Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Apprentice: A lesson in how shows/movies get money from investors

Episode 7 of NBC’s “The Apprentice” (Oct. 28) with Donald Trump gave the teams a chance to “produce” an audition rehearsal of two possible Broadway musicals. The women had “Darling”, a setting of “Peter Pan” in 1929 Boston about the little boy who doesn’t grow up (like “The Tin Drum”?); The men had “Little Miss Fix It”.

The women made a major blunder in failing to print contact information on their brochure for investors. In the boardroom scene, the men came back in to clear up a “rumor” and Donald Trump made a lot of “loyalty”.

But the episode is interesting in that it showed how writers or prospective producers of shows or even movies work to present material to investors. This was certainly noticed by me!

This season of The Apprentice is interesting because the contestants have been laid off during the recession.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Lost": ABC series borrowed from many novels; is it the ancestor of "The Event"?

After getting hooked on “FlashForward” and then “The Event”, I got curious and looked up ABC’s “Lost”, which I had ignored over the years, misconstruing the hype as some kind of reality show. So I checked out Season 1, DVD 1 from Netflix.

Well, rather, it is a dramatic series (running from fall 2004 to spring 2010) somewhat set up in the spirit of a reality show. By now, “everyone” has heard of the premise. The very first episode opens with a young man lying in the weeds or jungle on a tropical island. This is Dr. Jack Shepard, a surgeon, played by Matthew Fox. Pretty soon he comes awake, and walks to the beach to find many other survivors from his recent plane crash. A plane from Sydney to Los Angeles had come down somewhere on a “mysterious island” in the Pacific.

But as we all have heard, this is no ordinary plane crash and no ordinary island, as the survivors soon find out from the “clues”. Some monstrous but unseeable presence them harasses them from the sky, and a polar bear is shot out of the trees. Clues point to previous crashes on the island and other peoples and survivors. Through flashbacks (many to the plane just before the crash), we learn, as the characters do, that they are more interconnected than they had thought.

Ultimately, the series would go off on various tangents, possibly involving time travel and alternate universes. That may be one reason why discussion boards about “The Event” often mention “Lost”. When a series runs so many years and wanders among ideas like this, it seems less focused and therefore less effective than a single sci-fi film or movie franchise (with some sequels) could be. (Yet,

“Lost” was a tremendous ratings success; “FlashForward” was not.)

But there are plenty of precedents. First of all, Jules Verne’s novel “The Mysterious Island” (with at least two films of it). Or the soap opera “Days of our Lives” which, in 2004, transported many of its characters from a fictitious Ohio big city to a tropical island, replicating the city, run by the show’s arch villain. The script itself refers to “Heart of Darkness”, and there is obvious reference to that mandatory high school read, “Lord of the Flies”. (That wouldn’t be a bad idea for an SOL exam essay, to compare all these “island-based” sci-fi works to modern movies and television.)

I’ve always found that sci-fi mysteries that take place on a stage “of the whole world” still offer more interesting speculation than stories set on islands or inaccessible or confined spaces. That is, unless, the people are taken to another planet and find it comparable to our own Earth, but just different in some interesting and critical ways (like always facing the same side toward its sun).

The first DVD has four episodes: “Pilot I”, “Pilot II”, “Tabula Rusa” (“Blank Slate”), and “Walkabout”.

ABC’s URL for the show is this but I couldn’t get it to come up.

Golden Globe award for Season 6:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fox starts World Series in grand style

Well, Fox started the World Series tonight in grand fashion, with an ad co-sponsored by MLB with stirring music worthy of a Ken Burns film.

I don’t know (yet) whether Fox settled its dispute with Cablevision in time for the potential blackouts in some cities to be lifted (see my Network Neutrality blog Oct. 21).

The series opens in San Francisco’s AT&T Park, the most asymmetric of all the “new” parks with the crazy right field (only 309 down the line), and the wonderful view of a very blue Pacific Ocean.

A usually invincible Cliff Lee was knocked out in the 5th. The Giants scored six runs in the 5th to take an 8-2 lead. The game started at 5 PM PDT, when it would normally be harder to see and hit the ball.  There's a rumor that the Washington Nationals could try to sign Cliff Lee as a free agent for the 2011 season.

Tim Lincecum, San Francisco’s 26 year old ace (Wikipedia misstates his DOB at one point) looks boyish an like a hipster on the mound. He started shakily but settled down.

ABC’s “Flash Forward” had a critical scene in Commecia Park in Detroit; NBC’s “The Event” has yet to link up to MLB, but perhaps it will. AT&T Park would be a great place to make movies.

Wikipedia attribution link for AT&T Park; see Wikipedia for old Candlestick Park. When the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958, they played in Seals Stadium for one year, and it was big; the Dodger played in the LA Coliseum, with its 250 foot left field foul line and 40 foot screen. But even the old Giants Polo Grounds in NYC had very short foul lines; remember the Cleveland Indians in 1954 there?  I do. Bobby Thompson's 1951 season winning walkoff homer was a rather skimpy one at that.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oprah presents Va Tech survivor Colin Goddard (with film "Living for 32"), and media blitz on ease of gun purchases

On Monday, Oct. 25, the Oprah Winfrey Show (in its last season) had a show about “the worst days of their lives” and featured Virginia Tech graduate and survivor (of Cho Seung-Hui’s shooting ramage) Colin Goddard.  The main link is here.  Lisa Ling also has an archive of returing to Va. Tech.

Colin was shot four times but played possum and appears to have recovered fully. Three of the bullets are still in his body in less vital areas.

There is a documentary film about Colin “Living for 32”, with a writeup here. It has played in the IFC Theater in Greenwich Village in New York. I don’t see the DVD or Netflix availability yet, but I’ll watch for it. The number "32" refers to the number of fatalities at the April 2007 tragedy.

Colin has dedicated himself to a media campaign to educate the public on how easy it is for unstable or mentally ill people to buy weapons, and how some states, like Virginia, have major loopholes in their gun purchase laws, as with the private gun shows.

I visited Va. Tech in late March 2010.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"The Event": Sean "finds out" but doesn't make the connection yet

Well, tonight, on “The Event” (the episode was called “Loyalty”), Sean (“protecting” his girl friend) finds out about the extraterrestrials having landed in Alaska in 1944; but he doesn’t make the connection that he could be one of them, just a better person. The scene is interesting in another way: a female journalist says she gave up the profession because she couldn't print the truth (right now, a play on the Juan Williams fiasco), where the government has hidden "Truth" from Americans for decades so they would go on shopping. Well, George W. Bush did that after 9/11.

And Sophia takes a journey on the DC Metro, and the filmmakers use the Toronto Metro trains and get some details of the Red Line wrong. Then Sophia somehow contaminates a lot of other people with rads, and goes into a building near Judiciary Square. The building is imploded by the ET technology, creating a scene more like one in “Arlington Road” than 9/11.

We’re not much closer to figuring out what “The Event” is. And we have to wait two whole weeks.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

CNN: "Almighty Debt": 2 Hour documentary film by Soledad O'Brien (in the "Black in America" series)

Almighty Debt: A 'Black in America' Special” is a two hour documentary special on CNN premiering October 23, narrated by Soledad O’Brien.

The documentary traces several families, and makes the point that African Americans did not have the opportunity to earn their own generational wealth because of slavery, which took their labor and augmented the wealth of whites. The show says that about 10% of African Americans are unbanked, and live through payday loans and various quick loan schemes, even though some people accumulate some luxury possessions this way.

The show traces a family facing foreclosure after refinancing twice, because their house is still way underwater.

The show also documents the difficulties of going through the jobs fairs.

The main webpage for the show is here.

It's especially appropriate that CNN aired this show the same weekend that Sony Pictures released "Inside Job" (reviewed today on my movies blog).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

President Obama speaks in Minneapolis; CNN carries it

President Obama told an October, pre-midterm gathering in Minneapolis, “I need you fired up.” He talked about the unfairness or risk of expecting everyone to fend for themselves (Bill Clinton had said the same thing at the 1996 Democratic Convention). Of course, that’s part of his fending off Tea Party challenges to “ObamaCare”. He also went into the “yes, we can” chant.

He mentioned “too many Americans have two or three jobs and still can’t make ends meet”.

I recall attending a Gore rally in Minneapolis in October, 2000. It really isn’t that cold there yet (in 50s there today).

I lived in Minneapolis from 1997-2003. Some of the best days of my life.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NPR's Juan Williams fired over comment on O'Reilly; "The ViewGate II"

On Wednesday, National Public Radio fired contributor Juan Williams, Fox News Political Analyst, over comments he made on “The O’Reilly Factor”. And O’Reilly had himself attracted a firestorm when Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar took offense at his comments and walked off “The View”.

Williams made a comment that he got nervous when getting on a plane and seeing people in certain garb.

The View discussed this incident this morning, and the general impression was that the firing was an overreaction.

There is a difference in the TV business between a “journalist” and a commentator or stand-up performer (including comedian). Journalists are held to very high standards of objectivity. On my “Bill Boushka” blog, I covered CNN’s policy on Aug 2, 3 2008. In some cases, journalists or employees may not even express opinions in public on their own. I have written about this as a management and HR issue on that blog (Sept 6 and Sept 29. 2010).

The story is covered in the Oregonian, by Kristi Turnquist, here.

NBC News story:

News media have since reported that Williams has been offered a lucrative contract by the "conservative" Fox news. It will be more than radio.

Update: From Don Lemon's show on CNN, Oct. 23

An NPR female spokesperson said, "It's long been understood that if you want to be a political activist, you can't be a journalist, at least for NPR. That's long been understood in newsrooms."  The problem is, you could say that about almost management employees. It's a basic principle about "conflict of interest" well known in the HR world but very little litigated.

Maybe Juan should say he is suspicious of the guy who says "The Yankees will win the Super Bowl" (Especially now, since the Yankees lost the ALCS to the Rangers!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BBC, KCET, WB offer a major television series on Auschwitz from 2005

Netflix, station KCET, and Warner Brothers offer a 6-part version of the BBC 2005 series, “Auschwitz: The Nazis and the ‘Final Solution’”, titled “Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State”, directed by Laurence Rees, with Linda Hunt doing much or the narration.

I actually visited Auschwitz-Birkenau myself in May, 1999, driven there from Krakow by a cab who waited, having taken a night train East from Berlin the night before, quite an experience. I remember the “Arbeit macht frei” sign and many of the artefacts that remain.

The early part of the series traces the history, in which the camp was built on what had been there before, but the Nazi plans for a “solution” did not develop until a little later. Nevertheless, over one million persons were murdered there, many from Hungary. Also, the early part discusses Nazi policy against some native Germans, which could involve doctors separately signing off on euthanasia of the disabled (the "useless eaters" as said in the film).

In 1944 or so, Nazi soldiers looked at the camp as a “comfortable” duty station, and there was even a brothel for a time.

The last episode looks at liberation, and how many prisoners returned home to eastern Europe to find that the Communists had expropriated their former property. In some cases, individuals who had “worked” at Auschwitz were hunted down themselves.

The DVD’s have an interview with the director, who offers an interesting perspective on individual accountability for participating in the atrocities. Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany were substantially different, he says. In Russia, people were targeted randomly and plagues by a “snitch” mentality known in today’s gang problems. In Nazi Germany, ordinary “Aryan” Germans often lived with a kind of limited freedom (although the disabled and aged were sometimes threatened, as narrated in the first part, and people were almost required to have children). Therefore, Rees says, there is more to answer for in terms of individual accountability; it’s not always true that “I was doing what I was told.”

Rees also says that early national socialism was a bit anti-intellectual, and the Jews were seen as spoiled and over-educated, and enemies of “average Joe” Germans.

Linda Ellerbee, herself born in 1944, conducts a panel discussion and says she never heard of the Holocaust until about 1960. One of the panelists says “don’t be a perpetrator, bystander, or victim.” That sounds like the case with bullying today.

One of the panels compares Nazism to other genocides, even in the United States, as against native Americans and even the imported slaves, as well as to genocide today, such as in Darfur or Rwanda.

One of the panelists discusses defending a lawsuit by a “Holocaust denier”, taken to Britain under “libel tourism.”

See also my review of "Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today" on my movies blog, Oct. 9, 2010.  This BBC series does cover the Eichmann trial at Nuremberg but then follows up with the 1963 trial of some more war criminals, with life sentences. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

"The Event" and "Smallville" have the same kind of heroes, just not the same enemies

The Event” tonight represents “The Sum of all Fears” (with all of Affleck's "really bad information"). Thomas has the passengers as ransom, all dying of an Ebola-like agent, offering the antidote if the president lets Sofia’s people go. Sofia has become a female Moses.

The negotiation at the end of the episode is like a Cuban Missile Crisis II. And they’re going to use the DC Metro Red Line; hope it's not doing single tracking, holding up their rendez-vous.

The president could let them go, because in war there are casualties. Or the president could pump carbon monoxide into the detention camp (imitating the Nazis in WWII).

We find out that the visitors gave the Allies nuclear fission in 1944, to end the War.

Sean’s rescue of his girl friend, threatening to go viral with one of “their” secrets from his cell phone (a variation of the sexting issue), is unbelievable. Only someone with powers could do this.

On "Smallville X" Friday, Clark (Tom Welling) went to a 5-year high school reunion (too bad he didn’t finish college; at least Sean did), and the “Brainiac” mapped out his future. Again, we seem to have the idea of wormholes and other universes; Clark got here, after all, by manipulating space time around him (that’s how he gets his powers). Wouldn’t we want to have access to all time instances in our lifetimes. But Nature will keep it’s time arrow intact.

Smallville also had a great quote from the Green Arrow: we’ve replaced leaders with armchair bloggers. True.

Even though “Smallville” and “The Event” are worlds apart in style (NBC has little interest in comics – I worked there once, remember), their heroes are similar, and the underlying concepts may be closer than we had thought. But Thomas is no Lex Luthor.

I think Clark would know how to pull off the "anti reputation defender" trick on the web, just as Sean does tonight. It seems to me that "Event" has a much more trackable hero than did ABC's "FlashForward" so maybe it will survive better. ("The Event" is also giving us the big clues earlier than did the ABC series; maybe a lesson learned for writers.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

CNN airs Delaware Senate race debate

On Saturday afternoon at 4 PM, CNN re-aired a Wednesday night (Oct. 13) debate, hosted by Wolf Blitzer (CNN Situation Room), between the two candidates for the special Deleware Senate race to replace Biden, between Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell and Democrat Chris Coons.

The site for the race is here.

O’Donnell said the debate should be over actual health care: allow policy portability across state lines, tort reform, and medical records automation. (Another measure could be to use emergency rooms less and urgent care more.) Coons opposed any tort reformor caps on liability that would take away redress of medical malpractice victims. Tort reform was not included in the Affordable Care act this year.

O’Donnell opposes making purchase of health insurance mandatory. Blitzer posed a hypothetical situation that could occur if someone able to buy insurance doesn’t and winds up in the emergency room. She said, give the care and make them pay it, but she said Democrats were using scare tactics to make everyone buy insurance. “Nobody should be forced to pay for anyone else’s health care”, she said; but Democrats say we all are paying for the uninsured.

Coons said that illegal immigrants should get a second chance in some cases (a “Pathway to Legal Residence”), by paying a fine and getting in the back of the line to become citizens.

Blitzer raised the question as to whether China could become an enemy again. They talked about the "gasoline embargo".  She said that Iran's getting nuclear weapons would be the biggest possible threat to our national security, and said that China has not gotten in bed with North Korea. She talked about our monetary debt to China. Blitzer raised the question as to classified information on China's intentions.

The debate was opened to questions from students from the University of Delaware. The first question was about repealing "Don't ask don't tell".  Coons said Congress should repeal it immediately, and O'Donnell said that personnel policy in the military should be left from the military and that judges shouldn't legislate from the bench.

Another student asked about embryonic stem cell research. O'Donnell said that the emphasis should be on adult stem cells, and that life should not be created just to destroy it (like in the movie "Never Let Me Go"). Then there was a question on abortion in the case of violence.

Delaware is called "The Blue Hen State".

Saturday, October 16, 2010

NBC's "School Pride": Student volunteer brigades renovate their own schools

NBC has a quasi-reality series “School Pride” on Friday nights at 8 PM EDT. On October 15, the show depicted a green renovation of Enterprise Middle School in Compton, CA.

The kids were all involved as a group in “volunteer brigades”, in a goal defined by the group. One of the teachers said that teaching involves being a surrogate parent. The principal often appeared.

The show has the feel of Trump’s “Apprentice”, with funky music and fast moving action. Perhaps Donald Trump could build an Apprentice episode around a school renovation.

There was a leader who resembled Ty Pennington. At the end, Governor Schwarzenegger came for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Microsoft and People Magazine were among sponsors.

The finished science classroom showed a model of the Solar System.

Here is a clip from NBC, the station in Burbank, CA.

View more news videos at:

Picture: New Washington-Lee High School in Arlington VA; I graduated from there in 1961; class reunion for me next year.

ABC 20-20: Bullied to Death: Victims' Stories

ABC 20-20 presented a one hour special Friday Oct. 15, “Bullied to Death: Victims' Stories”. Chris Cuomo hosted. He says that 160000 kids don’t go to (public) school every day because of a fear of bullies.

The first part of the show presented the story of Tyler, a 14 year old with Asperger’s. Later Cuomo interviewed a couple of people, a boy and girl, who had been bullies. There reasons were superficial: they feared that others would bully them, or they thought they were being “cool”. The show covered the inability and/or unwillingness of school administrators to face the problem, as administrators say they can’t watch everything, and “kids will be kids.” An education department official said that administrators may fear they lack the legal authority to intervene, particularly because gays are not included as protected classes, or because the incidents occur off campus.

The report covered bullying by girls, one against a girl because she was “pretty”.

It also covered bullying online, which in a Long Island case led to kids being stalked and attacked outside their homes.

In Arlington and Fairfax counties, where I substitute taught from 2004-2007, there was little obvious bullying, except in a few situations involving lower income and special education students. At most schools it was not tolerated. However, in one special ed class in middle school, a special ed student was attacked by others, and I had to call security. I was banned from the school for having discipline problems (blame the sub rather than address the problems with security and parents). Severe high school problems were rare, but severe problems occurred in one low-income class where boys who seemed to be gang members deliberately bothered others. These problems were enough to drive me ot of subbing. School systems do not know how to handle the worst problems.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Joy Behar walks off "The View" when O'Reilly offends her; she runs right to Jesse Ventura on her own show

Joy Behar walked off “The View” on Oct. 14 (with Whoopi Goldberg) after being offended by Bill O’Reilly’s comments regarding the Mosque controversy in New York. The “Ministry of Gossip” in the Los Angeles Times gives a pretty good account, here. O’Reilly’s was described as a “pinhead moment”. Later on her own Joy Behar show, former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura called O’Reilly a spineless “p…”.

They came back after a partial apology by O’Reilly.

This all reminds me of a cell phone call I got from an assistant principal about this time in 2005 when I had given on a piece of paper a link to my domain to a teaching intern to make a point about free speech and campaign finance reform, and how they could conflict. I lost that gig. The assistant principal said “She was offended by it.” Later, “very offended”. It would turn out there was more to the story.

Joy Behar has her own blog about her show on CNN’s site, here.  It keeps getting changed, but it’s pretty progressive, to say the least.

I missed this squabble; I was in Oberlin, OH at the time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CNN provides live coverage of the Copiapo Mine Accident in Chile

CNN is offering almost continuous coverage of the Chile mine rescue (from the Copiapo Mine Accident) this evening, starting with Larry King Live and continuing through AC360.

The media have reported on the narrowness of the rescue module, which can bring up only one miner at a time. Men have been in darkness, in closed quarters, with small food rations, without sunlight, without routine exposure to germs, for weeks. Jesse Ventura was interviewed by Larry King and compared it both to his Seals training and to naval submarine service. Ventura also suggested that the screening of people (men?) for mining jobs should be like that of submariners. (Ventura is the author of "Conpsiracy Theory" and discussed Plum Island tonight. The New York Native used to associate Plum Island with AIDS conspiracies in the 1980s; see book review blog March 21, 2010.)

Other medical issues could include motion sickness from the rotation of the capsule, with aspiration of vomitus; also kidney failure. 

The choice of whom to come up first is a sensitive issue.  The first rescue started at about 10:20 PM EDT. The first of the 33 miners was up by 11:30 PM. 

The capsule was designed by Chilean submarine engineers.

ABC Nightline covered this tonight as "The Greatest Rescue".  It says miners drank salt water to combat nausea. 

The main page offers live CNN video.

The coverage is rather like that of a “live” docudrama movie, maybe 24 hours long.

The oldest miner is 63, the youngest is 18.  A few of the strongest came out first, to make sure the process works.

As of 7:30 AM EDT Oct 13, 9 miners had been rescued.

The rescue takes place in the Atacama desert, one of the driest places on Earth.

Here is a sample of ABC Nightline coverage:  More will follow.

Wikipedia attribution link for aerial survey of mine

Monday, October 11, 2010

"The Event": now Sean is a geek, but with social skills

Well, Episode 4 of “The Event” (“A Matter of Life and Death”) gives Sean a chance to tell the story of his fractured family background. There’s no clue as to how he got to be so capable. It seems that he is a techie, a kind of Mark Zuckerberg with social skills (say those of Justin Timberlake), as he and the FBI agent that he “took” track down a safe house.

The plane disappearance victims wake up, then start bleeding out as if they had Ebola.

I still think Sean and his girl friend are “among them”.

Not sure why he missed the cell phone call.

As to “The Event”, the general consensus on the Web seems to be some Armageddon that only a few survive, and the visitors are from the future, ready to help the world recover. There’s kind of a problem with the “time arrow” paradox with this idea, though. Why do the visitors need to demonstrate “their power”? If those who have escaped and infiltrated are so powerful, why can’t the free themselves from the original arctic prison? Maybe it’s only the biological kids of the visitors who have powers (sort of a “demographic winter” premise popular with the Right).

I wonder what the moment of Truth will be like when Sean finds out his true nature?

Episode 4 aired on a day when scientists announced that the "Big One" on the San Anreas Fault wll be much bigger than we ever imagined.

Believe me, there's going to be another blackout.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

CNN: "Bullying, No Escape" townhall on Anderson Cooper 360

On Friday, Oct. 8, AC360 hosted a one-hour town hall called “Bullying No Escape”, with Dr. Phil, Joseph Patchin of the Cyberbullying Research Center, Rosalind Wiseman (“Queen Bees and Wannabees”), sponsored by the Cartoon network and People Magazine. About ten kids participated in the discussion. The show concluded a week in which Anderson had a discussion of bullying every evening.

One kid said he had bullied because it made him feel “powerful”. Another said that other kids felt pressured to bully to avoid being bullied themselves. They talked about the “anit-snitch” mentality.

Although much bullying has to do with perceived sexual orientation, not all does.

There are many “properties” that some people have that other may find “morally” objectionable, but in a civil society these matters should not be mentioned in the workplace or school, nor should people be singled out online.

Kids may pick up on particular ideas about how a social group is supposed to function.  Dr. Phil pointed out that teens are not mature enough to understand the consequences or implications of their actions.

Dr. Phil hit the cyberbullying issue hard, indicating that the digital record follows the person home and does not go away. Dr. Phil’s son Jay has written a book on bullying; my book review blog has a review Oct. 3, 2008.

I experienced some teasing and a little physical bullying myself in junior high school (grades 7-9 in the 1950s); I developed the belief that I was not "competitive" with respect to other males.  No, this wasn't all right.

Friday, October 08, 2010

"The Apprentice" offers two "short films" on Popcorn Indiana

On Thursday Oct. 7, Donald Trump aired a particularly interesting episode (#4) of “The Apprentice”, where the task was filmmaking. The client was Popcorn Indiana (site , which describes the video contest), and the two teams (girls and boys) were supposed to produce competitive videos that would go viral on the Web.

The Women produced an a video where people (largely men) ate the popcorn while working out at a spa; the Men produced a PG popcorn fight. The men won. (One of the men was down; he broke a tooth on a bagel after a root canal. That’s life.)

There was some minor attention to good filmmaking – shooting and editing – technique. One could think of the episode as having offered two short films.

But what was interesting was the idea that viral spread on the Web is still considered a good thing by business, at least by Trump. That’s an interesting observation in these days of “online reputation defense” and googling job applicants.

As for the video: notice the gams.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

TBS treats cable viewers to MLB playoff tripleheader to open league championships

Well, TBS gave its cable viewers their subcription’s worth yesterday with a tripleheader of the baseball playoffs. TBS is the Turner Broadcasting System, so it sounds appropriate that Atlanta is in, today.

Texas at Tampa Bay looked a little humdrum inside the domed stadium in St. Petersburg, but, having lived in Dallas in the 1980s, it’s good to see the Rangers become a bit dominant. The Devil Rays were a doormat until a few years ago. It’s good to see how quickly teams turn around. The Detroit Tigers have done it, winning only 43 games in 2003 while playing in their own Commercia Park (as in ABC’s FlashForward). The Nationals can take heed, and might sign Cliff Lee next year.

But the treat of the day was the no-hitter by Ray Halladay, thrown by the Phillies pitcher at home (Philadelphia has one of the best of the new parks), in a twilight game, the first series no-hitter since Don Larsen in 1956, when I was 13.

In the third game, the Yankees were like the Yanks of 1978 (my last year in New York), coming from behind on the road to beat the Twins, 6-4. The Twins, remember, were the inept Washington Senators back in the 1950s, with the 18 game losing streak in 1959. I lived in Minneapolis 1997-2003 and didn’t think the Metrodome was so bad.  The Twins management and MLB insisted, however, that the Twins would be gone (from this "small market area"-- really?) if the city and state didn't build a modern baseball-only stadium, outdoors (it is not as cold in Minnesota most of the time as people think).  But the new Target field is a gem. I like the asymmetry, with the higher right field wall, and balcony overhang, that apparently can catch some extra homers. It all reminds one of backyard baseball in the 1950s.

Too bad you can’t embed MLB, as it is one of the most jealous sites about copyright.

Wikipedia attribution link for Target Field picture.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

PBS American Masters: Elia Kazan

On October 5, PBS American Masters aired a one hour documentary about film director Elia Kazan, and followed it with a half hour commentary by various Hollywood veterans (including Alec Baldwin), including discussion of his actors’ studio. The link is here.

A good part of the documentary dealt with the 1955 Cinemascope film “East of Eden”, with the “Cain and Abel” story embedded in pre World War I California, with a great line between the father and the Dean character. The music score is by Leonard Rosenman, but the music sounds exactly like the climax of Alban Berg’s opera “Wozzeck”.

There is also a lot of attention to “On the Waterfront”.

Kazan’s own personal favorite film was “America, America” paralleling an immigration story in his own family.

I would like the documentary to have spent more time on the 1961 film “Splendor in the Grass”, which figured in strategically into my lost fall semester of 1961 at the College of William and Mary. The documentary showed only one scene, the opening kissing scene near the waterfall. The film appeared the last weekend of October, the same as homecoming. The heroine winds up in a mental institution after forlorn love, a plot oddly prescient of what would happen to me.

On this YouTube video from Philfash, Abraham Polonsky and Bob Reed discuss the Macarthy era blacklist and why their unhappiness with Elia Kazan’s receiving a lifetime achievement award

Monday, October 04, 2010

"The Event": Is Sean Walker "one of them" and does he even know it?; Same question about his girl friend and her father!

Well, as to the theories for NBC’s “The Event”, “here it is”. At least, I think, Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) is “one of them”. He doesn’t know it yet. Somehow, he is a biological descendant of one of the aliens and was raised well to be a good person, like Clark Kent. I guess he will stay forever young, relatively speaking.

Who are the aliens? Three major possibilities, or maybe four. (1) They come from the future (The 4400, already been there, done that, as at American Military University); (2) They come from a parallel universe through a wormhole, the Hawking theory (I think that happens on Fox’s “Fringe”); (3) They come from a nearby solar system’s Earth 2, like “Gliese 581 g”. If beings like us had multiples of our own life spans and could make a 20 light year journey in maybe 100 elapsed years (plausible), they could have been here during the building of the Pyramids (Van Daniken, etc.) or Tiahuanoco; they may want to “come home”; (4) They are angels, or some sort of spirit-realm beings in the flesh, but that sounds a bit like parallel worlds. Clive Barker’s theory in his novel “Imajica” about “reconciled dominions” may make sense here. Of course, that would make Sean an angel, and angels would follow certain kinds of rules (and not get into the World Series). It would be interesting for a young man to find out that he is an angel.

Oh -- I forgot -- maybe Sean himself jumped into an alternate universe, somehow.

And another OK (this is "fun with Dick and Jane", isn't it) -- probably Sean's girl friend is "one of them" and doesn't know it (why else would they kidnap and hold her?) as is her father -- but somehow so is Sean. That's why they were attracted to one another.  Sean's ability to outwit every challenge seems to rival that of a Clark Kent.  Only Superman can do that.

The revival of all the plane crash victims is interesting. Are they somehow transformed?

I still don’t have much of a read on exactly what “The Event” is. Maybe it's The Rapture of the Believers (but that's alreaydy been a movie). Is it post-tribulation or pre-tribulation?

There are supposed to be multiple seasons of this show. But there's going to be another blackout before they run.

Buzzfocus provides a YouTube interview with Jason Ritter, who says that none of the actors know much of what lies ahead (or beneath).  Only Nick Wauters knows for sure, and it is "not random."  One thing all science fiction and mystery novel authors (and their literary agents) know: it's easy to propose a "what if..?" situation, but you have to know exactly where you want to go with it to prepare a plot and character driven story. AP English teachers, take notice.

CNN: "The Empowered Patient": a stroke victim in the California Sierra gets help just in time

This weekend CNN aired a one hour documentary “The Empowered Patient”. The point of the show is that patients need to be very pro-active to get the best care, and families sometimes have to become very proactive, questioning the medical establishment, in care for elders.

One segment in the show involved a man who had a stroke in a snowbound area of the Sierra Nevada. The sheriff came and called for a helicopter, and a nurse made a decision to fly him to a hospital more than 100 miles away to where the clot-busting drug TPA was available. He did get to the hospital in three hours, and the TPA did start to reverse his one-side paralysis in about twenty minutes.

Another segment concerned a school-age girl struck in the head with a baseball. The hospital wanted to release her, but the parents insisted on more tests. She was found to have a “Ben Casey”-style subdural hematoma.

There is a book “The Empowered Patient”, by Julia A. Hallisy, link here.

A typical CNN video from the show is “Choosing the Right Hospital”

Sunday, October 03, 2010

CNN SIU: "Right on the Edge: The New Conservatives"

On Saturday Oct. 2, CNN aired a one hour documentary from the “Special Investigations Unit”: “Right on the Edge: The New Conservatives” about “investigative journalism” and “propaganda” on the Right, ranging from the tea party to the social conservatives. The documentary covered Hannah Giles, James O’Keefe (who spied “illegally” on ACORN), Lila Rose, Christian Hartsock (a "conservative" filmmaker), Jason Mattera, and anti-gay pundit Ryan Sorba, whose presence on the show was unpleasant.  A couple of the "journalists" went undercover pretending to look for "entertainment" or abortions.  The mainstream media has let them down. They're "rock stars" of the movement.

A female CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau avoided a setup “punk” involving a boat ride in the Chesapeake Bay.

The program was produced by Scott Zamost, who offers this discussion link

Friday, October 01, 2010

ABC 20-20 covers questions on mainstream Islam

ABC 20/20 on October 1 did a report on mainstream Islam in the United States, with Diane Sawyer.

There was some discussion of theology, that both Islam and Judaism accept Jesus as a prophet but not as a “son of God”, and have a philosophy of justice that requires personal atonement before forgiveness (through Grace as in Christianity).

Some of the passages that supposedly justify more radical practices may come from the Bible rather than the Koran, and others are related more to tribal practices in various countries.

Diane Sawyer also has a Q&A here.

The new law in France banning the wearing of a burqa was discussed, as a conservative French legislator said that one’s face is part of one’s identity “necessary for liberty.”

The show also showed moderate female Muslims receiving threats. The show introduced Irshad Manji, author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith

ABC also introduced Rebbiah Beddoon as a Muslim football player among mostly Christian teammates.