Saturday Odds & Sods: Jacob Marley’s Chain

Jacob Marley’s Ghost by John Leech.

Things had slowed down in New Orleans on the COVID front, but it looks as if we’re about to be hit with another wave. I know of at least 10 people who have been exposed to the highly contagious Omicron variant. I’m glad the Carnival parading season is late this year. We may still be able to salvage it. Stay tuned.

This week’s seasonal theme song was written by Aimee Mann for her classic 1993 album, Whatever. It’s more of a Dickensian song than a holiday song, which is why I like it so much.

We have two versions of Jacob Marley’s Chains for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a live solo acoustic version with an amusing introduction by the songwriter.

We’ve all been foolish, but I for one have never been part of a chain-chain-chain of fools:

It’s time to stop fooling around and jump to the break.

I’m still feeling foolish:

We begin our second act in earnest by revisiting my Fox News Arsonists post, which inspired this exchange:

Oh, Tannenbaum, Fiery Fox Tannenbaum: The post referred to above was inspired by a column by New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait. In addition to discussing the hollow conical armature fire, Chait relates a story from his childhood about Jewish families in Detroit during the holidays. It’s good stuff. Click here to read it.

in my post, I also discussed Chris Wallace’s departure from Fox News. That inspired Slate’s Justin Peters to assess who the least despicable person at Fox is in the post Wallace era. He decided it was Geraldo Rivera. I’m inclined to agree, Geraldo deviates from the Fox News norm more than most. I’m old enough remember when he was a liberal who was Kurt Vonnegut’s son-in-law. So it goes.

The last word of the segment goes to The Hollies followed by Clarence Carter.

I’m on the record as not being a fan of many aspects of the holidays. I do, however, like the food.

Yam Yammerings: There’s a swell piece at The Ringer by Lex Pryor about the history of the tuber that some call yams and others sweet potatoes.

Maybe a child saw a sweet potato and was reminded of the food they once ate with their family. The only certainty is that “yam,” a term that was spawned as a tumor of European exploitation, spread from the tuber of West Africa to the sweet potato of the Americas in conjunction with the birth and expansion of the slave trade. And its usage continued long past enslavement for so many years and so many lives that Americans white and Black not only forgot where the word came from, but that it came from anywhere at all. The sweet potato was seen as plantation food until the early 20th century, when producers and advertisers looking for a leg up in a crowded marketplace pitched a new orange-hued genus to the entire country and branded it (once more) a yam. By midcentury, yams as we know them had become certified Americana.

Yumpin’ Yam Yiminy, I did not know that. I call them sweet potatoes because I don’t want to be confused with Popeye:

Let’s take a trip to Northern Ireland during The Troubles.

The Pride Of Belfast: The Irish like *real* country music. It’s rooted in celtic folk music so why the hell not.

During The Troubles few musicians were willing to play Belfast. They were afraid to get caught between the IRA and the Provos. The late, great Charley Pride was made of sterner stuff. He played Belfast for the first time in 1976, which made him a folk hero in Northern Ireland.

I had never heard of this piece of musical history until I read about it in The Guardian. Walker Mimms has the details.

Here’s a quote about the song that will close out our second act today:

Out of this Pride-o-mania emerged an anomaly in country music. His version of Crystal Chandeliers, a mid-tempo heartbreak shuffle written (as Crystal Chandelier) by Ted Harris and recorded by Pride in 1967, had never charted back home. Nearly a decade after its original release, it found new life as a Northern Irish unity anthem – echoing how the Northern Ireland civil rights movement of the 1960s borrowed the protest song We Shall Overcome and studied the marches of Martin Luther King.s

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth Casting Edition: I’m lazy when assembling this feature. I stumbled into this photo collage of actors who have played Winston Churchill so I went for it. I suspect that everyone knows what Churchill looks like even if he’s out of fashion in some quarters.

Albert Finney is my favorite of this group. What’s not to love about that stogie in his mouth? Many things, actually. I hate the smell of cigar smoke. It makes me run for the exit.

Speaking of cancer causing substances.

Coffin Nail Corner: Given what we know now, it’s strange that an athlete endorsed cigarettes. It’s even stranger that Jackie Robinson did so.

I guess that made Chesterfield feel all liberal and shit. The ads, of course, were targeted at the black community.

Saturday GIF Horse: Eddie Mekka who played Carmine Ragusa on Laverne & Shirley died recently at the age of 69. I could only find a blurry GIF of the Big Ragoo in action but I found some swell ones of his cast mates.

The Teevee List: We’re moving to the world of television this week. The most important thing about a sitcom is that is should be funny. All of the shows on the list have made me do the odd spit take over the years. Funny is funny.

My Top Twenty Favorite American Sitcoms

  1.       The Dick Van Dyke Show
  2.       All In The Family
  3.       M*A*S*H
  4.      Cheers
  5.      Frasier
  6.     The Odd Couple
  7.     Veep
  8.     30 Rock
  9.     The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  10.     Taxi
  11.     The Bob Newhart Show/Newhart
  12.     The Goldbergs
  13.     Seinfeld 
  14.     Laverne & Shirley
  15.     I Love Lucy
  16.     Barney Miller
  17.     Curb Your Enthusiasm
  18.     WKRP In Cincinnati 
  19.     News Radio
  20.     Scrubs

The last two shows are real sleepers that never put me to sleep. I haven’t seen News Radio on any streaming services yet but I’d love to see it again. It was where one of my favorite character actors, Stephen Root, came to my attention.

I skipped animated shows such as The Simpsons and King Of The Hill. It was hard enough to restrict the list to 20. Sorry, Homer. Sorry, Hank.

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

Saturday Classic: We conclude with Aimee Mann’s 2006 album of holiday songs. She’s one liberal who’s not fighting the war on Christmas. Of course, that’s not a thing except on the far right. Bah humbug.

That’s it for this week. The last word goes to Mary Tyler Moore and Carl Reiner in the classic Dick Van Dyke Show episode, Coast To Coast Big Mouth.

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