Is It “Showtime” At Last for My Cable Lineup?

11 03 2007

If Ira Glass’ –yes, that’s the possessive with an apostrophe and NO extra S! — new tv show is destined to be as good as his “This American Life” on radio, then I finally have educational justification to add the network airing it to my cable service. His NPR show on superpowers, with John Hodgman interviewing regular folks on the street about whether they’d choose flying or invisibility and why, was an instant classic. And the show about what three things we live and die for — talk about power of story. . .Ira Glass doesn’t tell stories the way anybody else does.

Episode 1 – “Reality Check”
Three stories of people who hatched plans in the hopes of making their dreams come true, but were snapped back to reality by unpleasant outcomes: an elementary school student tries to solve a common childhood problem; a rancher resuscitates a beloved pet, which later turns on him; people team to give an unknown rock band the greatest night of its life.

I remember the last bit, about the unknown rock band, from the radio show. There was a LOT more to it than this, about creativity and community, whether contrived spontaneity and ambush improv is fair (a la Borat?) and whether it’s true, for the players OR the unsuspecting audience — I’m still thinking hard about the cultural questions of meaning it raised for me.

Anyway, check out the video preview here. It’s not everyone’s taste of course, and the prim and proper set will hate it and probably boycott any advertisers, but if it intrigues you as much as it does me, there’s time to call the cable company before This American Life comes to hi-def tv debuting March 22 . . .

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Go Make Those Real-World Connections

11 03 2007

 Power of story no matter how your family chooses to educate or loves to learn:

There’s an illusion being created that all the world’s knowledge is on the Web, but . . .experts say entire swaths of political and cultural history are in danger of being forgotten by new generations of amateur researchers and serious scholars.

. . .The ultimate fate of information relating to potentially valuable but obscure people, places, events or things . . . highlights one of the paradoxes of the digital era. While the Internet boom has made information more accessible and widespread than ever, that very ubiquity also threatens records and artifacts that do not easily lend themselves to digitization — because of cost, but also because Web surfers and more devoted data hounds simply find it easier to go online than to travel far and wide to see tangible artifacts.

“This is the great problem right now, and it’s a scary thing,” said the documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

“The dots are only connected by a few of us who are willing to go to the places to make those connections.”