Wednesday, March 31, 2010

All About Eef


I was scared and nervous and terrified to "google" the amazingly clever title I gave to this "post," and I was right to be, because 8,630 people had thought of it before me, just as I feared. But based on my scientific conclusions most of them do not seem to be talking about the same kind of eef, so I think it's okay. Anyway: Phil! Phil, my hero! Always with the keen eye, Phil is. He points out that the guy who wrote the wonderful and aforementioned WFMU "post" about eefing is the SAME GUY in charge of the Atlanta Time Machine "blog," which has given us so much joy and fun here, in the form, for example, of ads from old-time Atlanta nightclubs, a song called "Ooey Gooey," and a great story about a Porter Wagoner album cover. Thanks, Phil! And now I will add my own coincidence to make everything perfect. Remember when Sam Shepard was in the band the Holy Modal Rounders and played drums under the watchful eye of Ruth Buzzi, as documented on the "blog"? Well, one of the eefing songs gathered on the WFMU site is by that very same band! Sadly, I believe Sam Shepard had left the band at that time, so we cannot imagine him participating in some eefing. Unless we want to! It's a free country.

Hot News From Paris

"Blog" Buddy Judge, curator of our regular "blog" feature "Hot News From Chicago," has an art show coming up in Paris! April 8-13. That's right, Paris, France. Just like in that song "April in Paris." You've heard of Paris, haven't you? The one in France? Then get over there and attend Judge's show. When you land be sure and tell 'em "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot sent you and you'll probably get a discount on a baguette.

Eef!


My smart student and I were discussing the art of the hambone yesterday, a term into which I erroneously lumped the vocal accompaniment, which I discovered today is its own separate thing called "eefing" or "eephing," or sometimes, excitingly, "eeefing" or "eeephing," that's right, with three E's. Jimmy Riddle, champion eefer, says in this audio recording that it used to be called hoodling before, I don't know, all the modern kids started to call it eefing. I went back for a "link" to last Thanksgiving, when naturally I put up a youtube video from HEE HAW on the "blog," but I discovered it had been removed by the Grand Ole Opry. But don't worry, folks, there is still plenty of eefing on the "internet," despite the sinister machinations of the Grand Ole Opry. I should have known that the great WFMU beat me to it anyway, using the same deleted clip, but supplementing it with many others and piling on the MP3s. All the eefing you could ever want, or at least a good start. Lots of pictures, too, including this non-random illustration. Most of the information I find on the "internet" refers to eefing as a white Appalachian tradition, but there are plenty of African-American examples, and I think the connection should be explored. Get on it, somebody! The piece that my student and I were originally discussing, "Old Aunt Dinah" (attributed to a performer named "Butterboy"), appears on a Lomax field recording called "Black Texicans."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Incredible Power


They've changed out the video on the Ninja Blender "web" site. I didn't want you to be confused now that my Ninja Blender short promotional video quotations no longer match up. Now the guy says, "It gives you the incredible power to create snow!" Then, after praising the "top secret scientists" who created the Ninja Blender, he shrinks as if by magic and sits on a table next to the Ninja Blender and a scientist dumps out the contents of the Ninja Blender (formerly ice) on the table next to him. The tiny spokesman runs his hands through the contents and says approvingly, "I'm talking about perfect, creamy, snowball-quality snow!" It's not really called the "Ninja Blender." It's called the "Ninja Master Prep." I will tell you if they change the video again because you probably need to know.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Exclaims the Announcer

Just watching a short online promotional video for the Ninja Blender. "It instantly blasts ice into fantastic fluffy snow!" exclaims the announcer.

Late Night Blender Report


This just in from the NBIL: "So, Jasper's late night feeding schedule has given me the opportunity to catch up on my infomercials. The gloves are off in the late night blender battle! [Loyal "blog" readers will recall the NBIL's fascination with "The Magic Bullet." - ed.] Last night alone," continues the NBIL, "I saw four different blenders advertised in half hour long informercials! Here's what the Bullet is up against: The Torpedo - None of the new crop of blender informercials has the same cast of lovable characters as seen in the original Magic Bullet commerical, but the Torpedo does have Fabio Viviani of Top Chef fame as a pitchman. This one has some sort of autonomous 'smart' mode that allows you to leave the blender unattended while it whips your frozen margaritas to just the right consistency or grinds your coffee beans into powdery oblivion. How does it know?! The Montel Williams HealthMaster - Montel also goes all high tech with a 'patented digital emulsification system.' Foods prepared in the HealthMaster evidently cause the consumer to miraculously lose lots of weight! I think it has something to do with the fact that boiling removes the nutrients from brocolli. At least that was a point that was harped upon repeatedly in the commercial. The Ninja - Continuing the trend of violently named kitchen appliances. Judging from the informercial, this blender is built by ancient Japanese swordsmiths. The Jack LaLanne Power Juicer - Technically not a blender, but don't tell that to Jack LaLanne. The makers of the Magic Bullet have risen to the occasion however, with a new blender - the Bullet Express! This a larger, more robust version of the lovable little bullet that does double duty as a juicer. The highlight of this informercial is when juice is made using a whole pear, several carrots and quarter of a watermelon! The actress who then drinks this concoction does a poor job of concealing her initial 'bleh' reaction before putting on a huge fake smile/look of amazement. That's it on the blender front. There are a couple of other products worth mentioning making the late night informercial rounds: The Yudu - Tabletop do-it-yourself screen printing. Make your own t-shirts! The Fein Multimaster - I still don't know what this thing is. All I know is that it was being used purely for destruction. At one point in the infomercial, the spokespeople are informed that the pile of rubble in the room into which they have just walked took several days to create. They then proceed to use the Fein Multimaster to demonstrate how the same pile of rubble could have been created in mere minutes! It was awesome!" And that's it from the sleep-deprived NBIL. A few notes: 1) Don't blame the NBIL for the lack of paragraph breaks. That's on me. 2) The government would want you to know that the NBIL is not being paid by any informercial tycoon nor endorsing any product, and neither am I. 3) I will probably be tempted to look up the Fein Multimaster tomorrow and give you the lowdown.

Robert Schumann Played It Again

"Asked what a piece of his music meant, Robert Schumann played it again." I found that in THE GENIUS OF SHAKESPEARE by Jonathan Bate. Bate also wrote a fascinating biography of the poet John Clare. That is all the information I have for you today.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fair Kitty


I checked out a book from the library. It's from 1893 - not a reprint or a later edition, an actual physical object manufactured in 1893: THE GHOST WORLD by T. F. Thiselton Dyer. If you are interested in the state of ghost studies in 1893, this is probably the book for you, I guess. Each chapter has a terrific title. Chapter X is an examination of "The Headless Ghost." There follows an entire chapter on "Phantom Butterflies" (big in Cornwall and Slavonia, apparently). In the former, we get a quotation from Sir Walter Scott on "a spectre at Drumlanrick Castle, of no less a person than the Duchess of Queensbury - 'Fair Kitty, blooming, young and gay' - who... amuses herself with wheeling her own head in a wheelbarrow through the great gallery."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Like You, Headline


There was a headline in the New York Times today: "A Maine Antiques Dealer Rethinks His Aesthetic." A headline! Somehow it made me happy to see that as a headline in a newspaper. And then the Maine antiques dealer said something great: "I think I’m more and more attracted to things that aren’t worth anything." I was reminded of my old "blogging" mentor Chuang Tzu.

Fancy Pants

As promised, Megan Abbott sent me a book with some spicy Bob details in it. Like his mistress who wanted help with her living expenses and received "a couple of lousy jars of cheap jam!" (The exclamation point is direct from the mistress, and rightfully so.) She visited him on the set of FANCY PANTS! (That exclamation point is mine.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oatmeal Tips


At last! It's the return of our long neglected, most important feature, "Oatmeal Tips." Let me turn it over to Phil Oppenheim, who writes, "This just in: a new oatmeal food cart has opened in downtown Portland." Not only that, but the oatmeal cart has a "blog." Do you like oatmeal and live in Portland? Then consider this your "oatmeal tip"! Send oatmeal tips to "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Difficulties of a Visiting Mesmerist


My memory of that Walt Whitman book by David S. Reynolds was correct: cantankerous pigs roamed free in the streets of New York. I found them in the index, under "animals, street." Writes Reynolds: "Manhattan and Brooklyn had a terrible problem with animals in the streets. Hogs rooted in the garbage that was heaped in the gutters. Efforts to remove them were repeatedly thwarted, because, in the absence of systematized garbage removal, they were useful as scavengers." Reynolds goes on to quote a visiting British mesmerist (!) who complains that the pigs have taken over not only the streets but "the sidewalks, frequently stopping the pedestrian in his course, and not unfrequently tripping people of meditation upon their noses." Before moving on to the problem of cows in the streets, Reynolds reminds us that "Charles Dickens in AMERICAN NOTES drew an amusing sketch of trying to cross Broadway while negotiating with eight fat sows."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lest

Lest anyone think I am equating Lady Gaga with a pig or Marvin Hamlisch with a chicken, I should remind the world that I have gone back to my preferred "blog" practice of illustrating each "post" with an old, randomly selected picture.

Pig City Resolution


I have been wondering in what way a pork dish might be considered "City Chicken" (as recounted in a recent lively tale of the boyhood of Phil Oppenheim). At first it seemed to me that a pig was as rural at heart as any chicken (see GREEN ACRES). But then I started thinking about what Carl Sandburg said, something about Chicago being "hog-butcher to the world," right? And Chicago is a city. And I seemed to remember something in the David S. Reynolds biography of Walt Whitman that I read a long time ago, something about herds (broods?) of big, dangerous pigs just running around in the streets of Manhattan in the 19th century, but I'm too tired to look it up.

This Chicken Is Pork


Something I wrote in the new Oxford American made Phil remember a treat of his young adulthood in Binghamton, NY, a treat called "city chicken." Writes Phil, "City Chicken is not really from the 'city' (we're talking the southern tier of New York State here, less than an hour from beautiful downtown Scranton, Pa.), and it is not really chicken (it's pork)." As corroboration, Phil sends this "link" to the restaurant where he used to get his city chicken.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Margarine Viduity


Going back to random illustrations now, which is fitting, because I was just thinking about the terror of words coming loose from their objects, or the actuality of objects overpowering words, or something like that, you know, the regular things I think about, issues explored by William Faulkner and Little Lulu, as previously examined on the "blog," and you know that new Sam Shepard book I am loving so much and gradually quoting in its entirety right here on the "blog"? There's a passage in which a character recalls an incident from his childhood in which he suffered "confusion about naming a thing. My mother became very alarmed about it and marched me over to the icebox. She threw the door open and began hauling out things like a cube of margarine, for instance, holding it up close to my face and demanding that I pronounce the name of it... I called it 'majesty.'" Makes me think of Beckett, too. Like that part in KRAPP'S LAST TAPE when he's suddenly unsure about "viduity," which, when you think about it, is understandable, I mean, when does "viduity" ever come in normal conversation? So never mind, but there's other stuff like that in Beckett, too, trust me. Hey, and wasn't there an old commercial in which a guy would eat margarine and a crown would appear on his head because the margarine was so good that it made him feel like a potentate of limitless power? Maybe that's where the majesty comes in. You're welcome, Sam Shepard! Speaking of naming things, why do I perversely continue to call it "that new Sam Shepard book" and never give you its name? It's called DAY OUT OF DAYS.

Megan Abbott's Charming Euphemism

Megan Abbott is mailing me a book containing a passage about what "a rake" (to use her charming euphemism) Bob Hope was. I'll let you know!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Like I Said

Here are the opening and closing credits of the aforementioned kids' show called HOT DOG, starring Woody Allen and Jo Anne Worley (!):

All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up

It's time once again for "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up," your only source for hot entertainment news on the "internet." Today, McNeil sends in a clip from THE TONIGHT SHOW, circa 1971. You know how I'm always saying that Woody Allen loves Bob Hope, and I say it over and over like I'm trying to prove something, and nobody cares? Well, here's the proof. It's Woody hosting THE TONIGHT SHOW with Bob as his guest. In this clip, Woody hawks Corn Flakes, which is kind of interesting to think about. In a prior clip, which you can also watch on the youtube (along with the entire episode), Woody casually mentions the sort of amazing fact that he was once on a kids' show called HOT DOG. News to me! But that's the kind of scoop you expect from "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up." Until next time, keep "reaching" for the "stars"!

Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner


Welcome once more dear friends to Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner. This is why we love Dr. "M.": She noted that Chip from TV's KATE AND ALLIE was on the most recent episode of LOST. Her skeptical husband, the mysterious farmer, advised her to double check with the imdb. And guess what Dr. "M." discovered on imdb (in addition to confirmation of her unerring eye for the forgotten sitcom characters of yesteryear)? That her husband, the mysterious farmer, is ON THERE. ON THE IMDB. He (the Farmer) was in a documentary called FARM! (the exclamation point is part of the title, we are happy to report). FARM! with an exclamation point is the best name ever for a documentary about farming. Do not worry: we are not revealing the farmer's true identity. Why, he could be any one of the farmers listed in the credits, you never know. Part of me wants to get back to illustrating the "blog" with completely random pictures. The other part of me wants to find a promotional photo of the cast of KATE AND ALLIE.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Make Way For Tomorrow


This nice picture comes from the twitter account of Michael Kupperman. Also on twitter, I have just learned that Alex Chilton, glorious light of Big Star, has passed away. There is something essentially wrong with twitter yet I know I am an old codger who must make way for tomorrow.

Chuckles


I was reading a restaurant review in the New York Times. A squab tastes like "illicit rides in late-night cabs." Watch your back, it's the Travis Bickle of squabs! In the same paragraph, a lamb loin "is low-whistle-and-chuckles food." Both descriptions are positive in context, very positive, in fact. I have not been so excited since the "explosive percussive burst that has the glistening texture of sunlight on a snowfield."

Bad Rap Song About LOST In the Works

Barry B. is working on a "(bad) rap song" about LOST. He sent me the awesome first verse, which I am not at liberty to divulge. The structure is loosely based on "Colors" by Ice T, Barry B. reveals, conceding, "We may be a season or two late."

Chicken Confirmation

Once again, "Blog" Buddy Chicken is the only one to weigh in on an important issue. She says that's DEFINITELY Sam Shepard playing drums with Ruth Buzzi. I couldn't believe my own eyes, but I believe hers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Piano In a Flood

How about this description of a piano in a flood?: "It must've busted out through a window or something, but there it was - kind of rocking back and forth like a little white city all its own." Soon I will have typed out the entirety of Sam Shepard's new book right here on the "internet." Later: "Then, bam! - here it pops up again, white and shiny with its teeth grinning out at us."

Innuendoes Aplenty

Leave it to Michael, one of the editors of Kitty Snacks, to bring everything together, and by "everything" I mean Sam Shepard and Ruth Buzzi. This kind young man (who says he is rereading AS I LAY DYING because of our recent "posts" about Little Lulu; the "blog" has a positive impact on human life!) sends along a clip (below). Sam Shepard was in this band at one time, says Michael, though I do not see him here. However, I like to squint my eyes and pretend. Or I don't know, maybe that IS him keeping time and horsing around with Buzzi. The passage of life confuses me. No, wait, it's Sam for sure! Sam and Ruth. Check out that distinctive profile at 1:12. But this is a "blog" and it doesn't matter if I'm right. As Michael warns, be prepared for Buzzi's saucy innuendoes. If you do not enjoy saucy innuendoes, this may not be the clip for you!

C-Spandemonium!

Welcome once again to "C-Spandemonium!" I read in the New York Times today that C-Span is making its archives available online. I am going to go crazy on that stuff. I assume that this is the happiest day in "C-Spandemonium!" founder and director emeritus James Whorton, Jr.'s life.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nowhere Is a Word

"Nowhere but the heavens," said the original guy. I think old Sam made a good edit.

1620


More about that new Sam Shepard book: IT IS THE MOST AMAZING COINCIDENCE IN THE WORLD OF HUMAN PEOPLE that he mentions Jerry Lewis on page 19 and Bob Hope on page 119. Look at that symmetry! What else? Well, the Bob Hope reference is unflattering. Mr. Shepard seems guilty of confusing the politics with the art, and who can blame him? So did the one guy who wrote that other book. So did the National Park Service. And yes, I said "art." Forget the "random picture rule." I am going to find a nice, new one of Bob. And stick it in Sam Shepard's face! Even though I love him. I bet Flannery O'Connor, whom Sam Shepard probably loves, was a million times more conservative than Bob Hope. There is a section of the Shepherd book called "Nephophobia." It means "fear of clouds." You know how the "blog" loves clouds. And it reminded me about something from my book that will never, ever apparently be published - actually, something from an early draft: "I wonder that there was never an ancient vogue for reading clouds. It seems to be something they overlooked. They would have called it nuagology." That was a line of dialogue from a character called Pearlie Withers, who was edited out anyway. And I guess according to Sam Shepard they would have called it nephology, which is actually a lot better. Finally, Sam Shepard quotes a "Separatist leader at Plymouth, 1620": "Our dwelling is but a wandering, and our abiding is but a fleeting, and in a word our home is nowhere."

I Like Sam

From that new Sam Shepard book: "I don't know about that one either - actually having a piece of writing change your life. I doubt it. Maybe for a spell. A day or two, but your whole life? I find that hard to believe."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy

Jerry Lewis pops up on page 19 of the new Sam Shepard book. It makes me happy to think about Sam Shepard thinking about Jerry Lewis.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Better

This partial panel (lifted from the same source) does a better job than the last one of illustrating the Faulkner/Little Lulu confluence much remarked on by scholars of our day and I think there's some Beckett or somebody in there too:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Addie Bundren's Pesky Neighbor Alvin


One of my smart students was talking about how Addie in AS I LAY DYING "kills her husband by repeating his name." Here's Faulkner: "He did not know that he was dead, then. Sometimes I would lie by him in the dark, hearing the land that was now of my blood and flesh, and I would think: Anse. Why Anse. Why are you Anse. I would think about his name until after a while I could see the word as a shape, a vessel, and I would watch him liquefy and flow into it like cold molasses flowing out of the darkness into the vessel, until the jar stood full and motionless: a significant shape profoundly without life like an empty door frame; and then I would find I had forgotten the name of the jar." Well, that reminded me of a Little Lulu story by John Stanley. It's collected in THE TOON TREASURY OF CLASSIC CHILDREN'S COMICS, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, if you want to read it. Little Lulu's pesky neighbor Alvin notes that "'Foot' is a funny word!" His observation instigates a panel in which Little Lulu says, "Foot... Foot... Foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot... If you say it over and over again, it doesn't mean foot anymore." Alvin replies, "'Foot' is a funny word for a foot." In the next panel, Little Lulu says, "Foot! Foot! Foot! Foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot!" Alvin says, "Foot! Foot! Foot! Foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot, foot!" And that's just on page 2 of a relentlessly escalating five-page story. Hey, look, I found someone else "blogging" about the same Little Lulu story! And the wonderful panels he reproduced will now cause me to break my "random picture rule" - designed to save my computer from blowing up - for the eighth time in a row.

Everything Is Great


Michael Kupperman owns a copy of HUGGER-MUGGER IN THE LOUVRE - a statement that requires no exclamation point! Because wouldn't he? He says (in reference to the same recent "blog" "post") that SALT AND PEPPER inspired one of his comics. Speaking of which, "Blog" Buddy Pamela found that elusive image of the novelization in question and passed it on. So everything is great!

No Ampersand For You


The same BELIEVER feature showing Jerry Lewis on the cover of a paperback also gives us the cover of the SALT AND PEPPER novelization by someone named Alex Austin. So I did a "Google Image Search" for salt and pepper paperback alex austin, but this (above) popped up instead. I don't know why. I wanted to show you the SALT AND PEPPER novelization. There's an ampersand on the cover! But now you have to buy THE BELIEVER to see it. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy HUGGER-MUGGER IN THE LOUVRE in its stead.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

LiterJerry Matters


Hello! Welcome once again to our dreaded listing of "Literary Matters." As you know, sometimes our literary matters concern Jerry Lewis, which makes them ever so slightly more palatable. At such times we hilariously call them "LiterJerry Matters." Today there is one "LiterJerry Matter" and one thing that is not a "LiterJerry Matter." So get ready. 1) Laura Lippman would like to announce that she has dibs on "and you will sit on the dirty seats you create" as a title for something. I think to make the title extra classy you need to include the ellipsis from the original: "... and you will sit on the dirty seats you create." Don't you agree? Isn't it classier? With the dot dot dot? Laura thinks it sounds like Faulkner, or part of a Bible verse Faulkner would have quoted in a title. I agree! 2) An image of Jerry Lewis appears in the current issue of THE BELIEVER! He is represented on the cover of a movie-tie-in paperback edition of VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET by Gore Vidal. I'm sure Gore was thrilled. He's so easygoing! I am starting to think that THE BELIEVER is the nation's number one publication when it comes to mentioning Jerry. The New York Times does it a lot, sure, but the New York Times comes out every day, so really they are missing more opportunities than they are nabbing. THE BELIEVER comes out just ten times a year, I think, and they manage to mention Jerry pretty frequently, so when you do the math, I don't know. I'm not good at math.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"and you will sit on the dirty seats you create."


This is really a new edition of "Hot News From Chicago," our popular continuing series in which our friend Judge takes pictures of things she sees in Chicago and sends them in so we can share them with the world. But we gave it a new title just for the day, also the title of the email Judge sent, also a line from the office bathroom notice - in an old factory building - of which Judge has taken a picture. Can you read it? I hope it is big enough for you to read. I do not know how to make things bigger on a computer. I will transcribe it for you if necessary, but you will still miss some of the action, because some phrases are typed in red ink for emphasis. Judge annotates: "I can almost feel the polyester in the air of the office it was typed in. A seething polyester rage." Well put, Judge. A queen of the verbal as well as pictorial arts!

Shenanigans Aplenty

Ha ha ha! Larry King is up to his old shenanigans again. Warning: don't "click" if you are not a fan of shenanigans!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Oedipus Has iPhone (and Rage)

"Oedipus Has iPhone (and Rage)" is the headline of a current New York Times theater review. I haven't read it. Sometimes I just like to read the headlines.

Another Classic Betwittering

We have another classic betwittering from the twitter account of Larry King.

And the Jasper Goes To...


I know everyone is eager to find out if I mercilessly crushed my little sister in our annual Oscars-guessing contest. I am happy to announce that I did (unlike last year). The score was 15-11. I want to thank my nephew Jasper for being born and keeping my sister up a lot so she can't think straight. I couldn't have done this without you, Jasper!

A Python Bit My Brother

A python bit my brother! I know, they usually squeeze. So my brother was lucky. If you consider a python bite lucky.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Award For Best Carpet


I have been flooded with telegrams demanding a full report on the 2nd Annual McNeil's Movie Korner Film Festival. Let me put your anxious minds at rest. The festival began as promised with THE VILLAIN, followed by THE ERRAND BOY, a screener of A SERIOUS MAN, THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE, HOME FROM THE HILL (filmed in part right here in Oxford, including a scene inside City Grocery when it was a grocery store), LET IT RIDE, and MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE. (I think the occasion demands some new, non-random illustrations.) Well, THE VILLAIN got things off to an abominable start, even though it featured cameos by "blog" objects of curiosity Foster Brooks and Ruth Buzzi. The term "thankless role" was invented for Ann-Margret, whose job in the film is to try gamely, though with evident exhaustion and diminishing returns, to get some simulacrum of a human response from her main acting partner Arnold Schwarzenegger. On the plus side, if you still have any doubts that Jerry Lewis is a genius, watch THE VILLAIN and then watch THE ERRAND BOY. Both films become, at some point, a series of independent vignettes. THE VILLAIN will help you appreciate the imagination with which Jerry sets up and shoots each standalone gag in THE ERRAND BOY. Even the ones that don't quite work are eminently bizarre, ambitious, and personal, as opposed to the flat anonymity of the former film. While there was no pervasive theme to this year's festival, such as "Psychiatrists and Turtlenecks," you can already sense to your great delight that there were small connections from one film to the next, and you are so excited that I am about to tell you what they were. For example, THE ERRAND BOY and A SERIOUS MAN both included the word "tsuris" in their scripts. THE ATOMIC SUBMARINE and HOME FROM THE HILL, while the production values and levels of awareness could not have been more different, were heavy on the Freud. In the former, there's a (SPOILER ALERT) long, cylindrical, threatening (partially bulbous?) one-eyed creature who gets his eye shot out! Okay? In HOME FROM THE HILL, George Hamilton and George Peppard love walking around with their shirts unbuttoned almost to their navels, a fashion statement repeated three decades later in LET IT RIDE by David Johansen of the New York Dolls, who plays "Loony." A prominent bit player goes for a similar look. At one point in LET IT RIDE, Richard Dreyfuss breaks the fourth wall, looks straight into the camera, and says (I think) "Am I having a great day or what?" This, of course, is a technique pioneered by MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE star Bob Hope, such utterances most often occurring under potentially salacious circumstances, as indeed is the case in LET IT RIDE. I can hear you asking, "But what about carpet? We know how much McNeil loves good carpet in his movies." Yes, we should start giving out an award for Best Carpet. We'll call it the Carpie. This year's Carpie goes to A SERIOUS MAN. "Love that carpet," McNeil said while watching the film. He had some exactly like it when he was a kid. "I used to roll marbles on the flat part," he reported.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Explaining My Unicorn Pin to Hendrik Hertzberg

Last night Hendrik Hertzberg asked me about my unicorn pin, so I was obliged to babble earnestly on and on about what a complex problem it is to truly explain the significance of my unicorn pin while Hendrik Hertzberg stood there thinking "I could be in New York right now!"

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

What Happened to Pirates

My friend Michael, who is one of the editors of Kitty Snacks, has put up an eloquent memory of Barry. It is grouped with some others. Michael quotes from Barry's syllabus, of which here is a part: "Why does lack of action, red-blooded emotion, plague graduate school fiction? This old flag has waved too long. What happened to pirates, storms, fiends, horror, temptresses with cleavage, lies, theft, greed, lust, random acts of meaningless (or meaningFUL) violence?"

Mighty Powers


Phil sent a nice article from a "web" site called boingboing. I have been to that "web" site before, to see a painting ("click" here) of unicorns in outer space, of course. So, the article Phil sent is about the Mekons song "Memphis Egypt" - Theresa's favorite Mekons song, and one of the very first things I ever "blogged" about on the "blog," even before I knew what a "blog" was or understood its mighty powers.

A Friendlier Puddle


I ran into my friend from the Audubon Society last night. She told me about saving some salamander eggs! She used words such as "slab" and "gelatinous" to describe the eggs, and other words and gestures which likewise put me in mind of a theory of Sartre's we have discussed on the "blog." The salamanders had placed their eggs in an incommodious puddle, one that was drying up, to the detriment of said eggs. So my friend and her friend gathered the eggs and deposited them in a friendlier puddle. The salamanders have their reasons for using puddles that might dry up - no fish will eat the eggs, for example. But there are drawbacks. Luckily for the salamanders, there are people like my friend, people who walk around in the woods looking for drying-up puddles containing gelatinous slabs of salamander eggs, and don't mind touching them.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Go Home and Dig It

Since the unfair passing of Barry Hannah, friend of the "blog" Brian Z. has been wisely focused on the last part of Barry's short story "Midnight and I'm Not Famous Yet." I'd like to quote it here (please forgive my lack of paragraph breaks): "We were at the John Whitelaw vs. Whitney Maxwell playoff together. It was a piece of wonder. I felt thankful to the wind or God or whoever who brought that fine contest near enough by. When they hit the ball, the sound traveled like a rifle snap out over the bluffs. When it was impossible to hit the ball, that is exactly when they hit it. My aunt grabbed hold of my fingers when the tension was almost up to a roar. The last two holes. Ah, John lost. I looked over the despondency of the home crowd. Fools! Fools! I thought. Love it! Love the loss as well as the gain. Go home and dig it. Nobody was killed. We saw victory and defeat, and they were both wonderful."

Monday, March 01, 2010

That's Right

Speaking of the great Sonny Rollins, he was just awarded a MacDowell medal. How did I find out? His twitter account. That's right, I said Sonny Rollins has a twitter account.