Saturday, September 30, 2023

Time for My Favorite Meme About September

As September draws to a close today I think of my favorite song regarding this month. To be specific, a cover of the song done on the saxophone seemingly played by a seal. Yes, it is about time to, “Wake up,” because September is ending. Observe:

It’s a lovely take on a Green Day classic. See you all in October in less than a day!

"Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham," #1 is a Treat of a Debut Issue

Rafael Grampá is one of the best artists around and when he makes a comic book it is bound to be a feast for the eyes. His latest series is for DC's Black Label and titled, "Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham." It features Batman trying to psychologically, "Kill," his Bruce Wayne persona whilst also figuring out a string of serial killings and fighting a new villain who seems to be unrelated to the serial killer but is also committing all kinds of violent crimes whilst engaging in an obsession with a decades-old cartoon. There's a lot of plot going on, and it is an interesting story for sure! That said, the thing that makes this comic really sing isn't just Grampá's plotting, but his art.

Whether Grampá is drawing an imposingly eerie Batman, an impressive new Batmobile, creepy baddies, or just a busy city street, the visuals are something you want to just enmesh yourself in. You can practically smell the dingy street, your eyes almost water seeing the chemicals in a drug lab, and every blow Batman delivers to the criminals he fights carries a heft through the illustrations you'd almost think you got socked in the jaw. Grampá is an absolute beast here with an intriguing story and incredible art. It's just fantastic stuff.

The first issue of "Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham," is stupendous. I'd highly recommend folks check it out and explore other works by Rafael Grampá as this is just another example of how stellar his work is. I unquestionably rate this comic 5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Today was National Coffee Day

Today was National Coffee Day. I learned this from the news and I celebrated by doing what I always do: I drank some coffee. I had some coffee in the morning with breakfast, I had a bit in the afternoon, and I just finished drinking a bit this evening. I am a fan of coffee, as you all know, so I appreciate having a day here in America celebrating the beverage. I will drink fancy brew at a coffee shop or cheap gas station sludge because I'm not picky. I basically like any plain black coffee besides Maxwell House--that stuff is just nasty. Happy National Coffee Day to all of you who are lovers of coffee. It is good stuff. Now we await the International Coffee Day on October 3rd!

Thursday, September 28, 2023

"Starfield," Impressions: It's Okay

I really wanted to love, "Starfield." Instead I just generally like it. The company behind the game, Bethesda, makes good stuff, from Elder Scrolls titles to Fallout titles, and so forth. "Starfield," is their first new IP in 25 or so years and it sounded cool. Spaceships, quests, and more! I was hopeful even if I felt like I'd had diminishing returns with Bethesda lately. I adored, "Fallout 3," and greatly enjoyed, "Skyrim," then had a lot of fun with, "Fallout 4," even if I liked 3 a bit more. Now we've got, "Starfield," and it is more of the same with some new spaceship stuff. I wanted to relish the NASA-punk aesthetic of grimy ships, going to planets, exploring the universe, and such. Instead, I got a little of Fallout and a little of Skyrim with some, "No Man's Sky," thrown in too (a different studio, but there is a bit of a vibe). 

While I was playing, "Starfield," my wife saw it and said, "Haven't you played this before?" She didn't mean it in a joking manner, she just literally couldn't tell, "Starfield," apart very much from the other Bethesda titles she'd witnessed me playing at points over the years and knows I sometimes revisit old games now and then for some fun. It got me thinking, however, I have played this before. Even with the excuse that, "Starfield," starts a bit slow and then the main quest has some fun twists-and-turns, it is all pretty familiar. 

I'm not imbued with dragon magic, but instead some kind of space magic. I can join any faction and do all the quests before moving on to the next faction and doing all their quests with zero impact on the World at large beyond those siloed quest concepts (to the credit of, "Fallout 4," the main quests incorporated the factions/groups a lot and being tight with one could make another hate you). I can stumble on a random bandit den on a planet instead of in a cave--and this time certain things are procedurally generated on some planets so I can see the almost exactly same group of baddies in a single play session with just a planetary atmosphere making the difference. All of these complaints/observations aside, I have had fun and little magical moments do happen.

The moments of little whimsy make me have a fondness for Bethesda games. When I'm floating around above a planet and see other ships zipping around I can interact with to chat, trade, or threaten, it is a fleeting moment where, "Starfield," feels special and not just like another Bethesda game. Little jokes written/typed on in-game notepads can give me a chuckle and impart some personality in an otherwise oddly sterile and drab Universe. I like, "Starfield," I just wish it had lived up to my expectations of being an epic space jaunt that utterly wowed me a bunch instead of being another Bethesda game that does the usual Bethesda stuff with a touch of extra spaceship action. I've witnessed, "Starfield," being called, "Skyrim in space," or, "Fallout in space," and don't agree fully with that phrasing. It's, "A Bethesda game in space," and that statement summarizes it to a T, for better or worse. I haven't played a ton of, "Starfield," and I do plan to play more--I do! That said, I now have realistic expectations for the rest of the game as I continue my journey among the stars.

