About those “tapes”

Most comments I’ve seen regarding the Comey-Trump confrontation make sense, more or less. Most, I say. However, one straightforward and — to me — perfectly obvious factor seems to have been ignored. Or perhaps it’s so obvious it doesn’t need to be mentioned.

You decide.

After firing FBI Director Comey, President Trump sent a rather odd early-morning tweet. (I know, I know, all his tweets are rather odd. But this one seemed even more so.) On the remote possibility that you’ve not heard, it was

James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.

Consider now. James Comey was a career FBI agent, one so hard working and competent he had been promoted to head the Bureau. A man, then, whom we might expect to be keenly aware of intelligence matters. Spy stuff, not to put to corny a title on it. He knew about and — only surmising here but pretty confident nonetheless — might have participated in covert activities. Like, say, secret recording. I mean, he might at least have heard about the practice, right?

So this man with this background has a coversation with the man then regarded as President of the United States.

Still with me?

Intelligence guy, meeting in White House, talking to President. Does he go in aware that his conversation might be recorded, or does he assume such a thing would never happen and blab carelessly about anything that comes to mind?

With that in mind, does Trump’s threat really make sense?

Even to Trump?

He man is even farther off reality’s base than I thought.

This has nothing to do with whatzizname

Next time you’re upset by something you read or hear in the news, please do be careful and precise in any reactive procedures. It is important, that it to say, that any message you broadcast reaches the audience you intended, and not some other one with which you may have confused it.

Consider the situation of those indignant Turks who decided to vent their anger on the authorities in Holland “in response to a heated diplomatic dispute Turkey was having with the Netherlands.” They called the official numbers they found on-line for the city of Rotterdam. They did not, however, pay sufficient attention to international country codes.

Music for the day after

All right. It’s the day after Valentine’s Day. No need to be gushy or romantic or cute. That time has past.

On the other hand, maybe that time never passes. We just sort of lose track of important things in our quest for unimportant things.

Speaking of important things, consider classical music. Staying with important things, consider timely events. For example, the day after Valentine’s Day, a lovers’ quarrel. Now imagine Continue reading “Music for the day after”

A (much needed) change of pace

A cartoon in this morning’s paper triggered a memory, a set of memories, about what is funny.

At the heart of funny is the joke. Normally, the joke has several elements, which are supposed to occur in a specific order:

  • set-up
  • pause
  • punch line
  • (sometimes) kicker, a punch-line topper.

In that cartoon, however, things are reversed: punch line comes before set-up.

You could argue that the what seems to be a mis-placed punch line really is a set-up, and that what appears to be a mis-placed set-up really is the punch line.

The memory toward which it propelled me was yet another use of the punch line: the punch line which has no story.

We can’t have been the first to discover and play with the idea, but my friend Frank and I — this is sixty years ago or so — started doing it as a form of practical joke. Our idea was that one of us would recite a story-less punch line, and the other would laugh heartily. Everyone else would look on in confusion, at which Frank and I would reply, in mock amazement, “You mean you never heard that joke?”

Of course they hadn’t. There wasn’t one. And that was the joke.

Maybe I need to include a few examples to make the idea clear.

  • My foot’s caught in the torpedo tube.
  • He had one, but the wheels fell off.
  • Wait, it’s coming out at this end.

I guess you had to be there. And, sixty years ago, most of you weren’t. Trust me, however: at the time, they were funny.


Occasionally my mind, unable to comprehend or to deal with current events, leaps cheerfully to Ye Goode Olde Tymes. One such tyme, far enough back that it requires no data from short-term memory but not so far back that it’s dangerously obscured by mist, was the intermittent fifteen years — between 1958 and 1995 — I spent in broadcasting.

And this morning, perhaps because I was listening to music of Ginastera, I thought about payola. You know, accepting favors or gifts in exchange for on-air promotion of something important to the gift-giver. (Ginastera and payola? Yes.)

I willingly accepted payola three separate times. Begin with the first, because it was first and because it was
Continue reading “Foilola”

Do I Worry?

No, not the old Ink Spots hit. (There must be some among you who remember The Ink Spots. There’s a youtube version, of course; there’s a youtube version of everything. This one is lifted from the Abbott and Costello movie, Pardon My Sarong. (There must also be some among you who remember Abbott and Costello and Sarongs.))

    [The youtube also gives an unintentional look at racial divide in this country seventy years ago.]

Back on topic. Every year, editors The Edge — generally regarded as the Internet’s smartest website — ask members a Big Question; this year it was: “What *Should* We Be Worried About?” (Asterisks in the original, so I infer the question *really* is,

Continue reading “Do I Worry?”