Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Meanwhile, I made it to Book 4 of THE DECAMERON, which Boccaccio starts by addressing everyone who has been complaining about the first three parts because the author, in their opinion, 1) writes for women 2) is too old 3) doesn't know what he's talking about 4) has squandered his early promise 5) isn't serious 6) makes stuff up. They didn't need the "internet" to get the word out! All they needed was their rancorous fear of other people's enjoyment, a powerful fuel still in use today. Don't feed the trolls, Boccaccio!
If you have read any William Gay at all, it will not surprise you that the protagonist of this book I am reading hears "the lonesome call of an owl," plus it is a ghost story and every ghost story has an owl in it and also in general every book of every kind has an owl in it.
Monday, September 28, 2015
So Dr. Theresa and her coworker Kevin and her whole department (which is, like, one other person) and all their partners and helpers and students and affiliates did an amazing thing pulling off this 10-day musical event, culminating in last night's joyous Neko Case show. The "green room" was the balcony of the Lyric Theater, and I crept up there and stole a plate of Neko Case's food. So I was leaning on the balcony railing watching the show and two grains of rice fell off the plate! And they hit some guy on the head. And he looked up, right at me! And I just slowly stepped backward and disappeared into the shadows like the Phantom of the Opera! I did not take responsibility for my actions. But the point is that things have been busy around here and also I went out of town and my reading of THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY and THE FAERIE QUEENE has been temporarily stalled. These are nice editions I can't take out of the house! And I just haven't been in the house. But don't worry, I'm gonna get back to them eventually. I don't want you to worry! Promise me you won't worry. Because I'm also doing a presentation for the upcoming Southern Foodways Symposium and I have to get some research done for that! My topic: TV cook and "humorist" Justin Wilson. So I have to read a lot of his "humor." AND! I was sitting at Square Books looking through the new William Gay book, which is a short manuscript found in his papers after he passed away, and I read the compelling introduction by Tom Franklin and I started reading the book and I suddenly realized I had read a certain quantifiable PERCENTAGE of the book and it no longer seemed right to just sit there and read the whole book, maybe, so I bought it, so that's something else.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Kelly Hogan sang a whole new song in my dream last night. And I still remember it! There's not much to it. It just goes, "I was born to break up with you," over and over, kind of to the tune of "You Send Me" by Sam Cooke. When it becomes a big hit just remember I wrote it in my sleep. Melissa Ginsburg and I (in my dream) were in a church where Hogan was singing this song, and Melissa was like, "Go talk to Michael Kupperman! He's by himself and he's CRYING." So I went to the pew where Michael was sitting, only it wasn't him. It was a tweedy old man! With a cane! And the old man wasn't crying. In fact, he was grinning intensely and seemed eager to chat. I was like, "Melissa, that's not Michael Kupperman!" And she was like, "Well, his hat fooled me." But he WASN'T WEARING A HAT.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
the City Grocery Bar the other day, drinking and reading THE DECAMERON. And I was like, "THE DECAMERON really reminds me of Faulkner!" Maybe because I was in the middle of the town square of Oxford, Mississippi, and drinking. But also because this character was a horse-trader and he spouted off a whole page of dialogue about his feelings for this woman, and when the woman responds only with silence he spouts off another page of dialogue in what he imagines is HER voice, and that sounds like Faulkner, doesn't it? And then Jonathan Franzen walked into the bar. And I said, "Hi, I'm Jack. Jon Langford was in town this weekend and he told me to say hello if I saw you." And Jonathan Franzen said, "I know, he told me. I know about your Emmy." Ha ha! That was a funny thing to hear upon meeting Jonathan Franzen. Reader, I balked! Is that the correct word for what I did? I don't know. I was discomfited. Is that a thing? I couldn't think of what to say. I said, "Oh!" But that reminds me. When Langford was in town a bunch of us went to lunch with him and he started talking about his affection for the soap opera ALL MY CHILDREN, and especially a character named "Janet From Another Planet." And she was an evil twin, and sometimes tormented her sister's husband by pretending to be her sister. It was generally agreed around the table that a husband would be able to tell his own wife from her sister, twins or no. But I remarked that ALL MY CHILDREN was just indulging in a tradition going back at least as far as THE DECAMERON. In THE DECAMERON, men are always fooling women (or the other way round) by just putting on somebody else's cloak and creeping into a bedroom when it's dark. Finally, when I was flying back from California, the iPod played Bob Dylan doing a version of the old love-and-murder ballad "Frankie and Johnny" while I was reading THE DECAMERON, and I was like, this song is just like THE DECAMERON! (Photo by Kent Osborne. He said he was going to get a "candid shot" but he made me wash my hands a second time so he could get it... that's not candid!) So when I left City Grocery night was falling. My only job was to pick up the cat food on the back porch before a possum came along after dark and got into it. And when I got home there was already a possum eating leftovers! I shooed it away. It was a likable possum. It had been coming around a lot. Dr. Theresa saw a "juvenile possum" (her phrase) that had been struck by a car on our side street the other day, and I fear it was the same possum. And now the floodgates of memory have opened! I was trying desperately to meet Matt Weiner after the Emmys, this guy (pictured) was walking with Matt Weiner and Harry Crane and he seemed more approachable so I kind of poached him from the group and I was like, hey, remember in THIS IS THE END when your head pokes through the door and then a demon gets you? And he was like, yes. And then I reminded him of some Sonic commercials I had seen him in, and then I asked him wasn't he in CAKEY: THE CAKE FROM OUTER SPACE? which surprised him. Anyway, he was nice as I recited his own credits to him Chris Farley-style and Matt Weiner sprinted into the distance, along with all his hopes and dreams, maybe, or mine, who knows?
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Do you know what a roly-poly is? It's some kind of bug we had in Alabama. I just remembered a poem I wrote in 8th grade: "Behold the lowly roly-poly/ He is nature's hockey goalie/ Padded, protected and safe from all harm/ He rolls himself up when there's cause for alarm./ Of all the things I hold as holy/ None of them are the roly-poly." Okay! There it is for posterity. The middle is especially weak. I meant the poem, but it's probably true of the roly-poly, too. That's probably why they roll up into a ball! As you can see, I aspired to be Ogden Nash.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
my forthcoming 100-page nonfiction book about cigarette lighters (!?!) for the final time (?) and within 100 pages I use the word "eponymous" twice (I think, or did I fix that? probably not) and "witty" twice and "charming" or its adverbial form twice. Twice is a lot when you're talking about 100 pages. I even recall that I changed "lively" to "witty" that first time because there were too many "livelys." But now there are too many "wittys"! But this is the point where you're just... eh. I can live with this. So forgive me. And the way I use "witty" the first time sounds contextually condescending to Hal Needham and, indeed, the entire stuntman profession, which I didn't intend. "Lively" would have been better! I should have gone back and changed the OTHER "lively," wherever it was. Where was it? Is it still there? I can't look. And I call one thing "charmingly written" and I'm pretty sure that's not accurate the more I think about it. It's a history of optometry for the layman, ha ha! How can that be "charmingly written"? No, I've thought about it, and it probably IS charmingly written, for what it is. No it's not. Anyway, none of the words make sense anymore. On the plus side, here are some neat sculptures by the Danish artist Rose Eken. David Swider told me about them and I talk about them in the book.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Ashly Burch asks me "How was your weekend?" and it's a very pleasant and considerate query but I sit there in silence with a dumb look on my face because I can't think of anything to say because nothing happened that weekend. Well, today is gonna be different, says I! Went out to Faulkner's house to play accordion on the Thacker Mountain Radio Show. They never had a radio show there before, and hardly even a radio. Faulkner hated the radio. There's a story about that but you'll have to go to Faulkner's house and ask Bill Griffith. He runs the place! I don't know how Faulkner felt about accordions. Kelly Hogan got in trouble for sitting - with no malice aforethought - on Faulkner's freezer. Because guess what? It's not just a freezer, it's a museum exhibit! Anyway, they had made Faulkner's kitchen into a green room for musicians, which I'm sure stressed out even the chill Bill Griffith. And I was thinking, yeah, but Hogan is probably the first person to sit on the lid of that freezer since Faulkner! It's like their very butts touched through the fabric of time! Megan Abbott took of Dr. Theresa (waving her hands in the air like she just doesn't care... but she does!) and Thacker producer Kathryn McGaw York grooving out on the sight of all their crazy hard work coming to fruition. Note Lopez's fetching hat, clearly visible in two photos thus far. Saw David Swider of The End of All Music. He said I should bring my Emmy to the record store for "Touch the Emmy Day," and people will come by and touch my Emmy while I spin records under the name "DJ Emmy." It seemed like a hilarious idea while we drank whiskey in Faulkner's yard and swooned companionably in the blazing hot sun! I feel like everybody sang about ghosts. Is that an exaggeration? I'm not sure! Must have been the unconscious pull of the setting. Or maybe songwriters just happen to like ghosts. I remember once many years ago a friend of mine claimed that she didn't like any song with the word "ghost" in it, which I found stunningly arbitrary. Okay, I'm leaving a lot of stuff out. But later that night, there was another show (not on Faulkner's lawn), and I was happy to hear great musicians like Amy Ray and Laurie Stirratt literally singing Dr. Theresa's praises (well, not literally! They were speaking, not singing, at those moments) from the stage. But before that late-night show, Dr. Theresa, who was in charge, was faced with some emergencies! Like: an amp that shocked a famous session guitarist with its electricity! Or: a drum kit but NO DRUMSTICKS! Jennifer and I were sent out into the night to scour the town for drumsticks. We went to a bar called Proud Larry's, where there is usually a band playing, to see whether the drummer might have an extra pair of sticks. But as we approached the door I noticed that the band's name had been ominously rubbed from the chalkboard outside! And sure enough, the band had been canceled because everybody wanted to watch the University of Mississippi play at Alabama, a big game. BUT! A thoughtful waiter told us that one of the bartenders was a drummer. And the bartender kindly went to check his car and found a drumstick. A single drumstick! It felt like a kind of triumph. A useless triumph! But I encouraged Jennifer to hold the pointless drumstick aloft in a victorious gesture as we returned. By the time we got back they had already found two more drumsticks. So we actually had one more drumstick than was absolutely necessary! Chris Lopez played first, under his solo guise "Tenement Halls." ("Click" here to listen to my favorite Tenement Halls song: you won't be sorry!) He kept taunting us with the first few bars of "Black Ice" (a Rock*A*Teens song which I have written about in the New York Times! or their "web" site anyway) but couldn't remember the lyrics. Finally he called out from the stage, "Theresa, what's the first line?" And we yelled back at him from the back table, but we didn't quite have them right either. Turns out the first line is "In a town up north of Nashville, where the Crackers go to learn how to play..." (I think) But (though we had the second half right) I had always heard it as something like, "In a town outta nada of Naughahooga" or something like that. Anyway, it got Chris rolling! After Chris's set, Rock*A*Teens fan Bill Boyle and I discussed the lyrics of "Black Ice" and how many different, incorrect ways we had heard them over the years. One thing I enjoyed was the fluid spirit of the proceedings. It didn't seem like five or six different bands playing, but more like one larger band that kept undulating and changing its shape in a lovely way. Lopez played drums for Amy Ray and Jon Langford and Hogan... Langford played guitar for Hogan... Hogan sang harmonies for Langford and Ray... like that. I really enjoyed hearing the Amy Ray/Rock*A*Teens collaboration "Black Heart Today." I found an older, milder, more "acoustic" performance of it on the "internet," which is good, but if you "click" here you will miss Lopez's rabid drum fills, for one thing, which had grown in majestic stature as the night drew to a close. I hope somebody recorded it! And all its mystical punk rock vibrations of glory. "click" here if you'd like to hear it, false starts and all). I played on Hogan's cover of the Magnetic Fields song "Papa Was a Rodeo" (really, I just noodled along) and I got so concerned with my noodling that I didn't even notice that Amy Ray had come up to join in, and I happened to glance out of the corner of my eye to see Amy Ray and Kelly Hogan gracefully two-stepping together. the urinal he was going "OOOHHHHH! OUCH! ARRGHHHHH! AAAAAHHHWWWWWW!" like a person in the greatest human agony, which perhaps he was. Why did I mention that when there were so many nicer things to mention instead? Like breakfast the next day with Julie and Barry and Langford? John Currence surprised us by coming up behind us stomping on the floor, shaking the very building with his mighty tread! What the hell, it's his building, he can do what he wants! Then he bought champagne for the table as you can plainly see from this photo of the occasion.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Lamar Lounge last night and heard nothing but great things about the performance, which apparently ended with Jon Langford and Barry Mills on washboards and a mesmerized Chris Lopez - an instant Marcella and Her Lovers convert - on cowbell and Dr. Theresa on tambourine! Meanwhile, I came home early from City Grocery Bar (that's Langford and Megan Abbott - those two overheard discussing the work of Arthur Machen - and me and Hogan and Bill Boyle, oh, and Julie Mills peeking from the corner!) and fell asleep on the couch and when Dr. Theresa came home she fell asleep in the living room too (the very living room where, surreally and wonderfully, Langford and Hogan had been having band practice earlier in the day) and we slept in the living room. Like animals! So don't miss the rest of these wonderful events that Dr. Theresa and her department are throwing this week. Beginning today! I mean, yesterday. That's why I got up so early to tell you.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
I have turned into Larry King. But it's true. I don't like Van Johnson in any movie except DIVORCE AMERICAN STYLE. It comes on TCM a lot. Whenever it's on I have to watch a few scenes at least. Last night I saw the scene with the nightclub hypnotist Pat Collins. I guess she was a real-life famous nightclub hypnotist. She was wearing these glasses. I think they were these glasses. This is a publicity photo, I guess, but she seems to be wearing her own stage finery in DIVORCE AMERICAN STYLE. Have you seen it? It's pretty good! Van Johnson is okay as a loud, insecure, cheerful, cornfed car dealer who's obsessed with his mother. Better than okay! I have to give him that. But I hate him in everything else. I just can't watch him. He gives me the creeps. Screw you, the late Van Johnson!
