Hi folks. This week, we have places you can actually visit in person, a round-up of comic book news, a hodgepodge of online cultural items and an OK Go video to bring you hope. 

Open gardens

If you want to get out and enjoy some beautiful scenery, you can now visit — in person, not virtually — Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge and the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia. 

Both require advance ticket purchases, so plan ahead. When I checked their websites, the next three days were sold out for both gardens. 

They have similar requirements — wear masks, maintain a six-foot distance from other visitors and bring your own water. Pricing is the same at both facilities — $15 for adults, $11 for seniors and students and $5 for children five to 17. 

I’m hoping as we move into summer, that I’ll be able to write more about places you can visit in person, rather than just online. 

Scooby Doo X 3

I never thought I’d be writing about Scooby Doo, but here we are with a trio of Scooby items.

First, a new, full-length animated movie, “Scoob,” is available through Video On Demand. I haven’t watched it and the reviews I’ve seen are lukewarm, but if you’re a fan, check out https://www.watchscoob.com.

The suggested retail prices are $19.99 for a 48-hour rental or $23.99 for digital ownership.

In conjunction with the movie drop, DC Comics is making over 250 Scooby Doo single-issue and trade paperback comics free for fans. The titles include crossovers with other DC characters, including Superman and Batman and Robin. 

The comics are available from participating digital retailers, including ReadDC.com, Comixology, Amazon Kindle, Apple Books and more, until Sept. 7.

Finally, I recommend Edgar Cantero’s novel “Meddling Kids,’ an adventure/horror novel that USA Today described perfectly as “enjoyably batty.” This homage to Saturday morning cartoons features a Scooby-like gang, now in their late 20s, having to reunite and revisit a case from their teen years they thought they solved. It’s thrilling and funny in equal measure. 

“It goes down as smoothly as an old-school Scooby Snack,” the USA Today review said.

More comics

Dark Horse has made a few of its titles for free or for just $1, including “Hellboy” and “Witchfinder” for older readers and “Frozen” and “The Incredibles” for the younger set. You can find them at https://digital.darkhorse.com/pages/246/free-dark-horse-comics.

Comixology has also made a few comics available for free for you to sample, including “Stranger Things,” “GI Joe” and “Wonder Woman.” You can find them at  https://www.comixology.com/Free-Comics/page/175.

IDW also has a page for free comics, https://www.idwpublishing.com/trending_titles/free-digital-comics/ but the real intriguing offer is for Joe Hill’s “Humble Bundle,” a pack of his work sold to support charity. Hill is the creator of the “Locke and Key” comic that has been turned into a Netflix series. He’s the son of horror author Stephen King. There are three tiers for the pack, ranging from $1 to $15. You can find the link to the Humble pack on their main page, https://www.idwpublishing.com.

Our last comic book entry is for a pay-what-you-can site, http://panelsyndicate.com.

I was directed to this site in order to check out “Friday” by Ed Brubaker, my favorite comic writer and artist Marcos Martin. “Friday,” set in a small New England town in the 1970s, is a mix of Harriet the Spy and H.P. Lovecraft. 

Among the titles being offered is “Bad Karma,” about two Army buddies who make a road trip to free an innocent man blamed for a mercenary job they did. Turns out nobody’s interested in the truth, but somebody wants to kill them.

 Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center’s website, www.kennedy-center.org has a bunch of free content to view. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the center presents Couch Concerts featuring stars and young up-and-comers. They also have a library of shows from their Millennium Stage, as well as some shorter performance videos.

 More Shakespeare

Last week I told you about the Independent Shakespeare Company’s Living Room Follies. What I did not know at the time was the company was going to make the video available for a time on their website, www.iscla.org/livingroomfollies.

The follies were delightful and a great way to spend a couple of hours. They’re probably best for adults, as a lot of the humor will likely go way over childrens’ heads, such as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in couples’ therapy. 

I also didn’t know that their auction was going to continue until noon on May 29. They have a couple of weekend getaways up for auction, including one on Catalina Island and another in Big Bear, as well as jewelry, vintage cosmetics, dining and wine and cocktail experiences. I’m trying to win the ultimate martini set for my wife, so please don’t bid on that. Be cool. 

All arts

A website to check out is allarts.org which features cultural entertainment news and links to performances. Among the things I found exploring the site included links to cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s “Songs of Comfort” videos he’s posting to Twitter, a link to the play “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play,” about a prep school princess in Ghana who finds her reign threatened by an American foreign-exchange student and a link to a virtually display of over 500 Rembrandt etchings at New York City’s Morgan Library and Museum.

Miscellany

The English National Ballet is joining the list of U.K. cultural institutions offering performance videos on YouTube and on Facebook. The ENB drops a new video each Wednesday. The one for May 27 is “Swan Lake.”

CNET has put out a list of the best two-player board games to help pass the time. You can find the list at www.cnet.com/news/best-2-player-board-games-for-2020.

The Renegade Craft Fair, which used to set up shop a couple of times a year in downtown L.A., has gone online, running fairs at www.renegadecraft.com/fair/virtual.

Renegade Craft Fair refers to itself as a curated marketplace of makers, designers, doers and dreamers.

Bono’s 60 Songs

On the website for the band U2, Bono has written letters for each of the 60 songs he says saved his life. In some cases, the letters are addressed directly to the artists themselves, such as the letter to Billie Eilish, or to surviving family members, such as Luciano Pavarotti’s daughter Alice and David Bowie’s son Duncan.

You can find Bono’s letters at www.u2.com/60songs.

OK Go

OK Go, sometimes referred to as “that video band,” has put out a new video to share hope in a time of COVID-19 and raise money for an organization trying to bring healthcare to the world’s poor.

The band’s front-man Damian Kulash, has his own COVID-19 story. He and his family were among the first Californians to come down with the virus. He said the virus wiped him out and it hit his wife even harder. The couple’s twins also got the virus, but luckily, their symptoms were similar to a bad cold.

The band’s new video is for a song called “All Together Now.” They drew inspiration from a metaphor by author Rebecca Solnit that society is, for the moment, the “liquid in the chrysalis,” the transitional state for caterpillars as they become butterflies. 

“The idea that some good may come from this time of overwhelming tragedy is a light in the dark right now,” Kulash wrote on the website. “We’re not delusional; we don’t think optimism or compassion alone will get us through this tragic pandemic, nor do we think the better angels of our nature are predestined to be victorious. But as we wrestle with anxiety, every drop of hope is precious. We want to nurture it and share it.”

Each of the band members contributed their music from their respective homes.

The video can be found at https://okgo.net/alltogethernow.

On the page, you’ll find a link to donate money to Partners in Health, a global health organization bringing quality health care to the most vulnerable around the world.

That’s it for this week. As always, stay healthy, stay strong. 

See you next week.

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