A friend asked me the other day if I felt different now that I’m the publisher of First Draft. Not at all; other than nervousness at having to follow Athenae in the role. There are worse things than having a case of the jitters. I’ll take them over the heebie jeebies any day.
I considered asking Tommy and Michael to call me Chief so I could make like Perry White and do this:
I decided not to do that, but I may start saying “Great Caesar’s Ghost.” It has a nice retro ring to it. It reminds me of my salad days…
This week’s theme song was written in 1990 by John Hiatt for his Stolen Moments album. The main reason I selected it was this verse:
It’s a new light, a new day
Listening for new meaning learning how to say
It’s a new place but you’ve always been here
You’re just listening to old voices with a new ear
I thought that fit the moment as we break ground on a brand-new year.
The late folk singer Odetta also recorded Listening To Old Voices but I have been unable to find it online. The Hiatt original will just have to do.
Before we jump to the break, here’s the title track from that album:
If you have a stolen moment, let’s join hands and jump to the break together.
Before beginning our second act in earnest, a song with voice in the title:
Now that I’ve voiced our discontent with something or other, come on in my kitchen for a piece about blues legend, Robert Johnson.
Growing Up With Robert Johnson: Not much is known about Robert Johnson’s life. The songs are the most important thing, but I’ve always wanted to understand the man behind the songs.
There’s a new book by Johnson’s stepsister Annye Anderson and historian Preston Lauterbach that fills in some of the blank spaces in Robert Johnson’s life. It’s called Brother Robert: Growing Up With Robert Johnson. The cover has a previously unseen picture of the blues man.
There’s a swell piece about the book by Ben James at NPR.org. Check it out. It beats the hell outta selling your soul to the devil.
The last word of the segment goes to Brother Robert and Cassandra Wilson:
One of my favorite non-fiction writers is McKay Coppins. His work at Buzzfeed and the Atlantic has been exemplary. One of his recent pieces was one of the best things I read last year.
The Most American Religion: I did not know until reading this article that McKay Coppins is a Mormon. It explains the special access he’s had to Willard Mittbot Romney over the years.
LDS President Russell Nelson sat for an interview with Coppins, which led to this money quote:
Over the next hour, Nelson preaches a gospel of silver linings. When I ask him about the lockdowns that have forced churches to close, he muses that homes can be “sanctuaries of faith.” When I mention the physical ravages of the virus, he marvels at the human body’s miraculous “defense mechanisms.” Reciting a passage from the Book of Mormon—“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy”—he offers a reminder that feels like a call to repentance: “There can be joy in the saddest of times.”
There is something classically Mormon about this aversion to wallowing. When adversity strikes, my people tend to respond with can-do aphorisms and rolled-up sleeves; with an unrelenting helpfulness that can border on caricature. (Early in the pandemic, when Nelson ordered the Church to suspend all worship services worldwide and start donating its stockpiles of food and medical equipment, he chalked it up to a desire to be “good citizens and good neighbors.”) This onslaught of earnest optimism can be grating to some. “There’s always a Mormon around when you don’t want one,” David Foster Wallace once wrote, “trying your patience with unsolicited kindness.” But it has served the faith well.
Coppins goes on to describe his experiences as a missionary and a Mormon in the media. It’s good stuff. Get thee to the Atlantic.
The last word of our second act goes to a song from The Book Of Mormon:
We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth Casting Edition: I’ve had Watergate on my mind since writing Behind Barrs two weeks ago. Actually, it’s rarely off my mind.
Tricky Dick’s right-hand man was Bob Haldeman who along with his college buddy John Ehrlichman were known as the Berlin Wall of the Nixon White House. He’s been played onscreen by a wildly diverse group of actors.
Portraying Haldeman is probably the only thing James Woods and Dave Foley have in common; at least I hope so.
Haldeman’s name has been in the news recently because of his attempt to obtain a pardon from Nixon before he left office. The attempt failed because Tricky Dick thought it would look corrupt. Yet another reason that Trump is worse than Nixon.
The Movie List: I’ve been watching a lot of film noir recently. One of the mainstays of the genre was Dan Duryea who made his film debut as Bette Davis’ weasley nephew in The Little Foxes. He played many weasels and dirtbags over the years. Nobody did it better.
Since he’s one of the lesser known actors I’ve listed, a picture is in order. Here’s Duryea with Burt Lancaster in Criss Cross:
My Top Ten Favorite Dan Duryea Movies:
- The Little Foxes
- Criss Cross
- The Burglar
- Scarlet Street
- Black Angel
- The Underworld Story
- The Woman In The Window
- Thunder Bay
- Storm Fear
- Too Late For Tears
I gave myself an earworm with that nobody did it better line:
Dan Duryea died in 1968. He was never considered for the part of Bond, James Bond. He would have been a helluva Bond villain.
Saturday GIF Horse: I’m late to watching Derry Girls. I didn’t check it out until they appeared on the holiday edition of the Great British Baking Show. I guess I should thank Paul Fucking Hollywood for introducing me to these zany Irish cutups.
I like the show so much that I’ve chosen to overlook their love of Vodka aka Satanic Stalinist Death Juice. Just looking at the stuff gives me a hangover.
The last word of the segment goes to Derry Boy Phil Coulter with an ode to his hometown:
Weekly Vintage Music Video: I still have John Hiatt on my mind. Here’s the video for one of my all-time favorite Hiatt songs:
Damn, that was blurry, which leads to another video, which is not by John Hiatt.
That coffee hit the spot. Where the spot is remains a mystery.
Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.
Saturday Classic: The US Festival was an event staged by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. It brought together some of the biggest acts of 1982. One of whom was The Kinks. It doesn’t have the best sound quality, but it captures the band’s in concert ferocity.
That’s it for this week. The last word goes to the Derry Girls: