One of Modern History's Most Complex and Fascinating Figures

Watch Independent Lens “Bhutto” at 9 p.m. Friday, May 13 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Benazir BhuttoPakistan’s history, from partition with India through the recent death of Osama bin Laden, has been marked by war, corruption, waves of terrorism and political instability. Within the nation’s short 70-year history, one of the most complex and fascinating figures was Benazir Bhutto. Twice elected as Pakistan’s prime minister, she was the first Muslim woman elected to lead an Islamic nation, and while beloved by the people of her native Pakistan, she was reviled by the nation’s military establishment and male-dominated ruling class.

Independent Lens has gathered news clippings and videos to weave together a captivating timeline of Bhutto’s life in relation to the overall history of Pakistan. And on Friday night, WPT and Independent Lens will broadcast the epic tale of Bhutto’s life and tragic death.

Plants for Clay and A Garden That Rocks

Watch an all-new episode of The Wisconsin Gardener, “Plants for Clay and A Garden That Rocks,” at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 12 on Wisconsin Public Television.

It’s that time of year when the temperatures begin to rise along with the bright sun and the grass, trees and shrubbery begin to turn green. It always makes me want to dig my hands in the soil and plant some vegetables. Others spend time landscaping or planting flowers and other beautiful plants. Regardless of the talents of your green thumb, there is always something fun to learn from The Wisconsin Gardener. And, this month, you can find the program at 7 p.m. each Thursday!

On this new program, Producer, Host and Master Gardener Shelley Ryan and her guests explore prairie plants that thrive in clay soil. Other program segments examine the potential dangers of free municipal mulch, organic techniques for home gardeners and a rock quarry garden.

On the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay campus, Ryan visits with Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery to learn about a group of prairie plants that thrive in that region’s clay soil. In Delafield, Erin Silva of NuGenesis Farm introduces the latest organic gardening techniques, including the prevention of fungal disease. Ryan also visits with Karen and Carl Vanden Heuvel in Seymour to see the enormous garden they have created in their own homemade rock quarry.

Don’t forget to visit the all-new website from The Wisconsin Gardener to find tips, tricks, program video and a rich recipe archive!

China's Terracotta Warriors

Watch Secrets of the Dead: China’s Terracotta Warriors at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 10 on Wisconsin Public Television.

It has always amazed me to look back at some of the things that have been created throughout history as tombs. Nowadays we keep it simple with graveyards and fairly standard tombstones. I can’t imagine living in a time when an entire society would dedicate so much time and effort to preparing a place to lay their leader to rest, or rather an army to protect them in the afterlife. I have to say, I’m much happier living during the present day where I can use my time as I wish instead of working day and night so that one man can have a lavish burial based on some obscure idea of divine right.

Mmmmm… Supper clubs…

Watch Wisconsin Supper Clubs at 8 p.m. Monday, May 9 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Talk about a delicious show to watch! This program will have you licking your lips and raiding the refrigerator in search of the detectable Wisconsin fare that you’ll see on your TV screen. Big steaks. Relish trays. Lobster tails. And, as much fried fish as you can imagine. It’s all part of the Supper Club tradition.

Feel inspired to visit some of the great restaurants that are featured in the program? The show’s producers have links to each of them — from The Liberty Inn in Beloit to Marty’s Place North in Arbor Vitae (one of my favorites) — on their web site.

If you can’t wait to watch this delicious program, check out the trailer below!

Alaskan Bears

Watch Nature: Bears of the Last Frontier at 7:00 p.m. Sunday, May 8 on Wisconsin Public Television.Bear and Cubs

What motivates someone to spend months of their life looking for and following bears? Serious question – I can’t come up with anything. I feel like most people spend their lives hoping to never come face to face with a bear that isn’t on the other side of a twenty-foot pit and a cage.

I guess someone had to do it or we’d be left without ever knowing what bears are really like in everyday life or how they interact with each other. Of course, we now also have the benefit of knowing what not to do around bears to avoid getting mauled.


Where no man had gone before

Watch The Space Age: NASA’s Story at 8 p.m. Tuesdays in May on Wisconsin Public Television.

Described as the final frontier, space exploration has fascinated humans for centuries. It was the focus of science fiction until technology advanced and the space race heated up as countries around the world tried to achieve a number of firsts beyond the bounds of Earth. In the United States, those efforts have been led since 1958 by NASA.

The organization has taken men to the moon, sent observing crafts to the far reaches of the solar system and has uncovered countless new technologies along the way. For myself, the shuttle program has been the physical manifestation of space exploration for most of my life. So, as that program reaches its final stages, this in-depth program about NASA’s history comes at a bittersweet moment. But, even though the shuttle program is set to come to an end soon, our adventurers’ spirit and explorers’ instincts will not. I hope this transition marks the beginning of a new generation of exploration.

While the final mission of the Shuttle Endeavor has been delayed, take a look at the shuttle’s mission overview in this interactive feature.

Live music – on-air and online

Watch Austin City Limits “My Morning Jacket” at 11 p.m. Sunday, April 24 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Austin City Limits continues to be the premiere source for long-form television music performances from some of the finest artists in the world. You can always find this viewer favorite in stunning high-definition on Wisconsin Public Television, but now you can also enjoy full program video on-demand on your computer. Visit Austin City Limit‘s video archive and enjoy performances from Jimmy Cliff, Foo Fighters and Willie Nelson.

My favorite show from this season was Pearl Jam. You can watch it by clicking here. Don’t forget to turn your desk speakers up to 11!

Turning Garbage into Art

Watch Independent Lens “Waste Land” at 9:00 p.m. Friday, April 22 on Wisconsin Public Television.

I have always found it amazing when people can find beauty in something out of the ordinary. Not to say certain things should never be passed off as art, but there is much to be said about the beauty of the unconventional. Vik Muniz’s portraits of garbage and garbage-pickers remind me of a photography project I did years ago. It’s amazing how many wonderful things you can see in construction when you aren’t stuck in one lane of traffic on a four-lane street listening to gravel slowly chip away at your investment.

Will technology save the planet?

Watch Nova: Power Surge at 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 20 on Wisconsin Public Television.

We’ve seen the high-efficiency windmills and have screwed in compact flourescent bulbs, but is that enough to make up for years of burning coal and petroleum for our energy? These particular advances are just the start of a technological revolution aimed at providing green and clean energy around for the world. Travel around the globe with Nova to meet the scientists and engineers that are designing new products and innovations that could change the way we heat our homes, fuel our cars and light the night skyline.

Watch a preview of this intriguing program below: