Glen Weldon

Linda Holmes hosts from L.A. again, joining regular panelists Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon and our fourth chair this week, Slate's own Aisha Harris.

The topic: Luc Besson's gleefully schlocky, years-in-the-making science fiction ... epic? ... Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

June Foray is gone, leaving an absence, an ache, a cloud of whirling bobby pins in her wake.

The voice of many beloved animated characters, including the plucky Rocky the Flying Squirrel, the sinister spy Natasha Fatale, the tow-headed moppet Cindy-Lou Who and — most delightfully, to my mind — the girlishly ghoulish Witch Hazel, Foray died Thursday at the age of 99.

This week, our intrepid host Linda Holmes calls in from L.A., where she's attending the Television Critics' Association press tour, to host a discussion of the filthy, freewheeling and very, very funny Girls Trip. She's joined by regular panelist Stephen Thompson, Code Switch's Gene Demby, and special guest Aisha Harris from Slate.

We're recapping Season 7 of HBO's Game of Thrones here on Monkey See. We'll try to turn them around overnight, so look for them first thing on Mondays. And of course: Spoilers abound.

We'll be recapping Season 7 of HBO's Game of Thrones here on Monkey See. We'll try to turn them around overnight, so look for them first thing on Mondays. And of course: Spoilers abound

Long, long ago, when the Earth was new and ichthyosaurs swam the turbid seas, Iron Man 2 arrived in theaters. [Ed. Note — Simmer down. It was 2010.]

It was, most agreed, a disappointment, compared with its predecessor, despite a fun and deeply, deeply squirrelly Sam Rockwell performance. (Remember how he had bronzer on his palms? And no one mentioned it. It was just a character thing? Remember that? That was cool.)

We'll be releasing the results of this year's Summer Reader Poll on Comics and Graphic Novels later this week — and it's a varied and deeply idiosyncratic list, trust us. Y'all have some fascinating favorite comics.

Not to spoil anything, but the final list skews heavily toward recent offerings, which makes sense: The stuff that's been around a long time may earn people's respect, but new discoveries spark excitement. And that's what any survey that asks folks to name their favorites will naturally turn up.

Actor Michael Nyqvist, a respected Swedish actor whose achieved international fame originating the role of journalist Mikael Blomqvist in the 2009 Swedish-language film Män som Hatar Kvinnor (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and its two sequels, died after a battle with lung cancer, according to a statement released on Tuesday.

(Daniel Craig assumed the role of Blomqvist for the 2011 English-language film adaptation and its follow-ups.)

Contains spoilers for both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad.

Two shows, two slow, inexorable descents into moral bankruptcy.

Over five seasons, from 2008 to 2013, Breaking Bad showed us feckless chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) transforming — coalescing, really — into the coldly brutal drug-lord known as Heisenberg.

"Why is a welder like a woman in love?"

I'm 7 years old, standing between the two dogwood trees in my backyard. It's autumn; there's a crispness in the golden, late afternoon air. I've taken the hood of my parka and thrown it over my head, but my arms are not in the sleeves. The coat falls over my narrow, bird-boned shoulders and down my back.

Like a cape, you see.

This year, Free Comic Book Day turns sixteen years old.

The good news: It can drive itself to swim practice now!

The bad news: When you ask it to drive its younger siblings Record Store Day and Independent Bookstore Day to Gymboree it'll give you THAT LOOK IT GETS and spend the rest of the day sulking.

Here's the gist: Walk into a comic shop this Saturday, May 6, and you'll get some free comic books.

Forget the fava beans.

The main reason Jonathan Demme's Oscar-winning 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs gets its hooks in you — and leaves you feeling vaguely distracted and discomfited long after it's over — isn't anything Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter says.

It's how he says it. And to whom.

In the reality of the film, of course, he's directing his consummate, artisanal brand of creepiness at Jodie Foster's FBI agent, Clarice Starling.

Cathy Malkasian creates fantastic worlds out of her proprietary blend of melancholy and dream-logic, and peoples them with characters who are all too dully, achingly human. Her landscapes and cityscapes, rendered in gorgeous colored pencils, can seem as chilly and remote as her facial expressions seem warm and intimate.

It's a Wednesday at Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C., and the store is bustling.

Every Wednesday is New Comics Day — when subscribers come in to pick up the week's new titles, check in with each other, and talk comics. This Wednesday is no different.

Well. It's a little different.

I'm used to comics-shop chatter that revolves around things like which new books are worth checking out, what storylines have gone one way too long, and which hero could kick which other hero's butt.

Let's acknowledge this at the top: It's a thin slice.

To gaze across the great swath of written English over the past few centuries — that teeming, jostling, elbow-throwing riot of characters and places and stories and ideas — only to isolate, with dispassionate precision, some stray, infinitesimal data point such as which author uses cliches like "missing the forest for the trees" the most, would be like ...

Chuck Barris, the game show producer, emcee, author and songwriter who died Tuesday at his home in Palisades, N.J., at age 87, was in his time called "The King of Shlock," "The Baron of Bad Taste" and "The Ayatollah of Trasherola."

(... In fairness: It was the '70s.)

Robert Silvers, whose long career as an editor included terms at The Paris Review, Harper's and, most notably, as co-founder of The New York Review of Books, died Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

Silvers launched The New York Review of Books in 1963 with Barbara Epstein, intending to raise the standard of book reviewing. In its pages, a given book under consideration could be little more than a jumping-off point for an extended essay that directly engaged the political and cultural moment.

So. How'd you do?

Did you follow my advice in making your Oscar pool picks?

... You did? All of them? Hunh.

Well then. That means you got 13 out of the evening's 24 categories correct.

That's ... 54%.

So. Yes. Well. Cough.

12:39 a.m.: Next up on Pop Culture Happy Hour's end, we'll record a late-night Small Batch, which ought to be up in your feeds overnight. Too bad there won't be much to discuss...

Look: You want to win your Oscar pool. We want you to win your Oscar pool.

In truth, we feel we owe it to you.

You took our advice on the Emmys, last September, and you did ... okay. Seventeen right, out of 27 categories. Which, yes, if you're the kind of egregiously unimaginative churl who clings, with a willfully hidebound insistence, to the "rules" of "math," works out to 62%. A "failing" "grade."

We talk about movies often on Pop Culture Happy Hour, which means we've already devoted shows to most of the best picture Oscar nominees (see the bottom of this post).

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

A literary treasure buried for more than a century has been unearthed by Zachary Turpin, a grad student at the University of Houston.

Sunrise, sunset: light into darkness, darkness into light.

This perpetual cycling through archetypal phases of yin and yang, light slapstick and dour melodrama, is what lends Batman his unique mutability. His fellow heroes are a more stolid lot. They tend to pick a lane and stick with it.

Not Batman. Dude's ephemeral. A veritable will o' the wisp, that guy.

Season Two of the CW's darkly funny musical comedy series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend just ended, and it falls to me the doughty task of ranking, with a rigorous, resolute and clear-eyed empiricism, the numerous musical numbers contained in those thirteen episodes.

I shouldered this same burden for the show's first season, last year. The exacting scientific analysis I undertook produced this prohibitively, nay! forbiddingly objective ranking.

"That's a weird smile."

So says someone to Timothy Olyphant's manically grinning Joel Hammond, a few episodes into the smart, hugely funny Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet, and the thing is: they're right, it is weird.

Used to be, you could count on two fundamental truths:

1. Superheroes were jocks.

2. People who loved superhero comics were nerds.

Sweeping generalizations to be sure, and they grew steadily less and less true every time, over the last 75+ years, superheroes escaped the comic book page for radio, television and movies, where they found themselves embraced by a wider, less obsessive audience.

1. Don't.

2. No Seriously, Netflix: Do Not.

This is a thing for which no one — no one — was clamoring. There's still time to turn back! I'm the creepy guy at the beginning of the horror movie, imploring you not to enter the abandoned house/read from the blood-smeared tome/go for a swim, at night, alone. You don't have to do this. Save yourselves!

... Ok.

Updated 10:57 a.m.

Updated 9:53 a.m.

Updated 9:25 a.m.

When the nominees for the 2017 Academy Awards were announced this morning, La La Land racked up 14 nods, tying records held by Titanic and All About Eve.

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