Monday, June 30, 2008
You know that certain behemoth of a corporation the name of which will never appear on this "blog"? They have a section on their "web" site where their customers can group favorite books into thematic lists. It has been called to my attention that my second book, YOUR BODY IS CHANGING, is on a list called "Spirituality and Health." The person who put it on the list may not have read the book, I fear. Or it could be that I am underestimating my contribution to spirituality and health through the overlooked medium of gimmicky short stories. Some of the other titles on the list are YOUR GUARDIAN ANGEL AND YOU, SECRET SOCIETIES AND HOW THEY AFFECT OUR LIVES TODAY, and HEALING BACK PAIN: THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION. The "web" site I will never name sells things apart from books. Socks, for example. I found that the "Spirituality and Health" person had reviewed some socks. I now quote the review in its entirety, and I think you will see why I place it in that rarified category with the prose of James Joyce, Jesse James, Jr., the person who wrote the article about the Dymaxion, and Milton Cross. Here is the review: "This men's sock line by Calvin Klien is the best for large, wide feet that I've seen. They go on comfortably, fit snugly but not tightly. Most socks when pulled over a large foot won't stay up very well, but these do better than most."
The "blog's" recent paucity of illustrations has been the subject of an overwhelming public outcry - okay, a single, brief note from Verdell, who writes, "While words are no doubt the beef in the blog, even the most succulent marbled ribeye needs an accompaniment, such as a baked potato or a crisp iceberg wedge drizzled with blue cheese crumbles." Point taken, Verdell. This should tide you over.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Today's passages from TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU by Kingsley Amis. Here's the latter part of a drinking binge: "At different times he had a drink, some coffee, some aspirins, a drink, something like aspirins but not them, a glass of milk, some coffee. At one stage he was lying down on a big bed with his head on a circular pillow, at another he was in a taxi." Here's the next morning: "He felt like an old book: spine defective, covers dull, slight foxing, fly missing, rather shaken copy."
Our "internet" friend at "She Blogged By Night" has sent a "link" to some pictures of Nedra Harrison. But before you "click" on this "link" I just want you to know that McNeil sent a similar - almost exactly similar - "link" previously, from which the pictures have now vanished, no kidding. So, if you "click" and do not see Ms. Harrison, don't be alarmed! As mentioned in our previous "post," she was not one to flaunt herself. She is the rare person whose image does not seem to "stick" to the "internet." Speaking of "She Blogged By Night," "She Blogged By Night" has put up an interesting TCM viewing tip, one which we intend to take. ("Click" here to read it for yourself.) It is far enough in advance to remind us of McNeil's premature touting of BOEING, BOEING. Remember that? Ah, those were the days. Wheeeee! Maybe Nedra Harrison was onto something. P.S.: I have taken the advice of "She Blogged By Night" and not read past the first three paragraphs of her movie recommendation, containing as it does many, many "spoilers." Finally, speaking of "spoilers," I will say that AWESOME has received several nice reviews lately, and no bad ones that I know of besides Publishers Weekly (which still thinks I am a "Young Adult" author [!!!!!!] though I have sent them many friendly emails explaining that I am not; this misconception is bad for me, but especially bad for any unsuspecting "young adults" who pick up my unreasonably profane work), but I have kept my promise not to tell you about them. I do need to mention that one extremely nice review - I'm not complaining! - tells the ENTIRE PLOT of the book, including some surprises at the end and indeed the paraphrased contents of the final paragraph. A very nice review, don't get me wrong! But if you are reading a review of AWESOME one day and you begin to think, "Hey, this seems like the whole plot," you are right! So if you intend to buy the book (ha ha!) stop reading. Unless you don't care. It's not much of a plot.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
McNeil, as you know, has access to the mysterious search engines of academia. He always uses them for good rather than evil, such as when he found a copy of the Jerry Lewis book THE TOTAL FILM-MAKER in Nigeria, or a Pravda review of a Bob Hope special. But today McNeil has exercised his talents to their greatest purpose yet: finding out more about phantomatic "Blog" Icon Nedra Harrison. Some of what he found (from an obituary in a San Francisco newspaper) may explain why there is so little about Nedra Harrison on the "internet" - she didn't like to talk about herself. I'll quote now from the part of the obituary containing some information new to the "blog": "Graced with a kind of exotic beauty, she grew up in the rural South and graduated from high school, in Tifton, Ga., where she was 'Miss Tifton High School.' From 1934 to 1936, she studied at Emerson College in Boston and then moved to Florida and acted at the Sarasota Playhouse. That was followed by a move to New York, where she became a model." (There follow some things we have already told you about Ms. Harrison's cinema-ready career as supermodel, fighter pilot, and scientist. Wasn't that enough? The obit goes on: "She became a certified scuba diver... For many years she lived in a historical landmark-registered 1871 Victorian house in the 2500 block of Clay Street, and she worked at the lab until her retirement in 1988. Despite her adventures in modeling and her worldwide image as the Dragon Lady in Caniff's famed comic strip, Ms. Anargyros [one of her married names - ed.] was not much given to brag about herself or aggrandize her various achievements. 'I was her friend and her attorney for many years,' Holsman said, 'and she wasn't given to talking about her personal history.'"
Welcome once more to "James Whorton, Jr.'s C-Spandemonium!" - the part of the "blog" where we come together to share our reflections on the C-Span networks, named after the founder of "C-Spandemonium!" James Whorton, Jr. Just now I was watching C-Span 2 and a nice, mild, and extremely thoughtful gentleman was talking about the "perniciousness" of television. From some other things he said, I gathered that he might be a "liberal," like myself. It occurred to me that I have also heard conservatives on C-Span 2 talking about the perniciousness of television. Perhaps this is one of those "uniting" issues I have heard about. In all these cases, the liberals and conservatives in question were on television! Is the latter a reductive and simplistic observation? Almost certainly! Have you read a "blog" before? In today's example, the gentleman made an aside to the effect that if "all TV was C-Span, it would be okay." And he smirked ingratiatingly at Brian Lamb.
The most recent "blog"trospective, the one about movies, is getting lengthier and more complex all the time, and, like a rare and beauteous orchid, requires constant tender attention. I was wondering: what subject is grand enough to warrant a new "blog"trospective, yet seldom enough remarked upon here to cause me very little effort ever again? Then, naturally, I thought of the moon, which is big and enjoyable and full of romance. But if we go for a while without mentioning it, nobody minds. Just today, however, I was looking at some footage of the moon landing and thinking, "What if the landing is real (which it is, of course) but the FOOTAGE is fake? Would that be so terrible? Maybe the government was proud of landing on the moon but knew no one would believe it without visual 'proof.'" I am sure even the most halfhearted search of the "internet" would turn up someone who has already thought of this, and believes it, too. With that, I give you our newest "blog"trospective: MOON, THE: Aldrin, Buzz, attitude of after return from---art on---astral voyages to---Carson, Jack, face of looms like---coconut beams of---commercial for moon food---DELRAY'S NEW MOON---deposited on Earth via beam of---fist fight on---fixing of---gardens peaceful and sweet-scented in light of---Gleason, Jackie and---golf club used on---humorously titled "post" involving---in August---interesting information about---Kennedy's famous "let's go to" speech---landing discussed on the Gem Shopping Network---landing real; footage of landing fake---Lewis, Jerry, gets hypothetical ant in boot on---like a hot cannon-ball---"man in the moon" costume from Lyly's ENDYMION---Martian version, a---milking of---Moon, Keith---Moon, Keith; drum kit of blows up---Moon Knight, gigantic black-and-white compilation of---Moon Woman---mooning around---non-stop multi-colored trip to---not a planet---on a mural behind Shirley MacLaine---role of engineers using slide rules in exploration of---silver apples of---stories from blue cafe of---tiny little sharp crescent ones thrown by Knight of---unicorns gazing at---used to illustrate "post" about Doyle from GILMORE GIRLS---vestal livery of---wakefulness of---Whorton, James, Jr., believes people might be living on.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Remember "blog fan" (as unlikely as that sounds) James Sepsey? He's best known as the guy who once encountered Ruth Buzzi. The "blog" received another note from Mr. Sepsey, which included the following lines: "Supposedly Billy Mumy used to live in Bishop, California, which is where I grew up. Hauntingly enough, there is a Mumy Lane in Bishop. And an old creepy house that, once again supposedly, belonged to the Mumy family." But my interest in Mr. Sepsey's note lay not in Mumy rumors (Mumy was the kid on LOST IN SPACE, in case you don't know) but in Mr. Sepsey's offhand comment, later in the text, that the great character actor Elisha Cook, Jr. (pictured) also lived in Bishop, California, and that Sepsey had encountered him on more than one occasion. I asked for details, and I got them. I present them now, edited somewhat - not for content (they were excellently written) but for clarity's sake, because I still don't know how to do paragraph breaks. And now, we turn it over to Sepsey, who was fifteen at the time of this memory, working in his grandfather's hardware store: "One afternoon a man pulls up in a dilapidated Cadillac. Dogs bark in the backseat. Many dogs. Through the storefront window my coworker and I can see the man. His Cadillac. His many dogs. My coworker, who is thirty years my senior, says, 'Hey, that’s Cookie.' I have no idea who Cookie is... 'Shaddup!' Cookie hollers at the dogs. 'Shaddup all of you!' Cookie enters the store. Without a shirt on. He is scrawny and leathery, with springy white hair and sparkly eyes that soak you up... we point Cookie to the motor oil. He says he’ll be right back. My coworker begins to explain who this Cookie guy is. He is Elisha Cook, Jr., the great actor, and he has been killed in many big movies. Killed. Roughed-up. Double-crossed. Poisoned... And usually before the second act! He has starred with many legendary actors and actresses: Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Lauren Bacall, Laurel and Hardy, Alan Ladd, Shemp Howard, Vincent Price... Cookie gets his motor oil and comes back to the counter. He talks to my coworker. They act like old friends. Old cellmates. Then Cookie says something to me. Something like: 'Take care, fella.' ... Not long after that first encounter with Cookie, I see him on The Bionic Woman. 'Hey,' I say to my dad, 'that’s Cookie. He bought motor oil from us a while ago.' 'Shoot,' my dad says, 'that’s nothing. One time I was going up to Coyote, and here’s old Cookie stuck in a ditch, on a switchback. So I stop, help him get his truck unstuck. He says thanks and gives me a beer. Next thing we’re on his tailgate finishing a twelve-pack. And probably a little whiskey, a few nips. When we get done, heck, we’re both too darn lit up to drive. But we do anyway. Cookie says, "Thanks, fella." And then drives away.'"
Caught part of a Don Rickles documentary this afternoon. It contained a fleeting glimpse of a Las Vegas marquee, which read: "Johnny Carson, with special guest January Jones." My mind boggled, as you may well imagine. January Jones, as scholars of the "blog" will realize, is our favorite name for an actor, and she appears on "blog" "fave" show MAD MEN. But certainly she is too young to have been Johnny Carson's special guest in a show on the Las Vegas strip, way, way back when he was doing such things. This is what my mathematics told me! A little research uncovered the fact that there was a PREVIOUS January Jones, who appeared in just two movies in the mid 1960s... one of which (hold onto your hats!) was McNeil's bete noire, DON'T WORRY, WE'LL THINK OF A TITLE. What I do with my time - is it called "living"? Somebody let me know. Thanks in advance!
A very long time ago we called a halt to the "blog's" tabulation of men who use cigarette holders. But here, in today's New York Times, is a picture of Dalton Trumbo sitting in a bathtub with a pen in one hand and a cigarette holder in the other and perhaps this is the culmination of all our efforts, perhaps this is what we were searching for all along and now the "blog" can begin its inevitable slide toward extinction.
Here is something of little or no interest to anyone! Enjoy! Remember the other day, how I said that the real-life story of Nedra Harrison would strike people as too outlandish to believe? Well, in today's New York Times, A.O. Scott (to whom the "blog" is eternally grateful for tossing a kind word to Jerry Lewis in his review of an Adam Sandler film) uses the following to represent the ne plus ultra of ridiculous, impossible plotting and characterization: "If 'Wall-E' were a romantic comedy, it would be about a humble garbageman who falls for a supermodel who also happens to be a top scientist with a knack for marksmanship. (I’m pretty sure I reviewed that a while back, but the title escapes me.)" Well, A.O. Scott, that's Nedra Harrison! She's FOR REAL. I call dibs on the screenplay. As I have mentioned, the "internet" is strangely bereft of Nedra Harrison (until now!). But McNeil has found that if you do a "Google Book Search" you can read about and see her in a book called FIXING THE MOON. Thanks, McNeil!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
For the first time ever, something good has happened to me because of "blogging." Thanks to the discussion - partially "blogged" - that Maud Newton and I have had about Joseph Twichell (best buddy of Mark Twain and father-in-law of Charles Ives), a publisher has contacted me, expressing a fervent desire to send me two free books about Joseph Twichell. And if you think this will influence the way I talk about those books on the "blog"... YOU'RE RIGHT!
We know you have all missed our only regular feature with a super classy name: "The Subject Was Apples." Well, dry your bitter tears. McNeil has a new camera phone and we are back on track... with a few caveats. First, from McNeil: "It's not the same apple, I'm sure. It's been too long between working phones for me to find the right one. This one will have to be the new darling." A painful compromise! Second, we are not botanists or special effects artists, nor are we capable of anything, really, but this photo looks suspicious to us. The apple is too perfect! And the way it floats there... almost Magritte-ish. Has this apple been digitally enhanced? There is no way to tell. Is it authentic? We have McNeil's word for it and that's all we have. Such is the nature of reality in our strange modern world of today!
Welcome again to "Literary Matters," the special feature in which we take a look at the excruciatingly tedious subject of literary matters. Today we have five literary matters. I apologize in advance. 1) Hey! I'm in the big leagues again. Made a cameo on Maud Newton's web site today... for the second time! Maud and I have been emailing back and forth about Charles Ives and Mark Twain and occasionally rambling far afield (I'll speak for myself). For example, something in our conversation brought me back to my ancient (1953) edition of "Milton Cross' Encyclopedia of the Great Composers and their Music" (in which Ives does not appear, which was part of the point of my pointless email) where I ran across these favorite passages about Scriabin, which have stuck with me since I was 13 or 14: "As a child he showed his affection for the piano by kissing it, as if it were an animated being, and by expressing anguish when it was repaired, tuned, or moved." And this about Scriabin's "Mystery," which he never finished composing: "[It] would call upon music, poetry, drama, and the dance - as well as colors, perfumes, and a new kind of language made up of sighs and exclamations - to express what up to then had been inexpressible. His 'Mystery,' he felt, would be the last will and testament of a dying civilization." For me, this puts Milton Cross up there with James Joyce, Jesse James, Jr., and the person who wrote the article about the Dymaxion as a prose stylist. It also places Scriabin on that list of people - along with Nedra Harrison and "the Broadway Gun Girl" - about whom someone needs to make a movie. 2) Amanda Stern has broken her foot! We send out our thoughts and prayers to Amanda Stern's foot. 3) Barry B. has the same birthday as Carroll Baker. Or he might. He's not sure. This may not be a literary matter. 4) Phil Oppenheim is the first to answer the call in our recent contest. He writes, "The only thing worse than coming up with Wildean aphorisms is not coming up with them." Which made me think of this one: "The only thing worse than not coming up with Wildean aphorisms is coming up with them." I think mine is better! Therefore Phil is disqualified. 5) The aforementioned Phil, knowing of the "blog's" friendship with one Joey Adams, thinks we would also very much like another Joey Adams of whom he (Phil) has long been a fan. Phil includes a photo of a book by this other Joey Adams (above), and indeed his evidence is compelling. These have been your literary matters. We shan't darken your doorway again.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Today, a discussion at work prompted McNeil's memorable riposte, "You learn something old every day." McNeil called to ascertain whether or not this might be an Oscar Wilde-like aphorism. Sure, the committee responded. Try making up your own at home! Send the results to "Writer" c/o Oxford, MS.
As careful readers will observe, today's MGMIEET is actually a MGMIEEDAT, with the inclusion of two clips featuring the hero of our favorite Aquaman "blog," which is, it should come as no surprise, none other than the eponymous Aquaman himself. I have presented one of these clips in the "embedded" format disdained by McNeil (above) and another in McNeil's preferred "what's behind that door" format. Which is better? Judge for yourself! Why Aquaman? Why now? We would have to ask McNeil. And we don't want to do that. It might spoil the magic. (Remember what Jasper Johns said!) Finally, a word of caution. Just because we have had two presentations in a row, don't think that MGMIEET will ever become a daily feature again. That's just what McNeil wants you to think! It's what I've thought before. And then I got hurt.
I was reading about Nedra Harrison today. Okay, it was a photo caption. What I read was a photo caption, and yes, I consider that reading. It was a photo caption in THE COMPLETE TERRY AND THE PIRATES, vol. 3, from the same good people who brought you THE COMPLETE DICK TRACY, vol. 1. Who is Nedra Harrison, you ask? She modeled for comic strip artist Milton Caniff, and... Well, here. Here's part of the photo caption: "Nedra Harrison... also posed for Salvador Dali's 'Madonna of the Sea' and portrayed Lady Godiva at the 1939 New York World's Fair. During World War II, she earned her pilot's license and was a member of the prestigious Women's Air Force Service Pilots. She later became a respected pathologist and supervised the cytology laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital." Wow! I find Nedra Harrison even more interesting than "the Broadway Gun Girl." She is some kind of real life Wonder Woman! I mean, can you imagine the credits for a TV show about Nedra Harrison? It would probably start with Ms. Harrison in her supermodel mode on a fashion runway during a photo shoot that is interrupted so she can jump in her plane and fly herself to the hospital, where she would run upstairs and save somebody's life. And you would be like, "No way!" Too outlandish, yes, that would be your conclusion. This couldn't be a real person. And oh how very wrong you would be. For there was such a person, according to the photo caption I just read. And her name was Nedra Harrison. Nedra Harrison! (Ironically - is that the word? - there won't be a picture accompanying this "post" because there aren't any photos of Nedra Harrison on the "internet," though I did find a practicing surgeon - a relative, perhaps, following her forebear's footsteps into the medical profession? - by that name in Scottsdale, Arizona. You know, there's precious little information about Nedra Harrison on the "internet" at all, really... there's more, in fact, in that photo caption! Well, there IS one "internet" photo of the "original" Nedra Harrison in a publicity shot for a San Francisco department store, but she is hard to see in it and you need the permission of the San Francisco public library to show it and frankly I'm just way too lazy to get permission for anything, ever.)
Twice I have "blogged" about Dr. "M.'s" mother: once when she made "hoppin' john" and once about the time she was a contestant on JEOPARDY! (exclamation point theirs). So why, in my previous "post," when I attached a "link" about Dr. "M.'s" parents, was it the solitary one about her father, from so much longer ago than the two about her mother? A simple slip of the mind? Or is it evidence of an unconscious gender bias because I'm a man? We're such jerks, we men are! No kidding. Even when we try so hard! Or maybe it's just me.
Welcome to today's edition of "Lap Talk." Our guest today is Dr. "M.," who confirms Mr. Whorton's account of his laptop problem. She has this to offer: "My laptop also makes my lap hot. In fact, I have been known to sweat as a result of laptop use! I recently spoke to a Dell salesperson--was purchasing a computer on behalf of my parents--and he told me that is why they no longer call them laptops but 'notebook' computers....because they don't want people using them on their laps! But here I am writing to you with my 'notebook' on my lap!!!! What's a girl to do??? Yours, M." Thanks for joining us for today's edition of "Lap Talk."
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Welcome once again to McNeil's Gold Medal International Emergency Exit Theatre... ever rarer, but always a gem. Of today's secret clip McNeil says, "I have no recollection of this, thank God." Yes, McNeil, well, that is to say, I mean, well, the thing is, I sort of kind of do.
Speaking of "googling" things, I am afraid to "google" Jim Whorton's assertion that his computer was "making [his] lap really hot." And speaking of Jim - more properly known as James Whorton, Jr. - I think it has been far too long since I have reminded you of his fine novels APPROXIMATELY HEAVEN and FRANKLAND. I can never decide which I like better. I go back and forth. They are both funny and filled with kindness.
To be fair, while there are no matches for "There's something you do see every day," there are three "google" matches for "There's something you see every day" and to be fair I ought to check to see if anyone misspelled the phrase using the adjective "everyday," but I think we all agree that "there's something you see every day" is weighted a bit differently, whereas the nexus of the former phrase lies squarely in the "do." The "do" is what gives it that Oscar Wildey oppositey feel. You know what? It isn't even amusing anymore. I've now officially bored myself into an everlasting torpor. First the word "being" and now the word "do." This is why people shouldn't talk about anything. I'm ashamed to "post" a photo of the epigrammatical Oscar (to whom I've more or less spent three "posts" brazenly and pathetically comparing myself [!!!]) next to such ramblings! Yet here we are.
So, my sister says she "googled" the phrase "there's something you do see every day" and my "blog" was the only thing that came up. I hereby copyright the phrase! I believe the only other time I have been the solitary result of a "googling" was "C-Spandemonium!" Come to think of it, let's copyright that, too! Too bad that "the feeling of shame is the most revolutionary feeling" belongs to the old Soviet Union. Go ahead and print that up on bootleg t-shirts and mugs. But not "There's something you do see every day." Or I'll see you in court! Every day!
Monday, June 23, 2008
In Which I Make an Oscar Wilde-Like Aphorism & Decide That Someone Has Most Likely Beaten Me to the Punch
Here is today's quotation from TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU by Kingsley Amis: our friend Patrick Standish considers that Mr. Hyde, "not least in that striking scene where the small child gets trampled underfoot, was one of the best adjusted and most sympathetic characters in literature." Now, this strikes me, if it weren't quite so mean, as a line that Jonathan Ames might have written in WAKE UP, SIR! In fact, as I look back over the few times I tried to put across how good WAKE UP, SIR! is, I realize that I did not do it justice. Speaking of quotable things, I was walking to City Grocery this evening when I saw a small car packed with undergraduate college women, who were giggling and blowing soap bubbles out of their open windows, so that a trail of soap bubbles followed their car down the road, and I said, half aloud, "There's something you do see every day." Right after that, I thought, "Wow! I just made an Oscar Wilde-like aphorism!" Directly after that, I decided that several people have probably said it before me.
I just sent an email to a certain farmer of our acquaintance, because I have a farmer character in this new thing I'm trying to write and I had a few farming questions, the answers of which will help make my farmer "realistic." Anyway, it occurred to me how much our friend The Farmer helped me with AWESOME. He told me everything I needed to know about the subject of hay - what hay is, for example. You don't realize that you don't know what hay is until you sit down and ask yourself, "What's hay?" I should have thanked him for his thorough and extremely helpful answer in print, on the dedication page or something! But I did not. A terrible oversight on my part. And it is too late now. Sorry, Farmer! You will get a GIGANTIC mention (by your REAL NAME!) in the next one. Well, not the next one. The one after that. If I finish it. And I will. Thanks to YOU, Farmer! Thanks to YOU!
What bothers McNeil's already troubled psyche about the cloud logo guy, for reasons that modern science will never fully understand, is the part of his interview in which the cloud logo guy says (in McNeil's paraphrase), "he has a ghost logo and on a calm day it looks like everyone is going to heaven." McNeil concludes, "I imagine him staring at the interviewer a second too long after completing that sentence." By coincidence, I have also just received a "link" containing five ghosts and a gnome from the NBIL.
I have been intending to "blog" about a bowl someone left at our house after a pot luck. Like, "Hey, come get your bowl, whoever you are." But today I heard from the young woman whose bowl it is. And I was like, "Now there's nothing left to 'blog' about." Yet here we are.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
There's another Jerry Lewis reference in the New York Times today, but it certainly is a piddling one and doesn't add much to the Lewisian corpus and I don't believe I will "link" to it if you don't mind. It comes once again in the form of the supposedly staggering observation that French people like Jerry Lewis. Everyone can stop making that observation now. We get it! I also happened to notice Samuel Beckett references in a COUPLE of articles in today's Times. He's another "go-to" guy! I wonder who has been a point of cultural reference more often in the New York Times - Samuel Beckett or Jerry Lewis? Boy, my mind sure does like to think of dull things. I'm sleepy. Perpetually sleepy.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Speaking of the New York area, I have just received a welcome email from Amanda Stern, asking me to come and read from AWESOME as part of her rightly lauded Happy Ending Reading and Music Series. What an agreeable coda to the "book tour" that will be! Now, this particular engagement is scheduled for October... lots of advance notice, I know. But people in New York have many exciting choices for any given evening's entertainment, so I feel it is wise to "put myself out there" as early as possible.
Friday, June 20, 2008
More from TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU by Kingsley Amis. A character speculates about a large house he is visiting: "'The money that must have gone into this. And the upkeep must be something quite staggering. I'd like a wee glance at the details of Mr Ormerod's monthly income, I must say. Where it all derives from, in particular.' Then he quietened down, like somebody who knows he has let on being a little too interested in how they manage the floggings in prisons." Just a few pages later comes this strand of pearls, a bit twisted up, but that's part of the fun of it: "Anna was not much of a one for underplaying, and had been known to get what was probably most of what was probably the way great foreign actresses went on (especially, probably, in plays where one great foreign actress was acting the part of another great foreign actress from years ago) into things like passing the sugar or picking up a newspaper." Three scant paragraphs after that, there's this fragment of dialogue: "Do you think he was brought up in the most weird morbid sort of way by some ghastly maiden aunt or something, you know with all harmoniums and aspidistras and antimacassars and things? Sort of vicar's son going to the dogs thing?"
I need to alert my friend in Hubcap City and my ex-boss Lisa (both Weegee fans) that there is a good article about Weegee in the New York Times today. Of course, being Weegee fans, you two probably already know everything in it. My favorite part is the passing mention of "Norma Parker, the Broadway Gun Girl," who robbed restaurants with a cap pistol. I ought to look up more information about her, or better yet, someone else should do it while I lie down.
You always learn something when you tune into TCM - and have a fun time watching old movies to boot! Last night I learned what an idiot I am, for example. In an Oxford American article about the movie BABY DOLL, I once wrote of Carroll Baker's performance, "Baker seems to have come into this title role from nowhere, and to have sunk back there (with an Academy Award nomination) when it was done." Then I went on to say that it didn't matter, because nothing she ever did could possibly match up to her "Baby Doll." Oh, I love to make pronouncements! Wheeeeee! But last night I saw Ms. Baker on TCM, giving a subtle, rich, mature, deeply satisfying performance in the film BRIDGE TO THE SUN. The role is better than her role in BABY DOLL. She is never once required to suck her thumb, for example! And I will go ahead and say it: the movie itself is better than BABY DOLL (my problems with which are hinted at throughout the aforementioned article). Carroll Baker is magnificent in BRIDGE TO THE SUN, so I just want to remind everyone it's better if we (people, that is) never say or write anything and just kind of stay quiet and shut up and mind our own business.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I fear I have been far too rough on and condescending to the gentleman who invented the cloud logos. They do not appear in real life quite as sinister as I imagined they would be with the powers of my imagination - and therein lies my disappointment! I think my sick mind WANTED the evil clouds of commerce to be gigantic and ominous so that I could rail against them with scalding righteousness and deft satirical swipes winning the admiration of many. But my twisted desires are not his fault! I would like to paraphrase Shakespeare now, but I'll resist. No! I can't resist! "The fault lies not in our clouds manufactured to look like corporate logos, but in ourselves." Cloud Man is just trying to make a decent living like everybody else.
I've been thinking about what gives me that "letdown feeling" I've been having lately re: cloud logos. Well, the headlines gave me the impression (as I put it in the original "post" on the subject) that there was "a plan to fill the sky with clouds in the shape of corporate logos." Part of the pathos derives, I suppose, from the gulf between this grand, misguided, supervillain scheme and the small, ineffectual, actual result. Not that one WANTS the sky to be filled with clouds in the shape of corporate logos! So I should be happy when I hear the machine give its grunt and see the feeble thing it has birthed. But I am not. Let's all think about what's wrong with me.
The first time I watched that video I had the sound off. When you have the sound off, it gives you a different kind of sadness than when you have the sound on. There is something to be said for both kinds of sadness! It is hard to pick one over the other. For the most perfect kind of sadness, I think there would have to be a version that left out the talking but left in the weird sound when the magical laundry detergent crosses come chugging out of the machine.
Now that I have seen this odd and strangely dispiriting video (below), I realize that the cloud advertising logos are not "puffs of smoke" as I originally speculated. They seem to be made of laundry detergent. I am still not sure how you can call it a cloud. Well! I've given myself a lot to think about!
Hey, remember when I told you (thanks to the NBIL) about the guy who wants to make clouds in the shape of advertising logos? Well, I recently read a funny article by George Saunders in a British newspaper ("click" here to read it for yourself) that made me think, "George Saunders would enjoy knowing about the cloud logo guy!" So I emailed that old "link" to "George Saunders." But when I was checking out the old "post" afterward, I noticed that the "link" to the cloud logo guy article didn't work anymore! So here is a new "link" about the cloud logo guy. Looking at all this with fresh eyes, I notice that his "clouds" are 4 feet wide. Now, I'm no cloud expert - I don't even know what makes the wind blow, though McNeil tried to explain it to me once - but 4 feet: does that really count as a cloud? Wouldn't that be technically, I don't know, a puff of smoke? I like the part of the article where he says, "It's a shock factor when you look up and there's a logo over your head."
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Theresa and I just enjoyed an amazing dinner at City Grocery - four iterations (deconstructions I would call them if the word didn't make Phil so mad) of roast suckling pig - and who should be dining at the next table but Bruce McGill... Yes, D-Day from ANIMAL HOUSE! Awesome! We sent a glass of port to his table after dinner - you know, to thank him for being D-DAY FROM ANIMAL HOUSE! He came over and expressed his gratitude in the most gentlemanly and gracious manner imaginable... said how much he liked our town, particularly the "apricot-colored bookstore" (by which he meant Square Books). Anyway, we talked to D-Day! D-DAY FROM ANIMAL HOUSE!!! AWESOME!!!!!! (We didn't have, as the title suggests, "Dinner With D-Day," but that is a humorous reference to the film MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. You're welcome!)
The "blog" has received what we can only describe as a piece of "fan mail," though this surely means a horrible mistake has been made somewhere down the line. The person who sent the letter, one James Sepsey, though unknown to us, seems very nice, and certainly his interests align with those of the "blog," as you will see in the following excerpt, which features a celebrity cameo from someone who, like Lily Tomlin, Goldie Hawn, Henry Gibson, and many other "blog" "faves," was a cast member of the TV show LAUGH-IN. And now, we give you, in his own words, "blog" "fan" James Sepsey: "You are probably wondering how your tribute to Warren Oates ('An Ode to Warren Oates'; Oxford American, issue 53), a Thomas McGuane novel, and a Julio Cortazar short-story collection have all led me to a long-lost treasure. I myself can’t believe it. But here’s briefly what happened. I was holding in my hand the other day the Criterion Collection edition of Two-Lane Blacktop, trying to justify its $39.99 price tag... Anyway, I then remembered how you had mentioned (in your ode) how Warren Oates had starred in 92 in the Shade, which reminded me how I had once bought that very novel. So I vowed right there to go home and finally read that novel... Well, as I’m looking for McGuane’s novel in my bookcase, I see a piece of paper sticking out of Julio Cortazar’s Blow-Up and Other Stories, which happens to be next to the McGuane novel, for whatever reason. The paper is sort of yellowed, with 'To James' in cursive along the top. I pull it out of the book, look at the signature, and lo and behold if it isn’t Ruth Buzzi’s autograph! From 2002! AWOL six years! I had the good fortune of speaking with Ruth Buzzi one day while I was working at [here Sepsey names a mammoth book chain; we delete it in honor of your local independent bookstore. This implies no judgment of Mr. Sepsey! We all have to make a living! I myself have stooped much lower! - ed.]. We talked for over an hour. And you might not know this but it was Jim Nabors who wanted to cease production of The Lost Saucer – not some [drug reference deleted - ed.] television executive. (Do you recall the show?) [Yes! - ed.] Well, Miss Buzzi told me, 'I said to Jim: "Jim, let’s do it for the kids. This is for the kids."' I nearly cried. Sadly she didn’t whack me with her purse or anything, but I did get to see and touch her credit card – which actually says Ruth Buzzi."
Welcome to the latest edition of James Whorton, Jr.'s C-Spandemonium! "As I was checking [the 'blog']," writes James Whorton, Jr., "I was listening to James McCord on C-Span. You remember him, he is the man who taped the locks sideways! What a scr**-up! I think something is wrong with my laptop battery," Whorton digresses. "It is making my lap really hot."
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
"Click" here for your daily mention of Jerry Lewis in the New York Times. It's by Dave Kehr again. Come on! Some of you other guys are going to have to start pulling your weight on the Jerry front. I'm looking at you, Jon Pareles! Just yesterday I was trying to think of an excuse to show these salt-and-pepper shakers again. And here it is like magic.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I was watching TEACHER'S PET, starring Doris Day and Clark Gable. I was watching it on TCM, which has been restored unto us! Restored! Praise be to the satellite. In one scene, Gig Young and Doris Day go out to a swinging nightclub for Gig Young's birthday. Gig Young (who is mentioned in the first short story in my second book, by the way) seems to regard the entertainment with relish and absorption. Here's what they have for entertainment at the nightclub: a duet between a harpist and a bongo player. And I was like, "Wow! That is the worst nightclub ever." The subsequent acts in the floor show were livelier. But still.
Today I was cleaning out the cat box - do you really want to hear about such things? Apparently so, because you are reading a "blog"! - I was cleaning out the cat box and singing "This Magic Moment" by the Platters. I was not trying to be "cute"! It was only later that the counterpoint occurred to me. Now if you will excuse me, I am off to have some other fascinating experiences.
Here is something else from TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU by Kingsley Amis. One of the characters, a schoolteacher named Patrick Standish, spies an annoying person named Charlton - his nemesis, sort of - he has been striving to avoid. And now I give you Kingsley Amis: "Then he caught sight of Charlton standing quite near, being squat and horrible, in fact, in the patchy shade of one of the laburnums that bordered the open side of the court." There are many good things about this sentence! For example, it represents the first time that Charlton has been physically described, so when we hit that subjective pothole in the middle, it gives us a rhetorical or syntactical thrill or something. Forgive me, I am not proficient at explaining things or familiarizing myself with the meanings of the words I use. But one thing is for sure: the great word choice in that sentence is "being." Think about it and you will know I am right! To the untrained eye, "laburnums" or "patchy" would appear to be the star word of the sentence. Or "squat," perhaps. "Being" is usually a dull and unnecessary word, like "was." But in the sentence under review, "being" gets its turn in the spotlight, thanks to the utter existential disapproval it manages to imply. In a structural sense, "being" earns its place of honor because it represents the moment at which the third-person narrator revises himself (itself? Is a third-person narrator a "he" just because the author is a "he"? And of course we are all acquainted with that muzzy area in which the third-person narrator begins to collude with a particular character, in this case a male one) right there in front of us, realizing and/or deciding that "standing" is not an absolute and consuming enough word to describe the vast unpleasantness of Charlton's posture in the world. Here I go pretending to explain things again! And I had a lot stored up to say about "in fact." I should just shut my fat yap. What a loser.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Welcome once again to "James Whorton Jr.'s C-Spandemonium!" Usually in our present circumstance (James Whorton, Jr. having nothing to do with the "post") we just call it "C-Spandemonium!" but we have decided that the former is the more appealing name and we are going to keep it full time, all the time, no matter what, in honor of, yes, in honor of James Whorton, Jr. as our model for attentive C-Span viewing. So, yesterday I was watching C-Span and I heard a guy pronounce "Thucydides." Boy have I been saying it wrong! This has been "James Whorton, Jr.'s C-Spandemonium!"
Watched CAR WASH with a continuous sense of happy nostalgia for the kinds of things a broad, pop entertainment movie felt free and willing to try back in 1976. My favorite aspect was the structure... a collage of a dozen or so strong, single-character story lines, punctuated by disconnected, standalone sketches involving the larger group. I particularly enjoyed the threads that didn't feel the need to go anywhere, such as Franklin Ajaye's desire to create (be?) a superhero called the Fly, or the elliptical sections centered on the cipher/chameleon played by Lauren Jones. I thought I detected some Robert Altman influence (a stiffer, more sharply outlined and stage-managed approximation of his style) and I believe I was proven right by the closing credits, with their obvious debt to the closing credits of Altman's film M*A*S*H (he later employed a somewhat similar technique in the opening credits of NASHVILLE). I'm not saying CAR WASH was perfect. Take the Bill Duke subplot, for example. The film sees his attempt at political engagement - ANY attempt at political engagement - as an inevitable, self-delusional cul-de-sac. In one scene, Duke debates a fraudulent preacher played by Richard Pryor. Duke's character is clearly in the right, but in filmic terms, Pryor wins. That's the way the movie wants it - a triumph of joyful avarice (and star power) over austere morality. I'm not knocking the scene, which is one of the highlights of CAR WASH (briefly transformed into a musical at that moment). Finally, I will mention that Ivan Dixon gives a layered, moving performance - really the heart of the movie - that made me ashamed for the breezy way in which the "blog" reported his death. Shame on the "blog"!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
"Click" here for a story about a crazy car. Jerry Lewis is not mentioned in this New York Times story for some reason, though if you ask me there is ample opportunity, considering how crazy he could get when he drove a car. See THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY, for example. Jerry would have looked great driving a Dymaxion (pictured) - great and hilarious! - especially given the tendency of the Dymaxion's rear wheel to lift from the ground at high speeds and the fact that it had a periscope instead of a rearview mirror. Come on! This car was made for Jerry! A periscope! Periscope + Jerry = solid gold. I like the part of the story when Buckminster Fuller (who dreamed up the car) is described physically. The description's placement, so far down there near the end, makes it strangely awkward and charming, as do the chosen particulars and their bracing irrelevance to the story: "Fuller, a short man who often wore a white suit..." Somehow I place this in a category of satisfaction with the quotations from Jesse James, Jr. and James Joyce to which I have recently drawn your attention. I hope the New York Times will not move OR remove the fragment ("Fuller, a short man who often wore a white suit") like the time they betrayed me by switching out the headline about monkeys.
