Friday, February 22, 2019

Flashback Friday: Whatever Happened to the Ying Yang Twins?

You know what irritates me these days? People talk about Migos as if they are the first rap-group that does mediocre rhymes along with some decent music and weird vocal sound effects. This annoys me as everyone is clearly forgetting the Ying Yang Twins. Immensely popular throughout the early 2000's Kaine and D-Roc were perhaps lacking in lyrical depth, but made songs that were interesting in terms of the sonic-trickery and loved to do wild sounds with their voices.

The Ying Yang Twins would have jams that started with one particular melody before at times switching the BPM up all kinds of crazy-like ("Whistle While You Twerk," and, "Say Ay Yi Yi," are wild). They also had a song where the gimmick was they whispered the whole time, titled appropriately enough, "The Whisper Song." A weirdly minimalist piece with all kinds of strange echo effects from their voices and the quiet beat, it is phenomenal to listen to even if the lyrics are really lacking--the entire song is little more beyond them stating, "Wait'll you see my dick," and how the woman will greatly enjoy intercourse as they metaphorically beat her genitalia up their superior sex-skills.

The Ying Yang Twins were massively popular then around the 2010 or so just...stopped. No studio albums of brand-new material since 2009, but a mixtape here-and-there. That was about it. Other than popping-up in the news if something bad occurred, little discussion happened about Kaine and D-Roc. Whatever happened to the Ying-Yang Twins? I looked into it, and they seem to be doing okay.

Kaine and D-Roc have apparently been working on a new album and in later 2018 said to possibly expect something in the near future. They and other artists are actively touring with B2K which is in the midst of its 2019 reunion tour. I have no idea if they actually will be putting-out new music anytime soon, or if concert-goers at shows featuring them will simply be treated to retreads of their hits, but it is good to know they are alive and apparently healthy.

My Only Comment on Jussie Smollett and His Apparently Manufactured Attack

Jussie Smollett
I write a lot about popular culture as well as race, sexuality, and the intersection of all these concepts. Therefore, I feel I should comment on everything that has been going on with Jussie Smollett and how it turns out he may have faked being the victim of a hate crime in the hopes it would boost his fame and income lest I be accused of some kind of bias or trying to ignore it. My one and only comment on this is as such:

I would find it really encouraging if all the people dedicated to making sure justice is served in this case were just as passionate about the countless LGBTQ people of color who are in fact attacked and often ignored, disbelieved, or victim-blamed. It is really telling that in a singular case where someone actually did fake their attack it has become a huge story and yet nobody cares how often individuals are attacked and sometimes murdered. As a friend of mine from college named Steven Canals put it succinctly on his Twitter, "I reject the rhetoric that Jussie has now made it harder for us to believe victims... cause let’s be honest. If they were Black/Brown, Women, or LGBTQ+, ya’ll weren’t believing them in the first place!" Oh, and Steven is the co-creator of the stellar show on FX, "Pose," which I'd recommend everyone watch, but that's off-subject.
Smollett may have lied,
but countless others have not.
My point is that I'm disturbed how much of a big deal people are making out of Smollett faking an attack, as they are essentially silently-but-obviously trying to say in a not-so-subtle manner that they think a lot of the harassment, attacks, and violence towards LGBTQ individuals, women, people of color, etc. is some kind of conspiracy to..take the white man down, or something? We need to believe survivors, and we need to believe victims. A water-droplet of a lie in an ocean of truth doesn't change anything, if my metaphor makes any sense. Smollett may have manufactured his attack, but 99.9% of the cases we hear about (or which go unreported out of fear) are true, no matter how much some people want to deny it or use this case as an excuse to write-off real survivors and victims.

That's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Rant-Reviews: Checking in with the Mainstream Publishers

It Has Been a Bit
Hey, I haven't done some rant-reviews for a bit, and I ought to discuss some of those more mainstream titles out there, right? Let's do this.

Reading and Writing (My Thoughts)
Captain America #7
Ta-Nehisi Coates has been giving us a bit of a slow-burn comic with some solid artwork by Leinil Yu but things are starting to finally get a bit more to a boiling point, if I may mix my metaphors. Steve Rogers has been accused of murdering General, "Thunderbolt" Ross because he realizes some nefarious force is looking to slander the name of Captain America--in the end it is about the shield and what it stands for no matter what America is going through. Coates is building-up a fascinating political conspiracy full of twists and turns, even if the pace is a bit slow.
4 out of 5 stars.

Oliver #1
Apparently there have been a number of new takes on the classic Dicken's tale, "Oliver Twist," but this one is just downright weird and only vaguely reminiscent of that classic story. That is probably also why I quite liked it. Image has been putting out a ton of #1 issues lately, probably because enough end-up becoming big hits that a smattering of failures is acceptable. I hope that this book gets a lot of good buzz however, because we have a splendidly odd comic here. It is the future, a bunch of mutant-soldiers live isolated from society, but a young boy named Oliver they adopted once his mother came to the nuclear wasteland and gave birth to him before she died (and he strangely survived) goes around causing mischief. Clearly Oliver is special and will be journeying to parts of the world not destroyed yet, and I am curious to see how the old book will be riffed upon and also quite clearly differ. Another solid debut from Image.
4 out of 5 stars.

Deathstroke #40
Christopher Priest's masterful magnum-opus run on, "Deathstroke," hits issue #40 here, featuring his usual mixture of pathos, purposely-disjointed pacing and time-jumps, and a solid dose of humor. Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke breaks out of Arkham Asylum finally in this issue but learns some of the hallucinations he suffered from Hugo Strange (who took over the Asylum and let the inmates make a mess within it) may have been all too real (killing his therapist) and others quite fake (thinking he killed Two-Face). Oh, and he fights some space aliens because why not? Just an amazing series, and one I hope isn't impacted by DC's recent announcement of cost-cutting measures which will include reducing their comic-line.
5 out of 5 stars.

Immortal Hulk #13
Speaking of amazing series, albeit one a lot earlier in its run than, "Deathstroke," but no less impressive, here is, "Immortal Hulk." Al Ewing has been making amazing comics for some time now but seemed to not get much recognition. Well, his horror-themed Hulk comic which has now literally taken the character to a form of Hell is getting a whole lot of love thanks to his phenomenal scripting and (usual) artist Joe Bennet's disgusting-yet-incredible illustrations. In this issue the Hulk finally breaks out of the strange Hell but still has a whole lot of questions about the nature of just who/what he is to address. This is arguably the best Marvel comic on stands latley, and the best Hulk comic possibly ever--although Peter David's run a good deal of years ago was extremely solid, and I liked Planet Hulk a good deal too. Still, this is just off-the-charts incredible stuff.
5 out of 5 stars.

Savage Dragon #242
Just thought I'd dip my toe into the long-running and surreal weirdness that is Erik Larsen's comic, "The Savage Dragon." This issue just came out yesterday and it still is a bizarre mixture of heroics, sexy-stuff, politics, and general strangeness, Larsen is doing what he likes all these issues later. That it is delightfully entertaining decades into the series is admirable.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Green Lantern #4
I previously had a big review of the first issue of this Grant Morrison-written and Liam Sharp-illustrated comic. We are now four issues in and the weirdness expressed via the story and artwork has continued without relenting in the slightest. One of my favorite comics ever was written by Morrison and was a very off-the-wall science-fiction mini-series known as, "The Filth," so I clearly like when Morrison ventures into sci-fi stories. That perhaps is why I'm so far really digging his, "Green Lantern," run with its weird mixture of wacky aliens, space-law, and a dash of super-heroics from Hal Jordan and his fellow Lanterns. Morrison and Sharp fill these pages with a lot--a whole bunch of story and mind-bending artwork--but it hasn't been overwhelming yet so much as enthralling in its strangeness. I'm not sure where exactly this book is heading with its countless strange creatures and plots, but I'm eager to see where it eventually ends-up.
4 out of 5 stars.

Check-In Complete
Well, that was a productive post discussing what is going on with some assorted bigger-name publishers. Clearly even if I often am discussing the difficulties and complexities going on Marvel and DC (Image usually ain't having much drama) they still can publish some stellar work when not dealing with big fiascoes or controversies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The, "Magnus the Brave," Kickstarter Looks Awesome and Still Has Some Time Left to Pledge!

I heard about, "Magnus the Brave," from my chum, Tony, who runs Comics Heating Up. Created by a fellow fan of CHU, Chris Rau, Tony mentioned it to me and readers of his website how it was a cool-looking comic with a Kickstarter that was going on to raise funds. I was intrigued when I heard how Rau does the story, artwork, and coloring, with some story co-writing by Ace Nuckolls, as having a creator who does most of the aspects of a comic is always cool to me in this era where sometimes comic-creation can be a bit fragmented between a big creative team. I had the opportunity to read an advance digital copy of the comic in my capacity as a journalist (that's what I call myself, at least) and was quite impressed. I can see why, "Magnus the Brave," met its funding goal so quickly and has continued to raise money from interested backers!

"Magnus the Brave," is described by Rau as mixing the identity of Conan the Barbarian with Samurai Jack to create a warrior who can fight in a bloodthirsty and viscous manner, but also values peace and introspection. Rau's art style is inspired by a cool mash-up of anime-styled over-the-top action and bloody violence. Imagine if the warriors of old who fought with swords and arrows could also occasionally bust-out a super-powered move full of bright explosive colors and you get the idea of what Rau is doing. The comic follows Magnus as he protects his village from all sorts of strange villains...villains who don't last long. The meshing of the ideas and the weird characters Magnus fights creates something that is original yet also readily appeals to fan of these different style of entertainment. I greatly enjoyed what I read of, "Magnus the Brave," and would encourage you to visit its Kickstarter page while there is still time to pledge (a bit under two days now) and to back it should the comic strike your fancy.

I Was Wrong About a Movie's Box-Office Potential Yet Again

At the end of 2018 I described how my biggest mistake of the year was predicting that the movie, "Venom," would be a box-office bomb as opposed to making a whole lot of money. I just had a post last week where I stated James Cameron was trying to get publicity for the, "Alita: Battle Angel," film he had executive-produced because I and everyone else was convinced it was going to bomb, hard. Well, I was wrong yet again and maybe should quit predicting box-office intakes as besides thinking that, "Aquaman," would be a big hit I've been wrong, often.

"Alita: Battle Angel," is by no means a huge, wild hit. It did place 1st in the domestic box-office this extended President's Day weekend, however, making about $43 million within America if you look at the stats for Thursday showings through Monday. The thing still cost nearly $170 million to make and has had a huge advertising budget, but between a solid first weekend in the US and decent International box-office sales it might very well end-up turning a tidy profit if it does well in China and Japan (it has not been released there yet) and getting a hinted-at sequel made--something I would have thought had the chance of happening of a snowball in Hell last week.

"Alita: Battle Angel," has proven it is not a huge bomb, but it also is struggling to some degree that others would say it is somewhat tanking. Still, I thought it would crater so I have to admit I was wrong to some degree. If in the end it has a quick drop in ticket-sales and inexplicably falters in Japan and China it could very well qualify as a box-office disaster, but the fact it even placed first in America over our combination Valentine's Day-to-President's Day weekend (albeit a modest first-place) is enough proof that as good as I sometimes am at predicting what comic-books will be hits or failures, my track-record with movies starting to look like it ain't that good. At least I can be pleased for the Director, Robert Rodriguez, whom I've always heard/read is a nice guy that simply loves making movies, big-budget like this one or smaller-scale stuff too. I'm happy for him, even if I am disappointed in myself.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Prudence Photography Is Fantastic!

Last year my wife, Clarkson, and I had professional pictures done and loved them, but the person who did those moved away. Thankfully, we got in contact with another professional photographer we knew. We were able to purchase the services of them in order to take photos commemorating how our son, Clarkson, is about to turn two years old! We had the pictures done over the weekend and they are just perfect.

Christy Prudence of Prudence Photography was phenomenal between her skillful shots, photo-editing, and overall patience as we wrangled our son to get some good photos. Between how nice she was, the great pricing, fast turnaround time to get our images, and the gorgeous pictures we are very pleased.
I always love sharing photos of my awesome son and wonderful wife, and the fantastic pictures Prudence Photography took are just amazing. I would encourage you to visit the website I linked to above but will provide another helpful link to here, or you can give Christy a holler via Facebook if you live anywhere near the Saint Louis region and want to have professional photography done of you, your family, etc. I know I'd encourage you to use her services--my wife and I are very happy customers!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Should I Try-Out This DC Universe Thing?

Okay then, I previously wrote about my confusion regarding exactly what this DC Universe app/service was. Now that it has been released and out for awhile I think I finally have a grasp on it. The thing essentially is a way to pay a monthly fee in order to gain access to a curated selection of all-you-can-read DC books (which side-steps Comixology and saves DC paying it, Apple, or Amazon--who owns Comixology--any fees) along with an assortment of DC films, television shows, and original content. It is a combination streaming-service, comic-app, and so forth. Am I right, I think I'm right? Anyways, I am thinking maybe I should try it out, as I am curious about if it is in fact a good service for watching/reading content, plus I've heard the exclusive-to-DC-Universe show, "Doom Patrol," is remarkably good. I mean, when I heard it had Matt Bomer and Brendan Fraser I was basically already all-in.

There is a free 7-day trial period, and those, "Doom Patrol," episodes are being released every Friday so I could watch at least two and get a feel for the show as well as exploring the app/service. I am a little annoyed there isn't an easy way to launch it on my PlayStation 4 and instead to get it on the television I'll need to use a work-around method like having it stream on the computer and be displayed on my T.V. via the Chromecast or such, but with my PC and our old iPad reading some comics shouldn't be hard. Yeah, I think I maybe will go ahead and try-out this DC Universe thing when I have some free time, even if I hate most aspects of it I still get a solid dose of Bomer and Fraser, after all, I love those actors.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Another Great Micro Con is in a Week!

I am a fan of local toy and comic events, and have often discussed my great enjoyment of the Mirco Cons put on by STL Comics. Well, a week from today there will be another Micro Con! That's right, February 24th, 2019, from 10AM-4PM you can see all kinds of great vendors, awesome guests (Kenneth Rocafort will be there along with such stellar guests as Lorenzo Lizana and David Gorden), and otherwise have a ton of fun for just $3 admission (kids 10 and under are free). I always find stellar stuff at the Micro Cons, which feature such fantastic vendors as Trade Up Comics, CoMo Comic Books, Wayne Kent Comics, Cabal Books, and more! I look forward to attending the show next week at the Holiday Inn located at 3400 Rider Trail South, St. Louis, MO, 63045. Should you be a local who reads my blog or just happen to be in the area I'd encourage you to attend--I'll be there buying wares and trading my own stuff!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Trump and the Emergency of His Own Making

Well, it happened. I previously wrote about my concern regarding any President declaring a State of Emergency to do things the Executive Branch should not be able to do, and my worst fears have come true (something I often say in regards to this dumpster-fire of a Presidency). Donald Trump is going to declare a state of emergency--an emergency of his own making--in order to get funds to build his stupid symbolic wall (that Mexico was supposedly going to pay for), a wall taht Congress won't allow--hence the previous Government shutdown. Trump has had enough people make it clear how terrible the last shutdown made him look (e.g. like a petty loser) so he thinks this will show strength or something if goes ahead and oversteps the bounds of his Executive power...all to build a dumb wall. What happens next? Nobody is sure. This is a big Constitutional crisis. The President is doing things the President should not be able to do, and this will result in folk suing him, further questions about if the 25th amendment should be invoked so he is removed from power, and just general attempts to block his stupid efforts. You can't say Trump's Presidency has gone off the rails because this crazy-train jumped the tracks months ago and is barreling through all common-sense. Trump has made his own emergency and now is diverting Federal funds for it. Should such a thing stand it sets a dangerous precedent for other mayhem Trump could try to cause with more future emergency declarations, as well as what later Presidents could attempt in regards to basically disregarding our Nation's laws--assuming this all doesn't end in nuclear apocalypse and Trump becomes the last President (America, it had a good run).

