Unfortunately the person who put this montage up on YouTube edited it out of sequence. And he left out the first clip that puts it all in perspective.
But would we leave you folks hanging out on a limb like that? No, sir.
Hopefully this will work properly.
I tracked down the first clip -- which oddly is tacked onto the end of some unrelated clip, and then trimmed out this first unrelated clip. (As it appears on the screen below, the unrelated clip is with Mandy Patinkin and Tony Randall. But it should jump past that.)
Then, the next clips should run immediately following. Should. (And even those are out of order. But they're close enough to make full sense of it. I think the last two clips are inverted.)
This is from the David Letterman Show. Sitting at his desk, Dave began gargling out Broadway showtune, and mangling the words dismally. Paul Shaffer interrupted him and -- well, you'll see. It then became a running gag throughout the show. And this is the joyous result.
But more me, the most fun is may watching the look of hero-worship and love on one of the participation's face throughout.
And hopefully it will run properly. If it starts at 4:19 with David Letterman at his desk singing, then all should be well. And joyous.
I love sports quotes. Sometimes, in fairness, it's because the questions asked are pretty lame. Albert Einstein would probably have had a challenge coming up with a good response to, "Some kind of game today, wasn't it?" But often, it's just because the thought process is...well, let's say, focused elsewhere.
Today's Sports Quote requires a slight background. I'm a big Chicago Cubs fan, so I've been following the travails of their star pitcher, Matt Garza. At the end of last year, he developed a strain in his pitching arm and was shut down for the rest of the season. Then, during Spring Training, finally ready to go, he pulled a muscle in his side. And just this week, his rehab almost finished, he developed soreness in his right arm, and will be re-examined.
That brought about the following comment from Cubs manager Dale Sveum. "Hopefully, it's just routine normal soreness, dead arm, whatever you want to call it."
Whatever I'd like to call it? Well, gee, okay, if it's all the same -- what I would like to call it is anything but a "dead arm."
Last night, Elizabeth Cobert Busch and former Governor Mark Sanford had their debate for their race in the first Congressional District in South Carolina. Based on a few reasons, I think the election is over, and Ms. Colbert-Busch, the Democrat, will be elected.
In part, it's because of an exchange the two hand during the debate. In a roundabout, though obvious way, Ms. Colbert Busch addressed Mr. Sanford's extra-marital scandal in Argentina. After giving a thoughtful answer about spending, she wove it another another direction, saying --
"When we talk about fiscal spending and we talk about protecting the taxpayers, it doesn't mean you take that money we saved and leave the country for a personal purpose."
During the crowd reaction, the moderator said, "She went there, Gov. Sanford"
This was when the former governor showed the moral courage of a four-year-old being told it was time for bed, putting his hands on his ears and making noises.
"I couldn't hear what she said. Repeat it, I didn't hear it."
To which Ms. Colbert Busch bluntly replied, "Answer the question."
To which Mr. Sanford said again, "What was the question?" And then went off in a totally different direction.
It's not that he avoided the question (though it is, in part), but mainly that he was just so childishly blatant about it, that even his strongest supporters probably had a hard time believing him, which is never want you want as a candidate. Not being believed. We show the video, you decide --
But a poor debate performance isn't why I think the race is over. Nor is it because of a good performance by his opponent. Or that she is ahead by nine points, with only a week to go before the election. Or that she has outraised him by almost two-to-one, meaning she has the resources during the last week.
No, it's none of that alone. It's all of that together -- and one other huge factor. Ms. Colbert Busch's favorability is 56%. The former governor's favorability is just 38%.
It's not that 38% is dismal (which it is). It's that when you're a former governor, people know you. Moreover, they've had a long time to know you. And mostly, they know you well. And when voters in your Congressional district know you well and have decided that only 38% like you -- you're not going to win.
And you're not gong to win, most especially, when 38% don't like you, you gave a poor debate performance, your opponent gave a good debate, is ahead by nine point and has outraised you two-to-one, with one week to go. And days before, you debated a cardboard cutout of someone you're not running against.
Mark May 8th on your calendar to DVR The Colbert Report. The day after the election.
A slight delay of things this morning. My overnight anti-virus run found an infection, and after quarantining it suggested rebooting the computer and running a boot-time scan. I also take such suggestions because...well, it's smart. It's also slow. A boot-time scan checks your system before Windows loads. So, unlike most scanning, it doesn't run in the background while you work, but you get to watch a lovely black and white screen with gibberish running across it. For three hours.
Fortunately, I eventually realized I have a back-up laptop, but still...
It found a few other infections and quarantined them, though I'm not 100% that everything got cleaned out, so I'm running another system scan with several other anti-malware programs I have, just to be sure. (It's good to have several, since they all search differently, and therefore find different things.)
But we are at least up and running.
Yes, we're back to Carousel, one more time. But time is in large part the reason for it.
For those of you who meant to watch the PBS production of Carousel on Friday but missed it, alas it's not being repeated, as is generally the case with Live from Lincoln Center. However -- it turns out that PBS is making the show available online, but only through May 3rd.
So, if you want a last change to see the production, you can run over to their website here. Or, even easier, I've embedded it below. Know that you'll have to set aside your evening, since there doesn't appear to be anyway to fast-forward to where you left off. Pause and Play seem to be the only options. But it beats not having it available at all.
NBA veteran Jason Collins today became the first player of a major American sport to come out and announce that he was gay.
Boy, some people will do anything to steal the attention from Jackie Robinson and the movie 42.
(And yes, I'm joking.)
This story has been getting huge media attention, being the lead story all day on ESPN. It's the cover story in the current issue of Sports Illustrated. Online analysts and newspaper columnists are writing about it.
And all I could think was -- wait, you're telling me that there is someone who's gay playing in professional sports?!! Well, slap me with a wet fish.
Honestly, I know this is a move that takes courage. Not just from a sports perspective, but a societal one. And being the first of anything is always more of a challenge and attention-getting. But at this point in life, how many people truly believed that there were no professional athletes today who were gay? Hands? Anyone? Even among the athletes themselves, how many there didn't think -- or didn't know -- that some of their teammates were gay?
I'm not reacting to the news of the announcement or the fortitude of making it. I'm more marveling at all the press attention. It's big news that he's the first to announce that he's a gay pro athlete. But he's not the first gay pro athlete. Between all the four major sports, there are probably dozens.
The best analysis of this I heard during the day came on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption where hosts Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser both say that while they expect there to be some thoughtless, lunkheaded reaction by a handful of players in the NBA, they expected the overall response to be totally accepting and only concerned about whether a player can help their team or not. The biggest impact, they felt, would be on how society outside the sport will now recognize and become more accepting of gays as part of the mainstream of life.
One small quibble about the story. The news reports all refer to how this is the first time an active player in one of the major sports has come out as gay. However, the reality is that at the moment, Jason Collins isn't signed by any team and is a free agent. Now, he isn't retired, so maybe that is the fine line they're dancing on, but right now he isn't under contract to any team.
I received a comment from reader Gordon Kent about the PBS production on Friday of Carousel, for which I'd had a Media Alert. I wrote back a story about one of the supporting actresses, and thought I'd expanded on it just slightly. (In my case, "just slightly" might end up anything...)
To start with, though, I was impressed by the production, which among other things used a lot of songs that I suspect gets cut out of most productions of Carousel (and definitely the movie version). It struck me while watching that the show that it's so heavily music that the Carousel is on the edge of being an opera -- so, it was nice to hear afterwards when the host Audra MacDonald commented that Richard Rodgers always considered Carousel to be his opera. I like the show, but it's never been one of my top favorites (I find the story a bit thin). But that score is such a joy, and ultimately it's 80-90 percent of the show.
I'm a big Kelli O'Hara fan. And I like opera star Nathan Gunn a great deal, too. And they were both (as expected) quite terrific in the starring leads. But the treat for me was to see Jessie Mueller. She co-starred as Carrie Pipperidge, and is the point of writing this here.
I had seen Jessie Mueller just over two years ago at the teensy (108-seat) -- though highly-regarded -- Writers Theatre in my hometown of Glencoe, Illinois. Small as this theater is, it's actually massive compared to where they existed only a few years ago -- the company was founded 21 years ago literally in the back of a bookstore, Books on Vernon, which seated only about 40 people. Yet their reputation was so high in the theater community that the main theater critics from both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times would regularly drive 20 miles from the city to review their new productions, making their way past the shelves of books. On occasion, a critic from the New York Times would even review one of their new shows -- from the back of a bookstore! That's how good they are. My "highly-regarded" comment wasn't hometown hyperbole.
A few years back they finally became "big" and got a space in the back of the Glencoe Women's Club, renovated it, and now have a whopping 108 seats. Their production of A Streetcar Named Desire was so wildly acclaimed that critics came from all over the country, not just Chicago. (The Wall Street Journal reviewer said he didn't care where you were in the Midwest that summer, you should drive to Glencoe, Illinois, to see the show. The New York Times critic wrote it was the best production of A Streetcar Named Desire he himself had ever seen.) Their world premiere of the musical, A Minister's Wife, went to Broadway a year or so ago, at Lincoln Center. And yet, the company -- under the leadership of artistic director Michael Halberstam -- still performs some of their shows in the back of that same bookstore.
Anyway, okay, finally, back to Jessie Mueller. But that's where I saw her in a production of She Loves Me, where she starred as 'Amalia,' (If you don't know the musical, it's from the play, The Shop Around the Corner, which is what the movie You've Got Mail is based on. She played the Meg Ryan role.) She did a nice, solid job in the first act, but it was in the second act when she came alive, and was an absolute, total, revelatory joy. Sheldon Harnick, who wrote the lyrics to She Loves Me (and, among other things, Fiddler on the Roof), was in the audience that night, as well, and when I spoke with him after (he's a friend -- I didn't just go up and intrude...), he agreed about her performance and most especially how so-wonderful she was in the second act. Then, last year, she "graduated," went to Broadway and got a Tony nomination as Best Actress in a Musical, for On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Not shabby.
So, seeing her last night was a complete pleasure -- and it helps that she was great..
There are quite a view videos of her in On a Clear Day, but instead, but the point of all this -- see, I knew I'd get around to it!! -- is that I want to include one from that tiny production of She Loves Me. It's only about 2-1/2 minutes, but you can see how wonderful she was back then, in the 108-seat theater. It's her show-stopping number, "Ice Cream," but alas only part of it -- however led into with the dialogue scene, opposite Rod Thomas. (Again, for you You Got Mail aficionados, this is the scene when Tom Hanks comes to Meg Ryan's apartment to start to "make nice" and get her to like him.)
Anyway, sometimes, it's just nice to see people "before." (Especially if you just saw them for the first time the night before in Carousel.) So, here is Jessie Mueller in late-2010, surrounded by 108 seats, not long before -- heading off for Broadway.
"It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue, Maybe the court should have said, 'We're not going to take it, goodbye.'"
-- Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, on Bush v. Gore
There is a saying, "Better late than never." This is one of those rare times, however, that that probably doesn't apply. It's the judicial equivalent of saying 13 years later, "Hmmm, maybe I should have thrown the life preserver to that drowning man."
Don't get me wrong, it's a nice thought, and it's swell to hear one of the five justices who voted in the affirmative say it might have been a bad idea to take the case. After all, being able to say, "Nyah, nyah, see I told you so," is always good for the soul. But no matter how good those on the outside feel, when someone has taken their last breath and sunk down to the bottom of the ocean floor, Chicken Soup for the Soul isn't going to bring them back to life.
And the thing is, it wasn't just that Ms. O'Connor was pondering whether it was right to simply hear the case, but she also suggested what a bad job those who voted for it did.
"It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn't done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day."
You must understand, the Supreme Court is notoriously close-lipped about its procedures and even more uncritical of itself in public. For a Supreme Court justice (present or former) to publicly question one of their own decisions -- and a decision that is probably one of the handful of most impactful decisions in U.S. history -- is so rare that you have to assume that her polite disclaimers of "maybe" and "probably" mean, "Okay, I've given this a lot of thought, and I can no longer keep it to myself inside or I will literally burst before your eyes."
It's easy to lose track of some things about the case, after the passage of time, as well. Keep in mind, though, that what was so clearly and shamelessly galling about the Bush v. Gore decision that showed how blatantly political it was, wasn't just that the Supreme Court simply heard the case, or made the problem worse, but that they signed out this critical decision -- again, of the the most impactful in U.S. history -- as not setting precedent, but just applying this one time, and one time only.
So, former Justice O'Connor's acknowledgement that "probably the Supreme Court added to the problem" doesn't just speak volumes, it shouts them with that megaphone George Bush used standing on top of cars after 9/11.
Though not particularly better late than never, here is, of course, a couple "better late" aspects of her comments, and that's that it gives less comfort to those hiding behind supporting its defense, and also it will hopefully give reflective pause to justices in the future. Small comfort for what transpired from the Bush Presidency, but comfort.
Well, it's "semi-better late to all but people like Justice Antonin Scalia, who, when asked about Bush v. Gore, famously answered, "Get over it." Clearly, this is a standard Mr. Scalia lives by -- when the Supreme Court has made a decision, that's the decision. Final, finuto, done. It's in the past, accept it, and move on.
Unless it's about re-visiting the Civil Rights Act.
Over the past few weeks, there have been readers directed to these pages thanks to a tip from Mark Evanier on his remarkable blog. First of all, that's not hyperbole. And the people who've traipsed over here from there know that. And second, calling it a blog doesn't do it justice. It's a "blog" like the buffet at the Bellagio in Vegas is "lunch."
I wrote an article about all this on the Huffington Post a while back, and even reference it with a link under heading above, "Good Things to Know." But I don't know how many people check that out -- and if they do, how many click on the link to the article. But the thing is -- it really is a good thing to know. So, as a public service, I thought I'd make it easy on folks, and save you a couple of clicks. You're welcome.
The Fourth Best Blog on the Internet
Whenever I've directed someone to the blog by Mark Evanier, they've come back with two reactions: 1) thanking me profusely for the pleasure it brought them, and 2), berating me because of all the time they now spend reading it.
The reason Mark Evanier has the Internet's fourth best blog, "News from ME" (those are his initials, of course) is not just because he's such a great, involving, entertaining writer (among a great many things, he's written every episode of the Garfield TV series) and so insightful and profoundly fair-minded and funny -- but also because you get two-for-one: his blog links from his main website, POVonline, which is a collection of tales and personal profiles that is so rich and enthralling that it's like getting sucked into a Black Hole where you enter a new, joyful universe in which time doesn't exist.
For what it's worth, I don't know what the three blogs are that are better. I'm just playing it safe.
But hold the blog a moment. First, POVonline, whose homepage choices are the Internet equivalent of a Las Vegas buffet: sections devoted to fabled people Mark has worked with, tales from his vast expertise of pop culture, little- known personalities who may be the most fascinating, and more. Though POVonline is about entertainment on the surface, everything is told with a perspective that gives it substantive meaning. Even if you don't have a clue about what any of this is or why you should care, entering the Church of Evanier will make you a convert. If you do know, you'll feel like you're re-discovering long-lost best friends.
That homepage has topics ranging from Laurel and Hardy, Charles Schultz and Peanuts, the movie "It's a Mad, Mad,, Mad, Mad World" (of which Evanier is one of the world experts -- as he is, literally, on many of the topics here...), the legendary Stan Freberg, the Dick Van Dyke Show and far more.
"One day, I met Dick Van Dyke," Evanier writes, "and said to him, 'Forgive me for being the 800th person to say this but I became a comedy writer...' and Mr. Van Dyke finished the sentence, '...because you thought you'd sleep with women who looked like Mary Tyler Moore, and it's more like 80,000...but thanks.' But at least, he said it with a chuckle."
Wandering off into the Comedy section inundates you with remarkable tales of Evanier's first-hand encounters -- from Groucho Marx, Red Skelton, Gwen Verdon and Henny Youngman, to Sam Kinison and even Senor Wences. There's a riveting multi-part, series on Allan Sherman, of "My Son, the Folksinger" fame, filled with audio links of rare material.
Clicking on "TV and Movies" takes you to a section overloaded with stories on Soupy Sales, a multi-part series on the history of The Tonight Show and an achingly heartwarming dinner with Jimmy Stewart.
"He clasped the stranger's hand, and made an honest effort to get up and to ask them their name, and he'd say, 'Why now, isn't that nice of you to say that?' As if no one had ever said that before, as if the person five minutes earlier had not spoken the exact same words," Evanier remembers, following the twelfth intrusion. "He made each of them feel like they had done him the favor by coming over and expressing their love for him and his work. I was fascinated. I remember thinking that somewhere, within that aspect of his personality and manner, was some direct connection to his believability on the screen."
It's worth pausing here to point out that Mark Evanier is not some crusty, old-timey Hollywood veteran from the Golden Age. He's in the midst of his active career, simply someone who grew up in Los Angeles and has filled his life (and museum-like home) with pop culture. In addition to writing all episodes of Garfield and Friends (and currently its new return to TV), Evanier wrote for Cheers, Welcome Back, Kotter, and even the infamous, disastrous variety show, Pink Lady. Evanier, who's a friend, just published a biography of renowned cartoonist Jack Kirby, "Kirby, King of Comics." And he teaches comedy at USC. And co-created and writes the comic book, Groo the Wanderer.
Indeed, it's the field of comic books and cartoon shows where Mark Evanier is now most celebrated -- a regular guest and panel host at comic book conventions around the world. It's just another area where he's a leading expert. And his POVonline homepage has links that prove it -- articles on voice artists Mel Blanc, June Foray (Rocket J. Squirrel) and Daws Butler (Huckleberry Hound), on Beany and Cecil, Scooby Doo and too much more.
But it's his many stories about Las Vegas that is cultural writing at its best. Read them all - most notably a revealing encounter with Sammy Davis Jr. But if you only read his hilarious comedy-of-errors adventure, A Las Vegas Story, you'll be as fully satisfied as can be. It's my second-favorite Evanier piece. (I'll tell the my favorite in a moment.) Just read it.
Believe me, I've only touched the surface of what's on POVonline. The Archives section is filled with a warehouse of past treasures that will remind you of the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Fascinating pieces about John Cleese, Jay Leno, M*A*S*H, Harold Lloyd, Jon Stewart, Pogo, Jerry Lewis, "Yogi Bear" and on and on. And --
And I haven't even gotten into the diamond center that started this whole praise, his wondrous blog, "News from ME."
Mark Evanier's "News from ME" blog is what blogs are supposed to be. The numerous daily entries range from couple sentences to lengthy essays. (Many of the articles mentioned above began life as blog entries.) They're beautifully written, hilarious, perceptive -- even when about the most mundane of daily events, like last week's multi-layered piece about buying a shirt -- personal, self-effacing ("I resemble an acrobat about as much as I resemble a grilled cheese sandwich") and much more than just entertainment, they cover politics, social issues, food, literature and everyday life. Always honest and opinionated, always decent, objective and generously fair.
Standing out may be his reminiscences of those who have passed away. With deep appreciation, he puts in perspective what made them memorable in the first place, but often with honest criticisms to remind us that we're dealing with full-rounded humans. Some are famous, but many are people you may not know -- but Mark feels you should... and makes clear why.
The blog is influential, too, in (of course) a pop culture way. One example. A couple months ago, the sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, had an offbeat reference to the Creamy Tomato Soup that Souplantation serves only a few times a year. That line was the result of one of the show's writers who reads "News from ME" religiously and was taken by Mark's repeated adorations of the soup and his daily updates of his trips to the restaurant.
Beyond his tales, what makes the "News from ME" blog so involving is that it also features the most wonderful collection of video links. Often old, lost commercials. Or footage from classic, little-known TV shows. Or animals (Mark looooves animals). Or unaired TV pilots. Or foreign-language versions of Garfield and Friends. Or...well, you get the idea. It's multimedia heaven.
But what brought all of this to mind right now is my favorite piece that Mark Evanier wrote several years ago. I think of it often -- and re-read it often (it's that good) -- but especially this time of year, because it's about Christmas.
Mark lives near L.A.'s famous Farmers Market, and one day during the holidays he wandered over -- only to see singer Mel Torme eating outdoors. Mr. Torme also wrote the beloved "Christmas Song" (You know, "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...") A troupe of carolers happened to be passing by. What occurred was a tremendous story. And the way Mark Evanier tells it is as superb as a master storytelling gets. It just will grab you, hug you and endear itself to you. Do yourself a huge favor for the holidays -- click here and read the story.
And then do yourself a favor and bookmark the "News from ME" website. You will thank me profusely for the pleasure it brings you. And berate me because of all the time you now spend reading it.
While most coverage of the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday has focused on the comedy monologues by President Obama and Conan O'Brien, I thought it would be worthwhile posting something else from the evening that got a lot less coverage. It's a video that kicked off the evening -- a parody of the Netflix series, House of Cards (adapted from the BBC series).
In it, Kevin Spacey re-created his role as Frank Underwood, the Democratic House Minority Whip from South Carolina. The machinations he's involved with here are real-life politicians and press trying to score tickets and get the best seating at the event. (The first person you see with him is Ed Henry of Fox News, who currently services as head of the White House Correspondents Association. The video, House of Nerds, isn't wildly funny, though great fun to see all the participants.
By the way, related to this, I had put CNN on to watch the event, and eventually just recorded their broadcast and fast-forwarded through later. Their coverage was ghastly. Some fatuous in-studio guy just yammering, and gushing over how hot Sofia Vergara looked, and talking with two women at the event who just blathered. (One was their “entertainment correspondent,” Brianna something.) This went on for probably almost an hour! It made the E! Entertainment channel look in-depth by comparison.
Next year, I'm sticking with CSPAN...
Anyway, here's the video.
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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