The other day, I posted here the utterly endearing ending of the movie All of Me with Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin joyously dancing
When my friend Myles Berkowitz followed that up by sending me a clip from the movie Pennies from Heaven, I was reminded how many things Steve Martin danced in -- and all the more, how well he did so. Rare for any actor, but incredibly uncommon for a comedian. I suspect that when most people think of Steve Martin and dancing, it's likely his "Happy Feet" bit from his old stand-up act. But all this isn't that. This is serious (even if at times comic...) dancing.
Pennies From Heaven stands out on several levels. Myles noted how incredibly gutsy Steve Martin was for what is basically going up against Fred Astaire. (And that's not meant metaphorically, but literally -- watch the video, you'll see). And it stands out, too, for absolutely terrific dancing. But further, as I recall, the whole movie was gutsy for him since the character is such an awful guy.
Mainly, though, this with Bernadette Peters is actually, really good dancing.
But it isn't just those two dances. Because not only is there a third, but it's probably the most famous of his dances. (And again, how odd to think of Steve Martin for his dancing.) There's a good chance most of you have seen it – with Gilda Radner on Saturday Night Live, and is all the more impressive for it being live.
But if you haven't seen it, we add it below to his resume. And it's so worth watching again.
Continuing our policy of embedding the best of the campaign videos against Trump and this GOP enablers, here's the latest gem from the Lincoln Project. It's about Trump's tweet suggesting that perhaps the general election be delayed.
The reality is that Trump can’t delay the election, and he’s already backed off his “delay” tweet after even Republicans in Congress were so appalled that they pushed back. (And boy, how horrific does a Trump tweet have to be that even Republicans in Congress get appalled enough by it to push back?!!) But the ad is still great because it reminds people of what Trump suggested he wanted, even if he can’t do it. It helps paint Trump for who he is and does so in wonderful historic terms. The only thing I wished is they’d included “We voted during the Spanish Flu pandemic.” But still, it was terrific.
As you may be aware, two days before he passed away, Rep. John Lewis wrote an op-ed for the New York Times under the condition that it be held and not printed until the day of his funeral.
If you didn't get a chance to read it, Lawrence O'Donnell's show The Last Word did something wonderful. They had someone read the op-ed -- indeed, Mr. Lewis's last words -- and producers edited some moving footage to it. But all the better, who did they get to read the piece? They couldn't have gone much higher. Morgan Freeman.
If you haven't seen the video, we have it below.
I suspect that with the long timeout of no Trump COVID press conference after his bleach debacle, his staff felt it was safe to finally start again. Hey, what could he do worse than THAT??!!
"Okay, who's next? You, with the AP."
"Sir, when you endorsed the woman pushing Demon Sperm and Alien DNA..."
"That's a nasty question. Next person."
"Yes, I'd like to follow-up on what she was asking. When you said the woman pushing Alien DNA and Demon Sperm was a wonderful doctor, what was the standard of medical care you were using for..."
"Next. No questions about Alien DNA and Demon Sperm. You, in the second row.."
"Yes, sir, I want to know if you also believe in dreamworld pregnancies, just like the women you endorsed who believes in Alien DNA and Demon Sperm?"
"I said no questions about Alien DNA and Demon...well, you know."
"It wasn't a question about Alien DNA and Demon Sperm, it was a question about dreamworld pregnancies. I only mentioned Alien DNA and Demon Sperm to help identify who.."
"You're a very, very nasty person. Is there someone here from OAN? Anyone? Ah, good, yes, what's you're question? And you're very beautiful."
"Thank you, your Grace. By the way, I just want to say upfront that we at OAN fully believe in Demon Sperm and Alien DNA, and have for a long time, so you can rest assured we have no questions about it,"
"Good people. Real news."
"My question, sir, is do you know what medical school Stella Immanuel got her degree from?"
"Who is that?"
"The doctor you were praising, the one you said was so smart and wonderful."
"I thought that was Ronny Jackson.
"No, I'm referring to the doctor who believes in Alien DNA and Demon Sper..."
"Oh. Yes. Many people say she went to a very fine medical school. You can check with them. Anyone else?"
"Sir, I can help. Our records show that Stella Immanuel got her medical degree from the University of Calabar in Nigeria. My question is -- "
"One of the top medicals schools in Nigeria. Many people say even in the world, I hear. I don't know, but it's what I hear."
My question is -- isn't Nigeria one of the 'sh*thole countries' you once talked about?"
"No, I believe you actually said that, but I have a follow-up. Do you know whether or not she's married to a Nigerian Prince?"
"You're a very nasty person."
"But I thought that what you were asking for. It wasn't about Alien DNA and Demon Sperm and dreamworld pregnancies."
"Very nasty. Does anyone here have a question that isn't about this wonderful, very fine doctor, or about Alien DN...and all that? You, in the back."
"Yes, I have a totally separate question."
"Good. Go ahead."
"I want to know about bleach."
There are still a couple of Josh Gad's Still Reunited Apart programs left, and today we have him getting back together the cast and filmmakers of Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
The show starts with Matthew Broderick as his only guest, but then adds one at a time, as the surprises pop in. There aren't too many behind-the-scene stories passed along, but more than most of the shows is a lot of the cast recreating scenes from the original film.
There's also a nice tribute to the late writer-director John Hughes. And one word of warning -- stick around to the very end.
On Tuesday, a photograph surfaced of notes Joe Biden was holding for his speech, and it showed a few bullet points about Kamala Harris. This got pundits analyzing the notes for a hint on her Vice Presidential chances, especially since the points weren't especially strong or glowing, though in fairness all were positive.
Two things: first, you can't make a case for what Joe Biden is thinking based on small notes. After all, they're, well...just notes, bullet points, quick reminders to him of larger things to talk about. And second, the analysis missed the far-larger point. And that is -- Kamala Harris was the only potential VP candidate Joe Biden had notes about!
By the way, I'm not suggesting that that's evidence of who Biden is going to select. Just that Kamala Harris being the only potential VP candidates Joe Biden had notes to talk about is the only thing that's substantive about the notes.
I do happen to think that Sen. Harris is the likely choice, but I could make a case for any of the names who have been mentioned. Incidentally, the newest person who has been added to the mythical Short List is Rep. Karen Bass. I mention this because she's my congresswoman. I've been to several of her town halls, and participated in her "phone town halls," and she's very bright and talented. My sense is that she'd be a good VP or even great in the cabinet, though if she became president, while I think she'd be good, she's more "measured" than I most care for in a president.
But I'd be fine with her as the VP nominee. Indeed, I'd be fine with any of the people who have been suspected as being on the Short List. I think they all have impressive strengths...and each some downsides. But then, I think the same of Joe Biden. And most every politician. And human.
There point here, though, is not which person on the Short List would be the best, especially considering that all the candidates are very talented. The point is...it doesn't matter who Joe Biden picks. And it doesn't "not matter" because of who Joe Biden is or because of who these candidates are. It's because historically when people vote in a presidential election -- they vote for the person leading the ticket. Only. The VP candidate generally makes almost no difference at all, if not no difference. In fact, the only time I've read where the VP candidate made a difference was Sarah Palin. And that wasn't because of what she added to the ticket, but because her utter incompetence and cluelessness scared people and drove them away from voting for John McCain.
It is presumed that a vice presidential candidate might possibly help the ticket win the state where that person is from. And that may be the case. May. But at best, that may be the only benefit. May. Because mainly, when people vote for president, they vote for the president.
And I think that's even more pronounced this year, no matter how talented the candidates are. No matter if the nominee is a women. And no matter if the nominee is most likely the first black woman on a national ticket. I even think that if Biden even selected a white male (he won't), no matter show surprised and outraged many people would be, they would still vote for Joe Biden, even if angrily. The driving point in this election is -- do you want Trump re-elected or not?
During the Democratic primaries, we all heard countless people say, "I don't care who the party's nominee is. If it is a fire hydrant, I would crawl on glass to vote for it." Even during the pandemic, without knowing the VP nominee, people have reiterated that they would risk their life to stand in line for hours to vote for Joe Biden to ensure that Trump doesn't get re-elected. I can't even begin to imagine that whoever is selected as the VP nominee would cause people to say, "Ohhh, okay, that's different, now I'm not voting for Biden."
If people were willing to vote for the Democratic nominee if it was a fire hydrant, they will be absolutely happy for the Biden ticket if the Vice Presidential candidate is a human, let alone a talented woman.
I do think the VP selection for Biden makes a slight difference for Republicans willing to leave the party and vote for Biden. But even there, if the choice was so problematic for them, I don't think most would still vote for Trump, they'd probably just not vote for president. But that person would have to be seriously an issue for them. And none of the people on the Short List are even remotely that problematic. Susan Rice might bother some Republicans for her ties to President Obama -- but Barack Obama probably looks a whole lot better to them now than when they hated him. And Trump is still the alternative to Biden. And Stacey Abrams' lack of experience might be an issue for some Republicans considering voting for a Democrat -- but she's smart and eloquent. And the alternative to Biden is still Trump.
So, while the press likes to make a horse race of the selection and rate people and give odds, not only do they actually have no idea, but it also doesn't matter. It doesn't matter who they guess because all the names are good. It doesn't matter who they guess because they don't know. It doesn't matter who they guess because whoever gets picked will have little to no impact on whether people vote for Joe Biden. And mostly, it doesn't matter who they guess because if you just wait a few days, Joe Biden will tell us next week who he has, in fact, chosen.
I'm very curious who Joe Biden will pick. I think all on the Short List are good. I think some are better. But what I think most of all is --
Who Joe Biden picks as his vice presidential running mate doesn't matter. Because in the end it comes down to only one question for the American voting public: do you want Trump to be president of the United States for four years or Joe Biden?
If just for the concept here alone, I would love this video.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has four "Dannys" in it -- Daniel Armstrong, bass; Danny Lai, viola; Daniel Katz, cello, and Daniel Gingrich, associate principal horn.
Bassist Armstrong wrote a duet arrangement of "Londonderry Air" (also and better-known as "Danny Boy") and performed both parts himself. But then he realized that all the CSO Danny Boys should participate, so he did a further jazz-influenced arrangement and they all got together for a Virtual Performance during sheltering-at-home.
Longtime baseball card company Topps just released a special run of a card with Dr. Anthony Fauci throwing out the Opening Day first pitch. The pitch itself might not have been what he wanted -- but the card had the Biggest Run in Topps 82-year History! 51,512 cards.
No word on a Trump card.
No, I didn't watch much -- almost none -- of William Barr's testimony yesterday. But I admire though who did and reported on it. I have my limits and spending hours watching the Attorney General of the United States lie to the House of Representatives for a few hours does not make it over my otherwise very low standards.
I did put the coverage on for a while, but kept the sound off. When it looked like there was good questioning, I did turn up the volume, but it was rare. Mainly, I knew that there would be analysis throughout the breaks and later in the day, with clips illustrating events. But seriously, why would I put myself through watching the top law official in the country say to the nation's representatives things like, no, he never reads any of Trump's tweets? His "answer" implies that he also doesn't watch or read the news, since those are plastered with Trump's tweets every day.-- not just quoting them, but generally showing graphics of them. This is something I wish one of the people questioning him would have brought up. Similarly, I would have liked someone to bring up that, while AG Barr said to Rep. Eric Swalwell with a straight, albeit dour face, that he's never seen a particular, notable tweet by Trump about Roger Stone, whose prison sentence he just commuted -- I would have liked Rep. Swalwell (who otherwise did a terrific job questioning) or someone to point out to Barr that the Trump/Stone tweet was so noteworthy that...it was included in the Mueller Report that Barr did, allegedly read!
The general reaction seems to be that Democrats didn't do an especially good job questioning Barr in the morning session. In fact, someone tweeted that they thought the questioning was so bad they believed Trump's approval numbers would go up -- and this received several hundred likes and retweets.
Let me state that there is is no way on earth that Trump's approval will go up because of poor Democratic questioning. Trump's approval has plummeted because of mismanaging the pandemic, 152,306 deaths, recommending taking bleach, 54 million new Americans on unemployment, mishandling the racial divide and Black Lives Matter, using paramilitary forces in U.S. cities on American citizens and 80% of the public saying that they think the country is going in the wrong direction -- and more. They are not going to say, "Gee, y'know, I think that Democrats did a lousy job questioning William Barr, so I'm okay with Trump now." And that's even if all that many people even watched.
I mean, seriously, folks, get a grip.
Happily, from what little I saw live and from analysis later, it seems like Democrats did a much more solid, aggressive and pointed job questioning AG Barr. So, that ought to counteract all those people on the verge of switching the support to Trump...
By the way, one of the lines of questioning was the added paramilitary focus that AG Barr has given to Black Lives Matter protesters compared to other protests, like those anti-shelter protests wanting to open business in Michigan that called for the death and beheading of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The Attorney General tried to claim that he was totally unaware of this. When the congressman questioning him was stunned and couldn't believe this, Barr tried to explain it away by saying "There were a lot of protests." Yeah, right -- but then, a) there are a whole lot of Black Lives Matter protests, and b) none of the other "open up business" protests involved calling for the death of a governor.
All of which calls to mind Trump's ranting about needing these paramilitary forces attacking Americans in order to defend federal property. Like this tweet this week --
We end with this reminder as a public service, something which has pretty much slipped under the wire in all of Trump's cries like this above, to protect federal property and federal statues.
For the record: This is the same man who pardoned the Hammonds who were convicted of arson on federal property.
Back in June, I wrote here about watching Old TV Westerns and seeing all the now-major actors, directors and writers. Well, today we return to our spurs head back out to another tale from the “Old TV Western” front.
On the show Wanted: Dead or Alive, I checked a day ahead and they had an episode scheduled for Monday morning that looked like it might be fun, so I set the DVR. It was about a reporter from the East who wanted to follow around Josh Randall (played by Steve McQueen) to be the subject of a story he was writing on bounty hunters, and the episode was titled, “The Twain Shall Meet.” So, of course I figured it was about Mark Twain. But unfortunately it wasn’t – odd title then, and I thought a missed opportunity. (Earlier this year, Have Gun, Will Travel had an episode I watched where Paladin helps Phileas Fogg on his race to get back to England. The end credits even gave credit to the Jules Verne novel.)
So, not being as interested, I watched most of the show, but fast-forwarded through a lot of it. At one point, there was a scene in a bar that caught my interest, so I stopped to watch. The reporter is talking to a young saloon girl who’s spinning a tall tale about herself for his article. It ends up having an impact on the plot, but mainly her voice seemed sort of familiar, and then they cut to a close-up of her. I kept peering close and then it hit me – it was a young Mary Tyler Moore. (I later checked, she was 23-year-olds, a year before “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”)
And then all the better, when the end credits came around, it turned out that the episode was directed by Richard Donner. For those not up on your film history, Donner directed such works as all four Lethal Weapon movies, the Bill Murray comedy Scrooged, Conspiracy Theory, Superman, The Goonies, and appropriately for today's whimsy, the feature-film version of Maverick, among many others.
And all the more fun, here is a clip of the 3-minute scene with Mary Tyler Moore. The image runs a touch slow for some odd reason, but is totally watchable.
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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