Saturday, November 23, 2013
Lee Durkee heard about McNeil's trouble with the misprinted book, and McNeil's feelings of being all alone in the matter, so Lee wrote me with a message of encouragement to pass along to McNeil, a little story of something that happened to Lee, which I quote for you now: "I once, on a flight to Sri Lanka, was reading a book by Tobias Wolff, IN THE PHARAOH'S ARMY, and midway through the memoir due to a publishing error the book switched into a novel by a different author and kinda blew my mind. I thought Wolff had gone all experimental on me. Later I noticed it was a slightly different typeset. I left the book at a hostel where perhaps it is still bewildering people. It was really odd. I kept reading and reading trying to figure out how Wolff was gonna wrap this all together." Last night I saw Lee at a party, and he told me that what further confounded him was how the change happened between the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. I forwarded the email on to McNeil, who responded: "Well, obviously, what happened to Lee isn't at all the fault of the publisher, but rather a result of longitudinal chicanery by that longitudinal laugh riot of the universe - the globe. You see, in order to get to Sri Lanka, you have to cross the 'International Date Line,' which of course means 'all bets are off!' I forget who said that. Once you cross that imaginary (not so imaginary in my book!) line, ships often sink, standardized language melts away, gold flies out of your teeth, and typeface often changes type. I wouldn't be surprised if my Jerry Lewis book had been shipped from Hong Kong. It's a nice touch the way Lee left the novel in a hostel. Now someone we know needs to accidentally buy it used online and the circle will be complete." Cutting-and-pasting these messages for "blog" "publication," I note that both Lee and McNeil adhere to the elegant and traditional practice of following each period they type with two spaces. Classy! I gave up on that years ago. Think of all the energy I've saved. BUT AT WHAT PRICE? (I removed their "extra" spaces so that the "post" would "adhere" to "blog" "standards." Think of all the work I did to reduce the quality here. Is that "ironic"?) Hey, I'm just going to keep typing. "All bets are off!" as McNeil once observed. Nobody reads these long "posts," or the short ones either, but perversely that's what keeps me typing. Like, yesterday I wrote a long "post" containing the words and phrases "Joycean technique" and "Faulkner" and "palimpsest" and "portent" and "unspoken emotion" but then I deleted it. WHY? For all practical purposes, a deleted "post" is the same as a "posted" "post." It was about this sentence in Adrienne Barbeau's autobiography: "We were married four months later, on New Years Day 1979, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, by a one-armed judge who years earlier had lost his hand in the mixer at the bakery where we'd gotten our wedding cake." I'm way past that now. The marriage is over. Adrienne Barbeau has just met a man who has "the ability to alter bacteria with his hands." She says of him, "I wonder who gave him the huge pearl ring he's wearing. I wonder why the nails on his pinkie fingers are so long." In other book news, I was lurching around Square Books yesterday and found myself strangely drawn to a paperback of JUNKY by William S. Burroughs. I found myself wondering why I've never read it. I read the first couple of pages and thought they were pretty good. So I bought it. It was only afterward, going through the introduction as I sat at the counter at Ajax, that I put it together: Old Bull Lee from ON THE ROAD is Burroughs, as I well knew. What I didn't know is that this edition of JUNKY has, as an appendix, a whole deleted chapter about William Reich, fave theorist of Adrienne Barbeau and Norman Mailer! Who cares? Randy, the owner of Ajax, saw me eating a hamburger and asked, "Why aren't you eating a Pendarvis sandwich? I can't remember the right name." I reminded him that he was thinking of "The Osborne Sandwich." Don't worry! I still think it's going to catch on. Books! As you know, I always like to have a little pocket-sized book to carry around in my little pocket-sized pocket as I promenade about the town like Blazes Boylan. And the other day when I was at Off Square Books I found just such an item, filled with poems using the great old spelling I love: "YEE dainty Nimphs that in this blessed Brooke/ Doo bath your brest;/ Forsake your watry Bowers, and hether looke/ At my request." There are a lot of "hey ho's," so that even the most dire subject matter takes on a jaunty hue: "But whether in painfull love I pine,/ hey hoe pinching pain:/ Or thrive in wealth, she shall be mine,/ but if thou can her obtaine./ And if for gracelesse greefe I dye/ hey hoe gracelesse greefe:/ Witnesse, she slew me with her eye,/ let thy folly be the preefe." He's talking to his sheep. All the narrators in this book are talking to sheep. Pretty early in that poem, the narrator sees "the bouncing Bellybone/ hey hoe Bonny-bell:/ Tripping over the Dale alone,/ shee can trip it very well." Bellybone! I have no idea. Bonnibel (sp?) is Princess Bubblegum's first name, FYI.
Saturday, March 02, 2013
Report from McNeil! "Watching All in the Family last night (Season 1, disc 3, ep. 2) when Meathead mentioned that Archie was 47! There was an uncomfortable silence in the living room, let me tell you... I headed to the IMDB and confirmed my worst fears. I am older than Archie Bunker in Season 1. I live in a nightmare." As you know, we are keeping track of McNeil's napping schedule. He didn't even have time for a nap yesterday! Jimmy, however, reports that he fell asleep during a French movie and missed his shift at The End of All Music.
Friday, February 22, 2013
McNeil sent me one of those nine-minute youtube videos he loves to send me, where a hooded figure talks about "our criminal overlords" and how "everything we believe is a great big lie" but then this particular guy says something surprising: "I shut up and keep it to myself." People are intrigued by his silence! So then they beg him to tell them about our criminal overlords and whatnot, he says. I made it almost three minutes in. (See also. And also.)
Friday, September 23, 2011
1) Mom was right! The satellite is going to fall on us. 2) I guess some scientists think they found a particle moving faster than the speed of light, which, as Einstein said, would open up the possibility of time travel. But other scientists are like, "Shut up! You're dumb! Stop embarrassing us!" 3) Scientists are getting even better at MAKING PICTURES OF WHAT WE SECRETLY THINK IN OUR BRAINS! Come to me if you have any other questions about science.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
McNeil has been reading articles at cnn.com again, and as you know, it never turns out well for him. Now he is concerned about a giant secret planet that orbits the sun every 27,000,000 years, and every time it comes around to say hello, there's a "mass extinction" down here on good old Earth. McNeil is pretty sure our 27,000,000 years are just about up and we're all doomed. Doomed! Speaking of disasters, have you heard about this Broadway musical called SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK? It is about Spider-Man turning off the dark and ha ha ha, I just compared it to the end of human life and I've never even seen it. Turns out I'm just one of those jerks you hear about all the time. Speaking of the end of human life, Spider-Man keeps plummeting headlong into the audience from a deadly height, which is one of the problems this musical is having. Well, today in the New York Times, Vanessa Redgrave refers to that show as "Let the Light Come in From the Dark, Superman." She really seems to think that's the title! I was so happy to read that. First, it is fitting and dignified that she does not know the name of the show. Finally, it sounds like something my friend Lucy's mother would say, or something that everybody's mother would say. Adorable!
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Georgia!" exclaims CNN. Also, "Theories Pour In About Mysterious Fireball." Here's the clip, which comes from McNeil, of course, who is very worried, of course. It probably didn't help McNeil's poor nerves that the CNN anchor screams "I see fire!" at the end.
Monday, November 08, 2010
Spoke with McNeil. He seemed a little shaken up by the particle collider news, but at least equally concerned with a headline he claims to have seen on cnn.com: "Man Loses 27 Pounds on Twinkie Diet."
Just when McNeil was feeling so much better about that particle collider, they are firing it up again, and how! According to a scientist quoted over there on the gawker, "This process took place in a safe, controlled environment generating incredibly hot and dense subatomic fireballs with temperatures of over ten trillion degrees – a million times hotter than the center of the sun." I hope they remembered to use oven mitts!
Thursday, May 06, 2010
Ha ha! That's a Shakespeare reference because McNeil likes Shakespeare and also I am classy. But this is a serious matter, so let's get serious. McNeil sent his DNA to the National Geographic people, who will trace your DNA for you. Here is what he received in response: "Your sample failed to yield results for the initial analysis. You do not need to take any action at this time... Please note that there will be an additional ten-day delay in delivering your results." For McNeil, there can be but one conclusion: his ancestors are aliens from outer space! "No Action?" he writes. "They really mean, 'Don't leave the country, Men in Black are coming for you.' My vial's run dry, baby. They just want me to wait around 10 days so they can round me up! No way man!"
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Did you know the universe is only 4% atoms, and the rest is some freaky stuff you don't want to know about? I read it in the New York Times! Now I'm worried. This is not how things were explained to me as a child. They told me EVERYTHING was made of atoms! That's what they said! EVERYTHING! And that freaked me out, too, a little, but I wrapped my mind around it. And now this! Did you know that four percent is less than five percent? And FIVE PERCENT IS LIKE NOTHING! Like, if you had five percent of something, you'd say, "Where's the rest of it?" You'd be like, "This is a rip-off!" And that's five percent! But we're talking about four percent! I knew there was a reason I felt like this all the time! So, what's the rest of the universe? Well, I guess 25% is "dark matter" and 70% is "dark energy" and I don't like the sound of that one bit! I'm also very upset that one percent is left over, and who knows what THAT is? The New York Times doesn't say! They just kind of gloss over the MISSING ONE PERCENT OF THE UNIVERSE! I also get nervous when I read newspaper articles describing, and I quote, "the first faint hints of a ghostly sea of subatomic particles" discovered at the bottom of an ABANDONED IRON MINE IN MINNESOTA! It's too much like the beginning of a horror movie. I hope you don't mind, but I told McNeil about this first, because he worries about these things.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
After the reading last night, I went over to City Grocery Bar to meet up with John Currence and Joe York. Several other people who were at the reading ended up there as well, including Bill Boyle (whom you may remember as the man who once attended a lecture about frogs) and his wife (whose name I won't give because I don't have permission) who works for the Audubon Society, which may explain the lecture about frogs. And SHE told me that crows understand the meaning and purpose of traffic lights! More evidence that we need to be worried about what the crows are planning. She also told me that chimney swifts - even ones who are not related - will rush into a burning tree to save baby chimney swifts. The nature stories were just beginning! And some of them would happen to me in person, yes, that very night. It was just a little after eight when I got a phone call at the bar from Theresa. She advised me to use the front door when I got home because there was a possum on the back porch and it wouldn't leave. It had been there for an hour, she said. She had intervened in a developing altercation between the possum and a neighborhood cat (shades of the cat who entered the groundhog's lair!), which had consisted, before Theresa stepped in to save the day, of some mild hissing and wary curiosity about one another - the curiosity being mostly on the part of the cat, verifying the old legend. I got home at about 11 (time flies!) and assumed that the coast was clear by then, so I came around the back as usual. There was the possum, on the card table on the back porch, lying on a tote bag filled with tubes of acrylic paint, looking a little nonplussed but mainly indifferent and full of assumptions. Was it "playing possum" (pretending to be dead) as possums are reputed to do? It wasn't moving much, that's all I can tell you. I tried reasoning with it ("I already tried that," Theresa explained). I tried scaring it away with noisemaking that annoyed Theresa more than the possum. I shook the table (long distance, via broom handle). I threw a shoe at it (as Theresa had done earlier in the evening). Maybe it WAS playing possum. I walked off the porch and confronted it from the other side of the screen, which it was facing, by rattling a large bush. Oh, the possum hated that! Yes, my rattling of the bush finally got a rise out of it and caused another round of mild hissing. And the possum hissed too. Ha ha! No, really it was just the possum hissing. We stared at each other a long time through the screen and the bush and I started to like the possum. I learned some things about possums. 1) They are stubborn and patient. 2) When they yawn, their mouths open REALLY WIDE, wider even than you might expect. 3) Their paws are freaky. 4) They have (this one did, anyway; I am not a naturalist!) really long fangs that show even when their mouths are closed. I didn't expect that, based on my lifelong reading of Walt Kelly's POGO (pictured), of which comic strip Caroline Young has given me a number of vintage promotional figurines. Finally we just watched the possum through the window on the back door. It didn't do much, though at one point it sniffed the air vigorously. "It senses something," I observed wisely. And then A RACCOON WADDLED ONTO THE PORCH! DOES THIS KIND OF STUFF GO ON EVERY NIGHT AND WE JUST DON'T KNOW ABOUT IT? IS OUR BACK PORCH SOME KIND OF NIGHTCLUB FOR WILD ANIMALS? The raccoon (perhaps tempted because we had propped open the porch door so the possum could escape) didn't find anything interesting about our porch, not even the possum, so it turned around and waddled back down the steps. A little after midnight, I decided to check on the possum again and witnessed it lowering itself very slowly and eerily off the table, using its tail, it seemed to me, in the prehensile manner for which it is so justly famous. Then it left the porch. In other nature news, McNeil just called as I was typing this to tell me about developments with the large hadron collider which interests him so, you know, the machine that is going to end the world, and yes, this is a nature story, because McNeil said a bird dropped a bread crumb on the large hadron collider and broke it! I am not kidding! That's the way McNeil described the story on cnn.com, which I have not yet read. I like McNeil's version the best anyway. A BIRD DROPPED A BREAD CRUMB ON THE COLLIDER AND BROKE IT! Sounds like a fairy tale. And the bird dropped the crumb, claims McNeil, in the ONLY SPOT WHERE A BREAD CRUMB COULD POSSIBLY BREAK THE COLLIDER! According to the story, says McNeil, some scientists believe that the collider IS BEING SABOTAGED FROM THE FUTURE! Maybe the crows are doing it! The bird and the bread crumb tipped me off. McNeil says it is a "great story" with "a lot of weird stuff in it."
Saturday, September 26, 2009
McNeil sends in a "link" proving that SCIENTISTS CAN READ THE SECRET THOUGHTS YOU ARE HIDING IN YOUR BRAIN! This is the hottest thing in scientific breakthroughs since the time McNeil became afraid of invisible soldiers. The mind reading story, in which guys in white lab coats "translated recorded patterns of neural activity into pictures of what test subjects had seen," reminded me of the case of Ted Serios, probably because I was reading THE JOURNAL OF PARAPSYCHOLOGY in the periodicals room yesterday. (Here's an eerie coincidence [cue organ music]: I just dug out my copy of THE PERFECT MEDIUM: PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE OCCULT [Yale University Press], and the article on Ted Serios was written by Stephen E. Braude, who must certainly be the same Braude I mentioned yesterday.) Anyway, Serios was "an elevator operator in a Chicago hotel" who "found that he could use his mind to project images onto film." He underwent "thousands of trials," which "yielded around one thousand anomalous Polaroid photographs, the entire collection of which now resides in the Special Collections section of the library at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County." I'll bet people were like, "You can't be Serios!" Ha ha ha! Get it? I'll also bet that Ted Serios has a wikipedia page. Yep. Now I will use my psychic abilities to choose a random picture to go with this "post."
Friday, January 09, 2009
McNeil is upset that he can't find any clips of the old syndicated TV series LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS on youtube. Nor, he claims, is the show available on DVD. So, where is it? NOWHERE? Who has it? NOBODY? McNeil is plagued! Haunted!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Hey, remember when McNeil stopped worrying about the particle collider and decided that invisible soldiers were more of a threat? Well, "D." from Atlanta has sent along an article sure to put the fear back in McNeil's heart where it belongs. Says the article, "In a statement Thursday, the European Organization for Nuclear Research reported for the first time that a 30-ton transformer that cools part of the collider broke." I have no idea what that means! But it can't be good! Run!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
"D." from Atlanta sends in a handy "link" for assuaging McNeil's fears about the particle collider - or "black hole machine" as we've been calling it on the "blog." It's a place to go to see whether "the large hadron collider" has "destroyed the world yet." Here it is: http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/. But "D." has no way of knowing that McNeil has moved on. McNeil is now more frightened of "invisible soldiers." Writes McNeil, "Did you see Larry King? With Bob Woodward? What was he talking about when he was talking about the 'secret weapon' aspect of the surge? I was all like [here McNeil uses a clever, saucy, youthful and profane three-letter acronym expressing confusion or wonderment]. Are they making troops invisible?" McNeil raves on. "I've been hearing about that for about a year now - where they have the capability to project what's behind a person in front of them so you can't see them." Get some rest, McNeil! Everything is going to be fine.
Monday, September 08, 2008
I won't lie to you: McNeil is still concerned about that machine in Switzerland, the one they're going to crank up in a couple of days. The one that, some say, might make a black hole and engulf the earth or whatever. McNeil sends along an article in which a German scientist says that we might not even know for four years! Like, we might be all, "Whew! Nothing happened." Then four years later these little black holes start popping up and that's all she wrote. Thanks for nothing, German scientist! You've just ruined the next four years for everybody. P.S. A surprising number of people act like I'm crazy when I lay the news on them about the black hole machine. So here is a "link" for any disbelievers.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Hey, I was just noticing that the thing that might end the world, you know, that big machine they have over there in Switzerland, the one that McNeil is so worried about (and now I've started getting calls from Mom about it) anyway, I was just noticing that they're going to crank it up on Theresa's birthday. Talk about blowing out the candles. Baby! (Pictured, Switzerland.)
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Welcome once again to "McNeil, Briefly" - our occasional look at all things "McNeil." Lately McNeil has been worried by some science items he read on cnn.com. One involved a machine in Switzerland (I think that's what he said; I wasn't really paying attention). When they push the button in August, it's going to create a black hole and destroy the earth, according to McNeil's interpretation of the article. "How long do you think that'll take?" asked McNeil. "I mean, once they push the button?" We batted some figures back and forth. Some other scientists have come up with a way to be invisible, says McNeil.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
McNeil is concerned. "Do you have 'blog'tigue again?" he asks. No, but he might be forgiven for supposing so. Things have been slow. And any man who leaves a picture of Soupy Sales at the top of his "blog" for so long is exhibiting a certain lack of self-respect. McNeil has volunteered to come to the rescue. His apple tree, which fared so poorly last season, is sprouting blossoms. McNeil may send cell phone pictures of the progress of his apples. He wants to call his new regular feature "Apple's Way," after the forgotten TV show of the same name, to which McNeil has made reference before. We prefer something more in the spirit of McNeil's old column "Jeff McNeil's Island Breezes." Maybe we can work some Yeats into the title. Yeats was all, "the silver apples of the moon" this and "the golden apples of the sun" that. That Yeats!