Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trees and Hurricanes

Here in Westchester County, a little north of New York City, the worst damage in many areas that Hurricane Sandy wrought was due to fallen trees.

Trees, like all living organisms, have lifespans.   An old, weak tree is easily identified.  The trees that you see pictured below, which fell on our house, were on our radar, were a source of concern for us, for years.  My wife had let Paul Feiner, our excellent town supervisor, know about these trees.  He referred us to an official responsible for dangers on property - an environmental planner / forestry officer.  He showed us the law - which said the town of Greenburgh couldn't do anything about trees on a neighbor's private property, even when they pose a deadly hazard.

We've had our property inspected for too much brush.  Unmowed lawns can bring a summons.  But trees that can kill if they fall - nothing the town can do about them.

We were lucky last night.  Had the falled trees been a foot closer or longer, a lot more damage would have been done.  People in other areas of the country were indeed killed by falling trees.

The law needs to be changed.  Governments should stop bothering people about lawns and shrubbery and do what we elect them to do: protect and save lives.


Monday, October 29, 2012

The Good Wife 4.5 meets The Sopranos

Three powerful women figured prominently in The Good Wife 4.5 last night:

1.  Annabella Sciorra of The Sopranos and all kinds of fame puts in an appearance as one of  Lemond Bishop's attorneys.   She's as cute and effective as ever.

2. Of course Julianna Margulies - another anna - is also on hand.  Come to think of it, she was also in The Sopranos.   All that was missing was the Polish woman with one leg.

3. And Maura Tierney - who I'm pretty sure was not on The Sopranos - also shows up, with a continuing storyline that has nothing to do with Bishop.

Maddie (Maura Tierney) has had a strange storyline so far.  There was an implication that she wanted to sleep with Alicia - which didn't happen but could still be true.  All she seems to want is to be friends with Alicia, who is happy to have her as a friend as long as Maddie keeps the money flowing to Peter's campaign.   But last night, as a snakey blogger - whew, The Good Wife doesn't like bloggers - posts an article about how the mainstream media backed off publishing the bogus sex story about Peter and a blonde campaign worker, Maddie shows a keen interest in the story and the campaign worker.

Why?  Not yet clear, but after a meeting with the campaign worker, Maddie withdraws her support from Peter's campaign.  From the inklings we get in the coming attractions, maybe Maddie is thinking of jumping in the race for governor herself?

Unknown at this point.   All I can say is, "Don't stop-"

See also The Good Wife 4.1 Meets Occupy Wall Street ...  The Good Wife 4.2: Reunited ... The Good Wife 4.3: "Template-Based Link Analysis Algorithm"

And see also 
The Good Wife 3.1: Recusal and Rosh Hashanah ... The Good Wife: 3.2: Periwigs and Skype ... The Good Wife 3.7: Peter v. Will ...  Dexter's Sister on The Good Wife 3.10  ... The Good Wife 3.12: Two Suits  ... The Good Wife 3.13 Meets Murder on the Orient Express ... The Good Wife 3.15: Will and Baseball

And see also  The Good Wife Starts Second Season on CBS ... The Good Wife 2.2: Lou Dobbs, Joe Trippi, and Obama Girl ... The Good Wife 2.4: Surprise Candidate, Intimate Interpsonal Distance ... The Good Wife 2.9 Takes on Capital Punishment ... The Good Wife 2.16: Information Wars 



The Walking Dead 3.3 meets Meadowland

The Walking Dead is off to a fine start this third season, and hit a high chilling note in last night's episode 3.3, as we catch up with Andrea and meet a new character, the "Governor," who runs a seemingly idyllic - by Walking Dead standards - human community, Woodbury.

The actor, David Morissey, has experience with such communities.  In the short-lived but excellent Meadowlands of a few years ago, he played a victim of a such a place.  Last night, as the person in charge, he's the perpetrator of the strangeness in store for us.

Merle - Daryl's brother - is also on hand, without the hand that he cut off to escape from the cuffing and walkers that Rick left him in and to in Atlanta season before last.  He seems to have gotten over his racism - I didn't catch any nastiness from him about Michonne - and may be  the only ally Andrea and Michonne end up having against the Gov.

Michonne's already suspicious - as she is of almost everything.  And this time, as in most times, it's justified.  Andrea so far seems nothing but charmed by the handsome, articulate Governor.

His truth: he kills humans outside of Woodbury as quickly as walkers.  Or, at least, human males in the military.  Why he does this is not yet clear.   Because he doesn't want any men with guns other than his in Woodbury?  Or maybe doesn't want any men at all, because he wants to keep the women all to himself and the other male residents.

Whatever the reason, we're bound to see more the Governor and what he's really up to.   The last scene has him looking at heads - mostly walker - in bottles of formaldehyde.  As trophies?  Or something more functional?   There should be some good times ahead as Merle and Daryl are finally reunited.







"As a genre-bending blend of police procedural and science fiction, The Silk Code delivers on its promises." -- Gerald Jonas, The New York Times Book Review

Boardwalk Empire 3.7: Deadly Gillian

What a strange Easter Sunday it was on Boardwalk Empire 3.7 last night, where the best thing that happened for our characters was Nucky and Eli finally reunited.  If all is not forgiven, enough of it is by Nucky that he can rely upon Eli to do major work on his behalf.

Nucky will need it.  Allied again him now is not only the pyscho Rosetti, but ... well, not quite now, but close at hand ... Gillian and Richard.

Gilliam, up until last night, had apparently not accepted or even entertained the possibility that Jimmy might be dead.  Or maybe she did, but we just didn't see it.  At the end of last night's episode, though, we have no doubt that she knows Jimmy's gone for good.  She tells this to Richard, after she kills the Jimmy-look-alike she seduced last week and again last night.   It was chilling scene, but her murder of the surrogate is the least of it.

What will she do, now that she's accepted that Jimmy is dead?  She'll surely think that someone killed him, and how long will be it take her to connect that killing to Nucky?   Richard, though he found a connection with a woman last night, has an ever gentle-savage soul, ready to kill anyone who might even hurt let alone kill anyone he cares about.  And Richard cared a lot about Jimmy.  He seemed oddly accepting of Jimmy's absence this season.  After dispatching Manny (and good to see actor William Forsythe now holding forth on Mob Doctor), Richard seemed to almost shrug off Jimmy's absence.  When he and Gillian start commiserating about Jimmy's death, can Richard going out to get Nucky be far behind?

I suspect Eli will be Nucky's best defense from these attacks.  I've really gotten to like Eli this season, and hope he survives.

See also Boardwalk Empire 3.1: Happy News Year 1923  ... Boardwalk Empire 3.2: Gasoline and the White Rock Girl ... Boardwalk Empire 3.3: The Showgirl and The Psycho ... Boardwalk Empire 3.5: "10 L'Chaim"

 


"As a genre-bending blend of police procedural and science fiction, The Silk Code delivers on its promises." -- Gerald Jonas, The New York Times Book Review

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dexter 7.5: Terminator Isaac

Deb continues to be torn between supporting Dexter in Dexter 7.5 and declaring she wants nothing to do with her white knight / serial killer brother.   This time it's that she doesn't like lying to Batista. But she does a great job in protecting Dex against an incriminating photo from a case long ago, as LaGuerta continues to pursue her hope/hunch that Doakes is not the Bay Harbor Butcher after all.

This continues to be a superb season, because the above is only one of three excellent threads.

Dex and Hannah would be the second.  As I mentioned in an earlier review, she's a perfect romantic interest for Dexter, looking like Rita and Lumen, and actually, better, if you ask me.  But in a very interesting - and thoroughly true-to-the-logic of Dexter twist - it turns out he's interested in her because he's discovered she helped her serial-killing boyfriend in his killing, to the point of killing one of his victims herself.  She thus has become a suitable target of Dexter, who has actually gone a bit long without a thoroughly Dexterian kill.   Still ... I'd rather see him bed with than kill Hannah.

I'm thinking that Dexter might figure out a way to use Hannah to dispose of Isaac in the end.  Isaac's proved to be far more than a ruthless Russian mob boss.   When Dexter sets him up to be killed by a bar-full of Colombian drug dealers, Isaac turns the tables and kills them all by himself.  Deb dubs him the Terminator.

Isaac ends this episode behind bars, but, like the Arnold, this terminator will definitely be back, as Dexter takes on not only him but potentially LaGuerta - who, as Deb astutely says, likely won't be stopped in her pursuit of the real Bay Harbor Butcher by Deb's removal of the incriminating photographic evidence.

See also Dexter Season 7.1-3: Sneak Preview Review and Dexter 7.4: The Lesson in Speltzer's Smoke

And see also Dexter Season 6 Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 6.4: Two Numbers and Two Killers Equals? ... Dexter 6.5 and 6.6: Decisive Sam ... Dexter 6.7: The State of Nebraska ... Dexter 6.8: Is Gellar Really Real? .... Dexter 6.9: And Gellar Is ... ... Dexter's Take on Videogames in 6.10 ...Dexter and Debra:  Dexter 6.11 ... Dexter Season 6 Finale: Through the Eyes of a Different Love

And see also Dexter Season Five Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 5.4: Dexter's Conscience ...Dexter 5.8 and Lumen ... Dexter 5.9: He's Getting Healthier ... Dexter 5.10: Monsters -Worse and Better ... Dexter 5.11: Sneak Preview with Spoilers  ... Dexter Season 5 Finale: Behind the Curtain

And see also
 Dexter Season 4: Sneak Preview Review ... The Family Man on Dexter 4.5 ...Dexter on the Couch in 4.6 ... Dexter 4.7: 'He Can't Kill Bambi' ... Dexter 4.8: Great Mistakes ...4.9: Trinity's Surprising Daughter ... 4.10: More than Trinity ... 4.11: The "Soulless, Anti-Family Schmuck" ... 4.12: Revenges and Recapitulations

See also reviews of Season 3Season's Happy Endings? ... Double Surprise ... Psychotic Law vs. Sociopath Science ... The Bright, Elusive Butterfly of Dexter ... The True Nature of Miguel ...Si Se Puede on Dexter ... and Dexter 3: Sneak Preview Review

Reviews of Season 2Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 7. Best Line About Dexter - from Lila and 8. How Will Dexter Get Out of This? and The Plot Gets Tighter and Sharper and Dex, Doakes, and Harry and Deb's Belief Saves Dex and All's ... Well

See also about Season 1First Place to Dexter 





"As a genre-bending blend of police procedural and science fiction, The Silk Code delivers on its promises." -- Gerald Jonas, The New York Times Book Review

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fringe 5.4: Ghosts of Fringes Past

Talk about searingly bittersweet - mostly bitter, actually, but indelible on the psyche - we get a soul-satisfying scene, followed by one of by one of the biggest kicks in solar plexus in tonight's episode 5.4 of Fringe.

First, there's a delightful trip down Fringe memory lane, as Walter realizes that some of the mementos of Fringe cases past could help our gang in their future resistance against the Observers.   He kept what he could of what we saw in every Fringe episode, and selects the gaseous compound that causes skin to quickly grow over the lips and suffocate the target - in this case, tonight, the targets being human collaborators and Observers guarding Penn Station Newark (a station I know well, having caught a train or two from there down to Washington, DC when I taught at a college in New Jersey).

So far, so good.  And even better when we see Broyles, apparently collaborating with the Observers, but of course that couldn't be, and we see him in a great scene with Peter, Olivia, Walter, and Etta - one of the best this season.  Excellent acting by Lance Reddick who perfectly plays an older Broyles, with a little less of the Broyles quirk, and a slowing down just a bit as befits his age.

Tonight's show would have wonderful had it ended right then and there.   But Fringe isn't pulling any punches, not holding anything back in its final season, including the overwhelming superiority of the Observers, at least at this point.   And so the episode concludes with yet another tip-top gun battle, but an Observer gets the drop on Etta - and kils her.

A major blow, not only to the resistance, but to viewers.  Etta was a wonderful character, the best of Olivia and Peter, full of sass and power.   It doesn't make us feel much better that she manages one last move which takes out a bunch of Observers with a bomb.   Her loss is pretty close to insufferable.

Fringe, as we know, admits of time travel.   Certainly the Observers do it with ease.  In that sense, there's hope for Etta.  But until and unless we see her alive again, we've seen a sad and diminished future on Fringe tonight indeed.   Maybe even more reason that ever to watch what happens.




See also Fringe 5.1: Paved Park and Shattered Memories ... Fringe 5.2: Saving Our Humanity

See also Fringe Returns for Season 4: Almost with Peter ... Fringe 4.2: Better and Worse Selves... Fringe 4.3: Sanity and Son ... Fringe 4.4: Peter's Back, Ectoplasm, and McLuhan ... Fringe 4.5: Double Return ... Fringe 4.6: Time Slips ... Fringe 4.7: The Invisible Man ... Fringe 4.8: The Ramifications of Transformed Alternate Realities ... Fringe 4.9: Elizabeth ... Fringe 4.10: Deceit and Future Vision ... Fringe 4.11: Alternate Astrid ... Fringe 4.12: Double Westfield / Single Olivia... Fringe 4.13: Tea and Telepathy ... Fringe 4.14: Palimpsest ... Fringe 4.15: I Knew It! ... Fringe 4.16: Walter Likes Yiddish ... Fringe 4.17:  Second Chances ... Fringe 4.18: Broyled on Both Sides ... Future Fringe 4.19 ... Fringe 4.20: Bridge ... Fringe 4.21: Shocks ... Fringe Season 4 Finale: Death and Life

See also Fringe 3.1: The Other Olivia ... Fringe 3.2: Bad Olivia and Peter ... Fringe 3.3: Our/Their Olivia on the Other Side ... Fringe 3.5: Back from Hiatus, Back from the Amber ... Fringe 3.7: Two Universes Still Nearing Collision ... Fringe 3.8: Long Voyages Home ... Fringe 3.10: The Return of the Eternal Bald Observers ... Flowers for Fringenon in Fringe 3.11 ... Fringe 3.12: The Wrong Coffee  ... Fringe 3.13: Alternate Fringe ... Fringe 3.14: Amber Here ... Fringe 3.15: Young Peter and Olivia ... Fringe 3.16: Walter and Yoko ... Fringe 3.17: Bell, Olivia, Lee, and the Cow ... Fringe 3.18: Clever Walternate ... Fringe 3.19 meets Inception, The Walking Dead, Tron ... Fringe 3.20: Countdown to Season 3 Finale 1 of 3 ... Fringe 3.21:  Ben Frankin, Rimbaldi, and the Future ...Fringe Season 3 Finale: Here's What Happened ... Death Not Death in Fringe  

See also reviews of Season 2: Top Notch Return of Fringe Second Season ... Fringe 2.2 and The Mole People ... Fringe 2.3 and the Human Body as Bomb ... Fringe 2.4 Unfolds and Takes Wing... Fringe 2.5: Peter in Alternate Reality and Wi-Fi for the Mind ... A Different Stripe of Fringe in 2.6... The Kid Who Changed Minds in Fringe 2.7 ... Fringe 2.8: The Eternal Bald Observers ... Fringe 2.9: Walter's Journey ... Fringe 2.10: Walter's Brain, Harry Potter, and Flowers for Algernon ... New Fringe on Monday Night: In Alternate Universe? ... Fringe 2.12: Classic Science Fiction Chiante ... Fringe 2.13: "I Can't Let Peter Die Again" ... Fringe 2.14: Walter's Health, Books, and Father ... Fringe 2.15: I'll Take 'Manhatan' ... Fringe 2.16: Peter's Story ... Fringe 2.17: Will Olivia Tell Peter? ... Fringe 2.18: Strangeness on a Train ... Fringe 2.19: Two Plus Infinity ... Fringe the Noir Musical ... Fringe 2.21: Bring on the Alternates ... Fringe 2.22:  Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming ... Fringe Season 2 Finale: The Switch

See also reviews of Season One Fringe Begins ... Fringe 2 and 3: The Anthology Tightrope ... 4: The Eternal Bald Observer ... 7: A Bullet Can Scramble a Dead Brain's Transmission ... 8. Heroic Walter and Apple Through Steel ... 9. Razor-Tipped Butterflies of the Mind ... 10. Shattered Pieces Come Together Through Space and Times ... 11. A Traitor, a Crimimal, and a Lunatic ... 12, 13, 14: Fringe and Teleportation ... 15: Fringe is Back with Feral Child, Pheromones, and Bald Men ...17. Fringe in New York, with Oliva as Her Suspect ... 18. Heroes and Villains across Fringe ...Stephen King, Arthur C. Clarke, and Star Trek in Penultimate Fringe ... Fringe Alternate Reality Finale: Science Fiction At Its Best








"As a genre-bending blend of police procedural and science fiction, The Silk Code delivers on its promises." -- Gerald Jonas, The New York Times Book Review

"Daddy, this is the best book I've ever read!" -- Molly Vozick-Levinson, age 12 at the time

"cerebral but gripping" -- Booklist

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On Last Night's Obama Triumph in the Third Presidential Debate

And so the books are closed - or, better screens - on the third and final Presidential debate of 2012.  The President did poorly in the first debate, dominated in the second debate, and did even better in the third debate.

Romney offered little but weak agreement with Obama, and a customary stream of misleading statements and lies.   As in the second debate, Obama did well in challenging these statements, and urging people to go to the record for the truth.

A prime example last night concerned Romney's claim that he didn't want American car companies to fail, but rather wanted the government to shepherd them to health through a "managed bankruptcy".  When Obama correctly called Romney on that, indicating that Romney had never wanted any government money to go to car companies, Romney said Obama was misrepresenting his position.  Romney said people should "look up" what he in fact had written.  Obama said people would.

Here is the applicable sentence in Romney's "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" op-ed in the November 18, 2008 New York Times - the only sentence that talks about government financial guarantees:  "The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk."  Clearly, the "guarantees" that Romney is talking about are to consumers - car buyers, not car companies - to make sure "their warranties are not at risk".  Such guarantees offer no government assurances of post-bankruptcy support for the car companies.   Romney's idea was to let the car companies fail, but make sure consumers were not left holding the bag.   This was admirable regarding consumers, but Obama realized that consumers and the nation would be better served not by letting the car companies fail and then rebuilding them, but doing something to keep the car companies afloat long enough to recover.

And indeed, if we continue to the concluding sentence of the op-ed, we get Romney's summation of his argument: "In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check."  But, in fact, Obama's transfusion of funds, which allowed the car companies to meet their debts and remain viable, did not "seal their fate," and to the contrary served as a springboard to their becoming the most successful car companies in the world today.  Obama's "bailout check" has been totally repaid - literally and figuratively.

Obama bested Romney is just about every exchange last night. (Obama remains vulnerable to Romney's observations about what has not improved in the economy in the past four years, and will remain so until Republican obstruction in Congress is cited by the President).  In the nonverbal realm, Romney looked tired, pasty, out of his element, and far worse than Obama did in the first debate.  But will winning this third debate be enough to win the election in two weeks?   So far, Obama's success in the second debate has perhaps stopped the pace of Romney's surge, but has not put the President clearly back on top.

The election in two weeks should help answer the complex question of the impact of the debates, and well as the related and much more important question of who will be President for next four years.

See also On Last Night's Obama Disappointment in the First Presidential Debate and On Last Night's Biden Success in the VP Debate and On Last Night's Obama Triumph in the Second Presidential Debate

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dexter 7.4: The Lesson in Speltzer's Smoke

As I said in my review of the first three episodes of Dexter season 7, this may be the best season of Dexter, ever, and certainly the best since the last superb Dexter season - which would be the Trinity season.  It's so satisfying that Deb now knows.  Her struggle to come to terms with that knowledge, and Dexter's struggle to in turn deal with that, is story with Shakespearean potential.  And so far the season its living up to that.

Episode 7.4 can be considered an act in three parts, in the unfolding story of Debra and Dexter.

Act 1 finds Deb unaccepting of who Dexter is, an emotion which is strengthened by Deb's success in breaking Speltzer - getting him to confess - with a brilliant interrogation.  If the system works - if it can put monsters like Speltzer away - than you don't need a benevolent serial killer like Dexter to do job.  Riding on this wave, Deb even tells Dexter that Harrison is not safe with him.

Act 2 begins with Speltzer set free because the clumsy cops who arrested him didn't recite his Miranda rights in a way that indicated he understood them.  It's all on video.   The system may be not so reliable after all, and Deb is torn.  When she sees Speltzer lording it over on the sidelines after his latest victim's funeral, she almost loses it.  Later, she and Dexter talk about her feelings.  She's moved from being horrified by what Dexter does to being pro and con - she can see its value, but still can't accept that Dexter is a serial killer.  It's one of many especially superb scenes between Deb and Dexter this year - powerfully acted by Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall (formerly a couple in real life).   The conversation concludes with Dexter turning the tables on Deb - after assuring her that he hasn't changed, he'll always still be there for her, he wonders if she'll be there for him.  Her answer is ambiguous.

And that brings us to Act 3, in which Dexter gets the better of Speltzer and sends him on to his just desert in a crematorium.  Several things are different about this kill.   Not only is Speltzer incinerated, but Dexter includes his slide collection in the fire.  This is not the first time Dexter realized he'd be better off - less vulnerable - without his trophies.   But this time it could be different.  The slides are what gave Deb the most revulsion - brought her the realization that Dexter was not just a vigilante, but a true serial killer, who took pleasure in his kills to the point of keeping trophies.   When Dexter says goodbye to his "friends" - the slides - he's saying goodbye to the part of him that caused Deb the most pain, and put the most distance between them.

Deb doesn't know that Dexter did this.  But she picks Dexter up in her car, and Dexter points to the smoke rising above the crematorium, and tells her the smoke is Speltzer.  And when Dexter asks her how feels about Speltzer in that smoke - the smoke that Dexter made - Deb says she feels "glad".

This is a signal moment in Deb's coming to accept Dexter.  It will be crucial as this season's story unfolds, and Laguerta increasingly looks into the one slide that escaped fires.

See also Dexter Season 7.1-3: Sneak Preview Review

And see also Dexter Season 6 Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 6.4: Two Numbers and Two Killers Equals? ... Dexter 6.5 and 6.6: Decisive Sam ... Dexter 6.7: The State of Nebraska ... Dexter 6.8: Is Gellar Really Real? .... Dexter 6.9: And Gellar Is ... ... Dexter's Take on Videogames in 6.10 ...Dexter and Debra:  Dexter 6.11 ... Dexter Season 6 Finale: Through the Eyes of a Different Love

And see also Dexter Season Five Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 5.4: Dexter's Conscience ...Dexter 5.8 and Lumen ... Dexter 5.9: He's Getting Healthier ... Dexter 5.10: Monsters -Worse and Better ... Dexter 5.11: Sneak Preview with Spoilers  ... Dexter Season 5 Finale: Behind the Curtain

And see also
 Dexter Season 4: Sneak Preview Review ... The Family Man on Dexter 4.5 ...Dexter on the Couch in 4.6 ... Dexter 4.7: 'He Can't Kill Bambi' ... Dexter 4.8: Great Mistakes ...4.9: Trinity's Surprising Daughter ... 4.10: More than Trinity ... 4.11: The "Soulless, Anti-Family Schmuck" ... 4.12: Revenges and Recapitulations

See also reviews of Season 3Season's Happy Endings? ... Double Surprise ... Psychotic Law vs. Sociopath Science ... The Bright, Elusive Butterfly of Dexter ... The True Nature of Miguel ...Si Se Puede on Dexter ... and Dexter 3: Sneak Preview Review

Reviews of Season 2Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 7. Best Line About Dexter - from Lila and 8. How Will Dexter Get Out of This? and The Plot Gets Tighter and Sharper and Dex, Doakes, and Harry and Deb's Belief Saves Dex and All's ... Well

See also about Season 1First Place to Dexter 




"As a genre-bending blend of police procedural and science fiction, The Silk Code delivers on its promises." -- Gerald Jonas, The New York Times Book Review
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