Wednesday, November 30, 2022

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," Has Shock but Lacks Much of Any Awe

Note: This review contains spoilers for the plot, or what there is of it.

First off, there was a, "Modern Warfare 2," game in 2009 but I'm talking about the 2022 version. If you are confused that is perfectly okay. For those of you familiar with the, "Call of Duty," franchise, it has focused on conflicts from World War II, to possible future wars, to the modern-ish day. Some of the games are a bit insightful and at times have an interesting message to impart about war and its futility--nothing close to, "Spec Ops: The Line," but something. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II," doesn't have much of a message besides, "America, Love it (and Some Allies) or Go to Hell in Cool Fiery Explosions."

This is a game where a bunch of bad buzzwords have teamed up to put the United States in danger via a Mad-Libs-styled team of Iranian terrorists, Mexican cartels, and Russia (depending on the era of the Call of Duty games Russia is a friend or huge foe). To combat this mix of dangers it falls upon America along with some other friendly troops (a Brit named Ghost, a Scottish fellow named Soap, and some, "Good," Mexicans who aren't corrupt among other random folks). The result is a big and dumb jingoistic action movie where rules keep the good guys from getting the job done and sometimes they have to violate international laws in the name of freedom. It's a cynical paradox but one that is never actually thought about in any deep manner. This is a game that views the World through a prism of good, evil, and little else. Ed Smith of Polygon called it, "A masterpiece in the worst way." That said, even something vapid and visceral can be admittedly mindless fun.

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," is a series of moments and vague political gesturing in search of a plot. There are people who hate our freedom and want to destroy us, we have to go after them before they can hurt us, morals be damned. Should our efforts to stop bad guys result in cool night-vision shoot-outs, hopping truck to truck on a dusty highway, or raiding an oil tanker in a blinding rainstorm (it looks great on the PS5), then all the better. Will there be the usual betrayal halfway through where someone who you thought was on your side turns out to be evil? Well yeah, this is a, "Modern Warfare," game! 

This is where I give the one, count it one, piece of credit that is due to, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2." Another villain in the game turns out to be a private military company/PMC. Anyone who is familiar with these entities knows they are basically mercenaries who can be hired by any country and follow none of its laws/rules of engagement. At first, you work with them but then they turn out to be jerks, and the fact that this game takes any stand at all beyond the usual, "Pro-war, pro-intervention," one and says that maybe PMCs are bad is at least...well, not admirable, but something, maybe?

For real though, if you want to read up on some history when it comes to America and PMCs a whole lot of shady stuff can be found (just Google, "Blackwater," for starters). At least this game takes a stand of sorts that hiring people to fight your wars could be a bad idea (I mean, the, "Metal Gear Solid," series touched on this years ago, of course, but at least this game is doing the bare minimum in one element). I agree with Claire Jackson of Kotaku in observing that once Shadow Company is revealed as a villainous entity the game gets a bit more interesting story-wise, although I was entertained by some of the bombastic parts in the earlier segments--you hang upside down from a Helicopter at one point by a rope shooting at terrorists, it's zany.

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," is generally as deep as a muddy puddle. Just like a puddle, it provides an ugly reflection of one way to view the World. Puddles can be fun to jump around in, however, splashing about and having a good time. Still, you eventually need to go back inside and wash all the grime off. I had fun with this game, but I'm ready to rinse the cynicism and its simplistic messaging of, "Us-versus-them," away. I imagine there are real people who view international politics with a rhetoric as reductive and spiteful as this game, but I honestly hope they are kept as far away from any real power as possible.

4 out of 5 stars in regards to fun.

1 out of 5 stars when it comes to having an actual message.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Television Tuesday: The First Two Episodes of, "Welcome to Chippendales," Are Fantastic

Up until recently, I did not realize how much bloodshed was involved in the male stripping industry, at least in regards to Chippendales. There have been podcasts and documentaries discussing the rise and fall of the famous brand, but, "Welcome to Chippendales," is a fantastic dramatization of the whole thing, delivered in a tone that is both at once ominous and darkly comic. Kumail Nanjiani plays the founder of Chippendales, Steve Banerjee. An Indian immigrant who used his savings from working at a gas station to found a Backgammon club, once that started failing he pivoted to a number of ideas before a strip club for women resulted in him hitting a gold mine. Then things went horribly wrong. 

The first two episodes of this eight-episode series dropped last week on Hulu and a third episode (which I still need to watch) is out today. Through these two initial entries, we see how Chippendales rose to fame quite quickly through Banerjee's keen business mind and assistance from choreographer Nick De Noia (played superbly by Murray Bartlett). The whole cast is great, with Dan Stevens' Paul Snider absolutely dripping with an equal mixture of sleaze and desperation. Annaleigh Ashford as Chippendales' accountant and Banerjee's love interest, Irene, is fantastic as well. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how Juliette Lewis is always a treat in any role and she's here along with Quentin Plair as a dancer named Otis with a lot more to him than dancing.

There are elements of, "Welcome to Chippendales," that are a bit exaggerated or fictionalized, but when you Google certain things that happen in the show it is astounding how stranger truth is than fiction in some cases. I know a bit about everything that happens, but I'm still incredibly entertained seeing how we get there, with Nanjiani totally stealing the show as Banerjee. If you have Hulu I'd recommend tuning in and getting ready for one of the most bizarre stories of show business you'll ever witness.

5 out of 5 stars (for the first two episodes).

