Is Time Running Out To Enjoy Cuba?

My one published novel takes place in Cuba so you’d think I’d have been there by now: Nope. Even worse: I have no plans to go, even though I agree wholeheartedly with what blogger Jeffrey Wells writes, on the occasion of Conan going to Cuba, which airs tonight: ‘The hip thing was to go to Cuba when it wasn’t that easy to go there. It’s still fairly cool now but in three or five or seven years you’ll start to see American corporate franchises pop up here and there, and while I’m sure the Edsels and cheap hotels and native food stands will hold their ground that old romantic Havana thing that Graham Greene used to write about and Wim Wenders captured in “Buena Vista Social Club” and which you can sense Read more »

Canadians Keep “Spocking” Their Fives

The death of actor Leonard Nimoy last week has inspired people to post photos on social media of marked-up five-dollar Canadian banknotes that show former prime minister Wilfrid Laurier transformed to resemble Spock. For years, Canadians have been wielding pens to draw Spock’s pointy Vulcan ears, sharp eyebrows and signature bowl haircut on the fiver’s image of Laurier, Canada’s first Francophone prime minister. Canada’s central bank said this week it’s not illegal to deface or even mutilate banknotes, although there are laws that prohibit reproducing a current bill electronically.

Fired For Her Curves: Ruby Strikes Back

Never tell a lady she is not the right body type – a club and its owners are feeling the wrath of social media and some major voices in the world of burlesque. The controversy involves a club called Lucky Pierre’s in New Orleans, and a performer named Ruby Rage (pictured). Not skinny enough? Please.

Turns Out Maggie May Be Staying

I guess PBS executives must have had a giant collective heart attack the other day when Maggie Smith told a Sunday Times interviewer that she would be leaving “Downton Abbey” after its next season. Because “Downton” without Maggie would hardly be worth watching, and PBS without “Downton” would be a fundraiser’s nightmare. So “Downton” publicists are now doing damage control and saying that Smith has always agreed to stay with the show “for as long as the show runs.” Smith has the right idea: it’s time for the show to end: too many of its characters — Edith, Barrow, Mary — have become tiresome. The sixth season should be the last.

Lead Belly Collection Is A Blast

Pitchfork comments: ‘“Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection is not only the first full career retrospective of one of the most significant musicians of the twentieth century. It’s also a blast. We have an image of Lead Belly as a somber bluesman, a stoic song collector who wore a perpetually solemn expression like that on the cover of the new 5xCD set. That was, of course, only one side of the musician, who memorized and personalized a vast array of American work songs, play songs, Tin Pan Alley hits, spirituals, blues, ballads, reels, hollers, jigs, calls, and more. He was as much a raconteur as he was a songster, and when he has a chance to tell you all about a song—where it came from, how he heard it, why it sounds the way it does, or how it fits into your everyday life—Lead Belly reveals the dynamism of a great storyteller.’

“SNL” Orders Chinese Version

China is set to screen its own version of “Saturday Night Live” after an internet company in the country said it had reached a deal to adapt the show. But do you think that the Chinese “SNL” will be able to poke fun at China’s leadership the way that “SNL” sends up America’s? Doubtful. Sohu, which has streamed the New York version of the show since 2013, is in the process of recruiting comedians for the show, which is being tailored for Chinese audiences but “will have international appeal,” Sohu said in a statement. Consultants from “SNL” will help with the Chinese version of the show, which aims to premiere at the end of 2015 or early 2016. Countries including Brazil and Japan have aired their own versions. In 2013, actor Tom Hiddleston (pictured) danced on SNL Korea – South Korea’s version.

Wu-Tang Unveil Most Expensive Album Ever

On Monday night, RZA introduced 13 minutes of the 31-track “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” which will be auctioned off to a single person in order ‘to restore the concept of value to music.’ Someone who was at the event writes: ‘Six years in the making, 31 tracks long and featuring cameos from “Game of Thrones” actor Carice van Houten and players from FC Barcelona, Shaolin is billed as the return to the Wu-Tang’s “36 Chambers” roots – it was even recorded in their alma mater, Staten Island.’