I haven't posted anything from Fry and Laurie here for a while, the wonderful comedy team of Hugh Laurie (best known to U.S. audiences for House) and Stephen Fry. The two had a long career together, as Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, on Blackadder (with Rowan Atkinson) and with their own series, A Bit of Fry and Laurie.
The two met at Cambridge University, introduced by a fellow classmate, a young aspiring actress named Emma Thompson. Since we've just been discussing Ms. Thompson here in Sweeney Todd, I thought it would be a good idea to get back to a bit of Fry and Laurie. And since a lot of people were surprised to see Emma Thompson in a musical, I thought it would be an equally good idea to show her back in her early roots, and post a sketch here where they guys had their up-and-coming friend on their TV show. So, here are Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in 1986 with a young Emma Thompson.
The other week, I was having lunch with a friend. He knew that I wrote for the Huffington Post, and mentioned that there was an article on HuffPo that related in part to a family member, and it had a slight mistake. He'd tried to get them to fix it and had written a few times, but to no avail. He wanted to know if there was any way I could use my contacts to help.
After doing my best to unsuccessfully stifle a laugh out of politeness, I said no.
I explained to him what I'd written here. How ever since the buyout by AOL and most notably over the past two years, the Huffington Post has gotten far more corporate and distant. Very unresponsive to those writing for it, and far more commonly refusing to post articles without any explanation -- in fact, without any word that it's being rejected unless one follows up relentlessly. Most of the time, comparing notes with others, it has seemed that the reason is because articles have been too harsh and critical, odd as that sounds. (If you think I'm joking, on a private blogger pages, they give some tips on the kinds of articles that would be good, and one is "6 Summer Salads You'll Actually Crave.") Though one friend had an article refused whose topic was being kind to other people! No explanation was given.
I only wish the lunch conversation with my friend had been after this past week, and his question about help had been asked today. I could have added one more to list.
Once upon a time, a person could make corrections to their own Huffington Post articles. Sometimes factual errors, sometimes poor phrasing, most often typos. Given that every article now has to be approved before posting, I can understand not allowing a writer to go back in and change their piece, since they could change it to something that wouldn't have been approved in the first place. So...fine. But if they're going to take that responsibility, then one would think it's up to them to act upon it.
I posted my long article on IFA a couple weeks ago. After publishing it, however, I noticed an odd formatting glitch, where in two cases a couple of paragraphs got smudged together. It looked sloppy and read awkwardly, so I wrote in to explain where the issue was and how to fix it. It was about a 30-second repair.
It's not that after nine days of writing in every day (sometimes a couple times a day) that the problem hadn't been fixed, but they had yet to respond. Even when I asked if they've changed the policy and are now no longer correcting typos.
Honestly, I don't think the policy has been changed. It says if you need to make a change, write to the Blog Team. So, maybe...actually, I don't know. Perhaps they think the change is so minor it's just not worth the time. Fine (well, not "fine," but for the sake of argument, fine), but then at least have an auto-response that explains this. In the end, I think it's just willful laziness. Policy to not answer unimportant things, and they'll go away.
Finally, I got fed up and went around the Blog Team and up the ladder directly to one of the main editors I happen to have an email address for. It's not what I want to do on such a small matter, but eventually I wanted the glitch fixed. I send the IFA article to companies I deal with, so it was important that it look professional. (I'd think the Huffington Post would want that for themselves, too...) Anyway, it got fixed within minutes.
I like the Huffington Post. I think they do a lot of things extremely good. And some things very poorly. But I do know that they've changed a lot since being bought by AOL.
There was an article in Monday's Huffington Post about how people are wasting far too much money using out-of-network ATMs -- like at bars -- and paying fees that are far more exorbitant than they think As the article noted, this usually happens because people find themselves in immediate need of cash, with no convenient in-network ATM nearby.
The author then gives a few tips on how to avoid this.
I have a much better tip. It's one that not only makes perfect sense, but is so easy, and whenever I tell it to people, they almost always say, "Oh, My God! That is an incredibly smart idea!!! I should do that!!" And then, as far as I know, they have never done that.
Among the author's suggestions, though, are --
Switch to a bank that's more convenient.
Switch to a bank that reimburses you for out-of-network ATM fees.
Get cash back when you go to the grocery store.
Borrow from friends and pay them back using Venmo. I
Perfectly acceptable ideas, except that I don't know what Venmo is, though she describes it as an app that sends money to friends, though I'd think that this requires not only that you are with friends, but also that they have money. And if so, you'd like to think that if they're friends they'd lend it to you without you needing an app. Though, if you do have a Venmo app (I just read up on it...) -- and friend with money -- you might as well take advantage of it. And them.
The biggest problem with these otherwise perfectly acceptable ideas is that they require making changes to your life that you might not want to do, or plan in advance (which, if you were good at that, you probably wouldn't be out of money so regularly that you have to resort to these schemes). But my idea is SO much easier, and requires no switching banks -- hey, you may actually like your bank -- or remember to carry around excess cash from the grocery store.
My idea came about because I like my bank. I like that it's small, only has a few branches, has pleasant tellers, and I get fairly personal service. But it's not extremely close to me -- maybe a mile away. And not having many branches, it also doesn't have many ATM machines. On the other hand, there's a big, impersonal Bank of America three blocks away from where I live. But I'm just not interested in the BOA being my bank, even if it does have 10 gazillion branches around the known universe, and is part of a network work 100 bazillion ATMs..
But I don't mind taking advantage of the Bank of America's services.
And so, I found out what the minimum amount was needed to open a savings account that the BOA with no monthly fee. (I think it's $300.) And so, I opened a savings account, and put a couple of hundred dollars more than the minimum in it. And for doing that, I now have an ATM card for the Bank of America, and it gives me access to the 10 gazillion branches and 100 bazillion ATMs. And whenever the amount in my account gets to close to the minimum, I stroll over three blocks, and make a deposit.
And the added bonus is that if ever I have need of a Bank of America branch -- to pay my BankAmericard, or get a wire transfer or some other matter when I've been out of town -- I have access to one pretty much anywhere.
Right now, I can hear people saying, "Oh, My God! That is an incredibly smart idea!!! I should do that!!"
And as far as I can tell...none of them will.
But I keep a-trying. Because hope springs eternal. And if I have one mission in life, it's to spread good financial advice.
Okay, if I have one mission in life, it's not that. But I still try...
Yesterday, when writing about the video of Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen, I mentioned my love of the actor Paul Ford. So, I thought it only right and proper to have a bit of the good fellow as the Mystery Guest on What's My Line?
It's not a very long sequence, since one of the panelists makes a seriously-impressive guess, though he acknowledges guessing him for a good reason. (Though the guess is still remarkable.) It's worth noting, however, that this panelist in question is the wonderful Peter Cook. Fun, too, is seeing how truly disappointed Paul Ford seems to be that he was guessed so quickly.
I just got back from a briss. Not mine, thankfully. That's long-since past. This was the second child for the kids of a friend of mine. I did what I did the time before -- showed up for support, and intentionally stationed myself as far back in the room as possible, so as not to be able to see the actual event itself.
I have no interest in seeing a briss take place. I have no interest to simply hear a briss take place. While I fully support the action and tradition, I have little interest in even thinking about a briss taking place. There were some women in the back of the room cringing. Imagine the reaction of guys. Welcome to my world.
What I didn't understand was all the people -- especially guys -- who had gotten to the front and were leaning in to get a better look. You really want to watch?? Seriously? Taking notes, perhaps, in case there's a briss emergency, and you're called to officiate?
No, no, standing in the back and offering moral support is just fine by me. And besides, there's a big added benefit -- I was standing next to the buffet table, so I got to the food right away before the masses converged on it. My plate was filled, and I was out before the log jam.
The most fun part was how pissy the rabbi got -- actually, I guess in this case he was officially a moile -- whenever the crowd got noisy. Ostensibly, it was so people could hear what he was saying, but then if I was him, I'd want the room silent, too, before I did what I was there to do. More to the point, if I was the baby, I'd want the the room silent. Actually, I'd want to the room cleared. But silence is the next best option.
If you haven't been to a briss, you're not missing much. No pun intended. It doesn't take long -- again, no pun intended. The only problem (other than watching) is if the rabbi/moile is talkative, and you got the full history of The Chosen People and any other philosophic discussions a rabbi is wont to do. In this case, he said that he figured most people there had had enough talks with Rosh Hoshanah just passed, and Yom Kippur around the corner, so he'd keep it short. I don't remember him being long-winded the last time, so I just think he'd reasonably thoughtful. Which is good, because you really want the guy to be completely focused on the main thing he's there for, not getting his lecture right.
So, things went well, it's over, and the baby survived. The crowd, too. And happily, I got through the buffet line quickly. L'Chaim.
A year ago, I posted an article here called, "H.G. Wells: Musical Comedy Man" about several musicals based on musicals by, of all people, H.G. Wells. One of those was a 1969 British show, Ann Veronica, which was largely about women's suffrage.
I just received a note in response to that from Carey Snyder who wrote to request that I post two particular songs, because "I'm editing a cultural studies edition of Wells's novel, and I'd like to refer to the musical lyrics, but can't get my hands on them. Thanks!"
We aims to please.
The first song requested was the opening number in the musical, sung by Ann, "A Whole Person." I'm not a huge fan of the score, though there are a number of quite nice things in it, in particular the title song. And in a sort-of overture, the music you hear as this selection begins is that title song. It then goes into -- this.
By the way, I should note that the score to Ann Veronica is written by Cyril Ornadel (who did the music -- and a few years earlier had written my beloved and oft-mentioned here Pickwick that starred Harry Secombe) and David Croft (who wrote the lyrics).
This is the second song that was requested, "If I Should Lose You," also sung by Ann -- performed by Mary Millar -- which comes near the end of the show.
By the way, in writing this posting, I began slapping my head in annoyance (the slaps being metaphoric, of course). That's because in the original article, I left out a third musical based on a novel by H.G. Wells. And it's based on far and away one of his three most famous novels, War of the Worlds. (Yes, War of the Worlds was a musical!) I mentioned the book in the original piece, but not the musical. Ack.
In fairness to me, it's a show that wasn't ever done as a book stage musical, but rather was a "concept album," with a score by Jeff Wayne and most lyrics by Gary Osborne. Recorded in 1978, the eclectic cast included none other than Richard Burton, as well as Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, and Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann, among others.
It was a huge success, having sold over 2.5 million copies in the U.K. It's had a variety of incarnations, including a live concert tour. Though never, as far as I know, a "legitimate stage" book-musical production.
But still, there you have it -- three musicals based on that sing-along raconteur, H.G. Wells.
And two songs here from Ann Veronica. Cultural studies edition now noted...
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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