Saturday Odds & Sods: The Calling

Tales from Topographic Oceans by Roger Dean.

Summer colds are the worst. I’ve been laid low by one. Achoo. My nose looks as if it belongs to Rudolph and I sound like Froggy in The Little Rascals. Shorter Adrastos: I’m going to keep this introduction concise lest writing it winds me. Hopefully, the rest of the post will make sense: I’m blogging hurt. Make that wheezy. Jeez, that sounds like an episode of The Jeffersons.

This week’s theme song is the stirring album opener from 1994’s Talk by Yes. Like many other fans, I call the Trevor Rabin-era band, Yes West. They moved their base of operation to Southern California in the 1980’s, and had a different sound than classic Yes; pop-prog as opposed to pure prog. Hence Yes West. The Calling was written by Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Chris Squire and it rocks like crazy.

We have two versions for your entertainment. First, a video featuring a goofy cosmic introduction by Jon Anderson. Second, a live version from the Talk tour that commences with an instrumental Perpetual Change.

While we’re on the subject of Yes, the featured image is Roger Dean’s cover of Tales from Topographic Oceans without the lettering.

Now that I’ve gone all art rocky on your asses, let’s jump to the break.

I didn’t mean to give you prog rockus interruptus, so here’s a swell live version of Perpetual Change from 2000 with Steve Howe on lead guitar. Howe’s fan nickname is Mr. Burns after the irascible character in The Simpsons. He’s a cranky blighter.

We begin our second act with a segment about the new Spike Lee movie, which has been causing quite a stir. One reason is that its release date coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville clusterfuck.

Spike Lee Meets David Duke: It looks as if Spike Lee’s Blackklansman  is going to be a hit. It might even compare favorably to Spike’s 1989 masterpiece Do The Right Thing. It sounds as timely and topical as that earlier film. It opens this weekend and I hope to review it when I recover from this goddamn cold.

As a resident of the Gret Stet of Louisiana, I am particularly intrigued by David Dukkke’s part in the movie. Topher Grace of That Seventies Show fame plays Duke and apparently the neo-Nazi shitbird is worried about how he’ll come off. Badly, I hope.

I’ve read several Spikey interviews but the best one comes from the Guardian. They did the right thing and let Spike talk his head off as he is wont to do. One might even call it Spikesplaining.

Speaking of people who talk for  living, there’s a fabulous NYT piece about the chat show lion in winter, Dick Cavett. I’ll let the Failing NYT icon/link thing serve as the segment header yet again.

I grew up watching Dick Cavett. I saw more of his PBS show than the ABC one because my parents weren’t crazy about someone of my tender years staying up that late to watch Dick Cavett. My mom enjoyed him but my dad preferred watching sports or anything else to watching the erudite DC. It was his loss.

I was thrilled to learn that Cavett’s shows are airing on a cable network called Decades and that I have the channel. Oh, happy days; a comment that has nothing to do with the Fonz, Potsy, or Ralph Malph.

Let’s change the channel to Amazon Prime.

Sneaky Pete: Dr A and I recently discovered the crime/caper dramedy Sneaky Pete. We binge watched the first two seasons and eager await season 3.

I don’t want to give away too much but the title character is played by Giovanni Ribisi who is the Steve Buscemi of his generation. He’s a con man with a heart of gold whose scheming drives the plot forward. The rest of the cast is equally amazing: Bryan Cranston, Margo Martindale, Marin Ireland, and Peter Gerety among others. That veteran character actor steals every scene he’s in and is the emotional center of the show. Gerety’s eyebrows are almost a character in and of themselves.

The show Sneaky Pete most reminds me of is Justified, which is not surprising since that show’s honcho Graham Yost is up to his elbows in this production, especially season 2. Yost is the one who’s responsible for a cool Kid Charlemagne reference in season 2: “Is there gas in the car? Yes, there’s gas in the car.” Yes, Virginia, it was a tribute to the late Walter Becker.

Here’s the season 1 trailer:

Both seasons are streaming at Amazon Prime. I give Sneaky Pete 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B+ and thumbs up.

The Weekly GV: Gore Vidal always maintained that Johnny Carson was the best interviewer he ever worked with. Johnny was a good listener who let the interview go wherever it led.  A good idea when you’re chatting with someone as clever as GV.

It’s time for our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth: I was surprised when I did a SAB search and didn’t find baseball great Ted Williams paired with actor Robert Ryan. They even have similar hair.

Here’s my homemade side-by-side of the two men when they were in their twenties.

Robert Ryan specialized in playing hiss-provoking villains. It was ironic because Ryan was widely considered to be one of the nicest, least pretentious stars of his era. He first made an impact in 1947’s Crossfire as an anti-Semitic soldier. Off-screen, Ryan was a leading Hollywood liberal and supporter of civil rights. Playing bad guys paid the bills.

Robert Ryan was sui generis as a film actor. He was leading man handsome, but played villains. And nobody did it better.

Here in chronological order are my:

Top Ten Robert Ryan Movies

  1. Crossfire
  2. Act Of Violence
  3. The Set-Up
  4. The Naked Spur
  5. Bad Day At Black Rock
  6. House Of Bamboo
  7. Odds Against Tomorrow
  8. Billy Budd
  9. The Professionals
  10. The Wild Bunch

Let’s move from the sublime to the deeply ridiculous.

Tweet Of The Week: This disgusting creation was the topic of much conversation on NOLA twitter this week.

I don’t know about you but I was raised not to play with my food or turn it into statuary. I wonder if the chicken teddy bear lady had any takers? Ugh.

Now that I’ve grossed you out, it’s time to do the right thing and move on. I really should stop milking that joke but I cannot help myself. I suspect you’re used to that by now.

Saturday GIF Horse: Since I’m still feeling all Spikey, here are two GIFs from Mr. Lee’s  aforementioned masterpiece, Do The Right Thing:

Who among us does not love the director as Mookie the pizza delivery dude?

Spike’s father, Bill Lee, is a noted jazz musician who has scored many of his son’s movies. That’s why we’re shutting this joint down with some classic jazz.

Saturday Classic: The late singer/pianist Abbey Lincoln was active from the 1950’s to her death in 2010. 1961’s Straight Ahead features an ensemble of jazz heavyweights backing up Ms. Lincoln’s vocal stylings. Enjoy:

That’s it for this week. The last word goes to the cast of Sneaky Pete.

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