American Dirt 'a solid pulp thriller,' second season of Sex Education hits Netflix, and more you need to know

The Buzz Bin

THE END IS NEAR: THE TICKET MASTER

Some things in life are too expensive to pay off all at once. A new car. A good education. The mortgage on your house. But concert tickets? While going through the rigamarole of securing seats for Janet Jackson's upcoming summer tour, I noticed I had the option of signing up for a payment plan to cover the $230 I was about to drop on my tickets. Going to see live music has become so expensive that soon we'll all be in debt to Ticketmaster. What's next — taking out a loan so you can afford something at the merch booth? (NATHAN WEINBENDER)


DISHING THE DIRT

I requested a library copy of Jeanine Cummins' novel American Dirt before it inflamed debate about literary representation, so I had to see what all the controversy was about. It tells of a middle-class Mexican mother and son posing as migrants to flee the crime boss who massacred their family, and its apparent tone-deafness had Latinx writers questioning whether a white author was the right person to tell this story. Cummins even canceled her book tour, including a Spokane stop. So how is the book? It's a tightly paced page-turner, sure, but its use of Spanglish is indeed awkward, and many of its twists beggar belief. A solid pulp thriller, but the "Grapes of Wrath for our times," to quote the Don Winslow blurb on the front cover? Hardly. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)


WASTELAND REDUX

Society as we know it has been destroyed in the aftermath of a global conflict, c. 1998. One hundred years later, humanity is plagued by raiders, mutants and miles of radiation. That's the premise for the 1988 retro classic PC game Wasteland, and it's getting a reboot on Xbox on Feb. 25. There have been modern sequels, but the original game is deemed responsible for shaping the Fallout universe and the post-apocalypse genre as we know it. (QUINN WELSCH)


THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST

Some noteworthy new music hits online and in stores Feb. 21. To wit:

Best Coast, Always Tomorrow. The retro-pop duo are back with their first album in five years.

Greg Dulli, Random Desire. The Afghan Whigs frontman releases his first solo album after a mere 34 years in the music biz.

Ozzy Osbourne, Ordinary Man. You know, an ordinary decapitating-a-bat-with-his-teeth man. (DAN NAILEN)


SEX IS STILL FUN

When British comedy/drama Sex Education premiered in early 2019, it was an immediate breath of fresh, funny air, dealing with teenage emotions and sexuality in realistic ways American TV producers seemingly refuse to. The second season, now streaming on Netflix, is just as rewarding thanks to the focus shifting to the characters surrounding our adolescent, amateur high school sex therapist Otis (Asa Butterfield). We learn about the complicated family lives of the students, and see some of our favorite characters blossom into multidimensional humans. The adults, particularly Gillian Anderson as Otis's professional sex therapist mom, get nearly equal billing this time, and the season-ending production of Romeo & Juliet: The Musical is worth every minute spent leading up to it. (DAN NAILEN)

Leonid Bergoltsev: People Among People: Other Times, Other Places @ Hamilton Studio

Mondays-Fridays. Continues through March 31
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