Friday, December 13, 2019

Isn't Harley Quinn Already Beyond Being a Sidekick?

Rumors abound that Harley Quinn will become Batman's new sidekick in the #91 issue of, "Batman." In a way wasn't she already kind of beyond being a sidekick, though? She was the Joker's main accomplice for years before in a variety of comic-continuities (including the, "Main," DC one) realizing how unhealthy a relationship that was and striking-out to be a bit of an anti-hero. Actually reducing her back-down to being a sidekick seems reductive. Also, the fact it is for Batman of all people (the main foe of the Joker) just seems to be digging-up that unhealthy mess of a life she had with the Joker.

This all may be a feint as we slowly approach the 100th issue of the current Batman series and await whatever new changes will accompany it. Still, the idea of Harley being Batman's sidekick just seems to diminish her as being her own character/person/etc. You know, the whole main thing DC has been doing with her for a few years now!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Almost Mid-December 2019 News and Links

December is Flying By

Hey, wow, it is already almost the middle of December! That happened fast. I really should get working on my year-in-review posts I generally do between Christmas and the start of the new year, but how about instead I whittle away the time by sharing interesting bits of news and links? Yeah, procrastination never comes back to bit anyone on the bottom!

Some News For Ya
Starting with some news that upsets me but seemed to register very little with others, Redbox is shutting-down game rentals. Yes, go ahead and make some joke about how nobody uses Rebox anymore because I know individuals who do (meaning you can shut-up). I like renting games for consoles because I don't want to spend $60 on something I may hate, and with Redbox eliminating game rentals that will limit a lot of people's ability to rent a videogame. Thankfully here in the Midwest, you can actually buy or rent stuff from the awesome smaller-chain of stores known as V-Stock.

Vault puts out some interesting comics and their, "Pay what you want," promotion with a chunk of proceeds going to charity is a great way to sample some of the comics they publish.

Whenever someone claims to have found a space alien or Bigfoot it always turns out to be a ploy to get famous/make money. It would be hilarious if a real space alien just popped-up on a local news broadcast sometime and was like, "Hey, what's up, I'm from space. I don't want to conquer you or anything; I just wanted to try these, 'French fries,' I keep hearing about."

I fully agree with this article about how amazing Wesley Snipes was as Blade. I'm always telling people how the, "Blade," movies ("Trinity," aside) were the best Marvel-but-pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe flicks.

Speaking of vampire-related media, I enjoyed reading Christopher Priest's writer's commentary on his most recent issue (#5) of, "Vampirella."

This piece by Rich Juzwiak of Muse makes the interesting observation that sometimes we may declare a music artist is, "Cancelled," yet people just keep listening to them regardless.
The official trailer for, "Wonder Woman 1984," was released recently. It looks pretty entertaining and by being in the past it can side-step a whole lot of the issues regarding what exactly the DC movie continuity currently looks-like in terms of present-day movies while also being arguably the first direct sequel to a DC movie since Nolan's "Dark Knight," trilogy.

There is a new text-based game, "AI Dungeon 2," that has been getting a chunk of press for how it uses fancy computing to try and concoct a response to almost anything you can think of trying to do in a text-based browser. It became so popular so fast after its release it crashed, but there are plans to make it more readily available to more people trying to log-on if folk are willing to help fund its further development

Finally, an official Twitter account of the Trump campaign compared him to the genocidal madman Thanos from Marvel comics and movies. You know, the guy who wanted to destroy countless lives and was defeated due to his arrogance? You can't make this shit up and I'm just thankful that this impeachment process is moving along.

Gear-Up for the Holidays!

A whole bunch of Winter holidays are quickly approaching from Christmas to Hanukkah, Kwanza, and plenty more. Hopefully, you're adequately or at least minorly prepared for how busy things are going to be getting!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Again, We Need To Talk About Drake and the Latest Red Flag

Back in January of this year (I know, it seems forever ago), I wrote about how while I enjoy the music of Drake certain problematic things were coming to light about him. Basically, I observed he seemed to have a tendency to be very close with underage girls-which can be innocent assuming he's being a mentor or something harmless--and also had behaved in a manner that indicated he was sexually attracted to said underage girls, with a history of, "Grooming," them while underage and waiting until they were just barely legal to make any kind of sexual relationship public. It happens with girls who are both famous and non-famous. This is totally legal, but pretty skeevy. I've argued we need to discuss this or it will just continue. Guess what recently came to light? Yep, new stuff.

