Category Archives: Television

Saturday Odds & Sods: Late In The Evening

Father Mississippi by Walter Inglis Anderson.

It’s finally showing signs of cooling off in New Orleans even if it appears to be a cruel autumnal tease. The cool front helped keep Hurricane Michael away from us. It was a beast of a storm that battered the Florida panhandle and provoked PTSD flashbacks in the New Orleans area. Best wishes to everyone in the affected areas.

In more savory local news, Advocate food writer Ian McNulty wrote a piece about the surfeit of new restaurants in the city. Ian is worried that we’re losing the thread with so many eateries dependent on the tourist trade. New Orleans didn’t become a great food city with tourist traps but with restaurants serving locals. One Oceana Grill is enough. Just ask Gordon Ramsay:

You didn’t have to take that so personally, Chef Ramsay. Piss off out of my post.

This week’s theme song is appropriate because I usually post Saturday Odds & Sods at the stroke of midnight. Some of my regular readers look for it then. One would hope they’d have something better to do.

Paul Simon wrote Late In The Evening in 1980 for his One-Trick Pony album. Simon also wrote and acted in a movie of the same title, which sank without a trace. I always thought horses could swim…

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original hit single followed by a scorching hot live version from 1992’s Born At The Right Time tour.

I used a painting by New Orleans/Ocean Springs, MS artist Walter Anderson as the featured image because he famously tied himself to a tree during Hurricane Betsy. We grow them eccentric in these parts. If things had gone wrong, it would have given a whole new meaning to the term tie-dyed.  If that pun doesn’t make you want to jump to the break, nothing will.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Volunteers

Two Flags by Jasper Johns

It’s still stupidly hot in New Orleans; summer hot. And we had the third warmest September in recorded history. There are rumors of a cool front next weekend but the relentless heat is putting a damp damper on the local festival season. It typically starts the first weekend of October because that’s when it cools off. Not this year, apparently. Climate change? What climate change? End of weather related rant.

The Kavanaugh Mess ate my week, so let’s move on to this week’s theme song. Volunteers was written by Marty Balin and Paul Kantner. It was the title track of Jefferson Airplane’s classic 1969 album; you know, the one with the pb&j sammich gatefold. Volunteers has an interesting origin story: Marty was awakened by a truck one morning with Volunteers of America painted on the side. A protest song was born. Marty Balin died last Saturday at the age of 76. There’s an extended tribute to Marty at the end of the post.

We have two versions of Volunteers for your listening pleasure. The original studio track and a live version from Woodstock.

“Look what’s happening out in the streets. Got a revolution.”

Now that we’ve revolted in a revolting way, let’s jump to the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Got To Get You Into My Life

Landscape Lumber No. 3 by David Hockney

It has been a difficult week. I was so exhausted from writing about the Kavanaugh mess that I briefly considered pulling the plug on this week’s extravaganza. I decided it was best to muddle through and provide a modicum of comic relief to my readers. That choice was made easier by the Flake Gambit, which at the very least kicks the can down the road a week. Besides, I like beer and cannot recall if I’ve ever been black-out drunk. Have you? Holy crap, I sound like Judge Bro.

This week’s theme song is credited to Lennon-McCartney but is Pure-D Macca. Got To Get You Into My Life first appeared on my favorite Beatles album, Revolver. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Beatles and the equally fabulous cover by Earth Wind & Fire.

Now that we’ve had some Macca therapy, let’s meet on the other side of the jump.

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The Kavanaugh Mess: Like A Virgin

In the immortal words of Graham Parker, “I thought I was right, I was wrong” about a McConnell knifing leading to a Kavanaugh withdrawal to spend more time with his calendars. It remains unclear if they have the votes to confirm: Susan Collins seems to be snowed by this jerk but Lisa Murkowski appears to be genuinely undecided. In addition to concerns about Kavanaugh’s views on Native issues, there’s a huge #MeToo brouhaha back home in Alaska.

The post title is, of course, based on comments made by the skeezy nominee to Martha McCallum of Fox New who actually asked some tough questions:

We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter. And the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends —

It was McCallum who dropped the V word:

MS. MacCALLUM: So you’re saying that through all these years that are in question, you were a virgin?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: That’s correct.

MS. MacCALLUM: Never had sexual intercourse with anyone in high school?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Correct.