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Kent and Ashly. I told 'em they looked like a Hal Hartley movie. I'm not sure that's accurate. But whatever they look like, they look great, don't they? This was snapped between the Creative Arts Emmys and the Creative Arts Ball. That's right, we went to the Emmys! The Creative Arts Emmys. They're just like regular Emmys. They are regular Emmys! They're Emmys! But more creative. And sure enough I brought my jotting book that I always fill with my special jottings just for you. In fact, Adam Muto had to keep reminding me, "Put your book away," because I was jotting backstage after we WON Emmys and people were trying to interview us and take nice pictures of us and give us our Emmys and I was dazed and jotting. Dr. Theresa's birthday! 1. We were in a nice restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee. The next table received an unordered caprese salad, which caused a minor kerfuffle! I said, "Things fall apart, the center cannot hold." So we started quoting poetry at each other. Dr. Theresa said she likes "Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking" and I said, "Death, death, death, death," which I believe is a quotation from it (?) and Dr. Theresa said, "Uh, it's my birthday." 2. The next morning I had to leave Dr. Theresa behind! She drove back to Oxford and went to work while I climbed aboard an airplane, where I watched that recent biopic about Brian Wilson. There is a scene where he is on an airplane yelling, "I don't want to die! I don't want to die!" That was a funny thing to show on an airplane. 3. I kept thinking, "Brian Wilson IS James Baxter!" Meaning the ADVENTURE TIME character James Baxter the Horse, not James Baxter the beloved animator for whom James Baxter the Horse is named. PET SOUNDS" montage. 4. Dramatically, my pen cap dropped to the floor and rolled away, beyond all reach! I could no longer put that pen in the pocket of my nice pants without some danger. THIS MIGHT SERIOUSLY CURTAIL MY JOTTING! As you will see from the unreadable verbosity of what follows, such was not the case. 5. But as I was thusly fretting, I lost the whole pen, which rolled under the feet of a possibly mean old man behind me on the plane. I opened up the window shade and saw brown mountains and brown land, some dry river beds, some roads, I think, cut into the land. I thought, "There it is, the Old West!" I brooded sentimentally about the people who used to cross it the hard way. "Every Valley Shall Be Exalted" was shuffling through on the iPod and I thought, looking at the land, "Handel had the seeds of the future in him!" Ha ha! What a lunatic! I mean me, not Handel. Anthony Bourdain on the red carpet. He said I looked nice! Which I only mention because I was worried about my red pants. WHY DID I BUY RED PANTS, I kept worrying. I was NOT worried about my jacket, which John T. Edge so graciously loaned me for the occasion. Well, I was worried about buttoning it. 8. While we were standing in the lobby waiting for the ceremony to start, I got to talk to Rebecca Sugar! This was an especial thrill for me. I admire her work so much, and she left A.T. to work on STEVEN UNIVERSE just before I arrived on the show, I think. I had taken note of what she was doing and saw the magnificent scope of what the job could be. Before, we had met only once in passing on the street in front of the Cartoon Network building. Mel Brooks presented the first award. I think Kent was the one in the whole crowd who leapt quickest to his feet and instigated the well-deserved standing ovation. 10. Kent went to the lobby to get a beer. You can get a beer during the Creative Arts Emmys! They're no squares! So Matt Weiner, creator of MAD MEN, was coming into the auditorium as Kent was leaving. So Kent said, "Hi!" and Matt Weiner said, "Hi!" Later, Ashly saw Kathryn Hahn in the women's restroom! She was really nice! Little did I know that later, at the ball, I would foist myself (psychologically speaking) upon both Beau Bridges ("Here's all I want to say to you: FABULOUS BAKER BOYS." Ha ha, what an idiot I am) and Key from Key and Peele! Pat McHale's OVER THE GARDEN WALL won best LONG-form series! Here you can see a "candid shot" of Pat in the background as he stares into his drink and contemplates the fleeting nature of happiness at the fancy bar: wine on my white shirt? Pat dropped to his knees in unnecessary apology, with such flair and dexterity that he resembled James Brown at the end of a performance! 13. BUT! first we must get to the ball. That was tricky! No one seemed to know how to get there. There was a strange line between buildings, almost a maze, and Matt Weiner was at the head of it, walking fast. He was like the Pied Piper! Harry Crane (pictured) from the show was walking beside him, looking just like Harry Crane. Tom Herpich, who won TWO Emmys that night! One for individual achievement on A.T. (his marvelous solo episode "Walnuts and Rain") Mickey Mouse beats us we'll go have a drink." And we all thought that! And I didn't even think I cared. But I started caring! The whole thing is such a blur that when somebody asked me the next day who presented our award, I couldn't remember. Adam said he felt much the same way. Neil Degrasse Tyson was onstage, in retrospect, and it all happened so fast I didn't even realize he was announcing our award. In fact, I was softly muttering something blasé about Neil Degrasse Tyson's persona to Kent just before - WHILE? - it happened. 15. I saw the CCO gesticulating urgently as I waddled slowly up the aisle. He was giving me those "hurry up" gestures. When you get onstage you're just confused. You can't hear anything. I couldn't hear what Adam was saying to the world. 16. After you win an Emmy you look around for somebody to tell you what to do. Nobody really does. Somebody with a microphone asks questions. They take your picture. I foolishly knelt on one brittle knee in the front row with Kent and then I couldn't get up. I put my hands on Kent's shoulders to help steady myself as I rose and I nearly crushed Kent into the ground. It was a terrible spectacle of oldness. Then you go into a room and meet these two women behind a table, just like the volunteers at your polling station on Election Day! They make you find your name on a piece of paper and sign it. That's so you can get your Emmy. By now I understood that I was actually going to get one, the actual statue, but I still couldn't understand that it was happening. Then you have to carry it around all night! At the ball, I'd pick it up whenever I left the table. I didn't want to lose it. And I was weirdly attached to "my" Emmy, the one I had happened to choose from the random array. (The plaque with your name on it comes later, they tell me.) A stranger came up to me and said, "There are two kinds of people here tonight, the people who carry their Emmys around with them and..." It was obvious she was giving me a stern chiding for being that crass sort of person whom she had first mentioned. But I didn't want to lose it! The Emmy, I mean. 17. Although I must admit that Kent and I very purposefully took our Emmys with us when we went to see Pamela Adlon at her table. We thought they would get us closer to her! Like we wouldn't seem like maniacs! All this, even though Kent has voice-directed her for ADVENTURE TIME in the past. Still we were enthralled and nervous! Jerry Lewis for the part David Lynch ended up playing. 18. Then Kent and I went to gawk at Anthony Bourdain, whom I know a little bit. We discussed his role in ARCHER. He said he'd love it if his character came back and I kept rudely reminding him that he fell out of an airplane. Seo Kim said the next day, when I astonished her with my tales of Tom's dancing abilities, Tom "never moves." Adam confirmed Tom's economy of motion. "Saving it up," Tom said (concisely!) when confronted. Well, he certainly puts it to good use when the time comes! I don't know who the eerie faceless figure in the background of this photo (above) is. Maybe it's Slenderman! 20. Oh! Painstakingly analyzing a vine of our dancing frame by frame, I find this evidence of Pat McHale's wine crimes.my brother and nephews. My brother made me bring my Emmy with me to show the boys. When you leave the Emmys they give you this thing like - as my brother and I both independently said, and what is wrong with us? - a baby coffin to put it in. It was hard to carry. "Wah, wah, wah, my Emmy is heavy," my brother rightly mocked me. At brunch we talked about how you make a homunculus and debated my brother's preposterous claim that "most purple food is bitter." "Grapes!" I kept yelling at him. "Grapes!" 22. Then came the great bag hunt, my brother's Ahabian quest to find a canvas bag into which my Emmy coffin would fit. He said it would be easier for me to take it to the airport that way, and he proved to be right. He drove us all over the place in his search for the right bag. The right bag indeed proved elusive! Though not entirely. Sometimes we went in; sometimes my nephews and I waited in the car while my brother went in. Once he left us in a dark parking garage and we all sang (without accompaniment; car and radio were turned off and the windows were rolled down) the Roy Orbison song "In Dreams." As creepy as it was for us, we only imagined later the probable terror of the other poor people in that parking garage, listening to us trying to sing Roy Orbison's song about that "candy-colored clown" who comes into your room late at night. 23. The next day I went to the office and had lunch with Seo Kim and Sam Alden. Somebody at the table next to us was explaining to his coworkers that the only reason people die is that the sun poisons them, otherwise we would all be immortal. This led to an interesting discussion after they left, and maybe one day I'll type it up, I have all the jottings right here, and they are pretty good - like about how big lobsters can get (really big!) - but man, I'm tired! 24. Writer's meeting with Adam and Ashly! We got sidetracked watching David Lynch clips on the enormous TV in the conference room, focusing on Lynch's obsession with lip-synching... James from TWIN PEAKS. In what might have been the hugest coincidence of all, I thought I saw Dean Stockwell at the airport on my way back home! But it wasn't Dean Stockwell, so it wasn't any kind of coincidence, and I guess I shouldn't have even mentioned it just now. But I did. This "Dean Stockwell" I saw turned out to be an actor named Peter Brown. I've never heard of him (or seen him in anything, as far as I can tell), but I could tell he was an actor. And the "internet" says he is one year younger than Dean Stockwell. I was so close! And his wife was excited that I recognized him, and she was so happy and sweet-natured I didn't have the heart to correct her. 25. I'm leaving out a lot of stuff, believe it or not. I guess the eager archivists of the future will have to devote their lives to studying the quaint runes of my little jotting book to find out what else Seo and Sam and I talked about at lunch. 26. Oh yeah, sorry, I started "building up suspense" about a "Matt Weiner story" all the way back in #13, above. But there isn't one! Joke's on you! No one is still reading this. Joke's on me! Well, there is a story, but I don't meet Matt Weiner in it. I'll tell you later. I won't tell you later.
... that though they should be rightfully included, I will not have room for the following labels on my next "post":
Wednesday, September 09, 2015
"Literary Matters" again. I am going to jazz them up by using ROMAN NUMERALS this time! It won't help. I'll also give each section a title. Oh boy! I. I HATE BOOKS. I walked into Square Books and started griping to Cody and Slade about books. Oh how I hate them! Such was the content of my monologue. They knew where I was coming from! They humored me. They egged me on! Think about it from their point of view! Surrounded by books all day! Detestable books! Was I joking? Hmm. Sometimes I just walk into a bookstore and get overwhelmed. "Do I want to contribute to THIS?" I shouted, gesturing wildly at all the books. I forgot to eat today. II. SMALL, DECORATIVE BOOKS. Then Katelyn arrived for work and she was in a good mood! It was cloudy and cooler out, which contributed to her upbeat outlook. At first she was a calming presence. But then we discussed the trend - is it a trend? - of small, decorative books. There was one by the register about the size of a postcard. It's by Hemingway. It's about camping. I picked it up and I swear it was six pages long. With huge letters! Who is buying these six-page books? "We sell a lot of them," I was told about this particular item. And there I was, getting enraged by life again! But Katelyn showed me a small, decorative book about rats. It was about 100 pages and could reasonably be called a book. It was pleasant to see and hold. My breathing steadied. Katelyn said that Carla had been really excited about it, but then she started reading it (Carla did) and became downcast with the dawning realization that the book was anti-rat. III. FAILED SERVICE DOG. At some point, Katelyn used the phrase "failed service dog" which I thought might be a good title for something. Maybe the magazine that Katelyn and I decided to start. It is a magazine in the form of a bar of soap! I know you think it won't work but we figured it out. IV. SPEAKING OF MAGAZINES. Katelyn has just had her very first short story published. It's in the literary magazine COLUMBIA. That's a good one! I bought a copy. You can get your own at Off Square Books. V. ANJELICA HUSTON. I went upstairs and sat in a chair and looked to see if Anjelica Huston's autobiography had Jerry Lewis in the index. You are aware of this compulsion of mine, I trust. But there was no index! My forthcoming nonfiction cigarette lighter book has an index, pal! (Hmm, it might be a small, decorative book.) And does it have Jerry Lewis in it? Look for yourself: the way I felt about Martin Short's autobiography: I would look through it in a bookstore but I don't think I would buy it. And reader, I didn't. VI. THE CHAIRS OF SQUARE BOOKS. My favorite chair at Square Books has the unfortunate liability of being almost in the path to the bathroom. When you sit in my favorite chair you cannot help but notice how many scoundrels are misusing Square Books just for the toilets it thoughtfully provides. I'm watching you, miscreants! And yet who am I to talk, blithely stealing Anjelica Huston's memories? Pendleton Ward has his own favorite chair at Square Books. Last time he came to town he fantasized about having a gold chain installed around it, and a sign indicating that it was reserved for his personal use. Why, he could sit in that chair thinking and dozing and drawing and writing all day! I've seen him do it! VII. A MOUTH THAT IS KISSED. Still reading THE DECAMERON. I pick it up and put it down. There's lots of stuff like "the merchant and the lady slept together in a very small bed; because of this, something happened that was not intended to happen by either one of them" - ha ha! But wherefore do I ha ha? Because that same story ended with a touching moral: "A mouth that is kissed loses no flavor, but, like the moon, is renewed." I thought that was pretty. Maybe I didn't entirely get it. In the next chapter, everyone is having "a good laugh" over those very words! Maybe it's a hilarious joke.
ghosts with sad amazed mood,/ Chattring their yron teeth, and staring wide/ With stonie eyes; and all the hellish brood/ Of feends infernall flockt on eury side..." That's some ghosts in hell being afraid of NIGHT (kind of terrifyingly described as "O thou most auncient Grandmother of all"), who is riding her chariot - or "charet" as Edmund Spenser calls it - ha ha! Get a dictionary, Edmund Spenser! - through hell... "Their mournefull charet, fild with rusty blood." I won't lie to you, THE FAERIE QUEENE is giving me the heebie jeebies. Even Sisyphus with his rock and "thirstie Tantalus hong by the chin" and Tityus, who "fed a vulture on his maw" (!) "Leaue off their worke, vnmindfull of their smart,/ To gaze on them..." So that's gotta be pretty intense! A sight so unusual it makes you temporarily forget that a vulture is feasting on your maw! And I haven't even told you about the very beginning, when the dude chops off a monster's head and the monster's babies start drinking blood out of the neck hole. I think I'm remembering that correctly. I guess what freaks me out the most is that the ghosts have iron teeth. Anyway, who writes this stuff?
Monday, September 07, 2015
Dr. Theresa yelled out, "Rupert Hitzig!" and I said "WHAT!" And she said, "Rupert Hitzig worked on both of these movies." And she was right! I checked it out on the "internet." It was just a coincidence. We weren't having a Rupert Hitzig film festival, not on purpose. I don't know who Rupert Hitzig is. He's still around, it seems. He's on facebook, it says here. Rupert Hitzig!
Sunday, September 06, 2015
I was just going to tell you that THE FAERIE QUEENE has the word "cruddy" in it, that's the only thing that was on my mind: "His cruell wounds with cruddy bloud congealed" - but in the very next stanza we get the inevitable owl! "The messenger of death, the ghastly Owle"...
David Simon's SHOW ME A HERO was magnificent, but it had the unintended consequence of severely curtailing Bill Boyle's innocent lifelong habit of chewing toothpicks, which he picked up from his grandfather in Brooklyn. (You can read about Bill's grandfather chewing toothpicks in my upcoming nonfiction book CIGARETTE LIGHTER, by the way. I ain't lying!) Alfred Molina chews his toothpicks in a such a gross, villainous way in SHOW ME A HERO that it really made Bill Boyle rethink the whole idea of chewing toothpicks for a minute. "He just lets it dangle there," Bill said disgustedly when I saw him at The End of All Music a week or so ago. Bill showed me, by contrast, the way he had been tucking his toothpicks almost all the way into the back of his mouth as of late, in a sort of shame, ever since witnessing the spectacle of Alfred Molina's dirty, blatant toothpick dangling - an affront to the memory of Bill's grandfather! Later that week I was watching AMERICAN GRAFFITI on TV and happened to notice Paul Le Mat lovably chewing a toothpick, so I sent that clip ("click" here) to Bill to cheer him up. Some days later I happened to be watching IT'S A GIFT on TCM, and the put-upon W.C. Fields was heroically chewing a toothpick, which I hope afforded him (Fields, I mean, but Bill, too, I guess) some relief. That clip is yours for a "click" here. Let's all chip in and help Bill give toothpick-chewing back to the good guys! I mentioned that my own grandfather used to occasionally chew flavored toothpicks, which I assumed were a thing of the past (see packaging below), but then Bill offered me a "tea tree oil" flavored toothpick from his own personal stash! I declined, perhaps haunted by thoughts of Alfred Molina. This seems like the place to mention that in my ill-advised search for "flavored toothpicks" on the "internet," I astonishingly (?) came across - and forgive me for mentioning this - "breast milk flavored toothpicks." I'm sorry. I had to tell somebody. I have a hard time imagining the targeted demographic.
Saturday, September 05, 2015
"Bookmarkin'! with Jack Pendarvis," your guide on the "internet" to the complex and fascinating world of bookmarks! As you no doubt recall, a footnote in an old edition of THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY led me to Godwin's LIVES OF THE NECROMANCERS. Well, friends, a footnote in LIVES OF THE NECROMANCERS made me finally want to read THE FAERIE QUEENE. So I searched around the house for the dusty old SPENSER'S POETICAL WORKS I knew I had somewhere. My friend Lucy - with whom I lost touch some years ago - gave me several books that had belonged to her late father, a scholar. This is one of them. I noticed that THE FAERIE QUEENE section already had a bookmark in the middle of it! This bookmark must have been sitting here in just this position for - I'll make a guess - 40 years. It's a white slip of paper, folded over once. Well, the part that has been in the book for all these years is white, but the top part, exposed to air and sun, is brown. At first I thought it would be good to use this old bookmark as MY bookmark. And I even thought I'd see whether there might be a secret message written on the inside of the folded paper. But as soon as I nudged the bookmark with my finger, out of the position it had held for some number of decades, I knew it was the wrong move. I felt intimations of ghostly retribution. I put the bookmark back where it belonged as best I could, but the spiritual damage may have already been done. Today's tip is "DON'T MESS WITH GHOSTLY OLD BOOKMARKS OF THE PAST." That's it for today's "Bookmarkin'! with Jack Pendarvis." Until next time, "Mark my words!"
Friday, September 04, 2015
Hey! Remember when I got burned out on reading about King James? Are you still talking about it around the old office water cooler? Well, I kind of knew he would pop up in this LIVES OF THE NECROMANCERS anyway, because he had lots of thoughts and opinions about witches and demons. He was against them! But guess what! You know that book about King James that I finally kind of gave up on? It was the one about the scandalous murderous poisoning case during his reign. Well, even that scandalous murderous poisoning case appears in LIVES OF THE NECROMANCERS! Can't get away from you, can I, King James? I was surprised - because LIVES OF THE NECROMANCERS came out in 1834 - that Godwin mentions "a beautiful young man, twenty years of age" whom King James liked because "King James was singularly partial to young men who were distinguished for personal attractions" - but I should have learned not to be surprised by now. People were never as square as you think. They knew what was up! I think it's the Dickens novel MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT that directly mentions the Sally Hemings/Thomas Jefferson relationship. That surprised me too, as I recall. I haven't read or thought of MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT in fifteen years or more, so don't hold me to anything. I remember thinking (maybe) that MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT would be good if they took out all the Martin Chuzzlewit parts. Kind of like THE COTTON CLUB would have been better without Richard Gere and Diane Lane. No offense to either actor! But I believe MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT also featured a lovelorn organist named Tom Pinch who... I can't remember what his deal was, and anyway, forget it. I probably bore myself even more than I bore you. I am no longer as sure as I may have been back then that there should be a movie called TOM PINCH.
Thursday, September 03, 2015
McNeil is bummed out that Dean Jones died. Let me be accurate. He didn't say "bummed out." That doesn't sound like him. Hold on. "Sorry to see Dean Jones go" were his exact words. I just looked it up. I'm sure you're still thinking about the debate McNeil and I had nine years ago on the subject of Dean Jones vs. Jim Hutton. It's the unspoken subject everyone is thinking about! I guess all your sympathies will be with McNeil now that Dean Jones has just passed away, because McNeil happened to be on the pro-Dean Jones side of that debate. But in my defense, the late Jim Hutton has been dead for many, many years now. Well, I'm sorry about Dean Jones, too. Maybe I'm just as sorry as you are. Pictured, Dean Jones in THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK.
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
In his LIVES OF THE NECROMANCERS, Godwin is kind of tough on our old friend Paracelsus: "He had drunk water only for the first five-and-twenty years of his life; but now indulged himself in beastly crapulence with the dregs of society, and scarcely ever took off his clothes by day or night."