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The beginning of a new year is often the perfect time to reflect. In general, 2020 has been a year of highs and lows for me and countless others, but lockdowns, fewer and shorter commutes and remote work gave me extra time to play a greater variety of video games than any previous year.
For years, the sound of Beethoven’s Ninth, as performed by the Spokane Symphony, has been the soundtrack for saying goodbye to the current year and hello to the new year in Spokane on New Year’s Eve. To no one’s surprise, that concert was canceled earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
For one final time in 2020, Neato Burrito/Baby Bar will be serving live music in its New Year’s Eve Time Machine benefit livestream, with proceeds supporting live music and mental health organizations. Led by Norman Robbins and Luis Mota of entertainment management company Palimpsest Group, the four-hour themed benefit begins at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Set in the year 2049 in the immediate aftermath of an unspecified global calamity that appears, based on scant but at times scary evidence, to be both environmental and technological – perhaps even financial, political and cultural – "The Midnight Sky" only looks like a disaster film. Slyly, it reveals itself to be a story of regret over a lost opportunity for connection.
Gal Gadot returns as the screen's greatest Amazon warrior in "Wonder Woman 1984" (2020, PG-13), living quietly among humans in Washington, D.C., until she's roused to action by a magical ancient artifact and a supervillain named Cheetah. Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor, and Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal co-star.
When Pedro Pascal started to think about his “Wonder Woman 1984” villain Max Lord, one name came to mind: Gordon Gekko. Who better to model his power suit-wearing striver on than the embodiment of 1980s greed and callousness? But director Patty Jenkins had something different in mind than the Michael Douglas character.
The visual details, humanism and weighty themes sent aloft with gossamer lightness that add up to "that Pixar touch" are in abundant supply in "Soul," an ambitious meditation on creativity, existence and meaning that frequently exemplifies what the animation studio does best.
Following a successful Fourth of July show over the summer, the Spokane Indians Baseball Club is partnering with several local organizations – City of Spokane Parks & Recreation, Spokane County Parks, Recreation & Golf and Spokane Public Schools – to bring New Year’s Eve fireworks displays to Spokane area neighborhoods.
Woman's got the power, as 70% of my top 10 releases in 2020 are albums by female solo recording artists. A woman has yet to become president of the United States, but the charts were ruled by ladies this year. A number of recording artists pushed back releases due to the pandemic, so hats off to those who did release material.
Pearl Jam is one of those rare recording artists who are influential onstage and offstage. How many vocalists have appropriated Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder's singing style? Too many. Hello, Scott Stapp. Who can forget Pearl Jam's righteous battle against Ticketmaster? The Seattle-based band are also political and environmental activists.
It's not often that a movie is a genuine game-changer. In 2017, "Wonder Woman" became just that as a superhero movie featuring a female protagonist that went on to become a huge hit – proving that little boys are just as interested in seeing a woman save the day as little girls.
There will come a time, next year or maybe later, when 2020 will have receded enough that we’ll no longer experience it as the Never-Ending Now, when time became maddeningly abstract. We’ll look back on it as a discrete chapter of our lives, defined by anxiety and grief, and punctuated with moments of grace.
Toni Braxton, “Spell My Name”: I can breathe again thanks in part to the living legend Toni Braxton. 2020 was a hot mess, and one way to escape the madness was through music. “Spell My Name,” her 10th album, was released in August while we were in the thick of pandemic woes and other worldly issues. To this album, I say: You mean the world to me.
Thanksgiving in Spokane and a Black Friday matinee have been a tradition for years for guitarist Al Pitrelli. The musical director of Trans-Siberian Orchestra prefaces the band's annual Black Friday night show with some quality time in the Inland Northwest. "For the last five or six years, what I'm accustomed to ... is that we celebrate Thanksgiving in Spokane," Pitrelli said.
This strange, terrible year took so much from us, including the gifted Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer in August at age 44. In his final performance, in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Boseman gives his all and then some, as trumpeter Levee. It’s a jaw-dropping display of his unmatched talent, in a role that allows him to show off the full range of his skills.
Taylor Swift is one of the biggest stars on the planet. Time and time again, she has refused to drop out of sight or be defined by constancy, repetition and doing whatever works. Her latest reinvention came with this summer’s release of “Folklore,” marking her venture into so-called indie music. That album was largely a hit, a well-polished and wonderfully composed set of tracks.
The deadly pandemic that opens CBS All Access’s stylish if stilted new take on Stephen King’s 1978 novel “The Stand” (which premiered Thursday) couldn’t be timelier for today’s TV viewers or more terrifying: Loosed from a military weapons lab, the “Captain Trips” virus kills 99% of the population (dogs, too!) quicker than any Karen can gripe.
Local music collective Super Sparkle is a band with a sound deserving of its name. Across their latest EP “Shine Through,” released Dec. 4, the group recalls the brightest moments of the pop canon that lit up the radio from the late 1970s to ’80s, from singer-songwriter reflections and irresistible disco rhythms to bluesy decrees with modern pop touches.
Dedicated to highlighting Spokane’s creative community professionally and personally, Denny Carman has spent the last two years honoring fellow local artists – now more than 500 – in a series of Facebook posts. “And I have 1,600 something artist friends on Facebook, so I have quite a ways to go.”
Currently the most ambitious science-fiction series streaming or on TV, “The Expanse” (TV-14) enters its fifth season with a storyline that starts to draw together all the narrative threads, from the political tensions between Earth and the settlers on Mars and elsewhere fighting for autonomy to the battle over the newly accessible alien worlds.
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