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Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve Tribute to Gilbert Sorrentino

A character in Mulligan Stew compiles an inventory of books he has found in the (partially) imagined house in which fictitious author Anthony Lamont has placed him. The list begins: "The Orange Dress by Sheila Henry; Daredevil by John Charleville; Stolen Fruit by Jymes Vulgario; The Dry Ranges by Gilford Sorento; The Ouija Kiss by Harry Bore; Cobbler, Rend My Shoe! by Thom McAn; Acey-Five by Richard Tracy; Crab Hunting by Joseph Bush; The Model House by Iolanda Puttana; Buccal Violations by Carmine Rod; The Male Lesian by K.Y. Geli; Stupid Bastard: The Life of Harry Purim by Meier Meier; American Vector by Guy Lewis; Lubricious Lubricants by Reg Margarine; Mary, Mother of God by Xavier Amice, S.J.; Jackoff in the Old Red Barn by Ricky Dickey; Girls, Grapes, and Snow by Aristotle Rich; Red Flanagan's Last Throw by William Tracy; Stick 'Em Up by "Toni"; The King's Son by Hurley Lees; Thank God for My Gonorrhea by Joseph Viejo; Tie Your Own Tubes by V.A. Szechtomijh; Put It Right There by Vera Panting; One Thousand Occasional Sonnets by Gordo Kelly; Crazy for Corsets by Van Raalte; The Truth About Vegetables by Harry Krishna-Rama; Sexual Fulfillment in the Woods by Birch Humpper; Men's Room Madness by Gabriel Power; The Boon of Unemployment by Milhous Hoover; Lace Me Tighter! by Merrie Widdoe; 30 Days to a Bigger Thing by Novena Lodge; It's Great to be a Champeen by Gorman Sailer; The Cry of the Serbo-Croats by Boris Crzwxwzw; Schultz Is Dead by Una Cazzo; 10 Days to a Hairless Body by Alice Guné; Yes, We Have No Bananas by "Sister Veronica"; Myth and Methodology in the Albanian Novel by Julius Naranja; The Big Lie: Myths about the Third Reich by Sepp Schultz-Staffel; Country Album by Nicholas de Selby; The Wiener in Bavarian Folk Art by Nathan Famoso; Repairing Your Motorcycle by Anton Harley; Our Friend, The Cockroach by G. Blatta; American Lake Poetry by George Stardust: How to Understand the Deaf by James Joyce; The Man Who Sailed Away: A Memoir by Harold Barge; Tomorrow I'll Get Straight by Alex Schmecker; The Sexual Aspects of Integral Calculus by Manuel Joie; Light in the Head by Roberto Bligh; Dust From Chickenhouse Floors by Boris Vozneshenko; A Whim of Grit by Howard Dick; Born to Be Italian by Myles na gCoopaleen; So You Want To Be Jewish? by Saul Bernard Roth; Runs in My Nylons: My Life as a Transvestite Editor by Hanes Gossard; Negroes With Buns: The Story of the Harlem Cooperatie Bakery by Rose Towne Krug; Brekekekéx Koáx Koáx! by Ali Garoo: How to Hit .212 by Clinton Hondo; What the Vice President Eats by "du Garbandier"; Confession Can Be Fun! by Vito Calzone, S.J.; Traprock Ridge by Lewis Watchung; Metaphor Is Real by Clay Clayton; Nutcracker Sunday by Gloria Shinem; Unicorn Crimson, Unicorn Grey by Rupert Whytte-Blorenge; Algebraical Puzzles, Nuts, Wrinkles, and Twisters by Albert Einstein; A Pint of Plain is Your Only Man by Jem Casey; Sexism at the Battle of Waterloo by "Jilly" . . . . "

A night to be drunk on words.

Mulligan Stew (New York: Grove, 1979), p. 31.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Attack of the Lame DVDs

We were snagged and dragged by Luc Besson's Angela, a weightless flighty DVD that is wrecked by weak-minded plotting, and bored stiff by Antonioni's Blow-Up, which dragged and dragged like a dog with two broken legs, a nearly absolute vacuum of ideas at the core, worse even than the Coen's Blood Simple, which was truly irritating, the cast dragging around in slow motion from beginning to end with all these dull silences which were supposed to build tension but only made one want to look at one's watch, even in the dark, though the scene of the man being buried alive, one shovelful of dirt after another, was notably non-boring, and the mindlessly indecisive beginning of the love affair at the outset was a decent bit of filmmaking, but by far the worst of the lame DVDs we've recently watched was Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique, which went nowhere and said nothing, unlike the emotionally moving The Kite Runner, by whomever, seen on the big screen, which featured an arc for the protagonist from cowardice to bravery that was reassuring to think about afterwards as we walked to the subway along Tremont Street wondering if any of the creatures of the night we kept passing on the sidewalk were going to attack us.

