On this week’s ‘Not My Job’ segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, the guests are Desus and Mero, who have a talk show on Showtime, which began life as a podcast. The conversation with host Peter Sagal is as energetic as they are on the TV show. There is much to be said for being natural, loquacious and ebullient with no posing, and they come across just like they do on their show, and it’s fun. There is also something to be said for subtlety to add complexity and texture, which does not appear to be part of the package.
We haven't had piece from the "Don Giller Collection" for much too long so let's head back. This is Viewer Mail from July 17, 1987.
The hidden song should be pretty easy. The composer style, too -- but for me, it was a guess of one of a few, and I guessed wrong.
On this week’s Al Franken podcast, he has a particularly timely conversation on our Southern Border with Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. The two mean discuss “what brought us here, where we are, and what we need to do going forward.”
This past Saturday, the first "show" on Broadway opened since the pandemic. It was only a 40-minute production, and the audience was extremely limited, socially distanced and required to wear masks -- comprised mostly of staffers from the Actors Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
It was a matinee, directed by Tony-winner Jerry Zaks, and featured Tony-winners Nathan Lane and Savion Glover, who each had solo performances in their halves of the evening. Only three minutes of each are available, but it's worth it.
Lane performed a new monologue written by playwright Paul Rudnick. It's the story of a theater-obsessed man self-isolating in his small apartment, as he talks about what he says are his encounters with Hugh Jackman and others.
It's not only very funny, but Nathan Lane is a total joy, and I’ve love to see the whole thing and hope it either gets released (perhaps as a fund-raiser) or that Paul Rudnick can expand it to a full evening, or at least a regular one-act that can be paired with something else..
Savion Glover's piece is very enjoyable, though from just these two clips -- admittedly not a fair comparison -- Lane's is the standout for my taste. In his work, Glover uses tap dance to "reflect on his life in the theater, while exploring what Broadway is, was, and will be."
As I’m sure you know, one of the things that’s become prominent on TV interviews during the pandemic is people choosing their backgrounds to say something about themselves or to promote something.
I don’t know if this woman being interviewed by Ali Melshi on MSNBC last night had planned this background, or it was just accident – but man, I hope she has friends who let her know to change things. It make her look like she had devil horns, which was bad enough, but also like a big stick was coming out of her head. I quickly got my phone and took a picture for posterity
Maybe the bigger question is why the director didn't say anything, since they set these up in advance. While it’s possible the director was just laser-focused on the lighting and dealing with two guests, and didn’t notice, that seems unlikely. Although there’s the evidence. But maybe he did notice, said something, but it was too late for her to find another location – though you only had to shift the laptop camera six inches in either direction, and that would have helped.
As I watched, I couldn’t believe it. Surely she would shift her body just as a matter of course. And I kept waiting and waiting – but no. In fact I had enough time to sit amazed at it, then realize I should take a picture, see that my phone was in another room, run to get it and fortunately the TV was on it that room, too, and take the picture. So, it was this way for about 3-5 minutes.
After years and years of hearing people offering "thoughts and prayers" after mass gun killings, and yet the mass gun killings continued, it turns out finally that they actually work!! Today, President Biden signed six executive orders to put some basic, safety initiatives in place to deal with the gun epidemic.
Thoughts and prayers, indeed! It took a while, but I'm guess some thoughts and prayers take a while to get through all the other empty, meaningless ones.
(Personally, I've always felt that if one was going to offer "thoughts and prayers" (tm) after a mass gun killing it should be to pray that there are no more mass gun killings. But this is good, too.)
Surprisingly, the specific executive orders didn't get much attention on the news, just that President Biden signed them. That's a shame they didn't get more attention, though whether or not they get public attention, they still become official acts.
For the record, here's what Joe Biden signed --
1. Directed the Department of Justice to propose a rule within 30 days to reduce the problem of "ghost guns," which are firearms sold as kits and assembled at home without serial numbers.
2 . Directed the DOJ to draft a new rule within 60 days that will regulate a specific device that is placed on a pistol and used to turn it into a short-barreled rifle.3. Directed the Justice Department to develop a template for "red flag" laws for states, allowing judges to seize firearms from people who considered a threat to themselves or others.
4. Provide investments in a wide range of "evidence-based" community intervention programs on gun violence, including federal support, reimbursement, and jobs..
5. Ordered the Justice Department to put out an annual study on gun trafficking, updating a landmark 2000 report whose data states and local police used combat gun-trafficking.
6. Nominated David Chipman to be Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, a position that Republicans have blocked from being filled since 2015.
Yesterday, I posted a Zoom reunion with the cast members who made up the band The Wonders, 24 years earlier for the movie, That Thing You Do, written and directed by Tom Hanks.
This is another reunion of those same castmates -- well, three of them -- who got together in 2017 to actually perform the title song on stage. This was from "Live at The Roxy" in Hollywood on April 25th, 2017, done as part of The Goddamn Comedy Jam.
The three actors participating were --
Jonathan Schaech - Guitar
Ethan Embry - Bass Guitar
Tom Everett Scott - Drums
There's only one downside to all this. It's that the onstage host participates, as well, as lead singer despite the fact that a) the group's actual lead singer, Jonathan Schaech, is there -- and even tries at one point to take the lead, and b) the reunion is entirely about those three, not Josh Adam Meyers.
Other than that, the occasion is still fun. It just could have been more so.
Just so that you know it's not only me, the Washington Post had a positive review yesterday of the memoir that my friend Steve Fiffer co-wrote with civil rights legend C.T. Vivian. Among other things it said, which were mostly about Rev. Vivian's career, were its opening two paragraphs --
"There is good news and bad news about 'It’s in the Action: Memories of a Nonviolent Warrior,' the memoir of civil rights icon C.T. Vivian, whom the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the greatest preacher ever to live.”
"The good news is that future scholars of history and the civil rights movement, and readers who admire the contributions of those who led nonviolent change, can learn about Vivian’s works and life through his own thoughts and words. The bad news is that Vivian, who died last year, waited until a very mature age to begin writing this memoir, so he is no longer able to receive well-deserved accolades for the work he documented in this important new book."
The review by Wanda S. Lloyd later added -- "There is no disputing that Vivian waited a long time to begin 'It’s in the Action,' a concise yet well-documented volume of his work as an activist, civil rights worker, writer and preacher. Vivian’s friend, writer Steve Fiffer, who collaborated with the author and completed the book after Vivian’s death, writes admiringly in the preface that Vivian “could tell a story or tell off a racist antagonist with equal poetry.”"
So, I just want it know that while I'm biased, that doesn't mean I'm wrong...
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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