Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Recent Adventures

1) I had a drink with Abby at Manuel's Tavern! She ordered a "snakebite" so I ordered one too because it sounded good and it was. 2) I think a grifter tried to grift me at the gas station in Lincoln, Alabama. Nice try, grifter! After I left the grifter, hours later, I started thinking, "Did he have a confederate steal my suitcase from the back of the car while he was distracting me?" But I was driving and couldn't turn around to look. Anyway, my suitcase was okay. I had that book about the English Civil War in it. Was I secretly hoping that the grifter had stolen it so I wouldn't have to read it anymore? I don't know. Who can plumb the depths of the human heart? Ha ha, the word "plumb" just reminded of me of when I was teaching and Michael turned in a story that had this sentence in it: "She was plum." And all the grad students were salivating mightily and saying what a great sentence it was but I was like, "Did you mean she was plump?" And Michael sadly said yes. He forgot to put the "p" on the end of the word. And the grad students were chastened, which hardly ever happens. And I was like "IN YOUR FACE!" But maybe they were right and Michael and I were wrong, yes, even Michael, who wrote it. "She was plum" is more interesting than "She was plump." That just goes to show you! Something.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

All Bets Are Off

Lee Durkee heard about McNeil's trouble with the misprinted book, and McNeil's feelings of being all alone in the matter, so Lee wrote me with a message of encouragement to pass along to McNeil, a little story of something that happened to Lee, which I quote for you now: "I once, on a flight to Sri Lanka, was reading a book by Tobias Wolff, IN THE PHARAOH'S ARMY, and midway through the memoir due to a publishing error the book switched into a novel by a different author and kinda blew my mind. I thought Wolff had gone all experimental on me. Later I noticed it was a slightly different typeset. I left the book at a hostel where perhaps it is still bewildering people. It was really odd. I kept reading and reading trying to figure out how Wolff was gonna wrap this all together." Last night I saw Lee at a party, and he told me that what further confounded him was how the change happened between the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. I forwarded the email on to McNeil, who responded: "Well, obviously, what happened to Lee isn't at all the fault of the publisher, but rather a result of longitudinal chicanery by that longitudinal laugh riot of the universe - the globe. You see, in order to get to Sri Lanka, you have to cross the 'International Date Line,' which of course means 'all bets are off!' I forget who said that. Once you cross that imaginary (not so imaginary in my book!) line, ships often sink, standardized language melts away, gold flies out of your teeth, and typeface often changes type. I wouldn't be surprised if my Jerry Lewis book had been shipped from Hong Kong. It's a nice touch the way Lee left the novel in a hostel. Now someone we know needs to accidentally buy it used online and the circle will be complete." Cutting-and-pasting these messages for "blog" "publication," I note that both Lee and McNeil adhere to the elegant and traditional practice of following each period they type with two spaces. Classy! I gave up on that years ago. Think of all the energy I've saved. BUT AT WHAT PRICE? (I removed their "extra" spaces so that the "post" would "adhere" to "blog" "standards." Think of all the work I did to reduce the quality here. Is that "ironic"?) Hey, I'm just going to keep typing. "All bets are off!" as McNeil once observed. Nobody reads these long "posts," or the short ones either, but perversely that's what keeps me typing. Like, yesterday I wrote a long "post" containing the words and phrases "Joycean technique" and "Faulkner" and "palimpsest" and "portent" and "unspoken emotion" but then I deleted it. WHY? For all practical purposes, a deleted "post" is the same as a "posted" "post." It was about this sentence in Adrienne Barbeau's autobiography: "We were married four months later, on New Years Day 1979, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, by a one-armed judge who years earlier had lost his hand in the mixer at the bakery where we'd gotten our wedding cake." I'm way past that now. The marriage is over. Adrienne Barbeau has just met a man who has "the ability to alter bacteria with his hands." She says of him, "I wonder who gave him the huge pearl ring he's wearing. I wonder why the nails on his pinkie fingers are so long." In other book news, I was lurching around Square Books yesterday and found myself strangely drawn to a paperback of JUNKY by William S. Burroughs. I found myself wondering why I've never read it. I read the first couple of pages and thought they were pretty good. So I bought it. It was only afterward, going through the introduction as I sat at the counter at Ajax, that I put it together: Old Bull Lee from ON THE ROAD is Burroughs, as I well knew. What I didn't know is that this edition of JUNKY has, as an appendix, a whole deleted chapter about William Reich, fave theorist of Adrienne Barbeau and Norman Mailer! Who cares? Randy, the owner of Ajax, saw me eating a hamburger and asked, "Why aren't you eating a Pendarvis sandwich? I can't remember the right name." I reminded him that he was thinking of "The Osborne Sandwich." Don't worry! I still think it's going to catch on. Books! As you know, I always like to have a little pocket-sized book to carry around in my little pocket-sized pocket as I promenade about the town like Blazes Boylan. And the other day when I was at Off Square Books I found just such an item, filled with poems using the great old spelling I love: "YEE dainty Nimphs that in this blessed Brooke/ Doo bath your brest;/ Forsake your watry Bowers, and hether looke/ At my request." There are a lot of "hey ho's," so that even the most dire subject matter takes on a jaunty hue: "But whether in painfull love I pine,/ hey hoe pinching pain:/ Or thrive in wealth, she shall be mine,/ but if thou can her obtaine./ And if for gracelesse greefe I dye/ hey hoe gracelesse greefe:/ Witnesse, she slew me with her eye,/ let thy folly be the preefe." He's talking to his sheep. All the narrators in this book are talking to sheep. Pretty early in that poem, the narrator sees "the bouncing Bellybone/ hey hoe Bonny-bell:/ Tripping over the Dale alone,/ shee can trip it very well." Bellybone! I have no idea. Bonnibel (sp?) is Princess Bubblegum's first name, FYI.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Magic Box

