Best & Favorite of 2017!!!

This is a bit belated but I think you will find a nice overview to 2017 and pointers to 2018 in the ramblings below.

Favorite movies seen in the Theater in 2017:

KONG:SKULL ISLAND

LOGAN

 

I only saw two movies in the theater in 2017, so looking to improve on that in 2018. Nothing in January had me jazzed to pay theater prices for, however I am looking forward to the following in 2018:

click for larger (if applicable) click for larger (if applicable) click for larger (if applicable)

EQUALIZER 2

click for larger (if applicable)

 

FAVORITE TV SHOWS IN 2017:

  • LEGION
  • TAKEN
  • POWER
  • AMERICAN NINJA
  • CHOPPED
  • AMERICAN PICKERS
  • LOVE IT OR LIST IT
  • LETHAL WEAPON
  • THE GRAND TOUR
  • GODLESS
  • RUNAWAYS

FAVORITE STREAMING TV CHANNEL IN 2017

The one two punch of AMAZON PRIME and HULU gets this award. NETFLIX that was riding high in 2016 with LUKE CAGE and other shows, had a disappointing 2017. With a non user friendly interface compared to Amazon Prime and a selection of shows and movies that weren’t as interesting or well curated as either HULU or AMAZON PRIME, I cancelled my membership at the end of 2017. The last straw being the overhyped and ultimately lackluster PUNISHER series, as well as news of the studios pulling their content from Netflix.

In 2018 the TV shows that I am or will be watching are:

CASTLE ROCK

GRAND TOUR

TAKEN (I think the new showrunner made a mistake getting rid of most of the cast from season 1, but hopefully he can course correct and fix it)

STRIKE BACK and ELEMENTARY return after long hiatuses

LONGMEYER went out with a bit of a whimper, so looking forward to YELLOWSTONE

JACK RYAN

LETHAL WEAPON

CHOPPED

IZOMBIE

BLACK LIGHTNING

AMERICANS

And lastly looking forward to Season 2 of what, without question, was the best, most inventive TV show of 2017, Noah Hawley’s LEGION.

And for those keeping score… LUKE CAGE tied with FARGO Season 2 (Also by Noah Hawley) were the best TV shows of 2015, and DAREDEVIL Season 1 was the best TV show of 2014.

 

BEST MUSIC OF 2017

I loved everything binaural in 2017, adding many great CDs to my collection. THE HEAVY and GREGORY PORTER remained in heavy rotation. Gregory Porter being my favorite live performance of 2017. And I added new interests RAG N BONE MAN, Andra day and Brian Ferneyhough. With Spotify to allow me to try before I buy, I’m looking forward in 2018 to discovering more great music, both old and new.

BEST READS OF 2017

I didn’t read as many novels, or listen to as many audio books in 2017 as I did in previous years, so I definitely hope to turn that around in 2018.

I did do substantially better with Art Books, Graphic Novels, Reference Books, and comics in 2017. Some of the standouts:

 

MATT BAKER THE ART OF GLAMOUR

CREEPING DEATH FROM NEPTUNE

THE WOLVERTON BIBLE

ARTIST EDITION BASIL WOLVERTON (This and the other two previous books having to do with Basil Wolverton, I went all in on him in 2017. Still absorbing these three books here in 2018)

JACKIE ORMES

THE SIGNATURE ART OF BRIANSTELFREEZE

SEX AND HORROR THE ART OF ALESSANDRO BIFFIGNANDI

In 2018 writers I intend to go all in on are Percival Everett, Victor Lavalle, Colin Whitehead and Walter Mosley, as well as revisiting work by Ligotti, Lebbon, Ellison, Stephen King, Clive Barker and Bennett.

 

In 2017 Marvel had a great POWER MAN AND IRON FIST series I was reading, the only thing I was buying monthly from Marvel Comics. And Marvel letting greed get in the way of common sense, killed a series everyone was loving, with a creative team everyone was loving, David Walker and Brian Stelfreeze, to instead both dilute audience attention and oversaturate the market with multiple books, almost all of which are ready to be canceled. So going into 2018, with Marvel sticking to their insane $3.99 price point per book, there are no titles I pick up from Marvel Comics.

 

In 2017 DEATHSTROKE by Christopher Priest was the only DC Comic I was getting on a monthly base. It’s arguably the one series that you can just pick up and enjoy without having to read any other title, or care about any other title. Priest has been able to just do… what he does best, create a fantastic read; month in and month out. So it is the only DC book I’m reading in 2018. However, greed rears its ugly heads and the idiots who get paid to make stupid decisions have decided to add DEATHSTROKE to their floundering team book… JLA,  basically gutting the standalone nature of the comic that allows Priest, to do his magic. Basically the same poor decision making that happened last year with POWER MAN AND IRON FIST.

 

I figure the conversation went like this… ‘man everyone is talking about this book, let’s put the characters in multiple other books, and then they will be talking about all those other books too.’ No, you EFFING morons! The reason people are enjoying POWER MAN AND INRON FIST or DEATHSTROKE is because it is well drawn and well written and not part of your insipid crossover infested universe. Your very attempts to duplicate that success, without understanding it, will kill the character in the new book, and kill interest in the character in the original book.

So yeah here’s hoping someone with brains over at DC, vetoes the horrible idea to put DEATHSTROKE in the JLA, because I’m not going to read the JLA, and you’re editorial interference will create a character that no longer works in his solo book. You have therefore killed the golden goose and have nothing to show for it.

 

The good news is when you get sick of the stupid decisions and overpriced ad laden product at DC and MARVEL, you have great content from other publishers to enjoy. Publishers that give you more for your money. Publishers such as IMAGE, AFTERSHOCK, DARK HORSE and many more.

As far as where to buy new comics from, a lot of people will steer you to DCBS. I personally in terms of pure customer service and ease or ordering prefer LONE STAR COMICS. You can order comics in advance from the at http://www.mycomicshop.com at a discount.

 

They are highly recommended, and I use them myself, and this is an unpaid recommendation. Tell them Heroic Times sent you.

 

And wrapping this up, favorite podcasts of 2017:

 

11OCLOCK COMICS

COMIC GEEK SPEAK

WTF with Marc Maron

BLACK TAPES

GEEK SYNDICATE

 

To name a few. Okay that is it for my 2017 Pop Culture overview. Thanks for bearing with it and if you enjoy, spread the word. Enjoy WEEK #6 of 2018!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Music of the Day: The Essential GREGORY PORTER!

So if new to the Grammy winning Gregory Porter, begin with his Grammy winning Album LIQUID SPIRIT(2013).

A mix of blues, soul, jazz and a touch of bop, and lifted by one of the most amazing voices and crooners since Nat King Cole, LIQUID SPIRIT is one of the best albuns of the young 21st century.

Now once you’ve listened to LIQUID SPIRIT, an album you can listen to from beginning to end, repeatedly… what’s next?

I would say listen to his singles 1960 WHAT? and FEELING GOOD off of his first album WATER(2010).

From his 2nd Album BE GOOD (2012) standouts are ON MY WAY TO HARLEM and REAL GOOD HANDS and BLING BLING and GOD BLESS THE CHILD.

We have already discussed his third album LIQUID SPIRIT, his next album is the collaborative GREAT VOICES OF HARLEM (2014)with notable song being MOANIN.

2015 Saw his rerelease of LIQUID SPIRIT with additional songs.

2016 saw the release of  TAKE ME TO THE ALLEY, highlights being HOLDING ON and FRENCH AFRICAN QUEEN (A song, in its phrassing, very reminiscent of  the late, great Terry Callier).

 And bringing it up to date, his 2017 album is NAT KING GOLE & ME and it is easily Porter’s best album since LIQUID SPIRIT. Every song is a winner. Even in the age of Itunes and Digital those two CDs are must haves. Andin addition they both make great gifts this holiday season.

Liquid Spirit

Nat King Cole & Me

 


 

Currently Listening to Jacob Banks THE BOY WHO CRIED FREEDOM

I absolutely hate the fact that some musicians are only releasing their music in streaming MP3 compressed format. It is such a disservice to a musician and music lovers not to have that music on Gatekeeper free, high-quality, well mastered full range CD. It’s a crime, especially with a singer of the strength of Jacob Banks. Go ahead and discover him like I did, courtesy of MP3 or streaming, but hold out for a full range CD to buy.

Some standouts from this musician…

MONSTER 2.0 his single from 2015 PARADOX release.

And the five songs on his latest from 2017 THE BOY WHO CRIED FREEDOM. Includes the sterling CHAINSMOKING and the smokey PART TIME LOVE. A top notch singer deserving of a top notch mastered CD.

Until then, sample him here:

The Paradox [Explicit]

Another great discovery of 2017.

Currently Listening to Rag N Bone Man’ s HUMAN

So I’m listening to the album HUMAN, which is a phenomenal album, the calling card of a towering Negro voice, that happens to be coming out of a 32 year old, 6’5, Anglo Saxon Britisher named Rory Graham.

