We haven't had a Mystery Guest segment for a while, so let's correct that. In fairness, this isn't an actual Mystery Guest, but one who might be familiar to somebody on the panel, and so they have to use blindfolds. The guest here is Dick Kollmar, who was a Broadway producer, including of the hit musical Plain and Fancy, which starred Barbra Cook right before she did The Music Man, but why this segment is such particular fun is that he's also the husband of panelist Dorothy Kilgallen. The show seemed to like doing this to her, since they also had her father (a well-known newspaperman) on as a guest, as well as her two children together. Making it additionally fun is that one of the panelists is Fred Allen.
This is the full show. Dick Kollmar is the first guest, so you can either just watch from the start or jump to the 2:45 mark.
On this week’s ‘Not My Job’ segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, the guest is Ellen Stofan, the under-secretary of science and research at the Smithsonian Institution. She has a fun, lively conversation with host Peter Sagal about her long history working in the field of outer space, including at NASA, and talks about why she’d like to go to Mars, but not anything much shorter. What’s goofy, as well, is that most of the panelists jump in with outer space question related to movies.
This again is the full Wait, Wait… broadcast, but if you want to jump directly to the “Not My Job” segment, it started around the 18:45 mark.
On this week’s ‘Not My Job’ segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, the guest is Phillipa Soo, who created the role of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton in Hamilton, for which she was nominated for a Tony as Best Actress and for Emmy in the recent TV adaptation.. Not shockingly, her interview with host Peter Sagal is all about her experiences performing in Hamilton. It’s very light-hearted and enjoyable, but I was disappointed (albeit not surprised) that there was no talk about her having starred in the musical adaptation of Amelie, which I saw in its pre-Broadway tryout and liked a great deal.
This is the full Wait, Wait… broadcast, but if you want to jump directly to the “Not My Job” segment, it started around the 19:45 mark.
The NPR quiz show took a week off, and instead posted a “Summer Break Edition” to feature some of their favorite moments from past shows. So, that seemed like a good way to introduce the full program to people who have only heard the “Not My Job” segment that I post here.
Over the weekend, I was flipping through channels on Sunday morning when I came on ESPN and little 7-minute “ESPN Featured” segment, and it was such a funny joy I was hoping I’d be able to track it down here – and happily I found it.
Recently, I’ve written here about Bill Veeck and his wild inventiveness being the P.T. Barnum of baseball, eventually getting voted into the Hall of Fame. This story is about Jesse Cole who has sort of morphed a combination between Veeck and P.T. Barnum. It takes him from his dreams of a baseball career ended by injury to being a minor league general manager at the age of 23 for “the worst team in the country” – to buying a non-existent college summer league team and turning it into a wild, wonderful phenomenon, the Savannah Bananas. Jesse Cole’s rule is, “Whatever’s normal, do the exact opposite.”
A look at the team’s website shows such promotions as a breakfast series of games, playing games in kilts, a singing postgame interview, and relentlessly more. I'd explain, but the video does a better job, showing many of them.
But just to let you now I'm not a-lying...
This story is such fun. Even if you don’t like baseball, it will likely not fail to put a smile on your face. Maybe even make you wish you lived in Savannah. As a guy waiting to get into the ballpark says, “I could care less about baseball ‘til this came about. Now, I’m addicted to it.”
Okay, and as a bonus because you deserve it, and just so that you know it's actually real, here is the totally-weird singing postgame interview --
Yes, this is actually from Dictionary.com --
And today, we open the door again to the International Society for the Study of Apologies, which I co-founded with my friend Nell Minow.
The other night, in a baseball game between the California Angels and Detroit Tiger, an announcer for Detroit, Jack Morris -- one of the Tigers’ all-time great pitchers – made a comment about how he’d pitch to the Angels’ star Shohei Ohtani (who leads the American league in home runs) and in doing so used a caricature Japanese voice. Later in the broadcast, Morris issued his apology
“It’s been brought to my attention, and I sincerely apologize if I offended anybody, especially anybody in the Asian community, for what I said about pitching and being careful to Shohei Ohtani,” Morris said. “I did not intend for any offensive thing, and I apologize if I did. I certainly respect and have the utmost respect for this guy.”
I have no doubt that Morris did not intend to be offensive. And I have no doubt he’s apologetic and that it’s sincere. However, I also have no doubt that that’s a pretty weak apology. For starters, when your apology begins by noting that you were so unaware you’d done anything wrong by using a Charlie Chan-style accent that it had to be brought to your attention, that’s not the best foundation. True, many (if not most) apologies do require a “By the way…” heads-up nudge, but ideally one figures it out oneself. Especially when using a cartoonish accent out of the 1930s.
More to the point is any apology that not only says, “If I offended anyone…”, but says it twice, has fumbled the ball with the depth of his apology. The apology is there, but it’s largely floating on the surface and merely seeped underneath the ground soil so little that only a cactus could grow there. There’s no “if.” When you haven’t offended anyone, there’s no need to apologize – that should be pretty basic and obvious. You are apologizing because you did offend people. Yes, Jack Morris was sincere. I believe he meant it. It’s just that his sincerity was sort of like a carton of milk that thoughtfully includes an "Expired on..." date. And for that, by Institute Standards, I give him the grade of a C. (Ms. Minow's mileage may differ. Or not.) I danced around giving it a C-, but his transgression seems more thoughtlessly idiotic out of ignorance than anything.
A more proper apology would have been along the lines of, "Earlier, I was trying to be entertaining in explaining how difficult it would be to pitch to the Angels' great star Shohei Ohtani, and used what I thought was a funny voice. I don't know what I was thinking. It was stupid. And I sincerely apologize for what I'm sure was offensive to others, most especially in the Asian community, since I know it was offensive to even me. I have the utmost respect for Shohei Ohtani, who is doing something remarkable on the field this year unprecedented since Babe Ruth. But even if he weren't, whoever he was, it was wrong, stupid, and again I am so sorry and apologize. I will make sure it doesn't happen again."
That aside, the network, Bally Sports Detroit announced that Morris would be indefinitely suspended and undergo bias training. “We have a zero-tolerance policy for bias or discrimination, the network’s statement said, “and deeply apologize for his insensitive remark.”
The Detroit ballclub itself issued a statement, saying that they were “deeply disappointed by the comments made by Jack Morris during the broadcast last night. We fully support Bally Sports Detroit’s decision and their ongoing commitment to ensure that all personnel are held to the highest standards of personal conduct.”
If I have any pleasure from the incident it’s that it gives me the opportunity to bring up a wonderful article about apologies written for his weekly column by my high school and college friend, Rabbi Jack Moline who is president of the Interfaith Alliance, based in Washington, D.C. In addition, he is on the board of directors of Elisberg Industries and serves here as Vice-President of Telecommunications, a fact that he actually references in the article.
In fact, Jack also talks about the International Society for the Study of Apologies – as well as another of his (indeed, our) childhood friends, the eminent and oft-mentioned here Nell Minow. So, in addition to being a very good, enjoyable look at the concept of apologies from a real-life scholar who has devoted much of his adult life to dealing with the idea of forgiveness, it’s a lovely look at two of his high school pals.
If I have any quibbles about the piece, it’s that he gets the reason wrong for why he is the VP of Telecommunications for Elisberg Industries – though his reason is a funny, short one more appropriate for a thoughtful article on apologies. But for the record, as his brief bio says in the “Our Corporate Board” section above, under the “About Elisberg Industries” tab, the reason Jack is on our Board of Directors is – “Honestly, we mainly like having an officer with Washington connections. As well as a pipeline to God. Hey, you never know on either account, and it's good to cover your bases.”
Anyway, if you want to read with an actual rabbi and real-life president of the Interfaith Alliance – and life-long friend, wonderful writer, and funny, thoughtful guy – has to say about the general subject at hand, you can read it here. And I hope you do. It’s not very long – in fact, he spends more time talking about Nell and me. So, you should have a pretty good time not realizing you’re improving yourself.
As far as iconic history goes, this is just too wonderful.
For the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! this week, I decided to post the full show – that’s because it’s their first with a live audience in a year-and-a-half, recorded outdoors last Saturday at the Mann Center in Philadelphia. And having a crowd (and such an enthusiastic one, to be back) is a palpable treat.
As for our regular standby feature of the ‘Not My Job’ segment, the guest is local -- Larry Krasner, a former defense attorney for 30 years and civil rights lawyer who eventually decided to fix the problems he long-railed about on the other side and ran for District Attorney in Philadelphia and won, and is finishing up his first term. In his light-hearted, but often engagingly blunt interview with host Peter Sagal, he talks about documentary series that followed him after he got elected and also about screwing up trying to cut off his pony tail. If you want to jump directly to the “Not My Job” segment, it started around the 18:15 mark.
This is the 1992 Kennedy Center Honors presentation for Gregory Peck. The main presenter is Audrey Hepburn who is much too too polite to tell the famous casting story, but only alludes to “your generosity I owe my career.” What that is about is that when the two made Roman Holiday, Gregory Peck was the huge star and had solo above the title billing. She was an up-and-coming ingenue, whose credit for the film was contractually below the title. But before release, Gregory Peck told the studio that Audrey Hepburn's performance was too special and further that if her credit remained below the title he'd look foolish because she stole the movie, so he insisted that she share star-billing with him above the title.
This presentation has far greater clips into Peck's film history than most of these segments, and they're a joy. Unfortunately, the segment cuts off early after only Isaac Stern's music performance and no others – but oh, those clips, it's worth it for them alone
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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