Apparently, 33-year-old Drake has for a period of time been texting and chatting with currently-17 Billie Eilish. We see a trend of him getting close with an underage girl and while I'm not saying he wants to hook-up with Billie Eilish as soon as she's old enough...would that surprise anyone considering Drake's behavior? I said it at the start of the year and I'm saying it at the end, we need to talk about Drake. I'm saying this as someone who likes a lot of his music but grows increasing disconcerted by his behavior.

Monday, December 9, 2019

The December 2019 ToyMan Show was a Rollicking Fun Time

Yesterday I attended the last ToyMan show of the year and it was the immensely fun time I always expect it to be. I saw a lot of my chums and bought some great comics this time as well. I started out the show chatting with the awesome folk of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles and Eric of STL Comics as they are always near where I enter and a joy to speak with/buy from/sell to! As I continued to walk around the first floor I ran into other stellar folks such as Tom from Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games plus my friend Spike from Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles who had some wild vintage Spider-Man toys among his usual impressive assortment of goodies.

As I looked about one seller had some Marvel comics with a character I like (X-23) and one team of Avengers that was pretty wild (the Uncanny Avengers). I traded some of my stuff with them and got the books as you can see below:

I went upstairs to the, "Artists' Alley," after I talked with a bunch of the great vendors downstairs. I saw J.E. Nelson (who just released her newest book) in addition to author Jessica Mathews and her co-author and illustrator Jennifer Stolzer. I also talked with my friend, author Leigh Savage, and enjoyed seeing the show's special guests, comic-book artists Steve Lavinge and Jeffrey Edwards! Plus, Lonnie Johnson from Heroes for Kids was present and selling all kinds of snazzy funds to raise funds for the charity. Before I went back downstairs I ran into David Knoblock who was selling some awesome creations of he and his wife, Dawn, including some fantastic comic-book themed murals.

I returned downstairs to browse some more. While doing so I was able to purchase some more random comics and two comic-magazines that got me really excited! They were issues of the old, "Hulk," series Marvel did for some time that are notable for me because they feature early Moon Knight stories as well! Give them a gander:

I did a little more walking and talking with people at this last Toyman of 2019 and then headed-out. I loved seeing all my friends and was super-pumped about my Moon Knight-related acquisitions. I would encourage my readers who are going to be in the area on January 12th (of 2020) to attend the next show. Parking is always free and it only costs $5 to get in, with anybody 16 years-old or younger free too. Oh, and there is early-bird admission at 8AM for $12 as well if you want to be there right at the beginning. A"Thank you," is always due to Chris McQuillen as well for putting-on such great shows and being an all-around rad guy.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Carvana Befuddles Me

Am I old and out-of-touch? I mean, yes, I am, I often write about that on this blog. That said, is the fact I am old and out-of-touch why something like Carvana befuddles me? People go and just buy a car online which is then delivered without a test drive or making sure you like the vehicle? Plus, there is an even stranger option to visit a, "Car vending machine," that visually resembles some twisted idea from H.R. Giger. What is the deal?

I mean, dealing with buying a car at a dealership can be a pain at times. Should you face high-pressure sales tactics or visit a disreputable location it is awful. That said, there are very professional and nice places where you can go and actually touch, sit-in, and drive the car you're going to drop a big stack of cash on/sign-up for a multi-year loan on.
I struggle to see the appeal of going to some hideous building where I use a magic representational coin so that I purchase a car as if it is a gumball. I'm buying a car, a big investment. I don't need a dog-and-pony show that turns this into some show-biz spectacular, "Experience," so much as I just want to know the car I'm purchasing is one I like and it is reliable. Clicking some buttons online and having a car dumped in my driveway with nary a test-drive is weird to me, and this car vending-machine idea is even more bizarre.

This isn't to say I'm always opposed to buying cars online. Should you be after something really old or rare then it makes sense to use eBay or special websites to buy these specialty cars. That's a certain kind of niche, however. I'm talking about buying your day-to-day vehicle--that is where these sites and their car vending-machines lose me. Hence, my asking, am I just being reasonable and see through the charade of making buying a car an animated and entertaining event or is this down to me being old and out-of-touch? It is honestly probably both, knowing me.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Author and Friend of the Blog J.E. Nelson Has Released Her Latest Book!

I've written about author J.E. Nelson before. Some time ago she released the first book of her, "The Power Within," series that follow a young girl 12-year old girl named Daphne who has Autism and finds her way through the World as things get pretty bad and post-apocalpyptic. Ms. Nelson had told me the second book in the series was nearing its release soon the last time we chatted and now that time has come! "The Power Unleashed," has just been released and can be found on Amazon should you be interested in following the continuing adventures of Daphne.

If the books sound intriguing but you have not yet read the first, you can find it on Amazon as well. Also, should you be in the area and want to buy a copy of either book from Ms. Nelson in person she will be one of the guests at the upcoming Toyman Show December 8th (the last one was rad as always)! See ya there!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Your Advertisement Sucks, Peloton, Accept it

Whenever a big company finds itself or its products made fun of there are basically two ways they can handle it. They can accept the jokes with a good-natured, "Okay, whatever," and look pleasantly chill, or act defensive and seem tone-deaf and oversensitive. For example, when Saturday Night Live did a skit about someone in charge of Sara Lee's social media accidentally using it as if it were their own to make thirsty comments on Instagram and bemoan their love life being crappy, the real Sara Lee company responded with mild bemusement how, "“While the explicit jokes in the skit do not align with Sara Lee Bread’s brand, we know SNL pushes the envelope for laughs and are taking it all in stride." Sara Lee looked like a good sport and maybe even got some extra sales from all the hubbub. They handled things well. Peloton has done the opposite.

If you have been on the internet lately you've probably seen people making fun of an ad for a stationary bike that includes a streaming subscription to live training sessions known as Peloton. The advertisement focuses on a very pretty and thin woman who is given a Peloton by her husband on Christmas and proceeds to catalog all her process as she goes from 115-ish pounds to 110 pounds and declares--as if desperate for recognition to her recordings--how this Peloton, "Changed her life." The whole thing is awkward and cringe-inducing, and it went viral for these reasons. Apparently, Pelton does not appreciate all this, having made a press release saying people, "Misinterpreted," their advertisement.

It is a bad ad.
This press release--which included excerpts from three whole emails that had been sent to them expressing support for the ad--reads as self-pitying and isn't a good look. Perhaps Peloton has reason to be upset, with their market-share taking a hit due to some backlash from the ad, but maybe if they instead embraced this absurdity that could actually help. I mean, how many people had zero clue what Peloton was before this ad and now maybe those folk are at least curious about the brand? Seriously, Peloton, capitalize on this buzz and you can turn lemons into delicious and profitable lemonade, or you can sit around simply whining about your lemons.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I Tried out Instacart and Liked it!

The other week Clarkson was really sick. He is fine now, it was just a 48-hour bug. However, while he was sick our son had a fever and kept throwing-up as well as having nasty diarrhea. We really needed certain groceries, but Samii and I agreed we should both be present at the house seeing as our son was blowing-up at both ends. For that reason, we tried something neither of us had done before, one of those grocery delivery services--Instacart specifically. It was pretty cool.

Normally Samii and I like going to the grocery store. It is fun to find new tasty foods, you can select exactly what you want, and should something be missing it is easy to pick something else. Lots of folks hate grocery shopping, however, so that has given rise to services such as Instacart, Shipt, and more. I saw that the delivery of the first order in Instacart was free for new users, so I eagerly downloaded it and got to work.

We got our grocery items from the local chain known as Schnucks, which had an assortment of brand-name items and Schnucks-specific goods in the app. It was pretty easy to navigate with my typing in, "Cinnamon Rolls," giving me a solid selection of all I may want. Anyways, I did our grocery needs in the app and submitted it to be shopped for. Then a shopper was assigned who picked-out our groceries, and the app updated me as they went, which was snazzy. The grovestand-style orange juice I wanted (I like pulp) was out-of-stock so the app asked if I would be okay with the, "Some pulp," option. I clicked that was fine and things chugged along. Eventually, our shopper had everything and put it in what Instacart said was a special cooler/freezer so that nothing would spoil or thaw. A bit later a driver picked the stuff up and brought it to our house. He came to our door and was nice.

All-in-all I put in the order at 4:45 PM or so that day and was told it'd get to our house between 6:30PM-7:30 PM. Everything indeed arrived on time, at 7:00 PM. The app added-on a service charge of about $3.50 and we tipped the driver $5.00 too, so that was not too bad at all. Should we had gotten delivery that would've easily added another $10 or so. Although, the option exists to just have someone shop for all your stuff and then you just pick it up should you want things to be a bit easier but not pay a delivery fee. There is a subscription service as well to get free delivery all the time, but that is more for people who use these grocery apps a lot.

Instacart was really helpful the day we needed it and I liked using it. That said, we still plan to usually go to the grocery store ourselves due to both enjoying it and because all those additional costs in the app would definitely add-up over time if we used it a lot. That said, Instacart was handy in a pinch and I can see the appeal of these grocery-delivery apps. Maybe then next time we can't get to the store for some reason but really need stuff I'll try another app like Shipt and offer my thoughts on it as well!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The, "Black Widow," Movie Trailer is Online

The trailer for, "Black Widow," looks decent. It clearly has a lot of spy-style action as this is a more espionage-themed Marvel movie. Also, as this is a prequel (due to how things end-up for Black Widow in, "Endgame," e.g. she is dead) I imagine it maybe sets-up future stuff--perhaps more Taskmaster later on, or the appearance of William Hurt as Thunderbolt Ross hints at the long-rumored idea of a, "Thunderbolts," flick or Disney+ show. I mean, I imagine that is the idea, otherwise, it is kind of random to finally be making a, "Black Widow," movie considering how, as I mentioned, the Scarlett Johansson version ain't exactly in the MCU now. Plus, with Yelena Belova appearing here I imagine she'll take on the mantle of, "Black Widow," perhaps. Should the movie be great or mediocre, David Harbour as the Red Guardian looks pretty entertaining at least.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Clipper Coffee is Some Good Stuff

I am of course someone who greatly enjoys coffee and as such, I am always looking for new kinds to enjoy. The other weekend I was with my wife and son at one of the local grocery chains known as, "Dierberg's," and a nice man named Tom Charleville was sampling the wares of Clipper Coffee Company. It is his business which is based here Saint Louis and specializes in roasting in small batches right here in STL. I gave it a taste and was pretty impressed, although it was a bit lighter than I like as I normally brew my coffee as dark as the void of space. With that in mind, I bought some to bring home and brew to my specifications. Once I made a pot the way I like (very strong) I drank some more and it tasted just as good super-dark as it did a bit lighter. Yes, my friends, Clipper Coffee is some good stuff.

I think what I liked most about Clipper Coffee is how even when I made it dark there was no bitter taste, just a nice strong smoothness. This probably is due to the, "European Standard Quality," the website discusses using for its whole bean and ground coffee that is exercised for its delicious and unique blend of Costa Rican, Guatemalan, and Colombian beans. I found the regular ground blend of Clipper Coffee to be superb and imagine their decaf offering to be stellar too (and as I mentioned, whole bean options exist for both regular and decaf too).

Should you live in the Saint Louis region you can purchase Clipper Coffee at Dierbergs, Fresh Thyme, and Lucky's Market. They also ship via their website's store should you live somewhere else and want to give this coffee a try. I was very impressed with Clipper Coffee and plan to continue buying it. I thank Tom for doing his samples at Dierbergs and introducing me to this delicious brew!

Note: This is not a paid post or advertisement. I simply love Clipper Coffee and felt like making a post discussing my affinity for it. I will be notifying Clipper Coffee Company I made this post but they otherwise are completely unaware of my blog--I was simply offered a sample at Dierberg's when shopping and loved what I tasted!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Take a Moment to Commemorate World AIDS Day

Since December 1st, 1988, the day has been designated as World AIDS Day. I have of course worked in public health and spent time working with an agency that assisted those with HIV/AIDS and educated others about HIV/AIDS as well. Named Williams and Associates, they continue to engage great work as do the countless others who strive to inform others about HIV/AIDS and provide assistance to those impacted by it. So many millions of lives have been lost to HIV/AIDS and while prevention and education have done a lot to help, there still is much to be done.

"Earthbreakers," is an Upcoming Game With a Clever Genre Blend

When it comes to video-games it is common to mix-up genres. There will be role-playing games that maybe incorporate puzzles, driving games with bits of jumping and platforming, etc. One thing that I always have found fascinating is when video-games mix real-time strategy with other stuff like first-person games. It has been dabbled in before, with the mostly forgotten game, "Savage," where one player would play it like a RTS and also try to send directives to those playing in the first-person (people didn't always listen). I recall one of the, "Battlefield," games having a, "Commander," feature too that kind of did something similar. These were multiplayer games, however, and while some single-player games did this as well, it always seems to be a little screwy when an RTS/FPS blend is attempted in either style, with multiplayer being especially tricky as people don't always work together that well. Well, "Earthbreakers," looks cool and may simply work great as opposed to being wonky.

"Earthbreakers," will have multiple teams of players that have their own equipment sets doing RTS tasks together while running around doing first-person shenanigans. It seems everyone will have the ability to be doing both RTS and FPS activities, which will perhaps help boost a feeling of teamwork as opposed to in some of the games I named where it was a singular player in the RTS-mode sometimes seeming to be bossing-around everybody else. I'll be keeping an eye on, "Earthbreakers," while it is in development and hope it comes to consoles eventually as right now it is just for computers, and my laptop is way too weak for games.