Fist fights and guns in Congress… robber barons roaming the land… bombs exploding in the streets… a boisterous, snaggle-toothed press corps… this was how it was in America a decade into the 1900s, when close pals Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft broke up their friendship. Happens all the time, you might say, but in this case the break-up so crippled the progressive wing of the Republican Party that Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected president, changing the course of history.
Popular, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin tells me how the muckraking media zeroed in on corruption high and low, causing Roosevelt to enact reforms instead of handling the rich, famous and powerful with kid gloves. These are lessons for today, she says.
Once in a while, your past catches up to you. That might not be a good thing if long ago, you were up to no good. But if, as a teenager, you had been part of a talented folk-rock band called Hand, and today you found out that a recording you made back then had become a collector’s item, and that your music was on iTunes, and that music lovers and record-producers were looking for you -- it just might make your day.
Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 9:35 am
For the past several weeks, the video game industry has been embroiled in a heated, sometimes ugly, debate, under the hashtag #Gamergate.
It's a debate about a lot of things and it involves a lot of people, but at its heart, #Gamergate is about two key things: ethics in video game journalism, and the role and treatment of women in the video game industry — an industry that has long been dominated by men.
In 1966, Jimmy James, a guitarist working as a sideman in R&B bands, is discovered by Linda Keith, a 20-year-old music insider. She helps him move to London, where he developed his own sound. During that year, he transformed himself into an electrifying performer known as Jimi Hendrix.
Hendrix formed his band The Jimi Hendrix Experience, recorded his first album Are You Experienced, and soon became a star.
Living in Hartford almost all my life I've known for years the story of Horace Wells. At least, I know the story I know, which is that Wells was a Hartford dentist who introduced anesthesia. He may have been the first but I've always known there were other pretenders to that crown.
I also knew that Wells became addicted to one of those products and died a horrible, tragic and ignominious death.
But, that's all I knew and I wondered how widely known that story was.
Hartford's West End Blend has released its first EP, making you want to raise your hands and get up off your chairs. As shown in the music video to their title track "What It's All About," the 14-piece band is much more than a toe-tapping, head-nodding experience.
Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 2:38 pm
Minecraft is deceptively simple video game. You're dropped into a virtual world, and you get to build things. It's like a digital Lego set, but with infinite pieces.
Its simplicity makes it a big hit with kids, like 10-year old Will Davidson. Last year, Will built a Spanish mission for a school report. He modeled his off the Santa Cruz Mission. "I made a chapel over here," Davidson says. "I also have a bell tower."
Originally published on Sat September 13, 2014 1:27 pm
It seems some TV networks have gotten the message on late-night diversity and others have not.
Friday's news — that Saturday Night Live hired comic Michael Che to join Colin Jost behind the anchor desk on its popular "Weekend Update" segment — shows NBC's venerated late night comedy franchise may, finally, stand among those in the first group.
Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 9:00 am
It's been a strong business year for the nation's theme parks, with a notable exception: SeaWorld.
The company, which has parks in San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando, Fla., saw its attendance drop in recent months. The company blames that, in part, on fallout from Blackfish, a documentary film that's critical of SeaWorld's treatment of its captive killer whales.
You're about to meet a very special guy. There's a good chance you already know him, if you were in the generational cohort whose lives were enriched by Schoolhouse Rock. More than any other person, Bob Dorough put his unique musical stamp on that show and its offerings. But Bob Dorough is so much more.
The drive-in movie theater turned 80 last summer. If you haven't been to one for a long time, you might be surprised at how much fun they are.
Here in Connecticut their numbers are shrinking --it's probably some combination of real estate prices, gas prices, the advent of home theaters, and the sheer economics of running any movie theater with fewer than 82 screens.
Originally published on Sat August 30, 2014 12:33 pm
On a hot, humid afternoon, Bob Stewart has called a rehearsal at his Harlem apartment. Six musicians are in a circle in the living room — on one side, trumpet and trombone; on the other, cello, viola and violin; and in the middle, the elephant in the room — Stewart's tuba.
What would Aristotle say about knees and seat backs? There's a device you can buy that makes it impossible for the person sitting in front of you on an airplane flight to recline. That's caused at least one fight during a mid-air flight that we know about. Is using this device going too far? Or is the lack of space in the first place the real problem?
Mini-golf was created for children but today's children are less and less interested in playing because of video games. Nintendo Wii for example, makes mini-golf video games. Now, that seems so wrong. You should go somewhere to play mini-golf. That's kind of the idea, or is it.
Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 3:33 pm
Sure, some of the coverage so far has been about the fear that holding the Emmys on a Monday — and forcing the attendees to compete with weekday traffic — will create havoc. But one way or another, Seth Meyers is hosting the Emmy Awards on Monday night, and there are a few races that will be interesting to watch.
Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 2:41 pm
Listen to the Conversation
Sunday night, women gave the most memorable performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, and Stephen Thompson and I got together to chat about the provocations of Nicki Minaj, the royal Beyonce and more.
You can check out the video of all the performances for yourself, from the triple threat of Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj to the 16-minute Beyonce-stravaganza that closed the show.
Mark Coddington from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin joins us to talk about how events like Ferguson are reported on social media. Facebook and Twitter are not equal in what and how they cover news. Assuming Twitter is the best place to get breaking news, how does Twitter change the way it's reported? How does it affect the work of the journalist trained to see the big picture but forced to focus on smaller, always breaking details? Does the urgency of Twitter discourage them from carefully checking facts? How should Twitter handle graphic images, such as last week's beheading?
Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 2:10 pm
If you've ever been a fan of The Simpsons, here's your chance to see all 552 episodes of the show in the longest single-series marathon in TV history. They'll be shown back to back, in sequential order, over 12 days and nights on the FXX cable network beginning Thursday.
When Katie Perkins, 24, a country singer and East Lyme native, started performing with a band, it was sometimes hard to find country-friendly venues in the area. As part of a burgeoning country scene in the state, Perkins will perform Friday night in Somers at the Hartford County 4-H Fair, August 15 to 17.
Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 10:47 am
Like it or not, television has the power to shape our perceptions of the world. So what do sitcoms, dramas and reality TV say about poor people?
In life and on TV, "poor" is relative. Take breakfast: For Honey Boo Boo's family, it's microwaved sausage and pancake sandwiches; for children in The Wire's Baltimore ghetto, it's a juice box and a bag of chips before school; and on Good Times, set in the Chicago projects back in the 1970s, it was a healthier choice: oatmeal.