Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Famous Tootsie Pop

Given recent events, I have different books going at the same time now, and given those same recent events, one of the categories is "books I read in a doctor's waiting room." It's not the same as either book in the other two categories, if you are making a chart. There can never be an overlap. Each of the three (so far) books needs to be of a different size, and to have different qualities. The one I read while taking my blood pressure, for example, requires a sturdy spine, like me, so it can lie flat on a table, like me. I don't lie flat on a table. But we all lie flat on a table one day. That's not the point. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. So I was sitting there reading this one novel in the waiting room when, by a big coincidence, the narrator mentioned the problem for which I was about to see the doctor! Not only that, he cited a probable cause for the problem. And this cause was something in the proximity of which I had recently loitered! Now, this is the kind of coincidence that McNeil and I talk about all the time, all giddy from delight. So when I saw the doctor, I said, "Hey, could this thing be caused by this other thing?" And he said "No." So that was a bust. And the coincidence wasn't so great after all. So why are we here? I don't know. It does give me the liberty to mention that Megan and I have been discussing the devil a pretty good bit lately, and then she asked me a question about the Tarot (an entirely separate discussion, although there is, of course, a card with the devil on it. But that's not what we were talking about for a change). Anyhow, I looked up what Jesse Moynihan has to say about another card, the one under discussion, and I was like, "Huh! Okay!" Then I opened JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHERS to the passage I had been reading... and the devil, in that passage, talks about the VERY SAME IDEAS I had just been reading in Jesse's pamphlet! I'm not saying Jesse is the devil. Far from it! So that was another coincidence. This great tale of life as it is lived in our lively times isn't over yet. Because I had TWO doctor appointments today! I had enough time in between them to stop by Square Books. I was happy to see that Richard Howorth was not just trying to protect my fragile feelings when he said that my books aren't 100% out of print... just 99.999999%! I added that part. They had a big old fresh stack of MOVIE STARS, my troubling masterpiece of short fiction. Lauren Graham raves: "Funny, poetic, vivid, unique. Jack Pendarvis has crafted a collection of gems." I'm not lying! It's on the cover! Go see for yourself. Pick up a few copies for the family. While supplies last! I signed the whole batch, and wrote secret messages in a couple of them. It's like Willy Wonka all over again! Ran into Tom Franklin, who was walking down from the second floor of the bookstore with a young woman to whom he introduced me as "Via Bleidner, Kim Kardashian just bought her book for Netflix." Oh! On the way out of the store, I saw a big poster for the novel I said I couldn't tell you about yet. But I can now, because there's a big poster right there at the front door of Square Books. It's DON'T LET THE DEVIL RIDE (the devil again!), the latest from Ace Atkins! The owl I have been sitting on since January 22, 2023, is... I can now reveal... the owl in the famous Tootsie Pop commercial. Well, I haven't seen the published book yet, just the manuscript, but Ace says he "thinks" the owl is still in there. And I guess you think the story is over. WRONG! Because as I waited for the second doctor, once again reading my "waiting room book" in a different waiting room... well, first I should tell you that I saw a raccoon using a walkway last night. A walkway that a person would use. Like, a narrow sidewalk of sorts. So, anyway, I'm reading this novel again and the narrator is astonished to see "a raccoon using a sidewalk." All right, that's the end.

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Not Literally

Hey! Remember January 22, 2023, when I was reading a manuscript with an owl in it, but I couldn't tell you about it yet? That is not to be confused with a couple of months ago when I was forced to sit on an owl for a while. Not literally! I did not literally sit on a literal owl. But none of this is the point, exactly. You see, I'm reading another manuscript RIGHT NOW with an owl in it! And once again I can't tell you about it. It's not even a manuscript. It's the first part of a projected first draft of a manuscript. And it's by the same person who wrote the first manuscript alluded to above, whose identity I can never, ever reveal until roughly two weeks from now.

Monday, June 03, 2024

Am I Ready to Be Rich?

Funny email from Ward McCarthy, who alerts me that Warner Brothers Discovery (for whom I ironically [?] work now) is rebooting DINNER AND A MOVIE, a slab of packaging originating in the 1990s. I scoured the "internet" for the purposes of this report, to see if there was any evidence that I was one of the co-creators of that work. "Click" here if you would like to see the single puny scrap of corroboration available anywhere on the world wide "web." I wrote Ward back to ask if he was ready to be rich, a hilarious response on many levels, because once we were greeted at Rob Schneider's door by his faithful yes-man, who asked us, before even introducing himself, "Are you ready to be rich?" We were ready to be rich. Alas, the riches were not forthcoming. I hesitate to say more about the circumstances, which involved a different project completely, except that as we sat around with the yes-man, he would say things like, "Okay! Get this! What if our characters had a GIANT bottle of sun tan lotion? Like as big as a house??????!!!???!!?" But that's another story. The other way my remark was so hilarious is due to the fact that DINNER AND A MOVIE was a virtually anonymous work-for-hire, which we did because the other stuff we were doing was so boring, and the prospect of receiving future monies from such an endeavor is hilarious indeed, resulting in sidesplitting chortles from two old chums such as us, you may be sure.

Saturday, June 01, 2024

Kitty... I Love You!

It happened. The other night I finally came across, indisputably, the greatest old comic book among all the old comic books that Tom Franklin has recently given me. As you have already guessed (you haven't), it is about Fly Man. That's right, he has all the powers of a housefly. In addition, he has powers of a couple of other insects thrown in there as a bonus, as well as powers that, while unrelated to insects in any direct way, I chiefly associate with Ant-Man. Now, this Fly Man comic book I've got here came out in 1966, and I really don't know who came first, Ant-Man or Fly Man, but I'm too damn tired all the time to find out. Pardon my strong language. Oh, yeah, he shamelessly rips off Green Lantern, too. But not the way you think! So, Dr. Theresa was trying to sleep, and I was lying there next to her, unable to control maniacal bursts of laughter as I lay there next to her, reading Fly Man dialogue, the sincerity of which I could not measure one way or another. It was beyond definition and reason! With your kind permission, I will quote a few examples here: "IF THERE'S ANYTHING I LOATHE, IT'S A DEDICATION CEREMONIES POOPER!"... "HA, HA, HAA-AAA! HAVE A TON OF BRICKS, ONLOOKERS!"... For context, Fly Man's head appears on a Mt. Rushmore style monument with some other superheroes you've never heard of. The bad guy blows it up, which leads Fly Man to exclaim, "UH-OH! THE BROKEN CHUNKS OF MY OWN STONE FACE... WHIZZING DESTRUCTIVELY TOWARD ME!"... "IN THIS TEENSY SIZE, I CAN SPEEDILY WHIZ IN AND OUT AMONGST THE HURTLING FRAGMENTS"... If you haven't caught on yet, the writers of Fly Man are masters of the adverb, as seen in Fly Man's next word balloon: "BLOCKBUSTER STREAKED OFF, WHILE I WAS BUSILY PROTECTING MYSELF!" Here's Blockbuster, the bad guy, spraying some junk into Fly Man's face, followed by Fly Man's response: "HAVE SOME ESSENCE OF TEMPORARY PARALYSIS!"... "THAT FIENDISH FRAGRANCE HAS PURLOINED MY MOBILITY!" Just a couple more. "WAIT! THAT PUSSYCAT! ORDINARILY, I'M ANNOYED WHENEVER IT KEEPS CONTINUALLY BRUSHING AGAINST ME!" And on the next page, Fly Man says my favorite thing of all, "KITTY... I LOVE YOU!" The backup story in the issue, sadly, does not feature Fly Man. But it does reward us with this bit of dialogue: "OWWWWW! HOW DARE YOU USE CRAB-MAN'S HEAD FOR A TRAMPOLINE?!" The last thing I'll mention is that the publishers run a contest for the readers of Fly Man, including this caveat: "BUY THIS MAGAZINE FOR THE NEXT THOUSAND YEARS TO SEE IF WE PRINT YOUR MASTERPIECE!"

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Neither Nor

Believe it or not, this Polly Adler bio mentions GREEN ACRES. Why wouldn't you believe it? You've never heard of Polly Adler and you've never heard of GREEN ACRES. And yet, for that very reason, it is true that you are capable of neither believing the above revelation nor disbelieving it, any more than you could believe or disbelieve a phrase like "Ikdflakdhfadkfjahdkfjh? Hlkjdkfh 'oifjskfj' sjhdfkjh!" The allusion to which I refer does perfectly illustrate what I have come to call (just now) "the GREEN ACRES problem," for the biographer can think of no better way to describe the show than as a "lowbrow classic," making sure, as part of an ongoing, if possibly unconscious, conspiracy among our nation's higher institutions to never, never let GREEN ACRES receive praise without some sort of distancing qualification, even though I have proven (for example, with my famous "GREEN ACRES or Ionesco?" quiz, which, though rejected for publication by McSweeney's, remains a legitimate brain puzzler, a fact that should be highly instructive) that there is no shame, no "guilty pleasure" aspect to GREEN ACRES that need give the conscientious egghead reason to hide appreciation of it under a bushel of equivocation, to paraphrase Matthew 5:15. If viewing this on your laptop, Laura Lippman, please "click" on the label "GREEN ACRES" below for more reflections along the same line. The mobile version of the "blog" is sadly lacking in such illuminating extras.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Alien Corpuscles

Hi, Sara! (I think Sara is reading the "blog" now. And just the other day I received a thoughtful note from the very nice fellow who used to book me for readings at the Metairie Library, which [the email] indicated in passing that he has been keeping up with the "blog." For a long time, McNeil and I have assumed that he [McNeil] was the only one still reading it, but if Sara is really onboard, that instantly triples my numbers.) ANYHOW! Sara, you will be interested to learn that I once wondered here whether Deadman, a superhero who can cram his soul into other people's bodies, would be able to possess Superman, who is not in essence a human person, but rather a freaky alien from a distant world. Well! One of these old comic books that Tom gave me answers the question, as Deadman does slip, without seeming difficulty, into Superman's skin. It also addresses my biggest concern - in life! - in a satisfyingly direct manner, as something turns out to be a little off with the possession, leading Deadman to conclude that Superman's "alien corpuscles" (his phrase, not mine) are to blame. This is off the subject, if there is one, but on the next page, someone engages in the hopeless task of trying to take out Superman with a wrecking ball. Superman says (and please note, Sara, dialogue in comic books is written in all caps, or was, when I was but a youthful, towheaded imp) "YOU'RE A REAL 'SWINGER,' WHOEVER YOU ARE... SO HAVE A 'BALL!'" Then he smashes the guy with his own wrecking ball, the ultimate insult. Who does he think he is with a crack like that, Arnold Schwarzenegger? Ha ha ha! Oh, Superman! (Almost the title of a Laurie Anderson song.) All right. Also in this issue, Deadman is addressed by three giant owls, who say things like "EVEN IN THE COLD HOUSE OF DEATH, YOU ARE STILL A BOILING CAULDRON!" But this is a WORLD'S FINEST comic, and I have already catalogued that publication according to its owl usage, so further cataloguing in the form of this "post" is just a little icing on the cake, and not strictly necessary. Familiarize yourself with these rules, Sara! (I close by adding that the gigantic nature of the owls is nothing more than a trick of forced perspective. When carefully considered, they appear to be regular owls, excepting their ability to talk to ghosts.)

Friday, May 24, 2024

Doom and So On

I was chatting with Megan this morning through the medium of email about a Mark Rothko book I picked up at Square Books the other day. Its subject is the paintings he did on paper rather than canvas, and it features many vivid color-plate reproductions. Rothko is quoted in the introductory essay, of course, often saying the kind of stuff that Megan and I are partial to, as I am sure you will recall ("click" here) from the time we got all in a tizzy over something Bellini said about opera. I'll give you a couple of examples! 1. "I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on." 2. "If a thing is worth doing once, it is worth doing over and over again." End of examples. Moving on to other artistic matters, a lot of these old comic books that Tom Franklin brought over are horror comics, a genre I read a little bit of as a kid, but not too much, after a story in either HOUSE OF MYSTERY or HOUSE OF SECRETS (I think) about a guy who turned out to have goat legs shook me up pretty bad. Which brings up something I've noticed... these old comic books, and not just the horror ones, either, really do have an awful lot of the devil in them, just like the Sunday school teachers used to say! I was wrong to scoff! But I'm sure you've guessed what I'm getting at. So, I was reading this one THE WITCHING HOUR last night, and there's a story in it about "coffin inspectors," which I didn't know was a job. You can learn a lot from the old comic books that Tom Franklin gives you! The coffin inspectors are marching along in the first panel, singing a song that goes like this (and, once again, I quote): "OOHOOHHOOO OH, HO! OH, HO! WHEN THE MOON IS GIBBOUS AND THE OWL CRIES FOUL... THEN WE'LL DIG AND SHARE THE WEALTH OF THOSE WHO NO LONGER DRINK... THE RED, RED WINE... OF LIIIIIIIIIFE!!!" I can't say that's much of a song, but it does have an owl in it. Yes, there are eight I's in LIIIIIIIIFE, I counted them several times in the interest of accuracy. Oh, and I get it now, they're graverobbers. Why, there's no such thing as a coffin inspector after all! In my defense, Ace and Angela came over last night for a special screening of Dr. Theresa's favorite TV show, QUINCY, M. E., and afterward, tuckered out from all the Quincy enjoyment, I did no more than glance at the first panel (after reading a previous story in the same issue, which I had trouble following, about the devil attacking a Swiss town - it ended as abruptly as SIMON OF THE DESERT! [which also featured the devil]) just enough to notice the owl before succumbing to slumber with a Quincy-like smile on my cherubic face. In conclusion, I don't mean to brag, but TECHNICIANS OF THE SACRED does have more owls in it, just as I predicted. If the numbers hold up, there should be an owl every 4.5 pages. One more thing. Goat legs (see above) make me think of a line that Dr. Theresa and I are always quoting to one another. It comes from one of those "true stories of the paranormal" shows. They were interviewing a couple of guys from Texas, I think, who saw a creature in the woods with "the head of a goat and the body of a jacked-up man." That's it. We say it a lot. Try it out at home! "The head of a goat and the body of a jacked-up man."