Friday fanfare: “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes”

On Wednesday, I talked about Paul Simon’s farewell tour and how I also discovered his live album The Concert at Hyde Park, which was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the landmark Graceland. (In other news, holy fuck, 1987 was thirty years ago, hi, I’m old.) Here’s a song from that album, Simon re-teaming with the South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, whom Simon introduced to the rest of the world in Graceland.


4-Color to 35-Millimeter: The Spirit (1987) and The Spirit (2008)


Many have tried to do adaptations of Will Eisner’s seminal comic book hero The Spirit, from radio and movie serials to animated movies, but the only ones that got produced were a 1987 TV pilot starring Sam Jones and Nana Visitor and a 2008 feature film starring Gabriel Macht and Samuel L. Jackson. Both are, in a word, terrible. The great superhero movie rewatch endures both versions of The Spirit.

An excerpt:

The Spirit arrives just as Octopus resurfaces, and the two of them have a huge fight that involves a disturbing amount of diving into mud. Also at one point, the Octopus conks the Spirit on the head with a toilet, and if that isn’t a metaphor for this film, I don’t know what is!

a nice review of A Time for War, a Time for Peace (and the rest of the series, too…)


On the Canadian Star Trek blog “Boldly Go,” they’ve been reviewing the entire “A Time to…” series, a nine-novel series we did back in 2004 that set up the events of Star Trek Nemesis as well as the entirety of 24th-century Trek fiction moving forward. Fourteen years later, it still stands as kind of the pilot for the post-Nemesis fiction that we’ve seen.

They just put up the review of my finale to the series, A Time for War, a Time for Peace.

Money quote:

My experience with the A Time to… series has been mixed, but this novel tied everything together so gracefully that it made the whole experience worth the time. DeCandido draws from all the previous novels in the series and weaves a compelling finale that leads wonderfully into Star Trek: Nemesis. Every characters voice felt right, and their choices believable. Seeing Worf take the final steps to return to Starfleet was great, and set up the status quo of the Klingon Empire for the excellent Prey Trilogy that takes place several years later.

Here’s a link to all five “A Time to…” reviews.

two Kickstarters you should support!

Three of my dearest friends are running two Kickstarters right now, and they’re definitely worth your consideration.

The first is Michael  Jan Friedman, probably best known for dozens of Star Trek novels over the decades, who is combining his long history of comic book writing (including a lengthy run on DC’s Star Trek: The Next Generation monthly comic three decades ago, as well as Darkstars for DC) with his love of space opera to give us Empty Spaces, with lovely art by Caio Cacau. As I type this, Mike is only at about 60% of his goal with a little more than a week left. So check it out, and if you like it, pledge!


The second is eSpec Books, the publisher run by Danielle Ackley-McPhail & Mike McPhail, the new publishers of the “Precinct” books starting with Mermaid Precinct (and they’re also reissuing the previous titles). They’re Kickstarting a trio of steampunk booksThe Clockwork Witch by Michelle D. Sonnier, Spirit Seeker by Jeff Young, and the anthology After Punk: Steam-Powered Tales of the Afterlife, edited by Ackley-McPhail & Greg Schauer (the same team that edited The Side of Good/The Side of Evil). The anthology will have stories by Jody Lynn Nye, David Sherman, Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin, James Chambers, Jeffrey Lyman, Bernie Mojzes, and Travis I. Sivart, as well as Ackley-McPhail, Young, and Sonnier. This one has already made its funding, so pledging to this guarantees that you’ll get something, and there are tons of nifty stretch goals still to be had!


midweek music: “The Boy in the Bubble”

Paul Simon has announced that he is retiring from touring after his next tour, which he’s calling the “Homeward Bound” tour. Inexplicably, this tour is not coming to Simon’s hometown of New York City, but Wrenn and I are going to try to catch either his Philadelphia or Boston show. I’ve seen Simon in concert three times — his and Art Garfunkel’s tense reunion in Central Park in 1981, at Radio City Music Hall in 1988 supporting Graceland, and at Madison Square Garden supporting his The Rhythm of the Saints in 1992. They were all of them great shows.

This announcement enabled me to discover a live album of Simon’s I didn’t have, from a Hyde Park concert last year celebrating the 30th anniversary of Graceland (which remains one of the greatest albums of all time ever by anyone). Below is not from that album, but rather a 2012 version of “The Boy in the Bubble,” the lead song on Graceland.

Star Trek Discovery‘s “The War Without, The War Within”


The Discovery is home, and lots of stuff happens, but most important of all is that this isn’t Lorca’s ship anymore, and it’s nice to see that without his influence, it’s a good old-fashioned compassionate Starfleet ship again. My review of Star Trek Discovery‘s latest episode, “The War Without, the War Within.”

An excerpt:

This is an excellent episode on its own, one that moves several of the characters forward—Tyler’s identity crisis, the war effort, Georgiou’s attempt to assimilate into the new universe, and Burnham’s multifaceted problems—and sets everything up nicely for the finale next week. In particular all of Burnham’s issues are brought to light here. She’s completely forthright with Saru as to why she rescued Georgiou, and it’s to Saru’s credit that he doesn’t really give her a pass for it, but doesn’t really ding her for it, either. Tilly spells out to Burnham the lesson of the MU in facing your own darkness. Then Burnham manages to help Tyler by giving him brutally honest advice on how to get through trauma—in particular that it’s solitary—without forcing herself to still be in any way involved with the person who tried to strangle her a couple episodes ago. Even with all that, though, she’s still doing what Lorca challenged her to do when she first came on board in “Context is for Kings,” for all that Lorca had a completely different agenda: stopping the war. So she mines Georgiou for information, trying to find a way to end the war.

live-tweeting the Super Bowl

I live-tweeted the feetsball game and its attendant commercials yesterday. Some highlights:

Monday music: “Mission Temple Fireworks Stand”

I first got to see Paul Thorn in 2001 when he opened for Mark Knopfler at the Beacon Theatre. I missed a chance to see him at the City Winery, though Wrenn got to do so with our friend Laura Anne (another commitment sprung up unexpectedly that night), but I’ve loved his music for lo these 17 years. This is one of my three favorites of his, “Mission Temple Fireworks Stand.” This live version explains the song’s origin, which is a delight.

4-Color to 35-Millimeter: Generation X and Justice League of America


In the 1990s, both Marvel and DC licensed pilots based on popular team books. The FOX network aired a 1996 pilot movie for Generation X which failed to go to series, and CBS produced a 1997 pilot movie for Justice League of America that was so bad they never even aired it in the U.S. Both films try to mix contemporary sitcoms with superhero stories and wind up being lousy sitcoms and lousy superhero stories. The great superhero movie rewatch endures Generation X and Justice League of America.

An excerpt:

Jubilee is also played by the very-much-not-Asian Heather McComb. The whitewashing of Jubilee was one of the loudest complaints about GenX when it first aired 22 years ago, and it’s 100% deserved. It’s not like there’s a plethora of Asian heroes in the first place, so altering one of the few is pretty crummy. (For that matter, while I think it’s cute that they hired the same actor to play Cassidy who voiced him in the 1990s X-Men cartoon, Jeremy Ratchford’s awful fake Irish accent sounds even worse in live-action, and turns him into a caricature.)