Category Archives: Sports

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Calling

Tales from Topographic Oceans by Roger Dean.

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

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

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

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

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

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Annual Fundraiser: The Capone Shakedown

I had a lot of fun writing Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort. It occurred to me that I missed the chance to raise some money for First Draft. The last I heard from our publisher/Chancellor of the Exchequer, Athenae, we were 2/3 of the way to our goal of $1650. It’s time to go gangster on your asses:

Don’t worry, Gabby Hartnett won’t get it. The Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs catcher died on his birthday in 1972. Capone was long gone.

Hartnett got in trouble for signing an autograph for Capone’s kid at Wrigley Field. Then commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis called the Cubbie on the carpet and told him not to consort with gangsters. There are many versions of this story but my favorite is that Gabby said to the irascible commish, “You try saying no to Al Capone, Judge.”

That was a long-winded way to ask you to support our annual fundraiser. We’re the most benevolent shakedown artists you’ll ever encounter except for Della. She’s a badass.

The last word goes to the Grateful Dead. Let’s take a trip to Shakedown Street:

Let’s see, I gave you gangsters, baseball, cats, and the Dead. How can you not donate after that? Here’s the link again.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Sweet Dreams

Any Eye For A View by Paul Fleet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Is Yet To Come

Shattered Color by Lee Krasner.

It’s been a long and difficult week for Americans who haven’t imbibed the MAGA Kool-Aid. I already wrote about it on Thursday and Monday so we’re going to keep this introduction snappy and mercifully brief. I wonder if the Insult Comedian would call that a double positive?

This week’s theme song is upbeat and positive in response to all the gloomy shit going on in the world. The Best Is Yet To Come was written for Tony Bennett in 1959 by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh.

We have three versions for your listening pleasure: Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, and Chaka Khan. That’s right, Chaka Khan. She can sing anything, y’all.

This is the second time I’ve used The Best Is Yet To Come as a post title. The first was after President Obama’s re-election in 2012. It’s time for him to eschew the non-political Jimmy Carter post-presidential model, make like Harry Truman and hit the stump this fall. His party and country need him. Give ’em hell, Barack.

I’m not sure where the tree of life is right now, but I long to “pick me a plum.” I’ll figure out how to do so after the break.

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Quote Of The Day: Trump As Bill Laimbeer

 It comes from an Esquire piece by Ryan Lizza:

Jenkins, the congresswoman from Kansas, relayed a conversation she recently had with a factory owner back home, who told her that while the guys on his shop floor “hate” Trump—they are from the Bible Belt, after all, she noted—“they love what he’s doing.” She then offered the most honest explanation I’ve heard for this phenomenon. “It’s kind of like supporting your favorite team and there’s a talented trash-talking personality on the other team,” she said. “That player is the worst human being on the face of the earth, but if that same talented player is on our team, well, you know, they’re our team, so we give him a pass.”

I realize that the Bill Laimbeer reference is dated; make that deliberately dated. He retired from the NBA some 24 years ago. The closest thing in the current NBA is Draymond Green of the Warriors. I googled Green’s politics and learned that he’s a liberal who has been sharply critical of the Current Occupant. Bill Laimbeer, on the other hand, is a wingnut whose relative silence about Trump has more to do with his job as head coach of the WNBA Las Vegas Aces than anything else. Draymond may be a dirty player BUT he doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with the Insult Comedian. Laimbeer does.

In a 2015 malaka of the week post I described Laimbeer thusly:

Bill Laimbeer was the ultimate hiss-provoking cartoon villain of the 1980’s NBA. He was the biggest asshole on the jerkiest great team of all-time, the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons.

<snip>

In his time in the NBA, Laimbeer was the biggest braggart and blowhard in the game. He and his fellow goon Rick Mahorn were known as the “bruise brothers.”

Back to the quote of the day. It strikes me as bang-on correct, which is one of many reasons that I think Trump’s support will slowly wither and die except among hardcore MAGA maggots. It was rocked by Monday’s submissive and low energy performance at the presser with his spymaster. Here’s hoping that more of them will realize that he’s playing for the other team. You know, the one coached by the short guy who’s into poisoning his enemies.

The Strzok Hearing: Shitshow Or Kangaroo Court?

The post title is a rhetorical question: that fakakta hearing was both. It was inevitable in the Trump era that a joint hearing of two Congressional committees would be a shitshow.

I only watched a few hours of the Strzok hearing. In addition to having other shit to do, I found the posturing and Kangaroo Court antics of Congressional GOPers to be tiresome in the extreme. Perhaps that’s because they’re extremists as well as extremely stupid. I’m old enough to remember when *some* Congressional right-wingers were intelligent. The door slammed on that era in 2010 with the teabagger wave election.

As to the witness, he’s a badass with an awesome first name. Peter Strzok held up under withering fire and never called Louis Gohmert Piles and Jim Jordan stupid or Trey Gowdy a weasel. It must have been hard: Strzok is so much smarter than the Kangaroo Court critters who were grilling him. To use a grilled cheese analogy, he did Gouda…

Republicans tried to flip the old adage “actions speak louder than words” on its head. As far as they were concerned, Strzok’s texted words were more important than the fact that he never acted on them. The hearing could have been shut down after the witness pointed out that all he had to do to torpedo the Trump campaign would have been to leak word of the investigation. Instead it went on for 11+ hours of madness.

I learned this week that Peter Strzok was the counter-intelligence agent who cracked the case that inspired The Americans. I saw some members of the twitterazzi compare Strzok to Stan (The Man) Beeman when in fact (fiction?) Strzok is comparable to his first boss, Frank Gaad who was played by Richard Thomas. Good night, John Boy.

The Strzok shitshow won’t change any minds. It was a performance piece staged by House Republicans to support the Kaiser of Chaos by blowing enough smoke to cover the Capitol Dome. You cannot shame the shameless.

Let’s circle back to the post title.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Kangaroo Court as:

  1.  a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted
  2.  a court characterized by irresponsible, unauthorized, or irregular status or procedures

I first heard of Kangaroo Courts when I was a kid. It’s customary for baseball teams to hold them to boost morale and esprit de corps. The judge is usually a veteran player, the best player on the team, or the funniest guy in the locker room. Holy locker room talk, Batman.

Two of the greatest players of the Sixties, Bob Gibson and Frank Robinson, were the judges for the Cardinals and Orioles respectively. That was a long-winded way of posting a picture of Judge Robinson and teammate Davey Johnson both of whom were later managers:

Obligatory San Francisco Giants reference. Frank Robinson was not only the first African-American manager in baseball history, he managed the Giants from 1981-1984. F Robby could do it all: hit, run, field, manage, and judge.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Together

Flying Eyeball by Rick Griffin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Saturday Sun

Cafetiere et Carafe by Jean Dubuffet.

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday Odds & Sods: I Heard It Through The Grapevine

The Memory by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a long, hot pre-summer so far, which has me feeling languid and ennui laden. We went to an anniversary/hurricane season opening day party yesterday at Chez Homan. Long time readers might recall Michael as my blog nemesis. The feud is over and I won.

I’m still suffering withdrawal symptoms from the end of The Americans. A bit of Moscow summer weather sounds rather appealing at this point. Of course, they make you drink vodka so I’ll pass. I guess that makes me as stubborn as a Moscow Mule…

It’s too hot to be wordy so I’ll keep this snappy. I know, famous last words and all that shit.

This week’s theme song was written by the brilliant Motown songwriting team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1966. It was originally recorded by Gladys Knight & the Pips but Marvin Gaye’s rendition was the bigger radio hit. It’s a foolproof song, which has been recorded many times over the years. We’re featuring Gladys, Marvin, and CCR today.

Now that we’ve shared some juicy gossip. lets find some shade and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: One Week

Asheville by Willem de Kooning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Malaka Of The Week: Mo Brooks

Since November, 2016, one of the MSM’s favorite words is unprecedented. Everything is unprecedented. It’s hard to argue that a president* making foreign policy pronouncements on twitter while watching Fox News is NOT unprecedented. It is. It is also aberrant and a textbook example of malakatude.

I’m going to do something unprecedented myself: First Draft’s first two-time malaka of the week. In the past, I’ve avoided repeat offenders because there’s enough malakatude to go around without plowing the same furrow again. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do and that is why Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks is malaka of the week.

Mo Brooks first wore the malakatude crown of shame on June 8, 2014 for some inflammatory and downright idiotic white nationalist rantings. Brooks puts the Mo in Moron. In 2014, Malaka Mo claimed Democrats were waging a “war on whites” because of their uppity president and such.

Since then, Mo finished third in the 2017 GOP Senate primary behind Judge Pervert and Luther Strange. He was only the second craziest candidate in the race. Go figure.

In 2018, we’re getting Mo of the same nonsense as Brooks claims that assassination threats are the reason so many House GOPers are retiring:

“One of the things that’s concerning me is the assassination risk may become a factor,” he said.

Brooks referred to the fact many members of the Republican baseball team are retiring, including Sen. Jeff Flake and Reps. Ryan Costello, Pat Meehan, Dennis Ross and Tom Rooney.

“You have to wonder with that kind of disproportionate retirement number whether what happened in June played a factor,” he said.

So, it’s not scandal or the fact that they’re sure losers in the fall? It’s the Scalise shooting? Does Darrell Issa know about this? Since Mo is running for re-election, I guess that makes him one of the brave ones. Of course, he represents Alabama’s 5th district where white Democrats are rare and you can’t shake a stick without hitting a neo-Klansman. Mo is one brave motherfucker as well as a tribune of malakatude.

My favorite bit of this imbecilic rant is when Mo makes a vague Chinese Cultural Revolution reference without showing any signs that he knows what a Maoist really is:

He also said the “socialist Bernie Sanders wing of society” was pushing for a revolution that would lead to Maoist level of violence.

“There are a growing number of leftists who believe the way to resolve this is not at the ballot box but through threats and sometimes through violence and assassinations,” he said.

Other than social media keyboard warriors, I’m unaware of anyone advocating violent revolution or tooling up to become a 21st Century Gang of Four. The idea of past malaka of the week Jeff Weaver, Nina Turner and cohort donning Mao shirts and waving the little red book at Our Revolution rallies makes me chortle, titter, and even guffaw.

Since Malaka Mo is trotting out the Maoist straw man, it’s time to trot out some good old-fashioned ChiCom rhetoric and call Mo a running dog of the imperialist Trumpist dynasty.

It seems as if Mo is starting a Congressional GOP baseball team conspiracy theory. They’re all retiring because the Mau Mau Maoists are out to get them, which makes this some kind of Obama-Gang of Four conspiracy. Does Alex Jones know about this? He might, however, confuse them with the British rock band of that name. He could always ask his pal Billy Corgan to clarify matters.

It turns out that Malaka Mo is one of the GOP baseball team’s “coaches.” Why does a pickup baseball team need coaches? Is Mo teaching them the spitball? He’s good at scuffing up the truth, after all. Coach Mo conjures up images of Coach, Sam Malone’s lovably dim sidekick/bartender on the early seasons of Cheers. Mo Brooks is his evil twin but every bit as dim. I guess I shouldn’t use the word dim or Malaka Mo will think I’m talking about dim sum, which could make me a Maoist or some such shit. Mmm, dim sum.

Congressman Brooks continues to put the Mo into Moron with his bizarre ideas and convoluted thinking. Republican Congresscritters are retiring because they think they’ll lose their seats and control of the House. Fear of violence is just another lame excuse. And that is why Mo Brooks is malaka of the week.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Go Your Own Way

High Summer, World of Light by Gillian Ayres.

 The April weather in New Orleans has been so fabulous that I’m convinced we’ll pay for it this summer. It’s been cool, sunny, and not muggy. It’s something to hold on during the dog days of summer when it gets hot enough to melt your face and various extremities.

Jazz Fest started yesterday. I’ve gone from loving it to feeling conflicted. I rarely object to change but most of the changes they’ve made post-K have been, well, objectionable. The promoters and their apologists continue to tell us it’s a community oriented festival but they’ve priced most locals out. Oh well, enough bitching. Here’s a quick reminder of the Krewe of Spank’s 2017 theme, which says it all:

This week’s theme song was written by Lindsey Buckingham for Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 masterpiece Rumors. It subsequently became the closing number at most of their shows. We have three versions for your listening pleasure. First, the original studio track followed by a scorching 1997 live version. I believe it melted my face the first time I heard it. Finally, an orchestral interpretation by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Fleetwood Mac has been in the news of late with the announcement of their umpteenth lineup change. Lindsey is out for now. In a backhand compliment to his talent, they’re replacing him with two great musicians: Neil Finn of Crowded House and Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers. If this were a baseball trade, it would be a good one. I’m a diehard fan of both Neil and Mike, so I’m fascinated to hear Fleetwood Mac Mach 4444.

Now that I’ve geeked out, let’s jump to the break. I hope First Draft doesn’t trade me for a blogger to be named later.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Up Above My Head

Trout and Reflected Tree by Neil Welliver.

The weather rollercoaster continues unabated in New Orleans. We’ve gone from air dish weather to heater weather and back again. One day of the French Quarter Fest was rained out, which resulted in wet tourists whining about the wash-out. It was a day I was glad to no longer be a shopkeeper. Dealing with drowned Quarter rats was never any fun.

One of Grace’s colleagues gave us fancy club seats to the Saenger Theatre’s Broadway series complete with free food and valet parking. Thanks, Ritu. We saw Rent, which I liked a lot. The best part of the evening was a bossy African-American woman usher who combined sternness and politeness.  One patron was confused about how they ordered the rows and the usher said, “You’re in row H. It’s the alphabet, m’am. It’s the alphabet.” Fuckin’ A.

You’re probably wondering why an agnostic is posting a gospel tune as this week’s theme song. It’s because Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an amazing singer, songwriter, and character.  Up Above My Head is also a real toe-tapper. What’s not to love about a church lady with an electric guitar? We have three versions: Sister Rosetta, Rhiannon Giddens, and the Jayhawks.

Now that we’re imbued with the spirit, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Shoot Out The Lights

Deux Fois du Noir by Yves Tanguy

We resume our regularly scheduled programming after my Wag The Dog Incoherently post. Somebody’s gotta be normal in these abnormal times.

It’s been an interesting week in New Orleans. A 4,200 gallon oil spill isn’t huge by oil industry standards but it’s stinky enough that residents are raising a stink about it. A good thing: minor oil spills are way of life on the Big Muddy, which could be re-nicknamed the Big Oily or Big Greasy. Either way it’s not good. It’s actually diesel fuel. Vin Diesel was unavailable for comment…

The big local story this week was the sale of Gambit Weekly to the Advocate. Because of savvy management by owners Margot and Clancy DuBos, Gambit is one of the few alt-weeklies that has thrived in the internet era. The deal includes retention of Gambit’s crack editorial team including my friend Kevin Allman as editor. (In the interests of full disclosure, Clancy is also a friend.) Kevin helped bring the publication into online era, which made it an attractive proposition to the Advocate. One reason for the staff retention is that Advocate publisher Dan Shea was purged by the Picayune and has some empathy for other journalists. Imagine that. Besides, the Gambit staff is as talented as all get out. As far as I’m concerned, this is good news as it will allow Gambit to survive in a tough environment for alt-weeklies. Here’s hoping that the Advocate people will keep their word about letting Gambit be Gambit. So far, the signs are good.

This week’s theme song is the title track of one of the greatest break-up albums of all-time. It’s eerie to hear Linda Thompson sing sad songs written by her soon-to-be ex-husband. Shoot Out The Lights has developed into one of the signature songs of Richard Thompson’s live set. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original and a swell cover by Los Lobos.

Now we’ve shot out the lights, let’s take a shot at jumping to the break.

