Thursday, June 30, 2022

"Take Your Kid to Work Day," #1 Balances Sci-Fi and Human-Focused Storytelling Superbly

I had the opportunity to read the indie comic, "Take Your Kid to Work Day," by Damian Starr and Peter Goffstein. Published by Starr's Illuminatus Comics, it balances the human elements of the story with some more sci-fi concepts in a great manner. The comic focuses on a young boy named Dennis whose parents are divorced and working through a lot of stuff. This is the grounded element of the story and helps you care about the characters before things get more surreal. Dennis gets to go with his dad, Dr. David Perdue, to a lab in a sort of, "Take Your Kid to Work Day," hence the title. However, reality starts to shift and break when the lab malfunctions, releasing all kinds of fictional creatures--some quite dangerous--into the World. Some cliffhangers hint that David maybe didn't realize just what the lab's true end goals were (it wouldn't surprise me if plans existed to weaponize the imaginary creations) and we witness as Dennis seems to go deeper into the strange altered reality within the lab.

I emailed Damian Starr about the comic and how I enjoyed it. He told me that a second issue may not be out for some time (various things in life causing delays) but if anyone would like to read the first issue they can reach out to Illuminatus Comics or his own Facebook page to ask about getting a copy. Damian also mentioned he has done some work for the publisher Outlaw Studio and would encourage folks to check them out as well. I'd recommend giving, "Take Your Kid to Work Day," a read as I enjoyed its mix of relatable human drama and wild sci-fi!

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

My Article Appears Yet Again in the Latest--and Last--Collection of, "Cinema Sewer," AKA the Eighth Volume

In the past, I have discussed enjoying reading Robin Bougie's zine dedicated to indie/trash/adult movies, "Cinema Sewer." Then I was honored to have an article in the 34th and final issue (Bougie has since gone on to do his, "Gutter Hunter," zine about underground comic books). Well, he has published the eighth and final collection of his, "Cinema Sewer," issues so my piece appears again within its pages! Bougie has extra material too and you can easily buy, "Cinema Sewer," Volume 8 at all finer bookstores if you ask them to order it, find it on Amazon (although it is only a preorder for now there), or order it from Bougie on his website so he receives more of a cut from the sale and you get it even sooner! I am so happy to have contributed to the legacy of, "Cinema Sewer," and am excited to read future issues of Bougie's new projects such as the aforementioned, "Gutter Hunter," and whatever else he gets up to!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

"The Mighty," is Getting Republished by Image Comics!

"The Mighty," was a maxi-series from Peter J. Tomasi, Keith Champagne, Chris Samnee, and Peter Snejbjerg. It was extremely underrated and a bit overshadowed by a comic with a slightly similar theme, "Irredeemable." This series imagined a world with a single superpowered being--no others--who was secretly quite evil. Named Alpha One, the series followed a police captain named Gabriel Cole who uncovered a whole lot of stuff about Alpha One and had to stop him. Yes, it was to some degree a, "What if Superman were evil?" styled story, but it was actually fantastic and had a really satisfying ending (I know opinions are split on, "Irredeemable," and its conclusion). "The Mighty," has been out of print for years, however, until now.

Image will be reprinting, "The Mighty," in its entirety along with some hard-to-find eight-page stories, behind-the-scenes sketches, and more. I got a press email from Image announcing this new edition in the morning and it woke me up more than coffee as it got me so excited! Tell your favorite location to order you a copy and expect to see, "The Mighty," on September 28th (in comic-book shops) and October 4th (in bookstores). I'm pumped for it!

Monday, June 27, 2022

I Tried 7 Brew and Enjoyed Their Drinks!

On our way home from visiting family in Colorado (where I checked out a number of snazzy comic shops), we stopped in Topeka. While there we drove through a location called 7 Brew. Apparently, they originated in Arkansas but have expanded out of there to regions such as Kanas! They serve a variety of coffee, Italian sodas, smoothies, and so forth. As I love coffee I figured I would give the location in Topeka a try. I got a strawberry soda and some house blend coffee. 

When I pulled up the employees were very friendly and some were singing along to some music playing inside their big coffee stand (it is a strictly drive-through establishment, you don't stay there). I found my Italian soda to be very tasty and the coffee was delicious too. I purchased a sugar-free peach Italian soda for my wife, Samii, and she enjoyed it as well. If they were to open a 7 Brew in Saint Louis I'd probably eagerly frequent it. Should you ever be near one of their 20 or so locations I'd recommend checking them out!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Three Great Comic Shops in Colorado Springs

I was recently on a trip to visit some of my wife's family in Colorado Springs. While were there I had a smidgen of time that I used to visit Three fantastic comics shops in the region! There were even more stores I did not have a chance to stop by (maybe on another visit), but the three I had a chance to explore were all lovely. Here they are in the order I visited them...

Video Game Exchange and Comics

Just some of the comics and books for sale!

This shop had a lot of cool newer and older comics in addition to selling a bunch of video-games, toys, and Funko Pops. The owner was incredibly nice and the comics were all priced very reasonably. I enjoyed digging through the comics for sale and admiring how much neat stuff there was within the store! The sheer amount of video-games present was just plain awesome as well, making this a haven for gamers as well as comic-book aficionados.

KaPow Comics and Coffee

If you love comics and coffee--like me--then this is the store for you! We met Matt, who handles the comic-book aspects of the store while his sister handles the coffee and such (she wasn't there when we stopped by). The shop had a bunch of new releases, tons of older stuff, and ample dollar bins! Plus, the names of various coffee drinks were inspired by comics which was really neat! There were some Funko Pops here as well and Samii bought a cute one themed for a Coca-Cola can!

EntertainMart Colorado Springs

Interestingly enough, EntertainMart is owned by the same parent company that has Vintage Stock (which we have in Saint Louis). This location was incredibly large, however, and chock full of items. Movies, music, books, games, toys, and the thing that I was after--comics! There were some more expensive books in the locked cabinets that an employee was kind enough to let me inspect and a bunch of good reads in the general back issues section as well. It was a fun place to close out my browsing adventures. I hope the next time I get back out here I can visit some more fun shops!

Saturday, June 25, 2022

I Am Excited for, "Westworld," to Return Tomorrow

Ah, "Westworld." I enjoyed the first season, loved the second season, and liked the third season despite its flaws (a lot of folks apparently hated it). The fourth season is here tomorrow and even if it is an imperfect program, I'm excited for it to be back. The cast is amazing, the ideas are often clever, and the execution is at times a good deal flawed, but I still am a fan. The fourth season premieres tomorrow and I hope to watch it then or perhaps Monday (via HBO MAX) if I don't have time Sunday night.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Flashback Friday: "Giants: Citizen Kabuto," Was a Pleasantly Weird Game

I had this post ready to be the only one for Friday before all the disturbing news. I still wanted to post something more cheery to try to help with how awful the World is looking, though. Therefore, I observe how nowadays you can get really weird and fun games from indie creators. Back when I was a young whippersnapper, however, really weird stuff only came along once in a while, I'd argue. I was thinking about this the other day when I remembered one of the strangest older games I'd ever played. It was called, "Giants: Citizen Kabuto," and it was interesting. 

You play three different kinds of humanoid races who all handle quite differently from using jetpacks or being more water-based or a giant creature that stomps around and eats stuff. The plot involves an island floating through space and the game dabbles in various genres like action and real-time strategy. It sounds messy, and it was, but it was fun too. The game was also horrendously buggy. Glitches aside, it was a good time and really bizarre. You can get it for your computer on GOG or Steam if you want to give it a try sometime. I'd recommend it if you want something just plain bonkers to try out.

I'm Disturbed and Disgusted Today

I already said a lot of what I had to say about abortion rights being overturned back in May when a Supreme Court draft leaked that made it look like we were due for this mess. Now it is June and here we are, Roe is overturned despite all those far-right justices assuring us such a thing wouldn't happen. They were lying through their teeth, no surprise. Now one big goal conservatives have had in mind for decades has been achieved. 

A chunk of people wanted to take away a person's control over their reproductive rights and now there is no Federal protection. I'm doing a sarcastic, "Congratulatory," slow clap right now. A number of states have trigger laws in place that have basically outlawed abortion in all but the most extreme of cases--and even people in those cases might face absurd amounts of red tape and could very well die if in need of an abortion to save their life. I'm incredibly disturbed and disgusted today. There is not much else to state.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

"Black Adam," #1 Kicks off the Limited Series With Immense Energy

The solicitations for this, "Black Adam," maxi-series gave away the reveal at the end of the first issue so--spoiler alert--I will as well. Basically, Black Adam is dying despite supposedly being immortal and someone related to him who was unaware of the link is going to be offered his power/legacy/etc. It sounds straightforward, but with the immensely talented Christopher Priest writing the story it absolutely crackles with the same kind of lightning Black Adam summons. Priest discussed he was apparently wary to take on the character, but this first issue makes me happy he did. With Rafa Sandoval providing some fantastic artwork, this is a stupendous first of twelve issues.

Priest quickly establishes how Blac Adam and the nation he rules--Kahndaq--are viewed with fear by other countries as he has powers that rival Superman and little interest in holding back his powers when feeling he or his land is threatened. Again, though, it seems Black Adam is dying and needs to potentially pass on his legacy. Priest and Sandoval work together spectacularly as political insights and jokes sync with fight scenes or imagery of Black Adam's skin suffering from some surreal necrosis all in a perfect synchronicity. It's a fantastic start, and I'd recommend checking out this debut!

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Why a, "Kraven," Movie?

I've been wrong about movies before. I predicted, "Venom," would flop only to find it--and the sequel--did gangbusters at the box office. The, "Venom," movies were actually pretty solid too. Now, "Morbius," did get a lukewarm box office take, but the star (Jared Leto) has fans split between those who like him or hate him, and the movie apparently was just kind of meh (it spawned a lot of memes, though). Therefore, when I ask why we are getting a, "Kraven," movie I am perhaps being overly negative and it'll be a hit. That said, Kraven, really?

Kraven's whole gimmick is that he is a dude who likes to hunt stuff. I can only think of two good Kraven stories off the top of my head. "Kraven's Last Hunt," which resulted in him dying for a number of years after he thought he had, "Defeated," Spider-Man and proven himself the best hunter ever. Then, in the modern age we've got when he popped-up in, "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl," almost more as a form of comedic relief than a villain. We are getting a Kraven movie though that may very well tie in a bit with, "Venom," and, "Morbius," as Sony seemingly attempts to set up a group of villains (they have the rights to) who will go up against Spider-Man at some point. Still, why a, "Kraven," movie? I guess I could also ask why we're getting an, "El Muerto," flick as well even though in the end the answer is, "Because Sony has these characters and wants to make money with them." Fair enough.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Rights to Conan the Barbarian Are Incredibly Confusing

Conan the Barbarian is in the public domain in the UK but not yet in the United States for a handful more years. The rights to the character are held by Heroic Signatures and Conan has bounced around so many publishers (with or without their support) that it boggles the mind. You've had Conan at Marvel, Dark Horse, those Abalze comics that carefully walk the line of not infringing on copyright, and now the rights have been given to Titan, although Marvel can still use Conan for some time in titles such as the fantastic, "Savage Avengers." It is incredibly messy and once we hit January 1st, 2028 (I think it is then) all the original stories and the basic likeness of Conan will be available for anyone to use in America too. Till then, we gotta squeeze every last dollar out of the rights that we can, I guess!

Monday, June 20, 2022

It's Bad When Your Game is so Buggy it Can't Be Completed...and You Knew About it

Aspry, the developer/porter behind the Nintendo Switch version of, "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II," was confronted by fans recently. You see, people were playing the game and noticed a major glitch. Namely, it is impossible to finish the game because it always freezes at a point halfway through. How the dickens did this happen?

Normally a studio has quality assurance people and bug testers who should notice that a game--you know--stops working halfway through. The studio acknowledged it is aware of this major issue and is working on a fix. The ETA for that fix is, "Dunno, sometime?" Clearly, Aspry was aware the game was a mess and still released it to the digital Nintendo store. The whole thing is pretty embarrassing to witness.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Today is Juneteenth and Father's Day!

Two holidays occur today. It is both Juneteenth and Father's Day! To summarize the holidays, Juneteenth celebrates how some of the last enslaved people within the United States were freed in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation thanks to troops forcing slave owners in Texas to free their, “Property.” Father's Day honors dads and father figures. For those who want to learn more about Juneteenth or how to acknowledge it, Charles M. Blow has a fantastic opinion piece discussing, "How to Celebrate Juneteenth." As for how to celebrate Father's Day, ask your Dad or Father figure what you can do to help the day be special for them! We will be relaxing and taking Clarkson to play at a kid's gym/play place, so that will be nice.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

I Had a Blast at the St. Louis Comic-Con Today!

The St. Louis Comic-Con runs through the weekend but I won't be able to attend tomorrow/Sunday, so I figured I'd write about all the fun I had today when I attended! I got there early in the morning and was pleased to see a variety of vendors--plenty selling comics, toys, and other cool stuff. I ran into my friend Larry of Bug's Comics and Games shortly after arriving at the show and picked up a cool, "Venom: Lethal Protector," variant cover from him. Check it out:
As I started walking around I visited the booth of Tango Comics. They make a variety of cool sci-fi, super-hero, and pulp-style comics in addition to promoting literacy for everyone younger to older. As I kept exploring I saw Big Dog Ink, a publisher whose work I've reviewed on previous occasions. They had a bunch of books for sale and discussed how they'd had great success with Kickstarter in regards to launching new titles. My chum, Bruce Reynolds was selling comics always is fun to speak with. I also met Edward Sims of Kensai Productions. I told him I remembered how I had bought a comic from him before on Etsy and discussed it on my blog. He was excited to hear this and I purchased the second issue of, "Rising Sun," as I'd read the first one previously. Here is a picture:

I continued exploring the show floor and I bought a tasty snack from Dave of House Family Homestead, some freeze-dried Skittles! We talked about the process of freeze-drying and how comic cons often loved his delicious items! I visited the booth of 1 More Round Entertainment and talked with them about their comic, "Evolusion," and how it was a blend of heroics and sci-fi in a World where things start evolving at an alarming rate and in wild ways. Chris, "ToyMan," McQuillen was at the con and I told him how I was eager for the upcoming ToyMan show on July 10th!  My friend and skilled comic creator Tom Nguyen was at the show as well, showcasing his awesome works. He was a joy to catch up with as I hadn't seen him in quite a while due to the pandemic. Here's a snapshot of him as well as a fun photo of us:
I had a lot of fun shopping the various booths at this year's St. Louis Comic-Con and chatting with the many creators showcasing their works. It was wonderful to have the Saint Louis Comic-Con back after a long (forced) break due to COVID-19 impacting the World what feels like forever ago. The show is still going on tomorrow so if you're in the area and able to attend I'd highly encourage you to do so!

Friday, June 17, 2022

Film Friday--Jurassic World: Dominion

I enjoyed "Jurassic World: Dominion," despite itself. It is overlong and bloated. It adds a whole new subplot about giant locusts to further complicate what should be a straightforward flick about Dinosaurs in the real world. It also focuses less on the clever idea of Dinos trying to coexist with humans that, "Fallen Kingdom," introduced and instead takes us back to a park of sorts--this time a, "Conservation park." We spend the second half of the movie in that conservation park and it would be a bit dull except for the fact it is when the film finally brings all the new leads (Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard) into contact with the returning nostalgia-packed leads (Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and good ol' Jeff Goldblum). 

I honestly enjoyed the first half of the movie a bit more as it had a chunk of the, "Dinosaurs in our World," plot I was expecting. Frankly, the movie is basically a number of big set pieces loosely tied together by a plot with an evil CEO who seems like a cross between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg with a fondness for genetic tampering. Various plot points overlap and diverge but it matters little because we're here for the big and impressive Dinosaurs, damn it. At least the movie does deliver on that.

We get Dinosaurs running along rooftops with humans in a scene that gave me, "Jason Bourne," vibes, but with Dinos, we get the big ol' creatures in the American wilderness being herded like cattle, we witness some huge ones fighting, and it is all a good time. Then the movie slows itself down to tell us more about genetically modified locusts with Dinosaur DNA and I start checking my phone until we get to some more prehistoric action.

The series has continually moved away from being science fiction that seems a bit plausible and goes full-out future-tech in this entry with the aforementioned conservation area being a jungle in the middle of freezing Italian Mountains surrounded by a fancy research base that looks a little bit like the corporate areas of, "Westworld." I don't mind it, but things are far removed from the now quaint-feeling vibe of the first, "Jurassic Park," we got decades ago. If it gets us weird and wild Dinosaurs though (one dives into icy water and swims like a lethal penguin), I'm cool with it.

"Jurassic World: Dominion," wants to feel futuristic but also feels obsessed with the past. A big enough check was written for the OG trio to all return and while Neil, Dern, and especially Goldblum seem to be having fun, it is often one big heaping helping of nostalgia designed to remind us of far more superior entries in the franchise (the first two films, "Jurassic Park III," can burn in Hell). I enjoyed this movie, but it felt like a letdown after how, "Fallen Kingdom," at least tried to do something different and a bit weirder with its horror-movie-styled second half that featured a genetically-modified raptor stalking through a mansion like a supernatural monster. "Dominion," did still entertain me even if it could have trimmed a good 30-45 minutes off its 2-and-a-half-hours of runtime. I give it...

3 out of 5 stars.

My ranking of the franchise now stands as...

1. Jurassic Park--5 stars

2. Jurassic World--I've rated it 5 stars before and stand by that.

3. Jurassic Park: The Lost World--4 stars.

4. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom--3.5 stars.

5. Jurassic World: Dominion--3 stars, as you saw above.

5. Jurassic Park III--1 star.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Tim Sale Has Passed

2022 has been a bad year for losing fantastic comic creators. A day or so ago it was made public Tim Sale had to be admitted to the hospital and now his passing has been announced. This sucks. Sale was a fantastic artist known for works such as, "Batman: The Long Halloween," in addition to the Marvel books with a color theme such as, "Daredevil: Yellow," "Spider-Man: Blue," "Captain America: White," and my personal favorite, "Hulk: Gray." Sale did a variety of other great works as well and I'm bummed he is no longer with us.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

I Wasted the Time of a Facebook Scammer in the Hopes it Helped Spare Someone Else Their Swindle

It's a grift that has been around forever but refuses to go away. Someone on Facebook contacts you and claims to work for the company. Then they say you won some mysterious lottery that entitles you to a bunch of money- and it isn't a scam, promise! It boggles my mind that people fall for this scam, but there are desperate and susceptible folks in the World. Hence, when a scammer tried to tell me I had somehow earned 600,000 in, "United State currency," as well as a truck, I decided I would waste their time in the hopes it saved someone else from being preyed upon by them.

It all began when a woman named Marie Linda messaged me. We had some mutual friends who worked in comic-books. I thought she perhaps was a comic creator who wanted to ask me to review something--an event that has occurred multiple times. I'll get folks messaging me through various means about their comic. No, however, she told me she actually worked for Facebook and I had apparently won a lottery. I immediately told her how excited I was and my plans for the money...

If you don't feel like clicking the image, I basically tell Marie how I'll use the money to bail my cousin, Jimbo, out of jail and then pay a girl I know for feet pictures. After Marie insisted I focus and pay attention, I apologized and asked if she wanted to see some memes. I proceeded to send her incredibly weird Veggie Tales pictures with bible quotes about death and Hell as well as a meme about how Snickers look like a veiny penis. I informed her I wanted to make money finding memes online like my friend Phil. I told her his full name was Phil Deez Nuts. Marie then sent the absolutely fakest pictures possible of stacks of money and a truck before I asked if I could have a car instead, at which point she said that was fine and sent pictures of a car that looked like they came from a Google search. Then things got weirder.

To prove how legitimate this lottery was Marie sent me a screenshot of an official FBI document signed by James Comey...who wasn't even working at the FBI when the lottery drawing supposedly happened a few months ago as Trump fired him, anyone who follows the news may recall. I didn't point this out, I just said how I didn't trust the FBI because they tried to shut down my goat farm. Here is the, "Official," letter in question:

Wait, there's more! Apparently, Marie wanted to share with me pictures of winners holding up pieces of paper advertising all the money they won as well as a screenshot of a news story about a winner that totally looked authentic. She seriously sent me this:

I don't know about you, but that really boosts my confidence in this whole thing being an authentic giveaway. I told Marie that I wanted more money and she should take some from other winners and give it to me. I was informed I should not be greedy and I apologized. I told Marie I was exhausted from working at a jar factory where I helped make jars but sometimes farted in them. I asked her not to tell anyone about that though. She responded with a laughing emoji but I was pretty sure her patience was wearing thin with me. At this point, she typed out and sent me a list of a whole bunch of personal information she needed to start the process of getting me paid (information Facebook would already have anyways). I told her I needed to make a sandwich that I would eat nude to feel closer to nature. 

She stopped responding after this as I continued to type random gibberish such as asking if Mark Zuckerberg was actually a robot created by Bill Clinton. I closed our conversation by saying she must have figured out I was messing with her and that she should be ashamed of being a scammer. I blocked and reported her. It was an entertaining way to pass 15 minutes and I really do hope the time that, "Marie Linda," wasted with me helped keep someone else from being fooled. I mean, that or she really did want to give me $600,000 and I made a huge mistake. That official news story did say the lottery was, "Real and Legitimate," after all...

Monday, June 13, 2022

The New Version of PlayStation Plus is Live

Microsoft has its game pass and Sony has launched a new PlayStation Plus with different tiers that are a little confusing but (they hope) will compete with what Microsoft has. Now you can have the bare-bones level (Essential) which is what used to be the only version of PlayStation Plus. You can use that to play online and get a few free games, a higher level (Extra) that gives you a chunk of PS4 and PS5 titles. There also is the Premium tier which brings with it even more and older PlayStation games plus trials of stuff and other bonuses, I imagine. 

I don't play a ton of games so for now I'm good with the most basic option that allows me to join others online when I'm doing, "Fall Guys," for my son to giggle at and otherwise get a free title now and then. That said, if you want a big catalog of titles on the Playstation to stream, you've got some options now.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Bits of News, Links, and Other Junk for June 2022

The Long Days of June!

I think it has been a bit since I did a post where I gathered up interesting bits of news and shared them with you, my dear readers. Let's rectify that now and enjoy some links as we prepare to kick off Summer this upcoming June 21st (or if you're in the Southern Hemisphere, you start Winter).

News and Things to Learn About

Christopher Priest is a fantastic writer who has created a ton of great stuff over the decades. A recent superb run of his was on, "Deathstroke," and he's currently doing a bunch of, "Vampirella," related comics that made me interested in the character for the first time ever. He'll be writing a new, "Black Adam," comic coming out very soon in addition to a surreal-sounding comic titled, "Entropy," published by Heavy Metal. It takes place in the Heavy Metal comic universe of, "Taarna," and features the origin of a new villain, but I'm just excited because I enjoy almost anything Priest creates.

"Jurassic World: Dominion," received lukewarm-to-awful reviews, but it still is a movie with dinosaurs so it is raking in the cash. I'll see it with my brother-in-law sometime soon and as long as it's moderately entertaining I'll be happy.

Ever since Marvel aligned itself with Penguin Random House as the main distributor of its comics there have been concerns over the packaging. Apparently, changes are being made to help keep the comics a bit safer. I mean, less ruined comics would be good.

Cryptocurrency/NFTs are faltering, but influencer/lifestyle guru Gary Vaynerchuk’s NFT should succeed thanks to it involving him, as he tells it. I'd never heard of him, but apparently, he has quite the fanbase that might make any project he does fruitful, even (*shudder*) Crytpo.

In movie news that involves a video-game, the creative team behind, "Cobra Kai," are making a, "Duke Nukem," movie. I could see this actually working if it is really self-aware and meta as Duke Nukem's character is...well, not so much a character as a stereotype of a sexist jerk who says random movie quotes he stole.

In video-game news that draws from a movie, "The Thing," was a fantastic movie with a game that tried to be great but just couldn't achieve it's lofty goals. Patrick Klepek, of Vice, wrote about the game on its 20th anniversary (and the movie is now 40 years old, which is just wild).

Let's Have a Great Summer!

I hope everyone can have a great Summer season (or, again, if they're in the Southern part of the World they have a great Winter)! Now get out there and have some Summer fun!

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Two Currently Popular Songs Make Me Want to Dance

Everyone is aware I often complain about today's popular music. Besides some great exceptions, I find a lot of stuff today that gets attention vapid and empty. I'm not always a curmudgeon, however. There are two songs right now that are quite popular and which I find myself really enjoying. The ditties are, "About Damn Time," by Lizzo and, "Late Night Talking," by Harry Styles. Both are talented artists who have put out a number of hits and this pair of tunes are just infinitely catchy. With their floaty melodies, toe-tapping beats, and clever lyrics, I'm hooked on both. I don't really have much of a point to this post other than using it to say, "See? I like some of the popular stuff these days!" Anyways, give the tunes a listen and just try not to dance.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Film Friday: "Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers," is Surprisingly Awesome

 I wrote back in February that the trailer for the, "Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers," movie actually looked really good. It was about a World like the one from, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," where cartoons are real and live with humans. Chip and Dale had a show, it got canceled, and they went on to do different things with their life. However, cartoon characters are going missing, and when a friend seems to be kidnapped Chip and Dale have to reunite so they can work together again. It's an extremely meta and quite hilarious flick. 

The mix of animation, live-action, claymation, CG, and everything else works together surprisingly well, the cameos and references don't feel forced but instead add to the plot, and some of the characters who appear and the jokes had me shocked Disney greenlit this as it really makes fun of a lot of stuff. John Mulaney and Andy Samberg voice Chip and Dale, respectively, but tons of other famous faces appear and voices are heard. It's a stacked cast and I was often chuckling or outright guffawing at the flick. There is plenty of heart in it too, which makes this a comedy where you actually care about the characters. I am pleased to say this is the rare, "Kids' Flick," that grown-ups can enjoy just as much as little ones, if not even more. Why Disney didn't release this in theaters first is beyond me, but you can watch, "Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers," on Disney+ right now. I'd suggest you do so and thank me later.

5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

They Really Meme'd the, "Morbius," Movie Back Into Theaters. It Didn't Help

Memes do not mean a movie will be a hit. Sometimes memes help a movie and more people see it, like that, "Birdbox," movie on Netflix. Sometimes memes don't help a flick get more viewers in theaters or at home--just Google the debacle that became, "Snakes on a Plane." This leads me to discuss how, "Moribus," was received lukewarmly at the box office, but has since then become a popular meme. People say things like, "It's Morbin' time," and watch clips of the movie (or somewhat illegally the whole movie) on Twitch together. Everyone is making fun of, "Morbius," and laughing at it, but Sony thought maybe people were laughing with it. Sony put, "Moribus," back into theaters and it didn't do that well in the company's effort to take advantage of the meme-popularity and make it a cult hit or something.

Even the film's star, Jared Leto, has wanted to get in on the joke.

Memes do not a successful movie make. Perhaps, "Birdbox," is a bit of an exception, but people could see that for free in their homes in 2018 (as long as they had Netflix) and didn't have to go to theaters in a pre-pandemic era. I have not seen, "Moribus," but I've heard it is perfectly fine in a mediocre way. I don't know why a generic flick has inspired so many memes, but let's quit assuming memes lead to dollars at the box office.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

I'm Going to Have My Own Table at a Local Comic Show!

The Spector Club puts on a comic show in the event space of the VFW located at 7300 Lansdowne in Shrewsbury, Missouri. They do it every couple of months and I asked about getting a table so that I could sell a bunch of my dollar comics and some that I would label with prices. They said there would be space for me to have a table so I'll be there from 10AM-2PM this Sunday, June 12th! I will have some shortboxes full of comics I'll be selling for just a dollar as well as some more notable stuff. If you happen to live in the region I'd encourage you to stop by and check out the show. It is only $2 to get in and the room is always full of vendors selling cool comics. See you there!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Infamous Troll, Elon Musk, Lied About Wanting to Buy Twitter? I'm So Shocked!

Elon Musk is very rich but seems to be very unhappy. He gets in arguments with random people on Twitter and generally makes what the kids call, "Shitposts," in the hope people will like him. He has some successful businesses but often seems to be his own worst enemy due to public statements he makes, many on Twitter. Musk acted like he was going to put forth a serious effort to buy Twitter and make it a private company, but it looks like he was doing what he does best, trolling people. Musk previously claimed if the UN gave him information on how his money could help with World Hunger he'd donate a bunch of cash. They provided data and he did nothing. Musk said if Twitter could give him a bunch of info on how it runs he would buy it. Now he's trying to go back on that too. 

Musk is like that kid who claims he could totally do all kinds of crazy stunts on his new BMX bike, but it's currently locked in the shed and only his girlfriend from Canada who was visiting last week but just left happens to have the keys due to a mix-up. It just lies after lies and trolling after trolling with Musk. Did Musk ever truly want to buy Twitter? Maybe he did, but I am not surprised it turned out to be another grift.

Television Tuesday: "The Sandman," Has a Release Date

I read a chunk of, "The Sandman," which was written by Neil Gaiman and had a variety of fantastic artists. It is considered by many to be among the best stuff to come out from Vertigo (may that imprint rest in peace). The television show adaptation on Netflix was announced what feels like forever ago but now we've got a trailer with an official release date--August 5th. The comic was a great blend of fantasy, horror, and general weirdness. The bit we've seen advertised looks pretty snazzy too. Here is that trailer with the release date:

I'd be open to checking it out! Gaiman has been heavily involved in the show's creation and it has a fantastic cast. Guess we'll see come August 5th how it is!

Monday, June 6, 2022

"The Collected Prairie Pothole," Offers Great Slice-of-Life Comics

John Porcellino is a comic creator known for his long-running, "King Cat," series. He's a talented guy and for a short time, he contributed a comic to, "The Chicago Reader," known as, "Prairie Pothole." It featured fun slice-of-life stories with his great artwork but only went for 16 entries before the paper changed its formatting and didn't have a section for him anymore. Still, all the comics are collected here in, "The Collected Prarie Pothole," along with other entries Porcellino created and put on Patreon--for a total of 28 and some other fun bonus material. 

The four-panel strips are insightful, clever, and often humorous. Porcellino's art is a little minimalist but he'll stick some detail to the main elements of whatever he's drawing. These strips take little moments in life and spotlight them in fun ways. "The Collected Prarie Pothole," is a lovely little read and I'd encourage you to ask a comic shop to order it for you/for you to buy it from the publisher, Uncivilized Books, at this link.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

They Still Publish, "Penthouse," in 2022?--An Essay on Print Magazines, the Internet, and the Evolution of Titillation

Before we embark on this big essay I want to clarify I am not a doctor or professional anthropologist/sociologist. I simply have a Master's Degree in Public Health and worked in various positions including one focused on sexual health before I left the workforce to be a stay-at-home parent. I continue to be fascinated by how the media impacts our lives and sexuality, so I created this big article. Now then, here we go...

Playboy magazine quietly stopped existing as a printed publication in the Spring of 2020. It released its last issue with little fanfare and now exists more as a brand of the bunny rabbit logo on merchandise than anything else. I mean, there is an online archive of articles and pictorials people can subscribe to so they can look back on the glory days, but for all intents and purposes, "Playboy," is a shadow of what it once was. The Comics Journal's R.C. Harvey did a retrospective on, "Playboy," and Hugh Hefner himself that wasn't overly critical or fawning of the complex legacy the man and magazine left behind for better or worse. It wasn't just Playboy that existed, however. It had competitors in the form of the much more raunchy and edgy, "Hustler," and the somewhat tamer, "Penthouse." What happened to them, though?

"Hustler," still puts out some magazines (like the niche-style, "Taboo," and, "Barely Legal,") that are pretty much just pictorials of hardcover pornography with DVDs sometimes included because I guess it helps promote their internet sites although the company itself admits that soon its print iterations will be kaput. "Penthouse," must surely be dead or not putting out anything especially, "New," beyond best-of pictorial compilations, right? Nope, much to my surprise when I Googled it, "Penthouse," releases new issues.

I didn't realize, "Playboy," stopped much how R.C. Harvey was surprised to learn it after the fact. Hence, when I wondered about the fate of, "Penthouse," I was utterly shocked it still is putting out issues every other month or so. Back in 2016 it was rumored it would cease releasing a print magazine, but that was denied by the company and here it still is, against all odds. Perhaps it gets enough advertisers that the magazine can be released and offer cheap subscriptions. Maybe the website with more explicit content helps pay for the magazine potentially operating at a loss. I honestly do not know. 

The final issue of, "Playboy."

It is no secret that, "Playboy," had some amazing articles, comics, and short fiction. I honestly would sometimes read the magazine for its great writing, as nerdy as that sounds (I was eventually able to get one of the later issues that featured a Simon Hansenlmann comic I was after when I posted about the struggle that turned out to be). "Penthouse," never was really known for its articles. As for how raunchy it could be, I checked Wikipedia and from 1998 to 2005 it could be pretty, "Hardcore," but then softened itself back up and became a bit tamer like, "Playboy," again. This leads to the question of if, "Penthouse," is any good, still?

I picked up the May/June 2022 issue on eBay (eBay banned most adult material a while ago but allows tame magazines) as I didn't immediately see it at my local Barnes and Noble. It arrived in the mail and I opened it up. There are some little mini-articles with news tidbits, a feature on that Canadian trucker shitshow that happened, an article about billionaire Mark Cuban, and a number of softcore pictorials. The articles are fine but not fantastic like the literature, "Playboy," put out and the images are, well, half-naked to mostly-naked women posing. If you caught your teenage son or daughter reading this in their bedroom you wouldn't be shocked so much as you'd look at them quizzically and say, "You do realize stuff 100X raunchier than this can be found with a quick search on your phone, right?" I mean, unlike with the departed, "Playboy," you aren't reading this for the articles. To answer my question of if, "Penthouse," is any good still, I have to ask if it was ever that great?

Arguably what, "Penthouse," is most known for.

"Penthouse," lacked the insightful journalism, short stories, comics, and so forth of, "Playboy." It didn't have the lowbrow rabble-rouser vibe of mischief that Larry Flynt brought with, "Hustler," along with some really edgy content. "Penthouse," just always kind of existed and if it was known for anything it was perhaps the supposedly real letters they received full of outrageously impossible sexual encounters, Still, somehow in 2022 it still exists. It maybe wasn't better than, "Playboy," but it's still here, so I guess it wins by default when compared to its closest competitor in terms of content. There are plenty of other adult magazines, but they are just pictorials full of explicit sex--with, "Hustler," being the most well-known. The vibe (no pun intended) of, "Penthouse," is one of, "We're naked and will talk about sex, but we also want to be classy." That's perfectly fine, even if when I ask who this magazine could be for I can only reason it appeals to folks who want to see naked women without using a computer or buying anything too raunchy. As I doubt, "Penthouse," will provide me their exact circulation numbers I am unsure how many people like that exist, but enough for it to give us six-or-so issues a year.

The concept of titillation has evolved. You can watch everything from moderately tame sex to really extreme and over-the-top pornography for free now with the stroke of a keyboard (that time I intended the pun). We as a society like to act like we have modesty, but the sex genie is out of the bottle, and few people beyond the most extremely religious/prudish/etc. would find much offense to a printed magazine with some breasts and a little bit of vulva compared to the hot trending video of the day on a popular adult streaming site. "Playboy," used to shock and arouse people, bringing with it the concept of a lifestyle of someone who reads insightful articles, short fiction, and likes sex. Now it isn't a lifestyle so much as selling a crazy erotic fantasy for a few minutes at a time on a website--with some fantasies being quite far out there. This leads us to the biggest thing that has changed our idea of arousal and sex in recent history--in my opinion. Yes, I'm talking about Onlyfans and other sites of its ilk.

If you're an adult and have a decent internet connection you can now be a small-time or big-time porn star. You don't need to fly out to a big city and pose for some pictures or film an adult movie for a studio. You can just create an account, film yourself doing whatever you're comfortable with, and potentially make money. With a good enough, "Hook," and some social media savvy you can get a solid following and make money. Are sites like Onlyfans at this point basically saturated with men and women who probably only get enough followers to afford some weekly groceries compared to a small percentage who make a ton of money? I say, "Probably?" Still, if you can appeal to the right kink or niche, you can do pretty well, as plenty of articles about these sites discuss. People don't really want to buy a generic adult magazine if they have something really specific they are into. If you're a furry, want to watch people stomp on food, or anything else that is out-there but legal, I'm sure an Onlyfans/Clips4Sale/whatever exists to turn you on.

 Titillation has evolved thanks to the internet and society becoming more open about sex in general (not all parts of society, but enough for there to be a seismic change). Many of us shrug at the idea that our friend is showing their genitals online to get some extra cash whereas even just 20 years ago learning someone you knew had created adult content would most certainly register a reaction. We get horny for something specific and the internet supplies it, "Why would we read a magazine to get turned on now?" people say. Yes, "Penthouse," exists, somehow, but it is more of an exception standing against a relentless tide trying to knock it over than anything else. This metaphorical tide is bringing in all the camgirls and camguys the World could ever handle, and it is changing the landscape of how we view arousal and get aroused for the foreseeable future. Again, the sex genie is out of the bottle, and they are clearly sticking around.

I'm an extremely progressive and open-minded person. As long as what turns you on doesn't hurt anyone and is purely consensual between adults I support your kink. I have zero problems with people making an Onlyfans as a job or working as a server in a restaurant if they'd rather do that, they're both work. I merely am astounded at how the way we view sex and sexuality has changed some much in the past couple of decades. Titillation has evolved, and what the future holds for our views on sex and arousal is bound to be quite interesting.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Mini-Run Review: The Latest, "Ghost Rider," Series Has Been Surprisingly Horror-Filled

I've been reading the new, "Ghost Rider," comic from Marvel and if I may say, it is shockingly dark and gruesome for a mainstream comic. Considering this doesn't have the (mostly defunct) MAX label you get a lot of horrifying content and some shocking gore in a, "Hero," comic. I ain't mad about it though.

Written by Benjamine Percy with art by Cory Smith, the series kicked off with Johnny Blaze living in a seemingly perfect town, his memories a bit of a mess after a nasty motorcycle accident. It was revealed to be a secret Hellscape that was keeping him contained and he broke out so that he could start hunting down the demons causing a mess in the World while he was distracted--and he wants to figure out who tricked him too. The second issue involved a hotel run by a man who was killing people to feed to a demon and the third issue just came out this week. It involves a highway with a demon truck of sorts causing all kinds of death and destruction. It's been good stuff.

This run of, "Ghost Rider," leans heavily into viewing the Ghost Rider as a terrifying force that destroys anything it feels deserves vengeance--Blaze outright refers to it as a weapon in the third issue that he only can hope is pointed in the correct direction. It sounds a little like the Hulk, but the Ghost Rider isn't a rage monster, it is a fiery source of power that judges and dispenses justice without mercy. Percy gives each of the three issues so far a stark degree of dread and terror with Smith's artwork being grotesque in the best way possible. Johnny Blaze doesn't so much transform into the Ghost Rider in this series so much as he melts or rips off his flesh to reveal the Ghost Rider burning its way out. Again, how this managed to make it past Marvel's editorial team in an era where they hesitate to do anything too edgy astounds me, but I like it. There are some other subplots with the FBI apparently trying to track down the Ghost Rider and a team of magic-users possibly helping Blaze, but for me, the main draw is seeing the Ghost Rider just be plain scary.

The current, "Ghost Rider," run only has three issues out so far but I'm quite impressed with what Benjamin Percy and Cory Smith have given us so far. The amount of horror content they've injected into the series is surprising but I definitely appreciate it. Should you like your superhero comics with more of a monstrous bent then you ought to check this current, "Ghost Rider," out.

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Taco Bell Brought Back the Mexican Pizza and Promptly Sold Out of It

I enjoy some menu items at Taco Bell--I will substitute chicken in my burritos or cheesy gordita crunch meals and often find that tasty. I know people make fun of Taco Bell for not being, "Real Mexican food," but it isn't like our American take on Chinese food is that accurate either. This leads me to discuss how the, "Mexican Pizza," that folks loved at Taco Bell was finally brought back only to promptly sell out and be nearly impossible to find.

Our nation is going through a lot. We've got soaring gas prices, supply chain shortages of baby formula, a friendly country under siege (Ukraine), and now people can't even enjoy a Mexican Pizza. I'm being a little silly about how serious a problem this is, but folks are legit angry on the internet (you may have heard of it) and want their beloved Mexican Pizzas. Hopefully, this nightmare can be resolved and Mexican Pizza will be back for all who desire it to enjoy in a short period of time.