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Tuesday, Jul 2, 2013
Blockbusters, summer TV, and a lot of music prove that there's more fun to be had in July than just the 4th.

July is a big month in the music world, as so many major releases are hitting the shelves that discussing them warrants a separate PopMatters article. See: Listening Ahead: Upcoming Music Releases for July 2013


But the next 31 days also feature some TV debuts, big box office hits, and America’s most patriotic holiday. So get comfortable. Open a cold one, and enjoy July’s offerings.


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Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013
This week's Real Sports offers segments on Negro League players finding each other and war veterans finding peace as MMA fighters.

Six years ago, when he was 12 years old, Cam Perrin found his calling. An enthusiastic baseball card collector then, he tells Bryant Gumbel now, he stumbled on a few Negro League players. Intrigued by how little information as readily available on them, Cam began to research—not only online, but in more old-fashioned ways, writing and calling the men whose names he discovered. “To his amazement,” Gumbel says, “Many of them wrote back.” And a few did not: as Cam recalls on this week’s HBO"s Real Sports, a few didn’t take his calls, and a couple even pretended to be dead, saying they weren’t who they were. But Cam is nothing if not persistent, and despite the lack of record-keeping by the Leagues, he tracked down and reconnected teammates who had lost touch with each other, pulled together documentation on careers so that players could begin to receive their pensions (they need to show they played for four seasons to be eligible), and got himself invited to the annual reunion at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama, a reunion whose attendees have increased thanks to Cam. Today, Gumbel visits with Cam, acknowledged as “one of the foremost authorities on the Negro League,” and appreciated by the players. “He is a white kid that shines among the blacks,” smiles former Indianapolis Clown Russell Patterson, one of many former players who consider the Tulane student a close friend.


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Monday, Jun 24, 2013
The term "homegoings" refers to cycles, the movement to a place where those who passed before you are waiting, and also where you will wait to embrace those coming after.

At work, Isaiah Owens splits his time between tending to the living and the dead. As tells his story in Christine Turner’s terrific documentary Homegoings, this funeral director—who knew what he wanted to be since he was a boy—brings you along, the camera close as he shares memories with survivors, helps them make arrangements, and then takes care of their loved ones, tenderly and compassionately. Bent over a corpse, his figure obscures your view. He wears blue medical gloves, as he injects “liquid tissue,” which he describes as “probably a first cousin to Botox,” one of many literal and metaphorical connections he draws between living and dead bodies. This lady is 98 years old, he observes, adding, “I’m going to need some Crazy Glue.” Later scenes of Isaiah at work show more, a face being made up, fingers being arranged, watery-red fluid swirling beneath a body toward a drain.


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Wednesday, Jun 19, 2013
Even when his students are forced into emotional difficulties, arranged marriages or hard labor to support their families, Amlan Ganguly persists, believing they can find their way out of the slums of Kolkata.

“Salim used to tell me, “Shikha, there’s a place I go, where they teach art and stuff. Like puppets you make dance on a string.’” Remembering when she first heard of the school inside the brickfield, Shikha Patra slows down and glances up. “So I asked him,” she goes on, “‘Where is that?’” The little girl is remembering an early encounter with a student at Prayasam, a child-driven community organization located in the slums of Kolkata. Her surprise and curiosity soon give way to belief, when Shikha begins working with Amlan Ganguly, the community’s founder and primary counselor and teacher. As you come to see in Revolutionary Optimists, Maren R. Monsen and Nicole Newnham’s remarkable documentary premiering on PBS this month as part of Independent Lens, Ganguly brought to his project in 1996 passion and commitment, a determination to help the kids find their way out of poverty and into futures with hope, grounded in creativity and love and hard work. As impossible as this may seem at times, even when his students are forced into emotional difficulties, arranged marriages or hard labor to support their families, he persists. This is the extraordinary balance the film manages, celebrating the efforts at Prayasam and the successes, while never losing sight of the crises that define daily life for the kids growing up in the Kolkata slums.


See PopMatters’ review.



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Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013
PopMatters is pleased to share the theme song to the IFC series Maron.

If any claim to being the king of comedy in the social networking era means mastering multiple media platforms, then Marc Maron might just have the last laugh. In a career that has cut across various formats, from being a stand-up veteran to a gadfly talk-radio personality to the host of one of the most downloaded comedy podcasts around, WTF, Maron is now tackling TV with his own eponymous sitcom on IFC. Adding to his multimedia mini-empire is the original soundtrack to Maron, which features the likes of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Hospitality, and Obits.


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