Friday, January 22, 2021

January 2021 Links, News, and Goodness

The Debut of the Year

We are pretty far into the first month of 2021. Things are maybe just barely better than in 2020, so I'll take it. We have a new President, vaccine doses for COVID-19 are rolling out, and I've got interesting news and links to share!

Stuff to Read

I may do a more in-depth write-up as the season proceeds, but for now, I'll say the AV Club has been doing a great job summing up episodes that they review. Our bachelor, Matt, isn't too over-the-top or full of drama himself (which is fine). This has resulted in the show relying heavily on the more toxic more women stirring up trouble and staying around longer than they maybe should have (Victoria should've been gone ASAP). The overall vibe of the season has been pretty chill and fun, however.

It is not surprising that Biden's administration is apparently inheriting absolutely no COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan from Trump's administration. That man ran the Presidency like his businesses--into the ground.

I really want to read the book about forgotten Black comic artists from the comic-book Golden age, "Invisible Men." There are so many ignored contributions from decades past by amazing creative forces.

When I was a young'un I loved watching, "Godzilla," movies and also enjoyed, "King Kong," flicks. The recent film versions of the characters have been pretty entertaining and I'll admit the kid within me is eager to see the, "Godzilla vs. Kong," movie that will be in theaters and on HBO MAX in March.

Ta-Nehisi Coates began his current run on, "Captain America," with a plotline featuring domestic terrorists attacking the Nation's capital. It seemed like a far-fetched idea when the run started more than a year ago, but now here we are, because this article points out, "This is Who We Are."

As someone who loves anthropology, I was fascinated by this piece discussing Jewish Americans and their relationship with Crisco, of all things.

Wishing for a Great 2021

I hope everyone has had a decent 2021 so far and that it only gets better!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Endpaper Entertainment is the Newest Comic Publisher to Emerge on the Scene

The last couple of years have seen a number of promising new publishers emerge on the scene. You've got AWA, Bad Idea, and others I'm sure I am forgetting. Now, a bunch of comic industry pros have gotten together and formed Endpaper Entertainment. They have plans to "...develop content and properties for multiple media platforms and genres, including film, TV, comics, prose, audio, gaming, and merchandise. Genres are similarly wide, from mystery to SF to YA." A new publisher isn't always that notable, but one member of the executive team caught my eye for a very specific reason that makes me think Endpaper could have some legs. That name? James Killen

There was a point where James Killen was arguably one of the more powerful people in the comic-book publishing market because he was Barnes & Noble’s buyer for science fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, and games. If your comic publisher was hoping to get the trade paperback of your comic into the last big bookstore chain, Killen was who you talked to. Now, he was laid-off from the position when Barnes and Noble did a business restructuring a year or so ago, but here is now, with a ton of connections and industry knowledge about how to get a comic-book paperback or hardcover into major bookstores. 

Killen maybe doesn't have too much insider knowledge for floppies, but any collections or original graphic novels are sure to benefit from the multitude of people he knows from years of experience. There are other execs and veterans here, but seeing Killen's name makes me think Endpaper Entertainment could grow into a force to be reckoned with. You never know.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Can We Take a Breath Now?

Joseph R. Biden is now our 46th President. Donald Trump was the worst President ever, by far. Our country was a mess due to Trump and then a pandemic came and made everything even worse. Now Biden is our President and Kamala Harris is our VP. The inauguration was today and America has survived the last 4 years. It wasn't easy between the pandemic, the domestic terrorists invading the capital, and thing after thing Trump and his cronies did, but we made it through. Things won't get completely better overnight, but with 99.9% confidence, I will say they won't keep getting worse. I just want to know, are things going to finally be a little less crazy? Can we take a breath now? I'd really like that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Television Tuesday: Call Me Kat

This show has been absolutely ravaged by critics. I can see why as it is kind of corny, dated, and the way Mayim Bialik breaks the 4th wall constantly to talk to us--the audience--is a little jarring. That said, I moderately enjoyed the first three episodes my wife and I watched. Now, yes, the first episode/pilot is pretty bleak. However, I have often said you can't judge a show by its pilot, and that holds true here. 

Mayim Bialik plays a woman named Kat who is 39 (the show often brings-up her age), single, and spent her savings to open a cat cafe stocked with wacky employees (Leslie Jordan is always a funny fellow). An old college crush has moved back into town and works at a bar across the street from her cafe, her mother is an overbearing mess, and all of this combines to create kinda-funny-but-really-formulaic shenanigans. I didn't hate it.

