Okay, I think it's near-impossible on Thanksgiving to not post this classic by Stan Freberg, from his great Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America.
Here is his version of how Thanksgiving actually came about.
It begins with the local mayor decided a bit of self-promotion would help him if he threw a big gala and invited some Indians to show what a great guy he was. Which leads to a Freberg gem, "Take an Indian to Lunch."
And then comes the glorious day of the Big Meal itself. Which apparently turns out to be that it almost wasn't so big...
I was trying to come up with songs about Thanksgiving -- I don't mean the traditional songs sung on Thanksgiving, but rather songs about the holiday. Here's one I came up with from a little-known musical I've written about in the past that written by very well-known composers, Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse.
They wrote the scores to two Broadway successes, Stop the World I Want to Get Off and Roar of the Grease, the Smell of the Crowd. And also the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (Yes, they wrote the song, "The Candy Man.") Subsequent to that, Bricusse went off and wrote a string of movie musicals -- Dr. Doolittle (that Newley appeared in as an actor), Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Scrooge. (And wrote the lyrics to my beloved stage musical Pickwick.)
After a long absence from the stage, the two men re-teamed and dove in again with The Good Old, Bad Old Days which opened in London, but never made it to the U.S. This is one of the songs from that score, a particularly nice number -- and one not sung by Anthony Newley. Here is the appropriately titled, "Thanksgiving Day."
A couple days ago, I mentioned coming across a musical from last year, First Date, and embedded one. As I said, thought the few songs I'd heard were sort of enjoyable, written by Alan Zachary and Michel Weiner -- not what I'd refer to as distinguished, and with somewhat of a sameness in style, but fairly clever and fun. This video is an appropriate way to not only offer a couple other songs from the show, but prepare you for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
When NBC broadcasts the parade, they stick to the outdoors. And when presenting a number from a Broadway musical, they either have the stars sing from their float, or let the cast perform from a "spotlight" area if it's a production number. CBS handles things differently -- they keep a theater at their disposal and often cut away for lengthy productions.
And that's what they did for First Date. So, we get to see a couple of songs on stage. The first features the small company and is, I believe, the opening number from the show. It's followed by the two leads, Zachary Levi and Krysta Rodriguez.
Here's some more from the Conan Show. This time, he decides that it's important that he get to know and bond with the unpaid interns who work on his program.
The other day I saw The Imitation Game. In a word -- tremendous.
In more words, this is the little-known story (unknown -- even in its native England -- until only very recently) of Alan Turing, a mathematics genius and somewhat of a social misfit who largely cracked the unbreakable Enigma Code of the Germans, which is believed to have been central to the Allies winning WWII, shortened the war by two years, and saved up to 14 million lives. But the story is more than about that -- though that alone is riveting -- as it tells Turing's personal story, as a homosexual at a time in England when that was a crime. How he dealt with that and how it was dealt with by the British helps round the film out to much more than a great spy thriller.
It works on every level -- the writing by Graham Moore is smart and gripping and thoughtful and never lags, whichever part of the story it's dealing with (told at three different times). It's an incredibly impressive feature film debut -- his only other real credit is one episode of the TV series, 10 Things I Hate About You. The direction by Morten Tyldum keeps everything moving, yet stays significantly personal It's a rich, atmospheric production. And all the acting is terrific and understated, starting with Benedict Cumberbatch, and including Keira Knightley and the wonderful Charles Dance as a military commander.
There's some nice humor that fits impeccably out of the dialogue, and several twists and turns. So, I shall say no more. Other than, again, it's quite wonderful.
This is the British trailer. Like the U.S. one, it focuses more on the spy code angle, than gives a full sense of the film, but it does a better job of it.
There's a saying in legal circles that a D.A. can get a Grand Jury to indict a cheese sandwich. It turns out that in Ferguson, Missouri, Grand Juries are apparently lactose intolerant. Then again, they seem to be extremely tolerant in many other regards.
Between the not guilty shooting death of unarmed Trayvon Martin walking home, and the now-unindicted shooting death of the unarmed Michael Brown with his hands raised -- and all shooting deaths in between -- I can't even imagine the response of much of Black America.
The riots across the country are wrenching to see. But it's difficult to have thought it wouldn't be the reaction. And while I'm sure there will be many pointing fingers at the rioters for their lawless civil disobedience, and also many urging calm, how calm can a people be believing that they have a target on them and it's open season?
Obviously that's not actually the case. Murder remains murder. The problem though is seeing how difficult it is to prove it when the victim is black, and the shooters not only are white but have laws supporting them.
I wish there weren't riots. I wish there weren't fires being set. I wish there wasn't violence across the country. And I also wish there was more legal protection and compassion that didn't make so many black people likely feel that if a white person shoots them it might be considered okay because they were scared.
They were scared?? Imagine being a black person.
For the sake of argument, maybe George Zimmerman shouldn't have been convicted of shooting the unarmed Trayvon Martin because under the law it was justified, and maybe Officer Darren Wilson shouldn't have been convinced of shooting the unarmed Michael Brown, because under the law it was justified. But even if that's the case -- imagine being a black person.
By the way, lest anyone think my opening quip was unfair, or my observations merely bleeding heart, an article on Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight website noted here that the most recent year for which data is available on the subject, 2010, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases -- and Grand juries did not return an indictment in just a mere 11 times.
In case you don't have your abacus handy, the math of that works out to District Attorneys getting an indictment in federal cases 99.99% of the time.
Let's put that another way. The odds of getting an indictment are 14,727 to 1. The chances of you being hit by lightning during your lifetime is 3,000 to 1. You are five times more likely to get an indictment in a federal case than being hit by lightning.
Is it unfair to say, "...unless you're an unarmed black man"? Maybe so. But then, it's probably even more unfair to be an unarmed black man.
And if you think it's unfair to say that -- imagine being a black person.
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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