Category Archives: Music

Saturday Odds & Sods: Back To Black

Bird Collage by Max Ernst

It was overwrought drama week in New Orleans. Saints fans are genuinely angry in the aftermath of the blown call but things have gotten silly. There’s a futile lawsuit filed by lawyer Frank D’Amico who advertises his services on the tube. He’s getting some free publicity by filing what is best described as a “feel-good frivolous” lawsuit seeking a Saints-Rams rematch. It has as much chance at success as I have of playing in the NBA.

My Congressman, Cedric Richmond, is doing a major pander by threatening a Congressional hearing over the blown call. Hey, Cedric, we’re having a constitutional crisis, and you want to spend time grilling Roger Goddam Goodell?

This week’s theme song was written in 2007 by Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson. Black To Black was the title track of Amy’s final studio album and the sub-title of the great documentary about her life. We have two versions for your listening pleasure:

While we’re at it, let’s throw two more blackened songs into the musical skillet:

Did I really use the term musical skillet? I must be slipping. Speaking of which, let’s slip away and jump to the break.

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Rudy: Confusion Will Be My Epitaph

“I am afraid it will be on my gravestone. “Rudy Giuliani: He lied for Trump.” Somehow, I don’t think that will be it. But, if it is, so what do I care? I’ll be dead. I figure I can explain it to St. Peter.”

Rudy Giuliani, 2019

“Confusion will be my epitaph
As I crawl a cracked and broken path
If we make it we can all sit back and laugh,
But I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying,
Yes I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying”

Peter Sinfield, 1969

The Human Smoke Machine known as Rudy Giuliani has been ubiquitous since the disputed Buzzfeed article was published. It’s a good thing that Rudy’s goal isn’t to clarify matters because he goes on and on and on, belching smoke like a coal-fueled factory. In the immortal words of Macbeth: “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

Rudy’s bizarre defense of president* Trump seems to be as jinxed as a production of Macbeth aka The Scottish Play. Uh oh, I just used the M word twice, which means this post is jinxed too: “Double, double toil and trouble;  Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”

Enough with quotes from the jinxed play, back to Rudy who has made an even bigger mess of things than usual. First, he expanded the Kremlingate timeline by admitting that negotiations about the Moscow project continued during the 2016 election. The president* first claimed to have no business dealings with Russia, then changed his story several times. After walking back the claims he made to the Failing New York Times, Rudy said this to the New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner: “If he had a project in Moscow, there would be nothing wrong with it, but he didn’t.”

In his role as the First Criminal’s mouthpiece, Rudy constantly violates the first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging. Rudy’s frenetic rat-a-tat-tat verbiage reminds me of an ugly version of Walter Burns as played by Cary Grant in His Girl Friday:

Like his client, Rudy has a fatal inability to STFU. They’re both “cock-eyed liars” who spread confusion every time they open their big fat bazoos. It’s proof positive that it’s easier to tell the truth: you don’t have to remember all the lies you told. The truth is alien to both Trump and Rudy. Lying is like breathing to them.

Rudy Giuliani used to be known as the “prosecutor who got Gotti” and as “America’s mayor.” He was even a serious presidential contender before his 2008 campaign collapsed into farce. Rudy is the ultimate Trump dignity wraith. Confusion will indeed be his epitaph,

The last word goes to King Crimson:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Peter Gunn

Peter Gunn was a detective show starring Craig Stevens that ran for 114 episodes between 1958-1961. It’s best remembered for its creator, Blake Edwards, and the marvelous music of Henry Mancini. The theme song has been recorded many times over the years by a wide variety of artists.

Let’s rumble, private eye style:

Finally, here’s a prog rock ringer:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Drinking Again

Subway Portrait by Walker Evans

The weather roller coaster continues in New Orleans but nobody cares because the Saints are playing the Rams in the NFC championship game tomorrow. Our loud fans are bound to blow the roof off the Superdome and it’s going to be raucous everywhere in town. There’s some overconfidence among the fans but very little on the team itself. I still refuse to say Who Dat but I will say Geaux Saints.

In other local news, the Rolling Stones are playing Jazz Fest. I’ve seen the Stones 6 times, but I’m not shelling out $185 for their special day, which is especially expensive. I may just have to listen for free from my top-secret location nearby. Here’s my  only comment on the continuing gentrification of Jazz Fest:

This week’s theme song, Drinking Again, was written in 1962 by Johnny Mercer and Doris Tauber. We have versions by two of the greatest singers ever: Aretha Franklin and Francis Albert Sinatra. Bottoms up.

The song was reworked in 1968 by the Jeff Beck Group:

I hope you’re not too tipsy to jump to the break.

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Quote Of The Day: Maybot Edition

The Maybot by Steve Bell

I’ve been following British politics my entire adult life. In the pre-Brexit era, there were occasional outbreaks of lunacy on the extremes of both major parties. But since the country narrowly voted to leave the European Union, there’s been an unprecedented outbreak of the crazy. It’s as if the Raging Monster Loony Party has seized control of both Labour and the Tories. Yes, there really is such a thing. It’s the real life counterpart of Monty Python’s Silly Party.

That brings me to this week’s events in the House of Commons. First, hapless Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit “compromise” bill was overwhelmingly defeated. Then, the equally hapless Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, tabled a vote of no-confidence in the government. The Prime Minister won that vote since the last thing her party wants to do is face the electorate.

May is a stoical and unemotional leader. That’s why the Guardian’s John Crace dubbed her the Maybot. Remind you of anyone? May, however, makes Willard Mittbot Romney look like a ball of fire.

That brings me to the quote of the day. It comes from a NYT article entitled Theresa May, Britain’s Lady of Perpetual Crisis:

“She is indestructible,” wrote Tom Peck, a sketch writer for the Independent, reflecting on the events of the day. “She is the cockroach in nuclear winter. She is the algae that survives on sulphuric gas from subaquatic volcanoes, seven miles beneath the daylight. She is the Nokia 5210.”

That’s quite a list. The only comparison Peck missed is this one: She is the Keith Richards of Prime Ministers. I’ve long referred to Keef as a human cockroach. Indestructibility is the only thing the two have in common.

The last word goes to (who else?) Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones:

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Winter In America

It’s been cold so I ran a search for winter album covers and came up with Winter In America. This 1974 album is a collaborator between the late, great Gil Scott-Heron and his old friend jazz pianist Brian Jackson. The cover art is by another friend of the duo’s Eugene Coles.

Here’s a nifty inner sleeve collage designed by Peggy Harris:

I’d never heard this album until this week. It’s pretty darn good.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Because The Night

Twelfth Night Revelers Pageant Design by Charles Briton, 1871

Carnival is in its early stages but it’s beginning to eat my life. That may sound cannibalistic but I’ve always been fascinated by the Donner Party, so I’m down with cannibals. But I was never big on the band Fine Young Cannibals. I like music with more bite. All FYC ever did was was drive me crazy. Hmm, FYC sounds like KFC and you know what they say about chicken…

Last Sunday was Twelfth Night proper so Dr. A and I attended the launch party of a new business owned by our friends Will and Jennifer Samuels. It’s called the King Cake Hub and they sell a wide variety of King Cake from numerous local bakeries. And New Orleanians are obsessed with King Cake.

The King Cake Hub’s location has added to the local interest: the Mortuary at 4800 Canal Street. It used to be a genuine mortuary and is currently home to an elaborate haunted house every fall. If you don’t believe me, it’s picture time:

I knew Will before he became a King Cake impresario and was a pizza man; not to be confused with Frank Furillo of Hill Street Blues. I wish him well in his new venture. End of semi-shameless unpaid commercial plug.

Henceforth there shall be no more shilling. Isn’t “thou shall not shill” one of The Ten Commandments of Love?

This week’s theme song, Because The Night, has something of a checkered history:

The song was originally recorded by Bruce Springsteen during sessions for his Darkness on the Edge of Town album. He was not satisfied with the song and later declared he already knew he wasn’t going to finish it since it was “a[nother] love song”; the Patti Smith Group was working on Easter in the studio next door, with engineer/producer Jimmy Iovine working on both albums. Iovine gave Smith a tape of the song, she recast it, and it was included on Easter, becoming the first single released from that album.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Patti’s version, Bruce and the E Street live in 2012, and Bruce and Patti teaming up with U2.

WARNING: BONO ALERT.

If that Bono sighting doesn’t make you want to jump to the break, I don’t know what will. So, follow me, trail along.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: The New Lee Dorsey

This 1966 album by New Orleans R&B singer and auto mechanic, Lee Dorsey, was produced by Allen Toussaint who also wrote 11 of the 12 tunes. The backing band was a combo you might have heard of: the Meters.