I put aside both this book about the English Civil War and this Norman Mailer bio to read the Adrienne Barbeau autobiography for the Doomed Book Club. I did not expect much overlap! But it turns out that Barbeau and Mailer are both devotees of the theories of William Reich, which, as Barbeau puts it, deal "with an individual's life energy, how it may flow freely or be physically blocked." Mailer "would later build his own version of Reich's infamous 'orgone box,' a telephone-booth-sized chamber where one repaired to replenish or accumulate orgonic, or life energy." You may recall the orgone box as the contraption Old Bull Lee shows off in ON THE ROAD. Why am I telling you this? I don't know! A guy has to do something to fill the numbing, relentless, empty hours, and I don't have an orgone box. This "blog" is my orgone box! For example, after I titled this "post," I recalled that Sally Timms used to portray "Cowboy Sally" on this kids'show that Barry B. and I used to make, and Cowboy Sally had a "magic box" (which sits on our mantel to this very day in Oxford, Mississippi), and wouldn't Cowboy Sally and Her Magic Box make a great illustration for this "post"? But I looked around and couldn't find a photo meeting the requirements, so I emailed Barry B. Unfortunately, he got back to me almost immediately, so that very few empty, numbing, relentless minutes were filled with the intended anticipation. But I'll take what I can get! Also, Megan Abbott has spoiled an upcoming scene for me. Apparently, Barbeau's husband John Carpenter is going to be attacked by a bat while watching the Jerry Lewis telethon.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Knack For Conjunctions

Hey! You know when I told you it would be silly for me to keep a list of books I have read that have Jell-O in them? I was an idiot when I said that. Hey so this Adrienne Barbeau autobiography has Jell-O in it. She is great with conjunctions! I mean, she can put a sentence together that has balance and electricity, defining a personality or a moment simply by placing two seemingly unrelated thoughts on either side of an "and." She describes being 15 this way: "I read Ayn Rand and went to ballet class." There's a lot about being 15 packed in there! Of an artsy older guy (he's in his 20s): "He ate cubes of Jell-O with his fingers and wrote everything in lowercase letters." These are economical sentences that really do the trick for me. I guess what I admire is the choice involved, Barbeau's instinct that these details on their own, separated by periods, would be lifeless (except for picking up Jell-O with your fingers; that stands up on its own - "cubes" a nice distinction too), but linked together, without even a comma, they are allowed to spark. Like making a fire with pieces of flint! I guess. It also tickles me that her acquaintances so far (I haven't read much of it) include "Martha Raye's brother-in-law" and "Kaye Ballard's nephew." Now, I know those names mean nothing to you, dear reader, which makes you no more to me than a common gutter punk. Kaye Ballard's nephew "had a gallery of his blown glass pieces and owned a royal poodle who carried his cigarettes for him." A use of the conjunction perhaps lacking the same compact appeal, perhaps utilizing a lower level of contrast, but good, with some satisfying twists. I'm not kidding when I say that it's akin to the old Hemingway line about knowing what to leave out: how exactly the poodle carried the cigarettes. That omission might be what makes the sentence. Here are two pictures of Kaye Ballard - sad Kaye Ballard and happy Kaye Ballard - for you to study until you earn my respect. (See also.)


