Category Archives: Film

Malaka Of The Week: Bill Cassidy

Republican attempts to repeal the ACA started before the ink was dry on the bill.  After the 2010 Teabagger wave election, the House GOP’s hobby was voting for a bill that could not become law because there was a real president ready to veto it. But the bad repeal and replace idea refuses to die. It has more lives than a bad cat thanks to Little Lindsey and one of my senators. And that is why Doctor/Senator Bill Cassidy is malaka of the week.

There’s a lot of talk about the Zombie Health Care bill. The analogy is apt but trite due to the gazillion zombie shows and movies out there. I prefer to think of the Graham-Cassidy atrocity as belonging to the Frankenstein family of horror flicks wherein the characters are reanimated, not undead. The current clusterfuck reminds me of this scene from The Bride of Frankenstein:

That was a (James) Whale of a movie but Graham-Cassidy is an ugly, mean-spirited bill that should be buried, not reanimated.

2017 has been a weird  year in American politics but this week *may* take the cake. We have the supporters of a reality show host president* telling a late night talk show host to STFU and stay out of politics. This is more surreal than a gallery full of gory Dali paintings or any Edward Gorey image for that matter.

The Bill Cassidy-Jimmy Kimmel face-off has really been something. The chat show host has accused the Gret Stet Solon of “lying to my face.” Doctor/Senator Cassidy has compounded the lie by asserting that Graham-Cassidy passes the Jimmy Kimmel Test when it clearly does not. The comedian has asked Cassidy to stop invoking his name but Cassidy has no shame and is unlikely to do so. He’s the center of attention. What pol would exit such a glaring spotlight?

Here’s a tweet from a certain internet smart ass on the Graham-Cassidy-Kimmel mishigas:

I was referring to the fact that Cassidy double billed LSU for his work when he was quacking his way around the Gret Stet public health care system. Take a gander at my publisher’s recent piece about that at the Bayou Brief. That’s right, Senator Malaka is an expert at ripping off the government and poor people. It’s second nature to this so-called moderate.

I also tweeted about the Jimmy Kimmel factor:

I am impressed with Kimmel’s guts and fortitude on this issue.  I am ready to light a torch and stand beside him as we storm Double Bill’s castle or some such shit.

A few words about Cassidy. I called him Cassidybot throughout his successful 2014 challenge to incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. He is stiff, lifeless with beady, sunken eyes, which makes the Frankenstein monster analogy spot on. Cassidy’s Victor Frankenstein was our old “friend” former Senator David Vitter. Vitter recruited Cassidy to run against Landrieu and dictated his campaign strategy. It involved relentless dog-whistle attacks on then President Obama, especially over the ACA. It worked.

As  long as Vitter was in the senate, Cassidy was his creature. He didn’t do anything unless his master approved. I guess he was more like Igor in Young Frankenstein at that point. Vitter’s departure from the political scene left Cassidy adrift: he’s a follower, not a leader. In 2017, Cassidy made fucking up the health care system by fucking over the poor and elderly his life’s work. Graham-Cassidy is the fruit of his labors. I liked him better when he was a fake moderate.

I have no idea what’s going to happen in next week’s vote on this hastily stitched together legislation. It’s the worst version of repeal and replace yet. But it has the aura of respectability of being sponsored by phony moderates like Graham, Cassidy, and Dean Heller whose master is right-wing casino mogul Steve Wynn. It savages Medicaid, which is bad for Louisiana. It stripped away the last bad bill’s  provisions to help with the opioid epidemic, which could put a few votes into play. In the end, it may come down to whether or not John McCain believes what he’s said about restoring regular order. Everything about this bill is irregular including the insane deadline of September 30. This is nuts. Believe me.

Here’s hoping that the MSM will stop calling the likes of Graham and Cassidy moderates. This bill is not only procedurally irregular, it is substantively immoderate. The attempt to destroy the ACA was dead until Doctor/Senator Cassidy reanimated this monster. And that is why Double Bill Cassidy is malaka of the week.

Speaking of monsters, the last word goes to Edgar Winter and Rick Derringer:

 

Nambia Pamby?

After scaring the world yesterday, Donald Trump is trying something completely different: accidental comedy. He *is* an accidental president* after all. Trump seems determined to channel two Groucho Marx characters: Captain Spaulding the African Explorer from Animal Crackers and Freedonia President Rufus T. Firefly of Duck Soup fame. That’s right folks, the Insult Comedian has discovered a new country, Nambia:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised the health system of an African country that does not exist while speaking at a United Nations working lunch with African leaders.

“In Guinea and Nigeria you fought a horrifying Ebola outbreak,” he said. “Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient.”

There is no country named Nambia; it was not clear whether Trump had misread the name of Namibia or Zambia.

Asked to clarify, the White House referred TPM to the National Security Council, which did not immediately respond.

Well, at least Trump isn’t Nambia pamby like that Kenyan Mau Mau fake birth certificate dude. He’s an old-fashioned explorer and a president* in the spirit of Rufus T. Firefly as depicted in this tweet by that Krazy (Kat) guy Michael Tisserand:

Dig that crazy (krazy?) Boy Scout uniform. That reminds me of Trump’s jamboree jam. Ah, sweet memories of other people’s youth.

The last word goes to Captain Spaulding and his admirers who are going Animal Crackers:

Crowd: Hooray for Captain Spaulding, the African explorer.

Groucho: Did someone call me schnorrer?

Roll film:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Nice Work If You Can Get It

Golconda by Rene Magritte

U2 came to town this week but I was involved in another spectacle: babysitting the legendary Child Army so that their parents Cait and Dave could see the Bono bunch. I like early U2 and even the Mick and Keith dynamic between Bono and the Edge but I’m not a fan. Why? I detest the preternaturally pompous Paul Hewson.

Additionally, U2 played the Superdome and I hate, hate, hate stadium concerts. I saw the Stones at the Dome and the sound was atrocious. Dealing with the Benevolent Dictator, Gladowling, and Lagniappe (their social media names) was just as raucous and none of them is a pompous prat like Bono.

Here’s a photo taken by Dr. A that could be entitled Child Army Surrealism. Note the smiling malice of the girl child Lagniappe who is a cross between a cat and Harpo Marx; only she hands you objects instead of her leg.

Lagniappe and the Gladowling.

Eat your heart (hat?) out, Rene Magritte.

Oscar Update: He continues marking but otherwise is feeling fine. We’ve tried everything suggested by the vet and various kitty savants, but are starting to feel like people on My Cat From Hell. At least we understand that it’s not about us but Oscar’s own furry demons. It doesn’t make it easier to deal with. The good news is that our vet has a new plan: to up Oscar’s meds and change his diet. Hopefully, that will help; otherwise we may need Jackson Galaxy.

You may have noticed that I love George and Ira Gershwin’s music. This isn’t the first Gershwin tune to be the Saturday Odds & Sods theme song and it won’t be the last. Nice Work If You Can Get It was written for the 1937 Astaire-Rogers movie A Damsel In Distress. It’s lesser Astaire BUT a major Gershwin tune. I’ll shut up and let Tony Bennett and Billie Holiday carry on.

My friend Kevin at the Gambit Tabloid and I use different words to describe what’s about to happen. He calls it a jump, I call it a break. This insignificant dispute leads to the inevitable Gershwin joke: you say jump, I say break. Let’s call the whole thing off.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy

From Rock Dreams by Guy Peellaert.

We’re in the throes of our annual autumnal tease in New Orleans. Summer isn’t over yet but the lower humidity is a sign that the end is nigh. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to enjoy it since I’ve had a bug that left me woozy and congested all week. So it goes.

I’ve got nothing to complain about since Hurricane Irma is going to Florida. I always feel faintly ghoulish at this time of year. It’s not that I *want* a storm to hit Florida or Texas, I just don’t want one to visit Southeast Louisiana. I have friends in South Florida and my thoughts are with them whether they’re evacuating or hunkering. Be careful out there, y’all.

A quick note about the featured image. It comes from a 1973 coffee table book with art by Guy Peellaert and text by Nik Cohn. I chose it because it’s Hopperish: Edward, not Dennis. Rock Dreams was quite the rage when I was a young rock fan; so much so that somebody stole the book from me not long after I moved out of my parents house. Another Rock Dreams image will turn up later but not the one with the Rolling Stones as SS officers. Oy just oy.

We’re back in almost identical title/different song territory this week. Ray Davies and the Kinks and Paul Rodgers and Bad Company offer their own takes as to what a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy is. I love both songs but if I have to choose, my money is on Ray. Sorry, Paul.

The Kinks got there first so we begin with A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy from 1977’s Misfits album:

Bad Company’s less morose Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy comes from 1979’s Desolation Angels.

If you’re thinking that this week’s focus is music, you get a cookie. I’m not sure what kind but probably one with lots of nuts because Odds & Sods is a nutty feature. We’ll go from nuts to soup after the break.

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Sunday Morning Video: Werewolves On Wheels

You may recall Werewolves On Wheels from Pulp Fiction Thursday a few weeks ago. It’s time to unleash the whole damn movie on an unsuspecting public.

Saturday Odds & Sods: This Summer

Windmills on the Hill by Francoise Gilot.

Prologue/Forward: I wrote this post and timed it for publication before Hurricane Harvey made full landfall. It will be onshore as you read this. It’s gonna be a wet sumbitch. Best of luck to all my friends and readers in the impacted area whether you evacuated or hunkered down. Our thoughts are with you.

Enough sincere shit, it’s time for the main event:

The tropics are becoming more active as August nears an end. It’s unfortunate because the drainage system in New Orleans is still fucked up. I don’t usually get overly nervous when I hear about a new tropical system in the Caribbean, but this year is different. The odds of Adrastos World HQ flooding are slim. As to the rest of the city, that’s not the case. Hopefully, the City will get its shit together but competence is not a hallmark of government in the Crescent City. It’s time for an Adrastos nursery rhyme: Harvey stay away, don’t come again another day.

Have I complained about storm names this year? It’s high time.  The latest storm is Harvey, which is a funny name, not a scary one. Hurricane Harvey reminds me of Harvey the invisible rabbit, Harvey Korman, and this former major league baseball player, coach, and manager:

Admittedly, the chaw is a bit scary, but Harvey Kuenn was famous for being nice and for being the only batting champion traded for a home run champion, Rocky Colavito. Enough about the boys of summer since only Doc and I give a shit about Harvey Kuenn. I would, however, never knock the Rock…

Summer may be winding down where you live but September is often as hot as August in my sultry neck of the woods. We usually get a tease of fall weather but it rarely lasts long before the heat and humidity settle back in until October. That’s life in the Big Easy. Speaking of which, there’s a swell cover story in the Gambit Tabloid about post-Katrina life here: Is New Orleans worth it?  It’s, uh, worth a glance. It proves that old adage: the more things change the more they remain the same. So it goes.

Speaking of summer, it occurred to me this week that my favorite rock songwriting team, Difford and Tilbrook, have written a passel of tunes about summer. This week’s first theme song,  This Summer, begins with a classic line: “Brain engages mouth, mouth expresses thoughts.” That’s how it works in my experience.

I hope you noticed that the late Keith Wilkerson looks like Huntz Hall in this video. He’s the bloke in the blue ball cap. Not only was Keith was more likely to be an East Side Kid than a Bowery Boy, neither Difford nor Tillbrook resemble Leo Gorcey. End of obscure lowbrow comedy reference. I have a million of them…

Happy Days is a song of more recent vintage. It’s about getting out of London on holiday. As a non-resident, London is one of my favorite places to go on vacation. I would propose a house swap but who the hell wants to come to New Orleans in August?

Our final Squeezey ode to summer was one of the band’s first hits and evokes the beach on a warm summer day:

Now that we’ve gone behind the chalet and pulled mussels from the shell, it’s time to insert the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Spirit In The Dark

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

It’s full-bore summer in New Orleans. We’ve had our share of heat advisories this week. All one can do is drink buckets of water, keep out of the sun, and stay in an air conditioned space. It’s a good thing that I’m essentially an indoorsman. It’s too bloody hot to be all outdoorsy and shit.

I usually write about matters personal and local in the Saturday post intro, prologue or whatever the hell this is. But I cannot resist taking a swipe at the idiot president* over his recycling the “Black Jack Pershing pig’s blood on bullets to ward off Muslims” story. First, unlike the Insult Comedian, Black Jack Pershing was an intelligent man who never said or did such a thing. Second, who the hell, with the possible exception of Frank Gaffney, believes this crapola in 2017? Only a very superstitious moron, that’s who. Third, there *is* a New Orleans connection. There’s a General Pershing Street not far from Adrastos World HQ. Some of the streets in my neighborhood were named after Napoleon I’s battles: Cadiz, Bordeaux, Milan, and Marengo to name a few. General Pershing was originally Berlin Street but was renamed while the country was in throes of anti-German hysteria during the Great War. We go through times like that periodically. We’re in one of them now thanks to the Kaiser of Chaos. So it goes.

As to the featured image, I usually steer clear of using an artist’s best known work but how could I resist Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks for this nocturnally named post? Like Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, I Can’t Help Myself.

This week’s theme song was written by Aretha Franklin for her 1970 album of the same name. It’s perhaps the best song the Queen of Soul ever wrote. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Aretha’s original and a duet with Ray Charles from her fabulous 1971 album, Aretha Live at Fillmore West.

It’s hard to top the Genius and the Queen of Soul, y’all. I won’t even try. Well, maybe after the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Touch Of Gray

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère  by Edouard Manet, 1882.

It’s my birthday today. We’re planning a relatively quiet day with dinner at one of the great restaurants in New Orleans, Brigtsen’s. It’s located in an Uptown cottage, not far from the river. The service is great and the food is even better.

A note on the featured image. I’m such a Manet fan that I named a black female cat Manet. She was long-lived and lovable. We had a game that we played together wherein we compared artists. I’d ask “who do you like better, Picasso or Manet?” The answer was always the same: “Manet.” She lived to be twenty, dying in 2005 not long before Katrina. I’m glad she missed the upheaval and disruption of our nomadic evacuation. It’s hard to be a grande dame when you’re on the move.

It’s sad how few pictures we have of our pre-digital camera era cats. This is a good shot of Manet in her Dowager Empress period:

Holy lagniappe catblogging, Batman.

August 1st was the 75th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s birth. I miss Jerry, which is why the Garcia-Hunter tune, Touch of Gray, is this week’s theme song. It was the Dead’s only genuine hit single, which is remarkable given their longevity and popularity.

We have two touches of gray for your listening pleasure: the  VH1 pop up video of their skeletony promo video and a live version from 7/4/1989 in Buffalo. Notice Jerry and keyboard player Brent Mydland touching their own gray hair before launching into the song. Oh well, a touch of gray, kind of suits you anyway. Literal but still swell. Brent died in 199o. I’ve often said that being the keyboard player in the Dead was much like being the drummer in Spinal Tap. I don’t believe in jinxes but this one has a kernel of truth.

Oh yeah, both videos were posted by someone who spelled gray with an E. So it goes.

Now that I’ve made y’all feel old and decrepit, let’s limp to the break.

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: Werewolves On Wheels

I was watching Americans Pickers the other day and one of the pickees was a collector of movie ephemera. Mike Wolfe spotted a poster for a flick that I had no idea existed: Werewolves on Wheels. It was a biker movie made to exploit the success of Easy Rider.

This poster has me wondering if the folks behind True Blood were influenced and/or knew of this movie. You may recall that the biker gang in the teevee show were werewolves. I googled it and came up empty. Woe is me, bop.

It’s trashy trailer time:

Finally, I hate to be a  cliché on legs, but there’s only one way to conclude this post:

 

Deep White House Shakeup Thought

If the new chief of staff is supposedly being all pivoty and cleaning house, why did they let alt-right nutbar Stephen Miller off his chain?  It’s fun how quickly Miller switched his allegiance from  the “beleaguered” Jeff Sessions to Trump.  My head is spinning like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist:

Some people are buying the pivot bullshit. Check out this tweet from former Republican Bruce Bartlett wherein he heaved a sigh of relief:

The problem is that the bull goose loony aka the president* is still there. Besides, today was Miller Time. So much for the shakeup.

 

The Fly On The White House Wall

I have a dream: of a time when political news slows to a crawl in the dog days of summer. Instead, the Kaiser of Chaos (I’m testing a new Trump nickname) lops off another head on a Friday afternoon and the world goes mad. It’s too hot for this shit, y’all. But this is the new normal; make that abnormal.

The Friday news dump involved Trump’s dumping his chief of staff Reince Priebus. One usually wants to be the proverbial fly on the wall, but I’m less certain after learning about one of Reince’s weirder duties. It conjures up images of the 1958 movie, The Fly:

At one point, during a meeting in the Oval Office, a fly began buzzing overhead, distracting the president. As the fly continued to circle, Trump summoned his chief of staff and tasked him with killing the insect, according to someone familiar with the incident. (The West Wing has a regular fly problem.)

I guess I should have called Reince’s ouster a fumigation with Anthony Scaramucci as Tom (The Bug Man) Delay or Dale Gribble.  Did anyone see this van enter the White House grounds last week?

It’s always a white van. Of course, Dale called it a Bugabago but a white van is a white van is a white van. I realize that I’m comparing the super-New Yorker Mooch to two Texans but when you need a wingnut exterminator, you should not Delay in calling Dale…

That was an odd segue even for me. Let’s get this train back on the track. There are two accounts of Priebus’ ouster that floated my boat. (I *should* apologize for the mixed transportation metaphors but I won’t.)  TPM’s Allegra Kirkland (my new favorite name) compiled Reince’s ongoing humiliations since becoming a Trump dignity wraith last year. I savored this waltz down memory lane:

“People assume oh, are you – you must be miserable. You’ve got a horrible job. But I don’t see it that way,” Priebus said in an April 2016 interview with CNN. “I’m not pouring Bailey’s in my cereal, I’m not sitting here trying to find a Johnnie Walker.”

Exactly what someone considering pouring Bailey’s in his cereal might say.

Bailey’s on Cheerios might be a fabulous breakfast combination on Mardi Gras morning. I realize Omar Little would insist on Honey Nut Cheerios but that would be sickly sweet. Besides, he’s fictional, yo:

So much for getting this train back on track; that GIF may have even sunk the boat. Perhaps an automotive GIF will save the day:

The second primo Priebus piece comes from New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi. Her article won the weekend because of this headline, Why the ‘Mooch’ Whacked Reince Priebus. Answer: it was a contract hit. The Insult Comedian made him do it.

One swell thing about Nuzzi’s piece is her list of insulting nicknames for the defenestrated chief-of-staff:

In and out of the White House, Priebus was referred to by all manner of derogatory nicknames centered on the male anatomy, like Rancid Penis, Reince Penis, The Penis, and Little Penis.

Team Trump *is* full of dickheads, pricks, and self cocksuckers, after all. The mild-mannered Priebus was destined to be a phall guy…

The derogatory nicknames make me wonder why Priebus goes by the nickname Reince. That’s right, it’s not his given name as we learn from this 2016 Politico puff piece:

The Chairman has no problem acknowledging he has a unique name that can be difficult to pronounce at first. Here’s a simple trick: Reince rhymes with “pints.”

As it turns out, Reince is actually a nickname for his full name, Reinhold, which has been passed down in his family for years. “It’s what happens when a Greek and a German get married,” Priebus joked.

“My life is very much like My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” 

Dude, if that were the case, you’d be like one of my male relatives and be nicknamed Chris, Nick, Con, Lou, or Pete. Reinhold is a terrible name but Reince is even worse. It’s one reason Charlie Pierce has long called you “obvious anagram Reince Priebus.” Why didn’t you become Butch, Buddy, or even Spanky? It might have spared you some of the penis jokes, except for the last one. One might even say that his fellow Republicans have Priebus envy…

Back to the fly on the White House wall imagery. I selected the double feature poster at the top of the post for a  specific reason: flies are like Trump dignity wraiths. Reince isn’t the first to be swatted and he won’t be the last. The problem in the White House is the psychopath who won the electoral college last fall and enjoys pulling the wings off flies. If General Kelly means business, he would ban the president* from tweeting and not let Scaramucci take the oath of office. That’s right, he’s not even formally on the public payroll yet and he’s already purged Priebus. The Mooch is bulletproof until he upstages the Insult Comedian. Then *his* wings will be pulled off. So it goes.

It doesn’t matter if the new chief of staff is a Marine General, this will happen again and again as long as the Kaiser of Chaos demeans John Adams’ White House with his presence.

The last word goes to Jeff Goldblum as The Fly in David Cronenberg’s 1986 version:

Yeah, I know there were no words but I am a creature of  habit.

Time to swat a fly. Thwack. Splat.

Don’t Play Trump’s Game

The Insult Comedian was a busy boy yesterday. His tweetstorm “banning” transgender people from serving in the military led to a collective freak-out among supporters of LGBQT rights. Here’s the deal: it’s just twitter. A tweet does not have the force of law; as of this writing there has been no follow-through. Zero. Nada. Zip. Bupkis. Tipota.

A tweet without an executive order is meaningless. The military is a mammoth bureaucracy that is based on order and discipline.  It cannot change course based on a whim and a tweet. Some sort of process is required to change personnel policies. That’s why former President Obama had the Pentagon go through two separate processes to allow gay and transgender folks to serve. The brass will salute an orderly process. Only an idiot would salute a disorderly tweet. Repeat after me: nothing that happens on twitter matters.

The policy “shift” came about to pander to wingnuts vexed by Trump’s mistreatment of Jeff Bo. It also has something to do with money for the president’s* stupid wall. It’s a cynical ploy that will never occur without follow through. It may happen but this administration* isn’t known for paying attention to details. Additionally, the federal courts take a dim view of anything that takes rights away from the citizenry. If an order is issued, it will surely be challenged in court. It would be the first travel ban all over again.

I understand why people were upset but freaking out every time this moron tweets something inflammatory is playing into his hands. He’s not a dictator, he just plays one on the tweeter tube. As the risk of sounding like my fake hick Senator John Neely Kennedy: tweetin’ ain’t doin’. Besides,  chicken little-ling never helps.

This whole twitter-based kerfuffle reminds me of the end of Chinatown:

Forget it, y’all. It’s twitter.

UPDATE: It’s good to be right. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says any changes must go through the chain of command. Twitter is not in the chain of command.

I told you so.

Follow Me Boys To The Trumpers Jamboree

When I was a kid, I knew Fred MacMurray as the pipe-puffing, sweater-wearing single father on My Three Sons. He also did a string of successful Disney movies in the Sixties. That’s why I was shocked the first time I heard about Double Indemnity and The Apartment wherein he played rat bastards. When I saw the two great Billy Wilder films, I realized Fred was a helluva actor when he wasn’t playing with Flubber. Instant Old Movie Update: A friend just pointed out that I missed Fred’s rat bastard role in The Caine Mutiny. Oops.

Follow Me, Boys was one of MacMurray’s Disney flicks wherein he played a scoutmaster to a troop that included future movie star, Kurt Russell. The Boy Scouts  of America liked the theme song by the Sherman brothers so much that they considered adopting it as their anthem:

I was an enthusiastic Cub Scout but an indifferent Boy Scout. One camping trip and it was over for me as my father predicted. It wasn’t even an “I told you so” scenario. He *hated* camping because he slept on the ground for three years during World War II and vowed to never do it again. My dislike of dirt sleeping is in the genes, y’all.

I’m not sure if the preceding was a set-up, digressively Maddowesque or both. That brings me to the real subject of this post: the Insult Comedian’s appalling speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree in West By-Gosh Virginia. We’ve all gotten desensitized to the crazy that this president* brings to a big crowd but this was way over the line. Of course, erasing lines is what the Darnold is all about. He thinks that political Norms have something to do with George Wendt’s character on Cheers. Repeat after me: the president* is a moron.

The Boy Scouts are an inherently conservative organization but have traditionally stayed out of partisan politics. That brings us to this edition of:

Trump’s speech was depressingly reminiscent of another leader’s speeches to youth groups. You know, the guy who looked like Charlie Chaplin and ranted like a proto-Trump, only in the original German. Here are a few choice cuts of this rancid speech along with some spirited annotations by yours truly:

You set a record. That’s a great honor, believe me. Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that. We’re going to put that…

We’re going to put that aside. And instead we’re going to talk about success, about how all of you amazing young Scouts can achieve your dreams, what to think of, what I’ve been thinking about. You want to achieve your dreams, I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right?

Remember when it was unseemly for a president to use even mild profanity when speaking to kids? It wasn’t that long ago.  Ideally, a president is supposed to be a role model for children. The Current Occupant is not.

You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp, and it’s not a good place. In fact, today, I said we ought to change it from the word “swamp” to the word “cesspool” or perhaps to the word “sewer.”

I cannot imagine why it’s become a sewer. Oh yeah, because the Trump crime family eats, sleeps, and grifts there now.

I wonder if the television cameras will follow you? They don’t doing that when they see these massive crowds. They don’t like doing that.

<SNIP>

The fake media will say, “President Trump spoke” — you know what is — “President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today.” That’s some — that is some crowd. Fake media. Fake news.

Trump acts like his captive audience was there for HIM. You joined them, not vice versa, dipshit. This speech got tons of coverage. It’s only “fake news” because so much of it was unfavorable.

Secretary Tom Price is also here today. Dr. Price still lives the Scout oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully he’s going to gets the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us.

CROWD: USA! USA! USA!

TRUMP: By the way, are you going to get the votes? He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better. Otherwise I’ll say, “Tom, you’re fired.” I’ll get somebody.

Does he think he’s still on The Apprentice?  That’s when he was mighty like an Omarosa

I decided to skip the weird sex yacht story and his bragging about the 2016 election. We’ve heard it all before. It would be more interesting if he bragged about how they stole the election with the help of his pal Vlad.

The Insult Comedian channeled defrocked teevee big mouth Bill-O in a bizarre non-sequitur:

In the Scout oath, you pledge on your honor to do your best and to do your duty to God and your country. And by the way, under the Trump administration you’ll be saying “Merry Christmas” again when you go shopping, believe me.

Merry Christmas. They’ve been downplaying that little beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying “Merry Christmas” again, folks.

He’s ready to fight the war on Christmas now. It’s high time to bring his soul brother Bill-O into the administration*, at least he speaks in complete sentences. He could be minister of propaganda post-purge when Mooch becomes chief of staff.

In reading the transcript of the speech, it’s easy to discern the written portions. The digressions are all boiler plate Trumpspeak. Believe me.

The worst part of the speech was when he got the boys to boo former president Obama. Obama was a scout, Trump was not. He’s not into unselfishness, honesty or loyalty. He’s the kind of guy who would cheat in the soapbox derby. Actually, he’d hire somebody to cheat for him.

Every time I think Trump has hit a new low, he tops (bottoms?) himself. He thinks the world revolves around him and that everything is about him. There’s a word that describes what he is: psychopath.

Krazy author Michael Tisserand had a lot of fun with the scouting angle on the Tweeter Tube. Here’s a sampler:

I originally planned to give Michael the last word but then I remembered a Nick Lowe tune that, with a  quick title change to Trumpers Jamboree, would be a swell theme song for this post:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Down On The Riverbed

Valley Farms by Ross Dickinson.

Dr. A and I are going to the Antiques Roadshow at the Morial Convention Center today. We’re not 100% certain what we’re taking as of this writing but I’m nervous that she’ll use me as her antique. While I have some patina, I’m not sure how valuable I am. On the other hand, if puns add value I might be worth a few bucks.

A quick political note. Here’s a tweet I sent out marking the resignation of Sean Spicer, the press secretary who could lie and chew gum at the same time:

I chose this week’s featured image because our theme song is tres Californian. So is the artist. The late Ross Dickinson was our friend Bonny’s grandfather. The Bonster went to grad school with Dr. A. End of cronyistic shout-out. Is cronyistic a word? Since I’m Greek I should know; of course, we specialize in nepotism. Unfortunately, the current administration* is giving nepotism a bad name. I take that as an affront to my heritage.

Down On The Riverbed was written by David Hidalgo and Louis Perez for Los Lobos’ fabulous 1990 album, The Neighborhood. The original studio version features John Hiatt singing harmony with some grit but without the syrup. Hominy grits you want with your eggs, Mr. Hiatt? Dave Alvin’s version comes from the 2006 album West of the West whereon he recorded some of his favorite songs written by California tunesmiths.

Now that we’ve been down on the riverbed without drowning, it’s time to don a life jacket (I wish they were still called Mae Wests) and go to the break.

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: Graham Greene

Graham Greene blurred the lines between literary and genre fiction. He was fascinated with the criminal element and spies but had an elegant prose style. He was quite simply one of the best writers of the mid-20th Century.

Here’s  a selection of some of Greene’s pulpier book covers:

Greene’s fertile brain also came up with the story and screenplay of The Third Man, which is one of the greatest films ever made.

First Draft Potpourri: Sanity Clause Edition

I’ve spent the last 177 days feeling like we’re living through a Marx Brothers movie. Until last week, I was certain it was Duck Soup wherein Groucho is the lecherous President of Freedonia, Rufus T. Firefly. The more we learn about Trump Junior’s infamous meeting with the Russian mouthpiece and a cast of thousands, the more it sounds like the stateroom scene in A Night At The Opera. That movie contained this classic exchange between Groucho as Otis B. Driftwood and Chico as Fiorello as they haggled over a contract:

Fiorello: Hey, wait, wait. What does this say here? This thing here.
Driftwood: Oh, that? Oh, that’s the usual clause. That’s in every contract. That just says uh, it says uh, “If any of the parties participating in this contract is shown not to be in their right mind, the entire agreement is automatically nullified.”
Fiorello: Well, I don’t know…
Driftwood: It’s all right, that’s, that’s in every contract. That’s, that’s what they call a ‘sanity clause’.
Fiorello: Ha ha ha ha ha! You can’t fool me! There ain’t no Sanity Clause!

There isn’t one when it comes to being president*, alas. The country needs a sanity pause as well as a sanity clause but we’re unlikely to get either as long as the Insult Comedian watches teevee in the White House.

Let’s break things down First Draft potpourri style. I should post the segment titles in the form of a question but it’s too hot to do so. I have to preserve as many of my diminishing little grey cells as possible.

The Dog Ate The Country: Trump spokescreeps and apologists have been making some very lame “the dog ate my homework” excuses. In this case, it’s more like the dog ate the country. One of my favorites is the “they’re inexperienced” excuse. Paul Manafort was at that meeting. He’s not a rookie, he’s a veteran shitbag. One might even call him a grizzled ratfucker.

The latest lame excuse comes from Trump’s  bible thumping shyster, Jay Sekulow. He opined that the Secret Service should have prevented Trump Junior’s stateroom scene meeting. The Secret Service is supposed to protect family members from outsiders, not themselves. They’d have to expand their remit dramatically since they didn’t stop Billy Carter from meeting with sinister Libyan types when his brother was president. I’ve gotten used to writing president with an asterisk and had to stop myself. We used to have real presidents instead of the mountebank we have now. So it goes.

Let’s move on to health care deform, I mean “reform.”

The Walnuts Factor: The fact that Chinless Mitch has postponed any votes on his health care bill until John McCain recovers from surgery and is back in town is an indication of weakness. As of now, they don’t have the votes.  It’s either going to pass 50-50 or lose by 6 to 10 votes. If it’s a sure loser, the rats will flee the sinking ship but we’re waiting on a third firm no vote to join Susan Collins and Aqua Buddha. Can they make like Claus vov Bulow and have a stunning Reversal of Fortune? Absolutely. As of now they’re more like the comatose Sunny von Bulow…

One more thing. I know people who think that Mitch McConnell is some sort of legislative wizard. When it comes to obstructionism, maybe so. This is an entirely different matter as it involves passing legislation. An online friend of mine compared him to Tom Brady who engineered a wild comeback in the last Super Bowl. A reminder: Brady led an undefeated Pats team into the Super Bowl against the New York Giants and lost. Shit happens. Nobody’s a wizard except in Harry Potter world.

Not Everything Sucks: This is Athenae’s mantra but I felt like borrowing it from her. You can have it back, A. Promise. The BBC announced the identity of the 13th Doctor Who and it’s the first woman, Jodie Whittaker. She’s best known for playing Beth Latimer in Broadchurch, which co-stars the 11th Doctor, David Tennant. It’s a splendid choice.

Some fan boys are acting as if they’ve been castrated but a female Time Lord comports with the Doctor Who universe. There’s *already* an evil female Time Lord, Missy. If you’re not a Whovian, I assume your eyes just glazed over like a rogue donut.

Here’s the BBC announcement tweet:

That concludes this edition of First Draft potpourri. I’m just trying to restore a hint of sanity to the world. I think a sanity clause should be mandatory for future Oval Ones.

I’ll give Groucho and Chico the last word:

Hail Freedonia.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Big Steal

Don Siegel week continues here at First Draft. The Big Steal was Siegel’s first opportunity to direct a first rate cast and he made the most of it.

It’s trailer time:

The Beguileds

I violated my film buff principles when I went to see Sofia Coppola’s remake of Don Siegel’s The Beguiled. I hate remakes, especially remakes of good movies. I was convinced by an article in the NYT that Coppola’s vision was so different from Siegel’s that I should give the remake a chance. Coppola *is* a very feminine director and Siegel was a manly man director of genre films. Their interpretations *are* different but it’s hard to think of any changes that Coppola made that improved the story.  In short, I wish I’d stuck to my guns and stayed away.

Dr. A and I watched the 1971 version again a few days before going to the movies. It’s a terrific, suspenseful, and deeply weird movie with the Civil War as an important character. Eastwood plays a surprisingly chatty Union corporal named John McBurney. It seemed like a better fit for Paul Newman or Jim Garner BUT Clint rocked the part.

The Beguiled is fundamentally a Southern Gothic tale in the tradition of Flannery O’Connor. Coppola has removed some of the elements that made the story juicy, ripe, and entertaining. She’s also desexed the movie and reduced headmistress Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman)  to prim and propertude. Is that a word? Coppola’s movie removes the Gothic from Southern Gothic, which makes it feel more like a southern fried episode of Downton Abbey set in Virginia. It was, however, filmed in Louisiana which is obvious by the landscape. Siegel too filmed in the Gret Stet but his movie was set in Mississippi. That made much more sense.

Then there are Coppola’s offenses against history. First, the Civil War is an after thought to the story. The war provides a menacing backdrop to Siegel’s 1971 film whereas it’s incidental to Coppola’s fixation on atmospherics. Then, there’s the dismissal of slavery in a line of dialogue: “The slaves left.” This is a movie set in the South that has no black characters whereas one of the best performances in Siegel’s film came from Mae Mercer as Hallie the enslaved housekeeper.

I was surprised when I looked up the running times of the two movies and learned that the 2017 version is 12 minutes shorter than the original. It seems much longer as the pacing is as slow as molasses and little happens until the last act. Sofia Coppola has always been much more interested in atmospherics than story-telling.  It’s the fatal flaw in this movie: The Beguiled is not a subtle, nuanced story and Coppola’s attempt to make it one renders it dull and lifeless.

In the end, my issues with Coppola’s movie boil down to my taste in directors. Like the original French auteur theorists, I prefer the work of unpretentious genre directors such as Don Siegel to those filmmakers who are self-consciously arty like Ms. Coppola. It has nothing to do with gender but with style. It’s a pity because I *love* Lost In Translation but I cannot say the same about her latest effort.

I give Don Siegel’s 1971 version of The Beguiled 3 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B and an Ebertian thumbs up. As to the 2017 remake, I give it 2 stars, an Adrastos Grade of C and thumbs down. If anything, Dr. A disliked the remake more than I did because Coppola transformed Miss Martha, the head mistress played first by Geraldine Page and then Nicole Kidman, from a slightly crazy badass into a prim and proper Southern lady. Bad choice.

Next time, I’ll skip the remake.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Garden Of Earthly Delights

The Garden Of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.

The first week of July is when it really heats up in New Orleans. The air is thick and smacks you upside the head when you venture outside. The pace of life slows to a crawl and Oscar and Della can be found sprawled out on our wood floors hoping to cool themselves. Nice work if you can get it.

Later today, I’m going to the silliest annual event in New Orleans. It’s a non-violent running of the bulls thingamabob. The “bulls” are roller girls wielding soft paddles. I do not run. Dr. A and I hang out with our friend Cait and the child army of darkness whilst her husband Dave runs. We all sweat. It’s minosas and donuts for me, y’all. Perhaps I should take a Spank paddle to liven things up:

This week’s theme song is inspired by our Boschian theme. You may have noticed that Hieronymus Bosch’s prot0-surrealist The Garden of Earthly Delights is the featured image. There will be more Bosching about later but I will never head to the mountains and drink Busch beer. You say Busch, I say Bosch. Let’s call the whole thing off. Stop me before I quote Ira Gershwin again.

Back to the theme song. It comes from XTC’s Oranges and Lemons album whose cover was featured of a Wednesday in 2014. That feature was sidelined this week but will return next Wednesay: bad scout’s honor. Welcome to the garden of earthly delights, y’all.

I have another Boschy song for your listening pleasure. It was written and recorded by that self-described “awful little man,” Graham Parker.

Now that we’ve listened to some late-Eighties alternative rock, you deserve a break today. OMG, I sound like Ronald Fucking McDonald. That simply will not do.

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What is the 7th or 8th Commandment?

Thou shall not steal.

I doubt if they’d accept that answer in the form of a question on Jeopardy but different religious traditions number the Ten Commandments differently. Impressed with my indifferent biblical scholarship? Don’t be. I learned about the 4-4 split on Wikipedia. I like to show off my erudition even when I don’t have any. All I know about the Ten Commandments, I learned from Cecil B. DeMille and that big slab of Kosher ham, Charlton Heston. Kosher ham? I know that’s impossible but he played Moses so…

Now that I’ve blasphemed and shit, it’s time for today’s episode of Grifting For Jesus:

The packages that made their way from Israel and the United Arab Emirates to retail outlets owned by Hobby Lobby, the seller of arts and craft supplies, were clearly marked as tile samples.

But according to a civil complaint filed on Wednesday by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, they held something far rarer and more valuable: ancient clay cuneiform tablets that had been smuggled into the United States from Iraq.

Prosecutors said in the complaint that Hobby Lobby, whose evangelical Christian owners have long maintained an interest in the biblical Middle East, began in 2009 to assemble a collection of cultural artifacts from the Fertile Crescent. The company went so far as to send its president and an antiquities consultant to the United Arab Emirates to inspect a large number of rare cuneiform tablets — traditional clay slabs with wedge-shaped writing that originated in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago.

In 2010, as a deal for the tablets was being struck, an expert on cultural property law who had been hired by Hobby Lobby warned company executives that the artifacts might have been looted from historical sites in Iraq, and that failing to determine their heritage could break the law.

Despite these words of caution, the prosecutors said, Hobby Lobby bought more than 5,500 artifacts — the tablets and clay talismans and so-called cylinder seals — from an unnamed dealer for $1.6 million in December 2010.

There’s nothing that makes me happier than some psalm-singing Evangelical son of a bitch being caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Receiving stolen artifacts is a crime against history and, I daresay, the religion the Hobby Lobbyists flaunt or is that flout. This Mesopotamian mess has also inspired a mess of puns. I myself have been Babylon and on…

If you’re an irony fan, the most delicious thing about the Mess in Mesopotamia is that Isis could have been the original sellers. When they’re not destroying or defiling historical artifacts, they’ve been known to sell them to incurious buyers. I guess one could say that fundamentalists of a feather flock together.

I wonder if this puts the kibosh on the proposed bible museum and craft store the Hobby Lobbyists and others of their ilk plan to open at Washington City this fall. I suspect it will go on but there’s going to be some empty space where the stolen artifacts should have been. Perhaps they’ll order up a miracle of some kind. Stay tuned.

Holy Mesopotamian Mess, Batman. It’s what happens when you fail to heed The Ten Commandments of Love:

That concludes this episode of Grifting For Jesus. Dial H for Hypocrisy, pass the collection plate, and play some Genesis: