Since it's Halloween, this is of course the perfect day for this sketch from Burr Tillstrom and the beloved Kukla, Fran and Ollie.
Here is Beulah Witch, who learns at the last minute that there are no men coming to her group's dance that afternoon, and so it's up to her to rectify things -- although as she notes, she really doesn't do spells much anymore (although she did get her doctoral thesis in it). And it's only fitting that it all leads to her serenading herself with "That Old Black Magic."
I told this story five years ago (almost to the day, but definitely to the occasion), but it bears repeating. My favorite Halloween memory came about 20 years ago. And it involved a Staples office supply store. No, really.
In the late afternoon, I parked in the lot of my local West L.A. Staples and headed towards the building. And coming outside at that moment was Ray Bradbury.
Now, mind you, that alone would have been good enough. I've always loved Ray Bradbury's writing, and the first book of his I'd read was his classic Something Wicked This Way Comes, which centers around Halloween. But then, so did many of his works. He wrote a collection of stories, The October Country. One of his creepy stories is The October Game. He wrote a short novel, The Halloween Tree. And much more.
Side note: years after I read the book, Disney Studios made a movie out of Something Wicked This Way Comes. A friend at the studio got me a copy of the screenplay and poster, both personally signed to me by Ray Bradbury. Which I still have. So, the author, book, and the connection to Halloween has long been strong with me.
And then there was Ray Bradbury. On Halloween.
I tend not to go up to celebrities. And Ray Bradbury was clearly not in the best of health, helped by a caregiver. But...this was Ray Bradbury. And it was Halloween, for goodness sake. You don't ignore that and expect to have any self-respect. It would almost like avoiding Santa on Christmas. Sure, he's busy because he's the patron saint of the holiday, but he more than almost anyone in the world is celebrating the day to its fullest. And wants the day celebrated to the fullest.
So, I walked over, simply said how much I enjoyed his writing and expected to leave it at that. But he was charming, and engaged me in conversation, helped in part by him finding out that I grew up near where he did, in Waukegan, Illinois. (Glencoe, where I'm from, is about 25 miles directly south.) I don't recall a great many specifics about the conversation, though I do remember his saying how Halloween was his favorite holiday. (Gee, no kidding!)
Which is why it came as a thrill -- and is my favorite Halloween memory -- when, as we parted, Ray Bradbury wished me, "Happy Halloween."
It's not common to have a Tweet of the Day so early in the day. But since I was out of town and preparing to leave the next morning, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley's tweet that night slipped through the cracks. My suggestion is to read it first before the reply.
Thank goodness that Twitter limits one to 280 characters because otherwise I'd still be typing...
Well, I'm back in Los Angeles, and what I find impressive is that I got the exact same greeting from the city's mayor and the state's governor upon my arrival that Trump got when he landed in Pittsburgh.
That, of course, would be none.
On the other hand, my pal Bill Goldstein did pick me up at the airport and drove me home. And while Trump had rides, too, that took him to whatever pandering faux-sympathy location he was going, I'm going to guess that they were on some payroll and got paid. Bill drove me home purely out of goodwill and kindness.
Keep in mind, too, that Pittsburgh is the city that Trump pointed to when he pulled out of the Paris Accord, and said, "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris." It should be noted that at that time, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto responsed -- “Fact: Hillary Clinton received 80% of the vote in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh stands with the world and will follow Paris agreement. As the mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris agreement for our people, our economy and future.”
There are many morals that one can pull from this, but the one I'm going with is -- People named "Bill" seem to be on the right side of goodness.
Taking off from Chicago this morning, and I'll be arriving in Los Angeles in the late afternoon. So, this will be it until later tonight. I should hopefully be able to post something this evening.
To tide you over, here's a lovely interview by Stephen Colbert with Rowan Atkinson. The highlight is when they talk about the series Blackadder which Atkinson did with Richard Curtis, who later wrote such things as Mr. Bean, Notting Hill, and Love, Actually"(which he directed) among many others. And he not only tells a story about doing a comedy bit which almost ended Curtis's comedy career when they were at Oxford, but he recreates some of it. I won't say more...
On this episode of 3rd & Fairfax, the official podcast of the Writers Guild of America, Moon Zappa interviews Drew Goddard about his new film Bad Times at the El Royale, which he wrote and directed. His other work including writing the screenplays for The Martian and World War Z, as well as writing and directing, The Cabin in the Woods.
This week's contestant is Allison Tolz from Montreal, Canada. And I didn't get either the hidden song or composer style. It's a tough one. I will say, though, that my first guess for composer style was one of the three that the contestant thought it might be -- and the correct answer has a connection to them. So, I made another guess and was right. When composer Bruce Adolph slowed the piece down, I did guess the hidden song right before host Fred Child gave a big clue -- though that doesn't count either. I'll add that, once knowing what the hidden song is, and it's very famous, I still had a very difficult time picking it out. There are a few places where you have a chance of guessing it -- but if you do, and get the composer style, too...hat's off!
I figured we'd do something a little different this week with Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!, the NPR quiz game show. Usually I just post their 'Not My Job' segment, but since this is the show's 20th anniversary, and they did something a little different, I thought it only appropriate that I do, too. What host Peter Sagal did is invite back all the different panelists they've had over the years, and have them pop up and participate throughout the broadcast. So, rather than just posting the 'Not My Job' segment, here's the entire hour-long 20th anniversary show.
Which is a lot of wait, waiting...
What I find amazing is how a president can be so cold, empty and clueless about his responsibilities, decency and basic human empathy.
So, 14 bombs were sent to prominent Americans including TWO former presidents. And 11 Jews were shot do death in their synagogue. And Trump tweets about not grasping baseball.
Then again, this is the same man who earlier in the day told a crowd -- "This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe, and frankly, something that is unimaginable.," adding that "This was an anti-Semitic act. You wouldn’t think this would be possible in this day and age.”
Which brings us back to the whole "clueless" thing. After all, when Trump said after Charlottesville that there were "many fine people" among the neo-Nazis and didn't condemn them, OF COURSE this was imaginable, if not inevitable.
Just like the 14 bombs.
And to be clear, this is all on the elected officials of the Republican Party who have enabled Trump for the past two years.
A quick side note for a moment, if I may. This to the gun manufacturer corporate-owned NRA fringe terrorist organization -- In case you were having a staff meeting and wondering, yes, it is too early for you to say that if only the people in the synagogue who had been praying and attending a baby-naming ceremony all had guns this wouldn't have happened. Mind you, if perhaps they prayed for strong gun laws and fewer available bullets...that's another matter entirely.
Okay, we return to the "thoughts and prayers" division of the Republican Party.
I wish I could say more about Trump's comments yesterday, but when I saw he decided to get to yet another rally for himself, and was talking about the police, the mean-old news media, and himself, while making up a lie about how the New York Stock Exchange opened the day after the 9/11 attacks (Reality Check: it didn't. It was closed for a full week) and blaming the synagogue -- yes, you read that right -- actually blaming the synagogue for not having armed guards (yes, this sick man did go there...), I turned it off because there is a limit to how much I can take in the name of being informed. After a while, when you fill a glass with information, it's full, and if you keep pouring in more of the same information, it will just overflow and remain just as full as before.
The good news is that we haven't yet had a tweet from Lou Dobbs wondering if the synagogue massacre was a fake shooting or a false flag that maybe the Jews did to themselves...
And again, to repeat: this is not about Trump. We know who he is. We get it. We expect this, and the horrors he brings forth. This is about the elected officials of the Republican Party who enable it.
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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