Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Happy

Painting by Piet Mondrian.

My stomach bug was a persistent bugger. It slowly got better but I lived without coffee for four days; an experiment I’m not eager to repeat. It’s hard to be alert when you’re under-caffeinated, Coke Zero and tea don’t quite do it. The result was a groggy unprolific blogger. So it goes.

A quick note about the featured art and its influence on the Krewe of Spank. Our theme this year was NOLAOPOLY and our float was designed to be a rolling version of the game board. I suggested that the sides should look like a Mondrian painting. Our float captain, Greg, went for it with gusto.

I may not be able to paint or draw but I have a good eye. Besides, Di Stijl is always in style.

I decided to try and put some pep in my step with this week’s theme song. It was written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler in 1930 for a Ruth Etting movie, The Nine-Fifteen Revue. Etting was later played by Doris Day in the 1956 movie Love Me or Leave Me with Jimmy Cagney as her gangster husband.

We have two versions of Get Happy for your listening pleasure. The artists need no introduction but get one anyway: Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald.

Since we’re trying to get happy, it’s time for Keith Richards’ signature song:

Let’s join hands and happily jump to the break.

One more tune with happy in the title. I could go on like this forever, but I won’t:

We begin our second act with a tribute from one great Louisiana writer to another.

Jason Berry On Ernest Gaines: Novelist Ernest Gaines was best known for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying. He was one of the most acute observers of the black experience in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He died last November at the age of 86.

Like fellow Southern writer, William Faulkner, Gaines created his own world. Here’s how Jason Berry describes it:

Gaines created a cosmos in the fictional town of Bayonne, drawing from his upbringing amid Depression-era poverty in sharecroppers’ quarters behind a False River plantation house in Pointe Coupee Parish. It is the same terrain where Gaines breathed his last, albeit in a spacious house that he and his wife, Dianne Saulney Gaines, built in the 1990s after he received a MacArthur fellowship. By then he was writer-in-residence at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, with a long list of accolades.

Berry’s piece for American Magazine is aptly named: A love song for Ernest Gaines. It’s a lovely tribute to a fine writer.

We move from the sublime to the ridiculous claims of the Hohenzollern family. You know, the same lot that brought us the Great War.

Former Kaisers Of Chaos: Kaiser Wilhelm II inspired one of my nicknames for Donald Trump. I don’t use Kaiser of Chaos as much as either the Insult Comedian or President* Pennywise but it’s applicable to the ongoing COVID-19 debacle.

Trump would surely appreciate the Hohenzollern pretender’s attempt to rewrite history and regain some former royal property. According to his descendants, Kaiser Bill wasn’t such a bad fellow and certainly did not start the Great War. The former royals have stirred up a shitstorm in Germany with historians arrayed on both sides. David Motadel has the details in the New York Review of Books.

The last word of the segment goes to the Kaiser Wilhelm Siegesmarsch.

That martial music almost makes me want to don a pickelhaube, goose-step about the room and violate the neutrality of Belgium. #Sarcasm.

We need a palate cleanser after all that Teutonic twittery. That’s right, a tune with happy in the title:

If that doesn’t put some pep in your step, nothing will.

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature. Warning: there is more Teutonic content.

Separated At Birth: This week’s pairing features actor and sometime New Orleanian Nic Cage and Maximilian von Hapsburg who was placed on the throne of Mexico by French Emperor Napoleon III.

That skewed image perfectly sums up Cage’s personality. I saw a drunk and unhinged Cage thrown out of a French Quarter restaurant that ain’t dere no more. The diners applauded.

As to Maximilian, I recently re-watched one of my guiltiest movie pleasures, Juarez. This 1939 biopic is Hollywood history at its silliest. Benito Juarez was the Mexican president ousted in favor of Maximilian. It’s utter nonsense but well executed with an all-star cast: Claude Rains, Brian Aherne, Bette Davis, and the token Latin player, Gilbert Roland.

The most preposterous casting involves two of Hollywood’s leading Jewish actors, Paul Muni and John Garfield, as two Mexican presidents:  Benito Juarez and Porfirio Diaz respectively. Oy, such Mexicans. At least they got the bit about Diaz disliking democracy right. As to Muni’s makeup, it suffocates his performance. Oy, just oy.

Here’s the trailer:

Juarez was intended to be a serious biopic. Instead, it’s a camp classic full of hammy acting and historical nonsense. As such I give it 3 stars and an Adrastos grade of B-. I’m leaving Gene and Roger’s thumbs out of this.

The Movie List: I made the following joke in yesterday’s James Lipton tribute in an answer to one of the Pivot Questions:

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? An old school movie director. I see myself wearing an eye patch and jodhpurs while yelling at the grips.

One of the directors I had in mind was Howard Hawks. He was not a nice man, but he was a great director, especially of westerns, comedies, and manly adventure films.

My Top Ten Favorite Howard Hawks Movies:

  1.   Red River
  2.   His Girl Friday
  3.  The Big Sleep
  4.  Bringing Up Baby
  5.  Only Angels Have Wings
  6.  Rio Bravo
  7.  Scarface
  8.  Ball Of Fire
  9.  To Have and Have Not
  10.  Twentieth Century

I’ve had too much time on my hands because of my lingering illness so I made this Hawksian collage to kill time:

Saturday GIF Horse: We’re staying on topic with an image from Bringing Up Baby, which is one of the funniest movies ever made.

The only thing that calmed down Baby the Leopard was this song:

Weekly Vintage Music Video: Mazzy Star’s Daniel Roback died recently at the age of 61. This 1994 video is posted in his honor.

Let’s set the Wayback Machine to 11/18/73 and close things out with some more music.

Saturday Classic: This visit to the KSAN archives features Linda Ronstadt as she was ascending to super stardom.

That’s it for this week. I should apologize for posting this last word meme a mere two weeks after it first appeared, but I won’t. Howard Hawks’ characters rarely apologized, so why should I?

2 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Happy

  1. We love Only Angels Have Wings in our household. Just yesterday Steve said, “Calling Barranca” while we were watching a nature show. Jean Arthur is at her most appealing in this flick, I think.

    1. The margin between #1 and #5 on this list was very narrow.

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