Sunday, September 30, 2018

NYCC is This Week

New York Comic-Con kicks-off in earnest this Thursday, October 4th. It is on my list of shows I have not ever attended that I would love to some day (along with Planet Comic-Con in Kansas City, Toronto's Comic Arts Festival, and the Small Press Expo in Bethesda). I will be following all the news that occurs before, during, and after the convention, and those of us who are not at the show will obviously be able to purchase, "Shared exclusives," with the convention from various stores both online and at retail locations (so if you're after particular comics, Funko Pops, or other goodies, it'll be a busy weekend). I hope everyone attending the show has a spectacular time and everyone following-along at home hears one or two announcements that get them excited as well.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Gail Simon Wrote About Her Former Friendship With Ethan Van Sciver

I of course posted not too long ago how I was, "Done," with Ethan Van Sciver. I did not know him super-well, he was one of those comic-creators I would keep in occasional touch with but by no means were we friends.  However, it made me wonder, how do his current and former friends view him? Comicsbeat reported on how Gail Simone recently made a large Facebook post addressing a number of claims from EVS, where he insulted her repeatedly in one of this rambling videos for Comicsgate. She discusses how they were friends and something clearly happened that put him in a dark place. It seems while he was in that metaphorical place he changed, and now we have the Ethan Van Sciver of today, who just is hateful and terrible. It's an immensely sad post to read, chronicling how two formerly close friends drifted horribly apart. It is worth reading however, if only to see how classy Simone is in response to Sciver's spiteful bile.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Flashback Friday: Warren Ellis' Comic, "Dark Blue," and its Twisted Majesty

I am a huge fan of Warren Ellis, and have a soft-spot for the period of time he made comics for Avatar Press. They were comics that could vary immensely in quality, but always had some damn good ideas (and the best ones, like, "Doktor Sleepless," are among my favorite works of his). One story he did with artist Jacen Burrows was titled, "Dark Blue." It appeared in short installments within the now-gone Avatar Press anthology, "Threshold," which often featured an assortment of creative, violent, or outright pornographic short-strips (now Avatar Press uses imprint Boundless for all their racier works). "Dark Blue," was then collected in a trade paperback, which is how I first read it back in the early 2000's. It stuck with me all this time, so clearly it did something right.

"Dark Blue," follows police detective Frank Christchurch. He lives a city within a world that just doesn't feel right. Over time things have been getting worse, with the safety of the city falling into shambles, the police force having its morals or sense of right-and-wrong disintegrating, and Frank himself starting to feel like he has a looser and looser grip on reality. Meanwhile, a serial killer named Trent Wayman is racking-up a huge body-count and leaving behind scenes too gruesome to stomach, yet everyone seems content to leave him be. Something is wrong with the world...and that's because as is repeatedly hinted throughout the earlier parts and revealed in the final third of the book, the world isn't real.
Frank isn't a cop. He was a a CIA agent who suffered a mental breakdown on a traumatic assignment and to help him recover he was enrolled in an experimental program. The CIA knew of a drug that induced shared hallucinations among users, chemically altered it, and was able to create a, "Narcospace," where people put-under on the drug all live within the same imagined city. Hundreds of folk who for some reason need to be knocked-out and allowed to repair their minds (or doctors monitoring the city by using the drug too) are, "Living," in this space. Frank is told this when he wakes-up out of some months-long time in Nacrospace how he was simply a resident...like Trent Wayman. Yes, Trent Wayman was one of these people, but he was accidentally given too much of the drug before it was fully understood, he was administered LD50, the dosage at which 50% of the people given a drug die. He's still in there though, existing in the city as some sort of ghost that nobody can stop or even fully comprehend, making things worse through his madness everyday.

Frank demands to go back, on the LD50 dose that will allow him the same powers in the Narcrospace as Wayman, even if it means he'll die. Frank finally stops Wayman, and the fictional world he values is saved as he too appears to pass-away, but with no regrets. All this occurs in a relatively short story of about 72 pages, with Ellis clearly working a lot into a short span of time. We've got a brutal and dark police story about corruption, a psychological thriller of a man not sure if he's going crazy, and a wild sci-fi concept rooted in some fact (in the afterword to the story Ellis writes about the drug DMT which is known to elicit the same, "Trip," in many users). It's an odd mixture of genres, but because Ellis is a masterful writer he makes it all work. Plus, considering how talented Burrows is, you know the art is amazing and brutal at the same time. "Dark Blue," is for sure what one would call a, "Deep-cut," when it comes to Warren Ellis' many creations, but it is without a doubt a read worth seeking-out.

"Rex Royd," Flirts with Genius, but Marries Unrealized Potential

Back when I was wrapping up my senior year of college in 2010 and Mark Millar's work still had some promise and wasn't just empty pitches for movies and television shows, Millar created a comic-magazine titled, "CLiNT," which by the title alone with its cheeky usage of a lower-case letter, "i," so as to kinda-sorta look like the swear-word, "Cunt," tells you basically everything you ever need to know about Mark Millar's sense of humor. The magazine had an assortment of Millar's works as well as contributions from other creators, and one strip that caught my eye due to being just plain weird and interesting was, "Rex Royd." Written by controversial Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle (whose comedy work I'm unfamiliar with but from what I've read about him tends to be a mixture of political, raunchy, and offensive) and illustrated by then-newbie Mike Dowling, I found, "Rex Royd," strangely fascinating.

"Rex Royd," in a purposely-disjointed manner chronicled its titular super-villain as he fought against super-heroes, God, secret organizations, and basically was a bad-guy who inadvertently would sometimes do good, but still was quite a bastard. "CLiNT," collected it occasionally and the magazine ended-up cancelled due to dwindling readership and a failed re-launch before the strip could conclude. Thankfully though, the original publisher of, "CLiNT," Titan, has collected the previous chapters as well as two final ones illustrated by artist Budi Setiawan (whose style is a bit like Dowling but also enjoyable on its own). The full collection of, "Rex Royd," is quite the read, occasionally flirting with genius, but not quite reaching it. It is funny how in the introduction Boyle says he was inspired by Grant Morrison's amazing work, "The Filth," as this is probably the closet comic in comparison to that masterpiece when it comes to the odd way the story unfolds. Much as, "The Filth," has a wide array of ideas, tangents, and an otherworldly feel, "Rex Royd," does too. The thing is, "The Filth," eventually comes together with all its off-the-wall ideas and, "Rex Royd," is just far too messy to pull that off.
One genuinely sweet and sad moment I liked,
Royd dreams himself into another, happier dimension.
Boyle's idea with, "Rex Royd," is to make it seem like we are seeing bits and pieces of a sprawling epic, trying to make sense of the small excerpts we witness. It's a clever idea that works in its concept at first, but as more and more ideas are thrown-out and the book gets increasingly meta with Boyle himself appearing within the comic towards the end (more shades of Grant Morrison and what he did in, "Animal Man,"), it just gets confusing. You also really feel the style of Millar at times, with the book making some quite tasteless jokes--repeatedly--that it doesn't really need to do (clearly Boyle and Millar like to get tacky). Perhaps this comes from Boyle being a comedian known for his offensive humor, but repeated pointless jokes about HIV/AIDS  as well as, "spazzes/spastics (a relatively mild insult in America but a nasty slur for people with Cerebal Palsy among Europeans)," just kind of left a bad taste in my mouth at times.

The thing about it that makes some sense is that Rex Royd is in fact the bad guy, he would make these jokes. After all, he blows up a city with a nuclear bomb hoping to kill one person he believes is hiding there, he travels back in time and kills God because he wants to recruit the biblical Eve to work for him as an employee, and he enjoys murdering do-gooders--Royd is a terrible person who sometimes happens to do what's right, but he's still a monster. Boyle makes this clear, and it is the one thing that is clear, as the rest of the comic is a surreal mixture of concepts, jokes, and some really clever ideas that impressed me, but as I keep saying, fail to reach their full potential.
By the time Boyle appears as himself in the comic, things have gotten really confusing.
"The Filth," is one of my favorite stories ever--comic, prose, any form of literature. "Rex Royd," is by no means as amazing as, "The Filth," but clearly draws inspiration from it and achieves a lot of impressive moments even if the final product falls just short of genius. It still is a fascinating yarn to finally read in one complete form however, and even if Boyle shot for the moon and missed, he still landed amongst the stars, if I may use an old cliche saying. Putting aside when it is shocking-just-to-be-shocking or how at times it struggles under the sheer volume of ideas, it still is a damn fine read, and magnificently weird. It ain't perfect, but I'll still rate it a very complimentary...
4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"Rick and Mortry Presents: Sleepy Gary #1," False Memories and Sexual Fluidity Make for a Fun Read

I am of course a big fan of the, "Rick and Morty," television show. I also have at times dabbled in comics published by Oni Press related to the characters. When I heard there would be quarterly-comics spotlighting particular secondary characters I was intrigued to hear about, "Sleepy Gary," for a number of reasons, one being he introduces an interesting element of sexual fluidity to Jerry on the show, and the other being he technically doesn't really exist. You see, we met and saw the end of Sleepy Gary in the season 2 episode, "Total Rickall," where a mind-altering parasite invades the house and has the ability to pose as various people then convince others through false memories it is a longtime friend, relative, or lover. In that episode the Smith household was able to defeat the parasite as it rapidly reproduced itself through more and more false memories, but not before some interesting concepts were introduced.

Viewers of the show know that Jerry is of course Beth's husband--usually (they separated at the start of season 3 but reconciled at its end). He is the Farther of their two children, Summer & Morty, and hates how Beth's father, Rick, lives with them and otherwise belittles him. However, in the episode, "Total Rickall," the alien parasite was able to make the house believe that, "Sleepy Gary," was Beth's husband and the father of the kids, with Jerry simply being a family friend. It also however made Jerry think that at one point he and Gary began a secret relationship. This is interesting, as the show has never really discussed Jerry being at all bisexual, and resulted in some fan discussions of if Jerry was in fact also attracted to men, "tricked," by the alien, or what the case was. Most folk seem to agree the alien parasite preys upon what people most desire, and Jerry desires someone, anyone, to pay him attention and give him affection, with that person's sex being secondary. In other words, Jerry is sexually fluid.

The parasite never, "tricks," anyone else into finding someone attractive they otherwise would not be sexually interested in, so it is therefore quite likely that Jerry is indeed bisexual, pansexual, or simply sexually fluid in general, willing to fall in love with any person who is willing to give him attention, regardless of what kind of genitals they may have. Jerry is just simply is open to love. It's both sweet and ultimately tragic because Jerry is of course a loser who very few people--male or female--would consider worth dating. Hence, in this comic when Rick is attempting to figure out better ways to combat the parasite, he creates a version of a past kind they encountered--Sleepy Gary--and upon its breaking-out it realizes one thing that was a constant for it, loving Jerry (whether truthfully, or simply to assist in propagating itself is left open to interpretation), and it proceeds to find Jerry and convince him of the same.

Much of, "Sleepy Gary #1," is then spent with Rick and Morty working to track down Sleepy Gary once he escapes and proceeds to abduct Jerry, flees to Mars, and creates an elaborate bunch of false memories for he and Jerry as a happy and loving couple of an adopted alien baby on Mars. It is all fake of course, with Jerry angrily exclaiming how he and Gary should be allowed to spend their years in peace before Rick points out its actually been all of, "27 hours," since Gary escaped and kidnapped Jerry to Mars with their paper-thin facade of a happy life. The saddest thing is that this version of the parasite/Gary truly seems like it is trying to create a happy life, no matter how much of sham, with the little bits of false memories that the parasite itself seems to believe--it truly thinks it loves Jerry and may very well not understand it is simply a reproduction of a malevolent parasite that previously used Jerry as an end to its means of taking over the Universe. Sleepy Gary is himself a fictional construct that its own parasite wants so desperately to be real it builds its own false life that is little more than a metaphorical house of cards barely two days-old. It is both as clever as it is sad and hilarious.
Eventually Rick manages to kills the parasite, Jerry realizes just how much was faked again as in the, "Total Rickall," television episode and is quite mad at the parasite for tricking him into thinking they had a special romance--because again, Jerry is a loser desperately seeking love and affirmation. It is a really great comic for how it handles these ideas of sexual fluidity, false memories, and of course is an absolute riot as all the better, "Rick and Morty," shows and comics manage to be. Magdalene Visaggio is a stellar writer (I've read some of her work with Black Mask and enjoyed it) and I appreciate the skill with which she juggled so many concepts and ideas. CJ Cannon makes everything, "Look," like, "Rick and Morty," superbly as well, so a fantastic issue all-around I eagerly rate...
5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

My Thoughts on Telltale Games Shutting Down

When the news broke some days ago that the popular video-game studio, "Telltale Games," was abruptly shutting down, I was saddened. They made some damn good story-games whether it was the breakout hit of the first, "The Walking Dead," their take on, "Fables," an original, "Batman," story, "Tales from the Borderlands," or a variety of other words good and bad. Then I read how basically it was incompetence of the executives that resulted in the company hemorrhaging money, that employees were routinely mistreated, and that everyone was getting zero severance and had less than a month's worth of their health insurance before it expired as well. Upon seeing that, I was enraged.

People often don't think about how behind the creation of video-games we have none other than just that--people. Human beings work sometimes terrible hours in jobs with very little benefits or guarantees to give us an amazing and enjoyable product to play. Despite efforts to unionize the game industry it has been a constant struggle for the folk behind video-games to get much in the way of rights. This most recent fiasco only goes to show how much, "Job creators," actually care about the employees they trample upon in their efforts to maximize profits. It's a huge mess and I truly wish the best for all the employees affected (outside of the aforementioned awful execs who should be ashamed and are in fact now being sued). Hopefully this can spur further discussion on the rights of workers in all work-fields as well as the production of video-games.

Monday, September 24, 2018

"The Agency," By Katie Skelly is as Fun as it is Frisky!

I am of course a big fan of Katie Skelly, having said she was one of my favorite writer-artists of 2017 thanks to her works such as, "My Pretty Vampire." She has a new book out from the Fantagraphics' line, "Fantagraphics Underground," titled, "The Agency," and I loved it! "The Agency," collects a number of web-comics she did for Slutist (a sex-positive and feminism-focused cultural website) and self-published over a few years, all about various women with agent-number designations.

Skelly's writing as well as her artwork are both just amazing, with a mixture of subtlety and clever wit expressed through the dialogue, plotting, and gorgeous illustrations. "The Agency," has a heavy focus on the agent-women and their adventures in space, at the lairs of mysterious villains, or simply having a peppy photo-shoot. A lot of the stories result in sexual content, but it is never portrayed in a nasty or dirty way, instead given a fun and frisky element, often loaded with humorous content (a space-skeleton giving a massage to Agent 8 that turns decidedly raunchy is both erotic and hilarious).  Also, throughout each story an overall plot starts to emerge about mysterious individuals, cults, and other intriguing mysteries the book slowly unveils.
Katie Skelly's books are always such a delight to read. Her artistic talent and masterful storytelling are truly a marvel to witness, and "The Agency," is another example of her genius put to paper. I would without a doubt recommend acquiring a copy of, "The Agency," via Fantagraphics' website, or via asking your local comic shop to order you a copy. This is for sure a stupendous addition to my bookshelf!
5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

I Wasn't Able to Attend Toyman Today, but I Hope to Next Time!

Readers of my blog know I love going to one show that happens at various times during the year, the Toyman show. Put on by Chris, "Toyman," McQuillen, I always find awesome stuff there to buy or trade for. There was in fact a show today, but I sadly wasn't able to attend due to a variety of factors (family stuff, working-stuff, etc.) I have already marked the next show on November 4th in my calendar to make sure I don't miss it due to any schedule issues!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Film Friday: I Still Miss Tony Scott

The talented director Tony Scott killed himself via jumping off a bridge in 2012. It was later revealed by his family (such as older brother who also makes films, Ridley Scott) that he had been battling a cancer diagnosis that one must assume had become terminal. I was sad when Tony Scott passed and still miss him, because he made some damn good films. I mean, besides his classics like, "Top Gun," or, "True Romance," two of my favorite films by him were actually ones that got middling reviews or were outright hated by critics. Those are the moderate success, "Man on Fire," and the absolute flop-that-I-think-is-a-masterpiece, "Domino."

Tony Scott's filming-style was often one of quick-cuts, unique film-filters, and interesting little bits of music, imagery, and the like. When you were watching a movie by Tony Scott you knew you were watching a movie, because things would always happen that didn't so much pull you out of the experience as supplement it. When Denzel Washington tells someone in, "Man on Fire," they only have a certain amount of time before an explosion goes off that will kill them, we see the timer pop-up on the screen at certain moments, almost a briefly-lived character itself, jumping and dancing around the screen in a 4th-wall-breaking-style. The way, "Domino," seems to enjoy going off on tangents about different characters, show us scenes that it later turns out never happened, and otherwise make the flick itself as an unreliable narrator as main character Domino Harvey herself is astounding and disorienting--but in all the right ways. The only other director who I feel comes close to Scott might be Michael Mann, with his, "Collateral," or the film-version of, "Miami Vice," he did somewhat lining-up with the genius of Scott if not completely matching it. I'm also of course glad Mann is still alive too, but he's no Tony Scott.
Tony Scott was a master of set-pieces. He'd have little extreme moments occur all leading-up to astounding and over-the-top mayhem that almost could feel like too much, but those small bits of pushing-the-envelope would help you be prepared for something as insane as the non-stop gunfire and explosions in a Vegas Hotel that serve as the wild climax of, "Domino." "Man on Fire," is not quite as prone to random tangents or weirdness as, "Domino," which is probably why I enjoy it a great deal and love it, but absolutely adore, "Dominio," a bit more. "Domino," is sloppy, confusing, and just as soon as it scratches the surface of one idea (Domino and her team of bounty hunters agree to do a reality show with a producer played by Christopher Walken) it moves on to the next crazy bit.

There is an exuberance in so many of Scott's films, be they old classics like, "Top Gun," or the modern masterpiece, "Domino," that I feel many of today's filmmakers lack. For example, Christopher Nolan makes some of the best movies around, but when I watch, "Inception," I don't get much of a vibe that he's having fun, whereas with Scott's works I can practically hear him in my ear going, "Hey, isn't this cool?" Tony Scott's life sadly ended in 2012, but he left behind some damn good movies (and T.V.) work for us to remember him by. I still miss him though.

I Called Numerous Comic-Book Shops Today and Asked About Batman's Penis

I called many comic-book shops today and asked them about Batman's penis. No, I did not do this as part of a prank, or to get a raunchy thrill. I did this because the first issue of, "Batman: Damned," was released Wednesday and has, ever-so-slightly illustrated, the penis of Bruce Wayne (in a few of the comic's panels). "Batman: Damned," is part of a new line I've talked about before, DC's alternate-reality, "Black Label," books that are geared toward grown-up readers who can handle unedited swear words and apparently witnessing Batman's penis. It's kind of like Marvel Max and Elseworlds combined, I guess. Anyways, the book is out, seems to be pretty good, and in the print version lets us observe what kind of weaponry Batman is packing below his utility-belt, if just barely. The book also is really hot for a couple reasons.

Apparently the digital version of, "Batman: Damned," hides Bruce Wayne's member in further shadows than it already is drawn in, and all future printings in both single-issue form or trade paperback will have the genitals obscured this way. This is kind of silly considering how often comics have barely-clothed or completely-undressed female characters, but I guess it is up to DC to portray Batman as naked or dressed-up as they desire. Therefore, if you really want even a glimpse of Batman's penis you need to hurry to a comic-shop as the book is now selling-out and going for well above cover-price on eBay. I wanted to acquire a copy of the comic, so I had to call a variety of comic-shops and ask if they had, "The new Batman comic where we see his penis," because simply stating the title alone didn't help considering how many countless Batman series there are (but if I specified I was after that book, stores knew right away what I was talking about). Finally I found a shop that had some books left and look forward to picking up an issue in the near future when I'm able to run to the store--they were kind enough to hold onto a copy for me. 
To their credit, the shops were all very tickled about how popular the book has become and some would even joke about how, "We've seen Batman's dick for years," in reference to his longtime sidekick, Dick Grayson, which is kind of a funny joke the first time you hear it but gets old the 5th time you listen to it or read it. I'm just pleased I get to own this notable comic, the first time we see Batman's penis (outside of non-DC-authorized works such as fan-art and porn-parodies), and I'll proudly display it with my other special books. Yes, between my first-print copy of the death of Captain America and the first solo Moon Knight story in, "Marvel Spotlight," will be, "Batman: Damned," #1, the first (official) comic-appearance of the Bat-wang!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Disney Might Have Streamable Shows of Marvel-Movie Characters. I Know One Show We Absolutely Need...

If you follow pop-culture news much you probably are aware that Disney is planning some kind of streaming service they want to launch in the near future to compete with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and all the smaller-name ones. In one effort to draw subscribers they might make short mini-series featuring characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe doing in-continuity-to-the-film shows. Now, the, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," show and the Netflix shows with the, "Defenders," characters kinda-sorta take place in the same Universe as the movies, but we all know fully well that even if those shows draw from the flicks, the opposite ain't true. Actual ingrained-in-the-MCU continuity shows might really appeal to folk, especially if the rumors of ones starring Tom Hiddleston's Loki or Elizabeth Olson's Scarlet Witch come true. The thing is, I know one MCU character who barely gets respect and has the perfect story to base his show on. Yes, I'm talking about Hawkeye!

Jeremy Renner is kind of like Hawkeye. He does a lot of thankless work, whether it is failing to start a spin-off of the, "Bourne," franchise, failing to match-up well with Tom Cruise's character in the, "Mission Impossible," series, or playing everyone's least-favorite Avenger, Hawkeye. Renner/Hawkeye had basically a weak cameo in, "Thor," was brainwashed for much of, "Avengers," and finally got an ounce of respect in, "Age of Ultron," but then mostly went back to being forgotten again. Not too long ago Matt Fraction had a stellar comic series about Hawkeye (that in many issues featured illustrations by the stellar David Aja). It had him living in a building complex threatened by gangsters, hanging out with a dog who loved pizza, and was quirky, action-packed, and highly enjoyable. A MCU-series starring Renner as Hakweye would be perfect for this. It wouldn't need too big of a budget, could have the trademark humor of the MCU, and would actually give Renner/Hawkeye something to do in the MCU.
Depending on how much of a role (if any) Hawkeye will play in, "Avengers 4/whatever it ends up being titled," I would love to see this classic comic story adapted to a a short streamable series. Tweaks from the source material could be made, like having Hawkeye's family move-out from the countryside to NYC (as opposed to how he lacks the same thing in the comics) and his protege Kate Bishop could be introduced or not utilized as warranted by the script. Still, just drawing even a little bit from Matt Fraction's masterful run on, "Hawkeye," would be better than how the character has basically been treated ever since the inception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Breaking The Story: Sex-Work Thrives on Letgo of All Places

Welcome to my new occasional segment I've titled, "Breaking the Story." It is where I make a post discussing a subject I have noticed/become aware of but found little-to-no coverage of in the news/in social media, etc. Today, we cover how sex-work seems to be thriving on the app, "Letgo."

I am surprised I have not seen more news about something, so I wanted to discuss it. Namely, there is a ton of sex-work going on via, "Letgo." I first noticed this when I was traveling with my wife to my cousin's wedding some weeks ago because whenever we stopped in cities I would check, "Letgo," for fun to see if anybody was selling comics, Funko Pops, etc. nearby. I didn't plan to buy any, but I enjoy seeing what's popular in various places. It was at this time I noticed on Letgo how with its recent-ish addition of, "Services," that I saw a listing for, "Cleaning," that pictured a woman posing somewhat suggestively--e.g. fully clothed but making a duck-face and with a low-cut top that prominently featured her, "Mammary glands," as they are medically known. I thought it kind of funny. Then it made me think, "There might be a story here."
Let's rewind to earlier this year when Craigslist got rid of its longtime, "Personals" feature that had allowed many adults to meet each other for adult encounters (AKA genital-stuff). It also was often used to facilitate sex-work. This led to how a lot of sex-trafficking was happening through the website, which is of course terrible. However, there were people who were breaking the law engaging in sex-work, but of their own volition--e.g. a person selling their company on their own. Now, the idea of sex-work is rife with lots of moral, political, and religious objections, with it only legalized in a very few areas of the United States (like a chunk of Nevada). Still, despite it being illegal many people worked to make a living through being an escort/doing sex-work. Once Craigslist shut that down, it affected a good deal of these people. Where would they go? Various websites and apps, with Letgo apparently being one.

Upon my realizing something interesting was happening here, I made new account with Letgo besides my actual one to do some research and started changing my location to cities and areas all over the United States where I found plenty of women (I only ever found women, no men advertising the same with suggestive poses) offering services ranging from, "Cleaning," to, "Data Entry," to other random tasks, but instead of the pictures featuring them actually doing these things, it was just images of them in makeup and slightly-revealing clothing. Nothing raunchy enough to immediately make you think anything was up...but something clearly was up. "Perhaps this is all a big misunderstanding," I thought, "It's possible they just posted a random selfie and truly want to clean stuff." Then I put-on my techie-hat and proceeded to look various people up through other social media and websites who were on Letgo.
Plenty of, "Cleaning services," sported a logo like this one,
but some had interesting pictures...
Some were indeed cleaners and maybe just wanted to look nice for their pic, some even had a website. One woman who advertised how she could do, "Roof Maintenance" of all things actually did have a lot of pics besides her, "Selfie," featuring her in full safety-gear swinging a sledgehammer in assorted attics. However, then I found people who advertised cleaning but also had Facebook profiles or websites that showed they engaged in adult modeling, stripping, or massage-services that didn't seem like the officially licensed kind. Now, I imagine someone who strips during the night might very well have a cleaning service during the day, but if that's the case it is interesting they use an image that shows off their bodily, "Assets."

I have not shown any pictures of these listings or said names of the women in various locations as I don't want to draw unwanted attention or harassment to towards them. I have not moral objection to if consenting adults want to have sex, are safe, and it is their own business if they want provide funds for it. I do just worry about the safety of these people forced to operate under synonyms and using coded-language on apps so as to avoid getting arrested. These women have no clue what they are in store for when they go to, "Clean," someone's house and that can put them in great danger. It's no coincidence that the way the U.S. criminalizes sex-work makes any attacked sex-workers afraid to report their assault. In countries that have legalized individuals performing sex-work (but still of course work to prevent trafficking or abuse) the statistics of sex-workers being assaulted or killed have dropped dramatically. Meanwhile, outside of some select regions in the United States people have to sell, "Cleaning services," if they want to engage in sex-work.
A protest sign in favor of sex-work that differentiates it from trafficking.
Considering how much the media loves saucy stories about sex and sex-work I am genuinely shocked to find basically nobody has written about this. I mean, "App created to unload junk also used for selling sex," is an attention-grabbing headline for sure. Now, Letgo obviously wouldn't allow anyone to engage in sex-work on the app, and all of these women can claim they truly were just offering cleaning-services, light yard-work, and so forth if ever confronted by Letgo about it. Still, for those who are engaging in sex-work willingly with nobody forcing them to do so I offer no judgement, just concern for safety. To summarize all this though, who would've thought an app we use to try and find or sell used televisions or such for cheap would also be full of sex-workers?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Rant-Reviews: #1 Issue Fun!

More First Issues!
I enjoy when I discuss comics that have been running for awhile, but I know readers like my discussion of #1 issues as it helps them know if a book is worth jumping-on at the start. We of course know you can't always judge a book by its first issue (or a show by its pilot, etc.), but it gives us a solid foundation to at least know what we're getting into. With that in mind, let's review some debut issues of comics!

Starting at the Beginning (Obviously)
Cemetery Beach #1
A new series from writer Warren Ellis and artist Jason Howard, who have worked together on, "Trees," for publisher Image as well (they claim more issues of that will eventually come-out) and if that is a mostly slow-moving and plot-filled series, this is like the polar opposite of that. We open with some exposition via a man captured in a strange prison we are told is on a planet discovered in the 1920's when rich folk discovered a way to colonize other worlds. We get that sprinkling of story that he's here to report on it for the original Earth and then he escapes--the rest of the issue is basically balls-to-the-wall action full of gunfire, explosions, and the like. It's a solid first issue but I actually wouldn't have minded more story-content before everything turned to blood-and-bullets. Ellis and Howard make a solid team however and I imagine as future issues are released more will be explained. As it is now, not a bad start.
3 out of 5 stars.

Border Town #1
One of the first books to come out from the reborn/rebooted Vertigo line at DC, "Border Town," has some amazing art by Ramon Villalobos and some solid--if at times slightly clunky--writing from Eric Squivel. It is about a young teen forced to move to Arizona and has to deal with ignorance and the emergence of supernatural forces in the area. Squivel sets-up a fascinating story but sometimes the characters seem to talk in ways that just don't sound natural. Someone will start-up with a weird monologue that sounds more like an essay than speech (making a good point, but still just sounding weird), or just odd little things like that. Still, Villalobos' art always is just stupendous and the majority of the comic is highly enjoyable. It's well worth a read and hopefully a good sign of what's to come from the newly-revitalized Vertigo line.
4 out of 5 stars.

Rags #1
A new book from Antarctic Press, I was sadly really underwhelmed by it. Solicitations made it sound as if the book would be a mixture of saucy artwork and zombies, but while there is some of that, the book is just sunk by how horribly unlikable all the characters are and the lack of much of any plot. Our protagonist, Rags (a nickname) is mean, cruel, and unpleasant. Some survivors she runs into are almost all awful, a flashback of how Rags lost a fiance who also was a jerk feels like it  could've kicked-off the book instead of for some reason being at the end of the issue. Also, the general story is just a bland, "Zombies have ruined everything and we need to fight to survive," that has been done countless times over and either needs some really good scripting to work or else it'll seem dull and fall flat--this ain't no, "The Walking Dead." It's a shame as the art is solid and the colorist uses an interesting mixture of black-and-white with hints of color to give everything a neat appearance. Besides looking decent however this was a pretty unpleasant experience of a book to read.
2 out of 5 stars.

Plush #1
Another book from Antarctic Press, but this one I liked a lot more. Written and illustrated by Holly Daughtrey, it is a sweet little comic about a crafter of plush dolls named Carrie who makes a living creating cute plush figures but is pretty depressed a lonely. Through an undetermined magic one of her plush dolls comes to life and it makes her happy--after she is naturally suspicious at first. The comic is drawn in a cute manga-style and has a pleasant feel-good story to it that I enjoyed reading. I'm curious to see how Carrie will handle keeping her unique new, "Pet," a secret and will eagerly pick-up the next issue!
4 out of 5 stars.

Poser #1
Waxwork Records is a company dedicated usually more-so to records (hence the name) and music-related items, but they've been putting-out some comics now that generally (understandably) have music as a a big element to the stories. That trend continues with, "Poser," a horror yarn about a brutal murderer from the 1980's known as, "Poser," who has become an urban legend of sorts. After a prologue set in the past introducing us to the story, we jump to the present to see some 20-somethings dealing with the usual drama of life before it becomes apparent that the, "Poser," may very well have returned to kill and terrify everyone. It's a sufficiently brutal and scary horror comic that more than accomplishes its goal of being both reminiscent of 1980's horror movies (the Poser has a look straight-out of that era of monster-flicks) while adding-on a modern element with the politics and technology of today. It was some great stuff and any fans of horror as well as the musical arts are sure to enjoy it.
4 out of 5 stars.

Crowded #1
Another Image title, this is a comic with a killer concept but which seems a little unsure what exactly to do with it. Its the near-future and basically everything is crowdsourced or sold as a service now--not too far from the kind of world we are living today. People use apps to hitch rides, rent their car out, walk dogs, buy an hour of someone's time just to hang-out (not for anything raunchy), get a tutor, be a bodyguard, and take out a hit on someone--yes, you read that last one right. That is what brings us to the point of our story, as a young woman named Carried suddenly finds a lot of people have contributed to fund to have her assassinated. This results in her seeking-out a bodyguard  named Viv who needs to protect her for a month before the app has the contract on her life expire. It's a dark concept presented in a humorous manner but a twist at the end of the issue was a little predictable for me--Carrie put out the hit on herself in the app to see who would pledge funds they'd contribute if she got killed, that way she knows who she can't trust anymore in life.

The thing that makes this twist just barely work for me is that Carrie seems surprised just how many people hate her. The entire apartment complex she lives in, every single so-called friend, random folk she's aggravated. The extra twist-to-the-twist is kind of fun though, and the bodyguard character Viv seems to have a lot of interesting aspects to her even if Carrie just seems kind of evil. It's a decent plot to accompany a very clever idea for a world like ours but a little bit more, "Wrong." I'm intrigued enough to at least give the second issue a look-over.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Last in Firsts
There you go, an assortment of new first issues that ranged in quality from impressive to underwhelming. I hope I inspired you to try a new comic-series or two out because after all, if only the first issue of a book is out you can easily start reading it!

Monday, September 17, 2018

The First Teaser Image for the Standalone "Joker," Movie with Joaquin Phoenix is Out. I Have Opinions

Alright, so DC's cinematic Universe is currently a mess right now--"Wonder Woman" aside. DC had previously said they would have movies starring characters that didn't necessarily relate to the main movie-verse, but were instead standalone flicks. One of those was a supposed origin story for the Joker. The main gimmick of the Joker of course is that he doesn't necessarily have an origin story. He has many origins. Maybe he was a struggling stand-up comedian who just had one really bad day that drove him insane. Perhaps he was a gangster who used a, "Red Hood," identity until he was disfigured and became the Joker. He could be a man whose wife was murdered by mobsters. Heck, maybe his name was even, "Jack Napier." We don't know because he is as unreliable a narrator as any, with whatever yarn he turns to explain his background being just as likely a falsehood as true--something Heath Ledger used to clever effect with his, "Do you want to know how I got these scars?" monologues in, "The Dark Knight." This all makes me hesitant to see a, "Joker," film or whatever title it gets. Then this picture of Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck AKA a pre-Joker version of the Joker comes out on the Instagram of the film's director , Todd Phillips, and I have both reservations and maybe this weird feeling that I believe is a glimmer of hope?

Just look at that picture up there. Phoenix is giving us the look of someone who seems relatively calm, but clearly has some rage bubbling away deep inside. With a quick glance the image is mostly unassuming, but look at the eyes and mouth. There is something in there, something dark and twisted just waiting to get out, and Phoenix is a gifted enough actor he just may be able to pull this off. Still, there is the problem of how the Joker isn't supposed to have just one origin. Perhaps the movie can make this work and we'll see a story that is purposely littered with contradictions, logical missteps, and the like, hinting that whatever tale we're seeing maybe is being told by someone who can't be trusted--the movie could even open with Phoenix-as-Joker saying he's going to tell us his story, and then be almost like an anthology with a few short vignettes all differing in how Arthur Fleck becomes the Joker, but that seems almost too easy a way to do the movie.
Many people consider, "The Killing Joke," a definitive origin story,
but even DC has said it isn't necessarily the cannon background of the Joker. 

"Joker," has a lot stacked against it, but also by being fee of the Cinematic Universe baggage that allows Todd Phillips to go in all kinds of zany and weird directions that are perfectly suited for an actor like Phoenix, who will readily admit to being zany and weird himself. This movie could be an absolute abomination or turn-out to be amazing. I'm ready for it to suck, but still have that tiny bit of hope in me that not even the greater number of crappy-than-good DC films can snuff-out. I am wondering who will be playing Batman if the character gets an appearance though.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

That Upcoming, "The Vision," Comic is Suddenly Cancelled and I'm Quite Perturbed

Chelsea Cain is a writer who was behind one of my favorite comics that was sadly cancelled back in 2016, "Mockingbird." It had been announced she would be writing a new comic with Marc Mohan focused on The Vision and his daughter, Viv. It was announced as a sequel of sorts to the stellar Tom King-written, "The Vision," with the exact same name as that series--e.g. just the titular character's name. It was to have some stellar-looking art by Aud Koch, and the original colorist for the first series, Jordie Bellaire, would be back too. I was very, very excited. Then, I saw on of all possible places, Bleedingcool, how Cain tweeted the book was suddenly axed. Four of the six issues were already done and turned-in to Marvel, and the company just decided it had other plans for The Vision as well as Viv and there went, "The Vision," comic. Other news outlets have reported on this now, expressing just as much confusion and sadness as everyone else.

I'm not pleased, in fact I'm quite perturbed. Marvel hired this talented bunch of people, let them get 2/3 done with the series, and then decided, "Nah, we have other plans for these characters," and shoved the completed issues in a metaphorical drawer to possibly never be seen again (its a metaphorical drawer as I imagine much of the stuff is digital, as a lot of comic-work is these days). I mean, everyone got paid so Marvel isn't necessarily screwing-over anyone besides us readers who were excited to read the series, but come on ya'all, maybe just let the team finish the series and release it as some kind of extended, "What-if," book should you really want to take the characters in a different direction? That way we can at least all read the damn thing! Oh well, at least I can look forward to Cain's upcoming Image series, "Man-Eaters," which actually has the art done by her, "Mockingbird," collaborator, Kate Niemczyk.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Film Friday: "The Predator"

First off, be warned I spoil much of the movie. That said, have you ever seen a film that has an assortment of cool little moments but the overall product just doesn't quite jell together? Yeah, that's the newest entry in Predator-related films, this one simply titled, "The Predator." It has lots of loud and dumb fun bits, but once it is done the more you try to sit-back and examine the overall plot the more it just doesn't make sense. We get cool scenes of fighting but the movie seems to rush around so much and introduce ideas that it never follows-up on that besides some good action and funny jokes we have a mess of a plot. To illustrate this I'll rattle off stuff that comes right to my mind without even much effort.

Here are some plot issues I can list without even considering it much: There is a Predator that came to Earth to help us fight the Predators, in theory, but it just kills a bunch of humans even though it brought us a gift we have revealed at the end. The U.S. Government's secret program recruits a doctor (played by Olivia Munn) to help with their program, reveals a lot to her, then wants to kill her once a captured Predator escapes for no clear reason she needs to die instead of helping track it down. Why is Sterling K. Brown's character so evil and what point does the secret, "Stargazer," program serve? How does a little kid solve the mystery of the Predator technology that no one else has--and why is his autism/being on the spectrum considered an, "Evolution," that makes a Predator want to kidnap him--is he a savant too or is his just being autistic appealing to Predators for some reason? What was the point of the whole sub-plot about Predators stealing DNA from around the galaxy to make themselves bigger and more dangerous as the movie mentions but then kinda skims right past that, saying it also is for adapting to a hot Earth once humanity wipes itself out with global warming--a point expressed with a metaphor about when Hostess went out of business and Twinkies could not be bought for a bit (yes, really)? The whole story is a mess, and hearing the last-third of the movie had to be reshot just makes me wonder how even worse it must have been.
As that big chunk of writing illustrates, this movie makes little sense. I still liked it though, because the parts with fighting, jokes, and explosions were fun. I just feel like for a movie that is almost 2 hours long it really rushes through a bunch and could have greatly expanded a bunch of scenes while also cutting a whole Hell of a lot of stuff to be a ton better. This review from Vox summarizes how the haphazard editing is probably the biggest thing to blame, also mentioning how the movie has a big cloud over it with the controversy of director Shane Black hiring a friend who is a convicted sex offender for a role, without telling anyone about his offender-status. That was a stupid move, and the press from all now threatens to overshadow anything positive or negative about, "The Predator," which despite my issues with the actual plot, has a chunk of stuff to recommend.

The chemistry of the cast (besides the emotionless lead character played by Boyd Holbrook) is stellar when they are all just hanging-out making quips or debating how, "The Predator," should really be called, "The Hunter." Lots of the jokes do land and gave me a chuckle here-and-there, plus some awesome special effects and big ol' explosions are always appreciated. Still though, the last third is a slog, the ending is an utter mess that wants to set-up a sequel with its, "Predator Killer," suit, and the editing is more messy than one can believe--and the whole, "Autistic people are the next step in evolution," is just a weird concept that if anything makes autism seem more, "Weird," than how it is simply something many people have and function perfectly fine with--not a gift or a curse.
"The Predator," is a huge mess, but an enjoyable one. It truly feels like a mixture of fun vignettes that someone tried to staple together into a cohesive movie--and horribly failed at attempting. There is enough in the movie to recommend to fans of Predator flicks or folk who enjoy big & dumb action movies, but I can't help feeling this could have a been a lot better. As it is though, I liked, "The Predator," even if it clearly could have been so much more than the flimsy sum of its parts. At least it is better than, "Predators," but that's not exactly a big challenge.
3 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Heroes Never Die...but Their Contract Can End AKA Shake-Up with DC Movies

I'm going to start this post with a digression--and yes, I know starting any article or story in that fashion is a great way to lose readers, but I'm feeling frisky today so let's do this. Anyways, in the video-game, "Overwatch," there is a healer character named, "Mercy." I haven't played the game in forever and understand they changed it, but she used to have an, "Ultimate," ability that would resurrect all recently-deceased teammates within a certain radius. This was an incredibly useful power to have and could turn the tide of a losing battle. Upon using this power, the character would automatically often exclaim, "Heroes never die!"

The statement, "Heroes never die," has a lot of truth to it. After all, so many of our comic-book superheroes have died but come back, or even if their books are cancelled they live-on forever in our memories. The problem with putting super-heroes to film however is that the human actors who can portray them are flesh-and-blood and things can go horribly wrong. Heroes never die, but their contract can end, in other words.
Cavill's been wearing a lip-warmer AKA moustache lately.
Now we are at the main point of my article, third paragraph in, and if you're still here with me I thank you. Anyways, Henry Cavill is (most likely) done being Superman in the DC-related movies and Ben Affleck seems to be 100% done as Batman if a variety of reports that emerged yesterday are to be believed. The Cavill news seems more confirmed and the Affleck news has less solid proof, but considering how much trouble has plagued that, "The Batman," movie Affleck was supposed to direct and star in, then just star in, and now is possibly not in at all...I expect an official press release from DC/Warner Brothers, "Wishing him well with other endeavors," pretty soon. Yeah, I'd bet good money, "Justice League," was the last we'll see of those two guys as these heroes.

Weird Instagram videos from Cavill aside that raise more questions than answers, this all seems pretty clear-cut. DC and Warner Brothers need to basically reset or ignore this, "DC Cinematic Universe," and focus on either starting-over a lot of it while keeping the few elements that work (hey there, "Wonder Woman,") or just drop this whole, "Universe," idea and make individual movies about the characters that maybe kinda-sorta relate to each other but could also just be their own thing. Right now the only cinematic universes with any success are Marvel's and weirdly enough anything loosely related to, "The Conjuring," which I didn't even realize had a so-called universe till someone told me that new movie about an evil nun related to the other flicks with ghosts and murderous dolls--go figure, I guess?
The upcoming movie with Wonder Woman is the only one that seems to be, "Sure thing," right now.
Warner Brothers and DC don't need to save this extended universe, as some offered opinions about doing (although the idea of a Michael B. Jordan-portrayed Superman does get me all tingly). They just need to focus on making movies people actually want to see and which aren't plagued by tonal issues, poorly-hidden infighting among the production staff, or otherwise dull. In other words, just hire Patty Jenkins after she finishes, "Wonder Woman 1984," to at least have a hand-in all of your DC films as a producer or line-vision-organizer if you insist on having a cinematic universe of some sort. Right now everything seems to be in shambles besides some positive buzz for the upcoming, "Aquaman," flick and how, "Shazam," looks to at least be good fun. Anything after those and the newest Wonder Woman-starring film however seems to be one big question mark like the kind The Riddler is so fond of--and if Affleck is truly done as Batman we won't be seeing him solve that anytime soon...God, that was a weak way to end this article, I'm sorry. I start with a digression and end with a cheesy allusion to the comics, I really am lucky to have any readers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Nicki Minaj and Cardi B Are Feuding and I'm Just Saddened by the Whole Thing

I have a question: Why can't we have two super-successful women in rap without some kind of feud or fight erupting? Male rappers of course will at times have, "Beef," and it can end very tragically or seem really, really stupid. Often male rappers will get along just fine however, being friends and collaborating a bunch. Yet, it seems like there can only ever be one big-time female rapper and if any others emerge people act like we need a fight to the death (of a career at least) to determine who is, "Better." I mean, for so long we had the reign of Lil' Kim as the big-name, "Bad Bitch," before Nicki Minaj came along and stole that crown. Then, Cardi B--who had been underground and struggling for a long time--was able to break-out onto the mainstream scene, and ever since then there has been an effort to construe her and Nicki as foes. Well, I guess folk got what they wanted.

Apparently at a big New York City Fashion Event there was allegedly a comment made by Nicki Minaj to Cardi B about how good or bad of a mother Cardi is. This resulted in a shoe apparently being thrown and Cardi rushing at Nicki in the hopes of--as the kids today say--"Fucking her up." Both women had their security intervene however and Cardi B was rushed-out by her team. Reading the whole sad saga about how we got here is whatever the opposite of, "Fun," would be, and I'm just depressed about all this. The whole thing seems to be a mixture of other folk trying to turn these women against each other, the ladies themselves feeling their success is threatened by another talent, and of course a good dose of everyone's ego making them eager to say, "Come at me," to anyone who questions their skill/success.
My thoughts on Nicki Minaj's music.
I'm not really a fan of either woman, I always say Lil' Kim did so much of this first and did it better. That said, I don't like any songs by Nicki and find when I've read articles about her or seen shows/interviews she's done she seems relatively unpleasant while meanwhile Cardi B has at least one song I enjoy and appears to be one of the most energetic, funny, and peppy people around. That said, it shouldn't matter if I like one of these women more than the other, they should both be able to have success and enjoy stardom without having to feud and fight. They are mad at each other though, so expect plenty of press about that and in the ultimate twist this will probably only help both of them to get more sales/streams, promotional deals, and the like.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Television Tuesday: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia is Back and Hilarious as Usual

The gang is all here...mostly.
Last Wednesday was the season 13 premiere of, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." I loved it, and have seen some positive reviews too. Since the seeming departure of Dennis at the end of last season the gang has found a new member, Cindy. Gamely played by Mindy Kaling, the gang remarks how she is a lot like Dennis, but not as much of a jerk--"She's just the right amount of asshole." Cindy also is much smarter and more capable than the gang normally is, having some legitimately clever plans to take-down those who stand in the way of the gangs never-ending desire to make money easily/"Get rich quick," and be liked. The episode has just the right mixture of awareness about how long the show has been going (but unlike some shows that get meta, maintains being funny whilst doing so) and seems to introduce a bunch of new elements (with Dennis still sort-of present in the form of a creepy sex doll Mac bought online that resembles the gang's departed member), before at the episode's end (spoiler) Dennis in fact returns, asking everyone not make a big deal of it.

