Wednesday, September 29, 2010

PBS: Ken Burns: "10th Inning" follows "Baseball"

Ken Burns has continued his “Baseball” documentary with a two-part, 4-1/2 documentary with “Tenth Inning”, giving a chronicle of baseball in the past two decades (at least since 1993), with particular coverage of the 1994 baseball srike, with the cancellation of the playoffs and world series, and the rebuilding of baseball since. In the late 1990s, the steroid scandal would start to develop, after home run records were broken. But still, with all the new ballparks made to look like old inner cities stadiums with asymmetrical outfields, but skyboxes for rich people, the sport would come back stronger than ever. The first of these “old” new stadiums was Camden Yards in Baltimore; the most asymmetric of all is probably MinuteMaid in Houston (when the old Astrodome was so boring)!

The PBS link for the story is here.

In the second half, some famous games of this decade, like Boston's comeback against the Yankees from a 3-0 deficit, and the Cubs loss to the Marlins after fan interference in 2003, are covered. Ms. Goodman says that baseball is a good way to live through future generations.

I went to a baseball game in Denver in the old Mile High Stadium on August 5, 1994, on a vacation trip, and saw the Rockies lose to the Dodgers, 5-4. The right field line then was 370 feet. The next day would turn out to be important to me because of a decision I would make, and the baseball strike would begin one week later.

George Will appears in the documentary and criticizes baseball’s economic model as from the 19th Century, even though Will himself is generally regarded as a conservative.

Picture: At Nationals Park in Washington; the Nats lost this game to St. Louis, 4-2.

For the latest on Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg after his Tommy John surgery (story by Dave Sheinin), see the Washington Post, here.  In the meantime, he has gone back to finish college.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"The Event": the answer is already out: are "they" from another planet, of from the future?"

Well, we know where the plane went. And we know who the “prisoners” are. Since people have seen it, it’s not spoiling anything. The prisoners being held came from a 1944 plane crash in the Arctic, and they are not of this world. The look like people, have 99% of the same DNA (more than chimpanzees) and age much more slowly. And Sophia is one of “them”. And they have been escaping, merging with the “general population”. And they have an agenda, like V.

Or maybe they come from the future, and have to be held to keep them from changing it. Sound like The 4400? Get out the promycin.

Or maybe they will “replace” us. Get out “the Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, minus the seed pods.

And Sean is being framed. He escapes the second plane crash in the desert, and finds the cops will charge him with a murder he knows nothing about. It all started with the hotel key business.

True, we saw what happened to the girl friend.

My own novel has a concept called “soul contraction”, which I thought could be part of the “answer”, where a bizarre virus connects the souls of people and amalgamates them. OK, maybe I shouldn’t give this away, before it becomes the premise of still another network miniseries. But even that is a variation of “Body Snatchers”.

A public announcement that extraterrestrials who look like us are among us would indeed create “The Event”.  But a Clark Kent could walk among us and just seem like a very good kid.

Monday, September 27, 2010

NBC Meet the Press: Education (according to Michelle Rhee)

On Sunday, Sept. 26, Meet the Press with David Gregory dealt with education, interviewing Arne Duncan and Washington DC School System chancellor Michelle Rhee, as well as Randi Weingarten (president of the American Federation of Teachers, AFT).

Weingarten emphasized the need for better curricula and teacher development tools. Rhee said that the weeding out of the worst performing teachers was done because the kids deserved better. Weingarten insisted that teachers do need some time to develop, but admitted that eventually ineffective teachers have to go. Gregory said that as a parent, he wanted ineffective teachers removed immediately. Rhee discussed the automated tools that schools have to evaluate how well students of any teacher did.

Rhee would not discuss whether she would remain this year as DC Chancellor, or go to California and work there for another school system after marriage.

They also discussed Mark Zuckerberg’s “private” donation to the Newark Schools, and Gregory said he had seen an advance screening of Paramount Vantage’s “Waiting for Superman.”

Gregory also interviewed some Republicans, one of whom wants to eliminate Obamacare.

The transcript for the entire broadcast is here.

MSNBC also held a teacher town hall Sunday "Education Nation" at noon, with Brian Williams (link ). Here's an excerpt. Note that a young teacher considers union rules superfluous, and getting in the way of education. Charter schools allow extra sessions on Saturdays if teachers think they need them.

Here's a "Fast Chat" from DC Public Schools with an interview with Michelle Rhee.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Larry King interviews Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter appeared on Larry King Live tonight, which I caught at midnight after a day in the mountains.

He mentioned that on inauguration day, 1977, he pardoned those “draft dodgers” who had “fled” to Canada, action that at the time some people saw as treason. How times have changed.

He mentioned that during his presidency, he attended the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, which is the church I grew up in. He mentioned that he taught Sunday school there most Sundays in the back balcony. I recall a lesson on the adultery chapter (“adultery by thought”).

Carter also discussed his current church-related activities, which have changed. 

He suggested that the Tea Party has Congress polarized and will influence the “mid term exam” elections, but may burn itself out. He suggested that he would have liked single payer health care.

Carter’s new book is “White House Diaries”.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

NBC Dateline: "In Broad Daylight"

On Friday Sept. 24, NBC Dateline started its 2010-2011 season with a 2-hour docudrama, “In Broad Daylight”, about disappearances of two teenage girls in nearby Southern California towns near San Diego, both with tragic conclusions. It is narrated by Keith Morrison. The main victims were Amber DuBois and Chelsea King. The main link is (wesbite url) here.

The case led to California to adopt Chelsea’s law. In the case, the prosecutor was able to prove the case against Chelsea’s death first, but had no physical evidence for the Amber case. To solve the case for all the victims’ families, the prosecutor agreed to accept a guilty plea for the Amber case in exchange for life without parole.

Amber’s mothers talked to him through a prison phone at the end.

At the end, the documentary looked into the mind of the psychopath (J Gardner), a topic covered in a recent issue of Scientific American. A forensic psychiatrist had recommended the maximum sentence for a smaller offence six years earlier. He had over a hundred violations of parole. His GPS monitor was never monitored, because he had been considered only "moderate" risk.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Oprah opens last season with program on education and "Waiting for Superman"; Michelle Rhee and Bill Gates appear

On Monday, September 20, Oprah Winfrey hosted her first show of her last season (the 25th), and made it about public education. Specifically, she invited Davis Guggenheim, director of the upcoming film “Waiting for Superman” from Paramount Vantage, and also talked to Bill Gates and “warrior woman” Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of the Washington DC Public Schools.

Rhee talked about the fight with unions, which want automatic tenure after two years. She offered more pay for better performance if teachers would give up tenure. She told a story of a teacher who was fired after many absences and sleeping in class, when the union wanted just a ten-day suspension.

Bill Gates also appeared, and talked about how effective charter schools were or sometimes were not. Gates said that the best students (in good schools) in the US do very well indeed (entering college with a year or two of credit), but the opportunity just doesn’t go deep enough.

A female student talked about the weakness of depending too much on test scores.

Education was called “the civil rights issue of our times.” Oprah called education "the Open Door to Freedom."

The “Aspire” program in California was discussed.

The link for the show is here.

Oprah has an Angel Fund to send three students to college from every state.

It takes a good education to be able to come up with and write "The Event" in the disciplined style that television requires.  Think about it.

Mark Zuckerberg annoucned a $100 million philatrophic donation to the Newark NJ schools on Friday Sept 24 on Oprah. The video shows him at home in his rented Palo Alto CA house and people skateboarding at work. He says that the movie "The Social Network" if fiction. I'd recommend "Catfish" (my movies blog). YouTube video by MyComeUp.

Picture: A Harvest Moon, with Jupiter nearby. Without Jupiter, none of us would be here (good for Science class).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, and "personal responsibility"

There’s one thing I’ve noticed about Dr. Phil’s show: most of the people that he picks to be on the show have indeed done some pretty dumb things, or don’t follow through with their “choices”.

Hal Arkowithz and Scott O. Lilienfield have an article on p 64 of the September/October 2010 issue of Scientific American, “The ‘Just Do It’ Trap: Why Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura won’t solve your problems, link here.  The writers say that both Dr. Phil and Dr. Laura engage in “blaming the victim” and that “they often take individual accountability to an extreme, implying that people are to blame for all their difficulties when, in fact, factors such as an individual’s genetic makeup, personal history and current circumstances may contribute significantly to psychological problems.” They also say that both therapists show “lack of empathy.”

Dr. Laura made some enemies with her “biological errors” line (and the tautological "I am my kids' mom"), but Dr. Phil presents an interesting puzzle. He sometimes hints that he could take people into more old-fashioned territory with his “Man Camp”. But I can recall only one show where he dealt with someone faced with sacrificing for someone else’s needs, out of belonging to a family or community. That was a situation where someone did not want to give a kidney to a drug-abusing brother.  There was anothe show where a couple had ten children and pressured the oldest boy to take care of all the younger siblings, as his assigned task in life.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What is "The Event"? The Pilot has some good clues; storytelling out of sequence; Is Sean an ordinary guy or is he superman?

Well, the scene where Sean Walker (a very appealing Jason Ritter) finds out that his girl friend has disappeared, starting when his cruise ship magnetic key to his room doesn’t work, is very well done.

As to the rest of the Pilot  ("I Haven't Told You Everything") (for "The Event" on NBC, created by Nick Wauters), I wondered how effective it is to jump around in time. The writers know the answer, so they’re throwing clues to the viewers.

But Sean is the hero, and it is through his “experience” that one uncovers the “Plot” (Irving Wallave style). It isn’t particularly effective to make one of the hijackers, except that he doesn’t act like one, in the first scene of the story. But, then, you know he is a nice guy.

But real life mysteries are often explored by jumping back and forth along the time arrow. Something happens, and you have to review all the foreshadows in your life.

I wondered what the significance was of the scene where he saves the other girl. I guess “they” are testing him to see if he really can “do the job”. (Okay, “there is no ‘they’”.)

And the 9/11-like event – that is, resembling Flight 93 – as the plane approaches, it’s no surprise to see military jets shoot it down, but it doesn’t go down. It dematerializes. It rather resembles the opening of USA’s “The 4400”. And I don’t think this show has a Jordan Collier, although Sean is a bit like the Shawn of that other show.

Something else, here, too. As the descending plane approaches the Florida estate, there occurs one of Allstate's "random windstorms" with mayhem. Reality turns on and off.  This wouldn't happen with an "ordinary" plane crash in the physical world. (I'm reminded of the 1985 Delta crash in Dallas at DFW, which was supposedly caused by a microburst; I heard about it in the car radio immediately as I was living there then. That event would have effects that are little known. Maybe the writers are cluing us back to that disaster rather than to the obvious Flight 93 analogy.)

Laura Innes is pretty chilling as the woman who knows everything, and hasn’t told the president. Yes, she just isn't "telling".  Time for my "do ask, do tell."

So far, my take is, well, this is Stephen Hawking territory. Maybe "The Event" is a jump to a parallel universe, and then a jump back. I mean, if you were in a hotel, found your key didn’t work, and found security carting you away, you might already think you were in the wrong universe, or maybe in one of those dreams in “Inception.”

This show is Christopher Nolan territory. And in any case, the question "What is The Event?" sounds like a pop quiz (on a card) question in a Freshman English class on a reading assignment.

I’ll just add this: There’s going to be another blackout.

BBC: Who lives in the 11th Dimension? “Some of these parallel universes may look just like our, except you’re not there.” Until “The Event”

Check out my comments on CNN's marquee blog here.

Obama holds town hall on economy on CNBC today

President Obama held a “town hall” at noon EDT Monday Sept. 20 on CNBC, with the major story by Jeff Cox here. The forum was called “Investing in America”.

The event was held at the Newseum in Washington DC, on Pennsylvania Ave., not far from the Capitol.

The president said that we had pulled the economy from the brink, but that recovery is slow. The first questioner asked whether greater personal hardship was the “new reality.”

