Saturday, May 31, 2008

Crazy Stang

Our friend Joey loaned us a DVD of a documentary called CRAZY LOVE which, by coincidence, had also been recommended by Dr. "M." The packaging says it's a "disturbing true story of an obsessive relationship gone awry in 1950s New York." We watched it tonight and yes, "awry" is a nice word for it! As you know, we don't like to talk about "disturbing" things on the "blog" if we can at all help it, but I do feel obligated to mention a part of the film in which someone described her first impression of the male subject of CRAZY LOVE: "He looked like... should I say it...?" Then there was a long pause while the interviewee thought about whether or not she should drop the bombshell. Finally she decided to go ahead and throw caution to the wind and say who he looked like. "Arnold Stang." Remember, she was talking about someone who might be considered a monster of manipulation, a man of extraordinary callousness and brutality, but it took her a second to decide whether or not comparing his looks to Arnold Stang's might be going a little too far. There. I have dutifully logged another reference to Arnold Stang. NOW who's obsessive?

The Satellite

Hey! We got "the satellite" instead of "the cable." Do you people realize what this means? I CAN PAUSE THE TV! I have not yet grown weary of pausing the TV and walking around the house joyously contemplating the fact that the TV is paused. I can also record movies AND WATCH THEM LATER! I do not believe it is an exaggeration to call this phenomenon a holy miracle. For instance, ROCK-A-BYE BABY, starring Mr. Jerry Lewis, came on at four the other morning yet I am WATCHING IT RIGHT NOW! In fact I have PAUSED it to share the above "clip" of it with you. You're welcome! Now if you will excuse me I must go UNPAUSE THE TV!

Friday, May 30, 2008


Which of course stands for McNeil's Gold Medal International Emergency Exit Theatre: Le Kangourou Edition. Looks like it's dance craze day at the "blog." McNeil was searching YouTube for an obituary tribute to Harvey Korman when, in his words, "I found something better instead. I think the blog should be focused on bringing back Le Kangourou!"

And I Quote

A little while back I had the awesome song "Peanut Duck" as my "myspace" "profile song," which has led "blog" icon Verdell to send me an interesting "link" about the song "Peanut Duck." I am very, very, very, very happy to report that the article contains a quotation from the lyrics of "Peanut Duck," which I reproduce here for your consideration and, indeed, mystical enlightenment: "Quack, quack, quackgiggy, quackgiggy, brrrrrrrrr, quack, quack, giggy, giggy, gi-gi-gi-giggy-gooma, gi-gi-gi-gi-gi quackgiggy, quackgiggy, gi-gig-goom, gi-gig-goom, gi-gig-goom-goom."

Headline Chicanery!

Hey, the New York Times is trying to make me look crazy. They've altered a headline to which I have fulsomely referred. It used to say "Monkeys Control a Robot Arm With Their Thoughts," which was, as you know, the greatest headline ever. Now they've changed it online to "Monkeys Think, Moving Artificial Arm as Own," which, as art, stinks, frankly. I hate to keep harping on this subject, as the more I think about those monkeys the sadder I become about the whole situation.

Purple J

Dr. "M." would like to add herself to the growing chorus of people who think I look like Guillermo del Toro. "I know you won't believe me," she writes, "but I had thought the same thing about your del Toro resemblance months ago when I saw his photo in EW. On another note," (Dr. "M." continues), "every time I buy cat litter I say to the pet store salesperson, 'I'll take a bottle of Everclear, just kidding.' I say this because the brand of litter [the Farmer] and I regularly purchase goes by the name of Ever Clean. Well today my witty quip sparked the clerk and I to reminisce about drinking Purple J**** out of a bathtub at high school parties. Not the same parties, mind you, since I think he is still in high school." Note: Dr. "M.'s" beverage of choice is named after a famous deity and we choose not to give offense by spelling it out, though it occurs to us that John Turturro played a character of the same name in THE BIG LEBOWSKI and wore a lot of purple. Coincidence? Needless to say, the "blog" does not endorse the drinking of alcohol by minors. We merely reflect society in all its glorious array.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

True Story

The other day I was sitting around when I suddenly thought, "I'd like to see an Oliver Platt movie." True story! ("Click" here or here for others in our fashionable "true story" series.)

The More I Think About Those Monkeys

The more I think about those monkeys in the New York Times, the worse I feel about their living and working conditions. Perhaps I am being too sensitive! Although I still admire the way "Monkeys Control a Robot Arm With Their Thoughts" hangs together as a headline, perhaps the situation is not something of which to make sport. It reminds me of the time I became disillusioned by the Soupy Sales impersonator on the "internet." Speaking of which, "D. From Atlanta," who introduced me to the magisterial if distasteful work of the Soupy Sales impersonator, feels just awful about wounding my tender sensibilities. He writes, "I feel so bad about that Soupy Sales link, I found something that any mother would find interesting on the internets."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Monkeys Control a Robot Arm With Their Thoughts

If there is anything we love, it is monkeys, followed closely by robots and thoughts. So imagine how much we love this headline in the New York Times, which I hereby claim as my personal slogan: Monkeys Control a Robot Arm With Their Thoughts.

McNeil Inspires Young Artists of Tomorrow

"By the way," writes Mark Osborne, "my last email was directly inspired by McNeil's apple photo updates. Sorry to hear that McNeil's camera phone is on the fritz."

I Am Guillermo del Toro

"Did you know that you are actually the acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro?" writes Mr. Ward. And I must admit that when I opened the attachment seen here (granted, it was much smaller than it appears here and my old peepers aren't what they used to be) my first thought was, "I don't remember posing like that." But it wasn't me! It was Guillermo del Toro. Mr. Ward takes thoughtful pains to say that I do not look like Guillermo del Toro during one of his periods of weight gain, but then again Mr. Ward hasn't seen me lately. Mr. Ward is distancing himself from the woman handing out samples in the grocery store who proclaimed me the double of Michael Moore. Another admission: Mr. Ward is the second person to say I look like Guillermo del Toro. The other was a writer who worked with Guillermo del Toro, and who said that I both looked AND acted like Guillermo del Toro. Of course, the latter conversation took place at the City Grocery Bar, where one or more of us might not have been "with it" entirely.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This Is the Back of Harrison Ford

It looks like the "blog" just narrowly missed out on receiving updates from the Cannes Film Festival, thanks to our good friend Mark Osborne, whose new film KUNG FU PANDA was showing over there, in the land of "France." Here is a picture of Harrison Ford's blue t-shirt. Yes, that is Harrison Ford's back. Mark annotates: "Jack! I just realized that I should have been sending you Cannes updates for your blog! What a missed opportunity. Maybe I can send you random 'big time Hollywood updates' once in a while like this one: Dateline Cannes- Rumor has it that Indiana Jones sure likes finger sandwiches! Here he is filling up a tiny plate with them in the Cannes press suite. [My buddy] John Santry commented, 'it looks like the guy in the foreground was just told he was eating chilled monkey brains.'"

Goodbye, Sweet Guanciale

You know L&M, the place where we like to eat our guanciale? Well, they're shutting it down. Yes, someone would rather see a condo in its place, some sick fellow! So please, if you are wise, come to Oxford and eat at L&M before June 28, 2008. It would not be too much to say that L&M is one of the reasons that Theresa and I moved to Oxford. Hurry! The "blog" is usually reserved for peppiness and happiness but what do you want? Life is not good all of the time.

Now For the Gruesome Cajolery

Another book tour (this one for AWESOME) is in the works. As usual, I like to give you months and months to think about it. Here's the way it looks so far. Mark your calendars! July 11: Square Books in Oxford, MS. July 12: TurnRow Books in Greenwood, MS. July 21: Lemuria Books in Jackson, MS. July 22: Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, LA. July 23: Jefferson Parish Library, Metairie. July 24: Octavia Books, New Orleans. August 5: Changing Hands Book Store, Tempe, Arizona! August 6: Book Passage in San Francisco, CA. August 8: Books, Inc. (also San Francisco). August 9: Book Soup in Los Angeles, a city best known as the home of Verdell. August 14: an A Cappella Books special event at the Highland Inn, Atlanta, GA! That one is right across the street from our old apartment and just up the block from Manuel's Tavern, plus I'll have my ideal opening act: Hubcap City! Yeah! Weekend of August 29: Decatur Book Festival. MEMORIZE THIS SCHEDULE! I expect to see you at each and every event. More wheedling to come.

Phil's Velvet Confession

Our old friend Phil has been following our running tally of velvet suit sightings with particular interest, it seems. He writes: "What if I were to tell you that I own a velvet sportcoat -- and that I actually wear it on occasion (most recently: Las Vegas, a Tyler Perry screening party, etc)? Would that sort of count as a 'sighting,' or something more pathetic?" If by "pathetic," you mean "awesome," then sure, Phil, sure! And here's a Phil extra: He provides a "link" to Harold Bloom talking about "blog" hero Sonny Rollins. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you can always count on Phil! (Pictured, Tyler Perry.)

Tabs On His Apples No More

McNeil's cell phone is no longer capable of sending pictures, so we will no longer be able to keep tabs on his apples.

First Things First

We seem to have the "internet" once again! And so, as promised, here is what that last "post" would have looked like with "links": So, I was leafing through a book about Godard - yes I was! - and I found out that he was planning to shoot a movie in America, costarring Gene Kelly and William Faulkner! I am not lying. But it was 1962 and Faulkner passed away and that was the end of that. (Also as promised, here is a picture of Anna Karina, who was supposed to play Faulkner's maid.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Caring and Loving

Hi! Still no "internet." I'm "blogging" from the "road." That's how much I care about you, the lonely and pitiful "blog" reader! So, I was leafing through a book about Godard - yes I was! - and I found out that he was planning to shoot a movie in America, costarring Gene Kelly and William Faulkner! I am not lying. But it was 1962 and Faulkner passed away and that was the end of that. I am "blogging" from my mother-in-law's computer and cannot take up any precious time or computer energy with "links" right now, but I vow to create "links" to previous "blog" mentions of Faulkner, Gene Kelly, Godard, my mother-in-law, etc., if and when I ever get "internet" access again. I also vow to put up a nice picture of the great Anna Karina, who was supposed to star in Godard's movie as an aspiring actress who ends up as Faulkner's maid.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Subject Was Apples

We now return to our classiest regular feature, in name and content: "The Subject Was Apples." This is where we monitor the growth of an apple on McNeil's apple tree, through cell phone pictures provided by said McNeil. I don't know. I guess the apple is looking rounder. Maybe?

Smirking Hipster In Velvet

I lied! No TCM today. Dust-up with the monopolizing local "cable" "provider." Why do "cable" "providers" hate me? I love the "cable" they "provide" so much! So, no "internet" either, probably for a week, as I search for a friendlier and more obliging corporation. In the meantime, I have popped over to Ron Shapiro's juice bar (Main Squeeze, it's called) to take advantage of their free "wi-fi." That's Ron Shapiro's Main Squeeze, on University, behind Pizza Hut, for all your juice needs. And don't forget the free "wi-fi"! On to the business at hand. I couldn't wait a week and "blog" this from home! Last night, Theresa and I saw another velvet suit. I used to prefer the "blog's" ongoing velvet suit count to the much more strenuous and time consuming cigarette holder count. Cigarette holders would deluge me without warning, whereas velvet suits were rare, and while nominally working to promote the "blog's" studied air of obsession, afforded us welcome relief from typing. No more! Now we see velvet suits everywhere. They are as common and require as much energy to record and annotate as cigarette holders. The big coincidence is that this is our second velvet suit in a row to have associations with Dracula. Last night Theresa and I watched DRACULA A.D. 1972, which was notable for two reasons: first, the evil, smirking hipster who brought Dracula back to life wore NUMEROUS velvet suits! (The actor, Christopher Neame, reminded me of Bill Hader from the current cast of SNL. I'll try to find a couple of pictures so you can judge for yourself. The other great thing about Neame, and his character, is that he actually used one of McNeil's favorite phrases, promising his hipster friends that they were going to see something "way... way out." That thing? Him bringing Dracula back to life.) Second, DRACULA A.D. 1972 featured the exact kind of band McNeil loves to see in the movies. This one was called either "Stoneground" or "the Stoneground." (They had their own special opening credit - "And introducing 'Stoneground'" - but in the movie they were called "the Stoneground" by one character, and performed their hit "Alligator Man.")

Saturday, May 17, 2008

McNeil's Movie Korner: Ochre Suit

Welcome again to McNeil's Movie Korner. McNeil says check out the ochre suit in which Dino commences MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS. That's another fashion tip from McNeil! Meanwhile, my sister writes in to tell me that MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS has just come out on DVD. You know she's a Sinatra fan from way back, though how it became your business, I'm not quite sure. Oh, right. I put it on a "blog." (Pictured, an ochre quarry. For real!)

Night of the Fireball

We heard that John Currence was roasting a pig in his driveway. So we dropped by to see what such a process might look like. But that was not the most interesting thing we saw! A young woman - a casual visitor, mind you, NOT a professional entertainer - took these ropes or chains with spheres dipped in pitch at the ends of them (I am not sure it was pitch; I am not sure what "pitch" is; I think I read about it in a Poe story) and she dropped them in the fire, these spheres on the ends of chains, and then she did a dance while spinning these flaming spheres in a rapid and acrobatic fashion. There is probably a word for all this, a technical term from vaudeville days, but I don't know what it is. I am also obliged to mention, due to the "blog's" cataloguing mania, that the fireball dancer's roommate spontaneously (without foreknowledge of the "blog") mentioned a velvet suit worn by Gary Oldman during his portrayal of Dracula. But the best part of the story is when the woman who danced with fireballs said, "Does anyone else want to try it?" and Theresa said "Sure!" and went out there and grabbed a flaming sphere on the end of a chain and danced around with it, whirling it about her person as if born for the job. Harrowing and delightful. Enlivens any party. Get yourself a fireball today.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Feature Formerly Known As "The FBIL's Annotation Korner"

We're moving again, not that it's any of your concern! Though I thought I should explain my prediction of "blog" slowdown. Still, even with everything going on, how can we resist another edition of "The FBIL's Annotation Korner," or whatever we're going to call it now that the FBIL has become the NBIL? We are especially happy because the NBIL has chosen to annotate - and therefore possibly revive - our much-missed UFO column, if we may speak for ourselves, "McNeil's 'Way... Way Out.'" I turn things over to the NBIL, who writes (and includes a "link"): "The Vatican is getting in on the UFO game saying that we should embrace aliens as our brothers sisters. My question is, how can we embrace them if we're paralyzed with fear like those guys from Mississippi?" Good question, NBIL! And you bring up an interesting topic - namely, McNeil. He left a breathless phone message the other day, bragging that MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS was coming on TCM "in thirteen minutes." As I mentioned, we are in the process of moving, which is none of your concern, except insofar as it explains why I could not pinpoint the time, nor indeed the date, of McNeil's phone message, which was left at the "old" number. According to McNeil's phone message, which I may be misinterpreting because - as I have hinted - he was hyperventilating at the time, MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS is about "Frankie and Dino! They're ad men who steal each other's wives!" If accurately relayed and transcribed, this certainly places MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS within the special interests of the "blog." Anyhow, the timing and the mise-en-scene are both moot because, as McNeil well knows, we do not have TCM. But we will! Come Monday, we will! It's thanks to the move, which is none of your concern.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Literary Matters

Time again for literary matters. It's like taking horrible medicine, isn't it? Today we have six literary matters. You can do it! 1) Yesterday, I had the extreme pleasure of being the guest of a book club. I won't talk about them much, as they are tasteful and elegant and hardly the sort of people whose names you want to toss about lightly on a "blog." But I must tell you that this book club has been in existence FOR OVER ONE HUNDRED YEARS and one of the refreshments was a traditional, delicious, and homemade dish called "boiled custard." Everyone had a lively and fun time at this gracious club. I was made very welcome. 2) More on the relationship, if any, between Flannery O'Connor and Gogol: Remember when Tom Franklin made startling revelations about his punctuation technique to an interviewer? Well, that interviewer, whose name is Bearden Coleman, has contacted me to say, "The introduction to my edition of Dead Souls has this quote from Flannery O'Connor: 'I like Tolstoy too but Gogol is necessary along with the light.'" We're still not sure what any of this means, plus the quote comes to us - what is that? - third or fourth hand, which is plenty good enough for a "blog," as you know! Anyway, mull it over and get back to me. 3) Speaking of Tom Franklin, I get word from New York City that my recent recommendation of SMONK has gone over like gangbusters! 4) Last night Theresa and I watched the movie DAISY KENYON, starring Joan Crawford, Henry Fonda, and Theresa's personal "fave" Dana Andrews. There was a surprise cameo by "blog" poster boy Walter Winchell! Is this a "literary matter"? I don't know. Winchell wrote a lot. Also, though I don't believe her job was ever explained in great detail, Crawford's character appeared to be employed painting lurid art for serialized crime stories. Speaking of which, I won't say much about DAISY KENYON, except that everything about it (including dialogue like, "I used to think you weren't worth killing!") made us brace for a crime that never took place. Is there something wrong with the movie or something wrong with you when you're disappointed by the lack of murder? 5) Tomorrow I will be next door at William Faulkner's house, speaking to some eighth and ninth graders about how great it is to be a writer. This leads me to reemphasize the fact that - despite published reports - I am not and have never been a "YA writer." But as you can see, I have nothing against young adults! I am sure we will have fun "rapping" about Walter Winchell and whatever else it is that kids care about these days. 6) I see that QUEENPIN, a novel championed on this very "blog," has won an Edgar Award. Megan Abbott - whose acquaintance I made via the "internet" after enjoying her book - is far too classy to have bragged about her win in a recent email (I found out through my own detective work), though she did find time to praise Bob Hope. Modest and generous, this Megan Abbott. There, I have given you loads of "links." Please spend the next few days "clicking" on each one, then "clicking" on each "link" in each subsequent "link," as I may not be back to "blog" before Monday or Tuesday. Those apples should develop in interesting ways by then! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Creeps

Hi! I'm "blogging" from a creepy house that is nearly empty! None of your business why! But it may explain my haste. Well, I will go ahead and mention, as it's what I do, that Mr. Ward and I were playing hooky on the Universal lot one time and sneaked inside the PSYCHO house, where we walked around looking at the walls and climbed a ladder to peek out the infamous upstairs window. The house is just a big, empty shell, of course (much like myself), but night was falling and we managed to get the creeps in a surprisingly earnest manner.

Monday, May 12, 2008

PW says "P-U!": Grateful Nation Spared Reckless Purchase

Just got a note from my agent, alerting me to a review of AWESOME in Publishers Weekly. Guess what? They don't like it! A lot! A lot they don't like it. How do I know? Because in the first sentence of the review, the phrase "overly cute" pops up. And just in case you didn't get it, the phrase "overly cute" makes a special return appearance in the last sentence of the one-paragraph review. Because God forbid you should forget! Sandwiched in between, however, is a fairly zippy and quite precise summary of the book which, if you lopped off the first half of the first sentence and the last half of the last sentence (as I am sure some savvy marketing person at my publisher will do), sounds kind of appealing... to me. But hey, I wrote the book. The only reason I bring it up, though, is to warn everyone that despite PW's interesting take, AWESOME is NOT (as they seem to imply) a book for children or young adults, or whatever they're calling them now. Do NOT let your young adult read AWESOME! It is for OLD adults. I do not question the parenting skills of the reviewer. I'm just mildly surprised and felt obliged to issue a general warning.

Velvety Chuck

Theresa and I watched THE OMEGA MAN last night. Do you know what Charlton Heston does after his first battle with the mutants? He goes upstairs to his penthouse suite and changes into a green velvet suit with an extraordinarily frilly shirt. Longtime "blog" readers will celebrate the return of our famous velvet suit tally after its long dormancy. Others will pity me for the way I squander my precious time. Who is right? History will judge! P.S. I found one picture of Charlton Heston in his green velvet suit on the "internet," but it was grainy and dark and made the suit look like a bathrobe. Anticlimactic! So instead, I present a crystal clear "still" of THE OMEGA MAN (above), striking for its lack of context, sans velvet suit, sans everything. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Accuracy Confounds

To prove the accuracy of our most recent "post" - something we seldom do because we are seldom accurate - we "link" you here to an interview with George Singleton in which he makes mention of Gogol in the aforementioned manner and goes so far as to say *** SPOILER ALERT! *** "Faulkner is as Russian as Dostoevsky."


Welcome once again to C-Spandemonium! You may know it better as "James Whorton, Jr.'s C-Spandemonium!" but sometimes we write a quick one on our own while we wait for Mr. Whorton's next communication. So yesterday on C-Span 2 I saw the author Nathan Englander state that he thinks of Flannery O'Connor as a Russian writer. It reminded me of something! At the Decatur Book Festival one year, I attended a panel on which sat one George Singleton. Someone in the audience asked Mr. Singleton to name his favorite Southern writer, and he said "Gogol." What does all this mean? Something, possibly!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Subject Was Apples

As promised, here is another picture of the progress of McNeil's apple tree. It looks a whole lot like the last picture to me, a non-expert on the subject of apples. Hey, that's good. We're changing the title of this feature from "Jeffy McAppleseed's Famous Apple Timeline Bonanza" to the infinitely more dignified "The Subject Was Apples." Done! If anything, McNeil's apple seems to have become smaller. Or maybe it's a different apple (see above; not an expert). Look, what do you want from me?

Nostradamus's Newspaper

Come with me now, into the mysterious realm of the future, where we shall read TOMORROW'S NEWSPAPER TODAY! Yes, although it is Saturday, we have seen a portion of Sunday's New York Times, an article ("click" here) about Lynda Barry, to be precise, in which our good friend Kelly Hogan is summed up parenthetically in two words by a Times reporter. "Torch singer" they call her. That is pretty good as far as two-word parenthetical summations go - although I think Kelly has heard that one a lot and is probably tired of it. Just a guess. "Chanteuse" is worse! Speaking of Lynda Barry, it is my sad duty to report that I will not be in that anthology with her after all. The subject of my essay was supposed to be "a bad relationship." I could not think of anything that seemed gentlemanly to report and besides I was always the bad one, which ran counter to the anthology's theme. Oh well! But it made me sad because I wanted to rub shoulders with Lynda Barry. (Pictured, the future.)

Laura Lippman's 115th Dream

Remember when I dreamed about the end of Laura Lippman's book? Well, Laura Lippman reports in turn, "I want to see Boeing, Boeing so badly that I actually dreamed about it last night." The "blog" is on its way to becoming our nation's greatest repository of dreams. Hey, kids! The title of this "post" is a "spoofy" "takeoff" on a Bob Dylan song title! "Click" here if you don't believe me! You're welcome!

Friday, May 09, 2008

My Beeswax

Do you like food? Sure you do! Or maybe you don't! It's none of my beeswax. Indeed, I was speaking with a perfectly nice gentleman the other day about the glories of the Southern Foodways Symposium when the gentleman in question remarked, and I quote, "I don't care for food." Wow! I believe I nodded. On the inside, I was perturbed! Yet I knew not to judge. Live and let live! To each his own! But goodness! It reminded me, in some reverse way, of the scene in TRUE STORIES in which David Byrne turns to the camera and says, "Do you like music? Everyone SAYS they do." Where was I? Oh yes. If you like food, then the book HEAT by Bill Buford is the book for you! I know I vowed to stop mentioning what I'm reading (again) yet I am a strange and intoxicating creature, changeable and full of delightful whims! Insert an appropriate quotation from Emerson or Whitman here! The NBIL loaned me his copy of HEAT, and I am forever grateful. He thought I would like it because my recipe ("posted" by Maud Newton recently) was inspired in part by Mario Batali, who is one of the central figures in the book. In fact, as the NBIL told me, the "pasta water trick" I learned from Mr. Batali's TV show, and related in my muddled way on Maud Newton's "blog," is also recounted in Mr. Buford's text. This is a book so powerful that it made me go out at ten o'clock the other night and order fried quail eggs and guanciale on toast. But that's not why I bring it up right now. You know how interested in/terrifed of the vagaries of fate we are here at the "blog," particularly when said vagaries are represented by someone (Alban Berg, for example) dying of an insect bite. So last night I read a passage from HEAT in which the (probably legendary) chef Meluzza Comasca, who, back in the 17th century, was supposedly the first to add eggs to his recipe for fresh pasta, "died prematurely of an insect bite ... his doughy inventions were so famous they were described in an epitaph on his tomb." Say, did you know that David Byrne initially approached object of "blog"scination Paul Harvey (pictured) to play his (Byrne's) role in TRUE STORIES? It's true! And now you know... THE REST OF THE STORY. Hey, Mr. Ward and I once put a Paul Harvey reference in a script we did for MTV. At the read-through, one guy laughed. He had a walrus moustache and was even older than us. We have no idea what he was doing at MTV. But he laughed loud! It made the surrounding silence even more unbearable. And now you know... THE REST of the REST OF THE STORY.

Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner

Welcome again to Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner. Today Dr. "M." dashes off a brief note - brief, yes, but a shining model nonetheless of the factual accuracy and grammatical precision we have come to expect from Dr. "M." "Amy Madigan," she writes, " is the actress to whom you refer." Hey, it occurs to me while typing that "actress" is an outmoded word - right? - and everyone is a plain old "actor" now, regardless of gender, which is as it should be. I'm too lazy to correct my former "post" (or this one) but I will try to be more thoughtful in the future. When Dr. "M." uses the word "actress" she is quite properly adhering to the content (however flawed) of the "primary source," and is too polite to correct me, another of Dr. "M.'s" admirable traits. In other Dr. "M." news, she is trying to tempt me to join facebook. My bitter, suspicious feelings on the subject are well known.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Forgot to Read the Newspaper

I forgot to read the newspaper today! And now I just feel like, "What's the point?"

Speaking of Stang

Speaking of Stang, which refers not only to beloved character actor Arnold Stang, but the "blog's" own patented "lingo" for money, our friend Verdell (pictured) writes in from "the coast" to say, "I've started using 'Ka-stang,' rather than 'Ka-ching,' when I want to declare something to be a particularly savvy moneymaking endeavor." The sad truth is, Verdell may be the last person keeping "Stang" alive. What heart! What a trouper! Don't let her down. Let's all remember the true meaning of "Stang"!

That One Actress

Every single time that one actress appears on TV, I say, "She's married to Ed Harris." And Theresa says, "I know."

Censoring Mr. Soupy

I have removed my "link" to the fellow (or madam) who was pretending to be Soupy Sales on the "internet." I "clicked" on it just now, and the pseudo-Soupy had begun to work a little too "blue" for the comfort of this "blog." If you find yourself mightily compelled to seek out the mildly filthy typing of someone who is pretending to be Soupy Sales on the "internet," I am sure you can do it if you put your mind to it! But I no longer feel pleasant at the thought of helping. Still, it is none of my business what you do with your private time! For your enjoyment and edification, and in honor of the real Soupy Sales, who is - we feel certain - a kindly old gentleman in the Arnold Stang mode - please gaze upon this rendition of a can of soup by Andy Warhol.

Jeffy McAppleseed's Famous Apple Timeline Bonanza

Welcome, as promised, to "Jeffy McAppleseed's Famous Apple Timeline Bonanza," the most awkwardly titled of all our regular features. Here are some pictures of McNeil's apple tree. What's going on? We're not sure. McNeil sent pictures, but no explanations. Looks like that one apple is wearing a little hat! How adorable. Is that it, McNeil? A little hat? [Note: We can't believe that in our first installment, we didn't "link" to our old "posts" about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. - ed.] And look, there's a ladybug. Watch out: they bite (as revealed only on the "blog")! Keep your eyes "peeled" for more apple updates.

Today's Weather: Mysterious Clouds of Commerce

Welcome once again to "Today's Weather," in which we explore all the exciting trends of "Today's Weather." My sister enjoys weather. So I sent her a book about clouds. That may be why I just received an interesting "link" from the new brother-in-law (NBIL). In this "link," we learn of a plan to fill the sky with clouds in the shape of corporate logos. You will note that the inventor is from my home state of Alabama. In conclusion, I will remark on the coincidence that in my upcoming detective novel, SHUT UP, UGLY, my spy character, Pearlie Withers, reveals that the government manufactures certain clouds as a means of sending secret messages - a kind of encrypted skywriting. Perhaps I have said too much.

Horizon Enlivened By Bright Shiny Apples

McNeil is concerned. "Do you have 'blog'tigue again?" he asks. No, but he might be forgiven for supposing so. Things have been slow. And any man who leaves a picture of Soupy Sales at the top of his "blog" for so long is exhibiting a certain lack of self-respect. McNeil has volunteered to come to the rescue. His apple tree, which fared so poorly last season, is sprouting blossoms. McNeil may send cell phone pictures of the progress of his apples. He wants to call his new regular feature "Apple's Way," after the forgotten TV show of the same name, to which McNeil has made reference before. We prefer something more in the spirit of McNeil's old column "Jeff McNeil's Island Breezes." Maybe we can work some Yeats into the title. Yeats was all, "the silver apples of the moon" this and "the golden apples of the sun" that. That Yeats!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Marmalade Guy Strikes Again

Remember the guy who gave me a hot tip on marmalade? Of course you don't! You don't spend your life committing this "blog" to memory. OR DO YOU? Anyway, the marmalade guy is back, only now he has Soupy Sales on the brain. Who? I'm too tired to explain. Soupy Sales is no Wheeler & Woolsey, I'll tell you that much! On the other hand, dig the size of that bowtie! That's like one big bowtie! Anyway, there is some guy on the "internet" pretending to be Soupy Sales. Or maybe he is the real Soupy Sales! But he is not. OR IS HE? My friend writes, "Thought of you when I discovered this." Which makes me unspeakably sad. Now to retire with a cool cloth on my forehead.

Thing I Said Comes True

Hey, remember when I claimed that an excerpt from my upcoming detective novel, SHUT UP, UGLY, would appear in the Oxford American one day? The events foretold have come to pass. And look, there's even a full-page illustration. Not only that, but the illustration indicates that the artist, Kirk Fanelly, actually read the story! Because I don't know how to make the image larger, you'll have to buy the magazine (or visit your local library) to clearly see the tiny detective in the corner and the mysterious headlights outside. Way to go, Kirk Fanelly! Your representation is on the money. You might just say I'm a "fan" of "Fanelly"! Ha ha ha! Wheeeee! Words are fun.

Monday, May 05, 2008

McNeil's Movie Korner: WHAMMO-BLAMMO, BABY!

Welcome once again to the always instructive "McNeil's Movie Korner." Here's the latest from McNeil: "I saw a great, and I mean GREAT, movie last night.....JOHNNY EAGER. After the first fifteen minutes I thought it wasn't going anywhere, and it did have a few minor faults, but after that --- WHAMMO-BLAMMO, BABY! One surprise right after another." (Pictured, Lana Turner, a star of JOHNNY EAGER.)


A review of the Broadway revival of BOEING, BOEING in today's New York Times. The reviewer calls it "Euclidean" because he feels needlessly ashamed of himself for thoroughly enjoying something once associated with Jerry Lewis. I'm extrapolating! Often the New York Times will throw Jerry a bone. Today's mention, if not exactly dismissive, wears an air of knowing (read misinformed) chagrin. Wow! That's the worst sentence ever. More coffee for me! (Pictured, Euclid.)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Impossible Heterogeneity of Jerry

You know how on the "blog" we're always like, "art" this and "paint" that? Well, today I was leafing through a book about Henri Rousseau and it struck me how much the critical views on him - pro and con - mirror cultural attitudes about... wait for it... Jerry Lewis. One guy said something about "the impossible heterogeneity" of Rousseau's painting "The Dream" (above) causing people to either shrug or burst into laughter. That's not a good example. I'd like to find another one but I don't have the book with me and I'm too tired to walk across the room. Some viewed Rousseau with "sarcastic incomprehension" (I think that's a quote) while a NEW WAVE (get it?) of French artists championed him as an unrecognized visionary for his blending of "high" and "low" styles and motifs. I remind you that this is a "blog," so who cares if my characterization is valid? But I draw your attention to another Rousseau painting (not pictured here; do I have to do ALL the work?) with a couple of monkeys poking another monkey with a stick, and all the monkeys look somewhat like Scottish terriers. And they're playing with a bottle of milk that has somehow wound up in the jungle! If I recall correctly, some gallery felt so upset and confused by the antics of the monkeys that they shoved the painting in a corner and pretended it wasn't there. The name of that painting was "The Merry Jesters," and if you're not feeling the Jerryness of Rousseau yet, I feel sorry for you! I really do! Monkeys knocking over a bottle of milk! A bottle of milk that's there for no reason! Get with it! Near the end of the book, some other guy - I want to say his name was Andre Salmon, but I may be making that up, too - is quoted as saying of Rousseau, "We must learn not to resist him." That's exactly what Megan Abbott and I said about Jerry Lewis that time! P.S. Sorry if the naked lady is too racy.

The Unusual Position

Today I was placed in the unusual position of attempting to "google" the phrase "black widow spider" while what I believed to be a black widow spider was crawling around on the computer with which I was attempting to "google" the phrase "black widow spider" to find out whether or not the thing crawling around on my computer was a black widow spider. Result: the usual feeling of mild epistemological despair coupled with my trademark shrieks of terror.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A Little Piece of Wire

I fixed my eyeglasses with a little piece of wire. I'll bet you didn't even know they were broken! There's so much I don't tell you.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mr. Ward's Presidential Korner 5

There, you've had some time to consider the "Dudie" reference. Get it? Terrific! Let's move on. The time has come at last for the fifth installment of Mr. Ward's a-"Ward" winning feature, "Mr. Ward's Presidential Korner." As I have hinted previously, Mr. Ward works in television. Right now he's in Houston, doing a shoot at the Johnson Space Center. In an email entitled "Ask Not If You Can Place an Item on the Podium," Mr. Ward sends the "blog" this message: "They've got the very podium that Kennedy used to make his famous 'let's go to the moon' speech. I got to stand behind it. I attached a picture so you can get a Kennedy eye-view of the podium. Note the space age 'raise,' 'lower,' and 'angle' buttons. You can also see by the wrinkled paper halfway covered in plastic that the folks at the space center place a high premium on podium preservation."