Saturday Odds & Sods: Feels Like Rain

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner, 1844.
Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner, 1844.

Tis the season for New Orleanians to freak out over the tropics. Social media is *great* after a disaster but it’s a disaster as storms line up in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s what happens at the end of every August, y’all. It’s too early to freak out about storms that may or may not pay us a visit. Here’s what I said on the Tweeter Tube the other day:

It doesn’t matter if a storm is named if it has your name on it. Look at what happened in the Baton Rouge area: that was an unnamed storm and it wreaked havoc.  My advice to people who are new to the hurricane zone is to prepare but take a deep breath and relax. Freaking out never helped anybody even if Freak Out is the title of the first Mothers album:

End of obligatory Zappa reference.

It’s been a hyper-allergenic week here in New Orleans. I’m not sure if the wind has blown allergens our way from the Gret Stet flood, but I’ve felt like warmed over shit all week. Sinus headaches are no fun, y’all; neither is being dizzy because your sini are clogged. I prefer them to be as dry as the Sinai. I have a tell-tale allergy related red spot on my right cheekbone. It’s usually dime-sized, this week it’s like a Kennedy half-dollar. Instead of day drinking like a proper New Orleanian, I’ve been day benadryling. Enough whining, wheezing, and whinging, Let’s move on to our theme song.

It’s been raining a lot so this week’s theme song is one of John Hiatt’s finest, Feels Like Rain. It’s so well crafted and constructed that it’s been covered by a wide variety of singers. I also like it because of the Lake Pontchartrain reference.

We have three versions for your enjoyment. First, the songwriter’s original version from his classic Slow Turning album. Buddy Guy loves the song so much that he made it the title track of a 1993 album. Finally, Aaron Neville crooning Feels Like Rain with the Neville Brothers to a crowd that included Dr. A and little old me.

Aaron sure can sing, y’all. There’s more to come after the break. I’m not sure if it qualifies as a full English breakfast but it’s all I got.

We gavel this week’s proceedings to order with a Gawker post-mortem.

Gawker, R.I.P. New York Magazine’s media coverage has been extraordinary of late. Gabriel Sherman owns the Roger Ailes sexual harassment story lock, stock, and sticky barrel. They’ve also published a fine cover story by former Gawker editor Max Read who poses the immortal question, Did I Kill Gawker?

I have mixed feeling about Gawker and its demise. It was sleazy at times but also did some good reporting. Its editorial judgment seems suspect BUT was it any sleazier than the Enquirer or the British tabloids? The answer is a resounding no, but those media outlets have deeper pockets than Nick Denton. Additionally, I *am* troubled by the ability of a rich tech dude to kill Gawker by throwing money at Hulk Hogan’s law suit. It’s Thiely disturbing…

My colleague Athenae and longtime First Draft reader Lex of Blog on the Run have different takes on what happened to Nick Denton and Gawker. The funny thing is that I agree with both of them. The issue is *that* tricky.

Contemplating Lex’s blog name has given me an earworm. Time to get it out of my system before continuing:

We move from gossip journalism and vengeful tech tycoons to the world of sports, Southern California style.

Robo QB Blues: USC QB Todd Marinovich was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the L.A. Raiders in 1991. He was a can’t miss prospect who washed out after a mere three seasons. Marinovich was, and is, a very likable guy but he’s also a junkie whose father is one of the worst sports parents ever. Mike Sager has written a superb profile for Esquire that reveals Marinovich as more than just another cautionary tale. Here’s a sample:

Then the January 1988 issue of California magazine hit the stands with Todd’s picture on the cover. The headline: ROBO QB: THE MAKING OF A PERFECT ATHLETE. A media onslaught ensued. They called Todd the bionic quarterback, a test-tube athlete, the boy in the bubble. All over the world, people were talking about Todd’s amazing story. In truth, he was leading a double life.

“I really looked forward to giving it all I had at the game on Friday night and then continuing through the weekend with the partying. It opened up a new social scene for me — liquid courage. I wasn’t scared of people anymore,” Todd says.

UPDATE: Todd and trouble have collided again, alas.

Sager’s article is entitled Todd Marinovich: The Man Who Never Was, which may be a play on the title of a 1934 and 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film, except for the bit about Todd. That leads to our next segment, but first an animated GIF from Strangers On A Train:

Now that I’ve made you dizzy, time to go cinematic on your asses.

Documentary Of The Week: The fabulous French filmmaker, Francois Truffaut conducted a series of interviews with the great Anglo-American director Alfred Hitchcock. The result was the classic 1966 book Hitchcock/Truffaut. I’ve read it many times over the years and always refer to it if I feel the itch to watch some Hitch.

 Hitchcock/Truffaut has been transformed into a fascinating HBO documentary. It features some of the original audio tape interviews as well as analysis from the likes of Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, and David Fincher.

In addition to being a first rate director, Truffaut was a film critic/buff and an advocate of the auteur theory. He was determined to show the world that, in addition to being “the master of suspense,” Hitchcock was a cinematic artist whose movies were surprisingly personal. Truffaut succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. The documentary does an excellent job telling this story and discussing Hitchcock’s pictures.

It’s trailer time:

Hitchcock/Truffaut is a fine look at two outstanding artists. I have two minor criticisms. First, there are too many talking heads, I wanted more of the tapes. Second, the sub-titles are too small and too white. Yellow sub-titles are much better. Having said that, I give the film 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos grade of B+ and a robust Ebertian thumbs up. The book gets top marks across the board. Y’all should read it.

I’m not quite finished with Hitchcock/Truffaut. Writing about it made me feel all listo-maniacal. I’ll begin with Francois Truffaut. The list is in no particular order. They’re all 4 star films in my book. But first, a poster. You may have noticed that I like movie posters:


My Ten Favorite Truffaut Films:

  1. Shoot The Piano Player
  2. Jules and Jim
  3. The Story of Adele H
  4. The Last Metro
  5. The 400 Blows
  6. Day for Night
  7. Small Change
  8. Stolen Kisses
  9. The Wild Child
  10. The Bride Wore Black

It’s Hitchcock time. Once again, the list is in no particular order. Since I used an English language poster for a Truffaut film, it’s only fair that I post the French poster for Notorious.


My Ten Favorite Hitchcock Films:

  1. Notorious
  2. Rear Window
  3. Vertigo
  4. Psycho
  5. Frenzy
  6. The Birds
  7. Foreign Correspondent
  8. Strangers On a Train
  9. North By Northwest
  10. Shadow Of A Doubt

That was a tough one to limit. Honorable mentions go to The Lady Vanishes, I Confess, Spellbound, and Lifeboat.

Time to shift gears from film classics to a musical one.

Saturday Standards: Both Dinah Washington and Bessie Smith were great singers. Btw, if you’ve never seen the HBO bio-pic with Queen Latifah as Bessie, check it out. It’s terrific.

Without further adieu or even a woo-hoo, I give you Dinah Sings Bessie Smith:

That’s it for this week. Hopefully, my pooh-poohing of other people’s storm paranoia won’t bite me in the ass.

This week’s closing meme features-who else?-Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut.

Hitchcock-Truffaut Meme