The other day, I mentioned the wonderful documentary about Pete Seeger, The Power of Song. One of my favorite sequences in it was this utter gem.
I mentioned that Seeger had been banned by the networks from appearing for 17 years, until the Smothers Brothers had him on. What I didn't realize it that he nonetheless had a show for a while on public television. From the clips they showed, with Pete and folk artists, it looked absolutely wonderful.
But this it the treat.
The song "Freight Train" is one of those that we think just sort of sprang to life on its own, with its author unknown, lost to time. But it was written by the self-taught musicians Elizabeth Cotten. And here she is, around age 70, with Pete Seeger singing her famous song, one of the most famous songs in folk music.
This is as classic as it gets.
Today's Little Known Fact.
A short while ago, for reasons to unimportant to explain, I changed my password on Amazon for a short time, three weeks. Yesterday, I went to change it back, but kept getting an error message that the password was "unavailable." I was scratching my head because I couldn't figure out why in the world a password was not available.
Only by doing some searching did I discover the after-the-fact fine print: if you change your password on Amazon, you can never go back and use it again.
(Had I known this policy before changing my password for just three weeks, I suspect I never would have changed it.)
I called Amazon and spoke with the Password Department. They explained that the reason had to do with "security." After all, they said, what if a friend knew your password, they could use it if you went back to it. Well, a) that's some friend, but b) if your friend or anyone knew your password, they could use it at any time, like when it's actually active. So, the reason made zero sense. Mind you, I know that it's good to change passwords every once in a while. And I do so, on occasion. But that's a separate matter from not being about to re-use an old password. I made two requests:
The first was that they reverse their policy. Anyone should be able to use whatever password they want. After all, it's your password. I don't expect that request to get very far, which leads to --
The second request, that when someone goes to change their password, they are informed on screen that if they make a change they will not ever be able to use that password again.
Anyway, if you ever decide you might want to change your password on Amazon, just know that you can never change back to it.
This has been a Public Service from Elisberg Industries. Your friendly full-service neighbor, providing you live on the planet Earth. Otherwise, if you live elsewhere, while we're still friendly and still consider you a neighbor (albeit in a wider neighborhood), we can't guarantee that we'll be full-service. But we'll try...
If you're a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you might have found yourself caught in the midst of arguments about the dueling Sherlocks -- which is better, which do you prefer? -- Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes in the BBC version shown here on PBS, or Johnny Lee Miller's Sherlock in the CBS series, Elementary.
The reality is that the swirling argument is even more convoluted than most people imagined.
That's because the two actors both starred together in the acclaimed National Theatre production of Frankenstein in 2011. But it gets even more convoluted than that. Because the two actors played the same roles in the show -- alternating between Dr. Frankenstein and the Creature on different nights. And to mix things up all the more, if such a thing is possible, they shared the Olivier Award for Best Actor.
The stage production was directed by Danny Boyle, best known for Slumdog Millionaire. As it happened, the show was filmed live and shown to select movie theaters around the world. (Yes, I know, I'm just finding out about this, too, far after the fact.) And to best recreate the stage management of alternating performances, the two actors switched parts during the movie theater performance.
That production has never been released on DVD, at least yet, though there are no plans currently to do so. But here are five minutes from it. In this sequence, Cumberbatch plays Frankenstein, and Miller the Creature.
I was just watching a replay of a recent, truly wonderful documentary about Pete Seeger. At one point, they dealt with the folk music revival in the '60s and dealt with the TV series, Hootenanny, talking about how critical Seeger was to it getting on the air, yet he couldn't appear on it because the networks had banned him.
But it was something else that made me leap up. Because in the sequence, they happened to show the sheet music for the theme song of Hootenanny, a song I remember enjoying. It said the lyrics were by Alfred Uhry, and the music was by Robert Waldman.
So what, I hear most of you say.
Alfred Uhry later became known as an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. Most notably, he won the Pulitzer Prize for writing the play (and screenplay, getting the Oscar) for...Driving Miss Daisy!! He also won the Tony Award for Best Play with The Last Night of Ballyhoo. And co-wrote the film, Mystic Pizza.
(I was always surprised to see that he wrong the book and lyrics for the musical The Robber Bridegroom, which has a very good, evocative score. Little did I know he began his distinguished career as a lyricist.)
And here is the theme song for Hootenanny. The video, sung by the Brothers Four, who also released it on the B-side of one of their singles, has very low audio quality, but it picks up later on.
So, you remember yesterday I was describing the wonderful tech support that I got from Microsoft on their Exchange product. And I mentioned that there was one little oddity I discovered after the fact -- not a problem, but something strange -- that I'd follow up on and let you know what happened.
They may have topped themselves.
As I noted yesterday, after the tech support call they sent an email with the telephone and email contact information for the tech support guy Ernst, as well as that of his supervisor Robert, and for a back-up technician if none of the others were was available. I sent off an email describing the oddity and waited, but didn't hear back. In fairness, it was late in the afternoon here in California, so it wasn't unlikely that everyone in tech support was gone for the day.
This afternoon, I got a reply. But not an email -- Ernst called back! Now, that is unprecedented tech support. Happily, the oddity cleared itself up by the time he called, so it turned out to be unnecessary -- I think it had something to do with information being cached and taking time to clear out (something Ernst confirmed in more specifics) -- but just getting the phone call speaks volumes. It was impressive for any company's tech support -- a call back, for goodness sake -- but utterly unexpec
Last week when discussing Sid Caesar, I mentioned the incredible evening at the Writers Guild Theater when the stunning collection of writers from his two series appeared with him for one of the funniest nights I've ever had in a theater. Arguably, the funniest night. It's available on DVD, called Caesar's Writers. (I wrote at the time that it was edited down for PBS broadcast. It was. But I've since been informed that the DVD is the whole thing!)
What I also noted was that occasionally Sid Caesar would perform (usually with Carl Reiner, who was both an actor and writer on the show) the old sketch they were talking about. Here's an example of that.
The first writer you'll see is Danny Simon, older brother of Neil. They were writing partners at the time. Danny is also the real-life model for the messy character Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple. At one point in the video you'll also see a three-shot of Larry Gelbart, Mel Brooks and Neil Simon. Folks, three-shots don't get much better than that... But then, the entire panel was amazing.
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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