Category Archives: Comedy

Saturday Odds & Sods: Fate’s Right Hand

Reply To Red by Yves Tanguy.

Spring is prime time for crawfish boils or as the natives say, berls. We’ve been to two in the last three weeks. The first one involved some of the usual suspects and nothing unusual happened other than a five-year-old girl pointing at the sacks of live crawfish and asking, “When will they be dead?” That’s a sassy Louisiana child, y’all. It’s one reason why her mama nicknamed her the Benevolent Dictator. I’m not so sure about the first bit though…

Something quite eventful happened last weekend at the second shebang. The berl was thrown (not by Milton Berle or Burl Ives) by one of Dr. A’s first year medical students. He’s an older student who was a helicopter pilot in the Army and is still a reservist. That’s one reason he lives at Jackson Barracks near Arabi, Louisiana. That’s right, it was an Arabi spring crawfish berl…

When I first heard our host’s name, I remarked that it was the same name as the man who sold us our house after renovating it in 2000. It’s a fairly common name so we agreed it was unlikely that her student was a Junior. Guess what? It’s a small fucking world after all. Our host’s father had indeed renovated Adrastos World HQ and Dr. A’s student had worked on the project. The latter was somewhat freaked out by the string of coincidences but I told him not to sweat it because it made him de facto teacher’s pet. Besides, the man knows how to boil crawfish. It’s an indispensable skill as far as I’m concerned.

This week’s theme song is the title track of Rodney Crowell’s 2003 album, Fate’s Right Hand. It seems that one of his daughters didn’t care for the song at the time. Somewhere in my archives I have a circa 2004 Crowell concert at which he introduced Fate’s Right Hand  more or less as follows:

“My daughter hates this song. She told me it’s undignified for me to talk about poontang and the narrator of the song having a pole in his pants. I told her that I’m a country singer and her mother and grandfather are both country singers. We’re not dignified people.  She reminded me that Grandpa Johnny was the most dignified person she knew. I couldn’t argue that point so I changed the subject.”

Fate’s Right Hand is a list song. The most famous list song I can think of is Irving Berlin’s You’re The Top. Another list song classic is REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine.) I don’t feel like listing list songs so here’s Fate’s Right Hand:

Rodney is fond of list songs. He wrote one about greedy yuppies for his 2005 album, The Outsider complete with the refrain: give it to me, give it to me. I will comply:

Give it to me, give it to me. You may not be as demanding as the coked-out greed head in the song but let’s take a break anyway. Give it to me, give it to me.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding

Banjo and Glasses by Juan Gris.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. I’m not religious but I was raised Greek Orthodox. This year Greek Easter is the same day as what my most pious relative calls “American Easter.” My memories of Easter revolve around food: leg of lamb was always the main course at our house. I may not celebrate the holiday but I wish those of you who do well.

In Easter related news, it looks as if Team Trump is screwing up the annual White House Easter egg roll. It’s typically an East Wing thing but Melania lives in Manhattan and nobody else seems to be in charge. Holy symbolic ineptitude, Batman. I hear Harvey and Bugs Bunny are organizing a protest…

This week’s theme song is Nick Lowe’s best known and loved song, (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding. Nick himself is not madly in love with his most famous song:

“Everyone seems to know it. But it’s never been a hit, a hit song so to speak, on the charts,” says Lowe, reflecting on the song’s legacy. “It is really strange — and I don’t want to sound too, kinda, ‘wet’ — ‘cause when I hear it, it doesn’t really sort of sound like my song any more. I don’t feel hugely possessive about it.”

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“The song had a rather humorous birth,” he says. “It was written, initially, from the point of view of an old hippie who was still sticking to his guns and seeing his kind of followers all suddenly wearing pointy-toed shoes and drinking cocktails. … It’s like they had come to their senses, rediscovered alcohol and cocaine. … They were rather embarrassed that they’d ever been hippies … and thought the hippie thing rather funny.

“And he’s saying to them: ‘Well, you all think I’m an idiot. You’re sniggering now. But all I’m saying — and you can’t argue with this — is what’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?’”

I’m presenting three versions for your amusement. First, the 1974 original recorded with the pub-rock band, Brinsley Schwarz. Then the Elvis Costello rendition that put the tune on the map; it was produced by Nick. Finally, the way I like it best: a solo acoustic version by the songwriter himself.

One thing that *is* funny about Nick Lowe is that his hair is still awesome. I should hate him for that but I’m trying to be a bigger man. I am, however, fuming over the injustice of it all right now. It’s best to insert a break at this point while I take a deep breath.

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Sunday Morning Video: A Tribute To Don Rickles

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard that comedy legend Don Rickles died at the age of 90. Rickles was a genuine insult comedian with a rapid fire Borscht Belt delivery. I saw Mr. Warmth live once in Vegas, baby. He even called me a hockey puck. It was an honor.

Here are a few clips in tribute to a man with a face made for radio. We begin with an appearance on Dick Cavett’s ABC Show:

Rickles was at his best with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show:

In this clip Rickles drops in on Frank and Johnny:

Rickles always made me laugh even when he was the voice of Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story. He will be missed.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Disturbance At The Heron House

Elijah and the Ravens by Ralph Chessé, 1945.

Winter played a fleeting return engagement in New Orleans this week. Unlike the Mid-March blizzard in the Northeast, it wasn’t anything to write home about but we ran the heater and shivered a bit. I’m not a fan of the new practice of naming winter storms even if the first one is named after a famous theatrical character, STELLA. Unless, that is, it’s named for the Hunter-Garcia ballad Stella Blue. The mere thought of a blizzard makes me blue so that could be it.

It may have been chilly of late but Spring allergy season is upon us with a vengeance. I have a mild case of red-eye but I’m used to that. A worse pestilence is this year’s flea crop. We haven’t had a hard freeze for several years so the nasty little buggers are dining on Oscar and Della Street. All we can do is treat the house, medicate the cats, and hope for the best. The idea of putting a flea collar on Della is particularly unappealing. She’s been known to draw blood so I’ll pass. Chomp.

This week’s theme song comes from R.E.M.’s classic 1987 Document album; more on the album anon. It’s my favorite record in their catalog and Disturbance At The Heron House is the kat’s meow. The lyrics were inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which is another reason I like it so much.

Here are two versions. The original studio track and one from R.E.M.’s appearance on MTV Unplugged. The second video has Radio Song as lagniappe.

The “followers of chaos out of control” indeed. In fact, they can follow me to the other side after the break. I hope it’s sufficiently chaotic.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Top Of The Pops

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

It’s time for the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day parade later today. This year’s route is so long that it should be renamed the Uptown/Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day. We’re fleeing to our friends Greg and Christy’s annual shindig, which puts the bang in shebang or some such shit. And I know the parade isn’t happening on the day itself. This is New Orleans, we do things our own way. Y’all should know that by now. There will, however, be drinking involved. We’re not that bloody different: walk me out in the Tullamore morning dew…

The big local story is that the Fifth Circuit has lifted an injunction against removing the white surpremacist monuments. They’ll be gone pecans soon enough. The erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer has been relatively silent this time around. He’s too busy fluffing Trump on Twitter to get worked up about it. For now. I guess that makes him a fluffer nutter. I hereby apologize to others out there who love marshmallow fluff, which recently celebrated a somewhat sticky centennial.

This week’s theme songs qualify as benign earworms. My mind keeps drifting back in their direction, which is why I’m taking you to the top, top, Top of the Pops.

We’re going in reverse chronological order with the 1991 Smithereens tune first. The video was filmed in Atlantic City. I looked for Chalky White but didn’t see him.

This week we’re back in same title, different song territory with the Kinks who were the band that most influenced the Reens. I’ve always preferred this loose live version of Top of the Pops to the more buttoned down studio track:

Now that I’ve rocked your world, it’s time to insert the break. This post grew like Cat’s Claw vines on an abandoned shotgun double so one is in order. See you on the other side.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Forecast (Calls For Pain)

Rockwell

The Problem We All Face by Norman Rockwell.

We’re back on the weather roller coaster in New Orleans. One day it’s unseasonably warm, the next it’s colder than average. It’s almost as crazy as the Current Occupant of the White House. Did you see that insane press conference by the least racist and anti-Semitic person ever? In response to the crazy, I tweeted this:

I hope all the Busters and Steiners are happy right now. They insisted that there was no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They were wrong. She’s sane.

Did y’all see the cartoon that was based on the Norman Rockwell painting that’s this week’s featured image? Here it is on the Tweeter Tube. I refuse to upload it:

That’s right, folks, Cartoonist Glenn (Not The Real) McCoy compared billionaire dilettante Betsy DeVos to NOLA’s own Ruby Bridges That’s preposterous and typical of the whiny titty babies on the Right in 2017.

Btw, BuzzFeed: You got something wrong.

On Sunday, the Belleville News-Democrat published this cartoon by Glenn McCoy. It appears to equate Betsy DeVos, Trump’s controversial pick for secretary of education, with Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white school in the South.

Ruby Bridges *was* the first black student to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. She was not the first overall: that honor belonged to the Little Rock Nine in 1957. The last I heard New Orleans was in the South. Y’all should spend less time cutting and pasting tweets and more time on research.

This week’s theme song fits both my mood and the temper of the times. The Forecast (Calls For Pain) comes from Robert Cray’s brilliant 1990 album Midnight Stroll:

It’s time to take a midnight stroll to the break. The forecast is for more mirth than pain on the other side.

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Crass Menagerie

Crass Menagerie

Krewe du Vieux rolled on Saturday night. It was a blast to march through the streets of the Marigny, Quarter, and CDB. I did my share of spanking and handing out throws. The Krewe of Spank’s theme was strictly local as you’ll see below but several Krewes did Trumpian themes. Below are two of the better efforts.

First, the Krewe of Mishigas with a sci-fi twist:

Mishigas 2017

That’s right, it’s Jabba the Trump.

Second, the Krewe of KAOS. Their marchers dressed as droogs, which was simultaneously brilliant and simple.

Kaos 2017

The first set of photos were taken by my old friend Brian. He also captured us Spanksters as we milled about whilst stalled. I’m not in the picture but Dr. A is:

Spanksters 2017

Spank has always done local satire. This year’s theme took a poke at JazzFest. We’ll begin with two views of the float taken by my pal, Christy Boom Boom Brackenberg:

Spank Float 2017

Spank 2017

Dig that crazy Spank-o-vision, y’all.

One of our throws was a sensation and still has the twittering classes abuzz. It’s a two-sided post card-sized parody of the JazzFest schedule cubes:

Cubes front

Cubes 2017

The cubes are, of course, loaded with fictional and wildly inappropriate acts.

A few quick notes:

Krewe du Vieux is *always* cold except for 2017. It was in the mid-70’s, which meant it was hotter than hell as we marched in our costumes. It was unnatural. We’re supposed to shiver, not sweat.

There are people in Krewe du Vieux who didn’t get the Glass Menagerie pun. The Glorious Bird weeps.

The crowd was huge and better behaved in the Quarter than in past years. Of course, it helps when you’re wielding one of these:

Paddles

And yes, people want to be spanked on the parade route. I don’t have any pictures of me doing so, all I have for you is this tweet:

Carnival is hard work. And there’s more to come. Let’s close with some seasonal music:

Tweet Of The Day: Introducing Rosie O’Bannon

I don’t usually spotlight one of my own tweets in this feature, but this one is different. Why? Cos I said so. Actually, it’s because I had a casting suggestion for SNL *before* things started to happen in what we laughingly call real life.  It’s not exactly my tweet, a friend quoted my FB thingee on the tweeter tube. It’s a crazy old virtual world:

Sometimes life imitates social media, a scary thought innit?

With Melissa McCarthy nailing her surprise gig as White House spokesperson Sean Spicer last weekend and Alec Baldwin killing it on the reg as President Trump, Rosie O’Donnell has volunteered to take on the role of Trump’s mysterious chief strategist Steve Bannon if Saturday Night Live is interested.

The comedian and frequent target of ridicule by Trump before he graduated from reality show host to leader of the free world, tweeted out the offer after a Twitter user noted that since the notoriously easy-to-rile commander in chief was, according to a Politico report “rattled” that Spicer was portrayed by a woman on the show’s most recent episode. So… maybe Rosie should “take one for the team?”

I wish I could claim it was my tweet by proxy (Lexy?) that Rosie saw. If I were a Trumper, I’d take credit but I’m not, so I won’t. Repeat after me: you don’t defeat lies with more lies. You defeat it with the truth. In this instance, it was great minds thinking alike or something equally banal.

The fact that the Gum Chewer is in deep shit with the Insult Comedian because a woman played him on SNL is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. Throwing the woman he loves to hate in his face will drive Trump bat shit crazier. Remember: he ranted about Rosie in the first debate. I assumed shit like that would lose him the election. I was only half right. Damn you, electoral college.

In the spirit of driving Trump around the twist, here’s Rosie’s Newsweek cover back when it really meant something:

rosie newsweek

That’s right, Rosie’s shtick in the late ’90’s was niceness in contrast to bad hombres Geraldo and Jerry Springer. Rosie clearly did NOT clean up trash teevee. If she had, Trump wouldn’t have gotten a show and he wouldn’t be the whiner-in-chief today. And nobody ever called him nice other than one of his yes men. He’s a nasty, nasty man. Believe me.

I hope SNL takes Rosie up on her offer to play the Prince of B3 Darkness. She’s got the hair for the job. All they have to do is make her look like an unkempt college professor, Bannon-style. If she wears a brown suit and jackboots, she’ll be perfect. It’s irrelevant as to whether Rosie O’Bannon will be as funny as Melissa Spicer. What matters is sending Trump a one-way ticket to what my late father called “the laughing academy.” I can be as politically incorrect as the next guy for a good cause.

Writing this post has given me a benign earworm. Over The Edge is a Ray Davies song about lunacy. A sample lyric will suffice:

My next door neighbour’s totally snapped
He’s gone over the edge
He’s putting up barbed wire barricades
Around the garden hedge
And planting land mines on the lawn
He’s gone barmy
According to his wife, he’s formed a secret army
Ever since he got laid off
Something inside snapped
His wife says he’s gone ’round the twist
Now there’s no turning back
All night he waits in the garden shed
For the enemy to attack
A suburban vigilante
Dressed up in a union jack
He’s over the edge
Yeah, I know that was a long sample but what can I say? Here’s the song itself:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Brain Guy

We need all the comic relief we can get during the winter of our political discontent:

lion_39

This book title also reminded me of the Brain Guy played by Bill Corbett on MST3K:

 

Mary Tyler Moore, R.I.P.

This morning I made fun of the word “iconic.” It’s overused but it actually applies to the great Mary Tyler Moore who died today at the age of 80. It’s hard to believe she was that old: she’ll always be the gorgeous Laura Petrie and the spunky Mary Richards to me.

MTM was the star of two ground breaking sitcoms as well as my first crush. I grew up watching re-runs of the Dick Van Dyke Show and the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Who among us will ever forget how she tossed her hat in the air at the beginning of her classic eponymous teevee show?

I searched the interwebs for my favorite episodes of MTM’s two great series. I was only able to find a clip of Coast to Coast Loudmouth but it’s streaming on Netflix. Mary’s character let it slip on live teevee that Alan Brady (Carl Reiner) was as bald as a cueball.  Furious hilarity ensued. Here’s her apology to Alan and his boys:

I was surprised that full episodes of her 1970’s show are on YouTube. I’m not sure how long this will last but Chuckles Bites The Dust is one of the funniest 25 minutes in teevee history. See Mary lose it at the funeral of Chuckles the clown:

Mary Moore lived a long and productive life. She will be missed. But we’ll always have this indelible image seared on our collective consciousness:

620-best-television-comedy-tv-show-ever-mary-tyler-moore-imgcache-rev1352136697753

 

Deep Thought

The fate of Western liberal democracy is primarily in the hands of a conservative German Chancellor who was born in communist East Germany.

One more deep thought. Tracey Ullman’s Angela Merkel is much better than Kate McKinnon’s:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Merry Stoogemas

I’m not exactly a chirpy holiday chap to begin with but this year I’m so not into it. I had a choice between going Scrooge or Stooge with this feature today. I chose the latter: the Insult Comedian’s electoral college win is a poke in the eye, after all.

