Friday, January 31, 2020

I Just Realized This Sunday is Groundhog Day AND The Super Bowl

Today it suddenly occurred to me while watching the news how this Sunday, February 2nd, will be both Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl. Both holidays are full of superstition and crazy rituals. One is silly and scientifically inaccurate but did inspire a great movie with Bill Murray, the other has lots of science about its dangers people ignore and ads that feature huge celebrities, and Bill Murray may weirdly enough appear. Both get people fired up and have huge political aspects people try to ignore (climate change being politicized and protests/kneeling during the National Anthem). There is a lot shared between these two events!

Seeing how much Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl seem to have in common, I propose we create a Groundhog Bowl for this Sunday where Groundhogs play football. It sounds dumb, but they can't play any worse than the NY Jets (I kid out of love for the Jets). We already have a Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet, why not groundhogs? Make those fat little buck-toothed critters do something useful for once besides seeing their shadow (I don't like groundhogs, much you can maybe tell, I have personal reasons). We've only got two days to put this together, but it would be lit. Come on, everyone, let's mix
these two holidays like a mad scientist!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Can We Be Unironically Excited for a Sonic the Hedgehog Movie? I Am!

There is going to be a, "Sonic the Hedgehog," movie that seems to be essentially be getting dumped on the public when it is Valentine's Day of this year. I guess nothing screams romance like a furry blue ball that moves at lightspeed. I didn't hate the first trailer where Sonic looked kind of...different, and have been interested in seeing this flick since I first heard about it as someone who has always had a deep love for Sega products and Sonic. Many other people seem to be excited too, but in a less earnest manner. There are people who think it will be a trainwreck, "So bad it's good," or things like that. I just want to be able to have excitement for this movie without anyone thinking I'm being ironic or snarky.

Seriously, Jim Carrey is a pretty talented actor when you give him the right role (comedic or serious). James Marsden is criminally underappreciated and his characters always seem to get the short-end of the metaphorical stick (just look at the 2nd season of, "Westworld," for example) and end-up dumped or dead. Seeing James Marsden get to just be happy and pal-around with a computer-generated hedgehog sounds fun. Jim Carrey playing a Sonic-obsessed Dr. Robotnik/Dr. Eggman sounds fun too. The whole thing looks like a harmless good time and that's okay if it lacks any deep statement beyond some cute jokes and special effects. I want to see, "Sonic the Hedgehog," and I want it to be just a relaxed and chill flick I can smile at. You don't have to share in my sentiment, but makes me a bit sad when you're just sharpening your metaphorical knives ready to rip apart this movie. For all we know it might be legit good too! We shall see.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Three Songs I'm Digging All Have Weaponized Nostalgia

I've talked about the power of nostalgia multiple times on the blog and the idea of taking people's love of the past and basically making something designed to prey upon our nostalgic whimsy so we automatically have a certain fondness for it. Well, currently three songs I'm digging all have a big dose of nostalgia involved. Two of them are by Summer Walker (with one featuring someone to really give it that past-appeal boost) and one is by Mahalia featuring Ella Mai. Let's discuss the two Summer Walker jams first.

"Playing Games," by Summer Walker is the most subtle of these three when it comes to nostalgia. It doesn't outright sample any older songs, but has some key lyrics that call-out a classic jam. Basically, she suspects she is being cheated on and in the chorus asks, "So won't you say my name, say my name, if you claim you want me, it ain't no thang." This is undoubtedly a riff on Destiny's Child mega-hit, "Say My Name." Here is that lovely ditty:

It is minimal for sure, but it's there. Anyone who knows, "Say My Name," without a doubt would recognize the call-out to it. Subtly flies out the window for, "Come Thru," which features Usher, however.

"Come Thru," begins with one of my personal favorite Usher song's, "You Make Me Wanna," playing in a fuzzy way before Summer Walker sings about how a man she likes makes her want to, "Come through," and basically stop by and see him for good loving. It sounds like it is just barely riffing on the Usher classic at first before Usher himself starts singing some new lyrics...and by the end of the song they are outright saying lyrics from the old classic without any doubt what song, "Come Thru," is drawing inspiration from. "You Make Me Wanna," can be heard right below:

As I adore, "You Make Me Wanna," it gives, "Come Thru," an almost unfair advantage of being a song I like a good bit already, with Summer Walker and Usher sounding great on it too, nostalgia aside.

"What You Did," is our third song that weaponizes nostalgia and does it with a severity somewhere between the vague allusions on, "Playing Games," and outright saying past lyrics on , "Come Thru." "What You Did," is by Mahalia and features Ella Mai. It also samples a key sound and lyric feature of the Cam'Ron song, "Oh Boy." Now, back in Junior High, I bought the CD, "Come Home With Me," by Cam'Ron basically just for, "Oh Boy," that is how much I loved it--remember those days where you bought an album for just one or two songs? It has him and Juelz Santana rapping as a high-pitched female voice says, "Oh Boy," off-and-on. Here it is:

"What You Did," samples a bit of the beat and that key, "Oh Boy," voice that made the song a banger back when I was a teenager and hearing it really takes me back. Oh, and lest anyone accuse me of forgetting, the version of, "Oh Boy," with Mariah Carey and Cam'Ron was hot fire too, but the original was my main jam. Her's that one while I'm flooding this post with YouTube links to old music:

Some people might be critical of new songs using old ones in this manner, saying it lacks originality. I am fine with it because throughout history artists have sampled or outright ripped each other off to make cool stuff. As long as in these cases everyone is getting paid for their sample who deserves to be paid, it's all good. I'm just enjoying listening to new things whilst simultaneously having my fondness for the past fed that delicious ol' weaponized nostalgia.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Kicking Off 2020 Sick as Hell

Basically our whole household.
You may remember in October of last year my discussion of how I was sick. Well, now I'm sick, Samii feels bad, and Clarkson had a viral illness that went away, but the drainage led to a sinus and ear infection so now he's on antibiotics. We are kicking off 2020 sick as Hell. It is unfortunate but we are muddling through. Please send all the positive energy you can.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The First Volume of, "Way of the Househusband" Is a Wonderful Read!

There is a new manga series that had the first volume released in English a bit ago and the second volume (which I plan to read soon) just came out in English as well. It is titled, 'Way of the Househusband," and follows a man who was once an extremely dangerous Yakuza member known as, "The Immortal Dragon." The thing is, one day he just suddenly quit to live as a househusband. His wife goes to work and he uses his skill with the blade to cook, also cleans the house expertly, goes out looking for good deals on clothing, and otherwise keeps things in order. It is a setup which is a little like, "John Wick," if Wick had simply stayed out the mob underworld instead of getting involved again. The comic is mostly light humor with bits of really dark moments hinted-at but not fully explored. I loved it.

Perhaps because I am a stay-at-home Dad I relate a bit to being a househusband and how it can garner unique reactions from people. I was never a feared member of the Yakuza, but I'll still get stares if I'm the only guy out shopping somewhere or at a food event (the Immortal Dragon does not have kids, but would probably also get comments as I do about how cute my son is and those are welcome, weird questions about where mommy is are met with snarky replies). Funny moments abound as the Immortal Dragon intimidates people who see all his tattoos and wonder if he's dangerous, even if the guy just wants to take advantage of a clearance sale. Run-ins with past rival gangs lead to issues too, as few want to believe he truly has stopped being one of the most dangerous Yakuza enforcers around for a quiet and happy life.

There are many, "Misunderstanding," scenarios that are humorous and little clues about just how feared this man once was. When one former rival hits him over the head with a 2X4 he just laughs as his head starts to bleed and remarks it would be great for making some furniture. It scares them off, then he proceeds to take the 2X4 home and use it in a craft to make a cute and dainty children's chair. It is a surreal comic for sure.

One thing I would've liked, "Way of the Househusband," to explore more is just how the Immortal Dragon ended-up with his wife and how much she knows of his past. There is a moment toward the end it is indicated she first met him when he was in a bad way and she helped him (with them then falling in love shortly thereafter, one would figure). This was just the first volume of the series, so there is plenty more time to explore their relationship between shopping excursions and hilarious vignettes such as where a malfunctioning robotic vacuum cleaner wreaks havoc.

Kousuke Oono is the writer and artist; he does a masterful job illustrating this manga. The Immortal Dragon looks incredibly imposing even when being sweet, which makes sense as he was dangerous for years before becoming a househusband. For a book about a relatively peaceful life, it also is extremely kinetic, with a chase after the aforementioned robotic vacuum cleaner looking impressive and moments of creating tasty dishes full of gorgeous drawing where you can really sense the energy that goes into making a meal. The artwork and story are both superb and I can't wait to get a copy of the 2nd volume that just came out, and future volumes to enjoy as well!
5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

I'm Quite Concerned for IDW

Back in April of 2019, I wrote about how, "I'm a tad concerned for IDW." This post came about as the company was maybe having success in publishing comics, but overall losing money due to investments in television shows that were popular, but not exactly turning much (or any) of a profit. I observed something others had too, that the company seemed to be spreading itself a bit thin. Now we are in 2020 and IDW disclosed to investors (it is publically traded so it can't keep numbers to itself like many other publishers) how it lost 26.4 million dollars in 2019, will liquidate more cash in 2020, and hopes to be profitable by 2021 as its television properties that are sucking-up so much money hopefully start making funds.

Now, plenty of mega-companies lose money for a good deal of time before making money and they keep going thanks to investors with deep pockets and big dreams. The question is if IDW can manage to keep moving along to that point investors are pleased with actually getting venture capital back or cut their losses and IDW suddenly is insolvent/bankrupt? I'm no longer a tad concerned for IDW, I am quite concerned.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

This Infographic About American Gun Ownership is Fascinating

I have made it clear on my blog how I am extremely in favor of gun control/not big on how the 2nd amendment has been interpreted. I have had readers and friends who agree with me on this and those who disagree. As it stands, I'm not really a fan of civilian gun ownership. Therefore, I am probably about a complete 180 degrees in terms of views from most readers of a website called The Minuteman Review which is all-in on guns and the idea of the right to own as many as you want with no limitations. That said, when someone from the website reached out to me about how their site had assembled a massive guide about gun ownership in America and was seeing if blogs wanted to share it, I was intrigued.

Having reviewed, "The Ulitmate Firearms Industry Guide: Statistics, Trends, and Data," I can say I am impressed with how much raw data it complies into objective facts that are easy to follow and read. It breaks-down how much gun ownership there is in America clearly by multiple factors (race, sex, etc.), concisely lays out data about why people say they own guns, facts about concealed carry permits, and it has no pro-gun or anti-gun viewpoint so much as just tells facts. Now, if you are someone who is concerned about guns you would probably be alarmed by a fact like how 46% of the World's guns are owned by Americans, but someone who wants less gun control will probably be pleased to see that 29.59% of gun owners say they own more than five guns. It is all detailed data that those who love guns or hate guns can really dig into.

I don't agree with The Minuteman Review on guns in basically any way, but I will say they did an amazing job creating this guide and it is one of the most in-depth infographics on gun ownership I have ever encountered. Whether you feel the way I do about guns or are more closely aligned with the views of The Minuteman Review you will probably find the information interesting too. I thank them for contacting me about it.

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Grammys Have Turned Into a Big Mess

Remember when the main joke about the Grammys was people joshing around about how it wasn't, "Even really an award that mattered?" Shows like, "The Simpsons," on numerous occasions poked-fun at the Grammys. It seems quaint, as now in 2020 when we talk about the Grammys it is more from a perspective of if the whole thing is one massively rigged sham. It all started when Deborah Dugan, the former President and CEO of the Recording Academy (who gives out the Grammys) was suddenly removed from her position of power. She began to spill so much tea it was a like tidal wave of Lipton.

As Deborah Dugan tells it, she was expressing concerns about sexual misconduct and how the Recording Academy would engage in vote-rigging, where someone who maybe was in 16th place for votes was still a top nominee as then they would be willing to perform a popular jam at the show or such. Dugan says because she tried to correct misconduct and corruption she was thrown-out for not playing ball and/or accepting sexual advances from a lawyer who negotiated big record deals, and/or letting the rigging continue. The Recording Academy paints a very different picture of Dugan as a toxic employer who made everyone miserable and was otherwise a nightmare to work with. They say she's just a vengeful pain-in-the-ass who is making up lies now that she got fired because of how miserable a human being she is. It is a mess, and this year's Grammys are, oh snap, this coming Sunday? All of this started about two weeks before the actual show?
Are they really, though?
A month ago people were vaguely excited about the Grammys and I don't think anyone would have predicted just how big a cloud hangs over the thing now. Award shows have always been exercises in navel-gazing and self-congratulation, but at least the statues were given with some degree of legitimacy attached. If a big-name award isn't even reputable to some degree how is it any different from me sitting-in on a committee that decides the best bloggers and making sure I'm the winner or else I won't appear at the show? That sounds like a horrific conflict of interest, and artists sitting in on groups where they were nominees--just like my example--is something Dugan has claimed happened all the time!

I don't know what the absolute truth is in this case. I just know the whole thing has turned into a big mess. Whether the actual broadcast of the Grammys addresses this at all remains to be seen, but it definitely has put a damper on the proceedings and raised a whole lot of questions.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

100 Seconds to Doomsday

The Doomsday Clock  (no relation to the recent comic series) was created to represent how close we as a World are to an utter planet-ending catastrophe. Originally created with the threat of Nuclear war in mind during 1947, now it applies to just all the general trouble in the World that could result in Atomic destruction being triggered. Between mystery viruses emerging from China, how Australia is on fire, the climate being an utter mess, politicians like Trump inching us closer to war, and so forth, the clock has inched closer to Midnight. We are now less than two metaphorical minutes to everything ending, 100 seconds. This is the closest the clock has ever gone to utter destruction.

Now, this is, of course, an opinion of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, but I would say if anyone is qualified to judge how close we are to planet-ending Nuclear war, it would be Atomic scientists. This is worrisome, in other words. Things are bad, and I really hope they get better before we strike midnight and the planet is just a big ol' smoldering crater.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

"Churchill: A Graphic Biography," Provides A Stellar Overview of a Fascinating Life

I'm on the mailing list for the publisher Dead Reckoning, which is the graphic-novel focused imprint of the Naval Institute Press (a part of the U.S. Naval Institute, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, professional military membership association). The NIP prints books that explore naval and military history in both fictional and nonfiction methods. I was a huge fan of, "Trench Dogs," which explored World War I through anthropomorphized characters and was excited to get an advance review copy (it's due to be released April 15th, 2020) of a more nonfiction work, a graphic biography of Churchill.

Well-known historical figures who did great things as Churchill did can be tricky to write a biography about because people have lots of preconceived notions. Some may be prone to deification as if Churchill could do no wrong, and those who would be all too eager to point-out only his failings. The foreword to the book by popular historian and biographer Andrew Roberts acknowledges this risk, as he lays-out in his opinion that this graphic biography does a stellar job refusing to sell Churchill short, but also willingly acknowledging the man's imperfections. He was loud, he was brash, prone to impulse, but he also was brilliant and integral in the Allies victory during World War II.

The version published in April will be full-color.
My review copy was black-and-white. 
"Churchill: A Graphic Biography," has a solid introduction that points-out this biography tries to be thorough, but with someone such as Churchill there was so much that went on in his entire life that this book is focused on more of notable points in his development as a young man and then most impactful decisions as a military officer and politician. The book's writer, Vincent Delmas (translated by Ivanka Hahnenberger), does an excellent job examining Churchill, starting with him as a young boy up through the conclusion of the war against Germany in WWII. Teenaged and early-20's Churchill is brave but almost foolhardy in how recklessly he rides a steed into battle.

As Churchill grows, he develops more skills in strategy and surrounds himself with the best advisors and tacticians during times he really needs their assistance. The ups and downs of his life are earnestly portrayed, with even a joyful moment such as the victory over Germany in WWII having a somber note as Churchill reflects that the Nazis may have been defeated but a new Iron Curtain falls across the World (Stalin and the Soviet Union). Churchill actually lived to 1965, but the book ends with the Japanese theatre of war still an ongoing concern and a good 20 years of his left uncovered. It is understandable as much time should be (and is) focused on the earlier parts of WWII where the UK was often under threat of German attack/actively being bombed, but it seems a little odd to suddenly just stop the biography when Churchill had a good deal of life left. It's the author's choice, however, and everything before the somewhat abrupt ending reads great.