And on Earth Peace

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

--Luke, 2

Monday, December 24, 2007

And the Angel Said Unto Them: Fear Not

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

--Luke, 2

Christmas In Her Soul

Found myself silently singing the first few lines of an old tune by Laura Nyro the past few days, Christmas In My Soul:

I love my country
as it dies
in war and pain
before my eyes.
I walk the streets where disrespect has been
the sins of politics
the politics of sin
the heartlessness that darkens my soul
on Christmas

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Now the time has come to fight
laws in the book of love burn bright
people you must win
for thee America
her dignity
for all the high court world to see
on Christmas

Christmas in my soul
Christmas in my soul
Christmas in my soul

Joy to the world

--from CHRISTMAS & THE BEADS OF SWEAT, music and lyrics (except for Up on the Roof) by LN, 1962, Columbia Records, 666 Fifth Ave., P.O. Box 4455, New York NY 10101.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Chris McNally Debut CD

Ladies and gentlemen, and children of all ages, this is to announce that my brother Chris has a CD out titled Orbit. If you search "Chris McNally" on iTunes it will come up and I gotta tell ya, it's a winner, it's a keeper, many years in the making and fully ripe. It truly rocks. Think Paul Simon meets David Lee Roth. And as W. Shakespeare says: "Ripeness is all." I listened to it tonight and it knocked me off the rails, made me realize how deprived one is when one stops listening to music. This is a CD that puts you into another world, one you don't want to leave.

Friday, December 21, 2007

From the Third World

In the early afternoon a friend called and asked, "What are you going to do today?" and I answered: "Oh I'll do something or other," and an hour or so later I realized the true answer to the question was: "Wait for night to come"; the nocturnal writer lives in a third world country where the unemployment rate is around 99.9 percent, like in some village in Africa where the men squat in the dust all day and hour after hour watch the wind blow by, waiting for the sun to go down and life to begin.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pascal & "Language Poetry"

A number of false starts on the second screenplay. I have a plot developing but it's like squeezing water from a stone. I've read a number of reviews of the Coen brothers No Country for Old Men and it sounds like a culture of death bonanza package. Hideously tired today as a result of making the mistake of getting up in the morning. Noticed a note in the back of Pascal's Pensées that could aptly be applied to the endless theorizing the "language poets" invariably envelope themselves in: "They argue like people proving it is night at noon." Pascal has unusual depth: "Is not our span of life equally infinitesimal in eternity, even if it is extended by ten years?" "Too much kindness annoys us." "We are so presumptuous that we should like to be known all over the world." [As every weblogger well knows!] "The right way is to want what God wants." "As if reason were the only way we could learn!" "It is not in space that I must seek my human dignity, but in the ordering of my thought." "I can only approve of those who seek with groans."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Shakespeare on "Language Poetry"

"When a man's verses cannot be understood . . . it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room." As You Like It, III,iii,11,13

From A Dictionary of Quotations From Shakespeare, Margaret Miner & Hugh Rawson, eds., New York: Penguin, Meridian, 1996, p. 212.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Drama and Zoology

The strange zoology of E. Ionesco's Rhinoceros:

Here is an example of a syllogism. The cat has four paws. Isidore and Fricot both have four paws. Therefore Isidore and Fricot are cats.

My dog has got four paws.

Then it's a cat.

(to JEAN)
I've barely got the strength to go on living. Maybe I don't even want to.

(to LOGICIAN, after deep reflection)
So then, logically speaking, my dog must be a cat?

Logically, yes. But the contrary is also true.

From Rhinoceros & Other Plays, Eugène Ionesco, tr. Derek Prouse (London: John Calder, 1960; New York: Grove, pp. 18, 19.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Wading Through Second-Rate Art

I jettisoned the mass market crime novel I was reading on a bench at the Central Square subway stop and am glad to be rid of it; watched Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar on DVD last night and Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique this afternoon and it's hard to say which was the more boring, the more lifeless, the more phony, so my subway reading will have to switch back to Mickey Spillane, who is a crappy writer in many ways, but at least there is the occasional whiplash line, unlike the mass market crime novel which limped along like a three-legged dog that had never been taught to speak, and praise be to God I have found my copy of Tsipi's Retelling which had been missing around the house here for some weeks, I want to finish rereading that; Mickey Spillane I picked up at Rodney's because I knew the name and was curious to see how he stacked up against Raymond Chandler, and it was half price, and it had a soft-focus head shot of a blonde in black and white on the cover. Chandler is approximately three times as talented as Spillane, three times as enjoyable. Veronique was so contrived and tedious I don't even want to bother to go to Tomatoes or  Movie Review Query Engine and have an esteemed critic unravel it all for me and explain what a "masterpiece" it is.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Killing Time With Novels

The mass market crime novel I bought for the flight home from West Palm is awful, dull, plodding, the only reason I keep picking it up because its compactness feels good in hand, but it really is intolerable, the main character a hard guy detective hunting for a killer (amazing originality!), I should just drop it in a trash receptacle somewhere; now Magnus Mills is another story, his novel The Restraint of Beasts I picked up a couple of years ago at Rodney's because I was in the M section looking for a Henry Miller novel (having slightly enjoyed Plexus, or Nexus, one of the two) but there wasn't one and instead I noticed the Mills book, pulled it off the shelf, found the cover art interesting, looked at the back cover and Surprise! there was a puff quote from Thomas Pynchon, so I checked the typeface (can't stand books with a spindly typeface, that bothered me all the way through Bernhard's Extinction), found it to be okay, read a biographical note at the front of the book saying Mills was a London bus driver, and so, mainly because of the Pynchon endorsement, and because I had nothing else to do, I bought it, and more or less enjoyed reading it--I remember one incident that actually made me laugh aloud, or almost aloud--but the book had an unsightly vignette, or illustration, that appeared over and over and grated each time I came across it, this after reading For Whom the Bell Tolls which I found lying around the house, which didn't do much for me, I just kept reading because I had nothing else to do.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Continue thrashing about trying to get a second screenplay going, writing a lot of disconnected trash but that's to be expected, keep thinking about that filmmaker I saw on Charlie Rose who said he did a year of research on Nazi extermination camps before starting to write, I wouldn't mind doing that, but it doesn't seem to be happening, wondering all the while whether I shouldn't be trying to start a novel instead, reading a bit of Mulligan Stew trying to find something to quote but running up against his (Sorrentino's) Godawful silliness page after page, such a waste; comedy is fine, wonderful (cf. M. LeClerc: "Laughter--orgasm of the mind.") but silliness (no matter that critics, outrageously, try to dignify it as "ironicized banality") is inexcusable; if you want a comic novel, something that will make you laugh, read Molloy or Malone Dies. I bought, for the first time in I don't know how many years, a mass market paperback, a crime novel (with a New Yorker plug on the cover that it doesn't deserve), for the trip home from Florida and I'm enjoying the feel of it in my hand; it fits so neatly into one's pocket that I've been using it for subway reading since I've got back; makes me realize how good Raymond Chandler was.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Little Casino & Hollywood

Having enjoyed Sorrentino's Little Casino, I pulled the monumental Mulligan Stew off the shelf and was surprised to see that the pages were turning brown along the edges (hideous evidence that time truly is passing, running out; it was just yesterday I was reading the thing) and to discover, according to notes on extra pages I had glued into the back and marks in the margins that I had read the entire thing (I would have bet serious money I hadn't finished it), so, after dipping into it here and there, I took his Blue Pastoral off the shelf, which I knew I had abandoned, read a few pages and abandoned it again, permanently, because it truly is awful--pretentious, pompous, pointlessly 'silly' to the point that it literally hurts to read it (it's amazing how far wrong a gifted writer can go), but to end on a positive note, here are a few sentences from the Stars of the Silver Screen chapter of Casino:

"Why are they forever comfortable and really swell and relaxed in their old t-shirts and ripped, faded jeans? . . . Why do they think that Raymond Chandler is a cocaine connection? . . . Why don't they like the notion of themselves as 'overnight successes'? Does it have anything to do with the 'blow-job theory'? . . . Why do they hate to be recognized? . . . Why do they think that they 'work hard' for their money? . . . Why are they always in and out of one clinic or another? . . . Why don't they stop sucking on that bottled water? . . Is it true that they will hump anything that will stand still? . . . Why are they such glorious marks for fake paintings, fake antiques, and fake first editions? . . . Belatedly, Bromo Eddie queries: 'Why don't they go fuck themselves?' What a serious and well-informed citizen and consumer Eddie is!' "

IMPORTANT UPDATE: For dinner tonight, shrimp sauteed in butter, garlic and lemon, boiled white rice, asparagus, St. Pauli NA in a heavy bar glass of the type preferred by Inspector Morse (the late John Thaw) of the BBC television series on PBS, and a terrible (half) Napoleon--one has had homemade Napoleons, with rich filling and apricot jelly and wonderfully flaky puff pastry, so this slop on cardboard pastry was particularly disappointing.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Downhill Trolley

Claude Simon's novella The Trolley turned out to be a downhill ride, joyless, plotless, pointlessly complex, unbound motifs (as far as I could tell) lying all over the tracks; it creates a negative impression of Simon, which is a shame because his Leçon des Choses (grotesquely translated as The World About Us) is one of the most beautiful novels I've ever read. And the back cover quotes are truly outrageous, the AP saying: "Beautiful . . . astounding and captivating." No way! It's a filthy bore compared to his other works; it's fragmented, chaotic, tedious . . . but it did serve the purpose of reminding one, in certain passages, how captivating fiction can be, how deep it can go, in contrast to the dialogue-only limitation of screenwriting:

"Surrounded on all sides by the dull roar of the anarchic urban fabric, the hospital, with its identical pavilions except for two or three more recent ones of a brutal modernism, and its monastic, silent courtyards, constituted a sort of island in the midst of the tumultuous fragile chaos like a sort of self-contained scaled-down universe, enameled and shiny from its obstetric service to its morgue, offering as though in miniature (or in some sort of résumé) the human machine in all its successive states from birth to final agony, including every possible deviation and anomaly until its definitive corruption."

RFK Role in Castro Plot Denied

Hmmn. With respect to an earlier BWR post titled "Report of Attempted Murder," an anonymous weblog called the "Real History Blog" posted the following communique with respect to the assertion in Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes that Robert Kennedy ordered the assassination of Fidel Castro:

"I'm especially upset to hear Weiner repeat the old canard that RFK ordered the killing of Castro. RFK did NOT order the CIA to kill Castro. EVER. There is NO such tape. NO such testimony. The closest you get are comments made NOT under oath by Richard Helms, which he refused to confirm when finally skewered on this point UNDER oath. Helms had his deputy, Sam Halpern, run around and tell people this was so, even though Helms knew this to be false. It's not clear if Halpern knew this to be false, it's only clear (now, with released records and additional comments from all the intimates of RFK still alive) that RFK would never have approved any murder plot. As RFK said to Dick Goodwin, he's the guy who tried to SAVE Castro.

"During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the CIA's Bill Harvey sent 10 commando teams into Cuba with the goal of killing Castro. When RFK found out, he was as furious as anyone had ever seen him. He demanded Harvey stop and Harvey said he couldn't call the teams back. RFK gave Harvey "five minutes" to explain what the hell he was thinking, doing this. Harvey tried to blame it on the Pentagon but RFK had already received believable assurances from the Pentagon that that was baloney. Five minutes later, with Harvey still talking, RFK walked. RFK then demanded the CIA fire Harvey."

No sources are specified for this information and one wonders why the weblog is anonymous.

Call Him Unforgettable

Here's a passage from J.D. Salinger's short story "Teddy" which made an impression on me when I first read it as a teenager that's never left:

"I was six when I saw that everything was God, and my hair stood up, and all that," Teddy said. "It was on a Sunday, I remember. My sister was only a very tiny child then, and she was drinking her milk, and all of a sudden I saw that she was God and the milk was God. I mean, all she was doing was pouring God into God, if you know what I mean."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Jobs Exported, Prisons Filling Up

An item from today's New York Times:

"About one in every 31 adults in the United States was in prison, in jail or on supervised release at the end of last year, the Department of Justice reported yesterday."

This sounds fundamentally awful. One out of every 31 is a lot of people. People commit crimes because the U.S. educational system has failed them (as a result of inadequate government funding) and because U.S. capitalists have been exporting jobs without limitation for too many years. Every time you pick up an item stamped "Made in China" you're holding in your hand a fragment of the shattered American Dream of individual economic self-sufficiency. Historically, cities were viewed as the "flowers of civilization." Today, all too often, they are cesspools of unemployment and crime directly attributable to the capitalists' instinct to export jobs in order to exploit third-world workers willing to labor for pennies a day. "Love thy neighbor" has been translated by the capitalist into "Take advantage of thy neighbor." This needs to change.

Hillary Voodoo Visions

Another friend writes:

I want to buy that Hillary Voodoo doll. Can you have sex with it? It would be cool if you could grab the doll’s ass during a debate and watch the real Hillary break out in a smile and start to giggle and squirm while Obama is defending his so called health plan called: “No Child Left to Die.” And you see Hillary shaking and grabbing her own ass dancing around the stage while giggling, and then pole dancing with the podium. That would get her numbers up for sure. His [Obama's] campaign team had other titles for his health plan that were shot down: No Child Left; No Child for You; No Democrat’s Child Left to Die; No more Sick Kids; Sick and Tired of Sick Kids, and on and on…all shot down. I got a lot of cyber stuff that one time or another I registered for and have never used or don’t use. It’s no different than the large portions of my cerebral cortex that go unused---empty corridors of neurotransmitters with empty memory storage compartments stacked up like boxes cluttering up the floor that lead you in a circle right back to my tongue. Some of these cortex corridors lead to dead ends, or if lucky, an old knock-knock joke at best—oh, and a few jokes that start out…”Guy walks into a bar…”. Most likely these cerebral sidewalks lead to a bald guy in diapers sitting on the floor making that motorboat sound with his lips till he falls asleep.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Educational Alternatives

A friend writes:

Before I flew out of here last night (around 8:00) I tried to leave comments on a couple of your articles, then I saw I need a Google acct. which I will do so that I can spend some time in the waiting room. I’m especially fond of the time checks---very cool, very original. What’s the matter with people, no comments on that? I guess people are just as stupid out in cyber space as they are in real life.

The witch doctor is very informative and enlightening. I’m going to engage in recreational media sensory deprivation except for one source:

The Bush Doctor’s Waiting Room

I’m going to cancel my subscription to the Boston Glob, stop watching the morning news, drop out of the Kennedy School of Government’s extension school class I was enrolled in called:

Sustaining, Maintaining, and Upgrading the Military Industrial Complex & Other Hegemonic Interests of the U.S. in an Emerging Global Economy.

Course Description:

This course explores the development and implementation of strategies to occupy, suppress, dominate, demoralize, and overthrow weaker nations in a post ante-bellum era. We will learn ways to forcibly get what we want in the name of “Peace Keeping Missions”. We will focus on nations who have what we want and whose economic growth threatens our prosperity and our God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of prosperity. We will explore ways to strip less fortunate nations of Natural Resources. We will justify this behavior following Good Old Testament Biblical Precedent, as we are a God fearing people.

Course Prerequisites:

Prior Military Experience (a dishonorable discharge is desirable). If you have no prior military experience, we will consider two of the following:

A tendency towards violence.

A Criminal Record (bring in all paperwork)

Socially Deviant Tendencies

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

An inordinate attachment to alcohol or other class 1 restricted substances

*All students must be registered Republicans

A Doc in the hand is worth Two in Bush.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Presidential Politics & Voodoo

This is to point out that a Hillary Clinton voodoo doll is available at Rodney's in Central Square, the box art showing a diagram of her (fully clothed) body with dotted lines surrounding various organs that are targets for the needles that presumably accompany the doll. BWR neither supports nor opposes the addition of this product to the "free market." It is much too early for all the presidential debating that is going on, it's all just a pretext for the television interests to increase their profits, one should feel free to ignore it all. Until poor and middle income people can run for office--which would require a campaign finance reform law that would provide for public funding of U.S. congressional elections, a cause BWR has supported for many years--the presidential election process is primarily a game for rich people to play, having little bearing on the well being of the masses of people whose labor upholds this country. Marx predicted capitalism would destroy itself, he thought through armed revolution, which never came to pass and is now an obsolete concept; the self-destruction, however, is happening as a result of the contempt in which capitalists have held the world's delicate ecosystems over the years, blinded by their crack-addict need for incessant "growth" and profits. These warm winter days send chills down one's spine. It's almost too late now--the car will have to fishtail just before it goes over the edge, skidding sideways right up to the precipice of climatological catastrophe.