Friday, August 31, 2012

Cold Light of Morning

In the cold light of morning I feel sort of bad about all the tweets I tweeted about Clint Eastwood's performance last night, cracking dirty jokes as he did to an imaginary President Obama represented by an empty chair. But it really was unexpected, and so striking and fascinating as it occurred, and I don't think it's going too far to compare it to something Andy Kaufman would have done back before we were all in on the joke, a tough era and sensation to recall. The only tweet I still like is one I tweeted after Mitt Romney, during his acceptance speech, said, "God bless Neil Armstrong" and I tweeted, "God bless Neil Armstrong... he's sitting right here in this chair." Get it? Because Neil Armstrong is dead. Yeah. Nor do I wish to imply that "Hot Stuff the Little Devil" was the only literary subject discussed by Megan Abbott and myself during our recent summit. We also talked about Richie Rich. I described Richie Rich's father as "epicene." Megan recalled how she used to draw pictures of faucets encrusted with diamonds, inspired by the palatial bathrooms of Richie Rich and the similarly opulent digs in the Shirley Temple movies she enjoyed as a child. Egged on and abetted by Dr. Theresa, she applied some of the Freudian technique she loves so much to uncover exactly when and how my youthful appreciation of the excessive lifestyle of Richie Rich turned to loathing and horror. It took up much of our lunch at Ajax. In the end there were certain things I could not say aloud, so I wrote them on a piece of paper, which Dr. Theresa and Megan Abbott passed back and forth for analysis.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Discussion

Megan Abbott came to town and took lots of pictures of me eating quail. We discussed whether or not Hot Stuff the Little Devil wore a diaper (answer above) then she got in an airplane and flew away.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Invincible Paste Pot

One thing Ace and I did in Memphis was go to a comic book store, the only kind of bookstore we don't have around here. I bought a volume of old Dr. Strange stories. The book includes covers of the original comics from which the stories were taken, which is how I found out about Paste Pot Pete. On one cover we are told that the Human Torch and the Thing are going to team up to "BATTLE THE NEW MENACE OF PASTE POT PETE!" I don't know anything about Paste Pot Pete, but does it really take two guys to battle him? On another cover, the Human Torch is trapped in a cage and some dude is encouraging Paste Pot Pete thusly: "YOU'LL FINISH HIM OFF WITH YOUR INVINCIBLE PASTE-POT GUN!" I don't know how the story comes out because this book has only the Dr. Strange stories in it, but I doubt that Paste Pot Pete finished off the Human Torch with a device that squirts paste. But maybe! There's so much I don't know. Why, I almost went my whole life without knowing who Walter Tetley was (a radio actor who became an adult without achieving puberty, natch). That's why my autumnal years are filled with the excitement of learning. It's never too late! On one cover, the Human Torch is saying "MY FLAMES DON'T AFFECT THE ASBESTOS MAN!!" On another, he's fighting the Eel, who seems to be a super villain who flies around in a helicopter, which doesn't seem like something an eel would do. (See also.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

If You Know Me At All

You know I have been spending all of my spare time looking up Walter Tetley and the guy who did the voice of the Lucky Charms leprechaun on the "internet." And why wouldn't I? That's how I found "The Walter Tetley Web Page." "Click" here for "Chamber of My Mind," the section that details, in part, a camping trip the author of "The Walter Tetley Web Page" enjoyed. "Click" here for details of a six-page letter the author of "The Walter Tetley Web Page" received from Chris Allen, the woman who did the voice of the cartoon character Hoppity Hooper. "I started writing when I was about nine years old," she says, adding this charming detail: "I wrote cowboy stories and mad love stories which I knew nothing about..........I kept writing away.........just for my own fulfillment..........until much later I started receiving payment for some of these things. I did comedy material........" (These startlingly extended ellipses may be Allen's, though the author of "The Walter Tetley Web Page" deploys them elsewhere, so I kind of think they're his.) She goes on to tell about writing for Bob Hope. "This first job was.........with four other MEN COMEDY WRITERS who were tops in the field, who looked at me like I had rocks in my head........I dare this girl.......still in school..........try to compete with four top MALE writers?" The "internet" has everything! I checked the Behemoth Who Will Never Be Named Here for its usual fascinatingly inane customer comments, this time on the biography of Walter Tetley. I liked this one for some reason: "I purchased this book to find out more about Walter who is my 2nd cousin, once removed, ie we share the same great great grandfather." The "internet" has lots of ideas about why Walter Tetley was an adult who never achieved puberty, some more horrific than others. Check out his wikipedia page and see how quickly you can spot the most horrible rumor, or don't. Don't. To take your mind off it, here's an ecstatic review of the autobiography of the guy who did the voice of the Lucky Charms leprechaun. Headline? "A MAGICALLY DELICIOUS AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN ACTOR." And wait! Here is a news story about him conceived and written in an incredibly annoying way. Sample: "The Lucky Charms leprechaun is not Irish. Someone get my shillelagh!" Ugh. The leprechaun is quoted as saying, "I never got free cereal. But they gave me lots of green money." Also: "I had the luck of the Irish to get that part." I'm confused. Speaking of things that are on the "internet," a student in my scary story class was looking for a particular work of H.P. Lovecraft and came across the homepage of a guy who bills himself as "vampire, poet, fire breather." I mentioned as much in class. "And sword swallower," the student reminded me. Megan Abbott (who is reading at Off Square Books tomorrow!) sent me the imdb bio page for a model named Jinx Falkenberg (pictured), which, according to Megan, "somehow seems to encompass the change in the culture in the last 75 years," up to and including HOARDERS! McNeil wrote to tell me that there's a lunch box museum in Columbus, Georgia, the "web" site of which - as I discovered - is crushingly disappointing. "Click" on the history of The Lunch Box Museum and you will see that there is no history of The Lunch Box Museum. Okay, I think that's everything on the "internet."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Character of the Titular Young Man

"Geddes sings from first person narrative in the character of the titular young man." Ha ha! So formal. Yes, I just looked up the wikipedia article about "Run, Joey, Run." To enjoy it for yourself, "click" here. It even uses the verb "expire," just as I did, and notes that the woman in the song "sacrifices" her life for Joey. But I promise I did not plagiarize the wikipedia article about "Run, Joey, Run." Here is a little more of the wonderfully stilted summary which I hope you will savor in its entirety: "Though Julie's father furiously swore his own vengeance, Joey, ignoring his own peril, immediately rushes over to Julie's home." How I love it. Yet wikipedia did not tell me what I wanted to know: the identity of the unfairly neglected young woman who really carries the song for that ungrateful jerk. (NOTE: I have no evidence that David Geddes was or is an ungrateful jerk. He's probably very nice.)


Dr. Theresa and I took a little road trip in a car that had some of that satellite radio in it. The first song that popped up was by our pal Kelly Hogan, so that was a nice surprise. We also listened to a broadcast of Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" from 1975. One of the songs in the countdown was "Run, Joey, Run," which came rushing back to me. It's all about this guy Joey who is running. "Run, Joey, run, Joey, run!" urges the galumphing chorus. The song is narrated from Joey's point of view, but a woman keeps breaking in to sing, "Daddy please don't! It wasn't his fault! He means so much to me." You see, this young woman's father has murderous intentions toward Joey, which is why Joey must run. SPOILER ALERT! The woman sacrifices her life to save Joey! The last time she sings her little part we are supposed to think she is expiring! She goes, "Daddy please don't! It wasn't his fault! He means so much to me. Daddy please don't! We're gonna get married..." Only there is a big pause between "mar" and "ried," the latter syllable being one she can barely choke out because she is expiring, as some heavenly "oohs" signal thereafter. The single is credited to David Geddes (I think that's the name) but come on! Where is this woman's credit? She carries the whole thing with her drama. Plus the chorus is a bunch of other dudes telling him to "Run, Joey, run." When you think about it, he's barely in it at all. But HE's the one who got to prance around telling everybody about "his" top 40 hit. Hearing that song reminded me that there used to be a live-action Saturday morning show called RUN, JOE, RUN. It was about a dog accused of a crime he did not commit! And somehow I used to get the song and show, which were entirely unrelated, mixed up in my head. I thought you should know. Speaking of heads, here is the promised photo of John T. Edge measuring mine. To learn more, "click" here. (See also.) Photo by Blair Hobbs. PS I just watched the video of "Run, Joey, Run" and it turns out I was too hard on the singer. He's working for a living like anybody else! He does sing the chorus, it turns out, rather improbably encouraging himself to "run, Joey, run."