At the moment Dennis wants back in, Nancy points out if they welcome Dennis' return they will continue to be stuck in their rut of misery...and the gang chooses that, because as 12 previous seasons have show us, these people are weirdly stuck with each other. It may be for the best, as those rare occasions the gang has separated itself out we have seen just how much trouble they are capable of causing without each other to hold themselves back (or that bittersweet episode when it seemed like Charlie and Dee could maybe be a couple if it weren't for how the gang is). The season 13 premiere is hilarious, insightful, and shows that even if a program has been going for a long time it still can manage to be the right mixture of fresh as well as clever in acknowledging the past. I'll be tuning in every Wednesday at 10PM Eastern/9PM Central on FXX for sure (or watching an episode on DVR when able, you know how life gets).
5 out of 5 stars (for the first episode of season 13).

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Super Museum in Metropolis Was Delightful!

Clarkson, Samii, and myself!
On our way back from my cousin's wedding in Huntsville, Alabama, we drove through Metropolis, Illinois. Home to, "The Super Museum," we knew we wanted to stop and check it out. There is a massive gift shop packed with Superman-related items and a museum that has the most Superman memorabilia of anywhere in the world. It was $5 per person with kids 5 years old and under free. We paid $10 and walked through the really cool exhibit.
Tracing the history of Superman from his earliest appearances in comic-books, to the television shows, movies, cartoons, and the countless tie-in merchandise, there was a ton on display. Everything from rare foreign toys, to a record player...
 to Funko Pops...
artwork as well as outfits...
and more! There was even rare props like the actual wigs Christopher Reeve wore for his shooting of, "Superman," and they looked neat...
Also, the life-size Doomsday on display was imposing and impressive...
We were also both amused and astonished by the display of the, "Unofficial/bootleg," Superman products that other companies had made and put-out without any kind of approval from DC. Those Superman items were as weird as they were interesting...
All-in-all it was a great pit-stop and incredibly fun to visit The Super Museum. We enjoyed walking-through and then purchasing some souvenirs from the gift-shop. I'd encourage anyone with the opportunity to stop in Metropolis to do so!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Saint Louis Micro Con is in a Week!

The latest STL Micro Con put on by STL Comics is now just a week away! It is on September 16th at the Holiday Inn found at 3400 Rider Trail South. As with previous Micro Cons, it will have a variety of vendors and artists. It is also free to attend with parking having no fee as well so you'll be able to put all your funds towards buying cool stuff! I always enjoy spending some time at the Micro Cons done by STL Comics and am excited to attend. I would encourage anyone else thinking of going to do so for sure, and I'll see you there!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

I Had Great Fun at my Cousin's Wedding Today!

Brenna and Josh entering for the reception after the wedding!
I attended the wedding of my cousin, Brenna, to her now-husband, Josh, today. It took place in Huntsville, Alabama, where they met, and it was a great time. We were in a cool big event hall at the EarlyWorks Museum. When we arrived were entered through the children's museum area and our son, Clarkson, had fun playing with the stuffed dogs in an exhibit about various famous pooches. We then were seated  in the event-space and the wedding began.

It was a lovely ceremony that talked about the importance of a couple being there for each other, featured a poem on love by the writer Rumi, and featured them exchanging sweet vows as well. After the ceremony everyone was given bubbles to blow as the wedding party walked by, which looked really pretty. There was a cocktail hour with some tasty appetizers too. Dinner was delicious with an assortment of foods from chicken tenders, to shrimp & grits, and vegetarian options. The wedding cake was a tasty almond flavor with coconut too, and they cut the cake with a replica of Link's Master Sword from, "Legend of Zelda!"
A photo of our photos!
One other thing that really impressed me was the photo booth done by the company, "Sigh Photo Booth." Run by the company's President, Sean Sigh, who was there at the event too in order to assist with everything, it was rad. I've been to a number of wedding that usually have some kind of photo-booth and this was by far the most impressive one I'd ever seen. As opposed to your usual makeshift looking ones this was really cool. It was like a mini inflatable room, or as my wife put it, "This looks like an upside-down bounce-house!" It also would change colors, which was neat. Within it there was a cool big screen that told you where to look and took the pictures, that then printed. There was also a big-screen by the booth doing a slide-show of all the photos people had taken! I'd encourage anyone in the Huntsville region to use them and if Sigh would ever be willing to rent a booth out for us for at an event in Saint Louis I'd for sure get one!

Samii, Clarkson, and I had a wonderful time at the wedding of Brenna and Josh today! Between the heart-touching ceremony, tasty food, exciting music, and awesome photo booth it was a fun event and we were so happy to be there for my cousin's special day. We also found Huntsville really neat too and hope to maybe take a trip here again sometime to explore the sights. All-in-all a great day.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Fortnite's New, "The Getaway," Mode Reminds Me How Much I Suck at Teamwork

I've discussed, "Fortnite," and my affinity for the game before. I enjoy playing it on my PS4, running around trying to accomplish various fun, "Challenges," and seeing if I can survive against 99 other players to be the sole survivor. The way it is consistently updated with new map additions, weaponry, and other fun doo-dads keeps things fresh. At some points limited-time modes will occur. There was the, "Thanos," event that was moderately fun, and now, "The Getaway," has started. Not to be confused with the underrated Playstation 2 game of the same name, this mode involves teams of 4 players competing against one another to get a jewel in the shape of a llama (llamas are a running-joke in the game) and get it to a floating getaway van. This mode results in the need for lots of teamwork as teams of players try to expertly surround the jewel, extract it, and make their way to the van to float off. If you don't have a good squad you' will lose very quickly, and this mode has shown how much I suck at teamwork in "Fortnite."

Perhaps I should have seen this coming. I rarely play the regular, 'Squad," mode and when I do the epic 50 vs 50 game mode that allows you to also have a squad of 4 players to stick with in addition to the mega-team I choose to not do that, just kind-of working with the other 49 players around me as we wage war against the other team. I don't like using my headset much with, "Fortnite," because so often my teammates are either children who ask me a ton of random questions--"Do you stream on Youtube? You sound old, are you a Dad?"--or wannabe pro-players who scream at me for making the slightest error. Therefore, when you play a mode like, "The Getaway," which benefits from a team carefully working in unison to get the jewel and escape before anyone else stops them, I clearly am not a good choice for any squad.
A screenshot from a match played by someone much better than me, they have the jeweled llama!
It's a shame I'm so bad at, "The Getaway," mode that just started in, "Fortnite," as it is fun to watch people play who can work together well. Maybe if it sticks around for a couple weeks I can try it off-and-on when able and see if I can find a team of players I really get along with and find myself actually enjoying speaking with over a microphone. As it is now though, I'd say I'm better-off hiding-out in Solo mode where the only person I can trust is myself, and the closest you'll come to, "Teamwork," is someone picking-off a character running after you...right before they then snipe you out of the game.