Sunday, November 27, 2022


It looks like we're back to doing McNeilileaks again. That's when I leak the contents of my friend McNeil's emails. Recently McNeil presented some facts and posed an interesting question: "You know what I found out? Which maybe everyone realized but me? The universe existed for 10 billion years before our sun was born. 10 billion! Things were going on for 10 billion years before we showed up all fresh-faced with our gee-whiz attitude. What was going on all this time?"

Friday, November 18, 2022

Owl Time

Hello! As you know, I don't "blog" anymore. But I recently left social media, which has seemingly increased my temptation to "blog," which I don't do anymore. But! This is not one of those days. In an unfinished bit of old "blog" business, I am required by law to tell you every time I read a book with an owl in it. I am here to fulfill my impersonal obligation, which does not count as "blogging," by letting you know that the new (?) David Milch autobiography has an owl in it. Furthermore, in what I take to be a startling coincidence, the owl in Milch's book, which I read about today, appears to the author at 5:15 AM, while, likewise, in TODAY'S very installment of SOUR BLUEBERRIES - "click" here to read it, ha ha, you won't, and how I hate you for it - the sound of an owl (?) disturbs our protagonists' slumber at 5 AM. With that, I leave you to consider the workings of fate.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Cocktail Hour

As long as we're talking about things that should have gone into my cigarette lighter book, what about the movie COCKTAIL HOUR? I didn't finish watching it. But the heroine asks for a cigarette and a dozen men come springing from every direction to oblige her. It's a stampede! In the examples I used in my book (Anne Bancroft and Gillian Anderson, if I recall correctly), the cigarettes had already met the lips, and it was a light for which each heroine pined, resulting in a similar crush of attention. Still, it is part of the same mythological gesture. I wondered, as COCKTAIL HOUR came out in 1933, whether this was a particularly early example, but I doubt it. Some dramatic actions float beyond cliche, seemingly inevitable, without origin.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

This Is My Life Now

Well, I have nothing else to do, so I thought I would inform you that Dr. Theresa and I watched the movie SUSPECT last night, in which Dennis Quaid holds a lighter up to a smoke detector in order to start the sprinklers going (or, in this case, a fire alarm; I did not see any water coming down). As you know, there is a whole section of my cigarette lighter book about whether or not that would work, and I can't remember which side I came down on in the end. Knowing me, I probably just equivocated like a low little skunk. Which reminds me (the lighter, not the skunk), the other night, Dr. Theresa and I watched PRESCRIPTION: MURDER, the TV movie that served as a pilot for COLUMBO. At one point, Columbo uses a lighter and a comically long flame shoots out, which is also covered in my book (the shockingly long flame, not Columbo), as code for a certain kind of bumbling. Columbo's antagonist was a pyschiatrist, and I wondered whether PRESCRIPTION: MURDER was the best title. I know a psychistriast can write prescriptions, but somehow the title brings forth images of a friendly family practiticioner with a deadly secret! Also, prescriptions really have nothing to do with the murder in the episode. I suppose you could say the evil psychiatrist wrote himself a prescription for a murder that he thought would solve all his problems. He didn't know about Columbo!

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Every 12 or 14 Years

If you are a loyal "blog" reader, I am sure you will recall July of 2008, in which I picked up a book of symbols and found a mysterious card tucked inside. Well, yesterday, I picked up a DIFFERENT book of symbols and a DIFFERENT mysterious card fell out, right into my lap. Honestly, this second card wasn't entirely mysterious, though I had never noticed it before. It advertised the "web" site of the organization that had put the book together, a treasury of 18,000 intriguing images, which I combed through for hours. Eventually, I came upon a 14th-century illustration of a lion and a hare from a book called Kalīla wa-Dimna. Speaking of hares, I fell down a rabbit hole - ha ha! oh how I despise myself! - and read some more about Kalīla wa-Dimna, which is how I found out it contains a fable about owls and crows, the details of which I don't wish to trouble you with. Trust me, you don't want to know what happens to those owls! Loyal "blog" reader, are you still there? I am sure you will remember that in June 2010, a Square Books employee told me that crows hate owls and I meant to look up the facts of the matter, but never did. And I never will!

Friday, November 04, 2022

Not Publishing

You know how I am always being inspired by phrases. It is a real weakness! And I find most of them in the New York Times, which is just piling shame on top of weakness. But it is too late to change my life now. Anyway, I was reading about Emily Dickinson's house in today's New York Times, and came across a phrase to add to my collection: "Dickinson ‘had such freedom in not publishing,’ Cybulski said. ‘She could leave all those variants in.’” It reminded me of something notably eloquent that Sonny Rollins said about his grave distrust of recordings, I swear to God he really said it, but I have "clicked" on my Sonny Rollins "label" for this "blog" (visible on your laptop, but not your phone, I think; much like Cinemascope, the "blog" is not ideally suited to your phone) and I can't find that interview or quotation anywhere. I'd like to recall exactly what he said because I'll never say it right like Sonny Rollins. Something... about... how music is meant to exist temporally, fleetingly, and to capture it does it a disservice, because it falsely values that one captured moment over all the uncaptured moments that are at least equally important. That's not even close! But it does remind me of something I just read in the new Bob Dylan book. Old Bob maintains that a spectacular song and a spectacular record are not the same thing. "Some of our favorite records are mediocre songs at best, that somehow came alive when the tape was running." Well, I have "blogged" twice in two days, is this the beginning of a disturbing trend? After the TV blew up in 2016, we had a nice steep descent going, and 2019 proved to be a banner year for not "blogging." Then, the unpleasantness. Everything is still somewhat skewed. As of yesterday, we surpassed that nice low 2019 figure, meaning we'll just have to do better (less) in 2023.

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Now I Have Nothing

You know I don't "blog" anymore, and now I have quit social media, so I have nothing. (You may "click" on this heart-tugging letter in the unlikely event you have questions or concerns. It won't help!) Still, once in a while you get something you have to put somewhere. McNeil writes: "You know how I said I was catching up on movies I missed from way back. Well one of them is the extremely mediocre THE WOMAN IN RED. So I caught this scene when Gene Wilder comes home with a load of 'work' his boss gives him. I think he is supposed to work at a PR agency and they are doing something with a trolley line." McNeil is incredulously delighted to recognize (see photo, above) the "Globe Illustrated Shakespeare" as part of the workload Gene Wilder's boss has sent home with him - in McNeil's description, "a giant red book that used to be on every bargain table in the 80s. An uncle gave it to me for xmas one year and I still have it." My grandmother gave me one as well, McNeil! It's around here somewhere. I will email you in a moment so we can discuss whether the scarlet volume, conspicuous in its rich burden, bears thematic relevance to the eponymous figure. [Editor's note: The predicted correspondence with McNeil indeed occurred. The author was given to understand that the load of "work" was in fact a ruse concocted by Wilder's character; therefore, the ludicrous use of Shakespeare was the character's, and not an error by the prop department or the director, who was Wilder himself. McNeil speculates that another item in the armful may be the script of the film itself, which, if it could be proven, would rocket the enterprise into unexpectedly mystical or existential territory.]