The Worst Video Ever?

I post this video without comment…Well, OK, with just two comments:

1) This video by someone named Mark Gormley may be the worst video ever.

2) When I watch this video, all I want to do is shout out to the girl, “Run for your life! Get off the beach! That creepy guy Mark Gormley with the high-pitched voice is heading toward the beach! Run!”

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Portrait of the artist

Portrait of the artist looking for the red EXIT signs?
Portrait of the artist looking for the red EXIT signs?

Had my photo/portrait/post office mugshot taken today as I begin the final week of my three-week stay at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, where I’ve done lots of work on a novel — inspired by the life story of the real-life 1920s Italian anarchist with the unlikely name of Severino DiGiovanni — and where they have invited me four times in the last four years to spend time as a fiction-writing fellow because, nearest as I can figure, I’m a fellow who writes fiction.

Anyway, however I got here, I’m very excited about this novel. But I’m wondering about this photo.

A writer friend who’s very smart and very hip and very talented and very published just messaged me to say “Great picture!”

My brother, on the other hand, who I can always count on for his support because he’s blood, emailed back: “You look like a serial killer.”

So, let’s say early reviews are mixed. I myself don’t know what to think.

Do I look like an author? Do I have that intelligent, slightly bohemian, interesting, he’s-a-genius-but-an-approachable-genius look that I suppose all writers — or maybe it’s just me — crave?

Or do I look like I’m lost? Like I’m being interrogated by the NSA and CIA and FBI and KGB all at once in order to save time? Like I have amnesia and I’m wondering why I keep hearing nothing on the radio but country music and fire-and-brimstone preachers? Like I’m doing a screen test for Andy Warhol’s Incredible Plastic Inevitable?

Or like I’m just about finished contemplating and now I’m about to answer a reporter’s question: “What, Mr. DiGiovanni, is the meaning of life?”

Well, if I’m in the mood, and I think you’re all ready to handle it, I’ll answer that question in my next blog post — but in a pre-screened post that will be available only to people who, like my astute writer friend, with declare with great enthusiasm: “Great picture!”

A horse is a horse (of course)

I just took on an assignment to write a podcast script, geared toward children in fourth-grade, on the topic of “Famous Horses and Dogs.”

When it comes to dogs, I’m thinking about FDR’s famous pooch Fala, Rin Tin Tin, Snoopy, Lassie, the Hound of the Baskervilles and Superman’s dog, Krypto. Wait, I forgot Huckleberry Hound and Deputy Dawg!

Deputy Dawg
Deputy Dawg
Huckleberry Hound
Huckleberry Hound

For horses, so far I’ve thought of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s famous steed Traveler, Fury, Trigger, Black Beauty, Secretariat, Seabiscuit, Pegasus and — of course, of course — Mister Ed!

I think Mister Ed had to be just about the most amazing horse ever. Yes, some of these other horses did stuff like winning the Kentucky Derby or galloping into battle, but how many of those other horses could talk? And, yes, I remember that Supergirl owned Comet the Super-Horse. Don’t believe me? Here’s visual proof:

Supergirl rides Comet the Super-Horse as her cousin Superman looks on.
Supergirl rides Comet the Super-Horse as her cousin Superman looks on.

But none of these horses or dogs had Mister Ed’s winning personality. And none of them could sing. Here’s Mister Ed singing “Empty Feed Bag Blues” —

‘She looks TERRIBLE in that gown!’

I used to be intelligent, maybe even an intellectual. For example, I read James Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake” while still in college. And I’ve been to several off-Broadway plays.

But now I spend my Friday evenings sitting in front of a television screen watching a program called “Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress.”

The premise: Young brides-to-be visit bridal-gown shops, one in New York City and one, for some reason, in Atlanta. They bring with them an entourage — best friends, members of the wedding party, mothers, future mothers-in-law, and even the occasional overprotective and prudish father, including one guy who kept saying that a gown his daughter had tried on was “showing too much of her skin.”

Assisted by store staff, the young women try on different dresses, then model them for friends and family who offers their comments and critiques — and catty remarks, insults and even the occasional threat.

And I happily join in:
“She looks awful in that dress!”
“I can’t believe she’s leaning toward the dress with all of those sequins!”
“Is she getting married or going to a costume party?”
“The ‘mermaid’ look just isn’t her. What the hell is she thinking?”

My companion looks at me, wonders whether she’s ruined me forever, then laughs and offers some comment of her own about the overbearing mother or the too-bubbly bride or the members of the bride’s entourage, who often closely resemble a school of barracudas.

I used to watch nothing on TV except PBS and baseball games. Now I watch “Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress.”

Maybe this either proves or disproves the theory of evolution. Maybe it just says something about the simple pleasure of sitting together and laughing about the latest episode of the human comedy. Maybe I should confess that I’ve also gotten into watching “Something Borrowed, Something New,” in which brides-to-be have to choose between wearing the wedding gown of their dreams – or wearing their mother’s or grandmother’s original wedding gown, altered and updated and tailored to fit a modern bride.

Or maybe I’ll re-read “Finnegan’s Wake” – while watching the next season of “Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress.”

coverforamazon

I’m happy to announce that my reading and book-signing at the Holland-Alexandria Free Public Library has been rescheduled. I’ll be appearing there on Saturday, March 16, at 1 p.m. I’m looking forward to returning to my old turf in Hunterdon County in western New Jersey — I lived in Alexandria Township for many years and edited the local weekly paper, the now-defunct Delaware Valley News.

Here’s a photo of me posing with the statue of Rip Van Winkle in Irvington, N.Y.:
me and rip van winkle

Here’s an updated schedule of other scheduled “Rip” readings and book-signings:/em>:

Tuesday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m., Highland Park Public Library, Highland Park, NJ

Saturday, Feb. 23, 1 p.m., Howland Public Library, Beacon, NY

Thursday, April 4, 5 p.m., Port Jervis Free Public Library, Port Jervis NY

Saturday, April 13, 2 p.m., Hunterdon County Library, Raritan Township, NJ

Monday, April 22, 6 p.m., Somers Public Library, Katonah, NY.

At each venue, I’ll read excerpts from my satirical modern-day “retelling” of “Rip Van Winkle,” talk a little about my longtime affection for the works of Washington Irving, answer questions, and sign copies for people who buy the book, which will be available for purchase after the reading. Admission to all events is free.

“Rip” tide rolls up the Hudson

me and rip van winkle

I’ll be in Peekskill, N.Y., this Saturday afternoon (Jan. 19) for another “Rip” reading and book-signing.

Here’s a link to a write-up in the Peekskill edition of the online news outlet Patch.

As for that photo above — That’s me and Rip Van Winkle…More exactly, that’s me posing with a great statue of Rip Van Winkle on a lawn next to the village hall in Irvington, N.Y., where I gave a “Rip” reading last Saturday.

Irvington — named after the author of the classic story “Rip Van Winkle” — is just a lovely riverside town just south of Tarrytown (former stomping grounds of Washington Irving, the Headless Horseman and the Rip character in my parody of Irving’s classic story — in my book, Rip works as a toll collector on the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown!)

Anyway, try to make it to my reading this Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Field Library, 4 Nelson Ave, Peekskill, N.Y.