Thursday, April 27, 2017

Career sportswriters dooced by ESPN

It must come as a shock to be laid off from a network as a writer, especially as a sportswriter for ESPN.  Fox News has a story about the layoff told in tweets from those affected, some of whom were informd very suddenly, even while on vacation.

ESPN is finding its business contract as consumers find other ways to watch sports as well as cable.  And it seems that the content streams from MLB. NFL, etc are very expensive indeed.

But there are some comments that the progressive measures of ,major sports leagues have driven away some viewed.

It would be fun to comment on Bryce Harper’s homers, or on who gets to be the Nationals’s closer. I have my own ideas.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Writers (the professional kind) could strike and send you to watching repeats (or going indie)

There could be a vote for a writers’ strike in Hollywood soon.  The LA Times story is here.

Any strike would be most likely to affect some late night comedy, and some miniseries, especially those not already started.  There are real problems, with exclusivity contracts and dwindling revenues from reruns of existing shows. Entertainment Weekly has a list of specific shows that could be affected here.

Generally, television writing is more rigorous than movie screenwriting because it has to fit exact show segment lengths between commercials.  Imagine making a living writing for a soap opera.

Some big studio films might be affected (the comedy market), but probably not the independent market.
I’ve developed my own screenplays out of my own material, so far, so I am totally independent and unfunded (except by myself and maybe inheritance).  But I get lots of silly emails with paid screenwriting leads.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

John Kasich gives AC360 a Town Hall on CNN

John Kasich gave a Town Hall Monday night at 10 PM EDT hosted by Anderson Cooper, with this as the best link. The interview coincides with the publication of his new book “Two Paths: America Divided or United”, from Thomas Dunne Books.

Kasich would not confirm or deny that the book could presage a run for the GOP nomination in 2020, especially if Trump falters.

The tone of the GOP Ohio govenror’s interview was somewhat humble and talked about forgiveness. Kasich disagreed with Trump’s budget proposals, and supports funding the NIH, especially cancer and vaccine research. He says he supports science as a determinant of policy and seems to imply we need to take climate change seriously and have a moral responsibility to future generations.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Trump likes his own reflection on Cable TV, especially OAN (an opportunity for a young journalist from American University, Trey Yingst)

The Washington Post has an article Monday morning by Ashley Parker and Robert Costa, “’Everyone tunes in: Inside Trump’s obsession with cable TV”, link  with video.

Apparently there are many TV’s in the White House, and the president moves from room to room binge watching, as he recreates his own glory days of “The Apprentice”.

The story mentions that he likes to watch OAN, One America News, a center-right-leaning news service in San Diego. I am not aware that OAN has a cable channel, but it does have Direct TV (I refuse to deal with “The Dish”).

The story also mentions the fact that Sean Spicer often calls on OAN’s White House correspondent, whom I’ve met personally at a visit to a WJLA “Your Voice Your Future” program.  This is Trey Yingst,23,  a graduate of American University, who started “News2Share”  before moving to OAN, for example . His Twitter feed is here  and his own site is here.   Trey’s questions are sometimes very blunt and challenging.  The story then says “he” watches Al Jazeera, but I’m sure who “he” is (an English language problem of not enforcing case agreement).  But Mr. Yingst comes across as someone who would have survived all the boardrooms had he been a contestant on "The Apprentice".    
Despite the popular belief that Trump doesn’t like criticism, he actually does seem to respect correspondents and bloggers who propose solutions (like on how to actually cover people in a GOP healthcare plan) and who take certain national security threats seriously, for what they are. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

CBS 48 Hours: "The Golden State Killer" and the "amateur" journalist who tried to solve the cases (and her sudden death)

On Saturday, April 22, 2017, CBS 48 Hours aired a crime episode “The Golden State Killer”, link.

The layered story concerned crime writer Michelle McNamara, who died suddenly at age 46 in her sleep, of an apparent cardiac arrest related to artery blockages and certain prescription drugs.  Her husband, Patton Oswalt, a well-known comedy performer, was interviewed on the show and related his devastation, even vomiting when finding her dead suddenly.  Oswalt has arranged for her book to be completed

She became an “amateur” journalist and sleuth, going to the locations of many of the home invasions which over time turned into murders, first in the Sacramento area and later around Los Angeles.

Wikipedia calls the perpetrator the “Original Night Stalker” with the article here.  The trail goes dead in 1986.

The history reminds me of the 2008 murders of defense-related workers in Prince Georges County MD. (January 24, 2015).
This is the sort of news puzzle that I could envision myself wanting to be hired to work on (to get outside my own narrative), but Patton seems to have arranged for completion of the book.  I don’t see it on Amazon yet but I’ll order it and review it when it comes out.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

CNN updates "Downward Spiral: Inside the Case Against Aaron Hernandez"

On Friday, April 21, 2017, CNN re-aired (at 11 PM) a special report “Downward Spiral: Inside the Case Against Aaron Hernandez”, best link.

Hernandez is the former New England Patriots Tight End who was convicted on one murder (Odin Llyoyd( and charged and acquitted of two others.  Hernandez died in prison on April 19, which prompted CNN to update and re-air.  The death has been viewed as a probable suicide. But there is room to investigate.

The details of these cases, covered in a suspenseful manner in the CNN documentary film, are well summarized on Wikipedia, here.

The first two shootings occurred as a drive-by, where the two victims were in a car shot at by a passing vehicle. Hernandez and the victims had been in a club in Boston called the “Cure”.

The fact pattern suggests that Hernandez was very badly tempered and could carry out violent acts when insulted by minor incidents that often happen in bars.  The incident sounds like a straight bar version of Pulse, although it is much smaller and not related to terrorism.

Hernandez’s appearance was also remarkable, with body parts (especially arms) completely covered by tattoos.

He did have a nice home, from which police found many clues.

The one conviction will be reversed because it had been on appeal when he died. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

"Caitlyn Jenner: Secrets of my Life" on ABC 20-20 with Diane Sawyer

Tonight, Diane Sawyer presented, on ABC 20-20, “Caitlyn Jenner: Secrets of my Life”, also a forthcoming book.   Here is the first link.    The interview is at her home in Malibu, CA.

This broadcast follows a similar interview two years ago.  Jenner has started the sexual reassignment surgery, and says a trans person should never be “asked”.

The broadcast does show some early footage when she was Bruce Jenner, and he had started taking female hormones earlier than anyone knew.

Caitlyn says she voted for Donald Trump, and was disappointed when Sessions did not allow Obama’s interpretation of federal civil rights law to protect transgender youth in public schools to continue. But she says that more schools are coming up with innovative solutions to allow transgender kids to use the bathroom that matches their identities, outside of states trying to outlaw that (as with HB2 in North Carolina).

The broadcast covered identical twin studies that show a 39% concordance on transgender-ism, and even occurs with identical twins reared separately.

It also mentioned the old idea that the world is dangerous, so it is morally reassuring it there are men and there are women.   The show briefly mentioned the idea of gender fluidity, but that is not really Caitlyn’s narrative.

Jenner was involved in a fatal car accident involving paparazzi.

Malibu painting by Granville Rredmond, p.d., Wikipedia

Friday, April 14, 2017

ABC 20-20, Nev Schulman do another iteration of "Catfish", targeting an NBA basketball player

ABC 20-20 tonight ran its own account of “Catfish”, with a handsome Nev Schulman (now 32, a new father) helping narrate.

A young woman Shelly Cartier, living in a small town of Easterville way north of Winnepeg, Manitoba, “catlished” heavily tattooed and “illustrated man” basketball star Chris “Birdman” Andersen, resulting in Colorado police suspecting him of possessing child pornography until the “identity theft” was traced to her.

Cartier, bullied at school, had lived alone with her aging mother, whom she took care of, and spent years setting up the Catfish scheme, which sometimes led to extortion.

Birdman lost two years of work and endorsements because of the false accusations but eventually got to meet president Obama in 2014 when it was all over.

In the interview, she seemed hardly to care about the damage she had done to his reputation, as she was oblivious to his world of “privilege”.

She spent 18 months in jail in Canada and could be extradited to Colorado.  But she married a man in Brooklyn whom she met through Xbox.

The New York Daily News has this version here.

Wikipedia attribution link for Manitoba picture.  Richard Harmon tweeted about being there recenlty (for "Crypto"?)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CNN's "Finding Jesus" explains Doubting Thomas

CNN’s series “Finding Jesus” aired on Palm Sunday an episode about Thomas, that is, Doubting Thomas, who, after the resurrection, wanted to reassure himself that the risen Christ was real by seeing and palpitating the hand wound.

The episode then goes on to explain how Saint Thomas spread Christianity to India.

Several points come to mind. One is that the word “apostle” is broader than “disciple”.  There are apostles who were not part of the original twelve disciples (like Paul).

I see that I had reviewed a film called “Thomas” in the “Closer to Jesus” series back on Dec. 8, 2012.

The narrative does make the case for a faith that is connected to reason.  That looks forward to today’s issues of connecting faith to physics and cosmology (maybe the idea of intelligent design).

But there may be something else here.  Jesus provided the perfect opportunity for upward affiliation. A disciple could become concerned that somehow Jesus could disappoint them, as a human would.
I explored this in an unfinished composition, which I could say more about in my “Media Reviews” (really “Show and Tell”) blog on Wordpress (especially this post -- I need to add the "Doubting" material to this composition).

I’ll cover this later there, but here are three posts (more for my reference than anything else).




There is also a “Gospel of Thomas”  I don’t see a film on this book on imdb (as there is one for Judas).

“Doubting Thomas” is one of the most provocative stories, for me personally.  What happens if someone you look up to really does “lose it”?

Monday, April 10, 2017

CNN "Believer" covers an orthodox Jewish sect in Israel stricter than most Islam

Reza Aslan’s “Believer” on Sunday night about the ultra-orthdox group in Israel, the Haredim, led to his essay “Why I worry about Israel’s future”.

Aslan considers himself a secular and socially moderate Shiite Muslim, whose family fled Iran in 1979 when the revolution against the Shah turned it into a religious state and led to the 444-day hostage crisis.   Secularism tends to promote not just freedom but its own brand of accompanying inequality.

But in Israel the Haredim is growing in political influence.  It’s high birthrate has caused it to rise to 13% of the population. The men don’t work, but spend all their time studying the Torah.  Their leadership considers this their “sacrifice”.  The women work and raise all their kids.  But the group has a legal exemption from compulsory military service.  It’s rather like the old US system of student deferments during the Vietnam War (or maybe comparable to conscientious objection).

The documentary showed some Haredi-majority communities where non-Haredi are bullied for not following Haredi practices, like modesty and strict gender segregation, which ironically parallels Islam.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture by Chesdovi under CCSA 3.0 showing Haredi gender segregation.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

"Chicago Med" shows a hospital's computers hit by a ransomware attack, endangering patients

Tonight, Thursday, April 6, 2017, “Chicago Med” on NBC ran an episode called “Cntl Alt” (directed by Valerie Weiss), which opens with nurses finding that their tablets lock, and then the logon terminals lock up with a ransomware demand.

The hospital administrator Sharon Goodwin (Epatha Merkensen) refuses to pay the ransom. It may be too much of a spoiler to reveal that one of the surgeons did, when the screens come up – to save a patient’s life.   The hospital has to go on backup and manual procedures.  MRI’s cannot be done.  Monitoring equipment fails in the OR doing an operation.

Of course, one wonders why the hospital didn’t have an image backup somewhere. Is this what would happen?

There are interesting medical cases.  A bullet in the leg travels to the heart, necessitating bypass surgery. A young woman has PSP, progressive supranuclear palsy. And there is an outbreak of a fungal infection traced (eventually by contact tracing) to a used car.

The program was interrupted briefly by Lester Holt on NBC announcing Trump’s air strikes in Syria as retaliation for Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

MASN covers Nationals' nice win on Opening Day of MLB season

OK, MASN TV got us off on the right start Monday, broadcasting (paid service) opening day, as the Washington Nationals came from behind starting in the sixth and beat the Miami Marlins, 4-2, story .

President Donald Trump did not show up, but members of each of the fived Armed Services threw out a first ball.

Stephen Strasburg may not have been at his best, getting only three strikeouts, but got a lot of ground balls.  Blake Treinen lived up to his first test as a closer.

Adam Lind, acquired from the Mariners, hit a 420-foot home run to dead center on a low outside pitch from reliever Phelps, on his first swing as a National.  But Bryce Harper had broken the shutout in the bottom of the Sixth with his fifth Opening Day home run.

MASN has an active Facebook page on the Nationals and other teams, attracting more comments than the Nationals’ own feed.

On Sunday, ex-national Melacon blew a lead for the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the ninth (to the chagrin of actor fan Richard Harmon, who plays Murphy in “The 100”) to the Arizona Diamondbacks.