Blogs > Frye on the News

Keeping his eye on the news and offering commentaries and insights on what is happening in Oakland County, around the world, on the tube and in the news.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not again...

Oh, there are some stories I can do without.
I'm not talking about the horror of hearing about death or flooding,
but of stories that drag on and on, bringing forth a slew of talking
heads spouting animated opinions.
And with that comes the repeated file footage video shots of Don Imus
and his peculiar head of hair, walking from buildings into cars or
sitting behind a microphone. Sometimes, there's a cowboy hat, too.
This time, Imus has landed in hot water for a racially charged
comment made while talking sports on his radio show. Hmmm, seems as
if you have come back from a near career-ending racially charged
comment while talking about sports last year on CBS Radio and MSNBC
television, you might approach such topics with care.
But what he said Monday does not show the necessary care given to
speech by someone who talks for a living.
And it sounds like what he said, based on the quotes given by The
Associated Press and CNN, was stepping a toe over a line no one — let
alone someone lucky to be working — should approach.
He asked his co-host "what color is he?" when talking about "Pacman"
Jones' various legal problems. "There you go. Now we know," Imus said
when told Jones is African American.
Today, Imus said that he was expressing solidarity with Jones,
saying, "There's no reason to arrest this kid six times," The AP
Oh, now Imus is standing up for a man who has been suspended for a
season due to his numerous arrests and brushes with the law. What
does he know about that? Just because someone has been arrested six
times, he is being picked on.
This line of thinking is more offensive, especially because it seems
like Imus is covering his tail.
Worst of all, for me, will be the repeated stories and cable news
discussions on this issue, making me glad I've got the last half
dozen episodes of "Lost" DVR'd and awaiting my watching. Or perhaps,
I'll watch the latest "Masterpiece" mystery from PBS, again DVR'd.
I'll be staying away from Imus and the shout-fests, for sure.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Box office battle could be interesting

The NBA Finals are almost done, pending a late Laker miracle.
The Red Wings put a Penguin uprising to rest with a strong Game Six
Hillary finally accepted reality and bowed to the Obama storm,
leading to a lull before the late-summer and autumn showdown between
John McCain and the Illinois Democrat.
Now comes what may prove to be an interesting showdown between two
major Hollywood figures — Marvel comics versus the genius behind "The
Sixth Sense" and "Signs."
The build up has started this past week, particularly during the
before-mentioned Celtics-Lakers shootout, as a wave of movie
advertising entices potential viewers to two movies that could flop
or battle for summer supremacy.
Marvel Entertainment has put its money up, financing two movies this
summer. First, "Iron Man," with newly minted A-lister Robert Downing
Jr. and a first-run film superhero, surprised critics and box office
analysts with a strong showing. "Iron Man" has been a success,
earning nearly $300,000,000 in the U.S. and another $250,000,000
abroad, according to It crushed "Speed Racer,"
which was assumed success because it came from the minds behind "The
Matrix" and was remake of a popular 70s children's show.
Now comes a battle that is up in the air.
Marvel returns the "Hulk" to the screen, only five years removed from
a major Hollywood flop when director Ang Lee's vision for the popular
comic fell flat with critics and viewers alike. It's a risk dragging
this out again so soon, considering it cost $137 million in 2003 and
brought in $132 million in the U.S, reports.
But it's top opponent, "The Happening," is another uncertain venture.
It comes from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, whose 2006 labor of
love, "Lady in the Water," likewise fell flat, earning only $42
million in the U.S. and achieving only $73 million worldwide, barely
recovering production costs, again according to
While the superhero movie is the expected winner this opening
weekend, will it be a success by the end of summer?
Will M. Night avoid another flop or have a strong build-up with "The
Or, will Indiana Jones continue to avoid pitfalls and find more
treasure and the four ladies talk more sex in the city?
Both "The Happening" and "The Incredible Hulk" have been running
significant ad campaigns. My guess, Marvel's gamble pays off and its
inaugural summer of self-financing proves a success.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sudoku mistrial?

Yes, it really happened.
In Australia, The Associated Press reported in a story posted on our
site's Courts and Cops section on Tuesday, a judge ceased a lengthy
drug trial after it turned out that several jurors were playing
Sudoku during testimony.
The trial had been going for 66 days and had cost an estimated
$950,000 to conduct, but it has to be restarted because the judge
felt the jurors could not be fair as they may have missed crucial
Too bad, but it is human nature to let the mind wander. Jurors, it is
thought by some, have an easy job because all they do is sit and
listen and then decide. The prosecutors and defense attorneys have
the difficult job because they have to prove or convince the jury of
However, I have to say that sitting and listening can be plenty tough
because trials and evidence sometimes just go on and on and on. I
covered the courts for four years, and many times during lengthy
trials you knew generally what the evidence was and knew what was
going to be said. But technically, the medical examiner has to
explain everything about the autopsy, even though the violent nature
of the death was not questioned.
In this trial in Australia, the judge should have noticed what the
jurors were doing before it reached this length of time. He had
assumed they were taking notes, but he finally questioned that
because some of the note-taking was vertical and not horizontal.
But the prosecutors also should have broken up the presentation of
the evidence enough to give the jurors a chance to digest it and move
on. Going on and on seemingly non-stop can make concentration difficult.
I have on occasion done a Sudoku in court, having brought our paper
to read while spending the day at the courthouse. Mostly, it was done
during hearings, when I waited through other cases for the one I was
covering to start. But if I'm writing a story about a trial, I can
only use the most interesting witnesses and there are witnesses I
know would not make it into the story. So I listened patiently but
let my mind wander.
Now, I know jurors are supposed to consider all the evidence
carefully, not planning for a story where the most interesting or
dramatic evidence is considered. But in the jury room, they
prioritize the evidence. They'll weigh the physical evidence against
the alibi, for instance. All the evidence about the nature of the
drug business and the chemical analysis of what was found will be
hardly mentioned.
Sometimes, complicated trials require lengthy testimony from many
witnesses. But the ones putting on the trial owe it to themselves to
consider the jurors' mindsets. Lawyers can get too caught up in
providing everything possible, forgetting that overwhelming the jury
could backfire and lead to jurors believing that there's no case
because they're trying to hard.
And learning that jurors are doing Sudoko? Maybe the judge and
prosecutor should have wondered what jurors were thinking sometime
around Day 60 — if not Day 20. It's bad enough to yank them from
their lives for months, but it is too much to demand 100 percent
concentration for that entire time.
Boring is boring, and a 'crucial' embezzlement trial is 'boring.' Too
bad, but human nature cannot be forgotten.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tough night for Mike

It was a tough night for Mike Ilitch and his sports empire.
Despite the Tigers now being considered one of the major players in
the baseball free agent market, the team has struggled this year.
Even the hosts of ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" lumped the Tigers
in with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox when it comes to
paying for good players.
But the Tigers' under-performance could have been forgiven, even
given a pass of a year, if the Red Wings took home the Stanley Cup.
With just over 30 seconds left in the game, a half minute away from
winning its third championship since the team's rebirth, the
Penguins struck and sent the game into overtime.
Instead of a late night victory at home and after-hours celebration
with the fabled trophy, the Red Wings were sent to their locker room
with only a 3-2 series lead and a trip to Pittsburgh.
About the same time, the Tigers were letting yet another game slip
away, falling to eight games under .500 and six games out of first
A Stanley Cup melt down will not help the architects of the Tigers