Continuing our celebration o' the day, we have this song, "Dear Old Dad," from the 1961 off-Broadway musical, Smiling, the Boy Fell Dead, a spoof of Horatio Alger-type stories, with music by David Baker, and lyrics by none other than Sheldon Harnick, his first stage show, three years before he teamed up with Jerry Bock for Fiddler on the Roof. And oddly, two years after he and Bock won the Tony and Pulitzer for Fiddler on the Roof. (This off-Broadway show had been written earlier, but took a few years to get produced.)
We start today's folderol with our annual playing of this gem by Harry Ruby, who co-wrote many of the great Marx Brothers songs.
I'd sing this to my dad every year on Father's Day, and the game was to see how long I could get into the phone conversation before he'd interrupt and almost petulantly say, "The song!!!!" I usually didn't get very far. I think the longest may have been two minutes.
This week's contestant is Rob Scheinberg from Hoboken, New Jersey. The good news is that I got the composer style pretty quickly. It's someone that I often toss-up with one other composer, but I guessed the right one here. But I didn't have a clue with the hidden song. However, on the second pass, oddly enough I did think I had an idea of the composer of the hidden song, and was at least right about that. And when host Fred Child gave his first clue I immediately got it. That doesn't count, but it gives me tiny comfort.
This week, Al Franken's conversation is with author Michael Lewis, whose books include Moneyball, The Blind Side, The Big Short, Liar's Poker and many others. They discuss Lewis's latest bestseller, The Fifth Risk, which the site says, "Al calls the best book about the Trump Administration, in no small part because there’s very little focus on Trump himself. Instead, Lewis takes us inside of three Cabinet agencies – Agriculture, Commerce, and Energy – and the incompetent, venal, and/or corrupt appointees who find their way into crucial positions within the federal government."
Okay, one last video of the Tony Awards (as far as I know...), but this one is very different -- since you didn't see it if you watched the Tony Awards It took place during a commercial break, and only came to light because host James Corden happily has his own talk show and ran a video of it there afterwards. Thanks to my friend Adrienne for giving me a heads-up on this.
As Corden notes, the quality isn't always great (though it's pretty good), since most of the camera were off, but happily it was captured by those in the audience on their mobile phones!
It features actor Billy Porter who won the 2013 Tony award for Best Actor in a Musical, for his performance in Kinky Boots. To fill in the time, Corden offers him a book of songs to sing from, and he chooses "Everything's Coming Up Roses," from Gypsy. He insists he doesn't need the lyrics, though messes up a bit, but then he only expected to sing a few lines and...well, you can see what happens. It's great fun.
From the folks at Now This, here's a brief follow-up on Jon Stewart's testimony at the House hearing on behalf of 9/11 first responders.. As I was watching his testimony, certain thoughts came to mind, and one of them makes this video not surprising.
Trump announced yesterday that Sarah Huckabee Sanders would be leaving her job at the end of the month, and offered her big hugs as she heads home to Arkansas, saying that he hoped she would run for governor there.
(This may come as a surprise to the current governor, Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, who was just reelected. I'm guessing that Trump meant he hoped she would run some day, and when the current Republican governor wasn't running again for reelection. But given that this is Trump, I long ago gave up trying to translate him or understand or care about his meaning.)
No one is quite sure why she is leaving now. Some suggest it might have something to do with Trump's disastrous interview on ABC the day before. I doubt this though for several reasons. For one, he said a lot more nice things about her than he usually does when canning someone, and spread it out over two tweets. For another, for all we know Trump thinks it was a great interview. Then again, who in the world knows?
For that matter, it had been announced at the beginning of the year that Sanders would be leaving her job at the end of the month back then, so until she's on the outside looking in, I look at all of this as speculative.
The timing of it all, though, does have a nice bit of whimsy to it. That's because earlier in the week, she gave an interview and said how it hurt her when people said she was a liar. And honestly, I'm sure it does -- after all, most liars are bothered when people catch them in a lie and call them on it. It defeats the whole purpose of lying. But of course, as much as she is so hurt when people call her a liar, imagine being on the receiving end of all those lies.
Okay, you don't have to imagine it, since we all have been on the receiving end.
As for her moving back to Arkansas, I know that that's her home, but I think the move there may also be because it's the only place she'll be able to go out to a restaurant without being yelled at and kicked out.
Could she run for governor some day? And win? I suppose it's possible -- it's a deeply Red state, and her father was governor there. But as smarmy and sanctimonious as Mike Huckabee is, he also is a former preacher with a smiling, hands-on, snake-charmer's way about him. "Smiling charmer" has never been one of Sarah Huckabee Sander's strong points.
The question, now, strikes me as who will replace her? (If Trump even decides to replace her.) After all, it isn't easy to find someone so-willing to lie so often and demean people. Sanders not only clearly had that gene in her, but after a while she had (as the expression goes) "skin in the game," and her reprehensible actions were as much defending herself as they were defending Trump. A new press secretary won't bring that egregious history to the plate. And will be coming in at a time of great turbulence, as the Democratic House is ratcheting up judicial, intelligence, ways & means, finance and other hearings on the White House, along with the possibility of hearings for impeachment.
I know that Sarah Sanders was just the spokesperson for Trump and not Trump himself. And that much of the job entails covering for a crime boss. But there are good ways of doing the job, and reprehensible ways of doing. And further, you don't have to take the job. She seemed to relish doing harm to honesty, decency and the welfare of the country.
No need for her to linger, taking the time to turn the lights out in her office. I'm quite certain that there's someone around who can do it.
When I watch the performances that musicals present on the Tony Awards broadcast, beyond just whether I was entertained by them, I try to see which ones intrigue me enough to want to see the show. I enjoyed pretty much all the performances this year, but only one got me thinking that I'd like to see that production. It was the segment they had of a revival of Oklahoma! which has been described as "re-imagining" the show from more of a country perspective, rather than Broadway, though without changing any of the text or music.
They used parts of two songs from the show. The segment closed with the rousing title song, which wasn't surprising, and opened with one of the lesser-known songs, "I Cain't Say No," performed by one of the smaller characters, Ado Annie -- which was not only surprising, it was remarkable.
That's in theory. Once you saw the performance, the decision was understandable. The actress who sang “I Cain’t Say No” wasn't just terrific, she won the Tony as Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Ali Stroker. And it's not difficult to see why.
Her raise-the-roof performance (more than the title song) clearly has a much stronger country music arrangement. In part, I suspect that may be because they can’t do that as much with the title song, though they do stage it in more of a down-home country way.
Two comments on the songs. First, the background of "I Cain't Say No" is sung by a young woman who was gangly and awkward as a child, but grew up to be pursued by young man and now finds life a banquet. As for the second number, apparently they have audience members on stage during the show, so when you watch the video, that’s who the people are in the back.
Here then is Oklahoma! -- OK?
As a bonus, here is Ali Stroker's touching acceptance speech, the first performer in a wheelchair ever to win a Tony. Alas, the clip doesn't include the announcement of "and the winner is..." -- but it's worth it, regardless.
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
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