The art by Christophe Regnault works superbly with the story. There are a lot of text-heavy moments as Churchill's life is examined, but at points in the book, Regnault gets to really cut loose with some stellar layouts, such as key battles of WWII. There are humorous moments drawn fantastically as well, such as a towel-clad Churchill fresh out of the tub joking with America's President Franklin Roosevelt about how, "Britan has nothing to hide." As this is a graphic biography it is key that the illustrated elements are strong, and Regnault is talented at making sure the book is as eye-catching as it is informative.

"Churchill: A Graphic Biography," is fantastic. It's informative while being engaging with the writing and artwork working in perfect unison. I would recommend giving it a read for sure if you want to learn about Winston Churchill in a unique manner compared to the all-prose biographies of him. I look forward to the book's release in April!
5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 20, 2020

MLK And The Ongoing Fight for Equality

Today honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For some younger people learning about all the work he and everyone did to fight for civil rights, it seems forever ago. It wasn't. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929. He was murdered on April 4th, 1968 at the age of 39. Theoretically, MLK could still be alive today, aged 91. This is all living memory.  There are people in their 60s and 70s who remember having slurs and objects hurled at them when they were the first black children allowed into schools that were being desegregated.

Everything was more recent than some would maybe like to admit, and the struggle continues. Racism still is rampant, bigotry is earnestly displayed by those wearing, "Making America Great Again," hats and economic inequality--also a major concern of MLK--is a glaring issue as the rich make billions with minimal taxation and the poor struggle to even afford food and healthcare. The worst thing we can do for the memory of MLK is to think he solved everything. The struggle for equal rights continues and his dream that one day we will all be judged by the content of our character as opposed to the color of our skin is an ongoing one.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

News, Links, and Notes for January 2020

The Middle of January

The first month of this new year is a bit over halfway done. I hope your January has been good. Normally I hate January but after how insane December was I'm actually pleased for things to be mellow. Because I love you, my dear readers, I have saved links and interesting pieces of news to share with you in this post. No need to thank me, just feel free to Venmo me five bucks when I am able to figure out what the Hell my Venmo password or account name is.

Things To Share Thoughts On
Remember me? Yes?
Miss me? No?
Polygon had a great feature on the Kinect and how it failed despite the best efforts of Microsoft. It struggled when it came out for the Xbox 360 and even bundling it with the Xbox One when that console first launched couldn't make the thing popular.

Also from Polygon, an observational piece on just how miserable it is to try and shop at Gamestop.

The implosion of the organization known as The Romance Writers of America could be made into a novel itself, but more of a tragic thriller than anything passionate.

No, just no.
Gwyneth Paltrow's snake-oil peddling company Goop has a new show on Netflix and it is apparently as bad and cringe-worthy as one would expect. I will not even be hate-watching lest Netflix thinks that indicates a positive response.

I loved reading about these six small-press makers of comics to keep an eye on. Their work already is amazing and I wish them all massive success.

When, "The Simpsons," first came on the air in the late 1980's Apu was not made with malicious intent, but he is a pretty bad caricature and well past being of use to show still in his current incarnation. Fox seems to realize this as Hank Azaria (the voice of Apu and many other characters on the show) has said he won't be doing any scenes as the character going forward. Whether this means Apu will be retooled or just simply not appear on the show remains to be seen.
Buy these--legally distinct from--Baby Yoda items!
I like to buy stuff on Etsy ranging from vintage comics and knick-knacks to cute personalized gifts for my loved ones. Currently, there is not much merchandise of Baby Yoda/The Child from, "The Mandalorian," and Esty sellers have stepped up to fill that void. Disney does not like this, however. Anyone who isn't vague enough in a listing is finding themselves hit with a takedown notice/their item delisted.

Paste's list of the 100 best horror comics of all time has some selections I really agree with and some that made me go, "What?" It is overall a solid list though, and props to it for including the stellar, "Black Monday Murders," which I am still patiently waiting for to be finished.

To conclude, leave Harry and Meghan alone. Let them live their life however they want. If they do not want to be royals that's cool. Should Meghan want to return to acting in the form of voice-over work, that's fine too. Harry's mother--Diana--was arguably killed due to the actions of the paparazzi.  It makes sense Harry and Meghan want none of that and are fine giving up royal titles to have some semblance of regular life with their son. Let them be sad, happy, or whatever they feel in peace.

Try and Keep Warm
It will probably get colder before it gets warmer, so try and spend the rest of the month staying as warm as possible. I truly appreciate you all.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

You Don't Have to Read Every X-Men Book Coming Out Right Now

There are a lot of comics dealing with the X-Men coming out right now under this, "Dawn of X," line-wide relaunch. A lot are great, some are okay, none so far have been terrible (thankfully). It can feel a bit overwhelming as while the books can stand alone they are also one big interconnected tale (as upcoming collections of the comics reflect). It is okay if you don't want to read every book, however. Yes, seriously. Even the architect of all these X-titles (and writer of some key ones), Jonathan Hickman has said as much. Now, the books are pretty closely linked, so maybe that is easier said than done, others would point-out. This seems to happen whenever a particular character or line is especially popular.

There was a time Marvel was putting-out like 3 ongoing comics focused on Deadpool and at least two mini-series at a time with him too, the key was to prioritize the books you liked versus the ones you did not. Now, these, "Deadpool," comics did not really all tie together to tell a massive story, but you see my kinda-sorta shaky point. There is a massive all-encompassing story being told about the X-Men by Jonathan Hickman and all his collaborators, but these issues are like pieces to an absolutely massive puzzle. Should you be missing some pieces/issues here-and-there you'll still see the overall picture just fine. I'm not complaining yet, as I'm just happy comics with the X-Men have me this excited for the first time since Grant Morrison's work back in the early 2000s. Man, I am old.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Disappointing News--"Cyberpunk 2077," is Delayed

One game I've allowed myself to be cautiously optimistic about is, "Cyberpunk 2077." A big and sprawling RPG set in the future and based on the 1980's tabletop game, "Cyberpunk 2020," it is being developed by CD Projekt Red (of, "The Witcher," game fame). It has been in development for years and was tentatively due to launch in April of this year. Well, it has been delayed until September. There have been arguments this was bound to happen with such an ambitious undertaking of a title. Others have expressed concern if this will result in extreme, "Crunch," which will stress and exhaust employees.

I'm disappointed but understand if more time is needed to hopefully have the game reach its full potential. I just hope fans are patient and CD Projekt Red keeps its employee's well-being in mind whilst finishing the game. Now I guess I just have more time to try and catch-up on the massive backlog of games I plan to play sometime when I have a free moment.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

DNA Kit Companies Always Worry Me

Hey, you all know that while Medical companies that do things with your DNA have rules about privacy, places such as 23andMe do not? Right? I just ask because those cheap kits then allow them to sell the info about the building blocks of your life to pharmaceutical companies. This isn't a rumor, 23andMe actually brags about it in their stock filings. Robinhood--an app that lets you invest in stocks and has an information news email wrote about how 23andMe is getting such a degree of profit from these revenue streams they could just make the kits free as those things aren't the product, you are the product. Check out this bit from the email:

Anytime a service or item is free it is making money off of you. Facebook of course does that too, but Facebook is just selling access to data about your, "Likes," and how you post a lot about which contestants on, "The Bachelor," are arguably this season's villain (I'm not big on Kelsey or Hannah Ann). I love technology, but I don't like the idea of my genetic information being used by a private company however it likes once I sign-up for, "Free." That leads to the last part of the email:

Call me old-fashioned, but this worries me. I am all for my DNA helping to hopefully research diseases or find a match for bone marrow, but within agreements, I've seen and understand. I don't want my DNA to indicate I possibly like certain types of food and suddenly get targeted ads online saying, "Hey, your genetic profile indicates you'll love our chicken nuggets!" You can't just take a cotton swap with my salvia and sell it off to the highest bidder. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I feel like I've seen enough dystopian sci-fi movies/read enough books to know this ain't a path I want to go down.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

People Are Really Analyzing That, "Morbius," Trailer

As you can see above this text here, the trailer for that upcoming, "Morbius," movie came-out recently. It looks potentially good with its mixture of horror and action, plus Jared Leto is a great actor when he isn't being an insufferable human. The things that have really caught people's attention, however, are a random background poster with Spider-Man (in a strangely different from the Marvel Cinematic Universe outfit) and a surprise appearance by Michael Keaton AKA the Vulture in the MCU-linked, "Spider-Man," movies. These two things have led to a lot of analyzing and overthinking.

I have seen theories that this is some complicated multi-World Spider-Verse where one of the old previous Spider-Men are involved, it is a unique mix of stuff, etc. Some reasoning for this being an alternate World is the different Spider-Man outfit. I'm gonna guess it was just a piece of art chosen for the trailer and will be corrected. Now, with Michael Keaton showing-up that shows there is some connective-tissue forming between Sony's movies featuring Spider-Man and his friends/foes. It should be noted though that this is different from if someone owned by Disney/Marvel popped-up like happens in the movies specifically featuring Spider-Man. I'm going to say this is probably going to be a case where the Sony flicks can comment on elements of the MCU movies that involve Spider-Man or their properties, but it will probably not be a two-way street where we can expect Morbius to appear anytime soon in an, "Avengers," flick.

I'm always down for more Michael Keaton in any movie.
Now, I could be wrong and when Marvel and Sony renegotiated their deal about Spider-Man certain things were agreed upon. Perhaps the MCU will be allowed to draw some from Sony and we could very well be heading towards an epic, "Sinister Six," movie where Spider-Man and the Avengers fight Moribus, the Vulture, and whomever with Venom even possibly pops-up. We shall see what the exact case is with all this before too long, but I don't think it is any crazy-complicated thing with multiple Universes so much as it is studios carefully navigating ownership rights.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Cankor is a Wild and Weird Ride of a Comic

Matthew Allison's graphic novel, "Cankor," collects his self-published comics of the same name and will be published by Adhouse books in late March or early April of 2020 (so, this year). The thing that immediately caught my eye about, "Cankor," and resulted in me reaching out to ask for an advance review copy was how Allison's illustrating style reminded me of Michel Fiffe (in a good way) with the surreal storytelling of Michael Deforge (also in a good way), while wholly being its own thing. It makes sense solicitations for the comic have pointed-out how this is reminiscent of Derforge (it mentions Quitely as well, but I really see more of a Fiffe-style) as well. Again though, this is its own odd thing. As for that thing is/what is, "Cankor," about?, it's complicated.

"Cankor," is a comic about various realities within the comic's World, while also at times making it apparent it is aware it is a comic (a little meta here and there) and riffing on other comics and the very question of reality itself--such as when Allison has some, "Author's notes," that themselves seem to be a mix of reality and fiction (I believe he got in a fight at a concert once, I'm not sure I believe there was ever going to be a, "Batman: Year Five," comic). "Cankor," at times follows extra-dimensional beings made up of both flesh and machinery duking it out violently, but this only when it isn't exploring otherworldly landscapes with its characters at well or dipping-back into a reality (of sorts) where people seem to be living in our regular world, except its black-and-white and people lack any visible eyes for some reason--I told you this was some weird stuff.

Allison does a lovely job alternating between Worlds and providing faux-supplementary material ranging from calling himself out for swiping other's work to criticizing comic-book reviewers (my feelings weren't hurt, I hope I'm not as snobby as his fake reviewer). His drawing-style shifts as needed in clever ways, with the, "Real," World not just being black-and-white but also more sketchy in style than his clean and complex lines of, "Blood, wires, and suffering."

The comic is at once multiple plots all going on at once loosely related or outright unrelated to each other while at the same time arguably being one big mega-plot where it all ties together in a strange way of mixing straightforward sci-fi storytelling with meta-fiction and general zaniness. It is utterly bonkers, and that is probably why I loved it. I would be sure to request your comic shop/bookstore/library/legal weed store orders a copy so that you too can enjoy this fantastically bizarre work.
5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The First ToyMan Show of 2020 Was a Delight!

Today was the first ToyMan show of 2020 and as one would expect, it was stupendous fun! I kicked it off exploring all the awesome wares for sale on the first floor. I chatted with John of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles and he told me they would have some shows in the future as well. I requested he keep me informed about them and he said he would! As I looked around I was able to trade a comic of mine for these really cool, "Mars Attacks," mini-comics. I am of course a big fan of mini-comics and ashcans so these really appealed to me. Give them a look:

Then I saw Justin Mosely from  Wayne Kent Comics and was pleased to purchase a Moon Knight comic from him my collection lacked. There was plenty of other awesome vendors as well, I saw some really old Lego sets that were astounding and some die-cast cars that looked quite impressive. I also ran into my chum Spike from Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles before I bought a couple other snazzy comics from some vendors--a neat team-up of Spider-Man and Ghost Rider fighting the (underrated) villain, the Orb, and an issue with Spider-Ham. Check them out:

I went upstairs and saw an assortment of my author friends. I talked with Leigh Savage about some of her latest erotica books being released and saw J.E. Nelson and her daughter, we discussed how busy they'd been lately! I also chatted with Jessica Mathews & Jennifer Stolzer about how things had been going for them and how they had some upcoming books in the work as well. I met Stevie Tisius of Steveidrawsdinos and loved her artwork as well. Before I headed back downstairs I saw Lonnie Johnson of Heroes for Kids too. I then went downstairs and browsed some more, at which point I got this first issue of, "Wolverine," when his ongoing series started. I was very pleased:

This ToyMan show was a lovely way to start the year. With an assortment of great comics, toys, video-games, and collectibles it is always jam-packed with incredible items and talented creators. The next show is on March 8th and I would strongly encourage you to attend if you'll be in the area as it is such a stellar show!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Amazon is Throwing Major Shade at the Honey Plug-in Since Paypal Acquired It

There is a browser plug-in called, "Honey," that helps find discounts and codes for shoppers. It has worked for Amazon before. Honey was recently acquired by Paypal, who is a competitor of sorts to Amazon (Paypal for a long time was owned by eBay and Amazon doesn't accept Paypal). Not long after that happened, Amazon started warning shoppers that Honey was possibly malware and should be uninstalled. Upon reading this I found myself thinking how remarkable it is that Amazon is being petty to this degree.

I mean seriously, Amazon is all hunky-dory with Honey but once a competing company such as Paypal acquires it for...let me check my notes...4 billion dollars(!), Amazon suddenly wants to act like Honey is malware. Oh, and yes, Amazon does have its own competing plug-in now too. Clearly, my opinion is that Amazon is doing all this to undermine Paypal and Honey and it looks like Amazon wants to disparage that. It's not a good look, but Amazon has enough money that I suppose it's of little concern to the company.

Friday, January 10, 2020

A Prelude Graphic Novel For an Ongoing Comic? Interesting...

Image Comics announced a bit ago that with Robert Kirkman done writing, "The Walking Dead," he has a new comic in the works--"Fire Power." Even though he could probably spend the rest of his days counting the cash he's accumulated from TWD I admire him wanting to do more comic-work, even if I suspect any future projects are secretly pitches for media options as comic-books...but I digress. Basically, Kirkman and all-around awesome artist Chris Samnee (who I met at a comic-con before and really is as nice as people say) will be doing, "Fire Power," to tell the story of a man who travels to a mystical city to discover his ability to summon fire through martial arts. I know, it doesn't sound too wildly creative, but one way the comic will be released is pretty clever.

Essentially, Kirkman and Samnee will be releasing a full-length graphic novel that serves as a prelude for the ongoing series. People can read a big chunk that serves as an introduction and then follow the comic monthly afterward. I see the logic in this, as, "The Walking Dead," itself picked-up a lot of readers via people who read the earlier trades and then once caught-up would follow the series monthly. By having a big ol' prelude graphic novel there is already a pre-collected edition of sorts readers can absorb and really dive into the series before it starts releasing single issues.

This all does make me wonder why they don't just release everything in graphic novel installments (as Joe Casey and Pitor Kowlalski have done with their comic, "Sex," after it was monthly for a kind of the reverse of this)? Robert Kirkman is a lot richer than me so I have zero qualifications to judge his business and publishing choices, however, so I guess now we will just see if this idea of a prelude graphic novel before an ongoing series works-out well or falls flat on its face. I mean, at the end of the day if the story is good that will help, if the story is bad, little can be done to save it. At least with Samnee on art that'll look smashing, I imagine.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

"Big Punk," is a Hilarious and Wonderfully Drawn Mini-Comic

Janelle Hessig is a drummer, writer, and creator of comics. Known for her punk aesthetic and style she recently teamed with an indie publisher who pretty much always puts out stellar work, Silver Sprocket. They are publishing her latest mini-comic, "Big Punk," and I loved reading the digital copy that was sent out to press with the request we share our thoughts if we like it/hate it/feel any specific way.

"Big Punk," is about an unnamed Punk Lady who moves out of an increasingly gentrified metropolis known as, "Fog City," as she finds herself disillusioned with the gritty culture eroding. Before long she finds herself bored, but as that header-image shows, she meets a sexy Bigfoot and things get wacky.
"Big Punk," is short, humorous, and has some heart as our lady-Punk falls in love with a Bigfoot and tries to balance being a tough punk with having a loving heart for her new hairy beau. Hessig's drawing-style has a bit of a cartoonish look with that rough edge that makes the sharp and biting critiques of modern society expertly land. I greatly enjoyed, "Big Punk," and would recommend buying yourself a copy on Silver Sprocket's website.
5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A PC That Rips-Off the Nintendo Switch Could Actually Be Clever

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) all kinds of interesting and sometimes bizarre pieces of technology are introduced. There are items there that go on to become huge hits and things that just cause everyone to scratch their heads in bewilderment, shown-off as a concept but never actually seeing the light of day. Alienware showed off a conceptual portable PC suitably named the, "Concept UFO," at CES and man, it looks like a PC version of the Nintendo Switch.

Nobody on stage when the Concept UFO was unveiled pointed out how much it looks like a Nintendo Switch, or that the controllers pop-off and can attach to themselves like a Nintendo Switch. For real though, this conceptual PC totally rips-off the Nintendo Switch, and that could actually be clever. Imagine being able to access your game library on Steam, GOG, Epic, or whatever service you use and playing any game that supports a controller moderately well? That would be pretty snazzy, although a graphics-heavy game would probably zap the battery in something like the Concept UFO in an hour or such...making it not exactly that portable unless you have easy access to a charging port while you're out and about.

The Concept UFO is more of a theoretical prototype than anything else. It also really looks like a Nintendo Switch rip-off. That said, maybe the Nintendo Switch has some good ideas that are worth drawing inspiration from, with even me admitting after some initial trepidation I kind of want one these days. I guess we will have to just wait and see if the Concept UFO will ever become the, "For Sale UFO," if my horrible pun makes sense.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

People Love that Cameo Website/App

You may know of Cameo. Imagine if for anywhere from $5 to $1,000 you could hire a celebrity to record a, "Shout-out," to you with their cell phone's selfie function. Some people would think it is dumb to pay a D-list celebrity fifty bucks to wish a friend a happy birthday or break-up with a boyfriend, but others would love it. Enough people like the idea that the website/app Cameo has become hugely successful.

It is weirdly fascinating to me as I have never really been a, "Cult of celebrity," person. I don't really obsess over famous folk with a mixture of affection or rage (politicians aside as they really do affect everyday life). Famous people are regular humans who managed to be really good at something (acting, singing, a sport, whatever) and are now known for it. This includes lesser-known celebrities who maybe would like some extra-scratch by saying a simple catchphrase such as, "No soup for you!" or to, "Stay thirsty, my friends."

I don't have anything against individuals wanting to pay celebs to record a video message, it is a lot of like paying a celebrity to sign an autograph for you at a comic-convention (which I don't do, but I have paid creators to make awesome sketches for me). I guess I just don't personally see the appeal when I scroll through everyone...and wait, Kevin Conroy is on there for just $75? That's actually not a bad price to hear the voice of Batman pay you a compliment. Anyways, Cameo is making tons of money, so it clearly has struck folk as something snazzy.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Oh Wow, "New Mutants," is Actually Coming Out?

The movie, "New Mutants," has been in development Hell for two or three years now. A horror-themed X-Men spin-off, it was basically completed, had reshoots planned, they didn't happen (it seems), Fox was announced as being acquired by Disney, more delays happened. It got to the point it was thought, "New Mutants," would never be released or it would just be quietly dumped onto Hulu or Disney+ so the money spent on it did not go to waste. Then there were rumblings a trailer would pop-up online and now here it is above.

We've got an actual release date of April 3rd and while this probably won't work in a weird little stinger to tie-in with the Marvel Cinematic Universe or acknowledge the other X-Men movies much, it is at this point impressive the damned thing is actually going to be in theaters. How good it will be in the end...we shall see.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Are Those, "Star Citizen," Games Ever Coming Out?

You may have heard of the online spacefaring game, "Star Citizen," and the title that began as a part of it but then became a spin-off single-player title, "Squadron 42." The developer, Cloud Imperium Games, did a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 that raised a lot of money and continued to keep privately gaining funds to the point it is now 2020 and the game has raised...let me check my notes...over 260 million dollars? Oh, but as impressive as that is, we are now eight years later and everything is still basically in an early barely-playable, "Alpha," state. Certain things in, "Star Citizen," work but more and more features keep being announced with this all seeming to be more like an impressive tech demo of an engine as opposed to a real game. As for the first-person shooter spin-off, "Squadron 42," that supposedly is finally coming-out in 2020...or is it?

Apparently, these games have some drama in that another company named Crytek has filed a lawsuit with the claim its engine is being used without their permission/them getting a cut. Cloud Imperium Games has said they aren't using any Cryengine technology, and has argued the lawsuit against them has to be dismissed as without the games being released, how can there be a lawsuit? Crytek is saying if, "Squadron 42," is supposedly due to be released this year then the lawsuit is, "Ripe" but the suit keeps getting pushed back because the game is always getting delayed...with Cloud Imperium Games seeming to want to delay stuff out of this year as if, "Squadron 42," will not actually come out in 2020. Keep in mind, "Star Citizen," still seems like it will maybe come out still years later or collapse into a stupendous mess.

We are so many years into the development of, "Star Citizen," with people buying spaceships that supposedly will be useful in the finished game for tens of thousands of real-life dollars. The single-player spin-off is most likely not coming out in 2020. Should these titles ever be released it is impossible for them to live up to the hype and expectations. I just do hope they finally are released someday and are relatively fun. The alternative that this is going to turn into a flaming wreck that pissed away over 260 million dollars of money from hopeful fans, venture capitalists, and so forth just sounds really unpleasant for everybody.

Friday, January 3, 2020

"Brother: A Story of Autism," Is a Great Story and Teaching Tool

I often keep updated on comic and graphic novel releases by reading-through, "Previews," magazine and its list of new releases. One thing that recently caught my eye was a just-released book from the new publisher Zuiker Press. It is a publisher focused on helping newer younger authors tell their stories through this, "Issues based," publishing house. They have nonfiction titles focused on an assortment of subjects, with, "Brother: A Story of Autism," sounding very interesting to me, as I am of course quite familiar with the subject of ASD. Written together by Carlton Hudgen and Bridget Hudgens, it discusses from Bridget's point of view life growing-up as the younger sibling to an older brother with ASD.

The book follows what life was like for Bridget and her family as they saw doctors as Carlton was growing and were informed about his diagnosis along with realizing how ASD did not define him as a person. "Brother: A Story of Autism," is sure to make it clear that ASD is not some terrible thing that afflicts families, it is an aspect of the sibling/child they love and this book makes clear to discuss all the ways Carlton showed he was smart, caring, and a dedicated brother as he grew and continues to be a happy and functional adult despite some stereotypes of ASD being that people diagnosed with it cannot have fulfilling lives.

Siblings fight regardless of ASD!
Bridget and Carlton are sure to talk about in the book how regardless of Carlton having ASD they had regular sibling moments of at times fighting, other times being close and happy. "Brother: A Story of Autism," also goes in-depth on discussing how at times life was hard or happy independent of Carlton's ASD. Their mother and father go through a difficult divorce shortly after the birth of their youngest sibling, their mother meets a nice man who loves her (and who also is supportive of all the kids) and they get married, Bridget goes to college, and so forth. The book is sure to point out that having a family member with ASD is a big part of life, but not the only thing in our lives.

The penciling by Nam Kim works wonderfully in the book, being drawn as realistically and grounded at some points, but then when portraying the imaginations of Bridget or Carlton changing in clever ways to help illustrate how Bridget or Carlton may have felt at a certain time. For example, when Carlton is seeing all the doctors testing him for ASD they are drawn as scary space-aliens as he was quite intimidated, and another moment where Carlton helps shield a snail from the heavy rain is illustrated with the snail giving him a thankful smile. These little artistic flourishes help had an extra enjoyable element to the story and compliment the prose superbly. None other than well-known comic creator Gary Leach actually provides the inks, and Fahriza Kamaputra's colors are stellar as well.

I liked the clever artistic moments
"Brother: A Story of Autism," was created in a way to be easily used in the classroom or given to parents of children who may have recently been diagnosed with ASD. This is because it smartly includes sections covering parent take-aways from the book about Autism and a section for how the book can be used in an educational setting. "Brother: A Story of Autism," is written to be younger-reader friendly as well so anyone from students to adults can enjoy it. Carlton and Bridget are now in their 20's and both are excelling in life. I loved their book, "Brother: A Story of Autism," and thank Zuiker Press for providing me with a copy for the purpose of review when I contacted them about my interest in the book. Whether you know a lot about ASD or simply want to learn more, this is a fantastic read.
5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Song, "Restroom Occupied," Sounds Horribly Unhygienic and Not Sexy at All

For my first post of the year let's discuss a song about sex that sounds incredibly unhygienic and not especially sexy. "Restroom Occupied," by Yella Breezy and featuring Chris Brown describes an encounter between a man and woman where they engage in, "Making love in the restroom." Apparently, they met in a club the woman went to with her own boyfriend/husband but she wants to randomly cheat and does so in the loo. 

Despite it being a cramped stall the woman is, "Doing all kind of tricks, busting all kinds of splits," and it is, "Sloppy fucking," with it declared that no protection is used (even though they are total strangers) as she wants, "My baby, no test tube." It is hinted that Yella/Chris is only having sex with this woman to show-up the man who tested his, "Gangsta," attitude so Yella/Chris was pleased when she was eager to engage in, "Cheatin'," with him. Hence, now Yella/Chris is in a restroom stall, "Freaking, hunching, pussy popping." For a song about basically nothing but sex, the song is incredibly unsexy and frankly nasty--not in a good way.
Apparently, this is an arousing location?
This is a song about two people in a rancid restroom stall, having sex with each other out of spite, and it is almost tragic to think this is Yella Breezy and Chris Brown's idea of, "Making love." I would say the song describes general sex/fucking with lovemaking being when people have a deep personal connection and express these feelings physically. Making love is a deeply personal and caring thing....this song is just about banging in a dirty restroom. Plus, the language used isn't even sexy or arousing like some songs about sex are. It just sounds like two people awkwardly humping and doing weird positions so that they can avoid touching anything dirty in the stall. The mental image is not so much sexy as me worrying they are going to lose their footing and both fall to the floor of the stall, getting covered in dirt, hair, and urine. Again, not sexy.

Oh, and of course the song has zero focus on the woman's pleasure. There is no description of doing anything to make her feel good. It is all about Yella/Chris liking her doing wild maneuvers so that he can be sure, "I'm gonna finish," and there is not a care in the World about her having fun. Besides a somewhat catchy beat, this song is basically one big failure and should anyone ever try to put this on while you're at their house and they want to create a sexy mood you need to get out of there as fast as you can.