Monday, March 31, 2008

Old-Timey Radio Report

We take time out from our old-timey book reports to pay tribute to something the young people of today enjoy even more, if possible: old-timey radio dramas. The rental car for our recent trip was equipped with Sirius satellite radio. Upon the recommendation of my brother (not to impinge too much upon his privacy, but he is employed by that particular network in an executive capacity), we listened to Channel 118, the "Radio Classics" channel. Based on a few hours of haphazard listening, I am now prepared to list the greatest old-timey radio shows in the order of their greatness: 1) The Bob Hope Show; 2) Dragnet; 3) Fibber McGee and Molly; 4) Suspense. The good ones stood out because of the scripts and the voice talent. I was particularly surprised by the quiet naturalism in both of those categories during the single episode of Dragnet we chanced upon. I'm not saying that the radio version of Dragnet is equivalent to THE WIRE, mind you, but the cops and the crooks DID have human problems and shared concerns. What can I say about the Bob Hope Show? It was snappy, light, and loose - in a word (though this claim will send a shudder deep into the soul of the author of PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION): cool. Cooler even than REGARDING HENRY. (I use that example because the author of REVOLUTION places HENRY director Mike Nichols at the epitome of cool, where he is supposed to shine down as a mighty beacon to the wretched wraith of Hope. Why can't I LET IT GO???) By contrast to the well-oiled Hope Show, Fibber McGee and Molly relied on the creakiest of stage machinery, just like the other old radio sitcoms we heard. (We won't name them because they were working so hard for us!) But the fine, seemingly offhand voice work and committed, almost classical approach to its hoary contrivances helped FM&M tower above the rest. Also, the commercials in FM&M (as I will call it for the rest of my life) were exceedingly sarcastically handled, which made for pleasurable listening and true laughs. The worst radio show ever, sadly, is "The Shadow." It hurts to say it, because you know how much we love the title character here at the "blog." I will say that one episode of "The Shadow" predicts several important plot points of LOST. (Dear Dr. "M.": Remind me to email you and tell you which ones!) This has been the final and most authoritative word on old-timey radio shows forever and ever. I base all this on three episodes of Hope, one of Dragnet, two of FM&M, two of Suspense, and two of The Shadow. We are comfortable in the knowledge that this "post" will be of no use to anyone. Remember what Jasper Johns said!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Literary Matters

I know what I promised: no more literary matters. Yet here we are. We have seven literary matters. 1) Theresa gave a Brown Bag Lecture today. She refused to let me advertise her performance in advance on the "blog." Despite the absence of this mammoth engine of publicity, however, she drew quite a crowd, which she then proceeded to mesmerize with her highly personal take on the story of Lizzie Borden. 2) Last night we were at the TurnRow bookstore in Greenwood, MS, where I had a conversation with a book club who had just finished up my story collection YOUR BODY IS CHANGING. They were insightful and kind! 3) After the reading, we went out to dinner at Lusco's with Jamie and Kelly, the owners of the store. Lusco's was founded in 1933. Much like Pink's, they display photographs of celebrities who have eaten there. Alice Ghostley, who played Esmerelda on BEWITCHED, ate at Lusco's, if my own eyes are to be believed. But the king of the celebrity diners was "blog"spiration Paul Harvey, who was represented by three or four glossies, as well as a framed page of his typewritten news report - an item from 1979 in which he mentions Lusco's. 4) Speaking of Jamie and Kelly, this "post" is illustrated with a picture of their son LITERALLY drooling over the delectable prose in a galley of my upcoming novel AWESOME. It bodes well for my chances with the much sought after males from 0-1 demographic. (Note: In the larger version of the picture, which I can't seem to reproduce here, you can see quite clearly both the title and a perfect bead of drool.) 5) Also speaking of Jamie and Kelly, TurnRow books now has a "blog." They give THIS "blog" credit for inspiring it, in terms almost too flattering to "link." 6) Last night at dinner I described how much I love the scene in NASHVILLE when Ned Beatty is waiting for eggs to boil. I stood up and demonstrated the way Ned Beatty looks while he is waiting for eggs to boil. Jamie suggested a new "blog" feature: Greatest Egg Scenes. His favorite occurs at the end of BIG NIGHT. I know we are skirting the bounds of the literary right now, but those are pretty high class movies and I'm going to say they count. 7) We are off to New Orleans for the Tennessee Williams festival. I'm on a panel with Julia Reed and James Wilcox. I'm very sorry that my copies of MODERN BAPTISTS and NORTH GLADIOLA, two funny and tender novels by Mr. Wilcox, are in storage in Atlanta right now. I'll miss out on having him sign them! Anyway, expect a slackening of the "blog." These have been our literary matters.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gene Autry Rides Again

You know of the "blog's" interest in Gene Autry. Or maybe you don't. Well, the "blog" is interested in Gene Autry. And it seems as if an old Gene Autry serial is being released on DVD, which gives me the opportunity to mention something I should have mentioned a long time ago: how much I look forward, each and every Tuesday, to reading Dave Kehr's column on new DVD releases in the New York Times. (Kehr is a Jerry Lewis fan, by the way. I'm keeping track and one day I'll publish a lavish registry of all of us - limited edition, in slipcase.) Today's column is mainly about old Gene. I hope it will not be illegal or impolite to quote an entire paragraph: "It is said that Wallace MacDonald, one of the serial’s five credited writers, came up with the concept while under the influence of nitrous oxide at his dentist’s office. That seems quite possible, given the screenplay’s furious imaginings, which include an interesting kind of television that requires no cameras (but has an inconvenient, floor-level circular screen) and 'radium bombs' posed to destroy the entire planet." (P.S. When you "click" on the Gene Autry "link" at the top of this "post," please "click" on the Tex Ritter "link" you find, though it may seem counterintuitive, to trace the entire history of Gene Autry on the "blog." I thank you in advance for spending your workday in such a fashion.)

Insinuation of the Anonymous Stranger

"That's nothing like my idea, by the way," says McNeil, reacting to the insinuation of the anonymous stranger. But it (the movie on the stranger's mind) DOES have Fred Willard in it, always a plus! And it's directed by Eugene Levy. You can see Mr. Levy in the promo for CANNIBAL GIRLS, which, as has been explained, is just too much for the delicate "blog" to handle.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dr. "M.'s" Palimpsest Korner

Welcome once again to Dr. "M.'s" Palimpsest Korner, our latest and most stimulating regular feature, in which Dr. "M." informs us whenever she runs across the pleasant and useful word "palimpsest" in the course of her daily life. It appears, she reports, in Chapter One of Michael Elliott's book CUSTEROLOGY. Palimpsest! P.S. When I was looking for an illustration with which to adorn this "post," I ran across an article called "Ethical Considerations for the Conservation of Circus Posters." I haven't read it, but the title is great, which is the most important thing.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Bitter Functionary

I was just enjoying the TV Guide Channel, where all your programming choices spin by in a dazzling display. Most of the program listings are sans description, but movies usually get a line or two. The movie RICHIE RICH was described in the following manner: "The richest boy in the world has everything he wants." That was the ENTIRE description! Either they were pressed for space or there is a bitter functionary working at the TV Guide Channel, one whose curdled sentiments and barely suppressed rancor I endorse wholeheartedly! I mean, gaze upon this abomination (left).

Our Generation!

During the delightful visit of the Barry B. family, Barry B. and I regaled one another with recreations of the lost candy bar commercials of our youth. Don't judge us! It is the nature of our generation. Old candy bar commercials are our campfire stories and we must work to keep them alive. I am put in mind of McNeil's notion of the "living 'blog'" for some reason. I reminded Barry B. of a candy bar called Peanut Butter With No Jelly. In the commercials, Peanut Butter was represented by a man and Jelly by a woman (or it may have been the other way around). In any case, Peanut Butter and Jelly undertook a tearful and irrevocable separation in vaguely tragic circumstances. This struck me as wrongheaded marketing even as a child. First, we were being reminded of how good Peanut Butter is with Jelly. Then we were being told that Jelly would have no part in our candy bar, despite the former fact. Finally, we were asked to associate the eating of the candy bar with despair and heartbreak and unutterable loss. Barry B., in turn, reminded me of a cow and an elephant who would come out and sing about the Butter Nut candy bar. Their song, in Barry B.'s telling, went like this: "It's buttery! Nuttery! Buttery! Nuttery! Buttery! Nuttery! Butter Nut!" When he sang it, I remembered it, though I could not bring to mind the accompanying capers. Says Barry B., the cow advocated for the butteriness while the elephant was more in favor of the nutteriness. At one point, the elephant accidentally said "buttery" instead of "nuttery" and the cow gave him (her?) a kiss of appreciation. The elephant seemed pleased and a fluttery musical cue indicated his (her?) complex emotions. Barry B. says that the cow and elephant were meant to resemble pop duo Sonny & Cher, in his opinion. I could not find either ad on YouTube (hence the importance of our oral tradition), though I was able to find one reference to the Butter Nut candy bar, which I present forthwith for your edification and pleasure:

McNeil Beaten?

Remember McNeil's idea for a TV movie? We have received an email here at the Module implying that McNeil has been beaten to it. Let me spend several hundred words explaining from whence the email came. Remember the man who says "palimpsest" (not to be confused with Dr. "M.," who also likes palimpsests)? The person who sent the email, a gentleman I have never met, is a friend of the man who says "palimpsest." Let me go further. The man who says "palimpsest" is also the man who has seen only one episode of STAR TREK, and the stranger who ingeniously figured out my email address and sent a message to McNeil is the person who showed the man who says "palimpsest" his one episode of STAR TREK. Are we clear on this? Very well. Now go back and review McNeil's idea for a TV movie. Done? Good. Then, if you are McNeil, "click" here to find out all about another TV movie, "link" courtesy of the STAR TREK friend of the man who says "palimpsest." If you are not McNeil, please ignore this "post" and go on about your business as if none of this had ever happened.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I went on a stroll today and a ladybug bit me on the neck! I did not know that a ladybug would bite. But a ladybug will bite. We are enjoying a visit this weekend from Barry B. and the entire Barry B. family. Barry B. was able to confirm the biting powers of the common ladybug, having been a victim. Nor was this the only subject on which Barry B. proved to be of help. He was able to correct a long unnoticed "blog" mistake. The name of the Barbara Eden movie in which she has some sort of demonic or alien baby is THE STRANGER WITHIN, not THE ENEMY WITHIN as the "blog" has repeatedly insisted.

Another Earle

Kent Osborne has a good addition/correction to make to our recent "post" about LOST. He says that in the Tom Hanks movie JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO, the Tom Hanks character stays in the Earle in NYC the night before HE TAKES A SHIP AND GETS LOST AT SEA!


Hey, remember when I had an idea for a TV show? Man, that was really something. Well, now McNeil has come up with an idea for a Lifetime Network TV movie. I don't want to give anything away, but his pitch uses the word "sodbusters" a lot.

Friday, March 21, 2008


On the front porch of a house across the street hangs a huge banner proclaiming "WELCOME GAUCHOS!" Over here we are intrigued.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Confidential to Dr. "M."

Hi, Dr. "M."! We know how you like the references in LOST. We noticed a good one tonight! ****** *** was staying at "The Hotel Earle." That's the hellish (limbo-ish?) hotel where Barton Fink (pictured) resides in his eponymous film. The motto on the Hotel Earle stationery, if I am recalling correctly, is "For A Day... Or A Lifetime."

McNeil's Movie Korner

Just LOOK at what McNeil forgot to record on his DVR! It's not the first time such a lapse has occurred. I hate to say it, but those of us who no longer have access to TCM are no worse off than those who do have access yet take it for granted and do not use it wisely. The part that really smarts is this: McNeil found out about his latest blunder - TOO LATE! - from one of his college students. Yes, McNeil has been forcing his students to watch clips of THE BIG MOUTH (see the previous "Korner"). So one guy came into class today and said he had seen "another Jerry Lewis movie." When McNeil asked which one, the kid shrugged and said, "He was on a boat." "A boat? A boat?" McNeil asked, racking his brain and sweating with anxiety. "Maybe it was HOOK, LINE & SINKER," I suggested when McNeil repeated the story to me. "No," said McNeil. "I missed my one chance to record THREE ON A COUCH. They'll never show it again." He was filled with remorse. But at least he's got the kids relating to Jerry! For McNeil, a bittersweet victory. Pyrrhic, even. Well, not Pyrrhic, technically, but you get where I'm coming from with my classical allusions and all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dr. "M.'s" Palimpsest Korner

Today's "bloggery" is turning into A Salute to Dr. "M.," and we couldn't be happier. For those of you who assumed "Dr, 'M.'s' Palimpsest Korner" was a one-shot deal, shame! As we like to remind you from time to time, Dr. "M." doesn't ONLY watch television. She is also a fancy lady with a doctorate degree who does research at the Smithsonian and other classy things! So in her class the other day, she laid this particular palimpsest (pictured) on the kids and blew their minds!

Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner, With Special Guest Star McNeil

We are graced by TWO Dr. "M.'s TV Korners in one day! We firmly believe, without checking too hard, that this has never happened in the whole history of the "blog," though there was a memorable occasion upon which we had two in a row (on successive days). Now on to the reasons behind this happy phenomenon. Dr. "M.'s" affection for BEVERLY HILLS 90210 is well documented. So you can imagine her delight in reporting that Rob Thomas (creator of "blog" "fave" VERONICA MARS) is in charge of a brand new spin-off of that show. "Click" here for the "link" provided by Dr. "M." on that subject. Now we traverse from the heights of giddiness to the Slough of Despond. (That's a little John Bunyan reference for the kids! Wheeeee!) Dr. "M." titles her next email "why does Lost make me cry?" We include it here in its entirety (with the usual spoiler-avoiding asterisks): "Boo hoo, I say! But I will say no more until I know that the blog-meister has seen the latest episode of Lost. If he has, could he tell me what book the guard was reading upside down before she ***** ******* into *** ******? Thanks! A grievance--why, oh why, Entertainment Weekly, do you insist on spoiling the last season of The Wire for those who don't have HBO?! I now just skip over any mention or photo of ****** because I don't want to know! Boo hoo to that too! Waaaaaahhh! A whiney Dr. M" Finally, speaking of sad things, it is time for another obituary. McNeil writes in to say that TV star Ivan Dixon has passed away. "He died in Charlotte!" McNeil exclaims with a kind of perverse pride in his city. "In good company!" McNeil continues. He goes on to remind us of the passing of Fielder Cook. (Pictured, John Bunyan. The kids love him!)

Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner

Dr. "M." writes in with what she calls "An executive order from Dr. M's TV Korner: Watch Extras, Season 2. Is there anything funnier than Daniel Radcliffe/Harry Potter accidentally slinging a ******* onto Dame Diana Rigg's head? I don't think so!" We will take your word for it, Dr. "M."! Speaking of words, we apologize for replacing one of yours with a row of asterisks in a decision handed down by the "blog's" editorial board. (Pictured, Dame Diana Rigg.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Message to the People of Spain

Longer than my message to the people of California: "I love your wine!" (It does not taste like banana popsicles.)

