Odds & Sods: Almost Saturday Night Edition

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Things have been a bit quiet on Saturdays here recently, so I’m starting a kinda, sorta semi-regular feature wherein I suggest stuff for y’all to read. I’ll also engage in the odd Oddsy & Sodsy hijinks. And who among us doesn’t like hijinks?

First, a musical interlude before we get to the meat of the post after the break, unless, that is, you’re a vegan in which case please come up with your own analogy. I got nothing for you:

Mad Men Music:  My old pal and ex-work wife Liprap sent me a link to a swell piece about the music of Mad Men by Chris Molanphy at NPR. Hmm, I wonder if he’s one of the Mole People or merely related to John Agar? Probably neither. Anyway, if you wanna get your Zou Bisou Bisou on, click on this title: A (Nearly) Comprehensive Guide to the Music of Mad Men.

Bryan On Brian: Everybody’s been buzzing about Bryan Burrough’s dishy, gossipy, and informative Vanity Fair article about soon-to-be-former NBC anchorman Brian Williams. It appears that Tom Brokaw still has the hammer at NBC News and he seems to have wielded it on Williams who did, however, deserve to be smacked. Besides, Lester Holt is an even more anchory anchor than Williams and his name isn’t a punch line. We need Mo-lester and less Lyin’ Brian…

Click here if you want to burrow into Bryan’s piece, The Inside Story of the Civil War for the Soul of NBC News. Btw, the story isn’t as pretentious as the title.

Surrender Day: Speaking of Civil Wars and Brians, Brian Beutler of TNR wrote two, count ’em two, provocative pieces arguing that the day Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox should be a national holiday. I quite agree, we can do shit like light the Stars and Bars on fire and shave white beards off Robert E. Lee effigies. It could be our very own Guy Fawkes Day, a time we say Fawkes you to the Confederacy. This won’t go down well at Stone Mountain, Georgia or places where they sell Wade Hampton bobbleheads. I made that last bit up, y’all.

Beutler’s first piece Make the Confederacy’s Defeat a National Holiday really stirred the pot and riled some folks up. We haven’t heard from Aqua Buddha’s pal the Confederate Avenger yet, but he should take  to heart Brian’s second article Southerner’s Shouldn’t Take Attacks on the Confederacy Personally. Easier said than done for some people.

The Birth of a Nation Revisited:  D.W. Griffith’s 1915 epic is the most problematical great film ever made. In many ways, it established the visual grammar for all large-scale films to come. It was also an ode to white supremacy and one of the most racist movies ever produced.

The Birth of a Nation caused controversy in liberal circles in 1915 as to *how* to respond to it. There was a dispute  between free speech absolutists who denounced the movie, with whom I side, and those who wanted it censored or banned. That brings me to Dorian Lynskey’s terrific article for Slate, taking a fresh look at the controversy on the centennial of the film’s release: How the Fight to Ban The Birth of a Nation Shaped American History.

Speaking of Slate and Grant and Lee, Jamelle Bouie wrote an outstanding article for them about the differing historical reputations of the two Civil War Generals. I’ve never quite gotten the Lee mystique and have come to appreciate Grant’s Presidency more and more all the time. Anyway, check out Jamelle’s thoughtful post, The Unlikely Paths of Grant and Lee. Hint, he’s a Grant man. No surprise there.

Michael White’s UK Election Primer:  There’s a heated and very interesting general election going on in Great Britain. The defeat of the Scottish Independence referendum had the unexpected effect of elevating the Scottish National Party and damaging Scottish Labour so badly that it could let the Tories ooze back into power. I’ll be writing more about it in the weeks to come, but in the meantime, the Guardian’s Michael White has written a great primer for the unitiated, Britain’s Election: Rise of Scottish and English Nationalists Threatens Old Order.

Tell It Goodbye: That was the home run call of the retired voice of the San Francisco Giants, Lon Simmons who died earlier this week at the age of 91. Lon’s self-deprecating humor and booming voice played an important part in my childhood. He’ll be missed.

The Saturday Standards: It’s time for a mini-semi-regular feature that will end this mini-semi-regular feature when I feel like doing it. I’ll post an album of standards that you may or may not have heard. We’ll start with 1959’s A Jazz Portrait Of Frank Sinatra by the Oscar Peterson Trio in the playlist format. The only vocalizing to be found is Oscar’s humming: