Friday, April 16, 2021

I Choose to Believe

In this book about the making of the film GIANT, the author describes a photo of Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean, in which James Dean "looks like a small boy - or Jerry Lewis." Now, am I going to search for the photo in question, in order to ascertain the veracity of the author's description? No way! I don't want to ruin my happy dream. I will point out, however, that the "blog" has already noted the similarity of Jerry Lewis and James Dean ("click" here). I know you won't "click" there. How I hate you!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

I'll Never Know

I don't "blog" anymore, but I do mark it down whenever I read a book with an owl in it, because who else is going to bother? So Megan and I are reading a book about the making of the film GIANT, and director George Stevens refers to watching the dailies as "the owl show." Am I sure exactly what he means by that? Not 100%. Do I know whether it is an old show biz expression or just something that popped out of the mouth of George Stevens? Truth be told, I do not. Am I going to go to the trouble of looking it up? Nope.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

The Old Wood Owl Trick

Upon the recommendation of Lee Durkee, I read the new novel by Ethan Hawke. In it, a narrator who is definitely NOT Ethan Hawke (wink, wink) tells about being in a Shakespeare play, and how he has to really make himself THINK he's in the barn where his character is supposed to be. He has to FEEL it, he has to SMELL the hay, he has to HEAR the wood owl. Please understand, the overly dramatic caps are mine, not Ethan Hawke's, but the "wood owl" is accurate, Ethan Hawke really said "wood owl," making his novel a "book with an owl in it," which is something I keep track of due to a sad old habit, the origins of which no living person can tell. A couple of pages later, after most (not I) would have forgotten the wood owl, he's like (I'll paraphrase), "At this point in the speech, I might pretend to hear something. Oh, it's just the wood owl!" He's really making that imaginary wood owl work for its money. (See also.)

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Huge News

I keep meaning to mention that Square Books has new bookmarks. I am speaking of the free bookmarks that come tucked in your purchase, which have evolved over the years. I'm sure you all recall with fond weeping the column I used to have entitled "Bookmarkin'! with Jack Pendarvis," in which I would... what would I do? I think I would recommend which bookmark should go with which book. But then I had an epiphany...? Does that sound right? Anyway, this epiphany, if that's what it was, rendered "Bookmarkin'! with Jack Pendarvis" sadly obsolete. But I still like to tell you when Square Books ups their bookmark game. I haven't visited the store in person since the beginning of our current terrible times, opting for their excellent delivery service instead, but this new bookmark is getting me all worked up for the times to come.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Long Road to Owl Town

Am I "blogging" again? I honestly can't tell. But I know one thing! I do "blog" every time I read a book with an owl in it, because I have to add it to my long list of books I have read with owls in them, which I started keeping for reasons that are lost to history. Anyhow! This time we have a book with a book with an owl in it in it, which I think we've had before, but I'm tired. Maybe I'll try to look that up one day. It's a long way to our latest owl! It's complicated. Get yourself a drink. Get comfortable! Here we go. So! You know that Megan Abbott and I have formed between ourselves a little club, in which we read what I will loosely call celebrity biographies. Well! Now we are reading one about Louise Fitzhugh, the author who created Harriet the Spy. Everyone is in her circle, or in her circle's circle. To present just one small example, the last person I was forced to "blog" about, for entirely different reasons, was George Segal, and then his brother, of all people, pops up in this book! That's nothing. But I'm not here to talk about the exciting things. All I want to tell you is that one of Louise Fitzhugh's girlfriends was friends with a woman who dated Patricia Highsmith. So, after these two (Patricia Highsmith and Louise Fitzhugh's girlfriend's friend) broke up, they both wrote books in which they murdered characters based on each other! Patricia Highsmith's ex-girlfriend murdered her (figuratively) with a hammer, and Patricia Highsmith returned the favor (by other literary means) in a book titled THE CRY OF THE OWL. Hey! As long as I'm here, I'll tell you something else. What the hell. Louise Fitzhugh lights Janet Gaynor's cigarette, which transaction produces much the same magical benediction as when someone lights William Holden's cigarette in THE MOVIEGOER, the latter incident covered almost too thoroughly in my lamented nonfiction book about cigarette lighters.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Spy Sandwich

Last night I watched some of THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM. Two of your immediate questions might be, "What's that?" and "Why?" As to the latter, who the hell knows why I do anything. For example, I used to "blog," but then I quit, but then I started up again to cheer the world during a time of tribulation, but now I don't know whether or not I have quit again because in my opinion the world has been cheered up enough. But! One time when I surely "blog" is whenever I see something I should have included in my nonfiction book about cigarette lighters, which no one remembers, including me. To make a long story short (ha ha!) George Segal approaches Alec Guinness to ask for a light, and Alec Guinness produces his cigarette lighter, and they engage in some seemingly innocent banter, but it is all a secret way of saying, "Are you the spy I am supposed to meet? Because I am a spy also." And the answer: "Yes, I am a spy. Would you like a sandwich?" (Alec Guinness offers fellow spy George Segal a sandwich.) Now, there was a whole section of my cigarette lighter book about spies using lighters in their spy business, not limited to, but including, as a way to start a secret spy conversation. I had a whole epigraph about it, if I'm not mistaken. Every chapter had an epigraph! That's the kind of book we're talking about. No wonder I can't remember it. The epigraph, I do recall, came courtesy of Ace Atkins, thanks to his extensive knowledge of the James Bond franchise.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Just What He Had In Mind


"Only connect," said E.M. Forster, and this is just the kind of thing he had in mind: I've been dipping into that book about the CIA, and yesterday the author included, for no real reason at all, the details of one specific sexual encounter between John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich, which was also featured, more understandably, in a biography of John Wayne I read some years ago. Anyway, it was weird. Not the encounter, just its recurrence, verging on non sequitur, in a book about the CIA.