Terry Gross + Doris Day = Fresh Air?

If you’re a devotee of NPR, it’s likely you’ve enjoyed the interview skills of Terry Gross, who’s hosted “Fresh Air” for the past quarter century. Even if you’re one who believes NPR stands for “Nationalized Pinko Radio” (you know who you are), you should give Gross a chance because, first, you will find she has no agenda, and, second, she attracts a range of individuals who open up under her subtle probing and offer insights that are both entertaining and informative. In other words, you might learn something and have a good time in the process.

Gross is the subject of the always enlightening final-page “Proust Questionnaire” in the September issue of Vanity Fair, and several of her answers were sterling:

What is the trait you most deplore in others? The inability to stop talking about themselves when they’re not being interviewed.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Entrepreneurialism.

What is your current state of mind? Like someone is hitting the Delete button on the things I’d like to remember, and putting the things I wish I could forget in boldface.

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The Man Who Should Have Been Leader of the Free World

In these days of irrational, even insane political machinations, it’s not hard for the memory to slip backward to a candidate who could make sense of all this and again lead the country to greatness, or at least back to being a legend in its collective mind. He’s the candidate who stated quite clearly, “I must choose my words carefully in order to avoid any negative interpretation. Among politicians, this is a tactic known as lying.”

He decried the idea of a professional politician and established an open and honest position: “If nominated I will not run, and if elected I will not serve.” He proclaimed himself neither left-wing nor right-wing, but “middle-of-the-wing,” while observing, “If either the right wing or the left wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles.” He saw the country’s ills as being traced to a single source: “All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian.”

He was the founder of the Straight Talking American Government Party (STAG), and his straightforward, to-the-point campaign slogan was, “I’ve upped my standards. Now, up yours.” He was Pat Paulsen, and even though he’s no longer with us except in spirit, that spirit might be a better choice to head this country, maybe with Bill Clinton as vice-president. Continue reading

You Knew Earworms Were Real–But Now They’re Official

Everyone has suffered an “earworm,” whether you knew what to call it or not. You know, that song that crept from somewhere in your cortex and began to sing itself over and over and—

Even as I write this, Tom Petty is crooning “It’s Good to Be King” in my ear, which hopefully is a reflection of my current state of mind. A couple of days ago, it was horrific as I couldn’t stop Glen Campbell from wailing “Galveston” until I wanted to beat my head against the wall. Why that song, which I haven’t heard in at least two decades, at least not that I remember? Had I done something unmentionable and my brain, that so-called conscience therein, was punishing me? I finally had to plug in “Exile on Main Street” at a painful decibel rate to drive Glen out of town. Of course, then “Tumbling Dice” started rolling around, and, for some bizarre reason, it was the Linda Rondstadt version.

But, still, better than “Galveston.” Oh, what, now it’s in your head? Sorry.

But I digress. The news is that “earworm” has officially been accepted into the lexicon of life by the editors of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in their latest update, joining other such keywords as mashup, sexting, man cave, and f-bomb. “Earworm” is defined as “a song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind.” But as one commentator put it, “it’s more like an insidious virus holding up a tiny boombox inside your brain, playing the same song over and over and over.” Continue reading