Sunday, September 25, 2022
McNeil was telling me about a journal he has kept for decades and I begged to read it but he said no. Finally, he let me see a sliver from 2003, when I telephoned to inform him about a Bob Hope LP I had purchased. Even though Bob was wearing an ascot on the cover, according to McNeil's journal, I had absolutely no memory of the conversation or the recording. McNeil jostled my memory, and kept jostling it, until the record came dimly back into what I laughingly call my mind. I promised to look for it! For, you see, back in 2003, I had read McNeil the liner notes over the phone, and he wanted to hear them again, now, in our present day. Here's the problem! When we moved into this house, I just threw stuff all over the place. The records are not in any order. Anyway, I finally tracked it down, and I guess the portentousness had amused me, a lot of stuff like, "jokes and comedy are not the whole of Bob Hope. It must also be added that he is a man of song." But! That's not why I called you here today. While McNeil was going through an old box, he found a pack of his grandfather's cigarettes. "Half the smokes are still there!" McNeil boasted. I was most impressed by the brand name... Spud Imperial. I've never heard such a bewitching combination of words. I noticed the word "SAFETY" on the side of the pack (though I seem to have cut it off above), and a little rooting around on the "internet" led me to some magazine ads for Spud Imperial. "They're not a remedy," one warned, in case that was what you thought! I don't "blog" anymore, but when I saw the brand name Spud Imperial, I knew at once that an exception had to be made.
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
There's a point to this story, maybe, if it's a story. Chelsea Hogue interviewed me about my new poetry chapbook WEIRD SKY. She brought up owls, because, as it so happens, she was a student in the very undergraduate workshop in which I started forcing students to put owls in their work. In one of my answers to Chelsea's probing questions, I mentioned that owls are considered to be bad luck in some cultures, which I had been thinking about a lot lately, because (I didn't mention this in the interview) RESERVATION DOGS is my favorite TV show in a very long time, and I had noticed that the eyes of an owl figurine were blurred out in post-production, and that some of the young Indigenous characters were obviously freaked out by the owl. And it occurred to me that I had never really looked into any negative beliefs regarding owls. Sam Shepard mentions similar Tibetan associations with the owl on the very page where I keep my big long list of books with owls in them, but I hadn't thought about that until just now. I believe my first indication that owls could be considered bad luck, I guess you'd call it, was from my friend Sarah Marine, who informed me privately that some particular of her Indigenous friends would hate to know how many owls I had collected, and would be worried for me. Is there a story coming? I don't think so anymore, if I ever really did. But after mulling over the interview with Chelsea, I decided to finally do some internet research into the matter, which is how I came upon a website that looks as if it has not been updated since the mid-90s. There, a few various Indigenous beliefs and stories about owls were listed, along with some suggested resources, such as a book called OWLS IN FOLKLORE AND NATURAL HISTORY, which was referred to encouragingly if somewhat vaguely as a "good book." So I got hold of that book, to see if I could find out more... of the dark side of owls! I have to say, it's a pretty skinny book to be so damn supposedly good, but okay. I haven't really looked at it yet. I did open it at random, to a passage by Alexander Wilson, who, if you recall from "blog" history, shared my obsession with the mysterious circumstances of his friend Meriwether Lewis's death. Sadly, Wilson's passage was all about (I paraphrase) how nutty we all are to think that owls are some kind of magical death birds. They're just birds, people! Such are Alexander Wilson's conclusions on the matter. But the main thing I meant to say is that it is sort of cheating to buy a book called OWLS IN FOLKLORE AND NATURAL HISTORY and then put it on a list of books with owls in them. It's a fait accompli! Yet here we are.
Monday, September 05, 2022
I've been reading Andy Warhol's novel, the title of which is "a" - that's right, the lower-case letter a. So even before I cracked it open, I thought, oh, boy! If this novel has an owl in it, it will always be the first on my alphabetical list of books with owls in them, nothing will ever beat it! How strange to meet certainty in our troubled times. And, of course, Ondine (our protagonist) makes a joke about White Owl cigars. I almost didn't make it there. Early on, a sexual act was described - now, hold it right there! I am no prude. I say go for it! But baked beans were put to a use I don't wish to discuss. Is that where I draw the line? The jury is still out. Anyway, Megan and I had read Warhol's diaries together, and also a recent biography of Warhol (both of which had owls in them), so she threatened to read the novel as well, which I forbade. It was like when we went to the Yoko Ono exhibit and Megan kept running ahead of me and guiding me away from anything too bold and frank. Well! I don't "blog" anymore, but something has been on my mind, and it is sort of relevant to our current discussion. I had always thought of Serendipity 3 as a touristy dessert place that figured in a John Cusak movie. I didn't know it held such a special place in Warhol's life until I read the biography. So... having had a premonition of his death, Warhol goes there for what he figures will be his last treat, and right he is. But! The biographer, after describing the moment, feels it necessary to include a parenthetical screed about how Warhol's death premonition was irrational, even if it came true. Who is he trying to convince? Would he stand over a dead body and say, "Well, you saw this coming, but that was irrational"? The dead person doesn't care! That's all I want to say.
Sunday, August 21, 2022
I've been sitting on this for a while. Yes, yes, checking my records, I see that on August 2 of this year, I became fascinated by wombats for a couple of hours. As a result, I "tweeted" on the subject, to which someone responded with the fact that Dante Gabriel Rossetti (pictured) kept wombats as pets. Naturally, I scurried around the "internet," seeking corroboration, which I found immediately, via a scholarly article, which quoted a poem about wombats by Mr. Rossetti. In the poem, Mr. Rossetti compares wombats favorably with owls and bats (two creatures often linked in literature, as we have seen, though seldom in the company of wombats). As you well know, I no longer "blog," although I am required by state law to maintain my famous list of books with owls in them. However! The article had no footnotes, as I recall, and now I am much too tired to check. So I have no way of knowing if the wombat poem (which appeared in a letter) was ever published, either in a book of Rossetti's poetry or in a book of his correspondence, or whether the author of the article was just rummaging around in Dante Gabriel Rossetti's things, looking for wombat information, a quest to which his life is no doubt devoted.
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Hello! It has been seven years since our previous installment of All-Star Entertainment Wrap-Up, for the simple reason that nothing has happened in the world of sizzling all-star entertainment... until now! A dimly remembered figure from the "blog's" distant past has emerged. We can only be speaking of none other than PHIL OPPENHEIM, with a dazzling report from the land of the stars, Hollywood, USA! Phil saw AUSTIN PENDLETON in a parking lot! But the excitement doesn't stop there! He spied with his little eye famed robot BRENT SPINER in Nate 'n Al's, the same place where YOUR FAITHFUL CORRESPONDENT once enjoyed some CHOPPED LIVER while on a break from an auction of BOB HOPE'S personal effects. (Phil recommends the CHEF'S SALAD, the COBB SALAD, and the TUNA SALAD. Rumor on the hush-hush has it that Phil has turned into a real "salad man.") We're not done! Phil also saw ARSENIO HALL in a coffee shop! And thusly, seven years of entertainment drought, as foretold in the ancient prophecy, have come to a happy end. As long as we have you here, we should report that the recent ANDY WARHOL biography by BLAKE GOPNIK refers to Andy and his pals as "NIGHT OWLS" who eat breakfast at 6 PM. That's some late breakfast, celebrity entertainment style! And of course it makes the Andy Warhol biography a BOOK WITH AN OWL IN IT. That's it for now, from the land of sizzling celebrity stars. See you in 2029!
Thursday, July 14, 2022
I don't "blog" anymore, but I accidentally saw an obelisk, which I am morally and contractually obliged to report. This came about as I dawdled around on youtube, traipsing hither and yon in a digital sense. Youtube itself boldly recommended a clip of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM. I was like, "Okay, youtube, I'll bite!" A freewheeling scene between Larry and a divorce lawyer unspooled. To conclude, and I shall keep you in suspense no longer, the divorce lawyer had an obelisk.
Sunday, July 03, 2022
A guy on twitter was rightly boasting, in a bittersweet way, that he had finished THE PICKWICK PAPERS, and as proof of a sort, he photographed the last page, and it was in this way that I learned, through no fault of my own, that the last paragraph of THE PICKWICK PAPERS has an owl in it. Now I have to put it on my list of books with owls in them, which I mysteriously maintain, and I didn't even have the pleasure of reading it, though I do have a copy of it around here somewhere.
Thursday, June 02, 2022
Reading the Andy Warhol diaries. One minute he's hanging out with Phyllis Diller at the office, then he's in London, where his friend invents chocolate soup. Next thing you know Andy goes to a benefit where someone's onstage singing "The Owl and the Pussycat," though whether it is a musical setting of Edward Lear's poem, or if someone decided to write an unrelated song with an identical title, I will never know, because I'm too tired. Nevertheless. The thing you will be most excited about is that I "blogged" at the time about Phyllis Diller's 2007 appearance on the Jay Leno program. But wait! The other guest that evening was there to plug a movie about the Andy Warhol gang! I wonder if Phyllis leaned over during the commercial break and said, "We used to hang out at the office!"
Monday, May 16, 2022
As you know, I tell you every time I read a book with an owl in it. Why? I guess because I've been doing it for more than 10 years and there is no way to stop. Now, the moment I picked up a book by Salvador Dali, I felt a 98% certainty it would have an owl in it. But little could I have known it would be an owl of such a thoroughly unpleasant mien. This owl was a vision of Dali's, I guess we could say. It appeared on people's heads. It was, if I recall correctly, a kind of hallucinated figurine, and on the owl's own head was... how I can say this? Some poop. Poop adorned the head of the owl. Poop of a particular... no, I shan't continue. What am I, the author of Till Eulenspiegel? Ha ha, you guys know what I'm talking about.
Friday, May 13, 2022
I don't "blog" anymore, but by no means did I want you to think that McNeil has stopped looking for obelisks. He sent me the above photo (seemingly from a television show called UFO) and requested a glowing orb to put on his desk. He also told me to "note the obelisk." Friends, I looked all over and didn't see the obelisk! I communicated my alarm to McNeil! I concluded - too hastily - that the thing resembling a crystal ball was the "glowing orb," not the white circle, which, as I examined it, looked so flat and artificial that I decided McNeil has placed it there through computer wizardry, in order to mark the obelisk in question. I furthermore concluded, on the basis of zero evidence, that McNeil had meant to draw a red circle (or suchlike) around the obelisk but had, instead, made an opaque white circle by mistake. Confronted with my theory, McNeil was appalled. The flat white circle was indeed the object of McNeil's admiration, a supposed "glowing orb" original to the work as televised. The obelisk, he said, was on the left front corner of the desk (from the POV of someone sitting behind it). Then I saw it! And if you look, you can see it too. Maybe you have already seen it with your fresh young eyes that are not yet old and weak like mine. In conclusion, I mentioned to McNeil that the white dot looked like something that may have been placed there by censors to cover a large hole in the seat of the man's pants. Yes, McNeil replied facetiously, that would explain the slide whistle sound effect when the man turned around. And now you know why I don't "blog" anymore.
Monday, May 09, 2022
Megan and I are reading the autobiography of Salvador Dali, in which a young Dali decides to take a bath in a bushel of raw corn. We talked about that a lot, and I was put in mind of the film WITNESS, which features death by corn. I think it's corn. Anyway, someone is suffocated in a silo. Megan and I discussed the dangers of grain storage, which are serious and numerous. Megan dug around (as she does) and eventually sent me this article ("click" here), which I admired for the way it really gets across the temptation of a good corn bath before plunging into the terrifying downside, and also for the name of one of its interviewees, Bodie Blissett, who was buried up to his neck in corn.
Sunday, May 01, 2022
From that Olga Tokarczuk book: "There are dogs on leads, monkeys in chains, much-loved parrots in silver-plated cages." Now, when you have that many monkeys and that many dogs, it seems inevitable that one of the monkeys will ride one of the dogs. Does Tokarczuk make such an interaction explicit? I regret to say she does not. Or perhaps "regret" is the wrong word, given the "blog's" famously complicated feelings about monkeys riding dogs.
Sunday, April 17, 2022
You know very well I don't "blog" anymore, but today is Easter. That's not why I'm "blogging." But something happened that is a little too long to explain in a tweet. God knows I tried. Anyway, I started self-publishing a novel called SOUR BLUEBERRIES on the "internet." The events of SOUR BLUEBERRIES take place between December 20, 2019 and November 3, 2020. We all know what happened around that time in real life. Now, I didn't know what all was going to happen when I first started writing the novel! So, as I had given titles to every chapter, I decided to arrange the novel alphabetically according to title, rather than chronologically, to... to make a point about... to... I can't remember. So! I started publishing on February 14, 2022, not because it was Valentine's Day, but because I had recently become unemployed, and I thought asking people to pay for my new serialized alphabetical novel would be a good way to make some extra money (I was wrong). So! Are you still with me? By sheer coincidence (or was it predestination?), having arranged my chapters from Aaron Neville to Zyrtec, and having been, furthermore, in the habit of publishing one or two a day, it so happened that today, on the very holiday of Easter itself, we came to a chapter entitled "Christ." All right. That's it.
Tuesday, April 05, 2022
Well, Maud Newton came to town! Here's a photo of us, why not? I got Maud to sign a copy of her new book ANCESTOR TROUBLE. So, I was reading about the Biblical story of Rachel and the teraphim in Maud's book, and then I picked up THE BOOKS OF JACOB by Olga Tokarczuk, which I am still reading, and I immediately came to a passage about Rachel and the teraphim! Does it mean something? I say Rachel and the teraphim is the big new trend to look out for in 2022.
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
I hate to tell you, but the book I'm reading now has an owl in it. The book is all about the making of MIDNIGHT COWBOY. A NYC boutique called The Owl and the Pussycat is given the scantest possible attention as part of a long list of boutique names. That's how the owls are these days. They just sneak into the books through the back door. The owls aren't even trying anymore. It's unconscionable.
Sunday, March 13, 2022
As I am sure you must have guessed, Megan Abbott and I have been reading a dual autobiography of Ron and Clint Howard. Fairly late in the book, the story "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge" gets a shout-out. Now, does this means that the Ron/Clint Howard autobiography is a book with an owl in it? By my extremely lax standards, yes. But I will tell you people a secret. This time, I almost didn't bother to mention it. I came very close to sweeping this information under the rug! It was almost as if I could no longer remember why I chose to keep a meticulous record of every time I read a book with an owl in it.
Sunday, March 06, 2022
Well, well. I see I have something in common with Nobel prizewinner Olga Tokarczuk: I wrote a novel called SWEET BANANAS, and she mentions bananas in THE BOOKS OF JACOB. Her phrase is "myrrh, oranges, bananas." I stared at it for a long time. Three words that go well together. Some credit may go to her translator Jennifer Croft, for all I know. The satisfying commas, for example.
Sunday, February 20, 2022
Did you know I am serializing a novel on the "internet"? "Click" here if you don't believe me! You'll feel pretty dumb then! It's called SOUR BLUEBERRIES. It's sort of a companion piece to my previous limited-edition novel SWEET BANANAS, which is made of actual physical substances, and of which there are still a precious few copies left if you ACT NOW. I wouldn't even mention it, but as I was "posting" this morning, I noticed that there is an owl in today's installment (Part 10) of SOUR BLUEBERRIES. And you know what that means. Who are you?
Monday, January 24, 2022
At a dramatic moment in her autobiography, June Havoc describes herself as being "owl-eyed and frightened." If you know me at all, which you don't, you know why I am compelled to tell you this (see previous "hyperlink"). But it's not much, is it? So as long as I am here, it has been too long since I was upset by a TV commercial. I've seen one recently in which Charlie the Tuna, the mascot of Starkist brand tuna products, boasts of having branched out into the chicken business. He announces a chicken product which has, quote, "the look and texture" of his tuna. Often have I pondered, listening to Charlie the Tuna's pitch, how it is a selling point.
Saturday, January 22, 2022
I read a sentence I liked (see above) and emailed about it seperately to three friends: Megan, Sarah, and McNeil. Therefore I feel I have already written about it extensively and, as I no longer "blog" anymore, it hardly seems worth the effort to create "new content." As a result, I have chosen to cut-and-paste one of the emails below, the one I wrote to Sarah, to be precise, as it seemed to contain the most thrilling moments representing the richness of human experience. Here, then, is the email I composed to Sarah: "So, remember how, just six days ago, in the Sherman Oaks area, I told you an intriguing story of how Pen advised me 'Don't look!' when his dog pooped, but then we (you and I) looked out the window of your car and saw a large dog plainly pooping in our direction? You really made me laugh by comparing the experience to the movie SERENDIPITY. Ha ha ha! I'm still laughing. Anyway, so my friend Megan and I are in a book club of two where we read biographies and autobiographies of show biz types. Right now, we're on June Havoc, who performed in vaudeville as 'Dainty June.' You may remember her as a character in the biographical musical GYPSY, which was based on her family. None of this matters. Nor does it matter that her autobiography has a great first sentence: 'I watched the hot dog being built.' What matters is that the original (?) owner of the book was a Dane Blackburn, who dwelt at 211 E. 62nd Street in NYC. If found, he wished his book to be returned to him there [as indicated on the flyleaf]. Now here's the kicker! I looked at the address on Google Maps and they helpfully provide the name of the nearest restaurant. SERENDIPITY! Which is about something scribbled in the front of a book, right? The movie, I mean. And I think it's also named after that restaurant? You know, I've never seen the whole thing. I have attached photographic evidence for your examination." This concludes the email to Sarah. As an amazing postscript, to which Megan, Sarah, and McNeil have all been alerted, Eleanor Roosevelt lived at 211 E. 62nd Street from 1953-1958, as evidenced by this real estate video ("click" here). The book, however, came out in 1959, so my copy most likely did not pass through Mrs. Roosevelt's hands. In conclusion, though I brought my jotting book to Los Angeles, I will not be sharing my jottings on this occasion. That being said, I did have hot dogs with Elizabeth Ito, my brother, and Lee Durkee at a place out in Eagle Rock, which bears mentioning given the subject of Havoc's opening remarks.
Sunday, January 02, 2022
I found reason to recall a long-ago exchange in the "writers' room," when someone mentioned putting syrup on pancakes, whereupon Hanna, calling in from Sweden, said, with a degree of alarm, something like, "What kind of syrup would you put on pancakes?" Adam replied, "Breakfast syrup." Hanna said, and this may be a direct quote, "Breakfast syrup? You guys are crazy." We asked what goes on pancakes in Sweden and Hanna said, "Jam." Now, we all had to admit that sounded great! But it was clear that syrup in Sweden is different than what we call syrup in the USA. All of this came back to me as I contemplated the molasses sandwiches in Ingmar Bergman's film FANNY AND ALEXANDER. After recording my thoughts on the film below, I dispatched an urgent query to Hanna, asking what the translator might have been getting at. Hanna concluded that the children were most likely enjoying some treacle (AKA golden syrup) on bread, a cheaper substitute for honey on bread. Now, the grandmother in FANNY AND ALEXANDER seemed as if she would be able to afford all the honey a child could ever eat, but that is none of my beeswax. Ha ha. Hanna told me there is nothing like molasses in Sweden, although both she and I may have been conflating molasses and syrup, as I know from visiting dozens of websites that are all too eager to explain in excruciating detail the myriad important differences between molasses and syrup, which I perversely refuse to commit to memory, despite all my feigned interest in the subject.