Today is Memorial Day. We honor our fallen soldiers who died defending our Nation. I often do not agree with the military decisions our country makes, but I support our troops who follow those sometimes-inane orders to their best abilities in an effort to protect us all. It's not just a day off, it is a day to remember why we have our freedoms.
Monday, May 31, 2021
Sunday, May 30, 2021
I always like examining new social media or item-selling apps. Some start strong and then fade away--remember Ello? Others have been around and are pretty popular still--folks love Twitch and now are allowed to be good-looking on it too if they can't help appearing sexy. TikTok is a juggernaut in the social media space as well and I need to try and make more little videos for it. Well, now there is a newer streaming platform called Whatnot, and it is pretty snazzy. I would describe Whatnot as if Facebook Live or another live-streaming app had a baby with eBay. It is earlier in its existence to you have to apply and be approved to stream, but anyone can tune in to shows. If you've got payment information entered you can take part in auctions or, "Buy it now," items.
The app right now has a heavy focus on collectibles such as Funko Pops, Pokemon cards, sports cards, and a smaller (but enjoyable) comic-book presence. Sellers are rated like on eBay and I've bought some cheaper comics that have arrived in the condition promised. With auctions, people sometimes seem to have a tendency to overbid, so something you'd hope to get cheap goes for a lot more--that's great for sellers but bad for you if you're after a collectible for a cheaper price! I've still been able to get some neat things for stellar prices by tuning into the right steam at the time--I got a first printing set of some issues from, "The Department of Truth," for well below the current trending price for those issues.
As someone who enjoys selling stuff on various sites, I would love to be able to stream on Whatnot and have in fact applied to be a streamer. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy watching streams as many of the people doing shows are pretty cool and fun to watch even if you aren't buying anything. Should you be into collectibles or just like checking out new social media apps, I'd recommend giving Whatnot a viewing on the smart device of your choice.
Saturday, May 29, 2021
I've been talking about some neat Kickstarter campaigns lately as a variety of cool ones have been happening. One I was notified of via a press release from the publisher (Atthis Arts LLC.) is, "Alia Terra - Stories from the Dragon Realm." Presented in English as well as Romanian with gorgeous illustrations (the first thing that caught my eye), I was also intrigued by the content. The Kickstarter describes how, "We present to you a book of three all-ages queer fairy tales highlighting nonbinary characters, aromanticism, and personal acceptance, written by Romanian author Ava Kelly." Ava Kelly is the writer and they have their words illustrated beautifully by Matthew Spencer. Friend of the blog, E.D.E Bell, is the editor.
The lush illustrations are fantastic and I love fairy tales--with the addition of them featuring characters that are LGBTQAI+ being really cool. There are digital as well as print levels for backers, plus other cool levels with stellar items. I'd encourage you to give the Kickstarter a look at this link and to back it if you'd like!
Friday, May 28, 2021
Many music artists have been referred to as having a, "Sophmore slump." That means the follow-up album to a big debut ends up being less impressive than the first LP. Well, OutKast didn't release a mediocre follow-up at all, instead of something weak they gave us something fascinatingly weird. While, "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik," was a mixture of bragging, beats, and some aspects of conscious rap, "ATLiens," took Big Boi and Dre (again, he wasn't yet Andre 3000) and took them being young adults living in Atlanta to cosmos traveling space aliens, or, "ATLiens." The result was amazing.
"ATLiens," was released on August 27, 1996. It came with a fun mini-comic, which is the first thing you notice looking at the cover-it's like a comic-book cover! Big Boi and Dre recorded it at an assortment of studios from 95'-early 96' and went form giving us a Southern funky rap LP to something with outer-space effects, hints of gospel, drugged-out rock, and some amazing raps that showed how the duo was growing lyrically. "ATLiens," also marked the first time Big Boi and Dre took over some aspects of production for the songs, not just rapping, but making the songs themselves (a trend that would continue as they become more and more involved in their track's productions). The metaphor of feeling like an alien in America spoke to critics who read it as talking about how being Black in America can feel a lot like you don't belong, aren't truly accepted, and often greeted with suspicion or disdain...just like a space alien. "ATLiens," wasn't just beloved critically, it was a commercial hit that sold a ton of copies and is still considered by many critics and regular people alike to be among the best hip-hop albums of all time.
"ATLiens," has for years been my favorite OutKast album. Sometimes when I listen to other later LPs I find myself questioning that decision a little, but even if it were to tie with next week's album (Aquemini) or their indelible, "Speakerboxx/Love Below," that isn't a slam against, "ATLiens," it just is an illustration of how with this LP OutKast started firing on all cylinders and didn't let up for years. It all kicks off with the solemn singing on, "You May Die (Intro)," which hints how living that gangster life can lead to an early death, basically having OutKast say from the start, "We're moving away even further from partying and playa-focused shenanigans, it's time to dig into the tough stuff." Then we move into, "Two Dope Boyz (In a Cadillac)," and it shows even if we're getting more serious lyrically, we can still bump some serious beats. The whole first half of, "ATLiens," is amazing, not misstepping for quite a bit, and this first full track serves as the first big testament to OutKast getting even more skilled lyrically and exploring soundscapes further with its thumping bass, space-sounding effects, and the general blend of having some fun but talking about real shit too. The title track then arrives with, "ATLiens," and moves at such a brisk and impressive pace you want to hit repeat once it raps.
Then we hit, "Wheelz of Steel," which has the best bassline I have ever heard in a rap song in my opinion, just strumming along passionately. Then as the song ends we get some stellar turntable scratching and the whole thing is just lovely. After that, we get even more amazing music via, "Jazzy Belle," which has a quiet sincerity in the beats and melody mixed with Big Boi and Andre worrying about what the future holds for our youth in this current culture focused on immediate gratification--even more relevant now. That leads into the big hit single (and the only track from, "ATLiens," to actually be on the, "Greatest Hits," release), "Elevators (Me & You). It's a song that slowly unwinds its deep complexity and is infinitely listenable. "Ova Da Wudz," is solid and features Witchdoctor on an intense chorus, and then things kind of come to a screeching halt with, "Babylon." The chorus has a nice singing to it, but it can't quite sync up with the beats and the whole thing is just messy; I don't care for it.
We pick back up a bit with, "Wailin," and its minimalist sound, then kind of lose the momentum again with the middling, "Mainstream," that should be so much better than is with some members of Goodie Mob on the track. "Decatur Psalm," picks stuff up a bit more with another segment of Goodie Mob involved, then there's the purely okay, "Millenium." Then there's the kind of dull and droning, "E.T. (Extraterrestrial)." At this point we've had a killer first seven tracks, then things have gotten wobbly, but it all comes to a great close with the stellar, "13th Floor/Growing Old," which is just a beautiful song between thoughtful raps and a gorgeously sung chorus. Last is a nice little remix of, "Elevators," or the, "ONP 86 Mix," and then the album is done after the bonus-feeling track (though it's listed on the liner notes so it isn't really a hidden or bonus track per se). It's quite a journey of an LP and a wild evolution from the first album to this one.
"ATLiens," showed that OutKast was here to stay and not a flash in the pan. With two amazing albums under their belt, the big question was what could possibly come next? Next week we'll discuss the answer, "Aquemini."
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Today I turn 33 years old. The year I turned 32 was incredibly difficult between the COVID-19 pandemic and the many loved ones we lost, but despite some challenges it has already brought, 2021 has been immensely better and I hope it continues to be a year of rebuilding and remembering the things that bring us joy in life.
As always, I am ecstatic to share my birthday with Andre 3000 of OutKast, one half of the duo that makes up the greatest musical group of all time. I just learned today Gladys Knight claims this day as her birthday too. Other notable folks with their birthdays today include Paul Bettany AKA The Vision, horror movie scream queen Linnea Quigley, and that YouTube guy the kids love, Stevin John/Blippi. Quite an assortment.
Thank you everyone for the warm birthday wishes I've already received and will doubtlessly get more of. I love and appreciate you all! Let's make the most of this birthday and the (hopefully) many more coming!
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
I've previously written about liking the comic, "Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia." It is a fun blend of sci-fi, action, and humor. I was excited to get a press release announcing how it has begun a Kickstarter campaign for a trade paperback that collects the entire mini-series (plus bonus material). The plot follows a wrestler named “Rock ‘n’ Roll” Rory Landell who on a lark declares himself the, “Galactic champion of the universe." However, that sparks an actual intergalactic war with a planet of aliens for whom wrestling is their way of life. Mayhem ensues. Assuming the rest of the mini-series is as good as the first two issues this is bound to be a great read! I'd encourage you to check out the Kickstarter and support it should you find your interest piqued!
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
"Space Jam," Meets, "Fright Night," in a New Comic Title, "Old Head," by Kyle Starks and That Sounds Awesome
Kyle Starks is a fantastic comic creator whether he's writing, drawing, or doing both. He has a new original graphic novel titled, "Old Head," coming in August (published by Image) that sounds like a real treat. The press release for it says, "Perhaps best described as Space Jam meets Fright Night, this hilarious new story follows a former basketball star when he returns home for his mother’s funeral. What he doesn’t expect is to learn of her mysterious past, his destiny, and to find himself embroiled in a decades-long blood feud with Dracula himself."
Starks goes on to say within the release, "I'm really excited for folks to finally get to read, 'Old Head,' an examination of legacy and toxic masculinity viewed through the lens of a father and daughter fighting sex monsters." An exploration of toxic masculinity? Sex monsters? Yes, please! I'll be keeping an eye out for, "Old Head," and would encourage you to ask your favorite comic-book store/bookshop to get you a copy!
Monday, May 24, 2021
The, "Eternals," movie is due this November and a trailer for it has been released. You can see it above. The actual, "Look," of it is really nice, but this is a teaser trailer in every sense of the word because it reveals basically nothing about the plot. There is just lots of asethetically-pleasing set design, outfits, some neat special effects, and a voice-over about the Eternals refusing to meddle with humanity, "UNTIL NOW!" Why they are going to be involved with humans moreso now is--as I mentioned-unclear, but I like much of the cast and anything Marvel has put out in their cinematic universe is watchable (yes, even, "Thor: The Dark World," is moderately enjoyable). I assume this will be fun and it will, of course, make tons of money.
Sunday, May 23, 2021
Twitch is a popular streaming platform. I've watched it a handful of times to see people play games and such, but I'm not huge on watching other people play games usually. I know it is really popular with, "The young folks," these days, however. Sometimes people on Twitch aren't even playing games, they are just chatting at viewers, its a whole thing. Even if I don't use Twitch a lot or play games as much as I used to, I still follow gaming news a lot. It seems the internet was in a row over if people who look sexy can play games and make money (apparently if you have enough Twitch followers you can get ads and monetize the channel) while playing these games wearing swimsuits in a hot tub. Twitch ruled it is okay to look sexy and play games, as long as you aren't being sexually explicit, something Twitch will work to further clarify. The official statement went: “While we have guidelines about sexually suggestive content, being found to be sexy by others is not against our rules, and Twitch will not take enforcement action against women, or anyone on our service, for their perceived attractiveness."
Now, Twitch has a new category where you can stream yourself hanging out and playing games or whatever from a hot tub or the beach. Whether you're sexy or ugly, you can stream on Twitch, you just can't get sexual, it seems? Whatever the case, I'm glad someone as good-looking as me can now stream on Twitch without getting in trouble. What? Some people think I'm handsome!
Saturday, May 22, 2021
I always like to spotlight local places I enjoy as a chunk of my readers are in the Saint Louis region where I live. One store I've been enjoying going to is, "Nuts and Candy," which, as its name implies, sells a variety of delicious roasted nuts and domestic as well as imported candies. They're at 14632 Manchester Road here in Ballwin and I always love stopping by.
The seasoning on the assorted nuts is always amazing, the variety of candy and chocolates is mouth-watering, and everyone who works there is so incredibly nice. If you're ever in Ballwin and need some nuts or candy I'd 100% recommend visiting!
Friday, May 21, 2021
My favorite musical group of all time is OutKast. I was thinking some time ago it would be fun to spend one Friday each week in a row looking at all seven of their albums. I may put up posts up on those Fridays too, of course, but for seven weeks you can expect me to discuss an OutKast album and what my thoughts are on it. As this is the first week we are going to discuss the first album, "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik."
Yes, Outkast's debut is all one word and it's a mouthful. As the song with the same title on the LP says it slowly, however, you can too. Southern-playa-listic-cadillac-muzik. It grabs your attention just like how Outkast grabbed everyone's attention before their first LP even dropped with the single, "Player's Ball." That single came out during the holiday season of 1993 and was so catchy they decided to tweak some of the lyrics that directly referenced Christmas so that the track could work year-round. If you listen closely you can kind of notice some aspects that still sound Christmas-y, but it's less obvious. The actual album, "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik," was released April 26th of 1994 and was a hit.
It earned OutKast Best New Rap Group at the 1995 Source awards. Dre (he wasn't yet Andre 3000 until after the third album came out and was going moreso by Dre) gave his short speech that actually is played as a clip on the third LP, "Aquemini," where he states, "...the South got something to say, that's all I got to say." A brief but firm statement in the 90s that it wasn't all East Coast and West Coast. People loved Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik with its mixture of more mainstream-sounding raps about pimps and cars mixed with some of the conscious and introspective rhymes OutKast would become even more known for later on. How does it stand up today, almost 30 years later? It still fucking bumps.
Sometimes you listen to an artist's first album and you almost feel embarrassed. It is clear they were figuring things out and there were growing pains. That isn't the case with, "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik." Rare misstep of a track aside, it is a damn solid EP. The first actual song after the, "Peaches," monologue, "Myintrotoletuknow," shows off dizzying skill from the opening gate, and then we get into the certified banger, "Ain't No Thang," which features boastful raps about beating up anyone who dares challenge Big Boid and Andre, but it is joyfully self-aware, with Andre cracking-up at one point in the song before the chorus. Then we get an interlude, "Welcome to Atlanta," where a pilot landing a plane gives us an overview of Georgia, full of uncomfortable pauses after observations about how the capital still flies the Confederate battle flag. Next is the titular track, funky and slow as it tells us about that Cadillac muzik. Then the first clunker happens.
I just do not really dig, "Call of da Wild." It's clunky, the melody and beat never sync up well, and guest rappers on the track, Goodie Mob, are wasted and used to much better effect later on the LP. Thankfully, right after it is the joyful, "Player's Ball," which always gets me moving and grooving. "Claimin' True," follows it and is a solid track, then a brief interlude humorous titled, "Club Donkey Ass."
Yet another interlude ("True Dat,") is followed by the forlorn, "Crumlin' Erb,") which is a good track but drags a little. As we near the end of the album, "Hootie Hoo," emerges and just impresses the senses with its imposingly creeping bass and the repetition of the phrase, "Hootie hoo." Then we get the too-long and kinda dull, "D.E.E.P." the only other song on the album I just don't really like. Finally, we close with the, "Player's Ball (Reprise)," which is a remix of sorts to the first, "Player's Ball," with a bit more piano and singing. It's nice.
"Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik," is an amazing album and if it had been put out by a lesser artist might very well be considered their best LP of all time. OutKast though? They were just getting started. Join me next week as we make a big shift in themes and go from planet Earth to outer space with, "ATLiens."
Thursday, May 20, 2021
I Agree With an Insurance Company CEO on Medicaid Expansion. Has Missouri's Government Messed-up that Badly?
