During the debate last night on CNBC, one highlight (out of many) bugged me. But it bugged me more than the others, because it was SO easily resolved and would have done so with "uuuuge" impact.
At one point, moderator Becky Quick had asked Donald Trump about a quote of his, which he denied ever saying. She replied by asking: "Where did I read that, then?"
Dear Ms. Quick, you read it on Donald Trump's own freaking website! Tell him that!! Don't ask him where you read it -- what on earth do you expect him to say? ("Oh, you must have read it on my website.") Don'd apologize for him lying about what he said and what he publicly promotes On His Own Website.
And so, by wimping out, she left the door open to Donald Trump coming back with a snide, "You people write this stuff. I don't know." But Becky Quick didn't have the research handy or lazily didn't bother to check it out first to know where her quote came from. All she had to do was check her own freaking data and have it at hand. Because She Was Right. She just didn't know it. And allowed Mr. Trump off the hook and let herself look like an idiot. When she could have said, "Oh, but Mr. Trump, that quote of yours is posted right on your own website." And it would have shut him down, been massively embarrassing to him, and could have been a defining moment not only of the debate but of his campaign.
"Where did I read that, then?"
O dear Lord. You Were Right. You were the moderator of a national debate of Republican presidential candidates. Please just do the basics of your job. Care enough. You Were Right.
Insert the proper "sigh" here...
REI is a wonderful company that sells equipment for outdoor activity. They announced the other day that on Black Friday, THE biggest day for retailers the day after Thanksgiving -- they are closing all 143 of their stores for the day and telling their employees to have the day off and enjoy the outdoors.
They even announce it on a special page of their website, set up to make things extremely clear, including a countdown --
At the bottom of this above-webpage, the company explains, "REI believes that being outside makes our lives better. That's why this Black Friday, we're closing all 143 of our stores and paying our employees to head outside."
I've long had a special affinity for REI. I don't shop there a lot, but I discovered them over 30 years ago, maybe closer to 40 years, when they were a very small chain with only half-a-dozen or so branches on the West Coast. It's officially a co-op, and they even give rebates at the end of the year on your purchases, as co-ops are wont to do. The thing is, I didn't realize how early I had become a member of REI until I went into their new Santa Monica branch a couple years ago. (Until then, their nearest store was far away, which is why I didn't get there often. Though they also, of course have an online presence these days. But not in the early days.)
Anyway, I went up to the checkout, and the guy at the register did a stunned double-take, worthy of Laurel & Hardy. Is something wrong, I asked? "No," he replied, "I've just never seen a membership number this small."
My number is around 740000, so I never thought it was that small. "Oh, no," he explained, "we're now in the tens of millions."
By the way, the reason I was in the store that day was another reason I love REI. I'd bought a jacket there years earlier that I loved, probably 15-20 years ago. Yes, it's well-worn, but just great in every way. The zipper had a little problem a few years earlier, and my tailor wanted to charge me $25 to fix it. I thought that was ridiculous, so I just used a paper clip, and it worked perfectly. But after some time, I remembered that REI has a lifetime warranty on their own products, and since the new store was now so close, I went in to...well, hey, just ask. And yes, it was still under warranty, I gave them the jacket and a few weeks later it was fixed. No charge.
REI put out a statement explaining their Black Friday action in a little more details. They wrote, "For 76 years, our co-op has been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: a life outdoors. We believe that being outside makes our lives better. And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth."
In fact, they splash this statement across their website's home page. Just so it's really, really clear.
When a large business (actually, any business, but a large business has SO many more hoops to leap through) does something like this, you have to figure that the company has a good reason. They certainly seem to.
I'm guessing that they think they could have a PR benefit from this one-day closure. And they probably also figure that people who want to shop at REI will be fine waiting one whole day.
Just another reason I've long-liked REI.
Yesterday, in our festival of the 2000 revival of The Music Man, we had Rebecca Luker as Marian the Librarian. Today, we have...well, "Marian the Librarian." And this time, we jump from the Boston Pops to the show in action. This is the full production number, all nine minutes of it recorded on stage during a performance..
Needless-to-say, the video and sound quality isn't great, but it's quite good enough to enjoy the performance of Craig Bierko as Harold Hill doing his best to woo Marian. The exuberant choreography here is by Susan Stroman, who also directed the show -- and who has won a remarkable 12 Tony Awards. (Among her many Broadway musicals, she directed and choreographed The Producers which won the most Tony Awards by a single show in a year -- also, as it happens, 12.)
The video cuts off right before the applause would have started. I suspect it got a lot. You can fill it in...
Yes, it's too insane to just take my word for it, so here's the proof.
And if you can't bear to click and read the whole article, here's the headline and lead, with the date attached, as well --
Again, Dr. Ben Carson (R-Mayo Clinic) is not getting the Republican Party nomination to be President of the United States. It just is not happening. (Another article, in fact, says he_re that 72% of Republicans are undecided who they'll vote for.) But just the mere fact that more Republicans say they prefer Dr. Ben Carson to lead them just speaks volumes of how fractured the GOP is. Actually, going further, the mere fact that 48% of Republicans say that they not only want either Dr. Ben Carson or Donald Trump (R-Trump Towers) to lead them, but also believe that for inexplicable reasons believe that either man is somehow capable of being President of the United States, Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, and leader of the free world says more negative about today's Republican Party than I ever could.
To repeat, when Republicans across the country go into a voting booth, there is no way they are going to make Dr. Ben Carson their party's nominee. I don't believe they will either for Donald Trump, but I'm not willing right now to say "no way" -- not because of Mr. Trump, but because I'm not sure for absolute certain who else they would vote for. The only choices at the moment appear to be Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, and, man, that is a problematic mud fight I don't want to watch.
But just saying that Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump have more support combined than Sen. Lindsay Grahm at 1% is mind-boggling enough.
Here's the next video from our festival of the 2000 Broadway revival of The Music Man, which I wrote about yesterday. It also comes from that same Boston Pops concert, which I'm guessing did a tribute to the show.
This is Rebecca Luker, who starred as Marian Paroo, singing "Goodnight, My Someone.". Yesterday, I told the story about how a good friend of mine who grew up in New York and saw the original production of The Music Man repeated times and swore by Baraba Cook's original performance, said that it wasn't until seeing Ms. Luker that anyone came close. (Readers of these pages will also recall the many articles I wrote about seeing the World Premiere 1997 production of Barry Mannlow's musical Harmony in San Diego, and Luker was in that show. And not shockingly, was a gem.)
When they did a TV version of The Music Man in 2003 with Matthew Broderick, they cast Kristen Chenoweth to play Marian. It always bothered me that they didn't have Rebecca Luker re-create her part. It's not that Chenoweth was better known -- again this was back 12 years ago, and she wasn't. She'd done a few things on TV, but all in small supporting roles. She was largely a Broadway star -- but then, so too was Luker, who had three Tony nominations at that point. (More since.) And great as Kristen Chenoweth's singing is, Luker's voice is, I think, the more proper range for Marian. One odd possibility that I've wondered is that Matthew Broderick is pretty short, and Ms. Chenoweth is extremely short. Rebecca Luker might be taller, and therefore not as good a "fit." Or...maybe they just wanted Kristen Chenoweth. I like her. She was absolutely fine. But I think Rebecca Luker is better for the role. And deserved the chance to re-create it on film.
In my article yesterday, I also more accurately described her has "the ethereal Rebecca Luker."
If you don't know her work, here's why.
Bonus note: after posting this, I came across Rebecca Luker singing this song onstage during a live performance. I thought about swapping out videos, but I figured that since Craig Bierko got his Boston Pops performance with good sound quality, Rebecca Luker deserved her, as well. But if you want to see that onstage video, as well, just click here.
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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