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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 3/16/20

Greetings, friends!

And welcome to “Musings from the Bunker, Volume #3.” This is the first full week after the clampdown and, I’m guessing, the last full week with any semblance of normalcy for a while.


Heeding My Own Advice on Politics

Let me start by following my own advice regarding politicizing a crisis. No more politics (or as little as I can get away with…). I’ll assume you all stipulate that I think incompetence has abounded to date, I am grateful that a few adults are stepping forward to provide context and advice, just because we’re America doesn’t mean we have some special immunity, and hopefully we are on the road to some semblance of planning and response. Good to see Cedars and other hospitals preparing for the onslaught with tents for overflow and plans to use hotel rooms… So, if you want politics, turn on the news on TV and wince…

Again, please do your part! I know that some of you ancient 65+ people are supposed to stay indoors (I’m still a child, I suppose…the only place other than Hillcrest where that would be the case). But the rest of us should too (and it’s my bet we will be instructed to before too long). Remember that this is extremely contagious.


Virus Modeling

Thank you Mark Greenfield for providing the best article explaining the infection curve, how it works and how it can be slowed by certain actions. Worth some study:


Tragedy Tomorrow, Comedy Tonight!

Michael Flesch told he’s been leaning on watching comedies for relief. Since I always want to show respect for my elders, I’m following his lead. Serious movies, books and musings for tomorrow. Today the focus is comedy—first musical comedy and then sophomoric comedy.

As the theatre buffs may know, it was Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday this past weekend. It’s hard to overestimate the impact he has had on American musical theatre. He bent the genre in so many ways. The above heading, “tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight,” is from the opening tune in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a silly, entertaining romp. Plus it’s great to see Phil Silvers, Jack Gilford, Buster Keaton and Zero Mostel—together—at their finest. Some of my early attraction to Funny Thing probably was the subversiveness of the slaves and the fact a good deal happened in and around a house of ill-repute (what, exactly, is going on in there?).

Back to Sondheim—he covered it all—an adaptation of Romeo & Juliet on the streets of Harlem (West Side Story), the legendary tale of the demon barber of Fleet Street (Sweeney Todd), a meditation of the joys and challenges of marriage (Company), the story of a stripper and her overbearing mother (Gypsy), a retelling and mixing of fairy tales (Into the Woods), a Seurat painting coming alive (Sunday In the Park with George) and on and on. Here is a sweet article about favorites from his canon:

What Are the Stephen Sondheim Songs Close to Your Heart?

Some of my favorites, all of which can be sampled on iTunes”:

  • “Being Alive,” “Getting Married Today,” “the Ladies Who Lunch,” and “Side by Side” from Company

  • “I’m Still Here,” and “Send In the Clowns” from Follies

  • “Nothing’s Gonna Harm You,” “Pretty Women,” “Johanna,” and “the Ballad of Sweeney Todd” from ST

And while we’re on Sondheim, you’re in for a treat if you watch the show Original Cast Album: Company, an amazing look at the recording of the Original Cast Album, with all the glamour (and lack thereof), late nights, and multiple takes that create art.

Enough highbrow. To mis-paraphrase our former first lady, “they go highbrow; we go lowbrow.” Here are some of the Sonnenberg family favorite cinematic classics (most are from the 90’s forward) well worth watching (or re-watching) as we try to forget the virus—and the economy—hell, just forget:

  • Zoolander. Ben Stiller at his best (“I feel like I’m taking crazy pills”)

  • Tropic Thunder. There are a number of movies that vie for the title “could not be made today,” but this is the hands-down winner. That Robert Downey Jr.’s career survived appearing in black-face or that Ben Stiller got away with “Simple Jack” is astonishing. You’ll laugh so hard your sides will ache—all while you’re feeling guilty that you’re laughing.

  • Dodgeball. If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. Funny on so many levels. A crazy game. ESPN Eight, “the Ocho,” big daddy, and Rip Torn in a turn as Patches O’Houlihan, who meets his demise in the most stupidly ironic way.