Monday, November 28, 2022

My Least Favorite Holiday Commercial is Back

I hate holiday car/truck commercials. Unless your bank account is flush with cash I can't imagine most people just randomly surprising their partner or family with a car. The most annoying version of this ad is the one where the man surprises his lady with a puppy by whistling before she then whistles and reveals he gets a truck. It's just dumb. You should always talk with a partner/family before randomly getting a pet or vehicle. Both are expensive and both are a responsibility.  The latest version of the ad can be seen at this link, but it has been around for a chunk of years. I recall how, "Saturday Night Live," skewered these advertisements with its own parody a couple of years ago. Check it out:

Now that's an ad!

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Mad Cave Studios Has Expanded to Lunar For Distribution; The Trend Continues

I wrote earlier this month about how AWA was expanding their comic distribution beyond Diamond to also work with Lunar. I discussed how it seemed like there was a trend where--if I may quote myself--"I'm pretty sure these publishers who are sticking with Diamond but also willing to work with Lunar and/or PRH are hedging their bets on Diamond's comic division folding or otherwise not being used by a chunk of stores." Now, Mad Cave Studios will be working with Lunar as well as Diamond. More publishers expanding to other distributors. Bets are getting hedged.

I honestly think that even if folks hate Diamond, they do need them for the distribution of a chunk of stuff, but ever since 2020 (which seems like eons ago) Diamond has lost its once firm grip on the comic distribution market as the sole entity. As long as Image and a variety of other publishers stick with Diamond as their sole distributor their comic division will struggle along. Plus, many comic and comic/collectible stores will need Diamond for a variety of items besides comics. Still, times are rapidly changing.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

There Are a Lot of, "Spawn," Variant Covers Coming for December

Next month we will get a ton of, "Spawn," variant covers to celebrate the character's 30th anniversary this year of 2022 (yep, 1992 was 30 years ago, which makes me feel old). There will be a lot of variant covers from Image--where Todd McFarlane created Spawn--and a whole bunch from DC. The ones at DC are because there is that big new crossover coming up between Spawn and Batman, so why not have a bunch of covers featuring Spawn with other DC heroes/villains? It is kind of fun, but man, that is a lot of Spawn.

I recently was in a discussion on Reddit with folks when someone posted how they loved the artwork in Spawn comics but found the writing to be painful. I commented that I weirdly enough really like Spawn stories not written by McFarlane. That sounds odd, but I have a fondness for the, "Hellspawn," series Brian Michael Bendis and Steve Niles wrote with Ashley Wood and Ben Templesmith doing the artwork. I also liked the crossover with WildC.A.T.S. that was written by Alan Moore of all people and considered hokey and dumb by some, but I feel it has a silly charm. Again though, when McFarlane himself writes his creation, I tune out any text and simply enjoy the artwork.

Do we need so many, "Spawn," covers? Probably not. Are some clever and do many of them look quite pretty? Yes, yes they do. These covers are like a lot of, "Spawn," content, frankly. A ton of style and minimal examples of substance. Just enjoy the pretty pictures and move along, in other words.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Film Friday/Flashback Friday: "Die Another Day," Did Have at Least One Clever Idea

I was reading an article by Kyle Turner on, "Paste," that doesn't argue so much that, "Die Another Day," was good, but had some interesting ideas. The movie came out in 2002 and I recall seeing it in theaters and another time some years later, but that was it. Hence, my memory of the flick is a bit foggy, but I can say it was not very good. Overreliance on CGI, a plot that leaned far too heavily in sci-fi for my liking, and just general messiness. However, one over-the-top element actually kind of works in retrospect. The big villain of the movie is a North Korean terrorist--Col. Sun-Tan Moon--and he's had ample gene therapy and plastic surgery to resemble a white British dude modeled after Pierce Brosnan's James Bond. 

Going by the name Gustav Graves, he's able to gain power and respect now so that he can take those he hates (but resembles) down. As Turner observes in his article, "On a literal level, it’s fascinating and unsettling, racialization inverting itself and whiteness becoming a snake eating its own tail: Graves tells Bond that he modeled his persona after him, with, 'Unjustifiable swagger,' and, 'crass quips,' a funhouse mirror of the man whose love only extends to Queen and country." The big baddie is someone who exists basically as a mockery of everything James Bond is and stands for. That's such a surreal and strange idea that it is one part of the movie which actually kind of works even if to get there you need a bunch of made-up jargon about gene replacement and altering DNA.

Gustav Graves...or is he?

Someone hates Bond and the UK so much that he basically becomes an extreme and nearly parodic version of what he despises and finds himself beloved for it. The whole thing is a bit like when Max and Leo try to make a play so bad it'll bomb in, "The Producers," but they end up with a massive hit because the result is so absurd that the concept strangely works. It's just that in, "Die Another Day," we don't get, "Springtime for Hitler," we get a North Korean terrorist who transforms himself into a WASP-y Brit.

Don't get me wrong, "Die Another Day," is still pretty low on my list of Bond movies I've seen (The Daniel Craig-led, "Casino Royale," is probably my all-time favorite), but I'll admit it does at least one thing that is interesting and clever along with all the less entertaining stuff. To be fair, Halle Berry does what she can with her role as Bond's latest fling, but if you want Berry giving her all in a genre flick, I'd recommend, "Swordfish," anytime over this movie.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Enjoy Thanksgiving 2022!

If you're in America or its territories, you might be celebrating Thanksgiving today. Should you be doing so I hope you have a fun holiday and eat plenty of tasty food. If you're the person preparing the food, don't forget to give yourself a break as well. I'll be chilling with Samii and Clarkson as well as my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, so it'll just be a pretty relaxed day. Have a good one, everybody!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

"Cuff It," Is the Beyonce I Know and Enjoy

Earlier this year I made a post discussing how I was not a fan of Beyonce's song, "Break My Soul." I found it to be a rare misstep, but now with, "Cuff It," getting popular I can say that is a tune I enjoy. It's catchy, has peppy and sexy lyrics, and makes me wanna groove. "Cuff It," has a bit of a retro vibe with the funky guitar and horns straight out of a 70's jam, but doesn't feel like a wholesale rip-off that way, "Break My Soul," was reminiscent of a mediocre house music song. Have a listen:

That's a darn good song right there. I knew even if, "Break My Soul," let me down something else would be a return to form, and "Cuff It," is quite great.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Television Tuesday: "Pepsi, Where's My Jet?"

I watched the Netflix mini-series, "Pepsi, Where's My Jet?" over the weekend and it was delightful. The mini-series chronicles over four episodes how a man named John in his 20's sued Pepsi for a Harrier jet back in the 1990s. It was advertised as if it were a part of an ad campaign where you could use Pepsi points to get a t-shirt, glasses, a bag, or (theoretically) a jet. As Pepsi did not advertise the jet as being a joke (at first) this led to a very real case when John submitted money for Pepsi points (with assistance from an investor and friend named Todd) and requested his jet. 

The documentary approaches all of this madness with a nice lighthearted tone and is quite fun. At just four episodes it doesn't stretch the story out too much either as interviews with former advertising pros, Pepsi execs, lawyers, and plenty of discussion with John himself. If you don't know whether John eventually got his jet (or money equal to its value) I won't spoil the ending, but even if you do know how everything shook out the story is still worth hearing and seeing in this great little documentary.

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Simon Hanselmann's "Below Ambition," Mixes Depressing and Funny into a Strangely Satisfying Blend

Simon Hanselmann has spent years doing his, "Megahex," comics featuring Megg, Mogg, Owl, Werewolf Jones, and other surreal characters. He then achieved massive critical and commercial success with his strip, "Crisis Zone." It chronicled his characters in an alternate continuity of sorts as they responded in real-time (he did the strip daily) to COVID-19 shutting everything down throughout 2020 and resulting in utter mayhem. A collection of, "Crisis Zone," was published in 2021 and it was a massive book that practically burst at the seams with all the wild hijinks and events that took place. It was one of my favorite comics of the year. How does Hanselmann possibly follow up such a book? Well, you can't really go larger, so why not narrow the focus? Hence, "Below Ambition."

"Below Ambition," is a series of vignettes that focus on Megg and Werewolf Jones as their two-person band, Horse Mania, tries and fails to succeed at live shows because they frankly suck. We witness Megg and WJ failing miserably to get their tech to work or make anything resembling music, all the while being absolutely vicious to any other band sharing sets with them at various bars. Compared to the sprawling, "Crisis Zone," this is absolutely minimalist, focusing mainly on Megg and WJ simply being miserable, high/drunk, and getting into trouble when they aren't screwing around in the alleys behind bars. It sounds horrifically dark and it is, but Hanselmann is a master at injecting humor into even the grimmest of situations. One strip features Megg so intoxicated she can only lay on the stage and beg for someone to just kill her while a bar's audience stares on aghast besides a friend/drug dealer of WJ's yelling about how the show needs some, "Live suicide!" The humor is as pitch-black as a cup of espresso and hits you just as hard.

If I may have a light spoiler in my review, the last strip takes us the farthest into the future I think a, "Megahex," comic has ever gone, featuring Megg with a young daughter who stumbles upon an old, "Horse Mania," record. This inspires a variety of feelings in Megg from nostalgic, to sad, to somewhat horny. The result is the book closing with a scene that is as raunchy and graphic as it is strangely sweet. I honestly could see people who only know Hanselmann for, "Crisis Zone," being really turned off by the extremely dark tone of, "Below Ambition." However, if someone is familiar with his earlier works or liked the really sorrowful-yet-funny, "Bad Gateway," then this should appeal to them immensely. I dug it.
5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

I Briefly Played, "Sonic Frontiers," and was Unimpressed

I have a longtime love of Sonic the Hedgehog and his games. From the class side-scrolling ones to the Dreamcast, "Sonic Adventure," games, there have been some fantastic titles...and some admittedly bad ones. I went into, "Sonic Frontiers," hopeful an open-world-styled Sonic game could be good and I was underwhelmed. There's a big island that looks pretty filled with weird robot creatures (a bit like the, "Horizon Zero Dawn," games) and you can run around as Sonic doing little tasks and sometimes have these more straightforward areas to run. You can level up sonic with items to gain more skills, and I just was bored really quickly. There are other things I'd rather try on my PS5 at this point, so I shut the game down and returned my rental to the store the next day.

Maybe I should've played longer and I would've had more fun, I always say in these posts that if a game doesn't grab my attention quickly I will often just give up on it to try something else. I'm at a point in my life where hearing how after five or so hours something gets good means I probably will avoid it lest I waste five hours waiting for a game to become entertaining. "Sonic Frontiers," was boring and I'm on to the next thing, that's how it goes nowadays. I mean, props to the game for trying something different and, "Getting weird," but I still found it dull.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

I Reviewed, "Doughnuts and Doom," for Forces of Geek

I recently posted about one review I did for my friends over at Forces of Geek, and have another to share as well! I read the original graphic novel, "Doughnuts and Doom," and shared my thoughts about it on their site. It's a meet-cute story about a witch and part-time doughnut baker/full-time rock-and-roller. It's a sweet little story and you can read my full review here.

Friday, November 18, 2022

"Dawn of DC," Kicks off This January 2023

DC has announced a big new slate of titles that will start releasing in January 2023. It is called, "Dawn of DC." I'm pleased that it isn't really an event and the Universe is staying the same so we can avoid having to use the words, "Reboot," or, "Reset," for now. A lot of the comics don't even involve Batman, which is amazing considering how much of DC's output has been Batman-centric lately.

There will be new, "Doom Patrol," "Cyborg," "Green Arrow," "Shazam!" a Green Lantern comic focused on John Stewart, and yes, some titles relating to Batman and his foes such as, "Penguin," and, "Batman: The Brave and the Bold." Still, there will be a chunk of variety and the creative teams that have been revealed are solid. Not every comic sounds interesting, but I'm intrigued by a number of them--"Steelworks," focuses on Steel and his family so that sounds cool, to give one example. It all starts with the new year and continues through 2023, so here's hoping it is good fun.

The, "Silk," Show Finally Has Development Updates

It feels like years ago we heard the character of Cindy Moon AKA Silk would be getting a television show. Silk's whole thing is she was bitten by the same special spider that nipped Peter Paker so she has all kinds of similar powers. There is finally some news as it seems Silk and a bunch of other Sony-controlled Spidey characters will be appearing in, "Silk: Spider Society." It will stream on Amazon Prime (not Disney+ due to the complex agreement between Sony and Disney about Spidey stuff) but will first air on television via something called MGM+

I honestly had never heard of MGM+ and worried it was yet another streaming service somehow. It is just what, "Epix," is going to be renamed to in the near future, however. Yeah, remember the Epix channel and app that was kind of like a knock-off of other premium cable channels or apps such as HBO/Showtime/Cinemax? It still exists! I mean, for now at least. So, it isn't a new streaming service so much as a rebranded one...yah?

Anyways, Silk and a bunch of characters related to Spider-Man will air on MGM+ and its app before later being available to stream on Amazon Prime and all of this will still ostensibly be linked to other Sony movies but maybe not relate to the Marvel Cinematic Universe unless they sorta do somehow (it continues to be weird). There are plenty of characters with Spider powers (even before you use a Multiverse like the animated movie) so Lord knows Sony has options.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

My Review of, "It's Lonely At the Centre of the Earth," is Posted on Forces of Geek

I will at times write reviews for my chums at Forces of Geek and I recently did just that for, "It's Lonely At the Centre of the Earth." The latest book from Zoe Thorogood, I had strong thoughts on it. Were they positive? Negative? Give my review a read at this link here and find out!

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

"Magic Mike's Last Dance," Has a Trailer!

 I love basically anything Director/Producer/Genius Steven Soderbergh makes. Whether it's a quirky comedy about a corporate informant,  Liberace's life, the eerily-prescient, "Contagion," or the, "Magic Mike," movies, Soderberg makes good stuff. The first, "Magic Mike," is a bit sad and serious, "Magic Mike XXL," is a hilarious road-trip comedy, and now we've got, "Magic Mike's Last Dance,"  which was announced late last year, to complete the trilogy and the trailer has dropped. Have a look:

Whether you enjoy the movie's because you're a woman who loves Channing Tatum/men in general stripping, a man who loves men stripping, or a random person who enjoys great flicks and complex dance routines (I wrote about appreciating Thunder From Down Under before, readers may recall), this should be a damn good time. I do hope we get more of Mike's friends as they are strangely absent in this trailer (although Selma Hayek is awesome). Expect, "Magic Mike's Last Dance," in theaters on February 10th, 2023. Just in time for Valentine's Day, cleverly enough!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The Hi-Pointe Drive-In's New Location, A Little Hi, is Tasty and Fun!

I've eaten at one of the Hi-Pointe Drive-In's regular locations before. When I heard they were opening a new location that tweaked the concept a bit, I was intrigued. Called, "A Little Hi," it is in Ballwin (a city here in Saint Louis County) and in a much smaller space, hence the name. The menu is less complex than regular locations, focusing mainly on burgers (including bison or impossible), fries, and shakes. The fancier salads and chicken options are not at A Little Hi. That's perfectly alright, though, as it is still a very fun place with great food!

I went to A Little Hi today with my friend, Doug, and we were very pleased with our meals. I got a bison burger and they did not mind cooking it on a separate/cleaned-off grill than the beef burgers (longtime blog readers know I have a beef allergy). I also enjoyed some deliciously seasoned fries and a sugar cookie milkshake--it was bright pink like those frosted sugar cookies you get at Walmart and scrumptious. The location has a hilariously-altered Big Boy statue out front and the general decor is fun and silly. I'd recommend going to any Hi-Pointe Drive-In if you're able, and if you're around Ballwin A Little Hi definitely fits the bill for a good meal.

Monday, November 14, 2022

"New York Ninja Super Special," is a Fantastic Blast of Faux-Retro Fun

I've been a fan of Charles Forsman for some time, even having interviewed him before on the blog. I continue to follow his work so when I saw he had created a comic that served as a sequel to the surreal cult film, "New York Ninja," I was quite intrigued. Here's the thing, I never actually have seen, "New York Ninja," but I did Google a bunch of information about it after reading the comic. It has quite the odd history and you can buy a copy of it via a website I've written about being awesome before, Vinegar Syndrome. I understood the comic, "New York Ninja Super Special," just fine even though I hadn't seen the flick and it was so much fun to read!

As I read this official sequel comic to, "New York Ninja," I was reminded somewhat of another comic Forsman did, "Revenger." I loved, "Revenger," and have enjoyed its various follow-up comics. Those comics felt like you were reading a B-movie so it makes perfect sense Forsman would be so perfectly suited to tell the story of a due who is a ninja trying to hunt down his wife's killer (while also training a kid and fighting a variety of crime). This treasury edition-sized comic features Forsman's amazing artwork, and the pages practically breathe with the grime and sleaze of 1980's New York.

"New York Ninja Super Special," is a superb comic and if you like weird movies or strange comics, you should pick it up. If you love both of those things, then you really should check this out! You can buy a copy via the comic publisher's website, Floating World Comics, or ask your comic shop to order you one. It is definitely worth getting a copy!

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

November 2022's ToyMan Show Was Wildly Fun!


I went to the ToyMan Show today and it was a fantastic time, just as always! I started the show off chatting with my good friend John Chaffee of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles. I then said hello to my chum Tim Metzger as well as Brian Lan and had a great time chatting with Spike Forester from Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. Tom from Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games had a ton of cool stuff for sale as well. Vince of VK Toys had an assortment of goodies he was selling, and Toys of Our Youth brought some great stuff too. I also had a great time chatting with and checking out the comics Larry of Bug's Comics and Games brought.

I went upstairs and saw my friend, author Jessica Mathews, had her latest book available for purchase! Titled, "The Lazy Werewolf," it can be seen above. I was ecstatic to buy a copy for my son as her books are always fantastic. I also met author Diana Morgan who had her publication, "Alliances: Lost Colony Book 1," for sale. The always-awesome Linsday Hornsby of Mega Giganto had a ton of neat creations for sale and I purchased a super cool print of a hammerhead shark-unicorn creature that she illustrated for a game called Sharktoberfest. check it out:

The good folks of Heroes for Kids from Perryville were in attendance, raising money for great causes. I met resin artist, Amy Rodis of 99 Projects, upstairs at well, her creations were really neat! There were just so many awesome folks at this latest Toyman Show and it always is astounding just how much sheer stuff there is. From toys, to comics, Legos, diecast cars, Funko Pops, DVDs, crafts, and almost anything else you can think of, ToyMan is loaded to the gills with goodies. I can't wait for the next show (and the last one of 2022) on December 11th! I hope to see you there!

Gallagher has Passed

Leo Gallagher Jr. has passed, as the news announced Friday. As a kid, I loved his comedy specials filled with silly jokes and crazy prop humor. Gallagher managed to become a pop-culture icon who found himself referenced in a wide range of movies, television, and so forth into the present day. He also--I just learned today with the news of his death--apparently was homophobic and prone to racist jokes, not just in his past material (a lot of comedians have some jokes they regret) but up into the present day where he came across more and more as weirdly alt-right. That was a bit of a bummer to find out, but the kid version of me will always appreciate the, "“Sledge-O-Matic," busting a watermelon into countless pieces. From what I've read, he was in hospice and had organ failure related to a number of previous heart attacks. He was 76.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Twitter is Really Falling Apart Since Musk Took Over

Elon Musk managed to do something that actually impressed me. Namely, he has run Twitter into the ground faster than I could have imagined possible. From firing a ton of people to wanting to rehire them, then enraging myself and others with his proposal of paying for a blue checkmark, to having fake accounts with blue checkmarks wreaking havoc it's been a year's worth of mayhem in a handful of weeks. As CNN puts it, "Two weeks after Elon Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter, the future of the company has never looked less certain." Bloomberg observed we are basically watching Twitter implode in real time

I'm just sitting here thinking about how I've always observed Elon Musk will have good ideas but executes them terribly. Electric cars are great, Tesla's are overpriced junk. Space travel is a worthy cause, SpaceX often looks like a mess. Now we have Musk wanting Twitter to be some great equalizer of free speech with no limits, but without any limits it is a wild west of hate speech, fraud, and general mischief. Even with free speech you can't legally yell, "Fire," in a crowded movie theater just for a laugh and Musk is seeing what absolute free speech does to Twitter--it makes the metaphorical fire all-too-real and burns down the theater of abusridities that took years to build in remarkable time. I don't know how this will end. I do know it probably won't end well.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Kevin Conroy, the Definitive Voice of Batman, Has Died

Kevin Conroy has passed of cancer at age 66. This news broke today but I keep thinking back to years ago.You see, I saw Kevin Conroy at Wizard World 2017. I did not meet him, as the line was incredibly long and I was busy buzzing around, but I did see him eagerly chatting with fans and appearing to be having a great time (something you don't always see with the celebs at a comic-con, some look miserable). I've always told people when I picture Batman I oddly enough see Michael Keaton, but hear Conroy's voice. This is probably due to the fact for many of us he was Batman's voice, full stop. 

From the fantastic animated series to video-games, and plenty of other media, Kevin Conroy was indeed a fine actor with a number of other credits to his name (and trained at Juilliard), but so many of us revered him as Batman. By all accounts he was kind, gracious, funny, and a genuinely cool guy. He wrote a fantastic autobiographical story for, "DC Pride 2022," about the homophobia he faced while trying to succeed in the entertainment industry and eventually landing the role of Batman we all loved him in. I'm saddened to think I'll never have the chance to actually meet him a convention and request he sign the comic for me. He will be missed.

Film Friday: "Nope," and my Theories About It

Note: This is more of an examination of the meaning of, "Nope," than a review but I do still have a rating at the end of the article. That said, I spoil everything and this article may not make a ton of sense until you check the movie out.

I didn't have a chance to catch, "Nope," in theaters, but I was able to borrow a DVD from a friend of mine who bought it so that I could give the flick a viewing. Directed, written, and produced by Jordan Peele, I found, "Nope," to be really good. I also wasn't sure exactly what it all meant and found a lot of the internet agreed with me. Is it a straightforward tale of an alien (because midway through the movie it is revealed that it isn't a ship but a hungry alien creature that flies) and some horse trainers who live on a property that want to capture proof of it? Is it a religious metaphor? What was with the whole, "Gordy," subplot that had Steven Yeun's character? Why did Keith David's character have to die in the first five minutes and only briefly appear in flashbacks when he's such a fantastic actor (that's more just me being bummed he was in the movie so little, though it makes sense for the story). I really liked, "Nope," and do have some theories.

A running theme is not looking animals in the eye. Early in the movie Otis Junior/OJ (played by Daniel Kaluuya) tells people on a set to not look in the horse's eyes. Also, it is known you should not look apes in the eye as it can be a sign of aggression, and Gordy is, of course, a chimp in those scenes set in the past. The alien itself (referred to as, "Jean Jacket,") seems to need to be looked at in order to eat people. There are also discussions of animals and their predatory behaviors with how humans will try to work with them and think them tamed, but something wild remains. I think we have the whole story with Gordy to help illustrate the idea that nature cannot be controlled and it will try its hardest to fight against us, with the alien being a wild creature itself--albeit one from some other planet. That's one idea I had, that this is a metaphor for the folly of thinking we can control nature.

Perhaps the movie is also a metaphor for the entertainment industry itself and its mistreatment of people. Kalluuya and his sister Emerald (KeKe Palmer) spent years of their life helping their dad (the aforementioned Keith David) train horses for Hollywood, and have little thanks to show for it and a farm in danger of closing. The movie and television industry rendered Steven Yeun's character traumatized from an ape reverting to its primal instincts--an ape that belonged in the wild and not on a set ("Nope," itself uses a CG ape so as to not be hypocritical in this point). Once the alien appears it becomes an obsession of OJ and Emerald to capture proof of it too, consequences be damned. I'm not alone in seeing a symbolism for, "The explorative nature of Hollywood," possibly being symbolically examined.

If you check Google for the thoughts of everyone on, "Nope," you can find so many varied opinions that it'll make your head spin. Some people even claim the fact the message isn't crystal clear makes, "Nope," a bad movie--I find this funny but also a bit depressing in an era when we as a society seem to often want the, "Point," of narrative spoon-fed to us. "Nope," is a seemingly simple movie about an alien hanging around a ranch that contains many layers. I quite like that about it even if it drags a little toward the end once the alien is fully exposed and the flick shifts from a tense psychological thriller/horror film to more of an outright sci-fi action production. It's good stuff.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Happy Veterans Day 2022!

Today is Veterans Day. I read up on why it is on November 11th and found the history fascinating. It goes back to when World War I ended on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month and found itself commemorated as Armistice Day for a number of years. The name was eventually changed to Veterans Day to honor all veterans. Happy Veterans Day and thank you to all our veterans!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

AWA to Expand Distribution to Lunar and I See a Trend

In these new comic-book distribution wars, you've got three major parties. Diamond once was the sole monopoly, but now finds itself, "On the ropes," as it were with Image and a few smaller publishers solely using it. Meanwhile, Lunar has DC and some small publishers who utilize it with Diamond. Then, there is Penguin Random House and its immense growth in the comic-book space (they already were known for their book distribution) thanks to taking on Marvel as a client and now soon having IDW and Dark Horse within its fold. This makes the news that another little publisher known as Artists, Writers, and Artisans (AWA) is going to be distributing with Lunar now but still sticking with Diamond too at first blush seem like small news. However, it makes me feel like I can sniff out a plan of some sort being enacted by a number of publishers.

I'm pretty sure these publishers who are sticking with Diamond but also willing to work with Lunar and/or PRH are hedging their bets on Diamond's comic division folding or otherwise not being used by a chunk of stores. I have my own anecdotal evidence that comic shops hate Diamond and you can find most folks who sell comics saying they despise Diamond on the internet or such. When stores have the option to buy from a publisher via a method other than Diamond they will often take it. Many a shop has told me if Image dumped Diamond they'd probably not bother with it at all outside of specific customer orders from any small publishers that happen to only use Diamond.

If Image leaves Diamond...hoo boy.

Comic-book publishers want to be sure if Diamond's comic division folds or more shops outright quit using Diamond that they can still get distributed in shops. Making sure you have a deal cut with another distributor that releases comics stores basically have to sell (DC and Marvel) ensures you'll at least be an option when the time comes for a store to place an order. I could be reading into all this too much, but the way everything is going with comic-book distribution I feel like this is less of me having a hunch and more of me noticing a subtle trend. Time will tell.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

My Friend Larime Taylor Has a Very Cool and Very NSFW Kickstarter For Their New Comic!

I've written before about my friend, Larime Taylor (please excuse how old posts use he/him pronouns, they've since come out as nonbinary). They are a fantastic artist and were behind the stellar, "A Voice in the Dark," comic that was published by Image/Top Cow. They also are disabled and actually draw via their mouth. Taylor has a new Kickstarter they've done with their partner, Sylv, that is both raunchy and quite political, taking aim at how often stories about disabled people are, "Inspiration porn."  It is titled, "Sex on Wheels," and it looks quite cool. 

In the Kickstarter campaign for, "Sex on Wheels," which you can find linked here, Taylor discusses how with their partner Sylv, they've found how in many stories when it comes to disabled characters "They exist solely to inspire the characters around them and the audience. They're usually a little brother or sister, very often infantilized and made 'pure' and 'innocent', and almost never have a love life. They are there to teach other characters about themselves and inspire them to do and be better. Quite frankly, it's all ableist bulls***." Taylor aims to show how disabled people have hopes, dreams, flaws, addictions, and a sex drive just like everyone else, and they will be doing it with the, "Sex on Wheels," series they wrote with Sylv and then they drew as it follows the story of a young disabled woman named Morning Glory/Mo. Mo is an artist who drinks, swears, has sex, and otherwise lives a normal life in this comic that aims to explore, "Gender identity, disabled beauty, and disabled sexuality." 

Taylor has zero hesitation about putting it all out there as the preview artwork shows for some of the more explicit scenes in the comic although it is by no means intended to be pornographic so much as," nakedly," honest, so to speak. As a fan of Taylor's work I am excited to have backed, "Sex on Wheels," and would encourage anyone who isn't too prudish to check the Kickstarter out and consider backing it too (here's that link again). It is already fully funded so clearly other folks out there are eager for a story that is going to unabashedly touch on topics that other pieces of fiction seem to avoid or outright ignore. I look forward to this debut issue and planned future ones for sure!

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Midterm Elections Are Today, Let's Vote!

The midterm elections are today and in a lot of America, a variety of big races, amendments, and so forth are happening. Everyone who reads the blog knows my political leanings and who I'm hoping wins in various states/districts/etc. This post isn't about that so much as just encouraging folks to vote (assuming they are eligible to do so) and make sure they vote the way they feel will best represent them and benefit our nation. 

Here in my area of Missouri, we have a Senate and House race, various judges, and a number of amendments including a recreational cannabis bill that has split a number of opinions--it was a big ballot. Anyways, get out there and vote!

Monday, November 7, 2022

Kevin O'Neill Has Passed

Kevin O'Neill served as the artist on a variety of fantastic comics. From the satirical, "Marshall Law," to making superb works with Alan Moore such as, "League of Extraordinary Gentleman," and their, "Cinema Purgatorio," pieces, he created so much cool stuff. He has passed at age 69 of cancer. My favorite work by him was probably the, "Cinema Purgatorio," shorts interestingly enough as they were just so surreal and varied, but his more famous work was obviously stupendous too. O'Neill will be missed.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

"Batman and the Joker: The Deadly Duo," #1 is All Table Setting, but it's Gorgeous

It was back in August when I discussed how even if I found myself feeling a bit tired of Batman-themed comics (especially all the Black Lable imprint ones), seeing that Marc Silvestri was going to write and draw one did get me pretty excited. The, "Hook," as it were when I read descriptions of the comic was that Batman and the Joker have to team up so that a strange new foe who has kidnapped Harley Quinn can be stopped (with Commissioner Gordon in danger too so that Batman is even willing to work with the Joker). The first issue of his series, "Batman and the Joker: The Deadly Duo," has come out and the whole issue basically gets us to the point of the series. Yes, this is all table setting. That said, Silvestri's amazing artwork makes this a beautiful laying of a table.

Silvestri is a stellar artist. His illustration of Batman swooping down in one scene and then fluttering away as if he were a real bat is simply awe-inspiring. The mysterious new baddie who seems to have some Joker DNA yet be a monster all his own is terrifying to witness--lots of teeth and eerie eyes. Even if the entire issue basically just builds us up to the actual point of Batman and Joker being forced to be a team at least the comic is a treat for the eyes while we wait for the plot to go anywhere. The next issue will probably move the story along much more while continuing to be a visual feast, so I look forward to issue #2 eagerly. Decompressed storytelling aside, I just loved seeing Silvestri's work in this gorgeous book, and the bit of story we do get is solid. Therefore, I'd rate this...

4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

"Westworld," Has Been Canceled, Damn


As a number of websites are reporting, HBO's parent company, Warner Brother Discovery, has canceled, "Westworld," and I'm really perturbed. As yet another casualty of the big merger and horrendous management in the form of David Zaslav, the overall plan of having a fifth and final season is now dead. It is a huge disappointment.

Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan were thanked profusely in the press release for all their hard work, with HBO gushing, "Over the past four seasons, Lisa and Jonah have taken viewers on a mind-bending odyssey, raising the bar at every step. We are tremendously grateful to them, along with their immensely talented cast, producers, and crew, and all of our partners at Kilter Films, Bad Robot, and Warner Bros. Television. It’s been a thrill to join them on this journey." This is in an announcement about how the whole thing is canceled so it is a weird tonal disconnect. I quite enjoyed the last (and now final) season, but now we'll just have to wonder what could have been. Apparently, the program cost more than Zaslav/the network liked in terms of the viewership it received, so off it goes with all the other stuff WB Discovery cut. The cast still gets paid a chunk of money thanks to their contracts though, even if the show doesn't get made. It's a bummer.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Flashback Friday: "I'm Blue," What Did They Do to You?

Back in 1998, there was a weird little song that absolutely took over the radio and basically everyone's life. It was, "I'm Blue," and it was created by a group known as Eiffel 65. It perhaps wore-out its welcome when it was everywhere constantly, but now when I hear it I feel a nice bit of nostalgia. There have been covers and remixes of the song which have been perfectly fine, but now there's a new one and it is awful. David Guetta & BeBe Rexha have created a hideous musical monstrosity. They dug up the corpse of, "I'm Blue," to extract a piano riff and alter some lyrics to say, "I'm Good." They've given us some dull and dreary pop pap that completely misses the point of how the original song was actually about being extremely depressed and despite having a great beat had some deeper meaning. "I'm Good (Blue)," is the new song and it sucks.

I am aware that I'm maybe overreacting. It isn't like "I'm Blue," is a musical masterpiece that has been disrespected. I just really hate the new song and how it mutilates the original. At least Eiffel 65 got paid well for this turd to be thrown in the, "I'm Blue," punchbowl (I assume). Maybe I need to bust out that, "Old Man Yells at Cloud," meme from, "The Simpsons," again at the rate I'm going. I'm taking a nap now.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

We All Kind of Hate Netflix Now, Don't We?

Netflix used to be beloved. It put out tons of content, so many shows it was mind-boggling with it seeming there was a random program for anyone ("Saturday Night Live," spoofed this previously as well as, "South Park," among other shows). Lots of folks loved using Netflix--and yes, sharing passwords. At some point, it all changed. Kathryn Porter has an article up on Paste discussing, "How Netflix Went from Media's Golden Child to the Bane of Its Own Subscribers." It is worth a read and got me thinking too.

Netflix is hemorrhaging subscribers, canceled tons of shows people loved (enraging many folks), wants to make it really hard to share profiles without paying extra, and has an ad-based model that seems counter to what Netflix stood for from the start. I won't hold that last one against them too much as some streaming services we use feature ads with a cheaper subscription and that works for our household, but it just seems counter to what Netflix stood for long ago. From its humble beginnings to being a near-monopoly in the streaming space until others started chipping away at it, Netflix has lost that rosy-fresh smell, and now a sniff appears it is rotting a bit from the inside. 

The idea of shutting-down profile sharing has more people considering quitting Netflix altogether than having a group share it and could harm the company more than it helps it, and the rampant cancellations are not as horrendous as HBO MAX basically obliterating a ton of its programming from existence, but still stings when a cult favorite gets the axe. The fondness everyone had for Netflix has evaporated and it is no longer the streaming service, it is just a streaming service. Netflix still has plenty of cool new shows and a massive back catalog, but the sheen is gone, revealing a tarnished-if-functional streaming choice.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

I'm Never Giving Twitter a Dime of My Money, Even for the Blue Checkmark

Twitter is a cesspool. I use it to help promote my blog and read funny opinions on various reality shows, but it overall is a terrible place I still go to. It is like a restaurant that seems far too dirty to not get shut down yet inexplicably stays open and has that one tasty dish so you put up with going there even if the odds are alarmingly high you'll end up sick to your stomach by what you see. With all of that said, Elon Musk paid an absurdly high amount for this miserable restaurant/website after failing to weasel his way out of the initial offer to purchase Twitter. Now he's stuck and wants to figure out a way to make money from his awful investment. There has been pushback to some ideas.

Musk proposed charging people money to have the little blue checkmark next to their name that verifies they are who they claim to be. This is used by big public figures who he figures can afford to throw him $20 to assist him in...making Twitter better by fighting bots or something? I will admit I don't think I'm a big enough name to even have a blue checkmark, but if the opportunity ever arose to have one but I had to pay actual cash money for it? Hell nah. Stephen King agrees it isn't about the money but the principle, tweeting, “Fuck that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.” Musk attempted to tweet at King his reasoning behind charging for a blue checkmark and that perhaps he would lower the price and incorporate it into the mostly-disliked premium Twitter option as a way to let anyone who wants to pay and who can prove who they are get a blue checkmark. 

As with a lot of things Musk does (electric cars, space travel, and so forth), there is a piece of a good idea in here surrounded by a bunch of dumb stuff. All I can tell you is I'm never giving Twitter any of my money because, unlike the metaphorical restaurant that I'd tip a bunch extra to clean their floors even once in a while, there ain't no cleaning-up Twitter.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Television Tuesday: We're Getting a, "Friday the 13th," Prequel Series! It Can't Use Jason...

Later-in-the-Day Update: Bryan Fuller said that supposedly they can use, "Everything," as long as it is distinct from the movies. Perhaps some form of Jason will appear and be named?

Bryan Fuller has created some quality programs as well as stuff I struggled to get into. "Hannibal," was fantastic television, and the first season of, "American Gods," had some cool stuff but sometimes seemed a little too busy being obsessed with itself. The dude excels at giving us creepy entertainment, however, so when I heard he was creating a show called, "Crystal Lake," for Peacock my ears immediately perked up.

Anyone who has seen a, "Friday the 13th," movie is aware that Crystal Lake is the infamous location where Pamela Voorhees killed a bunch of camp counselors as revenge for her son growing due to their inattention (the first movie) and then the place where her son, Jason, began killing lots of people who dared to come to the campsite. It's a classic franchise and there was even a teaser that gave me hope we were getting more of the franchise (it turned out to be a bit of a hoax). It was actually revealed yesterday that Bryan Fuller is creating a, "Crystal Lake," show that focuses on the camp before Pamela ended up killed by a counselor who fought her off and Jason's reign of terror began for a bunch of movies. 

Pamela Voorhees did not appreciate how the inattentiveness of
camp counselors resulted in Jason's drowning. She made this quite clear. 

It all sounds interesting thematically and is legally necessary because the rights to Jason himself are complicated and he can't even be used as we know him. I guess we'll be getting a show with Pamela (maybe) and she will make reference to a son if she appears but efforts will be made to make sure he is never named? That, or the show will just focus on the day-to-day running of a camp before Pamela even started killing people and we'll just get a chill show about a pleasant camp where nothing bad happens for some decades? Nah, people are going to die, and it will be nasty. This is a Bryan Fuller show, after all.