Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spoiler Alert

Just caught the end of the Orson Welles movie THE STRANGER on TCM. Every time I see that ending I think about how apparently there was a guy in that town who said, "Hey, you know what our clock needs? A huge, sharp sword that could kill a guy!"

Smallest of the Big Daddies

Eavesdroppin'! Tonight at Snackbar I heard a guy say, "My grandfather was Big Daddy, my father was Big Daddy, and because I fit the bill I'm going to be Big Daddy... Daddy's the smallest of the Big Daddies." (See also.)

They Came to Burgle Carnegie Hall

They were showing a movie called THEY CAME TO ROB LAS VEGAS on TCM last night and I was tickled because it made me think of my favorite fake movie title from THE SIMPSONS, which also furnishes the title of this "post." But I got into THEY CAME TO ROB LAS VEGAS 30 minutes late because first I had to watch George Saunders on THE COLBERT REPORT. So when I switched over to THEY CAME TO ROB LAS VEGAS, some dude was saying to Elke Sommer, "Honey, there's nothing harder to get into than another man's robe," and it was said with such dull authority that it depressed me, one of those lines that only wants to sound like it means something but it maybe probably doesn't mean anything and it doesn't care. It would rather sound tough than be tough. Right away the movie seemed too solemn and proud of itself, or proud of its supposed hipness, or something, and I didn't watch the rest, no, you couldn't even call it repressive desublimation, whatever was going on there. There was a sour feeling. What's wrong with me? I'm basing all this on one line, I didn't give THEY CAME TO ROB LAS VEGAS a fair shake! Last time I saw George Saunders, less than a week ago, he recommended Kerouac's VISIONS OF GERARD, which by coincidence I had just recently purchased at Square Books, so I'm reading it now and here's a fragment I enjoyed: "people may count themselves higher than pigs, and walk proudly down country roads; geniuses may look out of windows and count themselves higher than louts..." (He's on the side of the pigs and louts.) Also "teaching" ON THE ROAD and I forgot that near the end they have a big party in a castle! "and Charity creeping around upstairs in her nightgown with a flashlight."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

You Didn't Ask

Hey Lois Wilson was "considered the first Miss Alabama"! According to wikipedia!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dix Fans

I was watching a movie called LOVIN' THE LADIES on TCM today. Ha! LOVIN' THE LADIES. It's the dropped "G" that really makes it. It starred Lois Wilson (pictured) and Richard Dix. I don't get this Richard Dix. Sorry, Richard Dix fans. I was describing him to Megan Abbott in terms of Harry Langdon and she knew what I was talking about because she's Megan Abbott. "A less infantile Harry Langdon," I may have said. Richard Dix got the job done, don't get me wrong. He was the hero and all. But he just seemed so... pale to me. With a big blank face like a pie. Oh, Richard Dix! I guess everybody used to love you. It's my fault, Richard Dix!

Frasier, Briefly

Welcome once again to "Frasier, Briefly," always keeping you up-to-date on the ever-changing world of FRASIER. So you know they show a million episodes of FRASIER every night and last night I was scrolling through the capsule descriptions of the episodes that were scheduled and one said, "Niles considers parenthood after helping Martin and Frasier deliver a baby," but at first glance I thought it said "priesthood" - oh ha ha ha gee what fun.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Milk For Burt

Dr. Theresa always says that when the moustache is absent you know it's going to be a serious Burt Reynolds movie. And such was the case with HUSTLE, though Burt's first line is a misleadingly innocuous and wholesome request for a glass of milk. But HUSTLE was rough stuff! Eddie Albert - Oliver Douglas of GREEN ACRES fame - plays a sleazy, murderous lawyer (though I do want his yachting outfit, seen above), but the casting gets weirder than that. Includes Fred Willard, old-timey comic (and mortal enemy of Robert Goulet's son-in-law) Jack Carter, and (spoiler alert) in a last-minute surprise of the downer kind for which the 1970s are famous (though you can guess it from the beginning, as we did, from the way Burt stares longingly at the picture calendar of Rome on his dirty office wall - "He's never getting to Rome!" Dr. Theresa and I both cried simultaneously), the guy who played Freddie Krueger, typecast already, typecast before the fact, the eternally typecast Freddie Krueger, ladies and gentlemen. Incorporates some of the weirder visual effects of SUPERDAD while anticipating Paul Schrader's HARDCORE. A possible inspiration for the Robin Williams episode of the TV series HOMICIDE. I guess I am saying if you like SUPERDAD, HARDCORE, and HOMICIDE, check out HUSTLE! That's a blurb. Chock full of MOBY-DICK allusions!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Busted Up Bicycles and Stuff

