Thursday, April 19, 2018

Carl Kasell

I was saddened to hear of the death of Carl Kasell, a distinctive voice on NPR’s "Morning Edition" and "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" before retiring in 2014. It was particularly troubling to hear that age 84, he passed away from complications with Alzheimer's, a disease that took my mother’s life and the lives of too many other people in my family.  

Like me, Carl was from North Carolina. As a child, he would play records and perform “commercial breaks”, something I used to do when I was child as well. Unlike myself, Carl transformed that play into a long and fruitful career in radio.  Attending the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Carl worked on the campus radio station, WUNC. He was also a morning DJ and newscaster at WGBR-AM in Goldsboro, NC. He spent a decade at radio station WAVA in Arlington, VA, going from morning anchor to news. 

Carl Kasell joined NPR part-time in 1975 for "Weekend All Things Considered" and then announced the news on the first broadcast of "Morning Edition" in 1979.

In 1998, Carl took on an additional challenge at NPR when he joined the Chicago-based news quiz show "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!", a show that has long been a favorite of mine with a very funny and comprehensive look at the week’s news. A prize for winning quizzes was Carl Kassell’s voice on your answering machine.

"I look out the window in the morning sometimes, and the sun is rising, and the people are going to work. I look at Washington as being that big, sleeping giant, just stretching and waking up, and going about its business. And to know that I'm working in the capital of the most powerful nation in the world — I feel good about that."  
Carl Kassell upon his retirement in 2014  

You did good work, Carl. Rest in peace. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Loyalty Is a One Way Street

Li’l Donnie Trump is a big believer in loyalty… to Donald Trump.  For him, loyalty is a one way street. 
Last week, Trump put on his big boy pants and did some “presidenting”, giving approval last week for rolling out airstrikes in Syria as well as new sanctions on Russia.
It seems Trump changed his mind about the sanctions. Whoops! That might upset Putin. Li’l Donnie wouldn’t want to upset his boy-crush. 
It appears that nobody bothered to clue in U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley before she announced the sanctions plan Sunday on national television.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters Tuesday that Haley simply “got out ahead of the curve” on the sanctions, which Haley referenced  on “Face the Nation” and “Fox News Sunday.”
“There might have been some momentary confusion,” Kudlow added.
Haley later pushed back against that characterization, saying in a statement: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.”
You go,girl!
Per a senior administration official, “Russia sanctions were a part of the agreed-upon plan going into the strike and going into the weekend. As recently as Saturday, that was reconfirmed as part of the plan.”
The Republican National Committee distributed talking points on Saturday morning in the wake of Friday’s airstrikes that specifically mentioned new sanctions: “We also intend to impose specific additional sanctions against Russia to respond to Moscow’s ongoing support for the Assad regime, which has enabled the regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people.”
Trump halted the sanctions plan on Sunday night, according to a Washington Post report.
This is not a new thing. Li’l Donnie will sign off on policy proposals only to change course days, weeks or months later, undermining advisers and Cabinet members, leaving them unprepared and twisting in the wind. 
There has been a scramble to come up with reasons for the sanctions turnaround. Treasury Department didn’t have the sanctions package ready to go? Russia’s muted response to Friday’s strike gave the administration reason to hold off on the sanctions? Recent changes to the National Security Council? 
Or it could be Trump decided to just fuck with people.
My money is on that one.  
Trump likes it when his surrogates go on TV to supplicate themselves to how great Trump is. He doesn’t care for it when others dare to act like they have some authority. Nikki Haley presents herself as strong and in control; Li’l Donnie isn’t going to put up with that shit. 
Remember that Nikki Haley came late to the Trump party. As governor of South Carolina, she spoke out against Trump ahead of that state’s primary in 2016. Trump has a looooooong memory for people who are not loyal to him personally.  
Haley’s senior adviser, Jon Lerner, was up for a job as national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence.  Lerner helped produce anti-Trump television ads during the Republican primary. Reportedly, Trump was royally pissed at Pence for wanting to hire Lerner. Lerner has since withdrawn his name for this position on Pence’s staff.  
Last year, Nikki Haley told  CBS News that women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct “deserve to be heard” while the White House has dismissed their claims out of hand. Yeah, you know that pissed Li’l Donnie off. 
As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley has enjoyed a physical remove from the battles of the Trump White House. As a strong and independent person, Li’l Donnie Trump figures she was overdue for a smack down. 
Or it may have just been a matter of servicing his own ego, a chance to remind everyone who is really in charge. Not his administration, not his White House, just him and him alone.

Harry Anderson: Court Is Adjourned

No sooner than I write a whiny diatribe that getting old sucks that I have to cope with the unexpected passing of a man only 10 years older than me. 


Harry Anderson, 65, died Monday in Asheville, NC which is ostensibly down the road by about 3 hours or so from my Fortress of Ineptitude. 


Harry was a performer who was a part of my young adult life. I first encountered Harry’s act of magician, comic and con artist in episodes of Cheers where he played Harry the Hat, a light heated soul with even lighter fingers, deftly conning his way to a free drink and cash. 


Harry Anderson came to prominence as the star of Night Court. As a judge in a low level court in New York City, Harry presided over a parade of oddballs with a baffling array of criminal offenses. Over the course of 9 years, Night Court began to careen towards the absurd but Harry was always solid as a judge who followed his heart as much as he followed the rule the law. 


Later, Harry went on to star in Dave’s World, a sitcom based on the life and writing of Dave Barry, a humor columnist for the Miami Herald. Dave’s World only lasted 4 seasons but I enjoyed the show. 


After that, Harry seemed to vanish from TV with few exceptions. One of those was an episode of 30 Rock where Harry, Markie Post and Charlie Robinson from Night Court reunited for a bizarre reunion episode. 


As I write this, we don’t know why Harry passed away although police did report they did not suspect foul play.


Harry will always be to my mind young and affable, ready for a good laugh or a good trick or both. It is hard to accept that at age 65, Harry Anderson has left us forever.


Bang the gavel: court is adjourned. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Getting Old Sucks

Getting old sucks.

There are those who would argue that the alternative is worse. But as I get older and my knees scream in a raging fury of painful protest at either standing or sitting, I’m not sure I want to argue about the value or lack thereof to the alternative of getting old.

Two people of advanced age have been in the news of late, both dealing with the struggles of that advanced age. Former First Lady Barbara Bush, born in 1925,is reportedly in very bad health and has gone on record as refusing any more medical efforts to artificially prolong her life. 

I’ve always admired Mrs. Bush for her wisdom and humor. She may have married into to a political aristocracy but she possessed a down home manner. My mom liked Mrs. Bush.

My favorite quote from Barbara Bush came in response to her husband’s penchant for skydiving. Back in World War II, George H. W. Bush was shot down over the Pacific. He ejected from the craft barely escaping the experience with his life. Afterwards, he would take a skydive to commemorate his survival from being shot down during the war.  Barbara’s response to this was, “Why somebody would want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane is beyond me.”  

As I write this, Barbara Bush is still with us, reportedly in good spirits, surrounded by her family who remains devoted to her.

Yeah, it sucks getting old but if you can go out on your own term surrounded by people who love you, maybe it’s not so bad.

Sadly, this brings us to Stan Lee.

I say “sadly” in that there seems to be a cacophony of voices around Stan Lee that are directing charges against each other that they do not have Stan’s best interests at heart.

Recent reports of Stan Lee’s appearance of a comic book convention describe an old, tired man with little grasp of where he was and being told how to sign “STAN LEE”. Was Stan being pushed beyond his capacity to sign merchandise to keep the gravy train going for those who seeks to benefit from Stan’s continued notoriety? 

Who is looking out for Stan Lee? His wife Joan passed away last year. His only daughter has been described as self-serving and greedy, concerned only with getting what she can out of her dad.

At 95 years old, Stan Lee’s reputation and legend in comic books, with Marvel Comics is unassailable. He has nothing to prove to anyone.  He certainly doesn’t need to sit at a convention table for hours on end signing “STAN LEE” to things. But bereft of a family he can trust, who pray tell is looking out for Stan Lee? The perils of outliving family and friends, why getting old can suck. 

OK, that’s enough for this post. I need to get up from my desk because my knees hurt. 


AMENDED, 04/17/2018, 8:50 PM 

Sorry to hear of the passing of Barbara Bush. She died Tuesday  surrounded by her family at her home. She was a woman of strength and class beloved by so many.  

Time For Singing

I mentioned in the previous post that Andrea and I with our daughter Randie were returning from Raleigh on Sunday when the tornado struck Greensboro. We had been in Raleigh to see Randie perform with the All State Chorus program. 


Randie is a very good singer, a fact demonstrated by her repeated selection for special chorus programs since she was in elementary school and participated in her first All County Chorus event. She made it to the All State Chorus program which was held in Raleigh this year. 


There are three divisions of the Al State Chorus: Women, Men and Mixed. Randie performed 5 numbers with the women’s group, singing compositions from Russia, Thailand, Africa and China. 


Randie has a very cool ability to quickly internalize a song, memorizing lyrics and the nuances of the tune. She is particularly adept at embracing music from outside of American culture. She is very partial to arrangements of African and Hispanic origin. 


The performances by all three choruses were well done, displaying an exemplary level of talent and skill. 


I do want to comment on something from behind the scenes and that is the crap young women have to go through.


The official attire for the women were long black dresses with black high heel shoes. It is a very classy, professional look but then one considers some details that come with standing in a long black dress in high heels for extended periods of time. I noticed during the women’s chorus, at least two young ladies had to make furtive escapes off stage.


Randie did confirm what I suspected, that these young women were overcome with heat exhaustion and dehydration. Randie herself had to sit down for a brief moment when she felt herself become dizzy.


She told me after the show that the women in the chorus were required to get dressed for their show before lunch. Lunch meant hurried excursions to local cafes within a few blocks of the theater during a very hot day in downtown Raleigh. And the time for lunch was severely truncated, resulting in several young women standing on stage with no food or forced to eat too quickly.


And the women’s chorus had to stand in place for about 15 minutes before their performance began while various introductory remarks were made and some awards were handed out. 200 young women dressed in black, wobbling in high heels, dehydrating under hot stage lights, all before they could do what they wanted to do, to sing some unique and beautiful songs.  


Why do women have to go through this crap?


Despite various efforts to suck the joy of singing out of them, Randie and her fellow choristers sang beautifully.  



Monday, April 16, 2018

Stormy Weather

The weather was the big story in Greensboro on Sunday when a tornado paid us a visit. The Fortress of Ineptitude, on the other side of town from where the storm hit, emerged unscathed. However, my family was nearly in harm’s way.


We were returning from Raleigh late Sunday afternoon, under a rapidly darkening sky about a half hour away from Greensboro, when a sudden gust of wind pushed against the side of our car. Immediately we were engulfed in a torrent of rain with wind gusts buffeting our car. Interstate traffic slowed to a crawl as we eventually found our way to an exit and found refuge in a convenience store parking lot where waited out the storm. Slowly, the storm decreased in intensity and we made our way back to the interstate and resumed our journey home.


When that massive sudden gust of wind first pushed against the side of our car, we were unaware of what was happening in Greensboro at that same moment which was a tornado touching down in the city’s eastern side. In the process, trees were uprooted with house, cars, schools and more sustaining damage. One person was killed when a tree crashed into their car.


When the storm hit Greensboro, we were a half hour from the city and the section where the tornado touched down. If I hadn’t gotten a bit lost leaving Raleigh, we would have been closer to the danger posed by this storm. 


So… wow.


Anyway, what were we doing in Raleigh? More on that in my next post.  

Supergirl Is Back

After nearly 2 months away, Supergirl is back!

Miss you? Oh yeah!

Absence, it is said, makes the heart grow fonder. But there is risk.  Absence makes the heart realize, hey, I have other things to do with my time. 

Still, I have missed the adventures of my favorite Female Woman of the Opposite Sex of Steel. 

When the hell are people going to find out Samantha Arias is Reign?  For that matter, when the hell is Samantha Arias going to find out she is Reign?  It seems that a single mother who is also CEO of Lena Luthor's corporation who keeps dropping out of sight for whole stretches at a time should have been exposed some time back. I think this thread has played out too long. Just as Supergirl went on its two month exile from the CW schedule, it looked like that thread was finally starting to unravel.

Mon-El's return to National City from the 31st frickin' century and with the Legion of Super Heroes is fraught with all sorts of possibilities but like the Reign storyline, is dragging on a bit. 

What I would like to see is more of Supergirl and Kara Danvers at the center of things. Kara's so-called career as a reporter for CatCo is nearly a non-starter. There are whole episodes that do not even do a check on Kara's life outside of Supergirl. 

I've noticed that Kara's appearances at the DEO alternate almost randomly between her in her Supergirl uniform or dressed as Kara Danvers.  Which seems weird to me. I guess its a way to keep Melissa Benoist from being stuck in the super suit for an entire episode whenever there's no plot points to be followed up on at CatCo or Kara's apartment. 

OK, it seems I'm being nit picky but honestly, I still enjoy Supergirl and I look forward to seeing it return tonight.  

Carl Kasell

I was saddened to hear of the death of Carl Kasell, a distinctive voice on NPR’s "Morning Edition" and "Wait, Wait ... Don...