It’s am amazing, soulful album, complete with hymns pulled from the land of dixie and cotton and blood. But it is that delivery that really elevates this album. A familiar delivery that comes to me the third listen through, it is the King of Soul I hear, the late, great Solomon Burke even to the pacing and phrasing, and the unbelievable power.

Rory Graham is channeling the great Solomon Burke, but with enough of his own spin to make it not mimicry, but I would like to think homage. Toss in some of the storytelling chops of Nick Cave (Burke himself was a fantastic storyteller) with just enough pop sensability to galvanize the younger, indie crowd, and you have an album deserving of its praise.

A new musical discovery for me, as 2017 winds to a close. And well worth seeking out if you haven’t heard of him.

And make some time to become aquainted with the source of such abundant soul, the source for all of us… the lengthy discography of the late, great, Solomon Burke.

Human

Must own CDs/Albums in the age of Itunes : THE HEAVY

I first became aware of this band due to their song being the insanely catchy and additive opening to the British based/CINEMAX branded Adventure/Espionage series STRIKE BACK.

I couldn’t stop humming that opening tune, and in quick succession graduated to learning the bands name… THE HEAVY. And buying all their available CDs, unheard. All based on the strength of that one song, SHORT CHANGE HERO.

Well that song and my impetuousness of buying three CDs without sampling them, did not steer me wrong. The three CDs, GREAT VENGEANCE AND FURIOUS FIRE(2007), THE HOUSE THAT DIRT BUILT(2009), THE GLORIOUS DEAD(2012) beyond being fantastic music, are works of art in form as well as fuñction. The artwork, construction of the CD cases, the liner notes, the book,speak of a tactile, tangible process that remains valid and singular and needed for music when it is this good.

Their 4th album HURT AND THE MERCILESS(2016) which they are currenlty touring Europe on, cements this British band’s reputation, as one of the most exciting Rock,funk,soul,folk bands in decades!

You want to find music that is worth owing in CD or Lp form in this age of Itunes and MP3s?

Well you’ve just found it, and it’s THE HEAVY!!!!

Highly Recommend!

The Glorious Dead

The House That Dirt Built

Great Vengeance & Furious Fire

Hurt & The Merciless

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.

Currently Listening to : Nate Parker’s THE BIRTH OF A NATION (2016) The Inspired by Album

This is a really odd post, it starts as a nice, fluffy love letter to an album I’m completely loving, and at the end goes completely off the rails and becomes a tirade.

I would say, read the warm, fluffy part, and leave the tirade alone. Especially if you know nothing about the Nate Parker controversy, or better yet care nothing for it.

I’ll give you ample warning when to stop reading.

Not sure where it came from, but it came.

My ire, and disgust with the media.

But it came.

And I thought it was honest, not necessarily right, but it was honest and deserved its say. So I left it.

You have been warned.

birth_of_a_nation_xlg

I think what Nate Parker is doing with BIRTH OF A NATION, a hundred years after DW Griffith’s love song to racism by the same title, is nothing short of inspired. The audacity of it, the brilliance, the balls of it, Something Percival Everett does wonderfully in literature, overturning assumptions, and re-appropriating those parts of our shared consciousness, our story, that we have relegated too long… to the worst angels of our nature.

I can’t wait to see the movie when it breaks on wide release. It sounds completely on my page. However I haven’t seen the movie so the jury’s out, but I have listened to the soundtrack, and… I LOVE IT!!!!

LOVE IT!!!

To listen to this one album was reason enough to sign up for Spotify.

And speaking of Spotify, how did I get involved with it?

Well I’m not at all a social media type. But I like things that enrich us and after a month of using Spotify I have to say… I’m feeling enriched.

This is going to sound hyperbolic. And maybe it is. I’m too close, I can’t say. I can only say I’m listening to THE BIRTH OF A NATION as I write this and I’m feeling… thankful.

I think as we get older, and side-tracked by adult concerns, one thing that falls by the wayside, is our time to enjoy and follow and discover music. And I think that moving away from that discovery of new sounds, new voices, new visions, new wonders to buoy our souls, is when we begin to die,

I know, extreme.

But bear with me.

What if the world began with a song, and will end with one.

What if all we are is notes, in some unfathomable composition.

That would mean that what we feed on more than food is music. And it would mean what we starve for lack of, more than food, is music.

The lack of it, the relinquishing of it, perhaps just a little death.

A little death we let wedge its tip into our hearts.

And widen, till everything we are… escapes.

So I’m finding SPOTIFY, with its easy ability to allow me to find and listen to this music I would otherwise not find or find time for…I’m finding it, in my emotional state of listening to THE BIRTH OF A NATION, I’m finding it… of great value.

That said MP3 is great for sampling music, and SPOTIFY is great for introducing me to music, but great music deserves to be listened to on the highest quality CD you can find. I’ve spent a month on SPOTIFY and I have bought easily a couple hundred dollars in CDs.

I’d like to buy BIRTH OF A NATION but unfortunately it is not yet available on CD. But when it is, it’s going on constant rotation in my portable cd player.

It is that good.

 

 

“When they say make America great again, they mean make us all slaves again.”— WAR Nas

“No matter if you’re red, white, black, if you want freedom, then we’re all like Nat!”— WAR Nas

birth-of-a-nation_2

 

OKAY STOP READING HERE!!!! Beyond this place, like the old maps once said… “There be Dragons!” I’m bat guano ranting in the next section, and it goes strange quickly, so if strange is not your friend, stop reading NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

birthposter

Oh and if you have a problem with Nate Parker, and are part of this new spate of using the media to lynch Black Men before trial, be it Bill Cosby or Nate Parker, or really going back 20 years to OJ Simpson, eff you and the horse you rode in on.

“Oh, but they are guilty, they did this, they did that.”

Then let a court prove it. Not the news, not talk shows, not soap boxes.

I don’t stand with lynch mobs, whether you wear a white hood and a shotgun, or a TV camera and a microphone.

Because for a lynch mob it’s never about innocence or guilt, it’s about creating an atmosphere of fear and horror and distrust, so they can sell a message, usually to keep a certain demographic in line.

Me, I’m not the message buying type. In a Nation where less than a hundred years ago, thousands of Black men (many of them war heroes) were lynched by ‘god fearing’ ‘people’ I’ll side with Black ‘villains’ before I side with a biased lynch mob media, everyday of the week, and twice on Sunday.

If they are guilty try them in the courts. Do not effing try them on your TV program, or radio show, or ‘news’ show, or at the water cooler, or on your lynching scaffold.

Until you’ve done the good of a Bill Cosby, or a Nate Parker, or even an OJ Simpson; don’t presume to judge their evil. That’s for a court room… your soul is not sinless enough for the task.

I say again…

Your soul… Christian, or Muslim, or Jew, or Hindu… is not sinless enough for the task.

I think any Presidential candidate you can name has done more evil than all three of those men combined. The pursuit of power is a bloody road, and the achieving of it even more so.

You kill one person (allegedly) they call you what, OJ? 🙂 You kill thousands of people, they call you Reagan or Bush.

Save your hate for mass murderers, but for other flawed men, and for yourself, pray to be better.

That is the justice of honest men, who are wise enough to know, there… but for the grace of God… go I.

 

Woah… that came out of nowhere.

But hey, that’s what you can expect in a nation that is honestly considering Trump for the highest office in the land. Derision. :).

God keep you all from rage, and keep you all from harm, and most of all god keep you from the folly of thinking you are bloody better than the poor slobs the media chooses to lynch today.

Amen.

If you like this crazy post, or just like the blog, support by checking out and purchasing the following cool and recommended items!

Sylvania SDVD7029 7″ Portable DVD Player-Swivel Screen (Certified Refurbished)
Kids these days, in this age of MP3s and Itunes and Spotify have no idea what CDs are, or how good they can sound. For $40 you can give them the gift of not only a portable CD player, but a portable DVD player.

But it’s as the former, a portable CD player, that currently interests us. In addition to the portable player you want to get them a couple CDs to play on it, and I recommend the following two:

It Follows (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) I really enjoyed IT FOLLOWS and the soundtrack on CD is equally brilliant, and stands on its own as just engaging and creepy and addictive listening experience.At once an influenced work, yet highly original in its own right, and sure to be influential. Disasterpeace hits a homerun with this score. Nice use of stereo imaging. Highly Recommended.

Sinister (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – I’m not a wimp, and am a huge fan of a variety of scores, especially the dark, strange ones, but I have to say this Christopher Young score is on a level all its own. I find it truly disturbing, and yes… scary. A huge achievement, and essential listening!

Azend Group Corp BDP-M1061 Maxmade Portable 10-Inch Blu-Ray DISC/DVD Player (Black)

Sony S1500RF Multi System Region Free Blu-Ray Disc DVD Player