Friday, June 13, 2008
I have been meaning to call Mr. Ward and get him to remind me about the time Andy Warhol noticed his tiepin. The details elude me, yet the story has been vaguely yet persistently called to mind ever since Bearden Coleman told me about Dick Cavett's wife giving his friend the evil eye. Not sure why. Not sure why the anecdote was called to mind, not sure why the friend got the evil eye. Hey, it's Friday the 13th! A good day, perhaps, to discuss the evil eye, come to think of it! So I will open at random my facsimile edition of THE EVIL EYE: AN ACCOUNT OF THIS ANCIENT & WIDESPREAD TRADITION by Frederick Thomas Elworthy (London: 1895) and type up the first sentence upon which my finger alights: "Whether looked at as the emblem of a hideous fable or simply as a mask, the Gorgoneion has in all ages been reputed as one of the most efficacious of amulets." Good to know! That's a "Friday the 13th good luck tip" courtesy of the "blog." You know, several years ago, some friends from Turkey gave Theresa and me a Turkish "anti-evil-eye" amulet (a nazar boncugu, to be exact) to hang on our front door and so far it has worked like gangbusters, knock wood! When you do your amulet shopping, tell 'em the "blog" sent you and receive a special discount. (Pictured, a Gorgoneion. For more information on Gorgoneions, or to find the Gorgoneion dealer nearest you, "click" here.)
Phil points out that while George Hamilton portrayed Hank Williams in the MGM biopic YOUR CHEATIN' HEART, his son, Hank Williams, Jr., dubbed the vocals for the singing sequences. This is part of a larger discussion we have been having here at the "blog." Does it matter? NO! Is it significant that all three men in question are juniors? NO! I believe Melville said something about man's only true freedom being his ability to say "no." I am aware that I grievously misquote. Yet I am coming up with ever grander philosophical reasons for the "blog" to exist. So sue me. (Illustration: a portrait of Hank Williams by "Blog" Buddy Jon Langford.)
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Did you know that Jesse James, Jr., portrayed his father in a couple of movies? And how was his acting? Well, he was no Fred Ott! Why is it that I associate James Joyce saying, "Yes, I am very fond of truffles" with Jesse James, Jr., saying, "Here comes the man who killed my father"? The formalism, maybe? It seems like a nice way to talk. I'm going to try to start talking like James Joyce and Jesse James, Jr.
Hey, do you know about the one single solitary time that Joyce and Proust conversed? Proust asked Joyce if he liked truffles and Joyce said, "Yes, I am very fond of truffles." And that was it! Why am I telling you this? Well, first off, it's a tidbit. Also, I feel as though I ought to tell you SOMETHING. I'll be the first to admit I'm not "blogging" at the top of my game today.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I suppose you are wondering why I have stopped offering daily quotations from WAKE UP, SIR! by Jonathan Ames. Well, it is because I finished the book, and once the book is over there are no more quotations, which is just one of the many sad things about reading books. But I feel bad about not quoting things to you. So here is something from TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU by Kingsley Amis. The main character, Jenny Bunn, has just moved into a boarding house. She has been served some fish for dinner. And now I turn things over to Kingsley Amis: "The fish was probably haddock, with a horny, pimply skin. There were a lot of potatoes, with some unexpected colours to be seen among them here and there. They were steaming briskly. So was the fish." Later, on the next page, after the meal has gone on for some time, we get this: "She looked down at her plate. On it was a lot of fish, haddock actually, almost as much as had been there when she began. In fact - although this could not be right - there seemed to be slightly more. She had at last identified the taste of it as that of the lionhouse at Southport Zoo, where she had once gone with her parents and been sick over somebody else's coat." There. I found that to be "quotable." Okay! No more quotations. I am going back to my good old policy of not boring you to death with "what I'm reading."
A new email from Bearden Coleman. We do not know Bearden Coleman except through the medium of email, which is just one of the great things about the modern computers we have today! I mean, communicating with like-minded persons from near and far. Let's take a look at what Mr. Coleman has to say: "I've been meaning to respond to some 'blog' items for a week or so," he writes, "but I'm just getting around to it. I'll be brief. First, it was nice to see respect paid to Bo Diddley. Coincidentally—or is it?— in my MFA thesis I too made reference to Diddley. I even use the exact same lyrics from 'Who Do You Love?' as you mentioned possibly using for your book's epigraph. The difference between our separate appropriations of Mr. Diddley's lyrics is that my use of WDYL? is not in the epigraph—well, that and the unlikelihood that publication of said thesis will ever leave the deep recesses of the library where it sits bound for all time. Man, that was wordy! Anyway, it does make you wonder how many other Diddley-borrowers there are out there? Next, regarding Dick Cavett: several years back a buddy and I attended a screening of a Vonnegut documentary with Vonnegut and Cavett in attendance. A situation occurred that ended with Dick Cavett's wife giving my buddy the 'evil eye.' There is no moral to this story."
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
McNeil correctly points out that Godard did not make a film called ANTICIPATION, as previously and erroneously reported on the "blog." It was a segment of one of those omnibus movies by multiple directors so popular in the 60s. The name of the larger film in question was LE PLUS VIEUX METIER DU MONDE, and Godard's contribution was called ANTICIPATION, followed by a long subtitle I'm too tired to cut-and-paste here. The title of this informative "post" is an "inside joke" between myself and McNeil, making oblique reference to Ed McMahon (pictured), about whom we have had several recent conversations. I'm sure everyone will want to know that McNeil and I saw McMahon's magisterial performance as "Charlie Blanchard" in FUN WITH DICK AND JANE (1977) together, during its original theatrical release! We had a lot of time on our hands in those days.
Another mention of Jerry Lewis in the New York Times today. There's one every day, I swear! I think they're planting Jerry references at random now, just to mess with my head. They know I have a compulsion to report it whenever the New York Times mentions Jerry Lewis... similar to my problem with velvet suits. Today's mention has almost nothing to do with Jerry Lewis, yet there it is. A play has opened off Broadway... a play (not to be confused with BOEING BOEING) sharing a name (but nothing else) with the Jerry Lewis movie THREE ON A COUCH. I guess the interesting thing is that the play was written "by the father of the birth control pill."
Monday, June 09, 2008
I watched THE BELLBOY yesterday. This time I was struck by one scene above all others. In that scene, Jerry Lewis plays himself. Shawn Levy describes the scene in his book KING OF COMEDY: THE LIFE AND ART OF JERRY LEWIS, so I will take the shortcut of using his words here: "The star arrives in a limousine escorted by a cadre of motorcycle cops. He is accompanied by an entourage of twenty-seven sycophants, all of whom emerge from the limo before him. His handlers brush off his clothing so much they rumple him; when he starts to smoke, so many lighters snap open in front of his face that his cigarette is crushed; when he tells the hotel manager he isn't feeling well because of a death in the family, the entourage breaks out in phony laughter." What struck me yesterday was the remarkable continuity between that scene and Jerry's portrait of celebrity more than 20 years later in THE KING OF COMEDY (the Scorsese movie, not to be confused with Levy's similarly titled book, which is absolutely essential and very tough on its subject, yet fair, thoughtful, and appreciative), especially - but not limited to - the plea for release he improvises in character to his captors. I sat down to "blog" about this four or five times yesterday, but each time weariness overcame me, yoked with the thought, you know, "Who cares?" But then I remembered the wise words of Chuang Tzu. Let me refresh your memory if you are too tired to "click": Chuang Tzu and a pal of his are talking about the uselessness of a big old gnarled tree and Chuang Tzu is like, "What does not invite the axe/ No creature will harm/ What cannot be used/ No troubles will befall." And I was like, "Yeah." So, in other words, now I'm "blogging" BECAUSE it doesn't matter and no one cares. Which gives me the strength to add that in his film (sic) ANTICIPATION, Godard had Anna Karina quote one of the last lines from THE BELLBOY. Also that the opening narration of THE BELLBOY is spoken by object of mild "blog" curiosity Walter Winchell. And now you know... THE REST OF THE STORY. This is Paul Harvey........... Good day!
