Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“The Alienist” thoughts, Episode Five: “Hildebrandt’s Starling”

February 20, 2018

Just when it seemed they’d cracked the case, it turns out the investigators on “The Alienist” don’t have a clue what’s really going on. Frankly, neither do I. Ain’t it grand?

With this week’s episode, “The Alienist” has reached the halfway mark of the season. It has also arrived at that most deliciously frustrating stage in any murder mystery: the point at which the detectives, fully armed with information and deductions, make their move, only to discover that they’re still several steps behind their quarry. For heroes and villains alike, this has the potential to be the most engaging and revealing moment in any such story. It can show us how the heroes deal with adversity and the villains with unexpected good fortune (if not so good for his hunters and victims). Lucky for us viewers, “The Alienist” is emerging from this stage of the race firing on all cylinders.

I reviewed this week’s fun episode of The Alienist for the New York Times.

Fischerspooner: Sir

February 17, 2018

It’s 2018 and Fischerspooner have returned after a nine-year absence as an in-studio supergroup. Sure, why not? The group began as the performance-art project of frontman Casey Spooner and co-writer/producer Warren Fischer before finding surprising success as electroclash’s signature act. That genre’s celebration of artifice, coupled with the suspicion that it was all an art-school lark, created a mountain of critical skepticism that Fischerspooner have had a hard time surmounting ever since. Yet of their three previous albums, two displayed tremendous proficiency in the booth: #1, from 2002, remains a sexy, sleazy snapshot of its time and place, while 2005’s Odyssey convincingly refashioned their sound into muscular electro-rock. They really only blew it with the rickety dance pop of 2009’s Entertainment, and as another great prefab star once sang, two out of three ain’t bad.

For their comeback, Spooner and Fischer have joined forces with (among others) Chairlift vocalist Caroline Polachek, Beyoncé and Run the Jewels collaborator Boots, Saddle Creek Records’ in-house sound wizard Andy LeMaster, pop superstardom’s go-to engineer and mixer Stuart White, and freaking Michael Stipe. Speaking of comebacks, Stipe’s writing and production on the record constitute his first major musical outing since the dissolution of R.E.M.following 2011’s Collapse Into Now. As if in homage to the formation of this alt/indie/R&B Justice League, Spooner sculpted himself into a superhero’s physique, though with his long hair and soup-strainer mustache he looks less Marvel Studios and more like a human mash-up of the Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliott characters from Road House. But the transformation has more to do with Spooner’s mid-life embrace of his own sexuality, which he addresses throughout the record with more candor and unapologetic lust than ever before. In fact, Stipe turns out to have been Spooner’s first boyfriend, way back in 1988, providing Sir with a juicy backstory to match all its attention-getting musical collaborations and stylistic shifts.

Where does all this behind-the-scenes stuff get us? You can find out in my review of Fischerspooner’s new album Sir for Pitchfork. I’ve loved Fischerspooner since (before?) their first album came out, so writing a number-graded review of their new work was a difficult task for me. I’m still not sure how I feel about doing that.

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” thoughts, Episode Five: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

February 15, 2018

Watching Jeff’s final confrontation with Andrew prior to the murder is painful, then, both because of what he gets right and what he gets wrong. “I don’t know what you stand for,” he shouts at Cunanan. “I don’t know who you are. You’re a liar. You have no honor.” Correct on all counts — possibly lethally, so if you figure this contrast in their outlook is a big part of what drove Andrew to kill. But when Andrew rightfully points out that he believed in and supported Jeff while his beloved Navy treated him like shit — “I saved you!” — Jeff bitterly retorts “You destroyed me. I wish I’d never walked into that bar. I wish I’d never met you.” He says he wants his life back, as if Andrew took it from him, instead of Bill Clinton and Uncle Sam. Andrew doestake his life away, eventually, mere hours from that moment in fact. But in a sense, he was just an accessory after the fact. Jeff signed his own death warrant the moment he decided, in the face of society’s hatred, that some principles are worth fighting for anyway.

I reviewed last night’s episode of ACS Versace for Decider. This is a great show.

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” thoughts, Episode Four: “House by the Lake”

February 15, 2018

“You can’t do it, can you?” “I can’t what?” “Stop.”

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is what Matt Zoller Seitz once described, by way of a subtitle to his blog, as “a long, strange journey toward a retrospectively inevitable destination” — the titular murder, seen in the cold open of the very first episode. We’ve already seen where we’re going; what’s left to the show is to depict how we got there. Even those swept along and killed by Andrew Cunanan during the journey seem to sense it. Hence the exchange above. Promising young architect David Madson is the love of Andrew’s life, to hear Andrew tell it. He’s a man to whom the murderer is so fanatically committed that he not only slaughters his rival for David’s affections, his own former love interest Jeff Trail, with a hammer, thus beginning his murder spree, but then manages to convince the shellshocked David that he has some how become an accomplice to the crime and must flee by his side. As time wears on and the shock wears off, David grows less pliable to Andrew’s nonsensical advice and admonishments, but also more honest with himself about where his journey as the Bonnie to Andrew’s would-be Clyde will end. He has no more hope of survival than Andrew has a chance of shutting the fuck up and telling the truth. He can’t do it, can he.

I reviewed last week’s episode of ACS Versace, another tremendous piece of work, for Decider.

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” thoughts, Episode Three: “A Random Killing”

February 15, 2018

I’m glad, in that beautiful terrible way tragedy can make you glad, that Marilyn Miglin gets the last word of the episode, even as Andrew continues shopping and driving and killing on the way to his appointment in Miami. She returns to her gig hawking her signature line of fragrances on the home shopping channel almost immediately — a gutsy move with which the show challenges us to continue to feel empathy for her as she slips into the uncanny valley between sincerity and showmanship, just as the mere presence of any older woman with a glamorous background triggers our societally induced suspicion and revulsion at female failure to remain young. “He believed in me,” she tells her audience, completely honestly. “How many husbands believe in their wive’s dreams? How many treat us as partners? As equals? We were a team for thirty-eight years.” That’s what they were, even if it’s all they were. That’s an achievement. That’s what Andrew destroyed.

Marilyn ends the episode by recounting the advice she got when she first began selling stuff on TV, a technique for connecting with the camera and the people on the other side. “Just hink of the little red light as the man you love.” She stares at the light, at the camera, at us, and as the impenetrable black mascara of her wet eyes closes and the scene cuts to black, her thoughts are ours to imagine.

I reviewed episode three of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, a truly magnificent hour of television, for Decider. Thank you for your patience with this flu-delayed piece.

A quick note on “ACS: Versace”

February 13, 2018

Yes, I wrote a review of episode 3 (which has not been posted by Decider yet) as well as episode 4 (which has)! But I was badly delayed in handing it in due to the flu. Given how long ago it aired it’s understandably not a huge priority for my editors to get it edited, formatted, and posted, but I’ve been assured that they will eventually. My hope is that it will be up prior to my review of tomorrow night’s installment, episode 5. Once it goes up I’ll link to everything in order the way I usually do, but I’m waiting until then just to keep things straight. Thank you for your patience!

Julia Gfrörer: A Void Does Not Exist

February 13, 2018


The 207th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  Feb. 13, 2018 at 7pm at Parsons School of Design, Kellen Auditorium (Room N101), Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. 66 Fifth Avenue (off the lobby). Free and open to the public.

Julia Gfrorer on “A Void Does Not Exist.”

Gfrorer discusses the effect of leaving negative space in a work and how useful a tool it can be for controlling the emotional tenor of a story. People have an instinctive dread of emptiness (“horror vacui,” “nequaquam vacuum,” “nature abhors a vacuum”) which means as creators we tend to avoid it, but for a reader it can also be soothing, hypnotic, sensuous, and magnetic. A void isn’t necessarily a “nothingness”: something happens because of it. She will give examples from her own work as well as work that’s influenced her.

Julia Gfrörer is a writer and cartoonist. She graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA, and now lives on Long Island. She has published several handmade comics under her own imprint, as well as two longer graphic novels, Laid Waste and Black Is the Color, with Fantagraphics, a leading independent comics publisher. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies and publications, including Cicada Magazine, Arthur Magazine, Kramers Ergot 9, and two volumes of Best American Comics. She recently translated and illustrated excerpts from a medieval French heraldic text for 2dCloud’s MIRROR MIRROR II anthology, which she co-edited with her partner, writer Sean T. Collins.

This starts in like 20 minutes! If you hustle you can make it, NYC!

“The Alienist” thoughts, Episode Four: “These Bloody Thoughts”

February 12, 2018

Four episodes in, understanding what “The Alienist” does and doesn’t do well is a walk in the park. Well, it involves a walk in the park, at least.

The stroll in question is taken by Sarah Howard. Tasked by Commissioner Roosevelt with delivering John Moore’s purloined sketchbook to Dr. Lazlo Kreizler — whom she would otherwise as soon avoid, after his callous inquiries about her father’s suicide — Sarah finds the doctor people-watching in a local park. The person he’s watching, specifically, is a mother who once drowned her two young children in the bath. Protected from prosecution or institutionalization by her family fortune (sound familiar?), she now pushes an empty baby carriage around the park, doting on an infant only she can see.

Empathizing with such a person is a bridge too far, Sarah tells Kreizler. But the doctor points out that while the drive to kill may be alien to Miss Howard, the societal pressures faced by all women — “to marry, to have children, to smile when you feel incapable of smiling” — are as familiar to her as they are to the murderous mother.

“Society formed her,” he states bluntly, suggesting that everyone has the “raw materials” to become a killer, lacking only the external spark to make them “combustible.” It’s a provocative payoff to an exchange between Sarah and Kreizler earlier in the exchange, which seemed like simple black comedy at the time: Angry at the doctor for his attempts to glean insight into murder by probing her own psychology, Sarah sneers, “I don’t believe I have it in me to kill a child.” Kreizler smiles reassuringly and says, “You might surprise yourself,” as if he’s encouraging her to apply for a promotion or run a 5K.

If only “The Alienist” had the same faith in its audience’s ability to understand the complexities of its characters’ minds that Kreizler has in Sarah’s. Take the sequence in the park. It’s not for-the-ages dialogue, but the writing is certainly clear in its emotional and intellectual intent (Daniel Brühl and Dakota Fanning’s characteristically restrained performances make the gruesome details of their exchange even more memorable.) But the end of the sequence lays aside the scalpel and breaks out the sledgehammer: As Sarah contemplates Kreizler’s sad tale, children sing a schoolyard rhyme about putting a baby “in a bathtub to see if he could swim,” while a close-up practically immerses us in the waters of a nearby fountain. It could hardly be less subtle if the script had called for Ms. Fanning to turn to the camera and say, “Get it?”

I reviewed episode four of The Alienist for the New York Times.

“The Alienist” thoughts, Episode Three: “Silver Smile”

February 6, 2018

“The Alienist” started its series premiere with a beat cop discovering a severed human hand. It began its second episode with an undertaker lighting torches fueled by decomposition gases in the bellies of corpses. This week the showrunner, Jakob Verbruggen, who is also the episode’s director, steers the series in a decidedly less disgusting direction, although the subject matter is no less disturbing: What is the etiquette for informing a high-society couple over lunch that their son may have murdered a young boy prostitute? Should one wait till after dessert, or just jump straight in?

Thomas Byrnes, the corrupt former chief of the New York Police Department (played by Ted Levine, who still bears the murderous imprimatur of his role as Buffalo Bill in “The Silence of the Lambs”), clearly feels his wealthy patrons the Van Bergens have no time to lose if they wish to keep secret their son’s possible involvement in the recent child slayings. The exchange is shot through with dark, absurdist humor by Byrnes’s hilariously long walks from one end of the Van Bergens’ lengthy dining table to the other. “Willem has got himself in water a bit hotter than usual,” he says to Willem’s mother, portrayed in a surprising, tight-laced cameo by Sean Young.

“Thought you should know now,” he adds, before hoofing it back to Mr. Van Bergen (Steven Pacey), who sits at the other end of the table, chewing a spoonful of pudding. “There’s no later.”

A comedy of manners? In a squalid period piece full of mutilated bodies? Yes, and thank goodness. Levine’s craggy deadpan, Young’s “well I never” fan-fluttering, and a second surprise cameo, from Grace Zabriskie as John Moore’s disapproving mother (Zabriskie played Sarah Palmer in “Twin Peaks”), temper the gloom and grime with charmingly effective humor. In Byrnes’s visit to the Van Bergens — which, by the way, gives us our first real hints as to the identity of the killer — and in moments like Mrs. Moore’s jumpy reaction to a ringing phone (“Oh! Loathsome machine!”), the writer Gina Gionfriddo gives us room to breathe after immersing us in so much horror and squalor.

I reviewed episode 3 of The Alienist, the best of the bunch so far, for the New York Times.

Meat Beat Manifesto – “Impossible Star”

January 31, 2018

It’s no slight against Impossible Star, the first album by electronica innovator Jack Dangers’ Meat Beat Manifesto in nearly a decade, to begin this review by outsourcing it to another critic: my six-year-old daughter. “My favorite part is that it doesn’t just sound like one thing,” she said after listening to the album on a lengthy car ride. “Some songs are creepy, some songs are funky. I like that.” Who could disagree? The delights of a good Meat Beat record—a magpie approach to collecting sounds, combined with a tasteful precision in arranging and deploying them—are apparent even to a child’s ears, and Impossible Star is a very good Meat Beat record indeed.

I reviewed Meat Beat Manifesto’s fine new album for Pitchfork. Such a delight to return to MBM’s sound after all these years, and such a pleasure to get to talk about them for p4k. (I was also pleased to be a part of my daughter’s critical debut.)

“The Alienist” thoughts, Episode Two: “A Fruitful Partnership”

January 30, 2018

“The Alienist” does, however, play to the cheap seats in another way common to period dramas of its ilk: period-appropriate gore and squalor, and as much of it as you can stomach. The episode’s first shot is of a corpse, one of many laid out in a morgue and illuminated by flames lit to burn off the gas inside each cadaver’s bloated belly. A visit to the tenement home of the Santorellis, whose child was one of the victims, reveals a waterfall of sewage, a horde of screeching rats and a baby left to crawl through the hallway while the parents scream at each other inside.

Irish cops beat witnesses to a pulp. Underage sex workers in revealing drag attach themselves like leeches to prospective clients. The eyeless heads of slain humans and cattle stare blindly and balefully at us through the screen. The contrast with the opulence of the opera house and restaurant where Kreizler and his companions convene is striking, sure, but it’s also about as subtle as Captain Connor’s interrogation methods.

I reviewed episode two of The Alienist for the New York Times. This portion of the piece is mostly surrounded by stuff I thought was pretty decent, but I wanted to highlight this passage because man does this stuff get grating after a while. It’s so over the top that it makes it hard to take the rest seriously.

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour #71!

January 27, 2018

Underdog TV: Better Call SaulThe Americans, & Halt and Catch Fire

Your illustrious co-hosts are back on the television beat for a full episode on three underwatched shows very close to our collective heart: Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul, Cold War spy thriller The Americans, and tech-industry drama Halt and Catch Fire. Those capsule descriptions are entirely inadequate for capturing these series’ depth, heart, intelligence, and skill, of course, and this episode is our attempt to do so ourselves. (Honestly, Stefan is so insightful about all three shows that Sean pretty much takes the episode off other than to chime in with the occasional “I agree,” but he tries his best to keep up anyway!) Note: We kept our conversation SPOILER FREE in terms of big spoilable moments, so if you’re curious about any of the shows but want to know more about them before pulling the trigger, this is your chance!


Sean’s profile of Halt and Catch Fire for Esquire.

Sean’s recent essay on Better Call Saul for Rolling Stone.

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“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” thoughts, Episode Two: “Manhunt”

January 25, 2018

Just two episodes into the series, Darren Criss is cementing the status of his portrayal of Cunanan as one of the all-time great on-screen serial killers, not just calling to mind Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, Tom Noonan as Francis Dolarhyde, Ted Levine as Jame Gumb, or Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, but actually earning the comparisons.

He’s certainly helped in this respect by Smith’s script and the direction of People v. O.J. cinematographer Nelson Cragg. The reference set they assemble for Andrew to inhabit includes a genderbent shower scene by the beach with Andrew’s ersatz friend and escort manager Ronnie (a warm, wounded, marvelously understated Max Greenfield), combining Psycho’s defining visual with the pre-shower/murder rapport between Norman and Marion Crane, not to mention its star Perkins’s closeted sexuality. (A motel also figures prominently, again with roles reversed: Andrew’s the guest on the run from the law, not the person at the front desk, and he must ingratiate himself to her instead of the other way around.)

Elsewhere, a scene of excruciating sadism, in which an underwear-clad Andrew dances to the Big ‘80s strains of Phil Collins and Philip Bailey’s pounding “Easy Lover” while an escort client slowly suffocates beneath the duct-tape mask Cuanan wrapped around his head (“You’re helpless…accept it…accept it…ACCEPT IT…”) drags the male-on-male-gaze subtext of Bret Easton Ellis and Mary Harron’s respective American Psychos squirming into the harsh Florida light. Simultaneously hitting Pulp Fiction‘s gimp sequence, Boogie Nights‘s “Sister Christian”/”Jesse’s Girl”/”99 Luftballoons” coke deal gone bad, and Silence of the Lambs‘ Buffalo Bill/”Goodbye Horses” buttons as well, this is a scene people will remember. (A closing scene in which Cunanan prefaces his usual torrent of bullshit about his life by straight-up saying “I’m a serial killer” to a prospective suitor also tears a page from the AP playbook.)

