Klavan on Journalists Risking “All” . . .

I have to agree with Andrew Klavan. Journalists need to get a grip and give more time to what’s happening in Isreal and Venezuela and stop giving so much time on the Mueller Report that anyone can read here.

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot stars Tina Fey as Kim, a broadcaster who half-heartedly volunteers to go to Afghanistan on assignment. Fey’s character leads a nice, but ho hum life in New York with a steady boyfriend (Josh Charles) and a steady, unchallenging job just reading news. Once in Afghanistan, she realizes she’s way over her head. She eventually adapts to life during wartime.

While away, she discovers her boyfriend is cheating so she’s free to take up with Martin Freeman’s politically incorrect, usually philandering, war-savvy character, who’s a photo journalist.

I felt the first half of the movie drags and contains a lot of obvious jokes and clichéd situations about culture, but it’s worth watching on DVD or on a plane where you can watch half, take a break and watch the second half. Tina Fey does a fine job as does Martin Freeman and Josh Charles. The reason to watch is to see what sacrifices people make during this war that too many of us forget and to see what has gone on in Afghanistan.

 

Brian Williams Fiasco

Driving around yesterday I heard Chris Fabry Live’s show when he took on the Brian Williams issue. Williams said on air that he was in a helicopter that took fire when actually he wasn’t. All hell’s broken loose as we know and Williams was suspended for six months without pay.

Fabry asked callers what they thought should happen. Some thought he should be fired–period. Fabry kept mentioning that we’ve all embellished and misremembered. Again many pointed out that we just don’t misremember being shot at or targeted. True enough.

I don’t know Williams so I’m not sure whether he’s a good guy, an arrogant guy or what. I do believe in forgiveness, but don’t think everyone’s entitled to keeping a highly paid dream job. I doubt whatever happens to Williams he’ll become destitute. He’s probably got a book contract and will have six months to write a book.

Still I’m sure he’s chastened, humiliated and hurting.

If I ran NBC, I’d query the public on this. Let the people decide. I’d cross check William’s stories. And if this lapse was the only one, I’d put a poll on the NBC website and ask people to write in. If the audience thinks, they can rebuild trust with Williams. So be it. We’ll see him back on the air in mid-August. Television is driven by ratings anyway. If they let him back on the air, but his ratings fell, they’d yank him off. This idea makes it clear to the audience that NBC is listening.

The Harbor by Ernest Poole

harbor

Ernest Poole’s The Harbor is tied for the most exciting book I’ve read this year (with The Count of Monte Cristo). Written in 1915, The Harbor tells the story of New York’s harbor from the late 19th century till WWI through the eyes of Bill, whose father has a lucrative business. The Harbor gripped me from page one when seven year old Bill shares how he hates the harbor. Though crude to a sheltered rich boy, this harbor is filled with sailing ships, exotic foreigners, spices, silks, and riches. Yeah, there’s plenty of spitting and cursing and the odd fist fight as Bill learns when he meets a Dickensian boy, Sam who’s something of a “harbor-urchin” leading a back of wildish boys who scare and fascinate Bill. He’s never the same after meeting Sam. The rich kids in their starched shirts with their gentle games lose whatever charm they had.

We follow Bill from his often adventurous childhood through college when he meets Joe Kramer, a worldly politically active man, whose family became destitute after his father unknowingly gave tainted medicine to children with small pox. Though the fault was with the drug company, Dr. Kramer and his family were driven out of town and had to move from town to town as rumors caught them. Joe is full of the straight dope. He sees through society’s shams and thinks most of college is a “tour through the graveyard.” Joe comes and goes always making Bill and his sister Sue question their views and life.

The Harbor has the tone of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, that vivid, robust tone from the turn of the century. Poole’s not as polemic or biased as Upton Sinclair (whom I do like). The middle class and upper class views are presented honestly. It was amazing and sad to see how work and life on the harbor got harder when sailing ships were replaced by bigger steel ships.

Poole was the first writer to get a Pulitzer Prize, which he got for his second novel, The Family. From what I’ve read The Harbor‘s the better book and the new prize wanted the author of The Harbor to get credit for the fine writing in that book.

I’ve got that joy of discovering a new favorite writer whose every book I want to read. I’ll get to The Family after I finish his Giants Gone about “the men who made Chicago,” which I’m getting from the library this morning.

Ups and Downs

The Avengers #200 (Oct. 1980). Cover art by Ge...

The Avengers #200 (Oct. 1980). Cover art by George Pérez and Terry Austin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

REBLOGGING this: Chen Ups and Downs.

This story’s bigger than I expected. Here I sit in a kind of bubble, the bubble of an outsider who doesn’t speak the language and lives in a place where openly discussing hot topics isn’t done as far as I can see.

My second year students are doing a news project where they have to put together a short group newscast on Monday’s and Fridays. When a colleague who teaches business lamented over students not reading or knowing anything about the news, I thought I could help with that, thus the group reports. Yet most of the stories are so innocuous. The students must include national and international news, but they have a different take on what’s important. Yesterday we heard about the Sino-Russian military exercises which were significant, buying cars (it’s hardly news that Chinese people want to buy cars, but the student who did that project so rarely comes to class that I was surprised he did anything), the release of The Avengers, an interesting story on how the overuse of ground water is causing buildings to sink in China, and a recap of the London Book Fair, which had a China theme.  I’d say two of the stories were far more lightweight than I hoped. And I’d be dumbstruck and unnerved if anyone did a controversial story, but it is so weird how different the foreign and Sino news reports have been lately.