Saturday Odds & Sods: Strange Magic

My Brother Imitating Scherzo by Andre Kertesz.

You’ve probably noticed by now that I like themes that tie my posts together. This week’s theme is book and movie magic, music magic. and today Strange Magic.  I even included Jeff Lynne’s interpretation of Bewitched in this week’s Friday Cocktail Hour. One could say that this week has been magically delicious, which is the untrue ad slogan for the disgusting cereal Lucky Charms.

This week’s theme song was written by Jeff Lynne in 1975 for ELO’s Face The Music album. As if by magic, the single and album were strangely successful.

We have three versions of Strange Magic for your listening pleasure: the studio original, ELO live, and a 2012 remake.

As if by magic, it’s time to jump to the break, strangely enough.

Before jumping into our second act with both feet, two more magical tunes:

Dig those crazy dance moves and Keely’s skirt. It looks like something you’d wear for a magic carpet ride with Aladdin or MJ Hammer..

We begin our second act in earnest with an opus from the Atlantic.

George Packer’s Four Americas: Public intellectuals used to be a thing. They’re much rarer in the age of hot takes and shallow analysis. George Packer is one of the liveliest public intellectuals left standing.

He’s written something of an opus that breaks down our polity into Four Americas. I don’t entirely agree with his categories BUT he put a lot of thought into them so here they are: Free America, Smart America, Real America, and Just America.

I’m not sure how real Real America really is since it encompasses Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, but it does describe a certain category-there’s that word again-of people. You know, the folks the elite media spent four years trying to understand before they stormed the Capitol. Freedom, man.

I have one foot in both the Just America and Smart America camps. Smart Ass America might be more accurate in my case.

In any event, it’s an interesting albeit flawed look at the last forty years of American political and social history.

Almost as interesting is the dissent published by New York Magazine’s Eric Levitz: George Packer Has Forgotten The Working Class Biden Voter.

One could even argue that Packer and Levitz are playing American Roulette, which reminds me of a song by a Canadian:

While we’re at it, let’s throw this American song by a Canadian band in the mix:

We’re back in Real Housewives land with our next segment.

Documentary Of The Week:

I have a confession to make: I started a 30-day free trial of Hulu just to watch this documentary about the Girardi family melodrama. I’m glad I did. Hey, they have all the seasons of Top Chef too.

The Housewife in the title is Erika Jayne of RHOBH. That’s Beverly Hills even though she lived in Pasadena until her marriage to super-lawyer Tom Girardi imploded last fall.

Until recently Girardi was a highly respected member of the California bar. The lawyer played by Albert Finney in Erin Brockovich was based on him. It turns out that Girardi was just another sleazy ambulance chaser who stole from his clients. He was disbarred and is in disgrace. He claims to be broke and senile, but he’s a proven liar so who knows what to believe.

The Housewife & The Hustler focuses on three cases in which Tom Girardi stiffed his clients: one for a mere $135K, which was walking around money for Erika and Tom.

It’s unknown how much Erika knew of her husband’s nefarious activities. She’s denied specific knowledge and I’m inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt for now. It does, however, make one feel queasy upon viewing this:

The Hustler & The Housewife was inspired by an investigative piece by LA Times reporters Matt Hamilton and Harriet Ryan. It’s harrowing reading and I get why Erika dumped Tom and why some of her fans are ready to dump her.

I give The Hustler & The Housewife 3 stars and an Adrastos grade of B. It will be interesting to see how this plays out on Bravo. Stay Tuned.

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth: I’ve been watching some old Top Chef Restaurant Wars episodes. I saw one with obnoxious chef Stefan Richter, which reminded me of how much he resembles Mr. Clean:

Who knew that there was a Mr. Clean action figure? I certainly didn’t.

It’s a pity that there aren’t any Top Chef action figures. Imagine a glowering Tom Colicchio, a pensive Padma or Dale Talde with a meat cleaver. The possibilities are endless.

This guy, however, has his own action figure:

The Movie List: This week’s album cover art entry inspired me to do something different in this space: a list dedicated to a movie composer. One of the entries, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, is Bernard Herrmann’s own favorite so it had to make the cut even though I don’t remember it. There’s only so much trivia that even I can remember. That’s what Mr. Google is for.

My Top Ten Favorite Bernard Herrmann Film Scores

  1.  Vertigo
  2.  North By Northwest
  3.  Psycho
  4.  Citizen Kane
  5.  Taxi Driver
  6.  The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
  7.  The Day The Earth Stood Still
  8.  Cape Fear
  9.  Fahrenheit 451
  10.  Hangover Square

I limited the list to 3 Hitchcock flicks but all of Herrmann’s work with the Master of Suspense was, well, masterful.

Tommy T reminded me that Hermann also wrote the music for the teevee western Have Gun Will Travel:

Saturday GIF Horse: In case you’re wondering what made Garbo laugh in Ninotchka, it was this pratfall by Melvyn Douglas.

We move from Garbo to Garfield.

TCM Clip Of The Week:  Julius Garfinkle DBA John Garfield was one of my favorite actors of his era. In this clip, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz talks to author Carla Valderrama about the red hunters’ pursuit of Garfield.

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

Saturday Classic: Here’s a magical collaboration between singer Nancy Wilson and saxophonist Cannonball Adderley. The band includes future Weather Reporter Josef Zawinul on piano.

That’s all for this week. The last word goes to Bernard Herrmann and Orson Welles.

3 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: Strange Magic

  1. Lex says:

    Richter also resembles Rick Scott, who resembles Bat Boy.

  2. Your reference prompted me to read George Packer’s essay for The Atlantic. A very interesting and thought-provoking discussion indeed.

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