Sunday, February 28, 2010
A guy wrote a manifesto! There is an article about it in the New York Times today. So a little while ago I was over at Square Books and they had a big stack of the manifesto. And I was like, "Hmm, there's that manifesto everyone is talking about." And I opened it up and "Blog" Buddy Lynn Shelton was mentioned on the SECOND PAGE OF THE MANIFESTO! Which excited me! So then I opened it up at random to page 45 or 46 and there was a great little anecdote about my hero Sonny Rollins. So, great! And I opened it up AGAIN at random to page 203 and discovered an appreciative passage about buddy AND hero Barry Hannah. So I bought the manifesto. But right after I bought it, I felt oppressed! Like, "Heavy!" Like, "Can I handle a manifesto right now?" It wasn't the manifesto's fault! But I returned the manifesto immediately and got my money back. I mean, like, the buying and the returning were in one smooth, unbroken action. I don't know what it is about manifestoes.
You know what's funny? In that Samuel Beckett play ENDGAME when the guy says to his father, "Why did you engender me?" And the father says, "I didn't know." And the guy says, "Didn't know what?" And the father says, "It'd be you." I may be paraphrasing.
In the most recent edition of "Hot News From Chicago," I alluded incorrectly to a bead store. Judge had misunderstood my question, and I misunderstood her answer. The sign displayed in an earlier "Hot News From Chicago" was from the bathroom of a museum. Yes, some even earlier signs ("click" here) were found in the window of a bead shop, but I repeat: that other sign was found in the bathroom of a museum. The "blog" regrets the error. Yet in another way, the "blog" does not regret the error! It has given Judge, our Chicago correspondent, an idea. She concludes with a tantalizing postscript: "Speaking of bathroom notices, I have a doozy of one I will try to get you this week."
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Hard to believe it is already time for some more "Hot News From Chicago." Here is an interesting little fellow that our friend Judge saw painted on a wall. In other hot news, Judge confirms (in response to my inquiry) that the sign in the preceding edition of "Hot News From Chicago" was indeed found hanging in the window of a bead shop, just like some other signs featured in a previous edition of "Hot News From Chicago." Notice that Judge said "a" bead shop. A bead shop! Not "the" bead shop! She is implying that there are many bead shops in Chicago with handmade signs hanging in the windows. Judge is concerned about the proliferation of candle shops as well. "Can you really pay city rent by selling candles or beads?" she asks. Judge suspects skullduggery! More to come.
The recent mention of Paul Lynde sent me back to "the official Paul Lynde site approved by the Paul Lynde estate." Like, "I wonder if there is anything new on the official Paul Lynde site approved by the Paul Lynde estate." And there is! Paul Lynde was hired to do the voice of Dracula as part of a Universal theme park attraction, and then they ditched him because he sounded like Paul Lynde. Dumb and unfair! But the official Paul Lynde site approved by the Paul Lynde estate has THE ORIGINAL RECORDING OF PAUL LYNDE AS DRACULA and you can listen to it right there on the "internet."
Friday, February 26, 2010
Speaking of Kitty Snacks, they are having a party one week from today, so get with it! Guess who will be there: McNeil! That's right! He has a story in the upcoming issue of Kitty Snacks. Plus there will be a story by George Singleton and drawings by Jason Polan. Of course the most important thing about McNeil coming to Oxford is the 2nd Annual McNeil's Movie Korner Film Festival, which is a film festival attended only by McNeil and myself. Sometimes there are like three years between our annual festivals. And sometimes Theresa comes into the room and rolls her eyes and leaves. It is so sad. McNeil's opening night pick for this year: the Kirk Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ann-Margaret, Paul Lynde vehicle THE VILLAIN.
One of the editors of Kitty Snacks was excited to tell me that Barry Hannah wrote about Jerry Lewis in his book CAPTAIN MAXIMUS. I have read CAPTAIN MAXIMUS and thought surely I would have recalled such a thing. Sure enough he found the page to show me and it was Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lewis and Jerry Lee Lewis are not the same thing! In a way, they are opposite things. It is not the editor's fault! People tell me exciting things about "Jerry Lewis" all the time when they are really talking about Jerry Lee Lewis, who, don't get me wrong, is good too.
Also, if you read the New York Times movie review to which I was just referring very carefully, you will get the idea that the reviewer thinks there is a GENETIC DIFFERENCE between poor people ("sow's ears," he calls them) and "refined" (i.e., rich) people like Mr. Hurt. I mean, read the second paragraph of the review and think about what the words mean! It is not William Hurt's fault! In fact, he is one of the many persons being insulted.
Did you know that according to the "internet," William Hurt has a subscription to THE BELIEVER magazine? Did you also know that I have a monthly column in THE BELIEVER magazine? I have been thinking about William Hurt a lot lately. Like, yesterday I caught the tail end of an interview with him on NPR. He was saying that his stepfather was the son of Henry Luce! And I was like, "!". So then in the New York Times this morning I read a movie review in which the reviewer claims that Mr. Hurt is too aristocratic to play a guy from Kentucky (I'm paraphrasing slightly) which also made me say "!". Because isn't that what actors do? Play guys from Kentucky? Or wherever? Also, isn't there a needless insult aimed at Kentucky somewhere in the reviewer's presumption? The reviewer goes on to complain that another guy in the movie is British, and went to Eton ("!"), and "is as far away from the geeky Southern loner he portrays... as Mr. Hurt is from an oil rigger." I think I did a double "!!" when I read that sentence, because I find it hard to believe that there were no "geeky loners" at Eton. And maybe "complain" is the wrong word, because I think the reviewer was trying to champion the British guy. I think the reviewer's unspoken plea was, "Please put this upstanding British lad in the kind of movie I enjoy, one that is about a countess!" Once again, I am not a movie reviewer or anything, and I haven't even seen the movie, but isn't that what actors do? Play all kinds of people, even if the actor in question went to Eton? But the most important thing is that William Hurt has possibly read my column. So what if I meet him one day and he is like, "Hey, I read your column"? And I would be like, "Thanks." And then he goes, "But what about on your 'blog,' where your friend Dr. 'M.' said she didn't like the 'perpetual crook' in my neck? I don't have a perpetual crook in my neck!" Gosh, it's going to put me in an awful position, and I will have to choose between my loyalty to Dr. "M." and hanging out with my new best friend William Hurt. I wonder what will happen!
I received an extremely kind note from Dr. Ellenbogen. Any minor misunderstandings between us have been cleared up. He reports that in his youth, as a summer waiter in the Catskills, he waited on Jerry Lewis and had the opportunity to hear Mr. Lewis use his name. Mr. Lewis appears to have been a model customer, inquiring about the young Ellenbogen's goals and complimenting him on being enrolled in medical school. Dr. Ellenbogen also provides the wonderful detail that the family name was shortened from Katzenellenbogen.
McNeil called in a frenzy! Asked had I heard about the 114-year-old hot dog! I said that I had not! They found it on Coney Island, he said. "It was in the ice under a building they were tearing down!" he said. "There was a receipt and everything! Now it's on display! Google 114-year-old hot dog and it will come up!" he suggested. Here's what I found out: 1) It's 140 years old, so I misheard. I wonder what else I'm wrong about. Everything, probably! 2) It's a hoax! I'm sorry to dash your frozen hot dog dreams. (PS: I couldn't resist putting up a picture of one of my favorite Miles Davis albums for that last "post," but now we are going back to random illustrations, the way it should always be.)
Welcome once again to "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up," your ONLY place on the "internet" for the latest excitement in the world of sizzling celebrity gossip. While I was out of town, I missed an email from a student who wished to inform me that a woman named Karen Kennelly once dated Donald Barthelme and Miles Davis AT THE SAME TIME! Miles Davis called Donald Barthelme "Texas." This is the same student who gave me the article about Jerry Lewis buying a hearing aid for his dog and 100 cashmere sweaters. That's all the time we have for today's "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up." Until next time, keep "reaching" for the "stars"!
Thursday, February 25, 2010
One thing about being out of town: I missed some hot news from Chicago, in the form of a Chicago photograph from our Chicago correspondent Judge, caretaker of our popular regular feature "Hot News From Chicago." Even though this news is like four days old I still consider it hot news from Chicago, because Judge always gives us the kind of news that never cools down and here it is:
Did you miss me? Don't lie! Where was I? None of your beeswax! Maybe I was on a secret mission! Or maybe I was in Birmingham, Alabama, talking about cats with my REAL FRIENDS! That's right, my new best friends! We have a club where we talk about our cats so SHUT UP!
Sunday, February 21, 2010
I want to reiterate that I meant no disrespect to the Ellenbogen name with my fanciful speculation that Jerry Lewis would have fun saying it. In the pinched little world of this "blog," it is a compliment of the highest order! As the Dr. Ellenbogen who wrote me pointed out (through the use of vivid if startling medical imagery, renaming a particularly painful and embarrassing affliction after me in jest!) Pendarvis itself is an unusual surname. But oh what I wouldn't give to hear Jerry Lewis say it. That is where Dr. Ellenbogen and I differ, apparently! As I have boasted, I spoke with Mr. Lewis on the telephone once, but I do not recall him saying my name, and certainly I would recall that, wouldn't I? Which reminds me of a story lending credence to Dr. Ellenbogen's point. Once the spouse of Mr. Ward was doing a "shoot" (as we used to call it in the TV business) with the comedian Martin Short, who improvised some asides to an imaginary butler named "Pendarvis." This occurred before she and I met, up until which time she had assumed "Pendarvis" to be a crazy word that Martin Short made up. (Interestingly - ha! - Mr. Short is known for his impersonation of Mr. Lewis.) In addition, someone - I believe it was the man who hates "blogs" - told me that there were some items called "chocolate-covered Pendarvi" on an episode of the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show, though I have never found a clip confirming his recollection. (NOTE: I believe the "blog" needs a picture of Bullwinkle, so no random illustration today.) And in conclusion, my own meticulous research bears out the fact that Pendarvis is a funnier name than Ellenbogen: there are 980,000 matches for Ellenbogen in a google search and only 206,000 for Pendarvis, making the latter nearly five times more unusual than the former. In conclusion, I apologize to Ellenbogens everywhere. It is an honorable name, and fun to say, and worthy, and I meant no harm.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
... was a great Robert Ludlum novel. No, I received a rather barbed note from a Dr. Ellenbogen, who seemed to think I had insulted the Ellenbogen name by postulating that Jerry Lewis would have fun saying it. Quite the contrary! It just happens to have the arrangement of syllables and the concluding "en" characteristic of words that Jerry Lewis likes to repeat. I love Jerry Lewis and I love the name. I'm not even sure how having a fun name to say could be construed as an insult, but the title Dr. Ellenbogen gave to his note was "Effete Echolalia," which I believe was meant to be hurtful.
Friday, February 19, 2010
So as you recall, my fake detective novel (I believe a good marketing slogan would be "a fake detective novel about a fake detective") was supposed to come out last August, but it never did, due to shadowy reasons that will never be explained in our lifetime. Well, now I see that the great Robert Coover has a fake detective novel coming out soon! Just one more person whom everyone will think I am copying, assuming my novel ever comes out. The only thing that will save me is my Zac Efron reference, because by the time the novel comes out, Zac Efron will be a withered old man, a marker by which to measure the manuscript's ancient origin. Of course, fake detective novels are not exactly rare. They are sometimes called "literary crime novels," which, as I point out in a recent Oxford American column, just means that the writer wasn't good enough to do the real thing. In the case of Mr. Coover, of course, he is good enough to do anything he wants. So maybe I should really just speak for myself. (Weird! The randomly chosen illustration for this "post" turned out to be the cover for my fake detective novel, which is all that exists of it. I meant to mention the other day that my Jerry Lewis-related "post" was randomly illustrated by a Bizarro Superman dressed as Jerry Lewis, just by coincidence. But there are so many pictures of Jerry Lewis stored in my computer that this happens all the time. Very strange, this latest occurrence, though. Strange and boring.)
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
There is a theater review by one Jason Zinoman in today's New York Times. The play under examination takes place in France. In his review, Mr. Zinoman mentions Jerry Lewis ("Make no mistake: the crude jokes are certainly affectionate and meant in a spirit of good Jerry Lewis-style fun") yet does NOT fall prey to that tired old chestnut about the French supposedly enjoying Jerry Lewis and how supposedly crazy that is. What a tightrope walk! To make it more impressive, the thrust of the review is that the play is full of clichés, so Mr. Zinoman would have been perfectly within his rights to use that particular example in a telling or ironic fashion. Yet in all the history of reporters and reviewers, he is the first person to resist, to my immense relief. Hats off, sir.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
"The best part of having a new baby?" asks Dr. "M." rhetorically. "The days go by so quickly that next thing ya know it's time for another episode of Lost! I had a thought for the day: since the central question seems to be 'Is man inherently good or inherently evil?' [We cannot vouch for Dr. "M.'s" interpretation, though she is very good at interpreting things. Also, is that a spoiler of some kind? We can't even tell anymore! If so, we apologize. - ed.] then perhaps" (Dr. "M." continues) "one storyline will eventually land on the good side and the other on the evil side, thus not answering the question at all!" This has been another edition of Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner.
Monday, February 15, 2010
The votes are in! And by "votes," I mean one vote. And by one vote, I mean two votes. A "Blog" Buddy who goes by the nom de plume "Chicken Sheets" wrote in to say that despite the "blog's" fascinating insinuations, German silent film actress Greta Schröder looks in no way like popular television star Tina Fey. So I thought the matter was settled, though I did suggest to Ms. Sheets that she try imagining Greta Schröder wearing glasses and see if that helped. Well, through the magic of the "internet" and "computers," Ms. Sheets placed glasses on Greta Schröder, causing her (Ms. Sheets) to CHANGE HER VOTE! Yes, the votes are in. The voter agrees with me now (though it must be admitted that if you carefully comb through the record - and why wouldn't you???? - I pretty much didn't agree with myself)! And here is the result of Ms. Sheets's thoughtful efforts: German silent film actress Greta Schröder wearing glasses for you to enjoy. Enjoy!
I am still mulling over this Salinger/Jerry Lewis connection. What did you expect? Like, there's this Salinger story with a character named Bobby Agadganian. Imagine Morty S. Tashman (the Jerry Lewis character in THE ERRAND BOY) trying to wrap his tongue around that! Ha ha ha! What fun it is to imagine things. If you would like to see what I mean, go to about the 1:12 mark in the clip "embedded" below. If you have not made up your mind about loving Jerry, and would not like to be provoked, at least do me the favor of starting at 1:51. You can do it!
Sunday, February 14, 2010
McNeil is sending me "links" about underground civilizations. One "link" says, "Socrates spoke of huge hollows within the Earth which are inhabited by man, and vast caverns [through?] which rivers flow... There are also legends about mysterious Mount Shasta in northern California. The mountain is said to have housed a race of surviving Lemurians who built a sanctuary in the depths of the earth to escape the catastrophes which befell them. These Lemurians allied themselves with space travelers who built a saucer base inside the mountain... Whether ancient cities exist in caverns below the earth is anyone’s guess, but it’s a fact that governments have built underground tunnels and facilities for a variety of reasons." Another "link" says, "In northern Arkansas, a 12-man speleological team broke into an ancient tunnel system, encountering inhabitants of the inner-world. Just north of Batesville, explorers found a tunnel illuminated by a greenish phosphorescence where they met a race of beings who stood 7 to 8 feet tall and had bluish skin." Look, what can I tell you? It's like that guy who knows where your secret twin lives. The "blog" can't vouch for it. Like the man says, "Whether ancient cities exist in caverns below the earth is anyone's guess." This is screaming for a return to "random illustrations" but I believe I'll give you the Kenny G that I promised you instead.
I am sorry for all the terrible things I have said about twitter! It is only because I hate it and don't understand anything about it, like everything else that exists. But now thanks to twitter, Informant J2 has managed to send me this photo of the elusive Brown Squirrel furniture sign AND our friend from "She Blogged By Night" has been empowered to inform me that she believes - though she cannot attest personally to the fact - that the elusive John Wayne scene to which I have recently referred comes from MCCLINTOCK! (exclamation point original to the title, which makes me so very happy).
I learned five things on our trip to Virginia and back. Also, we saw three interesting signs. Here is what I learned: 1) People in Virginia are nice! Especially A.J., Josh, Juliana, Phineas, all my regional facebook friends, plus the girl who offered me a "gourmet donut topped with bacon," though I did not take her up on it. Also, all the people who listened to me read. 2) The female lead (Greta Schröder) from Murnau's silent horror classic NOSFERATU looks like Tina Fey! 3) There is a large cross looming over the town of Cookeville, Tennessee, but NO cross looming over the next town to the east, which is - pay attention, now! - Crossville, Tennessee! It would be ever so delightfully droll if the people of Crossville put up a giant statue of a cook to loom over them, as if to say to the people of Cookeville, "Two can play at that game!" 4) A hotel in Nashville has eight or nine of the paintings of "Blog" Buddy Jon Langford hanging in its lobby! 5) There is a terrible restaurant in Nashville. Downstairs is a pleasantly appointed lounge attended to by a suave cocktail pianist and everyone looks very happy there. Undesirable persons, such as Theresa and myself, are escorted to an attic-like area, where "Kenny G" style music is blasted through the speakers at strange volumes. Every few minutes, on top of that, a faulty fire alarm starts to shriek! Part of dinner is served "buffet style," so the creepy people who are forced to eat in the attic, such as Theresa and myself, are required to make their way down into the glittering cocktail lounge where may be observed all the well-mannered people having the time of their lives, apparently. Then we load our plates with the bland food and navigate our way up the dim and narrow staircase to eat in silent shame. No, not silent! Because of the Kenny G and the fire alarm, the latter of which, to its credit, did occasionally prevent us from hearing the former. Here are the three interesting signs we saw: 1) A billboard for a bail bondsman company. The photographs of two bail bondsmen were presented beneath the slogan "WE'RE UGLY BUT WE'RE HONEST." They looked like very nice, presentable men, in my opinion. They were being too hard on themselves, I think! But it was all for a humorous effect, which was appreciated by passing motorists. 2) The giant logo outside the Brown Squirrel Furniture Factory. 3) The mesmerizing neon coffee sign over the place where we stayed in Roanoke. It has a history, I do believe. (Naturally, this "post" cries out for me to violate the "random illustrations only" rule. I am going to attempt to find one or more of the following for you: the Brown Squirrel Furniture Factory logo, the neon coffee sign, possibly Kenny G. Not Greta Schröder. Sadly, after examing 1,000 photos of Greta Schröder on the "internet," I have reached the conclusion that she does not actually look like Tina Fey. I learned a wrong thing!) A final warning: there is not a decent photo of the actual Brown Squirrel sign on the "internet." Don't look for one or you will be disappointed! The logos presented by the "internet" are drab in comparison with the gigantic, cheerful squirrel I witnessed. Cheerful, however, is this woman from the Brown Squirrel "web" site, who is excited by Brown Squirrel's dining room selection:
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I was just reading a Salinger story in which there are repeated references to a couple called "the Ellenbogens." There! There is your definitive proof of the affinity of Salinger for Jerry Lewis, or vice versa. I mean, can't you just hear Jerry saying "the Ellenbogens" over and over? Like, "Good night, sweet Ellenbogens. You're such nice Ellenbogens, with the goodness and the loving. Here, let me help you with your Ellenbogens.... WAH!!! [because he just accidentally set Mrs. Ellenbogen's coat sleeve on fire. - ed.] I hope you're careful on the way home and don't hurt your Ellenbogens," etc. That's not quite right, but you get it. You have to imagine it in that Jerry Lewis voice and cadence, which is so difficult - nay, impossible! - to reproduce in print, as I have explained on the "blog" before. The Ellengbogens now join Summer Glau and chondroitin as things that are fun to say like Jerry Lewis.
Time once again for "Hot News From Chicago," in which our friend Judge sends us pictures she has taken while strolling about. Only today it is "Cold News From Chicago," ha ha! "Passed a tree with earmuffs two days ago," writes Judge. Hey, did you know that Judge was nominated for a Grammy this year? Well, she was!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Some time ago, the Oxford American magazine asked me to name my favorite line from a song and I came up with "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth" by the Who, which is still pretty great. But after many, many years of listening to "Boogie Woogie Blue Plate" by Louis Jordan, and enjoying the first line every time, with no signs of fatigue, I have to officially correct myself and say that my favorite line from a song is "There's a girl at the local beanery/ She's a pretty hunk of scenery/ She can make a chocolate soda go 'Sssssssssssss.'"
The "blog" shies away from "going negative," so thank goodness I was able to delete the "post" I was just writing about the car dealership that was trying to kill my parents. At the last minute, they changed their mind and decided not to kill my parents! Which was so nice of them. You know, there's this certain car manufacturer whose cars are deadly? But now they have commercials in which helpful smiling car dealers come to the rescue of their customers, who are bursting with gratitude over a gauzy white background. My parents, however, were first patted on the heads and told that "the media" was responsible for stirring up a needless ruckus and their car did not need to be made less deadly. On the next two visits, it was admitted more readily that they had been sold a deadly car (just two weeks before "the media" announced the deadliness) yet their car could not be fixed because my parents had not brought along a copy of the official press release about the deadliness of their car. Finally, it turns out that on the fourth visit to the deadly car dealership, my parents were able to find a friendlier person, a cuddly little ball of helpfulness like you see in the gauzy TV commercials, and he agreed to set up an appointment so their car can be rendered less deadly next week. Be careful this week, parents! And they only had to drive out to the dealership four times in their deadly car before someone would help them, so I guess everything worked out for the best.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Monday, February 08, 2010
I was thinking about something important and then that commercial came on where they say that chewing a certain brand of gum is like lying in a pit full of ball bearings. That's a real commercial. You've seen it. It made me forget something important, because my brain was like: "..."
Let's see. I was just thinking that the Rappin' Duke's reference to the medfly might be ironic. Is ironic the right word? Like, a medfly is anything BUT laid back, which is the point. As in "Oh yeah, I'm crazy all right... crazy like a fox!" Or, more to the point, think of that John Wayne movie where he says, "I'm not gonna hit ya... I'm not gonna hit ya... Like **** I'm not!" And then he hits the guy. Which movie is that? PS: I know what "penultimate" means! I am subtitling this "post" in that manner because I feel there will be one more triumphant "post" on the subject of the Rappin' Duke, which will occur when I finally track down the 70s John Wayne impersonator who I believe inspired the "Duh ha ha" laugh of the Rappin' Duke chorus. I think it is interesting that a guy could "laugh like John Wayne" yet really nothing like John Wayne and inspire a chorus for which he might have sued for part of the royalties... EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT HE CLAIMED TO BE LAUGHING JUST LIKE JOHN WAYNE. So I guess he would have no monetary rights to the laugh, leaving the guy who came along afterward and recorded the "Rappin' Duke" record to enjoy all the fruits thereof alone. I feel sure this theoretical prior impersonator - this "Prime Mover" of the "Rappin' Duke" if you will - exists. I just can't prove it! It is the most difficult thing to google ever, although I am finding out lots and lots of things about John Wayne. PPS: This may not even be penultimate after all, because I feel sure that Mr. Ward will tell me the name of the John Wayne movie I am referencing above, resulting in multiple "Rappin' Duke" "posts" to follow. PPPS: I should also give credit to my friend in Hubcap City for the random illustration of the busted piano that accompanied a former "Rappin' Duke" "post."
Sunday, February 07, 2010
First let me hypothesize that there is a typo in the Rappin' Duke lyrics "linked" to in my most recent "post." The lyrics as printed would have you believe that John Wayne is boasting of being "laid back like a dead fly." I believe he is saying, rather, "medfly." The medflies were all over California at the time of the recording or thereabouts, I do believe, and were the basis for many a humorous topical reference in the representative popular culture of the day. On the other hand, it could be argued that medflies were not "laid back" in any sense. I seem to recollect that they were a plague upon the land. A dead fly, it must be admitted, would be more laid back than a medfly. But it is hard for me to imagine John Wayne boasting about being similar in any fashion to a dead fly! I had another important thought about the Rappin' Duke but it has temporarily escaped my mind. Don't worry! It will come back to me. Also, I will try to synthesize the Wah ha/Duh ha problem, as it has become known among sociologists and linguists who track the "blog." Oh yeah! I remembered the other thing: isn't it interesting that in the 1980s a novelty record could - as "The Rappin' Duke" does - blithely contain a reference to Gilbert & Sullivan, in the form of a quotation from Ko-Ko's lament "On a tree by a river a little tom-tit"?
McNeil and I were talking about John Wayne for some reason and it turned out to my amazement that he had never heard the novelty record "The Rappin' Duke," which was predicated on the questionable idea that John Wayne laughed like this: "Wah ha ha. Wah ha ha ha ha ha." [Note: Pendarvis stands corrected. After finding the video on the youtube, he discovered that the supposed Wayne laugh went like this: "Duh ha ha ha. Duh ha ha ha ha ha." - ed.] McNeil and I had quite a debate then on the way John Wayne actually laughed, if ever he did. McNeil attempted to produce a facsimile of the actual Wayne laugh. It didn't sound like much to me, somewhat like a hostile snicker, but was, I admit, more plausible than "Wah [or duh] ha ha ha." McNeil claimed that his recreation was "exact." The matter remains under consideration. You know what looks funny? The lyrics to the Rappin' Duke song soberly typed out. PS: My memory is nagging at me, and I want to say there WAS an impersonator, some variety-show staple, who popularized the "Wah ha ha" laugh (as opposed to the "Duh ha ha" laugh) BEFORE the Rappin' Duke song came out, an impersonator who was, possibly, its inspiration. But my googling is weak today. The old google did lead me to a CURRENT Wayne impersonator, however, one Dr. (!) Gene Howard, who will also (in addition to impersonating John Wayne for your event) do a digital watercolor painting (?) of your dog (!).
I decided to look up the biography of William Dean Howells on the home page of the William Dean Howells Society, just to make sure that my guess was correct, as I truly know nothing about William Dean Howells. It turns out that I was right: William Dean Howells was not quirky. For example, "after the execution of the Haymarket radicals in 1887, which he risked his reputation to protest, Howells became increasingly concerned with social issues." Admirable, courageous, prescient, and outspoken does not equal quirky. The quirkiest thing I found in the bio was a subject that fascinated him and about which he wrote a book: Joseph C. Dylkes, a man in Ohio who claimed to be a god impervious to physical harm. Mr. Dylkes's first recorded appearance took place when he interrupted a sermon in 1828: "a tremendous voice shouted 'Salvation'... followed instantly by a strange sound, likened by all who heard it to the snort of a horse... He was dressed in a black broadcloth suit, frock coat, white cravat and wore a yellow beaver hat, and appeared to be between the ages of 45 and 50." A good word for that man might be "quirky." He developed quite a following, and also some enemies: "Dylkes tried to hide in the corner, but Gifford seized him and tore out a considerable lock of his hair to carry to his daughter Mary to show her that Dylkes' claims were unfounded."
Attention Dr. "M."! Our friend Kent has weighed in with answers to your questions about LOST. As usual, I have edited them to prevent spoilers for the good people who prefer watching LOST on DVD. Let me know if you need any asterisks filled in, Dr. "M."! And now, Kent's response: "Hmmmm....good questions! I've read that the parallel storylines will eventually merge. Why couldn't Jack remember how he knew *******, when in season two he remembers him right away? Something funny is going on! I think Sayid is now *****. (or vice versa) That's why Sayid had to *** ******. Like *****. I don't think they ever explained why women die in childbirth, but I think it had something to do with Ben being on the wrong path. I don't remember Charlie being suicidal in the pilot. The Harrison Ford of Japan gang does seem a little been there done that, although I like the actor who plays Lennon. He was on Deadwood and Eastbound and Down. I didn't hear the flight attendant say the second flight. I thought she just said the flight. Hmmm..... I took the Richard in chains line to mean that he came to the island ** *** ***** ****. Man, I wish I could watch all the episodes at once. This waiting is b******t!"
Saturday, February 06, 2010
I realize I have given away all my copies of the books I have written, and since my publisher has vanished or something, it puts me in the funny position of contemplating buying copies of my OWN BOOKS! And those books are TERRIBLE! The super funny part is that I won't even get the royalties, because MY PUBLISHER HAS SEEMINGLY VANISHED. The royalties go to royalty heaven, I think. I think they are ghost money. I believe that's how that works.
Welcome once again to "C-Spandemonium!" Now you are going to think I am getting "political," but the "blog" doesn't really get "political." Still, I am going to mention Sarah Palin, whom I just saw on C-Span. On C-Span she said that her son had never "turned on C-Span in his young life." And the crowd, which was pro-Sarah Palin, and which knew themselves to be on C-Span, applauded and whooped in an ecstatic manner. Like, "Take that, C-Span!" Truthfully, it didn't even sound as if Sarah Palin meant much by it, but the crowd was eager to show its disdain for C-Span. Which is weird! I mean, C-Span is inert, you know what I mean? I mean, it is as if they whooped and hollered and carried on because she said her son never had a pet turtle or something. That's why our patented phrase "C-Spandemonium!" is humorous: because C-Span is the possibly dead pet turtle of networks. They just turn the camera on and go get coffee or something. They're not out to get you! Besides, they are doing you a kindness by turning on their camera at your event! You don't go rudely whooping and hollering and clapping about how superior and mean you feel toward C-Span! It's like spitting on a bewildered turtle! I don't mean "inert" or "dead pet turtle" in a bad way. I guess it is none of my business if people want to have bad thoughts about C-Span, but I can't understand it, I just can't, I want to cradle C-Span in my arms and tell it everything is okay.
I can't believe it is already time for another episode of Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner! Today Dr. "M." has eight mysterious questions of mystery about the TV show LOST, which I am going to forward to Kent. Kent will know! With that, I give you Dr. "M.": 1) "So there is no swoosh between the two storylines now, which indicates to me that we are dealing with two parallel *********? **** LA and **** Island. Will those in **** all of a sudden have new ********* of the past 3 years if the two storylines ever merge? I don't think that would be believable (as if the rest of the show is!). ([The Farmer] points out that the **** ******* storyline is also the basis of 'Fringe,' also a JJ Abrams show!)" 2) "Is Sayid now *****, or vice versa?" 3) "Did we ever figure out why women die in childbirth on the island?" 4) "Was Charlie suicidal in the pilot? I can't recall. I miss the Hobbit, don't you?" 5) "Does the appearance of the ***** ****** (led by the Harrison Ford of Japan, as I read in EW) feel a little 'been there, done that'?" 6) "What did the flight attendant mean by 'They were on the second flight'? Or did she say first flight? That line made me think that the storylines will eventually merge. Obviously, getting to the island is their destiny (how many times will that word be used this season?!) as shown in what goes down once they **** ** ***." 7) "Does anyone else think that a character's grief can often bring down a show? How are we going to deal with grumpy Sawyer all season? He will be so sad that he won't be able to take off his shirt. Which will make us sad too. Well, at least me." 8) "I wonder if Richard was in chains like Prometheus. (Was it Prometheus who was chained to a rock and had his liver eaten by a vulture each night? Did I make that up?!)" [No! - ed.] PS: Hey, Kent, let me know if you need me to fill in any of the spoiler-preventing asterisks!
Friday, February 05, 2010
"Man in eyeliner...in chains???" So reads Dr. "M.'s" long-awaited new entry in our popular regular feature "Dr. 'M.'s' TV Korner." You may complain that it is a short entry! Five words! Two of them the same word! The same word of a mere two letters! And who would not want more Dr. "M."? So in that way you would have a point! I guess! But Dr. "M.'s" words - on the subject of the television program LOST -are fraught! Fraught I tell you! Fraught with meaning! And dread! And speculation! And besides, Dr. "M." has been a little preoccupied lately... WITH HAVING A BABY! As the "blog" is very happy to announce. Now "blog" conspiracy theorists - and I am sure you exist! - will use this as a reason to speculate that my very own sister is Dr. "M.," just because my very own sister recently had a baby named Jasper. But Dr. "M." is NOT my sister and Dr. "M.'s" baby is a different baby with a different name. For reasons of anonymity we are going to call him "Dr. Baby." Welcome to the world, Dr. Baby!
There's a golf story that name-drops Jerry Lewis in the New York Times today. It's the sort of passing Jerry reference I might hardly feel the obligation to bring to your attention, but it DOES mean that the NYT has mentioned Jerry two days in a row now, so that's something. We like to keep tabs on these things! Also, in the same article, there's an offhand mention of W.C. Fields "taking liberties with the daughter of a Los Angeles police officer."
Thursday, February 04, 2010
I just saw Elvis Costello on TV and Elvis Costello said that he hadn't read a word of fiction since he was a teenager. Then I lay down on the floor and started to cry and I never, ever stopped.
Look, I have already told Kent this but now it's time for the rest of you to know it, so get ready. LOST is going to turn out to be all about Zoroastrianism or Manichaeism or some other word I'm pretty sure I'm not spelling correctly. You just wait and see! I'll meet you back here when LOST is over and then I'll be all, "I told you so." And you'll be like, "Shut up." So I guess LOST is on at the same time as THE GOOD WIFE now, which leaves me in a pickle. You know who could get those people off that island? The Good Wife, that's who!
Today in the New York Times we learn that Don Delillo's new book contains a Jerry Lewis reference! Also, it (the book) was inspired by an art installation that has likewise inspired the "blog": 24-hour PSYCHO. Delillo says of that piece, "Most of the time I was the only one there except for a guard, and the few people who came in left quite hastily." I would have stayed, Don! I would have been your friend! I believe I can conclude from this evidence that Don Delillo and I are exactly alike.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
And here is my neighbor quoting Wadada Leo Smith on the great (epochal? Maybe! What does that mean?) Louis Armstrong/Earl Hines recording of "Weather Bird": "Now this duo music, as you will have noticed if you’ve ever heard it, does not have drums, but the spirit-essence of the drums is there!" Yes! I will see if youtube has "Weather Bird" so you can judge for yourself. Okay, here it is. The photos are stiff, mere placeholders. Who needs them? Close your eyes!
Allow me to quote my neighbor on the subject of Wadada Leo Smith: "For Smith, all music can be traced to the vital life force through which the seemingly disparate pulses and voices of nature miraculously converge into a vibrant whole." All right? ALL RIGHT!
Everybody loves Percival Everett! I am part of that club. If you are in Oxford, MS, or hereabouts, you should go see Percival Everett read at the Overby Center on the evening of February 11. As for myself, I will be on the way to the Marginal Arts Festival in Roanoke, VA. So I am happy and sad. Sad to miss meeting Percival Everett, happy to be a Marginal Artist at the Marginal Arts Festival.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
I favor the dull, dry author bio. As an example, see my one-sentence number over on THE BELIEVER "web" site. (I just realized: it's sort of a lie!) The other kind is the "interesting" author bio, as parodied in my first book like so: "Skip Shell is a painter, cook and raconteur. When not traveling the world in his nicely painted convertible, Skip amuses himself by pulling the wings off flies." So I have heard more about the auction: the drawings by Barry Hannah and Tina Fey fetched prices somewhere in the $400-$500 range, whereas mine netted like $175. Not too shabby, but appropriately measly in comparison. I also hear that some people behind the scenes at the auction thought my bio (a bio accompanied each drawing) was too boring and goosed it up at the last minute for extra spiciness. For example, they apparently mentioned my affection for Messiaen and stray cats. Fair enough! I am not hiding my love for Messiaen or stray cats! And it is very flattering that they felt the desire to help, took the time to rewrite my bio, and described me in such glowing terms. But people generally assume that so-called "authors" write their own "bios," so I don't want anyone who was at the auction to think I was bragging about a predilection for Messiaen and stray cats! The "blog" is the place where I do that. To put such things in your own author bio is the equivalent of the dubious author photo, you know the one, the one in which you're wearing a hat AND chewing the stem of your eyeglasses! It reminds of the "Jack Pendarvis is Awesome" (!) page on facebook, with which I am entirely unaffiliated (though people seem to think I created it), and the title of which I find embarrassing due to my unworthiness, yet who would be so churlish as to complain about such kindness? Once again, I am appreciative to the people who goosed up my bio for the auction. They did a great job and made me sound like a real hero. But if people think I wrote it myself it will come off like I'm some sort of fake big shot trying to shoulder my way undeservedly into the company of Barry Hannah and Tina Fey, whose bios were no doubt modest and clean. (I realize that the dry author bio is its own kind of affectation, perhaps a subtler form of bragging. No matter how you figure it, I'm the worst person ever!)
Monday, February 01, 2010
Hey, remember that auction of literary pictures drawn by Tina Fey and me? Well, I ran into Richard Howorth today. He was at the auction and had some information. He said that Barry Hannah drew a picture for it, too, and that Barry Hannah's picture was of (I will paraphrase Richard's description) Mark Twain weeping at a Natchez casino. Twain is onstage and all the chairs for the audience are empty and a sandwich board announces that Twain is there to sing the songs of Trini Lopez. This is a picture I wish I had seen. Below, Trini Lopez in MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS, a frequent object of "blog" contemplation:
I see that the Library Journal is recommending a new novel to "appreciators of J. D. Salinger's CATCHER IN THE RYE and Jack Pendarvis' SHUT UP, UGLY." The funny part is that SHUT UP, UGLY has no appreciators! It doesn't exist! My (former? no one will tell me!) publisher is still having "phone problems," such as forgetting how to pick one up, that's one phone problem, so I still have no explanation for you... or me! The other funny part is Library Journal's weird notion that SHUT UP, UGLY and CATCHER IN THE RYE have anything in common. Life has so many funny parts when you think about it!