What was once ordinary has become exotic since the lockdown. That’s a fancy way of saying that I went to see a movie in a theatre for the first time in 2 1/2 years. I used to go at least once a week, but audience rudeness was getting to me before this long break. It happened again. There was a guy looking at his phone during the movie. He was out of my sightline, so I chose to ignore it.
This week’s theme song was written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter for Grateful Dead’s 1970 American Beauty album. It was the first fully realized Dead studio album; full of songs that were expanded upon in concert over the years.
We have three versions of Brokedown Palace for your listening pleasure: the studio original, Joan Osborne, and a swell acapella rendition by The Persuasions.
I saw The Persuasions open for the Dead once. I hadn’t heard of this album until I went searching for versions of the theme song. Then I brokedown and posted it…
We begin our second act with a swell story from Slate about a scam that grew like kudzu.
The Great Flag Scam: When Robert Heft was 17 years-old he made a flag. The nation was expanding from 48 to 50 states meaning that Old Glory needed to become more glorious. At first Heft did NOT claim to be the designer of the 50-star flag but the legend grew, and he stopped denying the story.
Maybe Heft was trying to get into heaven. I guess he never heard this song:
Stranger Things: We finally finished season 4 of Stranger Things. I have mixed feelings about the show. It’s gotten repetitive and formulaic. It’s still well done, and I like Dustin, Lucas, Max, and Steve Awesome Hair but it felt more like work than pleasure watching it.
The Atlantic’s Sarah Gilbert captured my feelings about the show in a piece about season 4: Stranger Things Isn’t TV. It’s Something Else.
Here’s the money quote:
But more recently, Stranger Things has been studded with more specific instances of human cruelty, which are jarring in their own way. This isn’t a bad thing by default, but it darkens the tone and makes, say, the ludicrous “comedy” of Yuri, the Russian peanut-butter smuggler, much harder to swallow. Even Eleven is implicated. For all of Millie Bobby Brown’s best efforts, El is a Frankensteined collection of tropes—child with otherworldly powers, love interest, redemptive daughter figure—smushed into the shape of a girl. She has very little texture of her own, even a limited ability to communicate what she’s feeling. Her anger has always been the most interesting thing about her.
Therein lies the rub. El is a cipher. Only interesting for her powers. And the Russia story can fuck off. Oy just oy.
The last word of our second act goes to a song that’s become a hit again thanks to Stranger Things, strangely enough:
We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth Casting Edition: Queen Victoria was a fascinating figure. She was a constitutional monarch who respected democratic norms, but still wielded considerable power and influence.
During her reign, her family tree spread across the continent. At the start of the Great War cousins Kaiser Wilhem, Tsar Nicholas, and King George initially thought they could stop the madness. They could not.
Judy Dench is my favorite Victoria in this group. What happened to Jenna Coleman? She’s great as are Rufus Sewell and Alex Jennings in the more recent Victoria series from the BBC.
This is my favorite song about Victoria Regina:
The Movie List: Dr. A and I watched I Want To Live with Susan Hayward last weekend. It inspired this list of movies mostly set in the big house. I use Spike Lee’s term joint again because the HBO series Oz is top of the penal pops. POW movies are not included: I consider them a separate genre.
My Top Ten Favorite Prison Joints
- Brute Force
- The Shawshank Redemption
- I Want To Live
- Riot In Cell Block 11
- Birdman Of Alcatraz
- Escape From Alcatraz
- Papillon (1973)
- Cool Hand Luke
- I Was A Fugitive From A Chain Gang
Stripes or orange jump suits? I prefer the former. We wore them in Krewe du Vieux in 2007. Here’s Ashley Morris strutting his stuff after the parade:
The last word of the segment goes to Squeeze:
It’s time for those Canadian zanies at SCTV.
The Best Of SCTV: Golly, Wally. It’s John Candy as the Beaver.
I always suspected that Hugh Beaumont was a drinker. He made some fine films but is best known for playing the Beaver’s dad. Poor dude.
Saturday GIF Horse: I dreamt about the old Danny Kaye movie The Court Jester the other day. Hence these GIFs.
Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.
Saturday Classic: Yeah, I know it’s only 9 years old, but the Dead are classic as is Joan Osborne. She’s one of the best interpreters of their songs as she proved during her time with the post-Grateful Dead band The Dead.
There’s a gap in the sound during New Speedway Boogie. Perhaps the Hell Angels wanted to silence the Dead’s song about Altamont.
That’s all for this week. The last word goes to the missing Victoria, Jenna Coleman with Rufus Sewell as her favorite PM, Lord Melbourne.