Category Archives: Political Crack

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Ghost Of You Walks

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

Richard Thompson-Edward Hopper month concludes with a perverse pairing of Hopper’s most famous painting and a lesser known RT gem.

There’s not a lot to report this week since we’re on lockdown like everybody else. The polls don’t seem to reflect the Impeached Insult Comedian’s notion that people are desperate to resume normal life and take another bite out of the COVID-19 apple. Even 70% of rank and file Republicans would rather not die. Imagine that. So much for the Trump Death Cult.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for his 1996 album You? Me? Us? Dig those crazy question marks. It also has a cool Max Ernst-like collage album cover, which may turn up some Wednesday. You never can tell.

We have two versions of The Ghost Of You Walks for your listening pleasure. The studio original and a live teevee performance on the BBC’s Later with Jools Holland. The latter is just the two unrelated Thompsons: Richard and Danny.

I’m not afraid of ghosts but if you are, let’s jump to the break to escape.

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Only The Stupid Or Cynical

I’m sure many of you have argued with elderly relatives as to whether President* Pennywise is stupid. Fellow rich guy Rex Tllerson called him a “fucking moron,” after all.

My argument is weirder than yours. My elderly relative is a Hillary loving liberal who loathes Donald Trump, but she refuses to believe that *any* president can be as stupid as Trump seems to be. We’ve gone round and round about this for years.

She stubbornly maintains he’s merely ignorant of the things a president typically knows. I think she’s confusing him with Dubya or Reagan. They were ignorant of some things but not inherently stupid. Their ideology led to them to do stupid things. Reagan was smart enough to listen to his advisers and he even read his briefing books. Imagine that.

I’ve repeatedly pointed out that there’s a difference between lacking curiosity and stupidity. Trump is flat-out, painfully stupid. He’s an idiot, a moron, a dipshit, a dunce, a dolt. Whatever your favorite epithet for stupid is, he’s it.

My elderly relative is a worshiper of mammon so she refuses to believe that a rich person can be as stupid as Trump seems to be. She waives off my argument that he inherited a real estate empire from Fred Trump and ran it into the ground. Who else has ever lost money running a casino?

I’ve been tempted to argue that I’m a semi well-respected internet pundit but if it’s not in print, it doesn’t count. She’s a nonagenarian so making such a pretentious argument wouldn’t work in any event. To paraphrase what I said about Brokaw’s Greatest Generation in Tongue In The Mail: They won the war, so they don’t have to listen.

As everyone already knows, the Impeached Insult Comedian reached peak stupid yesterday:

“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” he said during the White House’s daily press briefing. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? ‘Cause you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs.”

The makers of Lysol felt compelled to issue a safety warning. They should add a new warning label: Listening to President* Trump is hazardous to your health.

After the inject or ingest bleach statement, it’s become even more obvious that only the stupid or cynical can continue to support President* Pennywise. I’ve long thought that the vaunted Trump base is much smaller than people think it is. He lost conservative-leaning college educated suburban women in 2018. He’s never getting them back.

The only way the Impeached Insult Comedian can be stay in office past 2021 is by massive fraud or cancelling the election outright. I remain dubious that he’ll do the latter because he’s so deluded that he still thinks he will not only win but in a landslide. There will be fraud that makes 2016 look like the most honest election in history. Be alert: Don’t let the fuckers steal another election. Your life may depend on it.

As to my stubborn Trump-hating relative who refuses to believe he’s stupid, I’ll quote my favorite dead writer:

The last word goes, not to GV, but to XTC. They, however, anticipated that a President Kill would massacre people by war, not virus:

The Continuing Chaos Chronicles

Are you ready for a follow-up to yesterday’s post? I certainly am.

I focused on the GOP’s chaos principle and the wildly mixed messages they’re sending the public. I particularly had Georgia on my mind:

In Georgia, nitwit Republican Governor Brian Kemp thinks that there’s a safe way to get a haircut. I don’t know about you, but my barber gets up close and personal when shearing my locks. There will be blood on the floor, not hair if any barbers or hairdressers prematurely open their doors. Better shaggy than dead.

Kemp thought he was doing the  Kaiser of Chaos’  bidding but he was betrayed at last night’s campaign rally briefing:

During his daily press briefing on Wednesday evening, Trump said that he wasn’t on board with Kemp’s decision to allow non-essential businesses, such as gyms and salons, to reopen.

Trump told reporters that while he likes and respects the governor, “maybe you wait a little bit longer until you get into a phase two.”

“Would I do that? No. I’d keep them a little longer,” the President said of the social distancing guidelines that encourage non-essential workers to stay home. “I want to protect people’s lives.”

“I’m going to let him make his decision,” he added. “But I told him I totally disagree.”

In keeping with the continuing chaos principle, Kemp is sticking to his guns but Trump gave the Georgian’s enemies ammunition to attack him with. Since Kemp stole the election, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Totally.

It’s unclear what Trump’s reaction qualifies as: throwing Kemp under the bus? Backstabbing? Stabbing him in the front?

The last word goes to The O’Jays and Nick Lowe who have different theories as to what happened:

Another day, another last word fib. How can I skip the state song?

That’s Why I Call Him The Kaiser Of Chaos

This is the third post with this title. The Kaiser of Chaos is my third favorite Trump nickname after the Impeached Insult Comedian and President* Pennywise. One nickname was modified in December, the other is of a more recent vintage, but the Kaiser of Chaos is the one that fits these chaotic times. It’s concise, it’s forceful, it’s descriptive. And now the featured image is in black and white.

I first paired Trump and Kaiser Bill in 2018. It makes even more sense in 2020. The latter wreaked so much havoc and chaos that the Hohenzollern dynasty was deposed at the end of the Great War. That was when the Spanish Influenza upended the world. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Calling members of the current GOP conservatives is a bitter joke. True conservatives prize stability and order above all else. The party of Trump is all about chaos and disorder. It’s not just Kaiser Don, it’s the whole despicable crew:

  • Bill Barr is threatening to join lawsuits aimed at upending the sort of stay home restrictions urged on the country by his master. Coherence be damned.
  • In the Gret Stet of Louisiana, Rev. Tony Spell has been arrested for defying the stay at home orders of Governor Edwards. He called the first COVID-19 death among his flock a fake and a hoax. These bozos should use a thesaurus. Their stage patter is getting stale.
  • In South Dakota, the Trumper Governor is ignoring a COVID-19 breakout at a pork plant. She apparently plans to pork the entire state in the Ned Beatty/Deliverance sense of the word.
  • In Georgia, nitwit Republican Governor Brian Kemp thinks that there’s a safe way to get a haircut. I don’t know about you, but my barber gets up close and personal when shearing my locks. There will be blood on the floor, not hair if any barbers or hairdressers prematurely open their doors. Better shaggy than dead.
  • In Wisconsin, there’s wholesale chaos wrought by the state GOP. I’ve urged our Scout to write about their lethal antics. I hope she does.

This is just a sample of the crazy going on across the country. All these incoherent actions have only one thing in common: CHAOS. They want to blow enough smoke that the nation suffocates. It’s the Trumper version of drowning the government baby in the bathtub.

The only antidote to the chaos and confusion is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Let the Republicans follow the Kaiser of Chaos off the cliff. The original Kaiser of Chaos fled to Holland after abdicating the throne. Let’s send the Kurrent Kaiser packing to Florida where he can hang out with his pal Gov DeSantis. They deserve each other. The country does not.

Since the post is full of K-words, the last word goes to The Kinks; twice because of the Two Kaisers.

Quote Of The Day: Six Feet Under Edition

It’s long been a minor mystery to me as to why Alan Ball’s brilliant HBO series Six Feet Under is so underrated. It was set in a Los Angeles funeral home and ran for 63 episodes from 2001-2005. The funeral home in question was owned and operated by the wildly eccentric Fisher family. The pilot began with the death of the patriarch, Nathaniel, who became a recurring character as the most cheerful dead guy ever.

I suspect Six Feet Under was too unnerving for most people since there was at least one death per episode. That makes it a series for our time since 40,000 and counting Americans have died of COVID-19.

Six Feet Under also had one of the best series finales this side of The Shield or The Americans. I’m not giving anything away by telling you that it depicted the deaths of all the major characters:

If you’ve never seen Six Feet Under this strikes me as an excellent time to do so. The entire series can be found on HBO On Demand and HBO Go. I give it 4 stars and an Adrastos Grade of A. It’s a stone cold classic.

You’re probably wondering where the hell the QOTD of the day is. It comes from my new crush, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. She was responding to the Astroturfed Cosplay demonstrators last week at Lansing:

I’m surprised nobody said that before Gov. Whitmer. It’s another reason for her to be on the former Veep’s Veep short list. I’m still Team Kamala but Whitmer is from a state Democrats need to reclaim from the Impeached Insult Comedian.

The last word goes to Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood and Sam Myers who wrote Sleeping In The Ground:

Of Red Dawns, Unreliable Narrators & Putrid Protests

A lot of shit got real this week. The presidential race returned to the radar screen with endorsements of Joe Biden by former rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The latter stunned Rachel Maddow by giving a one-word answer when asked if she’d take second place on the ticket. The word was YES. I have mixed feelings about the idea. She’d be the best president in waiting BUT Dems would lose a senate seat and I still think Kamala Harris would be the best pick politically. Stay tuned.

I had planned to write separate posts about the subjects listed in the title. But as John Lennon once said, in another song better than Imagine, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Oh hell, I might as well post the video, it’s what I do:

That reminds me of another John Lennon tune from Double Fantasy, which is also much better than Imagine:

We’re all “just sitting here  watching the wheels go round and round” during the lockdown. It’s giving some people ants in their pants.

That brings me to our first subject. I know, it’s the last item in the post title but this fucking flows. Never mess with the fucking flow.

Putrid Protests: There are people tea-partying like it’s 2009. The Michigan protest was pure Teabaggery. It was intensified by Michigander MAGA Maggots who cannot abide a woman governor telling them what to do. I’m surprised nobody had a sign calling Gretchen Whitmer a Governess. That would require wit, which is a quality sadly lacking among the red hat set.

The most appalling thing about this idiotic protest can be seen in this tweet:

In a word: disgusting.

13,000 Michiganders died fighting for the Union in the War of the Rebellion. They died to purge the land of that fucking flag, you stupid motherfuckers. Fuck you. Uh oh, I’m turning into Jude. Fuck that shit.

Governor Whitmer was asked the Veep question by Rachel last night. She wasn’t having it and gave a wordy answer reminding the world that her plate is full right now. And Governor Whitmer strikes me as someone who always cleans her plate before moving on to the next task. Stay tuned.

It’s time for a visual transition:

Red Dawn was a fakakta 1984 movie hatched in the feverish brain of right-wing writer-director John Milius. It told the story of a Soviet invasion of God’s Country. Me, I prefer this comedic take:

Carl Reiner is wearing his angry rug in that lobby card. Fuck you, Alan Arkin.

Red Dawn is also an email string traded by concerned government scientists during the early days of the pandemic. The NYT published a story about it last weekend. It’s devastating to the political hacks and Trumper shitbirds who ignored their dire warnings.

My favorite bit came from an email

Dr. Lawler is an infectious disease specialist when not commenting on Trump’s March Of Folly.

Let’s try another visual transition. I really dug the last one.

The Ultimate Unreliable Narrator: The term unreliable narrator was coined in 1961 by Wayne C. Booth. It often applies to a crime fiction narrator who lies to readers; something I never do in Tongue In The Mail. End of shameless plug.

This unreliable narrator *is* committing a series of crimes but they’re not fictional, alas. I’m talking about the Impeached Insult Comedian who says something one day, changes his mind the next, and denies ever having said it on the third day, which is also the title of an early ELO album.

People keep falling for this nonsense and not just the MSM. My social media feeds were full of people freaking out over Trump’s “I have the power to adjourn Congress” bullshit. He does not and the idea was shot down by the Turtle on the second day. Get a grip, y’all. As some smart ass said on Twitter:

That’s why I call him the Ultimate Unreliable Narrator, the Kaiser of Chaos, the Impeached Insult Comedian, and President* Pennywise.

The last word goes to ELO with a tune from On The Third Day:

 

The Fauci Conundrum

Given the Impeached Insult Comedian’s aversion to the truth, it’s remarkable that Dr. Anthony Fauci still has his job. Fauci is a blunt truth-teller whereas Trump is a verbose liar. In the immortal words of Johnny Mercer, “something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give.”

The divide between Trump and the eminent physician has been there all along but the cracks widened noticeably last weekend. Fauci conceded that the federal response should have come earlier. That led President* Pennywise to retweet some noxious nonsense about the good doctor. We’ve gone from government by tweet to government by retweet. Oy, just oy.

When I was a young political junkie, the media landscape was populated with Kremlinologists who spent their time interpreting signals coming from the Soviet Union’s gerontological leadership. In 2020, we have Trumpologists who spend their time parsing Trump’s tweets and predicting his next tantrum.

Trump is more predictable than Brezhnev and company. He’s likely to fire Fauci in a fit of pique, then regret it immediately since the doctor is among those he’s setting up to be a patsy for the decreasing number of dolts still buying his bullshit. Like a demonic child pulling the wings off a fly, he’s likely to torment and insult Fauci before firing him.

That brings us to the Fauci conundrum. Should he stay or should he go? I think he should stay. Thus far, he’s been able to prevent Trump from making an even bigger mess of things. The Kaiser of Chaos is contemplating a premature reopening of the economy, which could lead to another huge wave of the virus. Someone inside the administration needs to tell him no. Who else will do so? Mikes Pence or Pompeo? Peter Navarro?

Besides, Tony Fauci has been in this spot before with Ronald Reagan and AIDS. So much for everything in the Trump era being unprecedented. Fauci was among those pushing Reagan to acknowledge that plague. It took Rock Hudson’s death from AIDS to get Reagan to admit that it wasn’t just a gay disease. But he did so grudgingly and mostly because of pressure from his wife and children. Unfortunately, Melania is no Nancy and Don Jr. is no Ron Jr. Holy grotesque understatement, Batman.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

The last word goes to Frank Sinatra:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Walking On A Wire

Gas Station by Edward Hopper.

Edward Hopper is associated with scenes of urban isolation and alienation. As you can see, the same thing applies to his rural scenes. That gas station isn’t hopping, which is par for the course for Hopper.

The Gret Stet of Louisiana is making progress with the pandemic. The curve is flattening slightly BUT there’s a big problem with racial disparity among the afflicted. Twice as many black folks have died of COVID-19 related illnesses as white folks. Terrible is an accurate but still inadequate word to capture the horror of this discrepancy. If I believed in using emojis here, I’d insert a sad face BUT:

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson in 1981 for the final Richard and Linda Thompson duo effort, Shoot Out The Lights.

Walking On A Wire is one of the ultimate breakup songs. It’s some serious shit, y’all. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a recent solo acoustic version by the songwriter.

I’m still feeling wiry. Time for some Leonard Cohen as channeled by Aaron Neville.

I’m a bit wired from all that walking on a wire. Keep your balance as we jump to the break.

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Shecky’s Bleak Week In Review: Not So Good Friday Edition

Greetings from Adrastos World Headquarters. There’s not a lot to report on the personal front. Dr. A has settled in to work at home with the occasional foray to the largely deserted Med School building. Not to worry, she essentially quarantines herself in her office. Paul Drake prefers the new status quo; he can photo bomb her Zoom meetings now. The boy is such a ham that his picture may be banned at Mosques and Synagogues worldwide…

Writing continues to be my therapy. The title, of course, refers to the religious holiday occurring today. As I said in Hell Of A Spell at the Bayou Brief:

I was raised Greek Orthodox but I’m not religious. I think of myself as an agnostic, not an atheist, because I can’t prove that there’s no God. But I’ve seen too much lunacy in the name of religion to be a believer. It’s a pity: faith would come in handy now. But blind faith is never a good idea.

That’s why the super group of that name only cut one record. I think it had more to do with the egos of Baker, Clapton, and Winwood; especially Ginger Baker whose picture is in the dictionary next to difficult.

Good Friday makes me think of my favorite cousin. She was so devout that her son went to seminary before changing paths. If he had persisted, he would have been the funniest Greek Orthodox priest in the country. Just call him Father Shecky. How’s that for an ecumenical reference?

This Sunday is what my favorite cousin always called American Easter. It’s Palm Sunday this weekend for Orthodox believers and nothing much for her unorthodox cousin. Don’t get me wrong: I understand why people believe in God; I just don’t happen to myself. Just don’t ask me to bathe in the blood of the lamb or vote for Trump and we’ll get along fine.

It’s time to dismount my soap box and slice this unwieldy post into segments.

Confessions Of A Lapsed News Junkie: I’m rationing my intake of news lately. I’m usually a media sponge but the mounting body count makes my normal level of consumption problematical to say the least.

Does this make me a bad pundit? Hell, no. I’ve just reduced my intake, not eliminated it.

I still know that the Wisconsin election was a farce just as planned by the Cheesehead state GOP. Voter suppression might as well be a plank in the National Republican platform. The only way President* Pennywise can be re-elected is by keeping people away from the polls. And that’s what could happen if pandemic related adjustments aren’t made.

It seems that some Republicans including Little Lindsey are nervous about the impression Trump’s briefings are leaving on the voters. Instead they should look in the mirror and ask themselves: “What have we done?’

Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the presidential race after under performing everywhere but Nevada. I tip my hat to the Senator for his graceful exit, stage left.

Quote Of The Day: Speaking of Greeks, the best thing I’ve seen said about the choice between Biden and Trump comes from my countryman, David Sedaris:

The only candidate who will give you Salmonella is the Impeached Insult Comedian. Vote for him or third party at your own risk.

Viewing Suggestions: I’ve spent a lot of time down a Law & Order rabbit hole via WE-TV who are having a marathon. It’s given me inexpressible joy to spend time with Jerry Orbach, Chris Noth, Jesse Martin, S Epatha Merkerson, Jill Hennessy, Michael Moriarty, Sam Waterston, Carey Lowell, Steven Hill, and my countrywoman, Angie Harmon. Our DVR is groaning with episodes.

Another recommendation is The Pale Horse on Amazon Prime. It’s another uncozy Agatha Christie story starring the great Rufus Sewell. It’s eerie, creepy, and has a helluva twist at the end. Forget I said that and just watch.

Here’s the trailer:

I give this two-part mini-series 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+.

Finally, special thanks to our wonderful across the street neighbor, Alli. She keeps leaving all sorts of swell items on our porch; edible and otherwise.  She’s also one of PD’s favorite people. Last week, he stormed the door and started yowling when he heard Dr. A and his Aunt Alli talking across the street. He never yowls for me.

I made a Blind Faith joke earlier. Here’s one of their best-known and best-loved songs. It’s perfect for an American Good Friday:

Only Trump Can Be Trump

There have been so many disgraceful things about the Trump regime that sometimes it’s hard to pick incidents that will be remembered in ten years let alone one. The USS Theodore Roosevelt/Captain Crozier/Acting Secretary Modley episode will be remembered, especially in the Navy.

Brett Crozier, of course, was the Captain who was so frustrated with the lack of response from his superiors that he leaked a letter expressing his worries about the health and safety of his crew. He expected to be relieved of his command but he did not expect to be publicly insulted by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly:

Now, in the most recent development, a recording of Modly addressing the 4,000 sailors of the Roosevelt has been obtained by Task & Purpose, and it deepens the Navy’s crisis even further. Crozier’s sin, according to Modly, was that he should have known his letter would leak to the press. If he didn’t know this, given the “information age that we live in,” Modly told the crew, “then he was either (a) too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this. The alternative is that he did this on purpose,” and that would be a “betrayal of trust, with me, with his chain of command.”

Gasps are audible on the recording, and one sailor is heard yelling, “What the fuck?” A widely circulated video, shot a few days earlier, showed Crozier disembarking from the ship to the applause and chants of hundreds of his sailors. It is a surefire act of alienation for an acting secretary of the Navy to suggest that the captain—who probably knew he was falling on his sword when he took action to save his men—was naïve or stupid. It’s even worse to suggest that he committed a “betrayal of trust,” when—as every officer knows—betraying the Navy is grounds for court martial.

That’s right, Modly disgraced his office by going full-mini Trump on the aghast crew who, quite rightly, see Captain Crozier as a hero. Additionally, Modly didn’t have the guts to show his face and harangued the crew via the intercom system. This is classic Trumper cowardice. To paraphrase the carrier’s namesake, Trumpers speak loudly and carry small sticks.

The widespread condemnation made Modly plotz. He submitted an actual resignation for his acting post. The Impeached Insult Comedian’s response was typical:

“The captain should not have written a letter, he didn’t have to be Ernest Hemingway. He made a mistake but he had a bad day,” Trump said.

He added on Modly’s resignation: “I had heard he did because he didn’t want to cause any disturbance for our country…  because he wouldn’t have had to resign, I would not have asked him. I don’t know him. I didn’t speak to him, but he did that I think just to end that problem. And I think in really many ways that was a very unselfish thing for him to do.”

It takes a lot of nerve for Trump to use the word unselfish. I’m astonished that it’s even in his tiny vocabulary. The fucker has never done an unselfish thing in his stupid, selfish life.

I’m firmly convinced that Modly was forced out by Defense Secretary Esper because only Trump can be Trump. He’s the one who does the insulting in his administration, not an underling like Modly: Me, not Mini-Me. That’s why I call him the Impeached Insult Comedian.

I usually reserve Separated At Birth for Saturdays but this was too good to wait. The last word goes to Thomas Modly and Eraserhead:

Together Alone

I had a quiet meltdown last night. I felt alternately despairing and furious over all the death in the news. Music lovers had a grim day with the passing of Adam Schlesinger and Ellis Marsalis. Mr. Marsalis was an institution in New Orleans. Because he died during the pandemic, there will be no jazz funeral or second line to commemorate the founder of a jazz dynasty. The death of a beloved and accomplished 85-year-old man should be bittersweet instead of bitter, bitter, bitter.

I’m self-reliant and don’t mind solitude. I’ve never been quite sure if I’m an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert but it’s increasingly apparent that self-isolation is atomizing and alienating. At times, it’s like being a character in one of Ayn Rand’s dreadful novels. We’re focused on ourselves and our own survival instead of the greater good. On the whole, I’d rather be a Dickens character; even one of the cheerful losers like Mr. Micawber. Unfortunately, the federal government is nominally run by a man who makes Mr. Murdstone look empathetic. Trump babbles on about 100-200K deaths as the best-case scenario. Such a thought is monstrous: they’re not numbers, they’re human beings. That’s why I call him President* Pennywise.

The nautical news is particularly disturbing. The story of the aircraft carrier carrying hundreds of sailors stricken with the virus is heartbreaking. There’s no room for social distancing on any naval vessel. They live on top of one another from the Captain to the lowliest squid. They signed up to possibly die for their country in wartime, not because of a president’s unfitness for the job. Mercifully the Navy has found a solution. Unlike their nominal commander-in-chief, they still have the American can-do spirit personified by the ship’s namesake, Theodore Roosevelt.

Things remain bleak off the Florida coast. The cruise ship rejected by Governor DeSantis evokes images of the tragic 1939 journey of MS St. Louis aka the Voyage of the Damned. That ship carried Jewish refugees from Nazi persecution. American refusal to allow it to dock was among the most shameful moments in our history, not one that should be repeated.

The cruise ship crisis cries out for a federal response, but we have a president* who is too busy lying to lead. Our ship of state is rudderless as the captain points the finger of blame. The finger is blood-stained, and we know who to point it at come November.

Between Project Novel and world events, I’ve had the music of Neil Finn and Crowded House on my mind of late. The 1993 song Together Alone haunts me because its title perfectly captures this moment in time. It’s hard to be simultaneously alone and in this together but that’s the situation we find ourselves in. We have no choice but to make it work.

I’ve been with two loved ones when they died. It’s painful for the living but comforting for the dying.  It’s almost an impossibility in this pandemic: COVID-19 requires that friends and families be separated because the risk of contagion is so high. The nature of the disease itself is atomizing and alienating, which is why these Neil Finn lyrics are so poignant:

Together alone
Shallow and deep
Holding our breath
Paying death no heed
I’m still your friend
When you are in need

A reminder that, notwithstanding the indignities of this pandemic, we need to stick together and be there for one another. Death may have no mercy, but it is a must for human beings as is empathy. I curse those who continue to make excuses for a president* whose fatal lack of empathy has made this situation infinitely worse than it should have been.

The last word goes to Crowded House:

My Pillow Talk

Holy misdirection, Batman. I’m not writing about the Doris Day-Rock Hudson-Tony Randall classic, I’m talking about one of President Pennywise’s special guests stars at one of his campaign rally style briefings: the My Pillow Guy.

President Donald Trump used Monday’s White House daily briefing on coronavirus to again parade out private company executives — including My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, who used the platform to praise Trump and tell Americans amid a global pandemic to “read our Bibles.”

MyPillow CEO Lindell said his bedding company would be dedicating 75% of its manufacturing to producing cotton face masks, aiming to get up to 50,000 a day by end of this week. He then said he would read something he wrote “off the cuff.”

“God gave us grace on Nov. 8, 2016, to change the course we were on,” Lindell said, referring to the day Trump was elected. “God had been taken out of our schools and lives. A nation had turned its back on God.”

“And I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the ‘Word,’ read our Bibles and spend time with our families,” he added, touting “our great president” and “all the great people in this country praying daily” as key to getting through the pandemic.

Did he mean preying? Creeps like the My Pillow Guy and his orange messiah have been preying on our fears for years. If people want to pray, that’s okay with me but there’s a price to be paid for believing in a false prophet; make that profit. They profit and you lose.

The best response to this mishigas came from former Gambit editor Kevin Allman:

I wish I had one with Doris and Rock on it but there’s always this:

A reminder that Pillow Talk was racy for 1959. Here’s one more number from the movie featuring Doris and Perry Blackwell:

Rising Anxiety

Fear is almost as contagious as the virus. It’s everywhere on social media, which is why I’m rationing my use. I’m also tired of listening to know-nothing amateur epidemiologists who think they know it all. Access to the internet doesn’t make you a scientist, it makes you someone with too much time on their hands. Oops. That’s all of us right now.

The old NOLA Bloggers email list has been resurrected. I’ll explain why in a moment but a comment there gave rise to this post title. Cliff Harris asked if there would be a Rising Tide Social Distance Conference, Karen Gadbois replied that it should be called Rising Anxiety. I have no interest in a conference reboot, but I like the phrase Rising Anxiety, so I stole it.

Back In The Saddle: The OG NOLA bloggers are rising from a protracted slumber. After Maitri the Magnificent announced the return of her VatulBlog, George Loki Williams asked aloud if he should revive Humid City. In response, I quoted this passage from my recent Bayou Brief column Love In The Time Of Coronavirus:

I started blogging a few months after the levees broke. I didn’t expect to still be writing on the internet 15 years later, but I found my voice. I’m glad that I’m still at it: It’s therapeutic and reduces my anxiety level during this unprecedented crisis. I’d hate to be reduced to venting on social media like some other OG NOLA bloggers. I wish more of them would resume writing. Consider that an invitation, y’all. If you do, I’ll spread the word hither and yon.

I’m a man of my word. Loki announced the comeback at Zuckerville:

Good luck, y’all. Not sure about that whole blame thing but it gives me an excuse to post this Del Amitri song:

The Fantastic Florida Flim Flam: Trumper Governor Ron DeSantis followed the lead of his hero President* Pennywise and announced his state “borders” were closed to cars from New Orleans. Too many people took this illegal, unenforceable, and unconstitutional order seriously. It’s a clumsy attempt to divert attention from this:

The flap is based on a “blame New Orleans for having Mardi Gras” controversy that raged online. I’ll let my friends Stephanie Grace and Clancy DuBos shoot it down. I prefer to save my ammo for higher hanging fruit.

I do, however, agree with the parade route book signer and Herriman biographer:

The Tweet Heard Round The World: Athenae’s boyfriend John Kerry is obviously not planning to run for office again:

I’ve always heard that Big John could be salty in private. Glad he’s shown off his “out of fucks to give” side in public.

That reminds me of a song. I know what you’re thinking: everything reminds me of a song.

Unimaginable: Gal Gadot and some other celebrities have collaborated on a quarantine version of John Lennon’s Imagine. I hate Imagine. It’s one of Lennon’s worst songs.

Here’s a better tune for these trying times:

Bored Boris: The British Prime Minister’s anti-pandemic efforts were just as feeble and late as those of the Impeached Insult Comedian. Adding insult to the injury he inflicted on his country, Bozza is afflicted with the 21st Century plague. Karma is a bitch.

I hadn’t planned to write about the oafish PM until I got a text from my good friend and Spank krewe mate, Greg Hackenberg: “If you aren’t working on a post about Boris Johnson that does not include Peter Gabriel’s I Have The Touch, I’m not sure I know you anymore.”

You still know me, Greg:

Shake those hands, shake those hands…

Finally, Project Novel will begin in earnest at 3 PM today. There’s enough interest in my legal murder mystery, Tongue In The Mail, for me to proceed. I’ll be posting two chapters at a time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It even has its own category, Project Novel: TITM.

Pondering Boris Johnson’s bad karma gave me an instant earworm. The last word goes to Warren Zevon and John Lennon with another song that’s much better than Imagine:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Time To Kill

The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We’re All Milo Minderbinder Now

A brief update from the contagion belt. You may have seen this last night on The Rachel Maddow Show:

We’re sixth in the nation BUT we’re the lone non-New York state hotspot in the top 11 with Jefferson Parish chiming in at #15. Believe me, that’s not where we want to be. Apologies for using one of the Impeached Insult Comedian’s tells: believe me = I am lying like a cheap flea market rug.

My latest at the Bayou Brief will be published either today or tomorrow. It’s, in part, inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez but I prefer to keep it shrouded in mystery. Suffice it to say that every day feels surreal; like a chapter out of a magic realist novel.

Spring has sprung but we will not be sprung from our internal exile any time soon. Let President* Pennywise rant: I’m staying home, staying put, staying out of mischief. I will not be swayed, which reminds me of a song:

In case you were wondering about the post title. Dr. A went to three groceries and CVS to piece together our supply chain yesterday. Milo Minderbinder was the mess officer and master scrounger in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, which is one of the books that most impressed my young, impressionable self. If you’ve never read it, there’s no time like the present. It was magic realism before the term was coined.

Life is not a Cabaret old chum, it’s an extended Catch-22 situation. Here’s how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes Catch-22:

The original catch-22 was a governmental loophole involved in Joseph Heller’s satirical novel Catch-22. Heller’s novel follows the exploits of a bombardier in World War II, and in doing so shines a light on the relentless and circular bureaucracy of war and wartime governments. The term is introduced to describe the apparent loophole, or catch, that prevents a pilot from asking for a mental evaluation to determine if he’s fit to fly:

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to, he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.”

The second paragraph was Joseph Heller speaking. We’re all more or less in a Catch-22 situation in 2020. We’re all Yossarian. We’re all Major Major Major. We’re all Milo Minderbinder now; forever refighting the Toilet Paper Apocalypse. Heaven help us.

That concludes the inaugural edition of Life Imitates Catch-22.

The last word goes to Talking Heads; a song in which “heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.” Sounds a lot like social distancing to me, y’all.

The Day I Get Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of Freedom, man:

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

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

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

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

First some lobby cards:

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

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

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

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

Here’s the trailer:

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

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

The last word goes to Talking Heads:

Shecky’s Bleak Week In Review

I added my nickname to the post title as a signal that my satirical mojo appears to be rising. What the world needs now is to live up to Chuckles the Clown’s motto: ” A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down the pants.” But at a safe distance.

When times are tough, it’s time for the tough to get going. I have no idea what that means but it sounds like inspirational coach speech to me. It’s time for some random and scattershot observations about the latest week from hell.

Insider Trading: The news about 3 GOP Senators selling stocks after a January COVID-19 briefing has resulted in a well-deserved epidemic of condemnation. North Carolina’s Richard Burr is the best known culprit, Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe is the dumbest, and Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler is the richest. Dollars to doughnuts that when Trump is asked about this story, he’ll comment on Loeffler’s looks.

ProPublica described Burr’s action as a stock dump. He took such a big dump on the country that even Tucker Fucking Carlson is calling for his head on a platter:

I’m unsure if this is the sort of insider trading covered by the securities laws but if it is, Burr and his colleagues are in deep shit. My friend Kevin Allman has a novel notion about how this should be treated:

Using my best Ted Allen voice, Senator you have been chopped.

The last word of the segment goes to Van Fucking Morrison:

Kung Flu Fighting? Republican racists are at it again. Following the lead of the Impeached Insult Comedian, they’re calling a stateless bug the Chinese Virus. Past malaka of the week and infamous asshole Texas Senator John Cornyn’s comments were typical:

“China is to blame because the culture where people eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that,” Cornyn told reporters. “These viruses are transmitted from the animal to the people, and that’s why China has been the source of a lot of these viruses like SARS, like MERS, the swine flu, and now the coronavirus.”

That’s why I call him Senator Cornhole. Go eat an armadillo or a rattlesnake, asswipe.

An unknown White House staffer made like the Unknown Comic and called it the Kung Flu.

The origins of the following proverb are in dispute but it surely fits a party whose leader is President* Pennywise:  A FISH ROTS FROM THE HEAD DOWN.

The last word of this segment is beyond obvious:

Let’s close things out with something positive even if it’s a teevee series based on a dystopian work of what-if historical fiction.

The Plot Against America: I read Philip Roth’s brilliant book when it came out in 2004. The David Simon-Ed Burns 6-part adaptation debuted on HBO this week. The first episode is as good as it gets. No, not the Jack Nicholson flick…

Roth’s premise was that FDR lost the 1940 election to Charles Lindbergh. Lucky Lindy’s  fictional win turned out to be bad luck for America. The premise is plausible: the GOP did not nominate an isolationist to run against FDR. The Barefoot Boy from Wall Street, Wendell Wilkie, was an avowed internationalist with few differences on foreign policy with the incumbent. I think Lindbergh would have lost in the real world BUT he might have done much better than Wilkie.

I considered recapping the series but the only show I could do that for was cancelled in 1994: Short Attention Span Theatre.

Finally, please consider contacting your local blood bank about donating blood. I’m not sure what the pandemic process will be but they’re bound to need your blood but not your sweat or tears.

The last word goes to Pete Townshend and David Gilmour:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Game Pieces

The featured image is of Max von Sydow playing chess with Death in the Ingmar Bergman classic, The Seventh Seal. Von Sydow had a long acting career in America; often playing in horror movies. He died earlier this week at the age of 90. This is the first time I’ve ever started a Saturday post with an obit. I like to change things up.

The Seventh Seal is set during the Black Plague. It was an era with clueless and ignorant leaders; much like the US&A in 2020. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

This week’s theme song continues our board game theme. The Game Pieces was written by Chris Leslie and Nigel Stonier for Fairport Convention’s 1999 album, The Wood and the Wire. Here’s a woody and wiry live version:

I’m a lousy chess player but I know a good song about chess when I hear one. Just say Yes:

Now that we’ve established that we’re all good people, let’s take a straight and stronger course to the break.

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Bayou Brief: Ode To Elizabeth Warren & Other Strong Women

Warning: No COVID-19 content. Promise.  Instead, I write about Elizabeth Warren, Mary Landrieu, Lindy Boggs, and my late mother.

Ode is one of my favorite words. I’m quite partial to this song as well:

Keep Your (Safe) Distance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repeat after me: Incompetence Kills.

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

View at Medium.com

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

Tweets Of The Day:  First, some historical perspective:

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

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

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

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

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

Another day, another self-quote.

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

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

The last word goes to Richard Thompson: