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'Frontline: Fast Times at Philly High' Follows a New Kind of Shop Class

Premiering 17 July on PBS, Debra Morton's short documentary follows the EVX Team's participation in the 2010 Automotive X Prize, which takes them from Philadelphia to Michigan International Speedway.

"There was a need to engage students," says Simon Hauger, a math and science teacher at West Philly High. "The normal curriculum was boring and kids are disinterested." His answer was cars. More specifically, as recounted in the new Frontline, Fast Times at Philly High, the answer was hybrid vehicles, designed and built by Hauger's Hybrid EVX Team. Comprised of 20 students in an after-school program, they've been building successful, prize-winning vehicles for 12 years, competing with other high schools, universities, and professional teams.

Premiering 17 July on PBS, Debra Morton's short documentary follows the EVX Team's participation in the 2010 Automotive X Prize, which takes them from the garage at Philadelphia's Academy of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering to Michigan International Speedway. Here they enter cars in the Mainstream and the Alternative classes, both using unusual hybrid drivetrains.

Unlike the usual Frontline investigation, Fast Times at West Philly High mixes observation and interview to showcase the kids' sense of themselves as competitors and teammates. Most of them were skipping classes or assessed as failures before they joined the program. Now they're on honor rolls. Azeem Hill explains that Hauger's approach is respectful, unlike those "people trying to save us troubled people, people who treat like urban youth in these bad schools as people who need to be saved." Aware of their uncommonness, the EVX kids focus on working together, making use of their disparate backgrounds and skills. Loading up for the drive to Michigan, Samantha Wright admits she's not looking forward to a 10-hour drive with a bunch of boys, but, she reasons, "I guess it'll be pretty fun, jpkes and whatnot." As the film reveals, they do have fun, and also learn and serve as role models, impressing the 21 other finalists for the X Prize.

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In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

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Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

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Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

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A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

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Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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