Thursday, December 31, 2015

Beakers of Colorful Liquids

Hi! Dr. Theresa and Ace and I watched POINT BLANK last night. Early in Lee Marvin's tour of vengeance he visits the apartment of his wife, and it's all silver and gray and white and reminded me of Jerry Lewis, especially the monochromatic "Spider Woman" sequence in THE LADIES MAN, this frame of which I've shown you before:
Lee Marvin smashes all his wife's perfumes and potions in the bathroom sink like so:
and you think of the floor in the transformation scene from Lewis's THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, with its smashed beakers of colorful liquids.
There was at least one scene that would have benefited had Jerry Lewis starred in the movie instead of Lee Marvin. See, Lee Marvin walks into a kitchen to discover that Angie Dickinson has mischievously turned on all the sleek modern appliances: a dangerously smoking toaster, a mixer, a blender, etc. Boy, Jerry could have gone wild with that! Lee Marvin just walks around turning stuff off. It's like what McNeil said about how much better 2001 would have been had Jerry played an astronaut with a pesky ant in his moon boot. Oh yeah! I almost forgot that Lewis's favorite sidekick Kathleen Freeman is in POINT BLANK, weirdly just hanging around in a single scene with nothing to do. Is her otherwise inexplicable presence a hint, a clue? I doubt it! But I choose to believe it. As Tertullian said, "Certum est, quia impossibile."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

White Apples

I keep seeing this commercial where some bald mannequins are having a feast of white apples and this dude comes in and his phone is so powerful it allows him to jump on the table and kick over some bowls of white apples and this one mannequin turns into a real live person because she is so taken with the dude's apple kicking abilities. I bet poet Donald Hall is thrilled by all the free publicity his poem "White Apples" - about a visitation from his dead father - is getting thanks to this timely bit of drama about a guy whose phone is so cool it allows him to jump on a table and kick the apples.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Hamilton Consolation

Well, Mom and Dad have had a truly terrible ordeal trying to get back home to Alabama from Los Angeles. In fact, they are still stuck in the Houston airport and will be until late tonight. Last night their flight was diverted to Dallas, where they had to sit on the runway for several hours before getting off the plane and spending the night there... not part of the plan! "But guess who I met on the flight?" Mom asked. "George Hamilton!" I asked what she said to him. "'Gosh it's nice to see you in person,'" Mom said. She said they talked back and forth for a while and I asked what about and Mom said she really doesn't remember, everybody was so exhausted. Here once again is the photograph that my friend Ward McCarthy and I got of George Hamilton by screaming at him from a van many years ago ("click" here for more details).

Blowtorch

Well, the movie CONEHEADS was on and I saw Dan Aykroyd stuff a whole pack's worth of cigarettes into his mouth and light them with a blowtorch. As you know, it is too late for me to add anything to my cigarette lighter book, and I don't regret it, and I'm not sorry Dan Aykroyd's not in there lighting a whole pack of cigarettes with a blowtorch, but Harpo Marx is in there lighting a cigar with a blowtorch and I do know that had I seen CONEHEADS while I was still working on the book, Dan Aykroyd would have been in the same paragraph with Harpo, both of them lighting up smokes with a blowtorch.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Owl Hoots at Midnight

I forgot to tell you - no I didn't, I just didn't feel like it, until now. I still don't feel like it. But I'm gonna tell you. Look! I'm only legally obligated to mention one owl per book I read. If the book has another owl in it, I can keep it to myself if I feel like it. So I don't really want to tell you that the spy lingo in this Norman Mailer novel includes the hilarious code phrase "The owl hoots at midnight." (See also.) Actually, it's fake spy lingo that the spies are using to fool other spies into thinking it's real spy lingo... but that still counts as spy lingo by my reckoning. I've been sitting on this for days now. See why I didn't want to tell you? It's so difficult to explain and the resultant satisfaction for any of us is negligible.

Accordion Support

I told Dr. Theresa I was ashamed of myself for dragging out my accordion and forcing people to endure its wheezing as Christmas drew to a close. "It's your house!" Dr. Theresa asserted boldly.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas

Christmas. Listening to a Johnny Rivers LP. Dr. Theresa making figgy pudding. A gigantic spider descends swiftly on a thread from the ceiling, straight down for the uncovered sugar bowl, providing Christmas drama. Report from Los Angeles, where my parents are visiting my brother and the grandkids: Mom says that Dad saw Larry King in a bagel shop and hugged him on Christmas morning. "I was overcome," Dad explained. I switched the record to an old compilation called "Jingle Bell Jazz" that always got on my nerves. Who can explain my complex behavior? It has rained all day. The yard is flooded. Sixty-three degrees fahrenheit. Yesterday afternoon the thawing goose was still frozen in the middle and I was unable to extract the giblets. Now some jazz flute dude is going to town on "We Three Kings." Reading Norman Mailer for Christmas. Just got out of a flashback that lasted almost 800 pages, and I can remember little of what is going on in the novel's "present." (By ominous coincidence I come to a passage about Allen Dulles falling fatally ill on Christmas Eve.) While in the shower, I recall that I dreamed about M. Emmett Walsh. He threatened someone with a pistol, then ate it and said, "It's no secret this gun was made of chocolate." Figgy pudding has come out of the oven and looks and smells spectacular. I fear that my goose could never measure up! Christmas tweeting with Hogan. She says Christmas spiders are good luck. I play an LP she gave me a long time ago, Paul Williams's "Here Comes Inspiration." His version of "Rainy Days and Mondays" (a song he wrote) sounds especially appropriate today. I see a cocktail fork that I bought from Bob Hope's estate among the drying dishes. Dr. Theresa says she used it to test the consistency of the figgy pudding. Am I upset? Far from it! Wassail is simmering. Megan Abbott suggested wassail. She was somewhat upset that I found a wassail recipe with bourbon in it. "Surely Bob Cratchit didn't have bourbon?" she objected. We switched from LPs to Bing Crosby on iPod, because it's hard to flip over records while you're cooking a goose. Chris Offutt and Melissa Ginsburg came over. Chris soon tired of Bing. He asked me to play some Frank Sinatra. Chris stood with his head respectfully bowed for several minutes, listening to Frank do a live version of "I Could Have Danced All Night." Then he compared the rhyme scheme of "Come Fly With Me" to Bob Dylan, which got us listening to Bob Dylan. Chris dramatically acted out Dylan's entire song "Isis," thrillingly grabbing me by the shoulders during some verses. He also carved the goose (as seen above).

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Another Twist

In case you thought I was kidding about Norman Mailer hating the Twist, here we find the narrator's father associating it with the death of his dear friend Dashiell Hammett (!): "The radio was playing this dreadful new song, 'Let's Do the Twist,' just as I opened the paper to receive such news."

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Hey remember almost exactly two years ago when Ace Atkins gave us a frog that sits on a toilet and nods its head through the magic of solar energy? And remember how it almost never works? And the last time it worked was on a cloudy day in April of 2014 when its mysterious tapping began to drive me mad? Today is very overcast and the frog just started tapping its head on the back of its little toilet again. Of course, I know the source of the sound now, so that part didn't drive me crazy. But now it has stopped tapping its head and its head is just moving a little bit, almost imperceptibly, so that if you stare at it for long enough, as I have been doing, you slowly lose your mind.

