Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rare Dramatic Role

So I sat down with a bowl of leftover noodles to watch the Paul Anka voyeurism movie (!) I dvr'd from TCM. It's called LOOK IN ANY WINDOW (!!). In Robert Osborne's intro to the movie, he cited its "rare dramatic role" for Paul Anka and noted that LOOK IN ANY WINDOW costars Micky Dolenz's father! But best of all he said that Paul Anka sings the title song to LOOK IN ANY WINDOW over the opening credits. Well, I was just too excited to go on. I was eating lunch and thinking about what songs to play for my big DJ set at The End of All Music, and I didn't feel I could give the proper amount of concentration to LOOK IN ANY WINDOW, which would be one billion percent of my concentration. So I'm saving it for later. It has potential to go either way. Will LOOK IN ANY WINDOW be awesome like BEAT GIRL or a dud like MARDI GRAS starring Pat Boone? That remains the central question of our times.

Hot News From Chicago

At last! Our friend Judge is back with another installment of the exclusive "blog" series "Hot News From Chicago." Judge stalks the streets of Chicago, looking for hot news - in photographic form! She calls this beauty "Scary Gyros." But not all the hot news is from Chicago all the time. For example, don't forget I am going to "DJ" at The End of All Music today, right here in Oxford, Mississippi. My "set" starts at "two o'clock." Speaking of "hot," today's high is supposed to be 104, so come watch my records melt as part of the spectacle. The friendly folks at The End of All Music are having a big record sale today, too. But take your purchases straight home! Don't leave them in the car while you run in the grocery store for a couple of things. It's hot! To read more about me being hot, "click" here for the time I got hot in Arizona. Hot!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Some Orange Cat

Ace Atkins came over and we watched the Burt Reynolds movie SHAMUS. Finally! We tried to watch it several months ago but the dvd turned out to be cracked. Then Ace went away on a huge book tour and the seasons changed and people grew old and we all thought it would never happen. But tonight it did! Was it worth the wait? Gee. I guess not. We were pretty excited because Morris the Cat is one of the stars of SHAMUS. He's listed by name in the credits and everything (though not above Dyan Cannon as erroneously reported on the "blog"). And as you recall, Ace has a history with Morris the Cat. When he was employed by a bookstore, he once hosted a book signing for Morris the Cat! But before the movie tonight, Ace dropped a bombshell on us: "It wasn't really Morris, you know," he said. "It was some orange cat." It gives me no pleasure to report that Morris the Cat was terrible in this movie! He doesn't even show up for the first half hour or more. And then he does nothing but sit around. We're an hour into the movie before we see him a second time. Then he shows up in the last scene, to eat. He's really overweight. It's a sad display. The plot of SHAMUS is almost impossible to understand. "And I do this for a living," said Ace. Dr. Theresa claimed that the plot of SHAMUS did not put her to sleep, but her face was notably turned away from the television as she reclined on the love seat. She revived herself for THE LONG GOODBYE, which we watched after SHAMUS as an antidote - to see a detective movie starring a cat who can really act! The cat in the first scene of THE LONG GOODBYE is magnificent. I can swear that a long time ago Ace assured me that cat was Morris. It is not Morris. I think SHAMUS and THE LONG GOODBYE came out within a year of each other. But the cat in THE LONG GOODBYE is lithe, active, and expressive. Nothing like Morris! He seems to have a real relationship with Elliott Gould. "Robert Altman probably made them hang out together," mused Ace. Later, in an emotional night scene at the beach, a dog performs some dramatic business. "Where's that dog's award?" Ace demanded. Oh I forgot to tell you there's a character in SHAMUS named Lieutenant Colonel C.C. Hardcore. When the name first came up I thought it was some kind of obvious pseudonym that was going to be a clue. But it wasn't. That was just the character's name. And they weren't trying to be funny or anything. PS I dvr'd something off of TCM but nobody wanted to watch it with me tonight. It's a movie about voyeurism starring Paul Anka. And look, one of his big hit songs was called "Lonely Boy." Is that funny? I can't tell anymore. I just picked the picture because it looked creepy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lest We Take the "Internet" For Granted

I've said it many times, but the "internet" truly has everything. "Click" here for a painstakingly detailed summary of that WALTONS episode about poltergeists.

TV Time!

Hey you know what's on TV right now? A rerun of THE WALTONS. It's about poltergeist activity at the Walton house! In case you don't remember THE WALTONS, it was not usually about poltergeists. It was about, "Land sakes! What will I do with this extra loaf of bread I baked?" But this episode is about poltergeists! Mrs. Walton reads about poltergeists from a big book to a skeptical Mr. Walton. And then a rag doll stands up on its own legs while the wind blows eerily! Last night I happened to see a small portion of a reality show about Sarah Palin's daughter. That is something else appearing on television. From what I understood, Sarah Palin's daughter had moved to Los Angeles, where, according to Sarah Palin's daughter's voiceover, there are people from "all walks of life." For some reason, the producers or editors of the show thought it would be great to cut to footage of a breakdancer to illustrate people from "all walks of life." Ha ha! Then Sarah Palin's daughter said, "It's super scary here."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sizzling Celebrity Gossip

Welcome friends once more to "Sizzling Celebrity Gossip," the one place on the "internet" that sizzles and zazzles with the hottest celebrity gossip of the sizzling variety. Today we have a special "Ex-Cousin by Marriage" edition of "Sizzling Celebrity Gossip." Or maybe it's a "Silvery Snakelike Hair" edition. ITEM! Megan Abbott and I have been talking about Manny Farber a lot, especially pondering why he hates everything so much - and other complicated aspects of our troubled relationship with Manny Farber! But maybe Jonathan Rosenbaum says it better: "Some of the most authentic moments in Farber’s criticism... are those in which you can’t be sure whether he’s praising or ridiculing the subject before him." As an example, Rosenbaum uses part of a review in which Farber postulates that Lee Marvin's presence in POINT BLANK "hardly matters. His blocklike snoutlike nose makes itself felt, also the silvery snakelike hair that doesn’t look like hair." Etc.! Read the whole Rosenbaum article by "clicking" here. "Farber’s most characteristic method is to pile these observations on top of one another, or juxtapose them in a disordered heap on the flat surface of a page," writes Rosenbaum. "To say that they go nowhere would miss the point; in point of fact they go everywhere." ITEM! Scott Phillips reports that his ex-cousin by marriage - a star of TV's THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL! - appeared on an episode of CELEBRITY GHOST STORIES. All right! That's it for today. See you next time with more "Sizzling Celebrity Gossip"!

Monday, June 25, 2012


Welcome once again to McNeilileaks, where we leak the contents of McNeil's emails. "Click" here for a typically enigmatic "link" from a McNeil email. In a separate missive, McNeil asks, "Don't you remember me telling you about the idea I had for music television when I was a kid? But instead of music videos it was just a DJ in a booth playing records?" McNeilileaks!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Secret Forbidden Room of Frank Whaley

Say, did you know there's a show called CELEBRITY GHOST STORIES? Well, I wouldn't lie to you, there is! (See also.) It's up there on one of those channels I forget about. On this show celebrities tell their celebrity ghost stories that they say really happened to them in their real celebrity lives. Last night I guess Rowdy Roddy Piper and Frank Whaley were the celebrities, but I missed Rowdy Roddy Piper's ghost story and came in while Frank Whaley was in the middle of a corker! Details included a creepy old doll, some actual ectoplasm, and a secret forbidden room! "I told you never to go in that room," an old man warns Frank Whaley. But Frank Whaley went in the room.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Got That Out of My System

Okay I think I'm done "posting" photos of the cat looking at the fish.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cat, Fish

This cat (lower right hand corner) has been looking at this fish all evening.

The Sad Clown Variations

You know, I guess I should mention that my definition of a sad clown is somewhat different (narrower?) than Bruce Handy's. Shouldn't I mention that? Shouldn't I? Isn't that a thing I should mention? It certainly wouldn't make me seem crazy, belaboring a point about sad clowns, that's one thing on which we can certainly agree. Another thing I should do is "post" this video (below) that I should have "posted" with the last "post."

Welcome Fish

The fish I promised to take care of has arrived and now I have to take care of it. Happily! The fish seems to make a lot of noise, which I didn't expect. Do fish usually make noise? Here is a picture of the fish. The fishbowl is like THE WIRE for cats! They can't stop watching it. But don't worry. Below I will "post" a more panoramic view of the fish's new home - the mantel in my office - so you can see that it is inaccessible, like one of those inaccessible fortresses they are always yammering about on GAME OF THRONES. Shadowy presence in the foreground is a cat.

Conversation With a Dog

Hey over on the VANITY FAIR "web" site this writer Bruce Handy makes a convincing case for Steve Carrell as the newest sad clown (to be specific, Handy calls him a "sad-sack, moist-eyed-clown") and you know how interested the "blog" is in sad clowns. I only bring it up because - well, I bring it up for the sad clown thing, but the other reason I bring it up is I watched as much as I could stand of CRAZY, STUPID LOVE on TV the other night and that was the only movie I have ever not liked. It was one of Steve Carrell's sad clown movies as catalogued by Bruce Handy. You know the "blog" is relentlessly cheery and I hate to talk about things I don't like, but there it is. I mean, I was even enjoying EDDIE MACON'S RUN, the bits and pieces of it I saw on TV last night. When I tuned in, Kirk Douglas was doing push-ups and having a conversation with a dog. The cast was crazy! It had the serial killer from MANHUNTER in it, and the captain from LAW & ORDER: SVU, and J.T. Walsh, and John Goodman in what must have been one of his first roles. It also had this guy Jay O. Sanders (pictured), who I think has been in every episode of every variation of the LAW & ORDER franchise. The capsule description said it was about the title character escaping to Mexico with a "bored rich girl," but the so-called "bored rich girl" (who is actually a grown woman) doesn't come in until the last 30 minutes of the movie! So that seemed kind of like a spoiler. Here's another spoiler: Kirk Douglas's character is psychopathically obsessed with capturing Eddie Macon, but at the very end HE SUDDENLY LETS HIM GO FOR NO REASON AS FAR AS I CAN TELL. It would be like if at the end of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN Javier Bardem's character just said, "Ah, whatever." As I watched EDDIE MACON'S RUN I thought it was probably based on LES MISERABLES, which made me feel like a real smart guy and I patted myself on the back until I was lulled into a peaceful slumber by my own patting of my own back.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

And Lo! A Ham Sandwich

You know I always like to tell you when the New York Times mentions Jerry Lewis. But today A.O. Scott makes the dumb statement that the French love Jerry Lewis. You know how I hate that dumb statement, which means nothing. But from A.O. Scott! Who should know better. It really smarts. Let's stay positive! There was an article about automats in the New York Times the other day, and it contained a phrase I really liked, taken from an early 20th-century newspaper account: "and lo! a ham sandwich or a peach dumpling is his for the taking."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fish Update

The fish is okay, folks! Whew. Bill Boyle has it. We're going to arrange a handoff. More fish updates as they occur. Keep it tuned to the "blog"!

Elongated Lunch

Long lunch with Tom Franklin. All our lunches are long. We talked about the Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin movie THAT'S MY BOY (not to be confused with the current Adam Sandler movie of the same title), Tom's favorite. He said it came on unexpectedly one morning when (as a kid) he was supposed to be in church. "Worth more than all the sermons I ever heard," he said. Then we talked a lot about superheroes, including The Elongated Man. Tom couldn't stop laughing about The Elongated Man sticking his elongated ear down a chimney to hear the bad guys' plans. "Look! An ear in the chimney!" Tom recalled the bad guys saying. That's what made Tom laugh so much he could barely tell me.

Oatmeal Tips

Welcome once again to "Oatmeal Tips," your place on the "web" for oatmeal tips. TODAY! Elizabeth Kaiser talks about oatmeal on the Oxford American "web" site. "Click" here! She detects a note of cypress. Plus there is an actual oatmeal tip, which I think I am quoting correctly: "Nerves attack? Try oatmeal." Also on the OA "web" site, my good neighbor Dent May is interviewed. You can see his crazy house I told you about. Above, that's the stage to which I witnessed poor Grimes carrying heavy objects with her twig-like arms one fateful night. Check out Dent's new album! Check out Kelly Hogan's new album! Check out everybody's new album. Why not Grimes? Check out her album too! It's pretty new. Check out everybody's album. Everybody has a new album. Check it out. Goodbye from "Oatmeal Tips"! Goodbye forever.

What Happened to the Fish?

I think my friends moved to Mexico without dropping off the fish I promised to take care of. I hope the fish is okay! I feel like I really let that fish down. I'm a jerk.

Suggestive of Rabies

Okay I want to keep talking about the long-playing record TEENAGERS LOVE THE TWINS JIM AND JOHN, specifically the song "Bubble-ee Bubble-ee Bubble Gum," specifically the line "Every time I kiss her bubbly lips my heart does flippity flop." Let us put aside the bubbly lips, which are, of course, suggestive of rabies. Why "does"? "My heart GOES flippity flop" might make more immediate sense. But the choice of "does" elevates the phrase. It has the quality, almost, of a Shakespearean "doth." Shoot, it occurs to me as I type that the singer is probably singing, "My heart does flippity flops," considerably less poetic. I should listen again. Maybe I should "live tweet" as I listen to the whole album again. That is something to do with a portion of the time left to me on this earth.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bubble Gum Gas Leak

I bought this LP (above) at The End of All Music on Sunday. Jimmy, who was working, played it for me in the store and I think there was a gas leak. We were entranced and giddy! I can't remember laughing so hard in a while. In wonder, not mockery! Gas leak. We couldn't stop laughing. RIGHT NOW I am listening to "Bubble-ee Bubble-ee Bubble Gum," the lead-off track on side 2. Sample lyrics: "Bubble-ee bubble-ee gum dah-di-ah-dah-doo." And "Bubble-ee Bubble-ee Bubble Gum, I love you 'deed I do." And "Call my baby Bubble Gum." And "Every time I kiss her bubbly lips [!!!- ed.] my heart does flippity-flop." They give their home address on the back of the record (21 Charles Street, Hicksville, Long Island) but according to "internet" "research" they are presently in "rural Arkansas" ("Jim and I have very different lives and pursuits," writes John, which makes me melancholy for some reason.) Now I am listening to a song that goes, "She looks like her/ She talks like her/ And believe it or not/ She walks like her." I am not sure why if she looks and talks like her it would be so incredibly hard to believe she walks like her. A tang of desperation to the album title? TEENAGERS LOVE THE TWINS JIM AND JOHN sounds squarely (in all senses) addressed to the parents, and likely to drive away discriminating teens. The song titles are generally demanding and aggressive, belying the sweetness of the delivery: "Give Me Your Picture" - "You Know You Love It" - "I Want a Girl" - "Together Forever." And this one is for Jon Host (he knows why and so do you): The singer, asking to be given "one more chance," is reassured thusly by the background singers: "I will I will I will I will I will I will I will I will I will I will I will I really will really will."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ventriloquist Spoilers

I don't think I am the only one who would frame it like this: "Did you know that the ventriloquist Paul Winchell invented the artificial heart?" Now, I don't know why it isn't more natural to say, "Did you know artificial heart inventor Paul Winchell was also a ventriloquist?" I guess I could say he was more famous as a ventriloquist, and that's why we say it that way, but we live in an age without ventriloquists (I'm not counting that one ventriloquist) and you have no idea what I'm talking about, do you? During my lunch with Michael Kupperman, he told me a lot of things from the autobiography of Paul Winchell he had read. So go no further if you don't want spoilers! I don't want to ruin Paul Winchell's autobiography for you. I know it's on your nightstand. But Michael Kupperman said that Paul Winchell had some trouble with mental illness, and he was in such a manic state while working on his artificial heart that his wife seriously feared he was creating something to put into his ventriloquist dummies to bring them to life! Paul Winchell cured his mental illness by confronting his MOTHER'S GHOST at her GRAVE on the anniversary of her DEATH! The sky opened up but I forget what kinds of visions Michael Kupperman told me came out of it. "And at the end of the book, he's cured," said Michael Kupperman, somewhat skeptically, I thought. From now on I am only going to "blog" about things Michael Kupperman told me at lunch. (Pictured, the head of Jerry Mahoney, Paul Winchell's best-known dummy.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Secret Doomed Project

I hope you weren't worried about me! What? You didn't notice I was gone? Shut up! I'm sick of that old gag. Anyway I was having fun hanging out with Kat Kinsman! Amanda Stern! Maud Newton! And many more! What's that you say? These people reside in New York City? That's right! THAT'S WHERE I WAS. Once I was just standing around and someone said, "Jack Pendarvis?" And by utter coincidence it was Jason Polan, the guy who illustrates my columns for THE BELIEVER, a person I had never met before! And you remember how he is drawing everyone in New York, right? Well, I was in New York, so he drew me, so you can see the picture by "clicking" here. It was strange to just run into somebody in New York, even stranger than the time I saw Mike Bulington at LAX. Speaking of Los Angeles, I got off the plane in New York, hopped in a cab, went straight to a movie theater, and met Megan Abbott in the lobby. It was prearranged! Not a coincidence. We walked in and sat down and IMMEDIATELY the movie started playing. SUNSET BOULEVARD. Perfect timing! Afterward Megan said that the older she gets, the more she realizes that THERE IS NOTHING AT ALL WRONG WITH NORMA DESMOND. I thought about how last time I was in a big city watching an old movie on a big screen it was THE APARTMENT. So when I was in L.A. I watched a Billy Wilder movie about New York and when I was in New York I watched a Billy Wilder movie about L.A.! So that's boring. Shut up! I took my trip to "The Big Apple" to work on a secret project that failed and maybe I will tell you about my interesting failure one day, thanks for asking. I met Michael Kupperman for lunch and he told me he had read two mystery paperbacks by the actor George Kennedy, about mysteries being solved by the actor George Kennedy! That was a highlight of the trip. Mr. Ward and I had a drink at the bar in the St. Regis. I know in my heart that it is dumb to drink in a hotel bar but it was raining pretty hard and there we were. The bar is dark and oaken and the kind of place you can pretend to be a character on MAD MEN, okay, a minor character, okay, a background extra. The waiter seldom appears and when he does it is only to TAKE AWAY your complimentary wasabi peas or bring you the check that hilariously alerts you a single Manhattan with rye costs $31 in the bar at the St. Regis hotel. One day I saw Bill Cunningham on the sidewalk in his trademark outfit with his trademark camera and in delight I shouted out "Mr. Cunningham!" but his look of fierce concentration, locked on the footwear of passersby, gave no quarter. And then the next day I saw Bill Cunningham again and I thought oh well maybe everybody in New York sees Bill Cunningham every day.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bean Soup Controversy

Hey guess what I finished that LBJ bio and you didn't think I could do it, jerk. Toward the end he forces a guy to "eat a plate of bean soup at a White House luncheon out of pure delight in the exercise of authority." And guess what else? It was the SAME sad fat man he forced to ride a horse that time. I won't keep you in suspense, it was Pierre Salinger. Boy, LBJ really enjoyed playing tricks on Pierre Salinger. That's what I learned.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Jerry Is Hamlet

Having watched five Jerry Lewis movies in the last few days I can tell you that Hamlet's soliloquies pop up in THE NUTTY PROFESSOR and JUMPING JACKS. In the latter, Jerry does a little of "O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!" I like to tell you things.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Rewriting His Own Being

Rereading my favorite book about Jerry Lewis - the one by Chris Fujiwara. He mentions the same tendency I noted about Lewis's character in THE LADIES MAN (pictured). The way Fujiwara puts it: "Herbert comments on his own reactions and his own situation." Fujiwara even cites, as I did, "the skin of his back caught in the crack of the door." Now that's a sight gag you can FEEL! In the very same paragraph, Fujiwara comments on the sort of dialogue in THE PATSY that fascinates me. It has, he writes, "a rapidly self-correcting, self-denying quality, as if the Lewis character were rewriting his own being and commenting on the process of doing so." Fujiwara!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

No Jokes From Jerry

Watching THE PATSY again and thinking about how Jerry Lewis never does jokes. A lot of comedians reel off the sharp, snappy quips, but there's nothing else in comedy like Jerry's loose streams of words. His character Stanley Belt, about to be included in a champagne toast (and tell me this isn't Joycean!): "These are the kind of glasses you throw in a fireplace and break so when they run away the lady can cry like Prince Valiant movies." (See also.) I'd say that Jerry's feelings about the traditional standup comedy "joke" predict Andy Kaufman's. That scene McNeil loves so much, when Stanley bombs onstage for several agonizing minutes, is indistinguishable in spirit and effect from the kind of thing Andy Kaufman later made his specialty.

Megan Abbott Is Right Again

Well, Megan Abbott was right about Manny Farber and Bob Hope. Farber's review says that Hope "creates a many-faceted character... Sometimes Hope gets feelings of deep distaste, disdain, into a single keen-eyed stare, a haughty quiver of his body, or a jutting of his leaden, underslung jaw a fraction of an inch in the direction of his victim... Hope's style... combines precision of timing with intellectual suppleness and finesse." Farber compares Hope, with his "elf-child's display of grace and roguish self-delight" (uh... !!!), to Nijinsky. Okay! Weirdly, the last time I mentioned Megan Abbott and Bob Hope, I firmly stated that he was NOT an elf.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

It Forced Itself

Watching the Jerry Lewis film THE LADIES MAN again... never mind why! Maybe a super secret reason I will tell you in a few months... WHO KNOWS? I'm sick of your constant prying! Jerry's character Herbert is looking at a butterfly collection. He claims to be an expert. He says, "This is a very lovely species here. This was once a frog." And Kathleen Freeman says, "A frog turned into a butterfly?" And Herbert says, "Well, it forced itself, I don't know." You really have to hear Jerry say it. His character has a funny habit of narrating his own mishaps, my favorite example being, "Oh, the skin of my back is caught in the crack of the door."

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Kelly Hogan Is Frank Sinatra

PLEASE NOTE: Despite the title of this "post," the nice man and lady pictured above are not Kelly Hogan and Frank Sinatra. Now that Hogan's album has finally come out officially and actually in the real world where we all really live in reality today I can talk about it all the time and tell you of all its many delightful hidden tantalizing secrets and sparkling golden nuggets of intriguing celestial mystery without getting in trouble from "the man." Like I can tell you that on one song (written for her by M. Ward), Hogan sings in character AS Frank Sinatra. And that song has maybe my favorite couplet on the whole record: "Playing dominoes with some princess in France/ French francs falling out of my pants." That's some couplet! Maybe it's the way Hogan sings it. It sounds good. The words sound good and it sounds good the way she sings it plus it just sounds like a good situation. This is all the more interesting given Hogan's ambivalent attitude toward Sinatra as first reported here on the very "blog" you see before you with your very own eyes that God gave you. Immediately after I heard that song of Hogan's I became powerfully moved to start listening to 1980s Frank Sinatra recordings, and that is how I found out that the first line of Hogan's song was inspired (I assume) by the first line of that weird Frank Sinatra devil song I told you about before. Now, as demanded by the government, I am supposed to mention that I received a free advance recording of this wonderful record I LIKE TO KEEP MYSELF IN PAIN by Kelly Hogan - now available at a store near you! Speaking of stores near you, I was at The End of All Music the other day and came across a 50s (I think) LP entitled EVERY INCH A SAILOR, which struck me as hilarious for some reason, and it had a song on it entitled Guantanamo Bay, but I still didn't buy it - I'm getting pretty good at not buying things.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Listen Up, Chumps

Don't forget! Tomorrow is the day when you have to buy Kelly Hogan's new album I LIKE TO KEEP MYSELF IN PAIN. According to the Washington Post, you HAVE to listen to "the wonders contained within this career high-water mark of a record." Uh, they also say that the song I cowrote with Andrew Bird for the record is "an organ-steeped meditation on the ravages of domestic violence." I did not know that! But it's a good review, so just buy the record, idiot.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Don't Worry!

I'm making good headway with this LBJ bio in case you were worried. Hey remember how I put aside the massive Sabbatai Sevi bio to read the LBJ bio? Turns out these two dudes have a lot in common! From the LBJ bio: "Lyndon Johnson's changes in mood had always been violent, veering from his sad, silent spells to the periods of almost frenzied euphoria that his aides called 'highs.'" From a contemporary account in SABBATAI SEVI: THE MYSTICAL MESSIAH: "he suffers anxieties that leave him constantly depressed and do not even permit him to read... he suffers until the anxiety departs from him, when he returns with great joy to his studies." Sometimes when he was in one of his happy moods, Sabbatai Sevi would do strange things: "One day he bought a very large fish, dressed it up like a baby, and put it into a cradle." Okay! Yeah, and LBJ might suddenly leap up on a wall or make a sad fat man ride a horse against his will.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

There Are Two Good Things on the "Internet"

Finally! There are some good things on the "internet." There is Scott Simon's terrific interview with "Blog" Buddy Kelly Hogan for the NPR. REVEALED! The secrets of Robyn Hitchcock's cashews. Also, the new Oxford American magazine is out, and on their newly revamped "web" site you can read Tom Franklin's tremendously beautiful remembrance of his late friend the great William Gay. So go look at those things by "clicking" on my "links" and then you may be excused from the "internet" forever. You're done!

No Easy Thing

I was at Off Square Books yesterday, where they sell the used books. I saw an old paperback titled SIR SCOUNDREL and I thought, Ha ha ha! They wanted three whole bucks for it and normally that's my kind of impulse buy, but not having money solves little problems like that so I borrowed a pen and a piece of scrap paper from Adam, the guy behind the counter, and jotted down the first sentence of SIR SCOUNDREL: "It is no easy thing to wake suddenly with a mouth full of moldering black earth and know that you are being buried alive." And I was like, "This guy is right! That IS no easy thing." After that there are a few more paragraphs in which the narrator describes being buried alive and then a paragraph that starts, "Until now it had been a time for rejoicing." Ha ha ha! Yes, being buried alive will put a crimp in your rejoicing every time. Oh, Sir Scoundrel! Truly you have jested your way into my heart.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Highly Anticipated Birkerts Notification

My new BELIEVER column is out today. Who cares? But hey remember when I promised to let you know if I ever used the idea that Sven Birkerts gave me for my BELIEVER column? No of course you don't, that would be a stupid thing to remember. But I keep my promises, even the stupid ones. ESPECIALLY the stupid ones. Yes, that day has finally come, America. Sven Birkerts and I saw someone hunkering and he told me I should write a column about hunkering and so I did. That was the first and last time I ever met Sven Birkerts but I do whatever he tells me and I think you'll agree someone should write a tedious two-person Off-Broadway show full of "ideas" about the encounter.

"Blog" Mail "Bag"

Time once again to check the old "Blog" Mail "Bag" and see what's going on inside there. Looks like my brother-in-law David has sent me an article ("click" here) about elves being relocated from their home in a boulder. In case you were wondering, an Icelandic government official is in charge of the move, natch! To quote the ICELAND REVIEW: "the elves will travel in a basket lined with sheep skin so that they can be comfortable on the journey." Okay! And speaking of Megan Abbott and Bob Hope (not that they are elves! We were speaking of them yesterday), Megan writes to let me know that the legendary film critic Manny Farber had very nice things to say about Bob's performance in OFF LIMITS. She's going to send more details later. All right! This has been another edition of "Blog" Mail "Bag." Have a great day! I love you!