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'Wait Wait' for February 10, 2024: With Not My Job guest Lena Waithe

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'Wait Wait' for February 10, 2024: With Not My Job guest Lena Waithe

This week’s show was recorded at the Studebaker Theater in Chicago, with host Peter Sagal, judge and scorekeeper Bill Kurtis, Not My Job guest Lena Waithe and panelists Maz Jobrani, Negin Farsad and Adam Burke. Click the audio link above to hear the whole show.

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Lena Waithe attends the Black Girls Rock! 2018 Red Carpet at NJPAC on Aug. 26, 2018, in Newark, N.J.

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Who’s Bill This Time
Game Day! A Clumsy Vision from Apple; Trippin’ With Mom

Panel Questions
Something Special for Valentine’s Eve

Bluff The Listener
Our panelists read three stories about someone breaking the rules, only one of which is true.

Not My Job: We quiz The Chi creator Lena Waithe about The Guy: Guy Fieri
In 2017, Lena Waithe made history by becoming the first Black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing. Since then, she’s done it all, from acting to writing to producing. Her new movie is A Thousand and One, but she also made The Chi, so we’ve invited her on to answer three questions about The Guy: Guy Fieri

Panel Questions
Olympic Medals With A Little Je Ne Sais Pas; Everybody Hurkle Durkle!

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Limericks
Chioke I’Anson reads three news-related limericks: A New Way To Smell Good; Plaque Hack; Vegan Cheatin’

Lightning Fill In The Blank
All the news we couldn’t fit anywhere else

Predictions
Our panelists predict, now that we’ve reached peak Taylor and Travis, who will be the next hot couple.

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Wendy Williams is diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia

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Wendy Williams is diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia

Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), her medical care team announced Thursday. Here, Williams attends the world premiere of Apple TV+’s The Morning Show in New York on Oct. 28, 2019.

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Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), her medical care team announced Thursday. Here, Williams attends the world premiere of Apple TV+’s The Morning Show in New York on Oct. 28, 2019.

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Wendy Williams, the former TV talk show host and shock jock, has been diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia, her medical team announced.

In a news release Thursday, her team said Williams, 59, received her diagnosis last year and that the conditions have already “presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life.”

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“Wendy is still able to do many things for herself,” her team said, noting that she is appreciative of the kind thoughts and wishes being sent to her. “Most importantly she maintains her trademark sense of humor and is receiving the care she requires to make sure she is protected and that her needs are addressed.”

News of her latest medical diagnosis comes days ahead of the Lifetime premiere of Where is Wendy Williams? — a two-part documentary detailing her health battles following the end of her syndicated talk show in 2022.

Williams, the former TV host of The Wendy Williams Show, stepped away from the world of broadcasting following a series of health issues. (Williams also has Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting the thyroid.)

In 2022, due to her ongoing health battles, it was announced that her syndicated daytime talk show would end after a 13-year run on TV.

Williams’ team says they shared the health update this week to “correct inaccurate and hurtful rumors about her health,” as many fans have been concerned, yet confused over the last few years about her physical health and financial well-being.

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In 2022, the 59-year-old was placed under temporary financial guardianship after her bank, Wells Fargo, raised concerns — claiming in a New York court that she is an “incapacitated person,” The Hollywood Reporter reported.

What exactly is aphasia?

Aphasia is defined as a condition that affects the ability to speak, write and understand language, according to the Mayo Clinic. The language disorder can occur after strokes or head injuries — and can even lead, in some cases, to dementia.

Medical experts say the impacts of the disorder can vary, depending on the person’s diagnosis. But mainly, the condition affects a person’s ability to communicate — whether written, spoken or both.

Nearly 180,000 people in the U.S. acquire the condition each year. Most people living with aphasia are middle-aged or older, as the average age of those living with the condition is 70 years old. However, anyone, including young children, can acquire it.

Dr. Jonathon Lebovitz, a neurosurgeon specializing in the surgical treatment of brain and spine conditions at Nuvance Health, told NPR in 2022 following the diagnosis of actor Bruce Willis, that a person’s condition depends on the exact portion of the brain that’s impacted.

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“In most patients that have aphasia, it is a symptom of a larger medical issue,” Lebovitz said.

What is frontotemporal dementia?

Frontotemporal dementia, commonly known as FTD, is one of several types of dementia that cause nerve damage in the frontal and temporal lobes — which leads to a loss of function in those areas, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

FTD can also disrupt motor function and movement, which could be classified as Lou Gehrig’s disease — otherwise known as ALS.

There are two different types of frontotemporal dementia: Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia, which causes nerve loss in the areas of the brain that control empathy, judgment and conduct, and primary progressive aphasia (PPA) — the form Williams has, which affects language skills, speaking, writing and comprehension.

About 30% of people with frontotemporal degeneration inherit the disease. The underlying causes of FTD are unknown.

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What are the treatment options for aphasia and FTD?

For those who are diagnosed with aphasia, there are several treatment options available.

Traditionally, most people undergo a form of speech and language therapy to restore their communicative skills. Additionally, there are ongoing clinical trials that use brain stimulation and may help improve one’s ability to regain skills.

So far, no long-term research on aphasia has been conducted yet.

When it comes to FTD, there are medications that can help relieve symptoms but with time, the disease eventually gets worse.

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Buying Too Much Vintage Bourbon Could Soon Lead to Jail Time in Kentucky

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Buying Too Much Vintage Bourbon Could Soon Lead to Jail Time in Kentucky
On Feb. 8, The Owensboro Times reported that a new bill that will impact vintage bourbon, House Bill 439, received unanimous approval to advance from the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Matthew Koch and Rep. Ruth Palumbo, who claimed the bill was meant to tighten up previous […] The post Buying Too Much Vintage Bourbon Could Soon Lead to Jail Time in Kentucky first appeared on…
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If you love courtroom dramas, this Oscar-nominated film is not to be missed

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If you love courtroom dramas, this Oscar-nominated film is not to be missed

Anatomy of a Fall may feel familiar at first but it immerses audiences in a different kind of legal thriller. Above, Sandra Hüller plays a writer accused of murdering her husband.

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Anatomy of a Fall may feel familiar at first but it immerses audiences in a different kind of legal thriller. Above, Sandra Hüller plays a writer accused of murdering her husband.

Les Films Pelléas

The Oscars love a courtroom drama, and part of the appeal of a traditional courtroom drama has always been the restoration of order. There is an open question, there is an investigation, there is a confrontation, and there is a climactic moment when something is revealed and settles the matter. Even where the system fails, the storytelling succeeds in getting to that resolution. The innocent may be convicted or the guilty set free, but the storyteller gets to the bottom of things, and in that sense, there is order again.

Plenty of Best Picture nominees have fallen into this category: Witness for the Prosecution, The Verdict, A Few Good Men. This year’s courtroom drama, Anatomy of a Fall, looks at this question in a different way.

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Beyond the fact that it’s set in France and in the French justice system, the film is ultimately much less clear than these other examples about the answers to the central questions it seems to be asking. Because there is no huge revelation that makes everything snap into place, you could read it as a story of frustration or of stubbornly persistent chaos. But in its way, it, too, is about the disruption of order and its restoration. And that starts with the “P.I.M.P” cover.

Enter 50 Cent

At the beginning of the film from writer and director Justine Triet, Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller) is in her home on a snowy mountain, being interviewed about her writing by a young woman named Zoe. Their discussion is friendly, even flirty. Her kind-hearted son, Daniel, is upstairs bathing his dog. Suddenly, the women are interrupted by a steel drum cover of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” that rattles the walls. Sandra explains that her husband, Samuel, is working upstairs and listening to music, and they try to keep talking. The song finally stops, but then, after a transparently peevish pause, it just starts over, louder. The music continues until the interview cannot go on. Chaos has won. Sandra chuckles and admits defeat, and Zoe leaves. Daniel goes for a walk.

Soon after, Daniel finds Samuel dead on the ground outside the house. Somehow, he has fallen from a height, and his bright red blood on the snow is itself a discombobulating image. Now, chaos has really won.

“We have to live with the monsters we create,” Justine Triet told NPR’s Scott Simon, when he asked whether characters linger with her after a film. “I’ve been living with these people for three years, and I think I’ll probably live with them for at least another year.”

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“We have to live with the monsters we create,” Justine Triet told NPR’s Scott Simon, when he asked whether characters linger with her after a film. “I’ve been living with these people for three years, and I think I’ll probably live with them for at least another year.”

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The rest of the film is spurred by the investigation of how Samuel died. Despite a lack of direct evidence, Sandra is charged with killing him because she was the only person there. As a result, much of her trial is consumed by questions about her marriage. Was it bad enough that she threw her husband out the window, or pushed him off the balcony? Was it bad enough that he jumped? Did he, in fact, just fall?

The anatomy of a courtroom

Triet’s version of a courtroom drama looks different — at least to an American audience familiar with, say, Law & Order — in part because the physical courtroom itself is much more multidimensional and more complex in its use of space.

In most American takes on this genre, you get a courtroom that is laid out in what we might think of as a church formation. The gallery, sitting on benches, faces the judge, who sits on their elevated platform. When a witness testifies, they sit beside the judge, facing the gallery, while they speak. The jury sits perpendicular to both judge and gallery, visually aligned with neither. The attorneys wait with the audience, watching, until it’s time to “go on.” It’s quite flat, with communication running in two directions at most.

American audiences will find the layout of the French courtroom differs from what they are used to seeing in on-screen legal dramas.

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American audiences will find the layout of the French courtroom differs from what they are used to seeing in on-screen legal dramas.

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The layout in Anatomy of a Fall is very different. The courtroom has a square formation. Think of the bench as north and the gallery as south; these still face each other. The defense is arranged along the east side and the prosecution along the west. Jurors are up on the bench with the judges. The advocate general (basically the prosecutor) has an elevated box from which he can descend, and Sandra sits just behind and above her lawyers. When a witness testifies, they stand behind a waist-high barrier facing the judge and jurors, rather than sitting in a box by the judge.

The Anatomy courtroom can be disorienting at first; it’s initially not easy to know where Sandra is exactly, or where she’s looking. Sometimes you can’t tell quite where the hard-nosed (and red-robed) advocate general comes from when he questions her. The process is surprisingly freewheeling — the attorneys freely argue back and forth with each other, and the advocate general asks Sandra questions during testimony from others.

Antoine Reinartz as advocate general in Anatomy of a Fall.

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Antoine Reinartz as advocate general in Anatomy of a Fall.

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The square formation and elevated seating allow for a wide variety of camera angles, and Triet doesn’t offer an establishing shot at the outset to explain the space to the audience.

Instead, the very first time we see the courtroom, we have a bad seat in the gallery, back in a corner where our view is obstructed. Zoe, the woman who conducted the interview in the opening scene, is in the middle of her testimony, and the court is hearing the tape she made of her interview with Sandra. Specifically, the first time we find ourselves in the courtroom, everyone there is listening to the “P.I.M.P.” cover. The shots keep switching their angles and techniques: a steady push in on Sandra, then a wider static shot of just the bench, then a medium shot of Zoe that begins to push in on her, too — but in a shot that’s conspicuously handheld and much shakier. There are big parts of the courtroom at this point, the courtroom that will be the setting of much of the rest of the film, that we haven’t even seen. It’s very (intentionally) disorganized from a sensory perspective.

The son who settles the story

Eleven-year-old Daniel didn’t witness his father’s death yet his arrival brings clarity — if not order — to the courtroom.

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Eleven-year-old Daniel didn’t witness his father’s death yet his arrival brings clarity — if not order — to the courtroom.

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The first long look at the courtroom comes a bit later when 11-year-old Daniel arrives to testify. The scene begins with the camera seemingly nestled against a high ceiling, in the center rear of the room. It looks down, putting the whole courtroom in the frame at once. This shot is neutral, normal, explanatory. The camera holds here for fully 30 seconds, which is an eternity in movie time, and especially in courtroom drama time. The arrival of this very long, very wide shot is jarring, and it changes the tone. It calms the restless camera. It calms the jitters of not fully understanding the space we’re looking at.

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In this sense, Daniel’s arrival starts to create order. A couple of minutes later, as he’s being questioned about inconsistencies in his memory, he looks back and forth between the advocate general and Sandra’s defense attorney, who are standing on both sides of him and arguing about his testimony. For almost a minute and a half, Triet stays with an unbroken shot of his face. The camera just swings from side to side as he looks from one of these men to the other and back, so that he is always facing the lens. Even when he looks over at his mother, we don’t cut to her, as would be the traditional move. Instead, we remain with Daniel.

Two different kinds of order from chaos

So if we know that Daniel’s arrival in the courtroom brings order to the form of the film, it makes sense that he’s a source of order in the story. But how can that be? Even he doesn’t actually know what happened to his father; he was out walking the dog. If order comes from getting the facts, it seems impossible that he can be the answer to the messiness of the drama playing out in front of him.

Furthermore, it’s no spoiler to say that it’s not at all clear that Daniel is telling all of the literal truth about what he saw and heard. He is protecting his mother. So again, it might seem unlikely that he can provide any answers.

I think the solution to this tension is simply that Anatomy of a Fall is about a different kind of order. It’s not order that comes from certainty, but from clarity. Nobody here seems to have certainty about what happened — even Sandra might or might not, depending on what you believe about her. But what Daniel manages to achieve by the end of the film is clarity. He knows what he wants to do, he knows what he thinks is right to do, and he knows what he thinks should happen. And he can articulate all those things to people who are hesitant to listen to him. (There is, I suppose, some irony that might be inferred from the fact that Daniel is visually impaired, but I don’t think Triet is going for anything quite so on-the-nose.)

Even when Daniel is not being fully truthful, he is the one entirely trustworthy person in the story. Whatever he is doing, he is doing out of love alone, while his parents both acted at times out of love, but also out of anger and jealousy, resentment and selfishness. Again, he has clarity — in this case, clarity of motive.

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So while this might seem like an unconventional courtroom drama Oscar nominee, it shares that theme of a courtroom as a step on the way to restoring order, even if it’s only the order of knowing what you think is right.

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