3 out of 5 Stars.

Mad Cave Comics to Publish New, "Dick Tracy," Comics

One of the older comic characters around would be Dick Tracy. He's been around 90 or so years and now, Mad Cave Studios has cut a deal with the brand's owner, Tribune Content Agency, to publish new comics featuring the detective. Alex Segura and Michael Moeci will be writing new tales and Geraldo Borges shall be on art duties with creative consultation being supplied by Chantelle Aimée Osman. The first issue is due around March of 2024 and I'm happy for Mad Cave Studios as they've continuously put out some cool stuff over the years as a smaller-but-great publisher. I wish everyone involved success with this latest take on the famous investigator.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

"Predator Versus Wolverine," #1 is a Fun Start to a Wacky Story

Disney and by proxy, Marvel, acquired the licenses to both the, "Alien," and, "Predator," franchises. This resulted in some fun variant covers featuring heroes fighting those characters and comics separate from the Marvel Universe. However, the first official crossover has dropped where a Predator and Wolverine have a fight spanning over a century. Fittingly titled, "Predator Versus Wolverine," I believe this is in the regular Marvel continuity. Now the Predator exists in the 616 Universe so that's fun. This debut issue opens in the present day before spending a good chunk of time in 1900 or so and then jumping to when Wolverine was part of a mysterious assassin squad with other mutants such as Sabretooth and closing on a cliffhanger. I enjoyed the issue as it was fun to watch Wolverine and a Predator fighting in a brutal manner. Writer Benjamin Percy writes a good yarn, after all.

My one issue would be how the segment in the long-ago past is illustrated by Greg Land. That is a huge bummer as out of all the comic artists working today he's one of those few artists whose work I actively avoid--I have not read a comic when I know he's doing the art. That said, he isn't the artist for the entire issue so I managed to muddle through his segment. It was fun witnessing Wolverine and a Predator quarreling throughout the comic and Greg Land's art aside I enjoyed the issue. I look forward to seeing more of Logan and the space creature going at it as the series continues!

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Usher to Perform at Super Bowl LVIII/58

I've been a fan of Usher for years. I knew his earlier work but really got into his music with his 2001 LP, "8701." That album had some stellar songs such as, "U Remind Me," "U Don't Have to Call," and, "U Got it Bad." He did a lot of playing around with letters as words back then, obviously. Since 2001 Usher has obviously had a lot of other great tunes, of course, from, "Yeah!" with Ludacris and Lil' Jon to a number of songs he had on his own records or guested on other folk's LPs. Therefore, it was pleasing to hear Usher will be performing at the 58th Super Bowl on February 11th, 2024. 

I loved the halftime show in 2022 (Super Bowl LVI) where a bunch of fantastic artists performed. Then Rhianna was there last year and it was...well, she was there. I'm pumped for Usher to perform and imagine he will do a fun variety of his popular tunes. I wonder if he'll have some guests come out and join him as that would be cool too (it is practically mandatory that we get the aforementioned Ludacris and Lil' Jon making an appearance). There will be a football game too, but it is far too early in the season to guess who might be playing. I mean, obviously not the Jets, but that's a given.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

This September Had a Stellar ToyMan Show!

I try to attend any ToyMan show that I can because there is always so much awesome stuff to see and buy! Today's show was no exception, as it was loaded to the gills with awesome vendors, wonderful creators/crafters selling their wares, and was incredibly fun to attend. When I first walked in I saw my good friend Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. He was chatting with another chum of mine, Tom of Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games. I proceeded on to see John Chaffee and we talked about how things had been going at Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles. I checked out all the cool toys and comic slabs Vince from VK Toys had and discussed how he'd been busy at various shows and auctions. Over at the Tatertot Comics booth, I was able to do some trading and acquired an awesome comic in a swell deal! I now own a copy of, "World's Finest," #153, which is famous for the meme it inspired of Batman slapping Robin. Give it a look:

I went upstairs where I saw a number of great folks. I was able to catch up with Jessica Mathews about her latest books and how buy life had been! I was overjoyed to see Debbie Manbe Kupfer too and talk about how her projects had been going. The delightful Lindsay Hornsby was present at the show as well and it was great to see her! The Heroes for Kids booth was raising funds as always and continues to be an organization worth supporting. Finally, I met author Kathy L. Brown and bought a copy of her book, "The Big Cinch," which she described as a noir mystery mixed with supernatural elements such as ghosts. I thought that sounded really neat! We also talked about how we both enjoy blogging online--you can check her site out at this link. Here is a picture of the book:

 Today's ToyMan Show continued to illustrate why I always look forward to attending the event: There is tons of awesome stuff to browse--a big selling point. Plus, there are many wonderful authors/artists/etc. to chat with and buy the works of to support. ToyMan is always a feast for the eyes to witness all the comics, toys, games, books, and so forth in booths. I always am astounded by all the wares for sale. The next ToyMan isn't until November 5th, so there is plenty of time to mark your calendars and start planning a fun time!

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Edwardsville Illinois Has Some Cool Stuff!

We recently went to Edwardsville Illinois for a mini-trip, which was really fun! We saw some family who were in the area too and it worked to meet up in Edwardsville. For our lodgings, we tried Airbnb and it worked out really well! We found a really cool barn loft a bit outside Edwardsville that happened to be above a recording studio called Outsider Audio. It was a lovely space and we enjoyed staying there. While out and about in Edwardsville we stopped at Otherside Games. I called and found out they also did comics so I stopped by there. An employee named Alex helped me over to the comic back issues and I enjoyed digging within them.

Sacred Grounds
Near Otherside Games was a cool coffee shop called Sacred Grounds. It had some delicious baked goods and coffee. We also stopped by the We Rock the Spectrum of Edwardsville to check it out having also loved the one near our house in Fenton. 

After Clarkson played a bunch at the kids' gym we went to a nearby restaurant named Chappy's. It had been recommended to us so we stopped there for dinner. Chappy's was really tasty and I loved the chicken sandwich I had. We got back to Saint Louis earlier today and quite loved our mini-trip to Edwardsville. If you ever get out that way make sure to visit some of the places I mentioned!

Thursday, September 21, 2023

NFTs are Good For One Thing--They Taught Me What a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Balloon Costs

NFTs have always been a terrible idea as they take one awful concept--cryptocurrency--and elaborate on it in even worse ways. NFTs were at one point seemingly, "Worth," money but a large number have been cratering and plenty have a value of maybe zero dollars now, according to new research. It's not all horrific news, however! There is going to be an NFT themed for a, "Cool Cat," this Thanksgiving, so yah?

"Cool Cats," are supposedly popular with the poor suckers who buy into NFTs and people could vote via a Macy's sponsored blockchain or some nonsense on the best one to have a balloon. It won and Comicsbeat's Heidi MacDonald wrote about how these balloons can cost $120,000-$300,00 and that's before the costs like costumes, helium, and manpower. Apparently, the amount of helium used for these massive balloons can cost $500,00 so to have a balloon in the Macy's Day parade will easily run you $750,00 to a million bucks. I didn't realize a balloon could cost so much and have NFTs to at least thank for learning something new. Plus, a Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloon is an actual tangible object, unlike an NFT. I suppose the looks of confusion on everyone's face when this balloon goes by will be worth every penny?

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Almost Three Years and an Expansion Pack Later is, "Cyberpunk 2077," Forgiven?

I knew it was a mess when, "Cyberpunk 2077," first was released, but damn it I loved it. It was my favorite video-game of 2020, with numerous flaws and all. Since that initial release, a lot of updates have been done with a massive variety of tweaks made in the latest free update that everyone can enjoy--it also aligns with a major paid expansion, "Phantom Liberty," as well. With this Update 2.0 folks are basically judging everything as one package, and they are pleased. Nearly three years since it first hit shelves, is "Cyberpunk 2077," finally meeting expectations?

This has happened before. "No Man's Sky," infamously was a bit broken at launch but a number of years later seems to (mostly) be the game everyone wanted it to be. That said, the disastrous launch of, "Cyberpunk 2077," basically has served as a blueprint to other companies that they might be better off delaying games than rushing them to the market only to spur outrage from consumers. "Cyberpunk 2077," has grown despite all that anger it once faced, and now might be considered truly, "Done," with no other expansions or such on the way. 20 new hours of content is arguably a game in itself, and Idris Elba has joined the fun as a mysterious character as well so don't worry that this new expansion lacks for star power after Keanu Reeves made a big splash in the main game as Johnny Silverhands.

I can't say if, "Cyberpunk 2077," deserves an overall re-review, or if the, "Phantom Liberty," expansion should simply be judged on its own. I also don't know if all the fixes make, "Cyberpunk 2077," retroactively as good as it should've been or if we should only now consider it a truly complete game (thanks to all the updates even if you don't pony up for extra content). The only thing I can say for sure is that hearing, "Cyberpunk 2077," is polished and less broken does make me want to revisit it for the first time in a while, whether I pay for the expansion right away or not. If an update to a game can be good enough I return years later, that says something, I'd argue.

A Few Comic Publishing News Tidbits From The Week

I have three interesting stories regarding comics and publishing. I don't think they are weighty enough to be their own articles, but a combination post touching on all three sounds like a scrumptious idea--if you could metaphorically eat my content. Anyways, let's touch on some news...

Let's start with some fun news. A new publisher is entering the scene! Goats Flying Press plans to create, "Comics against all odds," and has a very realistic outlook on publishing stuff as opposed to some new publishers who burst onto the scene with unsustainable grand plans and then tragically fold a short time later. GFP will be solely publishing creator-owned comics, has a lineup prepped that they will run Kickstarter campaigns for to assist with costs, and the company is headed by a 15+ year veteran of comics, Sebastian Girner. I look forward to learning more about this new venture!

In an update that is a bummer but somewhat expected, IDW (specifically their comic publishing division) continues to have financial troubles. I've blogged about my concerns regarding IDW extensively, and things only are getting worse. The company posted a fiscal loss of $1.28 million at the end of their third quarter this year and it is part of a continuing trend of hemorrhaging money. The fact that IDW lost a lot of big licenses lately (Skybound picked up Transformers and G.I. Joe, for example) obviously doesn't help an already shaky ship stay afloat. Now we just await the next alarming update.

Closing on something good (we made a bit of a happy-sad-happy sandwich) Rick Remender is a talented comic-book writer who has done a lot of work for a number of publishers, but now he has signed a three-year exclusivity deal with Image Comics. It seems he'll have carte-blanche to make any comic he wants and Image will be happy to publish it (when you've been around long enough and are skilled enough you can get such a snazzy deal). As this is Image, Remender will maintain complete creative ownership too, which is one big reason Image seems to keep succeeding at snatching up talent and getting great books made. When the creators own the rights that is a big deal more and more with stuff getting made into movies, shows, and games. Congrats to Mr. Remender!

Monday, September 18, 2023

My Hope Springs Eternal for, "Titanfall 3," to be a Real Thing

"Titanfall 2," was a fantastic game. It had a superb single-player mode that was creative in its story of a man and his big mech-robot-thing called a, 'Titanfall." The multiplayer mode was some of the most fun I ever had playing a game online with other folks. It was my favorite game of 2016 and I continue to remember it fondly. There have always been rumblings of a, "Titanfall 3," possibly happening, but they always are for naught.  The company behind the series, Respawn, has their very popular game, "Apex Legends," now and it is a battle royale-style title. I tried it and found it wasn't for me. I keep on dreaming for, "Titanfall 3," to happen, and now we have the latest go-around before my hopes are crushed.

"Titanfall 2," can still be played online and the matchmaking was actually just updated. Plus, "Apex Legends," had a patch with little easter eggs in the form of hidden dates and code words that have folks convinced that, "Titanfall 3," is actually on the way. I know it is foolish to get excited about the possibility of this game only to end up disappointed, again, but I am prepared to believe again even if my yearning is for naught. Dreamers gotta dream, even if it is a long shot.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

"Avengers Inc." #1 Kicks off a Fun New Series!

Al Ewing is a stellar writer and Leonard Kirk is a fantastic artist. They have come together to bring us a new detective-styled take on the Avengers titled, "Avengers Inc." The first focuses on Janet Van Dyne AKA the Wasp as she tries to solve a murder mystery. The first big twist is folks are not as murdered as they might seem, but then some other fun occurrences happen with even more questions being raised. Plus, we got a surprise guest at the end that piqued my interest. If I may spoil the last-minute reveal, it seems Hank Pym might be back and finally is no longer stuck in that weird body-and-mind-meld with Ultron (it was a whole thing that started back in 2015). A man claiming to be Vic Shade appears too, but he was an alias of Vision in the past, so what exactly is going on? We don't know, but I'm excited to find out.

I'm a fan of mystery yarns and would also argue that Janet Van Dyne is often underutilized within the comics as a fascinating character with a rich backstory that deserves mining (she is a founding Avenger, after all). Ewing's writing fires on all cylinders as normal and Leonard Kirk's art is just stupendous. When a big fight scene breaks out in the middle of the comic with a bunch of characters a lesser artist would probably struggle to make it anything other than a big muddled mess, but Kirk keeps things clear and easy to follow.

The debut issue of, "Avengers Inc." has definitely piqued my interest. Between Ewing and Kirk it is a great read and looks gorgeous. I am excited to see where this story goes as the various mysteries that have been raised are explored!
5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

They Announced a New, "Vengeance of the Moon Knight," Series Before He's Even Officially Dead

Marc Spector AKA Moon Knight will be killed off in issue 30 of the current, "Moon Knight," comic. That issue is not even out yet but Marvel has announced the same creative team will do, "Vengeance of the Moon Knight," right after the current series ends. Yeah.

Let me first say that I am happy Jed Mackay and Alessandro Cappuccio will be creating a, "New," comic featuring Moon Knight. The 30 total issues of, "Moon Knight," that will have been released (and some other random ones that tie in with events) will be remembered as fantastic. That said, it is funny how Marvel keeps killing off characters only to quickly announce they're back in a new comic. Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel had barely been dead when it was revealed she was a mutant and a new comic with her then kicked off. Moon Knight isn't even dead yet and we've had it announced he'll be back in a new comic. That said, it is seemingly being indicated we won't have Marc Spector under the cowl in a newly redesigned costume, so that is intriguing.

I don't get why we need to end the current, "Moon Knight," run to do another volume of, "Vengeance of the Moon Knight." I guess enough is changing thematically with the comic that it makes sense and Marvel (along with other publishers if we're being fair) loves relaunching books with new #1s to try and bump up sales. Quibbles aside, I am excited for more Moon Knight-related content from Mackay and Cappuccio, as I said. It'll be a good time.

Friday, September 15, 2023

The, "Fables," Comic and Copyright Law--A Complicated Tale

Bill Willingham is a comic creator known for his work on the, "Fables," series. It took a bunch of old fairy-tale characters and put them in a shared universe. Folks really dug it. I have to be honest and say I never read, "Fables," or any books that tied in with it. There is no real reason why I skipped it, but I have so much stuff I already struggle to read and by the time I knew of, "Fables," there was so much content I just kind of shrugged and figured I could miss out and someday give it a read. Willingham has had, "Fables," at DC's Vertigo and then the Black Label. He has apparently been having a lot of trouble with DC so he got pissed off and said, "Fables," is now in the public domain. He told folks to do whatever with it as he surrendered the copyright to fans.

Willingham could be considered a complicated author. Depending on whom you ask he leans a little right politically but is an okay guy regardless of his politics. That, or he is incredibly far-right and a huge bigot, some folks might tell you. He has fans of all kinds of political persuasions thanks to, "Fables," so it has been weird to see some folks who don't ever get along uniting a bit to praise Willingham for this action.

The thing is, DC has already said, "Not so fast!" and is making it sound like this is more of a case where Willingham is doing a meaningless symbolic gesture than a real case of releasing his copyright to the wilds. DC has made it clear they co-own the copyright with Willingham and if anyone tries to make a single cent on the, "Fables," property without permission with a movie/television show/comic DC will take action--e.g. sue your ass. It is going to be a long and messy process that I'm sure has some copyright lawyers salivating at how much money could get tied up in all this. It's gonna be a process.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Coke's New Y3000 Flavor is a Metaphor for Everything Wrong with AI


Coca-Cola has been creating a variety of special flavors lately. They don't have an official taste but instead are supposed to make your tastebuds think you're looking up at a starry sky, floating through a dreamworld, or other esoteric concepts. The latest flavor of Coke to hit the shelves is Y3000. It was co-created with various artificial intelligence programs that assisted in designing the cans/bottles and concocting the flavor. There is an app that uses AI to alter your photos in, "Futuristic," ways too, apparently. The claim that AI helped create this soda is possibly an exaggeration, but it would be fitting thematically. Like an AI=created picture/piece of, "Art," the Y3000 flavor seems okay at first, but the more you look at it/taste it the more apparent it becomes something is horribly wrong.

You know those, "Freestyle," soda machines some restaurants have? Imagine if you got the Coke soda and put in a bit of every fruit flavor mixed with Coke you could? A bit of orange, a dash of grape, and so forth until you're left with something that tastes like Coke with a bunch of citrus sludge. That is the Y3000 flavor. Much like how AI will give pictures too many fingers and just looks, "Off," once you study something created by AI closely, as you continue to sip Y3000 it obviously is a Frankenstein's monster of flavors in the same way AI, "Art," just rips off content it finds online to supposedly make something new. It's all oversaturated sludge both visually and in flavor. Some people seem to like the kitchen sink-style blend, but it isn't for me. At least it is still better than the Georgia Peach and California Raspberry flavors from some years ago. Not by much, however. I understand that Coke wants to, "Test boundaries." That said, this is one test they failed.

1 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Alan Moore Continues to Do His Own Thing

Alan Moore has written some of the most beloved and critically acclaimed comics ever. Alan Moore also is a man who was screwed over by the comic industry multiple times. He despises seeing his work adapted and almost always requests to have his name taken off of anything that is produced. In a recent interview with The Telegraph, a number of subjects were tackled including if he ever watched the latest, "Watchmen," adaptation and what he does with royalty checks he legally has to be sent for projects he wants zero involvement in. Apparently, he totally avoided the show but did hear about it and felt it missed the point of his work (fair enough). He also said he gives his checks to the movement known as, "Black Lives Matter." 

Moore was chewed up and spat out by the comic book industry and now writes interesting novels and does his own thing. He donates to causes he cares about and does not give a single care what anyone thinks about him anymore. He quit comics, will talk smack about it, and also will throw some shade at fantasy novels too because he doesn't give a care/hoot/fuck, as I stated. The man hates even going to comic-cons because people look at him as a religious figure instead of a writer to have a friendly conversation with. If you go on Twitter/X you can already see faux-fans mad at Moore for doing his own thing. Calling him, "Exhausting," or "Ungrateful," to the medium that, "Made him famous." Moore seems to enrage people by having convictions. I don't even agree with the man on plenty of stuff, but I admire him doing his own thing all these years.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Television Tuesday: Aaron Rodgers, the New York Jets, and Irony

The only sport I remotely follow is hockey. However, I am a person who lives on planet Earth so I knew of Aaron Rodgers. A man who is pretty weird yet you like him despite him sometimes saying really dumb things. He makes me think of Woody Harrelson with his odd theories about COVID-19, a love of UFOs, and so forth. My wife and I had seen the news about Rodgers joining the New York Jets and heard that a new season of, "Hard Knocks," on HBO/MAX had a lot of him and other interesting folks. We decided to watch the show and it was fun! It made us hopeful enough for the Jets that we watched their first game of the season last night, September 11th. Before the game could even get going we watched as Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending injury The man tore his Achilles tendon 4 plays in as the Quarterback. He was done while some fans still were making their way to their seats. The Jets really are gonna be Jets as usual, eh?

To the credit of everyone who was able to play yesterday, the Jets beat Buffalo in overtime. With it being the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 it was probably emotional to be playing a home game in NY too. That said, Aaron Rodgers already being done for the year really sets a sour tone. It is so horrendously anti-climatic to see all the news about Rodgers, watch, "Hard Knocks," focus on Rodgers, and then within 10 minutes of his first real (non-preseason) game as a Jet he's knocked clean off the roster? The whole thing almost sounds like a bad joke, with nobody laughing. This is what I get for even attempting to care about football to the degree I watched a game besides the Super Bowl (I always watch that and enjoy the ads). Perhaps the Jets could still have an amazing season via some miracle. It just sucks the only way Aaron Rodgers is going to be on the field now is if he's cheering from the sidelines. At least we'll always have, "Hard Knocks."

Monday, September 11, 2023

9/11...22 Years Later

September 11th, 2001 was a day that occurred 22 years ago. I remember it better than most days with that much distance between me and them. I was in the eighth grade and in my first class after homeroom (I forget the exact subject) when toward the end I heard a teacher come in and mention to the other that a bomb had gone off in one World Trade Center or a plane had hit it, "Or something." Then in our next class (I think math) we were doing work when another teacher came by to say that a plane had hit the first tower and then another plane had hit the other. From that point, pretty much every class was spent watching television with news about everything going on in the nation. We were all confused, upset, and it was a weird day. Then there was the Pentagon getting crashed into and the other plane that went down Pennsylvania when they fought the hijackers. As it became apparent all this hadn't been some weird accident but was a coordinated terrorist attack the Nation was forever changed by this massively traumatic event. Different generations have, "That thing," that happened which everyone remembers. It can be good, like when we walked on the Moon, or bad, like Pearl Harbor, various infamous assassinations, and so forth. 

For someone such as myself born in 1988, I'd say 9/11 is, "That thing," for me and other Millenials. Now we've got kids learning about it in history books, which is strange to see something I recall discussed by those who didn't even exist yet in the manner of it being, "Old," history. A lot of the World changed after the events of the day as, "That thing," in a generation often brings many ramifications. Now we are here, 22 years later. Some things are better and some are quite worse. That's how things often go with history. I just hope in another 22 years more things will be improved than worse. I think that's what every generation ponders in response to, "That thing," they face.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

I Will Say it Again: Most Old VHS Tapes Are Of Little Financial Value

I am a fan of collecting, "Old," media. I have vinyl records, cassette tapes, and VHS tapes. Some VHS tapes out there could be considered valuable and hard to find--mostly obscure horror titles. However, many clickbait articles falsely claimed worthless Disney, "Black Diamond," VHS tapes were worth thousands despite being easy to find at their shops for pennies on the dollar. I covered this in 2019 and it holds true today, VHS tapes are great fun but often of little-to-no monetary value. Now I see so-called, "Influencers," on Tiktok spreading B.S. rumors about VHS tapes and I can conclude this really is a neverending cycle. 

The aforementioned TikTok concerns a rare-ish VHS version of, "Cars," which does have value--it does! That said, a number of supposed sales for absurd money seem to be fake, and you could only get the, "Cars," VHS via a mail-order Disney club thing. The odds are you have a 99.9% chance of finding all the worthless tapes at a thrift shop and a .01% chance of finding, "Cars," on VHS as it was indeed quite rare. Don't think all those random tapes have a cash value, even if you get them graded in the same way other collectibles are getting graded. Seeing as I've graded my comics I can't really dismiss VHS grading without sounding hypocritical. Still, I'll grade a comic to preserve it and understand doing it with some very rare VHS tapes, but why folks are grading cheap mass-market VHS tapes escapes me. Enjoy your tapes, people, and accept most of them lack monetary value but are still worthwhile in terms of being entertaining. It actually is a lot like comic-books considering how many of those are relegated to dollar bins in the same manner as tapes, now that I think about it. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Saturday, September 9, 2023

You Forget How Badly Newborns Sleep

Ya'll, my new baby is cute but his sleep schedule is bonkers. Our older child, Clarkson, is six years old so I suppose we forgot how wonky the sleep schedule was for newborns. Gibson is a sweet baby but we don't enjoy waking up in the middle of the night when he's ready to demand some more bottle-drank. He's actually, "Stretching," decently too after bedtime, sometimes going 3 or almost 4 hours before he starts fussing for more milk. Still, it can be exhausting and I just wanted to warn ya'll that if you have a baby be ready to miss out on some sleep for a while. Again, at least he's cute.

Friday, September 8, 2023

The Chesterfield Mall Will be Replaced. I'm Kind of Bummed About It

The Chesterfield Mall is one of the malls out here in the Saint Louis region. It is well past its glory days when it had lots of stores. It is a bit of a ghost with just some fantastic stores left in it including an awesome Vintage Stock, my friends at Grape's Games, a Cheesecake Factory, and some other neat establishments. Plans had been in the works for some time to either alter the Mall or outright tear it down and build new stuff in its place. Well, as of this week, a huge plan to demolish the Chesterfield Mall and create a mixed-use space with offices, housing, and commercial businesses has been approved. It will be a two-billion-dollar development and create an urban city center within Chesterfield. This sounds neat, but I'm kind of bummed about it.

I loved the Chesterfield Mall when it was more so in what could be considered its prime. The place was full of stores and restaurants, it had a carousel you could ride, and was just really fun. Then as happened with many malls it just started losing businesses and when COVID-19 hit that made everything even worse. I hope the businesses that are currently within the Chesterfield Mall will be able to relocate nearby or into the new development at some point. I especially love the good folks at the Chesterfield Vintage Stock and want it to have a location somehow. I guess we'll see what happens when we get into late 2024 and the actual demolishing and building of new stuff begins.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Tyrese Gibson's Latest Music Imparts How Badly His Divorce Is Going

Tyrese Gibson is a skilled singer and a great actor too. He is currently going through a nasty divorce and if you listen to his music you really know it getting ugly. When I reviewed the album, "Strength of a Woman," by Mary J. Blige back in 2017, I discussed how it told a story about her own fraught relationship with a partner. Tyrese's recent output of tunes definitely tells a tale too. There was, "Don't Think You Ever Loved Me," which based on the title alone says a lot. Over a sad melody and Lenny Kravitz absolutely shredding the guitar Tyrese shares how an unnamed woman left when times got tough and basically did him wrong. 

The woman is unquestionably a wife he is having a whole lot of legal issues with regarding their divorce. Samantha Lee Gibson is the lady's name, and in the courts, Tyrese has said she only ever wanted money from him. She's argued they were in love and she is due child support for their daughter. The couple got married in 2017, started divorce proceedings in September of 2020, and now it is September 2023. At this rate, the couple is going to spend more time getting divorced than being happily married. Gibson has a new song called, "Love Transaction," and it is all about the current arguments over money. He's expressed he plans to marry his current girlfriend, Zelie Timothy, one divorced from his current wife, and Gibson's upcoming album, "Beautiful Pain," releases sometime this year. I'd imagine it is going to be a pretty intense LP based on what he's released lately.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Gone but Not Forgotten: Jimmy Buffet and Steve Harwell

The past handful of days a number of musical talents have passed, with Jimmy Buffet and Steve Harwell (the original leader singer of Smash Mouth) both being a bummer to hear about. Buffet was known for building a business empire of food, drinks, and resorts thanks to his laid-back persona and a little help from the song, "Margaritaville." He had a long career that spanned genres and passed of skin cancer. Steve Harwell and Smash Mouth had a number of hits that got stuck in your head. One of my favorite, "Saturday Night Live," skits ever touched upon that years ago with Smash Mouth haunting a little girl's closet singing, "All-Star," whenever her parents left the room. Harwell passed due to liver failure from years of alcohol abuse. Buffet and Harwell both are associated with a lot of tunes in my head and I wish the loved ones they are survived by the best.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

"The Devil's Cut," is a Strong Start for DSTLRY

DSTLRY is a new publisher with plans to release a variety of creator-owned comics, as well as collectibles. They've done some weird stuff with digital scarcity that are not NFTs, but still strange (you can only buy a digital copy of stuff to a certain date then it is gone or something unless you resell a digital copy to someone else) and have hyped up how their first one-shot, "The Devil's Cut," will never be reprinted but all that silly buzz aside I was curious about the aforementioned debut one-shot they released this past Wednesday. It's an anthology of short stories and previews and having read it, my interest is piqued in DSTLRY's possible future offerings.

"The Devil's Cut," is itself an impressive comic. It looks like an oversized magazine with an eye-catching cover by Jock (other covers look neat too) that just begs a reader to open it up and check it out. Then you dive in and see it is an anthology book with shorter stories, that can inspire some worries. Anthology comics are practically by law a mixed bag. You get a mix of good and bad, with the hope being that there is enough great stuff you can forgive the yarns that are lacking. From reading, "The Devil's Cut," I can say no stories were atrocious and certain ones were quite cool. 

I'm down with the first part, okay with the second, a bit befuddled by the third.

When it comes to what I dug in, "The Devil's Cut," certain shorts stick out. A futuristic thief story by Jock titled, "The Stowaway," looked gorgeous as anything by Jock is wont to do. "What Happens Next," by Jamie McKelvie (writer and artist) and Aditya Bidikar as the letterer is a snazzy sci-fi yarn. The best of the bunch in my opinion, however, was, "White Boat," by Scott Snyder and Francesco Fancavilla with Andworld Design as the letterer and Tyler Jennes as a story assistant. It's a creepy horror tale that feels right out of a good episode of, "The Twilight Zone," and hits the reader hard. Those stories were quite fun.

"The Devil's Cut," is an impressive first release from DSTLRY. I'm not big on the whole digital scarcity thing they are hyping but I'm totally down for big, well-written, and gorgeous comics done by fantastic creators who own the rights to their creations and see a profit from them as opposed to being mistreated by a publisher. Should you be in the mood for some wild narratives I'd recommend picking up, "The Devil's Cut," from your local comic shop.

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, September 4, 2023

This Labor Day Continues to Illustrate the Importance of Unions

Today was Labor Day, which we owe to unions along with many other things (the weekend existing, minimum wage, child labor laws, and the list goes on). Right now it is clearer than ever how important unions are to protecting workers through collaboration and strength being together. Whether it is UPS negotiating a deal, autoworkers, or writers and actors, many people benefit from unions. The big corporations will try to claim unions are bad or not needed. They'll say, "We're like family here," while the CEO makes 1,000X what other employees do. It'll be pointed out how unions aren't perfect, and that is true! That said, unions are better than nothing and most of them do good work as opposed to some having an element of corruption. If unions didn't pose a threat to those in power, they wouldn't work so hard to stop them from forming or functioning. We had Labor Day today, thank a Union for that, and much, much more.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

These New Batman, "Super Powers," Toys Are a Nice Mix of Retro and Modern

McFarlane Toys has announced new retro-inspired toys are coming to the, "Super Powers," line. The original line came about in the 1980s. It's been brought back at various points when a nostalgic twist is needed with newer toys. Some new Batman-focused ones have been announced featuring the Flashpoint-event Thomas Wayne Batman, a standard Bruce Wayne Batman, and (now that's a throwback) the Whirlybat an old-school helicopter. These look pretty cool and I'd snatch up the Flashpoint Batman one if I see it in a store! Keep your eyes peeled for these this October, or preorder them online from McFarlane Toys' itself.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

I Visited Ollie's and Got Some Random Comics

Ollie's is a popular chain of overstock stores. They get stuff cheap from other places that went out of business, had too much of something, or other random liquidations of stuff. This includes books and graphic novels as well as assorted packs of comics. I love comics and writing about random stuff so when an Ollie's opened not too far away I checked it out. Samii and Gibson came with me while Clarkson was at school. Walking into the store felt a little like going into a Big Lots without the (relatively unfair) stigma Big Lots has. There are a lot of random items for sale in various pretty well-organized sections. You've got foodstuff--a lot of seasonings--shampoo, office supplies, rugs, bedding, and just a big variety of items. I--of course--was interested in the comics.

There were packs that advertised they had only random DC and Marvel titles from decades ago to the present. Some packs advertised having indie publishers too. Other packs just emphasized the comics were random and some were, "PG-13," in content lest parents buying these for kids get offended by the content. All the packs--regardless of initial distributor--were $5.99 for five comics. Considering some of the newer titles in packs were $4 or $5 a couple of years ago that's a pretty nice price. The comics were all in quite good shape too. This wasn't like digging in a dollar bin full of worn-out titles. I was impressed with the variety and condition I saw within the packs and bought some to open up too. What was the actual content/quality of the packs, however?

I believe I got my money's worth from the comic packs I purchased. The most notable comic was probably a Halo preview comic that trends for $12-$15 online, so these are by no means an investment. That said, there were some cool first issues of everything from the recent BOOM! political-thriller series, "Regarding the Matter of Oswald's Body," to the first issue of a Doctor-Doom comic from a while ago, some random Image/Top Cow series, and even a whole little manga comic. For someone who is dipping their toes into comics or wants to get something for a kid/teenage loved one who likes comics, these are actually pretty good options. Should you already be a huge comic reader or someone who likes to speculate on comics for profit, these are of little interest to you. Folks just trying out comics or who want a nice little gift, however, should be pleased. Plus, if you go to get one or two of these at Ollie's there is tons of other cool stuff to shop for there too, so it's a win-win!

Friday, September 1, 2023

Funko Friday: Bitty Pops Have a Certain Charm to Them

Funko as a company has been having trouble as of late. They've been destroying leftover inventory to save on storage costs, cutting jobs, and losing money. That said, Funko products remain popular with a lot of folks and I still have a soft spot for the brand. I do a little collecting of certain brands and enjoy a good Batman-related Pop now and then. I heard how Funko was doing a, "Bitty Pop," and it sounded silly but I was curious about it.

I spotted some Batman Bitty Pops at a toy store in the Mall today and bought a very little set that comes with three you can see before purchasing and a mystery one that might be 1/3 or 1/6 rarity. Samii bought some Disney Princess ones. As you can see below, I got some fun variations and my, "Mystery," Pop was The Penguin. Observe:

Within the box, there were the individual pops and a nice hard plastic container you can put them and stack multiple Bitty Pops with if you so choose. These smallest-of-possible Pops are kind of cute and while I wouldn't spend a bunch of money to acquire them all, it was fun to buy some and put them on display with my (in comparison) much bigger standard Pops. I doubt these will be a massive hit like standard Funko Pops or Funko Sodas, but they are snazzy. Hopefully, they won't die out and be forgotten like the VNYL line (those were fun in my opinion, but oh well) or other product attempts Funko made and abandoned.