Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lisa Ling visits "Man Camp" (like Dr. Phi's) in Williston ND oil patch, where the homeless are "filthy rich"

Lisa Ling ("This Is Life") visits the oil shale operation at Williston ND in an episode called “Filthy Rich” on CNN.  A typical local reference is this
The most interesting part of the episode was the depiction of the “man camp”, a temporary housing mass where men live in dormitory fashion, with one washroom per every eight people, and a 10 ft x 12 ft room for each person, with TV and Internet.  A female truck driver named Heather, who at 50 could outperform most of the men, lived there with them.  Dr. Phil would have been proud of the “Mancamp”.
Rents in the area approach those in New York. The short frost-free season makes rapid building more difficult.
The segment also covered the women who make a living as dancers in bars or sometimes as prostitutes. 
The episode could be compared to the film “The Overnighters”, reviewed on the movies blog Nov. 15, 2014.
Wikipedia attribution link for Williston area picture. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Death in the Driveway", notorious SC murder case of Melvin Roberts on NBC Dateline

Friday night, NBC Dateline aired “Death in the Driveway”, about the murder of defense attorney and landlord Melvin Roberts, found stabbed to death in his driveway in York. SC, with his girlfriend in duct tape.  A good link is here, full episode here
Eventually the girl friend Julia Phillips became a suspect – the duct tape wasn’t very convincing, and was convicted of hiring a hit man for the murder.  She will face life without parole.
Phillips got greedy when the 69-year-old wanted to end the relationship.

The State has a detailed story by Jonathan McFadden, here
The conviction has been appealed and other accomplices are being sought.   
York SC is in northern SC, in the Piedmont, closer to Charlotte NC than to Columbia.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Lisa Ling presents documentary on gay rodeos

This Is Life” with Lisa Ling, aired a report on Gay Rodeos recently. The main CNN link is here. The title is "The Faces of America's Gay Rodeo."

Ling interviewed a number of male and female participants, including Brianna, Will, and “Bubba”.  One man, who came out in the 1970s at 33, recalled the time that Reno, NV banned a gay rodeo; when he tried to participate in a regular one, the sheriff surrounded him with two cars, brandished a gun, and said that “queers” couldn’t come on the property.  He says the knew that the sheriff was "in the wrong" legally and only doing it because he thought he could get away with it.  Suddenly, that recalls the debate now on police abuse based on race, centering on Ferguson, MO,  but also on other incidents in the past.  (Let me mention that in 1968, when I was in Basic Training at Fort Jackson, SC, there was an incident in Orangeburg, 50 miles away.)

“Bubba”, around 50, did not want to identify himself and still kept his or her face in shadows because of employment as a prison guard.
When I lived in Dallas, I recall that there gay rodeos were held once a year somewhere in Texas (in the 80s).
The documentary (42 minutes) presented the competitive events of all rodeos.  May participants enter the mainstream events, too. 

Robin Roberts hosts "Thank You, America" on ABC; Minnesota family fostered 90 children

Robin Roberts hosted a special presentation “Thank You, America!” Thanksgiving evening at 8 PM EST, major  ABC News link here.

The main event was Roberts’s surprising the Neal family in St. Cloud, MN, who have fostered over 90 children, as well as adopting four (including one from Africa) and a pair of twins (link) .
Roberts also interviewed Taylor Swift.

Later Roberts interviewed an elderly couple, the Harveys, who had cashed in its 401(k) account to start a food pantry charity for the homeless, in Gaithersburg. MD., link 
Roberts received a bone marrow transplant for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in 2013, as outlined in a Sloan Kettering article here. This pre-leukemia may occur as a result of previous chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

CNN: "Black and Blue", part of "Black in America" series, with Soledad O'Brien, shows racial profiling by police in Brooklyn (with Eric Garner case on Staten Island)

As part of its “Black in America” series, CNN has offered a report by Soledad O’Brien “Black & Blue” about the relations between the New York City police department and the African American community, particularly in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. There is some focus on the 79th Precinct.  And frankly there is racial profiling going on.
This report was first aired before the "no bill" result from the Fergusion grand jury.

Soledad O’Brien describes the show on her “unofficial” blog here .

It’s quite remarkable how some in the community resent the behavior of police.  The documentary starts as a black man shouts “I can’t breathe”, which will become a chant later, as police hold him.  The man later lies.  He had been selling untaxed cigarettes. 

The man who dies is Eric Garner.  Since CNN first aired the film, the policeman who took him down Daniel Pantelio, was reviewed by a grand jury which did not indict him Crowds have protested peacefully, although getting arrested for blocking traffic with "die-ins" all over New York City. As of this juncture, it is hard to understand why there was no indictment (Wiki story). 
“BedStuy” is a rapidly gentrifying area (maybe like NE Washington now).  Young professionals are buying or renting old brownstones and moving in as real estate development continues.  The poor people are pushed out as rent controls expire.  Is this part of the problem?  But back in the 1970s, when I lived in Manhattan, the area was considered "poor". 
Blacks represent 23% of NYC’s population but just 16% of the NYPD (New York Post article .NYPD created some controversy in the 1990s under mayor Rudy Giuliani with its “broken windows” police policy. 
Some sources may spell the episode title out as "Black and Blue".   

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ABC's Stephanopoulos's extended interview with Darren Wilson

Late Tuesday night, at 12:35 AM Wednesday, November 26, 2014, ABC Nightline aired the complete interview of police officer Darren Wilson by George Stephanopoulos. The entire video last 45 minutes, and ABC News gave the episode the title “Decision in Ferguson.”  The full link is here.    Many partial embeds are available on YouTube.  I’ll also give the Wikipedia link here

The details that officer Wilson relate are shocking.  He, although armed, seems to have been trapped in his own cruiser by an unarmed young man with the build of a pro football lineman.  It seems that Brown finally started to retreat but then returned, even as shots were hitting him. 

It’s true that eyewitness accounts from the community contradict what Wilson says, but forensics apparently support what Wilson says. 

Yet, it seems unbelievable, at first, that an unarmed man would attack an armed uniform police officer, even in his cruiser, this way. 

Other indignant voices in Ferguson’s African-American community seem to maintain that he is lying.  They often, as in a barber shop interview (almost as in the film franchise “”Barber Shop”) indicate a belief that the mostly white police department behaves as part of a corrupt power structure, like that of past generations.  They also think that it is a convenient coincidence that the grand jury, randomly chosen (although the process usually is not as random as it needs to be because of the length of the term) had nine of twelve white members.

Wilson’s testimony is graphic in its precise detail.  But to judge its credibility, I can only pause to review a few possible confrontations in my own life, for comparison.

One time, as I walked near the Capitol in Washington, I saw a couple of Capitol Police officers, and one had a revolver that appeared loose.  A street attacker could have taken it from him from behind.  I simply crossed the street and got away from this as quickly as possible.

Twice, for example, I’ve been in situations where I feared carjacking, once locally and once in Ohio.  In the local situation, the perpetrator appeared stoned on drugs and unable to carry out his threat.  In both occasions, I sped away quickly and nothing happened.  Facebook founded Mark Zuckerberg reports a similar incident in California just after he had moved there to start his company, and he likewise drove away instantly.  In all these cases, simply retreating worked.  I know that some on the “right wing” will say we were lucky and should have been able to defend ourselves.  But often retreat works.  In another occasion a few years ago, at some distance I inadvertently saw an older man make what looked like an inappropriate advance on an athletic teenage boy.  The teenager ignored it and simply walked away.  In my own observation, retreat usually happens.   

In Ferguson, the whole tragic encounter took just 90 seconds.  Wilson says he followed procedure to the letter.  It seems that backup forces took longer than expected to arrive.  Brown could not have escaped arrest if backup had arrived sooner.  Wilson says he agrees with the idea of police wearing cameras. In this case, it seems like it is very difficult to prove hard facts.  It is amazing how difficult this is.

Michael Brown’s behavior that Saturday sounds unbelievable.  He reportedly was going to college and had not been in trouble, does not report mental illness or drug issues.  Then why was he shoplifting?  And why was he, a “good kid”, suddenly behaving in such a belligerent manner? This sounds like a question for Dr. Phil. 

Possibly there had been some informal plan among some residents of the community to ask one of the more physically compelling members to be willing to confront police, given a belief that they were themselves being targeted.  This sounds sinister and gang-like, but maybe this was happening.  I am not a big believer in affirmative action, but why had not normal human resources practices resulted in more African American police officers on the force as a matter of routine?
The violence in the Ferguson community, however, has probably harmed more African-American business owners than anyone else.  It makes no sense to talk about victims; they bore the losses and pay for the crimes of others.  AC360 addressed the issue of lost businesses here
Huffington Post has an important article about other recent police shootings, link here.  ( I see no mention there of Darrien Hunt in Utah.) Ebony has an interview with Pharrell Williams who does ask about Michael Brown's "bullyish" and out-of-character behavior, which it seems no one is looking at. 

Note that former prosecutor Nancy Grace said on HLN that "it doesn't add up" and that (like me or Zuckerberg) Wilson should have driven out of the way if he feared for his life, link here. 
The angry (from the crowds) rhetoric seems not to be about facts and logic, but about enemies, taking sides, loyalties, and conflict, even “class warfare” as Noam Chomsky would portray it. It’s a sort of thinking not so different from radical behavior in other parts of the world, including religiously based. Even if Darren Wilson has a clean conscience and is telling the complete truth (and I'm inclined to believe him), he will still pay personally the consequences for sharing in a "group wrong" of a pattern of racial injustice from the past.  It is a trend I cannot afford to be caught up by, or it ends my life.  

I realize that the attention to the ABC report may seem one-sided.  If some party presents a detailed report with the opposing view, I would watch it and review it. 
Pictures: demonstrations in Washington DC, Nov. 25, near Mt. Vernon Square 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ABC's "Castle" episode "Kill Switch" combines two threats in NYC, but misuses a well-known influenza virus

ABC pushed its regularly scheduled programs Monday night up for Ferguson, but did not pre-empt them.  I caught an episode of “Castle” called “Kill Switch”, where a murder suspect threatens to become a suicide bomber on a NYC subway car.  Then we learn that the explosion would release a deadly influenza. 

The problem is that the call the flu “H5N1” which appeared in 2011 and for which we now have an effective vaccine.  The program could have picked one of the bird flu’s, rather than swine flu.  At the end, we learn that a female scientist wants a market for her vaccine.

Nathan Fillion plays Richard Castle, the novelist who sees his plots carried out in “real life”.  That calls for layered screenwriting.  
See my review of "Carriers" on my "CF" blog Dec. 7, 2010, and a retrospect on a 1999 ABC Nightline simulation of a fictitious anthrax attack on the Bart system in Sam Francisco (same blog).  

Monday, November 24, 2014

CNN makes spectacle of Ferguson protests after "no bill" of indictment from grand jury

CNN has covered live the long statement by St. Louis County prosecutor Bib McCulloch deliver a long statement explaining the decision by the grand jury to return “no bill” – no indictment against police officer Darren Wilson.

The most critical parts of the evidence seemed to be that Mr. Brown had approached the officer’s car and had approached the officer another time.  Apparently Brown reached into the car or for Warren's weapon at one point. Missouri law is said not to be in full compliance with former Supreme Court rulings on when police may use deadly force.

I could not find a full transcript of his remarks or link for all of the evidence as of this writing, but will add it as soon as I find it. There is a transcript of Wilson's testimony here

Sonny Jostin, Jeffrey Toobin and Mark O'Mera analyze the prosecutor's remarks here
What is more disturbing, however, is that disorder and violence broke out in Ferguson very quickly, and CNN televised it live during the past hour.  Jake Tapper, Don Lemon, Jason Carrol, and Andew Cuomo all ran from tear gas.  Police cars were turned over and fires appeared on live television.  CNN seemed to be focusing on the spectacle and aired it on CNNGo to cable subscribers.
Other networks interrupted their regular programs briefly, but not to the extent of CNN. 
There are reports of a march of about 300-1000 people from U Street to the White House in Washington DC Monday night.  There is a gathering of people shouting in unison in front of the White House now. 

President Obama’s remarks at 10 PM.

Live coverage on CNN may continue all night.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of looting Aug 4 in Ferguson 

Update: Nov. 25

In Ferguson, a protester screamed a CNN's Jason Carroll, "you do not understand. You are enhancing THEIR narrative." A police cruiser was set on fire at about 11 PM EDT. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

NBC Dateline "Mystery on the Early Shift" in a Kentucky laboratory (the Michelle Mockee case); suggestions for Dateline (take up the "cold" Powell, Green cases)

NBC Dateline offers a video of a polygraph with Josh Mankiewicz, with a female examiner who speaks with great confidence about their reliability, despite inadmissibility.

The Dateline episode for Friday Nov. 21, 2014 is “Mystery on the Early Shift”.  In a Cincinnati suburb, Florence, actually in northern Kentucky in Boone County, a woman, Michelle Mockbee is found murdered, by blunt force beating, in her administrative office at a company called Thermo Fisher Scientific, on May 29, 2012. The NBC link is here

There were only five people in the building at the time, before 7 AM.  The prosecutor (Linda Tally Smith)  and sheriff eliminated four of the suspects, including the victim’s husband, by the process of elimination that matches the famous board game of Clue (as the prosecutor characterized it).  The person finally arrested and convicted of second degree murder was the janitor David Dooley.

It does seem as though the evidence was circumstantial.  The DNA found on the arms of the victim did not match anyone in the building.

The fact pattern showed an attempted break-in to her office.  The motive was supposedly that she caught him breaking into an office trying to falsify payroll records.  The prosecutor said “desperate people do desperate things.”

All the other original potential suspects had passed polygraph tests, but Dooley did not take one, according to the show.

Dooley received a life sentence according to this story

This was one of the best Dateline episodes lately. The audience could try to solve the case just as in the boardgame.  I wonder if there is a smart phone Clue app. The other famous crime board game from the 1950s was “Mr. Ree”, which is largely forgotten, but it had a nice illustrative layout of an estate.  I remember the pagoda.  I think we played that game summers in Ohio in the 1950s.
I think that NBC Datelines should take a couple of specific subjects.  One is to follow up on the “To Catch a Predator” series, even though Chris Hansen is no longer with NBC.  It would be interesting to know how some of the more prominent community members (like the rabbi David Kaye from Maryland, and a cancer researcher in California) fared in prison and after getting out. Only NBC could easily follow up on this. It could make an interesting independent film documentary.
Another idea would be to do a complete study on the open case of security-related technical workers Kanika Powell and Sean Green at two locations in Prince Georges County MD in late 2008.  There’s a reddit post here. (There are many other sources).  NBC Dateline could go back to the original Washington Post stories and work forward.  In the Powell case, there are questions about how many men actually came to her apartment at different times, what was the escape route, her emails.  There are many bizarre details that a full investigation by a news organization like Dateline could do, but a lot of fact finding would be needed to be redone.  One question would be whether the murders are related.
For the record, I worked for NBC, in IT, from 1974-1977.  It’s still a good memory. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Don Lemon's "CNN Tonight" panelist predicts "no indictment" of Darren Wilson in Ferguson shooting; conviction at a real trial said to be very difficult

Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight” on Wednesday night (10 P EST), interviewed Cyril Wecht (link), a forensic pathologist, who predicted that in Ferguson, “The Grand Jury is not going to indict the officer (Darren Wilson) in this case”.  Wecht later said he would personally vote to indict, but in a real trial there would be tremendous reasonable doubt in a petit jury trial. Even with an indictment. officials would have to brace later for the very likely acquittal.  
Tom Fuentes (CNN legal analyst), David Klinger (criminal justice professor, link)  and Van Jones (legal analyst) also discussed the matter with Wecht.  The link (provided in case the embed below stops working) with video is here
There are many stories in the media about police preparations for demonstrations in many cities, not just around St. Louis.  The Washington Post reports preparations in a story by Wesley Lowrey and Kimberly Kindy, link here. The post links to a posting of 19 “Proposed Rules of Engagement” by a “Don’t Shoot Coalition”, link here
 Wikipedia attribution link of picture of Ferguson protesters in August. Note the sign “We are the village”.  
I'll add here, as I have on other blogs and Facebook, that the case of Darrien Hunt by police in Saratoga Springs, UT needs more media attention, particularly on CNN.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lisa Ling looks at young priests who are "Called to the Collar"

Lisa Ling’s “This Is Life” segment on CNN Sunday night, “Called to the Collar”, visited the little town of Fowler, MI, with its Catholic store, and family of young men willing to become priests and forego having families.  And in these cases, this was what the Vatican admires: heterosexual men giving up their own biological future because of a calling.

The family was Koenigsknecht, where Gary and Todd, twins and both 26, were ordained recently.  A younger man was starting seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.  The process takes eight years and is psychologically demanding.  The young man said that otherwise he would have become a farmer.

The St. Thomas campus brings back good memories.  I took a Unix course there in 1999 while working for ReliaStar (now ING-USA, actually Voya) in downtown Minneapolis.  This is a Catholic college (looking a little like Catholic University in Washington DC) but is quite diverse in what it offers (especially technology subjects), and taking a course there was interesting.

The owner of the Catholic store says that the town is filled with young adults "on fire with their faith" and that more people are choosing the life or vow of poverty again.   Parents are proud of this development even though they will not get grandchildren from the men.

There's a line about people who grow up "going to church".  I remember that from a welcoming phone call in New Jersey back in 1972 (though this was Protestant).  

The Lansing State Journal has a story on the broadcast, here

Monday, November 17, 2014

NBC starts "State of Affairs" and presents an odd personal situation for a lead CIA analyst

NBC premiered its new espionage drama “State of Affairs” Monday night at 10 PM EST with a Pilot.

Katherine Heigl plays the lead, Catherine Whitney Tucker as a CIA analyst at Langley responsible for the President’s Daily Briefing. And the president is a black female, Constance Peyton, played by Alfre Woodard.
The first episode centers around a kidnapping of the president’s son in Afghanistan.  Terrorists demand the release of numerous “brother” prisoners from Guantanamo to save the son’s life.  And Tucker had been the fiancĂ©e of the son, which would have implied interracial marriage.
The episode opens with a new employee arriving, saying he is a graduate of UNC at Chapel Hill; that’s interesting.
The activity in the office is fast paced, and it’s unlikely that the real CIA is anything like that.  At one point, Catherine is suspended, which isn’t very credible.  And there is a subplot involving foreign hacking of cellular conversations.
NBC’s main site is here
The characters seem to have grown up in this world.  It’s interesting to see how “ordinary people” can be affected by espionage, or people who work in the intelligence communities while living publicly as something else, but perhaps work with intelligence services because of something unusual in their backgrounds.  An alternative idea would be to show how young adults might be recruited gradually by stompers, to work in intelligence services.   Edward Snowden showed you don’t need college degrees to get a high paying job with the CIA.  

Update (Feb 17, 2015):  See my "cf" blog for discussion of the season finale, "Deadcheck".  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

NBC Dateline: "The Root of All Evil": family murder case in eastern Arkansas

On Friday night, NBC Datelines aired “The Root of All Evil” (one hour), a case in Jonesboro, AR where Marc Despain a real estate appraiser and then investor, was murdered.  The stepfather was eventually convicted of hiring hit men, and the wife eventually pleaded to obstructing justice, despite putting on a scene when she found the body.
Two men were sentenced to first degree murder and sentenced to 35 years in prison.  A typical news story comes from ABC affiliate KAIT, here. As in the movie "Fargo", all of this for a little bit of money. So this is the straight world. 
The early part of the broadcast gave some idea of how real estate in rural southern areas appeals to young people who may have dropped out of school.  I can remember a case on Dr. Phil where a young couple had planned all of its finances on flipping houses in Arizona, which fell apart quickly. 
Wikipedia attribution link for El Dorado, AR, where a “roommate” in Dallas in 1980 had come from.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Meredith Vieira Show gives award to single man who adopts children

The Meredith Vieira Show on Friday, Nov. 11, featured an interesting client of her “$10K A Day” offer, the last day it ran (best link).  The award went to a Pittsburgh police officer, associated with a group called Steel City Boxing”, who said that he had always been single and had thought he would remain an unattached bachelor.  He worked with underprivileged young men in a boxing club (which would not be my own cup of tea), a bit like a “foxcatcher” (although that refers to wrestling).  With two of them (white) he made home visits at some point and learned that they were in dire straits with single parents.  He finally adopted them as a single dad.  He did say he had gone from being a bachelor to a “responsible family man”, a phrase I personally took as a little off-putting.  I didn’t catch the name and it isn’t on the website.  The presentation did not mention sexual orientation or why he had never married.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

DC ABC affiliate backs up "How To Get Away With Murder" with a real Georgetown University law professor and her class; more on Perry Mason, on gay angle of new series

Station WJLA in Washington DC (actually Arlington VA) reinforced the new ABC series “How to Get Away with Murder” tonight by presenting a profile of defense attorney and Georgetown University law professor, Abby Smith, story link here. The news report quizzed her students on what it takes to want a career as a defense attorney in an adversarial contest.  Why do people want to represent those who have, from all appearances, created horrible crimes.  One answer was that police can lie (echo, Ferguson MO, where there is new evidence tonight), and another is that prosecutors often abuse minorities.  That’s apparent from wrongful convictions covered on CNN or by the Innocence Project.
The report mentioned the Perry Mason television series from the 1950s, with assistant Della Street, inspired by mystery writer Earl Stanley Gardner, which produced a long series of genre mystery novels and movies (mostly for TV) in the 50s and 60s.  Mason (Raymond Burr) would get the real killer to say “I did it” during the preliminary hearing.  You saw a lot of early LA in the series (as you did in “Dragnet” with Jack Webb).  In a typical Perry Mason episode, the victim would be found murdered about 15 minutes into an hour-long episode. 
Vox Media has a long article today  (by Alex Abad-Santos, link ) on the gay subplots of “How to Get Away with Murder”, involving Connor Walsh, played by Jack Falahee. 

There’s another story on “Oh No They Didn’t” Live Journal, but the embedded video is already gone because of a copyright takedown on YouTube, story link here. You can look at the “images” in Google from a search in the actor’s name and notice some inconsistencies.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bourdain traces heroin epidemic in Berkshires to over-prescription by doctors of pain meds

Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” stuck close to home last Sunday night with a visit to western Massachusetts, specifically Greenfield, particularly to look at the hidden heroin epidemic.  A typical account of the show is on WGGB, here. Bourdain started the episode by admitting his own early drug use in NYC.  
The basic explanation of the epidemic is the over-prescription of pain medication ever since the early 1990s.  A female doctor explained how the dictum was to make the patient comfortable.  This led to the leveraging of prescription pain killers, to the illegal forms, eventually to heroin. 
Yet, I can recall in 1973, when New York State passed a zero-tolerance law on drugs 
Bourdain also visits Provincetown, visits the gay bars and discos, and has a seafood dinner in one of them.  I’ve been to P-town only once, with friends over Labor Day of 1976, and I remember we stopped at the Boatslip.  We stayed in a friend’s house in Duxbury, and then went up to Mount Washington and took the cog railway Labor Day, when there was already rime ice forming.

P-town is a little bit inconvenient to get to, given its popularity.  So is Martha’s Vineyard.   Bourdain could go farther northeast, visit Magnetic Hill in New Brunswick, and the remote areas of Newfoundland and Labrador. I’ve been to that province only once, in Gander, on a chartered airliner stop in 1972.  Prince Edward Island is the only province I’ve never set food in.  I got into Saskatchewan illegally in 1998, long before 9-11, simply on the back ranch roads.   You can’t do that now.  
WJLA in Washington DC will follow up Bourdain's report with one about heroin and prescription drug abuse in the wealthier DC suburbs soon. 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Lisa Ling: "What I Learned in Strip Clubs" in her "This Is Life" series

Lisa Ling’s “This Is Life” looked at “What I Learned in Strip Clubs”, and, well, this is a road job where women earn a lot more than men.  Here is her link on CNN 
Ling visited a house rented in Austin, TX by a big club for its travelling strippers to stay in while in town.
A female dancer typically works along a pole (requiring strength and athletic ability), and collects tips.  She typically can make about $400 for a lap dance.  The dancers say the club takes a relatively small cut. 
She didn’t look at the world of male strippers, especially gay.  Local laws vary on whether strippers can be touched or even photographed. 
My own viewing of this happened only once, in Indianapolis in 1970, when I went out with some coworkers.  One of the women had stretch marks from child birth.  I still remember that.  I think maybe I went again in St Paul MN in 1974 when working on a benchmark with Univac. 

Above, Anderson Cooper talked about his trip to a “club” (straight) a year ago.  

Thursday, November 06, 2014

ABC's "How to Get Away with Murder" is really like a board game

How to Get Away With Murder”, ABC’s new series created by Peter Nowalk, is certainly layered enough.  Viola Davis (“Scandal”) plays a Philadelphia law professor who hires students from her class to work at her firm.  Does this set up a series of “Clue” or “Mr. Ree” games?   How often in law school does this really happen?  I’ve only known one law student reasonably well, back in 2000, when he was in a tiny dorm room at the University of Illinois at Carbondale.  Nothing like this sounds probable.  But this is a series where the professor will live her own cases. 
Oliva’s character is Annalise Keating (no connection to Peter Keating in “The Fountainhead” I bet).  In the pilot, the corpse of one of the students, Lila (missing for a long time) is found in a campus water tank. Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay) will be the prime suspect.  Yet in successive episdes Annalise carries on business as usual with other cases.  Rebecca has been in a relationship with Wes (Alfred Enoch).

The show has some “flash forwards”  (rather like the defunct ABC series which was very good) that show, for example, that Annalise’s husband will turn up as a corpse.  This is a rather interesting concept in screenwriting, playing with the "reality levels" of the viewer's experience.  It can also set up the hidden links between characters who seem to come from different worlds.  
The episode this evening was called “He Deserved to Die,” and it offers a gag order, a rather cheap men’s room gay scene, and a (heterosexual) pre-nup, which suggests that heterosexual marriage these days isn’t very much about covenants.   

Official ABC site is here.  Picture: ABC News baloon in Philadelphia, north of downtown, taken from an Amtrak train.  

Update; Nov. 27

ABC aired the Pilot and second episode again Thanksgiving evening.  It's interesting how sassy Viola's character is with students and witnesses, especially in the opening lecture scene.  She hires the likable Wes (Alfred Enoch) who does have skeletons in his closet (from the flash forwards).  
If I had invented a series like this, I wouldn't want to make a likable student and law intern a future murderer, but maybe that's just me

Update: Dec. 6

Here's the steamy gay scene, Youtube link

Monday, November 03, 2014

Anthony Bourdain visits Iran on Parts Unknown, finds it not as terrifying as thought

Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” visited Iran (The Islamic Republic of Iran) Sunday night. 

Bourdain did cover some of the history before the 1978 "revolution" that deposed the Shah and set up the 1979 hostage crisis.  
Some of his crew were detained by security for a while, but he did not find everyday life as repressive as is widely reported in the media.  Women can drive and own businesses, but sometimes do get arrested for improper dress. There was an extended scene in a bowling alley.  
Bourdain also found the people unexpectedly hospitable, and eager to share their cuisine.  At least that’s the account of Al Arabiya News, link here.  He says as the program opens that the people in Iran were the most hospitable to strangers anywhere, the "radical hospitality" idea.  
Dana Ford has a column from August 2014 where Bourdain discusses journalists being held in Iran as “nobody’s enemy”, link here

Wikipedia attribution link for Iran’s power structure 

Update:  Nov. 6

Anthony Bourdain appeared on AC360 to discuss the holding of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his wife Yeganeh Salehi in Iran, since July 22, 2014.  The applicable website is "Free Jason andf Yegi", link here

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Chris Rock stirs controversy on SNL with "jokes" about Boston Marathon and 9-11, and ISIS Shark Tank skit

Chris Rock stirred up controversy with his opening monologue Saturday Night, “All Saints Day”, when he joked about the Boston Marathon attack and 9/11, with a summary on Yahoo here.  He baited the safety of the New York City Marathon which was today.  (I was in NYC last weekend and hotels were really full;  they would have been even fuller this weekend.) 

Later, the show featured a “Shark Tank” 4 minute pitch for fund raising by ISIS militants (link)  At least the militants said they had made vacant, deserted “useless” land productive.  But this satire makes sense, as ISIS has been proving it can "make money".  Still, it probably came across as a "real laugh not".
The controversy led to a firestorm on Twitter today.  Michelle Singletary retweeted the story I cited.
Chris Rock once spoke to an assembly (concerning countering drug use) at a high school when I was substitute teaching, back in 2007.  The school was Langley, near the CIA, one of the best performing schools in northern Virginia. 
Nov. 1 was "clock set back night" which gave an extra hour.  But with the weather cold and windy, and with a Halloween party the night before, I stayed in, not trying to take advantage of the extra hour for "cruising".  

SNL appears to have announced its host selections only through Nov. 15.  At least one of my suggestions on a user survey (Chris Pratt) came to pass immediately.  

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Mike Rowe's show covers oyster farm in Maryland, high school drum section in Kansas City

Mike Rowe’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” this week opened with a 40-minute report about an oyster farm along the Eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, MD.   The link is here. The farm breeds oysters to replenish those poisoned in the Bay, as the mollusks are the “kidneys” of the Bat ecosystem.  The animals (inside shells) are placed in trays in a certain position, and when the trays fill, some males will release sperm, and the females will open their shells, as part of their “oyster orgies”.  The animals are fed a variety of algae.

The last twenty minutes covered the “Marching Cobras” youth band in Kansas City, MO.  This was part of a program to teach low income youth to play musical instruments, particularly drums.  The film “Whiplash” with Miles Teller (Movies, Oct. 17) does come to mind.  Rowe's own site is here.