Hillary Tumbles, Obama goes 2-for-22, plus a Death in the Family (posted 3/21/18)

First, let me say that I’m not usually the kind of guy who enjoys watching senior citizens falling down the stairs.  Not usually.

But I’ll make an exception for Hillary Clinton.  I probably watched her slipping down that stone staircase in India half a dozen times, before I searched the internet, and sure enough, somebody has put together a montage of Hillary slipping, stumbling and falling, set to “Stairway to Heaven.”  Pretty good stuff.

But if I had any tech talent, I would do a mash-up of Hillary’s India trip (ha!) with Cagney tap dancing down the White House steps at the end of Yankee Doodle Dandy, and maybe for a little extra salt in the wound, Gene Nelson dancing up and down the stairs (and a bannister) in Tea for Two.

I can almost hear you saying, “Martin, we didn’t know you were 112 years old, and gay.”  Well I’m not.  I had to search “funny staircase dancing clips” to find both of those.

But once I found them?  I wish I could put them together with Hillary’s wild ride, maybe with a little Trump coming down the cheesy escalator, too, just for good measure.  By the way, whoever is in charge of Hillary’s security these days?  You might want to consider having the advance team build escalators every place she’s going to visit.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not concerned for her safety.  I just want to see what it looks like when a septuagenarian tumbles down a freaking escalator!

My favorite part was after Hillary slipped the second time and decided to kick off her shoes to give her a better chance of making it down alive.  And yes, the shoe did look familiar, to anyone who follows the Indianapolis Colts.  (That’s right, a subtle helmet/horseshoe joke.)

“Come on now, Simpson” you’re probably thinking, “You’re better than that.”

First, obviously I am not.  Because while you were thinking that, I was thinking that it might be cool to also inter-cut an old Howard Cosell fight call (“Down goes Frazier!”) in with Hillary’s staircase debacle.

Second, it’s not just Hillary.  I’ve also appreciated other presidents’ physical gaffes.  I thought it was pretty funny when Bush 41 vomited on the Japanese Prime Minister.  (Though I wished it had been on Arafat instead.)  And when Bush 43 dodged those shoes thrown by an ungrateful Iraqi at a press conference.

But I have noticed a subtle bias in media coverage of such things.  (The hell you say!)   Gerald Ford was a college athlete, yet he fell once or twice, and Chevy Chase turned that into a long (and painfully unfunny) career.  41’s vomiting makes lists of all-time presidential gaffes, and the media thought the shoe-throwing was hilarious, even though Bushie showed some pretty good reflexes while successfully dodging.

But compare Bush’s throwing out the first pitch in a major league game in 2001, to Obama’s attempt in 2010.  (Someone has already put those together on Youtube.)  Bush throws a strike.  But Obama’s pitch?  If Bush’s dad saw that, he’d pull another “bow to the Japanese Prime Minister” move, as I’m going to call it whenever anyone vomits on anyone else, from now on.  I’m surprised that half the dictators in the world didn’t start planning to invade the US after watching our commander-in-chief make that Malibu Barbie throw.

As unbelievably bad as that pitch looked, I’ve got something worse.  You’ve probably never seen this video before, but once upon a time, Barack did a photo op in which he showed off his basketballs skills.  The slick, cool, collected first African-American president started putting up shot after shot.

And – in the most perfect metaphor for his presidency that I can imagine – he looked great doing it, while getting terrible results.   He’d catch a pass gracefully, and square up, and follow his shot with a deft wrist-flip, like you’re supposed to.  But he Missed.  Every.  Shot.  Shot after shot.  With a clank clank here and a clang clang there, here an air ball there an air ball, everywhere a missed shot.

The guy built a brick house.  Then a brick guest house, with a brick six-car-garage.  Then he started on a brick driveway.  It got so embarrassing that he got closer, but still missed.  Then he missed a lay-up that was worse than his baseball pitch.  Then he missed a shot from right underneath the basket.

When he finally made a shot from about 6 feet, the crowd cheered the way you’d cheer if Stephen Hawking drained one from the top of the paint.  (Too soon?)


Anyway, lots of other stuff happened this week, and all of it was more important (but not more enjoyable) than Hillary falling down the steps of the Temple of Clutz-a-coatl.

(Okay, I know I’ve got the wrong continent and the wrong culture.  But c’mon, how many jokes combining Quetzalcoatl and Stumblin’ Hillary are you likely to read this month?  That one has to be in the top three, at least!)

Andrew McCabe got fired – and fired like a boss, only 2 days before he would have been eligible to collect his full (and fully UN-deserved) pension!  The only way that could have been better was if Sessions had waited to call him just before midnight on the last day before.  Don’t let the door hit you, you leaking, perjuring weasel!

When she wasn’t tumbling down the architectural treasures of India, Hillary also spoke, and you know that’s never good.  This time she blamed all the little American ladies who were bullied into voting against her by their big, mean husbands and bosses and sons.  That’s right, the Feminist Icon Who Would be President said that women are too weak and malleable, and that’s why she’s auditioning for a Falling Wallendas tour of the third world instead of barking orders from a double-wide recliner in the White House.

Crazy Walter Brennan released the tweet of the year, full of vitriol and drama-queenery and not-so-veiled threats against the president.

No, wait.  Not Walter Brennan.  He was a hell of a character actor, played Stumpy in Rio Bravo.  (I didn’t have to look that one up.)  My grandpa introduced me to him in some westerns when I was a kid, and we both developed a limping, old-timer-voiced impression of Brennan that cracked my grandma up.

I meant John Brennan.   He played a CIA head, but he wasn’t much of an actor, and had no character at all.  It’s hard to believe how many of these empty suits with formerly good reputations – Comey, Mueller, Strzok, McCabe and now Brennan – have shown themselves to be bitter, partisan hacks.

Finally, on a sad personal note, my aunt passed away this weekend.  I’ve written about her here before – she got a cancer diagnosis back in October, and by Thanksgiving it looked like she might not see Christmas.  But she rallied, and held on for a couple of more good, mostly pain-free months with her kids and family.    I’m heading up to Illinois to be a pallbearer for her later this week.

She had the best spouse-meeting story I know:  She was waitressing in a diner in the late 50s on a Thursday night, when my uncle was driving past after a shift at a chemical plant.   (I’m not making that up: my relatives are all straight out of a Tom Waits song.)  He saw her through the window and made a u-turn, went in and had a cup of coffee, and introduced himself.   His name was Don; her name was Donna.  (Really.  Not making this up.)  They went out on Saturday, he proposed on Sunday and they were married the next Saturday.   And they stayed that way for over 40 years, happy as clams, until he passed in 2003.

The moral of the story: marry someone after you’ve known him/her for 10 days, and everything will work out fine!

I’ve spent a big chunk of the last few days listening to some music that reminds me of her, and that comforts me.  I know that many in the CO nation are likely not Christians, and that very few are likely quasi-hillbillies like my dad’s family.  But no matter your background, if you haven’t heard some of that old time rootsy/gospel stuff, you’re missing out.  Especially when it comes to burying a loved one, the consolation of faith is all the sweeter when accompanied by some fiddle, banjo, mandolin and accordian.  (As a general rule, most 15th English hymns/drinking songs are at least 23% better when some small self-taught Bluegrass group sings in southern accents and “grasses it up” with an acoustic arrangement.)

For anyone interested, you could do worse than this list:

All My Tears – Julie Miller wrote this, and I like her version that appeared on the Songcatcher sountrack.   But some crazy Norwegians called the Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra do a pretty cool version too, until they go all Whitney Houston and overdo it at the end.  (Something about the idea of a bunch of Viking descendants named Ole and Magnus and Joakim singing Kentucky Simpson songs cracks me up.)

By the Mark – Gillian Welch wrote this one, and the Appalachia in her version is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Nothing But the Blood – this old standard works just about every way it’s played, but Nathan Drake does a good, stripped-down acoustic version.

I’ll Fly Away – Aussies Ashleigh Dallas and Kasey Chambers play a live duet version that is imperfect but somehow better for it, and there’s a little violin business in the middle that always gets me.

Because we’ve got some Irish background too, I couldn’t skip the Wailin’ Jenny’s doing the best version of The Parting Glass that I’ve heard.


Here’s to you, Aunt Donna, until we meet again.

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