The Stooges released their share of of slapsticky holiday albums and 78s over the years. I wonder if Moe ever twisted Santa’s beard? Ah, sweet mysteries of stoogey life.

Three Stooges Xmas

stoogesstoogey-78

559-3stooges

Here are some stills of the boys as the original Bad Santas. The first one includes my favorite Stooge: Shemp. Any other Shempers out there? Or is that Shempites?

Shempmas

31728724066_e88c46b4d2

Let’s conclude this Stoogemas post with some “musical” selections. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Saturday Odds & Sods: End Of The World

 

wyatt-6

Sideshow banner by Snap Wyatt.

We’re riding a weather roller coaster here in New Orleans. I hate roller coasters and prefer consistent weather as long as it’s vaguely wintery be it Johnny or Edgar…

I’m still fighting a cold so this will be on the short side. I know, famous last words and all that shit.

I’m not feeling apocalyptic but many people are. I cannot blame them. It’s hard to be a glass half-full person right now and this week’s theme song reflects that. End Of The World was written by John Wetton and Geoff Downes for Asia’s 2010 Omega album. The melody is a bit too gorgeous for a truly apocalyptic feel but that’s what they do.

While we’re ending the world, we might as well give a certain REM tune with a very long title a spin:

If you’re feeling apocalyptic now, you might want to be patient. It’s bound to take longer than expected. Everything does.

Don’t worry. We’ll still be waiting after the break. The world isn’t going anywhere for the time being.

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Oy, Such A Force

May the Schwartz Be With You.

Oy, such Spaceballs nuttiness.

I’ve been walking the anti-Semitism beat all year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the revival of open anti-Semitism is one of the most alarming things about the so-called Trump movement. This Thirties revival, if you will, has inspired the silly along with the sinister:

White supremacists are calling for a boycott of the latest “Star Wars” movie as evidence of a Jewish plot to foist racial diversity on whites, even as some on the “alt-right” say they watch the film and root for the evil Empire.

“(((Star Wars))) Is Anti-White Social Engineering,” a Reddit user named GenFrancoPepe posted in a forum for the “alt-right,” a hard-line white nationalist movement. The triple parenthesis, known as an “echo,” is a way anti-Semites online call attention to Jewish names or perceived Jewish influence.

The evidence: “Alt-right” writers point out the multiracial makeup of the stars in the new film, the female starring role, and that Jewish producers and writers were involved. Criticism of the film evokes one of the central tropes of modern anti-Semitism, envisioning a Jewish cabal promoting multiculturalism to suit its own nefarious goals — at the expense of an embattled “white civilization.”

One writer at the neo-Nazi site Infostormer called “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” slated to be released this month, a product of “anti-white hate” produced by Jews. “Nearly all of the major characters are non-Whites and the main character is an empowered White female,” the post reads. “This film should be boycotted.”

Is there a Jewish influence on the series? Yes. Is it sinister? No. Is it a plot? No, as pointed out in an earlier piece at Forward by Seth Rogovoy:

You don’t have to be a linguist to figure out that the Jedi knights, who use “the Force” – the spiritual power of good deeds, aka the mitzvot — to do good in their battle with the “Dark Side” – the yetzer hara, or the evil urge within us all – bear the Anglicized name of a Jew. In other words, jedi = yehudi = Jew. And the name of the wise old man Yoda, who passed away at the very Biblical age of 900 in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi” and who was voiced by Jewish actor-director Frank Oz, translates as “one who knows” in Hebrew.

Philologists have argued, on the other hand, about just what the very Hebrew-looking writing on Darth Vader’s breastplate says. It’s been surmised to be upside-down Hebrew that translates as “One shall be regarded innocent until he is proven guilty,” which of course fits the character of Vader and his true identity.

None of this was lost on filmmaker Mel Brooks, whose 1987 “Star Wars” parody “Spaceballs” relied on Brooks’s usual Yiddish-shtick humor, including the catchphrase, “May the Schwartz be with you.”

Mel Brooks is always there with the joke first. I guess that makes him one of the main conspirators in the alt-right’s Protocols of the Elders of Star Wars world view. I wonder if the farting scene in Blazing Saddles has a deeper meaning? Conspiracy theories and theorists are hot in Wingnuttia right now. Another alarming thing about Donald Trump is his love of conspiracy theories, the nuttier the better, such as birtherism. The MSM may have moved on from that but I have not. As far as I’m concerned the Insult Comedian will always be the birther-in-chief as well as the pussy-grabber-in-chief.

As funny as conspiracy theories cooked up by the Reddit Right and Alex Jones are, they can be lethal when paired with an unhinged mind as in the recent “Pizzagate” shootings at Washington City. Some ideas *can* be dangerous and must be fought with the facts. There is no child sex ring linked to Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. A variation on that bizarre claim even showed up in the creepier sectors of the hard left during the primary campaign.

The far right and left have always had more similarities than people on our side of the spectrum are willing to admit. It’s why so many hardcore lefties have moved to the far right over the years: notorious Islamophobe David Horowitz is a relatively recent example, but it’s an old story. The 1950’s red scare was partially fueled by Communists turned McCarthyites. So it goes.

Speaking of the neo-Nazi far right, there was firestorm of controversy this week in response to an Atlantic article, Are Jews White? The erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer, of course, chimed in:

Humor is the best way to attack Dukkke’s nonsense and here’s the best example I’ve seen:

Oy, such logic. It’s hard to beat, right? I know more than a few Jewish Deadheads and prog-rock fans as well. What’s whiter than British prog rock? Perhaps I’ve Seen All Good People is a plot against the white race by self-loathing honkies. Let’s see:

I am obviously an exponent of using humor to combat bigotry.Ridicule has long been an effective weapon against hatred and intolerance. And I’m not going to abandon it just because an Insult Comedian won the electoral college in 2016. Trump’s reaction to satire shows how effective it is. He keeps slamming Alec Baldwin’s bang-on impression of him. It’s not how it’s supposed to work: Presidents get mocked and even the humor-impaired Tricky Dick was able to publicly take a joke. I don’t think Trump will ever learn to take a joke. It’s what happens when you are one.

It’s time to conclude this rambling essay and give the penultimate word to Mel Brooks as Yogurt:

Oy, such a schwartz. Oy, such a farce. Oy such a force. Oy, just oy.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Liar

It’s been another weird week in New Orleans. The weather has been yo-yo-ing to and fro. We reluctantly ran the AC on a particularly steamy day and we’re back to the heater right now. The kitties, of course, prefer the latter. So it goes.

There was a lethal shooting last weekend on Bourbon Street. It doesn’t happen that often but when it does the media, city government, and tourism establishment lose their collective minds. This time there are suggestions of metal detectors and limited access. That’s typical NOLA think: propose something that would be simultaneously costly and unenforceable. We live in a country and a state with an armed population and when you add booze and crowds to the mix, violence is not surprising. It’s difficult to prevent an asshole with a concealed weapon from discharging it. That may sound cold and harsh but “to live in this town, you must be tough, tough, tough, tough.” Thus spake Jagger and Richards. She-doo-be.

The mendacity theme here at First Draft continues with this week’s theme songs. That’s right, my obsession with different songs with the same title continues. We begin with Todd Rundgren’s 2004 tune Liar. It’s followed in quick succession by Queen, the Sex Pistols, Argent, and, of all people, Three Dog Night who covered the Argent tune.

I had no idea there were so many songs with liar in the title and that’s the truth. There will be more prevarication after the break, but first I need to find that lying sack of shit that we’ve heard so much about over the years.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Just One Victory

FDR-LEHMAN

1932 New York  poster in support of Democrats Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Lehman.

We begin this week’s misadventure with a New Orleans weather report: we just experienced the warmest October in recorded history. And it’s still too bloody, buggery, bollocky hot. It’s making me hot under the blue-collar or white-collar for that matter. Rumor has it that a cool front is on the way. Let’s hope so: I am ready to turn the AC off.

Election Day looms and Clinton supporters are as nervous as that proverbial long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I’m uncertain of the origin of that countrified terms but I’ve always liked it. I thought we needed some rural contrast to the urban 1932 campaign poster that’s this week’s featured image. FYI: Lehman was running to succeed FDR as Governor.

A quick reminder: if our people vote we will spare the country the awful prospect of a Trump Presidency. Let’s not go from hope to grope, y’all. Just as important is electing a Democratic Senate. The GOP is vowing unprecedented obstruction and the first woman President needs a Senate that has her back even if the FBI is trying to stab her in it. Comey PAC will have to be dealt with later. End of yet another pep talk.

This week’s theme song is one of Todd Rundgren’s most anthemic tunes, Just One Victory. It first appeared on Todd’s modestly titled 1973 LP A Wizard, A True Star. It has long been a staple of his live shows, frequently as a set closer or encore. I’m posting it this week to inspire the First Draft base or some such shit. We begin with the original version complete with onscreen lyrics:

The next number is a bit of a cheat. It comes from a 1981 Utopia show wherein the boys in the band all wore camouflage before it was trendy. Todd always gets there before the rest of us. Holy avant-garde, Batman.

The aforementioned cheat is that it’s a medley of the theme song with one of Todd’s loveliest mid-tempo ballads, Love Is The Answer. What better antidote to Trumpism than love lovely love? You’ll have to click on the YouTube icon and watch it there for copyright reasons. It’s no big whoop.

I’m keeping things relatively brief this week. I know: famous last words but I mean it. We’re going to dispense with the break and dive right in. I’m not sure if we’ll be in the deep or shallow end. I’ll let you decide.

Our first segment is one of the best things I’ve read about the Trump phenomenon from a literary and cultural perspective. Yeah, I know: the Insult Comedian doesn’t read books but Slate’s Rebecca Onion does.

Bad Boys: In an article entitled No Girls Allowed Ms. Onion posits, as explained by the sub-header, that “America’s persistent preference for brash boys over “sivilizing” women fuelled the candidacy of Donald Trump.” That’s a mouthful but Onion delivers on her promise. In short, it’s a properly caramelized onion, not a raw one. Tic-Tacs are not necessary.

The Insult Comedian may not recognize the names Natty Bumppo or Huck Finn but he’s the latest in a long line of bad, bad boys that for good or ill have influenced our culture. Here are some excerpts from Onion’s eye wateringly brilliant piece:

Donald Trump is a baby; a child. Like a child, he whines, seeks attention, and throws tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants. It’s appropriate that the Access Hollywood tape takes place on a bus, since it captures Trump and Billy Bush acting like pubescent boys making their way to the seventh grade. Addressing her husband’s comments on that tape in a recent interview, Melania Trump dismissed the Trump-Bush conversation as “boy talk.” She joked that she sometimes feels like she has two children at home: Barron, age 10, and her husband, age 70.

<SNIP>

The belief in the incompatibility of violent, honest, and vigorous manhood, which is at its purist form in boyhood, with mannerly, educated, well-governed civilization is threaded through our cultural history. James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales, published between 1823 and 1841, were among the first popular American novels. The Tales star Natty Bumppo, a man raised by Delaware Indians who chooses to live forever outside of civilized society—a boy for life. Bumppo straddles the boundary between white (civilized, in Cooper’s cosmology) and Native (free and vital, but “savage” and doomed). Despite his rough edges, Bumppo is well-educated and intelligent, but he can never marry, settle down, and have a family; he must continually flee west, looking for a place where progress has not yet reached.

<SNIP>

Trump represents himself as one of the only people in American politics who has been able to retain this uncommitted, honest [boyish] quality. Think of him on Howard Stern’s radio show, casually judging women’s bodies, or his inability—his unwillingness—to stay on message, routinely defying even the rules his own advisers try to impose to keep his campaign on course; he is not prisoner to his consciousness, or anyone’s. The candidate’s outspokenness is precious to his supporters, who see it as trustworthiness; as one, interviewed by CBS in September, explained, Trump “says the things that need to be said … about the truth that nobody else says.”

Talk about style over substance. What the Insult Comedian does is lie while sounding blunt and candid. Repeat after me: he’s a flim-flam man.

Onion’s tour de force looks at Emerson, Twain, Kerouac, Playboy Magazine, and movies such as Rebel Without A Cause and The Wild One. In that famous biker flick, a townie asks Marlon Brando’s character, “What are you rebelling against?” His response:

Brando Wild One

Heaven help us if the baddest bad boy of them all becomes President in 2017. Even fellow bad boy Howard Stern takes a dim view of that prospect. He’s supporting Hillz.

Before moving on to the next segment, a brief musical interlude:

Pop-Culture Conspiracy Theories: New York Magazine has been on a roll this year as has its pop-culture site, Vulture. There’s a fabulous piece there by Adam Raymond:  The 70 Greatest Conspiracy Theories in Pop-Culture History. It’s a multi-generational mega-list that’s well worth your time. I was familiar with many of them (Macca is dead, woo) and unfamiliar with others. This is perhaps the most far-fetched of all:

John Lennon, killed by Stephen King

Or maybe Chapman was a “paid patsy,” hired to take the fall for Lennon’s real murderer — Stephen King. That’s the argument made on LennonMurderTruth.com by a man who says Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and King conspired to kill the peace-loving rock legend. The evidence is in “government codes” printed in newspapers and magazines. The famous photo showing Lennon signing an album with Chapman lurking on the edge of the frame actually shows King. But why would King do it? Steve Lightfoot, the mastermind of this theory doesn’t seem to have an answer for that. But as his van says, “It’s true, or he’d sue.”

I did not know that. I do know that people can convince themselves of almost anything. The need to explain the inexplicable is part of the human genome. That’s a fancy way of saying that paranoia has always been with us. It has even inspired a few hit songs FWIW:

Let’s move from the convoluted to the earthy. Literally, not figuratively, as Joey the Shark would surely say at this point.

Dig This Story: I’m on the record as a fan of CBS Sunday Morning. I really dig it, especially this story by Mark Strassman about Everard Hall of Milbridge, Maine who has been digging graves for 49 years.

I really dig Mainers. And no Stephen King did NOT kill John Lennon. Everybody knows that Holden Caulfield did it…

It’s time to move on and dig a different kind of Graves.

Nick Nolte As Graves: I’ve always been a big fan of Nick Nolte. He’s a tremendous actor who kicked around the bush leagues for many years before making it big. In fact, my favorite cousin, Tina, acted with him in little theatre productions in Phoenix, Arizona long before it became a swing state. She liked him. Of course, she likes everyone, even me.

Anyway, America’s favorite gravel voiced leathery-skinned actor is back in a new comedy series on EPIX, Graves. I didn’t even know I had this cable channel but I’m glad I do. I really dig Graves.

Nolte plays former President Richard Graves, a conservative icon. A pundit dubbed him the “worst President ever,” so he reassesses his legacy and moves left. Hilarity ensues.

Nolte is fabulous as is Sela Ward as the former FLOTUS and family voice of reason.

Dig this trailer:

If you get a chance to see Graves, please do so. You’ll laugh your ass off.  Figuratively, not literally. It’s even inspired me to revive my Nick Nolte impression. I will do it at the drop of a hat. Dr. A urges you to keep your hat on your head…

Let’s move from the ridiculous to the sublime. It’s time to play in Traffic.

Saturday Classic: The first side of the original Traffic LP, John Barleycorn Must Die, is one of the best sides ever recorded. All three songs-Glad, Freedom Rider, and Empty Pages-have become staples of Steve Winwood’s live shows. I’m Glad they are.

That’s it for this week.  I expect we’ll be celebrating next Tuesday like we did in Philly this summer. It will be hard to top the balloon drop.

Balloon drop meme

That’s Why I Call Him The Insult Comedian: Charting The Insults

The New York Times has been making up for lost time in going after Donald Trump. They coddled him during the GOP primaries, then engaged in both-siderism at the start of the General Election before realizing this is not your ordinary Presidential candidate. Better late than never, y’all.

The fine folks at the NYT’s Upshot have compiled a comprehensive list of the 281 things, people, and places the Insult Comedian has insulted on the Tweeter Tube. Here’s a link to the dictionary of malakatude. There’s an accompanying article as well. What’s a soloist without an accomplished accompanist? What’s an insult dictionary without a dick? Trump is the guy who puts the dick in dictionary, after all. Believe me or be a sleepy-eyed dope with dog breath. Time for a musical interlude with Frank Zappa and the Mothers featuring Flo and Eddie:

I saw Tony Schwartz on AM Joy yesterday. He said that Trump has about a 200 word vocabulary and the dictionary of malakatude proved that he’s right. There are many recurring slurs and insults. Believe me.

