Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sat in the coffee shop reading THE CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS, freshly purchased from Square Books, and there is an owl in it, which shouldn't have surprised me and, in fact, did not surprise me. "The Owl stepped forward, a bit crazed,/ and said: Abandoned sites are my lair./ I was born in and am a child of ruins,/ so don't think I go to such places to secretly drink." Yeah, sure, you and me both, owl! (Translation by Sholeh Wolpe.)
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Ace Atkins's latest novel in manuscript form and just reached an owl, and not just any owl: "a damn owl." By coincidence, I'm holding down the pages I've finished with this owl paperweight (seen above) given to me by Megan Abbott's mother. In case some of you have forgotten, I make a note of it every time I read a book with an owl in it. No, I don't recall why.
Monday, April 16, 2018
Monday, March 26, 2018
LITTLE DORRIT has an owl in it. Big Dorrit chides Little Dorrit like so: "It's no use staring. A little owl could stare." So I was also right in my groundbreaking prediction that owl eyes are shaping up to be the dominant symbol of 2018. Put it in the bank! I am sorry it took me so long to get to the owl. I just have so many celebrity tell-alls to read with Megan Abbott (next up, Joseph Cotten! Say... did you know Kent Osborne once drove Joseph Cotten's widow in a limousine? But that's another story). I would like to say that Little Dorrit's sister is not really named Big Dorrit. I just put it that way for your amusement. One book that happily interrupted LITTLE DORRIT was THE LONELY WITNESS by Bill Boyle. I'll be "in conversation" with Bill (that's WILLIAM BOYLE on his book covers!) at Square Books on May 2, when THE LONELY WITNESS comes out. Don't worry, I'll remind you!
Wednesday, March 07, 2018
I don't know why I ever made Al Pacino one of my handy "blog" "labels": I haven't "blogged" about him since 2011. But! I suppose it was all leading to this. So! You remember when Jerry Lewis died. It wasn't too long ago. And I cobbled together a hasty "post" containing 101 ways to appreciate Jerry. Today I saw an interview with Al Pacino in which he describes a scene from THE BELLBOY as "one of his favorites of all time" and draws an implicit comparison between his style of acting and Jerry's. It's just the kind of thing I would have put on my list, and so, though I don't "blog" anymore, I'm adding it here as an appendix. Oh! And you know what? I feel I've been vindicated for the time in 2010 I claimed to have caught Pacino imitating Jerry in a movie. "Click" here to find out which movie! I know you won't. That's why I don't "blog" anymore.
Monday, March 05, 2018
Laura Lippman recommended JUNIOR MISS by Sally Benson, a slim collection of understated, warm short stories about a girl and her family. So last night I read the one in which our protagonist, Judy Graves, appears in an all-girl junior-high production of THE TEMPEST as Stephano, a character described in the program notes as "a drunken butler." So... "She reeled onto the stage, a bottle in her hand. Her smooth, dark-brown hair was covered with a straw-colored wig, the tip of her nose was painted a bright red. Her clothes were awry and she looked as tight as an owl." We come again, then, to the notion that owls are drunk or appear to be drunk, catalogued here for your convenience.
Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Megan Abbott that James Dean's performance in EAST OF EDEN really had something of the young Jerry Lewis in it, and Megan told me that James Dean actually worked with Jerry in SAILOR BEWARE (as seen above; that's James Dean nearest to Jerry in the background). James Dean's one line in the movie is "He's a professional!" And it's about Jerry Lewis. But as you know, I don't "blog" anymore, and the former facts are not enough to get me temporarily "blogging." But! I watched SAILOR BEWARE today and there is a scene in which Dean Martin is smooching with Betty Hutton and Jerry intervenes, volunteering to trade places with Betty Hutton! And here we are. I have mentioned before ("click" here) that the supposed subtext between Dean and Jerry is not subtext at all, but plain, simple text. And this confirmation is reason enough to "blog," I think. As long as I have you here, I think I will mention that I watched CONTEMPT tonight. Jack Palance's character is named Jerry, and I couldn't help wondering whether Godard had Jerry Lewis in mind. He always has Jerry Lewis in mind! And I could imagine the character "Jerry" played by Jerry with some of the imposing menace he displayed in THE KING OF COMEDY. But! When Jack Palance throws a film can like it's a discus, with such startling physicality, well! I've never said this before, but Jerry couldn't have done it better. I do believe Godard might have had Jerry in mind, though, because he certainly had Dean in mind: Michel Piccoli's character explicitly idolizes Dean Martin, and wears a hat, he says, to look like him: Dr. Theresa and I could not agree tonight at which theater in Atlanta we saw CONTEMPT on the big screen. We did agree that we saw it with our friend Heather, with whom I used to be in a band. But I'm not "blogging" anymore, so that kind of thing is immaterial. I do realize that I can't stop thinking of Jerry in movies he is not in (EAST OF EDEN, CONTEMPT), and that probably means there is something seriously wrong with me. CONTEMPT ends with the word "Silencio!" which put me in mind of MULHOLLAND DR., which put me in mind of Jerry Lewis. Please send help.
Welcome once again to "McNeilileaks," where I publish the shocking private contents of my friend McNeil's emails. McNeil writes: "If you're so convinced every book will have an owl (or owl reference) in it, you should stand outside a bookstore with a $100 bill and bet exiting customers your hundred to their $20 that the book they just bought has an owl in it. And odds are you win yourself twenty bucks! A good hustle." I'm with McNeil on this one.
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Remember my nonfiction book about cigarette lighters? Neither do I. Unfortunately, I keep being reminded of it. I just rewatched Tati's MON ONCLE. When the wind keeps blowing out Tati's matches he tosses each useless match out the window of his brother-in-law's car. Then his brother-in-law hands him the car's electric cigarette lighter. Tati uses it to light his pipe and then nonchalantly tosses it out the window. See, I know just where this should have gone in my cigarette lighter book. But it came out in January 2016, so I guess I'm screwed. It would have been interesting to contrast Tati's innocent tossing of the cigarette lighter with the bitter way (recounted in the book) John Belushi and Hal Needham toss cigarette lighters out of car windows. No it wouldn't have been.
Saturday, February 10, 2018
I am not "blogging" anymore I do continue to update the big, long list I keep of books I read that have owls in them, because every book I read seems to end up having an owl in it. Furthermore, I should remind you of my startlingly accurate prediction that owl eyes, specifically, were shaping up to be the hot trend of 2018. And so we come to FINAL CUT, a book about the making of the movie HEAVEN'S GATE, which Megan and I are reading in our never-ending cavalcade of show biz tell-alls. You will be glad to hear that an executive is described as having "owllike eyes," and not only that, these owllike eyes are "swiveling... behind his huge spectacles, glinting in the early-morning sunlight like windshields." And while you might think that conceit is a little jumbled, please do not forget the "suicidal owl" in the Charles Portis novel NORWOOD, which crashes into the windshield of a bus. In conclusion, this gives me permission to remind everyone that the rollerskating scene (my favorite!) in HEAVEN'S GATE inspired Jake's blissful viola-playing-while-rollerskating scene in ADVENTURE TIME.
Tuesday, February 06, 2018
I don't "blog" anymore but I was watching THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY and saw what I think is the same green carpet that McNeil claims Jerry Lewis put in THE PATSY and reused some decades later in CRACKING UP. Or you know what? It may be some other green carpet. But I do know I've seen Jerry wearing the same bathrobe in two different movies for a fact. Hey! You can't even really see the carpet in this shot. There's a shadow obscuring it. Now you know why I don't "blog" anymore.
Friday, February 02, 2018
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I haven't "blogged" about GREEN ACRES since December 31 nor LITTLE DORRIT (which I'm sure has an owl in it: it has everything else in it) since December 8. That's right, I've stalled on both for a number of reasons, including an email from McNeil about ghosts and time travel. Never mind why, but that email reminded me of a novel by Daphne Du Maurier that my mother recommended to me about 40 years ago but I forgot to read it. So now I'm finally reading THE HOUSE ON THE STRAND and I just got to a part where a 14th-century monk imitates an owl.
Thursday, January 25, 2018
Oleg says that JFK's dad Joe Kennedy had "owlish eyes." This is really none of your business. As I hope I've made clear in the past, once I've told you that a book has an owl in it, I am no longer under any obligation whatsoever to tell you EVERY time an owl comes up in that book. In this case, however, Joe Kennedy's owlish eyes support my stunning prediction that 2018 is the year to invest in owl eyes.
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Dean and Jerry in the lead roles. But it was not until emailing Phil Oppenheim about the matter this morning that I stopped to realize that Will Ferrell would be the Dean Martin. That surprised me! It surprised me even though Will Ferrell's character's beautiful singing voice is pivotal. Meanwhile, John C. Reilly's character exhibits the "fear of sex" that Jerry so often embodies. And while Dean falling in love with his therapist would have been played straighter (there are always therapists in these movies!) the end results would have been the same. In fact, the romantic relationships in STEP BROTHERS would appear to parallel almost exactly the pairings in ARTISTS AND MODELS... Dorothy Malone (so recently deceased) a figure of authority and Kathryn Hahn clearly our answer to Shirley MacLaine, not that she needs an answer, as she is still with us, and come to think of it, then, Shirley MacLaine is our Shirley MacLaine. Anyway, I have a lot of time to think these days.
Monday, January 22, 2018
Now Megan and I are reading Oleg Cassini's autobiography, and like nearly every other book I ever read it has an owl in it. Sometimes the owls aren't real owls. You know what? They're never real owls when you think about it. I don't want to get too deep. They're just words on a page, man. "Bobby was an owlish looking fellow, heir to a large scrap-iron business."