The weather has been horrendous in New Orleans this week. We’ve had high winds, thunderstorms, and torrential rain. One day it looked as if we were having a tropical system out of season. I hate thunderstorms, they’re like heavy metal. I hate heavy metal.
It’s been so bad that we’ve had to work around the weather for fear of street flooding. Dr. A went to work preposterously early yesterday because she was administering an exam. I was so grateful that the garbage men closed the bin lid that I went on the porch and thanked them.
This week’s theme song was written by Francis Rossi for Status Quo’s 1968 album Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo. How’s that for a long ass title? It was to be the band’s only major hit single in the US&A.
The song was inspired by the paintings of Mancunian artist LS Lowry. He pretended to be an unsophisticated artist but had serious chops as a painter. Lowry also excelled at myth creation often telling wildly contradictory stories. His painting Main Press is this week’s featured image.
There’s some dispute as to whether Lowry should be called a Mancunian artist since he lived in nearby Salford. But I like saying Mancunian so I’m sticking with it. FYI, a Mancunian is someone who hails from Manchester, England, mate. Who the hell wants to be a Salfordian or is that Salfordite?
We have three versions of Pictures Of Matchstick Men for your listening pleasure: the studio original, Status Quo live, and a 1989 cover by Camper Van Beethoven, which was a hit in the US&A.
We’re not finished with matchstick men, here’s a 2018 song written and recorded by Mark Knopfler:
Now that we’ve pondered matchstick men in music and art, let’s strike quickly and jump to the break.
Here are two songs that match my mood:
Yeah, I know. Carl Perkins wrote that song but I’m still in a Beatles mood. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
We begin our second act in earnest with a segment about the Duke of Edinburgh who died last week at the age of 99.
I’ll be watching what could be called Philip-fest in the morning. I’m a sucker for ritual.
Prince Philip’s Century: I’ve long had a sneaking fondness for Prince Philip. He’s just the sort of gruff and cantankerous older man that I usually get along with. It’s not because he’s a “Greek royal.” Ain’t nothing Greek about them and one of my distant relations former Prime Minister Venizelos was the leader of the anti-royalist pack in his day.
I quite like the Philip of The Crown. Instead of a stuffed shirt and fuddy-duddy, he was a modernizer who empathized with outsiders because he was one himself. He was essentially an orphan. Of course, being a royal orphan had its advantages. You get the girl in the second act.
One episode of The Crown centers around a BBC documentary that purported to lift the veil on the monarchy. The Royal Family was Philip’s idea, but it was regarded as such a disaster by the palace that it hasn’t been seen in its entirety since it aired in 1969.
That’s the subject of an excerpt from Robert Jobson’s book, Prince Philip’s Century at Vanity Fair.
Much to my surprise and disappointment, the piece was pulled by the editors after Philip’s passing with this message: “This article has been removed at the editors’ discretion.”
Weird. It was a look at the Prince’s human side. Perhaps it will pop up again. So it goes.
The last word of the segment goes to The Jam with a song that has a Philip reference:
Now that’s a brief but unflattering reference to the Duke/Prince. Oh well, what the hell.
The Book Report:
I’ve been mildly obsessed with Harry Houdini since seeing the 1953 biopic with Tony Curtis in the title role. It’s not factually accurate but it perfectly captures the spirit of the man. Besides, Houdini was a fabulist who never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
One of our finest sportswriters, Joe Posnanski, shares my Houdini love. His 2019 book is more of an investigation into the Houdini myth than a biography.
Along with Charlie Chaplin, Houdini is one of the few show people from his era who is still famous. It’s all in the name in Joe Pos’ opinion. I concur. These death-defying images also have something to do with his enduring fame:
Before reading Posnanski’s book, I knew the Houdini story and myth but precious little about the followers, enthusiasts, and detractors. They’re *almost* as interesting as the man himself.
I give The Life and Aftermath of Harry Houdini 4 stars and an Adrastos Grade of A. Joe Pos is a helluva good writer and Harry Houdini is a helluva subject.
The last word of our second act goes to Jill Sobule:
We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth Casting Edition: I mentioned Prince Philip and The Crown in our second act. Here are side-by-side shots of the man with the actors who played him: Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies.
Apparently, the great Jonathan Pryce will portray the Prince in the next series of The Crown. Beats the hell outta old age makeup, which rarely looks realistic.
The Movie List: Donald Sutherland had a brief run as a movie star and an even longer run as a character actor. His career has been so long and varied that it was hard to winnow the list down to ten, but I’m equal to the task; either that or I’m good at faking it.
My Top Ten Favorite Donald Sutherland Movies
- Don’t Look Now
- The Day Of The Locust
- Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
- Ordinary People
- Space Cowboys
- Citizen X
- The Hunger Games Series
- Six Degrees Of Separation
Saturday GIF Horse: This week we present GIFs from two on the Sutherland list. First, as Matthew Bennell in that rarity, a good remake of a good movie, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Second, as the creepy dictator President Snow in the Hunger Games Series.
Dig those eyebrows, y’all.
TCM Clip Of The Week: Both Michael Caine and Cary Grant came from working class English backgrounds. Caine kept his accent whereas Grant adopted a posh accent, which helped make him a heartthrob for generations.
Another thing they had in common were names that needed changing: Maurice Micklewhite and Archbald Leach. Here’s Maurice’s tribute to Archie.
I still don’t get why the Brits pronounce Maurice as Morris. Ah, the minor mysteries of life.
Saturday Soundie: The featured image on last week’s Friday Cocktail Hour was of Cab Calloway and his big band. Here he is again with a soundie of his trademark tune and biggest hit.
Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-ho. Nonsense lyrics so powerful that they inspired this Goffin-King song:
Now that we’ve gotten a piece of the sky, let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.
Saturday Classic: When I was in high school the music building echoed with the sound of student pianists playing the intro to the title track of Traffic’s The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys. It’s one of the best albums of the 1970’s. Enjoy.
That’s it for this week. The last word goes to Donald Sutherland as Hawkeye and Elliott Gould as Trapper John in Robert Altman’s MASH. Dig those woody threads.