KLRU, the PBS Video Game Challenge, and East Austin College Prep

This week, KLRU hosted the first of two workshops to explain to middle school students how to create games for the PBS portion of the National Video Game Challenge. We met in a game design class at East Austin College Prep Academy with students, their teachers, Laura Minnigerode of World Wide Workshops, Anne Fertitta of AMD (a fellow national sponsor), Michael Mayrath of GYLO, a local startup in educational gaming, and two guest speakers: Prof. Susan Empson of UT-Austin and Vicki Smith, a national finalist in last year’s Video Game Challenge.

For the competition, students are creating math games that help elementary-age students solidify essential math concepts. We had Prof. Empson, our elementary math expert, and Ms. Smith, our award-winning game designer, help connect mathematical thinking to solid game construction. As part of the workshop, we had students present games in progress and all of our experts then chimed in commentary on how to beef them up for submission.

Our next stop: Travis HS on Tuesday, Jan. 31! If you’d like to help mentor students in their submission, either in person or via distance, contact Ben Kramer at 475-9050 or bkramer@klru.org.

Get a sneak peak of the new Ken Burns film!

Watch the full episode. See more Ken Burns.

Starting today, you can watch the first episode of Ken Burns new film series Prohibition on the free PBS App for iPad and iPhone before the entire series airs nationally on PBS, Sunday-Tuesday, October 2-4.

Set in the era of the bathtub gin, bootleggers and speakeasies, Prohibition tells the true story of the rise, rule and fall of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution. It was called the “Noble Experiment,” but it was in fact one of America’s most notorious civic failures, an object lesson in the challenge of legislating human behavior.

The free PBS mobile app features 250 hours of free video, including full-length programs, as well as TV schedules, previews and a tune-in reminder calendar. Find out how to download the free PBS Apps for iPhone and iPad here and start watching Prohibition tonight!

KLRU presents a day of Mystery! 9/4

KLRU presents a day of Mystery! for Labor Day weekend. The Masterpiece Mystery! Marathon will be Sunday, Sept. 4, 3:30 to 11 pm. Inspector Lewis and DS Hathaway are back for more Oxford University-based whodunits a complete list of the episodes playing are below.

Watch the full episode. See more Masterpiece.

3:30 pm INSPECTOR LEWIS, SERIES II: THE POINT OF VANISHING
The murder of a small-time criminal leads Lewis and Hathaway to a prominent Oxford don-turned-celebrity atheist, who years earlier had been the intended target of a botched murder attempt. Could these isolated incidents be connected?

5 pm INSPECTOR LEWIS, SERIES III: COUNTER CULTURE BLUES
While on a routine disturbance call, Lewis is shocked to encounter a rock star he once idolized, who was believed to have died years ago. Could her sudden reappearance and attempt at a comeback album have any connection to the murder of a young orphan nearby? Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous) guest stars.

6:30 pm INSPECTOR LEWIS, SERIES III: THE DEAD OF WINTER
The discovery of a body on an Oxford bus leads Lewis and Hathaway to a sprawling Oxford estate where Hathaway spent much of his childhood. Guest stars include Nathaniel Parker (“The Inspector Lynley Mysteries”) as a house guest with suspiciously close ties to the estate owner’s wife.

8 pm INSPECTOR LEWIS, SERIES III: DARK MATTER
When the Master of Gresham College, an amateur astronomer, is found dead at the foot of the University Observatory stairs, Lewis and Hathaway find that the finger of suspicion points at the staff.

9:30 pm INSPECTOR LEWIS, SERIES IV: OLD, UNHAPPY, FAR OFF
A reunion at Oxford’s remaining all-female college ends with the murder of a prominent student, which may be connected to a similar, decade-old case. Lewis and Hathaway must delve into the mystery of the college and its secrets to find the culprit. Juliet Stevenson co-stars. A reunion at Oxford’s remaining all-female college ends with the murder of a prominent student, which may be connected to a similar, decade-old case. Lewis and Hathaway must delve into the mystery of the college and its secrets to find the culprit. Co-starring Juliet Stevenson.

Summer of new Mystery!s

Masterpiece Mystery! Airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on KLRU. This summer features new episodes from favorite detectives as well as a new detective series.

Miss Marple
With a gentle smile and a probing mind, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple often finds herself at the center of trouble — a witness to betrayals, poisonings and all manner of mayhem. Knitting needles in hand and a cup of tea always at the ready, Marple quietly earns confidence while uncovering secrets and exposing killers. In The Pale Horse airing July 10 at 8 p.m., Miss Marple seeks justice, armed with little more than a mysterious list of names sent by an old friend only moments before he was murdered.

Zen
What does an honest cop do when corruption rules on both sides of the law? Detective Aurelio Zen works to bring justice to modern-day Italy, whether the authorities want it or not. Rufus Sewell (Middlemarch) stars as Zen, a Roman police detective hailing from Venice, where “Zen” is a local shortening of the name Zeno. Separated from his wife and living with his mother, he is too frazzled by his job to think about romance. That is, until he meets Tania Moretti (Caterina Murino), his chief’s new secretary. Zen features a trio of spellbinding cases based on the bestselling novels by British crime writer Michael Dibdin. Zen airs July 17, 24 and 31 at 8 p.m.
 
 

 

PBS wins BIG at Daytime Emmys

PBS Logo

PBS was the overall Daytime Emmy champ with 14 total awards, all of which – including eight for “Sesame Street” – came during Friday’s presentation of craft and other categories.

PBS’ awards haul included top children’s series, “The Electric Company” and “SciGirls” plus the preschool series “Sesame Street.” 

The Electric Company (PBS)
Produced by Sesame Workshop

THE ELECTRIC COMPANY is a multi-media literacy campaign charged with reducing the literacy gap between low and middle income families and advancing the idea that ‘reading is cool.’

Winner for:
•    Outstanding Children’s Series
•    Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Editing
•    Outstanding Writing in A Children’s Series

Sesame Street (PBS)
Produced by Sesame Workshop

The people on this very special street learn life’s lessons together, provide viewers with strong role models and teach children that everyone brings a special ability to the community. On SESAME STREET, children learn to use their imaginations, build social skill, and respect people’s differences.

Winner for:
•    Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Series 
•    Outstanding Performer in A Children’s Series: Kevin Clash, as Elmo
•    Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction/Set Decoration/Scenic Design
•    Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design/Styling
•    Outstanding Directing in A Children’s Series
•    Outstanding Achievement in Multiple Camera Editing
•    Outstanding Original Song – Children’s and Animation: Sesame Street, “What I Am”
•    Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction/Electronic Camera/Video Control

SciGirls (PBS Plus)
Produced by tpt National Productions

The goal of SCIGIRLS is unapologetically bold: to change how millions of girls think about science, technology, engineering and math.

Winner for: New Approaches – Daytime Children’s

Schedule change: Obama's speech

The PBS NewsHour’s coverage President Obama’s address to the nation on the subject of Libya will air tonight at 6:30 p.m.

If the speech goes past 7 p.m. Antiques Roadshow will begin immediately following the speech. American Experience “Dolley Madison” will begin immediately following Antiques Roadshow. Morrisotown or Lafayette will be joined in progress so that Charlie Rose can begin promptly at 11 p.m.

Watch the live stream of President Obama’s speech tonight at 6:30 p.m. here

PBS & Antiques Roadshow apps

PBS announced today the App Store debut of the PBS App for iPhone and iPod touch, featuring more than 300 hours of free video, including full-length programs.

Also launching today, the PBS Antiques Roadshow game app, available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, lets players virtually collect, appraise and bid on real antiques with new collectibles from different cities added regularly.
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Review: Masterpiece Contemporary Lennon Naked

Masterpiece Contemporary Lennon Naked airs on Sunday, November 22, at 8 pm

“What do I want?” That’s the primal question at the heart of Lennon Naked, Masterpiece Contemporary’s biopic of John Lennon in the 60s. Forced at six years old to make a choice no child should ever be asked to make, Lennon spends the years depicted in the film (roughly 1964-1971) searching for the answer, aware that the consequences of any choice he makes will haunt him, no matter what the outcome.

As a result, Lennon spends most of the film on a quest to leave the past behind – not just breaking with it, but scorching the earth and burning any bridge that leads to it. Whether it’s for his own sanity or because he’s a selfish git, Lennon either abandons the people in his pre-Yoko Ono life – his first wife Cynthia, his son Julian, the Beatles – or forces them to abandon him, as with his childhood friend/right-hand-man Pete. It’s a cycle, of course – his father leaving the family when Lennon was six (a pattern repeated by the son) and the unexpected death of Beatles manager Brian Epstein, the father figure Lennon didn’t have as a child, left deep wounds which clearly never fully healed. Only his time with Yoko Ono (who, except for one offhand comment from Paul McCartney, is never portrayed as “the woman who broke up the Beatles”) seems to bring him any peace or happiness, though his own inner anguish still vibrates just below the surface of his man-in-love smile.
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Review: Ken Burns newest documentary

Ken Burns’ The Tenth Inning
Part 1: Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. (encore at 9 p.m.)
Part 2: Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. (encore at 9 p.m.)

What the HELL is Ken Burns thinking! With about a week to go in the Major League baseball season – with division and wild card races at a fever pitch – Mr. Burns has decided to release “The 10th Inning” addition to his ridiculously successful series “Baseball.” After watching the just the first two hours(Top of the 10th) on a weekend when my own beloved Atlanta Braves were in the processes of sweeping the New York Mets to remain in the thick of the NL Wildcard race — I was left with such a baseball adrenaline rush that I felt the need to canvas the neighborhood to see if anyone wanted to play a little catch or maybe find a vacant lot to get a game going.

No I’m not kidding. This series needs a warning label. WARNING: Watching “The 10th Inning” could leave you lightheaded and in need peanuts and crackerjacks.

I think one reason for the strong emotion that washed over me as I watched this 4-hour addendum — came in part from the fact that I was reliving some of the most important baseball memories in my life. While Burns’ “9th Inning” from the 1994 documentary relived my formative baseball years (Steve Carlton, Fernando Mania, the wizard of OZ…etc ) “The 10th Inning” is packed with some of my most loved players, teams and moments. It also feels the least like a history. I need innings 1 through 8 to learn about the greats that came and went before I was born. The 9th and new 10th innings instead provide a key to unlock my own baseball memories. I often found myself watching a key game and saying, “…I remember what I was doing then.”

Now the show isn’t all fun and games as it lays out the game from 1994 to 2009. It also has the arduous task of tackling major league baseball’s steroid era. It shows the abuse and overuse of performance enhancers in a very balanced way…almost to the point of sugar coating how it all began. There is also plenty of blame spread around — from the players union, to the owners, to the players and even the fans – who labeled Barry Bonds a cheater while at the same packing every stadium he played in to see if he’d hit another home run. When talking about steroids — there are thousands of opinions to choose from — and “The 10th Inning” gives each a voice.

Overall “The 10th Inning” does a fabulous job of retelling the stories that are freshest in our baseball minds. With its content coming from the most recent events — in an age of ESPN — the show could have felt like a rehash that didn’t provide any new information. But Burns easily overcomes this obstacle. As each story is laid out — there is at the very least a single nugget of new information that makes hearing the story again worthwhile. But most of the time — the interviews, still pictures and game footage provide enough raw emotion and great storytelling to satisfy the fan in all of us for years.

About the reviewer: Ben Philpott covers state politics and policy for KUT News and the Texas Tribune and has been an Atlanta Braves fan since 1989. When he’s not at the Capitol, Ben can be found at home teaching his two girls the finer points of baseball and wondering why the younger one has decided to become an Astros fan

Review: Tenth Inning

Ken Burns’ The Tenth Inning
Part 1: Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. (encore at 9 p.m.)
Part 2: Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. (encore at 9 p.m.)

From the opening notes of the pounding soundtrack of Ken Burns’ Baseball: The 10th Inning, we realize that the game of baseball has moved on. We aren’t watching a quaint documentary about the history of America’s game, rather we’re embarking on a new, sometimes dark, chapter in the story of the game.

It has often been written that the game of baseball is a metaphor for life. The 10th Inning proves this metaphor to be true. Burns’ interwoven storytelling mixes together the highs and lows, the dark and light, the championships and the bitter defeats in such a way that we realize we cannot have one without the other.

Much of the documentary tracks the effects of two key events in recent baseball history, the fallout of the 1994 baseball work stoppage, and the rise in the use of steroids to enhance player performance. Burns not only documents the obvious negative aspects of both events, but also carefully shows how baseball owners, players, and fans grew the game, and created some of baseball’s most memorable moments by reacting strongly to the strike and ignoring the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Ken Burns’ Baseball: The 10th Inning is not just a documentary for hardcore baseball fans. Rather, this masterful film does for all of us what baseball has always done. Through its simplicity, it forces us to question what is truly important to us, regardless of how complicated our lives have become.

About the reviewer: Shane Guiter is the Director of Development for KLRU. He’s worked at the station since 2005. When he’s not raising money for KLRU, Shane blogs about technology and new media, while listing to Radiohead.