Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Have a Safe and Wonderful New Year's Eve!

I hope everyone has a new year's eve that is as wonderful as it is safe. As my more personal posts illustrated, 2019 was quite a tumultuous year for our family and I hope as we enter 2020 that it is 366 days (it's a leap year) of more joy for us all than sorrow. Be good to each other today and in this new year!

Monday, December 30, 2019

At Least Marvel's New, "Empyre," Event Has a Solid Creative Team

I get tired of relentless events in comic-books  that, "Will change everything, forever...for a couple months." It is known as, "Eventitis," and I'm quite afflicted by it. That said, a new event featuring the Avengers and Fantastic Four (who Marvel now acknowledges exist since getting the film rights back) titled, "Empyre," has something going for it. It is about those heroes fighting against a unified space empire--sorry, "Empyre," of Kree and Skrull aliens and it has a really solid creative team.

Al Ewing is always a stellar writer and he is co-writing with the usually-great Dan Slott. Someone who has never written anything I've hated with someone who I have liked most stuff of sounds rad. Plus, Valerio Schiti is doing the art and he has a style well-suited for the abundance of crazy action scenes I bet the book will feature. Fantastic writers and a skilled artist make me a little more optimistic about, "Empyre," than I have been for other event-type books. I am cautiously optimistic, with an emphasis on being extremely cautious.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

"Escape (The Pina Colada Song)," Is Not By Jimmy Buffet As I Believed For Years

You all know Jimmy Buffet, right? He makes an assortment of catchy tunes, some with a happy-sound that if you listen to the lyrics they are actually pretty depressing, such as, "Margaritaville." He's made a career out of resorts, drinks, and a chill lifestyle. Well, for years I thought, "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)," was by him as well. It features a popular alcoholic beverage, is actually kind of twisted when you think about the lyrics (a man and his lady who plan to cheat on each other realize they've been flirting with each other via newspaper personal ads), and I would have sworn it was by Jimmy Buffet. It is actually a Rupert Holmes jam, as my wife proved to me when we were listening to the song on the radio the other day and I became borderline belligerent in my insistence that, "This song is totally by Jimmy Buffet."

My wife Googled the facts and showed me how I was wrong, which made me feel stupid after I was so sure Jimmy Buffet was the artist. It is not a huge deal in the overall functioning of the World--it isn't like I personally was keeping Rupert Holmes from getting his hard-earned royalties and funneling them to Jimmy Buffet instead--I just feel really foolish and was kind of snippy at my wife about it until she proved me wrong. To Samii's credit, she took my ignorance in good humor, later joking when, "End of the Road," came on the radio, "You know, this is actually a little-known collaboration between Boyz II Men and Jimmy Buffet." I deserved that.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

I Hate Smoking, But You Should Be Able to Do it at Age 18

When you turn 18 you can vote, (theoretically) buy a house, open a business, and you are old enough to join our military and die keeping our nation safe. You are an adult with all the privileges being an adult entails unless you want to drink and now apparently in the near future, smoke. Look, I am not a big drinker and I do not smoke at all. I hate smoking, it is nasty and a public health hazard. That said, if someone is old enough to cast a ballot or give their life protecting our country I personally feel they are old enough to make bad decisions, such as choosing to smoke.

You could give me the argument that our brains are not fully developed to use such substances until we are older, and if you say that I'll counter we should then change the age to vote, or have all the rights of an adult to 21, 25, whatever. That won't happen, however, so your point is moot. I hate smoking with a passion, it was a major factor in the death of my Grandma Burton. She made me promise I would never smoke the cigarettes she was so terribly addicted to, and I never have (I tried a cigar once and about threw-up). Even if I despise smoking, I'm not going to stop someone who is supposedly an adult with all the rights and responsibilities of being grown from lighting-up if they so choose (in a designated space, hopefully far away from me so I don't smell the smoke). Instead of putting money towards making smoking illegal for fully-grown adults we could use that money to educate people on why they should simply choose themselves not to smoke. That's just my opinion on all this.

Friday, December 27, 2019

2019 in Review Mega-Post

2019 in Review
Instead of a bunch of posts discussing this year in review, there will be one big post for looking-back at everything. Shall we begin?

Best Comic to End Its Run This Year:
Christopher Priest wrote all 50 issues of, "Deathstroke," and was involved in some issues where it crossed-over with, "Teen Titans." It was an amazing run that began with the start of DC's latest re-launch, this time called, "Rebirth," and it concluded on its own terms. It had the character of Slade Wilson grow in fascinating ways yet also left him perfectly suited and arguably somewhat reset for whoever wants to take over the character next. An assortment of artists did a fantastic job illustrating the series as Priest delivered yet another masterclass in making comics--he's given us countless masterpieces in his amazing career and this run on, "Deathstroke," shall be another feather in his hat/trophy on his shelf.

Comic Writers of the Year:
Bryan Edward Hill for, "American Carnage."
Bryan Edward Hill has written a lot of stellar stuff this year, but his nine-issue series, "American Carnage," is what stuck with me the most. I address why further down as it is recognized below, but if Hill had written nothing else besides, "American Carnage," this year (and he did a lot of stellar work), he would still be on this list for how amazing a book it was.

Olivia Jaimes for, "Nancy."
Whether you read it online or can find it in the funny pages section of your newspaper, "Nancy," went from a perfectly fine and at times humorous strip to a phenomenal blend of quirky, clever, and outright hilarious under the writing (and art) of Olivia Jaimes. I mean, it's 2019 and people are raving about, "Nancy," that tells you a lot.

Jonathan Hickman for, "House of X/Powers of X."
The X-Men franchise had been stagnant for good long while. It had been mostly ignored as Marvel desperately tried--and failed--to make people care about the, "Inhumans," with the X-Men withering on the vine in a series of mostly-ignored books. Then Marvel called-up/begged Jonathan Hickman to come back to the company and work his writing-magic to revitalize the brand. He gave us the two symbioticly-linked mini-series, "House of X, " and, "Powers of X," which threw a whole lot of stuff out the window, brought in a bunch of old goodness too, and otherwise finally gave us something to get excited about with the X-franchise. All the books since have been closely-linked and while they lack some of the mad-glee from the initial spark that is HOX/POX, they've still been a Hell of a lot better than what we were getting for years before.

Colorist of the Year:
Brad Simpson for, "Coffinbound."
I and others have remarked how colorists often seem to be ignored unless they are doing a bad job, then people notice the colors. Brad Simpson is one exception to this as he is a man whose colors you notice because he's doing such a damn fine job. He can take a comic that otherwise I find perfectly decent-but-unremarkable like, "Coffinbound," and astound me with his ability to give us everything from lush and vibrant scenes to purposely dull and dreary landscapes of desolation. The man has skills, in other words.

Ongoing Series of the Year:
Immortal Hulk
It started out as a terrifying piece of body-horror and has shifted into discussing the scariest thing of all--corporate America. Through all of its shifts in focus and tone, "Immortal Hulk," has been a stellar read that is as able to frighten readers as it is to make them think about philosophy and the World.

Original Graphic Novel of the Year:
Nobody’s Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead
Bill Griffith (of, "Zippy the Pinhead," fame), presents a biographical account of famous circus performer Schiltizie and his strange life. Griffith makes even the wildest and fantastical elements come off as grounded and doesn't avoid the more heartbreaking aspects of Schiltizie's life either.

Mini/Maxi-series of the Year:
American Carnage
No comic better served as an illustration of everything going on in America right now this year than, "American Carnage." It was not only topical, but it also made us care deeply about the characters or fear how dangerous they were in this tale of a biracial former FBI agent infiltrating a white supremacist group (that happens to be led by a charismatic businessman running for congress). An intense nine-issue series that never lets-up, this should be required reading for anyone wanting to both understand the World today and take-in a great story.

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt
A comic-book about comic-books can sound a bit too navel-gazey, but Kireon Gillen and Caspar Wijngaard make it work phenomenally well, riffing on everything from, "Watchmen," to modern cinematic-styled comics, indie-books, and the complicated publishing history of the character Peter Cannon himself. The book flirts with getting almost too meta at times, but always manages to land in the sweet spot of being perfectly self-aware whilst also telling an amazing story.

Comic Artists of the Year
Jock for, "The Batman Who Laughs."
I'll be honest and say I'm already pretty worn-out on this whole, "Batman Who Laughs," character. That said, having Jock do the art for an eight-issue mini-series focused on Bruce Wayne fighting this evil-version resulted in an absolutely gorgeous book I could not wait to read thanks to Jock's incredible talent.

Ian Bertram for, "Little Bird."
Being blunt, "Little Bird," at first reads like the usual, "Dark future for America," yarn before it grows into something a bit more interesting. One thing about the comic that keeps your attention from the first panel however is just how damn amazing Ian Bertram is as an artist. With absurdly intricate details every page feels like stepping into a magnificent scene that breathes with possibility. It is all just frankly awesome.

Funniest Comics this Year
"Wyrd," by  Curt Pires riffs on everything from rumors of real-life Prime Ministers having sex with livestock to satirizing depressing tales set in the future, paying homage to Hunter S. Thompson, and having some fun with the, "Evil Superman as a kid," trope. It sounds incredibly disjointed, and maybe at some times it was (just a little bit), but that doesn't take away from how outright hilarious and insightful it was over its four issues.

Savage Avengers
I had said the comic looked, "Cheerfully insane," when it was first announced and it exceeded my expectations. Any comics that has Conan the Barbarian flailing-around a passed-out Wolverine by his feet so his claws slice a bunch of evil wizards is a comic with a heaping dose of gall and humor. A book full of Marvel's potentially deadliest heroes could have been a grim and dreary affair, but thankfully, "Savage Avengers," is savagely funny.

Comic Relaunch of the Year
All the X-Men Comics
I already heaped praise on Jonathan Hickman for his key role in bringing the X-Men back to prominence, but, "House of X/Powers of X," was simply the beginning of some incredible stuff. After it wrapped we spent the rest of 2019 having a number of closely related X-books all releasing on time and playing-off each other in quite an impressive fashion. This has created an overall mega-story that slowly is getting filled-in while each individual book has been allowed to have its own vibe and plot. Something so complicated could easily have collapsed, but it didn't, it just kept rolling along impressively through the end of 2019. Now to see if this momentum can be kept-up into 2020.

New Series of the Year
Money Shot
Not a porn comic, but a comic about scientists who make porn to fund their exploration into outer space. It sounds quite off-the-wall, and it frankly is. Only three issues have been released so far, but, "Money Shot," already was announced as being upgraded from a mini-series to an ongoing, so clearly there are many adventures in store!

Television shows of the Year
Single Parents
The first season was phenomenal and the second has only gotten better. This show comes on after the now long-past-its-prime-and-thankfully-ending, "Modern Family," and while it also has an ensemble cast, it is quite different thanks to some delightfully sharp and cutting humor mixed with a bit of heart.

Bob's Burgers
Not many shows can get to a tenth season and still be this consistently great. Seriously, besides maybe one or two clunkers in its history, "Bob's Burgers," is almost always hilarious. It is saying something when even a weaker episode of, "Bob's Burgers," is still better than most of what is on television.

Video-Game of the Year
The Outer Wilds
Not to be confused with the similarly-titled and fun but quite different, "The Outer Worlds," this game features flying in space and exploring a small little Universe as time keeps restarting every 20-ish minutes. There is no combat, no need to collect a bunch of useless objects, just exploration, learning, and the beauty of the Universe. I have not finished, "The Outer Wilds," and I'm not sure I want to, it is just that magical.

Album-ish of the Year
Random Spotify playlists
Remember that year I didn't really have a favorite album? Yeah, it kind of happened again. This time I found myself making Spotify playlists of various songs I liked which served as strange little anthology albums of sorts. I really do still like the idea of buying an album, sitting down, and enjoying it all the way through, but that era seems to be moving further and further away. Perhaps sometime in the future, we'll have something miraculous happen like finally getting a new OutKast album. That would almost surely win album of the year. Till then, I guess I'll just make my little Spotify playlists.

Movies of the Year That I Didn't See
Too Many to List
When I do this as its own post it is a long and sprawling list of all the movies I did not see this year that came out anywhere from January to the last weeks of December. I'm not going to break them all down this year, but just know my list of flicks I need to catch-up on is incredibly lengthy. It encompasses everything from big stuff like, "Spider-Man: Far From Home," to box office bombs like, "Ugly Dolls," and smaller hits such as, "Dolemite is my Name," or, "Honey Boy." I did manage to see, "Stuber," though. That was pretty funny.

Food of the Year
Potato Skins
In 2019 I often found myself craving, for reasons I do not understand, potato skins. Something about a chunk of potato filled with cheese and bits of bacon just sounded delicious to me for much of 2019. Sour cream pairs well with them too. No little green onions on them though, that stuff is nasty.

People of the Year
All our Friends and Family
Throughout 2019 I wrote about a lot of personal things in addition to my usual witty and clever (in my opinion) thoughts on popular culture. I really appreciate how much love and support was provided by everyone Samii, Clarkson, and myself both know personally and via the internet (or both). You all are wonderful.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas/My Review of Cinnamon Coke

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas who celebrates the holiday. In the spirit of Winter-themed fun, I shall offer my thoughts on Cinnamon Coke. Basically, it is a bit above-average. Kind of like how Vanilla Coke is nice if you're in just the right mood, Cinnamon Coke is the same. The cinnamon flavor flirts with being a bit overpowering but just avoids doing so. Should you enjoy Coke you'll probably be cool with it, if you hate Coke you'll most likely find your opinion unchanged. I don't usually need my Coca-Cola to be too fancy, with regular or sometimes Cherry, "Footing the bill," so-to-speak. That said, Cinnamon Coke is a decently-enjoyable 3 out of 5 stars. Have a good holiday, everyone.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Today is the 3rd Night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, Happy Holidays!

I just wanted to wish everyone happy holidays as we celebrate being in the midst of Hanukkah and how it is Christmas eve. Generally, the days between Christmas and the New Year are jam-packed with my posts looking-back at my favorite stuff from the year. However, with everything that has happened lately I have written basically nothing for my year-in-review type stuff. I will try and get some thoughts posted, but it may just be one or two big posts with some shorter observations about my favorite stuff from the year as opposed to a big smattering of articles. I appreciate everyone understanding that with how much has happened this month.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Things You Can Never Prepare For

Back when we announced we were expecting on Facebook.
A lot happened in our lives from Thursday, December 12th, 2019 to the next Thursday, December 19th, 2019. I would like to share about it with everyone, but actually, randomly want to start with something that happened on the 11th.

December 11th

My son Clarkson had woken-up from his nap and I was preparing his lunch. He likes these little microwave meatballs made out of turkey meat and veggies from the company, "Kid Fresh," so I went to pour five out of the bag onto the plate to cook. To my surprise, I got the perfect number out right away. Five popped out of the bag and I was really pleased with myself. It was the last happy surprise I would get before a series of really sad sudden events.

December 12th

My Mom, Dad, and Sister flew-in to spend some time with us for the holidays, and see our son, Clarkson. We had dinner with them and then on the way home my wife’s hernia came loose. She had been sneezing a bit and had a hard cough, and it suddenly was an issue. She was in horrible pain once we were at the house and we called 911. An ambulance came and got her, we called Samii's sister so someone would be able to watch Clarkson, and then I went to the Mercy hospital to be my wife. We saw a doctor and they thought they were maybe able to manually move the hernia. The wanted to keep Samii overnight to monitor it, however. I went home as Samii wanted me to get some sleep and crashed into bed.

December 13th

I woke at 8AM Friday and my wife texted me a few minutes after that it turned-out things looked bad still for her bowels. They were worried the hernia could be cutting-off blood flow and the bowel was possibly weakened or even dead. After a lot of prepping they did surgery Friday afternoon. Thankfully the bowel was not dead so it was the most minor surgery and the surgeon said we were lucky. Samii then was told for some days she would be recovering in the hospital. As she was also 15 weeks pregnant we were worried about that surgery posing a risk, but all seemed well.

Yes, my readers, that is right. Samii had been pregnant. I had not announced it yet as I had a fun blog post planned for December 31st to announce my, "Second Pregnancy of the Year." People on Facebook were aware as we just announced the news at Thanksgiving, but all you readers did not yet know. I was really excited to share that news, but as you read about the upcoming days you'll see why I'm disclosing all this now.

I went home as the evening approached on the 13th and spent time with Clarkson as things had been so crazy. It was weird having Samii at the hospital away from us, but she of course needed to recover.

December 14th

My family came over Saturday morning and hung-out with me and Clarkson. Then I got a call from the hospital about Samii. She started bleeding a lot vaginally. She was moved to Labor and Delivery as they had the equipment there to monitor everything. They ran a bunch of tests and a lot of stuff had ruptured inside Samii. A variety of membranes had burst, the placenta had most likely separated from the uterus, her water had broken and there was basically no amniotic fluid or the usual blood flow for the fetus.

All of this would put a fetus at 20% survival odds should it be at 24-25 weeks. We were at 15 weeks. There was basically no way to keep my wife alive long enough to get to term and even if we were theoretically able to get to term the fetus would most likely not have gotten the development it needs. It lacked all that amniotic and blood stuff it requires. It was just not a viable pregnancy or possible to keep Samii alive without her going septic. There was still a heartbeat, however, so it was an extremely painful thing to talk about, and we were discussing something generally not ever talked about in Mercy hospital, the doctors told us. This was basically terminating the pregnancy to save my wife's life and save our developing baby from horrible pain and misery due to a lack of nutrients, blood, etc. As it was technically an abortion due to the heartbeat, Mercy was unable to help with the next steps.

We were transferred to another hospital--BJC--Saturday night. It was late and we were in the labor and delivery wing. It was hard to hear all these people expressing joy at their news babies knowing we would soon be losing ours. Many doctors came and talked with us. They broke everything down in terms of our options and it was decided because Samii still had a number of health risks what with the fact she still had fresh surgery wounds from the hernia procedure, so it was elected to do a D&E with her fully knocked-out with anesthesia. This would be the second time she was fully under in a week. We basically cried all of Thursday night and evening.

December 15th

It was the morning and we had the D&E done to terminate the pregnancy as it was just not safe for Samii to continue being pregnant or viable for the fetus. The baby was not capable of surviving. We asked about if the baby we had tried so hard for would feel any pain and they assured us it would not. It would be asleep just like Samii. The surgeons told me after the procedure things were even worse when they were doing the procedure. The umbilical cord was coming out, the placenta was fully detached, keeping the pregnancy going would have caused Samii to die and the baby nothing but pain before it died. Still, we felt so sad and it emotionally hurt.

Even if we lived in a state that had outlawed abortion the procedures would have been allowed as this was a medical situation, but it is scary to think how much more paperwork there could have been or how much longer things could have taken. Samii could have died due to too much legal junk, and there was already a lot of legal junk we had to sign while sobbing because we wanted this baby, we just couldn't have it. Sometimes people who lose their babies become very anti-abortion. If anything, this has shown me how private a choice it is for a family to decide if they have to terminate a pregnancy or not. This is something that should be up to a family and their doctors. The doctors told us everything and it was clear after having all the facts laid-out there was no way to keep Samii and this baby alive. We truly appreciate everything all medical teams at Mercy and BJC did. We were in the midst of one of the hardest weeks of our lives and being given accurate facts and data allowed us to know what to do in order to save the life of my wife.

Samii was groggy after being knocked out for a second time. After spending time with her until she got her bearings I headed home.

December 16th

A snowstorm hit Saint Louis and I was unable to visit Samii at the hospital Monday, I was snowed-in with Clarkson and he and I just relaxed. We talked with Samii over Facetime and she was physically feeling better. Keep in mind she had within the span of a few days gone through two surgeries.

During this time the doctors were able to talk to us and Samii and I talked about how crazy things had been. Really, these were two separate events that just happened close to each other. Her hernia issues were unrelated to anything with us losing our baby, it was clear. She was just arguably lucky to be in the hospital when her body started shutting-down the pregnancy. There had maybe been some signs something was amiss with the baby--genetics tests we had sent-for to learn the sex of the baby had come back inconclusive twice, things like that. Samii's body was quite possibly trying to protect her from this baby that could threaten her life due to some problems. It still does not diminish how sad we were and the pain we have felt.

December 17th

Tuesday morning my car wouldn’t start and I had to get a new battery for it at the local repair shop. I’m glad I did it fast as my wife came home Tuesday afternoon. The doctors talked with us about how the recovery from the hernia surgery would take longer than the recovery from the D&E, even though it was performed later. Samii will need to be out of work for at least 6 weeks as her body recovers from the hernia surgery and that will give us time to emotionally heal. My family (who had arrived to visit the same day all this started, you may recall) came by again to visit Samii at the house and say goodbye as they were heading back home the next day.

December 18th

Samii rested at home and some friends came by to check on us. We talked a lot, cried, and the snow finally started melting outside.

December 19th

It had been a full week since everything went way differently than we had ever pictured. Clarkson went to preschool and had a good day while I got us some needed groceries as Samii rested at home. I got a fun surprise in the mail that made me happy. Someone in a comic-trading group I am in online sent me some fun little promotional-flyers for comic-books as the group knows I like ashcans and little comic promos. They had done this simply for free and out of the kindness of their heart. It was probably the first surprise I had experienced since the meatballs on Wednesday the 11th that didn't make me worry or cry.

December 20th-22nd

Samii is still recovering from everything physically. We continue to have days we feel okay and days where we are just so, so sad. It is a process and we have so many wonderful people in our lives to offer their love and support. There is still a lot to process. We had so much planned-out for our lives with a second baby on the way, that has to change now. Clarkson does not fully understand everything that has happened beyond that Samii was gone for some days and he was very happy when she came home. Everything is emotionally raw right now, but time and the support of those around us will help.

Samii and I just wanted to make everyone aware of what had happened because trying to keep it a secret feels wrong. We had this baby on the way, we wanted it and loved it so much already, but Samii and the baby just could not survive, so we had to lose our baby. I hurt so bad without any physical pain, and Samii is upset as well. We lost a pregnancy we had tried so hard for and Samii was doing everything right during, so of course, we are sad. I 100% believe that everything we did was the right choice, however, and our baby understands and loves us too, in whatever hopefully happy and magical place it now is in because it just couldn't join us here in this life. This is probably the hardest blog post I have ever written, and I have had to pause multiple times as the tears in my eyes have made it too hard to see the screen at certain points.

Generally, my blog is more full of fun posts on popular-culture and just has the occasional serious post about my life, but I like to put these posts up because I want to share how I feel with my readers (those I know or don't know) and my friends who read this too. I am in pain, but I am so thankful for everything I do have from my wonderful wife and amazing son to our comfy home and all the people who care about us. Everything that happened from 12/12 to 12/19 has been so hard, but with our own inner-strength and the additional strength of all those who love us, we will get through it. I appreciate you all. I want to finish this post with a quote from Maya Angelou, "“The love of the family, the love of one person can heal." Having all of you wonderful people in my life will help heal me. Thank you.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A New Jonathan Hickman-Written Comic Sound Great, But I Wonder About One Thing...

Jonathan Hickman makes some good comics, whether he is writing them or writing and illustrating. Image just recently announced how he will be writing a new book with the skilled Mike Huddleston illustrating it, "Decorum." It follows the Universe's most polite assassin. This all sounds great, but I do wonder about one thing. Namely, when am I finally getting more damn, "Black Monday Murders," please? It just seems infinitely delayed and I would really like it to wrap-up because Hickman was making such a fascinating story and Tomm Coker is an amazing illustrator. As it is, for now, I guess I'll just be pumped for, "Decorum," and continue patiently waiting for, "Black Monday Murders," to hopefully, eventually, someday conclude.

Friday, December 20, 2019

A, "Mean Girls," Sequel? In Comic Book Form?

The titles which will be given away for Free Comic Book Day in 2020 have recently been announced (outside of the ones currently marked as being, "Secret," or such). It looks like the usual solid assortment of things geared toward younger readers, older ones, ways to kick-off events or gives a teaser of an upcoming original graphic novel. One thing caught my eye as strange and interesting, however. An official sequel to the classic (in my opinion) movie, "Mean Girls," but as a comic-book titled, "Mean Girls: Senior Year." The flick has had a Broadway adaptation and at this point, a sequel would arguably have to focus on the children of the main cast seeing as how everyone is a good deal older now and their careers have either advanced greatly (Lizzy Caplan is pretty busy lately) or cratered horribly (Lindsay Lohan ain't doing too great).

Having a comic book focused on everyone's senior year where the whole cast can still be able to pass as teens is something that I guess kind of makes sense. It is the best way to get something close to, "Mean Girls 2," even if it isn't on the silver screen. Hopefully, this sampler will be good and get us excited for the full publication.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The New, "Star Wars," Movie is Getting Critically Panned, Will Still Make Lots of Money (Spoiler-Free)

The latest, "Star Wars," movie, which is, "Episode IX: Let's Cash These Checks," or something, has reviews coming-in. They are mixed-to-bad, with it sounding like the movie will appeal to a certain group of fans who maybe hated, "Episode VIII: The Last Jedi," for being quite different and unique (for a, "Star Wars," movie at least). It is noteworthy the eighth movie was also very popular with reviewers and people who wanted a different-style of, "Star Wars." That movie has been dragged through the mud by some of the franchise's fan-base though, and director Rian Johnson has had to defend himself from a lot of venomous people (he's doing okay though, with his latest movie, "Knives Out," apparently being rad). "Star Wars," tried something different, it resulted in lots of disagreement, so now I guess we are just going to be getting an uninspiring and drab finale to this 40-year saga designed to moderately appeal to everyone by challenging no one. It will still make tons of money of course, because it is, "Star Wars."

I'm indifferent to spoilers and won't be seeing the movie anytime soon so I looked-up everything about the movie I could that was leaking. Assuming what I read is true (multiple sources seem to confirm it is) then I am pretty unimpressed with what the plot sounds like even though I imagine the special effects and things will be delightful. It isn't like the, "Star Wars," franchise has to be milquetoast and is unable to try new things. Just look at, "The Mandalorian," which is both creative and fun. Perhaps when we are talking millions of dollars in budgeting as opposed to hundreds of millions more risks can be taken with ideas. As it is now, "Episode IX: The Search for Spock," sounds kind of fun but mostly uninspiring.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Trump Has Been Impeached

The long painful process of getting President Donald Trump impeached is over! Now we get to begin the long and painful process of the Senate trial because this thing doesn't end until America is a smoldering crater. I'm just happy/amazed Trump finally had something stick of his countless, "High crimes and misdemeanors," the man seems he can't stop committing. I doubt Donald Trump can actually be removed from office this way as the Senate has a Republican majority and they've put Trump and their party's agenda well before the good of the country. Trump seems to not realize this however as he keeps acting a fool as opposed to staying calm and reasonable--when has he ever been calm of reasonable, though? In the end, at least a message has been sent and I can't imagine Trump winning 2020 with all this going on because you would hope at some point logic and a sense of decency wins out.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Orlando Jones Really got Screwed-Over

As this interview with, "Variety," Orlando Jones did makes clear, he was recently screwed-over. I will preface the rest of this article by admitting I am a big fan of Orlando Jones and therefore might be more likely to side with him--although looking at everything he seems to have really been treated horribly. That said, I have enjoyed Jones' work from the old episodes of early MadTV to the hilarious movie, "Evolution," and of course his more dramatic turns such as the reason he seems to have been given the short end of the stick metaphorical stick, playing Mr. Nancy on, "American Gods."

"American Gods," is that show you may have heard of which has had a ton of behind the scenes drama. From the first season's showrunners being fired, to the second season have a showrunner who was fired before anything began (resulting in a somewhat unguided second season where the cast had to write a lot of their own dialogue after being given the gist of what a scene was about), and now a yet another showrunner. This goes without mentioning a lot of cast getting fired, leaving, or general mayhem. I will say I watched a chunk of, "American Gods," and found that despite having a solid cast the show itself was honestly a bit of a mess and I would have watched a Hell of a lot less were it not for some great acting from Ian McShane as a seemingly-human God of Thunder, Odin (who people called Mr. Wednesday), and Orlando Jones, the African trickster God, Anansi (who was often called Mr. Nancy).
Jones at Mr. Nancy
The show was about the Gods the old fighting new Gods, like the power of television or such. Neil Gaiman wrote the books the show adapted and while I hear the books are stellar the show--as I said--was a mess behind the scenes and what we got actually made was hit-or-miss as well. Orlando Jones did a lot of hard work for, "American Gods," to the point he was asked to write the lines for basically all characters of color (American, African, or whatever, if they were non-White, essentially) and Mr. Nancy to the point he was given Writer's Guild membership to avoid angering actors' and writers' unions with him going so far above-and-beyond what he initially expected his role to be. Then he was fired.

As Jones tells it, he was strung along all of August 2019, finally informed in September the show was going in a different direction that did not need Mr. Nancy as the showrunner disliked how he represented a, "Wrong," kind of Black America that was too angry. Jones didn't say anything until December because he was hoping there would be a press release saying he was not involved anymore, some kind of announcement, but people knew nothing. He wasn't kept-on to write, he was just fired for doing too good a job as a character who stated how, "Angry gets shit done," which apparently made Charles Eglee (the new showrunner) and Freemantle Media too anxious. Yes, this is the same Freemantle media that fired Gabrielle Union from, "America's Got Talent," for reasons that apparently range from her being, "Difficult to work with," which requires some reading-between-the-lines to reasons like her hair looked, "Too black," which requires no reading between any lines.
Orlando Jones and Gabrielle Union have apparently been speaking to each other about Freemantle.
Freemantle has claimed the show didn't need Mr. Nancy this season due to using parts of the books that lacked him. Okay, so then why not keep Jones hired/optioned for future seasons so he could seek-out other work until needed? Perhaps keep him around writing as he was doing so much of that? Maybe at least tell him this instead of keeping him sitting around waiting a whole month to hear the news, then some more months for anything to actually be said once he told people finally what was up? Yeah, Orlando Jones got screwed-over, and good on him for speaking up about it.

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!