Mushroom Soup Saturday


I have much to do today so, sudden obits aside, this should be all I'll post today…and really, what other blog done wholly by one individual shows any sense of guilt for going an entire day with but one post?

A quick report of my shoulder problems: Getting better in teensy increments.

Bill Maher had Judith Miller on last night and was, as he so often is, briefly confrontational with a guest. Ms. Miller reported a lot of untrue things in the New York Times that helped grease our way into the Iraq War on a lot of false premises. Her version of the whole thing roughly boils down to "Okay, so I was wrong but you can't blame me because everyone else was, too." Maher was ill-equipped to rebut her assertions so he let her get away a lot of whitewashing.

The other day, I tweeted a joke about how few parking spaces they have at Trader Joe's markets. Many people wrote to agree with me that this dissuades them from going to Trader Joe's. Two or three people wrote that they never have any trouble finding a parking space at their Trader Joe's in New Mexico or Arizona. That's my mistake. I keep trying to go to Trader Joe's in the state where I live.

Very early Tuesday morning, Turner Classic Movies is running Callaway Went Thataway, a rather undistinguished Fred MacMurray comedy from 1951 written and directed by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank. I am not suggesting you watch it but if you do, you'll see a rather young Stan Freberg, his later co-star Jesse White and cameos by Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor and Esther Williams.

The Turner Classic Movies website is now offering a lot of great movies (though not that one) you can watch "on demand" and online, providing you subscribe to almost any cable provider that carries TCM. The exception seems to be my provider, Time-Warner Cable, a subsidiary of the same company that owns Turner Classic Movies. This, I do not understand at all.

[UPDATE, a bit later:] Several e-mails have informed me that Time-Warner (the mega-corporation) no longer owns the cable company that bears its name.  I hadn't heard that and am surprised.  I thought they owned everything except Disney.  Silly me.]

Today's Video Link

You could do stupider things with ninety minutes of your life than watch John Hodgman interview John Cleese…

Recommended Reading

As David Sirota notes, we have a lot of politicians these days who pay lip service to the cause of libertarianism but it's a strange breed of libertarianism indeed.

Today's W.T.F. Moment in Politics

Arizona passes law that says, "If the Supreme Court removes our health care exchange, we will punish ourselves and not fix the problem."

You know, I understand people who thought Obamacare would not work or wasn't the best way to help (not even eliminate) the problem of soaring health care costs. I could even understand and even side with someone who had a much better plan to replace Obamacare. What I really don't get is this Holy Crusade on the part of some to strip poor people of their health care insurance and to raise those costs back up.

Park Place


Last May, the Harden House Estate in Rancho Palos Verdes, California was sold for a reported $4.28 million dollars. In the time since, much of the garden area has been bulldozed and many trees have been removed, creating a vast expanse of barren land on which something else will presumably be erected.

Why do we care about this? Because the Harden House Estate (aka The Harden Gatehouse) was a key filming location in the fave movie of this blog's proprietor. It doubled as Santa Rosita State Park in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. This is where the "Big W" was located.

The four slanted palm trees that formed the "Big W" haven't been there for a long time. Most of the foliage and trees that made up the park were planted there for the filming and most of that endured until the bulldozers arrived…but the "W" was long gone. One tree fell down, then another, then another, etc. — and that shouldn't have come as a shock. They were planted in that unusual manner just for the movie and never expected to last forever.

Often I've written about the film here, I've received messages from people asking me where that park is located and can they go visit it? It's always been a private residence with owners who would only occasionally allow visitors in — I never even tried — but now there's nothing to see there. And as noted in this post, another important location from that film is disappearing — this week, I believe.

Sad…but inevitable. At the moment, the most memorable thing in Mad World that's still standing is Jerry Lewis.

Insert Surely/Shirley Joke Here

Will Harris directed me to this. It's an oral history of the movie Airplane!, complete with tales of Leslie Nielsen's fart machine.

Lately, I've watched a few episodes on Cozi TV of an old Universal series called The Bold Ones — an anthology of three rotating shows about really dedicated, courageous men in different professions. One was The Protectors, which starred Hari Rhodes and Mr. Nielsen as tough-talking cops…and after Airplane! and Police Squad and those Naked Gun movies, it's really hard to take Leslie Nielsen seriously…

Today's Video Link

Here's Don Rickles at the inaugural gala for Ronald Reagan's second term. I was a bit disappointed. I wanted to see him drop his pants, fire a rocket and be wrestled to the ground by the Secret Service…

Recommended Reading

Matt Taibbi on the beginnings of the Hillary Clinton campaign and its bogus populism. I'm not going to post much about the presidential campaign because I don't think much of what is said and done for the next 6+ months matters much…but Taibbi makes some good points about why it doesn't matter much.

Recommended Reading

As we approach the next presidential election, we're going to be hearing from a lot of people who predicted Obamacare would be a disaster that would wreck the U.S. economy and either result in more Americans being uninsured or at best, the same amount. These predictions are proving to rank right up there with the Mitt Romney landslide that most of them insisted was inevitable.

How are they dealing with their tales of certain health care doom not coming true? By denying that Obamacare is working well and/or that they ever thought it wouldn't. Jonathan Chait does a pretty good job of making one of these people look pretty ridiculous.

Thursday Evening


There are two comics out this week featuring tales of Groo the Wanderer by Sergio, Mark, Stan and Tom. Groo adorns the cover of the new Dark Horse Presents, which has been featuring a serialized tale of the mindless mendicant. And on the same racks, you'll find the fourth issue of Groo: Friends and Foes, a twelve-issue series in which Groo encounters friends and foes and occasionally is aware which is which. End of self-serving plug.

My neck and shoulder are better, though not back to normal. I haven't had any serious machete attacks in a few days. Then again, I haven't spoken at any memorial services in a few days. I'm not sure there isn't a cause-and-effect relationship.

The other day, I was getting another prescription filled at my friendly neighborhood CVS Pharmacy. Mine was waiting for me when I got there and I stood at the counter while the clerk rummaged through hundreds of other waiting prescriptions to find mine. Next to me in a chair was a very pretty blonde lady who looked impatient at the amount of time she'd been sitting there waiting for hers to be filled while-she-waited. As another clerk walked by, she said, "Can you please hurry with my order?"

I told her, "If you're in a rush, you can have mine."

She laughed and said, "Thanks but I need my own medicine."

I said, "Mine is really good. There's not even anything wrong with me. I just take it because I like it so much."

She laughed again. Just then, my clerk brought mine up to the register and the other clerk came back and told the blonde lady, "We can't fill your prescription. If you'll step over here, the pharmacist will explain why." As I paid for mine, I heard him telling her that the prescription had been improperly filled-out and they couldn't fill it, nor had they been able to reach her doctor to correct matters. She was not happy.

A few minutes later as I ambled out of the store, I ran into her just outside. She spotted me and said, "I should have taken you up on your generous offer."

Today's Video Link

I really like the Broadway musical, City of Angels, which was written by Larry Gelbart, David Zippel and Cy Coleman. I would have liked to have seen this production but it was in Bielefeld, Germany…

My Latest Tweet

  • Trader Joe's has 418 stores in the U.S. Shouldn't they collectively have more than 900 parking spaces?

Go Read 'em!

I like a lot of the political articles on Salon but often feel their entertainment writers don't understand the business they're covering. An exception would be when they run long interviews. They've launched a series of conversations with folks who were once on Saturday Night Live, and they seem to be focusing on the ones who haven't been interviewed much. The first one was with Nora Dunn and they've just posted one with Gary Kroeger. Mr. Kroeger, by the way, is running for Congress and he talks a little about that in the piece.

Today's Video Link

Here's a clip from the September 2002 Actors Fund Benefit in New York. It's unlikely anyone would ever cast Lillias White to play Fanny Brice in a "real" production of Funny Girl but she sure knows how to sing this song from it…

Today's Political Comment

Those of you who never liked Indiana governor Mike Pence should probably be pleased (and unsurprised) that his approval ratings have plunged since that debacle with that Religious Freedom Bigotry Restoration Act. I don't think he ever had much chance at the presidency before this but now he has about the same chance as Robert Durst…maybe a bit less.

Here's the thing: Pretty much everyone in this country has decided how they feel about Gay Marriage. If you're in favor of allowing it, you were never going to vote for Mike Pence because he's worked so much to stop it. But if you're opposed to Gay Marriage, you're also not going to vote for Mike Pence…now. You might tell pollsters you like him in order to back an anti-Gay Marriage crusader and therefore, his cause. But when it comes right down to it, you don't like the guy because he backed down on his position and his general ineptness at handling the whole matter scored a big win and a dose of empowerment for the other side. Way to go.