  • Wedding Crashers. Makes me smile. “Mom—where’s the meatloaf?” Along with Dodgeball, maybe the last two great Vince Vaughn roles. By the way, he follows Chevy Chase as great comedians with short comedic film careers. Why can’t tall men sustain the humor?

  • Spies Like Us (as good as Fletch). “Doctor.” “Doctor.” “Doctor.” “Doctor.”

  • Stripes. Bill Murray. The king. “Who’s your daddy?” Obviously, particularly these days, Groundhog Day, still one of the greatest EVER!

  • Caddyshack. Of course.

  • Animal House. Those two words alone make me laugh and send my brother-in-law into paroxysms of laughter and quoting one-liners.

  • Starsky & Hutch. Seriously under-rated. With one of USC’s biggest fans, Snoop Dogg…“Nobody Touches Huggybear.”

  • Anchorman. “Stay sexy, San Diego.”

  • Step Brothers

  • Hangover (the first one only)

  • There’s Something About Mary (what’s that in your hair?)

  • Logan Lucky (underrated and a funny turn by Daniel Craig, long before the masterful Knives Out.

  • And, with a tip of the hat to the Dude, who would love this isolation, staying home and doing nothing, The Big Lebowski.

Those are just some. Then there are the true greats from time gone by: Monty Pyton (Holy Grail or Life of Brian), Airplane, Dr. Strangelove). I’ve gotta stop. Send me your favorites. Back to serious viewing options tomorrow.



I don’t really choose books because they’re funny. Certainly great humorous passages and irony are welcome. I just don’t pick up a book just for a yuk. That said, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is great. Yiddish with Dick and Jane remains a quirky favorite. Dave Barry is entertaining and everything by Bill Bryson will keep you rapt (e.g., the classic A Walk in the Woods, chronicling his walk of the Appalachian Trail and his adventures and misadventures with his fictional buddy, Stephen Katz). For a commentary on the sad state of Washington before it was as sad as it is now, try Parliament of Whores, by P.J. O’Rourke.

More thoughtful books tomorrow…


Behaviors in Isolation

I’m pretty confident Emily Post didn’t have a chapter on isolation with family. Here are a few thoughts I’ve put together so far:

  • Meals are what we live for, more than usual

  • Move around the house and mix with different people individually and collectively. And make sure to have some “alone time” (indeed, others might welcome it)

  • Let others do what they choose. Sometimes loafing is just what the doctor ordered. Who am I to judge?

  • Walk often. We took a stroll around the golf course at Hillcrest today. Eerily quiet.

  • Call friends. Then call acquaintances you’ve been meaning to call. Then just start dialing randomly.

  • Get dressed. Jammies are not daytime wear. And when it’s dinner time, think about dressing up.

  • Get in a rhythm. Schedule things. For work, we have instituted a morning “all hands” call. That way, we are forced to address issues early and be start the way on a positive note. It makes it easier to push each other, as well.

  • Work out more. No excuses anymore. Every day!

  • Try one thing new. Painting? Language? Piano? And if you need help, there are endless resources at your fingertips.


Hair Care

I knew I should have gotten that haircut a week ago! As you can see, hairdressers are among the professions with the greatest physical proximity to others. Here’s a guide to professions and level of social contact I found interesting:

And for those of you who think it’s great to have the stylist come over to your house, maybe you should think again of all the houses they visited prior to visiting yours. I think we all need to get used to a little less hair styling. I for one am looking forward to seeing how my 70’s era wavy hair will look with grey streaks. If this goes on too long, maybe a Willie Nelson pony tail is in my future. I’m thinking, however, that a “man bun” is not in the cards.


Closing Thoughts

So much great humor out there. Here’s one from a dear friend and very proper lady who would never want her name divulged (let’s just say it rhymes with “Bonnie Fein”):

You don’t need to understand French to get the joke. Trust me.

Slightly more high-brow, social media is helping me better appreciate Brecht:

We all have been regulated to waiting…

Apologies for typos and grammar. This is written quickly and largely by stream of consciousness.

Hug your family. Get outdoors. Drink your best wine. Have a great first full work week of the Great Isolation!

With love,


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