Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Start Baking a Cake, California

Hi, California! I love you and am coming back to you in November. My new book supposedly "drops" in August, but who knows with all the craziness that goes on in the world these days what with the economy and all the various troubles and so on? So I am coming to see you in November, just to be safe. That's November 12 at the renowned, historical and awesome City Lights in San Francisco and November 14 at my beloved Skylight Books in Los Angeles's famed Silver Lake area. Okay, get ready, because I am only telling you once. Ha ha ha! Just kidding. I will probably tell you every day between now and November.

Your Jerry Roundup

Let's see what's going on with Jerry Lewis today. Last night Brian Z. reported (and it has been confirmed today by the New York Times in their "Arts, Briefly" section - not to be confused with our "Arts, Briefly" section - where I read yesterday [in the former] about the "pyrotechnics bursting from" Lady Gaga's costume) that Jerry Lewis is going to Broadway, to direct a musical version of THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. His collaborator is Marvin Hamlisch, a person I once frightened on an elevator. In other Jerry news, the month-long Cinefamily film festival has come to an end. But according to the Cinefamily twitter account, they are on the trail of some lustrous prints of THREE ON A COUCH and THE BIG MOUTH. Yes, they are going to keep the Jerry party rolling if at all possible. Surely Cinefamily is the greatest movie theater in the world. (Pictured, Lady Gaga - I still don't know who she is - looking like she stepped out of a Frank Tashlin movie; Jerry; Marvin Hamlisch.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Squonk Informant

My squonk informant (we'll call her "Informant J2") tells me that the entire text of FEARSOME CREATURES OF THE LUMBERWOODS by William T. Cox is available on the "internet," much like THE COMPLETE BOOK OF CHEESE by Bob Brown. The former is where she gleaned her squonk information, and there are some hodags in there as well. I have leafed through the electronic pages and must say that I part ways with Mr. Cox on the subject of leprechauns. If I am reading him correctly, he is saying that leprechauns were jolly and prone to innocent frolicking in the old country and turned surly when they moved to Canada. If I may quote, "Teamsters toting supplies across swamp roads have been attacked by the animal, which would bound clear over the load, snapping its teeth at the driver and reaching for him with its villainous claws." But in my readings the "little people" were never that nice to begin with. For example, THE SECRET COMMONWEALTH, a book of folklore compiled in the late 1600s by Robert Kirk, contends that such "subterranean and for the most part invisible people" are "ever readiest to go on hurtful errands." According to Reverend Kirk's research, they also live in "continual sadness." (Pictured is "Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot, as always the exception that proves the rule.) In other monster news, our friend Sepsey writes in to say that there was recently a good monster story in THE NEW YORKER magazine.

McNeil Has a Point

Speaking of the New York Times, there was a guy in there the other day comparing Dean Martin to Brecht and Godard. "I thought I'd see that on the 'blog,'" McNeil said via phone earlier today. And you know, McNeil has a point.

What's In Today's New York Times?

In today's New York Times, we read about Werner Herzog's emotional involvement with a vain albino turkey. There is also the time a book made him so upset that he took it out and buried it. As a bonus, I found a pleasingly stiff phrase of the kind that delights me. It was a description of a performer named Lady Gaga (a hazy abstraction of whom I am far too old to have any substantial knowledge) "writhing atop a piano and pyrotechnics bursting from her costume."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Local Monster Squonk

As you know, the "blog" has accidentally become a repository of local monsters. See the hodag, the lizard man, and Spring-Heeled Jack. Now, thanks to tweetering, I must add the squonk to this list. The squonk - an awesome local monster of Pennsylvania - has been brought to my attention, incidentally, by the tweeterings of an intern from the Oxford American, but perhaps she is shy and I hesitate to splash her name across the "blog" without her permission. Says she, "Squonks are ugly little creatures that cry all the time and dissolve into bubbles when frightened or cornered." I know just how they feel. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the squonk. (Photo from a play called GREGOR AND THE SQUONK. Isn't the "internet" the greatest place ever? Who's with me?)

Belt Watch '09: A Lost Cause?

Reports coming in off the wire confirm that Verdell's belt is still missing. You were supposed to find it! The "blog" was the catalyst. The "blog" was going to make everything all better. Please don't make me lose my faith in the power of the "blog." (Pictured, "blog" "fave" Timothy Spall holding a belt for some reason.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

In All Fairness

With all the wonderfully sincere Beach Boys covers I show you here, it is only fair that I show myself singing a Bad Company cover in the bad company of Barry B. (drums), good Heather (guitar), Caroline Young (bongos and earnest echo vocals), and Craig "Sven" Gordon (bass)... known collectively as "The Li'l Flames." This is from the Mercury Lounge in New York City and I really mess up the last chorus quite obviously, foreshortening it by an entire phrase to the detriment of my stalwart bandmates (I've kept it under wraps for a long time for just that reason), so it serves me right, and anyway, that's the least of my problems as you will plainly see.

Buffered By Kittens and Pies

Buffered by kittens and pies from the sad news that prompted some compensatory, life-affirming dances to "Burn This Disco Out," we are free to return without compunction to the "blog's" true purpose: cataloguing every person who has ever covered a Beach Boys song on the "internet." Here is # 18, raw, unmixed, and spirited. Be sure to enjoy them all!

Breaking News: Phil Enjoys Pie

Here is a picture from Phil's house. As you can see, he has ordered and received a large number of Hubig's pies. This has been a breaking news alert. We now return you to regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Encroaching Gloom Dispelled by Kittens

Dr. "M." has sent a video ("click" here) of a kid giving verbal captions to pictures of cats. I see on the youtube that it has been viewed close to five million times, so maybe you have seen it. It is new to me. Thanks, Dr. "M."! In these gloomy days, you have given me a prescription for hilarity. Because you're a doctor. My favorite part is when there's a picture of some cats in and around some sort of wicker container (I think) and the kid shouts, "We are in Hawaii!"

Burn This Disco Out

Now all I want to do is "post" videos of people dancing to "Burn This Disco Out." Here's one where the guy obviously put in a lot of effort and I think it paid off. The main thing is that Michael Jackson made lots of great songs that people love to dance to. It's fun to watch people having fun dancing to Michael Jackson.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Frasier, Briefly

Welcome once again to "Frasier, Briefly." On tonight's episode, circumstances required Frasier to go to the shopping mall, a task he found tiresome as you can well imagine.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Spalling" Galling

Phil has encountered this sign in Atlanta: "Caution: Bridge Spalling." He writes to inquire, "Does that seem weirdly obscure to you? Even if one knew what 'spalling' was, what is one supposed to do about it? Not be there? You think it's deliberately obfuscatory, or am I being crazy paranoid again?" No, I'm with you, Phil. I am not ashamed to admit that I had to look up "spalling" in my dictionary, and only then concluded that the bridge in question is either being broken into chips with a hammer or just falling apart. Phil speculates: "I can imagine a court case in which someone got hit with a chunk of bridge, and the Govt representative testifying: 'What do you want from us? We told you it was spalling!'" Happily, however, this "post" gives me a chance to put up a picture of one of my favorite actors, Timothy Spall.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

LiterJerry Matters

Only a scant few days have past and it is already time for more LiterJerry Matters, which combine the boringness of "Literary Matters" with the excitement of Jerry Lewis. Word coming in from Brazil: Tom Franklin has included Jerry Lewis in the current draft of his new novel CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER. There will be the usual amount of editing, of course, but "blog" readers have my solemn vow that I will do everything in my power to ensure that Jerry appears in the final version.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Pants! The Pants!

"The pants! The pants! They were supposed to bring us together and now look at us!" A line I just happened to catch in SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS 2. I promise I wasn't really watching it, but what if I was?

The Committee Has Ruled

This may have a little more polish than some of the others in our famed continuing series, though it adheres to the "slightly sinister darkened family room" school of Beach Boys covers. The singer appears to be a professional musician who has been putting out some albums on his own dime but the committee has decided not to hold it against him.

Friday, June 19, 2009

16 in a Series

Just people I find singing and playing their favorite Beach Boys songs.

I Am Reminded of an Adventure

Hey! The fact that Dr. "M." lives close to the Lizard Man makes me think about the time I read a newspaper article about a place called Booger Bottom, where little red intelligent lights from a UFO had tormented some elderly people. And I was like, "Booger Bottom! Hey Theresa! Let's drive to Booger Bottom." And so we did. It was about an hour or an hour-and-a-half away from Atlanta (where we lived at the time), I think. As I recall, there wasn't much to see in Booger Bottom, but it was lonesome and creepy out there and you could easily imagine a UFO wanting to come down and torment some elderly people in the area. Anyway, it was dark and it started to rain really hard and we turned out to be lost and then we were like, "Wow! This was stupid."

Dr. "M." vs. The Lizard Man

Turns out Dr. "M." lives 20 minutes away from the Lizard Man! She says she's going to track him down. Bring your viola, Dr. "M." Lull him into submission with its dulcet tones.

We Have a Winner

As you know, part of my morning ritual is checking the New York Times for Jerry Lewis references. But today, unpaid "blog" intern Brian Z. beat me to it. As he reports, Manohla Dargis has written a review in which Jerry Lewis appears in the FIRST SENTENCE and Bob Hope in the FIRST PARAGRAPH! In the course of investigating Brian Z.'s claim, I was able to ascertain that other "blog" "faves" - namely Bing Crosby (pictured, with Hope), Mel Brooks, and Oliver Platt - are featured prominently as well. With this, I believe that Ms. Dargis has surpassed even Dave Kehr as the most faithful Jerry acolyte at the New York Times. I believe we will award her the crown and bring our long-running contest to a close. PS: THE BELIEVER magazine deserves some recognition here. As I mentioned yesterday (see the Jerry "link" above) Jerry Lewis received a passing mention in the current issue. As careful "blog" readers will no doubt recall, Jerry Lewis was also mentioned in the previous issue of the BELIEVER. Two issues in a row! And several years ago they published a long piece that ran over the course of two issues, an insightful analysis of Jerry's career by B. Kite. I don't think it has been reprinted in its entirety on the "internet," but it's work seeking out. In answer to your question, yes, this is what I do with my life.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chastised By Greil Marcus?

I hope I have not been chastised by Greil Marcus, a man I consider awesome. In the new issue of THE BELIEVER magazine, he notes disapprovingly that "People seem to be reviewing Neko Case's hair more than her music." Now, Mr. Marcus and I both had articles on Neko Case in the same issue of the Oxford American. In fact, they were nudged right up against one another. So he probably saw my article and I'm not paranoid, right? His was about her music and mine was not. In my piece, I joked about how rock journalists always write about Neko Case's hair. And yes, Greil Marcus, I myself wrote about her hair! But the way I did it was a parody of the way people write about her hair! I said "an orgy of exploding foxes" or words to that effect. So Greil Marcus and I are on the same side! But I am afraid he doesn't know it, which makes me sick with shame. But I feel that way most of the time, so it's okay. (Pictured, Neko Case's hair.)

LiterJerry Matters

Usually our regular feature "Literary Matters" is the most boring thing ever, because it involves the boring subject of literature. But today there are two advantages which make it more palatable. Number one: there is only one literary matter to discuss. Number two: it involves Jerry Lewis! Therefore, I can change the name of the feature to "LiterJerry Matters" and it goes from being terrible to being awesome. Let us get on to the matter at hand. In the current issue of THE BELIEVER magazine, we learn that Bret Easton Ellis once compared Jay McInerney to Jerry Lewis, and it made Jay McInerney upset. If Ellis meant it as an insult - which, in context, it appears that he did - then this little episode shows that neither one of them understands Jerry Lewis.

Meatballs With Teeth

Citing the TWILIGHT ZONE episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," in which a gremlin menaces William Shatner from the wing of a passenger jet, the OBIL (or "original brother-in-law") says, "Monsters appear to catch up with all sorts of vehicles. You can't outrun monsters, I think." He is referring of course to our recent catalog of monsters that run as fast as cars. The OBIL goes on to describe a TV movie called THE LANGOLIERS, which I have not seen. According to the OBIL - and I do not know whether this is a SPOILER, but consider yourself warned just in case - it features some "meatballs with teeth" who are "eating history" and eventually eat some airplanes as well. (Please note the accompanying poster. I believe the little fellow residing in the central O must be the eponymous meatball.)

Lizard Man Reflections

Speaking of the Lizard Man, noted comic book villain expert Justin Riley has confirmed my impressions of the updated costume of the Lizard (not to be confused with the Lizard Man), although I must admit that this purple vinyl duster he apparently used to wear is pretty fancy. Writes Riley: "The popped collar does seem to indicate that Dr. Connors [the Lizard's real name - ed.] has stepped up in the world. Also, the body-hugging black tee says 'I may be a villain, but I'm not giving up on the bar scene.'"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Goat Man, Cat Man, Wolf Man All Fast Runners, Say Experts

"In Virginia it was the Goat Man," writes Barry B., referring to our Lizard Man "post." "I remember some relatives telling me about someone driving their truck one night and he heard something out the window and turned to see a goat headed man running next to the truck looking in at him. I believe they said he was running very fast and keeping up with the truck. This was a long time ago..." It rings a bell, Barry B.! I recall tales of a cat man (tales of a cat man! Ha ha ha! Tales/tails, get it?) in - I believe - Coden, Alabama, who ran very fast and kept up with a car. A bartender at City Grocery, who used to pass through the area on his way to the beach every summer during his youth, brought up the subject of the Alabama cat man out of nowhere one night, to my amazement - the first I had heard of it since childhood. And Theresa has often told of a werewolf sort of creature that (who?) was a local legend when she lived in New Mexico. This creature, like the others, would run next to a car and look in the window. In the story Theresa heard, the monster was expressing displeasure at not being picked up as a hitchhiker. Remember, kids, NEVER pick up a werewolf hitchhiker! Maybe someone who is not me would be interested in tracing the origins of this seemingly universal idea of monsters who run really fast looking into the windows of cars.

Everybody's Monster

Now that the mighty hodag of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, has taken over for the retiring unicorn as the official monster of the "blog," everybody's local monster seems to be elbowing his or her way in for recognition. For example, a facebook friend named Pamela brings forth a certain Lizard Man of Newberry, South Carolina. According to wikipedia, he is "seven feet tall, bipedal, and well built," which makes me laugh and laugh for some reason. Curious about the Lizard Man of Newberry, I did some "googling" and found a site containing this intriguing passage: "my friend, North Carolina-based writer/researcher/fight choreographer/adventurer Patrick Green sent me an email discussing lunch plans we had made. Everything in the email seemed casual enough, save the following line..." I won't tell you the following line! You have to "click" for yourself. But it concerns the Lizard Man. (Pictured, the Lizard - not to be confused with the Lizard Man - who used to tussle with Spider-Man and still does, for all I know. His jacket looks a lot nicer than I remember. I believe it used to be a fairly plain lab coat in my day.) PS: Don't worry, hodag! You are still number one with me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How I Found Out My Brother Has Started Wearing Glasses

Here is how I found out my brother has started wearing glasses: from this photograph of my brother with MC Hammer, in which my brother is wearing glasses. Isn't that how you found out your brother is wearing glasses? (See also, my brother sitting on a sidewalk with Leonard Cohen.)

Surfin' With a Caveat

#15 in our massive Beach Boys cover project, which we can't remember why we started, or even why we're calling ourselves "we" when we're just one person, that's another thing we can't remember. All we know is there is a rule that we will never repeat a song or a performer (or we'd be going back to the guy who did "Hang Onto Your Ego" - so awesome!) and that it will go on forever and ever until there are no more Beach Boys songs (don't worry, there are infinite Beach Boys songs) and no more people on the "internet." A CAVEAT! The melody and chords of this song (below), as well as its epochal guitar lick, were composed by the greatest living songwriter, Chuck Berry, as Brian Wilson would be the first to remind you, so it's almost sort of not a Beach Boys song, but it is, according to a ruling by our committee, which is me.

Exact Quantification

You know how much I like Kevin Corrigan? The same amount that Dr. "M." likes Philip Bosco.

Tentative, Nice

A touching and tender song and this fellow does a decent job with it. At the first few notes, and with his reverb and headphones and all, I thought he might be a pro - and therefore not qualified to be #14 in our homemade Beach Boys cover countdown. But I am glad to say that he switches a few lyrics around right up front and is tentative here and there with the guitar and melody in a way that only makes everything better, seems in fact like a guy by himself who is just putting things out there, which is what we appreciate and enjoy. And he has a nice voice. Oh, and in the fascinating repeated phrases starting about two minutes in, he almost puts us in a musical trance. And I love how slow it is and how dedicated he is to how slow it is.

Another Still

From INLAND EMPIRE. It's the same room you've seen here before, which fascinates me (the room, I mean). I lifted it from a review by Jonathan Rosenbaum (the picture, I mean).

Parts of Me

Part of me wants to stay awake and part of me wants to go to sleep. Oh, parts of me! Why oh why must you be warring always, one with the other? Truly Matthew Arnold was right when he said that thing he said, whatever it was. Get it together, parts of me! This has been one in a series of meditations on my complicated nature. (Here is a picture of Arnold the Pig because I was too tired to look for Matthew Arnold.)

Your Blazes Boylan Announcement

Megan Abbott would like to remind us that today is Bloomsday. I plan to celebrate as I always do - by dressing up as Blazes Boylan and promenading up and down the square twirling my walking stick in the jauntiest imaginable fashion. Is that something Blazes Boylan did? If not, he should have! Hey, once I did a Bloomsday reading (the part about the bats, the Gerty part) wearing my Green Lantern t-shirt and people thought it was an Irish symbol. Ha ha ha! What a jerk I am.


Why have I become Larry King? (I don't know whether Larry King likes Kevin Corrigan. It's more the need to blurt out everything I'm thinking, and the fact that those thoughts come in the shape of disconnected blurbs with which I rush to the "internet" in order that I may convey them proudly to the world.)

Monday, June 15, 2009


Why do I always forget to mention how much I like the actor Kevin Corrigan?

Carpet Man

An intriguing note from my friend in Hubcap City, who writes to inquire: "did you read about the human-carpet guy in the NYT Sunday Styles section? he's a simple, regular kinda fellow except for one thing: he loves to have people stand on him!" The answer to your question is no, my friend. I always skip the Styles section, which I now see is a huge mistake. Here is the article. Before choosing to "click," please note probable sauciness. Quotable Quote: "Georgio knows of only one other person in New York doing a similar thing, a guy who calls himself Kevin Carpet."

Where My Brother Ate Lunch

This is where my brother ate lunch today. Remember, kids, signs are there for a reason! In case your eyes are bad, the little one says NOTICE OF EVICTION.

Media Report

Heavens to Betsy! It is already time for another of our famous "Media Reports"! Today we look at the popular media of long-playing vinyl records, public readings, and youtube videos of monkeys. ITEM: Watch out! Amanda Stern is on the loose with a hatchet! Is that a hatchet? I think it's a hatchet. This is what you see when you go over your allotted time at her acclaimed HAPPY ENDING MUSIC & READING SERIES. Hatchet-wielding rage has seldom been so adorable. ITEM: Remember what Barry B. got me for Christmas? That's right! The Jerry Lewis album MORE JERRY LEWIS. Guess what? He just sent me the LP recording JERRY LEWIS JUST SINGS and it's not even Christmas! The liner notes are festooned with exclamation points and quotation marks aplenty, just the way we like them. ITEM: Phil sent a humorous monkey video but somehow it just depressed me.

Dr. "M.'s" Viola Korner

Did I ever tell you about the time that Dr. "M." dropped her physics textbook on her viola? She was trying to study for an exam during orchestra rehearsal. See where that gets you, kids? Or maybe it was like, "Hey, you got physics on my viola." Like the old Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercial. Like, "No, you got viola on my physics!" Maybe it was the place where science met art. Maybe it was delicious. This has been another edition of Dr. "M.'s" Viola Korner.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"I Have Been Routinely Criticized"

"I have been routinely criticized for calling Jerry Lewis a master filmmaker," says Jonathan Rosenbaum, and with that - I am thrilled to announce - the new Oxford American "web" site includes a Jerry Lewis reference on the very day of its launching. (Read the whole interview by "clicking" here.) I have managed to work Jerry references into at least two of my OA articles. I'm very happy to see that the trend is catching on.

Fun in an Abandoned Tunnel

Hey, the Oxford American has a brand new "web" site at oxfordamerican.org. In conjunction with their recent "Best of the South" issue they asked a bunch of people to nominate a "best cheap thrill" in the South. This feature is available only on the exciting new "web" site. I took the opportunity ("click" here, please) to tell people what is so great and cheap about my favorite band, Hubcap City. Meanwhile, George Singleton contributes a hilarious paragraph about an abandoned tunnel (pictured - Hey! Theresa and I have been in that tunnel!) and Joey Lauren Adams tells you how to have fun in a car wash or with a blood pressure machine. As McNeil might remark, this is good information for our troubled times.

Lucky 13

Here is number 13 in our famous continuing series, continuing forever and ever, of Beach Boys covers off the youtube:

Don't Say Erma Bombeck

Hi! I have decided to teach a class called "Literary Humor by American Women" in the fall. Well, by the fall I will have thought of something catchier to call it, I hope. So far I know I want to teach books by Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers, Elaine Dundy, Dorothy Parker (pictured), Anita Loos, and Lynda Barry. Who else? This is just off the top of my head and there's room for plenty more. Let me know! Don't say Erma Bombeck!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


(As has been mentioned before, in real life Dr. "M." looks exactly like glamorous dancing sensation Eleanor Powell.)

Dr. "M.'s" Viola Korner

I asked Dr. "M." for a picture of herself playing the viola to go with our brand new feature "Dr. 'M.'s' Viola Korner." Here is the picture she sent. I don't think Dr. "M." is taking the "blog" very seriously! That is not Dr. "M." THIS is! But that is a viola, so I guess it's a start. Waiting on viola stories from Dr. "M." We're a long way from Dr. "M.'s" Palimpsest Korner, which was so effortlessly informative and packed with good-natured palimpsest-based fun. All the kids love palimpsests!

12. The Warmth of the Sun

Twelfth in our never-ending series:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dr. "M." Plays the Viola!

I have kind of ruined this "post" with the title because now you already know what I want to tell you: Dr. "M." plays the viola! I wasn't just horsing around when I said that the viola is one of my favorite instruments. It's like a classier version of the violin! Not as needy, for one thing. It is no surprise to me that a classy lady such as your Dr. "M." would play one. Here's another picture of Bob Hope I didn't use.

Nice Bob

I "posted" a long piece about Bob Hope at 3 AM. Then I read it and thought "Nobody cares!" and took it down in a maudlin storm of self-pity. But my maudlin storms of self-pity have never stopped me from "blogging" before. In fact, they have encouraged me and exacerbated my "blogging" compulsions! And then, I don't know what I dreamed last night, but I woke up saying, "What's the big deal about photosynthesis?" In any case, I didn't want to waste this nice picture of Bob.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Frasier, Briefly

Which "Blog" Buddy was recently spotted sporting a sassy new "do" on late night TV? (Sometimes I like to "blog" like Walter Winchell.) Kelly Hogan, that's who! She was singing with Neko Case on the Conan O'Brien program and had kind of a Louise Brooks thing going on in the hair department. Now, yours truly usually sticks with David Letterman, whose musical guests tonight were the Jonas Brothers (seen here in the company of "Blog" Buddy Mark Osborne), but I made the switch during the final segment so I could say hello to Kelly through the magic of the TV airwaves. Afterward, I switched to a Frasier rerun because I knew that's what Kelly would want. And which one should it be but novelist Tom Franklin's very favorite Frasier episode, as revealed in our previous edition of "Frasier, Briefly"? Frasier's persnickety brother Niles mentioned the viola, and I was like, "The viola is a heck of an instrument. I should do for it what I did for the bass clarinet." And that made me think of the great Mel Brooks routine in which he calls a nectarine "a **** of a fruit." And you know, it really is.

This Plus a French Thing

What about this guy? He gets some of the words and chords and notes wrong but he is having a good time and his voice is appealingly scratchy. "God Only Knows" attracts the most proficient youtube artists, many of them too proficient for my taste. I prefer a touch of chaos and mortal struggle. Just a touch! This guy has it. On the other hand, here is a bonus video ("click" here) of some French people (I guess) covering the Beach Boys song "Little Honda." It gives me mixed emotions, most of them horrible. That is why it is not #11 in our continuing series of Beach Boy cover songs and this (above) is.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

All Timpani, All the Time

Speaking of timpani, I saw Mos Def playing timpani and simultaneously rapping on David Letterman the other night, and he was just great.

The Monkey's Uncle: A Reconsideration

Maybe I was too hard on the theme song to "The Monkey's Uncle." I admit it when I'm wrong! McNeil reports watching the clip at least six times today. From my sister comes the news that she has danced to it. And I have watched it again a number of times myself. I guess my initial objection was rooted in how far beneath the Beach Boys' talent I found the situation and the material (which was not contrived by them). McNeil (who hasn't been this excited by a youtube video since Betty Hutton) admires the craftsmanship, however: "Some of the transitions from one note to the next are unexpected, and there's another part - when they sing about the wedding - that caught me off guard (in a good way) too," he writes. I don't know, McNeil. I think I may hear a timpani buried in the arrangement, so maybe Brian Wilson had something to do with that part. The answer is probably on the "internet" somewhere.


Don't worry, I haven't forgotten the Beach Boys project. Here is number 10 in our continuing series of what is turning out to be mostly white guys in dimly lit family rooms covering Beach Boys tunes.

That Was Fast

It is already time for another "Media Report"! Further investigation of Ms. Kaling's "blog" about the things she has bought reveals that she has bought, read, and enjoyed WHAT THE DEAD KNOW, a book by our very own "Blog" Buddy Laura Lippman! To quote Mindy Kaling, "I read it in like three days, then re-read it because the first time I was focused on the brilliant plotline unfolding and the second time I focused on Ms. Lippman’s crisp, unusual writing." And now, on to the medium of dreams, and the medium-within-the-medium, the Broadway musical. Last night, McNeil dreamed he was watching an endless production number from LI'L ABNER. And he couldn't wake up! McNeil is prone to vivid, prolonged dreams. He says the LI'L ABNER dream was not as bad as the one in which he dribbled a basketball for hours.

Media Report

My sister has written to explain the commercial that confused me so much. She is young and able to understand things. "It is supposed to mean you never get the results you want. But I was confused, too," she admits. My sister thought the people in the commercial were having fun before she "realized it was supposed to be bad." Hey, let's turn this into a "media report." Because I got an email from Phil, who recommends a book called THE TIME MACHINE DID IT by John Swartzwelder. Phil says he learned about the book from the "blog" of Mindy Kaling (pictured) who appears on the TV program THE OFFICE. Her "blog," says Phil, is about things she buys, such as (as Phil notes) "even some kind of urinary tract infection cream (it ameliorates the condition; it doesn’t cause it). I think she’s hilarious." [It appears to be a tablet, not a cream. - ed.] Phil's email caused me to research Ms. Kaling and I discovered that I own a copy of a hilarious play she co-wrote (with Brenda Withers) and I didn't even know that was her! I bought it a long time ago, before I would have had any reason to be aware of Ms. Kaling. It's called MATT & BEN and is published by Tusk Books, a division of the Overlook Press. Check it out. It has an ampersand in the title, one of our favorite things. Now we have covered commercials, books, "blogs," TV shows, plays, and ampersands. I believe that is all of the media. We have run out.

"Bloggy" Goes to Camp

"Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot (pictured) has gone to camp! Mascot camp, I guess. Yesterday she saw a bear.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Old Man and the Thesis

I keep seeing a commercial I don't understand because I am an old man who no longer understands things. The commercial implies that Google has turned everyone crazy. We all go around compulsively spouting interesting tidbits, the commercial posits, which, according to the commercial's thesis, is nightmarish. Some of the people in the commercial caw like exotic birds because they have used Google. The commercial - which is for a search engine named after Bing Crosby - explains that if you use its product, you will no longer know any interesting tidbits. They promise not to give you even one single interesting tidbit to know. There will be no interesting tidbits when they take over. This is the end of interesting tidbits, they vow. I don't understand. Much like the Cheetos commercials, it is none of my business. Nothing is. The world doesn't want an old man anymore.

A Paradox

I love the Beach Boys. And I love monkeys. So why do I feel so blue when the Beach Boys sing about monkeys?

Able to Hold Hodags

Just because I have been talking up the hodag, don't think I have forgotten to be obsessed with homemade Beach Boys covers on youtube. I believe it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said something about being able to hold hodags and Beach Boys in your mind at the same time. Here is number 9 in a series.

Speaking of Hodag

Here are some people standing on the ground spelling out hodag.

Hello, Hodag!

As you recall, we don't talk about unicorns anymore. There was a brief discussion of using Spring-Heeled Jack as our go-to supernatural beast in the absence of the unicorn, but old Springy didn't really catch on with the people. Thank goodness, then, that my Milwaukee friends have been regaling me with tales of the hodag. Yes, I know, I have never heard of the hodag, either. It's a Wisconsin thing. Or it was! Now it belongs to the "blog" - and hence, the world. Send your hodag stories to "Hodag" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655. (Pictured, a hodag. I don't know who the people are, but they are standing in front of a hodag.)

All I Ask

I have become quite the connoisseur of Beach Boys cover songs on the "internet." I believe I have seen them all. For each one you witness here I have reviewed perhaps ten. Here is what I am looking for in a Beach Boys youtube cover by a random stranger: 1) Sincerity. 2) No fancy camera tricks. 3) Don't talk for ten minutes about the song you are about to do... just do it! This is all I ask of the world in general. I now present #8 in our continuing series.

Monday, June 08, 2009


My life's work continues. Number seven in our special series of strangers on youtube singing and playing Beach Boy songs. Collect them all!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Please Enjoy Them One and All

Here is our sixth example of a person covering a Beach Boys song on youtube. Please enjoy them all. She says she is singing so quietly because her roommate is trying to sleep. She is considerate!


Here is the fifth in our series of Beach Boys covers from the youtube. This one is cheating, because these fellows are not at home. But it feels homemade enough. I will never grow tired of this exercise! Nor shall you.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Number Four

The fourth in our series of random strangers on the youtube doing Beach Boys songs. Maybe the most awesome yet!

Number Three In Our Continuing Series

I believe that teaching themselves to play and sing Beach Boys songs in whatever rudimentary fashion brings out the best in people. Here is number three in our continuing series of strangers on youtube singing Beach Boys songs. His room makes me think of that movie INLAND EMPIRE.

I Call Dibs On Waveland: The Opera

I have decided that WAVELAND would make a good opera. I'm going to compose it when I get some free time and learn to compose operas. So NOBODY STEAL MY IDEA! It (the book) is already practically set up as a kaleidoscopic series of solos, duets, trios, and quartets, with a manageable cast of an implicitly varied vocal range.

A Continuing Series

The second entry in what I have just decided is our continuing series of random regular people I don't know covering Beach Boys songs from the youtube.

Controversial Sock Stance

If I must have a hole in my sock, I prefer the heel area. That's just the way I am, okay? DEAL WITH IT!

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Cloud Lobby

Hey, remember when McNeil took that picture of a weird cloud? Maybe we can name it! Right now, the Cloud Appreciation Society is lobbying for the official naming of a previously unclassified kind of cloud. I found out from therumpus.net. And a little more "clicking" revealed that the Cloud Appreciation Society has a cloud chat room where you can chat about clouds! I have a piece coming out in THE BELIEVER magazine in a couple of months. I can't talk about it yet, but - SPOILER ALERT! - it involves clouds and I feel kind of upset because I hate it when reality intrudes upon and indeed surpasses my fanciful concoctions, you know how that is.

More Adventures With the Man Who Says "Palimpsest"

Last night, the man who says "palimpsest" was wondering aloud why the Ole Miss audio library includes the soundtrack to CLIFFHANGER. A clerical error, he decided.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


I don't know if you can tell because maybe I made the picture too small. But that cat is licking its lip! Ha ha ha! Cat, you are too much.

Way to Go, Serval!

I was just reading on the "internet" about how servals have a 50% success rate when pouncing. Other cats have a 10% success rate. Get with it, other cats! You are no match for the serval. Also, the large ears of the serval can hear prey that is skittering around UNDERGROUND! I read the latter fact in my book THE BEHAVIOR GUIDE TO AFRICAN MAMMALS by Richard Despard Estes, which I "blogged" about a little on a Milwaukee bookstore "blog" back in April. Which reminds me: for some reason I forgot to tell you that some of the workers from the doomed Schwartz bookstore got together and put their OWN bookstore in its place. Way to go, Boswell Book Company! You are the servals of the independent bookselling world. I am going to place you in my "links" column. Or should I say "lynx" column? Ha ha ha! Because a lynx is a type of cat. Goodbye. Oh! Today, the people at Boswell Book Company interviewed Tom Franklin about his great and unholy novel SMONK. Read the interview by "clicking" here.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I Love You, Fresh Batteries!

You should see the abandon with which I am flipping from show to show, all thanks to the fresh batteries in my remote control. Remember: change your batteries before they die! It works for me and it can work for you. That way you will never feel sluggish and sad.

He's Back!

"They never get the credit they deserve, but jockeys are the best athletes in all of sports," writes Larry King on his tweeterings page.


Really the subhead of this "blog" should be changed to read JERRY LEWIS - MONKEYS - UFOS - OATMEAL - A WEIRD CAT