Monthly Archives: November 2021

Never Give A Sucker An Even Break

It will be no surprise to our readers that I think that Trumpism is a con, scam, and grift. Fleecing suckers is the Impeached Insult Comedian’s lifetime avocation, make that vocation. Sometimes the con job is legal: casinos in Atlantic City. Sometimes it’s not: Trump University. But it’s always a con.

That brings me to two of Trump World’s most blatant con artists: disgraced General Mike Flynn and professional asshole Steve Bannon. They both received pardons in the waning days of the Trump regime. They’re both out there shaking down Trumper suckers. Only one of them has been indicted again but I wouldn’t bet against Flynn joining Bannon in the dock.

We begin by going in like Flynn. I really should stop using the Errol Flynn trial line but I’m incorrigible. In the early days of the Mike Flynn scandal, I had some sympathy for him because of his distinguished military record. I’m a sucker for a guy in uniform. More importantly, he originally pled guilty and agreed to take his medicine until MAGA lawyer Sydney Powell took over his defense. That’s when shit got weird.

As you may recall, Flynn’s withdrawal of his guilty plea was supported by Bill Barr and eventually led to a presidential* pardon. I told you this shit was weird.

Since the pardon Flynn has become a QAnon hero. He’s been cultivating the most gullible group in the country and making a living off them. Nice work if you can get it.

I feel a musical interlude coming on:

Flynn is back in the news because of a phone call between him and MAGA shyster Lin Wood who is on the outs with some Q-types or is that Q-Tips?  I get the two confused.

Lin Wood has a nasty habit of recording phone calls. He did it again with Flynn:

In the call, Wood complains to Flynn that his QAnon supporters had attacked Wood online. But Flynn attempts to disown QAnon, claiming it’s a “disinformation campaign” created by the CIA.

“I think it’s a disinformation campaign,” Flynn said on the call. “I think it’s a disinformation campaign that the CIA created. That’s what I believe. Now, I don’t know that for a fact, but that’s what I think it is. I think it’s a disinformation campaign.”

Later in the recording, Flynn called QAnon “total nonsense.”

“I find it total nonsense,” Flynn said. “And I think it’s a disinformation campaign created by the left.”

Since Flynn was in military intelligence, one would think he knows from disinformation. He does not. Q-Anon is strictly a right-wing phenomenon with rhetoric straight out of the Bircher handbook. Besides, the CIA may have started life stuffed with lefties, but those days ended with the rise of Allen Dulles and James Jesus Angleton. Jeez, General, you oughta know that. He sounds like a guy who doesn’t know the difference between a mole and mole poblano…

As of this writing, Flynn hasn’t denied the story but I’m sure he will. QAnon is his golden goose. He’ll do anything to salvage a tie to the most gullible people in the country. It’s hard to find marks that easy to con. Why do you think the Kaiser of Chaos has always refused to denounce them?

The reason I used the title of the surreal WC Fields classic Never Give A Sucker An Even Break is our second MAGA con artist, Steve Bannon. I’ve long thought of Bannon as WC Fields’ evil twin. The sardonic and bibulous comedian was a Republican who threatened to run against FDR in 1940:

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Cry The Beloved Almost Visited Country

South African Flag

So while everyone waits with baited breath on the results of the further tests on the Omicron variant of COVID I have a selfish reaction to the news.

Fuck, there goes my vacation. Maybe.

Yes, the wife (Cruella) and I were going to be heading to South Africa in about six weeks. Why South Africa? The beauty and wonder of a land so far from our own. The chance to leave winter behind and regale in the warmth of the southern hemisphere. And, ironically, it had until last week, one of the lowest COVID infection rates IN THE WORLD. The U.S. has a rate of 25 cases per 100,000 people. South Africa has a rate of less than one per 100,000. In a country of 59 million that means, hold on let me get the calculator out, let’s see divide by 100K, multiple by one percent, oh crap the calculator battery ran out, anyway that means like 59 people in the entire country diagnosed as COVID positive.

Those are the kinds of odds I’ll take a chance on. Besides I wanted to photograph lions and hippos and elephants oh my.

I’ve been on the side of vaccination, social distancing, mask wearing, et al throughout the pandemic. Do I think the world is overreacting to Omicron? Hell no, until we know more everything should be shut down. Seal off any country where it rears it’s spikey little head. That includes those European countries that relaxed their testing and sequencing efforts (looking at you Belgium, you frivolous Flemish fop).

Here’s the thing about Omicron, at the moment hospitals aren’t overrun with Omicron variation patients. As a matter of fact, few have gone to hospital and even fewer have ended up in Intensive Care and those who do tend to be (say it with me) unvaccinated. The symptoms that present seem to be along the lines of general achiness and a bad cough. Um, I don’t know about you, but that’s how I wake up each morning. And yes, all those who have tested positive for it are on the younger side so are more likely to be able to fight it off with relative ease, but compare that to original COVID-19 where people got it and ended up on a ventilator eventually.

Here’s a thought. What if Omicron is the end stage mutation of COVID? What if it is like the mutation that turned the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920 from deadly killer to winter time annoyance? I have no epidemiology training and I don’t play a doctor on TV, but the fact that no one is dying of it suggests that there is at least the possibility of this being true. And if that’s the case, don’t you actually want that variation to reach as many people worldwide as possible? Is there a lab somewhere in the world where an original strength COVID molecule is being put into the proverbial ring with an Omicron microbe to see who bests who? I mean even Coke and Pepsi did that.

And now from the beautiful Sands Hotel in fabulous Las Vegas Nevada, it’s fifteen rounds to determine the heavyweight virus championship of the world!

Drizzle drazzle drazzle drome click the link for more

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Waking Up? Or Soon To Fall Back Asleep?

Trump taking questions Media Watchdog Jay Rosen, an NYU professor, has been one of the Eyes on the Fails regarding how our American media is largely, well, failing to properly cover our march into autocracy. His writing is a must-read. Yesterday, he actually saw a glimmer of hope in the form of a CNN appearance by Juicy Trump Book Author Jon Karl, who is also a Well-Respected White House Correspondent with ABC News.

You can read it here.

Rosen is a realist and not one to get snookered easily into false hope. So if he sees some good news here, that’s pretty huge. Karl is talking about “conversations” beginning to happen in large newsrooms about how to cover a potential 2024 Trump run. Karl openly calls him an “anti-democratic” candidate, progress for a guy who thought those of us who were alarmed by Trump winning as hysterical.

This is great and all, but I’m still skeptical. “Conversations” are not actual actions and the word “conversations” implies there very well could be push-back against covering Trump any differently than they did from 2015-2020. This might not even happen, this hoped for change in approach.

Also, as Rosen ends his Twitter thread with, there are a lot of concerns that these same media outlets/figures will not apply the same approach to the Republican Party. Because the Republican Party is also interested in wrecking democracy, and covering Trump as some sort of fringe outlier would not be much of an improvement.

As a friend pointed out, the source should be considered here. Karl sat on news that Trump was all for hanging his vice president and didn’t report it so he could include it in his book. Those ethics are not great.

In any event, let’s hope Karl is right and this shift in focus actually happens. But I’m not holding my breath.

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A Post About Nothing

I took the long weekend off from politics. It may damage my pundit cred but I’m like a car battery that needs recharging only without jumper cables. As you may have guessed, that’s the set up for an aimless and meandering potpourri post. Monday is often the day I feel aimless and meandering as opposed to manic. I do, however, like the Prince/Bangles song. But it doesn’t fit my mood this chilly morning. I initially called this post Blue Monday, but I believe in truth in advertising so A Post About Nothing it is.

I assume y’all get the Seinfeld reference, so I won’t belabor the point and tell an aimless and meandering story about a night at a Chinese restaurant. We did, however, try to eat at our favorite Chinese eatery way out in Kenna, Brah a few weeks back. But they had storm damage and were only serving takeout from a limited menu. We passed. We go there for the atmosphere. I’m lying: we go there for the Mongolian Beef.

We got a fancy new Samsung smart TV yesterday. Setting it up made me feel dumb. The physical set up was easy enough except when Claire Trevor decided to help. She’s one of those cats who gets into everything. Her tech skills are de minimus, so I shooed her away. It was easy since the TV came in a box within a bigger box. Every day is boxing day for Claire.

Setting up the new TV reminded me of the first time I set up a computer back in the tech stone age. I was intimidated but muddled through. I hate that printed manuals are no longer part of the deal. It’s a pain in the ass to have to use the E-manual on the TV or download a PDF. Holy shit, I sound like a Seinfeld character. Sorry about that. I’ll try and do better.

I’ve spent much of the pandemic being the guy who keeps saying: “It’s not over yet. Don’t spike the ball.” I would rather spike the ball, but the virus is tenacious and keeps bouncing back. Its latest iteration Omicron sounds extra-sinister. It sounds like a sci-fi or comic book villain sprung to viral life, The last thing I want to be is an extra in a comic book movie. There I go again, sounding like a Seinfeld character. It’s a Monday thing.

What political news I’ve seen was bleak. The Man of La Manchin and the Sinematic Senator are being deluged with contributions from GOP donors. We already knew that Unholy Joe was a corrupt piece of shit, but I’ve tended to think of Veda Pierce Sinema as a shallow narcissist desperate for attention. Of course, one can be a shallow narcissist and still be a corrupt piece of shit. Exhibit A is the Impeached Insult Comedian. That’s better, I sound like a cynical Curb Your Enthusiasm character instead of Jerry or George. I identify with Larry David’s shouty agent Jeff who also plays shouty dad Murray on The Goldbergs. I’m feeling shouty right now.

My favorite recent news story involves the Dipshit Insurrection. The headline at TPM almost says it all: Broadway Actor Who Plays Judas In ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Charged With Storming Capitol Alongside Oath Keepers.

Actually, James Beeks d/b/a James T. Justis is a road show Judas or is that stock company Judas? Beats the hell outta me. I should ask my friend the Stage Mother. She knows from musicals.

It’s also ironic that the road show Judas stormed the Capitol with the Oath Keepers. If I remember my biblical movies correctly, Judas was the ultimate Oath Breaker. And they said that irony was dead.

Speaking of irony, the jailed Judas is a man of many monikers. He has a YouTube page under the name James ‘Delisco’ Beeks. Here he is auditioning for Judas:

Now that was something.

I’d like to conclude this post about nothing with a quote from the hit Billy Preston song Nothing From Nothing:

Nothing from nothing means nothing. You gotta have something, if you wanna be with me.

Obviously, the last word goes to the late Billy Preston and his spectacular Afro:

Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the Freeperati – “The hits just keep on coming” edition

Short one this week, everyone – took a helluva fall in my studio, and right hand/arm are only semi-operational.

First up – Convicted of being white!

Jury reaches verdict in trial of three men in killing of Ahmaud Arbery [all 3 guilty of murder]

Posted on 11/24/2021, 12:28:00 PM by janetjanet998

1 posted on 11/24/2021, 12:28:00 PM by janetjanet998
Damnit, janetjanet!
To: janetjanet998

McMichael Sr knew Arbery and knew his record. Arbery wasn’t jogging in work boots and there had been a rash of thefts and break-ins, of cars AND houses. They knew a gun had been stolen from a car. The police WERE called and they intended to hold Arbery until the police got there. Arbery grabbed McMichael Jrs gun and fought him for it. Arbery lost. They aren’t guilty but may be convicted of being white.

48 posted on 11/24/2021, 12:42:24 PM by DJ MacWoW (The Fed Gov is not one ring to rule them all)

To: janetjanet998

Regardless of the verdict, riots will ensue.

53 posted on 11/24/2021, 12:43:12 PM by gov_bean_ counter (Eccl10:2 – The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.)

(Tommy T looks around for riots – none in sight as of Thursday)
To: janetjanet998
These verdicts go against the original intent of the Founders.

That must be the “Kill all the Negroes” clause in the Constitution, right?

There is no way this would have happened during the Founding era.

68 posted on 11/24/2021, 12:49:58 PM by PatriotarchyQ

To: PatriotarchyQ

Well they didn’t have trucks (during the ‘founding era”). And the victim would have been a slave and they could have done whatever they wanted to him without fear of punishment. So you are correct.

83 posted on 11/24/2021, 1:01:30 PM by bigdaddy45

To be fair, there are a few posts like this one :
To: bgill

These guys are morons.

No one to blame but themselves.

43 posted on 11/24/2021, 12:41:07 PM by ifinnegan (Democrats kill babies and harvest their organs to sell)

But for every one of those, there are two of these :
This gets said over and over :
Arbery wasn’t jogging in work boots
Nice to know that choice of footwear is grounds for justifiable homicide.
To: DJ MacWoW

He was wearing Nike running shoes, not work boots. That’s not in question, it was in the trial.

162 posted on 11/24/2021, 2:24:21 PM by jimnm

To: Az Joe

First, I absolutely concur with this verdict but Trespassing? Being in Real Estate for thirty years, I have to say, I have “trespassed” hundreds of times into homes under construction, as have my clients and many other potential buyers. The builders love it because they want to sell it or get a prospective custom build. People love going into houses, under construction and open, I don’t know why but they do. But not once has a neighbor ever questioned me or called the police.

139 posted on 11/24/2021, 1:46:13 PM by Toespi ( )

I wonder why?
One more thread at the “

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Today on Tommy T’s obsession with random ruminations – “Big Pharma doesn’t cure” edition

“Big pharma doesn’t cure….”

I’m sick of people saying that “Big Pharma doesn’t cure diseases”. Cures are few and far between (the most recent cure is the one for Hepatitis),because once the damage is done, it’s done.

It’s a little like saying that regular oil changes don’t fix a cracked engine block – of course they won’t, but they might have PREVENTED the hung valve that broke the engine block.

The Eliquis I take keeps me from having multiple AFIB-generated strokes like the ones that struck down my Mom and destroyed her brain, (and the ones that paralyzed her Mom and Dad and destroyed THEIR brains) It doesn’t “cure strokes”.

The Allopurinol I take doesn’t cure me from having had kidney stones, it prevents me from getting them ever again. The first time YOU have one, you’ll be screaming for that pill.

The Januvia I take doesn’t prevent me from having congestive heart failure due to the hereditary deficiencies in my lower limb circulation (my Mom lost both of her legs to this), it ameliorates it.

Now – which one do you want to take away from me?



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Sunday Morning Video: Tony Bennett Live In London

Tony Bennett recently retired from live performances. What a career. what a singer, what a mensch.

Here he is live in1991 at London’s Prince Edward Theatre.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Name Of The Game

Clown at a diner on Thanksgiving in Reno, Nevada by Thomas Hoepker.

The New Orleans weather yo-yo continues as temperatures rise and fall. Making matters worse is that it’s happening in the middle of the night. We’ve had more than a few days where the high or low was at the stroke of midnight. Oy, just oy.

The weird weather has led to some weird dreams. The most puzzling one involved staying with two friends who were married in my dream but don’t know one another IRL. They refused to change bathroom lightbulbs or allow me to do so. I am not a fan of showering in the dark. I did it after Hurricane Ida but didn’t like it. I have no idea what this dream means but it’s sufficiently weird to share.  Oh well, what the hell.

Our Thanksgiving was pleasant and low key. We didn’t get the turkey dinner at the drug store because such a thing is impossible in 2021. We had a quiet dinner at home then visited some friends we hadn’t seen since the lockdown. It was an exercise in Gamalian normalcy. Not bad for a guy who has developed a crowd phobia. It’s a far cry from the rock and roll infused days of my wayward youth.

This week’s theme song was written in 1972 by Pete Ham for Badfinger’s Straight Up album. It marked Ham’s emergence as a songwriting force to be reckoned with. Sadly, Pete Ham killed himself just three years later. It was a great loss.

We have two versions of Name Of The Game for your listening pleasure: the Badfinger original and a recent cover by Susanna Hoffs and Aimee Mann.

It’s time for another trip to disambiguation city. Bryan Ferry wrote The Name Of The Game for his 1987 album Bete Noire.

Now that we’ve pondered names and games, let’s jump to the break,

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For Once In My Life

As Shapiro said earlier, it’s DAT. And dat means I didn’t feel like writing anything other than my regular Friday features. Since it’s dat day, we can start drinking early. What’s a little day drinking among friends? If you’re a Who Dat you may have never stopped drinking after last night’s game in which the Buffalo Bills pantsed the New Orleans Saints. Ugh, just ugh.

On with the show, this is it.

For Once In My Life was written in 1965 by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden for Motown’s publishing company. It was conceived as a ballad but didn’t become a big hit until Stevie Wonder struck gold with an up tempo arrangement.

We begin with a singer who knows his way around a ballad, Anthony Benedetto d/b/a Tony Bennett:

Stevie Wonder took ownership of the song in 1968.

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What’s DAT You Say?

An American Thanksgiving

Happy Day After Thanksgiving (DAT). I won’t refer to it by that other name. I won’t keep you long. Don’t want to put a crimp in your shopping day (only 29 of them left till Christmas).

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you keep with last year’s mandates (oops, sorry, didn’t mean to bring up politics, at least not this early) and keep to just a few close friends and family? Or was this year a “return to normalcy” with everyone and their long lost cousin around the table? For the wife (Cruella) and I we fell somewhere in the middle. One son out of two, a couple of in-laws, and a few friends. The turkey was prepared in the traditional method which is a recipe culled from a long dead supermarket’s promo flier and has been our staple for over 25 years. Yeah, it’s that good, combining a crispy flavorful skin with a moist juicy meat. All the traditional sides, all the traditional pies, all the traditional post dinner comas.

And speaking of traditions, we find ourselves at the traditional start to the Christmas season. No more mocking of those who put up Christmas lights early or forgot to take them down from last year or for whom those aren’t Christmas lights at all but rather Diwali lights which frankly was over two weeks ago but hey we’ll overlook it so long as a plate of Barfi makes it’s way to my door.

Mmmmm, Barfi.

It’s also three days until Hanukah or Chanukah or whatever phonetic spelling of Hebrew you wish to use. As with most, well all, Jewish holidays it can be summed up as “they tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat”. If you are a religious Jew you consider it a minor holiday. If you are a somewhat less religious Jew you consider it a nice way to feel festive at a time when the Christians you work with are feeling festive. If you are an American Jew it’s a time to celebrate you assimilation into the general population while maintaining your cultural heritage. Nothing says this is my country like jelly donuts and latkes. Fried and sweet, America’s two favorite flavors.

Mmmmm, latkes.

Not to forget Kwanzaa which begins on December 26. I might be risking riling up some folks, but I really like Kwanzaa. It’s a totally made up holiday that was made up not only as a celebration of African culture, but as a response to the commercialism of Christmas. Just don’t forget to bring the gumbo.

Mmmmm, gumbo.

There is also the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (bring the tamales) and even National Twin Day (bring the Twinkies) . As a matter of fact, there is a holiday or celebration every day in December.

But the day that encapsulates all the other holidays we celebrate at this time of year is International Migrants Day, celebrated on December 18. All of us in the United States, yes even the Native Americans and the descendants of the Pilgrims, have in our backgrounds migrants who found their way here to a land they saw opportunity in. Some of us believe that because we made it here we can’t forget those who still want to make it here, both physically and spiritually. Some of us believe only in “I got mine Jack” and want to pull up the ladder behind themselves.

May I suggest the latter and the ladder are not American values. America has always meant opportunity. It has always meant hope. It has always meant a fair shake to any and all. It has always meant a safe haven for the “wretched refuse of your teeming shore”. It has always meant justice and fair play. We try to live up to those ideals and lately we have been coming up short in many regards. But we have to keep fighting for those ideals because as we are seeing far too often today, if you don’t stand for your ideals, you’ll fall for anything.

So this Thanksgiving, give thanks that we still have the will to fight for those ideals. And this holiday season (yeah, Happy Holidays, what’s it to ya?) keep a thought for those who have fallen short of the American Dream. Keep a hand out to those who need help. Keep your heart open and your soul full of compassion. Because America isn’t the land of I, it’s the land of we.

The most American of songwriters will take us out to that Land of Hope and Dreams.

Yeah leave behind your sorrows, let this day be the last
Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine and all this darkness past

Shapiro Out



Friday Catblogging: Black Friday Kitty

This post has nothing to do with shopping. It’s another picture of Claire Trevor in all her kitty femme fatale glory.

The last word goes to Steely Dan:

Take A Breath, It’s Just Thanksgiving

close up of Freedom from Want painting with older couple serving a turkey

This is not your family.

Hey there. Happy Thanksgiving to you. Enjoying your Thanksgiving coffee? Yeah, I know. Soon (if not already), you’re going to have to deal with family.

Last year, even if you won’t admit it to anyone, was actually kind of nice. Thanks to COVID, it was just you and the people and pets you live with. No worries about the cringe-worthy political opinions of family members. But this year, it’s once more into the breach, my friend.

There’s your one uncle, who two Thanksgivings ago told you that if Trump didn’t win 600 electoral votes, the fix was in. That was tough, fighting the urge to scream THERE’S ONLY 538 VOTES, YOU MORON. But then your cousin, who you are convinced had to be the result of an affair your aunt had given how dumb your aunt and uncle are, piped up with “Dad, for God’s sake, there are only 538 electoral votes!” Kudos to remaining calm when he shot back with “Since when?!?”

Then there’s the other uncle, who doesn’t say much. Just sits and stares. His truck full of kinda-violent right-wing bumper stickers does the talking for him. As awkward as his gruff “yeah, not too bad” is in response to anything you say in a desperate attempt to make small talk is, no matter what you say on whatever subject (weather, sportsball, etc.), at least he’s not loud. But that stare…

Your ditzy sister-in-law will no doubt bring up her COVID conspiracy theories, how the vaccines are full of autism chips or whatever. She’s the star of a semi-viral Youtube video titled “Crazy woman screaming at Wal-Mart employee about Bill Gates” (up to 500,000 views now), so best to remain silent.

Mom and Dad are, of course, Mom and Dad. Hopefully, Dad won’t do anything like what he did during Thanksgiving 2017, when he told everyone about his prostate exam during dinner. While Mom sat there quietly staring at her plate, her only defense.

Haven’t even mentioned your QAnon cousin, your nephew who was at January 6, and your brother-in-law who tries to get you to buy Herbalife.

But you prepared for this, right? You read that “15 Tips for Navigating Uncomfortable Conversations at Thanksgiving” in Slate, correct? Or was it Vulture? Or Vox? Anyway, you’ll give that a go until you realize none of the tips work for dealing with your family, which will happen in the expanse of about 20 seconds. At least you can have a second glass of wine to cope.

Oh, that’s right…alcohol hasn’t been a part of your family’s Thanksgiving since 2008, when another one of your cousins got hammered on Carlo Rossi and fell into Mom’s Precious Moments display, leaving behind a mess of regret and tiny pieces of porcelain. One of which lodged in Dad’s foot one night eight months later while he was on a mission to get a midnight snack. The infection eventually cleared up.

So another Thanksgiving is here, with that crazy family of yours, complete with all the awkward, enraging, and annoying stuff they bring to each gathering. Maybe next year, you’ll just say, ‘you know what, it’s just going to be us. We won’t go anywhere, we’ll have a nice dinner here, no tension, just relaxation. And that will be so nice.’

Yeah, right. We both know Mom won’t be okay with that.

The last word goes to a Thanksgiving as dysfunctional as yours.


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Now Be Thankful

Adrastos’ late mother in her Chicago heyday.

The holidays were hard for everyone last year because of the pandemic. Things are slowly but surely returning to Gamalian normalcy this year.

Thanksgiving 2021 will still be an odd one. We were hoping to return to our holiday norm and spend it in Baton Rouge with mother-in-law #1, but she died in June at the age of 99. The loss has hit me harder as the holidays approach. I miss her but she was ready to go after a long and glorious life.

That concludes this year’s introduction to my annual Thanksgiving post. On with the show this is it:

The holidays are hard for me. I like Thanksgiving’s gluttonous aspects but it’s still hard for me. It’s when I think of my mother who died in 2001. My mother was the sort of person who took in strays for the holidays. We’d have up to 20 people around the table; some of whom were friends of friends of friends. Mom believed that everyone should have a home cooked meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many of our guests for Christmas dinner were, in fact, Jewish. No Chinese food for her Jewish friends.

Mom spent the day before Thanksgiving, and the day of, cooking away. She was a perfectionist when it came to entertaining: no holiday buffets for her. We had to gather around the table and it had to have a starched white tablecloth. There were no paper plates or people eating whilst milling about: fine china, silver, and crystal were mandatory for the holidays. She was informal the rest of the year but holidays were state occasions when, as my father was wont to say, we put on the dog.

When I got old enough, one of my jobs was to set the table. I made sure that Mom had final approval: she wanted everything just so. I recall feeling triumphant one Thanksgiving: I’d set the table perfectly on the first try. There were usually changes but not that year. I was inordinately proud of myself but she admonished me not to get too cocky. It was the Midwestern Norwegian Lutheran in her coming out. She left the bragging to my dad. It’s what Greeks do, y’all. Not me, of course, other Greeks…

I also helped make a fresh cranberry/orange sauce from the recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag. We had a venerable hand-cranked grinder that had to be attached to the kitchen table. We spread newspaper around it because it was messy. There was a bucket at my feet to catch the bitter red cranberry drippings. Mom was not sentimental about her kitchen gadgets: she bought a food processor the first time she saw one. I was away from home and past the cranberry grinding, table setting phase of my life by then.

My favorite part of the traditional turkey dinner was the stuffing. I looked forward to it every year. It was loaded with herbs as well as pine nuts and chestnuts. We didn’t exactly roast them on an open fire but I helped shell the bastards. They were uncooperative, downright surly, actually. When I was really young, I was convinced they were alive but my no-nonsense mother disabused me of that notion. She informed me that I’d seen the Wizard of Oz one too many times. As usual, she was right.

Unfortunately, there was often conflict at the dinner table during the holidays. I’m the youngest of three by thirteen years. My sisters were off living life and I was raised more like an only child. I admit to liking it that way. My oldest sister thrives on drama and conflict. There was always one big row per holiday, which drove my poor mother crazy. She was always the woman in the middle. When she died, so did our nuclear family for reasons too complex to go into. The good news is that holidays are more tranquil but I miss the glue of my family.

Thanksgivings in Louisiana had a familiar feel when I moved here. It’s all about the food, y’all.  I married into an old Louisiana family and learned some new traditions. What’s not to love about oyster dressing? I still missed my mom’s stuffing. It was a part of me.

My first wife was a petite, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant spitfire. She took the idea of being a redhead seriously: she had a temper to match my own. Her mother took me in as one of her own but made it clear that when we moved to Baton Rouge, we’d have to tie the knot. Unfortunately, my wife’s family tree was a witches brew of genetic maladies and she died of cancer during what should have been her final year at LSU Law School.

She passed away a week before Thanksgiving so the holidays were rough sledding for me until I met and fell in love with the tall, feisty, beautiful, and brilliant woman known to you as Dr. A. The good news is that Dr. A and my mother-in-law instantly hit it off and she was admitted to the Louisiana family post-haste. It was Dr. A who started calling our Louisiana family the outlaws and the nickname stuck.

I sat down to write a brief, nostalgic food-centric post and ended up explaining my tangled family tree. So it goes. I never hide the fact that I was a widower at a young age but I only tell people when asked how I came to the Gret Stet of Louisiana from California. It’s a long and painful story but I’m fortunate to have married well twice.

I still miss my mother. She could dance on my last nerve, but I miss our long conversations and teasing her about her crazy dog Brutus.

Mothers are powerful. They have the ability to make you revert to childhood. I know that many of your mothers get on your nerves. It’s what they do. Shrug it off and remember that they won’t always be with you. Around the holidays is when I miss my mom and Dr. A misses her charming, beautiful, and eccentric mother. Mother-in-law #2, however, was not a good cook and expected us to consume the radishes she’d lovingly cut. I hate radishes but her company was the best.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The last word goes to Fairport Convention with the gorgeous Richard Thompson song that gave this post its title:

Here’s another one from the songwriter. It’s a day for gluttony, after all:

Giving Thanks…

Small thanks, but a year ago that guy was president, and now this guy is (not my first or even second choice, but a considerable improvement).

And Biden’s dealing with an opposition party that’s not opposing, but committed, all-in, to sabotage — or worse — as well as calls coming from inside the house (OK, the Senate, i.e., Man of La Manchin and Sinemarama).

Then there’s the corporate media, which just can’t quit their abject fealty to whatever GOP talking point wins their day

Politico, the Drudge Report for this era.

Sigh, I’m too old to hold out much hope, but will take victories when they come.

Hope everyone enjoys the holiday; personally, my plan is non-controversial topics with the wingers in the family (food, wine, weather…)

Hope everyone has a nice harvest fest.


Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Thursday Turkey Murders

It’s a day for ritual as well as gluttony. I’ll be publishing both my annual Thanksgiving posts this year. I’m determined to disprove the notion that liberals hate this holiday.

This book cover makes its fifth appearance here at First Draft.

Thursday Thanksgiving Murders

What’s Thanksgiving without some lagniappe. Here are Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg mashing potatoes:

Quote Of The Day: Charlottesville Nazi Trial Edition

I’m about to indulge in what the late, great Greg Peters called “lazy quoting of better writers.” Nobody does legal analysis better than Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick:

In no small part because the trial was not broadcast—listeners could instead dial in to a line capped at 500 participants—there was no platform to amplify and rebroadcast the Nazism that the defendants sought to display. To be sure, some of the white supremacists did their best to drum up publicity during the trial, appearing on each other’s podcasts and threatening to dox the witnesses, but for the most part, their racism as expressed in court was puerile and dumb (yawn-inducing references to Mein Kampf and dropping the N-word). While some of the defendants tried to liken themselves to Jesus Christ and other free speech martyrs, nobody will walk away from Sines v Kessler with the sense that the jury found them to be first amendment paragons. They were tagged, every one, as cut-rate Nazis, which renders them both unsympathetic, but more importantly, uninteresting.

Some of the most shocking days of the defendants’ antics at trial proved to be about as riveting as seventh period health class at a middle school. Even as they mounted a chaotic and undisciplined defense, they unerringly seemed to prioritize personal fame and branding over argument and analysis. In the end they achieved neither fame nor branding nor analysis. The message was ultimately both contained in the theater of public opinion, and condemned roundly by the jury. The jury saw them for what they were: sad little violent white men begging for relevance if nothing else. They failed even at that.