Bialik is a skilled actress whether she's playing things more deadpan or doing slapstick and the entire supporting cast is really trying their hardest too. There is the occasional joke with a nice bit of edge to keep viewers from getting too complacent and if you like cats there are in full supply too--Bialik's character owns a cat cafe, after all. It's inoffensive fun and there are worse ways to pass a half-hour.

"Call Me Kat," seems like the kind of show that either is going to last one season and quickly be forgotten or inexplicably develop a dedicated following and go on for years upon years. Whether it will totally bomb or manage to survive for a while depends on if enough viewers like Bialik's and/or cats enough to give this a chance and stick with it. Without Bialik I'm not sure the show would even have the slightest chance, but she brings the chops that make this watchable. I didn't love it, but as I said, I didn't hate it.

3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 18, 2021

MLK Day 2021. A Tumultuous Time

In some ways, the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. seems more distant than ever these days. There is so much racism, hatred, anger, and towards the end of his life, he also was a big proponent of fair wages and medical care for all--something that also remains weirdly controversial as many protest creating a liveable minimum wage. Marting Luther King Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929. The National Holiday in his honor always falls upon the third Monday of January every year. 

In the year 2021, within America, things are a mess politically, socially, spiritually--you name it, things are bad. That does not mean we should stop believing in a beautiful future of unity and love, it simply is more and more apparent we will have to work for it with all our might.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

We've Been Enjoying EveryPlate

We've tried meal kits at various points. Hello Fresh wasn't bad, but the meals could be a little elaborate with a great deal of prepping and such. Plus it was a little costly. Then we heard about EveryPlate, which is pretty cheap, easy to prepare, and still healthy. We actually recently learned it is owned by Hello Fresh as a lower-cost option (kind of like how the same company owns Old Navy, Gap, and Banana Republic). Anyway, we've been doing EveryPlate for a few weeks now and it has been good!

We've had gnocchi with pork sausage, Tuscan chicken with noodles, stuffed pork burgers, a potato chowder, black bean stew, and some tasty pork chops as well as other items. Preparing food at home is known to be better healthwise than eating out a lot and I actually saw a nutritionist a bit ago to discuss better eating. We talked about calorie-counting and eating less processed foods prepared at home. 

A chicken and rice bowl we made with EveryPlate.

I've been paying attention to calories since then and find myself astounded how a muffin from a restaurant I like can have as many calories as a whole meal from EveryPlate. I've also been trying to cut-out soda as well. Every Plate has been handy for watching what I eat while not being too crazy with over-the-top meals that take forever to prepare. Samii and I have enjoyed EveryPlate and plan to keep at it!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Time to Share The Comic Book Presser's Latest Stellar Work!

If you ever need your comics pressed and put through the process known as dry-cleaning, I have one person I always recommend: The Comic Book Presser AKA Chris. Anytime I acquire some comics that I want graded I send them to Chris before they go to CGC/CBCS so he can work his magic. I bought a collection some months ago and loved the variant cover for, "Wolverine," #315. It featured X-23 in a pink outfit to raise awareness about breast cancer with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I wasn't sure how it would grade, so I sent it to Chris to make sure it was as crisp and clean as possible. Then he can send stuff to CGC or CBCS for you so I had him do that. It came back a 9.8--generally the best grade to be expected as almost nothing is given a 9.9 or 10.0 by CGC.

I eagerly recommend Chris to anyone who needs their comics pressed or cleaned. Old comics, new comics, he tackles them all with gusto and skill. I know I'm going to continue submitting books to him as I keep buying, selling, and trading!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Flashback Friday: "Swordfish," Was a Fun Movie, Regardless What Haters Say

You ever remember a movie not because of the plot but because of how great the actors in it were acting-out a story that admittedly was a mess? That's me with, "Swordfish." The, "Story," as it were involves an old government slush fund that a crazy guy (John Travolta) needs a skilled hacker (Hugh Jackman) to break into, yet at some point they also go and hold-up a bank, as we see when the movie opens 3/4th into the flick, before flashing back to the beginning, and then building-up to the 3/4th spot and jumping into the last fourth. Yeah, "Memento," thought it was clever going in reverse? This movie jumps all around in time! Plus, there is Halle Berry as Travolta's parter-in-crime as well as life--and we see her boobs! Halle Berry's boobs in a movie not as depressing as, "Monter's Ball," are always a welcome addition. Seriously, "Monster's Ball," is the second most depressing movie ever with, "Monster," in the title--the winner is simply, "Monster," with Charlize Theron, in case you wondered. Oh, Don Cheadle is an FBI agent in this too, and he's always a treat on the screen. 

"Swordfish," has a plot that makes almost no sense, but it is loaded with action, has Travolta doing his usual over-the-top thing with weird monologues about movies that wouldn't be out of place in a Tartino flick, a pre-Wolverine Hugh Jackman being delightfully understated, it is fun! Oh, and there is a bus that gets carried by a helicopter whilst loaded with people from the bank who are equipped with explosives that cause them to blow-up if they get too far from the bus because this movie literally has everything except coherence. Keep in mind this is 2001 when, "Swordfish," came out too, so you know all the stuff dealing with hacking and, "Cyberspace," is really silly and unrealistic because people in 2021 still don't understand hacking and two decades ago it was really foreign to folks!

A helicopter carries a bus full of people rigged to explode if they happen to fall out.
This movie is beautifully insane.

Based on my post's title you already know that, "Swordfish," has bad reviews. Terrible, reviews, frankly. It sits at a wretched 25% on Rotten Tomatoes and people who rent or stream it years later still feel an urge to post negative reviews on websites these days. Forget the haters, though, this movie is awesome if you come into expecting a spectacle and are willing to not think too hard about the plot. I loved this movie so much I've watched it with all the commentaries with the cast who could best be described as, "Vaguely bemused, mostly bored," when offering their thoughts. I have viewed the many alternate endings that change little about the actual flick. I am all-in on, "Swordfish," damnit, and I still couldn't explain the plot to you without seeming like that meme of Charlie Day from, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," where he looks crazy trying to break-down a conspiracy.

"Swordfish," is not necessarily a good movie, but it is a fun one. Between the great cast, special effects, and general weirdness of the movie jumping-around in time in a manner to seem clever even if it only confuses us more, I love this flick. It is very dumb, yes, but sometimes we just need something entertainingly stupid in our lives.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Cryptocurrency Still Isn't a Risk I'd Take

Back on Christmas Eve of 2017, I expressed my hesitancy about cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Digital money that doesn't, "Exist," in a physical sense and has no assets to back it up results in something highly volatile. As Medium observed in a new article by James Surowiecki, "The Bitcoin Dream Is Dead." At least, it is in the sense of one aspect. People aren't actually using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies to actually buy and sell things. They simply buy and sell the cryptocurrency itself and hoard it like an asset. Bitcoin is treated more like gold these days in that it is bought and held--the difference being gold is an actual thing you can hold with a real value--cryptocurrency just kinda-sorta exists. 

Bitcoin is always volatile, reaching new highs and then crashing down double digits of percentage points. Other cryptocurrency options exist that maybe are better for buying and selling actual goods, but they lack as much popularity. Even though more and more apps are making it possible to invest in these digital monies (PayPal has added features, for example), I still just don't trust cryptocurrency as an investment. It all just still seems like a house of cards that could collapse someday without warning for those who didn't sell their cryptocurrency assets in time for actual cash. Plus, good luck if you ever forget your password to access your money.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Prevent Accidental Purchases and Always Make Sure You Have Parental Controls Activated On Your Digital Devices

It's another occasion where I should have listened to my wife to save myself a lot of trouble. You see, we have a Kindle (the Amazon tablet) we let our son play with sometimes. He enjoys watching the apps with songs and fun little games. Some of those videos are on the Prime Video app and Clarkson has gotten pretty good at navigating it to see the things free with Prime like the videos by, "Maple Leaf Learning." My wife had said to me at certain points that we should make sure he can't buy anything. I said I was pretty sure there was a password in place or some kind of confirmation that had to be done he wouldn't be able to complete. I was wrong.

Today I was in the kitchen preparing some lunch while Clarkson sat on a chair in the nearby dining room when my phone lit-up and informed me I had spent $19.99 on Prime Video. Then I suddenly heard, "Fancy Nancy," coming from his Kindle. I wondered if maybe, just maybe, he wasn't on Youtube watching clips or Disney+ and in fact had bought something. I checked and sure enough, Clarkson had bought the first season/volume of, "Fancy Nancy." I felt quite stupid based on all the times I'd reassured Samii he couldn't possibly be able to buy anything.

Now, if you purchase a digital item by accident and want to cancel it you can--hurray! It just has to be within 48 hours of purchase and you cannot have watched any of it...and Clarkson had watched maybe 30 seconds to a minute of, "Fancy Nancy," meaning I lacked the option to cancel my purchase. Samii suggested I call Amazon and explain the issue, however, so I rang-up customer service. After getting through an automated menu I explained everything that happened to a customer service associate named Emily. She was very understanding and let me cancel the digital purchase as it was the first time such a thing had occurred and less than a minute had been watched. It was relatively painless, all things considered.

The moral of this story is to not be like me and instead to always make sure you have parental controls activated on any digital devices your children may use so as to prevent unwanted purchases. My story has a happy ending where I was able to cancel the purchase, but things working-out is never guaranteed. Always have safeguards in place.