Wednesday, June 7, 2023

The Missouri Family Health Council Has Launched Their Free EC Project

The Missouri Family Health Council is a nonprofit in the state of--where else?--Missouri. They are dedicated to ensuring every Missourian has access to affordable healthcare and health education, including sexual health. They lead The Right Time Initiative which, "...seeks to empower every Missourian to take control of their own health by improving information about, and reducing barriers to, contraceptive services. The initiative provides free or low-cost birth control to all who need it, while addressing the persistent health disparities in unintended pregnancy and among marginalized populations." Recently, the MFHC launched the Free EC Project.

With reproductive rights being rolled back in numerous states (Missouri included) it is important to remember that emergency contraception (AKA Plan B) is still legal. The MFHC has partnered with a number of health centers and community partners to distribute free emergency contraception kits. At no cost to those who request them, a person will receive (confidentially) individually-packaged kits containing two doses of levonorgestrel emergency contraception (an over-the-counter medication that as I said is also known as Plan B), safer sex supplies (e.g. condoms and lube), sexual health education and consent resources, and connections to healthcare providers who can see individuals for affordable prices regardless of if they have insurance or lack it. 

As someone who worked in Public Health and has specifically worked in Sexual Health, I think this is a fantastic program to help people who otherwise might be too nervous to go publically buy EC (or could face danger in some form if they do), can't afford it, or have whatever reason for needing emergency contraception. Even in a state such as Missouri--which has extremely regressive policies regarding sexual health, gender-affirming care, and more as the list goes on--it shows how important the work is of an organization such as the Missouri Family Health Council. 

If you want to learn more or happen to live in Missouri and need free EC you can check out this link. Should you want to support the MFHC in any fashion you can learn how at this link too. I applaud them for their tireless work!

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Starbucks is Expanding Their Olive Oil-Infused Drinks to More Cities

Some months ago Starbucks began trying out olive oil-infused coffees in various locations. Called Oleato drinks, the reception seemed mixed. There were folks who dug it, some found it gross, and a number of people bluntly said the drinks gave them awful diarrhea. I guess there was enough positive feedback, however, because Starbucks is expanding Oleato's availability. That said, I'm unsure how interested I would be in drinks with a spoonful of olive oil or cold foam infused with the stuff. Nowadays I just drink my coffee black and drink a lot of blonde roast or cold brew as that gives me less heartburn than the darker blends. Perhaps because I keep it simple because I just don't have a desire for a spoonful of olive oil to be stirred into my beverage. Plus, the idea of suddenly crapping my pants shortly after enjoying my drink is less than appealing as well. If folks like it (the taste of olive oil-infused coffee, not pooping themselves) then more power to them. I'm good with an iced blonde roast Americano minus any Oleato for now, however.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Apple Announced the Vision Pro and I (As Always) Have Thoughts

I've never been that interested in Virtual Reality headsets. If we could make VR work like the Holodeck in Star Trek, I'd be down for that--although everyone would be annoying to listen too as they remarked, "Hey, this is just the Holodeck!" This resulted in me not caring about Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation Vr, or Cyberview Express. I made that last one up, but if you're as disinterested in VR as I am, you probably didn't even realize it. This long-winded intro leads me to discuss how Apple announced the Vision Pro today, and I gave a disinterested sigh to all of it.

Apple makes great products, there is no question about that. I am sure their, "Facial computer," which costs a whopping $3,500 will be of the highest quality and work spectacularly. It sounds like it will have lots of bells and whistles. I just don't care and never have been big on the idea of strapping a headset to my nogging even if it lets me be further immersed in virtual worlds, bring up data sheets, or whatever. I've changed my mind on stuff before--I used to "Not get," the Nintendo Switch before digging it. That said, I just had to give the Switch a chance to learn to love it. I've sampled VR and never found it especially appealing. The technology has its proponents, but lots of folk seem unsure about it. The comment section on Kotaku had folks remarking the fact this is an Apple product means it probably won't be able to do any PC games and it'll be walled in for just Apple games, products, and so forth. Some other people said the quiet part out loud about how this might really appeal to viewers of pornography--but that's always been a hush-hush aspect of VR--the big companies prefer it not be openly discussed even though I'd imagine that has at times helped spur a number of sales.

I imagine people with deep pockets who adore Apple and its products will eat this up. Massive corporations might give it a try to see how it helps optimize productivity (or other buzzwords). Will this have mainstream, appeal, however? I honestly cannot say as who knew the iPhone would become as massive as it did? Then again, the iPhone now can be had with various deals you cut via your phone provider for a more reasonable price. Apple's Watch is pretty popular too and I was unsure how it would do. Basically, I'm saying I know better than to ever bet against Apple (rare flop like Newton aside) and if anyone is going to finally crack the VR space it'll be them. That said, I'm just as hesitant to bet on Apple in this case too. Once this thing is for sale in 2024 or so and regular folks--well, regular folks with money to burn--can try it out that'll be the real test.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

J. Michael Straczynski is Returning to Marvel to Write a, "Captain America," Comic

J. Michael Straczynski is a writer I have mixed feelings about. I've written before about how I found a lot of his work terrible but then sometimes he'd create an absolute masterpiece like (some of), "Supreme Power." He also did a God-awful run on, "Superman," shit the bed when he concluded, "The Twelve," had, a misfire of, "Thor," and his, "Amazing Spider-Man," run started with promise. Still, it fell apart when (and it wasn't totally his fault, there was editorial interference) it concluded as Mephisto undid the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane. Yeah, that happened. Straczynski hadn't done anything with Marvel after the Spidey fiasco so it's been years since he was there (instead there has been work with DC and other publishers). However, he's returning to Marvel for the latest relaunch of, "Captain America," and it sounds...kind of interesting?

Straczynski does this thing where he starts a story strong and it just ends terribly. Even though I liked a lot of, "Supreme Power," for example, it was never finished by him (other writers had to wrap it up and then the lead-up to, "Secret Wars," literally obliterated the Universe it took place in back in 2014/2015 or so). His take on, "Captain America," apparently is going to feature an examination of Steve Roger's life after his parents died but before he became Captain America and will look at the rise of the Nazi party in America pre-WWII (before we officially fought the Nazis many Americans actually were big supporters of them) and how there are alarming parallels to today as white nationalism gains an alarming foothold in our Country. 

Looking both at the past and how it is disturbingly reflected in the present with a prominent living symbol of our nation, Captain America himself, sounds fascinating. Will Straczynski screw it all up 3/4 of the way through, however? I'm hesitant to give him yet another chance, but I kind of want to see where this goes. Plus, with Jesús Saiz as the artist, it will at least look great.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

John Carpenter Has Directed a New Television Show, and He Did it Remotely!

I'm a massive fan of John Carpenter. The man has made some fantastic movies and still likes to make music when he isn't busy playing video-games. He is 75 and hasn't directed anything for years, but he let slip that he's back, at least to some degree. Yep, a new television program (maybe streaming, details are scarce right now) called, "John Carptenter's Suburban Screams," is in the works--and Carpenter directed it remotely of all things. It was shot in Prague but he never left his house, assumably being Zoomed-in/Skyped-in. This could mean he minimally contributed in his, "Direction," or he could have been very hands-on even though it would've been virtual, "Hands," in this metaphor. Still, anything with John Carpenter's involvement--be it a movie/show/whatever--is quite welcome by us Carpenter fans. I'm excited to learn more as further news is revealed!

Friday, June 2, 2023

Pride Month in 2023 is Needed More Than Ever

It's June and Pride Month. In 2023 it is clear why Pride is needed more than ever. Anti-LGBTQ sentiment seems to be everywhere. A number of politicians want to make it impossible to function in society as a gay/bi/trans person with all kinds of absurd laws. Random hateful people scream with rage if a company has items that express support for LGBTQ individuals and it's disturbing. Bigots feel emboldened to shoot up Budweiser beer cans or tear down displays at Target and their disgusting statements of loathing are said with little concern for others. 

Some people ask why we need Pride, and I tell them to just look at the state of the World today. It would be nice if being LGBTQ was just another aspect of a person in the same way some of us are left-handed, and some of us have different colored eyes--just an interesting fact about people. However, our LGBTQ friends continue to face persecution so we have to fight harder than ever to help them fight against the tide of hate. I've been asked why a cisgender and straight male like myself cares about LGBTQ folks and the simple answer is I'm a human with empathy and not a jerk. I guess there are just a lot of people out there who'd rather hate anything different from them than try to understand and empathize, and that's quite a tragedy.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

The, "Fable," Franchise (Maybe) Ain't Dead Yet

I really liked the first three, "Fable," video-games. Created by Lionhead Studios and spearheaded by a man who is half respected game developer and half walking punchline--Peter Molyneux--the games had Molyneux's usual grand promises before turning out to be solidly fun if not ground-shaking revolutions (seriously, he always had crazy promises about his games). Ever since he founded 22cans, Molyneux hasn't been involved in any of the other Fable works (a miserable Kinect spin-off and some teased games that ended up canceled along with...a collectible card game). The franchise seemed dead and buried to me despite the occasional tease or promise that something was coming from 2018 to now. Based on some new teasers, perhaps there is concrete proof of a new, "Fable," game. Yah?

Molyneux, for his flaws, gives his games a unique vibe and personality--like other big creators including Hideo Kojima. Will a big, "Fables," game without his involvement feel the same or just have a generic fantasy world vibe? Between teases of this and a possible, "Psychonauts 3," Microsoft clearly has some projects coming down the pipeline. Here's hoping if they are intended for Gamepass they will be good--just look at one huge recent misfire ("Redfall," was terrible) and a hit clearly would be nice.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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

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

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

Monday, May 29, 2023

Have a Thoughtful Memorial Day

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