On this week’s Naked Lunch podcast, hosts Phil Rosenthal and David Wild sit down for lunch with Jeff Ross. As they say on the site, “Phil and David have both known Jeff Ross for many years, so they are at ease with the comedian known around the world as The Roastmaster General. Over sandwiches, Jeff retraces how a kid from a family of caterers from New Jersey ended up following in the footsteps of the ‘rock stars’ of stand up he loved and bringing new life to the art of Roast Comedy, as well as befriending many of the legends who set the stage for his modern success story, including Don Rickles, Milton Berle, Joan Rivers and Pat Cooper, who died the day this episode was recorded and is remembered here. Jeff discusses touring with friends like Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and John Mayer, and shares great stories about Ray Romano, Eddie Vedder and, as is ‘Naked Lunch’ tradition, Bruce Springsteen.”
From the fine folks at The Dodo, this is a wonderful story about how it took a year for a woman to get a feral dog inside the family’s house and how things built from there.
No, I didn't watch the "impeachment hearing" (sic) yesterday. Nor do I intend to in any coming days. It's just too galling and reprehensible what Republicans are doing. After nine months of the GOP holding an investigation and finding quite literally nothing, to now hold a "hearing" as if oh, now they'll find new, actual evidence is...well, I'd say "shameful," but it's pretty clear that most congressional Republicans today have long since given up on the concept of shame. To hold these "hearings" only serves one purpose, to muddy the waters without actual evidence against President Biden and try to protect Trump with his four indictments, in order to move their fascist agenda.
And all this with the government set to shut down in just two days!
It was Shakespearean in the breadth of its repugnant emptiness. Though more on that at the end. How unearthly awful was it? One of the Republicans' own witness, attorney Jonathan Turley, testified that there wasn't enough evidence for an impeachment. Another of the witnesses, Eileen O'Connor, "left out" that when she introduced into "evidence" an article she had written about how if you were Biden and did this, you'd go to jail, she was referring to Hunter Biden. (When questioned about her omission, she said she left it out to save on her limited, allotted time. I believe she saved herself one second.) And their own third witness didn't support impeachment. In fact, even Neil Cavuto of Fox (!) said that after having watched the hearing all day -- "I don't know what was achieved over these past 6+ hours."
Reading social media was difficult, too, since you see so much extreme-right commentary thinking that actual evidence is being introduced against the President. But sorry, "Hunter Biden" and "if" are not actual evidence about what Joe Biden, in fact, did illegal, let alone as a high crime and misdemeanor.
Even watching the news coverage has been a challenge, and I've avoided most of it. But there is one bright spot -- highlights of scathing, sarcastic, furious response from Democrats on the committee. Jamie Raskin, not shockingly, was brilliant in his opening statement as Ranking Member.
He had probably my two favorite lines of the day. The best, I think, was -- "Like flying monkeys on a mission for the Wicked Witch of the West, Trump’s followers in the House now carry his messages out to the world." A close second was -- "If the Republicans had a smoking gun or even a dripping water pistol, they would be presenting it today but they’ve got nothing on Joe Biden.”
His full statement was wonderful, but here are two, particularly-impactful minutes that stood out for me.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was superb, as well, in how she took down a smarmy congressman from Florida for using Photoshopped material, and she was prepared for it and had the evidence to use.
There were others, but I particularly like this from Democratic Rep. Jasmine Crockett from Texas. It didn't get as much attention as the others, so I thought I'd post two minutes of it here. She was on fire. And she has one sarcastic line near the beginning that’s hilarious. (About the number of times “If” and “Hunter” were used.)
And all this with the government set to shut down in -- say it together now -- just two days!
It was all so Shakespearean.
It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
I haven't posted anything from Richard Wiseman for a while with his wonderful "Quirkology" videos. Since it's been a while, a little reminder is probably due. Wiseman is a Professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, and his videos (and books and lectures) for how he deals with magic are what's got him the most attention -- what he does and talks about is really closer to parlor bets and optical illusions They cover a wide range of offbeat and fun subjects, but I'm partial to his "Bets you can always win series." Here's another --
I generally like the RawStory website. They tend to have a good compilation of news stories, including summaries of stories from websites that have pay walls I couldn’t otherwise read. I do have a few quibbles with the site, though.
One is that they have far too many typos and mistakes than a respectable new site should have. To their credit, they have a link after every story for readers to send in any corrections they think are needed. I’ve used this often – so often I’ve thought of requested staff status – and to their addition credit, they not only tend to respond quickly and make the corrections.
