Saturday Odds & Sods: Carry On

Albino Sword Swallower At A Carnival by Diane Arbus.

The featured image is a photograph by Diane Arbus who was an extremely interesting and deeply weird photographer. Her motto was: “Take pictures of what you fear.” Words to live by.

I’d amend that to say: Deal with what you fear. I’m trying to do that in my own life. I’ve long had a fear of heights and a bridge phobia, which has intensified as I’ve aged. The bridge phobia is particularly unfortunate as I’ve always lived in places where bridges are a fact of life. I just white-knuckle it and muddle through. What else can I do?

My phobias also explain why I’m taking it slow in regard to the COVID after times. I may be fully vaccinated but many are nor. It’s why I’m proceeding with caution. I did, however, eat in a restaurant on our anniversary. A small triumph for trying times. Oh well, what the hell.

Before moving on to our theme song, some Diane Arbus trivia. She was married to actor Allan Arbus who is best known as army shrink Sidney Freedman on MASH. Allan was also a close friend of Montgomery Clift. The late Patricia Bosworth wrote excellent biographies of both Monty Clift and Diane Arbus. If you like tragic tales of talented people who died too young, they should be up your alley.

Stephen Stills wrote this week’s theme song for CSNY’s 1970 album Deja Vu. As the opening track, it gets things off to a rousing start and remains a staple of his set lists. I’d say CSN’s set lists but Crosby’s malakatude has made a reunion impossible. Imagine pissing off the most mild-mannered of rock stars, Graham Nash.

We have two versions of Carry On for your listening pleasure:  the studio original and a raucous live version featuring shouty, off-key vocals and sensational guitar playing by Stills and Young.

Ready to visit Disambiguation City?  JJ Cale wrote and recorded *his* Carry On in 1981:

Now that we’ve had deja vu and worn shades, let’s jump to the break.

Before moving on, another rock song that carries on albeit waywardly:

I considered growing a Kansas-style beard during the lockdown but I’m a spiller, so I discarded that idea. Who wants to smell like gumbo all day? I may roux the day I said that…

Let’s repair the damage by playing something by Our Mac:

We stay in the South as we kick off our second act with an article from The Atlantic. The magazine was founded by some Yankees in Boston. I’m not sure if William Dean Howells would approve of the move to Washington DC but what’s he gonna do about it? He’s been dead since 1920. FYI, Howells was the third editor of The Atlantic Monthly and a frequent contributor as well.

I’m a digital and dead tree subscriber to The Atlantic. I was pleased as punch when this landed in my mailbox:

The Lost Cause Myth: Clint Smith is a Black writer who is originally from New Orleans. No wonder his cover story is so brilliant. Click here to read it.

That was short and sweet. That calls for a song that doesn’t neatly fit into either the revisionist or lost cause camp. It’s still a great tune with a passionate lead vocal by the late Levon Helm:

The Book Report:

I first heard of Joanne Freeman’s The Field Of Blood at Charlie Pierce’s shabeen. That’s his blog for the uninitiated.

Freeman’s 2018 book provides example after example of why Congresscritters should NOT be packing heat when they’re at work. The period covered in the book was a violent one when men were men and spittoons overflowed. Antebellum America was a dirty and violent place.

Freeman’s native guide to the era is Benjamin Brown French. He was the House clerk for a time as well as a contributor to a variety of political newspapers of the day. He left behind a fascinating diary of his political era that Freeman uses to great effect.

The book is full of interesting characters and extremists who make Gym Jordan and Louis Gohmert Piles look like pikers. They’ve never caned anyone on the Senate floor like this guy:

That’s the Palmetto State’s Preston Brooks attacking one of the great solons of the day, Charles Sumner.

Freeman documents the many attacks, duels, and fights that went on in Benjamin French’s day. In fact, there are so many unfamiliar names that the book can be slow going at times. I had to read it in installments to get the most out of it. It was well worth it.

I give The Field Of Blood 3 stars and an Adrastos grade of B.

The last word of our second act goes to my favorite British glam rockers:

Are you a missing link or a pool room stink? Only Ian Hunter knows for sure.

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth Casting Edition: Rod Steiger was cast as William Claude Dukenfield in the 1976 biopic WC Fields and Me. It was based on a book by the comedian’s mistress. The book was good. The movie was an unpleasant and unfunny mess.

The biggest problem was the casting of Rod Steiger as Fields. He resembled him but Rod Steiger was NOT FUNNY. Oy just oy.

It’s trivia time again. The aforementioned Allan Arbus played director Gregory LaCava in the bad Fields flick. I briefly dated LaCava’s great-niece. Small world, innit?

The Movie List: Dr. A and I watched Act Of Violence on Noir Alley recently. It made me think of how many fine films Janet Leigh has been in. Hence this list.

My Top Ten Favorite Janet Leigh Movies

  1.   Psycho
  2.   Act Of Violence
  3.   The Manchurian Candidate
  4.   Touch Of Evil
  5.   The Naked Spur
  6.   Houdini
  7.   Pete Kelly’s Blues
  8.   Holiday Affair
  9.  The Fog
  10.  Bye Bye Birdie

I’m probably the only person who would rank Act Of Violence above the number 3 to 5 flicks. I stand by that rating. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s currently available on TCM On Demand and on the TCM app.  It’s noirlicious.

Saturday GIF Horse: Pondering the Lost Cause made me think of Buster Keaton’s The General. Here’s the star riding the rails. Literally.

I feel a train tune coming on. One of our readers, Minstrel Michael, mentioned this Paul Simon song in a comment last week so here we go:

Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.

Saturday Classic: 2020 was the 50th anniversary of the release of CSNY’s Deja Vu. The record company delayed releasing this deluxe anniversary edition until this year because of the pandemic. Better late than never:

That’s all for this week. The last word goes to the cast of Act Of Violence: Phyllis Thaxter, Robert Ryan, Van Heflin, and Janet Leigh.


One thought on “Saturday Odds & Sods: Carry On

  1. I just started The Field of Blood and am relieved to discover that it’s a bit of a slow field to plow for others. Fascinating, heavily detailed.

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