Thursday, June 28, 2012

ABC's "Final Witness": a bit grim, not as analytic as "Dateline' would be


ABC resumed and started a new season of “Final Witness” Wednesday night. This is a series that looks at the clues provided by the most immediate witnesses (often victims) to horrific crime scenes.  It’s a bit more theatrical, it seems, than the analytical approach of NBC Dateline on crime series.

The 2012 pilot episode Wednesday night was “The Caffey Family: The Kids Aren’t Alright”.  It takes place in Texas.  A father, badly wounded, crawls to a neighbor’s house after escaping a fire that has taken his family.

Although a boyfriend of his daughter is a suspect for a while, it becomes painfully clear that Terry Caffey’s own daughter, Erin, was behind the hit, a horrible crime from a teen.  It appears that the motivation was her resentment of his regulating her dating.  It is indeed shocking to see something like this happen within a family, caused by one of the kids. 
   
At least from this pilot, it appears as if the series will focus on dysfunctional families or bizarre business connections, rather than on issues that are bigger.  It seems curious that a series like this restarts in the summer.

The Associated Press offers a video on the series:


Here’s ABC’s link for the pilot.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

PBS Frontline covers dental chains, shaky care and financing for uninsured: what about implant clinics like Clear Choice?


Tuesday, June 26, PBS Frontline aired “Dollars and Dentists”, a rather scathing examination of how well private health care handles people without dental insurance.

The first part of the show dealt with pediatric dentistry, especially when performed by journeyman assistants.
     
But the main part of the broadcast covered the way dental chain companies (such as Aspen), which sound like franchises, handles lower income patients without dental insurance.  Some people with major toothaches go to hospital emergency rooms for antibiotics (infections or abscesses sometimes could be critical) which hold them a couple weeks.  Then they’re back. The show dramatized the case of a truck driver who went in to a Pennsylvania clinic with two aching teeth and was told all his teeth should be pulled and replaced with dentures.  Then he was presented with a $6500 treatment plan, which could be financed with a new credit card issued by the clinic.  The bank pays the clinic up front, charges high interests, and can then go after the borrower with collection agencies when necessary.

The broadcast did not (much) cover total mouth replacement by implants, as offered by Clear Choice and some other companies.  I could face that.  Fixed dentures could be an alternative to implants, about the same cost (possibly over $50000 for an entire mouth).

The link for the episode is here

Related links concern the "broken dental safety net" and the "dental desert". 

Note: Aspen should not be confused with Alpine Access, a home agent customer service company.
     
For the morbidly curious, here is a 30-minute YouTube video by Clear Choice (or "ClearChoice" as one word, as trademarked).  It may have aired in some markets as paid programming on late nights or weekends.


Yup, I'm impressed by the female skydiver who says "I'm a Clear Choice patient" and shows her feline fangs.

Can "they" really pull all your teeth and do the implants in one day while you're in "fantasy land"?

I remember a particular sentence on a dictation test in high school French: "Je n'aime pas le dentist."

Monday, June 25, 2012

HBO's "The Newsroom": Sorkin keeps us peeled


I didn’t see the pilot of Aaron Sorkin’s new series on HBO, “The Newsroom”, until Monday afternoon, since I was “occupied” (pun) by the social activism of AFI Silverdocs.  In fact, I didn’t notice that HBO re-aired it a second time last night. 

The pilot (directed by Greg Motolla) is titled “We Just Decided To”, and runs 75 minutes, almost as if it were a standalone indie film.  Unlike most of Sorkin’s work (whether “West Wing” or movies like “The Social Network”) the “plot” of this fast-paced, telescoping drama (despite all the quick speeches and allusions to Don Quixote) is hard to pick up without a sneak preview.   The style (and mystic background music) is familiar, but doesn’t seem as pensive here.  The major media review outlets had plenty of advance notice on this one.  The critics like this show and the ratings for the Pilot were great, apparently.

Jeff Daniels, grizzled and well into middle age, plays Will McAvoy (no connection to the handsome Scottish actor James), a news anchor for the fictitious Atlantic Cable Network, someone who has settled into network neutrality.

The opening scene has news anchor at what looks like a candidate debate as if he were running for president. Instead, it’s just a mock university event for journalism school.  (Steven, the student asking a question, tells the script that.)  He is trapped, by conservative and liberal corners to step out of his own box and take his own position on whether America is the greatest country in the world. He wakes up out of his funk and becomes passionate about how far our culture has fallen.  I think Sorkin believes what he says.
He’s forced to take leave, and when he comes back he finds most of his staff was hired away for a pabem show to follow him.  But he’s also been given a new producer, MacKenzie McHale, Emily Mortimer, who keeps her English accent.  She has a background in reporting Iraq and Afghanistan.
  
Suddenly, and we’re about twenty minutes into the episode (no commercials) , the newsroom learns about the BP explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.  So we now know it’s April 2010.  This series will build its message around a real historical event (however recent), relevant to climate change and environmentalism.  Will springs into action, and conceives of unfolding the news in radical “this is now” fashion.
  
The staff seems to come back together a bit, even if some of the intra-corporate politics continues. It’s attractive. Dev Patel plays Will’s lead researcher Neal, and has a blog that Will either doesn’t know about or has forgotten. (I think that means corporate blog, not personal; if the latter, that could take future episodes into an interesting area of corporate blogging and social media policies).  Senior producer Jim Harper, a hunky (that means like baseball’s Bryce Harper, maybe) John Gallagher, Jr., looks too young for his accomplishments, but quickly starts needling the principals by phone in the Gulf, and another producer, Don (Thomas Sadoski).
  
The episode reaches its climax as Will does the first story on the BP spill, and the whole network takes the public scoop.
  
It’s interesting to see how politicized the “establishment” or “fourth estate” still is. I actually worked for NBC as a computer programmer in financial systems 1974-1977 and remember the environment somewhat.  The HBO series also calls to mind a board game from the 1950s, “Star Reporter”.
A good comparison for this new series  is “Page One: Inside the New York Times”, on the movies blog, July 2, 2011. But even some comments about the press and the recent hacking scandals in “We Are Legion” (Movies blog, today) seem relevant.  


 The official site is here

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Anderson presents the side of a woman wrongfully convicted and not believed


During this era when there is so much media attention of scandals perpetrated by authority figures, Friday Anderson Cooper (on his own daytime show) presented a case of an Ohio woman freed (Nancy Smith) from prison after fifteen years, apparently wrongfully convicted of abuse on a school bus.  She was freed after the persistent efforts of her daughter (Amber).

She still, according to the show, is at risk for going back to jail.  She was offered a deal to admit guilt to get parole.


Anderson asked, “what is it like to be convicted of something and not have people believe you”.

Friday, June 22, 2012

NBC "Rock Center": Interview by Matt Lauer uncovers perplexing details of CT Christmas day tragedy


Thursday night, Matt Lauer interviewed Madonna Badger on Brian Williams’s NBC show “Rock Center”, about the Christmas morning fire in her home in Stamford CT in 2011, which killed her parents and children.



Earlier, media reports said that a guest put a bag with fireplace cinders in the home’s mud room.  Badger says that she saw the person check the cinders with his hand carefully.  She also says the home’s smoke detectors did not work.  And she says that the remains of the home were mysteriously demolished right after the fire, after she had escaped the site.

The details that Badger relates in the often emotional  interview (somewhat in "Dateline" style) are quite perplexing, and much of the material apparently had not been covered in the news before.  Litigation against the city of Stamford may be pending. 

Fireplace use can be dangerous.  In the 1980s, there was talk that cinders from chimneys could ignite some roofs.  When I was growing up in the 1950s, we used living room and basement fireplaces all the time on the evenings, and "went to Church" the next morning without a thought.  But our folks did not do things with the painstaking care that modern life requires.  It only takes one mistake. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Dallas", reborn on TNT, does raise environmental issues, despite the family hokum


Since I lived in Dallas from 1979-1988, and know the city and the area from the ground, I always saw the TV series “Dallas” as a bit of hokum, even if some gay bars in Dallas on the Cedar Springs strip (JR’s and Suellen’s) are named after characters.

The series resumes in 2012 on TNT.  To watch it retrospectively on your computer, you have to log on to your provider’s (mine is Comcast Xfinity) account.  That’s an annoyance, as it seems as the password has to be changed.  The regular network web episodes don’t require that.  The clocked time of the show is 55 minutes, plus a lot of long commercials. 

The Pilot episode is called “Changing the Guard” and aired first June 13.

Much of the story revolves around the proposed sale of Southfork and the ban on drilling on Southfork. 
  
From the viewpoint of geography, that would mean that the ranch would have to be about 150 miles southeast of Dallas, toward the Louisiana fields.  In the opening scene, a live well is struck on Southfork, and John Ross (Josh Henderson) wants to exploit it.  In the mean time,  bobby’s adopted son, Christopher  (Jesse Metcalfe) has been investing in offshore methane hydrate, and is trying to hide information about underwater earthquakes and enormous greenhouse gas emissions that could result.

Bobby (Patrick Duffy) has just been diagnosed with stomach cancer.  That sounds pretty grim.

The show, for all its melodramatic family hokum, really does raise some big-time environmental issues.
I recall, back in 1987, having a company picnic (at Chilton, now Experian) at a ranch north of Plano on 175, a property that looked like Southfork.  A 1982 film by Ernest Day, “Waltz Across Texas” (Atlantic Releasing), shot around Midland, comes to mind. 


The official site is here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Anderson Cooper covers banking security and debt collectors; on DOOL, Will gets a "gay" alibi


On Wednesday, June 20, Anderson Cooper, on his own daytime show on ABC, covered identity theft, with a list of ten suggestions.

One of the scariest possibilities is SMS messages with links, which, when followed, lead to the attacker’s taking over a smart phone with banking information, it the owner does mobile banking.

Another is the scam where the attacker calls a relative of the subject , using voice emulation, and begs for bail money for overseas.  It’s surprising that many people fall for this.

The show discussed skimming at ATM machines, and recommended physical security to look for devices and shield your cards from them at gas stations and even at bank’s ATMs.

Much of the show covered abuses by rogue debt collectors.

The main link for today’s show is here.

Here's a recent article on the safety status of online banking, link.

The question on my mind is, if a bank account is pilfered and transferred to a fictitious copy of a person, is the bank liable?  I couldn’t tell from a quick online search, and Anderson’s program didn’t answer that question.

On NBC’s “Days of our Lives” (June 20) Will got charges dropped after a boyfriend showed up and provided an alibi.  Roman, the grandfather and cop who had arrested Will, was at first shocked to learn that Will is gay, and Will stated it to him.  Lexie passed away in Abe’s arms and appeared as a ghost, whereas a ridiculous kidnapping scheme against Chad’s girlfriend unfolded; she was about to get out of a locked bunker using a hairpin. 



Monday, June 18, 2012

ABC's "Glass House" premiers: Should Alex (the bail bondsman) get to stay?


Well, the new ABC Reality series, “The Glass House” is a lot of fun.

Sixteen contestants come to live in a transparent structure, which appears to be a synecdoche built inside a media center at ABC in NYC (maybe on Columbus Circle).  The living quarters remind me of the inside of a Mormon Temple (I visited one at opening in Dallas in 1983).

I think they are in New York, because the pool party was indoors.  In LA (California) it would have been outdoors among palms, in a Sunset Blvd-like house. 

The audience, as in American Idol, gets to vote on the contestants, and make basic decisions.  For example, during Week 1, the audience decided on an “All Star Game” approach, dividing the contestants into teams based on East v. West.

The show assigns tasks to the teams. This week, the teams were timed on a matching exercise, pairing the names of the opponents’ “lineup” with resume facts about the people.  The East won.

The most colorful character was a bail bondsman, Alex, only 25, from Dallas.  Alex went around insulting some of the females, some of whom were married and one who is a Mormon.

Apollo, from Oregon, described himself as a poet.  There was a policeman from Ohio, a cook (in charge of the west), and one gay man who was obese (which is actually pretty unusual). 

The link for the series is here

I logged on -- through Facebook on I.E. it did not work, even though I was logged in to Facebook.  I got in through ABC directly.  I voted that Alex could stay.  He's cute!  Alex says that without his antics, there would be no entertaining show.  If you don't want a bail bondsman to earn his living, stay out of jail. 


Picture (mine): A glass roof in NYC -- actually, the Therapy Bar in Hell's Kitchen. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

ABC GMA treats us to virtual tour of Disney's "Cars Land": Justin Bieber on Today: what does it take to become famous?


Today I woke up to an ABC Good Morning America tour of Cars Land, part of Disneyland’s new California Adventure. (The GMA coverage had started Thursday.) I visited Disneyland in May and the attraction wasn’t quite open yet.  So it’s a good thing to see what I just missed on wide screen. It sort of completes my May California trip. I do want to catch up with the 30-minute short film on animation techniques.

You can take a tour here.  You might do better on this with a Mac.  It’s sort of a big “model world”.

The original theme park opened in the 1950s.  “Frontierland” has been replaced with “New Orleans Square”.  Starting in the 1980s, the Florida property tended to eclipse the California one (which I had toured in detail in December 1969 on the way to a job interview, just before getting out of the Army). Disney’s new California Adventure seems like an effort to bring the original California concept back.  You have to park in a huge garage ($15) and take a tram to the attractions (including “Downtown Disney).

I also recall, in the summer of 1955, that the Howdy Doody show opened a property called “Doodyville” which was broadcast one Sunday night (we were in Ohio as usual), but that concept never got anywhere.

Also, Friday morning, NBC Today treated us to an outdoor Justin Bieber “Event” at Rock Center.  Justin Bieber, with his larval appearance, is at 18 America/Canada’s wealthiest teen (at $122 million, not even close to Mark Zuckerberg's fortune).  Taylor Lautner (now 20), never got that rich.  (Lautner hosted NBC’s  SNL at age 17.)  And neither has the Nationals’ baseball player Bryce Harper, at 19 (who did the right thing in turning down the opportunity for “legal” underage drinking in Toronto after his mammoth home run advertising Blackberry). And, sorry, Donald Trump, you don't count, being over 60.  Would a musical artist make a good "apprentice"? Maybe as a business person. 

People camped out in NYC streets all night for Justin.  I guess I’ll have to plan a NYC Amtrak trip on a day when one of the morning shows has a street event. 

I think that classical composer-pianist Timo Andres (my “drama blog”) would make a great guest to perform on GMA or Today (or maybe Ellen or Nate) -- "Shy and Mighty" or maybe the Mozart Coronation Concerto "recomposition".  He’s the only artist who can sell out concerts with all contemporary classical music.  Would people camp out at Rock Center or in front of Anderson Cooper’s Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle for him?  Sorry, Timo, not quite famous enough yet.  The average Joe doesn't get polytonality  (I actually prefer outright atonality). 

In Justin’s case, it seems as though the larval look is worth a lot of money.  Not such a good thing.  I wish I had the energy to jump and dance for hours on end.  Music performers (rock or classical) really have to be good athletes.  I say, take them to a baseball park (like the “redesigned Citi Field”) and see if they can reach the seats with a few swings.  And do it on GMA.

Post script: On the noon NBC "Access Hollywood", at the end of the show, Billy Bush got one of his gams partially waxed.  Not that he mad much to lose. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Piers Morgan interviews Casey Anthony by phone, and lawyer in person


Piers Morgan interviewed Casey Anthony, living in hiding after being acquitted a year ago for the death of her daughter Caylee in Florida, by phone for ten minutes, and then interviewed her attorney in person Tuesday night.  The attorney said she reads a lot and watches a lot of films and likes “The Hunger Games”.
She still maintains her innocence.

The CNN link, with many videos and background stories, written by wire staff, is here.  The Huffington Post also added coverage here.

It is a poor commentary on our system that people have to live in hiding in a country that is supposed to respect the rule of law.

One can make similar observations about media coverage of the Trayvon Martin case, which I have not commented on much because the facts about what really happened are still unclear and reports are contradictory.  The special prosecutor would seem to have a lot of evidence we haven’t heard.  And one wonders why a neighborhood watchman doesn’t, after calling police, just leave the scene and let police handle it when they arrive, unless there really is a dire emergency.  Normally, when one sees something suspicious in a residential area and calls police (“see something, say something”), one does not want to be seen by possible perpetrators and removes himself or herself from sight.

Once again, this has been a case where in public, mob emotions seem to rule instead of law. 

In other television news, networks and cable channels are reportedly working on a more unified rating system, following the movies, for instant replays of episodes; and for setting up special minors’ access channels.




Monday, June 11, 2012

Piers Morgan fields Jesse Ventura's call to abolish political parties


Monday night, on CNN, Piers Morgan interviewed former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, “The Bod”, now 60, who further elaborated on his suggestion to eliminate political parties in the United States.

He wants ballots to omit the names of political parties, so that voters actually have to know who their political candidates are.

He did say that political parties could become “political action committees”.

Ventura refers to the parties as “Democrips” and “Rebloodicans”.   He said things only get done through bribery (what we called “Bribery Bridge” in Sunday school in the 50s).

He says he has stopped flying because of a large amount of metal in his body which he says causes repeated problems with the TSA.

And he lived off the grid in Mexico recently, missing all the football playoffs.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"CNN Presents" the most dangerous medical errors


Late Saturday night (or Sunday morning) I caught a replay of a “CNN Presents” on “25 shocking medical mistakes”.  What I found online is “10 shocking medical mistakes, and what you should know to avoid them”, link here, story by John Bonifield and Elizabeth Cohen.

This broadcast did not use Sanjay Gupta, and did not have the benefit of his usual medical deliberations.
What impressed me, though, was how tedious medicine must be as a profession for those who practice it. 

Although there are more automated systems in place than before, professionals have to constantly recheck their work or there can occur catastrophic human consequences.  Medicine is unifocal, they say, except for Gupta, who gets to be a TV star, or for Ron Paul.

Patients need to be aware and help professionals check iv connections and medications.

One of the worst dangers is a computer error in radiation dosimetry, or in controlling currents to the heart or other organs.  In one case, during bypass surgery, a heart as “cooked”, resulting in the need for a transplant.
In another case, the magnetic field around an MRI attracted a loose metal object, striking a child patient in the head and killing him.

Don’t go to the doctor!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

NBC Dateline revisits 1984 apartment slaying in Dallas; DNA evidence makes all the difference




Friday night, June 8, NBC Dateline presented another captivating mystery with plot twist, “Remembering Angie Samota”.  In the fall of 1984, the SMU student was found assaulted and murdered in her Dallas garden apartment near campus in the Greenville Ave. area.

Three “boy friends” were possible suspects, and two were eliminated by RH tests available at the time. The one remaining said he was at home asleep when it happened and his alibi could not be verified.  Police called him in for months, but never arrested or charged him. He got a lawyer. 

A female friend, after moving to Tennessee, became a private investigator and tried to get the case reopened once DNA testing was possible, in 2004.  Eventually, DNA tests confirmed the story of one other boyfriend, whom she had called after letting a stranger in the apartment to use the bathroom.  It turned out to be the stranger. (Big surprise!)  

In the 1980s, people really could go to prison or even to the death penalty on circumstantial evidence, before DNA evidence could clear or incriminate someone. 

The stranger was convicted, after 24 years, and sentenced to death, at age 61, in 2008. 

I lived in Dallas at the time, and was in a similar kind of apartment in Oak Lawn, called Harvey's Racquet.  At the time, I was buying a condo in Pleasant Grove and I remember that period in my life well.  But I don't recall the headlines of this case.  I didn't visit the SMU area often, although once I went to a swimming meet there, in 1982.  I do remember the nearby Northpark theaters.  


The second hour concerned the acquittal of Adam Kaufman with the “spraycan tan defense” after his wife died suddenly at home after a tanning session, link

Friday, June 08, 2012

"Saving Hope" on NBC, Canadian medical series toys with the paranormal a bit


NBC aired the Pilot last night (Thursday, June 7) for another esoteric medical drama, “Saving Hope”.  The series is set in Toronto, at a Hope-Zion hospital. In the opening, surgeon Charlie Harris (Michael Shanks) is injured in a taxicab wreck, first saving another person in the crash from a lung collapse, before dropping himself with a subdural hematoma (remember “Ben Casey” back in the 60s?) 

In a coma and having to be revived by defibrillator chest paddles, he wanders the halls of the hospital as a ghost, watching the other doctors scurry.  Alex Reid (Erica Durance) prepares to save him, while other medical dramas unfold.  A gritty young British surgeon (Joel Goran) saves an athlete’s arm by not amputating it for cancer, but instead taking it upon himself to resect lymph nodes.  A young woman dies from rare childbirth complications, and the young father wonders if he wants to keep a child who “killed his mom” getting born, or put it up for adoption.

Is Harris in the middle of a "near death" experience?  Is his consciousness freezing forever at a point in space-time? 

The NBC site for viewing the episode is here

Canadian Television’s YouTube trailer:

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Does Stefano's death mean that "Days of our Lives" will end soon? Could it end badly for gay character Will Horton?


Well, “Days of our Lives” has finally “done it”.  They’ve assassinated arch crime boss and villain Stefano DiMera.  Eight people touched the revolver in the “Hall” leading to his “Study”, and now the 40-year-old soap comes down to a game of Clue.

I thought that Marlena was the last to be seen touching it.  She said on Friday to Stefano, “You have absolutely nothing to offer”.  In his last days, Stefano has been looking at half of a prized coin. 

Remember when he brought them back from the dead (the Salem stalker) and shipped them to an island in 2004? 

Remember when Marlena paralyzed Stefano with curare?

Anyway, does the death of Stefano mean the series is ending soon?  It would seem so.  Or will we find out some bizarre twist and that he comes back from the dead?

It’s really hard to say who did it.  It would be disturbing if Will actually did, and winds up in prison. That would be a horrible outcome after his coming out.  It doesn’t really make sense that he would have.

The character Will has a long writeup on Wikipedia, here.  

There is a story on GLAAD’s award to actors Chandler Massey (Will) and Freddie Smith (Sonny), in Gay Star News, link

Wednesday, there was a curious scene where Will pretended to have a “relationship” with Sonny in front of Sami, and Sonny resented it.  But soon Roman barged in and started questioning Will.

Here's a YouTube clip of the famous kiss in February 2012.


Update: 2 PM Thursday June 7 EDT

Will Horton's gun residue test comes back positive, and only his does.  Roman arrests him for the murder of Stefano.  There must be a plot twist I don't see coming.  Anybody got some ideas?  Couldn't the other "usual suspects" have just worn gloves?  Remember what Marlena did in 2004? 


Wednesday, June 06, 2012

ABC hosts Diamond Jubllee Concert


Katie Couric hosted ABC’s telecast of Queen Elizabeth II ‘s “Diamond Jubilee” Concert in London (60th Anniversary celebration), with Elton John and Paul mMcCartney, at Buckingham Palace.

One of the most impressive pieces was “For Your Eyes Only” from the 1981 James Bond film from MGM.  Also performed were “Diamonds Are Forever” by Shirley Bassey and “Delilah” by Tom Jones.

The concert concluded with an Elgar “Pomp and Circumstance” March, which morphed into the conclusion of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The Elgar seemed to be in the key of E, tuned slightly lower (a quarter tone) than my Casio (maybe E-flat?)


Here’s a story by Donna Semmens at EDP-UK on the graphics at Buckingham Palace, link. Some acts were performed on the roof!

Wikipedia attribution link for Victoria Memorial near Buckingham Palace. 

I walked past the Palace during a visit in November 1982. 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

ABC Nightline: a personal trainer tries the "Supersize Me" experiment


ABC Nightline aired a report “Fit 2 Fat and Back” Monday night, a story about NYC personal fitness trainer Drew Manning, who deliberately overate and got fat and then lost the weight back again to understand what his clients go through.  What a lesson in personal empathy!


Manning, who weighed about 190 at 6 feet 2 with a 34 inch waist, and could do 4 sets of pull-ups, gained about 80 pounds and could hardly do any.  He developed a conspicuous pot belly, maybe like Babe Ruth’s.  

He says that it was difficult to lose the weight on the way back down.  He experienced the same compulsive food addictions reported by the obese.

He finally got back to his original shape, however, complete (in the video) with shaved chest.

Manning is married, and his wife says this was hard on the relationship.

Manning’s experiment reminds one of Morgan Spurlock and his 2004 film “Supersize Me”, where Spurlock went on a fastfood binge (throwing up on camera in one scene) to demonstrate the harmful effects of the ordinary American diet.  Both Spurlock and Manning developed serious medical complications during their overweight binges, including dangerous hypertension episodes. 

The broadcast fits in with Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to limit the size of sugared beverages that can be sold in NYC.

When I substitute taught in northern VA 2004-2007, I found the cafeteria meals very poor and fatty in quality.

When I came of age, it was a common belief that many men gain weight after marriage.  (“Wait until he gets married.”)  The one place these days where men are consistently lean is gay discos. 

Monday, June 04, 2012

CNN and Piers Morgan cover Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee


Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee was heavily covered on CNN all day Sunday, with moving presentations of an Elgar Pomp and Circumstance March, followed by the British national anthem, all performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus from a sheltered barge on the Thames.  The emotional effect recalled that of the Parry hymn at William and Catherine's wedding.

Some of the festivities, such as the air show, were cancelled because of heavy rain, as a storm that plagued the US East Coast Friday moved across the Pond.  And the London Philharmonic discovered the virtue of “Bargemusic”.

Piers Morgan covered the festivities all day Sunday.

CNN supplemented the coverage of the Jubilee with a report on Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and a report on Prince Harry's more recent military service.  Harry will likely be deployed to Afghanistan one more time during peacekeeping, and his presence will not be secret this time.  He is said to bond to his military environment in "unit cohesion" well. 

There will be an Elton John concert Monday night.


Wiki attribution link for Tower of London picture   Most recent personal visit, 2001. 

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Discovery's "City Beneath the Waves: Pavlopetri"


There are important lessons in Discovery Channel’s one hour “City Beneath the Waves: Pavlopetri”, about the archeological digital reconstruction of a lost city just off the coast (about 5 feet under) of southern Greece, along ancient trade roots with Crete.

The best link seems to be this

The city flourished at the end of the Bronze age, 5000-3000 years ago, and disappeared just as ancient Greece as we know it was coming into history.  The scientists, who must dive and snorkel to do the work, reconstruct a city of maybe 100 buildings, with many large, two-story houses on stone foundations with wood and plaster above, and public courtyards.  There seems to have been a rigid social structure and concern about fertility, as expressed in burial rites.  The neighborhoods are characterized as “prehistoric suburbia”.

The city seems to have been lost to three or more earthquakes which gradually submerged parts of the city. Also, at the end of the Ice Age, sea levels rose, as we again fear they will because of global warming, but not enough to submerge the city.

Ted Marcoux narrates.  John Henderson is the lead scientist from the University of Sydney.  The site was discovered in 1967 by Cambridge University explorers.


Wikipedia attribution link for location map '

Friday, June 01, 2012

NBC Dateline's "Twisted"; is storm coverage excessive?


NBC Dateline’s episode “Twisted” on June 1, 2012 made for good viewing given the inteeruptions by network-owned local stations for the East Coast severe weather.

The obvious comparison is to the 2004 film by that name with Ashley Judd, reviewed on the Movies blog July 21, 2010.  And "Twisted Pictures" was the production company for the "Saw" films for Lionsgate. 

Tracey Richter, an Iowa mom in a second marriage, would be shoot a teenage home invader, and then be accused of setting it all up, in a custody battle with her former husband.   There was a complicated history involving the first husband, and the relationship of her troubled son Burt to the stepfather.  A second alleged intruder was never found.  I rather reminds one of Sam Shepard in Ohio in the 1950s.

The teen victim had written a fictitious handwritten “novel” journal that tracked to the real crime, which raises interesting legal questions about fiction mimicking or motivating real life (and issue for me before).  But then the journal could have been a fake written by Tracey herself.

Tracey is eventually convicted.  Dennis Murphy interviews her in jail and she denies everything.



Both NBC4 and WJLA pre-empted all shows from 2:30 PM until 7:30 (including nightly news) to cover the storms, showing the detailed calculations of the bow-out in every rotating thunderstorm. When I was growing up, did what we didn’t know not hurt us?

Update:: Aug. 15, 2014

NBC Dateline re-aired the show.  The UL mirror has a very detailed account here