Sunday, March 31, 2024

Happy Easter 2024!

I hope anyone who celebrates Easter has a good time today in whatever form they recognize the holiday. Clarkson and Gibson saw the Easter Bunny yesterday at We Rock the Spectrum in Fenton so that was great fun! Have a good day, everyone!

Saturday, March 30, 2024

"Marvel Rivals," Has Been Announced and it Could be a Fun Game

For some time (a while ago) I really enjoyed playing, "Overwatch." Characters of widely different abilities would fight in an arena of sorts and it was fun how different everyone was yet the game made everything gel together. Eventually, I got tired of, "Overwatch," and it apparently had a messy launch for its sequel, alienating a chunk of the fanbase. I'd try another game in a similar vein, and it seems Marvel, with the developer NetEase Games, is making that in the form of, "Marvel Rivals."

"Marvel Rivals," is set to be a 6vs6 arena shooter-style game with various characters destroying popular Marvel-related environments as they fight. Certain characters can team up for special moves and it all looks a lot like, "Overwatch," with Marvel characters--but that is not a bad thing! There are some really well-known characters such as Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Scarlet Witch, but, "Deeper cut," characters are involved too such as Peni Parker. Moon Knight has not yet been confirmed, but if he is I"ll definitely try the game out to at least play as him! The wait won't be too long as the game launches in, "Alpha," this May. As that isn't even, "Beta," this is bound to be pretty buggy at first and look a lot different when the game is in fact finished (and assumably comes to consoles as for now it is just on PC).

I see the potential for a game where Marvel characters play off one another's powers while wrecking interesting environments to be fun. The key will be making sure all the characters are balanced off of one another and it isn't a case where only a handful of characters are, "Worth," playing as. This coming May we'll be able to see what anyone who tries the free-to-play Alpha thinks!

Ed Piskor the Latest Comic Creator Found to Be Engaging in Inappropriate Behavior

Update, 4/1/24, 4:18 PM: 

Ed Piskor has apparently died from suicide. This is tragic and we are going to see the internet playing the blame game for weeks. It is possible to have both sympathy for anyone who felt victimized by Piskor and for the man himself--he clearly felt he was a victim in enough of a manner that he made this decision. It is incredibly sad and I am now dreading watching as various people on the internet try to score cheap points using this to help their agenda. I don't care what your political affiliation is and how guilty or innocent you felt Piskor was. This whole thing is just upsetting, full stop. I don't care if we, "Blame," all this on Comicsgate, SJWs, or any other term you're bound to hear being thrown around. It is just upsetting and I would have never wanted any of this to have occurred. It is all awful no matter how you look at it.

Original Article:

Ed Piskor has been revealed to be engaging in behavior that is not illegal, but incredibly inappropriate. It started when a woman revealed Piskor followed her on social media and at first complimented her art but then began coming onto/grooming her when she was 17. The age of consent in Pennsylvania (where Piskor and the girl were located) is apparently 16, something the handful of Piskor's defenders on Twitter/X have loudly pointed out. Be that as it may, it is still incredibly creepy for a man then nearing 40 to be trying to pick up someone who can't even legally vote. That revelation being posted led to other women sharing how Piskor had interacted with them--generally in a disgusting manner. It all turned into a big snowball rolling down a hill of bad behavior. 

An art show that Piskor was the star of is now delayed/canceled and Piskor's longtime collaborator, Jim Rugg (they did a podcast called Cartoonist Kayfabe together) said he was no longer going to work with Piskor. By all accounts, Rugg is a nice guy and I've never heard anything bad about him. In regards to Piskor, I'd not heard about his behavior toward women until all this news broke but had heard from other men who had ever spoken with him that they found him to be wholly unpleasant to interact with. The general vibe he apparently gave off was someone who was full of themselves and wanted to be perceived as a, "Bad boy of comics." Well, he's been bad alright, just not in a way conducive to having a successful career.

How do we interact with his past work now? Some of it was admittedly cool stuff. I mean, I found, "Red Room," to be disturbing but interesting. Plus, "Hip-Hop Family Tree," was a popular work by Piskor as well as his recent take on the X-Men via, "X-Men: Grand Design." Multiversity has a poll asking fans how they respond to the work of a, "Cancelled," creator they like, and that can be hard. I've struggled with my feelings regarding the works of Warren Ellis ever since his big scandal. Piskor's career has taken a major hit that I honestly don't think he'll be coming back from and I hope his being exposed for predatory behavior helps bring even a modicum of relief/closure for any women he interacted with in an awful manner.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Follow-Up Flashback Friday: I Tried Fun Dip for the First Time In Years and That Stuff is Potent!

Fun Dip as we know it has been around since the 1970s. You take a stick made of sugar, lick it, dip it in some more sugar, then lick that sugar off. That's the official way, at least. Some people just pour the loose sugar down their throat and chomp on the stick to ingest everything as quickly as possible. It has been at least more than a decade since I ate Fun Dip, but I was thinking about it back in 2022. Now, however, I actually tried some the other day as my own little, "Dip," into the past. That stuff hits hard.

We got the Fun Dip as a present for the kids in an Easter/Spring/whatever holiday basket. Clarkson doesn't really eat candy (we offer it to him, but he isn't a fan of candy but he does love doughnuts), so I decided I'd try a packet of Fun Dip. I eat candy sometimes and enjoy chocolate, so it is not like a bunch of sugar should strike me that much, but Fun Dip was like a short-lived jolt of pure sweetness that made me squint a little from a slight head rush. No wonder some kids are so jacked-up on sweets, they're out here downing Fun Dip like nobody's business!


