Monday, September 30, 2013

I Cheated

I guess it took me long enough to finish J R by William Gaddis. Never mind why! But I got to the end and I was like, "Huh, there was no owl in it, that's weird, because every book has an owl in it." Reading J R was like swimming in an exhilarating icy rushing river of dialogue but you know the words went whirling by so fast maybe I missed a few. So I cheated and did a "Google Book Search" of it and yes indeed, I had missed an allusion to "Woody Owl," by which Gaddis seemed to mean "Woodsy Owl," the 1970s anti-pollution mascot. So okay so J R has an owl in it. So I feel better.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Gallery of My Head

FIRST! I need you to comprehend that the photo at the bottom of the previous "post" is NOT a bowl of lettuce, as Dr. Theresa understandably thought the first time she saw it. Looking at it in the light of morning, I can see why she thought that. But no, it is simply half a head of lettuce, naked as God made it, resting on a plate, like a boat upon calm waters. Next, here is that picture of my head by Tom Herpich. Apologies to Tom: I was trying at first very hard not to wrinkle or fold his nice picture, but the necessities of travel dictated otherwise. If you enjoy this picture of my head, you may want to "click" here or here to get started on your magical journey through pictures of me and my head, its peculiar curves and bulges so irresistible to the artists of our time. Speaking of galleries, ha ha (the place where the people sit and bid on items is called the "gallery" - that is the one interesting fact from my upcoming magazine article I am going to let "leak" - or wait, are the people themselves the "gallery"? They shouldn't let me write magazine articles) here (below) is the very spot where the Bob Hope auction took place. A Phyllis Diller auction took over on Sunday, and though I was flying home, I talked Verdell (who took this photo) into going. (Never mind, there is no photo below; "instagram" will not let me nab it. Maybe Verdell will email it to me later.) I can't tell you what happened to her at the Phyllis Diller auction because that's going in my article too. Okay, she stepped on some sandwich meat.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

True Lettuce Story

Want to hear about my most recent trip to Los Angeles? No? Great! Let's get right to it. Pen took me to lunch at Musso & Frank's, the oldest dining spot in Hollywood, I guess. He said he used to go there and work on the very beginnings of ADVENTURE TIME. We both ordered the "romaine salad" to start with and received a head of lettuce that someone had chopped in two to split between us. Nothing on it or anything. A saucer of dressing on the side. And a pepper grinder on the table. And that's all you need, man, although it looked kind of funny just lying there by itself on the plate. I know what a classic wedge is, but this was stark. Starkly delicious! Then we went to a writer's meeting and Tom Herpich, one of the great storyboard artists and writers on ADVENTURE TIME, doodled a picture of my head and gave it to me. I looked at it and thought, "Wow, I'm fat!" Hey if you are a skinny, scrawny person like I used to be for the first half of my life, it will be a constant astonishment to yourself when you get fat. Every time you suddenly remember you are fat, you will be surprised! At the meeting, Kent and I had a big argument about the original meaning of the phrase "A rolling stone gathers no moss." I just couldn't believe some wise man in ancient times was going around telling people, "You should get some moss growing on you! It's fantastic!" But Kent's argument was forceful and compelling, filled with verbal footnotes. He cited Philip K. Dick, for example. And later it dawned on me that the Bob Dylan song "Like a Rolling Stone" is on Kent's side, too. So I admitted I was wrong. The writers ordered pizza. Somebody wanted a pizza with just basil and nothing else. Somebody wanted a pizza with just garlic and nothing else. Inside, I was like, What other kinds of pizzas will they order with a single herb or spice on it and nothing else? Somvilay seemed to think it was funny, too. He tried to get Pen to order a pizza with just mint on it and nothing else. Kent and I ate at that same restaurant I told you about some months ago, the one where Bob Hope used to eat. This time we were utterly forgotten by the staff for an incredible length of time. Kent drily pretended it was part of the historic ambience. "You know," he said, "Dean Martin used to be ignored in this very booth." He said, "Bob Hope used to put his elbows on this table and find out it hadn't been wiped down." The next morning I had breakfast at a diner with Verdell. That was the best, because I hadn't seen Verdell for five years then there she was, same as ever. We laughed constantly. The diner was called The Tallyrand. It was also called The Tally Rand and the The TallyRand. If you walk around the restaurant you can see the name spelled at least three different ways. Above please enjoy the photo Verdell took of "Sid and Sandy Sausage," who adorn the window. They are a couple of sausage links who are deeply in love. Verdell and I agreed that The Tallyrand reminded us in some ways of Mary Mac's Tea Room in Atlanta, the city where we met. There was a lime tree in the parking lot of The Tally Rand, bursting with healthful limes. Verdell parked right next to it and I was stabbed and scratched by vicious lime branches as I struggled out of the car through the sliver of door I was able to open. After breakfast, Verdell dropped me off at the auction of Bob Hope's personal items. I can't tell you about that because I'm writing an article about it for a magazine. I called Dr. Theresa and told her I was on my way to Beverly Hills and she said "Be careful," and I said "Oh no, what do you think is going to happen to me in Beverly Hills?" and she said "You could be torn apart by a pack of coyotes in front of the closed gates of a mansion," and I said, "All right sweetie." But Dr. Theresa was onto something because Verdell almost killed me twice - once swooping around Mulholland Drive and again when a tour bus nearly backed into us. As I say, we were laughing the whole time, an okay way to get killed.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Moth, Fork and Leg News

Last night while I was eating with my favorite fork, it suddenly struck me that my fork must be at least 50 years old. I turned it over and noted the stamp that proclaims it "stainless steel." Let's hear it for forks, a durable tool in this age of passing fancies. In other news, I just picked up a couple of bagels to go and as I was walking back home a moth alighted on the uppermost styrofoam box and rode along for a block before taking flight again. Oh ho ho ho, I thought whimsically, a moth taxi. Gee, I thought. Then Jimmy came over and we discussed the problems our short legs have caused us over the years. "It's hard to buy pants for you," Dr. Theresa volunteered.

Friday, September 13, 2013

All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up: Dunkel Edition!

Hello, friends, and welcome once again to All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up, the only place on the "internet" that combines entertainment with the entertainment all-stars! Let's get things started with our first juicy tidbit! Okay! Halfway through that newish movie of ON THE ROAD, up pops Peggy from MAD MEN in the thankless role (in the movie, the book, and life itself perhaps) of Galetea Dunkel. When we first see her she's on the phone to Sal Paradise, complaining, "These people are mad! They're mad!" And I wanted Sal to reply, "Would you describe them as... MAD MEN?" But he didn't. (See also.) Bewilderingly, the movie did not include the scene from the novel in which Sal looks through the window of a Buick dealership and sees Jerry Colonna (pictured). Buddy Ebsen is in THE LOVE OF THE LAST TYCOON, by the way. I wonder if he ever sat around on the set of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES bragging about how he was in Fitzgerald's final, unfinished masterpiece. Probably not. He seemed too nice to brag. But hey let's talk about something else. That movie I don't like (though it's rude to say as much) keeps coming on TV all the time. Now I have seen the part where the younger woman gives the older man (who wrote and directed the movie) a "mix tape" of "classical music" and he walks around listening to it and looking at buildings and then writes her letters about it which are quoted from at length in his voice-over narration while she sprawls out dreamily in a moony daze, grinning in a helpless rictus of joy as her shining eyes caress his profound and touching words, such as, "When I listened to the overture you sent, I suddenly realized I had hands... AND LEGS!" And in defiance of Billy Wilder's famous rule, we see exactly what he is narrating as he narrates it: the man who wrote and directed the movie staring at his own hands in childlike wonder as he listens to his "classical music." He also says, "I echo your sentiment about the Beethoven: Whoa." I know what he's doing there. With false modesty he is undercutting his sense of grandeur to seem real cool or something. I do it on this "blog" ALL THE TIME. Wait, this movie I claim to hate just made me realize it's myself I hate most of all. So let's talk about something else! McNeil sent me a 25-minute youtube clip (see also) because Johnny Carson's name appears on a marquee at 5:08, and I understand that! And McNeil understands that I understand that. The marquee is for one of Carson's early hosting gigs, a game show called "Do You Trust Your Wife?" That may bring us back to the oppression under which women like Galetea Dunkel labored, I don't know, sure, let's say it does. It's a MIKE HAMMER TV show, and I was surprised at the opening when Mike Hammer turned toward the camera to reveal that he is played by Darren McGavin, who is far too zany and lovable to play Mike Hammer. In an email, McNeil agreed. "They try to play the whole thing like a comedy it seems to me," he said, making a few more observations on various subjects before concluding, "what a fairy land goes on in my head." Mike Hammer drops his napkin on the floor of a restaurant to get a surreptitious look at a suspect, which is just about broad and cornball enough for the real Mike Hammer to do, but not in the vaudeville style McGavin does it. The suspect closely resembles Wimpy from the Popeye comic strip. He fiddles with his derby and makes funny faces. In conclusion, I guess nothing is good enough for me. That's it for today's All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up! Until next time, keep "reaching" for the "stars"! And go to hell.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Familiar

And here's another picture of the cat and me. I have no shame! The inset, upper left corner, shows Kent Osborne, once again responsible for this "screen shot." Get out your magnifying glass for a look at Adam Muto, lounging comfortably on the couch in Kent's Burbank office. But don't let that fool you! Adam's brain never rests.

Everett Sloane

A rare photo of Chris Offutt in captivity! You could never guess it from our sour expressions, but we had just finished a jaunty duet of "Kansas City Star" by Roger Miller when Megan Abbott snapped this photo. How fleeting is human happiness! I tried to kid myself that we look tough here, but Dr. Theresa insists that we're "about to burst into tears." Walking Megan home, Dr. Theresa and I pointed out a local landmark, exclaiming, "Here is the very gatepost behind which Everett Sloane skulked in the shadows to avoid the gaze of the prying townspeople in HOME FROM THE HILL!" or words to that effect.

Phil Returns with Monster Shrimp

Phil sent me a Wall Street Journal video report about monstrous shrimp invading the Gulf of Mexico. A guy from my hometown of Bayou La Batre demonstrates the size of said shrimp, as long as his very forearm! It is said that the big shrimp walk up and down on the decks of the shrimp boats, which is an unusual thing for shrimp to do in case you are uninformed about the usual activities of shrimp. I'd "link" to it but who cares.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Coarsely and Provocatively!

Did you know I quit my job teaching college? This time for reals! Here's the first thing that has made me sad about it: a sentence from THE LOVE OF THE LAST TYCOON. "Immediately she spoke to him coarsely and provocatively and pulled his face down to hers." I would like to tell those kids they can have three adverbs in a sentence if they want. Too late now! I tried to get Elizabeth to read THE SUNDIAL by Shirley Jackson, which is basically the story of her life, but she wouldn't do it because there were too many adverbs on the first page, or so she said! These tragedies must end. Oh well. Not my problem anymore. Next: "he was full of such tender love for her that he held her tight till a stitch tore in her dress." Whoa! All right! That made my heart pop. A few pages later the last tycoon complains, "When I want to know anything I've got to ask some drunken writer." So! I read all this by lantern-light just now during a terrible lightning storm when the power went out. We bought the lantern one night when I thought I might have to scare a fox with a golf club I found in a trash can, so I slept in a tent in the backyard with a bottle of wine, long story.

Who Cares About Anything

I like how in THE LOVE OF THE LAST TYCOON they spell orangutan "orang-outang." Is that still a variant spelling? I don't look things up anymore because who cares. But you see "orang-outang" in a lot of old books and I like to think of the first guy who got fed up with the hyphen. "Why's this hyphen in here? It's stupid! I'm not putting the hyphen in there anymore." That guy was a rebel! Then I guess the g fell off and there were lots of punctilious cranks who were upset, punctilious cranks who remind me a lot of myself, just like an orangutan does.

Right Now

RIGHT NOW, I think, Kent and Adam are recording with M. Emmett Walsh and Miguel "Albert from TWIN PEAKS" Ferrer!

Second Orangutan

"Hey! I just 'blogged' about an orangutan yesterday!" Such was the giddy thought that reverberated through my very soul as I finally had a chance to return to THE LOVE OF THE LAST TYCOON today. There is a scene in the novel in which the last tycoon speaks by telephone to a talking orangutan (!) who is also a double of President William McKinley (!!). Seldom has the phrase "I did not see that coming" been more accurate.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Three Things and I'll Let You Go

1) I caught a little of that LIFE OF PI last night. It was a scene with a hyena and a tiger and an orangutan and a dead zebra and some dude all hanging out together in a little boat. THINGS WERE NOT GOING WELL. 2) It's fun having Megan Abbott around because of the way she talks. Like yesterday she used the word "wild" and I asked her to clarify what she meant by "wild" and she said "Going to roadhouses and dancing with men." AND SHE MEANT IT. 3) I thought tonight's ADVENTURE TIME was great! Written and storyboarded by Cole Sanchez and Kent Osborne and all about a sandwich. It was one of the first ones I worked on and I remember trying to pitch a really baroque ending and I went on and on and on and on and on and on describing every elaborate detail then Pen said, "But it would be more satisfying if he just punched him in the face." AND IT WAS. That was one of the best writing lessons I ever got.

I Regret to Inform You About These Birthday Balloons

Nine weeks! Nine weeks and the birthday balloons are still floating (except for that dead one that was almost always dead). No longer do they fly as high, though, and there can be no doubt that their time among us grows short. The best thing about birthday balloons is how they remind you of death.

Mildred Pie

Dr. Theresa made a peach pie in honor of Mildred Pierce last night and Megan Abbott came over and we all ate some peach pie in honor of Mildred Pierce and Dr. Theresa and Megan Abbott talked about Mildred Pierce and I was a lucky kind of preview audience of one because DR. THERESA AND MEGAN ABBOTT ARE GOING TO TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT MILDRED PIERCE IN PUBLIC ON FRIDAY AND YOU CAN COME SEE IT HAPPEN. Their talk is compellingly called "Fine, Wet and Beautifully Made: Mildred Pierce's Pies and James M. Cain's Working Woman." It's all part of the "Women, Work and Food" Symposium put on by the Sarah Isom Center (of which Dr. Theresa is the assistant director) and the Southern Foodways Alliance. You know those guys! You can read the whole schedule by "clicking" here. You know, it occurs to me I have been mentioning Megan here lately like it's just a normal thing to hang out with her, which I guess it is now, but maybe it's confusing, as I have never given you proper notice that she is the new John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence, so she has come down from NYC to live here for a year or so and we're happy to have her. Walking Megan home late last night through the dark and empty Sunday streets, we spied a melancholy pom-pom lying in a vacant lot with some kind of David Lynch spotlight on it.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Saloon Gong

Sitting in Square Books today, waiting to meet someone, I was staring at the LITERARY NON-FICTION section, which is just across from where you sit and drink a Coke and think about where it all went wrong. And I saw staring back at me a book about Oscar Wilde's travels through the United States. I've always wanted to know more about the time he spent in Mobile, which is near where I grew up. So I picked up the book and thumbed through it while I was waiting - WHICH MAKES ME NO BETTER THAN A COMMON THIEF. (See also.) I didn't learn anything new about Oscar Wilde in Mobile (except that an "enterprising" kid sold sunflowers before Wilde's outdoor reading, and Wilde was like, "Way to go, kid!" except significantly wittier) but I did find out that Oscar Wilde visited Jefferson Davis at his home in Biloxi, so that's weird. And I found out there was a professional Oscar Wilde impersonator in Atlanta at the time! He billed himself as "Wild Oscar" (!) and recited an Oscar Wilde-style version of the history of Atlanta (!) before ending things with a "sunflower dance." I also learned that Wilde's reading in Houston was "continually interrupted by the ringing of a large gong in the saloon downstairs." And that is the majority of the information I stole for you today.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Say Something Funny

Megan Abbott and I happened to stop by The End of All Music yesterday just as one of the owners, David, was standing on his tiptoes in the back of his pick-up truck hanging a snazzy new sign for the store on a pole. We went in and bought some records. So I guess the sign worked! I picked up a Patty Duke album. Are you bored yet? I also got a double album; do you kids remember double albums? I know you don't - don't lie to me. Anyway, this album is by Jimmy Clanton and has a red cover that says "Jimmy's Happy." But if you flip it over it has a blue cover and says "Jimmy's Blue." Jimmy looks happy on the happy cover and pensive on the blue cover. So it's one LP of happy songs and one LP of sad songs and when you open the leaves or double sleeve of the double album there's a Jimmy Clanton poster folded up in the middle! But you can't see it until you "cut along the dotted line" to get it out, and friends... THIS DOTTED LINE HAS NEVER BEEN CUT ALONG. Or, to be more grammatical, THIS IS A DOTTED LINE ALONG WHICH NO ONE HAS EVER CUT. So I can't see the poster. But the edges are blue, so maybe it's Sad Jimmy. Don't know when I'll cut along the dotted line and take out the poster and hang it up, though I feel I should. I have never been one of those "keep the toy in mint condition in the original box" sort of guys. Maybe we'll have some kind of ceremony. You know, I have another Jimmy Clanton story, but I'm truly boring myself, so let's move on to other things equally boring. I put the Patty Duke on the turntable today and it immediately evoked David Lynch: minor chords plus a chirpy, doubled vocal, punctuated by ominous timpani. (Come to think of it, Patty Duke played identical cousins on her TV show - so Lynchian! And one of the major subplots of TWIN PEAKS, of course.) "Don't Just Stand There," the song is called, and it is all about Patty Duke telling a guy not to just stand there. There is a quiet, forthright spoken-word section, always a wellspring of unintended eeriness. The song was written by "B. Ross - L. Crane" and with the tiniest bit of research I could find out who B. Ross and L. Crane were, but I'm just so tired of life. I will say, based on a few other tracks they wrote for the album, that B. Ross and L. Crane were masterminds of the perverse. One of their Patty Duke songs is called "Say Something Funny" and in it the narrator asks her boyfriend, who is in the process of dumping her in public, to "say something funny" that will make her laugh so the other people around won't know her heart is breaking! HER HEART IS BREAKING

What's Up With Chuck

I was scrolling through these here capsule descriptions of all the TV shows that are on right now and I saw something titled CHUCK'S DOUBLE ANNIVERSARY. The capsule description provided by the satellite company was a single sentence: "Make it personal with Chuck." WHAT! I won't keep you in suspense: it was some dude - Chuck, I guess - selling jewelry. Well, TV, you can't fool me with your intriguing titles and cryptic capsule descriptions; the Gem Shopping Network - which this was not! - is the only jewelry shopping channel crazy enough for me.

Friday, September 06, 2013

How I Met Your Sexy Nobility

Hey I was just flipping around on one of these movie channels and came across a movie scene in which the guy from HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER - the one who I believe met the eponymous mother (I'm using the word "eponymous" too much lately; what a jerk!) - was about to make a speech in a diner explaining the problems of the country, which I know because he solemnly announced his intention to enumerate the problems of the country and pinpoint their various sources, and then he opened his mouth but I changed the channel because I was afraid to find out! But I flipped back some minutes later, just in time to see a virginal young woman BEGGING the guy from HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER to initiate her into the mysterious secrets of womanhood, then she wept glycerine tears that sparkled and shone on her delicate face when he refused to sully her purity from being too noble and all. So in THE VERY NEXT SCENE he meets a foxy older lady who is also a brilliant genius and she finds his raw sexiness wildly irresistible. That's when I went to imdb and confirmed my suspicion that this movie was WRITTEN AND DIRECTED by the guy who single-handedly solved the problems of the nation in a diner booth then fended off ardent, quivering admirers from across the spectrum of human mortality. The movie poster shows the guy from HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and the virginal young woman holding hands and WALKING ACROSS AN ENORMOUS OPEN SCHOOLBOOK REPRESENTING LEARNING. What do you want to bet he LEARNS A THING OR TWO ABOUT LIFE FROM HER BEFORE ALL IS SAID AND DONE? What a twist! He thought HE was the one with all the answers! Looking back, I see that this is my fourth negative "blog" "post" in a row. That's not my laid-back style! And I really shouldn't judge a movie from a few disjointed moments. BUT I DIDN'T INVENT THE REMOTE CONTROL SO IT'S NOT MY FAULT. Also, maybe it's only my third negative "post" in a row because that Jay Leno movie is starting to seem like an exquisite masterwork about now. (See also.)

Please God Not a Quirky Preamble

So I read the article. You can't judge an article in the New York Times by the cloying rhetorical question in its headline! And the concert under review sounded really good, so I was ashamed. But then I reached the last two paragraphs, the first of which contained this sentence: "With his customary menagerie of plush toys at hand, he paced the room, singing softly while rubbing a pealing tone on the rim of his cognac goblet." Say it ain't so! And in the next paragraph the guy performs "a quirky preamble." Much of the good will built up during the early part of the article was thus sorely taxed.

Jeepers Creepers

"Where Better to Play a Theremin Than on a Boat?" cloyingly inquired one New York Times headline still seared onto the surface of my brain. Today's headline boldly poses that even more cloying rhetorical question, "What’s an Avant-Garde Evening Without a Poet and Plush Toys?" What indeed, New York Times, what indeed. I'll tell you exactly what an avant-garde evening without a poet and plush toys is: worse than the foulest garbage. If I ever arrived at one of my avant-garde evenings and discovered there were no poets or plush toys I'd throw myself down an elevator shaft.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Jay Leno Movie

Hey jerks I forgot to tell you I watched almost all of a Jay Leno movie the other night. He played a Detroit cop who slammed down his badge on his gruff supervisor's desk! So that's what I did the other night.

Whistling Benchley

Hey! I have to tell you something super important about one of our cats, so drop everything and shut up. Yes, that's right, I'm talking about the cat who loves the sound of whistling and does amazing tricks when said whistling occurs. Recently that cat embarrassed me during an ADVENTURE TIME meeting when she jumped up on my chair here in Mississippi and everyone saw her in Los Angeles - but that is not the embarrassing part (the "link" shows the same cat in a different meeting) - and I told them to start whistling and watch what happened and everybody started whistling for the entertainment of the cat but nothing happened because the cat didn't care. And though that might be the embarrassing part THAT'S NOT THE IMPORTANT PART. See, I had forgotten that the cat loves the sound of real human in-person whistling but has never enjoyed fake whistling by some reproduction of someone on some dumb screen somewhere. Cats are all about reality and the real thing, man. Cats can tell the difference! UNTIL LAST NIGHT. Robert Benchley started whistling in a movie on TCM. I believe he was giving us a snatch of Mendelssohn. And the cat was really into it! REALLY INTO IT! Robert Benchley broke through. Across the boundless sands of time and even scoffing at death itself, the late Robert Benchley and his magic puckered ghost lips of destiny whistled to our cat with a seductive trill and our cat was there to heed the call. (See also.)

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

A Conglomeration of Every Dance in the Nation

Megan Abbott and I were just discussing a Dale Hawkins song which describes and encourages a dance called "the Mumbly Peg." If I am recalling the lyrics correctly, Mr. Hawkins claims that his dance is "a conglomeration of every dance in the nation." Sounds complicated! My advice would be to focus, Mr. Hawkins. Focus! As in this fave dance "clip" ("click" here to enjoy). It is far from being "a conglomeration of every dance in the nation," Mr. Hawkins, in fact it is barely a dance at all, and therein lies its strength.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Good Illusion

"Leaving the studio he was still tense but the open car pulled the summer evening close and he looked at it. There was a moon down at the end of the boulevard and it was a good illusion that it was a different moon every evening, every year. Other lights shone in Hollywood since Minna's death: in the open markets lemons and grapefruit and green apples slanted a misty glare into the street. Ahead of him the stop-signal of a car winked violet and at another crossing he watched it wink again. Everywhere floodlights raked the sky. On an empty corner two mysterious men moved a gleaming drum in pointless arcs over the heavens." - F. Scott Fitzgerald, THE LOVE OF THE LAST TYCOON. I thought that was a pretty good paragraph and I showed it to Melissa Ginsburg at the City Grocery Bar tonight and she thought it was a pretty good paragraph too. Then I went to Lee Durkee's, where we watched a movie of RICHARD III and liked the lines about "wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl, inestimable stones, unvaluèd jewels, all scatt'red in the bottom of the sea: some lay in dead men's skulls, and in the holes where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept - as 'twere in scorn of eyes - reflecting gems, that wooed the slimy bottom of the deep and mocked the dead bones that lay scatt'red by."

Monday, September 02, 2013

Dirty Elephant

"Hey, look what's on!" cried Dr. Theresa from the other room. This was a couple days ago. It was THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW. The orchestra was playing "Baby Elephant Walk" and out came somebody in an elephant costume, pretending to play a trombone. "It's dirty and raggedy," Dr. Theresa accurately observed of said elephant. Its large, disconcerting eyebrows flopped with menace as it shuffled around. When the dirty elephant turned to go, its gross ratty tail could be seen dangling down like a dead thing, plus it had a second tail, like a rabbit's tail, like the costumer was confused, like they were still working on it, like the costumer was kneeling down there at the elephant's tail with pins in his or her mouth when a stagehand desperately yelled to the elephant, "You're on!" - a red tail (!) that Dr. Theresa described as a "pom-pom," that was one messed-up elephant they had there. (See also.)

Bob Hope's Acrylic Writing Desk Goes Careening Through My Brain

Hey I just saw a commercial where a guy eats a cheese potato chip and makes the moon explode. Hey last night I saw a huge slug moving really fast. Hey all day long I study my glossy auction catalog of Bob Hope's personal items and when I close my eyes at night I can't sleep because I see Bob Hope's personal items flashing before my eyes.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

My Report on Breaking Bad

Hey did you know I've never seen BREAKING BAD? You probably don't care! And that is the right attitude for you to have about me and the things I have or haven't seen. Anyway, it's just how my life worked out. Nobody knows why I haven't seen BREAKING BAD. Well, I take that back. It is about 1:45 in the morning and I just saw that part where they say, "Next week on BREAKING BAD..." then they show some scenes from next week's show. So the announcer said, "Next week on BREAKING BAD..." which immediately cut to a clip of the main character saying, "I've got a bad feeling about this..." So anyway, I was sitting there wishing he had said, "I've got a bad feeling about this... a BREAKING BAD feeling!" But he didn't. THE END