And in the most chilling allusion of all, Ronnie — a sweet guy who moved to Miami because he’d heard “people like living by the ocean who don’t have much living left,” then got unexpectedly healthy, and now dreams of opening up a small florist shop with the money he and Andrew have amassed from his escort gigs — knocks on the bathroom door and finds Andrew in full Manhunter Great Red Dragon mode on the other side, the top half of his face rendered obscure and inhuman by the duct tape he’d applied to himself. Because the context of each of these scenes is so specific to who Andrew and Ronnie are, none of it feels derivative or plagiaristic, the way the generic King/Carpenter/Spielberg rehash of Stranger Things does, for example. Indeed, it’s no different from the way it alludes to Christ telling Peter he’d deny him three times when Andrew tells Ronnie, who’s desperate for connection even as Cunanan flees, “When someone asks you if we were friends, you’ll say no.” As I’ve argued before, the horror genre exists in conversation with itself, and Versace is simply using the language established by its forebears to tell a story all its own.

I reviewed the extraordinary second episode of ACS Versace for Decider.

The Boiled Leather Audio Moment #17!

January 25, 2018
Our second BLAM of the month is all about the real ruler of the Red Keep: that big old mean black cat who keeps popping in and out of the narrative, of course! Reader Ellan Evans asks us if there’s some deeper meaning behind the feline formerly known as Princess Rhaenys’s cat Balerion. Has our four-legged friend been skinchanged by parties unknown? Could he be possessed by the spirit of a slain Targaryen? Or is he just a cool cat? Find out in the latest episode of our subscriber-only mini-podcast, available for just $2/month at our Patreon!

“The Alienist” thoughts, Episode One: “The Boy on the Bridge”

January 22, 2018

Playing the title character presents Brühl with a tough task. Dr. Kreizler spends his non-sleuthing hours dealing with the living, not the dead; his work with troubled and vulnerable patients — children in particular — requires sensitivity, gentleness and genuine care. As such, aloofness, arrogance and the other traits that typically define maverick masterminds like Kreizler would be out of character. In its way that’s a blessing: Do we really need to see the umpteenth knockoff of Sherlock Holmes or Dr. House? Indeed, Brühl imbues the alienist with a plain-spoken dignity, even in the moments when his behavior is demanding or shocking by the standards of his day.

But there’s a reason you don’t often see the phrase “eminently reasonable visionary” used to describe fictional detectives. (To be fair, with all due respect to our fictional Times colleague John Moore, sexually magnetic crime-solving newspaper cartoonists are rarer still.) Kreizler is so calm and so conscientious that he has a tendency to fade into the meticulously constructed background as a result. When he finally does something truly weird, delivering a concluding monologue about his need to “become” the killer in order to catch him — to “cut the child’s throat myself,” psychologically speaking — the change is so sudden and stark that the lines land with a thud.

The fact that serial-killer procedurals from “Manhunt” to “Mindhunter” have painted their protagonists by pretty much these exact same numbers doesn’t help either. It’s true that the source material here predates the current surplus of unstable cop geniuses, but this adaptation of a 1994 book about an 1896 crime must still move and thrill us in 2018. Like the killer himself, who escapes Kreizler during a peculiar pursuit through an abandoned building after taunting him with a grisly trophy, the answer as to whether it will remains elusive for now.

I’m back in the New York Times to cover The Alienist all season long, starting with my review of tonight’s series premiere.

‘Breaking Bad’ at 10: How the Gamechanging Show Redefined TV’s Golden Age

January 20, 2018

If the series has faded from the zeitgeist somewhat, you could perhaps blame the finale – an attempt to provide closure that was perhaps a little too successful, and pulled a few too many punches at the expense of “redeeming” its chrome-domed king. We’d hardly be the first to say that if the show had ended two episodes earlier with the bleak and brutal “Ozymandias” – directed by Johnson, written by Moira Whalley-Beckett and frequently cited as the finest single episode in the history of television – it would be a better show.

But this stumble at the finish line can itself prove instructive, since it provides a full clip of ammo for the fight over the role series finales should play in our assessments of series as a whole. It does so in much the same way that the finale itself existed in conversation with The Sopranos‘ cut to black and Lost‘s journey into the light, to cite two previous blockbuster sign-offs. Success or failure, it exists to be argued about – which is a form of success all its own.

Most importantly, and more than any other show of its time, Breaking Badproved that you can have your cake and choke on it too. Boasting roller-coaster thrills, catchphrase gold (“Science, bitch!” “I am the one who knocks!”) and a crack supporting cast so strong that they could sustain an entire second spinoff show (thank you, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito), Breaking Bad was an absolute blast to watch and a delight to look forward to every week. Yet it bore no illusions about the horrors being perpetrated in its hero’s name; it never passed up an opportunity to remind us what he’d done in the name of “family.” Its balance between the exquisite and the awful – thrilling us with Walt’s misadventures one moment, beating us emotionally bloody with them the next – was unequaled in its time. It remains an achievement worth remembering and rewatching. To paraphrase the original Ozymandias himself: Look on its works, ye mighty, and despair.

I wrote a Breaking Bad retrospective in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary for Rolling Stone. In addition to tackling the thorny issue of the finale, I also tried to emphasize the strength of the cast, the resonance with the growth of the MAGA alt-right, the danger of mere political readings of the show (pro or con), and its flabbergasting proficiency with action and suspense, which I suspect is its most lasting legacy. I, uh, kinda forgot to include this, but I do think that shows like The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story give lie to the idea that the antihero genre is a spent, or even destructive, force.

The Boiled Leather Audio Moment #16!

January 18, 2018

Moment 16 | Sean vs. Mad Max: Fury Road & The Fifth Element

It’s another surprise Sean solo edition of BLAM! This time, Sean’s tackling two movies he dislikes, at the request of listener Jonathan Mauro: George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road and Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. What’s your illustrious co-host’s beef against these two much-beloved blockbuster sci-fi/action hits? Subscribe for just $2/month and find out!

(Click here to buy this episode’s theme music.)

“The Assassination of Gianni Verace: American Crime Story” thoughts, Episode One: “The Man Who Would Be Vogue”

January 17, 2018

However you feel about Ryan Murphy’s other projects, ACS‘s debut season, The People v. O.J. Simpson, is unquestionably his apotheosis. In conjunction with writer-creators Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, Murphy revisited a media-circus murder case nearly everyone thought had been exhausted of any creative or sociopolitical potential, and the result was a kaleidoscopic, knockout-powerful examination of racism, sexism, celebrity culture, journalism, the judicial system, the rise of reality TV, domestic violence, police misconduct, and the whole goddamn human condition. It was one of the best television shows of all time, full stop. Can Murphy, now working with writer Tom Rob Smith and adapting journalist Maureen Orth’s book on the case Vulgar Favors, draw water from that same dark well a second time?


I reviewed the premiere of The Assassination of Gianni Versace, the brilliant new season of American Crime Story, for Decider, where I’ll be covering the show till the end.

The Beat’s Best Comics of 2017

January 14, 2018

“In a year that many have found bleak and depressing, Mirror Mirror II managed to channel this energy into one of the most riveting visual experiences of the year….the best horror comics anthology available.” —Phillippe Leblanc

“This book should win all the design awards for 2017. It’s as magnificent as the contents are (purposely) horrific.” —Heidi MacDonald

I’m honored to that Mirror Mirror II made the Beat’s Best Comics of 2017 list twice over, once courtesy of Phillippe Leblan and again via Heidi MacDonald. Perpetually grateful and glad so see this book reaching people. Buy it here.

If you like what I do, please subscribe to my Patreon or donate to my PayPal

January 7, 2018

Here’s the Patreon. Yes, it’s technically for the Boiled Leather Audio Hour podcast, and yes, I split it half and half with my illustrious co-host Stefan Sasse. But a) Stefan’s cool and deserves the scratch too, and b) you needn’t be interested in BLAH or the perks associated with becoming a patron to donate this way. Every bit helps.

And here’s the PayPal. This goes directly to me and you can make it a monthly subscription-type thing if you feel like it. Again, every bit helps.

I have big plans for this year and money is a constant worry, and I’m uncertain as to how my absence from Twitter will affect me professionally. Your financial support at any level means the world to me.

Thank you for your consideration.