From the archives. This week's contestant is Allison Toltz from Montreal, Canada. This is one that on every level I felt like I should get both the hidden song and composer style -- but didn't. But I danced on the edges. It's a well-known composer, but not as well-known as the most-famous of this style, and I didn't get the specific person. As for the song, it reminded me of one particular song, and I thought it was that, but not enough. So, I didn't guess it. And...that's what it turned out to be! So, if you play along and have a guess, don't veer off it. You might well be right.
On this week’s Al Franken podcast, Al notes how “the Felicity Huffman/Lori Loughlin scandal pales in comparison to the scandal of our higher education admissions system, which protects the privileged and leaves everyone else behind.” So he and his guest Paul Tough talk about how the College Admissions system preserves our nation’s economic and social disparities.
Today's guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR game quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is Ronan Farrow. His conversation with host Peter Sagal is very light-hearted and self-effacing amusing as they largely talk about his serious, new podcast, based on his book and Pulitzer Prize investigating sexual abuse. Also, the quiz this week has a particularly funny topic.
The guest on this episode of 3rd & Fairfax, the official podcast of the Writers Guild of America is Krysy Wilson-Cairns who co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for 1917. She also was a staff writer for the series Penny Dreadful and wrote the upcoming film Last Night in Soho.
I was very sorry to read about the passing yesterday of Terry Jones at the age of 77, one of the members of Monty Python. He'd been very ill for a while with a form of dementia that, among other things, took away his ability to speak the last few years of his life.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with him once in 1983. I don't have any specific memories of conversations, but strong general ones. And they're very positive I was working at Universal Pictures at the time, and we released the movie, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. As party of my job, I set up a screening of the film and held a Q&A with the Pythons who participated. Only four of the Python were there -- though, of course, four Pythons is still high cotton. But the two who weren't involved were my two favorites, Michael Palin and John Cleese. But I certainly liked the other four -- Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and Terry Gilliam -- who were involved, although Jones was probably my least favorite actor of the group, and I of course didn't know Gilliam much since he was mostly the cartoon animator.
Needless to say, as happy as I was by the occasion, I was still a bit disappointed. I spent a little time with the four fellow earlier in the day when they came to the studio offices, and then on the stage after the screening. They were all reasonably pleasant, a little distant but fine. But Terry Jones was an absolute, utter joy. Warm and friendly as could be, a real gentleman, gracious and kind. During the Q&A, he was in the seat next to me, and continued being as nice as before, and thoughtful, funny and supportive in his answers. He had directed to movie, as he did all the Python movies (the movies that Terry Gilliam directed were separate from the group, though he directed a short film about accountancy pirates that preceded The Meaning of Life), so he had more to talk about from the production end, but he didn't hog the stage and was just a gem. I wish I remembered specifics, but I'm glad how clearly I recall the generality. I adored him ever since.
Small side note. The Pythons tended to work in two-man teams, and Terry Jones generally worked with Michael Palin. A few years before my Q&A experience, my friend Rob Hedden had made a documentary on the making of the film Brazil, that Michael Palin was in, And as I wrote about in more detail here, Rob said that his experiences with Palin, and from the outtakes he showed me, Palin was just an absolutely wonderful guy. And I've subsequently read and heard Pythons say how nice he was. So, it didn't come as a shock when it turned out that Michael Palin and Terry Jones were partners. What a nice team they must have been.
In addition to his Python acting and directing, Terry Jones also wrote a lot of books, including several non-fiction historical work book, and hosted TV programs on history. I've only read one of his books, I believe it was his first and highly recommend it, a short children's book of a collection of short Fairy Tales. The stories are a joy, very funny and generally sardonic. The only about a rain drop may be the shortest and my favorite. If you do get a copy, his admonition in the introduction is worth following. He says that these began life as stories he told his children at night and are best read aloud. I tried that on a few, even just to myself alone in a room, and he was right. As good as they were when written, they sparkled when spoken. You can find it here. This is a link to the Alibris website, since the copies sold by third-party vendors on Amazon are around $60.
Rather than show clips of some of his appearances in movies, I've decided instead to show Terry Jones being Terry Jones. So you can see.
So, now, as his defenses of Trump keep dwindling in the face of House Manager arguments during the Senate trial, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is down to arguing that Trump "did nothing wrong in his mind."
Putting aside for the moment that analyzing what's in Trump's mind is a risky defense, most-especially since there is virtually no evidence of him ever saying he was wrong and appears to believe that everything he does is OK, including his "perfect" phone call extorting the president of Ukraine which helped get him impeached -- this "defense" by Lindsey Graham shows how empty the GOP is now.
Note that Graham now does not say that Trump did nothing wrong. Merely that it wasn't wrong "in his mind."
Fun Fact: if you rob a bank but in your mind you did nothing wrong since banks allow money to be withdrawn, you will be convicted of robbery.
If you kill someone but in your mind you did nothing wrong since people with different political views than you hurt America, you will be convicted of murder.
If you punch your little brother but in your mind you did nothing wrong you're older, you will will sent to your room, not get dessert and lose your allowance.
So, great, we can all rest easy and get on with our lives -- Trump did nothing wrong "in his mind." Cool. It turns out that if ignorance is bliss, Trump has apparently reached nirvana.
But Lindsey Graham said even more that was from the ozone. For starters, when speaking of the charges by Trump that Joe Biden did something corrupt in Ukraine because his son got a job on the board a oil company for which he wasn't qualified, Graham said, “I love Joe Biden but I can tell you if the name was Trump, there would be a lot of questions asked."
For starters, there were investigations about all this. Two of them, actually, one in Ukraine and one by the British, and in both it was determined that Joe Biden did absolutely nothing wrong, nor did his son. But going further, I think he's right.that if this was Trump there would be even more questions asked -- that's because Joe Biden has a many-decades history of honesty and decency (which, I have to assume, is why Lindsey Graham "loves Joe Biden"), and Trump has a long history of being sued and settling, including by the federal government over racial bias in his property and for fraud with his Trump University, not to mention just having had his "charitable foundation" shut down by the courts! So, yes,,people would indeed look at Trump differently from Joe Biden over the issue of corruption.
Is this unfair "profiling" of Trump? No, rather it's what lawyers call "pattern and practice." And it's another really terrible defense of Trump by pointing out that people see Trump as generally having a history of being corrupt.
Mr. Graham had two particularly bizarre but wonderful (in a bizarre way) quotes. The first about Trump was -- "if he thought he was doing something wrong, he would probably shut up about it.”
I'm doing my best to figure out what divining rod Lindsey Graham used to come up with that one. Forgetting for the moment, as I noted, that I'm not sure if Trump has ever thought he was doing something wrong, more to the point is that I don't think Trump would shut up about most anything, even if he was asleep. We've seen he has a need to talk, a need to tweet, a need to be front-and-center, a need to be the focus of attention. And what we've also seen is that when it's clear he's losing a battle over some reprehensible comment, he often doubles down.
The other quote was --
"The president believes that the Ukraine interfered in our election. I can tell you without any doubt it was the Russians who hacked into the DNC. It was not the Ukrainians. I cannot say that there was nobody in the Ukraine that had worked with [Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort] that did a number on him. I don’t know.”
The only reason Trump believes that Ukraine interfered in our election is because...Vladimir Putin told him! This isn't a guess, Trump said so. And Graham knows this, yet still thinks it's a great thing to repeat. And not only does he think it's a great thing to repeat...he thinks it's even better to let everyone know that he himself, Lindsey Graham, not only believes but knows and even more, he knows "without any doubt." And not only that he know without any doubt that it was the Russians -- but that it was "not the Ukranians."
And this is from Lindsey Graham, one of Trump's greatest maniacal defenders. And for reasons unknown to him and his God, he thinks this is all a really swell defense of Trump.
In the words of the great opera comic Anna Russell after taking 20 minutes to explain the utterly-convoluted and near-insane plot of Wagner's 20-hour Ring Cycle -- I'm not making this up, you know! (You can read it all here.)
Let's recap because this is too weird and can get lost. Trump's leading defender Lindsey Graham tells us --
People would be more suspicious of Trump doing something corrupt than of Joe Biden.
He, Lindsey Graham, loves Joe Biden..
Trump would apparently shut up if he did something wrong.
He, Lindsey Graham, knows without a doubt that Russia interfered with the United States election.
He, Lindsey Graham, also knows without a doubt that Ukraine did not interfere with the United States election.
Trump, however, does believe that Ukraine interfered in our election -- which we know Putin told him.
And in the end, although Graham can't state explicitly that Trump did nothing wrong, what he can insist -- indeed, the best defense he can offer -- that Trump didn't do anything wrong "in his mind."
The defense rests.
Sometimes, you wish the defense would keep going.
Randy Rainbow is back, just in time for the Senate impeachment trial of Trump. And he's got a new song with, I think, some of his more fun parody lyrics in a while. This to the tune of the song from Beauty and the Beast about that bombastic, eqomaniacal villain, "Gaston."
Yesterday morning, Adam Schiff gave an almost 2-1/2 hour opening argument so magnificent that afterwards on MSNBC an analyst said that they would be studying it in generations to come and rhetoric students would be giving it at competitions.
In the evening yesterday, Adam Schiff gave a 90-minute closing argument that afterwards Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said was one of the 10 best speeches he's heard in his entire career in politics.
Not a bad day of oratory.
What was most notable about the closing speech -- where Schiff laid out the timeline of Trump's actions in meticulous, riveting detail -- is that several senators and commentators made the fascinating observation that, this was likely the first time many Republicans had heard those facts and seen video clips that got incorporated from the House impeachment hearings. Either they didn't follow the details over the past months or, as Republicans, they just watched "Fox News." The result of this, as Schumer and later MSNBC reporter Geoff Bennett (who was watching from the Senate gallery) both commented is that for the last half-hour of Schiff's closing speech, the roomful of senators -- who had not been focused during much of the day -- were sitting riveted to him.
“I watched the Republicans. And most of the time they're sitting there to their credit. They don't want to hear it. So they're looking the other way their heads are down,” Schumer said. “But for the last half hour, they were glued to him.”
My only complaint with the closing argument last night is that when he was finished, Schiff didn't turn to the Republican side of the Senate, look them over and then say, "So, you still want to call me as a witness?"
I have nothing to add beyond that. So, here are his opening closing arguments. I figure just let him speak for himself. He does it well enough.
No need to watch all of this, of course, if you didn't see any of it before, just jump in anywhere among them for a few minutes. I suspect it will suffice just fine...
And here's the closing argument..
As readers here know, I'm a big fan of the late folksinger/songwriter Bob Gibson, who had an admired solo career and also periodically teamed up with Hamilton Camp (who himself had a successful acting career, following his work at Second City). I've posted a bunch of Gibson -- and Gibson & Camp -- videos. I even had the chance to briefly meet and have a nice chat with him when he performed on the Northwestern University campus at their Amazingrace Coffeehouse.
Gibson, who passed away in 1996, was based in Chicago and part of the city's longtime folk scene that overlapped with people like Shel Silverstein and Win Stracke early on and later with Steve Goodman, John Prine, Bonnie Koloc and others. I share my great appreciation of Gibson with longtime reader here Eric Boardman (who himself is a grad of Second City, among many other things). And it's as a result of that mutual appreciation society that the Good Mr. Boardman informed me of a tremendous website -- BobGibsonfolk.com.
What's so tremendous about it is something I can't explain why it is. Like all such artists, there is a page of all of Gibson's albums. Unlike all such artists, you can click on any selection for any album, and it will play in its entirety. In a good, crisp recording. Even more remarkable is that it's all programmed for "continuous play," where when a song finishes, it jumps to the next song and plays that one, like listening to an album. This isn't single play, where you have to click one song at a time.
I have absolutely no idea why the Gibson folks have done this. The only theory Eric can come up with is that it's a way to interest people in buying the albums. And perhaps so -- except they make it so easy to listening to everything that I just don't know.
Mind you, I'm not complaining.
For thems folk folks who like such things, you can find the album page here. If I had to make two suggestions, both are albums of his with Hamilton Camp. The first is their classic "Gibson & Camp at the Gate of Horn," which was a folk club in Chicago. This was considered a legendary album that went out of print, and so several years later Gibson and Camp got back together and re-recorded the same songs at Holstein's in Chicago. The website not only has the "...Revisited" album, but the original, as well. And the second album is "Homemade Music," made in 1980 when they reteamed after years apart and recorded this at McCabe's Music Shop in Santa Monica -- a concert I attended.
(If you want a solo album, "I Come for to Sing" has a long of good selections, including my favorite "To Morrow," which I've posted an in-concert video of, and which is the song I talked with him about at Amazingrace. By the way, every version I've heard of this has been around three minutes long -- this, the original, to my great surprise is...11 minutes!)
But then if you closed your eyes and picked any one of the albums and selections, there's a good chance you'll enjoy the performance, whether or not the song is to your taste.
Here he is in 1991 with "Sing Us Some of the Old Songs" which he co-wrote with Shel Silverstein, mixed in with a couple of his more popular old songs -- "Well, Well, Well" and "Daddy Roll 'Em."
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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