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Monday, Aug 25, 2014
Tired of the Kardashians and their kind? Sorry, but they are keeping an industry alive.

Though you might not recall it, Jessica Simpson actually entered the celebrity realm as a pop singer, though not a particularly successful one. Later, she gained greater fame as a reality star (of Newlyweds on MTV from 2003-2005) and then as a go-to punchline based upon her ditzy TV persona. Today, she is primarily known for a brand of shoes she sells exclusively at Macy’s. 


For someone’s who is, today, best known as a shoe designer with a medium-priced line, Simpson nevertheless gets an awful lot of attention, with frequent mentions on TMZ, in Us Weekly and in other publications, both online and in print. Her recent wedding was profiled in an issue of People magazine with a multi-page spread.


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Thursday, Aug 9, 2012
We talk about the Twitter Age the way we talked about the Nuclear Age. Like? Dislike? Doesn't really make a difference because once here, technology -- nuclear or cyber -- doesn't leave the room.

It’s the Twitter Olympics. Like? Dislike? The live feeds aren’t there or aren’t good, or, they’re spoiling the excitement of the evening TV replay. I’m panning wider: the Twitter Age. We talk about the Twitter Age the way we talked about the Nuclear Age. Like? Dislike? Doesn’t really make a difference because once here, technology—nuclear or cyber—doesn’t leave the room. A PDF is a most personally cherished possession as judged within a cultural mass psyche that cherishes all things personal. You have the power of personal choice, touch and response. Did I say instantaneous touch and response? And unlimited choices?


Is there a dark side? It begins not so dark, but if you think about it beyond a 140-character thought process, it all seems to be a burlesque ending to Enlightenment dreams so well lit in the mind that even postmodernity couldn’t dim them. But there’s a dimmer on now.


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Tuesday, Jul 3, 2012
Dog Whisperer is the most consistently entertaining, entrancing, and reassuring show on TV.

“Everything takes practice,” says Cesar Millan. “To make a dog unstable takes practice.” At the moment, he’s standing in Liverpool, looking over the situation in a home belonging to a Dalmatian named Cooper and his two humans, Melanie and her mother, but if you’ve ever seen a Dog Whisperer, you see already that the new location doesn’t change the series’ basic idea: people need to learn how to behave with their dogs.


The show’s final season begins on 7 July, bringing Cesar’s Way to the UK. “Every country needs a strong pack leader,” asserts the ever calm Cesar, “Starting with you.”


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Tuesday, May 1, 2012
“You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” Jesse Owens’ description of running is surely poetic.

“You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” Jesse Owens’ description of running is surely poetic. Yet even as he found in running a means to express himself, to assert his independence and brilliance, the world around him remained unjust and odious. Jesse Owens—premiering on PBS’ American Experience on 1 May—recalls that world, as well as the athlete’s singular resistance to such injustice. It’s helpful to recall this dynamic now, at a time when athletes typically don’t take on such responsibility. As Laurens Grant’s elegant documentary points out, the responsibility was tremendous, as he traveled with the US Olympic team to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The bare bones of the outcome are well known now: Owens won four gold medals and Hitler refused to shake his hand. But the backstories to Owens’ triumphs on the track may be less familiar. And these stories, even those noted briefly here, demonstrate the complexity of the situations for Owens, the many “directions” he had to go, and the many winds he had to fight.


See PopMattersreview.


Watch Jesse Owens Preview on PBS. See more from American Experience.


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Friday, Aug 27, 2010

This is the time of year when all the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and the CW) put out those cheap, cheesy “preview” specials. They often broadcast them at odd times, and mostly focus on what seems to be the worst of what they have to offer. Consider what’s broadcast here as an improved version of what you’ll get on the tube. Following are previews of the new shows that will be airing during the weekends, along with a little background information and some speculation on how long they might last.


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