Tag: Mary Nissenson

Day 999: Buh-Bye, So Long and Hallelujah


It’s a completely valid question.

For the past 50 or so days I have been fielding one question more often than most: what am I going to do for Day 1000? Will the final kilograph reflect upon the 999 that came before, like some extended clip show of my greatest guffaws and most aww-rending moments? Will I spend my final entry in closing-credits mode, thanking those who have made this all possible and put up with my considerable dearth of free time over the last 2 years and almost 9 months?

In short… no. While my original intent was to meander down that self-serving footpath for my final article, I decided that I would only do so if I could cite the Wikipedia page that had been created about me – as it turns out, that doesn’t exist yet.

In order to figure out my final missive, I felt I should turn to the moulder of my wisdom, the sage oracle who has helped to shape my morality, my perception, and even my understanding of the world: television. I have experienced the highs and lows of series finales – certainly at least one of them could illuminate the road to a poignant, entertaining, and (most of all) worthy coda to this monstrous undertaking.


My first option is the beloved trope of bringing back a classic character for the finale. In my case I could introduce a surprise cameo by Yoko Ono, Craig David, Mary Nissenson, or if I really want to stretch to my roots, Phineas Gage. I could style the entire piece in a blend of haiku, musical theatre and secret code (did anyone ever figure that one out?). It sounds trite and cliché, but that’s always a place to start, isn’t it? Read more…

Day 204: “Probability” – Because Why Write About What I Know?

Since the beginning of this bizarre experiment, I have had the privilege of writing about a movies I have never seen (Mermaids), musicians I have never heard (Bob Log III), places I’ll never go to (Leckhampstead), people I’ll never meet (Mary Nissenson), and now I get to write about a TV show I’ve never watched.

I used to watch Law & Order when A&E was airing it constantly, even more than they run Criminal Minds today. The show had a ravenous fan following, which is probably why they have cultivated spin-off after spin-off, none of which have interested me. With the rise of the extended-story form of dramatic television (like The Wire, for a cop-show example), the wrap-it-up-in-an-hour serial variety hasn’t really been my thing.

This brings us to today’s topic: “Probability.” Not the actual notion of probability, about which I could easily write a thousand words without getting up from the craps table, but the episode named “Probability” from season two of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Again, never seen the episode, never even watched a full hour of the series. I had to actually look up what the premise of the show was, in terms of differentiation from the original L&O. I guess this show focused on the ‘Major Crimes’ division in New York. Major Crimes involves investigations beyond the scope of normal police work: stuff like art theft, kidnappings, larceny, burglaries over $100,000, suspicious-looking gummy bears, wayward ostriches, counterfeit raisins, and zeppelin hijackings.

This particular episode is about an investigation into the murder of a homeless man, which strikes me as something Homicide would handle. I hate to second-guess Dick Wolf, but I think this one should have gone to Jerry Orbach and Sam Waterston on the other show.

They were in Homicide, right? It’s been a while since I watched this show.

It actually turns into a string of homeless murders, so I guess it gets interesting enough for Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe. The title “Probability” refers to the fact that a corrupt insurance agent was behind all of the killings. I don’t know if this is one of those ‘ripped from the headlines’ episodes that L&O is so famous for, but I’d hate for insurance agents to get tarred with negative publicity. Read more…

Day 101: The Universe Is A Dick – The Mary Nissenson Story

After spending a day clawing through a hundred Wikipedian subjects, counting every word by hand and trying to remember what it felt like to breathe outside air, it’s nice to welcome Mary Nissenson into my consciousness for a pleasant, normal kilograph.

Except Mary’s story is anything but normal. She is a biopic waiting to happen – a riches to rags story from my lifetime, though one I’d never come across until now. Everything about her climb to success simply shrieks of hard work and commitment; Mary wasn’t the blow-her-way-up-the-ladder type. What comes next is nothing short of tragic.

Mary grabbed her undergrad degree from Vassar in 1974, then became the first female elected president of the law students’ association at the University of Chicago Law School. She graduated with her law degree in 1977, then promptly celebrated by going to see Star Wars. I was three that year; I assume that’s what everybody did in 1977.

There was no better way to celebrate. It was a glorious time.

She worked as a corporate litigator, one of the most lucrative career paths in the legal world. Before long, she was working for WBBM-TV as an investigative reporter. She won an Emmy for her look at child labor law violations.

Not satisfied with a mere Emmy, Mary also racked up a Jacob Scher Award for investigative journalism, a Peter Lisagor Award for journalistic ass-kickery, a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association, and she finished off the Old 96-er in one sitting.

Read more…