Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's Possible!

Did I bite the inside of my cheek as I slept? It's possible! It's certainly possible. I think I'll start a new "blog" feature called "It's Possible!"

Paul Harvey

Object of "blog" wonderment Paul Harvey has passed on. So long, Paul Harvey!

Oatmeal Tips

Welcome once again to "Oatmeal Tips." Today I made my oatmeal on a different burner. Big mistake! Luckily, I am "in tune" with my oatmeal, so I could tell when it was ready. But remember, kids, every burner on your stove has its own personality and quirks. Find the burner that best suits your oatmeal needs and stick with it! In other domestic news, I found my favorite pen. I thought it was gone forever but it was not. Last night I pulled the long string that hangs down from the light bulb on the back porch and it snapped off in my hands, the string did, which means that the back porch light is staying on forever and ever, running up the power bill. These domestic items have nothing to do with oatmeal... OR DO THEY? They do not. Also, it is snowing RIGHT NOW. Don't forget to send YOUR oatmeal tips to "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

Faulkner's Footwear Furthers Fashion Fad

As James Sepsey points out, Faulkner - in the photo recently "posted" on the "blog" - appears to be wearing Uggs brand boots with shorts, which (as Mr. Sepsey could not know, living in California as he does) puts Faulkner in the inexplicable company of almost every young woman on the Ole Miss campus. Maybe they're all paying tribute to Faulkner!

McNeil, Briefly

Welcome once more, dear friends, to "McNeil, Briefly," the place on the "blog" where all the latest in McNeil news is aggregated and disseminated. First, McNeil has sent the picture above by e-mail. What can it mean? Is it a response to an earlier dispatch from Kathleen Judge? Is it commentary on a famous, controversial work of art from a few decades ago? Who knows? There is no accompanying text! So I tend, as usual, to blame the pain pills. Speaking of pain pills, McNeil's recent surgery prevents him from being with us in Oxford, Mississippi, on Tuesday night, when the "Kitty Snacks" magazine - in which McNeil's short story "The Zoo" appears - will launch for real. "Click" here for details of the event, at which I will read a line or two in celebration of the "Kitty Snacks."

Friday, February 27, 2009


I am happy to say that "banana-grassing," the hyphenated word recently invented by my mother, has appeared on yet another "web" site, after its exciting debut on the Aquaman "blog." Now, the "She" of "She Blogged By Night" is tossing about "banana-grassing" with verve and aplomb. "Click" here to see how she uses it and maybe you'll want to use it, too!

Author Photo

The science fiction writer Philip Jose Farmer has passed away, and as a result I saw his author photo today. Kids, this is the way to do an author photo: WITH A PIPE. Do NOT do it while chewing the stem of your eyeglasses and wearing a hat! But a pipe won't solve ALL your problems! If you smoke a pipe, KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON (unlike Faulkner, below). It is okay, however, to sit in your bathtub with a cigarette holder. It makes sense to have your shirt off in the bathtub! In fact you would seem crazy if you kept your shirt ON in the bathtub. Hope this helps!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"I Hope You're Sitting Down"

... was the title of the e-mail in which Phil sent this Jerry Lewis record cover. I was, thank goodness! Because Phil also included a place on the "internet" where you can go and listen to the song and story. In other eating news, New Orleans-born chef John Currence chimes in on the subject of Hubig's pies: "I once fit a whole apple one in my mouth in seventh grade, to try and impress a girl. [Very Jerry Lewisish - ed.] She still doesn't speak to me. I cried when I saw my first one after Katrina. I remember the exact convenience store I was in on Claiborne Avenue. The nice man gave me the pie... Banana is my favorite, but they are hard to find... sweet potato is also extremely good. Put one in the microvave for 15 seconds and it morphs from simply wonderful to transcendent. [Phil agrees. - ed.] I won a big cooking competition in New Orleans last August. When I was done, I had not eaten for about three days. As I collapsed, I was approached by a reporter for the New Orleans paper who wanted to know how I felt after the competition. All I could think was that I was hungry and I told her I would pay a hundred dollars for a hubig's pie I was so famished. She thought it was very funny and put that quote in the story in the paper. A week later, I got a box in the mail from the nice folks at hubig's. In it were 12 hubig's pies, a note of congratulations and an invoice for $1,200."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cri de Comedy

McNeil is teaching a class about the 1980s, research for which led him to the happy reminder that the Beastie Boys mention Jerry Lewis by name in their song "Hold It Now Hit It." I was happy to remind McNeil in turn that the Beastie Boys number "Hey Ladies" takes its name - and the particular delivery of its refrain - from Jerry's well-known if slightly apocryphal catch phrase, or what Manohla Dargis calls "his trademark cri de comedy" and which she traces to its roots in THE STOOGE.

Phil Culpa

The worst title for a "post" ever. It's not even a pun. It's nothing. Yet it represents a true milestone: the usually obdurate Phil Oppenheim has apologized for something - specifically, for "maligning Jack Carson" in the past. Phil is watching CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF right now, and dashes off an urgent telegram declaring of Carson, "He's perfect." A red-letter day for the "blog" and a comfort we are sure to a "Blog" Icon, dead character actor Jack Carson.

Hit With an Enrobement of Sugar Glaze

Have you toured the Hubig's pie factory via the "internet"? Are you pleased and satisfied yet still curious? Phil sends along another tour of the Hubig's pie factory, this one from the famed NEW YORKER magazine. To enjoy Phil's "link," "click" here. The picture above comes from the Hubig's "web" site, where it is coupled with my favorite caption ever: "After going thru the deep fry, the turnovers are hit with an enrobement of sugar glaze."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Still Life With Oatmeal

Phil calls this picture "Mardi Gras in Atlanta." We call it "Still Life With Oatmeal" because of how classy we are. Here's what I get from Phil's original title and the picture itself: Phil is sad because he's not at a real Mardi Gras celebration today (which is Mardi Gras). So he tried livening up his oatmeal with a side of Hubig's New Orleans Style Pies. Good effort, Phil! We hope it worked. But we suspect that pathos was the general effect. But maybe we're wrong! We hope so! The pies probably didn't hurt! Here's what Phil has to say about the pies: "Hubig's pies are super-sweet, super-lardy fried pies. You pop 'em in the microwave for about half a minute til their innards are molten, and they come out amazingly delicious. The sugary glaze makes at least three of my molars hurt every time I eat one." "Click" here to take a tour of the Hubig's pie factory. And if that's not enough factory action to suit you, don't forget the corncob pipe factory and the marble factory. Happy Mardi Gras!

McNeil's Gold Medal International Emergency Exit Double Dino Theatre

Welcome once again to McNeil's Gold Medal International Emergency Exit Theatre. You know how it works. But today is special. It will remind you of the time we had a double Aquaman edition called McNeil's Gold Medal International Emergency Exit Double Aquaman Theatre. Our special guest this time is Mr. Dean Martin. [Please note: When you "click" on that previous "link," the picture you see IS NOT OF DEAN AND JERRY. It's Dean and Jerry impersonators Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo. - ed.] Now for the theatre part. McNeil asks you to "click" this and that. And he believes you will do it! Don't let him down, even though he'd double-cross YOU in a New York minute. The first of McNeil's two "clicks" is vastly superior if you only have time for one.

Oatmeal Tips

Our regular "Oatmeal Tips" feature is inspiring today's modern youth to reexamine their relationship with oatmeal. Case in point: one Jordan Gower of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who credits "Oatmeal Tips" with his recent decision to eat oatmeal when he noticed he was out of eggs. Jordan's version? "Brown sugar, a little bit of cinnamon and sliced apples (my favorite 'instant' kind was always Apples & Cinnamon, despite the chewy, freeze-dried apples)." That's the spirit, Jordan! You've retained the nostalgia you feel for the deadly instant oatmeal of your childhood but you've made healthy choices... what we at "Oatmeal Tips" like to call "oatmeal choices." As it says in the Bible, "When I became a man I put away my childish things." And nice use of the ampersand, incidentally. Way to go! "Oatmeal Tips" salutes you. How has oatmeal (or "Oatmeal Tips") changed YOUR life? Let us know at "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

Monday, February 23, 2009

All Those Nice People In All Their Fancy Clothes

I just noticed that there's an audio component to the Manohla Dargis article about Jerry Lewis - you can push a button and hear her talk about what she likes about Jerry. She suggests that one reason to tune in to the Oscars is to see if he'll "embarrass all those nice people in all their fancy clothes," and then she adds, "I hope he does." Well, to me, this beautifully sums up Jerryness. The embarrassment IS what's great about him and it's also what drives some people away. She hits on something really essential there, and that final embrace of embarrassment - "I hope he does" - is epiphanic. Listen to Dargis, I say.

Oscar Wrap-Up With Phil and McNeil

"I thought at least he'd come out with pencils in his nose," said Phil Oppenheim of Jerry Lewis. "I know what Kimb is thinking," McNeil asserts of the recently "posted" Oscar-night photo: "I am the real power behind this man." Let's say these guys are McNeil and Phil, why not?

Mark and Kimb at the Oscars!

Look what Kent captured off the television with his eagle eye! It was a quick panning shot that somehow I missed seeing entirely. It is, as the title of this "post" suggests, Mark and Kimb at the Oscars! "I like the way Kimb is looking right at us," says Kent. As for me, I like the way everyone else is clapping and Mark and Kimb look as if they may know a secret about the person for whom everyone else is clapping. Mysterious!

Sister Trounces "Blogger" 14-12

In a startling upset last night, my sister picked 14 Oscar "winners" while I picked a mere 12. That's 12 total, a humiliating letdown considering that two years ago I picked 12 in a row and was just getting warmed up. I guess my favorite part was Anne Hathaway's reaction to Shirley MacLaine (pictured), because she did what I would do if I ever saw Shirley MacLaine: weep copiously and mouth "I love you." Same goes for Jerry. Speaking of which, the New York Times made a couple of mentions of Jerry Lewis today, as I am always bound to report, but they were perfunctory. Below, Shirley and Jerry a while ago.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up

Just watching Emir Kusturica's ARIZONA DREAM (thanks, dvr!) to get myself ready for Jerry's appearance on the Oscars tomorrow night. We'll be looking for "Blog" Buddies Mark and Kimb Osborne to "stroll down" the "red carpet" as well! Speaking of awards, "Blog" Buddy Lynn Shelton won a big "Independent Spirit" award this afternoon. And who should be spied sitting in the audience but Debra Winger, who was recently standing near me while someone gave me an oatmeal tip? Finally, Barry B. really DID watch LI'L ABNER! He is a trouper and a man of his word. And a masochist, apparently. He called last night to tell me that Jerry Lewis has a cameo in it, which I would have known if it hadn't so easily disturbed me and made me turn away from the screen in burning shame. That'll teach me not to finish what I start! This has been your All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up for today, February 21st, 2009. See you next time! Until then, keep "reaching" for the "stars"! (Pictured, Jerry Lewis and Johnny Depp in ARIZONA DREAM, which also stars Vincent Gallo, Faye Dunaway, Lili Taylor, Michael J. Pollard, and all the other craziest people on earth.)

Oatmeal Tips: Aquaman Edition

Welcome back to "Oatmeal Tips," everybody's favorite part of the "blog"! I noticed thanks to facebook that Laura Gjovaag, the curator of the Aquaman "blog," occasionally makes oatmeal for her husband. This is just one of the many evils of facebook to which I am resigned - how it brings out the oatmeal voyeur in me. Naturally, I asked Ms. Gjovaag for an oatmeal tip. She responded with admirable alacrity: "Um. I put 3/4 a cup of oatmeal per person in a pot, put in enough water that I can stir it without shoulder strain, then set it on the cooktop and stir until it starts to spit at me. I like mine with either brown sugar or honey. Hubby takes his with milk and brown sugar. Sometimes we put dried fruit in. To be honest, I've been reading your oatmeal tips and figured you had my oatmeal style covered. I'm a very basic cook." Pshaw, Ms. Gjovaag! You have hit upon a very important aspect of oatmeal cookery when you say "stir until it starts to spit at me." An oatmeal amateur will rely on a clock or kitchen timer to tell him or her that the oatmeal is "ready." Those who are truly "in the know" let our oatmeal speak to us. This is the lesson of Ms. Gjovaag's method: Trust the oatmeal. Now. I wonder if Aquaman could survive in oatmeal. I still think back fondly on the time he swam around in orange juice and champagne.

An Astonishment

Oh, Manohla Dargis, I knew you had it in you! Looks like there will be a nice appreciation of Jerry in Sunday's New York Times, thanks to Ms. Dargis. Among other things, she offers a superb examination of the CINDERFELLA dance, calling the film itself, by the way, "an astonishment." (It's one of McNeil's top Jerrys, I believe.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Loves Pickles

Look what I found thanks to the facebook. It's, a "blog" by a woman who loves pickles. In one "post" she "blogs" about the Ajax Diner. She loves pickles as much as the woman who writes the Aquaman "blog" loves Aquaman. I repeat. Check out the pickle "blog." Now I like facebook for leading me to such places, which must mean that facebook is over. Move on to the next thing, everybody!

Shields and Yarnell and Laura and Jack

Laura Lippman and I were talking about mimes and robots and such through the powers of the "internet" and that made me think of Shields and Yarnell, and I said so. And Laura knew what I was talking about! And that made us both sad. For you see, Shields and Yarnell were mimes who pretended to be robots and THEY HAD THEIR OWN PRIME TIME NETWORK TV SHOW! (And suddenly I also remembered Mummenschanz, an experimental mime troupe who used to come on the Johnny Carson show in black tights and wiggle around on the floor. That's how TV used to be! We thought it was normal!)


Today I was singing and Theresa said, "Please stop singing like Jerry Lewis." She thought I was singing like Jerry Lewis! But the joke was on her because I was singing like Robyn Hitchcock. Oh, wait. The joke was on me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

You Win, McNeil

McNeil has expressed displeasure - several times now! - that I did not remark upon the sad passing of Blossom Dearie. Today's complaint notes that I have no trouble talking about such trivial things as keys and phone bills yet not a word in honor of said songstress. I try to go easy with the obituaries because the "blog" is a cheerful place. But I have nothing against Blossom Dearie - in fact, I like her a lot. So here. This (below) is how many people of my age (and McNeil's) first heard her unique piano playing and singing voice. It is appropriately mystical under the circumstances. The ending will blow your mind, like the ending of THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN. In the old days, it was okay to blow a kid's mind this way and we all turned out swell.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two For Two

So with the key thing and then the phone bill, I'm like two for two, knock wood. I don't want to tempt fate or jinx anything or brag.

Everything Worked Out

For weeks it seems we have been like, "Did the phone bill come yet?" and "Did we ever pay the phone bill?" and "Where's the phone bill?" and "Do you think the phone bill was lost in the mail?" and "I should get online and pay the phone bill," and "I should make a call about the phone bill," and "Did we forget to pay the phone bill?" and "Haven't we usually paid the phone bill by now?" and "Did we accidentally throw away the phone bill?" Anyway, the phone bill came today so everything worked out.

Didn't Lose My Keys

Yesterday I thought I had lost my keys but then it turned out that I had not lost my keys.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Lottery Litterer Strikes Again

Barry B. reports that the person who tosses used lottery tickets in front of his house is back! Here's the update, straight from Barry B.: "The lottery litterer has struck again. Until last week there hadn't been any lottery tickets in the street since your blog about it. I was wondering if the lottery litterer read your blog. I went out and gathered the lottery tickets from the street. There are about thirty of them. But there is also a type of receipt that at least has the store # and the time they were purchased. The lottery litterer brings me down. I'm going to get him or her. On the brighter side Li'l Abner is on its way via Netflix after last night's screening of The Virgin Spring. There was another brighter side 'thing' but after writing about the lottery litterer I have forgotten it. Oh, I am eating oatmeal for breakfast now as I am cutting out dairy for awhile. I agree with the person who cooks it on the stove instead of the microwave." Thanks, Barry B.! And now some explanation for the folks at home: I saw some of the 1959 version of LI'L ABNER on TCM and thought of Barry right away because it combines some of the most striking aspects of two of Barry B.'s "fave" movies - WEST SIDE STORY (dancers crouching low to the ground) and THE FORBIDDEN ZONE. But it's not like THE FORBIDDEN ZONE on purpose! It is a misshapen thing, I suppose you would call it, a bewildering mess, and I believe I also compared it to some of the more peculiar aspects of Altman's POPEYE, which Barry B. and I have enjoyed together. And it was also incredibly smutty, LI'L ABNER was, the part I saw. I told Barry B. all of this via facebook. And Barry B. told me that by coincidence HE was about to send ME a message about a wrongheaded movie that only I could appreciate! It was like weird movie ESP - or WMESP for short. Wrote Barry at the time, "I was watching the equally disturbing Smokey and the Bandit II. Jackie Gleason played not only the potty-mouthed sheriff chasing the Bandit, but the sheriff's two law official brothers. Three Jackie Gleasons. One of the brothers looked and acted like Rip Taylor and the other was a singing mountie. And then there was a scene where 30 or so semi and dump trucks were up against 30 or so law vehicles and they were driving around in circles running into each other like a rodeo. AND, the Bandit and Jerry Reed's cargo was a pregnant elephant?!? I was sure I'd seen this cr** when I was a kid but I think I would've remembered this one as it was very bizarre." (Pictured, "blog" "fave" Stella Stevens in a scene from LI'L ABNER.)

McNeil's "Way... Way Out"

Welcome to McNeil's popular if irregular UFO column "Way... Way Out." Today McNeil sends a couple of "links." The first is to a BBC news report about England's susceptibility to alien visitations. Next comes what McNeil calls, in his e-mail's title, "the mother lode" of aggregated sighting reports: in January alone we had "orange balls of light, triangular 'humming' objects," and so much more. Let these oranges represent the orange balls of light.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hot News From Chicago

In an e-mail entitled "hot news from chicago," Kathleen Judge presents the following attachment:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Last Unicorn

As per my fanciful suggestion, James Sepsey went and wrote a Raymond Carver story with unicorns in it. Toward the end it goes like this: "Sue lifted her head out of the trough. Her crest ruffled. Her withers shook." I enjoyed reading the story. It was funny. But it ignored the larger point of the "post" to which Mr. Sepsey was responding, namely, that we will no longer discuss unicorns on the "blog." And here we are discussing unicorns, see? I'm going to search the "internet" for a picture of a unicorn in a circle with a red line through it. They have everything on the "internet." Man, that was easy! It took me like two seconds to find one. I told you.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What We Talk About When We Talk About Unicorns

I guess you've noticed there wasn't a Friday the 13th unicorn yesterday or a Valentine's Day unicorn either and you're probably pretty upset about the whole thing. You're probably like, "Is this the end of the Holiday Unicorn Series?" The answer is yes. We have glutted ourselves on unicorns, have we not? And we all know the Bastille Day Unicorn was the best one and it was only the second in the series. We should have quit while we were ahead! But the title of this "post" is a "takeoff" on a Raymond Carver title that really ends with "Love," so that's your Valentine's Day reward, I suppose. And if you put a comma in it, "Friday, the 13th Unicorn" would be an okay protagonist for a children's book, I guess. You could almost sing a song about him to the tune of Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. What fun that would be! Or write a Raymond Carver-style story featuring unicorns instead of those guys who usually end up in Raymond Carver stories. A romantic and creative activity for you and that special someone on Valentine's Day! In the meantime, I'm going to look for some other kind of legendary monster with which to illustrate this "post." And yes, I consider unicorns to be monsters. (Look! I found Spring-Heeled Jack! He is a fine and sometimes overlooked legendary monster. I first read about him in a Reader's Digest publication called STRANGE STORIES, AMAZING FACTS - a formative tome for Mr. Ward as well. How many are the times we have pleasantly discussed it. I still have my copy. As I take it out and read it now, I see that a Victorian lass named Jane Alsop described Spring-Heeled Jack to the police in the following manner: "He was wearing a kind of helmet, and a tight-fitting white costume like an oilskin. His face was hideous, his eyes were like balls of fire. His hands had great claws, and he vomited blue and white flames." I suddenly realize that I had Spring-Heeled Jack in mind in my very first book when I had a narrator describe the superhero Johnny America. [Evidence: he jumps high and there is blue flame involved, though regrettably he does not "vomit" it, which would have been awesome.] Thanks, Reader's Digest! I also notice in STRANGE STORIES, AMAZING FACTS that "a paste of egg yolk and unicorn liver was said to heal leprosy." Good to know! And our goodbye to the subject.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Then He Was Like

John Currence just fed us something good. Then he was like, "Those were fried pig ears." Sadistically delicious!

Why Are Music Boxes Creepy?

[PLEASE NOTE: Upon long reflection, this "post" will in no way inform you in any accurate way of the reasons why music boxes are creepy. "Click" here for - possibly - more useful details.] In fact, look, I just deleted it. This old "post," I mean. So you'll have to "click" on that "link" now for the astonishing answer.

Oatmeal Tips

Welcome again to the best part of the "blog," "Oatmeal Tips." Today's oatmeal tip comes from the delightful and delightfully named Emily Doe, whom I met in the McSweeney's office on my last trip to San Francisco. Please note: Emily broke up her oatmeal tip into handy and attractive paragraphs. But I have never learned to "do" paragraph breaks on the "blog." It is not Emily's fault! With that, I give you Emily: "I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed last month and as a result subsisted on an all-oatmeal diet for two weeks. While to some people this may sound like torture, to me it was a dream come true. I love oatmeal. I eat it all the time. What's not to love about complex carbs and one trusty ingredient. Here's how I generally enjoy my oatmeal: sticky, cooked on the stove with water - never in a microwave- with brown sugar and raisins, and sometimes dried cranberries- but never nuts. Here's how I ate it during my post-surgery days: very soupy, cooked on the stove with milk for extra calories, and maple syrup. Now that the holes in my gums are filling back in and I don't have to worry about dry sockets anymore I'm back to eating oatmeal the sticky way, but with a splash of milk!" Thanks, Emily! The conversion to milk is informative, and perhaps the most telling thing about your story. How interesting when a stark necessity becomes a luxurious preference - in many ways, the story of the world. Of the accompanying photo, Emily writes, "See those blue stripes through my teeth? Apparently, they’re from some now-defunct vaccine that they were giving kids back in the 80s!" What does oatmeal mean to YOU? Let me know by sending a postcard to "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Hey! I just saw a Cheetos commercial in which the primary (only?) use of Cheetos occurred when a woman threw some Cheetos on the ground at the feet of another woman. The intended - and successful - effect of the action was that a flock of horrifying pigeons attacked the woman at whose feet the Cheetos had been thrown, so eager were they to devour the Cheetos that were lying there unappetizingly on the dirty ground. It struck me as a strange use for Cheetos in a commercial advertising Cheetos! But there is much about our strange modern world that I do not comprehend.

The Unbearable Rapidity of Bubbles

I'm drinking some "sparkling" water with so many rapidly rising bubbles that the glass sounds like a distant bell ringing. Or maybe I've acquired "super hearing." Or maybe there's a distant bell ringing.

All the Giraffes You Want

Did you know that Jason Polan will draw however many giraffes you want? It's true!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up

Welcome once again to All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up. Edgar-winning novelist Megan Abbott and I were just talking about how nobody has heard of anything anymore - not even normal things of which everyone should have heard already. My undergraduates, for example, have not heard of Donald Sutherland. Well, one has. She explained to the others, "He's the old lawyer in A TIME TO KILL." (!) This prompted Megan's memory of seeing Donald Sutherland at the Whitney Museum about two years ago. "He was wearing a black cape!" she reported (exclamation point hers, and quite appropriate). "It probably wasn't actually a cape," Megan went on - wishing to be accurate, no doubt, but disappointing me a little nonetheless. At the very least, she said, it was "a very dramatic black coat that streaked behind him as he stalked the galleries." And "his hair flowed whitely too," she added. This has been your All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up. See you again soon. In the meantime, keep "reaching" for the "stars"!

Jason Polan's Chimpanzee

The article I have in the new BELIEVER magazine is called "The Fifty Greatest Things That Just Popped Into My Head." Readers of the "blog" may be disappointed and upset, given the clearly stated interests in the "blog's" subhead, that there is no Jerry Lewis on the list. There is no oatmeal. There is no UFO. There is, however, a monkey, which should come as a relief. SPOILER ALERT! Chimpanzee comes in at #28 of the things popping into my head. I realize - AND DO NOT CARE - that a "chimpanzee" is not a "monkey." Number four on the list is "unicorn." WHY? I am sick and need help. The illustrations accompanying the piece are just wonderful. They were done by a young man named Jason Polan. Here is the chimpanzee he drew. "Click" here for his "web" site or here for his "blog."

A Cake With a Picture of a Cake On It Will Blow Your Mind When You Think About It

Rhea, a nice young woman who always comes to my library readings in New Orleans, has noted the "blog's" frequent references to unicorns. And she has sent a "link" to a "blog" about cakes, because on this other "blog" there is both a picture of a cake with a unicorn on it (above) AND a picture of a cake that has a picture of the cake with the unicorn on it on it (below). You know how you can go to a bakery now and with their modern technology they will put any photograph you like, in edible icing, on your cake? Well, this time someone wanted a photograph of a cake on a cake. So just imagine if someone wants a photograph of the cake with a photograph of a cake on it on his or her cake, and then someone wants THAT photograph of a photograph of a photograph on a cake on HIS OR HER cake, and so on, into infinity. THINK ABOUT IT! One thing this has taught me: we "blog" about unicorns too much. Maybe it gives the wrong impression - namely, the impression that we wish to "blog" about unicorns. Though I do still wonder if the person from a previous "post" ever found out what to call a horse with wings AND a horn. And also, isn't today's unicorn confined to rather cramped quarters? It bothers me. A unicorn wants to run free! That's my interpretation of the inner life and desires of unicorns.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dig This Heavy Bruise

Don't believe McNeil had surgery and is forced to sit intermittently in a special chair? Don't believe in McNeil, period? Dig this bruise and tell me how you feel. Heavy. I have made the picture as small as possible out of consideration for the fainthearted. You're welcome, fainthearted!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Hard to Paint Honey, Declares OBIL

Like McNeil, "Blog" Fan (!!!???!!!) James Sepsey is drawn mostly to the rainbow in the picture of the rainbow-expectorating chicken thing riding on the back of a unicorn to which the OBIL alluded earlier in the day. Sepsey traces the RECTROTBOAU to a passage in the Hawthorne short story "The Celestial Railroad," from which he quotes as follows: "The inhabitants of the cavern, moreover, were unlovely personages, dark, smoke-begrimed, generally deformed, with misshapen feet, and a glow of dusky redness in their eyes; as if their hearts had caught fire, and were blazing out of the upper windows." Sepsey goes on: "Probably the part that’s been left out of most modern editions of the story is a line that goes, 'Plus, friends, I kid you not when I say they were puking rainbows right into the sky!'" The OBIL also adds to his previous statement, rainbow-wise: "The gamecock is clearly a motivational speaker whose oratorical prowess is rendered as rainbows. In Arabic, when someone speaks well 'his mouth drips honey' [there is a similar saying in English - ed.] but this use is an equivalent - it's hard to paint honey." (Pictured, Hawthorne, looking a little "smoke-begrimed" himself.)

Most But Not All of the Necessary Asterisks

"I see a ******* ******** awesome rainbow, dude," McNeil answers, supplying most but not all of the asterisks necessary to mask his expletives. And we know how McNeil feels about rainbows. He tries to act tough, but we know!

The Case of the Questionable Basilisk

"I'm wondering about the holiday unicorn," writes my brother-in-law. Not the NBIL. Another one. I guess we'll call him the OBIL, for old brother-in-law (as opposed to the N for "new" in the NBIL's designation) or other brother-in-law. There is a third brother-in-law to take into consideration, but I'm just one man! So for now, we'll call this brother in law the OBIL. To begin again, the OBIL writes, "I'm wondering about the holiday unicorn. The one with the questionable basilisk. The 'basilisk' wears a mean-looking spur. So mean in fact methinks it a razor that they make gamecocks wear. That and I think this 'basilisk' is addressing a multitude as stylized by tilted little ovals, which explains the fearful look of the main unicorn as it has stage fright. The 'basilisk' is talking with his hands, too. It could mean he doesn't know what he's talking about, he's of [here the OBIL makes a reference to his own Egyptian background... Fascinating! - Dr. Freud] origin, or he's performing a magic trick. Then there's the mysterious other unicorn. I believe him to be a bodyguard as denoted by his threatening posture, horn pointed at the crowd and all." We repeat the unicorn picture in question for your convenience. What do YOU see in the unicorn picture? Send your answers to "Unicorn" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655. Our team of unicorn iconography experts will psychoanalyze you up real good!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Son and Daughter of "Blog"

Son of "Blog" Buddy John T. Edge. Daughter of "Blog" Buddy Tom Franklin. Scene from famous movie. Observe.

McNeil's Thoughts I've Been A-Thinkin'

Welcome to a brand new edition of McNeil's Thought's I've Been A-Thinkin'. "I should eat better," says McNeil. "Like smoked gouda and apple slices."

Real-Life Chairs of the "Blog" Buddies

"This is the chair I was sitting in when I discovered your 'blog' feature real-life chairs of the 'blog' buddies," writes "Blog" Buddy and Academy Award nominee Mark Osborne, who hangs out smiling with the Jonas Brothers. And thus he presents the third chair in our series of "Real-Life Chairs of the 'Blog' Buddies."

McNeil's Subconscious Made Manifest According to McNeil

McNeil has been getting up to some more shenanigans with his camera phone. "I thought you could use this on your 'blog,'" he says. When asked what it is, McNeil responds, "My subconscious." I blame the pain pills.

Totally a Goldfinch

"What you saw could totally be a goldfinch," writes the Dear Bird Correspondent. "That was the first thing I thought of, actually. But I don't think they make that sound. Maybe it was startled from the bush by your neighbor's machine gun."

The Bird Correspondent Responds

The bird correspondent responds to our recent query: "Lots of birds do a kind of grating, burring sound - I'd have to hear it to have any hope of telling one from another. (And probably see it.) I know you hate it when I say Carolina Wren - those are extremely loud and small. But brown, not greenish nor goldish. Sorry - and this is clearly too boring to post on your blog." Thanks for your concern, Dear Bird Correspondent, but as you can see, nothing is too boring to put on this "blog." (Pictured, an American Goldfinch. I looked at a representation of "Common Backyard Birds of Mississippi" and the American Goldfinch comes closest. Does it make that kind of noise, DBC? I mean, I'm pretty sure this is the guy. And just look at that facial expression! It's got "loud noise" written all over it.)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Oatmeal Tips

I was just standing, like, two feet away from Debra Winger. For real. Crazy! She seemed to be having a pleasant conversation with John Currence and I didn't interrupt. Standing on the other side of me was a graduate student who told me she had an oatmeal tip for the regular "blog" feature "Oatmeal Tips." I briefly stopped gawking at Debra Winger (who looked lovely) to listen to the oatmeal tip. Said the graduate student, "When I'm nauseated I eat a handful of dry oatmeal." I said, "You mean, like... dry?" And the graduate student replied, "I mean dry." Don't forget: we can't vouch for the efficacy of any of our oatmeal tips. We just pass them along. Want to pass along an oatmeal tip of your own? Send it to "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

Dear Bird Correspondent

Dear Bird Correspondent, I was entering the backyard when I heard a loud and persistent birdcall that sounded like a machine gun: CHUCKACHUCKACHUCKACHUCKACHUCK! I walked up to the bush from which the sound was emanating and I saw a VERY TINY LITTLE BIRD that one could hardly expect to make such a loud noise. But that's what it was doing! This extremely small bird was greenish and goldish. It was a rapid flyer but not especially skittish. What was this bird, dear bird correspondent, pray tell?

McNeil's Special Chair

McNeil had surgery the other day! I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to worry. Now he has to sit in this special chair. He's going to be okay, folks! With Phil's reading chair and now this, I believe we have started a new regular feature called "Real-Life Chairs of the 'Blog' Buddies." Are you a "Blog" Buddy? Then why not send a picture of your chair to "Chair" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Holiday Unicorn Series

Did you know that if you enter the words Caroline, brother, birthday, and unicorn into the "Google Image Search" a surprising number of matches comes back? It's true! And how do I know? Because today is my brother's birthday and Caroline Young's birthday, too, and that is reason enough to celebrate with another entry in our popular "Holiday Unicorn Series." Happy birthday, everybody! Happy birthday, unicorn! Happy birthday, world!

No Country For Old Men

And HERE is "Blog" Buddy Mark Osborne behind the scenes at the Golden Globes with the Jonas Brothers, who are apparently something you have supposedly heard of I guess if you are not a childless old man. "Blog" Exclusive!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Mark Osborne Is "Tall," Claims Popular Starlet

Hello from your "blog" Hollywood gossip factory foreman! According to our inside sources, everyone's favorite ingénue Amy Adams thinks "Blog" Buddy Mark Osborne is "very tall" - and told him so! - at the recent Academy Award luncheon. He was then asked to scooch down, though probably not in those words. I see that "scooch" is not in my dictionary. But that reminds me of something I read in ALPHABET JUICE by Roy Blount Jr. It's a story he got straight from Flannery O'Connor. That's right, he met her! Can you believe it? And she was talking about a man who had referred to a "scrooch owl." She asked him if he meant to say "screech owl." And he said (I will quote now from Mr. Blount's book): "“No, a scrooch owl. That's one of those little owls that land on the same limb as another bird and then scrooch over, and scrooch over, and scrooch him all the way off the end and grab him.”

Oatmeal Tips

Welcome once again to "Oatmeal Tips," by far our most useful regular feature. "Dear Oatmeal Tips," writes Phil Oppenheim, "You’ll be interested to know that I’ve found a recipe for our humble oatmeal that manages to neutralize virtually all of its nutritional benefits. [Horrors! - ed.] I think it looks like something I might be eating on my birthday..." Phil is missing the point of oatmeal, of course. But now may be a good time to mention that Phil's little boy likes to read and reread a kid's version of MOBY-DICK. He runs around the house shouting, "Call me Ishmael!" and giggling. Phil's son, I mean. Although it wouldn't surprise me to hear that Phil runs around the house giggling for some other reason. Phil's son also says things like, "Moby-Dick doesn't want to get caught!" He's like a li'l grad student, but expresses himself more clearly. And speaking of MOBY-DICK, I saw over on that there's a guy engaged in writing a different song about every chapter of MOBY-DICK. You can go to his "web" site and listen to all the songs about MOBY-DICK he has written so far! I like that I believe I will include it in my list of "friendly 'links'" over there to the side. Below, what Phil calls "oatmeal" - the beautiful yet dubious result of the recipe in question. On the other hand, can the man who introduced us to kasha really steer us wrong? We think not! Have oatmeal tips? Don't be shy! Send them to "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

McNeil Freezes Up

"There are too many things to click on. I freeze up." Such is McNeil's complaint about the "blog." It all came to light when he asked on the phone today, "Are those hard boiled eggs on top of that thing?" I had to explain that it wasn't the top of the thing, and I surmised correctly that McNeil had not bothered to "click" and see the end result of the cooking - a delectable log of meat snuggled ever so tightly in a blanket of woven bacon. "I guess I should put up a picture of the finished product for you," I said. McNeil agreed that this was what I should do.

For Unicorn Lovers Everywhere

I see that over on they have "posted" a "link" to someone who has painted (commissioned?) 16 pictures of Robocop riding a unicorn. Please go examine them all, buy a couple of prints, and tell 'em "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot sent you.


One of the cats is charged with an extraordinary amount of static electricity! Watch out!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Here There Be Monsters

I am sure you are wondering what I ate on Super Bowl Sunday. It wasn't oatmeal. I respect the feelings of vegans and ask any of them who may be offended not to scroll down, lest they blanch. Meat lovers may also wish to shield their faces, like Moses on Mt. Sinai. John Currence cooked it and the Lord proclaimed it good. You can read more about it on his "blog" and see what it looked like in all its many stages (an early one is represented below) before reaching its ultimate rapturous deliciousness.