Saturday Odds & Sods: Swinging On A Star

Tchoupitoulas Christmas House photograph by Dr A.

We’ve been on a weather yo-yo all month. There have been several days where the drop in temperature was so drastic that the high was at midnight. It’s not Wisconsin cold but it’s damp and humid, which exaggerates how chilly it feels. It’s fucking cold, y’all.

New Orleans is an old city with an aging infrastructure. It seems to have rebelled this week: we’ve had collapses, explosions, water main ruptures, and a literal shit storm. The citizenry are getting cranky and blaming the current Mayor for decades of neglect. It’s unfair but she makes it worse by speaking in jargon. Mayor Cantrell actually said that she was “leaning in and being intentional” to help solve our infrastructure woes. It would help if we understood what the hell she means.

This week’s theme song was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke in 1944 for the Bing Crosby movie, Going My Way. It was one of the biggest hits of the year and won Oscars for best picture, actor, and supporting actor. Der Bingle was the show biz king that year.

We have three versions of Swinging On A Star for your listening pleasure: Bing Crosby, his frenemy, Frank Sinatra, and an R&B version by Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva.

I’m a bit dizzy from swinging on that star so let’s pause before jumping to the break.

Before starting our second act in earnest, a cojunto/country version of an urban holiday classic from Dwight Yoakam:

Let’s set the dial on the Wayback Machine to the late 18th Century and visit the man whose face is on the dollar bill.

Eric Foner On George Washington: There’s a new book about the first president by Mary Thompson who is a research historian at Mount Vernon. It focuses on Washington’s domestic arrangements; specifically, his slaves. The great historian Eric Foner gives the book a largely favorable review although he chides the author for writing in a somewhat worshipful tone.

Washington’s reputation has taken a beating because he was a slave owner and didn’t write in flowery words about his reservations about the peculiar institution unlike Thomas Jefferson. GW still deserves credit for setting an enviable small r republican example. He declined to become king and served only two terms as Oval One. His role in the drafting of the constitution is indisputable but a slave owner is a slave owner is a slave owner. Unlike TJ, GW freed his own slaves so there’s that.

Let’s turn our attention to a more recent mess: the 2019 British General Election.

Whither Labour:  The Guardian’s political editor, Heather Stewart, goes inside the Labour campaign and finds, you guessed it, a mess. The party remains divided between the Corbyn cult and those who want to win elections and govern. Labour was too high on the Corbyn cult Kool-Aid to change leaders before their fourth consecutive general election loss. The continuation of Boris Johnson’s reign of error is on them.

Personality cults are unhealthy in a democracy and typically fade away when the dear leader exits the stage. Let’s hope that trend continues in both Britain and the United States. Corbyn himself is relatively benign as opposed to the widow insulting President* Pennywise but the Corbyn cult is full of nasty blokes and blokettes. Repeat after me: a cult is a cult is a cult.

If one must be a cult member, why not join the Grinch cult even if he’s a mean one:

It’s time to run run away from our second act but first let’s pit the BSO in a rock-off against the Reens:

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth: This week we pair the Anglo-Danish co-host of the Great British Bake Off, Sandi Toksvig, with the pride of Scientology, Tom Cruise.

There’s no truth to the rumor that Tom’s next movie will be a sequel to Top Gun featuring his baking skills, Top Baker. The reason I know it’s untrue is that I just made it up.

FYI, Sandi’s program is called the Baking Show in America because Pillsbury has trademarked Bake Off. The doughboy is smarter than he looks.

Holy balloonatics, Batman.

It’s time to go from the ridiculous to the sublime.

The Classic Movie List: I was alarmed when Kirk Douglas was trending last week on the tweeter tube. I assumed he was dead. Instead, it was his 103rd birthday. In honor of his long life and distinguished career:

My Top Ten Favorite Kirk Douglas Movies:

  1. The Bad and the Beautiful
  2. Spartacus
  3. Seven Days In May
  4. Ace In The Hole
  5. Paths Of Glory
  6. Lust For Life
  7. Champion
  8. Young Man With A Horn
  9. Two Weeks In Another Town
  10. Out Of The Past

The only reason Out Of The Past is number ten on the list is that Kirk was a supporting player. It would be number one with a bullet on a Robert Mitchum list.

FYI, Kirk Douglas’ book The Ragman’s Son is one of the best Hollywood memoirs. He wrote it without resort to a ghostwriter too. Well done, sir.

The only things Cyndi Lauper and Kirk Douglas have in common are that they’re both from New York and they’re good at what they do:

Saturday GIF Horse: I decided to get all ecumenical on your asses by posting a clip from one of the funniest shows on television, The Goldbergs. Here’s the Smother and her Schmoo gyrating like human dreidels.

Speaking of Hanukkah, here’s everyone’s favorite Canadian band toying with that holiday:

That’s surely not enough BNL for the holidays. One more for the road:

Weekly Vintage Music Video: I’m not much of a Mariah Carey fan. She has a great voice but is the poster child for over singing, which sounds labored instead of natural. This Christmas video perfectly illustrates her vocal virtues and vices. That’s a lot of Vs, y’all. V is my least favorite letter in Scrabble as there are no two-letter words that begin with V. How vexatious is that?

While we’re playing word games, it’s time for a shout-out to my app Scrabble buddies: Russ, Mary, Lizzy, and even the Scrabble shark, Cynthia. Merry, merry. Happy, happy, and all that shit.

Where was I? Oh yeah, this 1994 video:

That song is 25 years old? I am officially ancient and grizzled.

I might as well post one more from Der Bingle and Frank before our rock out grand finale:

Saturday Classic:  Nobody rocks the holidays harder than Brian Setzer. He may be “a strange stray cat” but he’s our Stray Cat. Oh yeah.

That’s it for this week. The last word goes to Bad Santa and his trusty elf:

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