I bet you thought I was done with the epistolary references but I’m made of sterner (sillier?) stuff than that. There’s even another Bill Barr reference coming up. Does that make this a red-letter day? Beats the hell outta me.
Since, unlike the first Barr letter, the post title is so damn long, the intro will be mercifully brief. I’m even skipping another epistle pun just to prove that I’m capable of restraint. Anyone buying it?
This week’s theme song, I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter, was written in 1935 by Fred E. Ahlert and Joe Young. It was introduced to the world by the great Fats Waller and has been recorded a zillion times over the years.
Since it’s one of my favorite tunes, we have a slew of versions for your listening pleasure.
Now that we’ve finished our correspondence, let’s put a stamp on it, mail it, then jump to the break.
I almost forgot Paul McCartney’s rendition of our theme song. He used a line from it as the title of his 2012 standards album, Kisses On The Bottom:
You’re not seeing double. That’s the lovely and talented Diana Krall on piano. Unfortunately, the video is poorly synced. I nearly made a cynic joke there but thought better of it. I didn’t want to cynic to that level. Note: that pun was pinched from Paul Lynde’s Bewitched character, Uncle Arthur.
We begin our second act with an epic profile of the man who calls himself the South American Trump.
Brazil Nuts: Beef, Bullets, Bible, and Bolsonaro- Jair Bolsonaro has been at the fringes of Brazlian politics for decades. After a series of scandals infecting the Brazilian body politic, Bolsonaro was elected president. He’s a “charming” fellow:
The authoritarian leaders taking power around the world share a vocabulary of intolerance, insult, and menace. Jair Bolsonaro, who was elected President of Brazil on promises to end crime, right the economy, and “make Brazil great,” has spent his career gleefully offending women, black people, environmentalists, and gays. “I would be incapable of loving a homosexual son,” he has said. “I would prefer that my son die in an accident than show up with some guy with a mustache.” As a national legislator, he declared one political rival, Maria do Rosário, “not worth raping.” Immigrants are “scum.” The United Nations is “a bunch of communists.” He supports the torture of drug dealers, the use of firing squads, and the empowerment of a hyper-aggressive police force. “A policeman who doesn’t kill,” he has said, “isn’t a policeman.”
That’s the opening paragraph of Jon Lee Anderson’s New Yorker profile of the nuttiest Brazilian of all. The dead tree edition comes out on April Fool’s Day but Bolsonaro is no joke. He’s a menace.
AACK: I’m an avid reader of the funny papers. A longtime favorite of mine was Cathy by Cathy Guisewite. Like many comic strips, it ran out of gas near the end but it was amusing and perceptive before its author turned out the lights in 2010.
Cathy Guisewite is back with a book of essays, which resulted in a profile by New York Magazine’s Rachel Syme who summed up the essence of Cathy’s comedy thusly:
In one strip from 1990, Cathy, forever vaguely 30-something, enters into a rhetorical tussle with her mother (a perpetual sexagenarian in wire spectacles and a frilly kitchen apron, a loose analogue of Guisewite’s own mother, Anna, who is 97 and still spry) about the logic of eating pie. “I’m sure your stomach wants more pie, but what is your brain telling you, Cathy?” the mother asks. “My brain wants the pie, too,” Cathy answers. Her body and her brain and her heart are all crying out for pie! Pie! Pie! Pie! But, licking her plate clean by the fourth frame, Cathy looks miserable. “Mother made me eat a pie,” she tells her father, glumly shifting the caloric blame. And that’s the whole joke: Cathy ate an entire pie because someone told her she couldn’t. It’s a tangled web of mindfuckery all packed into a few inches of squiggly line drawing: food issues, mother issues, control issues, self-love and self-punishment, the desire to please authority, the gumption to rebel.
Gumption and gluttony, that’s the comic strip in a nutshell. A Brazil nut? Let’s hope not.
Speaking of women who make me laugh:
Elaine May In Bloom: There’s a fabulous piece by Linday Zoladz at the Ringer about the semi-reclusive comedic genius, Elaine May. She’s done it all: stand-up, records with her then partner Mike Nichols, acting, playwriting, screenwriting, and directing.
May’s humor is tart and pungent. Oddly enough, she’s perhaps best known for Ishtar the Warren Beatty-Dustin Hoffman movie that bombed at the box office and led to this Gary Larsen comic entitled Hell’s Video Store:
Ishtar wasn’t really that bad but it doesn’t compare to May’s 1976 misanthropic comedic masterpiece, Mikey and Nicky, which starred my countryman John Cassavettes and Peter Falk without his Columbo trench coat. I should apologize for using two words ending in IC consecutively but I won’t unless my IC made you go ICK…
The last word of this segment goes to (who else?) Elaine May with her speech at the AFI’s 2010 tribute to Mike Nichols:
It’s time to raise the curtain on our third act, which, as always, consists of regular and/or recurring features. I try my damnedest to be consistently regular on a recurring basis or something like that.
The Weekly GV: This time around we feature rare praise from the Master for another writer, Kurt Vonnegut:
When Vonnegut died, Gore Vidal said: “Literary realism was the general style. Those of us who came out of the war in the 1940s made it sort of the official American prose, and it was often a bit on the dull side. Kurt was never dull.”
The article from which I quoted embedded this video of the Killer V’s busting each other’s chops:
My work here is done. It’s time for our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth: I had originally planed to avoid mentioning the lawyer who wrote the book report heard round the world but this was too good to pass up.
The AG is almost as layered up as Bannon. No surprise: we all know Barr is into covering up as much as possible.
Saturday GIF Horse: Now is the time on Saturday Odds & Sods when we dance. Since I have the funny papers on my mind, I’ll let the Peanuts gang do the heavy lifting:
Weekly Vintage Music Video: Ranking Roger of the Beat died this week at the age of 56. There’s no better tribute than posting this marvelous video:
Are you ready for more Macca? As the man himself would surely say at this point: WOO.
Saturday Classic: Paul McCartney’s first solo album was homemade. It was recorded at his home studio and he played all the instruments. It’s as charming as all get out and remains one of my favorite Macca records. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
That’s it for this week. The last word goes to Elaine May and Mike Nichols: