Monday, February 27, 2023

A brush with greatness

While we’re on the topic of Anthony Burgess I would be negligent were I not to bring up the fact that while his writing was very very good his combover was very very bad. Very very very bad. Spectacularly bad. Simply terrible. He must have known it; to arrange one’s hair in such a manner requires the use of a mirror. Why did he do it? Maybe by the time he noticed he felt it was too late to go back. Maybe he did it to torment us. Or maybe he had some kind of bet going with Zero Mostel.

Monday, February 20, 2023

In which I blame my parents

“Please, Please, Please” is a 1956 single by James Brown and the Famous Flames. It’s a tremendous record. I just listened to it three times in a row and, seriously, James Brown is so good it’s ridiculous. Nafloyd Scott plays guitar. Nashpendle Knox plays saxophone. Unlike the people who named me “Dave,” the parents of these two musicians were obviously committed to making this a more beautiful and interesting world in which to live. I’m not making fun here; I mean it. If I had been blessed with a name like Nashpendle, I might have done something with my life.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Don't read this

Would you buy an item that included instructions that strongly advised against putting it to the only use for which you might be moved to acquire it? Like if potato chip bags came with a warning that said, “Do not put this product in your mouth and chew it up and swallow it.” If there was a sticker on your dashboard that said, “Under no circumstance is this vehicle to be used for transportation.” Or socks had a tag that read, “For God’s sake, don’t even think about putting these things on your feet!” So what’s the deal with Q-Tips?

Monday, February 6, 2023

Minigolf with pipefitters

For some reason, they tend to wrap up interviews with writers with a question about which three writers, living or dead, you would invite for dinner. First off, I think live ones. Okay, okay. You know what would be awful? Octavia Butler, Franz Kafka, Emily Dickinson. Excruciating. Anthony Burgess, Anne Tyler, Charles Portis? That might be congenial, but really you’d want to invite incompetent writers because the best ones have put everything they have to say down on paper. It’s actually a profoundly silly question; why not ask for the names of three dentists with whom you’d like to bowl?