I’m having mild Mad Men withdrawal symptoms so I thought I’d use the season 6 poster one more time. I suspect my friend Termite is annoyed to have to see her Mad Men bete noir, Megan, but nobody said life was fair. At least her big, scary teeth aren’t showing.
In the midst of my MM withdrawals, I’ve found a pretty swell new teevee addiction on Netflix. The British period gangster show, Peaky Blinders, which is set in post-Great War Birmingham. The show is grittier than a gravel road and has one of the weirdest titles ever. The Anglo-Irish gang involved is based on a real world gang called the Peaky Blinders, which may sound unmanly to the Bloods and Crips but I quite like it.
This week’s theme song, Riding With The King, was written by John Hiatt in 1983. I’m feeling a bit thematically excessive so I’m posting two versions. The first one is by the man himself with Sonny Landreth and the Goners. The second continues our BB-fest and was the title track of the album he did in 2000 with Eric Clapton.
More words and music after the break.
More Mad Men Mania: I originally didn’t plan to post any Mad Men related stuff today but Matthew Weiner did an interview on Wednesday at the New York Public Library with writer AM Homes. He discussed the finale but remained delightfully cryptic about the details of Don and the Coke ad. If Weiner ever writes his memoirs it should be called Tales Of The Cryptic. Click here for the Hollywood Reporter’s coverage of Mattfest. Hmm, maybe I should have dubbed it Weinerfest or Pervfest. Nah, sounds too much like a Seventies porn retrospective.
The same publication has a recently updated version of a piece from earlier this year, The Uncensored, Epic, Never-Told Story Behind Mad Men.
Garry Wills On Barney Frank: Garry Wills is one of my literary heroes and, by all accounts, a very nice guy. My late mother-in-law made his acquaintance in the ’90’s and scored me a signed copy of his 1997 classic, John Wayne and the American Dream: The Politics of Celebrity. I was a happy camper if it’s possible for someone who hates camping to be such a thing. I just discovered that an excerpt from that book is online at the New York Review of Books web site, American Adam.
That was quite a detour even for me. Oh well, the Saturday post often offers detour of my mind. Anyway, Wills has reviewed Barney Frank’s memoirs for NYRB. I didn’t know that Barney planned to be an academic and ended up in politics by accident. It was a happy accident for the country. Barney is a great inside-out player: a gifted public speaker and an even better backroom operator.
Barney Frank and I share a major point of frustration with our sisters and brothers on the Left: an over-reliance on demonstrations to make a point. I have nothing against protest marches but I agree with the Frankian aphorism: Liberals protest, conservatives vote. That’s how we end up with off-year election disasters like 2010 and 2014. Remember, one of the major goals of the Civil Rights Movement was to obtain the right to vote. In short, VOTE, BITCHES.
The Sporting News: No, I’m not linking to that venerable publication. I’m moving to the land of sub-headers in order to highlight three fine pieces about the world of sports. All I ask is that you not sub-tweet my sub-headers…
Patriots Derangement Syndrome: Slate’s Stephen Metcalf brilliantly dissects the reaction of New England Patriots fans to what the MSM insists on calling Deflategate. I prefer the term coined by Keith Olbermann: Ballghazi. This is, perhaps, the silliest sports “scandal” ever. The real “crime” here is in the cover-up by Tom Brady and the lies told in furtherance thereof. Thought I’d dazzle y’all with some legalese.
I’m officially embarrassed that Tom Brady is from my hometown of San Mateo, CA. He went to an all-male Catholic school, Serra, so at least he’s not a fellow San Mateo High alumni. If he were, he’d either be a better liar or have fessed up with a nod and a wink that he was a cunning rascal who got caught. Btw, Serra has produced two of the most mendacious sports legends ever in Brady and Barry Bonds. Of course, the Jesuits tend to be piss poor at scandal management…
Joe Posnanski On Ted Turner: Before he became a respected elder statesman, Ted Turner was a brash upstart known as the Mouth of the South. In the wake of the Miami Marlins bizarre decision to let a suit manage their ostensibly major league team, Joe Posnanski stepped into the Baseball Wayback Machine and wrote about the time Turner managed his Atlanta Braves for one game in 1977.
Jonah Keri On The Eephus Pitch: Grantland’s stellar baseball writer Jonah Keri also walked the baseball history beat this week. The eephus pitch is rarely used because players consider it unmanly. Holy Peaky Blinders, Batman. The most successful practitioner of this slow pitch was Rip Sewell who won 143 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1938 to 1949.
It’s a slow pitch that hangs in the air, an alternate name is the blooper. It can be a devastatingly effective pitch but very few pitchers in the radar gun era want to clock in at between 50 and 70 MPH. Keri unearths a possible root of the name eephus from one of the aformentioned Sewell’s teammates:
The first time Sewell’s manager Frankie Frisch saw the pitch, he was stupefied. What the hell was that thing? he asked after seeing Sewell lob the pitch by flabbergasted Tigers outfielder Dick Wakefield. Maurice Van Robays, Sewell’s teammate, wasn’t impressed. “Eephus ain’t nothing,” Van Robays said, “and that’s a nothing pitch.” No one was quite sure what “eephus” meant, though one long-standing theory holds that Van Robays was summoning “efes,” the Hebrew word for zero. Whatever the damn thing was, for Sewell it was an equalizer, a pitch he would ride for eight more seasons in the big leagues, two of those netting him more than 20 wins.
Hebrew and not Yiddish? Who knew? Anyway, check out Jonah’s piece, here’s the link again in case you missed it in the sub-header. It’s time to bid a fond adieu to the sporting news and move on:
Sweet Hitchhiker: I used to hitchhike when I was a tadpole. I’d occasionally oversleep, miss the bus, and hitch to the high school Tom Brady didn’t attend. I was usually picked up by other teenyboppers’ parental units. On one memorable occasion, I was picked up by the father of one of the biggest assholes in my graduating class. The dad was okay so I lied that I liked his creepy kid. I was much more convincing than Tom Brady. Ball? What ball?
Molly Osberg has written a swell piece for TPM about *why* hitchhiking is no longer associated with the freedom of the open road but with danger. Lions, tigers, and hitchers, oh my. Here’s a theme song for this section:
I’m way too clumsy to ride a motorcycle but I always thought Fonda, Hopper, and Nicholson looked cool, cool, cool in Easy Rider. Now they look young, young, young.
Alan Sepinwall: He literally wrote the book about the golden age of teevee drama when he was still the critic for the Newark Star-Ledger. That’s the paper that Tony Soprano ambled down to get in his white bathrobe. Sepinwall now writes for something called HitFix and has his own section there called What’s Alan Watching. He’s been all over the Mad Men finale like a cheap suit but writes about all things quality teevee. He has his own take on Matthew (The Perv) Weiner’s finale comments, which can be found here.
Saturday Standards: This week’s jazzy tunefest features the 1957 debut album of the great pianist and singer Nina Simone, Little Girl Blue. Along with Harry Belafonte, Ms. Simone is one of the musicians most associated with the Civil Rights Movement. Read this 2004 New Yorker profile of her while you listen to the album: