Saturday, December 31, 2022

Mom and Son of the Year: Samii and Clarkson--2022 in Review

My wife, Samii, and my son, Clarkson, are awesome! Every year with them is wonderful and I continue to be so happy they are in my life. She truly is the best mom ever and Clarkson is the best son ever, as 2022 continued to illustrate. I look forward to 2023 with them!

Friday, December 30, 2022

Album of the Year: Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers--2022 in Review

Mr. Morlae & The Big Steppers
There were a variety of great songs in 2022, but when it comes to a full album that stuck with me I'd have to say that, "Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers," was an astounding creation by Kendrick Lamar. A double LP loaded with amazing songs (I only disliked one in my review of the album), it is an incredibly raw, earnest, and fantastic piece of work. Lamar only seems to get better with every piece of music he creates, and 2022 gave us something quite special by him.

Television Shows of the Year: Silly Dating Shows--2022 in Review

 Silly Dating Shows

You know what we had a lot of this year, and I appreciate that we did? Trashy dating shows. I am always open about adoring stuff such as, "Love Island," "The Bachelor," franchise, "Too Hot to Handle," "Love in the Jungle," "Back in the Groove," "Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer," and I'll give an honorable mention to, "Big Brother," as a showmance usually forms in most seasons. I'm so happy to be in a loving relationship with my wife because the drama these people face on dating shows makes it clear being single ain't easy. These programs are a good way to kick-back, relax, and just enjoy people acting a fool in the name of finding love, or at least some action.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Food Item of the Year: Bone-In Chicken Wings--2022 In Review

 Bone-In Chicken Wings

This year I was really on a chicken wing kick, but specifically the kind with the bones still in them. I've written before about loving chicken fingers, and I still totally do adore them. That said, it seems like as of late I've just really been into chicken wings that are bone-in. Whether they're a sweet BBQ, a buffalo sauce, or some kind of hot flavor mixed with honey, they've just been delicious this year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Stan Lee Would Have Been 100 Today

Stan Lee would have turned 100 today. His legacy is complex with lovers, haters, and those in-between. The fact he made an insanely major contribution to the form of comics is undeniable. His presence is missed, but his creations and co-creations will arguably be with us forever. Happy 100th, Stan.

New Comics of the Year--2022 in Review

Comics That Came Out This Year

I have to be honest and share I am way behind on many comics. There are a number of series I'm quite delayed on reading much of. With that in mind, there could be something from 2022 that I'll finally get around to reading in 2023 which could have theoretically been on this list. That said, of what I was able to read and enjoy in 2022 these were my favorite comics from 2022...that I also managed to read within this year. In no specific order...


Human Target

Tom King and Greg Smallwood's maxi-series started in 2021, but really endeared itself to me during 2022 as its story of Christopher Chance--a man who always makes himself the target of assassins--followed him actually now dying. It has been a twisty and wild read that will conclude in 2023. I both can't wait to be able to look back over the amazing series as a whole and am sad it will have to end.

Newburn

As with, "Human Target," this series started late in 2021 but really hit its stride in 2022. Written by the eccentric and interesting Chip Zdarksy and illustrated by Jacob Phillips, "Newburn," follows a special kind of detective who works for all the crime families on a retainer and has arrangements with the police. He walks a fine line, in other words. A stellar series.

Ghost Rider

The latest, "Ghost Rider," series has taken the series back in a shockingly horror-styled direction. I've dug it immensely. Benjamin Percy's writing and Cory Smith's artwork have given us a scary and stylized treat of a series.

Shed

Alright, so I was able to read, "Shed," ahead of its release for the purposes of review as it now comes out at the tail end of the year for Kickstarter backers, with physical copies for sale to everyone else next year. This makes it kind of a 2022 release and a bit of a 2023 release. I'm counting it as this year, however, and I love it. A mixture of a slice-of-life story but loaded with magical realism, "Shed," was written by Richard Fairgray and Lucy Campagnolo with Fairgray as the artist as well. I loved it and encourage you to get yourself a copy as soon as it becomes possible from Blue Fox Comics.

It's Lonely at the Centre of the Earth

I reviewed this superb graphic novel for my friends over at Forces of Geek, and it has continued to stick with me since I discussed it. Equally sad, insightful, funny, clever, and gorgeously illustrated, this autobiographical comic by Zoe Thorogood is fantastic.

Republished Comics of the Year--2022 in Review

They're Back!

Sometimes comics fall out of print, this stinks when they are especially good ones. I was pleased two older yarns were able to come back into print this year and they were my favorites to be brought back in a new edition in 2022...

The Creep

absolutely loved seeing the earliest stories of "The Creep," republished this year. John Arcudi and Jonathan Case's story (done with Dale Eaglesham and Brian Kalin O'Connell) about a unique detective solving a variety of strange cases is just a fantastic read and featured twists that surprised me--someone who usually can see them coming. I hope we get more stories featuring " The Creep" someday soon.


The Mighty

"The Mighty," was horrendously overlooked when it first came out but thankfully found itself republished by Image this year. A dark tale of a superhero with some really twisted secrets and the one man to try and stand against evil, it is worth diving into these years later. Peter J. Tomasi, Keith Champagne, Chris Samnee, and Peter Snejbjerg absolutely rocked it on this series, I'm glad it escaped publishing-rights purgatory (it was originally a DC title years ago) and can now easily be on our bookshelves.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Movie Franchise Shake-Up of the Year: DC and Warner Brothers Discovery in General--2022 in Review

A man named David Zaslav took over as the big cheese at Warner Brother Discovery. He proceeded to do what he feel was best to save the HBO MAX platform money and basically canceled/erased/slashed-and-burned a ton of content in the name of tax breaks. This resulted in the, "Batgirl," movie that was in post-production being shoved into a vault--to the rage of fans. It also led to James Gunn and Peter Safran taking over all the superhero flicks of DC--which made fans happy until Gunn started making changes (Henry Cavill is out as Superman), leading to further fan-rage. 

The DC franchise is in a huge flux, the HBO MAX app is going to merge with Discovery+ in the next year and possibly just be called, "MAX," and things are crazy. It is easy for people to throw ire at Zaslav (I've been critical of him myself), but I don't envy his job trying to make everything profitable. Then, I have zero jealously of Gunn and Safran trying to fix-up the DC film franchise and the mess that it currently is in. 2023 is bound to be an interesting year for Warner Brothers Discovery.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Video-Games of the Year--2022 in Review

"The Quarry," and, "Marvel Snap"

This year two video-games impressed me to a great degree for completely different reasons. During the Summer I had a chance to play, "The Quarry," and loved the complex and branching storyline with intriguing characters and a scary (but also funny and clever) storyline. Then, later in the year, we saw the release of, "Marvel Snap," which has a seemingly simple (but actually quite intricate) gameplay and delightful quick matches against other players (or skilled bots) as you lay down digital cards. "The Quarry," has a fantastic story that you get to alter through choices and, "Marvel Snap," is pure adrenaline-fueled gameplay. Both were my favorite games to come out this year (which I had a chance to play).

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas 2022!

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas who celebrates it. In honor of the holiday, I have a photo above featuring a cookie Clarkson colored with edible marker. He made Santa some cool alternate colors instead of the usual red! Have a good one, ya'll.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

I Enjoyed Volume One of, "The InSpectres," From Blue Fox Comics!

I always enjoy reading new and upcoming releases from the publisher known as Blue Fox Comics. I had a chance to read their upcoming title, "The InSpectres: Volume One," and found it great! The plot is a little reminiscent of, "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," but taking authors who've actually existed and having them work together as opposed to their fictional creations.

The comic follows Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, Bram Stoker, and a ten-year-old Agatha Christie as they work together in an effort to solve the mystery of who Spring Heeled Jack is--a murderous human with parlor tricks or some kind of supernatural monster? To figure this out a group founded by Charles Dickens, The InSpectres, finds itself reforming in the hopes of preventing loss of life.

Scripted by Jarod Hunter Roe and drawn by David R Flores, this piece of historical fiction is quite fun with its mix of fact and fiction. There is a healthy dose of humor and some action-packed fight scenes as well. I really enjoyed this first volume of, "The InSpectres," and look forward to when the Kickstarter campaign for it kicks off in February of 2023. Keep your eyes peeled for its launch!

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, December 23, 2022

North America is Getting Hammered By Cold Weather

Early on Thursday snow began to blanket much of North America with extremely cold weather following it. Now, it's Friday and freezing outside. With a windchill below zero degrees Fahrenheit (that's about -17.8 Celsius for anyone who isn't American), I'd encourage everyone to be extremely careful if they have to go outside. Travel will be extra complicated with the holidays so bundle up and stay warm over this cold Christmas weekend/the nearing conclusion of Hanukkah.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

The Gateway Coffee Company is a Lovely Local Spot!

I have written extensively on this blog about my love of coffee. I greatly enjoy drinking it and when Samii and I saw a new place--named Gateway Coffee Company--had opened. They were serving coffee, treats, and other assorted drinks so we excitedly stopped in!

I had a nice hot Americano as well as a yummy strawberry Italian soda to drink. I also had a great chocolate muffin. Samii enjoyed a raspberry Italian soda and a crispy treat. We were both pleased with our food and beverages and all the employees at Gateway Coffee Company were extremely nice as well. Should you find yourself around the Creve Coure area of Saint Louis County I'd highly recommend you give Gateway Coffee Company a visit!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Polygon's Article on Video-Game Unions is Fantastic Reading

If you've ever had questions about how video-game unions work--or much of unions in general--this article by Nicole Carpenter for Polygon is a great piece to dive into. I did not even realize video-game unions were attempted way back in the 1980s and then became a mostly forgotten piece of history until recent unionization efforts. I am firmly pro-union and would encourage anyone curious about them to give the post a read.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

AfterShock Comics Has Filed For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Just last week I wrote about comic publishers not paying creators. The reasons varied but it seemed a lot of publishers were struggling to remain solvent. Well, one other shoe has dropped with a publisher who owes a lot of people a whole ton of money declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The publisher in question is AfterShock Comics.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is supposed to indicate a restructuring and not that a company is completely finished. That said, this looks bad. Many people are owed money or had comics that were coming out/due to come out with AfterShock and now things look increasingly questionable for the company's future. 

I appreciate smaller comic publishers a lot. They put out different and weirder stuff that larger publishers would possibly not take a chance on. It makes me upset to think that AfterShock could just be the first of a number of publishers folding. It is all quite worrisome and I fear just the start. We shall see.

The Golden Age of Streaming Movies and Television Really Is Over, Isn't it?

It used to be all the streaming services were flush were cash. We joked there were too many, but a few obvious flops aside many seemed to be doing fine. Tons of shows were greenlit and given a bunch of money for their budget. Even if a show wasn't that popular it seemed to keep chugging along. We were swimming in content. Not anymore. The Golden Age is done.

HBO MAX is canceling stuff and then pulling it off the app with a bloodthirsty style that astounds. Netflix canned a ton of beloved shows even if they had decent viewership, only keeping the biggest hits around. Other streamers are reporting losses and plans for cost-saving measures. Shows get renewed, then after the costs is double-checked they end up suddenly canceled. Unless you're a major property like Marvel, Star Wars, or a Taylor Sheridan western-style show you really need to be wary of your days being numbered.

Perhaps we were spoiled by the boon of movies and shows. Maybe we should've heeded the warnings of people hoarding their VHS tapes and DVD box sets when they told us streaming was unreliable and something could be yanked off of a site at any moment to no longer be easily available to view. It is also possible that the streamers are to blame to some degree too for operating with a laissez-faire attitude about their money. Whatever the case, an era has ended and now we just have our memories and a good deal of great shows--before they possibly get taken down for tax cuts.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Miss Kelly's Gym is a Fun Local Place!

We were able to go to Miss Kelly's Gym over the weekend and had a great time! With the full name, "Miss Kelly's - The Gym For Kids," it is a location with a bunch of different classes for assorted age groups. They also do an open gym at points during the week and we went to one over the weekend. 

Clarkson climbing!

Clarkson had a lot of fun playing in the gym area! He climbed, jumped around, balanced on beams, played with bouncy balls, and had a fantastic experience. The other kids around him were having a great time as well and the hour went by fast.

A picture of the gym from the website.

You can visit the gym's website via this link to learn all about the various programs and classes they offer. Should you live in the Saint Louis area and have kids I'd recommend checking Miss Kelly's Gym out!

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Happy First Night of Hanukkah!


We have arrived at the first night of Hanukkah! I hope anyone celebrating eats lots of latkes and those who aren't Jewish can still join in some dreidel games if they like--I won't tell if you use real cash instead of gelt! It is always fun when Hanukkah overlaps with that other big Winter holiday--Christmas--and that indeed happens in 2022! Have a great Hanukah, everyone!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Universal Studio's Super Nintendo World Opens to the Public This Coming February

In February of 2023 a new video-game-themed section of Universal Studios will open here in America. Titled Super Nintendo World, it is already in Japan's park, but now the United States will have a fun area themed for Mario and his friends. You will actually be able to punch blocks for, "Coins," and I would assume you can (safely) jump on evil turtles. There will be  Kart ride that involves augmented reality/goggles or something. A Toadstool cafe also shall be present. It frankly sounds like good fun and makes me a little sad we don't have a Sonic the Hedgehog-themed park where we can run fast through crazy landscapes--or at least have the illusion we are going fast if we'd rather walk. Perhaps someday.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Flashback Friday: Most of What We Knew About, "Street Sharks," Was a Lie and that Should Have Served as a Warning for the Politics of Today

In 2016, a journalist named Jordan Minor came clean about lying online. Now, he never lied in any of his news articles. You see, Minor revealed in the early 2000s when he was a middle schooler he created an elaborate number of fake entries about, "Street Sharks," on a website that chronicled facts about shows. Minor was a big fan of, "Street Sharks," and mixed truths, half-truths, and complete lies in a strange mish-mash of facts and fan-fiction as he typed up entries discussing a female shark named Roxie (never existed) and when Henry Winkler did a voice on the show (nope). Then it sat there for years with other sites mentioning it and people writing in forums about how they remembered those episodes with Roxie. People read something was true so they created false memories to go with the lies. In 2016 Minor blew all that up.

Some people thought Minor must have been lying about lying. Surely they legitimately recalled seeing Roxie on, "Street Sharks," right? Why would someone concoct such an elaborate falsehood about a relatively obscure show? Minor did indeed do it, and it freaked everyone out to see how easily they were had via a bit of, "Inception," if you would. There was a valuable lesson to be gained about how easily we can be fooled into believing a lie, but everyone pretty much forgot about this, "Street Shark," fiasco and went on with our lives. Perhaps that was a bad choice looking at recent history.

Roxie fanart. Fanart for a character who never even existed.

If I may seemingly swerve into a new subject, millions of Americans still believe, "The big lie," that Trump somehow won the 2020 election it was rigged to make it look like he lost. All facts show otherwise, but because of the ability to just turn the internet into an echo chamber of lies (and Trump being one of the hugest liars around), so many individuals refuse to accept reality. Just as there were people who argued that Roxie couldn't be a collective figment of everyone's imagination there are still people who scream Trump is our rightful President and we now need to outright nullify parts of the Constitution to put him in power. I honestly don't think it is a huge stretch to say if people on the internet can be tricked into believing in a fictional lady shark they can be fooled into thinking Trump is still President. We are human beings who just seem to often be easily fooled, and when we find others on the web who are also fooled the lies multiply.

If I have a point to all this it is that the old chestnut that you can't believe everything/anything you read online is more apt than ever. Whether you are researching humanoid sharks or a Presidential election you need to always check your sources and make sure the information you're getting is reputable. Otherwise, you might end up going down a rabbit hole of fanart for a character who never even existed. That, or assaulting the Nation's Capitol if you're really impressionable. Jordan Minor warned us back in 2016. I wish we had listened a little better.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Mixed Feelings Part Deux

Last year I wrote about how December 15th brings mixed feelings via a post that was itself titled, "Mixed Feelings." I find myself spending today with even more mixed feelings worth sharing...

It is now December 15th of 2022. 

A year ago, today, my Bubbie was buried. 

Three years ago, today, we lost our baby, Shalom Avalon Bitterbaum. 

A number of years ago (but not too many) my mother, Ellen Burton, was born.

I am joyful for my mom's birthday, pleased to have many good friends, and so happy to be a parent to Clarkson with my wonderful wife, Samii.

I face sorrow that can be overwhelming thinking of those we've lost since December of 2019. There was a baby we hoped for but couldn't have. My Father-in-law, Matt. My Mother-in-Law Kim. My wife's Grandfather. My Aunt Martha. My Bubbie. It all kicks off on December 15th of those three years ago. 

December 2019-December 2020 was the worst year ever between lost family and there was also COVID-19 screwing life up, don't forget that.

December 2020-2021 was all about rebuilding and refocusing while hard things happened but we persevered.

December 2021-2022 was about feeling something that isn't necessarily a sense of recovery, but feeling like I and other loved ones are finally in a better place about the past, present, and hoping for a brighter future.

I continue to have mixed feelings every year on this day. All I can do is continue to heal and grow as a person. That's the goal, at least.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

I Completely Agree That, "The Muppet Christmas Carol," is the Best Adaptation of that Classic Story

"The Muppet Christmas Carol," is the best adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens story, full stop. It is fun for all ages while telling the original story wonderfully, has some fantastic talent (in human and muppet form with Michael Caine being fantastic as Scrooge), and is just superb. When I saw an article on Paste by Matthew Jackson going in-depth into why it is the best adaptation, I found myself nodding along the whole read in agreement. The biggest thing is that it manages to honor the source material while being another superb Muppet production. The film is now 30 years old as of 2022 and still manages to be a timeless piece of entertainment. It is up there with, "Elf," as a favorite holiday flick.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Some Comic Publishers Are Behaving Badly

More and more discussion has been had lately about comic publishers being extremely late on their payments to creators or outright trying to avoid giving anyone their proper due. Comics Beat broke a story about how Action Lab (which has dealt with numerous legal issues regarding creator treatment) solicited a Free Comic Book Day 2023 issue of, "Princeless," as a promotion for an upcoming new volume without any permission from the actual creators. Yeah.

Jeremy Whitley and artist Emily Martin released a statement which, in short, says that they are still in a class action lawsuit against Action Lab and it is odd they are releasing the first issue of, "Princeless," while also claiming new volume is on the way what with how that couldn't be farther from reality. Apparently, a single issue of what would be the tenth volume is drawn, but Action Lab can't even attempt to publish such a thing until a slew of legal concerns can be resolved. 

It isn't just Action Lab that is in trouble, however. Bleeding Cool was running stories from comic creators who were discussing having difficulty getting paid by certain comic companies. No exact companies were named at first, but then, friend of the blog Alex de Campi did mention Aftershock Comics as being a repeat offender in regard to extremely delayed payments. If a comic company expects to remain in business it needs to pay its talent what they were promised when they were told payment would be rendered. That sounds simple, yet a number of publishers seem to struggle with the concept of giving folks what they are owed.

Monday, December 12, 2022

"Creepin'," Is What Happens When a Song Samples Another Song's Sample...and It Works Out Well

The movie, "Inception," is about dreams within dreams. It is good but weird. The song, "Creepin'," by Metro Boomin, The Weeknd, and 21 Savage is an, "Inception," of samples. It draws heavily from the song, "I Don't Wanna Know," by Mario Winans which used an Enya sample and had P. Diddy involved too. We've got a sample of a sample now, and it is weird but still good and catchy. To be fair, Metro and Weekend have outright said it is more of a cover of Winans' song than it is an original piece and Winans even provides some new backing vocals for, "Creepin'," so everyone is perfectly fine with this sample-ception. The original song and the new version are both quite good, so it all worked out for the best.

If you would like to hear the original song, "I Don't Wanna Know," you can find it at this link.

Should you want to hear, "Creepin'," it can be found at this link.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

I'm Sick and Will Not Attend the ToyMan Show Today

I won't be going to the ToyMan show as this weekend I have been feeling less-than-optimal. I am sad I will miss ToyMan today but I think some rest would be best. I'd encourage anyone who is feeling good to go to ToyMan today and to be sure and plan on going to the next one on January 29th of 2023.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

The Comic-Book Version of Doctor Strange Didn't Stay Dead Long

It feels like it has been a year or less since Doctor Strange died and Clea took over for him. Well, he will be resurrected with Jed MacKay and Pasqual Ferry writing and illustrating his new adventures. MacKay actually wrote the comic where Stephen Strange died and has been writing Clea's comic. Whether Clea's own, "Strange," comic will end (it seems it might) or run simultaneously with this new one is unclear. I know comic book characters basically never stay dead, but it is a little humorous when they're gone for such a short time.

It is also funny to think that a single writer has done Stephen's death, the comic following who took his place with Clea, and then the comic that brings him back. That said, MacKay is a fantastic writer and Ferry's artwork is always lovely too, so at least we've got a great team on the book (with Alex Ross providing gorgeous covers too). Keep your eyes peeled for Stephen Strange's return in March of 2023.

Friday, December 9, 2022

HBO MAX Will Just Be...MAX?

HBO MAX and Discovery+ will be merging into one service. Many names are possible but Warner Brothers Discovery is apparently going to possibly just use...MAX. That's it. I think Discovery MAX would be cool, but nobody asked me. Instead, we are simply getting MAX, and the focus is still to slash and burn a ton of content (seriously, a lot of stuff). At least we have James Gunn and Peter Safran to give us lots of stuff...oh and they canceled any plans for, "Wonder Woman 3." Well then, that's interesting. Clearly a lot is in motion lately.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

I've Been Thinking About How Remote Work Holds Many Possibilities For Those With Differing Abilities

I read a fascinating article on Insider by Yuri Bett discussing how Remote Work will provide many opportunities for those who are disabled or assisting loved ones with a disability. He discusses how his six-year-old son has Autism Spectrum Disorder and through remote working, it's allowed Yuri and his wife to give their son attention and care. It has also illustrated to Yuri how remote working will offer a lot more options for careers to those with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, physical limitations, and other possible conditions. 

It is interesting to think how remote work really took off when COVID-19 hit, and it illustrates many great ways it can be utilized by everyone, regardless of ability. I've been open on this blog about how my son, Clarkson, has autism spectrum disorder. It makes me optimistic to think as he gets older there will be even more career options that are in-person or remote than when I was younger.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Now is The Time to Try, "Dwarf Fortress," Perhaps

"Dwarf Fortress," is a game that has been around for nearly two decades. An incredibly detailed simulation of a landscape full of dwarves you care for, it is really hard to describe besides using the words, "Complicated," and, "Fun." The game was supported by donations and a Patreon and had incredibly basic graphics. However, after a health scare happened on the two-man team, it was decided a version needed to be created for Steam by adding teammates and having there be some fancy graphics and mouse support to make the somewhat impenetrable game a bit easier to figure out. Since its Steam release, "Dwarf Fortress," has been selling like hotcakes and getting rave reviews from longtime fans and new ones alike.

"Dwarf Fortress," is no longer, "PC's Most Inscrutable Game," it is just a really in-depth simulation that folks love. Maybe now that the learning curve (more of a cliff, originally) is less steep, I should dip my toes into the game sometime? I think even my aged and weak Laptop could handle it. I shall look into it and we will see--everyone else seems to be having a great time, after all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Television Tuesday: "Back in the Groove," Is Fun but Unsure if it Wants to be Cringey or Heartwarming

I watched the first two episodes of, "Back in the Groove," yesterday. Two more will have dropped today. Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, two more will be released for a total of eight episodes. The show features three women in their 40s dating men who range from their early 20s to just barely 30. Taye Diggs of, "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," hosts, resulting in an obvious number of jokes regarding the show's name and his breakout role. Having seen the two debut episodes of, "Back in the Groove," I like it, but feel it is tonally unsure exactly what it wants to be.

Is this a show that wants to be cringey and trashy as a bunch of young men act a fool over these women--with the twist that one man is actually a son of a lady there being an especially WTF moment? Is this a show about empowering females of any age to find love with some of the guys who seem genuinely nice and level-headed? The program is unsure. There will be a nice trashy moment of a guy who clearly thinks too much of himself talking smack about another one and causing trouble...then there will be serious conversations about love, loss, and growth. I will say I like Lee--he is just loveable and adorably weird.

The tone is a bit wonky, clearly, but the overall format works (it is a well-honed format). This show is not officially affiliated with, the, "Bachelor/Bachelorette," franchise as a spin-off, but showrunner Elan Gale worked on that series and there is some DNA of that show in this. Dates occur during the day and come nighttime we don't have a cocktail party, but we do have mixers. There aren't rose ceremonies, but men do, "Check-out," of the hotel should things fizzle between them and the women. There is even a wacky concierge named Pedro who reminds me of Wells from, "Bachelor in Paradise," or Martin from the recent, "Joe Millionaire," season. The format is tried-and-true, clearly.

"Back in the Groove," is entertaining even if the tone is often all over the place. I had a good time with the first two episodes and plan to watch the rest as they roll out during the week. Hopefully, we get some more Taye Diggs too as he literally was in the first 10 minutes of the premiere and then disappeared completely.

4 out of 5 stars for the first two episodes.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Store-Exclusive Hip-Hop Covers Are Becoming Really Popular

I don't really buy store-exclusive variant covers. Comic shops can buy the rights to have a variant cover from a publisher and as long as they front the cash and get the cover approved by everyone, the comic gets made. Store variants can be pretty but don't have much speculation value, generally being considered worth less even if they are a key issue compared to the version of the comic you could buy in shops. That said, sometimes store variants seem to strike just the right nerve and become quite popular (at least for a bit). That has happened with some hip-hop covers featuring popular rappers.

The Haul did an exclusive variant cover featuring Notorious B.I.G. and Deadpool. It took a bit to sell out from their site but once it did the price kept creeping up from the initial $30 to over $100. Then, some covers with Eminem dropped via his website and people eagerly scooped those up. Now, some are selling online for $200 or so. Perhaps it is the combination of fandoms that has resulted in these being quite popular? It is hard to say, but it would not surprise me if we start seeing a bunch of rap artists on more comic covers now that it is clear there is some money to be made.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Interestingly, "Blue Beetle," is Still Happening

Warner Brothers Discovery and the person in charge of eliminating a ton of its content, David Zaslav, had a ton of stuff canceled or outright erased from HBO MAX for cost-cutting purposes. "Batgirl," was locked in a vault, tons of cartoons vanished into the ether if you didn't have them on DVD, and so forth. There was going to be a, "Blue Beetle," movie as an HBO MAX exclusive and I honestly assumed it had just been canned too. I was wrong, however! It will now be coming to theaters in August of 2023 and stars Xolo MaridueƱa as the superhero Jamie Reyes. I'm just pleased something avoided the ax over there and hope it is good. We will see this Summer!

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Build-A-Bear Adventure is a Fun Place!

Our son, Clarkson, went to a friend's birthday party today at an interesting new concept that Build-A-Bear has created called, "Build-A-Bear Adventure." The company actually originated in Saint Louis so they have tested-out various business ideas in the region before with this being the newest cool thing. 

You can check Build-A-Bear Adventure out at its website where you'll see the idea is you have a fun combination of activities. You get a party room where you can all enjoy birthday grub, everyone builds a bear, and then there is an arcade area for folks to play in. It is a bit like Build-A-Bear and Dave and Busters had a baby. The website says how it is great for everything from birthday parties to school outings, bridal showers, baby showers, and so forth. I know we all had fun!

Our visit to Build-A-Bear Adventure started with us checking in at the entrance and going to our party room. Once everyone had arrived we went to the area for building our new fuzzy friends. Certain bears and outfits were included with the party but folks could always add on other outfits or bears/creatures (I saw Sully from Monsters' Inc. for example, he was cute). After all the kiddos assembled a bear we went back to the party room and had pizza and treats. 

Then, we went over to the arcade area. There was everything from racing games, to games that awarded (digital) tickets, crane games, and a really cool one called, "Water Fantasy," that shot actual water onto a video screen and had the creatures in the game getting shot with water reacting. That was wild. Clarkson loved running around the arcade area with his friends and seeing all the fun games lighting up.

Everyone had a great time at the Build-A-Bear Adventure. We appreciate our friend inviting us for such a fun birthday party and I'd encourage anyone in the Saint Louis area who needs to have a party to check out Build-A-Bear Adventure. Assuming it does well I bet they'll be expanding the concept into other areas as well before too long in the future!

Friday, December 2, 2022

Aline Kominsky-Crumb Has Passed

Aline Kominsky-Crumb has died. She was 74 and had pancreatic cancer. She was an amazingly talented, well-known underground comic-maker (as oxymoronic as that sounds). I have a soft spot in my heart for all those edgy, weird, and otherwise crazy underground comics and she was a pioneer in a number of ways regarding the form. Rob Salkowitz of Forbes has a better obituary than I could ever write and I'm sure in the next few days a number of other sites will also detail all the ways Kominsky-Crumb was stupendous. In a field that wasn't always especially welcoming to women, she broke down barriers and created awe-inspiring art. Kominsky-Crumb is survived by her husband, Robert (himself an Underground icon as well), and her daughter, Sophie.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

World AIDS Day 2022

Since 1988, December 1st of every year has been World AIDS Day. Amazing progress has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but there is still a lot more to do. Plans are always being updated in the fight against HIV/AIDS and hopefully, someday, we can create a vaccine/cure/etc. and make it a thing of the past.