Monday, October 31, 2011

Update Update

IOU so many updates! HALLOWEEN FILM FESTIVAL UPDATE: Halloween Film Festival continued with DEMENTIA 13, ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, and THE OTHER (pictured - yikes!). JERRY LEWIS UPDATE: As you know, I like to tell you as a public service whenever the New York Times mentions Jerry Lewis. It used to happen all the time. Lately, I've had to scavenge. They did it the other day, but it was just one of those dumb "the French love Jerry Lewis" throwaways that is supposed to make some kind of point but never does. Yesterday, in an article about that director Ratner, there was a passing mention of Richard Belzer calling Jerry Lewis on his cell phone. Another throwaway, but tantalizing. Imagine having Jerry available at the touch of a button. Imagine it, I said! RECOMMENDATION SHELF UPDATE: You may recall that my recommendation shelf had hit hard times. I spruced it up and it immediately sold three more books. Immediately! You're welcome, Gogol. Total books sold: 27. The Lynda Barry did not sell yet, but one of my spies at Square Books reports that an eight-year-old girl leafed through it with great interest. A good sign for the future of the world! FOOD EATING UPDATE: Yesterday, with the conclusion of the Southern Foodways Symposium, I ate what was easily one of the greatest (and hugest) breakfasts of my life, including a garnish of the lightest, fluffiest, most flavorful fried pork skins that have ever happened. The incredible chef Alon Shaya was in town with his crew from the restaurant Domenica in New Orleans. As an extra surprise, Chef Shaya walked from table to table hoisting an Alabama wild boar haunch, aged in his cellar for two years and turned into wild boar prosciutto. In the serving line, they cracked a raw egg over your squid ink gnocchi and it poached itself.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lynda Barry's Honeymoon

Best thing I've read in the New York Times so far today: On Lynda Barry's honeymoon, "her new husband took one look at the Grand Canyon and said, 'I thought it would be bigger.' Then he turned to her. 'It’s your fault for hypin’ it up.'" That marriage did not last! "Click" here for the whole article.


I gave my little talk at the Southern Foodways Symposium with David Wondrich, the great cocktail historian, who also made a bathtub full of Chatham Artillery Punch for the occasion. That's right, a bathtub. Chatham Artillery Punch is a lively and refreshing concoction dating back from... I don't know. I had too much Chatham Artillery Punch. The artillery just let off another volley in my head.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Samuel Beckett, using an exclamation point, quoted in the New York Times, on words: "How almost true they sometimes almost ring!"

Friday, October 28, 2011

Good Morning Oysters

Hey, ask me why I had raw oysters for breakfast. That's right! Time once more for the Southern Foodways Symposium, the best party in town - this or any other town! I'm finally going to "give a talk" or something again, after five long, anxious years of waiting, so that means I get to hang out and eat all the crazy things they feed you. Like, at the book signing tonight, there will be, among other things, according to the schedule, "Bacon-Wrapped Watermelon Pickles with Fried Rutabaga Spoonbread." All right! Goodbye forever!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Busted Slats

And another thing about Luke from GILMORE GIRLS! Why would a fancy house in the Hamptons - an area described hilariously in a widespread "internet" summary of REVENGE as "a world of rich caviar and lavish living" - have a ramshackle old porch swing with busted slats? Why, it is ONLY SO THE SULLEN YET SOFTLY PINING BARTENDER CAN, UNBIDDEN, BRING OVER HIS TOOLBOX AND FIX IT. Your honor, I rest my case. Perhaps never so clearly have the writers of the TV show REVENGE revealed their all-encompassing debt to Luke from GILMORE GIRLS. I do not blame the writers of REVENGE, who are probably nice people just trying to do their best. Luke from GILMORE GIRLS is a powerful archetype that has inspired the souls of artists for ages. I could not find another picture of Luke with a hammer, but here is Rory building a house with a fluffy pink hammer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Old Porch Swing Bit

It's certainly not news to you that I spend most of my time searching for evidence that the sullen yet tenderhearted bartender on the TV show REVENGE is just a big rip-off of Luke from GILMORE GIRLS. Like, do you know what he did on tonight's episode? He showed up at Revenge Lady's house out of the blue, toolbox in hand, to voluntarily fix her broken porch swing. Come on! That is such a Luke move. And then, just like Luke, he had to stand there with his saw or what-have-you and watch as Revenge Lady's rich and handsome date came and whisked her away to a magical evening of romance. Upon her return, of course, that sentimental old porch swing that secretly means so much to her was as good as new. So what? Tomorrow I will get up early and have some coffee and tirelessly scour GILMORE GIRLS episode guides to find you a perfect example of how Luke already beat this guy at his own game, because I don't go to my job anymore. I do this. This IS my job! PS Tomorrow? Hell! Pardon my strong language. But it took me two seconds to find this picture of Luke fixing Lorelai's porch. Are you satisfied, America?

A Wary Llama

The front-page photo on this week's LAFA SHOPPER shows what the caption identifies as a "wary llama" on a local farm. The caption goes on to explain, "Llamas are prey animals from the camel family with eyes located at the side of their head (instead of in front)" and accuses the llama of giving the photographer "some serious stink-eye" - a debatable assertion! But it's a long and feisty caption. "Watch out, Dr. Ray," it warns the photographer. "These guys will spit on you just for fun." And it keeps going from there. I love the LAFA SHOPPER so much!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Frasier, Briefly

Welcome once again to "Frasier, Briefly," where we report all the latest exciting news about Frasier and his numerous antics. It seems that Frasier has a new TV show where he's the mayor of Chicago! This is the best possible news for "Blog" Buddy Kelly Hogan because it involves two of her favorite things: Frasier and Chicago. Hogan hasn't seen it yet, but happily reports that her friend Mia is an extra. It's on premium cable! So Frasier screams and cusses and suddenly twists a guy's ear until the unfortunate fellow kneels on the floor squealing in pain! Oh, Frasier. Directed by Gus van Sant! Oh, and Frasier has a secret brain disease.

Gothic Subterfuge!

Speaking of castles! I was checking my recommendation shelf at Square Books yesterday. Sales are down! But that's not the problem. Some unauthorized personage - a renegade Horace Walpole fan! - had tampered with the exquisitely balanced arrangement and stuffed in an extra book: THE CASTLE OF OTRANTO. Nothing against Horace Walpole! Don't worry, I took care of it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"We Mock the Thing We Are to Be"

Yesterday I was going to tell you about how my brother went to a wedding (yesterday) at the castle where Charles I got his head chopped off! And Kanye West was at the wedding! And I thought, Kanye West + site of royal beheading = true love 4ever. And then I thought, Well, if I "blogged" about that would I be any better than the New York Times gossip columnist I am always ragging on? So I deleted the "post" before it was done. But as if in answer, this very day in the New York Times the gossip columnist goes to a wedding! And Joel Grey is there! And I thought, Well, my story is a lot better than that. It's not really a story, though, is it? Oh well! Mel Brooks once made a memorable statement on the subject (see above).

Thanks, "Internet"

For no good reason I mentioned Robert Mitchum and the lead actor from CRY OF THE WEREWOLF in the same "post." Now it turns out - according to wikipedia, anyway - that they are linked! Thank you for giving me something to do with my life, "internet." I was looking up the actor (Stephen Crane [!]) from CRY OF THE WEREWOLF because his terrible acting made me curious. His mouth would fall open at peculiar times. Turns out his full name was Joseph Stephen Crane, and he was engaged to the woman who was picked up along with Mitchum for smoking dope that time (here is a photo of them going to jail). Crane ended the engagement. Before that, Mr. Crane was married to Lana Turner. How did THAT happen? When I was checking Lana Turner's wikipedia page to find out how that happened, I discovered that Lana Turner was once married to a "nightclub hypnotist" who went by the name Dr. Dante. HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT BEFORE? "Internet," you have given me much to ponder. Crane's daughter was the one who stabbed Joey Stompanato. Crane quit acting because he wasn't good at it and opened a Polynesian restaurant instead.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Film Festival Supersaturated with Barbiturates

Halloween film festival continued with CRY OF THE WEREWOLF, starring some guy. Dr. Theresa called him "the skid row Jimmy Stewart." His father is murdered by a werewolf and he can't really muster a reaction. As Dr. Theresa pointed out, he seemed to be staring at a spot on the wall as he delivered his lines. Speaking of calling actors names, McNeil found an article from the 1940s describing Robert Mitchum as "Bing Crosby supersaturated with barbiturates," which would be great if Bing Crosby weren't already like Bing Crosby supersaturated with barbiturates. Now back to CRY OF THE WEREWOLF, which has one good creepy moment. A man who has witnessed the werewolf in action responds by going mad. They find him walking around in a stupor saying "Here, kitty kitty... Here, kitty kitty..."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Call of the Crabs

Yes! To answer your inevitable question, with the approach of Halloween, Dr. Theresa and I have indeed begun our annual scary movie festival. First up: ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS. The monsters are fun because they look and move like Mardi Gras floats bumping along. I won't say it's the most auspicious beginning we've ever had, but the movie turned out to be entertaining to talk about later - more entertaining than it seemed while we were watching it. In fact, Dr. Theresa and I woke spontaneously in the dead of night and started talking about ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS - odd, because people in ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS awake in the dead of night (and now there will be some spoilers) and hear the voices of their dead friends calling to them... their dead friends who have been eaten by the crab monsters! For you see, when the giant crab eats your brain, your mind goes into its stomach! That's what really happens in this movie. And the evil crabs announce their plans to the doomed band of human survivors: to "rest in a cave" and think up more evil plans! That's really what they say: that they want to "rest in caves" as soon as they get rid of these pesky humans, so they can figure out what to do next. Speaking of eating things, how about this package of Grandma's brand artificially flavored sandwich creme cookies (above) found by "Blog" Deputy Rhea, with its strange asterisked promise of bounty? And one more thing about eating things. My brother-in-law David found a bunch of old pictures that doctors used to hang in their offices to promote good nutrition. Scroll down until you see "Tommy Teen." His head is made of strawberry ice cream and he has a whole bottle of mustard in front of him. Not good signs, medically speaking, which is the point. As David notes, Tommy Teen is wearing a Goober hat, once of such importance to the "blog."

Terrible World

I was over at Square Books - performing my usual public service of checking book indices for references to Jerry Lewis - and saw a new hardcover biography of Spencer Tracy, almost 1,000 pages long. And I was like, "THIS is going to fix the publishing industry!" Because it's what all the kids want. But there was just one Jerry entry in the index (I'll save you some time! page 695), and there was nothing to it. What a terrible world we live in.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dang It

Yes, dang it, we watched another episode of REVENGE and I thought of yet another way that the sullen barkeep is just a sad copy of Luke from GILMORE GIRLS: he lives above his place of employment! We're pretty sure he does. Dr. Theresa agrees. He's always walking down some stairs to enter the bar.

Ripped From Today's Headlines: Beatniks on the Prowl

In today's episode, New York Times gossip columnist "The Nocturnalist" is accosted by a beatnik who steals her pillow! A beatnik! Who steals her pillow! (See also.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bigamy Bob

I was mentioning to Megan Abbott how Nicholas Ray's (pictured) seldom-seen WIND ACROSS THE EVERGLADES costars archetypal stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and comes on TCM tonight. And she was like, yeah, but archetypal sad clown Emmett Kelly also costars as "Bigamy Bob." That's why she's Megan Abbott and I'm just some jerk!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Literally an Owl

All of our owls have been so metaphorical lately. It's Brian Z. to the rescue with another literal owl of literature. He reports an actual owl near the beginning of TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY. "What is the owl doing?" I asked. Brian Z. tweeted me back on the twitter: "Found dead in a fireplace :( "

Sunday, October 16, 2011

He Really Likes Trees

For a hardboiled character (which he definitely is) the narrator of THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH does love trees, saying of another man's yard, "One of Roger Craig's forebears had had an eye for trees. There was something for everyone. In the northwest corner he had the biggest magnolia I'd ever seen... chinquapin, sassafras, sweet gum, birch, and mimosa... cottonwood and aspen. He even had a chinaberry tree." But that's not what I wanted to quote to you. Here: "Doc Essegian was my cellmate. Everyone called him The Doctor. Maybe because he was such a wise old owl." So, according to our ever-slackening standards, THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH becomes our latest book with an owl in it. Speaking of owls, I saw something about an owl on twitter yesterday, via Neko Case's account. It's all about a generous owl who catches a rat and tries to give it to his friend, a cat. So don't "click" here if you don't want to see a photograph of an owl trying to feed a freshly caught rat to a cat, okay? The guy who "posted" it had been taking care of an injured owl on his farm, and when the owl got better, it still enjoyed hanging around. The "link" also purports to show the owl - a small bat clutched in its beak - landing on the guy's sleeping wife. I only say "purports" because it is very hard for me to imagine staying asleep while an owl with a bat in its beak lands on me, or, for that matter, any loved one sitting silently beside the bed with a camera, waiting to capture the moment that an owl with a bat in its beak lands on me. But apparently it happened! Apparently! If I ever get a pet owl, I am going to strongly encourage it not to land on any sleeping person, especially me, with a small bat clutched in its beak. (Pictured, the superhero "The Owl," lifted from a "web" site from which I have stolen before. There was another panel showing "The Owl" sitting in a tree, which would have more appropriately tied together our various threads, maybe, but I'm tired.)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Killer Tree Surgeon

Another way in which the narrator of the pulp novel THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH might not seem hardboiled at first glance: he sometimes works as a tree surgeon! But he will also kill you without even blinking, so don't get too comfortable.

Our Greatest Teacher

Oh yeah I forgot to tell you I read in the New York Times today that Oprah Winfrey referred to Jim Carrey as "one of 'our greatest teachers.'" So that's crazy. I'd like to believe it's merely an example of the "exploding supernova" style of celebrity introduction, but I don't know. I kind of think she means it!

Help Me

I didn't mean to think of yet another way in which the taciturn yet sensitive bartender on REVENGE is nothing but a copy of Luke from GILMORE GIRLS. Okay. But, see, both were raised predominantly by their fathers, worked for their fathers, and now work in spots that their fathers used to own. In the case of REVENGE it's the same bar, whereas, as I am sure you are aware, in GILMORE GIRLS, Luke converts his father's old hardware store into a diner. God help my troubled soul!


I'm so ashamed! In our most recent edition of "McNeil Month By Month" I forgot to tell you what McNeil did in November and December of 2010. I blame myself. I was going out of town and in a big hurry when I "posted." But that's no excuse! Why wasn't I flooded with urgent messages about this? Why wasn't everybody, like, "Yeah, but what was McNeil doing in November of 2010? Sitting in his car looking at pictures of Jennifer Jones?" But no, it's not your fault. The "blog's" quality control is down the tubes. The problem has been fixed, sure, but at what emotional cost?

Hardboiled Kitten Story

I am finally reading THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH by Dan J. Marlowe, an official Michael Kupperman recommendation. Mr. Kupperman kept talking about the thoroughly boiled hardness of it, and it's true! So far it's action packed: more action (and blood) in the first four or five pages than in some whole books. BUT! Kupperman did not tell me - and this is also true - that our protagonist's origin story, the way he becomes a loner and a remorseless criminal, is centered around how much he loves his kitten! But what do you expect from a book with the title THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH? That's right, plenty of frolicking kittens. Here is a kitten sitting in a Pop Tarts box.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Inevitable Corn Maze Article in the New York Times

The New York Times advises corn maze participants to make "a pile of rocks by a path one has already taken, assuming one can find rocks in a corn field."

On Second Thought, Let's Not

Let's talk about the TV show REVENGE some more because we have nothing better to do. I think we're giving up on it. Last night Dr. Theresa said of my numerous dull wisecracks, "I could do without the running commentary." (Yes, the SAME Dr. Theresa who had a grand old time dishing out all the running commentary in the world JUST THE OTHER NIGHT!) But pretty soon she couldn't help herself and both of us were indulging in running commentary. Mostly it consisted of one of us muttering, "This doesn't make any sense." But one thing Dr. Theresa liked was how, every time some revenge was enacted (small examples of it are carried out with alarming frequency), I would shout, "Revenge!" and thrust my arms triumphantly in the air. Those days are behind us, I fear. I asked Mom whether she had been watching REVENGE. She said she tried but couldn't because the main character wasn't nice. And I was like, "Oh, Mom! She's getting revenge!" But now I am reconsidering my hasty words. Look, I know nothing about computers, but the last thing I will ever say about REVENGE is their ideas about computers seem to come from the Sandra Bullock vehicle THE NET, a deficiency they attempt to jazz up with a SOCIAL NETWORK-lite character (pictured; ha ha! look at his pants!) who will remind you of Matthew Lillard as Shaggy in the SCOOBY-DOO movie. (Oh wait, and his belt! Ha ha!) Okay! Goodbye forever! Oh, and the taciturn yet sensitive bar owner who unwillingly becomes the legal guardian of his skateboard-riding sunglasses-wearing younger brother... it's Luke and his nephew Jess from the GILMORE GIRLS all over again! Okay, I mean it this time. Leave me alone.

"I Will Ruin You!"

is a line of dialogue that crops up a lot on the TV show REVENGE.


Watched REVENGE again. Yeah. I don't know. I think she is running out of people to get revenge on. If you think I am kidding, sorry, but I am just telling it like it is - like the makers of Argo brand canned peaches! That's the actual structure: she gets revenge on a new person every week. This time she got revenge by locking somebody in a storage unit for a couple of hours. For real. As revenge goes, it seemed pretty mild. I don't know. PS Don't forget Argo sweet peas! And tell 'em "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot sent you! (Pictured, "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Andy Hopkins's New Can

You know how happy I get whenever Andy Hopkins adds a new can of food to his "blog." He praises this can of peaches for its honesty: "Right on the front of the package we learn that these are 'IRREGULAR PIECES' of 'Yellow Cling.' Telling it like it is." Andy also notes that "for less than a dollar you get an ample amount of a classic side dish," reminding me of the time John Aubrey got sick from a surfeit of peaches. PLEASE NOTE BEFORE "CLICKING": Andy uses some "racy" humor to express his admiration for the can of peaches!

Professor Irwin Corey at the Acropolis

As you know, the "blog" is always amazed when a living person mentions Professor Irwin Corey. Well, huh, there's a strange story about him in the New York Times today. It's on one of their "blogs," so there is a comment section with bunches of the randomness I enjoy, such as, "My wife and I ran into Prof. Irwin Corey at the Acropolis in 1973." Okay! I almost didn't "post" this because I know you don't care, but then I remembered that I don't care.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Happened a Few Minutes Later

And then a few minutes later I paused the show to demonstrate my impression of the facial expressions of the young protagonist secretly obtaining her vengeance in weekly installments. I showed Dr. Theresa how, every time some vengeance is being wreaked, the actress (pictured) will display a tiny smile, but when someone suddenly turns around and looks at her in the midst of the surprising (to the victim) vengeance, she is forced to switch in an instant to a slightly concerned poker face that seems to indicate, "Hmm, what is going on with all this vengeance around here?" Except I did not explain this to Dr. Theresa in words! I did it through my masterful skills in the ancient art of pantomime. To which Dr. Theresa responded in the driest conceivable tone: "Yeah, she must practice that for hours." WHAT IS UP WITH DR. THERESA?


Dr. Theresa and I were watching that show REVENGE on the dvr. I said of one character, "He's a troubled youth, like Jess on the GILMORE GIRLS." Dr. Theresa seemed to disagree. "He's a punk," she said flatly. She didn't mean it in a cool way!

Norman Mailer Tetanus Shot

In a book review in today's New York Times, Dwight Garner reports that Norman Mailer bit Bruce Jay Friedman on the neck. Wait, that needs an exclamation point. Norman Mailer bit Bruce Jay Friedman on the neck! Then Mr. Friedman had to go to the hospital for a tetanus shot. Wait. A tetanus shot! Where are today's neck-biting writers? Come on, kids! You call yourselves writers? If I ever publish another book I vow to bite more people on the neck!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sexy Jerry Colonel

As you know, Ace Atkins spends all his time sending me sexy pictures of Colonel Sanders. Here is one of the Colonel with Jerry Lewis! Okay! Thanks, Ace! Goodbye!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Ichthyologist: Modern-Day Undercover Procopius?

As you will recall from reading the New York Times with me every day, their gossip columnist ONLY writes about celebrities eating fish. They should make up a new name for her. Like, right now they call her "The Nocturnalist" but they should change it to "The Ichthyologist!" Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Because of the fish. Sure, Martha Stewart feeds her a Jordan almond in today's installment. BUT! She also sees John McEnroe eating "Alaskan black cod" in a parking garage. For real! "Click" here if you don't believe me. But don't "click"! Because then you will have to read about a fancy gala where rich people dress up like rich hoboes or something, with "motorcycle evening gloves," whatever those are, and someone walks by and exclaims, "Glam in the gutter!" to The Ichthyologist. Ugh! Somebody really says that! They are hanging around in a parking garage for irony! They're having fun pretending to be partially poor! Like, only their gloves are poor. I don't know, part of me thinks that The Ichthyologist is secretly thinking "ugh" along with me like some modern-day Procopius but it's all just too subtle for me I guess.

Happy Airplane Pills

Dr. Theresa and I went on an airplane. The doctor (not Dr. Theresa) gave me happy airplane pills to make me happy on the airplane. Dr. Theresa showed me a picture in the shopping catalog they give you on the airplane. It was of a sculpture called "Bigfoot the Bashful Yeti." I think you are supposed to attach it to a tree in your yard and passersby will think there is a bigfoot peeking out from behind a tree in your yard. But the bigfoot doesn't look "bashful" as advertised. "He looks sullen," Dr. Theresa observed. We flew to South Carolina. There we were thrilled to spend time with our old friends Dr. "M." and the Farmer. We even caught a glimpse of the mysterious Dr. Baby. Dr. Theresa presented an informative talk on THE SCARLET LETTER at a college. In a different venue, I spouted my strained witticisms at a smattering of stunned bystanders. A good time was had by all. Dr. "M." promises another one of her "TV Korner" "blog" contributions soon... maybe about CHEERS vs. FAMILY TIES or possibly a look at the new series PAN AM. I read some of THE ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST by Tom Wolfe in the airport. There are no owls in it... yet! But our friend Captain Marvel is all over the place. For example, "Billy Batson said Shazam! and turned into Captain Marvel. Jay Garrick inhaled an experimental gas at the research lab..." For Tom Wolfe, these are drug references. Speaking of airplanes, "Blog" Buddy, friend and neighbor Tom Franklin is in London RIGHT NOW! They just gave him a gold dagger. That's what I said all right, a gold dagger. It is a huge award (with a televised ceremony!) you can read about right here. Good luck getting it through airport security! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Because it's a gold dagger!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


An article about Anthony Braxton in the New York Times, including tidbits about his opera series on the subject of "robots, pirates, the Wild West."

McNeil Month By Month

You know what today is: McNeil's birthday. And that means it's time for another timely "blog" look back at "McNeil Month By Month." Spend McNeil's special day "clicking" on him, won't you? September 2006: McNeil contends that he does not enjoy the "Little Dot" comic book. October 2006: McNeil furnishes a memorable quotation. November 2006: McNeil recalls playing Aerosmith on a jukebox. December 2006: First appearance of "McNeil's Movie Korner." January 2007: McNeil's system for winning at craps. February 2007: McNeil doesn't see what's so hard about reading a newspaper and eating a sandwich at the same time. March 2007: McNeil and I are talking about Bob Denver when HE SUDDENLY APPEARS ON TELEVISION! April 2007: Wild turkeys roam McNeil's neighborhood. May 2007: McNeil gets in touch with an Australian reporter regarding a historical chimp. June 2007: First McNeil's Movie Korner Film Festival announced. July 2007: Medicine changes McNeil's taste buds. August 2007: McNeil's trees not producing apples. September 2007: McNeil pinpoints a problem with the "blog." October 2007: McNeil presents a video entitled "Jerry's pre-defecation chills." November 2007: McNeil's Theory of Potential Energy. December 2007: What is McNeil's favorite movie? January 2008: McNeil explains why the wind blows. February 2008: McNeil admires the paintings of Gerhard Richter. March 2008: McNeil comes up with an idea for a Lifetime TV movie. April 2008: McNeil's shirt. May 2008: McNeil's apple tree doing better (see August 2007). June 2008: McNeil is troubled by a man who wants to make clouds in the shape of logos. July 2008: McNeil's apples are doing great. August 2008: McNeil refuses to acknowledge that Goofy wears a hat no matter what I say. September 2008: McNeil's grocery store is permanently out of his favorite margarine. October 2008: McNeil on the space elevator. November 2008: McNeil comes across an incomplete episode guide to HELLO, LARRY. December 2008: McNeil thinks the human hand should have more fingers. January 2009: McNeil discovers that gin and raisins cure arthritis. February 2009: McNeil sees a ****** ******* awesome rainbow. March 2009: McNeil wants a job on a cruise ship. April 2009: McNeil attempts to rescue a wayward balloon. May 2009: McNeil visits the Frogtown Fair. June 2009: McNeil dreams he is watching an endless production number from LI'L ABNER. July 2009: McNeil sends text messages from his cell phone while watching a Frank Sinatra movie. August 2009: McNeil disagrees philosophically with a comic book cover that shows a mad scientist putting a gorilla's brain in a superhero's body. September 2009: McNeil resembles famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach. October 2009: McNeil's birthday celebrated with an expanded edition of "McNeil Month By Month." November 2009: McNeil reports that a bird broke the large hadron collider by dropping a bread crumb on it. December 2009: McNeil advises me to like the universe or lump it. January 2010: McNeil eats soup. February 2010: McNeil tells of the hidden civilizations living deep beneath the surface of the earth. March 2010: McNeil recalls a carpet of his youth. April 2010: McNeil starts wearing a necktie. May 2010: McNeil's DNA sample fails to yield results. June 2010: McNeil thinks up some improvements for the movie 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. July 2010: McNeil reads to me from I, THE JURY. August 2010: McNeil finds a hair in his crab cake. September 2010: McNeil has a cold. October 2010: McNeil's favorite MAD MEN character is Stan. November 2010: McNeil sits in his car and looks at pictures of Jennifer Jones. December 2010: McNeil fears a ball of fire in the sky. January 2011: McNeil watches DYNASTY. February 2011: McNeil sees clouds that look like guys on horseback. March 2011: McNeil composes a "still life" photograph. April 2011: McNeil is upset when I interrupt his viewing of MATCH GAME. May 2011: McNeil pines for some old curtains. June 2011: McNeil eats Lucky Charms brand breakfast cereal. July 2011: McNeil investigates the history of the Phar-Mor drugstore chain. August 2011: McNeil compares Dean Moriarty to Dean Martin. September 2011: McNeil learns a lesson about pork and beans. McNeil hasn't done anything in October yet, but it's early! I'll let you know. Pictured, "Stan" from MAD MEN (see October 2010).

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Dude With the Sweet Hair

Showed one of my hardboiled classes part of NIGHTMARE ALLEY. Not knowing Tyrone Power's name, a student referred to him as "the dude with the sweet hair."

The King of Rat Island

I read in the New York Times that somebody bought Rat Island! "Much of it is submerged at high tide; there is no power or water; and any potential development would require clearance from a raft of public entities." Plus, I assume, there are rats. But at least that person can go around shouting, "Look at me! I'm the King of Rat Island!"

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Your Cat Can Be a Movie Star!

I know everyone who has ever dreamed of turning his or her cat into a movie star is giddy with anticipation at the thought of my long-awaited self-help/how-to cat book YOUR CAT CAN BE A MOVIE STAR! "Click" here for a look at part of chapter eight. But if for some crazy reason you don't want to turn your cat into a movie star, don't worry! There's also oatmeal, the death of Scriabin, and a monkey riding a dog. Something for everyone, that's my motto!

Saturday, October 01, 2011


Jim Whorton is being pretty hard on himself! He calls his ANGELA SLOAN "this supposedly comic novel about an abandoned child" and goes on to note of one of its settings, "Readers will know Stanleyville as the 'inner station' of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and it is also, probably, the city V.S. Naipaul had in mind in A Bend in the River. What book made you laugh harder than these two international humor classics?" James Whorton, Jr., cracks me up. Read the whole article on the "Large Hearted Boy" "web" site.