Category Archives: Film

Saturday Odds & Sods: Born Under A Bad Sign

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Tollan, Aztec Legend by Marsden Hartley, 1933.

The only predictable thing about the weather in New Orleans to start the new year has been its unpredictability. It’s been warm and muggy, wet and damp, foggy and chilly. You name it, we’ve had it, except, that is, for snow. The last time it snowed here was in 2008. Thousands of pictures were taken of the St. Charles street car in the snow. It melted quickly and hasn’t happened since. So it goes.

It was Twelfth Night yesterday, which means that we can finally eat king cake, and, more importantly, hang our krewe flags on our houses. I’ve been wanting to fly the Spank flag for months but Dr. A wouldn’t hear of it until yesterday. So it goes.

Here’s the flag with Dennie the den of Muses cat:

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End of laginappe Carnival catblogging, make that reblogging. If you blog long enough you end up repeating yourself, repeating yourself, repeating yourself…

This week’s theme song, Born Under A Bad Sign, was written for blues great Albert King by Stax Records legends William Bell and Booker T. Jones. It seems to fit the mood of at least half the country as we contemplate the next administration. I’m not sure whether to feel cursed or resigned but I’m certain that the shit brought to the surface in 2016 will continue to stink. Shit’s a funny thing, no matter how you disguise it, it smells just as bad. So it goes.

We begin with a version King recorded in New Orleans in 1978, produced by Allen Toussaint:

We continue with an instrumental version by the man who wrote the music:

Finally, a swell 1993 rendition by the great Paul Rodgers:

Now that we’ve admitted to being down since we began to crawl, we’ll shoot for a rebirth (no, not the brass band or the pale ale) after the break.

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Malaka Of The Week: James Woods

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Some actors who play villains are as sweet as pie off-stage. The late Robert Ryan, who played some of the vilest villains of the 40’s and ’50’s, was a kind, gentle, and liberal man. James Woods is none of those things. And that is why he is malaka of the week.

James Woods loves Twitter as much as his Führer, Donald Trump. He’s a glowering presence online and loves picking fights with all and sundry, especially people to his left politically. It’s a large group: Woods is the wingnut’s wingnut.

Befitting an actor who played Roy Cohn, HR Haldeman, and Rudy Noun Verb 9/11, he’s a bully with a glass jaw:

When “Abe List,” an anonymous Twitter user, called James Woods a “cocaine addict” on the social-media service back in July of 2015, he probably didn’t realize that he was starting a legal fight with the Hollywood star that would follow him not only to the grave but beyond it. But apparently he underestimated Woods’s obsessive desire for vengeance.

First, Woods famously responded to List’s ridicule by suing the tweeter for defamation, seeking $10 million in damages against “John Doe,” as he was named in the suit. Doe’s lawyer, Ken White (who writes about legal and free-speech issues under the pen name Popehat on his website and on Twitter), filed an anti-SLAPP motion seeking the case’s dismissal, arguing that “cocaine addict” was “a constitutionally protected political insult” in a Twitter context and shouldn’t be viewed as a statement of fact — especially given that Woods had used similarly inflammatory language to insult others on the social-media platform. The judge denied that motion in February, meaning the case could continue. Doe appealed that decision, but subsequently died, causing White to withdraw the appeal.

On Twitter, Woods celebrated. “The slime who libeled me just dropped his appeal contesting my victorious SLAPP motion,” he tweeted. Then, after someone replied noting that Woods had been “victorious” because his adversary had died, Woods tweeted (and later deleted), “Learn this. Libel me, I’ll sue you. If you die, I’ll follow you to the bowels of Hell. Get it?” He also expressed a hope that Doe died “screaming my name.”

He meant it! Woods decided not to let Doe’s death slow down the lawsuit, and at a deposition in mid-November, White refused to give up his client’s name, so Woods pressed yet further, filing a motion to compel him to. Now, reports The Hollywood Reporter, the presiding judge has ruled on that motion — White will have to reveal Doe’s identity. That is: the name of his client, who is dead, who was sued for $10 million for tweeting something mean at a celebrity. Woods’s lawyers had also sought sanctions against White for refusing to give up his client’s identity, but that attempt was rebuffed.

That’s right, James Woods is still suing the dead guy. And I thought I was a grudge holder. I’m a piker next to a man who once played a left-wing, albeit assholish, lawyer in True Believer. Woods made up for that momentary lapse by playing Trump buddies Cohn and Giuliani. Cohn was Trump’s mentor until diagnosed with full-blown AIDS whereupon the Donald dumped him. More recently, he discarded Rudy after the past malaka of the week helped him win the crucial FBI Manhattan field office vote. As I’ve said before, easy Comey, easy go.

We’re not out of the Malaka Woods quite yet. I visualize Woods sitting in a recliner as he simultaneously tweets nasty shit and fondles a taser. He’s suing the dead guy for the same reason he’s on social media: to take sadistic pleasure out of someone else’s pain. It makes one pine for the good old days when all he could do was insult waiters, bully stage hands, and leer at women he deems worthy of notice. He’s taken his ugliness to the internet for all to witness. Actors *are* exhibitionists, after all.

Life is a movie to James Woods. He’s the hiss-provoking villain preying on the so-called politically correct masses one tweet at a time. The Insult Comedian’s electoral college victory has only made him more insufferable. Thanks, Donald. And that is why James Woods is malaka of the week.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Of Adrastos 2016

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Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s time to take a look back at 2016. It may be an exercise in egotism but it’s mine, all mine. Last year’s best of Adrastos was a top thirty list, this year we have a plus-one. Sounds like a dinner party, doesn’t it? It’s time to belly-up to the buffet…

2016 was a good year for satire, but a terrible year for the country. And I was a better pundit than prognosticator. So it goes.

Here’s this year’s crop of posts in chronological order:

January 7, 2016: The Fog Of History: The Wallace Factor.

January 16, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Black Tie White Noise.

February 27, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: All The Things You Are.

March 28, 2016: The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Grace Coolidge’s Pet Raccoon.

March 28, 2016: Charles Foster Kane Meets Donald Trump.

March 31, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: John Milkovich (Not Malkovich)

April, 18, 2016: Oy, Such A Mentor

April 21, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: Jeff Weaver.

May 7, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: They All Laughed.

May 18, 2016: Speaking In Dudebromides.

June 3, 2016: Trump Violates The First Rule Of Litigation.

June 13, 2016: Still Comfortably Numb Revisited.

June 29, 2016: A Fatal Lack Of Cunning & Guile.

July 11, 2016: Jill Stein: Crunchy Granola Machiavelli.

July 29, 2016 DNC Wrap Up Finale: She Won’t Stay Throwed.

August 18, 2016: Heckuva Job, Advocate.

August 18, 2016: The Insult Comedian’s Not For Turning.

August 22, 2016: Every Flim-Flam Man Needs A Sucker.

September 8, 2016: Is Trump Really Running For Grand Nagus?

September 17, 2016: Saturday Odds & Sods: Birdland.

October 4, 2016: Instant Analysis: The Debate As Altman Film.

October 6, 2016: Absence Of Malice.

October 10, 2016: Breitbart-Bannon-Bossie Man.  Bloggers Note: This post was included by Batocchio in the Jon Swift Roundup 2016. 

October 17, 2016: Moe’s Wife Blames Larry.

November 2, 2016: Out Of Control FBI Playing By The Clinton Rules.

November 10, 2016: Sitting Political Shiva.

November 11, 2016: Confessions Of A Keyboard Maquis.

November 16, 2016: Malaka Of The Week: New Orleans Baby Cakes.

November 17, 2016: The Most Dangerous Game. 

December 1, 2016: Louisiana Politics: A Terrible Candidate For Terrible Times.

December 12, 2016: Hayes/Smith: Only Victims.

That’s it for 2016. It’s been a tough year but we’re still alive and kicking. I’ll give the last word to two guys we’re really going to miss:

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Saturday Odds & Sods: All About Christmas Eve

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It’s that time of the year again and I have a mild case of blogging burn-out. It’s time to recharge my batteries by doing a picture essay Odds & Sods featuring some Victorian holiday oddities found online by Dr. A. Hence the image above, which could be retitled Merry Frogmas.

Next up is a particularly disturbing image featuring walking ersters. Why they’re walking is beyond me:

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It’s time for more frogmas greetings:

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Since I’m punning on the title of the great 1950 film All About Eve, I’ll give its distinguished cast the last word:

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Sunday Morning Video: Bette Davis Meets Dick Cavett

The movie legend went one-on-one with the teevee talk show legend in 1971. It’s a classic as are Bette’s boots.

Saturday Odds & Sods: End Of The World

 

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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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Saturday Odds & Sods: Dead Flowers

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The Drunkard by Marc Chagall.

It’s run-off election day here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I’ll be voting later today in the Colonel Corpone vs. Foghorn Leghorn Senate race. Cornpone has it sown up and I don’t like Foghorn but I said I’d vote for him, so I’ll have to select an appropriate clothespin. I would say I was voting for the lesser of two hicks but Foghorn sounds like he’s been studying the oeuvre of Jeff Foxworthy. My friend Charlotte says he reminds her of Boss Hogg. Hard to argue that point, y’all.

The local news has been dominated by road rage and the law. The one many of you have heard about is the trial of Cardell Hayes for killing former Saints defensive captain Will Smith. I wrote about it in this space not long ago. It’s a very close case with the defense arguing self-defense. The local media have been all over it like turkey buzzards on roadkill. In this Saints obsessed town that was predictable and why the Judge sequestered the jury. The case *may* go to the jury later this evening.

The other road rage incident involved former high school football sensation and NFL player Joe McKnight. He got into it with some creep named Ronald Gasser and McKnight was shot to death. There was a huge stink when Gasser wasn’t charged immediately: he’s white and McKnight was black. Gasser was charged with manslaughter earlier this week. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand held a ranty press conference, spending more time attacking Facebook trolls than discussing the crime. Normand hasn’t gone off like that in quite some time. It might have been calculated anger (more on that later) or he simply lost his shit.

This week’s theme song fits my somber mood. Dead Flowers was written when the Stones were hanging out with country-rock godfather Gram Parsons. It’s one of the best lyrics the Glimmer Twins have ever written. It’s limey country rock at its finest.

We begin with the original version from Sticky Fingers, followed by a live non-Stones version featuring Keith, Willie Nelson, and Ryan Adams to name a few luminaries.

I’m feeling relatively terse this week so I’m skipping the break and diving right in. I mentioned intentional ranting earlier. The master of tactical screaming was the late great rock impresario Bill Graham.

Bill Graham & The Art Of Tactical Screaming: I grew up attending Bill Graham’s shows in the Bay Area. They remain the best organized and operated rock concerts I’ve ever been to. One reason was the hands on nature of the producer. He was always visible both onstage and in the front of the house. You knew who was in charge. There was one time at a Dead show at Winterland that there was a flood in the men’s room. I ran into Bill in the hallway and informed him. He thanked me and went over there personally. I followed out of curiosity and watched him grab a plunger. Now that’s attention to detail.

My old friend Gus Mozart shared a link to an interview filmed in 1977. It’s called The Mechanics of a Show. It’s well worth watching if you’re a rock and roll history buff. It’s also available on the YouTube. Here’s the segment about yelling:

I saw Bill scream at people many times. He was almost always in the right. An aggressive New Yorker like Bill Graham scared the shit out of California hippies, so they tended to comply with his orders. Besides, it was Bill’s world and we were there as paying customers. He was the boss and the best.

The centerpiece of this week’s post are tributes to two men whose deaths were announced on Thursday. Other than fame they had nothing in common. One of them was 95 years old and lived a long and eventful life. The other died at 69 after a lengthy private battle with cancer.

John Glenn R.I.P. Hero is the most overused word in the English language. Very few acts are heroic and there are even fewer heroes. John Glenn was a genuine hero. It was a label that he modestly rejected but one that he earned over-and-over again.  Despite his advanced years, I was still deeply saddened to hear that he’d died at the age of 95.

All of the Mercury astronauts were brave men. They risked death every time they stepped into those tiny capsules. John Glenn made it look easy, but orbiting the earth was fraught with peril. People knew that and it was one reason they went nuts (in a good way) over Glenn.

Here’s what I posted on my Facebook feed:

John Glenn went on to a distinguished career as a four-term Democratic Senator from Ohio. The punditry briefly went nuts over his 1984 Presidential bid because it coincided with the release of Philip Kaufman’s brilliant film adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff. Glenn was played by Ed Harris. It was the role that put Harris on the map. Glenn’s campaign went nowhere. Charlie Pierce pointed out why at his joint:

when John Glenn was preparing to run for president, I sat down in a bar on Beacon Hill in Boston for a chat with one of his chief strategists. This fellow smacked my gob across the room when he said that the campaign was planning to “downplay the hero stuff.” My god, I thought. Without The Hero Stuff, Glenn was just a kind of boring old sod from Ohio. Without The Hero Stuff, he wasn’t the first American to orbit the Earth. He wasn’t the guy who spent the last of those orbits in a tiny spacecraft with a problem the gravity of which the folks on the ground could only guess. Without The Hero Stuff, he wasn’t…an astronaut.

John Glenn was a modest man. It was how the best men of his generation comported themselves. As a Senator, he was a workhorse, not a showhorse, which is the highest praise I can bestow on a politician. He was also the antitheses of the braggart who won the electoral college and is claiming a landslide. They don’t make them like Senator Glenn any more.

He had a good life and a good death surrounded by his family. Godspeed, John Glenn.

Here’s a piece by Charlie Osgood broadcast on the 49th anniversary of Glenn’s historic Friendship 7 mission:

Let’s move on from the loss of an American icon to the passing of one of the pioneers of British prog-rock.

Greg Lake R.I.P. He was the original lead singer/bassist of King Crimson as well as the L in ELP. Greg Lake died at the age of 69 after a long battle with cancer.

I saw ELP several times at their peak. They were loud, bombastic, and pretentious. I loved every second of it. Lake was the steady, solid one while flamboyant keyboard player Keith Emerson and flashy drummer Carl Palmer whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

Emerson preceded Lake in death earlier this year. E and L are gone but P rocks on as the drummer with Asia. Here’s what Carl had to said about Greg’s passing:

The best way to pay tribute to Greg Lake is, of course, to post some of his music. I have used the opening lyrics for Karn Evil 9 1st Impression Part 2 more than once in lieu of an Odds & Sods summary: “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.” Greg Lake’s show has ended but the music never stops, corny but true.

Along with lyricist Pete Sinfield, Lake wrote one of the best rock Christmas songs, I Believe In Father Christmas. Here’s a live version from St. Bride’s Church in London with Ian Anderson and members of his band backing Lake up:

Ready for some live ELP? You have no choice:

I had hoped to post the original studio version of King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man but it eluded me. Another Lake-era King Crimson song will have to do.

“Confusion will be my epitaph.” Greg Lake will be missed.

That’s it for this week. May the Schwartz be with you:

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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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Pulp Fiction Thursday: Billy Liar

I’ve had mendacity on my mind this week. That brings me to Keith Waterhouse’s Billy Liar. Billy is a British “post-war babe” fantasist. He’s Walter Mitty for his time and place. Like Mitty, he’s more benign than the Trump Tower liar.

Billy Liar was a huge success when it came out in 1959 and remains in print to this very day. Below are two paperback editions:

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Quite naturally, the book was adapted for the stage. The original West End production starred the great Albert Finney as Billy.

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The 1963 film version of Billy Liar was helmed by John Schlesinger who later won an Oscar for Midnight Cowboy. Finney was otherwise engaged so Tom Courtenay played Billy. It’s a must-see movie classic.

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The property had legs as it was made into a Teevee series and the West End musical, Billy.

Here’s the trailer:

Finally, Billy Liar has provided the inspiration for some pretty darn good rock bands.

 

Sunday Morning Video: The Most Dangerous Game

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You’re not seeing double. This is not my post-election piece, The Most Dangerous Game, it’s the 1932 movie that inspired that post. This atmospheric black and white horror flick involved many of the same people who went on to make King Kong the next year.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Broken Arrow

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Right and Left by Winslow Homer, 1909.

I’m black and blue from pinching myself to prove that the Insult Comedian’s electoral college victory really happened. It’s a real life nightmare but at least we had our first cold front of the season. My colleagues in Chicago and Madison would call it mildly chilly but it’s cold by New Orleans standards. Cold enough to plug-in the space heaters and turn on the central. I’m not crazy about the smell of burning dust on the vents but it ends fairly quickly. The cats, of course, love bathing in the rays of the space heaters.

We’ve all been so focused on the electoral disaster that not enough attention has been paid to the South Dakota pipeline controversy. I plead guilty myself but I stand with the Standing Rock Sioux. If you’re like me and feel the need to be educated on the dispute, here’s a link to a FAQ about the situation.

It’s a much better way to spend your time than thinking about the December 10th Gret Stet Senate run-off. Here’s my position on the Neely-Foghorn Leghorn race in two tweets:

I forgot about two earlier ones, so make that four tweets:

Let’s move on to this week theme song. Make that theme songs as they’re two different tunes with the same title. The first Broken Arrow comes from Robbie Robertson’s eponymous first solo album. The second is a Neil Young/Buffalo Springfield numbah that shows how influential Sgt. Pepper was even with roots rockers.

We’ll put the broken arrow back in the quiver when we get the chance but it’s time for our first segment. Hint: it has something to do with a songwriter of Native-American heritage.

Robbie Robertson’s Testimony: The former Band guitarist has long been one of rock music’s best storytellers. He recently published his memoirs, Testimony. He sat down with Esquire’s Jeff Slate to discuss the book, Bob Dylan, the 40th Anniversary of The Last Waltz and his often rocky relationship with his former band mates of whom only keyboard wizard Garth Hudson still survives.

As a writer, I found this passage of particular interest:

Did you find similarities in the way you write music and the way you wrote the book?

Yeah, I think for me the voice is quite similar. The process is extremely different and writing this book was maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This isn’t just slamming down a bunch of words. This is writing a book! The detail! Writing songs is where we’re giving you an impression of a story. When you’re writing a book, you’re writing the story. There’s no skipping over stuff like you can in a song. It’s an art to be able to boil things down, and convey things with a sound and a mood. I love both things, but now, after writing this, I have the fever and I’m gonna write the next volume to it. In fact, it might be a trilogy!

I’m looking forward to reading the book. I wonder how deep Robbie goes into his issues with Levon Helm. I hope he clears the air, but since the major problem was money I have my doubts. I regret they never worked things out but as John Lennon said: “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Before moving on, here’s one of Robbie’s lesser known masterpieces.

In the interview, Robbie mentioned working on music for the new Scorsese film, let’s move on to a story from tomorrow’s NYT Magazine.

The Passion of Martin Scorsese: It turns out that Marty’s passion project has been to bring The Silence, a novel about Catholic missionaries in Japan by Shusako Endo, to the big screen. It may sound like an odd project to those of you who think of Scorsese as a guy who makes gangster films but religion has always played a role in his films. It sounds like an interesting project. Paul Elie has the details.

I’m keeping it brief this holiday weekend so let’s dive into our next piece, which is about Scorsese’s fellow Italian-American filmmaker, Francis Ford Coppola. I’ll let the NYT’s link icon thing herald the next segment:

I’ve seen The Godfather more times than I care to admit. Actually, I lost count long ago. The first two installments are close to perfect, and 3 would have been much better if Winona Ryder had played Michael Corleone’s doomed daughter. Winona’s fall from grace happened right before shooting and Sofia Coppola stepped in. It’s a pity, there’s much to like about the movie but, let’s just say, Sofia is a better director than actress.

Coppola sat down with Timesman Jacob Bernstein to talk about his Godfather book. Here’s a slice of the pie:

When was the last time you watched “The Godfather”?

Oh, I don’t know, years ago. For me, the memory of “The Godfather” brings great unhappiness. That movie took 60 days, and it was miserable, not to mention the months after of jockeying over the cut. So my reaction is usually of panic and nausea, but that has nothing to do with how it is for the audience.

Something I liked about reading your book was finding out how methodical you were. There’s a presumption that all great art is the result of a boundless imagination. This book shows that it’s a slog.

It was insecurity. I was so young. I was hired because I was young. A lot of important directors turned it down. Elia Kazan turned it down. Costa-Gavras turned it down, a whole bunch of important directors. So the philosophy was, let’s get someone young, who could presumably be pushed around. Also, I was Italian-American, and that was good, because it meant if the studio got flak they could simply say, “But it was an Italian-American director.”

It’s a pity that Coppola has been the Orson Welles of his generation instead of thriving like Scorsese. If you asked me back in the day who would have been more successful, my money would have been on Coppola. Sorry, Marty. It’s another thing I’ve been wrong about. Francis is a helluva winemaker though.

I’ve already done a list of my favorite Scorsese movies, so we’ll try something different. My ten favorite supporting characters in The Godfather trilogy in no particular order. I’ve excluded the males in the Corleone family from consideration. Sorry, Fredo.

  1. Talia Shire as Connie Corleone Rizzi.
  2. Abe Vigoda as Tessio.
  3. Richard Castellano as Clemenza
  4. Michael Gazzo as Frankie Pentangeli in 2.
  5. Lee Strasberg Hyman Roth in 2.
  6. Eli Wallach as Don Altobello in 3.
  7. GD Spradlin as Senator Geary in 2
  8. Richard Conte as Don Barzini.
  9. Sterling Hayden as Capt. McCluskey.
  10. Gastone Moschin as Fanucci in 2.

One flaw of the Godfather movies is the paucity of interesting female characters. David Chase did better in that regard in The Sopranos. Come on down, Janis Soprano and Dr. Melfi.

It’s time to make an offer you can’t refuse, and move on to our final segment.

Saturday Classic: I usually post albums in this space but I had never seen this half-hour Kinks set before. It’s Kinktastic, especially the Kick horns who have nothing to do with Athenae’s kiddo as far as I know.

That’s it for this week. I’ll give the greatest Gret Stet populists of them all the last word:

uncle-earl-meme

Saturday Odds & Sods: God’s Comic

man-ray-glass-tears

Glass Tears by Man Ray, 1932.

Facebook killed me off earlier this week. I even got a death notice from them but neglected to take a screen shot. I was not alone in receiving a premature memorial page notice from the Zuckerdudes. Facebook even whacked blog pun consultant James Karst:

Karst is dead.

I’m pleased to report that, unlike the late Johnny Winter, Karst is still alive and well:

I’ve heard several explanations as to what went wrong but there’s one I like. And I’m sticking to it even if it’s debunked as de bunk. Consider it my Ford factory relocation moment. Here it is: It may have been concocted by trolls who wanted to metaphorically liquidate people whose content they dislike. I wear their scorn as a badge of honor even if I have long believed that “we don’t need no stinking badges.” That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, y’all. Facebook and fake news go together like Lennon and McCartney before Yoko and Linda or Rodgers and Hart before Hammerstein. Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.

This week’s theme song is an obvious choice: God’s Comic by Elvis Costello. It’s written from the perspective of a dead guy. This may make EC the Nostraelvis of rock and roll since it was written for the Spike album in 1989 long before Facebook existed. Or is that Nostradeclan? I cannot for the life or death of me keep that straight. First the song followed by a few  lyrics:

EC is a notoriously wordy songwriter so there are a lot of lyrics.  Here’s the first verse followed by the chorus :

I wish you’d known me when I was alive, I was a funny feller
The crowd would hoot and holler for more
I wore a drunk’s red nose for applause
Oh yes I was a comical priest
“With a joke for the flock and a hand up your fleece”
Drooling the drink and the lipstick and greasepaint
Down the cardboard front of my dirty dog-collar

Now I’m dead, now I’m dead, now I’m dead,
Now I’m dead, now I’m dead
And I’m going on to meet my reward
I was scared, I was scared, I was scared, I was scared
He might of never heard God’s Comic

On that mordantly morbid note, it’s time for the break. We should move expeditiously before Facebook kills me off again and I go on to meet my reward.

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The Most Dangerous Game

the-most-dangerous-game-1932-602x356

This is not a second edition of Pulp Fiction Thursday, it’s the political post I originally planned before writing about Korematsu. The Most Dangerous Game referred to in the movie is: MAN and/or WOMAN. The deranged hunter in that story, Count Zoroff, enjoys hunting human beings for sport. People are the game. Poor Joel McCrea. It was easier being on the chain gang in Sullivan’s Travels.

Senate Democrats, including such progressive stars as Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and a certain Independent from Vermont, are making noises about working with the Insult Comedian. They seem to think they can find common ground with him on the “populist ideas” he spouted during the late campaign. Unless this is a tactic designed to expose Trump as a fraud, they’re out of their minds.

First, we have no idea what, other than himself, Trump believes in. I have a hard time believing that a sexual predator who lives in a Manhattan penthouse favors populist solutions to economic problems. The sole “populist” on his team is the millionaire anti-Semite and white nationalist, Steve Bannon of B3 Brownshirt fame. The potential Vichy progressives want him removed for laudable reasons and I agree with them. Who’s going to have their back on economic issues if he goes? Nobody, that’s who. The crazed cannibal capitalists will have their run of the asylum AKA the Trump White House.

Second, Trump lied his way through the campaign. Moreover, he’s an habitual liar who screws everyone who deals with him. His word is not his bond. Trying to deal with him is an act of extreme naiveté. He will look you straight in the eye, shake your hand, lie to you, and later deny that a deal was made. If we’ve learned nothing else from the campaign, we’ve learned that Trump is a con man who tells his marks what they want to hear. I’m not buying what he’s selling. Repeat after me: the Insult Comedian is the  lyingest liar who ever lied.

I understand *why* they want to make a deal. They know Trump is a blank slate when it comes to policy and they want to get shit done. Yes, our infrastructure needs work but is it worth selling out to Trump? Presidents get credit for things like this and, knowing Trump, he will put his name on every construction project. I’d like to point out that public works spending is a tried and true way for dictators to build support. Why do you think the original German autobahn was built? The Nazis built it as a popularity boosting measure. They were “populists” appealing to the “forgotten man” too.

Some Democrats and Dudebro progressives are drawing the wrong lesson from Trump’s narrow victory in some Rust Belt states. Slate’s Jamelle Bouie has written the best refutation. Here are the money paragraphs from his piece:

Warren and Sanders are wrong, and in a way that signals a significant misreading of the landscape on the part of the most influential Democrats. The simple truth is that Trump’s use of explicit racism—his deliberate attempt to incite Americans against different groups of nonwhites—was integral to his campaign. It was part and parcel of his “populism” and told a larger story: that either at home or abroad, foreigners and their “globalist” allies were cheating the American worker, defined as a white working-class man with a factory job. To claw back the dominion he once enjoyed—to “make America great again”—Trump promised protectionism and “law and order.” He promised to deport immigrants, register Muslims, and build new infrastructure. This wasn’t “populism”; it was white populism. Writes historian Nell Irvin Painter for the New York Times: “This time the white men in charge will not simply happen to be white; they will be governing as white, as taking America back, back to before multiculturalism.”

It seems reasonable for Warren and Sanders to make a distinction between Trump as blue-collar populist and Trump as racist demagogue. But that distinction doesn’t exist. Supporting a Trump-branded infrastructure initiative as a discrete piece of policy where two sides can find common ground only bolsters a white-nationalist politics, even if you oppose the rest of Trump’s agenda. It legitimizes and gives fuel to white tribalism as a political strategy. It shows that there are tangible gains for embracing Trump-style demagoguery. Likewise, it seems reasonable to want to recast support for Trump as an expression of populism. But Trump’s is a racial populism—backed almost entirely by white Americans, across class lines—that revolves around demands to reinforce existing racial and status hierarchies. That’s what it means to “make America great again.” It has nothing to offer to working-class blacks who need safety from unfair police violence just as much as they need higher wages, or working-class Latinos who need to protect their families from draconian immigration laws as much as they need a chance to unionize.

As Jamelle points out, the real “forgotten” people in Trump’s working-class appeal are minorities. Are we going to turn our back on people who supported our nominee to chase the chimera of collaboration on Trump’s terms?

Why do Sanders, Warren, and others think appeasing Trump will work any better than GOP efforts to do likewise? He will lie to them, stab them in the back, and brag about it on Twitter. I already miss outgoing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry is a white Mormon from Nevada but he understands who we’re dealing with better than many ostensibly more progressive politicians.

If you’re a regular First Draft reader, you know that I consider myself a member of the “get shit done” party. These are not normal times. Appeasement, collaboration, and normalization of this menace will not work. The Trump administration has a chance to surpass the corruption of the Gilded Age administrations and that of Warren Gamaliel Harding. And that’s the best case scenario: the worst case is a continuing attack on minority communities and the steady erosion of our freedoms.

The most dangerous game in the 21st Century is collaborating with Trump. That is why I stand with the Resistance. Vive les Maquis.

Saturday Odds & Sods: They Can’t Take That Away From Me

Allegory by Ben Shahn.

Allegory by Ben Shahn, 1948.

I’m not feeling funny ha-ha this week so I’m keeping this short. And I mean it this time. I wish I could say we were like Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill Jr. where the building collapses around him but he emerges unscathed:

Given the names that are being floated for Cyclone Donald’s future misadministration, we’re in for a bumpy ride. PBJ? Newt? Rudy? Reince? Bannon? Palin? Oy just oy.

This week’s theme song is They Can’t Take That Away From Me. It’s one of George Gershwin’s loveliest melodies and one of Ira Gershwin’s most poignant lyrics. I selected it an antidote to the electoral college victory of the vulgar and crass Insult Comedian. In short, I’m trying to ward off the crass with some class.

It’s a foolproof Gershwin song, so there are many fabulous versions to choose from. I limited myself to three. We begin with (who else?) Frank Sinatra. The song became even more associated with Sinatra after Bill Zehme’s wonderful 1997 book, The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin’. Frank recorded several variations but my favorite is this torchy rendition, arranged by Nelson Riddle:

The Gershwins wrote They Can’t Take Away From Me for the 1937 Astaire-Rogers musical Shall We Dance. I prefer the way it was done as the closing number in Fred and Ginger’s last film together, The Barkleys of Broadway:

Who has more class than Sinatra or Astaire? Our next artists certainly equal those two gents in savoir faire. There’s a segment later about Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. I’ll let their singing speak for them right now.

Speaking of class, ain’t nothing classier than the band on Ella and Louis: Oscar Peterson, Buddy Rich, Ray Brown, and Herb Ellis. I’ll have more on the 60th anniversary of that classic LP directly.

Time to get arty but hopefully not farty:

Ben Shahn’s Allegory: Ben Shahn was a lefty artist/activist who lived a long and interesting life. I originally thought I’d use one of his WPA murals as the featured image, but Allegory is a more interesting painting:

Allegory represents an immense, red, lionlike chimera, shown in profile, its great head turned toward the viewer and surrounded with flames. The beast is lean and hungry — Shahn is careful to delineate his ribs, so we know that he (his gender is also clearly indicated) is hungry, and he seems like an imaginary lion in a Chinese opera, or like a strange composite animal in a painting by the great Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo.

Although it is smaller than a large dog in the painting itself, we realize just how huge the animal is in illusion when we see a pile of tiny dead bodies with white limbs and faces placed below its haunches, or a miniature forest in front of it.

Shahn himself tells us that the beast — he never quite identifies its species — is the embodiment of fire and that the entire painting emerged from a series of illustrations he made for the August 1948 issue of Harper’s magazine. The illustrations were commissioned to accompany an article on what was called “The Hickman Fire” written by the distinguished journalist John Bartlow Martin.

It’s a relief to discuss an allegorical beast instead of the real one stalking the country. It’s time for a few words about two national treasures: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

The 60th Anniversary of Ella and Louis: I’m referring to the first of three albums the dynamic jazz duo recorded for Verve Records. We all know something about the artists but the man who brought them together, Norman Granz, is less well known to the general public. Tom Maxwell has the details at Longreads.com.

Saturday Classic: I had thought that I’d previously posted Ella and Louis in this segment. It turns out I was wrong. That’s been happening a bit too much for my taste of late. I would have re-posted it in any event. This album is the best anti-crass serum imaginable.

That’s if for this week. I should be back in full-blown horrid punster mode next time around. I’ll also revive my regular Album Cover and Pulp Fiction features after a one-week hiatus.

It’s time to get back to what passes for normal here at First Draft. We need to be able to laugh through the horror as well as raging against the dying of the light. It’s what FDR would want us to do, after all.

FDR Meme

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

Tweets Of The Day: Campaign 2016 Edition

I’ve been spending more time on Twitter during the World Series. It’s a way to kill time while managers Terry Francona and Joe Maddon change pitchers 96 times per game, which, in turn, causes me to cry 96 Tears:

Enough about baseball overmanaging a subject that only Doc, Linkmeister and I care about, on to some random political tweets. I usually post them one at a time but I’m working on something long so this is a good way to kick the can down the road.

Speaking of road movies, Thelma & Louise star and Lefty purist pain in the ass Susan Sarandon endorsed the Crunchy Granola Machiavelli, Jill Stein yesterday. That inspired this, uh, inspired tweet:

Sounds like what will happen to the country if the Insult Comedian is elected. I don’t know who this Daniel dude is but he won the internet yesterday with that Thelma & Louise tweet. He looks pretty young so I guess he’s not the guy in the Elton John-Bernie Taupin song.

