Hollywood and the World at Large Mourn the Loss of Norm Macdonald

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

This is a line from Joni Mitchell’s hit song “Big Yellow Taxi,” which was written back in 1970.

Mitchell’s words perfectly capture the feelings that a lot of folks are having right now in trying to deal with the passing of Norm Macdonald – Hollywood actor, writer, and most notably, stand-up comic extraordinaire.

Many of his peers are remembering him as the funniest man they’d ever known.

A natural stand-up talent, he followed the universally relatable comedic tradition of observational humor, which has been practiced by so many iconic figures of the comedy world, including the greats Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Jerry Seinfeld.

His career arc took him in a rather novel direction that combined pivotal aspects of life with deadpan minimalism.

He managed to keep his stoic nine-year battle with cancer secret from the public, but on at least one occasion he was able to memorialize his angst in a joke that deals with the whole notion of a person somehow losing the battle with the disease.

“I’m pretty sure, I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure if you die, the cancer dies at the same time. That’s not a loss, that’s a draw,” Norm said.

Developing his stand-up brand in Ottawa, Canada, he made a name for himself across his native land.

After appearing on the television series “Star Search,” he landed a job as a writer for Roseanne Barr’s smash TV series “Roseanne,” which started its run in the 1990’s and is still going strong in syndication.

Speaking of things that are still going, Macdonald was blessed with a stint on Saturday Night Live (SNL), where for a total of five seasons he served as part of the SNL cast.

He ultimately secured the coveted anchor throne on the “Weekend Update” segment of SNL, where he got to reign for three and a half seasons.

He guested on other TV shows, “The Drew Carey Show” and “NewsRadio” being a couple of them.

He appeared in movies too, and became a regular on the talk show circuit with hosts the likes of David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and Howard Stern.

The time-honored joke structure was deftly modified by Norm and his unique form of comedy. He would stretch the set-up section of a joke to the point of audience impatience and would then abruptly spew out a minimalist punch line.

Comics many times serve as the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, sending out a warning to society that it better start paying attention to the critical issues that hover around.

Norm embraced the role. He was a truth teller and wasn’t timid about aiming his humor crossbow at some pretty powerful targets.

On one such occasion his venture into humor, rooted in truth, actually cost him his job.

An NBC executive had reportedly fired him because of a decline in the show’s ratings. But he and others claimed that the dismissal was due to some O. J. Simpson jokes that he had let loose with in the “Weekend Update” segment.

After his termination from the show, he returned to SNL as a host.

Sporting his trademark grin, he used his opening monologue to slam the network for firing him, quipping that the only reason he was asked to come back and host was because the show had “gotten really bad” since his departure.

He was the final stand-up comic to appear on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Letterman had told a specific joke during a 1970s appearance on a Canadian talk show. In the studio audience was a 13-year-old comedy fan, Norm himself.

He loved Letterman’s joke and never forgot it. In tribute, he performed the bit during the last stand-up act of the final Letterman show.

Ending the set with tears rolling down his cheeks, he told Letterman that he loved him.

Interestingly, he exhibited an intellectual depth that is not typically associated with modern day comics – a Christian perspective with a desire to defend it.

A few years ago he used his Twitter account to question the value of the Enlightenment, bringing a predicable reaction from the liberals, who were upset at the prospect that Norm was Christian friendly.

He penned a post, which he later deleted.

“The Enlightenment turned us away from truth and toward a darkling weakening horizon, sad and gray to see. The afterglow of Christianity is near gone now, and a Stygian silence lurks in wait,” Norm wrote.

He was referring to the loss of artistic reverence for the sacred and a move toward human focused post-modernism, which paved the way for a variety of 19th-century movements, most unfortunately, communism.

Once while serving as one of the judges for the NBC reality show “Last Comic Standing,” he had to deal with a contestant who had mocked the Christian faith.

While other judges characterized the contestant’s jokes as “brave,” Norm stated, “I don’t think the Bible jokes are brave at all.”

He went on to tell the audience, “If you think you’re gonna take on an entire religion, you should maybe know what you’re talking about.”

He was later asked why the contestant’s material had bothered him.

“Oh, just the smugness. There are a lot more hack ‘smart’ comedians nowadays and atheist comedians. It’s so dull. To be talking about being an atheist living in West Hollywood is not the bravest stance to take,” he said.

He put out the following tweet in 2017: “Scripture. Faith. Grace. Christ, Glory of God. Smart man says nothing is a miracle. I say everything is.”

C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

Catch your act there, buddy.

Glenn Beck and Fellow Citizens to the Rescue in Afghanistan

On August 18, 2021, syndicated radio talk show host Glenn Beck launched an effort to raise tens of millions of dollars for a non-profit entity called the Nazarene Fund.

The purpose of the fundraising effort was to raise money, which was to be earmarked for an ambitious and highly dangerous task; that being, to try and rescue thousands of Christians and at-risk Afghans following the Biden administration’s abrupt withdrawal of the U.S. military from Afghanistan.

Within a few weeks Beck had reportedly raised more than $30 million. As of this writing, he and his organization have used the funds to save 5,200 people from the group that is holding the innocent captive, the Taliban.

Beck’s daring mission was given a major assist, which arrived in the form of a private jet that would help facilitate the venture to the Middle East. The owner of the aircraft is a familiar name to many of the Christian faithful, televangelist Kenneth Copeland.

Beck used the jet to travel to an undisclosed Middle East location that is serving as a base for the rescue effort.

In a video posted to his Twitter account, Beck shared how immensely grateful he is to the Kenneth Copeland Ministries for providing the airplane that assisted in making the rescue effort possible.

He also indicated that The Nazarene Fund is not being used to pay for his travel costs. Instead, he is paying for his own expenses.

In a Twitter video, Beck discussed the financing of the project.

“We view your money as sacred money. It’s like tithing to me,” he said.

“None of my travels or my team’s travels, none of it is paid for by the Nazarene Fund. I insisted it. Not a single meal, not a cupcake-and yes there will be cupcakes on this trip. Everything is paid personally by me,” Beck noted.

Those who have been saved through his efforts from the clutches of the ruthless have been relocated to a number of undisclosed countries.

In a post on Facebook, he explained that those who had been left behind in Afghanistan had experienced the freedom of “being able to say I’m a Christian” because of the protection provided by the United States.

Tragically, that very protection quickly evaporated prior to their delivery to safety.

“We will not forget those left behind,” Beck said. “Our mission there gets tougher and more dangerous.”

Lord David Alton, a British politician known for his humanitarian efforts, praised Beck for his rescue work.

“As the world abandons Afghan minorities to the Taliban,” Lord Alton wrote, “Glenn Beck — emulating Oscar Schindler — did something about it, putting into practice the injunction to ‘rescue those who are being taken away to death…and those stumbling to the slaughter.’”

Beck is part of a valiant effort, one, however, that sadly is not being conducted by our government but instead by private individuals and groups

An example of the type of non-governmental efforts that are taking place is an operation called “Pineapple Express,” in which a volunteer group of U.S. military veterans have been assisting hundreds of Afghan elite forces and their families to exit Afghanistan.

A leader of the effort, retired Green Beret commander Lt. Col. Scott Mann, provided an explanation to ABC News regarding the operation.

“Dozens of high-risk individuals, families with small children, orphans, and pregnant women, were secretly moved through the streets of Kabul throughout the night and up to just seconds before ISIS detonated a bomb into the huddled mass of Afghans seeking safety and freedom,” Lt. Col. Mann stated.

Rescue efforts have become even more urgent in light of the reports that the Taliban has been preventing planes containing American passengers from leaving the country.

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has said that he received classified briefings indicating that American citizens and Afghan allies are stuck at an airport in northern Afghanistan and have been unable to leave, despite approval from the State Department.

“In fact we have six airplanes at Mazar-i-Sharif airport, six airplanes, with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now,” McCaul told Fox News.

As Virginia Rep. Rob Wittman recently told Newsmax’s “Wake Up America,” the U.S. citizens left behind by their own nation are “hostages by any definition.”

“Here’s the Taliban trying to shake down the United States,” Rep. Wittman said. “By any measure, you would say they’re being held as hostages. That needs to be addressed immediately.”

Unfortunately, the only hope for those left behind right now seems to be in the hands of private citizens who are willing to take matters into their own hands, just like Beck has done.

In a recent Instagram post, he criticized the Biden administration for its inaction.

“Biden will only take people [that] the cartels will charge, exploit and rape. Certainly, not those other people that are marked for death because of his policies,” Beck stated.

