Thursday, April 30, 2020

SCOUT Comics to Offer Direct-to-Retailer Shipping

Some small-sized publishers are offering direct-to-retailer shipping of their wares, which tends to be a lot more popular than what DC tried to do (using competition retailers as distributors too). With this in mind, SCOUT Comics--a company I've expressed a fondness for a number of times--will be doing direct-to-retailer offerings of much of their upcoming wares. I imagine as Diamond picks things back up they'll be shipping via it too, but this is a smart way to get a product out quickly to stores that want it.

As SCOUT put it, " Starting tomorrow (May 1, 2020) we plan on offering our retail partners a chance to order new Scout Comic content.  These comics will be released twice a month starting in June from one of our print partners (Comic Impressions) who are only a few miles away from our headquarters here in Fort Myers Florida." It sounds like a cool plan and SCOUT's comics tend to be pretty awesome. I'm curious who else might try out similar methods depending on how smoothly Diamond resumes shipping in late-May.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Diamond Plans to Resume Shipping Comics on May 20th

Diamond Comic Distributors was the sole shipper of new comics for years and shut-down as COVID-19 became a major issue and ground the World to a stop. They have gotten things organized enough to be able to start shipping-out comics again on May 20th. DC has tried some alternative shipping to the irritation of many for a variety of reasons, but this is the big dog returning to market.

This will hopefully help comic stores that have been doing curbside, delivery, or shipping (plus some may be opening to some degree as states open back up, whether that is smart health and safety-wise or not). It also will assist many publishers that have had to furlough employees, and I'm pleased some of those publishers such as BOOM! Studios have plans already to work with comic stores as things get moving again. I'm just excited for comics to be coming out again (DC's alternative distribution attempts aside) as long as everyone is careful and safe.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

"Majora's Mask," Was Pretty Darn Amazing and Now is 20 Years Old

This editorial by Heather Alexandra at Kotaku points out that, "The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask," is now 20 years old. I remember its release for the Nintendo 64 and as someone who remembers saving-up and buying the game when it came out (my parents took me to the local Babbage's store where I had pre-ordered it) this news makes me feel a little ancient as well as nostalgic. "Majora's Mask," was a strange kinda-sequel to the smash hit, "Ocarina of Time," and took place in a weird land you stumbled upon called Termina were lots of people from the previous game were present as twisted mirror versions of themselves in a mish-mash World (this was intentional as lots of design elements from, "Ocarina of Time," were reused to make development move fast) that ended within three days. Yes, three days, about a handful of hours in real-time.

The in-game clock ticked constantly and you could always reset time, but you had to figure out how to save the World before the Moon crashed into Termina ending all life. It was intense, wild, and one of the weirdest, "Zelda," games ever. Plus you could wear masks that literally transformed you and allowed the use of new abilities having morphed into fantasy characters in the world such as Zoras, Gorons, and more. The mixture of familiar-yet-different, the, "Groundhog Day," element of resetting time, and using masks to alter your body all made, "Majora's Mask," my favorite Zelda game, even beating-out, "Ocarina of Time," because you know I love weird stuff. Having now been able to play the latest game, "The Legend: Breath of the Wild," on the Nintendo Switch it maybe ties with, "Majora's Mask," with both being stellar in their own way.

The ever-present and always-encroaching moon.
I was tickled to see that Boss Fight Books (who make little books about beloved as well as infamous video-games) have launched a Kickstarter to fund their next round of publications about assorted game titles, with, "Majora's Mask," being one new book. I eagerly funded the Kickstarter today and am excited to read more about the famously strange game that holds a special place in my heart.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Kanye West is a Billionaire Now. Good for Him

As longtime readers of this blog know I was once an outspoken supporter of Kanye West and about as anti-Taylor Swift as someone could possibly be. Then in 2018, I wrote a heartfelt piece about just how badly Kanye West let us all down in oh so many ways. Next thing I knew I was backing Taylor Swift and now quite enjoy her new music, while finding it painful to even listen to Kanye's older albums knowing how he is now. I spend my days in 2020 basically thinking about Kanye as little as possible and not minding hearing Taylor on the radio. Sometimes Kanye makes himself too apparent to ignore, however, proudly announcing he was now a billionaire thanks primarily to his fashion line. All I have to say about this is, "Good for him."

The Kanye of today is unrecognizable compared to how he once was (something he even has acknowledged in his songs). Kanye was a lovable underdog, someone nobody believed in. He had so much determination, drive, and belief in himself however he managed to get, "The College Dropout," made and it was incredible. He then gave us more and more hits, getting cockier but backing it up. Then something happened. I'm not sure what, but he became a Trump backer, started saying insane things about slavery being a choice, was hanging-out with Megachurch preachers, writing-off any music he considered secular, and focusing more on getting a bunch of money from his sneaker and clothing empire than making music or even more importantly--making a difference.
The liner notes for, "The College Dropout," paint the picture of a thoughtful yet overlooked young man.
Kanye in 2020 seems miles away from then.

What happened to the rebel who told it like it was during Hurricane Katrina? What happened to the angry and righteous young man whose first song on, "The College Dropout," is the scorchingly outspoken tune, "We Don't Care," or created a lush sonic wonderland with, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," and so many more albums & tracks? I don't know if, "The College Dropout," Kanye would've been so obsessed with being rich that he would angrily declare how Forbes undervalued his fortune. He would have just wanted respect for his talent and to know he was making a difference. Kanye is rich now and surrounded by other powerful and wealthy folks (The Kardashians and Jenners). I hope he's happy because unless he at some point offers an explanation for everything that has happened these last few years I think this post is the last time I intend to write about him. It just makes me too sad to think about the Kanye we once had and the Kanye we have now.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

“Bad North,” is as Relaxed as it is Engaging

“Bad North,” is probably the cutest game you’ll ever find about Vikings killing each other. It has a very chill and breezy atmosphere and that is one reason I found it so charming. The other major reason I liked it was how fun the mixture of RTS (Real-Time Strategy) and Roguelike worked. You control little divisions of Viking troops that work in a vaguely rock-paper-scissors version with swordsman, archers, and pikemen. You go to a little island and position your troops to fight off invaders that want to raze the island (the RTS aspect. If you lose that’s okay because you can start a new game of randomly-generated islands with some of the special attributes gathered in previous games (that’s the Roguelike aspect).

Between juggling your troops, considering an island’s geography, and the aspect of special items plus the aforementioned traits there is a lot to consider as you play, but it never feels too overwhelming. You can make the game a good deal easier by allowing island restarts if you lose, and even if you don’t enable that borderline-too-powerful function you can flee lost islands or just lose and start over—“Bad North,” is fun enough you won’t mind such an occurrence. As I said, it’s all quite relaxed for a game full of battle and bloodshed. Some games say, “You lost and you suck at this game,” but, “Bad North,” goes, “Oh no, you lost. Want to try again using the skills you’ve now learned?”
With its matches upon islands not being too long either, “Bad North,” is a fantastic game to enjoy in little tasty bites of fun. The fact it never feels like a grind to keep dying and starting over with you instead excited to see what this new batch of islands holds is a testament to how, “Bad North,” manages to be a delightful bit of laid-back entertainment. I eagerly recommend it for your gaming console or computer of choice.
5 out of 5 stars

Friday, April 24, 2020

Film Friday: "Trolls: World Tour," Makes Some Smart Comments on Cultural Appropriation

We did a digital rental of, "Trolls: World Tour," recently as Clarkson loves the original, "Trolls," movie and we thought he'd like the second. It mostly kept his attention plus Samii and I found it cute as well. It also has a good message about how diversity is a good thing, using music as a metaphor for fighting efforts to make everyone the same. There is one incredibly clever twist in the movie too which I will spoil in case you want to eventually watch the flick without knowing too much plot, so you've been warned.

The basic plot of the movie is that the Queen of the Rock Trolls, Barb, is trying to gather all the music strings in an effort to turn everyone into a Rock zombie of sorts. Poppy (who has learned she's a Pop troll) has teamed-up with Branch and other Trolls from the first movie to put a stop to this. Midway through the movie, they meet the Funk trolls (led by Trolls voiced by George Clinton and Mary J. Blige) and propose they give the Pop trolls their strings to help fight Barb. The funk Trolls flatly refuse this, and their son (a prince voiced by Anderson .Paak) delivers a song about how the original villains were, in fact, the Pop trolls! The reason the strings Barb wants to gather were even separated in the first place was because the Pop trolls wanted to keep taking all the other Trolls' music and turning it into Pop. This is an ingenious metaphor for cultural appropriation.

There is a long history of various genres having their music taken and turned into a more, "Mainstream," or as .Paak's Troll puts it, "The Pop Trolls started snatchin' up all of the strings (oh no)/Put the melodies on top of poppy lil' beats/They cut us out of the scene." Those are some incredibly deep metaphors and the song itself he says them on, "It's All Love," is incredibly catchy too. and right above this paragraph for your steaming pleasure. It is a really clever piece of, "Trolls: World Tour," and the whole movie is quite fun too, but the twist is what really stands out to me for how deep it is.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The Insane Clown Posse Cares More About People's Health Than our President and Many Other Politicians

As you may be aware if you currently exist on this planet, we are in a major health crisis caused by COVID-19. It is a pandemic that has made it necessary for everyone who is able to stay home to do so in order to prevent widespread illness and death. Some morons think it is all hoax, that COVID-19 isn't that dangerous, or otherwise want the right to sit in crowded Olive Garden and possibly get sick as Hell from something besides too many breadsticks. These people have been protesting and seem to be supported by America's worst President, Donald Trump as well a number of Governors who want to, "Reopen," their states in the middle of this pandemic's peak. You know one demographic who are being responsible, however, and put all these politicians to shame? Juggalos.

Juggalos are a diverse group. They are basically anyone who considers themselves a fan of the rap group, "The Insane Clown Posse," be they white, black, male, female, young, old, whatever. I'll be honest, I don't like ICPs music at all, but I hear their annual, "Gathering of the Juggalos," which brings out many fans to see ICP, as well as other bands, stand-up comedians, and other entertainment, are off-the-wall events of fun. In the interest of public safety, however, ICP has canceled the 2020 Gathering of the Juggalos, stating how they, "REFUSE to risk even ONE Juggalo life by hosting a Gathering during these troubling times." They feel that the health and safety of everyone is more important than being able to party, and they want to be responsible as even one unnecessary death is one too many. Meanwhile, we have Republican (it's only the Republicans) politicians saying old people or those with weak immune systems should be willing to get sick and die in the name of the economy.

The moral of the story here is that ICP and Juggalos care more about public health and safety than a number of people in political power. I just want to thank Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope (those are the actual names they go by) for being responsible citizens and encouraging all the Juggalos to be safe and careful as well. ICP realizes we need to quarantine for everyone's safety, I just wish everyone else did too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Happy 50th Earth Day, Despite Things Currently Being a Hot Dumpster Fire on Our Planet

Earth has had its climate quite possibly forever ruined by our refusal to try and protect the environment and currently we are all facing a massive pandemic. This makes it a little tragic that today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and things are arguably a lot worse now than 50 years ago in a number of ways. Let's not be wholly negative, however, because I hate those people who say things like, 'Humans are the virus," and act like COVID-19 is some magical way of Earth repairing itself by wiping humans out or (even worse) a punishment from God.

This pandemic just helps illustrate how we need to care for our planet and make a better effort to try and plan for things like a Pandemic--something which Trump wholly messed-up to the degree America is now suffering from COVID-19 worse than any other country. Let's try and treat our planet better while also being ready for when things go totally wacky due to how unpredictable this crazy ball of rock and water we call Earth is.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

HBO MAX Launches on My Birthday, That's Kind of Neat

In news that made me a little tickled, HBO MAX will be launching on May 27th, 2020. That is the day of my birthday, and while I don't make a huge deal out of it, I get tickled anytime I see it as the date of some big event. It allows to me to do dumb jokes like, "They chose May 27th in honor of my birthday to launch HBO MAX!" I don't think we will get it, as we just have HBO Now (the current iteration before MAX launches) for a few weeks so that we can watch season 3 of, "Westworld," and then are going to cancel the subscription before it renews for a second month. I just am getting tired of there being so many streaming services to the point where things are absurdly fragmented--"We watch this show on this service, another show on the other service, then log on to something else too!" Still, even if I'm exhausted with new streaming services constantly emerging I am a bit amused to see HBO MAX will kick-off on my birthday.

Monday, April 20, 2020

A Writer at Business Insider Called the New Animal Crossing Game, "Dumb, Boring," and, "For Children."

Jack Crosbie at Business Insider absolutely ripped into, "Animal Crossing: New Horizons," and while I love the game, he makes some decent points in his takedown about improvements that could be made. The interface can be a little annoying, with things that should be easy taking a lot of menu-clicking (just let me use the craft table to make stuff in a batch instead of one-by-one, please), but saying it is, "A stupid baby game," is just harsh. Plus, games for kids can be good, just because a title is geared towards children that in no way means it has to lack quality. That's why I think the, "Animal Crossing," games are so beloved, they appeal to youth and adults. They're fun, quirky, and while they have some faults, they are lovely little ways to relax.

I respect Crosbie has his own opinion, but places such as Reddit and GameFAQS lit-up with enraged fans. Clearly, his tastes in games just differ from some folks, and that's okay! That said, Business Insider clearly wanted some press with this opinion piece featuring a lot of over-the-top wording, and attention they got.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

DC Comics Has Made People Angry With Their New Distribution Plan

DC just announced they planned to start releasing comics again at the end of April in smaller batches on Tuesdays. They said they had some new distributors, but it has turned out they are actually fronts for Midtown Comics and DCBS. That means companies that sell comics themselves are now also a distributor. Many comic stores are livid they have such short notice to order comics from DC, that these new distributors are basically competition, and well-known retailer and journalist Brian Hibbs had a long list of why he thinks this is a terrible idea.

Other publishers are blindsided, and everyone is unclear if DC is just switching-up distribution temporarily if once things settle down pandemic-wise we will see them work with Diamond and these new distributors (that was actually old companies)--oh, and will other publishers explore different distribution options too? This is complete and utter madness in comic-books when it comes to actually getting them to stores. Until we actually have books on shelves I myself am unsure what the future holds with so many different plans popping-up and then falling apart or being tweaked faster than folk can report.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

My Latest Comics To Get Fantastic Grades Thanks to The Comic Book Presser!

I am proud to present my latest batch of comics to get fantastic CGC grades thanks to my sending them to The Comic Book Presser! I've written about the fantastic work Chris does before, and these books stand as the latest testament to his quality. I had all four of them pressed and cleaned before they went to CGC and the results I got back were fantastic! You can see my, “Moon Knight,” #25  with a 9.6 which is fantastic for that all-black cover.

Then my, “Marc Spector Moon Knight,” #57 getting a 9.8 was wonderful. I'm sure the pressing made the difference between 9.8 or a lower grade. “Spider-Man Unlimited,” #1 got a nice 9.6 and it was a tad worn when he pressed it so that's stellar. Lastly, we have “Marvel Now! Point One,” #1 with the first Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel getting a 9.8 was just a cherry on top to this sundae of lovely grades for fantastic books! Thanks to Chris AKA The Comic Book Presser I get to be ecstatic about these fantastic grades.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Flashback Friday: "Hotline Miami," Remains a Strange and Grotesque Puzzle With One Tender Aspect That Stands Out

"Hotline Miami," first was released in 2012 and was an odd game. With purposely 16-bit styled graphics and a soundtrack styled after its setting of the 1980s, it follows a man getting mysterious phone calls sending him out to kill people whilst wearing Halloween-style animal masks. As the game wears on it is clear others are under this spell too and causing bloody mayhem.

The game is extremely violent with only the fact the graphics are purposely dated in appearance keeping things from being too hard to stomach. As your mysterious unnamed character rips through foes with knives, bats, and all kinds of guns the game gets a bit meta and talks about how the violence is arguably pointless and maybe just because, it asks, "Do you like hurting people?" The fact your character can easily die results in each level being a bit tricky, requiring fast reflexes and memorization due to constant failure, turning levels into weird little puzzles of death and destruction. It would be nothing but a cynical and dark game--albeit a fun one with a great soundtrack--were it not for its one and only sweet element that sticks out in my mind.
Fanart of the rescue scene in the game.
Your unnamed character--who wears a jacket and therefore is often referred to as, "Jacket," by the internet--embarks on one of his missions the mysterious phone calls instructs him to early in the game where he kills everyone in a mafia-styled drug den before stumbling upon a woman whacked out of her gourd on drugs who declares she doesn't even care if she dies, she's been ready for death for some time. She one of the few characters in the game you don't harm. Instead, you pick her up as Jacket and gently carry her to your car.

As the game jumps forward to various dates with other phone calls you actually see Jacket and this woman making a little life. She gets clean of drugs after crashing on his couch, relaxes in the tub, cleans the dingy apartment up, and watches television. She goes out sometimes and gets groceries it appears. They get another twin bed near Jacket's bed and they sleep by other but seem to be in a platonic relationship of sorts where Jacket saved her--for some reason we never really learn--and helped her turn her life around in some fashion.
They live together but it seems to not be exactly romantic so much as a close friendship.
We only get glimpses of this happy domestic life, as you still answer the phone, get the message to go kill people, and do just that. The life we don't see much of however actually seems to be a happy one of two friends trying to figure out a terrible World. It doesn't last. Towards the end of the game, you return home to discover another masked foe has killed this woman in your apartment and attempts to shoot you before you're able to break-out of the hospital you wake-up out of a coma in and wreak havoc across the city to kill this man being kept in protective custody, then proceeding to kill anyone else possibly to blame for everything (some rich gangster types).

There is an epilogue with a biker that attempts to provide some answers, but things are still pretty vague as the game ends. It starts bloody and nasty then ends that way, with only a brief hint of happiness in the middle that is abruptly snatched away. Something about Jacket and the unnamed woman sticks with me as the soft and gentle nature of it stands out starkly amongst all the rest of the violence.
More fanart imagining Jacket and the Girl
I replayed, "Hotline Miami," recently on the Nintendo Switch having tried it years ago on the computer. There was a really good sale so it was dirt cheap and I thought I'd revisit the game. The sequel was included in the game too, but I recall that got a lot less positive criticism than the original game, so I'm in no hurry to play it. The original, "Hotline Miami," with its weird mixture of gore, meta-commentary, and neon-drenched fights mixed with that small glimmer of sweetness is more than enough to tide me over for some time.

DC Comics Goes Non-Exclusive with Diamond Comic Distributors Amid the Pandemic

Huge news about comics today--besides how San Diego Comic-Con has been canceled for 2020--DC is going to go nonexclusive with Diamond Comic Distributors. Diamond has held a monopoly on comic distribution for a number of years now, but shut-down at the start of April due to COVID-19. It made a degree of sense with many comic stores not operating or running only curbside/delivery service. However, the fact there was no new product for stores to offer for curbside or delivery also was a sticking point, along with the main idea one single company stopping its flow of comics stopping everything being a pain. Well, DC is going to slowly start releasing comics as of April 28thwith two new distributors servicing various States and parts of Canada (no word yet on the UK where Diamond normally handles distribution too).

Diamond put out a press release expressing their displeasure at this move by DC, especially as they were hoping to start distributing comics again Mid-May--they basically say DC is jumping the gun in the politest-yet-pissed-off way possible. DC doesn't appear to be planning to stop working with Diamond entirely, they state while orders placed with Diamond for a chunk of April are canceled and now being resolicited with these new distributors, you can still place Diamond orders for future titles. These upcoming comics can go on sale Tuesdays at stores that are able to sell them (again, curbside and delivery being utilized one assumes) and the big question rising now is what Marvel, Image, and other larger publishers, as well as the smaller and indie ones, might do. Wait for Diamond to hopefully start slowly gearing back up in Mid-May or take action now? These are messy and tumultuous times for the comic-book industry for sure.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Sam Raimi Directing the New, "Doctor Strange," Movie Sounds Promising

Sam Raimi is a film director who has dabbled in everything from horror (the "Evil Dead," series) to superheroes, having done the initial, "Spider-Man," movies back in the early 2000s. He's skilled at crafting flicks and has been doing so for decades. This makes me eager to see what he'll do now that he's the director for, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," which will apparently be a delightful mixture of heroes-and-horror. I have discussed how despite some disliking it, I really enjoyed the first, "Doctor Strange," film, and with Raimi at the helm, I imagine the sequel will impress as well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

"American Psycho," is Uncomfortably Prescient

The movie, "American Psycho," came out 20 years ago and took place in the 1980s, but predicted a whole lot of the present. It follows a sociopathic murderer named Patrick Bateman who is able to easily hide his tendencies by hanging-out with another breed of sociopaths--stockbrokers and bankers. Christian Bale plays Bateman superbly and the film's Director Mary Harron has observed, "We never really left," the era of Patrick Bateman. Wall Street still is ruining lives and Republican politicians are eager to reopen the economy even if it kills people due to COVID-19 in the name of the almighty dollar. Plus, it is readily apparent how Trump and his children look like mirror images of Bateman, empty and hollow humans only after a quick fix of accolades or the satisfaction of hurting their, "Enemies."

The movie, "American Pyscho," was based upon a book, but the movie gets a lot more attention for its masterful mixing of the absurdly funny with the grotesquely dark for all to witness viscerally--everyone knows the Huey Lewis and the News scene thanks to memes, whether they've seen the flick or not. "American Pyscho," upon its release did not just represent the past, it predicted a good chunk of the future. Trump and his cronies may not be throwing chainsaws down stairwells at anyone, but they still are covered in plenty of metaphorical blood due to their policies.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

"Say So," by Doja Cat is Relentlessly Catchy

I've been a fan of Doja Cat since I first heard her viral hit, "Mooo!" which was made more as a joke than anything, but was pretty damn good. Her sophomore album, "Hot Pink," has a number of bangers, with, "Juicy," on the radio a lot and now, "Say So," is trending because it is so incredibly catchy. It has a surreal 70's funk sound (something the music video fully acknowledges with its old-school-looking film filter and vintage fashion) Cat singing a fun melody as well as doing her skilled rapping, and it otherwise really sticks in your head once you hear it. Not too long ago she was just messing around in front of a green screen with fans on live streams and now she's turning into a big star thanks to these fun ditties.

Monday, April 13, 2020

"Postal," By Boss Fight Books Examines an Awful Game Series With Excellent Skill

Boss Fight Books is a publisher who specializes in releasing little books that examine a particular game or series. They've done books on everything from, "Bible Adventures," to, "Meal Gear Solid," and plenty of other titles. Different authors work on each book, and it tends to be quite talented folk. The latest release is, "Postal," which examines one of the more infamous game series. A series I'm a little embarrassed to admit I played a good deal of.

"Postal," is one of those game series that wants to be offensive. The first game was a 3rd person isometric title where you blow-up everything and everyone for little reason. I only ever played the demo and found it decent at the time. "Postal 2," is an open-world title that thinks it is a bit like, "South Park," in how it tries to offend everyone whilst being self-aware and winking. It at times is fun and clever, but mostly comes off as crass and stupid. Teenager David loved it, thinking it was, "Edgy," and, "Not afraid to go there." Teenager David played hours of, "Postal 2," and believed it was genius how everyone was a target for jokes. 31-year-old David realizes that just being offensive for the sake of offense is a pointlessly silly endeavor.

The David of today loves gross-out humor, raunchy comedy, yes, but likes his satire and parody to have a point--you know, actually be satire or parody. The, "Postal," series wants you to find it funny because it's being outlandish, but it rarely has a point beyond, "I'm so edgy, I'm so shocking, laugh at how over-the-top I am!" This isn't to say there aren't some funny moments in, "Postal 2," which is the title I played the most, but it overall is kind of a bland game where you run around a poorly-rendered town doing fetch-quests thinly disguised as errands (buy milk, pay parking tickets, and so forth) while people start shooting at you should you step out of line in any way, and you then shoot back in-between tone-deaf jokes. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Authors Brock Wilbur and Nathan Rabin tackle different parts of, "Postal," with Wilbur talking primarily about the game series and Rabin discussing the movie adaptation that was directed by Uwe Boll--yes, the Uwe Boll. Wilbur discusses a lot of how the games work/don't work, but also is fortunate (depending on how you look at it) in that he is able to interview Vince Desi (the head of the company that developed the, "Postal," games, with the vaguely humorous name, "Running With Scissors,") and Mike J (a VP at the company). Desi is coarse, harsh, and mostly unpleasant, but just funny enough he's almost endearing in a miserable way. Mike J is more soft-spoken and careful in his wording, but clearly a bit of an asshole too, which he readily admits. Desi, Mike J, and the rest of their company know their games aren't the best and lack much quality, but they're proud to be offensive and otherwise, "Go there," for the sake of being able to say they made a tasteless joke, consequences be damned.

This is all while ignoring the fact there aren't consequences, nobody cares about their juvenile humor and overly-gross games anymore beyond some members of the media or politicians who vaguely recall these games stirring up controversy decades ago and want a target to blame for mass-shootings besides the actual problem of America having a horrific issue with regulating guns as well as keeping people from them who should have no access to such weaponry. Wilbur's half of the book is both fascinating and a bit funny while also being soul-crushingly depressing. That makes it pleasant that Rabin's half where he discusses the bonkers, "Postal," movie and actually interviews Uwe Boll is more surreal and funny than sad.

Uwe Boll is a movie director who is considered by many to be the worst director of all time. He found a loophole in the German tax code that allowed him to make movies for basically no cost as he could write-off the whole endeavor if his flicks flopped. He wanted to make genre films and noticed that genre films based on video-games did better than ones that were original. With all of this in his mind, he made terrible film adaptations of many video-games. His films were ravaged by critics and he raged against them for not understanding his art. The more Boll cursed and yelled at his critics the more he self-sabotaged himself from getting respect. He eventually quit making movies, and by the time Rabin interviews him he's still mad, but he's also tired. The Boll of 2019 or so is an exhausted and worn-out man. A man who defends his work still, but is also at a point where he's sadly accepted that people just don't like his stuff. This makes it all the more ironic that the, "Postal," movie is probably one of the better flicks he did.

"Postal," as a movie was a lot like the games in that it wants to be horrifically offensive. It was loaded with 9/11 jokes when that was still a very fresh wound, insults basically everyone it can, and sometimes actually manages to be just a little bit clever and almost heartfelt, before making fun of itself for hinting at anything resembling an earnest emotion (and then goes back to making tasteless jokes at the expense of basically any demographic you can think of). From what I've seen of it (I've watched a number of clips, but don't really want to sit through the whole thing), the movie ain't good, but it is competent enough that if you squint really hard you can almost see some good jokes and quality bits among the stupidity and trash--kind of like the games. Boll still defends, "Postal," as being one of his best works, and I guess that's true. However, "The best film by Uwe Boll," is still a really low bar to clear.

I've now spent quite a good deal of time talking about the book, "Postal," as well as my own thoughts on the series, "Postal," itself. I found reading the book a bit therapeutic as it allowed me to reconcile my current-day self that sees how empty the games were at their attempts to shock or antagonize with my teenager self who was unable to realize how, "Gross and offensive," did not necessarily equal, "Clever." We all did dumb stuff as teens we regret. For me it wasn't anything as dramatic as taking illicit drugs or getting arrested, it was adoring a game series that I now can see was quite stupid. Running With Scissors continues to make, "Postal," games with a 4th one in production, as the book discusses. It looks like it has the same humor of all the previous titles. It seems I grew up, but, "Postal," did not.
5 out of 5 stars.

I Guess I'm Watching, "The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart"

Lord help me, I'm going to watch the latest, "The Bachelor," spin-off tonight. I was originally thinking of skipping, "The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart," because it looked like a mini-series about a bunch of wannabe famous folk singing karaoke versions of popular songs (I don't think they produce anything original) and potentially having messy relationships. I watch, "The Bachelor," for the messy relationships but could do without so-so covers of popular songs, so why bother watching? Well, now the answer to, "Why bother watching," is, "Because we ain't getting any other, 'Bachelor,' content anytime soon."

Yes, with COVID-19 shutting everything down that delayed the production of the Clare Crowley season of, "The Bachelorette," that was due to premiere around May-ish. We also may very well not get a season of, "Bachelor in Paradise," this year either. This makes, "Listen to Your Heart," the only thing available to satiate my unending hunger for people acting like horny fools on television besides the upcoming Netflix show, "Too Hot to Handle," which also looks delightfully stupid (if the people dating touch at all they lose prize money). I'll be watching, "Listen to Your Heart," and I just hope it has more delightfully silly behavior than drab recitations of popular music. It's something, and at this point with so many shows delayed or temporarily canceled, I shan't be too greedy for a bit of dumb fun.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Happy Easter and Passover

Today we have both Easter and the midpoint of Passover. Should you celebrate one, both, or neither of the holidays that's perfectly fine--as long you celebrate/don't celebrate them while still practicing social distancing. I am enraged to hear of churches (no synagogues seem to be doing this) where they'll still have big ol' services today thanks to insisting they are exempt from health and safety rules designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is different, but stay home, and stay safe. God/Jesus/etc. will understand.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Saturday Night Live is Back Today, In Some Form

"Saturday Night Live," aired its last live show on March 7th when Daniel Craig hosted and The Weeknd performed music. Then they took some time off as the show does for a week here-and-there. Except, then they didn't come back because COVID-19 spread alarmingly and shut down almost all of the World. However, SNL is back today, at least in some form. The show will apparently be live and done remotely, meaning everyone will be broadcasting skits on Zoom, or something? I'm not sure what exactly SNL is going to be doing, but it will probably be interesting. It may not be funny or it might be hilarious, but it'll surely be noteworthy. Plus, I am 99% there will be a, "Tiger King," sketch or at least a handful of jokes about the documentary. We will see tonight just what SNL has planned and hopefully there are some solid jokes in store. We all need a good laugh.

Friday, April 10, 2020

April 2020 Links: All Video-Game Edition

Spending April at Home
I have been playing a smidgen more video-games with us all cooped-up due to the pandemic, and there seems to be a lot of interesting news relating to games lately too. With that in mind, I thought  I would make a post full of links to gaming news to switch things up/keep things fresh.

All About Gaming
One thing I had not considered about the upcoming next generation of video-game consoles and the potential increase in VR technology (it seems dead then gets a resurgence in popularity) is how the production of these consoles in mass quantities to meet demand may really hurt the environment. Hopefully, steps will be taken to reduce a potential carbon footprint.

The main reason I saved-up for a Nintendo Switch was to play, "Animal Crossing," but this list of some of the best games on the console shows there are other stellar titles to give a try.

While we are on the subject of, "Animal Crossing," it has been observed some characters mention features that are not yet in the game. Is it a glitch, a hint about updates? We shall see!

I've been looking forward to the release of, "Cyberpunk 2077," and was saddened but understood when some time ago it was announced it would release in September instead of April. You'd think it would be delayed again due to COVID-19, but nope, it is actually still on-track for a September release!

Speaking of COVID-19 and infectious illnesses, remember that, "Corrupted Blood," disease which infected characters in, "World of Warcraft," back in 2005 and required all the servers be reset to wipe it out? If only we could do a quick reset on our planet now to edit out COVID-19 with some quick programming.

It is funny to think there are, "Wholesome," takes on some really violent or over-the-top games. They can be a clever way to introduce younger gamers or those who are opposed to too much gore to some fun gameplay styles, however.

One of the less-known titles made by popular creator Hideo Kojima was, "Boktai: The Sun Is in Your Hand!" It was a Game Boy Advance title that required you to play it in the sun so that its sensor could, "Absorb," sunlight you used in the game to fight monsters. It was a clever idea that was well ahead of its time and was hard to play if you lived in certain regions with long winters (I struggled immensely at it living in New York State at the time). However, if you lived in Puerto Rico as a child you had abundant sunshine, as this piece discusses.

Let's shift from a less-known game by Kojima to his most controversial one. Yep, it's time for a retrospective on, "Metal Gear Solid 2."

Time to close with a link to a book about a video-game. Boss Fight Books makes fascinating titles where authors write essays on games, and their latest release discusses the immensely controversial and sometimes fun and clever but often pointlessly crass and dull, "Postal," series. I ordered the book and look forward to its arrival in the mail.

Stay Safe and Stay Socially Distanced
I hope you're all staying safe and keeping your distance from anyone you don't already live with. Let's continue trying to make the most of this quarantine by finding the fun in it where possible, such as with all these fun video-games.

Vault Releases a Free Coloring Book With Art From Their Comics Because Why Not?

There may be no weekly comics right now due to the pandemic, but it seems Vault doesn't want us too depressed/bored because they've been kind enough to release a free printable coloring book featuring images from and related to their comics. Vault publishes some fun books, with their title, "Money Shot," being my favorite new series of 2019. It is kind of them to offer this coloring book, and it has a lower resolution version for coloring with crayons/markers/pencils and a super-high resolution version should you want to color it in a computer program like Adobe Photoshop or such. Grab your free copy here and get to coloring!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Newly Unveiled PlayStation 5 Controller Is Really Ugly

It has not been revealed exactly what the PlayStation 5 itself will look like, but its recently revealed controller, the Dualsense, is hideous. I'm not going to mince words, it is unattractive, and the rest of the internet sees all kinds of funny things staring at it too. I'm glad it adds new features like, "A sense of touch," to gameplay with haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and other fancy words for it giving feedback to your hands based on what occurs in-game. That said, it still is as ugly as sin. I guess it could be worse. At least it isn't the original Xbox controller.

The thing that irritates me the most about it is how I feel like Sony wanted something futuristic in appearance but the result looks more clinical and dull than it does sleek and modern. The thing looks almost medical in appearance, and medical stuff ain't sexy (unless you have a fetish for it, in which case you do you). I'm not opposed to change, I think Sony usually upgrades their controllers quite well. Plus, this new Dualsense could very well handle great. That doesn't change the fact it got beat with the ugly stick, though.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Support the AGFA for Less Than a Dollar and Get Some Wild Genre Film Footage to Stream and Enjoy

The American Genre Film Archive is a non-profit near and dear to my heart. I love weird old genre flicks, the weirder and trashier the better. I like to read about them, watch them, and otherwise am fascinated by strange flicks. The AGFA is the only Federally recognized 501(c)(3) dedicated to the preservation of the legacy of genre movies through collection, conservation, and distribution. They have a fancy building in Texas that restores and stores these films which they rent to theaters as well, with all profits going back into the organization and its mission. However, with theaters shut-down, they have been needed a bit of extra help to raise funds. With this in mind, they just released their awesome, "AGFA MYSTERY MIXTAPE #1."

For just 99 cents (or more, I gave five bucks) you can buy the ability to stream this, "Mixtape," online with an hour-ish or random weird genre content in a zany, "Found footage," style. As the description goes, it is, "...a brand new compilation of the most electrifying found footage mayhem that you’ll see this week. For our kick-off tape, we’ve curated an hour-long joyride through the hallowed halls of 'behind the scenes' horror." For a penny less than a dollar (do give more if able, however) you can feel good about donating to charity and get some awesome zany old film content to watch. I donated and am eager to kick-back later today and watch the whole thing after just enjoying a smidgen before needing to do some household tasks, and then making this post. Gotta keep busy during the quarantine, you know how it is.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Bill Jemas Always Has Interesting Plans

Bill Jemas is an interesting man. He did a lot for Marvel in the early 2000s to save the company, later on launched a fascinating comic-universe for the video-game publisher Double Take that ended up sadly dying a nasty death due to corporate infighting, and then someone gave him a lot of money to recruit other folks with comic knowledge and AWA was formed. In a tragic twist, almost right after the week after AWA started releasing comics (the ones I read are pretty fun) Diamond shut down comic distribution. That hasn't stopped Jemas and AWA, however. While some publishers are dramatically scaling-back ideas for titles to publish, Jemas is a man who always has plans. They are trying to hire those with skills in journalism and nonfiction writing for undisclosed projects (e.g. comics that aren't announced yet).

Bill Jemas is a man who seems to either achieve incredible success or astounding failure. No matter how things go they are always interesting, and he always has plans. I'm quite interested in seeing what he does next. Plus, I'm a journalist and have a pitch for a vaguely autobiographical comic focused on a shlubby blogger who ends up solving mysteries such as, "Who finished the almond milk?" Hire me for a project, Bill, you (most likely) won't regret it!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Scott Lobdell is Giving Away Free Signed Comics

This is pretty cool, fun, and all-around classy. Scott Lobdell has been sending a free signed comic to anyone who asks for one on Instagram and gives him their address in a message. He's done this a number of weeks and asks nothing in return (not even shipping, near as I can tell). I've actually already got something signed by Scot Lobdell, I met him at a previous comic show! It was the now (sadly) defunct Project Comic-Con. He was extremely nice and humorous, so it makes sense he'd do something cool like this.

When I first met Scott, I told him how I was covering the show for my blog. He responded with a playful, "You ever say anything mean about me?" I somewhat sheepishly said, "No, but maybe DC," as he was writing a lot for DC at the time. He emitted a big laugh and said, "Well, that's fair." He clearly continues to be an awesome guy and I applaud him for doing something to bring smiles to folk's faces during the Worldwide quarantine.

I Watched, "Venom," and It Was Decent

I watched, "Venom," because I like Tom Hardy and I checked it out from the library before everything shut-down due to the quarantine. Without Tom Hardy I might find it bit a lacking, but thanks to his presence I found the flick enjoyable. Hardy plays a reporter named Eddie Brock who ends-up fighting an evil rich guy obsessed with technology (kind of like an Elon Musk who doesn't mind murdering people) by bonding with a space alien named Venom. It's dumb fun and it has Woody Harrelson in a huge red wig in the mid-credits scene to set-up a future movie with Venom's foe/offspring, Carnage. Plus, Tom Hardy jumps in a vat of live lobsters and eats one after bonding with the alien because he's always hungry, that was funny.

Frankly, I'm just amazed a, "Venom," movie works without the character interacting with Spider-Man as in the comics Spidey basically defines a lot of who Venom is as a character. Also, besides the Venom symbiote resulting in over-the-top effects, "Venom," itself doesn't really feel like a super-hero movie. It is more of a thriller-comedy with a weird alien thrown-in. Plus, the movie honestly does take a little too long to get to the actual, "Venom bonding with Eddie," part about 1/3 of the way into the movie. All-in-all it was not a bad way to spend about 2 hours.
3 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Lock Your Damn State Down

With Trump refusing to issue a Nationwide stay-at-home/shelter-in-place order for everything except, "Essential," services, it has fallen to States to do so. Most have, although some waited way too long (like my own state of Missouri which had a number of counties smartly locking things down, but the whole State waited till recently). That said, a chunk of places are refusing to take the action needed to keep their citizens safe, and that's beyond stupid. Arguments about, "Government intrusion," or, "Protecting the economy," seem to override the logic of saving lives by preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Lock your damn state down before it finds itself suffering from levels of this virus that result in widespread death due to a lack of resources to help all the people who will inevitably flood your hospitals. It just amazes me to see Science and reason to casually disregarded in favor of, "We'll let people die in the name of Freedom!" lines of thinking.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

$250,00 Being Given to Comic-Book Stores by DC

In a rare bit of joyful/good news from the comic-book market which is (currently at a standstill with much of the planet right now due to COVID-19), DC Comics will be giving $250,000 to a number of comic-book stores through the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. The BINC is a nonprofit whose stated goal is to assist booksellers (including comic retailers) and their employees in times of need. There is without a doubt a great deal of need right now so I applaud DC for this action. After all, if we lose a lot of comic stores due to COVID-19 there won't even be anyplace to sell comics. Anyways, there was some happy news to break-up the constant bad stuff.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Film Friday/Flashback Friday: "Doctor Strange," is a Great Movie

I put off seeing, "Doctor Strange," for quite a while after it came out. I did this because I heard how it was a shoddy film. People said it was just a retread of, "Iron Man," with magic, it was dull, Benedict Cumberbatch was mediocre, and all these terrible things. I finally saw it in 2019, about three years after its initial 2016 release, and...loved it. This wasn't a fluke, it has held-up to rewatchings and I have to say, "Doctor Strange," is a damn good film.

It is a bit like, "Iron Man," in the idea of a jerk learning responsibility is a key plot point, but that's like saying, "Star Wars," is the same type of movie as, "Lord of the Rings," because they both feature a big quest (taking down the Death Star/returning a magic ring to a Mordor). Plus, Benedict Cumberbatch does a stellar job, coming across a good mix of cocky at first as a highly-skilled surgeon, then desperate after he needs help to repair his hands due to a nasty car accident, followed-by thoughtful once he begins mastering his powers. Oh, and the special effects are incredible, with people fighting in warped cityscapes, jumping through portals, and the scene where time starts to rewind towards the end is fantastic as well. Plus, "Doctor Strange," avoids one of the biggest problems found in Marvel movies, a boring climax.

Often in Marvel flicks everything builds-up to a big fight with the main villain which ends up being an over-the-top display of special effects that goes on way too long. That ain't the case in this movie. Instead, Doctor Strange uses his smarts to trap the big baddie (the demonic Dormammu) in a time-loop until he agrees to give up so that he and Strange aren't caught infinitely in a stalemate. Instead of some crazy long-winded fight, the hero wins with their smarts in Marvel movie, how cool is that?

"Doctor Strange," is by no means perfect. Rachel McAdams is a stellar actress who is given little to do as Strange's on-again, off-again girlfriend, and the last-second reveal of another Infinity Stone comes across as a bit of, "Oh yeah, we have to tie this in with the Avengers,"-moment. That said, "Doctor Strange," is easily one of my top Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and seeing how much disdain it receives online honestly befuddles me. I guess I'm just different in thinking this and, "Iron Man 2," are a lot better than many claim.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Bad Idea Comics Adjusts Their Debut Date, Does Other Interesting Stuff

I've been following the company Bad Idea Comics with a close eye. I continue to not be sure if their idea of distributing comics directly to 100 specifically picked stores that have strict rules about selling them will work to hype-up demand or make their books basically impossible to get for many folks and leave them with little interest. Now, with Diamond shut down suddenly the direct shipping idea seems pretty clever, but the super-limited shops do lead one to wonder how this will shake out. Then again, they admit in their own name it might just be a terrible idea.

They have some quality creators on board, so I think the books might be cool. It should be noted they now have announced due to comic stores being shut down many places due to COVID-19 they will push back their May release date for their first comic, "Eniac," to later on. They won't be just sitting about though, they have ideas for other books and their creators are actually working on more products now--probably due to some publishers outright stopping any production, period/"Pencils down." I also admire that $25,000 will be distributed evenly between the 100 stores getting the first launch of comics from Bad Idea and some other stores that will be assisting with the second wave of launches(so $250 each or so, which is a nice chunk of change to help with bills for stores struggling to make any money right now).

In conclusion, it is interesting to see Bad Idea is basically doubling their production plans for comics while other companies really scale-back due to the pandemic. I'm sure the creators who work with Bad Idea appreciate being able to do the work they love and I think its cool Bad Idea is giving money to the stores that are working with them to support this endeavor of releasing comics a slightly different way. I continue to be intrigued by all this, that's for sure.

Deadpool and, "Fortnite," Coming Together Should Work Well

The equally beloved and reviled comic-book character/movie star Deadpool will be appearing within the game, "Fortnite," in the near future. This makes a twisted sort of sense as both Deadpool and, "Fortnite," are often made into memes that serve as dumb humor despite both being a bit deeper than they would appear at first glance. I haven't played, "Fortnite," in a good long while, but I know it continues to be popular and have a lot of weird tie-ins that sometimes make sense and sometimes do not. Deadpool showing-up at least fits the general zany tone of, "Fortnite," however, I'd say. He will be in the game on April 3rd (tomorrow), either as a new mode, playable character, quest, or something--he'll be there, I the general point.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Don't Compare Your Animal Crossing Town to Other Ones

Apparently, a game where the main focus is to catch bugs, fish, plant flowers, decorate, and otherwise chill is making people stress because social media has them distraught how their town looks compared to other people. Yes, "Animal Crossing: New Horizons," is a great game and the whole point is to make a nice little town on a deserted island for yourself and some humanoid animals. However, because it is now easier to visit a friend's house or you can simply go on Twitter and see some amazing creations, it makes some people go into a tailspin of self-doubt when they consider how their house/clothing designs/flower setup looks against other people's works.

It's okay, seriously. Just make your own little town and don't freak out if your house looks like a mish-mash of 5 different decorating styles, your flowers lack any fencing, the museum in your town has little donations, or all the fruit trees are strewn about your island as opposed to being planted in a tidy orchard. The point of this, "Animal Crossing," game and any other is to just enjoy yourself. My town is pretty messy, but I like it. It's mine and I have tended to its weeds, caught its small museum collection, and built my home's weird array of furniture and decorations. I'm proud of it, regardless of what I see on Twitter or how amazing the islands of some of my friends are when I visit. Just relax, people.