Category Archives: Television

Saturday Odds & Sods: All Shook Up

March by Grant Wood.

The monuments aftershocks continue here in New Orleans. I went to a friend’s kid’s birthday party and was warned to skip the subject because there were some rabid Lost Causers invited. They went there, I did not. I asked for a gold star but did not get one. I considered pitching a fit but thought better of it.

While we’re on the subject of the late monuments, I have two articles to recommend, nay, commend. First, Adrastos acquaintances Campbell Robertson and Katy Reckdahl collaborated on a story connecting the monuments and family histories. Second, the local public radio station, WWNO, has a piece about a proposed monument to Oscar Dunn a former slave who was Gret Stet Lt. Governor during Reconstruction. The monument was never built. Dunn, however, is worthy of one. That’s where I’d like this process to go: Civil Rights figures. It’s what makes sense if we were striking a blow against white supremacy and the Confederacy.

I saw this week’s bucolic featured image on the Antiques Roadshow. I used it because I like the austere lines of the print by the austere Iowan, Grant Wood. Austere seems to be the word of the day. Besides, Dr. A won tickets to the Roadshow when it comes to New Orleans this July. I want them to know we’re coming.

I was horrified to learn from the Guardian that Elvis Presley’s spell is waning with the kids today. If they think of him at all, they think of bloated Elvis from the end of his life or the notorious body in the box picture.

As his peer Fats Domino would surely say, Ain’t That A Shame. Elvis brought rock-and-roll to the masses and was its first King, Besides, what will NOLA’s own Rolling Elvi do if the Elvis mystique is diminished?

Rolling Elvi, Muses Parade, 2011. Photo by Dr. A.

This week’s theme song, All Shook Up, was written by Otis Blackwell and recorded by Elvis in 1957. According to his biographer Peter Guralnick, the reason Elvis received a writing credit is that he came up with the title.

First up is Blackwell’s rendition followed by Elvis’ studio version and then the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart belting it out.

I don’t know about you but I’m, uh, all shook up, which is why we’ll take a break at this point.

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The Americans Thread: The Penultimate Episode

I love the word penultimate as much as epistolary or eponymous and since I used those words earlier today, there was only one title for my recap of The World Council Of Churches.

The reason for that unwieldy, even bureaucratic, episode title is that the KGB secured Pastor Tim a sinecure in Argentina to get him out of the Jennings’ hair. I’m uncertain if it’s their real hair or one of their flotilla of wigs but, in any event, he’s out of it. And Paige is wigging out with glee.

Before taking our spoiler break, here’s a musical selection inspired by Phillip’s Brad the pilot persona. You know the guy who “adopted” Tuan. The pilot may be ready to drop the Vietnamese Kid if you catch my drift. More about that anon.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)

Struggle For Existence by Clifford Odets.

The unseasonably cool weather continued through the middle of this week in New Orleans. Summer’s cauldron is finally upon us, but this May has a chance to be one of the coolest on record. The coolish weather has thus far kept the Formosan termite swarms in check in my neighborhood. I have another theory: that the new and very bright street lights on Napoleon Avenue are attracting the swarms and keeping them away from Adrastos World HQ. It’s  just a theory but if I’m right it will be a less swarmy and pestiferous year.

Here’s last year’s termite theory in Tweet form:

Actually, I should give credit where it’s really due:

Let’s get back to where we once belonged, 2017.

I’m burnt out on Lost Cause Fest. I’m glad that the Lee statue came down in broad daylight yesterday. At 16 feet tall, it was too big to be removed at night. I’m just glad it’s over. I haven’t gone to spectate at any of the removal spectacles; mostly because it’s slow, arduous, and somewhat boring. Lost Cause Fest involves statues but it doesn’t rock. This front page headline does:

Photo by Milo’s human.

This week’s featured image is a 1947 painting by Clifford Odets. Until I saw last Monday’s  Antiques Roadshow, I had no idea that the playwright/screenwriter was a gifted painter. I guess that’s why they call PBS educational television.

This week’s theme song was written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer for a 1943 Fred Astaire movie, The Sky’s The Limit.  One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) is the torch song’s torch song or is that the saloon song’s saloon song? I am easily confused but you already knew that. If I were pretentious, I’d tell you that I curated three versions of the song but I’m neither a curate nor a cure-all…

We begin with Fred Astaire singing to an indifferent bartender named Joe followed by fabulous versions by Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. Frank called it a saloon song whereas Billie torched it up, y’all. There will be more about torches anon.

Now that Joe has set ’em up, let’s go to the break. It’s not a spoiler break as with The Americans recaps, it’s more of a length break. I do tend to go on.

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The Americans Thread: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Dyatkovo is a Russian town where atrocities were committed during the Great Patriotic War by the Nazis against Soviet POWS. The story of a Russian collaborator is the centerpiece of episode 11, Dyatkovo. Philip and Elizabeth are sent by Claudia to learn if a woman living in Newton, Mass is that person. I’ll return to that at the end of the post. It’s also where We Gotta Get Out Of This Place comes into play and gets, uh, played.

Let’s take an early spoiler break. There’s much to spoil in this episode and I prefer not to cry over either spoiled or spilled milk.

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The World Of President* McBragg

Welcome to another episode of Cartoon Analogy Theatre. This one doesn’t involve Pepe Le Pew so there will be no odoriferous jokes.  It’s a pity because the word stinker proves my point about K being the funniest letter in the alphabet. The World Of Commander McBragg was a segment on the Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo, and/or Bullwinkle shows. McBragg was a retired British officer who claimed to be at the center of world events and was not shy about bragging about his legendary accomplishments. Sound familiar? As the Commander would say, “Quite.”

I’ve been meaning to compare the Current Occupant to Commander McBragg for some time. I’m not sure what took me so long. The reason for dubbing Donald Trump President* McBragg is obvious:

In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.

I wonder if he whipped out his tiny member at that point and indulged in a spot of dick measuring with the Russians. It’s uncertain as to whether spotted dick is on the White House dessert menu. If it is, Trump gets two scoops, not one…

Trump’s aides, including General McMaster, tried to explain it away but Trump threw them all under the proverbial bus. It’s getting mighty crowded under there, y’all. It puts me in the mood for a bus song. This is one of the best:

Since Trump is incapable of admitting to a mistake, he’s brazening it out.  His motto: when you’re in a corner, lie like a fucking rug. His Tuesday morning tweet storm hung his national security adviser out to dry. The General is clearly not the McMaster of his domain.

It turns out that the Israelis provided the intelligence in question. They should have known better:

We now have a report that the allied intelligence service whose intelligence President Trump shared with Sergei Lavrov was an Israeli intelligence agency. My best guess was Jordan. Shows what I know.

What is remarkable about this is that reports in the Israeli press from January said that US intelligence officials had warned their Israeli counterparts about sharing intelligence with President Trump because of fears he might share such intelligence with Russia.

They were warned and they did it anyway. It will be a snowy day in Tel Aviv before they share intelligence with this administration* again. Their source is likely to be ferreted out and decapitated by ISIS. Those fuckers don’t fool around. It’s what Trump admired about Saddam Hussein so maybe he’ll flip on them too.

The flaw in the Trump-McBragg analogy is that the Commander was fundamentally a decent chap, eh wot. He was *almost* as needy the Insult Comedian. And nobody that needy should be allowed within a mile of the Oval Office, but he’s there thanks to his frenemy Jim Comey and his Russian palskis. I think Lavrov was at the White House to give Trump his marching orders from Putin.

I’m laying in a supply of whisky for President* McBragg’s first overseas trip. Given his alarming tendency to reverse his positions if someone sucks up to him, I’m concerned that Trump will offer an ambassadorship to the next person who kisses his ass and tells him it smells like roses. It could explain the whole Callista Gingrich thing.

I’ll give the last word to Commander McBragg. It’s a swashbuckling tale of derring-do and spying in Trump’s home town. In fact, the title could be his GRU code name, Our Man In Manhattan. Quite.

Postcript: I wrote this post before the Comey obstruction of justice memo. It’s hard to keep up with these crooked bastards. Comey made Trump and he’ll break him. So it goes.

Oh yeah, the Beauregard statue came down last night. Three down, one to go.

Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto Rivisitato

L to R: Big Paul Castellano, Fat Tony Salerno, Roy Cohn, & Don Donaldo. 

In addition to Nixon comparisons, there have been mob movie analogies used to describe both the Comey firing and a witness intimidation tweet before Sally Yates testified. Let’s revisit them before going on and on and on:

The Insult Comedian uses air quotes like a teenybopper: often and badly.

Back to the mob movie analogies. They’ve been flying thick and fast on cable news. The most obvious one keeps getting thrown out there: The Godfather. It’s a flawed analogy because Trump is  too crude to be either Vito or Michael Corleone or the elegant Don Barzini who was played by one of my favorite film noir actors, Richard Conte. Trump reminds me more of one of the crude Jersey or Brooklyn hoods in The Sopranos. He’s more like a badly dressed Johnny Sack than anyone in The Godfather. His childhood story, however, is reminiscent of noted dumbass and wise guy spawn Jackie Aprile Jr. It’s also a bit like AJ Soprano: a conspiracy theory loving slacker with a brilliant sister. Trump’s sister is a highly regarded retired federal judge whereas he’s an active moron.

I doubt that a mob movie analogy is required at all. Trump has extensive ties to the real, as opposed to reel, mob. I wrote about it last June in a post entitled Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto, which was, in turn, inspired by a Politico Magazine piece by David Cay Johnston. I also recycled the featured image from that post, showing the gangsters and mouthpieces the young real estate developer associated with. And Fred Trump had his own ties to the Five Families. Somehow people disregarded this and Trump won the electoral college with an assist from Russian intelligence and voter suppression laws. And he wonders why people question his legitimacy. He’s as legitimate as an earlier Oval One, Rutherford B. Hayes aka Rutherfraud or His Fraudulency.

I skipped earlier mob movies because both Edward G. Robinson and Jimmy Cagney played smart gangsters. But the Trump administration* as a whole is beginning to resemble Cagney’s “doomed gangster” classic, The Roaring Twenties. I only hope it doesn’t end like White Heat:

 

The One You Choose: 12 Monkeys, Trump, and motherhood at the end of the world

We’re in a place now, in our culture, where we’re talking about time travel a lot.

Those of us that aren’t talking about killer robots and how to screw them are talking about time travel. For a while we were talking about World War I a lot, which was understandable given the unwinnable, inexplicable wars grinding trenches through our public life. Then the trenches gave up their dead, and we talked about zombies for what seemed like forever.

Now we’re building time machines, trying to fill in the trenches before they’re dug. Trying to figure out if there is any way forward that doesn’t end up here. Can you blame us? Have you SEEN the world? David Bowie’s dead and Mitch Albom is alive and Coldplay is still making music; things are emphatically Not Good.

The destruction stories have gotten seriously tiresome, too. A few years ago maybe it seemed like fun, to burn it all down. In the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis and the seeming paralysis of anyone to do anything reasonable about it, it seemed prudent to read a lot of post-apocalyptic literature and stockpile dry goods for the siege.

All those stories, though, are about the people who magically survive and Become King in the new, desolated world. Let’s face it, the chances of that happening to you or me is pretty slim. And it’s always such a mean, small story: millions of people died, but let’s get invested in the five guys who could finally put their archery skills to good use!

So instead, we’re talking about a re-set. We’re talking about time travel. Which means I’m going to talk to you about 12 Monkeys.

Here’s SyFy’s description of it: 

Time traveler James Cole travels from the year 2043 to the present day to stop the release of a deadly virus by the enigmatic organization known as “The Army of the Twelve Monkeys”. That virus, in Cole’s future, caused the death of most of the world’s population. Led by a cryptic message from the past, Cole makes contact with the brilliant virologist Cassandra Railly, who he believes is the key to stopping the virus. Cole also enlists the help of Jennifer Goines (the insane daughter of the virus’ creator), and his best friend Ramse to stop the initial outbreak. As Cole journeys through time in an effort to stop the virus, he realizes the Army of the 12 Monkeys have a larger, more mysterious agenda.

Are you already bored? I was, too. I don’t blame you. Time travel shows make me exhausted in the way arguments about most trivia make me exhausted, like don’t make me do homework to enjoy something. If I have to build a conspiracy wall to figure out your story, generally, that’s too much work for me to do after a day of work, and getting all up in a fanboy argument about if you can kill yourself from the past or whatever is similarly not my idea of a party.

12 Monkeys isn’t about time travel, though. It’s about time.

The woman who invented time travel, who enlists Cole in this mission to undo the worst of humanity’s atrocities, is called Jones. Jones opens a box, midway through Season One. She takes out a blanket, embroidered with her daughter’s name. Hannah.

Hannah choked to death on the sickness, while Jones sang her a lullaby.

All Jones wanted was to make a timeline where her daughter didn’t have to suffer. All she wanted was for her child to be safe, and for that, she needed a clean slate. Cassie was trying to cure the plague, but Hannah was dead, and a cure wouldn’t change that. Jones needed to undo it.

Everything she did came from that impulse. She built a machine that ripped time apart. She killed dozens, maybe hundreds, chasing the moment when her daughter might have lived. She splintered men and women, sons and daughters, over and over and over again.

Wouldn’t you, in her place?

If you thought you could stop a war? If you thought you could save your child? If you thought you could save everybody’s children, in the few minutes a day that your breathless pain let you consider someone besides yourself, if you thought you could save everybody? I mean it, what wouldn’t you do?

You’d become a monster. You’d become a thousand monsters, and she did, Jones, only to find that timeline after timeline, splinter after splinter, the plague still came. She sent boys and girls back and forth until they literally exploded: Someone’s daughters, someone’s sons. She killed and killed and killed, and still it followed her, covering her footprints.

So she learned to live with Hannah’s ashes, finally, in Season Two. She learned to love and trust again. She found people she couldn’t sacrifice, not even for her blighted goals, not even for Hannah. Jones burned the world down and found nothing, and at that exact moment, when she’d exhausted every resource and spent every inch of herself, then Hannah stepped out of the darkness and into her arms.

The reason for everything, alive all along.

A lot of people thought it was a cheat, or that Jones should be shattered or angry or feel that she’d wasted something. That’s absurd. Nothing was wasted. A cure won’t save the dead and that’s still true. Hannah lived. So many others didn’t. What of them?

Do they not deserve every inch of Jones? Did someone else love her child any less? You don’t heal the world by loving you and yours. You heal the world by loving beyond family, beyond obligations of blood and bone.

This show is about time. There are so many other daughters.

When I first found this show, it was dark and cold, and I had a baby barely a year old, was working two jobs, and felt good about almost no part of my life at all. Insomnia addled the senses not already in a tailspin from the work schedule and the kid’s sleep strike, stress drinking got old pretty quick and so I wound up binging Jennifer Goines at 3 a.m., which is precisely NOT the time you really want to be hanging with this chick.

Jennifer is a very real person to me, almost as real as Starbuck. She’s been running forever. From her rich dad, from her doctors, from the voices she hears, from Cole, to Cole, time roaring in her mind like the ocean going in, coming out.

Her mother tried to kill her. Her father locked her up. She kept all his secrets and she never told a soul, and he left her in a cell to rot. She saw her co-workers die all around her, and she wept and raged, and she opened the door that ended the world. 

The eye of the hurricane, where the winds go still and the light pierces through, the speck of earth the tornado touches. Primary.

She’s used by the others, uses them, fights them, fights with them, and in the end she comes face to face with herself. Literally; Jennifer young meets Jennifer, old, and they stare at each other across the room. They’ll explode if they touch, if they get too close. It’ll cause a paradox.

If you met the you you’re going to be, 50 years from now, and the one you were, 50 years ago? If you met the person you needed to be to live in the world as it will be then, could you embrace that woman, that daughter, and sing her a lullaby?

Could you say to her, as Jennifer Goines did to her younger self, I know everything about you, every mistake you are ever going to make, every awful stupid cruel thing you’re ever going to do, and I don’t need to forgive you because there’s nothing to forgive?

Jennifer, in that room, owned up to how long she’d been running. How many times she’d stuck her fingers in the pages of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, trying to game the endings out, trying to get it right. And Jennifer said to her, there are many endings, and the right one is the one you choose.

You’ve got to pick, and if you let yourself go back over it and over it and over it trying to find a way out, you’ll scorch the ground you stand on. Jennifer’s been running so long. She’s been running in her head long before the world burned down. They put her in a cage and she built herself a wheel, turning and turning. The second season was Jennifer letting herself off, letting herself out.

We say you have to forgive yourself, and it always sounded like such a cop-out. Like sure, just tell yourself all your horrible things are okay, let yourself off the hook, how convenient. I never knew what that looked like until this show made it literal. 

Forget the costumes and the clocks. This show is about time, and what it does to you, and what you do back. 

Season Three starts with Cassandra Railly (separate from the entire character that is Her Hair) pregnant, frightened, cradling her belly. The beginning of anything is terrifying, and there is more ambivalence and fear than we admit, in childbearing. A child is optimism in its purest form, is hope embodied: Their world will be better than ours. But hope is helpless where we live now.

In Cassie’s world, everything’s on fire. Time is tearing itself apart. In ours, same, but so much more mundane: A small group of nasty people is destroying American government, has been for a while now, and has finally done enough damage to be noticed by those not directly targeted. Every damn day is a fight, about who we are and what we stand for, about things that shouldn’t even be a fight, like everybody’s full humanity, and if we can afford to teach people to read. The key attraction of the end of the world is its clarity: we dream of a single moment in which we could rise up heroes, instead of a thousand moments, every single day, which pass us by unnoticed.

My own daughter wants to right every wrong. Hearing a crying child in the store, she asks, “What’s the matter with that baby?” Seeing a schoolmate hurt she asks, “Are you okay?” We took her to the Women’s March in January, and she rode on her father’s shoulders, waving a sign that said, “Future President.” All I could think was that this would be the first world she would know, and if she would know that it was dumb and small and mean, then she’d also know that some of us fought back.

How do we raise our children, knowing the cruelty of the world? Knowing the plague is coming? They roll and twist inside us and we think we can protect them from their fate. Burn every spinning wheel in the kingdom and the princess still pricks her finger; build a wall of thorns a thousand feet high and someone will hack his way through. Save every penny and hide behind your bank account, hoard food in the cellar, weapons in the attic, ammunition in the coffee can under the bed. 

You can flash card them in Mandarin and drive them to piano lessons and teach them to swim and hunt and start a fire, but all you’re doing is arming them for the fight. You still have to trust their strength is greater than your own. You can’t protect your children. You can’t stand guard against the world. You can’t choose their endings for them; if you’re very very lucky you won’t even witness them. The unimaginable courage, in Cassie’s hands, to know everything about what her baby will become, and still hold him, and sing him a lullaby.

This is a story about time, and mercy, time and hope, time and fear. There are no clean slates. There is always forgiveness. And however long you have with your darling daughters, it’s never going to be enough.

Season Three of 12 Monkeys drops Friday. We may have more threads. Stay tuned.

A.

The Americans Thread: Welcome To The Machine

The Americans is gaining momentum as the season comes to a close. There are only 3 episodes left after Darkroom and I expect a helluva ride since it’s one of the best episodes thus far this season.

The post title comes from Philip’s EST seminar. The bullgoose EST-hole tells them that “we’re all machines” whose life consists of “stimulus and response.” Speak for yourself EST-hole. It does, however, seem to fit the latest development in the Paige saga as she inches closer to becoming a spy. Welcome to the machine, Paige.

More details on that after the spoiler break, but first some Pink Floyd:

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Easy Comey, Easy Go Redux

Longtime readers are aware of my fondness for cartoon imagery. On Monday, I gave you the Le Pew meets Le Pen post. Hearing the news that the president* had fired James Comey conjured up images of Wile E. Coyote lighting a bomb and it blowing up in his face. Meep, meep. It also allowed me to recycle a classic post title. Heckuva job, Donald.

As the Insult Comedian himself would put it:  it’s so very, very, very nice of him to fire Comey because he was so very mean to Crooked Hillary.  You know, the action that helped elect Trump. I did such a tremendous spit take when I heard that whopper that Della and Oscar ran for cover even though it interrupted their nightly food bowl vigil. Sorry, y’all. Talk about failing the smell test. That excuse was stinkier than a post-Katrina fridge. I somehow think it had more to do with the Russia investigation and the bad news on that front that emerged out of the Yates-Clapper hearing.

I know a cover up when I see one. This is a cover up. The good news for the Republic is that Trump never has a plan, he’s always winging it. If the preternaturally devious Tricky Dick couldn’t run a cover up, what chance does a clownishly inept president* with cotton candy piss hair have? He also has an administration* full of guys like Jonah on Veep. Not even his little buddy Jared can save the skipper from himself:

Hat Tip: Michael Tisserand.

Like Athenae, I’m skeptical that Congressional Republicans will dump Trump in the short term. The most cynical politician in recent memory, Mitch McConnell, has already defended the firing and rejected calls for an independent counsel. Mike Huckabee’s horrid spawn, Sarah, wants the country to move on and Kellyanne resurfaced from exile to praise her master. Astonishingly, the administration* didn’t anticipate the firestorm. I think they consulted with Jonad and he told them not to sweat it.

There have been many comparisons to the Saturday Night Massacre of Watergate infamy. It’s an inexact one with a major exception: both presidents fired someone investigating misconduct by their campaigns and administrations. The comparisons inspired some, uh, inspired trolling:

No, Tricky impulsively fired the AG, Deputy AG, and the Watergate Special Prosecutor. The impact will EVENTUALLY be similar. The wheels of the legal system grind slowly, but I think that some sort of special counsel is inevitable. It’s the only way the DOJ and FBI can regain their tattered credibility. The White House doesn’t have to worry about that. It never had any to begin with.

As to Comey himself, he deserved to be fired but not at this time and in this manner. Timing is everything and firing him in the wake of the Yates-Clapper hearing makes the Insult Comedian look guiltier than a bank robber caught in the act. It’s particularly funny that a man who made his name firing people to their faces on teevee didn’t have the guts to call Comey and use his own catchphrase: “You’re fired.”

It will be fascinating to see this play out. Given Trump’s eerie ability to make a bad situation worse, he may hire a political hack to replace Comey. How about a certain former US Attorney and New York Mayor? Now that would be hilarious.

I have some unsolicited advice for the president* put the fucking phone down and stop tweeting. It’s obvious that the Insult Comedian never learned the first rule of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging.

Programming note: I haven’t written my Americans recap yet. It will go up later this evening or tomorrow morning. I’ve been too busy pondering real Russian spies to write about fictional ones.

I’ll give Stevie Wonder the last word with his 1974 Nixon/Watergate song. It feels quite relevant in 2017:

 

Le Sigh

I know that Pepe Le Pew is in bad odor in many quarters, but he still cracks me up. He’s a cartoon skunk who sounds like Charles Boyer, y’all. He’s not real. One of Monsieur Le Pew’s catchphrases was, Le Sigh. And that’s what I did when I checked on the French presidential election yesterday. In this case, it was le sigh of relief that Emmanuel Macron defeated the malodorous Marine Le Pen. How do you like that? I’ve gone from Le Pew to Le Pen. They’re both stinkers, but only one is dangerous and it ain’t the toon.

Watching CNN cover the results gave me a mild headache. Instead of talking heads who knew something about either French politics or foreign policy in general they had political consultants and even a former aide to that legendary Francophile Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Yeah, I was being sarcastic there. CNN’s coverage inspired this tweet:

I make no bones about being an expert. I know something about French political history but my French is at the Pepe Le Pew level: rudimentary at best, stinky at worst. I do, however, know that every country has its own distinctive politics and the equation used by many before the election was nuts: Brexit + Trump = Le Pen for le populist wave win. Merde.

That formulation conveniently skipped the poor performance by Gert Wilders’ far right party in the late Dutch election. Populist nationalism is not a contagious disease. Each country has its own strain; in France, the Le Pens are associated in the public mind with xenophobes, collaborators, Holocaust deniers, and Vichy Fascists. Besides, Le Pen blew it in the final teevee debate. Bigly:

In the end Ms. Le Pen failed to “undemonize,” spectacularly. She failed during the course of the campaign, when her angry rallies drew the Front inexorably back into the swamp from which it had emerged. And then she failed decisively in one of the campaign’s critical moments, last week’s debate with Mr. Macron, when she effectively “redemonized” herself and the party, as many French commentators noted.

It was an hourslong tirade against Mr. Macron, laced with name-calling and epithets, and woefully deficient in substance. She appeared lost on subject after subject, fumbling on one of her signature issues — withdrawing from the euro — that is opposed by a majority of French. Something essential about Ms. Le Pen, and the National Front, had been revealed to France.

Mr. Macron, on the other hand, demonstrated a quality that French voters, unlike many Anglo-Saxon ones, have long found essential in their successful candidates: cool mastery of the critical issues confronting the country. Where Ms. Le Pen repeatedly lost herself in the weeds, Mr. Macron sailed right through them. Whether he will now be able to translate that knowledge into action is another question.

Word. There will be two rounds of parliamentary elections in June and Macron’s new party needs to elect some deputies or else he will be le screwed and Vichy Fascism will make a comeback in 2022. Le Pen did receive 34% of the vote in this rout, which is nearly double her father’s performance against Jacques Chirac in the 2002 run-off. The Le Pens aren’t going anywhere. They’re playing the long game.

The biggest difference between our late election and Sunday in France is that the establishment right did NOT support Le Pen. They supported the Republic and democracy against the Vichy Fascist threat. In contrast,  the American establishment right made a pact with the orange devil. I almost said “sold their souls” but they’re souless stinkers. Has anyone ever seen Mitch McConnell’s reflection in a mirror? I thought not.

I must admit to saying “I told you so” yesterday on social media. Every election is not about America. France is not America, and America is not France. Vive la difference. Vive la France.

That concludes this inexpert post about the French election. Hey, at least I resisted the temptation to call it Pepe Le Pew meets Marine Le Pen.

All this talk of Le Pen and Le Pew has given me le earworm:

The Americans Thread: Tuan Gone

Family matters dominate the latest episode, IHOP. Philip is obliged to contemplate his real son as well as two fake sons. It’s hard being a spy sometimes. Even worse, Philip’s resolve continues to be shakier than a Jello salad at a Midwestern church supper.

Another main theme of the episode is how overextended the Jennings are between travel agenting, spying, and parenting. In the immortal words of Johnny Mercer: Something’s gotta give. Something’s gotta give. Something’s gotta give.

On that cheerful note, it’s time for our spoiler break. But first, one of the songs I’ve been substituting Tuan for gone in. It’s a weird hobby, but it’s mine all mine:

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Quote Of The Day: Bill-O Flunks Out Of Old School Edition

Bill O’Reilly is off the air, finally fired after years of allegations of egregious malakatude. Literal malakatude in his case. The last wave of charges were too much for Bill-O’s advertisers to take. That’s right: capitalism, not morality got Bill-O shitcanned. Whatever works.

Bill-O has been whining like a big baby. He’s using a podcast at his website as a mini-Factor. It’s more of a platform for whining about how the Media Matters Meanies and other evil lefties hounded him off Fox News. Apparently, it had nothing to do with his inability to keep either his zipper or lip zipped. #sarcasm.

He has a new book out with an unintentionally funny title, Old School: Life In The Sane Lane. Whatever, dude. That brings me to today’s quote. It comes from a New Yorker piece wherein staff writer Margaret Talbot discusses what Bill-O means by old school:

And there’s another value that’s being traduced here, one that Old Schoolers often uphold: hard work. Bosses who treat their workplaces as their harems are, among other things, lazy. They can’t be bothered with taking the time and effort to get to know someone well enough to, for example, tell whether that person might at all be interested in having sex with them. They crudely leverage their power over people’s livelihoods rather than courting them; in other words, they cheat. Watch some actual Old School TV in which the leering boss is not a figure to be admired. Spend some time, for instance, in the late-nineteen-fifties world of “Perry Mason,” wherein Perry treats his secretary, Della, with companionable respect, and evidently finds his dates outside the office.

As a man who named his cat Della Street, how could I resist this paragraph? Perry Mason, of course, was a mensch, not a overage whiny titty baby like Bill-O and his pal Donald Trump. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Bill-O joins the administration* in some capacity. For now Gum Spice’s job is safe, according to his boss, because his ratings are good. Perhaps Bill-O could become the anti-PC Tsar and lead the charge against the war on Christmas. I hear Santa feels beleaguered and that the missus is concerned he’ll hole with an AK-47 and hold the elves hostage until people stop saying “happy holidays.”

Unfortunately, Bill-O won’t just fade away into obscurity and “write” his bad books with killing in the title. I guess that’s because he’s old school. Speaking of which, let’s give Steely Dan the last word:

 

Quote Of The Day: Fractured Fairy Tale Edition

Political families are in the news these days. In France, Marine Le Pen seeks to advance her father’s odious legacy. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad is making his bloodthirsty father look  like a Hafez-assed dictator. In North Korea, Kim Jong-un is a third generation nutter. In the good old US&A, Ivanka Trump is trying to make a dishonest buck just like dear old dad.

It’s story time, kids, The quote comes from Sarah Kendizor in an article that begins with a fractured fairy tale:

Once upon a time, there was a dictator who had a daughter. The dictator, who came to power vowing to make his country great, enacted a series of repressive policies under the guise of nationalism. He persecuted the media and the opposition, used “war on terror” rhetoric to justify a clampdown on civil rights, maintained a close but complicated relationship with Russia, and built a kleptocracy that ensured the country’s riches lined his pockets.

The daughter seemed different – or at least, she wanted to be seen that way. She was an Ivy League-educated cosmopolitan socialite who married into a powerful business family before making her mark as a fashion designer and businesswoman. Like her father, she encouraged an avid personality cult; and like her father, she hid her own brutal practices under the pretext of a soft “feminism”, claiming to represent the ideal modern woman of her country.

I’m talking, of course, about Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov and his daughter Gulnara Karimova. That this description evokes the burgeoning Trump political dynasty should concern you.

It does indeed. I was delighted that Ivanka was booed in Berlin for defending her pussy grabbing pop’s record on women’s issues. I was not surprised that MSM toady Chris Cillizza admonished the boo-birds. His logic does not apply to Ivanka who has an office in the White House and whose husband is the president’s* wispy renaissance man. They’re NOT non-combatants like past first families. They’re in the fray and subject to scrutiny. I think CNN hired the former Mr. Fix so the Trumpers would think they’re fair and balanced, not fake news. It won’t work but Cillizza is a world-class bootlicker so I guess it qualifies as winning.

If you’re on Twitter and don’t follow Sarah Kendizor, it’s time to do so. She’s an expert on 21st Century authoritarianism. It’s a depressingly relevant subject in America’s New Gilded Age.

Since I borrowed Fractured Fairy Tales from the Bullwinkle Show, it’s only fair to present an episode about another misbegotten, greedy ruler:

Instead of giving the mellifluous voice of Edward Everett Horton the last word, here are the Hollies with a song that describes the first 100 days of the current occupant:

Donald Trump *is* King Midas In Reverse. A new nickname is born and you are present at the creation. It’s a helluva catchy tune as well.

The Americans Thread: Slow Kung Fu & The Big Sex Guy

The post title comes from two off-hand remarks that were my favorite lines in Immersion. Elizabeth is pumping Morozova for info and she describes one of her students as a Big Sex Guy. She means a lady’s man like, say, Gorp Guy. Slow Kung Fu came from a scene wherein Elizabeth is doing tai-chi and Philip calls it (you guessed it) Slow Kung Fu. Sounds like a band name to me, ya’ll. The entire post title sounds like an ’80’s teevee show along the lines of BJ and the Bandit.

The Americans punditocracy seem to be losing patience with season 5. They’re not entirely wrong that it’s moving slowly, but its pace has always been more of a simmer than a boil. The show is fundamentally a psychological character study with moments of high suspense. It’s like criticizing Mad Men for not having any gun play. I do, however, think that things will pick up next week.

It’s time for our spoiler break, but first some Kung Fu Fighting:

I guess that’s not the same Carl Douglas who was on the OJ Simpson defense team. It would be fun if it were. I can see the headline:  Novelty Artist Becomes Legal Eagle.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Fate’s Right Hand

Reply To Red by Yves Tanguy.

Spring is prime time for crawfish boils or as the natives say, berls. We’ve been to two in the last three weeks. The first one involved some of the usual suspects and nothing unusual happened other than a five-year-old girl pointing at the sacks of live crawfish and asking, “When will they be dead?” That’s a sassy Louisiana child, y’all. It’s one reason why her mama nicknamed her the Benevolent Dictator. I’m not so sure about the first bit though…

Something quite eventful happened last weekend at the second shebang. The berl was thrown (not by Milton Berle or Burl Ives) by one of Dr. A’s first year medical students. He’s an older student who was a helicopter pilot in the Army and is still a reservist. That’s one reason he lives at Jackson Barracks near Arabi, Louisiana. That’s right, it was an Arabi spring crawfish berl…

When I first heard our host’s name, I remarked that it was the same name as the man who sold us our house after renovating it in 2000. It’s a fairly common name so we agreed it was unlikely that her student was a Junior. Guess what? It’s a small fucking world after all. Our host’s father had indeed renovated Adrastos World HQ and Dr. A’s student had worked on the project. The latter was somewhat freaked out by the string of coincidences but I told him not to sweat it because it made him de facto teacher’s pet. Besides, the man knows how to boil crawfish. It’s an indispensable skill as far as I’m concerned.

This week’s theme song is the title track of Rodney Crowell’s 2003 album, Fate’s Right Hand. It seems that one of his daughters didn’t care for the song at the time. Somewhere in my archives I have a circa 2004 Crowell concert at which he introduced Fate’s Right Hand  more or less as follows:

“My daughter hates this song. She told me it’s undignified for me to talk about poontang and the narrator of the song having a pole in his pants. I told her that I’m a country singer and her mother and grandfather are both country singers. We’re not dignified people.  She reminded me that Grandpa Johnny was the most dignified person she knew. I couldn’t argue that point so I changed the subject.”

Fate’s Right Hand is a list song. The most famous list song I can think of is Irving Berlin’s You’re The Top. Another list song classic is REM’s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine.) I don’t feel like listing list songs so here’s Fate’s Right Hand:

Rodney is fond of list songs. He wrote one about greedy yuppies for his 2005 album, The Outsider complete with the refrain: give it to me, give it to me. I will comply:

Give it to me, give it to me. You may not be as demanding as the coked-out greed head in the song but let’s take a break anyway. Give it to me, give it to me.

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The Americans Thread: Gabriel’s Parting Gift

The Committee on Human Rights was something of a letdown after the dizzying heights of last week’s episode, Crossbreed. I, for one, wanted to see more of Paige and Gabriel together. The end of the previous episode led us to believe that there would be more to it than a brief, pleasant, and somewhat cryptic scene. Of course, Gabriel specializes in cryptic pleasantries.

The smile on Frank Langella’s face when he answered Paige’s inquiry as to whether he was a spy made this disappointing scene worthwhile. I wish Gabriel and Paige had burst out in song at the end of it. This would have been my choice:

Hmm, Peggy Lee was very blonde. I wonder if she was KGB? We’ll get to the same questions about Walk Away Renee later in the post.

The Committee on Human Rights is smack dab in the middle of season 5 so we shouldn’t be surprised that it set the table for the rest of the season. Besides, even a fair-to-middling episode of The Americans is better than most dramas. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: patience is the watchword for longtime Americans viewers.

Time for our spoiler break. Try not to cry over spilt Soviet milk as you click below.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding

Banjo and Glasses by Juan Gris.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. I’m not religious but I was raised Greek Orthodox. This year Greek Easter is the same day as what my most pious relative calls “American Easter.” My memories of Easter revolve around food: leg of lamb was always the main course at our house. I may not celebrate the holiday but I wish those of you who do well.

In Easter related news, it looks as if Team Trump is screwing up the annual White House Easter egg roll. It’s typically an East Wing thing but Melania lives in Manhattan and nobody else seems to be in charge. Holy symbolic ineptitude, Batman. I hear Harvey and Bugs Bunny are organizing a protest…

This week’s theme song is Nick Lowe’s best known and loved song, (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding. Nick himself is not madly in love with his most famous song:

“Everyone seems to know it. But it’s never been a hit, a hit song so to speak, on the charts,” says Lowe, reflecting on the song’s legacy. “It is really strange — and I don’t want to sound too, kinda, ‘wet’ — ‘cause when I hear it, it doesn’t really sort of sound like my song any more. I don’t feel hugely possessive about it.”

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“The song had a rather humorous birth,” he says. “It was written, initially, from the point of view of an old hippie who was still sticking to his guns and seeing his kind of followers all suddenly wearing pointy-toed shoes and drinking cocktails. … It’s like they had come to their senses, rediscovered alcohol and cocaine. … They were rather embarrassed that they’d ever been hippies … and thought the hippie thing rather funny.

“And he’s saying to them: ‘Well, you all think I’m an idiot. You’re sniggering now. But all I’m saying — and you can’t argue with this — is what’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?’”

I’m presenting three versions for your amusement. First, the 1974 original recorded with the pub-rock band, Brinsley Schwarz. Then the Elvis Costello rendition that put the tune on the map; it was produced by Nick. Finally, the way I like it best: a solo acoustic version by the songwriter himself.

One thing that *is* funny about Nick Lowe is that his hair is still awesome. I should hate him for that but I’m trying to be a bigger man. I am, however, fuming over the injustice of it all right now. It’s best to insert a break at this point while I take a deep breath.

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The Americans Thread: He Was Nobody. We Were All Nobodies.

Thus spake Gabriel in a scene with Philip. Crossbreed is one of the best episodes in series history. It’s a perfect jumping off point for the rest of the season. The producers should immediately send a DVD of this episode to Emmy voters. It’s past time for Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell, and Frank Langella to win Emmys on the awards show I do not watch. The Oscars are bad enough even if this year’s ceremony had a boffo ending as did Crossbreed. OMFG as the kids say.

I wonder if I’m the only viewer whose favorite character is Gabriel. Crossbreed is very Gabriel-centric, which is why I enjoyed it so much. There’s even a major plot twist involving him but we’ll save that for after the break. Frankly, I don’t watch to spoil so much Langella deliciousness. See you on the other side.

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Sunday Morning Video: A Tribute To Don Rickles

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard that comedy legend Don Rickles died at the age of 90. Rickles was a genuine insult comedian with a rapid fire Borscht Belt delivery. I saw Mr. Warmth live once in Vegas, baby. He even called me a hockey puck. It was an honor.

Here are a few clips in tribute to a man with a face made for radio. We begin with an appearance on Dick Cavett’s ABC Show:

Rickles was at his best with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show:

In this clip Rickles drops in on Frank and Johnny:

Rickles always made me laugh even when he was the voice of Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story. He will be missed.

The Americans Thread: Lotus Positioning

Lotus 1-2-3 was an intense and emotionally fraught episode of The Americans. Philip starts the episode in bad shape and ends up in a exceptionally dark place after a revelation that we’ll deal with later.

There was, however, one humorous bit. Philip ends up playing Topeka-boo with the logistics expert chick. She uses computer talk as a sort of geeky foreplay by recommending the Lotus 1-2-3 program to Philip. After they do the deed, she offers to show him her print-out. Hence the post title. Hubba, hubba.

Philip and Elizabeth declined Stan and Renee’s invitation to see Romancing The Stone, which was a monster hit in 1984. In a futile effort to avoid spoilers, we’ll close this section with an Eddy Grant song that was written for the movie but ended up on the cutting room floor.

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