On tonight’s broadcast of “On Story,” check out actor Tony Hale on the best acting advice Julia Louis Dreyfus ever gave him.
Texas writer Bret Anthony Johnston (“Remember Me Like This” has won the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award for his story “Half of What Atlee Rouse Knows About Horses,” originally published last fall in Austin literary magazine American Short Fiction’s 25th anniversary issue.
The prestigious international prize is the richest for a single story in the English language, worth £30,000 (almost $39,000 in today’s exchange rate) to the winner.
Two recent ASF stories were selected for “Best American Short Stories 2017” and another for “Best American Nonrequired Reading 2017.”
You can read Johnston’s story in its entirety on the Story Award’s website.
The annual contest is judged by a panel of renowned editors, literary journalists, and writers. This year’s winner was chosen by Anne Enright, Mark Lawson, Neel Mukherjee, Rose Tremain, and Andrew Holgate. The judges praised it as a story “in which small details take on vast significance, and perceptions have the kick of a stallion.”
Johnston’s best-selling “Remember Me Like This” was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and the winner of the 2015 McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns Prize. Johnston teaches in the Bennington Writing Seminars and at Harvard University, where he is the Director of Creative Writing.
Here is Johnston at BookPeople in 2014.
This week, look out for:
“Dreaming the Beatles” by Rob Sheffield (Dey St.) Boy howdy, is this book good. (April 25)
“Borne: A Novel” By Jeff VanderMeer (MCD) In the highly anticipated follow-up his outstanding Southern Reach trilogy, VanderMeer explores the story of Rachel, a scavenger in a dead city once-dominated by collapsed corporation called the Company, who adopts a being called Borne. Long a top-drawer editor, VanderMeer is becoming contemporary master of gripping, thoughtful s-f weirdness. (April 25)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu). I think it’s safe to say that this 10-episode series is the crown jewel of Hulu’s original programming for 2017. This terrifyingly relevant story, based on Margaret Atwood’s classic of dystopian feminist science fiction, stars Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, a very creepy Joseph Fiennes, Samira Wiley and more. Three episodes launch the show; the rest arrive weekly on Wednesdays. One suspects that this might be the future of streaming: a balance between bingeing and weekly waits, which both gives the show time to build an audience and prevents folks from watching all of it at once and the show having less overall impact as a result. (April 26)
Feist, “Pleasure” (Interscope). She’s back! It’s her first album since 2011 and her fifth overall. Expect a whole mess of emotional, intense song craft. Who doesn’t like Leslie Feist? (April 28)
Willie Nelson, “God’s Problem Child” (Legacy Recordings). Another seven months, another Willie Nelson album (the last one came out in September). Many songs were written by Nelson and producer Buddy Cannon. Also looks for songs by Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White, vocals from the late Leon Russell, a song about the 2016 election called “Delete and Fast-Forward” and a tribute to Merle Haggard called “He Won’t Ever Be Gone.” And, yes, the original title of the album was “I’m Not Dead.” Forever and ever, amen.
Adama, father and son. Starbuck. Baltar. Six.
All in the house.
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.
HBO is airing the season premier of “Silicon Valley” on Sunday (April 23).
Wednesday evening, series co-creator Mike Judge joined actors Martin Starr (the terminally acid Gilfoyle) and Zach Woods (the doe-eyed Jared Dunn) for a brief red carpet at the Alamo Drafthouse South. This was followed by a screening of the first two episodes and a 30-minute Q and A session.
Here is what we learned:
It is weird to see Judge laugh and Starr smile
Judge is notoriously press shy and always looks very business as usual at press events, somewhere between a kind of Zen offensive coordinator and maybe a guy giving you bad legal news. He also talks very softly.
So it was genuinely awesome to see him laugh long and hard at his actors cracking wise during the Q and A afterwards. It was similarly cool to see Starr — best known for his career-making performance as Bill in “Freaks and Geeks” (17 years ago!) and for Gilfoyle’s brutal, dead-eyed sarcasm — bust out a wide smile (not pictured) when talking to reporters. Woods, on the other hand, seems very much like Jared, with maybe more penis jokes.
Women are rumored for later in the year, but not on these episodes
HBO and the Alamo Drafthouse screened two episodes. The first one sets the table: Everyone is still in the house owned by Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller), the company has pivoted a bit into a video chat app largely invented by Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), which is driving Richard (Thomas Middleditch) nuts. He hates being the CEO of a video chat company, especially one essentially co-owned by Big Head’s father.
So he quits. Plot ensues.
The second episode (mild spoilers) develops the video chat plot kind of ingeniously and features some of the most (intentionally) obnoxious hair Kumail Nanjiani has ever worn, anywhere.
This was about 60 minutes of filmed entertainment, much of it sharp and funny and canny. There was a woman on-screen for less than five of those minutes, a conversation between Richard and Monica Hall (Amanda Crew). Unless I am misremembering something, and I don’t think I am, that was IT.
Now, according to this piece, the show is finally adding women coders, so perhaps it will improve.
Woods is the most like his character, though all of them are apparently sweet people
“When it’s a lot of young comedy guys, it can kind of be a sort of feral environment,” Woods said during the Q and A. “But everyone’s really kind to each other, it’s not competitive. People pitch each other jokes. It’s nice to be with other people that are equally delicate flowers.”
That said, when Woods was discussing the first time he met Miller, he (Woods) was sitting “on a yoga mat reading a journal of reassuring quotes with a bunch of scented candles lit” while Indigo Girls was on in the background.
Which seems awfully Jared.
A time in the Dinesh/Gilfoyle relationship that stands out for Starr
“The jacket episode,” Starr says. “I had a lot of fun berating him in front of strangers at that Starbucks. I don’t know why, but I really enjoyed it. It went a little off the rails sometimes.”
There isn’t a lot of improvisation on set that makes it into the final product. However….
The line “Sizzler buffet for the sexually deranged” (nope, not giving you the context) was all Woods.
The show is famous enough that hip-hop acts will debut tracks as end credits music
Look for Nas and DJ Shadow’s “Systematic” to close out the first episode.
What makes Mike Judge lose it
The “creepy extra” in the back of the room at the very end of episode two. You’ll know it when you see it (on April 30). “The way it works is you get a bunch of extras and they line ’em up, and I picked that guy,” Judge said. “And I said, ‘Put him in a sweater,’ and when he came out in that sweater and sat him down, I couldn’t stop laughing. Luckily there was no dialogue in the scene. It was good to see (the audience) laughing at it because me and Tim Suhrstedt, the DP, could not stop laughing.”
“Silicon Valley” airs Sundays on HBO.
On Saturday, we, the people, celebrate the tenth anniversary of Record Store Day, the day record stores and record labels come together to celebrate getting off your butt and going into the recorded material emporium of your choosing and spending that money on exclusive releases in stores on that day only. (Unless they don’t sell out; then you may see them again.)
Yes, getting all of them would set you back a lot of money.
But man, there’s a lot of spectacular music here.
David Bowie, “Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles ’74)” A previously unreleased live recording from September 1974, a transitional show between the Diamond Dogs tour and the Philly Dogs tour, the sci-fi glam god turning into the soul man who fell to Earth. Produced by David Bowie and mixed by Tony Visconti, over the course of three LPs.
Luna, “Penthouse Deluxe” Remaster of this gorgeous album with a second LP of unreleased tracks, rare b-sides and demos, including an extended version of their “Marquee Moon”-style, guitar shimmer-jam “23 Minutes in Brussels.”
The Meters, “A Message from The Meters–The Complete Josie, Reprise & Warner Bros. Singles 1968-1977” Three LPs collecting 40 single sides of some of the greatest funk — no, make that the greatest music — ever recorded. Essential listening for all conscious humans.
Santana, “Live at The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969” First time on wax for this legendary, career-making set. Peace and blessings to drum god Michael Shrieve.
UGK, “Too Hard to Swallow” The first album by Houston hip-hop legends Bun B and the late Pimp C gets the vinyl treatment for the first time in celebration of its 25th anniversary.
Various Artists, “Girls In The Garage – Oriental Special – Volume 9” Female-fronted garage pop from throughout 1960s Asia.
Various Artists, “Where The Pyramid Meets the Eye” Tribute compilations were all the rage in the early Nineties and this 1990 tribute to Roky Erickson remains one of the all-time best. Nearly every song is a keeper; personal faves include heartbreak of Bongwater’s “You Don’t Love Me Yet,” the space-frippery of Julian Cope’s “I Have Always Been Here Before” and Poi Dog Pondering’s “I Had to Tell You.” A double LP with three bonus tracks previously available only on the cassette.
The War On Drugs, “Thinking of a Place” This two-part song, on 45 RPM over both sides of a 12″, is the first new music since 2014. from these gauzy guitar thinkers who absolutely do not sound like Arcade Fire, no way.
Link Wray, “Beans and Fatback” In 1969, eleven years and several lifetimes after his world-historical instrumental “Rumble,” whose twang and shudder was the very sound of 1950s at its seediest and make both power chords and distortion root integer of rock music, Link Wray (1929-2005) found himself on his father’s farm in Maryland, the “3-Track Shack.” There, he, siblings and friends made three albums: “Link Wray,” “Mordicai Jones” and this one, “Beans and Fatback,” roots records that don’t quite sound like anything else: a blend of blues, country, gospel, Native American chants and folk that sounds like it could have been cut tomorrow. A dispatch from when the old, weird America was turning into something even stranger.