It's been a quiet week. High school students dress up to celebrate Snow Week; the men's bible study group holds its Chili Dump; the story of Edgar "Left Foot" Mueller, who owned the Alhambra Ballroom; and the Sons of Knute begin their "Guess the Ice Melt" contest.
There was a nice tribute to Leonard Nimoy from outerspace on his passing Friday. This was tweeted by Terry Virts from the International Space Station.
Last year, A Prairie Home Companion celebrated its 40th anniversary with a three-day event. As I've mentioned, I first came across the show when my brother was living in St. Paul, Minnesota, and wrote me about this odd, wonderful local radio show, and we went to see it at the World Theater when I went to visit. It wouldn't become a national broadcast for several years after that.
The day before the official 40th Anniversary Show, they had an outdoor broadcast on the Fourth of July, held at Macallister College. The video is titled 40 Years, 40 Songs, but I don't think it's that many songs -- I haven't counted them, but it seems closer to 20. It's largely a number of performers who've appeared on PHC over the years, come together for the event.
There a couple of nice things here which I particularly like. One is that they brought back Butch Thompson, who had been music director for several years, and who I really loved and wrote about a couple of time here and here. He shows up early in the video, around the 2-minute mark. And then for those of you who loved Northern Exposure or remember the article I wrote here about its last episode and closing song, "Our Town," written and performed by Iris DeMent, you'll appreciate that she makes an appearance in the video, as well, singing a duet with Garrison Keillor around 10-minutes in.
So, he's a bit of celebrating before the 40 year gala.
This is old news, since it was dated January, 2014, but Tweets get passed along the Internet at various speeds of light, and so I just came across it. This was a Tweet from Rand Paul (R-KY) which apparently came a bit after the State of the Union Address last year --
There were a lot of great replies, but what I loved most was a response from someone who went by "Zmark," who wrote back --
"Since we r nation of laws, you should know the Constitution ALLOWS the President to act alone in certain circumstances."
To be clear, I don't mind at all if Rand Paul or any other Republicans in the Senate disagree with the president's views and actions. I just like them to at least know what they're talking about and not just pander to their base with quips that sound like they're meaningful, but are empty.
By the way, related to this was another reply that said -- "then help him out act with him."
Obviously, Rand Paul has no obligation to act with the president if he disagrees with the action. But the point is that he wasn't complaining about the president's position, just that he acted alone. If in fact he agreed with the general principle about whatever action the president had taken, but just bothered by some details and that he'd done it alone, then indeed Sen. Paul should have reached out to try to find a compromise and act with him, rather than merely whining disingenuously about taking an action alone.
Whenever a public figure passes away, the White House releases a statement of sympathy from the president. It tends to be thoughtful and to the point, a national statement of remembrance. I've rarely seen a comment like the one from President Obama about the passing today of Leonard Nimoy, at the age of 83.
I say "rarely" because I'm covering my bases, just in case there have been others, since I've hardly seen them all, or even most. But right now, to the best of my recollection, I haven't seen one as personal as this.
Barack Obama has long been known as a bit of a nerd and Star Trek geek. It's nice to have evidence that this was actually the case.
Here's the full statement.
Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy. Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the center of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future.
Oh, just freaking sigh...
As you might have figured out by this point, no, the carpet removal and new flooring didn't take place -- again. After packing up as much as possible (which honestly shouldn't have been necessary) and unplugging the computer system and moving it -- the team arrived, looked around and said, "There's a lot of furniture here, we can't do this."
Furniture in a home, what a concept.
I asked what they were referring to, wanting a more specific answer. He said that because there was a lot of furniture, it would be too difficult to move things around to do the work.
While I certainly understood that having actual furniture in a home did make the job more difficult, this didn't strike me as the greatest response, especially since it had been made clear several times beforehand what was in the place. The owner of the property had been inside and walked around.
"Look, if you can't do it, you can't do it," I said. "But people have new carpeting and flooring put in their furnished homes all the time."
Well, yes, but this is on the second floor, they said, so it's more difficult.
Seriously, guys? "Well, that's true," I replied, as politely and smilingly as I had in me. "But people have carpeting put in second floor apartments, too. And people has two-story homes."
The short version of the long story is that they're now going to come back on Monday, and bring a third person, and the job should go zippy then. (Y'now, all they had to say at first is -- "Hmm, I think this would go better with a third person. Is it okay if we come back on Monday?" Sure, I'd have said. Because that's precisely what I said here.
In the meantime, the kitchen is filled up with material and books and furniture that I moved there, so it's fairly unusable for the time being. Some, too, with the bathroom, though I'd left a bit of a batch for some access. (Hey, there are limits.)
The truth is that, while I know moving things into the kitchen and bathroom makes the work easier, I also know that it's completely unnecessary. The independent living residence where my dad lives replaces a resident's carpet there every seven years. The people are 80 years old, or 90, or there are even some over 100 -- I can assure you that 99-year-old Adeline who lives down the hall does not go around moving her furniture and empty her bookshelves when they replace her carpet. My 93-year-old dad had his new carpet put in last year -- he left his computer system, bookshelves, filing cabinet, beds, sofas and everything exactly where they were and just went out for the day.
Will the job here be done much easier with things moved out of the way? Absolutely, so I was okay doing it, even if inconvenient, along with unhooking and re-hooking the computer and all the cables repeatedly. But -- boy, howdy, do I hope it actually, finally gets done on Monday...
Okay, the offices of Elisberg Industries are displaced for the day -- again -- so I wanted to get something posted before the maintenance crew arrives and kicks us out until this evening.
I thought I had posted this before, but I did a search of the site and couldn't find it. (Though the search feature here can be a bit temperamental.) Still, though, even if I did post it previously, I'd do it again here. That's because it's particularly appropriate.
It's Frank Sinatra once again singing "High Hopes." But not the version you think. This comes from the 1969 presidential campaign, in the days when he was a big Kennedy supporter, and the song has new lyrics as a campaign song on behalf of JFK. (I have a feeling that the new words are written by the songs original lyricist, Sammy Cahn, who was often writing special material, particularly for Sinatra.)
I got this on a '45 record when a kidling given to me by a friend of my father, Newton Minow. (Yes, the father of the oft-mentioned Nell.) He had been involved in the Adlai Stevenson campaign, and then worked for Kennedy. As you can probably figure out, he got rewarded with a choice position, as chairman of the FCC.
So, here again is Frank Sinatra singing "High Hopes," with music by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics (most likely) by Sammy Cahn. Just not the version you know or likely have ever heard before.
The other day, I mentioned how Frank Sinatra recorded a bunch of offbeat, charming movie songs around the era of 1960, one of which was "High Hopes." The song was from the 1959 movie, A Hole in the Head, which he starred in. And he had a pretty big hit with it. And the song, written by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, did just fine on its own, winning the Academy Award as Best Song.
I was going to play Sinatra's hit recording, but then I found this clip from the movie, and decided to use it instead. Not just because it's from the film, but mainly because of who he sings it with, a little kid named Eddie Hodges.
That name might be familiar to some of you, but you just can't place it. Or it means nothing to you. But you likely do know of him, very well. Only a few years early, he co-starred on Broadway in The Music Man as the lisping, shy Winthrop Paroo, the kid who introduced the songs, "Gary, Indiana," and "The Wells Fargo Wagon."
Here they are together, from A Hole in the Head. By the way, there's something interesting about the scene. If you pay attention, you'll note that the scene is done almost entirely in one shot. In fact, there's only one cut near the end, and they finish the song that way. I have a feeling that in a perfect world they'd have loved to have done the song in just that one shot (otherwise, why stick with it for almost the full song). But my guess is that, as you'll see, there's something at the very end that probably required cutting early so that they could get the end right without having to re-do the entire song over and over until they got it just right.
I also wonder if they got the first part in just one take. I say that because at the :32-second mark, if you listen closely, Eddie Hodges gets the words wrong, and Frank Sinatra sort of gives him a pointed, encouraging look to prod him on. And the kept filming. Now, they may have done more takes and decided they they liked the charm of this version.
But however many takes it took to work out, they got it just fine.
Well...it turns out that the flooring company that was going to be taking out the carpet and installing the new floor wasn't able to get the material they needed, and so everything got cancelled. The apartment is largely packed up, but everything was put on hold and will have to sit that way for another day, with the workers coming back tomorrow, Friday. Supposedly. Hopefully.
(I'd set up plans and appointments for Thursday, so that I could get to them when I was required to be out of the apartment. So much for making plans...).
Okay, so, y'know that whole "From the Management" admonishment that you're on your own all day today, and wander around the Internet on your own? Keep that in your hip pocket, because it will be operative on Friday instead...
We're back -- for the time being.
Today, the offices of Elisberg Industries are getting some long-overdue repair, while saying goodbye to a longtime carpet. The carpet that has been the foundation of the enterprise for the past 15-20 years is FINALLY getting replaced, proving that there is a God. A new wood-ish type flooring will be installed in its place. Among other things, this will let our company tap dance team have an on-site space to practice, meaning we hopefully will have a chance to qualify this year in the state tournament.
As such, we have been thrown out onto the street for the day. It would be nice if things are finished by the time we return, and we have been given assurances that this will happen. Though the maintenance department also promised that the leaky faucet in the third-floor break room would be fixed, and that was 20 months ago. So, we'll see if we're back online in the evening.
In the meantime, might I suggest you check out Nell Minow's Movie Mom website here, for two reasons. One, it's really good, with lots of movie reviews and some other movie-related commentary, and two, we're trying to work out a royalty deal.
Or you can read all about the Chicago Cubs Spring Training here.
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, and is a regular columnist for the Huffington Post and the Writers Guild of America. 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.