Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Television Tuesday: Single Parents

The channel ABC has a mixture of comedy programs that are still relatively young and fresh ("American Housewife," just started its 3rd season) and ones that used to be great but now have long since worn out their welcome ("Modern Family," lost its spark about 4 or 5 seasons ago). In its effort to keep introducing new stuff to replace whatever gets cancelled or finally ends ("Modern Family," might actually wrap this year, I've heard), ABC has brought us, "Single Parents," and it is suitably funny thanks primarily to the strength of its cast injecting some life into what might otherwise be dull stock characters.

"Single Parents," focuses on  its titular group of single parents at an elementary school who take turns handling various responsibilities so as to have somewhat balanced lives. The characters might feel mostly like cliches if it weren't for the talent portraying them. Brad Garrett plays an old somewhat-conservative white guy who had to raise his two twin daughters when his young wife suddenly passed away. Taran Killam (I always loved him on, "Saturday Night Live," and am happy he has a new gig) appears as a very high-strung former weatherman who has made so much of his life about raising his daughter he struggles to have his own personality. We've also got Jake Choi as a very young dad to a new baby who still has a lot of growing-up to do himself and Kimrie Lewis plays a mother who is also a wine bar owner and a strong feminist (yes, she and Garrett's character argue a lot as you would've predicted).
Leighton Meester
Leighton Meester's character is probably the only one that isn't too exaggerated a stereotype. Meester is instead shown as a younger mom dealing with a somewhat over-clingy son, a work-romance she is both excited and hesitant about, and no particular overly-zany qualities like the other parents, so with her talent she excels even without a crutch of some over-the-top personality aspect to fall back on. She and everyone else have great chemistry, and the actors who portray their kids all do a solid job even if at times the show seems unsure if it wants the kids to get equal-billing with their parents as main characters or if they are more secondary to the various shenanigans the grown-up cast gets into.

There have been three episodes so far and each one feels stronger than the last. The premiere/pilot had the usual problem of having to nail-down all the main plot points and introduce everyone within a single episode, but after that things have been able to breathe more and allow us to get to know the characters and how they handle various scenarios from dating to helping their kids deal with the death of a pet. "Single Parents," isn't perfect, but it is quite funny more often than not and the cast makes even the silliest situations worth watching. I'd give what I've seen so far of, "Single Parents," 4 out of 5 stars, and I'm eager to keep tuning in!

Monday, October 15, 2018

I Really Like That, "Drew Barrymore," Song by Bryce Vine for Some Reason

Bryce Vine is not a music artist I am particularly familiar with. He apparently was briefly on a reality show for teen-singers where they competed to be on, "Glee," titled, "The Glee Project," which I did watch years ago, but as he was the first eliminated it doesn't surprise me I have zero recollection of his time on the program. That said, hes been working for some years making singles and EPs, with one he debuted in 2017 titled, "Drew Barrymore," starting to get a lot of play now in mid-to-late 2018.

His story is interesting, going from almost giving-up at music after struggling to get signed with a label to finally finding some success, and shows how hard he has had to work to get some recognition unlike various tweens who get found by record labels thanks to their videos on YouTube and then are groomed for mass consumption with bland pop-releases (Justin Bieber, Austin Mahone, etc.). Vine has been working and has a debut album coming out in 2019 that may be titled, "Carnival." I'm interested in hearing it because I like, "Drew Barrymore," so much. What makes it as enjoyable as it is, though?

"Drew Barrymore," is basically a song about Vine finding a woman attractive and having sex with her, one of the most basic song-concepts ever. The thing is, he works in so damn many clever metaphors, uses his sing-song raps expertly, and otherwise makes the whole thing weirdly entrancing that I can't help but want to listen to the song repeatedly. He paints a surreal picture of the room they are making love in, talking about a television that doesn't work, describing her as a hurricane sweeping through a desert like a "Hot Americana rain."

It is a strangely poetic song even as it admits that it is mainly about, "Fucking on the counter or the coffee table." The mixture of concepts and Vine's deep voice reminds me a bit of another talented lyricist, Mike Ladd, and that is meant as the utmost compliment to Vine. "Drew Barrymore," is a song I can say I really like thanks to being so intriguing as well as catchy. I look forward to hopefully hearing a lot more from Vine in 2019!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

This Weekend in Comics and Politics, The World and America in Particular Burned as Usual

America is of course metaphorically burning, with all the terrible people who shouldn't be listened to somehow gaining more and more power (Alt-Right, Neo-Nazis) in this surreal alternate Universe where Donald Trump is President, the hateful people claim we should engage in bad-faith debates with them, and Taylor Swift may inexplicably be America's last hope for democracy. This weekend was just one where things kept burning as usual, with two events helping to illustrate this.

First off, the folk over at Bleeding Cool (you know, that website with some good articles but which is slathered in annoying ads) apparently had an interview with super-troll and known hateful-idiot, Vox Day. The article talked about how terrible Day was as a self-described White Supremacist and fact-checked his absurd claims (Holocaust denial, etc.), but why even interview the moron and give him a voice? Nazi's don't deserve a kind debate, they need a punch in the face and someone as far-left as Warren Ellis agrees with me on that. People got mad at Bleeding Cool and they took the article down, apologizing and saying there would be some changes to who was in charge...which resulted in people asking, "Wait, just who is in charge there?" People stood-up against the terrible alt-right jackasses and good won the day though, showing we should fight-back against these intolerant assholes, right? It's not like reasonable people will be upset we fought against hate after all. Read my next paragraph and find out...
Comic-book writer Chuck Wendig was fired from his, "Star Wars," books for Marvel for actually fighting-back at hateful trolls who disliked that he dared did things like have LGTBQ characters in his, "Star Wars," comics. Apparently Wendig needed to be more, "Civil," towards the people spewing threats at him. This is one big gift/capitulation to the morons over at, "Comicsgate," as they continue to seek-out any way they can cause damage to folk who don't agree with their blind worship of Donald Trump or...um, what do they believe besides that diversity is bad and the Cheeto-in-office is good? Now we've had James Gunn negatively impacted by right-wing trolls for old crass jokes (don't worry, he's doing okay now), and Chuck Wendig fired for doing nothing beyond calling-out stupid and hateful people.

I just love how the same people who want to be able to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple, force women to take an unwanted pregnancy to term as some kind of walking incubator, march in the streets declaring how they won't be replaced by minorities, and insist that Jews run the media are the same ones declaring how we need to be, "Civil," towards them as they turn back the clock on any social progress made the last half-century and strip everyone of their rights whilst running the nation into the ground. Bleeding Cool fucked-up giving one of those people a platform and Chuck Wendig got fucked-over for refusing to treat the trolls with their desired but undeserved civility. You don't have a polite conversation with a Nazi, you punch it--and I'm saying this as a very polite and reasonable person. As Wendig said in one of his tweets, things are going to get worse before they get better and we need to make sure we vote (while we're still able). America is burning, and those who lit it on fire are chastising us for not speaking to them with civility.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Funko Friday: A Website Was Hacked for Exclusive Funko Pops and Dear God That is Silly

A Recipe for Trouble
Update: It went live for real today at 2PM and everything sold-out within 10 minutes. At least it was supposed to go live this time.

I've discussed before (I think) how with Funko Pops sometimes there will be ones that come out for big comic-conventions and if you're not at the show other retailers will sell them--a, "Shared Exclusive." For example, New York Comic-Con just wrapped and there were many Funko Pops produced to be sold at it or partner-retailer stores. If you couldn't get a, "Gearhead," at the show, Target had some, or if you needed the newest Pop of Supergirl, Barnes and Noble should've stocked her. One company that was given shared exclusives was Toy Tokyo, which has a web-shop but otherwise just has a retail store in New York City. Lately what they have done for their shared exclusives is make a webpage with a password and shortly after that page is created tweet the code out randomly a bit after the convention is done and they know what they still have in stock to sell. Some days ago they put up the latest page and kept telling people little hints about when it might, "Go live," trying to use cutesy metaphors about when Hobbits have meals or such. It was obvious that it would be a simple word however based on past occasions, and the page was up for awhile sitting there. People could even try and type in a password, and everyone was getting annoyed with the arcane clues being occasionally posted online, so that was a recipe for trouble. You can guess what happened next.

Hack Attack!
Yes, someone either was able to guess the password or programmed some bots to simply try a bunch of words as quickly as possible until somehow it was found-out that of all things, 'Nuclear," could get you into the web-page and able to purchase the Toy Tokyo pops in a bundle. It got tweeted, shared on Facebook, posted on Reddit, and so forth. Word spread fast. Once Toy Tokyo saw all these orders they shut the page down, declared any purchases would be cancelled, and said the official release date was going to be pushed-back, to which many people wondered, "Pushed-back from what? You never even told us a date or time!"

Now, I am disgusted that people were so desperate for Funko Pops that they actually dedicated time and effort to hacking the Toy Tokyo website. You must have gone a little crazy with this hobby if you're actually trying to break-into a website for a fun toy product. I also understand that Toy Tokyo acted in a  foolish manner in regards to having proper website security, plus they were making a lot of people angry with their daily vauge-as-Hell hints about when they'd finally sell their damn Pops. The hackers are in the wrong, but Toy Tokyo sure could have done a lot more to prevent what occurred. The whole thing is a mess and now I don't know when people will be able to get their Orange Chrome Batman or any of the other Pops. I just hope it is sooner than later and Toy Tokyo drops the whole cheeky-hints bit.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Hot Comics Revue: Getting Our Kicks with the Sixth

It's Been Awhile
I am aware that it has been a bit since I did an installment of, "The Hot Comics Revue," as the last one was in, let me see here...March of this year. There are consistently titles that are quite, "Hot," or showing potential though, so I thought I would do a new entry! Oh, and as always, I'd encourage you to visit my chums at Comics Heating Up for speculation on comics that haven't been released yet and could become highly desired.

A Comic That is Warming Up
Riptide (The Series So Far)
A snazzy title from independent publisher Red 5 Comics, this mini-series tackles the idea of an absurdly large tidal wave forming that pulls the ocean miles away from land, giving everyone only a limited amount of time to flee to safety if they are on the coast, and putting anyone currently within the ocean (such as on a cruise ship) in immense danger. It's a quite clever concept and I've read two of what I believe will be four issues. It's had some buzz and not many copies at all were published as this is a smaller publisher. If this idea were to get optioned for some kind of big-budget blockbuster however this title could become quite the gem. As for right now, first-print copies of the early issues trend for $10-$20.

A Red-Hot Title
Batman: Damned #1 (either cover)
We all have Batman's penis to thank for this one. I mean, I would've imagined a barely-visible outline of Bruce Waynes wiener would've caused some buzz, but dear God, who saw this coming (no pun intended, get your mind out of the gutter)? Apparently it has actually made some of the people in DC who hold a lot of power upset, and it could very well result in the Black Label line as we know it basically being dead upon arrival. If some nudity really causes DC to panic and move away from mature-reader books--which was the whole damn point of the Black Label--that's just spineless. We all know comics aren't just for kids anymore (as hacky news articles like to declare every couple of months) and you can have a Batman who sells toys coexist with the kind who brutally beats-up the Joker in, "The Dark Knight," or gets nude in the Batcave within, "Batman: Damned." The hilarious thing is that because all future editions of the comic will have the offending genitalia edited-out its caused more hubbub and everybody wants a copy of this book now (either cover) resulting in it easily selling for an easy $40 and up.

A Comic With Steamy Potential
Dark Avengers #1 (Regular Cover or Variants)
This title actually came out back in 2009, arguably serving as one of the main books during Norman Osborn's so-called, "Dark Reign," where he gained a whole bunch of political power thanks to helping save the day at the end of, "Secret Invasion." It was essentially a team of evil Avengers and due to a rumor that we may be getting a, "Dark Avengers," movie everyone is eager to grab a copy in the hopes it'll go from a former dollar-bin book to something super-sought after (kind of like how nobody once cared about Groot, and now we all want his early books). This could all be one big pile of lies, could simply be a title that actually doesn't draw from the comics at all (like, "Age of Ultron,") or is possibly an indicator of what the future holds for Marvel's films. Whatever the case, dig through your short-boxes for the copy of the first issue you put away and forgot about, it is starting to trend for at least 20 bucks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Taylor Swift Now Reflects My Politics More Than Kanye West Does. What Happened?

Wait, I'm not mad at you?
I have to ask, what happened? Kanye West was outspoken and radical, speaking truth-to-power, being a bit over-the-top and full of himself, but still amazing and insightful. Then he let us all down, seemed to get red-pilled, drink the Trump kool-aid, etc. Meanwhile, I was always anti-Taylor Swift. I declared as recently as 2017 how she was bully, loved to play the victim, was the worst kind of white-privilege-having-Becky. Now though, in October of 2018, the whole damn world has gone topsy-turvy.

Taylor Swift posted on Instagram how she supported a number of Democratic candidates in her state of Tennessee. She wrote about how she wanted candidates to be elected who would represent all Americans regardless of race, gender, and sexuality. She discussed her support for making sure women receive equal pay, fighting against businesses denying services to gay couples (e.g. refusals to bake a wedding cake), she even said how the systemic racism sweeping this nation disgusted her. I agree with every damn thing she said in her post, and meanwhile Kanye West is rocking a, "MAGA," hat and otherwise makes me feel immense embarrassment that I once supported him so unquestionably.
This is the picture that accompanies Swift's now-famous post.
Some of Swift's fans were mad about her post, as folk assumed she must be a Republican and for some bizarre reason a chunk of the alt-right on the web thought she was secretly a white supremacist for assorted crazy reasons.  Now, a whole bunch of young people registered to vote while there was still time and it looks like a lot of that can be attributed to Swift. Has the world come to the point where Taylor Swift turns into the shining beacon of hope for the Democratic party as an outspoken supporter who does what so many others have failed to do--get young people to actually go to the polls and vote? Seriously, when did our reality get to a point where I was nodding my head in agreement with Taylor Swift and burying my face in my hands with disgust at Kanye West?

We truly are living in a strange alternate universe. I never thought I'd say this, but thank you, Taylor Swift, I appreciate what you did to further democracy in America and fight injustice. While we're clearing the air, I will also admit my dirty secret that I do like the song, "Blank Space," by Swift. Imagine Dragons actually does a cool cover of it that meshes into, "Stand by Me," that you can find on Spotify, I think.

"In Winter," is a Beautiful and Twisted Tale

People know I enjoy comics from the mainstream to independent, USA-based to International, and I'm always on the lookout for something cool to read. Therefore, whenever I hear from the good folk at the publisher Rotopol about any art or comics they have coming out, I'm eager to learn more. I previously discussed my enjoyment of, "I Hate You, You Just Don't Know it Yet," and was excited to learn about their latest work which is currently out in Germany and being released in the United States (in English) this November. Titled, "In Winter," it is reminiscent of one of those old classic children's fables--with all the twisted darkness such a thing includes!

Written and illustrated by Rita Fürstenau, I have to immediately say that, "In Winter," is absolutely a gorgeous comic. Fürstenau has an art style that is a mixture of detailed and abstract, with her tale of a starving cat that meets a cruel hawk featuring impressive illustration that makes your jaw drop it is so amazing. The mixture of black, white, and gray gives everything a suitably somber tone as well. As I mentioned, the story opens with a starving cat asking a hawk for help, finding itself dismissed by the rude and prideful hawk, and sadly dying. However, death takes pity on the cat and brings it back as a beautiful owl--an owl so beautiful the hawk that once ignored the cat now finds itself obsessed with the owl. Needless to say, the hawk learns a brutal lesson, but as for if the owl finds some kind of happiness or peace, to know that you'll need to read the comic!

"In Winter," is as beautiful in its illustration as it is cleverly twisted in its story. It is the kind of fable that carries with it a wise lesson and I could spend hours admiring Rita Fürstenau's artwork. Should you want to order a copy for yourself to be shipped when the book has its official release in America during the Comic Arts Brooklyn Festival (in the aforementioned month of November) you can pre-order it here at this link. I enthusiastically rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and look forward to reading more work from Fürstenau and all the talented folk published by Rotopol!

Note: A digital review copy was provided in advance of the comic's release in America for the purposes of review.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

"Tha Carter V," is a Solid, if Over-Stuffed, Return to Form for Lil' Wayne

After taking what feels like forever since, "Tha Carter IV," due to assorted legal disputes over what label would have ownership of it, "Tha Carter V," has dropped and is a massive hit. While it goes a little long, with a run-time of nearly 90 minutes, there is enough great stuff that the album never feels bloated so much as super-sized. We get a mixture of introspective Wayne ("Took His Time") and hyper-Wayne ("Uproar,") with an assortment of guest artists assisting him at times too. For example on the catchy, "Dope Niggaz,") he teams with Snoop Dogg for a jam that has a sample of the classic, "Xxplosive," mixed in, and on, "Mona Lisa," We get some verses from Wayne telling a story about a woman helping him rob men through her seductive abilities before he himself is fooled, and then at the end Kendrick Lamar appears on the track and just launches it into outer-space with a mixture of suddenly-changing melodies, altering his own voice, and generally being his amazing Kendrick-self.

The album isn't perfect, with some tracks seeming just muddled ("Dark Side of the Moon,") or decent but a little low-energy for me as someone who prefers Wayne's manic-raps as opposed to when he slowly drawls ("Famous,"). Still, there is enough quality material on this album absolutely stuffed with tracks that the quality content is much more plentiful than the lacking aspects. "Tha Carter V," is a very enjoyable listen, and one I'd rate...
4 out of 5 stars.

The Juiciest News I Heard Today: James Gunn to work for DC/Warner Brothers

Once Upon a Time There Was a Joke Told
As everyone may recall, James Gunn has been the director of an assortment of films during his career, including the loaded-with-charm, "Guardians of the Galaxy," 1 and 2, AKA the only Marvel movies besides, "Black Panther," and the first, "Iron Man," to also clearly have a director's, "Voice," seep thoroughly into the movie besides the general Marvel-house-style. People may also recall that when people who were mad at Gunn for his speaking-out against Trump dug-up old Tweets made by Gunn telling crass jokes, Disney fired the man. For old--admittedly tasteless jokes--that Gunn himself said he realized a decade later weren't funny then or now.

Despite various efforts to have Disney reverse the decision via actions taken by fans, the cast of the movies, and maybe even Marvel executives, Disney stood firm, and Gunn was gone as Director even if they would utilize his script for the 3rd movie--which is now permanently on hold. It was a mess and the one slightly funny thing about it was hearing people joke how now this freed Gunn up to go work for Warner Brothers/DC at fixing their cinematic universe. Well...

It Ain't a Joke No More!
What at first seemed like simple gossip is now being reported on multiple news sites that James Gunn is in fact going to be writing a brand-new, "Suicide Squad," movie for DC. Not, "Suicide Squad 2," but basically his own thing being allowed to do whatever he wants because Warner Brothers obviously realized by reaching out to Gunn with a friendly invitation he'd sign with them and we'd have articles expressing surprise and glee...like mine, I suppose. Now, right now he's just writing the script, but dollars to doughnuts I bet DC is more than eager to have him hop in the director's chair. I mean, "Suicide Squad," is a movie about a rag-tag group of heroes and villains who go on zany adventures--is it me or does that sound a little bit like his other movies for Marvel he had massive success doing?

This is some of the juiciest news I've heard today and in some ways it is both utterly shocking, and in other ways I'm surprised it took DC this long to snatch-up Gunn once they had the chance. I'm just hopeful this means we'll actually get a good, "Suicide Squad," movie if nothing else. It's possible, right?

Television Tuesday: Just Wanted to Remind You, "Black Lightning," is Back!

I just wanted to remind everyone that, "Black Lightning," returns with season 2 today and based on how good season 1 was, I am very excited. It is a damn good show with its mixture of super-powers, politics, family drama, and stellar acting from the entire cast. Make sure to tune into the CW at 9PM Eastern, 8PM Central (or set your DVRs, whatever works), and fun will be had!