Category Archives: Film

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Calling

Tales from Topographic Oceans by Roger Dean.

Summer colds are the worst. I’ve been laid low by one. Achoo. My nose looks as if it belongs to Rudolph and I sound like Froggy in The Little Rascals. Shorter Adrastos: I’m going to keep this introduction concise lest writing it winds me. Hopefully, the rest of the post will make sense: I’m blogging hurt. Make that wheezy. Jeez, that sounds like an episode of The Jeffersons.

This week’s theme song is the stirring album opener from 1994’s Talk by Yes. Like many other fans, I call the Trevor Rabin-era band, Yes West. They moved their base of operation to Southern California in the 1980’s, and had a different sound than classic Yes; pop-prog as opposed to pure prog. Hence Yes West. The Calling was written by Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Chris Squire and it rocks like crazy.

We have two versions for your entertainment. First, a video featuring a goofy cosmic introduction by Jon Anderson. Second, a live version from the Talk tour that commences with an instrumental Perpetual Change.

While we’re on the subject of Yes, the featured image is Roger Dean’s cover of Tales from Topographic Oceans without the lettering.

Now that I’ve gone all art rocky on your asses, let’s jump to the break.

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Last Hurrah

The Last Hurrah is the story of Frank Skeffington an Irish pol based on Massachusetts legend, James Michael Curley. It’s about his last campaign, which took place in the teevee era thereby dooming a dinosaur like Skeffington. It was made into a helluva movie by John Ford who knew from Irish-American politicians.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Riders On The Storm

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner.

There will be no tin cup rattling today since we reached our goal Friday. I’d like to thank everyone who supported what we do here at First Draft. I suppose I should thank Al Capone for helping out but what does a dead wise guy care? Btw, I neglected to state that Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire is my favorite reel Capone.

The big story in New Orleans is the ongoing clusterfuck involving the Sewerage and Water Board. A year from tomorrow, there was major street flooding in Mid-City. I hate hearing about the August 5th flood since it’s my birthday but what can ya do? The people whose homes, businesses, and cars flooded hate it even more.

The latest mess involves billing. The lunkheads at SWB have computerized the way they bill customers. In theory, it’s a fine idea, but in practice they failed to adequately train the meter readers in the new system. The result has been crazy large bills that customers have refused to pay. The SWB vowed to crack down on what our new Mayor called “bad actors” by cutting off their water.  They backed down the other day when it became clear that some of the “bad actors” were poor people with $5,000 bills *and* that they could only disconnect 50 customers a day. TFC: This Fucking City. Stay tuned.

I selected this week’s theme song after it popped up in the last episode of Sharp Objects. That show seems to be a love/hate proposition for viewers. I’m on the love side for the music, atmospherics, and acting, especially the divine Amy Adams.

Riders On The Storm was written by the Doors for their last full-blown LP, L.A. Woman. Jim Morrison’s lyrics are moody and expressionistic even for him. We have two versions for your consideration: the original studio track and a live version by 21st Century Doors, a band featuring Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robbie Krieger. I wish they hadn’t hired a Morrison lookalike as their singer: it’s creepy.

A quick story about Jim Morrison. My sister-in-law’s mother-in-law went to high school with Morrison. She remembers him as a nice boy. I bet you’ve never heard that anywhere else.

It’s time to break on through to the other side and jump to the break.

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Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort?

The Kaiser of Chaos was a busy boy with an itchy twitter finger yesterday. The tweets dripped with flop sweat and palpable panic.  He “ordered” Jeff Beau to end the “rigged witch hunt” and praised Paul Manafort for his work for Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole. Those tweets arguably constitute witness tampering by tweet since Trumpy hands out pardons like Oprah doles out cars.

Ending the “rigged witch hunt” could bring the Manafort trial to a screeching halt, which would be a pity: I want the jury to hear more about Paulie’s lavish wardrobe. It’s also a pity that Judge Ellis has barred the use of the term oligarch. I believe in calling an oligarch an oligarch. Ole Garch sounds like a Swedish architect to me. I wonder if he had anything to do with the theft of the Swedish crown jewels? It could have been an angry Norwegian outraged over 91 years of Swedish domination of his homeland. If revenge is a dish best served cold, ain’t nothing colder than a Scandinavian winter or an angry and bitter Norwegian.

Enough of my weirdness, the weirdest of Trump’s recent tweets was this one:

Does this mean Manafort is a syphilitic murderer? He’s certainly a tax avoiding motherfucker like Scarface. Speaking of the gangster, the Insult Comedian misspelled his name: it’s Alphonse with a PH, not Alfonse with an F. That proves that Rudy Giuliani didn’t write this tweet: he’d spell a paisan’s name correctly. Remember when Rudy used to be anti-gangster? Now he’s a mob lawyer working for Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto. Many of us become what we hate.

I think Josh Marshall nailed *why* Trump used this seemingly bizarre analogy:

To Trump, Capone was a winner. He was rich. Everybody gave him respect. But he was brought down on BS charges, mundane financial crimes. He was treated very unfairly, to use the President’s signature phrase. This isn’t hyperbole or a mere attack. Over a forty-plus year career, Trump was deep in business with some of the most notorious and violent mobsters of the late 20th century. Trump managed not to get in to trouble first because he had the right friends but just as much because he kept the relationships largely passive. He laundered their money. His main overt act was willful obliviousness. Trump Tower itself was a notorious haven for all sorts of organized crime figures, mostly from other countries. Mostly from Russia and the former Soviet Union.

There have been many fine movies and teevee series over the years featuring Alphonse with a PH. I should thank the president* for giving me the latest in a series of Life Imitates post titles. First, there was The Sopranos, then The Americans, and now The Untouchables. Cue an extended version of the theme music, which was written by the great Nelson Riddle:

Now that I think of it, Ennio Morricone’s theme music for Brian DePalma’s 1987 film is pretty darn swell as well:

Al Capone *was* a fascinating character, which is why he remains such a famous gangster 71 years after his death. It is disturbing however that POTUS* identifies with him, not Eliot Ness. One would think he’d like comparisons to the best-known screen Nesses, Robert Stack and Kevin Costner. Hell,Costner is even a Republican; at least he used to be until the advent of the Trump regime. Good on ya, Kevin.

Enough Elliot Nessery. It’s time to post a rogue’s gallery of actors who played Alphonse with a PH. We begin with a two-fer: Ben Gazzara from a decent 1975 bio-pic, Capone, and Robert DeNiro in the DePalma/Mamet take on The Untouchables.

Next up from left to right: Neville Brand in teevee’s The Untouchables, Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire, and chewing a cigar as well as the scenery, Rod Steiger in 1959’s Al Capone. Steiger was a walking slab of prosciutto in this role. He’d be in the hammy actor hall of fame if such a thing existed.

There’s bound to be a white-collar gangster movie about Paul Manafort at some point in time. I’ve already made a casting suggestion in the form of a Separated at Birth segment:

Chazz Palminteri has played more than a few wise guys in his career including Big Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino family before he was whacked by John Gotti. The Trumps, of course, had ties to the Gambinos and Rudy is the one whose team brought them down. It’s a small fucking world, after all.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Sweet Dreams

Any Eye For A View by Paul Fleet.

I vowed not to complain about the heat this week. It’s always hot in New Orleans in July, after all. Besides, much of the world is having a heat wave so we’re not alone. Suffice it to say that even people who like warm weather are complaining about it. I’m trying my best to be stoical in the face of it all. I’m not sure if I’ll succeed in this but who the hell wants to hear a grown man whine about the humidity?

A big local story was the anointment of Zach Strief as the new play-by-play announcer of the New Orleans Saints. He has huge shoes to fill: Jim Henderson was to the Saints and their fans what Vin Scully was to the Dodgers. I’m skeptical that the inexperienced Strief is up to the job: he’s a recently retired Saints offensive lineman, and while he’s a bright, articulate guy, he’s unqualified to be a play-by-announcer.  Of course, this is the age of the unqualified.

Our theme songs this week are variations on a dreamy themey. Patsy Cline’s Sweet Dreams was written by Don Gibson who recorded it 8 years before Patsy. Her version is the one we remember. Sweet Dreams was also the title of the fabulous Jessica Lange starring 1985 bio-pic.

Yes’ Sweet Dreams comes from their second album, Time and a Word. They were still finding their way in the musical world at that point.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) was a monster hit for the Eurythmics in 1983. There was an epidemic of teenage girls who cut their hair very short because they wanted to be Annie Lennox. Who could blame them?

That concludes this foray to Disambiguation City. It’s time to awaken from your dreams, sweet or otherwise, and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Dimming Of The Day

New Orleans Window by Lee Friedlander.

Happy Bastille Day. I’m not planning on storming anything, it’s too damn hot for that. I *am* spending some time in the heat by attending San Fermin New Orleans. It’s our zany version of the running of the bulls in which the bulls are rollergirls with plastic bats. I’m not running, I’m drinking mimosas, eating donuts, and hanging out with Dr. A, our friend Cait, the child army, and whoever else shows up. It’s a sweaty, fun, and deeply silly time.

I predicted that the president* would make an ass of himself in the UK and he has done so. He gave an inflammatory interview to the Murdoch owned Sun wherein he praised Boris Johnson, criticized Theresa May, bashed immigrants, and wished people would call the country England again. He apparently re-annexed Ireland while he was at it. The next day, he denied attacking May and called The Sun “fake news” even though it’s owned by his pal Rupert. It was just another day in Trump World.

The featured image is one of my favorite photographs from the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Lee Friedlander in Louisiana exhibit. The New York based photographer has a passion for New Orleans, which is on display at NOMA until August 12th.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for Pour Down Like Silver the third album he and then wife Linda recorded together. We have three versions for your listening pleasure. The original version followed by covers by the Neville Brothers and Bonnie Raitt. RT plays on the latter recording.

Now that we’re feeling a bit on the dim side,  let’s brighten things up by jumping to the break.

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Invasion Of The Federalist Society Body Snatchers

Charlie Pierce has a theory that the Federalist Society has a lab where they grow GOP judicial nominees. It’s hard to argue the point that they’re pod people like the ones grown in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Btw, Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version is one of the few remakes I like. It’s more of a re-imagining. Besides, what’s not to like about a movie set in San Francisco with Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, and Jeff Goldblum. I do, however, still revere the 1956 Don Siegel directed original with Monty Clift’s bestie, Kevin McCarthy who should never be confused with the House Majority leader. End of film buff reverie.

Let’s get back to the matter at hand: pod person Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I skipped the fakakta dog and pony show staged by Trumpy’s new flack, Bill Shine. It was timed to boost the ratings of Shine’s pal, Sean Hannity. That Fox News meathead is now the most influential media type in the land. I feel as if I’ve died and gone to hell. At least the 8PM EST timing juiced up my girl Rachel Maddow’s ratings as well.

One deviation from the Federalist Society playbook is that Kavanaugh had a rough ride in his first confirmation process. He was nominated by George W Bush in 2003 and not confirmed until 2006. He’s been compared to two movie characters: Zelig by Chuck Schumer and Forrest Gump by Dick Durbin. Here’s why: Kavanaugh is a political animal who was involved in the Clinton impeachment, the 2000 Bush-Gore recount, and was a senior aide to George W Bush before moving to the Federalist Society greenhouse/lab and rehatching as a federal judge.

One serious problem Kavanaugh faces is that Senator Durbin believes that he lied at his confirmation hearing. Kavanaugh claimed that he was ignorant of some of the nastier practices of the Bush administration’s so-called war on terror. Unfortunately, lying is not disqualifying in the Trump era. Durbin is still on the judiciary committee and ready to call Kavanaugh out.

The more I look at Kavanaugh’s track record, the more I see why McConnell preferred another pod person. Kavanaugh’s paper trail is long, extensive, and contradictory. Senators have customarily been allowed to pour over the nominee’s documents, which in this instance could number up to a million because of Kavanaugh’s association with Ken Starr and Bush the younger. There are emails involved. That should give wingnuts a boner but it won’t because:

There seem to be two reasons why pod person Kavanaugh was selected in the face of opposition by social conservatives:

First, Team Trump schmoozed Justice Kennedy into retiring with the promise that his former law clerk would be his successor. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would join fellow Kennedy clerk Neil Gorsuch on the bench. There’s been some mutterings of a corrupt deal but this seems more like mentoring run amuck. You can tell that Trump out-sourced that part of the process because he’d have no problem betraying Kennedy. Stiffing people is what he does. Just ask his former chaffeur.

Second, I’m convinced that the president* selected pod person Kavanaugh because he views him as a human get-out-of-jail-free card. I’ll let girlfriend Dahlia Lithwick explain:

Over what I believe to be a surprisingly authentic warning from Mitch McConnell not to select Kavanaugh or Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat left by Anthony Kennedy, the president chose the guy who had the most to say about imperial presidents. This is not a surprise. Beyond the fact that Kennedy doubtless approved of Trump’s selection—Kavanaugh, like Gorsuch, clerked for Kennedy—the single greatest selling point for Kavanaugh had to have been the much-reported line from his 2009 Minnesota Law Review article, in which he wrote, “Even in the absence of congressionally conferred immunity, a serious constitutional question exists regarding whether a President can be criminally indicted and tried while in office.” A President Trump seeking justification to immunize himself from prosecution needed to look no farther than Kavanaugh’s caution in that same article that the indictment and trial of a president “would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas.”

Being a GOP pod person, Kavanaugh was for vigorously investigating presidents before he was against it. I suspect that had something to do with his days in the Beavis-Duce White House. Repeat after me:

I’m milking that meme for all it’s worth. It was originally supposed to be the featured image for a post centered on the IOKYAR-ness of this nominee. That was before I entered the Federalist Society lab/greenhouse and tripped over a pod.

The nomination of pod person  Kavanaugh provides opponents with more ammunition than any other potential nominee, which is the incompetent Trumper twist on the Federalist Society formula. I still expect the latest pod to be hatched at the Supreme Court after narrowly being confirmed. BUT the extent of Kavanaugh’s paper trail should slow things down considerably. I’m sure the Turtle has a few tricks stored in his shell but we saw with the failed ACA vote that Chinless Mitch is not infallible.

More importantly, Trump has given Democrats an issue gift for the election. Here’s girlfriend Dahlia again:

In short, this means that Trump didn’t just give Senate Democrats the talking point that Kavanaugh is an all-but-certain vote to erode or end Roe v. Wade. That statement, while true, could’ve been made about any of the judges on the president’s short list. In selecting Kavanaugh, Trump has given Democrats an additional talking point: The president picked a guy he hopes will hand him a get-out-of-jail-free card.

A pair of Democratic senators have already jumped on this bandwagon, with Jeff Merkley tweeting that the pick indicates Trump “is terrified of Robert Mueller” and Cory Booker stating that he “literally selected the one person who has a pretty good written record of saying, ‘Hey, if you’re a president under investigation, I don’t think you should be allowed to be under criminal investigation.’ ”

Whether this is true or not, or even supported in Kavanaugh’s extensive record, the fact is that Senate Democrats will be able to spend the summer arguing precisely what the president doesn’t want them to argue: that the Mueller probe is ongoing, that close Trump confederates have been indicted and other indictments are coming, that many of the legal questions surrounding the Mueller investigation may end up before the Supreme Court, and that the president may have hand-picked a judge solely for the possibility that he may vote to exonerate him.

Donald Trump always puts his own selfish interests ahead of the national interest. He’s done it again. He can’t even follow the Federalist Society script and nominate another Roberts or Gorsuch. Kavanaugh seems genial enough but he’s a flawed pod person who will make it easier for the Senate minority to slow things down. Thanks, Trumpy.

I’m not though throwing memes at you. Let’s pay a visit to the Federalist Society lab/greenhouse in glorious black and white.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Together

Flying Eyeball by Rick Griffin.

To say that New Orleans is a football town is a grotesque understatement. Between the Saints and LSU Tigers, gridiron love runs deep in the Crescent City. But last Monday, local sports fans were talking about the NBA Pelicans. Our local hoopsters lost 2 players to free agency: Rajon Rondo and DeMarcus (Boogie) Cousins. The latter Boogied to the Warriors and the surly Rondo signed with the Lakers. I was one of the few  local hoops fans to take this in stride. Rondo was a team leader last year after 12 years as a locker room cancer and occasional gay basher. Boogie Cousins had a torn ACL, which is an injury that usually diminishes big men when they return. I had a torn ACL myself. It ended my unpromising career as a little leaguer. So it goes.

In other local news, new Mayor LaToya Cantrell continues her incomprehensible PR campaign:

I still haven’t the foggiest notion as to what “being intentional” means. Of course, I may just be unintentionally dim. I had an intentionally amusing twitter exchange inspired by the Mayor’s tweet. Two of my twitter friends evoked the image of Matt Foley, Chris Farley’s failed motivational speaker, culminating in this tweet from my old pal Liprap:

This week’s theme song is a bona fide hippie anthem. Get Together was written by Dino Valenti who is best known as lead singer for Quicksilver Messenger Service. Valenti was a man of many names: he was born Chester Powers and also wrote songs as Jesse Orris Farrow.

We have three versions of Get Together for your listening pleasure. First, the Youngbloods, a band so hippie dippy that their keyboard player was nicknamed Banana, followed by the pre-Grace Slick Jefferson Airplane, and a recent live version by Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

In case you’re wondering, the featured image is by Rick Griffin who was one of the legendary Sixties rock poster artists. The image itself was originally on a poster for a Youngbloods show at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

Now that we’ve discussed the Flying Eyeball, let’s make like Evel Knievel and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Lonely Holiday

Rye Beach by William Glackens.

Summer in New Orleans is typically one long heat advisory but this week has been one of the hottest I can remember. It’s August hot. It’s so hot that new kitty Paul Drake isn’t trying to bolt out the front door whenever it opens. It’s so hot that the air smacks you in the face like a wet barber shop towel. I’m almost tempted to try frying eggs on the sidewalk but I don’t believe in wasting food. In short, it’s fucking hot.

I haven’t been as prolific as usual blogging-wise the last few weeks. I’ve made the mistake of taking the news too personally. It’s bad for both the psyche and satire. It’s been hard not to: the news has been so unrelentingly bleak of late. It makes it hard to be a glass half full person. It’s looking bone dry. That’s why I’m going to keep this post on the snappy side. In addition to my proverbial glass being bone dry, my funny bone is banged up. The good news is that it’s bruised, not broken. And writing Odds & Sods is always therapeutic.

This week’s theme song was written and recorded by Old 97’s for their 1999 album, Fight Songs. That was when this Dallas based alt-country power pop combo came on my radar screen. Lonely Holiday is a very sad song, which is appropriate given the events of the last few weeks. Only a sad song will do.

Get ready to rock with the original studio track as well as a lively live version:

Now that Rhett Miller has serenaded us with a sad song, it’s time to jump to the break.

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Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks

It’s been a harrowing few weeks for the country. It’s yet another reason to remind you that not everything sucks. I’d forgotten about this landmark until I saw this tweet from Herriman biographer and Laissez Boy, Michael Tisserand:

Mel Brooks is one of my comedic heroes. He awakens funny, is funny for lunch, and hilarious for dinner. He never stops, even at the advanced age of 92 He’s a national treasure. Here’s the great comic with Dick Cavett:

Here’s a comedy summit meeting featuring Mel Brooks and Johnny Carson:

I have one more clip for your entertainment, here’s the birthday boy with his dear friend Carl Reiner:

Happy Birthday, Mel. Here’s the obligatory ending, for me at least:

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Day I Get Home

Fantastic Landscape (Volcano Erupting) by David Alfaro Siquerios.

Our visit to Virginia was a quickie. One of the highlights came on the return trip when we met longtime First Draft readers Lex and Carroll Alexander for lunch. We rendezvoused at Stamey’s in Greensboro, NC and ate the food of their people: barbecue. The meal included perhaps the best peach cobbler I’ve ever had. A good time was had by all but I’m afraid Carroll and I did most of the talking. She has family roots in the Gret Stet of Louisiana and I was eager to untangle them. Nosy might be a better word, but it’s always fun to learn someone has Momus/Comus/Proteus old line krewe types in the family. You never know what happens when you give someone’s family tree a shake. All sorts of oddities are likely to fall out.

On a weird note, I got into a twitter slagging match last week with a Gret Stet legislator’s wife. My crime was criticizing her hubby’s voting record. She was not amused and he contacted me by DM. “Perfection” is a terrible burden and they don’t carry it well. #sarcasm. I wound up inviting them to a “block party” so the fight would end. I’m not sure why they think fighting with citizens is a good move but they do.  I’m not the first person to have this experience and won’t be the last. Weird, weird, weird.

This week’s theme song wedged itself in my head on our trip home. The title is a minor misnomer  as we got home last Sunday. The very Beatlesque The Day I Get Home was written by Difford and Tilbrook for 1991’s Play album. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio recording and a swell live performance.

Now that we’ve trekked home, it’s time to jump to the break without crash landing. Knock on wood or some such superstitious shit.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Saturday Sun

Cafetiere et Carafe by Jean Dubuffet.

It feels like August outside as I write this with the ceiling fan whirring up above my head. It’s time to dispense with the weather report lest I sound whinier than I am. And I’m pretty damn whiny even though, unlike Della and Paul, I don’t have a fur coat to contend with. Paul Drake deals with his by shedding copiously. Della Street rages against the elements in her own way. She is one mouthy cat, y’all.

I may have cats on my mind but the rest of the city is obsessed with rats in a French Quarter eatery. There’s a viral video and everything. Oh wait, there’s always a viral video in 2018. As someone who worked in the Quarter for many years, the thought of rats near the Big Muddy is not shocking. I’m not planning to go to that restaurant but even good places with clean kitchens have the odd rat. Repeat after me: to live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough. She-doo-be.

The new Mayor is “being intentional” by launching a PR campaign dubbing New Orleans the City of Yes. In the immortal words of movie mogul Sam Goldwyn, include me out, unless it involves the veteran prog rock band. I’m still trying to figure out what the hell “being intentional” means. So it goes.

When I started this regular feature in 2015, I used songs about Saturday as theme songs for the first few weeks. Saturday Sun is one I somehow missed but I’ve had Neil Finn on my mind and in my ear of late. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the promo video and a live performance on the BBC.

Now that we’ve basked in the Saturday Sun, it’s time to put on some sun screen and jump to the break.

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You Say Jungle Primary, I Say Open Primary

There’s even a third alternative used to describe electoral systems such as California and the Gret Stet of Louisiana: top two. I prefer open but hate the system itself. It led to much advance agita about yesterday’s election in California. There is rare good news: Democrats were NOT locked out of any Congressional primaries. A collective sigh of relief was heaved, otherwise we might have hurled.

I admit that I was surprised when California adopted an open primary system via ballot initiative in 2011. No state should emulate Gret Stet politics but they did. At least the California lege can pass a budget, which ours cannot do as I pointed out on the tweeter tube:

The premise of the open/jungle/top two primary is that the role of political parties should be limited. It’s a deeply silly goo-goo notion. Repeat after me: You can’t take politics out of politics. It’s the system that gave Louisiana the run-off from hell in 1991: the Charming Crook versus the Kreepy Klansman. Mercifully, things turned out well yesterday despite this goofy system. The best way to check the Kaiser of Chaos is to retake the House and unleash the subpoena power. Then Scott Pruitt will really have to go to the mattresses.

The teevee punditocracy insist on calling the open/top two system the jungle primary. It has the virtue of being dramatic, it certainly beats the hell out of a *fourth* term of art: non-partisan blanket primary. I hate to be a wet blanket but that sounds like a dull and wonky slumber party.

Jungle primary is a meaningless term that must have been dreamt up by someone who watched too many Tarzan movies on teevee as a kid. I watched a few of those fakakta flicks on TCM recently and I cannot decide if they’re from hunger or campy fun. Tarzan even fights the Nazis in a couple of war-time entries. Tarzan good, Nazis bad.

The news from New Jersey was also pretty darn good. Democrats have an excellent chance to flip four seats held by the GOP. There’s even a rising star in the bunch:  former Navy pilot Mikie Sherrill who’s also a graduate of the Naval Academy.

It was a another good night for Democrats. Turn-out was good and the enthusiasm gap was visible; something the inside the beltway pundit class continues to have a hard time spotting. I think Nate Silver nailed it:

They’d rather beat the drums for jungle primaries. You say jungle primary, I say open primary. Let’s call the whole thing off.

What would I do without Ira Gershwin? Or Ella and Louis for that matter:

The Cheaper The Crook, The Gaudier The Patter

Thus spake Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon to the Fat Man’s gunsel Wilmer. Crime fiction buffs out there will recall that Wilmer was the patsy in that classic novel and movie.

I thought of Spade’s put down of Wilmer upon the release of one of what the media insists on calling THE COHEN TAPES. While I dig the way it evokes Watergate, we’re talking digital recordings, not tapes. It’s starting to bug the shit out of me so I thought I’d go on the record and I’m not talking 33’s or 45’s either.

The crook may be cheap and his patter *is* gaudy but there are NO tapes. Repeat after me: THE COHEN RECORDINGS.

That concludes this episode of How Life Imitates The Maltese Falcon.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Rififi

In honor of last night’s series finale of The Americans, I’m revisiting Rifii. It began life as a novel by Auguste le Breton before being adapted for the big screen. It turns out that the movie was such a big hit that le Breton wrote more Rififi books. Our focus is on the original tome with this image of a rather battered early edition:

My father taught me to never trust a man in red suspenders. I made that up but he was not a fan of suspenders.

Let’s move on to some posters for Jules Dassin’s classic movie:

Yeah, I know the pictures are a bit crooked. It *is* a heist movie, after all.

Time for le trailer:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: One Week

Asheville by Willem de Kooning

I’ve mentioned the celestial switch that heralds summer heat in New Orleans. It switched on this week. Yowza. We’ve had record heat almost every day, followed by torrential rain yesterday.  Yowza. We’ve even had the odd afternoon brown-out as the utility company struggles to keep up with demand or so they say. Entergy doesn’t have a lot of credibility after they astroturfed a meeting at which the city council voted on a new power plant for the company. In short, they padded the room with paid actors. They blamed a sub-contractor but nobody’s buying it.

In other local news, two of my friends, Will Samuels, and blog pun consultant, James Karst, had parts on the season finale of NCIS: New Orleans. In honor of their appearance on this fakakta show, we have pictures.

Will is the gent in the shades. He usually wears Hawaiian shirts so I almost didn’t recognize him.

They actually let Karst hold a prop gun. I gotta say he looks like a proper Feeb, skinny tie and all. He’s even in a scene with series regular CCH Pounder best known to me as Claudette on The Shield.

This week’s theme song, One Week, was a monster hit for Barenaked Ladies  in 1998. We have two versions for your consideration. The original video followed by a clip wherein the band reunited with former co-lead singer, Steven Page earlier this year. BNL performed a medley of One Week and If I Had A Million Dollars.

It’s time to count this week’s receipts while we jump to the break. They’re considerably less than a million dollars.

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The Americans Thread: Only Human

There are only two episodes remaining in the final season of The Americans. The episodes keep getting more and more intense. The Summit was the best installment thus far. It contained a major plot development that surprised even me and I’m watching closely. We’ll get to that after the spoiler break.

It’s odd that the show runners haven’t used any Todd Rundgren, with or without Utopia, songs over the course of the series. (I googled it and couldn’t find any without going down an epic rabbit hole. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.) It’s time to rectify that with what amounts to a theme song for this recap.

I’ll explain Only Human‘s relevance after the spoiler break; even if the post is a day late, I know not everyone was watched The Summit yet. Here’s a hint: Gorbachev is the chap in the fedora, the better to hide the splotch on his head.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: In The Still Of The Night

Contrasting Sounds by Wasilly Kandinsky.

It’s been an eventful week in New Orleans. The city celebrated its 300th anniversary and inaugurated our first woman mayor. I expressed my reservations about Mayor LaToya Cantrell on ye olde tweeter tube:

The slogans included “We are woke” and “We will be intentional.” I’m uncertain if that’s intentional grounding or an intentional walk. I dislike the latter baseball tactic as much as exclamation points. I still wish the new mayor well. Her propensity to mangle the language is good for the satire business, and there’s no business like giving a politician the business. I believe in taking care of business, every day, every way.

This week’s theme song, In The Still Of The Night, was written by Cole Porter in 1937 for the MGM movie musical, Rosalie. It was first sung by Nelson Eddy who was in a shit ton of hokey costume movie operettas with Jeanette MacDonald. I am not a fan of the duo but I am a die-hard Cole Porter fan as evinced by the frequent appearance of his work as Odds & Sods theme songs. I considered counting them but I’m feeling as lazy as the president* today. Where did all my executive time go?

We have two versions of the Porter classic for your entertainment. First, the elegant jazz-pop baritone Billy Eckstine aka the Voice of God.

Second, the Neville Brothers featuring some gorgeous sax playing by Charles Neville. He was an acquaintance of mine. Charles died recently at the age of 79. He was a lovely man with a kind word for everyone he met.

It’s time for a journey to Disambiguation City. Fred Parris wrote *his* In The Still Of The Night for his doo-wop group The Five Satins in 1956.

Yeah, I know, Boyz II Men also had a hit with the Parrisian song but I’m not going there. Instead, let’s jump to the break. Now where the hell did I put my parachute?

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The Americans Thread: Rififi

There are only 4 episodes left in the final season of The Americans. I’m excited to see the finish but will mourn the series when it concludes. Life will be empty without Elizabeth’s spy glower, Philip’s spy frown, and Paige’s hideous baby spy wallpaper.

I nearly called this the DVR edition because it’s coming a day late as I was under the weather yesterday. I’m sticking with the episode title Rififi because there’s an Adrastos-Zelig story attached to it. Elizabeth meets a young cinephile at a showing of Jules Dassin’s caper classic. It’s a honey trap operation meet cute as he works for Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sam Nunn.

Here’s my story: I met the blacklisted American director in Athens at a party at a family friend’s flat. Unfortunately, it was *before* I’d seen Dassin’s great late Forties film noirs: Brute Force, The Naked City, Thieves Highway, and Night and the City. All I knew at the time was that he was married to the Greek actress Melina Mercouri and had directed her in Never On A Sunday.  A lost opportunity for an even better Adrastos-Zelig story. So it goes.

Instead of posting a period appropriate rock song before the spoiler break, here’s the trailer for Brute Force, one of the best prison movies ever made. It features a brilliant performance by Hume Cronyn as a sadistic albeit diminutive prison guard:

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Scorching Beauty

Iron Butterfly had an odd career. They were sui generis: one-hit FM radio wonders. Their droning, very long song In-A-Gadda-Da Vida was an underground sensation. They broke up in 1971 and reformed to make Scorching Beauty with only one original member.

The 1975 Iron Butterfly reunion went nowhere but the cover by Drew Struzan is epic. The artist is much more interesting than Scorching Beauty. In addition to album cover artistry, he had a long career as a movie poster artist. It’s time to quote his Wikipedia entry:

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Struzan produced poster work for such films as Blade RunnerThe ThingThe Cannonball Run, the Police Academy series, Back to the FutureE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialThe Muppet MovieComing to AmericaFirst BloodRisky BusinessD.C. CabStroker Ace*batteries not includedAn American Tail, and The Goonies.

This was an interesting rabbit hole to go down. At some point I’ll have to do a post dedicated to Struzan’s other album cover art but let’s start small with Scorching Beauty:

Note that the butterfly’s face is inspired by the robot in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.