MS. MacCALLUM: And through what years in college since we’re probing into your personal life here?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Many years after. I’ll leave it at that.

There’s a logical fallacy in the Like A Virgin defense. It does not preclude sexual assault. It’s not uncommon for sexual predators to be “virgins” when it comes to consensual sex.

The other problem with the Like A Virgin defense is that Kavanaugh pledged Deek (DKE) and I suspect that virgins are barred by that rowdy fraternity. In a NYT story about the charges that Kavanaugh flashed and humiliated Debbie Ramirez, a schoolmate described the Supremes wannabe as follows:

One woman remembers Judge Kavanaugh’s wearing a leather football helmet while drinking and approaching her on campus the night he was tapped for DKE. She described his grabbing his crotch, hopping on one leg and chanting: “I’m a geek, I’m a geek, I’m a power tool. When I sing this song, I look like a fool.”

That’s a far cry from Boola Boola or The Whiffenpoof Song.

A fellow Yalie disputed the Like A Virgin defense on the tweeter tube:

Brett Kavanaugh lie? Never, he said in a voice dripping with sarcasm. Mendacity and sexual assault are two things he has in common with the sexist horndog who nominated him.

Speaking of the Insult Comedian, he went after Debbie Ramirez after being laughed at by the UN General Assembly:

“And [Ramirez] said, ‘well it might not be him’ and there were gaps and she said she was totally inebriated and she was all messed up. And she doesn’t know it was him, but it might’ve been him. ‘Oh gee, let’s not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that.’ This is a con game being played by the Democrats.”

The First Flim-Flam Man certainly knows about con games. His presidency* is an ongoing one, after all.

Ms. Ramirez is Puerto Rican. The fact that Trump attacked her is not exactly a surprise. Perhaps he totally confused her with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. “Them people” all look alike to bigots like Donald Trump. Totally.

Another appalling Kavanaugh story popped up in the Failing NYT, the “Renate alumni” story. It involves high school yearbook comments by Kavanaugh and his krewe of drunken, rapey jocks. Here’s what an old pal and fellow original NOLA blogger had to say about this chilling episode:

A few more things about the Kavanaugh interview. First, it’s a sign of how worried GOPers are. Supreme Court nominees do NOT give teevee interviews. Second, Kavanaugh’s defense came off as robotic. It involved spewing out sound bites likely cooked up by former Roger Ailes enabler, Hannity pal, and current Trump lackey Bill Shine. Here’s one of them:

That’s right, Kavanaugh went from Like A Virgin to Like A Robot in one fell swoop, or in his case, one drunken stupor.

There’s one more aspect of tomorrow’s hearing that’s so squirrelly that they should give Judiciary Committee GOPers an acorn. They’ve hired outside counsel so Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, John Neely Kennedy, and their ilk have fewer opportunities to make Cavemanic comments.

The outside counsel, Rachel Mitchell, is an experienced sex crimes prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona. But here’s how Chinless Mitch described her:

A female assistant? What is she: a waitress? Does the Turtle plan to tip her? She’s an experienced lawyer for fuck’s sake. Can’t you lot even show some respect for a woman on your side?

Precious little is known about Ms. Mitchell. Josh Marshall unearthed an interview she did with a far right “fundamental Baptist” publication. Also, why a lawyer who prosecutes sex crimes against children? The hearing is not a trial, it’s a job interview. The only children involved are GOP solons.

I have a hunch that they were unable to find a woman lawyer in DC who was willing to do Senate Republicans’ dirty work. It’s time to recycle one of my favorite recent lines:

The last word goes to Madonna with a song that Brett Kavanaugh surely drank to during his Yale salad days:

INSTANT UPDATE: While I was writing this post, Michael Avenatti revealed the identity of his client and demanded an FBI investigation:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Chain

At The First Clear Word by Max Ernst.

It still feels like summer in New Orleans. I’ve been so focused on the Kavanaugh mess that I’ve been a local news slacker with one exception: last Monday, our local utility company, Entergy, blamed a cat for a major power outage. Della Street and Paul Drake are in the clear: I’m their alibi. This is proof positive that my town is weirder than your town. Neener, neener, neener.

What is it with the news cycle in the Trump era? Every Friday it blows up after I tuck this post in bed and kiss it good night. I have a few quick thoughts on today’s two big stories. First, the Rod Rosenstein story is a set-up, the Failing New York Times got played by Trumpers. Second, Chuck Grassley’s ultimatum to Christine Blasey Ford is egregious extortionate excrement.

What do these fuckers have in store next? A 21st Century Reichstag fire? This is the face of American fascism.

It’s time to tune out the jackboots and return to our regularly scheduled programming.

This week’s theme song was written by  Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie for an album that you may have heard of: Rumours. The Chain is the only tune on that record credited to all five members of Fleetwood Mac Mach 9. We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the original studio track and a recent live version featuring new members, Neil Finn and Mike Campbell.

I’m not sure if jumping to the break constitutes breaking the chain but we’re going to do it anyway. Now that I think of it, it’s closer to yanking your chain. What’s a little chain yanking among friends?

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Play It All Night Long

The Automat by Edward Hopper.

It’s been a crazy news week: the Woodward book, Hurricane Florence, exploding houses in  Massachusetts, the Kavanaugh letter, and the Manafort flip. How far Paulie flips remains to be seen but, given his connection to the Former Soviet Union, his plea deal is *potentially* the Kremlingate kill shot. I’ve long thought Manafort was either placed on Team Trump by Russian intelligence or encouraged to sign up by them. Stay tuned.

This week’s theme song, Play It All Night Long was written by Warren Zevon for his 1980 album, Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School. It has one of the greatest opening verses in rock history:

Grandpa pissed his pants again
He don’t give a damn
Brother Billy has both guns drawn
He ain’t been right since Vietnam

As well as a killer chorus:

“Sweet home Alabama”
Play that dead band’s song
Turn those speakers up full blast
Play it all night long

We have two versions for your listening pleasure. The original studio recording and a live solo version from Learning to Flinch with WZ on piano.

Now that we’ve played “that dead band’s song,” let’s jump to the break in lieu of turning the speakers up full blast.

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The Legal Docket: Of Henry Fonda Wannabes & Flippers

The first Manafort juror has spoken. It’s a Trump supporter who nonetheless voted guilty on all 18 counts despite loathing star witness Rick Gates. She revealed that there was one hold-out on the 10 counts on which a mistrial was declared. It’s a woman so the Henry Fonda analogy is imperfect. Of course, it was always flawed because Fonda’s character in Twelve Angry Men flipped the jury and this person was a lone hold-out to the bitter end. I had to mention Twelve Angry Men because it’s one of my favorite movies and launched the career of one of my favorite directors Sidney Lumet.

Here’s the interview with juror Paula Duncan:

I just made history. It’s the first time I’ve ever posted a Fox News video. I’m worried that I’m going to hell. I had hoped to go to heaven so I could meet Henry Fonda and Sidney Lumet. I’ll do penance by posting this scene from one of Sidney’s finest films:

ATTICA. ATTICA. ATTICA.

In other legal news, the Insult Comedian wants to change our legal system to suit his personal needs and trust me, he’s needy. Here’s what the Kaiser of Chaos had to say about “flippers:”

“You know, they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it. I know all about flipping, 30, 40 years I have been watching flippers,” he said.

“Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed. It’s not fair … if somebody defrauded a bank and he is going to get 10 years in jail or 20 years in jail but if you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you will go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made, in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that.”

I doubt that Trumpy means this Flipper:

I’m pretty sure that’s not the famous teevee dolphin Flipper but Trump’s lying is contagious. Call it creative prevarication. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I skipped posting a GIF of Tommy Flanagan the pathological liar because Jon Lovitz is a wingnut. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Back to Trumpy’s musing about abolishing plea bargains. It would not only paralyze the court system it would have allowed John Gotti, Whitey Bulger, and a wide variety of wise guys to walk. But that’s a small price to let the president* have his way. #sarcasm.

Finally, Trump’s dickish tabloid media pal, David Pecker, has cut an immunity deal with SDNY prosecutors. This is one of the least surprising developments of the week. As Trumpberius himself might say, “Pecker has all the qualities of a dog except loyalty.”

Thinking about the venerable teevee show Flipper has given me an earworm:

That’s right folks, a dolphin got the last word. He’s a helluva lot smarter than Don Junior.

The I-Word: Don’t Take The Bait

The dread Sarah Huckabee Sanders trotted out some of her snappiest patter at Wednesday’s White House briefing. Yes, I’m being sarcastic although she does have a Bob Newhart-style deadpan delivery. Maybe she should try wearing a cardigan like Bob did as Dick the innkeeper in Newhart. It couldn’t hurt. Larry, Darryl, and his other brother Darryl already work in the West Wing alongside a wide variety of Dicks, after all.

