Saturday, January 31, 2009

But It's Not Midnight Yet

THE PINK PANTHER (the original one) was playing on TCM tonight but I wasn't really watching it. I was reading a book - sometimes I do that! Suddenly I heard the very distinctive voice of my old friend Eugene coming from the television. I had heard people mention from time to time that he was supposedly in THE PINK PANTHER, but I always assumed he was just standing around in the background in one of the big crowd scenes. Thanks to the satellite TV, I was able to rewind his part and watch it a couple of times. Eugene says, "But it's not midnight yet." Then he says, "Eh, all right." Then he says, "Be careful, I can't see a thing." That's it. Not much, but he puts a clever spin on all three lines. He's not lazy! He carves out a mini character for himself. I don't know why I've never noticed this part of the movie before. It could be that I haven't watched THE PINK PANTHER all the way through since I was a kid, before I knew Eugene. Well, it was great to hear his voice and a real surprise. It certainly got my attention.

Other People's "Blogs"

Here's something interesting from the "blog" of Dyna Moe. And here's something I found on the "blog" of Amanda Stern.

Canary Show

A gentleman who is auditing one of my classes grew up in the time before television. He says there used to be a radio show that was just canaries chirping with someone playing organ in the background.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Remember the Marble King

You know how sometimes one thing will remind you of another thing? Well, that last "post" reminded me of TWO things: the ochre quarry and the Marble King marble factory where they make the marbles. I wonder if we will ever understand the mysteries of the human mind! Probably not! (Look! Just like the corncob pipe factory, the marble factory has an interesting "web" site. Order your marbles and corncob pipes today! You'll be a modern day Huckleberry Finn. And tell 'em "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot sent you.)

Meerschaum & Bakelite

I am aware that we have stopped reporting on cigarette holders for all practical purposes. But tonight on the balcony of City Grocery, the guy who runs Faulkner's house was observed smoking a cigarette through a meerschaum and bakelite cigarette holder. Not only that, but he had two extra meerschaum and bakelite cigarette holders in his pocket. When asked why he carries three cigarette holders, he responded, "I don't know." Anyway, out of all the cigarette holders enumerated on the "blog," this is the first time we have witnessed one in the possession of a friend. He likes to clench one in his teeth as he rides around on his riding lawnmower, he said. (Hey, while I was "Googling" around for an image of unprocessed meerschaum in its natural state, I came upon this "link" to a corncob pipe factory - that's "" They don't use meerschaum, the idea being [as you will see in the HISTORY section] that an old-fashioned corncob is good enough and worthy of the name "Missouri meerschaum." A corncob pipe factory! What will the "internet" think of next?)

Furniture and Clothes

Mr. Ward alerts us to an interview with Jerry Lewis in Entertainment Weekly. Here's his office: "Everything is hermetically clean, superstitiously orderly, and most important, red: the carpet, his old-school IBM Selectric typewriter, the telephone, even the bowl of hard candy on the coffee table." Here's Jerry: "He wears a pair of black velvet slippers with gold filigree." I think this backs up every laudatory thing we have said in the past about Jerry's furniture and clothes. (Pictured, from THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, the infamous Purple Pit.)

The LOST Summit, Featuring Dr. "M." and Fat Boy

Welcome once again to some reflections on the TV series LOST. Don't worry! As usual, the transcription has been heavily redacted to prevent "spoilers" for those of you who are behind in your viewing. The following comments recently passed between Dr. "M." and myself. She was all, "I'm confused. Is the woman in the **** the mother of ****** ********?" And I was like, "I think that's his girlfriend, not his mother!" Then Dr. "M." was like, "Oh! It's the redhead???!!! Now that makes more sense. Did you think the woman helping **** **** ** *** looked somewhat like the tough tank-top-wearing blond soldier?! Hmmmm...." And I was all, "WHAT redhead?"

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Oatmeal Tips

As promised, it's time again for "Oatmeal Tips." Today's oatmeal tip comes from Sarah Marine of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and (for now) the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop. Sarah Marine likes her oatmeal pasty - the pastier the better. She writes: "I'm not quite sure why I like my oatmeal so very, very pasty. I only eat the Roundy's brand Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal. I use two packages for one bowl of oatmeal. In the beginning, the best part is the mini mushroom cloud of oat dust created when dumping contents into the bowl. I add tap water that just covers the dusty oaties. Then, with class, I place the bowl in the microwave for an initial thirty seconds. I have to hoist myself up on the counter to monitor the absorption because I have one of those microwaves that is built in to the bottom of the cupboard. A good bowl is piping hot and really thick, thick like upon eating, much effort goes into the opening and closing of the mouth. On some days, I add some extra brown sugar." NOTE TO SARAH MARINE: I have just had the "Blog" Oatmeal Board look over your contribution and we feel we need to let you know THIS OATMEAL IS LIABLE TO KILL YOU! (Not the Roundy's brand itself, of course, which we are sure is the best Wisconsin has to offer, but the way you experiment with it like some modern day oatmeal loving Dr. Oppenheimer.) Oatmeal, handled properly, is among the healthiest of nature's many healthy treats. But we believe you are endangering yourself by 1) eating the instant oatmeal (which, as we have noted before in "Oatmeal Tips," is not as wholesome as its longer simmering cousin) and 2) subscribing to the old Phil Oppenheim theory of oatmeal, that is, the way he abused it before he got married and had children and became responsible. All that being said, we are generally libertarians in our attitudes toward oatmeal consumption and don't wish to stand in the way of your enjoyment. Also, we thank you for your contribution to "Oatmeal Tips." You are young and living the good life! Forget what we said. And to everyone else, if YOU want to be like Sarah Marine, send YOUR oatmeal tip to "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

It's True What They Say About Frasier

I have been interviewed by some nice kids from Most of what I said seems to make a kind of sense. I notice that I decided to vigorously reassert the "blog's" previous claim that Frasier takes his shirt off all the time. In other news, I have reason to expect some hot new "oatmeal tips" to roll in from facebook shortly. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Panful of Gin and Raisins

McNeil was telling me on the phone today how the Wilen sisters also claim that you can put some raisins in a pan, cover them with gin and leave them alone for a few days until the raisins soak up every bit of gin. Then you eat a raisin or two every day and pretty soon your arthritis is cured. Later, McNeil sent a "link" to the Wilen sisters, which I present here for the sake of completeness, but it's really more fun to hear McNeil tell it, nothing against the Wilen sisters.

Banana-Grassing: The Update

Our "fave" Aquaman "blog" has managed to work our great new term "banana-grassing" into an account of a man dressed as Thor who scared off a burglar. A quick "Google" search shows that the Aquaman "blog" is the only one helping. But then Aquaman's a hero, isn't he? The rest of you need to get out there and do your part for banana-grassing!

Arts, Briefly

Welcome once again to "Arts, Briefly," our occasional feature with the title we stole from the New York Times. It has been over a year since the last "Arts, Briefly." But finally someone has done some art. Everyone in Chicago should hurry over to the Chicago Tourism Center to see THE EXQUISITE CITY. It's a whole city made out of cardboard! There's an opening reception Friday night for the 70 artists who helped build THE EXQUISITE CITY. One of them, who also happens to be the curator of the show, is friend of the "blog" Kathleen Judge. Stop by, and tell 'em "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot sent you. In other arts news, a graduate student (not the one who doubts McNeil's existence) sent us a "link" to an interview with Charles Portis. Charles Portis rarely gives interviews, so you better read this one. You probably won't find another. "Click" here. "He once broke a man's arm in an arm-wrestling match," notes the graduate student. PS I have decided that this mime represents art.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When McNeil Hands You Lemons

"I clicked on an ad on the Yahoo! page," writes McNeil, "because it had a pic of a lemon on it and that reminded me of the drunk monkeys in the post about the drunk monkeys." McNeil goes on to quote directly from the ad: "2-Day Migraine Cured in Minutes... BY LEMON RIND?! Works! Thousands saw it on TV! 'We were appearing on a TV program,' the Wilen Sisters told me. 'The show host told us he'd been suffering from a huge headache for 2 entire days. Right on the air, he implored us to help him out. Well, he asked for it! We rubbed some lemon rind on his temples, then tied a cloth on his head...'" It goes on like that. McNeil believes it confirms what Darwin said about monkey hangovers in that "post" from the other day. "Your 'blog' is on the cutting edge of science!" raves McNeil.

McNeil's Movie Korner

Welcome once again to "McNeil's Movie Korner." McNeil has a recommendation: THE RELUCTANT ASTRONAUT starring Don Knotts. Here's McNeil: "Much better than I thought it would be. I was actually nervous when DK fell out of the capsule door with ONLY 5 SECONDS LEFT BEFORE LAUNCH!!!!" (The caps and four exclamation points are McNeil's.) I would ask McNeil if there is a monkey in the movie, because I feel sure there is, but McNeil has lately expressed the opinion that there are "too many monkeys" on the "blog" lately. So I doubt I would get a straight answer! PS Last night I was at the City Grocery Bar when I was approached by a graduate student who advanced her theory that McNeil is "made up." You may recall that in the past Phil Oppeheim and Dr. "M." briefly entertained similar suspicions (likewise, McNeil thought Dr. "M." was made up). To me, this represents a sloppy reading indeed of the "blog." May I point out a few obvious hints to the contrary? 1) McNeil takes pictures of things, such as the apple tree in his yard, his shirt, houses he visits, and a weird cloud. 2) McNeil has a daughter who reads Harry Potter. 3) McNeil has his short stories published in various magazines. 4) Phil once loaned McNeil a movie, and was required to mail it to North Carolina, where McNeil lives. 5) McNeil doesn't like the way I answer the telephone. 6) McNeil teaches at a college in the aforementioned state of North Carolina. 7) McNeil's wife is an expert on German art. 8) McNeil takes medicine. 9) McNeil has a foolproof system for winning at craps. 10) We disagree about the proper number of monkeys to put on a "blog." These are the facts of an actual person's life! I am not a good enough writer to make McNeil up. PPS There is something terribly wrong with the "blog's" search feature today (it refuses to admit I have ever referred to Richard Belzer, for example), so it took me forever to "post" this. Like, my coffee got cold. (The search feature doesn't admit I ever "blogged" about my coffee getting cold!) I know you will do me the favor of "clicking" on every single "link" to show me how much you care.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Case of the Dancing Sandwiches

McNeil sent this, possibly because of my keen interest in sandwiches. It speaks for itself, I believe. In fact, I don't know why I'm still typing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Monkey I Missed

But somehow I missed a mention of monkeys in a New York Times "blog" yesterday. The "blogger" was writing about how animals get drunk in the wild "via the fermenting fruit, sap and nectar of various plants." And he quoted Darwin on the subject of monkey hangovers: "On the following morning they were very cross and dismal; they held their aching heads with both hands, and wore a most pitiable expression: when beer or wine was offered them, they turned away with disgust, but relished the juice of lemons."

Bizarrely, Buzzi

Bizarrely, today's New York Times does not contain its mandatory mention of Jerry Lewis, though it does allude - amazingly - to Ruth Buzzi. Side note: the Magazine supplement features the final chapter of "Blog" Buddy Laura Lippman's serialized novel AND a tucked-away reference to "Blog" Buddy John T. Edge. But I repeat: no Jerry. No Jerry.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dan Brown's Entertaining Monkeys

And just look what Dan Brown sent me: a monkey and a chimpanzee. "For future use," he says. Fat chance, Dan! The people need their monkeys and they need them right away.

A Colorful Drawing

Hey! Mike Mitchell just sent me this colorful drawing to give me an idea of the illustrations he might do for my forthcoming detective novel. It came in the real US mail, beautiful on a little piece of cardboard. Feast your eyes upon it!

Many Levels of Joe

Here is my friend Joe in his "facebook profile picture." This picture works on many levels. It may work on every level. Think of a level. I bet this picture works on it!

Oatmeal Tips

Welcome once again to "Oatmeal Tips." Today we have two oatmeal tips, both (perhaps inspired by yesterday's oatmeal tip) concerning innovative additives. (Speaking of which, I was out of fruit yesterday and tried putting a dollop of fig preserves in my oatmeal. Not the best use for fig preserves, it turns out.) I've been sitting on these oatmeal tips since yesterday's edition of "Oatmeal Tips." I didn't want to overwhelm you with oatmeal tips! The first comes by way of the NBIL, who writes: "Oatmeal with flax is pretty tasty. Don't know if you've tried it, but I had some instant oatmeal that was 'Flax Plus' flavor. I was surprised to find that I really liked it. Even better than the 'Maple Nut' flavor! Also, a group of rattlesnakes is called a 'rhumba.' I saw that factoid on a page-a-day trivia calendar." Thanks, NBIL! And we're going to trust you about "rhumba." After all, you were right about tyromancy. But we do want to remind you here at "Oatmeal Tips" that instant isn't as good for you as the kind that takes several minutes to cook. And of course the slow-cooking stuff is the best for you, but who has time for that in our modern world of conveniences such as automobiles? Our next oatmeal tip comes from my "myspace" friend Claudia Smith. Check out her great robot story in the anthology NEW SUDDEN FICTION. Or give yourself a treat and "click" here to see several of her stories. And now, Claudia's oatmeal tip: "Put cocoa powder, the kind you use to make hot chocolate, in your oatmeal and stir it up, maybe with a little milk or honey or whatever else you like to have in it. It is tasty! But you have to use nice cocoa, not Swiss Miss but the more expensive kind." That's it for "Oatmeal Tips." Don't forget to send YOUR oatmeal tips to "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

Believers Like Him

I just saw a Fox News anchor (so it must be true!) say there was a UFO at the Obama inauguration. Unless I am crazy, the anchor used the phrase "believers like me" to describe the people who think the incident happened. Wonder where I can find footage. This looks like a job for the "internet"!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Oatmeal Tips

Welcome once again to our newest regular feature, "Oatmeal Tips." The oatmeal tips have been pouring in. Here's an oatmeal tip from James Whorton, Jr., who writes: "The other morning I was low on oatmeal, so I added some yellow corn meal to it. Then I cooked it like usual. It was good. It tasted like oatmeal with corn meal in it." Remember to send YOUR oatmeal tips to "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

Patchy Entertainment Exclusive!

Remember when Mark Osborne (nominated for an Oscar yesterday) sent us a picture of Harrison Ford's back? Well, here's another shot from his camera phone. You won't find this exclusive "show biz" photo anywhere else on the "internet," folks, NOR this exclusive commentary from Oscar-nominated director Mark Osborne himself: "Here's Patchy the Pirate on green screen from the shoot for the 10th anniversary Spongebob special episode to air in November. He'll be going over a waterfall in that boat. And to my disappointment that other man forgot his skintight green outfit."

Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner

It has been a long time, people, but Dr. "M." has returned with her patented TV Korner. And that can mean only one thing: LOST is back on the air. As usual, the "blog" editorial staff has heavily censored Dr. "M.'s" remarks to avoid spoilers. But anyone who saw the episode will understand and enjoy the fun. Others will be intrigued and confused... much like the experience of watching LOST itself! With that, we turn things over to Dr. "M.," who writes: "**** ******* makes my brain tired. And I don't mean my own **** ******. (That, I just love!) But I mean **** ****** on "Lost"! Is anyone out there a little overwhelmed by all the heavy thinking the show is requiring of us? And what do they mean the ****** isn't ******, the people are? I woke up with a headache this morning which I am sure has nothing to do with job-related stress and everything to do with TV. Yours, Dr. M." (NOTE: the first time I used this picture, I called it "Kate sees a magical horsie on the island of Lost." This was back when Dr. "M." was still just "Agent M"! But I got the picture by "stealing bandwidth" because at the time I didn't know any better. So here it is with bandwidth that is rightfully obtained as far as I understand the process. Enjoy!)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Blog" Buddies Become Movie Royalty

First Lynn Shelton's storming of Sundance... now "Blog" Buddy Mark Osborne has been nominated for an Oscar... again! A long time ago, I gave you a "link" where you could watch his Oscar-nominated short MORE. Now Mark's KUNG FU PANDA is nominated for best animated picture! And given our many conversations on the subject, it is only fitting that Mark will be at the same ceremony at which Jerry Lewis is being presented with a special trophy. Find him, Mark! Go to him! Grab him! Hug him to your bosom! Never let him go! (Pictured: Mark's the tall one.)

Today's Weather: A Rookie Mistake

Welcome once again to "Today's Weather." Thank you for joining us. Today I wore my flannel pants but they turned out to be inappropriate for the weather. Rookie mistake, Pendarvis! The flannel pants are not a toy. Today's weather: Warmer than I reckoned. This has been "Today's Weather."

Oatmeal Tips

I credit constant stirring with the velvety texture of my oatmeal. Have oatmeal tips? Why not send them in to "Oatmeal Tips"? That's "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Just Thought of Something Funny

I just thought of something funny. There's a first time for everything! Anyway, in my "post" about "pandiculation" I included - by mere chance - a photo of a red panda demonstrating said action. Get it? PANDA? PANDICULATION? No? Never mind.

Facebook Matters

Welcome to Facebook Matters, our brand new spin-off of our grotesquely unpopular literary column, "Literary Matters." Today we have four Facebook Matters. 1) I see on Facebook that "Blog" Buddy Verdell has a friend named Billy Swagger. Billy Swagger is the coolest name ever, with the possible exception of Big Bill France. In any case, it is miles beyond Johnny Click. No offense, Johnny Click! The next three Facebook Matters have to do with monkeys (and/or chimpanzees, which I realize are not really monkeys but I don't care). Three out of four ain't bad! 2) Kimb Osborne sent me a picture of a little monkey in a cowboy outfit riding a dog. "I think this just might be perfection," she wrote in the accompanying note. "Where is it, then?" you ask. Well, that's complicated. The picture gave me many feelings, some of which were of the sad kind that we pretend don't exist here at the "blog." Not that I was upset in the way that those people are who don't want hilarious chimps in your TV commercials anymore. I was more sad in the way I got after thinking for a long time about those monkeys who control robot arms with their thoughts. The cowboy monkey had a sullen look on his face and the dog appeared to be sort of hysterical, or that was my interpretation, which probably says more about me than it does about the dog or the monkey! But Kimb is right, the picture is perfection, forcing us to confront the warring halves within us, hilarious and terrifying, a perfectly dialectical image. 3) Laura Lippman has grudgingly agreed to be my Facebook friend even though my profile picture is a chimp feeding a baby (see? Why doesn't that bother me? Dialectical!) and we all know how she feels about chimps. This gives me hope and makes me decide I was wrong about Facebook and it is the greatest thing ever, bringing people together. 4) Remember this picture of Jerry Lewis and his chimp buddy sharing a delicious ice cream cone? I am proud to say that somebody found it on my "blog" and made it his Facebook profile picture. Maybe he did it by "stealing bandwidth"! If so, it only serves me right.

A Stiffening of the Trunk

Jon Host says he has discovered the greatest word ever, and it is "pandiculation." According to a Webster's dictionary from 1913, it means "a stretching and stiffening of the trunk and extremities, as when fatigued and drowsy." But Jon doesn't care what it means. He just wants to rhyme it in a song with "handpicked Goulet shun."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Request Fulfilled

"I am especially partial to monkey photos, so keep them coming," writes Kimb Osborne via facebook, so it's not a total waste of time after all. Your wish is my command, Kimb!

How Beautiful My Hair Looks in the Sunlight

Last night I was watching TV when a commercial posed this question directly to me: "Did you ever notice how beautiful your hair looks in the sunlight?" And I was like, "Yes! I certainly did!"

All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up

Welcome once again to All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up. This is your All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up reporter speaking. According to my sister, there may be a movie in the works about everyone's favorite wisecracking teen detective Veronica Mars (above). In other news, my sister thought at first glance that the Emperor Justinian's head was made of delicious chocolate. Would that it were! sighs your humble correspondent. This has been your All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up for today, January 20, 2008.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Allow me to quote from the famous newspaper to the stars, VARIETY: "Magnolia Pictures won a heated bidding war for worldwide rights to Lynn Shelton's bromantic comedy, Humpday... Six companies vied for the fest hit, which had audiences rolling with laughter." Yes, that is none other than much beloved and deserving "Blog" Buddy Lynn Shelton, who has struck Sundance gold. With my clever ellipsis I have left out the details of the plot, which are "racy" by "blog" standards! If you are titillated, you may "click" on the entire article. I know you are! Titillated, I mean. Hooray for Lynn Shelton! Now I feel terrible for refusing to play "internet" Scrabble with her. If only I'd known! (Pictured, Lynn Shelton. Take a good look! You'll be seeing this face all over.)

Closing Bookstores

The four Harry W. Schwartz bookstores in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are going out of business. That's a family-owned chain of independent shops, down the drain. I found the news on the "blog" of Justin Riley, one of the bookstore workers, now unemployed. This is the time to reveal, I suppose, that Justin is the person sometimes referred to here as "Comic Book Villain." I can't properly express how nice the people at Harry W. Schwartz have been to me. I've been to Milwaukee only once, many years before any of my books came out. It was 1992, and I was with Kelly Hogan and our friend from Hubcap City, and if memory serves it was the night the stage fell down at the old theatre and people were rushed to the hospital. But Justin Riley and company didn't know that. Why would they? Justin was probably six years old at the time. But Harry W. Schwartz was there. I guess it has been there for over eighty years. The point is Justin and his fellow employees didn't know me from Adam, but they were always supportive, going out of their way to sell my books to unsuspecting suckers. Seriously, they always gave me the kind of personal support and encouragement that no mammoth retailer will ever give. Did you know, for example, that over on the unnamed behemoth, my recent novel is currently described as being about how the Emperor Justinian "failed to make peace with Persia in the east by not emphasizing a common interest of trade; he failed to establish good relations with the kings of the western Mediterranean and to develop his own homeland, the Balkans; finally, by banning certain Christian sects, he alienated some border regions and sowed the seeds of rebellion"? Guess what? That's not even close to what my novel is about. (The erroneous description has been up there for months.) And that's just one of the many laughable adventures I've had with the behemoth over the years. Harry W. Schwartz didn't make those kinds of mistakes. See, they read the books with their own eyes and sold them with their own hands. Justin Riley quotes the late owner on his "blog" entry: "The true profit in bookselling is the social profit; the bottom line, the measure of the impact of the bookshop on the community." (Pictured, the Emperor Justinian, as a symbol of what's wrong with, well, everything.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Whorton's Periodic Kolchak Update

From the desk of James Whorton, Jr., comes Whorton's Periodic Kolchak Update. Writes Mr. Whorton, Jr.: "Oh, I watched what I think is the final episode of 'The Night Stalker' the other night--called 'The Sentry,' about a kind of lizard man. I think the show's standards slid some towards the end there. In one scene Kolchak has snuck into an autopsy room, and there is a shot where the doctor is talking and you can see cigarette smoke rising from where the corpse is supposed to be. Did we talk about that before?"

McNeil's Gold Medal International Emergency Exit Theatre

That last "post" has inspired McNeil to bring back McNeil's Gold Medal International Emergency Exit Theatre. Don't believe me? "Click" here, disbeliever!

She Keeps Right On Marveling

I am happy to report that the New York Times seems to be back on track with its Jerry references. I have just enjoyed my third in a single week. "The French were right" about Mickey Rourke, marvels a reporter, and she keeps right on marveling about how much they love Jerry Lewis too (a worn-out trope, perhaps, as I have suggested before, though in context she seems to be making the welcome admission that if they were right about Mickey they must also be right about Jerry, or maybe I'm reading too much into it, but that doesn't sound like me). Hey, kids, here's Jerry with Eydie Gorme. I know you have no idea who Eydie Gorme is. No one expects it of you, not even Eydie Gorme. But if you had any human decency you'd check out her "blog" at

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Once Again Hypocritical Whining Proves Ineffectual

... but that doesn't mean I intend to give up on it as a way of life. When will I learn? Remember how I used to whine and complain about "myspace" all the time and I grunted and groaned as I joined and finally I made peace with it and learned how to have a good time? Well, by the time all that happened, nobody cared about myspace anymore and everyone had fallen in love with "facebook," which I pooh-poohed in curmudgeonly terms. I tried joining it for about a week under extreme pressure, but found that it was all over my head and everyone else seemed to be in on some sort of vast inside joke or conspiracy the mysteries of which I could not penetrate, due to my advanced hardening of the arteries. So why am I bringing it up? Someone contacted me via "myspace" today to let me know that there is a "facebook" "group" called "Jack Pendarvis is *******" (of which, let me emphasize, I was entirely unaware). I omit the final word because 1) is it embarrassing and 2) it is the title of the novel I have sworn never to bore you with again. But I'm just letting you know I was forced to "reactivate" my "facebook" account so I can keep my eye on these much appreciated yet feared "Jack Pendarvis Is *******" people with their strange and inexplicable taste in entertainment. Hmm. I see that my sister is a member, so I'm sure it's aboveboard. But still. Odd that she didn't tell me. Oh "facebook," you fill me with righteous dread!

Today In Bob and Jerry News: Special Lookalike Edition

I decided to do one of my patented "Google Image Searches" to see if the man called a "Jerry Lewis look-alike" by a reporter in the previous "post" indeed looks like Jerry. He does not. I found a picture of him at this account ("click" here) of a Texas Bigfoot Conference from a few years back. The reporter whose description is quoted above was seemingly trying to be hurtful, or at least reductive, but I find no insult to either man in the designation. Jerry Lewis and this man are both fine looking in their own ways but do not resemble one another at all. My favorite Bigfoot expert on the "link" may be Mr. Coleman, who is known for his theories about what the "blog" will call (with its well known prudishness) the "dating habits" of Bigfoot. As the article says, "Coleman covered cryptozoology in general. He discussed Mothmen, Lizardmen, and the Chupacabras. Coleman also made an interesting prediction: with the 50th anniversary of the release of the film, The Creature of the Black Lagoon, he told the crowd to expect reports of 'gill men' of the type found in the film." Now, speaking of lookalikes of "blog" heroes, I finally saw that new Metal Men series of stories recommended to me so long ago by the "blog" penpal who calls himself "Comic Book Villain." Being an old man, I do not fully understand your modern day comic books, jam packed as each panel is with bewildering visual information, and dense as each plot seems to be with alternate universes and timelines and mythologies of which I am entirely unaware. But that is not the Metal Men's fault! It was nice to see them in action again. Nor was it the fault of the author. It is my own fault for becoming so old. The comic's target audience of youngsters made its Bob Hope reference all the more gratifying. Mercury (the red one, below) shares Bob's famous ski-slope nose, a similarity made explicit in one of the new stories when Doc Magnus is rebuilding his robots and Mercury asks to be given "the piercing blue eyes of Bob Hope." These are the things that make us happy as we become old and weak. (The panel below is not from the new incarnation. It is one from my youth, as you can tell from the uncluttered style and the weirdly innocent creepiness.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Magic of Google

After confessing/declaring the "blog's" true interests yesterday (Jerry Lewis, monkeys, and UFOs), I decided to use the magic of "Google" to see how often this noble triptych had been gathered elsewhere on the "internet." My "googling" brought me directly to an apparent newspaper profile ("cute" and condescending) of Don Keating, president of the Eastern Ohio Bigfoot Conference. I immediately grasped how such an article might include monkeys and UFOs, but I had to read carefully to discover the Jerry Lewis reference, which came in a description of one "Marc Dewerth, 31, a Jerry Lewis look-alike who once glimpsed Bigfoot from 75 yards away. 'He was trying to intimidate the **** out of me,' recalls Marc." Now, have you ever noticed how many times the "blog" claims to encounter a significant coincidence? If not, "click" here, or here, or here, or here, for starters. But here's the thing. Last month, completely at random, I happened to include the program for Mr. Keating's Annual Bigfoot Conference in Newcomerstown, Ohio, on the 2008 "Blog" Advent Calendar. Crazy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chestnuts for Monkeys

As I casually "clicked" backward to all the "blog's" references to flannel, I happened on a "post" involving Chuang Tzu. And from that "post" I landed on a "web" page explaining Chuang Tzu's theory of "Generation by Opposites." And it struck me as a great coincidence, because it turns out that not only do Keats and Nicolas of Cusa have something to say about THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (as we learned yesterday in an unrelated "post") but so does Chuang Tzu. The parable he uses to explain the "Generation by Opposites" begins like this: "A keeper of monkeys said that each monkey was to have three chestnuts in the morning and four at night." You can read the rest for yourself. But I was like, "Right on." I was like, "Everything is connected." I was like, "I love ancient philosophers who use monkeys in their examples." And I do. You know, there have been a lot of efforts to decide what the "blog" is all about. But as time goes on, it becomes clear: Jerry Lewis, monkeys, and UFOs. (Hey, remember this happy little fella [pictured]?)

Flannel Pants Watch '09

Ladies and gentlemen, Flannel Pants Watch '09 has come to an end. Today was the day. The flannel pants were taken out and worn with what some observers saw fit to refer to as "aplomb." As usual, the reappearance of the famed pants will be celebrated later this evening with seasonal beverages and folk dancing. We want to thank all the sponsors of Flannel Pants Watch '09 for helping make the event a real success. Thanks to one and all for participating, and see you next year!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chew On Some Nicolas of Cusa

My newest discovery will no doubt alarm, thrill, and delight you: I am not the only person with a "blogspot" "blog" who "blogged" about the final scene of THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN today. TODAY, I said! Have you fainted yet? This guy ("click" here) finds a connection between that scene and Keats's idea of "negative capability," whereas (as you no doubt remember) I was going for a whole Nicolas of Cusa vibe, further cementing my relationship with the young people of today. Hey, here's some Nicolas of Cusa to chew on: "God is neither nothing nor not nothing, nor is God both nothing and not nothing, but God is the source and origin of all beginnings of being and not-being." And then one or two sentences later he says that God is NOT the source of the beginnings of being and not-being, and then he says, "I was speaking the truth when I said it, and I am speaking the truth now, when I deny it." Yeah! How's your mind now? Blown perhaps?

Let's Hear It For the Incredible Shrinking Man

Just watched THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN. It was great! And the ending - spoiler alert - was mystical, no kidding! DON'T READ THIS UNTIL YOU SEE THE MOVIE. I don't want to ruin it for you. But here's the thing guaranteed to blow your mind. The climax occurs when the hero concludes that "the unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet like the closing of a gigantic circle." And then he becomes - I'm not kidding, this is a huge spoiler alert - "nothing"! Yet he "still exists." Mystical, like I said. That's some kind of crazy Nicolas of Cusa stuff they're laying down, you know what I mean? And it connects with some observations on bigness and smallness in the fiction of Flann O'Brien and myself (ha ha! I mentioned myself and Flann O'Brien in the same sentence... again!) that I have "blogged" about before. I was thinking about THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN because there was a short clip of it on the TV show MONK the other night... and a few days later I noticed a thoughtful, perceptive essay about the film on the TCM movie "blog." So I decided to rent it. I hadn't seen it since childhood, but I still remembered the scene with the spider looming over the poor guy, who's defending himself with a pin. The script is great, the direction is great, the production design and sound effects are great, the movie is suspenseful, unpredictable in its moods and motives, ingeniously constructed, and even moving. Speaking of the direction, it made me ashamed of the "blog's" formerly dismissive attitude toward Jack Arnold. So what if he made A GLOBAL AFFAIR and some other strictly workmanlike pieces? I'll never smirk at Jack Arnold again. He also directed CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, one of my favorite monster movies. I'm sorry I ever doubted you, ghost of Jack Arnold! Maybe in the future I'll keep my big gob shut.

That's More Like It, New York Times

After a period of relative scarcity, the New York Times seems to be getting back up to speed with its Jerry Lewis references. For today's Jerry reference, "click" here. Curiously, this is the second NYT Jerry reference in a row to spotlight the comedian Richard Belzer's affection for Lewis. In today's paper we learn of Belzer's "strong friendship" with his "mentor" Jerry. It occurs to me that Belzer used to work with "blog" acquaintance David Simon on the TV series HOMICIDE. Could this be my "in" with Jerry? Could this be how I become an important part of Jerry's life? Ha ha ha! Just kidding! I am not a stalker! Ha ha ha ha! Uh... Ha ha ha! Back when Mr. Ward and I worked in television together, we sent someone to Los Angeles to interview various celebrities about Don Knotts. Don't worry about why. It's the kind of thing we used to do! And I must say that I recall Mr. Belzer being the most versed and articulate of all the celebrities on the subject of Don Knotts. In fact, he made our freelance interviewer's lack of comedic education glaringly apparent. As Knotts aficionados, we cringed as we watched the footage, Mr. Ward and I did, embarrassed by our Knotts-ignorant surrogate. A comedy historian, this Belzer. That's one nice thing about comedians. They seem interested in their predecessors. Speaking of which, in today's NYT article, we also learn that the comedian Richard Lewis has a friendship with Jonathan Winters. Somehow we have mentioned Jonathan Winters only once in all our years of "blogging." Why? It isn't right. Even Barry Hannah has cited him as an influence. He is great. And now I will go to the youtube and try to find you some proof. Okay, here he is with Johnny. And this concludes today's consideration of things that no one cares about but me - and maybe Richard Belzer and Richard Lewis, who are in their 60s and probably spend precious little time looking at "blogs." You know who doesn't care about these things? People who read "blogs"! I'm sorry! I'm sorry for everything. And now I crawl back in my hole.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Whiff of Conspiracy

Once again the New York Times presents a UFO story and McNeil remains ominously silent. There's a whiff of conspiracy around here.

Woodbury Renaissance

Every day I learn something surprising from the Paul Lynde "web" site, or, as I call it, "my new Bible." Today as I "clicked" around on it, I found a "link" to Woody Woodbury's "web" site. And that was what I learned: that Woody Woodbury has a "web" site. (You may remember Mr. Woodbury from previous "blog" entries, but I bet you don't, because you have a lot on your mind these days.) For Kelly Hogan, who is a well known FRASIER fan: Did you know that Woodbury is friends with Kelsey Grammer? It's true! And if you don't believe me, simply check out the Woody Woodbury "web" site. For McNeil, who loves audio clips: Explore Woody Woodbury's extensive file. Truly there is something for everyone on the Woody Woodbury "web" site. Pictured, Woody Woodbury with Ellen Burnstyn (!!!) and Paul Lynde in a scene from FOR THOSE WHO THINK YOUNG. And yes, I believe the three parenthetical exclamation points are entirely justified. Now if you will excuse me, I am off to look for other subjects that no one cares about but me - and sometimes not even me - so I can announce them to the world through the auspices of my "blog." (NOTE: You can contact Mr. Woodbury through his "web" site, which was how the curator of the Paul Lynde site personally received a photo of Mr. Woodbury with gangster-movie icon George Raft. There. That timely George Raft reference should finally seal my bond with my hip young readership.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

This Is the "Internet"

I just bounced from the Paul Lynde "web" site to a fan-generated episode guide to the ALL IN THE FAMILY spin-off GLORIA. In episode #7, "Maggie makes a big mistake in refusing a lawyer's toaster oven as payment for treating his monkey." For the full episode guide, please "click" here. I know you will! I believe in you.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Paul Lynde's Diet Waffles

I feel I should mention that the recipe for Paul Lynde's diet waffles which accompanied the previous "post" was found at "the official Paul Lynde site approved by the Paul Lynde estate." Keep your volume up, so you can hear Paul Lynde say "Oh my goodness!" over and over. Yes, the site is equipped with McNeil's "fave" feature - the celebrity audio clip. You can get Mr. Lynde's beef stew recipe as well. (NOTE: Waffles pictured are not necessarily Paul Lynde's diet waffles.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Say Hello to Banana-Grassing

Mom called last night and sounded surprised that I picked up the phone. When I asked why, she said, "I thought you'd be out banana-grassing." I said "What? Did you say 'banana-grassing'?" Mom confirmed that she had said "banana-grassing." I asked her what that meant, exactly. She said, "You know, wallowing in the grass eating bananas." I said, "You thought I was lying in the grass eating
bananas?" "Wallowing in the grass," she corrected me. "Banana-grassing. It means socializing." I asked Mom where on earth such a term came from. "I just now made it up," she said. So let's spread it around, people. Banana-grassing! It's the great new hyphenated word for socializing in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. It might be that Mom was kidding me. I may have misheard her, and she decided to have some fun by pretending to have said "banana-grassing," just as I had erroneously inquired. It is equally possible that the term "banana-grassing" just popped out of my mother's mouth unbidden and that she retrofitted it with a definition on the spot. However it happened, it's in the world now and we're going ahead with it full steam. I'm aware that referring to money as "Stang" has never quite caught on, although we have made some real headway in California. Still, I have high hopes for banana-grassing.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Lifestyles of the McNeil

McNeil is upset that he can't find any clips of the old syndicated TV series LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS on youtube. Nor, he claims, is the show available on DVD. So, where is it? NOWHERE? Who has it? NOBODY? McNeil is plagued! Haunted!

Superman Twee

Very late "blogging" today. I was doing that other thing, what do you call it? Working. Sometimes I do that for a change of pace. I finished going through all the editorial notes for my detective novel and made the appropriate changes. So I guess it's sort of done, save for the dreaded "copy edits." I know you don't care! I'm only telling you all this to explain how I arrived at the above illustration, the incredibly twee cover of an old Superman comic. Anyway, in the course of my work today (and I don't think this is a spoiler) I had to look up a picture of the comic book character Sgt. Rock on the "internet." There's a reference to him in the book, and I wanted to be technically accurate. Somehow my "googling" led me instead to Superman secretly helping an old lady blow out her birthday candles as her kitty grins approvingly and maybe even laughs. And don't forget Polly the Parrot! Polly want a cracker? Looks like THIS Polly would prefer a slice of cake! (The title of this "post" may be read as a lame pun on the title of the movie SUPERMAN III, costarring Richard Pryor. I'm sorry. It's not my best effort.)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Corporate Clown Joke Nose Blowings Exposed

From deep undercover comes a secret message from our corporate spy "L." after a long and mysterious silence. She was coaxed into the open by our recent mention of the guys who tried to write the world's least popular song. She heard about it on the same program as the NBIL. "I have been exploring all kinds of online radio shows in an effort to keep my headphones on to drown out the sound of my objectionable coworkers," she writes. As an example, she cites a coworker who blew his nose all day yesterday. "And I kid you not," she insists, "that his nose blowings were like clown joke nose blowings... I had to get on the phone with the corporate office in California, so I found myself in the odd situation of having to ask him to stop blowing his nose." This gentleman also made some loud and startling noises from places other than his nose, noises and places upon which no decent "blog" might bring itself to report.

So Pendarvis "Blog" 2007

"I know that cigarette holders are so 'Pendarvis blog 2007,'" writes Austin-based filmmaker and "Blog" Buddy Dan Brown, but he can't resist submitting the above European cigarette commercial directed by the Coen brothers. (NOTE: If you watch the commercial on youtube, the next two videos that pop up are cigarette commercials by Godard and David Lynch!)

Know Your Goldfish

The exhortation to "know your goldfish" is the one that most provokes McNeil.

The Shadow

Among the first things that got me interested in stories and storytelling - in the fourth grade or so - were some paperback reprints of pulp novels about the Shadow. The pictures were great, too! So I would like to note the passing of Edd Cartier, who did the original illustrations for the pulp magazines of the 1930s.

Know Your Monkey

This "post" is dedicated to my sister and her powerful aversion to pigeons. I wonder if the amount of words it will take me to explain how I came to this picture will be worth it. But that's the great thing about "blogs"... you can use as many words as you want (because the "internet" is infinite, isn't it?) and they don't have to make "sense" (because it's a "blog")! Yesterday I "clicked" on a "link" at the Elegant Variation and was sent to a funny article, which I forwarded to Phil. Phil, in turn, "clicked" on some more "links" (using the article I sent him as his "launching pad") and found another funny article, by the Village Voice columnist Alan Scherstuhl, who reviews forgotten, often self-published books he finds moldering in thrift store bargain bins and such. "Click" here for his column on ENJOY YOUR PIGEONS, sent to me by Phil in the manner and through the complex channels described above. That's where I got the illustration that will probably cause my sister to leave work early, feeling poorly. Sorry! Plus, it features the kind of sentence we have long appreciated on the "blog" as its caption: "A pretty sight; however, the practice of feeding street pigeons from your mouth is not recommended." And as a bonus, there is an ad for the other books in the series (see below), including one you know I want with all my heart: KNOW YOUR MONKEY.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Today I put the word "skulk" into my detective novel, and I thought, "That's a weird word. Skulk." And it is! Skulk. Well, that's all I have for you today. Skulk.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Curious, George

The NBIL was listening to NPR yesterday when he heard something he was sorry he hadn't heard a month before - because, he said, it would have been perfect for the "blog" advent calendar. And he was right! He heard about these guys who used scientific polling to compose what should be the most popular song in the world and the least popular song in the world. Of the latter, they say on their "web" site, "The most unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer... An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music, advertising jingles, political slogans, and 'elevator' music, and a children's choir sings jingles and holiday songs." They might have saved themselves some time and just put on a Frank Zappa record. By the way, as you can tell from the great number of "links" above, we have often "blogged" about many of these musical components with tender love. We stand up for atonal music, rap, accordions, and opera, just to name a few! And the NBIL feels the same way. Further research led the NBIL to discover that these gentlemen are also responsible for the most and least popular paintings in America. The most popular, as the NBIL noted, features George Washington [that's not it attached to this "post" - ed.]. Nor was the NBIL the only person who talked to me about George Washington yesterday. My mother (who loves George Washington and thinks he is handsome) claimed that the largest collection of George Washington memorabilia outside of D.C. is located in Columbiana, Alabama. Sure enough, there is a Washington museum in Columbiana. As a frequent critic (and perpetrator) of the "internet's" inaccuracies, I cannot say whether it indeed holds the second largest collection of Washingtonian materials, but I CAN say that my mother is not a liar! Here's a fun activity! Count how many times in a week someone mentions George Washington to you. Maybe it happens more often than you think! Keep a journal! Share your findings with others! Start a George Washington club in your neighborhood!