And now an End of the Year song that's far more traditional.
This 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 --
Quite a year. Ta-ta.
“20/20 vision” has forever taken on new meaning.
We have a couple of end of the year songs, which couldn't have come soon enough. And start with this one that is especially appreciate, most especially it's opening five seconds -- "So Long, Dearie."
Ben Sasse (R-NE) has an excellent and long statement on Facebook that slams "Republican" charges of voter fraud, and it's appreciated. It deserves praise, and good too that he has occasionally been critical of Trump. Know, as well, that this lunacy he describes at length didn't just pop up and come from nowhere, but it's what the GOP in Congress has been building too for four years.
You can read the statement here.
Republicans in the Senate had their chance to convict Trump of impeachment, but except for Mitt Romney they all voted to give him a pass. ALL. They wouldn't even allow evidence!
For all the good moments a few GOP Senators did have -- and again, good for them, including Sasse -- the Republican members of Congress in their entirety overall enabled Trump for four years and are all complicit.
"Dad, you're driving much too fast!!!" is a good thing to say at times on a cross-country road trip, but when he's driving too fast the whole way, at a certain point those in the car have to get him to pull over so you can take the keys away.
I was one day off. I check the COVID stats every day on a website called World-o-meter. I thought we might reach 4,000 deaths on Tuesday. However, the day ended at “only” around 3,700.
Yesterday, thought, we passed 4,000 deaths today from COVID.
4,199 Americans died yesterday.
(We started the day with 346,579 deaths. It's ended up 350,778.)
On 9/11, there were 2,977 deaths. We are now topping that number almost every day during this holiday spike. And we haven't even really hit the full-blown spike.
And Trump, of course, is silent, playing golf. As President Elect Joe Biden fills in the vacuum.
The Kennedy Center Honors are usually broadcast around this time, but they've been delayed until the Spring because this year they...oh, you can figure it out.
So, to fill in the gap at least part of the way, here is the 1993 tribute to Johnny Carson. It's fairly low-key compared to most, but pretty funny. Here it is, in three parts. (The first video begins with the start of the broadcast. The tribute itself begins around the 5:20 mark.)
The other day, I posted the following on social media --
"Unlike some, I'm *NOT* "pleased" that Trump finally signed the COVID-19 emergency relief bill. I'm livid that it took him this long -- and until after Christmas putting truly desperate Americans through hell -- to do what any sane, normal human would have done immediately."
I got a reply from an old friend who later became a rabbi. (For the record, no, this is not my friend Jack Moline who I've often referred to here, and who is on our Board of Directors at Elisberg Industries.) I only mention that my friend is a rabbi, since he addresses some spiritual issues. He wrote --
"I don't know what the cutoff point is for how and when someone can be redeemed, but DJT roared past it years ago. There is absolutely nothing he can or could do to be or become a hero at this point. NOTHING."
My reply was that "This is never good when coming from a rabbi..." To which I added -- "Somewhat similarly, I almost sent a tweet yesterday about how Marley's Ghost was trying to get three ghosts to contact Trump to help redeem him, but no one wanted to do it because there was no point. But I decided not to do so because -- well, there was no point. But maybe I will, now that I've typed it here..."
Alan clarified his earlier comment, not wanting to be misunderstood --
"I should probably add that redemption at the level we're talking about here would not be offered by humankind. This, as I said and as I believe, is beyond our human capacity to achieve. Redemption, in such a case, would have to be between DJT and his Creator. And I would not want to be 'in the room where it happened.'"
Which in the end brings us to --
"Donald, have a seat. So, you know that, like, when I went to create a llama, the first one came out a giraffe. I just got the neck waaay wrong. And the first version of a mouse was the elephant. The whole size-and-nose ratio didn't work out AT ALL. Well, when it got around to mankind, I was trying to make luggage, and what happened got all messed up -- long story -- and you were the result. Now, much as I'm sure you'd like to be 'redeemed,' I know that even you can see that that's just not going to happen. It's just totally screwed up behind fixing. There's no place for a zipper, for starters. And you don't come close to meeting TSA standards. But don't worry, you're not getting sent 'downstairs,' if you know what I mean. It's not that you don't belong there, but I just don't want to make Hell even worse. So, instead, you get to go to Angola. At first, I was thinking Puerto Rico, but they've been through enough. And I figured that there was a nice symmetry having you live in what you consider a sh*thole country, though it's really quite nice. In some ways. And to show you that I *am* benevolent and loving, you get to go with a relative. That's your second cousin, they Samsonite Solyte Expandable Carry-on with Spinner Wheels. Bon voyage!"
Okay, so that part of Oscar Wilde's famous phrase which people quote is only half of what he says. He goes on a bit longer than that and it's actually a put down. The full line is 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness." But given that this is Tom Hanks who is doing the impersonating, I think we can accept it here and just go with the "known part" of the quote.
It turns out that when Tom Hanks tells stories on talk shows, he likes to dive into character and bring the tales to life. (Not all of these are celebrity impersonations, and some aren’t even impersonations, but he certainly does go all-in all the time. As he does here, for 17 minutes.) I was hoping this collection would include his joyful impersonation of Ron Howard, who he has worked with a lot – and, oh, yes, it does!
Some people put together a website for a Trump Library and, without an ounce of hyperbole, it’s utterly magnificent for the detail and work that went into it. The meticulous craft is stunning – mainly the sections on Exhibits, the Hall of Enablers, and Grift Shop – but even down to throwaway links at the bottom of the page for normal things like “Info/Press” and “FAQ” and “Hotel/Dining” as well as the related venues of the “Covid Memorial” and “Alt-Right Auditorium.”
It’s not just that there’s a page for each of these things, but the whole thing is designed like a real museum. And beautifully designed. And extensive, almost too much to make your way through. The Donations page, which I thought would be very funny, is actually the only serious thing I found with links for donating to liberal causes, including Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
But it’s the details that are so remarkable. And sometimes to subtle that you occasionally need a closer look to spot the joke. For instead, my eyes skirted past the Admissions section initially, but itt's only when I crossed by it a third time that I noticed –
Adults (Citizens): $25
Adults (Seniors): $10
Adults (Immigrants): $50
Children & Students: free
For the longest time I had no idea who made this. I still don't exactly, but I burrowed around and found some clues in the FAQ, and it turns out that the people behind it are an architectural firm in New York City. But they don't give their name. However, if one is interested in doing business with them, there is a link to follow-up with them. Beyond their scathing sense of humor, they clearly know how to design...
There's much too much here to go through it all at one sitting. But at least do yourself a favor to check it out and see that they put together and spend at least a couple minutes wandering through and admiring the craft. Even if you just go to the home page and do nothing but let the screen shots change, it will be worth it.
You can find the "Trump Library" here.
I came across this the other week until after the Holiday Music Fest. It's not just that I discovered such a special performance, but I never even knew about this event in 1977 -- nor did friends from New York who are Broadway mavens. It’s a shame there’s no video, but just at least having the audio of this one song and the photo of the moment is wonderful. It was a one-night only concert with Mary Martin and Ethel Merman – which apparently sold out so fast they did a second night.
This one song, though, must have been a highlight, if not the highlight -- after all, Mary Martin originated the role in London, and Ethel Merman was the final actress to play the role on Broadway. It’s them singing “Hello, Dolly!” And even just being audio, there are some funny, wonderful things in it. Indeed, Ethel Merman's first line is delivered with such style that's she's able to draw huge laughs from just three words that aren't even a joke. And Mary Martin has one particular joke soon after -- that will be SO clear, an allusion to one of her other famous shows -- which fits the lyrics spot-on perfectly and stops the song with cheers from the audience.
Also, some user comments suggest that voice of the head maitre d' you hear (who you speaks throughout the introduction and is also the last voice before they arrive) sounds like Cyril Ritchard…and I was pretty sure it was. And from a quick Internet check, he was indeed the host/narrator during the evening -- which is a bonus treat since, of course, he famously played 'Captain Hook' to Mary Martin's Peter Pan..
Though the two women get their solo and duet moments in the song, "Hello, Dolly!" is mostly a chorus number, so you have to use your imagination to envision the choreography and staging of the production, but since most people -- at least on these pages -- have seen what the staging does look like, since I've posted several videos of other versions, it should add to the joy. But appreciating the audience's rapturous, and building reaction is part of the fun.
If you get a pardon, that doesn't mean that the crimes you actually committed and were convicted of didn't ever happen. Nor does it mean that the crimes you really did commit but just haven't yet been charged didn't happen. It only means that you can't be imprisoned or have further punishment for having done what you did. Accepting a pardon has the equivalence of a guilty plea, and you still actually did what you actually did.
When you pardon as many mass murderers, remorseless felons. and witnesses who could testify against you as you possibly can, it doesn't change the outcome of the presidential election and you still really lost.
If you pardon someone and then are yourself indicted, they have no Fifth Amendment protection and must testify truthfully against you in court if called as a witness, or they could be charged with obstruction of justice.
So, okay, y'know all those conservative judges whose constitutional philosophy is based on "original intent"? It turns out that the Founding Father were not infallible. No, really.
If you cause a disastrous problem, and then later come back in to do what you should have done initially so that there wouldn't have been a problem in the first place, you don't get to claim "I saved the day. Love me!"
No matter how many votes you get in an election, if your opponent gets more votes, you lose.
If you spend four years enabling the ongoing petulant, racist, disruptive, anti-democratic and infantile behavior of your party leader, as good as it is to see you finally express great dismay at his latest petulant, racist, disruptive, anti-democratic and infantile behavior, you are still complicit.
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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