www.whyville.net Feb 28, 2002 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

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Ready for controversy? How about surfboards? Or a trip to the moon? Or a woman president, in 1872!?

Enjoy. Happy birthday, Whyville!!!

Watch the shows and let me know what you think. Email me, the MediaWiz of Whyville!

Click here for an index of this week's shows. And now, the Media Menu!

Friday, March 1

"Now -- with Bill Moyers" (PBS 9-10pm E/P) This newsmagazine show takes on a really controversial topic tonight: Politicians worldwide are calling on the great religious faiths to join the war against terrorism. But is religion the solution or the problem? (Moyers, a distinguished TV journalist, former Presidential advisor and former Director of the Peace Corps, is also an ordained minister.)

Saturday, March 2

"Surfboards" (History Channel, 7:30-8pm E/P) Here's an opportunity to tell your parents that you're watching a history documentary (which this really is, complete with black and white news-film showing people in old-fashioned scratchy wool swimwear), but it's really about surfing. This technology series' title is "Handmade History". And in this episode you get to see original Royal Hawaiian long wooden boards in action, plus modern polystyrene ones that are maybe the only pieces of popular sporting equipment that are still entirely handmade.

"Time Bandits" (BBCAmerica Channel, 8-10pm ET, 5-7pm PT)This movie takes an English schoolboy through history. While he himself is supposed to be some sort of bandit, the people he meets are some of the biggest robbers there ever were, including Napoleon and Agamemnon. Didn't think the French Emperor was a thief? How do you think that huge Egyptian obelisk called Cleopatra's Needle got to Paris? And where did the Greek monarch get the gold to have himself embalmed in?

Sunday, March 3

"Gut Busters" (Discovery Channel 9-10pm E/P) This is a documentary about eating habits. Bad ones. So bad that the show's rated TV-PG. Watch it with your parents, take careful notes and never do anything you see here. You'll be helped to curb some of your appetites -- maybe permanently -- by scenes which use x-ray and flouroscope technology to demonstrate the effects of eating 120 jalapeno peppers at one sitting. The title of the show refers to contests where people indulge in competitive eating contests -- artichokes in CA, smelt in WA, oysters in CT, hamburgers in NJ, ribs in TX and curd in WI. Etcetera ad nauseum.

Monday, March 4

"Five Days Of Snakes: United Snakes Of America" (National Geographic Channel 8-9pm ET, 5-6pm PT) This is the first of five snake documentaries in this time slot this week. This one reports on snake beauty queens in West Texas, the national snake breeders' Expo in West Palm Beach FL, serpent handlers in the Appalachians, and snakebite doctors in California. On Tuesday, March 4, "King Cobra" features this creature, whose bite can kill 100 people. Wednesday, it's "The Snake Hunter: USA", following herpetologist Rom Whitaker after rattlers in upstate New York (and further yet -- into Canada, presumably without letting the people who named the show notice certain border signs). Thursday, it's "Jungle Snakes" in Guam and Myanmar. Friday, it's "Snake Hunter: Costa Rica" where we follow Whitaker again, in search of the bushmaster, a 12 foot long snake, immensely endowed with venom supplies and appropriately long fangs.

"From The Earth To The Moon: Le Voyage Dans La Lune" (HBO, 3-4pm ET, 6-7pm PT, also airing at these times on the Spanish lanaguage HBO Channel) This unusual program is the final episode of the dramatic Tom Hanks-produced miniseries about the first moon landing. In this episode he appears, heavily disguised as a French man in his eighties recalling when he was a film maker in 1902 working on the first science-fiction movie about space travel. That rare, wonderfully weird movie was made based on a Jules Verne novel. Did you know that 100 years before America launched its moonshot from Florida Verne had predicted that we would do so -- from that very state -- in his novel, "From The Earth To The Moon"? The book is a fun read. The TV program is beautiful, and like several of Hank's movies, contains scenes that young and old will remember fondly and usefully for the rest of their lives. Available on video and DVD.

"Building The Impossible: The First Submarine" (The Learning Channel, 10-11pm E/P) In this documentary you learn that King James I of England (the one who had the Bible translated into English) was also responsible for the construction of the first submarine. That was back in 1620, and although the sub's plans have been lost, a modern team of British physicists, structural engineers and materials scientists recently tried to duplicate what the King's engineers did back then. The trick was to do it with 17th century scientific knowledge and materials. There's a spendid website about how they did this at http://tlc.discovery.com/convergence/submarine/submarine.html.

Tuesday, March 5

"High Tech Weapons: Anti-Missile Defense" (History Channel, 9-10pm E/P) This is the first of five documentaries about defense technology airing in this time slot through Friday March 8. This one is about the Nike (no connection with the shoe company) system back in the 1950's, the ABM system of the '70's and the new $60 billion "Star Wars" technology that the Pentagon is trying to develop. The other episodes cover remote controlled drone airplanes, cruise missiles, new monster tanks.

Wednesday, March 6

"Victoria Woodhull: Ahead Of Her Time" (Lifetime Channel, 4-5am E/P) Yes, that's a terrible hour. But this is a really neat documentary and it's about time you learned how to program your VCR to catch such things. Airing during Women's History Week, this is the story of the first woman to run for U.S. President, own a financial brokerage firm, or publish a newspaper. Married to the first of 3 husbands at 14, she led such an adventurous life that, for instance, the day her name appeared on the ballot for President in 1872, she was in jail. Try the website http://lifetimetv.com/shows/intimate/port9941_2.html for further details.

"AIDS: A Changing Epidemic" and "AIDS: Ending The Epidemic" (Discovery Channel, 9-9:30 a.m. E/P and 9:30-10 a.m. E/P) Yes, another pair of shows that may require using your VCR. But this topic is both important and also is being carefully presented in a way that teachers in grades 9 and up could be able to use it for classroom discussion. Try taping it and bringing it in to your teacher for health class. The documentaries explain how AIDS is rapidly changing from a disease confined to gay white men to the leading cause of death for African American women ages 25-34 years old, and many others. But, there has been progress against AIDS, including drugs that keep it in check when people are infected and research on effective vaccines. Online information you can give your teacher is available at http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/programs/aidsrisk and http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/programs/storiesofaids.

"Sea Monsters: Search For The Giant Squid" (National Geographic Channel, 9-10pm ET, 6-7pm PT) A new generation of robotic cameras based on new technology designed by MIT and National Geographic, is used in this documentary about a deep ocean search off New Zealand.

Thursday, March 7

"The Phonograph" (History Channel, 7-8pm E/P) Before your CD player, there was the phonograph. Tom Edison made the very first one while trying to beat Alexander Graham Bell in a race to be the first to record sounds, resulting in a thing that hand-cranked like an eggbeater and scratched the music on some foil wrapped around a rolling pin. Because the kids in the movie "E.T." had seen such a device in a documentary like this program, or in a book, they knew basics of audio needed to build a machine to help their alien friend "call home".


Friday, March 1
    Now -- with Bill Moyers

Saturday, March 2
    Time Bandits

Sunday, March 3
    Gut Busters

Monday, March 4
    Five Days Of Snakes: United Snakes Of America
    From The Earth To The Moon: Le Voyage Dans La Lune
    Building The Impossible: The First Submarine

Tuesday, March 5
    High Tech Weapons: Anti-Missile Defense

Wednesday, March 6
    Victoria Woodhull: Ahead Of Her Time
    AIDS: A Changing Epidemic and AIDS: Ending The Epidemic
    Sea Monsters: Search For The Giant Squid

Thursday, March 7
    The Phonograph


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