Thursday, November 30, 2006
Just the other day I was entertaining Mr. McNeil with a charming tale of my first lunch box, which featured the Banana Splits (left). This lunch box, as I recalled it, was not made of metal. It was white vinyl. Though we were talking about the late sixties, when everything was made of white vinyl, Mr. McNeil scoffed. Look, neither of us has much going on right now, okay? If I were an architect or something, building a hospital, say, I wouldn't be here "blogging" about my old lunch boxes, would I? Long story short, Mr. McNeil took to the "internet" to prove me a liar about my white vinyl lunch box - days later! Days after the fact! Out of pure spite! And what did he find? The lunch box of my youth, selling for $300 on ebay. To be fair, in the same conversation Mr. McNeil described an awful disease he had heard about on NPR, and I'm afraid I gave an impression of doubtfulness because really it sounded too awful to be true. I won't talk it about here, because I don't want to bring everybody "down."
Some things just beg to be "blogged" about. One such thing is the movie CACTUS FLOWER. When I turned it on today (thanks to a tip from McNeil Central) I saw Goldie Hawn, as a record store employee, standing in front of two large smiling heads of Buck Owens (they were on album covers). As you know, Mr. Owens has been a serious object of "blog" contemplation - or "blog"templation, as I call it in my special language of "blogging." But the astounding coincidences didn't end there. Next thing you know, Walter Matthau and Ms. Hawn were off to see a movie: the Zefferelli version of ROMEO AND JULIET, which happens to be a film on which my friend Eugene Walter worked. CACTUS FLOWER is a perfect example of what Jeff McNeil and I would like to discuss in our non-existent coffee table/scholarly research book HIPSTER HEGEMONY, which is, of course, about the way that "subversive" culture was absorbed and repackaged by mainstream comedies of the 60s. I have been told by many people that it's a terrible idea for a book... but you know, it's fantastic for "blogging." Consider the scene in which Goldie Hawn, Ingrid Bergman, Walter Matthau and Jack Weston end up at a hip new joint, The Slipped Disc. Listen to the fake rock-n-roll in the background. At several points, including this one, a muzak version of "I'm a Believer" crops up in the score of CACTUS FLOWER. We could talk about the Monkees for awhile in a similar connection, but I see that this is already becoming one of those "posts" that "need" paragraph breaks, because people become so weary and confused in this lonesome desert we call "blogging." What was I saying? Oh, yes. Someone should compile a CD box set of fake groovy rock from swinging sixties movies. A band that particularly fascinates Mr. McNeil is this sort of mushy psychedelic gang called The Comfortable Chair. I believe Mr. McNeil was on the losing end of an ebay auction for their LP, which was produced by a couple of members of the Doors. The Comfortable Chair play a key role in the Bob Hope/Jackie Gleason film HOW TO COMMIT MARRIAGE, a seminal text in Hipster Hegemony studies. According to HOW TO COMMIT MARRIAGE, The Comfortable Chair live together in a single apartment and share all their belongings communist-style. This is not an accessible Bob Hope film. He made many legitimately hilarious movies, and some decent, pleasant workhorses, then some that are wonderful in a "bad" way... and then there is HOW TO COMMIT MARRIAGE. It may be truly abominable. And I love Bob Hope. It's hypnotic, is what it is. Mr. McNeil may have more to say on the subject of HOW TO COMMIT MARRIAGE in the future.
I woke up this morning thinking that I have misled you twice about Eugene the Jeep. I'm pretty sure I STILL haven't shown you a Segar Jeep. The little fellow in the previous "post" looks an awful lot like the Jeep as portrayed in one of the Fleischer cartoons. Not the black-and-white ones, but the seldom-scene color ones that lasted, I believe, fifteen minutes or so... real epics! Look, I don't know. I seem to recall watching a cartoon where the Jeep eats flowers. I know there was one about Goon Island, I'm sure about that, but that has nothing to do with Eugene the Jeep. He's not from Goon Island, are you crazy? Goons live on Goon Island! Look, I'm going to be straight with you. "Blogs" are completely unreliable as sources of information. Anyway, I'm going to try one last time. I'm not swearing that the little fellow to the left is a Segar drawing. I'm not sure. I'm not sure of anything anymore.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I had planned to retire, then I realized my horrible, horrible mistake. I should have illustrated my recent "post" about Popeye NOT with a cruddy 1960s Charlton comic book cover and its gross misrepresentation of Eugene the Jeep, but rather with an example of the work of the great E.C. Segar. Here, then, I rectify the situation with a Segar rendition of the Jeep. Also, I'm sorry I use the word "great" so much. It puts me in mind of what a poet once said. I mean, everything can't be great, can it? But Popeye is. Nonetheless, the word has now been abolished from the "blog" like others before it. Finally, I recently used the phrase "steely reserve." I believe the proper cliche is "steely resolve." Okay. Now I can sleep. Good night, "blog"!
This "post" goes out as a long distance dedication to "Blog" Buddy Barry B. A few years ago I was riding around in Barry's car listening to a great CD called 100% Dynamite! (exclamation point included in the original title). This bit of good fortune led to my own purchase of "600% Dynamite!" - a compilation, like the earlier version, of Jamaican dance music. Other than Gilbert & Sullivan, 600% Dynamite! turned out to be the most requested music on our recent car trip. It never gets old! You can listen to it a dozen times in a row and still bob up and down. So I have Barry B. to thank for that. The best thing about it is what the title implies: that there are, at the very least, 200, 300, 400, and 500% Dynamite!s to enjoy in the future. Check out this series from Soul Jazz records. And tell them some jerk with a "blog" sent you! Something else made me think of good old Barry B. today... I was over at Criminal Records and saw that Fantagraphics has put out some of the old Popeye comics by E.C. Segar... this first volume contains his THIMBLE THEATRE strip from 1928-1931. It's a wonderful piece of narrative and visual art... great storytelling by any standard. Now I don't think there's a bigger Popeye fan than Barry B., who especially appreciates the longer-form Max Fleischer full color cartoons from the '30s (I think - Barry could tell you the exact dates). So heads up, Barry! Hey, speaking of Popeye, Jim Ruland ("the 'Blog' Buddy Who Served in the U.S. Navy"), who has used Popeye as a character in his short fiction, has been "blogging" about Thomas Pynchon lately. Check it out! So... read some Popeye, reconsider Pynchon and listen to some nice music from Jamaica... all at the same time. That's the way the kids do it these days! They're crazy, the kids they have nowadays, with the video games and everything.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
So, when my wife, my sister and I traveled down to Alabama for Thanksgiving we listened to a lot of Gilbert & Sullivan in the car. We listened to THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE (my sister's favorite) once and THE MIKADO (my wife's favorite) three times. I would explain how we ended up with such a lopsided (in THE MIKADO's favor) listening experience but it would be even duller than the dullest thing ever "blogged" on a "blog." I will say that I was reminded of the pleasing jauntiness of Gilbert & Sullivan and how much fun they are, and it put me in mind of the time I may have seemed harsh toward them in a "humor" piece. My actual target was a certain kind of music journalism, which also led me to call Bob Dylan (in the same piece) "the greatest dead songwriter." And I love Mr. Dylan, too! You had to be there. The joke was, mainly, that there's an unwritten rock journalism rule that Bob Dylan has to be number one on every single list of every kind. In any case, something interesting happened (I am now far off the Gilbert & Sullivan track). Someone from USA Today was interviewing Bob Dylan and asked if he knew that Paste magazine had called him the "greatest dead songwriter." Then, according to the article, Bob Dylan laughed! What I'm saying is, I made Bob Dylan laugh - in an extremely roundabout, indirect, meaningless way (my joke taken completely out of context and paraphrased by a third party who seemingly didn't even "get" it) that would never stand up in a court of law, and yet it's the coolest thing I've ever done. Put it on my tombstone, boys! And oh yes, try to find a copy of the Mike Leigh film TOPSY-TURVY. Jim Broadbent should have received an Oscar or something for his portrayal of W.S. Gilbert.
Jeff McNeil would like the world to set its alarms for 2pm EST Thursday afternoon, when the Fox Movie Channel will show the Jerry Lewis film WAY... WAY OUT. Note the ellipses! Such fanciful touches were popular in 1966, when the film was made. That year was also big on smuttiness! You'll find it by the boatload in WAY... WAY OUT! Other things to watch for: Dick Shawn's performance as the cosmonaut, which accomplishes the rare feat of stealing the torch of zaniness from Jerry himself. And of course, keep your eyes peeled for the hubba hubba Anita Ekberg, who also appears in PARIS HOLIDAY, starring another "blog" favorite, Mr. Bob Hope. Note: PARIS HOLIDAY is not for the Bob Hope novice. It requires a certain steely reserve! Leonard Maltin, by the way, calls WAY... WAY OUT a "BOMB." Why so hurtful, Mr. Maltin? Don't rob us of our funny.
So our friend L. will be hard at work at her keyboard when she'll hear someone behind her say "Hey." Sometimes it will be someone who needs assistance. Other times it will be a certain co-worker, who, when L. turns around, will lift up his shirt to expose his big old soft belly. High jinks! This has been one of a series of reports on the modern world of today.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Hi! I spent five hours on the phone today with four different nice "computer" people. At the end of the five hours, the advice turned out to be "unplug that one thing and plug it in the other thing." Anyway, thank the Lord I can "blog" again! But while I wait for a special "gizmo" to arrive in the "mail" I have to "blog" in an unbecoming and accutely painful "hunched over" position. But "blog" I shall, world! "BLOG" I SHALL! Tomorrow, you can expect "blogs" about Gilbert & Sullivan, the long awaited definition of West Indies salad, and a weird thing done by a co-worker of L., our secret corporate "Blog" Buddy. And maybe I will tell you about my telephone communication with Jeff McNeil. First he said he was glad to have the "blog" back, because when it's gone, there's "nothing on the internet." THEN he insulted the dinner I was having when he called, saying that pasta with butternut squash didn't "sound like something a man would eat"! First he makes with the nice-nice then he's pulling the old switcheroo. He's complicated. That's today's "blogging" tip: People are complicated!
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Caroline Young checks in to tell us that Robert Altman died while we were on "blog"cation. This is very sad news. Only very occasionally are we moved to produce a sad "post." But Mr. Altman made some of our favorite movies. At the end of his final movie, the last frames of which (I'm going to give something away now) are filled with the white trenchcoat of the lovely angel of death as she comes closer and closer to the camera, the audience, the screen, I told my sister that Mr. Altman was trying to tell us something, and I was worried and nervous. My favorite Altman movie is either NASHVILLE or MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER. Theresa loves THE LONG GOODBYE the most by far. He made plenty of other movies that are just as good as those. But even his supposedly "lesser" movies are just crammed with treasure: A WEDDING, CALIFORNIA SPLIT, BUFFALO BILL & THE INDIANS... some people hate those. It's a free country! I think they're beautiful gems. (Let me say right now that the "internet" is nothing but strangers giving out their opinions - sorry! I started because my publisher told me to and now I do it because I have a serious problem. And why should you care how I feel about Robert Altman? But anyway...) Go find your own favorite. Lucky for all of us, there are many to choose from and they reward repeated viewings. Take it from me, an anonymous stranger with a "blog"!
Monday, November 20, 2006
Well, that certainly was a short hiatus, wasn't it? One final bit of urgent news popped up. It seems that the course description for Theresa's class has gone up on her departmental web site. Check it out! In a related matter, Theresa would like to thank "M" of the Ivan Bonar Appreciation Society for alerting her that Patty Hearst will guest-star on this Tuesday's episode of Veronica Mars. We're always looking out for one another in the I.B.A.S.!
It's time for another exciting "blog" contest. All you have to do is figure out, from the clues provided, the method by which the Ivan Bonar Appreciation Society chooses what films to view, and the titles of all five films the Society has watched so far. To help you along, the first and final film titles have been provided for you. Remember, there's a great prize for the first correct answer we receive: a DVD of THE STOOGE starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. See you after Thanksgiving!
