Thursday, March 31, 2016

CNN starts the 2-hour pilot for The Eighties with a tribute to itself

CNN started the series “The Eighties” tonight, March 31, 2016, with a two-hour special, focused on the growth of television in the decade. That follows the way CNN had introduced series on the 60s and 70s.

The long episode seemed excessive, as the political and social issues (most of all, HIV, but also the fall of the Berlin Wall, Chernobyl, the Challenger, and other big events) have to wait for later.
Walter Cronkite resigned in early 1981, and major changes happened at all networks.  But CNN had been founded in Atlanta, and to everyone’s surprise, a news channel took off.  As the decade began, media was “trusted” and news reporting tended to be concise, often only fifteen minutes.  (That I don’t recall – but since I was working I usually wasn’t home for news.)

Television got more “creative” (borrowing ideas from daytime soap opera and gravitating toward reality TV)  as the show “Dallas” started out the decade – I had moved to Dallas myself in 1979.  SNL got started, as some skit about Bush-Dukakis were shown. Yet, televisions series in the 80s, for my recollection, weren't as memorable as the big grand films of the decade. "80s" is still a style of epic filmmaking.

I recall how effective PBS was getting, particularly covering AIDS and other health issues, and also covering the growth of the PC and introducing Steve Jobs.   I remember recording some programs on a Beta VCR, which was clumsy to use.  I also remember the disco music of the era, and miss it.

Local television stations tended to communicate more with the public, even the gay community. I was able to get letters about AIDS read on WFAA.  I also remember a weather man Harold Taft and his tornado coverage, when the barometer “was just too low”.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"Saudi Arabia Uncovered" on PBS Frontline

Tuesday, March 29, PBS Frontline offered the 50-minute documentary “Saudi Arabia Uncovered”, directed by James Jones, basic link here.

The film shows the living conditions of the poor in the kingdom, and conditions have deteriorated rapidly as oil prices have dropped and as the kingdom can no longer afford free services for everyone.  Actual slums with street sewage were depicted.

Western visitors rarely see the cities (especially the capital Riyadh), which were shown in expanse, with emphasis on the monotony of a lot of the low rise concrete buildings. The malls look luxurious, but religious police harass unescorted women and arrest teenagers trying to enjoy music, which is seen as a forbidden indulgence by Wahhabism.

The documentary covered the plight of blogger and writer Raif Badawi  in Saudi prison, under brutal circumstances, for ten years for criticizing the regime.  His family secured asylum in Quebec.

The documentary also covers the taking of power by King Salman, who seems to be keeping the powers of the old monarchy intact despite “promises” of moderation.

The documentary also covered Abdullah al-Zaher, now 19, sentenced to death as a “terrorist” for participating in a protest rally at age 15.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Riyadh by “Nora Alsh2”, under CCSA 4.0, claiming that the Saudi capital is among the 50 safest cities in the world.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

BBC's "The Real Anne Lister", biography of a 19th Century wealthy English lesbian, and her own Rosetta Stone

BBC-Oxford has a television documentary “The Real Anne Lister”, directed by Matthew Hill and narrated by Sue Perkins (2010, 58 min).  This is a biography of the lesbian English businesswoman (1791-1840)  who left the world her autobiography in a 4-million word diary, much of it in code that had to be decrypted.

The secret part dealt with her life as a lesbian, even finally having an Anglican gay marriage (in effect) in 1833 with Ann Walker, where Lister regarded herself as the husband. A descendant decoded the work in the late 1890s, and, homosexual himself, was afraid to let it become public, as homosexuality was a crime at the time (Oscar Wilde, all the way to the time of Alan Turing).  In the 1930s, a British librarian refused to release it, in the aftermath of the scandal over the lesbian novel “The Wall of Loneliness” by Rebecca Hall”. In the 1960s the town of Halifax still had control over whether her memoirs could be published (an odd notion today given US law about freedom of speech, which did not apply in Britain).  They could not be published until 1988.  The diaries are thought of as "The Rosetta Stone of 19th Century Lesbianism".
It's perplexing why older societies could not afford to even let homosexuality be spoken about, as if doing so would spoil the marriage experience for everyone.

Lister had sent the diaries to another female friend, Eliza, who would be put in an asylum for her inability to adapt to the demands of the world, and die forgotten.

Lister had been sent to a private school and would be expelled because of her own behavior regarding Eliza. But to some extent, affection among women had been permitted if stayed within a certain area of sentimentality, which men saw as preparing them for marriage.

She became rich when she inherited her uncle’s estate, because there was no male heir. She became an astute businesswoman in the growing British coal industry.

She would travel to Russia and die of a tick-borne plague.

Wikipedia attribution link for photo of Halifax by Mr. Barndoor, under CCSA 3.0

I have a secret diary with all the names coded by private abbreviations.

Monday, March 28, 2016

"Race for the White House": Dewey doesn't beat Truman in 1948

Sunday night’s fourth episode of “Race for the White House” on CNN covered  Truman v Dewey in 1948 (best link ).

I was born in 1943, and my parents had a two-bedroom apartment in Buckingham in Arlington in 1948. We would move to a house in October 1949.  I was hardly aware of the shortages that persisted after WWII.

Republicans won a majority in Congress in 1946, and were supposed to help block the lock of labor unions leading to supply shortages.  But with Truman they became a “do nothing” Congress.  Truman tried to prove that by calling them back on special session at the end of July 1948.  The film shows old model cars parked right at the Capitol.

Dewey led in the early polls, and thought he could ride on the idea that government should do what it had been “elected” to do.  Both candidates went on major train tours.

Truman started to cut into the lead near election day, and even claimed that the Republicans were trying to set up fascism (the old “F” word) comparable toe Hitler’s. Later Truman says he'll make those Republicans like eating their vegetables.
Truman went to bed before learning he had won.  There was even a false predictive headline from the Chcago Daily Tribune, “Dewey defeats Truman”.  Another such gaffe would not happen until 2000 when the media predicted Gore had taken Florida in the race with George W. Bush.
In kindergarten, in 1949, parents tried to take the entire class to both the White House and Capitol and found them both closed to visitors.  I remember that day and disappointing field trip from my childhood.  Truman was still president then.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Bill Weir visits Iceland on his Wonder List; controversies about lack of marriages, and about whaling industry

Bill Weir visited “Iceland” for his episode of “The Wonder List” on CNN, with link here. The country has a homogeneous population of only 300,000 and is often a convenient stop-over on low cost flights to Europe from the U.S.

Several aspects of the report are controversial. One is that Iceland, while prosperous has one of the highest rates of unwed mothers in the world. Many couples raise children without marriage, and some form communal households with more than one mommy or daddy, even within a heterosexual setting.  When people do marry, they often invite ex romantic partners. There is no jealousy.
The country has the highest rate of females in government also.

Another controversial part of the report was the whaling business, with a character like a modern day Ahab running a family business.  Iceland does have quotas for whales, but sells whale meat to Japan for dog food, and serves whale products in some restaurants.

The film did show the stunning scenery, including a pristine volcanic late that straddles both North American and European plates.

Iceland was hit by the financial crisis in 2008 when some major banks failed.

Wikipedia attribution link for public domain picture of geothermal power plant by Gretar Ivarsson

Saturday, March 26, 2016

"Billions" on Showtime, not as engaging as other similar films and series

Billions”, a new series on Showtime, may gave the look of “Revenge” but some of the subject matter of “The Big Short”.  The series was created by Brian Koppelman, David Levien, and Andrew Ross Sorkin.

As the Pilot (Jan. 17, 2016) opened, US attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamitti) lay on his Manhattan brownstone floor, shirtless, while a woman cigarette-burned his chest hair and then urinated on it. But soon we learn that the woman is his wife Wendy (Maggie Siff), as the couple enjoys S+M marital sex. At least his brain is larger than a chickpea.
Wendy is a psychiatrist who works with Wall Street high rollers whom Rhoades investigates. She makes eight times as much money as he does, and that would please Donald Trump.  One of her clients, at least indirectly, is Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis), the only members of his trading firm to survive the 9/11 attacks.  While big on philanthropy, he makes his billions on some legally questionable trading and shorting practices.

Much of the episode is actually shot on Long Island, with an estate right out of the “Revenge” series, but in winter, around super Bowl time, with plenty of snow around. Axelrod spends most of the time in his Hamptoms home and works there, having a highly elaborate safe and infrastructure in his home.

The official site is here.  Showtime offers its own subscription service, by for Xfinity seems to cover it in a normal way. The episode, a full 59 minutes, is shown without commercial interruption, which is welcome.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"The Magicians": Grossman's novel on SyFy comes across as a combination of "Harry Potter" and "Smallville"

I heard discussion of the fantasy novel “The Magicians”, by Lev Grossman, at a book club in Arlington VA last night, with the comment that there is a waiting list for the book at the county library, odd to hear in the age of Amazon.

So I checked the StFy Channel (and Showcase) series by that name, and watched the pilot, “Unauthorized Magic”, directed by Mike Cahill, written by Sera Gamble and John McNamara, which had premiered Dec. 15, 2015.  It is not easy to keep up with everything. The Pilot runs about 80 minutes with commercials.

The premise is simple enough.  A young man, graduating from Columbia in New York City, gets invited to apply to a prestigious graduate school, a bit mysterious.  It turns out to be a modern Hogwarts, a school in magic.  So is the idea to make up a Harry Potter for young adults?
The grad student is Quentin Coldwater, played by Jason Ralph, who, for better or worse, fits a cultural idea of an attractive young adult white male with ancestors from pre-Saxon England.  (So did Tm Welling as Clark Kent, when Tom was younger.) When we walks into the campus, he doesn’t realize he has been teleported to upstate New York (maybe Sullivan County) for the campus.  The “entrance exams” are interesting.  The questions keep changing (but that could be done with electronics anyway).  It seems he has to work some calculus problems – maybe some integration by partial fractions.  I thought, they could have cast Deven Ware from Stanford AoPS (the math problem solving team) for this part.  Quentin soon meets a tall student named Elliot (Hale Appleman) who, unfortunately, impersonates a young version of the X-Files’s Cigarette-Smoking-Man.

Later we learn that students who fail have their memories of the place wiped (the way it is for surgery with general anesthesia – “boohoo”).  But Quentin prevails, getting very good at card tricks art first. So what, he could go to Las Vegas and get thrown out for counting cards (like in the 2008 movie “21”).

There are some behavior restrictions.  Quentin has to turn in his meds, as a crutch, like I did at NIH in 1962, and then again in Army Basic in 1968.  The Dean says otherwise he would be like a diabetic eating sugar pills.

Other ideas come up, some cosmetically disturbing.  One is that you can open a door with a forearm tattoo as an encrypted key.  Is body art going to become a mandatory part of security biometrics?

There is an eye removal and a decapitation in the last scene; where does it go?

Still this series has its own world, different from Potter, different from “Imajica” (which I hope is getting made now, maybe in New Zealand).

As for powers, I;ve actually seen "them" at least once -- instant self-teleportation or "speed".  Can't explain it.

The official site is here.

Monday, March 21, 2016

"Race for the White House": Bush-Dukasis, 1988

Sunday night, CNN aired the third episode of “Race for the White House”, with the 1988 Bush v. Dukasis race, with the most important link here.

I had moved back to DC from Texas, was in a much smaller apartment in Arlington, and remember the race on a relatively small TV.  I recall George H W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” and “thousand points of light”.  Dukasis seemed unfocused – as an episode where he rides in a tank shows (this was still five years before “don’t ask, don’t tell”).  The Willie Horton affair would peg Dukasis as soft on crime.  A question on the death penalty in a debate ambushed Dukasis, who gave a rather unemotional response.

Bush would have to throw off the stain of Reagan’s confessions about the Iran contra affair.

Strategist Lee Atwater, still in his 30s, was often shown.  What would follow in early 1990 is now shown, when Lee Atwater collapsed at a meeting and was found to have an aggressive brain tumor.
 He would survive only one year, mostly in a wheel chair, convert to Catholicism, and write about his experience as humbling after the go-go 80s.
This was an era of a lot of hostile takeovers on Wall Street, and the Savings and Loan scandal in Texas.  The Internet was around the corner (it already existed but was quite restricted until 1992).

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Dateline: "Reversal of Fortune": bizarre murder case involving the staircase death of a bisexual novelist

NBC Dateline’s Saturday Night Mystery, “Reversal of Fortune”, combined a lot of elements:  prosecutorial misconduct, a book author, bisexuality, and even one of Hitchcock’s films.
Michael Peterson is the author of some reputedly violent war books, including “The Immortal Dragon”, “Charlie: Two Shoes and the Marines of Love Company”, “A Time of War”, and “A Bitter Peace” (source ). They seem to have military themes, which itself is interesting ("DADT").

 The Dateline episode, described in Inquisitr, focused on the death of his second wife who fell down stairs on Dec. 9, 2001, when the couple was living near Durham, NC in a mansion, and had accumulated a lot of debt.  Apparently Peterson was able to live off of his novels.  Because the death resembled the death of an earlier wife in Germany in 1985, the police became suspicious, exhumed an earlier body (buried in Texas) and built a case.  Peterson had claimed this was a simple fall (like in “Gone with the Wind”) but aided by overuse of prescription drugs.

One of the motives had to do with Peterson’s hiring male escorts.  According to him, his wife knew of his bisexuality, and they still had a good marriage sexually.  One escort from Raleigh (who looked familiar, from my own visits to the area) testified.

75 minutes into the 2 hour episode, we learn of the jury’s guilty verdict after 4 days of deliberation, on circumstantial evidence.

Although efforts to get a new trial fail at first, eventually the defense is able to show hiding of evidence, and Peterson was released in 2012, under house arrest, pending a new trial.

One of the theories came right out of Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds”, that an owl attacked his second wife before she collapsed.

Peterson has been the subject of a French documentary series "Staircase" ("Soupcons") by Jean Xavier de Lestrade.

Again, Dateline's episodes rival more conventional films in presenting true-life mystery.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"The Internet Ruined My Life" on SyFy: two specific tweets lead to stalking, and then to Homeland Security detention of a UK tourist, also, combative elements in animal rights, gaming

The Internet Ruined My Life” has started with half-hour episodes on the SyFy Channel, link.

The Pilot on March 9 presented two stories.

The first concerned Chicago resident Suey Park, who blogs and writes for the interests of the Asian American communities about various social justice issues.  She wrote a tweet with a hashtag #CancelColbert that attracted unbelievable trolling and anger, including doxing of her personal information and threats, forcing her into disguises and moving around. Elizabeth Bruening has a detailed story of the incident in the New Republic, here.

 The tweet referred to the “Ching-Choing Ding-Dong Foundation”.  It had been intended as hyperbole, not to be taken literally.

The episode shows the prevalence of the “us vs. them” mentality in some of the Internet, which Donald Trump is thought to be exploiting.

This is all rather shocking. I write and tweet about sensitive things but nothing like this has happened.  I don’t have the volume of followers that she did, however.

The second part dealt with Leigh Van Bryan and his girlfriend Emily Bunting, tourists from the UK.  They were detailed at LAX, jailed and eventually deported with visas revoked for a single tweet, about digging up Marilyn Monroe (the sidewalk in Hollywood) and “destroying America”, which is a British idiom based on “destroying pubs”, which in fact refers to pub crawls (the film “The World’s End”, Aug. 29, 2013, Movies blog). A Homeland Security official named Comiskey admitted this was language overreach, but because of the problems with profiling and Trojan horses, it is very difficult for the NSA and homeland Security to identify false positive hits.

The UK Mail has a story with images and many comments

 It is possible that the narrative about what happened in 2005 when I was substitute teaching, and one of my screenplays was "misinterpreted" could fit the series. There are some unsolved mysteries and coiniidences and a lot of out-of-context thinking. See main "BillBoiushka" blog, July 27, 2007 for details.

Episode 2 (March 16) "Food Fight" presented a chef who lost a job after four years at a classy LA restaurant serving foie gras, when he got into a Facebook fight with an animal rights activist in Minnesota.  He got after her for writing a bad review of a restaurant for political motivations when she had seemingly never been to the restaurant.  She became combative, and then so did he.  She apparently misappropriated the man's daughter's picture on Facebook in a threatening way.  (Why wasn't this a TOS violation resulting in suspension?)  But she was able to turn the thread around to ruin his online reputation, making him look like a misogynist. A typical news story is here on an LA local news site here.  It took four months or more for him to become employed again.

Then there was the story of Brianna Wu and "#gamergate", who got threats after she challenged male domination in some parts of the gaming business, Guardian story here.  A check of the hashtag even tonight March 16 on Twitter shows some nasty stuff happening (the reader can look on her own).
It makes you wonder, what makes some people so personally combative over narrow issues?  I ran into this myself in earlier days, before the Internet, especially on both the radical Left and radical Right, and sometimes with religion.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Race for the White House": Lincoln v. Douglas, making the Civil War inevitable

Tonight, CNN’s “Race for the White House” presented the 1858 Senate contest and then 1860 contest between Lincoln and Douglas for the Republican nomination, best link here.  An issue before 1860 was keeping slavery out of newly acquired territories.  The episode covered the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858
The episode covers a speech that Lincoln gave in 1860, that surprised voters, despite Lincoln’s scruffy appearance.  “Right makes might.”  How was the balcony lit in the back, in the days before electricity.


Lincoln won the election with 40% of the vote, and went on a train tour to try to reassure the public. But security forces disguised him, almost in drag, as he returned to Washington, especially through Baltimore, where there was a lot of confederate support. 

The episode was preceded by a town hall in Columbus, Ohio with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.  Sanders sounded strong, and argued that universal health care would help small businesses

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Dateline "Burning Suspicion" about a bizarre murder-arson of a spouse in Kansas

NBC Dateline tonight aired a revised edition of its 2013 episode “Burning Suspicion” about the murder of Vashti Seacat by her husband, Brett Seacat, a police officer in Kingman, Kansas, in the north central part of the state.

This was pretty much a burning bed scenario.  His wife died of a gunshot wound in a bed when the upstairs of the house had been set on fire.  Brett tried to claim it was suicide.

Brett had also taught at the law enforcement school run by the University of Kansas, which makes the episode off for me as I attended graduate school there in the mid 1960s (in Lawrence).

He had claimed his wife was depressed, dissatisfied with the marriage and the house.  She had sought divorce.  After her death, a sister had to move up from Oklahoma to care for the kids.

An odd part of the evidence concerned the fact that Brett had been in the room, supposedly trying to extinguish the fire, but had very little singing of his rather uneven body hair, as shown in pictures.  I don’t recall another case where an issue like this was mentioned.

Seacat seemed to have a narcissistic personality and made a very odd, offensive statement at sentencing. Inquisitr has a story about the Dateline broadcast.

 Seacat was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 30 years. The Kansas Supreme Court had ruled the state’s death penalty unconstitutional in 2004.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

"The Family" on ABC: a supposedly murdered politician's son returns, creating more mystery

The Family”, created by Jenna Bans, premiered March 3 on ABC with a Pilot (Paul McGuigan) and continued with a second episode, “All You See Is Dark” (directed by John Gray) on March 6.

The premise is startling.  The son (Adam Warren, played by a boyish Liam James) of a female politician (Claire Warren, played by an energetic Joan Allen) is thought to be murdered by a sex offender, the culprit having confessed under duress.  The son, now 18, escapes and returns, injured and potentially disfigured.  The series is set in Red Bank, Maine (Stephen King country), within sight of the Longfellow Mountains.

The supposed offender is a neighbor, Hank (Andrew McCarthy), who was coerced into confession and a plea deal by police sergeant Meyer (Margot Bingham), because he had been caught earlier with child pornography on his home computer.  He is threatened with the death penalty (which Maine does not have).  The state compensates him for wrongful conviction when he is released.  In the Pilot, there is a confrontation between Hank and husband John Warren (Rupert Graves) in a supermarket, where Hank turns down the apology and takes an essentialist track, it is what it is.
The day of the disappearance is revisited in many flashbacks, usually clearly marked.  Claire insists that the older siblings in the family learn to protect the younger, and preaches "family values" in her political speeches.

The series opens ten years back, when Claire is at a county fair, soliciting attention from people as she stomps to run for City Council.  You have to be aggressive with people to get anywhere.  The years later she will run for governor.

Although Adam’s identity is supposedly verified by DNA, the series starts to introduce doubts as to whether he really is the right kid, and suggesting something else is going on.

Adam’s older brother Daniel (Zach Gilford) seems charismatic at first, but appears possibly to be involved.  Why did he quit football?  Was it the concussion crisis?

The official site is here.

Picture, south of the White Mountains in NH (2011, mines).

Sunday, March 06, 2016

CNN: "Race for the White House": Kennedy edges Nixon in 1960, first televised debates

Tonight CNN premiered its new series “Race for the White House”, executive-produced by Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti, at 10 PM EST Sunday night after the two-hour Democratic debate in Flint MI.

The first episode is not necessarily the first chronologically. It covered the Kennedy-Nixon race in 1960.  The most important factor presented is that Kennedy performed much better than Nixon on television. Nixon was said to look “embalmed”.  He also was having a lot of trouble from a knee injury and infection.

Kennedy also rose to a challenge with Martin Luther King was arrested, somewhat reversing a trend set by southern Democrats still supporting segregation.  In 1960, the GOP was probably ahead in Civil Rights.

I was a senior in high school at the time, and even remember the Democratic convention in 1960 while in Kipton, Ohio.

Nixon did not challenge the election, despite the evidence of voter fraud in Illinois and Texas. Yet the experience may have provided the first level of temptation eventually leading to Watergate.

Some of the scenes in the documentary are acted, such as Nixon’s one shirtless (hairless chest) appearance at the swimming pool at the Ambassador Hotel in LA.

How would Nixon have handled the Cuban Missile Crisis?  Or would he have gotten into the Bay of Pigs?  How about the Berlin Wall.

The earlier debate was heated, as Sanders told Clinton, about her ties to Wall Street, "Some of your friends destroyed this economy --- excuse me, I'm talking."  But some observers accused Sanders of "interrupting" (like me in grade school) and of half-intentionally insulting the mentally ill. 

Friday, March 04, 2016

"The 100": Richard Harmon, as John Murphy, is the centerpiece now; audiences love a supposedly "sociopathic" delinquent with another side

Last night, I caught an episode of CWTV’s “The 100”, created by Jason Rothenberg, inspired by the first book of a trilogy by Kass Morgan.  I had reviewed it once in 2014, and won’t try to summarize the entire plot, when Wikipedia does a good job here.

The space ark must have inspired the movie “Battle for Skyark” that I reviewed on the movies blog Feb. 26.

And apparently the ark is in trouble, as delinquent kids are sent back down to try to repopulate it (in the movie, it’s rebels’ kids).

The episode (Season 3, #7) last night, “Thirteen”, directed by Dean White, there was a flashback showing how the nuclear war on Earth had been started and watched from space.  It looks like what could happen in Donald Trump gets elected and gets too mad at Putin.  As in the movie, the ark looks like it could be an interesting domain with its own inner geography.

Last night, the character John Murphy, a regular in Season 3, dominated the episode in the beginning.

This character is played by Richard Harmon, and is held prisoner, apparently by the Grounders, a bit bloodied and banged up, but muscular if petite.  It’s still true that “Richard Harmon is the greatest of all time” (as “Judas Kiss” star Timo Descamps echoes a second time, “.. of all time”), in both Dutch and English.  Is this “greatest actor” or greatest soul?   Certainly, the 24-yhear-old actor and producer has accumulated a record-shattering imdb resume (like that of Gregory Smith).  I could say his industrious is paying for my Social Security benefits now – yes, Harmon is supporting me – or do his taxes go to “Blame Canada?” His twitter feed shows tremendous enthusiasm for working on the episodes, requiring a lot of physical endurance, filming in Canada (even if the story is supposed to take place in the Virginia Blue Ridge near Mt. Weather) – as well as for US sports teams like the Fighting Irish (Notre Dame football) and the San Francisco Giants (baseball).  Harmon’s voice and body language mand inner personality  still reminds one of Julian (Continuum) and even Danny Reyes (“Judas Kiss”) who ultimately benefits from getting to know badboy Shane Lyons (Timo).  So why would this character have become delinquent in the world before the War? The Wiki give little hint  while explaining the death penalty by Flotation from the ark.   Zipzat gives a complete history of Murphy’s sociopathy .

 which curiously seems lovable if not completely redeemable;  the world of the 100 is so dark that Murphy fits in.  In “Judas”, the darkness was confined entirely to the embedded story his Danny had filmed, where as Danny is all virtue (no wonder everyone wants to be redeemed by him, most of all Shane); here the darkness becomes the character.  Does Harmon fit one of the characters of my screenplay “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany”?  It’s rather set mostly on a rama-like ark.  Only time will tell.

The episode last night also dealt a lot with Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey).  There was one lesbian scene near the end.

The look of the encampments, with the candlelight, reminds me a bit of “Revolution”.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

"The Real O'Neals" premiers on ABC, sandwiches around "Modern Family", with a Catholic family and a gay son

The first two half-hour episodes of “The Real O’Neals” , created by Casey Johnson and David Windsor, premiered on ABC Wednesday March 2, 2016, sandwiched around “Modern Family”.

An Irish Catholic family in Louisiana is startled when the youngest son, Kenny, around 16 or so (Noah Galvin) tells everyone that he’s gay.  Slowly the bonds of the family will strengthen.

The other characters include a police officer father Pat (Jay R. Ferguson), the Catholic matriarch Eileen (Martha Plimpton), who is not afraid to ground kids until confess they believe in god, and older brother Jimmy (Matt Shivey), athletic but anorexic, and the youngest girl Shannon (Bebe Wood) who will question her faith at 14.

The first episode is simply “Pilot” and the second is “The Real Papaya”.  A girl friend wants Kenny to sleep with her (for her first time) because he is “safe”.  Kenny is portrayed to be as appealing an male in a subtle sense as possible.

It does seem more common for second sons to be gay in families, maybe because of epi-genetic influences.

The ABC site is here but the cable-verify-to-watch does not work yet (mid-afternoon March 3).

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

PBS: "A Year in Space": Scott Kelly outgrows his twin brother while weightless

Tonight, PBS presented “A Year in Space”, a one-hour NOVA documentary about Scott Kelly’s experience on a space station with a Soviet Cosmonaut. His identical twin brother Mark is Gabbie Biffords’s husband and is a retired astronaut.  The link is here.   The film was produced as an episode of a Time series (“Leaving Home”).

When he returned, Scott had "grown" almost two inches because under zero gravity his spine decompressed.  But people vary more in absolute height than most of us realize. He had also aged slightly less because of relativity and time dilation.

Scott visited Novosibirsk, Russia, for familiarization with the Russian program which had evolved from the Soviet Union days.

He had trained in the module in Houston.  But the days and hours leading to the launch are like a stepwise progression from this life into an afterlife, although this time he comes back after a year.

After three months, a collision with Russian space debris caused damage and led to some food rationing, a little bit like Matt Damon as the Martian.

The hardest months were probably the seventh through the ninth/

I would have had Matt Damon host this film had I made it.

Scott Kelly says that the Space Program is something larger than the self.

Update: April 23, 2016

Time offers a special edition heavily illustrated paperback by Jeffrey Kluger of "A Year in Space" with more discussion of the twins study, a woman in space, and spectacular shots of Earth cities from space (like San Francisco).

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

NBC airs its own special on Super Tuesday; Sanders and Cruz may be doing better than expected; Trump will drag out a "Leg-o-lantern" from "The Apprentice"

CNN covered Super Tuesday in its usual fashion, but NBC News offered a "New Super Tuesday Special" (link ).

Ted Cruz won Texas handily, and took Oklahoma, and has won three states, compared to Trump’s eight so far.  No one else has won any.  “Little Rubio” doesn’t accept how far behind he is. 

Yet many are saying that “Little Rubio” would be the best shot at beating Hillary Clinton, but GOP voters are passionate in their extremes. NBC showed footage at an Arlington VA bar, because northern Virginia has a lot of “establishment” neo-con to more moderate Republicans.

Cruz would appear to be approaching a position where he has the leverage to talk everyone else into getting out, and trying to get the Convention to go with him.

But there is some disagreement on just how ideological Cruz really would be in office. 

And tonight Trump seemed to moderate on the social issues, saying that Planned Parenthood does provide valuable services outside abortion.

Bernie Sanders has three wins tonight (the Colorado caucuses, Vermont, and Oklahoma).  He could win Massachusetts.  He may be a more serious challenge to Hillary than we still think.

As Trump moves on, some of us will remember his little book “How to Get Rich”.  He mentions one of his apprentices, Troy McClain, who later went to work for him in Atlantic City.  Trump paid for his college education.  But it came at a cost during the reality show during Season 1 of “The Apprentice” in 2004, way back in George W.’s days.  Maybe someone will unearth footage of Troy having his legs waxed on camera, “for the team”, as part of a “negotiation”.  Whose campaign would that help?  Or hurt? Remember Steve Carell? (and I don’t mean “The Big Short”) the Man-o-lantern.