Mopey Superheroes

Been thinking about the singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon lately, I don't know why, yes I do, but you don't care, but I'm going to tell you anyway: I keep listening to this track on a box set of Los Angeles psychedelic pop... it's Jackie DeShannon, backed by the Byrds, doing a song called "Splendor in the Grass" that seems to be about the movie SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS - a movie from which I must always turn away my blushing face in deference to its raw, unhinged emotion that terrifies me with its honesty and threatens to kill me in my trembling heart. Well, there's another version DeShannon does of the same song, a little slower and with strings on it, but that's not the one I'm talking about. I like the rough and jangly version better. So I was thinking I'd go out to The End of All Music and see what they have by Jackie DeShannon. And so I did. (Side note: I see that Jackie DeShannon is on twitter, where she has a mere 300 or so followers - which is not the mark of a person! Not by a long shot! I notice that she tweets stuff like "No." Like, just the word "No.") Anyway, I picked up a pristine Jackie DeShannon LP, sold to me by Jimmy, who was working today. Also in the D section: Dino Desi & Billy. That's a group featuring the teen son of Dean Martin (the eponymous Dino) and the teen son of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball (you may know him better now as Desi Arnaz, Jr.)... and their friend Billy. I was familiar with this group, or at least its existence, and thought - as I stubbornly and erroneously insisted to Jimmy - that Billy must be the son of famous people, too, but Jimmy looked it up on his computer, and Billy is just Billy, and that's good enough for me. But I wasn't going to buy their LP - Dino's and Desi's and Billy's, no. First of all, it was kind of scratched up. Jimmy offered to take it in the back and run it through this secret descratchifying machine they have back there. Even more troubling, however, is that Track One was "Memories Are Made of This," already a hit for Dino's dad. Seemed like a red flag! Like Dino and Desi and Billy planned on coasting to fame! But Jimmy put it on the turntable and here's what the arrangement said (not totally convincingly) to me: "Hey, Dad! I'm not going to stand in your shadows, you hear me? I'm putting my own mark on this number! This is how the kids of today will twist and stroll to the smooth modern beat of my fresh new interpretation!" And I noticed that Dino Desi & Billy cover a Jackie DeShannon-penned song on side two! "When You Walk in the Room," the same Jackie DeShannon song once covered by "Blog" Buddy Sally Timms. It was an omen. Plus the record is on Sinatra's label, Reprise, and was produced by Lee Hazelwood and arranged by Billy Strange, all of which made me think, for reasons I shan't bore you with, that it was VERY LIKELY RECORDED IN THE EXACT SAME ROOM where our dear one Kelly Hogan recorded her most recent solo album. Yes, Hogan has trod where Dino and Desi and Billy trod before her, and walked she did in those hallowed steps of yore. So, yes, I bought the Dino Desi & Billy LP after Jimmy cleaned it up for me in the back. "They look like mopey superheroes," Jimmy said approvingly of Dino Desi & Billy. And though I don't believe I heard him mention Dino's fawn-colored turtleneck, he did hold forth admiringly on the subject of Dino's flared nostrils. And then I heard him explaining to another customer why he hadn't "gone down to the creek" when recently invited... because just prior to the invitation Jimmy had dreamed he was in the creek "and there were snakes rolling all over me," he said. Speaking of people's relatives making art, Megan Abbott and I were in Square Books the day before yesterday and studied a very old mass-market paperback (original cover price twenty-five cents!) by John Faulkner, the other Faulkner's brother. It was called UNCLE GOOD'S WEEK-END PARTY, and on the cover we see a man we must assume is Uncle Good slyly drawing on his corncob pipe in tacit if stoic approval as a couple of young women in disarrayed nighties sit on a bed and comb each other's hair or something.

Neighborly Times at the Old Homestead

Out there in the yard in a pink neon t-shirt and seersucker shorts - DON'T ASK! - (the latter of which I later ascertained to be improperly fastened - again, DON'T ASK!) and white socks pulled way up befitting the rube that I am and blue felt slippers watering my cashew tree (which is fairly thriving! thanks for asking!) when a nice dude in a fine hat and moustahce and sunglasses walked up to inquire what kind of tree I was watering and to tell me about a little magnolia he's trying to get going in his own yard. Pleasant times, though I'm going to start thinking about what I wear out in the yard.