We continue with a tweet from comedian George Wallace who is so not the former Alabama Governor:

Mondeydiaper McStupid is a new one on me. Since I have a First Draft fuck quota to meet, I’ll call a motherfucker a motherfucker. I hope George wasn’t talking about teevee sleuth Jessica Fletcher. Now that I think of it, Angela Lansbury played the conniving Commie mommy in the original Manchurian Candidate, which Keith Olbermann referred to in this tweet:

Team Trump is trying to steal Michigan, a state the GOP hasn’t won since 1988.  Willard Mittbot Romney tried the same thing in 2012 but he grew up in the land of Reagan Democrats so it made some sense. Here’s Team Trump’s “uplifting” billboard:

Stay classy, GOP. I’ll give myself the last word with this trolling of two of the MSM’s worst:

Oops. Here’s the embedded tweet:

Uh oh, guess that makes me a last word liar yet again. So it goes.

Quote Of The Day: Ron Rosenbaum Edition

Ron Rosenbaum is one of my favorite long-form journalists of all time. His 1998 book Explaining Hitler is a brilliant look at those who have tried to explain the Nazi phenomenon from Allen Bullock to Hugh Trevor-Roper to Lucy Dawidowicz to Claude Lanzmann, and even the dread David Irving.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in political, cultural, and intellectual history. I re-read sections of it after seeing Denial.

The quote comes from a sidebar to Frank Rich’s brilliant New York Magazine cover story, Trump’s Appeasers. Rosenbaum was asked about the Hitler-Trump comparisons:

What do we learn from the effort to understand Trump as Hitler?

People ask me if there is a comparison to Trump, and of course the main difference is murder. Hitler was genuinely genocidal, and I see Trump more as a clownish fool, the WWE entertainment guy, rather than someone who has the power of hatred inside of him. On the other hand, how can you know? The journalist Julia Ioffe became a target of Trump’s supporters on social media, and what they did seemed to be crossing a Rubicon. The hideousness of the anti-Semitic cartoons—pictures of Jews being shot, of Ioffe being loaded into an oven—brought out a murderousness that I had not imagined was there.

So, the really big question is, was Trump summoning up these visions or, once he found they were there, did he decide to ride that row? Were we learning something new about him? Was he learning something new about himself? It’s similar to the comments by him about David Duke. It would have been so easy to go, “Oh, I can’t—these guys who support me, I have nothing to do with them.” But he wouldn’t. And his daughter is Jewish! I don’t think he knowingly said, “Okay, part of my campaign strategy is to get these vicious, murderous racists to mobilize my campaign.” But the fact that he was willing to take advantage of it is very telling.

Trump’s been a magnet for Hitler ­analogies. Are those comparisons clarifying at all, or always distractions?

I want to say both. Distracting because the disproportion is so great between what Trump has done and what Hitler did. And people are always using Hitler to prove their mandate, to say this or that validates their vision of politics. But on some level Trump does show a charismatic talent—you see it at some of the rallies. Part of the question up in the air is a paradox that traces back to Socrates: No man is capable of causing great evil without thinking he’s doing the right thing.

An interesting take from a man who knows his stuff, which is refreshing in this era of instant experts. Make sure you read Rich’s entire piece wherein he compares Trump and Charles Lindbergh. America First, yo.

Saturday Odds & Sods: My Back Pages

Monument Valley

John Ford View Of Monument Valley by Louis Dallara.

I have been fixated on the Presidential election and the World Series so I haven’t got any local tidbits to share this week. Shame on me.

When this post hits the internet, I will be at Tipitina’s with my sweetie seeing the Jayhawks. I cannot report on the show because I’m writing this beforehand. It makes me feel like a time traveler, which, given my obsession with the Wayback Machine, seems appropriate. I may have to bone up on the Back to the Future movies now that time travel is my thing. It’s a pity that my wife is a sane scientist, not a mad one, but one can’t have everything..

This week’s theme song was written by Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan. I never thought I’d write that phrase but I just did. The whole farce between Dylan and the Nobel committee is one of the funniest things since A Day At The Races: Get-a your tootsie frootsie ice-a cream. Dylan is likely to reject the award: it’s a pity he can’t send George C Scott or Marlon Brando to accept it on his behalf. Now *that* would be funny: bring on the award rejecters to accept the Nobel fucking prize. I do wish Dylan would accept the prize money and donate it to a worthy cause like, say, my cats…

Back to the theme song. I like Dylan as a songwriter but I’m not a fan of his singing, which is probably why I chose these versions of My Back Pages. The first one is from Bobfest in 1993. Dylan sings a verse but so do Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, and George Harrison.

The best known version of My Back Pages is by the Byrds from their 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday. Ain’t nothing quite like the sound of McGuinn’s twangy 12-string guitar and Byrdsy harmonies:

“Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now” are words to live by at least until the break. After that all bets are off.

Continue reading

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Hombre

Pulp Fiction Thursday goes to the Old West today, inspired by the Insult Comedian’s “bad hombres” line at the final debate. Time for an early musical interlude:

Elmore Leonard is best known as one of the greatest crime fiction writers of all-time. He got his start writing Westerns: Hombre is one of the best of the bunch, m’am.

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Hombre was made into a 1967 movie starring Paul Newman. It’s pretty darn good. It’s showing on TCM on November,5th. It’s worth a look as are these images:

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hombre_ver2

It’s trailer time: