New poster for Iron Man 3

BBC Radio this week: The Jam; History of the LP; Brian Aldis Presents; The Goon Show

Click the links to hear the following programs.

The Jam on the BBC Johnnie Walker introduces a portrait of The Jam and lead singer Paul Weller, drawn entirely from BBC archive interviews and performances.

Long Players Just over sixty years ago an invention was launched that was to change the music world forever: after years of being restricted to 4 minutes a side, artists suddenly had 40 minutes to play with: this was the birth of the album. David Quantick tells the story of the LP and puts into its social context from vinyl to i-pod and back.

Brian Aldis Presents: The Cage Britain's leading sci-fi exponent selects Bertram Chandler's story. How to prove you're rational. Read by Catherine Cusack.

The Goon Show Who Is Pink Oboe? Cowardly Captain Seagoon is at war. With Peter Sellers on leave, Graham Stark is enlisted.

Pop stuff: What I'm reading, hearing, watching etc.

Petra Goes to the Movies by Petra Haden
The follow-up to her a capella cover of the entire The Who Sell Out album, Haden's new one features her one-woman-choir versions of 16 film tunes, most of them originally instrumentals.

To replicate the sounds of bands and orchestras, Haden puts her versatile voice to  work singing all the interweaving parts. Sure, some of it sounds like a novelty album, which I guess it sort of is, but it's also a masterpiece of singing and overdubbing. Not too many folks could pull this off.

Some of the tunes, particularly those with jazz elements, sound a bit like the Swingle Singers, but mostly Haden sounds just like herself. Anyone familiar with her earlier work will know the twisted mind and fabulous voice behind the rendition of the "Psycho Main Title" found here. That tune is worth the ticket price. Haden also does a nice version of "Goldfinger." Are John Williams' "The Man from Krypton" from the first "Superman" film is also great fun.

Elsewhere, things are prettier and more traditional. Haden sings a lovely straight vocal on "It Might Be You," a nice song from "Tootsie" on which she's joined by the brilliant guitarist Bill Frisell.

On "This is Not America," from "The Falcon and the Snowman," she's joined again by Frisell and by her father, the legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden. Pianist Brad Mehldau appears on "Calling You" from "Baghdad Cafe." But mostly it's just Haden, and amazingly so.

The Fortune of War by Patrick O'Brian
I've been very gradually working my way through Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels for several years now, but seem to have quickened my pace of reading with each entry. At some point, I'll lose all control and end up reading the rest of the series (20 books in all, plus one unfinished entry) in one mad rush, but I'd hate to see it all end.

These books, as any O'Brian aficionado will  waste no time in telling you, are a joy to read.

Set during the Napoleonic Wars, the series centers on the wonderful friendship between two quite different men: Captain Jack Aubrey, an outgoing, jovial, sometimes brash man of action, and Stephen Maturin, Aubrey's ship-board surgeon, who's quiet, sometimes brooding and prone to extreme self-reflection.

There's plenty of action, and nautical lingo, as the duo sail from adventure to adventure and battle to battle, but there's plenty to think about, too. Aubrey and Maturin are among literature's most-fleshed-out, "real" characters. We get to know them better and better as the series goes on. And they change and grow. I like both of these guys. A lot. I celebrate their good fortunes and sympathize when they're injured -- both physically in battle, and psychologically through misfortune and heartbreak.

It took me the first couple of books to get comfortable with O'Brian's use of period language and naval terms, but once it became familiar, my reading of the books sped up and my interest grew and grew.

I highly recommend these novels to anyone who loves good writing, and urge you not to be put off due to the language, or the idea that they are somehow of a "genre" and therefore not worth your attention.

My wife and I finally got a chance to see this acclaimed film about an offbeat secret operation used to free a small group of Americans during the Iran hostage crisis in the late 1970s.

It's a captivating, entertaining stoty -- one of those that will put you on edge, even though you know the outcome.

Ben Affleck's direction is as subtle as his performance -- quiet, not showy, but very effective. There are lots of nice period touches, right down to the film's titles, that put me back in those times.

Readers of this blog and fans of comics artist Jack Kirby may know that he played a minor, unwitting, role in this odd episode of the American history and the film gives a nod to that, too. Nice touch.

I'm not going to spoil any of the story. I'll just say you should see the film while it's still playing on a few screens nationwide. It's worth of all of the awards it's received and likely to receive.

Video find: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass TV appearances

Can a jazz snob like me enjoy instro-pop like HATB? Heck yeah!

Fantagraphics announces Peanuts "Every Sunday" collections

Fantagraphics is supplementing its "Complete Peanuts" collections with a new series of books focusing on just the Sunday strips, in large, color format. The first volume will be out this fall.

Designed as a series of ten massive coffee-table quality books, each one containing a half-decade's worth of Sunday strips, Peanuts Every Sunday is a book to be enjoyed any day, not just Sundays. Remembered by Peanuts fans from the original newspaper strips, the striking colors of the Red Baron dashing across the sky to the soft blue hue of Linus' blanket to Woodstock's fuzzy yellow head all grace the pages of Peanuts Every Sunday. Enjoy the secret pleasure of seeing Charlie's original zigzag shirt in many colors before becoming its trademark yellow.

Comics collections new releases Jan. 30, 2013: Creepy Archives 15; Batman Golden Dawn; Justice League Villain's Journey; Star Wars Infinities; X-9 Secret Agent Corrigan 5; Fantastic Four Reunited They Stand; Tintin Giant Fascimile Editions, more!

Click the links to order discounted items from Amazon.

Creepy Archives Volume 15

Batman: The Dark Knight: Golden Dawn

Justice League, Vol. 2: The Villain's Journey (The New 52)

Star Wars Omnibus: Infinities

X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan Volume 5

Fantastic Four: Reunited They Stand

Prince Valiant: 1947-1948 (Vol. 6)

The Secret of the Unicorn: Collector's Giant Facsimile Edition (The Adventures of Tintin)

Red Rackham's Treasure: Collector's Giant  Facsimile Edition (The Adventures of Tintin)

Cartoon Network dumps Green Lantern, New Justice, announces new Batman and Teen Titans series

The Cartoon Network is dropping "Green Lantern: The Animated Series" and "Young Justice" and bringing on two new series for its 2013-14 lineup:

TEEN TITANS GO!: Featuring the return of Robin, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and Cyborg in all-new, comedic adventures, Teen Titans Go! will premiere in April 2013. Character-driven comedy is the order of the day as this new take on the superhero series focuses on the funny business that happens between saving the world and living together as teenagers without adult supervision. The series stars the principal voice cast from the original Teen Titans, and is produced by Warner Bros. animation.

BEWARE THE BATMAN: A cool, new take on the classic Dark Knight franchise, Beware the Batman incorporates Batman's core characters with a rogue gallery of new villains not previously seen in animated form. Along with backup from ex-secret agent Alfred and lethal swordstress Katana, the Dark Knight faces the twisted machinations of Gotham City's criminal underworld led by the likes of Anarky, Professor Pyg, Mister Toad and Magpie. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, this action-packed detective thriller deftly redefines what we have come to know as a "Batman show." Featuring cutting-edge CGI visuals, Beware the Batman, based on characters from DC Comics, is coming to Cartoon Network's DC Nation block in Summer 2013.

Coming soon: Mighty Thor Omnibus 2

Out Aug. 27, 2013.

A masterpiece of immortal action, cosmic scope, and boundless drama, Stan and Jack's Thor collaborations mark a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe - and that's no small accomplishment coming from the imaginations of the most celebrated creators in comics! This second Omnibus edition brings you milestone stories including the first appearances of Ego the Living Planet, Ulik the Troll and the Wrecker; battles with the Absorbing Man, the Destroyer and the Super-Skrull; adventures into Pluto's underworld and atop the High Evolutionary's Wundagore Mountain; the debut of Lady Sif as Thor's love interest; and classic tales featuring Thor and Hercules. Backed up by "Tales of Asgard" and featuring each issue's original letter's page, it's an extravaganza on an Asgardian scale!

COLLECTING: Journey Into Mystery (1952) 121-125, Thor (1966) 126-152, Thor Annual (1966) 2, Not Brand Echh (1967) 3

CW plans remake of Tomorrow People sci-fi series

The CW has ordered a pilot for a remake of the British sci-fi series "The Tomorrow People."
Based on the original U.K. series, "The Tomorrow People" follows young adults from around the world who represent the next stage in human evolution. They possess special powers, including the ability to teleport and communicate telepathically.
The original British series ran from 1973-79. A second version aired in 1992 and a third attempt ran from 2001-07.

TV alert: PBS' Pioneers of Television focuses on superheroes tonight

Check your local listings for tonight's episode of PBS' "Pioneers of Television" episode, which focuses on superhero series. Interviewees include Adam West of "Batman" and Lynda Carter of "Wonder Woman."

Watch Superheroes Preview on PBS. See more from Pioneers of Television.

New pictures from Superman: Man of Steel

Here are new pics of Henry Cavill as Superman and Russell Crowe as Jor-el.

Video finds: Sounds Incorporated

The Brian Epstein-managed group opens for the Beatles in Australia.

Music new releases Jan. 29, 2013: Fleetwood Mac; Miles Davis

Click the link to order discounted CDs, LPs and downloads from Amazon.

Rumours - Expanded Edition (3XCD) by Fleetwood Mac

Live In Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol 2(3 CDs/ 1 DVD) by Miles Davis

DVD and Blu-ray new releases Jan. 29, 2013: Downton Abbey Season 3 UK Version; Batman Dark Knight Returns Part 2; Bat Masteron Season One. more!

Click the links to order discounted DVDs or Blu-rays from Amazon.

Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Season 3 DVD (Original U.K. Version)

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2

Bat Masterson Complete Season One

The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley: The Complete Series