I started my graduate class by showing some of the Martin Scorsese movie NEW YORK, NEW YORK, which I believe I described to the kids as as his "much-reviled musical" - is that accurate? Anyway, it put me in the mood to see Francis Ford Coppola's "much-reviled musical" ONE FROM THE HEART (pictured). That's one I'm pretty sure I've seen before but can't remember. So I open the dvd and there's Francis Ford Coppola in the liner notes, writing about the influence of Jerry Lewis on the making of the film. Right away I saw the obvious debt to Lewis's film THE LADIES MAN in the sound design, lighting, and sets, though Coppola wasn't that specific. I will say that near the end Frederic Forrest is comically electrocuted and his hair stands straight up. Immediately thereafter he steps into a bucket and stumbles around. All of this may be Coppola's way of saying, "Thanks, Jerry!" though nobody in a million years ever considered Frederic Forrest the heir to Jerry's crown, nobody but Francis Ford Coppola, I guess. Oh, and near the beginning of the movie, Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle sing a song in which they tell each other "I'm tired of picking up after you" - it's a real contribution to the "scuffed-up furniture inventory genre" of songwriting, the existence of which I recently proved ("This railroad apartment is held together by glue," I think Waits sings). Later, Tom Waits sings a whole different song about busted up old bicycles lying around in the rain, of course, but I don't think I can count that - I'm a purist! Hey there's something else I can't remember watching, but I think I did. I was walking down the corridor outside the English Dept. when I saw some free VHS tapes discarded. One was a Harold Pinter play directed by Robert Altman and starring John Travolta (!). The cover looked weirdly familiar, and I think I rented it at the strange Phar-Mor drugstore in Mobile, Alabama, so often an object of our contemplation here. So I picked it up and one day I'll tell you about it and won't you be excited. Now I am thinking of the time I talked to Francis Ford Coppola outside a restaurant in San Francisco on the day of the feast of Saint Francis, 1999, but I'm suddenly realizing maybe it was just some guy with a beard. I did get a monk to bless the cats, though! It didn't entirely work.

Poop Vigilante

I am sorry to mention poop again so soon, but how can I resist when I see the gnomic cabaret critic Stephen Holden using the word "poop" - in its scatological sense - in today's New York Times? Naturally - naturally! - I decided to do a search of the Times to see how often the word has appeared. Over 6,000 hits! Of course, sometimes it has another meaning, such as in a review of a restaurant called the Poop Deck, which is a terrible name for a restaurant if you want my advice. (See also.) But here is a sentence from the first search result to pop up: "I was calm as Ms. Nunose explained all of this while applying the poop powder, prepared and flown in from Japan." Ms. Nunose! Applying poop powder! In the New York Times! Headlines which follow closely on the first page of New York Times search results ("sorted by relevance" - ha ha, relevance!) are "A Mystery Vigilante Paints Dog Waste" and "Poop Is Funny, But It's Fatal."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Good One

Hey I just thought of something, when Lady Macbeth said "I heard the owl scream," Macbeth should have replied, "We owl scream for ice cream" ha ha ha oh that's rich, that would have been a good one, you're welcome, Shakespeare. But I just looked on google and there were already 575 matches for "we owl scream for ice cream," so now I'm just sad.

Crickets 'n' Corn Dogs

I watched a thing about Macbeth on PBS, yes I did, shut up, and Lady Macbeth was like "I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry" so I guess Macbeth is a book with an owl in it. Also last night I saw the great George Saunders eat a corn dog, yes I did, shut up, it was a lot nicer than hearing an owl scream, in fact it was adorable. Hey, as long as I've got you here, I'll tell you how Larry took me to his orchestra rehearsal tonight, so I was the only audience member in the huge auditorium and an opera singer walked out and started belting the hits to the nosebleed seats! So I was just sitting there all by myself and it seemed rude not to clap because I felt she was singing right at me - she was really selling it, man! - but I just sat there real quiet digging the weirdness because of course you can't interrupt the rehearsal by clapping. And then I went to pick up some falafel for Dr. Theresa, who lived all over the Middle East for many years, but her fave falafel is from Petra, right here in Oxford, MS, just across the street from the James Food Center. While I was waiting for the falafel, some guy asked if he could sit with me! So I said, "I guess." So he sat down and told me why George W. Bush was a better president than Albert Einstein would have been. So I was like, "Cool." He was just some dude. Oh yeah, and yesterday I was giving a little lecture about Jack Kerouac and a student suddenly stood up and said "I can't take it anymore!" and left - "it" being me, I guess, this whole package you've got right here. All right, I think that's everything.

McNeil's Movie Korner

Welcome once again to McNeil's Movie Korner. "Have you been watching Torpedo Run today? It's suspenseful, but it doesn't make any sense. That's McNeil's Korner," writes McNeil.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Goal Oriented Protagonist

You know, McNeil and I were talking a while back about how nobody talks like Dean Moriarty, at least the way Jack Kerouac portrays him in ON THE ROAD - nobody talks like the characters in ON THE ROAD. But Leslie and I were walking to campus today and we talked about dinosaurs and globes and Nietzsche and Marx and abandoned malls and I suddenly thought, Leslie talks just like Dean Moriarty, she is the only one. Later I confirmed it with Dr. Theresa, who said, of Leslie, "We were talking about dinosaurs too." Leslie came over later and leafed through a Rothko book and started explaining why Rothko was like John Coltrane and then we took her to Snackbar where she said the devil was the "goal-oriented protagonist" of THE EXORCIST. The funny thing is that I ran into Lee Durkee in the library earlier today and he, too, brought up THE EXORCIST. Scary! Anyway, at Snackbar, Leslie ate tripe. Because that's what Leslie does. That's her thing, man. Leslie! We'll miss you. Be careful going back to Iowa City, okay.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Green Jell-O

Here is a sentence I like from the novel GIDGET: "For a moment nothing was heard but the thoughtful intake of green Jell-O." There are reasons why "green," for example, is such a good word choice right there, but I'm going to save that for my grad students so they'll feel like they're getting their money's worth.

British Cat Biologist

So in today's New York Times there is a story about a cat who walked 200 miles. The article quotes Roger Tabor, whom it calls a "British cat biologist." We have mentioned Roger Tabor on the "blog" before, never suspecting that he is a British cat biologist! Okay, maybe suspecting. Also quoted, a guy named Jackson Galaxy, whom the the New York Times keeps calling "Mr. Galaxy" in their cute New York Times way. Mr. Galaxy!


Leslie is visiting. This morning over breakfast she said, "Everything is already extinct. It's just waiting for its killer." Leslie! She's hardboiled.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Great Thing

The great thing about the theme song to the movie BEAT GIRL is that whenever it comes on my iPod, as it just did, I remember the entire movie BEAT GIRL. In this blurry frame from BEAT GIRL you can see, directly behind Beat Girl, Oliver Reed as "Plaid Shirt." He wears a plaid shirt and his character's name is Plaid Shirt. (See also.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Let's Talk About Poop

Sorry! But it had to be. Fate decreed it, as you will soon agree. So in the Kelly Hogan article I "linked" to earlier, she discusses the fact that you CAN'T POOP ON THE BAND BUS (something she has previously discussed in my much-reviled magazine profile of Neko Case, which also found room to describe Hogan's patented method for picking up dog poop - hurry to the great archives of our nation and look it up on the microfiche!). So immediately after Hogan's article is "posted" here comes Greg Kihn on the twitter, twittering about the fact that you CAN'T POOP ON THE BAND BUS. Now I am not saying Greg Kihn plagiarized Kelly Hogan! I am just saying it was a WEIRD POOP COINCIDENCE. And now I feel at liberty to tell you I have been reading a "blog" that reviews (I almost said "assesses" ha ha ha!) men's rooms in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. I have been "sitting on" this (ha ha ha!) a long time, because it seemed so crude and improper to bring up. But now I feel it can be told. I came across it during my (ongoing) phase of reading "blogs" about malls. "While I am not a huge fan of the Olive Garden, they have decent food, and more importantly, a great bathroom," writes our host in a positive review. "Apparently, only Superman can flush this toilet," he notes in another, more in sorrow than in anger. Look, nobody is forcing you to "click" on it.

Colorful Saucy Brain Language!

I hope you do not object to colorful saucy language! If you do, it is not my fault if you "click" on this, which is nothing but something Kelly Hogan has written for Magnet Magazine. She's writing about stuff over there a lot! Such stuff as HEE HAW. I am inviting you to go walk around in Hogan's brain. IF YOU DARE!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

When You Think of Omaha Cuisine

However many "blogs" about abandoned malls and such I "link" to for you, there are so many more that I could "link" to but don't! So shut up and stop complaining, if you exist. Too many of these abandoned mall "blogs" have a tragic quality - the "blogs" themselves seem abandoned, as I have noted. Abandonment upon abandonment! One "blog," discontinued in 2007, is a tribute to "THE GRAND EMPORIUMS... SO SADLY NOW GONE FOREVER." But the "blogger" too seems gone forever. His entry "Shopping Bag Masterpieces!" includes a youtube video of 60 of the 600 shopping bags he has collected, but the youtube account has been ominously terminated. See, I did not "link" to that. Another "blogger" plaintively asks the immortal question, "When you think of Omaha cuisine, what comes to mind?" To her, "link" I shall! First of all, the name of her "blog" is "My Blog," which I admire for its stripped-down elegance. Plus I am completely enraptured by the long "post" in which she visits the sites of famed Omaha chicken restaurants of times gone by, and snaps photos of the Honda dealerships and such that have taken their places. That "post" includes faded old advertising materials, such as the lovely example I present here.

Weather Channel Star

Dr. Theresa, a connoisseur of the Weather Channel, was thrilled to be informed that a friend of ours, Jimmy of "blog" renown, was pictured on the Weather Channel "web" site, strolling beneath the icy branches.

Here's Johnny's Coleslaw

So I stayed up past midnight looking at "blogs" about malls and abandoned chain restaurants and finally I found myself looking at this lovingly detailed catalog of nametags this one guy wore over the years he worked in a now-defunct retail store and then I was just like, "I don't know, I don't feel like I can go to sleep, I'm just wired, man, what's happening to me?" And then I sought out and scrutinized a 1992 article from the L.A. Times, buried in which was the fact that Johnny Carson's failed restaurant chain served something called "Here's Johnny's coleslaw."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Hey you know those "blogs" I was telling you about? There is one called "Creepy, Abandoned Chi-Chi's," and it focuses exclusively on exactly what its title implies. I admire its exactitude! Above I have "posted" an example of a photo from a "creepy, abandoned Chi-Chi's." Plenty more where that came from! Relatively. I have also learned that Johnny Carson used to have a chain of family restaurants called Here's Johnny's. And honestly I have learned so many things by going down this rabbit hole I can't even tell you all of them. "Here's Johnny's." I get it, but does that punctuation bother anyone else? Does it seem like a bad name for a restaurant because it's hard to say? "Let's go to Here's Johnny's for dinner tonight." Or has my brain caved in? Why do I assume it was a terrible restaurant? Here's Johnny's, I mean. I can sort of imagine the menu.

Kentucky Fried Desolation

Well I don't know what I've gotten into here. I keep looking at these "blogs" about malls. Who knew there were so many "blogs" about malls? And I notice that there's a distinct subculture of people who are interested in abandoned malls and stores, and who take lots of pictures of abandoned malls and stores. Furthermore, I notice that many of the "blogs" of people who are interested in abandoned malls have not been updated in years, so that they are abandoned "blogs" about abandoned malls. In one sad case, I was reading a curious "post" about a mall that burned down, on a "blog" that had not been updated since 2009, and when I checked the comments, I saw that the man who wrote it had died. McNeil has been looking at these things, too, and mentions an old, faded photo of "a dog gazing into a Bath and Tile Emporium," poignantly, I assume, but I haven't found that one yet. I did find several photos of an abandoned KFC covered in overgrown bushes ("click" here) and that's when I found myself considering that maybe there IS something kind of interesting about photos of an abandoned KFC covered in overgrown bushes. And these aren't even the sort of old, faded photos that make you feel especially weird. The great thing is that almost all of these abandoned mall "blogs" have sidebars that list OTHER abandoned mall "blogs" so now I have something to do with the rest of my life. Hey so one of these mall "blogs" mentioned Lenox Square (not abandoned), which Ace Atkins brought up to Dr. Theresa and me just the other night. Ace used to live in Atlanta, as we did, and he asked whether we remembered "when Lenox Square had monkeys." We replied that we did not. "If you gave them a penny, they'd stick their tongue out at you," Ace said. Hey, look, I just went from being a guy who "blogs" about guys who "blog" about malls to being a guy who "blogs" about malls, you saw it happen.

A Glorious Trip Around the "Internet" on the Gossamer Wings of Fancy

Hey my friend Andy bought hot dog flavored potato chips at Walmart, and not only did he take this photo of the bag, he tasted the contents thereof! "And yes, they are disgusting," he confirmed via twitter. "Click" here to enjoy the original tweet, or to follow Andy on the twitter. Let's see, what else is on the "internet"? Well, remember when McNeil sent me that guy's "blog" with all the information about malls on it? I "clicked" on a "link" on that "blog" and found ANOTHER GUY's "blog" about retail stores! And it dawned on me that there is a whole cult of people - gee, cult is probably a strong word - who love retail stores, I mean the whole IDEA of retail stores! This seems to be a safe obsession, much milder than the conspiracy theories on the part of the "internet" I have sternly forbidden you to explore. And hey, if you don't care about malls, why not check out this "blog" of Elizabethan portraits? The proprietor of the Elizabethan portrait "blog," with whom we have been in touch, feared it would be too specialized for "linking" by us, to which we reply, "Pshaw!" You want to know about specialization? HERE'S your specialization: I will probably only "blog" about the 1970s trucker drama MOVIN' ON from now on, a show I am the only one to recollect. Now that's a specialization! Why, I was in a community production of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN when I was a kid - yes I was! - and I remember that when the cast and crew of MOVIN' ON visited the Gulf Coast of Alabama to shoot some episodes, they picked another kid from the production for a speaking role! And I just looked her up on imdb and there she was! So it wasn't all just a beautiful dream, MOVIN' ON really did come to my town.

Insanely Barking Fireman

Yesterday I was going to "post" some more about the episode of the 70s trucker drama MOVIN' ON that I watched at five o'clock in the morning, much to your delight, no doubt. I was going to write about the scene in which Sonny, the character played by Claude Akins, improbably rallies a group of uniformed cops and firemen who happened to be gathered in a historic firehouse, and the extras - real cops and firemen - flatly intone their scripted one-line responses until one fireman starts barking insanely like a dog, which Claude Akins bears with good humor. I was really going to hand it to the editor, who left in that part at the tail end of the scene, and to the insanely barking fireman whose friends put him up to it and who really followed through, though I was also sad that they didn't push it just a little, right over the border into David Lynch territory. We were almost there! But then while I was typing I realized that maybe it wasn't an insanely barking fireman, maybe it was the firehouse dog, wouldn't that make more sense? Surely such a scene would have included a firehouse dog. And it was five in the morning and I was watching it in a stupor and maybe I imagined the insanely barking fireman, and I was real disappointed and started questioning reality. Then McNeil sent me this "link" to a "blog" where the guy "posts" pictures of malls and department stores and related ephemera. McNeil was amazed at the enthusiasm (and, I would add, specificity) of the comments. (Here's a commenter who notes with wonder, "Lenox Square is the only enclosed mall I've visited in which the main entrance continues directly onto the main mall corridor.") The above photo of a Christmas display comes from the mall "blog," LiveMalls. Check it out!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sentence Time!

Here is a sentence I like from ON THE ROAD: "Thus attired, they yelled at each other all week."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Don't Forget the Nuts

Woke up at 5 AM for no good reason, precisely in time to watch an entire episode of MOVIN' ON on the channel that shows Porter Wagoner. As I am sure you will recall, MOVIN' ON visited the Gulf Coast of Alabama to shoot some episodes in the mid 1970s and we were all pretty excited. Well, folks, you're going to be thrilled to hear that the episode of MOVIN' ON I happened to catch was shot in Mobile, Alabama! It sure was weird. I don't know if it would be weirder, less weird, or exactly the same amount of weird to someone not from the area, and I guess I'll never know. That's one of the tragedies of life. The episode was filled with things peculiar - very peculiar - to Mobile, such as "Azalea Trail Maids." It was a strange combination of long, static, method-actor scenes fueled by meandering improvisation, unbelievably contrived plot points, and allusions that only someone from Mobile in the 1970s could even begin to understand. Along the way, scenes had to be invented to account for the gawking crowds. There was an endless, almost experimental montage of balloons being popped by darts, Frank Converse grinning, and money being stuffed into a bucket, the same shots over and over. I would describe it as all padding, yes, everything in the whole episode seemed like padding for another episode, a missing episode, a phantom episode. Here is something I noticed about the acting style of Claude Akins, star of MOVIN' ON. He would add a sentence of his own to the end of every scene. Like, his sidekick (played by Frank Converse) was noisily eating nuts (a bit of method-actor "business") while looking over musty old books in the Mobile County courthouse (I guess). And at the end of the scene, when Frank Converse got up to leave, Claude Akins uselessly said, "Don't forget the nuts," obliging Frank Converse to ad-lib some line back to him, expressing that the nuts did not belong to him. That, in a "nutshell" - ha ha ha! wheeeee! - is what the whole episode felt like. At the end of another scene, Claude Akins added out of nowhere, "Shine your shoes!" The viewer then noticed that Frank Converse's shoes were extremely dirty. I could just imagine Claude Akins talking to the director like, "My character would notice that his shoes are dirty!" Or in that other scene, "My character would not want to see nuts go to waste!" Claude Akins was just trying to do his best.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Horrible Garbage

Hey look at this! Lee Durkee says that some terrible person is attaching advertisements to my "blog," and sends this (above) as proof. I can't see the ads on this end. Let it be known that I would never willingly let horrible garbage such as "Virgin Mobile" or anything else be advertised upon my "blog," dumb as it is. Beware!

Fixing a Farm

Well now you know I like reading those capsule descriptions of movies your TV gives you to read so you can decide whether you want to watch the movie or not. So here is one I just read: "Clark Davis is working off his debt by fixing a farm belonging to Ellen and Cassie. Will Clark leave to seek his fortune or stay where love begins?" That is a weird one all right and I wonder who wrote it.

Four Mistakes

Hey on one of these here movie channels the movie GABLE AND LOMBARD is coming on. It came out in 1976 and I don't suppose I have thought of it since then, when everybody was saying it was one of the worst atrocities known to man. So it starts with a sepia-toned photo of the real Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, which is the first mistake, because who wants to think of the real Clark Gable when you are about to get James Brolin instead? (I like Jill Clayburgh so I am not saying anything bad about her.) But then the photo of the real Gable and Lombard dissolves to a photo of James Brolin and Jill Clayburgh holding the same pose. Second mistake! Because now we can see that they don't look anything like Gable and Lombard, not that they have to, but then why rub our noses in it? And the movie isn't even 10 seconds old yet and we the audience are plagued by doubt. And I was thinking "Also maybe I don't want to watch this because it has a sad ending that everybody already knows." And then they START with the sad ending! Third mistake. Fourth mistake, James Brolin is walking around looking like he smells bad cheese for real, this is either him being Clark Gable or him being sad or him being sad Clark Gable. We are one minute in. (See also.) PS What is going on in this still? I guess I'll find out, God help me.

An Uncomfortable Crisis

I was going around saying this line from VILLETTE out loud last night, "This was an uncomfortable crisis," trying to figure out how I would read it if they asked me to do the audio book, because when they do an audio book of VILLETTE I will probably be the first person they ask. I was saying stuff like "THIS was an uncomfortable crisis" and "This WAS an uncomfortable crisis" and many other variations. The trick is to keep that cool head so essential to a Charlotte Brontë narrator (young Lucy Snowe is dropped off alone in the dead of night among pushy thugs at the wharf - in fact she compares herself to "a dripping roast" [!] and says "This was an uncomfortable crisis"), the cool head being so admirable and pleasantly astringent and yet also what keeps JANE EYRE, for example, from being as insane as I like, as insane as WUTHERING HEIGHTS, you know. I will say that VILLETTE starts off with an uncanny doll-like kid who displays the self-possession of an adult and you almost suspect you've picked up a horror novel. I am reading VILLETTE for myself and feel bad because I'm going to have to put it aside and start rereading ON THE ROAD for my class that starts soon. Nothing against Mr. Kerouac! In fact, I just read BIG SUR and VANITY OF DULUOZ "for myself," though they ended up coming in handy as prep. VANITY is a prequel to ON THE ROAD and BIG SUR shows the downside to ON THE ROAD's success, focusing a great deal on Kerouac's oozing hatred of beatniks, especially the ones who scared his poor old mother so much that she piled furniture in front of the door so they couldn't get in. Though his obsessions are Dracula and The Shadow, Kerouac is more like Dr. Frankenstein, come to think of it!

You Like the '70s

Speaking of Bill Boyle, he and a friend of his have started a "blog" where they talk about the crime films of the 1970s, a decade you may have heard of.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Babycat Lives!

Most of the graffiti on the wall of the men's room at the City Grocery Bar has been mercilessly crossed-out, drawn-over, and defiled. Rendered unrecognizable! What remains? Naught but the picture that Kent Osborne drew of his cat way back in March of 2011! Such is its mystical power. Here it is, unsullied. Photo taken this very night, by Bill Boyle.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Good Times

Just thinking back on the time I live-tweeted KING RALPH.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

A Chimp Befriends a Runaway Orphan

I forgot to tell you that she is waving an American flag in one part of the THAT GIRL opening credits. And that while the theme song singers are singing about "gingham, bluebirds, Broadway" they show a marquee for the trippy Rock Hudson movie SECONDS. Changing the subject, I read this capsule description of a movie off of my TV today: "After being banned from hockey, a chimp befriends a runaway orphan who teaches him how to skateboard."

Winking Mannequins of Yore

Hey there used to be a sitcom called THAT GIRL and all my life I have been pronouncing the title like this: "THAT girl," but last night I heard the recorded voice of Marlo Thomas, the star of THAT GIRL, in an interstitial piece on TCM and she said it like this: "that GIRL," and it was like my whole life had been a sham. And that was all I was going to tell you today. Except that to my recollection she flew a kite with her own picture on it in the opening credits of THAT GIRL, which seems like a weird thing to do. And that was all I was going to tell you today. But when I looked for a photo to illustrate this "post" I found this image (above) of Marlo Thomas as "THAT GIRL" biting her glove and my brain asked me wasn't that the scene from the opening credits where she looks at a mannequin in a store window and it winks at her? So even though I was going to base this whole "post" on my feeble memory that everyone loves so much I went ahead and looked on the "youtube" and found the opening credits and YES she does fly a kite with her own picture on it and YES a department store mannequin is winking at her only GET THIS. She sees HERSELF in place of the department store mannequin. SHE SEES HERSELF AS A DEPARTMENT STORE MANNEQUIN. And that was all I was going to tell you today. But then I remembered that my friend Ward sent me the shabby, awkward opening to THE NEW ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW the other day, struck and depressed as he was by it. "Andy's expression looks like he's already given up" on the show - IN THE OPENING CREDITS! - noted Ward in the accompanying email. "Click" here to confirm. I would only add that the theme song sounds sort of like the regular ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW theme song played backwards, some sort of failed network attempt at mass brainwashing, probably. Oh wait and I also wanted to tell you that the THAT GIRL theme song starts out like this: "Diamonds, daisies, snowflakes, THAT GIRL. Chestnuts, rainbows, springtime, it's [is? - ed.] THAT GIRL!"

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Fashion Choice

For today's DJ guest spot at The End of All Music I will wear the socks with cassette tapes on them that my sister and brother-in-law gave me for Christmas.

Sadness of the Hat Monkey

Kat Kinsman sent me an old clip of a monkey in a derby and fine suit riding a goat but it only filled me with mortal sadness. (See also.)

Today In Jerry Lewis

I guess the thing that interests you most is when I go to Square Books and poke around for fat volumes likely to have indexes (or indices) and then I check those indexes (or indices) for Jerry Lewis. And that is how I found Jerry Lewis in a big fat paperback of Christopher Hitchens essays yesterday. Mr. Hitchens defends himself against Nora Ephron's charge that he has plagiarized Jerry Lewis by noting for the record that he has seen only one Jerry Lewis movie, nothing to brag about in my opinion. I also notice it when the New York Times mentions Jerry Lewis, as happens today when Jamie Kennedy compares himself to Jerry Lewis in an interview, huh, I don't know, it's a free country, there it is, make of it what you will, huh. (See also.)

The Fun Is Happening

All right! Don't forget they're having a big sale at The End of All Music today, and I'll be stopping by in the afternoon as guest DJ, with a set of dirges I've picked out especially for you. Starts about 2, but the sale is on ALL DAY. If you have ever wanted to see a tired old fat man play records NOW IS YOUR CHANCE.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Mickey Mouse Seems Crazy

Hey yeah so I am reading these Mickey Mouse comic strips from 1936 and Mickey Mouse comes back from a trip to discover that a house in his town is haunted. So he goes to the police station and yells at the desk sergeant: "I WANT T' KNOW WHY TH' POLICE HAVEN'T DONE SOMETHING ABOUT THOSE GHOSTS!" He is thrusting his hand at the desk sergeant in a dramatic fashion and giant beads of sweat are flying off of Mickey Mouse's head, the way they fly off the heads of cartoon characters who are being really intense. I have to say that the ghosts haven't even done anything to anybody at this point in the story, they're just hanging out, and I also have to say why is Mickey Mouse's first instinct to get the police involved? Is this really a police matter? And also it's not even his house, man. So, I mean, you know, butt out, Mickey Mouse. Those are the things I have to say.

Mailing a Letter

Hey look I wanted to show you this picture Natasha Allegri drew of me going to the post office to mail her a letter followed by the cats. (See also.) I call this picture "Mailing a Letter."


My friend Chicken sent me an essay about Clarice Lispector, and there is a quote from her CRONICAS, which I always think of as Clarice Lispector's "blog": "There was also the startling suspicion that Ovaltine is good: it is I who am no good."

McNeil's First Flocking

Email from McNeil: "Hey....I was catching up on the blog today and I noticed this great tidbit. You mention flocking!... I told you about how I ended up seeing the episode of Adventure Time at my sister's house Christmas Eve, right? The nephews came upstairs and roused me out of an easy chair in the bonus room. [bonus room? - ed.] Okay. Only 15 minutes earlier all the kids were up there watching TV, and I went up and fell into the chair to catch some needed shut eye. But the TV was turned all the way up. And about a minute after I got there all the kids left. And I was too lazy to get up and get the remote so I lay there with my feet up and my lithe body all curled up on the easy chair with some show called 'Victorious' on at full volume. It's a show about 11th graders who dress all cool... anyway, this was the Christmas episode, and near the end the brunette girl walks into the house where the blonde girl and the clueless sandy-haired guy are standing next to the tree AND a big machine. Brunette: (pulling off a glove) What are you two doing? Blonde: (matter of fact) Flocking. Brunette: (incredulous) I'm sorry? Guy: We're going to flock the tree. It's what you call it when you spray the tree with some scent. [? -ed.] Blonde: Okay Sandy-haired Guy, ready to flock? Guy: You bet. ... Amazing coincidence, no? That's the first time I had ever heard of flocking."

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Blue Nail Polish

Hey I saw two different TV shows last night in which characters were wearing blue nail polish. That's not very interesting! But anytime I see two of anything I have to "blog" about it. One blue nail polish wearer was Ersatz Rory from the shoe factory show. I guess this might smack of repressive desublimation, I don't know, I'll have to think about it, no I won't, let's take a nap.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Our New Year's Day Conversation

Me: "Oh no, THE LAST DRAGON isn't letterboxed, what do you think?" Dr. Theresa: "I think I can handle it." And then, when William H. Macy appeared in THE LAST DRAGON, Me: "That must have been one of his early roles." Dr. Theresa: "You think?" William H. Macy had a bit part as Vanity's assistant. He wore an extremely shiny silk jacket and appeared just long enough to tell her about "a very heavy dude" who wanted to see her, by which he meant an important person. That's right, Vanity is also in THE LAST DRAGON, and when her name popped up in the opening credits, Dr. Theresa and I both shouted "Vanity!" with genuine excitement at the same time, and scared the cat. (See also, the time Ward and I yelled "Austin Pendleton!" to the bewilderment of many.) THE LAST DRAGON was recommended by Ace Atkins, who by coincidence was a surprise (though welcome) New Year's Eve guest. He showed up last night in the dark, in the rain, at the back door, already holding a highball glass with half-melted ice in the bottom of it, like the ghost of Dean Martin. The hero of THE LAST DRAGON (seen above, with Vanity) beats up Chazz Palminteri too, but don't you think I have better things to do than tell you everything that happens in THE LAST DRAGON? Because I don't.

Dr. Pringle's Caveat

Based on whatever compulsion I keep "blogging" about the connection between Frank Sinatra and Jack Kerouac, and who cares? Not even me. So in VANITY OF DULUOZ, Kerouac writes about seeing Sinatra perform at the Paramount Theater in 1942. He's the only guy in line, he says, with thousands of young women. "... we get in the theater and skinny old Frank comes out and grabs the mike, with glamorous rings on his fingers and wearing gray sports coat, black tie, gray shirt, sings 'Mighty Like a Rose' and 'Without a Song... the road would never end,' oww." So on to lichens. Read a piece in today's New York Times about the possible immortality of lichens. The reporter compares lichens to vampires, but adds this parenthetical quotation to keep us from being too jealous of the lichens and assure us that they can die by external means: "('A bus can still run over them,' Dr. Pringle said.)" I have to hand it to Dr. Pringle! I am not sure what I like best about Dr. Pringle: that Dr. Pringle's name is Dr. Pringle or her blunt way of reminding us of the vagaries of fate. So don't get too smug, lichens! "No. 59 was dead too; probably it was 'swallowed by No. 8,' but it may have simply slid off the obelisk." See, it doesn't matter how immortal you are, you can always slide off the obelisk! I swear I read in the New York Times a couple of months back about an immortal jellyfish. I told McNeil all about it and he got excited. He told his college class about the immortal jellyfish and they didn't care. They're young! Here, let me try to find a certain passage from DRACULA: "Can you tell me why, when other spiders die small and soon, that one great spider lived for centuries in the tower of the old Spanish church and grew and grew, till, on descending, he could drink the oil of all the church lamps?" Something tickled me about the big, oil-drinking church spider! But now Van Helsing's ranting starts to sound like an article from the New York Times. The lichen article casually drops the idea in the middle of a sentence that the wandering albatross possibly DOESN'T AGE. An immortal bird is what? Scarier than a lichen? Something else?