Patrick Stewart has been a longtime advocate on the subject of violence against women, and often spoken out strongly on the subject, perhaps most notably at Amnesty International.
At of all places, Comicpalooza 2013, he was asked the kind of question you don't tend to get at a convention like Comicpalooza. This is his eloquent, touching, moving answer.
If you liked Patrick Stewart before, you will likely now admire him. If you were never a particular fan, you might be giving him a second thought.
This video was posted by the woman who asked the question. Stay to the end to see what she's wearing, which adds a heartfelt turn to it all.
There's little I find defensible about Sarah Palin, the former half-term Republican governor, other than the fodder she provides for columns. It was therefore with interest that I saw the headline on the Huffington Post front Politics page which read, "Palin Rejects What?" I've gotten to the point with Palinisms that my eyes gloss over most Palin Stories, but this one seemed to have possibilities. After all, what did she reject this time? Public Education? The Law of Gravity? The Principle that all Jews aren't going to Hell?
No. She rejected -- Google Glass.
Actually, it wasn't just that she returned down putting on Google Glass, but she didn't want to put it on when offered by a complete stranger. Here's the story --
"At one point during the evening Sarah Palin arrived at the hotel and made a smooth, practiced pass through the bar shaking hands and taking photos with a long line of admirers. I stood next to her for several minutes but she wouldn't take a photo with me or wear Glass. 'What's in it for us?' asked her husband Todd, staring squarely at the camera and screen floating just above my hazy, bourbon-enhanced eyes. 'We don't know what company you're with.' When I told him I wasn't after an endorsement but was rather a journalist interested in her opinion of Glass, he icily asked me to leave."
Other than Todd Palin's crassness of asking "What's in it for us?," which does seem to be the Palin Family Motto of Public Service, I actually have to side with Team Palin on this one.
First of all, Google Glass looks sort of stupid. They make the wearer look somewhat akin to an alien machine-like Borg from Star Trek. Secondly, they didn't know that this wasn't intended as an endorsement, regardless of what he said. And besides, they also didn't know who this journalist was. So, they had every right to "reject" putting on the Google Glass.
A few years ago, I was working on a radio project with Al Gore. I'd written several short scripts for radio commentaries on environmental issues. He'd approved them all, except there was one that dealt with a new technology he was unaware of. So, at the last minute, he put that one aside, saying he didn't know enough about it personally and wanted to check it out himself. And this was for something that someone he knew had vetted. So, I have zero problem with Sarah Palin not wanting to do anything with some product she knew nothing about from someone she'd never seen before.
And for the Huffington Post to put this non-story on their front Political page is idiotic. Most especially when there are SO many actual Palin Stories. of real substance. To me, that's the point of this story -- not Sarah Palin, but that the Huffington Post put this on the home Politics page.
No, there was nothing in it for the noble Palins. But then, there was nothing in it, period.
The oft-mentioned, wonderful Nell Minow -- a world expert on All Things Corporate (and so much else, including even movie reviewing) has a terrific, short article here on the Huffington Post. It's about a four-letter word you should eliminate from your vocabulary. The word is -- "busy."
As she notes, the word "short-circuits genuine interaction" by making it so much an unthinking coverall excuse. Saying that we're so busy tends to be used on autopilot, she says, "to deflect others, not realizing that it interferes with the essential task of taking responsibility for our choices. 'Busy' is how the urgent distracts us from the important. 'Busy' is a too-easy answer and a too-lazy excuse."
I loved reading the article, since "busy" has long been a bugaboo of mine. A few years back, I was in a business relationship with some people who I'd often have to email four or fine times just to get an answer. Not just get a “good answer” – but a simple reply. Whenever I'd bring up how annoying this was, I'd get the response that “You have to be patient because I'm really busy.” I was always bothered by that for all the reasons Nell mentions so pointedly in her piece, and more. Occasionally, I'd politely ask my partners to turn the situation around. What if they asked a question and didn’t get a reply? How would they react? And how would they feel if they then had to ask the same question four times without getting a response? I asked that I be given the same courtesy that they expected for themselves. It was an uphill battle.
