Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Yesterday's Polaroid article spurred the "blog's" Polaroidologist "El" to send this "link" to a "web" site about the work of Jamie Livingston, who took one Polaroid a day for nearly two decades of his life. (Here is another interesting way to view some of the pictures.) "El" tells us that the filmmaker Tarkovsky (one of "Blog" Buddy Lynn Shelton's "faves") carried a Polaroid camera wherever he went. Writes "El," "I actually find the SX-70 to be the most convenient camera ever, and each little shot of Time-Zero contains a concentrated pack of poetry to be released when it goes through the rollers." "El" is a member of "Save Polaroid." "El" calls them "Polas." She doesn't like it when people call them "'roids." A schism in the Polaroid community? (Pictured, a Polaroid by Tarkovsky of his mother. Find his Polaroid work in a book called INSTANT LIGHT.)
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Today's New York Times contains subjects of interest to the "blog": Polaroids and Jerry Lewis. "Click" here for the Polaroid article. As for Jerry, his "frenzied convulsions" receive passing mention in an article about Jim Carrey, the thesis statement of which seems to be that while the "antics" of Chaplin and Keaton and Jerry are, well, OKAY, Carrey is a "master of the metaphysical" (!). I am not turning up my nose at the reference or the article; the Times has been uncharacteristically stingy with its Jerry references lately. And toward the end of the piece, Carrey is quoted as telling Larry King, "Movies are made by people in pain for people in pain." When I read that, I thought, "Wow! Maybe he IS something like Jerry Lewis." Because it's exactly the kind of weird, world-weary theory Jerry would espouse. As for the unicorn - if you're wondering - it was the very distant runner-up for yesterday's edition of the Holiday Unicorn Series. I'm not crazy about it, but as you know I hate to see a unicorn go to waste.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
How could I forget the Holiday Unicorn Series at this important time of year? It's my own fault that just to catch up I am forced to employ a single unicorn in the service of two great holidays. So here is your Hanukkah-Christmas Unicorn, located using our famous secret formula. I found it attached to this fascinating "web" entry ("click" here).
The NBIL was here. He had a little reference book my sister had given him, a very little reference book yet packed with knowledge. There were many weights and measures, varieties of police code, knots of the sailors of the world, and as his middle name is Henry, the NBIL was happy to find recorded therein a unit of electricity (?) called a henry. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what a henry is. It seems to be almost the same thing as a volt (maybe?) but one thing is sure: there are one thousand millihenrys in a henry. Nor could I begrudge the NBIL his henrys as the night before I had discovered my own namesake - something called the jackfruit - in a reference book of my own, THE OXFORD COMPANION TO FOOD. Now, your jackfruit grows on a tree like an apple, only rather than weighing whatever an apple weighs, a single jackfruit weighs 90 pounds and is covered in spikes most dreadful to behold.
From the desk of Kelly Hogan comes this evidence of Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) playing William Faulkner's piano, as first revealed in my Oxford American article on Neko Case. Hey, if I ran Howe Gelb's career, I'd get him to make some solo albums with puns for titles, like "Howe in the World" and "Howe's Tricks." Why, under my guidance, he'd be a modern-day Greg Kihn ("Kihnspiracy," "Citizen Kihn").
Friday, December 26, 2008
I have eaten a sandwich worthy of your reflection. Here are the conditions which allowed it to come into being: 1) We had some leftover Christmas ham. 2) Theresa arrived at the James Food Center in Oxford, Mississippi, this morning just as they were completing a fresh batch of pimento cheese. So what I did was put some ham and pimento cheese between two pieces of bread, forming a sandwich. Then I "grilled" said sandwich in a pan with some butter. Oh, and 3) My parents had come from the east, bearing the special pickles I like. Thus was the sandwich completed - yes, the greatest sandwich ever known to man.
According to famous newspapers the L.A. Times and the New York Times, "Blog" Buddies are making headlines coast to coast - or "bloast" to "bloast," as we call it in our special language of "blogging." Look! Here's "Blog" Buddy Verdell, in a recent photograph from the L.A. Times. Meanwhile, the unassuming young fellow with the notepad at the party turned out to be from the New York Times, just as he said. I was wrong to doubt him! Here's the article he turned in to the "Home & Garden" section.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Here it is! "Click" here for last year's full and satisfying explanation of this culmination of your "blog" advent calendar fun. Our story so far: 1) Aboriginal art made, I think, from a hollow log. 2) Home page of the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. 3) A fellow playing "High Hopes" on his organ. 4) A performance of the song "Millionaire" by the Mekons. 5) Unicorns in space. 6) Your handy catalog of folk dance instructions. 7) A guy practicing his Saint Saens. 8) Every cover ever of the comic book HERBIE. 9) More Saint Saens for some reason, this time on theremin. 10) The old TV show LAND OF THE GIANTS - in bubble gum card form, that is! 11) Actual footage of Annie Oakley from the Edison studio. 12) "Cute cat pictures make the world a warm and fuzzy place." 13) "A camel made out of peanut butter" 14) An elaborate handout from the 13th annual Bigfoot conference. 15) A performance by Sinatra of a song by the Beatles. 16) I think this is a physics paper. 17) Squirrel holding pear. 18) A clip from the 1959 film SANTA CLAUS. 19) Elis Regina! 20) Enjoy this nice clip please of Jerry Lewis in CINDERFELLA. 21) The long poem "Julian and Maddalo by P.B. Shelley. 22) Some nice kids in the middle of singing "Sleigh Ride." 23) Robot instrumental. 24) Accordion Rossini. Now, before we commence with your final surprise of this year's calendar, may I please ask you to note that all of the preceding material is completely new to the "blog"? That's because we like to go the extra step for your pleasure. I was tempted to include a couple of things you have certainly forgotten, such as Bob Denver singing "Ho, Daddy!" as originally presented here by McNeil, or these foolproof plans for mastering time travel, first "linked" to via this "post." But I resisted! And as we bid you a fond goodbye from this year's "blog" advent calendar, we leave you with this large and final surprise.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
We are pleased that our 2,000th "post" happened to feature the singing of Sally Timms. But we are upset that we have "posted" 2,000 "posts." Isn't there something we're supposed to be doing? We can't remember. On the happy side, the dubious occasion reminded us of this illustration we found on the "internet." At around the time of our 900th "post," we pretended it showed the staff of the "blog" and this idea still gladdens us in our time of woe and funk. Furthermore, having "posted" 2,002 times, we now understand how to supply the photograph for your delight without "stealing bandwidth," so we guess we've learned something after all, yes, something barely useful and something we still don't understand - something which rouses in us no desire to understand. And now the pendulum swings back the other way. We're going to lie down in the dark.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Director Sally Timms reports another rousing success with the third annual Hideout Christmas Panto. She cites "a pathetically erupting volcano (which was perfect)" and promises photographs to come, but she promised that last year as well. And now for your pleasure here's our Sally singing a lovely song:
It has occurred to me that Elvis Costello would sound great singing the Hayley Mills number "Let's Get Together" from THE PARENT TRAP. It even has that descending "Oh-oh-oh-oh" figure he often incorporates into his vocal stylings. I'm going to get John Currence to pull some strings on this one. Speaking of Currence, did you know he's "blogging" now? It's true!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Don't forget, people of Chicago! Tonight is your very last chance to see MUTINY ON THE BEAGLE, this year's Christmas panto (with which I helped a little) at your favorite bar the Hideout. Pictured here is Jon Langford as the "panto dame" (it's a tradition! I promise!) with his costar (wait for it!) Moby Duck. And two little Langfords, unless I am mistaken. Remember, the 7 o'clock show is relatively safe for the young ones. The ten o'clock show is another matter entirely, I do believe.
Welcome once again to our regular feature "Today's Weather," where we help you cope with today's weather. If you're thinking about putting on those suede boots you bought for the faculty Christmas party last weekend but couldn't wear because it was too damp, well, think again! It's still damp. No suede boots today. Sorry! You probably won't be able to wear your suede boots all winter.
Hey, remember *******, my novel I promised never to bother you about by name again? Well, I am happy to say that the adding machine at the San Francisco Chronicle is on the fritz - or maybe it was sabotaged! - and somehow ******* was named one of the 50 best fiction and poetry books of 2008. Wow! And because I had the foresight to begin the title with the letter "A," it appears at the very top of the list. My secret plan is working! All this fake self-deprecation is part of it, too. Enjoy!
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Dig if you will these few lines of poetic expression: "Strawberry milkshake,/ Put in the cream,/ Put in your ashtray,/ Turn out the light,/ Cos we're having a milkshake - " Frank O'Hara, you guess? Or no. Maybe Ashbery? Wrong again! It's Jerry Lewis, baby. I finally got hold of ENFANT TERRIBLE!, that academic compendium on Jerry. One reason I like it is because it's the only scholarly work I can think of offhand with an exclamation point rather than a colon in the title. I also like the article by Frank Krutnik, in which we find the fragment above. It's a ditty Jerry improvised on the COLGATE COMEDY HOUR, in a role as a soda jerk. I've written in the past about how hard it is to duplicate the pertinent aspects of Jerry's voice on the page. Turning it into poetry doesn't do it, quite, but there is something revelatory about Krutnik's technique. I'm sorry to say it's the only passage he treats in such a way. (He lays it out nicely on the page like a real poem, and it's a real pleasure to read. It's my own fault I never figured out how to do line breaks on the "blog.") I want to see more, Krutnik! Maybe it's time for a new volume: FOUND POEMS BY JERRY. Let's get some interns working on it.
Well, today I did it. I cut the Richie Rich soliloquy by more than HALF! And I put it in a different chapter, in the mouth of a different character, one for whom it makes "sense." I hope everybody's happy now! And by "everybody" I mean my heartless editor. Although I'm pleased that part of my detective novel will now make sense. I've never tried that before and I think it will be a refreshing change of pace. Oh, Richie Rich! The shame of the nation! How I blanch at your profligate ways.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Allow me to lay on you just a few of Jerry's liner notes for his all-singing album MORE JERRY LEWIS: "There are billions of albums sold each year, and not because of the contents but because of the sexy pictures on the cover. For example, last week I bought an album because the cover was a picture of a beautiful girl in a negligee draped across a leopard skin couch. And what do you think the record in this album was? Harry Truman's acceptance speech. I don't know from nothing. I paid three bucks for the album - I danced to it anyway." Ha! Jerry!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
To find out about a whistling orangutan, "click" here. The NBIL (we've decided we can call him the NBIL at least until March), knowing of my affection for monkeys and apes and so on, sent me footage of the orangutan who has taught herself to whistle, and I wanted to make it today's advent calendar entry... but she's behind bars, which makes it too depressing, all the more when it sneaks up on you in that exciting patented advent calendar way. Although I'm sure she's well taken care of, especially now that she has taught herself to whistle! Right? Right? There's always something going on behind the scenes here at Advent Calendar Headquarters. It's called quality control. Just yesterday, I had to switch out my advent calendar "link" (this picture of a kitten pawing at a galaxy or something) for technical reasons that made it disappear, robbing you of your holiday fun. I present it here today in non-advent calendar format as a little bonus for your enjoyment and edification, via edp.org.
Just opened a package from Barry B. It contained, I am thrilled to say, a long playing vinyl recording on the Decca label entitled MORE JERRY LEWIS. This is the serious side of Jerry! He sings the work of Porter and Gershwin and other such composers of popular American standards. The package contained several loose bubble gum cards as well, including one of Elvis in THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS, wearing that very same suit of estimable snazziness on which we have remarked before. Yes, folks, if this is any indication, it's shaping up to be the best Christmas ever!
