Congratulations: we made it to another Monday, and we did it together. Hopefully we stayed safe, we stayed indoors as much as we could, and we stayed a little saner than we might have otherwise, thanks to exercising our emotions and our minds via just the right combination of things to watch, things to listen to, things to play, and things to do. Good news: that's exactly what we have on the menu for you this week, too! Hit the links below and load your plate acccordingly
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Monday, May 18
A Night of Covenant House Stars
The week begins with this gala livestream event (5pm, YouTube, Facebook, Twitch.tv, Amazon Prime Video, Broadway on Demand) helping raise funds for Covenant House, whose mission to serve homeless and trafficked youth literally cannot be closed down by COVID-19. Special guests include Dolly Parton, Stephen Colbert, Meryl Streep, Dionne Warwick, Martin Short, Jon Bon Jovi and Charlie Day, who I'm assuming will not be showing up in his Green Man costume but you never know. Hosted by Broadway legend Audra McDonald and 60 Minutes correspondent John Dickerson.
Community Table Read
The mantra for writer/creator Dan Harmon's sitcom masterpiece Community was always "Six seasons and a movie" but that mantra now has to make room for "oh and a live-streamed cast-reunion table-read of a season four episode with the actual Mandalorian as a guest star to support World Central Kitchen and Frontline Foods." It's kind of a mouthful, yeah, but it's accurate, because that's exactly what's happening on the Community YouTube channel Monday at 2pm. Extra bonus awesomeness: Chevy Chase is not going to be there at all! And, some are speculating the cherry on top of this show's special cast reunion will be an announcement that Netflix has greenlit a Community movie. Wouldn't you want to be there live if that happens?
Mount St. Helens 40th Eruption Anniversary Virtual Story Circle
Washington State Parks and the Washington State Historical Society present a collection of shared memories from The Mount St. Helens Visitors Center Oral History Project, comprising true stories of people who had a deep connection to the area both before and after its historic 1980 eruption. Visit their Facebook page at 6:30pm to hear firsthand just how world-shaking that eruption really was.
Reunited Apart: Back to the Future
Congratulations to Josh Gad, whose fledgling webseries, Reunited Apart, launched with a full cast reunion of '80s "classic" The Goonies and during its airing was presumptively canceled by its host because he figured he was never going to pull something like this off again. But never doubt the Gad, because not only is there now an episode two for you to devour, but it reunites (most of) the cast of Back to the Future, including Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue, Mary Steenburgen, Huey Lewis, writer Bob Gale, and writer/director Bob Zemeckis. Crispin Glover did not show up because Zemeckis did him pretty dirty on the sequels, and Tom F. Wilson also didn't show up... but a "mysterious fan caller" did have something to say about that later.
While Phoebe Waller-Bridge was deservedly and rightfully showered with awards for Fleabag season two, it can be argued (and she's made this case herself) that if it wasn't for Andrew Scott as Hot Priest, the season would have never happened at all. But before he was Hot Priest (and before he was Moriarty in the BBC's Sherlock, before that show became flaming crap), he was the guy that playwright Simon Stephens wrote Sea Wall for in 2008. The 30-minute play was then recorded in 2012 after a theatrical run in 2012, and today is the last day you can stream for free on YouTube. And even if this play—and Scott's performance in it—weren't described by multiple critics as "a life-changing experience," the fact it's an opportunity to literally spend a half-hour in a locked room with Hot Priest should be enough to get you to click it.
Mondays with the Maestro
Artslandia presents this weekly hangout with Oregon Symphony Music Director Carlos Kalmar, who spends happy hour with you, every Monday at 5 pm, sharing stories and "exploring the connections between emotionality and music," using highlights from the Oregon Symphony's 2020/2021 season.
Pickathon's Concert a Day: Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
I first saw folk rockers Thao & the Get Down Stay Down at laidback hippie-fest Pickathon, and I was not prepared. There's verve and soul in Thao's music, but there's a twisting, vibrant energy, too—and that's why seeing her live is so goddamn fun. If you want to see, hear, and feel exactly what I saw, then tune into this episode of the ongoing Concert a Day series at 1 pm, where that Pickathon performance is being re-streamed to help raise money for MusiCares. And when you're done with that, maybe give their brand new LP a listen or three.
Tuesday, May 19
Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything
For those who like good things in their lives, this thoughtful lefty nerd is the best, and you will miss out on a ton of laughs if you aren’t settling into your couch to watch the latest stand-up special from America’s most lovable comic, and perhaps the only worthwhile person to follow on twitter (@pattonoswalt). I Love Everything (Streaming Tues May 19, Netflix) follows up his hilarious and touching Annihilation with an hour of jokes that find Patton finding new love, searching for the cosmic significance in mundane happenings, and suffering existential dread at a Denny's. Who among us doesn't relate, huh?
Remember The Favourite, that acidic and weird costume drama/batshit comedy? It led to Olivia Colman winning an Oscar for Best Actress and giving one of the best acceptance speeches in Academy history. Well, the guy who wrote The Favourite has taken that same jaundiced eye, focused it on a different, immaculately costumed slice of history, jettisoned most of that history, and turned it into a new Hulu series called The Great (now streaming) starring The Favourite's Nicholas Hoult (who came this close to stealing that movie) opposite Elle Fanning as the titular Catherine, who turns her arranged marriage into one hell of a coup.
The One-Hit Wonder isn't a phenomenon localized solely to music. It doesn't happen as frequently in other artforms, but they do occur, and one of the best examples of this is South African writer/director Neill Blomkamp, and his sci-fi debut District 9 (Now streaming, Netflix). As our Film Editor Erik Henrisken put it, District 9 is "A weird, brilliant, brutal, and gorgeous science-fiction film. It's inventive and surprising and disarmingly unique, and it's one of those rare films that's both relentlessly entertaining and also has something to say." He also thought the film, and its director, would go on to be regarded as serious game-changers. Unfortunately, that didn't happen (Chappie happened instead). But that one hit he did deliver in 2009? It still packs a very, very potent punch, and the last 10 years we've all marinated in since has only made it that much more remarkable.
The Animation Show of Shows
For the first time ever, the Animation Show of Shows, a well-curated collection of the finest shorts being created by animators and filmmakers worldwide, is being made available for online screening. And it's not just one edition being made available, but four of them. Click here for more details and to access the shorts— and if you use the code C21ASOS when buying access, half your "ticket price" will go to Cinema 21, helping ensure they come back to open their box office again once this crisis passes.
The Story of Soaps
ABC returns with another star-studded retrospective of TV glories gone by, but instead of live-recreations of classic sitcoms, or gushing tributes to lovable showrunners, tonight at 5pm (available on Hulu shortly thereafter) they're paying tribute to Soap Operas. And not just because they were the first mainstreamed examples of "shared universes" and "binge watching," and "time shifting" (I can't be the only kid whose mom taught herself how to program a VCR to maintain a library of All My Children stories.) A ton of the home entertainment innovations we all take for granted here in 2020 were invented by the soaps, and a panel of experts including Carol Burnett, John Stamos, Susan Lucci, Bryan Cranston, Agnes Nixon, Erika Slezak, and Alec Baldwin will walk viewers through the soaps' foamy, fantastic history.
While more than a few State Parks are reopening, it's very understandable if you're still resistant to heeding the call of the wild. But if you're feeling like taking a hike while staying indoors, maybe it's time to finally get Firewatch out of your gaming backlog (Steam, Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One; $19.99). The phrase "walking simulator" is usually a sort of flippant tag to give a game, but in Firewatch's case, it's an accurate descriptor. Most of the time spent in this game is just ambling around a forest. But the story that unfolds as you amble is one of the most affecting in modern games (Good luck making it past the all-text intro section without welling up a little), with a beautiful soundtrack from Gone Home's Chris Remo, and a striking visual design by art director Olly Moss.
A new Magnetic Fields album is always cause for celebration, precisely because of how hit-and-miss it can be. Stephen Merritt, more than most singer-songwriters, follows his muse whereever the hell it goes, for as long as it leads him, and that's resulted in utterly unique masterpieces like 69 Love Songs and 50 Song Memoir. Sure, they're flawed masterpieces, but those flaws are what make the projects so essential, and why the journeys for the listener are ultimately so rewarding. A new sonic adventure from the Fields just got released last Friday, and Quickies is exactly what it sounds like: A whole bunch of stripped down songs pursuing simple ideas and realizing them as succinctly as possible.
Wednesday, May 20
The Stranger's Silent Reading Party
Every Wednesday at 6 pm we're going to throw these parties, at least until stay-at-home is over. Attendees at the first Zoom silent-reading party included famous actors, writers, composers, artists, families, teenagers doing their homework, people staring into space listening to the music because it was just so beautiful, cats, and even one household on Orcas Island that was eating dinner and decided to broadcast the reading party as their background music. (What a brilliant idea!) It wasn't just a great party to be at. Behind the scenes, this was a roaring success as well. Our musician Paul Matthew Moore made ten times more on Venmo tips than he's ever made in the tip jar at the Sorrento (thank you for your generosity—he deserves it!), and hundreds of people at the party have written us emails, clamoring for more. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
Looking for a good book to read while you're enjoying that Silent Reading ambiance? Why not go big, go pop, go KING: Stephen King, that is, one of the most well-read human beings on Earth, and also one of the most well-watched since practically everything he's ever imagined has been turned into a movie or a TV show. One of the few he's written that hasn't? His fantasy epic The Talisman, co-written with Peter Straub (ebook available at MultCo Library w/ card, physical copies avail at Powell's, $19.99). The story has almost been adapted by Steven Spielberg three or four times by now, but until that happens, the universe those two masters of horror spin out in the pages of The Talisman can only be visited in your mind, and it's a pretty damned wondrous (and scary) place to go.
Speaking of those multitudes of adapted King titles: There's a podcast for that now! For a ton of people, Stephen King is more like a name-brand than an author, and their first exposure to him has been via film or tv, not his plain-spoken prose. The quality of those adaptations varies a little more wildly than the quality of the source material, and Birth.Movies.Death EIC Scott Wampler has teamed up with film critic Eric Vespe to provide a podcast guide to the best and worst of King's catalog. The Kingcast is opening strong with special guest Kumail Nanjiani helping them take a look at The Running Man, a movie that doesn't have much to do with the short story it sprang from, but does feature Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Richard Dawson as directed by one half of Starsky & Hutch.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (now streaming, Netflix) is a sweet, sad movie that hinges on the topic of mental illness in young men, and sets his mental health issues amid the fashion, mixtapes, and Rocky Horror Picture Show-screenings of teenagers dabbling in the counterculture in the late-'90s; the whole thing is one hell of a nostalgia trip. (Cracker is on the soundtrack, for chrissakes.) It's a great little movie, one that stands right next to Dazed and Confused for perfectly capturing an accurate decade-in-a-bottle snapshot of suburban American teenagers. ALISON HALLETT
Ben Platt: Live from Radio City Music Hall
Speaking of acclaimed portrayals of teen anxiety: Ben Platt achieved bonafide Broadway stardom in Dear Evan Hansen, and followed that up by joining Ryan Murphy's gleefully dysfunctional TV family, anchoring Netflix's satire The Politician. Now he's leveraging that Netflix power to get his own hourlong special on the platform, called Ben Platt: Live from Radio City Music Hall. He's got a band, he's got some personal songs to sing, some personal stories to share, and one amazing floral-pattern shirt to sweat through all night long.
Set My Heart on Fire Immediately
Perfume Genius is the project of singer/songwriter Mike Hadreas, whose albums tend to revolve around themes of sexuality, addiction, chronic illness, abuse, and homophobia. He sings about being gay and the frustration of being punished for something he can’t control, but he greets pain with sardonic wit, imagining his own transcendence in grand, sweeping protest music. This is reflected in fluid movements between genres, from glam rock to the magic of Angelo Badalamenti’s piano ballads to stringed chamber folk to TLC-inspired R&B grooves to volcanic pop anthems. They’re all united by Hadreas’ androgynous voice—he’s always commanding the center, through explosive moments of catharsis and lighter-treading hymns. CIARA DOLAN
Thursday, May 21
Coast to Coast Roast
Helium's new livestream stand-up series is also an outlet for any tension, frustration, and acid that might have built up over the course of your self-quarantine, as comics from all over the country get in front of their webcams, get the green-light from the showrunners, and proceed to mercilessly roast everyone in front of them alive. Nobody got to have a March Madness this year, so instead, why not enjoy the Coast to Coast Roast's Elite Eight starting tonight at 6pm, and see which comic is on their way to being crowned the ultimate conqueror. Hosted by Joe List and Mark Normand.
Movie Madness University: The Chinese Boxer
Hollywood Theatre's head programmer and literal savior of Kung Fu history, Dan Halsted, leads the first class in Movie Madness University tonight at 7:30pm, looking at the impact Jimmy Wang Yu's 1970 film The Chinese Boxer had on Kung Fu history, both stylistically and financially. Tuition cost ($10) doesn't include access to the film, but Movie Madness University films are available to rent on major VOD services for $5 or less.
Mayer Hawthorne: The Wine & Vinyl Hour
There's something endearingly cheesy about sonic seducer Andrew Cohen, who performs under the moniker Mayer Hawthorne. With song titles like "Lingerie & Candlewax" and a voice like Curtis Mayfield, you might not expect to find a nerdy white guy from Michigan behind Hawthorne's throwback sound. But the guy can actually sing, and he confidently pulls off the whole schmaltzy, red wine-stained, sex-on-a-faux-fur-area-rug vibe. That vibe is exactly the whole point of his weekly livestream, "The Wine & Vinyl Hour," (Thursdays, 6pm, YouTube) so why not treat yourself?
Dead to Me
Netflix's unique buddy-comedy-dramedy-suspense-thriller (with wine!) returns for another off-kilter season that, much like their breakout drama Ozark, is basically just a prime-time soap opera of the sort that used to rule network television way back in the days where network television itself ruled popular culture. Nothing that's happening in this domestic drama even remotely realistic, much less plausible, but the interplay between the characters, and the way they keep getting in each other's way, breaking shit, trying to fix it, failing, and then succeeding in spite of themselves anyway is pretty engrossing, and is especially so when its top-of-their-game Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini anchoring the show. Top off your goblet with some alcoholic grape juice and catch up with a binge of Dead to Me's first season before jumping into the new one.
Let Dolly Parton Read You a Bedtime Story
You tired? You're probably tired. Everyone's kinda tired. Pandemic living is like that. But while our future remains fitfully uncertain, we can still get ourselves to dreamland as wonderfully as possible thanks to indispensable treasure Dolly Parton, whose "Dolly Parton's Imagination Library" channel has been hosting a weekly webseries where Dolly herself reads a bedtime story in full to your children, every Thursday, at 4pm. Or you. Everyone, really; if there's an age at which Dolly Parton reading you to sleep is inappropriate, I hope humanity never reaches it, or recognizes it. We sure as hell aren't starting now, that's for sure.
Before Hidden Figures (now streaming, FX w/ cable subscription), I had no idea three Black women were integral to the success of America’s space program. That’s not the only surprise here: Even the film’s title has a double meaning, referring to both the unheralded women who helped us catch up in the space race, and the calculations that were missing before their contributions. Spending much of its runtime dealing with issues that persist today—segregation, racism and sexism in the workplace—Hidden Figures focuses on the Black women who had to balance being tenacious and docile in order to get ahead, even as they were underestimated and undervalued every step of the way. JENNI MOORE
About a year ago, American treasure and cultural icon Michelle Obama came to the Moda Center as part of her national tour promoting her book Becoming. She covered key events in her life from career to motherhood, and discussed the lessons learned from becoming the first Black woman to serve as First Lady of the United States. This (Netflix special release) is billed as "an intimate documentary," both for those who were able to attend last year's show, and for us broke folk who only got as close as catching a glimpse of the Secret Service cavalcade that drove through town. Not sure how “intimate” this can get, but I also don’t doubt Michelle’s ability to surpass all expectations. JENNI MOORE
Kamasi Washington doesn’t do anything on a small scale. His 2015 major label breakthrough The Epic is 172 minutes of fiery jazz, and the 2018 follow-up Heaven and Earth is only slightly less dense, but absolutely solidified his status as a truly visionary saxophonist. To say that he took the task of scoring Michelle Obama's Becoming documentary very seriously would be an understatement, and you know that if Mr. Washington is putting everything he's got into a project, that project is going to be something truly special. The Becoming soundtrack is the proof, and the truth.
Don't forget to check out our Things To Do calendar for even more things to stream while you stay home and stay safe!