VHS Tape

I can't find any good Christmas presents for anybody. Today I walked all the way down the secondhand shop next to Big Bad Breakfast and I stood there staring at a VHS tape of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN still in the shrink wrap and I said, "Christmas, you have defeated me."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

People Alone in a Room

I don't suppose any of you will ever forget late 2013, when I read in that Norman Mailer biography that Norman Mailer thought the Twist was "evil." Well, some of that leaked into his CIA novel, I tell you. Now, you should never, ever confuse the narrator with the author, but I'm reading this part where the narrator is at a party on the eve of Kennedy's election and everyone is doing the Twist: "I thought it was strange in the extreme that the dancers did not hold each other but stood apart and rotated their hips like people alone in a room leering into a mirror." Ha ha, Norman Mailer really hated the Twist! (See also, the time Lyndon Johnson was doing the Twist and fell on somebody.)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Santa's Face

I'm cooking a goose for Christmas. Believe it or not we don't really have any goose-cooking supplies around here. So I went out today. First I stopped by The End of All Music to see Bill Boyle, whom you can usually find behind the counter on a Sunday. I saw that the new arrivals bin was stocked with interesting things and Bill said that many of them were the abandoned records of a mutual friend (should I reveal his name? It's probably nobody's beeswax!) who's moving out of town. Speaking of none of your beeswax, I had an email from my old pal Abby Greenbaum, full of juicy music biz gossip about big-name country stars. But I can't tell you any of it! I can only give you some of the last part of the email: "The next day I hung out at Santa's Pub and, in honor of Christmas, did tarot readings for my roadie friends. Have you ever been to Santa's Pub? It is a triple wide trailer in South Nashville that is also a bar. Beers cost $2, and Santa's face is painted on the outside." But back to the goose! I was grousing to Bill that I really shouldn't buy any LPs because I had to spend my money on goose supplies, and Bill insisted on buying my stack of records for me. (Pictured above, one of them.) How often do you walk into a place and the guy working there buys your stuff for you? Talk about Christmas cheer! Speaking of which, I couldn't find any cooking twine at the grocery store so this guy who works there walked back behind the mysterious doors of the meat department and came back with a length of cooking twine for me. "Just stick that in your pocket," he said. Dang! I forgot to tell you that after I saw Bill I stopped for a bite to eat at Big Bad Breakfast, where, to my alarm, the Food Network had set up and was shooting something. I sat at the counter, not too far from an intensely glowing young couple they were interviewing. ("Random customers, I don't think they're from here," my server told me.) The Food Network had forced these clean-cut sweethearts to order a Pylon apiece. Now, these trim and fresh-faced matinee idols looked as if they'd barely be able to finish half a Pylon between them. Have I told you about the Pylon? It's named for the Faulkner novel, natch. It's a waffle with lots of stuff on top. Slaw and chopped-up hot dogs and chili and oyster crackers and hot peppers and I can't remember what all. Mustard, for instance. The Pylon cures your hangover. Now, this rosy-cheeked ingenue and her all-American beau have never had a hangover in their tender lives, I avow. But they cautiously approached their Pylons in the spirit of good sportsmanship. The funny part was that the interviewer would ask them things like, "Why do you think this place is named 'Big Bad Breakfast'?" "I don't know," was their reasonable answer. (It is named for Larry Brown's book BIG BAD LOVE, but how are they supposed to know that?) "What do you think is the origin of the Pylon?" asked the interviewer. "I don't know," the young woman said.

Ross From Friends

I'm kicking myself for not "live-blogging" this movie starring Ross from FRIENDS that came on late last night. I bet you're pretty sorry too! The capsule description said the movie was about a "brokenhearted writer" so you can imagine my excitement. There's no more appealing character than a precious, precious writer man with so many God-given talents who is all sad about something and sitting around doing some soul searching while people assure him of his worth. So I watched it for seven minutes and Bonnie Hunt was in it. She brightens up anything! And then I just couldn't believe it: Ross from FRIENDS was a wisecracking sportscaster! JASON LEE was the brokenhearted writer! I bet Ross was supposed to be the brokenhearted writer and then he was like, "Why don't we mix this up a little, Pete?" (I'm imagining someone named Pete, like an agent or the director or somebody.) Because Ross from FRIENDS has "brokenhearted writer" practically stamped on his forehead. Just look at him. And Jason Lee has "wisecracking sportscaster" likewise embossed. But anyway I went to bed. I really let you down.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Old Spinning Wheel Dude

Everyone loves the saucy obituaries of Margalit Fox! And I am no exception. How oft have I championed her work. Twice, that's how oft. But my old brain got to thinking today after I hyperbolically emailed Megan Abbott that the New York Times is "SO BORING!" and she semi-ironically countered with a Margalit Fox obit of an old spinning wheel dude. I suddenly recalled tweeting this back in January:
but I couldn't remember why. As you can see, it deserved and received no faves or retweets. What set me off? Why did I think, apparently, that Margalit Fox was going mad with power, ha ha, mad with obituary writing power, I suppose? Or did something remind me of when Larry King's tweets became too self-aware and I had to block him? An investigation was called for! The NYT published two Fox obits on the date in question, and I suspect it's this opening paragraph that put me over the edge:
In her spinning wheel obit, Fox refers to the deceased as "a Burl Ives of a man." Can someone be a Burl Ives of a man? I mean, other than Burl Ives? Shouldn't the object of comparison be something other than an actual man? Isn't that like calling a Chrysler "the Cadillac of cars" or something? Now I'm just complaining for the sake of complaining. Maybe I'm in a bad mood. I'm sorry, Margalit Fox! Don't write anything bad about me when I'm dead. PS This photo of Mitzi Gaynor in today's paper is what started the whole discussion.

Worlds Collide

Look! My brother-in-law just sent me this recent photo of our old neighborhood pizza parlor from way back when we lived in Atlanta. (I mean, he still lives there but you know what I mean.) The new mural on the window is a representation of my current job. As I recall, they had a huge painting of the Marvel character Warlock inside. That's how you know it's an authentic pizza joint. It's no secret that pizza makers traditionally love the philosophical alien superhero Warlock. My memory may be playing tricks on me but this is exactly what the painting looked like, I think:

Our Young Nation

The other night I was flipping around and saw that I had missed the first five minutes of ANOTHER STAKEOUT, which came out in 1993, just like STRIKING DISTANCE and THE NIGHT WE NEVER MET. And I thought, "So what! I missed the first five minutes! I could still 'live-blog' this! It's the Richard Dreyfuss/Rosie O'Donnell team-up our young nation was yearning for!" (See also.) So anyway, Albert from TWIN PEAKS seemed to be a sly hitman in a sewage truck. That's as far as I got.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Mmph

Here's a pic I "grabbed" off the computer screen during today's ADVENTURE TIME meeting. As you can see, Kent Osborne is wielding a light saber. He was counting the minutes until the end of the meeting so he could get on his bicycle and pedal all the way to Hollywood from Burbank to see the new STAR WARS movie. I know Ace Atkins has already seen it. I think he went to Memphis for the occasion. And that reminded me of a fun interview I did with Ace ("click" here to read it) all the way back in June of 2014, when Ace said, "I'm super excited about the new STAR WARS movie" and I replied, "Mmph. Wha... I don’t even..." and, somewhat more coherently, "I was excited when I saw the FIRST Star Wars movie. I was in the theater and the first shot of that giant ship going over just blew my poor young mind." And Ace said, "I think J.J. Abrams is going to do an excellent job. He did everything right. First of all, he hired Lawrence Kasdan to write the screenplay." And I repeated, "Mmph." In short, I was 14 when the first STAR WARS came out, and it thrilled me immeasurably, but by the time of the second one I felt I was "too old" for it. But I still have nothing against it! I fondly recall the franchise. I don't want to be like the dozens of people on my twitter feed who seem really proud of themselves for not caring about STAR WARS. Why do I follow so many people on twitter who are so very excited to measure exactly how much they are not caring about STAR WARS? And who cares what you don't care about? And if you don't care about it, why are you tweeting about it so much? That seems like caring. (Also pictured, Ashly Burch and Adam Muto.)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

This Is Fine

I walked through the town square this morning, just behind a man who was skipping down the street. Not the sidewalk, the street. When a car would narrowly miss grazing him he'd point at it like "Hey, I see you," and then his arms would do some graceful flapping... bird motions, like, good ones, like ballet. Meanwhile, he continued to skip. I vaguely recall reading somewhere, maybe years ago, that skipping is good exercise. But I have never before seen a grown man skipping down the street while flapping his arms gracefully like a bird. I could see that his hair was beginning to gray beneath his cap. He was wearing a green velour jacket and bright red headphones and blue pants like Homer Simpson's. And he was skipping down the street in defiance of oncoming traffic while gently and gracefully flapping his arms like maybe he thought he was a seagull.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I Didn't Do That Thing I Do

Hey remember when I "live-blogged" the movie STRIKING DISTANCE (1993) and then I "live-blogged" another movie from 1993? Don't worry, I'm not going to do that again! First of all, MIXED NUTS is from 1994. Also, my heart's just not in it anymore. I perked up when I saw it coming on. Not with delight. I saw it at the theater when it came out, which is something you say a lot as you get older and older, and nobody cares, but you keep saying it: "I saw this in the theater when it came out!" It starts with Steve Martin riding a bicycle. He has brown hair. Does that spell trouble? Sometimes Steve Martin has brown hair in movies. I can't nail down what it portends, exactly, unlike Dr. Theresa and her observation about Burt Reynolds's vanishing moustache. But I can say that I prefer prematurely white-haired Steve Martin. So as Steve Martin was bicycling around, I said, "I am NOT going to 'live-blog' this." The cast list is crazy, as befitting a movie called MIXED NUTS. But I only really got electrified when I saw Jon Stewart's name pop up. "Weird! I AM going to 'live-blog' this!" I briefly lied to myself. But then I got bored again. A pregnant Juliette Lewis chases a guy dressed like Santa into the street. He tumbles into a couple of roller skaters who are carrying a Christmas tree between them. Whilst succumbing to a deadly lethargy I recognized one of the skaters as Parker Posey. Then Garry Shandling showed up in his second unbilled role as a sleazeball in a movie I thought about "live-blogging"! "It's an omen!" I shouted into the abyss of my being. "I guess I better 'live-blog' this after all... no, I'm going to bed."

Monday, December 14, 2015

Literary Matters

Welcome once again to "Literary Matters." Oh, they're fine. 1. Norman Mailer's narrator is still in Uruguay! He was just "overcome at the solemnity of a cigarette lighter brought to a tip of tobacco." He compares it to a religious gesticulation. I'm not exactly sorry I finished writing my cigarette lighter book a while back and so can't include that line, but I do know just where it would have been squeezed in, so I am going to put it on my very slowly growing list of things I'm sorry it was too late to put in my cigarette lighter book. 2. I noticed the adverb "meltingly" in the New York Times today. I thought, that's a funny old adverb. And it seems to me that I see it in the New York Times all the time. So I searched their archives. (See also.) They've used it under 800 times since 1851, I guess, so that's not a whole lot. I was wrong. In decades past, the New York Times liked to call things "meltingly feminine" - mostly clothes, but also typewriters. "Like the new cars, typewriters are now two-toned. The new Royal FP's have gone meltingly feminine - in a silver gray combined with colors like pink, blue, green and a creamy beige." 3. Lee Durkee has alerted me to the existence of a book called THE MESSENGERS: OWLS, SYNCHRONICITY AND THE UFO ABDUCTEE. Although I have never read it and I suppose I never will, I feel pretty safe in putting THE MESSENGERS: OWLS, SYNCHRONICITY AND THE UFO ABDUCTEE on my big, long list of books with owls in them.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lucky Pork

I learn from a sentence tossed offhandedly into a New York Times article today that Lucky Charms brand breakfast cereal has pork in it. ("Her children loved Lucky Charms cereal until Ms. Macksoud learned that its marshmallows contained gelatin made partly from pork.")

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Why, Joey?

I continue to watch these FRIENDS reruns late at night. Why? I'm a mystery even to myself, so deep, so unfathomable. One thing I have noticed often enough to call it a trend is how rude the character Joey is to waiters. He's been rude to waiters in three or four episodes I've seen lately. What's Joey got to be so high and mighty about?

Monday, December 07, 2015

I Guess We'll Never Know

This is the second Norman Mailer book I've read with Bob Hope in it. Is Norman Mailer the novelist who mentions Bob Hope most often? I guess we'll never know.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

These Potato Chips Aren't Hot

Late last night when I couldn't sleep I had to leave the room for a moment so I paused the TV. Paused the TV! Such a thing was unthinkable not so very long ago, as I have often remarked to an empty room. I paused the TV because I wanted to find out who killed Jay Mohr on a rerun of LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT. It struck me that there was something immoral about my action! Amoral? Problematic. Decadent. And not because I vaguely recalled (accurately) who killed Jay Mohr from the first time I saw it. No, because I couldn't figure out whether my ability to pause the TV was giving me a "choice" or removing one. So during the after-hours LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT reruns there were commercials for things called Xeljanz and Rummikub. The former is a drug and the latter is a boardgame. I realized that "Rummikub" sounded funny only because I hadn't heard it before. That's on me, not on the blameless pastime of Rummikub! But Xeljanz sounded terrible because a focus group probably came up with it. Like, "Raise your hand if you think a medicine that starts with x and ends with z sounds 'real' enough to purchase." I thought about which letter in Xeljanz was the worst, and I decided on 'n.' Ha ha, I like to pretend someone is reading this. The n is close enough to an m that one thinks of Xeljamz, which sounds like a compilation CD of ungodly music, maybe. [It would be corporate slang for "excellent jams"! - ed.] There was also a commercial for a boardgame called Googly Eyes, which nicely ties together Rummikub and Xeljanz, because Googly Eyes requires its players to don vision-distorting eyewear. Now I ask you! Does that sound healthy or safe? Oh, I'm sure it's fine. I recalled that Dr. Theresa had opened a bag of sriracha-flavored "Kettle Brand Potato Chips." I had inquired, earlier in the evening, how they were and Dr. Theresa said, "The bag says 'HOT!' but they're not hot." And she was right. I tasted one and it reminded me of ketchup-flavored potato chips from days gone by. "Ha ha, what dunces we were in the 1970s, eating ketchup-flavored potato chips," I reckoned. And that reminded me of something called "Andy Capp's Hot Fries," which were not hot, and not fries - were, in fact, tough little girders composed of, perhaps, densely compacted corn dust or corn waste - and which had as their mascot the unpleasant Sunday comics character Andy Capp, now long forgotten. So I thought I'd scoot to the "internet" to discover the inevitable nostalgic "chat rooms" dedicated to such grisly and obsolete products. And that is how I found out that both of these things - Lay's Ketchup Flavored Potato Chips and Andy Capp's Hot Fries - are still in production to this very day. (See also.) Thank you for attending to this blistering jeremiad on the subject of contemporary society. I trust your eyebrows were in no way singed by the force of the dynamic fury I unleashed. (Full disclosure: I suddenly recall that as a lad, upon discovering the ketchup-flavored potato chips, I marveled openly at the brilliance of the inventor. And we do love ketchup on our french-fried potatoes, do we not?)

Sherman Oatmeal, This Good Fellow

Have arrived at the supposedly unreadable "Uruguay section" of this Norman Mailer CIA novel. I am reading it because to do otherwise hardly seems sporting AND you know how every book has an owl in it, right? That's my theory. So I was thinking, "I can't skip the Uruguay section. It might be the section with an owl in it!" And I swear to you, just as I was thinking such a thing, I came to this, early in the Uruguay section of this Norman Mailer CIA novel: "Sherman Oatmeal, my private name for this good fellow, is another owl-eyed Ph.D. from Oklahoma." So not only does it have an owl in it, it has oatmeal in it.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

The Ten Greatest Moments of 2015

10. This cat staring at this statue head. 9. The pitcher that didn't get fixed. 8. I forced a guy to make his first chicken Alfredo pizza. 7. Lawrence Welk's sexy daughter-in-law. 6. Burt Reynolds tattoo. 5. Mice sleeping under the snow. 4. Elaine Stritch in a western. 3. The dog that could hop on its hind legs with rhythmic precision. 2. Just now, while typing up this list, I dropped an olive pit on the floor and had to crawl around on my hands and knees to find it. 1. And now I just dropped a piece of cantaloupe and caught it between my knees before it hit the floor!

Friday, December 04, 2015

Normal Levels

Well, I was happy to read in the New York Times today that there is a five-and-a-half-hour filmed opera about the life of Norman Mailer and also this five-and-a-half-hour filmed opera is about poop. I'll never see it because where would I ever see that? It's not coming to the movie theater up the road anytime soon. And also it sounds gross, I don't want to see that. Or do I? Probably not. But I'm happy it's there. You know Norman Mailer was very concerned with pooping. There are some... digestive concerns in this Norman Mailer CIA novel, but nowhere near the normal level of poop in a Norman Mailer novel. Of course, I'm only on page 378. That's just a third of the way through! Okay, goodbye, I love you, I'm sorry I said poop so much.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Watching My Friends Eat My Friends

So I was emailing back and forth with Megan Abbott the other day about that smirky little New York Times review of Miley Cyrus and somehow the silent-movie child actor Baby Peggy came up... well, not somehow... obviously there's a connection between child stars... and we were talking about how they get renamed and stuck with identities they didn't ask for... and that brought up Gig Young, who was not a child star, but named by the studio (if I am recalling correctly) after a role he played in a movie, which is weird. And he came to a terrible end, as you probably know, and I was saying to Megan that I didn't want to "click" on things about tragic child stars or tragic stars in general, which she took as an expression of fear of Baby Peggy specifically, as I did not express myself very clearly... though see this terrifying frame of a terrifying gif Megan sent me of Baby Peggy. (Baby Peggy is still here with us on this mortal plane, by the way - that's my fancy way of saying she's alive! - and not a terrifying sort of person. Nothing terribly tragic there. Well, she was treated terribly as a kid, I think, like most child stars, worked like a mule and plundered for her fortune, but she devoted herself later on to... ah... I'm too tired to talk about Baby Peggy. Look her up yourself.) So Megan and I were emailing about Baby Peggy again today (!) and I was trying to remember why Megan thought I had a deep-seated fear of Baby Peggy, so I searched my email archives and discovered that Megan FIRST emailed me about Baby Peggy EXACTLY THREE YEARS AGO TODAY. This is the kind of coincidence McNeil loves. Oh, so during the whole Miley Cyrus back-and-forth, my twitter friend Jen Vafidis alerted me to the actual song about Miley's deceased fish, which the New York Times reviewer so dismissively mentioned. Was that part of the review dismissive? Ah, I'm too tired to check. But yes. So I watched the video of Miley Cyrus in a unicorn costume singing about her dead fish and it was just great. I know I'm late to this video of Miley Cyrus in a unicorn costume singing about her dead fish. But I'd still like to endorse it. I would say if you don't like it you can probably just go to hell. I emailed it to Megan and she emailed back with praise for the lyric "watching my friends eat my friends," which is just what I was about to email to HER! Another coincidence. It's a good line, right? Like James M. Cain. I think if Jonathan Richman had written this very song, everybody would be all, "Wow, cool." Well, maybe everybody IS all, "Wow, cool." I don't know what goes on. I may even be overestimating the universal love that I imagine Jonathan Richman (rightly) receiving. Maybe I should talk about some Jonathan Richman song and say that if Miley Cyrus wrote it, everybody would be like, "Wow, cool." Maybe I live in backwards land with all the other old men. Megan also made a shrewd point about why Miley Cyrus is able to identify so intensely with a fish that has to live its life in a tank.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Joe Namath, Sandwich Thief

Just got a phone message from McNeil. I couldn't understand it. It was distorted. Or he was. But he sounded like Bob Dylan. Freestyling! I think he was rhyming. Or that's what it sounded like. I have no idea. But that reminded me that he sent me this footage of Joe Namath constructing and devouring a sandwich without paying for it. I know it's part of a movie but I don't care what movie and in fact I don't care at all about anything. I believe it stands up as its own work of art. "Click" here.

Really Tight Relationship

Hey! You know how I am keeping a list of things about cigarette lighters that I find out too late to put into my cigarette lighter book! Here's a parenthetical statement from an article in today's New York Times: "Ms. Cyrus reclined at the lip of the stage while a woman dressed like a giant cigarette lighter frolicked behind her." That surely would have gone in the book! But now it can't. The article also recounts a speech Miley Cyrus made from the stage about her "really tight relationship" with her pet blowfish, and sometimes I think the reporter wants us to laugh at Miley Cyrus but I don't feel like it.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Why Music Boxes Are Creepy

A strangely frequent reason that people visit this "blog" is to search for an answer to that (apparently) eternal question "Why Are Music Boxes Creepy?" I feel bad - guilt-ridden, truthfully - because that old "post" to which they are so often directed (you'd be surprised how many times a day people want to know why music boxes are creepy) is misleading. Some kid had written in to me with the idea that "Maybe music boxes are creepy because they are a purposeless vestige of Europe's aristo-centric period." And I quoted him in that "post" much too approvingly. Of course that's NOT why music boxes are creepy. Nor is this kid's highfalutin statement true in almost any way. Music boxes, for example, aren't any more "purposeless" than anything else. I gave that kid too much of a pass! I was trying to be nice. But now, all these years later, sad people who want to know why music boxes are creepy look to me for answers (several times a day, bewilderingly) and get nothing! And that kid is six years older now, so I suppose he can handle the truth that his big theories are full of beans. People aren't watching a movie about a dark house where a music box starts to play in the dead of night and the hair rises on their arms because they are suddenly reminded of "Europe's aristo-centric period"! Sorry to be so harsh! But you, theorizing kid, are probably at least 28, I'm going to guess, whoever you were, a full-grown adult by now who can accept the facts! I suppose music boxes are creepy because they are light and tinkly, for one thing. Scary noises in literature often start out soft... the rats scratching in Lovecraft, the beating of the telltale heart in Poe ("such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton")... soft music is scary at night... whistling, like in M or THE STEPFATHER... some awful killer is always humming softy to himself as he sharpens his instruments... also, music boxes are meant to be activated by the human hand (might be thought of, in fact, as an "alarm" of sorts... did people place diamonds and gold in them for this reason? Someone else may feel free to research the matter), so if you suddenly hear one in the middle of the night, when everyone is supposed to be asleep, something is wrong... like the record player and the wind-up toys and such in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND... music is a human endeavor, and maybe the mechanism IS an unwelcome (creepy?) reminder that our works can go on without us. And of course the kid from the old "post" WAS sort of onto something... in that a music box is a form of entertainment that a ghost might find comforting. Like, "I remember these!" Yes, just the sort of sentimental object to which a poor dead ghost might be attracted... a private, lonely entertainment even in life... so personal, maybe you shouldn't be overhearing it... a box to receive a particular soul... like a coffin... and yes, it IS a voice from the past, with a limited vocabulary. It can play only one thing... over and over... like a ghost... like the obsessive thoughts of a madman... like me... like that dude in MOBY-DICK... and slowing down, little by little... I was having drinks with Lee Durkee and he mentioned how music boxes are always slowing down... Sometimes they wind down unresolved, like life. There's nothing tenser in music than the "suspended fourth"... that's where the power of the music box's creepy cousin the jack-in-the-box comes in... the relationship between suspended chords and suspense. Bach could really leave you hanging, except he always had the luxury of resolving, except when played on a music box, I guess. Lee Durkee also contended that musical selections have something to do with it. "Music boxes don't play 'Turkey in the Straw,'" he said, emphasizing the jauntiness of that hoedown. I'll have to think about that. Is it true? And in any case I suspect "Turkey in the Straw" could be creepy enough on the right music box... Is the similarly bouncy "Pop Goes the Weasel" creepy just because we've heard it on so many dilapidated jack-in-the-boxes? Or is it the disturbing foreknowledge that the weasel is bound to "pop"?... Melodies are messages... pianos play by themselves in movies... half-forgotten snatches... they're trying to tell you something... they can't quite tell it to you straight... what's creepier than an oracle? And when you open a music box, a little ballerina figurine or such often begins to twirl stiffly... we think at once of what Freud said about dolls in his essay on "The Uncanny," but I think that book is in Dr. Theresa's office at the other end of the house and I don't feel like getting up. In conclusion, I apologize to all the people who have read that lazy and erroneous previous "blog" "post" lo these many years. My intellectual cowardice is beyond appalling! Another possible answer is: music boxes aren't creepy. (Illustration: Vera Farmiga looking at a creepy music box in a scary ghost movie we went to see with Chris Offutt. I saw Vera Farmiga checking into my hotel last time I was in Burbank! Sorry I forgot to tell you. I pestered her with fawning and she was real nice about it. She was wearing a stylish hat!) PS One Kris Simmons, whom I know via twitter, has chimed in to say, ha ha! - wait, is that even a pun? Do music boxes "chime"? - "I think it's because they sound out of tune." And she's onto something I hadn't considered! What could be more ghostly than these rusty gears and teeth and coils and knobby spools... still striving, but bent and warped by senescence? I ask you! Remember Edmund Spenser's ghosts with iron teeth... An out-of-tune music box is an echo, touchingly faded and changed... like a ghost... or a reflection... am I too suggestible? But this picture of Ms. Farmiga hints at a mirror in the lid... wasn't that common in music boxes? And aren't mirrors doorways into other worlds...? We just did a whole ADVENTURE TIME episode about that! Do I need to get all GOLDEN BOUGH on you...? So music boxes have little versions of ourselves inside... or else who's looking at what in that little mirror when the music box is playing by itself...? Okay! I'll keep adding more reasons music boxes are creepy. Send your suggestions to CREEPY MUSIC BOX c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655. If you don't think music boxes are creepy be sure to include NOT CREEPY MUSIC BOX on your postcard.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Good Job

Watched LA NOTTE. My favorite part was the way this cat stared at this statue head.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Unemployment

