That brings us to the pre-credits opening on Colbert's show last night --
In Trump's latest "rally" the other night (and seriously, let's not normalize those -- they're sick cries for attention, since we expect presidents to address the issues facing the nation, not travel for needy self-aggrandizement), among the topics he thought were important for America to hear about was how mean the no-talent late night talk show hosts were Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen...well, no he couldn't even say Colbert's name, bur only referred to him as "that guy on CBS."
That brings us to the pre-credits opening on Colbert's show last night --
I was going to call this another "Tech Tip," but then I thought some people would skip past it, and this is one to check out and save what it offers for future reference.
I've written here from time to time about my friend Ed Bott. Ed writes a wonderful tech column, efficiently-named, "The Ed Bott Report," here on ZDNet which is deeply informative, eminently readable even for non-techies (except on occasion when he goes Full Bott, but he let's you know when that's about to happen so you can rush off to safety) and even sometimes funny. How smart and good is Ed? When people use the expression for someone knowledgeable about a topic and say, "He wrote the book on..." -- well, Ed actually really truly wrote the book on Windows 10. When Microsoft wanted the definitive guide for its initial release of Windows 10, they went to Ed. Windows 10 Inside Out for Microsoft Press. (He sent me a few chapters to read through before going to publication -- his theory was that if I could understand it, most anyone could...) You can find it here -- 4-1/2 stars, for a tech book, no less. (To give full credit, it's co-authored with two other gents, Carl Siechert and Craig Stinson. It's not that Ed couldn't have done it, I'm quite sure, but I suspect that given the voluminous nature of the project and deadlines once the coding and material was finally available to be studied, Microsoft probably wanted to be sure the book would be published before, oh, say, Windows 10, the 8th Edition was being released years later...)
Note: Ed knows far more about techie stuff, and is actually a well-rounded soul, most especially as a maven on Pink Floyd and All Things Wilco. Indeed, when we've been at that IFA tech event in Berlin and had a day off to travel -- and when Ed Bott says, "Trust me on this, Bob" (whether about sites, directions, restaurants or even how to say something in a foreign language neither of you speak), you don't debate the options but trust him. Of course, when it's about tech, and he adds, "Just do it," that's when you know before even doing it that your problem has been resolved.
Anyway, the point of all this is that Ed has a wonderful column today that, even if you don't read it (since it's really more of a collection of information than an article), you should bookmark it for later use. It's titled, "Windows 10 how-to: Ed Bott's free tech support and trouble-shooting guide." I'll let him explain it better since...well, this is tech and Ed explains all such things better. He begins by noting --
"Being a Windows expert doesn't mean you have to memorize every shortcut and secret. You just have to know where to find those details when you need them.
"That's the point of this page, where I've collected the links I regularly use to find information and download tools and utilities. These include essential information, troubleshooting tools, and download sites, as well as some of my most popular FAQ pages and tips."
Okay, just to repeat, Ed actually is a Windows expert, and has probably memorized every shortcut and secret. But for everyone else, this is just a monumentally invaluable article. Just save it for later reference, and jump here whenever you have a problem or issue. As Ed says, and it's something I've followed for years when writing my own tech effort (I hesitate to call it a "tech column" in the same article about Ed Bott...), half the battle isn't knowing everything, but knowing where to find it.
And this is a great place to start for finding things. You can find the article here.
And while you're there, do yourself an additional favor and click on the link in his byline for "The Ed Bott Report" to get all his columns and bookmark it for future reference to check out once in a while and see what he's been writing about. He's really good. Honest.
I'll keep my comments brief. I do so because if I don't significantly self-edit myself here, I'll probably keep writing for the next several hours, and this would be so long that I'd risk driving away readers from here permanently.
I'll just say two things.
First, there are many things that are absolutely legal, but we don't do them because as mature adults we know they're stupid, cruel, unnecessary, wasteful, counter-productive and more. It's perfectly legal to buy a bulldozer in order to crack open one walnut, but people simply don't do that because...well, it's because I don't have to explain "why" that makes clear why people don't do it. It's legal to stand in your front yard and spew racial epithets at random minorities who walk by, but even the most virulent racists don't generally do that. The world is full of legal actions that people don't do because being legal doesn't make them right. So, even though the Supreme Court in its heavily-conservative bias removed the injunction against Trump's third attempt at a watered-down but still-impactful travel ban against Muslim, actually putting it in operation would devastate America's standing in the world, and play directly into the late-Osama bin Laden's hands by creating a culture war, helping terrorists recruit followers. (It will also, on a purely-political level, pound the GOP. The public doesn't actually care much about Yemen and Chad, that's not going to drive Republicans to the polls -- but we see how awakened and furious so many Democrats have become over Trump immigration cruelty.)
And second, if Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the enabling Republicans didn't shred a portion of the Constitution, Merrick Garland would be a Supreme Court Justice today, and this ruling would not be in effect.
And with that, I finish. Mr. Speaker, I yield the rest of my time to Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Here are excerpts of her minority opinion to the Supreme Court ruling. She not only wrote out her opinion, in which she was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, but she took the rare step of reading it out loud.
I preface it with a comment yesterday from Nina Totenberg, longtime legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio.
"The United States of America is a Nation built upon the promise of religious liberty. Our Founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment. The Court’s decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle."
Later, she continues --
"It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a 'total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States' because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns. But this repackaging does little to cleanse Presidential Proclamation No. 9645 of the appearance of discrimination that the President’s words have created. Based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus."
Justice Sotomayor adds --
"Moreover, despite several opportunities to do so, President Trump has never disavowed any of his prior statements about Islam. Instead, he has continued to make unrelenting attack on the Muslim religion and its followers. Given President Trump’s failure to correct the reasonable perception of his apparent hostility toward the Islamic faith, it is unsurprising that the President’s lawyers have, at every step in the lower courts, failed in their attempts to launder the Proclamation of its discriminatory taint."
In her opinion, she referenced a 1944 Supreme Court case, Korematsu v. United States. This was the long-since ruling that ordered Japanese-Americans into internment camps during World War II and which was officially overturned on Tuesday. . However, Sotomayor wrote that Tuesday's decision on Trump's policy isn't that different from the Korematsu case.
"This formal repudiation of a shameful precedent is laudable and long overdue. But it does not make the majority’s decision here acceptable or right. By blindly accepting the Government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one 'gravely wrong' decision with another."
For her conclusion, it's notable that Supreme Court protocol is that when Justices deliver minority opinions, they end by saying that they "respectfully dissent." Only on those rare occasions when their disagreement is deeply fundamental do they leave out the "respectfully." She wrote --
“Our Constitution demands, and our country deserves, a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments. Because the Court’s decision today has failed in that respect, with profound regret, I dissent.”
Okay, add another to the list. I had no idea. But a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do...
During the Tony Awards a few weeks ago, they presented a scene from The Band's Visit, a show which later that night won Best Musical. (It's based on the Israeli movie, about an Egyptian police band which gets stranded for the night in a deserted town in Israel.) I was a little disappointed with the song they chose because it didn't really include much with Tony Shaloub -- all the more so since he ended up winning Leading Actor in a Musical (something he's noted in interviews is the last thing he thought would ever happen to him in his career). Shaloub doesn't have many songs in the show -- as far as I can tell, he only has one, though I believe he sings in some ensemble numbers. So, it's likely that they thought that his few songs didn't present the show as well as the number they chose instead. I understand that -- and they did at least have him in the scene throughout, who the performer is singing to, and he has a couple lines -- but it was still disappointing. The only saving grace is that the woman who did sing the song they chose, Katrina Lenk, was...well, tremendous. She gave a galvanizing performance, and it was not surprising (even though I hadn't heard of her) when she won Leading Actress in a Musical. So, I can't quibble much. She really was terrific. In fact, she was so good that -- with me not knowing her, and with her name and accent -- I thought perhaps she was an Israeli actress, but when she accepted her award, she was very clearly American. And turns out to have impressive theater credits. So, there's a lapse on my part.
Which brings us to the point of this. Last night, I got my monthly email newsletter from the beloved Northwestern University. And it highlighted the school's alumna, Katrink Lenk, winning the Tony Award as Leading Actress in a Musical for The Band's Visit! I had no idea. So, as I said, add one more to the list.
Here she is with that number at the Tonys, "Omar Sharif," opposite Tony Shaloub.
For the record, the music and lyrics for The Band's Visit are by David Yazbek, who won the Tony Award for Best Original Score.
And as a bonus, here's backstage interview after winning the Tony as Leading Actress in a Musical.
And okay, here is a bemused Tony Shaloub's interview backstage, which begins with him asking his own three questions -- "What happened? How did this happen?? And why have I not done a musical before?"
You likely have seen some this video on the news the past two days, Rep. Maxine Waters talking bluntly about dealing with the enablers of the Trump administration. This actually comes from the rally that I wrote here about going to the other day. (That's Wilshire Blvd. behind her and the 405 San Diego Freeway.)
I know her blistering comments have been a bit controversial for her bluntness -- but that should come as no shock to readers of these pages, since I described her speech as how she "gave a fire-and-brimstone speech shredding the president." So, at least there's video proof that I wasn't lying.
(The short version -- she laid out the case of the dangers of Trump and his administration, and then using that as a foundation said that GOP officials should be confronted peacefully and publicly shamed to let them know their actions are not acceptable. There's no mention in the slightest of violence, but rather just that people should use their voices. Indeed, I didn't mention her words of even peaceful confrontation in my original article, because it was such a small part of what she actually said.)
I'm not fully-decided if I agree 100% with what she says her -- though I may, and am leaning more for that -- but the larger point is that her speech went on much longer than just the minute which made the air, about another five minutes, and I have that full speech here, which you'll see was terrific in dealing specifically with the problems that Trump and Jeff Sessions and the administration has caused. That's what her fury was about.
And as a bonus just for watching -- you get to see my friend Nick Melvoin, the L.A. School Board Vice President, in the background. He's most clear coming in around the 5:25 mark. Nick is the young man in the back to Rep. Waters' right, wearing the black jacket and light blue shirt vigorously...er, sending text messages. But as you'll note, he does eventually stop. Hey, he's the VP, he's a busy guy. Sometimes, a man's got to text...
Last week, as I noted in an earlier post, James Corden took his Late, Late Show to London. While there, he did another of his Carpool Karaoke pieces...and this one will be difficult to top. There might be one or two, and even that will be open for debate. It was with Paul McCartney.
Given his car mate, they handled this version quite a bit different from all the others. And when you see the results -- and keep watching to the end (though I doubt you'll need that admonition) -- it was understandable why they did so.
What's also notable is McCartney's reaction through it all. For someone who's lived his lived in a fish bowl for 50 years, and has had more interviews and musical tributes -- and tends to seem well-prepared with most of his responses by now -- it stands out how much fun and moved and open he appears to be here.
What also stands out is the range of his fan base. Consider for a moment when you were, oh, say, 18 years old. And think back about 50 years earlier. How many music stars of that era half-a-century before who not only were still performing, touring and recording new albums. but even more to the point were people who had fans still excited to rush out to a concert they were giving, filling stadiums, let alone had masses of crowds excited just to know they were simply in the area and swarming them in public??
I don't know who all those people would have been for me, overlapping with my life from 50 years earlier when I was 18. But we're talking performers like Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker, and Jelly Roll Morton. Great as they all were, none were touring and packing them into major concert halls when I was 18. (Barely still when my mom was 18.) Most had long-since passed away. The closest may be Louis Armstrong, but even he started later and didn't release his first official album until he was over 40. And much as I love Satchmo, no, it's not really the same.
So, this is not only great fun, but sort of remarkable.
One of the results that comes when an administration outrages a good portion of the nation by separating children from their parents, creates baby detention centers and has no plan to reunite these families is that other news tends to fall through the cracks. Among the various actions the Trump administration took last week alone -- and which got little to no attention on television news and through the public -- were:
The Unites States withdrew from UN Human Rights Council, making the country only one of four nations to do so, the other three being Iran, North Korea and Eritrea. While that sounds pretty horrible (because it is), it's oddly tempered by the inclusion of Eritrea since few people know about it, and so it sounds almost adorable -- somewhat like the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, that fictional tiny nation in The Mouse That Roared. And I don't know much about it either, other than it's a fairly new African country from which 3% of its population has fled, and the Council on Foreign Relations says, "According to the UN inquiry and rights groups, the country has widespread networks of informants, coerced by the state, and those suspected of treasonous behavior are subject to arbitrary arrest, forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and torture. Individuals who run afoul of the authorities are often held in harsh conditions in makeshift prisons. Citizens face restrictions on internal movement and speech, and domestic media is controlled by the state." So, I guess it makes sense that they would have withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council -- like Iran, North Korea...and us.
A Trump executive order that repealed laws which protect the oceans from oil spills. That was because -- well, okay, you got me there. The best I can figure out is that it's because President Obama signed it into law. And perhaps because "many people say" that you can never have too much oil spilled into the ocean. At least as long as you include vinegar and spices, to make a really big salad dressing.
A Trump proposal to to consolidate the Department of Education and Department of Labor into one department. It would be called the Department of Education and the Workforce. The best I can figure is that someone in the administration had finished reading a heavily-redacted version of the Collected Novels of Charles Dickens and so completely missed the point, thinking that books like Oliver Twist, Hard Times, Nicholas Nickleby and the death of Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop were meant to support the concept of child abuse. But then, maybe that explains this immigration policy, as well.
And this was all last week alone. Some administrations have to run the full eight years to do that much damage to the nation. And it doesn't even take into consideration the story that the National Enquirer gave Trump lawyer Michael Cohen first-look at certain articles before publishing them, or the separation of immigrating children from their parents, or the news of an upcoming summit between Trump and Vladimir Putin (what could possibly go wrong there?!), or continuing Old News like the ongoing investigation by the Special Counsel, or the lawsuit into hush money paid to a porn actress.
Just another week in Trump World.
Best wishes surviving the upcoming one. Happily there's plenty of support if you need to take a breather.
As long as I briefly mentioned Avenue Q and Stephanie D'Abruzzo the other day here when writing about the Randy Rainbow parody -- as well as earlier her appearing at the Northwestern gala of alumni -- I thought it proper to follow-up with this.
I liked Avenue Q, though didn't love it (although I thought the second act was much stronger) The songs are enjoyable, some are very funny -- the cheery "It Sucks to Be Me" and upbeat "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" are the most notable, along with a few others -- though I don't find the score consistently at that level. But one song stood out so far for me surrounded by an ocean of light-hearted, over-the-top comic numbers, that also includes "The Internet is for Porn" and "If I Was Gay." It's not only the sole totally-serious number in the show, but it's also gorgeous, and indeed would be a gem in any context.
The song is "There's a Fine, Fine Line," sung by the puppet character Kate Monster, performed by Stephanie D'Abruzzo. (The characters in the show are a mix of humans and puppets, with their puppeteers in clear view) Basically, the quick set-up for the song is that one of the other puppet characters who Kate has been dating has told her that the time he's spent with her is keeping him from pursuing what he came to New York to do, and they break up.
The video taken during a live production is shaky, and starts out quite-awful, but 80% of it turns out to be good, so it's worth it for the gem of a performance. There's another live video of the song from another production with a another actress, and the video quality is terrific -- but the performance, while good, pales to Ms. D'Abruzzo, who got a Tony nomination for her role.
From the archives. This week's contestant is Kristen Zoetewey from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I had an odd result from the contest. When it finished, I had no clue. And yet I should have guessed the composer style because I like the composer a a lot. But no. As for the hidden song, I also had no clue -- though about the 3-minute mark there was a passage that sounded familiar, but I just couldn't place it. And even pianist Bruce Adolphe acknowledged that this was a difficult one, well-hidden. As he was talking though, it clicked in -- and before he even got to playing the piece again, I guessed it.
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
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