Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Check Out the, "Hornets," Kickstarter!

Not too long ago the illustrator of a new graphic novel reached out to me. It was Ben Edwards and he sent me a bunch of information about, "Hornets." It was getting ready to launch on Kickstarter and I said I'd happily make a post about it once the campaign started. Well, now here we are! Written by Jordan Sam Adams with lettering by Rachel Ordway, "Hornets," is a sci-fi comic that follows an elite team of female soldiers who end up captured by the enemy force. 

I gave it a read and enjoyed the G.I. Joe vibe mixed with, futuristic war themes we've seen in titles like, "Metal Gear Solid." Edwards is a great artist and whether he's drawing giant robots or soldiers stuck in a dingy prison, the comic looks fantastic. I'd encourage you to check the Kickstarter campaign out and you can back it if my description and the preview pages strike your fancy.

Monday, March 20, 2023

The, "Shazam," Sequel Had a Rough First Weekend

"Shazam: Fury of the Gods," opened in first place at the domestic box office. That would sound impressive, but it actually made less than was projected--and the projections weren't that high. The latest Shazam flick is a flop, in other words.

Apparently, it is an okay film, if not as fun as the first according to reviews. Why did it falter? Are James Gunn and Peter Safran to blame with the big DC reboot coming and making this movie feel utterly inconsequential? Is Dwayne, "The Rock," Johnson the big culprit? Will people break out that old refrain that, "Hey, maybe folks are tired of superhero films?" even though that keeps being said anytime a movie stumbles and then gets dropped when another one does gangbusters? 

I don't know why the Shazam sequel clearly struggled with its debut and if it even really matters for DC's plans going forward. I just feel a bit bad for director David F. Sandberg who was bummed by the critical reviews and is, "...definitely done with superheroes for now." Ouch. Anways, I liked the first movie and will probably stream this when it comes to HBO MAX or whatever, but I'm not in a rush to see it in theaters. Wait, maybe people like me were the problem? Eh, who knows?

Sunday, March 19, 2023

I'm Excited for the Saint Charles Quad Con Next Sunday!

Next Sunday is the Saint Charles Quad Con. Put on by Quad City Con, their events are always great fun! The mixture of comics, toys, games, cosplay, and a stellar assortment of vendors and creators results in a superb show. It is always packed to the gills with awesome stuff to buy and cool folks to meet. This show will be at the same location as previous ones--49 Lawrence Street in Saint Charles--the name of the location has simply changed and it is now known as Steel Shop Athletics and Events. I would encourage anyone in the Saint Louis and Saint Charles region to attend the show a week from today. The doors open at 10AM--see you there!

Saturday, March 18, 2023

"Superman: Lost," #1 Kicks off Quite the Superpowered Mystery

Christopher Priest is a writer who can take a character I generally don't read the stories of and get me extremely engaged in a yarn about them. Priest gave us a superb run on, "Deathstroke," which made me care about the character for the first time ever (and when it ended I honestly went back to having zero interest in Deathstroke, so is life). Now, Priest is doing an out-of-continuity 10-issue series about Superman titled, "Superman: Lost." With artist Carlo Pagulayan, this creative team has already knocked it out of the park with the first issue. 

Basically, Superman leaves for a mission and then seems to be back quickly...but he proclaims it has actually been 20 years. How did he go missing, how did he get back, what impact will this have on the relationship with Lois, and what was up with the mysterious political scandal the comic mentioned in the first half and how it might relate to all this? These are some of the questions Priest and Pagulayan raise for us and I am excited to watch as the complex twists and turns being set up see answers. Between some fantastic writing and gorgeous artwork, this comic was a treat--and that's coming from someone who doesn't usually read many Superman-centric stories. I'm eager to read more and already feel like this series is going to be quite the treat!

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Flashback Friday: "Spring Breakers," Was a Beautiful Mess That Predicted More Than We Could've Expected

The AV Club's Hattie Lindert wrote an article for the AV Club titled, "Spring Breakers Predicted Everything." I felt like the article didn't quite say what, "Everything," was and at the same time stated it perfectly. The movie created such a weird, warm, colorful vibe that when you look at it now seems like a ton of the Instagram pictures and videos so-called influencers upload full of sandy beaches, barely-there bikinis, and ample bottles of liquor reflecting neon lights. Over at Rolling Stone, David Fear has similar observations of how the movie predicted the chaos that was to come in America. "Spring Breakers," accomplished a lot considering it kind of sucks in terms of being a coherent movie.

Seriously, this a flick about some young women who go on Spring Break, and team up with a drug-peddling and money-obsessed rapper named Alien so as to be on vacation forever. Alien is played with insane delight by a James Franco who must've actually been on drugs and not just pretending because he seems too authentically high on weed, cocaine, and other stuff to be acting. The women consist of former Disney stars who 2013 were trying to break free of their squeaky-clean image (Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens), the wife of the movie's director, Harmony Korine (Rachel Korine), and Ashely Benson who was known for, "Pretty Little Liars," at the time if I remember the dates of everything correctly. A solid cast that somewhat aimlessly roams around Florida drinking and doing drugs, breaking the law, and giving us a film that is phenomenally strange and twistedly entertaining even if it's a total mess.

Seriously though, I have to give credit to a flick that has James Franco play a grand piano on the beach as he belts out, "Everytime," by Britney Spears before it segues into a violent montage of criminal activity with Spear's song playing over it. It's weird and nonsensical, but I dig it. As for the cast these days. Gomez and Hudgens have achieved a lot of success, Rachel Korine and Harmony seem to be happily married still, and Benson has continued with a fruitful career acting and singing. Franco seemed to drop off the face of the Earth when a lot of sexual misconduct allegations arose relating to extremely barely legal (like the age of consent in his state but not-even-able-to-vote) women. He seems to be slowly creeping back into showbiz, for better or worse.

"Spring Breakers," landed in our midst like a huge comet crashing into the social psyche. It left an impact even if folks weren't sure quite what the impact was for a number of years. "Spring Breakers," predicted the messy and excessive era we live in now. Forget being responsible, post some pics of yourself practically naked in a g-string with a glass of the current popular beverage and try to live as luxuriously as possible before everything comes crashing down due to your own financial irresponsibility--or the economy simply collapsing on its own(look at all those banks recently, after all). It doesn't matter if you're actually rich and successful, just give off that image because it's all about appearances and the vibe, baby. To quote Alien when he names all the stuff he owns, "Look at my shit," and consider how that could basically be the slogan of many Instagram accounts these days. "Spring Break forever," indeed.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day 2023!

Today is Saint Patrick's Day. My Grandma Burton was as Irish as they come and loved the holiday and celebrating it. I think of her whenever it is Saint Patrick's Day and hope everyone has a good time celebrating (and celebrating safely if they are drinking). Now go out there and find some gold at the end of a rainbow or such!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Sinus Infections Aren't Fun

Last week, Clarkson was sick with a cold. He's better, but now I'm dealing with a sinus infection and so is my wife, Samii. Plus, she has an ear infection at the same time with a ruptured eardrum. Everyone in the household has been sick or is sick, in other words. Antibiotics are helping Samii and me but they don't magically make you better in a day--it takes time. I'm not announcing all this to fish for sympathy or anything, I just wanted to share that if you know anyone going through a sinus infection you should please be patient with them as they always, always, suck. Samii feels even worse than me with her ear issues added on to everything so send her some good vibes.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Happy Pi Day and 314 Day!

Today is the international holiday known as Pi day and in Saint Louis, we also celebrate 314 day (pronounced, "three-one-four day,"). Pi day is because the first digits in Pi are 3.14 before it trails on potentially forever. 314 day is because a common Saint Louis area code is 314. People celebrate Pi day with pie (a bit of a pun) and folks celebrate 314 day by enjoying Saint Louis attractions or foods considered staples of Saint Louis cuisine--provel cheese pizza, toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake, and the like. Whether you're around the World celebrating Pi day or here in Saint Louis celebrating 314 day, I hope you have a great time!

Monday, March 13, 2023

I Enjoyed the First Issue of, "Local Man," From Image

Image comics put out some really zany comics when they emerged on the scene in the 1990s. They were over-the-top and drawn in an, "Extreme," manner. Big guns, a lot of pouches, extremely sexy women, extremely muscular men, and the like. "Local Man," is a new comic by Tim Seely and Tony Fleecs that riffs on some of those ideas via a clever flip-comic format that focuses on a hero named Crossjack back when he was on a wild team a lot like Image's early days and follows him in a much more subdued modern day story that has a slice-of-life vibe as Jack (his real name) finds himself back in his hometown and kicked-off the hero team with a bunch of pending lawsuits. It's a cleverly meta idea to both pay tribute to the excesses of the 90s and make some fun of them while also telling a story about what a hero might do when their glory days are behind them.

It isn't quite clear what Jack did, but from reading between the lines it seems he maybe had an affair with someone on the superhero team who was with someone else and it turned into a huge scandal. I wouldn't be surprised if there is more to the story, however, as the end of the issue also introduces some kind of murder mystery that piques my interest too. Seely and Fleecs are both skilled writers and artists and watching them collaborate results in a fantastic debut issue. I really enjoyed the start of, "Local Man," and am curious about where things could go. If you like your superhero stories a little more off-kilter or have a mixture of pride and embarrassment about loving comics in the 90s this is worth picking up.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Oh, It's Daylight Saving Time

I have written on many occasions about disliking Daylight Saving Time. It seemed to creep up on us this time, with many people I talked with being surprised when I mentioned it was this Sunday--and I only knew as the radio mentioned it a couple times. We gain an extra hour of daylight in the evening, which is nice, but at the expense of an hour of sleep and everyone feeling exhausted...so yah? Anyways, make sure you set your clock ahead an hour today if you live in a location that observes DST. You don't want to be late for anything!

Saturday, March 11, 2023

I Won't be at the ToyMan Show Tomorrow but You Should Go!


I always write about how much I love going to the ToyMan Show. Due to a variety of obligations and things coming up, I am pretty sure I won't be able to swing by the show tomorrow. That said, I would highly encourage anyone who is able to go to the show to do so. It is always a fantastically fun time full of awesome vendors. Seriously, the ToyMan show is simply packed to the gills with stuff (comics, toys, Funko, Lego, Hot Wheels, paper ephemera, and so forth). I hope to make it to the next show on May 7th and wish everyone a fun time at tomorrow's show!

I've Never Felt, "Threatened," By a Drag Queen

You know, I've never felt threatened by a drag queen. I've been teased by some in a playful manner at a drag show, but I never felt threatened. I haven't worried about any children in their presence either.

I've felt threatened by people who claim to be, "Good Christians," standing outside our local Planned Parenthoods who yell at any car that even slows down by one lest it turns in for affordable/free healthcare.

I've felt fear from people who walk around with their guns hanging out because, "Open carry," is a right they want to flaunt even if the sight of them walking down the sidewalk with their pistols creates great unease in this nation plagued by mass shootings and general gun violence.

I've felt immense discomfort witnessing parents dress their little girls up like grown women for beauty pageants, sexualizing them at a young age as if such an act isn't, "Grooming," which is a word the far-right likes to throw around about anyone who isn't cisgender and straight.

I've felt rage seeing Republican politicians strip transgender individuals of any rights or those with a uterus of the ability to make private medical decisions regarding abortion and why one might be needed.

I've felt all that, but I've never felt threatened by a drag queen. Funny how certain people want to make it a social/moral/political issue instead of focusing on actual concerns. It's almost like distracting people with drag shows allows right-wing politicians to avoid discussing real issues. Funny how that is.

Friday, March 10, 2023

To Be Honest, The Older I Get the Easier and Shorter I Like My Games

I know some people think you aren't a real gamer if you don't play a game with the difficulty ramped up. If you aren't struggling to stay alive/win a match you need to, "Git Gud (get good/play better)," or some nonsense. Well, back in 2021 I said it was, "Okay," to play on easy mode and now I'm doubling down and saying I like games set to be nice and easy. I want to actually have fun, and constantly losing or dying (unless that is a part of the game in some fashion like a Roguelike) just sounds unappealing. When I see an article declaring how some new title is, "...the new hardest game in town." that makes me lose interest quick. I want a game to be easy, and I'd prefer it not be that long either.

Yes, you read the above last sentence correctly. I'm sick of games that brag how they can take 100 or something hours to complete. In those games, so much of the time spent is dull filler and if you can give me a game that is 10-20 hours and an absolute blast from start to finish I will take that any day of the week over those super-long games. The last, "Massive," game I maybe spent a ton of time with was, "Fallout 4," and looking back a good half of my gameplay was fun but another half was dull inventory management, trudging around looking for a quest goal, etc. I'd still agree with my 2016 self in declaring it was, "Pretty fun," but that right there is the kicker in some way as, "Pretty fun," is not, "Nonstop fun." I did spend a good deal of time playing, "Red Dead Redemption 2," as well, but not the many, many hours I put in, "Fallout 4." That was in 2016 though and now it is 2023. I'm older, I've got a kid, and I've got things to do during the day that limit my time to play games. 

I will give Xbox and its Game Pass major props as it allows someone to dip into a game, sample it, and then keep playing or delete it from their console if they grow tired of it/find it isn't for them/beat it should they love it. Having the Game Pass is wonderful for trying stuff out and should it be too lengthy or difficult, it is easy to move on. A game that is not too hard and which can be completed in a reasonable amount of time is a game that sounds good to me. I'll still dabble in games that are hard (as long as they have easier modes) and I'll try titles allegedly filled to the brim with hours upon hours of content, but I'll most likely stop playing them once I've had my fill. I'm too old, too impatient, and too busy for anything else at this point in my life.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

The New, "Jurassic Park," Lego Sets Look Awesome

For the 30th anniversary of the theatrical release of, "Jurassic Park," there are going to be some really cool Lego sets of characters from the movie and scenes. We've got the big visitor Center with a T-Rex and Velociraptor, Wayne Kinght's character of Dennis getting assaulted by a Dilophosaurus, Laura Dern's Dr. Sattler digging in Triceratops' poop with assistance from Jeff Goldblum's Ian Malcom, and more! My only real complaint is that the Minifigure of Chief Engineer Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jacksons's character) has both arms attached and really should have one be removable--anyone who has seen this flick knows what I'm talking about. I have some friends who love Legos and I imagine they'll be buying some or all of these, "Jurassic Park," ones!

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Burn Your Legacy to the Ground and Smear the Ashes--On Scott Adams

Two things to consider as we start this article:

1. Scott Adams had made it clear for quite some time he was a hateful person.

2. "Dilbert," had not been funny for decades.

Ha, ha?

Taking this into account I find myself flabbergasted that people were surprised to hear Scott Adams making racist statements online. He'd been an ass for quite some time and anyone who followed news about comics (strips or books) was fully aware he was a hateful, ignorant, racist, internet-trolling twatwaffle--as a friend of mine would say.

I find myself equally confused why folks who agreed with Adams or felt he was being persecuted would even pretend, "Dilbert," was funny. The early stuff has some charm, but the luster had long since faded to reveal the seemingly gold nugget of office humor that was, "Dilbert," to be in a fact a polished turd. Even if you're some far-right conservative who thinks Scott Adams was being wrongfully persecuted you don't have to also pretend he was still funny--have some sense now.


For people who missed the news, I'm referring to how Adams did his usual racist blog posts and internet streams and finally was loudly ignorant enough that it got the attention of the Mainstream media. He examined a survey by a racist website that asked people, "Is it okay to be white?" in a leading manner. When a number of Black individuals taking the survey rightfully declined to be a part of such a questionnaire Adams examined this data and took this to mean Black people hate White people and White folks need to, "Get the Hell away," from anyone who has melanin less than lily-white for their own safety, or some strange B.S.

The thing--the really big thing here--is that Adams was a hateful and ignorant monster for years and got away with it. He had a legacy, however, uninspiring a legacy as it was. He was the guy who made that once-funny comic about how working in an office sucks. Comic strips were fading from newspapers and almost no new ones were getting added as the market for comic strips shrank, but anyone who was able to get in early enough was basically grandfathered in. They could make good comic strips or terrible ones and still cash their checks. "Dilbert," had made enough of a societal impact at one point that Adams had the ability to simply coast on its faded popularity. He could do some dull jokes daily about emails, meetings, or whatever else he wanted, and have a legacy, however drab. Over the years Adams chose to taint that legacy with his hateful rhetoric and eventually his dumbass behavior got too blatant to ignore and he found himself removed from newspapers and dropped by any of his publishers/agents/whatever. He took his legacy and burned it to the ground before smearing what was left of the ashes.

Come on, there's not even much of a, "Joke," here!

Now if you want to ingest the vitriol Adam loves to dispense you'll need to subscribe to his website/Patreon/whatever. He had subscription stuff for a while, but that will be his sole source of income with all that newspaper money gone. I imagine that now he can scream about being, "Canceled," it will only drive more easily-fooled people to support him as if that makes some kind of statement. Even when the legacy is dead the grift never ends.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

The Big River Comic-Con in Hannibal is Just a Bit More Than a Month Away!


Coming April 14th and 15th is a fantastic event, the Big River Comic Convention! Held in Hannibal, Missouri, I have written in the past about how much I enjoy attending the BRCC. This year will have even more vendors, artists, and superb guests such as actor Spencer Wilding, artist Sam De La Rossa, and wrestler Sgt. Slaughter.

I'm incredibly excited about this year's Big River Comic Convention and would encourage anyone who is able to get out to Hannibal for it to go and visit--it's going to be an awesome time! You can buy tickets in advance online here, should you choose. I'll hopefully see you there!

Monday, March 6, 2023

That AV Club's, "20 Best Slasher Films of All Time," List Has Some Random Choices

Richard Newby of the AV Club has a list offering his take on the, "20 Best Slasher films of All Time." There are parts of the list I wholly agree with ("A New Nightmare," is rightfully on there and the first, "Halloween," is #1) and other entries that left me scratching my head. The only, "Friday the 13th," film to grace the list is the shoddy 2009 remake? The 2005 version of, "House of Wax," with Paris Hilton is here too? "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and, "Scream," makes sense, but, "Psycho II," is a bit of a left-field choice. Also, I know it is an acquired taste but one of the, "Leprechaun," films deserves some props. Also, where the dickens is, "The Devil's Rejects?" Quite possibly the best film Rob Zombie ever made (some are much better than others) it is arguably a love letter to gruesome horror flicks that stands on its own feet in the genre too, yet it gets ignored? True, it isn't a single, "Slasher," killing folks, but that is the case with, "The Strangers," too, and that's listed (plus the aforementioned TCM has a whole deranged family).

This list of what Richard Newby considers the 20 best slasher films of all time is overall pretty solid (no argument with, "Sleepaway Camp," or, "Black Christmas," being on there), but much of the list just seems defensive of weird choices as if Newby wants to irritate readers. For example, when he says, "You ready for it? Child’s Play 2 is better than Child’s Play. There, I said it. The band-aid has been ripped off." Dude, just tell us why you like movie as opposed to being all angry about it, like with your choice of the earlier-discussed 2009, "Friday the 13th," literally having the opening sentence, "Fine, boo me all you want." I mean, I am booing, but that's beside the point. You made a list, some of it I and many others will agree with and some parts are just baffling. That's okay though, it's your list, own it without shame or embarrassment...even when you're wrong and should've said, "Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives," is the best in the franchise, but that's just my opinion.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Spector Club Comic Show Was Great Fun!

I had a lot of fun today at the Spector Club Comic Show! As I mentioned yesterday, I had my own table for selling stuff. I sold a chunk of dollar-priced books (with my buy 5 get one free offer), some DVDs, a t-shirt or two, and a handful of priced comics--the dollar bin items were the biggest draw for folks, however. I enjoyed seeing my friends such as Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles, Konnor Tate of Tatertot Comics, John Chaffee of Bigfoot Comics, Tom (from Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games), and my chum Jason of Midwest Money and Collectibles. I saw my friend Tim Metzger too as he had a table as well.

I enjoyed chatting with a variety of people who stopped by my table and had a lot of fun. I would encourage everyone to mark May 21st on their calendar as that is the next Spector Club Comic Show! I probably won't have a table that day as I have another obligation scheduled already, but if it works out to at least swing by for a bit you can be sure I'll do so!

Saturday, March 4, 2023

I'm Going to Have a Table at the Spector Club Comic Show Tomorrow!

Readers of the blog may recall I set up a table back in June of 2022 at the Spector Club Comic Show where I sold a chunk of my dollar-valued comics that I no longer needed (along with other random cool stuff). Well, tomorrow I will be at the Spector Club Comic Show again with a table as I've got more stuff I need to sell to good homes! I'll have a bunch of dollar comics, a shortbox of priced comics, pop-culture t-shirts, some vinyl records, a few toys, and whatever else I think is worth selling and will fit in my designated space. I'd encourage you to check out more information for the show here and I hope if you live in the Saint Louis region or are visiting you'll stop by!

Friday, March 3, 2023

Flashback Friday: The First, "Gorillaz," Album Was Fantastic

A new, "Gorillaz," album has just been released and getting solid reviews. Titled, "Cracker Island," I have not yet checked it out but plan to do so. Before the Gorillaz built up a crazy and complex mythology, however, they were just a zany concept with some cool tunes on their self-titled debut LP. Way back in 2001 Damon Albarn, Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator and Kid Koala worked together to give us a surreal sonic blend, and comic creator  Jamie Hewlett brought it all home with his unique illustrations. Since the first LP a wide range of musical collaborators have been involved, books have come out detailing the sprawling story of Gorillaz, multimedia projects made, and movies planned (then canceled)--it is a lot. Travel back to 2001, however, with just that first album, and it still rocks.

"Gorillaz," has a mix of genres from some pop rock to rapping (Clint Eastwood remains a classic), weirdly experimental tracks, and there really isn't a track I skip when I listen as the whole LP is good fun. It was a strange idea Albarn and Hewlett had to make a band that was so commercial and fake that it truly didn't exist, and that lark gifted us something quite special. Even if, "Demon Days," was what really catapulted the Gorillaz into the stratosphere for popularity, the debut holds a special place in my heart.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

The Today Show Has Some Turmoil

I love watching The Today Show. It has had ups and downs throughout its existence. Two recent low points would be how Matt Laurer turned out to be a creep, and when Megyn Kelly was given an hour of the program. That was awful and I was pleased when it was put out of its misery. There is a lot of fun and information to be gleaned from The Today Show and it generally lacks too much turmoil. The current crew is great and I along with many others especially enjoy Hoda Kotb and Al Roker. Well, as far as we know Al Roker is doing great after a number of health scares in 2022 but Hoda has been mysteriously absent to the point folks were asking what is up. Oh, and Savannah Guthrie tested positive for COVID-19 while she was on the air and had to leave in the middle of an episode. As the AV Club put it, "Things are getting weird."

Hoda's absence was at least somewhat addressed this morning, with it stated she is dealing with, "A family health matter." Hoda and NBC obviously don't owe us an explanation for her absence, but people worried she had been fired, quit, or so forth--this makes it at least somewhat reassuring that this is a (supposedly) temporary leave of absence. For a show that I watch to have something pleasant and chill in the morning to wake up with there is a lot of drama occurring.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Attention Haters: "The Last of Us," Has Always Had LGBTQ+ Themes

I played and loved the first, "The Last of Us," video-game, and my wife enjoyed watching it. I skipped playing the second game because at the time it was released my life was not in a good place due to a variety of losses (although I may mentally be in a place now to enjoy it). Anyone who played the games is well aware of the fact that they've had plenty of LGBTQ+ themes. Joel's business acquaintance, Bill, was gay. DLC for the first game and the sequel made it clear that Ellie is attracted to women. I've seen people online saying how, "'The Last of Us,' was always loaded with Queer themes," and they are 100% correct. The thing is, a lot of people didn't play the games that the new HBO show draws from. This has resulted in unwarranted and silly backlash.

Complaining that the television version of, "The Last of Us," has added a bunch of, "Woke," elements or is forcing us to see LGBTQ+ characters is absurd because the source material always had that. It is equivalent to whining that the, "Jurassic Park," movie added a bunch of dinosaurs when they adapted the book--the themes were always there as clearly as a T-Rex. I would think the fact LGBTQ+ people exist and find love--whether it is in the real World or a fictional one full of fungus zombies--shouldn't be controversial. Yet that is the World these days.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Happy Sixth Birthday, Clarkson!

I want to wish a happy sixth birthday to my awesome child, Clarkson! He is the best little guy. One funny thing is when he was little he never had a, "Lovey," he wanted to sleep with but now that he's a bit older he likes to hold the Roku television remote when he's getting ready to snooze. The television doesn't even need to be on, but he likes to hold the remote. Clarkson is very sweet and loving--he gives great hugs and always wants to be tickled. I am so pleased with how much progress he has made as he keeps growing and learning. Happy birthday, Clarkson!

Monday, February 27, 2023

If You're Ever in Washington, Missouri You Should Visit These Two Places...

I've been over to Washington, Missouri on a number of occasions as my wife has some family living out that direction. With that in mind, I wanted to write about two places I enjoy stopping at any time we get over to Washington. I now present them alphabetically...

Aces & Eagles Disc Golf, Darts, Bar & Arcade + Comics & Gaming Supplies!

As the name of this location indicates, they've got a ton of fun stuff going on. Aces and Eagles is a store for disc golf and darts. It is an arcade. It has food and drink. There are comic books for sale, people play trading card games there, and basically, if there is something fun to do Aces and Eagles may very well have it for you to engage in! The staff are all incredibly nice so whether you want to play some arcade games, hang out with friends, eat a bit of grub, or do all of that, Aces and Eagles has you covered! Check out their website here.

underGROUNDS Espresso Bar

underGROUNDS actually had one location literally underground but moved to a nearby and more spacious spot which is quite lovely and spacious. They have a ton of cool coffee options here as well as a full menu of delicious hot food plus baked good (the snickerdoodle with some bourbon flavor is legit awesome). If you need a caffeine fix or some yummy breakfast while you're in Washington make sure to stop here. Explore the site for underGROUNDS at this link.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

I've Lost a Lot of Enthusiasm in "Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League," Hearing How It's Basically a Live Service Game

I loved the, "Arkham," games created by Rocksteady. I've been looking forward to, "Suicide Squad Kill the Justice League." However, as some new stuff about the game has been revealed, I have concerns.

The game will require you to always be online even if you're doing single-player mode because it will be a bit of a live service game. It will have updates with loot you can get killing baddies and there will be DLC new characters that--at least--won't cost money to my understanding, but there will be cosmetic upgrades you can purchase (I guess a bit like Fortnite). As Paul Tassi over at Forbes observes, it looks like live service Hell.

As some tweets have observed, it is, "Fun,"  to see Captain Boomerang
with what he is most known for, guns.

Look, I don't need a game I can supposedly play forever with little updates, different gear I collect over the months, and a cosmetic battle pass. I want something I can dive into, enjoy, and have fond memories of when I'm done. I haven't played a big online RPG since, "World of Warcraft," years ago and the last live service games I dabbled in were, the first, "Destiny," and, "Fortnite," although I guess Marvel Snap kind of counts as it has season passes, that's an online virtual card battler though so ehhhh. Live service silliness just is generally not for me.

I am completely open to trying out, "Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League," and seeing if it is in fact incredibly fun, inventive, compelling, and basically, all the stuff those, "Arkham," games Rocksteady did were. I just feel a lot more reserved and less excited than when the game first was announced and previewed. I guess we'll have a better idea this May.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

There Will be American Girl Dolls Themed for 1999 and I'm Clearly Old Now

American Girl Dolls exist to spotlight moments of history. They've had dolls address major periods of time. We've got dolls serving as historical nonfiction of history in living memory like civil rights to dolls featuring other times like immigration in the 1800s. American Girl Dolls feature the past and now we're going to have the first-ever set of twins...from 1999. God, I'm old enough now to have an American Girl Doll set when I was alive. Meet Isabel and Nicki. They're young adults living in 1999 who love the Pizza Hut Book-It program, playing with Tamagotchi toys, using computers, and worrying about Y2K.

It has slowly dawned on me over the years I'm getting old. I was by the comic shop one time and saw a kid with a shirt that read, "Straight out of 2005," hop in a car and drive it. I was startled at the thought they must be too young to be driving, but it was 2022 and if you subtract 2005 from that you've got someone who was 17 and (at least in the state of Missouri) can drive a car. I had a conversation with an employee at a store we frequent about OutKast and how their album, "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," came out in 2003. She stated, "Oh yeah, I was three years old then." I'm just saying, I get that I'm old, I just did not realize I was, "American Girl Doll made a book about a time period I lived through," old.

Friday, February 24, 2023

"Something is Killing the Children," Shall Be a Netflix Show

"Something is Killing the Children," has been a major hit comic and is probably the most popular series from BOOM! Studios (although they've had a number of great titles). It would have some news about an option on occasion but little would come from it. Well, Netflix has made it clear they're interested in making a show as, "Netflix has commissioned Baran Bo Adar and Jante Friese, acclaimed creators of Dark and 1899, to develop a TV series adaptation," of SIKTC. The comic's creative team James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera will be co-executive producing. Assuming the show gets made this could be a hit as folks love horror series lately. Whether it can keep going as lots of streamers seem to give shows just a season or two before canceling them will remain to be seen. At least we might get a good 8-13 episodes or so based on the comic, though. That might be fun.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Marvel Announces, "Ultimate Invasion," is Coming this Summer

Ever since Marvel's Ultimate Universe ended during the, 2015 "Secret Wars," event there have been hints of something brewing with its possible return. The Ultimate Universe's Reed Richards (who became an evil fellow named The Maker) popped up in the, "Venom," series while Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman worked on it, and Miles Morales originated in the Ultimate Universe before being folded into the main 616 continuity after, "Secret Wars," with issues arising at times for him due to that (the, "Other Miles," also called Ultimatum). Things are coming to a head, however, with, "Ultimate Invasion."

Writer Jonathan Hickman (who did a chunk of work with the Ultimate Universe when he came to Marvel) and illustrator Bryan Hitch (who was basically involved with the Ultimate Universe from the start back in the 2000s) will be doing, "Ultimate Invasion." It'll have The Maker and Miles Morales heavily involved along with heroes from both Universes seeming to face off with that troublemaking Illuminati that Bendis created in, "New Avengers," and Hickman also wrote having some involvement too --possibly an Ultimate Illuminati? The exact details of the event are scarce, but with a solid creative team and a fun concept, I'm already on board to at least try the event out. I just hope it doesn't have a ton of tie-ins as that gets tiring (although it is often easy to skip a chunk of those if needed). More of, "Ultimate Invasion," will apparently be revealed in a Free Comic Book Day offering from Marvel with the first issue following in June.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The, "Unexplained Prague," Kickstarter Looks Fun!

I will on occasion have the people behind a Kickstarter campaign reach out to me. They'll ask me to give their campaign a look and consider supporting it or writing about it. The folks at Skull and City sent over a message about their latest Kickstarter for, "Unexplained Prague." They previously made, "Unexplained London," and it is a series of pocket guides for cities that are also graphic novels telling the urban legends/stories of such locations. 

Prague is located in the Czech Republic and has a variety of ghost stories, rumored UFO sightings, and more. Author/investigator Mackenzie Peltz writes and illustrates, "Unexplained Prague," and as I am someone who enjoys fun little travel guides and comics their Kickstarter looks quite snazzy. I would encourage folks to check out the Kickstarter for, "Unexplained Prague," and to back it should they find the book cool!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Oni Lion Forge Press Seems to Be Rebuilding and Recovering From Past Concerns

It's been a rough time for a lot of comic-book publishers. I'm worried about IDW based on their money issues, AfterShock is going through bankruptcy, and Heavy Metal was acquired by Whatnot's publishing division or else it might have folded. Oni Lion Forge seemed to be laying off a ton of people and there were rumblings about if that publisher was in danger of closing up shop. However, it seems to be recovering and rebuilding, interestingly enough. 

There was the merger some years ago between Oni Press and Lion Forge which caused some drama, and then 2022 had essentially a total staff change. However, in December of 2022, Hunter Gorinson joined as President and now it was announced today that Sierra Hahn will be the Editor-in-Chief. Hahn's been in comics for over a decade in various important roles and is a great addition to any comic company. I don't think Oni Lion Forge would be adding some cool folks if it were truly a sinking ship as opposed to one trying to adjust course. My sympathy extends to everyone who was impacted by the massive lay-offs Oni Press Lion Forge had and I hope Oni Press Lion Forge itself can continue to grow and succeed,

Monday, February 20, 2023

247 Comics Could Be an Cool New Publisher Except it has an Interest in NFTs

Cryptocurrency is a stupid idea, as I've repeated on this site many times regardless of whether it is supposedly going up or engaging in an inevitable crash. NFTs are a horrible idea as well, serving as a piece of code that you have showing you, "Own," a picture/comic/dumb digital asset. When I heard about a new comic publisher called 247 Comics that would have some cool talent I was intrigued...until I saw those dreaded three letters in a row, NFT. Creators will be able to make more money from their works via the blockchain--somehow. Plus the people reading the comics will be vital (I mean, obviously) as they are apparently thinking about, "...collectors, who can directly participate in the growth and expansion of each franchise, as well 247’s impact on the overall world of entertainment in all its forms from the blockchain to the bookshelf." Apparently, buying-up big pieces of the blockchain for a comic will show it is popular. How inventive and not at all just like how if people buy a bunch of issues of a comic it does well and more volumes get made.

The whole press release that Comicsbeat presents with surprisingly little criticism in their article just reads like the usual, "Web 3.0," bluster of catchphrases and inventing things that already exist. When you throw out empty sentences like calling blockchain, "...a paradigm shift towards decentralization and democratization of entertainment and commerce," my eyes just glaze over. I mean, you've got Justin Jordan of, "Luther Strode," fame among other stuff, talented creator Priscilla Petraites (she was amazing on the, "Chariot," mini-series), and plenty of other cool folks at your new publisher and you want to talk to me about, "...a decentralized community ownership model made possible by emerging technology," when you could be selling me on comics? 

Cryptocurrency and NFTs are quite possibly the dumbest inventions of this century (and we're early in this century which I doubt I'll live to see the end of, but I'm pretty sure by 2100 the history books will discuss how awful Crytpo-anything was). You can check 247 Comics out online, and while I might read their actual comics, I won't touch any of the blockchain junk they're so eager to dabble in.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Clarkson and I Met Spidey Today!

Today we went to one of Clarkson's favorite places to play, the We Rock the Spectrum Kid's Gym in Fenton. There are many WRTS locations that are all individually owned as part of the franchise, and our favorite one to visit is located in--as I said--Fenton. They had the, "Hero Hangout," event and a couple of superheroes appeared. We were most excited to see Spidey though. Samii, Clarkson, and I all wore clothes in the theme of Spidey and it was cute when Clarkson had Spidey help push him on the swing. I was able to get a selfie too, as can be seen above. We love WRTS in Fenton and I'd encourage you to visit the website I linked up above or to check out their oft-updated Facebook page as well. If you live in the Saint Louis region it is a fantastic place to go play whether your child is neurotypical or has special needs. I'd highly recommend going for an event or open play sometime. I also want to thank Enchanted Events, the agency that sent over Spidey, or as he is called on their page, Spidey Guy, so as to avoid anyone confusing him with any other Spider-characters, just to throw that disclaimer out there for them.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

"Hogwarts Legacy," is What Happens When Your Game is Controversial and Generic at the Same Time

"Hogwarts Legacy," was bound to be a lightning rod of a game. It takes place in a World created by J.K. Rowling, an author who in recent years made it quite evident she holds extremely transphobic views. People often discuss separating art from the artist, and I talked about this back in 2020 when her opinions became evident. Some folks absolutely love the Harry Potter Universe and choose to separate Rowling's hate from their adoration of the property (that or they don't care/actually share her views). Other people enjoyed Harry Potter in the past but have stepped away from it with Rowling's beliefs now being apparent. What about me? Well, I am totally open about having only seen the first movie and struggling to get through the fourth book as a teen--before seeing how big the fifth was and just giving up on the franchise entirely. I don't hate the Harry Potter franchise. I also am not enamored with it. I was already disinterested in the game because I just don't want to support Rowling. It isn't like Lovecraft being long gone, she's still actively tweeting venom at folks (imagine if Lovecraft could tweet). However, I did consider renting the game to play it and offering a review of sorts about how the actual title itself was, you know, doing some journalism. That said, the game sounds like every other bland open-world title lately with some magical window-dressing and little else.

When it comes to books, movies, video-games, comics, or quite frankly anything, I hate boring. I'll take, "Weird," over, "Decent but dull," any day of the week. When it came to a game set in the universe of Harry Potter (albeit in the 1890s before he existed) I wouldn't think the main problem it could have besides its associations with the person who birthed its Universe is to be bland. Then I read how you wander around an open world doing quests, collecting gear/herbs/ and so forth for crafting, fire off a wand like a third-person shooter when you're not doing stealth kills (without actually killing) and this sounds like all those, "Assasin's Creed," games I played. That or, "Far Cry." Oh, maybe, "Read Dead Redemption 2," with the past setting, or the, "Dragon Age," games with all the magic (or "The Witcher," franchise and many other fantasy titles). Hell, "Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," is arguably the best open-world fantasy game ever, with little to match it in sheer enjoyment.

What I'm saying is there are tons of open-world games and, "Hogwarts Legacy," seems to draw from a ton of them without doing anything new, based on what I've read and seen from viewing gameplay videos online. I'm not sure I want to drop eight bucks to play the same game I've dabbled in before with little to make it unique besides the Harry Potter license. I can fight against evil goblins as Link. I can sneak around as one of many different eras of assassins. I can enjoy magic in plenty of games (I love casting magic in Elder Scrolls titles). What is the twist, "Hogwarts Legacy," gives us besides, "You know those books you loved before the author became problematic? Now you can explore that World in a generic action RPG set a century before the stuff you loved reading about!" 

According to the folks who have actually reviewed the game's actual gamey aspects, there is little of note there. Folks are just buying the game in droves because they love Harry Potter or perhaps want to own the, "Woke liberals." If any of these people have played an open-world title in the last decade or so however, they've seen this done, and by all accounts done much better--seriously, "Red Dead Redemption 2," and, "Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," are the only two open-world games you really need from the last 10 years with, "Grand Theft Auto V," meriting a mention as well although it first came out in September of 2013 so it is the most long-in-the-tooth.

I understand how if this were the best game ever people who want to support trans rights could struggle with their desire to play it and try to argue there isn't, "Ethical consumption in capitalism," or some B.S.  In this case, however, ya'll ain't missing much by refusing to give Rowling's estate your cash. It is bizarre how people seem willing to excuse transphobia and overlook dull and uninspiring gameplay in the name of getting to wear a sorting hat and floating on a broom. Perhaps a day will come when Rowling sells the rights to the HP franchise and the idea of her profiting from new creations within the World is gone and allows people to feel better about being a student at Hogwarts. For now though, the, "Legacy," is tainted and apparently not even that fun.

Friday, February 17, 2023

My Review of Dr. Pepper's New Strawberries and Cream Flavor

I'm drinking less soda overall but I do like to try various flavors. I've had some recently that are good, some have been awful, and some are perfectly fine but unremarkable (looking at you, Starry). I was able to sample the new Dr. Pepper Strawberries and Cream flavor, and I will say that it is actually quite good. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who was so lukewarm on the regular cream flavor I don't even think I wrote a review of it, I just shrugged and found it tasted so much like regular Dr. Pepper with a slight bit of creaminess it didn't warrant a post. Strawberries and Cream, though? This stuff's pretty snazzy.

There is definitely a strong taste of strawberry, but it does not overpower the Dr. Pepper itself, which I appreciate. The creaminess is pretty subtle but balances with everything in a way that simply works. Any hesitations I had about a somewhat complex-sounding flavor for Dr. Pepper disappeared once I started drinking this blend. My wife, Samii, tried the zero sugar version and was less impressed than I was, but found it okay. I, however, really enjoyed the Strawberries and Cream flavor. It by no means will replace my affection for the regular flavor (the only spin-off soda to ever do that is Mountain Dew Code Red), but it definitely is quite yummy. If you spot it at the store it is definitely worth purchasing and trying out.

4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Can Someone Explain Mr. Beast to Me?

Mr. Beast

I am online a lot so I've heard of Mr. Beast. I have seen some of his videos. He is quite possibly the most popular, "Influencer," in existence, worth nearly a billion dollars. I don't get why because I don't get it. His videos are perfectly fine. He usually has some silly contest or gimmick where he gives money to people if they do a challenge. To his credit, I've never seen a nasty/gross/otherwise mean-spirited challenge. I know he has faced criticism for, "Public altruism," like when he did a video paying for surgery to help people with vision issues see better. Mr. Beast, or Jimmy Donaldson if we're using his real name, seems like a pleasant enough dude. Why is he so popular though? Why do I not find myself entertained by his videos like other folks who comment with the affection of a borderline cultish love? What am I not getting?

I'm 34 and nearing 35. Am I just too old to get it? Do the younger folks adore Mr. Beast because they find his videos really entertaining in some fashion? Is he hyped up a lot because folks like to fantasize about Mr. Beast giving them a ton of money somehow or some way (kind of like how when you buy a lottery ticket you're paying a couple bucks to get to imagine what it would be like to have a windfall)? His earlier videos were fun little viral stunts that he did, I see some charm in those. Maybe kids love him because he used to be a teenager making silly little videos and now he's stinking rich--is it a, "If he can do it anyone can," type of thing?

I don't like Mr. Beast. I don't dislike Mr. Beast. I simply don't get Mr. Beast. Can someone explain him to me? Anyone is welcome to do so. A fan can do so. A hater can offer an opinion. Hell, Mr. Beast can call me up and explain what his deal is to me if he feels like it in-between making videos or apparently doing branded food delivery among other projects. I just want to get it, whatever it is. That, or maybe I am too old and should go back to remembering the 2000s and our viral-video stars of that era. Whatever happened to that kid who bit Charlie's finger?

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Time for the Best Valentine's Day Song in the Year it Turns 20!

OutKast's Instagram had some fun little Valentines today.

It is Valentine's Day, therefore it is now time for the best song about the holiday. "Happy Valentine's Day," was on OutKast's superb double LP, "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below). Both a pro-love and anti-love song, it works whether you've got a sweetheart or are single. It's just a great tune and is 20 years old in 2023. Here ya go:

Happy Valentine's Day and/or Fuck That Valentine's Day indeed.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Domino's Loaded Tots Are Quite Tasty


For the Super Bowl yesterday we stayed home and picked up some Domino's items, including their new loaded tots. Samii and I sampled the cheddar bacon ones and they were delicious. The mixture of tots, cheese, bacon, and ranch worked perfectly. I always am a fan of tater tots and these hit the spot. I'll definitely have them again as a side next time I order some Domino's pizza. My only criticism would be that a little more cheese might make them even better. That quibble aside, these are definitely worth trying out.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

I Really Dug That First Issue of, "A Vicious Circle," and Look Forward to the Next

In December of last year, the first issue was released of, "A Vicious Circle." A treasury-sized comic from BOOM! Studios, it is set to be three sizeable issues overall. Featuring the writing of Mattson Tomlin (known for his work on various movies and comics) and the artwork of Lee Bermejo (known for being an amazing artist on a variety of comics, many of them featuring Batman), this series focuses on two time-travelers who are locked in a big fight to stop or enable some kind of doomsday machine. They jump around together anytime one of them kills someone, possibly ending up in the 1950s, far-future, or even before humans existed if a cliffhanger at the end of the first issue is any indicator.

It's a clever concept, as we witness Shawn Thacker (who we assume is the good guy), trying to carve out a quiet life and avoid any trouble while his evil foe, a man named Ferris, eagerly wants to cause as much mayhem and violence as possible. Bermejo's art really struck me, changing dramatically with every, "Jump," through time as if a whole new artist had taken over for a handful of panels, but it is all Bermejo. He's practically showing off on a double-page spread loaded with jumps in time that is as disorienting as it is gorgeous to witness. The story takes enough time to situate us with Shawn before a lot of crazy time travel starts, however, so the relatively chill first third of the comic gets us caring about Shawn and then the zany other 2/3 takes us on a mind-bending trip to various periods of time.

I believe the second issue of, "A Vicious Circle," is due this February or March. The debut issue clearly has stuck with me and that's why I wanted to write about it and turn others onto this mini-series. Go find yourself a copy of the first issue so you can be as excited for the next one as I am!

5 out of 5 stars.