Someone to watch: Rachel Rollar

I happened to catch Rob Schmitt‘s broadcast early this morning on Newsmax, and he introduced two new members of his team there, one of which is Rachel Rollar.  Both new team members were excellent but Rachel was showcased a big more, and she definitely stood out as smart, quick-witted, and clever – definitely someone to watch.  I’m just posting about this now because I have a hunch that we’ll see her star rise bigtime, and I’ve seen this sort of thing before.

One example: years ago I was watching live coverage one weekend of the ongoing DC sniper incidents, when I caught a compelling report from a weekend fill-in MSNBC reporter who wouldn’t say her name. It drove me crazy, so I asked friends with connections at MSNBC and got her email address and her name – it was Natalie Morales, long before she joined the Today show. I remember emailing her and praising her work and reminder her – say your name!  She graciously responded and we’ve stayed in touch over the years, through 9/11 and later.

And then there was an early morning local DC area newscaster who came on at 5 am who I knew had big things in store for her.  She did share her name freely on the air – Carol Costello – and it was easier to email her and praise her work and let her know I could tell big things were in store for her.  I’m not sure how long it was before she joined CNN – maybe a year or two?  I’m not sure.

My point: I got the same sense this morning from the work of Rachel Rollar.  Her future looks bright!

Stray Cats / Brian Setzer Orchestra: Rock This Town

I love Brian Setzer‘s spirit, energy, guitar work, and his brilliance in merging rockabilly with big band sounds, this is a taste of it. If you only have about 90 seconds or so, you can skip to the 3:30 mark and get a sense of what this is all about:

I finally got a chance to see the Brian Setzer Orchestra for their Christmas 2018 tour, and loved it so much I got 2019 tickets as soon as they were available, I had AWESOME seats.  But unfortunately the tour was cancelled – Brian was diagnosed with severe tinnitus. Hopefully he’ll recover – the original Stray Cats are just now releasing a new album so that’s a good sign. There’s no tour that I know of, but this is the age of COVID-19 and we’re still in the midst of the pandemic, so I wouldn’t expect one.  In the meantime, you can enjoy that video and many others – look for the Brian Setzer Orchestra, especially from their Christmas tours.

The real point of “La La Land”

SPOILER ALERT, FIRST WARNING: The last section of this article is titled “THE REAL POINT OF LA LA LAND and contains comments that might give away some aspects of the ending of the film. I try to avoid stating the ending in plain language, but you will likely figure out the basics if you read that section. Fair warning.

The 2016 movie is a celebrated musical that won a slew of awards, (seven Golden Globes, six Oscars), and is often described as a “romantic drama”. It tells the story of two young people struggling to get ahead in Hollywood, who meet and encourage each other’s aspirations while they get involved with each other romantically. It is an absolutely fantastic musical, with fun and beautifully memorable music and lyrics of all kinds. Here is the trailer:

The movie features one of my all-time favorite scenes of any kind in a movie. After Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) have become aware of each other by literally bumping into each other – sort of – Mia spots Sebastian in a band performing at a Hollywood summer pool party, here is the scene:

The scene initially features a character named Carlo who plays a talkative Hollywood wannabe writer who is portrayed by the real life Jason Fuchs who really is the writer of Wonder Woman, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and other smash hit movies, yet you’d really have to look to find out that tidbit of information; it’s a joke that is made funnier by how subtle it is.

But the heart of the scene is when Mia requests the band to play I Ran (So Far Away), the top ten hit from the 1980’s iconic Flock of Seagulls. It is a great song but there is no question the keyboard riff it features is about as simplistic as you can get, it’s largely a simple scale. In other words, for the pretentious Sebastian, it is about as insulting a song request as possible, a fact that is obviously intended by Mia and not at all lost on Sebastian, who is forced by circumstances to initially pretend to be emotionally moved by the simple scale, after which he seeks out Mia and confront her on the obvious taunt. The entire scene might be something only a musician can appreciate – especially a musician familiar with 1980’s pop music. I love it.

SPOILER ALERT, SECOND WARNING: FROM THIS POINT ON you might encounter hints that give away the ending of the movie. Proceed at your own risk.


I think a lot of people misunderstand La La Land. This scene, which is the second song into the film, tells you the point of the story.

That song is called “Someone in The Crowd” and is about four aspiring actresses going out for a night on the town in Hollywood hoping to meet someone who might be influential in their various budding careers – someone in the crowd might just be the person who can lift up their careers. As the movie progresses, Mia – one of the four – gets generally bored or frustrated with the party and leaves, and on the way home stumbles on a unique musical sound that draws her into a club where she meets Sebastian. And as the story progresses, it becomes apparently that Sebastian is that “someone in the crowd”, only he wasn’t at the party – yet if she hadn’t decided to go out that fateful evening, she wouldn’t have met him, so in a way – he absolutely was that “someone”.

In the four years since La La Land was released, I have read countless articles that go on endlessly about the romance between Mia and Sebastian, and where the romance goes, or doesn’t go, and why the film is or isn’t great because of the romance. I have friends who love the music – everyone does – but some get frustrated over various aspects of the romance, and how they think a romantic film should evolve and where it should go.

But I have never seen anyone speak accurately to what the film itself is saying.

This isn’t film about a romance. It is a film about two aspiring Hollywood types who encourage each other to realize their professional dreams. They might happen to have a romance along the way. But the romance isn’t the point. Their professional aspects are the focal point of the film.

If you listen to the film’s “Someone in The Crowd” song and realize that Sebastian is Mia’s “someone”, the entire movie makes perfect sense. I am surprised that I haven’t seen that rather obvious point established in any reviews I’ve read.

And the music is fantastic. This movie deserves all the awards it has received. Great, great film.

Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian) – Paul Revere & The Raiders, from 1971

This is one of my favorite songs from the 1970’s:

That’s “Indian Reservation”, with the subtitle “The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian”.  It was by a band called Paul Revere & The Raiders, and I’ve loved that song since I was a kid. The lead singer is Mark Lindsay. Wikipedia reports that he says he is one-eighth Cherokee, although there’s no citation behind that, and this one edit is the only edit attributed to the anonymous Wikipedia editor behind the assertion.

Regardless, it’s a great song. And recently I learned that it was a remake.  An earlier version of this song was performed by Marvin Rainwater in 1959:

I think I prefer the version by the Raiders.

– 30 –

Gee I don’t know why their customers felt unappreciated.

The Washington Post publication “Express”, intended for Washington DC subway riders and given away free of charge, ended publication yesterday.  (See DC’s free commuter paper ‘Express’ ends run with shot at smart phones.)

The final front page displayed a large headline:

“Hope you enjoy your stinkin’ phones”


My first thought when I saw this headline was that it reminded me of those shopping mall kiosk sales people who physically step in front of you to try to get you to stop and buy something, but then if you walk around them they cuss you out and spit at you as you go on about your business. And in my mind I’m thinking – quite sincerely – “well I was going to stop by on my way back to my car if I can get through the Apple store with time to spare before I have to get to work … but not now.”

Technology doesn’t compete with you, it merely enables competition. And if your customers are happy, they won’t leave. Radio still survives.

When Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post (owner of Express) in 2013 the company was in trouble. I was with some Post employees then and one said something like “good – we can keep doing what we’re doing” because “he won’t care that we’re losing money.”

Really? OK, Maybe, Bezos is, after all, a billionaire. And he had been willing to lose money with Amazon for years – but for an objective. What’s the objective with the Post? Did he have one? Maybe he would be willing to lose money indefinitely …

Not with the Post’s Express.