Manh(A)ttan | 13-Part Docu-Drama on How the Bomb was Built (with Nuclear-Grade Motivation)

» I just noticed that a new mini-series premieres tonight » Manh(A)ttan. Subttled » Nuclear. Family. The (A) in Manh(A)ttan seems to stand for » Atomic. Or perhaps it is just an arrow .. pointing in the direction of the mushroom cloud.

Manh(A)ttan. Nuclear. Family.I have only seen the trailer so far ..

.. but it reminds me very much of the book I read (listened to audiobook) titled » American Prometheus.

And about the entry I made (.. two years ago).

It can be fun to go back and re-read something I wrote years ago.

While I was reading the entry I wrote on Oppenheimer, I said to myself » "Dude, this is good shit. You sound smarter than shit here."

I am very excited about this new (13-part) mini-series. (Boner city. You know how geeks are.)

The story, I recall, was so vast and sweeping and it came with such forever-world-changing consequences ..

.. that I can see how you might need 13 episodes to do it justice.

WGN is Chicago .. same city where the Rad server is physically located (mid-country, between the two coasts).

Their website is » WGN America. USA Today did a first-look at the cast.

This is a big story. The story about the » building of the bomb.

Big, big, BIG. If the filmmakers can pull it off, that would be a major accomplishment. Something to be proud of. "Very much so," as Colonel Willard would say.

Lots of valuable lessons contained there in study how the bomb was built. So many interesting patterns to match.

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••• today's entry continues here below •••

Okay, WGN is not like Frontline (WGBH), where you can watch shows online. With WGN, you can only watch on TV. In other words, consult your local programming.

It seems that you can watch these episodes online at Hulu .. I may check that out when I have time. (It works great, tho again, lots of commercials.)

Manhattan on WGN is the BombUpdate » I saw the first episode.

The story does not revolve around Oppenheimer, like the book does. So the mini-series is not a documentary of the book.

Rather they take the spirit of the story and group several real characters into one made-up for the series. So you might call this a docu-drama.

In episode one, you only see Oppenheimer for a few minutes (in a car). So I was excited to finally meet Oppenheimer .. having enjoyed the book so much.

Who, in the fisrt episode, they portray as something of an arrogant distant weirdo. And the worst kind of asshole » a stupid asshole.

I liked the way they fictionalized back story to bring out the real-life blood, sweat, and tears that occurred there at Los Alamos. The episode was 1 hour. Beyond the tons of commercials, I enjoyed it. Very much.

Thanks to Wikipedia, I am seeing that » different people wrote different episodes. And different people are also directing these episodes.

To be honest, I was not aware that you could craft a multi-part series in such a way.

But why not? Right?

This method, I would imigine would lead to each segment being different from one another .. more than if you used the same creative team. Seems obvious, no?

I wonder if they also use different cinematographers.

Rollingstone calls Manhattan » One of the summer's best shows

Update August 19 » Seems that the folks at Rollingstone like it, too .. calling Manhattan » "one of the summer's best shows."

I have now seen the first 4 episodes. The mini-series is far more edgy than I imagined. And yes, I like edgy. But I caught myself saying "Wow" more than once (particularly in episode 4). Once I even put my hands to my head and said, "Holy moly." [ as in » i find it hard to believe what i just saw and heard. ]

These actors are portraying super-intelligent people .. the best minds that the nation had to offer .. so, naturally, you would expect them to be engaged in dialog that is non-trivial.

The following quote is not an example of the edginess of which I am referring to .. but it stuck with me long after the show concluded. It comes when Akley, the civilian guy who is running the show there at Los Alamos, says to Charlie Isaacs, who is probably the smartest kid working there »

Boss Dr. Akley motivates Charlie Isaacs[ Boss-Akley to Young-Charlie » "You've probably been surrounded all your life by people who werent smart enough to realize how smart you really are. Well, I do. You're a once-in-a-generation mind." ]

Akley then goes on to tell young-Charlie how it is really (Werner) Heisenburg in Germany who he is really competeing with. [ to be the first to build the bomb ]

Parental Motivation or » Substituting 'Thing$' for Genuine Love

When I was in high school, my dad said » "If you become Valedictorian, we [ your mom and I ] will buy you a Honda motorcycle."

Time after time, I could see that my folks didnt understand me. They didnt 'get' me. (Me, their own son.) Because they were trying to motivate me using methods that I found off-putting. Almost insulting and often counter-motivational. Certainly disappointing.

It he would have really known me or cared to learn about what I really liked and valued, then he would've known that I didnt even like Hondas. But this is another story.

In high school, I got a job pumping gas at a Getty station and bought my own dang motorcycle (a Kawasaki) with money I had (easily) earned myself.

Much later, as I got into management, I began to learn about » motivation. And I wished that my (provincial) parents had learned a little about how to motivated me.

Because I could see that they were trying to "motivate" me by using things ($$$) that motivated THEM .. which is certainly understandable, but which did nothing to motivate me.

Charlie Isaacs | A Once-in-a-Generation MindThis is a BIG topic .. about which I could write much.

But suffice to say that Akley's motivational speech to Charlie Isaacs would have worked well to motivated me.

I would have felt like somebody finally understood me.

But since money was all that my dad seemed to care about .. it should not be surprising that everything that he considered motivational always translated into dollars and cents ..

.. which is a technique that fine for an employer to employ. But you hope that your parents can see beyond such things. You hope and pray to God .. that they can transcend such things. Such trivial things.

Permit me to interject here a moment and say .. that transcending such things is not easy. No, sir. So I don't mean to demean the person who cannot. Who cannot transcend such things.

I will return later to add links to the key words and trick phrases that I am using here. Because right now I am in the initial part where you lay down the text. Where the writer turns nothing into something.

But these are things, I hope you can see .. that few people would mention .. unless they really needed being said. Feel me? (Think about it.)

My brother missed being valedictorian by some small fraction of a percentage point .. so the genetic capabilities seemed to be there.

I know it seems bizarre .. but my dad often made me feel like he were somehow jealous of me. For example, after I got out of the Navy, where I ran a reactor plant on a nuclear submarine for several years, the only thing he ever talked about ..

.. was regarding the one time I fucked up and did something stupid (as a 19 year old). "Do you remember that time...?" he would say .. almost relishing the thought of the memory.

I didnt say anything, of course, but would think » "How could I forget, dad? Because you bring it up every time the subject of my enlistment comes up." [ my dad did not serve in the military, tho he was a big military history buff ]

Repeatedly he would discount my achievements and focus on my fuck-ups with seemingly great relish .. somethng which I, as a parent, find hard to fathom.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plants on the Hudson River in New YorkWhen I got out of the military, and started working in the commercial nuclear industry ..

.. I was making several times as much as he was.

I recall mom saying, "Oh honey, you make enough money to get married."

As tho marriage were somehow the primary reason for making money.

Have you noticed how [ I'm sure you have .. ] some parents, who seem incapable of genuinely loving their children .. how they often substitute money or things for love?

"I'm giving you this thing," they say, "this thing which cost money. I am giving it to you in order TO SHOW YOU .. that I love you .. but really to hide the fact that there is something terribly wrong with me .. something which somehow prevents me from really loving anyone. So, giving this thing to you helps me camouflage this embarrassing inadequacy that I have."

Conditional Love = ManipulationWith these types of parents, the best you can hope for is » nice and/or generous. But you can tell there is something fishy .. because their gifts come with strings attached ..

.. often in the form of » you being required to do somethng for them. Nothing from them comes without strings attached ..

.. which is fine for how you might treat an employee. But not a son or daughter. Not your own flesh and blood.

I am getting off topic, but perhaps this bears mentioning. My feelings towards these types of parents might be expresed thusly » "If you really don't or can't genuinely love me [ for whatever reason ] then try not to fuck me up too terribly with your dysfunctional parenting techniques .. before I can figure out a way to get the fuck out of here .. and I will try to stay out of your hair and leave you two to your own (dysfunctional) devices as soon as I possibly can.

Because I would rather not be molded into your dysfunctional image ..if I can at all help it. Because you two look like two completely miserable fucks to me. Not always, no .. but far more than any sane person would ever want to emulate. I can do better. I can do better than this shit. Watch me. Might wanna step back.

Because you two have taught me all the shit that a good parent should NOT do. Thanks for the education. You might want to read a book or two about parenting .. especially how BAD parents fuck up their kids .. for their entire lives. Thanks for trying, tho sometimes I think you tried TOO hard. Undo'ing your dysfunctional parental mind-fucks will be a life-long process of radical therapy .. this much has become clear.

Hopefully I can find a strong, loving girl to help me get over this shit .. because most of them seem unable to handle me. And I really can't blame them. Maybe God will send me a sweaty warrior chick who does yoga amid the whirling blades of death .. maybe she will be able to know how to love me. If not, this is going to be a long, lonely journey."

Nicholas Kristof and wife at waterfall[[ » Kissing Nicholas Kristof

Nicholas Fucking Kristoff .. I could KISS him. This is now a few things of his that I have read.

Things that kick ass far beyond the normal ass kicking that you typically find on display there at the New York Times.

Such far-reaching vision. Such dig-deeping and far-reaching vision.

Good for you, dude. That is some serious throw-down.

You are making a difference. I would totally be proud to have my name on anything even close to that.

I also saw your video titled » 21st Century Concentration Camps (10 mins).

Dude, that video fucked with my head. I had always reckoned Buddhists (obviously wrongly) as peace-loving (almost by definition).

For several days after I saw your video, I was confronted by an obvious flaw in my world-paradigm. So now I have come to see (more clearly, anyway) .. that it is really the individual person .. who is either a good person or a sick fuck.

And that this is not something you can assign to any one religion or philosophy. I could discuss this topic ad nausum, but I will spare you. But if you can (successfully) challenge my world-paradigm, which is rather well-formed, I might say .. then that says something about you. Something good. Kudos.

If I had your clout, I would call up Deepak and say » "Dude, you need to pay a visit to your people there in Myanmar and tell them » 'You assholes are giving Buddhism a bad name'." Because they are.

Kudos for digging deeply to reveal the truth. I'm sure it must seem like a thankless job at times. So let me thank-you and express my gratitude. I particularly liked the way you called on world-leaders to step up and call bullshit on bullshit. That gave me a boner. Dude, if you have to embarrass them and hold their feet to the fire .. then this is what you must do.

Nicholas Kristof in the field

It would be better if you didnt have to resort to such things, I admit .. but when they give you no other choice .. then you have to call them out. You have to stand outside their bedroom window and shout up to them » "There is serious bullshit going on over here and you are playing golf on Martha's Vineyard. If you arent up to the job, then you ought not have run for office. If this is too much for you, then you should resign .. and let someone more capable take over." <end nicholas kristof side-excursion> ]]

Perhaps now you can see how this topic of dealing with dysfunctional parents might make me think of something that a relatively young (tho highly motivated) nuclear-boss once said to me » "In addition to doing our jobs and not fucking up, we also need to manage our bosses, which includes managing appearances."

Tho she never earned a college degree, my mom worked herself to a place (position) where she was in charge of ~60 people. My dad was never the boss of more than one other person (.. who was usually ME, or my brother, after I got the fuck out of there).

Tho you could tell that he was the type of person who badly wanted to be the boss of other people. Which is another topic entirely .. those types of people who feel unimportant unless they can be the boss of other people.

We won't go there right now, but you know the type of people that I am talking about » those with low self-esteem .. that they try to hide. (By focusing their attention of the short-comings of OTHERS.)

Boy, could I ever meddle here. But I won't. But they are always » uneducated people .. who act like they are smarter then you. You know the type I am talking about.

People like the Dog, who have been to Ivy league colleges, and who have earned their Masters degrees from places like USC .. do not do this. They do NOT pretend to be smarter than you.

Now, if you do not know WHY this is true, then you might very well BE one of them.

Do you find yourself frequently critcizing people who are far better educated then yourself? Do you pretend to know better than those far better educated than yourself? Do you only agree with the other uneducated folks who live there in your one-horse town .. that you were born into and where you still probably reside? Only with those who share your provincial, myopic views?

Think about it in light of the people who worked at Los Alamos.

Actually, I am pretty sure that you are NOT one of these people .. because I once read that Radified is frequented by wealthy and highly educated people. Tho I do not know how they could determine such a thing. But you know the type I am talking about.

Manhattan | 13-Part Docu-Drama about How the Bomb was BuiltUpdate September 5, 2014

I have seen the first six episodes now.

I thought that I missed episode #5, but actually, it was recorded.

So I saw episode #5 AFTER I saw episode #6.

I was surprised at myself .. how happy I felt that I didnt miss episode #5. It was no big deal, but if you miss one, you feel .. well, you feel like you missed something.

Anyway .. I am surprised by the amount of sex in this series. I recall from the book that the military said > "No. More. Babies." Because so many babies were being born there at Los Alamos. So I guess these surprisingly sexy scenes are true-to-historical accounts.

I also very much enjoy the old-time music. This takes you back in time. In particular, the hootenanny music in episode 5 from Fritz inhales the plutonium .. that was very clever.

You wouldnt think that it would work .. because of the mismatch between the highly technical nature of dealing with plutonium and the not-so-techncal sounding hootenanny music. But it does. (does work, and very well)

And the guy who does the interrogations .. good casting there. Good scene construction. Easy to put yourself into those scenes. Too easy. Definitely makes the viewer uncomfortable.

I am really enjoying this mini-series. Even the cinematography is impressive. Clever shot-constuction employing sophisticated color palattes.

And I continue to be impressed by the ways that the leaders are able to motivate the (super-smart) physicists who are working for them » "Charlie, in less than 72 hours, the world's second nuclear reactor is going hot. Now, do you want to be sitting up in the nose-bleed section of history? Or do you want a seat in the dugout?"

When I arrived at the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York .. there was a mucky-muck boss who came to talk to us newly-arrived contractors. Maybe later I will tell you what he said to us ..

.. but suffice to say right now that this man knew how to motivate people. I remember thinking » "I can work for this dude." [ His name was Mike Shannon, and he didnt take very much of our time, either. He was basically my boss's boss. ]

» The end. ■

Update Sept 15, 2014 » The Second Coming by Yeats

Yesterday I saw episode #8. Holy moly. The residue today from last-nights viewing is definitely » The Second Coming by Yeats (1919). I am feeling it very strongly. It is a strong poem.

I can see why I was not familiar with this poem before. I don't think I was ready.

When a poem or a novel or a song speaks strongly to me .. the first thing I find myself asking is » "Who is this dude? Who is this artist?"

Which naturally involves looking at their most formative years. (Which must, by definition, include, and even focus upon, years of » conception thru age 6. Or so the experts tell me.)

WB Yeats, Irish poet | 1865-1939Yeats is very interesting. Huge. Big shoes. Lived during interesting years » 1865-1939,

I am not prepared to get into Yeats here .. but his poem has been speaking to me.

It is like there is a part of me standing apart from me, tho close, (merely) stating the obvious »

» "Dude .. the second coming (by Yeats) is speaking to you..." And then he smiles .. as if to say » "You've come a long way, baby."

 Tho surely I am not the only one. But I want to ask the others » "Is it just me.. or is there not a heaviness (a burden, maybe?) that comes with it?"

Similar perhaps to the weight of the burden that came from developing the technology that enabled (mere) men with the ability to » exterminate life on the planet.

But when I heard Akley recite those verses .. something inside jumped .. but I was too transfixed to grab a pen and paper and jot down what I had heard ..

.. so I watched the episode AGAIN .. just to capture those verses. (I was watching it live. So it was not recorded.)

And then I saw it from from a (1919) poem by Yeats. 1919 is just after the end of WW1, which grew up out-of (from) » the guns of august.

[ i hope lauren sees the cool (creative, artistic) thing that i did by linking her (just above) to the guns of august and ww1. i am kinda surprised myself, to be honest. when you give way to your creatives urges, when you give in .. sometimes interestings things happen. boy, could i ever get to flirting here .. but i will let your imagination do that for you. creativity is an interesting thing, no? ]

I already knew that Yeats was a bad dude .. an influential man .. a man of character. Impressive character. And that is but one of the reasons why he cast such a long shadow. Such a long historical shadow.

Leo Tolstoy | 1828-1910Yeats is so huge that you will find a quote by him sitting there ..

.. at the very beginning of Pevear's intro to Annna Karenina ..

.. which is quite possibly the finest novel ever written ..

.. in any language .. ever. A tone-setting quote.

See here » "We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry."

Yeats (William Butler Yeats) is the type of person who causes your respect for him to grow .. the more you learn and know about him. (Cormac is like this, too.)

In certain respects Yeats is so impressive that he can cause mere mortals to come down with a case of the » little-dick syndrone .. or, on the other hand, he can » challenge you .. to grow beyond yourself.

There is a very cool feeling associated with what happens when you GROW enough to accept / endure / carry / understand bigger / heavier / weightier things ..

.. but it can be such a painful process to get there. Perhaps 'painful' is not the right word. But you catch my drift.

So my respect-factor (for both yeats and his poem) was already high when the imagery that Cormac McCarthy evokes at the very beginning of The Road .. appeared to me .. as if on its own, unsummon .. unsummoned by me, anyway.

Because I had long wondered why Cormac began The Road like that .. with his slouching monster.

Here is the exact passage .. from Cormac's very first section .. beginning with sentence #6.

I do not know for a fact .. but I would think that this poem is his way of paying homage.

Dostevsky was a big homage-payer, also. But you must first know the thing to which you pay homage.

I am not saying that it didnt speak to me, or that it didnt work for me .. but I felt myself trying, struggling .. to 'sync with him'

Cormac McCarthy (1933- ) | The Real DealThe imagery that Cormac evokes there ..

.. I could wax verbose. So I will spare you.

But, for that imagery to be evoked from a poem that (the great) Yeats himself titled » "The Second Coming" .. uh, I do not know what means ..

.. but my intuition says that » we're fixin' to find out. (Might wanna look around for something sturdy to grab hold of.)

Stand the fuck by .. all ye nations.

Notice in particular how Cormac's passage begin with a dream .. and that Yeat's poem ends with a reference to "stony sleep vexed to nightmare".

Roethke Describes how a Poem Came

I really should name this next sectiion » "Yeats himself". You will see why.

Regarding the importance that the poet places on Yeats .. check out this next quote from the poet Theodore Roethke (1908-1963).

Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)It is such an outstanding quote, and I know it is off-topic ..

.. but I might not get another opportunity to share it again with you.

See here (paying particular attention to the place that he gives to Yeats) »

<begin roethke quote>

 I was in the particular hell of the poet: a longish dry period. It was 1952, I was forty-four, and I thought I was done.

I was living alone in a biggish house in Edmonds, Washington. I had been reading -- and rereading -- not Yeats, but Raleigh and Sir John Davies.

I had been teaching the five-beat line for weeks--I knew quite a bit about it, but write it myself--no: So I felt myself a fraud.

Suddenly, in the early evening, the poem 'The Dance' started, and finished itself in a very short time--say thirty minutes it was all done. I felt, I knew, I had hit it.

I walked around and I wept; and I knelt down--I always do after I've written what I know is a good piece. But at the same time I had, as God is my witness, the actual sense of a Presence--as if Yeats himself were in that room. The house was charged with a psychic presence: the very walls seemed to shimmer. I wept for joy.

-Theodore Roethke

<end roethke quote>

You can find this quote by Roethke on page 12 of Sophy's book on writers and writing .. in the chapter titled » The Gift. But she seems to omit a small part of the quote ..

.. which I found » here. Both contain the phrase » Yeats himself.

Episode 10 » The Understudy

Update Sept 29. Whoa. The scene where Charlie Isaac's wife, Abby, walks into the French girl's kitchen and says » "All my life I have been exactly who everybody wanted me to be..."

That scene stuck with me the most today, from yesterday's viewing. Very thought-provoking.

I could write much on this topic, but will merely mention it. It = the scene.

Her real name is » Rachel Brosnahan. I have been impressed with both her character and her acting the whole series.

I don't see how anybody could watch this series and not be impressed with her.

Albert Camus (1913-1960)In this episode, she actually reads a French book by a French guy in the original French » The Stranger by Camus ( Kam-'MOO, 1913-1960, published 1942) ..

.. one the best novels of the entire century. Le Monde ranks it as thee #1 Best Novel of the Entire Twentieth century » L'Étranger.

Heck, it is ever listed as one of the 100 Best Books of All Time. In any language. Ever. (Did I say 'ever'?) 

That would put it in the same category as Kafka's The Trial.

Big, big, big.

And also the part where the three guys figure out how to "shape" charges.


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This page contains a single entry by Rad published on July 27, 2014 7:27 AM.

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