Saturday, March 16, 2019


"The Oscars" with no host rang a doomful bell, for Conan O'Brien.
He told the New York Times reporter who was interviewing him, "There was no host last night, and the show did better! Ratings were up eleven percent. So today, people were saying, ‘Maybe we don’t need a host anymore.’ Do you know what that means to me? Do you know how terrifying that concept is? All last night I was, like, tossing and turning. ‘End of hosts! No host! Hosts gone!’

Host Conan, age 56, said throughout his career, he's been striving to be the number one show.  He's been a number one--valedictorian in high school, President of the Harvard Lampoon, after graduating, wrote for comedy shows in Los Angeles--on the writing staff of "Saturday Night Live," writer and producer for "The Simpsons," took over David Letterman's position as host of "Late Night" in 1993. Despite unfavorable reviews, Conan stayed on, and improved. He was highly regarded by the time of his departure in 2009. O'Brien relocated from New York to Los Angeles to host his own incarnation of "The Tonight Show"--lost the show to its former host, Jay Leno in an embarrassing coup, and moved his late-night show to TBS.

"Late Night with Conan O'Brian"  has been broadcasting Monday through Thursday nights at 11p.m.  on TBS. Conan enjoys quoting what critics have been saying about his "awkward, self-deprecating humor that combines the lewd and wacky" Conan, with more elegant short films he calls "remotes," that he makes at various  locations.

After a three month hiatus, he reopened his show on TBS with a revised format in January 2019.  With the retirement of Letterman in 2015, Conan O'Brien has become the longest-working of all current late-night talk show hosts in the United States.

When I watch his show, I enjoy his dancer-physicality, his tallness and agility, but the fact is, I get restless watching hosts chatting with an up-and-coming good-looking girl or guy. Maybe when Letterman quit it was time to find another way to keep us night-time TV-watchers entertained. I think one of the problems for Conan, is that he doesn't have what Carson, Letterman and Leno had--a relaxed, genial, ordinary guy something-or-other--that got us feeling they were pals.

O'Brien himself said what he learned from losing the "Tonight Show" is that his instinctive Irish Catholic inner voice of disapproval is off-putting. Working with his psychotherapist, and the shorter format for his shows, has enabled him to change his inner voice, and relax/soften the Harvard, Boston, and over our heads tone, of a person who's been in therapy.

"Rolling Stone Magazine's" January 21st issue featured an article on O'Brien. Conan said he loves touring, performing in different towns in different countries where people haven't been watching night-time entertainment shows. He's having a wonderful time finding how to be his real self. His new podcast, "Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend," is currently the number one podcast on iTunes. He just wrapped up an 18-city tour that had him goofing off in front of packed theaters, and tomorrow night he will re-launch his late-night show, "Conan, In a 30-minute Format" which he calls it a “smaller cookie, more chocolate chips.”

Illustration by Mark Summers
Hurray Conan--golly, I love the look of the real guy this drawing, and the show--I love the small cookie with more chips.

Monday, March 11, 2019


CBD, also known as Cannabidiol, is being hailed as a miracle drug, a compound in marijuana.
(pronounce emphasizing DI)
When ingested, affects "cannabinoid" receptors throughout your body, which have a regulatory function. It doesn't get you high. THC is the component in marijuana that makes people euphoric.

CBD's been purported to do just about everything that bothers you--relieve pain; reduce anxiety and stress, treat inflammation, insomnia, headaches, hangovers, nausea, skin disorders, joint pain, muscle spasms, and period cramps. It used to be sold in medical marijuana shops, but now products made from hemp, marijuana's low-THC cousin, are available online, in health-food stores, supermarkets, even gas stations. Sales are soaring following endorsements from celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Joe Rogan, and wellness tycoon Gwyneth Paltrow.

You can puff it from a vaporizer, but it's mainly produced as an oil concentrate that you mix in juice, and other liquids you drink. It's being blended into lotions, ointments, and added to nearly every food imaginable, from ice cream and smoothies to gumdrops and salad dressing. Last summer, Willie Nelson began selling "Willie's Remedy," a CBD-infused coffee. Coca-Cola is rumored to be considering bringing CBD beverages to the mass market.

Is it legal? The Food and Drug Administration still classifies CBD made from the marijuana plant as a Schedule 1 substance, along with drugs like heroin and LSD. Even so, many small shops and online retailers sell hemp-derived CBD in states where marijuana is banned. The legality got a big boost in December, when President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized commercial hemp production, that was outlawed in 1937.

Hemp, a cannabis plant that has less than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive compound THC, is mostly used to make products like rope, paper, and textiles. The new law won't legalize hemp-derived CBD, but opens the door for it to become federally regulated. Without regulation, CBD products are marketed about as reliable as snake oil. Studies examining 84 CBD products found that nearly 70 percent were mislabeled--some have more CBD, some significantly less. Some contained a enough THC to show up on a drug test.

Scientists say high-quality clinical trials on humans need to be conducted to verify CBD's benefits--dosage levels, side effects, interactions with other drugs. There's been very little research, but unlike crystals and healing bracelets, CBD clearly does have biological effects.

What about cost? When purchasing an oil, the price per milligram (mg) is key. Consider the following example: Bottle A -1 ounce of CBD oil, costs $30. Bottle B - 1 ounce of CBD oil, costs $150. The bottle suggests how many drops--once or twice a day, for how long. Shop around online. See a brand name that's on various websites--pick one, based on what makes sense to you.

 CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon says, "I think there is a legitimate medicine here. We're talking about something that could really help people." Dr. Margaret Haney, director of Columbia University's Marijuana Research Laboratory, says, "There's an enormous placebo effect. If you go in with this expectation, with all of society saying this will cure whatever ails you, it often will."

Today, I started shopping. Wish me luck with insomnia...