Sunday Funnies: Late but Hating Hate

Well, I refused to give up an hours sleep last night, so I’m rather late this morning, since they changed the clocks anyway. But a busy week.

In other news: Turkeys vote for Christmas

Or not replacing it!


And, of course, and still more double trouble


Alex Trebek and an American Tradition

And so, Wednesday brought word from Alex Trebek that he has stage IV Pancreatic Cancer. Nat a good thing when you are 78, or ever in fact. We wish him a speedy recovery, and he will be in our prayers, but…well we are realists.

We’re also fans of Jeopardy, and it seems like we have been all our lives. Probably not least because we have stashed all sorts of unrelated and useless information, the perfect mess for playing Jeopardy, as it were. I can barely remember back at Bedrock High, a jeopardy contest, and quite a few bars over the years where the competition was spirited and friendly.

Mr. Trebek long ago made Jeopardy his own, I know he wasn’t the first host, although I can’t put a name to him, it was a perfect match, of host with program. Just as Monty Hall was on Let’s Make a Deal, Allen Ludden on Password. I can remember Bill Cullen and the GE Colleg Bowl, but it seemed impossibly hard at the time, but I was fairly young. But I’ve met many who find Jeopardy too hard as well.

Christopher Jacobs over at The Federalist makes the point that Alex is the very last man standing, the last real, professional game show host. He’s right, but let him tell it.

Few Game Shows Today

By comparison, few individuals currently on the air besides Trebek have hosted multiple game shows. Regis Philbin might qualify as a possible exception, having hosted a brief revival of “Password” after having helmed “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” But few individuals have hosted multiple game shows because so few game shows currently air.

Television dynamics have changed substantially in recent decades. The growth of syndicated daytime talk shows, beginning in the 1980s, eroded one block of time slots for game shows. And the launch of “Survivor” in 1998 heralded a new era of “reality” television programming in prime time, with cheaper costs and greater appeal to network executives.

From time to time, game shows have reappeared on the television landscape. “Millionaire” single-handedly resurrected ABC’s flagging fortunes in 1999 and 2000, prompting a series of imitators to launch big-money game shows. But ABC aired “Millionaire” episodes so frequently they ran the franchise into the ground, forcing it into daytime syndication, while “Greed,” “The Weakest Link,” a “Twenty-One” revival, and others soon disappeared entirely.

Television studios do occasionally air game shows, often during the slow summer season. When they’ve had a need, they have usually hired comedians—Steve Harvey at “Family Feud,” Drew Carey for “The Price Is Right,” Alec Baldwin for “Match Game”—or talk show hosts—Regis Philbin at “Millionaire” and Michael Strahan for a revival of the “$100,000 Pyramid.”

But the days of a single host making a stable living going from show to show, and developing a distinct identity as a game show host, have long since disappeared from the television marketplace. That makes Trebek not just an icon for fans of “Jeopardy!,” quiz shows, and trivia, but the last of his kind for an entire television genre.

That’s said, I’m a Jeopardy guy, and have been since High School, but dad and my favorite niece both favor The Price is Right, and Mom liked Password.

But I suspect the game show itself may be nearing the end of the road. At it’s best, it was communal viewing, at home as a family playing along, as we all do on Wheel of Fortune, and watching Jeopardy was always best with a group of friends playing along. That’s even true for The Price is Right, mindless as it sometimes seems.

But communal or family events are not doing so well in America these days seems like everybody has the nose stuck in their phone constantly instead of reacting to those they are with.

I’ll take sad for a $1000, Alex.

Cabaret, Haffner, and Chicago

My friend Brandon Christensen over at Notes on Liberty each evening does a post with a few links, which are often interesting. The day before yesterday had one that struck me, so let’s take a look.

In an article entitled The Unromantic Truths of Weimar Germany, Marilyn Macron is essentially reviewing Blood Brothers by Ernst Haffer. The book was originally published in 1932 and banned a year later by the Nazis. Ms. Macron starts this way.

EVEN HALF A CENTURY ON, Cabaret heavily informs perceptions of Weimar Germany. The popular, Oscar-winning 1972 musical features garter-clad Liza Minnelli and elegant Joel Grey slinking their way through a decadent Berlin underworld of sex and style, and it all seems so glamorous. The reality for most Germans at the time was, of course, colder, duller, and much more miserable.

But no one wants anything to do with misery. It’s not the kind of thing viewers and readers pay money to experience. If you dress up misery with tuxedos and boas, though, and hide the accompanying desperation under makeup and sequins, you get decadence, and decadence sells. German writer Alfred Döblin filtered this aesthetic into his classic 1929 novel Berlin Alexanderplatz. Christopher Isherwood was similarly taken in — his 1937 novella Sally Bowles, later collected in The Berlin Stories(1945), was the basis for Cabaret.

They wrote of Berliners who knew how to commodify decadence. Of aristocratic gangsters who wouldn’t do a job without top hat and tails. Of Apache dancers, Brylcreemed villains, and two-mark whores with fire-red curls. There were discreet champagne lounges in basements, secret entrances, and trapdoors. The observer of this falsified and superficial milieu would find Berlin’s actual criminal underworld deathly dull. Nothing of interest there at all. Except, perhaps, real people with real needs, and few ways to get those needs met.

She’s right though, that undertone that runs through Cabaret does give you a feel for what is coming. A newer version, set in the US, with much the same feel of desperation about it is Chicago, another fine effort, this time about what might have been instead of what was.

Haffner’s writing is of the short-lived Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity, movement that rejected romanticism and expressionism in favor of realism. His collage of the exploits and exploitation of these boys shows them fully responsible for their actions but also indicts German society as a whole. In this, his prose pairs well with the vitriolic caricatures of Dada/New Objectivist artist George Grosz, a contemporary of Haffner’s who left for the United States in 1933.

Grosz’s works were mainly done in pen and ink to emphasize the starkness of his subject matter. Of his claustrophobic collage A Funeral: Tribute to Oskar Panizza, he sought to portray, he said, “[A] gin alley of grotesque dead bodies and madmen […] A teeming throng of possessed human animals […] think that wherever you step, there’s the smell of shit.” A Funeral is an artistic analogue of Blood Brothers, in which Haffner writes, “And the big beer joints with their lively oom-pa-pah music from early morning on, they are just waiting rooms for armies of pimps, unemployed and casual criminals.”

All very interesting, and I wonder if it has implications for our time. For aren’t we seeing the same things, decadence, missing fathers, self-harming or more or less defeated mothers leading to feral young people, surviving however they can? How different is Haffner’s Berlin to present-day London, or Chicago? I don’t know and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know. But what I really don’t want is to find out they are the same. Neither the United States nor Weimar Germany survived the thirties as they were before. Neither did the world.

The book is now on my wish list. And do read the linked review.

As for Haffner himself, Macron tells us…

Beyond being a creative risk, Haffner’s humane depiction of the gang members turned out to be a grave political error: the Nazis banned and burned Blood Brothers within a year of its publication, during the notorious May 1933 Bebelplatz book burning. Sometime after, the writers’ union affiliated with the Third Reich, the Reichsschrifttumskammer, summoned him to appear. It is believed that he did.

Haffner was never seen again.

There is a lesson in that, as well.

The Day Late and Dollar Short Sunday Funnies

And so, a bit late, but another strange week.


Always break for Gingers

Bring your own toaster

And, of course

PowerLine, of course, and Bookworm and PA Pundits as well, and maybe a few others.

Sunday Funnies, The Craziness Continues

And so this was the week that we watched as a presumed actor destroyed his own career, in a fake hate crime, a Bernie Sander decided governance can’t be left to the sane, competent, and young enough to walk. Well given my age, I’m sorta sympathetic, but the time comes to retire, and 80 is somewhere behind that particular wall, which still needs building. Oh, and we\re still laughing at the Green Nude Eel, which designator we seem to owe to PowerLine. Genius guys.

They say that this is, in fact, true 🙄

Intermission, Spring is coming

A reasonably current picture of a 65-year-old woman. Hmmm!

And, of course

Mostly but not completely from PowerLine and Bookworm.

Sunday Funnies: Green Nude Eel Edition

Well, another week where Occasional Cortex proves the point. There really is no intelligent life in there. And so on we go, like a runaway bumper car.

From Italy comes The God Emperor Trump, including the Twitter sword

Might just be the best thing the Italians have given us since this

click to embiggen

Jungle Love

And, of course

Mostly, but not all, from PowerLine, as usual

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