The Charlottesville Nazi civil case is an excellent argument for NOT televising trials. We were obliged to read about the uncivil antics of the defendants in this civil case instead of watching them. That led to muted coverage of the trial, which was a good thing. Who wants these cretins to have a forum for their bigotry and half-baked Nazi notions? Shock value is what televising the case would have provided. If you want shock value, watch Tucker Carlson.

I’m not always against televising trials, but prefer it be decided on a case-by-case basis. Cameras tend to evoke emotional responses both inside and outside the courtroom. They tend to inflate the importance of a given case. A recent example of this phenomenon was the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. It was a case with no precedential value in Wisconsin or anywhere else. The media coverage degenerated into another episode of Own The Libs Theatre. Unfortunately, the libs took the bait and made the case more significant than it should have been.

The featured image is of one of my legal heroes, Justice Robert Jackson as he gave the opening argument in the first Nuremberg Trial. That was a case about real Nazis, real war criminals, not the bargain basement Nazis who were found liable for damages in the Charlottesville civil case.

It remains astonishing to me that any American can style themselves a Nazi. We fought and won a war against the Nazis. The uncle I never knew died fighting them,

I have a theory as to why American losers are attracted to the biggest loser of all, Adolf Hitler. It’s all in the imagery. The Nazis were masters at staging epic, mock-heroic images. It’s all there in Triumph Of The Will, which was the apogee of Nazi propaganda at its most artistic. Goebbels, Riefenstahl, and Speer were masters of illusion and made that 1934 Nuremberg rally look like a lost part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

The Nazis gift for imagery is why the best way to learn about that horrible period in history is to read about it. The untutored viewer is apt to be sucked in by Nazi stagecraft despite all the images of the Holocaust out there. They’re so shocking as to be written off as fakes by your basic American Nazi even though the Nuremberg defendants believed them to be real. They were much smarter than modern American Nazis. Who isn’t?

I also think that the use of Nazi imagery by anti-Vaxxers and other wingnuts is part of their ongoing campaign to own the libs. What’s more outrageous than wearing a Yellow Star to protest COVID restrictions? Substance is meaningless to the pro-Trump extremist right, style is everything. Owning the libs is more important than the truth.

The last word goes to Robert Jackson with an argument for accountability and the rule of law:

The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.

‘Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving

Our main course this Thanksgiving is…rest. I have been juggling several big tasks at home, and my husband was just handed a mess at work to untangle. I’m still recovering from last week and hit the wall on Tuesday.

I stopped cooking turkey as Thanksgiving dinner several years ago. We regularly eat turkey (did you know it’s a superfood?) during the year, and while I make a mean roast chicken, turkey is more unwieldy and less forgiving than chicken. My grocery store carries standing rib roasts at Thanksgiving and Christmas and deeply discounts them, so that’s become our standard fare.

I make popovers (I love popovers) and my husband decides on the rest of the menu since I don’t like vegetables. This year I’ve streamlined the process. I bought dessert this year–a cherry pie and some profiteroles—which turns out to be really sweet for me because I love profiteroles but I am not about to make them.

Because we travel to Connecticut at Christmas to see my family, we stay home for Thanksgiving. Our activities consist of watching the parade and the dog show and football (I’m not really interested in non-household favorite teams, but it’s every American’s duty to root against the Cowboys, right?).

And we’ll also be grateful for what we have and for the things 2021 has brought:  a vaccine that will allow me to see my mom and dad for the first time in 2 years, my husband’s restored health, a saner government, and renewed hope. I hope you all have a day filled with laughter, love, delicious smells and tastes, and rest, too.

Gustav Mahler is one of my favorite composers, and his 4th Symphony is one of my favorite pieces of music. The text of the last movement is a poem called The Heavenly Life from The Youth’s Magic Horn, a collection of German folk songs and poems. It’s a child’s view of heaven where food is abundant, and I’ll close with this. Here’s a link to the lyrics and an English translation. The recording of this movement was done in 1 take because the conductor, George Szell, thought Judith Raskin’s performance was perfection. It’s my favorite version of it. Joy be with you all.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Food Glorious Food

It’s the holidays so I’m feeling lazy. Here’s a post that was first published in 2018, then on Thanksgiving Eve in 2020. The you know who alluded to is, of course, the Impeached Insult Comedian, that’s who:

These are dark days because of you know who doing you know what. It calls for comic relief that has bupkis to do with politics. I went in search of comic relief and found some goofy food oriented album covers at a “food culture” web site, Ateriet. That’s right, the food fight theme kinda sorta continues.

Initially, I thought the covers would feature yogurt or cheese since culture was involved. Instead they involve canned goods, Hawaiian food, and a space age weenie roast. Two of the covers are from obscure to me artists and the last one is one of the worst covers from a major band that I can think of. It flat-out sucks.

We begin with a soupy cover from the jazz pianist Roy Meriwether. I’m not sure why the table is set with a knife and fork. I don’t know about you, but I usually eat soup with a spoon. Perhaps jazz soup is different somehow.

The minute I saw the Gerhard Polt album, I nearly did a spit take. It turns out that Herr Polt is a well-known Bavarian satirist, which means that my reaction to the cover was appropriate. I almost made a joke about not knowing that there were German satirists but thought better  of it. What’s funnier than a head on a plate of food, after all?

Finally, Live It Up by CSN. What can I say about this cover? It looks like the Krewe of Spank’s dirty weiner drop game. I bet it was David Crosby’s idea: he’s full of them and it.

Gohmert Gone To Texas

I’m not sure what Louie Gohmert Piles is praying about in the featured image. If I were the praying sort, I’d pray for the people of Texas. Gohmert is going home to run for Texas Attorney General on an anti-corruption platform. I am not making this up:

“A priority will be election integrity so that every legal vote counts. Though our current AG has had two terms — it seems he really started working harder after so many of his most honorable and very top people in the AG’s office left, complaining of criminal conduct. If you allow me, I will not wait to be my busiest until after some bad press about legal improprieties. I’ll start boldly protecting your rights on day one,” Gohmert said, listing priorities like “unconstitutional mandates,” “parental consent,” immigration at the southern border and voting laws.

It *is* true that Ken Paxton’s picture is in the dictionary next to corrupt piece of shit, but Gohmert Piles is a staunch defender of Matt Gaetz and the Impeached Insult Comedian. It doesn’t get more corrupt than that. Oh well, we in the Gret Stet of Louisiana are used to “conservative reformers.” That was how David Vitter styled himself, after all. That’s right, Diaper Dave called himself a reformer. No wonder I’m leery of that label.

It’s also odd that Gohmert is giving up a safe congressional seat when there’s a good chance that the GOP will take control of the House next year. Perhaps he resents no longer being the craziest House Republican: Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert make him look *almost* sane. He’s still the stupidest member of the House although Louisiana’s Clay Higgins is in contention as well.

As to his nickname, Louie Gohmert Piles, Michael F, Tommy T, and I have been calling him that or just plain Gohmert Pyle for at least a decade. I added the s because he always looks constipated or some such shit. Now that Gomer Pyle USMC is in reruns on Me TV maybe the kids will get the joke.

Here’s an image Michael F did in 2011 of Louie with Speaker Boner as Sgt. Carter:

One thing I learned in researching this piece is that Gohmert has a normal-seeming family and three attractive daughters. His middle child, Caroline, is a singer-songwriter who performs under the name BELLSAINT. She emphatically disagrees with his politics and publicly chided Louie Louie  for his COVID denialism when he came down with the virus. In 2019, she wrote a song called Much Like My Father:

The song begins with these lines:

“Everybody loves you/But there’s poison in the water / You get away with everything / Much like my father.”

A note about the post title. Gone to Texas or GTT was a phrase in vogue with 19th Century Texas emigrees. They were often folks with something to hide. Hell, even Sam Houston had a checkered past before he did the GTT thing.

If Gohmert Piles is elected Texas Attorney General, he won’t even be the dumbest AG on the Gulf Coast. That honor goes to Louisiana’s Jeff Landry who is as dumb as a bag of hammers and just as obnoxious as Louie Louie. Oh baby, me gotta go.

The last word goes to Caroline Gohmert d/b/a BELLSAINT. WFNEO is an acronym for We Fucking Need Each Other. Other than her dim old dad, who would argue that point?

Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black Friday)

Black Friday Sign

As we head into Thanksgiving I want to make something very clear:

I hate Black Friday.

I hate it the way you hate a former lover who you come to realize was just using you for one reason or another.

I hate it the way you hate that drunk uncle down at the end of the Thanksgiving table who keeps babbling about how “Trump was robbed”.

I hate it the way you can only hate something that you put up with for thirty plus years of retail life even though you hated it and thought it silly.

For the first part of my business career I was a retailer. I was a retailer because my family had been retailers. My father owned retail stores, my grandfather owned a retail store, I’m sure if I searched back far enough I’d find out my family tree is littered with pushcart peddlers peddling a plethora of profitable products particularly pots, pans, and pantaloons.

I get my alliteration gene from my ancestor Schmuel the schmaltzy schmoozing schmendrake.

The first time I heard the phrase Black Friday I was probably six or seven, visiting my father’s stationary store in Hempstead New York on the Friday after Thanksgiving which at the time was a day off only for students and teachers. Did I become aware of it from signs in the store advertising “Black Friday Sales”? Had I seen the phrase bandied about on television or radio? No, Black Friday was a inside joke, a knowing nod to how the rest of the year sales made accounted for our “nut”, the money you needed to earn just to keep the lights on, pay salaries, and give the government their cut. From the day after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve the money made was the retailer’s profit for the year. Thus, we were going into the black, money wise, hence Black Friday.

Somewhere along the line our little inside joke became a national holiday/mania. Traditions among families sprouted left and right. Mom and her daughters getting up at 4AM to be at the mall, credit cards clenched tightly in their fists, for the incredible bargains that had been hinted at but never advertised during the weeks leading up to the third Thursday in November. This allowed Dad and sons to not only indulge in tryptophan induced coma sleep but to, upon awakening, indulge in the traditional post Thanksgiving breakfast of mashed potatoes and dressing formed into thick pancake like discs and fried. Serve with a side of jellied cranberry sauce. Extra points if the can’s ridges are still visible in the jelly.

Fess up, you’ve made it, just admit it and move on.

I’m sure your family had it’s own traditions, even if it was just the tradition of laughing at the lines of people waiting to get into Best Buy as you drove home from dinner on Thursday. That was my family tradition.

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