Well, it's been a banner week for the "blog," with record numbers of "postings." How sad. A certain kind of decay, followed by a certain kind of fatigue, is indicated. This is the traditional time of year when people relax and catch up on their "blog" reading. With that in mind, the "blog" is taking a breather for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. As usual, however, we will present a "fun activity" so you don't miss the "blog" too much. Last night was the fifth meeting of the Ivan Bonar Appreciation Society, a secret club of which Theresa and I are members. Among the other members we are proud to count a farmer and a surfer. I can say no more about our activities. Okay, we watch movies. The first movie we watched was JUNEBUG. Last night we watched PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID. Believe it or not, I have just given you all the clues you need for our holiday "fun activity." Details to follow. (Pictured, the real Pat Garrett.)
As you know, dear "blog" reader, I have been called on the carpet by the powers that be for not writing about things that women supposedly like, or, more accurately, for writing too much about things that women (by far the majority of the "reading public") supposedly DON'T like. In my own defense, I would like to present to you this woman I found on the internet, who loves Aquaman very, very much. I realize that she represents what scientists scoffingly call "anecdotal evidence," but I am not a scientist. By God I am a "blogger."
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Hey, they gave me an honorarium at that art thing. I was surprised! They slipped it into my palm smoothly, during a handshake, much as I had tried to tip my barber the other day, but I did a clumsy job. Well, I went out and bought myself the Martin and Lewis Box Set, Vol. 1, with my honorarium. First I looked for it at the neighborhood store where I like to buy my DVDs, CDs, and magazines. But they didn't have it, so I was forced back to the "big chain," where, by the way, those eight copies of my book are STILL THERE, people, as if being stockpiled for the apocalypse. Anyway, what does all this mean to you, the loyal "blog" reader? Pretty much it means that I now own an extra copy of the Martin and Lewis comedy-melodrama THE STOOGE, so the next time we have a big "blog" contest, that's going to be the prize. I hear America sharpening its pencils!
I was sitting in the car in the grocery store parking lot and I saw a young white man walking along with his shopping cart, only he was pulling it by its side rather than pushing it by its handle and he was talking on his cell phone at the same time. He was wearing possibly fancy sunglasses and a yin-and-yang t-shirt and he was smiling a big smile and screaming into his cell phone, "Right on! Excellent! Go for it!" He was just some happy dude going about his business.
It has come to my attention that there are now twelve "blog"mandments, not nine, as previously reported. Please print these out and paste them in a scrapbook, or tape them to the wall over your computer. 1. Simply "click" on a highlighted word or phrase to be sent to a "link." 2. The internet is full of information. Check it out. 3. Check your favorite "blog" often or you might miss something. 4. It's okay for friends to disagree! 5. Remember: Cyclopes is the plural of Cyclops. 6. Life is not always about "blogs"! 7. Ask yourself before "blogging": How would Webern "blog"? 8. Get some Webern! 9. Use the word "blog" to create new words containing the word "blog." Think of the Smurfs and you will know what to do. 10. Support the arts! 11. It takes all kinds. 12. The depiction of a vice does not imply endorsement on the part of the depicter.
The indisputable fact that I "posted" a picture of a kitten playing a guitar does not make me an advocate of "twee" in any form. May I use "twee" as a noun? In any case, this is a problem for all forms of great literature, such as "novels," "operettas," and "blogs." And that's today's "blogging" tip: We must not confuse the depiction of a vice with an endorsement of it!
Speaking of the "google," I've been meaning to bring something up for a long time. Back on October 23, everybody got in a tizzy when the President used the word "the" before the word "google." People were excited and concerned! It was really something! Holy cow! But may I please ask you to cast your minds back to October 8? I believe you will find it abundantly clear that I used the term "the 'google'" a good TWO WEEKS before the President. I am not asking for an apology from the President, although it would be gentlemanly - just a simple acknowledgement, or a medal.
Nobody helped me with "twee." Sometimes I think I'm "blogging" in a vacuum. But that's okay! Thanks to our modern "internet," friends are a welcome luxury, but hardly a necessity! Just by doing the "google" I found 82,100,000 matches for "twee" and I read every one of them. But one stands out as the most helpful and succinct. It may also explain why "twee" does not appear in my very American dictionary. Thanks, "internet." You're a true friend made of metal and wires.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Everyone had a good time with the art tonight. My advice is get to know some art people. They'll treat you like a king! A teenager of our acquaintance came to see the art. He thought that Hubcap City's set-up was an exhibit. He can hardly be blamed, as that particular band employs an axe, a saw, a child-sized rocking chair, some brass bowls, some garbage can lids, and some other exciting objects as instruments. When they began to play, our teenage chum professed his delight, saying admiringly that Hubcap City sounded like "a witch's funeral." Le mot juste! Okay, the last thing I should say is that when I recommended The Awesome Glass Bricks of Mystery maybe I wasn't paying complete attention. For example, I don't think there's any glass involved. There ARE, however, more dead animals than I might have imagined. Somehow they escaped me on my first go-round. Dead birds, dead reptiles, and perhaps most memorably, some squashed and varnished rats on a bed of lima beans. I'm just saying. Hey, it's art, that's what art is. I'm not sure how I missed those rats before. Anyway, I had to tell you.
My friend Jim Whorton accuses me (jocularly) of "burying the lead" in every form of communication in which I engage. So I'm just going to mention tonight's event one more time. Sorry for the "hard sell"! But anyway, now it will be up here at the top of the "blog" where everyone can see it.
Hey, if you're reading the smooth and saucy Francis Steegmuller translation of Madame Bovary, don't read the introduction, even though it's at the front of the book. The first sentence gives everything away! I mean, I "knew," but I didn't want to KNOW. I still love you, Mr. Steegmuller.
So, my hair had gotten pretty shaggy and required a large amount of shampoo. I got my hair cut yesterday. But today I forgot and used a lot of shampoo, when a small squirt would have been sufficient. What a crazy mix-up! Lord I love "blogging."
Don't forget the art show tonight. Seven o'clock on the dot. I'll be providing more art than you can shake a stick at. I won't be bringing any books to sell because that's not what art is all about. Also I don't have any. I guess if you brought one and asked me to sign it I'd be nice, though. I'm not some jerk.
All my cute remarks about an "imaginary anthology" have become kind of quaint and precious and twee, and so we're striking them from the record... or at least we're going to resist them in the future. But man did I read a good short story today. It's called "Two Words" and it's by Molly Giles. I found it in the 2003 O. Henry Prize Stories anthology. It's worth seeking out. Hey, is "twee" a word? What does it mean? It's not in my dictionary, but I'm sure it's a word. I'm going to ask some of my linguistically minded "Blog" Buddies to write in and tell me why "twee" does not appear in my 1981 Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. I believe Phil Oppenheim may have even used it in conversation the other day. That reminds me of another good word that's not in the dictionary: blee. I ran across it in the Burton translation of the Arabian Nights tales a few years ago. Burton described a djinn as being "black of blee." My friend Jon Host found "blee" in an early-20th-century dictionary. It meant "countenance," I think. Is this "blogging"? I'm still not sure.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
You know how I usually tell you to buy my book from your local independent bookseller? I really mean it. But there's a problem I must address. There's no other way to say it: The Barnes and Noble on the corner of Caroline and Moreland in Atlanta has WAY TOO MANY COPIES of my book. Eight! There are eight copies sitting there, just gathering dust on the shelf. Somebody go over there and buy them, I can't stand it anymore. Why would they even have that many copies? To mock me? So anyway, when I found out that I was supposed to bring some of my own books to the library event, I started scrambling around town, seeing if I could work something out. I don't have any extra copies here at home. That's when I came across the inexplicable eight copies. They're just sitting there like a slap in the face! Or eight slaps in the face. If you like, you should buy them and donate them to one of your local independent used bookstores. Wouldn't that be nice of you? Redistribute the wealth! Well, the "B&N" guy was pleasant and thoughtful and gave me several business cards and said I could hand them to the people who came up to me after the reading. But he neglected to think of one thing: NOBODY CAME UP TO ME! That's not entirely true. The people at the library were as nice as could be. The organizers of the event even gave each reader a really nice, fancy Cross writing pen. But I didn't meet anyone who seemed so desperate for my book that I needed to shove a business card in his or her hand. Which is why I had the cards in my pocket earlier and one of them stabbed me. Actually, one guy came up to me and asked for my autograph, and took out a little pad. And I said, "You just want me to sign my name?" And the guy said, "Yeah." And I said, "On this pad?" And he said, "Sign it on your book." So I got confused and signed my own copy of my book and gave it to him. I felt glad about that, really. It was kind of fun. But I'm going to check that "B&N" again soon, and I expect to see some action, people. That's only if you've already tried A Cappella and they're sold out.
BACHELOR FLAT, whom we had confused with Jim Hutton. Looks like the joke is on us! Our old minds are going. Meanwhile, the donnybrook was repeatedly interrupted by an unidentifiable noise, which turned out to be Theresa's eyes rolling. I'm a sad old man.
Remember when I was boasting about the classiness of my "Blog" Buddies? One bit of proof I cited was the appearance of Amanda Stern's visage in a recent issue of the New York Times Magazine. I could not "link" to that photograph at the time, because that would have required you, the trusting "blog" reader, to "register" with the New York Times, filling out scads of legalistic forms and other assorted mumbo jumbo. And as you know, I just don't dig Big Brother, man. But now Ms. Stern has "posted" that photo on her own homepage, so you can see for yourself that I wasn't fabricating anything, and you can see it without the "man" trying to "bring you down."
Just as I predicted, Jeff McNeil will be recording BACHELOR FLAT today, thanks to his grasp of modern technology, while I'm off somewhere getting my hair cut and missing the whole thing. Remind me to tell you about the book that Jeff and I want to write, entitled Hipster Hegemony (that title came to us courtesy of my pal DJ Gnosis). Then Jeff and I added a colon and a long, scholarly subtitle. It all had something to do with BACHELOR FLAT and the Bob Hope movie I'LL TAKE SWEDEN and a bunch of other stuff nobody cares about. Well, I can't get into it now because I have to go get my hair cut. Darn haircut! (Pictured, Terry-Thomas, star of BACHELOR FLAT.) Baby! This is what "blogging" is all about.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Jim Whorton drops us a line to report that his grandfather was in the habit of saying "gad" whenever he bumped his head. Whorton is contributing, of course, to our recent discussion of "dag". Gad, like gosh and jeepers creepers, is one of the ways in which we avoid taking the Lord's name in vain. Whorton is quite correct to link "gad" to its mirror image. In the South, one sometimes hears this reflexive impulse overtly, in the phrase "God dog!" or "God dog it!" More often, the blasphemy is better disguised, with a dad ("dad gum it"), or a dag. Gad (as in gadzooks, a safer form of "God's wounds," itself often abbreviated as "Zounds!"... oh, now I'm actually boring myself). Let me just end by observing that James Joyce, in Finnegans Wake, enjoyed confusing God with Dad with Dod, as in Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Joyce's foreFATHER in dream language, and a recurring father/God figure in the book (with Alice as one of the many daughter figures).
My friend Eugene knew someone who knew Lizzie Borden: the actress Nance O'Neil. Lizzie Borden was her biggest fan, and invited her out to Borden's "mansion on the Hudson" according to Eugene. In his oral autobiography, MILKING THE MOON, Eugene recalls O'Neil telling him that Borden delighted in hearing O'Neil recite dialogue from Medea over tea and cucumber sandwiches in the living room, particularly this speech: "They ask me why I have not slept. Why in the morning I will touch no food... Because, I tell them, this house smells of blood..." Okay. That's enough about Lizzie Borden. The "blog" has taken a gruesome turn. Ms. Borden is now excused from "blog" duties, like the Gilmore Girls before her, and for similar reasons.
Academia is abuzz with reports of Theresa's upcoming class. Whilst doing some research for that very class today, Theresa ran across a journal completely devoted to the study of Lizzie Borden. It sure is a crazy world we live in! Speaking of which, do yourself a favor and read up on the pioneering criminologist Frances Glessner Lee (pictured), the "wealthy grandmother" who founded the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard and, in the 40s and 50s, built intricate dollhouses that exactly duplicated real-life crime scenes. A showcase of her work, compiled by Corinne May Botz under the title THE NUTSHELL STUDIES OF UNEXPLAINED DEATH (the greatest title ever), is among Theresa's favorite curiosities.
Our "post" on Penderecki continues to result in an astonishing flood of heartfelt responses. Jeff McNeil chimes in today, moved by Jim Whorton's reflections on the matter. It seems that at age 13, McNeil was dropped off twice at week at Pizza Hut, to bide his time for an hour while his sister was in gymnastics class. His only solace in this repeated abandonment? Playing Aerosmith's "Toys in the Attic" over and over on the jukebox. "I'm one of those people Whorton was talking about," laments McNeil. Lament no more. Here's today's "blogging" tip: It takes all kinds to make the world! McNeil has done no less than provide us with the kind of dialectic upon which the "blog" thrives.
Amid concerns over recent misfires and kinks in the production line, The Place Where Jack Pendarvis Has a "Blog" has achieved a new watershed moment, according to a written statement released today by B. Proctor Weems, CEO of "Blog" Industries, parent company of the Pendarvis "blog." Weems' contention, not yet verified, is that yesterday, November 14th, The Place Where Jack Pendarvis Has a "Blog" broke its own record for most "posts" "posted" on a single day. "I attribute it to a return to core values," Weems says. "Now we're going to put the rumors behind us and get on with the business of 'blogging.'" Pendarvis could not be reached for comment.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Remember Jeff McNeil's plan to punish his child through a dose of Jerry Lewis? It didn't work out as planned. His daughter's counterattack, prior to the viewing, was simply to read him the back of the video box. According to McNeil, the performance began with deadpan sarcasm as she intoned the all-cap headline: "JERRY LEWIS GOES BONKERS IN A LAUGH-A-MINUTE DELIGHT." So it went for a few paragraphs. When she got to this part, however - "Lewis plays 10 various roles, including a 6-year-old boy, a 15th-century coachman, a southern sheriff and a bearded guru" - the unfortunate girl cracked. By the end of the litany, she was reportedly near to tears. McNeil relented. A wise man. She'll find Jerry when she's ready, like all of us.
Hey, remember when I said that "blogging" could bring people together? That was awesome when I said that. Now I have proof! The novelist James Whorton, Jr., felt compelled to respond to a recent "post," which reminded him of his own callow youth. "When I was growing up in Hattiesburg," Whorton writes, "someone used to call in to the classical music request show every week and request 'Bolero.' The host of the show would say, 'And I guess I am going to play "Bolero," since it was requested again.' He didn't hide that he was sick of it. And that reminds me further-when I was 11 years old and a student in the 6th grade at Ft. Clarke Middle School in Gainesville, Florida, there was a jukebox in the cafeteria and someone used to play 'Hot Child in the City' on it every day at lunch. Every day! At first people would groan when it started, but then it sort of became the lunch theme song and people would dance to it. To this day, whenever I hear that song I think of sausage pizza and milk. One more. When I was in college in Swansea, the song that got played on the jukebox in the college bar every night was 'Lady Elinor' by Lindisfarne." Thus ends Mr. Whorton's remembrance. I know we're all thinking the same thing: Dag! He had a jukebox in his middle-school cafeteria!
A keen-eyed "blog" fan has written in to say that this was our 100th "post." What better time to look back on some Pendarvis Building "classics"? Remember the time I almost sneezed? That was a close one! And when I reflect upon how excited I was when I discovered how to put a picture on a "post", well, I shed a bittersweet tear for lost youth. Speaking of which, I'll never forget that time I got nostalgic. Those were the days! And to think that "blogging" has been decried as "self indulgent." Heaven forfend! It is, rather, a chronicle of our shared history as human beings on this crazy planet we call earth. Are you with me, people? Who's with me?
I haven't "blogged" about Bob Hope yet, but I just know I'm going to. And with the recent spike in insights on Hee Haw, we have to face the facts. It's time to revise the obsolete mission statement that has been holding back the "blog" from achieving its full potential. Recent lay-offs and restructuring at the Pendarvis Building, while devastating personally, have opened up a new world of possibilities. Expect big changes at the "blog"!
I was right about the stable boy. That reminds me of a great New Yorker cartoon I just made up in my head. There's some aristocrat talking to a stable boy and he's saying, "Are you a stable boy?" And the stable boy says, "Not very." Ha ha ha! I'm a genius. And they're drinking martinis at a fancy shindig.
The Penderecki ST. LUKE'S PASSION will make the hair stand up on your arms! It's the thinking man's Carmina Burana. I don't mean to disparage Carl Orff. That's not in the spirit of the "blog." But it says something, I suppose, that Carmina Burana has been used in so many commercials about eliminating soap scum and so on. It's overexposed, maybe that's it. It has become a shortcut, like the PSYCHO theme or that scary organ thing by Bach, the one that goes, "Doodle-doo, doodle-do duh DUM DUM." You know the one. When I was a lad, there was a request program on the classical music station on Saturday afternoon. Every week some joker would request Carmina Burana, and for some reason they would play it every week, the whole thing, biting a big old chunk out of the request show and spoiling everyone else's fun. So maybe I have a personal problem. But I say, if old Carmina Burana doesn't provide the "kicks" it used to when you were 12, step up to Penderecki and his ST. LUKE'S PASSION. You'll be glad you did! And tell 'em the "blog" sent you.
After taking a day off yesterday, the "blog" has been deluged with complaints and cries for help. My brother-in-law is concerned about the dwindling production rate, which I can only blame on my exhausted interns. They have been working their little hearts out! But it's simply not enough. We're getting rid of the lot of them, and holding open calls for a fresh set of eyes. In the meantime, a disturbing note from Jeff McNeil was tossed into the lobby, attached to a rock. Mr. McNeil, seemingly reeling from the effects of some over-the-counter medication, insists that I figure out a way to mention Jerry Lewis so often that this "blog" comes up first on the "internet" when he "googles" for Jerry Lewis. If I do not comply, McNeil insists that he will start his own "blog." He goes on to make some chilling threats on the Pendarvis Building itself, involving a catapult. It is sad to see such a bright young mind in so much distress. While I wait for the new interns, I will attempt to "blog" alone. Thank you for your patience in this matter.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
I forgot to mention I'll be out running my mouth on two consecutive nights this week. On Thursday night at 6:30 you can catch Hollis Gillespie, Ramona Debreaux, and myself at the main branch of the Atlanta library. We'll be talking about how reading changed our lives. In my case, it made me come to school dressed as The Shadow in fourth grade, just on a whim, mind you, it wasn't "dress up day" or anything, which resulted in some painful memories I carry with me still. Come join the fun! Then on Friday night I'll be reading some fancy prose of mine at that art show I've mentioned before. I believe music will be provided by Hubcap City. That's the real draw! I'm not sure what time the activities start, but it's art, so you can come whenever you want.
Well, Homais the apothecary has talked Charles Bovary into performing a delicate operation on the unfortunate stable boy. I'm afraid something's going to go horribly wrong! Meanwhile, Werewolf By Night is scrapping with a couple of bikers named "Little Man" and "Chains." I'm afraid something's going to go horribly wrong!
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Intrigued by a recent "posting," the parents of all-American boy Jeff McNeil wrote in to ask if Roy Clark is still alive. Not only is he alive, you can contact him! We're only too happy to help. That's what "blogs" are for! I may have to scrap the mission statement and start over from scratch, because Hee Haw is not mentioned anywhere in it. Jerry Lewis is, however. Which brings us to the second part of the communication we recently enjoyed with the McNeil family. It seems as if Jeff's daughter Kelsey is in trouble for a minor infraction. Her punishment? Watching CRACKING UP with Dad. It just may prove to be the defining moment of her life.
It was a big day here in the Pendarvis Building. Several of the interns were let out for an impromptu "field trip." They had become all worked up and frenzied by Tom Bissell's recent "post". And as "video games" and "Xboxes" are not allowed into the compound, we made do very nicely with the purchase of a couple of gigantic paperback compilations of Moon Knight and Werewolf By Night. These are in black-and-white and printed on extremely cheap paper, but loads of fun for the kids. Color them yourself! Theresa bought a few issues of Wonder Woman, a few of The Spectre (he's the one popping out of the crystal ball in the accompanying illustration) and one of Dr. Strange. Then the weather turned spooky, perfect for reading comic books. But the fun wasn't over yet! Several of the interns piled into the old station wagon and headed out to see the new movie by Joey Lauren Adams. She's a good writer and director! It was the kind of deeply humane, quiet, unblinking slice-of-life you hardly see anymore, peppered with bone-dry humor. Oh yes, the title is COME EARLY MORNING. Which reminds me. I forgot to mention earlier that Pia Z. Ehrhardt's book is called FAMOUS FATHERS. Isn't that a great title?
Things are buzzing in Rome, the city of Romans. Correspondent Tom Bissell has been making the most of his time there. Just the other day he spent 10 hours playing a videogame called Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Before we get into the details, I want to tell everyone that I still haven't mastered "paragraph breaks" - a personal failure that I know makes it hard to read some of the longer "posts." Don't be sad! Just do the best you can. That's all anyone can ask! With that, we hand it over to Mr. Bissell and his Roman adventures: "I continue to find Thor disappointingly unpowerful," writes Mr. Bissell. "Though I like his Beta Ray Bill alternate uniform very much. I also love Captain America's World War II uniform (with his non-round, shield-shaped shield), and Daredevil's yellow-and-red uniform. I have yet to play Colossus, Ms. Marvel, Electra, Spider-Man, and the Thing. My current team is Daredevil (orginal uniform), Black Panther (new uniform, since the classic uni has a cape I don't like), Doctor Strange (classic uni), and Human Torch (original uni), who is also possibly the single most devastating player in the game. Alternates are Wolverine (original uniform, though sometimes I switch to classic), Storm (mohawk Storm), Moon Knight (new uniform, which is kind of awesomely ugly), and Ghost Rider (original uniform), who's awesome because he has the ability to spontaneously raise the dead if someone dies. To unlock Ghost Rider, you have to trade a teammate's soul for his when you find him in Mephisto's lair/hell. After much reflection, I decided to trade Captain America's soul. I figured Cap would have volunteered himself, given that the remainder of the team--this was my first time through--was Wolverine, Spider-Woman (black and white Secret Wars uniform), and Luke Cage (original uniform), none of whom are noted for their powerful consciences. So yes, while I live in Rome, this is about all I've been doing for the last two days. I have several things I need to write, and yet moving tiny little childhood heroes of mine around magnificently detailed little worlds, while beating up villains, is more compelling than Rome at the moment... I have recently infected another fellow here with the game--another comic book fan from way back. We played until three AM last night. We agreed that it is a good thing this game came out now, when we're in our early thirties, because had it come out when we were thirteen we may 1) have never lost our virginity and 2) killed ourselves out of the recognition that life would never offer us anything this awesome again. My friend can't believe you really get to go to Atlantis and the Skrull world, and Latveria, and Arcade's Murderworld, etc., etc. I can't either. It really is like a dream come true... All the characters have special moves, powers, exactly analogous to their comic book personas. Unlike a lot of fighting games, they are easy to pull off; this isn't one of those games that feels like Simon Says-esque memorization challenges. As for the moves, Moon Knight throws tiny little sharp crescent moons, and whips out the nunchucks to wail on ass. Wolverine has a great move called "Evisceration." Captain America throws his shield around, devastatingly. Luke Cage smashes people's faces into the ground. Ghost Rider has a move that sets people's hair on fire, after which they run around screaming. Move's name: "Fear." Awesome. Also, the graphics are absolutely beautiful. The intersticial cut-scene movies between boards are almost as good looking as a film, believe it or not. One more plus: the voice talent is more blast-from-the-past-type coolitude. Lady Sif, from Asgard (Thor's old girlfriend), is voiced by none other than Escape from New York's Adrienne Barbeau. Mr. Fantastic is voiced by An American Werewolf in London's David Naughton (who played the American werewolf in London [which come to think of it may be my favorite movie title of all time]). Excelsior!"
Friday, November 10, 2006
I want to recommend a muscial recorded LP album CD entitled RUBY AND OTHER BLUEGRASS SPECIALS, by Buck Owens and His Buckaroos. "Blog" Buddy Barry B. and I were just discussing the other day how for years we tended to think of Mr. Owens dismissively, as the funny Hee Haw man. We were idiots! RUBY is not a typical Owens album. It's an odd hybrid... not true bluegrass, not typical Bakersfield sound. What is it? I don't know. Listen to "I Know You're Married, But I Love You Still," with its creepy medieval-sounding harmonies. Yes, it's similar to the falsetto you hear on a lot of Owens recordings, but put to eerier purpose. If I weren't just a "blog" poser, or "bloser" (long O sound) as I call it in my special language of "blogging," I would know how to "download" that particular song here, or "upload" it, or something, so you could hear it. But I can't. I found the CD on the Sundazed label. They seem to put out all kinds of good stuff.
I just found out from "Blog" Buddy Pia Z. Ehrhardt ("the New Orleans 'Blog' Buddy") that my new book, YOUR BODY IS CHANGING, is available for pre-ordering. So is hers! According to the "web" advertisement, I "glitter with mischief and perversity." Won't my mother be proud?
"Blog" favorite Caroline Young sends a wire in response to Phil Oppenheim's most recent spate of grousing. In brief, Young asserts that the newfound "Republican values" of the Gilmore Girls coincide with the loss of Republican power in the House and Senate. Several astute sociological conclusions are put forward in Young's telegram. Unfortunately, a decision was handed down by the "blog" board of directors just this morning that we can no longer discuss "Gilmore Girls" on this "blog." The effect is unseemly. It is almost as if there is a middle-aged man who spends all his time "blogging" about the "Gilmore Girls." Preposterous!
As I mentioned quite recently, the novel I just sold is called AWESOME. Well, thanks to Mark Childress I have my epigraph. In his recent article about Las Vegas, he quotes the stage patter of a certain star. Just think of how it will look on the front page of my book: "I think we've really been feeling awesome for four years." -- Celine Dion
Thursday, November 09, 2006
It warms our hearts to see so many of our "Blog" Buddies striking out as "legit" writers on their own. Mark Childress has a witty and compassionate new piece in the LA Times, while Tom Bissell waxes eloquent in the latest issue of The Believer. We're proud to have put these struggling artists on the "map"!
Although we would never presume to call her a "Blog" Buddy, we at the "blog" have been lucky enough to hobnob with movie star Joey Lauren Adams a couple of times. The most recent occasion took place in a popular tavern in Ms. Adams' adoptive hometown of _________. Ms. Adams conversed about a movie she has written and directed. Quite an accomplishment! And her motivation made the film sound even more interesting: sick and tired of seeing cliched depictions of a non-existent "South," Ms. Adams decided to make her own accurate and highly personal Southern story. Well, it opens tomorrow and I think it would behoove us all to go see it! It also turns out that I will soon be interviewing Ms. Adams for a magazine. Details to follow. Keep your eye on the "blog"!
Although I failed to mention it in my recent mission statement, ice cream is one of the most vital concerns of this "blog." Tonight I had some olive oil ice cream with smears of sauce on the plate: sour orange with dates AND rosewater. It was the best ice cream I ever had! And I got it at a restaurant across the street.
This from an anonymous friend of the "blog": "Tonight I went to a poetry reading and the woman sitting next to me made so much noise with her cup of ice, the person sitting on the other side of me reached across my lap and made her give him her ice... Oh, tonight at dinner I heard a poet complain about the word 'awesome.' He said he hates how the word is used and a person is lucky if he has two genuinely 'awesome' experiences in his life. Then he went on awhile about the etymology of the word which has something to do with Yahweh and stars, according to him." The reason our friend mentions the word "awesome" is that I just sold my first novel, which is entitled AWESOME. It's about a big, sexy giant. Now I want you to put it out of your mind, because my second book of stories doesn't even come out until May, and you need to be putting all your energy and concentration into that. The novel doesn't raise its ugly head until 2008.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
There seemed to be a lot going on last night. On Fox and CNN, they were talking about "blogs" a lot. Apparently, "blogs" are extremely important! Apparently, the world cares about "blogs"! This is exciting news for me personally. I can change the world, apparently, through the majesty of my "blogging." There was something "political" going on yesterday, apparently. I have not been apprised of the details. Anyway, I was hanging out at the tickertape machine all night, waiting for word from bilious TV executive Phil Oppenheim about what he thought of last night's Gilmore Girls episode. Perhaps this was the source of last night's "hubbub" on CNN and Fox! I was not able to catch all the details, but people were certainly worked up about something, and I can only assume it was the "Girls." In any case, I was not disappointed by the promptness of Mr. Oppenheim's jeremiad, though I may have been chagrined by his white-hot rage. "Worst of all, for me," writes Phil of GILMORE GIRLS, "its politics stink. The show was always about rich people living in a fairy-tale land, but it also embraced a handful of progressive (for tv, anyway) ideas: (1) biological parents may not always be the best people to raise their own children, (2) people who have had children together may not be suited to be together as a couple, or as a family, (3) the nuclear family may not always be the most functional unit, (4) people from different social classes can be romantically involved with one another, and more. By pairing Christopher back up with Lorelai, Rory with the loathsome Huntzberger heir (whose radical change from privileged party boy into successful businessman-not exactly the transformation of Prince Hal into Henry V, if you know what I mean-seems to be really, really cool with Rory)...the show has become a banal, reactionary Harlequin romance." Ouch! We do not like to indulge in negativity on the "blog," but the importance of last night's events suggest a brief dip into the abyss. Mr. Oppenheim, after all, lives in an abyss of mental torment, and if we are truly to understand him, we must follow him there.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Reading the new issue of McSweeney's (#21). It has some of the best fiction they've ever published, I think. So anyway, the Joyce Carol Oates story in there is going in our imaginary anthology, mark it down. Here's the crazy coincidence that no one will ever care about (or believe). About six years ago, I wrote a novel that will never see the light of day (though some small parts of it have been published). Mark Twain was an important character in it. It also contained a character named Madeline Avery (none of her sections ever saw print). Well, this shocking and beautiful Oates story in the new McSweeney's has Mark Twain as the main character AND a character that Ms. Oates invented... named Madelyn Avery! Once again (see below) what are the odds? Crazy, I tell you. Ms. Oates' Madelyn Avery and my Madeline Avery have nothing in common aside from their names... meaningless and astonishing, as coincidences are bound to be, but it's crazy, I swear.
I've been asked to judge a fiction contest, and one of the other judges is an editor at a small press called FC2. Guess what? They published a novel about Webern, and the author lives in Georgia, just like me. What are the odds? Seriously, I want somebody from Las Vegas to email me and tell me what the odds are.
Hi! I'm in Maryland! I've figured out how to "blog" from Maryland! Anyway, Theresa and I were eating lunch a little while ago and it suddenly occurred to me that a "blog" is the perfect place from which to "launch" the ice cream flavor I've been brooding about for the past five years - Sweet Tea With Lemon. Every Chinese restaurant serves green tea ice cream, right? So it's not really much of a stretch to imagine a rust-colored ice cream that would taste like the sweet iced tea you can get in any decent restaurant in Alabama... add a lemon sorbet swirl and you've got a great ice cream flavor. I don't want any money from my idea... I'll never be able to manufacture my own ice cream and I hate to see the flavor go to waste. Somebody jump on it!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I just want to mention again that there will be no new "posts" for a couple of days now, because Theresa is off to Towson University to talk to the people about four cinematic adaptations of THE SCARLET LETTER. And she has asked me to rise from the audience and rip open my shirt like Rev. Dimmesdale at the appropriate point in her presentation. (She really has. Won't she be surprised when I do?) Now I know that normally I exhort you to buy my book in my absence, or conversely I oblige with a fun activity to pass the time until the return of the "blog." But I think we've all grown past that, haven't we? This time, I urge all "blog" readers to a period of contemplative silence, perhaps coupled with a fast. Trust me, you'll get a "kick" out of it!
Eventful visit to the neighborhood coffee shop. First I saw one of the philosophers. He's getting ready for a two-year trip to India! If things work out, and he attains the rank of "Blog" Buddy, perhaps we'll have some "Dispatches From India" on the slate in the near future. Next item of note: They have a turntable there in the coffee shop, and the frolicsome baristas were playing some Dead Kennedys, which to them was an ancient relic of a strange and wonderful time. Suddenly I was transported, as if bodily, back to the old college dorm, where I sat on the floor with L. and our friend, the French girl who smoked cigars, listening to the Dead Kennedys, Zappa, Oingo Boingo, and the Fabulous Poodles. Truly I thought that the Dead Kennedys were the scariest thing I had ever encountered. Those were the days! Now people listen to them in coffee shops and nobody complains because it's really kind of quaint. (I do not mention "Blog" Buddy L. by name because she works in an office with a bunch of men who bother her, and she may soon begin to contribute anonymous tidbits from the corporate workplace. For example, just the other day some guy in L.'s office said that Judy Jetson was "hot," an observation perhaps better suited to a Bud Lite commercial from the early 1990s, though we should not cast stones here at the "blog" where we have been known to pine sadly for the glimmering crud of the past - in this very "post" it so happens!) Finally I would like to note that in spite of the hyperbolic title, I am not just like Marcel Proust. "Blog" Buddy Jim Whorton (the "Upstate New York 'Blog' Buddy") tells the "blogging" staff that M. Proust was, how shall we put it, rather unkind to his four-footed friends. Maybe this is untrue! We hope so! We want to think the best of our geniuses! Anyway, we don't traffic in "facts," necessarily, here on the "internet," so I think it's okay to say anything that pops into our heads.
We're unhappy here in the Pendarvis Building. Perhaps it's my own fault. Perhaps I've been too indulgent with the interns, who, after all, look to me for guidance. In any case, the "blog" is all over the place! The "blog" lacks focus! Steps must be taken. I want to make it crystal clear: This "blog" is about five things and five things alone. It will be the only place on the "internet" to get the pure, unvarnished truth about these five things. From now on, these five things are the laser-like focus of this "blog" and no deviation will be tolerated. 1. Jerry Lewis. 2. Donuts. 3. That mythical beast the Cyclops. 4. Dodecaphonic compositonal techniques. This will include Schoenberg and his followers, such as Webern and Berg, of course, but also composers who merely had a dodecaphonic period, however brief, such as Stravinsky and even (I believe) Aaron Copland. Does the list include the Polish master Krzysztof Penderecki? I honestly can't recall. And to be perfectly straightforward there will be ABSOLUTELY NO whimsical ruminations about the dense, complex works of Penderecki until this matter is cleared up! That's just how dead serious I am about whipping this "blog" into shape. 5. Adventures of the "Blog" Buddies. There's no telling what kind of scrapes the "Blog" Buddies will get themselves into next! The "Blog" Buddies include sassy lady professor Theresa Starkey, all-American boy Jeff McNeil, underground darling Amanda Stern, clogging whiz Caroline Young, Mastroianni-style playboy Tom Bissell, Kent "The Free Spirit" Osborne, and pensive churl Phil Oppenheim, among others. I think we have covered all the necessary demographics. There's nothing the "Blog" Buddies can't do when they put their minds to it! At times the "Blog" Buddies may quarrel among themselves because of their very different approaches to crime-fighting. But then they remember that the "Blog" Buddies are the only real family they've ever had. And they come together to protect America, which is awesome. Some may say that this new, narrowed focus of the "blog" will be restrictive, but I say that much like the arbitrary limits of the dodecaphonic process itself, it will free us. Said Stravinsky, on the subject of "blogging," I believe, "The imagination works best when caged."