A Collection of Selves

Watch Masterpiece Classic “Any Human Heart” at 9:00 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20 on Wisconsin Public Television.  Encore Monday at 10:00 p.m.

The intriguing idea behind this series is that throughout life we become different people.  Who we actually are at the end of it all is a “collection of selves”.  This makes Any Human Heart extremely interesting to me because I couldn’t agree with that theory more.  It’s amazing to look back on life and see the different people you have been.  Every couple years you meet new friends and drift away from the old.  You might change jobs, start listening to an entirely different genre of music or even move to a new place.  And with every change in life, we adapt just a little and become a new person.  Perhaps that’s why the elderly are considered ‘wise’, they have lived so many lives and experienced everything in all of them.

A few good laughs

Watch WPT Home Theater: City Slickers at 11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Who would have guessed 20 years ago that a seemingly innocuous comedy about three men trying to cope with midlife crises would become one of Hollywood’s beloved comedies? There is something about City Slickers‘ creative mix of Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Jack Palance and a storyline that brings them all together on a western cattle drive that continues to resonate with audiences. The laughs are hearty and even on repeat viewings, I find myself chuckling at new gags as the men make their way through the harrowing journey. But, one of the keys to City Slickers’ lasting longevity is that beneath the chuckles is a heartfelt story, too.

Enjoy the movie’s original trailer below and then tune in to watch the film Friday night.

Petey Greene's Washington

Watch Independent Lens “Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene” at 9:00 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Petey Greene and Independent Lens… All I can imagine is the movie Private Parts based on the life of Howard Stern, but with higher production value.  After all, Howard did make appearances on the show and when each of them was finally given a break they became icons of their time and changed the standards for radio and TV.  It’s amazing to see one of the people behind it all.  Not only was he a community activist and advocate for much needed change, but he opened the door for future generations of entertainers.  From the streets to the military, from drugs to prison and finally to TV, Petey shed light on the topics everyone ignored and said the things others were too afraid to.  Sufficiently intrigued? I found a little sample and added it below just in case you were still contemplating how to spend your Friday night.

Where no man has gone before

Watch Pioneers of Television: Science Fiction at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15 on Wisconsin Public Television.

It seems like television can take us anywhere. And, there is one genre of creative television that propels viewers into the stratosphere and the far reaches of our minds — science fiction. With this episode of Pioneers of Primetime, producers take us all back to meet the early innovators of the genre. People like Gene Roddenberry and Rod Serling transported viewers with their stories to far-reaching places with unique and mind-bending storylines. Sure, the sets might have been a bit more rudimentary than today’s computer-generated special effects. But, the storiess were some of the most innovative ever written, with characters that are still part of our everyday lexicon. In the interview below, Leonard Nimoy (who played one of those lasting characters, Spock) talks about Star Trek and his earliest science fiction acting job.

On Top of the World

Watch Nature: The Himalayas at 7:00 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13 on Wisconsin Public Television.

It’s times like these I wish I could have lived in a different century, when there was still so much to explore.  Just imagine being able to wander the world with nothing discovered and nothing mapped.  Nowadays we’ve been exposed to everything so driving up north for the weekend and seeing a black bear or a buck isn’t exactly a wonder to behold. On the other hand, I can’t really afford to travel to places like the Himalayas and wander around for months on end soaking it all in.  It is for this reason I am glad to see a program like this that takes the lead and lets me come along for the ride and explore this amazing and diverse ecosystem.  You can watch a preview here and see just what we’re missing out on.

Garden Expo Starts Friday!

It’s Time to Think Green! Wisconsin Public Television presents the 18th-annual Garden Expo this weekend, Feb 11-13 2011, at the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center, Madison. Make plans now to attend this year’s event!

Tickets for Garden Expo are just $7 in advance and $8 at the door. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Two-day passes are available for $11 both in advance and at the door.

New this year, click here to find and print an online coupon for a $1 admission discount at the door on Friday and Sunday!

All proceeds support WPT programming and outreach efforts. This year’s Expo features:

  • Hundreds of exhibitor booths selling seeds, plants, books, tools, lawn equipment and other exciting merchandise for gardens and yards of all sizes.
  • More than 100 free educational seminars and demonstrations on topics including lawns, gardens, landscape design and more.
  • A 1,200-square-foot central-garden display sponsored by the Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association.
  • A chance to meet Master Gardener Shelley Ryan, producer and host of WPT’s The Wisconsin Gardener.
  • UW-Extension horticulture experts will be available to offer insight, plant identification and tips to gardeners and amateur landscapers of all levels.
  • Nonprofit groups specializing in mulching various plant species, rain gardens, rock gardens, conservation efforts and more will have booths to share their information.
  • An exciting Garden Expo raffle for prizes including landscape packages, equipment, decorations, tools and more. The nominal raffle ticket price supports WPT programming.

To find a list of advance ticket vendors around the state, please visit wigardenexpo.com. There, you can also find information about all of Garden Expo’s educational offerings, hands-on workshop registration and details on the Garden Expo raffle and available prizes.

Here’s a look at the fun from last year’s Garden Expo:

Dane County Farmers Market

Watch Wisconsin Foodie: Dane County Farmers Market at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Unfortunately I have never attended the Dane County Farmers Market.  It’s actually quite sad considering I live only a few miles away from the Capitol.  My excuse? My friends that frequent the market like to go bright and early, and Saturday is my day to sleep in.  I hope to finally make it out there a few times this year when it returns to the Square in spring, so I was happy to see Wisconsin Foodie doing a piece on it.  After all, it is reported to be the largest producer-only farmers market in the country.  With around 150 vendors in attendance every Saturday, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

I’ve added a brief clip made by some of the students at UW-Madison to give you a taste of what it’s like to be at the Dane County Farmers Market…  Hope to see you there.

Photographing the President

Watch The President’s Photographer at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7 on Wisconsin Public Television.

The President of the United States is one of the most powerful people in the world. As citizens, we get to see the President in occasional televised speeches and press conferences, perhaps as part of a large crowd at a traveling rally, town hall meeting or campaign stop, or — most often — in television news snippets of him exiting or entering Air Force One or walking across the grounds of the White House. These days, Pete Souza gets a much closer look at the life of the President.

Souza is President Barack Obama’s official photographer and his access is nearly unencumbered. In this fascinating program, take a ride along with Souza as he takes photos of important meetings, high-powered events and poignant moments. And, learn how he and his staff tell the story of the Obama White House through up to 80,000 images per month!

Click here to see some of Souza’s powerful images at the White House’s official Flickr feed.

The Life of a First Lady

Watch Nancy Reagan: The Role of A Lifetime at 8:00 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6 on Wisconsin Public Television.

The ReagansTake a peek into the life of Nancy Reagan, the first lady of the 40th President of the United States.  Seen by some as one of the most powerful and influential first ladies of all time, Nancy Reagan’s life is detailed in this documentary from her birth in New York to her acting career in Hollywood and from her time in the White House to returning to California. Her story is told by her friends and family, historians, members of Ronald Reagan’s political inner circle and even the former first lady herself.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about Nancy Reagan and all of the amazing things she has done in her life and the projects she continues to be a part of.  More information on the documentary, a short preview and additional pictures of Nancy’s life can be found here.

The Smallest Bird in the World

Watch Nature: Magic in the Air at 8:00 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Hummingbirds are like no other bird on earth.  These fascinating birds may be the smallest, but what they lack in size they make up for in ability.  Unlike most birds, hummingbirds can use their unique shoulders to flap their wings in a way that allows them to hover.  Their balance and coordination is top-notch and allows them to drink nectar from plants even when they’re moving.  Even more impressive, hummingbirds can actually fly upside down for a brief moment.  Don’t miss your chance to learn more about this amazing bird.  I have added a preview of the episode below.  If you just can’t wait for the broadcast, you can also watch the full program online here.