Here's a movie no one has thought of in many years: JACKNIFE (that's how they spell it - I've checked repeatedly, in denial and disbelief). I've never seen it. I have no idea what it's about. But it rushed into my mind. And I'll tell you why. You know what came on last night? THE DEER HUNTER. And there was Robert De Niro in a baseball cap. Okay. So. In the 1980s I was "laid off" (fired) from my job at an advertising agency, and my friend Tony and I decided to drive across the country once I had accumulated enough unemployment checks. I remember a few things about it. Washing the car in a scary, desolate, crudely slapped together facility in Gallup, New Mexico. Slipping and sliding on the concrete because it was freezing cold and the water turned to ice almost as soon as it left the hose. When we got to Los Angeles we went to a live taping of the sitcom DESIGNING WOMEN. Afterward, I asked Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (a creator of the show) if I could have a job and she said no. But I didn't care. Because I was on unemployment, I had to write down a certain number of people on my card each week, people I had asked for a job. That's how you got money in the old days! You wrote things down on a piece of cardboard with a pencil. As I recall, it had to be in pencil. All of this is likely wrong. So I wrote "Linda Bloodworth-Thomason" on my card. Mission accomplished! The suckers at the unemployment office bought it! What am I saying? It was legit. And Linda Bloodworth-Thomason was nice and patient and gave me a lot of writing advice... more than I wanted, really. I remember this: Tony and I drove up a mountain. These were the days when there were only paper maps. And I screwed up. I neglected to tell Tony to turn, so we drove all the way up a mountain. On a treacherous road. Nobody was going up the mountain. It got dark. There was occasionally some daredevil speeding DOWN the mountain (barely enough room for two cars) and giving us a nice heart attack. At some point we were like, "Uh... does it look like we're going up? It's really dark now. Should we be going up? We're going UP." We were running out of gas. Tony was mad at me. Understandably. Once we found a place to turn around (a nightmarishly difficult process) we started back down the mountain, hoping not to run out of gas, but thinking - praying - maybe we could coast if it came to that. We went around a curve and saw an elk in the road. We stopped the car and stared at the majestic elk. So it was kind of worth it. The radio static turned, at last, into a feed from a local TV station. Which seemed unusual. But THE GOLDEN GIRLS was on, which took us some time to fathom, because it should not have been on the radio and also we were in a general state of shock. I guess I have never been so happy as when that shining vestige of civilization THE GOLDEN GIRLS manifested itself. We were laughing in hysterical relief at the stale jokes of THE GOLDEN GIRLS. We made it to a cheap Chinese restaurant in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and I suppose no food has ever tasted so good. Just moments earlier we thought we were going to die on a mountaintop! But where was I? In Los Angeles, we went on a tour. As we bounced along on the Universal Studios tram I saw some dude with long, greasy hair in a baseball cap walking through the lot with a sense of purpose and wondered whether he might be an actor. Back in Mobile, I went to the movies and saw the preview for JACKNIFE and thought, "Hey! That's the same dude I saw in Los Angeles." Obviously, it wasn't. There are countless holes in that theory. "Look at that baseball cap and that greasy hair!" I exulted, however, as I enjoyed the no-doubt suspenseful preview for JACKNIFE, which I no longer recall. I do recall that on our trip Tony and I stopped at a restaurant in Beaumont, Texas, where everyone was cold and silent as the grave. That was the quietest restaurant I've ever been in, filled with the stoniest, least communicative families of Texas. Upon our return I went back to the ad agency that had fired me (I can't remember why - to pick up one last check?) and they had a new receptionist who was so cute I asked her on a date. And she turned out to be from Beaumont, Texas! Yeah, that went nowhere. Even though I was able to say, "I've just been to Beaumont, Texas!" As I recall, I drove her around the city of Mobile and environs with no destination in mind. I seemed to think that's what a "date" was. I want to say we ended up in a bleak, rusted-out industrial area. I was probably lost. And certainly broke. I wonder why she never took my calls after that. I was probably like, "I don't have any money but I can show you the world!" As I recall, Tony and I walked all the way down into Walnut Canyon (Arizona?) and for the first time in my life I realized how much harder it was to walk up out of a canyon than to walk down into a canyon. That hadn't occurred to me somehow. I was sheltered as a lad. Boy, it hurts walking up and out of a canyon.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Clean Shoe

What do you eat on the night before Thanksgiving? It's a perplexing conundrum! Or maybe not. Because I have certainly eaten on all the nights before all the Thanksgivings of my life and it has never seemed like a big deal, no, I have never thought about it even once. But for some reason it seemed like a hard decision last night. Dr. Theresa and I were driving around on unrelated errands. We thought about Snackbar, but neither of us felt quite spiffy enough. Dr. Theresa had, in fact, left the house in her slippers. I was supposed to dash in places and get things done while she kept the car running. Like a gangster! That was the first plan. See how complicated eating is? I told you! Across the street from Snackbar is Handy Andy's. A lunch joint, or so I have always thought, and no more! I don't suppose anyone would take it amiss if I said, with affection, "a greasy spoon." Dr. Theresa insisted that Handy Andy's stayed open at night, to my initial disbelief. Especially not on the night before Thanksgiving! Not Handy Andy's! So continued my scoffing. Ha ha, this is a long story, I love it. "How do you know?" "I've heard people say it." The conversation went on and on. And there they were: cars parked right there in front of Handy Andy's. So Dr. Theresa kept the engine running and I went in and got two double cheeseburgers in a sack to go. That's the right thing to eat the night before Thanksgiving. Also, it's technically "Handy Andy," not "Handy Andy's." But I can't stop myself. I chased my double cheeseburger with a fine old port that tasted like a clean shoe studded with cloves.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Heartbroken Mope

I thought I'd un-live-tweet another movie, a Matthew Broderick movie from 1993 - by coincidence, the same year as STRIKING DISTANCE, the last movie I didn't live tweet. It's called THE NIGHT WE NEVER MET and I don't know why I picked it. Certainly not out of disrespect for Mr. Broderick, who plays the Dream Warrior (pictured) on ADVENTURE TIME. Oh, wait, I know why I picked it. I liked this capsule description provided by the satellite company: "An unlikable yuppie shares a Greenwich Village apartment with a frustrated housewife and a heartbroken mope." All right! Who could ask for more? Let's get to ersatz live-tweeting in the new-fashioned way that won't wreck your precious timeline: A guy turns off his alarm clock and puts on some... sandals? There's a glare on the TV screen, so I can't be certain about the footwear. Dirty pots filled with old beans. Matthew Broderick has a beard and mismatched curtains. Matthew Broderick talks out loud to himself, movie style! Bearded Matthew Broderick hits the town on his vespa. He saw a cute nurse and that made him happy! Annabella Sciorra, I do believe. Matthew Broderick is looking for a new apartment. Annabella Sciorra came out of the apartment building so I bet he takes the apartment. EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND's mom is peeking with a surly mien through a crack in the door. Annabella Sciorra and Christine Baranski smoke cigarettes inside a restaurant at the height of the lunchtime rush. Those were the days! Annabella Sciorra confesses her desire to take an "art class." Hey! Is that Louise Lasser? Maybe. They're setting up some weird plot, where people are moving into this apartment for two days a week...? Does that seem practical? A bunch of "yuppies" with neckties and no jackets acting all WOLF OF WALL STREET, standing on desks and making speeches and howling and pumping their fists for reasons I can't understand... EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND's mom puts on hand lotion. The plot gets explained more. I don't understand it. Jeanne Tripplehorn! I always thought that was a cool last name. Matthew Broderick goes to see Tripplehorn (his ex?) in an "experimental play" - a form always treated with sneering contempt in movies. Take that, Samuel Beckett! I missed something. I think she was making out with a plastic snowman? Tripplehorn has a fake French accent. I mean, she's supposed to be French in the movie, though. Well, she took off her sweater in front of Matthew Broderick and that made him feel sad. Now she's singing "Alouette" in the shower! Are you kidding me? "Alouette"! She wants Matthew Broderick to put out her cigarette for her. Is it so hard to put out your cigarette in the shower? I guess it was supposed to emphasize some "character trait." Just throw it in the toilet, French Jeanne Tripplehorn! Oh boy, I didn't see this coming: some kind of unconvincing 50 SHADES OF GREY monkey business with the "yuppie" character. Wait! Was that a dream? Another alarm clock going off. It was all a dream! Back when I was teaching, we used to strongly discourage the use of alarm clocks in short stories. I guess they don't tell you that in screenwriting class. This is the second alarm clock going off in this movie. Is that Justine Bateman? It seems that Justine Bateman and the "yuppie" want very different things out of life. Annabella Sciorra is a dentist, not a nurse. Her patient is Garry Shandling! He seems sleazy. In this movie, I mean. No, Annabella Sciorra is a dental assistant but she wants to be an artist. She has a husband and tropical fish. The husband wants to move to the suburbs. Montage of people eating lunch meat? Hey, it's that guy who always plays a jerk in movies. For some reason, he's pretending to be Louise Lasser on the phone. MB works at Dean and Deluca and hates French cheese! Because of his problems with French person Jeanne Tripplehorn. It's causing work problems! What! Here's what's-her-name from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS! She and MB are on a blind date. "Is that veal?" she says. How could she know? MB is just carrying a serving dish with the lid on it. Does she have X-ray vision? Because it IS veal! She's incensed. A weird thing to cook on a first date, though. Okay! So MB and Annabella Sciorra are sharing this apartment but they never see each other. And yet methinks she's falling in love with his remnants! The "yuppies" are also sharing the apartment. They play loud music and jump around and scream like jerks. EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND's mom is married (?) to Johnny Ola from GODFATHER II! He also peeks out of crevices and makes faces. They are like a Greek chorus. Except they NEVER TALK. So they're not like a Greek chorus. Annabella Sciorra continues to be entranced by the still-unseen (by her) Matthew Broderick. He's leaving notes for her everywhere. It's actually sort of controlling and creepy, despite this mellow "blue-eyed soul" number underscoring the developments, if you want to call them that. One of the "yuppies" pees with the door open. They make pig noises and smoke cigars. Now they're screaming out of the windows and burning pizza in the oven. The guy who always plays jerks in movies lights his cigar with the burning pizza box to show what a horrible weirdo he is. Wait! Have I explained the plot? So the "yuppies" use this place a couple days a week to chillax. MB brings dates there? I guess? Annabella Sciorra uses it to explore her artistic impulses. It's a getaway from the world! All right. Okay, there was a zany mixup I barely feel like getting into, though it may become necessary later. Johnny Ola finally said something but EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND's mom just gravely shook her silent grim head. Annabella Sciorra's husband is shown to be a philistine. The alarm on his watch goes off! Man, this screenwriter loves alarms. Dang! MB's alarm clock goes off! Fourth alarm clock! Jeanne Tripplehorn took a shower with a cowboy and a dog? She loves taking showers. I think the cowboy is feeding her a Pop Tart. MB: "I want you to do what you say you want to do, not what you do do." JT: "No, I do do what I say I do." Ha ha, oh boy. Doo doo. Maybe I should stop here. Is that Dr. John crooning a stirring ballad while the "yuppie" admires his own butt in a mirror? Poor Dr. John! Johnny Ola mugs for the camera some more through the crack of a doorway. I can't believe that Annabella Sciorra is about to do it with the "yuppie," mistaking him for MB for reasons I can't get into here because I don't really understand them. Time to feed the cats, I'm going to miss some of this movie. I hope you're not too disappointed. I came back. Johnny Ola is peeking through a doorway again. Annabella Sciorra's fingernails are painted white and the "yuppie" is climbing all over her. She's not going to put up with his boorish manner for long! Well! I was wrong! They did it. I know because his shirt is unbuttoned all the way and he says, "Man... you came to play." Gross! Johnny Ola eavesdrops on their intimacy through his doorway and checks his watch and rolls his eyes and mugs for the camera like his life depended on it. Reckonings commence. Why the hell is MB so happy all of a sudden? He's walking down the crowded NYC streets tossing an orange in the air as Motown plays. Did I miss something? He has no reason to be happy that I can recall. EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND's mom smokes and glares out of a window. I hope they paid her a lot. MB goes on a date with a character so stupid she thinks he has cooked pasta with dog in it. "Dog?" she says. "Ruff ruff ruff?" Wait! She's on the TV show NASHVILLE! She plays Deacon's doomed sister. EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND's mom speaks! She and Johnny Ola are really spewing out the dialogue. They've been holding it in so long! You can't shut them up. Dr. Theresa says soup is ready. I may miss something. Wait! Is MB going to end up with Justine Bateman? That's coming out of left field! I did not see that coming at all. Kudos... but to whom? Now Johnny Ola has finally brought a chair or stool to put by his door so when he peeps out of it and makes faces he can sit down. Wait! Is the "yuppie" the "nice guy" from SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY? Weird. He went to his "yuppie" workplace and all his coworkers ritualistically cut their neckties in half at the same time, and made pig noises...? I don't know what's going on. This soup is good, though. Hey! Christopher from THE SOPRANOS! One line. Funny shirt. And I could swear Lewis Black walks by in the background: no lines, funny shirt. Well, I could swear this movie was about to end, but things keep happening. I guess you could call it. MB just threw a drink on Jeanne Tripplehorn. Not very gentlemanly! And her character's name is "Pastel," seemingly. Ha ha, Pastel! MB goes back to talking out loud to himself, which he hasn't done since the first scene, so maybe it's a circular thing and we're finally wrapping up. They made the husband suddenly 100,000 times more awful than ever before to justify it when Annabella Sciorra inevitably leaves him for Matthew Broderick. My Justine Bateman speculation was way off base. That would have been a neat twist! MB and Annabella Sciorra meet again. They still don't know each other. Is this movie going to last forever? The "yuppie" comes in and takes off his pants in front of Matthew Broderick, a total stranger, you know, how people do. Annabella Sciorra: "I didn't mean to sleep with him, I meant to sleep with you!" Did the guy from SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY just tweak Matthew Broderick's nipple? Dr. John is singing again.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Lawrence Welk Sex Bomb

Lawrence Welk came on tonight. Myron Floren came out and played his accordion. "It's like he did a speedball backstage," said Dr. Theresa. Myron Floren did really go to town on "Lady of Spain." He played with a jittery electricity that seemed barely contained. I thought he was going to explode. "Machine-gunning it," was a phrase that came to mind. His lid is on real tight, though. I imagined him walking out of camera range at the conclusion and dashing his accordion into a thousand pieces. "That's how it's done!" he might snarl in an ecstatic rage. Then this woman came out and did a café number. "Who's this sex bomb!" I shouted. (She was Lawrence Welk's daughter-in-law.) She, like Myron Floren, had an energy that could be repressed only with some difficulty. "She's tickling all the men under their chins!" I yelled. I couldn't believe it! Throughout my viewing experience, and unrelated to the incidents previously outlined, I thought about how performing on the The Lawrence Welk Show must have been the spiritual equivalent of serving in the Sun Ra Arkestra. My reasoning seemed sound at the time, I assure you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

It Was Seo

For those of you who were concerned, it was Seo Kim who thought up that snake I liked so much on ADVENTURE TIME.

I Am Plastic Man

I guess I forgot to tell you about when I tripped and fell on the sidewalk in front of our house some months ago. I was carrying two Sonic hot dogs at the time, but that's another story. Anyway, I went to the doctor about this bump on my arm and he said it was nothing, that I had just "rearranged" some of my "soft tissue." "Like Plastic Man!" I shouted excitedly. The doctor was like, whatever.

You're Missing Out

I know none of you watches an actual "television" anymore. You watch your "television" programming on devices that are not "televisions." And I salute you! But here's what you're missing. I watch the TV show FARGO on television, and they have this announcer that comes on beforehand and says, "FARGO is intended for mature audiences. Viewer discretion is advised." But he says it in this real quiet, measured, threatening way, all grim and sinister and knowing, like he's better than us. And then, when we cut away from FARGO, he says things like, "FARGO is brought to you by Burger King's new buffalo chicken fries." But he says it in the same darkly insinuating, quietly mocking, evil tone of calculated murder. "FARGO is brought to you by Burger King's new buffalo chicken fries." He says it like that.

Hypno Eyes

Well, we're smack in the middle of our 8-part Marceline arc on ADVENTURE TIME. I hope you're enjoying it! I am. I mean, it's really good! Layered. We layered it up for you. The second half commences tonight, featuring a star turn from Paul Williams. Last night we saw episodes three and four. I was there while the actors were recording episode three. Olivia Olson, who plays Marceline, was getting a cold! PLUS she had a singing audition the next day. But the part required her (as you may have seen) to give a blood-curdling scream when the Vampire King bites her neck. And she had to shout and growl and such, on top of doing the scream over and over at the top of her lungs. Not good for the human voice! But she did it. She committed! She didn't hold back. I just made the same statement three times in a row; that's called "style." Part four had this character "The Empress." (Paul Williams plays "The Hierophant" - all the vampires are named after tarot cards. Which reminds me: I have a friend who works on iZombie, and on that show last night, the main character made a little speech about the tarot card "The Empress." RIGHT AFTER THE EMPRESS APPEARED ON ADVENTURE TIME. Coincidence? Yes, entirely. Rebecca Romijn plays our Empress, which, as I've mentioned repeatedly in various formats, including life itself, means that we've got a real Brian De Palma thing going on, what with Paul Williams in there too.) I like The Empress! She has this snake that lives coiled around her neck and sometimes it slithers up, over her head, and pulls up her turban with its fangs, revealing her hypno eyes, and that's how she gets you. So watch out! Here we see her as sketched by Seo, who co-boarded and co-wrote part four with Somvilay. In the ADVENTURE TIME meeting today I'm going to ask who came up with that snake. Great snake.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bookmarkin'! with Jack Pendarvis

Welcome once again to "Bookmarkin'! with Jack Pendarvis," helping YOU match the right bookmark with the right book for more than eight years. But that all ends today. So! Kent Osborne recommended that Stephen King novel and I ripped right through it in two days, though it was a big, fat novel. Nine hundred pages, maybe? And just big in every dimension. Large and bulky. So! Remember when I went to that auction of Bob Hope's personal effects? Well, that auction house keeps sending me stuff in the mail. Like, they sent me a little portfolio of promotional cards, much bigger than postcards, notifying me about their upcoming auctions. I was going to measure one for you. I was rooting around in the kitchen drawer where I thought the tape measure might be. "Where's the tape measure?" I said. To which Dr. Theresa replied, "It's probably in there somewhere." And it probably is. But I never found it. So I can't tell you the exact size of this giant card I used as a bookmark in this giant Stephen King book. But I can tell you this! This promotional card had a picture of the Beatles on it. And at some point in the book, Stephen King's narrator goes by the pseudonym "John Lennon." So that was a coincidence! And there are a lot coincidences in this Stephen King book, coincidentally! Or, as Stephen King's narrator insists on calling them, "harmonics." Huh. I even read the afterword! Stephen King talks about a Norman Mailer book on Lee Harvey Oswald that was one of his primary resources for historical research. And that reminded me that I have a giant Norman Mailer novel about the CIA around here. Chris Offutt gave it to me a long time ago (years?) because he had two copies (!). I seem to recall [somewhat inaccurately - ed.] that the book was roundly mocked when it appeared, which, as you know, makes me want to read it more. I even recall that Norman Mailer's biographer says (I think) that there is a long part somewhere in the middle that is so boring no one should ever read that part, but I can't remember what that part is about [Uruguay - ed.], so I will probably end up reading it. So, I took this giant Norman Mailer CIA novel off the shelf, and it is spattered with old coffee stains, at least I hope those are coffee stains. And I opened it and recalled that I had already read two pages of it years (?) ago, and there was my stubby little Square Books bookmark of coarse paper stock ("Square Books classic" I call it... I just decided!), the kind they used before they switched over to the long, glossy bookmarks. Now I have reread those two pages, and five more pages besides, and there have already been two ghosts, and why am I surprised? "Ghost" is in the title. One wonderful advantage of taking this fat Norman Mailer novel off the shelf is that I now have a place to put the fat Stephen King novel. So they are roughly the same size. Yet I used a huge bookmark in one of them and a tiny bookmark in the other. What a revelation! About my own divided soul. Also: any kind of bookmark works just fine. This discovery means there is no use for "Bookmarkin'! with Jack Pendarvis." This has been the final "Bookmarkin'! with Jack Pendarvis." PS Just read one more page, on which were some sentences about "the ice monarch," a fanciful creature of the narrator's imagination, as in, "The ice monarch had installed his agents in my heart." Did Norman Mailer invent the Ice King? Just 1,118 pages to go before the "Author's Note"!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Cultural Studies

Welcome once more to "Cultural Studies" - gee, it's been two years since we studied any. Culture. Well! Ashly Burch has been bringing up PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET in ADVENTURE TIME meetings for some time now, for mysterious reasons that need not concern you here! But we've talked about that movie a lot, and some of us have watched it again, and it made me want to see NIGHT AND THE CITY again, which features Richard Widmark in somewhat the same mode. With important differences! That you don't care about. But anyway, I was watching NIGHT AND THE CITY last night and was particularly captivated by this shot (above): a bad man in a suit standing calmly on a bridge. It made me think ("click" here; I know you won't!) of this shot from OUT OF THE PAST. Oh! Here's a fascinating coincidence (it's not). When I was looking for a pic of Marlon Brando that reminded me of Princess Bubblegum (WHY? Well, you could find out if you'd trouble yourself to "click" on this "link" - but you won't), the woman in the photo I found turned out to be Jean Peters, who plays Candy in PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET, and whose performance Ashly admires a lot. That publicity still was from VIVA ZAPATA! (exclamation point theirs) which I believe I once rented on VHS from the Phar-Mor drugstore in Mobile, Alabama. Oh! I just got that they had a "pharmacy" and "more"... far (phar) more! In another coincidence sure to amaze you, Eve Babitz goes on and on (and on) about VIVA ZAPATA! in EVE'S HOLLYWOOD, which I just read. So! Another thing coming up a lot in ADVENTURE TIME meetings is this thing where presidential candidates are being asked (this is really happening!) whether or not they would "kill baby Hitler" if given the chance. Kent Osborne asked, "Haven't any of them read 11/22/63 by Stephen King?" And I was like, "Don't tell me what happens!" And I was like, "It looks long, is it any good?" And Kent said it was long but good and he said it's so long because the guy travels to 1955 and has to wait - what is that? - eight years before trying to stop the Kennedy assassination and I was like, "Stop telling me!" So I went up to Square Books and bought 11/22/63 and I guess I'll read it sometime. Goodbye for now from "Cultural Studies."