Category Archives: Television

Saturday Odds & Sods: Is That All There Is?

Self Portrait After The Spanish Flu by Edvard Munch.

My sleep pattern remains wacked out. This lifelong night person has become a morning writer. I’ve even awakened before Dr. A a few times and fed the cat. Both she and PD were disoriented. Such is life during the pandemic.

I decided to use one of Edvard Munch’s lesser known works as this week’s featured image. It’s a reminder than one can survive even the worst pandemic. It also explains why he was such a Gloomy Gus. Of course, he was Norwegian; it goes with the territory.

This week’s theme song was written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller in 1968. They shopped it around before finding the perfect singer: Peggy Lee. I’ll have more about Miss Peggy Lee and our theme song after the jump.

We have two versions of Is That All There Is? for your listening pleasure: the Peggy Lee original and a swell cover by the woman whose name I cannot stop saying, Chaka Khan. It’s a mantra in my family and it should be in yours. Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan.

Our next musical pairing involves a title that’s similar to Miss Peggy Lee’s last hit. To add to the needless complexity of this post, they’re different tunes.

You say this, I say that. Let’s call the whole thing off.

Now that we’ve questioned everything, let’s take a dubious leap of faith and jump to the break

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Twit Takes On Twitter

President* Pennywise has been a busy boy of late: pitching fits and issuing orders left and right. Far right.

It’s unclear how meaningful Trump’s social media executive order will be. I was initially dismissive but the good people at TPM think it will, at the very least, cause chaos and confusion. It’s all the Trump regime seems capable of right now. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

One group that seems likely to benefit are lawyers, which is ironic given all the Republican fulmination about trial lawyers, especially here in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Phony Eddie Rispone spent much of his losing campaign attacking billboard lawyers. So it goes.

As with so much of Trump’s recent flailing about, the twit taking on Twitter is a sign of weakness. Twitter was afraid of Trump until recently. His inane and untrue rantings put the platform on the map: people who wouldn’t know a twit from a tweet have heard of it thanks to the Impeached Insult Comedian.

The fact that Jack Dorsey and his minions have turned on Trump is a sign that he’s losing. So much for all the winning the Kaiser of Chaos promised his supporters. It’s another sign that he’s following in the footsteps of Charlie, not Martin Sheen. The latter played a fictional president who was re-elected. That prospect is slipping away, which brings us to a brief musical interlude;

That song should be inapposite as it’s about a lost love, but Trump is acting like a scorned lover rejected by the Tweeter Tube. Oh well, he’ll always have Mark Zuckerberg.

I stumbled into a piece this morning that perfectly captures Trump’s latest toddler tantrum:

And what kind of president issues an executive order only to defend himself? This action is only because his feelings were hurt. This executive order doesn’t have anything to do with protecting anyone except Donald Trump. While the Trump cult and Republicans label liberals as ‘snowflakes,’ they are the most vicitimed and whiny people on the planet. Their leader is such a snowflake that he’s issuing an executive order because his feelings were hurt. In case you’re a Republican, THIS is why there’s a great big giant Trump Baby balloon. And the worst thing is, Twitter hasn’t even restricted him. He can still lie and defame people on Twitter without any empathy.

In short, Trump is what a friend of mine calls a whiny titty baby. He should stick a pacifier in his big fat bazoo and STFU. We all know he’s incapable of that, but I can dream, can’t I?

The last word goes to Richard Thompson with a song that fits Trump’s current losing streak:

The nerve of some people. I don’t know who you think you are.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Shapes Of Things

Abstraction by Rolph Scarlett.

I don’t have a helluva lot to add to what I said as the 13th Ward Rambler earlier this week. I’m still keeping my head down during the lockdown. We’ve had a few front porch visitors, which breaks the monotony and allows Paul Drake to make goo-goo eyes at company and get his nose prints all over the lower glass panes of our front door.

This week’s theme song was written by Paul Samwell-Smith, Keith Relf, and Jim McCarty in 1966 and represented a  sonic breakthrough for The Yardbirds. The tune’s Wikipedia entry is absurdly detailed and argues that Jeff Beck should have received a songwriting credit as well. It’s okay: Beck assumed de facto ownership of the song after recording it with The Jeff Beck Group on 1968’s Truth album.

We have three versions of Shapes Of Things for your listening pleasure: the Yardbirds original, the Jeff Beck Group, and David Bowie from Pin-Ups. They’re all shapely and thingy:

Now that we’ve shaped things and contemplated Jeff Beck’s guitar virtuosity, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Drift Away

The Sleeping Girl by Pablo Picasso

Summer is slowly but surely returning to New Orleans. The first two weeks of May were blissfully temperate but summer’s cauldron has begun to boil. It’s unclear if it’s a Pepper Pot but you never can tell.

We had a serious thunderstorm in the wee small hours of Friday morning. I originally planned to put PD’s big ass box out with the trash but thought better of it. I wish I could claim second sight but I’m glad I didn’t have to scoop wet cardboard off the grass.

I did not know until googling information about this week’s theme song that Mentor Williams was Paul Williams’ kid brother. It’s unclear if Paul mentored Mentor in the songwriter’s craft but the older brother never wrote a song as good as Drift Away. Mentor W wrote it in 1970 and after several misfires it became a monster hit for Dobie Gray in the summer of 1973. One couldn’t escape its refrain:

“Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul.
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away.”

We have two versions of Drift Away for your listening pleasure by Dobie Gray and my 13th Ward homies the Neville Brothers.

I know there was a hit version of the song in 2002. I refuse to post a video by anyone who spells cracker with a K. Take that, Uncle Kracker.

Let’s pay a visit to Disambiguation City with the Kinks hard rocking, Drift Away. It sounds nothing like Mentor W’s song but it’s a classic in its own right.

I hope your attention isn’t drifting away. If it is, the time is right to jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Can’t Let Go

Masks by Jackson Pollock

We had some first world problems at Adrastos World HQ this week: a cable box containing 60 episodes of Law & Order died. I battled the provider to a draw but losing the season-5 episodes with the perfect L&O cast of Orbach, Noth, Merkerson, Waterson, Hennessy, and Hill hurt:

Law & Order is my pandemic jam and it’s not currently on a streaming service. I can’t let go of the craving.Told ya this was a first world problem.

I hope that those of you who have read my previously unpublished law school mystery, Tongue In The Mail, enjoyed it. If you haven’t read it, give it a shot by clicking on this link. The serialization is dead, long live the serialization.

This week we have a trio of theme songs with the same title. Our first Can’t Let Go was written by Bryan Ferry for his 1978 solo album The Bride Stripped Bare. Here’s a double dose with the studio original and Roxy Music live:

Our second Can’t Let Go was written by Lucinda Williams for her classic 1998 album, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road:

Our final Can’t Let Go was written by Bill Meyers, Maurice White, and Allee Willis for Earth Wind & Fire’s 1979 album I Am.

I don’t know about you but I’m having a hard time letting go. Perhaps a jump to the break is in order.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Ghost Of You Walks

Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

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

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

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

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

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

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Quote Of The Day: Six Feet Under Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday Odds & Sods: Gethsemane

Night Windows by Edward Hopper.

Richard Thompson-Edward Hopper month continues. We begin with with a weather bulletin of sorts. Y’all are used to my weather obsession by now.

We had a cold front in New Orleans this week. Nighttime lows hovered around 50 several nights in a row. That may not sound like much to people from the frozen north but by our standards that’s cold for mid-April. Some locals whined about the cold, but I like it. Some folks just like to bitch. You know who you are; piss off out of my virtual kitchen.

Every time I search for Hopper paintings online, I’m told he was an “American realist” painter. That’s what he called himself, but his work is deeply weird. The painting above reminds me of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. I’ve never thought of Hitch as a realistic filmmaker even if regular guy Jimmy Stewart starred in that flick. His character was a laid-up photographer turned peeping tom. That’s weird, not realistic.

Sunday is Greek Easter, so I decided to pick a Richard Thompson tune with religious undertones. According to Mark and other bible dudes, Gethsemane was the garden at which Jesus prayed before his betrayal and arrest. It still exists and is a tourist attraction with an elaborate web site.

Gethsemane is also the title of this week’s theme song. It was written by Richard Thompson in 2003 for The Old Kit Bag. It’s an ominous sounding song that opens with this ominous verse.

“Among the headstones you played as boys
Crypts and tombs like a roomful of toys
Just up the river from the smoke and the noise
Gethsemane.”

We have two versions of Gethsemane for your listening pleasure: the studio original and a recent solo acoustic interpretation by the songwriter.

There’s also a song from Jesus Christ Superstar called Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say.) Here’s the original cast recording with Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan in the title role.

I suspect playing Jesus Christ Superstar was nothing like working with Ritchie Blackmore. They did, however, produce some swell music:

Christ on a cracker, that rocked.

All this talk of Jesus and betrayal reminds me of this Asia tune:

Let’s flee the garden and jump to the break.

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I, Captain Bligh

Captains Bligh: Charles Laughton, Trevor Howard, Anthony Hopkins.

I’m out of the habit of posting the Impeached Insult Comedian’s tweets. He spends so much time preening, posturing, bragging, and lying on tevee that his Twitter feed feels redundant. I wish *he* were redundant in the British sense: out of work. Let’s make it so in November.

Back to President* Pennywise’s latest weird tweet. I’m not sure if he wrote it himself since there are some big words in it but it’s revealing nonetheless:

Invigorating? Too fancy for the Kaiser of Chaos who speaks and “writes” in what the late Philip Roth called “jerkish.” Or as Truman Capote said about Jack Kerouac, “it’s not writing, it’s typing.” Capote’s beatdown of the beat writer was rooted in jealousy. Like Trump, he always had to be the center of attention.

The tweet is also vague as to which version of Mutiny on the Bounty Trump prefers:

  • The 1935 Frank Lloyd-Charles Laughton-Clark Gable version?
  • The 1962 Lewis Milestone-Carol Reed-Trevor Howard-Marlon Brando version?
  • The 1984 Roger Donaldson-Anthony Hopkins-Mel Gibson version is called The Bounty but it’s about mutiny, not a candy bar. It’s even based on a different book, but a mutiny is a mutiny is a mutiny.

Trump seems to identify with Captain Bligh. He’s under the mistaken impression that Captain Bligh was the hero of the piece. That’s another figment of his fertile fantasy life. The American Film Institute named Captain Bligh the #19th most loathsome screen villain ever. Btw, the feature is interactive: another time killer for the pandemic.

I suspect most governors would be glad to be identified with the big screen Fletcher Christians except for the one on the right in the triptych below:

Fletcher Christians: Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, Mel Gibson.

Fletcher Christian was the bull goose mutineer and the hero of the first two bounteous films. The 1984 movie was more ambiguous properly befitting a movie starring anti-Semitic nut job Mel Gibson. Not that President* Pennywise and ambiguity are on speaking terms or even passing acquaintances. I’d pass on meeting him myself…

Marlon Brando over-identified with Fletcher Christian. He staged his own mutiny against original director Carol Reed. Brando denounced the maker of Odd Man Out and The Third Man as a hack unworthy of sailing on the same tall ship as the great Marlon Brando. He engineered Reed’s firing in favor of the more pliable Lewis Milestone. It was a tantrum worthy of the Kaiser of Chaos or even the original Kaiser Bill:

What’s the purpose of this post? Other than making my readers laugh? The proof is in this pudding: the Kaiser of Chaos has delusions of grandeur and fantasies of exiling Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsome to Pitcairn Island. If, that is, he had a clue as to what I’m talking about. Maybe I should make a Survivor exile island analogy instead, the president* and Mark Burnett are bosom buddies, after all. Not to be confused with Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari in the sitcom of that name:

I’m terribly fond of the novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman. It was the first grown-up book I ever read. I recall devouring Mutiny on the Bounty while bedridden with some malady when I was 11 or 12 years old. I never for a second identified with Captain Bligh. Just as I’d rather walk the plank or swing from the yardarm than vote for Donald Trump.

The last word goes to Bugs Bunny in Mutiny on the Bunny:

Bugs morphed into Captain Bligh in Buccaneer Bunny:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Walking On A Wire

Gas Station by Edward Hopper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the trailer:

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

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

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

Saturday Odds & Sods: For Shame Of Doing Wrong

New York Movie by Edward Hopper.

I’m trying something different this month. I’m pairing the artwork of Edward Hopper with the music of Richard Thompson. Each Saturday in April will feature a different EH image and RT tune. I think they work well together.

My oak pollen allergy has been bonkers this year. We’ve hit a prolonged dry patch: no rain since some time in February. We tend towards extremes in New Orleans. It either rains too much or not at all. The happy medium is unknown in our forecasting annals.

The worst thing about this allergy season during the pandemic is that it’s hard for me to go outside at all. The last time I took a walk, I had a pollen related sneezing jag, which led some fellow strollers to glare at me as if I were Typhoid Mary. So it goes.

This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson for the Pour Down Like Silver album. I have a soft spot for that album: it was the first RT album I ever purchased but not until 10 years after its release. I was a late RT bloomer.

We have three versions of For Shame Of Doing Wrong for your listening pleasure: the Richard and Linda studio original, a poppy version produced by Gerry Rafferty, and a cover by RT’s former Fairport band mate, Sandy Denny.

Is it shameful that I like the poppy version from Rafferty’s Folly? Hell, I like the song below too. It was inescapable in 1978:

As I hang my head for shame of doing wrong, let’s jump to the break in a shameless manner.

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My Pillow Talk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Nine Lives

Dr. A and I are watching the current season of Ozark on Netflix. There’s an REO Speedwagon sub-plot of all things. Wendy Byrd (Laura Linney) is told that her casino can secure a dental meeting if they hire “The Wagon” to entertain thereby taking us from yacht rock to dentist rock.

Nine Lives was released in 1979. It was the band’s last stand as a hard rock group. It has nothing to do with another Netflix series: The Tiger King. But the cover is almost as sleazy looking.

The back cover is actually kinda cute:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Time To Kill

The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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21st Century Live Stream Funeral Blues

The other day on social media I posted a link to a WaPo article about the difficulties faced by families who lost loved ones  during the pandemic. It drew a raft of comments because I mentioned my favorite cousin. As First Draft readers know, she died last week.

Today was my cousin’s funeral; attendance was limited to 5 relatives and the people who performed the service. I’m not sure we would have been able to go in normal times, but these are not normal times.

My cousin was a movie buff and the one who introduced me to John Ford’s movies. That’s why the funeral scene from The Searchers is the featured image. Ford knew how to stage a 19th Century funeral in the 20th Century.

My cousin’s service was 21st Century all the way. It was live streamed by her church in Dallas. I nearly put live stream in quotes as the transmission was erratic until the last 10 minutes of the mass. At one point we tried streaming on 5 different devices: 2 iPhones, a laptop, desktop, and an iPad. The latter worked the best. Score one for Apple.

It was such a struggle that we started to laugh at the absurdity. I knew my cousin wouldn’t have minded. She was devout but she had an irreverent side: as a young woman, she acted with Nick Nolte at a community theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. Nolte was wild even then so a little laughter from her New Orleans kin wouldn’t have phased my cousin.

As I laughed, I thought of Chuckles Bites The Dust; the episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show wherein the station clown dies at the “hands” (trunk?) of an elephant while dressed in a peanut costume. The rest of the gang makes sick jokes about the death of Chuckles, but Mary Richards is made of sterner stuff. (The best joke came from snarky news writer Murray Slaughter: “Born in a trunk, died in one.”)  Instead, Mary laughed her ass off during the funeral service after the minister recited the Chuckles credo: “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down the pants.”

I know what those of you who know us IRL are thinking. You’re casting Dr. A as Mary and me as Lou Grant. Twenty years ago, I would have objected but I’ve grown into my Lou Grantness. I was always a curmudgeon but now I have Ed Asner’s hairline and paunch.

I don’t blame the church for my 21st Century live stream blues. It’s hard to imagine a more difficult place from which to transmit than a church. What can ya do?

Condolences to Chris, Xander, and Chloe. The good news is that they’d understand our finding the live stream fail funny. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Perhaps that’s why the iPad worked best.

John Ford’s funeral scenes typically used Let’s All Gather At The River as music. But I’d like to use an equally solemn river song. The last word goes to The Band who headlined the first concert I attended. My favorite cousin was the one who took me.

R.I.P. Tina, you will be missed.

The Day I Get Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of Freedom, man:

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

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

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

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

First some lobby cards:

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

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

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

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

Here’s the trailer:

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

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

The last word goes to Talking Heads:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Gates Of Delirium

Cover of Relayer by Roger Dean.

It’s been a tough week in the Big Uneasy and everywhere else on planet for that matter. The good news is that Governor John Bel Edwards excels in a crisis. He’s a West Point graduate and he’s brought some military calm to the pandemic. Mayor Cantrell bowed to the inevitable and issued a stay home order for residents of Orleans Parish. She’s doing all the right things but remains verbose in doing them. Every time I see her on teevee, my inner speechwriter dies a little.

This week’s theme song was composed by Yes for 1974’s Relayer album. The lyrics are by Jon Anderson. It was inspired by Tolstoy’s War and Peace and has four movements:

The song describe a battle, with a prelude, a charge, a moment of victory, and a peace. “It’s not to explain war or denounce it really,” Anderson said. “It’s an emotional description with the slight feeling at the end of, ‘Do we have to go through this forever?”

We have two versions of The Gates Of Delirium for your listening pleasure. The studio original and a 2001 live version with a dadgum Dutch orchestra:

Now that we’re all a bit delirious, here’s a song from Neko Case, KD Lang, and Laura Veirs:

Since we’re at the gates of a delirious new era, let’s jump to the break and see what’s on the other side.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Game Pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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James Lipton, R.I.P.

It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely pop culture hero than James Lipton. After a career behind the scenes, Lipton became a teevee star with Inside The Actors Studio. He died earlier this week at the age of 93.

I always found Lipton weird and intriguing. His hair and beard looked spray painted on but he knew more about acting than anyone this side of Elia Kazan, Stella Adler, or Lee Strasberg. Lipton eschewed gotcha interview tactics and celebrity gossip to discuss the craft of acting.

James Lipton was famous for asking the Pivot Questions. As a tribute to him, here are my answers:

1. What is your favorite word? Eponymous.

2. What is your least favorite word? Utilize.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally? Music.

4. What turns you off? Bigotry of all kinds.

5. What is your favorite curse word? Malaka.

6. What sound or noise do you love? A good three-part harmony.

7. What sound or noise do you hate? Bagpipes, tubas, and jackhammers.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? An old school movie director. I see myself wearing an eye patch and jodhpurs while yelling at the grips.

9. What profession would you not like to do? Skyscraper window washer.The older I get, the more afraid of heights I become.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? “How the hell did you get in here?”

The last word goes to Mr. Lipton himself: