Summer in New Orleans is typically one long heat advisory but this week has been one of the hottest I can remember. It’s August hot. It’s so hot that new kitty Paul Drake isn’t trying to bolt out the front door whenever it opens. It’s so hot that the air smacks you in the face like a wet barber shop towel. I’m almost tempted to try frying eggs on the sidewalk but I don’t believe in wasting food. In short, it’s fucking hot.
I haven’t been as prolific as usual blogging-wise the last few weeks. I’ve made the mistake of taking the news too personally. It’s bad for both the psyche and satire. It’s been hard not to: the news has been so unrelentingly bleak of late. It makes it hard to be a glass half full person. It’s looking bone dry. That’s why I’m going to keep this post on the snappy side. In addition to my proverbial glass being bone dry, my funny bone is banged up. The good news is that it’s bruised, not broken. And writing Odds & Sods is always therapeutic.
This week’s theme song was written and recorded by Old 97’s for their 1999 album, Fight Songs. That was when this Dallas based alt-country power pop combo came on my radar screen. Lonely Holiday is a very sad song, which is appropriate given the events of the last few weeks. Only a sad song will do.
Get ready to rock with the original studio track as well as a lively live version:
Now that Rhett Miller has serenaded us with a sad song, it’s time to jump to the break.
We begin our second act with some pop culture lists, which means I get to trot out my venerable listomania joke. When my funny bone is sore, I stick to tried and true material. But first another Old 97’s song:
Vulture Listomania: It’s no secret that I adore Noo Yawk Mag’s entertainment site Vulture. Their lists are to die for. I have two to recommend this week.
First, a look at the greatest teevee writers rooms ever. The focus is, of course, on comedy and we all need some yuks in these troubled times.
I meant to post my top five Mel Brooks movies on his natal expulsion day. Since he made the list above, here’s my list:
- Blazing Saddles- Still one of the funniest films ever. The twitter outrage squad would not allow this masterpiece to succeed in 2018.
- Young Frankenstein– An artful and hilarious tribute to James Whale’s Frankenstein films.
- The Producers- Only the Mostel-Wilder original will do.
- Spaceballs– The Schwartz is still with us, at least I hope so.
- Life Stinks- This dark comedy flopped but it’s my dark horse/sleeper pick
I’m not sure what Franz Liszt would make of my listomania but what do I care what a dead Hungarian composer/pianist thinks? He’s busy decomposing. That gag is so old it has whiskers. I believe I just ripped-off the human joke machine, Morey Amsterdam.
Second, a tribute to the film editrix of Hollywood’s golden age. Women such as Barbara McLean, Viola Lawrence, and Anne V. Coates were the go-to editors for such classic films as Lawrence of Arabia, All About Eve, and Only Angels Have Wings. Vuture’s Samantha Ladwig has the details.
Something many of you might not know about me is that I like scary movies. I don’t like slasher or dead teenager flicks but I like psychologically charged thrillers even if they involve the supernatural. I don’t believe in ghosts but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy movies like The Conjuring or Poltergeist.
Hereditary: I know this great horror film came out a few weeks ago but I didn’t see it until last Sunday. The best thing about the timing is that I don’t have to worry about spoilers.
The horror in Hereditary is centered on grief. Toni Colette’s mother’s funeral is near the beginning of the movie. In her eulogy, she expresses ambivalence about her mother and her life. Wise choice, mommy was a Satanist.
The filmmakers built a Frank Lloyd Wright style house on the set. It’s simultaneously stunning and creepy as well as one of the most important characters in the film.
The story is full of twists and turns. I enjoy guessing but was only right once. The ending is reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby but that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned. It was one of the first grown-up movies I recall seeing on the big screen. I also left the theatre thinking of The Wicker Man. Another flattering comparison indeed.
The cast is small but mighty. Gabriel Byrne is as solidly solemn as ever as the paterfamilias. Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro excel as the children of the family. They meet different but equally disturbing fates. Toni Colette gives yet another brilliant performance as Annie a miniaturist and disturbed daughter of a sociopathic parent. Her character evokes memories of her brilliant turn as a mom with MPD in the cable teevee series, United States Of Tara. If you’ve never seen it, seek it out.
Back to Hereditary. Here’s the trailer:
Hereditary is a brilliant first feature from director Ari Aster who also wrote the script. Well done, sir.
I give Hereditary 4 stars, an Adrastos grade of A- and a rousing Ebertian thumbs up.
Saturday GIF Horse: I usually post something funny in this space but we’ve been talking horror. Here’s a genuinely horrific image I stumbled into while writing my Civility Is Overrrated post:
Damn, that GIF takes up a lot of space. It ate a hole in this post to match the hole in the country’s soul eaten by the Insult Comedian and his cohort.
Benign Earworm Of The Week: Speaking of holes, that unholy animated GIF gave me a whole ‘nother earworm. Neil Finn wrote Hole In The River upon learning from his father that his aunt had committed suicide. Only a sad song will do this week:
Let’s move on to our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth: One of many bizarre sub-plots of the Great War was the fact that the monarchs of Great Britain, Germany, and Russia were cousins. King George V and Tsar Nicholas the last also resembled one another. It’s rumored that this resemblance is one reason George was loathe to give the Russian royals asylum. I think it had more to do with his healthy fear of his Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. He was one fierce Welshman.
Nicholas is the chap with the fluffier beard and exuberant mustache in the Russian manner. There are other pictures where the resemblance is more pronounced but I like this image because it’s so woody. What ho, Nicky. What ho, Georgie.
Saturday Classic: I may be down but I’m not out. It’s time to rock with John Doe and Exene Cervenka. Under The Big Black Sun was released in 1982 and produced by Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek.
That’s it for this week. Since we’ve all had the Supremes on our minds this week, the last word goes to the late great liberal Justice William O. Douglas. He was an FDR appointee who served from 1939-1975. Ironically, the man who tried to have him impeached, Gerald Ford, appointed his successor. It was an excellent choice, John Paul Stevens.