Sunday, January 31, 2010

Big Night For Jerry References

There was a Jerry Lewis reference on THE SIMPSONS tonight. Homer said, "I've been acting like telethon Jerry Lewis when I should have been acting like rest-of-the-year Jerry Lewis!" Then I was watching Elvis Costello's talk show. Did you know that Elvis Costello has a talk show? Well he does. And did you know that there's a picture of me having dinner with Elvis Costello? I just wanted to make sure! But the important thing is that I was watching the Elvis Costello talk show via dvr and guest Bruce Springsteen cited Jerry Lewis as an influence. To be thorough, I should say that Mr. Springsteen cited Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis as influences, but then avowed that he did not know with which of the pair to equate himself most. (Once again, our illustration is randomly chosen in keeping with our new rules but turns out to be appropriate anyway.)

A Gander at Jasper; or, Jerry in the Rye

We were gone! Now we're back! Did you miss us? Where were we? None of your beeswax! Okay, we went to Atlanta to take a gander at Jasper, okay? He's awesomely adorable! We also ate in a restaurant. We looked upon the wise visage of Jasper, ate at a restaurant, and came back. It was fun! Upon our return, I found a message from a "blog" source who goes by the pseudonym "unemployed reporter" because she is an unemployed reporter. She told me that Jerry Lewis tried to get permission to make a movie of CATCHER IN THE RYE! So that was exciting news. According to the Levy book (so I must have known this before and forgotten it), he wanted to play Holden! Here's a quotation: "Salinger's sister told me if anyone would get it from him it would be me... He's nuts also. And that's the only reason that he's entertaining talking to me - because he likes nuts." So we ate at an old favorite restaurant in our old Atlanta neighborhood, Theresa and I did. They put photos of their regular customers on a wall in the back. I was fearful that our photo would have been taken down. We haven't been back in almost three years! But the people remembered us and welcomed us back warmly and the food was just as great as we remembered (I had guanciale!) and the picture was still up so I didn't have to fly into an insane rage and start raking photos of usurpers off the wall, which I was totally prepared to do. Thanks for making it feel like old times, La Tavola! See you again soon, Jasper! Go for it, Jerry!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Enormous Desirability Gap

Be sure to visit Square Books for your tickets to the Lafayette Literacy Council charity ball, coming up Saturday night. Free food and a cash bar! Best of all, it benefits Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, a great early literacy program straight from the mind of the eponymous Dolly Parton. Our good friend Joey has been busy organizing an auction for the event: you can bid on people's original drawings of their favorite literary characters. Tina Fey did one of Miss Havisham. I did a drawing, too. Blue Sharpie, very la-di-da. And I know there is a wide range of other contributors filling in the enormous desirability gap between Tina Fey and me. I portray a scene from WAITING FOR GODOT by Samuel Beckett. Vladimir is standing there with his hand on his hip, like "Where's Godot?" Estragon is sitting on rock. Theresa says it looks like he might be leaning on the rock, maybe. Joey says it looks like he laid an egg. You be the judge! There are stars coming out of Estragon's foot, indicating that he has a pain in his foot. For extra irony, I drew it on a gift box from Kohl's department store and left the Kohl's motto visible: "expect great things." Ha ha ha! Get it? Look, you'll never be able to afford Tina Fey's picture of Miss Havisham, but you've got a pretty good shot at mine. Go for it! Because it is a ball we are talking about, there will be dukes and kings and such. And guess what? Tom Franklin is one of the dukes! I'm not sure if they will force him to dress up like a duke, but you should go just for that, yes, just in case they do.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The English Language Is Alive With Wonder and I Hate It

Hey! If you are old like me, you probably did not realize that the rebellious youth of today have turned "ash" into a verb. If there is one thing my undergraduates enjoy more than smoking deadly cigarettes, it is using "ash" as a verb, as in "I ashed my cigarette," meaning that the speaker has flicked the excess ash off the end of his or her fashionable cigarette. As you get older, one thing you learn is that old people are hopelessly stupid. For example, I feel that it has been going on for at least a decade, yet I am still enraged that people are using "genius" as an adjective, as in "That's so genius, using 'ash' as a verb!" I sit around in my ratty bathrobe thinking about it. I used to hate uptight people like me, but now I am one and I feel pretty good about it.

Wavy Hair and Sound Teeth

I just wrote a little story called "The Snowball" and it seems to me like something someone else would have thought of already in essence, so I hit the "google" to make sure everything was cool. There is no way to tell, of course. I "googled" for "snowball story," which is the kind of inept "googling" done by pikers. Normally I am a champion "googler." I can find anything. Just the other day I found an obscure pro-Christian Science novel for a friend who remembered a few aspects of it from childhood. The telltale passage, which allowed me to realize that I had found the right book, was this: "The folds of her coat at the back hung over a slight protuberance between the shoulders; but that same nature had given her the wavy hair and sound teeth which made the little woman's face pleasant to look upon." What a satisfying "google" that was! So I am aware that my current "googling" is inadequate. But on the upside, it led me to this report about a woman who keeps a snowball as a pet. Now that I read the article, I realize that the woman doesn't really think her snowball is a pet. She says, "It's just like a little pet." It's a simile, you "human interest story" jerks!

Monday, January 25, 2010

What You Don't Know About Cough Drops

I am enjoying a cough drop and idly reading the fine print on the back of the bag, which states, "excessive use may have a laxative effect."


Today's randomly chosen illustration proves not to seem random at all! Allow me to explain, for I can see that you are aquiver with curiosity. If I am reading the schedule correctly, I note that Shawn Levy, author of KING OF COMEDY: THE LIFE AND ART OF JERRY LEWIS will soon be a guest on our local Thacker Mountain radio program. Though it has since been easily superseded in both personal empathy and aesthetic insight by the Fujiwara monograph, Levy's book remains pivotal for me, full of useful information and analysis. It was the first large work I read about Mr. Lewis, and as such it has tons of sentimental value. So part of me would like to go get my copy signed. But another part of me is afraid! I have read Mr. Levy's essay in the scholarly compendium ENFANT TERRIBLE! JERRY LEWIS IN AMERICAN FILM, in which he expresses his opinion of people who enjoyed his book too much, the "kooks, cultists, and scholars." He writes, "Strange - and some deeply strange - people call or write to share their passions; thanks to Jerry, indirectly, I will never again have my home number listed in the phone book." So as you can imagine, I am reluctant to be seen standing in line, slavering and clutching the book to my bosom like a maniac.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Planet of the Nephews

I am pleased to announce that I have just moments ago acquired another nephew. We get nothing but nephews around these parts, not that we're complaining! Five of them now: Wylie, Ozzy, Buzz, Noah, and now Jasper. Welcome to planet Earth, Jasper!

2 or 3 Other Great Things About Phyllis Diller

From the same article, in case you are crazy and haven't read it yet: She has painted portraits of Alex Trebek and Meg Ryan. She is selling a "red velvet cape she wore on 'The Love Boat'" for $1,000.


George Clooney was called "the un-Jerry Lewis" in the New York Times, not "the anti-Jerry Lewis" as previously reported. I'm still upset about it. The "blog" DOES NOT regret the error.

Advice For Vampires

Last night I saw part of that TWILIGHT movie, which is about vampires who go to high school. And I thought, WHY WOULD A VAMPIRE EVER GO TO HIGH SCHOOL? Dear reader, how old are you? Forty? Twenty-five? How much money would someone have to pay you to sit through a year of high school classes? All the money in the world? Now imagine that you are a vampire who is like 1,000 years old! Wouldn't you rather go to college? Maybe the vampire wants to become a botanist. Maybe the vampire has always wanted to learn Italian. For a vampire, college is the way to go. I have no doubt that the vampires-in-high-school thing was explained in some part of the movie I didn't see. But I urge all the vampires out there to go to college instead. Of course, if you are turned into a vampire while you are still in high school, you should NOT DROP OUT. Stay in school, vampires! (PS: Because it is so obvious, I feel sure someone else somewhere on the "internet" has made a similar point, probably in a vampire chat room, and as you know there is hardly anything new to say on the "internet." But I couldn't think of a great way to google for it to check.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Repressive Desublimation Update

I tried to watch some of that Peter Sellers movie of repressive desublimation for you. I got about two minutes in. There was this guru in a robe and he was telling his groovy followers who were sitting around him in a field that they needed to follow the squares of the world around and "kiss them in their homes... kiss them in their minds." I think that's what he said. Then I decided to watch something else.

A Disgraceful Blot

You know I like to alert you when the New York Times makes a passing reference to Jerry Lewis. Today, someone calls George Clooney "the anti-Jerry Lewis." For shame! A disgraceful blot upon the reputation of the "gray lady." I refuse to "link" to such calumny. This is the same reporter who once equated Charlie Sheen with Dean Martin! Equated him, I said! Charlie Sheen! With Dean Martin! Unthinkable! Clearly, this person needs to take some lessons in Jerry appreciation from her Times buddies Dave Kehr and Manohla Dargis.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Inventor of the See-Through Hatbox

Did you know that Phyllis Diller invented the "see-through hatbox"? That's just one of the interesting things she says in a recent NEW YORKER profile. I have been killing time in the periodicals room again, and that's how I found out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Am Worried

I am worried about this commercial for chicken I keep seeing wherein it is stated "this is chicken with a sense of humor" and furthermore that said chicken is "fried in wickedly different shapes."

Too Saucy?

Was that last random illustration too saucy? It is taken from the early talkie "The Devil's Cabaret." That's how they did things back then! Saucy like.

Can I Borrow a Cup of Tri-Axium Writings?

A neighbor dropped by just to loan me a couple of books he thought I'd like: a gigantic history of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (the group from which spring both Wadada Leo Smith and Anthony Braxton) and some of Mr. Braxton's "Tri-axium Writings." He was especially nice to loan me the latter because (as you can see on the "web" site from which they can be ordered) the Tri-axium Writings are "special, made-on-demand editions prepared by the composer." The former book - the history - is called A POWER STRONGER THAN ITSELF: THE AACM AND AMERICAN EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC by George E. Lewis. I've only leafed through it so far, but it looks great. The first page I happened to open to compared Eric Dolphy's use of birdsong to Messiaen's. Anyway, what a nice neighbor! What a town when your neighbor happens to drop by some Tri-axium Writings. PS I also found a place on the "internet" where you can read an excerpt from the Tri-axium Writings.

Hot News From Chicago

From our good friend Judge, here is another in her famous series of photographic reports, exclusive to the "blog," entitled "Hot News From Chicago." Judge would like you to know that these "rants were posted in the window of a bead store." The "blog" neither endorses nor understands the rants in question. Well, we get the Capone reference, of course, and DO STRONGLY endorse any usage of the word "piker" whenever possible.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Else Is Great

You know what else is great? On Wadada Leo Smith's "Nine (9) Stones On a Mountain" (from THE KABELL YEARS) when the harmonica comes in. I didn't see that coming! And then (I think) a piccolo and a glockenspiel! Yeah! Like that harp and bongo duet in that Doris Day movie, except mystical and awesome instead of terrible.

Edgars Aplenty

"Blog" Buddies Megan Abbott and Ace Atkins have been nominated for Edgar awards this year! So has "Blog" Passing Acquaintance (there's no shame in that!) John Hart, as well as a couple of "Blog" People Who Would Probably Never Remember We've Met Because Why Should They, Tim Gautreaux and Dennis Lehane. Congratulations are in order... to the "blog," that is! The "blog's" greedy tentacles ensnare the world of literature! Also, congratulations to the very deserving nominees. (Pictured, proof that I have met Dennis Lehane... and William Gay and Tom Franklin [a former Edgar winner himself]. I'm the sadly smirky one. Always have been!)

Googling the D

Don't worry! I know you are concerned, so I have been busy googling "t wmukl-D," or "the D" as I call it for short, to find out what that combination of letters means. I still don't know what it means and I still love the piece. The first thing I found out is that on another album there is another Smith track called "Fisherman t wmukl-D." Don't be confused! That is not the t wmukl-D I am talking about. I also found a shady "internet" entrepreneur claiming to offer a "t wmukl-D ringtone," which seems fishy to me. Here's the "link" but don't "click" it! It seems a dubious enterprise at best, and I feel certain that Wadada Leo Smith knows nothing about it. Who knows what happens to your computer when you "click" unwisely? I googled the eyelash medicine for you too, so you would know I would never lie to you - something else you shouldn't "click." But here's some fine print from their site: "Although iris pigmentation was not reported in clinical studies with LATISSE®, patients should be advised about the potential for increased brown iris pigmentation which is likely to be permanent." And that's just for starters! To reiterate, "t wmukl-D" by Wadada Leo Smith is sublime; perilous eyelash medicine - or any kind of eyelash medicine! - strikes me as obscene in every way, but it's none of my business and who cares what I think anyway? Not me!

t wmukl-D

That youtube clip I showed you, as pleasant as it is, does not even come close to explaining why I listen to Wadada Leo Smith all day every day except when I have to do something stupid like leave the house. It's fine, the clip is, especially the solo part at the beginning, but I haven't found anything on youtube that adequately captures what has me obsessed. I have been listening to a series of recordings called THE KABELL YEARS 1971-79 over and over and over and over. Some of it is reminiscent of Ives with its mournful playfulness and some of it gets as spare as Webern, but that's not close to all. I don't think I'm equipped to discuss it properly. My favorite cut might be one called "t wmukl-D." I think that's what it says! What does it mean? I HAVE NO IDEA! I guess I could look it up but I am too busy listening to it a million times. If you're on a budget, RED SULPHUR SKY is cheaper than THE KABELL YEARS 1971-79, and it's all solo Wadada all the time, and just great. No, government, Wadada Leo Smith hasn't paid me anything to promote his work! I found out about him thanks to my Anthony Braxton book. Sometimes books are all right!

What It's Like

It's like "theatre."

The British Way!

And yes, I spell "lacklustre" the British way. CAN YOU HANDLE IT? It's the classiest way to spell it and I do it because I'm classy.

Hold On to Your Irises, Everybody!

Theresa has seen the eyelashes commercial! She says the mandatory list of possible side effects (which I missed) sounds weird: "darkening of eyelids" and "permanent change of the color of your irises" (Theresa's paraphrases).

Medicine That Cures Your Eyelashes

I saw a commercial for a prescription medicine that cures your lacklustre eyelashes! I am not kidding!

Soup Club

McNeil and I are eating soup for lunch today! At the same time! Though we live so many miles apart! It really makes you think.


Speaking of repressive desublimation, our friend from "She Blogged By Night" reports that she recently caught the last half of THE BIG CUBE. I am trying to talk her into reviewing it for this "blog." I believe it would pave the way for a great new "blog" feature in which people review halves of movies.

The Mind Reels

I've said it before, but isn't it funny how our popular "random illustration" policy BLOWS YOUR MIND? Like, even though the picture is completely random, the squirrel appears to adore the softer side of Charles Bukowski. And what better representatives of repressive desublimation than Marion and Howard Cunningham?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


You know I'm reading that novel HOLLYWOOD by Charles Bukowski. And I come to a part where he says that James Thurber "would have made a h*** of a bad-a**ed coal miner," which is an awesome thing to say about James Thurber. Just a few lines later are his "5 cats... with their ten beautiful eyes." Aw! How can I not love Charles Bukowski? Maybe I do now! All of a sudden! But will it last? Anyway, I bet he would hate being bleeped out with asterisks like that. Yes, Charles Bukowski would certainly consider me a real *****.

Wadada Leo Smith!

Do you know who you need? Wadada Leo Smith.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Triumphant Return of Repressive Desublimation

McNeil called to tell me about a 104-year-old strongman who just passed away, and up until the time of his passing he was still able to "bend coins with his fingers." (Note: I am relaying the phone message as it was relayed to me by Theresa, so that is a Theresa quotation, not a McNeil quotation.) But more importantly, wasn't 2010 supposed to be "The Year of Repressive Desublimation"? McNeil is doing his part: he has dvr'd a movie called THE BIG CUBE, in which Lana Turner ingests psychedelic drugs, apparently. If that's not repressive desublimation, I don't know what is. In the meantime, I have a(nother) Peter Sellers movie similarly loaded up and ready to go, and I think it is all about squares and hippies and such, of course. But what of us, yes, our smart generation? Everything sure was repressively desublimated back in the 60s, right? Ha! What if I were to tell you that OUR OWN IDEAS AND IMPULSES ARE BEING REPRESSIVELY DESUBLIMATED RIGHT NOW IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY WHEN EVERYONE IS SO GREAT? But we don't know it because "the man" is doing such a good job! My guess is that it's a naughty cartoon or skit you think is really subversive and dangerous and edgy, and it's broadcast by one of the biggest corporations in the world, yes, a corporation owned by "the man"! In my supposedly forthcoming novel, which is complete and perfect but as yet unreleased for reasons that no one will explain, I make reference to this phenomenon with a supposedly scandalous puppet show I made up called DIRTY OCTOPUS. I can tell you now, because my novel will never come out, I reckon, so I am publishing it bit by bit on my "blog" - in this case, I am publishing the two words DIRTY OCTOPUS. You go, repressive desublimation!


Do you like posters and helping? Our friend Judge has created a poster, silk-screened by hand, all proceeds from which will go to Doctors Without Borders and Partners In Health, to help out in Haiti.

Today's Big Item

Sandra Bullock loves Jerry Lewis! It's in the New York Times! You know I always tell you when there's a Jerry reference in the New York Times. This one is really just on a New York Times "blog," so it doesn't count, but the important part is that Sandra Bullock loves Jerry Lewis, which I figured you would be eager to know.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wylie B. Goode

Here's my nephew Wylie playing in his band. Watch it all the way through because Wylie goes nuts on a solo at the very end. He's the second one from the left but I don't need to tell you that because he's the one that goes nuts on a solo at the end at that's all you need to know.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Frances Ford Lopalla

Did you ever notice how sometimes good reviews make you want nothing to do with their subjects and bad reviews of things make you fall in love? No? Maybe it's just me. Like, I read a great review in the New York Times of a guy who plays the bass fiddle and uses his wonderful voice to sing sparkling, witty lyrics about being seated on an airplane next to Leonard Bernstein. For no reason, my heart recoiled and shriveled within my bosom at the thought of entertainment so very sparkling and witty - though I am fascinated by Leornard Bernstein! And the more sparkling and witty and smart and elegant yet accessible and devil-may-care the reviewer made everything sound, the more appalled and repulsed I became through no fault of the actual artist being reviewed, who is probably fantastic. On the other hand, I read a crummy, prissy, disdainfully sniffing Publisher's Weekly review of a novel called HOLLYWOOD by Charles Bukowski. Here's part of it: "This book deteriorates into juvenile satire in which familiar, real-life figures appear with the letters of their names shifted slightly: the famous director Jon-Luc Modard, the philosopher Jean-Paul Sanrah, Frances Ford Lopalla and an obvious Norman Mailer stand-in called Victor Norman." I mean, come on! Though I am a far, far cry from the world's most ardent Bukowski fan - I wouldn't call myself a fan at all - I knew I had to have it. Frances Ford Lopalla! (Back to random illustrations for now.)

Things My Students Told Me

1) Dateline: LITTLE ROCK. One young woman's mother has a trampoline in the backyard. At night, coyotes occupy the trampoline. 2) A great aunt dresses as a male pilgrim every Thanksgiving. She sits on the porch smoking cigarettes and doing crossword puzzles, dressed as a male pilgrim. We all looked at the pictures.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ominous Green Sparks

Wait, I forgot to tell you the most exciting part of that Manohla Dargis review. In the movie, there's a "white cat, whose eyes beam out ominous green sparks and who has been immortalized in artwork throughout the house." Here's the picture again in case you forgot it.

I'm a Big Shot

Remember the man who was sad because he went to Princeton? I just read a book review he wrote, in which he mistakenly alluded to Judas when the obvious and actual subject of the allusion was St. Peter. I was happy to notice his error. It made me feel like a big shot! I need to get out more.


(It's from a Manohla Dargis review of a 1977 Japanese horror movie called HOUSE.)

The Greatest Picture Ever In the New York Times

Imagine my surprise today when I saw the greatest picture ever printed in the New York Times:


Are you lucky enough to have a job? Is today your payday? Maud Newton says that giving to Doctors Without Borders is a good way to help the people in Haiti, and Maud Newton is always right.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

This Is Now!

The NBIL sends along a whole book you can read on the "internet"! That's how all the kids are reading these days. This one was published in 1972, and it is about living in the future, 2010. Which is now! It is called 2010: LIVING IN THE FUTURE. The first chapter starts like this: "The year is 2010. 'It is seven o’clock,' says an alarm clock hidden in the wall. Suddenly the room is filled with the sound of music. Time to get up—off the floor." Yeah, but how did they know?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Barry B.'s Movie Korner

Barry B. was very excited to see our mention of Ben Gazzara the other day, because he HAPPENED TO BE WATCHING A BEN GAZZARA MOVIE AT THE VERY SAME TIME! And this brings us to another edition of "Barry B.'s Movie Korner." Today's movie is THE GIRL FROM TRIESTE, starring Ben Gazzara. Here's what Barry B. had to say about it: "So comic artist Ben Gazzara is sitting on the beach drawing when a beautiful young lady (Ornella Muti) gets rescued from drowning. The charming Gazzara makes a little small talk and loans her his blanket, which she immediately wraps around herself and takes off her bathing suit. She confides to Dino (Gazzara) that she was faking drowning. She shows up at Dino’s house to return the blanket and have *** with him then jets off again. He knows she’s lying to him pretty much about everything, and she shows up and leaves at inopportune moments, but he can’t help himself. 'I thought I’d been around. This girl’s putting moves on me (that) I’ve never seen before,' Dino confides to a lady friend (who happens to keep a closet full of clothes at his house). Well, she eventually moves in with Dino and keeps acting crazy. 'You’re inside me! Don’t you understand, you’re in my soul!' the frustrated Dino tells her. She’s really crazy. She does freak Dino out but he doesn’t know what to do. I don’t want to give away the end."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

She's Okay, Folks!

I guess Jessica Biel is using her mountain climbing skills to "draw attention to the global water crisis" so I'm sorry I'm always such a jerk about Larry King's twitter account. In the course of my research into my jerkiness, I came across a great (partial) USA Today headline: "Jessica Biel Hit By Blizzard."

Now Hear This!

Hold onto your hats! Jessica Biel is at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro! How do I know? Larry King's twitter account, of course! It's how I know anything worth knowing.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Anthony Braxton Book Club

Why is Anthony Braxton one of my heroes? Well, he once wrote a piece of music (to quote him now) "for dump truck, live dump truck... the truck would dump a pile of coal and the score would be for four shovelers - and each shovel would have an electronic modulation on it." That's from FORCES IN MOTION: THE MUSIC AND THOUGHTS OF ANTHONY BRAXTON by Graham Lock. My friend in Hubcap City has a copy! Get your own copy today, and you can be in our Anthony Braxton Book Club.

All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up

Welcome once again to All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up, for all the latest in sizzling celebrity gossip. ITEM! Kelly Hogan knows who Joey Heatherton is! ITEM! Today I read about an Anthony Braxton composition for 100 tubas! That's it for today's edition of All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up. Until next time, keep reaching for the stars!

Arts & Rats

Hey, speaking of art and rats, remember that time over three years ago when I saw some art that was made of glass bricks with squashed rats in them? Those were the days.

Creating a Community Dialogue Through the Rats

Come February, I am going to be part of an event called "the Marginal Arts Festival" in Roanoke, Virginia. I am very excited to discover that the festival has an eight-foot-tall mascot called the Art Rat. Plus "art" is an anagram for "rat," which made me briefly misread the press release so that I thought the festival was described as "a very serious attempt at creating a community dialogue through the rats." Thinking back over the "blog's" long love affair with mascots of every kind, I suppose my current favorite (having not yet met the Art Rat) is the "Groundhog Festival Mascot," if only because it wears a helpful t-shirt that says "Groundhog Festival Mascot."

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Art Clokey died. He made up Gumby. He was a complicated man. The world is hard! But Gumby is adaptable.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Ill-Suited to Mingle With Lumberjacks

So I was watching some skits from Jerry Lewis's late-60s variety show. So what? Why do you care what I do with my own time? Leave me alone! And suddenly there was Ben Gazzara, and I thought "!". Nor was that the first time I thought "!" as I watched some skits from Jerry Lewis's late-60s variety show, nor was it the last. I thought right away, "Ben Gazzara is playing the Dean Martin role." And then I thought, "Jerry Lewis should have been in a John Cassevetes movie!" And then I realized that Gazzara really, truly WAS playing the Dean Martin role, because I remembered seeing the EXACT SAME SKIT on the COLGATE COMEDY HOUR starring Martin and Lewis, predating the Gazzara skit by, I don't know, let's say 15 years. And I was like, "Pendarvis, you have to tell the world!" I was like, "Everyone wants to know!" I was like, "You can't sit on this important information!" I was like, "Now my students will respect me more than ever!" But then there was a hilarious skit in which Jerry hung out with some lumberjacks, and I got distracted. He was ill-suited to mingle with them! But what really made me think "!" was an extended bit of great surreality and stylization - with musical numbers! - in which Jerry Lewis and Laurence Harvey (!) - weirdly well matched, and trying to outdo one another in perverse line-reading choices - played old-timey prospectors (!!) with Joey Heatherton (!!!). I don't think I feel like explaining why, but it made my brain explode. The DVD was front-loaded with weaker material for some reason, but the prospector skit was ambitious, employing the kind of sound design so excellently analyzed in Chris Fujiwara's new book on Lewis. Despite all my self-imposed rules and regulations, I think I need to find a picture of Joey Heatherton, of whom you have never heard.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Glistening, Explosive Sunlight

It was my friend in Hubcap City who first "turned me on" to where all the weirdest, most stimulating writing in the New York Times is: the cabaret reviews. Like today they were talking about "the abrupt interruption of a sedate passage with an explosive percussive burst that has the glistening texture of sunlight on a snowfield." And I was all, "Huh?" But then it turns out to be "a jubilee of the most rarefied sort." And I was like, "Okay, well, that sounds nice, I guess."

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Ice Head

"Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot responds to McNeil's icy query: "I can't say I've seen any triangles (perfect or otherwise)... however I have seen some strange ice-creations in the last few days here in Wisconsin: A fountain that had been gushing forth pink water froze when the temperatures dropped, appearing like a fountain spouting cotton candy. I also saw a beer can that was shaken, opened, and so cold the foam froze as it emerged, creating a perfect sculpture of beer can ice-head."

Today's Weather: Perfect Triangles of Ice

Welcome once again to our popular regular feature "Today's Weather." Today it is snowing in Oxford, MS. Meanwhile, McNeil reports from North Carolina that he has seen a frozen birdbath with a "perfect triangle of ice" rising from it, a perfect triangle that seems too perfect to have been made by nature. "It's not in the center of the birdbath," he clarifies. "Closer to the edge. Isn't 'Bloggy' the 'Blog' Mascot [pictured] from Wisconsin?" McNeil inquires. "Could you ask her if that's a common occurrence? A perfect triangle of ice rising from a frozen birdbath?"

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

An Angel Playing With a Cat

I just knew I would break my resolution and stuff a new image into my computer even though one more image is going to make my computer blow up. It's an angel playing with a cat. Via Blair Hobbs.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Don't Blame the Good Wife

Tonight the TV program THE GOOD WIFE wasn't anything like I told you it would be. Don't blame the Good Wife! Everybody wants something from her. The Good Wife is pulled in so many directions! So in that sense I was right, because I told you that the Good Wife has problems of her own. Well, tonight this guy comes in with a problem, the way they always do, and I thought the Good Wife was going to help him, how she always does. Because the guy was like, "This isn't about the money!" He was all, "There are important things at stake!" These are the types of people the Good Wife enjoys helping. But suddenly the Good Wife was taken off the case! And I was like, "What? How will the problem ever get solved without the Good Wife?" So this woman came along who had nothing to do with the important problem and basically USED THE GOOD WIFE AS A PAWN IN HER SCHEME! That's not what should happen to the Good Wife! The Good Wife is not some patsy! And she never went back and never helped the noble guy with the tragic problem. So that was an unusual episode of THE GOOD WIFE.

Samuel Beckett's Banana Fun Time Jamboree

While I was locked out of the house today I was thinking about how great Jerry Lewis would be in the Samuel Beckett play KRAPP'S LAST TAPE. I am not trying to be funny, so shut up. Take a gander at these stage directions, among the first in the play: "takes out a large banana, peers at it... strokes banana, peels it, drops skin at his feet, puts end of banana in his mouth and remains motionless, staring vacuously before him." Come on! It's pure Jerry, you have to admit. And a few minutes later, Krapp slips on the banana peel! It's in the stage directions! Jerry's at the right age to play it. He may be a little old for the part, even, but it calls for an old man. To make it perfect, someone should have recorded Jerry's voice back in 1965 or so, doing young Krapp's monologue that old Krapp listens to on a tape. I'm fairly certain no one had the foresight. Oh well. It would have been poignant! Old Jerry listening to young Jerry and all. Maybe we could piece together young Krapp's monologue word by word from old Jerry movies!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Oblique Frozen Mammoth Recollection

Theresa and I were watching a movie called SO LONG AT THE FAIR, the plot of which reminded me of something I had read in that touchstone of my tender youth, the Reader's Digest publication STRANGE STORIES, AMAZING FACTS. But never mind about SO LONG AT THE FAIR. While I was looking for the particular article, I stumbled across a section entitled "Ten-Thousand-Year-Old-Steaks," which is about some woolly mammoths found frozen in Siberia, and how delicious they are! Yes, says Reader's Digest, "In spite of the thousands of years that have passed, the meat is still good enough to eat - according to those who have tried." But those few passing words are all you hear about the people who supposedly ate millennia-old woolly mammoth meat! Not another hint about it in the article, nor anything at all about steaks, save for the title. Why am I telling you this? Well, no good reason. But remember my novel that I first turned in to my publisher over a year and half ago and it was coming out in August and got reviewed and everything, and maybe someone will bring it out someday when they're feeling better, but I don't know because nobody will tell me? Remember that? Well, I believe I refer obliquely to these frozen mammoth steaks in that novel. You'll never know because 1) it's oblique and 2) you'll never read the novel because it only exists in a mysterious land somewhere far away with coconut moonbeams and butterscotch lakes and ever so many pixies as far as the eye can see. But I thought it was funny that those frozen mammoth steaks must have been stuck in my head since childhood, and I had no idea where that image came from when I put it - or something like it - in the semi-nonexistent novel. How about that! Thanks for everything, Reader's Digest! The idea probably wouldn't have stuck in my head for so long had it been more concrete than "those who have tried," and I guess there's a lesson in there somewhere for somebody. Oh, here's the section from my book. Who cares? Maybe I should just publish it here on the "blog" one random paragraph at a time: "He thought he remembered a newspaper story about a Viking ship that had been frozen in the ice. Scientists found steaks on board, steaks from Viking times, and Burns believed that the scientists had cooked and eaten one of the steaks just for fun, although that didn’t sound like scientists, who were usually a******s."


The other day I read this in a book called NAMES ON THE LAND: "The name sounded to the English in such a way that they wrote it down at first as Quinetucquet or Quenticutt. Finally they wrote it Connecticut, although no one knows who first put in the extra c, or why - for none who have lived there, Indian or English, have pronounced it." See, the thing is I know a guy who says all the c's in Connecticut! For real! He is not being funny. He does it with such aplomb and easy conviction that I was starting to think I was crazy. Like, "I am so uncool I don't even say all the c's in Connecticut." But I am happy to know I am not crazy according to George R. Stewart, the late author of NAMES ON THE LAND. Do you know someone who says all the c's in Connecticut? Why not write and tell me about it? "Connecticut" c/o "Writer" Oxford, MS 38655. (PS! By a crazy coincidence, today's randomly chosen illustration is a photograph taken by McNeil in Connecticut! Crazy!)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Only Way to Be

An inspirational Anthony Braxton quotation, via our friend in Hubcap City: "Of course Stockhausen is crazy, of course I’m crazy, of course Sun Ra is crazy, of course Bach is crazy—it’s the only way to be!"

Friday, January 01, 2010

Remember That Stupid Thing I Did?

Hey! Happy new year! Remember when I used to try to make a poem out of all the most typical lines I could find from the New York Times "Arts" section? That was stupid! But today's New York Times "Arts" section was overflowing with so many typical lines (as a rule I limited myself to one per day) that I have to do it one last time, and I am allowing myself to use all four typical New York Times "Arts" section lines. Two ("tart and luminous" and "bleary and glib") are from a film review, and two ("stout marvels of anachronism" and "furrowed, Monkish hiccups; boppish two-handed octaves; flare-ups of funk and Chopin") are from a music review. So maybe this is the whole poem because I don't think I could or should do this anymore because it's not amusing or interesting in any way whatsoever: "A footman approached Ms. Minogue,/ who was fretting glamorously/ on a couch flanked by panther statues./ After furrowed, Monkish hiccups;/ boppish two-handed octaves;/ flare-ups of funk and Chopin;/ some conversation and homemade sorbet;/ I watched a world of wonders unfold bleary and glib./ Bass was played, largely superfluously,/ by Mr. Brenner -/ Evocative puppet play tart and luminous,/ an unlikely mix/ of Shamballa and shoo-be-doo./ The crowd - stout marvels of anachronism -/ for the most part swayed/ in reverent silence."