The range of Bill Paxton: Destined to get overshadowed by the Oscars, the loss of Bill Paxton at 61 last week generated numerous tributes to his oafishly arrogant characters that included the goofily fatalistic Hudson in "Aliens," and the abusive Chet in "Weird Science." But Paxton offered more than his comic characters, as seen in his turns as the conflicted patriarch of HBO's "Big Love," the working-class father aiming to keep a load of found money in "A Simple Plan" and an unhinged biker vampire in Kathryn Bigelow's "Near Dark." Paxton so often delivered more than expected, and that's what we'll miss most.
Grandaddy: Survivors of an early-’00s music blitz that saw multiple bands tabbed as “the American Radiohead,” this group fronted by Modesto’s Jason Lytle came closest to the title with 2000’s technology-questioning concept album “The Sophtware Slump.” Lytle recently reformed the band for its first new music in 11 years, and the wryly named “Last Place” shows Grandaddy hasn’t aged a bit. Armed with buzzy synthesizers and fuzzed-out guitars to frame Lytle’s weary yet sticky melodies, the band may be too off-center get the attention it deserves, but these musicians continue to sound only like themselves.
Jordan Horowitz's heroism: The final moments of last Sunday's snafu at the Academy Awards have been analyzed like Hollywood's equivalent of the Zapruder film, but for all the excitement generated by "Moonlight's" surprise victory, let's hope a little distance recalibrates this "La La Land" producer's place in Oscar history. It's unclear whether our low opinion of show business or humanity itself inflated a refusal to accept an honor one didn't win into a noble gesture, but at this rate a bronze statue of Horowitz revealing the true best picture winner seems likely for the front of the Dolby Theatre any day now.
SpaceX: After decades of representing the pinnacle of human achievement and daring that inspired all corners of pop culture, space travel has now become a luxury item akin to a Concorde flight to Paris. This week the company fronted by Silicon Valley magnate Elon Musk announced plans to send two people who have evidently exhausted all other uses for their considerable wealth and are paying for SpaceX to fling them around the moon in 2018. With economic disparity still one of biggest issues around the world, would it be so unreasonable to start a crowdfunding campaign to leave them there?
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