The guest contestant on this week's 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is novelist Jennifer Weiner. The particularly-fun part of the interview with host Peter Sagal is when she discusses telling her mother that her first novel (which was semi-autobiographical) was being published and that its title was Good in Bed. The quiz is also one of the funniest they've had for a very specific, odd reason.
On this week's Al Franken podcast, the show has a political background but is really pretty much entertainment based. The guest is David Mandel, the showrunner of the TV series, Veep. Here's what the Franken folks want to tell you about the episode --
"Veep show runner, David Mandel discusses Veep and what the hell it is that a show runner does. Why Trump’s election made a dark, cynical show even darker and more cynical. Also, how David owes his entire career to Al – a career that includes writing and producing for Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Veep, all shows that Al had nothing to do with. In his opening monologue Al calls the 2020 presidential election “the second most important election in our lifetime.” The most important being...
Just because sometimes you just need a break and charm, here is a duet of the song "Being Green" with Kermit the Frog and Julie Andrews. Actually, it's mostly her, but they do get a bit of overlap in.
This says that it's from The Muppet Show, but I'm pretty sure it's from her TV special with the Muppets.
This from Manu Raju of CNN --
As a result of the military being stationed there, 16 people were arrested near the U.S.-Mexican border yesterday for charges over human trafficking of undocumented migrants and drugs. And an additional eight people were detained for questioning about unrelated drug offenses. One may thing that this is a major PR coup for the Trump administration. But -- and I say this as objectively as possible -- the story is not what you think.
The 16 people arrested were U.S. Marines.
So were the additional eight people detailed. That's 24 Marines in all.
The arrests took place at Camp Pendleton and were the result of a separate investigation of two other Marines who had been arrested earlier this month over human trafficking charges.
So, if you're keeping score, that's 26 Marines.
No word yet if they will be kept in cages without beds, shoes, and toothbrushes, no permission to use showers, and forced to drink water for toilets. In fairness, their situation is admittedly different from the migrants and refugees being held under those conditions since, unlike those refugees, the Marines have actually been charged with crimes.
Here's more on the story in a Reuters article for those who have a hard time believing -- even in this time of lunacy and the unbelievable -- that this could be real.
Let's jump back to another of those amusing Basic Skills "50 People Try to..." videos from Epicurious. Last time it was 50 people trying to open a bottle of wine. Today, we have 50 People Try to Slice an Avocado.
I love this response from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). Read the initial tweet first that was sent by the government agency
Well, I was absolutely right about one thing -- Robert Mueller was taciturn...
I heard a LOT of analysis about Mueller's day testifying, and the best of it, I thought, was that which recognized there was a great deal going on at different levels. The worst were those that said it was on thing or another.
It's difficult not to say that the morning sessions was borderline disastrous. I set the alarm for 6:30 AM in Los Angeles, and even though half-asleep could tell within 90 seconds that things weren't going to be good all day. "That's not within my purview" and "The report speaks for itself" made that absolutely clear.
But the thing is, I thought it was disastrous for a reason different from what most analysts said. Yes, it was problematic because he wasn't getting across damning points as one would wish. But for me, the far-bigger issue was the massive imbalance it created. Democrats were limited to reading passages from the Mueller Report themselves, which came across as much more partisan than if Mueller quoted them, and Mueller would say, "Yes." On the other hand, I think Republicans soon realized that they could say pretty much anything they wanted -- lie even, and outrageously -- and Mueller wouldn't tell them off. At most he'd say, "I hear your question" or "That's not within my purview."
Then we had the afternoon session. And while not remotely great, it had many extremely good parts and overall was respectably okay. Hardly high praise, but not at all disastrous. (A friend asked why I thought Mueller was so much better in the afternoon. My sense is that as problematic as obstruction is, to Mueller the fact of Russia cyber-attacking the United States, and the Trump campaign encouraging it was a national disaster and significantly more of a serious problem.)
And those "extremely good parts" were very important and stood out -- Mueller saying that most of Trump's written responses didn't appear to be forthright. And not only agreeing that accepting assistance from a foreign power during an election was immoral, but him adding "...and criminal." And mentioning that there was still an FBI investigation going on. And more.
But in between all this, I realized something else, and wrote about it on social media. It's that the people who watched the hearing already had their minds made up, regardless of what side they were on. But most of the country -- who were either undecided about all this, or who didn't know much about the Mueller Report, didn't read it, didn't follow the details -- didn't watch. Which of course was why they were undecided about all this. And so they -- the ones who didn't know and didn't watch -- would get their news from the highlights. So, they'd miss all the disappointing parts of "Yes" and "That's not in my purview" and occasional stumblings -- and instead get what was actually newsworthy. All they'd see were the clips of Mueller saying that Trump wasn't forthright. And that the actions of the campaign were not just immoral, but criminal. And that the FBI investigation was still ongoing. And the other damning high points.
In addition, think many analysis are reaction to Mueller's testimony being so disappointing because either they had read the Mueller Report (as did I) or they read a great deal about it, followed it closely on the news and knew most of the salient points, so these people, the analysts were disappointed that there was "no new information" revealed. (Even FBI Director Christopher Wray yesterday acknowledged that even HE hadn't read the report - although obviously he knew all the details.) But probably 80% of the country likely had little clue of what was actually in the Report, so the highlights were, in fact, "news" to them. “Ohh, the Report said that???!” “Ohhh, Trump did that??!!”
To be clear, none of this makes it a Great Day. It was disappointing and even a bit disturbing that it was so low key to the point of tedium. And that gave Republicans the ability to push their narrative early in the day's news. But by the end of the day, I think the "watching the highlights" factor kicked in, and that will be important in the long run.
Also, in fairness to Mueller, I thought that he spoke with such a limited focus because he was giving those guidelines by the "Attorney General." While I wish he made that clear in his testimony, it seemed to be a substantive factor to me.
I’m not defending Mueller’s performance, it was not good, just opening up the perspective a bit wider than I think the view of many is.
In the end, this is not the end. Nor even close. And I have the sense that the focus on Russia attacking the U.S. and the Trump campaign openly accepting the help and encouraging it, while not necessary "illegal," made it more clear to many of reprehensible, immoral and -- in some cases, as Mueller said -- criminal that it will push the case for those wanting impeachment hearings.
But there were so many perspectives through the day flying all over the place that I don't honestly have a clue what actually will happen next. But having read the Mueller Report, the crimes and reprehensible immorality are there, they're not going away, and it is a very leaky ship without any serious artisan who can patch it.
Here's another "Best of..." from The Graham Norton Show folks. This one they call "Celebrities Singing and Dancing." Though there's nothing earth-shattering about it, it's actually pretty good explanation of at least part of the reason I like the program on BBC America, since this shows it's freewheeling side that you don't see on most (or any) talk shows.
As a bonus, this is the full sequence from which you see the snippet above of Marion Cotillard recreating a moment of her Oscar-winning role, lip-syncing as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose. The snippet above doesn't do the sequence justice, which I saw live. On the show, the segment began naturally enough, as host Norton asked her about the training to prepare for the role and particularly for the lip-syncing, which was particularly remarkable. (One of the guests, Frank Skinner, even interrupts her to say that until that moment when they were discussing it, he had no idea she had been lip-syncing and thought it had really been her.) And then the conversation slid into Norton asking a favor. Now, it's possible that it was set-up beforehand, but it seems not. I was going to say that if she's faking her angst then she's a really good actress -- but then, she did win an Oscar for the role, so, yes, she's a really good actress. But I'm going to throw my coinage down on betting that she's thrown for a loop by the request. In any event, she does an absolutely wonderful job, again, at a moment's notice.
(And fun too are watching the other actors watching her in admiration -- because, as she notes, there's a physicality to it, and she really throws her whole self into it -- that's James McAvoy to her left, but most especially Michael Fassbender to her right.)
We interrupt this website to spend the day watching Robert Mueller testify. It started at 5:30 in the morning and that's much too early to get up, even I have my limits -- and besides, anything important will be on the news.
I don't suspect there will be any Great New Revelations during the course of the day, but then no one has any idea how taciturn Mueller will get, and how he'll respond if challenged by Republicans. My guess is "taciturn" for most of the day, but the reality is that there don't need to be any "Great New Revelations." All it really needs is to get out to the public what's actually already in the Mueller Report, which nearly all of America has not read, which most people probably know next to nothing about -- including all those masses of Republicans who truly believe Trump when he says the Report completely vindicated him with no collusion, no obstruction -- yet the Report says completely otherwise.
In place of our interruption, we have a new song parody from Randy Rainbow, "Suckers," based on the song "Sucker" from the Jonas Brothers. There's a segment about 3-and-a-half minutes in that's especially wonderfully done, and I'll leave it at that.
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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