Okay, thanks to the magic of the Scheduling feature of this sit, I'm able to jump back in here as I sit in San Diego waiting for the Holiday Bowl to start with Northwestern. I posted this last year, and thought it deserved a repeat. It's is a charming and exceedingly low-key video that Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt made, singing "What are You Doing New Year’s Eve?" Not-shockingly, I figured that it was reasonably appropriate tonight. How low-key are the production values? At the end, Ms. Deschanel leans over to click off the camera.
On the site, she also posts the following explanation --
"I have known Joe Gordon-Levitt for going on 12 years. We first met in the summer of 2000 while doing a tiny movie called Manic, where we bonded over a mutual appreciation for Harry Nilsson and Nina Simone and I have been lucky enough to call him one of my dearest friends ever since. When we did 500 Days of Summer 8 years later, we spent every lunch hour dancing to Marvin Gaye in the hair and make up trailer; we had loads of fun. I hope to do a thousand more movies with him because he's simply the best. But in the meantime, we made a little New Year's duet for all of you! The original by Nancy Wilson. ENJOY!"
For the sake of accuracy, she's wrong about a couple of things. For starters, it is not "by" Nancy Wilson. Yes, I know she (like many singers) is referring to who recorded it, but who a song is "by" is personal bugaboo of mine. And it's especially notable here because this particular song was written by the great Broadway composer Frank Loesser (who wrote Guys & Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, among others), though it wasn't for any show or movie, just a standalone song.
She's also wrong that the original was recorded by Nancy Wilson, missing by almost two decades. The original recording was performed by Margaret Whiting in 1947. (Wilson didn't record it until 1965, though she had a big hit with it, reaching #17 on the Billboard charts.)
But those are details. The performance itself is the lovely point of it all --
I'm heading off in about a half-hour to drive down to San Diego to watch the beloved Northwestern play the despised and hated Utah in the Holiday Bowl.
The game is schedule to start at 4 PM, which you can all watch on Fox Sports, though don't worry there won't be a test. We're getting there early, however, because we also reserved a spot at the N Zone Tailgate Party beforehand. Packed with fun and frivolity, no doubt, but also food. The important Three F's.
Though we plan to drive back after the game (yes, I know, a busy, long day, but spending New Year's Eve in a San Diego hotel is really not my idea of the way to fly), I don't expect to be writing anything else for the rest of the day -- but not to worry, I've scheduled something that's already written to auto-post in the early afternoon for New Year's Eve.. And we'll be back here on the site tomorrow. So, have a wonderful New Year and a very Happy Holiday...Bowl.
From the archives. The contestant for this week's Piano Puzzler is Genevieve Wilde from Quakertown, Pennsylvania. I could hear the tune, and almost clearly, but just couldn't get it. It's definitely known, and I got it later when pianist Bruce Adolphe brought the music out more, but it was tough, even though known and clear. The composer style seemed to be from an era that I overlap a lot of people, so I took a guess. I was surprised that I was somewhat close, but didn't get that either.
The guests on this week's 3rd & Fairfax, the official podcast of the Writers Guild of America are actors Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano -- who wrote the upcoming film, Wildlife, based on the novel by Richard Ford. Previously, Kazan -- whose parents are both acclaimed screenwriters, Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord -- wrote the screenplay for the movie, Ruby Sparks. This is Dano's first screenplay, and he directs the film, as well.
This week, the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! was broadcast from Orlando, Florida -- and so for the occasion, host Peter Sagal had as his guest contestant Aaron Gordon, forward for the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team. The easiest and simplest way to describe their interview is that it's endearingly charming.
And so we come to the last episode of "Bag Man," Rachel Maddow's wonderful seven-part podcast about the known and (until now) unknown history surrounding the investigation and resignation of former Vice President Spiro Agnew.
If you've missed any of the previous episodes, you can click on the links below to catch up --
Episode 7: You Can't Fire Me -- I Quit
Disgraced Vice President Spiro T. Agnew officially becomes a private citizen and addresses the nation one last time... as a convicted criminal. Agnew continues his attacks on the press and the prosecutors right to the end. But his sudden resignation leaves questions-- unanswered-- that echo 45 years later. Can a President or Vice President actually be criminally indicted while in office? And if not, what sort of pressure can be brought to bear... to force them out?
As I've written, I like The Graham Norton Show on BBC America. (I have a feeling that James Corden loosely based his show's interview structure on what Norton does. He's added his own twists, and many of them are terrific. But the core of Norton's show, which is the conversation, is leaps and bounds better -- but then, I find it better than pretty much most of the shows.)
Anyway, this is a wonderful segment from what I believe is an upcoming episode in the U.S. The guests are actors from Mary Poppins Returns -- Emily Blunt, Lin Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer and, I believe, Ben Whishaw. This has nothing to do with the film, though. I won't say that half the fun is Emily Blunt's reaction -- because what she's reacting to is so good and deserving of her response, but it's fun. Actually, the whole thing is fun.
Though the move went well, there still has been a bit to do to get things proper and ready, as you can imagine. So, although I've been able to focus on writing and work to a reasonable degree, I've nonetheless been a bit distracted to dive in fully, properly. Besides which, it's still the holidays. And besides which, being the holidays and still dealing with the move, I don't have complete spirit yet to deal with Trump full blown.
So, instead, here's a piece from 60 Minutes Australia that's a reworking of a wonderful segment that was originally done by the Mother Ship here on CBS. It's about something called "Superior Autobiographical Memory," and it's quite fascinating.
In the past, the James Corden show has done fun, elaborate sketches with the host and an actor zipping through the movies of the guest's career. This is a bit of a change on that -- with Emily Blunt and Lin Manuel Miranda (who star in Mary Poppins Returns), the three race through excerpts of 22 musicals in 12 minutes. And they toss in a couple of fun twists along the way.
I think it's very good that Trump visited the troops in Iraq. I just think he should have done it two years ago. Or last year. Or any time before now. But it's at least good that he did it. What isn't good is anyone making a big deal out of him doing what is supposed to be done and that all other presidents did since the Iraq War began.
But yes, it's good that he's there.
What's not good is lying to the troops about them getting pay raises for the first time in ten years, when the truth is that they've gotten one every year for almost the past 30 years. (One has to figure they know that and know they were lied to.)
What's also not good is posting a video of his official Twitter account that revealed a picture of him with covert U.S. Navy SEAL Team Five deployed there, putting lives at risk.
Also not good is turning his troop visit into a campaign rally.
Not good too is coming to Iraq and not meeting with any Iraqi officials.
And not good is being cavalier about the government being shut down and not concerned when it will re-open so that people can actually get paid, just so he can get his big, beautiful all. Or artistic slat structure. Or beaded curtain. Or whatever it is now - that Mexico was supposed to pay for. And which he's not going to get.
Not good too is not a single word from Trump about there now being a second immigrant child who died in U.S. custody.
And as a bonus Not Good from the Trump family is that although there is a White House directive that no one is to take a vacation while the government is shut down, Ivanka and Jared Kushner were seen ignoring this and leaving on vacation.
Or to put it another way, we can let Charlie Sykes, a well-regarded radio host and contributing editor of The Weekly Standard -- and a regular contributor to MSNBC -- have his say on MSNBC's Hardball last night.
"I wish he had done it earlier. I wish they did not have to shame him into doing it. But after a weekend of being alone in the White House, being petty and petulant...Unfortunately, at this moment where you could have presidential grace and leadership on display, he chose to be petty and petulant as well. I mean, standing in front of troops describing America's commitment as being "suckers" is really deeply offensive when you think about it. Not only did he lie to the troops and politicize the event -- lie to the troops about the salary increases -- but to describe American commitments as being suckers. I mean, you just step back and reflect on the crass transactionalism of a President of the United States who would imply that men and women who have served their country in the Middle East, perhaps given their lives, were suckers. And I mean, this is the tone deafness that he has. So to your point, yes, I think there are a lot of Americans who are more than willing to draw down, but he way it is being done: the betrayal of our allies, the lack of a process, the lack of consultation with the military, the lack of respect for somebody like General James Mattis, and that performance today. ...Yes, the pictures are wonderful, and maybe that's all that people will take away from it, but I think it was an unfortunate event on top of a series of unfortunate events"
But yes, it's good that Trump finally went to visit the troops in Iraq after two years, because he was forced to.
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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