Sunday, June 19, 2016
Catfish of Ancient Egypt
jelly: it oils up your joints." - Mom. 2. For reasons that need not concern you, Ace Atkins and I were discussing the availability of catfish in the Middle East. So when I started reading a book about ancient Egypt (THE RISE AND FALL OF ANCIENT EGYPT by Toby Wilkinson) I was delighted to find many allusions to catfish: "an ivory cylinder shows the king as a vicious Nile catfish, beating rows of prisoners with a long stick." At first I thought that was funny, even though it is not funny to beat people with a stick... I guess it was the vicious catfish that made me laugh, though the more I thought about it, the more convincingly Lovecraftian the image revealed itself to be - and besides, my grandfather taught me long ago to beware the dangerous "whiskers" of the catfish. 3. By coincidence I watched Kurosawa's RAN (based on KING LEAR) and a TV adaptation of THE DRESSER (about a production of KING LEAR) on the same day. So I went to my facsimile of Holinshed's Chronicles for the source, and was distressed to recall I have only volumes 3 and 6. See? This is the kind of crap you're missing out on now that I'm not "blogging" anymore. 4. Nor could I find my copy of KING LEAR, which made me feel like King Lear, ha ha ha, see what you're missing. (Later, by further coincidence, Lear would pop up all over this Orson Welles bio that Megan and I are reading together, though not - I think - as an official selection of the Doomed Book Club.) 5. ADVENTURE TIME meeting! We talked about Fonzie wearing glasses and Jan from THE BRADY BUNCH wearing glasses and that made Kent think of Piggy from LORD OF THE FLIES, and I said that using Piggy's glasses to start a fire was in my cigarette lighter book and Adam asked whether that counted. That got us onto the subject of "burning lenses" and Adam mentioned an "ancient death ray." I think he said, "Is that like the ancient death ray?" I said I remembered Francis Bacon advocating for the use of burning lenses as military weapons (it's in my book!) but Adam said he was talking about "Archimedes and the Siege of Syracuse." Adam knows everything! (See also.) Taking a quick glance at the "internet" I do see an unsubstantiated rumor that Archimedes built a giant mirror with which to set fire to the enemy's sails. On the same day the aforementioned discussion occurred, I read in a tweet by Chris Offutt, "I have a short story that includes a woman using a lighter to heat up a Pop Tart one bite at a time." Both of these tidbits (Archimedes, Pop Tarts) would have easily passed muster for my cigarette lighter book, had I only known about them in time. And you know, as long as we're here, the fascinatingwithout spoiling anything (probably not): it neatly marks the beginning of each of the movie's three acts (possibly). 6. A ribald jest from McNeil about Jerry Lewis. A series of them, really. Or one long ribald jest that is carried out and elaborated upon over a number of emails. McNeil's final (?) message on the subject concludes, "Ahhhh. I'm making myself laugh in a parking lot, which makes this all the more wrong." 7. I don't remember much liking the movie HEARTBURN when it came out, but I saw a documentary about Nora Ephron not too long ago and thought if I ever came across HEARTBURN again I'd give it a try - what, 40 years later? Dear God! And I did. And Yakov Smirnoff is in it! Now, it's not Mike Nichols's fault that this one book I read stacked him up as the pinnacle of hip culture against the supposed rancid decadence of Bob Hope, but just remember: Mike Nichols put Yakov Smirnoff in a movie and Bob never did (though I wouldn't be surprised if he were on a Bob Hope TV special, to be fair [He was. - ed.]). Jerry Lewis allusion in TREES LOUNGE. 9. Stopped by Square Books. Katelyn failed to sell me a book she likes, but utterly convinced me to give APOCALYPTO a chance. 10. Watched PINOCCHIO. a. Jiminy Cricket has human feet and toenails, human teeth! Disturbing. b. That fish wants to kiss everyone and everything. c. Jiminy Cricket is consistently sexually aroused by human representations (dolls) of his size. d. Even as a kid I didn't understand why being a wooden boy wasn't good enough. What's all this crap about being a "real boy"? 11. King Lear (see above) vows "to be a comrade with the wolf and owl" (just like Dracula! - though he doesn't say that, of course) and you know what that means!