These upcoming days and weeks are going to be pivotal in determining if Trump will be allowed to run roughshod over America's foundational laws, or if his temper-tantrums will be put to a stop now that Democrats at least have some power again--lord knows his own party is so used to kissing his ass they ain't gonna do a thing. The ultimate irony in this of course would be if Trump gets his moronic efforts approved by the Supreme Court our next President, who willy very likely be a Democrat after what the GOP has done lately, will then have the right to push through all kinds of Progressive ideas even if Republicans protest. After all, if it was good enough for Trump why not have it be good enough for our future President, Ms. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Seriously, she is a breath of fresh-air among all these other ancient and corrupt politicians. Anyways, to summarize my article: Trump created an emergency to do what he wants, it is madness as usual, America is doomed. On the plus side, all that Valentine's Day chocolate that didn't sell yet is now heavily discounted, so that's nice.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

As I Have Said, Shit is Going Down at DC Coics

Just recently I observed that the comic-book publisher known as DC Comics had a whole lot of shit going down. People were being let-go, restructuring was clearly planned, and it seemed the company was getting more controversy-averse (for one example, see the Black Label/Batman's penis fiasco). Well, recent events only seem to further support how--as I have said--shit is going down at DC Comics.

Let's start with some less remarkable things occurring at DC. Namely, that the surprisingly-good series, "Doomsday Clock," has been delayed yet again, which isn't a shock as the artist, Gary Frank, is incredible but lacking in regards to turning-in his work speedily. Oh, and, "Batman: Damned," #3, the final issue in the series which started all the wiener-fuss, was delayed (probably to now clean-up any naughty bits in artwork)...and then all pre-orders were cancelled. Now, it is not uncommon for a heavily-delayed series to have issues cancelled to be resolicited at a later date, but maybe this signifies something else, such as possibly DC just wanting the series and the Black Label itself to quietly fade away (all the other new Black Label books also seem cancelled to maybe be solicited again too, after all).
An even bigger significant occurrence illustrating that DC is scared to rock the boat is that the upcoming Vertigo comic, "Second Coming," has been cancelled, but the creative team is being given the rights so as to take it to another publisher who won't mind some controversy (basically any other publisher, in other words). For those unaware, "Second Coming," was about Jesus returning to Earth and being extremely let-down to see how people were using his teachings, as well as appearing to worship a violent super-hero named Sun-Man more than himself. It is clearly a satirical comic and seems tame compared to other stuff DC's Vertigo imprint has made before--I mean, this is the company that gave us, "Preacher." Still, there was some media attention and so-called, "Christians," complaining the comic was offensive or blasphemous, so away it goes. I mean, these are the same people who protest they should be allowed to draw Muhammad in offensive ways thanks to our nation's freedom of speech, but when has hypocrisy ever stopped the far-right in our country?

DC seems to be wanting to do comics that carefully avoid pushing too many buttons, and instead of edgier work are going to give us stuff like, "The Year of the Villain," a comic-event where villains yet again go and work to take over the world (so..."Forever Evil," but this time it is villains from the same dimension instead of another one, I guess). It isn't all bad news at DC, however, as their planned films made by their owner, Warner Brothers, have had the ones with Jared Leto's mediocre Joker potentially cancelled, so we won't have any more of that to suffer through. Hopefully he'll be a better Morbius, as Leto has shown in other roles he is a solid actor (just not a good Joker). I'd be willing to get a whole bunch of crappy Leto-Joker flicks if it meant the publishing-arm of DC would actually put out challenging and thoughtful work, but that isn't my choice to make.