Today is my dad's 92nd birthday. It was a nice, low-key gala. A few relatives came over, along with a couple of friends, and so there were two cakes. But all the candles got blown out fine.
My dad was a doctor for over 50 years. He loved being a doctor. Absolutely loved it. I remember when he had quadruple bipass surgery, he said that (other than weekends and normal vacations), it was the first time he'd missed a day of work in 39 years.
There are many people who can say that they always knew what they wanted to do when they grew up. My father is one of the few who can actually prove it. And not just prove it, but do so in a way that shows that everything wonderful he did with his life is merely something that he said he would always do, and he lived up to his word.
You see, when my father was only 10 years old, he wrote a poem. His father (my grandfather) was so impressed with it, that he had it printed up in a little pamphlet that he gave out. I still have a copy. The words stand the core of his whole life.
On the front, it says – “Written by Edward I. Elisberg. June – 1931.”
Open up the pamphlet, and this is what you get inside:
I Want to Be a Doctor
By Edward I Elisberg
I want to be a Doctor
to get over runnin’ away
From all the dreadful accidents
that can happen in a day
To give when someone’s in distress
A kind and helping hand
To help the sick and wounded
stay upon this land
To assure when hope is dying
that everything’s alright
That all is going splendid
he’ll be better in a night.
I don’t want to be a doctor
on account of pretty nurses
I don’t want to be a doctor
Just because of rich men’s purse’s
And the thought from my mind is far
To be a doctor just for the D-R
I want to be a Doctor
to keep all people livin’
I want to be a Doctor
so I’m always always givin’
But the real reason from the beginning
in my mind has stood
I want to be a Doctor
To do the world some good.
Edward I. Elisberg
I am now up to a whopping 9 followers on Twitter! Woo-hoo. This includes two people (!) who don't actually know me.
I think that using the clever nickname of "RobertElisberg" is what has made me so easy to find.
Nine followers. I feel like the lead duck at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.
Yes, I know it's only been a few days. And from little acorns grow big oaks. That's no doubt why I feel like a nut.
Despite the fame of The Muppet Show, Kermit, Miss Piggy, all the Sesame Street characters, and even the early Muppet appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, I think the first Muppet to actually become a national figure was Rowlf the dog.
In the early 1960s, long before he became a sausage icon, Jimmy Dean was a country music star who'd had a huge hit song, "Big Bad John." In 1963, he got his own TV series that ran until 1966. One of the most popular segments were the charming chats that Jimmy Dean would have with this floppy dog. Occasionally, Rowlf would bang out a tune on a piano.
(Rowlf -- who was voiced by Muppet creator Jim Henson -- actually made his appearance the year before, in a TV commercial for Purina Dog Chow.)
That history is what makes this video a treat. It comes from what I think is a Disney convention, called D23. And it features the first "famous" Muppet not only performing with the iconic Muppet, Kermit -- but together they sing what has become the iconic Muppet song, "The Rainbow Connection."
Making this fun, too, is a wonderful ad lib thrown in by Rowlf when he screws up...
(It all starts after a brief commercial. If for some reason it doesn't load -- I had a slight problem with the software -- click here instead.)
Back before the last Republican convention, Ann Coulter, Repubican analyst extraordinaire, gushed over Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and begged and pleaded with him to run for president, because otherwise Mitt Romney would get the nomination and "We'll lose."
In just one year, the love affair is over. Totally over. Gone from breathlessly writing his last name after yours over and over with little hearts to dot the "i," to keying his car.
Ann Coulter's love for Chris Christie is so over that if she was Taylor Swift we'd be hearing a song about it next week.
This man who she oh-so-dearly wanted to be President of the United States, leader of the free world, is now "dead to me," she wrote in a Twit. (Yes, I know it's a "tweet," but sometimes reality must transcend accepted convention.)
Again, to be clear, it's not that she doesn't like something he did and is slamming him for it. It's not that she's putting him the Coulter Doghouse to see if he can prove himself again and work his way out. It's not that she wants to explain and debate the issue to perhaps convince him to act otherwise. It's that he is "Dead to me." Dead. Dead, dead, dead. Over, gone, done, goodbye. Bury him deep into the ground. Walk away, it's over forever. He's dead.
BFF has gone to WFF. He's dead. And dead is forever.
And what is it that Christie did to Ann Coulter that has caused her love to wither? How did he break her very little heart and crush her "Dear Diary" fantasies? Well, he...
Actually, he didn't do anything. She's made about what someone did. No, seriously. Several weeks ago, Gov. Christie appointed Jeff Chiesa to temporary fill in the Senate seat vacated by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. And Sen. Chiesa cast a vote that Ann Coulter doesn't like. And so Chris Christie is "dead" to her. Dead.
Never mind, of course, that in appointing Jeff Chiesa what Mr. Christie was perhaps trying to do was firm the foundation that will help him get re-elected as Gov. and build a base which can help him get the Republican nomination for president and help him win the presidency -- which just a year ago dear Ms. Coulter was praying for -- win, for the very reason that Ann Coulter believed he actually had a chance to win: that he could appeal to moderates and not just the far right.
Never mind that. Never mind, too, that as far as I can tell, Ms. Coulter didn't slam Chris Christie at the time he appointed Jeff Chiesa, so seemingly she was fine with the appointment. No, Ann Coulter's love is now "Dead to me." For someone else taking an action.
And by the way, what was this vote that Sen. Chiesa made that so destroyed the love-sick soul of Ann Coulter? It was for the immigration bill, that would help give minorities a chance to become part of melting pot that Americans are so proud of. A bill, it's important to know, that passed the U.S. Senate.
But actually, this story is really about something else, other than just showing how small, petty, petulant and clueless Ann Coulter can be, even for Ann Coulter. It's that if anything shows the problems the intransigent, small-minded Republican Party faces, this is it.
After all, it's one thing to dislike someone's actions or policies. It's another when you become so inflexible that anything you don't approve of becomes a de facto "death sentence." And something even further when it's not even a person's direction action. When a party becomes that unbending, that brittle, that close-minded, only ever able to see one, one, one, one side to anything, it becomes impossible for that party to grow and develop and become more inclusive, and puts its future at risk. But worse, when that party has fallen into disarray because of that very inflexibility and has driven away so many former members to the degree that party leaders themselves have acknowledged in a position report -- the Growth and Opportunity Project -- that they must work to bring blacks and Hispanics and other minorities into the party, then thoughtlessly, mindlessly, inflexibly giving the "Death Sentence" to someone attempting to do just that, attempting to do exactly what the GOP itself says it must do, is instead helping give the Death Sentence to that very party instead.
When someone's job is to analyze and that analysis so profoundly counterproductive to the group of people she's hoping to influence, at some point you have to wonder when that group will wise up and stop listening to her? But then, I've wondered that for years.
Hey, what can I say? Ann Coulter, you go girl.
We all have our bugaboos. One of mine is expert analysts who really don't know their subject, who talk because they're glib, but rarely take a step back to think and research and understand.
Before the Chicago Cubs broadcast this evening, I put WGN radio on, and a couple of their Sports Central hosts, Glen Kozlowski and Jim Memolo, were chatting away. One of them brought up the reliever James Russell and said that he'd heard there was interest in him from others teams, but he'd also heard that the Cubs wouldn't be interested in trading him.
The other guy was incredulous. Why wouldn't the Cubs be interested in trading James Russell? If they traded Sean Marshall, a better and more experienced pitcher, surely they'd trade Russell. Neither announcer could figure out why not. Maybe it's because the Cubs needed at least a few good pitchers on the team, that was the best they could come up with.
There are actually two answers. One is that maybe the Cubs would trade him, and what the guy "heard" wasn't accurate. (They did at least mention that possibility.)
The other reason is...well, the real reason.