So, I love my state of Missouri, but it has problems. For example, the voters approved an expansion to Medicaid and the federal money was provided for it, but the state Senate and House (which are Republican-controlled) simply refused to assign the funds to the Medicaid expansion so it isn't happening. That's right, the will of the people was subverted by the very senators and representatives we voted for to do what we vote in favor of. Governor Parson, to his (very minimal) credit, said he would sign the Medicaid expansion into law if funds were assigned as it was the will of the people, but our legislature said, "Screw that," and simply didn't do what we voted to have done. This has angered someone who I'm surprised I agree with.
The CEO of Centene is Michael F. Neidorff and the company has its headquarters in Saint Louis, Missouri. They provide insurance, health benefits, etc. He has openly stated that Missouri not funding the Medicaid expansion is an, "Embarrassment," and has asked what his company is doing in a state that doesn't want its services. You see, Medicaid is a government program, but Centene helps with private and public coverage. They would admittedly benefit from a bunch of new people being on Medicaid as it would give them more funds from the government to cover these people--this isn't just the goodness of their heart that has them mad. Still, Centene and its CEO are right, it an embarrassment that Missouri isn't doing what people voted for and it does make the state look pretty unwelcoming to a company that would be more than ready to help provide Medicaid to hundreds of thousands in need. Neidorff is threatening to have his company outright leave the state and it may be an empty threat or something Centene makes good on. I'm just amazed I agree so much with an insurance company CEO on anything, and that shows just how badly Missouri has messed up.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Back in the day, I would watch magician Criss Angel do all kinds of weird, gross, and sometimes body-harming tricks on his show, "Mindfreak." Apparently, he is still around and going to open an oddly named restaurant titled, "Cablp." The name makes a little sense once it's explained it stands for, 'Criss Angel's Breakfast, Lunch, and Pizza." As someone who really likes breakfast as well as pizza (and I enjoy a good lunch), the general idea sounds nice. I also approve of the idea that pizza will (I assume) always be an option regardless of the time of day. Cablp will be in Overton, Nevada, which is around 60 miles outside of Vegas.
Apparently, "Angel will use the space as a magic room, where he and his friends will perform, while Cablp will also participate in a youth job program and a free meal outreach program to feed families in need and families of pediatric cancer patients." So, he's giving to good causes, doing freaky magic, and I can eat pizza? That sounds like a pretty good time to me. The food business is, of course, known for being quite hard, so I hope Angel is going in with realistic expectations and a good game plan/budget. I wish him the best and if I'm ever in Overton for some reason I'll try some pizza at Cablp.
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
John Ridley is an immensely talented screenwriter and director. He also writes some damn fine comics from the older series, "The American Way," to his current work on, "The Other History of the DC Universe," and writing a futuristic version of Batman too. This August, Ridley will be teaming up with artist Juann Cabal (and Alex Ross doing covers) for a run on, "Black Panther," as reported by the New York Times. I'm generally a fan of anything Ridley writes, and Cabal is a skilled creator so I'm pretty eager to read this.
Ridley describes what he's working on as “...a hybrid espionage-superhero thriller, but at its core, it’s a love story, and I don’t mean just romantic love, although there’s some of that as well. It’s love between friends.” Espionage? Thrills? Various kinds of love? I'm in! The first issue of this new, "Black Panther," run will apparently debut in August as the current run by Ta-Nehisi Coates is concluding. I look forward to reading Ridley's run and if it is anywhere near as good as the other stuff he's written we are in for a treat.
Monday, May 17, 2021
Jon Favreau is a skilled director and actor. He can liven up an otherwise dull movie ("Couple's Retreat," benefits greatly from his presence) and usually makes some damn good flicks ("Chef," is fantastic). He also was there on the ground floor of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He directed the first and second, "Iron Man," movies and appeared in them (and other Marvel flicks) as Happy Hogan. Favreau has been busy doing the showrunning for, "The Mandalorian," lately so he basically made the Marvel Cinematic Universe possible and brought us a renewed interest in the Star Wars Universe (after the ninth movie a lot of people thought the franchise was maybe dead in the water till Mando saved it). Considering all he has done I am happy we are getting a Jon Favreau action figure!
Yes, it technically is a, "Happy Hogan," action figure, but in the same way Robert Downey Junior is Iron Man, Favreau is Happy Hogan. I am excited that a man to whom Disney owes so much (again, he birthed the MCU and saved Star Wars) is going to get a cool figure. I know I want one and will probably preorder it from Target...even though it is a hefty $50 as it comes with an Iron Man suit too.
Sunday, May 16, 2021
I've written previously about how while I like her as a person, I don't much care for the music of Billie Eilish. Yeah, I've been quite critical of her songs as none have appealed to me. I will admit, however, having recently heard her newest single, "Your Power," that it is quite good. "Your Power," is going to be on her next album coming out in late July, "Happier Than Ever." I first saw the song performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert when he recently interviewed her and they had a video of Billie and her brother Finneas doing the song--as can be seen above. It is quite beautiful with its quiet melody.
The lyrics cover those who abuse their power--with the main idea being those who would take advantage of young women and prey upon them both physically and for their money and fame. It is unclear if the song is calling out anyone specific or just how the entertainment complex and media treats women, it all still works great though with the gentle guitar and Billie's mournful lyrics. I don't know if this is a fluke of me liking a Billie Eilish song or if I should try out the album this July and see if I am struck by it. Whatever the case, I will admit to finding, "Your Power," to be a good song.
Friday, May 14, 2021
A little while ago I wrote about how I discovered a brand of flavored peanuts with the awesome name Dee's Nuts. I tried one flavor (peanut butter and jelly) and found they tasted as good as they sounded. I told Dee's Nuts about my love of their product and they were kind enough to send me the other flavors to sample! My wife and I both tried banana pudding and found it weird but still pretty good. My wife absolutely adored the dill pickle flavor as she loves pickles. I thought it was alright as I'm not huge on pickle or pickle-flavored products. We both were impressed with the cool ranch and hot siracha flavor, but I think I loved it the most with its mixture of tasty ranch and a definite kick from the siracha.
I'd say my favorite flavor now is a tie between the peanut butter and jelly I discussed in my first post and the ranch with siracha. Samii's favorite flavor is, "Definitely the pickle one." I want to thank Dee's Nuts for sending me more nuts and would encourage everyone to visit their site and buy a can of Dee's Nuts for themselves!
Note: After my first article the kind people at Dee's Nuts sent me more nuts, but didn't request I write more about them or anything. I simply chose to because I love the flavor Dee's Nuts and the countless puns the name invites.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
This week eBay has been really batting a thousand, or however that expression goes (I don't follow baseball). First, they changed the way comics are listed and sorted by doing away with a lot of subcategories in a manner that makes finding comic listings a lot less intuitive and more tedious. Many listings that were already up found themselves changed in ways that made it hard to get any eyes on the posts. It was pretty bad. Oh, and then eBay announced today it will be doing away with adult-only listings for no logical reason. It'll be gone by the end of the Summer. I doubt any minors are getting on eBay and using it to buy porn when they have, you know, the entire internet.
|Don't expect to find the old raunchy underground comics on eBay as easily.|
No, eBay's adult section has been handy for people like me when it comes to finding weird old underground comics (which could at times be quite sexual) or selling modern comics with the really risque covers that people love (folk like boobs on their comic covers for sure). People like my friend Robin Bougie (who wrote Cinema Sewer) have used eBay to find old and vintage erotica, stuff like that. eBay is getting rid of adult listings though and the only possible reason seems to be it isn't compatible with their stupid new managed payments and they want to put everything under that umbrella sooner than later
eBay has changed the way we find a comic listing in a manner that is confusing and stupid. eBay also plans to get rid of adult listings which a move that is purely stupid and puritanical. It has been quite a week for eBay and if it keeps being idiotic like this I may start shifting away from eBay to other selling sites that are a lot less of a pain. It's all so dumb.
There are shows on Adult Swim that either ended before reaching a conclusion or finished but have more stories to tell. Two shows that stopped too early--" Metalocalypse," and, "The Venture Brothers," will be getting a full-length movie on Blu-Ray and on-demand before then streaming on HBO Max. "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," did have a true final season, but it's back too! I enjoyed all the shows so I welcome their return. I will admit to falling behind on, "Metalocalypse," and, "The Venture Brothers," so I maybe need to catch up, but I think I've seen every, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," episode there was--the good and bad--so I'll be quite eager for that.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Because this is a World where we can't have nice things without people messing it up, Target will be halting its sales of trading cards (in-store) as of May 14th. This seems like it will for sure apply to Pokemon cards and sports cards, maybe Magic and other stuff too. This comes on the heels of Walmart planning on stopping selling these trading cards in-store due to how it has just caused a lot of arguments, fights, and disruptions. A Wisconsin Target had an incident recently in the store's parking lot where a man pulled out a gun and threatened others over sports cards. Now, people can still buy cards online or at dedicated comic and game stores, but some regions lack these kinds of physical locations (with buying via the internet sometimes being a battle against bots too).
I'm not actively involved in collecting trading cards associated with any games or sports but have friends who are and when they can't get to a store dedicated to cards Walmart or Target was useful for them. Now they'll lack that option due to people being extra stupid lately about cards and trading card games. It is such a shame.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
A bit ago Marvel announced they were doing a new, "Heroes Reborn," event. Unlike the one in the 1990s that featured an alternate Earth, this one had it apparently be the regular reality but rewritten where the Avengers never formed and that altered a lot of history--resulting in the Squadron Supreme being the big-name team. It sounded like a fun mini-event, but a big chunk of tie-ins were announced. That made it sound possibly a bit bloated for a weekly thing. Still, I tried the first issue and I thought it showed some promise. The idea is that the Avengers never formed for some mysterious reason and it seems like only Blade realizes that the World is wrong. Agent Coulson is President and seems to maybe be evil, supposedly Mephisto is involved in all this I read, and there is a lot going on in this different-but-vaguely-familiar World. There is still a Hulk, but he's locked up, Dr. Doom lost his political power and becomes the Juggernaut. Captain America was never found after he crashed into the ocean during World War II, and so forth.
I am a big fan of alternate-reality stories and have a soft spot for the Marvel version of the Justice League known as the Squadron Supreme so that maybe helped me enjoy this odd first issue. Written by Jason Aaron with lovely art by Ed McGuinness, this first issue is dedicated to basically laying out how things are all warped and that Blade isn't pleased by it. Not a ton happens beyond Blade saying, "This is wrong, this is wrong, that's wrong too!" but it is still fun to witness our Marvel heroes all changed about. McGuinness really does a fantastic job illustrating certain scenes, such as when the Juggernaut-powered Dr. Doom fights Hyperion or when some speedsters (one being a clever amalgamation of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) fight. It looks good even if not a lot happens beyond place-setting.
I suppose the tie-ins are kind of necessary to help flesh out this strange World whilst the main weekly comic will focus on Blade and anyone he can recruit to his cause of fixing the World. The second main issue and the first of the tie-in issues will be released tomorrow. I may give them a browse as this first issue had me cautiously optimistic about, "Heroes Reborn." It could all fall apart and suck by the end, but right now it's a fun alternate-reality jaunt.
Monday, May 10, 2021
The pandemic delayed its release a ton, but now that it is due in September the hype machine is starting to creak to life and promote the new Venom movie. Titled, "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," it features a suitably over-the-top Woody Harrelson as Cletus Cassady AKA Carnage. Tom Hardy returns as Venom--which is good as he was the key feature to making the first movie somewhat enjoyable as I noted in my review. This new Venom movie looks like it will have a decent balance of action and wonky humor as the trailer literally opens with the symbiote singing as it makes breakfast. The whole thing is so silly I almost got, "Deadpool,"-level vibes, but that's kind of how the first, "Venom," movie was too. There's some action, some really odd humor, and a little darkness. Somehow it manages to kinda work. I don't think I'll rush to theaters for this, but I shall watch it at some point.
Sunday, May 9, 2021
|Samii, my wife, and the Mother to our son.|
I hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day. I enjoyed spending it with my wife and the mother of my child, Samii--pictured above. She is a fantastic lady and the best person I could have asked for to have a child with.
|My mom, Ellen.|
I also want to wish a happy Mother's Day to my momma, Ellen. I am eternally grateful to have someone as patient as her as my mom--she had to put up with a lot from my sister and myself. I love her a lot!
|Kim and Clarkson when he was tiny.|
Even though she is no longer with us, Kim deserves a shout-out too. She was Samii's mom and I've written about missing her. She was an amazing Mother-in-Law and a truly awesome lady. This was our first Mother's Day without her.
There are so many amazing Mothers I've had the pleasure of knowing. I appreciate them all!
Saturday, May 8, 2021
The Republican party of late had an uneasy truce between two groups. There were the old-school Republicans who to their credit would sometimes work with Democrats and often held views I disagreed with but could be moderate enough they were usually not awful. Folks like John Boehner, or the Republican who represented my district for a time when I lived in New York, Richard Hanna--the first Republican who actually said he wouldn't vote for Trump in the 2016 election. Then there was the more extreme far-right element that seemed to always exist but really emerged out of the shadows around 2008 when you saw folk like Sarah Palin gaining power and even being given a VP nomination by another old school Republican who had his moments, John McCain (McCain later admitted deep regret choosing her and she was told to stay away from his funeral).
After that the, "Tea Party," and so forth elements clawed more and more into the public consciousness with their xenophobia and extremism. It all came to head with the election of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016--a terrible time for sure. The moderate Republicans I named either all retired or have died and the few left found themselves stuck with Trump, refusing to actually stand up for what's right and making them as bad as the extremists in my opinion. One wondered if when Trump was gone they'd wrangle some control back and maybe at least apologize for trying to destroy democracy.
Donald Trump lost the election in 2020. What's left of the more moderate Republicans has been trying to come to terms with this and move forward with a Nation that clearly offered a rebuke to Trump and his hateful politics. The huge amount of extreme and terrible Republicans refuse to admit Trump lost fair and square, keep trying to rewrite election laws to make it harder to vote in the hopes that cheating others out of voting will assist them in winning, and otherwise are terrible. Now the party is eating itself alive as people such as Liz Cheney--the House Republican Conference Chair and the third-highest position in the House Republican leadership--finds herself labeled an enemy of the party for...admitting Donald Trump lost and wanting to impeach him for his crimes against democracy during that time he goaded his followers into literally attacking the Capitol (not that I'm saying Liz Cheney or the Presidential Administration of Bush and her Dad are innocent because they aren't at all). The Republican party may very well schism into two parties or find itself becoming more and more extreme until moderate Republicans end up becoming somewhat unwilling Democrats who hope they can morph that party a bit more to reflect their views than the ungodly monster their party has now become.
America is horrifically divided and even within our own political parties, there is division. It's just that Democrats have smaller quibbles compared to Republicans who either accept reality or live in a fantasy World where Trump won the 2020 election. I don't know what the future holds for the Republican party, but as it seems to be getting more extreme and alt-right I can only imagine any vaguely moderate Republicans will find themselves retiring soon and then writing books about how much they hate what their party has become (the aforementioned Boehner did that) or pushed out. We shall see.
To close with a fun random aside, I actually met John Boehner once. When I lived in Cortland, NY, I would volunteer at the political office for whoever was our state Representative to get community service hours we needed for high school, college, Americorps, etc. Sometimes it was a Democrat in power and sometimes a moderate Republican. When Boehner came out to help garner support for one Republican I chatted with him and saw him speak. He is a pretty likable guy even if I disagree with him on a chunk of issues and his skin is as surreally tan and leathery as it looks on television. The man must spend 18 hours a day in a tanning bed.
Friday, May 7, 2021
Last year was the most profitable for Nintendo, ever. 2020 was good to Nintendo for a variety of reasons, but everyone being cooped up at home wanting a Nintendo Switch to play games on was undoubtedly a major factor. I mean, I bought a Switch before the market for them went utterly bonkers (thank God I got it from a store for a good price and not for some absurd mark-up, and everyone else did too. How much money was made? Well, "Nintendo saw a 34.4 percent increase in sales to 1.76 trillion yen ($16.1 billion) and an 85.7 percent spike in net profit, reaching 480 billion yen ($4.39 billion)." Oh, and, "The company had thirty-six games selling a million copies on its hardware, with twenty-two of them being Nintendo titles," so they made bank on the game titles too.
2020 was an awful year for many people, this household included. I'm happy for Nintendo though and hope they keep making fun games and quality consoles (occasional misstep like the WII-U aside). I've been a bit busy so I haven't had time to play my Switch as much, but I continue to enjoy having it. I've come a long way from my vaguely aggressive confusion about the thing some years ago, to sort of wanting one, to now being a fan.
Thursday, May 6, 2021
I'm woefully behind on watching, "Star Wars," movies or shows. I like the franchise perfectly fine, it just isn't my favorite property of them all and I only have so much time to read/watch/play stuff. That said, this recent May 4th (which has become a bit of a holiday for the brand) it was revealed there would be a retro-looking and rainbow-colored Boba Fett toy, and damn, I want that. The idea behind the color mix is that it is meant to look like a prototype toy. I just think it looks really neat. This snazzy figure will be for sale at Target this Summer and hopefully, I'll be able to snag one.
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Modest Mouse has made great music but has taken big breaks between albums. I adored, "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank," which came out in 2007. Then it wasn't until 2015 they released, "Strangers To Ourselves," and now it's taken until 2021 for, "The Golden Casket." We're finally getting something new though, so I can't look a gift horse in the mouth. "The Golden Casket," will release in full on June 25th and you can listen to a song from it, "We Are Between," at this link. I look forward to the full album!
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
"Dead Dog's Bite," is a comic published by Dark Horse about a strange small town where a girl named Mac Guffin (note the clever name) has gone missing for a while. Her best friend, Josephine/"Joe," Bradley refuses to give up trying to figure out what happened and she'll have to put up with a very odd and quirky town in the hopes of figuring out what's going on. The book hasn't been getting a ton of buzz and I don't know why because it is amazing It's halfway done as it is going to be a four-issue mini-series and while there hasn't been a lot of talk, I did enjoy this article by Tom Murphy where he expresses how much he likes the series too.
"Dead Dog's Bite," is by Tyler Boss. Literally, it is entirely by him. He wrote it, drew it, colored it, lettered it, everything. He did so much for this comic I wouldn't be surprised if he was at the printing press overseeing as it was manufactured and the pages were stapled together. The mixture of humor, off-kilter tone, and the strange mystery of what happened to Mac makes for a damn fine read. I can't wait for issue #3 to come out this Wednesday and it'll probably be one of the first comics I read in my stack once I grab a copy. Read this book, now!
5 out of 5 stars.
Monday, May 3, 2021
Creators of indie comics will sometimes reach out to me and ask me to check out their works. I was intrigued when, "Heroineburgh," contacted me as they weren't only a comic, but also a long-running web series. They found me when I was trending on comics-twitter due to certain posts I'd made on a subject I have now said I'm done discussing. They didn't care about that controversy, they just saw I was trending, read my blog, and noticed when reading my site how I often wrote about cool indie comics. Therefore, they told me about their comic and show then asked if I was interested in learning more. I thought such a thing made a lot of sense as with so many big-name superhero characters getting shows and movies it sounded pretty smart for indie creators to do a similar brand synergy of, "If you like the comic, check out the show (and vice-versa)." I read the first two issues of, "Heroineburgh," and watched some of the latest episodes of the show. I will say I enjoyed both!
The plot of, "Heroineburgh," is that the city of Pittsburgh (where the comic takes place and the show is filmed) had a mysterious meteor explode overhead one night and it bestowed a number of people (mostly those with XX chromosomes) with superpowers. Now, many superheroines are officially recognized by the city as being a public safety force. There are a number of women who have become criminals with their powers and that has resulted in trouble at points. The two issues of the comic that have been released so far all follow different heroines who also appear in the show. The issues tell different fun stories about the diverse cast. I especially liked a story in the first issue which features a genetically modified lizard turning into a Kaiju that the cleverly-named, "X-Machina," fights. What makes all this even more fun is then seeing the characters from the comics come alive on your screen.
The, "Heroineburgh," web series is currently in its second season with 19 episodes total. Some episodes are split into two parts, but whether a full episode or a, "Part," they generally are a bit less or more than 30 minutes. The shows are fun and while not by any means high-budget, do have enough funds put into them that they manage some charming special effects--the costuming is always on point too. The acting tends to be pretty good and the whole show just has a nice fun vibe. Watching it reminded me of the shot-on-video (SOV) horror movies of years past not because things were by any means scary, but because back in the day people would get together with a cool idea, film it, and get it released as a VHS tape that sometimes became a cult hit movie.
Now we have the internet so instead of SOV we're doing things digitally, but that has allowed even more people to take their ideas and create fun shows. "Heroineburgh," has the same, "We're going to try a bunch of stuff and see what works and what doesn't and we're gonna enjoy ourselves along with way," feeling as SOV movies from the past did and I think that is a major element of why I found it so fun. It is incredibly enthusiastic and eager to share its stories with us via a mixture of seriousness and just the right dose of self-awareness. Another thing that a viewer can appreciate about, "Heroineburgh," is that unlike basically any other hero movies or television shows, there are a ton of female heroes.
If I may complain a bit, Marvel took more than 10 films to give a female lead-billing ("Captain Marvel,") and DC has been good to, "Wonder Woman," and gave us a movie with Harley Quinn, but female-led properties seem to be the exception rather than a regular thing with some of the big properties these past years. Marvel will be debuting their second female-led movie with, "Black Widow," this Summer, even though they already kind of did her dirty with the way the character was treated in, "Endgame," in my opinion, but I digress. My point is outside of team movies that at least include a female or two and some of the superhero television shows there isn't much with female characters--especially female characters of color, various religions, gay/bi characters, etc.
To much credit of, "Heroineburgh," it is focused on diverse female characters in a way that doesn't seem like it's fishing for compliments for being progressive, it simply has a story to tell that involves a lot of superpowered females and it tells it well. Whether they're dealing with corrupt police mad that funding has been cut due to the superheroines becoming an official branch of the Government, fighting evil business tycoons out to make them look bad, or combatting super-villains, there is a big focus on women.
Yes, it isn't giving us over-the-top special effects that cost millions of dollars, but it's fun and earnest. You can see everyone making it had just as much fun making an episode as we do when we watch it. Plus, thanks to there being so many heroines featured in different episodes you can basically watch any episode from the first or second season and not be lost or confused as you might be if you tried to watch a later episode of a hero show on the CW or Disney+ (I mean, I don't know who would watch, "Wandavision," without having watched at least some Marvel movies, but if they did they'd be confused).
I feel like I've rambled a bit in this post, but the summary of all this is that I found, "Heroineburgh," to be a very enjoyable comic and fun web series that succeeds thanks to how charming and genuine it is. While it was stressful when I angered certain parts of the internet expressing my opinions, I was happy to see it got me trending and it helped even more folks discover my blog and reach out about their own works. I always love hearing from indie creators and thank Heroineburgh for getting me into their show and comic! You can buy the comics and episodes of the web series on their site, and I'd encourage you to check them out!
5 out of 5 stars for the comic and show.
Note: Issue one and two of, "Heroineburgh," as well as episodes 17 and 18 of the show were provided to me for the purpose of review; you all know the drill by now about me getting press copies of stuff, but I always like to make sure I mention it somewhere.
John Paul Leon has died at 49. This sucks. He made some damn fine comic art and was known for being a really nice guy. He did a ton of incredible stuff, but my favorite thing by him has to be the series, "The Winter Men," as well as issue #127 of, "New X-Men," which were about a Soviet superhuman program and a Xorn spotlight issue, respectively. Leon really made a lot of great comics though, and you couldn't go wrong with anything he illustrated.
Sunday, May 2, 2021
I chatted with Eric Scott Hawkins at the recent Big River Comic-Con and he told me there about how he would soon be launching a Kickstarter campaign. Well, that Kickstarter has started and it is for the third issue of, "The Zombieful World of Oz." It's a steampunk and horror-influenced take on, "The Wizard of Oz," with a grown-up Dorthory Gale dealing with a whole bunch of mayhem now occurring in the magical land. It looks really fun and there are backer levels to catch up any readers who have missed earlier issues--something I always appreciate seeing as it is awkward when you see a Kickstarter campaign for the later issues of a series with no way to read earlier ones! I'd encourage you to check out the Kickstarter for, "The Zombieful World of Oz," #3, and to consider giving it your support!
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Welcome to the Month of May!
May is among my favorite months for a variety of reasons. The weather is generally wonderful and it features my birthday, which is pretty snazzy. Let's celebrate May with some interesting news and links!
Reading and Learning
Wyatt Russel is such a great actor he got hate for playing the fictional character of John Walker on, "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," because he was so amazing. He doesn't let it phase him though.
Daniel Schroeder revisited Colton Underwood's season of, "The Bachelor," now that he's come out as gay and found a lot of extra cringeworthy content now that we know more.
"Wonder Showzen," was one of the most surreal programs to ever be broadcasted and its segment with kids acting like reporters, "Beat Kids," was the icing on the cake of edgy weirdness. This oral history explains how it all came to be.
"Mortal Kombat," was an immensely popular and controversial game in the 1990s, so of course there were many (mostly terrible) imitators. Owen S. Good of Polygon has a list. I need to watch the movie still, I heard mixed things.
Mike Rowe is an apologist for the oil industry and quite unquestionably in their pocket when it comes to who is cutting him so big checks to say nice things. He's almost charming and likable enough to make you forget he's a sleazeball.
Funnyman Ron Funches is deadly serious when he says OutKast was better than the Beatles. I mean, he isn't wrong. The Beatles are great and all, but OutKast is just amazing.
This past Earth Day, Susana Polo over at Polygon ranked all of the known DC Earths that exist in the multiverse/omniverse. It was a good read.
Alex Trebek can never be replicated as the host of Jeopardy, but we can hopefully find someone who is good at hosting. What the exact secret recipe is for success, nobody knows.
Finally, Andrew Spiess has a great article examining the recent run of, "The Immortal Hulk," by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, et al. He delves into its fantastic horror vibe.
Relax, it's May!
I hope this month treats everyone well!