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For millions of Americans, today is one of the best days of the year. Costumes, candy, scary movies, and things that go bump in the night. And while it may all be in good fun, all that scary stuff is sometimes the stuff of nightmares, which it turns out might not be such a bad thing after all, as Tracy Smith will explain. For people in the horror business, nightmares are a badge of honor. Do people come up to you and say you gave me nightmares? Yeah, I'm telling you the highest compliment is you gave me nightmares. I mean you don't make horror movies for people to go, oh it made me feel so good. So can bad dreams be a good thing? Coming up on Sunday morning.
Nightmares, nothing to be afraid of. They're one of the most successful bands in pop music history. And now ABBA is back.
Our Seth Doan paid them a visit. As band reunions go, it's one for the ages. The guys behind ABBA say it didn't feel like 40 years.
We went into the studio and it sounded, you know, there was that distinctive ABBA sound immediately. A comeback later this Sunday morning. Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin's life was turned upside down when her husband's political career exploded in shame. Norah O'Donnell speaks with a very private person about surviving a very public scandal. This is your first television interview? Yes. For 25 years she's been mostly invisible as a top aide to Hillary Clinton, but she became painfully visible when her husband, Congressman Anthony Weiner, began sexting with other women again and again.
We were just too severely broke and traumatized people. Huma Abedin, on her marriage, life in the public eye, and her fears that if not for her, Hillary Clinton would have been president. Ahead this Sunday morning.
Luke Burbank talks with actor Kal Penn about his journey from Hollywood to the White House. Plus Steve Hartman and thoughts on being prepared for the afterlife. All this Sunday morning of Halloween, October 31st, 2021.
We'll be back in a moment. By our very informal count, there have been at least 20 movies in recent years with the word nightmare in the title. Nearly a dozen on Elm Street alone.
We asked Tracy Smith to help explain why so many of us prefer scary nights to sweet dreams. As if the real world wasn't scary enough, we celebrate our fears every October. On Halloween, the creepy costumes come out. And every year it seems Hollywood trots out a new movie with a familiar plot line. Halloween Kills is the 12th. Yep, the 12th installment since 1978.
I want to take his mask off and see the life leave his eyes. And you probably remember your first Halloween movie. But did it give you bad dreams or a nightmare? There's a difference.
Let's start with the definition. What's a nightmare? Most people think nightmares are just about fear, but they can really be any really negative emotion.
Dream expert Leslie Ellis. For a lot of people that it's a really bad dream, really bad emotions and they wake you up and they're very vivid and easy to recall. In fact, nightmares, like some horror movies, can be unforgettable. This is the Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles, where you can see props and costumes from Jason to Pennywise. And at least some of these films, like the ones with Freddy Krueger here, were actually inspired by nightmares. If I have a nightmare, I'm so excited.
The first thing I want to do is write it down because it's like this goldmine of imagery that you'd never get otherwise. Director Eli Roth knows as a kid growing up in Boston, he was obsessed with horror films. His early drawings were filled with scary movie scenes, and he had himself sawed in half at his bar mitzvah, much to the dismay of his relatives. That was your bar mitzvah? That was my bar mitzvah.
That was your bar mitzvah? I was just a weird, weird kid. And that weird kid grew up to host Eli Roth's History of Horror on AMC.
Creepshow is presented like an EC comic book from the 1950s. It's a show about the kind of movies that you'll see in your sleep. None of us like having nightmares, but they're actually very healthy to have because you're acknowledging something you're afraid of and you're letting out and expressing it. I just take my nightmares a step further and then I write it down and I film it and I project it onto everybody else. You share your nightmares with the world.
Yeah. Roth even played a character who tried to give Nazis nightmares. Aren't you fat killing Jews? A Jewish American soldier with a baseball bat.
Of course, you don't always need a bat to knock an audience out. Sometimes the image of pure evil is enough to keep people up at night. A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
You fly back to school now, little Starling. Talk about nightmares. This is the actual set that was used in the filming of 1991's The Silence of the Lambs, the only horror movie ever to win a Best Picture Oscar. So, how many of us have been told, well, you shouldn't watch horror movies because they'll give you nightmares? Well, it turns out that nightmares may actually be a good thing. In fact, some experts say there's really no such thing as a bad dream. That's kind of a controversial statement, but yes, I believe that all dreams are trying to help us sort through our emotional lives. Sometimes they represent physical illness that, you know, the dreaming sort of picks up on early warning signs.
In other words, our brains help sort out the day's events and anxieties, big and small, while we're asleep. When our dreams scare us, we like to figure out what they mean, but it's not that simple. Really, we don't put a lot of stock in, like, trying to understand the meaning of nightmares or anything like that. That's also kind of older Freudian psychology, which we don't, it's not very scientific.
Wait, so back up. So, all this dream interpretation that we've done, okay, if my teeth are falling out, what does it mean? You guys don't really rely on that? We don't.
So, a hundred years ago they did, but there's no scientific evidence to suggest that any of that stuff is valid. So, we really don't worry about that anymore. Psychology professor John Abramowitz says dreams shouldn't be taken literally.
What matters more is what's causing them in the first place. He runs an anxiety research clinic at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and says that we can tame our worst fears in nightmares or in real life by confronting them. That's what Leah here is doing. She's the person on the right, and she wanted to get over her deathly fear of spiders.
It's awesome. She allowed the clinic to record her session with a tarantula. Oh god, she's moving towards me. At first, she tried to stay as far away from it as possible, even by crawling under the desk.
Oh my god. But after about three hours, she realized that the spider wasn't going to bite her. We're due anxiety from zero to ten. We're due anxiety from zero to ten. Um, I don't know, I can't think.
Okay. And she was able to manage her anxiety enough to let the spider take a walk on her arm. So, in the same way that you encourage people with anxiety to lean into their fears, if we're concerned about our nightmares, we should lean into them? We should, and effective treatment involves having the person recount their nightmares, writing them out, engaging with them in a healthy way, rather than trying to push them away. Lots of research suggests that when we try to push away our private experiences, thoughts, emotions, that just makes them worse, because then we become preoccupied with trying to push them away, and those experiences end up just kind of pushing us around, bossing us around more than they need to. So, embrace your nightmares? Absolutely, says director Eli Roth. There's clearly something beneficial in facing these fears, facing our nightmares head-on. What do you think it is? I think there's a human need to confront our fears so that we realize that it's not nearly as bad as we thought, and that it's stopping us from being our highest selves. And the takeaway here may be as cliche as the car that won't start in a horror movie.
Follow your dreams, even the ones that scare you. Huma Abedin seemed to have it all. She was a top aide to Hillary Clinton and the wife of a brash New York congressman.
Then came the tabloid sex scandal. Nora O'Donnell is in conversation with Huma Abedin. This is your first television interview? Yes. You've never done an interview like this before?
That's correct. Why are you speaking out now? Well, I think for most of my adult life, certainly the last 25 years that I've been in public service or in the public eye, I have been the invisible person behind the primary people in my life. But what I realize is that if you don't tell your story, somebody else is writing your history. Huma Abedin's story is as unlikely as it is extraordinary.
From the pinnacles of power as a top aide to Hillary Clinton, to the depths of public scandal as the wife of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner. You were born in America. You were raised in Saudi Arabia.
Yes. Her new book is called Both And, published by Scribner, part of ViacomCBS. Abedin writes about a life lived in many worlds. A young girl raised in a sheltered Muslim environment who traveled the globe. Her mother from Pakistan, her father from India, both professors, both Fulbright scholars. We spent our entire childhood traveling to different countries and cultures and languages.
And my father's entire perspective on the world was exploring the other. Abedin studied at the George Washington University. So you're an intern your senior year, and then three weeks before you graduate, they offer you a job. They offer me a job. That internship and the job was in the Clinton White House. I would walk and then just stare through those gates and look at that house and think what?
