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(Figurative) Post-Holiday Hangover Edition.   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


GIVEN THE SLOW NEWS CYCLE, let's ease back into the week lightly:

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  The Last Jedi easily repeated atop the holiday chart with 101MM.  That's a 54 percent drop from its debut; the three-day drop was an eyebrow-raising 69 percent, but Christmas Eve is a terrible movie day and Christmas is a great one.  The "final" estimate is significantly below some heading into the weekend (I saw one four-day estimate of 118MM last week).  Nevertheless, Episode VIII is roughly in the range most expected.  The Force Awakens had grossed 540MM domestic after its 10th day, but no one expected the sort of numbers for TLJ, which has 2 years of pent-up demand for Luke & Leia, not 30.  Rogue One, last year's standalone, grossed 286MM in its first 10 days (also ending on Christmas).  So TLJ's 397MM is 27 percent behind or 38 percent ahead and maybe that's not shocking.  It's less shocking when you see that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle placed with a strong 52.2MM (and 68.8MM since its release last week), supposedly against a 90MM budget (thou that seems like a lowball estmate for a vfx-heavy move with this ensemble cast; I'd guess it's at least 100MM, which is still economical).  The Deadline account of how this reboot / sequel finally got greenlit is interestiing.  Pitch Perfect 3 showed with 25.6MM against a 45MM budget.  I think people were thinking of this as the last of this franchise, but perhaps not with this showing, despite bad reviews.  The Greatest Showman debuted in the fourth-greated spot on the chart with 14MM (18.6MM since its release).  The studio is struggling with marketing Hugh Jackman's passion project after it's "the songwriter of La La Land" pitch ran into mixed reviews and few awards nominations until the Golden Globes stepped in.  Ferdinand rounded out the Top Five with 9.7MM on a 28 percent drop.  With Coco close behind at sixth, this Christmas the box office tilted heavily toward the family fare and away from the more mature offerings.

DARKEST HOUR is one of thiose in the latter category, detailing the opening weeks of Winston Churchill's Prime Ministership as continental Europe falls swiftly under Nazi domination.  It's possible to see this as a companion to Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, which focused almost entirely on the fighting, while this one focuses on the politcal drama unfolding in the UK, though both wind up being about the character of the island nation.  To that degree, while Darkest Hour makes for decent drama, it's not all that slavish about historical accuracy, and particularly shortchanges Churchill to give him more of a character arc.  I generally am not overly prickly about historical accuracy in movies, but this is a case where the actual history was arguably more dramatic.  Nevertheless, this is very solid entertainment, mostly due to Gary Oldman'sshould-be-Oscar-winning turn as Churchill (as written).  His prosthetics man also deserves an award for creating an uncanny resemblance outside of Oldman's eyes.  The supporting performances from Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ben Mendelsohn and Kristin Scott-Thomas are also strong. I usually like Joe Wright's direction (Atonement, Prode and Prejudice) and the meat of it is fine, tho I could have done with a few less overhead shots. The team is also ultimately telling the story of -- as one characcter puts it -- how Churchill mobilized the English languageand sent it into battle.  The script structurally serves this theme well, turning around three of Churchill's key speeches within this short window of time.  But that theme might have been clearer and stronger had they not weakened the man himself.  Darkest Hour is a movie worth seeing, but if you also want a more accurate portrait of the man and his marriage, I recommend tracking down The Gathering Storm, with Albert Finney and Vanessa Redgrave (which appears to be streaming on Amazon as I write this).

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It's Been 'Round Since You Know When...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 22, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



... with CHRIS ISAAK, live at Universal Studios. Your holiday-themed numbers include "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Hey, Santa," "Last Month of the Year," "Blue Christmas," and "Christmas on TV." Bonus: Dreidel banter! Double Bonus: "It's a Bad Brains Christmas, Charlie Brown."

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS:  Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.  Mental Floss has "The Real Story Behind A Charlie Brown Christmas (and why it almost wasn't shown)." The WaPo has reflections from producer-director Lee Mendelson.

DARLENE LOVE & RONNIE SPECTOR duet on "Sleigh Ride" and "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree."

THE POGUES:  It's not Christmas Eve in the drunk tank (or even St. Patrick's Day) without a "Fairytale of New York."  From 2012, here's the backstory. And at The Week, Michael B. Dougherty argues that it's the greatest Christmas song of all time. NME has 25 Things you didn't know about the tale.

ANTON BARBEAU, an occasional collaborator of the late Scott Miller, crafted his own "Xmas Song."

THE CURRENT has your hipster holiday music stream.

THE ALL SONGS CONSIDERED Holiday Extravaganza.

THE 10 BEST PUNK CHRISTMAS SONGS, according to L.A. Weekly.


NORAD will be tracking Santa, per usual. CNET has a history and behind-the scenes story.

THE 25 BEST CHRISTMAS ALBUMS, according to Complex. BONUS: The L.A. Times rounds up the Merry and the Meh, including the evolving Christmas Time Again, by The dB's and Friends.

15 BIZARRE CHRISTMAS ALBUMS, courtesy of Mental Floss.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY of Christmas Songs.

BILLY MACK: Because "Christmas Is All Around."  ALSO: Is Love Actually is an awful movie? PLUS: We now know for sure what happened to Harry and Karen.

THE FLAMING LIPS perform "White Christmas" as only they can.

WHITE CHRISTMAS: A Snapshot Of The Most Successful Song In Music History.

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS: "The Keep That Keeps Giving."  Not to be confused with "The Gift," which is not Christmasey at all.

THE COURTEENEERS drop a video for "Winter Wonderland" that's not that Winter Wonderland.

CALEXICO: Speaking of presents, here's their "Gift X-Change."

THE MUPPETS: "Ringing of the Bells." Not to be confused with Super Furry Animals.

MICHAEL CAINE looks back at The Muppet Christmas Carol.


JON BON JOVI sings "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to R2-D2 in his first professional recording.

AN XMAS FLASH MOB from the Berklee College of Music broke out into an impromptu performance of the classic Christmas carol “O Holy Night” at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

GLAM XMAS:  I started the month with Wizzard's awesome "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" and Slade's "Merry Christmas Everybody" (1973's UK Xmas No. 1). The circle is now complete.

HALL & OATES: "Jingle Bell Rock," reduced to its molten kitchy essense.

THE MOST COVERED CHRISTMAS SONGS, according to FiveThirtyEight.

16 WEIRD FACTS About Big Christmas Hits.

MARIAH CAREY's “All I Want For Christmas Is You” just hit the top 10 for the first time ever.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS is airing on TNT — for one night only, tonight, though they're showing it twice.  Otherwise streaming on Amazon. Also, a 5-year-old called 911 on the Grinch.

DAVID BOWIE & BING CROSBY'S cross-generational duet o­n "Little Drummer Boy." This historic event was recreated by Will Farrell and John C. Reilly. Plus, Jack Black and Jason Segel have done a cartoon cover

NOW SHOWING: Wednesday's wide releses are Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which is currently scoring 77 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; and The Greatest Showman, which is scoring 47 percent.  Today's wide releases include Pitch Perfect 3, which is currently scoring 33 percent; Father Figures, which was not screened for critics; and Downsizing, scoring 57 percent. Expanding wide or near wide are Darkest Hour, scoring 84 percent; and The Shape of Water, scoring 94 percent.

THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS:  Many people believe human activity is causing global warming.  I blame Snow Miser and Heat Miser.

CHICAGO CHRISTMAS MEMORIES:  If you grew up in Chicago (and I suspect other places), the season is not complete without watching the short cartoons of "Hardrock, Coco & Joe" (a story fantastic, a story so queer), "Suzy Snowflake" and the jazzy version of "Frosty the Snowman."

THE BEATLES fan club messages for 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

TEN OR TWELVE UNDERRATED Holiday Tracks (Some of which already appear here).

A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR YOU...FROM PHIL SPECTOR: Essayed by Aquarium Drunkard and NME.

THE TRON 1982 HOLIDAY SPECIAL, courtesy of Funny Or Die.

