Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Is Is

Our friend from Hubcap City mentions (apropos of James Purdy's "Whatever is, is wrong") that Donald Barthleme once observed, "Cursing what is is a splendid ground for a writer." (Pictured, Isis. Get it? "Whatever is, is wrong" - "Cursing what is is"... Is is? Isis? Get it? Maybe? No?)

Unused Charisma

Another one from the olden perfume store. Here is the catalog description: "An adorable little glass bottle of unused Charisma. The straw hat for the donkey is still in the package." I like the idea of unused charisma! And I believe I should stop here and not get too wrapped up in the olden perfume store.

Oxen Spark Memory, Lead to Discovery

All that talk about the mighty musk ox made me remember that back in the 1970s there was a popular cologne called "Musk" that had a little musk ox on the bottle. So I thought I would find the bottle on the "internet" and show it to you here at the "blog." But in the course of my search I found something more interesting, I think. Did you know you can order really old perfume from the "internet"? And that supposedly you can daub yourself with really old perfume and go out for a night on the town? I had never considered either possibility. Every day you show me something new, "internet." Or maybe I am the last to know. Here, for example, is a bottle of perfume from the 1940s you can order through the "internet." And according to the product description on the "web" site, and I quote, "Though the label is torn and stained and the cap is stained it still smells wonderful!" This is one of those things I cannot endorse - let me make that clear! - but here is the "web" site in case you need some really old perfume.

A Big Musk Ox Person

Jason Polan and I were conversing about yaks via the "internet," which culminated in Jason sending me the somewhat related picture above and the message below: "oh! did i tell you about the musk ox farm in alaska? there is a musk ox farm in palmer alaska that has musk ox slowly roaming around and it is pretty nice. the best part is if you become a member or sponsor a musk ox or something for $100 you get a signed certificate by alex trebek! he is a big musk ox person."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

McNeil's Rejection Challenge

"I got a rejection from [an online literary magazine] 1 hour and 50 min after I submitted it... and that was on a Saturday night!!!" writes McNeil with understandable exclamation points. "New levels of despair have been reached here at the McNeil/Lehman Bros/AIG Center," he continues. Yet all is not bleak. McNeil has chosen to consider his most recent rejection a world's record, and challenges any "blog" readers to beat it. "Click" here to read about some other of McNeil's rejections.

Dean and Jerry, Dean and Jerry

After complaining yesterday about the relative paucity of Jerry Lewis references in the New York Times as of late, especially when contrasted with the Golden Age of Jerry Lewis References a little while back, I woke to find that today's Sunday edition has obliged me with not one but TWO Jerry references - moreover, they are Dean and Jerry references. One is a passing mention in a travel section piece on Atlantic City. The other uses Dean and Jerry (by way of contrary example) to explain the congressional budgetary procedure known as "reconciliation." That's the spirit, New York Times! Spread some Jerry all over the paper. He's not just for the Arts page anymore! Over and out.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Move Over, Terpsichore!

Did I forget to read the New York Times last Sunday? It is the only way I could have missed these thoughts on Jerry from the choreographer Sally Silvers: "Ms. Silvers approaches choreography like an artist, drawing and smudging references to ballet, sports, Isadora Duncan and even Jerry Lewis. 'He is my idea of a white man that refused to assimilate into whiteness,' she said. 'Jerry represents the awkwardness of someone unable to figure out where his weight is, how to integrate all the parts and how to move as a sensual person.'" As far as I know, it's the Times's first Jerry reference in over a month. They were accumulating at a comfortable pace for a while, and I was happy. But do you notice in the above example how they stick that "even" in there to hint they don't take Jerry quite as seriously as Ms. Silvers does? I've got your back, Jerry!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Oatmeal Tips

I never thought this beautiful day would come. We are at this moment able to combine two of the "blog's" most important pillars - oatmeal and McNeil - with an unprecedented special edition of our popular regular feature "Oatmeal Tips." That's right, today's oatmeal tip comes from McNeil himself, who writes, "new kind of oatmeal...it's chopped, not rolled like the typical oatmeal I'm used to, so it kind of has the texture of small pine nuts. Cook it for a while, maybe 20-30 minutes. I put butter and sugar on it, just like I do the regular stuff. Then I eat it, just like I do the regular brand. It's hearty stuff. I hope you don't mind me speakin' plain here. Choose Country Choice Organic Irish Style Oats (Steel Cut) if you want a hearty breakfast that lowers your choloesterol and helps you speak plain talk to the people all at the same time." Be like McNeil! Send YOUR oatmeal tip to "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655. (Pictured, John Oates.)

Announcing the Mike Douglas Prize

The "blog" is proud to announce that Tom Franklin is the first recipient of the Mike Douglas Prize. This prestigious prize, which we just made up, goes to the person who contributes a new forgotten entertainer to the "blog" canon. We always think we have mentioned all the forgotten entertainers of our youth and then someone like Tom Franklin comes along and mentions Mike Douglas and "blogging" seems dewy with promise again.

Brazil With An S

Welcome to another report from Brasil. We are pleased to hear that while Tom Franklin is there he is thinking of Jerry Lewis! "Saw him once on Mike Douglas and when Jerry put a cig in his mouth and uncapped his Zippo-esque lighter the flame that shot out was huge, like four inches of flame. It got a big laugh, esp. as he crossed his eyes to light the cig," Tom writes, before moving on to matters Brasilian. "Yesterday had a lunch beer at the Brasilian equivalent of McDonald's, a place called Habib's, which has as its cartoon mascots Popeye, Olive Oyl [pictured] and Bluto. Food is good, hamburgers, Middle Eastern food & little pizzas to die for that are .49 centavos, abt 20 cents. They have actual waiters who wait on you, even if you sit there an hour, two, reading Gentlemen of the Road [by Michael Chabon] and ordering one chopp (draft beer, pronounced sho-pee) after another. And that's the best thing abt Habib's. They serve beer!" Tom also says that GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD is hilarious and great.

Detective In Stairwell

I forgot to tell you. The great uncle of one of my undergrads was in the movies. He came up with the idea for, cowrote, co-directed, and starred as the lead in a 1959 monster movie called THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON. I must say the undergrad seemed rather dismissive of THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON, though she brought it up unprompted. If MY great uncle had conceived, written, and directed something called THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON I would watch it over and over and talk about it all the time. By the way, I learn through the powers of the "internet" that this same great uncle appeared as "Detective In Stairwell" on an episode of "blog" fave KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER. And now, I give you - hear me! - NOT a clip, but the WHOLE movie. When the undergrad said I could watch it on youtube, she wasn't kidding. I give you THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Elaborate Medallion

I don't really use my office on campus. BUT SOMEBODY DOES. On those rare occasions requiring a visit, I unlock the door and always find some mysterious object left behind by my unknown office mate. Last time it was an individual-serving-sized foil pouch (unopened) of name-brand precooked salmon with dill. Today it was an elaborate medallion. The lettering says "I WILL SEND MY SPIRIT" and the image is that of a dove, I think, with a halo around its head. A dove would be obvious, given the Biblical bent of the elaborate medallion, but the "dove" is painted blue and may be a bluebird. (Below, something of minimum relevance.)

Cinder Block, Alas

I so much want the groundhog to come back to the neighbor's yard that today I thought I saw it twice but I did not. Once it was a cinder block. Another time it was a clump of dirt. I won't give up on you, groundhog!

The Lewis-Lohan Nexus

Jerry Lewis and Lindsay Lohan are alike, as Mr. Guilfoile's poetic rendering of Ms. Lohan's press quotations (see the previous "post") convinces me. If you care to "click" through and read it (here are some relevant lines: "But all the sicko fans/ And the noise is so distracting") you will see the uncanny resemblance (in subject and tone) between it and Jerry's improvised monologue from THE KING OF COMEDY, part of which I present here in the form of a lovely poem for reasons of symmetry: "I'm just a human being with all of the foibles/ all of the traps/ the show, the pressure/ the groupies, the autograph hounds/ the crew, the incompetence/ those behind the scenes you think are your friends/ and you're not too sure/ if you're gonna be there tomorrow/ because of their incompetence."

Anthology Proposal

Have you been keeping up with the Tournament of Books this year, over there on the Morning News "web" site? If so, you know they have two commentators in the broadcast booth. One of them is "blog" acquaintance John Warner and the other is his friend Kevin Guilfoile. In today's commentary, Mr. Guilfoile introduces some line breaks into a Lindsay Lohan quotation, producing a form of poetry he calls "LiLo Ku." As you know, I have in the past turned some "I don't wear eyeliner" comments by the guy who plays Richard on LOST into a poem, inspired as I was by the ambitious and visionary academic who did the same for Jerry Lewis. I believe we're working our way up to an anthology.

Alan Arcane

As a vital young person of the 1970s, people would not think you were crazy if you went around telling them that your favorite actors were Elliott Gould and Alan Arkin. In fact, people might think you were crazy if you DIDN'T tell them Elliott Gould and Alan Arkin were your favorite actors. Now, of course, nobody knows about anything, which is a point that I - like most old men - never tire of making. And I still have a place in my heart for Alan Arkin and Elliott Gould. Thanks to "She Blogged By Night" I know that today is Alan Arkin's birthday, and that there is an extensive fan site devoted to Mr. Arkin right here on the "internet." It is much nicer than the Edgar Kennedy site, as well it should be - nothing against Edgar Kennedy. Why not spend Alan Arkin's birthday reading about Alan Arkin on the "internet"? You have done worse things.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Groundhog In the Dark

Second day, no sign of the groundhog. Where is it? I guess it's somewhere out there in the dark. Godspeed, groundhog. Please imagine that the following song is entitled "Groundhog In the Dark" and maybe you will understand how I feel.

Special Robot Friend

I realize that Battlestar Galactica is all over, but Theresa and I have just started watching it, thanks to evangelical prodding from the likes of Dr. "M." and Kent Osborne. As mentioned recently, there is nothing new on the "internet," ever, so I'm sure someone else has already noticed the many similarities of the Battlestar Galactica character Dr. Gaius (sp?) Baltar (sp?) to the character Dr. Smith from the TV show LOST IN SPACE. First, they are both doctors. Second, they both have affected accents. Third, they have special robot friends. Fourth, their motives are shady and sneaky. I mentioned all this to "Blog" Buddy Kimb, who promptly drew my attention to this photograph of Dr. Smith's robot friend giving him a shower - a photo which only serves to fortify my apt comparison, and you people who watched the show know just what I'm talking about. Incidentally, we saw an episode last night with a plot lifted from RED DAWN, which I am sure made Dr. "M." very happy upon its original airing. Finally, I will mention that Kimb and Kent and Mr. Ward and (I believe) Mark and I all met Jonathan Harris (who played Dr. Smith) once. But that's another story, like my secondhand knowledge of Carol Channing's all-buffalo diet and its unfortunate effects on her system.

Hilarious Incident of the Sock

I thought I had lost one of my socks. Turns out I was sitting on it! We had quite a laugh about that, the sock and I.

Conciliatory, Maybe

Hey, remember when James Purdy said "Whatever is, is wrong" and Kafka said that other, equally helpless but seemingly oppositional thing? Well, here is Bruno Schulz from SANATORIUM UNDER THE SIGN OF THE HOURGLASS, striking, maybe, a note of hope - being conciliatory, maybe: "There are things that cannot ever occur with any precision. They are too big and too magnificent to be contained in mere facts. They are merely trying to occur, they are checking whether the ground of reality can carry them." Okay, Bruno Schulz! (Illustration: a Schulz self-portrait.)


1) See if the mail has come yet. 2) See if the groundhog is out. 3) Call McNeil to finish yesterday's conversation about squirrel brains. 4) A shower, maybe.

Ecclesiastes, Sandwiches

Once again I must thank therumpus.net for a most pleasant diversion. Now, I arrogantly believed I had contributed a little something to the "blog" literature - or "bliterature" as we like to call it - on sandwiches. I have been proven wrong. A "link" on therumpus.net led me to a sandwich "web" site called "Unbreaded" (which, come to think of it, is a weird name for a "blog" about sandwiches), and in particular a "post" in which the question "Is a burrito a sandwich?" is considered. To be even more particular, I was drawn to the vigorous comments section, where some people go so far as to claim that hamburgers and hot dogs are not sandwiches (!) and that pizza is an "open-faced sandwich" (!!). The gentleman who makes the latter claim runs his own "web" site called "Simply Sandwiches," which he sees as the unacknowledged progenitor of "Unbreaded," pointing out a "post" of his from 2007 in which the exact nature of sandwiches is discussed. I take no sides. I merely point out what Solomon said about the "internet" in Ecclesiastes... that there is nothing new on it (except for the time I was the first person to put a photo of the Foster Brooks robot on the "internet" and the person who coined the phrase "C-Spandemonium" to describe the excitement of watching C-SPAN). But that doesn't mean that people are copying you! It just means there's not much to say about anything and the "internet" has given all of us so much room to say it. (Pictured, wise King Solomon.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Groundhog No Show

The groundhog did not show up today. Rather, we were not around to greet the groundhog properly. Maybe WE didn't show up today. It doesn't feel right. Eight days in a row with groundhog. One day without groundhog. Days with groundhog are preferable. Sorry to be the one to tell you.

Verdell's Magic Golf Cart

Verdell drove Leonard Maltin around on a golf cart. No, it was not a dream. It was reality, people.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tales of Oxford

Greetings from Oxford. Here is what is going on around Oxford. Two "Blog" Buddies from Oxford have just been nominated for James Beard Awards. These awards are a big deal! Congratulations to "Blog" Buddies John Currence and John T. Edge. On to groundhog news. It turns out that a groundhog in your neighbor's backyard is no big deal in Oxford and Theresa and I were wrong to get excited and have fun watching the groundhog. Theresa's teaching assistant has a groundhog in his backyard. One of my writing students has a groundhog in her backyard, and her dog gets into little dust-ups with it. This is just like when the wild turkeys were nothing special and the deer were nothing special and nothing was special. But we still cling to the idea that our groundhog is special and an especially lovable and gigantic one. And yes, it made an appearance today in case you were concerned. Goodbye from Oxford! (Pictured, Currence's tattoo. One in our series of people's arms.)

I Thought of Barry B.

Last night I was up late watching TCM when I caught part of a short film, an early talkie in that weird, very old Technicolor (I think) that's all red and blue. The short is called "The Devil's Cabaret." It revolves around the devil's personal assistant "Howie Burns" and has some ballerinas dressed up like devils dancing around a large metallic insectile devil's head, and some flappers in skimpy costumes sliding down a long sliding board shaped like the devil's tongue and protruding from a more cartoonish devil's head. It reminded me of some other things we've mentioned on the "blog," such as the 1959 Mexican film SANTA CLAUS and Barry B.'s favorite movie THE FORBIDDEN ZONE but mostly it just reminded me of the weirdest thing I've ever seen, which it was, and I wished Barry B. was up watching it, wherever he might "B." "The Devil's Cabaret" is apparently the only thing ever not represented on youtube, but I did manage to find a couple of blurry stills.

Venerable Sluggo

It behooves me to note that yesterday's illustration was not the first appearance of the venerable character Sluggo on the "blog." Previously, there was this ("click" and see). Speaking of yesterday's "post," Tom Franklin and I had an interesting exchange about the spelling of its word "brooch." It sure is an odd one, "brooch" is. Wow, wouldn't you love to have been a fly on the wall during that conversation? Well, now you can, thanks to the existence of "blogging." (Side note: I "blog" so much that the "blogger" people once again suspect me of being an evil spam robot, which may slow down my "blogging" rate for a few days.) Anyway, I told Tom he should write a romance novel called HELL AT THE BROOCH. See, that's funny because his first novel was called HELL AT THE BREECH. Get it? That's just a small example of all the fun Tom and I tend to have, horsing around and such. (Side note: in an earlier version of this "post" I misspelled "breech" as "breach." Isn't life fascinating?) Breech, breach, broach and brooch. Those are funny words. Words are funny! By coincidence, that fish in the previous Sluggo illustration may be broaching! And I didn't even mean to do that. "Blogging" is "great"!

Rosenbaum and Brown

Brian Z. knows how much the "blog" loves Jonathan Rosenbaum. And he knows how the "blog" has recently been introduced to its new love Fredric Brown. So he was nice enough to send us a "post" about how much Jonathan Rosenbaum loves Fredric Brown. Thanks for the tip, Brian Z.!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Brazil With An S

Greetings from Brasil, where they spell it with an S. Our guide is Tom Franklin, who currently resides in Brasil, for a little segment we like to call "Brazil With An S." Take it away, Tom! Tom reports: "Today visiting a Brasilian farm I walked out along a cobblestone road and looked up. There wasn't one, weren't two, not three, four, five, six but like fifty giant spiders, all bigger than the biggest spider in Mississippi by quite a stretch. These things were like brooches with legs, some with leaves caught in their webs, some of which (the webs) were yellow with pollen. Beyond that were monkeys and on the ground were some rather large lizards, about the size of those rubber alligators we used to get as kids... Farm animals we saw were horses, cows, ducks, chickens, roosters and guinea hens. The latter are kept around because they catch scorpions, I was told." Then Tom ate in an unbelievably large kitchen. Like, bigger than a whole restaurant! See you next time! PS: The illustration has nothing to do with this "post." I was searching for an image of a scorpion and for some reason that only the "internet" knows it popped up and it's much nicer than a scorpion, isn't it?

Oatmeal Billboard Upsets Phil

Phil sent me a picture of an oatmeal billboard that he feels is too "hip." I know I put a lot of things in quotation marks on the "blog," but this time I really mean them. So maybe I should say """hip.""" Phil is afraid the admen responsible may be "ruining oatmeal." I know what Phil is driving at, I believe. It is that kind of """hip""" when the Burger King had a scary plastic face that didn't move and he didn't seem to care very much for the food he was hawking. Like, "We know you kids don't dig commercials, so here's something pretending not to be one." And of course you recall the weird Cheetos commercial with the pigeons to which we have drawn your attention in the past. I think I am on Phil's side. Oatmeal is not in need of a PR overhaul! I cannot speak for Burger King and Cheetos. Finally, I believe this picture is going to come out sideways and look maybe even extra """hip""" but only because I am an old man who does not fully grasp the uses of computers.

Literary Matters

Now it is time once again for those two most dreaded words in "blogdom" - "Literary Matters." I apologize in advance. Today we have but two literary matters and I think we can handle it. 1) SPOILER ALERT ahead! James Sepsey writes in - spurred by the Robert Walser book cover showing a monkey holding a straight razor - to remind me that the orangutan in "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" by Edgar Allan Poe uses a straight razor, too, first as it adorably pretends to shave and second as it less adorably kills some people. Sepsey also claims that Poe got the idea for the murderous orangutan from a beloved real-life show biz ape named "Jocko!" (exclamation point original to the ape, claims Sepsey. I am not going to bother to "fact check" this or any other claim about "Jocko!" because the thought of "Jocko!" makes me happy and this is a "blog" and who really cares?) 2) Speaking of Robert Walser, our friend from Hubcap City reveals that he had always thought of Walser vaguely as some sort of Swiss Stephen Crane, and imagined downbeat stories of men in lederhosen lying around in opium dens, which did not appeal to him. The "blog" has changed his mind, he says. He wants to give Robert Walser a chance. He also wants to stress that he admires Stephen Crane for all that seamy MAGGIE: A GIRL OF THE STREETS stuff, though he wasn't overly eager to see the Swiss version. I'm paraphrasing.

Early Morning Groundhog

Our groundhog friend was out exceptionally early this morning. That's it, groundhog. Vary your routine. Keep 'em guessing. Heed my advice from yesterday, groundhog. The deluge is nearly upon us.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Trail of the Elusive Groundhog

Today the groundhog came closer to the house and in fact I discovered one of its hiding places. McNeil sensibly suggests that the "blog" is crying out for photos of the groundhog. But Theresa and I are the last two people in the United States without a camera phone or a digital camera or anything. So you will have to see the groundhog with your imagination. It troubles me that the students will be back from Spring Break in a day or two, not that they would harm the groundhog but they might upset it. Things have been pretty peaceful for the groundhog over this last week but soon the rowdies will be staggering through our yard making merry. Lay low, groundhog! Don't be scared! We're in the same boat, groundhog.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Watch Out! For Adorability, That Is!

We take a brief break from our ongoing groundhog coverage to bring you this news from the world of monkeys, one of our other favorite subjects. As you may recall, I have long been an advocate of just lazily "clicking" around from "link" to "link" until you find what you were looking for all your life. As far as I can tell, this may be the best thing about the "internet." So I was over on therumpus.net when I "clicked" on a "link" that led me to another "link" and so on and so forth until I came face to face with this monkey adorably brandishing the most cunning little straight razor. You will note that the cover featuring said monkey is for a book by Robert Walser, a writer whose brilliance I have extolled on this very "blog." Another coincidence is this: Theresa and I once watched and much enjoyed a George A. Romero horror movie called MONKEY SHINES, which features just such a little fellow wielding a similar instrument with a dexterity that perhaps should not surprise us. Monkeys are dexterous!

Spoke Too Soon

There it is, folks. I would say "like clockwork" but that's the thing. The groundhog no longer shows up "like clockwork." Just shows up whenever it feels like it. It's eating again. It likes to eat. Clover, maybe. Something green. Greenery. I'm not a scientist! But I'm thinking of switching the format of the "blog" to all groundhog all the time, the way an old radio station used to switch from easy listening to light rock or whatever.

Late for Groundhog

Sorry, groundhog fans! May have missed the groundhog today. We were out. But he or she was spotted twice yesterday, so our average is still holding up.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chilling Out Groundhog

Groundhog's back. Twice in one day. Rare second appearance. This time it's just chilling out.

Explore Pendarvis?

One of my top secret Wisconsin sources tells me that it's a badger floating over the state seal of Wisconsin, not a cat as previously assumed. It's a tribute, says she, to "the immigrant lead miners who couldn't head home for the winter [and] dug into the hills and bluffs, burrowing into the earth like the [badger] that prowled Wisconsin." She also says there is an old lead-mining town named Pendarvis in Wisconsin, and supplies a corroborative "web" site, complete with its troubling exhortations to "Explore Pendarvis" and "Shop at the Pendarvis Store." If you DO decide to "explore Pendarvis" be sure and tell 'em "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot sent you. Because she really did. She's the one who told me about the town of Pendarvis. (This reminds me. Someone once sent my mother - who is interested in "family history" - a coffee mug with a picture of the "Pendarvis House" on it. So I sort of knew something vague about this already but I guess I forgot it.)

Cold Beautiful Milk

Look at this great picture from the "blog" of John Currence. His "post" is about an Amish dairy where there is "no attendant, no camera, no security guard." The prices are listed and you are trusted to leave the correct amount for whatever you take. My grandfather had a vegetable stand that ran on the same principle. Someone asked him, "What if somebody takes food without paying?" My grandfather said, "They must need it." And what if they take the coffee can with the money in it? My grandfather said, "They must need it." But nobody ever took the money.


The guy who wrote this song (below) died the other day. His family wanted him to be a podiatrist and so he went to podiatry school and became one. But he decided he would rather write songs. And he was glad he did! Maybe you kids should think about that. Not that there's anything wrong with being a podiatrist! In fact, it could be argued that I need to consult one. Maybe your family wants you to be a songwriter but you'd rather be a podiatrist. That's okay, too!

A Kind of Psychic Impulse

Writes our friend from Hubcap City, "After hearing of the death of James Purdy, I was led to your blog by 'a kind of psychic impulse,' an impulse very similar to the one that led Purdy to send his unpublished manuscript to Edith Sitwell. Your Purdy coverage was most helpful. I followed your link to the rumpus, and read the essay there. I’d forgotten about the 'shocking and painful scene of ******** **************' in Eustace Chisholm and the Works."

Your Daily Groundhog Journal

Ladies and gentlemen, we have groundhog - over two hours ahead of schedule.

Give Me This One

Last night I dreamed I was having tea with Marx Brothers straight woman Margaret Dumont. We exchanged mild pleasantries and that was the whole dream. I know people don't like to hear other people's dreams, but come on! You have to give me this one.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ominously Bubbling Vat

Re: THE BIG MOUTH, produced and directed by Jerry Lewis. Remember when I said I thought I remembered being terrified by it as a kid, in particular a scene in which a bad guy drops someone into an ominously bubbling vat? Dear reader, I was correct. Correct to be afraid! Except it was plastic, not wax (as formerly speculated). Furthermore, the person who was given the murderous bath of molten plastic was none other than George Takei (pictured) of STAR TREK fame. Mr. Sulu! Nooooooooo! No wonder my young mind was so irrevocably scarred.

The Groundhog's New Trick

The groundhog was back. Today it stood on its hind legs. Thought you'd want to know.

All About Carpet

As I have mentioned many, many times before ("click" here and here and here for examples, and I know you will!) McNeil is an expert on carpet in the films of the 1960s, especially the films of Jerry Lewis. In my previous "post" I mentioned a green carpet with a red center. According to McNeil, Jerry does that a lot. McNeil says that in the lawyer's office in the Lewis film THE FAMILY JEWELS, for instance, the carpet changes color under the lawyer's desk. Just thought you ought to know! You're welcome!

Youthful and Hep

I received a message from one of the editors of Kitty Snacks. Said he: "I recently got the new Believer Film issue in the mail and there's a great DVD featuring crazy rare videos of Godard going around the USA. There's also a clip from the Dick Cavett show with Godard where he mentions Jerry Lewis. Check it out!" I am attaching a picture of the editors of Kitty Snacks so you can see how youthful and hep they are. The very idea that I have one of them writing emails about Jerry Lewis swells my heart with pride. I should also mention that I am an hour into THE BIG MOUTH (starring Jerry Lewis) and I laughed out loud when Jerry played tennis in slow motion, swinging at (and missing) several tennis balls in a row. Also, the bad guy's boat/hideout contains green carpet (with a shocking red center), orange curtains, and purple lampshades, and Jerry wears a parti-colored bathrobe in a few scenes, and the bright red L-shaped couch in his hotel room is dotted with turquoise and canary yellow pillows, all of which should make McNeil very happy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Purdy's Reply

Our lamented Mr. Purdy is being eulogized over on therumpus.net. He is quoted as follows: "Whatever is, is wrong." That made me think, "Wow!" What a bracing credo. It is sort of the opposite of Kafka saying, "Everything possible happens; only what happens is possible" and like so many opposites, it is sort of exactly the same. I'm too tired to sort it out right now. But I've given you kids a lot to think about!

Return of Groundhog

The groundhog came back today. Same spot. Eating the same greenery. I know you wanted to be informed.

Buddy Lester

Did you know that if you do a "Google Image Search" for Buddy Lester there are no decent images? It is true! And that fact makes it difficult to explain how accurate were my childhood fears of THE BIG MOUTH, in the first scene of which Buddy Lester and Charlie Callas wade to shore in skintight bright red rubber wetsuits and SHOOT JERRY LEWIS'S ALREADY DEAD DOPPELGANGER REPEATEDLY WITH A MACHINE GUN! AND ALREADY THERE IS BLOOD ON THE BACK OF THIS SECOND JERRY'S HEAD PLUS HE HAS BEEN ACCIDENTALLY JABBED IN THE NECK WITH A LARGE FISHHOOK BY THE "REAL" JERRY! The original effect of this scene on my tender young psyche came back to me with Proustian intensity yesterday, and I was sore afraid. That's all I've managed to watch so far. But I also seem to recall a part where someone is dipped into a vat of boiling wax or something, which has likewise stuck with me unpleasantly for lo these many years. Now I can no longer laugh at Tom Franklin for his famed and similar fear of Barbara Eden. (Because there are no decent still images of Mr. Lester on the "internet," I include his appearance in another Lewis movie, THE LADIES MAN, above. He was also very funny as the bartender in THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. Yet the "internet" will not have him! He is eschewed!)

Groundhog We Saw

Would you be interested in hearing about the enormous groundhog that Theresa and I saw yesterday? It was grazing in a neighbor's yard and it was enormous. Now you have heard about it. I hope you were interested!

Say Hello To Your New "Bloggy"

We are retiring that old bullfrog or whatever it is as "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot. Here is your new "Bloggy," who also happens to be one of our supporters from Wisconsin. So next time we say, "Tell 'em 'Bloggy' the 'Blog' Mascot sent you," you'll know just who we mean. Thanks, "Bloggy"!

Monday, March 16, 2009

McNeil, Briefly

McNeil called to talk about the good parts of THREE ON A COUCH. "Like the karate scene, when he tries to break the board," said McNeil. McNeil has decided he wants a job introducing Jerry Lewis movies on a cruise ship. This has been today's edition of "McNeil, Briefly." We thank you for your time and attention.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What Cooking Last Night Taught Me

There is an awfully thin line between "caramelized" and "burnt."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Frasier, Briefly

Welcome to the newest gem in our popular "Briefly" series. On the heels of "Arts, Briefly" and "McNeil, Briefly" comes "Frasier, Briefly," where we plan to talk about the TV show FRASIER, briefly, whenever the occasion arises. Ironically, our first "Frasier, Briefly" will not be brief, I think. That's the way we do it at the "blog"! We're like, "Who cares?" Today's "Frasier, Briefly" consists of two celebrity FRASIER assessments. First comes Kelly Hogan, the "blog's" appointed FRASIER expert, who has been recently called "a torch singer" by both the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times but they don't know what they're talking about because she's so much more. A FRASIER expert, for example. "It turns out that that's one episode that I've never seen," Hogan writes of our recent reflections on the episode in which the eponymous Frasier hires a butler, "and, relating to what you said about the implied needlessness/redundancy of dvr-ing Frasier, how is it possible that I've missed one? I don't rightly know. It's at this point that I must confess (as I have to only a few close, trusted associates... and now all of your 'blogdom') that I am currently working my way through ALL seasons of Frasier from Netflix, and just finished season 7 where Daphne leaves Donnie at the altar and jumps in the camper with Niles at her wedding. I watched this episode a few weeks ago, on tour and in Amsterdam for the first time ever, in bed in a hotel room, with all of Amsterdam outside at my disposal, but too tired to even move - much less go looking for Dutch trouble. Anyhow - in looking for info about the 'butler' episode of Frasier, I found an 'all things Frasier' website that made me feel a little better about my chronological Frasier Netflix obsession." (Here Hogan provides a "link" to an episode summary from the site in question.) "Yes, it's from season 8," she continues, "which explains why I haven't seen it yet. But it's only four episodes away! ...and yes I cried that night in Amsterdam when Daphne and Niles finally made out..." [note: Hogan goes on to give a list of reasons why she might have been unduly emotional that evening and asks us to cut her some slack on that account. But those reasons are none of your business! The "blog" has its limits after all. - ed.] Thanks, Hogan! Next up, the official word on novelist Tom Franklin's "fave" FRASIER episode, straight from novelist Tom Franklin himself: "My favorite Frasier," writes Tom, "is when Sam Malone from Cheers visits and both Daphne and Roz are all gaga over Sam. See, we forgot Sam's sex appeal in the later Cheerses when the writers made him a parody of himself, but when we see how he's viewed outside Cheers - where even Carla began to mock him - well, we see he was one of TV's great characters. God Bless Sam Malone," Tom concludes patriotically. I don't know. It struck me as patriotic.

My Hasty Scrolls

After boasting about breaking the proud news of John T. Edge's new regular column in the New York Times, I somehow missed the very first installment! It was printed on Wednesday, and I guess I scrolled right past it. That's right, I read the newspaper online. When it comes to the death of the American newspaper, I am part of the problem, not part of the solution! And now I begin to get my comeuppance. Who knows what else I have missed as I scroll so hastily down long lists of headlines? "Click" here to read something more interesting to contemplate: John T.'s column.

Oh No! James Purdy

Well, James Purdy has passed away, I am sorry to be the one to tell you. Here's an obituary. Now the student I encouraged to jump into her car and drive to Brooklyn to meet him will not have the chance. So think about that, everybody!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Breaking News: Poet Considers Jerry Lewis Handsome

I just saw the poet Blair Hobbs and she asked me if I had seen the Oscars. I said yes. "Jerry Lewis is handsome now!" she enthused. "He has always been handsome," I explained.

In a Rumpus Place

Hey! Over on therumpus.net they have me saying a few words about the novel IN A LONELY PLACE by Dorothy B. Hughes. As I have mentioned before, there is always a lot of happening stuff and action-packed fun over on therumpus.net, or such has been my experience. Check it out! (Pictured, Gloria Grahame, who was so great in the movie version of IN A LONELY PLACE. She's great in every movie! As I mention on therumpus.net, the movie and the book are NOTHING alike but somehow they're both really, really good.)

What's Wrong

I think there's something wrong with me. Last night I was getting sleepy and couldn't stay up to watch my usual FRASIER reruns. According to the capsule description provided by the satellite company, the first one was about the high jinks that ensue when "Frasier hires a butler who spoils everyone." Well, how could I miss that? So I recorded it with my handy dvr! And in the cold morning light I had to ask myself if it is really necessary to dvr a FRASIER rerun. They come on all the time! Has excessive convenience corrupted my soul? This is a question I had. And also, why was I so eager to see the one (which I can't recall seeing before though surely I have) in which "Frasier hires a butler who spoils everyone"? The temporary butler, obtained under amusing circumstances, is a sitcom staple. I remember when Andy Griffith hired a butler, who was played by the same guy who played Dr. Bombay on BEWITCHED (Bernard Fox, pictured, whose name I perhaps sadly had at my fingertips and did not even need to look up). A butler in Mayberry! And when Jerry and George pitched a sitcom-within-a-sitcom on SEINFELD, it involved a butler as I recall. But yes, there's something wrong with me, I think. I am going to send this "post" to our "blog's" FRASIER expert, Kelly Hogan, for analysis. PS: Allow me to mention that if you "click" on the name "Dr. Bombay" above, you will be delighted to find that the "link" has an audio component of the particular type treasured by McNeil.


I like the Shakespeare on the right. The one on the left is the one everybody is talking about these days. In the NEW YORKER magazine, Adam Gopnik puts forward the idea that maybe everyone should be talking about the portrait on the right instead. It was found in Canada. In it, says Gopnik, Shakespeare looks "like Dylan on the cover of 'New Morning,' a shaggy guy with a wry smile." I found a "link" to the article where I find all good things: Maud Newton's "web" site. You know, you should really just skip me and go straight there every day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Explaining Kent's Cartoon

Here I am explaining Kent's cartoon, as previously noted.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Brazil With An S

Welcome back to "Brazil With An S," our series of reports from Tom Franklin on his life in Brasil, where they spell it with an S. Today Tom writes in to let us know, "in hot Brasil, I sometimes do email SHIRTLESS!!!!!" The caps and multiple exclamation points are Tom's, and so unlike him that I am forced to conclude that Brasil has changed him in many invigorating ways.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You Can Count On Maud Newton

You can count on Maud Newton! Here she reproduces a note written by Edgar Allan Poe. He is sorry about all those mint juleps he drank and how he carried on.