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NPR Holiday Favorites,
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a collection that truly is a seasonal delight, with National Public Radio holiday moments from Thanksgiving to the New Year, with stops at Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah in between. What a holiday gift from NPR. The Providence Journal

NPR Holiday Favorites, our newest CD,
Cards Against Humanity, overflows with humor, warmth, nostalgia, joy, and hope. From Thanksgiving to Hanukkah, from Christmas to Kwanzaa, these classic stories from NPR programs are sure to become a part of your holiday traditions. Join host Susan Stamberg as NPR fan favorites like David Sedaris, Kevin Kling and Brian Unger tell stories of the season; some that you remember fondly, and others that you and your family will fall in love with for the first time.

David Sedaris contributes his now classic Diaries,
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Video released of homeless man being shot and killed

Above: Video of 38 year old James Boydbeing shot and killed byAlbuquerque police. Please be advised this is graphic content and is not suitable for all viewers. In a rare show of displeasure with the troubled Police Department, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said Monday it was wrong for the new police chief to say officers were justified in killing a homeless camper in the Sandia foothills.

Berry also said he wants to bring in outsiders to help investigate the killing that came as the department is under federal scrutiny after notching three dozen shootings since 2010.

Berry criticized Police Chief Gorden Eden for making a premature judgement about the fatal shooting of 38 year old James Boyd on March 16,
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chief got asked an honest question and he gave an honest answer, Berry said. it was premature and a mistake, and that will not happen again. Eden said Boyd had threatened to kill officers and held onto knives as an unarmed K 9 officer approached him.

A helmet camera video showed Boyd gathering his belongings then turning away right before officers fired.

The video, released Friday and shown nationwide, drew scrutiny from elected officials and civil rights groups who believe officers overstepped their use of deadly force on a man who appeared to be struggling with mental illness.

was horrific when you see someone who has been shot,
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The video showed an injured Boyd with two 5 inch knives in his hand when officers surrounded and handcuffed him,
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Eden said the medical examiner has not yet determined if the bullets killed Boyd.

Berry said he has invited the Las Cruces Police Department to help with an independent five agency investigation into the shooting. are from outside the metro area and it be good to get a sixth look at it, Berry said. Justice Department investigation involving the use of force.

Former Police Chief Ray Schultz retired last year amid controversy over the shootings, although Berry had been publicly supportive of Schultz. Berry named Eden as police chief last month following a national search.

Berry said he has informed the Justice Department about the latest shooting and the agency has access to any files it needs.

Some members of an Albuquerque police oversight panel were expected to hold a news conference Tuesday to formally ask for an investigation into the shooting independent of Albuquerque police and the Second Judicial District Attorney Office.

shooting of James Boyd has shocked and appalled the citizens of Albuquerque, said Leonard Waites,
game cards against humanity, a member of the Police Oversight Task Force. call for an immediate and independent investigation of this tragic killing. The Canadian Press, 2014

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Walt’s Takeover Was Complete But Hard To Buy And Unsatisfying

In 2010, fresh off the emotionally dense final season of “Lost” and the first four seasons of the deeply humane “Friday Night Lights,” I found myself struggling with “Breaking Bad.”

The end of Season 2 had been so dark that I wondered if I could take much more of the meth drama’s unsparing worldview. I’d bypassed most of the show’s third season, but then gorged on it all in one weekend, just before the Season 3 finale aired in June of that year.

“Breaking Bad” was starkly different from the shows that I loved best around that time, but the merciless vision on display in Season 3 eventually won me over.

Two days out from “Breaking Bad’s” series finale, I wonder where that clear eyed perspective went.

Sure, all shows evolve, but “Breaking Bad” used to view Walt differently, I think. Its depiction of the moral choices he and Jesse made was occasionally amused but usually dispassionate and rational. Without sentiment, it brilliantly dissected the compromises that made viewers like me question the whole concept of rooting for anyone at all.

“Breaking Bad’s” unblinking camera eye the endlessly observant lens that viewed the characters with such rigorous clarity made a believer of me. There was an adjustment period, of course.

“I realized that I’d never be as emotionally invested in the people of Albuquerque as I am in the people of Dillon, Texas,” I wrote in 2010:

[But] maybe ‘Breaking Bad’ needs to keep the viewer at a distance. Without it, maybe Walt and Jesse and the probable bleakness of their futures might be too hard to take.

There’s a coolness to this show; even as it depicts their suffering, the show keeps these people at arms’ length. We’re observing them; they are like ants in an ant farm. How much pressure can they take? . What will break them and make them go bad? Perhaps it’s appropriate that a show about a former chemistry teacher is like a giant experiment measuring pain and pressure. Perhaps because they are capable of such dark deeds, the show keeps a clinical eye on the characters. Perhaps it’s better that we don’t get too close to these people, whose tragedies will undoubtedly engulf them.

“Breaking Bad” did dig more deeply into its characters in the end, and that’s to be expected and even celebrated.

But gradually, the clinical eye that the show cast on the characters, especially Walt, began to close. Not fully, not suddenly, but enough. That coolly appraising vision was supplanted, especially in the finale, by one perspective and one worldview: Walt’s.

In “Felina,” Walt basically took over. Other characters who had the standing to comment on his actions or who could get in his way were gone or their roles were greatly diminished. Everyone else was a bit player in the endgame orchestrated by Walt White.

These weren’t ants in a maze, this was King Ant writing the history of his conquest. His version of tale, that is. Not a lot of other voices were heard.

No time was spent on Marie’s grief, and there was only a brief scene of Skyler’s utter resignation. The last episodes didn’t linger on Flynn’s adjustment to being the fatherless lynchpin of a broken household; he didn’t even speak in the finale. Mike, gone. Saul, gone. Jesse appeared briefly to absolve Walt of his sins, which seems incredible, given what Jesse learned of Walt’s role in Jane’s death, not to mention everything else Walt had inflicted on him.

Gretchen and Elliot were there to do Walt’s bidding and be terrified of him. Walt’s bitter sneer that they needed to “make it right” with the White family went unchallenged, because this was Walt’s story and the show had,
cards with humanity, at that point, lost interest in everybody else. The Nazis were mowed down like so many redshirts (there’s your “Star Trek” episode, Badger).

Here’s one small but telling example of how the show’s perspective shifted, especially as the endgame grew near. Around the time that we first met Lydia Rodarte Quayle, we saw her young daughter, and like Lydia, we were terrified that this little girl might discover the ugliness that had invaded her family. It mattered that she might find out that mommy was in danger or that she herself was in danger.

In the series finale, that girl was made an orphan. We didn’t see her; no reference was made to Lydia’s status as a single mom. Just about all we got were Walt’s snide parting comments to Lydia. No more thought was given to her daughter than to the phone Walt threw in the dirt.

Yes, we can sit and ponder outcomes that the show didn’t necessarily rub in our faces. And of course if the finale had given every minor character screen time, it would have been five hours long. Perhaps I’m stacking the rhetorical deck in my favor, but only to point out that “Breaking Bad” did the same.

Very little of the finale drew attention to the undeniable damage Walt left in his wake. The ramifications on which “Breaking Bad” used to dwell like the slaughter of Andrea were viewed from a distance, if they came up at all. (We saw Jesse’s tortured reaction, but he remained a mute, powerless pawn for much of the season and in the end he silently forgave or let pass Walt’s role in the deaths of Jane and Andrea.)

Ultimately, “Breaking Bad” went from a show with an unsparing eye to a show that, at the very end, didn’t really want to look.

As many have noted, the “Breaking Bad” finale wrapped up many plot points rather tidily so neatly that it felt like the universe was lining up to do Walt’s bidding. And that was . weird. The cool, rational point of view the earlier vision of Walt as a creature under a microscope, a lab subject “sprawling on a pin” wasn’t on display here. That distanced, even jaundiced view of Walt felt like a thing of the past. That unstoppable con artist Walter White had taken control, and it felt as though “Breaking Bad” a show that interrogated and subverted the anti hero myth for so long had started to root for him. The finale was 96 percent pure Walter Hartwell White whatever he wanted, he got. So much for just deserts; by dictating the terms of his exit, Walt just got dessert.

Walt is certainly a seductive personality, and it must be hard to be merciless toward your story’s lead character when you’re about to leave him forever. But aren’t those who tell the tale supposed to be at a certain remove from the characters? Knowing them so well, shouldn’t they be less easily seduced?

Yet, right at the end,
crimes against humanity game, “Breaking Bad” ignored the cardinal rule of all drug related enterprises: Don’t get high on your own supply.

Contrast “Breaking Bad’s” ending with that of “The Shield.” I won’t give that ending away,
buy cards against humanity, except to say that Vic Mackey, who had told himself he was simply trying to do good but had let his ego run amok, was denied everything he wanted most. The world, or fate, or whatever you want to call it, finally put obstacles in his path that he couldn’t get over. The universe said, “No.”

Not so for Walt. “Breaking Bad” blinked; it hesitated. Its desire to burnish and redeem Walt made the finale anti climactic or rather, post climactic. Why couldn’t the events of “To’hajiilee” and “Ozymandias” a more powerful concluding arc, in my view be left as they were? Because that arc was too unsparing. It was too bleak.

Wait a minute, wasn’t “unsparing and bleak” “Breaking Bad’s” thing? Wasn’t that what I was drawn to, almost in spite of myself?

I’m not saying that the show totally lacked compassion for everyone on screen, even Walt that was never the case. And I’m not saying the finale was a bad episode of television. It was just far less powerful than it could have been. And before you call for my head on a platter, I’ll say that “Breaking Bad” still belongs in the pantheon of great TV shows.

But the finale’s impact was blunted by its tendency to view Walt’s actions not just as the right ones but as the necessary ones. This isn’t about wishing retribution on Walt per se,
against humanity card game, it’s about wanting him to live in a universe that’s capable of biting back. It’s the universe that he’d lived in for the five previous seasons (and, until “Felina,” wasn’t all that different from the reality we live in, too).

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