It Runs In the Family

President Bush has been harshly criticized for the government’s inadequate response to Katrina.  He just didn’t seem to get how extreme this crisis really was. Now we know why. Here’s what his mother, Barbara Bush, had to say about the victims:

Barbara Bush, who accompanied the former presidents on a
tour of the Astrodome complex Monday, said the relocation to Houston is "working
very well" for some of the poor people forced out of New Orleans.

"What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want
to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality," she said
during a radio interview with the American Public Media program "Marketplace."
"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged
anyway, so this is working very well for them."

It’s "scary" that the survivors want to stay in Texas? The fact that they lost loved ones, their homes, their possessions and their jobs in a flood of sewage is "working well for them?" My God.

Les is More

There was an interesting interview with CBS chief Les Moonves in the Sunday NYT. In explaining why he canceled JOAN OF ARCADIA, he revealed his take on what audiences want from a story.

On this particular Thursday, at 11 a.m., Moonves was considering which of the
network’s current shows to cancel in order to make room for new programs. He had
decided to take a once-promising show called ”Joan of Arcadia” off the air.
The show was about a teenager who receives directives and advice straight from
God. ”In the beginning, it was a fresh idea and uplifting, and the plot lines
were engaging,” Moonves said, sounding a little sad and frustrated. ”But the
show got too dark. I understand why creative people like dark, but American
audiences don’t like dark. They like story. They do not respond to nervous
breakdowns and unhappy episodes that lead nowhere. They like their characters to
be a part of the action. They like strength, not weakness, a chance to work out
any dilemma. This is a country built on optimism.”

The last point strikes home with me. We like heroes who move the story along…and, ideally, there should actually be a story to move along. That means a story with a beginning, middle and end with clear stakes for the characters.  The characters shouldn’t be caught up in events, reacting to what happens, they should be driving what happens through their own actions. That’s good story-telling, plain and simple.

Moonves has constructed a Bush-like universe (without the politics): in his
dramas, there is a continuing battle for order and justice, the team works
together and a headstrong boss leads the way.  Producers looking to sell shows to CBS either comply with this point of view
or take their shows elsewhere.

Curiously, most of CBS’s successful dramas — the three ”C.S.I.” shows,
”Without a Trace” and many of the new about-to-be-discussed drama pilots —
revolve around a group of specially trained professionals who work in unison and
are headed by a dynamic, attractive middle-aged man. These prime-time-TV teams
— much like Moonves’s own — are determined and work-obsessed. They seem to
think of their office as an extended family while, together, they solve crimes.

In a way, it’s an old-fashioned model, harkening back to hits like HAWAII FIVE-O and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, but with a new spin (reminds me of how NBC touted LAW AND ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT as ground-breaking show because we’d also see things from the bad guy’s pov…I guess no one at NBC had ever seen BARNABY JONES or STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO). Speaking of taking cues from the past,  Moonves’ plans for revamping the news division sound like he’s channeling Fred Silverman.

Read more

Mark on Mark

Mark Baker, a regular visitor/commentor on this blog, posted a reader review of DIAGNOSIS MURDER: THE PAST TENSE on Amazon, where he’s a "top 500 reviewer."  Harriet Klausner better start looking over her shoulder. His review reads, in part:

This book is ingenious. About half of it is set in the past and
half set in the present. Really, you get two mysteries for the price of
one as we watch Mark solve both cases. Yet they interact in a way I
never saw coming…

…These books are fast becoming one of my favorite series around. If
you were a fan of the show, you owe it to yourself to pick up this
great continuation. Even if you’ve never seen the series, the plots
will pull you in and make you start looking for the reruns. Is the next
one out yet?

Thanks, Mark, for the great review and for the DIAGNOSIS MURDER  NOVELS list you’ve compiled on Amazon.

The Historian

Over the labor day weekend, I read Elizabeth Kostova’s THE HISTORIAN. Never has Dracula been so dull. It’s a ponderous snooze. The book has been compared to THE DAVINCI CODE  and for good reason. Like DAVINCI, it’s also a series of lectures and speeches, devoid of character. But what DAVINCI had that the HISTORIAN doesn’t is a terrific plot and an utterly compelling mystery that pulls you through the long passages of exposition and history lessons. There’s nothing compelling about THE HISTORIAN.  It’s a six hundred page endurance test leading up to a climax that’s so
flat you might miss it during one of the catnaps you’ll inevitably slip
into while reading. If you’re still curious about this doorstop of a book, have a friend hit you over the head with  it. In those moments of unconsciousness,  you will have the same experience as reading it only with more enjoyment and less lost time.

Andie’s New Breasts

Amacdowell_implantsThe Superficial has noticed Andie McDowell’s new breasts:

Remember when Andie MacDowell was in movies and famous? Yeah, me neither, but
sometime in between then and now she got breast implants, which makes about as
much sense as Arnold Schwarzenegger taking up weight lifting at the tender age
of 58 to compete in the next Mr. Olympia competition.

Procedural Checklist

Greg Braxton of the LA Times shares his funny, and stingingly accurate, ten-step formula for the typical TV police procedural.

2. The ‘What d’ya got’ scene

The star investigators must
arrive at a crime scene walking at a regular pace or in slow motion. Dark trench
coats are a must, and the stars should look properly stern and speak cryptically
out of the sides of their mouths when asking officers at the scene, "Who’s the
stiff?" Detectives should possess a background in comedy or philosophy: Nothing
kicks off a murder investigation or leads into the first commercial like words
of wisdom or a morbid one-liner such as, "Dinner really did cost him an
arm and a leg."

The list goes on. But Greg left a couple of things out:

1 ) the hero’s  obligatory dead wife (an updating of what was "the obligatory estranged wife").

2) the hero’s  or co-star’s  struggle with an  addiction (gambling, alcoholism, etc.)

3) one lead character eats healthy, the other loves junk food.

4) the irascible boss.

The Things We Carry

Pl09I’m sure you can relate to this story from WakingVixen. It happens to everybody eventually.

"After the London bombings and while I was in Amsterdam, I remember getting
word that as of late July, packages and bags were subject to search in certain
NYC subway stations. If you didn’t want to get searched, you best find other
transportation – or a subway station without bag-searching cops. Not a
particularly fool proof system.

Yesterday, the bag search finally happened to me. As luck would have it, I
was carrying a bag full of dildos, butt plugs, lube, condoms, a strap on harness
and spiky high heels. I got pulled aside and the cop asked me to open my (black!
suspicious!) bag. I obliged, and the collection of silicone toys was right on
top, with a stiletto poking straight up in the air. The cop didn’t even bat an
eye, just nodded and waved me through the turnstile. Ah, jaded New York, how I
love you."

This is why when I travel I either leave my butt plugs at home or wear them.