January 2010: McNeil eats soup. February 2010: McNeil tells of the hidden civilizations living deep beneath the surface of the earth. March 2010: McNeil recalls a carpet of his youth. April 2010: McNeil starts wearing a necktie. May 2010: McNeil's DNA sample fails to yield results. June 2010: McNeil thinks up some improvements for the movie 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. July 2010: McNeil reads to me from I, THE JURY. August 2010: McNeil finds a hair in his crab cake. September 2010: McNeil has a cold. October 2010: McNeil sends a nine-minute clip of a nice old man speaking at a UFO banquet. November 2010: McNeil sits in his car and looks at pictures of Jennifer Jones. December 2010: McNeil fears a ball of fire in the sky. January 2011: McNeil watches DYNASTY. February 2011: McNeil sees clouds that look like guys on horseback. March 2011: McNeil composes a "still life" photograph. April 2011: McNeil is upset when I interrupt his viewing of MATCH GAME. May 2011: McNeil pines for some old curtains. June 2011: McNeil eats Lucky Charms brand breakfast cereal. July 2011: McNeil investigates the history of the Phar-Mor drugstore chain. August 2011: McNeil compares Dean Moriarty to Dean Martin. September 2011: McNeil learns a lesson about pork and beans. October 2011: McNeil finds an article describing Robert Mitchum as "Bing Crosby supersaturated with barbiturates." November 2011: McNeil did nothing in November. December 2011: McNeil discovers scientists creating rainbows in a laboratory. January 2012: McNeil impersonates Paul Lynde. February 2012: McNeil dreams of matches. March 2012: McNeil's Theory of Potential Energy (see November 2007, above) used to chart the influence of Jerry Lewis on Carson McCullers. April 2012: McNeil disturbed by the art in his hotel room. May 2012: McNeil considers grave robbing. June 2012: McNeil's idea for "music television." July 2012: McNeil holds his negative feelings in check out of respect when the man who invented electric football dies. August 2012: McNeil reads me an old obituary of Charlie Callas over the phone. September 2012: McNeil concerned about T.J. Hooker's big meaty hands. October 2012: McNeil eats lunch at Target. November 2012: McNeil loves it when Bob Hope slips on a banana peel. December 2012: McNeil sees rocks that look like squirrels. January 2013: McNeil looks at an old, faded photo of a dog gazing into a Bath and Tile Emporium. February 2013: McNeil watches a video in which a hooded figure talks about "our criminal overlords." March 2013: McNeil wakes up at 6:40 in the evening, momentarily thinks it is 6:40 in the morning. April 2013: McNeil sees a singer who looks just like Bill Clinton. May 2013: McNeil is ashamed of himself for not realizing that Ida Lupino directed some episodes of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. June 2013: McNeil mails a cashew tree. July 2013: McNeil watches GIDGET GOES HAWAIIAN. August 2013: McNeil recalls being rosy-cheeked. September 2013: A fairyland goes on in McNeil's head. October 2013: McNeil recalls tucking in his t-shirt. November 2013: The cover of a book McNeil buys says it is about Jerry Lewis, but on the inside the book is about Willie Stargell! December 2013: McNeil wants to visit an orgone box factory. January 2014: McNeil did nothing in January. February 2014: McNeil wonders whether Tom Franklin puts his hair in curlers. March 2014: McNeil takes a nap in the car. April 2014: The subject of McNeil pops up in an interview. May 2014: McNeil's emails on the "hollow earth" recalled (see February 2010, above). June 2014: McNeil looks forward to getting drunk and making insensitive remarks as I lie on my deathbed. July 2014: McNeil watches Jim and Henny Backus play themselves in DON'T MAKE WAVES. August 2014: McNeil tells about Robert Mitchum's hangover cure. September 2014: McNeil exaggerates the fate of some owls. October 2014: McNeil is incensed that a candy apple costs eight dollars at the airport. November 2014: McNeil's heart overflows with joy. December 2014: McNeil continues his 7-year chimp investigation (see May 2007, above). January 2015: McNeil listens to a conspiracy theorist who says Jimmy Carter was replaced by a series of robots. February 2015: McNeil recalls doing a report about matches in the eighth grade. March 2015: McNeil takes to bed with the flu! April 2015: McNeil and I establish an amazing psychic link. May 2015: McNeil bitterly recalls the time he brought a John Wayne movie to my apartment and we never watched it. June 2015: McNeil dreams about a bearded Dean Martin. July 2015: McNeil has a disappointing encounter with the Grand Canyon. August 2015: McNeil sees a squirrel holding a stick. September 2015: McNeil is saddened by the news of Dean Jones's death. October 2015: McNeil watches STARFLIGHT: THE PLANE THAT COULDN'T LAND. November 2015: McNeil sends video of Joe Namath making and eating a sandwich. December 2015: A coincidence of the type McNeil especially loves. January 2016: McNeil is in a grocery store and they start playing "I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea" over the speakers! February 2016: McNeil watches Don Rickles eat in a bathroom. March 2016: McNeil is duly thrilled when Megan Abbott goes to see CRACKING UP (pictured, above) on the big screen. April 2016: McNeil swallows a gnat. May 2016: McNeil recalls the details of a screenplay we wrote in our twenties. June 2016: Destruction comes to McNeil's apple tree! July 2016: McNeil spots Dabney Coleman in an I DREAM OF JEANNIE rerun. August 2016: McNeil points out that Dean Martin had granddaughters named Pepper, Montana, and Rio. As you know, I started keeping a physical "McNeil Log" once I stopped "blogging" so much, which is how I know that in August, McNeil also tried to help me identify this plant:
He failed. But we can in part blame Dr. Theresa's crisp and vivid photograph, which perhaps made the bud appear larger than it actually was. It was determined to be a "camellia in fruit," or a "camellia hip," not a "red pear," as McNeil had suggested. I can note here that in May, according to the physical log, McNeil told me about a friend of his father's who thought someone was, in this old fellow's words, "witching [his] place." September 2016: McNeil is called a "filthy troglodyte." October 2016: McNeil advises me on what to do now that ADVENTURE TIME has been canceled. Oh yes, I forgot to tell you, ADVENTURE TIME has been canceled. "I say take it easy for a while... just pretend to write when Theresa's around and then sleep or watch movies when she leaves. Oh hell, you know how to work it," writes McNeil.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

George Plimpton's T-Shirt

You know two things about me. 1. I love John Aubrey. 2. Every book I read has an owl in it. So it will not alarm you to discover that I am reading JOHN AUBREY: MY OWN LIFE, the wonderful biographical reconstruction - mostly in his own words - by Ruth Scurr, and it has an owl in it. We have had owls from Aubrey before. But in this case he makes friends with Francis Potter, who is "haunted" by Ovid's "barbarous Medea, mixing her witch's brew: roots, juices, flowers, seeds, stones, the screech owl's flesh and its ill-boding wings. He sees her, hair all unbound and blown about as she dances round..." (See also.) All of which gives Potter the idea of inventing the blood transfusion with chickens. Naturally! Aubrey helps out. Hey, as long as I've got you here, I was at Off Square Books a few nights ago, listening to a guy talk about his memoir. Once he and George Plimpton were out looking for what I believe this fellow called "the elusive burrowing owls of New Mexico." George Plimpton whipped off his t-shirt and tossed it into the air, where it attracted a large gathering of curious bats. Plimpton conjectured that the bats believed his t-shirt to be a delicious giant moth. I assume all this is in the book, or why did he bring it up? So I am putting his book on my list of books with owls in them.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Fcritching Loud

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM got in my head last night and I swear I can't remember why. But I lugged out a big old facsimile of Shakespeare's first folio, which I bought so Lee Durkee and I could compare our folio facsimiles - we know how to have a good time! And I looked at Puck's last speech... "If we shadows have offended"... or "fhadowes," ha ha! You know how that old-timey printing makes some s's look like f's. Good times! And then I saw that previous speech of Puck's, which I didn't quite remember, even though I remember tons of lines from A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM because I was in it when I was a teenager! That didn't deserve an exclamation point. I played the pivotal role of Snug the Joiner. Anyway, I saw the line, "And the Wolfe beholds the Moone," and thought, "Oh no! There is going to be an owl in this speech!" And there was: "the fcritch-owle, fcritching loud." And then I was like, I want to hear someone saying these lines. So I found a free streaming video of an old BBC (?) production and boy could you tell why it was free! It was copied from a terrible print. There were scratches and slashes and blotches all over the film, and the color was grotesquely faded. It was so washed-out that you couldn't read the white credits over the white sky. And I thought, "I'm not going to watch this!" But then came along the young David Warner, the young Diana Rigg, and the young Helen Mirren as three of the young lovers, all so captivating! And then some lump playing Demetrius. It's not his fault! I'm sure the actor is fine. Demetrius is just a big dud. He's no Snug the Joiner! Everyone knows if you ranked all the lovers Demetrius would come in last in every poll. But everyone else was so good that the blotches and slashes and missing frames and washed-out atmosphere started to seem like plusses... like... in fact... a line that was quoted to me from A MIDSUMMER'S DREAM one night in City Grocery Bar: "Trust me, sweet, out of this silence yet I pick'd a welcome." I couldn't stop watching it! It's a truly bewitching play! And then here was young Judi Dench, telling her fairies about "the clamorous Owle that nightly hoots," and I was like, okay, I definitely have to "blog" again, just this once, and you know why.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Or Maybe It's Genius

As you know, I'm not "blogging" anymore, but someone on twitter called McNeil a "filthy troglodyte" for not enjoying the works of Robert Sheckley, whoever he is. And it's all my fault. See? I told you "blogging" was useless. I should have included the final, qualifying line of McNeil's email: "Or maybe it's genius, but it sure seems like it sucks." Is everybody happy now? In the old days I would have looked up Robert Sheckley on wikipedia and probably found out he saved a baby from a fire or something and then I'd have to "blog" again about how sorry I was for besmirching Robert Sheckley via McNeil but now that I'm not "blogging" anymore I never have to learn how unfairly I've maligned Robert Sheckley and it's a huge relief.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

It Sucks

McNeil found this book in his parents' attic. "I read the first four pages, and it sucks," he reports.

Something Else I'm Not Going to Read

I can guarantee I am not going to read an Ian McEwan novel from the point of view of a fetus. But it has an owl in it, as I learned from the New York Times review of it. The New York Times also thinks it "cleverly takes its title from a line in HAMLET," but I'm fairly certain that can't be clever anymore. Nothing against Ian McEwan or fetuses!

Sunday, September 04, 2016


Lee Durkee emailed me a recent newspaper article about the ghosts of the Bee Gees! And in return I emailed him some stuff about HAMLET. I'm sure I am not the first to observe that Ophelia does all the stuff Hamlet only talks about, like going mad and committing suicide. Or she kind of falls out of a tree, doesn't she? It's not clear she meant to do it. But forget that! Here's my idea I told Lee: what if Ophelia feigns madness too, and fakes her own death, then disguises herself as her brother (who's really still in France) and kills Hamlet herself? That would be cool. Then she'd be doing EVERYTHING that Hamlet REALLY wanted to do (avenge father; kill Hamlet). And then you'd have a play called OPHELIA. I'm sure I'm not the first to have this idea. But even though I'm not "blogging" anymore I thought I'd stick it here like a post-it note.