If you haven't been able to listen to the "Not My Job" segments posted here most weeks from the NPR quiz show, Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!, here's a good way to catch up. This is their periodic "Best of" recap of several episodes over recent months. Featured here are Scott Kelly, Edie Falco, Austan Goolsbee, and Governor John Kasich, who talk with and are quizzed by host Peter Sagal.
We interrupt the Holiday Music Fest currently in progress so that we my bring you this special posting. The Holiday Music Fest will return soon. This morning, though, we honor the State of Illinois on the 200th anniversary of it being admitted to the Union. Huzzah!
In honor of it as the true birthplace of America, or at least me, we do have music, so those of you who miss the latest installment of holiday songs at least have something to hold on to. It's the state song, "Illinois," quite an aptly-named title, I must say. It's also often know as "By Thy Rivers Gently Flowing," the song's first line, which adds a bit of grace to something otherwise more perfunctory. What it also tends to do is get people to sing the song (on those rare occasions when they do sing it) as if it was a religious hymn. Or, often, a dirge. For all I know, that's what they songwriters intended, rather than something to rouse the spirits -- or not. Hymn-like does make it lovely, albeit interminable. I have a feeling that it's all because of the word "Thy." When you put "Thy" in a song, people are going to sing it like a hymn. And if you give people a hymn and make it long-enough, there's a reasonable chance they'll turn it into a dirge.
(Not to worry, if you stick around, we'll rectify that in a moment...)
For now, here is that state song, with words by C.H. Chamberlain and music by Archibald Johnston, written sometime in the 1880s and adopted officially in 1925. (While one source says it was written in the 1890s, that seems unlikely since the composer died in 1887.) Although this version below is long and slow, it actually is a particularly-beautiful arrangement and lovingly sung. For reasons unknown, though, they acknowledge changing the order of the verses. Long and slow and out-of-order (and admittedly lovely) as it is, I'm including this video here for one reason only: because they put together an especially-good montage of images of the State of Illinois to run with it.
Why on earth this video says, "Illinois, Worth Fighting For," I have zero idea. I wasn't aware it was under attack. Not when the song was written, not in the intervening years and not now. (Unless you count by people from Wisconsin driving down on tractors wearing their cheeseheads. But that usually isn't legally considered an act of war.) But for those of you who want to sing along, I posted the lyrics below -- which I've matched to fit this group's inexplicably-changed order. And remember, after this at the end, I have another video that's worth sticking around for.
By thy rivers gently flowing, Illinois, Illinois,
O’er the prairies verdant growing, Illinois, Illinois,
Comes an echo o’er the breeze.
Rustling through the leafy trees,
And its mellow tones are these, Illinois, Illinois,
And its mellow tones are these, Illinois.
Not without thy wondrous story, Illinois, Illinois,
Can be writ the nation’s glory, Illinois, Illinois,
On the record of thy years, Abraham Lincoln’s name appears,
Grant and Logan, and our tears, Illinois, Illinois,
Grant and Logan, and our tears, Illinois.
Eighteen-eighteen saw your founding, Illinois, Illinois,
And your progress is unbounding, Illinois, Illinois,
Pioneers once cleared the lands,
Where great industries now stand.
World renown you do command, Illinois, Illinois,
World renown you do command, Illinois.
Let us pledge in final chorus, Illinois, Illinois
That in struggles still before us, Illinois, Illinois
To our heroes we’ll be true,
As their vision we pursue.
In abiding love for you, Illinois, Illinois.
In abiding love for you, Illinois.
And now the good news! After all the long, slow and hymn-and-dirge like versions of the song, here is a significantly shorter, 1-minute orchestral, rousing version played like a state's anthem should be played!
The guest contestant on this week's 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is writer-director Peter Farrelly, who most recently directed the wonderful movie, Green Book -- and who with his brother Bobby co-wrote and co-directed such movies as There's Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber and Me, Myself and Irene. His interview with host Peter Sagal is quite entertaining -- funny and self-effacing.
Without giving the question or answer, my favorite here is the way he expressed and explained why he was leaning to answer one way to the first question.
If it slipped through the cracks, and you missed it (okay, I admit it -- it slipped through the cracks here at Elisberg Industry, and I missed it), here is the full 85-minute broadcast of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize honoring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It's often very funny and always endearing, though I've enjoyed some other broadcasts more. Usually, they show a lot of clips of the person's work being honored, but there was a limit of that here. Mostly it was funny people telling funny and endearing stories about Ms. Louis-Dreyfus.
By the way, a friend sent me an email about the show, and said if I hadn't seen it I'd like her acceptance speech because she mentions going to Northwestern. I then watched the full show online. I have a strong feeling that my friend only saw the acceptance speech and not the entire broadcast. Because my immediate reaction as I watched was -- "Mentioned" being an alum? For the first 10 minutes, it’s like they’re doing a Northwestern tribute! The first speaker is Stephen Colbert who they introduce as “a fellow Northwestern alum,” he then talks about NU at length, after that they have another performer classmate on film talking about her at the school, and then they show a minute of footage of her performing there! All that was missing was the marching band…
For those who are running around with things to do and much as you might want to watch the entire show, but can't fit the full hour-and-a-half into your schedule, here is Julia Louis-Dreyfus's acceptance speech alone.
(She gives terrific acceptance speeches, as you may recall from her hilarious BAFTA speech, and her wonderful Emmy-winning speech with Veep co-star Tony Hale joining her onstage that I've posted here previously.)
A short while back, I posted the full 20th anniversary broadcast of the NPR quiz game show, Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!, rather than just post the 'Not My Job' segment, which is what I usually do. I realized, though, that some people may like the segment but didn't want to listen to the full show. So, here's that 'Not My Job' just for them! And...well, you and everyone.
For the 20th anniversary, they did something a little bit different, having two guests, rather than just one. And so host Peter Sagal brought on two NPR stalwarts, Robert Siegel and Nina Totenberg, who play a fun joint-game with a combined twists as the subject matter.
We'll start off the holiday with something from The West Wing. The series would periodically do a a Thanksgiving-themed episode, and this is one of the memorable sequences from one of those, an episode entitled "Indian in the Lobby." (If it seems to jump in time a bit, that's because it's not a single scene per se, since this is a collection of snippets that the YouTube poster edited together.)
Happy Thanksgiving from Joe Bethersenton to you and yours...
This is a thorougly enjoyable video of Stephen Sondheim's Kennedy Center Honors 25 years ago, back in 1993. You'll note Jason Alexander below -- as a young actor starting out, he had been in the original cast of Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along and joins Bernadette Peters and Scott Bakula to sing "Old Friends" from the show. Also noteworthy is Angela Lansbury here singing Sondheim's classic song for Desiree, "Send in the Clowns," from A Little Night Music. Though she has appeared in several Sondheim musicals -- Sweeney Todd and Anyone Can Whistle, as well as Gypsy, from which Sondheim wrote the lyrics to Jule Styne's music -- 14 years after this performance, she played Desiree's mother, Madame Armfeldt at the age of 85 in the 2009 Broadway revival.
This was the year that Johnny Carson and Sir Georg Solti received Kennedy Center Honors, and you'll see glimpses of them. But what leaps out from the entire 20-minute tribute is how intensely-attentive and joyfully appreciative Sondheim is, perhaps more than any other recipient I've seen.
Today's guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR game quiz show is singer Sarah Brightman. Her interview with host Peter Sagal ranges between charming and oddly off-beat. Plus, you get to hear a bit from the first single she released, a disco number about starship troopers. What can top that?!
Let's call this Melina 2: The Sequel. Yesterday, I posted a video of Greek actress Melina Mercouri recreating her star-making role from the movie Never on Sunday in the Broadway musical adaptation, Illya Darling. I figured I'd follow up with her appearance as the Mystery Guest on What's My Line?
This took place in 1962, two years after Never on Sunday was released, and right before her latest movie Phaedra opened. A couple of things worth noting here. One is that Victor Borge is one of the panelists, and he seems to be having a pretty good and funny time. The other is a definite oddity -- someone wanders on camera and begins to make some pronouncement. Host John Daly stays calm through it all, but it must have been bizarre for the panelists who are all in blindfold. And Mercouri, being a guest and also from another country (and culture), seems a bit uncertain if this is all normal for the show. I also have to assume that this was live TV, since they kept on going.
Since Barbra Streisand is out promoting her new album and doing a Carpool Karaoke on James Corden's show, I figure that I might as well go along with popular culture here. This is her appearance as the Mystery Guest on What's My Line? very near the beginning of her career in 1964. There's a funny, albeit odd moment with panelist Gore Vidal which you should catch. If you don't want to watch the entire show, her segment appears around the 15:15 mark.
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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