Saturday Odds & Sods: I See Red

Veteran Ventriloquist by Fred G Johnson
Sideshow banner by Fred G. Johnson.

I had a bug for my birthday this year. That part didn’t really bug me. I wouldn’t mind not celebrating my natality again until I’m even more creaky and decrepit that I am at this stage. I’m not sure if that qualifies as a hilarious harangue but it’s all I’ve got. Donald Trump has cornered the market on hilarious harangues so perhaps I should be content with being the veteran ventriloquist. Unfortunately, my lips move…

This week’s theme song is Split Enz’s I See Red. It’s a simple tune that’s more contagious than a sick blogger or some such shit. Split Enz were the demented antipodean cousins of my hometown favorites, the Tubes. They really had that quirky theatrical thing going on as you’ll see in these two versions. First, the original promo video from 1978 featuring Tim Finn at his spazzy best. Second, a live version from the band’s 2006 reunion. Dig the crazy threads, man:

I’m not through with seeing red. I love the look of the cover of the single for I See Red. Dig the crazy big hair, man. They kinda look like chicks from Jersey:

Split Enz I See Red (Australia)

More extreme redness after the break. I promise to keep it simply red.

I should apologize for that pun since our fearless leader admitted to pun-o-phobia the other evening in the Crack Den. But I won’t. I’m a proud, unregenerate, verging on degenerate, punster. Sorry if I make you see red, A:

Split-Enz-I-See-Red---Red-V-26856SE red vinyl

Speaking of people who see red, who see red, who see red:

Ginger Power: I got in trouble with one of our regular readers 2 months ago for describing the Cake Troll as a “ginger redneck.” It was meant as a rhetorical flourish and reader Muddy took offense. I apologized and offered to take it down but was offered this clear as opposed to muddy advice:

Don’t remove it, I’m just mentioning it so people can keep it in mind. There are frequently assumptions made about gingers where their behavior is somehow linked to the hair color they were born with. This is akin to the skin thing.

I am happy to mock the idiot guy for the way he chooses to groom his head and face however. That’s a choice, and not a good one.

It’s true that *some* ginger beards can be unfortunate. I think it’s why everyone in Thirtysomething ragged on Timothy Busfield. Stop me before I move on to Jesse Tyler Ferguson jokes and get in more trouble…

It’s time to get to the point: Amanda Hess’ hilarious review of what amounts to a ginger manifesto by Jacky Colliss Harvey. Ms. Hess is also a ginger but doesn’t claim it explains what ales her. Now A is *really* seeing red.

Hess’ essay is a tour de force of sardonic sarcasm, which makes it a must read for people who like snark. It’s not my thing, said the ventriloquist’s dummy to the bemusement of the audience. I hope this won’t get me in more trouble with our readers. I’d hate to be tossed into a Black Muddy River by Muddy:

Sometimes the fog of history makes one see red, see red, see red:

Confederate Confederacy Of Dunces: The raging controversy over Confederate monuments in New Orleans continues. We do outrage quite well here, which cuts against our image as the Big Easy. On this issue, we’re more like the Big Angry. There are two pieces by local writers that I’d like to steer in your direction but whatever you do, don’t run the red light.

My snarky blogger buddy Jeffrey is a proud crank as well as a Twitter legend. He puts those skills to good use in a recent post about the monumental dispute, I Wanna See Some History. I think he sums it up quite well early in this photo essay:

This will only take about all of the rest of our lives to resolve.  Not that it should take that long. As I and others have said, this isn’t as complicated as the reactionaries are making it out to be. The specific monuments in question represent a propaganda campaign on the part of Confederate apologists during the Jim Crow period. It is time to end that campaign. We’ve spent enough time trying to annotate or compromise with it to know that isn’t going to work.

Jeffrey takes us on a tour of monuments and reaches the same conclusion that I have: Take ’em down. I favor moving them to City Park and concocting some sort of secret garden of Confederate and white supremacist monuments. It won’t be enough to shut up the Confederate confederacy of dunces but it would have the virtue of both preserving the bad old days and placing them in historical context.

Cronyfest 2015 continues with a piece about Robert E. Lee and his slaves by my friend James Karst in the Vestigial-Picayune. There’s an alternate title floating about the internet: Robert E. Lee Was A Piece Of Shit. Here’s why it’s appropriate: In his capacity as executor, the so-called gentleman cavalier overrode his father-in-law’s will and kept the slaves of Arlington House in bondage.

Onslow 2

If Lee had been a woman, I could have made jokes about him playing dirty executrix, but he wasn’t so I’ll only make the one. The case of fellow high level traitor, Jefferson Davis is rather different. He was arrested wearing women’s clothes.


Talk about an ugly drag queen president. That print gives a whole new meaning to the chorus of a David Bowie classic:

Rebel Rebel, you’ve torn your dress
Rebel Rebel, your face is a mess
Rebel Rebel, how could they know?
Hot tramp, I love you so.

I don’t love the traitorous tramp, but I like the idea of a theatrical production, Jefferson Davis: The Glam Years.

I don’t know about you, but I think Ziggy Stardust could have kicked Jeff’s ass even with the eye patch.

There was something that had *me* seeing red this week. I somehow missed a January article about the pulps in the New Yorker:

The Birth Of Pulp Fiction: How Emily Bronte Met Mickey Spillane- The title makes me visualize Stacy Keach as Mike Hammer playing Heathcliff in a version of Wuthering Heights set in pre-hipster Brooklyn. It’s a winner, I tell ya.

Anyway, check out Louis Menard’s pulpilicious article by clicking here. I remain preoccupied with Spillane-Bronte crossovers but will return to sanity directly. Hey, NO LAUGHING in the cheap seats, or I’ll sic my ventriloquist’s dummy on you. Better yet, I could go all Mortimer Snerd on your ass:

Fozzie, Mortimer & Bergen
Fozzie Bear. Mortimer Snerd and Edgar Bergen.

Notice that I threw in a Bear and a Swede for added intimidation. Hmm, I wonder if Mike Hammer ever did the Muppet Show? He’d show Statler and Waldorf a thing or two about heckling.

Now that I’ve gotten lost in a deeply silly pop-culture haze, it’s time for one more item for your reading list. Since it involves a Scientologist, it may make you see red, see red, see red:

Cruise Control: Bilge Ebiri wrote a piece for Vulture that proclaims, It’s Time To Start Liking Tom Cruise Again. I don’t care for the whole scientology, anti-shrink thing but I like him as a movie star. Let’s face it: I like John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart on the big screen and both of them were right-wingers. The Duke was a rabid, chickenhawk wingnut whereas Stewart had all his shots and served in the Army Air Corps but was equally conservative. I could name other movie stars I like who weren’t paragons but I won’t. I don’t want this turning into TMZ…

Cruise is mostly doing big budget action flicks now, but he’s one of the few old school movie stars around. He’s had tons of bad publicity but I, for one, didn’t mind when he went apeshit on Oprah. Anything that bugs Oprah can’t be all bad, after all.

Mr. Ebiri wrote an earlier piece for Rolling Stone wherein he ranked all of Cruise’s films. I don’t entirely agree with the rankings since The Last Samurai (#25) was way too low and Born On The Fourth Of July was ranked too high at number 2. Don’t get me wrong: Cruise was damn good in that picture but I HATE Oliver Stone’s pompous and bombastic films. I always feel as if I went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson after seeing one.

Here’s my Tom Cruise Top Ten:

  1. Jerry Maguire
  2. Minority Report
  3. Rain Man
  4. Magnolia
  5. Risky Business
  6. War Of The Worlds
  7. The Color Of Money
  8. A Few Good Men
  9. The Last Samurai
  10. Mission: Impossible

Obviously, my taste runs more to the flicks he made with major directors such as Spielberg, Levinson, and Scorsese. Hell, it’s even true of the popcorn movie at number 10: it was directed by the erratic but often brilliant Brian De Palma.

In short, I don’t care if Tom Cruise’s life has been grist for the tabloids. Speaking of which, it’s time for a new Saturday Odds & Sods feature:

Documentary Of The Week: I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries on YouTube and Netflix of late so I decided to add this feature. As y’all may have noticed, I’m all about regular features. If it’s on the YouTube, I’ll even post the video. How’s that for thoughtful? I am a considerate motherfucker.

This week’s pick is streaming on Netflix. Enquiring Minds  is a 20014 film by Ken Burns’ kid brother Ric about the life and times of National Enquirer publisher Generoso (Gene) Pope Jr. (I hope Ric doesn’t see red over that characterization but there’s a method to my madness for a change.) I watched it out of idle curiosity but found it fascinating and utterly compelling.

I didn’t know Gene Pope’s back story. His father was a wealthy and well-connected contactor who bought the largest Italian language newspaper in the country in 1928. Generoso supported FDR at home and Mussolini abroad until Italy joined the war as Germany’s very junior partner. Junior’s godfather was suave mob boss Frank Costello who many-myself included-believe is the model for Vito Corleone. Brando certainly used a Costello-like husky and raspy voice in the movie.

The story of the growth of the National Enquirer and its evolution from gory tabloid to show biz gossip rag is a fascinating one. Enquirng Minds merits an Adrastos grade of A-, 4 stars and a big Ebertian thumbs up. Up what? I’ll never know. I hope it wasn’t up Siskel’s ass but they *were* frenemies so ya never know.

I mentioned the Burns brothers, let’s turn our attention to the musical brothers who were the heart and soul of Split Enz, Tim and Neil Finn:

Saturday Classic: I’ve gone on and on about Split Enz so I decided to feature 1980’s True Colors. It was the album whereon Tim’s kid brother Neil stepped out of his shadow as a singer-songwriter without any significant fratricide. They set a good example: Neil’s sons Liam and Elroy work in the family business as well.

Speaking of true colors, today mine is red, but back in the 1950’s during the second Red Scare many people vehemently disagreed. The mere thought of commies made them see red, see red, see red:


2 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: I See Red

  1. My grandfather refused to display his facial hair because he said it was red, yellow and black like the German flag.

  2. Great, now I’m going to have to dig out all my old Split Enz albums. I remember the True Colors album came in different color combos (three, I think – red/green, blue/orange, and yellow/purple?) and was covered in laser etchings that made rainbow characters on the black vinyl.

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