Wednesday, May 31, 2023

CBR is Being Overhauled, but it Might Be Too Late for the Site

Comic Book Resources used to be a great site, years ago. They were bought out in 2016 when Valnet acquired them. After that, it became all list articles, clickbait, and junk. The site has sucked for years and rarely has anything good on it (I think I've linked to it once in a blue moon when they have a notable piece or good interview). Apparently, being awful has caught up with the site as it is going to do a major overhaul and address, "Culture and performance." A bunch of people were laid-off and what exactly the site will look like or how it will function remains to be seen. I saw some friends on Facebook metaphorically shrug at this news. People on Reddit overwhelmingly seemed to ask, "Wait, CBR still existed?" or outright celebrated the site being in trouble. I don't cheer for anyone losing their job, and my sympathies go out to those who were laid off. That said, it might be too late for CBR to return to the status of anything resembling a respected site for comic and pop-culture news. 

I know I'm just some random dude with a blog who probably doesn't get nearly as many views as CBR, but I also am just one person with a site that costs all of $20-ish a year to keep online (and I ain't making any money on clicks). Plus, unlike CBR I don't think I was ever respected. I've always just been here, being weird. I did do some list article gigs for other sites in the past but don't think I'd do it again. They are even less fun to write than they are to read. Anyways, I hope CBR can figure itself out. We shall see.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Becky Rothman--The Queen of Carpets and Saint Louis Icon--Has Passed

When I moved to Saint Louis I learned about everything that defines the city. The food (Imo's pizza, gooey butter cake, toasted ravioli) was a big one, as well as certain individuals. You've got sports figures such as Ozzie Smith, acting talent such as Jon Hamm, and then local celebrities such as Becky Rothman, who just recently passed this Sunday. Becky Rothman was the Queen of Carpets and advertised her family's brand which featured her name--Becky's Carpet and Tile Superstore. I learned of her not too long after I moved to Saint Louis in 2011 and Samii and I went to a little local art show for a date. The artist had all kinds of works, including portraits of Saint Louis celebrities such as Becky. 

The last store closed in 2012 but Becky Rothman remained well-known by locals and even if the ads didn't run on television anymore, they now live on Youtube. By all accounts, she was a nice person having served as a foster for Midwest Doberman Rescue of St. Louis as she was passionate about animals and also treated her fellow humans well. She passed from complications relating to renal failure and was 67. She will be missed, but I'm happy we will always have her delightfully silly ads to enjoy.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Have a Thoughtful Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a bit of an odd holiday. Some people view it as a three-day weekend and enjoy barbecuing or hanging out. Other people use it to commemorate loved ones who were lost in battle and it is an extremely somber, "Holiday," for them. It often occurs around my birthday which can make having a party complicated as a chunk of folks are busy on trips or such with Memorial Day unofficially kicking off Summer. Whether Memorial Day is more of a fun holiday for you or one of remembrance, I hope you have a good and thoughtful day!

Sunday, May 28, 2023

"You Will Own Nothing and You Will be Happy," #1 is Another Hanselmann Hit!

As I started reading the newest comic from Simon Hanselmann, titled, "You Will Own Nothing and You Will be Happy," the first thing I said a few pages in was, "Really, zombies?" I entrusted in him though and by this debut issue's end I was hooked and can't wait for the next entry (which Hanselmann has promised will come out quarterly). For those of you unaware of Hanselmann and his immense talent, however, you might be asking who exactly he is.

Simon Hanselmann has created a variety of little Universes for his characters of Megg, Mogg, Owl, Werewolf Jones, and everyone else. You've got the kind we've seen in, "MegaHex," and its assorted books leading up to, "Bad Gateway." There was the, "Crisis Zone," one where COVID-19 and its impact on the World was reflected in real-time upon the characters--it also brought Hanselmann a ton of acclaim. There are books that I'm not quite sure where they fall into what part of the Hanselmann-Multiverse, or Hansel-verse (as I'm calling it), such as, "Below Ambition," and other self-published stuff (some of which was collected in, "Seeds and Stems." Now we've got the latest reality we're glimpsing in the Hansel-verse (I'm going to make this a thing, mark my words) and it features the gang dealing with--as I said somewhat incredulously at the start, zombies. Yes, zombies.

In a lengthy backmatter section that closes out the comic Hanselmann outright admits he wanted to tackle something that seemed hacky and played out because he simply wanted to do something fun and see how well he could make it work. Doing the depressing comics such as, "Bad Gateway," with all the exploring Megg's familial trauma relates too much to a lot of what Hanselmann went through in life as a child and is hard to dig into, he says. Zombies, though? That's just a recipe for some twisted fun and allows Hanselmann to explore a lot of concepts of society falling apart violently--a subject he lightly scratched the surface of in, "Crisis Zone," and dives headfirst into here.

The comic itself contains Hanselmann's usual superb artist and snarky wit. The issue mostly involves Megg, Mogg, and Owl holing up in their house and feeling claustrophobic as the world essentially begins to end outside. The panels for these chapters/"Days," are cramped and awkward, just how the characters feel. Then, when moments occur of them stepping outside we get the most beautiful splash pages of a ruined city. Megg and Mogg are understandably at first incredulous at the idea of a zombie apocalypse whilst Owl is a mix of terrified and borderline delighted his high-tech security system will get used (he never trusted poor people and wanted to be safe) as well as all the doomsday provisions now being ingested.

As Megg and Mogg are wont to do, everything gets screwed up by the issue's end and we conclude on a cliffhanger about just how bad things might get for everyone. As I mentioned, Hanselmann plans to release issues of, "You Will Own Nothing and You Will be Happy," on a quarterly basis along with his other projects with big publishers (the backmatter discusses how he decided to do this as a self-published endeavor as it was the most cost-effective choice). The first issue is now sold-out but there will be another printing alongside the new issues. This new entry in the Hansel-verse (mark my words, I'll make this a thing) is a real treat. I may have said, "Really, zombies?" at first, but now I'm saying, "Really, zombies!" with great excitement.

5 out of 5 Stars.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

I Turn 35 Today, Happy Birthday to Me in 2023!

Today I turn 35 years old. Years ago, there was a song by comedy group The Lonely Island that contains a lyric/quote I heard for the first time within said ditty. It goes, "Old enough to know better but young enough to not care," which probably applies to me still. Guest-rapper E-40 said it while pretending to be Carlos Santana (it's a silly song) and I like to think it means we can grow older and wiser but still have a fun youthful energy. Even if your hairline starts receding and your bones get creaky you can still be a mischievous little scamp sometimes. After all, life is for living and I've continued to live a great life. 

I have my fantastic wife, Samii, our wonderful child, Clarkson, and another son on the way before long. I am 35 today, and I hope to continue having many more superb birthdays with my loved ones. Thanks to you all for being my readers/friends and I'll even shout out my enemies because my continuing to live spites them. You are all appreciated and awesome. Thanks for celebrating my birthday with me in some fashion, let's have a great day!

Friday, May 26, 2023

Flashback Friday: Marvel is Bringing Back the '80s (With Some Help From Hasbro), Baby!

Marvel had the rights to such popular 1980s characters as ROM and the Micronauts via a deal with Hasbro. However, they lost those licenses years ago and other publishers got to print newer titles relating to the characters. IDW most recently published ROM but lost a lot of Hasbro rights in 2022, including ROM. Hence, not long ago Marvel announced they were releasing a big collection of ROM comics, "Rom: The Original Years Omnibus," which with that title makes you wonder if new years are coming too. Marvel got the rights back to ROM to some degree, clearly, and then it was revealed we're getting at least a couple Micronauts Omnibus books with, "Micronauts: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus Volume 1," collecting the first two years of that series. Those rights bounced around for a while too with IDW being the most recent party to lose them (IDW has had a rough go of things lately). 

One almost wonders if other Hasbro properties that currently aren't going to be with any specific publisher could end up getting printed by Marvel (a return of G.I. Joe could even occur, I'd bet). These classic '80s comics getting reprinted is a snazzy occurrence for sure and I am curious about any new stuff possibly coming down the pike in the near future. I would not be surprised if fresh ROM or Micronauts comics get printed in 2024-ish, in other words.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Sony is Working on a New Handheld, but it's Not Quite What You'd Expect

Sony and PlayStation havedone handheld consoles before. We had the PSP, Vita and so forth. Despite some quality games those handhelds mostly struggled to take off against Nintendo and its popular handheld devices (as has always been the case since the Gameboy versus Game Gear, Lynx, and so forth). When Nintendo gave us the surreal blend of home console and portable device in the form of the Switch they only further established their market dominance, with the Steam Deck being the only thing to even come vaguely close as a powerful handheld gaming tool. Well, Sony ain't totally finished yet, with something called Project Q on the horizon.

Sony's Project Q looks like a Nintendo Switch with a Dualshock controller attached in place of the usual parts. It is not an utterly independent console as it essentially streams your PlayStation 5 games from the console to your device via Remote Play and Wi-Fi. You can't only have a Project Q to play games, it is more an extension of your PS5 that draws from it as opposed to some kind of device that uses a cloud and has its own fancy hardware. It's a companion to the PS5 that'll let you play it anywhere with the handheld tech, in other words. I don't think it is a terrible idea but it doesn't really get my heart aflutter. The internet's reaction has been mixed overall upon hearing about this device. Perhaps as we near its tentative release date of possibly as soon as this November more details will become apparent. Right now I'd say Project Q sounds like more of an interesting idea with some uses than any kind of must-buy addition to a gaming setup.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Image Comics to Distribute Exclusively With Lunar

I've got too many posts over the years to link to so I'll summarize things quickly. Diamond Comics Distributors was the only game in town for distributing comics, then COVID hit and they shut everything down. Lunar was created and became the main (and eventually sole) distributor of DC Comics. After a while, Marvel partnered with Penguin Random House to be their distributor. Various other publishers started partnering more with PRH or Lunar (IDW and Dark Horse left) and Diamond continued to lose companies that utilized them for comics due to being--by all accounts--miserable to work with for a comic store. They didn't change much or evolve and while they still do well with toys, board games, model kits, and so forth, they just lost Image as their biggest remaining partner. That's right, Image Comics shall be partnering with Lunar starting this September, and Diamond shall be stuck as a wholesaler just like with other companies that left.

This is a huge deal and while it doesn't mean Diamond is going to utterly wither and die, this is quite the hit they are taking in terms of their comic business. Diamond is going to have to change to some degree how they operate. I'm sure there will be more as this develops.

This AI Stuff is Rapidly Getting out of Hand

I love technology. I would not have met my wife via online dating without the Internet. I also wouldn't have a blog, just probably a weird paper zine I printed and threw at people who got close to me at the corner store. Medical tech is advancing in ways that helps people in astounding ways, video-games are cooler-looking than ever, and so forth. That said, this AI stuff is getting out of hand and advancing at a rate much faster than I think we as a populace are ready to handle. It is like that scene in, "Jurassic Park," where it is pointed out everyone wondered if they could do something and didn't ask if they should.

I'm not only talking about the AI programs that can write essays to help students cheat or such. I'm concerned about how people already believe totally fake stuff they read online, and now you're going to show them a picture of a bomb seeming to go off by the Pentagon and expect them to realize it's fake? That, or what about a situation where hackers will clone the voice of a loved one and pretend to call as if they are holding that person hostage with them, "Yelling," in the background whilst a ransom is demanded? Oh, how about a celebrity known for streaming video games and having an Onlyfans named Amouranth creating an AI Chatbot fans can, "Date," in the ultimate parasocial relationship? Seriously, how long until one of those fans with a loose grip on reality tries to track her down because they are convinced this chatbot is really her in some fashion (I really hope she ups her security with this going on)? 

Taking parasocial relationships to a whole new level.

I'm not saying this is going to end in the AI becoming self-aware and wiping us out like we are living in a, 'Terminator," movie, but if the wrong person falls for something a bad actor created with AI we'll just wipe ourselves out, probably. Will we be surprised when someone fakes a relationship suffering from cheating and an innocent party who is framed for that gets hurt? What if AI makes it look like a company is in economic trouble and all the stocks suddenly get sold under false pretenses? How long until someone makes it sound like an authority figure is demanding a missile be launched somewhere and the right/wrong circumstances make it happen? I know I escalated all that quickly, but AI is itself growing at a wild rate with the original Chat GPT struggling to do something like pass a Bar Exam and the latest iteration a few months later impressing everyone with its legalese.

AI won't replace us. Even if you try to have it create a picture, write a story, or something else it is not actually making anything so much as it is collating data to manufacture something seemingly new out of things humans made. Still, people will try to use the capabilities of AI to scam others, hurt others, or otherwise make reality even less believable than it already is with so much fakery already in the World. We are arguably at a tipping point. I just hope society doesn't fall into a black hole of self-destruction.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Television Tuesday: Discussing Fandom-Blending Via, "The Family Stallone," Show

"The Family Stallone," is a new Paramount+ exclusive (for now, I could see it eventually getting syndicated too) and it follows actor Sylvester Stallone, his wife, Jennifer, and their three daughters. The eldest is Sistine, followed by Sophia, and then Scarlet. It's a reality show that will appeal a little bit to a variety of fandoms. The daughters are like less-annoying Kardashians who do a podcast, work in various businesses, and have the usual relationship drama and personal struggles that fans of trashy reality programs will eat up. However, the presence of Sly brings in a whole new demographic--I'd imagine--of older folks who are tuning in explicitly for him being a bit of a lovable grouch and hanging out with his family or actor-friends (In the year 2023 Al Pacino appeared for the first time in a reality show, let it be noted). These various fandoms could clash between Boomers with fond memories of, "Rambo," and Gen-Z youth who adore the daughters and follow them religiously on Instagram, but it weirdly enough manages to (mostly) work.

One big elephant in the room the first two episodes of the show do not address (but might eventually) is how Stallone and Jennifer actually filed for divorce while the show was filming and then reconciled. There is nary a hint of that in the debut episodes that were posted last week, with everything being much more breezy and fun outside of Sistine being upset due to her own relationship issues Sly talks her through. The vibe of the show is pretty chill and silly, with the girls loving to mess with Sly. One prank is a bit in bad taste--in my opinion--when he's led to believe via a birthday cake he'll be a grandfather soon and throws a fit about not even having met a potential baby daddy. I see what the ladies were going for, but yeesh.

Half the show's (older) viewers will be ecstatic to see Al Pacino.
The other (younger) half will have no clue who he is.

Some reviews have found this to a, "By-the-book," reality affair where you have a famous family getting up to various shenanigans, learning a valuable life lesson, talking about familial love, rinse and repeat. That isn't necessarily false, but the presence of grouchy but sweet ol' Sly always being there ready to point out just how absurd the show is, in fact, does inject a nice bit of actual reality into the, "Reality show," format. Sly is the glue that holds the show together, and that arguably makes me like this program more than I would've expected. Whether the mish-mash of fandoms tuning in will feel the same way shall remain to be seen. The show did make me want to watch, "Demolition Man," again, as that's my favorite role starring Stallone, so if this at least bumps-up sales of his movies then mission accomplished, I suppose.

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

Monday, May 22, 2023

"Avengers," #1 Gives Us a Stupendous Start for the Newly Relaunched Series

Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness (with some other artists too) had been doing the, "Avengers," comic since 2018 and that's quite a good deal of time in this era of comics where a book can be canceled or relaunched within six or so issues. Jed Mackay and C.F. Villa are taking over for a new run now, however, and I'm not surprised it starts so strongly. I expected this to be a good debut issue because Mackay is a stellar writer (he's been killing it over on, "Moon Knight," and did a number of superb, "Black Cat," books to name some recent work). C.F. Villa is a superb artist as well, having worked with Mackay most recently on, "Black Cat," in addition to other stuff like, "X-Men." I'm pleased my expectations were met and surpassed.

A whole lot has been happening in the Marvel Universe and Mackay doesn't avoid it or perseverate on it. As Carol Danvers AKA Captain Marvel assembles her team a variety of things all the characters have been through get mentioned and clearly inform why The Vision or Black Panther might be joining the team, but whether you've followed a solo series or recent event or not, you'll be set as Mackay is setting out to tell a new story while also respecting the recent and longer-ago past. Hence, the book alternates between Carol assembling her new Avengers team, them being stuck in a huge battle, and a little jump forward in time that involves a classic Avengers foe who maybe is at the end of their metaphorical road.

If I'm being honest, I have not read a dedicated," Avengers," title for years (besides occasionally checking out an issue here and there). I followed the Avengers-related books religiously back during the era of, "Civil War," "The Initiative," and, "Secret Invasion," but then started to fall off the books quite a bit ago. This first issue by Mackay and Villa definitely piqued my interest and has me thinking I"ll be picking up an, "Avengers," book again for the foreseeable future as long as they're doing it!

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Shoes On in the House or Shoes Off?

I've written about how I am a big fan of, "CBS Sunday Morning," and their interesting news segments. When I was watching today's episode the subject of shoes was delved into. Specifically, if we should wear our shoes in the house or take them off--and what we ask guests to do.

I, interestingly enough, grew up in a house where we would often keep our shoes on a chunk of the time, but as I got older I found myself becoming a, "Shoes off," person as I just liked being in socks when in the house more than my shoes. It just felt freeing. As for when I'm at another person's house, I am happy to keep my shoes on, take them off, or transfer into some slippers if they've got house shoes for guests as some people do. I know some people get really intense about this debate and do not want to take their shoes off at the home of someone else or alternatively, get very upset should a person demand to keep their shoes on when they'd prefer guests kick them off. I'm flexible about it, clearly, but I'll always accept whatever folks want in their own home. At my house, though? I'm usually shoeless for the sake of my feet-related comfort and guests can do whatever they like too.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Disney is Shutting Down Their Star Wars Hotel

The Galatic Starcruiser has been open at Disney World for about a year and a half. It's been known as a costly hotel that runs you about 4 grand for two days if you're a couple, and even more funds if you've got a bigger group. People who shelled out the dough got meals and explored a themed area full of Disney cast members pretending to be in the world of Star Wars. Picture, "Westworld," without the sex or robots (human actors instead) and you are halfway there. When it was first announced I wondered if this would be a massive hit with a long waitlist despite the price. I guess not enough people loved Star Wars and had tons of expendable income because the Galactic Starcruiser is shutting down in September.

Perhaps if Disney tweaks the hotel into more of a, "Ride," or an area guests can explore to see sights themed for Star Wars without having to pay for lodging that might work. People would probably pay a decent sum for a fancy dinner and show follow by them being able to go to a different and cheaper hotel. By all accounts, this was a purely business decision and unrelated to Disney's other big announcement about how they wouldn't be building a billion-dollar complex due to Florida's governor (DeSantis) being a jerk toward them. Clearly Disney is doing a lot of tweaks and changes.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Visit Grape's Games at the Chesterfield Mall!

For a chunk of time, there was not much in the Chesterfield Mall, but it has actually been getting some cool stores added lately. One of those new businesses would be Grape's Games. It just opened May 12th and is owned by two folks named Kristen and Andy. I checked their store out the other day and was impressed by it! Their business sells everything from Pokemon cards and related items to Funko Pops, board games, miniature toys, plush items, and more! If you don't live within the Saint Louis area you can order stuff from them to be shipped as well via their website. If you do live around here, make sure to stop by and say hello to them. The store is located right by the escalators in the mall that go up to the AMC movie theater, so you can't miss them!

Thursday, May 18, 2023

I Actually Kind of Like Frank Miller's Latest Artwork

I've been rough on Frank Miller before so I'm clearly not some kind of apologist for the guy. That said, Miller has mostly recanted his past hurtful statements and clarified he wasn't in a good headspace when he made them. He has also been busy with his new publishing company and the occasional work for other companies. This led to him doing some variant covers featuring Wolverine, Blade, and Moon Knight. 

I'll say the Moon Knight drawing is good and while they are abstract I dig his take on Wolverine and Blade. The internet has had folks being really harsh on the style and others defending it. I'd argue that Miller has always been one to tweak his style--for better or worse. "Dark Knight Strikes Again," was a surreal mess and looks like a totally different artist did it than, "Sin City," much in the same way Miller's take on, "Daredevil," decades ago is miles away from his stuff now. The guy tries other drawing styles out and I won't judge him for it--even if I judge him for other stuff he's said and done.

Frank Miller is like his art, constantly changing and prone to drawing incredibly divisive opinions from fans for various reasons. Miller has been called so many names over the years--both positive and negative--that I don't think he really cares what people think of these new covers. He made them and he was pleased enough with the result to submit them to Marvel for a check. In the end, Miller can laugh all the way to the bank while everyone else argues if his work is, "Good," anymore or not--so I guess he wins, as it were.

"Grant Theft Auto VI," Could Be Coming in 2024 or Early 2025

It has been a good long while since, "Grand Theft Auto V," was released--at least the first time. I played it on my PlayStation 3 way back in September of 2013. Then it was re-released on the next generation of consoles...and the generation after that. Everyone has eagerly been anticipating, "Grand Theft Auto VI," and a big leak in September of 2022 made it clear the game was being worked on and seemed to be quite the massive experience (not that we would expect anything less). The game's developer (Rockstar) has been quiet since the leak and the game's publisher, Take-Two hasn't had much to say besides expressing displeasure at the leak. However, Take-Two is now discussing how the fiscal year of April 2024-April 2025 is going to be quite a big one. They won't say exactly why they anticipate it being a year that they go swimming in money, but anyone who can read between the lines should know that means GTAVI is due sometime around then.

"Grand Theft Auto VI," sounds like it will take everything from the previous game and a bit of, "Red Dead Redemption 2," and give us something utterly massive (based on what previously leaked, that is to say). I would imagine the game is going to be quite good and I'm eager to it out once we actually can play the darn thing more than a decade since the last game in the series. I guess we just need to ready to clear a chunk of our calendars in 2024 or 2025 should GTAVI actually emerge at that time.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Al Ewing to Bring Us, "Immortal Thor," With Some Fantastic Collaborators

I talked about some annoying news from Marvel already today, so let's touch upon something good! Al Ewing was the writer on, "Immortal Hulk," and it was one of the best runs on the character ever. Ewing is well aware that now planning to launch, "Immortal Thor," with such a title will result in certain expectations. He is eager to give us something that will hopefully be incredible. Even if it is a different style of tale than, "Immortal Hulk," it will have some thematic similarities, Ewing indicates. 

Ewing has a stellar team with him as Alex Ross will be back doing covers as he did with, "Immortal Hulk," and Martín Cóccolo shall provide interior artwork with Matt Wilson on colors. Ewing wants to do something even better than, "Immortal Hulk," and I honestly think he is a talented enough guy with a great enough team that he could pull it off. The first issue comes out in August (with a bit of a bridge issue in July, apparently) so we shall see!

Marvel Comics Spoiled Their Own Character's Death

Marvel was worried about big and shocking death getting they went and spoiled it themselves. They told Entertainment Weekly all about it and the various comic sites reported it too. I'm going to spoil it, but the comic doesn't come out for like 2 weeks so it would be hard to avoid the reveal anyways. You see, it seemed Mary Jane was going to be killed off but instead a character who has barely interacted with Peter Parker is going to die in his book and not her own. Yes, Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel is soon-to-be-dead. What?

First of all, I don't get why they're killing Kamala Khan off in a random issue of a Spider-Man book. Secondly, the optics for this are just bad. She's one of a handful of Muslim superheroes in the Marvel Universe, a popular female character, and the character is featured heavily in the upcoming, 'The Marvels," movie. Could this be a weird swerve where it is revealed Kamala was a mutant instead of an Inhuman and gets resurrected because the X-Men have been doing that lately (she already is hinted at being a mutant in the MCU even if the origin varies in comics)? If Marvel is going to kill her off only to bring her right back that cheapens the, "Impact," of this death, however, and is even more irritating.

This just seems like a bad idea no matter what happens. I have zero clue what exactly Marvel was thinking and honestly think they're spoiling the death well in advance to work on doing damage control. It doesn't make sense, looks bad, and most likely will be undone shortly. It's strange and kinda lame, pure and simple.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Television Tuesday: "Trainwreck: Woodstock '99"

I love a good documentary. I always enjoy learning something new about a subject whether I know a lot or a little about it. I had some memories of Woodstock '99 as I was a teenager then and witnessed on the television how it had descended into pure chaos. I didn't know a ton about what occurred, however, and the documentary, "Trainwreck: Woodstock '99," does a fantastic job delving into just what went wrong...which was basically everything.

There are three episodes that spend a lot of time focusing on the three days that occurred at Woodstock '99 (with some lead-up and a chunk of the disturbing aftermath). The awful heat, contaminated water, price gouging, garbage build-up, and general disregard for attendees in the name of profit basically resulted in a powder keg that metaphorically and at times literally blew up at the end of the festival. A lot of blame gets thrown around and the buck gets passed a bunch, but in the end, the whole thing clearly is a failure of epic portions. The result is a fascinating documentary that is totally worth your time. You can find it on Netflix.

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Check out the New Site for Fortress Comics

Jack Thomas of Fortress Comics is a cool guy I'm glad to call my friend. I helped him set up a little blog site to promote Fortress Comics and you can find it at this link. Give it a browse and if you'll be at one of the shows Jack is listed as attending, go buy his stuff!

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Happy Mother's Day 2023!

Today is Mother's Day and I wanted to wish a good one to anyone who celebrates it. I always have fun enjoying it with Clarkson and Samii (next year we'll celebrate it with a new baby boy too). I know it can be a joyous occasion for some folks and a difficult one for others. I also know a, "Mother/Grandmother," can be someone we have a genetic relation to or someone who has fulfilled that role for us regardless of actual parentage. So yes, happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Saint Louis' Mochi Donut Factory is Yummy!

I had the chance to try the Mochi Donut Factory on a couple of occasions recently and was really impressed by how tasty it was. What is a mochi donut? Well, "The combination of tapioca flour & glutinous rice flour creates a stretchy and chewy consistency unlike any other..." Plus, the various flavors at Mochi Donut Factory from churro, to black sesame, to chocolate are all fantastic. I honestly just like getting the donuts plain even and enjoying them that way--but the various flavors are rad for sure.

If you find yourself in the Ellisville region of Saint Louis County you really should try the Mochi Donut Factory. They're located at 16023 Manchester Road and are extremely scrumptious. Plus, they just started selling bubble tea too. That is a treat as well! Check out their Facebook page for more updates and I'll see ya there!

Friday, May 12, 2023

Film Friday: The New, "Dungeons and Dragons," Movie is Great!

"Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves," is a superbly entertaining movie thanks in part to the fact it does not require the viewer to have any understanding of D&D. I know that because I have very, very little knowledge of it. I've never played D&D but have played fantasy video-games that draw from the mythology somewhat. This movie uses D&D to help create its World and there are little easter eggs for those who know everything about D&D, but it is a damn entertaining movie set in a fantastic realm that would work even if it didn't have the thematic trappings of D&D. I watched it with a friend of mine yesterday after he recommended the flick. I was quite entertained.

A lot of the credit for this movie being so entertaining goes to the cleverly-crafted script and some superb talent who absorb themselves into spectacular roles. Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, and a delightfully slimy Hugh Grant are just some of the folks who appear (not to mention one surprise cameo that had me doing a double-take). The movie is basically a heist that morphs into heroically saving the day, but the plot isn't as huge an element as some amazingly choreographed fights and one jaw-dropping scene of a Druid breaking out of a castle through multiple transformations the special effects wonderfully portray. As Alyssa Mercante of Koatku puts it in the title of her review, this movie is, "...Better Than It Has Any Right To Be." It's a really good time and you ought to check it out.

4.5 Out of 5 Stars.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Wow, "Redfall," is Really Bad

The internet has been discussing just awful, "Redfall," is. At this point, you almost feel guilty talking about the game being sucky as the developers share how they've witnessed even industry peers mocking them. That said, we need to talk about, "Redfall." It's a game about a town overtaken by vampires and it is so bad. The gameplay is bland, the enemies have horrific AI, and it is ugly. I mean, these are the kind of graphics you'd witness on an Xbox 360/PS3 and still remark, "This doesn't look good." Everything is blocky, hideous, and the fire effects made me outright laugh at how atrocious they were. 

This entire thing feels like a misfire. I honestly didn't play much of, "Redfall," so you can call my review unfair if you want to claim the game gets better hours upon hours in. That said, I feel horrible for anyone who actually spent $70 on this and I am glad I could just sample, "Redfall," with Game Pass and then quickly uninstall it once the low quality was apparent.

1 out of 5 Stars.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

I Tried Mr. Beast Burger and it was Decent

Back in February, I wrote about how I don't really, "Get," Mr. Beast. I want to understand, though, because he is massively popular and people say he's entertaining. He's had a ton of success and is at the point where he has enough money that he's bought a chunk of a neighborhood for his employees. I'd heard before he does food themed for his brand via, "Ghost kitchens," and my wife and I decided to try Mr. Beast Burger. We were moderately pleased with just one item being a huge misfire and the rest being solid.

Our food arrived from Uber Eats a smidgen ago and I was half-expecting Mr. Beast himself to deliver it and ask me, "Do you want this meal or do you want to double it and give it to someone else?" Anyways, Samii got a, "Chris style," burger but it lacked the fries and bacon that normally come upon it (the kitchen made a mistake, clearly) so it was basically the standard burger. She remarked how the mistakes aside the burger was actually quite tasty. I sampled the hot Nashville chicken sandwich and enjoyed it--not too spicy or anything. We also tried the grilled cheese and it was solid. The plain fries were so-so and the signature fries were the big disappointment of tonight. They were absurdly spicy and needed to be drowned in tons of ranch. My mouth is still burning now a good 25 minutes after I ate.

In summary, the entrees were good, with Samii liking her burger despite its mistakes, and I liked the chicken sandwich and grilled cheese. The plain fries were quite forgettable, however, and the signature fries had way too much heat to the point it was pain-inducing with minimal enjoyable flavor. Even if the fries let us down the main stuff was good. Was the food worth the Uber Eats surcharges? Perhaps if you're a huge Mr. Beast fan. The, "Name," association aside though, you don't have to rush to your phone and order this. As I said, it was good, not great.

3 out of 5 stars.

Fan Expo Saint Louis is Canceled, Possibly Forever

Fan Expo Saint Louis was most likely not happening in 2023, by all accounts. Some people said it might return, so it was unclear. However, it has been confirmed the show is 100% done here. I'd say I'm sad, but I don't want to lie. I said last year I had zero desire to return for a future Fan Expo because it wasn't fun. The whole show felt more like a thing where you paid to get in and then waited in line, paid for a celebrity to sign something, and then went on your way. When the show was Wizard World there were at least comics, toys, collectibles, and the like. Fan Expo just lacked much of any spark--and I got to go as press without paying the insane entry fees (parking was still costly though)!

I guess Fan Expo Saint Louis didn't make enough money to feel it was worth coming back. That, or lacked enough vendors willing to pay for tables (I heard the tables were costly). Perhaps it was an issue booking celebrities? I honestly do not know why Fan Expo is gone (presumably for the foreseeable future). I will say I do have fond memories of the show before the rebranding and when it was Wizard World. At least I'll always have Kato Kaelin. He was funny and kind enough to sign a comic he was featured in for me--for free no less. Fan Expo in its current incarnation, however, is dead to me...and I guess Saint Louis too.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Television Tuesday: Joel McHale is Getting in Work!

For a while, it seemed like projects Joel McHale was associated with were doomed to get canceled. He was at, "The Soup," for a good chunk of time but it ended up killed by E! and he had a good run on, "Community," but that was killed and brought back a couple times! Netflix did, "The Joel McHale," show but it sadly floundered, as did his sitcom, "The Great Indoors," and so forth for most stuff he did. He was briefly on, "Stargirl," then when he started appearing more on that show (upgraded to a series regular) it got canceled. It seemed like McHale couldn't catch a break, but lately, things are going well for him. As a fan of his work, this pleases me.

McHale is a major character on the sitcom, "Animal Control," which got solid enough ratings I'm hoping it will get a second season. He also hosted the hilariously clever, "Crime Scene Kitchen," which will be back for a new season on May 22nd. Plus, he's going to host a newly announced show on E! of all places (they really did him dirty with, "The Soup,") titled, "House of Villains." It will be a bit like, "The Traitors," and features a bunch of reality television, "Villains," getting together in the hopes one can outsmart/out-scheme the others and win a bunch of money. It sounds sufficiently trashy and I liked, "The Traitors," so I'm down for this show.

Joel McHale is a talented and funny guy so I am pleased to be seeing more of him in programs--plus that, "Community," movie is in the works too for Peacock, so that should be fun. Plus, if we more, "Animal Control," that'll help ease the sting of, "Call Me Kat," just getting canceled. That was a bummer.

Monday, May 8, 2023

This Old MadTV, "Antiques Roadshow," Parody Remains a Masterclass in Comedy

I loved, "MadTV," when it was on the air. It could be quite hit-or-miss, but when it, "Hit," the results were sheer hilarity. The show was brought back some years ago on another network but apparently was horrible. The original series was a hoot, however, and one of my favorite skits would be a three-parter from a single episode. Throughout the episode, we witness a hilarious parody of, "Antiques Roadshow," that manages to lay out how to do perfect comedy while also cleverly twisting the famous, "Rule of Three."

The Rule of Three or, "Comic Triple," basically means that a grouping or pattern can be quite hilarious. Something is funny the first time and makes you laugh even more the second time. Then the tension and anticipation for the third occurrence results in you guffawing harder than ever. The MadTV take on, "Antiques Roadshow," uses the Rule of Three while also taking advantage of audience expectations to supply an even funnier twist.

The first skit establishes the general idea. A British(?) man named Fenton Kenilworth (portrayed by Will Sasso) tells a woman who brought him a flask some shocking news--basically that an older relative was in fact an opium junkie who engaged in sex work via, "Orally servicing Chinese rail workers."  The woman (Mo Collins) is at first aghast, but upon learning how the flask is worth a chunk of change, becomes quite pleased. Observe:

The second skit features good ol' Fenton with another woman (Debra Wilson) who found a strange old dress at her Grandfather's estate. It turns out her Grandfather was a vaudeville drag performer...who also turned to, "Whoring," to support an opium habit. The result was that he--you guessed it turned to, "Orally servicing Chinese rail workers." Wilson dislikes hearing this shocking news about her Grandfather and says she doesn't even want the dress, but as you can probably predict decides to keep it after hearing it has a lot of value. Here is that skit:

This leads us to the third skit where viewers might think they can anticipate what is going to happen. Alex Bornstein has brought a candelabra for Fenton to appraise. However, things go quite differently than before in this skit. Watch it and then we can break it down:

Wasn't that quite the swerve? Bornstein knows full well she had a, "Whoring Granny, we called her, 'Granny BJ.'" Fenton seems outright perturbed he doesn't get to upset her with the news of her grandmother engaging in sex work. He tells her of its great value with little joy, but then the big twist happens--she had it cleaned/replated.

If you or anyone around you knows anything about antiques, you basically don't ever engage in restoration except in rare cases (and with an expert involved). Bornstein's character knew full well her Grandmother was orally servicing rail workers but didn't know she'd utterly destroy the value of her antique. Fenton now gets excited to tell Bornstein about this because the dude clearly is twisted and we viewers just got taken on a wild rollercoaster of anticipating the Rule of Three taking us one way but it zigging right where we expected the zag. It's ingenious and some damn fine comedic work. Yes, it is a bit raunchy and offensive, but it also is very clever. Man, I miss MadTV in its prime.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

May 2023's ToyMan Show was Fun and Full of Great Finds!

I missed the last ToyMan show in March due to my wife, son, and little ol' me being sick with sinus concerns. Thankfully, everyone is currently feeling good in our household so I was able to visit the show today. I'm glad I did as the ToyMan show is always fantastic--and this show I got some stellar comics in addition to enjoying browsing all the cool stuff for sale.

A number of folks at the show that I'm friends with saw my post on Friday announcing our upcoming baby, so a number of people congratulated me and wished Samii and me the best. One of the first of many cool folks I ran into was Jack Thomas from Fortress Comics. He had a ton of silver and bronze age comics for sale at wildly good prices in addition to other neat stuff. I also saw my chum Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. Tom from Alliance Comics, Toys, & Games had many cool books as well. I was able to cut a deal with John Chaffee from Bigfoot Comics & Collectibles which resulted in these incredibly cool Batman comics coming home with me:

Toys of Our Youth was present with plenty of goodies as were the good people behind Retro Resale. I also got to meet in-person artist Craig Poddig. I'd seen his work at my local comic shop, Altered State, but hadn't yet put a face to the name--as they say. It was lovely to see him in person and tell him how much I like his work. You can find it here at Poddig's Paintings. I had a chance to talk to my friend, Brian Lan, too and he had some movie recommendations for me. Plus, I did some dealings with Vince of VK Toys which allowed me to acquire these two snazzy Marvel comics:

In the upstairs area, my good friend Jessica Mathews chatted with me about an upcoming book she's hard at work on. Another buddy of mine, Lindsay Hornsby, had her great comics and art for sale too and we discussed how crazy-busy the week had been with many events/occasions. I next saw Debbie Manbe Kupfer, whom I met at the last ToyMan show I was able to attend in January. She had her fantastic books for sale and was a treat to speak with as before. As you can tell from this article, the latest ToyMan show was packed to the gills with tons of great stuff--but isn't it always?

Whether you want comics (like me), vintage toys, Funko Pops, Legos, hot wheels, autographs, wrestling-themed items, anime, or any other fun thing, you will likely find a vendor or creator with it at Toyman. I always bring my little cart-on-wheels with me anytime I go to the show because I end up trading for and buying so much fun stuff. I'd encourage you to plan on visiting for the next show. It takes place on July 9th. You can find all the details via the official website and as long as our baby isn't here yet I'll plan on being there too!

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Happy Free Comic Book Day 2023!

The first Saturday of May ever since 2002 (with some disruptions from COVID) has been Free Comic Book Day. Companies make special free comics and many comic-book stores give them out and have all kinds of fun sales and deals too. It is always a fun time and I'd encourage you to go get some free comics and perhaps buy something at a store too if they've got a cool graphic novel/toy/etc. to show your appreciation for this stellar occasion. Have a great time getting free comics, everyone!

Friday, May 5, 2023

Exciting News, We're Expecting a New Baby Boy!

How my wife announced the news at her work!

We've kept it a relative secret for some time just to be sure everything was okay, but Samii and I now feel comfortable with letting everyone know that we are expecting a new baby boy! Samii will be 27 weeks pregnant tomorrow and so as long as the baby stays in the metaphorical oven as long as it is supposed to, we should be having our new baby in July! Clarkson, of course, came early at 30 weeks, so anything is possible--we're trying to be as prepared as we can be. Longtime readers may recall how I posted about the loss of our second pregnancy in December 2019. After a lot of soul-searching and talking we decided we wanted to try to grow our family again so now here Samii and I are eagerly awaiting the birth of our third child overall and second child who will be able to be Earthbound with us. 

A name has not been decided on but we've maybe gotten it down to five or so possible options. My parents, other relatives, and a small chunk of friends were aware of this pregnancy but it is probably one of the biggest secrets we've kept for so long for the general public--we're excited to let everyone know now, however! I love being a Dad to our son, Clarkson, and know having a new addition to our family will be equally exhilarating and exhausting. I thank everyone who reads this blog for sending us good vibes and will let you all know when our next bundle of joy is here!

Thursday, May 4, 2023

It's Star Wars Day and Tomorrow is Cinco De Mayo

Today is May 4th or, "May the fourth be with you," as some say because it's an unofficial-ish Star Wars Day! I add that, "ish," because it started out more as a jokey pun on, "May the force be with you." Now, big corporations have gotten involved in celebrating/profiting from the holiday because if there is a dollar to be made somebody's gonna try and make it. Speaking of holidays that have grown into a big corporate money-maker, Cinco De Mayo is tomorrow too! It is a day in honor of when Mexico won a big battle against France in the 1800s and by all accounts I've read online, is actually a bigger holiday in America than Mexico because--hey, an excuse to binge drink! Even if both days are used more as an excuse to buy stuff or drink they still are fun little holidays. Watch a Star Wars flick/show today and celebrate Cinco De Mayo safely tomorrow, I say. Oh, and as a post in the near future will discuss, something big occurs on May 6th too--especially if you like free comics--but more on that later on.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

These Avengers and Spider-Man Comic/Activity Magazines From the Dollar Tree Are Actually Pretty Cool

Sometimes when you buy something from the Dollar Tree you expect it to be of decent quality but not fantastic. You may get a broom that will get the job done but is by no means top-of-the-line when it comes to sweeping. You'll purchase some Ritz crackers but there is less in the container than if you bought a more expensive pack at the grocery store. With this in mind, I didn't expect two magazine-sized comic and activity books from Dollar Tree to be so fun!

As the picture at the top shows, there is an, "Avengers," one and a, "Spider-Man," one. The Avengers story is actually written by a longtime Marvel employee who has held multiple positions, Ralph Macchio (not to be confused with the actor of the same name). It focuses on Ebony Maw causing all kinds of trouble--the Guardians of the Galaxy help stop him too--while the Spider-man magazine focuses on Spidey fighting The Vulture. Each issue has activity pages with word searches, true-or-false questions about various heroes, sections to color for fun, and more! The only odd thing was how there is a random page dedicated to facts about Venom in the, "Avengers," magazine, I think it would be better to have him in the Spidey one. That said, for $1.25 and tax that these cost I was impressed as a grown-up comic reader and would say these comic/activity magazines are a superb way to get younger folks into comics or entertain someone like me who needs a good 20 minutes to accomplish even the easiest word searches. I seriously am bad at those.

5 out of 5 stars (for both).

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

The WGA is on Strike

The Writer's Guild of America is on strike as of today. Gizmodo's Linda Codega has an article that gives an in-depth breakdown of how that might impact what you watch for entertainment, but to summarize: If you like a scripted show it's eventually gonna be in trouble. This immediately impacts nightly talk shows with monologues (Colbert, Meyers, Kimmel, Fallon--which is also the order of which I enjoy watching them the most to least) and means we don't get a new Saturday Night Live for the rest of this season. That's a bummer as Pete Davidson was set to host. Then, other scripted shows that don't have everything written will be delayed/canceled. Before you know it, movies won't be made either and tons of stuff in pre-production will wither away. 

The last strike occurred in 2007-2008 for 100 days and it was a royal mess. This strike is focused on how writers of television shows and movies want better pay, better residual in the streaming era we are now in, and protections against AI being used to quickly craft a junky script they could theoretically get paid peanuts to patch up. 98% of the WGA voted in favor of a strike when a deal could not be reached with the  Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, so everyone is fed-up and ready to either be treated better or quit working until they get proper recognition/pay/etc.

As I said, this impacts a small number of shows immediately but will delay work on a lot of stuff in the long term. The longer this goes on the more unscripted television you can expect. In other words, I hope you like junky reality television because there is going to be even more of it if the strike takes a while. I do like trashy reality shows, but I also enjoy scripted programming and I want the people who make it to receive fair compensation. Therefore, I'm not happy there is a strike, but I totally understand why there is one and support the WGA. I still really would have liked to see Pete Davidson on SNL this Saturday, to be completely honest, but again, I offer my full support.

Monday, May 1, 2023

"Baby Don't Hurt Me," Has Me Asking if David Guetta is Out of Original Song Ideas


Is David Guetta okay? Like, is he struggling to think of original song ideas? I ask because he seems eager to find past hits and make minimal tweaks to them as if that makes a new song. A bit ago did it with his awful remake of 1998's, "Blue," featuring BeBe Rexha. That song mutilated the original by changing the lyrics about sadness to, "I'm Good," and singing about having a fun time in a dance club. Now, he's not even changed the chorus with, "Baby Don't Hurt Me." That song takes the 1993 classic, "What is Love," by Haddaway, so Guetta clearly is enjoying excavating the 1990s as of late.

"Baby Don't Hurt Me," vaguely tweaks the beat, keeps the same chorus (Anne-Marie sings it) and has Coi Leray do some mediocre rapping as the verses. Coi Leray recently sampled, "The Message," by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to create the atrociously unlistenable, "Players," but I'm starting to digress from my point of Guetta seeming to be out of original song ideas--and I don't hate sampling/remixes/etc. by any means!

I like it when a piece evokes an older tune. I've written all about, "Weaponized nostalgia," and how it can be used to take something from the past and create a cool new interpretation of a song. Guetta isn't really making anything new, however. He's just recycling old songs with the slightest tweaks and whatever flash-in-pan artists are hot right now joining him. I'm not sure why this annoys me so much. Perhaps it is how Guetta is doing the bare minimum with these songs when it comes to creating anything. He isn't sampling a tune or calling it a remix, he's just wholesale taking older stuff and acting like dusting it off and slapping a coat of metaphorical paint on it makes it new. At least, I assume, Haddaway got paid decently for this travesty.