Weekend Tunes: Robert Plant - House of Cards

It's been a while since I took the time to listen to Robert Plant's outstanding Band of Joy. Given everything that's happened over the past two years or even the past few days in North America, the album's second track, House of Cards, feels a little bit too real for Sunday afternoon listening. Read the rest

Game store accused of opening collectible card games and resealing them

A Magic:The Gathering pre-release kit [Amazon] is about $25 and contains six booster decks and a D20. What would you think if you bought 14 such kits from your local game store, received not one good card, then bought another kit at a grocery store and spotted that it was shrinkwrapped differently? Read the rest

Kevin Spacey made 'House of Cards' set 'toxic' with sexually 'predatory' behavior, sources say

Eight current or former "House of Cards" employees claim they were sexually harassed and/or physically sexually assaulted by Kevin Spacey. Read the rest

House of Cards, US vs UK editions

2013's House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey as a ruthless politician on his way to the top, was based upon 1990's House of Cards, starring Ian Richardson as a ruthless politician on his way to the top. They are both brilliant shows (catch a scene from the earlier version above), and an excellent illustration of the differences between American and British politics, drama and humor.

The comparison between the U.S. and U.K. versions of this program shows something about why I feel so profoundly American (rather than British), but also why the Brits excel at just this kind of thing. There are lots of tough breaks in Kevin Spacey's House of Cards, but in the end there is a jauntiness to it. People kill themselves; politicians lie and traduce; no one can be trusted -- and still, somewhere deep it has a kind of American optimism. That's us (and me). USA! USA! It's different in the UK version. Richardson's Francis Urquhart reminds us that his is the nation whose imagination produced Iago, and Uriah Heep, and Kingsley Amis's "Lucky Jim" Dixon. This comedy here is truly cruel -- and, one layer down, even bleaker and more squalid than it seems at first.

Both editions are on Netflix—the UK one is only a four-hour miniseries, too. Read the rest