Five Things: June 23, 2020

Busy day! Let’s get to today’s five.

Meet my newkulele: Get it? Huh? Huh? Huh? It’s a Fender Fullerton Jazzmaster ukulele in Tidepool Blue; you can’t tell very well in the photo but it’s sparkly. I have several ukes in the house so I didn’t really need a new one, but — look! It’s like a tiny guitar! It’s so cool! And anyway it has a couple of features I wanted that none of my other ukes had, and also it was my vastly belated birthday gift to me, so. These are my excuses. It sounds nice and plays well and like all my musical instruments its true limiting factor is the person playing it. I’m enjoying it regardless.

Europe considering travel restrictions on US residents: I mean, I would, in their shoes. They actually made an effort to tamp down coronavirus transmission, while we basically farted about and can’t get a sizeable percentage of our population to wear a friggin’ mask. I traveled to the continent last year and was happy to have been able to have the privilege, but I totally understand if they’re not in a huge rush to have me back. They know where I’ve been, i.e., here in Covidvania.

Speaking of travel restrictions: Severe restrictions this year on the Hajj, the journey to Mecca every ablebodied Muslim is enjoined to make at least once in their life. Mllions usually go each year; this year it will be limited to 10,000. Which is wild. And historic, as the article notes that the last time restrictions were this severe it was because of Napoleon. That’s… a lot to take in. Sympathies to my Muslim friends.

Covid claims another theatrical release: This one the new SpongeBob movie, which is now to be released on VOD and then on CBS All Access. This is not terribly surprising and also a pretty safe bet, since the movie’s audience is (generally) young enough that having them watch it at home is probably a better idea anyway. As a long-time movie industry watcher, it’s been interesting watching which films are ditching the theaters, and what that means for Hollywood’s confidence about people going back to the cineplex. So far it’s kid’s films and indies that have made the switch, which again, have been safe bets for skipping theaters entirely. The only film with a truly significant budget to make the swap so far is Artemis Fowl, which a) is still a kid film, b) was shaping up to be a flop so it didn’t hurt Disney much to do it (they saved millions on global publicity budgets). When someone releases a $100M+ adult franchise film to VOD, that’s going to be an interesting day.

Speaking of ukuleles: The Cure’s “The Lovecats,” done by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. You’re welcome.

26 Comments on “Five Things: June 23, 2020”

  1. Ok, it’s not $100M (reportedly around $50M), but does Tom Hanks’ movie Greyhound count as significant? It skipped theaters and went to Apple TV+.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing that charming video. At this moment in these “interesting times” in which we live, I so needed that. Also, The Last Emperox was an excellent read, and I loved the ending.

  3. So, as Inspector Clouseau was to his Stradivarius Violin, John Scalzi is to his ukulele?

  4. Thanks for the”Lovecats” video. It made me smile. Is there really such a thing as a bass uke?

  5. SSteve:

    And also not a franchise film. I think it was smart for Apple+ to pick it up, however. It’s perfect for how it’s positioning itself and for who it thinks its audience is.

  6. Didn’t realize you were in to Ukulele’s as well.
    If you do not mind, then, I would like to recommend ‘Thomas Benjamin Wild, esq’ on youtube. He has several great songs, some with a Ukulele, and some with a Banjolele. My favorite (for now) of his songs are ‘Could You Really Not Just Put That in an eMail’, ‘I’ve No More F&%@s to Give’ (NSFW, btw), and ‘Awkward Encounters While Walking My Dog’.

  7. I just flashed on an image of Hendrix shredding on one of those. Upside down and backwards.

  8. Why is it a “newkulele” as opposed to a “blukulele”? Or have you simply decided to hold off on calling it a blukulele until such time as it is no longer a newkulele?

  9. The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has been posting videos like that almost weekly on their YouTube since the lockdown. As a science fiction fan, one of my favorites is their rendition of Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine” (

  10. The new paradigm for new releases needs to happen now. I’ll pay 20 bucks right now to see Scarlet Witch or Wonder Woman. My TV is large and I’m not surrounded by morons on the phone.

    Theaters are only good for Rocky Horror anymore.

  11. Bob Kroll just said a bunch of stuff that history can only be summarize as “let them eat cake”.

  12. The great Britain Ukulele’s cover of ‘Pin Ball Wizard’ is great. Maybe the best version ever.

  13. I keep hoping that Hollywood will figure out there is a middle ground between the gross-GDP budget movies and the small-budget movies out there and that there is an audience out there who wants them and can be accessed directly. Much like straight-to-video did in the day, maybe we’ll get the middle budget movies greenlit again and marketed directly to the end-consumer. I

  14. Since people are enjoying ukulele sounds, some might also enjoy looking up “Mr. B the gentleman rhymer “ on the ol’Tube. Some odd, some ‘?’, plenty of hilarity.

  15. OK, I’ll have to quit ranking on ukuleles. I like Jake S. and Molly Lewis (esp her classic song Road Trip), but they weren’t enough to convince me. I heard someone playing something near my storage unit and had to ask him if he was playing mandolin or ukulele (it wasn’t loud and clear enough for the difference in timbre to be clear). I told that that the fact that I was asking this question was a compliment to his playing. But that wasn’t enough either.

    The Uke Orchestra is great. The live stuff is most excellent. Loved the National resonator uke in Silver Machine. I will stop now.

    As the proud owner and operator of a 1966 Stratocaster (a little younger than me) I have problems with the words “Jazzmaster” and “ukulele” occurring together. Does this mean that … … noooo … there are strat ukes and tele ukes! And a Les Paul uke? Is nothing sacred? Could there be … … Oh. My. God. There’s a Flying V electric ukulele.

    Nonetheless, I said I would stop ranking on ukuleles.

    Wha? Banjolele?

    I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

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