Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Considering Everything Our Government Could Focus On, It Worked to Ban TikTok?

We've got Ukraine and Russia in a war. Israel and Hamas are fighting as other nations hint at entering the conflict (such as Iran) to the point World War III seems possible. The rights of anyone with a Uterus are constantly being threatened with abortion being made illegal by politicians who want to ignore the will of the people who tell them to keep it legal. LGBTQ+ individuals are under constant legal and sometimes physical assaults. The Supreme Court is a joke. I could go on with what our Government could work on fixing, but instead, it seems to look at everything and go, "You know what? Let's try and ban a social media app!"

Facebook/Meta, YouTube/Google, and the rest all invade our privacy, but they're American companies so apparently that's okay. However, if a company has some Chinese-related ownership like TikTok, suddenly that's a problem. Elon Musk has American citizenship now so he can do whatever he likes with Twitter/X, but for some reason, we really care about privacy only when it comes to TikTok, according to our two-faced politicians--on both sides of the political aisle! Republicans who espouse a free market for some reason don't think that applies to TikTok and Democrats are looking for an easy win on something after looking like a joke these past number of years. Democrats are professionals at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, to alter a common saying. I mean, Joe Biden has been President and is going to run again against a man he handily beat who is currently in a criminal trial, yet Trump polls better? Us Liberals are not enthused with Democrats even if the alternative is fascism so we support them, but don't think I blindly love anyone with a, "D," next to their name in Congress either.

That puts us into the here-and-now where Congress has passed a law stating if TikTok's Chinese-related ownership doesn't sell to another company it could end up banned in America. Biden signed the law and I just shook my head at these out-of-touch politicians saying, "Seriously?" This is an easy win for Democrats to make Republicans look like old fogies who hate technology by taking a stand for younger voters (tons of folks who are 18 to mid-20s and even older people use TikTok, it isn't all kids) who could very well not care about any other issues but vote for Biden if he said, "Nah, Conservatives, TikTok is a-okay with me." Democrats love to screw up any chance they get to look good, though, so here we are. TikTok has about 9 months to make sure there is no Chinese-adjacent ownership or is banned. I'm all for privacy, but Zuckerberg gets to spy on us as much as he wants because he's an American, I guess. Hypocrisy and corruption reign, which in a way is the most American thing about all of this.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Dark Horse Comics to Somewhat Shift Ownership as Embracer Divides Into Three Different Companies

Back in 2021, Dark Horse Comics went from being relatively independently owned to finding itself acquired by a big corporation. Embracer bought Dark Horse and added it to a growing portfolio of tabletop and video-games. The idea was to have Dark Horse as an option for printing comics relating to various Embracer-owned properties and the company spent some time on a buying spree...until 2023 when another company was going to infuse Embracer with $2 billion and changed its mind. Since then, Embracer has been laying off a lot of folks and now plans to split into three companies. Dark Horse will impacted by this by joining one of the three oddly-named new entities.

Asmodee is one, "New," company and will focus on board games/tabletop games. Coffee Stain & Friends will be dedicated to making smaller-scale games (including free-to-play titles) for mobile devices and PC/consoles. Middle-earth Enterprises & Friends will be the owner of Dark Horse and will focus on big-time games involving properties such as The Lord of the Rings (hence the company's name) and Tomb Raider. How exactly this reorganization of a company into companies will affect Dark Horse is unclear, as Embracer was relatively hands-off with Dark Horse by most accounts--outside of founding, "Dark Horse Games," in 2021, although that did not yet produce anything to my knowledge. I just hope Dark Horse will be okay. I already worry plenty about IDW, after all.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Earth Day 2024

It's Earth Day, April 22nd. Started in the 70s by Senator Gaylord Nelson to bring awareness to air and water pollution, the holiday has expanded to cover climate change and more. The theme this year is, "Planet vs. Plastics," because--as we've most likely learned--plastics aren't that great for the environment. They're made from petroleum, take forever to decompose, and recycling efforts can only do so much. We only get one Earth (as far as we know) so let's treat it right and try to fix some of the damage we've done to our planet before it is too late. Ice is melting, storms are getting worse, and so forth, but efforts can be made to address our Earth and its concerns. We could've listened to Scientists and Al Gore decades ago but at least he doesn't say, "I told you so." Our planet clearly is in trouble, however. We should try to work together to help it.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Animals Aglow at the Zoo is a Beautiful Event

Yesterday evening/night my family went to the Animals Aglow event currently happening at the Saint Louis Zoo through May 5th. After the real-life animals get put away to sleep for the night a bunch of awesome displays get lit up and it was gorgeous. 

Clarkson had fun walking around and riding the zoo's carousel and Gibson enjoyed wheeling around in his stroller too. Various fictional and existing animals are represented at the event and it is worth seeing if you live in the region (or are visiting) and want to see some awesome lights. 

The zoo itself is free during regular hours but the event does cost money to attend as it is after the regular zoo hours. You can buy tickets online ahead of time and I would recommend doing so as the event hits its maximum capacity often--it had sold out the night we went!

