Category Archives: Television

Saturday Odds & Sods: Handle With Care

Saturday Morning by Edward Hopper.

It’s been a busy week. so I’ll keep this introduction brief. And I mean it this time.

This week’s theme song was originally supposed to be a George Harrison single, but it turned up on the Traveling Wilburys first album in 1988. The song is credited to the band, but the primary writer was George. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have four versions of Handle With Care for your listening pleasure: the Wilburys original, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and Stephen Stills & Judy Collins.

If you can handle it, let’s jump to the break but with care. Always with care.

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Throwback Impeachment

Are you ready to party like it’s 1999?

President Trump plans on adding former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr and the defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz to his legal team for his trial by the Senate, a person briefed on the plan said Friday.

Mr. Starr, whose investigation into President Bill Clinton’s sexual relationships led to his impeachment, will be joined by Robert Ray, who succeeded Mr. Starr as independent counsel and wrote the final report on Mr. Clinton, the person said.

Rounding out the team will be Mr. Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor emeritus who became famous as a defense counsel for high-profile defendants like O.J. Simpson.

The White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, and Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, will lead the legal team.

Let’s review the bidding. Starr and Ray were integral components in what Charlie Pierce calls “the hunt for the president’s penis.” Dershowitz was against impeachment before favoring it.  Lev Parnas placed Jay Sekulow in the same leaky, unethical boat as Rudy Giuliani: he has knowledge of the Ukraine scam as it happened. He should recuse himself but won’t. Trump likes sleazy lawyers.

Two of these lawyers have links to sex scandals. Starr to the Baylor football sex scandal and Dershowitz to master perv Jeffrey Epstein That’s probably why the Impeached Insult Comedian picked them. Pervs of a feather flock together.

Lapsed liberal and obsessive contrarian Alan Dershowitz has also been portrayed onscreen. A show biz touch that surely appealed to President* Pennywise. Ron Silver played him in  Reversal of Fortune. On television, he was played by Richard Cox in American Tragedy, and Evan Handler in The People vs. OJ Simpson. Handler, who usually sports a shaved head, rocked a toupee as Dershowitz:

I somehow doubt that they’ll want to be known as the Dream Team 2: the Scream Team is more like it. I wonder if Rudy plans to sit in the gallery and heckle. Now that would be must-see teevee.

The last word goes to Prince:

Parnassian Frenzy

As I watched Lev Parnas on Maddow last night, I realized there was a highfalutin pun on his last name. The Parnassians were a  French literary movement described as follows at Britannica.com:

Parnassian, French Parnassien, member of a group—headed by Charles-Marie-René Leconte de Lisle—of 19th-century French poets who stressed restraint, objectivity, technical perfection, and precise description as a reaction against the emotionalism and verbal imprecision of the Romantics.

Emotionalism and verbal imprecision? Sounds like your basic Trump or Giuliani interview to me. In contrast, Lev came off as calm and direct last night. I *want* to believe his account but until there’s more corroboration, I’m not sure how credible he is. More investigation is in order, but I found his story plausible.

Lev was not quite what I expected. I expected him to be more thuggish and speak with a heavy Russian accent, like this guy:

That image of cartoon villain Boris Badenov evokes John Bolton’s description of Crazy Rudy as a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.” The Mustache of War knows his explosives.

Lev also has a spectacular combover, which made me wonder if the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover is his hair tech. Only his hairdresser or the Impeached Insult Comedian know for sure:

That was infinitely more disturbing than Lev’s media tour. He also sat for an interview with the New York Times. Lev sure does get around.

Back to Lev’s credibility. He bolstered it by dismissing blowhard Trump wannabe Robert Hyde as a drunken braggart. Additionally, he didn’t claim a close relationship with Russian master criminal Dimitri Firtash.

Lev’s charges about Trump, Pence, Rudy, and Barr are explosive and plausible. This could, however, be yet another case of a liar lying about other liars. Rudy has already denounced him as a liar. It takes one to know one.

Part Two of the new hit series When Lev Met Rachel will air tonight. Stay tuned.

The last word goes to Lev’s lawyer Joseph A. Bondy with a tweet featuring the mendacious minority whip from Metry:

 

Enough Already

Twitter is extra stupid this morning. It’s ablaze with a pitched battle between Sanders and Warren supporters with the former being particularly inflammatory. They seem to have forgotten CNN’s debate track record; they go for gotcha moments with gusto.

I used to watch CNN in the days of Bernie Shaw and Aaron Brown but it’s all about giant panels and loaded questions in the 21st Century. That’s why I skipped the debate and didn’t even DVR it. Enough already.

I like what Charlie Pierce had to say about this ridiculous flap:

…the Warren-Sanders business is going to be what people take away from Tuesday night. I have no idea what was said during the famous conversation about whether a woman can be elected president. But the response from the Sanders supporters, especially on the electric Twitter machine, has been so hysterically over the top—Responding with snake emojis? That’s only the oldest misogynistic smear of all time, going all the way back to Genesis.—that it does make me wonder whether or not there’s something in that campaign that attracts the Democratic equivalent of the incel boys. I hope it stops soon, but I doubt that it will.

It was inevitable that politics would break out between two candidates trying to be *the* candidate of the Democratic party’s portside. We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again. I see nothing in Bernie Sanders’ platform that would cause me NOT to vote for him in the general election. I’m a Warren supporter BUT the problem is not Bernie, it’s the Berners. Enough already.

We need a coalition, the proverbial big tent, to deliver a well-deserved comeuppance to Trump and his GOP lackeys. I think that Warren gets that. Hell, I think Senator Sanders gets that, but his supporters want to take over the Democratic party and burn it down. That’s nuts. We need all hands on-deck to beat Trump. He’s the real enemy, not moderate Democrats. Enough already.

The other thing that bugs the living shit out of me is that not enough people are talking about the Parnas files. It appears that an American ambassador was under surveillance approved by Crazy Rudy. The Impeached Insult Comedian might have okayed it There’s even a suggestion that Ambassador Yovanovitch’s life may have been in jeopardy. That’s a helluva lot more important than a he-said she-said squabble. Enough already.

People need to prioritize. The national house is on fire and the arsonist lives in the White House. I will vote for any Democratic candidate even one of the plutocrats, the unqualified Hoosier, or the former Veep who has lost his fastball. POTUS* may have authorized a hit on an American ambassador. That’s infinitely more important than what sort of pundit Bernie Sanders is and what Elizabeth Warren had to say about a private meeting. Enough already.

I’d like to paraphrase a  classic 2016 post by Athenae, I’m Done With All Your Liz and Bernie Feelings, Internet. Enough already.

Johnny Mercer didn’t say anything about prioritizing in the song below, but we need to organize our thoughts and accentuate the positive. The last word goes to Dr. John:

 

Ride The Tigers

I’m uncertain if I have a coherent post in me today. You’re probably saying: when was he ever coherent? I started Monday off by giving y’all a straight line, be nice.

Since I still have King Cake on my mind, I’m going to cut this post into slices.

Geaux Tigers: I’m as nervous as Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof about tonight’s national championship game. I’m not sure if I’m Brick, Maggie, or Big Daddy; mercifully, there’s nary a no-neck monster in sight and PD is undercover as a big blue lump on the bed. Make that under the covers…

My LSU Tigers have had a magical season, but they face a formidable foe in the Clemson Tigers. Formidable as in defending national champs and winners of two of the last three titles. The good news is that Coach O gets it. He was in the same position as an assistant at USC when the Texas Longhorns hooked the defending champion Trojans in the 2006 Rose Bowl.

LSU doesn’t  have the mascot advantage for a change; it’s the Tussle of the Tigers. We do have two of the three colors of Carnival on our side: purple and gold. Clemson’s color is orange. Not one of my favorite colors even though the fruit is swell and citrusy.

It’s time for a semi-relevant musical interlude:

The long layoff has me worried. One team is apt to be rusty, the other to be prepared. Let’s hope it’s the right Tigers who do the riding or some such shit.

I’d like to call your attention to an article in the Failing New York Times, which gives my main man Coach O his due:

Ed is officially a folk hero now but that doesn’t ease my pre-game jitters. The last word of the segment goes to Brian Setzer:

Speaking of riding tigers, the impeachment process is finally moving to the Senate.

Cover Up, Trump Style: Speaker Pelosi tried to nudge and/or coerce the Senate into giving a shit about its reputation, but Moscow Mitch seems to have dug in his heels. He’s declined to relinquish his iron hold on his caucus, which makes a fair trial much less likely. Mitch doesn’t give a damn, Harry Reid said last year that his former colleague had ruined the Senate. The ruination continues apace.

I’m still glad that Nancy Smash pulled the Tribe Gambit. It has made GOPers look bad to fair-minded members of the public, and resulted in a series of meltdowns by the Impeached Insult Comedian.  He continues to play the victim card. Apparently, he’s the most mistreated and misunderstood president* in history. Who knew? Imagine a president being impeached with such a strong economy. Just ask Bill Clinton about that, Donald.

It’s time for a relevant musical interlude:

These opening lyrics could easily be sung by President* Pennywise:

Just want to be misunderstood
want to be feared in my neighborhood
Just want to be a moody man
Say things that nobody can understand
I want to be obscure and oblique
Inscrutable and vague
So hard to pin down
I want to leave open mouths when I speak
Want people to cry when I put them down

That Pete Townshend is a smart fella. He’s the Cyrano of rock music, after all.

Speaking of heels, Trump is refusing to let John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and Mike Pompeo testify; even behind closed doors. Clearly, they have nothing to hide. #SARCASM

If the terrible trio had exonerating testimony, Trump would beg them to appear in public. This has nothing to do with executive privilege or national security. It’s defiance in the face of the facts. I suspect Pompeo is pleased not to have to perjure himself. He can stick to lying on the Sunday shows.

Frank Rich wrote a great piece for New York Magazine, What Will Happen To The Trump Toadies? In which he posits that they’ll get their comeuppance sooner or later. Nick Lowe said much the same thing way back in 1983:

Who knew that Pete Townshend and Nick Lowe would prove to be so prescient about the current president*? Not even a fan boy like me.

Let’s finish this potpourri post on a lighter note. It involves chicken, not tigers.

I Yam What I Yam: A contestant on the Canadian version of Family Feud mixed up her food groups; substituting chicken for spinach as Popeye the Sailor’s favorite food:

Love that chicken from Popeye’s.

I wonder if the toon liked yams since he was wont to say this:

His moocher pal, Wimpy, preferred hamburgers, and Olive Oyl seemed not to eat at all; certainly not fried chicken. Where the hell is this going? In the direction of the last word.

Since I originally called this post Monday Morning, the last word goes to Fleetwood Mac and Death Cab For Cutie:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Life Is A Minestrone

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

It was a long, weird week in New Orleans. I’m one of the officers of the Krewe of Spank and krewe stuff ate my week. We have an early parade date, Saturday February 8th so the typical tumult and chaos have arrived early. If you’re religious, pray for me. If not, have a drink in my honor. This too will pass.

I selected this week’s theme song because all the talk in my latest 13th Ward Rambler column about Spaghetti Westerns gave me an earworm, which led, in turn, to the Warhol featured image. I seem to be more impressionable than I thought.

Life Is A Minestrone was written in 1975 by brothers-in-law Lol Creme and Eric Stewart for 10cc’s Original Soundtrack album. It’s a cheerful ditty with surreal, punny lyrics so, quite naturally, I like it

What’s not to love about a song whose chorus goes like this:

“Life is a minestrone, served up with parmesan cheese.

Death is a cold lasagne, suspended in deep freeze.”

Now that we’ve had soup and an entree, it’s time for dessert:

I had never thought of those tunes as musical kin before but they are. Surreal food wordplay reigns supreme as we jump to the break.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: New Year With Guy Lombardo

I’m on the record as hating New Years Eve. It’s over as is the Decayed Decade. But it’s Wednesday so I made a seasonal selection. I still, however, refuse to wear a silly party hat. They look ridiculous on my size 8 head.

Before there was Ryan Seacrest, Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen, and drunk Don Lemon, there was Guy Lombardo. Hell, Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve started as counter programming to Lombardo and his big band.

Here’s Lombardo’s final NYE performance:

Happy New Year from New Orleans. Hopefully, it will be a better year for all of us than 2019.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Swinging On A Star

Tchoupitoulas Christmas House photograph by Dr A.

We’ve been on a weather yo-yo all month. There have been several days where the drop in temperature was so drastic that the high was at midnight. It’s not Wisconsin cold but it’s damp and humid, which exaggerates how chilly it feels. It’s fucking cold, y’all.

New Orleans is an old city with an aging infrastructure. It seems to have rebelled this week: we’ve had collapses, explosions, water main ruptures, and a literal shit storm. The citizenry are getting cranky and blaming the current Mayor for decades of neglect. It’s unfair but she makes it worse by speaking in jargon. Mayor Cantrell actually said that she was “leaning in and being intentional” to help solve our infrastructure woes. It would help if we understood what the hell she means.

This week’s theme song was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke in 1944 for the Bing Crosby movie, Going My Way. It was one of the biggest hits of the year and won Oscars for best picture, actor, and supporting actor. Der Bingle was the show biz king that year.

We have three versions of Swinging On A Star for your listening pleasure: Bing Crosby, his frenemy, Frank Sinatra, and an R&B version by Big Dee Irwin and Little Eva.

I’m a bit dizzy from swinging on that star so let’s pause before jumping to the break.

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There Aren’t SIDES

Here’s some dumbassery to start your Sunday:

Once more and for all the marbles, being a homophobic asshole who doesn’t want other people to exist is not a “side.” A “side” is Bears-Packers, or sausage-pepperoni, or winter-summer. These things are “sides.” They are valid lifestyle choices (well, maybe not the Bears thing) and opinions you can differ from your neighbors upon.

But if you’re out here mad that lesbians exist, that’s just being shit at being a human being.

There isn’t a “debate” about this “issue.” Marriage equality is legal, people are out of the closet kissing each other, the “debate” is over, church lady up there lost, and it’s time for them to move on, not for us to keep indulging them in a conversation about nothing. Christ, these people.

If you are out here, in the year of Our Lord Chrisjen Avasarala 2019  shrieking at a commercial on a Hallmark movie starring, I dunno, Jennifer Love Hewitt or someone, because you had to see two girls get married, you don’t need your SIDE validated. You need a HOBBY.

God, I do not GET the appeal of being this much of a rage-monkey. You know what I did this weekend? I took my kid to see two separate Santas and pet a baby reindeer and then tried to explain why Santa could be in two places in one day and look so very different (“there are decoys,” she said) and baked cookies and watched old episodes of Scooby Doo and ordered presents online and fucked around on my phone and went to a party and wrote this post and if something on TV upset me I changed the channel because there are 800 of them now and 9 streaming services and seven of those services have Star Wars shows. What is WRONG with you, you spend your time screaming at Hallmark about 30 seconds of lesbians?

And as for you “what about the children” ho-bags, lemme tell you something about the children. If you’re forcing them to watch Mother May I Sleep With Santa with you while you suck down your watered-down pink moscato through a curly straw, they are not thinking about the ladies getting hitched when they see that commercial.

What they are thinking, depending on their ages, is how to hit up Santa for that dumb unicorn toy that shits glitter, and/or how soon they can blow your backwards-ass pop-stand and go live somewhere where people aren’t channeling their rage at their cat-appliqued sweater-clad loserdom into ruining everyone else’s fun.

I have to see shit on TV every day that I don’t like. I have to see the literal earth on fire while one-toothed Cletuses talk about how Donald Trump can violate their mothers and they’ll still support him. Put the FEC complaint form DOWN. You don’t have a valid “side.”

And by giving you one, Hallmark’s doing what we’re all doing right now which has led to us being so fucked. Everybody has an opinion and all opinions are equal, even though mine is about how the Bears suck and so do onion rings, and yours is about how women who love women shouldn’t exist. I mean, being a Nazi is a “side” now, to which we must pay the same uncritical attention as we pay to milquetoast lefties who want to teach children to read.

No, that’s not right, we pay less attention to the leftists.

Just stop it. Stop using this dumb shorthand so as not to piss anybody off. Not only will it not work, not all pissed-off-ness is equal, and while Hallmark movies may be harmless fantasy, legitimizing homophobic shittitude as a “side” is anything but.

Schmucks.

A.

British Election Notes

One of my odder hobbies was the focus of my attention last night, the 2019 British general election. The result was depressingly predictable: the Tories won again. They’ve been in power 67 of 101 years since the Liberals blew themselves up with the feud between Asquith and Lloyd George. They moved into third party status and Labour became the other big party. Neither the Lib Dems nor Labour had a good night.

A good night was had by Boris Johnson who ran a vague, substance free campaign with a specific simplistic slogan: “Get Brexit Done.” The result of Johnson’s English nationalism is likely to be a disunited kingdom: the Scottish National Party won big in their bailiwick as well. Hence the featured image of the Scottish Saltire and the Union Jack. If Brexit gets done, the SNP wants out of the union. Stay tuned.

Nobody does election coverage better than the BBC. Their set looked like a cross between a spaceship and a medieval castle. Their graphics are whimsically informative. And it’s always good to see our old pal the Swing-O-Meter, which began life as a low-tech spinning wheel thingamabob. It’s now haute high tech: green screen all the way. I prefer the 1964 model:

I also prefer the result in 1964 when Harold Wilson led Labour back to power after 13 years in the wilderness. Labour spends so much time in the wilderness that they must be expert campers. They’ve lost 4 straight elections and will spend a minimum of 14 years in the wilderness this time around.

Social media was full of Americans projecting our politics on the British election. It has no meaning for us given the core issues of the campaign: Brexit and the awfulness of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The real lesson of the election is this: do not run a candidate with negatives ranging anywhere from -40 to -61.  Many Labourites knew they had a problem but a previous attempt to oust Corbyn failed miserably and they were stuck with him. The Tories are much better at defenestration. Chop.

The response of the Corbynistas to defeat was unintentionally hilarious. Like ideologues everywhere, they came up with a party line and stuck to it. They swore that their policies were popular, but Brexit did them in. There’s a kernel of truth in the Brexit part: they lost many Northern seats that were pro-remain. There’s a huge BUT coming, their dear leader had negatives ranging anywhere from -40 to -61.

Corbyn announced what he hopes will be a slow-motion exit from the Labour leadership. I’m not sure that he’ll be able to hang on that long. Stay tuned.

It was a relief to focus on the dysfunctional politics of another country for one night. I watched bits and pieces of the Judiciary committee’s mark-up hearing. I got  a headache listening to Matt Gaetz who looks and sounds like the preppie villain in a slasher movie set on a college campus.

We’re cursed to live in interesting times. We don’t need to make them even more interesting by believing that the British election results will determine our own in 2020. Boris Johnson is terrible but he’s not Donald Trump terrible. Trump and congressional Republicans are the ones with high negatives.

In addition to high negatives, Trump has some other similarities to Jeremy Corbyn. Both men are surrounded by sycophants who tell them what they want to hear. They’re incurious and reject facts that displease them. Neither Corbyn nor Trump is capable of admitting error, that quality killed Labour’s chances in 2019. Self-image is important to both Trump and Corbyn: they don’t see themselves as the rest of the world sees them.  The major difference is ideological. Corbyn believes in something whereas Trump only believes in himself. Believe me.

Finally, one thing I love about election nights, UK style is how late things go on. It’s impossible not to sound punchy at 4 AM. The Brits are good at muddling through, which is a good quality to emulate. It’s what I’m doing right now.

The last word goes to the Kinks. It’s not a political song but it rocks. We all need to rock more.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Suspicious Minds

Charing Cross Bridge by Andre Derain.

It’s Pearl Harbor Day. This Saturday might live in infamy for another reason: we’re attending a top-secret event in an undisclosed location this evening. I can’t tell you what it is but if you’re a member of a certain benign but bawdy organization, you know what I’m talking about. If not, you may be feeling thoroughly befuddled. So it goes.

Speaking of bombs, the 2019 British general election is heading into the homestretch. I haven’t written about it because it’s so depressing. The two big parties have terrible leaders neither of whom is fit to be Prime Minister but Corbyn is the lesser of two evils. Bozza the Bozo who currently holds the job has bad hair and an even worse slogan: “Get Brexit Done.” The pro-European Union Liberal Democrats shot themselves in the foot by declaring they could win the election when they currently have 20 seats. They’re still limping away from that absurd declaration. Making matters worse is that the Tories deserve to lose and there’s a good chance that they’ll win.

This week’s theme song was written and recorded by Mark James in 1968. His version bombed but Elvis Presley’s did not. It became the King’s’ biggest hit of the Sixties.

We have multiple versions of Suspicious Minds for your listening pleasure: Mark James, Elvis, Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter, and a reggae version by the Heptones.

Now that you’re suspicious, let’s clear the air by jumping to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Time Won’t Let Me

Hummingbirds by Walter Inglis Anderson.

I hope everyone had a festive and gluttonous Thanksgiving. We had a double header: first in Red Stick with the surviving outlaw, then in the evening with our friends Will and Jennifer. Will is the King Cake Baron of New Orleans. I just wanted to prove that I don’t hate *all* royals, certainly not those that may involve royal icing. I’m not sure if that joke made any sense but when did that ever stop me?

This week’s theme song was written in 1966 by Tom King and Chad Kelly in 1965 for their band, The Outsiders. It was a big hit, reaching #5 on the Billboard charts.

We have three versions of Time Won’t Let Me for your listening pleasure: The Outsiders original, a 1981 version by Iggy Pop, and a 1994 version recorded by The Smithereens for use in the movie Timecop.

Time for another timely tune; hopefully time *will* let me post it:

Time’s a wasting for us to jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Still Learning How To Fly

Der Vogelmensch by Max Ernst.

It’s been colder than hell in New Orleans this week. It’s not Wisconsin cold but it’s fucking cold. We had some electrical issues that one of my Spank krewe mates fixed. It’s good to know “people who need people” I understand they “are the luckiest people in the world.” I cannot believe I just went there. In order to salvage my cool cred, here’s some Oscar Peterson:

It’s election day in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. I’m cautiously optimistic that Blue Dog Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards will be re-elected. I hope the voters will remember that Coach O wants them to vote for the Governor. Geaux, Tigers. Geaux, Team Blue.

This week’s theme song was written in 2003 by Rodney Crowell. It’s the opening track of his Fate’s Right Hand album and features one of his finest couplets: “Life’s been good, I guess. My ragged old heart’s been blessed.”

We have two versions of Still Learning How To Fly for your listening pleasure. The original with a full band and a live acoustic rendition.

While we’re in mid flight, how about a song with a similar title by an equally great artist?

It’s time to land. See you on the other side of the break.

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Instant Analysis: Impeachment Hearing Day Two

I’m on record as disliking hot takes but since consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, here are my hot takes on Ambassador Yovanovitch’s testimony:

—> Masha mashed it. Her opening statement was compelling. She’s soft-spoken, which meant that people had to listen carefully. I’m not sure if Jim Jordan has ever listened to anyone in his benighted life. He certainly didn’t listen to the molested wrestlers at Ohio State.

The Ambassador was as impressive as GOPers were unimpressive. Their questions were confusing as well as confused. Nutty conspiracy theories are hard to follow. I’m talking to you Devin Nunes. Don’t have a cow, man.

—> I tweeted my thoughts on Yovanovitch’s opening statement:

—> The  morning break taken by Chairman Schiff was exquisitely timed. It allowed him to describe Trump’s odious AM tweet as witness tampering. It was surreal to watch Yovanovitch respond in real time. Here was my reaction:

—> Republican counsel Steve Castor is lucky that he’s on the Insult Comedian’s side. He’s boring and sleepy-eyed, which means that Trump would call him Sleepy Steve. I’d almost rather hear Gym Jordan. Almost.

—> Congresswoman Elise Stefanik seemed to be auditioning for a slot on either The Real Housewives of New Jersey or New York but given her demeanor, she’d  be a  better fit with Tre, Melissa, and the Gorga gang:

Now that I think of it, Jim Jordan is the Juicy Joe of the GOP caucus.

I hope you’re not scarred for life by that image but it has to be said, uh, shown.

—> Committee Republicans were a tad less flamboyant today. I think the Insult Comedian’s nasty tweet put a damper on their theatrics. Besides, Masha is a cool customer and GOPers failed to get under her skin. Chris Stewart under one’s skin? What a creepy thought and image; much worse than Joe Giudice’s tattooed torso.

—> Whistleblower, whistleblower, whisteblower.

In other news, Roger Stone was convicted on seven counts today. So far, Trump still admits to knowing him but this cannot be too far in the future:

I wonder if he and Rog have had any perfect phone calls? Everything he does is perfect, after all. The last word goes to Badfinger:

Vindman’s Good Twin & Other Oddities

We’re all familiar with the trope about evil twins. It turns out that key impeachment inquiry witness Alexander Vindman has a good twin:

Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an NSC lawyer specializing in ethics, may be asked to testify in the wake of his twin brother’s, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s, bombshell hearing this week.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Yevgeny Vindman witnessed the decision to move the call memo of President Donald Trump’s conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to the secure server. During that conversation, Alexander Vindman also voiced his concerns to NSC lawyer John Eisenberg about the content of the call.

What are the odds that twin brothers are both army officers working at the White House? Cue The Twilight Zone theme.

I’m surprised that the Insult Comedian and his media minions haven’t concocted some twin-based conspiracy theory to explain away Trump’s phone call follies. I guess none of them have seen David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers in which doctor twins trade places to be all evil and shit.  That would be too clever for the peabrains in the White House.

Instead, Team Trump is likely to mutter about foreignness and otherness. President* Pennywise seems to have developed a pathological hatred of Ukrainians, which is particularly obscene in regard to the Vindman brothers whose parent are Jews who fled persecution in the Soviet Union. Remember when the GOP was the party of the firiest  Cold Warriors? The airport guys, Ronald Reagan and John Foster Dulles, are rolling in the graves right now.

In other odd scandal news, I was struck by this image of former NSC Russia expert, Timothy Morrison, on his way to testify:

It looks like a scene out of the old teevee series Land Of The Giants. I googled Morrison’s height and he turns out to be a 7-footer. No wonder there are no pictures of him with his former master.

It won’t be long until Morrison is denounced by his fellow right-wingers as a teller of tall tales. Those are shots he’s likely to block: he’s certainly got the wingspan.

It’s time to tie the disparate threads of this post together with a They Might Be Giants song, My Evil Twin:

I know I said that Yevgeny Vindman was Alexander’s good twin. What’s a little artistic license among friends?

Speaking of twin tunes, the last word goes to Elvis Costello:

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Things We Said Today

Circus Sideshow by Georges Seurat.

Fall has finally fallen, fuck yeah. The AC is switched off since it has been in the low to mid 70’s all week. Autumn is a short season in New Orleans so we have to enjoy it while it lasts. I even wore a sweatshirt the other day. Not a big deal where many of you live but after the hottest September on record, I am giddy

In honor of the season, I’m growing a beard for the first time in several years. But if it gets too itchy, I’ll shave it off. Perhaps I should try some hipster beard oil or some such shit. I draw the line at a man bun; not that I have enough hair to have one but if I did, I wouldn’t.

The big local story continues to be the Hard Rock Hotel collapse. They imploded the cranes last Sunday, which made things less bad. We’ll take less bad, y’all.  I’m hoping that City Hall will learn a lesson from this mess and stop letting developers run over them in the future. Real estate developers are the worst.

This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon & McCartney but it’s more Macca than John. It’s one of my favorite early Beatles songs, yeah, yeah, yeah. Or as Paul would say, WOOOOO.

We have three versions of Things We Said Today for your listening pleasure: the Beatles original, Dwight Yoakam’s 1997 cover, and a more recent version by New Orleans singer, Debbie Davis.

It’s time to stop talking and jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Begin The Beguine

Masks by Emil Nolde.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why I Didn’t Watch The CNN Debate

The Tweeter Tube was jam packed with complaints about last night’s Democratic presidential debate. Some were shocked that it was set up to maximize conflict and drama. I was not. It was one reason I did not watch.

For many years, CNN has packaged debates as if they were reality shows. Reality shows require conflict and drama to hold the audience’s interest. While that might be true of a debate as well, that’s not what the candidates are there for. Their goal is to get their message out. That’s hard to do when the moderators want the candidates to comment on the other guy’s message.

A three-hour long debate with twelve candidates is simply too long and overcrowded. It’s aimed at filling time on CNN, not informing the voters. It’s also cruel and unusual punishment to force candidates to go that long without a pee break.

I don’t know about you but I’m fine with never hearing from Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, and Tulsi Gabbard again. The two rich guys have no chance of being nominated and the Congresscritter from Hawaii sounds like she’s planning to run as an independent apologist for the Assad regime. The other candidates are viable until they’re not. Someone else is bound to drop out some time soon.

The biggest problem I have with the MSM focus on debates is two-fold. First, they have nothing to with governing. Normal presidents make important decisions in conjunction with advisers and experts. Second, debates don’t matter in the long run. It’s more important whether a candidate has a strong message and a good organization in the early states. John Kerry and Hillary Clinton were dominant in their general election debates but lost.

I may watch the next time around but if Tulsi is there gabbing, in the immortal words of movie mogul Sam Goldwyn, “include me out.”

The Leopards Finally Ate Shep Smith’s Face

*headline reference

Just spare me the eulogies for Shepard Smith’s career, please.

Twitter on Friday was full of fawning takes about how he was the best person at Fox, which is like being the least slutty person at Caligula’s last orgy. You’re still there while the watersports and bestial bukkake are happening, my dude, and it’s not like the doors were locked behind you.

Let’s review some of things Fox and its creatures engaged in during Shep’s principled time there, which did not outrage him enough to quit his job.

Bill O’Reilly, all by himself:

  • Said he “didn’t hear a word” Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) was saying because he “was looking at her James Brown wig.”
  • Leered at a female black employee at Fox News and called her “hot chocolate.”
  • Was surprised and amazed when he went to a restaurant in Harlem and found it was a normal restaurant where people weren’t screaming “M-Fer, I want more iced tea.”
  • Questioned how Trump would help black people get jobs when most of them “are ill-educated and have tattoos on their foreheads.”
  • Blamed Freddie Gray’s “lifestyle” for his death.

Here’s Glenn Beck:

Glenn Beck, the host of an eponymous afternoon commentary show, stated in 2009 that he believes President Obama is “a racist” and has “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”[155] These remarks drew criticism, and resulted in a boycott promulgated by Color of Change.[156] The boycott resulted in 80 advertisers requesting their ads be removed from his programming, to avoid associating their brands with content that could be considered offensive by potential customers. He later apologized for the remarks, telling Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace that he has a “big fat mouth” and miscast as racism what is actually, as he theorizes, Obama’s belief in black theology.[156][157][158][159][160][161][162][163] Beck left Fox News in June 2011 after 29 months with the network.[164][165]

Here’s a good video review of how even the cooking shows were racist:

These were the actions of a company from which Shepard Smith was just fine cashing checks. These were the actions of his colleagues, his comrades in journalism, his friends. This was the operation to which he was in no way, and at no time, morally opposed.

At least, not enough to tell them to take this job and shove it.

So now Shepard Smith is gonna go write his book about being the Last Honest Man, or start a Twitter feed of all the ways in which the modern conservative movement disappoints him and betrays its high-minded ideals and is just so Very Coarse These Days. He will be lauded for it across Totebag Nation, at academic events and debate venues throughout the land. And anyone who points out that he was in fact for decades a pleasant face of the racist, fascist, GOP-run NRA-banked propaganda operation that has done incalculable damage to what was once our democracy will be derided as some silly, strident, impractical leftist.

I’ll be screaming it outside the Aspen Ideas Festival, nonetheless. I know you’re all good for the bail money.

Much was made of his work after Katrina, his moment of moral clarity calling out the catastrophic failure of Republican-run America to fulfill the promises it made to its citizens.

But I’d like to know. Why wasn’t that enough for him to quit?

Why wasn’t that moment, or a thousand thousand like it, enough for him to say, I will no longer be a part of what is obviously a force for evil? It was obvious, even then, to viewers watching at home that Fox was conservative-run and conservative-backed; why wasn’t the exposure of the ugly underbelly of what conservatism had done to America and would continue to do reason for him to jump ship?

Why wasn’t any of the unhinged nonsense during the Obama years enough to encourage him to bail? The Tea Party and the white nationalism it encouraged? Why did he not look at “terrorist fist jab” or “do you make Kool-Aid” or “Santa Claus is white” and say fuck you guys, man, this isn’t okay? Why did it take Trump for this to come to a head? Where has he BEEN all this time?

Shepard Smith has spent 23 years at the behest of an organization that has made America worse, and now we’re supposed to publicly grieve his leaving it? Because he wasn’t as bad as the rest of them? We’re supposed to feel sorry for him because his boss, a known ratfucker, fucked him, a rat?

Sorry. I’ve got immigrant kids in cages to feel sorry for, fresh out of sympathy around here.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Something’s Gotta Give

Piazza d’Italia by Giorgio di Chirico.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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