Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pitcher Story

Here's a story Mom just told me on the telephone. So, 30 years ago there was this friend of Dad's at the house and he saw this pewter pitcher with a broken lid. He told Mom, "I have a friend who's a jeweler and he can fix this pitcher." So Mom said "Great!" and gave him the pitcher to take to his friend. So today, the same guy ran into Dad at the Waffle House. He said, "Hey, I have something for you." And he went out to his car and retrieved that pewter pitcher, which he had taken away 30 years ago and no one had spoken of since. It still wasn't fixed!

The Spock + Jerry Love Connection

McNeil reports that Leonard Nimoy's widow is Susan Bay, who portrayed Jerry Lewis's love interest in THE BIG MOUTH! Am I going to "fact-check" McNeil? I am not! And now I can "post" this picture of Leonard Nimoy holding a kitten that one of The Rock*A*Teens put on twitter.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Here's part of a paragraph from the "Cry-Babies" section of that book: "Other local terms for crying are: babbling (Whitehaven), blabbing (Lydney), blabbling (Derby), blabbering (Isle of Ely), blahing or blarting (Birmingham, Hanley, Wolverhampton), blaring (Norwich), bleating (Birmingham), moaning (the general term in Liverpool), and slobbering (Rochdale)." The paragraph continues for quite a while. I'll pick it up at the end: "In Scotland, as well as 'bubblin,' they speak of 'girnin' and, of course, 'greetin,' hence epithets like 'girnie bubbler,' 'girnie gowk,' and 'greetin-faced teenie.'" There's even more after that, but I just wanted to get "greetin-faced teenie" in there. I wonder what they thought of Paul Blart in Wolverhampton, ha ha ha, oh boy, are you with me?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Here's a sentence I like from that book I'm reading: "Popeye is still very much alive in oral tradition, but for some reason he chiefly features in verses which are obscene."


I got that 1959 book about the lore and language of schoolchildren I was telling you about. It's called THE LORE AND LANGUAGE OF SCHOOLCHILDREN. Chapter 10 is "Unpopular Children: Jeers and Torments." The "unpopular children" are divided into categories for discussion: Spoil-Sports, Sourpusses, Spitfires - Clever-Dicks - Dafties, Fools, and Dunces - Swankpots - Nosey Parkers - Stare-Cats - Cowards - Cry-Babies - Sneaks - Crawlers. The entry on swankpots begins, "Swankpots come in for stern disapproval."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love

I was in that used book stall I like today. I saw a book called GREAT PHILOSOPHERS WHO FAILED AT LOVE. Ha ha ha! I don't know why that made me laugh. And then I saw a book called THE HEAVENLY CITY OF THE 18TH-CENTURY PHILOSOPHERS but at first I thought it said THE HEAVYSET 18TH-CENTURY PHILOSOPHERS. Whew! Anyway, that was some day I had.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mama Said Knock You Out

My brother had his first ever boxing match the other night. He kayoed the other guy early in the second round. I couldn't tell you before because my brother hadn't told our mom that he was going to be in a boxing match. She worries!

Oscar Fever

Well, people, my little sister KILLED ME in our annual Oscar-guessing contest, breaking our three-year run of tie scores. Shame on her! Do want my "take" on the Oscars? Ha ha, me neither. Here it is! Did you see those Cadillac commercials? Because I am pretty sure that Dr. Theresa and I were standing right there on that corner in the rain, trying to hail a cab, while parts of those Cadillac commercials were being filmed. There's the high-fashion model! There's the rain on the cobblestones! There's the bar across the street from which I fetched Megan Abbott! There's the nearby movie theater where Dr. Theresa and I went to see SNOWPIERCER!

Friday, February 20, 2015

They Were Thinking About Matches

I am glad to tell you that my friend McNeil does indeed recall giving that report on the history of matches in eighth grade. He did it, he writes, because "I thought, 'Why not. No one else is going to do something like that.' And probably also because I felt, like most people, that no matter what topic I chose, I was going to feel awkward and the subject of mockery. But when I got to the podium, everyone listened intently - which caught me by surprise. I remember talking the talk, but I was thinking about how quiet they were all of a sudden and how they were thinking about matches. I could see it in their eyes. They were thinking about matches! I had them! Finally! It's been all downhill from there."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Street Jeers

Remember when buildings used to be shaped like things? I was out in California for ADVENTURE TIME work and Verdell suggested several places for dinner, including somewhere "shaped like a barrel." I needed to hear no more! So we went to the barrel. Verdell said, and I believe I'm paraphrasing okay, that there used to be lots of buildings shaped like funny things in Hollywood, and this barrel is one of the last ones - maybe the last one - still standing. So now it has been taken over and reopened by some enterprising youths or something. Standing outside the barrel, as you can maybe see from the photo Verdell took, was a bearded guy in suspenders, whose sole job was to tell entering customers that the kitchen was closed because it was a "soft opening." But the kitchen was not completely closed! They gave us four deviled eggs in a cast-iron skillet. I have to say I was offended on some philosophical level! Why would deviled eggs be associated with a cast-iron skillet? Perverse! Jay - a new character in our story! - speculated that the bacon crumbled on top of the deviled eggs was the link to the cast-iron skillet. Not good enough! So for actual dinner, Verdell and Jay and I went to the reliable Tam O'Shanter, where we ordered MORE DEVILED EGGS. Hey! I did all that part from memory. Now I must consult my famed book of famed jottings. 1. Before dinner I was down in the hotel lobby and I heard a guy telling his life story at the hotel bar (he almost had a love scene with Bo Derek once) and he turned out to be the guy who plays Squidward. AND he was reading a storyboard based on one of my SpongeBob scripts! Right there at the bar. That was a coincidence! 2. The next day I went to Skylight Books to meet Kent. There was supposed to be an ADVENTURE TIME writers meeting but we had all forgotten that it was President's Day and the office was closed. So I bought some stuff at Skylight while I was waiting for Kent and had it shipped to myself. I can't remember the title of this one book I got, but it was written in 1959 and collected and analyzed the rhymes, jokes, songs and stories that schoolchildren make up and circulate among themselves (I think that's right) and anyway I opened to a section called "Street Jeers" and for some reason I thought, "'Street Jeers'! Megan Abbott would love this book!" 3. Kent and I ate in a French restaurant next door to Skylight. We decided it would be real cute if we went to see 50 SHADES OF GREY, which was playing in the movie theater on the other side of Skylight Books. "It would be 'blog-ready,'" I proclaimed of the potential experience! And in truth there's a lot I could say about 50 SHADES OF GREY, but I just don't feel like it right now, sorry. 4. At the end of 50 SHADES OF GREY, when it cut to black, Kent turned to me and said, "Wanna go get some chicken wings?" Ha ha ha ha! Classic Osborne. We walked a block or two to a place called "Ye Olde Rustic Inn" on the sign, but which I believe Kent referred to colloquially as "The Rustic." It was 3 in the afternoon and pitch-dark inside and everybody in the joint was already sloshed out of their minds. Kent said they had the best chicken wings in Los Angeles and told me about a Christmas Eve he spent there eating chicken wings. Michael Jackson came on the jukebox and Kent and I discussed how sad we had been when Michael Jackson died. 5. We were walking everywhere, well, Kent was pushing his bike.
So as we were walking down Sunset Boulevard we came upon a big bus-stop poster of 50 SHADES OF GREY and Kent wanted to take my picture in front of it. He was disappointed that there was a glare on the slogan "CURIOUS?"... 6. The next day I went to work and had lunch with ADVENTURE TIME coworkers Tom Herpich and Adam Muto and Jesse Moynihan and of course Kent. Jesse said he liked my outfit! He didn't use the word "outfit." Also, we discussed society. Tom had some thoughts about the future of transportation. 7. Back to work! This time with some actors from ADVENTURE TIME: Hynden "Princess Bubblegum" Walch (who was telling Jeremy "Finn" Shada about the meaning of Lent) and Steve Little. You'll probably recognize him from EASTBOUND AND DOWN. Look, here's his picture. He does the voice of Peppermint Butler. You know just the other day I was at Square Books and a young woman who works there (her name is Miracle!) was telling me how Peppermint Butler is her favorite character... AND last time I saw Jimmy he was saying that he identified with Peppermint Butler.
Is there something going on in the zeitgeist with Peppermint Butler? Probably not. 8. Marceline came in. By which I mean Olivia Olson, who plays Marceline. Of all these folks, she was the one I'd never met. Kent forgot to introduce me! So she just breezed into the booth thinking I was probably some old weirdo who was hanging around. 9. A break in the recording session! I walked out and beheld a strange sight. Now, the recording studio is on the first floor of the building, but the windows are high up, and I saw a row of people standing on chairs and other objects in order to peek out the window. Pendleton Ward took this photo of the phenomenon:
There was a big police standoff happening! "Every cop in Burbank is out there," as Kent said. There were SWAT vans and helicopters and everything, massed against some poor soul who had stolen a car, I think. This went on for some hours. 10. But work must continue! Back to the recording booth. Marceline had some more lines. Standing there waiting, Elizabeth Ito (a director on ADVENTURE TIME) mentioned Kent's tweets about 50 SHADES OF GREY, and as I was answering her I realized, oh good, this is my introduction to Marceline, because it was just Elizabeth and Marceline and me hanging out, and Marceline was intently listening as the old weirdo stranger who was standing around earlier talked at great length about 50 SHADES OF GREY. "Uh, I'm Jack," I said, after describing 50 SHADES OF GREY to Marceline for a while. 11. After all the work was done for the day I wanted to go back to the hotel but the standoff was still happening. I couldn't find Kent. I called his cell. "I'm on the roof!" he said. Cole Sanchez offered to take me out the back way and get me an Uber. While we waited for the Uber, Cole told me about a special backpack he carries his dog around in! 12. I went on a terrifying Uber ride with an extremely old man - who knows? maybe he was a terrible driver when he was young, too. But he swerved all over the road and generally behaved like a maniac. And the first thing he asked me was, "How do we get to Burbank?" to which I replied, "Uh, we're in Burbank." It was all downhill from there. 13. Sitting at the bar at Musso & Frank, waiting for some more people show up. I saw a bottle of Plymouth gin, which I've never had, but it's in all the Travis McGee books, so I thought I'd have a Plymouth gin gibson in honor of my pal Ace's hero Travis McGee. Pen showed up and had one too! He told me about the outcome of the police standoff: "They shot him with a beanbag and his pants fell down," said Pen. But when I showed him that I had jotted his sentence in my little jotting book, he added, "Not in that order." 14. While I was having dinner at Musso & Frank, Dr. Theresa was back in Mississippi having dinner with independent producer and actor Maggie Renzi. Maggie Renzi told Dr. Theresa about the movie she and John Sayles want to make next - which I would never reveal, in case it's a secret -
BUT LISTEN TO THIS! In an email on Feb. 3, my brother said he had an idea for a movie: "it's amazing... sad... triumphant... interesting" he wrote about this idea. AND IT'S EXACTLY THE SAME IDEA THAT MAGGIE RENZI TOLD DR. THERESA THE OTHER NIGHT. (Here's a photo of Maggie Renzi speaking to Dr. Theresa's Gender Studies class just hours ago!)
15. Speaking of my brother, he was among the party at Musso & Frank and revealed a fascinating piece of information I can't tell you... YET. 16. Pen took me to his house after dinner and strapped a thing on my head (pictured). It was like 50 SHADES OF GREY, ha ha, not really! It was the latest in virtual reality technology! I seemed to be flying, superhero style, over an old city. When I first started flying, I accidentally swooped toward the ground and shouted "Aaaaaaaaaaah!" exactly like the audiences in 1903 who went to see THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY and got scared that the train was going to run over them. (Did that really happen? I am going to say yes.) There was also a virtual reality where you throw a ball to some kitty cats. That was more my speed. 17. McKay mailed me a copy of THE LEOPARD by Giuseppe di Lampedusa. She was thanking me for my recommendation letter because she got accepted into a swank artist colony in Italy. I hate to tell her, but she got in on her own merit. I write the most glowing recommendation letters imaginable but they're just the kiss of death. Nobody gets into anything that I recommend them for! I'm glad McKay proved to be the exception. So I was reading THE LEOPARD on the plane and it is a book with an owl in it: "from the overhanging bell tower came an elfin hoot of owls."
18. On the flight back I had a layover in Minneapolis, and I am almost 100% sure that Lou Ferrigno (who plays Billy on ADVENTURE TIME) was on it! In fact, he broke in front of me in line to get on the plane and even jostled me! I am almost 100% sure I was jostled by Lou Ferrigno! It wasn't on purpose, I am sure. I am no more to Lou Ferrigno than an ant! Nor should I be. When the plane landed, and he stood to retrieve something from the overhead bin, I noticed that the man I took to be Lou Ferrigno had a high-tech looking black gizmo behind his ear. This is anecdotal and rude to boot, but I recalled that Mr. Ferrigno has a hearing impediment, so that small gadget, whatever it was, helped confirm my assumption. Now I am going to look for a current photo of him. Well, yes, by God, it was him!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ye Olde Memory Book

"First time I've been able to use Laugh-In references in about 15 years," writes Ward McCarthy. He's alluding to a series of inappropriate LAUGH-IN based emails we sent each other when Gary Owens died. I shan't befuddle you with the details, which might as well be Sanskrit. But Ward reminds me that one of the times he and I worked with Gary Owens was one of the most fun days of our lives: Gary Owens was charming to us, and as Ward wrote, we spent the day "driving all around Universal Studios back lot by ourselves/breaking into the Psycho house - I still have the piece of wallpaper I ripped off the wall." And I still have my splinter I pried off the front porch! And some guys played us an audio tape of John Wayne drunk at a VFW meeting.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Cold Possum

Went over to Square Books and got a copy of this book here that's a transcription of the Q&As Faulkner did with his students when he was the writer-in-residence at the University of Virginia. So that's how I know that his answer to one student's question contained this sentence: "I remember the next morning for breakfast we had a bought chocolate cake and a cold possum and corn whiskey."

Friday, February 13, 2015

Lone Star Story

John Brandon was working on a book - I can't remember which one - and his editor (Eli Horowitz) said he should watch the great movie LONE STAR to help him out. So John Brandon came over here to the house and we re-watched LONE STAR. And afterward I was like, "Why did Eli want you to watch LONE STAR?" And John thought about it and said, "... I don't know." But it was good! We agreed on that. John just couldn't figure out which part was supposed to fix his book. Here's the thing, though: Maggie Renzi, producer of LONE STAR and so many other truly iconic and truly independent movies, is coming to town. She's one of the last of the independent filmmakers. I mean, she doesn't take no guff from nobody, see. I'm not kidding. She'll show some clips from her distinguished career and talk about how to make good movies at 6:30 on Thursday the 19th, over in the Bryant building on campus (not Overby, as I first dumbly reported). Bryant! That's where to go. I think that's the nice building with the big globe in it. You'll find it! John Currence is making food and drinks for the reception following. Mingle around the big globe with Maggie Renzi! It would be the dumbest mistake of your life to miss it.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Victorian Match Industry

I was so antsy about hosting the Square Books Q&A with Patton Oswalt that I left the house three hours early! I paced around the square. I went to Square Books and saw a new hardcover called THE MATCH GIRL AND THE HEIRESS or maybe it was THE HEIRESS AND THE MATCH GIRL and I thought, "Oh no, am I going to buy this for 'research'?" I looked through it and there was a lot about "the match industry" in the nineteenth century and the hellish (I assume) condition of Victorian match factories (I didn't let myself read about that) and the plight of the little match girls on the street, oh no! But my book is about cigarette lighters (though - spoiler alert! - matches make an appearance). Anyway, I decided to pretend I never saw that book, let's never speak of it again. (I feel like I've mentioned this before, but I remember when I was in eighth grade with McNeil and he read a report he had written about matches in front of the class! A report about matches! I thought that was hilarious for some reason. I should see if he still has it, maybe I could put it in my bibliography.) But back to the fascinating story of how I killed time. I looked through a biography of Marilyn Monroe. I found out she had some therapy sessions with Anna Freud, which places her at two degrees of separation from Mark Twain... AGAIN. I was like, "When I get home I need to tweet Megan Abbott about this!" The Freud part I mean. But guess what? She already knew. She knows all. You can't stump Megan on Freud stuff. Or much of anything else. Then Kaitlyn of Square Books showed me a good trick for making my pocket square look nice. Talk about a full-service bookstore! And yes, I wore a jaunty polka-dotted pocket square of the finest silk for Patton Oswalt! Soon enough it was "Megan Abbott time," speaking of Megan Abbott, so I went up to City Grocery Bar and had a slug of rye to soothe the old nerves. Just enough time before meeting Patton Oswalt. At one point, I put my wallet on the bar, which made me remember TWO THINGS SIMULTANEOUSLY. 1) Once I put my wallet on a bar in New York City and when I looked down it had vanished! Famed mischief-maker Amanda Stern handed it to me and said, "You don't do that in New York." She had taught me a lesson! 2) On one of our first visits to Oxford - maybe the very first; it may have been 2003, I don't know - I was up on the balcony of City Grocery Bar having a good time. But when we got back to the hotel, my wallet was gone. I ranted to Dr. Theresa, "We're getting out of here. THIS IS A CITY OF THIEVES!" Ha ha, I remember saying that. I was sure my pocket had been picked by an expert. When I got back to the bar, my wallet was just lying there on the balcony where I had dropped it, its contents untouched. What a rube. I met Patton Oswalt and he was very nice. I knew I would bring up Jerry Lewis - I can't help myself! - so I tried to get all of that out of the way "backstage" (in the back of Off Square Books, before the Q&A). I don't think Mr. Oswalt entirely shares my deep feelings about Jerry Lewis! He compared Jerry to Bono of U2 in a way that was unflattering to both gentlemen! Anyway, I got the Jerry out of my system. There are a couple of good stories about Jerry Lewis in Mr. Oswalt's highly engaging new book SILVER SCREEN FIEND. Then we talked about THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE, among other things, and then, just when we were about to go out to face the packed bookstore and start the "show," Patton said, "Jack!" And I said, "What!" And in reply he played the rousing theme from THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE on his phone. Maybe it was to "pump me up" so I wouldn't be nervous! Whatever the intent, it was a fine gesture.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Paula Prentiss Bowling Ball Playing Card

Hey look this was on the "internet." It's from a set of playing cards. Paula Prentiss is the five of hearts and she's holding a bowling ball! I'm putting it here so McNeil will see it. I put it on twitter but I don't think McNeil is on twitter anymore, he was barely ever on twitter.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Love, Kids, Love

Hey! That's a commercial from the old TV show I used to make. Here are some TRIVIA FACTS! 1) And I can't believe I never said this before (or did I?), but when we were shooting this, some kids chased another kid up a tree and my buddy Barry came out and said to those meaner kids, "Love, kids, love!" And those kids immediately understood what Barry was saying and let the other kid down the tree. (Or maybe they were just under the thrall of Barry's mesmerizing delivery.) That's one reason I love Barry so much! And I still say this a lot: "Love, kids, love!" 2) This footage was shot in large part by future Oscar nominee Mark Osborne! 3) I think some of the 8mm footage was shot by the future makers of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." I don't know. 4) Fred Armisen was here! He is famous now! But during this shoot he was just lurking in the background and you never see him. Back then he was just some sour guy. (Why did I say "sour"? That was gratuitous! Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he had stuff on his mind. Maybe my memory fails me.) 5) That's Chris Lopez from the Rock*A*Teens who is knocking down that piñata with his guitar. 5) That kid being held aloft is Ward McCarthy's kid! She is going to college now. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Shredded Wheat

"You haven't blogged in a while. Are you dead?" inquires McNeil. Great question. And it really got me wondering: "Am I dead?" But earlier this evening I saw something that made me want to "blog" again: the closing credits of WHEEL OF FORTUNE. I guess part of it was a dull and common thought: "Huh, WHEEL OF FORTUNE is still on the air, gee." And with its original stars too. But also, during the entire length of the closing credits, Pat Sajak was just reaching into a box of breakfast cereal - Shredded Wheat, I think - and throwing pieces of it at Vanna White's face. She seemed to be trying to catch it in her mouth but he was just pinging her in the face with chunks of shredded wheat.