Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Triumph For Cat

Cat got interested in a rubber band tonight. It was great to see the cat rekindling an interest in old hobbies. Way to go, cat!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Horse Movie Complication

Last night I ate beans and watched the Oscars. In some sad news, I did not utterly crush my sister in our annual Oscar guessing contest. In fact, we tied 11-11. How humiliating. I blame the horse movie. Anytime I had to guess the winner of a category like "sound design" I said "the horse movie" because I thought of all the horses that were probably whinnying all the time in that movie while people were trying to talk. So it seemed like a hard job and somebody should get an award. Such was my thinking on the matter. I didn't see the horse movie. Horse movie didn't win anything.

Friday, February 24, 2012

William Gay

Here is a picture of William Gay, me, Dennis Lehane and Tom Franklin at the grand opening of Turnrow Books in Greenwood, MS. We got the sad news tonight that William has passed away. If you haven't read him, you should. The best thing you could do is to order one of his books from Turnrow in Greenwood or Square Books here in Oxford, two bookstores that truly appreciated and supported William's deep talent.

Vic's Mystical Daggers

And here's Vic talking to his date as they drive home from a party: "And when love starts twisting its ecstatic daggers inside you, you soar up to the peaks, the mood of elation is on you... And then it may be inevitable that after such peaks you must descend into the valleys, through the mood of depression." That's dialogue! In a book! On the next page, Kay says, "It's just as you said, you were blessing me with your body." And Vic replies, "Now I know what mystics are." Ha ha ha! Whew. Oh brother! Boy oh boy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kay Was Afire With Love

I just have to share some - and man I'm leaving a lot out! - of the love chapter of THE HUCKSTERS, our current Doomed Book Club selection: "'My love,' she said... 'You're my love.' 'Yes,' he said. 'Yes. Yes.' 'Oh yes, my love...' And love rose dreamily up with them and with them left the sea, and went back with them down the wondrous boulevard. [!!! - ed.] Kay was afire with love... She whispered dazedly [Dazedly! Whispered dazedly! - ed.] 'My love... Just think, my love... you're like an artery. [Ha ha! Yes, just think! - ed.] Just touching your shoulder. It's like an artery pumping..." If you say so, lady! Vic helpfully adds, "Lots of people live and die without ever being in love. Millions of them." He is always putting things into perspective and bringing everybody down with his wise gloom. And Kay responds, "I know. I see it in their faces. They don't know about love. Their ignorance is in their faces." Wow! Because oh yeah I forgot to tell you, one thing about Vic is that he does everything right and everybody else does everything wrong and that includes being in love.

Early Langford Warning

Hi! Do you like art and punk rock and things that are great? I thought so! ONE WEEK FROM TODAY (March 1) you will want to come see "Blog" Buddy Jon Langford of Mekons and Waco Brothers fame playing LIVE IN PERSON on the Thacker Mountain Radio program at Off Square Books at 6 PM. FOR FREE! Get there early! In fact, why don't you head over RIGHT NOW? Some of Jon's artwork will thereafter be displayed at the nearby Southside Gallery and Jon will probably stand there too and let you examine him, an authentic Welshman. Then I understand that Friday night March 2 Mr. Langford will play a show at local sushi emporium Two Stick. Get all the Langford you can while you can!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Scandalous Marriage to a Cement Tycoon

Today's New York Times has an obituary of a woman "who vaulted to fame after her scandalous marriage to a cement tycoon."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Of Gorce

"Sometimes the only thing in the world that doesn't bore me is listening to bores." Yes! All right! That's Sally Jay Gorce in THE DUD AVOCADO by Elaine Dundy. Makes me think of what Sun Ra said about peach pie. Also, Sally Jay's cousin blinks "like an owl," making THE DUD AVOCADO another book with an owl in it. I know you are disappointed because our last two books, DR. SAX and NORWOOD, had real owls in them, but sometimes you have to settle for an owl in a simile, kids. That's something you have to face as you go through life.

How Vic Talks on a Date

Here is a typical line from THE HUCKSTERS, our current Doomed Book Club selection: "'Vic,' she repeated, marveling at this stranger who seemed to know all her thoughts." You recall how everyone is marveling at Vic all the time. But here is how Vic talks on a date: "The sea is a fighter... It must hate the land with some baffled hysterical hate." That's Vic on a date!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Oh No I Didn't

Hey remember when Mack Sennett starred in the big Broadway hit PIFF! PAFF!! POUFF!!!? Well, I thought you would be interested to know that the very same play is referenced in the film THE SEVEN LITTLE FOYS. No I didn't. I really didn't think you'd be interested in that. And I guess you don't care that I once dated a Russian major who taught me a nursery rhyme about a rabbit who is shot by a hunter and comes back to life. It includes the lines, "Piff! Pouff! Oy yoy yoy!" I think that's the part where the rabbit gets shot.

Oatmeal Tips

Welcome once again to our hit feature "Oatmeal Tips." You know how I like a good obituary headline. It would be nice to have the phrase "rowed across oceans" in your obituary headline, the way this guy does in the New York Times today. Select lines from the obit (written by Margalit Fox) include "A professional astrologer, she is his only immediate survivor" and "At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol... At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate" and "Desperate for female company, he talked ardently to the planet Venus." Jerry Lewis is back in the New York Times too - finally! - as Dave Kehr reviews three new video releases. He makes some of those big Jerry-based pronouncements I always love, calling the break-up with Dean, for example, "a national trauma in the 1950s, as well as a personal one." Elsewhere in the paper, A.O. Scott calls Bob Hope "hip" (!) and "paradigmatic" (!!) and Manohla Dargis mocks him for it. Oh, I suppose you are waiting for the oatmeal tip. Well, when that guy rowed across the ocean, his provisions included "Spam, oatmeal, brandy." Oatmeal! It will help you row across an ocean.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Locked Drawer

"Click" here for a crazy little article about Charlie Chaplin, which includes the paragraph "Christopher Andrew, the official historian of MI5, told Reuters that there was also no evidence to support the more recent claim that Chaplin was born in a caravan in central England to a woman known as 'the Gypsy Queen,' as suggested in a letter sent to Chaplin a few years before his death in 1977 and discovered last year in a locked drawer of his bureau." You'll also notice the New York Times commenter who writes a limerick about practically everything in the New York Times. He's the bane of my existence! And yet if he went away I guess I'd miss him and anyway he's just doing his thing. He's not hurting anybody. Lay off!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Multiple Satin Clown Pants

Just watched the first few minutes of THE SEVEN LITTLE FOYS (directed by Mel Shavelson) dvr'd from TCM. I can feel you not caring! But a woman painted a smile on Bob Hope's face, saying, "Clowns should be happy... Now you can be sad, miserable, mean, horrible, whatever you wish. On the outside you are happy!" That makes THE SEVEN LITTLE FOYS another sad clown movie to add to our tally. Oh yeah? How do you spend your day? I got this image from a site where you can bid on Bob Hope's original clown pants from THE SEVEN LITTLE FOYS. See also. Here's part of the description: "The cream wool pants with multi-colored satin polka-dots comes complete with the original Paramount label sewn inside with 'Double Bob Hope' handwritten in faded blue ink. (due to there being complex action and fire during the sequence, Hope would have had multiple pants for filming)." I think what they're avoiding is that Bob Hope's double wore these clown pants. Still a great bargain!

Possum Face

Remember when that possum made that face at me? Now you can practically see it for yourself thanks to Dyna Moe and her "Hipster Animals." "Click" here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Old Owl Face

Megan Abbott points out that Eddie Bracken is referred to on imdb as "the owl-faced comic actor." Now is that nice? (See also. Urgent!)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Shimmering Follicles, Velvet Pancakes

Megan Abbott reports of her copy of our current Doomed Book Club selection, "whenever you lift the book, turn a page, or look at it with a squinty eye, crumbling paper follicles shimmer off it, into your hands." The Hollywood producer who really exists has the same hardcover edition, "follicles and all," the cover of which he says "depicts a Fritz Lang-esque metro landscape with skyscraper against an orange sky. Chilling." Incidentally, he breakfasted this morning on "red and blue velvet pancakes." RED AND BLUE VELVET PANCAKES! That's how they do it in Hollywood, baby. The cover illustration of my mass-market paperback shows Vic Norman in his suspenders, with cigarette and black tousled hair, working hard on writing an ad in his private train compartment, despite a woman in a silk robe fiddling with the radio and trying to scooch up next to him.

The Smells Continue

You thought I was joking about Vic Norman's extraordinary sense of smell. Well, think again! He can even tell whose nightclub he's in by smelling it. "'Who owns it?' Vic sniffed the air. 'Frankie Powell?'" When this is confirmed, Vic continues: "I been in so many of these joints, I can smell the ownership. These retired racketeers keep changing the names, but they can't change the smell." Most of the rest of the book is various characters telling Vic Norman how amazing and incredible he is.

Phil Has a Real Job

Here is a picture of Phil holding up his copy of THE JAZZ SINGER starring Jerry Lewis. As you can see from the cover, Jerry appears to be a sad clown in this one (as usual), not a jazz singer. I wonder what's going on with that! Maybe you can be both! Like a volunteer fireman who is also an astronaut! In fact, "click" here for some evidence on the subject. Well, soon I will find out; my copy has also arrived. But I have forsworn "blogging" about it until Phil gets a chance to watch it, which may be a long time from now, because Phil has a real job, unlike the rest of us.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ersatz Rory vs. The Zenorb

Elizabeth has been watching the shoe factory show (no longer about a shoe factory) so finally I have someone with whom to talk about it. We are upset by the budding romance between some creepy politician and ersatz Rory (pictured at the coffee shop where she used to work and they made her dress up like Bazooka Joe of bubble gum fame - with her mom, Lorelai Gilmore). "He's like a zenorb (made up word)," Elizabeth points out in reference to the creepy idealistic (?) politician. She's right! He is like a zenorb. And not to put disturbing imagery in your mind but he resembles a waxy, powdered corpse! SORRY. I decided to check "Google" to see whether anyone besides Elizabeth had made up the word zenorb by coincidence. There were plenty of matches for "zen orb" - I need to find out what a zen orb is! Sounds like a great gift idea - plus "Google" asked me "Did you mean zorb?" Ha ha ha! I love it when "Google" asks me things. No I did not mean zorb. ("Click" here for the real Rory building a house.)

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Weeping Unicorn

"Click" here for chapter 10 of my sprawling fantasy epic, presented by the friendly folks at the Vice magazine. Just 990 chapters to go! If this were an old Marvel comic book instead of a chapter of my sprawling fantasy epic, there would be a splashy blurb on the cover reading "TODAY... A UNICORN WEEPS!"

This Guy Smells

Reading THE HUCKSTERS very slowly because not all the Doomed Book Club members have their copies yet. So far the hero goes around smelling everybody. First he smells the "rich smell" of New York City women: "the most beautiful, desirable women in the world." "Rich smell" made me think of gumbo! My secret Hollywood friend said it reminded him of Mitt Romney. I wonder whether those desirable women smelled more like gumbo or Mitt Romney. It doesn't matter. By the next page, he has moved on to smelling the guy who sells him a thirty-five dollar tie. The tie salesman smells too good and the book pauses for a dash of homophobia as the narrator reflects upon the implications of a good smelling man. By page 11 our protagonist is smelling the smell of his cushy new job: "He sniffed. 'What's that perfume smell? It's the same in all the offices.'" If my math is correct, this book should work out to be 25% smells! And with his rapid rise in the business world, I feel certain our man Vic Norman will soon be smelling potentates and kings! Ironically, Kelly Hogan's copy of THE HUCKSTERS smells like mildew. Is that irony? I never know.

Monday, February 06, 2012


Here's a little something from the "front matter" of THE HUCKSTERS: "'I won't lure any woman into the same trap I'm in,' he told Jean... Jean of the bright red hair, and the thirty-dollar brassieres." Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! It's the "of" that makes it funny. And the dramatic comma. As we know from the previous "post" the protagonist has a thirty-five dollar tie. This author is really interested in clothes that cost around thirty dollars.

The Toughest Old Tyrant Who Ever Sold Soap

Today was a great mail day! Nothing ever comes in the mail but today everything came in the mail. A magazine! A package of goodies from Kelly Hogan and maybe I will tell you about it sometime. A check for a short story I forgot I wrote! Plus an out-of-print mass-market paperback for the Doomed Book Club! It's a 1940s novel about the fast-paced world of advertising: THE HUCKSTERS by Frederic Wakeman. Here is part of what it says about our protagonist on the back: "He got a hand-painted tie at thirty-five bucks... And the respect of the toughest old tyrant who ever sold soap... He got Marguerite... and Connie... and glamorous red-headed Jean. He got everything a man could want... but he didn't know what he wanted. Not till he met Kay, cool, blonde, lovely Kay. Then he knew what he wanted but didn't know how to get it!"

Hay Movie

Far too seldom do we get to enjoy hay-based entertainment. Last night's viewing of FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD on TCM had plenty of hay to go around. Twice Alan Bates expresses his love for Julie Christie by saving her hay - once from fire and once from flood. Meanwhile, in the second instance, her no-good husband is sleeping in some other hay like a jerk. Now I would like to move on to corn. Julie Christie goes to the grain exchange - I guess that is what you call it - to buy some corn to plant. Some dude tries to sell her some inferior corn, but she is no sucker. She takes a handful of his crummy corn and cheerfully tosses it in the air, causing quite a little ruckus down at the old grain exchange. Peter Finch sees her tossing the corn - in fact, he sees her toss the corn in slow motion, which means that he is in love! Scorsese quotes extensively from this scene in CASINO, when Sharon Stone tosses the chips in the air with the same carefree demeanor in slow motion as De Niro watches from another angle and falls in love. I know you don't care! Leave me alone. I have some other interesting thoughts but I'm going to keep them to myself and then you'll be sorry.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Hot Tip

From Phil came the hot tip that the Jerry Lewis version of THE JAZZ SINGER is out on dvd as of Feb. 7. ORDER YOURS TODAY.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

What Old Maniac

I guess it won't shock you to learn that DR. SAX, like all worthwhile books, has an owl in it: "What owls? hoos and voodoos in the midnight? What old maniac in white hair is come to pluck the rusty piano springs in a maze of midnight?" Those are great questions, Jack Kerouac! I am going to look into them and get right back to you. On another subject, I just happened to see the opening to Mike Huckabee's talk show on the Fox News channel and guess what? Tonight he is interviewing a ventriloquist's dummy! You think I am making that up yet I am not.

"Blog" Mail "Bag"

Time once again to dig into the "Blog" Mail "Bag." Email from Burke! Mostly filled with interesting things he says should not go on the "blog," but also a TV promo he has been meaning to tell me about for some time: "America's number one New Year's resolution is... REVENGE."

Jackie Treehorn

I am sorry to hear about Ben Gazzara. He did a lot of great things. Never gave him a fair shake on the "blog." Somehow always mentioned his lesser roles: the bad guy in ROAD HOUSE, that skit he did with Jerry Lewis, made-for-TV potboiler WHEN MICHAEL CALLS, etc. I'm sorry, Ben Gazzara.

Vampire Canon

Oh yeah and DR. SAX has a vampire in it, or several. So Kerouac wrote a vampire novel! I never knew. And Faulkner had that vampire script. "Twentieth-Century Dracula: Vampirism as Metaphor in Canonical American Authors." Somebody get to work on that. In DR. SAX, blood is a drug, and the vampires call it "B." Isn't that similar to the plot of the TV show TRUE BLOOD? I could walk in the other room and ask Dr. Theresa. I could.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Boom Boom Boom

For no reason I suddenly recalled a song that used to play on the radio when I was in the carpool on the way to elementary school and the chorus went chicka boom chicka boom don't you just love it, chicka boom chicka boom don't you just love it, chicka boom chicka boom don't you just love it, chicka boom chicka boom boom boom. Except on the first and third iteration it was "DON'T you just love it" and on the second it was "don't YOU just love it" because of the syncopation or something. And now I have just looked for the song on the "internet" and am pleased to be able to transcribe the opening verse for you, which I had forgotten, but now it is all coming back to me: "Last night I had a crazy dream/ About a chick in a black bikini/ She looked so good she couldn't be real/ She must have been a magic genie." Goodness there is so much to say! "What other kind of genie could there be?" is one thing to say. "Of course if she appeared in a dream she wasn't real," is another. And those are the only things to say.

Anthropoid Dogs Walking Erect

Rereading Charles Portis's NORWOOD for a class I am teaching. Like all great books, it has an owl in it. "That night a suicidal owl flew into the windshield but didn't break it and later they saw a house or a barn burning out in an open field." I guess you have been worried because it has been a long stretch since I have read a book with an owl in it. But now NORWOOD by Charles Portis can go on our big long interesting list of books with owls in them ("click" here to review). Here are Norwood and his betrothed enjoying some comic books: "She read about a miser duck called Uncle Scrooge, and his young duck nephews, whose adventures took place in a city where all the bystanders, the figures on the street, were anthropoid dogs walking erect. Norwood read about Superman and the double-breasted-suited Metropolis underworld. It was a kryptonite story and not a bad one." When he finishes his comic book, Norwood reflects on Superman's effectiveness in different media: "It looks all right when you're reading it. I didn't believe none of it on television." Rita Lee replies, "You're not supposed to really believe it." And Norwood says, "You're supposed to believe it a little bit. I didn't believe none of it." There's something great on every page! For instance, the sound of whippoorwills spurs these thoughts: "How did two certain birds get together? And then what?"

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Analyzing McNeil

McNeil had a dream about "strike anywhere" matches. I analyzed it. I analyzed it real good!

Yes I Kiln

The LAFA SHOPPER came in the mail yesterday, or was it the day before? You know what the LAFA SHOPPER is: it's a thin local paper, free, mostly classified ads, and I love it. Past highlights include a story about a dead hog in the road and "Vacation Bible School Approaching Fast." Don't forget that actually very pretty piece about bitterweed. In this issue the editor is baffled because people keep sending him emails about kilns: "Do I have one? Do I need one? Can I find one? - et cetera," he summarizes. But he knows nothing about kilns. As he explains, "Throughout my life, I have seen or heard (or thought) the word 'kiln' MAYBE once every 10 years." (Caps his.) But at the end of the column he gives in. Okay, if you need a kiln, he knows where some kilns are. Get in touch. The editorial is entitled "Please, Kiln You Help?" Ha ha ha ha ha ha! And that is why I love the LAFA SHOPPER.