The town hall occurred on a day when the NBER, or National Bureau of Economic Research, declared the Great Recession of 2009 over. The NBER paper is here and explains how it classifies recessions and the meaning of the concept of a “trough”.

Ted Brassfield, a law student, said he went back to school to pursue a life of public service. He said that school loans and marriage are “awfully expensive”, as if to suggest that public service and family life are not compatible economically. (There’s more money on Wall Street.) This follows the debate on how difficult it is economically to have and raise children today.

Obama said that about 60% of our deficit comes from entitlements. He said we have to take in enough money to cover the cost of the benefits, which include not only seniors, but also veterans. He brushed away the MC question on cutting social security and Medicare benefits.

He said we spend only 2% on infrastructure, compared to China’s 9% and Europe’s 5%.

A GWU grad student named Andy Conte probed the president on the Tea Party ideology, and here the president did acknowledge the need for specifics on proposals to reduce benefits if more taxes are not collected. Michelle Bachman is reported in liberal media as wanting to cut off people under 60 from the social security system entirely, and means test many others.

In his video address Saturday, the president had called for a law forcing disclosure of corporate backers of candidates on the Internet. This was a controversy before with the FEC, as I have previously discussed. The danger is that a carelessly crafted law could affect ordinary bloggers.  Republicans have opposed the law, but maybe for the wrong reasons.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bill Clinton, Colin Powell appear on "Meet the Press", hit education hard

Bill Clinton followed Colin Powell on David Gregory’s “Meet the Press” on NBC Sunday Morning, Sept. 19.

Clinton defended Obama’s health care reform, the benefits of which are spread out over several years. He talked about “Republicans” (maybe Tea Partiers) who want to repeal it, saying that they object to the idea that 85% of premiums really have to go to providing health care, and that insurance companies can no longer dump people on the government (or maybe their families – he didn’t say that).

He also said that there are about five million jobs now for which the nation doesn’t have adequately trained workers. If the workers were available for these jobs, the unemployment rate would drop below 7%.

Powell said earlier that the problems with education start in the home, with very young children not properly loved and attended to and taught to “mind.”

The descriptive link for the show is here.

CNBC will have a “Town Hall Event” with president Obama Monday Sept. 20, 2010. Trouble is, NBC’s “The Event” starts tomorrow, too. Oh, I see now: The Town Hall starts at Noon Monday.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

NBC resumes "The Apprentice" in old-fashioned style tonight

On Thursday September 17, NBC reissued its reality series “The Apprentice” with a 2-hour premiere. It was back to regular people, and tonight they were people struggling with the recession, including a former sales manager from Michigan with a wife and five kids.

As was done in season 1 a few times, it was the Men (Octane), led by Gene, vs. The Women, led by Nicole (no relation to the villainess in “Days of our Lives”). The task was to design a modern office space in a cramped Soho streetfront. The men made the space more open (almost disco like), and Trump wasn’t in love with either one (he particularly didn’t like either board room), but he gave the win to the Men.

There was plenty of manual labor, like painting, in the tasks.

I wonder how Nate Berkus would have created the office space. I also wonder what Trump would think of Facebook's office space, which is certainly very male to all appearances.  Has Trump ever met Zuckerberg in person or in a TV show?

The girls had a real cat fight in the Board Room. Nicole’s team didn’t like her, and Donald Trump fired her, and then said afterwards that he would set her up for an interview with the Miss Universe Pageant.

Remember Troy McClain, in season 1, who got his legs waxed (mentioned in Trump’s “How to Get Rich”). Here’s a YouTube about him.

Troy McClain and “Beyond the Obvious”.

Another one of the apprentice candidates from season 1, Sam, has been involved in Potomac Tech Wire and its Digital Media conferences.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Entourage" on CWTV and HBO: what happens to your script in Hollywood?

What would happen to one of my screenplays if it really got agented (by the “Third Party Rule”?) I guess the thirty-minute comedy series “Entourage” is supposed to tell me. It airs now on CWTV (and on HBO) and I think the episode Sunday night was “Lose Yourself”, created by Doug Ellin.

NewMexico actor Adrian Grenier plays Vincent Chase. IMDB says the actor is 34, but he looks 21 and pretty. He is cute. Yup, a few of the characters in my scripts are supposed to be cute. But Vince has an attitude, because he knows his retinue hangs around for the crumbs.

This particular episode dealt with reading scripts. The 3rd Party script in question was called “Matterhorn”. At least it wasn’t “Titanium” (mine), or “69 Minutes to Titan” (another of mine), or “The Crawling Eye” (a horror film from the 60s “Chiller” series). Vincent is too lazy to bother with reading the entire scripts and figuring them out. “I am an actor.” That all sounds improbable. In the Miramax “Project Greenlight”, all screenplay writing contestants had to review and rate a minimum number of scripts (my 2004 offering was “Baltimore Is Missing” – it really isn’t) and pass a quiz to prove the contestant had read the screenplay. It does take some concentration to follow one.

Jeremy Piven plays agent Ari Gold, and Vincent seems rather willing to dump him. I thought that getting and keeping agents in Hollywood was hard. Maybe not if you’re cute enough to be the start at a gay disco.

“Entourage” had stuck in my mind ever since seeing a poster for it at a Comcast office. Adrian was wearing a shirt with an unusual cut similar to one I had owned when living in New York, with buttons more narrowly spaced than usual. The shirt didn’t appear in this episode.

HBO's official wesbite is here.

The Paley Center has a YouTube video on the agent’s character.

YouTube also apparently offers a paid subscription to the show.

Update: Sept. 27: Grenier appeared on ABC's "The View" today and discussed a show dealing with a 13 year old paparazzi.  He said that teen entrepreneurs don't fall under child labor laws, but also said he did not have kids himself.  Interesting.

Picture (unrelated): from Glenn Beck’s rally in DC in August.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

NBC Dateline: "The Perils of Parenting"

On Monday September 13, NBC Dateline presented a one-hour “The Perils of Parenting”, one hour, at 10 PM EDT. The show set up reality situations, especially focused on bullying. Kids were told they were applying for parts in a show, when actors showed up and one started teasing the other. The show indicated that while many kids bully and have been bullied, most “stand by” and the reality test showed them how to respond.

The show also spied on kids texting while driving, and also dealt with curfews and situations where parents should come and get kids out of a dangerous situation, no questions asked.

Parents go through dangerous times during the teen years, as teens learn to drive and deal with the unforgiving hazards of life, with teens who (as Dr. Phil puts it) can’t see around corners.

The link is here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Nate Berkus" show premiers today Sept. 13

The Nate Berkus Show premiered today, in Washington DC on NBC Channel 4. Nate had often appeared on Oprah Winfrey, on ABC, and was known as the Style Guru. His main corporate site is here.  But the website name for the show is based just on “Nate”, here

One of his major sponsors is Lowes. It appears that the show may appear on different networks at different times in different cities.

The first project was a kitchen makeover for a would-be schoolteacher.

The second project concerned the color scheme for a bedroom. He would ask a question and ask the customer to paint the answer with a color, like grade school art class! (By the way, brown is really orange!) He said that “black stops the eye.”

He said “Realistically, I cannot go home with everyone as much as I would like to.” (Pun?) He also talked about software that displays Nate’s Brain (not “Donovan’s Brain”) – that is, his “Instant Design Studio” that shows designs in 3D. The software may track back to Intergraph, architectural design software from a Dallas company that was big stuff in the late 1980s (when I lived there).

Nate went to a grade school class on what to wear for the show (sartorial taste). There was a “joke” about when to go to a commercial. He told them that every “boy on TV” wears makeup, even Ironman. He said, “I was born on stage” and there is “nothing wrong with being on TV”. He also introduced a volunteer back-to-school organization “First Day New York” here.

Frazier Moore has an AP story at ABC “Designs for Living Well” about the show here and characterizes it as a “talk show”.

HSN has one of many YouTube previews:

Nate survived the 2004 tsunami and the story is told on the Wikipedia article about him; he has also told the story on Oprah.

If I had my own TV show, it would be hard for me to be that “open” with guests. I guess I like Anderson Cooper’s “Keeping them honest” style.

But, after all, this is major network daytime TV. It’s not CNN.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

PBS Nature: Dogs that Changed the World: How wolves domesticated themselves and became dogs

PBS Nature has a two-part series “Dogs that Changed the World,” the first part of which aired Sunday Sept. 12, link here.

What probably happened to create the dog was that, in eastern Asia 15000 years ago, the wolf domesticated itself. As wolves hung around human settlements, the animals with the shorter flight distance did better and reproduced, and became more like dogs. Tameness has to do with adrenaline and that correlates to other characteristics, making the dog a separate species (partially). The show demonstrated that foxes can be bred for tameness, and tend to develop other characteristics as they are. In a similar manner, small domestic cats probably domesticated themselves. Carnivores that “behaved well” around man and made themselves useful got fed. Much of this comes from the work of Raymond Coppinger at Hampshire University in Massachusetts.

Some parts of the show demonstrated how indispensable dogs are in some cultures, as in New Guinea. In the steep mountains of Englannd’s Lake District, dogs can deal with the terrain and respond to subtle commands from the shepherd, regarding just the last step in a chase (not to kill).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

ABC 20-20: "7 Going on 70": Barbara Walters investigates progeria

On Friday Sept. 10, ABC 20/20 presented a story about progeria (or Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome), a very rare disease where children, starting at about age 2, age very rapidly and can die of senescence by age 13 or so. Only 68 people in the world are known to have it. The episode was called “7 Going on 70”.  The show was hosted by Barbara Walters, herself 80, having recovered impressively from heart valve surgery, and giving every indiction she can work until well in her 90s.

The ABC News Story is “Inside the Lives of Kids With Progeria

Born with a Fatal, Rapid-Aging Disease, Young Girls Live Each Day to the Fullest”, by Joseph Diaz, link here

The disease seems to be caused by a spontaneous mutation in a gene called LMNA but it is not hereditary. There are only 68 known kids in the world with the condition, and only 16 in the US. There are other unrelated hereditary diseases which cause rapid aging in more specific ways.

The show mentioned the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamini Button” where Brad Pitt plays a man born old but who, unlike the disease, ages in reverse into youth, becoming young and vigorous in old age before becoming a baby and dying.

Apparently the disease appears in both sexes, but in the show it was shown in girls. Patients generally develop heart attack and stroke in early teen years.

There is experimental medication to slow the process of aging. Progeria teaches us a lot about the biologically programmed aging process, which for humans seems to make about 115 years as the outer limit of longevity.

Different mammals naturally age at different rates. Generally, larger mammals live longer. Yesterday, when I saw a teenager walking what looked like an older dog, I thought, the dog is bonded to the emerging adult and must have watched a human being’s slow growth, with childhood and adolescence taking most of the lifespan of a dog. The dog seems to understand this and remains bonded, almost as if the dog had been another parent of the kid, not a teen.

Monday, September 06, 2010

PBS airs documentary about architect Daniel Burnham

On Monday, Labor Day, Sept. 6, 2010, PBS aired “Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City”, 60 minutes, link here. It is directed by Judith McBrien, and narrated by Joan Allen.

Daniel Burham was born in upstate New York in 1846, was moved to Chicago in 1854, and became an architect, instrumental in rebuilding Chicago after the great fire of 1871. He formed the architectural firm Burnham & Root, but his partner died of pneumonia at age 41.

He later would plan a Chicago World’s Fair, and then help design the National Mall in Washington, and eventually a new Union Station in Washington (moving the old one off the Mall). He also helped design the Flatiron Building in New York. One of his innovations was the steel frame for the skyscraper.

He was rebuffed in San Francisco after the 1906 quake.

How would he have fit into Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”.

He developed adult onset diabetes and died at 66.

One could compare this film to "My Architect" (2003, about Louis Kahn, directed by his son Nathaniel), and Sony's "Sketches of Frank Gehry" (2005, directed by Sydney Pollack).

YouTube: “The 1909 Plan for Chicago”.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Is NBC's upcoming "The Event" a crossover from ABC's "FlashForward"?; A note on MLB TV and Strasburg

Last night, at a Regal Cinema, I saw a pre-preview for the NBC Series “The Event”, written by Nick Wauters, directed by Jeffrey Reiner.

Apparently an appealing young man played by Jason Ritter goes looking for a missing girl friend and stumbles into a layered conspiracy that is bigger than anything we can imagine. He’s characterized as an “average guy” but gets to pretend to be Clark Kent. And, “What is the Event”? It’s not assassination, it’s not the CIA coup or some right wing (or left wing) plan to take people away to reeducation camps. It’s something “bigger”. The “Event” will change who we are and the way we live forever.

I guess the logical that “it” is an alien landing and alien abduction. “V” perhaps? Or maybe “there really is going to be another blackout”, as if the show were a hidden crossover from ABC’s “FlashForward” last season. (Watch out if you go to a baseball game at Detroit’s Commercia Park. I didn’t see Joseph Fiennes in the preview. And I didn’t see Anna either.)

The NBC series starts Monday Sept. 20. Will it take off like “Heroes”? Well, “FlashForward” disappointed the ratings beancounters, even though I found it had a real hook.

One other thing. In 1997, a young female jogger disappeared near Lander, Wyoming, with tracks that just ended. There was a rumor that "she went up."  I wonder it "The Event" is motivated by that incident. I have a screenplay script (called "Titanium") about a young reporter whose fiancee disappears while jogging in Texas.  There are things about the young reporter's personal life (both gay and straight) that have complicated his relationship with her; but in his "investigation" he discovers a right-wing "re-education Academy" set up in west Texas, and then finds that apparently extraterrestrial or supernatural influences have been brought to bear on the group. Part of the plot has to do with "contraction" of souls into a finite list (rather like past proposals to "contract" the Major Leagues into fewer teams).  I don't know how close to the mark of "The Event" this is. I guess one should not give away too much in blogs (like I do) or in screenwriter groups on Facebook.

On baseball, and TV and video (where almost everything is not available for replay to the public):

The MLB video (ESPN) of Stephen Strasburg’s last pitch in Philadelphia Aug. 21 makes for some interesting “acting.” The link is here.  Note Strasburg’s body language in beckoning management to the mound.

Having finished the Tommy John surgery (with all the preps) they say he will be out 12 months, rehabbing in sunny southern California. Maybe he could host “Saturday Night Live” on NBC in the mean time. (On that show, both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and later Taylor Lautner, still 17, demonstrated tumbling talents on stage.) He’s already done one jokester video, and established himself as a media personality. Looks as effective as an actor as a baseball player.

MLB offers short clips of plays for free viewing, but charges subscriptions for games.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

ABC's "Mind Secrets" shows details of brain surgery, including burst aneurysm

ABC Primetime’s “Secrets of the Mind” showed brain surgery (Thursday, Sept 2).

A woman with neck pain, apparently related to carotid problems, has an aneurysm which ruptures on camera during surgery. The surgeon has three minutes to bring it under control.

A woman with epileptic seizures has delicate brain surgery. Her family, including her six-year old daughter, watch her all the time and plays “mommy.”

A 50 year old woman is raced into surgery with a tennis-ball-sized blood clot causing a coma.

Dr. James Bales at West Virginia University explains all the procedures.

A woman faces the possibility of memory loss because of surgery, but comes through fine.

The broadcast also showed pediatric brain surgery.

Through the workplace, I have personally known of two coworkers whose spouses had brain aneurysms burst.  It can happen suddenly without warning to anyone; sometimes there is severe headache first, sometimes there is instant coma.

This ABC “Secrets of the Mind” series reminds me of a grade school reader. “Streets and Roads” and then “More Streets and Roads”.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Fox series "Fringe" combines "X-Files" with a bit of "Imajica"

The Fox network, in 2008, started a series called “Fringe”, somewhat in the X-Files genre. The creators include J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.

FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Ana Trov) works with an institutionalized (mental patient) “mad scientist” Walter Bishop (John Noble) with his geeky but beefy son Peter (Joshua Jackson) to investigate paranormal events all over the world. The series has experimented with shorter commercials.

On Sept 2 the show reran an episode “The Man from the Other Side”, where the “side” seems to be a wormhole to parallel universes. Teenagers turn up slain with puncture wounds in the soft palate (a gruesome thought), a sign of the “shape shifters.” Then, embryos turn up, and they seem to be partly robotic, gradually turning into beings, in pretty effective transformations .

Toward the end of the episode, Peter, on a hospital bed, tells Walter that he believes he came from a parallel universe and isn’t really Walter’s son.

The trailer for the Fall 2010 season gives us this premise: there exists a parallel universe where the same people or souls operate, with different outcomes, and they can cross over. Our counterparts in the parallel universe can become our enemies. Is this the ultimate expression of the psychiatric “self-handicapping” syndrome?

It’s not the same as Clive Barker’s “Imajica” where the five dominions (in different universes) are different but in some sense complementing worlds. Would “Imajica” make for a similar series? The concept of “Fringe” would be stronger if the worlds could be more different.

The Episode link for the series is here.

The series comes from Bad Robot (“Cloverfield”) and Warner Brothers as well as (20th Century) Fox.

By the way, I haven’t forgotten my favorite “FlashForward.” There’s GOING to be another blackout!

Top picture: how easy it is to simulate a UFO with a digital camera.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Washington DC stations and major news networks cover incident at Discovery Center in Silver Spring, MD

Local Washington DC stations, MSNBC and CNN are covering a hostage situation in the Discovery Center (National Headquarters) in Silver Spring, Maryland on Wednesday, Sept. 1. NBC broke “Days of our Lives” with continued special coverage. The Center is located near the Silver Spring Metro Stop in an area of Silver Spring heavily redeveloped since the 1980s into a modern business and urban residential center.

CNN has an interactive site on the incident here.

The gunman, James J. Lee, 43, is said to have a “Manifesto” (that’s a bad word, now) at this site which seems to be unreachable because of heavy traffic. (This may be a common name; do not confuse with other individuals of the same name.) The man is reportedly making a protest that programming about global warming does not sound the alarm loudly enough. CNN has reported that the contents of the “Manifesto” are apparently very radical, rant-like and extremist. Later, media reported that Lee offered what sounds like an "anti demographic winter" ideology (to counter a notorious theory of the religious Right, often discussed on my own blogs), saying that the planet Earth did not need humans, who should stop reproducing. The "Right" will certainly have a lot to say about this. Lee has also claimed that he was "inspired" by a novel "My Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn, who has told the press he is puzzled by supposed the connection.

There is more information about him at Kanepix, here.

The Discovery Center is often used as one of the sites for AFI film events (hosted at the AFI Silver on Colesville Road, two blocks away), and the Discovery Channel is usually a partner in the Silverdocs festival every June. I do know individuals who have worked for the Discovery Channel as contractors editing content.  I have attended many festival events at the AFI Center, including a Potomac Wire Digital Media conference in 2007.

Streets and pedestrian sidewalks for all residences and businesses in the area are locked or shut down, resulting in traffic delays out to the Beltway. Metro's website is not yet reporting interruptions at the Silver Spring station (as of 4 PM); check it before using the Red Line today.

At 5:40 PM it was reported that Lee was dead, after an exchange with police. Details are pending.

MSNBC has a transcript of a conversation between Lee and an NBC-4 reporter, which was turned over to police well before being released to the public, here. (Nobody claimed journalistic shield here.)

MSNBC continuous feed is here.  Check ongoing news reports for details as to employees in the building.

Sept. 2: Here's a copy of the Manifesto on another source (WSVN-TV). However offensive may some of his specific language be, it isn't hard to imagine the "consequences" of his beliefs. Remember the film "Children of Men"?