Review: Tattooed Under Fire

Tattooed Under Fire airs Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 9 p.m. on KLRU

“Tattooed Under Fire” is a documentary examining the lives of soldiers at Ft. Hood Army Post. Their lives are documented through the lens of a tattoo shop where soldiers get tattoos prior to deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers share their fear and bravado in anticipation and their shock, anger and sorrow upon their return.

Seen through the eyes of a now 60 year old Vietnam era vet, who signed out of the Army at Fort Hood, Texas, the 25th of January, 1972, Tattoos Under Fire was more than poignant … it was heartwarming and chilling at the same time.

The metamorphosis of the soul that is war is both horrifying and mesmerizing to watch.  Similarly, the ripple effect on relationships – positive and negative – is like watching an approaching storm … one can take cover, but the storm will leave its mark.

In the end, for me, 30+ years on, Tattooed Under Fire reminded me of an old adage: The more things change, the more they remain the same.

— Bill Talbott

About the Reviewer: Bill Talbott is a psychologist with more than 25 years experience in forensics and crisis adult mental health. He is currently a free-lance research and training consultant.

Review: Tattooed Under Fire

When I first started to watch clips of Tattooed under Fire by Nancy Schiesari, I started to see an outline of a unique story that needed to be brought to public television.  I saw young men and women just out of high school who were preparing to go to war in Iraq as they as visited a local tattoo parlor near their base.  There they revealed their American pride, their concerns and their fears about going over to fight.  Then the film provides more revelations upon their return from Iraq.  Each soldier gives their own personal perspective giving us the sense of the human and cultural cost of war.  Tattooed under Fire gives a perspective and an experience that very few of us will ever experience in our lifetime.

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Review: Masterpiece "Endgame"

Program: Masterpiece Classic “Endgame”
When: Sunday, October 25, at 8 p.m. (repeats on KLRU-Q Monday, October 26, at 8 p.m.)

Endgame is the true story of the covert discussions that led to the release of Nelson Mandela, the end of apartheid, and the eventual first democratic election of 1994.

Michael Young, played by Jonny Lee Miller, is a UK businessman who brings together the Afrikaners and members of the African National Congress (ANC). Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Thabo Mbeki, the man who would eventually succeed Mandela as President. Ejiofor does an excellent job of capturing the internal conflict of Mbeki, mirrored by the conflict within the ANC at the time. Professor Will Esterhuyse, representing the Afrikaners, is portrayed by William Hurt. As always, Hurt delivers. The man has never given anything but an outstanding performance and this film is no different. The scenes between Mbeki and Esterhuyse, documenting the evolution of their relationship, are captivating, particularly the scene in which they discuss the origins of fear.

Also notable is Mark Strong who is sufficiently evil as Dr. Neil Barnard, one of the many men who greatly underestimated Mandela.

Finally, Clarke Peters’s quiet performance as Mandela is inspiring. I remember watching the release of Mandela in 1990 as an elementary school student. Almost 20 years later, the recreated scene of his walk with Winnie had me in tears. Knowing how it all ends does not lessen the impact of this moment in human history.

— Malaika Naulls

About the reviewer: Malaika Naulls is an intern with KLRU and in her fourth year of the JD/MBA graduate program at the University of Texas. When she’s not being an academic masochist, you can find her…sleeping.

Review: Crips & Bloods

Program: Independent Lens “Crips and Bloods: Made in America”
Date: Tuesday, May 12
Time: 9 p.m.

Guns, knives, drugs…what could I be blogging about on a PBS station in regards to these three things?  The options are pretty narrow, but the answer is Independent Lens’ Made In America, a documentary airing on KLRU on May 12 about gangs in Los Angeles.

Like most people, I couldn’t say I knew much about the origins of the Bloods or the Crips, but Independent Lens certainly gave me a ton of insight.  African Americans were not allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts in Los Angeles, so they created their own social groups, based on geographic locations, they even had their own hand signs.  LA was highly segregated geographically; a black person dare not cross a street into a white community or risk being questioned and beat by the police.  As time progressed, the Community got fed up with the racism; they rioted, hence the Watts riot lasting for five days in 1965.  Following the riots, there were increased pledges to fix the poverty and issues in Los Angeles, but nobody followed through.  With conditions stagnant, family life in these communities was poor; the young came together once again in their geographically isolated groups, but this time, revolving around crime, territory and drugs.
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Review: American Experience "A Class Apart"

Program: American Experience “A Class Apart”
Time: 8 p.m.
Date: Monday, February 23
Preview “A Class Apart” at pbs.org/americanexperience

When we talk about civil rights cases, many people are familiar with the historic case of Brown v. Board but not many are familiar with a case that is just as important, Hernandez v. Texas.  This historical case that went all the way to the Supreme Court is the focus of the documentary “A Class Apart.”

Earlier this month, KLRU had a special screening of “A Class Apart” at Austin’s Mexican American Cultural Center. Filmmaker Carlos Sandoval was present to introduce the film and to answer questions from the individuals that packed the auditorium at the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC). more

Review: Austin City Limits Nick Lowe/Swell Season

Austin City Limits “Nick Lowe followed by The Swell Season”
Saturday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m.
Additional air dates: Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 10 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 6, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show at austincitylimits.org

As much as we love presenting new and promising acts on Austin City Limits, it’s great to have a veteran trodding the boards. Singer/songwriter Nick Lowe has earned that designation in his 40 years in the trenches of the music business. The Englishman began as a teen idol in the 60s band Kippington Lodge, which evolved into pub rock pioneers Brinsley Schwarz, for whom he wrote his enduring anthem “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.” Though not a punk rocker himself, the affable Lowe played a role in birthing the British punk movement through his production of the Damned, the Pretenders and, chiefly, Elvis Costello. In the late 70s he inaugurated a prolific solo career with his debut solo album Jesus of Cool and the British hit “(I Love the Sound of) Breaking Glass.” With cheeky roots/pop tunes like “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll),” “All Men Are Liars,” the American smash “Cruel to Be Kind,” “Heart” and “When I Write the Book” (the latter through Rockpile, his band partnership with Dave Edmunds), Lowe continued as a respected songsmith and performer through the 80s. more

Review: Austin City Limits with Manu Chao

Austin City Limits “Manu Chao”
Friday, Jan. 30, at 11 p.m.
Preview the show at austincitylimits.org

Though not a common name in households whose primary language is English, Manu Chao  is one of the world’s bestselling musicians in the vaguely-monikered “Latin alternative” movement. A truly multicultural artist, Chao’s work combines punk rock, salsa, reggae, ska, French chanson and Algerian raï, among other styles, and he’s as likely to sing in Portuguese, Arabic and Wolof as in Spanish, French or English (or some combination of the above). Born in Paris to parents of Basque and Galician origin, Chao grew up in a multilingual household often visited by artists, intellectuals and political activists. As a teen he was entranced by the 70s U.K. punk scene, particularly the Clash, and formed his first band in the mid-80s. With his brother and cousin, Chao moved on to the ambitious, wildly eclectic Mano Negra, with whom he signed to Virgin Records, toured Europe and the Americas, had a French hit single “Mala Vida,” and went top 5 in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. After Mano Negra’s demise, Chao drifted around South America with his guitar and a 4-track recorder, researching and absorbing the roots music of his heritage. His solo career launched in 1998 with the award-winning album Clandestino, followed in 2001 by the European hit Próxima Estación: Esperanza. In 2006, Chao set about conquering America, with tours that culminated in well-received sets at the 2006 Lollapalooza and 2007 Coachella festivals. We’ve been chasing after him for a couple of years, and now, in alignment with the release of his latest album La Radiolina and his appearance at the 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festival, we’re pleased to finally showcase this unique artist live from Studio 6A.

- Michael Toland

About the Reviewer: Michael Toland is manager of national productions for KLRU and contributes music reviews to several online and print publications.

Review: Austin City Limits with Foo Fighters

Program: Austin City Limits
Date: Saturday, Jan. 17
Time: 7 p.m.
Also Airs: Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 10 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 23
Preview the show: AustinCityLimits.org

Few bands striding the modern rock landscape can match the mix of mainstream popularity and critical credibility as the Grammy-laden Foo Fighters . Bandleader Dave Grohl had been quietly amassing a catalog of songs while still drumming for alt.rock kingpins Nirvana. When Nirvana dissolved following Kurt Cobain’s suicide, Grohl began recording his tunes in earnest. After his demo tape sparked an industry bidding war, Grohl signed to Capitol and released the self-titled debut Foo Fighters. Grohl formed a band to tour the record and, barring a few personnel changes, has been making albums and hitting the road ever since. Acclaimed bestsellers like In Your Honor, There is Nothing Left to Lose and The Colour and the Shape sprinkled the radio with hits “Big Me,” “Monkey Wrench,” “This is a Call,” “Best of You,” “My Hero,” “Learn to Fly” and more. Now the band brings its smooth blend of loud/soft dynamics and hard-rocking melodies to Austin City Limits’ studio 6A in support of its Grammy-winning latest album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, featuring the hits “Long Road to Ruin,” “Let It Die” and “The Pretender.”

- Michael Toland

About the Reviewer: Michael Toland is manager of national productions for KLRU and contributes music reviews to several online and print publications.

Review: Frontline online

Program: Frontline
Web site: PBS.org/frontline

Whenever I tag promos at KLRU, Frontline is always a show that stands out to me.  They always have topics relevant to today’s world.  Whether its social changes in China, the 2008 election, Hugo Chavez’ Venezuela or the struggle to maintain America’s retirement funds, Frontline always has the latest and greatest information.  As I’ve said in previous blog posts, I do not have much time to watch television, so the internet is a resource I frequently use to keep up to date with the times. more

Review: Independent Lens "Atom Smashers"

Program: Independent Lens “Atom Smashers”
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 25
Time: 9:30 p.m.

Just the name alone made me want to see how and why scientists are smashing atoms. As far as I knew smashing atoms only resulted in big explosions that ended a world war. I was quickly put in my place as the scientists from the Illinois based Fermilab explained how destructing atoms can help identify questions like how and why matter even exists. That’s a pretty big question so I was hooked.

Do you remember a few months ago, reading “news” stories about how the Swiss were going to blow up the world with their own “atom smasher” or Large Hadron Collider? As far as I can tell, the world didn’t end when they flipped the switch on earlier this year and the LHC seems well on it’s way to making some amazing discoveries as a result of creating such a huge project. more