Sunday, January 31, 2010
On Sunday Jan. 31, HBO Original Programming broadcast Rose O’Donnell’s event, “A Family Is a Family Is a Family”, effectively a one hour documentary.
Much of the documentary (38 minutes) consists of kids talking about their various families with a degree of enthusiasm. Of course, there was enumeration of different kinds of families that develop besides the traditional one (there is one sequence where children explain the biology of procreation in marriage, however, as long as a description of surrogacy). One girl from China says she was adopted because of the one child policy. In China, a boy is expected to take care of his parents when they get older, but a girl is not.
Rosie O’Donnell appears half-way through the film, and says “A family gives us people to take care of us and people to take care of. Family means love all the way. Your family will always be there for you.” Rosie says she and her partner head a family even though they are not in the same home now.
In the gay male world that I came of age in during the 1970s and 1980s, there was a lot of emphasis on selectivity of significant others. A person had to prove that he was “worthy” or your attention. That seems the opposite of the family, where the committed love among members is supposed to be a done deal. But because the political climate a few decades ago drove gays away from “the family”, gay men especially developed the idea of extreme selectivity.
In the viewpoint of the film, Family has the right to demand loyalty, to perceive oneself as a member of a social unit (created by parents) as well as an individual, and the willingness to put the needs of other family members above one’s own chosen ends. In conservative thinking, parents have the right and duty to implement this emotional obligation on their children. Psychologists call it “socialization”. Rosie would extend socialization to families formed out of choice, not just blood relations. Unsocialized people tend to perceive the demands of other family members as requiring “sacrifice” until they have their own families. Individuals who resist this emotional socialization are sometimes characterized by clinical psychologists as having “schizoid personalities”, but I think that the whole area has a moral undertone: some people need emotional solidarity from other family members more than others; there is nothing wrong with living productively as a “loner.”
The teenage boy who sings the “family commercial” shown these days at AMC Theaters sings in the film, a song called “So Many Combinations”.
I thought I would hear the Sister Sledge “We Are Family” song, but it didn’t turn up.
The film offers a lot of animation, much of it in pastels, rather simple in technique.
Rosie O’Donnell had appeared on Oprah Winfrey on January 21, presenting the show and also telling her story in adopting children, which had been illegal for gays in Florida. But see the CNN story Nov. 25 2008 by Taylor Gendossy on Florida’s gay adoption ban being overturned, link here.
The main HBO link for the program is here.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday night, Jan. 29, ABC 20-20 presented a report on how North Carolina Senator John Edwards concealed his mistress and “love child” from voters during the 2008 Democratic primaries. The news story is by James S. Hill, Terri Whitcraft, Eric M. Strauss, and Nadine Shulbalit, with the title “Ex-Edwards Aide: $1 Million Spent to Cover Up Pregnant Mistress: Andrew Young Tells '20/20' About Private Jets, Mansions, 5-Star Hotels, a BMW Used in Elaborate Scheme; 'Money Was No Object'”, link here.
Young’s new book is called “The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal that Brought Him Down”, from Thomas Dunne publishers.
Young says “it wasn’t easy to keep Hunter the wraps” even with all the money. Edwards behaved like "A Politician" at the end, warning Young that Young didn't really have anything on him.
Edwards's behavior, and failure to keep a marital commitment, seems particularly appalling given the medical issues of his wife. But later Young told ABC GMA that Edwards did not expect his wife to live long, a prediction that would turn out not to be true.
Edwards was regarded as a moderate Democrat who did not favor gay marriage, now somewhat ironic and hypocritical.
Picture: Grandfather Mountain, NC, my picture, 1971.
Friday, January 29, 2010
The episode of “Supernatural” on Jan. 28, “Swap Meat”, did the “body switching” idea that has been tried before (in Season 3 of Smallville, Clark Kent and Lionel Luther (Lex’s father) sawp while Lionel is in prison). But this time, the idea involved academia.
A teenage nerd Gary, played by 19-year-old Colton James, swaps bodies with Sam (Jared Padalecki, now at the “summer solstice” age of 27, about the best age possible in athletics). Each character sees the other in the mirror. Gary, imbued with a superman-like body (Padalecki ['Sasquatch'] has been considered for parts in Superman movies, and could easily be imagined as cast in Smallville instead of Tom Welling) has to join Dean on a case, know his stuff (the “brothers’ “ history) and hold his liquor (even though he could not legally drink before). Sam has to become a high school student again, although a gifted senior in AP Chemistry and Physics.
The episode is interesting for Jared Padalecki because, according to imdb, he was a good student in high school in San Antonio and was a candidate for the 2000 Presidential Scholars Program. Perhaps the episode was written with his school past in mind. Zac Efron was also reportedly an AP student in high school.
The CWTV link is here.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
There is a legal settlement (link here) of a class action lawsuit by certain groups of television writers who claimed they were victims of age discrimination. The basic link for the settlement is here, and the PDF document gives a variety of options to speak or act separately for members of the class. I received an email notice of the settlement this morning, even though I do not write for television.
The plaintiffs are divided into two groups, a Professional Television Writers Settlement Class, and and Aspiring Television Writers Settlement Class. The former group had to work under the Writers Guild of America Minimum Basic Agreement.
The settling defendants are generally well known studio brand names in movies and television.
It’s not stated what kinds of programs were written for – such as soap operas, or dramatic or comedy primetime series (but not reality).
Television writing requires great precision, since blocks of episodes have to run exact times between commercials of exact length. The public tends to compare series television to movies, but the writing techniques are very different and perhaps more demanding.
This is all interesting to freelance writers and bloggers, who like the freedom of saying what they want in a less structured forum, for less dependable income. I wonder what it’s like to write for the soaps. Maybe not too satisfying. I suspect most soap opera writers are women, because they love to make most of the villains women (especially for “Days of our Lives”).
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
President Obama is delivering his first State of the Union Address tonight on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010, starting slightly after 9 PM, carried on all major networks. It’s interesting that the joint House and Senate session sounded noisy, like “the kids” as the president entered tonight.
You can follow the details on CNN at this link. Reload the page frequently to see more details.
CNN aired a pre-show starting at 8 PM Wednesday evening.
The president is expected to ask Congress to repeal the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military during the speech. (He did so at 10:13 PM tonight.)
The president opened by noting that the economic bailouts were necessary, or else unemployment might have risen above 20%. The early part of the speech zeroed on the economy, and he said “Jobs must be our #1 focus in 2010.”
The president proposed eliminating capital gains taxes on small businesses.
MSNBC live video feed:
Virginia governor Bob McDonnell provided the GOP response to the address from Richmond.
Picture: The Eisenhower farm residence at Gettysburg PA, visit Jan. 26.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs appeared on ABC Nightline tonight (Jan 26) with Terry Moran, and argued for his “Independents Day” – and hinted that he could run for the Senate or President as an independent.
The news story (with Moran and Melinda Arons) is Lou Dobbs Mulls Presidential Run, Switches Stance on Immigration
Former CNN Anchorman Says He's 'Enamored' by the Possibilities”, link here.
Dobbs used to have a “Money Line” on CNN in the early evening.
Nightline also covered the massive Toyota recall of many of its cars, and the suspension of sales of cars with the sudden acceleration problem.
Picture (from a personal trip): Exhibit in the museum in the new visitor's center at Gettysburg PA, regarding the War Between the States. I think Dobbs would find some of the exhibits here particularly related to some of his views, such as how people bought their way out of the draft.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Clean Skies Sunday discussed the resignations of Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan, and the meaning for climate change legislation. It also decried the EPA’s approval of a new mountaintop removal project in West Virginia.
The show presented a debate at West Virginia University in Charleston between a Massey Coal executive (Blankenship) and a Mr. Kennedy on mountaintop removal, on the effect on the environment and on jobs. Blankenship said that keeping mountaintop removal going was a "homeland security" priority.
A Ms. Ryan in the Clean Skies video below discusses the EPA approval, and a new project in West Virginia called the Spruce Mine. There was discussion of the fact that the EPA’s main concern is damage to waterways. At the end of the program, a comedian performed and said, “don’t worry, the mountains will grow back.”
There is an earlier story by Ken Ward on the Spruce Mine permit, here. I don’t think that this involves Spruce Knob in West Virginia, the highest point in the state. At least I hope not. The mine appears to be in Logan County. Here’s a later story.
Friday, January 22, 2010
“The Deep End”, as it followed five young lawyers through bizarre cases at a law firm in LA, seemed more glitz that substance. Matt Long ("Jack & Bobby")as Dylan Hewitt has to deal with a bizarre custody case involving surrogacy and grandma; Beth (Leah Pipes) remains silent as an Alzheimer’s client thinks she’s his daughter. Ben Lawson, as Liam, looks too much like Matt Long for the characters to remain separate. The culture of law firm work is shown, however, in the Pilot written by David Hemingson; it’s a lot of thinking and talking on your feet, in your client’s interest, not in the pursuit of “truth” .
At the end, Matt’s character gets dunked in The Deep End, literally.
ABC offers the video on demand, 45 minutes, with limited commercials, although it will add a plug in to your video player, at least in Vista, and seems a bit confusing to get going. The video will display in widescreen, at least 1.85:1. The link is here.
The series reminds me of “Just Legal” on TheWB a few years back (with Jay Baruchel as the 18 year old lawyer, good in the humanities), which did not succeed.
“The Deep End” was also the name of an unrelated thriller form Fox Searchlight, in August 2001, with Tilda Swinton.
Tom Amandes ("Everwood") makes a brief apperance near the end of the episode.
YouTube preview from SirienNetwork plays the beginning of the episode, where the young lawyers introduce themselves with video resumes. How are you supposed to behave on Facebook when you have this kind of a job.
Wikipedia attribution link for p.d. picture of downtown LA, near where the show is supposed to take place. Actually, a lot of it was filmed in Los Colinas, near Dallas, Texas.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Nightline interviews Obama on health care, economy, and politics after the MA Senate election tonight
Tune in to ABC Nightline Wednesday Jan. 20 (one year to the date of the Inauguration) and watch George Stephanopoulos interview President Obama. Apparently the interview was taped a couple hours ago this evening.
The news link is here and it has an embedded video of the interview. The long title of the news story is “President Obama: We Lost Touch with American People Last Year: Obama Says Focus on Policymaking Distracted White House From Speaking Directly to American People”.
Obama said that the same tide that swept Scott Brown into the Senate Tuesday had swept him into office in the 2008 election.
The president said “one of the things I have learned in Washington is that you have to repeat yourself a lot.”
Obama said that the Senate should not try to “jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated.” He said that the House and Senate health care reform bills overlap about 90%. There is no choice but to make health care less costly for the nation and make the premiums affordable for everyone.
The president was asked about the impressions that some people in Haiti wanted the US to take over -- "please occupy us!" -- in direct contract to the politics of Iraq and the Middle East.
The president says that we were so busy dealing with crises and policy that we did not pay enough attention to core values. He had expected "the people to get it".
I met Stephanopoulos in 1996 in a Starbuck’s on Dupont Circle in Washington in the early morning, and very briefly mentioned “don’t ask don’t tell”.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Well, Adam Lambert made a dashing performance on Oprah today (Tuesday, Jan 19) in Chicago, and actually talked about “professionalism.” He admitted, or advised himself, that he should have told ABC or his producers what he intended to do before he did it, but he doesn’t think there was anything inappropriate about the gestures on the ABC broadcast some time back.
Here is a story about his appearance today. He was reportedly "nervous and excited." After all, getting onto Oprah is supposed to be a big deal, as media consultants earn big $$$ advising clients how to do it.
The rest of his interview as pretty upbeat, even if he looks a bit like a mannequin on stage with the makeup and boyish face. Clint Eastwood probably thinks he looks like a movie prop.
Here’s a clip of Lambert’s VEVO hotel party. He survives it. It’s a good video for a “stand up and model” fern bar (like JR’s).
Lambert's new single is called "For Your Entertainment", reminding me of the 1974 movie "That's Entertainment." The website for purchase is here.
I wonder if Oprah could take it upon herself to save MGM. She could just buy the studio, and restore it to its previous glory.
The early part of the show presented the American Idol success story of Susan Boyle.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Oprah Winfrey today (MLK Day, Jan. 18) aired a program about distracted driving, and encourages everyone to sign her “no phone zone” for their cars (link).
The program gave numerous testimonials of victims struck by distracted drivers. Driving while texting is equivalent to driving after four drinks.
Texting while driving is the worst offense, but even talking on a cell phone with a hand’s free device is dangerous; the brain is not wired for multi-tasking while driving.
Here is the link for her show.
What next? What about drinking coffee while driving? Listening to the car radio?
But the Text can wait.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
On Saturday Jan. 16 Anderson Cooper is reporting live on CNN his “Saving Haiti” special. Anderson looks buff enough interviewing everyone, but Dr. Sanjay Gupta walks around the remnants of a hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince describing (and improvising as he talks into a moving videocam) “jungle medicine.” On an earlier segment, Gupta had been shown actually giving first aid to patients.
Because of “security concerns” some medical teams had been ordered to evacuate. Cooper was questioning why the United Nations could not supply security for medical teams.
Cooper also interviews Gen. Russell Honore, “Is aid arriving fast enough?”
Gupta has mentioned a high caloric biscuit that can provide nutrition for a day, but hecklers scared people away from a drop-off of biscuits in the street.
The Red Cross estimates that up to three million people may be directly affected now by the earthquake.
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of collapsed National Palace in downtown Port-au-Price.
Larry King Live will have a two hour report on how to help on Monday Jan. 18 on Martin Luther King's birthday.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Oprah brings Nate Berkus again to give dating advice, help a family with grief, and recount his own loss in the 2004 tsunami
The Oprah Winfrey Show today (Jan. 14) brought back designer Nate Berkus, with a riveting account in the middle of the show of how he lost his male partner (Fernando Bengoechea) in the 2004 tsunami, and of his putting his life back together afterward. The show included a clip of a 2005 interview on the tragedy. It seems to be a coincidence that this episode aired two days after the earthquake in Haiti.
That was followed with Nate’s helping a family in which a 12 year old, wanting to start a cookie business, had to deal with the loss of his brother to cancer.
But earlier in the show, Nate paired with the “Millionaire Marchmaker” to give older heterosexuals (often divorced) dating advice. One woman had a list of properties of the perfect mate, whose items included “not having a Facebook page”. Oprah said that her list could be satisfied only by Jesus Christ.
The question would come to me, could I, who did not create his own family or lineage, reach out and make a personal space from myself for others this way, as Nate does? I would have to be in the “right place”, and have the freedom and means to pursue some of my own “destinal” goals. I could not do this just on someone else’s terms (no matter what Rick Warren says), and in the past few years, a few people have tried to test me.
The link for the show, with videos, is here.
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Magnificent Mile in Chicago. An era of my life ended Aug. 31, 1997 in Chicago. I’ll explain some other time.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
On Wednesday night, Jan. 12, ABC Nightline covered a story of a Michigan married couple, having difficulty conceiving without miscarriages, turned to gestational surrogacy (no genetic link to the surrogate mother). But then the birth mother demanded the twins born to her back when she learned that the wife of the original couple had a problem with drug use and mental health. The Michigan court allowed the surrogate mother to keep the babies.
Some of ABC’s Nightline stories don’t have news stories and the only way to get the URL is to have the email sent to yourself by the SHARE facility. The link this facility gave me is here, and the segment is called "Taking them Back".
Louisiana, Washington, New York, and Washington DC, besides Michigan, don’t recognize surrogacy in any way.
The Michigan couple had moved to a house in a good school district and bought a complete nursery, and now has no baby.
This problem could also affect gay male couples having children by surrogacy.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Today, Monday January 11, The Martha Stewart Show on ABC presented “The Cat Show”, link here.
One of the cat experts pointed out that the domestic cat is the only animal that naturally chooses to be both wild when it wants to and domesticated when it chooses to. The cat perceives the owner’s home as his or her territory, but understands that humans live in it to serve their needs. The cat may be the only animal that will invite itself in to a strange home.
Even large cats, despite the concerns about safety and man, learn to accept man, even with free choice. A recent Animal Planet program showed a zoologist getting himself accepted as a member of a lions pride by mastering the body language of the animals and getting on the good side of the alpha male. Cats, even big cats, seem to realize that we are a lot like them.
The show covered cat medical veterinary care, and talked about social play in adult cats, not as permissible in the wild as with domestic animals.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Tonight NBC Dateline, with Chris Hansen (with Aram Roston and Richard Greenberg), aired the one hour analysis of our “intelligence failure” with “The Passenger in Seat 19A”. The show traced the movements of privileged Nigerian young man Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, documenting the Yemen connection in detail, and particularly emphasizing the apparent influence of jihadist websites on him while he lived in his parents’ expensive condo in London while he went to college nearby.
The detailed accounts of other passengers, including a couple returning from adopting Ethiopian children, were interesting. Jasper Schuringa, accolade for his role in tackling the suspect, had been sitting completely on the other side of the fuselage (he did not appear in the Dateline documentary tonight).
The major Dateline link is here.
Look also at this video with female Muslim author Irshad Manji (The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, St. Martins, 2003), about the role of Yemen.
Sarah Kershaw has a relevant article on the “This Week in Review” page of the Sunday Jan 10 New York Times, “The Terrorist Mind: An Update: Research is expanding rapidly; and so is the thinking on the path that leads to killing and martyrdom. It’s not just about religion,” link here.
Wikipedia link for Yemen map
Update: Jan. 11
I was told anecdotally that Abdulmutallab did not have a valid passport when boarding in Nigeria but was waived through their security anyway. I don't know if this has been verified. News media should check out exactly how he was screened in Africa.
Friday, January 08, 2010
NBC Dateline on Friday January 7 broadcast the two-hour documentary, “Bringing Sean Home: The Untold Story”, about the five year international fight by male fashion model David Goldman to regain custody of his biological son.
Meredith Vieira is the host, and the transcript is here.
The story began when he met Bruna Bianchi from Brazil. They wed in 1999 and had their son Sean. David drove Bruna to the airport in June 2004 for a vacation and got a phone call saying that she would never come back and never let him have the son. She would eventually die in 2008, leaving Sean with neither original biological parent, but the Brazilian husband Joao Paulo Lins e Silva maintained a protracted an agonizing legal case, which Dateline covers as a legal suspense story.
Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey assisted, as they case took on international repercussions as a case of international abduction, involving treaties. At one point, a New Jersey Senator threatened to cut off aid to Brazil.
David Goldman flew his son home on Christmas Eve 2009 on a private jet chartered by NBC. (NBC’s paying for the private jet has been criticized.) The end of the broadcast showed David and his son in his New Jersey home, even united with the pet cat Tuey. In the last scene, David hears Sean call him “Dad”.
Here is Sean Goldman’s “Help Find My Child” site.
Wikipedia attribution link for map of Brazil.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
On Wednesday Jan 6, Alan Alda hosted the first hour program on PBS in the series “The Human Spark”. The best writeup from PBS and video is probably here.
Alda examines cave paintings in Southwestern France, as having been created by true humans, not Neanderthals. But true human abilities seem to have developed in East Africa more than 50 thousand years ago.
Human beings are the only mammal most of whose brain mass growth occurs after birth. Humanshave about 18-25 years to learn from the parents, families and ancestors, a tremendous advantage over other animals. Humans also understand the idea of taking an idea from someone else and making more of it.
Neanderthals however did not specialize as much in applying technology. They had generalized tools that maintained a stable culture but could not adapt to sudden change. They did not learn to cooperate socially outside their own immediate family units, all of which could lead to a curious debate about “family values.” In human society, however, when someone made an innovation, in time, “everyone knew about it.” The psychology of the Internet existed with the earliest humans.
Humans may have evolved their skills when learning to fish or grow agriculture as well as hunt large animals.
Part Two: "So Human, So Chimp"
Part Three: "Brain Matters": Human beings have special brain regions that allow them to cogitate on what others think or no, and therefore humans can build a culture of teaching. No other animal can do this. Even Neanderthals were limited in the ability to do this. Modern humnas developed the ability to do this about 70000 years ago.
Wikipedia attribution link for map showing migration of early humans
Monday, January 04, 2010
Larry King Live on CNN Monday night (January 4) hosted an important discussion of the Obama administration’s handling of national security in the wake of the Christmas Day Detroit Incident and Fort Hood Incident.
Frances Townsend made the reassuring point that civil liberties should never be suspended, and that we are a nation of laws.
Peter Beinart, Editor at Large of The New Republic (url)) said that the Christmas Day attack failed (partly because of one very alert passenger) but was still a “9/11 minus” attempt, not a “9/11 plus” which hasn’t happened in eight years.
However the panel agreed that the volume of Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen is quite alarming, as is their influence on Yemen’s shadow government, making it a failed state.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
On Saturday nights at midnight, CNBC has been running The Suze Orman Show. Most of the show consisted of “Can I Afford It?” with callers either getting a Suze Smackdown or a Suzy Standup.
Suze scolded a man who owed $55000 in federal taxes, and his girl friend still wondered if it was all right to marry him.
She gave a Stand Up to a woman who wanted to buy a fancy car, but advised her to take the money out of her ROTH IRA.
A middle aged couple allowed their 23 year old “boomerang” son to move back in after flunking out of law school, to take an hourly interim job. In the mean time, they want to charge the son $300 a month rent but save $200 to give back to him when he leaves on his own again.
I went over to Suze because SNL was a repeat -- although Joseph Gordon Levitt had a great act. Will Suze Orman ever host SNL?
Friday, January 01, 2010
For a second straight day (New Years Day), I cover the Dr. Phil show, as again it is important. Today, it’s about “Ruined Reputations: Smeared for Life”, link here.
The first segment concerned Kevin, who was falsely accused of rape, fired and kicked out of school as a result of accusations that turned out to be wrong. But people still believe the accusations. His twelve year old sister gets bullied at school because of accusations against her brother, relating to “old fashioned” ideas that people should share the responsibility for acts of parallel family members.
I generally don't repeat the full names of persons accused of crimes but not convicted (unless it is "very" clear they are "guilty") in blogs, so that search engines will not keep their names active (in reputation damaging situations) just because of my posts, even when the names have been printed in newspapers or posted in conventional media sites.
Chelsea, now 18, sent “inappropriate” photos of herself through cell phone to an ex-boyfriend, who posted them on Myspace. Now she is afraid that potential employers and schools will find it. She had not thought of this possibility before sending the photos (much like the issue with teens and “sexting”). Michael Fertik, CEO of “Reputation Defender” appeared on the show and mentioned that now 70% of employers check applicants online, and sometimes even find the wrong person (it’s hard to identify someone online with a common name correctly than one thinks).
Dr. Phil has an interesting blog about teens and Internet safety here. He mentioned the site “I Keep Safe” (link). He mentioned that any online communication, even under privacy settings and off the search engine radar screens, can be copied by others and posted online “forever.” This seems to invoke the old problem of “making enemies.”
Dr. Phil gave the website for Michael Fertik's "Reputation Defender" (link); there also exists a site called "Reputatlion Hawk" (link) that appears to have a similar service; it characterizes fixing a reputation problem (for individuals or for businesses) as like a game of chess. Opening theory, anyone?
See similar show report on this blog Jan. 15, 2008 ("Internet Mistakes").