I've been working at cutting down on junk food and candy (I'm drinking a lot less soda for sure) so I don't plan to have more Fun Dip anytime too soon. That said, it clearly appeals to some people in the same manner as other treats that are essentially pure sugar (such as Pixy Stix), so I just hope anyone who regularly consumes this stuff also makes sure to brush their teeth well as it is basically 100% sugar you're ingesting.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Your Village STL Has a Stellar Play Space for Little Ones!

Your Village STL is a, "...supportive, inclusive space for expectant and new families to find support, community, play, education, health and wellness." Found in Chesterfield, Missouri, it provides health services covered by insurance including but not limited to pediatric sleep, speech, nutrition, OT, and more. It also has classes for parents ranging from prenatal education to support groups, play groups, and parent-and-me yoga. The way I heard of them, however, was how my wife and I saw they recently opened a play village for children in a Facebook group talking about fun places for kiddos!

The play village is just that, "...an indoor imaginary play space designed to promote a safe and stimulating environment for children to engage in active play, social interaction, and imaginative exploration while parents remain with [their] child." It is open Tuesday-Friday from 9:00 AM-1:00PM. Special events can sometimes be attended on other days or there might be private parties booked on those days. I took Gibson to the play village for the first time yesterday and he had a ton of fun! He wanted to crawl all around the infant space and was eager to interact with the other babies (and bigger kids) who were around. There was coffee and snacks available for purchase as well and the space was clean, organized, and had a nice warm & inviting feel. Gibson and I were the first to arrive before it got busy so I was able to snap some pictures of the lovely setup in the play village. Take a look:




Gibson loved exploring all the various toys and objects too. The nearby, "Yuck bucket," was nice to have provided as the boy loves to try and put toys in his mouth any chance he gets (I feel like almost all the shaky eggs ended up in the sanitary bucket by the time he was done with them). Here are some images of Gibson enjoying the space:




Your Village STL provides a bunch of great services to parents and I especially appreciate the delightful play village! We went for the first time yesterday (as I mentioned) but I expect we will be going there many more mornings after Clarkson is dropped off at school as Gibson had such a great experience! You can learn more about Your Village STl and all their services on their website and can book admission to the play village online too. They allow walk-ins but to guarantee a space for yourself it is always best to book ahead of time!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Television Tuesday: "Quiet on the Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV," is Fascinating and Depressing

If you were a child in the 1990s or early 2000s and had cable, the odds are quite good you watched Nickelodeon. For programming geared towards kids, it was that or the Disney channel--and Disney generally cost extra back then. I am one of those youth who adored, "All Than," "Kenan & Kel," "The Amanda Show," and so forth. I was a bit older by the time, "Victorious," "Drake and Josh," "iCarly," and so forth really took off, but I was at least familiar with those programs and their stars (some became quite huge such as Ariana Grande). One thing I've found is that when you're a kid you dream of being famous and how cool it would be to star on those children's shows but when you're an adult you're thankful as Hell you had a normal life and weren't a child star. Docuseries such as, "Quiet on the Set: the Dark Side of Kids TV," helps show how awful things could get for everyone involved in children's programming.

Dan Schneider was like a God at Nickelodeon. He discovered a number of stars, made huge hits, and was the golden boy for the network. He was also a verbally abusive boss who treated women and people of color horribly. Schneider screamed at people, threatened their careers, and often asked the women who worked as writers or costumer-makers to drop what they were doing to give him a neck massage on the set (seriously, the way he asked all these ladies for massages was well-known). Schneider created a terrible work environment for adults as well as children. He was never inappropriate with kids, but created an environment where people did not feel safe to speak freely so it allowed other adults who were predators to prey on kids. Seriously, at least three recorded sexual predators were roaming Nickelodeon and taking advantage of their positions of power.

Multiple former child actors, their parents, and other adults who worked at Nickelodeon share just how terrible things were, with Drake Bell possibly having suffered the most of those who chose to come forward for this docuseries. He was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a producer at Nickelodeon he trusted and thought was a friend. Nickelodeon didn't really care, focusing more on making money than keeping talent safe--although, oddly enough the fact Bell recounts Schneider was surprisingly supportive of him when he came forward about being preyed upon is maybe the one positive mention of Schneider.

"Quiet on the Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV," is not exactly shocking as for years upon years we have seen child stars suffer due to the behavior of adults who should have been trustworthy. Whether it is the extensive trauma endured by, "The Little Rascals," Corey Feldman, Drew Barrymore, or plenty of other people, a lot of extensive work needs to be done to ensure child stars are protected and feel comfortable enough to be able to say when they don't feel safe. Hopefully, docuseries such as this can help push for change.

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Music Mondays, Debut Edition!

My Latest On-Again-Off-Again Segment!

I have a bunch of random segments that I either do often or do extremely sporadically so why not create another one? That’s right, I am happy to present the first-ever edition of my Musical Musings… on a Monday. If you’re in the mood for some scattered opinions and observations about music then buckle up because you’re in for some fun.

Music News and Thoughts

Justin Timberlake dropped his new album, “Everything I Thought it Was.” Reviews have been mixed but I mostly like what I’ve listened to so far on the LP. It is no, “Futuresex/Lovesounds,” but that was Timberlake’s best album ever. At least this ain’t, “Man of the Woods,” which was definitely an album Timberlake put out—no other comment is needed.

Drake can be hit-or-miss but I must say his new popular single, “You broke my heart,” is pretty darn catchy. Between a solid beat, some good bars, and Drake singing a little it’s a good tune. Drake could use some positive news after that unfortunate sex tape leaked of him—although considering the rumors about his affinity for very young women I was glad that at least anyone who was with him in any video was of legal age. That sounds like a joke, but it’s not.

 On the subject of Drake, I do not like seeing that he is having some beef with Kendrick Lamar. It seems Lamar has not been getting along the best with J. Cole or Drake in regards to the debate about who some of the best current rappers are. It is a debate about the, "Top 3," so to speak. I would prefer everyone get along but there obviously is no competition when it comes to who is at the metaphorical peak—Kendrick Lamar is the best (currently active, unless AndrĂ© 3000 decides to start spinning again) rapper alive. That’s sad, I don’t want to see everyone arguing. Then again, Drake seems to often have little feuds that at least don't turn into violent beef.

Kacey Musgraves is someone I’m a huge fan of and she just released her latest work, “Deeper Well.” I haven’t had a chance to listen to it but it’s on my list of stuff to get to tuning into ASAP.

Olivia Rodrigo keeps putting out hit after hit lately. I know sometimes I am crotchety about the new pop music that kids these days love, but she is actually a quite talented young woman. Even if I’m not into all of her songs, many of them have a good message or are enough of an earworm you can’t help but hum along.

Willie Nelson has been making quality music for more decades than I've been alive. He has collaborated with countless artists and it is wild to think there is someone he hasn't worked with yet. Well, for the first time ever, Willie Nelson did a duet with Kermit the Frog as they sang, "Rainbow Connection," That's just heartwarming stuff right there.

T-Pain and Young Ca$h have their own group known as the Bluez Brothaz and the latest jam, “Biggest Booty,” is a hoot. It’s more funny than some hip-hop songs that are pure objectification as they rap about a lady a with rear end that is so absurdly gigantic she may be unable to fit in a Lamborghini and so forth. I wrote recently how we need to put some respect on T-Pain’s name and this is another quality track he’s a part of.

Director Ryan Coogler is involved in making a movie that will heavily feature the music of, "Prince," while not being a biopic. I can't think of a single bad movie Coogler has been a part of so this news is exciting!

Lastly, this article about one of the strangest bands ever, The Butthole Surfers, is worth a read for how it revisits the sheer weirdness of the group and the psychedelic legacy they leave behind.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Website Kotaku Seems to be Crashing and Burning in Regards to its Quality

For years I really enjoyed getting video-game and other pop-culture news from Kotaku. Over time the site went downhill, however. Acquired by G/O Media in 2019, from that point on there has been a deluge of annoying ads, an editorial exodus, and now the site won't even allow readers to comment as the news that yet another Editor in Chief is out (this one quit, some have been fired) due to how Kotaku is going to do a lot less news/opinion pieces and instead make bland game guides. It's quite a fall from grace for Kotaku, but G/O Media knows how to ruin good and popular things for sure, having previously dismantled  Jezebel (which was bought by Paste, at least) and Deadspin, which is now going to be a sports gambling referral site. 

At least we have an interesting newer site called Aftermath. It is subscriber-supported and features a lot of talent from websites such as Kotaku, Vice (a whole different story of an empire collapsing), and more. Journalism has been going through a lot these past years (censorship, corporate takeovers, AI) whether it is focused on politics, current events, or popular culture. Thankfully, there are always talented voices pushing against those only interested in fluff content that makes a quick buck as opposed to actual quality writing. It's just a shame to see formerly good sites reduced to a hot mess.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Check Out Author Nina Ayers!

Last weekend I had the chance to meet author Nina Ayers while she was at Half Price Books for an author event promoting her latest work, "Joy of Murder: Life of a Serial Killer/s." Her work is based on actual events involving a real-life serial killer and the efforts that were taken to bring him to justice. Nina's book involves multiple twists and turns--it sounded like the perfect read for those who enjoy both fictional and true-crime stories.

I greatly enjoyed speaking with Nina while she was tabling to her promote her book and it was clear she put a great deal of work into creating this stellar publication. She isn't just stopping with this book, however. She has other titles in the works with this series as well as a series for kids titled, "Fairies of the 4 Realms." You can find, "Joy of Murder: Life of a Serial Killer/s," at your local bookstore (or have them order it for you). You can also always buy it from Amazon or via Barnes & Noble as well.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Film Friday: "Alien: Romulus," and, "Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice," Are Bringing the Retro Back!

"Alien," was released to theaters in 1979. "Beetlejuice," came out in 1988. The former has had many sequels and tie-ins, the latter has had some random tie-in properties (like an animated children's television show) but never a true sequel. In 2024, they're both bringing the retro back with, "Alien: Romulus," and, "Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice."

The first, "Alien," movie is without question a horror film that happens to have a space creature instead of the usual monsters. Later flicks moved in a much more action ("Aliens," or science-fiction-heavy direction, but that first, "Alien," is horror through-and-through in a sci-fi setting. There are many opinions out there regarding, "Prometheus," and, "Alien Covenant," which function as prequels to the rest of the franchise--and I like both (especially, "Covenant," to be honest). The upcoming, "Alien: Romulus," takes place between the debut, "Alien," and, "Aliens," with what seems to be a heavy horror vibe, and I'm all for it. Films in the franchise such as, "Alien: Ressurection," showed you could get a little too complex and over the top. Just throw some people in a run-down spaceship with face-huggers/Xenomorphs and let shit go crazy, is what some people would tell you to do, and, "Alien: Romulus," looks like it plans to do just that. Here is the trailer:

Then we've got the late-80's classic, "Beetlejuice. A comedy film with a lot of horrific trappings (I mean, it was a Tim Burton film) it is darkly hilarious with a stellar ensemble including a then very young Winona Ryder, the always amazing Catherine O'Hara, and Michael Keaton's Beetlejuice stealing the show (among other solid cast members). I loved that movie as a kid (a lot of the more raunchy jokes went over my head until I got older) and a sequel seemed to be in development Hell for years. However, Burton is back directing, a lot of the previous cast has returned, and yes, that means Keaton is back. This seems like it won't just be a lazy cash-grab for nostalgia based on all the old talent returning and some new great additions (Jena Ortega, for example). There is a teaser you can see below:

"Alien: Romulus," is due in theaters this August 16th and, "Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice," will be hitting the silver screen come September 5th. What's old is new again, while still managing to be pleasantly retro. Here's hoping both flicks are as fun as it appears they very well could be.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

An AI, "Artist," Had a Winning Submission for the Spawn Cover Contest and I Just Sighed Loudly

AI and its so-called, "Art," is not art. It is theft and soulless machine-computing throwing a bunch of other people's work it, "Studied," together to make something supposedly new. Todd McFarlane had a contest where people could draw Spawn and Spawn-related characters with the reward being your artwork is featured as a variant cover for an upcoming issue of, "Spawn." I would also hope people got paid for this promotion as you can't pay the bills/eat with, "Exposure." Well, one of the contest winners, Luis Ruiz, seems to have almost assuredly, "Made," their work with AI (the link takes you to Bleedingcool, so be warned it is a nightmare to navigate without an adblocker) Cue my exasperated sigh.

The contest explicitly said you didn't have to be able to draw (e.g. you could submit a picture of something crafted out of clay, perhaps) but that AI was forbidden. Luis shrugged at the rules and submitted his so-called works as authentic. I sincerely hope their entry is disqualified and further steps are taken to prevent AI hucksters from claiming actual accolades due to people whose art involves more than typing in a prompt on various websites.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

CGC Has Acquired James Spence Authentication

In news that I found interesting for two reasons, CGC has acquired an authentication company known as James Spence. What are the two reasons? I'm glad you asked!

1. CGC's biggest competitor is CBCS and they have an authentication service where even if a comic isn't watched getting signed in person by a CBCS employee they can verify a signature is legit when slabbing their books. If CGC is getting into the authentication game then that'll definitely catch the attention of anyone who has a signed comic and wants CGC to grade it but wants the yellow, "Signature Series," slab as opposed to a green slab usually given to comics with a notable issue or an unwitnessed signature (that is, unless CGC plans to make a whole new style of a slab, one wonders).

2. CGC has been in a lot of hot water these past months due to people scamming the company with ease thanks to various loopholes in the slabbing process that resulted in either a bunch or a small number of falsely labeled slabs (it depends on who you ask in regards to how bad the scamming got). Having some positive news with a method that will encourage a slew of submissions to CGC might help wash the bad taste of the slabbing scandal out of comic fans' mouths.

Will this news and the idea of CGC authenticating unwitnessed signatures work out well for the company and help them keep the metaphorical wolves at the door from bursting in? Does this actually raise more questions about how reliable CGC could be if they allow unwitnessed signatures to be graded in some fashion? Come April when the exact way the services will work becomes clear we may have a better idea.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Johnny Ryan's, "FATCOP," is Absurd, Grotesque, and Quite Funny

I run hot and cold on Johnny Ryan. When you read a comic by him you're going to get a lot of jokes involving body fluids, sex, violence, and sometimes all three at the same time. The thing with Ryan is he manages to be outlandishly clever a good deal of the time when he's being outrageous, and that results in some entertaining works! After all, "Prison Pit," is disgusting but it is also a fun read. There are times when Johnny Ryan is simply trying to shock readers, however, and those are occasions where his work falls flat (for me at least). Ryan's last long-form comic was the aforementioned, "Prison Pit," until now with the one-word and all-caps, "FATCOP."

"FATCOP," follows a rather large man who is a police officer. His name is Fat Cop. The big hardcover book starts out seeming like it is just going to be little vignettes of Fat Cop being a terrible person in between meals. He abuses his power and only ends up doing any good by accident. This is not due to the fact he is a police officer, however. Everyone in the comic is horrible. Almost all the characters are prone to violence, sexual violence, self-harm, spreading their own feces everywhere, and so forth. Anyone who isn't visibly awful winds up dead because this is a Johnny Ryan comic. 

Ryan's comics are full of nasty stuff but there are enough weird and clever touches that his material somehow elevates itself beyond just being shock-for-shock's sake (usually, at least). Little surreal moments like a pile of garbage coming alive and demanding Fat Cop has sex with it (until a nuclear explosion occurs at the moment of his climax) or a running gag about Trader Joe's having a whole sex dungeon set up under the store--run by a towering and murderous albino fellow no less--are delightfully strange. There are self-aware winks as always too. One quiet moment comes to mind where Fat Cop's new partner (actually hired to annoy Fat Cop until he quits) observes Fat Cop is a lot like a lady who was on, "Flavor of Love," that randomly, "Shit on the floor," and gave no reason other than she needed to poop. There is no logic or reason, just unpredictable actions at unpredictable moments.

"FATCOP," and its plot also is a bit undecipherable. There are hints of some grand conspiracy with shadowy figures and a, "Corporation," that involves everything from Trader Joe's to corrupt police, but a lot of random digressions occur in the comic (Ryan loves to spend time on those sudden scatological moments or long segments of graphic sex) to the point where a lot of ideas or directions for the story arise but end-up falling by the wayside with little explanation. What is the, "Corporation," and who are the shadowy figures? Why did the Chief of Police hire her husband as a new officer to get Fat Cop to quit and did it relate to a big conspiracy? Many questions are raised but few are answered, which is a bit irritating as the book ends with somewhat of an anticlimax that gives some characters their due desserts but leaves us readers scratching our head about if Ryan wanted to tell a clever story while giving us gross-out humor, or he simply wanted to use a framework of a story as an excuse for the nasty jokes. Either one is okay, but if, "FATCOP," expects me to be invested in its story as well as laughing at the raunchy humor, it should deliver on both fronts. If the story is ancillary to all the dirty stuff, make that clear then--it is all I request.

Grumbles about an unclear story aside, "FATCOP," is a rambunctious read. Ryan's a superb cartoonist and whether he's drawing a startingly detailed garbage dump or beads of sweat dripping off an exhausted Fat Cop when he's forced into a situation with running, Ryan makes even the grossest illustrations shine. Not many comic creators can make diarrhea shooting out of a rear-end look good to the degree Ryan somehow does--the man's got a twisted gift. Ryan's style of storytelling and artwork makes it so that I absolutely cannot recommend his works to anyone with sensitivities to content that can cause offense. Ryan wants to be disgusting and make readers uncomfortable. If you are the kind of person who can chuckle at some of the most outrageous content from a pen being put to paper, however, Johnny Ryan's comics tend to be a fun time. "FATCOP," is a ribald read for sure, and some quibbles about an unfocused plot aside, I enjoyed it a great deal. As long as you know what you're getting into with, "FATCOP," you may dig it too.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Elon Musk Has Been on Medication This Whole Time and He's STILL The Way He Is?

Wait, Elon Musk has been on a prescription of Ketamine for some time, and even on a drug that mellows you out, he comes across as a hyped-up conspiracy theorist and jerk? What in the Hell he is like without his meds? In all seriousness, I am someone who takes medication for depression and anxiety so I fully support someone taking a substance (as long as it is prescribed and used correctly) if it helps them. Musk has said an actual doctor supplies him with Ketamine and there are, in fact, multiple studies exploring its uses as a drug for mental health conditions. It is interesting to think that someone wealthy has access to experimental uses of a drug without getting in trouble, however, as I imagine if someone at a regular office job even were to prove they had a doctor helping them with a substance that is in a legal gray area they'd be fired.

I support Elon Musk receiving care from a doctor who is working with him to find the best possible treatment for his mental health. I do not support Musk continuing to be an unbearable asshole regardless of what substances he is using or not. It just is wild to think we've been getting a medicated Musk posting alt-right memes and other B.S. while  he runs his companies into the ground. It just goes to show, we all are fighting our own battles. I work to be the best parent and husband I can be while sometimes feeling sad or stressed for no discernable reason and Musk rants about Liberals while microdosing Ketamine. God bless us all.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Today's Quad Con Was Quite a Good Time!

Quad Con puts on a variety of stupendous shows in the Midwest region and I'm always sure to attend their show in Saint Charles whenever it occurs--with one having happened today! I arrived at the Steel Shop Event Center this morning and an absurd amount of fun was had by myself and Gibson--who accompanied me in his stroller while Clarkson and Samii got a little extra sleep back at the house. I kicked off the event by seeing my friend Brian Lan who was there repping the Hero Initiative. The Hero Initiative does countless great things for comic creators in need and I can't say enough good things about the organization. I then saw at a nearby table the affable Spike Forester of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. He had a number of cool items for sale! After visiting with Spike I met up with John Chaffee of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles who had a table near my other friend, Marcus Mosley. Right next to them was the delightful Bruce Reynolds and he had a ton of awesome comics as well--you may get the impression by this point some stellar vendors were there of comics!

A quiet moment before the show began.

It was by no means only comics for sale, however. I saw vendors with Pokemon cards, toys, Legos, and more! The good folks of Bartertown had a bunch of cool stuff they were retailing and a number of tables also had really neat Funko Pops! Besides vendors, I saw a number of creators such as the great guys of Biff! Bam! Boom Comics whom I always enjoy chatting with at any show we meet up. I also met an author who was promoting her own self-published graphic novel. Named Ria Leso, she was selling copies of, "The Sleepless Ones," an exciting and scary-looking read without a doubt! The folks from Hero Complex were at the show, promoting their super-hero-centric museum. It sounds really neat and I look forward to the grand opening!

The show was busy as it began!

As I continued wandering the show floor I saw some of my chums from Tatertot Comics and Collectibles. We had a great time conversing with them about how much fun we were having at Quad Con! I also saw Eric and Tricia from STL Comics. They had brought a lot of cool new comics as well as some stellar toys. Comic Book Relief had some neat goods, including a bunch of cards as well. Before I had to head out because Gibson was ready for a nap I had the opportunity to meet Sean Anderson AKA That Comic Book Guy. He was selling a ton of great comics and I picked up a debut issue of, "The Authority," with the first appearance of The Engineer, who will be in the upcoming Superman movie for a superb price (complicated feelings about Warren Ellis aside, I was excited to get this)! Check him out on Instagram and check my new comic out below:

Today's combination St. Patrick's Day and Quad Con was so much fun! I eagerly await the next Quad Con in Saint Charles--it will occur on October 20th of this year at the same time and within the same location. It is bound to be great fun just as today's show was!

Saturday, March 16, 2024

The X-Men Are Entering a New Era...and It's a Lot Like the Old Era

The X-Men have spent the last 5 or so years on Krakoa with their own nation-state. Various plots from the past came together to take the X-Men to one logical conclusion they'd form their own country and tell the rest of Earth to put up with it because they're sick of being hated by a humankind they wanted to protect. Magneto tried it on a small scale with Genosha, but Krakoa was a massive undertaking and resulted in some cool comics thanks to a major change in the usual X-Men status quo. It was never going to be permanent.

This coming Summer the X-Men will be back to living amongst regular humans in various cities where they'll hide out in military bases or such. It feels like a major step backward into the 1990s--something others have observed. The brand has had so much growth the past two decades and now we're reverting to the old ways? Perhaps I'm just bitter as I didn't really, "Get into," the X-Men until the early 2000's when Grant Morrison delivered what I feel is the best run on the series ever (no shade at Claremont). Their run on, "New X-Men," was amazing and changed so much that Marvel then sprung, "House of M," on everyone and made mutants incredibly endangered. Eventually, mutants started gaining bigger numbers and were then put on the editorial backburner whilst Marvel tried in vain against all logic to make the Inhumans popular and a replacement for the X-Men. That was until Jonathan Hickman ushered us into the Krakoan age in 2019 with, "House of X," and, "Powers of X." That resulted in some stellar comics, but it is coming to an end...and we're going back to how the X-Men were in the 1990s when I had minimal interest in the brand as a wee lad and preferred to read about Spider-Man (he's been through some changes for sure too, but that is a whole different article).

I'm not surprised with the vaguely retro revert (say that three times fast) the X-Men are getting. After all, that, "X-Men '97," show is coming to Disney+ and enough time has passed from the 1990s that folks are now nostalgic for it. Still, I didn't really like the X-Men then and besides Wolverine (he was always cool) could have cared less about all the other characters. The creative teams on the three big books are great and the other series could be good, but I just can't muster any excitement to go back to the old ways. 

I got into the X-Men during a period of huge change and always enjoyed the X-titles the most when things besides the usual, "Mutants protecting humans who hate and fear them," motif was used. I adored the aforementioned, "New X-Men run." I had a ton of fun when for a good year or so a team of X-Men was in space, I had a great time with, "House of M," and enjoyed the fallout of that event. The Krakoan age was insanely creative even if way too many comics were released relating to it (there was a ton of stuff to read if you wanted to keep up to date). When the X-Men are simply hiding out in a mansion or in old military bases in between going on missions to save humans who curse them out for being, "Dirty Muties!" I just don't care. It was done from about 1963 to 2000 and done especially spectacularly for years by Chris Claremont in one of the longest uninterrupted runs in comics ever (1975-1991). Old fans who miss the 90s are probably excited and younger comic fans might be intrigued who didn't live through the past stories. As for me? I said the creative teams look great (Jed MacKay and Gail Simone are both amazing writers and Ryan Stegman is a stellar artist, to name some folks), but I may just skim the new main books and secondary titles unless one manages to really grab my attention. Time will tell.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Make Sure to Attend the Quad Con in Saint Charles this Sunday!

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I always love it when the Quad Con happens at the, "Steel Shop," in Saint Charles. It's a big mixed-use space that perfectly fits all the numerous vendors and creators I always love seeing at the con! The Quad Con will have comics, toys, video-games, art, and more! Cosplay is always encouraged too and I look forward to some rad outfit. I will doubtlessly find some fun stuff to take home at this Sunday's Quad Con and encourage everyone to go to 49 Lawrence Street on March 17th between 10AM and 4PM. Wear some green too, as it is Saint Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 14, 2024

"Wail," Comic Advance Review

I took the opportunity to read an advance digital copy of, "Wail," from Blue Fox Comics and it was quite creepy and sad--that's a good thing as this is a bit of a horror-themed tale! Written and drawn by Richard Fairgray, it follows a woman named Beth dealing with a lot of regret and unsaid things in life that she worries may be too late to tell--even with ghosts involved. This is a story of love, longing, and taking advantage of informing people how we feel while there is time. So yes, I enjoyed, "Wail," a lot.

Fairgray's art is fantastic, whether set in the present time where characters are sad and mourning, or in flashbacks that contain more enthusiasm and optimism. Once the supernatural aspects occur in the story his illustrations are perfectly creepy without being over the top--this isn't exactly a scary story so much as one that makes us fearful of opportunities missed during life. I appreciated the backmatter too where Fairgray discusses his belief in ghosts and artistic process. There will be a Kickstarter campaign for, "Wail," run by Blue Fox Comics in the near future so keep your eyes peeled and make sure to get yourself a copy of, "Wail."

5 out of 5 stars.

Pi Day and 314 Day!

Within Saint Louis, many phones have an area code of 314. Also, the first few digits of PI (which as far as we know never ends) are 3.14 when you write them out. Hence, on March 14th, Saint Louis gets to celebrate Pi Day and 314 Day. Make sure to have your favorite flavor of pie and then enjoy things that are heavily associated with Saint Louis! 

If you aren't aware of Saint Louis-related stuff, that would include but is by no means limited to: Edible items such as toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake, and Imo's Pizza/any pizza with Provel cheese. Some landmarks to learn about would be the famous Arch, the Botanical Garden, and our Saint Louis Zoo. Then, you could play some music by Chuck Berry, Josephine Baker, Michael McDonald, Scott Joplin, and Nelly. Happy Pi Day and Happy 314 Day!

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Is Fighting in the NHL Something of a Bygone Era and Outdated?

Sports evolve. Rules change. The basketball of today is nothing like its original format. Football has changed a lot too. Hockey has seen many alterations, but one thing that has persisted is a fondness for, nay an endorsement of, fighting. It is somewhat in the sport's DNA. Players will get irritated enough with one another they, "Drop the gloves," and engage in a good ol' bout of fisticuffs. The NHL will itself lean into how this attracts attention while ignoring how a number of enforcers suffered the same traumatic brain injuries from fighting that we see in other physical sports such as boxing or football. The NFL has made some effort to address CTE and other concerns but the NHL basically shrugs when certain guys want to throw down. Is fighting in hockey--and the NHL in particular--outdated and something that should be discouraged or outright punished

There is no easy answer to such a question. Hockey is a game of grace and speed, but it is a very physical sport too. Certain actions are verboten (boarding) and others will get you slapped with a penalty, but while fighting will get you in the box it isn't as big a deal as if a baseball player or basketball player threw a punch at someone. The, "New York Post," is a bit of a tabloid paper, but I'll be darned if Phil Mushnick's article, "NHL’s promotion of fighting is sick and out of touch," doesn't make some valid and calmly-presented points in discussing how two men punching each other should be less of a draw for the sport and more of an embarrassment (also, a player discussed in that a piece is now in trouble for a dirty hit some days later). Now, when I was a kid and would watch some hockey I'll fully confess I was eagerly awaiting someone to get pissed off enough they took off their gloves and started throwing haymakers. I'm a grown-ass man now, however, and I enjoy hockey and want to see people playing a game of skill. I don't have a problem with the sport getting physical or a fight happening. I also don't crave it as some fans seem to do. I'm not sure what the solution would be for fighting and how it is treated in the NHL, but I think sooner than later something official will need to be said or done.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Television Tuesday: "The Vince Staples," Show is Short but Superb

"The Vince Staples Show," is a Netflix production starring a semi-fictionalized version of rapper/actor/entrepreneur, Vince Staples. At only five episodes which are as brief as 18 minutes or a little under a half hour, you can binge the whole show in the time it would take to watch most movies. That's okay, although some glowing reviews observed with a little disappointment how the show, "...feels like an appetizer that only scratches the surface." As for what, "The Vince Staples Show," could be categorized as, it features episodes that mostly stand-alone but with little callbacks as Vince navigates life as someone somewhat famous and somewhat wealthy in a vaguely absurdist and off-kilter Los Angeles.

"The Vince Staples Show," takes place in reality, but not. Things happen that are a bit surreal and just plain off. Whether its a theme park mascot taking offense to Vince bumping into him while he tries to find an open restaurant within the park or a bank robbery that takes a humorous turn when the robbers recognize Vince as a friend, weird shit just kind of happens around Vince and he does his best to attempt to roll with it. I've heard comparisons to, "Atlanta," and its sometimes fantastical elements, but I think a lot of folks are bringing that show up as both it and, "The Vince Staples Show," involve rappers who are also actors. If anything, "The Vince Staples Show," reminds me of, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," a comparison my wife, Samii, stated too when we were watching the show. Just like the characters on that show, Vince often has an idea or goal, and has to go through a bunch of people or obstacles in an attempt to achieve what he's after (Vince is at the aforementioned bank trying to get a loan for a cereal idea, for example). 

Vince ends up knowing the robbers at the bank he's trying to get a loan from.

On, "Sunny," it is often a scheme that the gang of characters is trying to enact to the detriment of others, but Vince is less of a malignant force than anyone on, "Sunny," even if he clearly is by no means a hero as his show makes clear. He's just kind of there, putting up with weird shit happening the best he can. Sometimes that means assisting his mother at a family reunion as she attempts to find out who else brought Mac & Cheese in an attempt to show her up. Sometimes that means running for his life when an old schoolmate with a relatively unexplained grudge tries to hunt him down around town. "The Vince Staples Show," and, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," share some formatting, and both are darkly hilarious, but Vince's show is also its own unique and weird beast.

You don't need to watch every episode of, "The Vince Staples Show," in one sitting. You can, but I watched it in pieces over a chunk of days and enjoyed it just as much as if I'd binged the program. It is a fantastic show with the third and fourth episodes being my favorite (the family reunion and trip to the theme park). The first episode is actually the weakest, in my opinion, meandering a bit with Vince locked up briefly with some odd characters after getting pulled over for speeding. It's not a bad start to the show by any means, it is just that everything else fires on all cylinders after that slightly awkward kick-off. Overall, however, this short debut season I'd rate 5 out of 5 stars. I hope we get more (and possibly longer) seasons!

Monday, March 11, 2024

Now Warner Brothers Discovery is Going After Video-Games

David Zaslav is the head of Warner Brothers Discovery and he has essentially slaughtered whole franchises in the name of saving money. He cut 2 billion to make 100 million in profit (so yah?) and everyone seems to dislike him. Thanks to him the, "Batgirl," movie got thrown in a vault, "Westworld," got canceled, tons of shows were taken off HBO MAX--which he renamed simply MAX--and impossible to find anywhere legally due to a lack of a physical disc release, and so forth. Now, Zaslav's bloodlust seems to have expanded to video-games.

Warner Brothers Discovery has announced a number of games will be retired/delisted from online stores that are associated with the WBD brand in some capacity. Anything cool relating to Adult Swim shall be off online marketplaces or Steam and the focus for games in the future will be just four big franchises with more live service games. The four franchises are Harry Potter, anything relating to DC, Mortal Kombat, and Game of Thrones. Oh, and yes, WBD is fully aware the live service-focused, "Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League," game has performed horribly but like a gambler who is already on a terrible losing streak, WBD wants to double-down on live service and, "Free to play," games in the hope their luck/the gaming population, comes around. Expect less fun indie games that you can simply buy and look forward to more big ol' franchises delivered via microtransactions. That is really exciting to imagine. Excuse me, did I say exciting? I meant excruciating.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

It's Mario Day and is When Daylight Saving/Spring Forward Occurs

Today was an interesting mash-up of notable sorta-holidays. March 10 is also known as Mario Day because if you write MAR10 it looks like Mario. I believe this started out as a thing fans did but now Nintendo loves to acknowledge it and make a big deal out of it too (just be careful with your fan celebrations as Nintendo loves to sue people who infringe upon them in any minor way). In addition to Mario Day, we sprung forward an hour during the night and entered Daylight Saving Time. For years I thought it was, "Daylight Savings," but apparently you don't need to add that last S. 

I've discussed before how the whole springing forward and falling back annoys me, so I'll refrain from doing that today and just look on the bright side that we literally have a bright side of it staying light longer in the evening by a whole chunk of time as of today. So yes, this March 10th you can celebrate Mario and a little extra daylight whilst you struggle with losing an hour of sleep if you live in America (but not Arizona, Hawaii, or certain territories). Have a good one, ya'll.

I Missed the ToyMan Show Today

The ToyMan Show was today but due to a stuffy baby keeping us up over the entire night, I was far too exhausted to attend the show this morning and have an obligation in the earlier-ish afternoon. If you have a chance still today I'd encourage you to swing by! The next show is May 5th and I hope to attend that event. It is always a fun time!

Saturday, March 9, 2024

We Warned You Anti-Choice Zealots Would Come After IVF. Birth Control is Next, By the Way

When the Supreme Court undid Roe Vs Wade and destroyed abortion as a Federally protected right those of us who are pro-choice warned you. We told you that women would be stuck with nonviable pregnancies in states that wouldn't let them abort a fetus with zero chance of survival. We warned you that women having miscarriages would potentially be prosecuted now that they were little more than incubators and the fetus they carried had the full rights of an actual living baby. We also said that IVF would be at risk as those are fertilized eggs. Yes, they are in a petri dish and frozen in a lab, but if life begins at conception, then those are equal to a freshly-born baby in the eyes of anti-choice zealots. They're playing a long game, and they are unfortunately winning.

I was not surprised in the least when a judge ruled a fertilized egg used for the intention of IVF was a human baby and had the full rights of a real human. I also wasn't surprised that Republicans quickly tried to backpedal and talk about making exceptions because these are people who want babies who are doing IVF so of course they would do all they could for these women. Some have pointed out that a significant number of those who do IVF are wealthy white women. A chunk of that demographic might have voted Republican and be upset to discover that banning the right to choose how to control their bodies involves IVF too. After all, people doing IVF want a baby, they aren't getting an abortion! Well, guess what? When you decide that a fertilized egg is a baby with no exceptions, that means no exceptions. Zero wiggle room. 

IVF

Whether you need an abortion because your baby will be born with a terminal illness like Tay-Sachs, were raped, just don't want to have a child, or do desperately want a kid but have to do IVF, you're out of luck. That's because this was never about protecting babies, it was about controlling women or anyone with a uterus (not everyone with a uterus identifies as a woman, after all). It isn't about kids, it is about control and making sure you don't have it over your reproductive organs. IVF was a piece of control for those who wanted a child but, hey, no exceptions. You know how the Plan B pill is not an abortion but could theoretically keep an egg from being fertilized or a fertilized egg from implanting? They're going to come for that next.

I'm not exaggerating. Tons of anti-choice groups want to make Plan B illegal and then have their sights set on regular ol' birth control under the guise of it harming women. Yet more control that women will have stripped away. Condoms will probably be legal still, however. After all, men/anybody with a penis can choose if they want to wear those or not and nobody wants to control a man's body--heaven forbid! Go ahead and tell me I'm being silly. Tell me that once abortion became a state's issue Republicans wouldn't hint at a federal abortion ban (they have). Tell me they wouldn't go after IVF as you stated a year ago (they've gone after it). Tell me birth control-related pills aren't next because you'd have been wrong about everything else so what's to stop you being wrong about this? It is all about taking reproductive control away from anyone with a uterus and giving that control to cisgender (and of course straight) men. If you can make it harder for LGBTQ couples to have a kid by banning IVF that's just a nice bonus as they're living in sin anyway, right Conservatives?

Taking away the right to have an abortion was just the first step of many. They won't stop until we live in a reproductive dictatorship. You can say I'm engaging in hyperbole, but so far they've followed every step I and other reproductive health advocates have said they would. They've trampled on a bunch of rights so far on their march to total control, what's to stop the anti-choice lobby from stopping now besides us speaking out and voting for politicians who will stand against their bullshit?