TV: NCIS, S14E21: “One Book, Two Covers”

#1 TV show, Tuesday, 4/18/17

13.32 million viewers

What it is: A CBS procedural about an agency tasked with investigating crimes related to the Navy and Marine Corps. In this episode, Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) has to delve back into the contacts he made while undercover with a dirtbike gang(!) when the gang seems to become active again. Continue reading

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Music: The Chainsmokers, MEMORIES…DO NOT OPEN

#1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, week of 4/29/17

What it is: The debut album from The Chainsmokers, a duo who make EDM-tinged pop music.

This may be an obvious point, but I’ve thought for a long time that the amount of respect artists get in their industry often depends as much on how they’re viewed as individuals as on the quality of their actual work. Take Weird Al Yankovic and Gallagher: Two comedians whose careers are built on goofy gimmicks, and yet one is widely revered and welcomed into comedy nerd projects like “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, while the other is reviled as a practitioner of the lowest forms of humor. Is it because Yankovic’s pop song parodies are that much more sophisticated than Gallagher’s routine of smashing objects onstage? Or is it because Yankovic is reportedly an incredibly nice guy, while Gallagher is known for defending racist and homophobic jokes before storming out of an interview with Marc Maron? Continue reading

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Film: THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

#1 movie, weekends of 4/14-4/16/17 and 4/21-4/23/17

Gross: $98,786,705, $38,408,415

What it is: The eighth entry in the Fast and Furious action movie franchise (“F8 of the Furious,” get it?), which originated with 2001’s The Fast and the Furious and follows a team of street racers who have evolved over the course of the series into a sort of crime-fighting heist gang. This time around, crew leader Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) is kidnapped by an evil hacker named Cipher (Charlize Theron) and forced to help with her world-domination scheme, while his old teammates (or his “family,” as this series always insists) try to put a stop to the whole thing. Continue reading

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Books: ECHOES IN DEATH

By J. D. Robb

#1 USA Today bestseller, 2/16/17

What it is: The 44th entry in the “in Death” series of crime novels by the incredibly prolific J. D. Robb, pseudonym of the even more prolific romance writer Nora Roberts. The series takes place in the future and follows hardboiled NYC cop Eve Dallas. In this entry, set in 2061, she tries to track down a serial rapist and murderer who invades couples’ homes dressed as a movie monster and forces husbands to watch as he violates their wives. Continue reading

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Music: Drake, MORE LIFE

#1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, weeks of 4/8/17, 4/15/17 and 4/22/17

What it is: A new album from Canadian rapper Drake. It was released exclusively to streaming platforms and referred to as a “playlist” rather than an album for no apparent reason. The cover also credits it to “October Firm,” which is presumably a collective named after Drake’s October’s Very Own record label, and there are a lot of appearances from guest performers, so many that some tracks don’t even feature Drake himself. Continue reading

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Film: THE BOSS BABY

#1 movie, weekends of 3/31-4/2/17 and 4/7-4/9/17

Gross: $50,198,902, $26,363,488

What it is: A computer-animated children’s film about a boy, Tim, whose new baby brother turns out to be a corporate executive voiced by Alec Baldwin.

A lot of high-concept movies would benefit from following Toy Story‘s example. That movie never explains why the toys are alive, why they care about making children happy, why their aliveness needs to be a secret, etc. It just starts with the premise that toys are actually alive and correctly trusts that the audience will go along with it. Continue reading

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Books: NEVER NEVER

By James Patterson and Candice Fox

#1 USA Today bestseller, 1/26/17

What it is: A murder mystery/thriller collaboration between American powerhouse James Patterson and Australian writer Candice Fox. Sort of a sequel to Patterson and Fox’s “Bookshot” Black & Blue, which I believe introduced the character of Detective Harriet Blue. In Never Never, Blue investigates a series of killings committed by a military-obsessed psycho around a uranium mine located in Australia’s Outback (the “never never” of the title).
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