I saw this article today


And am reminded of these two earler articles:





I like Elon Musk, I like his ambition exemplified by SPACEX and TESLA. He is a visionary who very much wants to and is, defining the future as today. Making the stuff of long delayed Science Fiction into Fact.

But much of Science Fiction is a cautionary tale, the costly wisdom learned at the end of most is… because we can do a thing, does not mean we should.

I don’t like the idea of self driving cars. But then again neither do I like Smart phones. I still have an old fashioned flip phone. Even though I make my living fixing and keeping technology running, I am very much a luddite.

As someone who knows more about technology than the majority of users, I know enough to have a healthy concern and respect for it. Like someone who knows guns, knows enough to be always in control. This idea of relinquishing control to machines, it is a frankensteinian road, potentially wondrous, and potentially horrible.

At once Musk’s TESLA asks the population to trust his autonomous cars, to relinquish control, and at the same time when that trust ends up with a driver/passenger dead, TESLA’S response is to point fingers at the driver/passenger for not being alert to his self driving car making a mistake. You can’t have it both ways, you either trust the driver or you do not. Having to be always tense and ready in case the driver decides to go crazy, is not being a passenger. You are either a passenger or a driver, trying to be both at the same time is a recipe for disaster. So a car you have to be vigilant about, in my opinion you are better driving yourself.

And Musk’s response is the same, that driverless cars can save lives over self driven cars. Howevet that is a nice sounding theory, in search of the years of real world traffic study… to actually back it up.

In theory technology is faster, stronger, better, safer, … except when it is not. That one day when the system locks up and needs a reboot, or the system crashes, or gets hacked, or needs a power outtage. When that happens sitting at your cube or desk, with your laptop or desktop or tablet, that’s one thing. An annoyance, maybe lost work.


When that happens with a multi-ton vehicle going 60 mph, that is a recipe for disaster and death.

And the idea they want to legitimize this by rolling this out on bus, train routes… a concern.

I hope for the best, but always… prepare for the worst.












TV In 2016 : An Abundance of Riches!



We live in a real golden age of entertainment. You can argue, and I think convincingly, that the advances and freedoms of the digital age have allowed across the board for entertainment to be… better, and at the very least widely acceptable in multiple, and usually superior formats.

TV, thanks in large part to the advances of streaming, and now streaming broadcast options, shows get to live, that couldn’t or wouldn’t be allowed under the old Network model. Netflix in just a few years has gone from DVD and content repackager to arguably a studio/network with a hit list/quality level… unequaled.

Similar to Marvel Studios which can do no wrong on the big screen, the Netflix original productions, particularly the Marvel entries, are stellar examples of groundbreaking TV. The first season of DAREDEVIL in terms of action and sophistication blew the doors off, and the first season of LUKE CAGE in terms of using genre fiction to say something vital and important to the world outside our fictions, is revelatory.

And it is not just Netflix, across the board the writing has never been as sophisticated and just plain good. I can easily name a dozen and a half shows I’m loving:

WALLANDER (both, but original Swedish version, I like more)


























TV REVIEW : Netflix’s LUKE CAGE Season 1 Episode 1-13 by Cheo Hodari Coker




Well I’ve just finished watching the 13th episode of Netflix/Marvel Studios LUKE CAGE, and I have to say… I loved it. Full stop. Show runner Cheo Hodari Coker manages to in many ways do the impossible, and take a character already spotlighted in the JESSICA JONES series, and whose origins are the milieu of the Black Action or Black Agency film of the late 60s and 70s (mislabeled under the derogatory misnomer of Blaxploitation) and with him tell a rich, evocative, exciting, deeply layered cultural and historical and prescient love letter, to a place, Harlem, New York, and to an idea of local determination, and local agency, and self love, and colored love, and Black love in the age of Ferguson.



Or you can just look at it as a great action/drama series, set in the wonderfully expansive universe of Marvel shared superhero universe.🙂.



But what has exemplified the Netflix/Marvel collaborations to date is how grounded they are in a world not so dissimilar from our own. The gritty street level nature of DAREDEVIL’s 1st season, and ground breaking fight choreography, and fantastic writing made for a justifiably lauded 13 hours of television. (lost a bit in its less cohesive and interesting 2nd season)



LUKE CAGE takes that to another level, in being a show that is as much about cultural signposts and idioms that define us, as it is the ‘A’ story of conflict and resolution. The literary and historical and musical references are not just littered throughout the story, they help define the scope of the character and the scope of the neighborhood that this story takes place in. A man is the things he loves, the things he reads, the things he listens to, the heroes that inspired, the places that mattered, and immediately in one episode Coker defines LUKE CAGE the character and the series in broad strokes, that for me reverberate deeply.



The first two episodes floored me in how good and rich and beautiful, they are. Coker here hitting, for me, the conversations I have in my soul and my head, Chester Himes, Walter Mosley, Denis LeHane, George Pelecanos, Donald Goines??? Come’ on Son!!! Kenyatta??? Those few strokes and I knew this was a writer with a deep love and understanding of genre fiction, and those who make it.




But it’s more than name dropping, our influences define us, and define our world, and define who we care for, so immediately they make us part and parcel of this story that Coker and his team of writers tell. It’s a beautifully structured 13 hours of television, in that the first 6 episodes are very much their own chapter. You could bundle those 6 episodes up and have a great season.


Episode 7 feels like a swerve, very much like a start over, so if you rush into it, not recognizing that peak at the end of 6, that culmination, it’s going to feel stretched out. One of the possible dangers of binge TV… you have to pace yourself.


Take a break after episode 6, let that sink in. It is very much, in comic book terms, the end of the first trade paperback or story arc. Episode 7 begins the 2nd story arc, so you have to go into it not rushing to a conclusion, but gearing up for the start, because start it does. As everything from the first arc gets turned on its head, and new major players break on the scene. It’s a jarring ride, but once it hits episode 9 its has picked up steam and by 10 is on a full sprint to the finish. Episodes 11, 12 and 13 are Brilliant.


There is a saying out there that ‘it’s not how you begin, but how you end that matters’; that saying is wrong. All of it matters. It is about how you begin, how you endure, and how you end. Cheo Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE does the extremely unlikely, in doing all three exceptionally well.



I want a Blu-Ray of this show, complete with Director’s and cast commentary, like yesterday. It is that good, and replete with episodes you want to go back to and know more about.



And I have to say it’s wonderful to see here in 2016, that TV is making great strides to not be exploitative, and to have shows where you can have more than a token number of characters of color.


 luke-cage-poster-claire-temple luke-cage-poster-misty-knight


One thing I love about LUKE CAGE, particularly about the 2nd half (I love the first half as well) is it is so wonderful to see 6 beautiful women of color in major speaking parts, taking center stage in moments of strength and weakness, and owning the stage. It’s so rare to see a three shot of powerful, beautiful Black women in uplifting, exciting, dramatic, heroic material. It’s non-existent in Hollywood but thankfully, through great show-runners of color, and the success of shows such as BEING MARY JANE and EMPIRE is becoming finally available on the small screen. And the same love extends to being able to see multiple men of color in powerful, uplifting, heroic roles.



And the appearance of Method Man, and that song… Amazing. This series in addition to a DVD/Blu-Ray, must release a sound track, because in addition to the songs, the score for some of the episodes… is stunning.



I’ve recently become addicted to listening and purchasing scores, and LUKE CAGE has a world class score.



Now, is the series perfect ? No. I thought episode 3, they had a real opportunity to do an action sequence as talked about as DAREDEVIL’s hallway fight, but the director/fight coordinator wasn’t up to it. You’ll know the scene when you see it, it’s perfectly fine, but never rises above fine, when it should have been spectacular. And it’s a different show from DAREDEVIL , so the action will be different, I get that, but you can still do different and STUNNING.


Also, my problem with a character like Luke Cage, is the same one I have with a character like Wolverine, just because you can stand there and take being shot by a hail of bullets, doesn’t mean you want to or have to.



Luke Cage’s character (minor spoiler ahead) is revealed as a former police officer, former Recon soldier, former Prison MMA Fighting champ, former Boxer, all this to say… HE CAN FIGHT. So speed the dude up! Rather than standing there and waiting for someone to unload a clip on you, he should be disarming them and wrapping the gun around their necks before they can get off a shot. Especially since ricochets can kill just as well as any other bullet. I understand visually it’s an exciting thing to depict, but it should be the exception for talented filmmakers, not the rule. When he is shielding people from gunfire, sure… let the bullets fly. But in combat mode he should be disarming these guys before they get a shot off. Particularly later in the season that attitude would have made for exciting sequences.



So that was another issue I had. However, the sequences do improve as the series progresses. Plus it’s not a show that is about fisticuffs like DAREDEVIL, as much as it is about the fight for a soul of a neighborhood. And that tale it tells expertly.



It is a superlative 13 hours of television, and all involved should take a bow. Cheo Hodari Coker has made not just a great Netflix series, but a great television show, and the one to beat as my favorite show of 2016.


Marvel's Luke Cage

Marvel’s Luke Cage

And among the Netflix shows so far where do I rank it? It’s much better than DAREDEVIL Season 2, which was good, but not great, it edges out JESSICA JONES, which was great, and it battles it out with DAREDEVIL Season 1 for the top spot. DAREDEVIL Season 1 which was clearly the best show of 2015, outdoes it in terms of action, a definite A of a show.



However I have minor quibbles with it, like I didn’t like the loss of Ben Urich, I found the character of Karen page annoying through most of it, the character of Matt Murdock was a bit unlikable, and the last episode it failed to stick the landing with an unimpressive looking costume, and just a bit of a dour ending. So those nitpicks, are the reason LUKE CAGE edges it out, and gets a big A+ grade from me. Its story and characters for I want to revisit… often.



Final Verdict: Seminal, Must Watch TV! Will appeal to fans of mystery novels, especially fans of Chester Himes or Walter Mosley, or fans of movies such as TROUBLE MAN.


If you are not a fan or are made uncomfortable or nervous or have unexamined issues with women of color, you probably will have an issue with the later episodes.


‘The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.’ Brother, it always does.🙂.


But for the rest of us who watch the series, LUKE CAGE is phenomenal television at its best.


AMAZON PRIME Winners, Losers, and worth a look if bored! Oct 2016!

WINNERS – worth buying on DVD

This is a genre defying movie, as I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started watching it, only that a naturalist was studying animals by putting cameras on them. That should be all you know, and I think you’ll be quite satisfied with the movie that slowly and cautiously unveils itself. Even avoid the poster for this movie if you can.

The Witch PosterIntruders PosterBlack Field PosterDark Amazon PosterThe Limey Poster

Frankenstein: Day of the Beast PosterSouthbound PosterTrumbo (2015) PosterThe Horde PosterThe Last Buck Hunt PosterThe Assailant PosterMaster of the Flying Guillotine PosterStomping Ground PosterThere Be Dragons Poster



LOSERS – not worth the time it takes to watch

finalproject -Some of the actors are talented, but between the horrible shaky cam and the endless annoying dialog, and the lack of editing, I reached my time wasting limit… before the 19 minute mark. There is too much competition out there to waste 18 minutes, on what should have ended up on the cutting room floor.


-Yet another low budget, dumb people making dumber decisions movie. I tap out when people exhibit the absence of common sense in extraordinary amounts. Not an original bone in this hysterically overacted film’s body. I made it to the 49 minute mark before I tapped out.

The Grotto Poster– I want to like this movie, as I think it has a higher caliber of actor than most of these films, but it simply goes nowhere. I tap out before the 48 minute mark.

A Haunting in Cawdor Poster-Much better shot than most of these low budget movies, this one suffers from being interminable boring. I tap out after 22 minutes.


Demon Tongue Poster-Thankfully this one screamed amateurish and stupid from the first frame. The idiotic camera work masquerading as style, the laughable monster costume, makeup. I made it 3 minutes and was out.

Amityville Terror Poster-The opening sequence was so poorly done I couln’t even make it past the credits. It was like some incompetent parody of a horror film. Less than a minute and a half.

Hypnagogic Poster-I gave this one a whole 4 minutes. Trust me there are better things to do with your 4 minutes. Dreadful.

Ghosthunters PosterIt starts wrong, with the torture porn vibe. Not my cup of tea. I’m out in the first few seconds.



-Nothing original here, but I for the most part liked the dynamic between the characters. Goes on too long and ending is underwhelming, but overall competent and worth a watch if nothing else is on.

-Some talent evident both in front and behind the camera. Nothing exceptional but enough to keep me watching.

Another Poster

Well shot and an opening that grabs you and is reminiscent of the Tombs of the Blind Dead Series. Despite its anemic IMDB score, I’m intrigued. But an over reliance on slo-mo and a padded pace, begins to eat into my interest.


Hollow Creek PosterWell shot, beautiful saturated color palette. Compelling opening, main characters who aren’t annoying kids. I’m interested.


Any movie with Ricardo Montalban and Vincent Price and Swashbuckling and slavery hating pirates…  is well worth my time.

Netflix Series of the Month : LUKE CAGE by Cheo Hodari Coker! Report card on Episodes 1 to 8!

The long awaited third Netflix/Marvel series, LUKE CAGE, has launched, and helmed by relative unknown show runner, Cheo Hodari Coker, eight episodes in and I’m LOVING IT!!!

Here’s a minor recap of the eight episodes seen to date. It’s relatively innocuous comments, but to cover my bases I will say minor spoilers ahead, if you haven’t seen the episodes. But really I don’t think it spoils anything. But if in doubt, watch the episodes first.

Episode 1 and 2 written by Cheo Hodari Coker and directed by Paul McGuigan are exceptional. As strong, if not stronger of a start than the previous Netflix entries. It’s really some fantastic, rich, long overdue writing that touches on everything from Crispus Attucks to Walter Mosley to Dennis Lehane.

Episode 3 is good but I have minor quibbles with it. The first 2 episodes sets up Luke Cage as someone who doesn’t curse and doesn’t like profanity, so his going into a battle listening to a profanity laden rap song seems questionable.

Also the Director has the chance to make a pivotal action scene to match the wonderful episode 3 highlight of the DAREDEVIL season 1, and misses a mark with a pretty unremarkable action sequence. However the remaining episode, good dialogue, nice twists, and a literally explosive ending keeps this episode in the winner category.

Episode 4 is FANTASTIC. An excellent origin story. Superlative story

Episode 5 is FANTASTIC! Yes!

Episode 6 Wonderful wrap-up. If this was a 6 episode season it would rock! In many ways this is the end of the first story arc, if this was a comic trade-paperback. And episode 7 begins the 2nd arc.So you should really approach starting the 7th episode, after a small break, like you are starting a new story arc.

Episode 7 – Fantastic score highlights this episode. Probably the best score of any of the episodes. A fantastic origin story, this time for the antagonists. What makes a great hero, is a great villain. And this episode shows you the roots of two of them. One of the best episodes!

Episode 8 – The machinations against Luke tighten as his life, and the lives of those around him come tumbling down. Another engrossing episode, that I was thoroughly entertained by from beginning to end.

3/4ths done and I think this series is a Home Run. I like it much better than Daredevil Season II, and have to wait to see if it sticks the landing… to see if I like it as much as DAREDEVIL Season 1 and JESSICA JONES.

The Marvel/Netflix juggernaut continues to be, like Luke Cage, bullet-proof.🙂


Best Singer of the Day (And beyond): Mary Afi Usuah

I was on a spaghetti western kick today, looking for recommendation of the best Western and Spaghetti Western soundtracks, and by fits and starts I found myself getting completely sidetracked. I followed one of those offshoots to an album called 20 BEST CLASSICS EVER : FEMALE VOICES IN ITALIAN SOUNDTRACKS.

It was okay, peppered with songs from a varied assortment, from Sophia Loren to Grace Jones. I found it largely unexceptional save for one song called COWARD by a singer I had never heard of before.

The arrangement was exciting and unconventional, and her voice, sultry, supple, and seminal. Full of power, and gradiations, and range, and the breadth of the human experience. I found the lyrics wanting, but her voice,… she sang like a star looking to tell you what beauty it had seen, before exploding.

This unknown singer’s name was Mary Afi Usuah, a Nigerian sonstress rising out of that tumultuous age of civil and colonial revolutions. Musicians of the age knew her, knew her power of voice and spirit, and she backed up some of the best of the period from Led Zeppelin to Duke Ellington, however larger public recognition eluded her as the Nigerian/London/Rome and Naples trained Usuah, released only two album’s during her 13 year touring career.

I’m listening to that 1975 debut Album now, EKPENYONG ABASI. Largely in Nigerian, there are also songs in English. The album, beyond her beautiful voice, has some masterful playing/rhythms.

The debut is followed up by her 1978 album AFRICAN WOMAN. Both have thankully finally been reissued in CD and Vinyl after having been forgotten for decades. The great Mary Afi Usuah died before seeing these re-releases, but thankfully her music and her name is out there for a new generation to love and be inspired by. Snap these up while available.

Highly Recommended!!

Ekpenyong Abasi CD

African Woman

Beyond these two albums Ms Usuah has some fantastic singles sung in italian. She is only listed as Mary Afi for these releases. Well worth hunting them up on Amazon Music or Spotify.