Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brick Sullivan Fan Club

McNeil has been prowling the less traveled corners of the imdb again, and now he wants to start a Brick Sullivan fan club. Who's in? Here is a relatively small sample of Brick Sullivan's acting work as catalogued by imdb: "Police Car Driver (uncredited), Cop (uncredited), Bartender, Policeman (1 episode), Policeman (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Cop (uncredited), Police Officer Grant (uncredited), Arresting Policeman at Derrick Cafe (uncredited), Bartender (uncredited), Uniformed Officer, Policeman, Police Stenographer (uncredited), Croupier (uncredited), Policeman in Conga Line (uncredited), Harry the Cop (uncredited), Bartender (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Cop (uncredited), Cop (uncredited), Deputy Sheriff Kelly (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Croupier [again! -ed.] (uncredited), Bartender (uncredited), Joe the Bartender (uncredited), Saloon Waiter (uncredited), Planetarium Guard (uncredited), Policeman in "Singin' in the Rain" Number (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Cop Outside Fight Arena (uncredited), Cop in Church (uncredited), Cop (uncredited), Police Chauffeur (uncredited), Railroad Detective (uncredited), Man on Street in Pre-Title Credits Sequence (uncredited), Detective (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Customs Officer (uncredited), Policeman on Street (uncredited), Man Being Deputized (uncredited), Cop (uncredited), Policeman at Station House (uncredited), Man with Pail of Beer (uncredited), Police Detective (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Cop at Gas Station (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Detective (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Detective (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Detective Lieutenant (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Policeman on Street (uncredited), Policeman #11 (uncredited), Policeman Departing HQ (uncredited), Cop (uncredited), Umpire (uncredited), Iceman (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Murdered Policeman (uncredited), Police Detective (uncredited), Umpire (uncredited), Cop (uncredited), Officer Calladay (uncredited), Cop (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Detective (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Cop (uncredited), Policeman Leaving Stationhouse (uncredited), Detective Lt. Franklin, Officer (uncredited), Deputy Marshal (uncredited), Policeman at Cemetery (uncredited), Coast Guard Policeman (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Ranger (uncredited), New York Cop (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Cop in Nightclub (uncredited), Cop eating Ice Cream (uncredited), Policeman (uncredited), Police Driver (uncredited), Flintwood Policeman (uncredited), Policeman Jasper (uncredited), Cop at Stage Door (uncredited), Darryl - Police Officer (uncredited), Policeman at Boat Dock (uncredited), Policeman at Cleveland Air Field (uncredited), Policeman in Bank (uncredited), Milton the Policeman (uncredited), Smiling Cop in Central Park (uncredited)." I got tired at some point and left out a bunch of Brick Sullivan's uncredited policeman roles, possibly I left out dozens. He also played "Townsman" (five times!), "Laughing Sailor," and how could we forget "Helpful Man"? Gosh, I've given him a lot of grief, but as I look closely at the list, if imdb is right about this being him, the frame below shows Brick Sullivan in his most famous uncredited policeman role, with Gene Kelly in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. He has an important part, really, bringing the central sequence - one of the greatest in film history - to a beautiful close. So stop making fun of Brick Sullivan! Appropriately for a performer of such dogged anonymity, the "internet" gives us the back of his head.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Lippfrankmanlinfest

Every year there is a noticeable gap in excitement between October 5, which is McNeil's birthday, and October 7, the date upon which Dr. Theresa and myself sanctified our blessed union. Poor October 6! Nobody celebrates anything then... until now! That's right, the rumors are true: Lippfrankmanlinfest is upon us! Tom Franklin and Laura Lippman both have new novels, and they will be reading together at Off Square Books on that heretofore misbegotten eve, now redeemed. Laura Lippman suggests that a better name for the event would be Franklippmania, to which I would only add an exclamation point (FRANKLIPPMANIA!) and yes, that sounds very exciting, but Lippfrankmanlinfest is more fun to say like Jerry Lewis, which was the deciding factor, of course. Related: I just heard that Tom is to be interviewed on NPR's WEEKEND EDITION Sunday. Looks like Lippfrankmanlinfest is coming early this year!

Mom's Movie Boyfriend

Mom is sad that Tony Curtis died. "He was my movie boyfriend," she just said in a telephone conversation. In other words, he was her first movie star crush. I think it was TRAPEZE that did it, though we didn't discuss those particulars just now. "I can't believe he was 85," she said. "He should have always been 23." I thought that was nice. But then she said, "When I saw him interviewed in later years, he didn't seem like he had much sense." Still, she has a vague memory that he may have gone on a game show in the 50s and donated his winnings to the "Helping Hand Club" of Anniston, Alabama, her hometown, so her reflections ended on a positive note. She said she's going to look through a box of old papers and see if she can confirm that game show story. A box of old papers! That's what we did before Google, kids. Our Google was a box of old papers.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lippfrankmanlinfest Approacheth

"Blog" Buddy Tom Franklin gets a great review for his new novel in today's Washington Post. The novel (CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER by name) also made the cover of the brand new "Indie Next." That reminds me! It is almost time for Lippfrankmanlinfest 2010! You know what that is. You don't? Just wait!

None of Your Business

Last week or maybe it was two weeks ago I accidentally saw part of that show PARENTHOOD, which stars Lauren Graham and tries to make you think it is the GILMORE GIRLS, but that is a trick because it is not! But the part of the show I saw seemed to be about Lauren Graham inventing a new kind of shoe. I'm not making that up! Well, that would be all right! Is it about Lauren Graham inventing a new kind of shoe? Because I would totally watch a show about Lauren Graham inventing a shoe. It was hard to tell whether that was a large enough part of the plot to make me happy. It came on again last night, but it was up against an all new episode of THE GOOD WIFE. Was the good wife still good? What does it mean to be good? What is goodness? Is it okay to be a bad wife? What does that mean? Where does the husband come in? These are some of the questions THE GOOD WIFE promised to answer. Which show to watch? I don't know! Which one did I watch? One? Both? Neither? Did I change my mind in the middle? Why do you care? Are you crazy? Leave me alone! Don't worry about it. It is none of your business! None of this is any of your business!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Circle of Life

Speaking of Bob Hope, that's Tom Neal in the previous publicity still, and he had a volatile and passionate relationship with Barbara Payton (pictured), who appears as a character in Megan Abbott's novel THE SONG IS YOU and furthermore happens to be the Bob Hope mistress who was once paid off in jars of jam (!) as recounted in a paperback Megan once sent me in the mail, and now Megan and I can be found discussing all our problems on Amanda Stern's "blog," many of them involving Bob Hope. It's the circle of life!

Poor Eddie Hall

McNeil decided to look up an actor named Eddie Hall on imdb after seeing him in a small part in DETOUR. "He died when he was only 51! Probably from so much strenuous acting," speculates McNeil. "I laughed out loud (LOL) when I read some of his roles," McNeil concludes. Here's a sample of what tickled McNeil's funny bone: "Sideshow Audience Member (uncredited), Party Guest (scenes deleted), Bored Football Star in Classroom (uncredited), Airplane Mechanic/Man watching Hula Dancers (uncredited), Man Buying Newspaper (uncredited), Sailor Talking About Lola (uncredited), Man asking about Irene (uncredited)." And really, it just goes on and on like that. Many of his gigs were Bob Hope movies. This publicity still for DETOUR does not feature Eddie Hall.

Subscribe, Subscribers!

Have you subscribed to a magazine yet, the way I told you to? Maud Newton agrees! She says you should subscribe to THE PARIS REVIEW, and even provides a top secret way to get a discount by mentioning her name! But does THE PARIS REVIEW have a gremlin smoking a cigarette on the cover? GIANT ROBOT does! I leave the decision in your hands.

"Blog's" Winning Streak Continues

As you will recall, association with the "blog" assures you a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant. There can be no dispute! The "blog" is pleased to announce that it has been instrumental in acquiring one for "blog" associate David Simon. No one deserves it more. Stick with the "blog" and your genius grant is practically in the mail!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Read It Up, Kids

My GIANT ROBOT magazine came in the mail today. That's right, I did what I said I was going to do and subscribed to GIANT ROBOT magazine. I am about to tear it open and go crazy reading it all up. Remember these two important lessons, kids: 1) always do what you say you are going to do and 2) subscribe to a magazine. Why not? It is the least you can do for magazines after everything they did for you. Now swear to it! Swear on the "blog"!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Shelton Style

"Blog" Buddy Lynn Shelton directed tonight's episode of MAD MEN, and it was a big one, with plenty of action and emotion, Shelton style! I am trying not to ruin it for you, but **** got whacked in the **** with a *****! Remember, kids: wherever there is adventure and excitement you're sure to find a "Blog" Buddy close at hand.

Four A.M. Chuck

Also there is an infomercial where Chuck Woolery tells you how to go to sleep and it comes on at four in the morning which is clever when you think about it. At one point Chuck Woolery says, "And now we are going to get into a helicopter and visit a surprising guest who can't sleep!" And his sidekick says, "Why are we getting into a helicopter?" And Chuck Woolery says, "Because this is a show and we have a budget," which seems like a rude answer to a reasonable question, though Chuck Woolery does not invest it with any detectable ill will. In fact, it occurs to me that Chuck may have asked the producer, "Hey, don't we need a line here to explain why we're getting on a helicopter?" and the producer was like, "Just get on the helicopter, Chuck," and Chuck Woolery was like, "I think my fans will want to know why I am flying on a helicopter to meet our special guest who can't sleep, I mean, why can't the guy just meet us at the studio? It feels weird to me," and the producer grudgingly inserted the lines in question almost as an insult to Chuck Woolery! He probably scribbled them onto a script with a magic marker and shoved them in Chuck Woolery's hands and said, "There! Happy now?" I hate to think this!

Foot Stink Guy

Hey, remember that actor I told you about who is in an infomercial about a thing you put in your shoe so you walk better and feel better and your feet don't stink? I was just "flipping around" on the "TV" and I saw him in FATAL ATTRACTION, I am pretty sure. He was standing by a desk wearing glasses and looking at some important papers importantly. And then the two people who are fatally attracted walk by and he gives them a subtle look, like, "Hey, I wonder what is up with them! Are they fatally attracted or what?"

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Zero Availability

Hey, I have suddenly figured out how to make some good money off of my novel SHUT UP, UGLY which was supposed to be published but never was. Are you a lawyer? Do you enjoy destroying behemoths? Then listen up! Over there at the behemoth, they have a page advertising my novel, which does not exist. The page proclaims that the novel is "out of print" and has "limited availability." I beg to differ! It has never been in print, so it cannot be "out of print." It has zero availability, I might add. To suggest otherwise is a slur upon me as a gentleman! It may also discourage any publisher foolhardy enough otherwise to grab up this priceless jewel which was so timely three years ago when I filled it with its masterful Zac Efron references. Through its sloppy and malicious practices, the behemoth has made it appear as though my novel has gone out of print in mere months (for some reason they list February 2010 as the publication date), thereby damaging my "standing" in the "literary world." They even assign me a sales ranking, which as of this "post" is 9,404,295. Certainly an affront to my dignity and an unfair stain upon my reputation as a professional, as there should be no sales ranking at all! HOW CAN PEOPLE BUY SOMETHING THAT NEVER EXISTED? As you are aware, no humans are employed by the behemoth and it is staffed entirely by robots who do not understand our human emotions. Sometimes one of them will feel strange stirrings in his or her circuitry and say, "Is this what it means... to love?" But that is as close as they get. So that is a challenge! But if you are a lawyer who is not afraid of robots, get in touch! (Pictured: Zac Efron or a soulless robot. You decide!)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Human Dynamics

Finished BULLET PARK - very enjoyable - and started GRINGOS by Charles Portis, which makes me happy and sad - happy because I am reading a Charles Portis novel and sad because it is the last existing Charles Portis novel I have not read. Maybe he will write some more novels! It has been a while, but maybe he will get the itch. I just wanted to note that GRINGOS, like BULLET PARK, has UFOs in it. Look, here's part of a paragraph from early in the first chapter of GRINGOS: "Louise and Rudy were graduates of some college in Pennsylvania and had come down here to investigate flying saucer landings. Her degree was in Human Dynamics. Rudy had one, a dual degree, he said, in City Planning and Mass Communications. First he would build the city and then he would tell everybody about it in the approved way."

Cheever Packaging

I am a little bewildered at the marketing of John Cheever by Vintage Books, a division of Random House. First they give away the big third-act surprise of BULLET PARK on the back cover. Now I notice that the last page of the book is an advertisement for two other Cheever novels. That's fine! But I am not sure the blurb choice is doing Mr. Cheever any favors. For example, "Read it and be ennobled." No thanks! And here's a classic: "A luminous epiphany of life." That one makes me feel as if a friend just told me there's a huge spider on my back. Get it off! Get it off!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

To Have a Happy Life

Incredible! I am sure you recall the pivotal action alluded to in a veiled way on page 169 of BULLET PARK by John Cheever. It is not referred to openly and with clarity until page 221 - of a 245-page book! Yet THIS is what the wicked marketing department at Vintage Books, a division of Random House, chooses to plaster ACROSS THE BACK COVER OF THE BOOK. I got off easy, reading all the way to page 169 before glancing with sudden morbid curiosity at the promotional copy on the back. But let me reiterate: if you wish to have a happy life, NEVER EVER READ THE BACK COVER OF ANY BOOK.

Beware the Boys In Marketing

Was your trade paperback of BULLET PARK by John Cheever published by Vintage Books, a division of Random House? Then heed this warning: DON'T READ THE BACK! The boys in marketing over at Vintage Books, a division of Random House, have taken it on themselves to try to ruin the book for you. I did not read the back. I just picked up the book from my friendly friends at Square Books and started reading. When I got to page 169 last night, there was the merest hint of an unexpected, action-packed shift in the plot, enough of a hint to make the reader say "WHAT?" and "HOLY SMOKES!" and "NO WAY!" and "I must be going CRAZY!" and "Is THIS what the book's about?" and "HOLY MOLEY!" and "GEEZ LOUISE!" That's when the reader turns over the book and says, "Huh. It IS what the book's about!" and drops dead from amazement. Isn't that a nicer surprise than finding out at the very beginning, when you usually pick up the book at the bookstore and turn it over to read the description of the plot? DON'T! I don't know what's going to happen (I put the book down for the evening shortly after my disappointing look at the back) but it's a short book, and whatever is going to happen is going to happen soon, so not too much of my reading was ruined for me. But had I read the back of the book at the beginning, I would have been reading in a whole different way, my mind focused on the big looming conflict that I knew about the whole time, and I wouldn't have been able to really enjoy the book the way it was meant to be enjoyed. I was lucky. Others are not so fortunate. They read the back. Remember, kids: The boys in marketing may not have your best interests as a reader at heart. Don't read the back. DON'T EVER READ THE BACK. This has been a public service announcement.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This Man Was Never On Bronk

You are eager to know how I slept last night. Not well! Luckily I saw an infomercial that told me how every problem is caused by inflammation but don't worry! Just drink this cactus juice they want to send you. It's hot where cacti live, the infomercial points out. So just imagine their juice! It must help inflammation! And all your problems will go away forever, because everything that is wrong with you can be boiled down to one word: inflammation. Inflammation is "the secret killer" as doctors have noted in national magazines, says the infomercial. But I was confused because another infomercial last night told me that my feet are the cause of all the trouble! What I need is this thing to put in my shoe. It is made partly with "nanosilver." That's better than regular silver! What does nanosilver do? Takes away the stink! But the main thing is that every problem you have comes from your terrible feet, which can be healed by this thing you put in your shoe. The latter infomercial was hosted from the Mall of America by an actor I have seen a million times (pictured). I wonder if he was on BRONK! I will check. He looks like the kind of guy who might have been on BRONK as a youngster. Nope, but he was in THE SAN PEDRO BEACH BUMS! That fact goes out to "D. From Atlanta," who will care. The actor kept saying things like, "That's the way it is right now, in 2008!" The last thing I saw was a former ambassador to the U.N., you know the guy, the one with the funny moustache, yeah, him, on Fox News. He was on a late-night program talking about Lindsay Lohan! And then my TV literally refused to keep working. The satellite shut itself down for "maintenance," I swear. My TV was like, "Enough is enough!" It was like, "I can't take it anymore!"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First the Owl

First the owl, now this: "An unidentified flying object had been seen in Ohio." BULLET PARK by John Cheever has hit two major areas of "blog" interest, or "blinterest," in 64 pages. If my math is correct, there should be a Jerry Lewis reference on page 98. I'll let you know! Because it is Cheever, a "Google Image Search" for aliens at a cocktail party seems appropriate. NEW YORKER here I come! Oh, I don't know, this seems close enough. Maybe even closer!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thank You, Owl

Just when I was worried about the 3D cartoon owls, there's this: "He heard the belling of a wood dove or an owl." I'm reading BULLET PARK by John Cheever and there it is, taking me away from the 3D cartoon owls and back to my literary theory of owls. Maybe the problem is that in the 3D cartoon there are just SO MANY owls, whereas in literature, the owl is often merely hinted at, as in the Cheever quotation above. I will say that I saw a great number of hawks today, a huge number, an almost unbelievable number of hawks, hanging out together in the sky over the woods behind Big Bad Breakfast, so maybe the 3D cartoon movie is more accurate in some quantitative avian way, though as far as I could hear and see the hawks were not talking to one another in human language nor blowing everything up with magic rings of blue fire, which seems to be the plot of the movie.

Enemy of Bronk

In the BRONK episode "Wheel of Death," Bronk's enemy is a motorcycle daredevil! I found that out on the "internet."

Future

A lot of these t-shirts they're selling in the stores these days don't have the tags at the backs of their necks anymore and I can really come out in favor of that, that's one thing about the future I can really get behind, or the present, or whatever we're calling it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Incendiary Owls


According to what I am seeing on the television, I guess they are making a 3D cartoon movie about talking owls who blow things up. What, if anything, will this do to my position on owls? Please don't ruin owls for me! You've taken everything else from me, don't take the owls.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Surprised By Ulrich


"Spell check" on "word doc" recognizes Skeet Ulrich! I know what skeet is in the non-Ulrich sense. But I remain surprised about the Ulrich, which implies that my computer "knows" Skeet Ulrich. Never mind why I have a "word doc" with Skeet Ulrich in it! That is nobody's business but mine and Skeet Ulrich's! Now to see whether I can find an image of Skeet Ulrich using his fingers to enhance his dramatic posing technique like the great actors of yore. Yep! Wow, that was easy. And look how coy! Like, "You want to see my fingers? Okay, but nothing above the knuckle."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Advanced Finger Exercises


I'm torn. At first I was thinking that the John Cassevetes photo I recently put up here was more evidence of the litmus test for great actors: posing for photos "armed" with nothing but the mighty acting power of their fingers a la Jack Palance and Peter Ustinov. But the cigarette is a prop isn't it? So that's cheating. Still, some impressive finger acting going on there, I stand by that.

Put Your Bronk Into It


I am pretty upset. Last night I saw the young woman who eats dry oatmeal and she asked me, "What's Bronk?" WHAT'S BRONK? This indicated that she has paid scant attention to the "blog"! Perhaps she has skimmed it, even! SKIMMED IT! Perhaps she did not patiently "click" back over every single "Bronk link" until she reached the one that introduces BRONK into the lexicon. That's the trouble with the kids these days, always go go go. I hate to think of what the world is coming to. Also, I had to publicly explain BRONK in a group of people, which felt uncomfortable somehow, like talking about my most personal and private ailments of the body and soul! Pictured, BRONK star Jack Palance as Dracula. Or should I say Bronkula? Huh? Huh? Should I?

Obscure Commerce


Don't you want to hear about a commercial I saw in the wee hours when I couldn't sleep? As I have noted before, commercials at that hour are obscurer. This one was for a jewelry store, which is not as obscure as the time I saw the one for the chimney sweep. And I seem to recall a birdseed commercial I saw back in Atlanta one time. Ah yes, I love to sit back and nostalgically consider commercials I have seen. Last night's scene was set in a family garage. Dad was under the car, tinkering away! You know how he is! He rolled out to retrieve something and his son surprised him by asking advice on the subject of marriage proposal. "You need to get down to Riddles Jewelry Store. They have great bargains and the finest quality merchandise. She's worth it," the dad suggested. I am paraphrasing, but that's pretty close. I believe that was the name of the store: Riddles. At the close of his advice, the dad rolled back under the car and called for a wrench. When he rolled back out, his son did not hand him the wrench, for the son had already scooted off to Riddles! The dad looked around, amazed. Then, as the announcer drove home the message about Riddles, we were treated to a pantomime scene of the son at the ring counter, his face aglow with happiness. He was holding the wrench aloft! That's where the wrench went! The son ran so fast to the store that he forgot he was holding the wrench! I could almost hear the director: "Hold it higher! Higher! We have to see the wrench! That's the payoff!" The result was somewhat unnatural for the poor actor required to display the wrench. He probably said, "Why would I be holding the wrench like this?" And the director was like, "You're so excited, you forgot you have it!" And the kid said, "Okay, I guess that could happen, but in that case wouldn't it just be held loosely at my side like this?" And the director said, "Then there's no payoff! The jewelry counter is blocking the shot!" And they argued a little, and the director said, "What are you, John Cassevetes? I can get a hundred other kids in here who will hold the wrench. Just do it!" The unintended consequence was that the final scene in the commercial looked like a jewel store robbery in progress! If the man didn't hand over the goods, the kid was going to slug him with a wrench! That was the general impression. Of course the kid had a big goofy smile plastered on his mug, but maybe he was one of those grinning psychopaths you hear about.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hot Coffee


Did you know that Stella Stevens is from Hot Coffee, Mississippi? Me neither! But if anyone was ever from anywhere more appropriate, I don't know who or where that was. It's a fact I learned from a big gigantic coffee table book called MISSISSIPPIANS, of which there is an advance display copy on view over at Square Books. It is filled with big gigantic glossies of the Mississippians of Mississippi. I also found out that Dr. Theresa's "fave" actor Dana Andrews is from Mississippi! I am not. But somehow I am in the book, so I need to get a copy for my mother. They have a section called "Writers." But they also have a section about nutty kooks who are wacky. That part is called "Colorful Characters." Guess which one I am in. I am not complaining! In fact, I am quite happy and honored to be lumped in with Jerry Clower and Ron Shaprio, my fellow zanies. We're so crazy! Aw, what's the matter, is the sensitive little artiste feeling misunderstood? I promise I am not complaining, because I really want my mother to have this book. And seriously, it is an honor to have one's picture in such a book, out of all the good people in Mississippi who, unlike me, are actual Mississippians. Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I tried to explain the genius of Jerry Clower to Mr. Ward, who is from Connecticut? I kept trying to make the funny noise that Jerry Clower makes. It is like this: "Hrrrroowwwwwh!" Then I got this video editor Ralph (from Arkansas) to start doing it too. We were both doing this: "Hrrooowwwhhh!" Yet Mr. Ward still didn't get it. Ralph tried to tell some stories from Jerry Clower LPs, but it wasn't the same. It's not Ralph's fault! So then we just went "Hwroowwwhhh!" until Mr. Ward could barely take it anymore. Ralph used to say things in normal conversation like, "That would knock a puking dog off a gut wagon," which Mr. Ward enjoyed parsing. (Above, Stevens. Below, Clower.)

Appointment With Death

I see there's a Peter Ustinov movie coming on one of these here movie channels: APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH. And I'm like, "What a terrible appointment to make. Just don't make that appointment!" Problem solved.

If It Ain't Bronk Don't Fix It

BRONK! I bet you thought I forgot about BRONK. But I think about it so much. BRONK. For example, remember when I mentioned a person named Joanna Moore the other day? I just found out she appeared on an episode of BRONK entitled "The Ordeal." Other BRONK episodes included "Wheel of Death," "Echo of Danger" and "Bargain In Blood."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nothing to Nothing


Repressive desublimation is back, and Anthony Braxton's got it! Only he calls it "spectacle diversion syndrome." What's spectacle diversion syndrome? I'm mighty glad you asked! Here is how it is summarized by Graham Lock, author of FORCES IN MOTION: THE MUSIC AND THOUGHTS OF ANTHONY BRAXTON: "the chief means by which alternative or protest movements (like the beatniks and the hippies) are turned into fads and so absorbed into mainstream culture; it creates the illusion of change (fashion) so as to prevent real, fundamental change taking place. It represents the constant movement of 'nothing to nothing.'" Bye! PS Anthony Braxton is against it, of course! Okay, bye!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up


Can it be true? IT IS! It's already time for another "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up," the only place on the "internet" with all the show biz news about the celebrity stars! ITEM! Today is the day we celebrate the birthday of Ms. Joey Heatherton. Kudos to Phil Oppenheim for the timely reminder. ITEM! McNeil keeps sending me scraps of a TV schedule from June 20, 1983. Example: "9am: Ch 3 Donahue - 'Sadomasochism' Guest Wardell Pomeroy, Ph D." They don't make 'em like that anymore, folks! That's all the time we have for "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up." Celebrate Joey Heatherton's birthday with someone you love! And until next time... keep "reaching" for the "stars."

Bronk Frenzy

I have taken to the twitterwaves, whipping a nation hungry for entertainment into a frenzy of BRONK. "Click" here for but one example. Say, do you prefer your BRONK on the lighter side? Stay tuned for my upcoming mass market paperback original "Jokes For Bronk Lovers," coming soon to a drugstore spinner near you.

Honk If You Love Bronk

...would be a great picket sign for our big event to convince the networks to bring back BRONK!

Kitty Gets a Hug


"Click" here for the opening credits of BRONK! Oh, come on! Like you've got something else to do. Jack Palance clamps a pipe in his mouth and checks the chambers of his gun. In each little chamber he sees a tiny version of himself! And one of them is hugging a cat!

Palance Finger

I don't know if you've noticed, but Peter Ustinov and Jack Palance have been doing some interesting things with their fingers on the "blog" lately. None of this posing awkwardly with props like hats and glasses. That's how you can tell the amateurs from the pros. Right before you take their pictures, the pros say, "Wait! What am I going to do with my fingers? Got it!"

Bronk Revival


McNeil and I are going to go down to CBS headquarters or ABC headquarters or wherever it is with some picket signs that say BRING BACK BRONK! I've tried to chant it in a phone message to McNeil, but it is a difficult thing to chant. Maybe one sign will say BRING BACK BRONK and the other will say I'VE GOT BRONK-ITIS! Join us? Or maybe we will draw a devastating editorial cartoon where we are whacking a TV executive over the head with a picket sign and the sound effect is "BRONK!"

Hey Peter Ustinov


Hey! Doesn't this photo of Peter Ustinov suggest "I just thought of some devastatingly brilliant humor about sports car racing"?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Now I Weep


Keep reading great things about my hero Sonny Rollins and his amazing 80th birthday concert. Only reason I haven't "posted" about it is that I'm so sad I didn't see and hear it! Almost too sad to "blog" is how sad. Mr. Rollins played with Ornette Coleman (also 80!) for the first time anyone can remember! Now I go away to weep. I found this nice article ("click" here) thanks to the twitter account of Sonny Rollins (!). One thing I love about it is that if you scroll down, the guy talks about a Peter Ustinov album (!) called "The Brilliant Humorist Takes a Devastating Look at Sports Car Racing." WHAT? But mostly, Sonny Rollins! (Below, Peter Ustinov for some reason.)

All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up


Welcome once again to "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up," your one place on the "internet" for all the latest excitement and happenings of the stars! ITEM! Jack Palance fever sweeps the nation! Yesterday's "blog" "post" about Jack Palance sent a stunned nation scurrying to its keypads. ITEM! Remember the man called Sepsey, who once met Ruth Buzzi at a bookstore? Jack Palance once came into that same bookstore! Reports Sepsey: "When this guy asked Jack Palance for his autograph, Jack Palance [refused, replying], 'I’m not an actor anymore.' ... Yet not two months later, here’s Jack Palance in a mattress commercial. Acting!" ITEM! McNeil has been on the youtube, reliving fond memories of Jack Palance. He sends along a nine-minute clip I defy you to watch! It's from the Johnny Carson show. Jack Palance complains that Steve Allen used to pay him in small television sets instead of money. He explains into which part of a pipe the tobacco is supposed to go. He grudgingly gives faint praise to his television series BRONK, which he is there to promote, though he won't admit it somehow. He talks about a TV show he watched that morning (Barbara Walters interviewing Tennessee Williams!). He tells the same story about where he got his pipe TWICE! The kinds of things that would have been on Jack Palance's "blog." There, now you don't have to watch it. That's it for today from all your friends at "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up." Until next time, keep "reaching" for the "stars"!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Big Year For Gold Lamé Banjo Straps


Recently I was up before dawn watching Porter Wagoner again. He was wearing a red shirt and a green jacket with sparkling yellow ears of corn represented. And for some reason he was holding up a big, scary picture of Jack Palance, which surprised me. Turned out Jack Palance was there to sing some songs! And the big, scary picture was Jack Palance's album cover! So Jack Palance sang "Green, Green Grass of Home." Here is a picture of him singing on the very show. My one regret is that his microphone hand is blocking a proper view of his ascot. His singing voice was not the most accurate in regard to pitch. Sometimes he half-talked it. He was dramatic to make up for his problem staying in tune. For example, "Down the road I look and here comes Mary/ Hair of GOLD! and lips like CHERRIES!/ It's GOOD! to touch the green, green grass of home." Mr. Palance came back out later and sang a song about beating a man to death with a chain! For real! His rhythm slipped and he got a fraction behind the beat but the band just kept plugging along, trying to help him out. He and Porter exchanged the most halfhearted pleasantries I have ever witnessed. Porter had to remind Jack Palance to hold the microphone to his mouth when he talked. On this episode, Porter Wagoner's band wore solid pink suits with white shoes and sparkling purple ties. A featured banjo player had a sparkling golden banjo strap. He did a neat trick in which he would bend the notes his banjo was playing by adjusting the tuning keys while continuing to pick with admirable rapidity. Dolly Parton sang a song. She was great. Her guitar strap appeared to be fashioned of gold lamé. The capsule description of the episode indicated that it was from 1970.

Friday, September 10, 2010

He Said No to Podiatry

What am I saying, "Who's Jack Lawrence?" What an idiot I am! Idiot! I've mentioned him on the "blog" before: he's the guy who decided to become a songwriter instead of a podiatrist. He also wrote the English lyrics to this "blog"-featured ditty ("click" here). So shut your fat face, Pendarvis!

Dewey Defeats Stang


McNeil sends along a clip ("click" here) from youtube, in which Ronald Reagan endorses Harry Truman for president. Is it an interesting historical document? Probably! Who cares? I only got nine seconds in. The first nine seconds, which are all I care about, consist of the announcer saying, "And later, more of 'Serenade to a Presidential Candidate' by Jack Lawrence and Arnold Stang." WHAT? These nine seconds are rife with mystery. For example, why didn't we get to hear any of "Serenade to a Presidential Candidate"? Is it a song? If so, why is it divided into parts? Is it really long, like "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands"? Or is it just so awesome that the prospect of hearing the concluding verses will take us willingly through a dry endorsement? And who is Jack Lawrence? He is so lucky! He gets to hang out with Arnold Stang! And sing with him, I guess! Was Arnold Stang endorsing Harry Truman through the medium of song? It seems likely! After all, the recording seems to be some kind of package deal, moving from Stang's song (?) to Reagan's speech in support of Truman, to which I did not bother to listen because I was so distraught over not getting to hear the singing Stang.

Return of Dargis

What a relief! Manohla Dargis is back in the New York Times today. I was getting worried! That was the longest vacation ever - well over two months! The New York Times must be a cushy spot. Well, our Ms. Dargis deserves it. She did not mention Jerry Lewis today, but it is only a matter of time. Now that she's back, I see Jerry on the horizon.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Jim On Light


I should tell you where I got that last picture of the keyboard of light. It's from a "blog" called "Jim On Light." It's by a guy named Jim and he loves light! That (in the previous "post") is a modern variation on the Scriabin keyboard, utilizing weather balloons. You can see from this photograph I found of the original "keyboard of light" why I chose the former illustration with its vivacity and pizzaz. It adds some color and excitement to my otherwise painfully dull "blog." Hey, isn't this "post" defeating my whole purpose then? Oh well! It's what I do.

Keyboard of Light


Speaking of the end of the world, I know I have mentioned some of these details about Scriabin before, but they are nicely put - with some extra details! - in a footnote I just read in FORCES IN MOTION: THE MUSIC AND THOUGHTS OF ANTHONY BRAXTON by Graham Lock: "The Russian composer Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) had chromesthetic perception, that is he literally 'saw' colours in relation to sounds... For PROMETHEUS: THE POEM OF FIRE he had a colleague build a 'keyboard of light' which played the colours of the music... his meta-composition, MYSTERIUM... would incorporate all the arts, re-create the history of the universe from a mystical perspective, and take the form of a seven-day festival in the Himalayas to climax in the actual destruction of our physical plane of existence, as his music dissolved the world in an abyss of flame." So... wow. Some show! Now, honestly, isn't that enough with the destruction of the physical universe and the abyss and so on? Can't we think some good thoughts? Who's got one? Send your good thought to "Good Thoughts" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

Clarification

Hey, when I said that "two asteroids nearly destroyed life on the planet as we know it," what I really meant was "the objects did not threaten Earth, and could only be seen as tiny specks of light using moderately sized amateur telescopes." That's what CNN wants you to think, anyway!

McNeil Watches the Skies


Thank goodness two asteroids nearly destroyed life on the planet as we know it so I could have something to "blog" about. And thanks to McNeil for the tip! As always, he is watching the skies, McNeil they call him, our one protector against the deadly power of asteroids.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Tony Orlando

I was checking out Emulsion Compulsion's coverage of the Jerry Lewis telethon. "Jenny," a contributor to the comments section, says that Tony Orlando once introduced Bob Hope like so: "If you took all of the smiles this man created in his career and laid them end to end, they would reach all the way to the galaxy and fill up the black hole in space."

Your Favorite Things


If I had to venture a guess about what your two favorite things are, I would say 1) hearing about my trouble sleeping and 2) finding out what I watch on TV when I have trouble sleeping. Okay, you twisted my arm! I am ashamed to say I had forgotten about Jerry's annual telethon, but there it was in the wee hours waiting for me. I happened to tune in as Dean Martin's daughter was singing her father's hit "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime" while giant pictures of him dissolved on a video screen behind her. I found it eerie. But I waited for the end of the number, because I wanted to see Jerry come out and give her a hug or something. Almost like Dean and Jerry together again! But it didn't happen. Jerry's buddy Richard Belzer came out instead. I was happy to see that Belzer was wearing a tux with the bow tie all undone - something very "telethon" about that look. So I switched over to the middle of a Dick Van Dyke movie called NEVER A DULL MOMENT. That is the sort of title that critics love! They can say smart things like "I beg to differ." Oh, critics! I hate you so much. Van Dyke was playing a sort of Jerry Lewis role - a goofy actor who is mistaken for a tough gangster and has to play along... or else! Is it a good movie? Well, I don't know. It didn't seem too good. I don't know! But it chugged along with admirable competence. And this one actor, Joanna Moore, she had a nice scene. She was very lively and put a lot of cheerful work into her small, thankless role, really elevated the lines and executed her task with panache. And I was like, "That's the way to do it, Joanna Moore! You have given me a valuable lesson about doing stuff. I salute you, Joanna Moore! I will look up your name on imdb tomorrow to make sure you get some credit for all the work you have done." Only of course I was thinking stuff like, "You are an inspiration, _______!" Because I didn't know her name at the time. Which is telling! But as you can see, I was as good as my word. It is also telling that my vigorous "Google Image Search" for Joanna Moore in NEVER A DULL MOMENT turned up just one still, and that with the back of her head (pictured). Thankless, as I said! Hollywood is some kind of thankless place for women, isn't it?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

McNeil Tormented By Robots?

McNeil has had a bad cold for several days. Do you want robots "tending" to him as the New York Times suggests? I think not!

You Never Listen About the Robots


I keep telling you and telling you that the New York Times is all about robots now and nothing but robots, robots all the time, but you don't listen to me, you never listen to me, you never listen to me about the robots. But here they come again, the New York Times, with robots in the workplace, that's the theme this time, robots in the workplace, ha ha ha. Yes, they want you to laugh, ha ha ha, and think it is very, very amusing until the robots take over and by then it will be too late. Take a gander at this real sentence from the real article: "Such automated robots could help in caring for a rapidly aging population." That's me and you they're talking about, baby!

Your Gray Vest Is Stained With Tears


Gosh, there is so much to tell you. Like, some magazines came in the mail! I didn't say the "much to tell" was interesting. Maybe some of it is. Let's find out! Oh, well, I have been concerned that maybe you think I made up "The National Clean Up Paint Up Fix Up Bureau" (which I mentioned yesterday) because it sounds so fake. "Click" here, then, for a catalog description from the time Christie's famed auction house was selling a letter from President Johnson to the Director of the National Clean Up Paint Up Fix Up Bureau. Okay? Yes, so, as I was saying, my copies of OXFORD AMERICAN and THE BELIEVER arrived in the mail yesterday. I haven't yet had time to inspect them thoroughly but I have already noticed lots of great things. For example, Michael Kupperman is in the OA. What? Somehow I didn't expect that! It was an unexpected delight! Plus there is a wonderful new short story by Jim Whorton. Best of all, Mr. Whorton's "author bio" at the front announces that he has a new novel coming out next year! That is something to look forward to. John T. Edge contributes another masterful column that will make you hungry, this time on the subject of Buford Highway in Atlanta, where, at "a bare Korean restaurant in a strip mall," John T. has "black goat soup with watercress and green onions" and slurps "raw crab with a wobbly texture and a briny finish that gave me the shivers." It is a tale of Korean barbecue and Vietnamese fried catfish in which John T. sees the evolution of the South and Southern cooking. Buford Highway is where Caroline and Dr. Theresa and I used to go and get a whole huge karaoke room to ourselves! And I think maybe some chicken wings and some bottles of wine. Those were the days. I mention them because I am elderly and filled with mawkish sentiment for times gone by. Near the end of his article, John T. justly and soundly and roundly mocks creepy "Southern fabulists, whose misplaced affections for the region are informed by xenophobic tendencies and Neo-Confederate sympathies." So it is weird to see a recent segment about him on the ABC news show NIGHTLINE introduced by an anchor who stupidly invokes "Spanish moss and plantation houses," which is sort of the opposite of what John T. is about. Some guy in a newsroom cubicle must have said, "Quick! I need something about the South!" And the guy in the next cubicle yelled back, "Spanish moss and plantation houses!" And the first guy said, "Perfect!" and hit "print." And then the reporter in the segment actually has a voiceover praising John T.'s "Rhett Butler charm." WHAT? John T. has a lot of work cut out for him. I don't mean in the charm department, because he has plenty of that. But, you know, two steps forward and three steps back. The segment itself is terrific, especially when John T. rhapsodizes about this and that. You can watch it by "clicking" here. It won't take you to the piece directly. You may have to do a site search for "barbecue." Wow! This is getting long. And I don't care! I know you stopped reading a long time ago. So you will never see how smoothly I went from OA to NIGHTLINE to THE BELIEVER by keeping the focus on food. So far my favorite thing in THE BELIEVER, and maybe my favorite thing ever, is an intricate two-page collage of "the great sandwiches of English literature." There are five sandwiches from the works of Donald Barthelme alone, including "Your gray vest is stained with tears. Let me make you a ham and cheese sandwich." And there are four or five sandwiches by J.D. Salinger, too. I am not doing it justice, this thing. It is set up to look like a menu. Oh, just go get a copy, you need to see it for yourself. It really makes for hours of fun! You will never tire of it, I tell you. A sandwich from PNIN! A Flann O'Brien sandwich ("They give you a beef sandwich with no beef in it...") and so on. Two butter and sugar sandwiches are represented! "Blog" readers will certainly recall the butter and sugar sandwiches that the aforementioned Jim Whorton used to take with him to school, as mentioned here almost four years ago. See how I am helping this mammoth "post" hang together? (Also, we discussed one President Johnson above and Whorton once wrote a novel involving the ANOTHER President Johnson!) The butter and sugar sandwiches on the BELIEVER chart come from Toni Morrison and Harper Lee. And now gently take my hand and we shall speak again of Jerry Lewis. Oh, wait, let me connect it, because I can! Through the power of sandwiches! There is a fascinating section of DEAN & ME in which Dean and Jerry spend hours in a deli with Marilyn Monroe. So right after that I am reading the part where Dean and Jerry go to visit Frank Sinatra on the set of THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM. And you know who else was in that movie, don't you? Arnold Stang! So I got very excited. Like, "Maybe I will be able to write a 'post' entitled 'Lewis On Stang,' all about a great meeting of the minds between Jerry Lewis and Arnold Stang." But Jerry does not mention Arnold Stang and it all remains a glorious dream.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

While It Was Still Dark


So I got up for no reason while it was still dark and watched this old short film on TCM. It was put out by "The National Clean Up Paint Up Fix Up Bureau." Did you know there was such a thing? Well, I guess there was! And the point of the film, no kidding, was that you shouldn't put a lot of magazines on your coffee table because when the communists blow up your city, your house will catch on fire. No kidding! They put these different little houses on a nuclear testing site. Like, one would have a lot of magazines on the coffee table and one wouldn't. Then BOOM! And the house with no magazines on the coffee table didn't burn as fast. They also said, and if I am paraphrasing, it is only by a little, "A fresh coat of house paint will keep your house from burning down." Close to an exact quote: "Is this your house? A dingy house? Or do you have a clean white house?" It did not take much imagination on my part to envision a mob leaving the movie theater and heading to Old Mr. Johnson's to help save the neighborhood from communists by giving the place a coat of paint, because Old Mr. Johnson has really let things go to seed ever since Ethel passed away. There are beer cans in his yard! And by the time they get there they have decided to just go ahead and preemptively burn down Old Mr. Johnson's house. That's the feeling I got from the movie. Then I switched to an unusual channel way down there at the far end of the satellite, and they were showing an episode of THE PORTER WAGONER SHOW and I was like, "WHAT?" Porter Wagoner was wearing the most amazing suit ever, a suit so amazing it could have its own show, people could just stare at that empty suit for half an hour very happily. But as a bonus Porter Wagoner was in it! And he was giggling! His is not a face one expects to see giggling. His is a long and solemn face. But String Bean was on the show, yes, a man named String Bean, I've told you about him before, back when I had been "blogging" for no more than a week or two, surely you remember when I told you about String Bean that time, well, he made Porter Wagoner giggle, just the sight of him! (Above, the very suit to which I was referring! My powers of "Googling" are not to be matched! The photo doesn't do it justice! You should have seen it sparkling and shimmering under the big bright lights!) After String Bean's number Porter put his arm around String Bean's shoulder and called him "String," which seemed chummy and kind of amusing. Like his first name is String and his last name is Bean, I guess! Then Roger Miller made a dry, surreal cameo, dapper in a black suit and full of secret unspoken humor.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Stop the Presses



Okay, now Kent Osborne AND Phil Oppenheim AND Scott Phillips have each independently contacted me about the fact that Jerry Lewis said he wanted to smack Lindsay Lohan in the mouth. So I guess it will seem weird if I avoid the topic, although I LOVE avoiding unpleasant things. It is the thing I love above all others! My favorite hobby is avoiding unpleasant things! But that was not nice what Jerry said! Ungentlemanly to say the least! It could be described in many harsher terms! And I do not agree with the violent sentiment he expressed! But what is really weird to me is that a reporter asked Jerry Lewis what should be done about Lindsay Lohan. Like, "Hmm, this Lindsay Lohan situation is getting out of control. I wonder what should be done. There's only one way to find out: Get me Jerry Lewis!" And then Jerry wakes up from his nap and says a bad thing and somebody yells "STOP THE PRESSES! We have to get this in the NEWSPAPER RIGHT NOW!" I suppose I should go on record as saying that no one should get smacked in the mouth. But don't worry, I don't think he's going to go through with it! Because everybody is like, "We have to get her to a safe place!" This from concerned entertainment reporters who have always so tenderly guarded her welfare. In conclusion, this very "blog" has pointed out the very similar celebrity troubles that young Jerry shared with young Lindsay - and really there were others, too, terrible shared troubles that went unmentioned here! So Jerry should exhibit empathy toward Ms. Lohan, I think, and certainly not cruelty. But Jerry said a bad thing instead and everybody fell to the ground bleeding from the ears thanks to the fury of its awful power.

Dean Smelled Great


"I began paying close attention to Dean's postshower ritual: He would take his bottle of Woodhue, pour some into his cupped palm, then put the bottle down and slap his palms together. Then he'd rub the cologne all over his body - as far as I could see, anyway. At this point he was always in the bathroom, the door just slightly ajar to let out the steam. After a couple of minutes, he'd emerge in his robe, smiling with complete satisfaction: He looked, felt, and smelled great!" (from DEAN & ME by Jerry Lewis)

Huh

Today's excerpt from DEAN & ME by Jerry Lewis: "One of the first things that fascinated me about Dean was the way he smelled."

Dean Marvel


So I'm reading DEAN & ME by Jerry Lewis and right here he says that Dean Martin loved Captain Marvel comic books. Yesterday, I'm reading about Elvis and Captain Marvel, today it's Dean and Captain Marvel. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Nuts


I was at Off Square Books. That's where the used books are! And I came across a secondhand copy of Elaine Dundy's book about Elvis Presley and his mother. Yes, in case you didn't know, witty, worldly, sophisticated Elaine Dundy - novelist of comedies of manners set on the Left Bank of Paris and in swinging London, whose work has probably been described by some critic as "a soufflé laced with arsenic" or "a champagne cocktail with a razor blade in it" or, I don't know, some other thing a critic might say involving light food and a weapon - also wrote a book about Elvis Presley and his mother. And I was standing there thinking, you know, gosh, do I really need this? So I opened it up and it begins, BEGINS I said, with a detailed description of the origin of Captain Marvel's sidekick Captain Marvel, Jr. So at one point Captain Marvel has flown with severely injured Freddy Freeman (soon to be - SPOILER ALERT! - Captain Marvel, Jr.) to a hospital, but is denied entry by what Dundy calls "an officious hospital attendant." Dundy continues: "Responding with a simple 'Nuts,' Captain Marvel walks through a wall and into an operating room where he curtly orders a surprised doctor to 'get to work' on the young boy." So my question was answered. Yes, I really need this.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

So Many Columns


I have two columns out today. Who cares? Shut up! There are so many columns around here it's starting to look like ancient Greece. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Because they had lots of columns. In the OXFORD AMERICAN I am explaining how Larry King, the Family Guy, Jay Leno, and Lady Gaga are THE SAME PERSON. Does it have something to do with repressive desublimation? Maybe! Sure. Why not? I don't know. Probably not. Sort of. I just write 'em, I don't know what they mean. Meanwhile in THE BELIEVER it's a look at my rock collection with a typically wonderful Jason Polan illustration of my rock collection. Won't you glut yourself on my verbose mannerisms today?