This time I have blind crime fighters, exceptionally well-sighted assassins, and nuns living in the moral darkness of their mad prisons:


“American Horror Story: Asylum” (s. 2) (Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck.) Jessica Lange is superior here. (Ha! cuz she’s a nun, get it?) Joseph Fiennes as a polished Monsignor; James Cromwell as a madly perverted scientist; Zachary Quinto as a forward thinking psychiatrist; Evan Peters as the Bloody Face killer (maybe); Chloe Sevigny as a nymphomaniac; Sarah Paulson getting a cure for wellness, etc etc. All these, plus microcephalics, little green men, and armless Adam Levine. What’s not to like? (5)


“Daredevil” (s.2) – As the second season opens, it looks like Wilson Fisk, “the Russians, the Chinese and the Japanese” are history. The Irish look ready to step in! Unless the Punisher’s artillery has something to say about it. Also in the mix: Elektra. (I still hate that lazy, ethnically-derogatory writing. When a liquor store gets robbed in Ohio, do local cops mumble, “It was probably the Americans,” and call it an act of detection?) (4)

“Zatoichi 4: Zatoichi The Fugitive.” (Tokuzo Tanaka) Ichi, the original Daredevil, antagonizes Yakuza, re-encounters old flame, but his memories of her ain’t what they used to be. “Zatoichi 5: on the Road.” (Kimiyoshi Yasuda) Ichi protects an innocent girl and a not so innocent woman on the road to Edo. (4) (Not sure who Zatoichi or Shintaro Katsu here? Start here.)


“Yajuza Kenzan.” 1600s, the red-light district of Gion. A samurai named Kyriu (or is it Musashi Miyamoto?) decides to professionally protect a young girl, on the way to becoming one of the most legendary of Japanese heroes. Prequel to the big-in-Japan “Yakuza” open-world fighting series. (5)

way of shadows

“The Way of Shadows” (Brent Weeks) : First in the “Night Angel” Trilogy, an assassin- centered fantasy series. Kylar (say it outloud) is a Dickensian orphan who learns to artfully dodge and twist through the grime of Westeros – Apologies; Midcyru. Midcyru is half European, half Japanese, half Arabic, and a further half of any culture that Weeks might need for his Assassin’s Apprentice plot. A fun read in between George R. R. Martins, but it’s trope-heavy and I don’t know if I will devote myself to the lengthy follow-ups, especially since Weeks already has a second, more accomplished fantasy series out there, “Lightbringer.” Incidentally, the term “wetboy” is an unfortunate choice for designating top-notch hitmen. (3)

norton anthology

“Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism.” Been making my way through this for millennia, snacking here and there on its brilliance. If this doesn’t get 6 Cherries, what else could? (6)

she's gotta have it

“She’s Gotta Have It” (Spike Lee). Enthusiastically filmed, the new Netflix adventures of Nola Darling (a winning DeWanda Wise) try too hard to keep #Fresh- except the mishandled taboos of the 1986 film have given way to whole new waves of mishandled taboos. It’s Lee’s most relevant work in a while but still dips into lecture mode, specially in a subplot regarding big booties that would have made Sir Mix-A-Lot convulse. (4)


Also on Netflix: “The Babysitter” (McG; “Charlie’s Angels,” countless ’90s music videos.) A fun and gory “Home Alone” with Satanists, and a vibe that will strike many as misogynist. Unless they happen to be males and aware of the demonic power of boobs. (3)


“Rave Master.” (Hiro Mashima, “Fairy Tail”) Young Haru must go on a quest to collect the scattered Dragon Balls Rave Stones, accompanied by a “dog” called Plue. Standard Shonen epic, not as well drawn as the subsequent “Fairy Tail.” I hear it improves as tankobon accumulate. (2)


“Supreme” (Rob Liefeld, Alan Moore) Standard ’90s Superman knock-off, only remarkable once Alan Moore stepped in to subvert the heck out of every Supes trope. (2 before Moore, 4 after)


“Madame Xanadu” (Matt Wagner, Amy Reeder Headley). Wagner’s attempt to resuscitate DC’s fascinating, fortune-telling witchy woman for Vertigo. Unfortunately, the historical anthology nature of the series doesn’t allow for characters to grow, or for any one scenario to reveal much. More to be commended for the subtle shojo influence in Amy Reeder Hadley’s artwork. (3)

Assorted Singles (Nico Vega). Fun vocalist (Aja Volkman) in the Karen O mode. Good scream out-loud songs (“Gravity,” “Beast”) but, to my ears, the guitars simmer without resolving their buzz into any hot riffs. (3)
nico vega


“Live Santa Monica ’72” ( David Bowie): Bowie’s live side is sadly underrepresented in official albums; the best one chronicles the “Reality” tour. The other couple we have have a myriad of sound issues, or else capture too faithfully the messy drugged out delivery he kept off his meticulous studio work. “Live Santa Monica ’72,” a bootleg, ranks as Bowie’s second best. And Mike Garson’s piano shines. Shiniest of all? Check out those $5.50 tickets on the cover!!! (4)

“Lifeforms” (Future Sounds of London). Eerie and beautiful, but requires a certain mood, possibly involving massive amounts of ketamine. “Lifeforms.” “Eggshell” (4)

“Coco” (Disney/ Pixar soundtrack). Pixar’s favorite non-Randy-Newman scorer, Michael Giacchino, delivers. Fine as the individual songs are, the repetive nature is tedious as a listening experience. No one needs 11 different versions of “Remember Me.” (2)

“Sunday School Musical” (Director’s Name Omited out of Christian Charity.) Somewhere out there, someone decided that “High School Musical” didn’t have enough Jesus in it. (1)


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