As I mentioned, Animals Aglow runs until May 5th and is definitely worth checking out when you have an evening/night free. We all had a lot of fun there!

Friday, April 19, 2024

The First Day of the Big River Comic Convention 2024 Was Superb

I attended the opening of the fifth annual Big River Comic Convention when it kicked off today. This show has always been a blast and the start of the show this Friday was great fun. Taking place in Hannibal, Missouri, you can still attend as it runs through tomorrow and I'd recommend doing so if you're at all near the region of Northeast Missouri.

The BRCC always has fun guests, tons of vendors, crafters/creators, and is like one big and fun party. Upon arriving at the event I said hello to my good friend, Jack Thomas of Fortress Comics. He was excited to be back at BRCC and had a great setup of high-end and inexpensive books. He was kind enough to let me snap a photo:

I proceeded to talk with the cool folks from Comic Book Relief, a stellar shop located in Saint Charles, Missouri, who had set up at BRCC. Not too far from their booth was the superbly cool Bruce Reynolds. He had brought a wide assortment of snazzy older books and some newer ones. I always love chatting with Bruce and he had the same glowing feelings about BRCC that I do! I met the celebrity guests at the show, Emily Swallow, Jake (the Snake) Roberts, and had fun chatting with Scott Innes. You may not recognize Scott's face but you definitely have heard his voice as he currently is who you'd listen to if you watch any Scooby Doo cartoons. He's the voice of Scooby, Shaggy, and more! I loved his shirt he had on and he posed for a pic:

John Davis IV was there with his stellar books and near him was Geek to Me Radio, a really fun entity to listen to. My friends from Heroes for Kids of Perryville, Missouri, were present raising funds for charity as well. They have their own fun convention coming up in July! Not too far down the line, Destination Toys had some cool comics, toys, and other neat stuff and I enjoyed chatting with them. Artist Dave Mitzel had a ton of fantastic drawings for sale, but had recently sold out of any Moon Knight when I asked him! Then, I proceeded to browse the wares of Nathan's Nerdy Knick-Knacks and got a picture of his fun banner:

I talked with a number of crafters and artists at the Big River Comic Convention. Dip Sticks had a number of edible goodies and I ran into Laura of Orion's Dragon Gems who I enjoyed seeing at ToyMan on previous occasions! I also met Libra Arts and admired her works! Leisure Time Treasures had some incredible creations for sale too, and Bilbus Thiq was selling fantastic works at the show. Artist Anne Elizabeth had a ton of cool artwork and I was surprised to run into a friend of mine, Andie! She was set up at the show with, "Cartoons By Andie," offering custom artwork with the slogan, "Yes, I can draw anything!" I got a picture of her as the show was kicking off:

Before I left BRCC a little later in the day I did some shopping and bought a chunk of comics from G&K Collectibles. I also enjoy seeing him at every show as he brings cool stuff. I was especially pleased to get a fun issue of, "Johnny Quest," featuring cover artwork by the late, great David Stevens. Here is a picture of that exciting pickup:

The Big River Comic Convention is such great fun every year. I appreciate they let me come write about the event and would encourage anyone who can attend the show tomorrow to do so--then start planning on next year while you're at it!

Thursday, April 18, 2024

"Action Comics," #1 Hit Newsstands This Day in 1938

On this day 86 years ago, "Action Comics," #1 hit newsstands (comic-book stores didn't exist until the 1960s and 70s). Comic-books existed beforehand, but the debut appearance of Superman changed the World as know it. That isn't an exaggeration. Imagine if Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster hadn't created Superman, how we'd have a World without superheroes. April 18th, 1938 was a monumental day without a doubt, even if people back then didn't realize at that time just how much of an impact Superman would have. Oh, and for those wondering why the comic is dated for June, that is because the date on items at newsstands was generally when an issue should be taken down--two months from release. Anyway, thank you to Siegel & Shuster for Superman and all that has come since thanks to that first spark of superheroics!

I've Been Trying Zero Sugar Sodas, Eating Better, and Walking More in an Effort to Lose Some Weight

I am a fan of soda, but it is not a good choice for your health. Sodas with zero sugar are not perfect by any means and can have their own health concerns, but at least lack calories. I've attempted to simply not drink soda before, but have failed at that. Therefore, as I've been working at eating better, walking more, and losing some weight, I figured I would try zero-sugar sodas.

I don't like diet sodas, usually. They just taste wrong to me. That said, Diet Dr. Pepper and Dr. Pepper Zero Sugar tasted the least off so I started drinking them a bit. As I got used to those I shifted into trying Coke Zero and Cherry Coke Zero. Having gotten used to the Dr. Pepper versions I seemed to do okay with the Coca-Cola options. I've been drinking those when I can't fight the craving for some soda but generally do stick with seltzer. I also am trying (but need to try harder) to drink more straight-up water. Still, with my combination of eating a bit better, getting in motion more, and drinking less sugar-filled soda, I've dropped maybe 10 pounds. My weight can fluctuate but I hope to keep making choices that help me be a bit healthier.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Jontay Porter is the Tip of a New Iceberg When it Comes to Professional Sports, Gambling, and Ethics

Today is a sports-themed kind of day, I guess, considering I just wrote about a new sports card store earlier and now have this post! It's funny as I used to never write about sports but now I touch on that along with other popular culture. Now then, I have zero problem with sports gambling because if it can bring income to states, and isn't hurting anyone (problem gambling should obviously be addressed), then states should do it. That said, if sports leagues are going to partner with gambling sites/entities, have them advertise a bunch, pay for stuff, and otherwise be a huge part of sports, can anyone really feign surprise if some athletes take all that as a sign they can get involved in sports gambling to some degree? It was announced that Basketball player Jontay Porter was caught by the NBA illegally gambling on his performance to make money and working with bettors. He is going to be the tip of the iceberg in regards to some athletes trying to game the system to make extra funds.

Think about it. If you make gambling a huge part of the game, don't be stunned when those playing the game see a way to possibly get some scratch--ethically/legally or not. It's a new era of professional sports and gambling on a sport has mostly come out of the shadows, but plenty of metaphorical dark crevices for illicit activity remain. I don't know if there is enough light to stamp out everything questionable that could occur--although thanks to everything being legal various systems noticed the odd betting patterns regarding Porter, at least. Pete Rose's gambling on baseball was Earth-shattering news decades ago. Now, that's going to look positively quaint compared to the shitstorm I could see hitting pro sports in the coming years if athletes try to get in the game on their games. It isn't right, but I can predict it happening more and more. 

Porter isn't an isolated case, either, just the most brazen so far. Major League Baseball's new star player Shohei Ohtani has his own scandal by proxy. Ohtani's translator, Ippei Mizuhara, allegedly stole 16 million dollars from him and placed sports bets without his knowledge, but only so many players have a translator to blame (I'm not saying Ohtani did any illegal gambling, but if it ever came out he did, my lack of shock would be evident). We aren't even halfway through 2024 and already two sports have been rocked by gambling scandals. I'd bet--no pun intended--that there are going to be a lot more gambling fiascos before the year is done. I mean, don't forget that the Summer Olympics are this year, and plenty of legal sportsbooks are ready. I'm bracing myself for a mess with that, although I hope nothing sketchy occurs. Time will tell.

314 Sports Cards is a Stellar Place to Buy (What Else?) Sports Cards

I've gotten into hockey cards as of late (and sometimes I'll dabble in other entertainment cards as well for fun) and National Hockey Card Day was this last Saturday. I was unable to make it out to any stores on the day itself but had the chance today to visit one I'd heard good things about and had been meaning to visit, 314 Sports Cards.

Located at 9640 Olive Blvd in Saint Louis, MO (63132 area code), 314 Sports Cards is a fun shop! They've got all the fandoms represented that others know and love as well as the one I follow, hockey! Everyone there was extremely nice when I visited and I appreciated how they gave me some of the free cards for National Hockey Card Day that they still had leftover! You can buy hobby boxes of a variety of products and individual packs of some items too. There are notable single cards for sale as well. With, "Sports Cards," in their name it makes sense they have plenty to offer!

Matt (left) and Devin (right) posing with some of their awesome wares!

314 Sports Cards is a great spot to visit in the Saint Louis region whether you're an expert in the hobby or a relatively newer person like myself when it comes to sports cards. I'd recommend stopping by their shop or buying from them via their website; I know I'm excited to have another great sports card shop in the region to frequent!

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

DC Comics Allegedly to Launch an, "Absolute," Line of Comics With Scott Snyder at the Helm

Marvel and DC love creating lines of comics set in alternate universes. Whether it is Marvel's Ultimate line (which is now back and doing well in a new iteration), the New Universe, DC's Elseworlds or some of the Vertigo stuff (that's a little complicated), unique lines of comics often occur over the decades. It seems Marvel bringing back the aforementioned Ultimate line has piqued DC's interest as they aren't going to do a full reboot like in 2011 with the New 52, but are going to launch an, "Absolute," line which is not to be confused with their big hardcover Absolute collections. Bleeding Cool is a bit of a tabloid site with way too many ads (seriously, without an adblocker it is impossible to navigate) but it sometimes breaks big news and it seems Rich Johnston and company found somebody to leak them the juicy story about the Abstolue line.

These Absolute Comics will have a separate continuity and start DC over fresh in a new-reader-friendly manner. The rest of the DC Universe will continue doing its own thing so as not to enrage longtime readers and Scott Snyder--a skilled writer for sure--is spearheading much (if not all) of this new Absolute Comics line. The heroes in Absolute Comic will be heavily reworked versions of DC heroes and will share their own universe but be separate from the main DC one. It'll all be the same multiverse, apparently, so I imagine in 10 or so years these heroes might overlap with the main DC ones or such as eventually all the separate Universes end up interacting at some point or another. The line supposedly will kick off in late 2024 and early 2025, so now we just await the, "Official," announcement from DC since this big ol' leak.