Saturday Odds & Sods: God’s Comic

Glass Tears by Man Ray, 1932.

Facebook killed me off earlier this week. I even got a death notice from them but neglected to take a screen shot. I was not alone in receiving a premature memorial page notice from the Zuckerdudes. Facebook even whacked blog pun consultant James Karst:

Karst is dead.

I’m pleased to report that, unlike the late Johnny Winter, Karst is still alive and well:

I’ve heard several explanations as to what went wrong but there’s one I like. And I’m sticking to it even if it’s debunked as de bunk. Consider it my Ford factory relocation moment. Here it is: It may have been concocted by trolls who wanted to metaphorically liquidate people whose content they dislike. I wear their scorn as a badge of honor even if I have long believed that “we don’t need no stinking badges.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, y’all. Facebook and fake news go together like Lennon and McCartney before Yoko and Linda or Rodgers and Hart before Hammerstein. Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.

This week’s theme song is an obvious choice: God’s Comic by Elvis Costello. It’s written from the perspective of a dead guy. This may make EC the Nostraelvis of rock and roll since it was written for the Spike album in 1989 long before Facebook existed. Or is that Nostradeclan? I cannot for the life or death of me keep that straight. First the song followed by a few  lyrics:

EC is a notoriously wordy songwriter so there are a lot of lyrics.  Here’s the first verse followed by the chorus :

I wish you’d known me when I was alive, I was a funny feller
The crowd would hoot and holler for more
I wore a drunk’s red nose for applause
Oh yes I was a comical priest
“With a joke for the flock and a hand up your fleece”
Drooling the drink and the lipstick and greasepaint
Down the cardboard front of my dirty dog-collar

Now I’m dead, now I’m dead, now I’m dead,
Now I’m dead, now I’m dead
And I’m going on to meet my reward
I was scared, I was scared, I was scared, I was scared
He might of never heard God’s Comic

On that mordantly morbid note, it’s time for the break. We should move expeditiously before Facebook kills me off again and I go on to meet my reward.

Speaking of them dead presidents, it’s time to take James Buchanan’s name in vain. But first a musical interlude:

Worst President Ever? This excerpt from a book by Robert Strauss has been in the Odds & Sods hopper for quite some time. Given the looming Trumptastrophe, it’s time to turn our attention to James Buchanan. On paper, Buchanan was one of the most qualified people to ever hold the office. In reality, he was an economic idiot, a pro-slave power Northern Democrat, and one of the people most responsible for the Civil War. Thanks, Buchanan.

One thing I learned from Strauss is that Buchanan meddled in the internal working of the Supreme Court:

Three days later came the real fatal blow, though, the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision, which fell on the shoulders of Buchanan. The case had wound through state and federal courts for at least a decade, but Roger Taney, the Supreme Court chief justice, and a fellow alumnus, with Buchanan, of small Dickinson College, wanted it settled.

Scott was a slave to a military man who at times was stationed not in his native Missouri, a slave state, but in the Northwest Territories, which were nonslave. After his master died, Scott brought the case that he should be free because he had lived in nonslave territory. Buchanan wanted to be a hero, and thought if the case could be decided broadly, it could settle the question of slavery in the Union for good.

Buchanan knew, too, though, that the court had five Southerners and four Northerners, and if the decision were split that way, it would be ineffective. He and Taney had apparently agreed to have a narrower decision, or remand the case back to the Appeals Court, if it were merely sectional, since they felt the need to have some sort of bipartisanship for the decision to be legitimate.

Ignoring the idea of separation of powers, though, Buchanan browbeat Robert Cooper Grier, another Dickinson alumnus and a justice from Pennsylvania, to go along with the majority opinion, which Taney would write. Eventually, a New York native, Justice Samuel Nelson, wrote a concurring opinion, making the vote even less sectional.

Disaster thy name is James Buchanan. There’s a strong case to be made for George W. Bush or Franklin Pierce as the worst President ever, but it’s too soon to judge the former and the latter was less consequential than Buchanan or W. All I remember about Pierce is that he was very handsome, and that the most memorable quote about him came from his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Poor Franklin.” Poor country is more like it: he was followed in office by Buchanan.

We move from the ridiculous to the sublime with a sumptuous series from Netflix.

Docudrama Of The Week: I am a big fan of playwright and screenwriter Peter Morgan’s work, especially when he writes about British politics in films such as The Deal and The Special Relationship. Morgan has developed a sub-specialty: writing about the British royal family in The Queen and The Audience.

Morgan’s latest foray into the weird and wondrous world of the royals is The Crown; a ten episode series for Netflix. Like the rest of Morgan’s oeuvre, it’s a winner, what ho. The ho in question is an Upper Class Twittism, not the kind who turn tricks. I mean ho in the Wodehousian sense of the word:


I’ve long considered PG Wodehouse a great historical novelist as well as a dashed funny chap. He’s the ultimate chronicler of British upper class twittery and blokes like Bertie Wooster and Bingo Little once ruled the world. A scary thought indeed. End of this Wodehousian digression.

Back to The Crown. It’s a helluva story, well-told. It covers the period from George V’s  (Alex Jennings) abdication for the virago he loved to the messy scandal involving the most sympathetic royal, Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby.) Former Dr. Who Matt Smith manages to make the least sympathetic royal, Prince Philip, almost likable. It was also good to see Jared (Lane Price) Harris as George VI. All in all, a woody good show.

On the political side, handsome Jeremy Northam plays handsome Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister Anthony Eden as a tragic figure who was too ill when he became PM to do anything but fail. I was skeptical when I heard that tall Yank John Lithgow was cast as short, squat Winston Churchill but he pulled it off. It’s one of the few times Lithgow has ever disappeared into a character. Well played, sir.

I give The Crown 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos grade of B+ and a regal Ebertian thumbs up.

I somehow doubt that Queen Elizabeth has ever eaten at a Greek diner even if Prince Philip is a member of the former Greek royal family.

Greek Diners: I have a sneaking fondness for celebrity chef Bobby Flay. I like saying his name in a thick Queens/Jersey/New Orleans Yat accent. It’s an odd reason to like someone but I’m an odd guy. You, of course, already knew that.

Anyway, Bobby Flay-gotta say both names, not just one-recently did a swell piece about Greek diners for CBS Sunday Morning. The word malaka is never used; on camera at least.

$9.95 for souvlaki and tzatziki? I am so there, dude. While we’re on the subject of Greeks, I stumbled into this old magazine ad featuring Maybe Cousin Telly:


I can attest that Telly liked his likker. In fact, Black Velvet is still around. Since I like Canadian whisky, I might have to get some so that I can toast Maybe Cousin Telly. We can play this tune whilst clinking glasses:

Who loves ya, baby? Let’s move on to some classic malakatude from Congressman Steve King. First, a segment illustration:


I had no idea Sparky Schulz had ever worked with Art Linkletter. Sparky was a cool nerd whereas Art was just a nerdy nerd. That’s an odd segue to Steve King trash talking my people but it’s mine all mine.

Steve King Says The Darndest Things: From the man who brought you “drug smugglers with calves the size of cantaloupes,” we bring you trash talk about my people from an appearance with MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle:

RUHLE: Couldn’t Native Indians say that? This is a country of immigrants.

KING: Well, I’ll just challenge you. Name a country that’s not a country of immigrants. Every nation is a country of immigrants. These are our values that are here.

RUHLE: Greece is not a country — Greece is not a country of immigrants.

KING: Well, I was in Greece not that long ago I asked why when they were digging up the statues that had their hair painted blond why I don’t see very many blond Greeks. The guide said that’s what 400 years of Turkish occupation will do for you. Maybe by conquest, maybe not by peaceful reasons.

First, Congresscritter King violates the Golden Ruhle by speaking ill of my people. Second, he’s actually not as wrong as usual. I’ve long made jokes about my own gene pool containing Turkish blood. Trust me, I have relatives who are darker than your basic New Orleans black Creole. Additionally, there are ethnic Greek immigrants who poured into the country from places where they were persecuted such as Anatolian Greeks who fled Turkey after the Great War. I believe it’s called ethnic cleansing.

King is definitely wrong about one thing. There *are* blond, blue-eyed Greeks; most of whom are from Northern Greece where there’s been canoodling with the odd Slav. Not to mention the Vikings, they did their thing in and to the Greek Islands. Pillage, ho. It’s a pity that Wodehouse never titled a Jeeves-Wooster book that.

That concludes this week’s edition of Steve King Says The Darndest Things. It’s time to grow your hair long and rock with Leon Russell.

Saturday Classic: This is the second of three tributes to the late Leon Russell. His eponymous first solo album remains one of the finest examples of American roots rock ever recorded.

Lagniappe time: it’s an audio bootleg of Leon’s legendary stand at the Fillmore East in the same year his eponymous LP came out. I love the word eponymous more than Queen Elizabeth loves corgis.

That’s it for this week. It’s been another tough one for those of us who prefer to believe that most Americans don’t suck. That’s why it’s time to let my hilarious 3-year-old de facto nephew, Nathan aka Food Face Nate, have the last word. The future is his. It’s clearly just as messy as the present.


3 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: God’s Comic

  1. I really enjoyed “The Crown” — Matt Smith and Vanessa Kirby in particular were spectacular. And she’s the first person since Sherilyn Fenn to make me think “That woman ought to play Elizabeth Taylor in something.”

    Did you know she’s a natural blonde? I never would have guessed.

  2. Thanks for the Greek Diner link – miss the ones in Toledo – one chain owned by a Lebanese guy, but still a Greek Diner – I mean pastitso and spanakopita make it Greek, one of the short order cooks when I was a regular there was from Iran.

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