Monday, November 30, 2009

You Wouldn't Understand


I wish I could tell you about the movie I COME IN PEACE but it would just sound like I was making fun of it. You wouldn't understand! Like, Brian Benben is the smart alecky FBI agent who is teamed up with down-to-earth cop Dolph Lundgren. And then Brian Benben goes over to Dolph Lundgren's apartment and Dolph Lundgren is like, "Would you like some wine?" And Brian Benben is totally blown away by Dolph Lundgren's sophistication, which he (Brian Benben) has misjudged. Okay, that's just a taste. I will think for a while and decide if you deserve some more. No random picture will do. Here is a still from I COME IN PEACE.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tantalizing Monograph Reference


As you know, I alert you whenever the New York Times mentions Jerry Lewis. Consider yourself alerted. Today's Jerry reference comes to us courtesy of the reliable Dave Kehr, and includes a tantalizing comment about "Chris Fujiwara’s excellent monograph on Mr. Lewis, which comes out this week from the University of Illinois Press." (I feel I should explain today's randomly selected picture, which is, of course, Mr. Ward pretending to enjoy the Foster Brooks robot at the MGM Grand, before that robot was literally thrown out with the trash.)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sizzling Celebrity Gossip!


Ed Helms enjoys flying those remote control model airplanes! At least that's what I understood him to say as I creepily eavesdropped on him last night. I was sitting at the bar of the Miller Union restaurant in Atlanta, and Mr. Helms (of the TV program THE OFFICE) was standing behind me. You can get this kind of sizzling celebrity gossip only right here at the "blog"! You know what the best kind of celebrity gossip is? Sizzling.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Time For It

You know very well it's time for another (#36) in our infinite though strictly regulated series of amateur Beach Boys cover songs from the "internet":

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Hampshire's Largest Hearth Retailer

I was up at four in the morning and couldn't go back to sleep. Do you know who pays for 30 seconds of local airtime at four in the morning to run their commercial during an episode of CHEERS? Chimney sweeps! There were shots of the interiors of clean chimneys, and a voiceover guy telling you why it is important to keep your chimney clean (a dirty chimney can start a fire, maybe? I believe that was one of the selling points). The name of the company is "Ash Ridders" and their motto is "We Will Get Rid of Your Ash." I couldn't find a "web" site for them, although their address and contact information can be found in a helpfully alphabetized nationwide list on the site of "Fireplace Village," which bills itself as "New Hampshire's Largest Hearth Retailer." Chimneys and chimney-related products and services on the "internet"! It's as if I have entered another world, like when those kids went up on the roof with Dick Van Dyke in MARY POPPINS, except instead of doing that I am wasting time on the "internet." For example, did you know that New Hampshire's Largest Hearth Retailer also has a "blog"? As long as we are on the subject, check out this "hot" entry (ha ha! Because fires are hot!) about how to choose a chimney sweep. Somehow I believe I have glossed over my favorite part of the experience, which is that the admirably focused motto of "Ash Ridders" is "We Will Get Rid of Your Ash."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Form of a Bench


Phil wants my computer to blow up, so he snapped this picture he knew I would have to add to its groaning burden: my favorite superhero, Plastic Man, in the form of a bench in Burbank, because you know, Plastic Man could take any shape he wanted, okay? Like a bench. I mean, that could really be him!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Frasier, Briefly


I can't believe it's already time for another edition of "Frasier, Briefly"! And it wouldn't be, except I just saw a commercial for the local news from Memphis, and you know, they have this guy who reports on all the restaurants with bad health ratings, that's his thing, and in the commercial tonight he promised to tell us about "food spoiling in Frasier." What I suppose this means is that there is a place called Frasier somewhere near Memphis (I can't look it up; I'm busy), but it would also be a hilarious premise for a Frasier episode if they were still making Frasier episodes: Frasier eats some spoiling food and then there is "food spoiling in Frasier."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Funny Because I'm Ignorant


One of the classes I teach is held in the chemistry building. The flyers they stick on the bulletin board over there are kind of different. Like, today I saw one that said, "Using Collision-Induced-Dissociation Mass Spectrometry to Predict Solution-Phase Relative Affinities of Unidentate Ligands for a 19F-Labeled Pd(II) Pincer Cation - Refreshments served." Ha ha ha! It's funny because I'm ignorant. But then I swear I was in the history building and saw this flyer: "A Bleeding Llama at the Mouth of the Mine: Becoming a Historian - Free Pizza" and I was like, hey, that flyer would seem pretty crazy if you were from the chemistry department... because it IS crazy. Still, nothing says free pizza like a bleeding llama. It sure is an interesting world we live in and all! Goodbye.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Frasier, Briefly

Welcome once again to our somewhat popular (with me and Kelly Hogan) feature "Frasier, Briefly." You know of course how we have been "posting" random old pictures on the "blog" because my computer already has so many pictures on it that it is going to explode and I can't add anymore. I have added one more. It came from Kelly Hogan, so of course it involves Frasier. Today Hogan was backstage at 30 ROCK and she is playing on the Jimmy Fallon television program tonight, yet she still found time to send me a scary picture of some dude's tattoo showing the head (and logo!) of Frasier. That's loyalty! So the least I can do is add the picture to the lineup. But THAT'S IT! No more pictures. And anyhow no picture will ever be better. There is nowhere for the "blog" to go from here.

Possum Postscript/Pistachio Party


The NBIL writes in to clear up recent shocking possum statements: "I should have clarified in my story yesterday that I didn't willingly allow my mother to carry the dead possum out to the trash. I was more than willing to do it myself, only she was not willing to do let me do it. Probably because I wanted to carry it out by the tail rather than leaving it on the filter." I'm short on time, so what else? Well, I went to a party last night where they had a bowl of pistachios that were ALREADY SHELLED! Pre-shelled pistachios! Can you wrap your mind around THAT? I ate some standing next to a judge, who was also eating some. "Now we can find out what it's like to put 45 of these in our mouths at one time," the judge remarked.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Never Too Late For Possum Week


"Am I too late for possum week?" queries the NBIL, to which my immediate reply is, "Never!" So sit back and enjoy this possum "tale" (ha ha ha ha ha ha!) from the childhood of the NBIL: "When I was about nine years old a possum even decided to investigate the steam vent of our dryer. The beast crawled through the pipe leading to the dryer, found a nice warm spot on the lint filter, curled up and promptly died. As my mother carried the poor dead possum out to the trash on the lint filter (which on this older model dryer was about the size of half a screen door and sat directly underneath the drum), I brought up the idea that it might just be playing possum. It wasn't, but my mother still didn't appreciate me bringing up the possibility." NBIL! I can't believe you made your mother carry that dead possum. But that's a debate for another time. Now, one of the reasons that I like this story is that I easily cut-and-pasted it. I am busy for the foreseeable future, and this "blog" will shut down without the cuttable-and-pastable contributions of readers like you. Have something I can cut-and-paste? Why not send it to "Cut-And-Paste" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655? If I am not too busy I might cut-and-paste it and think of how happy you will be.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crab Friends

Did you know Sartre had a couple of little imaginary crab friends that followed him around? I read it in the paper today. Look, I'm busy.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Am Not Crazy, Arguably


From Thomas Merton's autobiography THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN: "I sat for hours, with the big quarto volumes of the Jesuit Father Wieger's French translations of hundreds of strange Oriental texts. I have forgotten the titles, even the authors, and I never understood a word of what they said in the first place. I had the habit of reading fast, without stopping... The only practical thing I got out of it was a system for going to sleep... You lay flat in a bed, without a pillow... and you said to yourself: 'Now I have no feet, now I have no feet... no feet... no legs... no knees.' ... The only section with which it almost never worked was my head." So, see? I am not crazy and was pretty close when I mentioned a possible inspiration for the technique used in the new Nabokov release, to which no reviewer has alluded, I think. On the other hand, I may be crazy because I have spent all day looking up this stuff. Note: obviously, the passage cited above refers to Merton as a young man, before he became an expert on certain aspects of Asian philosophy.

Not Even a Footnote


I have read three or four reviews of the newly released posthumous incomplete novel of Nabokov, and I wanted to provide a little footnote here, something none of the reviewers have mentioned as far as I can tell. Maybe it is mentioned in the book, which I have not read: the technique of mental self-annihilation practiced by the protagonist (making himself disappear from the toes up) is an old one. I want to say it is Tibetan. I want to say I read about it in either Alexandra David-Neel or Thomas Merton, but I can't find the passage, which is why this turns out not to be a footnote, even. I found a form of meditation in David-Neel's MAGIC AND MYSTERY IN TIBET (1929) in which "A deity is imagined; it is first contemplated alone, then from its body spring out other forms sometimes like its own, sometimes different. There are often four of them, but in some meditations they become hundreds or even innumerable. When all these personages have appeared quite clearly around the central figure, they are one after another reabsorbed in it. Now the original deity remains again alone and gradually begins to disappear. The feet vanish first and then slowly the whole body and finally the head. Only a dot remains. This may be dark, coloured, or purely luminous." But that's not what I'm talking about. Nor am I talking about the terrifying "red meal" described in the same book, where a bunch of weird creatures eat the body of the meditator. That's part of a ritual called "chod." (There's supposed to be an umlaut in chod, which you will have to supply with your imagination.) When Ms. David-Neel practiced chod, she saw "a transparent giant, whose eyes were two stars." That's not what I'm talking about, but neat-o. Well, I can't find confirmation of exactly what I'm talking about, but I know exactly what I'm talking it about, and I think it's exactly what Nabokov was talking about. This is not helpful! But sometimes things aren't helpful. And that's okay! Read your Chuang Tzu if you don't believe me!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Possum Week

Looks like it's possum week here at the old "blog." Our latest possum story comes from Informant J2, who writes, "One time while I was visiting my parents' house, a possum somehow climbed into a tall, upright trashcan on the porch. We have no idea how it accomplished the feat, because the trashcan was empty - nothing to anchor the flimsy plastic can to the ground as the possum climbed. Furthermore, there were no surrounding objects from which the possum could have jumped into the trashcan. It remains a mystery. We fed it bread crusts and I took a picture of it." Dear reader, here is that picture, courtesy of Informant J2:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Welcome to Possum Kingdom


All this talk about possums has led the person who informed me that the CIA had a hand in editing a Jerry Lewis movie (true story!) to reveal that she lives near a town called Possum Kingdom. "Pricey real estate and pronounced with a straight face," says she. I am not being mysterious about my informant's identity! If I don't have a clear idea that someone wants her name mentioned in such a disreputable place as this "blog," I tend to err on the side of caution. Speaking of "blog" rules, it is time get back to the random, recycled illustrations that put the "blog" at the forefront of the "blog" conservation movement. Maybe next time. Right now, here is the "web" site of the Possum Kingdom Chamber of Commerce and here is a picture from some kind of parade they had in Possum Kingdom.

Oklahoma Coyote Report


"I was walking out to our compost pile the other day and caught a coyote staring at my kitty through a window. Can coyotes break through glass?" asks "Blog" Buddy Sarah Marine, inspired by our recent possum encounter. As you may recall, Sarah Marine is a recent transplant to Oklahoma, and coyotes are a new thing for her. We don't have them here - do we? - so I can't help her. She says she is going to read a book called COYOTE AT THE KITCHEN DOOR: LIVING WITH WILDLIFE IN SUBURBIA by Stephen DeStefano. Perhaps it will answer her question about coyotes and glass. There is an old story here in Oxford about a deer who went through the window of a beauty parlor. While Sarah Marine still has coyote questions, she has also formed at least one coyote conclusion: "They can chase the neighbor's bichon past my house at 7am while I'm drinking coffee on the porch. I know they can do that," she writes. The "blog" hopes the bichon is okay! The "blog" admits it had to look up "bichon." Here is a picture of what a bichon is, the "blog" thinks. Oh, dear. Yes, we really hope it's okay.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Am Not a Naturalist


After the reading last night, I went over to City Grocery Bar to meet up with John Currence and Joe York. Several other people who were at the reading ended up there as well, including Bill Boyle (whom you may remember as the man who once attended a lecture about frogs) and his wife (whose name I won't give because I don't have permission) who works for the Audubon Society, which may explain the lecture about frogs. And SHE told me that crows understand the meaning and purpose of traffic lights! More evidence that we need to be worried about what the crows are planning. She also told me that chimney swifts - even ones who are not related - will rush into a burning tree to save baby chimney swifts. The nature stories were just beginning! And some of them would happen to me in person, yes, that very night. It was just a little after eight when I got a phone call at the bar from Theresa. She advised me to use the front door when I got home because there was a possum on the back porch and it wouldn't leave. It had been there for an hour, she said. She had intervened in a developing altercation between the possum and a neighborhood cat (shades of the cat who entered the groundhog's lair!), which had consisted, before Theresa stepped in to save the day, of some mild hissing and wary curiosity about one another - the curiosity being mostly on the part of the cat, verifying the old legend. I got home at about 11 (time flies!) and assumed that the coast was clear by then, so I came around the back as usual. There was the possum, on the card table on the back porch, lying on a tote bag filled with tubes of acrylic paint, looking a little nonplussed but mainly indifferent and full of assumptions. Was it "playing possum" (pretending to be dead) as possums are reputed to do? It wasn't moving much, that's all I can tell you. I tried reasoning with it ("I already tried that," Theresa explained). I tried scaring it away with noisemaking that annoyed Theresa more than the possum. I shook the table (long distance, via broom handle). I threw a shoe at it (as Theresa had done earlier in the evening). Maybe it WAS playing possum. I walked off the porch and confronted it from the other side of the screen, which it was facing, by rattling a large bush. Oh, the possum hated that! Yes, my rattling of the bush finally got a rise out of it and caused another round of mild hissing. And the possum hissed too. Ha ha! No, really it was just the possum hissing. We stared at each other a long time through the screen and the bush and I started to like the possum. I learned some things about possums. 1) They are stubborn and patient. 2) When they yawn, their mouths open REALLY WIDE, wider even than you might expect. 3) Their paws are freaky. 4) They have (this one did, anyway; I am not a naturalist!) really long fangs that show even when their mouths are closed. I didn't expect that, based on my lifelong reading of Walt Kelly's POGO (pictured), of which comic strip Caroline Young has given me a number of vintage promotional figurines. Finally we just watched the possum through the window on the back door. It didn't do much, though at one point it sniffed the air vigorously. "It senses something," I observed wisely. And then A RACCOON WADDLED ONTO THE PORCH! DOES THIS KIND OF STUFF GO ON EVERY NIGHT AND WE JUST DON'T KNOW ABOUT IT? IS OUR BACK PORCH SOME KIND OF NIGHTCLUB FOR WILD ANIMALS? The raccoon (perhaps tempted because we had propped open the porch door so the possum could escape) didn't find anything interesting about our porch, not even the possum, so it turned around and waddled back down the steps. A little after midnight, I decided to check on the possum again and witnessed it lowering itself very slowly and eerily off the table, using its tail, it seemed to me, in the prehensile manner for which it is so justly famous. Then it left the porch. In other nature news, McNeil just called as I was typing this to tell me about developments with the large hadron collider which interests him so, you know, the machine that is going to end the world, and yes, this is a nature story, because McNeil said a bird dropped a bread crumb on the large hadron collider and broke it! I am not kidding! That's the way McNeil described the story on cnn.com, which I have not yet read. I like McNeil's version the best anyway. A BIRD DROPPED A BREAD CRUMB ON THE COLLIDER AND BROKE IT! Sounds like a fairy tale. And the bird dropped the crumb, claims McNeil, in the ONLY SPOT WHERE A BREAD CRUMB COULD POSSIBLY BREAK THE COLLIDER! According to the story, says McNeil, some scientists believe that the collider IS BEING SABOTAGED FROM THE FUTURE! Maybe the crows are doing it! The bird and the bread crumb tipped me off. McNeil says it is a "great story" with "a lot of weird stuff in it."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Who Is Jack Pandarvis?


I was just sadly thinking about how I'm not going to be in California reading at City Lights or Skylight this week as originally scheduled because my new book (which was due on August 1) STILL isn't out, and that made me decide to check the behemoth to see if they are still selling an unauthorized kindle of the book and mislabeling it in the customer review section as a work of military erotica. I have made it a rule never to "link" to the behemoth, but this time I will make an exception because I want you to see for yourself. Notice that they have changed one letter of the title and one letter of my name, so that it appears as SHUT UP UGLU by Jack Pandarvis. I'm not clear on the reasoning here. Camouflage? If only I knew someone who understood publishing... a publisher for example! Yes, a publisher might be able to explain such things if a publisher chose! Also, there's a little notice at the top of the SHUT UP UGLU page explaining that the illegal kindle version is not available to people in the United States. But if you "click" on "not available," the behemoth seems to be giving you a hint about how you might read the book anyway by training your kindle to pretend it is not from the United States. Neat! (PS: It is a shame that the lovely Nancy Kwan showed up as our random picture for today. The behemoth doesn't deserve her!)

At Long Last Monkeys


This calls for a non-random picture! A non-random picture of Edward G. Robinson dressed up as a monkey! A friend of the "blog" has directed us to WFMU's "web" site (previously celebrated for its unparalleled knowledge of "blog" icon Arnold Stang), where you can watch Mr. Robinson's PLANET OF THE APES screen test. This marks the long-awaited return of monkeys to the "blog." You will note that the "blog's" subhead announces four official areas of interest: Jerry Lewis, monkeys, UFOs, and oatmeal. Yet in October, while there were 15 instances of the word "Jerry" (impressive until one takes into account the fact that it represents a troubling 50% drop from September!) all monkey references were confined to a SINGLE "POST," and that on the first day of the month, after which monkeys were not heard from again - until now. UFOs and oatmeal fared even worse in October. There was not a single mention of UFOs, unless one counts Charles Fort's "unknown objects in space." In fact, despite a handful of oblique references in recent months, UFOs have not been referred to BY NAME since June! As for oatmeal, it made no October appearance apart from the sobriquet of the girl who eats dry oatmeal.

Reading


There's a reading tonight at a place called Rooster's. It's on the square here in Oxford. Bring a couple of cans of food to get in! It benefits the local food pantry. There will be poetry! Poets include Beth Ann Fennelly, Ann Fisher-Wirth, and Gary Short. Then Tom Franklin and I will wreck everything with the lowest of all art forms, "prose." Or you could bring cans of food directly to the local pantry and thereby save yourself the painful experience of a reading. Ha ha! Just kidding! Readings are fun! Please come by and say hello. 6-8 p.m. local time. Don't forget your canned goods!

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Longest Two Minutes of Your Life


Over on his "blog," Andy Hopkins has been "posting" some obscure novelty records about the Carter presidency. Yes, you heard me right, and so what if he has? Leave Andy alone! It's his "blog" and he can do whatever he wants with it. Besides, it's amazing. One thing on there is an awful ditty making fun of the president's brother Billy, who was quite a caution at the time. Andy correctly refers to "The Ballad of Billy Carter" in his comments section as "the longest two minutes and twenty-two seconds of your life." The chorus goes, "I like peanut butter/ You like peanut butter/ Chunky peanut butter/ Yeah." Then the background singers start going, "Peanuts/ Oh oh oh oh" while the guy portraying Billy Carter makes noises in an insulting goofball accent, like "Awwww" and "Hyuk hyuk hyuk." On the other side of things, Andy gives us this summary of President Carter's career up to a certain point (press play):

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Heady Times


Laura Lippman has convinced me I am not crazy! Hey, remember when I recalled the LORDS OF FLATBUSH jingle, but it was much shorter in my recollection than the version on youtube? Sure you do! Those were heady times. Heady times. Well, Laura Lippman, without viewing the youtube clip, sent me her own recollection of the LORDS OF FLATBUSH jingle, which I now proceed to quote: "The Lords of Flatbush/ is a mo'oo'oo'oo'vie/ About the way life was in the fi'i'i'fties./ I don't mean to boast./ But I dig it the most./ The Lords of Flatbush, Flatbush, Flatbush./ Rated Pee-Gee." Then she asks, "Am I even close?" Close? You rang the bell, Laura! That's just the way I remembered it! (Except for "how" instead of "the way" and "you'll dig it" instead of "I dig it.") The point is, I am not crazy. Obviously, there was an extended version - represented on youtube - that Laura Lippman and I never saw at the time of its original release (possibly because it rhymes "stealin' a car" racily with "padded bra[r]" and therefore aired only in the wee hours) and a "cut-down" version (as we used to call it in the industry), which is the one that Laura Lippman and I remember. This is important stuff! This is the stuff people "blog" about. This is why "blogs" were invented! PS: I am done with book flaps.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

What Would Render Me More Piteous?

To skim or not to skim a book flap every day: I am not certain which choice would render me more piteous. Let's find out! Today I have skimmed the flap of THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES, translated and with commentary by Robert Alter. You may know them better as the Pentateuch! According to the flap, they contain "profound and haunting enigmas." So if you're into that kind of thing, go for it!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Flap a Day


Today a book flap told me that Thelonious Monk's middle name was Sphere. I feel like I should have known that already, but I did not. So a book flap told me something I did not know. And it is a good piece of information. I would say it is almost worth the price of the book. Thelonious Sphere Monk. That needed an exclamation point. Thelonious Sphere Monk! The flap was on a book called THELONIOUS MONK: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL by Robin D.G. Kelley. Thanks, book flap! And I also like people with two middle names, such as the author of the book. We don't get enough of that. But I think I am tired of skimming a book flap every day.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Please Don't Care


Do you know who Jack Carter is? Of course you don't! He is an old-time comedian. I was pretty sure he was no longer with us, but I saw him tonight in a bit part on a television program called PARKS AND RECREATION. Now why should you care about Jack Carter? That's a trick question! You shouldn't! You don't care about Jack Carter unless you are Mr. Ward or Phil or possibly McNeil or possibly me... and come to think of it, if you are reading this "blog" there is a good chance you are one of those four people. Now - if you are one of those four people, which you almost certainly are - here is in the incredible part! I had not thought of Jack Carter for many, many years and then just the other day he was thrust into my consciousness because of this very "blog"! Yes, thanks to a "link" I provided about Stanley Myron Handelman (don't ask), I found out that Robert Goulet's son-in-law HATES Jack Carter! I found this kind of information unusual to discover on a "show biz" "web" site, but I will now quote Robert Goulet's son-in-law (and please bear in mind that I have never met Jack Carter or read anything about him at all except what I read the other day on the "web" site of Robert Goulet's son-in-law, so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of Robert Goulet's son-in-law's clearly strong opinion, which follows): "Jack Carter was one of the most miserable people we ever had on the show... The band dubbed him 'Captain Rage.' He made everyone so unhappy that we had him thrown off the bus and he had to drive with Danny Rapp from Danny and the Juniors."

The Soirees Mysterious of the Highland Mammoth Boys


Want to encounter "spellbinding pictures" of such things as "fat-baby and poultry contests"? Then P.T. BARNUM: AMERICA'S GREATEST SHOWMAN, AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY is the book for you, or so declares the flap. Yes, it is today's subject of my forgettable quest to skim a book flap every day. Of all tricks used by book flaps in order to trick you into wasting your time by opening a book, perhaps a promise of pictures is the most perfidious. And open I did, to page 38, whereon was printed a lithograph with the following caption (which I will abbreviate because I know you are busy): "Most famous of all Barnum's fat children were his 'Highland Mammoth Boys'... Encouraged by their employer to fatten up even bigger, the Stewarts enriched their act by giving 'soirees mysterious,' in which they demonstrated powers of mesmerism." Now that's a caption with everything! And I am not pulling your leg when I tell you that the Highland Mammoth Boys are so big their picture spills over onto page 39. Let me see if I can find this print on the "internet." If you see three gigantic cherubs in kilts and feathered hats, I have found it. If you do not see three gigantic cherubs in kilts and feathered hats, you are seeing one of the "blog's" famous "random pictures."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Flap a Day


I guess I have been pretty "down" on this whole idea of skimming a book flap every day for a year. But in another way, it's all just part of my remarkable journey as soon to be recounted in A FLAP IN THE FACE: MY REMARKABLE JOURNEY DOING A GIMMICK FOR A YEAR. When I first started out, flaps seemed fresh and saucy. I was young then. Now they seem dry and lifeless. Take the flap for the 1,400-page bio W.A. MOZART by Hermann Abert, which informs me: "the book proceeds chronologically from 1756 to 1791." Is it me, or is it the flaps? There is no way to tell where this exciting human drama will take us next!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

When Movies Had Jingles

Ran into John Currence at the City Grocery Bar tonight. He brought up the film THE LORDS OF FLATBUSH and I think it's safe to say I thrilled him to the very marrow of his bones by spontaneously singing the jingle that accompanied the promo, which has somehow been stuck in my head since 1974. I found the promo on youtube, of course, and it turns out to my rue that I actually had only about 30% of it stuck in my brain... really no more than the very beginning and the very end. My brain had erased "a black leather jacket/ a rumble or two/ and the girl/ cuttin' school/ playin' pool/ stealin' a car," for example. That's a pretty specific jingle! I like how they wedge "and the girl" over the shot of the girl, even though it makes no musical sense. I'm not old!

Eating a Book a Day

The other day in the New York Times I read a review of something called "Eating: A Memoir," which I misread as "eating a memoir," and it strikes me that I might try eating a different book every day for a year, yes, literally eating it, maybe that will be my great new gimmick, maybe that will be it.

Flap a Day


Does anyone care that I am skimming a different book flap every single day for a year? Neither do I! I started because I read about an admirable woman who is reading a book every day for a year and I wanted to be just like her, except I didn't want to read any books. But now skimming a book flap every day is just a grueling, meaningless chore, and I'm sure that reading about it is even worse. Who cares? Nobody promised that life would be fun! The gigantic book BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA includes "plumage variations," thank goodness! I bet before you bought it you were like, "This book better contain plumage variations!" And then you glanced at the flap and were mollified. Now let's all go get a drink.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Flap a Day


The book flap I skimmed for today is from the READER'S DIGEST ILLUSTRATED DICTIONARY OF BIBLE LIFE & TIMES, and gosh is it a dilly! It starts off - STARTS OFF, mind you! - like this: "What are 'screamers' and 'twitterers'?" So naturally right off the bat that makes you wonder if Twitter was predicted in the Bible. In other words, the first sentence on the flap is a question that tricks you into opening the book (just like I did because of the last flap). In this case, then, I didn't even SKIM the flap, really! I just read the first sentence and it was too much to handle. Oh, flaps! Sometimes I think you do your job too well. And yes, I say "tricks," because there is no entry for "twitterer" in the READER'S DIGEST ILLUSTRATED DICTIONARY OF BIBLE LIFE & TIMES (the last thing under "T" is "turban")! Nor does "twitterer" appear in the index OR the glossary. According to the READER'S DIGEST ILLUSTRATED DICTIONARY OF BIBLE LIFE & TIMES, "Turbans were formed by winding strips of cloth around the head." Duh! Thanks for nothing, READER'S DIGEST ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF BIBLE LIFE & TIMES. And as for screamers, if I am recalling the science fiction movie SCREAMERS correctly, they are these sentient little round machines on another planet and they pop up out of the dirt and cut you.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

All Is Lost

Hey, did anyone else notice how even though I used a random picture to illustrate the "post" about the old dictionary, both the "post" and the illustration ended up containing pistols? Weird! Also, I should have titled that most recent "post" "The Pelican Brief." Ha ha ha ha ha! What a stitch that would have been! But it's too late now. All is lost.

Vulgar Pelican Error


Well, folks, you are not going to believe this! Nor care in the least. But you know how a book flap will often tempt you to make the huge mistake of actually opening and reading part of a book? Well, it just happened to me. I opened the Thomas Browne (subject of my daily flap) to the promised "Vulgar Errors." Here is the part you will not believe! Or care about! Just this Friday in my undergraduate fiction writing seminar we were talking about how it is always awesome to include an owl in all your short stories. Then someone brought up the scariness of the pelican, which caused me to mention to the boredom of all present an ancient belief about the pelican. Well, guess what? When I opened the Browne to a random page, what should I find but the "vulgar error" which was the exact same pelican belief I mentioned in class on Friday - namely that (as Browne puts it) "And first in every place we meet with the picture of the Pelecan [sic], opening her breast with her bill, and feeding her young ones with the blood distilling from her"? Later in the chapter, Browne allows "A possibility there may be of opening and bleeding their breast; for this may be done by the uncous and pointed extremity of their bill: and some probability also that they sometimes do it, for their own relief... that is by nibling [sic] and biting themselves on their itching part of their breast..." Clearly it is time to go back on my recent promise and find a proper illustration for this "post." "Blogging" is my life! I only wish I could be YOU, reading about old pelican beliefs on my "blog"!

The Lesser Known Vulgar Errors

My edition of Sir Thomas Browne's selected writings includes "an extensive sample from the lesser known VULGAR ERRORS." How do I know? The flap told me! Thanks, flap. You really "clue me in" about what's "goin' on." As you know, I am conducting an important study of book flaps.

Frouzy; Blowzy


Do you want to hear about this? Why not? You are reading a "blog." My mother mailed me a small old dictionary for some reason. It may have belonged to my grandfather. He (probably) used a pencil to draw a tiger and a pistol in the front of it. I thought, "Hey, this old dictionary may be good for a laugh." So I opened it up to the word "frouzy," which, according to the old dictionary, means "Fetid; musty; rank." Now I did not recall "frouzy" being a real word in real life and this was just the sort of excitement I was looking for from the old dictionary. I did, however, seem to recall a "frowzy." So I looked that up in the old dictionary, and it means "Frouzy; blowzy." Good times. Good times with an old dictionary. We are going to try to go back to random pictures for a while now.