We Are

We Are by the talented New Orleans singer, songwriter, and musician, Jon Batiste, is a moving album. The themes of nostalgia and social justice are reflected through rhythm and blues, jazz, rap, pop, gospel, and soul. The uplifting title song, "We Are" includes the Gospel Soul children and the St. Augustine High School Marching 100 and stretches out over 4 minutes.

I enjoyed listening to the messages and the variety of the music styles and instruments. Besides "We Are" I especially liked "Freedom", and "I Need You".

At the 2022 Grammy Awards We Are won the 2022 Grammy Album of the Year, "Cry" won Best American Roots Song, and "Freedom" won Best Music Video.

Listen to We Are on Hoopla or check out the cd.


Deja Vu

Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young released Déjà Vu about 50 years ago. It was the second studio album by Crosby, Stills & Nash, and their first with Neil Young. It was released in March 1970 by Atlantic Records and generated three Top 40 singles: "Teach Your Children", "Our House", and the Joni Mitchell song, "Woodstock". I especially enjoyed "Carry On", written by Stephen Stills.

Two of the songs represented the group as a whole and the others showcased individual members. Each musician had been founding members of bands that were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: David Crosby, The Byrds; Graham Nash, The Hollies; and Stephen Stills and Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield.

Listen to Deja Vu (1970) on Hoopla today.


Live at the Checkerboard Lounge by Muddy Waters

On November 22, 1981, The Rolling Stones were in Chicago for a concert and stopped at Buddy Guy's Checkerboard Lounge to hear Muddy Waters and get back to their blues roots. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, and Ian Stewart joined in with Muddy Waters, the father of modern Chicago blues. Buddy Guy and Lefty Dizz are also featured. Junior Wells is excellent on the harmonica.

Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones turned the song "Baby Please Don't Go" into an eleven-minute jam session. The Rolling Stones were named after the Muddy Waters song, "Rollin' Stone."

Listen to Live at the Checkerboard Lounge (2017) on Hoopla today. Place a hold on the Live at the Checkerboard Lounge DVD (2012) to watch a young Mick Jagger singing and interacting with Muddy Waters and Keith Richards jamming on the guitar.


Drive-In Movie Memories

.Relive a simpler time by watching Drive-In Movie Memories (2001). This informative and fascinating film covers the history of drive-in movies from the start in the 1920s through the boomtime, decline, and comeback, along with personal memories.

The boom started at the end of World War II when families could pile into their car, watch a movie, and enjoy refreshments without hiring a babysitter or spending a lot of money. In the 1960s, the introduction of television reduced business, and17-to-23-year-olds became prime customers (and cars became passion pits). Drive-ins started fading in the 1970s for a number of reasons.

The comebacks are largely limited to small towns. Chicagoland has one drive-in theater, in McHenry. I remember going to the 66 Drive-In in Countryside with my family wearing pajamas to watch The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963, rated PG) and then as an adult to Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, drive-in theaters have reported an unexpected surge in attendance because of social distancing. Also, temporary theaters have been set up in parking lots. The Cascade Drive-In hopes to reopen.

Watch Drive-In Movie Memories immediately on Hoopla or check out the DVD.

Charlie Brown Holiday Specials

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas will air commercial-free on WTTW Sunday, November 22, at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 13, at 6:30 p.m. respectively. In October Apple TV+ acquired the rights to be the sole home of the Peanuts' holiday specials and only available to subscribers. Thousands of people petitioned that It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and the other holiday family specials are part of holiday traditions and should be shown on network television especially during these difficult times. An agreement was reached between PBS and Apple TV+.

You can also check out A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving or A Charlie Brown Christmas on dvd or a Roku with Apple TV+ to watch them more than once.

Tribute to Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen, the legendary guitarist, songwriter, and co-founder of the rock band, Van Halen, passed away on October 6 at the age of 65. Eddie and his brother Alex founded Van Halen in 1972 which also featured Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth and later Sammy Hagar. He was known for his exuberant, lightning-fast solos. Eddie's guitar sound, heavy on tapping, with both hands on the neck of the instrument, made him one of the all-time great guitar players in rock history. A blend of spontaneity and precision ran through Eddie's greatest performances.

Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Van Halen became increasingly successful. Early hits such as 1979's "Dance the Night Away" eventually gave way to the bestselling 1984, the band's sixth album which spawned the chart-topping "Jump," as well as flamboyant hits like "Panama" and "Hot for Teacher." They went to the top of the charts with its next four albums: 5150 (1986), OU812 (1988), For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991), and Balance (1995).

Some of Eddie's solos that showcase his guitar techniques were "Eruption" and "I'm the One" from Van Halen, "Cathedral" from Diver Down, "Mean Street" from Fair Warning, and "Drop Dead Legs" from 1984. Eddie Van Halen took less than an hour to record the electrifying solo on Michael Jackson's "Beat It," and he wasn't even paid for it.

Eddie Van Halen also dedicated his time to tweaking and adjusting the tools of his trade. The man who created the Frankenstrat (a cross between a Fender and a Gibson electric guitar) holds three different patents having to do with guitars.

For the album, Unlawful Carnal Knowledge the Van Halen band received Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Album at the 1992 American Music Awards and the 1992 Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocals. Also, they received MTV Music video awards for Best Stage Performance in a Video for Jump in 1984 and Video of the Year for Right Now in 1992. In 2007 Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Listen to some of Van Halen's music or read biographies about Eddie Van Halen and Van Halen on Hoopla.

Celebrating Diana Rigg

Veteran movie, stage, and television actress, Diana Rigg, passed away on September 10 at the age of 82. The Emmy and Tony award winning British actress is best known for her performance as Emma Peel in The Avengers in the 1960s and recently as Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.

She began her acting career on the stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company and continued acting in plays throughout her life in London and on Broadway. Diana won the 1994 Tony Award for Best Actress for her performance in Medea.

In 1990 she won a British Academy Film Award (Bafta) for the role of an obsessive mother in the BBC television drama, Mother Love. She won an Emmy for portraying Mrs Danvers in Rebecca (1997) and starred as the amateur detective Mrs. Bradley in the PBS series, The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries.

On the big screen she starred in the James Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, opposite George Lazenby and became the only Bond girl to get the secret agent to the altar, although the marriage was abruptly cut short when her character was shot dead soon after the wedding. Others movies she acted in were Theater of Blood, The Assassination Bureau, and The Painted Veil.

Diana was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1994 by Queen Elizabeth II for her long contributions to theater and film.

Watch a few of Diana Rigg's movies or television programs or read a biography about her on Hoopla.

Honoring Olivia de Havilland

Legendary actress Olivia de Havilland passed away on July 26 at the age of 104. She was one of the last remaining stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Her career spanned more than fifty years and forty-nine feature films. She won Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role for To Each His Own and The Heiress. Olivia was well known for her roles in Gone with the Wind, The Snake Pit, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte. She had an ongoing rivalry with her younger sister, actress Joan Fontaine.

Backed by the Screen Actors Guild, Olivia took Warner Brothers to court in 1943 when it added time to her original contract as a penalty for turning down roles. The California Supreme Court ruled in her favor in what became known as the De Havilland Law, which loosened the grip studios had on their actors.

In 1952 Olivia's handprints and footprints and handprints were added to a concrete slab at Grauman's Chinese Theater, and in 1960 she was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2017 by Queen Elizabeth II.

Watch a few of Olivia de Havilland's movies or read a biography about her on Hoopla.

Honoring John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis, a Civil Rights icon, passed away on July 17 at the age of 80. He was instrumental in the historic nonviolent struggle for racial equality in the United States. John Lewis joined the Freedom Riders in 1961 who were determined to ride an integrated bus from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans. In 1963 he became chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee until 1966. John Lewis was one of the "Big Six" leaders who organized the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, which led to the Civil Rights Act. In March 1965 he helped lead a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama for African American voting rights which became violent and was known as "Bloody Sunday." In 1970 he became Director of the Voter Education Project until 1977.

John Lewis was elected to the United States House of Representatives for Georgia's 5th congressional district in 1986 and served seventeen terms. At the time of his death, he was the senior Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party and a member of the House Ways & Means Committee. In an increasingly polarized Washington, John Lewis managed to gather and maintain admirers across party lines.

The civil rights icon has also been honored with numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the NAACP's Spingarn Medal and the sole John F. Kennedy "Profile in Courage Award" for Lifetime Achievement.

View The Washington Post's a visual story to remember his legacy.

John Lewis wrote the March trilogy, graphic novels depicting the first-hand account of his lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. Borrow them from Hoopla.

Watch documentaries, Freedom Riders, on Hoopla or check out The March: the story of the greatest march in American history.


In Nancy by Olivia Jaimes (2019), look at a collection of current Nancy newspaper comic strips. In 2018, Olivia Jaimes became the first woman to write and illustrate the classic comic strip. Nancy, a precocious eight year old, starred in the newspaper comic strip starting in 1938. Written and drawn by Ernie Bushmiller until his death in 1982, various writers and artists have continued the strip.

Jaimes, using a clever and minimalistic style, brings a fresh approach to Nancy and brought her into the 21st century, including cell phones and a robotics class. Nancy, her friend Sluggo, and Aunt Fritzi continue to be entertaining at school, home, and play. I had not seen the comic strip in years, so reading the book brought back memories of laughing at the simple strip. Nancy appeals to a broad audience.

Celebrating Carl Reiner

The legendary comedian, actor, writer, director, and producer, Carl Reiner, passed away on June 29 at the age of 98. His career scanned seven decades. Carl Reiner is best known for The Dick Van Dyke Show. In 1959 he created the pilot for a TV series, Man of the House, which became The Dick Van Dyke Show. He won five Emmy Awards for writing and producing the show. It was on television for five years and then went into syndication for many generations to enjoy.

In the 1950s Carl Reiner acted in Your Show of Shows and acted and started his writing career with Caesar's Hour starring Sid Caesar. In 1960 he teamed up with Mel Brooks and their routine "The 2000 Year Old Man" was a huge success. They won a Grammy Award for the album based on this routine.

Some of his memorable movies were Ocean's Eleven, The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!, The Jerk, The End, Oh, God!, The Thrill of it All, All of Me, and Toy Story 4.

Carl Reiner won many awards and honors. In 1960 he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Also, he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2000 Carl was awarded the Mark Twain for American Humor at the Kennedy Center. The Directors Guild of America awarded the talented director with the Honorary Life Member Award. Carl and his son, Rob Reiner, became the first father-son duo to have their footprints and handprints added to a concrete slab at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 2017.

Watch The Dick Van Dyke Show on Hoopla. Listen to Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks' 2000 Year Old Man routines on Hoopla.

Honoring Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Spanish Novelist

Bestselling novelist, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, passed away on June 19 at the age of 55. "The Shadow of the Wind", a gothic mystery, written in 2001 sold millions of copies worldwide, and became the first of a four-book series, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Previously he successfully wrote young adult books for 10 years. His books are published in 45 countries and translated into more than 40 different languages, making him the most read Spanish author after Miguel de Cervantes.

In an essay on his website, Mr. Ruiz Zafón explained: "I have written for young readers, for the movies, for so-called adults; but mostly for people who like to read and to plunge into a good story. I do not write for myself, but for other people. Real people. For you." He concluded, "I became a writer, a teller of tales, because otherwise I would have died, or worse."

Read or listen to Carlos Ruiz Zafón's books on Overdrive. Also, ebooks and audiobooks are available immediately on Hoopla.

Honoring Jean Kennedy Smith

Jean Kennedy Smith, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and last surviving JFK sibling, passed away on June 28 at the age of 92. In 1993 she was named ambassador to Dublin by President Bill Clinton and played a major role in the Northern Ireland peace process. Also, she founded Very Special Arts which provides arts and education opportunities for people with disabilities, especially children and youth. In 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama awarded Jean Kennedy Smith the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor for her work with people with disabilities.

Jean Ann Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts the eighth of nine children and the youngest daughter of Joseph P. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. She married Stephen E. Smith, a New York financier in 1956 who passed away in 1990. They had four children, Kym, Amanda, Stephen Jr., and William.

She published a memoir. The Nine of Us,in 2016 in which she remarked that her childhood seemed "unexceptional". Visit Hoopla and read the ebook or listen to the audiobook.

Honoring Bonnie Pointer

Bonnie Pointer, a founding member of the Pointer Sisters, passed away on June 8 at the age of 69. Bonnie and her sisters grew up singing in the choir at their father's Oakland church. Bonnie and June Pointer formed The Pointers in 1969 which evolved into The Pointer Sisters when their older sister, Anita, joined the group. Bonnie was a singer and songwriter who embraced elements of soul, pop and jazz. Bonnie and Anita wrote the group's country hit, "Fairytale," in 1974, which crossed over to become a Top 20 pop hit and won the group their first Grammy for Best Country Vocal by a Duo or Group. Anita and Bonnie also were nominated for Best Country Song at the same ceremony. The group performed "Fairytale" at the Grand Ole Opry making them the first African-American vocal group to appear there. Three years later, Bonnie and Anita wrote "Bring Your Sweet Stuff Home To Me" with Stevie Wonder, and recorded it with him for The Pointer Sisters' album, Having A Party.

Bonnie Pointer left the group in 1977 to pursue a solo career. Her biggest successes were on the dance charts. When Bonnie signed with Motown Records in 1978, "Heaven Must Have Sent You" was among the tracks chosen for her first album there. The entire project was produced by Berry Gordy and Jeffrey Bowen whom she married in 1978, but later divorced. It became a major hit when released as the second single from her first album, Bonnie Pointer. The album featured Bonnie's version of another Motown classic, "When I'm Gone," as well as new material composed by Jeffrey Bowen and Donald Baldwin. Pointer released another album, If the Price Is Right, in 1984, but then largely stepped away from recording, except for Like a Picasso released in 2011. She also occasionally reunited with her sisters to perform.

Listen to some of Bonnie Pointer's solo performances or the Pointer Sisters music on Hoopla. 

A Star is Born Soundtrack

This moving soundtrack is from the award-winning movie A Star is Born starring Lady Gaga as the struggling songwriter, Ally, and Bradley Cooper as the famous country music singer, Jackson Maine. It features blues and folk rock, country, pop, rock, piano ballads, and heart-wrenching duets that complement the heartfelt tale of doomed romance.

Bradley Cooper(who knew he could sing?) took on the blues-inflected, country-rock soul of Jackson Maine. The talented Lady Gaga excels in her powerful solos. The progression of songs goes from cover songs when Ally hasn't been discovered yet, to power ballads, to pop-radio songs, and finishes with "I'll Never Love Again."

"Shallow" is a highlight of this soundtrack. Watch Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper perform it at the 2019 Academy Awards. Lady Gaga won an Oscar for Best Original Song. They both won a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Lady Gaga and the other songwriters won a Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper took the lead in writing their own songs with help from Lukas Nelson and D.J. White Shadow aka Paul Blair.The soundtrack is interspersed with dialogue from the movie which gives perspective.

Besides "Shallow," I especially liked "Always Remember Us This Way," "Is That Alright," "Maybe It's Time," and "I'll Never Love Again."

Listen to A Star is Born Soundtrack (2018) on Hoopla. There is also a version without dialogue.To watch the movie, place a hold on the DVD or Blu-ray.