Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Hobbies of Aquaman

We learn from our favorite Aquaman "blog" all about the time Aquaman started his own newspaper. It makes Aquaman seem like a brainy, awkward twelve-year-old boy with a lot of time on his hands. It's kind of sweet! Awww! Who's a little sweetie? Yes you are, Aquaman! Yes you are!

The Funny Coincidence

Here's a fascinating tidbit from real life! Yesterday I sent off my bio to the good people at Ole Miss, where I will be the visiting writer-in-residence very soon. I included a boastful line about the movie that Kent and I wrote for Cartoon Network ("production beginning this summer," the line concluded, dewy-eyed). Within minutes, my grand life story was disseminated to persons all over greater Mississippi! And LITERALLY minutes after that, I got a call from a VP at Cartoon Network, letting me know that the production has been scrapped for all those various reasons that productions get scrapped. That happens with movies sometimes! No need to get upset! Kent and I had a lot of fun working together and everyone at the network was polite and kind, and at least I got to see Barry Sonnenfeld on an elevator.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It Pains Me

WARNING: If you are sick of me advertising my readings, please skip this "post" and read about the interesting chimp who has been on Jeff McNeil's mind these days. Okay. It pains me to bring this up again, but I am forced to mention my Saturday night reading at A Cappella Books (where I had the confusing and tingly experience of actually watching Bruce Springsteen shop for books yesterday! I'm NOT kidding!!! In fact, I saw Glen from A Cappella at the coffee shop this morning and told him I had spied Mr. Springsteen in his place the evening before. Glen, seemingly unsurprised, said, "Oh. Yeah," in the most bored voice imaginable. He's unflappable, that one). See, though, I've been telling a lot of people "7:30" lately. Something has broken in my brain. In fact, I can think of two people to whom I said "7:30" just this evening. But the fact is, the reading is at 7, as I originally and accurately "blogged." Sorry!

Mr. Smart Guy Speaks

That interview I told you about is out in public now, so I can reveal, as promised, the crazy thing that popped out of my mouth (as I predicted, it ended up in the article). Here it is: I referred to my writing method as the "non-ironic appropriation of the trappings of irony." What does that even MEAN? It just came out! But anyway, I think they did a very nice job with the interview and any crazy things I said were entirely my own fault. Honestly, the interviewer painted me in the best possible light, and I'm grateful. I'm pretty sure the article makes it clear, but I want to make it doubly clear that the phrase "comic virus" (which is in the title of the article) comes from George Saunders - I didn't invent it! Also, the article kindly says that Mr. Saunders and I "share" a fondness for the "inarticulate narrator," but it is really the case that reading the story "Jon" by Mr. Saunders in THE NEW YORKER is what opened my eyes to the power and uses of a particular kind of inarticulate narrator... though not one as inarticulate as I am being right now! So Mr. Saunders shared it with me, but I am not sure I shared it with Mr. Saunders, if that makes sense, and it almost certainly doesn't. I promise never to talk about my "writing" again!

Overheard In a Coffee Shop As Usual

Well, I have overheard something else in a coffee shop. Not the coffee shop where the guy said "Oh, snap!" three times in quick succession, but my favorite coffee shop. I was reading the paper and the young guys and gals behind the counter were listening to some electronica at a healthy volume. It was one of those songs that stops suddenly. Well, it stopped suddenly. And a man, who had been talking loudly, I suppose, during the song, was caught shouting mid-sentence or mid-thought, like so: "SUGAR GOES IN AND I CAN'T BEND OVER!" A puzzling fragment! There was a deathly pause as it sunk in to the man's table of friends that he had screamed his bit of weirdness into the silent air. Then everyone had a good laugh. I joined in, I admit! But everyone seemed jolly about it, free of scorn and judgement. It was an enjoyable non-sequitur. I'll type it again for your contemplation and pleasure: "SUGAR GOES IN AND I CAN'T BEND OVER!" And strangely, it seemed to "go" with the newspaper article I was reading all about an industrious fellow ("click" here to check him out) who has released a CD of his favorite symphony concert intermission noises. Gosh, I was thinking as I read, I would like to discuss this with the man from Hubcap City, given the content of our past conversations. And then the music stopped and the guy across the room yelled, "SUGAR GOES IN AND I CAN'T BEND OVER!"

Daily Plea

Speaking of TCM, here is where I make my daily plea to Robert Osborne, king of that network. Let me be a guest programmer! We will have a dandy time! I am going to "post" something every day until I get the call from TCM.

McNeil's Movie Korner: A Global Disaster

Welcome to a particularly distraught edition of "McNeil's Movie Korner." Mr. McNeil told us this morning, between sobs, that he had pressed the wrong button, or perhaps no button at all, and his DVR had failed to record yesterday's airing of A GLOBAL AFFAIR, starring Mr. Bob Hope, on TCM. This is a movie not likely to be aired again any time soon, hence Mr. McNeil's distress. A warning to Bob Hope neophytes: While missing out on A GLOBAL AFFAIR is a tragedy in Mr. McNeil's book, it should cause you no personal alarm. A GLOBAL AFFAIR is the kind of film that can only be appreciated in context, after complete immersion in the Hope corpus.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Part of a Rerun of M*A*S*H

I just saw part of a rerun of M*A*S*H and they were being really mean to Frank Burns!

June Will Be A Series of Sordid Pitches

I will be gone for most of June, resurfacing in the "blog" "o" "sphere" only to "plug" each new appearance for my "book." I'm sorry, but that's what "blogs" are for. For example, I've heard I will be "linked" to by Creative Loafing tomorrow, so I feel the need to mention my reading at A Cappella Books on Saturday evening. I have to stick it here at the top of the "blog" for any newcomers I might be able to trick into reading my book. I'm sorry! I'm sorry! But don't forget, I have provided a whole long list of other things you can read about that have nothing to do with besmirching "art" with "lucre." And just to show that I'm a good sport, I'm going to list some other fun things you can read about and blot my sad self-promotion entirely from your offended consciousness: 1) The time I saw Bruce Springsteen for real! Earlier tonight! 2) The time I saw a lot of robins all at once. 3) Important information: it is no longer possible to email Roy Clark with the "internet." 4) The man who hates "blogs." 5) The time I was nine and dressed up as "The Shadow" for no good reason. 6) A story about a table. 7) You could take some time and review The Twenty "Blog"mandments. 8) The caption contest has never officially closed. 9) Spider-Man and the Fun Reading Gang meet Conan the Barbarian in Outer Space.


If you "click" on the name "Pete Barbutti" in that most recent "post," then "click" on "Roy Clark" in the "Pete Barbutti" "post," it used to be that you could actually contact Hee Haw's Roy Clark via email. But now his "web" site seems to be "down," replaced with something "generic." I thought you'd want to know! I'm not pulling the wool over your eyes! Sometimes things change, even on our modern "web" that we enjoy today!

"Tagged" With a "Meme"

Apparently I have been "tagged" with a "meme," or so they tell me. If you know me at all, you know that I have no clear idea of what that means. It seems that I am supposed to list seven facts about myself and then "tag" seven other "bloggers," though the latter part of the exercise does not strike me as a gentlemanly pursuit. I will do my best, however, to comply with the "meming," or whatever has been done to me. Here, then, seven facts. 1) Once I saw a whole bunch of robins at one time. Okay, that's all I can think of right now. I would like to "tag" my fellow "blogger" Pete Barbutti, if "tagging" means a friendly hello with no obligation on the part of Pete Barbutti!

If This Isn't Something to "Blog" About, I Don't Know What Is

Well, I was just over at A Cappella Books for the friendly browsing session I indulge in almost every day... you know, it's not a huge place... if there are a couple of other customers, you're going to bump into them. So there was one other guy shopping for books and he had three or four friends who were just kind of moping around. And the other guy so very interested in literature this evening was... BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN! I had to sneak a hundred looks at him before I believed it. I was stymied with admiration. My brain told me to gingerly pluck my book off the shelf and slip it into his stack, and then probably his next CD would be named after it, but I decided to go with the whole "do nothing, say nothing" strategy. So I waited until he left and one of his helpers paid for all his books and carried them out and I said to the guy behind the counter, "I'm not crazy, right?" And the guy said, "Right." And we both stood there shaking our heads trying to believe what we had seen.

Meet Me In Las Vegas

I only caught glimpses of the film MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS on TCM today, because I was getting ready to go have my picture made with Sheri Joseph. When I left the house, Cyd Charisse (pictured) was pantomiming beating up a lady in underpants as Sammy Davis, Jr. (off-screen for the entire song) offered a rendition of the old love-and-murder ballad "Frankie and Johnny" with the words updated into hipster lingo ("Everyone was juiced, as you may have deduced" providing one of the milder examples). I should take a moment to express a certain sentiment again in regard to TCM: DEAR ROBERT OSBORNE, PLEASE LET ME BE A "GUEST PROGRAMMER" ON YOUR NETWORK!!! I WILL DO A REALLY GOOD JOB! I WILL SIT IN A CHAIR AND BEHAVE! Okay. Ms. Joseph happened to mention to me today that she tried to "click" on the review that compares me to David Sedaris, and was led back only to my own "blog," which does not quote the review on that point. That's because the review of my book only appears in the print edition of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. For some reason it's not on the "web" version. But I promise it compares me to David Sedaris! Go thumb through a copy at your local bookstore and see if I'm not telling the truth. But please don't drop any of those subscription cards on the floor. Someone else will have to come along and clean up your mess! It's the one with Michael Moore on the cover, rather than some starlet or another, so I imagine there will be plenty of copies left.

Yes, That's John Astin

In answer to numerous "blog" queries, yes, that really is a photograph of John Astin dressed up like Edgar Allan Poe. One curious reader believed it to be a painting of Poe himself. But it is not. And here ("click," please) is a "web" site to prove it.

The Repository of Forgotten Entertainers

It has occurred to us what the purpose of this "blog" might be, and that purpose is contained in the title of this "post." Whether it is someone we have only just discovered (see Woody Woodbury or Moko the Chimp), an old favorite like John Qualen, or a person who merely makes us say "eh," like Marty Ingels (no offense to Mr. Ingels, of whom we have some good accounts. It is not his fault that we have not been properly exposed to his particular talents!), the "blog" delights in its pitiful attempts to push these hard workers back onto the cultural radar. With that in mind, we would like to remind everyone of Pete Barbutti (pictured), the address of whose own "web" site misspells his last name. But I am gratified to see that he is working; indeed you can email him if you like, just like Roy Clark. Mr. Barbutti, whose appearances on the Johnny Carson show thrilled me as a young piano playing boy (he played the piano in an amusing way and smoked and drank), had slipped my mind COMPLETELY, I am grieved to admit, until David Letterman mentioned him in passing on his program the other night. This has been the first in what we hope will be a series of public service announcements.

Happy Bob Day!

Happy Bob Hope's Birthday, everybody! (When you "click" on this "link" be sure to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page as you read; it should contain nearly every "blog" reference to Mr. Hope, in honor of his special day.)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Which "Blog" Will You Choose?

Hi! If you are reading this, it may be Tuesday morning. Maybe you are at work after a long weekend. Here is something to think about as you work today. If you are not interested in my bumbling attempts to sell my book, please entertain yourself with one of our many alternate streams of thought. If, however, you would like to know more about my new book, I encourage you to attend my reading at Atlanta's A Cappella Books on Saturday. To get yourself all "worked up" for the event, you may want to read about the nice reviews I've received: the one that compares me to David Sedaris... the one that compares me to Carl Sandburg... the one that compares me to "I'm Dickens, He's Fenster" (!). Either way, I wish you a pleasant day.

Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner: Fun With 18th Century Philosophy!

Welcome once again to Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner. This week Dr. "M." sends us an interesting "link" about the utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham and his apparent connection to the TV series LOST. Warning: If you do not want to blow your freaking mind and find out potential secrets about the plot of the show, thereby perhaps spoiling all the fun of watching it if you are sensitive to such things, DO NOT "CLICK" ON THIS "LINK"! We are moved to remark, however, on the coincidences and convergences that seem to make up the very lifeblood of the "blog": Jeremy Bentham (or rather his preserved body, which is housed in a glass case at University College, London, and apparently brought out for the occasional social function) made an appearance, until recently, in my novel - but he was removed during National Rewrite Your Novel Month. I also found a reference to him - long after I had written about him in my novel - in Marina Warner's book PHANTASMAGORIA, another frequent subject of the "blog." The "blog" is beginning to have as many weird coincidences as LOST itself. We're afraid!

I Forgot

I should have included, with that last "post," my special list of diversions for people who do not care one way or another about me trying to sell my book - an attitude I understand and appreciate!

I'm Dickens, He's Fenster: The Most Awesome Reference Ever?

I hate to bury the lead about my reading at A Cappella Books on Saturday, but I had to mention a flattering, interesting, and enticingly weird review my new book received in the San Diego Union-Tribune. The reviewer contributes some highly pleasant ruminations and vivid summaries. He kindly says I "knocked [him] stupid," and makes the generous comparison that reviewing my book is "like trying to tell a stranger about rock 'n' roll" - I don't know, if I read that review, I'd want to buy my book! The reviewer does have some reservations, which he expresses in the next-to-last paragraph, but that's okay! I can't expect him to like everything! I'm not perfect! And even then he's very polite about it. And mostly he seemed to "get" the book and enjoy it (though, contrary to his interpretation, I think of the end of "Outsiders" as an anti-O. Henry ending, because **** ********** *** **** ****** [I don't want to spoil it for you!]). But the most awesome part of the review is that it all turns on a reference to the TV show "I'm Dickens, He's Fenster," the mere title of which I could have SWORN Mr. Ward and I were the last people on Earth to recall. It wouldn't even ring a bell with Jeff McNeil, I'll wager, and HE knows about THIS show, on the retooled version of which ("The Phyllis Diller Show") Marty Ingels and John Astin (Dickens and Fenster of "Dickens and Fenster" fame) guest starred. Not only that, but the review turns on a specific EPISODE of "I'm Dickens, He's Fenster." And not only THAT, even the TITLE of the review refers to "I'm Dickens, He's Fenster." Strange and sort of titillating! If I were reviewing the review, I would give it a "thumbs up"! (Pictured, John Astin, who played either Dickens or Fenster, I have no idea, as Edgar Allan Poe. Why? Why not?)

A Reading

For those of you who do not wish to sully yourselves with the tawdry commercial underbelly of the "blog," I suggest our catalog of innocent enjoyments (to which I should have added my advice on combing one's hair)... or you might like to employ yourself Jeff McNeil-style, with your own vigorous research into the subject of our mysterious chimp. The rest of you should be made aware that I'll be reading from my new book on Saturday. That's right, Saturday, June 2, at 7pm at A Cappella Books in Little Five Points, Atlanta, GA, USA. Please do drop by and say hello.

What Every Consumer Should Know About James Reese Europe

Hello! We can only hope that you have become aware of - and interested in - the musician James Reese Europe through the efforts of the "blog." But we must tell you: We ordered two different James Reese Europe CDs from two different record labels only to find that they consisted of the exact same 24 tracks, all recorded in 1919, featuring Mr. Europe's 369th U.S. Infantry "Hell Fighters" Band. Based on this anecdotal evidence - which is good enough for the "blog" - these 24 tracks may very well be the only music that Mr. Europe ever recorded. So don't be like us! Do your research! Why buy two CDs when one will do? One CD is about half as expensive as two CDs! Do the math! This has been one in a series of musical tips.

The "Blog" Encompasses All

"Only connect!" said E.M. Forster, and we have no idea what he was talking about, unless it has something to do with "blogging." For we must at last acknowledge that the "blog" seems to hold a special place in cosmology. Everything revolves around it. As we have postulated before, the "blog" encompasses all. Witness: the analogous careers of Wally Cox and Charles Nelson Reilly. Contemplate: Sheri Joseph enjoyed Underdog and the Disney version of Robin Hood. Is it mere coincidence that Wally Cox did the voice of Underdog and Charles Nelson Reilly's father, an artist, was offered a job by Walt Disney himself? Finally, consider: Charles Nelson Reilly was born in the Bronx, and the chimp we have been "blogging" about so much was once liberated by its human chum from the Bronx Zoo. Yes, apply a little research and you will find that the "blog" is the center of the universe.


Even Charles Nelson Reilly had a MySpace page. Here it is ("click," please).

So Long, Charles Nelson Reilly

Well, good old Charles Nelson Reilly passed away. This is shaping up to be a sad day for the "blog." Like Wally Cox, a coincidental subject of "blog"templation yesterday, Mr. Reilly had a fascinating life and career that became overshadowed by his game show appearances. So do him and yourself the favor of researching Charles Nelson Reilly today. The "internet" is full of tidbits, we are given to understand.


Thanks to the power of the "internet," Jeff McNeil has been in touch with an Australian reporter who has done some digging into the chimp story. The epilogue is too sad to relate on our happy "blog," though we do feel the need to acknowledge Mr. McNeil's ceaseless work on the subject.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Castaway Chimp of Henderson Island

Okay, I give up on the novel. Jeff McNeil called with more information about the castaway chimp of Henderson Island. It began to seem much more fun to "blog" about the castaway chimp of Henderson Island than to rewrite some stupid novel. You should hear Jeff speculate on the chimp and his human buddy! It reaffirms my dream of publishing an oral history of Jeff talking about things he finds on the "internet." Here are some highlights, as I recall them: the time the chimp was refused the right to march in a Bastille Day parade; the time the man had to be restrained by several fire hoses in order to keep him away from his chimp; the man's exaggerated claims about the specialness of his chimp; rumors of the chimp's variety act in 1960s San Francisco... and according to Jeff, these details merely scratch the surface. He's been "Googling" the man and the chimp all day long. By "clicking" on this highlighted "link" you can start your own journey of discovery re: the chimp. Not since the talking mongoose from the Isle of Man has the "blog" been so excited about a strange animal on an island. By the way, Jeff and I hereby claim the rights to film the chimp story, preferably starring the ghost of Bob Hope as the chimp's resourceful human friend. (Pictured, some other chimp feeding a baby.)

Again With the Fletcher Christian

I don't know why I haven't mentioned yet that one of my favorite Mekons songs is "(Sometimes I Feel Like) Fletcher Christian."


Okay, one more thing. This is the kind of thought cluster that can only go on the "blog." It's what "blogs" were made for. So, it occurs to me that Brando has been the subtext of the "blog" lately. First the Stanley reference, then the mention of Fletcher Christian (who Brando once played) and Sheri Joseph on Underdog. Here's the Underdog connection: In the 1950s, Marlon Brando's Greenwich Village roommate was Wally Cox, who later did the voice of Underdog. Several years ago, when people were making films like ED WOOD and that one about Andy Kaufman, Mr. Ward and I had the idea of a movie called MARLON AND WALLY. It was to star (though they never knew this!) Vincent D'Onofrio and David Hyde Pierce. I feel okay talking about it now, because those guys are the only two who could have pulled it off, and now we'd need a time machine to make it happen. But it's interesting to think about the way the careers of Brando and Cox went. Both started out trying something different (Wally Cox was an experimental, anecdotal, confessional stand-up comedian who wasn't going for the typical laughs), and both ended up isolated and seemingly sad (maybe the movie would have started with latter-day Marlon Brando on his island, eating cobbler and watching Wally Cox on the Hollywood Squares) - but their images and achievements were so vastly different. Yes, our imaginary movie would be about a certain temperament, I suppose, and how it messed up Wally Cox as much or worse than it did Marlon Brando despite the perceived gulf between them, personally and artistically, so what does that mean? Man, it sounds boring! But I'm glad I got it off my chest. Thanks, "blogging"! Speaking of which, I may have gotten some of these facts wrong, but who cares? This is a "blog"!

Last Chance

National Rewrite Your Novel Month is coming to a close, but if your novel is short you still have time to join in the fun! And of course, if you have a novella, the last week of National Rewrite Your Novel Month has been officially designated Rewrite Your Novella Week. Well, I will be participating in a big National Rewrite Your Novel Month event today - think of a pie eating contest, except with novels instead of pies and rewriting instead of eating. It takes place at the Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds, and Black Oak Arkansas is providing the music, so come on down! I'm looking forward to the competition, but that means no more "blogging" today. I'll leave you with a "blog" preview for the coming week: watch out for a continuation of Jeff McNeil's investigative report on the Pitcairn island chain, including a fascinating look at the castaway chimp of Henderson Island. No fair "Googling" the story prematurely! Just sit tight and enjoy the anticipation.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Writers Sometimes Enjoy Cartoons

We now return to our longest running yet somehow wildly unpopular regular feature: asking famous writers which cartoons, comic strips, or comic books they enjoyed as youngsters. Today's interviewee is novelist Sheri Joseph. "At a certain age I was obsessed with Speed Racer and Underdog," Ms. Joseph tells us, "both of which my mother deemed too violent, or dark, or something, so they became all the more appealing because I had to watch them in secret. My first crushes were on Speed Racer, Underdog, and also that Disney cartoon fox version of Robin Hood. He was hot!" And on that note, we bring to a close another installment of our controversial look at writers and the cartoons that move them.

Jeff McNeil's Island Breezes

We now present for the first time on any "blog" anywhere a brand new feature that we feel sure will become a "fave" of all concerned: "Jeff McNeil's Island Breezes." Jeff McNeil enjoys maps and globes. This morning he was looking at a globe whilst eating breakfast and chanced upon a South Pacific island with which he was unfamiliar: Pitcairn Island. According to a phone conversation with Mr. McNeil earlier this evening, Pitcairn Island - according to his subsequent research - is where Fletcher Christian and some other BOUNTY mutineers fled when they were being sought in Tahiti. The island has a population of about 50, many of whom are descendants of Fletcher Christian. There's a jail on the island but it hasn't been used since 1922. And I believe there is one store, which is open two days a week. And no "blogs," I assume! Gosh, I wonder how they make it, what with "blogs" being so important and everything. Now none of this is from Wikipedia, mind you. This is from my leisurely conversation with Jeff McNeil about things he had looked up on the "internet." It makes me happy to imagine a future in which people will pass down - around campfires (or over phones) - oral histories of things they found on the "internet." Mr. McNeil's favorite information about Pitcairn Island came from this "link" to which I am "linking" for you now (please "click" with your "clicker"). It repays reading in detail. Please enjoy! For our next installment of "Jeff McNeil's Island Breezes," Mr. McNeil promises some fascinating data about a particular deserted island in the south Atlantic. Stay tuned! (P.S. This is a mere avocation for Mr. McNeil, and has nothing to do with his big, secret project to which we have alluded here recently.)