“Impeachment is the only message Democrats have going into the midterms.  I think that the biggest contrast you could possibly make is the message of the Democrats, which is nothing more than attacking the president and looking at cheap political stunts while this White House and Republicans in the House and Senate are focused on doing good things for the American people.”

Sarah is such a cut-up.  As usual, she’s making shit up. Leader Pelosi, quite correctly, has urged her members to stay focused on health care, corruption, and whatever issues work in their districts. It’s back to Tip O’Neill’s message that “all politics are local.” It was an approach that helped Democrats hold the house from 1954-1994. There were even two blue wave elections in that era: 1964 and 1974. Shorter Nancy Smash: Just win, baby.

Trump is already the main issue without mentioning the I-Word. Democrats would be wise to focus on Team Trump’s rampant corruption and use this phrase: “putting a brake on an out-of-control president*.” Voters already know that the I-Word is a possibility after Dems take control of the House: why awaken the depressed GOP base?

The mere fact that Zany Sarah, Senator Cornhole, and other GOPers are talking about impeachment is why Democrats should not. Why take the bait and let Republicans set the agenda in a year that the wind is blowing in their faces? And we know how much the Insult Comedian “hates the wind” unless it’s the hot air coming out of his big stupid bazoo.

The main reason we should NOT take the bait is what happened in the 1998 midterms. Newt Gingrich and his merry band of wingnuts went all in on impeachment. It backfired and Democrats *gained* 5 House seats and held their own in the Senate.

To follow Tom Steyer’s lead and go all in on impeachment is playing into the GOP’s hands. Do we really want to be like Newt? Don’t take the bait. Just win, baby.

The Band and Marvin Gaye get the last word:


First Draft Potpourri: Of Quislings & McCarthyites

I haven’t done a potpourri post for quite some time. The events of last weekend were stinky enough to revive this malodorous blogging tradition. The only kind of potpourri I like is the Jeopardy category, which is odorless since William Castle’s Smell-O-Vision process never caught on.

We begin with the artist formerly known as Rudy Noun Verb 9/11 Giuliani whose appearance on Chucklehead Todd’s teevee show created quite a stir.

Truth Isn’t Truth: Rudy Giuliani has turned into a giant gaffe machine. His latest soundbite echoed across the internet yesterday. Josh Marshall was present at the creation and captured the moment in its sublime newspeaky mendacity:

Rudy has tried to clean up his own mess but the original quote has the ring of authenticity. The Trumpers believe that there’s no such thing as objective truth and that they can say or do anything as long as it gets their dear leader out of trouble.

A reminder that the term truthiness was coined by Stephen Colbert during the Bush-Cheney administration. They may have had better manners than the Trumpers but equaled them in mendacity. Remember that the next time a former Bushie compares Trump unfavorably to W.

Let’s close out this segment with a tune posted on Twitter by my main man Monkeyfister:

Deanmania: I’m an unabashed fan of Watergate whistleblower John Dean. I’ve read most of his books and find his comments on current events incisive, insightful and other I-words. Apparently, Michael Cohen’s mouthpiece Lanny Davis is a Dean fan as well:

“I reached out to my old friend John Dean because of what he went through with Watergate, and I saw some parallels to what Michael Cohen is experiencing. I wanted to gain from John’s wisdom,” Davis told POLITICO.

“I certainly don’t want to raise expectations that Mr. Cohen has anything like the level of deep involvement and detailed knowledge that John Dean had in the Nixon White House as a witness to Nixon’s crimes, but I did see some similarities and wanted to learn from what John went through.”

Dean’s role seems to be that of informal adviser/whistleblower whisperer. If anyone can fix the Fixer, it’s Dean who was in a similar fix 45 years ago.

Here’s where McCarthyism fits into our Deanmania narrative, a series of angry tweets from Trumpberius:

Ironies about in the Insult Comedian’s Sunday tirade. First, calling John Dean a rat means the Kaiser of Chaos identifies with Tricky Dick. You know, the guy who resigned the presidency in disgrace 44 years ago. Second, Trump’s self-described mentor was Tailgunner Joe’s right-hand man, Roy Cohn. I’ve already covered that bit of sleazy ground in a 2016 post, Oy, Such A Mentor. The president* is engaging in projection yet again. As I pointed out in a 2018 post, Exhuming McCarthy, Trumpism is the new McCarthyism.

Let’s move on to a segment wherein I don’t link to my old posts but instead urge the revival of  a venerable term for traitor. Here’s a visual cue:

The Quisling Revival: I have watched in awe former CIA Director John Brennan’s attacks on Trump’s role as Putin’s Puppet. Brennan has decided to leave it all on the field in his effort to tell the truth about the First Liar. I have a suggestion for Mr. Brennan of something to call his unworthy adversary: a name that is synonymous with treachery and treason, Quisling who is depicted above side-by-side with his modern counterpart.

Vidkun Quisling was the Norwegian Fascist who sold out his country by facilitating the Nazi invasion in 1940. His reward was to become the Norwegian Fuhrer or so he thought. Instead, this delusional collaboraor became Hitler’s puppet who was expected to follow orders. Sound familiar? Quisling was tried and executed for treason in 1945.

Winston Churchill and the British press used the term Quisling as an epithet during World War II and I think the resistance should do likewise in 2018. Heeeere’s Winston:

A vile race of Quislings? Sounds like your basic Trump apologist to me.

Finally, on a lighter note, Dr. A and I attended a party “celebrating” Sharknado 6: It’s About Time. The party was thrown by our friend Will who has been Sharknado “obsessed” for years. He hosted Sharknado fests at his former business, Pizza Nola, for many years. The last Sharknado waltz took place at the Howlin’ Wolf and featured this cake:

The movie, of course, was dreadful. It was the first time I’d sat through one of these fakakta movies and I only survived by heckling/riffing. I realized that the final Sharknado featured no less than 5 Celebrity Apprentice contestants; proof positive that we’ve died and gone to hell.

The last word goes to (who else?) Tim Finn and Split Enz:

Tweet Of The Day: Fractured Wingnut History Edition

Unlike the Insult Comedian, I don’t watch Fox & Friends. Unlike the people on Fox & Friends, I know something about history:

It reminds me of when socialist Germany bombed Pearl Harbor.

Hey, at least she knows we won the war.

The last word goes to Bluto Blutarsky:

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Calling

Tales from Topographic Oceans by Roger Dean.

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

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

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

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

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

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There Is ONLY ONE Q

My colleague Tommy T wrote extensively the other day about the low IQ Q conspiracy. It’s a new one on me. I can’t keep up with all the tin foil hatters on the extreme right so I let Tommy do it for me. This new mad hattery brought out my inner Emily Litella:

For those of you who aren’t comedy buffs, Emily Litella was a befuddled character from the early days of Saturday Night Live. She was created and played by the late, great Gilda Radner.

I thought of Emily because as far as I’m concerned there is ONLY ONE Q:

Q was an all-powerful character who delighted in tormenting Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Since Q is an immortal space traveler dude he also turns up on Deep Space 9 and Voyager, but the Frenchman with the Yorkshire accent was his favorite whipping boy.

I refuse to acknowledge the New Q unless it turns out to be a hoax perpetrated by lefties to fish in gullible Trumpers. There is ONLY ONE Q.

Since I made a Gilda Radner reference earlier, I’ll give Q and Emily Litella the last word with Emily’s stock closing line:

Not Everything Sucks: Hey Luc At Me Now

Since so much bad shit happens on the tweeter tube, I reckoned I should share some rare good news about everyone’s favorite French Star Fleet Captain with a Yorkshire accent:

Jean-Luc Picard has been on hiatus so long that I’ve been unable to pun on his name during my time as a blogger. It’s one of many reasons I’m tickled about the return. The name seems to inspire me to break out in punny show tune memes:

It’s more like the Stern Luc Of Love. It’s what authority figures do, y’all.

The next one is more menacing. It’s when Picard was assimilated and became Locutus of Borg.

At this point, we’ve gone from make it so to make him stop. The last word goes to David Byrne who was also born in Scotland but was never assimilated as far as I know:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Riders On The Storm

Rain, Steam, and Speed by JMW Turner.

There will be no tin cup rattling today since we reached our goal Friday. I’d like to thank everyone who supported what we do here at First Draft. I suppose I should thank Al Capone for helping out but what does a dead wise guy care? Btw, I neglected to state that Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire is my favorite reel Capone.

The big story in New Orleans is the ongoing clusterfuck involving the Sewerage and Water Board. A year from tomorrow, there was major street flooding in Mid-City. I hate hearing about the August 5th flood since it’s my birthday but what can ya do? The people whose homes, businesses, and cars flooded hate it even more.

The latest mess involves billing. The lunkheads at SWB have computerized the way they bill customers. In theory, it’s a fine idea, but in practice they failed to adequately train the meter readers in the new system. The result has been crazy large bills that customers have refused to pay. The SWB vowed to crack down on what our new Mayor called “bad actors” by cutting off their water.  They backed down the other day when it became clear that some of the “bad actors” were poor people with $5,000 bills *and* that they could only disconnect 50 customers a day. TFC: This Fucking City. Stay tuned.

I selected this week’s theme song after it popped up in the last episode of Sharp Objects. That show seems to be a love/hate proposition for viewers. I’m on the love side for the music, atmospherics, and acting, especially the divine Amy Adams.

Riders On The Storm was written by the Doors for their last full-blown LP, L.A. Woman. Jim Morrison’s lyrics are moody and expressionistic even for him. We have two versions for your consideration: the original studio track and a live version by 21st Century Doors, a band featuring Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robbie Krieger. I wish they hadn’t hired a Morrison lookalike as their singer: it’s creepy.

A quick story about Jim Morrison. My sister-in-law’s mother-in-law went to high school with Morrison. She remembers him as a nice boy. I bet you’ve never heard that anywhere else.

It’s time to break on through to the other side and jump to the break.

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Life Imitates I, Claudius: Trump As Tiberius

There have been a spate of stories this week depicting the Trump White House as the court of a mad king/emperor. We’ve learned that many of Trump’s associates prepare CYA documents because of his slipperiness, mendacity, and disloyalty. The Insult Comedian expects absolute loyalty from his underlings but, as we’ve seen over and over again,Trump’s loyalty is a one way street.

Then there was this alarming report by Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman:

 Whether it’s confidence, bluster, or delusion, Trump is venting to advisers both inside and outside the White House that the Manafort trial proves Mueller has nothing on him and his family, because Manafort’s trial doesn’t involve Russia or the 2016 campaign. “The Manafort trial is spinning him into a frenzy,” one Republican in frequent contact with the president told me. Another Republican told me Trump thinks “the only thing the trial shows is that Manafort is a sleaze.”

It takes one to know one. Trump is also being fed patent nonsense by his lawyers:

Trump’s latest attacks on Mueller are partly being enabled by conversations with his attorney Emmet Flood, one source told me. “Emmet feels there’s nothing there with collusion, so it’s fine for Trump to comment and tweet,” the source explained. This person added that Trump appears to be in earnest about his desire for Sessions to end the Mueller probe, and spoke of a timeline of a couple of weeks. Otherwise, Trump has threatened to fire Rosenstein himself.

Sessions has recused himself from the investigation he CANNOT fire Rosenstein and/or Mueller. Ever since Trump’s disastrous performance in Helsinki, elected Republicans seem less inclined to further his “you’re fired” delusions. They’re not criticizing him but they’re showing more caution, especially since the Jordan-Meadows attempt to impeach Rosenstein fizzled. But the truth has no meaning for Trump, so who the hell knows what he’ll do next? I’m a pundit, not a prophet.

I’ve spent part of this week comparing historical characters and their fictionalized selves to the freak show that is the Trump administration. I’ve also dubbed Trump the Kaiser of Chaos because of his similarities to the infantile and petulant Kaiser Wilhelm II. BUT Kaiser Bill was never this crazy.

My friend Dakinikat of Sky Dancing fame calls Trump Kremlin Caligula. It’s a good one but Trump increasingly reminds me of another crazy Caesar who was also depicted in the classic teevee series, I Claudius: Caligula’s predecessor, Tiberius. In that great 1976 series, Tiberius was installed via the machinations of his mother Livia. That, in turn, left him dubious of his own legitimacy and led him to do crazy and extreme things. Sound familiar?

At the end of his life, Tiberius isolated himself from the court at Rome and spent most of time debauching at his version of Mar-a-Lago: his villa on the Isle of Capri. Neither golf nor cable teevee had been invented at that point but I’m sure Tiberius would have dug them.

It’s side-by-side picture time. On the left is Trump without his epic combover and orange spray tan. On the right is George Baker as Tiberius who is oranger than Trump in this shot.

The good news is that George Baker grew up to play nice Inspector Wexford in The Ruth Rendell Mysteries. Trump will never grow up. He’ll always be Trumpberius.

Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort?

The Kaiser of Chaos was a busy boy with an itchy twitter finger yesterday. The tweets dripped with flop sweat and palpable panic.  He “ordered” Jeff Beau to end the “rigged witch hunt” and praised Paul Manafort for his work for Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole. Those tweets arguably constitute witness tampering by tweet since Trumpy hands out pardons like Oprah doles out cars.

Ending the “rigged witch hunt” could bring the Manafort trial to a screeching halt, which would be a pity: I want the jury to hear more about Paulie’s lavish wardrobe. It’s also a pity that Judge Ellis has barred the use of the term oligarch. I believe in calling an oligarch an oligarch. Ole Garch sounds like a Swedish architect to me. I wonder if he had anything to do with the theft of the Swedish crown jewels? It could have been an angry Norwegian outraged over 91 years of Swedish domination of his homeland. If revenge is a dish best served cold, ain’t nothing colder than a Scandinavian winter or an angry and bitter Norwegian.

Enough of my weirdness, the weirdest of Trump’s recent tweets was this one:

Does this mean Manafort is a syphilitic murderer? He’s certainly a tax avoiding motherfucker like Scarface. Speaking of the gangster, the Insult Comedian misspelled his name: it’s Alphonse with a PH, not Alfonse with an F. That proves that Rudy Giuliani didn’t write this tweet: he’d spell a paisan’s name correctly. Remember when Rudy used to be anti-gangster? Now he’s a mob lawyer working for Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto. Many of us become what we hate.

I think Josh Marshall nailed *why* Trump used this seemingly bizarre analogy:

To Trump, Capone was a winner. He was rich. Everybody gave him respect. But he was brought down on BS charges, mundane financial crimes. He was treated very unfairly, to use the President’s signature phrase. This isn’t hyperbole or a mere attack. Over a forty-plus year career, Trump was deep in business with some of the most notorious and violent mobsters of the late 20th century. Trump managed not to get in to trouble first because he had the right friends but just as much because he kept the relationships largely passive. He laundered their money. His main overt act was willful obliviousness. Trump Tower itself was a notorious haven for all sorts of organized crime figures, mostly from other countries. Mostly from Russia and the former Soviet Union.

There have been many fine movies and teevee series over the years featuring Alphonse with a PH. I should thank the president* for giving me the latest in a series of Life Imitates post titles. First, there was The Sopranos, then The Americans, and now The Untouchables. Cue an extended version of the theme music, which was written by the great Nelson Riddle:

Now that I think of it, Ennio Morricone’s theme music for Brian DePalma’s 1987 film is pretty darn swell as well:

Al Capone *was* a fascinating character, which is why he remains such a famous gangster 71 years after his death. It is disturbing however that POTUS* identifies with him, not Eliot Ness. One would think he’d like comparisons to the best-known screen Nesses, Robert Stack and Kevin Costner. Hell,Costner is even a Republican; at least he used to be until the advent of the Trump regime. Good on ya, Kevin.

Enough Elliot Nessery. It’s time to post a rogue’s gallery of actors who played Alphonse with a PH. We begin with a two-fer: Ben Gazzara from a decent 1975 bio-pic, Capone, and Robert DeNiro in the DePalma/Mamet take on The Untouchables.

Next up from left to right: Neville Brand in teevee’s The Untouchables, Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire, and chewing a cigar as well as the scenery, Rod Steiger in 1959’s Al Capone. Steiger was a walking slab of prosciutto in this role. He’d be in the hammy actor hall of fame if such a thing existed.

There’s bound to be a white-collar gangster movie about Paul Manafort at some point in time. I’ve already made a casting suggestion in the form of a Separated at Birth segment:

Chazz Palminteri has played more than a few wise guys in his career including Big Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino family before he was whacked by John Gotti. The Trumps, of course, had ties to the Gambinos and Rudy is the one whose team brought them down. It’s a small fucking world, after all.

The Insult Comedian’s Florida Man

Florida Man Ron DeSantis and Trump. Photograph by Octavio Jones/Tampa Bay Times

The president* held one of his incoherent rallies yesterday in Tampa, Florida. He said one of the stupidest things he’s ever said and that’s saying a lot:

Trump claimed Democrats were attempting to give undocumented immigrants the right to vote.

“Which is why the time has come for voter ID, like everything else,” Trump told the crowd. “You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card. You need ID.”

In a career of specious arguments, this one is near the top. When was the last time the Insult Comedian went grocery shopping? Has he ever gone grocery shopping? The only times I’ve ever been carded was when I’ve bought booze. We know the Darnold only drives people to drink, he’s not a drinker himself.

I conceived this post before the Kaiser of Chaos put his foot in his mouth last night. He was in Florida campaigning for Congressman Ron DeSantis who is running in the GOP primary to succeed Governor Bat Boy. Typically, Oval Ones stay out of primaries but Trump cannot help himself. FYI, Rick Scott, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, skipped the rally. He’s nervous about appearing in public with his fellow megalomaniacal rich guy.

Trump endorsed DeSantis because of his appearances on Fox News as a fierce MAGA Maggot and Trump flatterer. That’s right, the Fox and Friends effect is in force. Anyone surprised? You shouldn’t be, the Insult Comedian schedules impromptu meetings based on what he’s seen on his favorite show. I wish I were making that up but I am not.

Florida Man DeSantis’ head is so far up the Trump rump that he made the ickiest and most obsequious pro-Trump ad of the year thus far.

I hope young Casey DeSantis grows up and rebels against her father’s stupid politics.  It’s what he deserves after exploiting her in that ad. Oh, the malakatude.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Sweet Dreams

Any Eye For A View by Paul Fleet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Malaka Of The Week: Jason Spencer

We live in an era of fake tough guys. It’s a phenomenon made worse by social media, which is full of nebbishes with keyboard courage. I don’t do Reddit but Twitter is jam-packed with tough talking bullies who are cowards in real life. As Dashiell Hammett put it: “The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.”

The latest phony hard man to be exposed is Georgia State Representative Jason Spencer (R-Dipshit.) Sacha Baron Cohen literally pantsed this jerk on Who Is America? And that is why Jason Spencer is malaka of the week.

The first time Malaka Spencer came to my attention, he was in Lost Causer mode. He made empty threats against LaDawn Jones a former black legislator who supports removing Confederate monuments.

The lowest point was when Spencer told her that if she and others kept up their fight to rid the state of Confederate monuments, “I cant guarantee you won’t be met with torches but something a lot more definitive.”

Later, removing any doubt, he said the people who want the statues gone “will go missing in the Okefenokee,” referring to a swamp and national wildlife refuge near his home town. “To many necks they are red around here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

That’s one of many reason this little creep deserved the comeuppance served to him by Erran Morad, Cohen’s Mossad agent character. Cohen convinced this idiot that, if he screamed the N-Word and pranced about with his pants down/ass out, that would somehow protect him from terrorists. You have to see it to believe it.

Spencer’s attempts at damage control were almost as ridiculous as the bit where he posed as a Chinese tourist who spouted off random Japanese phrases. They’re not the same, dude:

“Sacha Baron Cohen and his associates took advantage of my paralyzing fear that my family would be attacked. In posing as an Israeli Agent, he pretended to offer self-defense exercises. As uncomfortable as I was to participate, I agreed to, understanding that these ‘techniques’ were meant to help me and others fend off what I believed was an inevitable attack.

“My fears were so heightened at that time, I was not thinking clearly nor could I appreciate what I was agreeing to when I participated in his ‘class.’ I was told I would be filmed as a ‘demonstration video’ to teach others the same skills in Israel.

That’s the problem with fake tough guys like Spencer and his hero, Donald Trump. They’re motivated by fear. They try to fend it off by picking on people. It’s not only cowardly, it’s downright stupid. Who the hell is intimidated by a malaka with his pants down? Or by an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria pelt atop his head?

Top Georgia Republicans are calling for Spencer’s head based on his racist behavior. They should add another charge to their political indictment: he’s too stupid to represent a district in the state lege. And that is why Jason Spencer is malaka of the week.

UPDATE: Spencer will be taking his malakatude to the private sector. He’s announced that he’s resigning his seat at the end of the month.

Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best Is Yet To Come

Shattered Color by Lee Krasner.

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

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

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

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

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

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