Cast members of “Battlestar Galactica” — Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Katee Sackhoff, Grace Park, Michael Trucco and Michael Hogan — will join creator/executive producer Ronald D. Moore (“Outlander”) for the closing night (June 10) of the ATX Television Festival.
ATX returns for a sixth year June 8 to 11.
The cast will also be featured in an “EW Reunites: Battlestar Galactica” special on the streaming People/Entertainment Weekly Network.
This year’s reunion is part of a multi-year partnership between EW and ATX, which kicked off last year with the “Ugly Betty” reunion presented by EW on closing night.
So, yeah, someone ask Moore about that whole “All Along the Watchtower” thing.
“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 gob–smacked. 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)
“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)
Shatner thinks Star Trek II resonates because, really, what is missing? “There’s a story of revenge, filled with all kinds of theatricality, and Ricardo Montalban makes a great villain,” he says. “It’s a good film. You’ve seen these characters on television, you see them on screen and you feel you know them.”
But then, that is in the past. Shatner is a man who keeps himself busy. He’s just released a new novel, “Zero-G,” written with Jeff Rovin, about, as the book description puts it, “intrepid, 80-year-old FBI deputy director Samuel Lord” whose “space based ‘Zero-G’ men are in charge of investigating terrorism, crime, corruption, and espionage beyond the Earth’s atmosphere” aboard the space station Empyrean.
“I’ve been talking to astrophysicists on another project, and they think in the same way science-fiction writers do,” Shatner says. “It is the same imaginative process. ‘Zero-G’ is imagining what the FBI will be doing out in law enforcement out in space 50 years from now. That is what science fiction does: It imagines the future, and since nobody knows what the next instant is going to be, then my opinion of 50 years from now or Roddenberry’s opinion of 300 years from now is equally valid.”
Then again, Shatner has done an incredible amount of stuff over the years, some of which has faded, some of which has resonated. “I did a couple of Twilight Zones that remain popular whenever the show is rerun, and I sort of wonder why,” Shatner says. “But, again, it’s the story. There’s one about a little furry creature on a wing of a plane (“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”) that’s played again and again. Why it is one of the more popular ones, I don’t know. The fear of flying, maybe? Every so often you do something that touches a universal nerve.”
He even had a recent hit with the semi-scripted reality show “Better Late that Never,” which teamed him with Henry Winkler, George Foreman, Terry Bradshaw and younger comedian Jeff Dye. “NBC said, how would you like to go to Asia, and of course I said yes. All I knew is that I was going to go to a part of the world that I had longed to go to. … It was all taken care of. All you had to do was show up and be amusing. And these guys together turned out to be hysterical.”
And, yes, while Shatner is best known for dramatic (or melodramatic parts) such as Captain Kirk, he considers himself as much a comedian as a dramatic actor (see also Denny Crane). “I’m basically a comic,” he says “I did some stand-up in New York at the Gotham Comedy Club, and it was great! In their words, I murdered.”
Hey, that’s terrific.
“No, I murdered, it’s better than terrific.”
The show that is perhaps most “near and dear to my heart,” as he puts it, is “Shatner’s World,” a one-man show wherein the man expounds on, well, all of the things. “I was on Broadway with it, I’ve toured with it, it’s the project that has the most of me in it,” Shatner says. “It’s about saying ‘yes’ to life. Yes to the things that happen to you. Say yes instead of saying no. Get out there and do something and find something passionate and have an adventure. It’s over so quickly that it’s ridiculous not to expose yourself.”
The Star Wars – The Original Trilogy marathon Aug. 13 at Dell Hall, presented by Alamo Drafthouse and the Long Center, is pretty cool: the 1997 special edition versions of “Star Wars: A New Hope,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” back to back. It will take about nine hours. Many people will be dressed up. A $15 box lunch is also available (that you can eat in the theater).
Which, at this point, probably only rankles those of us who remember, say, the Reagan administration firsthand. In fairness, it has been nearly 20 years since even the modified versions were shown in theaters. And there is at least a whole new generation of fans who were not yet born when Han shot first, so this event will probably dazzle them, if also put their rear ends to sleep.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about Star Wars on bahalf of the Statesman. There’s this story from 2002 — around the time all of us were figuring out just how grim the prequels were continuing to be — about the evolution of Star Wars fan culture and the extent to which fans kept Star Wars alive. Do I think fans can get a bit possessive about such things? Absolutely. But I can also understand why.
Love it, hate it, look forward to it or avoid it, April 16 is Record Store Day.
Here are 10 records that caught my eye, in no particular order.
“Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks” (Demon). A story-telling record (Remeber those? “Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell,” I will never forget you) on “‘70s Tardis blue colored vinyl.” LP. Tom Baker (The Fourth and most famous Doctor) narrates one of the key episodes in the extremely long-running series, as the Time Lords send the Doctor on a journey through space and time to try to prevent rhe Daleks from being created. My kids are getting into Doctor Who, maybe they would like it.
David Bowie, “I Dig Everything: The Pye Singles 1966” (BMC/Sacntuary). A six song EP of the tunes a very young Bowie knocked out for Pye in ’66. Bowie before he was BOWIE, essentially.
Buzzcocks, “More Product in a Different Compilation” (ORG): Almost all of the A-sides and a whole mess of B-sides from first-wave punk’s greatest singles act. All of these bangers appeared between 1977 and 1980. It’s an expanded version of “Singles Going Steady” sort of. Perfect for the younger person in your life who keeps listening to terrible pop-punk. (Do young people still do that or is it all stuff like Bring Me The Horizon now?)
D.O.C., “No One Can Do It Better” (Get On Down): First time in print on vinyl since this West Coast hip-hop classic dropped in 1989. A rapper from Dallas, production from Dr. Dre, NWA guest
appearances: What are you waiting for (other than Record Store Day)?
Alejandro Escovedo, “Gravity” and “Thirteen Years” (New West). Two early (and extremely heavy) solo albums from one of Austin’s most beloved are realaunching the defunct Austin label Watermelon as a division of New West. On 180 gram vinyl.
Fleetwood Mac, “The Alternate Tusk” (Rhino): The “alternate version” (read: alternate takes of songs from) of “Tusk,” previously released on CD in that massive “Tusk” reissue, now on double LP. A few songs really do sound like Pavement.
Ida “Will You Find Me” (Polyvinyl): I used to think you could find this excellent 2000 LP anywhere, but it’s currently going for about $30 on discogs. (That said, if you want it on CD, it will cost you a dollar.) A double LP, gatefold version mastered at 45 for maximum sonic whump. Perhaps these acoustic singer-songwriter-indie-folk-rock titans made a bad record, but I sure haven’t heard it.
The James Brown Revue, “Get Down at the Apollo with the J.B.’s” (Get On Down). A full 1972 set from Brown and his funk machine, then operating at yet another heady peak. Previously available as as download but not on LP. As I said, I am not made of stone, people.
Lydia Lunch and Marc Hurtado, “My Lover the Killer” (Munster): Latest collaboration between Lunch, a queen of musical-and-lyrical transgression (both major and minor) since the 70s and Hurtado, one half of the French industrial duo Étant Donnés. I will always give at least a listen to whatever Lunch is up to.
Superchunk, “Tossing Seeds: Singles 1989-91” (Merge): The first LP Merge (Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel) ever released. The Platonic ideal of early ’90s indie rock and a perfect album. Not a bad pairing with the Buzzcocks joint (for obvious reasons).
So, I liked “The Force Awakens.” Was it satisfying? Sure. Was it better than the prequels? Yes. Did it have its flaws? Yes. It was, as a friend once put it about a Liz Phair album, “scrumptiously overratable.”
The trailer for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” directed by Gareth Edwards (who directed the VERY mixed 2014 “Godzilla”) made me legitimately excited. True confessions: I am a 41-year-old man, and this trailer actually put me in a better mood this morning.
Let us count the ways:
The title: “Rogue One” is an absurdly awesome title. “The Phantom Menace” sounds like a 1940s movie serial, which is fine, but it is not cool. “The Force Awakens” is more of a plot point. “Rogue One” sounds like a post-hardcore band from 1994. It is sleek and vague. Not “Something’s Gotta Give” or “It’s Complicated” vague (peace to Nancy Meyers), but both enigmatic and badass. Is it the name of the mission? The heroine?
Here is the other half of the title: “A Star Wars Story.” Note the indefinite rather than definite article. This is a story not about the Skywalker family, but other folks in the Star Wars universe.
When Disney purchased Star Wars, it got rid of “the Expanded Universe,” all of the books, cartoons and comics (many, many, MANY comics) that had filled out the Star Wars universe, in some cases stretching back thousands of years, much of which had nothing to do with the Skywalkers. Some of them worked, some did not. All of that was scrapped.
This movie is the first post-Disney film step into creating a new expanded universe. (There have been books and comics that have contributed to a new canon.) And there is a bit of freedom there, a looseness that can happen. This isn’t THE Star Wars story, it is A Star Wars story, the kind that millions of kids made up with their action figures.
The plot: “Rogue One” is rumored to be the story of how the Rebels got the plans to the Death Star, rumors that seem confirmed by the trailer, which places the movie between “Revenge of the Sith” and “Star Wars: A New Hope”
The chatter: Mon Mothma: “On your own from the age of 15, reckless, aggressive, and undisciplined.”
Jyn: “This is a rebellion, isn’t it?” [nice fat pause] “I rebel.”
The lead: Oh, yeah, that. In a sharp reminder that this is a movie from the 21st century, the main character, Jyn Erso, is a woman. Her boss is a woman. Does it solve the wage gap? No, but it’s nice to see. The movie also stars Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk and Jonathan Aris — which also reflects the 21st century.
The Empire, the Rebellion and nostalgia: The Empire is, in this film, as strong as we have ever seen it. The Rebellion isn’t quite off the ground, at least not in a Battle of Yavin kind of way. So we see stomtroopers with tanks and a few shots of Imperial Walkers storming what looks like Florida. We have not yet seen a Florida-planet.
Is “Rogue One” nostalgia-mining? Oh yes. But it is both more direct and cannier, I think, than much about “the Force Awakens.” The latter film borrowed heavily from the previous movies – shot selection, plotting, McGuffins, the whole bit — to remind viewers this is a cyclical story about a family.
But I am hoping “Rogue One,” not being about the Skywalkers, can break free of that narrative. This is still very much a Star Wars story. Indeed, we know how this story has to end: The plans have to be passed to Princess Leia, who then puts them into R2-D2. Whether it will end before that point or after it or during it remains to be seen. But there are many ways to get there and so far, “Rogue One” looks like it is the Star Wars movie that presses every possible button for both serious Star Wars nerds and casual fans.
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
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
And this is the photo that made everyone familiar with both of us laugh out loud:
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:
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.