I can't believe I'm here. She became an aide to Hillary Clinton, eventually her chief of staff, and it turned into a 25 year career. Abedin was by Hillary Clinton's side when she was first lady, U.S. senator, secretary of state and presidential candidate. So if Hillary Clinton were here and I would ask her what does she most value about Huma Abedin, what do you think she would say? I think she would say her loyalty. And I would say the same about her. I have tested that not intentionally, but I have tested it. How?
Well, I've made her life difficult with things that have happened in my personal life. When you first met Anthony Weiner, what did you know about him? I knew that he was on the New York congressional delegation. He was, you know, kind of considered this outspoken, outgoing, eligible bachelor on the Hill.
But I knew actually very little. In 2007, Abedin started dating Representative Anthony Weiner, writing that after their first kiss, her head started spinning and didn't stop. It was her first serious relationship. As they began discussing marriage, he made a startling confession and she made a startling discovery.
That same night that he says to you, I'm broken, I need you to fix me, you also pick up his Blackberry. Yes. And what did you find? I found a text from a woman, a very flirtatious text from a stranger. I was shocked. And I showed it to him right away and said, what is this?
Can you explain this to me? And he did. You know, he was a public personality and that people communicated with him all the time. But you write, in hindsight, it was a warning sign.
In hindsight, it was a warning sign. Still, they were married in 2010, officiating at the wedding, none other than former President Bill Clinton. Just on that note about the wedding, you're Muslim, Anthony's Jewish, and Bill Clinton makes a joke. And says what? If every wedding is a wonder, then this one's a miracle.
Less than a year later, Abidine was pregnant and then the first of many shocks. That same month, May of 2011, Weiner's Twitter feed showed a picture he apparently posted of him in his underwear. And he lies to you about it. He does. And he lies about it in multiple interviews. He does. Did I send the photograph? I did not. This was a prank, a hoax. And then he tells you the truth.
Yes. The truth turned out to be that Weiner meant to send the photo to a woman, but mistakenly sent it to his tens of thousands of Twitter followers. I'm going to try to be a better husband, too. Weiner resigned from Congress and entered therapy, sometimes with Abidine. Their son, Jordan, was born. The tabloids left no Weiner pun unwritten. You go from being behind the scenes to someone who's on the front pages of newspapers here in New York City. What did it mean losing your anonymity? I liked my anonymity a lot. I don't read anything about myself.
I never did. But Weiner didn't think his political career was over. But I've also learned some tough lessons. He decided to run for mayor of New York and got off to a good start. He was in the lead. He was in the lead. Anthony Weiner could have been the mayor of New York City. I have to concede, I have many things to say about Anthony, but I have always believed that he is somebody who loves his city and he's got brilliant ideas.
And paying for it by asking millionaires to pay a bit more. Just when you think that the surprises are over, it comes out that your husband is texting again. Yes.
Using the alias Carlos Danger with a woman whose name is Sidney Leathers, sending her explicit photos. What happens to your world? Well, my world exploded again in the most unexpected, shocking, humiliating, horrible way. We crossed a threshold.
It was just surviving at that point. But while rarely appearing on the campaign trail, Aberdeen did speak at a press conference. I have forgiven him. I believe in him. I believe in him.
The now infamous press conference. Yeah. And you're by his side. I made the decision. That was a decision I made for me, for our son, and for our family. Were you okay?
Yes. Everyone was calling me and saying, people who loved me were calling me and saying, don't do this. Hillary didn't want you to do it. I think if I had talked to Hillary or my mother or anybody in my family, they would have advised me against doing it. And you purposely didn't take their calls.
I didn't take their calls. There was a campaign videographer. Yeah.
It's like having a nightmare. Who was there a lot of moments during the campaign. It later became a documentary.
Can we get a clip up of Uma standing alongside? There is a victim of spousal abuse. You look miserable throughout that campaign. So I have not watched that documentary.
I don't think I ever will. You look sad. You almost look a bit in shock throughout it. In hindsight, I was still in a tremendous amount of trauma. Weiner was trounced coming in last place in the mayoral primary. We were just two severely broken traumatized people. I couldn't see that he was completely disintegrating and we just went into our corners. So I want you to explain that because I do think that context is important because you're a busy working mom because people will ask and you because you've just said that you crossed a threshold. Yeah. But you stayed with him.
Why? I think in part it was a financial decision. In part it was, you know, we moved into a duplex and Anthony took one floor and I took another. And we were very concerned about our son and having a stable routine for him. It really took a toll on your mental health. It did. You write that for a brief second you contemplated walking off the subway platform.
Well, one of the best things I've had in my life is my faith and the belief that there is always a way through. Aberdeen reveals that she later found evidence that Weiner's affairs were apparently not just online. She discovered an old phone of his. I found communications with women and it was quite devastating. I know it's hard for you to say it, but you found that he was having physical relationships in your apartment.
Yes. It seems like just betrayal after betrayal after betrayal. It was that moment that I realized the way I had been handling my response to him was not working. By 2016, Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin were officially separated. A month after Hillary Clinton became the Democratic nominee for president, yet another bombshell. This picture of Weiner in bed with their young son was leaked. That triggered an investigation by Child Protective Services. They're showing up at your apartment all the time checking on the well-being of your son. Were you worried you would lose your son?
Yes. Ask any parent what it feels like, that somebody is judging whether you're a fit parent and whether you can keep your child. It's hard to put in words. A few weeks later, Abedin's two lives truly came crashing together. Weiner was caught sexting with an underage girl and FBI agents found emails involving Hillary Clinton on his laptop. Just 11 days before the election, FBI Director James Comey announced he was reopening an investigation into Clinton's emails.
He would finally close the probe two days before Election Day, but many considered the damage had been done. You write, this man Weiner was going to ruin me, and now he was going to jeopardize Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidency. And then you write, you called Anthony Weiner and you said what? Anthony, I said, wanting to shake him through the phone, if she loses this election, it will be because of you and me. That night, I wrote one line in my notebook, I do not know how I am going to survive this.
Help me God. Yeah. I've just received a call from Secretary Clinton. It all ended, of course, with Hillary Clinton losing to Donald Trump. The debate over what caused her defeat, however, has never ended.
Hillary Clinton could be in her second term as president right now. That is a thought that crosses my mind probably more than it crosses hers. That is something that lives here, that I think I'm going to take to my grave. When you say take it to your grave, do you mean because you think about something you could have done to help fix the situation, make it better, because you're kind of in that fix-it role? I have reconciled, and it took me a while to reconcile that it was not all my fault. I lived with that.
I did. I don't believe that anymore. It's more a sense of an ache in the heart, that it didn't have to be. And also my belief that she would have been an extraordinary president. She really would have, and what it meant for women and girls, not just in this country, but around the world. Five years later, Huma Abedin is still at Hillary Clinton's side.
Here she is when Bill Clinton was hospitalized a couple of weeks ago. Anthony Weiner served 18 months in prison, after pleading guilty to transferring obscene material to a minor. Abedin and Weiner are finally finalizing their divorce. They still see each other as they raise their son, who is now nine years old. What's your relationship like now with Anthony Weiner?
We are, we're good. He is my co-parent, and I learned the full truth. I processed it and moved on, and I wish him well. He, I hope, wishes me well.
I think he does. You're not angry with him? I can't live in that space anymore. I tried that.
It almost killed me. This is Intelligence Matters with former acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell. Bridge Colby is co-founder and principal of the Marathon Initiative, a project focused on developing strategies to prepare the world for the future. Developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. The United States put our mind to something we can usually figure it out.
What people are saying and what we kind of know analytically and empirically is our strategic situation, our military situation, is not being matched up with what we're doing. Follow Intelligence Matters wherever you get your podcasts. Cal Penn was in the midst of a successful acting career when he decided to flip the script. Luke Burbank talks with him about his path from White Castle to the White House. I really enjoyed going to high school here. Cal Penn remembers the exact moment his life changed. I got cast as the Tin Man, and this was the first time I experienced being in the zone as an actor. It was during a school production of The Wiz in suburban New Jersey. And I put the axe up and I turn to the audience and I say, all you fine ladies out there, and I just did this pelvic thrust. And the crowd went nuts. And I was just like, that feeling was interesting. Interesting because it gave Penn, born Culpin Suresh Modi, a way to navigate his world.
Going from a self-described skinny brown kid from New Jersey to a movie star in films like Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Prepare to get blazed because in the next couple of hours, I expect both of us to be blitzed out of our skulls. Got it?
All right, I got it. And TV shows like Sunnyside. When I come back, you guys will have the right to vote.
And I'll probably be a little drunk because you can drink on the ferry. Penn's journey to stardom was a somewhat unlikely one. Born in Montclair, the child of parents who moved to the U.S. from India, Penn didn't see many people who looked like him on American film and TV growing up. If you've always grown up seeing people who look like you on screen, I totally understand why a lot of people are like, well, what's the big deal?
But to be invisible, it kind of makes you feel like your possibilities might be limited. Thanks for letting us take over the classroom. But he found an early champion in nearby Howell High School drama teacher Stephen Kazakoff. What do you remember about him as a student?
Cal had a wonderful natural way of approaching something. So he never quite looked as if he was acting. He looked as if he just kind of slipped in here and belonged in that scene. Penn honed those acting skills wherever he could, including, of all places, in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. My nerdy actor friends and I would put out a little hat between the stairs and the fountain and do monologues for tourists, and the goal was only to make bus fare back to Jersey. Eventually, Penn earned a ticket to UCLA's prestigious acting program and probably figured he was on his way to making it.
But then the realities of Hollywood set in. There was a woman where I signed in once, and she spoke loudly and slowly, this is the sign-in sheet. And then in conversation saying something like, well, where's your turban? And I said, you know, I don't wear a turban, I'm not sick. And I remember her saying, well, can you go home and put a bed sheet on your head or something? Early on, he faced the nearly impossible choice of trying to avoid stereotypical roles while still advancing up Hollywood's ladder.
Let's do this together. Then came Harold and Kumar. The cult comedy hit features two leads, both Asian-American men who speak without accents and have simple goals, to get very high and to visit a white castle. I was really happy that this movie was going to be made, whether I had the chance to play him or not, but really I needed to figure out how to play him. The film changed the course of Penn's career, leading to serious movie roles like the award-winning The Namesake. Baba, is that what you think of when you think of me?
And a lucrative job on the hit TV show House. Try moving a finger. Your brain needs to get used to doing its job again.
Try harder. Which is right about when Penn decided to do something highly unexpected. He walked away from acting to campaign for and eventually join the White House staff of Barack Obama. I remember my manager being very perplexed. Are you sure you want to do this? I said, yeah, why not? It's not a career shift. It's not like I want to do this forever. This is the time to do it.
And I feel passionately that it's something I want to do. Penn worked for two years in the Office of Public Engagement with a focus on connecting with Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, an experience he details in his new memoir, You Can't Be Serious, published by Simon & Schuster, a ViacomCBS company. I don't like politics.
I like public service, and that goes back to my grandparents who marched with Gandhi in the Indian independence movement. And those were the dinner table conversations that we had. And one more thing Penn writes about in his new memoir, his partner, Josh. I thought it was interesting how it presented itself in the book.
It was fairly matter of fact. What was it like for you to put that in this book for the world to know about? I mean, you know, Josh and I have been together for 11 years.
We had our 11th anniversary in October. So for me in writing about it, I think the tricky thing was, you're right, it's very matter of fact in our lives. And when you're the son of Indian immigrants who says that you want to be an actor, the chaos that that creates in your family, in your community, will trump anything else always. After leaving the White House, he picked up right where he left off and has been working steadily in TV and film. And these days, when Cal Penn walks around the steps of the Met, he gets a somewhat different response than back when he was 16. I mean, is it ever surreal to you, though, to realize, like, this is how your life has turned out? Or did you always sort of think it was going to happen? I really feel incredibly blessed when I have the chance to be part of a project that I'm really passionate about, for the same reason that I was passionate about The Wiz in eighth grade.
There's still an opportunity as an artist to just make somebody laugh or feel some happiness with other humans in another space and time is a magic to this that I hope never gets old. To Steve Hartman with the tale of a man driven to serve. If anyone has earned a coffee break, it's 63-year-old Mike Mason of Midlothian, Virginia. Mike served his country, first as a captain in the Marines. Mike Mason from the FBI. And later as the number four man at the FBI.
Good afternoon. Mike left the bureau in 2007, went on to work as an executive at a Fortune 500 company, and then the chief operating officer of this rocking chair. But Mike says retirement did not sit well with him.
I still had a mind and I still had things I thought I was capable of doing. But if Mike was going to start a new chapter, he knew it would have to be something really important. A job with a big payout, worthy of his time.
So in the end, the choice was clear. From top of the FBI to head of the BUS, Mike Mason may be the most overqualified school bus driver in America. When I gave them my resume, I actually got called by a very senior person in the county and he said, just checking.
Did you mean to apply for this job? Why do you want to be a bus driver? And I told him. Mike had heard the Chesterfield County Public School District was down 125 drivers, part of a national crisis. In fact, more than half the school districts in America are reporting some fear driver shortages.
So Mike stepped up and went all in. I mean, this guy actually waxes his bus. Why? Because it's just how I roll. This is the Marines coming back. It is. But I think this is important work. I do. Do you sincerely believe that what you're doing today is as important as what you were doing at the FBI?
I do. I think in our society, we need to get next to the idea that there are no unimportant jobs. I mean, what could be more important than the attention we pay to our education system? So you continue to advance in your career? That's exactly right. I'm paid a lot less, but I continue to advance in my career. Yes, indeed. As for the salary, Mike says he already donated all of what he expects to make this year, more than $30,000 to various charities.
But of course, the much bigger gift is far less tangible. Mike Mason had climbed to the highest level, but by stepping into this job, he has shown true leadership. Leadership by example. And now some really scary thoughts from Amy Pickard. She calls herself a death-positive facilitator, and you're about to understand why. Quick, what's the leading cause of death? Birth. Folks, you're going to die.
Happy Sunday, everybody. But for realsies, you're definitely going to die. You're going to die. And yet, if you're like most people, you literally put more thought into building your own burrito than you do thinking about your own demise.
And I'm here to tell you, it's your loved ones who pay the price. Halloween is a day we celebrate ghosts and spirits. And what better day to talk about advanced planning for when we become ghosts and spirits? Most people think they don't need to plan ahead because they're not rich. But regardless of income, someone has to be a ghost. But regardless of income, someone has to deal with you after you're gone, organize your belongings, arrange your funeral, take care of your goldfish, et cetera, et cetera. So why would you leave your loved ones to just wing it without any instructions?
That's more of a trick than a treat. What's preventing you from having the conversation? Do you feel it's awkward or uncomfortable to talk about death? Well, imagine the awkwardness when you're in the ICU, intubated and unable to communicate, and it's up to a family member to decide what happens to you without ever having had a single conversation about it.
Now that's hashtag awkward. So talk to friends and family about whether you want to be cremated or buried or what kind of food you want served or music played at your funeral or life celebration or who you want to speak for you if you're unable to speak for yourself. Make sure someone knows where your important papers are and how to access them in case of an emergency. Does someone know your passwords for your email accounts and bills that you pay online or what to do with your record collection or specific heirlooms? Don't make your loved ones guess. Advanced planning erases guilt, uncertainty, confusion, and anger.
And isn't it better to leave behind love instead of logistics? Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. Because, well, I need it.
And maybe you do, too. From the newest interior design trend, Barbie Corps, to the right and wrong way to wash your armpits. Also, we're going to get into things that you just kind of won't believe and were not able to do in daytime television, so watch out. Listen to Drew's News wherever you get your podcasts. It's your good news on the go.
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