Normally this regular column is entitled "James Whorton, Jr.'s C-Spandemonium!" But James Whorton, Jr. is taking a break from his duties. I am stepping in to report two interesting programs on C-Span 2 today. One was a talk that Douglas Brinkley gave about the diaries of Ronald Reagan. Another was an amiable lecture by a professor who has written a biography of Washington Irving. The professor's name is Andrew Burstein and his book is called THE ORIGINAL KNICKERBOCKER. This Burstein fellow appeared so personable, lighthearted, perceptive, probing, and engaging that I WISHED I wanted to read a biography of Washington Irving (pictured). I just don't see it happening, nothing against Washington Irving (I have no desire to read Ronald Reagan's diaries, for that matter). But I do feel moved to say that if you are at all interested in Washington Irving, New York, or American literature, please give this pleasant professor and his book a look. I have a feeling you will be glad you did!


As the official publication date of my new book draws ever nearer, the ugly side of the "blog" - the side that wants to trick you into buying the book - will only become more monstrously apparent. That is why I hope to build a little oasis here, in the middle of the crassness. This "post" will contain "links" to several earlier "posts" that have nothing whatsoever to do with my book. I will include a "link" here every time I mention my book in the future, so that those who would rather entertain themselves in an uncommercial way may spend hours of fun on the "blog" with no fear of commerce. Here, then, are some fun no-pressure "links" to enjoy: "The Wine That Tasted Like Banana Popsicles" -- "The Parrot That Cursed During Andrew Jackson's Funeral" -- "Some Good Donut Holes" -- "Diet Ginger Ale" -- "Parsnips" -- "Taffy" -- "A Finger Injury" -- "Another Finger Injury" -- "Stuff That Philosophers Talk About!" -- "Account of a Soccer Match" -- "Some Comic Strips About Soccer" -- "Explanation of a Tragic Cyborg" -- "The Films of Fred Ott". Okay, they're not all winners, but at least they're not about my book or why you should buy it.


So I get word of a nice "B+" review in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY for the new book. In my "riotous collection," they say, I "often surprise a giggling reader by nailing the emptiness of [my] characters' self-absorption." Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to surprise a giggling reader! I generally pop up over the back of the bus seat and give them a good start. Anyway, it sounds like a very nice review, though I haven't seen the whole thing yet. I was hoping for an "A" but I missed a couple of classes without a doctor's excuse and the syllabus was very clear on that point.

Say Cheese

Big photo shoot yesterday morning. I kept my shirt on as promised. They put me over in Manuel's Tavern early in the morning with a pint of Guinness. I'm sure that photographic trickery will be employed to make it look as though I drank it. Then yesterday afternoon I got word of another photo requirement, this one for the AJC. Tuesday morning, Sheri Joseph and I are supposed to go over there and have our pictures snapped for an article. From the suggestions that we have received about how to dress, I would say they're going for sort of a "Blanche and Stanley" theme.

Friday, May 25, 2007

"Fave" Lines: Hollywood Chimes In

We have a new "fave" line to report in our continuing series of "fave" lines. Famed Academy-award nominated Hollywood director Mark Osborne writes in to quote Steve Martin's character in DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS. Now the line itself, "fave" though it may be, is too filthy to repeat here by the "blog's" exacting standards of prudishness, but we encourage you to rent the film on DVD, VHS, or BetaMax and listen out for the part when Steve Martin explains from which hole in his body "class" is exuded. Then you will know Mark Osborne's "fave" line!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Shirtless Chronicles

"I don't know, you might want to reconsider your whole 'I'm not posing with my shirt off' stance," writes Mr. Ward, in reference to an earlier "post." Mr. Ward attached (to his email) photos of a shirtless Hemingway and a shirtless Faulkner (the latter smoking a pipe shirtless, actually, but with shoes and socks on, writing a great novel probably and showing a good bit of leg as well). I thought for a moment of illustrating this "post" with the shirtless Faulkner image, given recent news, but I decided against it as the population of my new hometown might consider it blasphemous and silly, and revoke their kind offer. So here, instead, is John Steinbeck in what Mr. Ward describes as "a sexy robe."

A Ban on Progenitors

Wow! We sure love the word "progenitor" here at the "blog"! One day we're going to look it up and find out what it means. Anyway, no more "progenitors." Here, to punish ourselves, is a list of persons to whom we have referred as "progenitors": Jules Verne, Brian Lamb, Woody Woodbury, Archie Andrews. Oh, we stink so very much!

Whatever Happened To Jeff McNeil?

Many "blog" readers are concerned about the long absence (except in passing) of "Blog" Buddy Jeff McNeil. He's fine, everybody! He's working on a new project that I don't want to jinx. All of our recent conversations have been about it. I can say no more. Except: Jeff McNeil has about ten good ideas every day. I read a draft of a novel by him several years ago, for example, and two of the wild, speculative ideas he put forth in it have already come true! I read about one of them in the Science section of the New York Times about two years after Jeff had postulated it... and saw another one on a beer commercial. I can say no more. Except: his idea for winning at craps (not one of the two ideas previously mentioned) works like gangbusters. McNeil is a regular Jules Verne... or an Edgar Allan Poe, whose "Eureka!" predicted - by sheer imaginative moxy - black holes and a lot of other stuff I'll never understand. Anyway, Jeff's not going to let NASA steal the thunder of his new idea. I predict you'll hear about it soon! (Pictured, a community theater production of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, by Jeff McNeil's progenitor, Jules Verne.)


Now I'm reading JOE by Larry Brown. Just the first chapter so far (over "joe" this morning) but if first chapters are any indication, this is going to be a swell book, a harsh and poetic book. Plus we are moving to Oxford, the hometown of Mr. Brown, and two "Blog" Buddies, in entirely different contexts, volunteered recently that JOE was Mr. Brown's best book. So it seems like the right thing to read. Up until this point I have only read his BIG, BAD LOVE, which had a big impact on me when I was just starting to think seriously about being a "writer." Still I am convinced that no one should care about my opinion. That makes an interview a funny process. I immediately second-guess whatever I say. If I knew anything true, I wouldn't be writing fiction! I "did" an interview yesterday and I believe I said a lot of stupid junk. I remember claiming that the "blog" employed "the non-****** ************ of the trappings of *****." That's the kind of thing I said (not to "scoop" the interviewer, who was very kind and understanding as I ranted and danced around his excellent questions, trying to hide my abject bewilderment with the "writing" "process"). You know what? I'm going to go back and partially censor the thing I said to the interviewer. He may want to use it, and otherwise I will have taken all the juice out of it. I'll come back and fill it in after the interview comes out, and we can discuss what the blankity-blank I thought I was talking about. When interviewers ask me about the "blog" it makes me realize that people can read the "blog" on the "internet" and confuse it with actual "writing." And that ought to make me nervous! But it doesn't make me quite nervous enough, apparently.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jack's Tips For Friendly Book Likers II

I just finished ANAGRAMS by Lorrie Moore. You think it's funny then BANG it hits you in the gut and BANG it gets you again. But the hilarious puns never stop, even then. Never in the field of human endeavor have puns and bad jokes of such hilarity been put to such serious purpose. In that way it made me think of WHY DID I EVER by Mary Robison, a book recommended to me by Pia Z. and one which I, in turn, now recommend to you. But who cares what books I like? One tip, though. Don't read ANAGRAMS and WHY DID I EVER back to back. In between, knock off a couple of other books as buffers or palate cleansers or something. Otherwise it'll be too much! Think of your frail constitution! Your mouth will be laughing and your brain filled with sadness. Have I expressed properly that I don't know what I'm talking about? But those are good books, I'll stick by that much. This has been one in a series of vague suggestions.

A Rare Double Shot of James Whorton, Jr.'s C-Spandemonium!

In a first for the "blog," we are happy to present a rare "two in a row" edition of "James Whorton Jr.'s C-Spandemonium!" Mr. Whorton continues his commentary on the testimony of Monica Goodling, being broadcast even as I type on C-Span 3, that most neglected of the C-Span networks. "As a PS," writes Mr. Whorton, "everyone who's been Google Imaging Ms. Goodling over the last few weeks knows there has been only 1 picture of her out there, from an alumni group retreat where she is wearing a t-shirt and holding a soft (?) drink in a plastic cup. So this appearance on C-Span 3 is our first chance to get a 2nd look at her. She's pretty. She's talking to John Conyers right now. He looks happy and relaxed and she looks nervous and unhappy." That was Jim Whorton reporting from his living room, where the TV is tuned to C-Span 3.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

James Whorton, Jr.'s C-Spandemonium!

Welcome once again to by far our most beloved recurring feature amongst the young video game enjoying "hipsters" of today's modern world: James Whorton, Jr.'s C-Spandemonium! Here's a tip from Mr. Whorton, Jr.: "Tomorrow on C-Span 3 at 10:15, Monica Goodling. She took the 5th but has been given immunity so must testify!" Mr. Whorton, Jr., followed his exclamation point with three more exclamation points on a separate line - for emphasis, we take it. He did not, however, specify AM or PM. Finding out for yourself can be part of the fun!


Phone message from Dr. "M." and the farmer, both of whom were at Friday night's organizational meeting of the Ivan Bonar Appreciation Society. They reminded me of a little detail of our Friday night conversation. The farmer was talking about some documentary makers who had come to take pictures of him on his farm. "Did they make you take your shirt off?" I quipped, little realizing how soon my thoughtless quip would come back to haunt me. "I'd rather have my picture made with my pants off than my shirt off," the farmer replied. Now I understand!

Your Body Is Changing

Here is a little item that will be of special interest to anyone who has seen me with my shirt off. A photographer just called... he's taking pictures of me for an article about my new book, YOUR BODY IS CHANGING. He said, "I don't know if you're willing, but given the title of your book, I think it would be fun to get some shots of you with your shirt off." He even tried to talk me into it when I demurred. "Nobody likes boring author shots," he said. "I do," I explained. This was a phone conversation, or I don't think the subject would have come up, as a picture of me with no shirt on would not be "fun" for anyone, except in the most awful way. Don't worry, reading public! I'm looking out for you and staying buttoned all the way to the neck.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"Fave" Lines

By coincidence, two persons have independently quoted their "fave" lines from something to me today. Jim Whorton (who, we are proud to report, informs us that he is a late blooming but enthusiastic participant in National Rewrite Your Novel Month) writes in to quote his favorite line from Chapter One of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. It's when Mr. Bennet says to Mrs. Bennet, "I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends." Meanwhile, Theresa quotes her favorite saying by the immortal Daffy Duck: "Thanks for the sour persimmons, cousin." Both lines are excellent, we think. Send your "fave" lines from things to "FAVE" LINES, c/o The Pendarvis Building. No prizes are involved. But isn't it nice to share your favorite things?

The Triumphant Return of Today's Weather

After subjecting it to a long period of shameful neglect, it is with great pride that we restore our beloved regular feature "Today's Weather" to its rightful place at the pinnacle of the "blog." Jeff McNeil says, "It was cool, and now all of a sudden it's hot. What happened?" After walking to the bank, we are as puzzled as Mr. McNeil.

The Influence of Jerry Lewis on American Literature

Okay, we're permanently and completely lifting our ban on talking about what books we're reading, though we still maintain that nobody cares. Anyway, ANAGRAMS by Lorrie Moore is quite a novel. It may even be experimental! I had to read Chapter One and the first part of Chapter Two a couple of times before I "got it" -- but after that, smooth sailing! I should emphasize that it's very accessible once you submit to it. Don't be afraid! Plus Ms. Moore is funny. I started laughing with the TITLE of the first chapter, but I won't spoil it for you here. Hey, remember THE COUNTERLIFE by Philip Roth? I'm not sure the comparison works; I'm no English professor! I may not even be a "litblogger" - the jury's still out. I do have to mention, though, with a considerable amount of relish and justification, that the long second part of ANAGRAMS begins with three epigraphs, two of which are by "blog" "faves" Lewis Carroll and Jerry Lewis. Furthermore, the Jerry Lewis quotation, which ends with the question, "What's the truth, anyhow?" has some bearing on Mr. Lewis's world view, as explored and discussed in previous "blog" "posts." This has been one in a series of reports on things that influence other things. Thank you.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Remember when we used to go through Karen's mail? Well, we haven't heard from journalist/author Karen Spears Zacharias in a long while, possibly because of all the times we went through her mail. We happily received a note today, though. Here's what Karen had to report: "I'm sitting here in Fairfax, VA, waiting on S_____ so that we can head up to Baltimore to visit Poe's grave but S_____, who is my most pokey child, insists that first she has to finish the last episode of the Gilmore Girls. S_____ doesn't have TV. She watches all her shows online. Hey, I said. My friend Jack loves that show. It's sad it's over, S_____ said. Meanwhile Poe only grows colder..." In other series finale news, VERONICA MARS has been canceled, despite earlier reports on the "blog." Always remember, the "blog" does not know what it is talking about! A cloud hangs over the Pendarvis Building.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Last night Theresa and I were taking a walk when we spotted a person smoking a cigarette and enjoying a strawberry ice cream cone AT THE SAME TIME. We tried to recall if we had ever witnessed such a thing before, and concluded that we had not. Later that evening we related our sighting to the members of the Ivan Bonar Appreciation Society, who had gathered for an organizational dinner. "I used to see that all the time in New York," someone reported. We were surprised!

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Good News

Here is some good news I have been working up my nerve to spill. I got a surprising phone call a week ago. I was invited, out of the blue, to be the 2007-8 John and Renee Grisham Writer-In-Residence at Ole Miss. We have had so many nice times and met so many good people in Oxford. Every time Theresa and I visit, we get wistful and speculate about what it would be like to live there. Now we will have a chance to find out, and not too long from now, either (I start at the beginning of the academic year). We've been told that the window of my "study" where I am expected to write (not "blog"!) looks out onto Faulkner's yard. Well, we're still taking turns pinching one another over here. Of course, that has nothing to do with the news. But this is a great honor and a rare opportunity.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What Caroline Saw

Caroline just saw me "blogging"! No one has ever seen me "blogging," not even my own wife! I feel compromised. Well, my wife (Theresa of "blog" fame) has seen me "blogging," but I thought it sounded more dramatic the other way. Theresa suggests that I should say Caroline caught me "blogging" in a long wizard robe (the implication would be that I put it on whenever I "blog") but the "blog" is not "into" lying! The "blog" is a champion of truth!

To Paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy...

Are we a "litblog"? We just might be! Consider the evidence: We broke the story that George Saunders likes Snoopy. We know what Christopher Hitchens might sort of be said to have for breakfast. We know that novelist Tom Franklin, whose books frighten so many impressionable children, is himself scared of Barbara Eden, and that novelist James Whorton, Jr., thinks people are living on the moon and says "hubba hubba" when he sees Nixon's daughters. We ate greasy spoon cuisine with a Pulitzer Prize winner. We have filed reports from poetry readings. We watch C-Span 2 and have one-sided tiffs with famous intellectuals. We recommend novels, such as THE LONG HAUL by Amanda Stern. Sometimes we "link" to a short story or poem. So, yes, to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, we just might be a "litblog." But are we? We look forward to hearing your comments! If only there were some way for people to comment directly on a "blog." But sadly there is not.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Exact Day We Threw Out Our Old Telephone

Thanks to "blogging" I can remember the exact day we threw out our old telephone!

Mr. Ward's Presidential Korner: Special Gershwin Edition Written Behind Mr. Ward's Back

Welcome to Mr. Ward's Presidential Korner, our series of insights into U.S. Presidents, courtesy of "Blog" Buddy Mr. Ward. But Mr. Ward has nothing to do with today's Presidential Korner, so if you don't enjoy it, don't blame Mr. Ward! Last night we learned something presidential from the Gerswhin bio we're reading, and here it is. A newspaper reviewer of the 1931 Gershwin musical/presidential satire "Of Thee I Sing" praised one of the stars of the show for having "something of the Herb Hoover appealing fat babyhood." Awww! They make Hoover sound like a little cutie! Who knew that he was admired for his "appealing fat babyhood"? Not this "blogger." See you next time, when Mr. Ward himself will be back with something livelier and more substantial.

Not a Typo

Yes, the movie I was "posting" about is called THE LADY FROM SOCKHOLM. I'm just telling it like it is! I know what Stockholm with a "t" is! I'm not some rube! Or, more accurately, I am the kind of rube who knows where Stockholm is. I saw it in a Bob Hope movie, that's how.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

MySpace... or "Lie" Space?

You know I have problems with "myspace." Formerly, these problems were mainly of a technical nature. But these days, MySpace is being used to make me look bad! For example, Kent Osborne has taken down his "myspace" "post" about his nemesis and replaced it with one about shortcake, thereby making me look crazy for mentioning his supposed (and now ephemeral, perhaps even apocryphal) nemesis! Shortcake is the opposite of a nemesis! Next thing you know, Sheri Joseph "posts" something on "myspace" stating that we have "not much in common." Based on Sheri Joseph's "myspace" list of "faves," I would like to mention several "faves" that she, BY HER OWN TACIT ADMISSION, has in common with me: Kelly Hogan, THE OFFICE, LOST, RESCUE ME (the first two seasons at least; we've slacked off), THE WIRE, MOBY-DICK, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD by Richard Yates, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, MADAME BOVARY, HELL AT THE BREECH by Tom Franklin, AIRSHIPS by Barry Hannah (as good as DUBLINERS and A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND, and I recommend his BATS OUT OF HELL as highly), YOUR BODY IS CHANGING by me, REMAINS OF THE DAY (in fact I just loaned it to my sister). So there! I hope this settles everything. (Pictured, Rupert Murdoch, owner of "myspace." Hey, if you want to "hang out" with "Rupe" and his happy-go-lucky friends, get yourself a "myspace" page! It's probably none of my business!)

The Stompers Have Been Strangely Silent

Our upstairs neighbors, affectionately known as "The Stompers," have been strangely silent for over two weeks now. Lately the respite between stompings seems to have lengthened. It's almost as if they are trying to make us prematurely nostalgic for our beloved neighborhood. You know, the old stompers aren't so bad! They've only lived over us for something less than six months, out of the 14 years we've been here (technically, I've been here for 14... Theresa joining me for the last 12). But now we're moving on. I've received a particular honor that will require us to leave the neighborhood, the city, the state. I've known about it for several days. I'm working up the nerve to "blog" about it. Maybe tomorrow. The trouble is, the "blog" seems to me an undignified forum from which to relate this very flattering and rather huge honor. My "blog" is one part crass commercialism and one part labored yet slapdash buffoonery. Besides, the honor I have been granted involves my writing. And as I hope I have made clear, I do not want anyone to confuse my "blog" writing with my "other" writing... yes, what I should call my "serious" writing despite (because of?) the fact that it is sometimes designed to make people laugh. Okay. I've said too much. More tomorrow. (Pictured, "Stomper," the mascot of Minnesota State University Mankato. He lives in the apartment over us, we suspect! By the way, did you know that MSU Mankato was the first public college in the US to be headed by a woman? It's true! Thanks, Wikipedia!)

What Have We Done With National Rewrite Your Novel Month?

I remember when National Rewrite Your Novel Month was about rewriting your novel, man! Well, we've reached the halfway point, or thereabouts, and the time has come to ask yourself: "Have I indeed rewritten half my novel?" Look to young Jamie Allen for inspiration. He claims not to have a novel, exactly, just "pages" of one, but is doing his best to participate. Such dedication shames us all. Let's get on the stick, people! There's still time.

The Promised Information

That new bookstore in Decatur, GA, where Sheri Joseph and I will be reading soon is called Wordsmiths. Here's some information I discovered about it on the "internet." WARNING: As the publication of my second book draws ever nearer, "blog" readers are bound to see my altruistic tendencies recede into invisibility as my coarse instincts for clumsy self-marketing blot out the sky. (Pictured, the new home of Wordsmiths Books.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Coincidences Haunt "Blog"

Here's another one for you coincidence fans! Okay... you know about the last two rather gigantic non-fiction books we've read here at the "blog": PHANTASMAGORIA by Marina Warner and GERSHWIN: HIS LIFE AND WORK by Howard Pollack (we're on p. 427 of that one and it's still as fresh as ever). Anyway, you know how a non-fiction book will often have a glossy section of photographs in the middle? That's just one way those non-fiction people have us fiction writers beat! Well, in PHANTASMAGORIA there's a full-color plate of a self-portrait by Arnold Schoenberg (this, by the way, in a book that really ought to have nothing to do with Schoenberg, but somehow he crept in). And in the Gerswhin book, there's a photo of Mr. Gershwin working on his portrait of... Arnold Schoenberg! That's right. The last two non-fiction books we have read feature PHOTOGRAPHS of PAINTINGS of Arnold Schoenberg. Lip-smackingly coincidental! Visit the "blog" again soon, for all your coincidence needs. We see them everywhere so you don't have to.

Sheri Joseph Climbs Aboard

National Rewrite Your Novel Month is growing exponentially! This just in from novelist Sheri Joseph, on her contribution to the celebration: "This is a novel I've been writing since like 1992--and yes, I do want some kind of a prize for that! Who runs this Rewrite Your Novel thing, and where are the prizes? ["Blogger's" Note: I'm in charge, thank you for asking, Ms. Joseph! But we haven't given away a prize since a DVD of the Martin and Lewis film THE STOOGE, and that was a discouraging process, unlikely to be repeated.] For several years [Ms. Joseph continues] I referred to it as 'my 8-year drawer novel' ["Blogger's" Note: because she had stuck it in a drawer] and swore it would never again see light. But I came across it by accident last summer, after I'd finally forgotten it, and decided it was pretty good. Also, I could see how to fix it... My goal is to have it to my agent by the end of May." That's the spirit, Ms. Joseph! And it fits perfectly with the timeworn traditions of National Rewrite Your Novel Month. Thanks for writing, Ms. Joseph. We mean that in every sense!


The influence of the "blog" continues to be profound and pervasive. We see that The Elegant Variation, for example, has hopped on the bandwagon RE: National Rewrite Your Novel Month. The month is almost halfway over, but better late than never! Also, Kent Osborne has followed our lead in acquiring a dreaded nemesis - a must in this day and age of complex emotions and anxieties. Yes, we all need a nemesis to keep us on our toes! Get yours today. I cannot "link" to the specific part in question of Kent's "blog" because that "post" has limited access - I guess he doesn't want his nemesis to see it! - and, as I have mentioned before, my problems with "myspace" are insurmountable and I no longer know how to "log in" and get the "scoop." But maybe you can! You're young and smart!

Helen Duncan

When we were reading Marina Warner's scholarly work PHANTASMAGORIA (as reported previously on the "blog"), we were particularly taken with the strange tale of Helen Duncan, the last person to be convicted (in 1944) under the Witchcraft Act of 1753. Well, who should mention Helen Duncan today but the respected "litblog" The Elegant Variation. We feel a bit guilty calling attention to it, as "TEV" seems somewhat ambivalent ("almost too weird to link to," they write, a phrase we can never imagine employing, which is one of our problems) about trafficking in the lurid details of James Bond's possible involvement (!) with the fate of Ms. Duncan. But allow us to openly display the relish that "TEV" perhaps feels in its heart.

June Addendum

Hello. I have already told you where I will be reading from my new book on June 2, 8, 13, 22, 27, 28, and 29. In a separate "post," I added information about June 20. Now I would like to let you know about some additional dates. On June 14th I will be reading at McNally Robinson bookstore on Prince St. in NYC, with Pia Ehrhardt and, I believe, Ben Greenman. June 16th finds novelist Sheri Joseph and me taking our Abbott and Costello-style high jinks to the opening of _____, a new bookstore in Decatur (I will come back and fill in the name of that bookstore when I track down the information). On June 26th, Ms. Ehrhardt and I will hit the Jefferson Parish library in Metairie, Louisiana, and on the 30th at 1PM we will be at the Davis-Kidd bookstore in Memphis, Tennessee for a special "still groggy" appearance (providing bookends for our previously announced Mississippi tour). After that, June is over. Thank you for your time and attention.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

More Things I Can't Do

First let me say that the intersection of Gershwin and the "blog" has turned absolutely preternatural and shivery. Why, did you know that Gershwin wrote a show called PRIMROSE for the impresario George Grossmith? That's right, the SON of the George Grossmith we have mentioned on this very "blog." Okay, put that together with donuts (a "blog" favorite immortalized by Gershwin in song) and sneezes (a primary concern of the "blog," likewise immortalized) and you must agree that the universe is focusing all of its powers on the "blog" for some reason we may never understand. (Note: if you wonder why I put PRIMROSE and SON in caps, it is because I have not mastered the use of "italics" on the "blog." I am not trying to be "cute"! For similar reasons, as I should have mentioned in my last "post," I have not been able to shift to Eastern time for the purpose of accurately pinpointing the exact moment of each and every thought I have and duly record on the "blog.") This has been one in a series of reports on things I can't do. I bid you good day. (Pictured, Heather Thatcher, who starred as the fetching and troublesome Pinkie Peach in PRIMROSE.)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bissell 'n' Me

We were wondering why we hadn't heard from "Blog" Buddy Tom Bissell in a good while... thanks to a "link" over on Maud Newton's "web" site, now we know! He's out and about looking for the graves of the twelve apostles. It can take a lot out of a fellow, something like that. Me, I just stay at home looking for the "blogs" of the twelve apostles. I'm a "virtual" explorer as they call it in the special language of "computers"! Although we did go to a great wedding today. If you will do your math, figuring that I "post" my "posts" according to "Pacific" time BUT actually live in the "Eastern" time "zone," you will note that it was a big night - I'd say we were celebrating for six or seven hours. Another thing I will say is that my mother-in-law sure can dance! She had a large circle of enthralled men down on one knee (apiece) around her, clapping in time. She's from Egypt (where a couple of apostles might be buried for all I know... take a look, Tom! That's a tip from the "blog"). Anyway, the mothers-in-law from there sure do know how to dance! There's a lot more to tell about the beautiful wedding and the happy bride and groom but I like to keep important stuff off the "blog" as much as possible.

More Gershwin Connections to "Blog" Unearthed

Yet more evidence of the strange, possibly supernatural way in which the obscurer works of Mr. George Gershwin dovetail with the special concerns of the "blog": for the SCANDALS of 1924, Gershwin wrote an "operatic parody" entitled "Sneeze." Significant! Okay, what do you want from us? They can't all be jewels! We're busy. There's a wedding today.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Mighty "Blog"

Once again the "blog" proves its mighty powers. Within scant minutes of our "post" about the troubling lack of Aquaman stories on our favorite Aquaman "blog," a brand new item appeared, restoring balance to our little world. May we take credit, or is it a coincidence of the kind upon which we love to remark? Both, maybe!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Brother-In-Law Chips In

The "Blog" Brother-In-Law (who seems awfully nonchalant for someone who's getting married on Saturday) knows how tickled we get by weird old wrongheaded superheroes, and has kindly donated a "link" purporting to name the "lamest superheroes of all time." We have mentioned one of these - Brother Power the Geek - on the "blog" before. Another, the Red Bee, strikes us as particularly charming: he has a pet bee that helps him fight crime! In conclusion, we must say a word in defense of Matter Eater Lad (pictured). I always thought he was cool when I was a kid! He could eat anything! Ah, it feels to good to say. It has been a while (over seven months!) since we were able to discuss the Legion of Superheroes (of which Matter Eater Lad is a part) on the "blog," given our publisher's qualms.


Barry B. writes in to clarify something. He did not say that J Dilla was responsible for the best hip hop he has heard in ten years. More dramatically, Barry B. proclaims Dilla's work to be the ONLY good hip hop he has heard in ten years.

Where Have They Gone, the Aquamen of Yore?

Here is a note for newcomers to the "blog." You may be confused if you "click" on the "link" I have provided over there in that column to the right - the one that refers to my "fave" Aquaman "blog" - and you do not immediately see something about the Guardian of the Deep, Aquaman. See, what Ms. Gjovaag - the proprietor of the "blog" in question - used to do was "post" a lot of summaries of old Aquaman stories - such as one in which Aquaman swims around in champagne (!) - and, regular as clockwork, they gave me a frisson of pleasure as I enjoyed my first "joe" of the day. I responded to their lovingly dry and appreciative tone, the way the most astounding plot devices were catalogued with clipped, knowing sincerity and undisguised affection. But as far as I can tell, the last time she "posted" an Aquaman summary was nearly three weeks ago! I am not complaining. I understand how someone can get tired of "blogging" about the same thing all the time. Besides, Ms. Gjovaag provides a "link" to her own Aquaman fan site right there on her "blog," so Aquaman is never really more than a "click" away. And I enjoy looking at the various things Ms. Gjovaag DOES put up. Still, I don't know, my mornings haven't been the same lately.

"Lost" In Thought

Dear Dr. "M.," Your "post" on last night's episode of LOST excites our brains with thoughts, points, and counterpoints, five of them, to be precise. We would have appended these to your "post," but given our trouble with paragraph breaks, the results would have been unsightly and perhaps unreadable. Our five responses follow: 1) Yes, Theresa also mentioned PSYCHO during the scene to which you refer. Then, as ******* began to ******* ******* the ****, she switched her frame of reference to EVIL DEAD II. By the way, I swore that I saw ****** in that scene while Theresa vowed otherwise. Thank you for validating me through freeze-frame technology. 2) Who is this Carlton Cuse you mention? One of the creators of LOST, we take it? 3) The Samantha Mathis film of which you are thinking is PUMP UP THE VOLUME. I mentioned the very same film to Theresa last night when Ms. Mathis appeared on the screen. She also played Julie "Marge Simpson" Kavner's daughter in a movie. I can't recall the film's title, but it was about a woman and her dreams of being a standup comedian and it was not PUNCHLINE starring Sally Field and Tom Hanks. 4) Here in the Pendarvis Building, we recognized Ben's father not from CHINA BEACH, but rather as Uncle Rico from NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. Now we can say that the two shows you write about most often for the "blog" - LOST and VERONICA MARS - share cast members with NAPOLEON DYNAMITE. The character "Mac" from MARS is played by Napoleon Dynamite's love interest in his eponymous film. 5) I compare the acting styles of Terry "John Locke" O'Quinn and Dick "Gold Diggers of 1933" Powell in the current issue of the Oxford American.

Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner: Weekly LOST Roundup

Welcome once again to Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner. As usual when Dr. "M." decides to discuss LOST, we have heavily edited her thoughts for the benefit of our readers who may not have seen last night's episode. We feel that those who HAVE seen the episode will get a "kick" from trying to discern the censored passages, while those who have not will titillate themselves with wild speculation. Fun for all! And now, we turn things over to Dr. "M.": "While I enjoyed last night's episode of LOST," she writes, "in which one scene in particular made me bolt from the futon up to the TV itself (think ***** *** ***!), I was dismayed by the ***** storyline. I initially appreciated the derivative PSYCHO moment with the rocking chair, but when things started ******* ******* **** ***** and when Locke actually saw ******** ** *** ****** (note: if you watch the episode on, it's easy to freeze frame that moment and get a better look at ** ******!), I was just ticked. C'mon, Carlton Cuse! I can deal with a little paranormality here and there, but ********** is just lame in this critic's book. On a different note, Ben is one sad, sick, *********** of a *********** [editor's note: This passage was censored for profanity rather than spoilers]. But he's losing his grip, people, and I for one like it! A question for my LOST comrades: do you think it odd that Richard (black eyeliner dude) is supposed to be older than Ben? And did anyone note that Ben's teacher is Samantha Mathis (who I have not seen on screen since some River Phoenix film in the late 80s/early 90s)? On a similar 'where are they now' note, a friend reports that Ben's father was the bartender on CHINA BEACH. Beaches seem to be a theme in his acting career, but he was clearly not the wing beneath Ben's wings, now was he?"

Mr. Ward's Presidential Korner 3

Last night, chagrined over the ugly turn taken by his ongoing feature on the "blog," Mr. Ward determined to think up some presidential tidbits that won't make everyone gag for a change. Some of them came forth unbidden, from that spot in Mr. Ward's brain where he hoards presidential trivia. "But in perusing my library last night," writes Mr. Ward, "I picked up a few more items from Wackiest White House Pets by Gibbs Davis (2004), Smithsonian Presidents and First Ladies by Barbera James and Amy Pastan (2002)... and the holy grail of useless presidential info... Facts about the Presidents from Washington to Johnson by Joseph Nathan Kane (1964)." Here, then, the fruits of Mr. Ward's labors: "James Monroe was the first president to ride a steamboat. William Howard Taft liked milk so much that he brought his own cow to the White House. The cow's name was Mooly Wolly. James Buchanan liked to give sauerkraut and mashed potato parties. Gerald R. Ford once worked as a fashion model. Ford was a model for Cosmopolitan and Look magazines in the 1940's. Dwight Eisenhower enjoyed painting pictures but wasn't able to draw, so he had someone else draw the pictures he painted. Calvin Coolidge loved having his head rubbed with Vaseline while he ate breakfast in bed. James Madison was the first President to regularly wear trousers instead of knee breeches. Ulysses S. Grant favorite breakfast was a cucumber soaked in vinegar. Warren Harding had the largest feet of any President. He wore size 14 shoes. Richard Nixon once worked at a game booth at the Slippery Gulch Rodeo. Andrew Jackson had a pet parrot named Poll. The parrot screamed curse words at his funeral." Easy, Mr. Ward! Save some tidbits for next time!

The Influence of Donuts on American Music

Say, do you like imaginative loops and beats? Then why not try DONUTS, a CD by J Dilla? I don't know why I haven't mentioned it before, given the concerns of the "blog." DONUTS comes with a "good time" guarantee from me and Barry B. Barry B. says DONUTS is the greatest hip hop he's heard in ten years, and he's an "old school" expert. J Dilla represents one of the few times I've introduced Barry B. to an artist of any kind. Usually Barry's the introducer! He introduced me to the majestic sounds of OP8, for example. OP8 made only one CD, and that CD has a picture of a donut on the cover. Coincidence? This has been one in a series of in-depth articles about donuts and music.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pardonable Donut Discrepancy

You know how we feel about the importance of spelling on the "blog." We like to pick one way to spell a word and go with it! Unless we don't. I am sure all you "blog" exegetes out there have noticed that we have always spelled a certain delicious snack as "donut." In the case of the previous "post," however, we made an exception in honor of George Gershwin, who chose to spell it differently.

The Unexpected Doughnuts of George G.

Longtime "blog" readers, if such creatures exist, will understand why I must remark upon the following. Others with excess energy may discover why for themselves, beginning by torturously exploring the "links" on the "post" I am "linking" to now. In any case, it behooves me to mention that George Gershwin, for one of his first shows, wrote a number called "Doughnuts," during which (in the words of the Howard Pollack biography) "the chorus sold doughnuts to the audience in order to help raise money for the Salvation Army."

Mr. Ward's Presidential Korner Temporarily Out of Order

Today Mr. Ward was trying to tell me about some of James Garfield's medical problems and I have to say it made me put my fingers in my ears and hum. I couldn't take it! Trust me, you don't want to know. Our popular regular feature "Mr. Ward's Presidential Korner" has been discontinued indefinitely but may return after retooling.

I Still Got It!

By the way, kids, the title of that last "post" was a lively "spoof" of a hit song from 1924. Oh, I've got my finger on the pulse, babykins!

California, Here I "Blog"

Worrisome reports of a big fire in Los Angeles. So we called our West Coast "Blog" Buddies to check in. My brother lives pretty close to the fire, but he says it's looking better right now from his window. And then he and I - as we do during every phone call - came up with an idea for a terrible movie. Our latest might best be described as TRON meets YOU'VE GOT MAIL. You can't see this, but I'm vomiting right now. Still, if you're a producer and you're interested, give us a call! When I got in touch with Kent he was going bowling on his lunch break. Bowling at lunch! I guess "anything goes" with these "Hollywood types." I'm sorry I said what I said about vomiting. It's not your fault, Tom Hanks! Every time I run across THAT THING YOU DO! (exclamation point not mine) on the "cable" I can't help sitting there and watching it. I find it compelling. Vivacious! And the title song gets stuck in my head.

"Blog" Grudgingly Acknowledges 700th "Post"

The "post" titled "Allan Pinkerton" was our 700th. We're afraid these last hundred "posts" have been an iffy batch at best. Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot with the sour, defeated tone of our 600th "post." With the loss of two of our most useful crutches - "posting" pictures of Lizabeth Scott and counting cigarette holders for no apparent reason - it might be that our howling emptiness was made manifest. Or perhaps the discovery of Woody Woodbury's writing style made our whole exercise seem moot. "What IS a 'blog'?" we seemed to whine over and over again. Well, later today, if we work up enough energy, we'll try to "link" to some so-called "highlights" of the last hundred "posts." But don't hold your breath.