As I Glanced Back Fondly

I was glancing back fondly over some old MGMIEETs when I ran across one ("click" here) that nicely encapsulates some of our recent discussions.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Dear Bird Correspondent

DJ Gnosis brings news from Atlanta. A great blue heron has taken up residence in the Publix parking lot. As an Atlanta resident yourself, Dear Bird Correspondent, have you heard about this? Have you seen it? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fred Willard's Character's Way of Thinking

I should have remarked that in that Michael Hitchcock short I shared with you earlier, the character played by Fred Willard expresses his literary theory: "Large type and lots of photographs." (I may have misquoted slightly due to my decrepitude, which is well known.) It certainly ties in with the similar literary theories of myself and Mr. McNeil as recorded on this very "blog," so I just wanted to give a "shout out" to Fred Willard's character's way of thinking.

The Clock

Just watched the Vincent Minnelli movie THE CLOCK on the recommendation of Mark Childress. It has emboldened me to make another unsubstantiated claim about Martin Scorsese, which I might check for veracity through the power of the "internet," but won't due to extreme laziness. Nonetheless, I believe THE CLOCK must have had a lot of influence on Scorsese. Parts put me in mind of NEW YORK, NEW YORK - other parts, a benevolent version of AFTER HOURS. I won't get into that, because I want you to watch THE CLOCK and don't want to spoil it for you by telling too much. I will remark on one particularly striking way in which I believe it inspired Scorsese. Toward the end of THE CLOCK, Robert Walker and Judy Garland are in a diner, eating soup, and at a table behind them there is the nosiest extra you have ever seen in a movie. The scene is pointedly echoed in THE KING OF COMEDY during a dinner date between De Niro and Diahnne Abbott. Watch both movies and you'll know what I'm talking about. Watch them now, I said!

A Funny Show For You to Enjoy

Hey, remember when Jennifer Coolidge became my "myspace" friend? Well, guess what, so did Michael Hitchcock, who has been in a number of good movies with Ms. Coolidge. Here's the interesting part: I have neither met nor communicated with either of them in any way! But thanks to the world of "computers" we are friends! In fact, I made Michael Hitchcock one of my "top friends" for no justifiable reason. I guess I was just feeling fancy! I don't know why I can't get a response from Mickey Rooney, Jr. It is my fault, not his! Here is a funny show I enjoyed on Michael Hitchcock's "myspace" page. I hope you will enjoy it, too.

Still No Word

Still no word from Mickey Rooney, Jr.

The Usual

To my recent "post" about HIPSTER HEGEMONY and THE CONQUEST OF COOL, I should have appended the usual postscript about how the universe doesn't want you to have any ideas you can call your own, and how "googling" will help you realize this depressing but important fact. I don't mean to bring you "down"! I'm just "telling it like it is"!

McNeil's Gold Medal International Emergency Exit Theatre Triple Header

Could this really be the return of MGMIEET? Today's MGMIEETTH would seem to augur well. First McNeil sent this. Then this. Then that. They're coming in threes now. Oh, it augurs well indeed. MGMIEETs work best sans endnotes, but just to ease you back into the MGMIEET world, especially in the chaos and excitement of such an abundance of clips, here are a few handy tips that will keep you from going mad with wonder and delight: Look for "blog" mainstays Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, and Dagwood and Blondie. The clip in the middle is the first TV show I ever recall watching, as future historians and hagiographers may wish to note.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Too Well

Phil is doing his job as foreword writer for our imaginary book HIPSTER HEGEMONY too well! As our expert, he informs us that someone has already come up with our book, and that it is a good one. It's called THE CONQUEST OF COOL by Thomas Frank. But Mr. Frank's sounds like a worried book, maybe, whereas McNeil and I are GLAD Dean Martin made all those movies and Bob Hope and Phyllis Diller sometimes dressed up like hippies. We're just sorry they didn't do it more often! Then there's our focus on the mainstream 60s comedy film as duplicitous defuser of cultural anxiety. And our pretty pictures! We bet Mr. Frank's book doesn't have as many pictures of the various magnificent carpets and lamps of Mr. Jerry Lewis as ours will. Although Mr. Frank does apparently have some good illustrations and interesting things to say about them. "Click" here for an example. This "post" has worn me out. Now I'm too tired to write a book.

Milestones In Hipster Hegemony

HIPSTER HEGEMONY, the nonexistent scholarly tome/oversized coffee table book that McNeil and I plan to get around to writing one day, is back on the radar! First, an email from Phil Oppenheim yesterday, placing an advance order for two (2) copies. I told Phil that if he writes the foreword, he can have two (2) copies for free. He said yes! So I guess it's a go. Later that day, DJ Gnosis came into town for a visit (along with Shana, I'm happy to report). He's the man who came up with the title HIPSTER HEGEMONY to begin with. DJ Gnosis saw a DVD of I'LL TAKE SWEDEN lying on the coffee table here and proclaimed, "We're watching that tomorrow night." And somehow, with his smooth DJ charm, he talked Theresa and Shana into agreeing. Yes, all the wheels are turning. So you publishers out there scanning the "internet" for the next big idea, I just want to remind you that HIPSTER HEGEMONY is about "the way that 'subversive' culture was absorbed and repackaged by mainstream comedies of the 60s." But don't worry! Our scholarly musings will not frighten the reading public! In point of fact, McNeil and I plan on writing as little as possible. We are always coming up with exciting new ways to take up more pages with less text. Mostly the book will be glossy pictures of attractive movie stars standing on brightly colored carpet. Call my agent and let's get this ball rolling. (Pictured, shag carpet.)

Friday, March 14, 2008


Everyone who uses the "internet" will be excited and fascinated to know that I am now reading PIANO by Jean Echenoz. It is the second Echenoz book I have picked up in recent weeks. Page count: 179. Just on the high end of my range! And there's a reference to the Dean and Jerry movie ARTISTS AND MODELS on page 24. I think I have contracted Echenoz Fever, a bad case, but I should think of a better word, a play on "eczema" maybe. Echenozma? I'll work on it. In the meantime, you know how suggestible I am because I brag about it all the time. So I will tell you that I have finished a decent draft of my "detective" novel and have produced about six pages - thanks to Echenoz - of a "French" novel. SOMEBODY STOP ME BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

An Urgent Message to Mickey Rooney, Jr.

I want Mickey Rooney, Jr. - son of the original Mickey Rooney - to be my "myspace" friend! The trouble is that due to some recurring technical issues, I cannot at this time request "myspace" friends or send "myspace" messages! In other words, Mickey Rooney, Jr., YOU will have to request MY friendship, though it should certainly be the other way around. I do hope you are "googling" yourself today and will come across this important request, Mickey Rooney, Jr.! ("Click" here for Mickey Rooney, Jr.'s "myspace" page.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Thought of Four More Things, For a Total of Eleven Things of Which I Have Thought

I thought of four more things to say about RALLY 'ROUND THE FLAG, BOYS! 1) It gives you a chance to see Paul Newman trying out his method acting up against the unapologetic mugging of Mr. Mooney of THE LUCY SHOW fame. (Yes, I am aware that you have never heard of Mr. Mooney or THE LUCY SHOW, so here's your chance to do some research for extra credit!) 2) Yes, the title has an exclamation point in it, but the fun doesn't stop there! There's a comma and an apostrophe, too! 3) SPOILER ALERT! Like all good movies, it features a chimpanzee wearing underpants. 4) This one is a warning. It contains a long Native American skit of the unfortunate kind that prevented us from giving a proper obituary tribute to Joey Bishop. The skit begins with a dance number that you are almost tempted to forgive because of the interesting gyrations of Joan Collins and Tuesday Weld. The skit devolves thereafter into a certain kind of mayhem that will put you in mind of ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES (directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, with whom I once shared an elevator) or BUFFALO BILL & THE INDIANS (also starring Newman, this time with an ampersand in the title) but lacking the rather more enlightened attitude of those films.

7 Points of Interest

The cable went out today, but I didn't let that stop me! I watched RALLY 'ROUND THE FLAG, BOYS! (1958) on DVD. In seven main ways, it perfectly reflects the filmic interests of the "blog." 1) The actors include "blog" faves Jack Carson, Dwayne Hickman, and Tuesday Weld (pictured). 2) It nearly perfectly encapsulates the "swinging suburbanite" chapter in the yet-to-be-written coffee table book HIPSTER HEGEMONY by myself and Mr. McNeil. 3) It is one in that series of films that anticipates the TV series MAD MEN. 4) That whole "adultery as comedy" thing. 5) It generates another tepid response from my tattered 1993 Leonard Maltin Movie and Video Guide, driving another wedge between myself and Mr. Maltin. "Wit is noticeably lacking," he moans pitiably. Or harrumphs preeningly. Or something. 6) It demonstrates the period-appropriate pop-culture fascination with/fear of psychiatry. 7) Like AVANTI! and THAT THING YOU DO! (but unlike BADLANDS and I AM CUBA) it has an exclamation point in the title.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nice Dinner

A very nice dinner at the home of a very nice couple who - as became clear in the course of ordinary conversation - LOVE Jerry Lewis! You will notice that I am not using their names, but not to protect them from the supposed shame of loving Jerry. There is NO SHAME IN THAT. It's just that I don't feel comfortable bandying about their names in "blog" form without their permission. It's too soon in the friendship! Maybe they don't like "blogs" for all I know. But they love Jerry! They moved from Brooklyn to Oxford at the exact same time that Theresa and I moved from Atlanta to Oxford. The gentleman says - and I have no reason to disbelieve him - that Martin Scorsese taught an entire class on THE NUTTY PROFESSOR at NYU. Because this is a "blog," I am going to take his word for it without checking. Also, because he is the type of guy who would know and I trust him and why would he lie? Besides which, I WANT to believe it. It validates a theory I once expressed on this very "blog" about the influence of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR on GOODFELLAS.

Another Interesting Obituary

Ran across another interesting obituary in the New York Times. You may read it by "clicking" here. Ms. Cornioley's name, at the time of her adventures behind enemy lines, was Pearl Witherington. Now I must tell you that by an astounding coincidence, there is an old woman who claims to be a former spy in the detective novel I am working on... and that character's name is Pearlie Withers! Yet I have never read about or heard of Pearl Witherington before today. It reminds me of the time that Joyce Carol Oates and I came up with the same character name in separate pieces of fiction about Mark Twain. Just forget the coincidence, though, and enjoy the story of Ms. Cornioley's life.

Monday, March 10, 2008

McNeil's Movie Korner

Back from an eventful and happy trip. And who should be waiting in the inbox to keep the "blog" going but McNeil, with another edition of his famous "Movie Korner"? McNeil reports that you can now see "almost the entire [Jerry Lewis] film THE BIG MOUTH on YouTube." I have not vetted McNeil's statement, as I am weary, but I trust old McNeil. McNeil is highly pleased by Jerry's antics in THE BIG MOUTH (overjoyed might not be too strong a word), and notes - with five enthusiastic exclamation points - that Charlie Callas is in the film. We now officially add Charlie Callas to the hallowed ranks of Arnold Stang, Fess Parker, Lee Iacocca, and all the other people of whom you "blog" readers are too young and tasteful to be aware. We are happy to inform McNeil that "internet" "research" finds Mr. Callas still hard at work: his film HORRORWEEN is due out next year. It is directed by Joe Estevez (Martin Sheen's brother), a gentleman I once met at a party in Mobile, Alabama. But that (like my arcane knowledge of Carol Channing's dietary habits) is for another "post"! I'm tired, remember? Hey, once when I was standing around with Mr. Ward and Mark and Kent Osborne in Santa Monica, I met Martin Sheen - if chasing Martin Sheen down the street is considered "meeting" him. Why was I chasing Martin Sheen down the street? Once again - I'm tired. What do you people want from me? All will be revealed in due time. Though apparently I am not too tired to find a picture of Charlie Callas with which to decorate this "post," nor to locate the "web" site of Mr. Callas, which employs the kind of audio feature that McNeil enjoys so much. Hey, if I don't "post" enough for you over the next few days because of my weariness, you should spend some time reacquainting yourself with this movie-related "link." We've added a bunch of new titles recently.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

One Last Thing

And in case you run out of things to ponder, I just found out from careful scrutiny of "She Blogged By Night" that you can watch the "blog's" "fave" W.C. Fields short, "The Fatal Glass of Beer," on the "internet"! That "internet" is really something. You can watch W.C. Fields or read a story by Donald Barthelme on the "internet." I'm sorry for all the bad things I've ever said about it. The Fields short comes from the same "web" site that gave us SHAKE HANDS WITH DANGER. Formidable!

Friendly "Links"

"Blogging" time grows short. Thankfully, I have friends who send me "links." Here are some "links" for you to look at during a fallow time for the "blog." The first one comes from Phil Oppenheim, who sent it to me because it is about Superman. For that "link," "click" here. The second one is about Helen Keller. Dr. "M." knows that Helen Keller came from Alabama, a fact possibly burned into her brain by my special apolitical karaoke lyrics to "Sweet Home Alabama," in which I list all the great people, like Helen Keller, who came from Alabama. In any case, that (the Alabama connection) is why Dr. "M." sent me this "link." Finally, McNeil forwards his email reminder from TCM that BOEING, BOEING will air on March 12 at 10 PM EDT. There, that should hold you.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Phil's Radio Korner

Welcome to a special video edition of Phil's Radio Korner. "The Fall's new opening act [I, Ludicrous - ed.] sounds like a Fall cover band!" writes Phil. We are not sure if his exclamation point indicates delight, dismay, or bemusement, but here is his quite persuasive proof:

Dr. "M.'s" Palimpsest Korner

The word "palimpsest" figured heavily in a chapter of Dr. "M.'s" dissertation, she would have us know. She also found use for it in a recent job interview. Uncannily, mere minutes after relaying that information in an email, Dr. "M." ran across "palimpsest" on page 11 of Frederick Jackson Turner's "Significance of the Frontier in American History." "I am being taken over by palimpsests!" cries Dr. "M.," if one can cry via email. Dr. "M." would like us to know also that there is "another kind of turtle called a cooter." Please note our restraint given that we did not title this "post" Dr. "M.'s" Cooter Korner. Pictured, a cooter.


McNeil thinks I have confused everyone by putting up a picture of the CADDYSHACK gopher when a picture of a gopher tortoise would have illustrated my point with more accuracy. He also thinks I "go back and forth too much," putting contradictory pictures into the reader's head. To put it plainly, then: in the Errol Morris movie under discussion, an old man (according to the VHS box and the general attitude of the film) "thinks his pet turtle is a gopher." According to the film and the VHS box, then, the old man is crazy. But the truth is that the man's "turtle" (actually, a tortoise) IS a gopher (as the gopher tortoise is commonly called for short). Therefore, the film and its packaging are making fun of the old man for no reason. The old man does not "think" his pet is a gopher. His pet IS a gopher! Okay! Here is a picture of Gopherus polyphemus to clear everything up. Thanks, McNeil! Now I seem even crazier than before. How's that gopher picture? Big enough for you, McNeil?

Mr. Ward's Rebuttal

In an email entitled "Rebuttal," Mr. Ward writes: "In response to what was referred to as 'the greatest hour of television ever' on your blog, I think you may have overlooked the one truly greatest hour which aired 6 months earlier, on October 29, 1976. 'The Paul Lynde Halloween Special' remains quite possibly the most 70's-esque piece of entertainment ever produced. Besides Paul Lynde, guest stars included Witchie Poo from HR Pufnstuf, Donny and Marie, Florence Henderson (who sings a disco version of 'That Old Black Magic'), Tim Conway, Billy Barty, Betty White, KISS, and yes, Roz 'Pinkie [sic] Tuscadero' Kelly who, with Paul, performs the song 'Disco Baby.' Top that. Clips - Paul Lynde as the Rhinestone Trucker; lots of CB jokes; Paul interviews KISS with the help of Margaret Hamilton."


The answer to yesterday's trivia question is JASON HEADLEY. Thanks to everyone for your excellent guesses. The only person who guessed correctly was Jason Headley.

Return of the Man Who Says Palimpsest

Yesterday I went to see the doctor (some things are none of your business!) - not Dr. "M.," the regular doctor! Anyway, she used the word "violaceous." And I was like, "Good one, Doc!" It reminded me of the time a few weeks ago when I ran into the man who says "palimpsest" at the City Grocery Bar. During a brief conversation on amiable bar-related topics (specifically, the trough system employed in the men's room), this fellow quite casually used the words "expatiate" AND "interregnum." And he had had a few beers! But he didn't let that stop him! I meant to tell you before.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner: Once Married to Michelle Pfeiffer

"Oh boy oh boy! It has gotten good, people." Thus begins another episode of Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner. Dr. "M" is referring to the televised program LOST. "I am a big fan of Jeremy Davies," she writes, "although I think he may be playing himself...or at least a version of his characters from Rescue Dawn [a Werner Herzog film - ed.] and Dogville. That dude is some kind of skinny." Dr. "M." goes on to mention that Fisher Stevens (who appeared on the most recent episode) was once married to Michelle Pfeiffer. You know, I mentioned this same thing to several people who did not care. One such instance happened during a conference with a student. The student was wearing a Joss Whedon [creator of FIREFLY - ed.] t-shirt, which prompted me somehow - there is no direct connection - to tell him that Fisher Stevens had once been married to Michelle Pfeiffer. But no one cares! No one cares but me and Dr. "M.," which is why her note cheered me up so much. Finally I will append a note from McNeil, because it deals with television. In the course of researching his novel-in-progress, the plot of which spans several decades, McNeil has stumbled across a program listing for what he calls "the greatest hour of television ever." It's an episode of THE BRADY BUNCH VARIETY HOUR. Here is the description: "April 25, 1977, 8pm. Guests: Rick Dees and the 'What's Happening!!' kids (Ernest Thomas, Haywood Nelson, Fred Barry, and Danielle Spencer). Songs: 'Dis-Gorilla' by Rick Dees; 'Thank God I'm A Country Girl' by Ann B. Davis." (Pictured, Fisher Stevens and Ann B. Davis.)

A Snake

Last night there was also a good story about snakes. Then I came home and saw this clip (above) on television. Please watch it all the way through. It made me laugh and sort of panic. Theresa and I consider Jack Hanna (the man with the snake) to be David Letterman's ideal guest. We like to parse their complicated relationship. Trivia question: Which "Blog" Buddy is a huge Letterman fan? Look for the exciting answer tomorrow!

Monday, March 03, 2008

A Dream of Nuts

For a few more days, he is still the FBIL. And he is dreaming about the "blog"! Here is what my future brother-in-law dreamt about the "blog." Afterward, I will tell you why it is so freaky! Now, the FBIL: "So, this morning I had a dream about your blog. I dreamt that you posted an entry about nuts, and that it was the greatest blog entry ever. In my dream, your readers had the ability to post comments about your blog, and within seconds of the posting of the 'nut blog,' there were hundreds of comments, all of which congratulated you for the greatness of the 'nut blog.' As to the actual content of the 'nut blog,' sadly I have no recollection. All I remember is the comment I typed in just before I woke up: 'Great blog! How about salted and unsalted?'" Here ends the FBIL's transmission. Now I will reveal the freaky part. Just a little while ago I returned from "teaching" a class. One of the stories we went over relied heavily (and effectively) on nut imagery! The word "nuts" was in the title, even. The last scene in the story involved the delicious saltiness of nuts. Then I checked the email and found the preceding message about dream nuts and the relative saltiness thereof. It is as if the FBIL was reading the collective mind of my youthful charges. On an unrelated note of freakiness, I would like to warn everyone that the Werner Herzog piece to which I "linked" earlier contains some disturbing and blithely presented subject matter, way more disturbing and blithe than the Lizzie Borden song which used to creep us out so much. I'm not kidding. If you are likely to be creeped out by things pretty regularly, as I am, maybe you will want to read the little article summary at the top of the page before deciding whether or not to continue. (Pictured, a blue jay with a peanut in its beak. Thank you for your time and attention.)

The Old Man Was Right and Everyone in Your Dorm Room Was Wrong

"Blog" fave Werner Herzog interviews Errol Morris, and visa versa, in the new BELIEVER magazine. This brings up something that has been on my mind ever since I first read the back of the VHS box for Morris' film VERNON, FLORIDA (which is mentioned early in the article). The back of the box (and the film itself, I assert) invites the viewer to laugh knowingly at an old man who "thinks his pet turtle is a gopher" (or words to that effect). Here is what has been on my mind since the 1980s: DON'T LAUGH AT THAT OLD MAN! That kind of tortoise is CALLED A "GOPHER." That's what my grandfather called it. BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT IT IS CALLED. Say you were a scientist. You would call that animal a "gopher" or a "gopher tortoise." It would not mean that you thought your tortoise was a furry mammal such as you have seen digging up Jerry Lewis's garden and squirting water in Jerry Lewis's face in the film HOOK, LINE, AND SINKER or pestering Bill Murray in CADDYSHACK. In fact, my 1981 Webster's collegiate dictionary gives "land dwelling tortoise" as the PRIMARY definition of gopher. The PRIMARY definition, laughers! That means the old man should have been laughing at you! But he was probably too polite. The old man says, at one point, that his pet is "not a turtle," which would seem to add to the very "smart" hilarity. BUT HE IS MAKING A DISTINCTION, probably based on the gopher tortoise's landlocked, burrowing, non-aquatic lifestyle. In case you think I am lying, and that it is great fun to laugh at an old man who "thinks his pet turtle is a gopher," here is a "link" to a sanctuary where gophers are allowed to thrive far away from our wryly deadpan gaze. It's in Alabama! Boy, I'm glad I finally got that off my chest.

A List of Nine Things

I have a list of nine things to do today. Do you know how many I have done? Some. I have done some of them. I made an appointment to get a haircut, for example. Man alive, this is where "blogging" shines! For example, I can tell you the last time I got a haircut: July 21, 2007. I know what you are thinking: "What a maverick! That is a long time to wait between haircuts, Jack Pendarvis!" You probably want a few "links" like this or this so you can see how shaggy it [his hair - ed.] was getting. It is even shaggier today, if you can imagine such an interesting thing. By an astonishing stroke of fortune I just spoke on the telephone with McNeil, who was ON HIS WAY TO GET A HAIRCUT. But you are probably more interested in my haircut. You probably want to know, "Why a haircut now? Why now, Jack Pendarvis?" I will tell you why now! Because my sister is getting married! That's right! For our family, it is a wonderful occasion, but I know what you are thinking: "How will this marriage affect the 'blog'?" Two main ways. First, "blogging" is going to slow down over the next several days. Second, we have to think of a new name for the FBIL, whose initials used to stand for "future brother-in-law." We must think of something that will not cause you to confuse him with the old brother-in-law, occasionally [just once - ed.] referred to as the PBIL. There is also another brother-in-law (ABIL) for that matter. Let me be perfectly clear. Theresa has a brother. He is my brother-in-law. Theresa's sister has a husband. He is Theresa's brother-in-law and my brother-in-law. My sister is about to wed a husband, who will then be my brother-in-law and Theresa's brother-in-law. I have a brother who is Theresa's brother-in-law, but for "blogging" purposes I just call him "my brother," so that does not affect the "blog." It might also be observed that I myself am a brother-in-law several times over. Don't worry, everybody! We are going to work it out.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Today In Hot Dog News

I don't mean to brag or anything, but tonight we're going over to John T.'s for some Lobel's hot dogs. That reminds me of a story! Last night at dinner, people were talking about "pink shirts." I remarked that I had a "pink shirt." But they really meant "Pink shirts," as in shirts you buy from Mr. Thomas Pink of London. To divert attention from (or possibly accentuate) my idiocy, I remarked that Pink also made great hot dogs. Ha ha! Wheeeeee! I was having some fun then. I was coyly referring to Pink's hot dogs in Los Angeles. Last time I ate there, I had the privilege of sitting under a large autographed picture of Jerry Lewis. By strange coincidence I also bought an expensive shirt that day, the same day I ate at Pink's, no kidding, the most expensive shirt it has ever been my displeasure to buy. But that's a "post" for another occasion! By another strange coincidence, if you "click" on the Pink's hot dog "link" above, then go to the "star photos" section, you may see Christopher Lloyd, of recent "blog"templation, with a Pink's hot dog. This has been your hot dog news for today, March 2, 2008.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Some Corrections

"The Ekberg Objection" was our "post" with the Ludlum-like title - not "The Ekberg Misdirection," as previously reported. I mean, "The Ekberg Misdirection" sounds pretty Ludlummy, but "The Ekberg Objection" came first, so the honors must go to it in all fairness. Incidentally, we were at a dinner party tonight and someone used the phrase (for reasons too complicated to explain at the moment, or ever) "The Lazarus Chicken," which I thought at the time was reminiscent of Ludlum but now I don't know. Is it more like Bradbury? Finally, Phil has changed his mind about the greatest "web" site of all time. It's not the one he said it was before. It is THIS one ("click" here) instead, or so he claims. I think he was right the first time. (Pictured, Ms. Ekberg. Hey, she came up at dinner tonight, too, indirectly! We were talking about her big scene in LA DOLCE VITA, the one in which she traipses around in the fountain with a kitten [not pictured] on her head - but the scene was mentioned in passing, the focus of the comment was the Trevi Fountain itself, and Ms. Ekberg did not really come up, if you want to get technical about it.)

The Vilus Clarification

This is our second "post" (after "The Ekberg Misdirection") with a title that sounds like a Robert Ludlum novel. Kent just wanted everyone to know that he knew that Vilus Bridge's name was Vilus Bridge. When he typed "Vilus Blue," he believes that he must have been thinking subconsciously of Vida Blue, the famed pitcher. Kent remembers Vilus Bridge wearing his Yoda hat. At the time, it recalled to him the image of Brother Jim (Christopher Lloyd, pictured) wearing an "E.T." button on TAXI.