Monday, February 27, 2017

WHAT YOU BREAK by Reed Farrel Coleman

© by Gerald So | 2:30 p.m.

Book design: Meighan Cavanaugh
What You Break finds retired Long Island cop-turned-hotel detective Gus Murphy six months past the events of Where It Hurts, more settled into the new life he's made after his son's death. That is until he takes a meeting with millionaire Micah Spears, a friend of Gus's friend Father Bill Kilkenny. Despite taking a strong dislike to Spears, Gus agrees to look into the murder of his adoptive granddaughter, Linh Trang.

Also, that night, on a hunch, Gus trails his friend and coworker Slava to Brooklyn, where he sees Slava visit a man and leave shortly before the man is gunned down.

What You Break is a rumination on the men's pasts right in Coleman's wheelhouse. Series-wise, Reed is making the most of his chance to portray a new protagonist against the backdrop of today's Suffolk County, where he lives. An added treat for me was Gus's visit to Nassau County's Hofstra University, where Linh Trang Spears was a student, also my alma mater and where Reed and I taught at different times.

Reed's original contract was for two Murphy books. I see no reason to stop there.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Media Matters

© by Gerald So | 4:30 a.m.

In his first press conference as president, Donald Trump blasted "the media," perceiving them as biased against him. He proceeded to show his biases in interactions with reporters, most noticeably an African American reporter and a Jewish reporter.

Apparently, a major part of Trump's ascent to the presidency is his appeal to the masses, cutting out the media's traditional role as agent and filter. The danger of this cutting-out is people believing one source of information over all others, leaving no way to know whether that source is deceiving them.

Yes, the media have their biases, and 24-hour news channels have led to more opinion-based programming, but knowing the media's biases and your own, you can compensate as you analyze reporting.

Nothing is as cut-and-dried simple as we want it to be. I'm especially aware of this when someone tells me, "It's simple. Don't listen to all the reports. Listen to me."

Sunday, February 12, 2017

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK directed by Jay Oliva

© by Gerald So | 11:00 a.m.

In a Warner Bros. Animation adaptation of the DC Comics title, random people around the world go on killing sprees and later claim their victims appeared to be demons. When stalwarts like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern prove ineffective against the threat, Batman calls on allies with occult expertise.

I skipped two recent DC animated movies, Batman: The Killing Joke and Justice vs. Teen Titans, but I remain a fan of the direct-to-video line overall. Justice League Dark particularly grabbed me as a fan of British cynic and working-class magician John Constantine.

As on his short-lived NBC show and guest appearance on The CW's Arrow, Constantine is portrayed here by Welsh actor Matt Ryan, which apparently led to an upcoming Constantine animated series on CW Seed. The highlight of the movie for me is Constantine's back-and-forth with fellow magician and ex-lover Zatanna Zatara (Camilla Luddington, playing an American accent).

I find all the featured JLD characters appealing (Deadman, Jason Blood/Etrigan, Swamp Thing), but being familiar with them, I feel the movie could have spent less time depicting their backstories and instead packed in more present-day action. That said, the twist is quite clever.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017


© by Gerald So | 9:00 a.m.

I've been discouraged by a lot that President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have initiated since Trump's term began. To say nothing of the substance of their agenda, I disapprove of the way they've gone about executing it, from impugning the media, to changing rules, to silencing dissenters. Being a simple majority is no license to skip even trying to come to reasonable compromise.

As disappointed as I am, I'm also reminded that there is still such a thing as the moral high ground. You may be outnumbered or disliked, but if you act with good motives and judgment no matter what your opponents do, the record will at least show that.