"On the ninth, pro-Parliament rioters breached the compound of Whitehall, scattering the servants and putting the queen to flight below stairs..." As you can see, things are heating up in this English Civil War I've been reading about. Luckily for the queen, Sir John Suckling's bodyguards were on hand. They were called "The Sucklingtons," ha ha ha! For real. Oh, English Civil War. A pamphleteer calls Sir John Suckling nothing but a "disguised ding-thrift," whatever that is. It doesn't sound good. But now we must lay aside the English Civil War, at least for a time, for the Adrienne Barbeau autobiography has arrived. Baloney, Pendarvis! It arrived on Monday and you haven't cracked either book since then. This English Civil War book has been lying here with the bookmark on the "ding-thrift" page for days, oh yes, I couldn't wait to tell you about that. Fun side note! Whitehall is where Charles I got his head chopped off! My brother went to a wedding there and saw Kanye West. And now you know all about the English Civil War.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Wrong Book

So McNeil ordered a book about Jerry Lewis - "foreword by Kathleen Freeman!" McNeil exclaimed parenthetically - and it came in the mail with the right cover printed on it, and the right summary and blurbs printed on the back, but ON THE INSIDE IT WAS A BIOGRAPHY OF WILLIE STARGELL. I am not talking about a dust jacket, people! I mean, between these two covers firmly and deliberately printed onto the surface of this paperback was the wrong book. McNeil asked if I could recall anything similar and all I could think of was the time I bought an Ornette Coleman record and Side One was Ornette Coleman but Side Two was a random flute concerto, I think. The world sure is some crazy mixed-up place. I want you to think about it! THINK ABOUT IT! Pictured, Kathleen Freeman, thinking about it. Ha ha yes that's right she looks confused by what I just told you I am indeed a master of this form.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Am Happy

Hey when I was teaching I used to teach the Charles Schulz biography a lot and one time Bill Boyle was in that class. I made everyone meet at City Grocery Bar having written stories that were in Schulz's four-panel style. It was like writing a sonnet! Such was my thinking. This was years ago. And it is still my thinking. And for that assignment Bill Boyle wrote some of the things that made me proudest of being a teacher. Well, here is the first thing he brought to the bar... you can see it in its entirety at Lent Magazine by "clicking" here. I'll tell you the truth, sometimes when I "click" I can see it and sometimes I can't... maybe I'm old. Maybe my computer is old. But keep trying and it is there.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Package of Candy For You, Miss

I just saw a short on TCM called "Harry Reser and His Eskimos," forgive me for using that outdated and offensive word, but that was the title. So there were these guys dressed up like "eskimos," playing a bland little piece of music. Some of them looked happy to be all dressed up in their fur coats and hoods and some looked uncomfortable and even hostile. Like, there were two violinists sitting side by side, on blocks of ice, I suppose, and one was grinning in a goodnatured way - leering in ecstasy, really - while his companion was clearly thinking, "My parents died from working four jobs to send me to the Oberlin Conservatory!" One handsome man stood up and blew his trumpet and he was like, "I don't care what I am wearing, I look super handsome," you could read his thoughts, and they were accurate. So they're kind of going along, doodle deedle deedle, and the iceman comes out with a big block of ice in his tongs, which must have been a terrific gag at the time, and he tries to sell some ice to a woman in an igloo, but she is like, "No ice today." So the iceman moves along. Like a situation in Beckett! You can imagine this poor iceman going through his eternally fruitless motions. Because there is so much ice where he is! He IS modern man, bereft of purpose. So the band keeps tootling along in a boring fashion and another guy saunters up to the igloo and says "A package of candy for you, miss." And the woman in the igloo is delighted! It is a big box labeled very clearly "GUM DROPS." So the lady in the igloo eats some gumdrops while the band honks and squeaks along. And suddenly there are some guys playing poker at a table near the igloo...? And they start throwing their own supply of gumdrops (!?) at the igloo with apparently malicious intent, though the gumdrops end up forming a valentine heart. The woman comes out of the igloo and looks at the gumdrops and puts her hands on her hips like "Oh, you!" Then she throws some ice cubes at these card-playing degenerates in fur coats, and mind you that the band, in front of which all this is happening, is just tootling along all tra la la. In the illustration accompanying this "post," you may see the young hooligans recoiling from the well-deserved onslaught. So suddenly everybody starts singing a song about how they'd like "a cool mint julep on a summery day," which seems counterintuitive, or maybe "ironic." Then these three frightening monstrous icicles appear, looking like THIS IS SPINAL TAP props, and ballerinas come out of them and start dancing on their toes - ballerina style! - but tap-dancing sounds issue incongruously from their toes. Then a champagne cork pops and a huge bottle that looks more like a beer bottle descends from above and there is a guy straddling it, just wailing like crazy on his banjo. Like, finally some action. This guy is a maniac. "Straddling" is the wrong word but it added some piquancy, did it not? So we suddenly pull out to reveal that we are NOT in the land of ice and snow! We're in a nightclub! And all the nightclub patrons start throwing ice cubes. The band stands up and yells in unison "HOLD THAT TIGER!" though I could swear that's not the song they're playing. Then we pull back through the front doors of the club to reveal, unless I am nuts, that the nightclub itself IS in the land of ice and snow after all, blowing my mind. I think I've covered everything. Dr. Theresa walked in and had to laugh at the look on my face, a look of... undue concern?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cultural Studies

Welcome, young friends, to "Cultural Studies," your place on the "internet" for "cultural studies." Reminded by this Norman Mailer bio that THE NAKED AND THE DEAD has an owl in it. A gruff army cook refers to the stew he is serving as "owl poop," only this saucy fellow uses much saltier language! Yesterday, on a very different note, Dr. Theresa and I enjoyed a most delicious breakfast at the Honey Bee Bakery. The Jackson 5 seemed to be on the old CD shuffler there, and nothing wrong with that! I love the Jackson 5. But then little Michael started singing "Rockin' Robin" and I went into a most unpleasant trance, suddenly eye to eye with the soulless abyss of cynicism (not Michael, who was a pawn in this scheme!) that had manufactured the object called "Rockin' Robin," and I involuntarily did a ten-minute monologue from the point of view of its composer. Luckily, Dr. Theresa found it amusing and entertaining! That kind of thing can go either way. Today I was justly chastened when I read an interview with the music producer Dev Hynes in the New York Times. He said something I want to put on my list of great things that people have said: "So we make a bad song. That’s like the worst thing that can happen. Which, in the scheme of bad things in the world, is not that bad." He goes on to say that a bad song has never killed anybody, or words to that effect, and this is the kind of thing I used to like to say in my fiction writing classes all the time, which may be one reason I am no longer teaching fiction writing classes. But it's true! I can't help it. Go ahead and be awful was often my sincere advice. So, you know, on second thought, maybe I wasn't chastened, because if you want to hear something that has been "carefully crafted" in a "workshop" environment in which a bunch of knowledgeable "colleagues" sat around a table and "improved" the "final product" with "heated critiques" that were only in "your best interest," you should listen to a "well-produced" and "thoughtfully arranged" recording of "Rockin' Robin," because so much "attention" was paid to "detail," but be warned that you will fall into an endless coma that can only be broken by true love's kiss. (Though see also.) A final cultural item! Yesterday, Dr. Theresa went to the used-book section at the back of the antique mall next to Big Bad Breakfast, which is wonderfully curated (the used-book section is) by a woman named Carolyn Ellis Seaton. Chris Offutt and I have whiled away some fun hours there. Dr. Theresa came home with a "Red Badge" mystery published by Dodd, Mead & Co. in 1946. Apparently, this "Red Badge" imprint hosted a yearly $1000 mystery-writing contest that smells like kind of a racket, but maybe it was legit. Anyway, some of the previous contest winners were listed in the front of the book, including TOO MANY BONES, THE MAN WITH THE LUMPY NOSE, and THE AFFAIR OF THE SCARLET CRAB and I was like ha ha ha that sure sounds like one sexy crab and thus conclude our cultural studies.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Let's Look Up Things About Mirrors in Books

Where have I been? Nowhere, I guess. Well, here I am. I've really let things slide. I feel like there are lots of emails I should be answering. Elizabeth broke a mirror, for example, and wanted to know how she might counteract the bad luck, IF she were superstitious, which SHE CERTAINLY IS NOT. And NEITHER AM I. But I was doing other stuff, I guess. So I hope Elizabeth hasn't had too much bad luck yet. At the time I grabbed a handy book: THE WHITE GODDESS by Robert Graves, and checked the index for "mirror," just because it was right there where my hand could grab it with no effort. All I found was something about a mermaid with a mirror and a comb. Colorful, but of little use. I emailed that useless information to Elizabeth then did nothing for several days. The mermaid represented the dangers of love? Something like that. I've got the book right here but I already opened it once, so that's plenty. I am going to walk around now and look for, let us say, five other books that might have mirror information in them. I seem to recall that THE GOLDEN BOUGH has a whole dang chapter about mirrors, or reflections, or something. I'm getting tired just thinking about it. The "internet" seems to be the wrong way to go. Sure I could type in some clever "google search term" and get all the latest info about counteracting the ill effects of a broken mirror, but that's the cheap way of living and who can trust it? Okay, are you still there? Me neither. I walked around and grabbed five books. Let's take a look! First up, THE MAGICAL UNIVERSE: EVERYDAY RITUAL AND MAGIC IN PRE-MODERN EUROPE. Did they have mirrors? Let's find out! Not in the index. But "Mississippi" is on page 132, so let's see what Mississippi has to do with pre-modern Europe. Wow, here's a photo of a statue of a saint covered in snakes. Scary! Scary but unrelated. But wait, here we go: "in northern Mississippi in the late nineteenth century, according to Faulkner, 'the full moon of April [shining on the marriage bed] guaranteed the fertilizing act.'" The footnote says it's from THE HAMLET. Hey, I read that book! But I guess I skipped the part about the moon fertilizing everybody. Books are no use at all. Let's check the next one. It's called THE MIRROR OF ALCHEMY. It has MIRROR in the title! But not in the index. That's what I call the bait and switch, author Gareth Roberts! It does have "Miriam" in the index where "mirror" should be, a name I recall from Robert Graves's mermaid page. Hmm, it says, "see Maria Prophetissa." Okay, I will! She's the sister of Moses, "credited with the invention of... the bain-marie, a vessel containing hot water and giving gentle heat, which still bears her name." Ha ha, I like typing. Up next, the dreaded GOLDEN BOUGH (which, PS, Richard Burton was reading in his diaries). All right! This is my kind of index entry: "Mirrors, superstitions as to, 231." Oh brother, though, it's just all that old jazz about your reflection being your soul or something. Everybody knows that! Nothing in GRIMOIRES: A HISTORY OF MAGIC BOOKS (though see also). Cirlot's DICTIONARY OF SYMBOLS has lots of sentences like "The fluctuation between the 'absent' mirror and the 'peopled' mirror lends it a kind of phasing, feminine in implication, and hence - like the fan - it is related to moon symbolism." Wow, books are the worst. Okay, but the "Mississippi" thing - the nearest word to mirror in that index - was about the moon, and according to this other book, mirrors are about the moon, and this other index in which "Miriam" is the nearest word to "mirror" leads me back to the mermaid ("Marian, Miriam, Mariamne...") in Robert Graves, who he says "can be identified with the Moon-goddess Eurynome whose statue... was a mermaid carved in wood." So what can we conclude from our studies? That writers will eventually bring everything back to the moon. Writers love writing up some junk about the moon. Writers are like, "Let me stick a moon in here, everybody will think I am so great." How I hate them with their fancy ways.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Welcome once again to our regular feature "Foodstuffs!" - the only place on the "internet" where you can read about food! Whoops, it has been about two years since the last "Foodstuffs!", sorry. So I keep listening to this sea chantey over and over, all about a happy cod fisherman. Here (pictured) is the very fellow who sings it! It sounds as if the refrain is "this is a snakesman's life at sea," but I looked up "snakesman" and that seems to be a little skinny burglar who can fit into tight places the better to rob you... like chimneys? I don't know, I wasn't paying attention. The "internet" tells me this guy is singing "smacksman," not "snakesman." Sure sounds like "snakesman." I don't know what a "smacksman" is, except that it seems less interesting than a "snakesman." In one startling part of the ballad, our friend describes how the townspeople enjoy gathering "to see us get our fish on deck/ and crack their skulls with a little short stick." Take your entertainment where you can get it! I suppose you are disappointed because this was not a continuation of our recent discussion of Melba toast. WRONG! I looked up toast in my OXFORD COMPANION TO FOOD, and the author is practically fainting from how stoked he is to come from England, which has the greatest toast traditions, according to his swooning rhapsodies on the subject. He does mention that the romantic creation tale of Melba toast is thought by toast scholars to be "appealing but questionable." I ask you, is there any real truth in life? I guess not! The article is sprinkled - I should say "spread," ha ha! - with irresistible sentences like, "Meat toppings for toast became fashionable during the 16th century." Now, this has nothing to do with food, but we're all here so what the hell: This Norman Mailer bio wastes no time - page 11! - in saying Mailer's father looked owlish, making it a book with an owl in it. Yes, that counts! "Click" here and here if you don't believe me. Ha, I know you won't "click." You never do! It's what makes our relationship so volatile and passionate. I've never felt closer to you.

Full of Soup and Gold

"Hecate dominates the stage in an owl-drawn chariot." That's one thing I read in REPROBATES: THE CAVALIERS OF THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR yesterday. Also: "The masque ends with a dance of sprites on a blazing cloud." Then I read about some guy who was "the reputed 'stallion' of the court, a heavy-set charmer. In future decades, after the ordeals of war, when he was 'full of soup and gold,'" people would make fun of him for being a big fat guy. But he used to sneak around with the queen in dark corridors, if you know what I'm saying, or so the gossip went. You go, fat boy! Then I read about poor Prince Rupert. "In the narrow escape from Spanish forces at Prague in 1620, the infant Rupert was nearly forgotten. By 1636, his widowed mother found more solace in her pet dogs and monkeys than in her children." Sadly, it is not recorded here whether Rupert's mom used to get her monkeys to ride her dogs around for fun, but come on! If you have a menagerie of dogs and monkeys to whom you turn for solace, it's bound to happen, isn't it?

Saturday, November 09, 2013

A Conversation About Melba Toast

Saw Lyn at Off Square Books, where she was running an event last night. Somehow we got to talking about melba toast. And I said, "I think I saw something about how melba toast was invented. I'll send you the link." And then we both burst into laughter, because I had just said, with grave sincerity and no intention, the most boring thing that had ever been said. And I was wrong, anyway. I was thinking of this recipe for melba toast I once featured on the "blog" - if anything, MORE boring than the story of how melba toast first came to be. Ace and Angela were there. Ace said anxiously, "Did you get the picture I sent you of my cat sitting in a box?" I confirmed as much. Ace had watched the episode of ADVENTURE TIME which features lots of cats walking around with turned-over cardboard boxes on them. By coincidence, Ace's cat had been sitting around all day - that very day! - in a cardboard box! That's her above. She is a descendant of Hemingway's famous six-toed cats. "Click" here to read about the time I found out what a hennin is while working on the cat episode of ADVENTURE TIME. "Click" here to read about Hemingway's six-toed cats. "Click" here to read about the time I dropped a French fry on the floor in 2008.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Philip Roth's Kangaroo

Now that Megan Abbott has moved to town (temporarily) it is a pleasant thing to occasionally sneak off to the City Grocery Bar to have a drink with her and our mutual buddy Ace Atkins. Such was my plan yesterday, and so begins my thrilling tale. It was a rainy day, so I dug a sturdy jacket from the closet, one I have not worn in a year or more. Friends, there was a $20 bill in the pocket! I arrived at the town square an hour before the bar opened, so I poked around in Square Books. "Hey, why don't you have that new biography of Norman Mailer?" I asked Richard, the owner. He said he believed it was hidden away upstairs. Then he sprang up there like a gazelle and got it for me! What could I do but buy it, friends, after such a helpful display? Just holding it made me recall a book I had leafed through on the new release table recently, about Philip Roth and his writings. I thought I should buy it too. As I recalled, it had contained an amusing anecdote in which Roth and the author of the book were reading Cormac McCarthy together for some reason, and the author blanched at Mr. McCarthy's fulsome descriptions of the slaughter of both man and beast. The next time she came over to Roth's apartment, she rang the bell and he was delayed in answering the door. She heard him call to her from within, "Just a minute, I'm skinning a kangaroo." That made me laugh. I may be paraphrasing, because when I looked for the book IT WAS NO LONGER THERE. Someone else had beaten me to it, friends. But the bar was still not open, so I went up to the poetry section. (I was thinking of Herrick. I just read in this other book that he lived "with a trusty housekeeper named Prudence and a pet pig." Everything I read about him makes me like him more.) There I saw, misplaced, a book of Stella Adler's lectures on American playwrights. Curious! I had sort of wanted to read it when it came out and had never seen it in the theater section. Here it was! In the wrong section! In paperback! I bought it too. So let that be a lesson, kids. Wait until the bar is open before leaving the house or you will end up buying two books. I might have bought three had I not been spared the Roth! I met Ace and Megan at the bar. Ace saw my Stella Adler book and said, "There's a good Stella Adler story in Adrienne Barbeau's memoir." To which I responded "!" Hey wait did I never tell you about Ace and Adrienne Barbeau? Adrienne Barbeau appears in Ace's most recent novel in his "Ranger" series, THE BROKEN PLACES. Anyhow, Adrienne Barbeau read it and contacted Ace, delighted! So there was some talk of reading Adrienne Barbeau's memoir in the Doomed Book Club. Ace has already finished it. I just ordered my copy. And Megan... is GOING TO BE ON A PANEL WITH ADRIENNE BARBEAU in New Orleans next year...? And so I ended up buying three books after all. Life sure is something. And it revolves around Adrienne Barbeau.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Frasier, Briefly

Welcome once again to "Frasier, Briefly," your only place on the "internet" for all the latest Frasier news! On tonight's ADVENTURE TIME episode, Jake says to Finn (I may be paraphrasing slightly) "I need to talk to you in the kitchen." Classic Frasier! Frasier used to say that all the time. I happen to know that series creator Pen Ward, like Dr. Theresa and Kelly Hogan (and me!) is an inveterate Frasier watcher, though I am not exactly sure what "inveterate" means. In conclusion, I do not think it is a spoiler by any means to say that we tried to get Frasier to do a voice on the show, but today we learned that he is "too busy." I wrote a song for Frasier to sing on ADVENTURE TIME, and they sent him the demo, but I guess he didn't like it enough. TOO BUSY! This is the worst day of my life.


Wow! Reading in REPROBATES: THE CAVALIERS OF THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR about a thousand-page denunciation of the theatre called HISTRIOMASTIX, THE PLAYERS SCOURGE OR ACTORS TRAGEDIE by William Prynne, "a monumental work of cultural abrasion... insane in its reasoning, astonishing in its stamina, hurling verbiage and citation from an abyss of loathing." That's some blurb! You could do worse. "Prynne's insult to the queen could not be left unpunished. He was tried and, as if in the very masochistic climax his book was calling for all along, had his ears clipped at the pillory." I wonder whether Hawthorne gave Hester Prynne his surname on purpose, she who - as Dr. Theresa has pointed out - turned her scaffold to a stage and her audience into a spectacle.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

More Spelling Tips From Lord Wariston

More from Lord Wariston's diary: "fo by doolful experience I may knou the sliperie sliderines of my affections." Sliperie sliderines!

Bibles and Owls and Spelling and Footnotes and Madness

I should have mentioned that the quotation with all the pelicans and owls and sparrows was from the Bible, making the Bible another book with an owl in it. So I decided to get out my Bibles and check out this psalm! First I got out the old Geneva Bible, which said, "I am like a pelicane of the wildernes: I am like an owle of the deferts. I watche and am as a fparowe alone vpo the houfe toppe." I wonder why the "s"s in "wildernes" and "as" look like "s" and the rest look like fs. Is it because of their placement at the ends of words? Seemingly. But if so, why? It's a good thing I don't wonder enough to do anything about it. I will say that I read an earlier verse in the same psalm - "Mine heart is fmitten and withereth like graffe, becaufe I forgate to eat my bread" - as having something to do with a giraffe! I was puzzled and pleased, and sort of disappointed when I realized it had nothing to do with a giraffe. (There are all kinds of animals in the Bible!) A giraffe with a smitten heart! Aw! A footnote in the Geneva Bible says, "My forowes were fo great, that I paffed not for mine ordinarie fode." I don't know, I think the original is clearer than the footnote! Good times. Good times with the Geneva Bible. So then I got out my facsimile of the first King James Bible: "I am like a Pelican of the wildernes: I am like an owle of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparowe alone vpon the house top." Also, for comparison, "My heart is smitten, and withered like grasse: so that I forget to eate my bread." And I'll be honest with you: it wasn't until then that I said, "Oh! Grass." So then I was like, hey, wait a minute! Where is author John Stubbs getting all HIS weird spellings, like "oule"? Not from any of MY Bibles! So I checked HIS footnote, and found that the Bible verses were quoted from the diary of somebody named Wariston. So those were Wariston's crazy spellings! People used to just spell any way they wanted, and I dig it. And I was like, who is this Wariston anyway? I'm reading about the personal problems of somebody named Archibald Johnston! (Not to be confused with Archibald Scaldee. I guess there were a lot of guys named Archibald back then!) Why is poor afflicted Archibald Johnston ("A big crow frightened him... He dreamed of death") in Wariston's diary so much? So I checked the index and it said, "Wariston, Lord SEE Johnston, Archibald." So I saw "Johnston, (Sir) Archibald (later Lord Wariston)," and that explained everything, but I accidentally glanced down and gave myself a spoiler because on page 444 I am going to read about "his madness"! So I peeked at page 444 and there's somebody "raving and rolling in filth," but not him, curiously. Anyway, fun times.

Blind Archibald Scaldee and the Stool of Repentance

Yesterday I read in this history book about "blind Archibald Scaldee, a scintillating preacher." Also: "a stool of repentance" where you sat to be "shamed publicly for prescribed lengths of time." Oh yeah, and "I am lyk a pelican of the wilderness: I am lyk ane oule of the desart." So that's an owl, right? I also like the next part, where the guy says "I watche, and am as a sparrou alone upon the house top." He is like so many birds!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Oh Dear

Okay, ugh, I have read enough in this book about William Davenant's syphilis treatments. "He had spent an unspecified period of time with his head sewn into a medicated hood..." That's one of the milder ones. Lee Durkee told me that Davenant used to hint to everyone that Shakespeare was his real dad. The book mentions as much, and says that he usually let that slip while drunk.

An Ape I Like

You know, Adam Muto has this place on the "internet" where he answers your questions about ADVENTURE TIME and on it a fan "posted" this frame of an ape I really like. I believe Steve Wolfhard drew this ape. Just before this moment, the ape patted his leg, inviting Jake to lie down on it, which Jake did, as you can see. Ha ha, look at his little wizard hat. I believe Steve called these apes "hair apes," unless I misremember. They are made of hair, mostly.

Halloween Is Over

From John Ireland's lilac-tinted turtleneck in HOUSE OF THE SEVEN CORPSES to Keir Dullea's interestingly textured forest-green turtleneck in BLACK CHRISTMAS, which also contained seven corpses, more or less (the movie did, not the turtleneck), our annual Halloween Film Festival had so many turtlenecks - two of them, in fact, and - as any Halloween film festival must - so much John Carradine. Yes, the old Halloween Film Festival surely careened between some dramatic ups and downs this year. It concluded last night when Dr. Theresa and I went over to Megan Abbott's place to avoid the trick-or-treaters and watch DRACULA'S DAUGHTER in a double feature with Megan's pick, the aforementioned BLACK CHRISTMAS, which had a cat in it, one of those cats that make you say, when
watching a horror movie, "Oh no! Something is going to happen to that cat!" and I said it aloud, and something indeed seemed to happen to the cat, but not long afterward the cat was seen fondly nuzzling a corpse, whereupon Megan Abbott brightly chirped, "See? Nothing happened to the kitty." (See also.)