Doors cracked, and people peered out at the apparitions on the street. Most of the grown-ups smiled and said “Good morning”, or “Happy Mardi Gras!” Kids peeked around their parents, looking thunderstruck. “Get up outta that bed! It's Mardi Gras morning!” the bone men yelled, “You gotta get your life straight!” One of the less well-known traditions of Mardi Gras in New Orleans are the Skull and Bone gangs who come out in the early morning. Their mission, besides the celebration of Mardi Gras, is to seek out small children and warn to live their lives rightly least the skull and bone spirits should have to come to them too soon. The tradition lives on, continuing what began around 1819, now mingling with the "younger" traditions of the Mardi Gras Indians and the Baby Dolls. For more history, check out Gumbo Ya-Ya, a collection of Louisana Folk Tales, on Archive.org
The much-anticipated Frontline documentary "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis" premiered on PBS last week. In August, ESPN pulled out of the project, reportedly due to pressure from the NFL (as previously discussed on MetaFilter here), while the NFL itself only days later announced a $765m settlement with over 4500 former players for claims of concussion-related disability. Reaction to the Frontline program was unsurprisingly mixed from factions involved with the issue, but generally well-received by journalists and TV critics. [more inside]
A polka band that accompanies a yearly ski train. A musk ox farmer. A bush pilot. A Native youth Olympian These are some of the subjects covered in the new web series Indie Alaska. Each episode aims to capture a colorful aspect of life in Alaska, whether it be someone's work, art, or play. A collaboration between Alaska Public Media and PBS Digital Studios. [more inside]
From the nearly-forgotten 80s educational show Vegetable Soup, Woody the Spoon tells you how to make gohan, Japanese-style rice. If Woody's voice sounds a little familiar, it's because he's voiced by Bette Midler.
Last month, New York PBS affiliate WNET launched a subway ad campaign that promoted several fake but totally plausible reality shows, to poke fun at the state of Cable TV. To follow up on the successful campaign, yesterday, the network released 3 TV spots with a similar theme. (Kinda previously...)
To save a world that fears and loathes them, four disparate heroes return and join forces to form a superteam like no other.
“Do you really want to invest in a system where you put up 100 percent of the capital, [you] take 100 percent of the risk, and you get 30 percent of the return?” Frontline correspondent Martin Smith speaks with authors, policy experts, and investment managers about the history and current reality of the 401(k).
"...forcing its cast to act around a Jack Russel terrier decked out in full period costume." Blogger Josh Marsfelder of Soda Pop Art explores the legacy of Wishbone.
David Foster Wallace discusses ambition, perfectionism, tennis and teaching in an interview with Leonard Lopate from the PBS Digital Studios series Blank On Blank.
A group of respected entertainers (and some not-as-respected celebrities), businessmen, Civil Rights leaders and academics have signed an open letter calling on the President to #EndTheWarOnDrugs. [more inside]
How To Speak Minnesotan [slyt]
Happy snow day, superkids! Here's a raven, havin' a time. SLYT, about a minute long. Dig it.
Reportero (alternate link) - follows a veteran reporter and his colleagues at Zeta, a Tijuana-based independent newsweekly, as they stubbornly ply their trade in one of the deadliest places in the world for members of the media. In Mexico, more than 50 journalists have been slain or have vanished since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderón came to power and launched a government offensive against the country's powerful drug cartels and organized crime. As the drug war intensifies and the risks to journalists become greater, will the free press be silenced? [more inside]
Huell Howser, best known as the host of California Gold, passed away today. He was 67. I hope he's up there swimming in the Neptune pool. (previously)
Houndton Tabby is an Etsy store filled with amazing portraits of the Downton Abbey cast, but as cats and dogs. [via mefi projects]
Downton Abbey returns to American TV screens this Sunday. Since many Americans have become fascinated with the intricate social dances featured in the English drama/soap, Grantland feels there's an opportunity to provide them a lesson about the equally intricate plot machinations associated with the English Premier League. I give you the "English Premier League to Downton Abbey plot converter." [more inside]
Tired of cranky commentary about U.S. government spending? Maybe it needs more sequins. Or a ballet. Or Ray Bradbury. Ladies and gentlemen, Stan Freberg presents "The Federal Budget Revue" (part 1; part 2; part 3). [more inside]
According to the Sacramento Bee, Huell Howser is retiring. Best known for his public television show, California's Gold and his boundless enthusiasm, Mr. Howser is "retiring from filming new shows or making appearances."
Kevin Clash has resigned from Sesame Street as his first accuser retracts his retraction and a second accuser emerges. Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon says this can't kill Elmo. Previously, and previously, alas.
The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
Bishop Gene Robinson speaks at First Presbyterian Church in NYC in 2009 on the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and offers (and challenges church goers to offer) water to Gay Pride parade participants as part of his ministry. [5m19s] [more inside]
The Choice 2012 is a Frontline documentary about the background of the current candidates for President of the United States.
Flipping through public access or PBS channels one might have seen Classic Arts Showcase with it's familiar ARTS bug. The 24-hour non-commercial free-to-air satellite channel broadcasts a repeated 8-hour mix of about 150 video clips weekly a mix of various classic arts including animation, architectural art, ballet, chamber, choral music, dance, folk art, museum art, musical theater, opera, orchestral, recital, solo instrumental, solo vocal, and theatrical play, as well as classic film and archival documentaries. The channel has no VJs and only silent interstitials encouraging the viewer to “...go out and feast from the buffet of arts available in your community.” [more inside]
Can playing Dungeons & Dragons make you a more confident and successful person? The PBS Idea Channel posits that playing pen-and-paper role-playing games helps to develop valuable life skills such as problem solving, people management, and abstract thinking.
In February, PBS and AOL launched Makers, a video archive containing personal stories and anecdotes told in the first person by women, many of whom have sparked groundbreaking changes in American culture. [more inside]
Next week, for the first time in 22 years, PBS will televise the four dramas of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle on consecutive nights - a rare opportunity to encounter in the manner intended "the most ambitious and most profound work of art ever created". [more inside]
The Evolution Documentary channel (autoplays video) has collected documentaries and clips about evolution available on youtube, including documentaries from BBC, Nova, and National Geographic. [more inside]
Bob Dylan famously "went electric" at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. 47 years later, experts believe a woman in New Jersey has the guitar the Dylan played on stage that day. [more inside]
In 1984, The Voyage of the Mimi set sail on PBS, exploring the ocean off the coast of Massachusetts to study humpback whales. The educational series was made up of thirteen episodes intended to teach middle schoolers about science and math. The first fifteen minutes of each episode were a fictional adventure starring a young Ben Affleck. The second 15 minutes were an "expedition documentary" that would explore the scientific concepts behind the show's plot points. A sequel with the same format, The Second Voyage of the Mimi aired in 1988, and featured the crew of the Mimi exploring Mayan ruins in Mexico. [more inside]
Murdoch's Scandal - Lowell Bergman (the journalist portrayed by Al Pacino in The Insider) has investigated News Corporation for PBS Frontline [transcript]. He depicts Rupert Murdoch's British operation as a criminal enterprise, routinely hacking the voicemail and computers of innocent people, and using bribery and coercion to infiltrate police and government over decades. Enemies are ruthlessly "monstered" by the tabloids. Bergman also spoke to NPR's Fresh Air [transcript]. But the hits keep coming: in recent days News Corp has been accused of hacking rival pay TV services and promoting pirated receiver cards in both the UK and Australia. With the looming possibility of prosecution under America's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, how long will shareholders consider Rupert Murdoch irreplaceable? [Previous 1 2 3 4]
But this season, PBS chose to move Independent Lens and P.O.V. to a new time slot -- 10 pm, ET, on Thursday nights. This may not seem like such a big deal at first, until you know that on Thursday nights stations can broadcast any program they like in prime time, whether it's part of the PBS schedule or not. Many take the opportunity to offers viewers locally produced programs, British sitcoms or reruns of Antiques Roadshow. As a result, episodes of the independent documentary series can now be run anywhere local stations choose to fit them in (here in New York, WNET airs the films at 11 p.m. on Sundays) or maybe not at all.Bill Moyers writes an open letter to PBS about scheduling changes which have ruined PBS as Tuesday night destination for documentary television.
The first episode of the second season of PBS Arts web-original series Off Book is Animated GIFs: The Birth of a Medium (mini-documentary, ~7 min). "OFF BOOK explores cutting edge arts and the artists that make it. Breaking the mold of the definition of art, OFF BOOK explores the avant-garde, the experimental and the underground artforms that are supported by online communities." [more inside]
Between February 27th and March 30th, PBS will be running the PBS Online Film Festival. The first four short films, in the Real Stories category, are now online. [more inside]
Tonight Frontline aired the documentary film "The Interrupters", the video is available on Frontline's website. On WTTW, Chicago's major PBS affiliate, a special "Chicago Tonight" followed the presentation. It featured a panel discussion with Violence Interrupters Ameena Matthews, Eddie Bocanegra, and Cobe Williams, an interview with the filmakers and an interview with former Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis and CeaseFire Director Tio Hardiman. [more inside]
Woody Allen: A Documentary (Part One, Part Two), a film by Robert Weide and part of the American Masters series on PBS, is now online. [more inside]
Bill Moyers has returned to broadcasting. His new weekly show, Moyers & Company, aired its first episode on many PBS stations last night with a half-hour interview with Jacob Hackler and Paul Pierson, authors of Winner-Take-All Politics, and a second half-hour examining Occupy Wall Street. The episode, and other video not included in the weekly episodes, will be available on his new website.
A few sketches aired during the original run of Monty Python were subsequently lost. Half an episode, the tenth of the third series, was censored by the BBC. All that survives is the script. Also, never shot, but written, was the King Brian the Wild scene from Holy Grail. Additionally, a few sketches were either slightly censored post-broadcast or erased for other reasons. A couple of those sketches have have been found on tape [Warning: Autoplaying video]. The two sketches are Political Choreographer (here with a short bit exhorting you to support Channel 11 in Chicago), and an interstitial animation by Terry Gilliam. Also, the uncensored Summarize Proust sketch.