Saturday Odds & Sods: Straighten Up and Fly Right

I’m exhausted from the lead up to and the aftermath of this year’s Krewe du Vieux parade. There were a series of mishaps and missteps that made it stressful for me. The political news hasn’t improved my mood either. I’m trying to get in the Carnival spirit by posting the 1939 poster seen above. Additionally, we have company tomorrow so it’s time to straighten up and fly right.

This week’s theme song was written in 1943 by Nat King Cole and Irving Mills and is based on a folk tale involving a buzzard and a signifying monkey. I am not making this up.

Straighten Up and Fly Right was the biggest hit the King Cole Trio ever had. We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the original, Diana Krall, and an instrumental by the Skatalites:

Now that we’ve straightened up, let’s fly right to the jump.

The original theme song for this week was inspired by my Still There’ll Be More post. Whiskey Train was the opening track of Procol Harum’s Home album and I concluded it was too dark for this week’s post. Here it is anyway:

Dark but rocking: Robin Trower’s specialty.

We begin our second act by taking a trip to France. Arles to be precise.

Venerable Fraud? This segment is not about Van Gogh or Gaugin. It’s about Jeanne Calment who claimed to be the world’s oldest person. If her story is to be believed, she died in 1997 at the ripe old age of 122. Since her death, there have claims that she was a fraud and that the woman who died in 1997 was Jeanne’s daughter, Yvonne.  The New Yorker’s Lauren Collins has the details.

Our next item is a cautionary tale from veteran New York nightlife journalist Michael Musto.

The Danger of Befriending Celebrities: Michael Musto spent a most of his career at the Village Voice. He’s a wit, a raconteur, and a bon vivant who starts this piece as follows:

Meryl Streep doesn’t call me every week to go bowling. In fact, she doesn’t call me at all. And that’s a good thing. I honestly can’t recommend becoming friends with celebrities, especially if you’re a long running journalist like I am. It simply will not lead to a Hollywood ending.

As appealing as they are, celebrities are used to being the center of attention, so you’d have to subvert your ego and go into full-blown ass-kiss mode in order to even be vaguely tolerable to them. Stars live for the spotlight, and in many cases, it’s all about them, even when they pretend it’s about you. (And I like things to be about me, thank you.) What’s more, as a journalist, I’d be blurring all sorts of lines and throwing away objectivity in order to snuggle up to my famous “friends.” And they’d only be nice in return because I’m press — and/or an ass kisser — so they’d have to feign some kind of kinship while pretending that all of my hideously annoying quirks are absolutely adorable. Yes, they’d be good at acting the part, but it’s so much better for both parties to just avoid this potential landmine and don’t go there. Don’t call me, Meryl! Don’t even text!

I probably didn’t need to say as follows if you follow me. Following me has been known to be perilous. I recommend following the yellow brick road instead.

I’ve had a few brushes with celebrities but can’t say that any of them were my friends with the possible exception of Maybe Cousin Telly. I’ve been acquainted with my share of musicians but the ones I’ve known, such as Paul Barrere and Art Neville, did not think of themselves as celebrities. That’s what made them special people.

Reading Michael Musto always makes me laugh, which according to the Reader’s Digest is the best medicine. I guess I just dated myself. Again. Since my mood is improved, you can dig it. That was a long build up for a song from Nick Lowe’s Dig My Mood album:

Our next segment explores the darker side of celebrity.

Catch and Kill: I recently read Ronan Farrow’s book about his pursuit of pervs such as Harvey Weinstein. It’s an extraordinary piece of work. It’s written as a journalistic detective story with the author as the central character. One might even call it celebrity noir. Farrow even makes a joke about the rumors (started by his mother) that Frank Sinatra was his bio-dad.

I give Catch and Kill an Adrastos Grade of A and I don’t grade on a curve.

The last word of our second act goes to Frank Sinatra:

I bet you saw that coming. I still think Frank is Ronan’s father.

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth: This week’s segment brings together the second big screen iteration of Spider-Man and the first commander of the Red Army:

As far as I know, Trotsky never wore tights and a mask in public. But it’s possible because he spent so many years on the run from Stalin who did not think Trotsky was a superhero.

Here’s a bonus GIF:

The frame is humongous but it’s worth it. I’ll accept no nit picking about it. Better make that ice picking.

Let’s close the segment with a song that gives Trotsky a shout-out in the first verse:

The Classic Movie List: Director George Stevens made movies for the Army during World War II. Unlike Frank Capra, he spent most of time in the field. Stevens and his team were the first Americans to film Dachau. Their footage was used as evidence at the Nuremberg Trial. It spoiled Hermann Goering’s mood. I am not making this up. Goering was what Sgt. Schultz called a “jolly joker” as well as a Nazi thug.

My Top Ten Favorite George Stevens Movies:

  1.   Shane
  2.   Giant
  3.   The Talk Of The Town
  4.   Woman Of The Year
  5.   The More The Merrier
  6.   A Place In The Sun
  7.   Gunga Din
  8.   The Diary Of Anne Frank
  9.    Alice Adams
  10.   Swing Time

Stevens’ wartime experiences led him to abandon comedy when he returned to Hollywood. It’s a pity: he was so good at it.

The last word of the segment goes to Fred and Ginger with a Jerome Kern-Dorothy Fields song from the Stevens directed musical Swing Time:

Saturday GIF Horse: Since his passing, I’ve had Terry Jones on my mind. He was hilarious in drag. These GIFs come from the classic Hell’s Grannies sketch.

Weekly Vintage Music Video: Cyndi Lauper wasn’t the only MTV era star who just wanted to have fun. The Go-Go’s did too.

Let’s close things out with some long form music. Did I just write that? Obviously. It’s a full concert set, y’all.

Saturday Classic: Despite all the weirdness over their mutual ex, Patty Boyd, George Harrison and Eric Clapton remained close friends. In fact, they toured Japan together in 1991 with George fronting Eric’s band. Here’s an audio only recording from that tour.

That’s it for today. The last word goes to the Shane good guys: Brandon deWilde, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, and Alan Ladd:

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