Saturday, August 25, 2012


The woman who played Cissy in FAMILY AFFAIR did NOT "perish under tragic circumstances" as the schoolyard rumor would have it. Sadly, the girl who played her sister Buffy did. I recall that schoolyard rumor as well. But in my schoolyard, anyway, the entire cast of FAMILY AFFAIR was afflicted in one way or another. Happily, though, Cissy is alive and well and according to wikipedia she was promoting THE FAMILY AFFAIR COOKBOOK in Scottsdale, Arizona, just last year. There are probably no more schoolyard rumors. Google has destroyed them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dear Stinkpot

Ace Atkins and I went to Memphis yesterday to have adventures such as eating chicken. Ace had a peculiar book catalog in his truck. He got it in the mail. The publisher's specialty is "Books only you would like," as Ace put it to me. There is, for example, a biography of Bob Hope's sidekick Jerry Colonna. The catalog description is brief: "Written by Jerry Colonna's son!" it exclaims, and that's all. Here's another catalog description in its entirety: "Acting exercises from the voice of Yogi Bear!" For an autobiography of some guy: "He was more than the voice of Lucky Charms cereal!" Lots of exclamation points in the copy, but none for THE DAY THE STARS STOOD STILL. It's the "memoir of Logan Fleming, top wax artist" from the Movieland Wax Museum. The cover shows Mr. Fleming, I guess, in a kind of Ingmar Bergman shot, half of his face obscured by what I believe to be an eyeless wax figure of Richard Widmark. EYELESS! Is that supposed to be Richard Widmark? I don't know. But he sure is eyeless. So that's a book cover. THE FAMILY AFFAIR COOKBOOK is by the woman who played Cissy on the sitcom FAMILY AFFAIR. Didn't she perish under tragic circumstances? That was the schoolyard rumor! I see in microscopic print on the cover, "Foreword by Dawn Wells." She was Mary Ann on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, you idiots. I'm sorry I called you an idiot, because here's a bio of someone of whom not even I have heard: WALTER TETLEY: FOR CORN'S SAKE. Ha ha! That's some subtitle! The subtitle of Gary Burghoff's autobiography promises an unusual format: MY LIFE IN POEMS AND SONGS. A volume of letters from vivacious silent screen beauty Louise Brooks is called DEAR STINKPOT. "See, that's where an editor could have stepped in," Ace suggested. You really do not want to call any book DEAR STINKPOT, but especially a book of letters from Louise Brooks, even if she liked to call people stinkpot, I really have no idea. Titles are iffy. Eddie Cantor's daughter wrote two books: DON'T WEAR SILVER IN WINTER and STOP THE WORLD! I WANT TO TELL SOMEONE OFF! Walter R. Deasy, "owner of the carousel in Los Angeles's Griffith Park" calls his memoir THE MERRY-GO-ROUND IS WORN. I know how it feels. The subtitle is AN ANTIQUE MAN FINDS LOVE ON AN ANTIQUE CAROUSEL. Here, I really should "link" to the publisher. The least I could do is try to sell a few books for them. I deactivated my facebook account so I am going to have to "post" pix of me eating chicken here from now on, and I apologize in advance. Hey, I went over to John T. Edge's last night and he measured my head, never you mind why, and there is a picture of that floating around, too, and sure, it will show up here sooner or later, I'm so sorry, I'm sorry for everything forever.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Hey did one of my horrible neighbors turn on all of his or her horrible Christmas lights that are strung over everything so horribly and sit in the yard and play a musical saw at midnight? That's kind of what it seemed like! Nothing against the musical saw. Fave band Hubcap City utilizes a musical saw. Look! According to this picture, even Marlene Dietrich played a musical saw. And on the "internet" I found "a tribute to the saw playing clowns of yore." That's from the "Saw Lady" "web" site, where I also discovered the picture of Dietrich. The "Saw Lady" uses "yore" a lot, and I like it. "Who Were the Bell Ringers of Yore?" her "web" site plaintively asks... and answers! "Who Were the Musical Saw Players of Yore?" she goes on. "Know of another saw playing clown, living or deceased?" she eerily enquires. If you like strangely faded and discolored photos of clowns holding saws, this is your lucky day! One of the Saw Lady's CDs is entitled "Hark! An Angel Sings." Required disclaimer: I am not a paid endorser of the Saw Lady. I am just drawing your attention to her thanks to my healthy sense of curiosity. Speaking of which, you can hear a radio broadcast on youtube of Marlene Dietrich doing a little Hawaiian number on her musical saw. The first musical saw tune I searched for on youtube was "The Swan," because I could just imagine that it's the standard encore piece for the musical saw virtuoso, and boy was I right.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dark Pudding

First day of the new semester. Walked alone down a silent, sterile corridor of the engineering building past a man eating pudding surreptitiously in his dark office.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pig Birthday

Elizabeth is in town! So we went to Off Square Books and looked at birthday cards. There was a pig standing on its hind legs wearing a crown and saying MORE CAKE PLEASE. A birthday card both unsuitable and terrifying.

Owls Have Hundreds of Uses

Last time we learned that owl eggs cure drunks. Now we are told owls "mark the exact time a crime is committed by hooting." That's from THE GLASS HARMONICA by Barbara Ninde Byfield, a book with an owl in it. Be the first on your block to purchase an owl!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fainting Penguin Confounds Experts

Yeah I guess if there is one part of that frog cartoon I don't understand it's about two minutes in when the frog and penguin spot each other and the penguin appears to have a heart attack or faint from pleasure or is he just bowing with incredible obsequiousness and the frog trips over him even though the frog clearly knows that the penguin is lying there and anyway what is a penguin doing there with all those indigenous creatures of the marsh like spiders and crows and things and why is the penguin as small as a frog or is it not a penguin after all and this would be my youtube comment were I inclined to dispense them.

Hey Someone Needs to Edit the Mork & Mindy Wiki

I found the MORK & MINDY wiki because of Kelly Hogan, never mind why or how. Don't blame Hogan! Here's one complete entry: "Mork was unknowingly pregnant and was feeling the symptoms of female pregnancy. A normal-sized soon egg popped out of his navel and, excited to tell Mindy about it, made it impossibly easy to see. After a while, the egg began to grow and expand until it was the size of a doorway until, finally, the egg cracked open and a middle-aged man emerged." There is so much wrong with that in every way. Let me draw your attention to "A normal-sized soon egg popped out of his navel and, excited to tell Mindy about it, made it impossibly easy to see" and "the egg began to grow and expand until it was the size of a doorway" and "soon egg" and the baffling fragment "impossibly easy to see." Oh my goodness, MORK & MINDY deserves better, no it doesn't.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Famous Debauched Giamatti

Hey I was having one of my famous debauched lunches at City Grocery with Tom Franklin - Chris Offutt was there, too! - and some guy walked in and I almost said, "Look guys, it's Paul Giamatti, ha ha ha!" because the guy looked like Paul Giamatti and I was being all ironic or something, but before I could say it, Tom Franklin said, "It's Paul Giamatti!" and guess what? It REALLY WAS PAUL GIAMATTI. Okay, that is the whole story, sorry. (See also.)

Frog Teeth Castanets

Over on twitter, Ben Greenman notes that it is the 82nd birthday of the first cartoon with color and sound. I just watched it and laughed several times, such as when the frog uses his teeth percussively, like castanets, and the jump cut at about 4:48 when suddenly the frog, the mouse, the piano stool, and the piano are dancing in a kind of chorus line. With a little research I could figure out the mouse's relationship to Mickey Mouse. Is he a rip-off, or did Mickey rip HIM off? But I'm too tired to do research. When he opens his mouth, this mouse has two sharp little vampiric fangs. He brings to light that underlying thing about Mickey that always made us nervous, whatever it was. So this gets 14 "dislikes" on youtube. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? The youtube comments are sprinkled with the usual psychosis, but there are also some goofy ones that make me laugh, for example, the needlessly astonished "A frog that sounds like a duck, WTF?" and "my grandfather... loved to dump pepper on his food!"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

At Your Leisure

I was over there on that twitter today and saw that Mike Sacks had "linked" to a scene ("click" here) from what he called an "underrated Woody Allen movie," PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM. That reminded me of one of MY favorite scenes from the film ("click" here), which I tweeted back at Mr. Sacks. As I observed on twitter, it (the latter scene) is a strange combo of Jerry Lewis style slapstick and early Ricky Gervais fawning, squirming, preening awkwardness. Though come to think of it, Jerry himself specialized in fawning, squirming, preening awkwardness, so maybe it's just Jerry all the way and not a strange combo of anything and anyway Ricky Gervais probably hadn't been born yet. But here is the weird thing I JUST REMEMBERED. There used to be a guy named Richard J. Anobile who put out a series of books that were just FRAMES OF MOVIES with the dialogue printed beneath them. LOTS of frames of movies. CAN YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M TELLING YOU? I don't think you can. I think you are too used to the glorious world you believe you are living in. WE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE VHS TAPES THEN. Sometimes, if we wanted to see a movie, WE WERE FORCED TO BUY A BOOK WITH LOTS OF SEQUENTIAL FRAMES FROM THE MOVIE IN IT. Do you understand how sad things used to be? We used to sit there and slowly flip through a book made of paper and glue and pretend to be watching a movie. That's what we did and we thought we were so great. And yet are we so different, you and I? I guess I don't care. You won't understand until it's too late. Old Richard J. Anobile was proud of his thoroughness. My edition of Richard J. Anobile's weirdo version of CASABLANCA has this printed on the front cover (caps theirs for a change): "THE MOST ACCURATE AND COMPLETE RECONSTRUCTION OF A FILM IN BOOK FORM: OVER 1,500 FRAME BLOW-UP PHOTOS SHOWN SEQUENTIALLY AND COUPLED WITH THE COMPLETE DIALOGUE FROM THE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK, ALLOWS YOU TO RECAPTURE THIS FILM CLASSIC IN ITS ENTIRETY -- AT YOUR LEISURE." I also had (and have) Anobile's book versions of THE GENERAL and PSYCHO... and PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM. That one doesn't fit, does it? Nothing against PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM. But it was contemporary at the time, not "classic." Hey, remember when I told you that I went inside the actual PSYCHO house on the Universal lot? I peeled a little splinter off the front porch and put it in an envelope from the Sheraton Universal and stuck it in my copy of Richard J. Anobile's weird book version of the movie version of PSYCHO, and that is where it sits to this very day, my little splinter from the PSYCHO house, in case you're interested. You're not.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tarzan Hands

Tom Franklin informs us that comic book artist Joe Kubert has died. Writes Tom, "I remember if he drew say Tarzan a long way away, a long shot, he wouldn't draw hands. Just two lines that sort of flared at the end. It was so cool."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Speaking of Lore

I was off on a little trip and saw, among other people, my brother-in-law David, who had a book with him called COUNTRY WISDOM & LORE, I think, and in that book it said that you can cure alcoholism by feeding the sufferer an owl's egg, only you can't tell him it's an owl's egg. So that was a book with an owl in it and we can add it to our definitive list of books with owls in them. By coincidence I was also carrying a book with an owl in it, a Library of America anthology called AMERICAN FANTASTIC TALES: 1940s TO NOW, and as you can imagine it is packed to the rafters with owls, probably. Just one so far, I admit. I'm going to use that volume in my ghost class, which I am teaching again, only there aren't as many ghosts this time, and lots more octopus-headed space demons, so I'm going to have to call the class something else maybe. Hey, speaking of lore, my brother-in-law David sent me an informative article about the medicinal uses of the unicorn horn. My favorite part is an old quote about a cure for mad-dog bite, which involves pulverized lobster shells and a unicorn horn "if you can get it," the best part of all being the author of the article's careful annotation, "The scarcity of unicorn's horn is indicated by the phrase 'if you can get it.'" I'm not going to "link" to it because big red letters across the top say the unicorn article is "for personal use only" and cannot be "reproduced without permission" and is "linking" a kind of reproduction? I just don't know anymore in this amazing new world that I hate so much. I am sure you all recall when Elke Sommer refused to let me "link" to her paintings of creepy dolls. So I'm playing it safe. I'm sure you can find the article by "googling" the phrase "scarcity of unicorn's horn is indicated" but I know you won't do it. You never do anything.

Thursday, August 09, 2012


"The most popular aperient substance of the twentieth century (it belongs to the category of stimulant laxatives) phenolphthalien was first marketed in Germany in 1900 under the trade name Purgen. There quickly followed Purgo and Purgil, Purgatin and Purgatol, Purglets, Purgylum, Purgettae, Purganetto, Purgolade... Laxitiv, Laxine and Laxinkonfekt brought up the rear." Some thorough scholarship from INNER HYGIENE: CONSTIPATION AND THE PURSUIT OF HEALTH IN MODERN SOCIETY, an Oxford University Press publication (!) I first discovered because the author's name is similar to that of "Blog" Buddy Jim Whorton. Ha ha, "brought up the rear." Sorry, world. Goodbye forever.

McNeil's Jackpot

McNeil watched a randomly chosen episode of MCMILLAN AND WIFE on the streaming video or instant viewing or whatever you kids call it. "Guess who was in it?" he said. But he didn't even give me time to guess: "Julie Newmar, Richard Dawson, Dabney Coleman, and Robert Loggia!" he yelled. "I thought, 'Wow, I hit the jackpot.' They blew the budget on that one." McNeil's enthusiastic statements were appealingly free of irony. No one has ever been happier about Robert Loggia, not even Mrs. Loggia. In all the years I have known him, in fact, McNeil has never seemed so happy. Yes, I know you have no idea what MCMILLAN AND WIFE is. Shh! You're breaking McNeil's heart.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Not What Bob Intended

The shot we "posted" yesterday of a forlorn Suzanne Pleshette in THE BIRDS has inspired a response from Myra Poe, one of the Wisconsin contingent of "Blog" Buddies. She writes, "The first time I saw this, on tv as a little girl, I was so upset by Suzanne Pleshette's fate I felt sorry for her the whole rest of her life until she died. I couldn't watch [THE BOB NEWHART SHOW] without bursting into tears."


Read in Marvin Hamlisch's obit that Radiohead has been covering the theme song to THE SPY WHO LOVED ME in concert. Well, that tears it! There goes my plan to start a James Bond theme cover band with Dr. Theresa and Jimmy. Everybody will think we are copying Radiohead. Dr. Theresa makes a particular karaoke specialty out of the themes from GOLDFINGER and THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. Also the theme from TO SIR WITH LOVE, which is not a James Bond movie as far as I know. I sang a little bit of the theme to THE SPY WHO LOVED ME as I mingled about before John Brandon's recent book signing and a young poet with a soured mien said, "I have no idea what you're singing." (See also.) Also present, a young woman who had just paid off a decade of parking tickets ("I don't even have a car anymore!" she cried) and my singing did little to cheer her, although a glass of wine and a funny little dance I assayed seemed to do the trick, however fleetingly. But we weren't really going to start a band anyway, as I have finally learned the lesson first told me by my friend from Hubcap City: "Sometimes it's more fun to talk about things than to do them." Case in point, the heist movie McNeil and I are making about a guy who steals rugs. It's called RUGZ. Inspiration came from something the new Grisham writer Nic Brown said at a party. But don't worry, he is not planning to steal John Grisham's costly rugs! As far as I know. All our talk of RUGZ reminded McNeil of a book report he wrote in 9th grade. All he can remember about the book is "in the first 2 pages or so, the protagonist is waiting in a reception area and lifts the corner of a rug to see what company made it." Don't worry, kids! As you get older, your past too will become a series of seemingly random flashes of absolutely no importance. Like a "blog"!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Shot

Well here is the shot I have been looking for all night. The color and framing are off (filched from a TV screen, I guess) but it's the only version I could find. It's Suzanne Pleshette in THE BIRDS (which Dr. Theresa and I watched tonight), listening as Tippi Hedren talks on the phone to the man Suzanne Pleshette loves! Out of all the interesting shots in THE BIRDS, somehow it's my favorite. It's emotionally resonant, that's what I would say. It is an emotionally resonant shot. Boy, THE BIRDS is an unusual movie.

He Did Not Shove Mr. Carson

McNeil just read to me over the phone this old New York Times correction to Charlie Callas's obituary: "An obituary on Jan. 29 about the comedian Charlie Callas described incorrectly his appearance on 'The Tonight Show' on Sept. 21, 1982. While Mr. Callas was never on the show again, he did not in fact have an on-air falling out with the host, Johnny Carson. He did not shove Mr. Carson, nor did Mr. Carson say that Mr. Callas would not be invited back." So how did that manage to come up in conversation? I'm so glad you asked! McNeil mentioned the death of Marvin Hamlisch and his work on Jerry Lewis's brand new NUTTY PROFESSOR musical. Together we imagined an entire chorus tap-dancing with glasses stuck in their mouths Jerry Lewis style. That choreography, I pointed out, would be more suited to HARDLY WORKING: THE MUSICAL. McNeil preferred to speculate about a musical based on THE BIG MOUTH. "That's the best one," he said, though he did not bother to expound upon nor support this surprising yet firmly stated opinion. He did go on to muse as to whether BIG MOUTH costar Charlie Callas had passed on. I said I felt sure that he had, and that I had probably mentioned it on the "blog." McNeil, ever skeptical, looked it up for himself in the paper of record. I am skipping some parts of the conversation. "Click" here for the heaviest analysis you will get of THE BIG MOUTH outside of Chris Fujiwara. Includes more stills from THE BIG MOUTH than you can even imagine, with several sequential ones of Charlie Callas making crazy faces, such as the one illustrating this "post." Of THE BIG MOUTH, the authors state, "Jerry Lewis... dumps out a Freudian aquarium-load of colorful, exotic and disturbing oddities in a fruitless quest for rationality... In director Lewis' world, delicate human minds are set adrift in a psychotic societal sea." Okay! They also specifically link the "the unstable and at times terrifying world Lewis has created" with the work of David Lynch, as I have done in the past. Hey, is it time to go to bed yet?

"I Am Only Billy Hunt"

Robert Hughes died. I read his history of Australia THE FATAL SHORE a long time ago and the thing I recall most is the brave ingenuity of the convicts' escape attempts. Here's one that sticks in my head for its ironic (I guess) and tragicomic (maybe) qualities: "One prisoner, a former actor named William Hunt, 'who in his younger days had belonged to a company of strolling mountebanks,' disguised himself as an enormous 'boomer' or male kangaroo. He nearly got across to Forestier's Peninsula before two picket-guards, thinking he really was a kangaroo, spotted him and gave chase, leveling their muskets. 'Don't shoot, I am only Billy Hunt,' the nervous marsupial squeaked, to their consternation." The chuckle dies in the throat. It's a sad story, really, when you consider how terrible life was and the crazy brilliance of the idea and the hard work that must have gone into creating such a realistic kangaroo suit in complete secrecy, and the acting skills Billy Hunt put into so very convincingly becoming that kangaroo. Yes, I'm pretty sure there's some irony there: the excellence of his disguise his undoing! Now that Mr. Hughes is dead, I'm not sure I should have quoted that dialogue tag "the nervous marsupial squeaked," which is not my favorite kind of dialogue tag, but there it is.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

The Tall Tree

Last night there was either a small chaperoned gathering for a church youth group that spontaneously exploded into a dance party or a cruelly enforced dance party that devolved into a grueling fiction workshop. Details are hazy. According to Dr. Theresa, my knee hurts because I "tried to do some kind of limbo move." We analyzed my seminal text: "He saw a tall tree and thought, That's a tall tree." It was either a keening lament for the state of modern fiction or a celebration of the written word, no one could tell. Story "The Tall Tree" reprinted by permission of the Yalobusha Review. Dessert of bittersweet chocolate, bacon and marshmallows provided by Sarah, who told us that alligators eat marshmallows, is that what she said? I am retaining an image of someone standing at the end of a pier, tossing marshmallows into the hellish maw of a grateful, smiling alligator. Sarah's uncle once appeared on a Fox News program because of his sighting of the Honey Island Swamp Monster, so she should know. (See also.) Dance-fuel pork shoulder provided by Stan's, the finest purveyor of pork in all the land. Here is a "yelp" review explaining some of the greatness that is Stan's. Remember Stan's for all your pork needs! And Kool & the Gang's "Open Sesame" for your dancing requirements, the genie's repeated command for "everybody" to "get down" lending itself to the "enforced dance party" theory. Shazam! (PS How can "Open Sesame" get 36 "dislikes" on youtube? As one youtube commenter notes with admirably plainspoken bewilderment: "36 people don't want to get down with the genie.")

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Merry Christmas

Hey you know I have all these movie channels because I'm just kind of a disgusting slob who hangs around all day doing nothing. So there are three different movies about Christmas on RIGHT NOW and I just had to run in here to my precious little computer and tell you all about that. One of the movies is about a teen who is trying to get home for Christmas to receive his new Porsche, so that sounds like something I can relate to. Another one is based on a Truman Capote short story, but not the one you're thinking of, and it quite improbably stars Katharine Hepburn and The Fonz, so how did that happen? And finally I would like to bring to your attention the Hulk Hogan vehicle SANTA WITH MUSCLES, so allow me to quote the entire capsule description, which bears repeating: "Amnesia makes a mean health-food tycoon think he's Santa Claus, especially when it comes to a local orphanage."

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Dachshunds Are Mischievous Creatures

"The dachshunds are mischievous creatures and lead Brutus through a series of comic misadventures with a policeman being chased up a tree." This is the day I do nothing but read wikipedia articles about live-action Disney films. Hey, "click" on this one; it's weirdly empty. Just do it! I'm so alone.

At My Back I Always Hear Time's Winged Chariot Hurrying Near

"More commonly referred to as electromagnetic energy pulled in from the universe itself, Frank is rebuffed in his claims due to his odd sense of humor." Ha ha, that's terrible grammar, among other things. I am spending my day - my life, really - reading wikipedia articles about live-action Disney movies from the 70s.

Sad Jimmy

My friend at "She Blogged By Night" did a "post" about THE BOATNIKS (that film incidentally a long-running all-purpose punch line between Mr. Ward and myself), which somehow got me thinking about the 1972 Disney film THE BISCUIT EATER. I want to say that the theme song included the words "egg-sucking dog." Is that possible? It seems a little rough for Disney. My powers of "googling" - usually so magnificent - have failed me here. As I recall, the dog in the movie was insulted as a "biscuit eater" who also enjoyed "sucking eggs" and I guess I still don't understand what's so bad about biscuits and eggs. They are delicious! The dog would be crazy NOT to want them! Googling around on the "internet" eventually led me to the wikipedia entry on the Disney film THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK, which I would now like to quote for you: "Katie (Sandy Duncan) gets a recipe for applesauce wrong and gives it to her husband to take to work for lunch, hoping it will help cut down on the budget. In a humorous chain reaction, the duck Albert is testing steals the applesauce after Albert has thrown it away in the trash, and then wanders into a radiation lab and becomes irradiated... it now lays golden eggs. In a Pavlovian manner, the duck, named 'Charlie' (despite being female), lays an egg when prompted by the barking of a dog... a suspicious neighbor, a government bureaucrat... starts spying on them... worldwide phone calls spread the rumor and Rutledge gets a phone call from President Richard Nixon to 'get that duck!' Albert is overcome by greed and no longer cares for his son, which saddens Jimmy." I keep telling you, this is what we used to consider entertainment. (See also.) Pictured, Sandy Duncan.