Local Maker. At 8 p.m. Tuesday, PBS will air Makers: Women Who Make America, a three-hour documentary which “tells the story of how women have helped shape America over the last 50 years through one of the most sweeping social revolutions in our country’s history, in pursuit of their rights to a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity and personal autonomy.” Among the women featured are Gloria Steinem, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton; Phyllis Schlafly, Oprah Winfrey, Katie Couric, Hillary Clinton and business leaders like Linda Alvarado.
But because even three hours cannot contain all the stories of women’s accomplishments, the production has a companion website, Makers.com, with more video about important women. There you will find segments with Firestone High School graduate Rebecca Adamson, an award-winning economist and activist.
From her PBS bio: “Adamson was born … in 1949 to a Cherokee mother and a Swedish-American father. After dropping out of college in 1970, she began working with Indian tribes in the Northwestern United States. At age 22, she was hired by the Coalition of Indian Controlled School Boards and became deeply involved in the Indian-controlled school movement, which at that time was agitating for Native Americans to have increased control over their children’s education. She has been fighting for the rights of indigenous people ever since.”
Funny Business. Comedian Na’im Lynn concludes a three-night visit to the Funny Stop in Cuyahoga Falls tonight,
Best known through his work with friend Kevin Hart, he has been seen in two of Hart’s comedy specials as well as on BET’s Comic View. This is his first visit to the Funny Stop. He’s also due at PlayhouseSquare’s Ohio Theatre in Cleveland on March 1 as part of the Hart-presented Plastic Cup Boyz tour, which besides Lynn includes Will “Spank” Horton, Joey Wells and LaVar Walker. For more info on the current gig, visit www.funnystop.com. For the Ohio Theatre show, see www.playhousesquare.org.
Conference Set. Bondage and Liberation, a free, open-to-the-public conference about issues in society and the arts, will be presented Wednesday in the University of Akron’s Student Union. In panel discussions and a keynote address, the conference promises to deal with topics “from the objectification of sex and female empowerment, to engaging curiosities within the studies of queer theory, gender stereotypes, race, and economic dependence.”
So just get your mind out of that gutter you dove into when you saw the title! The conference, after all, is the first by the Society of Akron Graduate English Scholars.
The 75-minute panels include Female Empowerment and the Object of Sex (9:15 a.m.), The Business of Bondage (10:45 a.m.), Queers, Oddities and Engaging Curiosities (1:30 p.m.), all in Room 312. Meanwhile, in Room 335 will be Literal Identities and Linguistic Motivation (9:15 a.m.), Crossing the Line: Race and Resistance (10:45 a.m.) and Under Self Construction: The Power of ‘I’ (1:30 p.m.)
The keynote, at 3 p.m. in the student union Ballroom B, is Stumped: The Pornography of Disability by Tim Dean, an English professor from the University at Buffalo. According to the conference, the talk deals with “the physical characteristics of immobility as a means to achieve and produce sexual intimacy.”
For more information, see http://uakronsages.wordpress.com.
And speaking of academia …
Professor Outsmarted. A computer-sciences professor at Johns Hopkins University had an exam grading system that included a sliding scale: The best score any student received determined an A, with the other students’ scores scaled accordingly. That is, if the highest possible score is 100, but no student does better than 50, then 50 is an A.
But, as the student-run Johns Hopkins News-Letter reported, all the students in three of the professor’s classes skipped the final exam, so the highest score was a zero — and everyone got an A.
Students pulled off the plan by using social media — and just plain social behavior, the News-Letter said: “The day of the exam, all the students arrived half an hour early and stood outside the doors to make sure no one went into the exam room.”
The professor, Peter Froehlich, has changed his grading system to prevent future boycotts.
Is Idol Back on Track? It’s still early in the 12th season of American Idol, and the potential for disaster remains. But there have also been some positive signs.
New judges Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj have proven good additions to the team. Minaj’s pointed comments in particular have even given Randy Jackson a reason to be Mr. Crankypants at times. The only judge who seems at sea right now is Mariah Carey, so fixed on her own eminence that she has sniped at Minaj and lamented that she had nothing left to say when the other judges spoke first.
Wednesday’s show, part of the “sudden death” round on the show, also demonstrated a more efficient Idol. Sure, the two hours were still padded, but the expanded time gave the judges more room to comment on the 10 single-song performances. And, dropping five of the 10 contestants on that night (a practice that continues into next week’s shows) kept the process moving.
That’s not to say it is all better. More than once I have wondered, like in the past, if the judges are hearing the vocals as well as we do at home. And Idol looks more like The X-Factor in its emphasis on first-names-only in discussing the singers. But I am far less despondent than I usually am by this time.
Finally … People magazine asked romantic singer Josh Groban, what he considered great make-out music. He made it “a three-way tie between Fiona Apple, Portishead and D’Angelo. Or Nine Inch Nails if they’re freaky. Definitely not Josh Groban.”
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Look for his thoughts about the Oscars on Ohio.com and in the Beacon Journal on Sunday and Monday.