THE SEX PISTOLS & THIN LIZZY played "A Merry Jingle" for Top of the Pops.  BONUS: The Pistols' final UK show was a Christmas benefit.

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Pate even had a song titled "Rope Around The Moon," so watch the whole thing. BONUS: Vintage Bailey backlash from warped, frustrated old people at the New York Times and Portfolio. DOUBLE-BONUS: 22 TV variations on It's A Wonderful Life.


RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER:  Pull up an ice block and lend an ear!  Herbie wanted to be a dentistNTTAWWT.  BONUS:  The Rankin-Bass classic continues to inspire ads like 2009's Verizon ad, following 2008's Apple ad, even more so 2007's AFLAC commercial, and AT & T bringing in Rudolph, Bumble, and Santa for 2015.BONUS: The restored original Rudlph and Santa can be yours for a mere ten million dollars.

FESTIVUS:  For the rest of us.  Technically already started, so I can be one of your grievances.

SCARY GHOST STORIES: I overheard Andy Williams crooning "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" in a store this month, and the lyric about "scary ghost stories" never really struck me before.  Took me a second, but I supposed he was referring to Dickens.  It turns out -- as noted by a coworker -- that this was a thing in Victorian England...  and the modern day. BONUS: Krampus, which has now inspired a major motion picture, and a Nativity set. DOUBLE BONUS: NME rounds up 10 Deliciously Scary Christmas Movies. TRIPLE BONUS: 18 Killer Santas From Film and TV.

LIAM NEESON auditions as a mall Santa.

TEN UNFORGETTABLE Musical Christmas Moments On Film.

THE 30 BEST CHRISTMAS MOVIES, according to Empire magazine.

FIVE REASONS Why Die Hard is a Christmas movie, not including the ornament.

HOME ALONE: Did Kevin McCallister grow up to become the Jigsaw Killer?

DRECK THE HALLS: A Holiday TV Specials Retrospective.

23 TV EPISODES based on "A Christmas Carol."

NAT KING COLE:  His chestnuts are roasting.

MAYMO THE BEAGLE gets 210 bottles for Christmas.


27 DOGS That Do Christmas Better Than You Do Christmas.

29 CATS Trying To Figure Out This Whole Christmas Thing, and 29 CATS Who Just Want To Help You Decorate Your Tree.

A SHETLAND PONY in a Christmas foursie.

14 ANIMALS Who Tried to Ruin Christmas.

CHRISTMAS ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND involves millions of crabs.

AN AUSTRALIAN FAMILY shot into the Guinness Book of Records in 2011 after decorating their home with an astonishing 331038 Christmas lights. If the video at the link doesn't work, try this one.

1342 Reads

St Vincent, Curtis Harding, Hiss Golden Messenger, Goats   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, December 21, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


EURYTHMICS'. Dave Stewart declares "Christmas is For Lovers".

ST VINCENT stops by WFUV for a chat and mini-set.

CURTIS HARDING stopped by World Cafe for a chat and mini-set.

HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER, Live at the Bowery Ballroom, Dec. 7, 2017.

BLOSSOMS shares a cover of McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" that imho is a big improvement.


KENDRA SMITH rejoined THE DREAM SYNDICATE on "Too Little Too Late" in L.A.

R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Mike Mills talk about "Try Not to Breathe" on the Song Exploder podcast.

THE HORRORS talk to Under The Radar about the fifth album which could have split them up.

THE BEST RESSUES of 2017, according to All Songs Considered.

IN MEMORIAM: NPR collects World Cafe performaces from some of the artists we lost in 2017.


T.J. MILLER's  animated series The Gorburger Show has been canceled by Comedy Central after one season, ostensibly unrelated to allegations of sexual misconduct in college.

GARY GODDARD, Hollywood producer, is accused of sexual misconduct by 8 former child actors.

MATT DAMON skipped the Downsizing premiere after taking flak for comments about Hollywood's  sexual misconduct scandals.

MINDY KALING welcomed her first child, a baby girl named Katherine Kaling, on Dec. 15.

VAL KILMER talks about battling cancer and more...

HUGH JACKMAN talks about his marriage.

CATT SADLER: Longtime E! News host has said goodbye after learning her male co-host was paid twice as much as she.

LEONARDO DICAPRIO is -- and I know this is tough to believe -- hooking up with another young model.

CHAPPAQUIDDICK dropped a trailer online.


GOAT YOGA comes to stressed travelers at the Denver airport.

LOUD ORGIES OF MEXICAN FISH could deafen dolphins, say scientists.

THE BATTLE to contain Africa's venomous snakes.

ABANDONED PETS swamp shelters in post-hurricane Puerto Rico.

1564 Reads

Pre-Holiday "News" is Slow. But Things.   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


DARLENE LOVE's final "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)" for Letterman.

THE NATIONAL plays a mini-set on KEXP.

BENJAMIN BOOKER plays a mini-set on KEXP.


FIRST AID KIT covers Lorde's "Perfect Places."


YO LA TENGO backs MICHAEL SHANNON & FRED ARMISEN on Suicide's "Ghost Rider."

PAUL McCARTNEY is vlogging on Instagram.


MICRODISNEY is reuiniting after 30 years. My Mom was a fan.

WOLF ALICE is profiled Under The Radar.

THE BEST SONGS of 2017, per Said The Gramaphone.

LARGEHEARTED BOY's Favorite Albums of 2017.

THE GUMMY AWARDS results are announced.


T.J. MILLER (Silicon Valley) is accused of hitting and sexually assaulting a woman while in college.  He denies the claim.

MATT DAMON thinks the men in Hollywood who aren't sexual predators should be talked about more.

LADY GAGA is set for a 100MM Vegas run.

THE OFFICE: Returning to NBC?

JOHN LEGEND has been tapped for the title role in NBC's live staging of Jesus Christ Superstar, set for Easter Sunday. 

EVA LONGORIA and husband Jose Baston are expecting their first child together.

HEATHER NORTH, the longtime voice of the danger-prone Daphne Blake on TV's Scooby-Doo, has died.  She was 71.


SEVEN THINGS All Corgi Owners Know.


A COCKERELL, chased by a man with a golf club.

GOATS perform all your holiday favorites.

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Stars, Hanson, Lo Moon, Cat + Lynx   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


KIM WILDE drunkenly warbles "Kids In America" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" on the subway.

STARS stopped by WFUV's Studio A for a chat and mini-set.

HANSON plays a Holiday Tiny Desk Concert.

LO MOON plays a mini-set at KXT.


AVEY TARE (Animal Collective) shares a video for “Ms. Secret.”

OASIS gets a two-hour discussion on Political Beats with columnist Stephen Miller, which includes a very funny bit on Noel editing his own Wikipedia entry.

MICHAEL McDONALD talks to World Cafe about how he (and his kids) feel about having impressions done of his voice on late-night television, and being parodied in a web series about yacht rock.

JASON ISBELL & AMANDA SHIRES talk to The Record about speaking up.

AQUARIUM DRUNKARD's Year in Review 2017.


ANNA KOURNIKOVA & ENRIQUE IGLESIAS are first-time parents after a secret pregnancy.

JOHNNY DEPP and his former lawyers are suing each other.

THE LAST JEDI: Skywalker unlike the galaxy has never seen. (Spoilers.)

RIDLEY SCOTT reveals how Kevin Spacey was erased from All the Money in the World.

PARAMOUNT carves out territory for four tentpoles through 2021.

THE 20 WORST FILMS of 2017, according to The A.V. Club

TITANIC, 20 Years Later.

A CHRISTMAS STORY: Zack Ward, who played bully Scut Farkus in the classic film,talks about the royalty checks.


A STRAY CAT broke into a zoo and befriended a lynx.

SNOW MONKEYS & SIKA DEER, getting it on... mass hysteria!

WRANGLER, he Yellow Labrador who joined the Today show in 2016 to help educate the public on service dogs, is now joining a K-9 unit focused on detecting explosives

SHEEP. MARY tussle over baby Jesus in children's pageant gone hilariously awry.

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