We need Columbo to interview candidates

Back in the 1970s, my family loved to watch the weekly detective show called “Columbo” starring Peter Falk. For those who never had the pleasure, Columbo always wore a crumpled up khaki rain coat and drove an old Peugot. He smoked a cigar, or at least had one in his mouth at all times, and looked rather unkempt. Plus, his manner of asking questions seemed like he was not on top of things, but that was part of his charm and his way of disarming suspects. As a result, suspects would give him one piece of information too many and he would solve the case.

He was famous for starting to leave a room and then stopping and scratching his head. He would then say a variation of “oh, one more thing” and ask the question he wanted to ask in the first place. Oh, how I would love for Columbo to interview our presidential candidates on camera. We ask far too few “how” and “why” questions when talking with candidates. They get off way to easy. In fact, one of the candidates is so brazen, that he ridicules you if you ask a question where he obviously does not know the answer. Columbo, would act like he is leaving the room and then stop and ask him the question he really wants to ask.

“One more thing, Mr. Trump. You said filing for bankruptcy is very common. But, help me understand why most companies never file for bankruptcy and very few file for bankruptcy four times.”

“Oh, Dr. Carson. It is doctor, right? You have said you don’t believe in evolution, but help me reconcile that with your being a neurosurgeon. Are you just saying that to get votes or do you really believe that?”

“Senator Clinton, are you absolutely sure, there are no emails on your personal server that had classified information at the time?”

“Ms. Fiorina, help me understand why a Board of Directors would go to great pains to fire you and give you $21 million in severance if they felt that was not in the best interests of the company?”

“Oh, one more thing Senator Cruz, you do not seem very popular in Congress among your own colleagues. Why is that? Can you define grandstander for me?”

“Senator Rubio. I have a problem with some thing. You were part of a bipartisan Senate group that passed a well-received Immigration Bill. Help me understand why you have distanced yourself from your greatest legislative achievement?”

“Governor Bush, help me understand why you hired the same defense advisors that your brother used, when that may have been his Waterloo?”

There are many more questions to be asked to everyone, but especially to some who have a longer list of questions to be answered. Yet, we need Columbo to ferret out the chestbeaters and help find the better leaders. We have many of the former and much fewer of the latter.




The Princess Bride – a movie for all ages

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us together today.” Although this line is picking on people with speech impediments, in the context of the movie “The Princess Bride” it is quite comical, as it is uttered by the┬ámagnificently attired priest who is conducting a wedding service for the bride to her unloved groom. It is so unexpected it becomes farcical. And, that is one of the reasons why this Rob Reiner movie is so entertaining. It does so many unexpected things and all ages will enjoy the story, as narrated by a grandfather, Peter Falk, as he reads to his grandson played by “The Wonder Years” star Fred Savage.

The story fascinates as it begins with true love between a young girl played by Robin Wright in her first movie (before “Forrest Gump” and “House of Cards”) and a farm hand played by Cary Elwes, who would go on to star in “Robin Hood, Men in Tights.” They get separated and she catches the eye of a hated prince played wonderfully by Chris Sarandon. The prince’s greed, though, overtakes his lust and he sends her off for a visit to another land where he asked three interesting hired assassins to kill her, so he can blame the other country and grow his realm.

Without giving away too much of the movie, the Dread Pirate Roberts enters the picture to save her and has to ward off the assassins, the prince’s henchman, and torture. The three assassins are played wonderfully by Wallace Shawn, whose catchphrase is “inconceivable,” Andre the Giant (the former pro-wrestler) and Mandy Patinkin as a swashbuckling Spaniard out for revenge for his father’s death. Andre the Giant turns out to be quite the comedic actor in several scenes. Patinkin’s passion for vengeance is also room for comedy and heroics.

But, other actors play wonderful roles in large cameo parts and other scenes. Billy Crystal and Carol Kane are quite funny playing Miracle Max and his wife. Christopher Guest plays the prince’s henchman quite well, especially as he is inquiring into the pain reactions of the Dread Pirate Roberts in his contrived torture chamber. Mel Smith has a fun cameo as the torturer and Peter Cook, is the magnificent lisping priest.

Yet, the idea to have Falk read the story to Savage makes the movie feel like a fairy tale. Especially when the dream scenes are read and Savage reacts rather annoyed to the story. The story includes perils such as the fire swamp with its ROES, Rodents of Enormous Size, as well as fighting off the talents of three assassins and even overcoming death. We learn the difference between “Mostly Dead” and “Totally Dead” from Miracle Max. Yes, it is silly especially when the future princess is booed by a character played by Margery Mason, which turns out to be one of the dreams that Savage does not care for.

Reiner’s directing and casting of this wonderful movie make it a treat for all ages.┬áHis inclusion of Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits) in developing the soundtrack and writing the best song “Storybook Love,” which was sung by Willy DeVille, makes it even more special. I have tried to stay away from much of the plot for those who have not seen the movie. If you have not and you have children or grandchildren, rent this movie, make some popcorn and turn the lights low. If you have seen it, still follow the above steps, as the kids and all in the family will get a treat.