Trump claims to be trying to woo Berners. Here’s the Bernie Sanders entry complete with links to the original tweet:

The Upshot’s Encyclopedia of Trump’s Twitter Insults reminds me of a book I had as a kid. I was book shopping with my mom one day. I was a yuuuge fan of the Borscht Belt comedians who appeared on teevee when I was young: Henny Youngman, Jack Carter, Fat Jack Leonard, Alan King, Don Rickles and, of course, my nicknamesake, Shecky Greene. I saw this book and had to have it:

2000 Insults

My mother acquiesced and that’s why they call me Shecky.

Quote Of The Day: Little Newt On Little Trump

Tiger Beat on The Potomac reads the Moonie Times so we don’t have to:

Gingrich said there’s a side of Little Trump’s personality that’s “very sensitive, particularly to anything which attacks his own sense of integrity or his own sense of respectability, and he reacts very intensely, almost uncontrollably, to those kinds of situations.”

“I think that’s a weakness,” he said on the “Examining Politics” podcast. “I hope he grows out of it.”

Grows out of it? Trump is Seventy fucking years old. The chances of him “growing out” of anything are slim and none, and slim moved to Mexico and calls himself Carlos. Btw, the real reason the Insult Comedian attacked Senor Slim (his name really oughta be Jim) is that the Mexican tycoon canceled a business deal with the fake billionaire after the rapist/build the wall speech. That’s the skinny on Senor Slim. The things you learn when you use Mr. Google…

Back to Newt’s Little Trump quote. One thing that many top Trumpers have in common is projection. They sound like they’re talking about another person when they’re really talking about themselves. Trump does it all the time and so does Newt who has always seen himself as a “historic figure.” Here’s more from the Moonie-cast:

In the podcast, Gingrich extolled Big Trump, whom he painted as a courageous outsider whose big thinking is changing American politics. “However, there’s also a part of his personality that sometimes gets involved in petty things that make no sense,” he conceded, “and I think that that’s what I was talking about when I talk about there’s a big Trump and a little Trump.”

“The big Trump is a historic figure talking about historic ideas. The little Trump gets involved at a personality level,” he said, pointing to the real estate mogul’s tweet in which he blasted “SNL” for its “hit job” and called for the “boring and unfunny show” to “retire.” Trump also attacked Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin, tweeting that his “portrayal stinks” and floating the unsubstantiated notion that the media are rigging the election.

“Well, if you’re gonna be president of the United States and a historic figure and not just change America but also change a lot about how we lead the world, you don’t descend to being the equivalent of Alec Baldwin,” Gingrich advised.

But, but, but his character on 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy, was an ardent Republican who would surely be a Trumper. Speaking of 30 Rock, it turns out that there’s a Tumblr whose stated mission is to use: “Jenna Maroney’s words. Donald Trump’s face. The worst of both worlds.” It’s called-what else?-Donald Maroney. Life not only imitates The Sopranos, it imitates 30 Rock too. Repeat after me: the things you learn when you use Mr. Google…

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, Little Newt’s Little Donald quote. It has given me an earworm. Now that I think of it, this could be Trump’s campaign theme song even if it’s only about growth in one area:

 

Moe’s Wife Blames Larry

threestooges-1451329101

Moe Trump pulls Larry Bush’s hair whilst choking Curly. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

I have long used the Three Stooges as archetypes for male behavior, especially of the dumbass variety. Most men are either Moes, Larrys, or Curlys. I am none of the above. I’m on the Shempish side at times but never, ever Curly Joe or, heaven forfend, Joe De Rita.

In case you don’t know your Stoogeology: Moe was the ego, Curly the id, Larry the doormat with Shemp being somewhere between Curly and Moe. Donald Trump is 100% pure-D Moe. Billy Bush is just as obviously a nebbishy Larry destined to have his eyes repeatedly poked by Moe. Btw. Howard Stern is a shaggy Curly. I thought it was important to add that. Why? I’ll never know since he wasn’t one of the boys on the bus or is that in the locker room? We’ll have to confer with Rudy who’s also a Moe whereas Newt is a Curly. I could do this for hours but I won’t. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

The Insult Comedian’s essential Moe-ness made Melania Trump’s explanation to Anderson Cooper of the grab them by the Billy Bush tape even more hilarious:

Cooper asked Trump what she thought the first time she heard the now-infamous tape, and she said that she let her husband know that his comments were not okay with her.

“I said to my husband that, you know, the language was inappropriate. It’s not acceptable,” she said. “And I was surprised, because that is not the man that I know.”

She went on, though, to question whether Donald Trump knew he was being recorded and whether Bush goaded him into what she characterized as “boy talk.”

“Ss you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on, it was only a mic,” she said. “And I wonder if they even knew that the mic was on, because they were kind of boy talk, and he was egged on by the host to say dirty and bad stuff.”

“You feel the host, Billy Bush, was egging him on?” Cooper clarified.

“Yes,” she replied.

In a word: preposterous,  ludicrous,  ridiculous. I know that’s three but this is a Stooge-based post, for fuck’s sake. Moe Trump is a leader/instigator: a writer of he-man crime fiction would call him a swinging dick. In contrast, Larry Bush is a lickspittle, a cackling hyena thrilled to be in the company of a Moe. Hell, Billy Bush even has Larry-hair.

There’s no way a Larry could ever dominate a Moe and it didn’t happen in this instance either. If Melania Trump really thinks it did, she should plan to go on Dancing with the Stars after her husband loses and do the Curly Shuffle:

 

That’s Why I Call Him The Insult Comedian

clinton-trump-tackle-cybersecurity-in-debate-showcase_image-5-p-2262

Answer: Just ask Trump’s 10-year-old son.

I miss seeing Alex Wagner on MSNBC. She has one of those mega-watt smiles that is infectious. Alex has landed at the Atlantic and wrote a swell piece on the first debate and Presidential humor: Does Trump Know How To Laugh? She makes an important point about Trump:

Granted, a lot has been made of Hillary Clinton’s sense of humor—her laugh is shrill, too many of her jokes have seemed too prepared for far too long. But undoubtedly, at the first presidential debate on Monday, it was confirmed: Her sense of humor exists! And this mattered, because humor showed Clinton to be as self-aware as she was serious, and served to isolate Trump, making him seem like an angry spider caught in a tangled dystopia of his own construction.

This isn’t to say that Trump can’t get laughs. It’s simply that when he gets them, he’s humiliating people—whether “Low Energy” Jeb Bush, “Lyin” Ted Cruz or “Little” Marco Rubio. Humor borne out of cruelty happens to be the easiest and therefore lowest form of comedy: It is cheap stuff and it does not elevate the candidate, nor make him a more fundamentally sympathetic character. And when Trump does manage to grab laughs, his smile is a forced, flat line—a concession to facial spasm more than a natural expression of amusement or mirth.

Trump cannot joke about himself. He can only laugh at the expense of others. That’s why I call him the Insult Comedian: he has a funny delivery but cannot laugh at himself. There’s nothing quite as charming as someone who can make fun of themselves. Trump is capable of self-exaltation, not self-deprecation. It’s the sign of the jerk.

As to Alex’s point about Hillary. There’s nothing wrong with having joke writers as long as most of the gags land and one can laugh at one own’s clinkers, which was part of Johnny Carson’s genius. HRC’s demeanor at the debate was impressive: she resisted the urge to roll her eyes or pound the podium. Instead she took a different tack:

Clinton, perhaps more than at any time this campaign (excepting her recent appearance with Zach Galifianakis on Between Two Ferns) was relishing in a sort of comic levity, made initially evident in this exchange:

Clinton: I have a feeling that by, the end of this evening, I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened.

Trump: Why not?

Clinton: Why not? Yeah, why not?

Hey, why not? Therein began Clinton’s meta-routine, which was comprised not of laff lines, per se, but a series of joking asides that amounted to a rhetorical subtweet for the audience at home: Can you believe this guy?

Trump: And I think I did a great job and a great service not only for the country, but even for the president, in getting him to produce his birth certificate.

Holt: Secretary Clinton?

Clinton: Well, just listen to what you heard.

You could almost hear Clinton elbowing moderator Lester Holt in Dangerfield-esque disbelief, as if to say, Can you getta load of this one?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Just listen to what you heard” is to the 2016 debates what “There you go again” was to 1980 and “Please proceed, Governor” was to 2012. If it was scripted, it was pure genius. If not, no wonder she did the Clinton Shimmy:

Was Shaq there too? I completely missed the greatest hoopster in LSU history. I know what some of y’all are thinking: It was Pistol Pete Maravich. You might be right but did he ever shimmy like that? Besides, this is neither the time nor place for *that* debate.

Now that I’ve made LSU hoops jokes, here’s the Clinton Shimmy side-by-side with the Insult Comedian:

Trump knows he lost the debate despite the 4chan and reddit shitbirds stuffing the online ballot box. That’s why he looked angry the entire debate and has been making lame schoolboy excuses ever since. Blame Lester. It was the microphone. She was over-prepared. The dog ate my homework. If he weren’t 70 years old, he might have even tried the old my grandpa/grandma died dodge. I grew up with a kid who must have had 16 grandparents die over the years and they all kicked the bucket right before a test.

This string of ludicrous excuses reinforces the notion that he’s unfit to be President. Everyone fails from time-to-time: the real WINNERS bounce back without whining and pointing the stubby finger of blame.

The funniest thing that happened the day after the debate was a tirade by the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover:

If I were Donald Trump I wouldn’t participate in another debate unless I was promised that the journalist would act like a journalist and not an incorrect, ignorant fact checker.

Those mean old facts will get you every time, right Mayor 9/11? Rude Rudy also said this:

“The president of the United States, her husband, disgraced this country with what he did in the Oval Office, and she didn’t just stand by him, she attacked Monica Lewinsky,” Giuliani said in video posted to on social media by a website focused on coverage of millennials. “And after being married to Bill Clinton for 20 years, if you didn’t know the moment Monica Lewinsky said that Bill Clinton violated her that she was telling the truth, then you’re too stupid to be president.”

Remember what I said about glass houses the other day? This from a man who had an affair while Mayor, then dumped his wife for his mistress. I guess that makes him smart even if he thought Trump deserved congratulations for not mentioning Bill’s indiscretions, which is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Repeat after me: if you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones.

I predicted a meltdown right after the Insult Comedian lost the debate to a girl:

I was only wrong about the forum. Trump’s Toddler Tantrum took place on Fox News, which is where all wingnuts go to lick their wounds and tell fat chick jokes. Just once I’d love to hear some self-mockery from the short fingered vulgarian, but I know it will never happen. That is yet another reason why Donald Trump will NOT be the first Insult Comedian elected President. Instead, he’ll be the losingest loser that ever lost.

I keep alluding to the late Peter Tosh’s song Glass House so I’ll give him the last word. Besides, a Rastafarian would scare the living shit out of your average Trumper.