Monday, December 31, 2012
The time I ate a salad and watched a rerun of WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU. 9) When I had the idea that hardboiled eggs should make a comeback as bar food. Speaking of which, I watched some of THE VERDICT yesterday, and Paul Newman cracks a raw egg into his mug of beer before drinking it in one huge gulp! Seems manly and efficient. That is not one of the 10 greatest moments of 2012, I am just putting things in context for you. 8) The time I took a pain pill and watched GRAPE APE. 7) I watched a FRASIER where Frasier's dad kept beating him at chess. 6) I read that hyraxes defend themselves by "presenting their rumps." 5) When I watched part of a werewolf movie. 4) The time Mr. Belding from SAVED BY THE BELL and Rory from GILMORE GIRLS were on the same episode of MAD MEN! 3) The moment I first realized that Ray from EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND was going to make out with Lorelai from GILMORE GIRLS. 2) When I read this sentence: "Renfield has been very sick and has disgorged a whole lot of feathers." 1) Up at 4 in the morning, watching them sell skull-shaped novelties on the Gem Shopping Network.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Hey did you know that the L.A. Times thinks Kelly Hogan's album I LIKE TO KEEP MYSELF IN PAIN is the second most awesome album of the year? At least! They refer to the song I cowrote as an example of "recession blues." Huh. That song has been called so many interesting things, such as an "organ-steeped meditation on the ravages of domestic violence." Whoa! Let's not go crazy. Me, I was just trying to copy "The Grand Tour" by George Jones or "Hello Walls" by Faron Young. There are so many songs in the "scuffed-up furniture inventory" genre!
Abby! Burke! Anya! Ryan! So I moved from Atlanta and came here to teach them everything I know and wouldn't you know they took my knowledge and moved away to various points on the globe filled with the arcane knowledge I gave them - somebody told me that's how it works! too late! too late! - and one day they all got together and went to Atlanta to my old bar, across the street from where I used to live, and had a drink without me. And then they took a picture of their chicanery and sent it to me! Look how they're gloating! That's gratitude for you!
Friday, December 28, 2012
twitter because I received an important tweet from Megan Abbott: "Did you know Kerouac made a tape of himself reading passages from Dr Sax & playing Sinatra's No One Cares in background?" I did not! Another reason I am back on twitter is to live-tweet WELCOME TO MOOSEPORT should the opportunity arise. And to advertise my big New Year DJ set at The End of All Music on Saturday, January 5! Come hear me play my scratched-up records with so much filth in the grooves because I didn't take good care of them! Starts at 2PM.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
BIG SUR and started VANITY OF DULUOZ, which was given to me by Bill Boyle, and which starts out in a cranky-old-man-these-no-good-kids-these-days kind of tone. Kerouac pouts in the first paragraph of VANITY OF DULUOZ, "Insofar as nobody loves my dashes anyway, I'll use regular punctuation for the new illiterate generation." But it wasn't the punctuation that got me down about BIG SUR, or not only, though there were dashes aplenty. Yeah, that one went over my head, I guess, though it pepped up near the end with an elaborately gross nightmare or hallucination about Vulture People that was good and horrible to read on a stormy night, which I did. Duluoz spent most of BIG SUR wondering whether he was crazy or everyone else was crazy, a predicament not dissimilar to Oliver's in GREEN ACRES. Hey! It suddenly occurs to me that one of the narrator's central preoccupations in BIG SUR was country living vs. city life, a dialectic perhaps most eloquently explored in the GREEN ACRES theme song. I don't know, maybe it IS the punctuation, but VANITY OF DULUOZ is putting me in a better humor. Kerouac either pathetically or hilariously (or both) broods on tender grudges from when he was playing high school football: "I had to sit there and watch some of those bums prance and dance, one little leg sprain and there's heroic Pietryka making sure to remove his helmet when he was helped limping off the field so everybody could see his tragic hair waving in the autumn breeze." That seemed like a Barry Hannah sentence to me, with some of the same immediate, wounded poetry of sarcasm, not to mention the subject matter, and I remember talking to somebody a while back about whether or not Barry was influenced by Kerouac, but I don't remember the person or the answer.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Speaking of frosting, what about flocking? Joey told me that when you spray fake snow on a Christmas tree that is called "flocking" and there are professionals who do it. She met "The Flocking Wizard of California" although that's not really what she called him. I can't remember his real title. Sorry! But it was something magnificent. And now I'm not even sure it's called "flocking." So never mind.
I give you this poodle made of frosting from the cookbook MAGIC IN FROSTING, courtesy of Kelly Hogan. Now you don't even have to "click" on it because I told you what it is... and perhaps that's the greatest gift of all.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
I bought a cowboy hat to help me dress up like Hunter S. Thompson for a party even though for all I know Hunter S. Thompson never wore a cowboy hat but I couldn't find the right kind of fishing hat and it was getting late and the cowboy hat cost too much money to wear just once so now I have to wear a cowboy hat everywhere I go so don't make fun of my cowboy hat.
Obituary in today's New York Times for a woman named Midge, who was married to a guy named Ham. Midge and Ham! Names evocative of another time. There's a character named Ham in my cat book, which I guess I am going to have to publish myself. Kent has promised to do the illustrations.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
TCM before coffee. Right away, before I could tell anything about the plot, the movie gave off an automatic Cold War paranoia vibe, one of my favorite flavors. And then - still without the benefit of coffee - I started noticing how the camera liked to rise over narrow pathways that bisected the screen, as one lone figure or another (a guard dog in a razor-wire enclosure, for example, or our Rat Pack-ish protagonist striding down the pier on the way to his houseboat - was it a houseboat? It should have been a houseboat) moved into the distance. A visual motif! It was a poor print, maybe, and people were sometimes bathed in a pale pink or green light that, decaffeinated as I was, I found mesmerizing. It was like the light in Jerry Lewis's THREE ON A COUCH, except nothing in Jerry is ever washed-out or faded. Pinks and greens were anomalous in a film made up mostly of men in gray sweaters, gray tweed jackets, or gray suits (only one woman in the cast while I was watching) sitting around on cream-colored furniture. Many times the palette verged on black-and-white, with a blue bowl or some reddish-brown tiles or such providing the only variety. At one point a scientist said something like, "Yes, we found an ugly but fitting name for this virus... we call it........ THE SATAN BUG." The way he said it (however he said it), the title of the movie could have only been THE SATAN BUG and indeed that is what it turned out to be. (I hadn't even thought to check, because the great thing was that I was barely awake and didn't care if the movie was "good" or not and I still don't know if it was "good" or not and I'm okay.) The hero wasn't really Rat Pack-ish, probably, except in his personal life. On the job, he became a deadpan Jason Bourne type, I guess. I don't know. I was just looking at the movie and not thinking about plot or characters. For extra credit, contrast the lab scene above, in which colors are almost monastically isolated, with the vibrant, explosive opening of Lewis's THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. At the left of the frame, a guy in a gray suit, standing under a sickly green light, just like I said. (See also.)
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Frank Sinatra album NO ONE CARES here. Megan Abbott and I have discussed it quite a bit. Frank sounds like he's about to have a nervous collapse on a couple of the numbers! And one of them can only - ONLY! (and Megan and I have wracked our brains for other options) - be interpreted as Frank's wistful love song to a hobo. You'll know it when you hear it. Well, a character in BIG SUR mentions Frank and sings a few bars of the title track. I thought you'd want to know. You don't.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Wow there are so many owls in BIG SUR by Jack Kerouac they just keep coming and here I am just barely at the beginning and now I am punctuating like Jack Kerouac too. Could it be that Jack Kerouac will beat Sam Shepard for the coveted most owls award?
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
I finished reading JANE EYRE and started reading BIG SUR and to my perhaps unwarranted amazement here at the beginning of BIG SUR seems to be a mixed-up JANE EYRE allusion unless I am crazy, and what is more, the BEGINNING of BIG SUR alludes to the END of JANE EYRE, so that the two books are like two elephants marching along, one elephant holding onto the other elephant's tail with its trunk, yes, I will let that image stand. So I will tell you this allusion, which may count as a JANE EYRE spoiler, though as I say it is a little mixed up: "one of these days a big Orson Welles tragedy with screaming ghosts a woman in a white nightgown'll go flying down that sheer cliff" and you know Orson Welles played Rochester in the old movie and you see what I'm getting at, right?
Yes, yes, just as I predicted, there is an owl in Jack Kerouac's novel BIG SUR, and in fact there is more than one owl, by page 14, multiple owls, no waiting. So now I don't have to stop "blogging" forever as I swore to do if there were no owls in BIG SUR. So relax! I finished JANE EYRE and it was really great, despite this big dud character St. John Rivers who comes in pretty near the end (not near enough!) and walks around being pious and silent for what seems like a couple of hundred pages. And for some reason - no reason! - the last two paragraphs of the whole book are about him! He is like Frank Sinatra in that other guy's obituary I was telling you about, only St. John Rivers is nothing like Frank Sinatra. I could have used lots more Rosamond Oliver, the beauteous needle factory heiress who slips out of the novel and never returns. I am not sure I would have missed St. John Rivers had he been left out altogether, though I might have missed Jane Eyre's hilariously passive aside after she zings him with one of her zingers: "I will not swear, reader, that there was not something of repressed sarcasm both in the tone in which I uttered this sentence, and in the feeling that accompanied it."
Sunday, December 16, 2012
1) Hey! ADVENTURE TIME, on which I have been so happy to do a little work lately, is one of the top ten TV shows of the year, according to the New York Times. So all right! 2) Some poor old dude's obit in the New York Times. The first five paragraphs are about Frank Sinatra and Joltin' Joe DiMaggio busting down a door - with an axe? - to get at him. (He was really across the street, putting the moves on Marilyn Monroe.) Frank doesn't come off too well in that anecdote, does he? I think, as so oft I do, of Kelly Hogan and her famous ambivalence. The problem is compounded by the fact that Frank appears to have bullied his way into this poor guy's obituary - with an axe! - and taken it over completely.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Prompted by JANE EYRE and WUTHERING HEIGHTS, Tom Franklin and Jimmy and Paul (I don't believe you know Paul) and I started talking ignorantly of moors and bogs and fens at the party and started doing research at the party.
1) I have been thinking about the influence of Jerry Lewis on Tom Waits. 2) Last night Lee Durkee and I discussed Oliver Douglas from GREEN ACRES as a figure in existential crisis. 3) When I was in Los Angeles last week, my brother and nephews and I went to the Golden Apple comic book store, where I bought an archival volume of ARCHIE comics from 1945 and 1946. It's still in the shrink wrap, but I have to note that on the back cover, Jughead - so goofy and neutered now! - looks like a scowling punk. (See also.)
Friday, December 14, 2012
I didn't mean to get your hopes up last night when I told you about the funniest book in the world! My twitter friend Phil McAndrew (oh gosh let's just call him my real friend!) told me that THE BLADE by Don Novello sells for something like 100 big ones on the "internet." It's out of print! And in fact, after he reminded me of that, I remembered my big plan to get a copy for John Brandon and how I was broke and sobbing and thinking oh well no BLADE for John Brandon because it costs so much. It is a terrible shame that THE BLADE is not more readily available to THE PEOPLE. It's FOR the people! Maybe I will use my power and influence at McSweeney's (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I have zero power and influence at McSweeney's... OR DO I? I don't) to try to get THE BLADE back where it belongs: RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE. Now I am thinking McSweeney's is the place for it, because it really needs to be a book, not an electronic book that runs on electricity like they have out nowadays. My friend Ward McCarthy (not to be confused with Pendleton Ward) and I worked with Don Novello once and I got a copy of THE BLADE directly from Mr. Novello himself and I remember Ward driving in Los Angeles while I was reading THE BLADE and laughing until I was crying and I kept showing Ward stuff in THE BLADE while he was speeding down the highways and byways of that great sprawling metropolis of tender dreams (we were probably lost; we got lost a couple of times, once after our "hipster chimp shoot") and Ward would laugh until he had DEADLY TEARS in his eyes, but thank God we didn't crash. It was like we were "texting" and driving - with a real text! - before it was cool. It's not cool to text and drive. We could have been killed by the greatest power the world has ever known: the power of laughing at a high school yearbook that is all sheep instead of people. PS While I keep talking about books that make you laugh until you cry, please don't forget TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE VOL. 1 by Michael Kupperman, and there is a VOL. 2 coming out soon! There will be so much happy weeping if I have my way. Just stay off the roads. Attention government: I get nothing out of this but the satisfying thought of everybody lying around clutching their stomachs and crying. In a good way!
Thursday, December 13, 2012
ADVENTURE TIME fans may know her as the person who made up Fionna and Cake. I think! I think she made them up. If she didn't make them up, she had a big part in making them up. I don't know what I'm talking about, ever, but I'm pretty sure she made up Fionna and Cake. May God forgive me if I am wrong! And she has a great "blog" too and is doing so many other awesome things. Kent told me she is making her own show, for example. It is called BEE AND PUPPYCAT. So watch out! She is the person I met who got caviar out of a vending machine with her friend Patrick! But that's not what I'm talking about. So "click" on this, for just one random thing, and you can slowly get to know Natasha Allegri, "internet" style! And guess what? One of our cats is named Pan and her cat is named Pancake. Okay!
Ace Atkins came over tonight for the second feature in our George Lazenby Film Festival, the film festival so exclusive we only watch one movie every two years. This time we watched STONER and there was nothing much to talk about. I pretended that the soundtrack said "Hey, Stoner! Hey, Stoner!" and Ace Atkins and Dr. Theresa almost bought it (the theme song to our last George Lazenby movie went "Oh, Ryker! Oh, Ryker!" - the name of George Lazenby's character in that one - and Ace became friends with the composer over the "internet"), though the singers were really singing in Chinese, and not saying "Stoner" at all. It really sounded more like, "Oh, mama!" But it wasn't. It was Chinese. Like I said, there wasn't much to talk about in STONER. Ace, in a hypnotized voice, said, "Look at those mustards... dark browns..." and Dr. Theresa, likewise entranced, said, "Avocado greens," because all they had to talk about was the colors in the movie, and George Lazenby's awesome fighting skills, and the tragic life and career trajectory of George Lazenby, as I just sat there kind of going, "Hmm." I did suggest at one point that McNeil should be here because he loves to talk about carpet and lamps in movies, which is what Ace and Dr. Theresa were doing. Then Ace said, "Is he real?" (Meaning McNeil.) Yes, he is real! Ace is the millionth person to bother me with the question of whether or not McNeil is real. He is so totally real! Somehow the great comedy writer and performer Don Novello came up and I dragged out my copy of THE BLADE, the funniest book ever made, and Ace and I turned the pages and literally WEPT with helpless laughter as the George Lazenby movie continued, unobserved, except maybe, MAYBE, by Dr. Theresa, who filled us in on things we missed, such as, "He just climbed up a cliff with his boots thrown over his shoulder!" Poor George Lazenby! But THE BLADE is this amazing thing, this totally deadpan high school yearbook with sheep instead of people, and THERE IS NOT A SINGLE JOKE IN IT. That's what makes it so funny! THERE IS NOT A SINGLE JOKE IN IT. It is nothing but a high school yearbook with sheep instead of people. I can't explain it. Hey, you people who want to be "funny" or tell "jokes," READ THE BLADE BY DON NOVELLO FIRST. And then give up. I did. John Brandon came over to the house one time and I tried to describe THE BLADE to him, and then I tried to find it, but I couldn't remember where I put it. No matter! I just kept weeping with laughter instead, which made John Brandon weep with laughter too. That is how funny THE BLADE by Don Novello is, it can make you weep with laughter even though you have never seen it, like John Brandon. John Brandon even made me promise never to show it to him because it could not possibly live up to how much it was making him laugh through my description. BUT JOHN BRANDON WAS WRONG. I am telling you, it is the funniest thing that has ever been made. THE BLADE by Don Novello! THE FUNNIEST BOOK THAT HAS EVER BEEN MADE.
Hey I stopped by to see John Currence at his office and there was famed food stylist and my pal Angie Mosier snapping photos of a bowl of country captain. What's "country captain," you ask? It's one of those regional dishes like West Indies salad that I promise I'll explain to you one day but I never will because I'm always so tired. But that's not the point. Angie was snapping photos for John's upcoming cookbook. "There's a lot of profanity, I noticed," said Angie of the text of John Currence's cookbook. Then she and John Currence began swapping some profanities to humorous effect. But that's not the point either. The point is that I got to eat the food after they took pictures of it! John put the country captain in a skillet and heated it up on the stove and poured it into a bowl in a less stylized incarnation than the one in which it had so glamorously appeared for posterity just moments before and I ate every piping hot and succulent morsel of the country captain and in addition could have eaten, might very well have eaten - indeed was explicitly encouraged to do so - the crab cakes that were prepared and photographed afterward but I had some errands to run and I drove off looking in the rearview mirror with a single tear making its way down my face as the crab cakes receded into the irretrievable distance and I thought of all the lessons I had just learned. So if AND WHEN you buy John Currence's cookbook and you go to the page where the country captain is and you see the picture of the country captain you can think to yourself, "Jack ate that country captain! Wow," you can think, "How about that! Jack ate that country captain. THAT country captain! That one RIGHT THERE! Hey, honey, come take a look at this! Jack ate that country captain! No, I'm serious, THAT COUNTRY CAPTAIN RIGHT THERE. But he didn't eat those crab cakes." And then you'll close the book and stare thoughtfully - and somewhat forlornly - into the emptiness of space.
Los Angeles in which I used the phrase "those tall pointy hats with the gauzy material hanging down." I claimed during the subsequent video conference that I couldn't figure out how to look up the proper name for those hats, and then Kent (who was on the other end of the call) just hopped on the "google" and IMMEDIATELY "googled" it up by entering the search phrase "medieval pointy hat." It's a hennin! And here I am, a guy who prides himself on being one of the world's finest "googlers." You know, I didn't really make an effort. I'm so ashamed. I am trying to console myself with the idea that nobody would know what you meant if you dropped the word "hennin" in a conversation anyway. Like, if you said something about a hennin, they would be like, "What's a hennin?" And you'd have to be like, "Well, it's one of those those tall pointy hats with the gauzy material hanging down," so knowing that word really doesn't do you any good at all, because isn't that how the conversation would go? Learning is for suckers! Well, except for my awesome friend Mary in the English Department. I imagine her always staring into a huge dusty book with a picture of a lady in an elaborate hennin on one of the pages, because I'm pretty sure that's what she does all day and all night too, and if I walked into the cell-like room with a high window where I'm assuming she does this and said, "Hey, get a load of that hennin!" she'd know just what I meant, but she's the only one, right? Also in the video conference, the pronunciation of "conical" came up (in connection with hennins) and I was suddenly and irrationally terrified that I might have been pronouncing "conical" incorrectly all these years, culminating in a video conference where brilliant creative professionals could hear me mispronouncing "conical" clear across this great nation we call home! But later I looked it up in my WEBSTER'S NEW TWENTIETH CENTURY DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, UNABRIDGED, SECOND EDITION from 1974 and it turns out I've been doing just fine with "conical," pronouncing it quite perfectly, in fact, though a glance at the next column informs me I haven't been doing so well with "conifer." There was no animosity involved in the former case, of course, but I am reminded of the time a student - A STUDENT! - called me out rather smirkingly in front of the whole class for mispronouncing "whilst," but I WASN'T. I WASN'T MISPRONOUNCING WHILST. You know who was mispronouncing "whilst"? HE WAS. So who's crazy NOW? Who's crazy now, jerk from several years ago who doesn't read this "blog" and wouldn't even remember what I'm talking about if he did? WHO'S CRAZY NOW?
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The donkey and owl combo on the cover of BIG SUR makes me wonder whether Jack Kerouac ever read THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ because as I am sure you recall THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ features a donkey and owl living together in a house in the woods. Are they a couple? They kind of act like a couple.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
I just got out my paperback of BIG SUR and part of the cover shows some dark woods with the silhouette of a donkey, I guess, poking out of the trees, and from deep within these cartoon woods comes a quavery cartoon dialogue bubble with these words in it: "HOO... HOO... WHOOO..." (and there are lots more dots besides) and that's got to be an owl making those noises, right? An owl in the woods? I used to think SHADOW BOX by George Plimpton was the winner of the "earliest owl in a book" award because Plimpton put an owl in the epigraph. But here is a strongly implied owl on a cover. And you know, I really believe there will be an owl in this book. I believe it so much that I am going to go ahead and place BIG SUR on my big long list of books with owls in them that everybody loves so much. Somehow, I believe this book has an owl in it even more than I would if the cover just showed a big old owl staring at me straight up. But I'm taking an enormous gamble! This is the bravest thing I have ever done as a human person living a mortal life on this fragile planet we call earth. BECAUSE WHAT IF THERE IS NO OWL IN THIS BOOK? It will make a mockery of everything I hold dear and I will never "blog" again. Here do I swear it!
Hey remember when I decided to read THE REIVERS because the bad guys on the TV show FIREFLY were called Reavers? Ha ha what an idiot. Well last night I was watching David Letterman and Anne Hathaway said she got married in Big Sur and my brain informed me that once I finish reading JANE EYRE I am going to read BIG SUR by Jack Kerouac and that is what I am going to do. I like telling you everything I do and think and think I'll do! And you are powerless to stop me.
the old band drifting along on Mobile Bay (on a steamboat, the bass player Michael says; I don't remember). Hey, remember how I said I was "posting" photos of myself here on the "blog" by default because I so nobly left facebook? Well, too bad, look at this, I'm back on facebook but it's still coming at you. Turns out I just love looking at pictures of myself! That's me in the middle singing with my hands in my pockets. Not even Perry Como was lazy enough to sing with his hands in his pockets 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 ha ha I know you love Perry Como jokes.
I realize that the previous "post" should have also had these "labels" at the bottom of it: "action" and "the cosmos." And probably some more I am forgetting. BUT I ALREADY USED UP LITERALLY TWICE THE ALLOWED AMOUNT OF LABELS and I have no place for any more labels. No place but here. Also, I would like to mention that I read a New York Times obituary yesterday in which one sentence began, "With his trademark monocle, frumpy suits and penchant for playing the xylophone..." I am going to work very hard to make sure a sentence in my obituary starts that way too.
Monday, December 10, 2012
All it usually means is that I have gone on a little trip and that's what it means this time too. I went to Los Angeles to do some of my ADVENTURE TIME work. As usual, I thought about you the whole time and jotted down some little jottings in my precious little notebook for your pleasure and entertainment upon my return, and as a way of making amends for all the wrongs I have done you. I would now like to present you with those very jottings. 1) It has been a long time since I flew Delta Airlines and I had almost forgotten the Biscoff - the world's greatest airplane cookie, which is handed out on Delta flights. I love it so much that I wrote a paean to it on the McSweeney's "web" site many years ago. I guess if you dig around very hard you might be able to find my paean to the Biscoff buried somewhere in those archives, but I won't blame you if you decide there are more important things to do with your life. 2) Reading JANE EYRE on the airplane. Or should I say Eyreplane? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Mr. Rochester threatens to send Jane to work for "Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall of Bitternut Lodge." That sounds like a terrible place to work! Turns out Mr. Rochester is just goofing around anyway. 3) At Cartoon Network I met two nice people named Natasha and Patrick who had just bought a little package of caviar from "the caviar vending machine in the mall"! 4) Joey Lauren Adams and I accidentally stumbled upon the best bar in Los Angeles! I am not going to tell you the name because it is going to be our secret! But I brought a book of matches home with me so if you ever come over you can snoop around for clues, I guess. It was a very dark bar and one of the murals on the walls featured a unicorn - nor was this the final unicorn I encountered in Los Angeles, as you will soon discover. But that's for later! Right now I will tell you that when I ordered a Manhattan with rye, the bartender took a little slice of orange peel and alchemically passed a lit match over it and under it before dropping it in the drink as a final touch. And then I will tell you that as we sipped our drinks in the atmospheric dimness, Joey told me about the time she almost went hunting ghosts with Dan Aykroyd and Dan Aykroyd's brother! They really believe in ghosts and invited her along on one of their missions. Joey jumped at the opportunity! But as the brothers started gathering their equipment and giving her a terrifying list of rules NOT TO VIOLATE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, she started freaking out even though she did not believe in ghosts and therefore, to quote the words of Ray Parker, Jr., was under most circumstances not "afraid of no ghost." So anyway Joey missed her one chance to go ghostbusting with an actual ghostbuster from GHOSTBUSTERS. 5) Talked to my mom on the phone. She had taken my aunt to a movie for her birthday. I was surprised. Mom never goes to the movies! I asked what movie they went to see. "RED DAWN," said Mom, by which she meant the recent remake, of course. "It was awful," said Mom. I guess for this to be really funny or interesting you would have to know my mom and aunt, but you know what? I just don't care about your problems. 6) It was in a Burbank hotel room that I confirmed JANE EYRE does have owls in it, just as I always suspected! "I dreamt another dream, sir: that Thornfield Hall was a dreary ruin, the retreat of bats and owls." 7) Speaking of owls, the great M. Emmett Walsh does the voice of The Cosmic Owl, a deity on ADVENTURE TIME. Kent told me that when M. Emmett Walsh came in to record his lines, he handed everybody pictures of himself, along with two-dollar bills! Kent gave me his photo of M. Emmett Walsh, which unfortunately is not quite - though frustratingly close to - wallet-sized. I would love to have a photo of M. Emmett Walsh in my wallet. 8) Speaking of Kent Osborne, his brother Mark - like Kent, a beloved old friend - was in town for one night only and I got to see him! Mark had coincidentally flown in from Paris, where he is living now. Mark is directing a feature film based on THE LITTLE PRINCE, and he was in town to meet with a CERTAIN FAMED ACTOR about being in his movie. No hints! I think it would be okay to hint, but I don't want to take any chances. 9) Party at the home of Pendleton Ward, creator of ADVENTURE TIME. The wallpaper in his kitchen had unicorns and cyclopes on it, and yes, that is the correct spelling of the plural of cyclops. So you would think Pendleton Ward might have unicorns and cyclopes on his kitchen wallpaper but get this! There were already unicorns and cyclopes on the wallpaper WHEN HE MOVED IN. At the bottom of this "post" I will place a photograph taken by Kent Osborne, in which I seem to be gesturing with consternation at the kitchen wallpaper of Pendleton Ward. 10) Saturday morning I went across the street to Starbucks to get coffee and noticed the guy from Tenacious D in line in front of me - not Jack Black, the other guy. Part of me was thinking I could blow his mind by saying, "You were great in CRADLE WILL ROCK." But I said nothing! And that was the best decision of all. Really I was just cracking myself up inside, kind of pretending to believe I could blow his mind by doing that. I could not blow his mind by doing that. 11) When I went to the counter to get my refill, I was staring at the back of a guy in an extremely nice WEIRD SCIENCE jacket, like a crew jacket, with leather and everything. I thought, "I bet he was on the crew of WEIRD SCIENCE!" The barista asked his name so she could tell him when his order was ready and he said, "Todd." So I made a secret vow that when I got home I would look up on imdb what Todds, if any, worked on WEIRD SCIENCE. As I left the Starbucks, I noted that the name "Todd" was fancily stitched on the breast of his WEIRD SCIENCE jacket. Okay, I just looked it up and the only Todd I see is Todd Hoffman, who played one of "The Weenies" in WEIRD SCIENCE but I have not seen WEIRD SCIENCE since it came out and I don't remember what "The Weenies" might be, so I can neither confirm nor deny that I have found the correct Todd. 12) There was a pet store next to the place where I ate breakfast with my brother and my nephews. On the window of the pet store was a poster for a book called HARRIET'S JOURNAL. The cover of the book was a photo of a possum apparently drinking a cup of coffee. I don't know what this book is, but I assume it is the amazing true story of one woman and her unlikely encounter with a possum that changed her life, but I don't know. I went in the pet store and looked around and didn't see the book and left quickly because pet stores bum me out, although the staff of this one seemed particularly attentive and kind to the animals. Photo of the photo of a possum drinking coffee (above) by my brother. 13) I think I met the nicest bank teller in the world, or maybe that's just the way the bank tellers of California are, maybe that's their thing, maybe they're trained for it. I was in the middle of performing a very simple transaction (depositing a check) and he said, "May I offer you a bottle of water?" He is the first - and I am sure, only - bank teller to ever offer me a bottle of water. 14) My brother and nephews and I went to a car wash. It looked like the car wash from the movie CAR WASH. But my brother, who was paying from his spot in the driver's seat and was thus in the perfect position, REFUSED TO ASK! 15) We went to a cool vintage toy shop to which one of my nephews had been wanting to go for a long time. Turned out to be next to The Scarlet Lady Saloon and The Tattle Tale Room. I met a man who was wearing sleigh bells around his neck. He said he had fallen off a roof onto his head at the age of three. He seemed like a nice person who had had some bad luck. 16) I saw Josie from the movie version of JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS doing some holiday shopping (not near The Scarlet Lady Saloon! Somewhere else entirely). I don't think Ace Atkins would mind me telling you that he likes that movie. I have heard him say so in public. We were at dinner once with a large group. And down the table he said, "Jack likes that movie, too. Hey, Jack, didn't you tell me you like that movie, too?" Yet like St. Peter I denied him thrice. 17) It was at this point in my jottings that I realized (and jotted) that if I "posted" everything I had jotted so far, the "post," if "labeled" "correctly," would require more than the maximum amount of "allowed" labels. 18) Dinner with Laraine Newman! She looked like a kid! (And her husband, by his own - accurate! - assessment, looked like Anthony Michael Hall.) But she really looked like a kid. Laraine Newman and I have been pen pals for a while but it was my first time meeting her. When I called Mom to let her know I had made it back to Mississippi okay, I told her about dinner with Laraine Newman and Mom said, "Don't you wish you could go back in time and tell your 12-year-old self that story?" And Mom was right! It is impossible to overstate the impact - the salvation! - of that original season of Saturday Night Live on a 12-year-old boy in rural Alabama. 19) As I sat at the bar waiting for Laraine Newman (!) and drinking a Manhattan, I thought, "Here I am waiting for Laraine Newman! And this time tomorrow I will be grading finals." And then I sighed like Charlie Brown. 20) Speaking of which, I need to thank Dr. Theresa and Bill Boyle for proctoring my finals while I was strutting around Hollywood acting like a big shot. 21) The restaurant, which Laraine had described to me beforehand as a "genuine Rat Pack hangout," had a photo of Frank Sinatra on the men's room door. Over the urinal: a photo of Sinatra and Tony Curtis peeing against a wall. I felt I had to check who was on the door of the women's room. Marilyn Monroe. I love Marilyn, but I was hoping for Shirley MacLaine. 22) The owner of the restaurant came over and told us we were sitting at Dean Martin's old table! He also told us that Dean Martin had driven him to his high school prom. (You can read more about that in an article Laraine Newman wrote. "Click" here. She sent it to me this morning. Laraine's article also contains - spoiler alert! - the unforgettable image of Frank Sinatra shooting bullets into stacks of money.) 23) JANE EYRE: "The crisis was perilous; but not without its charm." 24) "... the moon was setting in the waves, broad and red, like a hot cannon-ball..." That's more JANE EYRE. By the way, a glance at the stats tells me our "blog"trospective on the moon is by far the least popular "blog"trospective. What's the matter with you people? Don't you like the moon? 25) I just realized I skipped an entire page of jottings from much earlier. It starts with another JANE EYRE passage, of course, describing an emotional (not literal) landscape: "A Christmas frost had come at midsummer; a white December storm had whirled over June; ice glazed the ripe apples, drifts crushed the blowing roses; on hay-field and corn-field lay a frozen shroud." 26) First sentence of an L.A. Times article: "Donny and Marie Osmond hit the stage at the Pantages Theater in a cloud of nearly palpable pizazz." I tried to figure out what I found so troubling yet compelling: was it that "nearly palpable" pizazz is no pizazz at all? Was it the idea that pizazz comes in cloud form? 27) Waiting in the lobby for my brother and the boys. The hotel lobby is decorated with actual books, all different books, but in identical, blank white covers. The effect is disorienting for a lover of books. You just have to take them off the shelves and see what they are. I opened one at random to page 329 and read about "a penumbra of unfamiliar shapes obscured in the dim owl-light," whatever that is, and that's how I know THE FINAL CLUB by Geoffrey Wolff is a book with an owl in it. 28) I see on another page that I forgot to tell you about something else! Between The Scarlet Lady Saloon and The Tattle Tale Room (see above) was an aquarium supply store, where my brother and nephews and I saw something called a "glass catfish." It was a real fish, a real transparent fish, and it looked like a fish skeleton swimming around. Goodness, what else important have I neglected to tell you? 29) I read in a magazine at the airport that Dan Aykroyd has webbed toes and I thought, "Did I already know that?" 30) Flying back, I was seated next to the SAME GUY who had been sitting next to me on the way to L.A.! Weird! He flies a lot and says it has never happened to him before. He said he lived in Oxford and I said, "Me too!" He said he teaches at the university and I said, "Me too!" He said he had flown out for business but stayed an extra day so he could visit his brother. ME TOO ON ALL COUNTS! It was starting to feel like the beginning of that Ionesco play, I think it's THE BALD SOPRANO, I might be wrong. Both of us are bad fliers! Both of our wives love Hong Kong action movies! And so on. 31) A dog got on the plane! A German shepherd. He or she (no, he, I heard a guy with him say, "Good boy") just got on the plane and trotted down the aisle like anybody else. Maybe he sat in a seat! I lost track. 32) In the magazine, Albert Brooks talked about Steven Spielberg directing from a young age: "He put his dog in a certain position and made him eat at four o'clock." Why did that simple sentence make me laugh so hard on the airplane? It shares a quality with certain sentences I like by Jerry Lewis. Why do I keep calling it "the magazine"? So irritatingly vague on my part. It's the VANITY FAIR comedy issue and there are tons of good stuff in it. 32) A guy in one of the seats in front of me on the airplane had a particular kind of bald spot that made it look as if the FRONT of someone's head was sticking up just a bit over the headrest, like maybe his head was on backwards. 33) VANITY FAIR: Elaine May used to be a private eye. 34) "Tombstone Blues" came on the iPod and it reminded me of something I haven't thought about in decades: an itinerant evangelist I saw in a church service as a kid. He theorized in great detail that the lyrics to "Tombstone Blues" (of all songs to pick as the centerpiece of your sermon!) formed an elaborate anti-Christian parable. I had never heard of "Tombstone Blues" and in fact it is almost a certainty I had never heard of Bob Dylan. But the lyrics the preacher quoted struck me as awesome and I guess that's when I got interested in Bob Dylan for the first time. Missionary fail!
Hey I am about to write a really long "post," a "post" so long that it will require many, many labels at the bottom, too many labels, yes, I am preparing to zoom past the "blog's" maximum labeling capacity, so I would like to apologize to the following labels that I am pretty sure are not going to be squeezed in at the end of the next "post":
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
John T. Edge is in Kazakhstan? Well, neither did I! But today's "Blog" Mail "Bag" reveals all! Blair Hobbs sends along this photo snapped by John T. of a weird Kazakhstan squirrel. Actually, it is a NORMAL Kazakhstan squirrel! Our squirrels of Mississippi would appear strange to the people of Kazakhstan! THINK ABOUT IT! And guess what? By complete coincidence, in the same batch of email, Lee Durkee sent me a "link" to a conspiracy theorist who claims to see a squirrel-like creature in the most recent photos from the surface of Mars. A Martian squirrel "THEY" don't want you to know about! I do not present you with the "link" here because it comes from the forbidden part of the "internet," that "bourn from which no traveler returns" oh ha ha ha oh gee but I hate myself gee whiz. I did send the "link" directly to McNeil, naturally, and he claimed to see more squirrels than the conspiracy theorist did. That's not true. He said there were lots of other "rocks that look like squirrels" in the picture. So he was really saying that all the conspiracy theorist had spied was a dumb old squirrel-shaped rock. But it's a better story if McNeil believes that Mars is crawling with squirrels. PS THE LAST TIME WE MENTIONED MARS ON THE "BLOG" IS ALSO THE LAST TIME WE MENTIONED SQUIRRELS ON THE "BLOG." "CLICK" HERE IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME! FOOLS! DO SOMETHING BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!
Not long ago in the New York Times we found out that Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn acting together were like "a giraffe attempting to mate with a hedgehog." Today there is a review in the New York Times of a biography that is "like watching a moose try to describe a leopard." I detect a trend! I am going to keep an eye on it for you, don't you worry, don't you worry yourself about it at all, I am on the case, please just go about your daily business, I am keeping an eye on everything!
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
I like everything Jane Eyre says! Especially "deglutition"! Speaking of bitterness, here I am sitting under a sign that says BITTER, yes, I am always sitting under a sign that says BITTER. In this case I am flanked by Bill Boyle and Ace Atkins, and hey, look, I have explained this over and over: now that I am off facebook, here is where you will find the vomitous dregs of my facebookian self-regard. I can't even feel sorry for it. I have no feelings left! Lest anyone misinterpret the conjunction of title and photo, never would I suggest that the City Grocery Bar sells washy draughts if I am understanding any of those words correctly, which almost certainly I am not.
Monday, December 03, 2012
Jane Eyre calls 'em like she sees 'em! I guess that's why I love her! What else can I tell you? The novel - like the John Wayne movie EL DORADO and at least one translation of THE IDIOT - contains the word "charivari." I still haven't come across the expected owl, though "the widest-winged condor on the Andes" makes a metaphorical appearance. Nice try, but not good enough, Jayne Eyre! Also, it's getting pretty crazy now. Still not WUTHERING HEIGHTS crazy, but kind of crazy. SPOILER! If you are my sister, don't read this next part. One dude says, "She sucked the blood: she said she'd drain my heart," and he ain't kidding! Pictured, the climactic scene from JANE EYRE. Not really! It's from the live-action Disney film CONDORMAN. My deepest apologies to Jane Eyre and everyone else, everybody in the world.
Sunday, December 02, 2012
I like Jane Eyre's reflection on her relationship with Mr. Rochester: "I knew the pleasure of vexing him and soothing him by turns; it was one I chiefly delighted in, and a sure instinct always prevented me from going too far: beyond the verge of provocation I never ventured; on the extreme brink I liked well to try my skill."
I just accidentally read a short story from my first book and it was okay! My first book is the only one of my books I really like. You should get that one if you want one. But if you don't read any of them you will be just fine and continue to live a productive life. So no pressure! Anyway, one of the characters in the story was a professional Bob Balaban lookalike, and I thought, ha ha ha. As Lee Durkee and I were discussing the other day, you really forget what's in your books after you finish writing them. And Tom Franklin said something similar last time I saw him. So I was pleasantly surprised when I thought, ha ha ha. The story has my favorite last sentence I have written: "I was just thinking about that monkey."
As has been pointed out here before, that Margalit Fox can really throw down an obituary. Today we have "pantalooned fops and gin-soaked playwrights" in the first sentence! Can it be a coincidence that this obituary has a "large snowy owl" in it?
Saturday, December 01, 2012
Lee Durkee, a real trouper. He spoke to my noon class yesterday and then he had to stick around with me for three hours before speaking to my four o'clock class. Above and beyond! We occupied ourselves in various ways. We had Arnold Palmers at Ajax, for example, and sipped them very, very, very slowly as the minutes ticked by. The young woman with all the parking tickets was working and refused to let us pay! So thanks to her too. I also took Lee to the mysterious part of the library and revealed unto him its glories. I guess my favorite thing he said was to my four o'clock class, when he suddenly - and truthfully! - declared, "GREEN ACRES was magic realism." I didn't have the heart to tell him that, like Craig Ferguson, not one of those kids has any idea what GREEN ACRES is. Tragically! (On the other hand, the New York Times doesn't understand GREEN ACRES any better than my students do, as I have most forcefully demonstrated here.) I am pretty sure I mumbled something about magic realism to the students at some point earlier this semester, at least. This morning Lee sent me a video of John Dee's magic mirror. "Click" here to see it. And look, I must thank Sarah, who made this doll (pictured above) for me. I have lost all contact with Sarah since leaving facebook, so if anyone who knows Sarah sees this, tell her I said thanks! It was handed to me by a third party, the doll was, just the other day, gratis, out of nowhere, without warning. The way I remember it, I was at a reading by Melissa Ginsburg and Ann Fisher-Wirth at the Powerhouse, some months ago, and Sarah was there and asked me what my spirit animal was and I said probably orangutan and here you see the happy result. I have something else Sarah made, a candy-striped pole festooned with plush red squids, for which I paid cold cash money after spying it displayed as part of her undergraduate senior Honors thesis project. And you know, I like to brandish it. I was at a Christmas party last year where all the kids (and none of the adults) were wearing devil hats, so I wheedled my way into a spare devil hat, only, in the most Freudian way possible, the horns on my devil hat refused to stand up, which should have taught me a lesson about hubris or something, but sometimes I like to put on the drooping devil hat and brandish the squid stick (as I call it, no, in my mind I capitalize it, The Squid Stick) and feel like some kind of wizard, I guess (see John Dee, above). Photo below by Blair Hobbs.
Friday, November 30, 2012
the "secret doomed project" I promised to tell you about sometime? Well, I went to New York City to interview Jerry Lewis. Jerry Lewis called me at home to set it up! But I wasn't home so I had to CALL HIM BACK. I have a scrap of paper RIGHT HERE upon which Dr. Theresa wrote down Jerry Lewis's HOME PHONE NUMBER. I have not abused it! I have only used it once. So I went to New York. But then, on the night before our interview, Mr. Lewis collapsed just prior to going onstage to present an award to Tom Cruise. He was rushed to the hospital! So the interview was called off and I wrote an article about almost interviewing Jerry Lewis instead. The published article was illustrated by none other than Tony Millionaire! He drew me sitting under an enormous portrait of Jerry Lewis, looking worried, my precious little notebook on the bar beside me. A masterpiece! Who knew that I would turn out to be the most popular male model of the early 21st century? Mr. Millionaire very kindly sent me the original drawing in the mail and I just took a picture of it with my picture-taking camera that takes pictures and here it is. So soon enough Jerry was fine and our interview was relocated to Nashville, where Jerry's musical version of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR was in previews. But then Marvin Hamlisch, the composer of the show's music, passed away, and things were thrown into turmoil once again so now I have almost interviewed Jerry Lewis twice and I have talked to him on the phone twice yet I feel so empty inside.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
THE IRON PETTICOAT. Aw, it wasn't so bad! Or maybe that's the whiskey talking. Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn started drinking whiskey early in the movie and I am highly suggestible. First Robert Osborne came on and introduced it. He said that nobody has seen this movie in 40 years, because when the rights reverted to Bob Hope, he locked it up tight. I guess Bob was ashamed of it! Ben Hecht wrote the screenplay, but Bob decided to have his gag writers punch it up Bob Hope style, which made Ben Hecht furious. There was lots of trouble. But I must say that anything I laughed at in the movie bore the distinct mark of having been added by Bob Hope's gag writers. The movie starts with a score that indicates we are about to watch the curtain rise on a turbulent opera. It's heavy! Like Wagner trying to evoke a stormy seascape or something. Katharine Hepburn's Russian accent is somewhere between German and Dracula, with some French thrown in and something else... Spanish? She rolls her r's really expansively. But the minute Bob comes onscreen the energy and pep are palpable. He just breezes in and starts tossing off one-liners, walking in that supremely graceful way of his. He's so relaxed that during a scene with his commanding officer he just swivels back and forth on a chair casually, like a little kid, like he's thinking of something else. I was proud to notice an actual Russian (I think), a guy I recognized - decades younger here! - from Woody Allen's own Russian epic, LOVE AND DEATH. He plays a martial arts expert in THE IRON PETTICOAT. This Russian (I guess) and Bob have a funny fight scene, during which Bob unforgivably breaks character to make a Bing Crosby joke. So that's another Woody Allen/Bob Hope connection, which we collect here. The politics of the film is standard Cold War stuff, except that a porcine anti-communist senator from Alabama is portrayed as a dumb boob. Very early in the movie, Katharine Hepburn is said to be "as sore as a boiled owl," an expression I have heard before, maybe in other old movies, but I still don't get it, not really, a boiled owl, sore, why? What's that? In conclusion, what's the big deal? Who cares? Who cares about anything? Goodbye forever.
Speaking of owls, I should mention that the most recent episode of ADVENTURE TIME featured an owl wearing a t-shirt that said OWL on it - so many levels! Many of my students are ADVENTURE TIME fans, and after class the other day a couple of them were saying that the episode in question made them think of "Children of the Corn," which we read earlier this semester, yes, that's right, we read "Children of the Corn" earlier this semester, shut up, leave me alone, you can't fire me, I quit.
I was delighted while reading JANE EYRE to discover that Mr. Rochester refers to himself as a "spoony" - a word with which I was previously unacquainted: "I began the process of ruining myself in the received style, like any other spoony... I had - as I deserved to have - the fate of all other spoonies." Still, I cannot help but recall what Philip Marlowe's friend Terry Lennox said about the gimlet: that it "beats the martini hollow." And likewise I must say that so far - so far! - WUTHERING HEIGHTS certainly beats JANE EYRE hollow. Not that it's a competition! (See also.)
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
one of my "video conferences" with the good folks at ADVENTURE TIME one of our cats jumped in my lap so naturally I had to pick up the cat and show the cat to the people in Los Angeles so they could see the cat and besides this is the cat who looks exactly like Kent Osborne's cat! So you can see why I had to show everybody the cat because everybody needed to see the cat. Cat! Photo by Kent Osborne.
Hey I am reading JANE EYRE now. Hey there are no owls in it yet. But there is "a North-of-England spirit, called a 'Gytrash'; which, in the form of horse, mule, or large dog, haunted solitary ways." (See also.)
"McNeil's Movie Korner"! Emailed McNeil to tell him the seldom-seen THE IRON PETTICOAT is coming on TCM tomorrow night. He replied that he doesn't have access to TCM right now, and has been reduced to watching EIGHT ON THE LAM on the "streaming video" they have nowadays. "I love it when Bob slips on the banana peel!" McNeil reports of the latter film. "Bob also has a 25 year old love interest! And, not coincidentally, the film is a Bob Hope Enterprise," he concludes. You know, I seem to recall that when Kelly Hogan was sick a couple of months ago, she watched EIGHT ON THE LAM to help her feel better. I'll try to confirm and get back to you with the tantalizing results of my in-depth investigation! Why am I so excited about THE IRON PETTICOAT? Dave Kehr, who is usually so pro-Bob, had nothing nice to say about it. He said that watching Katharine Hepburn and Bob Hope act together was like watching "a giraffe attempting to mate with a hedgehog." Hey, maybe that's why I'm excited! So long from "McNeil's Movie Korner."