Monday, July 31, 2023

Paul Reubens Has Passed

Paul Reubens has died after a private cancer battle. He was 70 and known for various roles but arguably most famous for his character of Pee-wee Herman. When I was younger I greatly enjoyed seeing, "Pee-wee's Playhouse," on the television and watching the movies. As an adult, I still appreciated the surreal humor and outright weirdness of Reuben's creation.

Paul Reubens' career had a number of ups and downs. He achieved massive success and had some scandals in his private life too. The man was undoubtedly a creative genius; the strange stories and creations he manifested into reality were astounding to witness. It's a bummer he's gone.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

"Exoprimal," is a Weird and Fun Little Game

I've got the Xbox Game Pass so I'm able to dip my toe into games with ease. If I like something I can keep playing it and if I dislike it, I move on with nary a problem. I was intrigued when I saw promotions for, "Exoprimal," as it featured a team of human players fighting against AI dinosaurs and other human players. Then I saw mixed-to-negative reviews. Still, I tried the game out even knowing it maybe wasn't the best, and found myself pleasantly surprised by what I've played so far.

"Exoprimal," is a multiplayer game but between missions will give you little cinema scenes that flesh out a very strange plot. It is a bit of a kitchen sink of a story with time travel, alternate dimensions, self-aware robots forcing wargames for twisted amusement, mech suits, dinosaurs, and you as the silent protagonist surrounded by a zany crew with an assortment of accents. You don't have to pay any attention to the plot, but it is so utterly bonkers I found it a bit endearing. The gameplay itself allows you to wear various suits that let you do all kinds of powers from shooting to punching, shielding allies, healing friends, floating around, summoning helpful dinos, and more. It is a bit like the various characters in games such as, "Overwatch," who are all very different but manage to complement each others' skill sets. You run around, fight dinosaurs and some other players, watch a zany cinema scene, and that's how it goes.

You level up and can tweak certain things or even buy cosmetic upgrades, but the game isn't too annoying with that and thankfully lacks other stuff I'm burnt out on in many other titles (too many games have some form of, "Crafting," these days). This is mostly a straightforward affair of beating up prehistoric creatures and having laid-back fun while you do it. The graphics are perfectly fine without having a, "Wow," factor, the gameplay is simple but engaging (and you can always change your mech suit to alter your style of play if one method gets dull), and while, "Exoprimal," may not win any awards or astound players, it's some chill fun. I haven't played nearly enough to offer what I'd consider a truly detailed review, but from what I have sampled I'd say this is a pleasant 4 out of 5 stars of a game.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

The First Two Issues of the Latest, "Incredible Hulk," Run Are Quite Entertaining

Not too long ago we had one of the best runs focused on the Hulk ever. Al Ewing and Joe Bennett's "The Immortal Hulk," was superb, and whatever came after it would unfortunately face impossible expectations and quite likely fail to measure up. That led to, "Hulk," by Donny Cates and Ryan Ottley. It limped to 14 issues and was marked by Cates simply quitting and Ottley remarking how it was possibly the last time he'd do a corporate book as opposed to his own creator-owned stuff. The series started off fun, at least, but we were left wondering what could have been by the sudden end. Thankfully, with just two issues it has become clear that this latest run of, "The Incredible Hulk," is a return to that lovely horrifying vibe of, "Immortal," while also being its own thing.

Phillip Kennedy Johnson is writing with Nic Klein on art and, "The Incredible Hulk," has made it clear we're in some creepy territory. There's a super-powerful dark monster summoning all the other creatures to come help it and the Hulk might be the only thing that can stand in the way. Bruce Banner and the Hulk are back to squabbling with each other as they often do, however, so that complicates any plans to stop the World from its latest cataclysmic threat. In this issue, we meet some folks rising from the dead with one of their leaders, Sister Sadie, spreading an eerie gospel to a bunch of somewhat-cognizant zombies. It is a bit humorous and quite creepy.

The Hulk works in many fashions. He can be heroic and hang with other heroes. He can even be comedic relief at times. For my money, however, I like when he is a terrifying force of nature that invokes more fear than joy in those who witness him. The Hulk is Bruce Banner's Id when you drill everything down to its most basic. He is rage and destruction incarnate. The only saving grace to the Hulk is there are sometimes things even more alarming and spine-chilling than him. Having a comic focused on the Hulk going up against other supernatural and horrifying monsters helps make this point clear. I'm all for it and based on these first two issues I think we're in for a wild and scary ride!

5 out of 5 stars (for both issues).

Friday, July 28, 2023

Funko Friday: A Funko Pop Set Sold For 210,000 Dollars and This Hobby is Getting Kind of Crazy

Funko Pops have some products that are so mass-produced and worthless they end up shredded in an industrial machine and thrown in a landfill because that's cheaper than storing them all in a warehouse. Other Funko Pops are incredibly rare and--in the same manner of limited trading cards--valuable and sought after. Yes, I know, "Value," is relative because if/when this bubble bursts Funko products will be like Beanie Babies (although some of those still have a little monetary worth). That said, a fellow who goes by GrailMonster just took the $100,00 he spent on a limited, "Golden Ticket 2-Pack," a year or so ago and made some cash thanks to pocketing $210,000

The pack features a golden Willy Wonk and Oompa Loompa and maybe 10 or so exist in the World. Fans earned it through a giveaway and now GrailMonster has sold it to a collectible retailer named eVend. They've hinted there might be some big mystery box event where one lucky winner gets this rare Pop set. Yeah, it really is like trading and sports card with the mystery box/pack/gambling aspect, something I wrote about a bit ago. I'm not hating on the, "Value," aspect of the hobby and I still have some of my own Funko Pops I enjoy (I'll buy a new one on a rare occasion still), all my Pops are pretty worthless, however, and I just have them because I think they're fun in the same manner some of my favorite comics are dollar-bin fodder but great reads. This Funko Pop hobby is clearly getting kind of crazy and either is reaching some kind of equilibrium between the valuable and cheap stuff or that aforementioned bubble could burst soon. We shall see.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

"Baldur's Gate 3," is Looking Like it Might Be Really Fun

I enjoy video-games that don't take a ton of time, but I'll still give the ones that are jam-packed with content a chance if they look really appealing. The more I hear about, "Baldur's Gate 3," the more interested I become. The game is from the folks who made the quite enjoyable, "Divinity: Original Sin 2," among other titles, Larian Studios. It's an epic RPG full of choices, complex characters, intuitive combat, and sounds like it'll be a great time. It isn't getting a physical disc release so I won't be able to rent it and try it out--which worries me in case for some reason I dislike it--but I'm willing to give it a shot if it really is as great as the game seems to be shaping up to be. Many people have played a chunk on the computer as some of the opening hours were in early access, but the whole game finally coming out is what's got me interested.

Years ago I played a bit of the first, "Baldur's Gate." Still, this title apparently stands pretty much alone from the other games with just some fun references to previous entries instead of requiring any previous gameplay. It's getting a lot of positive buzz and releases on PC this August and the Playstation 5 in September; so, I'll be able to see how computer reviews are and then know if I want to dive into this game on my console. Between, "Baldur's Gate 3," and, "Starfield," over on the Xbox, the month of September has some heavy hitters coming out!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Television Tuesday (a Day Late on Wednesday): "Futurama," is Back Yet Again!

"Futurama," is a show that refuses to stay canceled. Fox killed it but Cartoon Network picked it up in reruns for their Adult Swim block. Then Comedy Central did some direct-to-DVD movies that were retroactively made a season of the show as new individual episodes then were produced. About a decade ago the show as canceled again and that was truly the end of the show. Until now! After a lot of negotiations regarding pay for the original voice cast is back for what is season 11 of, "Futurama," on Hulu. As the Professor would say, "Good news everyone!" because it still feels just like, "Futurama," based on at least the first episode of this new season.

It's been a decade since the last series finale (weird to think there are multiple ones) but the show humorously acknowledges the past while making it clear we're in a new present. Despite being a show about the future, "Futurama," has often included current topics and this episode works in jokes about binging shows on streaming networks, has an NFT jab, and makes a lot of meta jokes regarding the cancelation and bringing back of fan-favorite programs. Don't worry that this is all just jokes about whatever is trending, however, that classic Futurama DNA is present. We've got Bender drinking while cracking jokes as always, Zoidberg is an endearing loser, and Richard Nixon's head is still in a jar and serving as President because why not?

Bender is back and still loves to drink!

If you ever watched and liked any of the on-again-off-again seasons of, "Futurama," you'll enjoy the first episode of this latest iteration. Our own World has changed a lot since the last time there were new, "Futurama," episodes, but the show itself somehow always manages to be reliably funny and familiar even when trying new fresh ideas. Welcome back, "Futurama." Well, welcome back, again.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The 2023 Edition of, "The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide," Is Out!

I enjoy physical media. When it comes to music I'll stream stuff, but I'm also a fan of vinyl, cassette tapes, and CDs. I have a soft spot for VHS tapes and DVDs as well. I--obviously--like reading comics in their physical form too. Therefore, I always like to pick up a copy of, "The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide," when it comes out every year. Yes, the prices for newer and hot comics can fluctuate quite rapidly and therefore the book is outdated in that regard the moment it is published. That said, it is a fantastic reference for older books such as Golden Age titles that might not be spotted for sale on an online auction site or such for years at a time. 

The guide also contains cool articles, insight into the comic market by the, "Overstreet Advisors," along with reports about popular titles, and simply is fun to flip through! It won't provide up-to-the-minute data about how stuff is selling in the same manner as a site like Covrprice (which I also like using), but it is a fantastic reference and always worth checking out when it's published over the Summer. I'm pleased to have picked up my copy of the 53rd edition of, "The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide," and am having fun reading about comic-books within its many pages. It may not be the only resource for pricing comics anymore, but it still can be quite useful. Plus, as I said, it's good reading!

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Twitter is Now Going Simply by X Because Elon Musk is Clearly a Madman

I guess Elon Musk can't destroy Twitter if Twitter technically doesn't exist and is now known as, "X." Yes, you heard that right. Musk is continuing his effort to alienate everyone who enjoys the social media site and has transformed Twitter into (a letter and domain he has some nostalgia toward) by getting rid of the blue bird logo and giving us a big black X. I guess we don't even tweet anymore, we just...I dunno, "X stuff out," or something? I've written on multiple occasions about how straight-up bad of a job Musk is doing running Twitter as for every good/cool idea Musk has they're usually followed up by five bad ones. I legitimately wonder how a supposedly very smart man can be this awful at running Twitter/X (not that I'm claiming I'd be that great as the head of a company, but still). It is to the point I almost believe the conspiracy theories I've read arguing Musk is intentionally ruining Twitter as it is a way for the populace to mobilize against those in political or financial positions of power.

For now, you can still access Twitter/X by typing in either within your browser. The app logo is still a bird for me as well. The website is a bunch of X's however, so clearly the fowl's days are numbered. Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy using Threads and wonder if this will only help that app further.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Steve's Comic Cleaning and Pressing Has Done it Again!

I've written a couple of times now about how great Steve's Comic Cleaning and Pressing is if you need your comics worked upon. Whether you plan to submit a book for grading or just want it to present better, Steve does fantastic work! The latest example of his skill would be my, "Omega Men," #3 which has returned from CGC as an exemplary 9.8. You can see my picture of it above and please know I am quite happy! I was hopeful the book might get a 9.6 but did worry about some waviness in the pages and how my eye often misses little concerns that CGC might notice. Steve's work made it so that the first appearance of Lobo scored the highest grade you generally see (it is almost unheard of for a comic to get a 9.9 or 10.0 outside of a small number of cases). I just want to thank Steve for his continued amazing work and plan to keep returning to him as a customer whenever I've got a comic I want to be worked on before it goes to get graded. Check his site out and don't hesitate to message him if you need pressing or cleaning!

Saturday, July 22, 2023

"Justice League Vs. Godzilla Vs. Kong," Sounds Like My Kind of Silly Fun

I am someone who can enjoy stories that are deep, smart, complex, and otherwise complicated. Big and dramatic and serious stuff is important, there is no argument there. However, readers of this blog know that I am also a fan of stuff that is just dumb and silly fun too! With that in mind, I can appreciate that DC will be giving us a comic where the Justice League fights Godzilla and King Kong. Plus there will be special variants where you can press a button and hear a roar? Yes please, obviously! Writer Brian Buccellato, artist Christian Duce, and colorist Luis Guerrero simply just need to give me something bombastic and crazy and I'm sure I'll love all seven issues. 

As this was just officially announced details are scarce beyond how Godzilla and Kong are coming over from alternate dimensions and (one assumes) ready to angrily smash stuff. I’m interested in this without a doubt as a fan of over-the-top stuff. I look forward to the first issue in October!

Friday, July 21, 2023

Tony Bennett Has Passed

Tony Bennett has died. He was 96 and entertained us for decades with his fantastic voice, sense of humor, and immense talent. Bennett disclosed he had been battling Alzheimer's for some time in 2021. Other writers have summed up Bennett's life much better than I ever could, so I just thought I'd say what my favorite song by him happens to be. It is actually a cover, funnily enough. Bennett's version of, "Fly Me to the Moon," takes a generally upbeat and peppy tune and turns it into a beautifully reflective and yearning song. Give it a listen:

An amazing person. He will be missed.

The Newest, "Blade," Series Has Kicked-Off and is Superb

Friend of the blog, Bryan Edward Hill, has written some great material for the screen as well as comics. I was excited to hear back in March about how he and artist Elena Casagrande would doing a new, "Blade," series. The first issue has been released and it is fantastic. There is the much-needed amount of Blade fighting vampires but other supernatural threats arise as well. At first, I thought the comic was setting itself up for Blade to spend an arc or so protecting someone who is mysteriously magical from danger but that plot point is actually quickly resolved with a gruesome twist I appreciated. 

Hill's way of writing Blade has the casual and almost indifferent tone of someone who has seen a lot of crazy stuff and is borderline exhausted with all the otherworldly threats they face--but still takes them on like a badass. Casagrande's artwork is superb as well, playing with light and darkness in a way where the special UV lights on Blade's car almost make you want to squint as if they were in fact shining upon you. There is also a beautiful kineticism to the scenes of Blade fighting various threats, with a lot of slicing and dicing when Blade enters combat. It's all gorgeous stuff.

The first issue of, "Blade," excels at setting up a new threat and is friendly to new readers who might just know Blade as, "That guy who hunts vampires," or longtime fans who've been thirsting for a new series with our Daywalker hero for years now. Give this a read!

5 out of 5 Stars.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Marvel's (Supposedly) Killing Moon Knight

Look, I know how lately Marvel seems to kill a character only for them to come back in a matter of months (Kamala Khan, for example). That said, Marvel has made it clear with the 30th issue of the current, "Moon Knight," series that Marc Spector is going to die! I mean, he has died before and it didn't take, but this time I'm sure its a super-serious big deal. You can't see what my face looked like as I wrote that but I was rolling my eyes.

If we're being sincere, I am bummed the current run is ending as Jed Mackay and Alessandro Cappuccio have done a stellar job. I'd be perfectly happy if shortly after Moon Knight supposedly dies its announced he's returning to life in a relaunched series with the same creative time (that kind of happened recently with, "Daredevil," after all). I guess in a couple weeks or months we'll have an answer about what exactly is next for my favorite super-hero as I frankly doubt he'll be gone for long--I hope he's back soon for sure.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Zoe Thorogood to Write and Draw a, "Hack/Slash," Comic

I was a huge fan of Zoe Thorogood's graphic novel, "It's Lonely At the Centre of the Earth." I reviewed it for my friends over at Forces of Geek. It was among my favorite comics of 2022, so yeah, I was a fan. She's working on what sounds like a follow-up, "It's Crowded at the Centre of the Earth," and I'm sure that will be fantastic, but what really caught my attention was reading how she'll be writing and illustrating, "Hack/Slash: Back To School," at Image Comics. 

The ever-talented Tim Seely created, "Hack/Slash," years ago and it followed Cassie Hack, a, "Final Girl," of sorts whose whole thing is hunting down supernatural killer characters and putting a stop to them. The comic jumped around publishers but has been at Image for a while now. Apparently, Thorogood is a huge fan of the series and Seely loves her work too, so this collaboration is now occurring. The comic will be set earlier in Cassie's career-of-sorts and an amazing talent such as Thorogood tackling a series I really enjoy just sounds stupendous! The first issue is due in the fittingly spooky month of October and I'll be sure to get myself a copy!

Comic-Con International/San Diego Comic-Con 2023 Launches Tomorrow

Today is the, "Preview Night," but the show officially starts tomorrow for Comic-Con International AKA San Diego Comic-Con. This year is a bit different because with a massive dual-strike happening in Hollywood a lot of film and television stuff won't be there. Plenty of actual comic things will still be occurring and I imagine a chunk of interesting news will be announced by the various companies that are participating. I hope everyone who is at the show has a fun time and I'll post about anything particularly interesting/juicy that occurs.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Television Tuesday: "The Golden Bachelor," is Coming to Screens Soon

I've been honest about how at points in time I've loved watching, "The Bachelor/The Bachelorette," but have fallen off lately as the formula was getting repetitive and dull. Well, the long-in-development version featuring older folks, "The Golden Bachelor," finally has some updates and I might be tempted to check out this shift in the routine for something both at once fresh and (as I'm sure there will be many puns about) older. 71-year-old Gerry Turner is our Golden Bachelor and he's looking for love. He was married for 43 years but lost his wife in 2017 and is ready to find love again. He a legitimately good guy, which is weird as--usually--this franchise loves people who are a hot mess.

"The Golden Bachelor," will air this Fall, and one wonders if the women (assumably) being a bit older will result in more maturity and actual efforts to have a relationship with Gerry as opposed to just obsessing over, "Winning," him and then breaking-up a couple of months later (this show has a terrible relationship track record). I suppose I am curious enough to give this a chance in the Fall even if I'm mostly burnt-out on the regular franchise. Let's just hope everyone is, and say it with me now if you're a fan of the show, "There for the right reasons."

Monday, July 17, 2023

Jim Zub's Article About Avoiding Predatory Publishers Should be Required Reading

Jim Zub is a comic creator who has made some great books. He put a post up on his blog titled, "Predatory Publishing and You -- A Tragedy in the Making." It should be required reading for anyone who wants to work in comics. Zub breaks down how creators need to be careful what comic-book publishers they work with as they might be taken advantage of in various ways. Checks won't come when they are supposed to, the rights won't actually truly be as such where the creator owns them, and other terrible clauses or tricks. Zub writes about why it is important to have a lawyer look things over and lists ways to tell a publisher might be smart to avoid (they seem to come out of nowhere with unclear funding, they promise absurdly good page rates they'll never pay, and more). If you ever think you might want to work in the comic-book biz, read Jim Zub's post. It might save you a lot of headaches and heartaches.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

The First Issue of, "Seventh Sister," Is Lovely and Fantastical

I had the opportunity to read a digital advance copy of, "Seventh Sister," #1. Written by friend of the blog, Simon Birks, the artwork and colors are by Majory Yokomizo. Rob Jones does the lettering. It's being published by Fox Red Comics, which is related to a publisher I greatly enjoy, Blue Fox Comics. Having finished the debut issue I really enjoyed it!

"Seventh Sister," focuses on a woman named Soraya who lives in a magical realm with her six other sisters. Her parents choose to sacrifice their least-liked daughter (Soraya) instead of themselves to a black hole so that everyone else can live for another thousand years. Soraya doesn't appreciate this and ends up fleeing to Earth--Scotland specifically. This first issue lays out the general plot, introduces a human who enjoys hunting ghosts (which Soraya is rumored to be by locals) named Jane, and makes it clear that Sorya is still in immense danger from the black hole and a chunk of her family.

Yokomizo's artwork is lush and beautiful. Her illustrations make each page a treat for a reader's eyes. You don't read, "Seventh Sister," so much as your optical nerves swim in the gorgeous artwork. Birks' writing is stellar too as usual, whether portraying the magical realms or when things are situated squarely upon Earth. I had a blast with the first issue of, "Seventh Sister," and you can read seven sample pages at this link to see why I dug it so much. I would encourage everyone to back its upcoming Kickstarter campaign--you can click this link to be notified of its launch!

5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Now Almost ALL of Hollywood is on Strike

At the start of May, the Writer's Guild of America went on strike. This meant a whole lot of television shows/streaming shows and movies that were being written had the, "Pencils down," and stopped production. Stuff that was already written out could still be filmed as actors weren't on strike, however. That just changed too because the Screen Actors Guild--American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (which represents essentially all actors/actresses) had their union talks break down with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (studio execs and such). The writers and acting talent are now on strike, together. At this point, Hollywood is basically shut down as unless you're doing a reality television show you're screwed. I expect unless this all resolves quickly we're going to suddenly see a lot of foreign shows getting picked up along with a lot more reality programming, talent shows, and so forth. This is going to be messy.

Friday, July 14, 2023

"Widow Unleashed," Has a Kickstarter Campaign for Issues 3 and 4

In March of this year, I discussed how friend of the blog, Mike Wolfer, was running a Kickstarter remastering his, "Widow," comics. The first two issues were funded and fulfilled (I loved when mine arrived in the mail) so now he has recently launched a campaign for, "Widow: Unleashed," #3 and #4! If you missed the first campaign you can still grab those issues as a bonus add-on and get the latest colorized, retooled, and otherwise awesome issues of Widow! It's already fully funded as all us fans jumped really quickly at the opportunity to get some more Widow!

I love the mix of horror and sexiness within Widow comics and, "Widow Unleashed," has delivered that wonderfully thanks to Wolfer and his letterer, Natalie Jane. I can't wait to see the success of this Kickstarter and get even more great issues added to my collection! You can find the campaign here and support it too--I'd recommend doing so!

Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel is Already Coming Back as a Mutant

Marvel revealed back in Mid-May that none other than Kamala Kahn, Ms. Marvel, was going to be killed. She died in a random issue of, "Amazing Spider-Man," and the comic where everyone mourns her literally just came out. I would've predicted we were going to hear news of her coming back before the year was over, but the fictional body wasn't even cold before Marvel revealed, "Ms. Marvel: The New Mutant." Pretty much everyone--myself included in the article discussing her death--was thinking she'd somehow be revealed to be a mutant as the Disney+ show hinted at that instead of using her Inhuman origin from the comics (the less we talk about the Inhumans show, the better).

I'm perfectly happy to have Kamala back as a mutant, but I am annoyed by how big a deal Marvel made out of her death and acted like it was shocking and gonna last somehow when she was dead about as long as it takes me to run to Target for some groceries and back home--without even stopping at the gas station for some lottery tickets. Killing Kamala was already a bad look, bringing her back so fast cheapens the death, and this whole roundabout exercise to say, "She's a mutant," just felt messy. At least the creative team is interesting with the comic being co-written by Sabir Pirzada (a creator on the, "Ms. Marvel," show Disney+ had) and Iman Vellani, the actress who actually plays Kamala. Carlos Gomez and Adam Gorham shall be the artists with Sara Pichelli on covers. Oh, and Jamie McKevlie has done a new costume for her (he did that years ago too). Give it a look:

Clearly, there are a lot of folks who will work hard on this comic. I imagine it will be a fun read too, I just have such a sour taste in my mouth regarding how we got to this point and it reduces my excitement a bit. Hopefully the comic will be so great it makes up for all the annoyances that occurred before its launch. Kamala Khan with the X-Men does at least sound pretty entertaining.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Black Panther is Getting a Video-Game

I was excited to read the news that a new game studio owned by EA, Cliffhanger Games, is working on a superhero game featuring Black Panther! Not much is known--the game doesn't even have an official title yet, but the studio is led by Kevin Stephens who used to be the head of Monolith Productions; that is the studio that created the, "Lord of the Rings," games with the Nemesis system, "Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor," and, "Shadow of War." A big ol' game that lets you explore Wakanda and such sounds cool and I look forward to learning more as an actual title/gameplay information/release date is revealed.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Welcome our New Baby, Gibson!

Very early this morning my wife gave birth to our newest baby boy, Gibson! It was a somewhat-scheduled induction (we started a couple days earlier than expected) and after 36 weeks of growing in Samii, he's here! We are excited to take him home before too long and Clarkson will (hopefully) be excited to be in charge of big brother duties--like hugs and kisses! We thank everyone for their support and kind words throughout our pregnancy and can't believe Gibson is now chilling with us outside of the womb. Wild times!

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Television Tuesday: That, "Twisted Metal," Show Looks Legit Fun

Peacock has been having some quality programming this year. I loved, "Paul T. Goldman," and, "Based on a True Story." Now in July, we've got the new season of, "Love Island," about to start, and later in the month the debut of, "Twisted Metal." A video-game tie-in to a series that basically had no plot and just featured cars with guns blowing up, the show looks legit fun. For such a random program it has a really good cast (Anthony Mackie, Neve Cambell, Thomas Haden Church, and more) and the newest trailer makes it seem incredibly wacky. I'm here for it and plan to tune in.

Monday, July 10, 2023

It's Sad to See Retro Games Basically Vanishing From Existence

A new article by Levi Winslow on Kotaku discusses how a shocking 87% of retro/classic games are essentially vanishing due to a lack of preservation, availability, and so forth. People essentially have to turn to piracy or have a bunch of expensive old gear to have the ability to play old games. Even things that can be played could disappear easily if the online storefront folds. It makes me think of how streaming releases also are suddenly vanishing and how now disc, "Sales," are booming regarding bootlegs of shows and movies as viewing something illegally can sometimes be the only way to see it. 

We need to make sure we preserve shows, movies, games, and so forth. The Library of Congress is great for publications, and you have websites like for lots of stuff online, but one worries about some stuff simply just being gone and only existing as a memory in the future. It would be awful.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Today's ToyMan Show Was an Incredibly Good Time!

I was able to be at the ToyMan show today for a smidgen in the morning and had a ball! I saw plenty of friends, found some cool stuff, and otherwise was impressed as always with the wide variety of good stuff for sale. 

I started the show by chatting with my good chum, Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. I then talked with Tom from Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games about how he'd been doing. Kristen and Andy of Grapes Games were at the show with lots of neat stuff for sale as well! Vince of VK Toys had a ton of awesome comics and we did a big trade, I was pleased to see him. I had fun talking with Tim Metzger too, he's a cool guy with great stuff! Also, I ran into my friend Jack Thomas of Fortress Comics and acquired this awesome, "Daredevil," slabbed comic from him featuring the first cover appearance of Maya Lopez AKA Echo: 

In the upstairs area, I first ran into Jessica Mathews and we chatted about how her latest books were coming along. I also saw Lindsay Hornsby and admired a lot of cool buttons she's been making and selling now! Debbie Manbe Kupfer and her son Joey Kupfer were at the show and I bought a children's book of logic puzzles they collaborated on titled, "Paws4Thought." I'm bad at physical puzzles but enjoy using logic, so I thought it would be fun to grab. Here's a picture:

When I saw all my friends at today's ToyMan show I let them know I'd probably be missing the next one in late August as we're going to be busy very soon with our upcoming baby. Today's show was full of great finds and cool folks for sure. If you can visit the next ToyMan on August 27th I'd recommend you do so as clearly I had a stupendous time!

Friday, July 7, 2023

Bad Idea Actually Has a Good Point (For Once) About Digital Comics

Bad Idea is a comic book publisher I mostly quit caring about a while ago. They got so focused on doing strange publicity stunts it managed to drastically overshadow the fact they were putting out some cool comics. Pretending they were going out of business, switching to selling doughnuts, or other nonsense just got old. I and many other folks simply quit caring. Bad Idea has announced a new Kickstarter campaign for their digital edition of, "The Ends," as a, "Pro Edition," and in the press release for it do something I really didn't expect...they make a good point.

As Bleeding Cool discusses with their reproduction of the press document, Bad Idea points out that Amazon ruined digital comics. Many folks recall there was Comixology, Amazon bought it, and then utterly destroyed it. Bad Idea doesn't even delve into all that so much as discussing how digital comics are a pain to read and lack any kind of cool bonus features we were promised might happen much in the same way cool stuff has been done with streaming shows/movies. "We gave up quality for convenience," with a bunch of comics thrown online in a haphazard fashion, Bad Idea points out.

Now, Bad Idea isn't just hating on Amazon and digital comics without a reason. As I said, they're launching a Kickstarter campaign for a deluxe digital version of, 'The Ends: Pro Edition," by David Lapham and Maria Lapham. One would assume this special digital comic will contain things Bad Idea states in their press release comics you read on a device should have, "...access to the artist's original page layouts. The pencils and inks. The writer's original scripts. The editor's notes. Trivia. Easter eggs. Millions of new colors only digital can display. The ability to zoom in on the tiniest details. Deleted scenes. Alternate endings. Additional story. And so, so, so many brand-new digitally native features." Bad Idea has surprised me by making a good point, will they follow through showing what digital comics could be and really shock me by having a good idea for once? I suppose we'll have a better idea once the Kickstarter campaign launches. I'll be watching as Bad Idea has caught my attention again, so hats off for that, at least.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Meta's New, "Threads," Has Launched and Shows Potential


Ol' Mark Zuckerberg of Meta has done something new. He's got Facebook and Instagram along with other projects and now Meta's development team has released Threads. Threads is basically Meta's way to compete with Twitter. It has potential and is relatively easy to use. A number of features are missing in comparison to Twitter, but that is being worked on. Threads has been rapidly downloaded by those curious about it as well as people who are fed up with Twitter and how Elon Musk--its current owner--seems desperate to run it into the ground. If you already have Instagram it is really easy to import some stuff over into Threads. I feel like it has potential but clearly is in its earlier stages.

One nice bonus of Threads is that it is making Elon Musk really angry. He is threatening to sue Meta for all kinds of things ranging from poaching Twitter staff to somehow stealing, "Trade secrets," as if other sites haven't done a knock-off of Twitter before. Plenty of folks have sites like Twitter that want to be better, threads just has the money and public interest to possibly actually succeed at it--sorry Mastodon, Bluesky (although it is getting buzz), and etc. I don't know if Threads will replace Twitter, but it seems to be the biggest contender for the metaphorical crown in quite some time. We shall see and in the meantime, I'll enjoy how when I use it Elon Musk won't be there. Should you want to find me on Threads, I'm thenewestrant there as well as basically all other social media.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

"Notion," is a Lovely Notetaking Website and App

Readers may recall how last week I discussed that a certain notetaking website/app was going to start charging me double. I stated how I would not stand for such a thing and had been testing other options. Well, I'm pleased to report I've fallen in love with Notion. It is a clean and crisp notetaking app that is quite intuitive and has many easy-to-use features. I mainly jot down thoughts and to-do lists so I don't need a lot of the cool extra stuff, but it is nice to have. Plus, the things I use Notion for make it free! There are paid levels and they are quite inexpensive, but I don't need them yet. I've basically switched totally over to Notion after it made it easy to import my Evernote files and I've canceled my Evernote renewal.

I was surprised when how after I confirmed 3 or so times I wanted to cancel Evernote it offered me a discount so that my price would only go up only a little (under 10 bucks). I'd already transferred everything into Notion at that point and really dig how Notion works so I declined the offer. I figured even if I got that offer this year I would just have to quit Evernote next time I'm due to renew--when I doubt such an offer would occur again. You can learn more about Notion on its website and utilize it on your devices should it appeal to you!

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Television Tuesday: "Based on a True Story," Humorously Examines the True-Crime Genre

"Based on a True Story," has all eight episodes streaming on Peacock of the first season. Featuring Kaley Cuoco and Chris Messina as a married couple with Tom Bateman as the friendly plumber they figure out isn't who he seems, the show starts quite dramatically, slows down a bit, but when it features everyone going to a crime-themed convention in Vegas mid-series it really picks back up and gets quite crazy until ending on some big cliffhangers. If I may spoil a chunk of the first episode, Cuoco manages to figure out that Bateman's character is a well-known serial killer and instead of turning him she and Messina decide to basically blackmail him into doing a podcast where he discusses who he is and why he kills.

"Based on a True Story," manages to be critical of the true crime genre and all the popular podcasts without outright trying to make fans of the stuff feel guilty. It points out there is a whole industry making money off violent deaths in the name of, "Helping the victims," but while the victims are being spotlit a lot of money is being made. It's also a damn funny show with Bateman stealing scenes as a serial killer who also manages to be creepily easy to like--when he's not stabbing people. Cuco and Messina's excuse for doing a podcast with Bateman's character is they can make him stop killing and get out of a bunch of financial trouble they're in, but the show doesn't hesitate to point out they're being pretty despicable themselves. That said, is a podcast talking with a serial killer while they're still on the loose really that inexcusable in an industry full of gory details where once the killer is caught fans eagerly read about/listen to the bloodshed?

Thanks to a strong cast and a clever plot, "Based on a True Story," is quite twisted fun. It dives into the true crime genre with a critical eye and makes some good points while also making viewers laugh--when they aren't cringing from the body count. I really hope a second season happens and would encourage anyone with Peacock to check this show out.

5 out of 5 stars.

Be Aware, This July 4th

Stay safe this July 4th! If you are grilling, be sure everything is cooked through. Should you set off fireworks, practice caution. If you're drinking a bunch, don't drive. Should you be a reasonable and caring human being look out for the six members of the Supreme Court who seem eager to disassemble social progress in our Nation via gutting Affirmative Action, making it legal to discriminate against LGBTQ+ folks, and so forth. Last year I wrote about how Independence Day felt a lot less like a celebratory occasion due to Conservatives (such as those on the Supreme Court) wanting to move our Country backward. I still am hopeful for the future of America and believe it can live up to its ideals of being a nation, "With liberty and justice for all." Things just seem extra troubling lately. So yes, be aware of the dangers you might face on July 4th and the rest of the year in our Nation if we don't fight against ignorance, hatred, and the regressive policies that boost them.

Monday, July 3, 2023

July 2023 News and Links Roundup

Do We Work Today, Do We Take it Off?

It's July 3rd and a Monday. So many people have taken today off with the National Holiday known as July 4th falling on a Tuesday this year. It's made things a bit messy when it comes to figuring out what stores are open or closed. Plus, we didn't have mail yesterday but should get some today, and then none tomorrow, with it back Wednesday. Don't worry about me taking today off, though, I'm here with some assorted news I found interesting and thought I'd link to.

News and Links to Kick Off July
A massive rollercoaster was shut down when a park attendee named Jeremy Wagner noticed a huge crack had appeared upon it. Known as the Fury 325 one wonders how bad things could have been considering it was a support pillar. Upsettingly enough, when Wagner first alerted the park they seemed less than concerned about this massive issue. Once the fire department and media were alerted more action was taken. Scary stuff.

It's a bit baffling when a game that is barely a decade old gets a remake, but rumor has it Ubisoft is planning to give us a next-generation and remastered, "Assassin's Creed IV." That was the AC game that heavily incorporated sailing pirate ships and inspired the still heavily-delayed, "Skull and Bones," game. Apparently, the tech being used for that money sink might go towards this remake, salvaging some funds.

HBO used to be a big deal. Now, owner Warner Brother Discovery insists HBO's streaming service HBO MAX instead go by MAX and farm a lot of its biggest shows out to other streaming networks--that's if they aren't outright taking shows/movies off the internet (making them hard-to-impossible to watch legally). David Zaslav was brought in to save Warner Brothers Discovery but he seems more interested in breaking it down piece by piece for any scraps of change he can scoop up. That, or I'm just still bitter about what happened to "Batgirl."
A big-but-short event is launching from DC for a couple months called, "Knight Terrors." It is a four-issue series focusing on the DC Universe fighting a villain named Insomnia (they use dreams and nightmares to fight everybody, it seems). There are a slew of tie-in comics that are replacing the usual DC output for two months and while it is a clever idea this doesn't sound like anything I'm in a rush to go buy a ton of tie-ins for. That said, the two-issue one for the Joker actually sounds kind of genius. He--basically accidentally--kills Batman and with that done goes and gets a regular office job now that his life lacks purpose. The Joker's worst nightmare is essentially Batman dying and his life being boring. That's pretty fun. I might check out the first issue this week as it just seems quite clever.

I was bummed to hear about the passing of Alan Arkin. He was 89 and known for a ton of roles, but my absolute favorite has to be, "Little Miss Sunshine," where he plays an incredibly ornery but kind-hearted Grandfather. He will be missed. 

To conclude, I'm definitely getting old because I'd never heard of Colleen Ballinger or her, "Miranda Sings," character that younger folks apparently love. That is, until a big scandal broke involving her having toxic relationships with fans. She handled this scandal by singing a half-apology half-denial song on the ukulele. What even is reality, anymore?

Get Ready for the 4th!
Tomorrow will be July 4th so if you live in the United States get ready for a whole lot of fireworks, grilling, and--for some folks--drinking. Make sure to stay safe out there!

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Ketchup Goes in the Fridge

In a manner a bit like the ongoing debate regarding if shoes should be left on or taken off in the house, people are arguing about ketchup. That is, whether ketchup should be stored in the refrigerator or not. Most brands of ketchup are completely shelf-stable so they don't have to be in the fridge, but I and a number of other people I know prefer it in there. I don't want crusty table ketchup if I can avoid it. I'll take some smooth and tasty stuff from the fridge. Whether you agree with me or think I'm way out of line, I'm going to store my ketchup in the fridge.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

"Magic: The Gathering," Manufactured Scarcity, "The Lord of the Rings," and Comics

"Magic: The Gathering," is an immensely popular card game. I have friends who tried to get me to play it but I always would state how I had so many other hobbies that took up my money adding another one just seemed silly. Because, boy, do some cards in, "Magic," take a lot of money! People will buy packs and randomly, "Pull," good cards, but plenty of players and collectors will shell out big bucks for rare and powerful cards. Now, there was a partnership between, "Magic," and the Tolkien estate for a, "Lord of the Rings,"-themed expansion. True to the literature, there was a card for, "The One Ring," and I do mean a single card was produced. News of this extremely limited card resulted in players and stores offering million-dollar or more bounties for whoever pulled the card. It's been announced someone found it.

A person who has wished to remain anonymous pulled the card and get it graded right away with PSA. It scored an impressive 9 out of 10 and this individual now can either take up one of those offers online or I wouldn't be surprised if this goes to auction and pulls in some significant cash. "One Ring to Rule Them All," indeed. Between the kind of sports cards on that Goldin show I watched and these, "Magic," cards clearly this can be a pricey hobby. I can't judge because if I had a ton of money lying around I'd probably buy some fancy comics, but the manufactured scarcity of trading cards is always interesting to witness, a bit like ratio variants of comic books or Bad Idea and their limited comic releases. I prefer being able to buy and read a comic without hoops to jump through and that's one reason my interest in Bad Idea diminished some time ago; it is also why I don't mess with ratio covers much unless I find a cool one for cheap. This is a model that works with trading cards, I suppose, but hopefully not with comics outside of some fancy variant covers and silly companies such as Bad Idea. Time will tell.