Sunday, June 08, 2008
I was "flipping around" last night when I came upon a broadcast of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. It was on a channel of which I had been unaware until that moment, possibly because of we only recently converted to "the satellite." The channel was called Ovation. There were commercials during MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, which seemed inappropriate and distasteful somehow, or in any case, out of keeping with the spirit of the movie. But the thing that would have probably made Andre Gregory (pictured) faint was the big ugly "bug" (as we call it in the TV business) advertising the Ovation channel at the bottom right of the screen, obscuring his constantly talking face like a particolored goiter. But I have nothing against commercial television, as I have proven time and time again, and I am taking forever to reach my point! I found myself soothed by the part of the movie I happened to catch: it was Wallace Shawn (of whom I do a pretty fair impression; Theresa often demands it) discussing his immense enjoyment of the autobiography of Charlton Heston! I felt an intriguing calm. It soothed me to think of Mr. Shawn, who seems to be a liberal like myself - a humanist at least! (I do not wish to speak for Wallace Shawn, though I am great at speaking LIKE him at parties) - enjoying the autobiography of Charlton Heston. It made me feel... justified? Connected? Warm? I don't know. Or perhaps there was some wry commentary flying over my head! That is often the case! But I don't think so. The feeling of that moment was sincere, both on my part and (so I felt) Mr. Shawn's. My recent absorption in facts and tales about Jesse James has a similarly calming effect somehow. McNeil called and we were discussing Chapter 2 of the book Jesse James, Jr. wrote about his father. Here is one of the passages we discussed: "Nearly three years after the murder, when I was nine years old, I was in Kansas City with my grandmother. We were walking up Main street. I had had hold of my grandmother's hand. Suddenly I saw and recognized Charlie Ford coming down the street toward us. I knew him the instant I saw him, and I was very much excited. I said to my grandmother: 'Here comes the man who killed my father.'" Now, that is not a soothing subject, but it IS soothing to think of how cleanly things can be expressed, even emotional things. In conclusion, I should admit that though I once paid shameful lip service to Charlton Heston's nemesis Michael Moore, I MUCH prefer the films (though not the politics) of Mr. Heston - to the same degree (as reported previously on the "blog") that I prefer the work of Phyllis Diller to the work of Ayn Rand. So when I said I "liked" Mr. Moore, I am not sure the statement was perfectly accurate. Intellectual agreement is no match for the satisfying feeling in my heart when Charlton Heston blows a hole through a killer zombie!
Did you know that Frank James, brother to and partner in crime with Jesse, lived into his 70s, at which point he was giving tours of the old family farm for two bits a pop? Theresa thinks that that part of his life - his old age - would make a good movie. Consider this "post" a "de facto" copyright! In his younger days, when he gave himself up, he remarked to those present, "I have been hunted for twenty-one years, have literally lived in the saddle, have never known a day of perfect peace. It was one long, anxious, inexorable, eternal vigil." People had such nice ways of putting things back then! Even outlaws! Especially outlaws! All my scholarly research on this matter was done through the auspices of "wikipedia," so you know it must be true.
KUNG FU PANDA is poised to do big "box office" this weekend, as we hear from one of the directors of that film, Mark Osborne himself (pictured). "We couldn't have done it without your mention," he jokes. Spurred by the recent "post" in which I mentioned both KUNG FU PANDA and Jerry Lewis, Mark goes on: "Did I ever tell you that the example I used to explain the tone of Kung Fu Panda to the crew was 'What if Akira Kurosawa shot a Jerry Lewis movie?' No doubt inspired by your love of Jerry!" This is very nice of Mark to say, given our struggles over Mr. Lewis in the past, each coming to peace with Jerry in his own way. It also bolsters my argument, often put forth on the "blog," that Jerry is the source of everything we hold dear as human people, despite his somewhat bleak worldview. And though Kurosawa is Japanese and the Kung Fu Panda is Chinese, I did think of Kurosawa - thereby showcasing my perceptiveness! - when I read in Darghis's KUNG FU PANDA review about "a volley of arrows that falls down like red rain and a delicate swirl of pink petals" ... particularly of Kurosawa's films DREAMS and RAN. (Believe it or not, I just deleted a long paragraph in which I compared Toshiro Mifune's character in SEVEN SAMURAI to both Bob Hope [his braggart's bluster] and Jerry Lewis [physical comedy veering into rage]. And I made a good case, too!)
Saturday, June 07, 2008
It is time for our daily quotation from WAKE UP, SIR!, a novel by Jonathan Ames. Today's quotation from WAKE UP, SIR! occurs when the narrator reveals how he learned that desire equals pain from the "back of a ginger tea box. Most of what I know of Buddhism," (he goes on) "comes from tea boxes." Our segment does not bear its usual title ("Your Daily 'Wake Up' Call") because I have decided to tell you that I will be "teaching" Mr. Ames's book in the fall. That's right, I have become an actual college professor! I know! I am as stunned as you. But it has happened. In addition to WAKE UP, SIR!, we will study THE DUD AVOCADO by Elaine Dundy, GOD'S COUNTRY by Percival Everett, MASTERS OF ATLANTIS by Charles Portis, THE TEACHINGS OF DON B. by Donald Barthelme, PASTORALIA by George Saunders, and THE THIRD POLICEMAN by Flann O'Brien. Then there are the excerpts: from ROUGHING IT and THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (both by Mark Twain), Shelly Fisher Fishkin's WAS HUCK BLACK?, THE CODE OF THE WOOSTERS by P.G. Wodehouse, THE RETURN OF SIMPLE by Langston Hughes, and some short pieces by S.J. Perelman and Woody Allen. Have I said too much? Am I tipping my hand? Is it frowned upon? Am I giving away the milk for free? I don't know! I'm new at this. But I intend to do my best. Perhaps some of you at home would like to read those novels and pretend you are in the class! They are good novels or I wouldn't have picked them.