Category Archives: Film

Saturday Odds & Sods: Begin The Beguine

Masks by Emil Nolde.

It’s been a long week in New Orleans. The collapsed Hard Rock Hotel sits there like a dagger pointed at our municipal throat. That’s led to concerns about damage to the beautifully restored Saenger Theatre across the street and other historic buildings.

There’s also been some serious conclusion jumping and finger pointing. It reminds me that *all* Americans love to jail people, liberals and conservatives just want to jail different people. TFC. What’s that spell? This Fucking City.  I’ve created a Fish Cheer for 21st Century New Orleans.

In addition to my acronymic exploits, I have a new catchphrase via the Insult Comedian: “They have a lot of sand over there; a lot of sand.” Believe me.

Cole Porter wrote this week’s theme song in 1935 whilst taking a Pacific cruise. It debuted in the Broadway musical, Jubilee.

We have two versions of Begin The Beguine for your listening pleasure: Artie Shaw and his orchestra, and Sheryl Crow from the 2004 Porter bio-pic, De-Lovely.

A quick note about bio-pics. Cary Grant played Cole Porter as a manly heterosexual in the 1946 movie, Night and Day. In 2004, Kevin Kline played Porter as what he was: a gay man in  a “lavender cover-up” marriage with a woman. There was no sex in the first movie, way too much in the second. Neither movie did a good job depicting Porter as a genius songwriter. That’s why we remember Cole, not who he slept with.

Let’s jump to the break whistling, You’re The Top. That’s bound to guarantee a smooth landing unless we land on the Tower of Pisa. In that case, we’ll just have to lean into it…

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: New Orleans Uncensored

This week we go to the movies with New Orleans Uncensored. It’s a tawdry bit of pulp cinema from William Castle who is better known for his horror movies. This flick isn’t horrible but it isn’t great either. The best thing about it is seeing the city in 1955.

Here’s the whole damn movie:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Something’s Gotta Give

Piazza d’Italia by Giorgio di Chirico.

It’s election day in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. As I stated in my last Bayou Brief column, I plan to affix a clothespin and vote for Governor John Bel Edwards. Here’s hoping that we don’t have a run-off with more visits from the Trumps and Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire. They’ve held events in small-ish venues but there have still been empty seats. A good slogan for Pence’s next event would be: Empty Seats For An Empty Suit.

We’re having our first cool front of the year. Fall hasn’t exactly fallen but we’ll take what we can get. The only seasons you can depend on in New Orleans are summer and carnival. I forgot football season: LSU and Florida are squaring off tonight in Red Stick. Here’s hoping the Tigers feast on Gator.

I have a new motto: Surreal times call for Surrealist art. This week’s featured image is by the Italian Surrealist, Giorgio di Chirico who was originally a Futurist. That gives me an excuse to quote Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto: “Oh, maternal ditch.”

If you expect me to explain that quote, you’re out of luck. I’m feeling cryptic like a proper Surrealist if there is such a thing. There were more than a few improper Surrealists if you catch my drift.

The title of this week’s theme song aptly describes our current national situation: Something’s Gotta Give. It was written by Johnny Mercer in 1955 for the Fred Astaire movie, Daddy Long Legs.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Fred Astaire from the movie, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Lets make like Daddy Long Legs and crawl to the break.

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Mandate Of Heaven? Regicide?

Trump’s supporters are becoming as unhinged as their dear leader. They’re having a hard time dealing with impeachment of the man who would be king. They’re increasingly incoherent as one of them shows signs of defecting from the MAGA cult. Can one undrink the Kool-Aid? That’s an existential question best left for another day.

We begin with teevee evangelist Pat Robertson. He’s distressed over the betrayal of the Kurds. He described his distress in rather colorful terms:

“I believe … the president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen,”

Mandate of heaven? Is Trump the emperor of China now? They need to make up their minds as to whether Trump is Pu Yi or George III. They both had swell movies made about them: The Last Emperor and The Madness of King George. Life under Trump is truly stranger than fact-based fiction. As far as I’m concerned, he’ll always be the Kaiser of Chaos:

Speaking of kings, one of Trump’s nuttier fans, lawyer Joseph DeGenova was on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show and defended his demented liege:

“What you’re seeing is regicide. This is regicide by another name, fake impeachment. The Democrats in the House want to destroy the President.”

Impeachment is real, only your king is fake, Joey, baby. Given that you’re up to your eyeballs in the Ukraine mess, you might want to STFU. Silly me: that’s as impossible for Trump apologists as it is for Trumpberius himself.

Speaking of deranged Roman emperors, veteran biblebanger Ralph Reed has a new book in which he makes the case for the religious right’s continued obeisance to the Insult Comedian.  The original title is what Archie Bunker would have called a Real Pip:

According to the book’s description, obtained by POLITICO, the original title for the book was “Render to God and Trump,” a reference to the well-known biblical verse, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” The message from Jesus in Matthew 22, has been used in contemporary politics to justify obedience to government — or in the case of Reed’s book, to Trump.

Blind obedience is just as dangerous as blind ambition. Ralph Reed has exhibited signs of both pathologies in his long career as a wingnut.

What’s next? Will they call Trump a Pharaoh? His border wall is a monument to himself much like the pyramids, after all.

The last word goes to Richard Thompson:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: You Win Again

The Sources of Country Music by Thomas Hart Benton.

It was the hottest September in recorded history here in New Orleans. It’s still fucking hot: we had record highs the first four days of October. I complained about it in the Bayou Brief the other day so I thought I should here as well. We’re allegedly getting some relief next week but I’ll believe it when I see it.

We went to an event at the fancy new-ish Picvocate/Gambit HQ to see local pundits and Adrastos friends Clancy Dubos and Stephanie Grace. I considered heckling but Dr. A wouldn’t hear of it. They talked local and statewide elections. I’m still having a hard time deciding who to support for State Rep since there are 4444 candidates running in our district.

They only took questions via Twitter so I was unable to do my Eddie Rispone impression on the live stream: “Hi, I’m Eddie Rispone. I’m a conservative outsider and Trump supporter.” It’s their loss, y’all.

For the non-Louisianans out there here’s one of Rispone’s ads:

Moderator and Paul Drake fan Kevin Allman moved the questions to the Tweeter Tube because he did not want to have long-winded questions. A wise choice since I was in the audience. To placate me, he asked one of my tweeted questions and Clancy dropped my name so I guess I’ll survive.

Here’s the video of the live stream:

This week’s theme song was written by Hank Williams in 1952. We have two versions of You Win Again for your listening pleasure.: Hank’s original followed by the Grateful Dead. I discovered this and many other classic country song because of them. Thanks, Jerry

Let’s pay a visit to Disambiguation City and meet up with singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter. Her You Win Again was written and recorded in 1990:

Guess what? There’s also a 1987 Bee Gees song with the same title:

Now that we’re three-time winners, let’s jump to the break again and again and again.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Long Black Veil

The Bird, The Cage & The Forest by Max Ernst.

This is the first time since the infancy of this feature that I’ve used the same featured image two weeks in a row. It captures my mood.

We’re attending a memorial service this morning for Gligamesh Homan who died in a horrible accident last week. He was the son of some old friends and was in his freshman year at LSU. I’ll have more about Gil in our second act. Suffice it to say that there’s an open  wound in my circle of friends right now.

I’m not feeling very expansive today so I’m going to keep this week’s outing relatively brief.

This week’s theme song was written in 1959 by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin for Lefty Frizzell. It’s become a staple of the country music repertoire and has been recorded countless times.

We have three versions of Long Black Veil for your listening pleasure: Lefty Frizzell, Gillian Welch, and the Chieftains with Mick Jagger on lead vocals.

Try not to trip over your long black veil as we jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

The Bird, The Cage & The Forest by Max Ernst.

I went on about Max Ernst at the Bayou Brief  so I decided to post another Ernst image here at First Draft. It’s surrealism at its finest. I don’t see a literal bird but that’s one of the things that makes it surreal. It’s weird, man.

I originally planned to put the bite on y’all for our annual fundraiser but I don’t have to. We met our goal so the tin cup rattling stops here and now. Thanks to everyone who donated. Our readers not only rock, they rule.

This week’s theme song was written by Neil Young in 1969 and was the title track of his second solo album. It’s old but still fresh; sort of like me.

We have three versions of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere for your listening pleasure: Neil’s original followed by covers from Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs, and Dar Williams.

While we’re in Nowhereville, here’s a song that you may have heard. If not, climb out from under that rock:

Now that we’ve submerged, let’s splash to the break. Do submarines splash? Beats the hell outta me.  I’m claustrophobic so I’ll never be a submariner like our old pal Jude who was the Prince Namor of First Draft.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Dark Star

Flying Eyeball by Rick Griffin.

Dr. A and I went to the batshit crazy Saints season opener against the Houston Texans. The game had everything: bad calls, great plays, and a crazy ending. Most importantly, the Saints won with a 58 yard field goal by Will Lutz. It was his career long. The crowd was stunned in a good way. My personal streak of the Saints always winning when I sit in our friend Fred’s end zone seats was imperiled but it’s intact. Stay tuned.

This week’s theme song was written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter in 1968. The music of Dark Star is often credited to the entire band, which seems only fair as it’s the ultimate jam band song.

We have two versions of the Dead’s Dark Star for your listening pleasure. First, the single version, which clocks in at a modest 2:44. It’s followed by a more typical second set medley that commences with Dark Star. It comes from the 12/31/78 closing of Winterland show that my younger self attended.

It’s time for a visit to Dismbiguation City with a swell song written by Stephen Stills and recorded by Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1977.

Now that we’ve bathed in the glow of the Dark Star, let’s jump to the break before the Dead go into The Other One. “Coming, coming, coming around.”

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: Town Without Pity

You’re not seeing double. The theme song for Town Without Pity was indeed the theme song for the last Saturday Odds & Sods. I did not, however, include a movie poster or book cover. Here they are:

Here’s the trailer for this underrated Kirk Douglas classic:

Finally, one more version of the theme song; this time an instrumental.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Ol’ Yellow Eyes Is Back

I’m a slacker Star Trek fan. I don’t speak Klingon and I wasn’t aware that Brent Spiner had recorded an album of standards in 1991: Ol’ Yellow Eyes Is Back.

The album title is a play on Sinatra’s Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back. Spiner’s eyes were yellow when he played Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation and subsequent movies.

The album cover is unremarkable. I picked it because of the punny title and Star Trek connection. The music is pretty darn good as well.

Here are some selected tracks:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Town Without Pity

Cover art for Paul Eluard’s Reflections by Max Ernst.

Extreme heat is the price we’ve paid for missing out on Hurricane Dorian. As cranky as I am, I’m glad this heat-bringing high is warding off any tropical activity. I won’t miss it when it’s gone but I’m glad it’s here as Dorian creeps up the east coast. That storm is a relentless motherfucker. The fucker should return to the attic from whence it came.

Drew Brees ate my Friday morning. I hope he buttons his lip and keeps his foot out of his mouth until after Monday’s game.

The featured image is a collage done by the great Max Ernst for a book by his fellow surrealist, Paul Eluard. You may have noticed that I love surrealist art. I use it a lot in this space and have even threatened to post nothing but Ernst and Magritte featured images for Odds & Sods. I’ve also used an Ernst image for my new Bayou Brief column, 13th Ward Rambler.

This week’s theme song was written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington for the 1961 Kirk Douglas film, Town Without Pity.  I’d never seen the movie until last weekend. It’s a cross between film noir, Italian neo-realism, German expressionism, and a Cassavetes flick. I liked it a lot and give it 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+. It’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

We have three versions of Town Without Pity for your listening pleasure: the Gene Pitney original, Stray Cats, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra. My boy Brian knows a hidden treasure when he hears one.

Let’s escape the bleak mean streets of a German town without pity by remorselessly jumping to the break.

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: A Walk On The Wild Side

Nelson Algren was known for his gritty novels. A Walk On The Wild Side was set in and around a New Orleans bordello. It was turned into a movie with an all-star cast in 1962. The producers dropped the A from the title. I did not.

The last word goes to Lou Reed with a song that has nothing to do with either the book or  movie. It’s also not PC in 2019 but it’s still a good song:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Lament For The Numb

Pandora’s Box by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a rough summer in New Orleans. I’m ready for it to end without another flash flood or tropical system. That remains to be seen but one thing is certain: the heat will persist until early October. I’m hoping  my ennui will not.

Thanks, Ashley. I needed that. FYYFF.

We’re staying Down Under with this week’s theme song. Kiwi rock deity Dave Dobbyn wrote  Lament For The Numb for the 1993 album of that name. But it applies equally to America circa 2019. We’re all numb from the antics of our idiot president*.

Here’s another Dave Dobbyn song. It has no deep social significance. I just like it:

Now that we’ve gotten numb and danced with the belle of the ball, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Deeper Water

Gulf Stream by Winslow Homer.

Since we have something of a nautical-as opposed to naughty-theme I thought we’d dive right in without any dockside formalities. I won’t invite you into my stateroom because this might happen:

I would never take a cruise. The thought of doing so reminds me of the not so great Poop Cruise of 2013. Hell, I get seasick contemplating the Winslow Homer painting above.

Let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Singer-songwriter Paul Kelly is often called the Bob Dylan of Australia but he never broke through stateside. Kelly co-wrote Deeper Water in 1994 with Randy Jacobs of Was (Not Was) in case you was (not was) wondering.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. First, the 1995 studio version that was the title track of Kelly’s tenth album. Second, a 2013 live version from a show Kelly did with Neil Finn. For some reason it’s listed as Deep Water but it’s the same tune. Wow, that’s deep, man.

I hope we’re not in over our heads. Let’s mount the diving board and jump to the break.

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President* Pennywise

Image by Michael F.

We recently watched the 2017 movie IT, which is based on the Stephen King novel. I wasn’t terribly familiar with that terrible tale except for the sinister clown Pennywise. I loved the movie and realized that it was remade for two possible reasons: the popularity of Stranger Things and the rise of Trumpism.

Pennywise the evil clown (is there any other kind?) thrives on fear. He gets stronger the more he fearmongers. It’s what emboldens him to get out of the gutter and come into the open. The Insult Comedian never leaves the gutter BUT he too thrives on fear. That’s why I mock him: he feeds off our fear and recoils from our scorn. President* Pennywise is a pussy. He should grab himself.

I don’t see Trump as a figure of fun even though he’s funny. What he’s doing to the country is not funny but he cuts a ridiculous figure as he wreaks havoc. At the risk of sounding like a Reader’s Digest feature, laughter is the best medicine against Trumpism. Their dear leader has no sense of humor unless the joke is on his enemies. That’s why one should laugh at him, not cower, especially when the laughter is provoked by his latest outrageous statement. Remember the Maddow Doctrine:

Words to live by.

I seem to have missed the Insult Comedian’s exchange with California Governor Gavin Newsome during the 2018 campaign. Trump called Newsome a clown, here’s his tweeted response:

SNAP.

Courage is what the resistance to Trumpism requires. I know that many are still traumatized by the 2016 election BUT remember that Democrats won the mid-term popular vote by 9 points. And Trump is running on the same issues that flopped in that campaign.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Trump’s only path to electoral college victory is to destroy his opponent and resort to massive electoral fraud. He will not win the popular vote and has a narrow path to winning the electoral college, particularly with the economy circling the bowl. He’ll try and blame the Fed or Democrats but the voters blame the Current Occupant for economic woes. It couldn’t happen to a “nicer” guy.

Trump’s opponents need to take a deep breath and keep fighting. Remember: this guy and his cretinous followers thrive on your fear just like Pennywise. It’s up to us to look at the big picture and not be pennywise and pound foolish. Laugh at him, mock him, but don’t let him spook you. Victory belongs to the brave at heart. President* Pennywise can fuck off back to Trump Tower in 2021.

The last word goes to Elvis Costello and the Attractions:

 

Pulp Fiction Thursday: The Wrecking Crew

Dr. A and I saw Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood last weekend. We both loved it. I thought it was his best movie since Jackie Brown.

Anyway, Sharon Tate is a character in the movie and went to the cinema to watch her own movie, The Wrecking Crew. Here’s a side-by-side image of Donald Hamilton’s book and the poster for the Dean Martin movie.

It’s trailer time:

The Wrecking Crew became the nickname of a group of elite LA studio musicians. They were celebrated in a documentary of that title in 2015:

Life Imitates The Godfather: Chris Cuomo Edition

I realize that I’m a day late on the Chris Cuomo kerfuffle but I had jury duty yesterday. They keep the juror lounge so cold that one could store a Semifreddo therein without it melting. It’s a frozen Italian delicacy, which the CNN host would be well-advised to to emulate. The dude needs to chill.

Let’s recap our story:

A video emerged on Monday night in which CNN anchor Chris Cuomo can be seen engaged in a tense confrontation with an unknown man and threatening to throw him down some stairs after the man called him “Fredo”.

In the video, reportedly taken in a bar on Long Island on Sunday, Cuomo is irate over a perceived insult from the man, an apparent reference to a character from the Godfather film. Cuomo suggests in the video it was meant as derogatory term for his Italian heritage, similar to the “N-word” for African Americans.

“Punk-ass bitches from the right call me Fredo,” Cuomo says. “My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN. Fredo is from The Godfather. He was a weak brother and they use it as an Italian aspersion.”

Cuomo is the son of former New York governor Mario Cuomo and brother of the state’s current governor Andrew Cuomo.

“I’ll fucking ruin your shit,” Cuomo says as the argument continues. “I’ll fucking throw you down these stairs.”

I’m obviously not a fan of Trumper assholes accosting people they dislike in public but Chris needs to make like a Semifreddo and chill. I plan to use that analogy until my plate is clean…

Calling someone a Fredo is an insult, not an ethnic slur. If this MAGA Maggot walked into a Knights of Columbus meeting and shouted “FREDO” the reaction would NOT be akin to walking into a Zulu meeting and shouting the N-word. I suspect that most of the KOC guys would be confused as opposed to outraged. They’d rather be called a Michael or Vito, after all. Repeat after me: Fredo is an insult, not an ethnic slur.

I’ll give Cuomo credit for sounding more like Sonny Corleone than Fredo:

I am glad, however, that he didn’t beat the MAGA Maggot down and bop him in the bean with a garbage can lid. Sonny would have thrown that worthless fucker down the fucking stairs so Cuomo showed *some* restraint.

In claiming that Fredo is an ethnic slur, not an insult, Cuomo amplified the story. He’s the one who made it about The Godfather, not some loudmouth Trumper asshole. It can’t be easy being Son of Mario and Brother of Andrew: Cuomo’s overreaction seems to reflect a measure of insecurity. A simple “fuck you, asshole” would have sufficed.

The Cuomos have long been hyper-sensitive about the fictional Corleone clan. Papa Mario refused to see the movie for many years because he believed it perpetuated lazy stereotypes about Italo-Americans. Others thought the movies glorified the Mafia. That shows the power of Puzo and Coppolla’s vision: it provoked people and made them think.

In other Life Imitates The Godfather news, we turn to the Roger Stone case:

Stone on Friday told a federal court that he opposed the request by prosecutors to play a clip from Godfather II at his trial, slated to start in November.

The clip was a pivotal scene in the movie in which a witness to Michael Corleone’s criminal conduct recants his testimony at a high-profile congressional hearing. The witness, Frank Pentangeli, backtracks on his testimony after he sees his brother and Corleone show up to watch the hearing.

Prosecutors say they want to play the clip to put in to context messages Stone allegedly sent radio host Randy Credico, who was subpoenaed to appear before Congress. Stone repeatedly referenced Pentangeli in the messages to Credico, according to prosecutors. Stone is charged with making false statements to Congress and witness tampering. He has pleaded not guilty.

Stone has claimed that he referenced Pentangeli because Credico does a good impression of him.

I’ve been known to do Michael Gazzo as Frank Pentangeli myself. It’s painful: not my impression but the voice is so raspy that it hurts to do it. Here’s the scene in question:

Frankie and Freddie were great pals, they’d both surely agree that the real Fredo on our current national scene is this guy:

The analogy breaks down because Don Vito Corleone was brilliant and Don Donaldo, IL Comico Insulto is a dumbass prone to descibing himself as a “very stable genius.” Like father, like son.

It’s easy to imagine Trump Junior saying this:

Repeat after me: Fredo is an insult, not an ethnic slur.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Meet On The Ledge

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner.

It’s the final day of one of the greatest musical festivals in the world: Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. Dr. A and I attended the event’s 40th anniversary in 2007. We actually took a tour, which gave us insider access including a chance to hang out with the super-nice members of Fairport Convention: Dave Pegg, Simon Nicol, Ric Sanders, Chris Leslie, and Gerry Conway. Nancy Covey’s Festival Tours organizes tours for people who don’t like tours. It was the trip of a lifetime and we formed many friendships that still endure. End of travelogue.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson in 1968 for Fairport’s What We Did On Our Holidays album. Meet On The Ledge is a song about death that is somehow life-affirming. It’s often played at funerals and is typically the last song played at every Fairport Convention show. At Cropredy, a cast of thousands joins the band onstage for an epic sing-along.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the Fairport original with Sandy Denny on lead vocals; a solo acoustic version by Richard Thompson, and Fairport and friends closing Cropredy in 2017 with Simon Nicol and Iain Matthews on lead vocals

Now that we’ve met on the ledge and seen all of our friends, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Washable Ink

Salome With The Head Of John The Baptist by Aubrey Beardsley.

My first day of jury duty was uneventful. We waited to be called for voir dire but the call never came and we were out of there by 11 AM. They’re trying fewer cases at Criminal District Court since the DA’s office stopped prosecuting possession of small amounts of weed. An odd but effective move by our old school tough-on-crime DA. Ironies abound.

This week’s theme song was written by a very young John Hiatt for his 1979 album Slug Line. It was so long ago that he had a full head of hair as well as a unibrow.

We have two versions of Washable Ink for your listening pleasure: the Hiatt original and a cover by the Neville Brothers.

Let’s check if this spilled ink is really washable. Color me skeptical: black, red, or blue.

Do they still call newspaper reporters ink-stained wretches? Probably not but it was swell slang.

Time to ink up and jump to the break. I’m not sure what ink up means in this context, but I’m always talking shit. Y’all should know that by now.

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Pulp Fiction Thursday: My Wicked, Wicked Ways

My Wicked, Wicked Ways is technically not fiction as it’s a memoir. But like most memoirs, it takes substantial liberties with the truth, which makes it faction but not factional. It’s definitely pulpy.

I chose Flynn’s memoirs because I’ve been watching some of his classic movies lately, I saw Dodge City for the first time the other day. A major omission as it’s the town-taming movie that Blazing Saddles parodies along with Destry Rides Again.

I guess that covers it. Here are the book covers.