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The Americans Thread: The Baby Spy Blues

There’s so much food chat in Urban Transport Planning that was I was tempted to call this recap Puckett and Pizza. Puckett after the Minnesota Twins great and pizza after, uh. the doughy delicacy. Glenn the arms control dude is a huge Kirby fan and his Twins were headed to a world’s championship in 1987. Other cuisines mentioned included Chinese and Russian but we’ll get to that after the spoiler break. Hint: the dishes involved are neither chow mein nor borscht. Here’s Puckett without pizza:

Glasnost era tensions continue to fill the Jennings ranch house. Philip is pro-Gorbachev whereas Elizabeth is the hard liner’s hard liner. They bicker about what people think back, back, back in the USSR until they realize the absurdity of the argument since neither has been home in 20 years. The key difference between them is that Philip likes being an American but Elizabeth hates it. It’s spy vs. spy, married couple edition.

A brief pre-spoiler break musical interlude. Macca live at Red Square in Moscow. Woo:

And yes, that *was* Putin in the crowd at the 15 second mark. Rock on, Vlad. Woo. Continue reading

Saturday Odds & Sods: In The Mood

Swing Landscape by Stuart Davis.

It’s crawfish season in New Orleans. I’m talking about eating, not catching them. I leave that to the experts. We went to our longtime boiled crawfish restaurant, Frankie & Johnny’s, with some friends from Richmond this week. Several of them were uncertain they’d like the mudbugs but they did. It may be hard work peeling them but it’s worth it. Mmm, berled crawfish.

We’re attending a benefit crawfish boil tomorrow. It’s in support of Team Gleason, a group dedicated to helping ALS patients and their families. It was founded by former Saints player Steve Gleason who has ALS but keeps on fighting the good fight. He’s a remarkable man and it’s a worthy cause. Plus, there’s crawfish and beer involved.

I’m in a swing mood this week so it’s time to break out some Glenn Miller. We have two versions for your musical amusement: Glenn Miller and his orchestra in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade and the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s Gettin’ In The Mood with lyrics by Mike Himmelstein. The tune is the same. Oh yeah.

Now that I’ve got you Lindy Hopping, it’s time to jump to the break but try to do it on the beat.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Don’t Be Cruel

Two Flags by Jasper Johns.

I suspect you recognize the featured image. I’ve used it many times during government shutdowns; most notably in my epic America Held Hostage series in 2013. It’s nice to have some Jasper Johns flags about the virtual house to plug-in when the GOP next decides to shut the government down. If only they’d shut their fucking mouths…

Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day coincide this year. I  expect more bunny related hoaxes than resurrection pranks. The pagan spring fertility thing is more palatable than what Easter means to believers. I’m not one but I like holidays to be straightforward. Now that I think of it, I’m surprised that the biblebangers have never banged on about a war on Easter. It’s bound to happen, they’re the whiniest people in the country. It’s probably why they like the Insult Comedian. It can’t be the hair.

This week’s theme song was written by Otis Blackwell in 1956. Don’t Be Cruel was originally the B-Side of Elvis’ Hound Dog 45 before becoming a hit in its own right. We have two versions of the Blackwell song for your listening pleasure. One from Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, the other from Cheap Trick.

It’s time for Nick Lowe’s variation on the cruelty theme with Cruel To Be Kind on Live From Daryl’s House:

Now that we’ve declared our hostility to cruelty, let’s jump, jive, and wail to the break.

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Stormy Sunday: An Interesting Anticlimax

The tweeter tube was wild before Anderson Cooper’s interview with Stormy Daniels aired. They were impatient with the Kansas-Duke overtime whereas I was thrilled to watch Coach Buy-A-Vowel suffer after screwing up at the end of regulation by not calling a time-out. Coach K struck out.

The hype over AC/Stormy was overwhelming. There was no way it could have lived up to expectations greater than Pip’s and it did not. I was underwhelmed by the hype. I hate hype and always view it with skepticism.

People were hoping that the Stormy/Stephanie interview would be the magic bullet that would slay the monster. It was not, unless that is, Michael Cohen is the monster you had in mind. CBS has reported Trump and his Fixer dined at the White House the night before the interview. Presumably, Cohen ate well-done steak and kissed Don Donaldo Il Insulto Comico’s ring as well as his copious rump. Cohen will continue to maintain his Don had nothing to with the hush money. Nobody will believe him. He’s the perfect patsy.

As to the interview itself, not much new news was made but Stormy/Stephanie was very impressive. She came off more like the madam in a Western than a stripper/porn actress. I’m not sure if she was more  Joanie Stubbs in Deadwood or Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke:

Whatever she is, Stormy/Stephanie was impressive and, more importantly, credible. Her portrayal of Trump as a buffoonish blowhard rang true and she didn’t overstate. I suspect some people hoped that she’d denounce him as a monster and the worst president* ever but that would not have been as effective.

Trump comes off as pitiful. He’s definitely got the worst and creepiest pickup line of all-time: “You remind me of my daughter.” He deserved the spanking he got from her just for that line.

I admit to hoping that Stephanie/Stormy would show a bill from an abortion provider that was paid for by Donald Trump. The only new news was this description of the wise guy style threat she received in Vegas, baby:

Daniels said she was on her way to a fitness class with her infant daughter in Las Vegas when she was accosted in the parking lot.

“A guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone,” she said.

This sounds like something Cohen would hire someone to do but he’s denied it and she, quite rightly, did not tie it to Trump’s Fixer. The Fixer’s lawyer sent a cease and desist letter to Stormy/Stephanie, which will be ignored. Along with flawed non-disclosure agreements, cease and desist letters are a dime-a-dozen in Trumpworld,

I’m not sure where this story goes next. Team Stormy was wise to put her on 60 Minutes, which shows that she’s not in it for a quick pay-off. I don’t think it’s going to cost Trump the support of the horny louts who comprise a slice of his base base. It’s part of the steady drip, drip, drip of scandal. It’s certainly easier for people to understand than Kremlingate. Up to now, the volume of scandals has helped Trump but in the long run, the fog of scandal may prove to be his undoing.

Finally, my favorite part of AC/Stormy fest was when she described Trump watching Shark Week on teevee during their second meeting. I’d like to thank the good people at Slate’s Brow Beat for figuring out which episode it was.

I’m pretty sure Trump identifies with the shark. The problem for him is that the real shark in this case is Team Stormy’s Michael Avenatti, not Michael Cohen who is a fixer, not a litigator. This brings to mind a classic lawyer joke:

Why won’t a shark attack a lawyer swimming in the ocean?
Professional courtesy.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Irish Rover

High Spring Tide by Jack Butler Yeats.

The Irish Channel Saint Patrick’s Day parade is on the day itself this year. I’m not sure if this will increase drunken revelry but I plan to do some day drinking. Dr. A and I have been going to our friends Greg and Christy’s open house for the last 11 or 12 years. It’s hard to be precise since whiskey and beer are involved. Whiskey, of course, is the devil.

The big local news is the death of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson at the age of 90. The local media has done some cringeworthy coverage of this gruff car dealer whose demeanor and voice reminded me of Archie Bunker. The hagiography is a bit much given Benson’s attempt to move the Saints to his *other* hometown of San Antonio as the region reeled from the Katrina and the Federal Flood. He sent his image to rehab with donations to charity, the Super Bowl win didn’t hurt either. He was also a supporter of the GOP and other dubious conservative rich guy causes. As Archie would surely say at this point, goodnight nurse.

This week’s featured image is by the Irish painter Jack Butler Yeats. And, yes, he was related to the poet William Butler Yeats: he was his kid brother. I’m uncertain as to whether he was a pesky one. It would be poetic justice if he were…

Our theme song is a traditional Irish folk song. The Pogues and the Dubliners recorded The Irish Rover together in 1987. It was a hit in Ireland and the UK.

Now that we’ve taken a trip on a ill-fated ship, let’s jump to the break and hope we land in a lifeboat.

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Good night, Jack Hamilton

(Posting a bit early because of a sad bit of news. Hope it’s acceptable. – Doc.)

Of all the baubles and trinkets I’ve collected over the years that adorn my office, one of my favorite ones is a baseball signed by Jack Hamilton, who died earlier today.

Hamilton

The reason I got it was that I taught one of his grandchildren during one of my many stops in journalism education. I still remember her approaching me during our introductory reporting course to ask for special dispensation when it came to her profile.

“I know you said that we can’t do this on family members, but…” she began.

I had heard all sorts of excuses over the years: “I don’t have time to find anyone else,” or “My mom is my hero” or “I don’t know who else I’d do.”

I kind of did that “Justify your existence” thing and said, “Who and why?”

The answer was “My grandfather and he used to pitch in the major leagues.”

I decided it would be OK. After all, I let some kid do a piece on her grandmother because she was Jerry “Beaver Cleaver” Mathers’ mom, so why not a pitcher? Besides, I liked baseball. It was only after she turned in the piece that I realized who this man was.

Jack Hamilton had a relatively pedestrian career record of 32-40 during the heart of the 1960s. He bottomed out with Cleveland and the White Sox in 1969, going 0-5 before retiring. At 6-foot and 200 pounds, he wasn’t a giant, but a solid man who could mix his pitches well. His best season ended up being his most memorable one for all the wrong reasons.

In 1967, he started 2-0 for the New York Mets, who sent him to the Angels for Nick Willhite, who would retire from the game following a 0-1 campaign for New York that season. He was 8-2 and on the way to his only double-digit winning season on Aug. 18 when he threw the pitch that would define his career.

“It was a fastball that just got away.” I remember reading that line in my student’s profile. It stuck with me all these years and it hung with me today. I never heard the man’s voice, but I can hear it over and over in my head.

The one that “got away” smashed into the head of Boston’s Tony Conigliaro, a promising slugger who had already hit 100 home runs faster than any man in the game. The pitch fractured Tony C’s cheekbone, dislocated his jaw and damaged his retina. He sat out all of 1968 and would never really become the player everyone thought he would be.

Hamilton finished the season with an 11-6 record, but he too would never be the same.

“I had trouble pitching inside,” he told his grand-daughter. I didn’t blame him.

I remember reading that profile my student wrote, almost in awe and yet almost in shame. I felt like I was leering in on this man’s most difficult moment. I was thinking, Good God, man… you let this student ask her grandfather about all this? The hell is wrong with you? Still, I had to grade the thing so I kept on reading and I was glad I did.

He left baseball and settled in Branson, Missouri, where opened up several restaurants and raised a family. People liked him for who he was then, not because he was “a former baseball player.” He was just a great guy.

A year or two later, the student was working in the newsroom near Thanksgiving when we started chatting about something or other and she mentioned she was going home for the break.

“Are you seeing your grandpa?” I asked. “If so, tell him I loved reading about him.”

She said she was and that he’d be glad to hear that someone liked reading his story. I laughed a bit and tossed in a line: “Tell him I’d love to have his autograph.”

When she returned from Thanksgiving, she handed me a baseball. She had explained our exchange to her grandfather and my ask, he got this great big smile on his face and asked, “Really?” He then went out and actually bought a baseball so he could sign it for me. (I would have taken a turkey-stained napkin, for Pete’s sake.) His hand writing was a tad jittery, but right across the sweet spot, he inked his autograph for me.

I bought a plastic container to display it and subsequently found a 1968 copy of his baseball card. It was amazing but I could really see the family resemblance between that man on the card and his grand daughter in my class. I found it to be a nice reminder of a wonderful moment.

He also served as a reminder to me about how life can mix things up on you from time to time, but in the end, if you know who you are and you value the right things, everything will turn out OK. When I finished reading the profile on him, I felt I knew him and how he had become comfortable in his own skin.

He was just the kind of person you’d want as a grandpa.

So, good night, Mr. Hamilton. I hope you are at peace knowing you really were an incredible man.