As his Afghanistan rescue efforts began to show real results, Beck posted a rallying cry on his Facebook page for those private citizens and organizations engaging in the difficult, but noble pursuit of delivering their fellow human beings from evil.

“America does care! America does not leave her own and the most vulnerable behind. WE CAN DO IT AS THE POWER IS WITH THE PEOPLE. We are America not our government. When they can’t do it, private citizens step to the plate,” the post read.

Larry Elder: From South Central to Sacramento?

When it comes to the recall election that is presently taking place in California, Larry Elder could beat the odds and actually unseat current Governor Gavin Newsom.

Analysts from both sides of the political aisle are expressing amazement at Elder’s rapid rise in the polls.

His emergence bears a remarkable similarity to another outsider candidate, who happened to have been a recipient of Elder’s ardent support at the time – number 45 himself, former President Donald J. Trump.

Like Trump back in the 2016 GOP presidential primary, Elder has managed to quickly eclipse his electoral competition, establishing his candidacy as the preferred choice of voters who are longing for a new occupant of the Golden State’s governor’s mansion.

Elder has something else in common with the former president, which may give him an edge over other candidates. It’s called star power.

The man is an accomplished attorney, bestselling author, newspaper columnist, nationally syndicated talk radio show host, and well known television personality.

His celebrity profile has continued to rise over the decades.

For years he enjoyed great In addition to being success as a talk radio show host who covered Hollywood, politics, and the culture. As many talk radio hosts do, Elder became the voice of the friend you count on to keep you updated, keep you entertained, and keep you company on your daily drive.

In addition to radio, television took a liking to him as well. In the late 1980s, he co-hosted a TV show that aired on Cleveland’s PBS member station WVIZ.

Then in the late 1990s, he hosted a PBS national telecast with well known news personalities Fred Barnes and Laura Ingraham.

Additionally, he hosted a TV court series, which aired in the 2000s.

He snagged an Emmy Award in 2000 for a KCAL-TV news special.

From 2000 to 2001, he hosted a syndicated television series called “Moral Court,” which was distributed by Warner Brothers Television as a sibling show to “The People’s Court.”

It was the only courtroom oriented show to deal with ethics and morality, as opposed to focusing on the law alone. Elder himself served as judge.

The series continued in syndication until 2006, and was also carried on ION Television in 2007.

Making the leap to the big screen arena in 2005, he produced and starred in a documentary film called “Michael & Me.” It was a powerful rebuttal to filmmaker and political activist Michael Moore’s documentary “Bowling for Columbine.”

In 2020, Elder became executive producer, co-writer, and star of the highly successful documentary “Uncle Tom.” Currently in post-production is the sequel “Uncle Tom Part II.”

If Elder were to become California’s next governor, he would join the ranks of those whose names appear on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: the late great former president Ronald Reagan and the Hollywood actor-turned-Golden State Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

After admiring his professionalism and talent as an entertainer, and simultaneously enjoying the radio ride, I got to appear as a guest on his talk radio show when it aired on KABC in Los Angeles. It furthered deepened my appreciation for him as a colleague and as an individual.

I later had the opportunity to introduce him when he spoke at the Nixon Library.

Much like others who have had the privilege to get to know the man better, I am of the opinion that he is a master when it comes to communicating ideas and a quintessential professional when it comes to preparedness, decisiveness, and judgment.

Elder is well known on the Left Coast as “The Sage from South Central.”

He grew up in a part of Los Angeles where most folks would be unfamiliar with restaurants the likes of the “French Laundry” and wholly uninterested in those who try to impress others by putting on airs.

Raised by a Marine sergeant father, who worked as a janitor and eventually ran his own café restaurant, as well as a mother who worked as a government clerk, Elder was instilled with the same work ethic that his parents had modeled for him.

In his youth, Elder excelled as an honor student at Crenshaw High School. Later in life he became a practicing attorney. He set up an attorney search firm and eventually ventured into multimedia.

He has recently managed to garner almost twice the Wikipedia traffic that Newsom is receiving, a sign that many people are interested in obtaining more information on the man who just might become Governor Sage from South Central.

He clearly caught the attention of the Democratic Party and of those who are involved in the anti-recall effort.

Plain and direct speaking on subjects such as soaring crime rates, widespread homelessness, and a growing economic chaos will do that.

But Elder is wise to the politics of personal destruction that are being deployed against him, and he is not deterred.

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber kicked off the assault on him. His name was curiously omitted from the list of candidates that was supposed to appear on the ballot. The claim was that he had failed to submit complete tax return information as required by law.

Elder filed a lawsuit, which resulted in a Sacramento County judge determining that Weber had improperly disqualified him. The judge promptly ordered that Elder’s name be placed back on the ballot.

Ever since the announcement of his candidacy, many establishment media outlets have let loose with a barrage of negative hit pieces, some that even characterize the African-American man from South Central Los Angeles as a bigot.

Paradoxically, the attacks seem to be strengthening Elder’s already prominent name recognition and may ultimately even be improving his chances of gubernatorial victory.

Travis Tritt’s Quarter Notes

Travis Tritt has a brand to which very few musical artists can lay claim.

He’s one of the original country music singer-songwriters to combine country rock with urban soul.

For decades the double Grammy winner has been topping the charts, churning out hits that include “Country Club,” “Anymore,” “Can I Trust You With My Heart,” “Foolish Pride,” and “Best of Intentions.”

But his signature song, “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares),” paints a bigger picture, one that speaks volumes about a man who values dignity over concession and principle over popularity.

Tritt’s musical talents were nurtured in his youth. He grew up listening to the Sunday school choir at his church and eventually joined the church band, performing at other nearby houses of worship.

Much like the lyrics in his songs, his verbal communication is simple and straightforward.

He recently shared his perspective on some of the current vaccination policies that are being implemented within the entertainment industry and in certain municipalities.

“In light of recently announced policies and mandates from some entertainment companies, promoters, and local municipalities which would discriminate against specific concert attendees who are not vaccinated, I feel compelled to make a statement,” Tritt said in a press release provided to the media.

Although not specifically singled out by Tritt, the largest concert promoters in the country recently announced some unprecedented medical mandate requirements for concert attendees.

Live Nation has placed conditions on those who wish to attend concerts. Beginning Oct.1, only those who are fully vaccinated, or those who are able to produce a negative test prior to an event, will be admitted.

And for all concertgoers and employees, AEG Presents is calling for full vaccinations, with no testing options, beginning Oct. 4.

Tritt is currently in the midst of a tour called the Brooks & Dunn Reboot Tour, which runs through Oct. 9 and is being promoted by Live Nation.

In his press release, Tritt chose to focus on the rights of individuals in making their own medical decisions.

“I have always been a huge defender of basic human rights and liberty for all. No government, employer, or private entity should ever be allowed to infringe on those rights and liberties,” he explained.

In response to the proliferation of inoculation mandates, he views unvaccinated persons as being discriminated against by the policies.

Tritt is fully supporting “anyone who is willing to publicly stand against discrimination and the squelching of any specific freedoms and basic human rights around the world.”

He concluded his statement with the following quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Although some fans may not be happy with the ideas that Tritt has expressed, this musical artist is no stranger to controversy.

On the night of the 2020 election, he blasted Fox News for the network’s early call of voting results in the state of Arizona prior to officials having tabulated all of the votes.

“No matter what the final results are tonight, one thing is extremely clear. @FoxNews can no longer claim to be the fair and balanced network they once were. There are a lot of biased hacks there now and a ton of folks are noticing. It’s now @newsmax for me for election results,” he tweeted.

Last May Tritt released his first studio album since 2007, titled “Set in Stone.”

In his recent single from the album, “Ghost Town Nation,” he sings about how “headlines are preaching impending doom.”

Then he prescribes a countrified remedy, with the following positive lyrics:

“Making the best of a bad situation

Getting by just fine in a ghost town nation.”

In a revealing recent appearance on the Jesus Calling podcast, Tritt opened up about his deeply held religious beliefs.

“My mother and sister and I were in church every single time the doors were open. … I grew up with the understanding of what God meant to my family’s life, to my life. We had Bible study on a regular basis. It was a great place to build the foundation for the rest of your life,” Tritt said.

He also noted in the podcast that when difficult situations arise (which incidentally are often the subject of his song lyrics), answers may be best received when we’re on our knees.

“The power of prayer is extremely strong. I believe in it 100 percent. I know what it’s capable of. I know what God’s capable of. And if we bring those things to Him in prayer, He will not leave us and He will not forsake us,” Tritt shared.

The Queen of Soul Credits the King of Kings in New Biopic

Aretha Franklin is recognized by multiple generations as the “Queen of Soul.”

Now there’s a biopic that immortalizes her title.

The newly released film “Respect” follows in the cinematic footsteps of other recent biopics that have been shining the spotlight on legendary Hollywood figures, including “Ray” (Ray Charles), “Rocket Man” (Elton John), and “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen’s Freddie Mercury).

Moving from the young musical prodigy who grew up in Detroit to the seasoned soul singer who returns to her religious roots, the film beautifully conveys Aretha’s life and artistry.

Director Liesl Tommy explains that the film begins “with the church and ends with the church.”

The opening scene features a venue in Detroit in which Aretha first performs as a choir member. It is the same Baptist church where her father, C.L. Franklin, is recognized in his own right as a renowned pastor.

Much like his church, the doors of Pastor Franklin’s home are open. He is host to singers that include the legendary figures Dinah Washington and Sam Cooke. Young Aretha simply knows them as Aunt Dinah and Uncle Sam.

The African-American church where Aretha’s voice first takes to the heavens holds a unique place in American religious history. It is a holy place that provided sanctuary to an oppressed people as they went from slavery to freedom, and then from segregation to civil rights.

The gathering of a faith-filled people, who sought to express love to their Creator and to one another, produced a new genre of music, the joyous gospel style that ultimately made its way around the globe.

The gospel tradition also generated an amazing number of soul stars, who began their singing careers praising God in African-American churches. The church celebrity roster included Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Dennis Edwards, Lou Rawls, Diana Ross, Curtis Mayfield, Donna Summer, Little Richard, John Legend, Usher, Otis Redding (who actually penned the title song “Respect”), and the Academy Award winning actress and Grammy winning singer (who was hand-picked by Aretha to portray her) Jennifer Hudson.

In the final years of her life, Aretha was a mentor to a young Hudson. Providentially, the two shared the same debut performance venue, both having begun their musical experiences in the church.

“Our biggest base and foundation as a people has been the church,” Hudson tells Refinery29.

“It’s every bit of my life,” she says. “It’s every bit of what has brought me through everything that I’ve been through. … It was so amazing to start in the church and end in the church.”

“It shows that that’s where the power lies, within those roots,” Hudson explains.

With respect to Aretha, Hudson notes, “It wasn’t until she trusted the gift that God instilled in her that we found our Queen of Soul. And it wasn’t until when she went back to her roots, that she gained her greatest success. It lies within us, you know?”

“Respect” was released theatrically this past weekend.

The studio had originally planned a three-phase release for the biopic, with a limited number of screens for Christmas of 2020 to be followed by an increase in screens on January 8, 2021, and a wide release a week later.

Like so many other Hollywood projects, plans for the debut had to be changed due to the pandemic. The film was re-scheduled to a single release date of January 15, 2021, but was delayed once again to August of 2021.

Some themes and complexities of Aretha’s life are explored in the film, including her support of the civil rights movement and of her family friend, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the difficulties experienced with her first two managers, i.e., her father (played by Forest Whitaker) and her first husband Ted White (played by Marlon Wayans).

Wayans understands how Aretha was able to overcome her problems.

“God gets you through,” Wayans tells The Christian Post. “There is nothing that you can go through that you cannot get through. If you have God on your heart and you’re in His hands, just know that He’s protecting you.”

Hudson remembers that Aretha influenced others to pray and to continue “holding on to their faith and trusting God through it all.”

Like her mentor, Hudson now encourages those around her to turn to prayer.

“As they say, if He’ll bring you to it, He’ll bring you through it because that’s what I do. So I would always encourage others to do the same for sure,” she says.

The film shows a redemptive turning point for Aretha, when she shocks her record label by deciding to record a live gospel album.

Aretha’s decision invokes a scene in the film that has her mother, Barbara Siggers Franklin, telling her daughter, “Your daddy doesn’t own your voice, God does.”

Hudson acknowledges that both she and Aretha do not have ownership of their talents.

“I learned at a very early age, growing up singing in church, that it’s beyond you, and who you are. I feel as though as long as I hold on to that, it keeps you grounded in a way,” she explains.

Hudson, like her mentor now from above, sees her singing ability as coming, not from herself, but from “a higher power.”

Clint Eastwood: Still the Leading Man

The legendary Clint Eastwood is still producing, directing, and starring in films at the thriving age of 91.

His latest movie is set to be released in mid-September, and a concurrent release is headed to HBO Max.

The Warner Bros. movie, titled “Cry Macho,” is an adaptation of the 1975 novel of the same name.

Eastwood portrays former rodeo star and horse breeder Mike Milo, who takes a job from ex-boss Howard Polk, played by actor-country music singer Dwight Yoakam.

Mike’s job is to bring Howard’s young son Rafo safely home from Mexico and shield him from his alcohol addicted mother.

The improbable duo of Mike and Rafo face a challenging journey through which Mike experiences a transformation that sets him on a course toward redemption.

Interestingly, Eastwood was able to snag the project after a list of big-name actors, who had been attached to the project as leads, were unable to make a go of it, including Burt Lancaster, Roy Scheider, Pierce Brosnan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The recently released official trailer features the Hollywood icon portraying an appropriately aged character that is perfectly suited to Eastwood’s classic style and inimitable brand.

Through the eyes of the heart, viewers of the film accompany Eastwood’s character on a journey of exploration into some of life’s intensely introspective issues: human relationships, masculinity, and inner conflict.

When a screenwriter someday pens the script for an Eastwood bio, the writer will find that his life is much like the films he has graced, filled with uniquely captivating themes.

Eastwood is a legend among legends. He possesses the kind of star quality that is associated with actors of the Golden Age of Cinema. Yet he continues to retain an air of approachability, along with the much-admired quality of a loyal truth-telling friend.

He has an amazing body of work, which spans more than six decades and credentials him in the multiple categories of acting, directing, and producing. Accolades include four Academy Awards and four Golden Globes.

His career began with a role in a 1955 sequel to the cult monster movie “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” The debut film carries the title “Revenge of the Creature.”

He achieved a high degree of fame in 1958, when he starred in the CBS hour-long western series “Rawhide,” which ran for eight seasons.

In the mid-1960s, fame made its leap to the international level. He secured the lead role as the “Man with No Name” in a series of movies made by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone. The films garnered the enduring nickname of “Spaghetti Westerns.”

It would be his role as discontented police officer Harry Callahan, a.k.a., Dirty Harry, that would make Eastwood a genuine Hollywood superstar and unmitigated cultural icon.

The Dirty Harry movies became a successful franchise with five hit films in the 1970s and 1980s.

As an artist, Eastwood seems to have followed the advice of Dirty Harry himself from the 1973 film “Magnum Force.”

“A man has to know his limitations,” Callahan says.

In life, if you are aware of your limitations, you tend to capitalize on your strengths. This is Eastwood at his best.

Throughout his career, he appears to have applied this adage to perfection. I would sum up this methodology, relative to his career, in one word – minimalism.

It is an understated approach to the art of acting, which frequently involves another rare attribute, that of humility.

Eastwood illustrated the minimalism approach in his decision to forego involvement in the “James Bond” franchise. After longtime “Bond” actor Sean Connery announced that he would no longer play the lead, Eastwood was offered the starring role, an opportunity that most actors would have found extremely difficult, if not impossible, to turn down.

However, he felt strongly about the necessity for the “Bond” character to be portrayed by a British actor. He ended up passing on the role.

As a fellow musician, I have the sense that across his career Eastwood’s musical proficiency has helped to draw him into the minimalism realm, where the apparent limitations of space and silence actually assist in magnifying the surrounding notes, words, and/or visuals.

It turns out that Eastwood was originally going to pursue a career in music and is a longtime aficionado of jazz and country and western music. His love of jazz appears to have been passed on to his son Kyle, who is a talented jazz bassist and composer in his own right.

Eastwood composed the film scores for a host of his movies, including “Mystic River,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “Changeling,” and “Hereafter.” He wrote original piano compositions for “In the Line of Fire” as well as the song heard over the credits of “Gran Torino,” which features the actor singing.

In his honor, the scoring stage at Warner Bros. Studios was renamed the “Eastwood Scoring Stage.”

Many actors talk the talk of politics, but Eastwood dares to enter the arena. He made the decision to run for Mayor of California’s Carmel-by-the-Sea, a city with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats.

His campaign staff did a measure of the city, and it turned out to be a 50/50 split along party lines.

“I was a Republican, but people never thought about their parties except at the national level,” Eastwood told the Wall Street Journal.

His campaign strategy was simple and direct, much like the movie characters he portrays.

“I drank a lot of tea and chatted with people,” he said. “I told people ‘I’ll fix this, and I’ll fix that.’”

He ended up the victor in the contest, with 2,166 votes to 799 votes, and served a single two-year term, choosing not to seek re-election.

With words reminiscent of his iconic alter-ego Dirty Harry, Eastwood shed some light on his decision not to run again:

“You can’t have the same old people in office all the time.”

Michael Rapaport at the Crossroads of Hollywood and Politics

In addition to enjoying some big-time name recognition as a Hollywood actor, Michael Rapaport is also famous for expressing aloud exactly what is on his mind.

He is a celebrity of the “woke” kind, and for years he has gone about establishing his bonafides by taking positions that line up perfectly with his liberal Hollywood colleagues.

Having appeared in scores of films and an assortment of television fare (including the wildly successful “Friends,” “Prison Break,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Boston Public”), Rapaport is currently featured in the Netflix offering “Atypical.”

Intriguingly, he seems to have recently made a u-turn with regard to his perspective on the Biden administration.

The actor shared, via Twitter, some of his heavy duty frustration with the Biden administration’s present approach to the addressing of public health concerns and issuing of attendant recommended protocols.

Those who have already received seemingly protective shots “… are spreading Covid! That’s the new news of the day! I’m ranted out,” Rapaport writes.

In an additional tweet that appears to take direct aim at his otherwise esteemed mentor Dr. Anthony Fauci, Rapaport sounds more like fellow thespian Kirstie Alley than Hollywood-minded colleague Ted Danson.

He encourages people to take a trip down Memory Lane and try to recall a time “… when Phil Jackson left the Lakers? Bill Parcels left the Giants?”

Then he implies that now may be the time for Dr. Fauci to exit the spotlight, adding, “It’s all white noise at this point.”

The culmination of his frustration was on display in a TicTok video that he posted on his Twitter account, one in which he appears to experience a fairly dramatic emotional meltdown.

The title caption of the post reads: “Am I a Hero or a Super Spreader?”

Making no effort to suppress his feelings, he boldly blurts, “Figure this sh** out!”

In the video footage, Rapaport appears to be both angry and appalled to discover that information he had previously been relying upon was incorrect.

Continuing with a profanity laced outburst, he laments his personal predicament, which has been created by the mixed messages and shifting recommendations coming from myriad public health officials.

He also talks about falling from hero status to the rank level of a super spreader, using expletives to apparently lend more power to his emotion-packed words.

His change of attitude may have been brought on by the Biden administration’s reversal of its mask policy.

National mask mandates had been lifted in May of this year. However, public health leaders pivoted and recommended that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear face masks indoors in specified regions across the country.

Dr. Fauci indicated that the change was due to the Delta variant’s alleged increased transmissibility. The doctor also revealed that recent data indicate, when a vaccinated person becomes infected with the Delta variant, the level of virus in the upper part of the pharynx, which is connected to nasal passages, is about 1,000 times higher than when infected with the initial Alpha variant.

Reactions to Rapaport’s comments caused a Twitter explosion on both sides of the political and ideological aisles.

Still, he isn’t shying away from sharing his views with fellow Hollywood neighbors and others.

Interestingly, though, the actor is in the thick of a quasi-political power struggle for a leadership position in Hollywood’s most influential organization, the celebrity drenched labor union SAG-AFTRA.

Involvement as a union leader is actually what led the late great President Ronald Reagan to enter the world of politics.

Two major “parties” currently exist: The incumbent “Unite for Strength” party, whose ticket is headed by sitcom actress and SAG-AFTRA presidential hopeful Fran Drescher; and the upstart “Membership First” party that offers actor Matthew Modine as its presidential contender.

National board candidates for “Unite for Strength” include outgoing union president Gabrielle Carteris, and actors Shari Belafonte and Camryn Manheim.

“Membership First” candidates who are running for seats on the national board include actors Sharon Stone, Stephanie Powers, Sean Astin, Brad Garret, and Rapaport himself.

As part of the “Unite for Strength” party, Rapaport, in his official campaign statement, warns voting members of the following: “SAG-AFTRA is OUR UNION! We need to protect it and ourselves.”