The Great Norman Lear, McCarthyism to McCarthyisn't
From his tours of duty during WWII to his sensational, culture changing television creations, to his political activism, to the good, decent, kind life he lived, Norman Lear represented the greatest of the greatest generation. I was lucky enough to spend some time with Norman. Yes, he was a comedic genius and maybe television's most important creator, but he was also a deeply interested, open, curious, people person. He was great, and also good. He truly lived the lyrics of the theme for his show One Day at a Time. This is it. This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball. I once gave a toast at a birthday party we both attended, after which Norman told me I was funny. Given the source of the compliment, that was probably my greatest creative achievement. In another weird twist, Norman once invited me to read for the part of Schneider for the remake of One Day at a Time. No one who saw that recording ever recovered. Later, Norman was generous enough to blurb my book. What a gift to be even a little connected to a personal hero. While a handful of Norman's final days were spent in hospice, (fortunately for him and his family, and the world) Norman was able to live just about all of his 101 years to the fullest. Sending love and strength to his wife Lyn and all his friends and family members. What an amazing life, an amazing American, and an amazing century.
+ Jimmy Kimmel did a great job working with Norman Lear to bring live remakes of some his shows to a new audience. He also does a great job remembering his friend. "His bravery, integrity and unmatched moral compass were equaled by his kindness, empathy, and wit. Norman was very proud of the fact that the so-called Reverend Jerry Falwell dubbed him ‘The number one enemy of the American family.’ The opposite was true. More than anyone before him, Norman used situation comedy to shine a light on prejudice, intolerance, and inequality. He created families that mirrored ours, showing us a world in which Archie Bunker and Michael Stivic could learn to not only co-exist, but to love one another."Rob Reiner, Quinta Brunson, Jimmy Kimmel and More Pay Tribute to Norman Lear: ‘My Second Father’.
+ "'You looked around television in those years,' Mr. Lear said in a 2012 New York Times interview, referring to the middle and late 1960s, 'and the biggest problem any family faced was ‘Mother dented the car, and how do you keep Dad from finding out’; ‘the boss is coming to dinner, and the roast’s ruined.’ The message that was sending out was that we didn’t have any problems.'" NYT (Gift Article): Norman Lear, Whose Comedies Changed the Face of TV, Is Dead at 101.
+ The Hollywood Reporter: Norman Lear, Sitcom Genius and Citizen Activist, Dies at 101.
+ On television he brought us Sanford & Son, One Day at a Time, All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and The Jeffersons. In politics he co-founded the nonprofit People for the American Way (that among other things, fights against book bans). Movies he was involved with include This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, and The Princess Bride. Norman said Action and took more than a century for life to say Cut. What a run.
From McCarthyism to McCarthyisn't
"McCarthy is the only speaker in history to be voted out of the job." And now, two months later, he's announced that he’s leaving Congress by year’s end. Kevin McCarthy was weak (he went from holding Trump accountable for Jan 6 to kissing his ass at Mar-a-Lago), dishonest, and had a terrible time getting the Speaker job he wasn't able to hold onto. But here's my concern. McCarthy was ultimately forced out of the business by people who are much more extreme. One by one the sane (or sane adjacent) people in politics are stepping away. For the same reason, fewer sane people are stepping into the ring. Where does that leave us?
The Eras Era
"She was 17, she says, and she had booked the biggest opportunity of her life so far—a highly coveted slot opening for country superstar Kenny Chesney on tour. 'This was going to change my career,' she remembers. 'I was so excited.' But a couple weeks later, she arrived home to find her mother Andrea sitting on the front steps of their house. 'She was weeping ... Her head was in her hands as if there had been a family emergency.' Through sobs, Andrea told her daughter that Chesney’s tour had been sponsored by a beer company. Taylor was too young to join. 'I was devastated.'" Don't worry, she got another gig. Taylor Swift is Time's Person of the Year. (According to her Spotify year-end wrap, I'm pretty sure this makes my daughter Time's Fan of the Year.)
Does The Thin Twin Win?
"Shai Chai replaced her favorite foods — bacon, sushi and steak — with tofu, beans and vegetables. She didn’t love the diet, but when Shai Chai recently learned the study’s results, she felt thankful that she had briefly changed her eating habits. After examining 22 pairs of identical twins, researchers found that vegan eaters had lower cholesterol, insulin and body weight." WaPo (Gift Article): Scientists studied twins’ diets. Those who ate vegan saw fast results. (I'm not a vegan. But I am a vegetarian, and fwiw, I have high everything bad.)
NATO Jam: "The Congress has to uphold the national security needs of the United States and quite frankly, of our partners as well. This cannot wait." Biden calls on Congress to urgently approve Ukraine aid, says 'can't let Putin win'. "The delay comes amid Republican demands for what he called far-right border policies to be included in the supplemental package." (This is really troubling.)
+ Sinwar and Peace: "Israeli forces have encircled the home of Yahya Sinwar, head of the Hamas’s political wing in Gaza." The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen and civilian death numbers are rising. Here's the latest from CNN, BBC, and Times of Israel.
+ Again: As I'm writing this, there's news of another mass shooting. This one took place on the campus of UNLV. UNLV shooting: Multiple victims reported, suspect dead, police say. Here's the latest from CNN.
+ Fan Fair: "Revenue from major women's sports should cross the $1 billion threshold in 2024, marking a threefold spike from just three years ago."
+ Gemini for an Eye: Google launches Gemini, the AI model it hopes will take down GPT-4. Forget the cautious roll-out of these products. The arms race is fully on.
+ Gooberville: "The Senate in a single stroke Tuesday approved about 425 military promotions after Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama ended a monthslong blockade of nominations over his opposition to a Pentagon abortion policy." (We're a country too often held captive by clowns.)
+ Avant Bard: Yesterday, I had a bad link to a cool story about how some of Shakespeare's most famous plays made it to us. Here's the right link: Shakespeare’s First Folio: State Library of NSW takes the Bard’s ‘radical’ 400-year-old book out of the vault.
Bottom of the News
"There's a chance none of us ever have to hear the Kars4Kids jingle ever again. If you know it, you know how awful of an earworm it is. Every time I'd see the commercial on ESPN, I'd feel like I was in Edgar Allen Poe's Tell-Tale Heart for the rest of the day, walking around my house loudly asking if my family members could also hear the infernal racket. However, blissful relief just might be on the horizon, as Kars4Kids has been in a trademark infringement battle with the similarly named Cars for Kids charity for years." The Drive: That Kars4Kids Charity With the Bad Jingle Is Fighting a $10M Legal Battle Over Its Name. (I'm not sure my local sports radio station can stay afloat without the Kars4Kids ad revenue.)
+ "No society has embraced the mullet quite like Australia, where the cut enjoyed cult status in the 1980s. It made a comeback during the covid-19 pandemic, when Australians endured some of the world’s most restrictive lockdowns. The hairstyle, often dubbed 'business in the front, party in the back,' was perfect for DIY cuts and endless Zoom calls." (No, it wasn't). WaPo: Mulletfest: Where the derided ’do isn’t a hairstyle – it’s a lifestyle.