Ha ha ha! Look at these cats eating ice cream! Silly kitties! Hey, that reminds me. Some smart kids around here are putting together one of those "literary magazines" you've heard so much about. They're calling it "Kitty Snacks." These guys, unless I am mistaken, are all in Dent May's band and at least one of them works at Square Books and they just couldn't be more enterprising or nicer young men. They're putting a lot of time and energy into the magazine to make it special and just right. Well, they've asked McNeil and me to be in the first issue but despite that I think it's going to be a great magazine. So keep your eyes peeled for "Kitty Snacks." And tell 'em "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot sent you.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Welcome once again to our beloved yet neglected regular feature "Today's Weather." Let's take a look at what's happening in today's weather. Kelly Hogan says there's a six-foot icicle hanging off her eaves. When pressed, she says, "Five feet, for sure." Hogan lives in Wisconsin.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Looks like everyone is reading Charles Willeford these days. And by everyone I mean McNeil and me. Last night I told McNeil I'm reading PICK-UP, a yellowed, pocket-sized, typo-riddled Black Lizard reprint I picked up years ago in the used mystery section at A Cappella. McNeil (inspired by the "blog," it turns out) is reading THE MACHINE IN WARD 11, a Willeford story collection, which he obtained by his preferred method of the inter-library loan. So, in PICK-UP, the narrator and the eponymous "pick-up" go to a nightclub called the Dolphin. There's a trio playing. "The trio," says the narrator, "consisted of chimes, theremin, and electric guitar." Crazy! I tried to imagine it. It's even stranger than the nightclub with the harp and bongo duet in TEACHER'S PET. Now I want to go to a nightclub! Somewhere with a bassoon, a triangle and a wind machine.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I just watched a really good, compact western called SILVER LODE. I picked it up because of an interesting passing reference in Chris Fujiwara's book JACQUES TOURNEUR: THE CINEMA OF NIGHTFALL (though it was directed by Allan Dwan, not Tourneur). After watching the film, I also seemed to recall Martin Scorsese, in a documentary, mentioning the use of bunting in SILVER LODE. Yes, that bunting is ironically deployed, no doubt about it. SILVER LODE clocks in at 80 minutes, I believe, which as you know is right in the ideal running-time range as defined by Barry B. One of the nicest surprises was discovering that Lizabeth Scott is in it. Ms. Scott was a staple of the "blog" for a long time. Lately we have neglected her. Why, we used to "post" a new picture of her every week. Of course, this was back in the olden days, when I unknowingly "stole bandwidth" to "post" pictures because I didn't even know what that meant (and still don't, by the way, but at least I know how to "post" pictures properly now). Here is a picture of Ms. Scott presented in the correct and aboveboard manner. Unfortunately, she does not play what I consider the "Lizabeth Scott role" in SILVER LODE. She plays the much tamer character I like to call the weeping bride. Someone ELSE gets to play the part that Ms. Scott would usually play: Dolly the "saloon girl" (as I suppose would be the production-code appropriate euphemism), who smokes cigarettes and makes with the wisecracks. Dolly has lines that really belong in the mouth of Lizabeth Scott as much as that cigarette, such as when the hero says, "I'm not going anywhere" and Dolly replies, "If you don't, you'll be a real dead cowboy." A little later, Dolly gets the classic, "So long, sucker," but it is a quiet and rueful line reading. The only trouble is that it's not Lizabeth Scott saying it. Nothing against the woman who did play Dolly the saloon girl. She did a fine job. A small complaint! Also, the DVD was not formatted to the correct screen aspect ratio, or whatever you call it. That's life! Sometimes you can't have everything. Sometimes you can only have two-thirds of everything. Try to enjoy it and stop being such a crybaby.
"Click" here for today's random secret surprise from the second annual "Blog" Advent Calendar. See you tomorrow!
How did I spend my weekend, you ask? Oh, I don't know. Just hanging out with Laura Lippman and David Simon, that's all! I do not believe it would be too unseemly or gossipy to report that I dined with them at City Grocery and Taylor Grocery (not to be confused with City Grocery) and the Ajax Diner, at the latter of which I had the privilege of hearing a disagreement between them over the meaning of a specific line of dialogue from THE WIRE. And in my head, I was like, "Wow! I'm having the privilege of hearing a disagreement between Laura Lippman and David Simon over the meaning of a specific line of dialogue on THE WIRE! I have never been happier and also I am freaking out!" But on the outside, I was all, "Hmm. Interesting point." But I didn't say it with words! I used the method of concerned and thoughtful nodding. (I will also mention that at the City Grocery bar, David Simon wrote down something John Currence said on a napkin!) We went to Rowan Oak as well, where we were allowed to manhandle Faulkner's personal possessions with obscene abandon. For example, I found a copy of the Italian literary magazine BOTTEGHE OSCURE, which at one time was edited by my friend Eugene Walter. I opened it up and sure enough there was Eugene's name on the masthead. I showed it to Tom Franklin (who also knew Eugene, and who was hosting Lippman and Simon for the weekend) and we stood there and marveled for a minute and thought about deep stuff. I can't speak for Tom but he was probably thinking something like, "Isn't life interesting!" (though he is not inclined to use exclamation points). Hey, do you know someone else with whom I went to Ajax and Rowan Oak? Neko Case, that's who! Remember, she took a picture of me sitting at Faulkner's typewriter? Read all about that, and more, in the brand new Oxford American 10th Anniversary Music Issue, which should be at your local newsstand right now. I could not possibly list all the fine writers and musicians paired up in this extraordinary package of wholesome goodness, which has a great cover photo of Jerry Lee Lewis (not to be confused with Jerry Lewis) looking as if he's on the set of the final episode of TWIN PEAKS. So what I will do is just list any musician or writer in the issue who has been mentioned on the "blog" before. There are lots of musicians and writers in there that I SHOULD HAVE mentioned here before, but to list them now would be cheating, and anyway I do not want to spoil the fun of discovery. But here, let me whet your appetite for the brand new Oxford American 10th Anniversary Music Issue by tossing out these names: Roy Blount Jr. -- William Gay -- Elvis Presley -- Greil Marcus --Peter Guralnick -- Kevin Brockmeier (wait until you read his piece!) -- Michael Martone. Well, I don't know what to say. That's not too many, and nearly all writers. May I cheat and mention just three perennial "blog" "faves" that have never been mentioned here before? Mose Allison, Little Walter, and Love....With Arthur Lee. And there are so, so many more. So many you won't believe it! Many you and I will hear for the very first time and with whom we shall fall in love. And I believe I forgot to mention that a double CD comes with the magazine so you can hear all the music you've been reading about. Down below, Jerry Lee. Up above, Love. (But not the same Love. It's complicated! Read the magazine.)
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
Welcome once again to our folksiest regular feature. Today, McNeil writes: "I've been thinking - every time I look at my hand! - that the human hand should really have more fingers ... probably a couple more after the pinky." Once again, we're going to look for a picture of a folksy and thoughtful type of fellow to represent McNeil.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
You are familiar no doubt with my boundless affection for the sidebar of one Maud Newton. Well, I'm on there today, so that's exciting! Right now I'm fourth from the top, but new material accumulates at a goodly clip (which is just one of the great things about Maud Newton's sidebar), so I may be gone tomorrow. Or sooner! Speaking of Ms. Newton, she placed me into some sort of recipe chain letter or pyramid scheme in which one emails a recipe to another person - and the letter itself to 20 friends - and somehow begins to receive many, many delicious recipes from strangers all over the world, in theory. But there's a bug in the system! Ms. Newton put both Laura Lippman and myself on her list, and Laura and I put each other on each list of our own, producing a recipe vortex or wormhole or something and if my math is correct, I am now required to send the original email to an infinite number of people.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Hi! I just got back from a place where John Currence was plying some of us with delicious Popeye's brand fried chicken. I can say no more! The point is I almost forgot that it is time for that blessed brainchild of Dr. "M.," the second annual "Blog" Advent Calendar. You may "click" here if you need a refresher course on what the "Blog" Advent Calendar is and how it works. Or you may simply "click" here to "open" the first "door" of this holiday season.
I ran across a good one today in the periodicals room: THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL HYPNOSIS. I tried to read an article called "Effects of Vestibular and Neck Proprioceptive Stimulation on Posture as a Function of Hypnotizability." Here's what I gathered, or sort of gathered, or may not have gathered: 1) People who can be hypnotized easily are called "highs;" people who cannot be hypnotized with such ease are called "lows." 2) It is easier to hypnotize a subject who is standing up than one who is sitting down, or it may be the other way around. The other way around seems to make more sense. Anyway, I read that paragraph five times and I can't tell you. 3) "Highs" allow their bodies to sway more freely while under hypnosis. 4) "Highs" might adapt to microgravity more easily, making them better candidates than "lows" for the astronautical profession. OKAY! There was also a great appendix at the back of the magazine, laying out a "Hypnotic Induction" translated from the French, which I now quote in part (the ellipses are original to the text): "The floating hand ... on its own ... perfectly still ... With your permission, imagine that I am covering it with a glove ... a glove that anesthetizes and that I pull on ... over the fingers ... the palm of the hand ... cool and comfortable ..." I woke up three hours later, having missed my class. Ha ha! Not really! But wouldn't that have been something? Wheeeeeee! What fun we're having now.
Phil Oppenheim, best known as president of the "Stang Spotters Club" Eastern Chapter, has issued a communique entitled STANG ALERT. "Drop what you're doing!" Phil advises, and goes on to strongly encourage all Stang devotees to examine a brand new WFMU "post" about Arnold Stang. In the past, we have celebrated WFMU's "blog" as your best bet for Stangformation. What attracted Phil most was the following Arnold Stang & the Sunshine Kids novelty record, featured on the WFMU "post":