I posted a video the other week here of the old folk music group, the Chad Mitchell Trio, singing the song, "The John Birch Society." A friend wondered if this was from the original group, or after Chad Mitchell left to pursue a solo career, and he was replaced by a singer-songwriter just starting out his career, who subsequently wrote some songs for the group, John Denver. (Who, of course, would himself have a bit better solo career than Chad Mitchell.)
The recording was from the original trio -- Chad Mitchell, Mike Kobluk and Joe Frazier (no, not the boxer...) -- and the way one can tell is by the name. After Chad left, so too did his first name, and the group became just "The Mitchell Trio." A while back, I posted a video here of the Mitchell Trio when John Denver was with them.
(Interestingly, Denver stuck with the group even after the other two members of the trio left, For contractual reasons, though, they couldn't call themselves even the Mitchell Trio, and performed as "Denver, Boise and Johnson." Side Note: the "Johnson" part was Mike Johnson, who eventually had his own solo career, including the hit, "Bluer Than Blue." They all finally disbanded in the late-60s. And John Denver did just fine.)
By the way, not to get even more confusing, but for the sake of accuracy, when people refer to the "original" members of the Chad Mitchell Trio, that's not completely accurate. A fellow named Mike Pugh was in the original group, but he left after a couple of years to go back to college. That's when Joe Frazier entered, and it was after this that the group became established, started to rise, and hit its stride and fame. However I'm pretty certain that Pugh was with the trio when they were backup performers for Harry Belafonte, and sang on his famous Carnegie Hall album in 1960. Pugh left soon after, and Frazier came in. And the group, as most people know them, began touring on its own.
Several years back, in 1987, there was a PBS special which reunited these three main original members of the Chad Mitchell Trio -- and they even brought back John Denver. And near the end of the show, all four performers sang together for the first time. I thought it might be fun to take a look at that. And so we shall...
(That's Chad Mitchell to John Denver's left. The other two members are Mike Kobluk and Joe Frazier. And sorry, no, I don't know which below is Mr. Kobluk or Mr. Frazier. I think Joe Kobluk is the one of the far left.)
Though there's an element of entertainment akin to the circus coming to town when watching the Republican nominees for president, after a certain point the amusement level disappears and it becomes more a case of disheartening. These men are trying to become President of the United States, for goodness sake -- Commander-in-Chief of America's armed forces, leader of the free world, most powerful man in the world -- and they're treating it like a sixth-grade pissing contest.
Literally. No hyperbole. Seriously, literally.
Consider that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave a stump speech last Thursday where he suggested that Donald Trump (R-Trump Towers) had wet his pants during the last debate.
Donald Trump responded later that day by ridiculing how much make-up Mr. Rubio wore and how much he was sweating.
Just yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) suggested to host Chuck Todd that maybe the reason Donald Trump isn't releasing his tax returns is possibly because he's trying to hide mob ties.
Marco Rubio then went on CBS's Face the Nation and blamed the press for Donald Trump's success. No, not Republican Party's voters for casting their ballots for him, and not the Republican Party for promoting the virtue of ignorance in charges of Kenyan birther Nazi traitor Socialist un-American against the president, anything to weaken him. And no, not the fault of the candidates themselves for not even trying to criticize Donald Trump as he built up his support before it's now almost too late. No, it's "The Press's Fault." So much for the Party of Personal Responsibility.
And on the stump campaigning, there was Donald Trump the other day, derisively referring to his opponent for president, Senator Marco Rubio, as "Little Rubio." All that was missing was the "Nyah, nyah, nyah."
And when appearing on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) -- a man who campaigned with pride for his straight talk -- was left dangling, clueless as he tried without floundering success to defend his endorsement of Donald Trump, who the governor had continually trashed throughout his campaign on just about every issue. It got to the point where the best he could do was just totally give up trying to defend issues and just say that Donald Trump's great selling point was that he was at least better than the other guys and had a better chance of being elected. Some ringing endorsement, indeed.
Again, to repeat, this is the Republican race to nominate their party leader and candidate to be President of the United States of America. And all this is just within the past four days. Forget the past month. Forget the past four months. Four days.
And I suspect that serious Republicans find it pathetic, as well. Heart-sickening, in fact. Their party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower is down to pee jokes, mob charges, schoolyard insult name-calling, blaming others, and "Well, he's at least more electable than the other guys."
I find nothing amusing about this. One of these men could become President of the United States. I don't think it will remotely happen, but it absolutely could. Who knows what unexpected event could occur between now and November? But even if they don't get elected -- even if they're crushed in a landslide so huge that Democrats win control of the Senate and House -- the Republican Party has degraded the entire process of electing the American President.
This is galling damage, damage so great that will take years to recover from, and only with the most diligent, thoughtful, even-handed effort -- something that is not currently available in today's GOP toolkit.
I am certain that we will start hearing Republican analysts and Republican voters do "damage control," trying their best to make any of these three yowlers seem like Men of Substance because they are from the Will of the People. But that's just desperation, trying to put a fresh coat of paint and a Sheraton Hotel sign on an outhouse, profound wishful thinking that the sociopath you woke up from your drunken night next to is actually your soulmate -- because to face reality would be soul crushing. This is not the "Will of the People," because you don't end up with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio -- let alone Dr. Ben Carson, because your people have a "will." You get there because your people don't have a backbone. Or a clue.
And if any Republican is offended reading this, just remember -- your party is the one who ended up with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, pee joke, mob charges, schoolyard insult namecalling, blaming others, an inability to defend those you're trying to endorse...and less.
And as I've repeatedly said, the Republican Party only has itself to blame.
And unfortunately, we all are the recipients of the deadly second-hand smoke.
A couple weeks ago on the wonderful NPR show out of WBEZ in Chicago, Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!, (that I wrote about here for thems who don't know it), here again is the "Not My Job" segment. This is the part of the show where a public figure comes on for an interview and then is given three questions to answer (on behalf of a listener) in a field having absolutely nothing to their area of expertise, though oddly having some deeply-tangential and whimsical connection. The guest is Lena Headey, one of the stars of Game of Thrones. And the topic she's given is "Games that are worse than Game of Thrones." Happily, the wonderful host Peter Sagal is back on the show, after his brief time off, and so the interview is as charming and funny as ever..
A long while back, I was at a sort of industry event that, if memory serves, Entertainment Tonight was putting on. During the course of the evening, a woman came over to talk, and -- being polite -- I put out my hand and introduced myself. She gave me an odd look and then said, "Yes, I know. We met yesterday."
And so we had. I'd been called in for a job, and met with the staff, and she was...er, the executive VP who ran the meeting.
I wasn't totally shocked by it all, though. This sort of thing happens to me. In fact, it's why I so quickly reached out to introduce myself. I'm absolutely great with remembering the tiniest details from the distant past (even if I wasn't present, but the person told me), but I'm lousy with faces. And I've always figured that most people are. When people recognize me from a few years earlier, let alone just months before, I'm always very impressed.
Then, a couple of years ago, during the course of conversation, a friend of mine offhandedly mentioned a condition called "face blindness." Something I'd never heard of. There are different levels -- she said she has a mild case. When she first starting dating the man she eventually married, she said that she didn't immediately recognize him at first on their initial three dates. She said that, apparently, Brad Pitt has a bad case of it.
And suddenly, so much of my own past became clear. I've never had it tested or talked to anyone about it, so it's possible that I'm just incompetent in recognizing faces, but I suspect not. It's just been too pervasive all my life. I'm not "blind" with it, and I do a passable job recognizing people. But I know it's always been something I've had trouble with and often try to prepare if I know I'm going somewhere with people I only slightly know. (I've even been known to as surreptitiously as possible write down names when I'm at a big gathering of people.) And it certainly explains why I'm so impressed with others when they remember me.
Anyway, to confirm that it is an actually-real condition...60 Minutes has a report on face blindness tonight. It airs at 8 PM in Los Angeles -- an odd time for the show, since it's usually on at 7 PM, but they have back-to-back episodes tonight. Alas, I suspect it won't get as big a viewing audience as usual, since there happens to be some other program on at the same time around most of the country, having to do with movies and awards, I'm told. Though that's why God invented the DVR.
Also, there's something whimsical about people not seeing a report on face blindness. I sort of know how they feel...
It's been a quiet week. Margie and Carl Krebsbach attempt to cuddle to reduce depression, the Suns of Knute cancel their Valentine's Day dinner after Val Tollefson causes a fire, and a crowd gathers after the Soderbergs' car goes through the ice.
I decided to pop in to Souplantation today. I was just in the mood for large amounts of food. To my surprise, it turns out that lunch on Saturday at Souplantation costs more than during the week. To my greater surprise, for no known reason to Man, it is a whopping 40-cents more.
I could see if it was, say, $1.50 more on Saturday because they had some additional food items. But that's not the case. (I asked -- "No, the menu is exactly the same.") I could see even it a dollar or so more on Saturday because they felt there was a certain caché to dining there on a relaxed Saturday. (There isn't.) I could see raising the price several dollars all employees were paid time-and-a-half on Saturday. (And that makes no sense, since you only would have to juggle schedules so that no one is on overtime.) But...40 cents?? Where on earth did that come from??
It's obviously not a big deal. It's just 40 cents. But that's all the more reason to make it odd. Why in the world raise your price by a "whopping" (tm) 40 cents on just that one day??? When everything else is apparently exactly the same.
I asked an employee, and she was bewildered by it. "Maybe it's because of there being a big rush or something." You'd think that they'd like that, I said. And besides, there was no rush, it was even seemed a touch less busy. (Side note: I love it when employees don't have a clue what the answer is, and just pull some meaningless answer out of an orifice.) Was there any difference at all in the menu, I asked? No, none, it was the same, she said. I asked the manger -- it didn't change anything, I'd already paid, after all, and was only 40 cents. But at this point I was just trying to find an answer because it was so odd. -- and even he didn't have any idea. He thought it was strange, too, and said that they were always asking upper management themselves for the reason and never were told.
So, it's fine, but bizarre. Why on earth do you raise the price a whopping 40 cents one day of the week, when the menu doesn't change. I have to assume there's a reason. That doesn't mean it's a good one or makes sense, though who knows, maybe it does. But when even the manager doesn't know and has kept asking, you have to figure that the answer probably is a pretty thin one. "Thin" as in incomprehensible.
Fairly tasty soup, though.
On this new edition of the 3rd & Fairfax podcast from the Writers Guild of America, we have an interview with Josh Safran, the creator and showrunner of Quantico. Also included Hilliard is an interview with Michelle Amor, the co-chair of WGA's Black Writers Committee.
A month ago, I posted here an elaborate video put together with the cast members of the very long-running British TV soap opera, EastEnders. It was done for the annual telethon, Children in Need, is apparently these videos are a sort of tradition that the EastEnder folks do for the charity.
Here's another one. This is a Sgt. Pepper medley for the Children in Need 2007 broadcast. Obviously, if you don't know the EastEnders show, as I don't..., you don't get the same fun of seeing your favorite soap actors out of their comfort zone, doing their best trying some song and dance. But it's still fun.
(Though the video shows its running time as over nine minutes, the production number is only seven -- there's a couple minutes after when the cast comes on stage.)
After posting that piece this morning about my friend Rabbi Jack Moline being named president of the acclaimed Interfaith Alliance, I realized that what I wrote didn't do my admiration justice. I've said here on this site that Jack is my friend, but it's important to put that in perspective. After all, I live in Los Angeles, a city where if you met someone two years earlier, many people call that an "old friend."
In fact, I met Jack back in high school, at New Trier East in Winnetka, Illnois, a northern suburb of Chicago. (I wrote about the school about and its many illustrious alumni here.) Among other things, he and I did a comedy radio show together on the school station WNTH. We also put together an extensive radio documentary, "What Makes People Laugh," that included interviews we did in Chicago one day at the National Association of Broadcasters convention, among them one of the guest speakers, Joan Rivers. Also, for inexplicable reasons, he cast me in a tiny role in the student-written musical, Lagniappe (for which I wrote the lyrics), perhaps one of the few glaring mistakes in his life, despite it being a non-speaking part. I recall him having the hardest time getting me to hold my arm out properly during the big reveal during the finale -- that's how talented I was at acting -- until he got SO frustrated that he finally ran up on stage, grabbed my arm, thrust it out, and snapped, "Like this!!"
And we also went to college together at the beloved Northwestern. In fact, it was thanks to Jack and a bizarre mix-up that I got to live on campus. Being local, I didn't initially get campus housing my freshman year. I was talking with Jack during the summer before classes started, and he suggested I get on the waiting list, like he had, since you never knew who would drop out. As good fortune had it, I ended up getting a dorm room by the first day, but the joke was that I'm pretty certain that the housing office screwed up -- because when I ran into Jack the first week classes, he was amazed to find out that I already had a room. Since he was still on the waiting list! Obviously there was a screw-up, since by all rights he should have gotten a dorm room long before I did. But apparently that was his first religious lesson -- that All Good Things Comes to Those Who Wait, Even If It's Because of a Screw-Up....
It was while at Northwestern that Jack and I took a class together in interpersonal communication. (Obviously, this held him in good stead later on.) The way things worked out, we teamed up for a big class project and resurrected our old "What Makes People Laugh" documentary, and updated it with actual research. This included a live presentation, which culminated in one of my fond college memories. If I can be immodest even after all these years, we magnificently constructed the "finale." Near the end of the 15-20 minute talk, Jack begin to wind things up with our summation -- this conclusion was a long monologue, explaining (with great scholarship and detailed facts) our findings after studying the history of comedy as to why people today are so sophisticated that we therefore don't laugh at slapstick anymore...as I stood silently next to him. All the while he was talking, though, he was filling up a pie tin with shaving cream. During this, you could hear the large class begin to titter and see them squirming in their seats, turning to one another, not quit believing that he would actually hit me with a pie in class. And still Jack droned on with eloquence, continuing to fill the tin higher, as I just blithely ignored it all and stared out.impassively. The anticipation grew and grew, and the titters built to chuckles. And it all led to the final moment when, with great emphasis, Jack concluded his talk. "And that is why," he said, "people today will no longer laugh at slapstick." And he just stood there. As did I. Both unmoving, just looking out into the large room. Remaining there for about eight seconds. The anticipation grew to a pitch, along with the uncertainty. Simply waiting. Until at just the right moment-- WHAM!! -- he thwacked me in the face with the pie. And the room exploded with laughter.
Yes, this is the new president of the Interfaith Alliance. He always had great comic timing. (My only quibble is that we used shaving cream. Note to prospective Borscht-belt comics: use whipped cream...)
In fact, it was Jack (er, sorry, the eminent Rabbi Moline...) who by chance helped give me a leg up into the movie industry. We were both living in Los Angeles at the time -- me, right after getting my Masters degree from UCLA film school, and Jack with his wife Ann, going to Hebrew College here (or whatever it was called), studying to be a rabbi. As I wrote on the pages a few years ago --
At the time, I was working for the California State Park Service, at Will Rogers State Historic Park. It was a seasonal job, though, and I would be temporarily laid-off soon, timed as it happened for the summer. Jack called and told me about summer job openings at the Universal Tour, where he was. I applied, and we worked there together. (He was particularly impressive when the trams drove through the "Parting of the Red Seas" exhibit,) After the summer, he went back to school, and I soon applied to work elsewhere at the studio, getting hired as an assistant in the PR Department. Eventually, I got promoted to Publicist, personally met E.T., and then got hired to be assistant to the president of the studio, Bob Rehme. After he (Rehme) moved on to head up another company and I left the studio, I ran into Bob one day. He asked what I was doing, I gave him my screenplay, "Harry Warren of the Mounties" -- and it got great coverage at his company, they bought it. It was my first movie sale, and I got into the Writers Guild.
Jack, alas, eventually moved away from Los Angeles, choosing to continue to pursue religion as a career, as opposed to sticking with the glamour of tourguiding, and he and Ann eventually ended up in Alexandria, Virginia, raising their family and him serving as rabbi of Agudas Achim Congregation, where he was later named by Newsweek magazine as one of the 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America. (No doubt, they'd heard about the pie throwing.)
His temple was conservative, but that only made one of my favorite stories from Rabbi Moline (er, sorry, Jack) all the more notable. He was giving his sermon on Yom Kippur, the most holy day of the year in the Jewish religion. A day of fasting and devout reflection. And at one point during this sermon, he reached under the podium, brought out a Big Mac Double Bacon Cheeseburger, and said to his congregation, "What would you people do if I ate this right now?"
Hey, I told you about his sense of timing. I suspect most people would love to practice their religion in a house of worship like that. And if they did, it would probably be a more peaceful, loving world.
Make no mistake, Jack Moline he is a very serious, thoughtful, profoundly decent, nurturing, smart, devout religious leader. And make no mistake, he has always -- always -- had a wonderful sense of humor. I suspect that's clear at this point. I remember him wandering around his apartment in L.A. smoking a cigar while wearing his George Burns t-shirt. A decade or so later, when an accomplished rabbi, he was one of the "public figures" who was interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine about why they watched the TV nighttime soap, Melrose Place, at the height of its huge popularity. Jack's answer was simple, "Two words. Heather Locklear." He also wrote one of the funniest books on religion I've ever come across. Growing Up Jewish: or Why is This Book Different from All Other Books, for Viking Press. (It included a guide for selecting a college for your child, and wanting to know how many other Jewish students should also attend the school, so that it wouldn't be too many or too few. "The number is six," he wrote.) I believe the book is out-of-print, but you can find it here
And now he's president of the Interfaith Alliance. They're really lucky to have him. But then, I think everyone is lucky. We are all better off for it. By a lot.
And now he can add that to his resume which includes Senor Vice-President, Telecommunications, for Elisberg Industries. And okay, he's lucky for that, since at the time there was only one opening on the corporate board. For that matter, there's still only one opening. He sets a high standard to follow.
And that's what I left out mentioning before. How it slipped my mind is beyond me.
At least I said he was a big Cubs fan.
As many of you may know, we have an impressive if limited collection Corporate Officers on the Elisberg Industries Board of Directors. "Impressive" in that it includes Rabbi Jack Moline, "limited" in that it only includes Rabbi Jack Moline. But we look to expand the list daily. We just haven't yet found anyone who meets our high standards, or who will agree to serve.
You can read about our Board of Directors under the "About Elisberg Industries" link above. But I thought it was appropriate to mention some awfully nice news about Rabbi Jack. For many years, he was the rabbi at Agudas Achim Congregation outside of Washington, D.C., in Virginia. But he left last year to become the Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance. However, now -- well, let the organization tell you themselves in their Facebook post. (I'm not sure if the full release will load, but if not, just click the "more" link at the end.)
A huge congratulations to our Senior Vice-President, Telecommunications. All the more so given how religion has become such an important and divisive issue in today's politics and presidential race
Hey, we may not have many Corporate Officers, but what we have is choice..
Besides which, he's a big Chicago Cubs fan...
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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