Another thing I remembered about Larry McMurtry

during the Q&A after the “Brokeback Mountain” screening, someone mentioned that the movie risked being labelled “the gay cowboy movie.” McMurtry, with a tone of baffled wonderment at the world’s foolishness, said “they’re not cowboys!  They’re itinerant ranch hands!”


Le Bal des Ardents

Wikipedia recently had an incredibly interesting article of the day, about a disastrous court entertainment that occurred in Paris in 1383.  I recommend this article, and the related article on the “glass delusion“, but if you’re short on time this picture pretty much tells the whole story:


Larry McMurtry, Walter Benjamin At The Dairy Queen

I hate having to say the title of this book when I recommend it.  But it is a good read.  Larry McMurtry says he was drinking a lime Dr. Pepper (“easily obtainable by anyone willing to buy a lime and a Dr. Pepper”) and reading Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Storyteller,” and then he decided to write this book to work out his subsequent thoughts.

The subtitle is “Reflections At Sixty And Beyond.”  It is sort of about the idea of storytelling and oral history, but mostly it seems to be McMurty’s meandering but fascinating musings and memories centered around this fact:

[I] am one of the few writers who can still claim to have had prolonged and intimate contact with first-generation American pioneers, men and women who came to a nearly absolute emptiness and began the filling of it themselves

Here is a good part:

In a tent (later a shack) not far south of our ranch house, in post oak scrub near the West Fork of the Trinity River, lived a woman who had (reportedly) been traded for a whole winter’s catch of skunk hides, the exchange occurring when she was about thirteen.  The man who had her (by what right I don’t know) stopped to spend the night in the camp of a skunk trapper, who immediately took a fancy to the girl – such a fancy, indeed, that he offered his winter’s catch for her.  The traveler took the hides and left the girl, who lived to bear the trapper many children; she stayed down near West Fork for the rest of her life.  When, as an old woman, she would occasionally need to go to town for some reason, she simply walked out to the nearest dirt road and stood, in silence, until some passerby picked her up and took her where she was going.  This passerby was often my father, though sometimes it was the school but I rode in.  I rode to town with the old woman – once worth more than fifty skunk hides- many times but I never heard her speak a single word.

I saw McMurtry speak once at a screening of “Brokeback Mountain,” which he co-wrote.  Someone asked him his writing process.  He said that he wakes up in the morning and goes to the typewriter and writes three pages.  As soon as he gets to the bottom of page three, even if he’s in the middle of a sentence, he stops.  Usually, he said, he’s done by about 8am, and then he spends the day doing whatever – I remember him mentioning he might take a walk in the desert.  He also said that found it very important to work every single day, and that the build-up of “momentum” was essential to finishing a book.

Anyway, this walk-in-the-desert lifestyle appealed to me.  In another book (Film Flam) McMurtry says he only writes for two hours a day, and suggests that the idea of writers struggling really hard with their work may be a misguided one.


Stamps are amazing


Amazing moment

recounted in this Will Leitch interview with Spike Lee:

What do you think of Romney?
You know what’s funny? I met him in an airport, Reagan National Airport, and we said hello. It was, like, two, three years ago. I was just in D.C. and he was there and he said, “What’s up, Spike?” and I said, “What’s happening, Mitt?” We were in line getting something to eat. So I said what’s up and shook hands. I think it is going to be very, very, very close.

Readers, are you as surprised as I am that Mitt could recognize Spike Lee?


This Is Our Youth, by Kenneth Lonergan

This is how the character Jessica is described in the stage directions:

She is a fairly cheerful but very nervous girl, whose self-taught method of coping with her nervousness consists of seeking out the nearest available oasis of self-assurance and entrenching herself there with a watchful defensiveness that sweeps away anything that might threaten to dislodge her, including her own chances at happiness and the opportunity of gaining a wider perspective on the world that might eventually make her less nervous to begin with.


Wonderful sentence

from wikipedia’s article about British radio personality C. E. M. Joad:

He involved himself in psychical research, traveling to the Harz Mountains to help [Harry] Price to test whether the ‘Bloksberg Tryst’ would turn a male goat into a handsome prince at the behest of a maiden pure in heart (it did not)

I mean, even just this summary of Joad is pretty great:

Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad (August 12, 1891 – April 9, 1953) was an English philosopher and broadcasting personality. He is most famous for his appearance on The Brains Trust, an extremely popular BBC Radio wartime discussion programme. He managed to popularise philosophy and became a celebrity, before his downfall in the Train Ticket Scandal of 1948.

Let’s learn about Joad’s romantic life, while we’re at it:

He described sexual desire as “a buzzing bluebottle that needed to be swatted promptly before it distracted a man of intellect from higher things.” He believed that female minds lacked objectivity, and he had no interest in talking to women who would not go to bed with him. By now Joad was “short and rotund, with bright little eyes, round, rosy cheeks, and a stiff, bristly beard.” He dressed in shabby clothing as a test: if people sneered at this they were too petty to merit acquaintance.

I dunno, you tell me if you think he’s looker enough to pull that off, ladies:

Now, the sad part of the story is that I can find out nothing else about the cartoonist “Griff” who apparently drew this cartoon.  It is from Courier Magazine, Vol 5 No 1, 1945.  That’s all I got!