Sunday, May 31, 2009
Welcome once again to "McNeil's Thoughts I've Been A-Thinkin'," where McNeil regales us with some of his homespun reflections. The latest: "Sliding glass doors have been around a long time. Since the 50s maybe. Think about it."
Saturday, May 30, 2009
You were never going to use that much fresh tarragon. Now it's just sitting in the refrigerator, getting older by the day. You were all, "Look at me! I'm fancy! I'm buying tarragon!" And then the interminable nights and days. This tarragon cannot be resuscitated. This tarragon has had it. What were you thinking? It's not the tarragon's fault. (See also, "The Ropy Bananas.")
Friday, May 29, 2009
Tom Franklin writes from Brazil to ask if I remember the TV shows DUSTY'S TRAIL, WHERE'S HUDDLES, and APPLE'S WAY. As Molly Bloom once observed, yes, yes, and yes. Heck, I've "BLOGGED" about APPLE'S WAY! Slow day in Brazil, I guess. Whereas things are really popping here.
So the Qatar Tribune has reprinted my review of WAVELAND but they added some twists of their own! Like, the review now starts, "Let me tell you..." which makes it sound as if I have a Bob Hope-ish delivery. That's not a bad thing to have, of course, but I was surprised.
Hey, look at this tape about frogs. It's a tape OF frogs, actually. Actually, you can listen to it here. I love this tape about frogs. Thanks to "Blog" Buddy Bill Boyle ("Ol' Quadruple B," I call him) for seeing my recent "post" about awesome frog noises and responding with this treasure trove. He found out about it when he went, in his words, "to a presentation on frogs of North Mississippi last week." (!)
Thursday, May 28, 2009
As a fan of Robert Walser and the classic Donald Duck books of the visionary Carl Barks, I was interested in an anonymous tip I received here at the "blog" - namely, that the author of a critical biography of Walser has an article about Donald Duck in the Wall Street Journal. It's a very good and enjoyable article, quite interesting on the subject of Donald Duck's main German translator ("Erika Fuchs, a free spirit in owlish glasses," as she is wonderfully described), but the Jerry Lewis reference is the kind I have been campaigning against. I hope it won't be rude in the face of such fine work on the writer's part - the article is very worthwhile! - if I once again point out that "the French love Jerry Lewis" is the most exhausted and meaningless of filler, not a clever thing to say, and somehow a favorite fallback of newspaper reporters everywhere. Sorry to harp on it! But as I've made it a cornerstone of the "blog," I am duty bound to mention it, even in conjunction with such a pleasurable piece of work.
My friend from Hubcap City and I were conversing via e-mail about the composer Harry Partch. The conversation culminated in this message from my friend: "i came across an old crushed piano on the side of the road. i kept thinking that that's just what i need, an old dead piano, something i can make an instrument out of like harry partch! but, i was on my bike, couldn't carry the piano home. no way. so, i snapped a picture."
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
You know, when I was "researching" all that GREEN ACRES stuff, I came across an old "post" in which Arnold the Pig and the absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco seemed to be looking at one another with similar facial expressions, thanks to my gift for illustrating my "posts" in a hilarious manner. However, I had acquired those pictures through "stealing bandwidth," which was a thing I used to do before I knew it had a name and was a bad thing to do. That got me to thinking about another "post" from long ago, featuring similarly stolen bandwidth and two fellows making funny faces. It was when I happened to write a little divertissement involving Red Skelton and Jeb Stuart Magruder. So here they are, together again, presented in the proper manner that is not stealing. When you "steal bandwidth" sometimes your pictures go away or are replaced by purposefully saucy substitutions to teach you a lesson for stealing. But now thanks to technology Red Skelton and Jeb Stuart Magruder will be with us forever. First Foster Brooks and Marty Allen, now Red Skelton and Jeb Stuart Magruder. Is there anything I won't do to pander to the youth market?
I know everyone has been wanting to hear more about the Foster Brooks robot, photographs of which I was the first and practically only person to place on the "internet" - and anyone else who has "posted" a photo of the Foster Brooks robot is using one of mine, not to brag or anything. Well, DJ Gnosis has been doing some digging. It seems that the Foster Brooks robot cost "$150,000, and took over 825 man-hours to build." And when it broke down, it WAS THROWN OUT WITH THE TRASH AND NEVER SEEN AGAIN. There is an interesting story about how DJ Gnosis wound up with this information, but I'm kind of tired. (Pictured, the real Foster Brooks. OR IS IT? It is. That's him on the left. The other guy is Marty Allen, of whom you've also never heard. And I guess that woman on the edge of the frame, the one you can see through, is some kind of ghost or something.)
Writes Laura Lippman in answer to our GREEN ACRES question: "Life just got really weird: I was going over a chapter I wrote for the current book, and there's a 'Green Acres' reference in it." As to the part about Craig Ferguson's apparent ignorance of GA, Ms. Lippman mentions two British writers of her acquaintance who are entirely and sadly unfamiliar with GILLIGAN'S ISLAND! She goes on, "What's weird is what is on air in England, even today. Hart to Hart! That Lee Majors show about the stunt man! It is unfathomable. An aside: I find the UK version of Deal or No Deal (the original) fascinating, yet I can't watch the U.S. one. Discuss."
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I happened to come to the Craig Ferguson program just as Dave Foley commenced an appearance and the first thing out of Dave Foley's mouth was a GREEN ACRES reference, which just goes to prove something we have noticed here at the "blog" before: Dave Foley enjoys GREEN ACRES. I also have an inkling that Laura Lippman, who (as faithful "blog" readers will recall) recently appeared on the Ferguson program her own self (and did a fantastic job), knows a thing or two about GREEN ACRES (though I will need confirmation) so I would like to advance a new theory, which is that everyone who goes on the Craig Ferguson program enjoys GREEN ACRES, even though Craig Ferguson obviously has no idea what it is. I think this is a good example of what they call "anecdotal evidence." Discuss.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Welcome once again to our semi-regular feature with a title that makes sense in context but I'm too tired to explain it right now. This is where McNeil tells all about his adventures in Charlotte, North Carolina. McNeil's latest dispatch follows: "I was feeling down so I went to the dollar store and bought one of those plastic silverware holders that fit into a kitchen drawer. The other one had some kind of white powder in the little slots where the spoons and knives should go. It was either salt or sugar, probably, but I didn't lick it to find out. I guess it made things, my outlook, a little better. More positive. It's good to be proactive. I read that in a magazine."
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Phil writes in outraged, taking me to task for what he so memorably calls "the merciless cropping of Squiggy" from the recent photo of Michael McKean presented here on the "internet." In my defense, I will say a few things. First, that's the way I found the picture on the "internet." And to conclude, my brother and I had the Lenny and the Squigtones record and listened to it so many times that I still clearly recall at least the whole first verse to "Love Theme from the Creature Without a Head." So no disrespect toward Squiggy was intended! According to Phil, his wife (and why must he drag her into this?) posits Lenny and the Squigtones as the ideological (as evidenced by the parodic misogyny to follow) forerunners of Spinal Tap, making my omission (Spinal Tap was the subject of the "post" in question) all the more egregious. Bonus etymology: Did you know that "egregious" was originally meant to describe something really good, and that over the years the usage became increasingly ironic, until the opposite meaning replaced the original one? It's true! I also feel sure that "The Merciless Cropping of Squiggy" was a Victorian novel by Anonymous.
It seems vital to the interests of the "blog" to report that in today's New York Times (in which I have a book review) the fellows from Spinal Tap are revealed to have a "favorite inside joke" at the expense of Larry King's Twitter account. Michael McKean (pictured) is credited with a particularly fine and hilarious imitation: "If there's a better invention than the pulley, I haven't heard of it." We mention this for two reasons: 1) The "blog" would like to establish itself as a pioneer in the field, having first drawn your attention to Larry King's Twitter account on May 4th. 2) It makes us think once again about how even the best approximations of certain kinds of oddball writing fail to match the weird power of the real thing. I can write tweeterings about pudding all I want, but Larry King will always have me beat in the non sequitur department, because he is like the Zen dude who's not shooting at the target to win a sack of gold, you know that dude. Go back and read your Chuang Tzu. Larry King is a living work of art! A famous line from THIS IS SPINAL TAP puts it best: "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever."
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Wow! For a guy with ambivalent feelings about my aesthetic hero Jerry, that Phil can really come through with the goods. Look at this amazing Jerry Lewis film festival he found - the organizers (Cinefamily, they're called) proclaim it "the first in LA ever!" (exclamation point theirs) It starts in just a few weeks! (exclamation point mine) Nine Jerry Lewis movies by my count, including that rarity CRACKING UP... which the program notes inform me was one of Jonathan Rosenbaum's top films of 1983. Please, my Californian friends, go! Go in my stead. And file copious reports. PS - I also like this properly audacious quotation from the program notes: "To enter the world of Jerry can be like entering the world of Joyce or Shakespeare." Cinefamily, you are my kind of people!
Hey, remember the time we talked about jackfruit? Of course you do! How could you forget? Thanks to our modern age of camera phones, the NBIL (who at this late date needs a new sobriquet) has sent me a picture of a whole bunch of jackfruit live from the Dekalb Farmer's Market.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Watching FUNNY BONES, spurred by Laura Lippman's example. You know what it has? Oliver Platt brandishing a golden cigarette holder. Brandishing it, I said! I know we have long ago given up our cigarette holder count here at the "blog," but come on. Oliver Platt with a golden cigarette holder. Certainly you can understand the exception. Platt!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Previous "blog"tropectives have covered such compelling subjects as sandwiches, the moon, movies, Phil Oppenheim, and Tom Franklin. Now we shall see how many of the "states" have been mentioned by name on the "blog." That's right, I have nothing better to do with my time. Sue me. Alabama---Alaska---Arizona---Arkansas---California---Colorado---Connecticut---Delaware---Florida---Georgia---Hawaii---Idaho---Illinois---Indiana---Iowa---Kansas---Kentucky---Louisiana---Maine---Maryland---Massachusetts---Michigan---Minnesota---Mississippi---Missouri---Montana---Nebraska---Nevada---New Hampshire---New Jersey---New Mexico---New York---North Carolina---North Dakota---Ohio---Oklahoma---Oregon---Pennsylvania---Rhode Island---South Carolina---South Dakota---Tennessee---Texas---Utah---Vermont---Virginia---Washington---West Virginia---Wisconsin---Wyoming.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
I haven't been paying close enough attention to Larry King's Twitter account, but McNeil has stepped in to take up the slack, employing as usual his analytical eye. Nothing gets past McNeil! "I don't believe he washes his own car," McNeil writes. "But I do believe he has no butt."
John T. Edge has a great article in today's New York Times about sriracha sauce, you know, the one with the rooster on the bottle. (Pictured, "Hot Stuff the Li'l Devil," whose comic books I was scared to read as a child because they were about the devil, but I did. In honor of John T., I have pictured him cooking hot dogs.)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Hey, I saw a guy on TV tonight who was sad because he went to Princeton and it was just awful. And I was like, "Okay." But then he had to go and pick on James Joyce! He called James Joyce "unintelligible" and told the TV host that no one at Princeton understood James Joyce, not even the professors who taught him about James Joyce, and I found that kind of hard to believe, because I bet some of those professors studied James Joyce pretty hard and got some enjoyment out of the process and attempted to share it with their students but I don't know because I wasn't at Princeton. Back then I was a young person in Alabama just digging on some James Joyce in a non-academic way because I didn't know any better and it was fun. So that's my advice to you young kids who are influenced by what you hear on television: give old James Joyce a chance! Start off with "The Dead," that's a good one. And it's "intelligible," like most of everything else I read by James Joyce. Nobody's saying to crack open FINNEGANS WAKE, but can you blame a guy (James Joyce; some professor) for trying? I'm pretty sure James Joyce doesn't need me to take up for him, but whatever, this is a "blog." (Hey, look at this picture of James Joyce! He looks bummed out about what that guy said about him on television.)
"Here are some fruit and nut animals you might like," writes a person from the "internet." How did she know? Because she is absolutely right. On her own "blog" ("Handmade Librarian" by name) she shows a cow made of almonds, a bear made of raisins, and an elephant made of English walnuts. Feel free to "click" here if you don't believe me. It's fun to make new friends! Thanks, "internet"! (Pictured, President Taft and some other dudes at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, where Handmade Librarian's fruit and nut animals resided.)
Monday, May 18, 2009
Here's a recent tweetering from Larry King: "in baseball... why 4 balls and 3 strikes??" (Extra question mark his.) Stay tuned for more tweeterings from Larry King as they come in. To me they are like irresistible popcorn in word form and I trust you feel the same.
Time again for All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up. Let's get right to it. There's no time to waste with these hot items. ITEM: Manohla Dargis in today's New York Times, attending a Jerry Lewis press conference in Cannes. "Click" here for a full account. ITEM: Which "Blog" Buddy has been spotted on youtube dancing with a lampshade on her head? Here's a hint: It's Verdell.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Well, hi there! Miss me? Perhaps you are wondering why I have been "blogging" later than usual for lo these many weeks. Or perhaps you are not wondering. Perhaps you did not notice. Indeed I am certain that you did not. No matter! I will tell you anyway. I have started a new project and have gone back to my old "five page" plan of literary discipline, which sadly cuts into my "blogging" time, so vital to the health of the nation, if not the world. I have begun to seek a title for the new project; in fact I am soliciting titles (without revealing the content in question, because who says a title has to "go" with anything inside the book? Some old square says that, I guess). I suppose the leading submission so far in my titular sweepstakes is THE GREAT SCUR OF THE DISBUDDED UNICORN. That one came from the brother-in-law I sometimes refer to here as the OBIL to distinguish him from the other brothers-in-law. And it has "first volume in the bestselling fantasy series" written all over it. The OBIL explained that the other day he was talking to a goat farmer who told him about disbudding a goat, and how the disbudded goat might have a scur. Send YOUR title to "Writer" c/o Oxford, MS 38655. There are no prizes or rewards, save quiet satisfaction. And don't worry! They don't have to be super fancy like the OBIL's. Sometimes a simple title is best! As unicorns have been famously banned from the "blog" (see the UNICORN "link" above for details), here is a picture of a wyvern for you to enjoy.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Welcome again to "McNeil's Rest Stop Ramblings." As I have mentioned before, they are pretty short for "ramblings." For example, this picture of the "Frogtown Fair" came only with a caption stating "Frogtown Fair!" There was a second dispatch in which McNeil tersely claimed to have witnessed a heated "tetherball dispute" at the Frogtown Fair. This does not give me much to go on. A quick Google search indicated that the Frogtown Fair best represented on the "internet" takes place in Toledo, Ohio. I am certain that McNeil was not heading in that direction. Further investigation led me to believe that perhaps McNeil is attending the Frogtown Fair in New Canaan, Connecticut. Wherever he is, I am glad he is not at the Frogtown Fair in Toledo, where - according to a local news service - Mayor Finkbeiner caused a scandal last August by leaving his dog in the car during a visit to the Frogtown Fair.
Friday, May 15, 2009
McNeil has lived up to his promise to send us some "rest stop ramblings." He is "texting" them from his "phone" quicker than I can cut-and-paste them. I suppose they are too short to constitute actual "ramblings," but if I string them together they may represent at least one decent ramble. WARNING! Some of them are scatological in nature as I suppose is inevitable when the subject is rest stops. 1) "At a VA rest stop, all the bill changers had been removed from the drink machines - so they would only accept 5 quarters...." 2) "I made up a little ditty -- 'Carry me back to old Virgini, but 5 quarters you better gimme.'" 3) "At same rest stop a man went into a stall with 2 rolls of toilet paper. My 4 yr old son and i left quickly." 4) "A bird pooped on my face while i was eating a white creamy cheese @ the shore."
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Last night on his show, Stephen Colbert revealed that he is just as baffled by recent Cheetos commercials as I am. Why aren't we best friends, Stephen Colbert? Call me! For now I will comfort myself with this picture of me sitting next to Elvis Costello at dinner and pretending it is no big deal (belated photo credit to Joe York).
"What about McNeil's Rest Stop Ramblings for a blog feature?" writes McNeil. He's on a long automobile trip and has one of those fancy cell phones you can type messages on but so far has only typed out the title for his proposed feature, which is plenty.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Welcome once again to "McNeil's Thoughts I've Been A-Thinkin'," the regular column that allows me to do Google Image searches for someone looking thoughtful, and more importantly lets you know all the latest thoughts that McNeil has been a-thinkin'. Today McNeil drops us a line to say, "The Old Testament rules, dude!" Thank you for listening. These have been McNeil's thoughts he has been a-thinkin'.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Welcome once again to "Oatmeal Tips." Today's oatmeal tip comes from famous star Jack Black, quoted in a Chinese newspaper and requoted on this "web" site ("click" here) to which we were referred by "Blog" Buddy Mark Osborne, who directed Mr. Black in KUNG FU PANDA. If we may paraphrase Mr. Black's oatmeal tip, it would be to eat a second breakfast if you are still hungry after eating your primary breakfast consisting of oatmeal. Just because this is our second celebrity oatmeal tip in a row doesn't give you an excuse to be shy. Remember: the "Oatmeal Tips" feature was created by and for "the people"! So don't delay. Send your oatmeal tip to "Oatmeal Tips" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I found an interview in which the guy who plays Scotty calls his alien friend "a little oyster-faced guy" so perhaps the resemblance to an oyster was intentional. You know what's great about having a "blog"? You spend a lot of your time doing Google searches like "oysters + star trek." It's important!
Who should we run into at the movies but John Currence and Bess? We were sitting there getting ready for STAR TREK to begin when they walked in, so we ended up sitting together. John got especially excited when Scotty's alien sidekick came on the screen. "Hey! He looks like an oyster!" John cried out. And thereafter, whenever the alien sidekick reappeared, John would say approvingly, "It's Oystery!" John has oysters on the brain. They're the specialty of his new restaurant Snackbar. And it looks like Snackbar just got a new mascot. Say hello to Oystery, boys and girls.
I am happy to report that last night while I was eating raw oysters on a porch with John T. Edge and Blair Hobbs and some others, Blair spontaneously broke into a Jerry Lewis imitation WITH NO PRIOR PROMPTING FROM ME, not even a Jerry reference on my part. (You may recall that Blair finds Jerry handsome, as first reported on the "blog.") Of course, her Jerry impression caused me to shoot one back, yes, we were like unto a pair of songbirds calling to one another in the forest. In other Jerry-and-the-ladies news, Laura Lippman reports that her screening of FUNNY BONES yesterday was a big success. Be sure to watch the Craig Ferguson show on Thursday night, by the way... Laura will be a guest! Will she find a reason to mention Jerry? Most likely not. But a boy can dream.
Friday, May 08, 2009
I was watching this very scene (above) from INLAND EMPIRE last night - what with the blue window, the yellow curtain, the orange easy chair, the swampy shag carpet, and the walls the color of circus peanuts (below) - and thinking that Jerry Lewis's one true successor as a director is David Lynch, and not just in the furnishings department (there's also the career-long obsession of both men with doppelgangers - the splitting and gradual shifting of identities - and their shared tendency to aggressively distort and disrupt cinematic grammar, alienating segments of their audiences). By the way, would someone please get on the stick and tell David Lynch to cast Jerry Lewis in a movie? He would put the old pro to good use, I think.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
That's right! It's time once again for "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up" for the latest in entertainment news. First up, what respected novelist mentioned Jerry Lewis on a local Baltimore newscast yesterday? Laura Lippman, that's who! And do you like Elizabethan stagecraft? Then McNeil says ENDYMION by John Lyly is the mystical comedy for you. "It's short!" he raves. Last but not least, Phil asks us to burn all other films because our mutual friend Jeff Stafford has discovered the perfect one: SHIP OF MONSTERS. Now please enjoy the following clip of SHIP OF MONSTERS, courtesy of Phil. Goodbye from all of us here at "All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up." And until next time, keep "reaching" for the "stars"!
Look! It's John Currence accepting his James Beard award on a big pink screen! Allow me to rend in twain my pitiful veil of secrecy and tie all my recent "posts" together and say that Elvis Costello and I were pictured on John's back porch, celebrating his achievement. John had just returned to town with his impressive and heavy James Beard medal, which we all took turns wearing while eating a big delicious dinner. John said that if you win a James Beard award and then go to a restaurant, they may suddenly and without provocation give you a thirty-year-old bottle of wine that is as thick and chewy as paint and turns your teeth black and tastes amazing. Elvis Costello mentioned a startling personal fact about Porter Wagoner. I mumbled a lot and tried to hold it together. At the end of the evening I picked up Bess - who is married to John Currence - and carried her around the house for some reason and that is how we knew it was the end of the evening.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Don't freak out! Yes, that's my musical idol Elvis Costello and me, apparently just hanging out. I would like you to believe on the evidence of this picture that it is no big deal and happens all the time and I didn't feel faint and giddy. You will note that our table manners are appalling in the exact same way, which is vastly satisfying somehow. I can say no more because Theresa finds such self-aggrandizement and exploitation tacky. And she's right! But if you have a "blog," this is the kind of stuff that goes on it. The "blog" demands much! The "blog" consumes and destroys! "Blogs" are tacky! Get with the times! Print is dead! etc. I also have a picture from the same night (last night) in which Theresa looks like a ghost. She's semi-transparent for some reason! It's really cool but you'll never see it because that's how Theresa rolls.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Of course I have no secrets from you, people who read the "internet." But Theresa claims that some things are not meant to be bandied about in a cheap fashion. Now she tells me! So I'm not going to reveal this one thing that would BLOW YOUR MIND. I can guarantee it's not whatever you're thinking.
Monday, May 04, 2009
And now it is official that John T. Edge has been inducted into the "Who's Who of Food & Beverage In America." That makes two "Blog" Buddies big winners at the James Beard Awards tonight. Here is a picture of our hometown heroes John "Best Chef In the South" Currence and John T. Edge standing together at some point in time in front of what appears to be an oyster restaurant, which is unsurprising. I found it on the "internet."
Phil Oppenheim would like everyone to know that Larry King is "twittering." Based on this example of Mr. King's work I can only hope he doesn't steal my clothespin bit. It's golden, I tell you! "I'm sending you this 'live' from Preservation Hall," writes Phil. "Why?" Hey, Phil, that's a great question! Here's one for you: Why did I look through hundreds of photos of Larry King to find just the right one?
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Clothespins come in handy - sometimes when you least expect it. Every once in a while, there's a job best suited for a clothespin. It might be anything. And when such an occasion arises, you'll be glad you kept a few clothespins lying around just in case. Time has passed the clothespin by in so many ways, but it's still here for us. Let's hear it for the helpful clothespin! Steadfast, uncomplaining clothespin! Clothespin!
Friday, May 01, 2009
I have just double checked to make sure that this is public news, and it is. So get ready! Just a little over a week from today, "Blog" Buddy Laura Lippman will host the Jerry Lewis-Oliver Platt cinema extravaganza FUNNY BONES at a special Maryland Film Festival screening. This event brings together everything we love, including Laura Lippman, Jerry Lewis, and Oliver Platt. And the first scene in FUNNY BONES is a homage to McNeil's favorite scene from THE PATSY. Hey, they should remake that one with Oliver Platt and call it THE PLATTSY. In the meantime, what are you waiting for? Get your tickets! And tell 'em "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot sent you.
Reading and enjoying the novel ELROY NIGHTS by Frederick Barthelme. On page 52 of the paperback, there is a reference to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. As you know, I collect - though I do not actively seek - references to Jerry Lewis in fiction by serious artists. So far I have run across him in books by Jean Echenoz, Lynda Barry, and Lorrie Moore. And now Mr. Barthelme. I just know this is going to come in handy one day. I just know it!