Sunday, June 25, 2017

Warm Weather Words

Summer reading for the man who said his house is "a furnace" and the woman who claimed that the temperature in her apartment at midnight was 31 degrees celsius:

"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer in a cocktail lounge."

                                                   Raymond Chandler, "Red Wind."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Trump Tapes

The White House had been given until the end of this week to produce tapes--if any exist--of conversations between US President Donald Trump and FBI Director James Comey.

Trump has now said, "I have no tapes of those conversations."

"However," he continued, "I do have some treasured 8-tracks of the Lawrence Welk Show, which I would be happy to lend to the Congressional investigators."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sorry. Not in Service.

This site temporarily closed for creative reconstruction.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Father's Day Play List

"Oh, Mein Papa" (for Eddie Fisher fans, if any are left)

"Poppa, Won't You Dance with Me?" (from "High Button Shoes," for fans of Phil Silvers and Sergeant Bilko)

"That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine" (for the weepily sentimental)

"My Heart Belongs to Daddy" (da-da-dad, da-da-dad, da-da-dad)

"Your Father's Moustache" (for fans of Woody Herman and the Herd, and there are lots of us)

"Father, Dear Father, Come Home with Me Now" (for prying Pop out of the bar after Happy Hour)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lighting Up on Capitol Hill

Overheard in the hallway prior to the US Attorney General's testimony before the Senate and the House:  "Joint, Sessions?"

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Yapes! The Tapes!

"Steve, we've got a problem."

"I'm here for you, Don. What is it?"

"The tapes. Congress is asking for tapes of my conversation with Comey. What we do?"

"Two choices, Don. If there are tapes, we do some creative splicing. I got a guy who can do magic with tape. He'll turn 'I hope you can see clear to let this go' to 'I hope but fear there may be snow'."

"That's beautiful, Steve. But here's the other thing."

"I'm all ears, Don. And bushy hair."

"Suppose there are no tapes. What then? It's that tall guy's word against mine."

"No tapes? We make tapes! Here's what we do: we call those people from 'The Simpsons," you know, the guys who do Homer and Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders."


"And we get them to do you and the other guy--with a script we write."

"Brilliant, Steve. They don't call you the Prince of Darkness for nothing. Do you know any of those people?"

"Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria--naw. But I figure for about a hundred grand a pop, we can get them. I hear Dan Castellaneta as a natural for you. He already does Homer and Krusty the Klown."

"I love it, Steve. But one thing worries me."

"And that is?"

"Maybe the FBI guy was wearing a wire, making his own tapes."

"Could be, Don.  I noticed he was wearing a very large tie pin. Might have contained a concealed microphone."


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dancing with the Stars

Former FBI Director James Comey: "And then President Trump said, 'Would you give me a hug?'"

Senator Fripple: "And what did you respond?"

Comey: "Well, Senator, I just didn't know what to say. And then the music began playing..."

Senator Grumbach: "He played music?"

Comey: "He did. It was 'Moonlight Serenade' by Glenn Miller. He said it was his favourite."

Senator Hesselbine: "And then? And then?"

Comey: "He asked me to dance."

Senator Fripple: "What did you do?"

Comey: "What could I do? He was the President, the leader of the Free World (if people still say that). I let him lead."

Senator Grumbach: "How long did this go on?"

Comey: "Until Steve Bannon came and cut in."

Senator Hesselbine: "And the President--how is he as a dancer? Is he as good as John Travolta?"

Comey: "I think I can answer that only in the closed hearing."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ralph and Norton in the White House

Searching for the way in which life imitates art, we realized that Donald Trump and Jim Pence are the current equivalents of Jackie Gleason and Art Carney in "The Honeymooners." Not the real Gleason and Carney, of course--they're not that smart. But Trump, in his overblown, boastful, semi-articulate way resembles Ralph Kramden, the chronically deluded bus driver, while Pence, in his craven backup, is another Norton.

We hear them now: Trump: "I'm withdrawing from the Paris Accord. This is it, Norton. They won't be laughing at us any more."

Pence: "That's right, Ralphie boy. You tell 'em. Pittsburgh, not Paris. Ha-ha! Give 'em the old one-two."

"The Honeymooners" ran for six years. The current version may be cancelled sooner than that.

Working Man's Tragedy

"In Greek tragedy, they fall from great heights. In noir, they fall from the curb." -- Dennis Lehane.

Dennis Lehane, author of "Mystic River" and "Gone, Baby, Gone" knows something about tragedy, even it's not the Greek or Shakespearean variety.

Another writer who understands tragedy is K.C. Constantine, author of seventeen novels set in the fictional Pittsburgh coal mining town of Rocksburg. In this Rust Belt setting, life-shattering events happen not to kings or presidents or heroic figures, but to very ordinary people. The two most striking examples may be in Constantine's first novel, "The Rocksburg Railroad Murders," and 1982's "The Man Who Liked Slow Tomatoes." Troubling. Realistic. Unforgettable.

"Woyzeck," by Georg Buchner, has been called "the working man's tragedy."  A century and a half after Buchner, that's the kind of story Constantine tells.