Saturday Odds & Sods: Season Of The Witch

The Witch of Endor by William Blake

We’ve finally had some cool weather in New Orleans. I considered devising some sort of ceremony for turning off the AC, but I kept it simple. Besides, I didn’t want to scare the cats.

It’s been a difficult week, which is why I plan to keep this post on the short and sweet side. Make that short and snarky. I don’t want to ruin my well-deserved reputation as a curmudgeon.

This week’s theme song, Season of the Witch, was written in 1966 by Donovan Leitch and Shawn Phillips. It has been covered a bazillion times, which gave me many versions to choose from. I like choice, it’s cherce as Spencer Tracy said in Pat and Mike.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the Donovan original followed by a Richard Thompson cover that was recorded for the NBC show, Crossing Jordan. I recall watching the episode it appeared in and nearly falling off the couch in surprise at hearing RT on a network show. Finally, Lou Rawls brings some soul to the proceedings.

Now that we’ve gotten seasonal, it’s time to make like a witch, jump on a broomstick and fly to the break. I may not have magical powers but I have a broom.

Before moving on, let’s play some seasonally appropriate music. It’s not only witchy, it’s crafty.

We begin our second act with a piece that illustrates why Lost Causery is increasingly a lost cause.

Why I Threw Away My Portrait Of Robert E. Lee is a piece in the Atlantic by retired Army General Stanley McChrystal. The General has reassessed his opinion of the confederate commander and decided that his Lee picture belongs on the ash heap of history. Get thee to the Atlantic.com.

A Stern Message: Former NBA Commissioner David Stern has deliberately kept a low profile since retiring in 2014. But you can’t keep a small man with a big personality, and an even bigger mouth, down.

There’s a fascinating profile of Stern by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard. It really raised a ruckus here in New Orleans. Local hoops fans remember the period in which the then Hornets were ownerless and Stern acted as the team’s guardian. He saved professional basketball in New Orleans but had a low opinion of the man who is still the Pelicans GM, Dell Demps:

“[Demps] had agreed to [trade Paul to the Lakers for] Kevin Martin and Luis Scola or something, and I said we can do better than that,” Stern told Sports Illustrated. “And the next trade was [to the Clippers for] Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu and what we thought was a really great draft pick, the 10th pick, which turned out to be Austin Rivers. At least those three and someone else [center Chris Kaman]. But Dell Demps is a lousy general manager and none of those players are currently with the team anymore, and he may lose Anthony Davis.”

The Pels issued a pious response:

Inappropriate is an overused word that I don’t think applies here. Stern is a blunt bulldozer of a man: the comments are in character and I’m inclined to agree with him. Dell Demps is so infatuated with trades that he seems to be auditioning to replace Wayne Brady as the host of the Let’s Make A Deal reboot.

It’s time for a belated film review.

First Man: We finally saw the Neil Armstrong bio-pic last weekend. I was blown away. I know the  moonshot story like the back of my hand but it was still suspenseful. It feels like you’re inside the capsule with Armstrong and his fellow astronauts.

It’s difficult to make a movie about someone who is stoical and quiet. First Man pulls it off by taking a deeper dive than expected into Armstrong’s personal life, which was full of tragedy and loss.

Ryan Gosling is excellent as our hero, but I was particularly taken with the performance of Jason Clarke as Ed White. White was the first American to walk in space and I had his picture on my bedroom wall as a little kid along with that of Willie Mays.

The astronauts who were to be the first men on the moon perished in a fire, Ed White was among them. He was also Armstrong’s neighbor and closest friend at NASA. I got choked up in anticipation of the fatal fire.

First Man definitely has the right stuff. I give it 4 stars, an Adrastos grade of A- and a rousing thumbs up. Try and see it on the big screen while you can.

The Weekly GV: Gore Vidal is the voice I miss hearing the most in these troubled times. He would be horrified but not shocked by the advent of Trump. To say he was cynical is an understatement. Here’s what he had to say about the Bushes:

“Forget the Bush family, they are the most negligible family in the country. They are unintelligent, they are reasonably decorative, they are obedient to the great economic powers. Nixon said something interesting to Murray Kempton about Bush senior when he became President. Murray and Nixon used to have lunch, and when Murray said, “Well, what is this Bush like?” Nixon said, “Oh, nothing, nothing there, just a lightweight. He’s the sort of person you appoint to things, like the U.N., the CIA. But that Barbara Bush, she’s really something; she’s really vindictive!”—which was the highest complement that Nixon could deliver.”

Tell us what you really think, Gore. The Master was one of the few people as blunt and direct as David Stern.

Saturday GIF Horse: Saddle up for a horror classic. Todd Browning’s 1931 version of Dracula has a special place in my heart. It remains one of my favorite horror movies.

While I love Bela Lugosi as the Count, my heart belongs to Dwight Frye as Mr. Renfield. I do a rather blood-curdling Renfield impression. I used to do it at the drop of a hat but I save it for special occasions nowadays.

Let’s close things down with some music.

Saturday Classic: Home is an appropriate album for the season of the witch. It’s full of dark and gloomy songs with brilliant lyrics by Keith Reid. It was when Robin Trower came into his own as a guitar hero, especially with the opening notes of Whiskey Train.

That’s it for this week except for a final note on the last word. Elizabeth Montgomery was my first crush as a wee lad. I was an avid Bewitched viewer even after they brought on the Wrong Darrin. I had no idea that Agnes Moorehead was one of the great character actors of all-time until the first time I saw Citizen Kane. Endora and Samantha get the last word:

Must be the Season of the Witch. 10 days until the midterms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.

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