I got "whooshed" by Al Franken

Al Franken came to give a talk at Cal Tech this past week, promoting his book “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them”. After his talk, a lot of fanboys and fangirls lined up to pose mostly laudatory and adoring “questions,” so I decided to be more critical.

I said, “Good evening, Mr.Franken. Toward the end of your book, you tell about your ambivalent feelings about the then-impending Iraq war, even to the extent of doing a show for ClearChannel and cracking jokes about the Dixie Chicks. A lot of us don’t like ClearChannel, especially in light of the recent FCC decision. So, have you changed or moderated your views, about ClearChannel or about the war?”

Franken replied drily, “The ClearChannel concert was satirical.”

He then read from that chapter of his book, using his voice to make it as funny as possible, and then said, “I think it’s clear that that show never happened. I was making the point that we were all being deceived, directly or indirectly. Did you really think that was true?” All I could do was shrug my shoulders and feel like just as much a big fat idiot as Rush Limbaugh.

Later, another audience member came forward and told Al, “That man told me his question was also satirical.” Al replied, “So was my answer.” Then, in a more serious vein, he added, “I figured that out about halfway through.”

(Actually, it wasn’t true. My question really was serious, not satirical. I didn’t even know that other audience member, let alone talk to him.)

So, I got whooshed and sorta made fun of by a celebrity. But I am comforted by the thought that he may believe he got whooshed by me.


I’m jealous. I bet he was much more interesting a speaker than stupid Noam Chomsky.

Well, he did do a great Dick Cheney impression. (Instantly recognizable before even a word had been spoken.)

You’re proud of seeing Al Franken? Ick.

I had a panic attack the only time I had an opportunity to speak to Noam Chomsky, and nearly passed out. My carefully-prepared question (which I’ve now forgotten altogether) turned into a garbled mess. I kept losing track of where I was in the sentence and tripping over my tongue. At the end of it, Professor Chomsky delicately said, “I’m not entirely sure I understand what you’re trying to ask, but if it’s [perfectly concise paraphrase of my original question apparently divined by inference based on the individual words in it, in spite of their being given in no particular order], then it seems to me that…”

I hope that his answer proved edifying to the other folks in the auditorium, because I was too preoccupied with my inner monologue of “Oh crap, Noam Chomsky thinks I’m an idiot now. I am an idiot. Noam Chomsky knows I’m an idiot. The woman I’m with knows I’m an idiot. Everyone in this building knows I’m an idiot. Oh my god – did my heart just stop? I can’t feel my legs!” to really focus on it.

Not really my finest moment, that.

Gotta tell you, Larry: You’re one of the most interesting people on this board. I’m glad you post.

Bwahahah, that was beautiful, Larry. Perfect inner voice impression. When I was a kid, I went to a play with my family in which William Shatner starred. At the time, Star Trek was still relatively new and I just thought he was soooooooooo cute. After the play was over he came out and took questions from the audience. He was very casual, comfortable, funny and not the least bit threatening. I had my hand raised, just because, and he not only picked me, he called me “dear”. That was it. My question was stupid, I tripped over one of the words and stood there with the heat rising to my ears, not hearing a single word he said in response. Inner voice crying the whole time because now he would realize I was just a stupid kid. I was ten or eleven at the time. It didn’t seem to occur to me that he might have figured that out regardless.

Larry, that is closest I’ve ever come to showering my monitor with coffee.

And if it takes Chomsky to make you look like an idion, you’re pretty hot.

Golly, thanks folks. I may have to replace all my hats. :o