Close encounters

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The moments I most love the Internet are not when I laugh at a stupid something or come across an odd fact or find yet another something I want to buy, but when—against all logic and intuition—I feel as though the Internet has somehow brought me closer to understanding the human condition. Really good sites that do just that are few and far between, but when you come across them, they are worth bookmarking and checking regularly. A friend recently pointed me in the direction of Media Storm and since she did, I have become addicted to the site, transfixed by the stories it tells.

Each story on Media Storm is told via top-notch photojournalism (and/or video), paired with audio and some text to fill in the narrative gaps. The segments run about 10 minutes long and are free, although longer versions of the stories are also available if you want to shell out some money, which in most cases is probably worth investigating. I say this because each and every story on this site is stunning in its artistic execution, and eye-opening and thought-provoking in its subject matter. It’s not funny stuff, or stuff that’s meant to be taken lightly. Instead, think stories about the Rwanda legacy, a story about an Iraqi soldier coming home, a story about addicts in Manhattan, a story about the children of Chernobyl, or a story about teenage love and pregnancy.

My personal favorite is a story called “Common Ground,” because it hits so close to Charlottesville. The story documents what happens when a farmer finally sells his land to a subdivision developer, the life that the farmer lived and the life that the family who moved onto his land lived, how those lives were different and how they were similar. Just like all our lives, really.

 

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Close encounters

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"Damages”
Tuesday 10pm, FX

After a season-long guest stint on FX’s “The Shield” a few years back, Glenn Close has been given her own series by the wannabe HBO network. While starring in meaty TV dramas is a good career move for some big-screen actresses (like “The Closer”’s Kyra Sedgwick), Close just seems too classy for TV. But I guess when all the interesting movies roles are going to the next Pretty Young Thing, TV’s the place to go. Close plays Patty Hewes, a high-priced, high-power New York lawyer currently trying a class-action lawsuit against a corrupt CEO (Ted Danson). Things get more complicated when her protégé (played by Rose Byrne, last seen in Marie Antoinette and 28 Weeks Later) gets brought into the case in the most personal of ways. It’s another legal thriller, but a dark, slick, stylish one with a great cast.

“Live From Abbey Road”
Thursday 10pm, Sundance Channel

This music show puts musicians from disparate genres into concert at one of the world’s most famous recording studios. This week’s episode features blues rock legend Dr. John, trip-hop groovesters Massive Attack and country starlet LeAnn Rimes. I have a soft spot for Rimes due to her work with the cinematic opus known as Coyote Ugly, and I loved the collabs between Madonna and Massive Attack in the late ’90s. Dr. John is just gilding the lily at this point.

“I Hate My 30s”
Thursday 10:30pm, VH1

I’m still a year and two months away from being in this new show’s target demo, but you’re never too young (or old) to appreciate cynical humor. This new original sitcom on VH1—which has totally become the most reliable channel for entertaining programming over the last couple years, from quiz shows to reality TV to celeb-based comedies—chronicles a group of office workers who are all in their 30s, and all totally miserable. The show’s producers describe it as kind of an adult after-school special that tackles issues of the day, but rather than a feel-good message at the end, the pervading concept is that “Yep, life sucks now. But remember: It just gets worse.” Refreshingly honest! Now where’s that gas pipe…

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