Saturday, July 04, 2020

Potato Patch Dilemma

You very well know that I have an inexplicable compulsion to maintain a list of every book I read that has an owl in it. What you may not be AS aware of is that Megan Abbott just sent me an early birthday present... a collection of NANCY comic strips by Olivia Jaimes. I am delighted to tell you that in one of the strips, Nancy attempts to ward off a groundhog from her potato patch by means of one of those plastic owls we run into from time to time as we enjoy our literature.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Important New Project

You know, in these crazy times of isolation we need something to keep our brains working. So, I was watching CACTUS FLOWER and - no offense to this gentleman (above, left) - I thought the actor playing Goldie Hawn's neighbor simply wasn't of the caliber of the rest of the cast. Even the smallest parts were filled by great character actors like Vito Scotti. So I set myself the task of figuring out who should have played Goldie Hawn's neighbor. My thoughts went immediately, as they do, to Jim Hutton, but he's about five years too old, and way too tall. Next, Rip Torn entered my mind... an unusual choice, you will say, but I recalled him as Bob Hope's romantic rival in CRITIC'S CHOICE. He's even older than Jim Hutton, though! And they're both sadly deceased, which is beside the point. Well, I've got McNeil, Jimmy, Bill, Megan, and Ace working on this. I'll let you know what happens.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Two Things

If you know anything about me, you know that 1) Megan Abbott and I have read about 60 celebrity biographies together and 2) years ago I wrote a book about cigarette lighters, and occasionally I learn something about a cigarette lighter that would have fit neatly into that book, but it's too late, and anyway, the world is ending. So! I just read that during the original run of Stephen Sondheim's COMPANY, Elaine Stritch had a cigarette lighter onstage filled with booze, just in case she needed a snort. I don't know how big this cigarette lighter was, or, indeed, if its existence was anything more than a rumor, or how one might inconspicuously drink from a cigarette lighter onstage.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Wonderland of Weeds

I guess it was two months ago I was sitting around the house wondering what the hell a weed is, exactly. Then I remembered (two months ago) that I have a whole book about weeds. I could see it across the room from me at the very moment I asked the question out loud to Dr. Theresa: "What is a weed, anyway?" I think she had mentioned something about pulling weeds. Then I said, "Never mind! I have a whole book about weeds! I'll see if that book will tell me what a weed is." So anyway, I thought about it for two months and this morning I finally made the effort to pull that book off the shelf - WEEDS OF THE SOUTH by Charles T. Bryson and Michael S. DeFelice, with photographs by Arlyn W. Evans - and I opened to the introduction, and I'll be damned if it didn't say "Any plant can be a weed in one situation and unobtrusive or even desirable in another." WHAT! Are you trying to blow my mind, Charles T. Bryson and Michael S. DeFelice? Because mission accomplished! Are you telling me some dude could look at a full-grown pumpkin and say "Yep, that's a weed," and you'd be cool with it? Okay! I believe you. I flipped through a couple of pages, and the "toxic properties" of each weed, if any, are listed, and damned if I didn't come across two weeds in a row that can cause depression! And then I thought about Arlyn W. Evans, lovingly photographing each weed and breathing in its toxic properties.

Sunday, May 24, 2020


In THE LOVE PARADE, Maurice Chevalier marries the queen of a country and then he gets sad because he doesn't have anything to do. So anyway, the queen takes out a cigarette and Maurice Chevalier leaps up to fetch a lighter. He tries several times, but the lighter doesn't work. Then he begins to beam with joy! He declares that he has found a purpose in life, yes, he is going to fix this lighter. Anyway, there was a whole part of my cigarette lighter book about how lighters that don't work are symbolic. Symbolic! Right again, Pendarvis. You know, my cigarette lighter book came out four years ago, and I don't care about cigarette lighters anymore, and I don't care about my cigarette lighter book anymore, but these are crazy times.

Friday, May 22, 2020

My Job

My job for the DUNE book club (not to be confused with the Doomed Book Club) is to count up to the epigraph where we're going to stop each week. You see, the author of DUNE did not see fit to number his chapters! Each chapter does start with an epigraph, so, for example, this week we're going to stop at the epigraph that begins "There is no escape." Let it be said that I've never once counted the correct number of epigraphs in all my tenure as the official epigraph counter of the DUNE book club. I flip a page too hastily and miss an epigraph, or something distracts me, or something. This time I forgot how many epigraphs I had counted because as I rapidly made my way, an owl caught my eye! You are by now well aware of my conviction that every book has an owl in it, and my compulsion to record the evidence. Not only did the owl in DUNE catch my eye, but in that split second as I raced past the page, the number of epigraphs I had already counted lost to me forever, I recognized that the owl in DUNE comes from a Biblical owl quotation we have discussed on this "blog" before!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Hot News From Providence

I'm sure you remember my friend Judge. She used to tell me how surprisingly big softballs are in Chicago! Maybe she moved to Rhode Island! I'm basing that on the title of her email. You know, back when I used to "blog," she would send me snapshots that captured the very vibrancy of life itself. And she's back at it! Just take a look. Here is an image, intriguing even in ordinary circumstances, that can be read in a number ways in our strange modern times, about which I offer no further comment at this juncture.