The Man Behind the Voice: This American Life's Ira Glass on Dance, Taylor Swift and Pro Wrestling

Categories: Pop Culture, Stage

Photo by David Bazenmore
"We know it's a weird premise," says Ira Glass, the radio host of the very literally titled Three Acts, Two Dancers, and One Radio Host, hitting the stage at the Wortham Theater Center on Saturday night. Best known for his day job as the host of the Peabody Award winning radio program This American Life, Glass is aware that mixing the very visual medium of dance and the very un-visual medium of radio is a strange one.

It's even weirder for Glass, who before this production had no relationship with dance.

"Occasionally I would go to a dance show because I would think, 'I should try dance, maybe,'" says Glass. "But I knew nothing about it, knew nothing about the history of it."

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5 Types of Halloween Costumes That Need to Go Away

Categories: Pop Culture

This image has been cropped. Original, full-sized image by istolethetv
Santa does not need to be sexy or a pimp.
I love Halloween. I have ever since I was a child. I was the spooky kid who was into horror movies and who would plan Halloween costumes for months before the holiday arrived. And I'm still one of the spooky people who love Halloween, although I'm far from being a kid anymore.

So I probably take the business of selecting a costume more seriously than the average person, as do many of my friends. And while nothing warms the cockles of my black little heart more than seeing someone with a great Halloween costume, some people choose to wear outfits that make me wish they hadn't bothered at all. There are some broad categories of costumes that I wish people would just stop wearing, because they're awful for one reason or another. Let's look at some of these terrible types of Halloween costumes.

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Lifestyling the Less Rich and Unfamous: Blake Lively's Preserve

Next stop: blogdom
When Blake Lively's lifestyle website Preserve debuted, it drew the expected comparisons to Martha Stewart (a hero of Lively's) and--more sharply--Gwyneth Paltrow's goop. Pretty actresses turning themselves into lifestyle gurus/mavens/experts with a slick website are bound to draw ire, especially since Gwyneth's goop scoop on her "Conscious Uncoupling" from husband Chris Martin. It's hard to explain the push and pull of attraction and repulsion that makes one a goop fan, but it certainly makes one predisposed to curiosity about Lively's take on lifestyle.

Plus who could resist the possibility of stumbling across Ryan Reynolds somewhere along the way?

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3 Legendary Texas Sideshow Performers to Prepare for AHS: Freak Show

Categories: Pop Culture

Next month we'll see the return of American Horror StoryFreak Show centers one of the last traveling sideshows in America filled with human oddities like conjoined twins, bearded ladies, crab boys, and the like. Beyond that, not much is known yet, but the trailer above gives a pretty good ook at some of what we can expect.

Texas has been home to a fair number of famous sideshow performers, and in honor of their return to mainstream fiction today we're gonna throw in two bits for a gander.

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Why Are Male Fandoms So Hostile to Women?

Photo by Sam Howzit
Here there be sexism

Lately, I've become aware of sexism and misogyny in the most unexpected of place - geek fandom culture.

I was a comic book nerd when I was a kid, but haven't touched a super hero comic in decades, so I was unaware of the dramatic ways things had changed in fandom over those years.

So you'll have to excuse me for thinking that fandom stuff was still primarily the territory of awkward, but mostly benevolent, too-fat or too-skinny male outcasts who are persecuted for their interests. See, that's the thing. I grew up as one of those people, and most of my friends were into the same role playing games, comic books, and horror movies that I was. Some of them were also early computer nerds, so fascinated by the possibilities of the extremely primitive home computers they had at the time that they were willing to spend their time practicing old-fashioned programming languages instead of hanging out with the cool kids at school.

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Amazing Houston Comic Con: A Good First Run

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Jim Lee, co-publisher of DC Comics and well-respected illustrator, works on a live drawing during his panel at Amazing Houston Comic Con.

It's a rare convention that doesn't leave its attendees with much to complain about, so it's remarkable that Amazing Houston Comic Con accomplished that in its very first roll out of the gate.

OK, I do actually have two complaints, but they're pretty minor. Attendees with three-day passes received blue wristbands that couldn't be removed for the duration of the con. That's right: you ate, slept and showered with them, looking like an escapee from an institution wherever you went. It's the only pop culture convention I've attended where the wristband system was used in favor of lanyards. Actually, as press, I had a lanyard, too. At least that I could remove.

The other issue was that the main stage area, where the larger panels were held, were only divided from the main convention floor with curtains. This worked well during the cosplay competition, which was held after the exhibit floor had closed for the evening. During the day, though, general announcements kept booming over the presenters using that area. I hope that next year the main stage panel is held in one of the rooms on the second floor. (The main announcer, however, was awesome, making hilarious announcements like "John Smith, your credit card was found and we aren't afraid to use it!")

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We Need to Talk About How We Talk About White Privilege

Photo by Matty Ring
What do you think of when you get pulled over?
White privilege. With the exception of "Kim Kardashian," there is no other two word phrase that gets people frothing at the mouth in irrationality quicker than those two. The phrase "white privilege" hits a switch in certain individuals and turns them from normal, friendly people you don't mind knowing on Facebook to... well... listen, this blog isn't about name-calling, so let's just say that become less-friendly.

This isn't about shaming one side of the debate, either. Both sides, those who believe in white privilege and those who don't, can be just as mean-spirited, snarky and dismissive as the other.

Which is a bummer, because it's absolutely a discussion worth having.

Because white privilege does exist, and it's never going to go away if we don't talk about it.

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Sex Box Is the Show We Never Wanted but Will Probably Hate Watch

Categories: Pop Culture

Screengrab via Channel 4
I used to think that everyone who appeared on daytime TV -- Maury, The Test, The Jerry Springer Show, so on and so forth -- was an actor. Real life is absurd, sure, but it can't be that absurd. For a small fee, there have to be plenty of people out there willing to sacrifice their good name for our personal amusement.

But the more I thought about it, the more I started to wonder if I was wrong. What's a little dirty laundry aired in public if it means a free flight, free hotel and the chance to be daytime TV/tumblr famous?

Which is why when I was told that Sex Box was coming, I wasn't completely surprised.

Who wouldn't want to be on a show called Sex Box?

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Saying "I Don't Watch Television" Does Not Make You Cool Anymore

Categories: Pop Culture

Doctor Who
Admittedly, that headline is a bit of a lie because saying that you don't watch television has literally never been cool. Ever. So if you claim to not watch television, please be advised that not only is no one impressed, but we're reaching the point where we actively wonder why you are shutting yourself out from the world.

First of all...what is television? That's a legitimate question in this day and age. What constitutes watching TV?

For instance, my favorite television show of all time is Doctor Who, and you can bet all rondels in TARDIS console room I will be tuning in at exactly 8 p.m. on Saturday to watch Peter Capaldi debut. That's not how I started watching the show, though. I started watching it streaming on my Wii through Netflix, gulping down five years of serial science fiction in roughly a few weeks. Was that watching television? How exactly is it different from all the documentaries and movies I otherwise watch through Netflix streaming?

Here's another question that Doctor Who helps illustrate. When the show is off the air, I often pick up books that continue the adventures. Am I still watching television, or have I graduated to reading? How do the radio plays fit in? In that last case, I'm hipsterishly enjoying an art form that predates television, yet it exists because of a television show.

That's the problem when you say you don't watch television in the age of Amazon Prime and Hulu; it is an almost completely meaningless statement because of the cloud-like nature of modern entertainment.

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Bottom Feeder Television. Why We Make Celebrities Out of Reality TV Stars

Categories: Pop Culture

Photo by badjonni

On some level most of us seem to understand that reality television is both not real and mostly awful.

While the popularity of shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo sort of baffles me, in other ways it makes perfect sense. Many folks seem to have an insatiable appetite for the manufactured and random drama being fed to them, and they get to live vicariously through the real life cartoon characters that populate most reality television. In some cases, almost anyone gets the happy thrill of being "better than" the individuals they see in these shows. That's an appealing idea to a lot of people.

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