TUESDAY, May 11, 2010

WASHINGTON (BBC) - President Obama has named Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace the retiring John Paul Stevens on the US Supreme Court.  Despite her impeccable academic credentials, Republican lawmakers are already objecting to her lack of judicial experience -- she’s never addressed litigants or grilled attorneys  from the bench.  But then neither has Clarence Thomas so she should be okay.    

YUMA, AZ (AP) - Investigating an outbreak of E. coli in three states, FDA agents traced the infection to a lettuce farm that had shipped produce to fast food chains where the victims were known to have eaten.  ACLU attorneys immediately filed suit accusing the government of bacterially profiling Ronald McDonald, Colonel Sanders and the clown at Jack in the Box.

LONDON (BBC) - Using a complex scoring system, scientists report in the Journal Conservation that they determined that the brown rat inflicts the greatest damage on the world’s ecology, impacting 5% of its gross product.   Also ranked among the world’s most toxic mammals were sika deer, muskrats, and executives from British Petroleum. 

HOLLYWOOD (AP) - “Babies,“ a new documentary from Focus Features which follows the first year of children from five different countries including Namibia, Korea and the US, graphically demonstrates how similar raising kids is throughout the world.  On the day following all five births, the parents of each mailed in their applications to Harvard.  

MOSCOW (BBC) - Providing graphic evidence that the Cold War is over, military troops from Great Britain, the U.S. and France joined 10,500 Russian troops marching in Red Square to celebrate the defeat of the Nazis in World War II.  Adding to the festive air of international cooperation were military bands, tanks, missiles, planes, and giant inflatable balloons of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Herman Goering.

Excerpted From THE LAUGH MAKERS   (page 254)

(Continued from yesterday…) Shortly, word arrived directly from the palace — since preparations for the gala were set and invitations sent out, postponing the performance, ruled the monarch, would cause world-class headaches all around. The show, as they say, must go on. Where this old saw originated, I have no idea, but there are instances where it flies in the face of common sense, and this was, undoubtedly, one of them. Picture, if you will, taping the Colgate Comedy Hour just three days following the death of John Kennedy. Same problem — similar reaction. The entire Swedish nation had been plunged into mourning. On our drive from the airport, we could see people lining the street, carrying candles and placing bouquets of flowers at the spot on the frozen sidewalk where the popular prime minister had fallen. A pall hung over the capital — literally and figuratively.  Ships in the harbor stood at anchor, rigid and icebound — prisoners of a climate that almost half the year chills the bones and, one suspects, is no small contributor to the highest suicide rate in all of Scandinavia. 

But forget all that. The assembled glitterati applauded dutifully as the king and queen were escorted to the royal box. The show began with a rambling, largely incomprehensible introduction of Hope by Swedish actress Liv Ullman. It was obvious that she would have preferred being somewhere else, and who wouldn’t?  Hope did his best to deliver his monologue, but had about as much luck getting laughs as an atheist at a Southern Baptist Convention. The evening’s slate of performers — Boy George and the Culture Club, Omar Sharif , Dolf Lundgren and Scott Grimes as well as Glen, Emanuel and Shirley — carried on like the pros they are, but the project was doomed from the start. It was like watching the lounge act on the Hindenburg. It was a wake with entertainment.  We had written a sketch that cast Hope and Emmanuel Lewis, dressed in reindeer pelts and horned helmets, as a pair of Vikings on their annual spring plunder. As Gene Perret and I stood offstage, puzzled why our pillage jokes were drawing gasps, one of the Swedish technicians pointed out that we had named Hope’s character, Olaf. In the confusion, no one had caught what now appeared to be an insensitive joke. During a break, we told Hope what had happened and he immediately called a halt to the proceedings and apologized to the audience. 

When our Swedish fiasco finally concluded and we were winging home to a much warmer Los Angeles, I remember thinking back — I should have known from the start that the trip would turn out to be jinxed. Excited over my first junket to a Scandinavian country, I arrived at LAX sans passport!  A messenger from the Hope office was dispatched to deliver it, but to avoid a delayed departure, a representative from the airline soon arrived and announced that my California drivers license would do the trick! My passport would follow on the next flight — without me. I learned later that Sweden had waived their usual customs requirements because I was on a special assignment for the king!  Proving once again that it pays to work for someone who’s close to kings.

Tomorrow:  Another unexpected death disrupts the Bob Hope Show.

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