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January 12, 2008:

THE MEAT OF THINGS

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I do believe what we have here is a Saturday. And it’s one of those Saturdays when she of the Evil Eye will be here bright and early so I shall have to write abridged notes. Yes, Virginia, I must write abridged notes so that like abridged over troubled waters I wil lay me down to get my beauty sleep. So, rather than dally and tarry or even tarry and dally, I shall get to the meat of things, whatever the HELL that means. Why is it always “I’ll get to the meat of things?” Just once I’d like to hear someone say, “I’ll get to the fish of things” or “I’ll get to the veal of things.” But alas and alack, I fear it shall never be. Speaking of the veal of things, yesterday was a day in which I was very focused. For example, I woke up. Actually, I found it difficult to focus for the first few minutes of my arising, but soon thereafter everything focused just fine. I got my bearings (they were in the refrigerator – and frankly I’d just like to know who PUT the bearings in there), and soon I was writing away. A book dealer came by at around noon, but didn’t stay long. He likes to come see what I’ve got (he’s bought a lot from me over the years), but lately, seeing the prices he charges for things he’s gotten from me (sometimes quadruple what he’s paid me), I have not wanted to do business with him. He’s a very nice guy, but, you know, I don’t mind dealers doubling their money, but anything more is taking advantage of who they’re buying from (I don’t mean stores, I mean private book people). One book he once got from me for $400 (and it was like pulling teeth to get that) he turned around in one day and sold for $2,000. And that was from a DEALER. He knew he could get that, so instead of being so difficult, he should have paid me a grand. It soured me, frankly. So, he left empty-handed. He was interested in the things he’s always been interested in, but he knew I wasn’t going to cheap out. He’s been after all my Ira Levin books, which are all inscribed to me, and those won’t be going anywhere. He was also interested in my copy of Blazing Guns On The Chisolm Trail by Borden Chase, a very, very rare book. This copy is not the greatest – the book itself is pretty good, but the jacket has a slight trim to the top and bottom – that said, there are no chunks out and it shows beautifully. Now, keep in mind that there are 0 copies of this book on the Internet. Copies that do come up go for pretty big bucks. I happen to get it fairly cheap – sometimes you just luck out and are in the right place at the right time. The reason for the book’s scarcity and why it is highly sought after is because it’s the source material for the classic western Red River. Now, I could live without it, and so I told him I’d entertain an offer. His response? “I think I’ll wait for a better copy.” Honey, you’ll be waiting a long, long time – my copy is the only copy I’ve seen in thirty-five years of book collecting. At the time I bought it (at a book fair – a dealer had it, but you really had to dig to find it), I could have tripled my money without leaving the premises. So, snooze lose, that’s my motto, book-wise. After he left, I did a couple of quick errands, then went back to writing – all told, I did more than I’d expected to do. I then grabbed a bite to eat at Tallyrand, a coffee shop in the Bank of Bur, and then I came home and sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a couple of episodes of the first season of The Fugitive, starring Mr. David Janssen and Mr. Barry Morse. The show’s basic conceit, of course, derives from Les Miserables – the relentless detective is called Gerard (not so far from Javert). I never watched the show much when it was originally on, so it was fun to see a couple of episodes. The show looked great, and back then must have seemed quite original. The writing isn’t brilliant, but the parade of guest stars and supporting cast are what make the show so much fun. Already we’ve had Vera Miles, Brian Keith (what a GREAT actor he was), Pat Crowley, Sandy Dennis and a whole slew of great and instantly recognizable character people like Elisha Cook, Jr. and Ray Teal. The music is either by Pete Rugolo (who wrote the terrific theme) or tracked from the CBS Library. Episode two is almost all Bernard Herrmann Twilight Zone music. The transfers are impeccable. I’ve also been watching episodes of Peter Gunn before hitting the road to dreamland. They don’t hold up that well, but my goodness what a completely unique looking and sounding series it was – groundbreaking, really. It’s courtesy of Blake Edwards, who directed several episodes – it’s very noirish and dark, and the casting of the series regulars was terrific. Craig Stevens oozes suavity and style, Lola Albright looks gorgeous and her sultry singing is very sexy, and any series that has Hope Emerson as a character called Mother is okay by me. What makes the show completely unique and original, of course, is Henry Mancini’s brilliant music – jazzy, funky, funny, smooth as silk and TV had never really heard anything like it. At the end of the day, as a kid I probably liked Blake’s other show better – Mr. Lucky. But Peter Gunn was a one-off show and it’s still fun to watch. The transfers seem like they’re taken from 16mm prints, complete with cue marks – I’d love to see these in pristine condition, but who knows if the negatives even exist anymore.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below, because I really must get to the meat of things very soon.

Today I shall play until she of the Evil Eye is on her merry way, and then I shall return and write all the livelong afternoon. After that, I know not. I may eat something interesting, I may watch a DVD or three, or I may just sit about twiddling my thumbs and perhaps even twiddling my pinkies.

Tomorrow, more writing, but I shall also attend to some music matters that need attending to. This coming week, I’m seeing as many of the DGA nominated films as I can, and also the Otto Preminger festival begins, and I’m going to several of those films. I also have an opening night to go to on Friday – something at the Pasadena Playhouse called Orson’s Shadow by Austin Pendelton. Add to that writing and meetings, and yes, Virginia, it’s going to be one crazy week.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, play, write, write, hopefully pick up a package or two, write, then eat, then have an evening’s entertainment. Today’s topic of discussion: What were the TV shows you saw as a youngster that totally blew you away because they were so different looking and sounding? For me, it was The Twilight Zone, Peter Gunn, Mr. Lucky, Have Gun, Will Travel, The Outer Limits, and probably a couple of others. Your turn. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, as we all attempt to get to the meat of things.

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