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Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012
Smart, informative, and often funny, the show illustrates its host's faith, that every play can be broken down and rethought, can be a learning experience, can make the next plays better.

“When do you sleep? You know, who needs it?” Jon Gruden’s first words to Bryant Gumbel on this week’s Real Sports. advised that getting up at 3:15am every morning to look at game film and prepare for work, Gruden agrees. “Yeah, it’s probably not wise at times, probably not normal,” he says, looking serious for a moment before he smiles. “But it’s my rhythm, it’s the beat that I go to.”


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Thursday, Aug 9, 2012
New short films showcase what it means to be citizens, in the US and the world.

“I’ve always thought as I was growing up, the worst thing a man can do is nothing,” says James Armstrong. At 85 years old, this self-identified foot soldier of the Civil Rights Movement hasn’t spent much time doing nothing. Looking back in 2009, as Barack Obama is about to be inaugurated, Armstrong proudly directs your look at the photos and newspaper clippings that fill up every inch of space on the walls of his barbershop. “I got a lot of pictures of everybody that was doing something,” he says. And so you see, as the camera in Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday’s documentary The Barber of Birmingham pans to show pioneers ranging from Jackie Robinson to Martin Luther King, Jr. to Barack Obama. Premiering on the terrific series POV’s Short Cuts on 9 August, the film tells a story of inexorable progress and work to be done, of the slow, hard fight to secure the right to vote.


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Thursday, Jul 26, 2012
Filmed before the protests against Bashar al-Assad’s regime began in March 2011, Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix's documentary offers a glimpse at the thin line some Muslim women must walk.

“The world is in turmoil,” observes 20-year-old Enas al-Khaldi, a Qu’ran student in Damascus. “There’s terrorism and a sheikh is talking about how thick a woman’s socks should be!” Enas and her classmates describe their education as crucial to their futures, as well as Syria’s. “Before, a woman was a prisoner in her own home,” another girl says. “There is a saying that a woman only goes two places, to her husband’s house, and then to her grave. This was a really dangerous thing.”


The girls’ understanding of history and enthusiasm for their future are at the center of The Light in Her Eyes. Filmed before the protests against Bashar al-Assad’s regime began in March 2011, Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix’s documentary—airing as part of PBS’ POV series on TV and online—offers a glimpse at the thin line some Muslim women must walk. It also shows how Enas came by her commitment, namely, her mother, Houda Al-Habash. A preacher who runs a school for girls, Houda remembers, “When I was growing up, in my religious school, there were only four or five girls who had memorized the Book of God. Now there are thousands.” This despite a continuing effort by conservative clerics to suppress women’s education, efforts made visible here in a series of video pronouncements: “If a woman does as the prophet says, then she should stay home as much as possible,” or again, “Reading, for women, it is not required for them at all.”


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Sunday, Jul 22, 2012

“I think the really important part of this trip,” says Heather Tehrani, “is for Alex’s dad to have completion of our wedding.” Just so, the couple—both born in the US—plan to travel from New York City, where they live, to Iran, where they mean to have a second, Muslim, wedding ceremony. The trip will be complicated, as travel between the US and Iran has been for decades, and their parents—in particular their fathers—are not inclined to support it. The complications are documented in Arusi Persian Wedding, a film by Alex’s sister Marjan Tehrani available on Global Voices and online Global Voices beginning on 22 July. While the wedding provides compelling visuals and some minor melodrama (concerning Heather’s decision to convert, on paper, to Islam from her vague Christianity, as well as her dress, as the one she brings along from the States must be replaced, according to her new relatives and family friends), the film is most interesting as it integrates its personal stories within a broad historical context.


See PopMatters‘s review.



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Tuesday, Jul 17, 2012
Real Sports correspondent Frank Deford investigates the brutal hazing performed by marching bands, specifically, the death last year of Florida A&M University's drum major Robert Champion.

Real Sports correspondent Frank Deford investigates the brutal hazing performed by marching bands, specifically, the death last year of Florida A&M University’s drum major Robert Champion. Visibly frustrated by his interviewees’ apparent lack of candor, Deford makes the obvious point, that “The bands make so much money for the schools and are so popular that administrators don’t punish them.”


“I was caught up in the moment,” says Rikki Wills, “I wasn’t doing it to hurt him. I didn’t want the tradition to die.” Frank Deford sits across from him, not even trying to hide his disbelief. “Why,” he asks, “is it a good tradition?” Wills has answers, none convincing. “It kind of builds up a camaraderie, builds up a brotherhood,” he says. “We play the same instruments, we ate together, studied together, and got hazed together.” Here the segment on this week’s episode of Real Sports with Bryan Gumbel cuts away from Wills, to Baton Rouge ADA Steve Danielson, currently prosecuting the murder case against Wills and 12 other individuals in the 2011 hazing death of Robert Champion, a drum major at Florida A&M University. Danielson says hazing has “gotten out of hand,” necessitating intervention by the legal system.


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