The other is that they much too often have headlines that have absolutely nothing to do with the story itself. There have been many times I’ll see a headline that looks interesting and read the article – and then skim it again and again for the point mentioned in the headline, only to realize it’s not there. In the early days, I’d read an article that same “again and again,” and then again and again and again. Over time, though, I eventually glommed on to this “quirk” of the site, and it's helped me cut down my “agains.”
Every once in a while, not often, they’ll do something pretty egregious that truly bothers me. And that was the case yesterday. It was this headline –
I was aghast, and find that incredibly irresponsible. Saying that someone “shirked” their “responsibly” means that they had a responsibility in the first play to “shirk.” After all, you can’t shirk a responsibility you never have.
Cassidy Hutchinson was an assistant. Her boss Mark Meadows may have had a huge amount of authority, Chief of Staff. And she may have had a lot of responsibility in her job as his assistant. But…she was his assistant. She wasn’t even “Deputy Chief of Staff.” She was an assistant. His principal assistant, to be sure, but assistant. In fact, she later got a new title while working for Meadows, “Special Assistant to the President and Coordinator for Legislative Affairs.” So, even that had “assistant” in the title.
And RawStory’s headline suggests that she had the “responsibility” to “stop” the President of the United States in the midst of him trying to overthrow the government!
It should be noted that Trump has been indicted for his actions (as have some of those around him) specifically because none of those around him – including his Chief of Staff (Hutchinson’s boss), the Acting Attorney General, his lawyers and top advisors – couldn’t, wouldn’t and didn’t stop him. But RawStory seems to think that this 24-year old assistant had the “responsibility” to do what no one – with actual responsibility -- else would do.
Actually, if you read the article, there’s really nothing in it to support their headline – which isn’t uncommon for RawStory. (This is different from that, though, since it’s not that information was totally left out, but rather that the headline damned someone for something that not only wasn’t remotely their fault, but that the article later does address and contradicts the headline.) What the article quotes her saying at the very end is –
“I felt it was our responsibility to stop January 6th from happening. And I felt that, you know, if I could go down to Florida and help relish whatever sort of legacy there was left to relish, that was still my job to help do so." To which she then added -- “looking back now I realize it's completely irrational and I should not have felt that way. January 6th was the president's fault, and there were a series of enablers that helped it happen, but it wasn't my job and it was the wasn't of anybody else actually rational to stop what is clearly an irrational man, Donald John Trump.”
She’s right. Her personal thought that she had any responsibility to stop Trump was completely irrational, and she’s right, she should not have felt that way. And further, January 6th was Trump’s fault. And there were enablers that helped him. And, as she said, stopping Trump wasn’t her job.
But to RawStory, it was her supposed responsibility that she shirked. As if 24-year-old assistant to the Chief of Staff could have stopped the Trump coup attempt by…what? Saying, “Hey, people, this is wrong, Don’t Do This!!”? To be clear, the problem here wasn’t a click-bait headline to get you to read the article. The problem is that the headline was a smear and irresponsible.
When I was watching the interview live, and she brought up at first feeling she had a responsibility, my initial reaction was, “Hunh? Say what??? You had zero responsibility.” Fortunately, she went on to say she realized that thought was “completely irrational.”
The person responsible was clearly an irrational man. Trump.
This was not RawStory’s finest hour.
The best I can hope for is that they don't understand the meaning of "shirk." And "responsibility."
This is a treat. It's the original Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett -- Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury -- recreating a song from Sweeney Todd. This stands out because, although there was a taped TV production of the show with Lansbury, it had George Hearn in the title role. He was excellent (I believe he's who I saw with on when the show played in Los Angeles), it's special to see the two originals.
This comes from a 75th birthday celebration for Stephen Sondheim at the Hollywood Bowl in 2005 -- a production I was happily at. And it was all wonderful. My recollection is that they taped it for possible broadcast on PBS, but for whatever reason it was never aired.
This is the song "A Little Priest," which is when Mrs. Lovett explains to Sweeney her idea of what to do with the bodies he's killed in revenge.
(I have a fond memory of this number when I saw the stage production. I'd taken a date, and as the song went on, she started sinking lower in her seat. And kept singing lower. And lower. I whispered to her, asking what the problem was. I said I'd told her the show was dark. "But I didn't know it was about this," she whispered back. But I told you it was dark, I whispered. "But I didn't know it was about this," whispered. But I told you it was dark. "But I didn't know it was about this." And that kept going on a few more times as she kept sinking lower in her seat. Ending with, of course, "But I didn't know it was about this."
Well, just so you know, it's about this --
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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