Two years ago, the Cubs got a new team president, Theo Epstein. At the time, he made very clear -- and it's been made clear since -- that the ballclub has a plan which is building for the future. Three to five years. They traded Sean Marshall two years ago because, good as he was -- the team didn't need him. As a relief pitcher, it didn't matter how many games he saved for the team. The Cubs were bad, and they weren't going to get into the playoffs, let alone compete for the World Series. So, you trade Sean Marshall, who does you no good, and get a young prospect or a player who can fill a greater need. Then, if four years, maybe you can get Marshall back, if he's a free agent.
But two years later -- today -- you're now just a year or two from your "three to five year" plan. So, if you now have a good, young reliever...you keep him, because you may need him next year, or in two years.
That's why. And it wasn't rocket science to know that.
I'm not suggesting that everyone would think that through, although it's not hard to, if you follow the Cubs, or baseball in general. But when it's your job, when you're The Sports Guys Who Have a Sports Talk Show on the radio station...yes, you should be able to grasp that easily.
That's not just true for sports analysts, but any analyst or commentator. If it's your job to think...then, do so. It's amazing what you can accomplish.
Several weeks ago, as part of a longer article, I posted a 2-1/2-minute video here of the wonderful Jessie Mueller singing "Ice Cream" from the musical, She Loves Me, from when the acclaimed Writers Theatre put on the show a couple years ago in Glencoe, Illinois.
For those who don't know She Loves Me. it's a charming, lovely, incredibly tuneful musical by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, who wrote Fiddler on the Roof, Fiorello!, The Apple Tree and others. You probably do know the story, even if you don't think so -- it's based on a classic movie, The Shop Around the Corner, that starred James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan...which, in turn, was the basis of the film, You've Got Mail, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. (All are based on a Hungarian play by Miklos Laszlo. You probably don't know that.)
She Loves Me has had a couple of successful runs on Broadway. Never hugely long ones, but respectable. Its initial run was 302 performances. One of things that's so wonderful about the lush, lyrical score -- other than that it has so many songs that the original cast album was released with two LPs -- is that every member of the cast is given a solo, show-stopping number.
So...if you saw that earlier 2-1/2 minutes of the show, and liked it, how would you now enjoy seeing -- the entire musical?!
Back in 1978, PBS ran a Great Performances episode of She Love Me, based on a stage production that had played on London's West End. It's a slightly-abreviated version, though not by a whole lot. It runs about two hours, so maybe 15-20 minutes or so have been cut. Otherwise, it's the whole strudel.
As Georg sings at the very beginning of the title song -- Well, well, well, well, well. Will wonders never cease?!
When you have the time, pull up a comfortable chair and revel in this wonderful show. The image is a little dated, but reasonably crisp.
Here's the cast, character name first --
Georg Nowack: Robin Ellis
Amalia Balash: Gemma Craven
Ladislov Sipos: Peter Sallis
Steven Kodaly: David Kernan
Ilona Ritter: Diane Langton
Mr. Maraczek: Derek Smith
Arpad Laszlo: Nigel Rathbone
And here's the show. If you have a cell phone, please turn it off for the consideration of others --
Over on Twitter on Thursday, Laura Ingraham asked what I'm sure was her version of a touching, heartfelt, emotional, gotcha question:
I think it's pretty obvious what the answer is, so no response from Sen. Davis is really necessary. But to play the game, I'm sure that Ms. Davis would answer "none of the children on the playground should have been aborted." After all, what's at issue is not children on a playground, but zygotes and fetuses.
And of course, an equally easy question to ask in return is, "Laua Ingraham: Which kids that you see on the playground do you actually seriously care about in the slightest, most especially if that playground is in a poor, black neighborhood?"
But the larger point is how utterly disingenuous and smarmy her idiotic question is. After all, even in as far right a state as Texas is, a state so radically far-right it's trying to pass one of the most draconian anti-abortion bills in the country -- even that state bill, SB 5, allowed for abortions up to 20 weeks. So, if this is the game she wants to play, then the question to Laura Ingraham or Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) or any Republican in the Texas State Senate is -- Any of you: "Since you are supporting a bill that permits abortions up to 20 weeks, which kids that you see on that playground shouldn't be there?"
Ms. Ingraham, you might as well go first. Gov. Perry can wait a moment. I'm sure in Texas, it's ladies first. (Except in matters that concern their own bodies.) And all your other supporters of the bill, you just mingle among yourselves and line up after. Let Laura Ingraham answer first which of those children she'd like to see aborted up to 20 weeks. And yes, it's as stupid a question to ask her (and them) as it is for her to ask.
Then again, it would be just as easy to flip Ms. Ingraham's question about the sacredness of life another way. Because as heart-endearing as the thought of a little child is, children do grow up day-by-day and the adults they become are from that very same child who thankfully is running and jumping on the playground that Laura Ingraham wants to huge oh-so close in her arms. So, Laura Ingraham: Since life is so sacred to you, even to the degree of unborn life, which young men and women that you see playing in the prison yard with death sentences shouldn't be executed?
There are reasonable debating points on the issue of abortion. But when people like the Laura Ingrahams of the world throw in such inanity, it shows that they don't have a clue what they are. They aren't debating pro-choice or pro-life, they're just trying to be smarmy.
Hours later, I was still being blocked getting into my Twitter account. So, I had a thought -- I generally use Firefox as my browser, so I launched Internet Explorer to see if I could get into my account there. And I could. So, that told me the problem was connected to Firefox in some way. And when that's the case, there's usually one leading culprit. Cookies are being blocked.
I checked my settings, and sure enough, Cookies for twitter.com were being blocked. I changed the settings and...bingo! I'm in!
Now, I will definitely take blame for not thinking of Cookies first -- though I suspect a whole lot of people don't think of Cookies first. But I should have. But...how hard would it be for Twitter to put on a page that someone has clicked to get help about not being able to log in that say -- "Check to make sure your freaking Cookies aren't being blocked"??!!!!
Though I suspect they would use "freaking."
But the important thing. Mission Accomplished!
The unimportant thing: I can now tweet again.
But the cool thing is that I am all the way up to 7 people following me! I like to consider them my minions. We can have club meetings and everything.
For anyone else who wishes to join in, the
The comeuppance edition.
Have you ever gotten a letter from lawyer that tried to bully you? Or know someone who got one? Or just had someone throw their weight around in a really bothersome way at your expense?
Jake Freivald lives in a town in New Jersey and put up his own, little appreciative website for it. And then one day, he got a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer, Richard Trenk, the Township Attorney. One of those, "let me push you around a bit because I can and want to frighten you" things. And that, unfortunately, should have put an ed to Mr. Freivald's little effort.
Except that he didn't let it end. He either had a friend who was a lawyer, or spoke with a lawyer and was as pissed off as Jake Freivald. And this attorney, Stephen B. Kaplitt, took the case pro bono and wrote back. Let's just say he wasn't frightened.
"Obviously [your letter] was sent in jest, and the world can certainly use more legal satire. Bravo, Mr. Trenk!"
He is just getting warmed up. It's quite wonderful, and you can see the whole letter here.
Here in Chicago now. It's always an adventure trying to get everything set up for the stay. After enough visits, I've started to get it down to a science, though today I just hit a new glitch. Since I'm new to Twitter, I had to log in on my notebook computer, which I tend to use more for traveling, and not much in Los Angeles. But Twitter is not wanting me to log in, apparently, making me feel a bit twittish.
I put in my name and password, but no go. I click, "Forget password?" -- but rather than sending me a temp password to re-set, it takes me to to "Sign up for Twitter" page. When I click on Support, and go to the "Re-set your password" page...it, too, sends me to that sign-up page, and doesn't send anything. This time, I figured that maybe they're actually asking me to sign-up again, so I tried -- but nope, it wouldn't accept that since I was trying to sign up with information they already have for another member: me. And then another page explains what to do, which is what I've been doing, which doesn't work, asks if this information helped, and when I clicked "No," I had my favorite moment of the whole effort -- an error message pops up to say that there was a problem and the message couldn't be sent!
There was a problem? Really? No kidding...
They do have a contact page, at least. But it's a mailing address. No email. Ha!
I do suspect there might be some larger glitch that's causing this issue, and eventually I should be able to get access to my account. So I'll try again later.
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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