Friday, April 30, 2010

What This Is

This is some more proof of ongoing repressive desublimation but I don't have time to explain.

Changing of the Seasons

Tonight is the night I take my unicorn off of my severe corduroy number and pin it on the seersucker.

Larry King and UFOs

Finally! Larry King and UFOs. Two great tastes that go great together!


Maybe everybody knows about this. I came across the program ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT the other day. No disrespect at all, but I don't believe I have thought of it in decades. Anyway, what I saw was an M&M interviewing a person. I am not kidding. Part of the show was an M&M candy (plain, not peanut) interviewing a person. I can hardly express how I felt. The interview was presented naturally and without fanfare or explanation, leading me to believe that this is now a normal thing in the world of ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, or maybe just a normal thing in the world, that an anthropomorphic candy interviews celebrities and nobody cares. I don't understand anything anymore. I know I am terrible about sticking to my random picture rule, but I feel the need to do a "Google Image Search" so I can prove to you and myself that there is a piece of candy regularly interviewing people on TV and nobody thinks anything of it and we all just pretend that everything is okay. (Sadly, this is the best I could do. It is a peanut, not a plain. I guess everyone is in on the deal. I'd hate to tell you how long I looked. For example, I found out that an anthropomorphic M&M has a twitter account. I told you it was the Year of Repressive Desublimation and you didn't believe me.)


Informant J2 has been digging, and reveals that Big T Products is also hilariously trying to sell a copy of my previous novel for $2,499.99. Good luck!

More About the Crazy Person

"Blog" Intern Brian Z. notes that the same crazy person who is trying to sell a galley of my elusive novel SHUT UP, UGLY for $2,499.99 is also selling this TWILIGHT calendar (pictured) for $2,499.99. This is FOR REAL! It's like a dollar store in reverse. Big T Products (the store) is hosted by the behemoth, to whom I usually do not care to "link," because it makes me feel dirty. But here is a "link" (click advisedly) in case you would like to check out the inexplicable madness for yourself. I notice the "Studs and Spurs" wall calendar also goes for a cool $2,499.99, whereas (as Brian Z. points out) a Sibley's birder's calendar is just $2.99.

Media Report

Time for another timely "Media Report." Today we examine interviews via the media of satellite television and the New York Times. ITEM! Last night Gwyneth Paltrow was being interviewed by David Letterman and I decided to go get a glass of water, so I paused the TV. Why? Did I think I was going to miss something important? It does not seem likely. I realize that the satellite has corrupted me in some essential way. ITEM! The New York Times interviews Insane Clown Posse. Here are my favorite lines from the interview, in order of appearance: 1) "Come on, man. The North and South Pole makes a rock magnetic, and if you touch a piece of metal with it, that becomes magnetic? That’s crazy." 2) "I grew up in Detroit. We don’t have pelicans on every corner. We don’t have giraffes walking down the street." 3) "Two clowns floating around in space, swearing, rapping about wonderful things. I get that that’s funny to an outsider." I like seeing those words put together that way. I realize that a million other people on the "internet" will refer to the same interview but I can't help it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This Is True!

"Bloggy" the "Blog" Mascot (pictured) sent some news I couldn't believe, but IT'S TRUE! Remember those people who were trying to sell my semi-non-existent book SHUT UP, UGLY for $413.16? NOW THEY ARE TRYING TO SELL IT FOR $2,499.99! Is this even legal? Either way, I want a piece of the sweet, sweet action. Because you know everybody wants the book that nobody wants. Like the promo for the Ninja Blender, this information could change. I'll keep an eye on it for you and let you know what's happening. Shipping and handling will still run you $3.99, which seems a little grabby under the circumstances.

Scent of a Langford

Jon Langford was in the air last night! First my neighbor (the mandolinist David Lonesome, who was providing the entertainment prior to my reading) mentioned him. I did not think of the next fact until this morning, when I "linked" to it in the previous "post," but Langford also did the artwork on the t-shirt I was wearing last night. More coincidences abound! I happened to have an extra copy of McSweeney's #34 (for details on that publication, "click" on the very first "link" in this "post"), so I decided to give it away in a contest last night. The trivia question was, "What was the name of the family cat in the novel PET SEMATARY by Stephen King?" (I should mention: the organizers of the event said I could read from whatever I wanted, so I read a lengthy passage from PET SEMATARY by Stephen King.) Someone shouted out the correct answer, which is "Church." The winner was none other than the Man Who Says "Palimpsest"! Is there anything he doesn't know? The Langford connection is that Langford's self-portrait appears in that issue. Later, the Man Who Says "Palimpsest" brought up Langford's band the Mekons. I cannot recall if this happened before or after that mention, but a friend of the "blog" who wishes to remain nameless revealed a tattoo of a rodeo rider based on Langford's design for the Sin Records label. So, much Langford. So much Langford. Langford was all around us. Here is another coincidence, unrelated. When, in the previous "post," I was searching for a "link" demonstrating some of my shim sham moves, I happened to find a clip of old-time Hollywood dance sensation Eleanor Powell, who is Dr. "M.'s" lookalike. Remarkable, because the "post" concerned itself a good deal with the subject of lookalikes. Speaking of which, my implications about Jack Black were needlessly critical. I have been looking at some pictures of him and he strikes me as a nice looking man, clearly much better looking than me. When I called him "a step up from Michael Moore," (among people like whom I have been told I look) I should have said "several thousand steps up from Michael Moore." I suppose I should also mention that students in not one but two of my classes have remarked upon my supposed similarity, in both appearance and mannerisms, to the comedian Patton Oswalt. If only a computer expert could meld together the visages of Patton Oswalt, Michael Moore, Jack Black, and Guillermo del Toro (and Max von Sydow????). Then I might find out what I truly look like. For some reason, I am reminded of a passage from the book I am reading for my special book club you can't be in: "A flash of lightning illuminated the object, and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy daemon to whom I had given life." PS: I found the above Mekons album cover whilst searching for Langford's Sin Records logo. Given the "blog's" love of monkeys, I could not resist adding it to my exploding computer.

Thank You, No Thank You

I would like to thank everyone for coming out to the reading last night. It was fun! Music was provided by my neighbor who loaned me that book that time. But I would also like to NOT THANK ANYONE for something else! Because none of you showed up for the Community Shim Sham Dance Class prior to the reading! I, being a man of my word, did. The instructor was very patient with me. I realize that the "ball change" is an elemental step, yet somehow it kept getting away from me. Nor was I a master of the "Suzy Q." As the instructor chanted "Suzy Q, Suzy Q, Suzy Q, Suzy Q," everyone Suzy Q'd across the stage with apparent ease, except me, and I really do blame my shoes. I was asked if I had brought tap shoes. I had not! "Do you have some less rubbery shoes?" the instructor asked. I had no other shoes! But as I say, she was patient, and allowed me to participate anyway. I proved slightly more adept at the "flap" and the "shuffle." Once the instructor asked if she could grab my hipbones, and I said "Sure!" Theresa showed up about thirty minutes into the lesson, thinking she would lounge around in comfort and mock me, but she soon learned otherwise! "If you want to stay here, you have to dance," the instructor told her. Ha! So Theresa danced. She also kindly ducked out to fetch a fresh shirt for me as the time for the reading drew near and I realized that doing the shim sham was the most strenuous labor I had performed in a very long while, my garments having become rather imbued with the musky fruits of said labor. I requested my Rudy and GoGo t-shirt (this one), which reminds me: later I was telling this story to an audience member, the part about Theresa getting me a fresh shirt, and the audience member said, "She picked THIS one?" which I took as an insult to my beautiful Rudy and GoGo t-shirt! And THAT reminds me: the instructor was trying to remember everyone's name, and one of the other students said, "Jack will be easy to remember." And the instructor said, "Oh, of course, because he has that Jack Black thing." To which I responded "!" I must say, it is a step up from Michael Moore, to whom I was once likened by a woman handing out samples in a grocery store and I wasn't even EATING the samples! "No, I meant because he's the only man," the kind student replied. Anyway, we all know I really look like Guillermo del Toro. Will I go back for more shim sham next week? I kept saying I would! And I believe I amassed a mighty army of shim sham followers through my repeated exhortations, both during my reading and afterward. But by that time I had consumed some fried chicken and wine, which were the refreshments generously provided at the event, and it may have been the fried chicken talking.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Song Is Called Stanga

Here is a great song by "Little Sister," a band featuring Sly Stone's little sister! The song is called "Stanga" and I like to pretend it is about Arnold Stang.

Watch Out for Hatchlings

"Click" here at once to see the nest of crows just outside the window of Verdell's office. A mother crow is feeding her babies, or "hatchlings," to use Verdell's elegant and accurate word. It's all very cute, but watch out, Verdell! As you know, I have been unflagging in my reportage on the secret plans of crows. I can only assume that the crows are trying to get close to the "Blog" Buddies for some nefarious purpose. They want somebody on the "inside." As I learned from a book flap I once skimmed, "Crows become our guides, leading us off the pavement and into the realms of myth, history, and science, and opening our eyes to the deeply relevant question of our own place in the urban-wild landscape." Yes, sure, that's just what the crows want you to think!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Blog" Mail "Bag"

A "blog" reader contacted me today to say that he had dreamed about me (!), and in this fellow's dream I was "furiously stabbing a copy of 'The Sound and the Fury.'" (!!) Another email, this one from Jon Host, with whom I was in a band in the glorious 1980s (and early 90s!), reports that whilst listening to his iPod, he heard some Paul McCartney lyrics that suggested how well Sir Paul would have fit into our band, lyrically speaking: "But I find it very, very, very, very, very, very hard/ Oh I find it very, very, very, very, very, very hard/ Yes I find it very, very, very, very, very, very hard."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Terrible Times!

My sister sent me this... I don't know what Radar Online is, nor can I endorse it in any manner, plus I feel bad that they seem to be exploiting the sadness of the Larry King family, but what can I do? I am powerless to stop it! Because, in a very weird coincidence, MY MOM and MY NEPHEW OZZY are IN THIS VIDEO, which Radar Online (whatever that is) labels "WORLD EXCLUSIVE: First Video of Larry King & Wife With Her Lover." I do not approve, although I give them kudos for the ampersand. I am sorry for forcing you to click onto what may be a tawdry site of gossip. My mom is the woman in the white shirt early on, standing in the background with her arms folded as if to say, "What terrible times we live in!"

Literary Matters

I am sorry to tell you that it is time once again for the dreaded and despised "Literary Matters." There are just two. You can do it! 1) I just finished reading WUTHERING HEIGHTS and wrote a little bit about it for Incidentally, McNeil's review of WUTHERING HEIGHTS goes like this: "Remember when he left his kid out overnight in the rain? Hilarious!" 2) My friend Bess and I have a book club. We're going to read FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley. And no, YOU CAN'T BE IN OUR SPECIAL BOOK CLUB!

This Is Happening

They made a poster and everything, so there is no going back now! I would like to give proper photo credit to Sonia Weinberg Thompson. I am going to get there an hour and a half early - 5:30 for the "Community Shim Sham Dance Class." I think it would be fun if we ALL took the "Community Shim Sham Dance Class" before the reading.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Anecdote to Which I Was Referring

I found the anecdote to which I was referring; before, I was looking in the wrong book. It's in WHAT WAS LITERATURE? by Leslie Fiedler, and takes place after Harriet Beecher Stowe "had grown more than a little dotty with advancing age" (to use Fiedler's phrase). "The scene which continues to haunt me," he writes, "is of [Mark Twain] being awakened very early in the morning by the sound of this great demented lady playing the organ and singing hymns in his parlor, into which she had wandered uninvited and unnoticed."

Sick and Disturbing!

Today "Blog" Buddy Laura Lippman is called "sick and disturbing" in the New York Times! Cool! In the same article: objects of "blog" fascination Oliver Platt and Gilmore Girls. Who could ask for more? Speaking of the New York Times, Tom Wolfe recently had an op-ed about Mark Twain in there, and who cares, really? But it put me in mind of another literary anecdote. I guess that's just the kind of guy I am, the kind of guy who sits around thinking of literary anecdotes like some kind of big shot. Anyhow, Wolfe writes about the fact that Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe were neighbors, and he mentions the delightful Twain biography MR. CLEMENS AND MARK TWAIN by Justin Kaplan, but somehow he doesn't mention the most interesting thing - the fact (I think) that Harriet Beecher Stowe once BROKE INTO MARK TWAIN'S HOUSE in the dead of night and started playing "Onward Christian Soldiers" on the organ in the parlor, scaring everybody to death. Suddenly I am not sure this is true. I was certain the incident was related in the Kaplan book, but I have gone to the index and checked all the Stowe pages and I'm just not seeing it anywhere. Did I dream it up? I did find the part about how Stowe's half-sister Isabella Hooker believed that she had been "elected president of a universal matriarchy" and had a New Year's Eve party (which Twain attended) during which "a sign" indicating as much was supposed to come "from beyond the veil." Hooker hid "a covey of local mediums, spiritualists, and clairvoyants" in an upstairs bedroom. They were supposed to pop out at the appropriate moment, but nothing happened. Here's my favorite Kaplan sentence in that section: "The long-suffering John Hooker, destined by his wife to be secretary of foreign affairs under the new order, was attacked by a muscular lady medium, and they scuffled in the hallway." Also, "The raisins and walnuts were all eaten."

Deal With Him, Hemingway!

I would like to remind everyone that the illustrations on the "blog" are randomly chosen now for the most part, and such was the case with the photograph of James Joyce that popped up yesterday. It didn't occur to me until JUST NOW that there might be some connection inferred between the "Eye-Gougingly" in the title of the "post" and the fact that Joyce is wearing an eye patch in the accompanying portrait. I meant no disrespect! I did not mean to suggest that Joyce had had his eye gouged, nor did I mean to make light of his terrible eyesight and eventual blindness. That's not something that would occur to me nor strike me as funny. Now I am thinking of an anecdote from Richard Ellman's wonderful Joyce biography. This is Hemingway talking: "We would go out to drink and Joyce would fall into a fight. He couldn't even see the man so he'd say: 'Deal with him, Hemingway! Deal with him!'" Also, Joyce's wife Nora would tease him about the relative tameness of his subject matter when Hemingway was around, saying, "Jim could do with a spot of that lion-hunting."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Eye-Gougingly Violent Rosebud Mouth

You know how I enjoy combing through the Arts Section of the New York Times for phrases that tickle me for various intertwined and complicated reasons that I can never quite explain. Today, in the "Arts, Briefly" column (not to be confused with our "Arts, Briefly" column) I saw the phrase "eye-gougingly violent," which I didn't quite expect. In a review of a recital, I came across "Ms. von Stade introduced her songs with self-effacing biographical stories. Her mother told her that as a baby she had a rosebud mouth." And I was like, maybe I need to look up the definition of "self-effacing." Then somebody reviewed a Soupy Sales show (!). In addition to dying recently, Mr. Sales is called "lazy and unprepared." The reviewer nails whatever misgivings I might have about PBS when he quotes (in a properly mocking tone) a talking head on the show who says, "Mark Twain goes out of style, but Soupy won’t." Well, the Soupy stuff got me to thinking about the fact that they haven't mentioned Jerry Lewis in a long while, something they used to do all the time. But THAT got me to thinking about the glass house I live in and how I'm always trying to remove the mote in my brother's eye while ignoring the beam in my own, because it turns out the "blog" hasn't mentioned Jerry AT ALL in April, until now, in its waning days. A record low and unforgivable!

Community Shim Sham

Hi! I am reading at the Powerhouse here in Oxford, MS, on Wednesday evening. I am not sure this has been announced anywhere! I checked the Powerhouse calendar and I'm not on it, but there is a "Community Shim Sham Dance Class" from 5:30-6:30 which is "free and open to the public!" (exclamation point theirs for a change) so I imagine it is after that, though I wish it were during, because it sounds way more fun than a reading. Have you ever BEEN to a reading?

Friday, April 23, 2010

+ $3.99

Oh, and they want $3.99 for shipping.

McNeil, Briefly

McNeil has started wearing a tie ALL THE TIME! Even at home! Just sitting around! This has been another edition of "McNeil, Briefly."

Lunchin' With Larry

Larry King is having lunch with Ryan Seacrest RIGHT NOW!


I won't "link" to this because you know how I feel about the behemoth, but an "independent seller" on the behemoth, Big T Products by name, is offering to mail you a copy of my strangely elusive novel SHUT UP, UGLY (in stolen "galley" form, I assume) for a mere $413.16. Let me give you a little inside info: IT'S NOT WORTH IT!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Barbed Probes!

Allow me to quote from that article about crows because I'm pretty sure you didn't click on it and I don't think you're worried enough about the secret plans of the crows: "they whittle branches into hooks and tear leaves into barbed probes to extract food from hard-to-reach nooks... New Caledonian crows are also innovative problem solvers, often rivaling primates. Experiments have shown that the birds can craft new tools out of unfamiliar materials, as well as use a number of tools in succession." Unfamiliar materials! Rivaling primates! Hooks! Barbed probes!

I Repeat: Crows Are Up To Something

I keep trying to tell everybody that crows are up to something! And nobody ever believes me. Now, thanks to a "link" on, I have read this report about CROWS USING TOOLS! Please listen to me about the crows.

Twanged Elliptically

But TV isn't all bad! In fact, it is 99% awesome, I just want to make that clear. For example, did you see "Blog" Buddy Kelly Hogan on the David Letterman program last night? David Letterman even mentioned her name! Mr. Letterman did not mention "Blog" Buddy Jon Rauhouse, who nonetheless got a couple of nice close-ups as he twanged elliptically and inimitably. (This picture, which has nothing to do with anything, is of the panel I shared with John T. Edge in New Orleans. Also pictured, the Oxford American's own Sara Arnold.)

TV Can't Fool Me

And there was this other commercial for a new (?) show starring Lauren Graham of GILMORE GIRLS fame. In the commercial, she is shown talking to her daughter like so, approximately: "I met someone. He's... uh... your teacher." And the daughter appears bemused. This exact same thing happened on GILMORE GIRLS too! In fact, I think the TV was trying to make me think that GILMORE GIRLS is back, that they've just changed the name. They wanted to give me a feeling of warm nostalgia! But it's not back! It's not! God help me, it's not. I resent what TV is trying to do to my trusting heart. (Weirdly, today's randomly chosen illustration is from VERONICA MARS, another lamented TV friend.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

There's This Commercial

There's this commercial that keeps asking me, "Have you ever driven a car with silver dust hand polished into the wood?" And I'm like, "I don't think I've even driven a car with wood in it!" I'm sad all the time. See also.

It's That Time Again

Time for #38. Our 38th Beach Boys cover by a different random stranger on the "internet," that is!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Owls Are Back and Bigger Than Ever

To quote myself, "It is always awesome to include an owl in all your short stories." I was reminded of the great truth of my own words as I read tomorrow's story for my ghost class (You didn't know I teach a ghost class? Well, maybe you don't know everything about me after all!): "The Familiar" by Sheridan Le Fanu. Like all good fiction, it has an owl in it. Do I practice what I preach? You bet I do! The title novella of my book YOUR BODY IS CHANGING has an owl in the first sentence, and I liked it so much that I put owls in some of the other stories in that book, I forget how many, at least two others. Were I to compose a book of advice for aspiring writers, which I never will, the first rule would be: "Writer's block? Why not put an owl in your story? Works like a charm!" After I read "The Familiar," I looked up owls in my various dictionaries of symbols, because that is a fun thing to do. A couple of them mention a belief from ancient China that baby owls peck out their parents' eyes. Shame on them! The DICTIONARY OF SYMBOLISM by Hans Biedermann pinpoints "a fable according to which owls learn to fly only when they have irreverently pecked out the eyes of their parents." Ha ha! Irreverently! Oh, Hans Biedermann. I recall that in her book THE WOMAN WARRIOR, Maxine Hong Kingston claims that her mother once cooked some owls. This brings everything together, because an elaborate banquet featuring owl is alluded to in one of my own aforementioned short stories. Don't worry, I didn't eat an owl in New Orleans. I like them too much! Even I have to draw the line somewhere. Plus they are never on the menu. There is no "owl" entry in THE OXFORD COMPANION TO FOOD. Photo by McNeil.

Blue Lightning

Okay, now back to random illustrations. And here is our final (?) installment about TV marketing sensation "The Ninja Blender." The NBIL, who of course first brought the Ninja Blender to our attention, was excited to see the remarkable device examined on a recent local news segment called, I believe, "Try It and Buy It." He sadly files this report: "The very first thing the TV folks did was load the Ninja full of ice and make some snow. Although the snow looked good, it proved to be pervaded by large chunks of ice! The guacamole that was next on the menu received rave reviews, but ice proved to be a problem once again with smoothies. Here's the kicker: although the blades were forged by ancient Japanese swordsmiths, the rest of the Ninja proved to be made of weaker stuff. On the very first use of the Ninja, bits of the plastic housing actually melted! It must have been the blue lightning. Needless to say, the Ninja received two thumbs down."

Carefully Note the Fleck

Here is some photographic evidence (by Sonia Weinberg Thompson) that Tom Franklin and I indeed shucked oysters at Snackbar on Thursday night, as advertised. Look closely and you will see a telltale fleck of shell on the oyster knife that I am hoisting aloft. In fact, I shucked a full dozen for noted sportswriter Wright Thompson, who was extremely patient with the pace. How out of shape am I? At one point, Wright had to lean across the oyster bar and dab at my brow with a napkin, like the nurses used to do for Hawkeye on M*A*S*H.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Goat vs. Octopus

On our first night in New Orleans we were ushered through the kitchen of a restaurant Goodfellas style, in what felt like a single tracking shot. We emerged in a secret room, where we consumed a goat. Do you think I am kidding? I am not! "Blog" Buddy Pia Z. Erhardt ate the goat with us. The next day I was invited to lunch with John Currence and Elvis Costello. Reader, I DECLINED! I can't believe it either. But yes, I am a professional, and my panel - my reason for being in New Orleans - was scheduled for lunchtime, so I hurried over to the panel place, all ready to get paneled. BUT IT TURNED OUT THAT THERE WERE TWO PANELS!!!!! AND MY PANEL DID NOT START UNTIL 3:30!!!!!!!!!! So I totally would have been able to have lunch with John Currence and Elvis Costello AND fulfill my duties to my gracious hosts, but by the time I figured it out, it was too late. O monstrous fate! But I really can't complain. The panel before mine was very interesting to hear. And anyway, we were in New Orleans, so the fun was just getting started. "Blog" Deputy Rhea came to my panel, so that was nice. It was great to see her in person! Afterward, Theresa and I went to Rio Mar and got to see Adolfo Garcia again. We were with John T. Edge, so Chef Garcia began bringing out all kinds of interesting and delicious things to surprise us, including what he called "the best ham in the world" and he knows what he is talking about. It comes from the "famous black pigs of Spain" who get to romp around wherever they want and feast on their favorite acorns, which they find for themselves. I am paraphrasing, and any errors are mine alone, certainly not Chef Garcia's. We ate octopus two nights in a row. On the first night it preceded the goat. That particular octopus was served as a carpaccio and adorned with these exquisite little slices of some sort of tiny, delicate oranges, I guess. That was at Domenica. Oh baby! Well, while we were talking to Adolfo Garcia, and eating every amazing thing he brought out, John Currence showed up with his sous chef (is that the right phrase? I'm an idiot!) Heath. So the five of us went from restaurant to restaurant, sharing many, many, many small plates of things, including some fried hog's head cheese from A Mano (another Garcia restaurant). I believe our marathon dinner stretched over four restaurants (more for some of us; see below), not counting the Carousel Bar, where no food was. In the French 75 bar at Arnaud's, we had a fried oyster I can only describe as fluffy. It was so good! Like something between an oyster and a cloud. And John Currence and John T. found a bartender there (in the French 75 bar at Arnaud's) to worship. An artist! (That's him in the picture. He's so good that I immediately found his picture on the "internet." I am ashamed to say I didn't learn his name, but that's because John T. and John Currence were hogging him to themselves, and I was away from the bar most of the time. Theresa and I sat on a comfortable loveseat watching a lovely older woman dressed in Phyllis Diller style smoke via cigarette holder.) The legendary musician Dr. John loves this bartender so much that he made a little statue of him. We saw it! Currence pronounced his concoctions "sophisticated." I had one of his Ramos gin fizzes, which was also like a cloud. I guess everything is like a cloud to me. He made John Currence something called an "aviator." It utilized creme de violette. I had a sip. It was like a cloud! Not really, but why stop now? It WAS remarkable, though. Oh yeah, the night before, we had a secret contraband liqueur made from Perique tobacco, of which there are only 25 acres left in the world, I think. But they'll grow more if this hooch gets off the ground. I have no idea what I'm talking about. What's Perique, for example? Is that a thing? And I forgot to tell you how we hung out in a mansion where Tennessee Williams wrote a play, next to the funeral home that made the arrangements for Jayne Mansfield. And I forgot to tell you how John T. and Theresa and I went to breakfast and had some ham hock and red pepper jelly on toast. And a bunch of other things made of pork. And did I mention that the goat and the octopus were placed in a cage where they battled to the death? Not really! But that was a little joke I told during my panel, inspired by a conversation with Rhea. Theresa and I stopped eating things at some point. John T. Edge and John Currence were last seen heading to a place called Cooter's for some fried meat pies.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Oyster Shucker's Wrist

That was hard to type because I have oyster shucker's wrist this morning.

Sad King

I am sad that Larry King seems to be parting ways with his wife according to the "internet." I am not trying to be cute or funny. I guess I have started to sort of like Larry King from ribbing him so often about his work on the twitter. And really it is the supposed coolness of the twitter I am ribbing, isn't it? But it is also Larry King, I must admit. So now I feel like a jerk! Larry King has two twitter accounts. One of them is called ShawnKingsHubby. That makes me sad! Once I "linked" to it, because what he had written there reminded me of a Lydia Davis short story. It's still up for now. Read it while you can! It makes you sad to see it. And another time his wife made mixtapes for Colin Powell. Even this one about his dog, which I so recently mocked, seems sad now. When something sad happens it makes you feel bad for joking around and acting foolish. This is not the kind of sizzling celebrity gossip we enjoy. It is not cute to play around with misery.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Frasier, Briefly

Welcome once again to "Frasier, Briefly," our regular peek into the fast-paced world of Frasier reruns. Last night, Theresa was delighted to hear Niles make a Lizzie Borden joke on a Frasier rerun. Why delighted? Because Theresa has recently FINISHED HER DISSERTATION, that's why! And I can't tell you anything about it except that it involves Lizzie Borden, Patricia Hearst, "Tokyo Rose," and Martha Stewart. Oh, and Nathaniel Hawthorne and Hester Prynne. Once a few formalities are out of the way, Theresa will BE A DOCTOR, just like Dr. "M.," and then I will have to stop calling her Theresa and start calling her Dr. "T." See, Frasier had this fan sort of stalking him. There was a knock at the door and Frasier said, "Who is it?" And Niles said, "It's Lizzie Borden, I want you to autograph my hatchet." I may be paraphrasing. I missed it. Theresa told me and now I'm telling you.

Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner

Welcome once again to Dr. "M.'s" TV Korner. Look, Dr. "M." is busy! What do you want from her? She is a doctor of something (I can't tell you what, to protect her secret identity) plus she has a baby named Dr. Baby! So you'll take what you can get. Today she makes an apt observation about the character Libby on the television program LOST: "does she always look like she is gonna cry or what?!" That's it. And it's plenty! And it's true! And you'll thank Dr. "M." for it and be on your way.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Behooved People

Many persons today feel it behooves them to tell me oyster shucking horror stories, some of which involve trips to the emergency room.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Her Biologist Friend

A report from "Blog" Buddy Sarah Marine: "I was reminded of your liking of unicorns when I was roaming around the prairie dog fields with my biologist friend today. We came upon a strange hooked seed pod. He exclaimed that it was a unicorn plant. My friend says that the buffalo step on the pod and it attaches to their foot. Then, as they buffalo along, the seeds fall out of the pod. The buffalo are unicorn plant farmers! The pod was pretty sharp at the end, too." Sarah Marine also provides a helpful "link" about the unicorn plant. The "link" says that the "unicorn plant is edible and may be pickled like cucumber or okra."


Hey! Speaking of New Orleans (where TREME takes place) I will be there this weekend on a panel with John T. Edge. A panel! To luxuriate in the details, "click" here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Also guest-starring on TREME tonight: a solitary Hubig's pie.

Are You a Good Person?

Did you watch the premiere of the David Simon show TREME on HBO tonight? If you are a good person you did! And hey, did you wonder to yourself: In that one scene, who is that guy sitting at Elvis Costello's table? And then he gets up from the table and bobs his head to the music fuzzily in the background? And later, when Elvis Costello emerges from the club, this guy comes out late, like his character had some important business maybe that he had to conclude in the club... who is that guy? That guy is "Blog" Buddy John Currence, that's who! So think about that as you drift off to lullaby land.

Night of the Ghost Shuckers

Thursday will mark the first anniversary of the Snackbar restaurant. As part of the celebration, they have asked Tom Franklin and myself to shuck oysters for the evening - a perverse yet compelling notion! "Oysters are going to be flying all over the place," Tom Franklin predicted in a recent telephone conversation. "People are going to be waiting six hours for an order," I appended. Seriously, I am sure there will be ghost shuckers to ensure that Snackbar customers - including you, I hope! - receive their oysters in a timely and healthful manner.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


"'He's still in the house! He's still in the house!' a woman screamed at Jeff McNeil as flames and smoke spilled from a one-story home in 2008. Though McNeil didn't have protective gear, he ran into the burning home." That's from an article about real-life heroes in the Tulsa World. It's not about OUR Jeff McNeil, or is it? It's not. But wouldn't that be something? It's not, though.


Hey, remember when that guy thought I looked like some kind of haggard, spiritually bereft Max von Sydow? Well now is your chance to find out what I think I look like: a hairy, expressionless zombie mask. I just got my copy of issue #34 of the McSweeney's magazine, in which several self-portraits (in addition to mine) are presented, including many that "blog" readers will recognize as being of "blog" interest, or "blinterest": Jonathan Ames, Michael Martone, Ben Marcus, Joey Lauren Adams, Greil Marcus (who may secretly hate me!), and Jon Langford, just to name a few. I almost forgot Mike Leigh, director of "blog" fave film TOPSY-TURVY. Also in the issue, prose by John Hodgman, T.C. Boyle, and so many others you won't believe it. It's like some kind of endlessly generous Crackerjacks box! Who cares about the rules? I am going to find a picture of Crackerjacks.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


And then there's this obituary in today's New York Times where the guy is called a "cantankerous Hellfighter" in the headline! That's what I want the headline of my obituary to say. "His daughter characterized him as a 'barroom brawler' and 'hell on wheels,' who 'too often let his fists do the talking.'" That's another part of the obituary. Then it tells about the time his friend almost had to cut off his leg with an axe!

Tiny Dancing Donkey

An article in the New York Times about an Alabama artist has some phrases I like: "ethereal chandeliers pieced together with cow bones and twigs gnawed by beavers... Bob Ross, a blind 21-year-old white-crested Polish show rooster with a gift for fortune-telling, passed on last month... Until recently, a tiny dancing donkey named Soapstick lived here, too... having dug up a Mosasaurus vertebrae at 14, he had made friends with paleontologists... There were no injuries, though earlier Mr. Anthony had punctured an ear drum cutting brush, mashed his thumb with a hammer and sliced the bridge of his nose."

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Debunking of the Three-Armed Beatnik

Phil wants to know where he can get a "snazzy blazer with extra cardigan sleeves," and claims to have been "looking for one for years." It is his sly way of debunking McNeil's theory of the three-handed beatnik. Little does he know that McNeil has beaten him to it, conceding "how the sweater clings to the wrist, unlike the coat the beatnik is wearing." So Phil and McNeil are in agreement. The beatnik has two arms. Repeat: The beatnik has two arms.

The Burley Referendum

Stang time code correction! Roger Miller mentions Arnold Stang at around 19:50, not 13:30 as previously reported. At 13:30 you will find a farmer asking you to vote no on the Burley Referendum.

Hogan Mentions Miller Mentions Stang

From Kelly Hogan comes a video ("click" here) of "Roger Miller and Co. doing a local Nashville TV show at 6AM in 1966 after being up all night." It comes from WFMU, natch. Most important of all, writes Kelly, "Roger Miller mentions ARNOLD STANG! about 13:30 minutes in." This isn't exactly a random illustration, because Kelly sent it along with her message. But it is a pigeon with a camera.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Recollection That Wasn't There

"I have no recollection of this show," writes McNeil. That makes all of us!

The Small Magnetic Hand

An obituary in today's New York Times makes passing mention of a 1916 film called THE SMALL MAGNETIC HAND. I don't know why I'm telling you this, except based on the title it sounds like the greatest movie ever made.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Black Garlic, You Blow My Mind!

John Currence answers: "black garlic is fermented in vegetable ash underground."


I had some aspic at City Grocery last night. I had to invent a new word ("fantaspic") to describe how good it was. Then I had to look it up in THE OXFORD COMPANION TO FOOD, where I read about aspic's "great proponent" Careme, who was a complicated man. "The Tsar gave him a diamond ring," says THE OXFORD COMPANION TO FOOD. Of course, THE OXFORD COMPANION TO FOOD would be surprised that I have never eaten an opossum, which, parboiled, is "a favourite southern dish," according to THE OXFORD COMPANION TO FOOD. Had some black garlic at City Grocery last night, too. But no possum! Because it's not on the menu. Black garlic has been popping up in New York Times restaurant reviews recently. I don't know what it is, except delicious. I guess it's a kind of garlic. Don't worry, I have an email out to John Currence, and as soon as he lays down some black garlic lore for me, I will clue you in. The possum entry in THE OXFORD COMPANION TO FOOD notes that the animal is "famed for what an Irishman would call its lifelike manner of feigning death." This book was written in 1999, not 1799.

Curse of the Three-Handed Beatnik

McNeil, a noted conspiracy theorist, has examined the lobby card from KITTEN WITH A WHIP and is forced to conclude that the beatnik REALLY DOES HAVE THREE ARMS. I quote: "The third arm of the beatnik CAN'T be Forsyth's because of the position of the thumb, palm, etc...completely unnatural if that were J.F.'s left hand." I have "reposted" the lobby card for your consideration and terror.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

By Thor's Hammer: Primordial Associations of the Ninja Blender

Considering the almost mystical claims of the promotional materials for the Ninja brand blender, as first brought to our attention by the NBIL, I turn to Mircea Eliade's study of ancient metallurgy (and other things), THE FORGE AND THE CRUCIBLE. In the image of Thor's hammer, writes Eliade, it is possible "to divine the magic aura of the manufactured tool, the exceptional prestige of the artisan and workman and, above all, in the Metal Age, of the smith... What clearly emerges from all these myths concerning smiths who assist the gods to secure their supremacy is the extraordinary importance accorded to the fabrication of a tool [such as the Ninja Blender - ed.]. Naturally, such a creation retains for a long time a magical or divine character, for all 'creation' or 'construction' can only be the work of a superhuman being." Yes! We are really beginning to get to the essence of the Ninja Blender, I believe. Recall if you will the fact that the promotional video promises to bestow upon you, the consumer, and I quote, "the incredible power to create snow." According to the NBIL, the "Ninja power pod" at the heart of the Ninja Blender is represented in the long-form infomercial with magic blue lightning shooting out of it, proving Eliade's association of metalwork - and hence, the Ninja Blender - with the primal thunderbolt. Truly this must be the blender of the gods!


I have been keeping an eye on the Ninja Blender "web" site for you, as promised. Watched more of the introductory video today. I thought the NBIL was exaggerating the marketing claims for comic effect, but it turns out that they REALLY, TRULY credit their blender's efficacy to "ancient Asian metalworking secrets."

Friday, April 02, 2010

Fear of Beatniks

John Forsythe died. I tried to call McNeil. McNeil and I have been discussing KITTEN WITH A WHIP a lot recently - the Ann-Margret vehicle also starring Mr. Forsythe. We like it, we were saying, and not in a funny cutesy ha-ha ironic I'm glad we're all so smart now way. Yes, a non-random illustration is called for - nay, is demanded. KITTEN WITH A WHIP is a wonderful nightmare you can't wake up from, and exemplifies the paralyzing fear of beatniks so often reflected upon by the "blog," most especially in 2010, the Year of Repressive Desublimation. Below, a hand-tinted lobby card featuring the menacing beatnik (center). I know he doesn't look like much of a beatnik, or very menacing, but trust me! I think he's even a nihilist, like in THE BIG LEBOWSKI. Hey, look, the discoloration makes it look as if he has three arms, but he doesn't - that's John Forsythe's arm - but wouldn't it be something if he did? It would be a whole different movie. And speaking of John Forsythe's appendages, the strange coloring almost makes it look as if John Forsythe's OTHER hand has been replaced by a robotic weapon. But I think that's just a water glass sitting on a table or something. Once again, whole different movie.

Bespoke Uptick

There has been an uptick in the use of the word "bespoke" in the New York Times. My evidence is anecdotal. I've noticed it twice recently. Well, it's a good word and not used enough. I'm as guilty as anyone. What else? What else is so important today? I enjoyed a review of a Brahms recital in that same paper. It started out in the scandalized tone of early Elvis reports: "his lanky frame swaying and twisting as he clutches the piano and staggers unpredictably around the stage." That's from the Brahms review, not an early Elvis report. Likewise, "his gyrations were particularly pronounced and at times distracting." But luckily, "the mood lightened with Brahms’s 'Salamander,'" which is something you don't hear too often.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

What Are Your Feelings About Scampish Disregard?

Larry King is back to his old scampish ways! Those who do not approve of scampish behavior had best refrain from "clicking."