Category Archives: Film

Saturday Odds & Sods: Time To Kill

The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins.

This week’s featured image is one of the most famous American paintings of the 19th Century. I’ve posted it to honor all the medical professionals who are fighting the good fight against COVID-19 but who wear masks and gloves unlike Dr. Gross and his cohort. Thanks, y’all.

I prefer to keep this weekly feature light but it’s hard to do in these tough times. The second act is kind of heavy, but the jokes return in our third act. Laughs are precious right now when fear is abroad in the world and our government in the hands of an evil clown, President* Pennywise. Oy just oy.

At the risk of being a pest, a reminder to support Chef’s Brigade NOLA for all the reasons set forth in this post. Thanks again, y’all.

This week’s theme song was written by Robbie Robertson in 1970 for The Band’s third album Stage Fright. It’s a joyful tune with a somewhat dark lyrical subtext.

We have two versions of Time To Kill for your listening pleasure:  the Todd Rundgren produced studio original and a live version from the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen: a 1973 festival starring The Band, The Dead, and the Allman Brothers Band.

The title certainly resonates in our era:, we all have time to kill. One of my mottos as a blogger is: When in doubt, post a Kinks song:

Now that we’ve killed time, let’s jump to the break. It won’t kill you.

Continue reading

21st Century Live Stream Funeral Blues

The other day on social media I posted a link to a WaPo article about the difficulties faced by families who lost loved ones  during the pandemic. It drew a raft of comments because I mentioned my favorite cousin. As First Draft readers know, she died last week.

Today was my cousin’s funeral; attendance was limited to 5 relatives and the people who performed the service. I’m not sure we would have been able to go in normal times, but these are not normal times.

My cousin was a movie buff and the one who introduced me to John Ford’s movies. That’s why the funeral scene from The Searchers is the featured image. Ford knew how to stage a 19th Century funeral in the 20th Century.

My cousin’s service was 21st Century all the way. It was live streamed by her church in Dallas. I nearly put live stream in quotes as the transmission was erratic until the last 10 minutes of the mass. At one point we tried streaming on 5 different devices: 2 iPhones, a laptop, desktop, and an iPad. The latter worked the best. Score one for Apple.

It was such a struggle that we started to laugh at the absurdity. I knew my cousin wouldn’t have minded. She was devout but she had an irreverent side: as a young woman, she acted with Nick Nolte at a community theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. Nolte was wild even then so a little laughter from her New Orleans kin wouldn’t have phased my cousin.

As I laughed, I thought of Chuckles Bites The Dust; the episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show wherein the station clown dies at the “hands” (trunk?) of an elephant while dressed in a peanut costume. The rest of the gang makes sick jokes about the death of Chuckles, but Mary Richards is made of sterner stuff. (The best joke came from snarky news writer Murray Slaughter: “Born in a trunk, died in one.”)  Instead, Mary laughed her ass off during the funeral service after the minister recited the Chuckles credo: “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down the pants.”

I know what those of you who know us IRL are thinking. You’re casting Dr. A as Mary and me as Lou Grant. Twenty years ago, I would have objected but I’ve grown into my Lou Grantness. I was always a curmudgeon but now I have Ed Asner’s hairline and paunch.

I don’t blame the church for my 21st Century live stream blues. It’s hard to imagine a more difficult place from which to transmit than a church. What can ya do?

Condolences to Chris, Xander, and Chloe. The good news is that they’d understand our finding the live stream fail funny. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Perhaps that’s why the iPad worked best.

John Ford’s funeral scenes typically used Let’s All Gather At The River as music. But I’d like to use an equally solemn river song. The last word goes to The Band who headlined the first concert I attended. My favorite cousin was the one who took me.

R.I.P. Tina, you will be missed.

The Day I Get Home

The post title is my feeble attempt to prove that irony isn’t dead, it’s just on lockdown. I awakened with a start yesterday with these lyrics in my head:

“The news is on, it isn’t good. I see the trees but not the wood.”

Those prescient words come from the 1991  Difford and Tilbrook song The Day I Get Home. Short-term thinking and failure to understand the big picture have characterized the entire Trump regime, particularly its pitiful response to this pandemic. We’ve all been worried about what would happen in a crisis and it’s as bad as feared.

Before moving on, here’s today’s theme song:

First, a hearty welcome back to Tommy T. I was up way too late last night and was relieved to see that Freeper madness had driven him to write. I’d give him a virtual slap on the back but social distancing, man; not to mention his back surgery. Get well, my friend. We need you.

Let’s stir the potpourri, if such a thing is possible.

Don’t Watch Trump’s Pressers Live: I’ve had a hard time watching President* Pennywise live for several years. He is incapable of telling the truth even when it’s imperative. There’s little information to be gleaned from watching a mentally ill man meltdown on live teevee. Read about it, watch the clips, but don’t watch it live. I agree with Rachel Maddow and Charlie Pierce who have urged the networks to pull the plug on the briefings. Things are scary enough without listening to the Impeached Insult Comedian brag.

Trump is beginning to remind me of former Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez who would commandeer hours of teevee time for his own amusement. This is not a comparison anyone should welcome. After a few days of trying to be normal, Trump is back to his old tricks of demonizing the media, dismissing expert advice, and telling the world how smart he is. If he were really that smart he’d STFU and get the fuck out of the way. Enough already.

Senator Aqua Buddha Can Go Fuck Himself: Rand Paul is the first Senator to test positive for the 21st Century plague. Since he’s a libertarian, he carried on with his normal routine; spreading the virus on Capitol Hill by going to the gym and swimming in the pool. Freedom, man.

Thanks to Aqua Buddha, Willard Mittbot Romney has been obliged to self-isolate. It’s a loss when one of the few sane Republican office holders will be out of action for 2 weeks. I never thought I’d say that. Pandemics have a way of altering the way you think.

I hope that Aqua Buddha’s illness will convince wingnuts that this is some serious shit, not a beer virus. Freedom, man.

Speaking of Freedom, man:

Of course, Richie’s notion of Freedom was radically different from that of Aqua Buddha who can go fuck himself. Freedom, man.

I got all riled up by that segment. Time to take a musical chill pill, Traffic-style:

Let’s all go to the lobby; six feet apart, of course.

Movie Corner: I’d always heard 1953’s Battle Circus derided as minor Bogart. We’re on kinda sorta lockdown so when it popped up on TCM, I recorded it. It was a pleasant surprise.

First some lobby cards:

Love In Hell? I like the Spanish language title too.

Battle Circus tells the story of a Korean War era MASH unit. Sound familiar? Bogie plays a grizzled, cynical, and horny surgeon who’s tired of the war and the pressures of surgery. Sound familiar? Dr. A and I are huge MASH fans so the comparisons were flying as we watched. Bogart as Hawkeye? It’s easy to imagine. Here’s looking at you, Hot Lips.

There’s also a beautiful blonde nurse played by June Allyson. She stole the movie. Bogie was in his prima donna phase at that point so he rarely allowed that to happen. Perhaps it was mutual respect shown by one Philip Marlowe to the spouse of another: Allyson was married to Dick Powell who played Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet. Allyson was stuck in thankless roles for most of her acting career: ingenue, wife, mother. It was good to see her have a meaty role for a change.

Battle Circus was a big budget film with two major movie stars. So, they had the co-operation of the Army and showed us *how* a Korean War era MASH unit “bugged out.” The scenes in which they took down and reassembled the tents were spectacular. They gave the movie its title too. The image of a MASH unit as a Battle Circus is a good one.

Here’s the trailer:

Battle Circus is still lurking on several TCM platforms and is available for rent on Amazon Prime. Much to my surprise, I give it 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos grade of B+.

That’s it for today. Remember to stay home. Hunkering down and waiting for this thing to pass is all most of us can do right now. Repeat after me: Better Bored Than Dead.

The last word goes to Talking Heads:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Gates Of Delirium

Cover of Relayer by Roger Dean.

It’s been a tough week in the Big Uneasy and everywhere else on planet for that matter. The good news is that Governor John Bel Edwards excels in a crisis. He’s a West Point graduate and he’s brought some military calm to the pandemic. Mayor Cantrell bowed to the inevitable and issued a stay home order for residents of Orleans Parish. She’s doing all the right things but remains verbose in doing them. Every time I see her on teevee, my inner speechwriter dies a little.

This week’s theme song was composed by Yes for 1974’s Relayer album. The lyrics are by Jon Anderson. It was inspired by Tolstoy’s War and Peace and has four movements:

The song describe a battle, with a prelude, a charge, a moment of victory, and a peace. “It’s not to explain war or denounce it really,” Anderson said. “It’s an emotional description with the slight feeling at the end of, ‘Do we have to go through this forever?”

We have two versions of The Gates Of Delirium for your listening pleasure. The studio original and a 2001 live version with a dadgum Dutch orchestra:

Now that we’re all a bit delirious, here’s a song from Neko Case, KD Lang, and Laura Veirs:

Since we’re at the gates of a delirious new era, let’s jump to the break and see what’s on the other side.

Continue reading

Let’s See Inaction

The New Orleans Toilet Paper Apocalypse is in its second week. Make that the national Toilet Paper Apocalypse (hereinafter TPA) as hoarding is in fashion. The TPA is also an indication that people remain poorly informed about the nature of COVID-19. Nobody’s going to shit themselves to death because of this virus. Scout’s honor. Scout Prime’s honor too.

NOLA Notes: There was some serious idiocy here last Saturday. Can idiocy ever be serious? That’s an existential question for another day.

Anyway, it was supposed to be the day of the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day parade so there was a de facto block party on the Magazine Street route despite the obvious health hazards involved.  Even a normal St. Paddy’s Day seems to lower IQs by at least 50 points, and normal came to a screeching halt last week.  NOPD were dispatched both there and to Bourbon Street where drunken idiocy reigned as well. Now’s the time to drink at home, y’all.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell held a presser yesterday. While she ranted about “irresponsible journalism,” she did not impose a curfew. It’s unclear as of this writing exactly what the Mayor was on about, but it seems to involve a reporter calling City Hall to ask about a rumor spreading on social media. The Mayor did not handle it well. The rumor mill will be working overtime as this crisis unfolds, and the best way to swat down rumors is by answering questions however ridiculous. We’re all a bit testy but it’s best for our elected leaders to keep their crankiness to themselves. Otherwise, the Mayor is doing all the right things thus far.

A note about language. The word irresponsible is in right now. In fact, it’s being overused. The word is inherently pedantic, patronizing, and other P words that will come to me later. I prefer to call the foolish white people who partied at an Irish bar, reckless and stupid. I know stupid is judgy, but it doesn’t sound as judgy as irresponsible, which reminds me of an old song:

If the Chairman of the Board were still with us, he’d call the Irish Channel revelers, “stupid bums” or something equally colorful. The man knew how to call a bum a bum.

Movie Notes: I’m watching too much teevee during this crisis so I’m putting on my film critic hat to recommend some movies to help you wile away the hours. Since old movies, especially in glorious black and white, are one of my passions, I’ll focus on movies released before 1970 except when I don’t. I am consistently inconsistent, after all. It’s part of my charm, such as it is.

Last night, Dr. A and I watched this 1950 movie:

We watched the TCM Noir Alley version. The host of Noir Alley, Eddie Mueller, essentially resurrected this undeservedly obscure 1950 movie. It’s a winner; filmed on the streets of San Francisco, featuring great lead performances by Anne Sheridan and Dennis O’Keefe and a stellar supporting turn by Robert Keith (father of Brian) as a quirky police inspector. Rembrandt the dog is doggone good as well. Arf.

I don’t want to give away too many plot details other than to say there’s a helluva twist near the end that I didn’t see coming. And I’m good at figuring out twists.

Woman On The Run is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. I give it 3 1/2 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B+ and an exuberant thumbs up. Check it out while it’s still “free” to prime customers.

I’m going to try and not just write about the COVID-19 crisis as it unwinds. But it’s all-consuming right now since it’s early days. I also need to stop calling all segments “notes.” That’s notably boring but so, too, is this crisis. I’m so bored that I have a motto for this pandemic:

BETTER BORED THAN DEAD.

It’s almost as good as STAY THE FUCK HOME.

A quick note about the post title; there’s that word again. It’s a play on the title of a Pete Townshend song, which was originally titled Nothing Is Everything (Let’s See Action). It contains this cool lyrical couplet: “Rumor has it, minds are open. Then rumors fill them up with lies.” Perhaps Mayor Cantrell should quote it the next time rumors are mentioned…

The Who’s version has always been called Let’s See Action, the Adrastos version is Let’s See Inaction. Inactive is the new in word for those of us who are hunkering down until the crisis eases. Beats the hell outta irresponsible…

Inaction is just for the citizenry: we want all levels of government to be active and responsible.

The last word goes to The Who live in 2000 with a sloppy but spirited rendition of Let’s See Action with guest rock star Eddie Vedder:

Let’s clean up that mess with the original studio version:

That is all.

Keep Your (Safe) Distance

Last night, Dr. A and I made groceries for the first time store since the first New Orleans COVID-19 cases were announced. It’s been a week of firsts as well as worsts. It was like a preview of hurricane season but twice as frantic. One could even call it the TOILET PAPER APOCALYPSE. For some reason, people are convinced that if the world ends, there will be no TP. Locally, there’s always this:

Krewe of Tucks riders also throw plungers in case you overuse their terlet paper. Glug.

Okay, no more toilet humor. Promise. I’m not Mike Myers, after all. Or Friday the 13th’s Michael Myers for that matter. I seem to have misplaced my hockey mask…

In addition to Pulp Fiction Thursday, it was cancellation Thursday yesterday as most major sports leagues and events pulled the plug on 2020. I have some friends who are going to have withdrawal symptoms any time now. My suggestion: read a book or watch a sports movie. Bull Durham has been known to lift one’s spirits.

It’s time to slice this post into segments like an orange. Hopefully, nothing is overripe. It’s hard to keep up with events, y’all.

The Politics Of COVID-19: President* Pennywise’s Oval Office address laid an egg, bombed, and flopped. It led to mass confusion and the stock market tanking. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

One of my friends insists that Trump snorted coke before the speech. I don’t think so. He was too low energy for that; much like Jeb Bush during the 2016 GOP primary race. My hunch is that the Impeached Insult Comedian would test positive for the super crud. He’s been exposed to carriers at least twice. He should be tested and quarantined in a rubber room for his own safety and that of the country.

The COVID-19 clusterfuck is the most graphic illustration yet of the OTT incompetence of the Trump regime. They had no pandemic plan and were caught with their pants down. This criminal negligence is in stark contrast to the way Team Obama handled the Ebola Virus. It was contained in Africa and we helped impacted areas with our dollars and medical expertise. We still have the latter if only the White House would get out the way. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

Repeat after me: Incompetence Kills.

A Coronavirus Primer: A piece by Tomas Pueyo at Medium has been making the rounds on social media. It’s one of the things that convinced me to practice social distancing. If you haven’t read it, there’s no time like the present:

View at Medium.com

The image/link thing showed up when I previewed this post. If it doesn’t on your device, this link works.

Tweets Of The Day:  First, some historical perspective:

Boo to Philly in 1918. Hurrah to St. Louis in 1918.

Our second tweet comes from a beloved member of the First Draft family:

They must be people who have never lost anyone close to them. I watched someone die when I was 28 years old. I have a dark sense of humor, but I don’t make jokes about randos dying. Talk about bad karma.

I’m already on the record about this generational strife shit:

People have been asking me if I planned to write at length about the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. The answer is no. Why? Too many people focus on things other than the music and mud. Too many get bogged down in generational politics; one of the dullest subjects on the planet. It’s dull because it’s cliche laden: not all Baby Boomers sold out, not all Gen-Xers are slackers, and not all Millennials are twitter obsessed airheads. More importantly, not all members of the greatest generation were all that great. I often thought that my late father’s motto could have been, “We won the war so we don’t have to listen.” That concludes my rant about generational stereotypes.

Another day, another self-quote.

Finally, the featured image with Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas comes from Elia Kazan’s classic contagion movie, Panic In The Streets, which was set in New Orleans. I have another one in the hopper but it’s for when things get even worse:

I have it on DVD, but this stone cold 4 star classic can be rented from Amazon Prime. Besides, we’re all going to have time on our hands as we try to get through this crisis.

The last word goes to Richard Thompson:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Happy

Painting by Piet Mondrian.

My stomach bug was a persistent bugger. It slowly got better but I lived without coffee for four days; an experiment I’m not eager to repeat. It’s hard to be alert when you’re under-caffeinated, Coke Zero and tea don’t quite do it. The result was a groggy unprolific blogger. So it goes.

A quick note about the featured art and its influence on the Krewe of Spank. Our theme this year was NOLAOPOLY and our float was designed to be a rolling version of the game board. I suggested that the sides should look like a Mondrian painting. Our float captain, Greg, went for it with gusto.

I may not be able to paint or draw but I have a good eye. Besides, Di Stijl is always in style.

I decided to try and put some pep in my step with this week’s theme song. It was written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler in 1930 for a Ruth Etting movie, The Nine-Fifteen Revue. Etting was later played by Doris Day in the 1956 movie Love Me or Leave Me with Jimmy Cagney as her gangster husband.

We have two versions of Get Happy for your listening pleasure. The artists need no introduction but get one anyway: Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald.

Since we’re trying to get happy, it’s time for Keith Richards’ signature song:

Let’s join hands and happily jump to the break.

Continue reading

James Lipton, R.I.P.

It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely pop culture hero than James Lipton. After a career behind the scenes, Lipton became a teevee star with Inside The Actors Studio. He died earlier this week at the age of 93.

I always found Lipton weird and intriguing. His hair and beard looked spray painted on but he knew more about acting than anyone this side of Elia Kazan, Stella Adler, or Lee Strasberg. Lipton eschewed gotcha interview tactics and celebrity gossip to discuss the craft of acting.

James Lipton was famous for asking the Pivot Questions. As a tribute to him, here are my answers:

1. What is your favorite word? Eponymous.

2. What is your least favorite word? Utilize.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally? Music.

4. What turns you off? Bigotry of all kinds.

5. What is your favorite curse word? Malaka.

6. What sound or noise do you love? A good three-part harmony.

7. What sound or noise do you hate? Bagpipes, tubas, and jackhammers.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? An old school movie director. I see myself wearing an eye patch and jodhpurs while yelling at the grips.

9. What profession would you not like to do? Skyscraper window washer.The older I get, the more afraid of heights I become.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? “How the hell did you get in here?”

The last word goes to Mr. Lipton himself:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Life Is A Carnival

I’m deep in the Carnival bubble, which is a wondrous albeit crowded place to be. We’ve had big company and small company. It’s been fun but as always I’ll be glad when it’s over. I’m so pooped that I’m repeating last week’s featured image.

There was a parade-related accident at the corner where I’ve been watching parades for the last 20 years. A parade-goer was run over by a float in the Nyx parade near the corner of Magazine and Valence. It was fatal, alas.  I’ll have more about that and other Carnival related issues in next week’s 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief.

This week’s theme song was written by Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, and Levon Helm for The Band’s 1971 Cahoots album. The horns were arranged by New Orleans’ own Allen Toussaint.

We have three versions of Life Is A Carnival for your listening pleasure: the studio original, a 1995 teevee appearance by The Band, and a cover by Norah Jones, which is new to me

Lest you think I’ve strayed too far from New Orleans Carnival music, here’s Our Mac:

I try not to spend too much time peering around corners looking for spy boys, skeletons, or baby dolls. If you understood that sentence, you know enough about Carnival, New Orleans style to jump to the break without crash landing.

Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: Straighten Up and Fly Right

I’m exhausted from the lead up to and the aftermath of this year’s Krewe du Vieux parade. There were a series of mishaps and missteps that made it stressful for me. The political news hasn’t improved my mood either. I’m trying to get in the Carnival spirit by posting the 1939 poster seen above. Additionally, we have company tomorrow so it’s time to straighten up and fly right.

This week’s theme song was written in 1943 by Nat King Cole and Irving Mills and is based on a folk tale involving a buzzard and a signifying monkey. I am not making this up.

Straighten Up and Fly Right was the biggest hit the King Cole Trio ever had. We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the original, Diana Krall, and an instrumental by the Skatalites:

Now that we’ve straightened up, let’s fly right to the jump.

Continue reading

Kirk Douglas, R.I.P.

Movie stars don’t come bolder and brasher than Kirk Douglas. He died yesterday at the age of 103. He was one the last survivors of Hollywood’s Golden Age, which he made grittier and tougher-minded with his presence.

His real name was Issur Danelovitch Demsky. He wisely changed his name before his film debut: Izzy Demsky is almost as bad a movie star name as Archie Leach. The name change led to two nice Jewish boys Douglas and Tony (Bernie Schwartz) Curtis playing Norsemen in The Vikings. Oy, such casting.

Kirk Douglas, of course, would have disagreed with my calling him nice:

“I’ve always been attracted to characters who are part scoundrel,” he told The Times in an interview in 1984. “I don’t find virtue photogenic.”

Douglas was an intense actor. It was easy to imagine him leaping off the screen and grabbing movie-goers by the scruff of the neck. Comedy was not his forte.

Along with director Otto Preminger, Kirk Douglas helped end the Red Scare era blacklist by giving writer Dalton Trumbo screen credit in Exodus and Spartacus respectively. I always thought it was amusing that Paul Newman was cast in Exodus instead of Izzy Demsky or Bernie Schwartz. Oy, such casting.

Douglas published one of the best movie star memoirs ever in 1988: The Ragman’s Son. He grew up poor and tough as nails as this passage indicates:

“Even on Eagle Street, in the poorest section of town, where all the families were struggling, the ragman was on the lowest rung on the ladder,” Mr. Douglas wrote. “And I was the ragman’s son.”

The Oscars are on Sunday. Kirk Douglas should have won best actor in 1956 for Lust For Life in which he played Vincent Van Gogh. He was given an honorary career performance Oscar in 1996. They no longer show such awards during the broadcast. It’s one reason I stopped watching the show last year. I didn’t miss it.

In December, I compiled a Kirk Douglas movie list for Saturday Odds & Sods, The photo montage at the top of the post replicates the list but here it is anyway:

My Top Ten Favorite Kirk Douglas Movies:

  1. The Bad and the Beautiful
  2. Spartacus
  3. Seven Days In May
  4. Ace In The Hole
  5. Paths Of Glory
  6. Lust For Life
  7. Champion
  8. Young Man With A Horn
  9. Two Weeks In Another Town
  10. Out Of The Past

One of the most famous moments in any Kirk Douglas movie came from Spartacus. “I’m Spatacus” gets the last word:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Talk To The Lawyer

Courtroom Scene by Honore Daumier.

I’ve been preoccupied with two things this week: Krewe du Vieux and the removal trial. I’ve been living the former and following the latter. KdV has obviously been more satisfying.  As expected, the evil fucker is going to get away with it; for now. We’ll make him pay in November. Fuck him and the entire Republican party.

I selected Talk To The Lawyer as this week’s theme song because I’ve spent so much time watching lawyers on the teevee. Great lawyers like Adam Schiff and the sleazy lawyers of Team Trump. My personal bete noir is that awful dweeby pasty-faced motherfucker Philbin whose first name I refuse to learn. Every law school class has 3 or 4 Philbins. The Philbins of the world are usually kept out of court because they’re so boring. Additionally, your basic Philbin looks like they just stepped out of a coffin.

Talk To The Lawyer was written by David Lindley for his 1982 album, Win This Record. We have two versions for your listening pleasure; one studio and the other live.

Before we jump to the break, we should consult with opposing counsel:

Yeah, I know Jackson said the song isn’t about lawyers. What the hell does he know? He’s only the songwriter.

Let’s assume some liability and jump to the break. Last one on the other side is an officious intermeddler.

Continue reading

If Life Were A Capra Movie

If life were a Capra movie, the eloquence and passion of Adam Schiff and the House Managers would sway the Senate into removing President* Pennywise from office.

If life were a Capra movie, Donald Trump would be played by Edward Arnold who was a wealthy fascist who manipulated the “little people” in Meet John Doe. He would be exposed in the end as a mountebank by Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck.

If life were a Capra movie, Mitch McConnell would be a corrupt Senator played by Claude Rains who could be shamed into doing the right thing in the last reel of the picture.

If life were a Capra movie, Lindsey Graham would be shown his past life by an  angel who would convince him to betray Mr. Potter and stand up for Ukraine Bedford Falls.

If life were a Capra movie, Lamar Alexander wouldn’t just say that the Impeached Insult Comedian did a bad thing, he’d vote to remove him from office.

If life were a Capra movie, John Bolton would be played by Henry Travers with bushy eyebrows but without the mustache of war. He’d ring a bell, create new angels, and Trump would be stripped of his office.

If life were a Capra movie, Jimmy Stewart would play Adam Schiff.  Sure, Stewart was goyer than thou, but he played the hero in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Adam Schiff is the hero of the Trump impeachment. Thank you for your valiant effort, sir.

If life were a Capra movie, the spunky and smart Jean Arthur would play Nancy Pelosi. She played a Congresswoman in Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair, after all.

If life were a Capra movie, Trump’s lawyers would be eloquent and truthful unlike the creepy liar Sekulow, the bombastic has been Dershowitz, or the dweeby bore Philbin.

If life were a Capra movie, we’d have a happy ending with the townsfolk rallying to help Mr. Deeds, Mr. Smith, or George Bailey. The bells would ring, and we’d all join Ronald Colman in Shangri-La as the screen fades to black.

Life is NOT a Capra movie.  The Senate will vote against allowing witnesses and acquit the Man Who Would Be King. Oops, that’s a John Huston movie.

Even Frank Capra’s life was not a Capra movie. He was a Republican who hated FDR until the president stopped being Dr. New Deal and became Dr. Win-the-War. (FDR gave himself those nicknames.) Capra was only a populist onscreen; in real life he disdained the “little people” he celebrated in his movies. So much for Capracorn.

There are positive lessons to be gleaned from Capra movies. His heroes were knocked down but always got up like Gary Cooper in Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, or Ronald Colman in Lost Horizon. That’s what the resistance needs to do after John Roberts gavels this show trial to a close. We knew the removal trial would end without a removal. Keep fighting and never let the bastards get you down.

Unlike real life, Capra movies always had a happy ending. America’s chance to have a happy ending is on November 3, 2020. We licked Trumpism in 2018. It’s time to consign it to the ash heap of history in 2020. Do it for Longfellow Deeds, Jefferson Smith, Robert Conway, and George Bailey. Do it for your family, and your friends. Most of all, do it for America. She’s in trouble and she needs our help. End of Capraesque peroration.

The last word goes to America who is played by Solomon Burke:

The Big Picture

I’m not sure how much of today’s “defending the indefensible” session I can watch. I have a visceral reaction to bad faith and mendacity. Team Trump has previously given us The Three Amigos: Sekulow, Cipollone, and Dershowitz are the Marx Brothers evil twins. If only they were as funny. I guess that makes Rudy, Zeppo since he’s out of the act. It’s a pity that there’s not a Harpo in the bunch. The sound of silence would be a  relief after all the shouting they do. There’s not an inside voice in the bunch.

I have some scattershot observations about the big shebang in the Senate chambers. I might as well do it Odds & Sods/13th Ward Rambler style:

Adam Schiff Is A Rock Star: Republicans hate Adam Schiff. One reason is that he’s not the sort of Democrat who’s easily cowed. After 9/11, many Dems not only allowed GOPers to beat them up, they handed them a stick with which to do it. Ouch.

Adam Schiff don’t play that. The real reason GOPers flipped out over the “heads on a pike” thing was that his entire closing speech was an implicit indictment of those Senate Republicans who *should* know better but have thrown-in with President* Pennywise. Thrown-up is more like. They make me feel like Bloom County’s Bill the Cat when he’s coughing up a hairball.

These Senatorial cowards are culpable for Trump’s disgraceful performance in office by not standing up to him. They’re like Nuremberg Trial defendants Konstantin von Neurath, Franz von Papen, and Hjalamar Schacht; aristocratic conservatives who thought they could control the Hitler gang. It didn’t go as planned.

The Impeached Insult Comedian has been threatening Schiff on the Tweeter Tube. The best response comes from a former president who knew something about unpopularity:

Schiff’s closing remarks were posted on his Twitter feed:

They’re All Paulie Walnuts: I had an amusing colloquy with my beloved colleagues Athenae and Scout at Jack’s Joint:

The late, great Jimmy Breslin wrote a novel in 1969 about a group of incompetent mobsters, The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. Team Trump are The Gang That Couldn’t Shut Up.

That concludes this edition of Life Imitates The Sopranos.

Can I Get A Witness? The Bolton manuscript revelation *should* force Republicans’ hand on whether or not to allow witnesses but will it? After the “heads on a pike” fake furor, I’m dubious. The involvement of so-called moderates Collins and Murkowski makes me think the fix is well and truly in. I hope I’m wrong about this. I really do.

Those Republican Senators who dislike Trump behind closed doors have gone from hostages to active participants in the cover-up. They’re not legally culpable but they’re morally and politically culpable.

That brings me to the final segment/post title.

The Big Picture: I’m gobsmacked by people who are despairing about the removal trial’s inevitable verdict. They must not have been paying attention. Nobody thought 20+ Republican senators would vote to remove the Impeached Insult Comedian. The best case scenario was always this: enough votes to call witnesses and/or a majority vote on at least one article.

Removal from office was never the expected outcome. That’s why Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff were against impeachment until the Ukraine shit hit the fan. The goal of House managers was to present a compelling case for removal that will be implemented by the voters in November.

Another goal was to put the Republican controlled Senate on trial. The House Managers have succeeded in this with fair-minded voters across the country who want a fair trial. In our legal system that means witnesses and evidence.

Republicans have a short-term strategy: to get through the trial quickly and survive their primaries. They’re not looking at the big picture.  They cannot look at the big picture as long as Trump is pulling the strings. BUT there are voters who will punish them for putting on this show trial.

It’s hard to imagine Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, and Martha McSalley winning in November if they don’t vote for witnesses. They’re afraid of being primaried, which is not an unreasonable fear, so they probably will not. They’re putting party above country and their short-term selfish interests over the national interest.

History will not be kind to Republican senators who knew better but refused to stand up for their country. Here’s hoping they will be punished for their unpatriotic cowardice this fall. Make it so, voters, make it so.

Repeat after me:

It’s A Removal Trial, Not An Impeachment Trial.

They’re All Paulie Walnuts.

The last word goes to Marvin Gaye, Dusty Springfield, and the Rolling Stones:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Handle With Care

Saturday Morning by Edward Hopper.

It’s been a busy week. so I’ll keep this introduction brief. And I mean it this time.

This week’s theme song was originally supposed to be a George Harrison single, but it turned up on the Traveling Wilburys first album in 1988. The song is credited to the band, but the primary writer was George. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have four versions of Handle With Care for your listening pleasure: the Wilburys original, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and Stephen Stills & Judy Collins.

If you can handle it, let’s jump to the break but with care. Always with care.

Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: Save It For Later

Rain, Steam and Speed by JMW Turner.

The weird weather continues in New Orleans. I’ve compared it to a yo-yo or a rollercoaster in the past. This week’s analogy is a pendulum only with fog. Fog is the only constant. January skies are on the gloomy side: gray, overcast, and depressing. If only it were overcast in August when it’s blazing hot. So it goes.

We’re in throes of preparing for Krewe du Vieux.  It’s early this year: February 8th, a mere 3 weeks away. This strikes me as a good time to link to last year’s Bayou Brief piece, Confessions Of A Krewe du Vieux Member.

This week’s theme song was written by Dave Wakeling for the Beat’s 1982 album, Special Beat Service. It, in fact, has a beat and you can dance to it. Uh oh, I’ve morphed into Dick Clark in my dotage. What’s next? A gig hosting a game show?

We have two versions of Save It For Later for your listening pleasure. The original studio version by the English Beat (the Beat to me) and a live version by Pete Townshend.

Before jumping to the break, another song with save in the title:

All that saving made me feel like Mariano Rivera. OMG, a Yankee reference. I’m going to hell but on the way, let’s jump to the break.

Continue reading

Throwback Impeachment

Are you ready to party like it’s 1999?

President Trump plans on adding former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr and the defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz to his legal team for his trial by the Senate, a person briefed on the plan said Friday.

Mr. Starr, whose investigation into President Bill Clinton’s sexual relationships led to his impeachment, will be joined by Robert Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr as independent counsel and wrote the final report on Mr. Clinton, the person said.

Rounding out the team will be Mr. Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor emeritus who became famous as a defense counsel for high-profile defendants like O.J. Simpson.

The White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, and Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, will lead the legal team.

Let’s review the bidding. Starr and Ray were integral components in what Charlie Pierce calls “the hunt for the president’s penis.” Dershowitz was against impeachment before favoring it.  Lev Parnas placed Jay Sekulow in the same leaky, unethical boat as Rudy Giuliani: he has knowledge of the Ukraine scam as it happened. He should recuse himself but won’t. Trump likes sleazy lawyers.

Two of these lawyers have links to sex scandals. Starr to the Baylor football sex scandal and Dershowitz to master perv Jeffrey Epstein That’s probably why the Impeached Insult Comedian picked them. Pervs of a feather flock together.

Lapsed liberal and obsessive contrarian Alan Dershowitz has also been portrayed onscreen. A show biz touch that surely appealed to President* Pennywise. Ron Silver played him in  Reversal of Fortune. On television, he was played by Richard Cox in American Tragedy, and Evan Handler in The People vs. OJ Simpson. Handler, who usually sports a shaved head, rocked a toupee as Dershowitz:

I somehow doubt that they’ll want to be known as the Dream Team 2: the Scream Team is more like it. I wonder if Rudy plans to sit in the gallery and heckle. Now that would be must-see teevee.

The last word goes to Prince:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Life Is A Minestrone

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

It was a long, weird week in New Orleans. I’m one of the officers of the Krewe of Spank and krewe stuff ate my week. We have an early parade date, Saturday February 8th so the typical tumult and chaos have arrived early. If you’re religious, pray for me. If not, have a drink in my honor. This too will pass.

I selected this week’s theme song because all the talk in my latest 13th Ward Rambler column about Spaghetti Westerns gave me an earworm, which led, in turn, to the Warhol featured image. I seem to be more impressionable than I thought.

Life Is A Minestrone was written in 1975 by brothers-in-law Lol Creme and Eric Stewart for 10cc’s Original Soundtrack album. It’s a cheerful ditty with surreal, punny lyrics so, quite naturally, I like it

What’s not to love about a song whose chorus goes like this:

“Life is a minestrone, served up with parmesan cheese.

Death is a cold lasagne, suspended in deep freeze.”

Now that we’ve had soup and an entree, it’s time for dessert:

I had never thought of those tunes as musical kin before but they are. Surreal food wordplay reigns supreme as we jump to the break.

Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: So It Goes

Spellbound set design by Salvador Dali.

Carnival and Paul Drake’s gotcha day loom. We adopted the dear boy on Twelfth Night in 2018. I guess that means we must consume King Cake on Monday. Poor us.

I said all I have to say about the latest mess in Mesopotamia yesterday. Suffice it to say that I don’t think it’s an Archduke Ferdinand moment but it’s some serious shit,

This week’s theme song was written in 1976 by Nick Lowe for his kinda sorta solo album Jesus Of Cool, which was released in America as Pure Pop For Now People. I said kinda sorta solo album because it featured Nick’s band Rockpile on all the tracks. More about them later.

We have two versions of So It Goes for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a live medley with Heart In The City.

Both Nick Lowe and I picked up the phrase “so it goes” from Kurt Vonnegut. So it goes.

Before jumping to the break another Rockpile tune. This time the guys are backing up Nick’s then wife Carlene Carter:

Now that we’ve got all that crying out of our systems, let’s dry our eyes and jump to the break.

Continue reading

Willard’s Political Hangover

One of my first posts last year was The Wind Cries Willard. A year later, I still have Willard Mittbot Romney on my mind and he still has President* Pennywise on his. If he so chooses, he will be one of the biggest players in the upcoming impeachment trial. The problem is that the Mittbot is programmed for political caution.

Romney is under pressure to do something, anything major on the impeachment front. Here’s what the Salt Lake Tribune had to say about his prospective role:

Romney has been a rare bird among Republicans, being sometimes willing to criticize the president over specific actions and utterances, not just during the 2016 campaign but since the administration took office. In the current unpleasantness, he has at least tried to hold himself out as an impartial juror, attempting to not prejudge the matter before the evidence has been heard.

It would thus be helpful to his own cause if Romney could muster whatever influence he has to make sure that the Senate does, indeed, hear the evidence.

While the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote to actually remove a president, a mere 51-member majority can make the rules for the proceedings. If all 47 Democrats, and their two allied independents, stick together, the vote of Romney and two other Republicans could force a process where not only the evidence gathered in the House process is placed on the record, but documents so far withheld and witnesses thus far silenced are seen and heard.

If nothing else, such action will expose as a lie the protests of the president that he has not had the benefit of full due process, when it is the president himself who had blocked so much necessary information and so many knowledgeable witnesses.

Romney is, of course, perfectly positioned to play such a role: Trump is unpopular in Utah. It may be a red state, but the Mormon church opposes his xenophobic immigration policies. They view immigrants as souls to be harvested. The Mormon style stresses personal modesty, which is alien to the Impeached Insult Comedian. It’s no surprise that two of the GOPers willing to criticize Trump are Mormons: Romney and Jeff Flake.

Romney is as popular in Utah as Trump is unpopular. Beehive Staters felt honored that he ran for the Senate in 2018. He’s descended from a long line of LDS elders as well as the man who “rescued” the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics. He came perilously close to being the first LDS POTUS in 2012. He has the status and stature to become a hero in 2020. What he’s lacking is the temperament. He’s a cautious motherfucker whose political style is best summed up by a cartoon I’ve posted twice before:

I feel another movie analogy coming on. Willard Mittbot Romney has something important in common with the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, he lacks the nerve to be bold:

Willard *could* once again be the King of the Republican forest if he summons forth the nerve to be bold. It took a medal from the Wizard for the Cowardly Lion to be a hero, not a pussy.

What will take for the Mittbot to stand up to the pussy-grabber-in-chief? Perhaps a similar editorial from the Deseret News, which is the organ of the Mormon church. Otherwise, it beats the hell outta me. I’ve overestimated the man who wanted to be the first robot president before and am reluctant to do so again. Stay tuned.

I nearly called this post The Wind Cries Willard Too. It’s a minor classic, after all. It struck me as equally funny to call it Willard’s Political Hangover since the Mittbot is programmed to be a teetotaler. Besides, it aptly describes his status on the national political stage: he’s under extreme pressure to act, which would drive lesser mortals to drink. In his case, inaction speaks louder than words. It’s time to stop blowing with the wind and have the nerve to act.

The last word goes to Squeeze: