Friday, June 29, 2012

Why CNN and Fox Wrongly Reported the Supreme Court Health Care Ruling

The initially incorrect reporting by Fox and CNN of the US Supreme Court health care ruling yesterday will go down in history and long be cited in journalism courses along with Dewey beating Truman in 1948 according to the infamous Chicago Tribune banner headline and other examples of premature breaking news.  It was the most enjoyable part of the ruling other than the ruling itself.

But why did this happen?  The superficial answer, true enough, is that neither Fox nor CNN read far enough in Chief Justice Roberts' opinion to see he was upholding the mandate in the Affordable Health Care law as a tax, after rejecting its constitutionality under the commerce clause.

But there are deeper reasons.

CNN has fallen to a weak third place in the 24/7 all-news cable line-up.  It attracts not only the lowest number of viewers but likely staff and interns at all levels who would rather be someplace else.  Marshall McLuhan observed this sinking ship phenomenon in media when major newspapers began going on strike in the 1960s - they were going on strike, temporarily shutting down, McLuhan noted, as prelude to their permanent shut down, because fewer people were reading them, anyway.  Lack of audience and lack of production acumen feed one another in a vicious, downward, mutually destructive cycle. McLuhan not only saw the decline of newspapers in response to the screens of television, but accurately foresaw their decline in response to 21st century social media, which are now also challenging cable.

CNN is not about to shut down, but it is already in this cycle of decline, and needs to take special care not to feed it.

Fox, still in first place in cable news land, made the miscall for a very different reason.   Fox, despite its "fair and balanced" moniker, has long seen and reported the world through right-wing glasses.   Its top talent - Shep Smith, Bret Baier, and even Bill O'Reilly - can and do have independent views.  But its staff at all levels wears ideological blinders.  Fox not only misread the Supreme Court decision by stopping too soon in its reading, but likely did that because that's what the Fox people who did the reading wanted it to say.   They read as much as they needed to confirm their hopes.  Seeing support for one's views can be a powerful source of distortion when encountering new material.

I suppose the same could be said for MSNBC, which didn't want to see the ruling strike down Obamacare and reported the ruling correctly.   On the other hand, Pete Williams, who brought the opinion to MSNBC air, is one of the sharpest legal reporters in the business.  Given the decline of CNN and the ideology of Fox, it is unlikely he'd be anywhere other than reporting for MSNBC.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Falling Skies Returns

Falling Skies returned for its second season on TNT last night, with an excellent two-hour foray.  The main theme, for at least this part of the season, is whether Tom, who spent some time on an alien ship, had returned a Manchurian Candidate, or a sleeper who will unknowingly work for the aliens on the inside of our brigade of freedom fighters.

In support of this hypothesis, we have -
  • the aliens massacre a group of humans in a field - and leave Tom unscathed
  • some kind of tiny alien insect mech emerges from Tom's eye and eventually finds its way into an alien eye
  • and this, maybe a stretch on my part, but was Ben's shooting his father totally an accident, or because Ben with super-sensitivity to aliens sensed something alien in Tom (and couldn't see that he was shooting his father)?
So far, only Pope is really suspicious, and Weaver has certainly taken note of the possibility.  Tom is of course the loving father, and ready as ever to kill aliens, but that's exactly what a good unknowing sleeper agent would do.  And in the end of the second hour, as he takes out a bunch of aliens, he manages to escape when the aliens torch his position.

Otherwise, lots of good brotherly tension between Hal and Ben - who has become, because of his strength and perception, Weaver's best operative, but is still not 100% above suspicion because of the parts of the alien spine that are still with him.  Matt's growing up, too, able to handle a gun despite what Hal (and Tom) want, due to Ben's teaching.

Some good romantic flourishes between Maggie and Hal, Anne and Tom, and Lourdes and Jamil (fine new tech-savvy addition).   And hey, I enjoyed the shoutout to Bob Dylan, who may still be alive back in Minnesota writing protest songs!

See also Falling Skies 1.1-2 ... Falling Skies 1.3 meets Puppet Masters ... Falling Skies 1.4: Drizzle ... Falling Skies 1.5: Ben ... Falling Skies 1.6: Fifth Column ... Falling Skies 1.7: The Fate of Traitors ... Falling Skies 1.8: Weaver's Story ... Falling Skies Concludes First Season



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The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book





Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Killing Season 2 Finale

A mostly excellent, satisfying Season 2 finale for The Killing, with an outstanding twist that stretched a little too far ...

I thought the killer was Gwen - from the beginning.  Turned out to be Jamie, just one off, though the real twist was that although Jamie beat Rosie, he was not the one who put her into the water in the trunk of the campaign car, where she died.

That was be Terry, who (of course) did not know the girl in trunk was Rosie, presumably didn't hear her screams, which we the audience did, in one of the best scenes of a series brimming with great scenes.  We also now understand why Terry was devoting her life to the Larson family after Mitch took her vacation.

All of that makes powerful sense.  What doesn't is the extraordinary coincidence that Terry, involved with Ames, would get into that position where she unknowingly drove her niece into the water.  A bridge too far.

But the Larsons were presented perfectly after that, finally beginning to be a little on top of their heartbreak, watching the movie that Rosie had made about her life and aspirations.   That was a twist, too - Jamie really had nothing to fear from that movie, no reason to accost Rosie in the casino.

Linden and Holder ended well, too.  One of the best exchanges - Holden says we got the bad guy, and Linden responds, who would that be?   No single bad guy in this story, just lots of people who contributed with their errors and ambitions and insecurities to Rosie's death.

No word, as yet, on whether The Killing is coming back.  I sure hope it does - it's among the best detective shows of all time, second to none in the sensitivity with which it handled the impact of the murder on both the family and the cops investigating the crime. It's a story I'll never forget.

See also The Killing Season Two Premiere ... The Killing 2.2: Holder ... The Killing 2.11: Circling Back

And see also The Killing on AMC and The Killing 1.3: Early Suspects ... The Killing 1.5: Memorable Moments ... The Killing 1.6: The Teacher ... The Killing 1.8: The Teacher, Again ... The Killing 1.9: The Teacher as Victim, Again ... The Killing 1.10: Running Out of Suspects ... The Killing 1.11: Rosie's Missing - from the Story ... The Killing 1.12: Is Orpheus the Killer? ... The Killing 1.13: Stretching Television



                                                       

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why "You Only Live Twice" for Mad Men Season 5 Finale

Why was Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice," from the 1967 James Bond movie of the same name, such as perfect choice for the closing music of Mad Men's Season 5 finale?  As my wife immediately mentioned, Matthew Weiner and the folks at Mad Men must've been  thinking about this song for years - it so perfectly captures Don's dual life - but were waiting until the chronology of the series caught up to the song's.

But there are lots of additional reasons that make the song such as good choice:
  • Don, especially in the arm draped around a chair, cig in hand, that serves as the logo of the series, looks a lot like the James Bond from this era.  Clearly, that was the look that Weiner wanted.
  • The 1967 movie - the fifth in the series - was the first not be fully based on the Ian Fleming novel.  Some of the settings and characters were same, but the script was freshly written by Roald Dahl (based on an earlier attempt by Harold Jack Bloom).  A lot like the way campaigns come to be written at ad companies.
  • The movie was the first to be released in the summer - a new time slot for James Bond movies.  Just as Mad Men had a new time slot this season.
  • Nancy Sinatra was regarded by some at the time as getting the vocalist role at least in part because she was Frank's daughter (on the other hand, she had already had some huge hit records).  But nepotism was a central theme of Mad Men Season 5.
Anyway, the closer has given the song a whole new audience, and that's good news.  It was always one of my favorites from the Bond collection, and a great song and performance in its own right.






See also Mad Men Season 5 Debut: It's Don's Party  ... Mad Men 5.3: Heinz Is On My Side ... Mad Men 5.4: Volunteer, Dream, Trust ... Mad Men 5.5: Ben Hargrove ... Mad Men 5.6: LSD Orange ... Mad Men 5.7: People of High Degree ... Mad Men 5.8: Mad Man and Gilmore Girl ... Mad Men 5.9: Don's Creativity  ... Mad Men 5.10: "The Negron Complex" ... Mad Men 5.11: Prostitution and Power ... Mad Men 5.12: Exit Lane ... Mad Men Season 5 Finale

And from Season 4: Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..."  4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ... 4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim" ... 4.12: No Smoking!  ... Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don and -

And from Season 3: Mad Men Back for 3 and 3.2: Carvel, Penn Station, and Diet Soda and 3.3: Gibbon, Blackface, and Eliot and 3.4: Caned Seats and a Multiple Choice about Sal's Patio Furniture and 3.5: Admiral TV, MLK, and a Baby Boy and 3.6: A Saving John Deere and 3.7: Brutal Edges ... August Flights in 3.8 ... Unlucky Strikes and To the Moon Don in 3.9 ... 3.10: The Faintest Ink, The Strongest Television ... Don's Day of Reckoning in Mad Men 3.11 ... Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World in Mad Men ... Mad Men Season 3 Finale: The End of the World

And from Season Two: Mad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6: Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons ... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12 The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men ... 2.13 Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

And from Season One: Mad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarette Companies and Nixon ... Mad Men 2: Smoke and Television ... Mad Men 3: Hot 1960 Kiss ... Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men ... Mad Men 6: The Medium is the Message! ... Mad Men 7: Revenge of the Mollusk ... Mad Men 8: Weed, Twist, Hobo ... Mad Man 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad men 10: Life, Death, and Politics ... Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes

20-minute interview with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) at Light On Light Through





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The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...
 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mad Men Season 5 Finale

"You Only Live Twice" from that great James Bond movie of the same name in Japan was the closing song in tonight's Mad Men Season 5 finale.  It was easily the best part of the show, and one of the few only really good parts.

Television seasons often suffer from the next-to-last episode being better than the closer.  Last week's Mad Men, and the week before's, were solid gold.  Tonight's was a series of weak afterthoughts.

Pete's story with Beth was ridiculous - she got shock therapy to clear the "blue"s, and lost her memories of poor Pete.

Don's tooth hurt so bad he went to the dentist - all so he could lengthy drug-dream of seeing his brother.

Megan is despondent because she can't land a part - but does so in the end, with Don's help and because she is talented.  The good very last scene shows the effect this may have had on Don: he still loves Megan, finds her beautiful as ever, but she's now just another hustler in his world, hustling him for his professional favor.

There's an excellent scene with Don and Peggy, which shows she'll have a continuing role in the show.  She apparently bears Don no ill will, and to the contrary views him as almost a beloved mentor.

And there's a good scene with Don and Lane's widow, in which learn the meaning of that brief almost-tryst Lane had at the beginning of the season.  

But Roger sleeps (again - or at least, is intimate again) with Megan's mother.  Then (a day or whatever later), he trips out again on LSD.

So, three good scenes and lots of blah in contrast to Lane's suicide and Joan's prostitution in the last two episodes - two of the best episodes ever on Mad Men.

But I'm still thinking this was the best season ever, and was it was good to hear Nancy Sinatra again.  And that silhouette from behind of the five partners - now including Joan, and without Lane - looking out of the new window on to the future was a fine iconic promise of more to come.

See Why "You Only Live Twice" for Mad Men Season 5 Finale

See also Mad Men Season 5 Debut: It's Don's Party  ... Mad Men 5.3: Heinz Is On My Side ... Mad Men 5.4: Volunteer, Dream, Trust ... Mad Men 5.5: Ben Hargrove ... Mad Men 5.6: LSD Orange ... Mad Men 5.7: People of High Degree ... Mad Men 5.8: Mad Man and Gilmore Girl ... Mad Men 5.9: Don's Creativity  ... Mad Men 5.10: "The Negron Complex" ... Mad Men 5.11: Prostitution and Power ... Mad Men 5.12: Exit Lane

And from Season 4: Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..."  4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ... 4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim" ... 4.12: No Smoking!  ... Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don and -

And from Season 3: Mad Men Back for 3 and 3.2: Carvel, Penn Station, and Diet Soda and 3.3: Gibbon, Blackface, and Eliot and 3.4: Caned Seats and a Multiple Choice about Sal's Patio Furniture and 3.5: Admiral TV, MLK, and a Baby Boy and 3.6: A Saving John Deere and 3.7: Brutal Edges ... August Flights in 3.8 ... Unlucky Strikes and To the Moon Don in 3.9 ... 3.10: The Faintest Ink, The Strongest Television ... Don's Day of Reckoning in Mad Men 3.11 ... Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World in Mad Men ... Mad Men Season 3 Finale: The End of the World

And from Season Two: Mad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6: Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons ... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12 The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men ... 2.13 Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

And from Season One: Mad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarette Companies and Nixon ... Mad Men 2: Smoke and Television ... Mad Men 3: Hot 1960 Kiss ... Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men ... Mad Men 6: The Medium is the Message! ... Mad Men 7: Revenge of the Mollusk ... Mad Men 8: Weed, Twist, Hobo ... Mad Man 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad men 10: Life, Death, and Politics ... Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes

20-minute interview with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) at Light On Light Through




                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, Garden.com, eMusic







The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...
 

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Killing 2.11: Circling Back

I thought from pretty much the beginning (see my reviews of last season, listed below) that Gwen was the most likely killer of Rosie.  Initially, it seemed plausible that she was jealous of Richmond's affair with Rosie, who after all was found in a campaign car.  When it turned out that Richmond wasn't sleeping with Rosie, and suspicions were piling up on his opponent, the corrupt and ruthless mayor, I had less reason to suspect Gwen, but something about her has continued to bother me. 

And now, with last night's latest stunning twist in this superb series, it looks like it's either Jamie or Gwen as the killer.   The keycard with Rosie's blood on it turns out not to be the key to the mayor's office, but to someone apparently working for the mayor, with campaign posters for Richmond all over.  In other words, either Jamie or Gwen, a double agent.

It's still a question of where this agent's loyalty ultimately lies - with Richmond and feigning really working the mayor, or vice versa.  It's probably the latter, but the bigger question is -

Is it Jamie or Gwen?  Jamie's loyalty to Richmond seems indisputable, but would he kill Rosie to protect Richmond because he wrongly thought Richmond was sleeping with Rosie? I don't see that - as fiercely loyal as Jamie is, there's nothing in his background to give us reason to think he would kill for Richmond.  But what if Jamie's really working for the mayor?  Highly unlikely, given the bad blood we've seen between Jamie and the mayor's aid (whom I was beginning to slightly suspect, before that last scene last night).

So that leaves Gwen.  She had emotional trauma as a girl.  Whether really working for Richmond or the mayor, she has motive (jealousy over Richmond and/or wanting him to win; or wanting to protect the mayor's wrong doings from public revelation after Rosie got wind of them).  Unless it turns out the blood is not really Rosie's - Holder told us it wasn't forensically confirmed - the arrow's pointing towards Gwen.  Or - maybe Gwen and Jamie did it together (with Gwen doing the actual killing).

I'll be keenly watching every moment of this season's final episodes.

See also The Killing Season Two Premiere ... The Killing 2.2: Holder

And see also The Killing on AMC and The Killing 1.3: Early Suspects ... The Killing 1.5: Memorable Moments ... The Killing 1.6: The Teacher ... The Killing 1.8: The Teacher, Again ... The Killing 1.9: The Teacher as Victim, Again ... The Killing 1.10: Running Out of Suspects ... The Killing 1.11: Rosie's Missing - from the Story ... The Killing 1.12: Is Orpheus the Killer? ... The Killing 1.13: Stretching Television




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The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book



Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...


Mad Men 5.12: Exit Lane

Well, it was clear since Lane embezzled some of the company's funds, and forged Don's signature in the process, that some kind of big no good would come to Lane.   But in Mad Men 5.12, it got as bad as it could for poor Lane.

Don shows another thread of decency when he doesn't turn Lane over to the police, after Don discovers what Lane did.  But Don does insist on Lane's "voluntary" resignation.   Lane pleads to stay, but Don rightly says that Lane can no longer be trusted.   Don also adds that Lane can pick himself up after this, some place else, and that Don was no stranger to starting over.

It's not enough for Lane, who hangs himself in the office the next day.  The reactions, again, of the characters are revealing.  Joan, the most empathetic and human of the crew, is crying.  Everyone else is pretty shaken up.  Don knows what to do - he's not going to just leave Lane hanging there, for the police to arrive - and he of course also feels guilty.   Tough season for actor Jared Harris - playing memorable, very different kinds of characters, now violently gone in two major series (Mad Men and Fringe) - and fine pieces of acting in both.

As upset as Don, he manages to be a good father, doing the right thing for Sally's would-be boyfriend.  And Betty finally rises to the occasion, too, at last being a comforting, good mother, as Sally deals with the realities of entering adolescence.

For a show about cut-throat advertising execs, Mad Men has a way of hitting some deep human notes, and it's never been better than doing that this season.

See also Mad Men Season 5 Debut: It's Don's Party  ... Mad Men 5.3: Heinz Is On My Side ... Mad Men 5.4: Volunteer, Dream, Trust ... Mad Men 5.5: Ben Hargrove ... Mad Men 5.6: LSD Orange ... Mad Men 5.7: People of High Degree ... Mad Men 5.8: Mad Man and Gilmore Girl ... Mad Men 5.9: Don's Creativity  ... Mad Men 5.10: "The Negron Complex" ... Mad Men 5.11: Prostitution and Power

And from Season 4: Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..."  4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ... 4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim" ... 4.12: No Smoking!  ... Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don and -

And from Season 3: Mad Men Back for 3 and 3.2: Carvel, Penn Station, and Diet Soda and 3.3: Gibbon, Blackface, and Eliot and 3.4: Caned Seats and a Multiple Choice about Sal's Patio Furniture and 3.5: Admiral TV, MLK, and a Baby Boy and 3.6: A Saving John Deere and 3.7: Brutal Edges ... August Flights in 3.8 ... Unlucky Strikes and To the Moon Don in 3.9 ... 3.10: The Faintest Ink, The Strongest Television ... Don's Day of Reckoning in Mad Men 3.11 ... Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World in Mad Men ... Mad Men Season 3 Finale: The End of the World

And from Season Two: Mad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6: Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons ... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12 The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men ... 2.13 Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

And from Season One: Mad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarette Companies and Nixon ... Mad Men 2: Smoke and Television ... Mad Men 3: Hot 1960 Kiss ... Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men ... Mad Men 6: The Medium is the Message! ... Mad Men 7: Revenge of the Mollusk ... Mad Men 8: Weed, Twist, Hobo ... Mad Man 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad men 10: Life, Death, and Politics ... Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes

20-minute interview with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) at Light On Light Through



                 Special Discount Coupons for Angie's List, Avis, Budget Car, Garden.com, eMusic





The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book




Enjoy listening to audio books? Get a free audio book copy of The Plot to Save Socrates - or any one of 85,000 other titles - with a 14-day trial membership at Audible.com ...
 
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