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Anyway, I was in a sour mood yesterday and I didn’t…
Uh, I was, you know, Anastasia went to bed early. I don’t blame her. I was… “Where’s the big rainstorm you promised?” [Laughter.] I mean… uh… you know… I was blaming Anastasia for the weather, that was the sort of mood I was in.
And then I watched Death in Venice, followed by Now You See Me 2, the sequel to the… burgling magicians, uh, thing. Is that my…? That’s who I am! That’s my… uh… that’s what I do.
Mm, uh. Death in Venice, followed by…
I couldn’t sleep.
But Death in Venice—really a horror movie. It was like Jaws, except cholera was the shark. But there was no… plucky sheriff who was g—going out and defeating cholera.
So it really wasn’t like Jaws. It was more like—well, Jaws does have something in common with those movies where… someone—a stranger, or it’s often a couple, though not in this case. In this case it’s an old composer whose hair dye tragically trickles down his face as he expires on the beach.
[Throat clearing. Lip smack.]
Anyway, this guy…
He’s like the young couple who comes to town. Oh, there are any number of movies. Children of the Corn. Green Room. Whatever. You know: “Hey, somethin’s not quite right with this place.” Uh, The Howling. That’s what Death in Venice was like, except… not. But… yes. Very much so. I’d like to see someone do an analysis of it as a horror movie. Man, this black-toothed guitarist who—with the greenish-white face, who pops out of the… strolls along the… uh… patio… with his merry band, singing in people’s faces and then doing one song where he just goes, “Wah-ha-ha-ha, wah-ha-ha-ha,” just laughing like a… loon! And, uh, of course he represents the… I don’t know what he represents. But he’s cholera! Right? I mean he’s the… he’s the laughing… he’s the laughing god. He’s the… he’s the absurdity of life. He’s the… uh… spiteful… uh… chortle. [Laughter.] “The spiteful chortle.” See? I could think of… if I were, you know… that’s terrible, “spiteful chortle.” In the face of death. Or he is death. Or both. I don’t know what he is. He’s a crazy green-faced… uh… mocking gargoyle… ehhh, clown.
And then Now You See Me 2. As I say. Here we are. This is me. I have no… uhh… taste… I’ll watch Death in Venice, Visconti, I’ll follow it up with Now You See Me 2 because it’s on TV. Uhhm…
Do I have anything to say about that movie?
I fff—feel like last night I had thoughts. [Laughter.] As I watched it. Uhm, unpleasant thoughts. Something in it… some small event triggered melancholy… and caused me to… think b—oh! I know!
Oh, there’s the mail, uh, carrier. She… probably just saw me sitting here on the couch talking to myself. I’m sure she’s seen stranger things. She startled me. Oh, she’s comin’ back! She forgot somethin’.
[Faint bumping noises from outside.]
Oh, but Now You See Me 2 takes place in Macau. And… I… it reminded me… that’s what it re—one thing it reminded me of is that I had written a, a whole screenplay in a matter of days… for none other than Felix Biltmore, the producer of the pioneering prestige TV drama Firing Blanks, or the creator, I mean, of the pioneering prestige TV drama Firing Blanks, and other things since, not so pioneering. This was some years ago, when I was broke. He was at a birthday party of my old pal Frankie Gun’s, and…
This is off the subject but the next day, I snubbed… [coffee being poured] JFK’s granddaughter, who was part of Felix Biltmore’s entourage, and whom I had met at Frankie’s party the night before. I was walking through a department store looking for a hat because Frankie Gun had shaved my head for a birthday entertainment. Here she came toward me with purpose, her eyes glinting, JFK’s granddaughter. I was like, “Who is that?” I didn’t recognize her. “One of my former students? Oh no!” And I blew her off.
Oh! Yes. I snubbed a Kennedy.
I think the birthdays of Frankie Gun used to be wild affairs, but the… uh… I never stayed late enough to find out. As the years have gone on—well, you know, Frankie will… often talk about the birthday party of his—and this is probably before Anastasia and I moved to town. This was before our time. [Coffee drink. Lip smack.]
Frankie often tells of the time that Barry Hannah and his wife arrived half an hour early for the party and Barry had for Frankie… a… fur jockstrap or “merkin,” as Frankie sometimes calls it. And according to Frankie, late that night he… put on that fur jockstrap—and you know, I’m just as happy that I wasn’t there. It sounds… [long pause] alarming.
He put on this fur jockstrap and declared his intention to jump from the roof of his guesthouse over onto the roof of his… house. I… don’t even know if it was a guesthouse at the time, that’s a refurbishment I recall happening while we were here, or at least they made it… it’s very fancy now, you know. It looks like a miniature version of their actual house! It’s kinda neat.
Well, anyway, he didn’t make the… leap. But apparently he did parade around in nothing but a fur jockstrap for a certain period of time.
These, these parties, you know… It’s usually… Well, it’s really the whole town that’s involved. It’s an ecumenical sort of party.
But y—they get older every year! And the party becomes… I guess more chatty and less rowdy. By necessity, by… the [stifled laugh] second law of thermodynamics. [Short laugh.]
I mean, you know, there’s a rotating cast of MFA students, I suppose, who stay the same age as the… other participants become more horrifically decrepit.
Please come along! the next bit is here.
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.