This week: ‘American War,’ an X-Men relaunch, the music of Waylon Jennings and much more

“American War” by Omar El Akkad (Knopf). Terrifying, post-apocalyptic  debut novel from this Egyptian-American author, perhaps a bit slipstreamish (think “Station Eleven,” maybe, “) on the sci-fi spectrum. It’s 2075 and America is a mess — constantly hot, full of refugee camps, the sky filled with drones and fully engulfed in civil war, Akkad examines the Chesnut family over two decades of life during wartime. Expect increasing buzz for this one. (Tuesday)

 

“Love & Rockets Magazine #2” by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics). Second issue in the three-times a year, magazine-sized (well, more like Golden Age comic sized, somewhere between a comic and a magazine…look, it looks really cool) version of the greatest American comic book series of all time. Essential reading since 1982 for everyone with eyeballs. Mature readers.  (Wednesday)

“X-Men Gold #1” by Marc Guggenheim and Ardian Syaf (Marvel). Given what a Marvel VP’s impressively unfortunate comments about comics, marketing and diversity, it’s not too surprising that the X-books are going back to first principles. This book highlights a lineup that is essentially the classic Claremont 70s/80s crew — Kitty Pryde is the leader with Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, (Old Man) Logan, and Rachel Grey-Summers in the Marvel Girl/Phoenix role, doing super-hero stuff (like fighting the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants). Rated 12-plus. (Wednesday)

 

“Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings” (Columbia Legacy) “Outlaw” is a CD tied to a special that airs 9 p.m. Friday on CMT, the broadcast (and CD version) of a set recorded July 6, 2015, at ACL Live. Look for Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Chris Stapleton, Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, Bobby Bare, Lee Ann Womack, Buddy Miller, Sturgill Simpson, Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Bingham, Alison Krauss and a ton more. (Friday)

Father John Misty, “Pure Comedy” (Sub Pop). We are in an era where a Sub Pop act can have a Target exclusive CD edition with five collectible cards. (Friday)

 Future Islands, “The Far Field” (4AD). Not sure that anyone who saw them on “Letterman” ever really forgot it — Dave certainly seemed gobsmacked. Produced by Dallas-based genius John Congleton, they seem to be one of the most personally well-liked bands around. (Friday)

 Joey Bada$$, “ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$” (Pro Era/Cinematic Music Group). Guests include ScHoolboy Q, Styles P, J. Cole and Chronixx. (Friday)

The New Pornographers, “Whiteout Conditions” (Collected Works/Concord). The first album in three years from this often-stunning pop act. This is the first album on Concord and the first not to feature songwriter/singer Dan Bejar, which seems like a mistake for both parties. (Friday)

Wire, “Silver/Lead” (pinkflag). Wire has been kicking around in one form or another for more than 40 years. Singer/guitarist Colin Newman is 62. Wire bassist/singer Graham Lewis is 65. Wire drummer Robert “Gotobed” Grey is 65. Not only do they rock harder than bands one-third their ages, they rock more interestingly as well. Inspiring, always. (Friday)

Pierce Brosnan as Eli McCullough  in “The Son” (James Minchin/AMC)

“The Son” (AMC). The long-awaited, somewhat hyped, Central Texas-shot adaptation of Austinite Philipp Meyer’s totally excellent generational novel about a Texas family. Stars not-a-Texan Pierce Brosnan. (Saturday)

Kenny Rogers, Kris Kristofferson, Jaclyn Smith among Texas Medal of Arts honorees

In February, Jaclyn Smith will be honored for her work in television, Kris Kristofferson will be honored for his work in all sorts of things and Kenny Rogers, the Gambler, gets a lifetime achievement award from the Texas Cultural Trust.

They are but three of the Texans to be honored at the ninth biennial Texas Medal of Arts Awards Feb. 21-22.  The awards will take place for the first time ever at the University of Texas at Austin.

This celebration will include a Stars of Texas brunch at the Governor’s Mansion, an awards show with special musical performances and a gala dinner.

“The Texas Medal of Arts Awards recognizes those whose artistic talent and generous philanthropy have shone a spotlight on the vibrant artistic culture of our state,” said Texas Cultural Trust Executive Director Jennifer Ransom Rice.  “People from all over Texas and from all artistic disciplines are honored and celebrated as we raise awareness about how vital the arts are to our state’s economy and our children’s education.  We hope for continuing and expanding support for the arts for future generations to appreciate, embrace, and enjoy.”

October 12, 2016 - Kris Kristofferson performs during the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Induction and Celebration held at ACL Live at the Moody Theatre, in Austin, Tx., on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN / RODOLFO GONZALEZ)
Kris Kristofferson performs during the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame Induction and Celebration at ACL Live on Oct. 12, 2016. AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2016

The 2017 Texas Medal of Arts Awards honorees:

Corporate Patron:  John Paul & Eloise DeJoria, Paul Mitchell/Patrón Tequila, Austin — The hair care mogul is one of the state’s most enthusiastic and well-respected philanthropists.

Multimedia:  Kris Kristofferson, Brownsville — Songwriter, singer and actor. If you have never seen him in Scorsese’s “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” you really should get on that.

Television: Jaclyn Smith, Houston — One of the greatest Charlie’s Angels who ever lived.

Individual Arts Patron:  Lynn Wyatt, Houston — Vanity Fair called her “the best little socialite in Texas.”

Dance:  Lauren Anderson, Houston — The brilliant ballet dancer became, in 1990, only the second African-American female dancer to be promoted to principal dancer at a major American ballet company.

Music:  Yolanda Adams, Houston — Pretty much the most popular gospel singer alive, Adams has sold more than 4 million albums in the U.S. alone.

Arts Education:  Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dallas — The company, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, is the only predominately minority professional dance company in the five-state area of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico.

Film: Janine Turner, Euless — Sure, she was in “Cliffhanger” and “Dr. T and the Women,” but she will forever live in our hearts as Maggie O’Connell on “Northern Exposure.” (She was also note-perfect as Katie McCoy on “Friday Night Lights”).

Theatre:  Renée Elise Goldsberry, Houston — She originated the role of Angelica Schuyler Church in the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” for which she won the 2016 Tony.

Foundation Patron:  The Tobin Endowment, San Antonio — One of the state’s biggest private charitable foundations.

Visual Art:  Leo Villareal, El Paso — The visionary installation artist grew up in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and El Paso.

Architecture:  Frank Welch, Dallas — You may recognize the master Texas Modern architect from such work as a lot of homes in Highland Park and some really cool looking schools.

Literary:  John Phillip Santos, San Antonio — The poet and filmmaker was the first Mexican-American Rhodes scholar.

Journalism:  Scott Pelley, San Antonio — Pelley has been the anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News” since 2011 and was the CBS News chief White House correspondent during the second Clinton administration.

Lifetime Achievement:  Kenny Rogers, Houston — Incredibly popular country singer. Actor. Chicken magnate. Extremely good sport on “Reno 911.” The man has done it all.

The Texas Medal of Arts Awards has presented 99 medals to 105 Texas luminaries. Former award winners include: Jamie Foxx, Eva Longoria, ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, Dan Rather, Neiman Marcus, Margaret McDermott, Barbara Smith Conrad, Tommy Lee Jones and more.

Welcome to Check It Out. Feel free to leave your shoes on, it’s cool.

So, there will be a lot of different stuff going on in this blog:

All sorts of television – the great, the not-so-great and “Vinyl,” a show that should really be called

The correct title. (Thank you to the brilliant David W Alexander Parker for creating this image)
The correct title. (Thank you to the brilliant David W Alexander Parker for creating this image)

Movie things that don’t fit in the Austin Movie Blog (cool home video releases, what’s new in streaming, supplementary notes about movie reviews or maybe some of the angry trolling I got about this thing.)

Music things that aren’t quite right for the Austin Music Source (cool band I find on, say, Bandcamp, what I’ve been listening to, etc.)

Books things that might not be right for the Reader (including comics, comics and more comics).

Cultural detritus from around the Web. A place to discuss all that is new and interesting in culture, or old and interesting in culture, popular or otherwise.

And if I use the word thinkpiece, please feel free to send me a strongly worded note.

A word about the blog name:

I thought I was making a horrible pun that maybe three people would get, as in

a) this blog I would love for you, the reader, to in fact check out, and

b) it is the catchphrase, more or less, of one John Brannon, one of the greatest punk frontmen who ever lived and a man possessed of a truly singular vocal roar. He fronted Negative Approach, one of the three or four best first-gen American hardcore punk bands; Laughing Hyenas, a truly mighty indie rock force back when indie rock could mean everything from the Jesus Lizard to Heavenly to Yo La Tengo to Fugazi; and Easy Action, whose “Kool Aide” is one of my all-time favorite Brannon joints.

Anyway, this is what he looks like:

the Voice
The Voice

And this is the photo that made everyone familiar with both of us laugh out loud:

some dude
Some dude

See? Dumb joke.

The problem, of course, is I completely and totally (and I mean this sincerely) forgot about the phrase’s association with these guys:

RIP MCA
RIP MCA

In fairness, that (admittedly Grammy-nominated and very popular) song is on “To the Five Boroughs,” which I do not recall as an album with which I spent a whole lot of time. That said, I understand why SEVERAL people have said, “Oh, like the Beastie Boys song?”

No, not like the Beastie Boys song. And definately not like the John Cougar Mellencamp song. Never, ever that. Ever.

In sum, welcome to Check It Out. Watch this space.