Tag Archives: programs

A seasoned film critic eyes TV’s biography

At 75, David Thomson is the sultan of cinema criticism. British-born but long based in America, he is the author of nearly two dozen film-related books including “Moments that Made the Movies,” “’Have You Seen…?’: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films” and “The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.”

Now Thomson has switched his gaze, and his analysis, to the TV medium.

In “Television: A Biography” (Thames & Hudson, $34.95), David Thomson focuses on TV from its individual genres to its broad social impact during the past 70 years. As ever, his writing is bright, puckish and reader-friendly.

At 400 pages, the book is a bit weighty, but not the prose.

But what made Thomson, who had never before put his take on TV between covers, decide to change channels? During a recent interview, he explained.

“I was at a point where I felt that the movies were not really going anywhere very exciting, and that if you were looking for the best American movies, you probably needed to look at television. ‘The Wire,’ ‘The Sopranos,’ ‘Breaking Bad’ — they were so much more ambitious than anything made for theaters.

So I began to develop an historical perspective on TV that I had had on the movies for a long time. I’m much more interested now in thinking about and writing about TV than the movies.”


“You may have watched a lot of TV but never thought systematically about it. I wanted to do a book which would give you a sense that the totality of the medium had been addressed. Not covered, but addressed. And if you have never watched television, after you read this book I think you can say, ‘I understand what television is.””


“Our relationship with TV is different than with almost any medium we’ve had before. It’s all well and good for something on TV to be so riveting that you don’t want to miss a moment. But when you tune in to watch one show, you may end up just watching TV overall. There’s such a lot on television that is sort of tidal — it just washes in and out, over you. You turn it on like you would turn on a light, and you may be doing other things. But even if you’re not watching, it enters into you in ambient ways.”


Thomson, film’s consummate list-maker, shared “off the top of my head” a few pick TV hits:

“Monty Python’s Flying Circus” … the BBC version of “The Singing Detective” … live coverage of the funeral of President John F. Kennedy … “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” … “a couple of episodes of ‘All in the Family’ where Edith is just sublime” … the ESPN documentary series “O.J.: Made in America,” which he calls “a major work” … and, of course, “Breaking Bad.”

“But this time tomorrow,” he cautions, “I would revise the whole list.”


“With Donald Trump in the White House, I think we’re going to get more of the same as with the campaign: His administration will have to be judged as an ongoing TV show. He is a television person, so I think it’s going to be a presidency of shows and moments. My instinct is, in terms of policy, he’s doing to be dreadfully disappointing to his supporters. But on TV, I think it’s going to be amazing _ until it becomes grotesque.”


“We watch stories and stars, but it’s more and more evident that, as TV viewers, we go where the technology takes us. My sense of television is that technology has always driven the whole thing, and I think that will continue. I think more sophisticated, interesting fusions of what we still call television with the computer are going to occur. That will be more important than any sort of new genre or new narrative form in entertainment. And I see the end of the movie house. But it’s inevitable that a cellphone will be built into our hands. So maybe a screen could be implanted in our heads. I think that will happen!”


Wisconsin faces nearly $700 million budget hole

Gov. Scott Walker says the state is on track to face a nearly $700 million budget shortfall by mid-2019.

The estimate from the state Department of Administration is the first to take into account spending requests made by state agencies for the next two years.

The $693 million gap is about 2 percent of what state agencies requested in funding and is far from the $2.2 billion gap that existed at this same point two years ago.

State law requires a balanced budget.

What comes next is the every-two-year push and pull between what state agencies say they need, what the governor proposed they get and what the Legislature ultimately passes.

The drama plays out in stages.

Walker will likely submit his budget, with scaled back funding from what agencies asked for, in February.

The Legislature, where the Republicans will have their largest majorities in decades, will then spend months rewriting the spending plan before passing it likely in June.

Walker can then move things back closer to what he wanted through his powerful veto authority.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald declined to weigh in on the report’s findings. His spokeswoman, Myranda Tanck, said Fitzgerald would withhold comment until after he could review Walker’s budget proposal in a couple months.

Other legislative leaders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The state budget affects nearly every person’s life in the state, including how much gas costs, when hunting season begins and ends, eligibility for state-funded health insurance through Medicaid, and how much income, sales and property should be taxed.

Writing the budget could also be affected by changes coming out of Washington, with Republicans in full control of Congress working with Donald Trump as president.

Their promises to either repeal or replace large portions of the federal health care law and move toward different ways of sending money to the states for such things as Medicaid and highways could alter Wisconsin’s budget picture.

Walker and Republicans both in the state and nationally, have talked about moving toward block grant funding for the states that would give policy makers more flexibility but that Democrats and opponents fear could lead to less money going toward programs like Medicaid that help the poor and disadvantaged.

The state budget estimate for the next two years will be further refined in January when the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau releases likely figures for state tax revenue in the next two years.

The next state budget will run from July 1 through June 30, 2019.

Milwaukee residents invited to vote on future water initiatives

Milwaukee Water Commons and artist-in-residence Melanie Ariens will lead Milwaukee’s participation in the national Dare to Imagine Campaign for a full week, beginning on Oct. 10.

Milwaukee residents will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite future water initiatives at five events featuring the organization’s mobile inspiration station, the WaterCycle. MWC is inviting everyday Milwaukeeans to imagine and help shape Milwaukee’s future as a water city. Ballots cast will help determine which of a series of initiatives related to water MWC and its partner organizations will prioritize and build public momentum toward accomplishing.

In addition to voting, visitors to the WaterCycle will also have the opportunity to participate in water-themed art and have their photo taken with a statement about their favorite initiative.  

Weather permitting, the WaterCycle can be found at the following locations:

• Oct. 10: ReFlo Waterfest, 10am-12pm, The Guest House, 1216 N. 13th St.

• Oct. 10: Shorewood Fish and Feather, 1-4pm, Hubbard Park Lodge, 3565 N. Morris Blvd.

• Oct. 13:  Popping up near Colectivo, 11am-1pm, 2211 N. Prospect Ave.

• Oct. 14: with Wisconsin Green Muslims – 4-6:30 p.m., Location TBA

• Oct. 17: Milwaukee Public Market Harvest Festival, 11am-4pm, 400 N. Water Street 

“We are most proud of the work we’ve done to activate new and growing involvement in a bold, visionary conversation about our city’s water future,” said Alexa Bradley, co-executive director of Milwaukee Water Commons. “Recognizing our water as a commons is giving people hope that we can create change together, heal some of our city’s divides, and discover a collective capacity for revival and innovation. We are building toward change, toward being a true water city.”

Milwaukee Water Commons is a cross-city network that fosters connection, collaboration and broad community leadership on behalf of our waters.  We promote stewardship of, equitable access to and shared decision-making for our common waters. 

The Dare to Imagine campaign is a national movement led by the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, which is not an official government agency but rather a people-powered movement dedicated to cultivating empathy, equity and social imagination.

For more information, go to www.milwaukeewatercommons.org facebook.com/milwaukeewatercommons, http://usdac.us/dare-to-imagine/ or connect on Twitter #DareToImagine @USArtsDept or Facebook at facebook.com/usdac.us.

Ending trans exclusions in Dane County health care coverage

Transgender* people face major barriers to proper health care in Dane County. Estimates suggest that 0.3 percent of the population is transgender, and many will seek some form of medical care for gender transition, such as hormone therapy or gender confirming surgery.

This care is essential to our health and well-being and insurance coverage for it has been proven not to increase overall costs or premiums.

Yet nearly all of Dane County’s local insurance providers have “trans exclusion” policies, denying transgender patients otherwise standard medical care if the person is using it for gender transition. For example, a cisgender (non-transgender) woman can get hormone medication during menopause, but a transgender woman needing this medication for transition will be denied, specifically because she is transgender.

“Trans exclusion” policies are discriminatory by definition, even though gender identity is a protected class in Dane County and the city of Madison. Transgender people already face disproportionately higher rates of discrimination, assault, suicide attempts, HIV infection, and other health and safety issues. Being denied transition care only exacerbates this problem. Without it, we are even more vulnerable to discrimination, face a dangerous decline in our mental health, and may resort to unsafe substitutions for proper transition care. This discrimination has a serious negative impact on our life chances. We need health care justice now.

Dane County can help change this situation, and has a duty to take action. In addition to being a public health and safety issue, this is also a pressing matter of equity. In solving it, Dane County will join the first wave of states, federal programs, and local municipalities that are ruling in favor of trans-inclusive health care policies. Currently, local insurance providers do not even offer plans that include transition care. As a major employer, Dane County can directly change the market by asking insurance companies to create plans that do. Numerous studies show that this is highly cost-effective, with minimal charges to employers. The need for transition care within a given population is fairly low (though critical for those who need it) and so is the cost of transition care, relative to more common medical needs. Employers who cover transition care have had so small an increase in extra costs that their premiums didn’t change at all.

Our ultimate goal is universal health care for all people. Dane County can and should lead the way closer to this goal, by addressing one of the most obvious forms of health care discrimination: Trans-exclusion policies in health insurance plans.

We are asking that the County contract for an insurance plan that removes exclusions and covers “gender-confirming” surgery (also called “sexual reassignment” surgery), hormone therapy, and all other trans health needs.

*Transgender is an umbrella term for people who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.


Gabe Javier, Director UW Madison LGBT Campus Center

Anders Zanichkowsky, community advocate

Z! Haukeness, community advocate

Nyle Biondi, LMFT

Alex Hanna, PhD candidate, UW Madison Sociology Department

The Wisconsin Gazette welcomes opinions and letters. Email lweisberg@www.wisconsingazette.com or lmneff@www.wisconsingazette.com.

Carthage College hosts 3rd annual Diversity Summit

Carthage College, 2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha, is hosting its third annual Diversity Summit, with a series of activities and speakers focusing on the theme of religious tolerance.

The events are free to attend and open to the public. 

The schedule includes:

Tuesday, March 3, Charles Camosy discussing “Can Religion Contribute to Civil Discourse in an Era of Polarization?” at 7 p.m. at A. F. Siebert Chapel.Camosy teaches Christian ethics at Fordham University in New York. He attempts to dial down polarization and to fruitfully engage difficult issues like abortion, euthanasia, treatment of animals and health care distribution.

Thursday, March 5, Serve2Unite: Pardeep Kaleka and Arno Michaelis, at 7 p.m. at Campbell Student Union. Two men from vastly different backgrounds work together to promote peace through the organization Serve2Unite. Arno Michaelis was a founding member of what became the largest racist skinhead organization in the world and the lead singer of a hate-metal band. His love for his daughter and the forgiveness shown by those he once hated helped him to change and write “My Life After Hate.” Pardeep Kaleka is the oldest son of Satwant Singh Kaleka, who was president of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin when he was killed Aug. 5, 2012. A teacher and former Milwaukee police officer in the inner city, Pardeep Kaleka is no stranger to the battle against racism, bigotry, and ignorance.

Tuesday, March 17, Rachel Greenblatt discussing “To Tell Their Children: Jewish Communal Memory in Early Modern Prague,” at 6 p.m. at Niemann Media Theater (Hedberg Library). Greenblatt is an external residential fellow at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute and a lecturer in Jewish Studies at the Harvard Divinity School.

Wednesday, March 18, Rabbi Irwin Kula discussing “Beyond Tolerance: The Indeterminacy of Truth and the Too Muchness of Our Identities” at 7 p.m. at Todd Wehr Center Room 128C. Kula uses Jewish wisdom to speak to all aspects of modern life and relationships. He consulted with government officials in Rwanda, helped build cultural and interfaith bridges in Qatar, and met with leaders as diverse as the Dalai Lama and Queen Noor to discuss compassionate leadership. Across the United States, he works with religious, business, and community leaders to promote leadership development and institutional change. He co-wrote “Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life.”

Carthage is a four-year, private liberal arts college with roots in the Lutheran tradition, the campus has a prime location in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The campus, an 80-acre arboretum on the shore of Lake Michigan, is home to 150 scholars, 2,600 full-time students, and 400 part-time students.

On the Web …


State Dept. weighing LGBT support in grant applications

The U.S. State Department has announced that as it evaluates grant applications and proposals it will weigh potential impact on women and minority populations, including LGBT people.

The State Department’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor will require that program applications “address the human rights concerns of these groups.”

Also, a March 15 announcement said, the bureau will assign weighted criteria to how proposals support and empower women, racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, persons with disabilities and LGBT people.

The announcement came several months after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a landmark UN speech saying that gay rights are human rights.

Clinton received a standing ovation in Geneva in December after delivering the 30-minute address.

She said: “It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave.  It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished.  It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay.  No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.”

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