AL7egiance: 101%

L7: Donita Sparks, Suzi Gardner, Dee Plakas, and Jennifer Finch (circa 2017)L7’s drive to crowdfund the recording/release of an (as-yet-untitled) comeback album has finally reached its goal, though there were a couple speed-bumps along the way, most notably in June when drummer Dee broke her arm a mere 12 hours before they were due to fly to London to kick-off their European tour. Harsh. Thankfully they found a few good women (including “Motley” Mel McFail) to fill in for her*, and no surgery was required, so hopefully she should be all healed up in time to start working on new material later this month! Yay!

This is my first time contributing to a PledgeMusic project, so I’m not quite sure how these things work, but as far as I can tell you can still order items (including a CD and/or download of the proposed album) from their page, even after the goal has been reached, so keep that “long green” comin’!


* I was going to write “keep her stool warm”, but that seems weirdly scatological…

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Aubrey On The Brain

Aubrey Plaza as 'April Ludgate' in "Parks and Recreation" (S1)I’m currently knee-deep in an obsessive Aubrey Plaza binge, having just gobbled down the first season of Legion, with the first season of Parks and Recreation for afters, and various YouTube skits and interview clips to fill in the cracks…

I’ve already written about Parks & Rec, so I won’t belabour the point… except to say that I’m probably enjoying it more this (second) time around, because I have a better idea of what to expect, and haven’t been crossing my fingers hoping it will become a kinder, huggier show. It is what it is, and it can be very funny when its characters aren’t being too dickish to each other… though I haven’t gotten to the Jerry-bashing runner in the second season yet, so I’m curious to see if my renewed fascination with Ms. Plaza can spur me on to keep watching the entire series…? Of course, the promise of Jenny Slate’s supporting role from S5-onwards is also quite a powerful incentive…

Aubrey Plaza as 'Lenny Busker' in "Legion" (S1)As for Legion, the trippy series about a schizophrenic superhero with reality-shattering psychic powers, I watched the first episode (or “chapter”, as they prefer to call them) back when it aired last year, but didn’t stick with it for some reason… it’s likely that I was too disoriented by the non-linear storytelling and stylistic collaging, and passed it over in favour of more straight-forward, meat-and-potatoes genre fare. Of course, that was before Twin Peaks returned, and blew the bar sky-high with its anatomy-of-a-mushroom-cloud minf*ckery, so this show now seems positively mainstream by comparison! If nothing else, it’s fun to see how far Plaza has come, from apathetic office-intern to sexy-scary supervillain! I won’t get into any spoilers here, largely because I’m still not entirely sure what was “real” and what wasn’t, but I enjoyed the ride immensely once I’d settled into my metaphorical seat, and consider Plaza’s dance sequence from Ch. #6 to be one of the awesomest spectacles ever televised.* Eat that, Moon landing!

Oh, and word-to-the-wise, there’s an important cliff-hanger “hidden” in the end credits of the S1 finale, so keep watching or you might be even-more-confused-than-usual when you move on to the second season…

Aubrey Plaza as 'The Princess' in "Troopers" (S1)Meanwhile, I also got a kick out of Plaza playing “The Princess” in a series of Star-Wars-spoofing sketches focussing on two incompetent “Troopers” aboard a knock-off Death Star, produced by CollegeHumour. It’s a shame they couldn’t afford to use more movie-accurate costumes and terminology, but the gags and delivery/editing are great, making these skits well worth a watch if you want a quick, cartoony laugh.

Regardless of the role, or interview topic, Plaza’s adorably-awkward intensity always cuts through, giving every appearance an off-kilter edge that I’m finding quite addictive right now… and apparently we have “Irish dancing” to thank for it!?

* Does anyone else think she kinda looks like a goth-y Marilyn Monroe? Either way, I’m kinda amazed/angry she didn’t score any big award nominations/wins for her performance here… the hair/costume/make-up departments were also inexplicably overlooked, despite the astounding transformation she underwent from episode-to-episode. Tch!

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My Pet Earworm

Rachel Bloom in “I Steal Pets” (2011)After playing (and replaying) a couple Garfunkel and Oates videos on my “smart” blu-ray player, the YouTube app thingy recommended that I check out some of (award-winning musical-comedian) Rachel Bloom’s work as well… thus infecting my brain with the insanely catchy song “I Steal Pets”, which is still on a permanent loop in my head, well over a week later! I’m hoping that if I pass on a link, and trick someone else into watching the (NSFW) video, I’ll be cured of this “curse”… like in The Ring…?

Interestingly, the video has its own IMDb page, where it’s currently rocking an approval rating of 7.7/10 (based on 35 votes), which is pretty impressive… and well-earned too, because it really is a great clip, adding plenty visual gags to an already very funny track… which is also available as an MP3, individually or as part of the album Please Love Me, released in 2013 (and currently boasting a five-star review-rating on!)

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The cast/crew of The USS Callister in “Black Mirror” (ep #4.1)Sooo, not that it really matters, but this year’s Emmy nominees have been announced, and there were a couple surprises/disappointments to swallow… such as their weird decision to classify the (awesome) “USS Callister” episode of Black Mirror as a “Television Movie”, and to only nominate lead-actor Jesse Plemons for an award, ignoring both Cristin Milioti and Jimmi Simpson (who probably isn’t feeling too down-hearted, with his “Guest Actor” nom for Westworld to ease the sting). They’ve also overlooked Alison Brie and Marc Maron’s stellar work in GLOW, so… I’m just gonna go ahead and call “shenanigans” on the whole thing!*
* Disclaimer: I’m sure that Betty Gilpin deserves a trophy for her performance in the show, but I just hate her character so damn much that I can’t be objective about it. Even if she wins, I’ll be fantasising about ‘Zoya’ zip-lining in to steal the “crown” from her… for honour of Potatograd!

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I Missed The Mabel

Mabel Aitken as 'Tracy' in "I Saw the Beast"Oh-my-blog, despite claiming to be a fan of elusive Scottish actress Mabel Aitken, it’s taken me over a year-and-a-half to realise that a new credit has been added to her IMDb page! As punishment for this egregious negligence, I’m making myself type this post with a pencil that I’ve taped to my nose, with the sharpened end jabbing into my forehead… so, it could take a while… ouchie… ouch… ouch…

Anyhoo, I Saw the Beast (2016) is a three-minute-long comedy short, set in the late-1970s, starring (yay!) Aitken as an obsessive spotter tracking a Bigfoot-like creature in a local forest, and returning home with scraps of inconclusive evidence to display to her disinterested husband. It’s a pretty slight skit overall, but it does give Aitken some fun comedy business to do, and it’s artfully shot, with a couple gorgeous close-ups of her smiling straight at the screen, so I’m certainly not complaining!

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New Nixey!

Super Deluxe Edition has posted an interview with my homegirl Sarah Nixey, in which she discusses (among other things) how she was sweet-talked into joining Black Box Recorder back in the day, and what she’s been up to since the band’s break-up in 2010. Aside from her early shunning of “the working world, which I decided pretty quickly I didn’t want to be part of”, I was also cheered by her genuine joy over appearing on Top of the Pops, to celebrate the success of the group’s slinky ode to sex-education, “The Facts of Life“. And the article ends on a very upbeat, with the news that Ms. Nixey will be releasing a new solo album (Night Walks) in “early October”, preceded by a lead-single, “Coming Up For Air”, on July 13th. Hurrah!

Sarah Nixey 5/11Meanwhile, I’m still kicking myself for not going up to London to see Luke Haines play The Lexington in May, where he was briefly joined onstage by Nixey and John Moore for a rather relaxed BBR “reunion”. Thankfully some kind soul has posted videos of them performing “England Made Me” and “Child Psychology” on the tubes, for sun-dodging lazybones like me to enjoy. The impetus for this impromptu musical meet-up was the (then) forthcoming release of Life Is Unfair, a shiny new box-set containing all three of BBR’s excellent studio albums, along with a bonus disc of B-sides/rarities, and a DVD of their promo videos and a couple live performances. I already own about 80% of this material (and several extra tracks which were omitted from this release without explanation), so it isn’t at the top of my personal shopping list… but it is incredibly good value for anyone who has some gaps to fill in their CD collection… and I am very covetous of the DVD, which offers a significant upgrade over the low-res videos that appeared on the (so-called) “Worst of” compilation…

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Best Wishes To Blue

Madeline Blue circa 6/18I was checking a couple Instagram pages yesterday, and was shocked to discover that Madeline Blue has been in a serious car accident. According to her post, she spent twelve hours in the E.R., after sustaining injuries including a burnt forearm and a split lip, but is now recuperating and recalibrating at home.

She also muses on the cost of vanity (both financial, physical, and metaphysical), as she waits to see what scars (if any) will remain as a reminder, and how that may affect her onscreen career. I know it’s none of my business, but the latest season of The Bridge (aka “Bron/Broen”) is on TV at the moment, and that show’s star, Sofia Helin, has a very obvious scar around/across her mouth (from a bicycle accident many years ago), which doesn’t seem to have hampered her prospects, or distracted from her dazzling talent. To quote a 2012 interview she gave to The Guardian: “At first I couldn’t even be grateful I had survived the accident, because I was so upset. But it gave me more confidence in the end, because I thought, ‘OK, I have a scar, but maybe I have something more to me than the way I look.'”

Likewise, there’s much more to Blue’s appeal than her looks… it’s her energy and expressiveness that make her stand out from the crowd. I’d even argue that scars make an actor more “real”, relatable, and recognisable… which could be valuable assets in such a crowded and competitive field… though, obviously I’m no expert, and this sort of thing is a lot easier to say when you’re on the outside observing from afar, rather than the actual person going through the experience first-hand! Either way, I wish her the very best, and am sending healing vibes her way.

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