The full album is not on YouTube so the big hits will have to do:

 

 

I’m Still Wild About Harry

As the Trump government shutdown tantrum slogs along for a sixteenth day, it’s time to take a fond look back at a leader who said what he meant and meant what he said, Harry Reid. And Harry knows what he’s talking about unlike a certain Insult Comedian about whom Reid had this to say:

“Trump is an interesting person. He is not immoral but is amoral. Amoral is when you shoot someone in the head, it doesn’t make a difference. No conscience.” There was a hint of grudging respect in Reid’s tone, which he seemed to catch and correct. “I think he is without question the worst president we’ve ever had,” he said. “We’ve had some bad ones, and there’s not even a close second to him.” He added: “He’ll lie. He’ll cheat. You can’t reason with him.” Once more, a hint of wonder crept into his voice, as if he was describing a rogue beast on the loose in a jungle that Reid knows well.

That’s one of many money quotes from Mark Leibovich’s marvelous profile in the Failing NYT Magazine. It gives me nothing to Leibobitch about. I should apologize for that tortured pun but that part of the governments is shut, unlike the president’s* stupid gob.

Back when many Democrats were too polite to play political hardball, Harry Reid was slugging it out on our behalf. He was one of the few public officials to sound the alarm on Kremlingate when it *could* have made a difference. Chinless Mitch and his ilk were too busy dreaming about huge tax cuts and wingnut judges to do their patriotic duty and call out Russian interference with the 2016 election. I refuse to call it meddling: that sounds like something  a Sixties sitcom mother-in-law would do. Inflicting Trump on the nation is a bit worse than Bewitched’s Endora calling her hapless son-in-law Derwood or Dolphin. Now that’s meddling.

Harry Reid’s main political legacy is his leadership of the Nevada Democratic party. Nevada was once a deeply red state but under Harry’s guidance Nevada Democrats have gone from strength to strength. Nevada’s slow and steady transformation from red to purple to blue was completed in November. It’s a road map that other state parties should emulate but it requires patience in an impatient world.

There’s some sad news in the Leibovich profile:

Reid, who is 79, does not have long to live. I hate to be so abrupt about this, but Reid probably would not mind. In May, he went in for a colonoscopy, the results of which caused concern among his doctors. This led to an M.R.I. that turned up a lesion on Reid’s pancreas: cancer. Reid’s subdued and slightly cold manner, and aggressive anticharisma, have always made him an admirably blunt assessor of situations, including, now, his own: “As soon as you discover you have something on your pancreas, you’re dead.”

Bluntness thy name is Harry Reid. It’s a pity that his health obliged him to retire right before his perfect foe/foil was elected to the White House. While Chuck Schumer is inclined to treat his opponents with kid gloves, Harry always strapped on his boxing gloves as you can see in this blast from the recent past:

In 2016, he dismissed Trump as “a big fat guy” who “didn’t win many fights.”

That’s why I’m still wild about Harry. The last word goes to Eubie Blake and Peggy Lee:

Saturday Odds & Sods: What Can I Say

Golden Gate Before The Bridge by Ansel Adams

We’re having typical early January weather thus far in 2019: gray, gloomy, foggy, damp, and chilly. Some days I’m not sure if we should run the AC or heater. The cats prefer heat but they don’t have a vote.

I’m still warding off the lingering effects of the Broccolini cold. It was a whopper and I’m not referring to the candy. I wonder if that qualifies as a Malteser, which is the brand name for malted milk balls in the U.K. I should probably do some form of penance for that joke but I’ll get on with the post instead.

I realize that it was a bit creepy that I included a Captain & Tennile album cover in my Gone To The Dogs post earlier the same day that Daryl Dragon died. If you think I have premonitive powers, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I barely have first sight, let alone second sight.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Boz Scaggs lately. Boz deserves the sort of revival that his fellow “blue-eyed soul” singer Daryl Hall has gotten. Hall & Oates never recorded an album as good as 1976’s Silk Degrees, after all.

This week’s theme song, What Can I Say, is the opening track of the aforementioned album. What can I say? I like it.

Now that I given you silk degrees in lieu of the second degree, let’s jump to the break.

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Welcome Back, Nancy Smash

Thursdays are usually uneventful but yesterday was a historic day. Nancy D’Allesandro Pelosi became the first person to regain the Speakership since Sam Rayburn in 1955. In some ways, Mister Sam and NDP are similar: Rayburn was a stern, loving, and  forgiving patriarch to the Democratic caucus of his day. Substitute matriarch and that description fits Nancy Smash to a T.

I love watching swearing-in days on Capitol Hill and this one was particularly joyful as Speaker Pelosi invited the children of members to join her on the podium as she was sworn in. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few Republican kids joined in the scrum.

I’ve always been a Pelosi fan. She combines the best qualities of a reformer and a machine politician. She comes by the latter honestly: her father and brother were both Mayors of Baltimore. The Maryland delegation all referred to her as Nancy D’Allesandro Pelosi as did possible future Speaker Hakeen Jeffries who also called her NDP. I like it as it evokes another tough, wily, and brilliant broad, RBG. I plan to steal it now that I’ve given Rep, Jeffries credit.

I’m a sucker for roll calls and this one was a pip. One of my favorite moments was when Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis cast his vote, “Make America Great Again: Nancy Pelosi.” Yeah you right, Steve.

The euphoria will soon fade but the House is in good hands. NDP might not be the best public speaker BUT she’s a brilliant inside player. Michael Steele was chairman of the RNC in 2010, and he’s admitted that they demonized Nancy Smash because she was so “damn effective.”

People also fear powerful women:

There was a brief moment in Nancy Pelosi’s life when she worried she had too much power. She had so many titles in the California Democratic Party, including chairwoman, that she told Lindy Boggs, a Louisiana congresswoman, that she was thinking of giving some up.

That was in 1984, and Ms. Boggs “said, ‘Darlin’, no man would ever think that. Don’t you give anything up,’” Ms. Pelosi said in a recent interview, leaning forward as she mimicked Ms. Boggs’s Southern accent. “And then she said, ‘Know thy power.’”

Yeah you right, Lindy.

Finally, I cannot resist pointing out that Tony Bennett, Tim Gunn, and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart were among Nancy Smash’s invited guests yesterday. I had somehow missed the Pelosi-Dead connection previously but it tickles me:

The fact that the 78-year-old Pelosi loves the Dead isn’t surprising. After all, she represents California’s 12th district, which is comprised of tie-dyed ground zero San Francisco, a city practically synonymous with the Dead. Pelosi, conveniently, happens to be a huge fan. Back in 2015, a source spotted Pelosi at a show during the Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead tour and told the San Francisco Chronicle that the congresswoman “was definitely free-form dancing.” She was also spotted heading backstage during intermission to say hello to Hart.

Loving the Dead is apparently a tradition in the Pelosi clan. “It’s a tough competition in my family for the favorite Grateful Dead song. For myself, it’s ‘Fire on the Mountain,’” the House speaker told fashion designer Tori Burch’s Tory Daily blog in 2015. “‘Ripple,’ however, has been a Pelosi family lullaby for years now. My daughter Christine has sung it to my granddaughter ever since she was three months old, and now my granddaughter sings it herself.”

The last word goes to the Grateful Dead and Jimmie Dale Gilmore with apologies to John B. Sebastian:

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Dog Eat Dog

This week’s canine theme continues with two covers of a 1949 novel, one of which is on the dogeared side:

It’s time for some Thursday morning music:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Gone To The Dogs

Dr. A and I closed out the holidays by watching the AKC dog show on the tube. We’re cat people who also love dogs. Della was horrified and retaliated by snoring loudly while she slept during the festivities. Holy protest snoring, Batman.

Our dog show evening has inspired a dog album cover morning. I picked the covers regardless of whether I like the music or not. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Nuggets

Nuggets was a trailblazing “various artists” album compiled by Lenny Kaye. He dug deep into the archives and produced an album of psychedelic rock and garage band tracks that was a hit in 1972. The album’s punny subtitle says it all: Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era.

Nuggets influenced the punk and new wave bands later in the decade and led to a series of Nuggets albums. It has nothing to do with chicken or the NBA team of the same name.

Here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube for your post-Christmas listening pleasure:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Elf’s Lament

House on Tchoupitoulas Street by Dr. A

I was under the weather for several days, which means that this week’s outing will be somewhat truncated. I don’t have the full Odds & Sods spirit but I’m working on the Christmas spirit. It’s hard for someone inclined to root for Scrooge, the Grinch, and Mr. Potter but I’m giving it the old school try. I’m not quite sure which old school to apply to.

The featured image is a picture of a house a few blocks away from Adrastos World HQ. It’s always seasonally decorated by the elderly black lady who lives there with her son. During Carnival, they like to blast old school soul music. Good god, y’all.

This week’s theme song was written in 2004 by Ed Robertson for Barenaked for the Holidays. The studio version features a guest appearance by crooner Michael Bublé.  It’s unknown if Bublé brought bubbly to the session. The live version flat out rocks in an elvish way.

I’m still a bit enervated from my malady but let’s jump to the break anyway. Hopefully, that pesky Santa and his sleigh won’t be in the way. Neither Donner not Vixen likes me at all. I find Vixen vexatious so the feeling is mutual.

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The Fog Of Scandal: No Sympathy For The Devil

I wrote a rather sympathetic piece about Michael Flynn after Team Mueller filed its sentencing memo. I’m not *retracting* that post BUT my empathy for the disgraced General is gone, baby, gone after the unsentencing hearing in Judge Emmet Sullivan’s courtroom. I’ve gone from “let him up easy” to “lock him up” in less than two weeks.

Flynn’s high-priced lawyers, from the establishment firm Covington & Burling, violated the first rule of litigation: NEVER PISS OFF THE JUDGE. Hell, I learned that on the first day of law school from my Jimmy Stewart soundalike civil procedure  professor, Gary Roberts.

The sin of Flynn’s mouthpieces was to imply in *their* sentencing memo that Flynn was tricked into lying to the FBI by Peter Strzok and Andrew McCabe. They are, of course, the Feebs who have been demonized by the harpies of Trumpistan. Furthermore, the memo claimed that Flynn didn’t know that lying to the FBI was a crime.

To say these assertions are laughable is an understatement. Entrapment is a defense that rarely, if ever, works in Federal Court; just ask the Abscam defendants. Conspiracy theories are even less effective: stuff that flies on Fox News or Info Wars gets shot down in court.

Judge Sullivan was not amused:

Sullivan unloaded on Flynn for lying to the FBI in a January 2017 interview while he was serving in the highest levels of the federal government. The judge appeared outraged by assertions that Flynn was “entrapped” into making false statements to federal agents, as Flynn’s defense attorneys and supporters have suggested over the past few days.

Sullivan asked Flynn if he wanted to delay his sentencing in order “to challenge the circumstances under which” he was interviewed.

“No, your honor,” Flynn replied. “I was aware that lying to the FBI was a crime.”

“I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense,” Sullivan said.

What’s the first rule of lititgation?

That’s a picture of my new hero, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. The specious and downright ridiculous arguments by Flynn’s attorneys led to some plain speaking by the Judge.  It’s what the Brits would call a right bollocking.

When I first read the defense memo, I was gobsmacked by the refried conspiracy theories therein. It was a dumb move after the glowing words about Flynn’s co-operation from the Special Counsel’s Office. The memo blew up what should have been a semi-routine hearing and led to a delay in sentencing. Judge Sullivan would have sent Flynn to jail yesterday. I’m beginning to think that’s where he belongs as well. Watergate whistleblower John Dean was sentenced to 16 months and wound up serving 4 months in the slammer. After this stunt, why should Flynn get a sweeter deal than John Fucking Dean?

I’m not exactly sure what motivated this fuck up by Flynn’s lawyers but hubris is one word that comes to mind. Many wonder if they were fishing for a pardon, but once the extent of his co-operation is revealed, the president* may call Flynn a rat too. Remember: Judge Sullivan has read all the redacted bits of the sentencing memos. He knows the full extent of Flynn’s crimes. I suspect that the reason the Insult Comedian has been fluffing Flynn is that the disgraced General has implicated him. The worst case scenario remains in effect.

One of the sweetest things about the Flynn hearing is that it left egg on the faces of wingnut conspiracy theorists and Trump lackeys alike. Oh, happy day.

Since this is a followup to the more favorable The Fog Of Scandal: Hey Nineteen post, it has the same format including a featured image of the single cover. I somehow doubt Steely Dan would mind being lumped in with the Rolling Stones.

The last word is obvious:

Make that No Sympathy. LOCK HIM UP.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Captain Kangaroo Christmas

I’m too old to have watched Mister Rogers but I have fond memories of Captain Kangaroo. I don’t recall hearing any of his Christmas albums, but even at that young age I was more interested in listening to the Beatles. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Frank Zappa also grew up watching Captain Kangaroo. He had a particular fondness for a supporting character, Mr. Green Jeans. He used the character’s name twice in song titles but changed the spelling of the name just in case CBS felt litigious. The son is the song I like best:

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Look Now

Dresden Street by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

I don’t usually go in for cross-cultural generalizations about the state of the world but for every rule, there’s an exception. And 2018 has been an exceptionally bad year. Hell meet hand basket.

The US, UK, and France have gone to political hell and back in 2018. Our main problem is obvious: a corrupt and deeply stupid president*. In Britain, they’re still paying the price for the Brexit referendum catastrophe, which has resulted in bad leadership in both of the “big parties” and political paralysis. In France, Emmanuel Macron compared himself to Charles DeGaulle once too often, now there are riots in the streets just like in DeGaulle’s day. In 1968, they waved red flags. In 2018, they wear yellow vests. There’s a good chance that Macron will be France’s third consecutive one-term president. Burning it down is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I wish I had solutions for these problems but I’m a pundit, not a prophet. I don’t even have a prophet and loss statement. I can hear them groaning all the way to Bunkie, so it’s time to move on.

This week’s theme song was written in 1969 by John Fogerty for CCR’s Willy and the Poor Boys album. The title has been shortened over time from Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You or Me) by dropping the parenthetical aside. You may have noticed that I live for parenthetical asides but I can live with the deletion of this one. In fact, it’s a delightful deletion.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Creedence original and a 2005 cover by my main man Dave Alvin.

Don’t Look Now is also the title of a fine film by director Nicolas Roeg who died last month. And don’t look now is excellent advice when one jumps to the break: every time I peek, I get dizzier than Tommy Fucking Roe.

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Butina Your Lip

Former Gret Stet Governor Bobby Jindal with Maria Butina.

I have been accused of constructing posts around a punny title. I plead guilty as charged. There’s a lot of that going around this week. The latest to cop a plea is Maria Butina. I have abandoned my futile attempt to popularize the Russian spelling of her name. She’s Two-I Mariia no more. Life goes on and on and on; much like this introduction.

The facts of the Butina case have become somewhat murky. Initially, I compared her to Elizabeth Jennings of The Americans but it looks as if she was more of an influence peddler than a spy; as much K Street as Kremlin.

The prosecution has even withdrawn some of the more sensational characterizations of her activities:

Yet even as prosecutors secured Ms. Butina’s conviction and cooperation, they faced questions about their initial portrayal of Ms. Butina as something like a character out of “Red Sparrow,” the spy thriller about a Russian femme fatale.

Prosecutors had already been forced to back off the most salacious accusations against Ms. Butina — that she used sex as spycraft — and acknowledged in court filings this week that she genuinely wanted a graduate degree, and was not simply posing as a student to live in the United States. They also dropped accusations of her being in contact with Russian intelligence agencies, and that she was only using Mr. Erickson to gain access to other influential Americans.

Agents come in many forms: from the covert to the overt. Butina appears to have been the latter. She bamboozled American gun nuts in broad daylight, revealing them as gullible fools willing to fall for a pretty face and a ridiculous story: a gun rights group in Putin’s Russia? Yeah, right.

There was even a memorable public exchange with the Insult Comedian:

While I still hope that Butina can damage the NRA, it’s unclear how much she knows and who, other than her boyfriend/whatever Paul Erickson, she can hurt. She certainly played them for fools, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Those pictures with PBJ, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, and Wayne LaPierre are priceless.

The minute I heard that she’d agreed to co-operate, I knew that she was not a spy. We usually trade their spies for our spies. I’m puzzled by Butina’s motives in co-operating with prosecutors as she still faces deportation. Failed Russian agents tend not to have a long shelf life when they return home.

Our readers have surely noticed by now that my mind works in weird ways. This time, it has connected Maria Butina and the Rolling Stones. Her American adventure involved making connections with the NRA in the hopes of influencing the Republican party. That, in turn, evokes a song from the 1967 Stones album, Butina the Buttons:

The album’s real name is Between the Buttons and, in the end, the real connection Maria Butina made was with federal prosecutors.

The post title is also Stones inspired. The opening line of Mixed Emotions is “button your lip, baby.” It wasn’t much of a leap to Butina Your Lip.

The Rolling Stones get the last word:

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Tijuana Christmas

I’ve been known to post wacky Christmas album covers in this space. This one has an obvious political subtext in the age of Trump.