Friday, December 31, 2010

The Man Can Draw a Piccolo

Say what you will about Jason Polan, the man can draw a piccolo! Just got my January BELIEVER magazine, and Mr. Polan illustrated my column with a wonderful picture of a piccolo. I always forget to tell you how great Jason Polan is. He is great. I don't think you can see his illustrations for my column on the "internet" so you need to take a look at the real live magazine. I haven't found a Jerry Lewis reference in this issue - yet! - but Greil Marcus mentions Bob Hope.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Actually, That's True

You know I don't care for the "internet" bookseller behemoth but just love the customer comments. Like, I was just thinking about MY DINNER WITH ANDRE and I looked over there on the behemoth and here is one review: "they hardly ate anything. a bite or 2 of each portion."

Shut Up

Another resolution I failed to keep was to bring monkeys back to the forefront of the "blog" where they belong in 2010. I quoted Clarice Lispector on the subject of monkeys, showed you a chimp on a Mekons album cover, and asked the musical question "Can it possibly be true that Sergio Leone illustrated a book about a monkey in a rocket?" A couple of times I mentioned chimpanzees using tools - but only to compare them unfavorably with crows! That's just five measly mentions in a year, and some of those are really chimpanzee references, and yes, I know that chimpanzees are not monkeys, so shut up. Shut up! Maybe this is why I don't "blog" about monkeys anymore. I hope you're happy now! You ruined the fun for everybody.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Goober Hat Debacle

Gosh, I was going to get everybody on the planet wearing Goober hats in 2010, and I forgot. I used to be ABOUT something, man! Too late now, I guess. OR IS IT? I think this is the first time I've even mentioned Goober hats in 2010. I'm such a loser. (Like so many of the "internet's" best Goober hat pictures, this one comes from a "blog" called "I'm Learning to Share.")

Monday, December 27, 2010

Let's Get Annotated!

Every year, as you well know, the "blog" advent calendar brings fun and enlightenment to young and old alike. The fuel it runs on is surprise, so it would ruin the "blog" advent calendar to explain anything about it until it is complete in its glory and has been enjoyed by one and all in the spirit of anticipation, wonder, and universal good cheer. But sometimes there are one or two items that might be enhanced with footnotes after the fact, and such is the case once again this year. Here are this year's "blog" advent calendar annotations, helpfully numbered according to their original placement on this year's "blog" advent calendar: 10. So Mary Worth was stalked in her eponymous comic strip and they made a coffee mug representing her encounter with her stalker. Okay! I found this one the night before I "posted" it, and here is the weird thing: when I found it, the mug cost $13.99. But THE VERY NEXT MORNING, when I "posted" it, the price had mysteriously gone up to $14.99! AND THAT'S NOT ALL! After I "posted" it, when I visited other "web" sites with advertising sidebars, OFTEN the Mary Worth stalker mug would be featured, probably thanks to "cookies" or some other innocent sounding, horrible "internet" thing I don't understand. Mary Worth's stalker was stalking me around the "internet"! In one case, the mug was advertised for the price of $19.99! I have no idea what this means, except that computers are spying on us, but we knew that. 11. This man has lots of ideas, including one I thought was mine! In my novel AWESOME, the title character - a giant who invents things - wants to construct a highway with grooves like LP grooves in it, and to have cars fitted with special tires that would play the music embedded in the highway, the way a phonograph needle plays a record. I thought I made it up! But I was shocked and sort of depressed to discover that this guy had already thought of it. He writes: "Carve computer-generated ripples in the surface of a main highway, and when vehicles pass over the surface, mysterious voices whisper, and distant music plays... Little sub-threshold voices which say 'Buy popcorn.'" His version requires no special tires. BUT GET THIS! He suffered a letdown too, because he in turn discovered that ROADS LIKE THIS ALREADY EXIST IN REAL LIFE! So I guess we are both suckers for thinking we are so great and everything. 21. You don't know who Charley Weaver is. Why should you? He was a folksy character created by the actor Clifford Arquette (grandfather to Patricia and Rosanna Arquette). Arquette (in character as Charley Weaver) was on HOLLYWOOD SQUARES with Paul Lynde. I want to say he sat on the bottom row, at the end, but I can't swear to it. The little automated Charley Weaver toy is great. In addition to making and drinking its little cocktail, and its nose turning red through special lighting effects, Mr. Ward says that smoke originally came out of its ears. Puzzling, though: the Charley Weaver persona did not involve Foster Brooks-like drunkenness as far as I can recall... certainly Charley Weaver would have never imbibed anything requiring the use of a cocktail shaker - more like a Mason jar. So the toy is weird in that regard. Let me also say that there is one of these behind the counter at the Ajax Diner, inert, and often have I stared at it and wondered about its function - a coin bank? - as I drank sweet tea and ate pot roast and butter beans at the bar. Now I know! 22. I didn't realize until my brother-in-law David sent me the video that the Lambton worm was such a big deal. I knew the song from the Ken Russell movie LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, but if I thought about it at all, I stupidly and incuriously figured it was a fake folk song they made up to suit the needs of the plot. But man, there are so many versions on youtube! One guy sings it with his shirt off and possibly his pants off for all I know. The brother-in-law visited for Christmas. He walked into Square Books on Christmas Eve and by fate walked straight to a book about dragons containing a chapter on the Lambton worm. Have you ever noticed that whenever you start thinking about the Lambton worm he turns up everywhere? So I guess the Lambton worm is very popular and I never knew it. (I started this "post" last night but then I got too tired to explain who Charley Weaver was. It seemed soul crushing. Life is hard!) Pictured, Charley Weaver and LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM. See if you can figure out which is which!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Rip Taylor Chronicles

Yesterday when we were discussing Rip Taylor, I shamefully neglected to mention that back in our TV days together, Mr. Ward, Kent, and I once worked with Mr. Taylor. As I recall, Mr. Taylor was out of confetti and Mr. Ward and I, as "the producers," were responsible for making sure that he had a fresh batch of a certain weight and grade... confetti that did not "linger in the the air" was, I believe, Mr. Taylor's requirement.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

As Promised

Foreground: my brother. Background: Rip Taylor. God bless us, every one!

A Christmas Miracle!

My brother saw Rip Taylor on Christmas Day! While I wait for the photo, enjoy this one of Mr. Taylor with Greg Brady and Vincent Price - natch!

Stocking Stuffer

I hate to brag on Christmas Day but that's the kind of person I am. You know who Anthony Bourdain is! He is this guy. And I am on his "end of the year" "fave" list. The joke is on him, because I haven't done anything this year, or for the past several years. I just sit around feeling sorry for myself! It's fun! But I guess Anthony Bourdain likes it! I assume that reading me is like eating some secret and horrible part of a strange goat. Chef Bourdain kindly writes, "It’s never too late to catch up with anything and everything by Jack Pendarvis, Barry Hannah..." then he goes on to name several other people, including "blog" "faves" Charles Portis, Joan Didion, Charles Willeford, and so many more, luscious delicacies to my musky goat part. "Click" here to read the whole article for yourself. Thanks, Anthony Bourdain! You are nice! I'm just sitting here stuffing my own stocking.

"Blog" Advent Calendar For Dec. 25, 2010

As you will no doubt recall, this is the special day when all of our "blog" advent calendar goodies are revealed in their entirety, yes, in a wonderful parade of delights for you to savor and enjoy. And after that, the very last "blog" advent calendar entry of the year is presented, to universal acclaim and wonderment, so here we go: 1. The Doctor's Secret Baby. 2. Astrolabes! 3. from 1916, THE ELECTRICAL EXPERIMENTER magazine. 4. The Boswell Sisters sing a song. 5. "The Universe of Bagpipes" 6. glittery pine cones 7. Pat Sajak's ears are bleeding. 8. a fairy tale from the Isle of Man. 9. a video of "Baby I Love You" sung by Aretha Franklin. 10. Mary Worth has a stalker and now they have put him on a coffee mug! 11. A guy with tons of ideas. 12. a player piano plays "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" 13. an institution for the academic study of cravats 14. From Disney, a cartoon about dancing skeletons 15. history of a one-man band and one-man bands in general 16. 19th-century lighthouse keepers 17. contrabass serpent photo gallery 18. an enormous collection of old menus 19. two guys playing crumhorns in a stairwell 20. in a factory making golf balls by hand 21. Battery operated "Charlie Weaver" novelty item 22. folk song of the famous Lambton worm 23. through the decades with ventriloquist Dick Bruno and his little friend Joe Flip 24. Patent for a yo-yo. And finally, your final excitement of the year may be experienced by "clicking" here. Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mummenschanz! Mummenschanz?

Remember when I told you about Mummenschanz and you were like, "So what?" I will admit that I thought neither of us would ever have to contemplate Mummenschanz again. Yet according to the New York Times, Mummenschanz is back for some reason and everyone is confused. Half the audience wants a hot dog and the other half wants to stroke their beards and go, "Hmm, I see." Mummenschanz! Now let's make a pact to forget Mummenschanz forever.

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 22, 2010

Today's entry in the "blog" advent calendar comes to you courtesy of my brother-in-law David, and here it is.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

George Lazenby's Agent

You know who came over tonight? That's right, Ace Atkins! He brought a bootleg (this illustration will give you some idea of the print quality) of a movie called UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (1971). I am paraphrasing, but Ace said that George Lazenby's agent told him, and I quote, "James Bond is for losers! No one is going to watch a James Bond movie ever again! The counterculture is where it's at! You need to be in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER!" So George Lazenby gave up a multi-million dollar deal for James Bond and starred as "Ryker" in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER. How do I know his character's name is Ryker? Because the singers on the soundtrack keep singing "Oh Ryker! Oh Ryker!" George Lazeby's agent somehow scored a rather sizable speaking part in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER. I know this because when he came on the screen, Ace Atkins said, "That's George Lazenby's agent!" Dr. Theresa and Ace and I are going to form a gang called the Rykers. We're going to walk around Oxford with hair and moustaches and leather trench coats like Ryker's. In one scene, Ryker plays with a Frisbee and he's really good at it.

"Blog" Advent Calendar For Dec. 21, 2010

Today's "blog" advent calendar surprise comes to you from Mr. Ward. And here it is.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Magical Cell Phone of Childlike Wonder

Isn't it time we came together as a community to eradicate the plague of overly leisurely carousel restoration? Well, thanks to modern cell phone technology, we are closer to that goal than ever before! Aren't you sick of my descriptions of various commercials I see? Yeah? Not as sick as I am of describing them to you! And yet our strange dance continues. Like the other night I saw this commercial about a guy who, I don't know, looks like he just got out of college and now he lives in a loft? Maybe? We don't see the loft or anything, I'm just guessing. But I think he majored in art or something? Or maybe he's in a band? And he happens to see some lonesome guy struggling to restore an antique carousel in a barn, you know, the way people do. So the loft guy uses his magical cell phone to call all his friends AT THE SAME TIME. But get this: though he sends a text, he doesn't have to type. He just says something to his phone, something like, "Let's help this stranger restore his antique carousel," but he sounds enervated, so it's a good thing his phone TYPES IT UP for him and sends it to EVERYONE HE KNOWS. Enervated? He's wanly smirking, as if drained and confused by his new, post-ironic feelings, brought on by the sight of the struggling carousel repairman. And then all his friends come bursting forth from coffee houses (literally!) and start gingerly removing antique carousel horses from burlap or something, and before you know it everything is lit up and the carousel is spinning and a child model with bangs hanging in his eyes is gazing at stuff with something that is probably supposed to be wonder on his face, but he is just too cool to smile. I don't mean to pick on the kid, who was just doing what the director told him, but his was the only image from the commercial I could find to show you.

Cat Power

Hey, remember that "post" about the cat who seemingly made the bird fall out of the tree? I meant to title it "Cat Power" but I forgot. Oh well. That would have been amusing for everyone.

"Blog" Advent Calendar For Dec. 20, 2010

Whatever will it be?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sepsey Says

Our friend Sepsey says he read (in a book by Sarah Bakewell) that Montaigne's cat once "gazed intently into a tree until a bird fell out of it, dead, right between her paws."

Mean Clown In a Bathrobe

Just watching THE FAMILY JEWELS, in which, as you know, Jerry Lewis plays several roles, including a mean clown who hates America. I am not kidding! He renounces his American citizenship. It's part of the plot! But here's the most important thing I will ever tell you: I am pretty sure that in the clown role, Jerry wears THE SAME FANTASTIC BATHROBE (to see it, "click" here) that he wears in THE BIG MOUTH. Maybe that's Jerry's favorite bathrobe! Maybe he brought it from home! Hey, let's write a "novelty song" called "Mean Clown In a Bathrobe" to the tune of "Three Coins In the Fountain."

"Blog" Advent Calendar For Dec. 19, 2010

Here you go.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nutmeg Is King

As you will recall from my studies of nutmeg and cinnamon, if you sprinkle nutmeg on top of cinnamon in a pot of hot milk, the cinnamon runs away like a little jerk! Yet, as the video below conclusively proves, if you conversely sprinkle the cinnamon on top of the nutmeg, the nutmeg is like, "Who cares?" The nutmeg is like, "Whatever." The nutmeg is like, "Go to ****, cinnamon!" The nutmeg just sits there like, "Nice try, cinnamon!" More on this story as it develops.


Stats! I am happy to report that someone found this "blog" by searching for the phrase "banjo straps like stringbean wore." (Pictured, String Bean. Hey, he and Meat Loaf should have made an album together. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I hate myself.)

"Blog" Advent Calendar For Dec. 17, 2010

Has it been too long since I reminded you of the origin and uses of the "blog" advent calendar? Maybe not! Maybe you would prefer to go directly to today's surprise.

Barry B. Put That One

Barry B. put that one on a mixtape for me once. So long, Captain! We will miss you!

Somebody Is Saying That Captain Beefheart Died

Science Time With Barry B.

Welcome to what I hope will be a new "blog" feature: "Science Time With Barry B." - "Blog" Buddy Barry B. has been monitoring our investigation of cinnamon vs. nutmeg: the final battle. He writes: "Made me think of an old (science?) trick that involved a glass of water and you would sprinkle pepper (I think it was) on the water and then you got a little bit of soap (like under your fingernail) and touched the top of the water with your finger and the pepper would all move out to the rim of the glass..." This has been "Science Time With Barry B."! Thank you for paying attention!

Brain Power

Ha ha I fooled you! I was not in town nor near my computer yesterday, yet somehow yesterday's "blog" advent calendar entry mysteriously appeared. I figured out with my little brain how to prepare it a day in advance and have it "post" at the proper time, using the powers of technology available to us in our modern times we have these days. I did not want you to go without your daily seasonal treat. NOR did I want you to know I was gone so you could rob my house! Not that you would. There's nothing you would like here. What's that? Where was I? NEVER YOU MIND! But I can report that the cocktail napkins at the French 75 Bar have a quotation from Joe E. Lewis on them, a fact I had never noticed before.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hot Milk News Flash

CNN is on the case! Word comes in that Kat Kinsman of the CNN food "blog" "Eatocracy" is investigating my cinnamon and nutmeg claims with the help of her chemist father. STEP ONE: the video below, which I believe corroborates my controversial science theories, though it is less dramatic than the vivid picture I painted with words earlier on this "blog" - perhaps because my milk is already piping hot...? Or maybe it's the honey? All I can say for certain is that my cinnamon seems to scoot away from the nutmeg with greater panic than is seen below. Proportion may have something to do with it as well. Or maybe I'm hallucinating. I read somewhere that nutmeg makes you hallucinate. Didn't I read that somewhere?

Who's Counting?

Gosh, I bet I have talked about 1,000 movies on the "blog" by now but I don't want to count them. Do you? Send your answer to "I Like To Count!" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655.

Thunderbolt and Google

(Some of the following words have been redacted to prevent spoilers.) This morning before dawn when I could not sleep I was watching THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT on TV and thinking about how much shorter it would have been if only they had had Google. Like Thunderbolt would have been all, "I wonder what happened to that old ***-**** *********** where I hid *** ****?" And Lightfoot would have said, "Let's Google it and find out!" Problem solved and Lightfoot doesn't have to end up ***** ** ******** *********.

Forgotten Song of Troubled Youth

Hey! They sent me a copy of THE UTNE READER, the one with an excerpt from my Oxford American column. The excerpt is half as long as the original, very artfully cut by an Utne editor - a phrase here, a paragraph there - so that you won't know you're missing anything... and maybe you're not! Marge Simpson is

on the cover, which makes me happy. I haven't had time to read the issue, but as I was flipping through, my eye fell on a reference to this forgotten song of my troubled youth.

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 14, 2010

It's the time of the season for "blog" advent calendar! Enjoy.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Welcome once again to "Foodstuffs!" - the "blog" column for people who enjoy foodstuffs. Sometimes I will cook up some warm milk, because I am 1,000 years old. While it is heating in the pot, I sprinkle some cinnamon on the surface. BUT GET THIS! When I add nutmeg, the cinnamon SHOOTS INSTANTLY AWAY FROM IT, to the edges of the pot, as if chemically repelled. Yes, the nutmeg acts as cinnamon repellent! It is a rapid and almost violent reaction! I have repeated the experiment numerous times, and it always happens the same way. WHY? Earlier today I ran into John T. Edge at Square Books. I asked him about the phenomenon and it turned out to be the one food question John T. Edge cannot answer! My friend who was almost in a plane crash with Werner Herzog was similarly amazed. He was Hunter S. Thompson's right-hand man for many years, so you wouldn't think anything could amaze him, but my facts about nutmeg and cinnamon did the trick (he happened to be at Square Books, too). Try it and you may find out that I am probably not completely crazy! And even if I am crazy, you will have a delicious treat for the whole family to enjoy.

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 13, 2010

Your daily surprise.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advice For People Who Like to Take Naps

Do you ever take a nap with the TV on? Sure, why not? Sometimes that background burble is just the thing you need to lull you into a peaceful slumber on the couch, with the added bonus that our nation's hardworking advertisers get direct access to your subconscious mind! Win-win, right? But NEVER TRY TO TAKE A NAP during a broadcast of the 1979 monster movie PROPHECY. Almost everything about it DEFIES YOU TO TAKE A NAP. Because you are constantly like, "WHAT?" Like IN THE FIRST 30 MINUTES there is a man with a chainsaw fighting a man with an axe AND a fast-motion attack from a crazed raccoon! ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME PEOPLE? How are you going to take a nap during that? You are NOT! This is what I learned yesterday afternoon. And today I thought, "I bet my 'internet' pen pal who likes KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS has something to say about PROPHECY on his 'web' site." And of course I was right! "Click" here if you do not mind a spoiler or two, especially for his description of a key scene, THE key scene, an unforgettable bit of gory slapstick involving this dozing youngster completely cocooned in his bright yellow sleeping bag like a helpless banana while a mutant bear is on the loose, maybe another bad time to take a nap.

McNeil's Movie Korner

Welcome once again to "McNeil's Movie Korner," the place where I cut-and-paste emails from McNeil and call it a "blog." This email came from McNeil today: "Think about the way Ed Crane, in THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE, says 'What's the matter, Dave?' as he walks into Big Dave's office the second time just before the ***** scene in which ** ***** *** **** [redacted on account of spoilers - ed.]. Doesn't Ed's monotone voice remind you of Hal's, from 2001? I think Hal even says that line, maybe several times. There's a lot more to talk about regarding that topic, but I've already talked about it in class..." I wrote McNeil back, mentioning "the UFO angle" in both films, to which McNeil responded, "Actually the 'whole UFO angle' (as you so quaintly put it) has more to do with Nietzsche's idea of eternal recurrence than anything else. Big Dave is abducted by UFOs on a camping trip before the movie begins, and then Ed is visited by UFOs before ** ** ********. The idea of eternal recurrence is first introduced in the film during the opening credits with the shot of the barber's pole...the stripes seem to go up and up, but it's an optical illusion of course - they don't actually 'go' anywhere (or come from anywhere for that matter)." And I was all, "Whoa." I was like, "Back up, Einstein." I was like, "How about saying that in English, Poindexter?" But it did make me think of THE HUDSUCKER PROXY (like THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE a Coen Bros. film) what with the hoop and the clock and the circle of life (which Norville equates with reincarnation, and now think of the great big space baby in 2001, yeah, you know the one I'm talking about).

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 12, 2010

You just never know!

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Hey! Here is one thing Marc Smirnoff ignored! I told him that the Oxford American music issue about Alabama, which comes with an awesome CD, should include an old-timey Alabama college band called Club Wig. Ignored! But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy Club Wig together as a "blog" family. "Click" here for example! Club Wig featured a friend of mine who probably has the coolest real-life name of any really real real-life person I know: Edwin Brobston Cleverdon. He is real! And that is his real name, as given to him at birth. And I think he might be a III, although it is equally possible that I am concocting that fact. In any case, listen to him play and sing, won't you? (PS, I am teasing Mr. Smirnoff, who put together an exemplary CD as usual. But some Club Wig would not have hurt!)

Alabama All Right

FINALLY! I have my copy of the new Oxford American music issue. I was starting to get worried! Tom Franklin got his a long time ago! That's okay: he has an amazing, gothic short story in it - featuring Buck Owens! But then I heard that some facebook friends in Wisconsin already had it. Well, okay. Because it is cold there, and maybe they need to shred it and put it in their shoes for extra warmth. I can understand that! BUT THEN my STUDENTS started talking to me about it. MY STUDENTS! That can't be right, can it? Oh, who cares, because I got it and it is awesome. For example, I don't want to brag or anything but I have almost 20,000 songs on my ipod... and the new OA music CD (which comes with the issue) contains only ONE song I already have on my ipod, OKAY (Sammy Salvo, doing a song called "A Mushroom Cloud," and I didn't even realize he was from Alabama - thanks, Oxford American!)? PLUS, as I have just parenthetically hinted, the focus of this issue is music from my home state of Alabama, and ol' Smirnoff, in his "editor's column," starts to sound like me during my famous karaoke interludes when I compulsively list all the great icons of Alabama. Here he is, naming the Alabama musicians who ARE NOT on the CD: "Hank Williams, Sun Ra, Nat King Cole, Candi Staton, Emmylou Harris, Arthur Alexander, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Ballard, W.C. Handy... Erskine Hawkins... The Louvin Brothers... The Commodores [pictured]... Big Mama Thornton... Wilson Pickett... James Reese Europe..." I'm leaving a lot of them out, but you get the point. And the writers! I will name only a few of the writers in this issue, people who have appeared on the "blog" before: the great blues historian Scott Barretta (I see that I have not mentioned him BY THAT NAME on the "blog" but he has many aliases! And he took this picture of me with Joey Lauren Adams), Kevin Brockmeier, Ben Greenman, Tom Franklin (see above; also from Alabama), Greil Marcus, Nicholas Rombes (author of A CULTURAL DICTIONARY OF PUNK), and so, so many more. I have only scratched the surface! Trust me! Trust yourself!

Fuzz Mustard

Over on the "blog" of James Wolcott I see Jim Jarmusch quoted thusly: "I reach for my revolver when I hear the word quirky. Or edgy. These words are now becoming labels that are slapped on products to sell them." To which I would only respond, "Now? How about forever? What about what happened to the beatniks, for example? Or when BONNIE AND CLYDE made people put rebellious banjo music in car commercials?" But that reminds me: Our Year of Repressive Desublimation is coming to a close. Let's think back over some of the highlights of repressive desublimation we have enjoyed together in 2010, The Year of Repressive Desublimation. What about when Phyllis Diller squirted mustard at the "fuzz"? Or the time the UTNE READER decided to reprint part of a column I wrote that MIGHT be about repressive desublimation for all I know? Let us reflect also on the piece of candy that has its own twitter account. And don't forget double reverse repressive desublimation, perhaps the most characteristic variety of our wonderful new era! And there were so many more examples we fondly enjoyed together. Why not send your favorite piece of repressive desublimation to "Repressive Desublimation" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655?

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 9, 2010

If you need a reminder about what the "blog" advent calendar is, "click" here. If you are secure in your knowledge of the "blog" advent calendar and would like to experience today's treat directly, please "click" here.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

McNeil's Nerves Are Shot

"Strange light in the sky over Georgia!" exclaims CNN. Also, "Theories Pour In About Mysterious Fireball." Here's the clip, which comes from McNeil, of course, who is very worried, of course. It probably didn't help McNeil's poor nerves that the CNN anchor screams "I see fire!" at the end.


In today's New York Times, the obituary of a tenor who "dazzled critics" when he made his Met debut at age 85! How was he still singing? "I never had a voice, so how could I lose one?" That quotation of his is going onto my big pile of useful quotations to think about. One day I will get my safety scissors and my jar of paste and put them all into a book, like that guy who wrote that manifesto that time.

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 8, 2010

Well what do you know? Here we are again. It's the "blog" advent calendar for today, December 8, 2010. Have fun!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 7, 2010

To reveal today's "blog" advent calendar surprise, "click" here.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Musical Planet

This set of Anthony Braxton CDs is like a planet. You can live on it! I have been living on it for days. I was so quick to whine and slobber when I received the wrong CDs. I should have been equally swift in telling you that Mosaic Records cheerfully fixed the problem in a flash and the stuff they make is the best ever as far as I can tell. Whenever I can afford it, I am going to go for their Bing Crosby collection. (No, government, I am not a paid shill for Mosaic Records. I am just telling it like it is!)

Two "Blog" "Faves" In One Handy Sentence

Not only does CELEBRITY CHEKHOV by Ben Greenman have owls, it has Larry King! "Larry King fixed him with an owlish stare."

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 6, 2010

I wonder what it will be!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Forever Owls

Owls again! Owls forever! How often have I told you? All great books contain owls. Take the work of one Ben Greenman for example. He has fashioned a book (CELEBRITY CHEKHOV) wherein he takes stories by Chekhov and replaces the main characters with celebrities. Allow me to give you an example: Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake are caught in a violent storm. According to Britney, Justin "kept laughing and talking all sorts of nonsense. He said it would be nice if we could suddenly come upon a medieval castle with turreted towers, with moss on it and owls, in which we could take shelter from the rain and in the end be killed by a thunderbolt."

Bad Camera

Hey! You know how I am always compiling quotations and thoughts that I say have something to do with "blogging" but probably now that I come to think of it are really about LIFE? Well, it is time to add to the pile. I was over there on the "blog" of Megan Abbott and Sara Gran, and Ms. Gran quoted a photographer named Miroslav Tichy: "First of all, you have to have a bad camera," and, "If you want to be famous, you must do something more badly than anybody in the entire world."

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 4, 2010

Your daily surprise.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Kaltenborn Curse

You're reading the Mack Sennett autobiography and everything is humming along just fine. You're a mere seven pages away from the end when BINGO BANGO BOOM! It's an H. V. Kaltenborn reference. You heard me! Who is H. V. Kaltenborn? Exactly! Nobody knows, not even the members of the Doomed Book Club. Yet now, by eerie coincidence or some strange psychic compulsion, the Doomed Book Club has picked Kaltenborn-related texts twice in a row - in other words, in EVERY SINGLE BOOK CLUB SELECTION YOU WILL FIND H. V. KALTENBORN! On the plus side, it gave me the opportunity to look for another picture of H. V. Kaltenborn. And you know the old saying: "You can never have too many pictures of H. V. Kaltenborn."

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 3, 2010

The "blog" advent calendar remains everyone's favorite part of the holiday season! "Click" for your daily surprise.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Mysterious Note

Directly after the unexpected (for me) chapter entitled "Murder" the Mack Sennett autobiography gives us one called "Detective Story" and then, ominously, "The Night of February 1." In the latter we get "a mysterious note a policeman said he found in the toe of a riding boot."

Check It Out

Also making an appearance in my new Oxford American column, Dr. Theresa Starkey, my wife, the "Dr. Theresa" of "blog" fame. The Emory University "web" site has just put up some information ("click" here) about Dr. Theresa's awesome dissertation, which in addition to being brilliantly smart is chock full of all the VIOLENCE and HUBBA HUBBA the public craves. Hey, publishers, check it out!

Do You Like Stuff?

Say, do you like Anne Bancroft, The Beatles, Beethoven, Anthony Braxton, Neko Case, John Clare, Peter De Vries, Barry Hannah, Charles Ives, Anita Loos, Shirley MacLaine, Charles Portis, Sun Ra, Sonny Rollins, Alex Ross, George Saunders, Scriabin, The Shaggs, Christopher Smart, Mark Twain, Lao Tzu, Robert Walser, Wilco, and Frank Zappa? What? You do? Wow! No kidding? So do I! That's why they all appear in my brand new Oxford American column. Yes, reading that column is like staring glumly at the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's" - glumly because somebody stole your LP from the sleeve. I'm the worst! I do manage to squeeze a few words of my own in there between the references. You know what this means, don't you? The legendary annual music issue of THE OXFORD AMERICAN is about to "drop." That's what the kids say, right? "Drop"?

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 2, 2010

Welcome to the second day of this year's "Blog" Advent Calendar. Your surprise might be anything!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Wind Chime Correction

Hogan says that the wind chimes in question were a gift FROM her grandmother, but were hanging outside Hogan's own bedroom window in Inman Park when they caused all the trouble and made the song get written. And now in gratitude for your patience in this matter, please "click" here to enjoy a great weird wind chime song by the Beach Boys, a song which, if I am recalling correctly, Barry B. loves as much as I do. This long-distance dedication is going out on the airwaves to you, Barry B.!

"Blog" Advent Calendar for Dec. 1, 2010

No, silly, I didn't forget what today is! It's the first day of the cherished "Blog" Advent Calendar - the fourth annual edition of a noble tradition begun at the behest of mysterious "Blog" Buddy Dr. "M."! Have the complicated workings of the "Blog" Advent Calendar slipped your understandably cloudy mind? If so, feel free to "click" here for a refresher course. But if you have been waiting all year for the "Blog" Advent Calendar to begin anew, you can get started right now by "clicking" here.

What the Butler Knew

Did you know that in Chapter 20, Mack Sennett's autobiography suddenly turns into a real-life murder mystery? Neither did I! I am guessing that other members of the Doomed Book Club (the majority of whom are "crime writers") knew about this going in, but it took me by surprise, yes sir. Chapter 20 contains such phrases as "and in his vest pocket a platinum watch which had stopped at precisely 7:21" and "Peavey, the butler, went on to tell what he knew."

I Love Everything

I love everything about this tiny record player, including its slogan "Oh So Tiny... And It Really Plays." I also love what a rip-off it probably is for so many obvious reasons. And this crazed child who is going into some kind of religious mania over her tiny record player. It makes her feel like a powerful giant! She has never felt so alive! Somehow she popped up when I was searching for a picture of Julie London yesterday. I also love images that pop up for no reason. Hey! Want to see Julie London singing "Cry Me River" in the Frank Tashlin film THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT, the memory of which helped inspire yesterday's "post"? I know you do! So "click" here. Comments on youtube are "interesting" as usual. There's the inevitable lacerating invective that makes the "internet" such a pleasant place to while away the hours (this time about "the shrill, screeching voices of many modern female artists who don't seem able to hold a steady note without warbling all over the place") and this one, which is touching - I guess! - in its own weird way: "I named my 1986 Cutlass Supreme after Julie. Rest in peace, baby."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Everything Is Perfect

Hey! Do you like everything perfect? Sound quality for instance? Then there is probably something wrong with you! Go see a doctor. I was thinking about "Blog" Buddy Kelly Hogan today and how a song she wrote called "Blue and Far" would have been a great Julie London number. And I just found a recording of it on the youtube, but the sound quality is pretty crummy because that's how we did things in 1993 and we didn't care and we still don't! I seem to recall (and Hogan can correct me) that the musical notes of "Blue and Far" came from some wind chimes hanging outside the bedroom where she stayed at her grandmother's house and they kept bothering her until she turned them into a song. Or am I making that up? Who knows? I'm crazy! And here's the gross braggy part: at around the 5:05 mark of the video below, Kelly starts singing a song I wrote! Who cares? Not you! But as far as I know it is the only recording left in the world of this song, so consider yourself an archeologist. PS That is the man from Hubcap City playing guitar! So now I hope you are sated with knowledge.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Literary Matters

Welcome once again to "Literary Matters." I know! Literary matters are almost always horrible. I'm the one who told you as much! But today's literary matters are bearable for some reason. It will never happen again. 1) I found out why Doomed Book Club members Megan Abbott and Scott Phillips are so far behind in their reading of our current book club selection, Mack Sennett's autobiography. They are both reading CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER by Tom Franklin instead! And who can blame them? 2) I found out from the twitter account of my friend Michael that a crazy man will read the ENTIRE BOOK of LONG, LAST, HAPPY by Barry Hannah on the "internet." "Click" here for details. It will only happen once and will not be recorded, so if you miss it you are the world's biggest fool. That's how we used to do things in the olden days! Only once, and we didn't record it. You had to be there! And that's where the phrase "you had to be there" comes from, I guess. 3) Don't get excited because this isn't happening until March, but I am moderating a panel at the next Oxford Conference For the Book. I have invited Michael Kupperman and Joe Matt (pictured), and they are coming! One from New York and one from California! So this is going to be some kind of coast-to-coast thing, you dig me? I am calling my panel "Comic Book Auteurs." Fancy! And now we bid you adieu from all your "Literary Matters."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crime Buddies

Did you know that Megan Abbott has a new "blog" with her crime buddy Sara Gran? Why are you still here?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Again With the Sad Clowns

Hey look! Here is a portrait Frank Sinatra painted of himself as a sad clown, yes, a self-portrait, that's what they call it. It was inspired by his role in THE JOKER IS WILD, recently discussed here, though I forgot to tell you that in a couple of scenes he really does appear as a sad clown, for real! I also forgot to tell you that THE JOKER IS WILD has a downbeat ending. After Frank Sinatra has driven away everyone who loves him, his reflection talks to him from a store window! His reflection gives him a hard time! And before you can stop to think about it, a big THE END is staring you in the face. The BBC "web" site where I found this sad clown picture that Frank Sinatra did of himself says it was also inspired by his broken heart (see previous "post"!) over Ava Gardner, only the BBC calls her "Eva Gardner," which is the dumbest mistake in the history of mistakes. Thanks for nothing, BBC! I mean, except for the sad clown picture.

Frankie's Broken Heart

Okay, so Hogan was right, THE JOKER IS WILD was not a "good" movie. I watched it thanks to her "instant viewing" tip. I will say one thing about it: Sinatra uses a cigarette holder in at least four scenes! Remember when we used to count every man we saw using a cigarette holder? Those were the days! I don't know what Kelly Hogan has against Sinatra, though. He was pretty good in it! Like, there was one scene when he's doing his nightclub act and making a lot of "drunk" jokes and everybody's laughing - but his friends aren't laughing! They know that his heart is breaking! Then he looks up and sees his "one true love" with this other dude she married, and he asks the piano player (Eddie Albert) to start playing their special song, which he hasn't sung in so very long on account of his broken heart. And he sings it and everyone's heart starts breaking! Anyway, that was a good scene, and old Frankie was good in it if you ask me, but nobody's asking me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Oh Boy!

Just read the part of Mack Sennett's autobiography in which he claims to know the guy who came up with the phrase "Oh boy!"

Mitzi Deficit

Somehow I can't make myself believe that Kelly Hogan's recent mention of Mitzi Gaynor's "drunk scene" in THE JOKER IS WILD is the first Mitzi Gaynor reference ever to hit the "blog." How can that be? I was certain we had mentioned her in one of the "blog's" necessary contemplations of Robert Goulet's son-in-law and his many show biz connections. And as you know, sometimes the "blog's" search feature doesn't work correctly. So I have searched and searched in every way I know how, but I guess that really truly was our first Mitzi Gaynor reference, though my mind is reeling at the thought. Let's make up for it right now with this "link" to Mitzi Gaynor's official "web" page!

The Sophie Tucker Reference You've Been Waiting For

Move over, Fred Ott! Just when I thought I had run out of things you have never heard of and don't care to hear of, along comes Kelly Hogan with a Sophie Tucker reference. Not only that, but she puts it in all caps and appends an exclamation point. That's the way we like to give this stuff to you. You'll take it and like it! For it seems that Hogan has watched (thanks to "instant viewing" on "the internet") the film version of our previous Doomed Book Club selection THE JOKER IS WILD. Hogan reports: "I watched it. The whole thing - but in pieces, given my aversion to all things Sinatra [!!!???!!! - ed.]. Sinatra AND the bad jokes! wow! I liked Beverly Garland though. And Mitzi Gaynor's 'drunk' scene! And all the ladies' waists were distractingly small! my favorite part by far was JACKIE COOGAN as Swifty Morgan, and a cameo by SOPHIE TUCKER! But wow. Like Cohn's book, the movie doesn't really explain the appeal of ol' Joe E. Lewis. Bless his heart. Sort of!"

Jolly Fats

Well, this is a happy day for me. I see from the "stats" that someone found this "blog" by searching for "movie with jerry lewis where there farm animals on plane." Sir or madam, I am so delighted to inform you that the film you are seeking is CRACKING UP. Foster Brooks is the pilot of the airplane for Jolly Fats Weehawken airlines. The scene to which you are referring inspired a scene in the Godard movie SOIGNE TA DROITE. Goodbye forever.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pass the Sauce

Hey! Did you know that one of Mack Sennett's earliest Broadway roles was in a play called "Wang"? Everybody likes some sauce on Thanksgiving, but I am not trying to ruin your holiday with "sauciness"! I am just telling you the plain facts as expressed in this Mack Sennett autobiography I am reading for the Doomed Book Club. It was near the turn of the twentieth century, and I believe the aforementioned play must have been an attempt at the same kind of would-be exoticism put forth by "A Chinese Honeymoon," another of Sennett's early stage credits. He was also in a play called "Piff! Paff!! Pouf!!!" - note the escalating exclamation points. Finally, Mr. Ward will be glad to know there has already been a Fred Ott reference in the book (in Chapter Two!), and mention of an early motion picture entitled HORSE EATING HAY.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beloved Turpin Splurch

Hey! Did you know that the pie fights of Ben Turpin appear on the book flap of my surprisingly (?) cheap first edition of Mack Sennett's autobiography? Allow me to quote: "custard pies sailed through the air and hit Ben Turpin with a splurch between his beloved, mis-mated eyes." Thus do at least three or four separate "blog" threads come together in stunning cosmic alignment. Yes, "splurch."


I have had reason to contemplate all the horrible things we used to think were entertainment back when I was your age: 1) someone wriggling on the floor in a black leotard; 2) a guy who pretended to be drunk and that was his whole act (we loved him so much that we later built a robot out of him, though a later generation threw the robot in the trash); 3) some celebrities you have never heard of marching down a staircase with various degrees of passive-aggressiveness; 4) a man with eye problems; 5) the Rappin' Duke; and those are all the things we used to call entertainment. That was it. After that, we were out of entertainment. I have tried to explain them to you from time to time. But I cannot explain Charo. Doomed Book Club member Ace Atkins and I met up at the City Grocery Bar the other night and talked for a long time about Burt Reynolds. The next day, Ace sent me a youtube clip of Burt Reynolds guest-hosting THE TONIGHT SHOW with special guest Charo. Though it is but half as long as the typical McNeil youtube clip, I can't subject you to it. It would be like handing you some Sanskrit and saying "knock yourself out!" Or maybe a Mahler score if you don't read music at all. There is NO ENTRY POINT. Also, the clip is polluted by vile, ugly youtube comments, which seem to be a youtube staple. What can I tell you? Charo's thing was to scream out her catch phrase "Coochie coochie!" and then make some "accidental" double entendres. By the way, that is Ace Atkins above, for really real. My brother-in-law David - a huge Auburn fan - sent me that photo a while back, but I only got permission from Ace the other night to put it on the "blog." I thought I should ask Ace first. As you can see, he is bellowing in unchecked bloodlust over the crumpled body of a foe. Or maybe he is shouting encouragement, like, "Better luck next time!" Like, "Nice try, anyway!" Below, Charo.

Oatmeal Tips

Just when you thought the "blog" had run out of things to say about oatmeal, we come charging back with another edition of our beloved regular feature "Oatmeal Tips." Today's oatmeal tip comes from Mack Sennett's autobiography, the official selection of the Doomed Book Club. Seems that when Mack Sennett was 17, he was employed by an ironworks, where he worked with "molten liquid often as hot as 3500 degrees." He drank "tepid oatmeal water to control perspiration." So that's today's oatmeal tip!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

From the Desk of Mr. Ward

Mr. Ward writes: "Hey Jack, I’m currently reading a book about the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and thought that you (and probably only you) would find this interesting. Apparently when The Who made their infamous appearance on the show where Keith Moon’s drum kit blew up and permanently deafened Pete Townsend, off to the side watching the whole thing were show guests Mickey Rooney and Bette Davis (who was dressed in a Queen Elizabeth I costume). After the explosion Bette fainted while Mickey thought it was awesome and was jumping up and down screaming for more."

Moon Swoon

Did you know there is maybe some art on the moon? That's what I learned from the twitter account of A. G. Pasquella. Oh, twitter! Every time I doubt you, you tell me there is art on the moon and what can I say to that? This art on the moon thing seems a little fishy. But I have decided to believe it. "Click" here to begin your own investigation! The thing I love about that "link" is this part of the New York Times caption to a photo of the moon art: "Thumb of person holding wafer obscures the signature of Andy Warhol." The "link" describes Warhol's moon art contribution as "a calligraphic squiggle made up of the initials of his signature." BUT if you do your research, you can find it on the "internet" and you will see the real reason that "thumb of person holding wafer" is obscuring it: it's too saucy for a family newspaper! I can say no more! Andy Warhol dirtied up the moon! If you choose to find it, you are responsible for your own swoon of disbelief. A moon swoon! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I love "blogging." Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Moon swoon! Ha! One of the little moon drawings reminds me of Ignatz Mouse from the great George Herriman comic strip KRAZY KAT, and that's cool, but what if some moon people find the art? They will be like, "This Earth guy who made up this mouse is a genius" and George Herriman will get no credit for inspiring the moon art. I am going to fix that by sending my "blog" to the moon with this picture of the real, authentic Ignatz Mouse.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Cape For Larry

Well I was all excited because twitter promised to show me what Ryan Seacrest got Larry King for his birthday. Who wouldn't want to know that? No sane person! But I "clicked" on the picture and I can't figure out what it is. A pair of black jeans? A Dracula cape? A pair of black jeans with matching Dracula cape? One of those blankets with sleeves?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Am Sad

My rare Anthony Braxton CDs arrived but they are not Anthony Braxton CDs! They are CDs by the Ahmad Jamal Trio. It's some kind of mix-up. Nothing against the Ahmad Jamal Trio! But come on. I need my Anthony Braxton CDs. Gosh, my problems are monumental, aren't they? Really all I do is think about my sad life and just weep and weep.