And it all stemmed from their being So Busy. In truth, they were very busy. But if they called or wrote the other person, they’d get an immediate response. And just writing back, “No info yet,” and then hitting “Send” takes about eight seconds.
So, yes, I loved the article. You may, too.
Pew Research recently released a study that said four out of ten households with children had a woman who was the sole or primary breadwinner.
This news didn't sit well with the guests Wednesday on Lou Dobbs's show on "Fox News." In addition to the host (who has previously spoken out angrily against such damaging abuses as St. Patrick's Day -- honestly! -- suggesting that we might as well celebrate St. Jin Tao Wow Day), the panelists Juan Williams, Erick Erickson and Doug Schoen were outraged by what apparently they see as a precursor to the end of civilization. Mr. Erickson was perhaps the most devastated by the news. "When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society, and other animals, the male typically is the dominant role."
Forgetting for a moment that Erick Erickson is not a biologist -- or perhaps a thinking, sentient human -- and clearly doesn't believe in "looking" at anything with open eyes, which would seem to be the first criteria in doing such a thing, and even allowing for people to have neanderthal opinions that don't allow for women to be accomplished and do more than cook and have babies, it doesn't appear that the panelists took into consideration changing conditions of society, like the increase of divorce that would require a woman to be the sole breadwinner. Or a weak economy (not just currently, but for many years) which has forced women back into the marketplace for two-income families.
It's just an idiotic, harmful attitude all around, and one more easy mark to spot for anyone wondering why the conservative GOP has difficulty attracting women to vote for them.
(Mind you, why they should have this deeply-backwards attitude is made all the more odd when they should remember that even the most recent standard-bearer for the Republican Party, Mitt Romney, himself acknowledged that he had binders full of women available to work.)
But the funniest and most pointed part of this whole story was when an equally-outraged (albeit from the other side of the coin) Greta Van Susteren of the same network wrote a blistering critique on her blog --
"Have these men lost their minds? (and these are my colleagues??!! oh brother... maybe I need to have a little chat with them (next thing they will have a segment to discuss eliminating women's right to vote?)"
My immediate reaction to Ms. Van Susteren was --
1. Maybe you need to have a little chat with them??!! Maybe, if you really don't want to be surrounded by these attitudes, you need to work at a different organization.
2. Seriously, this is the first time you've noted attitudes like this at "Fox News" in the corridors??!!
3. Forget the corridors, after all maybe you sit in your office all day working, but do you even watch your own network??!!
4. You think it's a quip that they'd want to have a segment on eliminating women's right to vote??!! Have you not been paying attention to "Fox News" supporting GOP efforts to block minorities from voting -- with voter ID cards, eliminating early voting, vote challenges, creating long lines to discourage voting??!!
5. Your problem begins with asking "Have these men lost their minds?", rather than acknowledging that they have.
6, Yes, these are your colleagues. And you are their colleague. You are all one. The world's perception of you is colored by its perception of them. Welcome to the club.
7, When you take a step back and see what the rest of the world not living in the far-right bubble has seen for years on "Fox News," it's probably not a great sight and pretty sickening when you're on the receiving end, is it? Welcome to the world.
8. If you were really, thoughtfully outraged by all this, you might want to consider writing more than three sentences about it.
For all the outrage, though, the good news here that transcends everything is to see Lou Dobbs in fine, ranting form. That's the Lou Dobbs we know and love. Happy St. Jin Tao Wow Day to him!
Back in January, 2001, Reba McIntire was signed to take over the role of 'Annie Oakley' in the then-running revival of Annie Get Your Gun. She only was signed for six months. By all reports, it was a remarkable performance, considered one of the best-ever, made all the more remarkable from someone who had never even appeared in a play before. (Or, as far as I recall, perhaps never had even acted before.) But as a country music star, as opposed to the traditional Broadway performer she was not only uncommonly perfect in the role, but sang the roof off the theater.
There were plans to do a TV production and memorialize the performance. But then two Broadway musicals adapted for TV were fairly unsuccessful (Bye Bye Birdie and The Music Man), and so network interest shriveled and disappeared, and the production foolishly never went forward. And the acclaimed performance was lost for the ages.
Except -- thanks to YouTube, all that is lost shall be found. There is a full video recording of Reba McIntire's renowned performance in Annie Get Your Gun.
Now, I must say here upfront that I do not like bootleg videos. At worst, I find many borderline reprehensible and all a slap in the face of copyright holders. In some cases, they take money away from the rights-holder. And this is a bootleg recording. Someone taped the performance from the balcony.
But I am not inflexible. (Nor a lawyer...) It's just that sometimes there are things that would otherwise be lost forever, and so -- wrong as it is -- I'm glad that something valuable has been preserved. Also, speaking just personally, I look at a lot of this from a scholastic level -- I write extensively about Broadway, so I find it personally important to be able to know what I'm writing about. Yes, I understand that this is stretching credibility and borderline hypocritical. But I still believe it. When I do watch bootleg videos, I tend to do so under certain self-imposed restrictions. (They're far too long to go into here and basically only of interest to me.)
And so, with that lengthy explanation, I'm going to embed part of the video here. The full performance is broken into about 15 10-minute videos. I haven't watched the whole thing (that relates to one of those self-imposed restrictions...) but I've seen enough to know that the reputation of Reba McIntire's is well-justified.
And so, I'll show you what I mean.
In segment #2, Reba McIntire sings, "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun." It's absolutely, joyously, hilariously wonderful, and that's what I've embedded it below. (But know that that's all I've embedded, not even the full segment. I've edited everything else out and got it down to run the one song only. Again, maybe this is stretching what is proper, and a salve to my conscience, but I think I've done my best to be as protective as reasonable.)
And the "as reasonable" is the operative word here, because I think this performance and particular song is simply too good to be lost to history forever. Some things deserve their place in the sun, even when that place is stretched.
How good is her performance of this song? I played it for my parents a couple years ago and -- well, you must understand that not only were they big traditionalists about such things, but they actually saw Ethel Merman on stage in the original Broadway production. One of the legendary Broadway performances ever. So, when I said to them that, at the very least, this one song was on a par with that, I was met with great skepticism (to the extent of "Are you crazy??") When it was over, though, my dad acknowledged that, well, yes, okay she was quite good (which was a huge acknowledgement for him after having made a pronouncement), and attractive, too. And my mother actually asked to see it again.
In short (well, okay, I'm well-past that at this point...), Reba McIntire just sings the bejeepers out of the song. She nails every single joke. She throws herself into it and chews up the stage with her soaring voice. And -- with all due respect to the legendary Merman -- as my dad noted, you can easily see Frank Butler falling in love with her.
I'm sorry this is bootleg. I'm thrilled it exists. It's just one song I've edited down and am posting, but seeing this one song is enough. The video quality is absolutely terrible -- but after a bit you won't care. You'll just be so glad to be able to be watching it. And know, in the end, that it's not lost to the ages. Not lost, but ...right here, below.
And they still should have made the TV production. This was Reba McIntire. People would have watched. Her fans alone almost would have made it a hit.
With summer coming, BobVila.com has a short slideshow piece on 11 cooling fans. Most seem to be there because of their design, though in many ways design is the only thing that differentiates a lot of fans. Several of those listed, though, do focus on the cooling technology.
All of this brought to mind my own favorite (and most disappointing) fan that I've come across. It's something I discovered when attending last year's IFA Berlin tech trade show. The GreenFan 2, is from a Japanese company, Balumuda. What was so wonderful about the fan is how remarkable it was at cooling. What was freaking disappointing is that it's not available in the U.S., at least at the moment.
I was so enamored with the GreenFan 2 that I stood in front of it, luxuriating in its breeze and reading the documentation on its display for (without exaggerating) about 15-20. I stood in front of it so long that I think other show visitors thought I was part of the exhibit. The vendors found me quite amusing, though appreciative, and when I wrote the company a couple months later, they remembered "the guy who was standing in front of your fan for so long."
Despite spending so much time reading about their "natural breeze" technology and asking questions, I still can't tell you precisely how it works, but it has something to do with dual layer blades and air diffusion over a flat surface... However, it delivered the coolest and quietest air I've ever come across.
I know that it's borderline pointless to write about a product you can't readily buy. But excellence should always be lauded. Besides, if anyone reading this is going to Japan -- or Korea, where's it's also sold -- it's good to know about and look into. For all I know, they'll ship one if you contact them online. Their website has a lot of information on it (in English, despite the graphic above), so that will tell you more -- for those interested in knowing more about a fan that they may not be able to get. Yet. Ah, but one day hopefully...
I like David Axelrod very much as a political adviser for Barack Obama. I have been less whelmed by him as an analyst on MSNBC. I find him bright and informative, but wildly subjective in his commentary. By contrast, Steve Schmidt, a former senior adviser to John McCain when he ran for president, is not only a very good, impressively objective analyst on MSNBC -- he may be my favorite analyst on MSNBC.
On Sunday, Bob Schieffer took the White House to task on Face the Nation on CBS, discussing the White House relationship with the media. In part, he said --
"It's reached the point that if I want to interview anyone in the administration on camera, from the lowest-level worker to a top White House official, I have to go through the White House press office. If their chosen spokesman turns out to have no direct connection to the story of the moment, as was the case when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was sent out to explain the Benghazi episode, then that's what we, and you, the taxpayer, get. And it usually isn't much."
On Tuesday, Mr. Axelrod was a guest on "Morning Joe" on MSNBC. He thought little of Schieffer's opinion.
"I do think there are real issues regarding the relationship with the media on this leak matter Certainly, as you guys have been talking about all morning, the notion of naming a journalist as a co-conspirator for receiving information is something I find disturbing. But the notion that the public should be concerned or disturbed, or that the taxpayer's being cheated because Bob can't book the guests he wants, I'm unsympathetic to that."
Host Joe Scarborough asked, "Is Bob Schieffer a whiner?"
"Don't put words in my mouth," Axelrod answered. He then added, "I think he's doing from his perspective what he needs to do, which is book more guests on his show."
And what I think is that what David Axelrod is doing is protecting the back of his former boss.
I give David Axelrod a couple of small points for saying he was disturbed by the naming of a journalist as a co-conspirator. But his comments about Bob Schieffer's criticism are too surface simplistic to be anything but empty. There are legitimate defenses he could have suggested -- saying that all administrations control access to their staff, and that there are understandable reasons for this, which he could have stated. But it is a reasonable issue that Schieffer is making that the public is ill-served when there isn't open access to necessary information. And the CBS reporter's further point that when you try to control the message too much, as the White House did with Susan Rice, it can backfire on you and have problematic consequences, not just for the public, but for you yourself. David Axelrod ignored a meaningful discussion.
I'm not suggesting that Mr. Axelrod has to even criticize Barack Obama if he really doesn't think it's deserved. Just that his defense should be more substantive and thoughtful, and not the flaccid news bite a campaign director would give.
When David Axelrod gets more used to his new job, perhaps he'll be able to step back and be more thoughtful in his commentary. After all, it's the job he signed up for and is getting paid to do. Steve Schmidt does it serioulsly impressively. But for now, he's failing.
I'm in Chicago at the moment, and that seems as good a reason as any to bring up Stephen Wade.
In the 1970s, a unique performer named Stephen Wade developed a unique theatrical act. He combined banjo playing, storytelling and percussive dancing into a stage show called Banjo Dancing. It was hugely popular in the city and ran for 13 months, which included a performance at the White House. He then took his show on the road, and ended up in Washington, D.C., where he had a longer run. That would be 10 years.
In the ensuing years, he's developed another show On the Way Home which had another successful run in Washington, won him the Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago, and toured. He's written books, essays, and as recently as 2012 released his latest album, Banjo Diaries, which got a Grammy nomination (albeit for liner notes).
I haven't heard or seen a great deal of Stephen Wade, though enough to really admire him. And this may be my favorite thing he's done, though I'm biased. It doesn't have much banjo, except as accompaniment, but rather is sort of a rhythmic poetic essay that for eight minutes grows and builds and is endearing and ultimately moving (and unique) in its heartfelt and effusive love for its subject matter. One near and dear my own heart. Chicago, from the good to the rough-hewn edges,. It's called "The Best Kept Secret in America." Something, I think, that closely describes the effusive Stephen Wade, as well.
A week ago, Carole King was awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Last night, on its In Performance from the White House, PBS broadcast the event. The first half had a number of singers performing in tribute -- they included James Taylor, Billy Joel, Gloria Estefan and Trisha Yearwood. For the second half, Carole King performed solo. (Except for a duet with James Taylor, singing...oh, you know.)
The highlight for me was Estefan, Yearwood and Emeli Sand with a wonderful girl-group performance of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?", complete with appropriate choreography. Billy Joel also had a lively rendition of "Do the Locomotion" and teamed up with James Taylor very nicely for "Crying in the Rain."
Most fun might have been seeing Carole King having the time of her life, and singing along much of the time from her front row seat. The president makes a very funny off-the-cuff remark about his mother-in-law when he gets up at the end.
Anyway, in case you missed it, for your viewing pleasure I've embedded the hour-long broadcast below. I don't know how long PBS will have it online. Sometimes there's a limited shelf-life, though that doesn't appear to be the case here, since nothing on the website is mentioned about that.
I had a chance to meet Carole King once. It was at her house, where a political fund-raising event was being held and a friend brought me as a guest. Ted Kennedy was the guest-speaker, and at one point, rather than making a speech he and his wife Vicki instead sang a funny song with parody lyrics.
At the end of the event, when most people had cleared out, about four of us (with Carole King) were chatting. She was dating a friend of mine at the time, so I'd hung around. My recollection is that she was very charming, self-effacing and totally unpretentious. The only thing I specifically remember were a couple of things about Internet chat rooms. She mentioned not being particularly Internet savvy and didn't spend much time online, but did once go to a chat room where she was the topic. She was curious about what it was like. I asked if she ever posted anything, and she said that she did once. The problem was that they wouldn't believe she was really Carole King. She said (as best as I can remember), "One person challenged me, and asked what was the color of the sweater I was wearing at some concert in, like, Cincinnati in 1992. I had absolutely no idea, but the person did. It was red. So, he didn't believe I was me," she said, laughing pretty hard. "I kept reading, and these people all knew me and the details of my life better than I did!"
She also mentioned that she read the chat room for about an hour and then realized, "I thought to myself, what am I doing?? I had just wasted an hour reading all this about myself and so I finally stopped."
And with that, on with the show --
Watch Carole King: Library of Congress Gershwin Prize Full Episode on PBS. See more from In Performance at The White House.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has just announced this morning that she will not seek re-election to Congress. She made the statement in a video on her website. This comes on the heels of barely winning her last election by just 1.2 percent, having the same opponent Jim Graves in 2014, and Mr. Graves already raising a huge amount of money. And also, investigations into campaign activities into her staff have grown. Nonetheless --
"Be assured, my decision was not in any way influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected to Congress," Bachmann said. "And rest assured, this decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff."
Whether one is assured by her assurances -- given that she doesn't explain any other reason -- is up to the individual.
My feeling, based on nothing but the above, is that she might not be concerned about losing in 2014, but she knows that it will be a tough race, made tougher by inquiries into her staff, and if she does happen to lose, it drastically lowers her profile in the country, especially for raising money. Now, however, she leaves office as a sitting member of Congress.
Who knows? The operative point is that Michele Bachmann will not be running for re-election, and so she will be able to spread her own special brand of crazy on her own. With a lessening voice and no Congressional authority. She'll still raise a lot of money, because P.T. Barnum was right, and there will always be suckers who want to give her money to Save America.
But perhaps now Ms. Bachmann and Sarah Palin can tour in a doubles act. Sort of like Roxie Hart and Thelma Kelly do at the end of the musical, Chicago...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor