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Thursday-ish Linkspam

In the category of Hollywood is Still Run By Idiots, we have the brilliant plan by Paramount to release Annihilation domestically and sell the international release rights to… Netflix. The Atlantic notes that Arrival, a similar science fiction thriller, grossed $203 million and got eight Oscar nominations including best picture.

And yet, Annihilation, based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, is being treated to zero fanfare at all, with no theatrical rollout outside of the U.S., Canada and China. Why? “Too intellectual.” 

Or, as Vellum and Vinyl quotes, “That sure is a lot of words that don’t mention how it’s a scifi epic-horror movie headed by female characters. Ya know, the ones assumed to be doomed before they release.”

Seriously, how many times do we have to go through this before Hollywood remembers that a) women are half the population, b) women have money and go to the movies, and c) men can watch women just like women watch men. This is not difficult math.

• So… who’s profiting from the success of The Handmaid’s Tale? Not author Margaret Atwood. It seems that in 1990, she sold the rights to MGM to make a movie. When the TV rights were sold to Hulu, the money went to MGM. Anyone else wanna backhand her agent? Atwood was an executive consultant on the show, but that was it.

She seems fairly sanguine about it in her interview with Entertainment Weekly, and says while the uptick in book sales is nice, she wishes her book were not so… relevant. “I would prefer this not to be happening. It’s like that sign that someone was holding up during the Women’s March. ‘I can’t believe I’m still holding up this f—ing sign.”

• Want to know what was really wrong with Michael Jackson, who complained the most about “We Are the World,” the unexpected guitarist who plays just like Hendrix and who killed JFK? Apparently Quincy Jones has the answers. “Be a Pisces. Jam.” (Everyone seems shocked that Richard Pryor and Marlon Brando were lovers. Come on, people. It was the '70s.)

• In local news, fans of Batman will get to fly backwards. No, not the DC hero; Batman: the Ride! Six Flags will let you ride backwards during the spring (or ride forwards as you choose), but is discontinuing the trial run when the summer season begins.

Now here was my question: there’s still going to be one line. Which means if you are among 10 percent who want to ride it forward, you still have to wait in line behind the gazillions planning to go backwards. It’s no skin off mine, of course; I am a woman of curves, so I haven’t been able to ride Batman for a few years. But you can bet CultureGeek Jr. will be on board!

• Did you know that one of the first black writers to work on Black Panther comics was from right here in East St. Louis? But Reginald Hudlin did a whole lot more than Black Panther, which believe it or not was written solely by white writers for his first 32 years. Hudlin also was nominated for an Oscor for producing Django Unchained and was a producer or director on many other movies, including Marshall, House Party, Serving Sara and The Great White Hype. He’s currently working on the film Shadowman and a TV series, Showtime at the Apollo.

• Greenlit: J.J. Abrams and HBO are working on Demimonde, a sci-fi fantasy drama described as “epic and intimate” by the network. Uh huh. And it’s about….? We’ll see.

• Yikes: Robert Wagner is now considered a person of interest in Natalie Wood’s drowning death nearly 40 years ago. (That’s cop-speak for “suspect.”) I could have seen that coming, since Wagner has refused to talk with police since they reopened the case six years ago. It was 1981, Wagner and Wood were in a troubled marriage, and the only people on the boat were the two of them, Christopher Walken, and the captain. Now it seems there were bruises indicating an assault, not an accident. Stay tuned...

Waiting for the Oscars? Yeah, me neither. But relive the glories of years past with Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar Bracket Battle. Except it makes you choose between Godfather and Godfather Part II, and On the Waterfront vs. Rebecca.

 

RIP

• Author and historian Kathryn Fernquist Hinds, a writer and poet who died this past week of complications following heart surgery. Hinds’ works include The Healer’s Choice, a feminist fantasy novel published by Dark Oak Press; the six-book Creatures of Fantasy series and a prolific series of middle- and high-school history books. She was also a professor at the University of North Georgia Explore her work via her website.

Glee star Mark Salling completed an apparent suicide at age 35 just before his sentencing on charges of more than 25,000 images and 600 videos containing child pornography. He pleaded guilty and would have served 4-7 years in prison, registered as a sex offender and remain under extensive restrictions after release.*

Broadway documentarian Rick McKay died at age 62. Beginning as a cabaret singer, McKay moved into documenting the world of the theater, interviewing hundreds of theatrical legends for Broadway: The Golden Age including Carol Channing, Robert Goulet, Shirley MacLaine, Gena Rowlands, Fay Wray, Jerry Orbach, Dick Van Dyke, Liza Minelli, Robert Redford, Stephen Sondheim, Carol Burnett and many others.

Chicago folk singer Jo Mapes, 86, influential bohemian of Greenwich Village to the Playboy Club to Carnegie Hall.

Mickey Jones, 76, of MASH, Tin Cup, Bones, Total Recall, Sling Blade and many more. As a drummer, he played with Bob Dylan and Kenny Rogers.

Reg Cathey, baritone-voiced guest star of The Wire and House of Cards, too young at 59. He won an Emmy for his work on House of Cards and had been nominated twice before. You’ve also seen him in The Mask, Seven and the Fantastic Four reboot.

 

Trailer Park (except the Superb Bowl spots)

“Keep telling me who I am. I dare you.” Oh my, I am so there for Jessica Jones season 2. Then again, I’ve been there for Jessica since Alias Vol.1, because I’m an early adopter and even suffered through The Pulse.

Disobedience follows a shunned Orthodox Jewish woman (Rachel Weisz) returning home for her father’s funeral for shiva and falls in love with a woman hiding her sexuality. Based on the novel by Naomi Alderman.

 

Coming This Weekend (and last)

Winchester, which is not about the fine boys of Supernatural but stars Helen Mirren as the firearm heiress who believed she was haunted by the souls of all those killed by the Winchester repeating rifle. Based on a true story, but from the looks of the trailer, very loosely based. (Actually last weekend, but we missed an issue.)

Fifty Shades Freed, because the best way to overcome your abuser is to marry him.

The 15:17 to Paris, which gives every impression of being a rah-rah depiction of the three U.S. servicemen who foiled a terrorist attack on a Paris train, which the dubious choice of casting the actual men as themselves. No one denigrates their heroism, but being a hero and acting are two different things.

Peter Rabbit, the travesty. Okay, SFGate says the trailers were “an atrocious affront” but that the actual movie is unexpectedly charming, while not at all Beatrix Potter’s work. Okay, still not going to a movie where Peter considers sticking a carrot up Mr. McGregor’s butt.

Continuing in wide release: Jumanji, 12 Strong, Den of Thieves, The Post, The Greatest Showman, Paddington 2, The Commuter and the last trailing ends of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Insidious: The Last Key, and Forever My Girl. I recommend The Post wholeheartedly and will try to see it again this weekend.

 

* If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

 


Monday Linkspam

The closest most women got to the Grammys Sunday night was when Hillary Clinton read from Fire and Fury during a comic skit. Click here to see what has the political side foaming at the mouth.

The Grammys are my annual reminder that I’m too old to be cool. I look at the list of people who are nominated, and I’m lucky to recognize one out of ten. Fortunately I have a coolness-to-old-person translator in my house: CultureGeek Jr., who looked at the list and said, “Eh. I’ll watch when they nominate Twenty-One Pilots again.”

I might add that every song nominated has a gazillion songwriters - one has eight. EIGHT. I can’t get eight writers in a room to agree on what to order for lunch.

But I wasn’t the only one who noticed that only one woman won a major Grammy this year, as Bruno Mars swept best song, album and artist. #GrammysSoMale began to trend, and Recording Academy President told Variety that, basically, “women need to step up.”

No, really. “I think they would be welcome,” he says. Oh, I’m sure they’re just not applying for the jobs, that must be it. Hopefully we’ll see Taylor Swift next year - no, that’s not me being snarky, that’s an actual quote. If you really care about the snubs and surprises, here’s some analysis, and a list of winners, plus the “best and worst” according to Variety (and really, U2’s prerecorded piece was the only rock performance? What?)

Well, I guess that explains why Ed Sheeran’s annoying “Shape of You” beat out four women singing about surviving sexual abuse, religious faith, depression, women’s empowerment… Even lame old me has heard “Shape of You,” and it’s all about some guy lusting after a woman’s hot bod. Wow, Grammys, way to pick something “edgy.” Meanwhile, best-album nominee Lorde was not given a chance to perform, but the nominated men were. Nice.

In the meantime, the telecast had the smallest audience in the history of the Grammys. So maybe it’s not just me being old.

• It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood! Tom Hanks is set to play Fred Rogers in a biopic titled You Are My Friend. A stamp and a movie in the same year - good year for the late children’s TV host. The film is inspired by the real-life friendship between Mr. Rogers and journalist Tom Junod, in which a cynical journalist (what??) finds his outlook on life transformed by the gentle-voiced host. Note that Hanks played Walt Disney last year, Ben Bradlee this year… now Mr. Rogers. Who should Hanks play next? (Don’t say Woody in Toy Story 4; that’s already underway.)

Thor rogers

• I missed the film adaptation of Gerald’s Game, part circumstance and part hesitation to subject myself to a film version of a book very difficult to read. It’s a good book, smart and tense, and also extremely unsettling. I’m not sure how well film could adapt a story that takes place almost entirely in a character’s head while she’s alone in a room, too.

But the director who tackled that is now getting his hands on Doctor Sleep, a book about which I have serious mixed feelings. It’s interesting, but includes such a giant (and, in my mind, unnecessary) retcon to the original novel that it really distracts from what could have been a compelling story on its own. Another major issue: Stephen King, whom I usually adore, spent a good portion of the book working out his issues around addiction. Those are important issues, but they didn’t make for particularly compelling reading. We shall see if the movie can trim things up a bit.

• It’s no secret that the late lamented Prince recorded a gazillion songs he never released, because reasons. (Seriously, if you got something good, don’t you want people to hear it?) Of course his six heirs are squabbling over the estate, but apparently they can all agree on making money, so we’re going to get some new Prince music soon. That includes an expanded edition of Purple Rain including unreleased material.

• If you want historical realism, don’t go to the movies. I, Tonya apparently has only a skating acquaintance with the truth, according to an Oregonian journalist who actually covered the scandal.

• As previously stated, I’m not a huge fan of the current trend in resuscitating shows from the 80s to new quasi-life. See last week’s response to the revamp of Heathers. I’d rather the dunderheads in Hollywood comprehended that what made those shows awesome was good writing, not corporate-designed pablum, and authorize some NEW ideas. On the other hand, I truly believe that the 21st century needs Murphy Brown, with all the snark that 71-year-old Candice Bergen can level at us. (Not so sure about Magnum P.I., but I may give Cagney & Lacey a shot.)

Just to recap: others being revived this year include The Greatest American Hero, Charmed and Roseanne (and don’t get me started) to join ongoing reboots Will & Grace, Hawaii Five-O, One Day at a Time and Fuller House, which is inexplicably coming back. Not so much Dynasty.

Casey Affleck, who is in the Dishonorable Mention Club for accusations of sexual harassment, will not present the best actress award at the Oscars even though he won best actor last year, and it’s tradition. It’s not clear whether he dropped out on his own or was asked to do so.

• What. WHAT. If it were anyone but Steven Spielberg, I would be sharpening the pitchforks and lighting the torches about a remake of West Side Story. But writer is Tony Kushner of Angels in America and Fences, and Spielberg is unparalleled. Some things should not be remade, because they were perfect the first time, but I'm trying to keep an open mind. (Okay, almost perfect. Natalie Wood is about as Latina as I am.) Seriously, would you want to be the actress who stepped into Rita Moreno’s shoes as Anita? Read this piece that interviews Moreno last year about “brownface” and how they darkened her skin even though she IS Puerto Rican.

Still, the casting call makes it clear they intend to cast Latinos in the Latino roles (shocker), but I’m a tad concerned at “must be able to sing, dance experience a plus.” Um. Steven, you do get how much "dance experience" is necessary to pull off West Side Story?

Fire and Fury is the top book in the country for the third week in a row with 1.7 million copies sold. Four more books debuted this month critical of current politics and all are on the top-ten list. Meanwhile 12 Strong, a movie about U.S. Special Forces on horseback in Afghanistan, is now in theaters, adapted from the novel Horse Soldiers. Top fiction this week is The Woman in the Window by A J Finn.

• Speaking of books, a “glitch” in KDP Publishing (run by Amazon) indicated a possible future 50-percent royalty level. No one actually believes it’s a glitch, so if you do self-pub on KDP, best check this out.

• You need this: Check out the 30th anniversary celebration of Phantom of the Opera at the Empire State Building

 

RIP

Mort Walker, cartoonist of Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois for more than 80 freaking years. He sold his first cartoon at age 12 and published more than 100 cartoons while still a teenager. Beetle Bailey was syndicated after his World War II service, personally approved by William Randolph Hearst. 

 

Trailer Park

Black Panther dropped a new TV spot during the Grammys; no new plot points, but it’s not like it matters - we can’t wait.

• Saw the new Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again trailer, which did something none of the previous ones managed to do: made me vaguely interested in watching the first one.

• “Anybody want a peanut?” The late Andre the Giant (born Andre Rene Roussimoff) is the subject of a new documentary, covering his entire life from wrestling to The Princess Bride. Honestly, I’m not a fan of professional wrestling, but everything I’ve heard about Andre as a man and a person is quite impressive.

 


Linkspam

I could keep listing the latest people revealed to be sexist, harassing assholes in the arts - or at least accused of such - or I could just keep repeating, “Tom Hanks is still a nice guy.”

So, apparently, is Robert Redford, as he spoke at Sundance Film Festival this week and said “the role for men right now is to listen.” Sundance is hitting the controversies hard this year, including Monsters and Men, a racially charged police killing drama; Tyrel, about a man who panics when he realizes he’s the only person of color on a weekend trip; the dystopian science-fiction comedy Sorry to Bother You; a reimagining of Hamlet from Ophelia’s perspective starring Daisy Ridley; and a documentary titled Half the Picture about the systemic discrimination of female filmmakers. Plus Our New President, which is about.. exactly what you think.

• Oh boy! I can’t come up with a better headline than the one AV Club did for this piece: “Some absolute maniac made an interactive map tracing all the jumps from Quantum Leap. Now I want to go watch me some Scott Bakula good deeds.

• The richest man on earth is raising the rates for Amazon Prime, but it only affects those who pay month to month. If you pay for Prime on a monthly basis, it’s going up from $10.99 to $12.99, or $156 a year. Ouch. That’s an 18-percent increase for folks who pay monthly, which is largely lower-income consumers. Annual memberships are still $99 a year (which used to be $79 a year, and don’t think we’ve forgotten, Mr. Bezos.) Meanwhile, low-budget content such as One Mississippi is out, as is indie film development, in favor of big splashy blockbusters.

• For those of you who still can’t get over it, Rian Johnson tells us exactly how Leia did what she did in The Last Jedi. I’m not getting into this again, because I can explain it perfectly fine myself a hundred times and the screaming is going to continue. Sigh. By the way, one asshole created a self-described “chauvinist cut” that edits out all the women in the movie. Is it me, or is this crap getting worse?

• But… but… Chris Hemsworth’s contract with Thor is done, and said that as far as he’s concerned, he won’t be playing the god of thunder again. io9 seems to think he’s putting out feelers about coming back, but we should wait and see how Avengers does…

• We try to stay out of the real world here in CultureGeek Land, but The Final Year is starting to make noise as a documentary about the last year of the Obama administration. It seems they let a documentarian follow them around through the trials of 2016 and the work of Secretary of State John Kerry, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes around the world as they advised Obama - including their reactions to Trump’s win in November.

• Happy *gulp* 25th anniversary to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, arguably the best-acted, most well-written of the Trek series (and my favorite by a nose). If I could just get my mind around the idea that it’s been a quarter century since the premiere…

• Speaking of Trek, Discovery has been nominated for outstanding drama series in the 19th annual GLAAD Media Awards. It faces Billions, Doubt, The Handmaid’s Tale, Nashville, Sense8, Shadowhunters, Star, This is Us and Wynonna Earp.

Star-trek-discovery-choose-your-pain-002

• Looks like Black Widow is finally getting her own movie, though the nature of that movie is still pending. Naturally speculation has already begun. As for me, I side with Keith DeCandido in his rooftop yell of “It’s about fucking time you goddamn imbeciles!”

Keira Knightley talks up her new movie Colette, while tackling #MeToo head-on. “What’s been really interesting is that it’s not just this industry - it’s in every industry… What was fascinating about the #MeToo movement was I was sitting with friends who weren’t in the industry, and there wasn’t one of us who hadn’t been assaulted at some point. We’d never had that conversation before.”

Highlights (or lowlights) of the SAG Awards include Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) beating out Daniel Kaluuya of Get Out for best lead actor. I…. might have issues with that choice. At least they didn’t classify it as a comedy?

Frances McDormand took leading actress for Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, while I would have bet my money on Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water, based on buzz alone. Three Billboards also picked up supporting actor for Sam Rockwell, even though Woody Harrelson was nominated for the same movie and that often splits the vote. Allison Janney received supporting actress for I, Tonya, surprising many who had bet on Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird.

Three Billboards also got best cast, which lends credence to the Oscar Buzz. Wonder Woman won best action performance by a stunt ensemble, which is a weirdly specific award.

In TV Land, the lead acting awards went to Alexander Skarsgard and Nicole Kidman of Big Little Lies. The interesting part of this isn’t the winners, but the lineup of nominees. For men: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeff Daniels, Robert De Niro and Geoffrey Rush; for women: Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. These are for TV movies, folks. All the star power is going to the small screen.

For ongoing dramas, Sterling K. Brown wins for This is Us (no surprise) and Claire Foy for The Crown - a bit of a surprise, given the buzz around Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things and Elisabeth Moss for The Handmaid’s Tale. In comedies: William H. Macy for Shameless, Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep. This is us won best ensemble - again, no shock; Veep best comedy and Game of Thrones defeated Homeland, The Walking Dead and Stranger Things for action ensemble.

• I cannot endorse this column in Book Riot, because you should never stop buying books! However, I can certainly relate to “hoard[ing] books like Smaug hoards gold.” My husband agrees with the sentiment as it applies to me, but disagrees with my pronunciation of “Smaug.”

 

RIP

Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Millhorn mystery series, died tragically one letter short of her alphabet-based series. Beginning in 1982 with “A is for Alibi,” Grafton was part of an insurgence of female-centered detective novels, which was to end next year with Z is for Zero. However, cancer took her just before New Year at age 77. Her daughter wrote, “As far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.”

Dolores O’Riordan, lead signer of the Cranberries, died suddenly Jan. 15 at age 46. No word yet on her cause of death, but she had struggled with illness and chronic pain. O’Riordan was the band’s chief lyricist and co-songwriter as well as lead singer.

Jerry Van Dyke, four-time Emmy-winning actor of Coach and many other shows, died Jan. 5 at age 88. His health had deteriorated since a 2015 traffic accident. Younger brother of Dick Van Dyke, Jerry was best known for Coach, but also performed on stage and in guest appearances on many sitcoms.

• Star Wars actor Alfie Curtis, best known for playing Dr. Evazan in the first film, died in December at age 87. Curtis also starred in The Elephant Man and other films, but you’ll remember him as the disfigured guy in the Mos Eisley bar who tells Luke he has a death sentence in 12 systems. Of course, he has a whole backstory in the novels.

• Rapper Fredo Santana, too goddamn young at 27. Born Derrick Coleman, apparently he was hospitalized for liver and kidney problems and died of a seizure.

 

Trailer Park

Red Sparrow has an interesting cast, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Irons. I liked this movie when it was called Point of No Return/La Femme Nikita, so I’d give it another shot. (Seriously, it is almost literally the same plot, but I give them credit for not immediately opting as a “reboot.” Probably because it’s based on a book…)

• Speaking of reboots, we are restarting Tomb Raider next. It looks fairly paint-by-numbers, but you should never underestimate the willingness of gamers to watch a woman in a tank top in the jungle. I’ll give her this: Alicia Vikander has actual musculature and appears to be doing plenty of fisticuffs. I’m always in favor of more women action heroes.• There’s plenty of speculation about Dundee, a trailer that dropped out of nowhere ostensibly surrounding the New York-raised American son of Crocodile Dundee in search of his dad in the outback. The teaser is goofy-stupid, leading many to believe it’s a hoax. But it came from Rimfire Films, which produced the first two Dundee films. There are thoughts that they’re warming up to a Super Bowl thing, which can only be an improvement over this teaser.

• I’m intrigued by the sneak peek at Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger. Never read the comics, but the leads have charm, and so far Marvel has done all right with TV shows not based on Iron Walking Privilege. Check it out.

• She isn’t singing with an adorable crab this time: Siren reforms the traditional mermaid into something a little more dangerous. I wouldn’t mind making it a film, but a TV series? There isn’t much to the trailer, but check it out anyway.


Monday Linkspam

Welcome to a mega-edition of CultureGeek Linkspam, since we took Memorial Day-Week off. What? There were brats to grill.

• Apple Computer held its WWDC keynote today, announcing a number of fun stuff. Among them: Amazon Prime finally comes to Apple TV; the older iMac model gets a boost and they premiered a new iMac Pro; the HomePod; software updates…. oh, just read it.

• A review of Wonder Woman is pending after a rewatch. In the meantime, it’s a clear hit, with more than $100 million domestic and another $125+ million foreign in the first weekend alone. Critics like it too. It’s the biggest opening for a female director ever, and I take some special notice that the record it obliterated belonged to Fifty Shades of Grey. Heh. Actual athletes were recruited to play the Amazons, including Crossfit champions, cyclists, equestriennes and professional fighters. Tor.com’s Keith DeCandido looks back at Lynda Carter as role model. Indian Country Today celebrates an actual Native American actor speaking actual Blackfoot to Wonder Woman in the film. And of course there is a sequel already planned: in America. I’d ask y’all to name her potential villain(s), but maybe we shouldn’t go there… Texts From Superheroes says hello to WW, and Thor admits Wonder Woman would kick his ass. (P.S. Check out this vision of Mr. Rogers wielding Thor’s hammer. No, seriously.)

• Since everything old is new again, Steven Spielberg’s production company is reviving the Animaniacs. This is good news if you were a fan; I was not, but I did not have the outright dislike of the show as I did, say, Rugrats. The article does point out that shows as old as Full House were quite popular in resurrection, and now we are seeing Will & Grace and Roseanne return, among others. Yes, Hollywood has run out of ideas, but zombie series of good work is still better than *shudder* reality TV.

• Speaking of the return of the ‘90s, Zima is back. For a limited time only. Yikes.

• In commemoration of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie (which CultureGeek Jr. gave enormous applause and the critics… disagree), check out the pictures and radio commercial of the 1967 launch of the Disneyland ride. Yo ho yo ho…. Yes, your friendly neighborhood CultureGeek has seen it and a review is pending. Y’all, it’s summer. Things be busy.

• Cancel your plans for the weekend, because Orange is the New Black launches its next season after the trauma-inducing finale of last season. ScreenRant’s awesome Lauren Wethers details 15 OITNB characters you (and the writers) completely forgot.

• The story of the demise of Booksellers at Laurelwood, one of those marvelous anchor bookstores in Memphis, and how the phoenix is rising from the ashes. On the flip side, the New Yorker believes that Amazon’s brick-and-mortar bookstores “are not built for people who actually read.” Apparently they’re like the world’s biggest airport bookstores: the same titles you’ll see in every bookstore. Only 200 titles in fiction, 3,000 in the whole store. The charity sale my church runs on a quarterly basis has a wider selection than the most comprehensive bookseller in the nation.

• Speaking of books, learn the true stories behind The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Raise your hand if you loved that book, dreamed of running away to live in a museum and embarked on a lifelong fascination with the works of Michelangelo. Just me? I was also quite fond of Elain Konigsburg’s debut novel, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth.

• Ever wonder what they put in the recording in Voyager I? Other than, “Hello Borg: Please Come Assimilate Us”? Find out here, as Carl Sagan’s team unpacked the whole of human history and culture.

• Locals: LouFest has added Snoop Dogg among others to its lineup. As I scan the list, I recognize Huey Lewis & The News and that’s it, because I am desperately uncool and old. However, they are celebrating Chuck Berry, which is awesome.

• Nerds of Color’s Denny Upkins reviews why Cassandra Cain is really Batman 2.0. Check out the many heroes of Gotham City…

• And in case you missed them, Annie Leibovitz did amazing portraits of the characters of The Last Jedi for a spread in Vanity Fair. I’m not sure how she does what she does, but I may spend a lifetime trying to learn it. Kathleen Kennedy says of Carrie Fisher: “Harrison (Ford) was front and center on VII, and Mark (Hamill) is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.” Sniffle.


Thursday Linkspam

Rest in peace Chris Cornell, lead singer for Soundgarden, whose death appears to be hitting many hard according to social media. Variety says it is being investigated as a suicide based on what was observed in the hotel room, but naturally it’s far too soon to say. The reaction from the music world has been one of mourning.

• Fans of Neil Gaiman and the late Sir Terry Pratchett will be happy to hear that Good Omens is getting a miniseries. Naturally Gaiman is primary on this, since Pratchett has sadly passed away. It’s going to BBC via Amazon Studios, which goes to show the new streaming model means we may get weirder, more creative and funkier entertainment in the coming years than the focus-group networks have provided up till now.

• On the other hand, the Cannes film festival has banned movies only available on streaming services because they’re stuck in 1999. Netflix submitted Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories to Cannes and were admitted, but then there was screaming because apparently a movie can’t be shown on a streaming service for three years after it’s left theaters to qualify. Netflix offered a compromise, and they're allowed to stay this year. But instead of joining us in the 21st century, Cannes has decided to ban streaming-only films entirely beginning next year. Way to get with the times, folks.

Star Trek Discovery finally gives us a trailer with actual, you know, footage. Some people are weirded out about the uniforms, or the setting (ten years prior to the original five-year mission), or whether it’s Prime-verse or Abrams-verse (it’s Prime)… I’m weirded out because the lead character isn’t the captain. Though Captain Yeoh is pretty awesome. Please don’t suck please don’t suck please don’t suck…

Ridley Scott is now working for TNT, developing a series of original science fiction programming in various formats. TV-movies? Miniseries? Anthology series? No one really knows, but between this and the revamp at SyFy to actually put out sci-fi could hint that real science fiction is on the upswing after years of being reduced to Wargames! In! Space!

• Did you want more Sheldon? Because you’re gonna get more Sheldon. Big Bang Theory spinoff Young Sheldon gets the green light at CBS. I know as a certified geek I am supposed to love BBT, but I watched one episode and never laughed, while feeling mildly uncomfortable: are we laughing with the geeks or at them? But I know many of y’all love it, so here ya go: more Sheldon.

• I can't be the only one really nervous about turning The Haunting of Hill House into a 10-part miniseries. The opening paragraph of Shirley Jackson's novel is simply the best opening paragraph of any novel ever, in my oh-so-humble opinion. The story spawned an entire sub-subgenre of horror stories. So what could possibly go wrong? Meep. Please don't suck please don't suck please don't suck...

TV series Mom decides to spend its $250,000 Emmy campaign budget on a donation to Planned Parenthood instead. Mom stars Allison Janney of West Wing fame and they are using their Emmy campaign attention to advocate on behalf of the nonprofit. I hadn’t heard much about Mom beyond Janney finally winning Emmys (which she deserved way back at the West Wing); it’s about a mother and daughter recovering from alcohol and drug abuse.

• Everything old is new again: Roseanne and Will and Grace will return after umpty years off the air, Fargo is in its third season (roh?), Twin Peaks and X-Files are on their way back again for more weirdness... is Hollywood out of ideas? Are we so exhausted with the dreck they've given us that we're delighted to return to the era when TV was really, really good? Can you capture lightning in a bottle twice? We shall see...


Everything Old is New Again

Was it the Wildey or Beale Street?

What a wonderful way to get back into the "swing" of things! (Shaddup, you've had six months off my puns.) My fiance was really on the spot Friday night: no money and it's his turn to pick something for date night. He was saved with an offer of tickets to hear Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers, a jazz/blues/swing band playing at the Wildey Theater in Edwardsville.

We were absolutely delighted, even Jimmy, who is not exactly a swing fan. The combo is high-energy and clearly having a ball up there, playing all the old saws and even an original piece or two. It's a wonderful throwback to see gentlemen in hats and ties rocking the bass and trumpet, hear a rocking guitar and rolling sax, and feel Miss Jubilee's energy as she belts out tunes from the '20s to the '60s.

Poor Miss Jubilee tried to get us all to dance, which is no small trick in the Wildey; there's a small space between the front row and the stage, but that's enough for a little delight. Halfway through the first set, the trumpeter offered a dollar to the first couple willing to dance. No one took them up on it, despite an entire audience tap-dancing and chair-swinging in their seats.

Seriously, no one could stay still. My calves will be sore for a week from all the chair-dancing I was doing. Even Jimmy was head-bobbing; it was simply infectious. (Why didn't we claim the dollar? We don't dance in front of people. It's unsightly.)

They didn't make the mistake of mixing in a torch song or two; that would have killed the energy. It was all big-band style, but the sources ranged from 1920s numbers straight from a smoke-filled club to Patsy Cline, who surprisingly adapts well to a jazz combo.

By the set break, I knew I wanted to snag their CD if it was anything like a sane price. To my shock, it was a mere $10. I've never seen a live-performance CD that cheap, and you better believe we snagged it. It includes several numbers they performed that night, with a couple extras that'll make you dance around your living room.

Miss Jubilee started out a little awkward and stiff; I wondered if she was actually nervous, playing a new town and new venue. If so, she loosened up by the third number. And after the set break, they were hot, folks. If you weren't there, you missed a gem of a show.

Extra credit has to go to Jacob the guitarist, who didn't get all the same showboat moments as the trumpet or sax, but has some serious chops. The bassist has some great showmanship, able to play and spin the bass with a wink and smile. The keyboard and sax players were awesome, and we were only disappointed that the drummer didn't get to do a real solo. We could tell he had the stuff.

It may have taken most of the show, but by the last number Miss Jubilee had finally broken through our staid Edwardsville composure and couples popped up to dance in the aisles and in front of the stage. It was wonderful and hilarious - such delightful energy I haven't felt since I was a twentysomething walking up and down Beale Street listening to the hot jazz and cool blues filtering out into the night air. Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers made me twenty again for an hour and a half, and that's a wonderful gift.

And the trumpeter made good on his offer: the first couple on their feet got a dollar.

An encore later, the show was over and more CDs were flowing. My only regret was that we were clearly the youngest people in the audience; this flawless performance was almost entirely witnessed by people old enough to have heard these pieces the first time around. When I think of the boring, talentless tripe my son and his friends listen to, I want to march them all back to the Wildey kicking and screaming to hear what real music sounds like.

No, this isn't a music column and I'm not really a music reviewer, as this probably shows. But everything old is new again, and watching popular culture is what I do. If the clear popularity of a group like Miss Jubilee is a sign that nostalgia is the new wave, it can only bode well for our entertainment.

Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers is based in St. Louis and performs every Sunday at Rue Lafayette; every Wednesday at Schlafly Bottleworks; and every Thursday at Thaxton Speakeasy. Their CDs are available at Rue Lafayette, Euclid Records and Vintage Vinyl. In fact, they play tonight at Beale on Broadway. You owe it to yourself to check out a show.