This week, host Peter Sagal's guest contestant for the "Not My Job" segment of the NPR comedy-quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is the great singer-songwriter John Prine. There's a nice bit of connection here, since the show is done is Chicago, and Chicago is where John Prine came to fame -- and even started as a mailman. (He talks about that here, although leaves out the story about how he occasionally would lock himself in a mailbox for the privacy so that he could write there.) There's no discussion of his close friend Steve Goodman, but he does talk about folk singer Ed Holstein, who's still performing, and with his brother Fred -- a folksinger, as well -- owned the prominent club Holsteins, which was the center of the folk scene in Chicago. And Prine also tells the story about how he got his start thanks to, of all people, Roger Ebert. It's a very affectionate and funny chat.
I had a somewhat unexpected occurrence yesterday, but much-appreciated because it helped assuage an awkward feeling I had.
I don't think it's really possible for most people, if anyone to adequate the feelings one has when a tragic massacre happens like that in Manchester. You can use the same cliched words because the feeling in universal, but that's about as far as one can go.
And you turn on the television to get some coverage of what happened. But for me, that generally tends to last about 20 minutes, because at that point in the news no one has anything more to report. It's just the same words over and over, the same videos, the same experts and nothing new is being said. I understand the need that many feel for a sense of community, but I still want news, and if there isn't anything different to say, then I don't want it said over and over, for five hours. That's me. When there's news to report, report it. But there is other news happening, and I want to know it, to not only keep informed, but to keep it all in perspective.
And the day after -- yesterday -- there was even more of the same, still going on, nothing new, but still being reported. Though as the day progressed, there finally was something new, with the investigation leading to an arrest. But mostly, the same things were being repeated. Out of curiosity, and with that sense of perspective, because I was in my car that has Sirius/XM Radio, I decided to put on the BBC World Service. If I was going to hear news about Manchester, I at least wanted to hear it from England.
And to my surprise -- unlike in the U.S. on television...the story they were covering wasn't about Manchester! Nor was the next one! They did address it with the third story, but then I had reached my destination and left for lunch.
When I got back an hour later, I put the BBC back on -- and again, they were covering something else. The next story was about the attack, but from a completely different angle than anything I'd heard on American TV -- it was a report on how to deal with children at such times. It was interesting and profoundly low-key.
And then when that was over --
They went to a program about technology! And did a story on government innovation.
There, in the middle of the storm, life was going on. The story was being covered. And being covered well. And in detail. But it was being covered when they had something to report and talk about. And done in a mature, thoughtful way that respected the listener. Yes, I know, this was "the Beeb," and that's their style, even during a tragic bombing in their country. But they covered it as Really Important News -- not the only news.
And it was done wonderfully.
This week on the NPR game show, Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!, host Peter Sagal's guest contestant is movie director Guy Ritchie, who among his many films has directed the current King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, both recent Sherlock Holmes films, Swept Away, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and came to fame with the well-regarded independent Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Yes, I know he's promoting his film, but it's one thing to do promotion, and it's another thing for the British Guy Ritchie of all people to so-unexpectedly appear on a radio popular culture game show. And for all his tough-guy movies, and tough early life, he comes across as quite charming and thoroughly self-effacing. And funny.
From the archives, this week's contestant is Sara Tillotson from Tulsa, Oklahoma. As I wrote previously, at first, I was able to pick out the hidden song by focusing on the proper hand which was playing the tune, though eventually it became perfectly clear without that. As for the composer style, I didn't have a clue -- the same as the contestant. To my surprise, my one offbeat guess was bizarrely close. I wouldn't have ever gotten it, though. It's tough. But perhaps you can get the era and type of music.As
In many ways, today's selection from the NPR pop culture quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is oddly timely. The guest contestant on the "Not My Job" segment is a former CIA analyst -- and to make it all the more appropriate and timely, his name is...John Nixon, who was an expert on Saddam Hussein and was sent with Special Forces to find the Iraqi leader and then interrogate him. For such an intense career, he's a funny, personable guy who ends up doing some political impressions.
Peter Sagal's guest contestant for the "Not My Job" segment of NPR's comedy-quiz show, Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is Ina Garten, star of the Food Network show, The Barefoot Contessa. I'm not a particular fan of the show and her style, but her background is fascinating and she's very pleasant and personable here.
The guest this week is Roger Reynolds from Ashland, Virginia. I got the hidden song almost immediately, and it's one of the least-hidden songs that Bruce Adolphe has done, so I suspect most people will get it. I have a feeling that the reason it's so poorly hidden is because it overlaps not not a composer style, but an existing piece of music. Alas, as absolutely familiar and recognizable as that music is...I just couldn't name it.
This week's contestant is composer Paul Hanna of Tallahassee, Florida. The hidden song has a tricky twist, and I'm pleased to say that I got it -- fairly early on, I must say, though I didn't have full confidence in being right, since it did have that tricky twist, after all. But eventually, I felt sure enough to officially make it my guess. Alas, I didn't get the composer style, an annoyance since it's someone I quite like.
Host Peter Sagal's contestant on this week's "Not My Job" segment of the NPR comedy-quiz show is Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado. It's a fun, freewheeling interview, that's helped by the appreciative local audience for their Democratic governor, who once owned a brew-pub and currently owns a pool hall.
I had lunch with a friend today at the Taste Chicago restaurant in Burbank. That wouldn't mean much to most people, but it's probably the most low-key celebrity restaurant in the world -- co-owned by actor Joe Mantegna and his wife Arlene. It's a little joint that seats about 50 people and serves (as the name implies) Chicago food -- Italian beef sandwiches, Chicago-style deep dish pizza, and Chicago hot dogs, and more.
While there, Joe Mantegna showed up -- as he apparently does on Fridays, if he isn't filming. (As do other Chicago actors on occasion.) And since my friend had directed him in an episode of Criminal Minds, he stopped by for a chat. I kept quiet for the most part, but since I knew he was a huge Cubs fan (the place has a lot of Cubs memorabilia on the wall, and a big Cubs blue W on the side wall outside, along with other items from Chicago sports), I mentioned often hearing him on Cubs broadcasts when he shows up in the booth. He smiled and said that in fact he was going to be in the booth and lead the crowd in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" next Friday, when the Cubs play the Yankees.
You have your scoop.
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, and is a regular columnist for the Huffington Post and the Writers Guild of America. 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.