One Day Left for Prime Deals 2019! And here are the ones everyone forgot!

A lot of people are concentrating on the tech deals, but there are also deals on what Amazon initially built its empire on… books.

 

Here then are great book deals recommended for you to pick up this Prime Day… and beyond. (While supplies last!).

Everyone is aware of Kareem Abdul Jabbar as one of the great basketball players of all time. Fewer are aware of him as an acclaimed writer. From non-fiction books on all Black tank units in World War II, to his recent Graphic novel work, Kareem Abdul Jabbar proves himself as compelling a writer as he is a personality. I recommend this Prime Day, picking up his books and audio books.

 

https://amzn.to/2jGI80Y

https://amzn.to/2lJvqiN

https://amzn.to/2kcEoV8

https://amzn.to/2lJxIhT

https://amzn.to/2lImXML

The last link above is for the audio cd. There is only ONE left. So hopefully I beat you guys to it. 🙂

 

https://amzn.to/2lkVVek

The hardcover is almost sold out.

 

And below is his new Mycroft book, the third in the series, coming out this September.

https://amzn.to/2lJMs0d

And I would definitely also recommend the graphic novel, available here:

Cover Image

https://amzn.to/2lJbsEZ

Use the links, get a great item for yourself, and earn a couple pennies for this humble blog. A win-win! 🙂

 

TV Show Review : DAREDEVIL Seasons 1, 2, and 3!

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The first season of DAREDEVIL, was and remains game changing , ground breaking TV. In terms of action choreography, and initial complexity of storyline, and some amazing performances.  It remains an astounding season of television, however it didn’t quite stick the landing.

There was something rushed and not quite satisfying in the ending. Something that did not quite live up to the AMAZING buildup.There was always a slight worm in the apple, and that was what was best and most enjoyable and most likable about the series, what was really brilliant about the series, was never the main three protagonists, the great acting of the series was done by the so-called villains such as Wilson Fisk, Alexandra, Wesley  and by the supporting characters such as Ben Urich and Stick.

What was annoying about season 1, was Karen Page, and she got increasingly more annoying, like nails on chalkboard through the season. Her remaining on the show, when two other astounding characters met violent ends, really for me weakened the show going forward. Also Matt Murdock, his maudlin approach, begins to wear thin at the end of 13 episodes.  But all those caveats aside, the strengths outweigh the failings of that first season. A solid A- of a season.

 

Fast forward to season 2 , which has a strong first half, but disintegrates in the 2nd half, Karen Page gets more annoying, Matt Murdock gets more whiny and maudlin, and Elektra storyline doesn’t do much for me. Karen Page playing girl reporter, just emphasizes everything I find annoying about that character, and how much the character of Ben Urich is missed.  Season 2 has its moments, largely due to the Punisher in the first half, but overall is strictly fast forward material through much of the 2nd half of season 2. This season is the definition of uneven, coming in at a C+/B-.

 

Daredevil Season 3 Review

 

The DEFENDERS series plays very much as DAREDEVIL Season 2.5. Because we get to minimize exposure to the weakest parts of season 2, namely Karen Page. Even though the Elektra/Black Star storyline is largely nonsensical and uneven (she can take blows from Power Man, but is affected by blows from Daredevil. Nonsensical.) the series moves at a fast clip, and seeing these actors together, enjoyable. Overall, inane ending excepted, a fun series. Grade: B+.

 

That brings us to the just finished third season of DAREDEVIL. It starts off intriguing, But quickly, particularly in the later episodes, drowns in all the unlikeable characters.

Karen Page is show stoppingly annoying every-time she is on the screen. Also three seasons of watching Matt Murdock suck all the joy out of everything, is just tiring. “Ooh, I have special powers, to make up for being blinded, I have friends, a good job, a great apartment… Oh I’m so angry!” what the hell does he have to be mad about all the time? 🙂

Just a joyless, depressing performance. And I am not saying it is badly acted, the actor is good, it is just he is written with nothing to do but complain all the time.

By comparison all the so-called villainous characters are far more interesting, to the point I was rooting though the later episodes for Fisk and the Mystery Villain 🙂 to take out Karen Page (Again, a fine actress, she is just written with nothing to do but eat the joy out of every scene. And what works in a few scant panels in a limited story, over three seasons… tires), and beat Matt Murdock.

I felt the ending was very unsatisfying.  Matt Murdock/Daredevil just comes across as much a psychotic as those he fights, and a hypocrite on top of it. And again the character flaws that work briefly in panels on a comic page, does not wear as well over three seasons. Add Karen Page to the mix, and you have a season 3 that I lose interest in whenever the three so-called leads are on camera. (To be fair, I quite liked the character of Foggy. He was the one thing that worked in that triangle.)

Overall a very dissatisfying wrap up to DAREDEVIL Season III. Karen Page survives, where yet more good characters die in her stead. I bought the first DAREDEVIL on BLURAY,  I bought the first LUKE CAGE on Bluray, and will be buying the 2nd season when it is available. I might buy the DEFENDERS, its flaws aside, overall it worked very well, and what IRON FIST couldn’t do in his own series (be good) he manages to pull off in the DEFENDERS and LUKE CAGE Season II.

With Luke Cage having been canceled, I don’t see anything to bring me back to the Netflix/Marvel Properties.  Not a fan of PUNISHER Season 1, Jessica Jones I fell off of, Iron Fist show was a train-wreck, and DAREDEVIL can not get out of its own way. Should a MOON KNIGHT show pop up, or a WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, I would definitely give those a look, but for now it appears the great Marvel/Netflix ship of success… has capsized.

 

DAREDEVIL Season 1 A-

DAREDEVIL Season 2 C+

DAREDEVIL Season 3 C+/B-

Overall Grade: B

 

 

 

 

TV Show of the Day : LUKE CAGE SEASON 2 by Cheo Hodari Coker

Cheo Hodari Coker’s 1st Season of Luke Cage was one of my favorite TV shows of 2016, right up there with the excellent Noah Hawley LEGION. They were each in their own way, game changing and ground breaking TV.

Mike Colter in Luke Cage (2016)

LEGION largely for its visuals and innovative storytelling, and Coker’s LUKE CAGE for in many ways being one of the few shows to offer a multitude of characters of colors in non-stereotypical ways, and with innovative roles, with unfettered storytelling. One of my favorite shots in the 1st season of LUKE CAGE, was four strong, upstanding women of color, captured in one great shot. Not as prostitutes, not as rappers, not as comedians,  but as heroes. Likewise their male counterparts were admirably done.

LUKE CAGE, the series, sings/rewards…  largely because of those conversation of books in the barbershop, those conversations on playwrights and writers. Those things, those conversations, that mostly uninformed people (who mainly know Blacks via the stereotypes they have consumed through mass media), would right off as preachy, or talky, or unrealistic, those are the conversations, that immediately sang for me, and clued me to the greatness of this show.

As someone who grew up in those Barbershops, those conversations are very true, to how many of us escaped the traps of the street, and found our way to something… better.

Always Forward.

If SEINFELD can be acclaimed for being, in places, a show about nothing, we should allow that same latitude to a serious show such as LUKE CAGE, that uses those seemingly frivolous nothings about the writers, and the artist, and the books, and the music; to say profound somethings.

Of All the Netflix shows, it is the only one that says something more profound, than the standard super-hero or for that matter action or drama tropes. It says something about the world outside our door, and how to meet it. Not preachy, not banal, and never losing the joy and beauty we can find, despite the dire days, and the dangerous nights.

It is the balance of crime and charm, violence and virtue, war and wit, that can sing, to those with ears. And it withstands repeated viewings better, because of all those layers you can view it on.

Cheo Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE is one of the best written and most innovative and ground breaking shows to come along in years for precisely this reason. It takes you the place all great writing should, beyond your prejudices, your assumptions, your comfort zone.

For my money it is one of the best of the Marvel/Netflix TV shows, right up there with the first season of DAREDEVIL. But edges it out, because I find the characters in LUKE CAGE, especially the protagonists, far more interesting and likable. DAREDEVIL’s main characters are various stages of unlikeable and annoying.

Add to that Coker’s plot has something valuable and timely and timeless to say about our world, that transcends bad guy fights good guy. There is a complexity to the storyline and the conflicts, that rewards repeated viewings.

Ten episodes in and that complexity remains for Season 2 of LUKE CAGE. It is not perfect, I can do with less Alfre Woodard, particularly her and the character of Shades getting intimate, I can really do without. I never really buy Shades attraction to Woodard’s character, and the more they try to sell it, the less it works for me. Also Alfre’s unhinged performance, while I get it.. she is Lady Macbething it up, for me it is too much. She is always in her twitches, and sputterings, always at eleven, always wildly and uncomfortably out of control, which for my own taste would have been better dialed back to 4 or 5. Also the poster for season 2 is absolute garbage, whoever came up with that poster should be fired. It is that inept of a poster. Right up there with the HANCOCK boxart and poster.

But those minor weakness aside, LUKE CAGE season 2, following strongly in the footsteps of Season 1 is crushing it; the story and performances shine, and like season 1 it has the best soundtrack of the year. Ten episodes in and I’m loving it… Grade: B+.

More to come as I watch the last few episodes.

 

Netflix Daredevil Season 2 Television Review

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The first season of Netflix’s DAREDEVIL was with one or two missteps, a masterpiece… and now the long awaited 2nd season has broken onto Netflix. And the verdict after watching all 13 episodes… it’s good overall, great in sporadic parts, and uneven throughout most of it. It feels tired and maudlin in a way the first season never did.

And much of the weakness of the 2nd season is directly related to carrying over the missteps of Season 1. The death of Vondie Curtis Hall’s character of Ben Urich was a mistake, and the sometimes screeching, sanctimonius, annoying nature of the Karen Page charater, also was always poised to upset the ship.

And here those two blips combine to I think after the first 3 strong episodes, bog down the remaining 10 episodes. Every scene with the Karen Page character (doing her Nancy Drew with the Editor), just highlights how much better those scenes would have played with Hall’s Ben Urich character bringing gravitas to those moments.

And while the actress who plays Karen Page, is definitely striking, her character is written and played annoyingly, so giving her more screen time this season is analagous to nails on a chalkboard. Her voiceover to round out the last episode, I’m sure was meant to be this poignant summation of the season, but came off as so much trite, cliched fluff. A failure of writing and delivery.

On top of that example, the writing which was a standout of most of season 1, stumbles here in season 2. I thought episode 5 was a complete trainwreck, boring, navel gazing, let down by both the writing and directing. It tried to mirror the emotional intensity of the 5th episode of Season 1, but lacked a story and writing and performances capable of carrying the episode.

Add to that the whole Daredevil/ Elektra/ Black Sky plotline, was delivered in a bit of a muddled fashion, it all reeks of perhaps needing more rewrites. I who am familiar with these characters, found the season a bit unclear and unsatisfying at times.

Those negatives acknowledged, there was much to like about season 2, I thought the action scenes were excellent, the characters of Stick and the Punisher compelling, the performances of most of the leads stellar.

So overall, glad to have seen the 2nd  season, but I didn’t love it.

And here’s hoping season 3 brings the magical return of Ben Urich’s character, and less screen time for the Karen Page character and the Paper’s Editor (who I found equally uninteresting),

Overall Grade:  B-.

 

 

TV Review : BEING HUMAN UK

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This review is on the original UK series BEING HUMAN. The quick one sentence breakdown on this series? This five season series, goes on two seasons two long.

The first three seasons tells the unconventional tale of a werewolf, and vampire, and ghost that end up sharing the same house. REAL WORLD for the universal monster set. Alternately funny and imaginative and dramatic the series over three seasons sports first and foremost solid casting, actors who are magnetic and likable and you want to follow their journey. That’a a significant point, that I think gets missed by too many shows, the casting and the chemistry of the cast.

Shows like AGENTS OF SHIELD sport bland cookie cutter casts with negative star power, and then have an uphill battle making the audience care enough to follow the boring cast. Thankfully for the first three seasons the UKs BEING HUMAN had a cast with chemistry, great writing, wonderful performances, and excellent effects all building up to a great cliffhanger third season finale.

For all intents and purposes that’s really where the show ends. After that  a pitiful fourth and fifth season limps out with largely a new cast and atrocious writing. The saying ‘jumped the shark’ is never truer than with season 4 and 5 of BEING HUMAN UK. My advice get the first three seasons, and let this series end in your memory with that intriguing cliffhanger and erase all belief that a season 4 or 5 was ever made (much like season 2 of SPACE 1999 and season 4 of BATTLE STAR GALACTICA [new series] should likewise be forgotten). Grade: Great for seasons 1 to 3! Price Blurays below.

Being Human: Season 1 [Blu-ray]

Being Human: Season Two [Blu-ray]

Being Human: Season Three [Blu-ray]

Being Human – Series 1-5 Boxset [Blu-ray] (Region Free)

TECH TIPS: ROKU Cable Digital TV and You!

After probably a decade without having a cable bill, and no issues doing so, I’m happy to still be cable bill free, but… you knew there was a but coming. 🙂

I was quite satisfied for 10 years doing without Television as a medium, and doing DVD rentals (typically for no or low cost at the library) or DVD purchases. But more often than not just spending far more time consuming books, and audio programs, and traveling.

So I’m happy to say I am still cable bill free, however of late I’ve become aware and become a dabbler in this… Roku thing.

Most of you are probably long time adopters of Roku, but for those of you who aren’t, Roku is both a company and a product. Roku is an American based company that produces a device, not much larger than a pack of cards, that allows you to stream channels, internet based stations, offering streaming TV shows, movies, documentaries, virtually everything you can find on cable, and much you cannot, in an on demand model to make traditional cable green with envy.

In a sentence, Roku is a wi-fi device that allows you to bring internet based channels and programming, content optimized for your computer, easily to your TV.

Internet access to your favorite TV/cable show is nothing new, however the Roku’s ease in consolidating all that content in one location and bringing it all to your TV, without the need of a cable bill is nothing short of amazing.

Of course utilizing your internet bandwidth there are obvious drawbacks, such as that as a whole the quality and speed is reliant on your broadband connection, and does not match the quality of cable.

But that given, Roku picture and sound quality is surprisingly good, and far better than the embarrassment and rip-off that is free digital TV in the United States. The garbage the FCC left us with when they stole the analog waves from the American people and gave it to big business and the military.

The 2nd problem is the Roku device upon first use/registration looks to collect your credit card and personal info by default in order to activate/use the Roku device.

That is a major problem. Especially if you only intend to use the free channels it is a huge potential and unnecessary privacy and security issue, particularly in this day of rampant hacking and identity theft.

Thankfully you can bypass the requirement to give your credit card number by calling customer service direct, but it is a hassle.

But those major problems acknowledged and bypassed, for between $60 and $100 depending on model (I recommend the Roku 2 XS, I’ll give a detailed breakdown of why next column), this wireless consolidator of online digital channels that streams easily to your tv, and easily lets you add and remove channels yourself, is (as long as the free channels last) nothing short of a marvel.

So yeah, until such time as the Roku concept stops being as awesome as it currently is, I’m going to enjoy having 1000s of hours of movies and television and music at my fingertips, for $0 a month.(Just like conventional cable you can add pay premium channels if you choose, but there is so much impressive free content out there that you definitely do not have to)

So if you are currently paying over $100 for cable or direct TV and locked into a contract, as most people are, and are looking not to do that anymore, I highly recommend taking the Roku for a spin. All you need is high-speed broadband internet to make use of it.

Well hope this article helps some of you who may have been seeking more info on Roku and alternatives to conventional cable. Come back next TECH TIPS as I provide you my favorite Roku channels as well as a weekly recommendation list for this week on Roku!

See you then, and feel free to leave comments if you are already a Roku convert. I’d love to hear a list of some of your favorite things about the Roku.

Okay, That’s all for now!

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