This week is another Stay at Home edition of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! with no studio audience. The guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment is actress Allison Janney. Her interview with host Peter Sagal is very personable, as she talks about moving back to Ohio to help take care of her parents, and also about her film-work, notably her Oscar-winning role for I, Tanya.
This is an SGN bonus of sorts. As part of one of his earlier "Some Good News" shows, John Krasinski included a short bit with Steve Carell. However, setting all that up took much more time, and allowed for a much-longer conversation. And Krasinki released the full 10-minutes. It's entertaining, as among other things hey reminisce at length about their days on The Office, and the affection between the two is clear.
As best as I can tell, it looks like John Krasinski is going to be taking a bit of a break from putting out new "Some Good News" broadcasts. Or perhaps just his really highly-elaborate ones. But he's not ending them, since he makes clear when posting this week's that there will be more.
But if this is how a "not elaborate" SGN broadcast is, what a treat they still are. He calls this the "SGN Community Episode." Basically, today's is a collection of other people's homages to do their own version of the show, along with just a collection of great "good news" videos. And the mass of it all together is a joy
The appearances by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his brother Chris Cuomo's CNN show have generally be informative, interesting and occasionally a bizarre hoot between two brothers. Yesterday, a friend asked if I'd seen the segment, so I told me about it. I tracked it down and -- even knowing everything they'd be discussing -- it was a loopy joy. I can only imagine watching and not knowing. Seeing Andrew Cuomo struggling to remain serious as always and failing is worth it alone.
Once again, we have a Stay at Home edition of NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! The guest is cooking teacher and author Samin Nosrat, who hosts a special on Netflix about international cooking. She has a very upbeat interview with host Peter Sagal since not only is she very excited to be on the show, but she notes that she’s emotive about pretty much everything, and they amusingly talk about how she’s been dealing with cooking during home isolation.
John Krasinski has done it again. It is seriously impressive what he and his team pull off each work. (I'm certain he has others assisting him -- one person can't do this alone. And there are credits at the end of every show.)
And his "Some Good News" broadcast is another gem.
I knew it will be very hard to avoid seeing the title and screenshot of the freeze screen below, but if you can possibly avoid looking and it and find the big arrow in the middle to click (right below the picture of Krasinki at the top center, with the word "Zoom" over his head -- the star arrow is in a box with a guy in a blue shirt and baseball cap, sitting with his girlfriend), try to do so. It will make the various surprises all the more fun. If you have to look at that couple in the center to focus where to click, that's fine.
But it's wonderful even having a clue what's in store.
Although for years the celebration moved around the calendar a bit more than in the past and was therefore somewhat difficult to track down (no pun intended), today -- we are full of joy to announce -- once again is that most grand fest, National Train Day. At least it is here at Elisberg Industries, and that's good enough as a starting point. You won't find it on any calendars for any number of reasons, but the most important is that since Amtrak funding got cut back they stopped promoting it after 2016.
(And the reason for it moving around the calendar is that it was never a set day, but the Saturday closest to May 10. Why May 10, I hear you cry? Because that's the anniversary of the Golden Spike being driven in at Promontory Point, Utah, to complete the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.)
But whether or not it remains an officially promoted holiday by the government -- and isn't being celebrated here on a proper Saturday due to prior commitments, think of it as the train running behind schedule -- National Train Day (or as it was known around these parts once upon a time, but no more!, as "Let's Make Chris Dunn's Head Explode Day") is nonetheless still one of the most joyous holidays of the year.
The dining car aboard the Southwest Chief on my trip two years ago from Los Angeles to Chicago.
For our part here, we celebrate National Train Day on these pages by posting a list of the greatest train movies. These are films in which trains are absolutely central to the story. Where a train is the driving force of the tale, without which you can’t properly describe the plot.
(Think of it like the classic and beloved Santa Claus song, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Santa Claus isn't actually in the song at all. He hasn't even shown up yet. In most ways, it's about "you" and what you should do -- or better not do. But even though there's not a hint of Santa Claus even appearing in the song, without Santa Claus...there's no song.)
We're strict about this. A friend once recommended The Taking of Pelham-1-2-3, and it was strongly considered, but that was a subway train or light rail. This list is for full-bore trains, the kind that either have sleeping cars and dining cars, or could if they were hitched on. But I've added it to our Honorable Mention list this year.
I should also note that, since the list is fluid, we've added another new movie to the list of Great Train Films, a film from 2013, Snowpiercer. I saw it several years ago, but for whatever reason it slipped through the cracks, so it's time to correct that notable oversight. It's a vibrant movie. I was reminded of it for two reasons -- one, it was directed and co-written by Bong Joon Ho, the filmmaker who did last year's Best Picture-winner, Parasite. And the other is that TBS has adapted it into a TV series coming very soon. The story, like Parasite is a clash of class systems, but far-differently is about a time in the future when habitable climate has been destroyed on earth, and all of remaining mankind lives on a massive train that circles the globe, building to an insurrection.
There are two other categories: Honorable Mention is for movies which you can tell their stories without using the word "train," but they have some connection to trains -- usually a great, standout train sequence -- that makes them memorable. And a few years I added a new category of Special Mention, for works that don't qualify as a train movie or perhaps even as a movie at all, but deserve a place of honor. For instance, Stephen Ambrose's excellent book on the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, Nothing Like It in the World.
And as I noted in the past, though something I think is likely very obvious, I love train movies. Here is the current list of Great Train Movies.
Around the World in 80 Days
Back to the Future 3
Bridge on the River Kwai
The Darjeeling Limited
Emperor of the North
The Great Locomotive Chase
The Great Train Robbery
The Lady Vanishes
Murder on the Orient Express
The Narrow Margin
North by Northwest
Night Train to Munich
Strangers on a Train
Von Ryan’s Express
Throw Momma from the Train
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
The Greatest Show on Earth
At the Circus
Great Railway Journeys of the World (TV documentary)
Nothing Like It in the World by Stephen Ambrose (book)
The Railrodder (short)
The Taking of Pelham-1-2-3
I've also added another new feature last year -- a scene from one of the Great Train Movies, or another entry on the list. In honor of it being added to this list, here's a brief scene from Snowpiercer featuring Tilda Swinton (as the sort of general manager of the First Class), and Chris Evans and Octavia Spencer (as two of the rebellious leaders of the Lower Class.)
John Krasinski is back with Episode 6 of his SGN "Some Good News" broadcasts. And it's not only his sixth wonderful episode -- but he knocks it out of the park. Again.
A caveat -- if you can avoid looking at the headline that shows on the video and the still images below, that will make the surprises all the more fun. Just keep your eyes on the text here, and when it comes time to watch, do your best to avert looking at the screen and just click the big arrow in the center to play. Once it starts, you're home free.
It starts out like it’s going to be a pleasant one, very warm and endearing, sort of like the recent show on students who miss their proms -- the main story here is graduation -- …but then, oh what a twist it takes and it turns into an Oh-My-God. It’s great. A sort of double-whammy, as the people joining their Zoom meeting get an initial look of joyful surprise when they think they've discovered when the joyful surprise is...but then the actual treat comes barreling in. And again. And again.
Just great. And it's all beautifully edited together.
I've gone on a bit longer than usual, in part because I enjoyed the episode so much, though don't want to give anything away, but also want to push the video down the screen as much as possible so that there's less a chance of you seeing it before it plays.
So, there you have it. Happy graduation --
This week is another Stay at Home edition of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! with no studio audience. The guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment is fashion expert Tim Gunn. In his conversation with host Peter Sagal, he not only discusses his upcoming show, Making the Cut, but talks about his refusal to leave New York City and his pleasure of being able to just be at home and not have to get dressed up.
Over the several years, I've posted a lot of 'Mystery Guest' segments from the game show What's My Line? I've had this particular video for a while but wasn't quite sure of the best time to post it because it's a great deal longer than the usual clips. This one last 90 minutes. (Though that's with commercials, so it's quite a bit shorter.) But I figured that with people now actually looking for things to watch, this might be the ideal time.
This is a 25th anniversary special of What’s My Line?
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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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